Israel/Palestine - a Reasonable perspective.
Might makes right.
It sucks, but that's the way the world turns. Eventually. The first big wave of immigrants from Europe to North America did it to the Native Americans. European countries' borders are less a determination based on ethnic and linguistic boundaries than a result of wars, stalemates, naturally defensible barriers and the kind of Realpolitik backroom deals that today's humane, liberal arts-educated Europeans so abhor.
Islam expanded first via wars of bloody, cruel conquest under the Umayyad Caliphate etc. Christian fundamentalists, nutheads, disaffected and various opportunist warmongers made the Crusades into murderous exercises in ethnic and religious cleansing that somehow managed to go down in European history as just, noble and honourable wars of idealism and liberation. The Arabs and assorted other peoples living in the areas have a slightly different folk history about said events. What the Europeans did to Central, North and South America - as well as Africa and the Far East - is well documented. The people who were living there weren't exactly happy about it, but were killed off (diseases etc) and eventually assimilated into the new orders.
Little wonder then, that the people who founded Israel should try to do the same thing in the region where they had historic and religious ties. The people living in Palestine at the time got pushed aside or killed or just plain couldn't compete with the new invaders. In the half century since, the strategy of the architects of Israel has been to deny and delay any sort of reckoning with the refugees' "Right of Return". Jews were forced to live in ghettoes in Europe before and during the Jewish holocaust (please don't speak of "the Holocaust" and infer that the Jewish people are alone in ever having been treated that way). Native Americans to this day are kept on reservations. Indigenous people the world over are or have been shunted aside by invading, vibrant, dynamic folk-groups with a penchant for war, rules, property law and advanced weaponry. The Europeans were able to buy land from the Native Americans for trinkets and beads since the indigenous people were largely nomadic and thought the idea of a human "owning" a piece of land was rather silly.
"Sure, white-face, you can stay here by the river and pay me for land that doesn't 'belong' to anyone. There's plenty of it, ha ha. Silly white-face."
Only there turned out to be a lot more of the immigrants, with a lot more firepower and dirty tricks and laws and rules and professional armies.
So what's this got to do with Israel and Palestine? The educated, liberal classes of Europe and North America like to think that everything can be solved with courts and international treaties and mutual respect and negotiations and precedents and arguments in front of a court or at an international meeting of heads of state. Yet we forget that all our laws and United Nations were founded on violence and bloody conquest. ...Which sounds like I'm arguing for letting Israel have its way with the territories under its military control. Nope.
To start: there's plenty of bad guys to go around. Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza. Hamas and Hezbollah and similar terrorist organizations THAT DELIBERATELY TARGET CIVILIANS. Foreign powers, Syria and Iran in particular - but the rest of the Arab world as well, that financially support these organizations. People in the US and especially on Capitol Hill that write blank checks to Israel every year, checks that are cashed and promotes the settlements - settlements here defined as ANYTHING BEYOND THE 1967 BORDERS. Including ethnic/religious cleansing in Eastern Jerusalem. Not to mention the way Israel's 20% Arab minority is treated (see various Human Rights Watch publications etc, the fact that they're exempt from military service etc). Don't forget the idiots on the fringes of the American far right fundamentalist Christians, that see the Bible as "the one true word of God" and the Jews as "His Chosen People" - and thus consider anything that stands between the Jews and "The Promised Land" as ripe cannon fodder, sub-human filth fit only to be turned to confetti in a hail of machine-gun fire.
So there's no good guys here in this conflict? Sure there is - the IDF, Shin Bet and Mossad are doing a great job at keeping Israel's enemies at bay. The Israelis that DON'T support the settlers. The Israelis that try to help their non-Jewish neighbours. The Israelis that support the rights of refugees to return to places where they used to live.
So what's the solution? Short answer: time. Fifty to a hundred years so that a new generation can grow up less interested in wars and ethnic/religious apartheid than they are in the latest global music craze, latest fad, latest internet celebrity or whatever.
Long answer: follow the money. Stop the flow of money to Hamas, Hezbollah and the settlers. The amount of money flowing from American taxpayers to support Israel, no matter how it helps them keep their neighbours under lock and key, is just staggering. $2.62 billion in 2004. A lot of that money is aimed at legit, peaceful purposes - or help Israel keep some of their more bloodthirsty neighbours like Syria and Hezbollah in check. But it also frees up money that can now be used to support causes which many Americans, if they knew about it, would not support. Such as subsidizing religiously or ethnically exclusive Jewish-only settlements deep inside Gaza or the West Bank. Such as building a wall (good idea) mostly inside territory that no international organization sees as Israel's (bad idea, don't build your fence on your neighbours' property).
1. Stop the flow of American money to Israel until they either make a comprehensive peace settlement or withdraw the settlers that they helped put beyond the 1967 borders.
BUT THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE WE CAN'T DO THAT WAAAAAAAAHAAAA!
You put the settlements there, you can remove them. You paid for their construction, and the construction of Jewish-only roads (or rather, roads that only benefit Jewish settlements) and infrastructure. You can pay to re-re-settle these people inside your own borders. Hey - there's a thought! How about YOU keep YOUR civilians from building stuff outside the recognized borders of YOUR own country!?
In return for that I'd like to guarantee your country's security. If you're invaded then I, as an American military professional, would be more than happy to come help defend you. As long as you stay inside your 1967 borders. I have no problems whatsoever with the IDF and Mossad running operations in the Occupied Territories in the meantime, but I do want you to keep your civilians and religious fanatics out of there. We don't let American civilians build American-only religious settlements in Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Our stated objectives with those invasions were to get the hell out of there as soon as possible. You letting sillyvilians in on the whole mess just further anchors you and your military to that area - which was pretty much the point of the people doing it, now - am I right?
In the meantime your periodic invasions of Lebanon, your continued insistence that "Judea" and "Samaria" are God's Promised Land to "God's Chosen People" and the deepening roots of the settlers in those occupied territories - IS JUST A GIGANTIC RECRUITING POSTER FOR AL-QAEDA, Al-Jazeera, Iran's fanatical religious right and associated anti-American groups. I'm sick of my friends dying for Israel. I do not want to be involved in defending your apartheid-ish actions with regards to your immediate neighbours living in poverty and penury under your heel. What the Nazis did to your people does not make you special and give you carte blanche to keep the people in Palestine who don't look like you, talk like you and pray like you in these ghettoes surrounded by walls and barbed wire. You are not the one true God's chosen people. You are not the only unique and beautiful snowflake. You are not entitled to do as you please with the people who lived in Palestine before you showed up. Not that the Jewish people in and out Palestine hadn't been discriminated against plenty in history - no doubt about that. Get over yourselves. Get back behind your borders. Then if your neighbours attack you again, by all means, go kick some butt and kill a bunch of people - I couldn't care less.
All the above sounds pretty anti-Israeli, and if this was publicly published I have no doubt I'd be accused and labeled an Anti-Semite pretty quickly. In my humble opinion no ethnic group or religion is any more special than the other ethnic group or religion - barring the "suicide cult" people ...they truly are "special" - but not in a good way "special". Short bus special, more like it. Israel is surrounded by autocratic dictatorships were individual freedoms are not recognized. Egypt has had the same supposedly "elected" leader for how many years now? Syria, Lebanon, Jordan etc all have their problems. Good luck trying to start a free, independent newspaper in THOSE countries. Israel is a shining example of liberte, egalite, fraternite in comparison. Which still doesn't excuse how you've been treating the Palestinians. Women and gays and minorities are treated much better in Israel overall than they are in the surrounding countries. Good on you. Now stop beating up on Gazans. Stop letting your civilian idiots build communities that your vaunted IDF then finds itself ordered to defend. If I was in charge you'd get no more money til you put that part of your house in order.
...Follow that money and it leads to Capitol Hill. AIPAC. Northeastern United States. New York. Politics. Oh my god - the Jews control everything!
...No, not really. It's just a factor of how some well-organized special interest groups function in symbiosis with the American political system, a system that needs money to keep getting elected. That needs votes. That rewards consistent, long-term collusion and organization by individuals and entities that share a common bond or interest. Such as the American agri-business industry (let's not call them farmers, shall we - the vast majority of American farm-land is controlled by large business corporations). Such as the American defense industry. Such as the Arab oil interests. Such as the Jewish diaspora. Such as the European farmers and workers unions (oh god, that Common Agricultural Policy is still one of the worst cases of market-distorting anti-African/anti-South American piece of protectionism in the history of the planet). Jewish people are generally good people. They're also somewhat highly educated compared to other ethnic groups world-wide. And organized. And share a horrible history of exclusion, persecution and discrimination. No wonder that they argue amongst themselves incessantly, yet pull together in a united front whenever confronted with an outsider enemy.
So, what do we do now?
Follow the money, Mr. President. Follow the money. Stop the cash going to the settlers. That puts us (that puts US, the U.S.) back in a proper relationship with our dictatorship friends in the Arabian Peninsula and elsewhere. Marginalize the ubiquitous conspiracy theorists in the Arab world - idiots who are so mainstream precisely BECAUSE their own newspapers and media in THEIR countries are so tightly controlled and state-managed. Marginalize the moral ground of the Taleban, various Pakistani idiots, al-Qaeda, the anti-Americans in charge of Al-Jazeera etc.
Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. Plus you don't want to listen to me anyway - I'm an Anti-Semite, remember? And an Anti-Arab oppressor. And an Anti-Iranian Theocracy agitator. Yep, I'm all those things and more. I'm also Equal Opportunity, or at least I try to be.
Posted by Swede at 16:47