That wacky Republican Party – is there nothing it can’t get wrong? Just the other night, we had Rick Perry all-but starting a war with Turkey, and lord knows the rest of them are itching for one with Iran. Why not be morons about Israel/Palestine too?
It’s been awhile since I blogged about my other country, and as Israel/Palestine is one of my very few clearly-defined beats, as it were, that’s a little odd. It was my intention to remedy that today, but what wound up happening is that I’ve been catching up on a lot of reading. You’ll find a wee round-up of links/my analysis below – starting with the news that the Republican National Committee has officially endorsed a foreign relations policy that is not only contrary to that of America’s elected government, but contrary to its own past Administrations.
- GOP Officially Endorses One-State Solution and More on the RNC Call for One State - My fellow blogger Mitchell Plitnick broke a somewhat startling story yesterday: After years of bi-partisan American support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Republican National Committee has officially endorsed what amounts to the Israeli annexation of the West Bank — a one-state solution. Of course, in a very real way, this enormous policy change (no less a Republican than George W. Bush was the first American President to make public reference to a “Palestinian state”) is actually a better reflection of the US government’s decades-long de facto policy: Sitting idly by as Israel all but enacts the one-state solution on its own, through the rapid expansion of settlements and Israeli-only roads, which serve to chop the territory up in a fashion intended to preclude the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state on West Bank lands. So… points for honesty?
- The necessary elimination of Israeli democracy
Amos Shocken, publisher ofHaAretz, Israel’s paper of record, ran this opinion piece nearly two months ago, but I am just now seeing it, and it’s really, really powerful, getting to the heart of the matter of the relationship between Israel’s governments and justice system and the religious settler movement with surgical precision. Calling the religious settlers’ strategy one of “territorial seizure and apartheid,” he writes “the fact that the government is effectively a tool of Gush Emunim [the religious settler movement] is apparent to everyone who has dealings with the settlers,” going on to say that because of American (both Jewish and non-) support for Gush Emunim’s ideology, “it is not easy, and may be impossible, for an American president to adopt an activist policy against Israeli apartheid.” He goes into the fact that any kind of “rule of law” is subservient in this worldview to a perceived Divine Law to which the state’s laws must be bent, and concludes: “Beyond the question of whether Jewish morality and the Jewish experience allow such circumstances to exist, it is clear that this is a flagrantly unstable and even dangerous situation.”
- Keeping Fingers Crossed for Assad – A truly excellent piece, also in HaAretz, looking at the horrors of the situation in Syria, the courage of the people there, and Israel’s utter failure to grapple with the circumstances in a way that either demonstrates compassion, or takes into consideration Israel’s own long-term interests. “We must admit,” author Aner Shalev writes, “this is the Syrian people’s finest hour. It is not our finest hour.”
- UN Report: Palestinian civilian casualties up by 30% in 2011, compared to 2010. I confess, that’s not the actual name of the report, nor have I read all, or even most, of its 144 pages. But that figure leapt out at me when someone mentioned it online — it’s on the first page of the executive summary, which goes on to say “[In 2011] Israeli authorities continued to impose a blockade on Gaza, amounting to collective punishment of the population and affecting every aspect of life in the Gaza Strip. Livelihoods remained severely constrained by policies that restricted access to the areas with the most viable agricultural and fishing prospects. Restrictions on the movement of goods and people into Gaza have created chronic problems in health services, education and wash, sanitation and hygiene facilities.” And so on and so on and so on.
- The Oslo Syndrome - Once again by Mitchell Plitnick, this piece gets to the heart of much of what was wrong with the original Oslo negotiating process, and why it has collapsed in on itself over the past two decades, starting with “the disparity of power between Israel and the Palestinians, due to the fact that Israel is not only a regional superpower, but has a ‘special relationship’ with the ostensible broker of a peace agreement that is also the world’s leading military power,” going on to say “the problem is quite simply that Israel does not have sufficient incentive to end its occupation,” and “the settlement system in general is much more intertwined with the larger Israeli economy than most people realize” (a point I addressed a little bit here — you’ll find a few facts and figures in the paragraph toward the end that starts “But frankly…”). Mitchell concludes that if we are to build a new framework within which to negotiate peace, we’ll have to first recognize what’s been so terribly wrong with the Oslo approach.
I have more catching up to do, but I think 800 words of summaries of other people’s work is enough for now! Hopefully I’ll have a few of my own thoughts before too long.