By Iqbal Jassat – Pretoria
Israel is in the throes of an intense debate about its identity and future. Failure by the Olmert regime to dislodge Hamas from the Gaza and itself being replaced by rightwing zealots under Benjamin Netanyahu are recent symptoms of deep-seated malaise in the body politic of the Zionist regime.
New emerging trends reveal that all is not kosher in the Jewish state. Craving for recognition and acceptance from its former foes in the so-called “moderate” Arab world, yet ironically, Israel seems hell bent on continuing to commit major blunders in conflict with its desire to “normalize” ties.
Two such flaws have evidently become global talking points: the refusal by Netanyahu to endorse a “two-state” solution and stubbornly continuing expansionist settlements.
These have not only earned Israel a public rebuke from Barack Obama when he addressed a global audience from Cairo in a landmark speech to reach out to the Muslim world, they have potentially placed the Zionist state on a collision course with America.
Latest reports indicate that the European Union is seriously considering using its trade clout with Israel to bolster US pressure. An option it has is to crack down on fruit, vegetables, olive oil and other produce grown by Jewish settlers on stolen Palestinian land. It is well known, though usually ignored, that such products are entering the EU at low import tariffs reserved for output labeled as coming from what is described as Israel “proper”.
As the row begins to grow between Israel and its erstwhile allies in Europe and America, the discredited legacy of the Bush administration still haunts the current narrative. Reuters reports that in Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hit back hard at comments by a senior Israeli negotiator who said Obama’s predecessor, George Bush, had privately agreed to the expansion of settlements.
Israeli dilemma flows from a calculated determination to alert the world to the so-called existential threat it believes Iran poses, while refusing to accept that preserving the occupation dooms its existence.
MJ Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum observes that the two options available to Israel are to either grant the Occupied Palestinians the ballot or to deny the vote. Both scenarios entail the end of the Zionist enterprise.
A third alternative being advocated by neoconservatives and some leading right-wing Israelis is known as the “three-state solution” or the “Jordanian option”. It seems to have been pulled out of Verwoerd’s files on “Bantustans: A Grand Scheme to render Blacks Invisible”. Not surprisingly, the Heritage Foundation, arguably Washington’s most prominent conservative think tank, hosted a conference devoted to alternatives to the two-state solution.
According to Daniel Luban the Heritage event, which was sponsored by right-wing US casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, came two weeks after right-of-center Israeli parties hosted a similar conference in Jerusalem. Senator Sam Brownback, a prominent Kansas Republican who ran for president in 2008, was the keynote speaker.
This scheme involves that Palestinians be made citizens of Jordan, allowing Israel to keep the occupied land but not the people. Despite sounding Verwoerdian or in the words of George Washington University’s Marc Lynch a “zombie idea”, the sudden flood of events and discussions suggests that variations on the three-state approach are becoming more, not less, popular on the US right, according to Luban.
Obama’s speech delivered in Cairo, a day after the Heritage conference, contained an affirmation of the two-state solution and firm resolve not to accept the settlements. In addition, his offer to talk to the Islamic Republic of Iran – without any pre-conditions – signals yet another rebuttal of the Israeli government’s insistence that Iran is an “existential threat”.
Deep internal divisions alongside growing despair within America’s powerful pro-Israeli lobbies are characteristic of the ideological bankruptcy of the apartheid state. Its refusal to accept that the change of guard at the White House is desirous of remaining in step with a world tired of carrying colonial baggage, will lead to isolation.
– Iqbal Jassat is chairperson of the Media Review Network (MRN), an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com.