Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Short Takes -- Give the "Peace Process" a Rest

Here are two excellent insights into the labor zionist psyche from the Shabbat papers. The first is the opinion piece of veteran Haaretz columnist, Yoel Marcus, "It's Not All Talk." Let me describe his politics as moderate right.

Marcus's piece is to defend the "peace process," which is a magic word for most labor zionists. Against the skeptics he argues for the following points:

1. Settlements can be moved. Ariel Sharon proved that.

2. Nobody died from dialogue.

3. Talk has led to peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan.

4. Oslo established Israel's "acknowledgment in principle of the Palestinians' right to a state of their own."

5. The November summit is the "last chance" to knock out the nerve settlements of "Islamic fundamentalism."

Each point speaks volumes for the self-deception and the continual misreading of the situation by a veteran Labor zionist like Marcus. Let me take them up one by one.

1. Ariel Sharon showed that settlers can be evacuated provided that this is not part of a peace settlement, that it is done in order to strengthen other settlements, and that millions of shekels are showered on the settlers. The only way he was able to sell it to the Israeli people was to argue that this was not part of a peace deal, but a way to forestall one. Sharon was the consummate Labor zionist.

2. Each "peace process" has failed and has generated explosions of violence in which Jews and mostly Palestinians have died. The "peace process" was uniformly good for Israelis and mostly bad for the Palestinians, except for the Fatah leadership.

3. Talk led to peace with Egypt and Jordan because peace with the post-colonial Arab countries was achievable since the 1940's, as Avi Shlaim has convincingly argued. Marcus makes the same mistake that most liberal Zionists make, which is to divide the Middle East into Jews and Arabs, whereas the natural division has been between states and non-states. Marcus seems to view "Palestine" as a state on the West Bank and Gaza that Israel occupies. Israel can then swap "land for peace," as it did with Arab states. But that is not at all the situation. For Israel to make true peace with the Palestinians, it has to confront its Zionist past, that the post-1948 borders are also an occupation of Palestine, and that the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians was not from Israel, but from Palestine. Even if you don't like my description, you can agree that there is a quantum difference between making peace with the Arab countries and making peace with the Palestinians. Failure to see that led to the debacle of Camp David II.

4. Israel has never acknowledged the right of the Palestinians to their own state of Palestine. Never. Never. Never.

5. Peace is made between states, not between ruling cliques, puppets, or parties. If Marcus wants to strike a blow in the "clash of civilizations," he should urge Mr. Olmert to negotiate officially with the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people, including Hamas. Yossi Beilin realizes this, and I hope that most people who read this blog also realize this. It has certainly been confirmed by the foreign policy failures of the Bush administration.

I agree with Marcus on one point. He writes:

"Olmert has the last installment of the Winograd Committee report looming over him, along with a slew of criminal investigations and the possibility of a violent confrontation with the settlers - three threats that could bring him down. Focusing on peace could be his lifeline."

That certainly lets the cat of the bag. Israelis aren't prepared to make the hard decisions that will bring peace with the Palestinians -- I have lived here for thirty years, and it has only gotten worse -- but the center and the left are willing to reap the material benefits of the "peace process".

As for the second insight into the labor zionist psyche, read the interview with Ehud Barak, "No Peace with Palestinians Imminent" An older but wiser Barak sees no different between Fatah and Hamas, does not want to offer any confidence-building measures, and basically says what Israel always says -- let Abu Mazen prove that he is serious, and then, if he is good, we will let him have a state.

Ah, back to Barak's "generous offer..."

Just think what Ben-Gurion would have said to the British or the UN, if they had made a Jewish state contingent on the good behavior of the Zionists to the Arabs!

Shabbat Shalom,


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