Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ah the blatant cynicism of Israeli leadership

Check out this article (text at end of this post in case the article disappears):

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090122/ts_nm/us_palestinians_israel_swap_1

I find it somewhat astonishing....here's what struck me:

** One of the main justifications that Hamas used to resume its rocket attacks is that Israel violated the truce the whole way through by not relaxing the blockade and allowing Gazans economic freedom and growth so they could live normal lives.

** One of the main aims of the latest awful attack on Gaza was to decimate Hamas leadership.

** Then Israel unilaterally calls an end to its hostilities, clearly driven by the desire to not have an active war going on as Obama is inaugurated. Plus its attacks on civilians, civilian infrastructure and THE UNITED NATIONS became so blatant and revolting that even Israel could not withstand the international condemnation.

** Now they refuse to relax the blockade for anything but minimal flow of humanitarian aid (all agencies complain that they cannot get what is needed into the strip) until Shalit is released!

** And it looks like they are agreeing to release 450 "senior militants" of Hamas, previously they had balked at this.

So...they find yet other ways to continue to collectively punish all Palestinians in Gaza, which strengthens Hamas and weakens Abbas. And they will now send back into Gaza a previous generation of leadership of Hamas, that will now step forth and become the NEW generation of leaders.

Isn't this just insane? Is there any reason to really honestly believe that the Israeli government and military is interested in anything but keeping this conflict going?

After spending years (from 2001 to 2007) working obsessively on this issue (Not In My Name, Junity, Refuser Solidarity Network), I have come to the following conclusion:

If you want to try to predict what will happen next in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, then just imagine the worst possible scenario. That is almost certainly what will unfold. So here is my prediction:

Israel wants to make life so horrible for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip (effective imprisonment through military blockade and deprivation of 1.5 million people) and West Bank (effective imprisonment through the "Security Wall" and endless stealing of their land through "settlement" expansion) that some small, but growing number of Israeli Palestinian citizens will choose (feel driven to) violence (suicide bombings) to protest.

Then Israeli Jews can claim that they tried everything, but even their own fellow citizens who are Arabs will not let them live in peace. And then the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from within the current boundaries of Israel may commence - thereby ensuring the "Jewish democratic majority" (ah, the oxymoronsn!) of Israel.

Well, I sure am ranting today, so I will finish it off with this:

I believe that the greatest existential threat to the State of Israel comes from the Ameerican Jewish community, whose leaders and organized constituents treat Israel as a kind of Golden Calf, idolizing it and serving as apologists for it, no matter how awful its actions.

And this blind support for Israel will allow it to dig itself into a deeper and deeper hole, until it becomes a true pariah state. Hey, but at least it will be "Jewish."

TEXT OF YAHOO ARTICLE

After Gaza war, Israel sees Hamas prisoner swap

By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) After battering Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Israel now hopes to push through a prisoner swap to retrieve a soldier held by the Palestinians since 2006, Israeli officials said Thursday.

They said Israel was conditioning any lifting of its Gaza blockade on immediate progress in Egyptian efforts to free Gilad Shalit, and would be willing to relax its objections to a list of Palestinian prisoners which Hamas wants released in exchange.

The Islamists demand amnesty for 1,400 inmates, including 450 senior militants. Israel long balked over the latter group, saying their release would sap Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's peace strategies by bolstering rival hardliners.

But after its 22-day offensive against the Hamas administration in Gaza, Israel appears to be more flexible.

"There is a sense that we can afford to relax our criteria on the prisoner release, as any benefit to Hamas would be more than offset by the damage it sustained in Gaza," said one Israeli security official.

The official said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wanted to clinch a deal before he is replaced in a February 10 election, though it was not clear whether the Israeli security cabinet could approve all of the names on the Hamas release roster.

Addressing reporters Thursday, Olmert said: "I believe that the military operation in Gaza created levers that can help in speeding the return of Gilad Shalit ... I will not elaborate."

Security cabinet minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told Israel's Army Radio that new discussions on a possible prisoner swap had not yet taken place. He added: "I am among those who would be willing to pay the highest price for Gilad's return."

EGYPTIAN MEDIATION

A top Israeli defense official, Amos Gilad, travelled to Cairo Thursday to discuss ways of consolidating a January 18 truce which ended the Gaza offensive. Security sources said Gilad would raise Shalit in his talks with the Egyptians.

The Gaza offensive killed 1,300 Palestinians, many of them civilians, and wrecked the impoverished strip's infrastructure.

Western powers have since called for Gaza's borders with Israel and Egypt to be more open, while supporting Israel's demand that Palestinian cross-border rocket salvoes cease and that Hamas arms-smuggling from the Egyptian Sinai be choked off.

Israel stepped up the crippling Gaza embargo after Hamas, which won a 2006 Palestinian election, seized control of the territory in a brief war with Abbas's forces the following year.

The Israelis rule out restoring normal operations at Gaza's border crossings unless there is a deal on Shalit, an army conscript seized by Hamas-led gunmen in a June 2006 border raid.

"I'll tell you this here, in plain Hebrew: apart from (the passage of) humanitarian goods, there will be no crossings (opened) without Gilad Shalit," Ben-Eliezer said.

(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; editing by Andrew Roche)

4 comments:

Kirk said...

Hi Steven. It is good to have affirmed that there are Jews who do not back the Israeli stance in regards to the human rights of palestinians.

It is sad that often this conflict is seen as Jews vs Palestinians instead of Israel vs Palestinians as it paints all Jews with the craziness of the Israelis.

I am not a Jew, but I am a member of a minority Christian religion and it is so easy to be tarnished by the actions of others.

While there are many backers of Israel in Australia, a number of prominent Jewish Australian academics, writers and lawyers formed a group - "Independent Australian Jewish Voices" to combat the rehetoric of the pro-Israeli lobby.
See http://www.iajv.org/about-us/.
It's a good site and worth checking out if you want to read some good writings by like-minded fellow Jews.

-Kirk

Jay said...

Hey Steven,

Do you think if back in 1947 the Arabs had accepted the UN's decision to partition the Mandate into an Arab state and a Jewish state instead of rejecting it that there might be peace in the Middle East now?

Steven Feuerstein said...

What an interesting thought! So if the people living on this land had simply given up and let outsiders take their land, then there would be peace?

Sure, why not? That's always one solution when their is a conflict: one side just gives up completely and bows its will to the others.

Maybe that would have brought "peace," I don't know. But you can just as well ask: don't you think that if Israel had voluntarily given back the WB and Gaza after the 67 war that there might be peace today?

Or...

Don't you think that if Israel stopping colonizing the land of Palestinians through its illegal settlements and stopped using military power to keep those colonies secure that there might be peace today?

mvilrokx said...

Hi Steven,

I'm sure you heard of George Galloway (got banned from Canada!). Listen to his views: http://www.kqed.org/epArchive/R904060900

A listener called in during the show, I could have sworn it was you, was it?

Cheers,
Mark