Monday, April 14, 2008

Yishar Kokheha, Amos! And God Bless You, Jimmy!

When the Jews and the Palestinians have been liberated from their respective neuroses and nightmares,

When the generation of the Six-Day War has passed,

When the only people in Israel who buy into the volkish myths of political Zionism are the religious zionists, and a few ethnocentrists from the former Soviet Union,

When no serious Israeli intellectual, or progressive intellectual in the world, falls for the Israel-as-victim line,

Then part of the responsibility will be due to the courageous publisher of Haaretz, Amos Schocken, whose newspaper has fought tirelessly to expose the moral hypocrisy, shame, and, most importantly, hard-heartedness of an apathetic Israel that reeks of moral chauvinism.

The "non-Semite" who has arguably saved more Jewish and Arab lives than any person in modern history -- Jimmy Carter, of course -- deserves much more than a Nobel peace prize.

He deserves the gratitude and respect of every single Jew and Arab in the world today.

That he is villified by most Jews can only be called, to paraphrase the orthodox Jewish philosopher, Eliezer Berkowitz (in another context). "Hitler's posthumous victory."

God bless you, Amos. God bless the person who wrote the editorial. And, zakhur le-tov, God bless the indefatigable Sol Salbe, for pointing out the editorial to me.

Please read it below or here

Our debt to Jimmy Carter

The government of Israel is boycotting Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, during his visit here this week. Ehud Olmert, who has not managed to achieve any peace agreement during his public life, and who even tried to undermine negotiations in the past, "could not find the time" to meet the American president who is a signatory to the peace agreement with Egypt. President Shimon Peres agreed to meet Carter, but made sure that he let it be known that he reprimanded his guest for wishing to meet with Khaled Meshal, as if the achievements of the Carter Center fall short of those of the Peres Center for Peace. Carter, who himself said he set out to achieve peace between Israel and Egypt from the day he assumed office, worked incessantly toward that goal and two years after becoming president succeeded - was declared persona non grata by Israel.

The boycott will not be remembered as a glorious moment in this government's history. Jimmy Carter has dedicated his life to humanitarian missions, to peace, to promoting democratic elections, and to better understanding between enemies throughout the world. Recently, he was involved in organizing the democratic elections in Nepal, following which a government will be set up that will include Maoist guerrillas who have laid down their arms. But Israelis have not liked him since he wrote the book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid."

Israel is not ready for such comparisons, even though the situation begs it. It is doubtful whether it is possible to complain when an outside observer, especially a former U.S. president who is well versed in international affairs, sees in the system of separate roads for Jews and Arabs, the lack of freedom of movement, Israel's control over Palestinian lands and their confiscation, and especially the continued settlement activity, which contravenes all promises Israel made and signed, a matter that cannot be accepted. The interim political situation in the territories has crystallized into a kind of apartheid that has been ongoing for 40 years. In Europe there is talk of the establishment of a binational state in order to overcome this anomaly. In the peace agreement with Egypt, 30 years ago, Israel agreed to "full autonomy" for the occupied territories, not to settle there.

These promises have been forgotten by Israel, but Carter remembers.

Whether Carter's approach to conflict resolution is considered by the Israeli government as appropriate or defeatist, no one can take away from the former U.S. president his international standing, nor the fact that he brought Israel and Egypt to a signed peace that has since held. Carter's method, which says that it is necessary to talk with every one, has still not proven to be any less successful than the method that calls for boycotts and air strikes. In terms of results, at the end of the day, Carter beats out any of those who ostracize him. For the peace agreement with Egypt, he deserves the respect reserved for royalty for the rest of his life.

(P.S. from Jerry -- the situation in the West Bank, of course, is not apartheid -- that is an insult to apartheid -- but much worse. At least in apartheid, black South Africans were not as restricted in movement as were the Palestinians. Both groups, of course, were considered to be culturally and morally inferior to their overlords. No, the proper word is not "apartheid", but rather, hafradah had-tzedatit, which may be roughly understood as "limiting the freedom of the untermenschen to protect the well-being of the ubermenschen")

1 comment:

Aliza said...

I dunno. I love your blog (I particularly loved your post right after this, on how to think about Pesach in the context of Palestinian oppression), but I was listening to BBC Arabic this morning and the cynical perspective I found actually quite persuasive. There is a desire to see people as heroes, but, commented the Palestinians hosted by BBC, did Carter do any better or any more justly than current administrations when he was in power? There are ways that activism can be more about the activist and his own desire for importance than about the subject at hand. I don't know, I found it compelling. And they noted that all the Palestinian hoopla is in large part traditional Arab hospitality. They have respect and kindness for visitors.. it doesn't mean they are any less suspicious of people's motives and capabilities than they should be. And they //should// be.. enough people have passed through the Daffa and ghazze with grand proclamations, gone on to tour Europe to fanfare and adulation, even got Nobel Prizes, while Palestinians sink deeper and deeper into depression about any future.

I would even agree more with your support for Amos than for Carter. Carter is something of an international celebrity, like Clinton looking for his post-presidency legacy. What did he do when he /had/ power? And when you don't have real power, maybe the only way to keep the spotlight on you is to criticize power? That's what the BBC dudes were asking, and the questions seem to hit the mark.