Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Just imagine...

Imagine a President with the courage to insist that Israelis stop colonizing Palestinian territory? Dwight Eisenhower last imposed such constraints on Israel in 1956, withholding financial support until her army evacuated the Sinai. If not impeached by Congress, such a president could apply pressure for a peace treaty with both Palestinians and the surrounding Arab states (offered most recently in 2002). Return of Israel to its pre-1967 borders, evacuation of housing built (for Jews only) in the occupied territories, removal of housing restrictions in East Jerusalem, dismantling of the “Matrix of Control” (Jeff Halper’s phrase)? Even allowing Arabs to travel any road in the West Bank? Yes, and free access to the Old City by Israeli and Palestinian, Jew, Christian and Muslim?

It could mean the end of suicide bombers, for the humiliation leading to such desperate acts will have ended. It could mean the end of Israeli soldiers shooting children for playing too near a guard post. It could mean the return of humanity to an occupation force progressively losing its moral bearings. It could mean the end of the 50-70% unemployment rate in the Occupied Territories leading to despair and hatred. So many opportunities for healing, if no other option was available.

The First Intifada was largely non-violent, and the first Palestinian suicide bomber didn’t act until Dr. Bernard Goldstein had massacred Muslims at prayer in Hebron. America would be praised in every Arab and Muslim capital of the world, and enjoy the good will of virtually every nation of the world. The National Threat Advisory Level could go down to GREEN! Even Israel might be grateful, having been extracted from the endless cycle of attack and reprisal from which she seems unable to extricate herself. The best advocates for peace now say they need such an imposition from the outside, the state being unable to make it happen for itself.

Yes, those longing for a “Greater Israel” would be furious—more than when they were evicted from Gaza which created a “free fire” zone. But the large number of Israelis who sincerely want peace rather than empire, would embrace such an action. Some might feel their autonomy interfered with, but that autonomy has been secured with the virtual imprisonment (and humiliation) of the Palestinian population. Moreover, Israelis would enjoy even greater autonomy within truly secure borders.
Yes, hostile feelings would still be present amongst both Israelis and Palestinians. Yes, the refugee problem would still need to be negotiated. But many countries would help to provide incentives to settle those who wish to move, and Palestine could absorb some more. Israel would need to absorb some, actually accepting responsibility for creating the problem.

David Ben Gurion committed to a “Greater Israel” in 1956, whose limits would be those of the kingdoms of David and Solomon. Moshe Dayan and other Israeli leaders have subsequently espoused such an expansionist policy—those receiving less publicity even hoping for the borders listed in Genesis 15—from Turkey in the North to the Nile in the South, from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates. These ambitions condemn the Israeli people and the Palestinians, indeed the whole region, to perpetual conflict.

The alternative to a just peace is the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population currently in process and the apartheid which currently exists (as stated by Israeli authors as well as Jimmy Carter), with perpetual enmity between Israel and her neighbors, and perpetual hatred of the United States (Israel’s patron and protector in the U.N.) whose weaponry now litters southern Lebanon and Gaza and whose Caterpillar militarized bulldozers are daily destroying the housing of Palestinians. Termination of the “occupation” would serve the interests of everyone committed to peace rather than to “Greater Israel”.


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