Friday, 07 March 2014
Author / Source: KAZI ANWARUL MASUD
The OIC Secretary General Iyad Madani described the move as “a dangerous and unprecedented step that comes as part of Israel’s racist policy … aiming to Judaise Jerusalem.
“Urging world action against Israel, Madani warned that “this dangerous escalation provokes the feelings of the whole Muslim nation”. On 27th February Amnesty International published a report that described Israeli soldiers as “trigger happy” and accused Israel of “war crimes and other serious violations of international law” against Palestinians. The report notes that more Palestinians living in the West Bank had been killed last year than in 2012 and 2011 combined, and that more than 8,000 Palestinians – including 1,500 children – have been wounded by rubber bullets and tear gas since 2011. Amnesty International report added that “the frequency and persistence of arbitrary and abusive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and police officers- and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators – suggests that it is carried out as a matter of policy”.
Since 1967 war in which the Arabs were decisively defeated by Israelis resulting in the conquest of vast tracts of Arab land the world has been trying to bring about peace in an area that defy compromise between the Israel conquerors and conquered Arabs. Subsequent peace with Egypt at Camp David with the return of Sinai and with Jordan have yet to result in an enduring peace between Israel and Palestine.
The impasse has been possible because of the unflinching support by the West to Israel, particularly by the US, based on religious belief held by a number of Christians in the inherent right of the Jews to the Promised land that would make possible the second coming of Jesus, excessive power wielded by the Jewish lobby in the US, success by the neo-cons to direct US policy in the Middle East in accord with that of Israel and contrary to the interest of the US itself, among other reasons.
Leonard Fien in an article in the Dissent magazine( Spring 2008- Reflections of a sometime Israeli lobbyist) quoted Nadav Safran’s ( a distinguished professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard) book, published in 1963, titled The United States and Israel in which he wrote “I believe that fundamentally both Arabs and Jews have an unassailable moral argument. A person who cannot see how this is possible does not understand the essence of tragedy; much less does he realize that his position serves only to assure that the Palestine tragedy should have another sequel, and yet another.”
Leonard Fein finds Safran as prescient. “Exclusivists on both sides of the conflict have indeed brought on sequel after sequel, by now an ongoing calamity. It matters not at all which set of exclusivists is the more to blame, which less. What matters is that together they’ve come to own the crowded stage. There’s Hamas, of course, in a class by itself. There are the settlers and their avid defenders. There are a handful of hard-line American Jewish organizations”. But there are also others who find the Jewish state as racist, militaristic and an anachronism in the modern world.
Professors John Meirsheimer and Stephen Walt’s book on Israeli lobby and the US foreign policy details the reasons for the failure of the Western powers that lie in the ability of some US officials in tailoring the US policy suiting Israeli indefensible acts of repressions and in total disregard of global voice-both of the Islamic world and non-Muslim countries.
Of the Israeli lobby they observed that “no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical”. Since the Second World War Israel has received $ 140 billion as aid and the only recipient state that does not have to account for the money spent though Israel is now a wealthy country with per capita income equal to Spain or South Korea.
Israel has been given access to the US intelligence denied to NATO allies. Besides the US has turned a blind eye to Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.
The US also extends diplomatic support to Israel. Meirsheimer and Walt point out that ” Since 1982, the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members. It blocks the efforts of Arab states to put Israel’s nuclear arsenal on the IAEA’s agenda. The US comes to the rescue in wartime and takes Israel’s side when negotiating peace…… This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for US backing. But neither explanation is convincing.”.
In October 1973, Arab members of OPEC, in response to the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, raised the posted price of crude by 70% and placed an embargo on exports to the U.S. and other nations allied with Israel. Israel proved a burden to the West as it did during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the Gulf war, and at the time of the invasion of Iraq.
The bulk of the Jews and the Israelis draw from the Hitler period the conviction that, in this world, when threatened one must be prepared to kill or be killed. The Arabs draw from the Algerian conflict the conviction that, even in dealing with so rational and civilized a people as the French, liberation was made possible only by resorting to the gun and the knife. Both Israeli and Arabs in other words feel that only force can assure justice.
In this they agree, and this sets them on a collision course. For the Jews believe justice requires the recognition of Israel as a fact; for the Arabs, to recognize the fact is to acquiesce in the wrong done them by the conquest of Palestine”. Stone adds ” IN BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE the Jews have been going in and out of Palestine for 3,000 years. They came down from the Euphrates under Abraham; returned from Egypt under Moses and Joshua; came back again from the Babylonian captivity and were dispersed again after Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 70 A.D. This is the third return.
The Arabs feel they have a superior claim because they stayed put”. He captured the disappointment of the global Jewry( not allied with the Jewish lobby) by the following words ” Israel is creating a kind of moral schizophrenia in world Jewry. In the outside world the welfare of Jewry depends on the maintenance of secular, non-racial, pluralistic societies. In Israel, Jewry finds itself defending a society in which mixed marriages cannot be legalized, in which non-Jews have a lesser status than Jews, and in which the ideal is racial and exclusionist. Jews must fight elsewhere for their very security and existence—against principles and practices they find themselves defending in Israel. Those from the outside world, even in their moments of greatest enthusiasm amid Israel’s accomplishments, feel twinges of claustrophobia, not just geographical but spiritual. Those caught up in Prophetic fervor soon begin to feel that the light they hoped to see out of Zion is only that of another narrow nationalism”.
This was most recently demonstrated by a group of Israeli parliamentarians in their meeting with the American ambassador in Israel in which they vented their anger at the US and declared that any framework agreement( reportedly being prepared by John Kerry for which Benjamin Netanyahu is flying to the US) that talks about the 1967 lines or includes the evacuation of settlements or giving up sovereignty in Judea and Samaria [the biblical name for the West Bank] and Jerusalem will lead to the fall of the current government.
They dismissed the chances of a peace agreement, saying there was no “real possibility of bridging the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians and no majority in Likud for a plan containing a division of the land”. Israel is demanding that it retain a presence in the Jordan Valley, a strategic part of the West bank that is home to around 4,500 Jewish settlers, after a peace deal, citing security concerns. Daniel Shapiro, who has been US ambassador since 2011, said he understood the Jewish people’s historic ties to the land of Israel, but added: “The problem is that there is another people here as well and the public in Israel understands that there are two peoples here who cannot live together.”
In the ultimate analysis the hawks in Israel and elsewhere have to understand that the Jews cannot forever remain an exile community as an existential condition though they have land that they have forcibly occupied and then conquered. Israel cannot deny the Palestinians a state to which they are entitled and the international community, particularly the US, has an obligation to make it happen. Otherwise the region and the world will remain destabilized giving opportunity to the terrorists a weapon to further their goals unwelcomed by the civilized world.
The writer is a former Secretary and ambassador