Sunday 10 January 2010

Palestine - the Future

Though life is still terrible for most Palestinians, we must never lose hope that justice will prevail. Many Palestinians and Israelis continue to look to a future based on justice for all. The two state solution is still the preferred option for most Palestinians and Israelis and is the only option that the main foreign powers are willing to talk about. However fewer and fewer people really believe that a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel will ever come about. Mainly due to Israeli intransigence. For over 40 years now Israel has done nothing to promote a viable Palestinian state. Quite the opposite, all Israel’s actions on the ground have been deliberately designed to prevent the emergence of a viable Palestinian state on its borders. Hence the colonial settlements all over the West Bank and the illegal incorporation of East Jerusalem into Israel proper - though not the Palestinian inhabitants of East Jerusalem. Israel still clings to this notion that either the Palestinians will somehow just go away or that they will forever consent to be treated as a subject people. This is most unlikely to happen.

And as mentioned at the beginning more and more people, including Palestinians and Israelis are starting to look at alternatives to the two state solution. One of these is Ahmed Moor, a Gaza born Palestinian-American freelance journalist living in Beirut. He has a piece on his own vision of one state in Israel/Palestine. His vision is a federal state with four entities plus Jerusalem as a joint Federal District. Can’t say that I agree with all of his ideas, but it is encouraging to know that many people refuse to be put off by the present discouraging situation and are prepared to think seriously and creatively about a different and better future. You can read the whole article here.

One of the more depressing aspects of the current situation is the tendency of the media to ignore the extent to which the UK’s and the USA’s military escapades in the Middle East and their seemingly carte blanche support for all types of Israeli aggression contribute to the formation of what we in the West are keen to categorize as terrorists. The great Glenn Greenwald in his blog has a must read article on this blindness on the part of the media in the USA.

The article focuses on Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, the Jordanian who blew himself up, along with 7 CIA agents, in Afghanistan last week. He asks the obviouis question - Why would Balawi -- a highly educated doctor, who was specifically recruited by Jordanian intelligence officials to infiltrate Al Qaeda on behalf of Western governments -- want to blow himself up and murder as many American intelligence agents as possible? According to interviews with Balawi, it seems he “had been "changed" by last year’s three-week-long Israeli offensive in Gaza, which killed about 1,300 Palestinians.” Yet the mainstream media continue to by and large support our assaults against Muslims without making any connection between these assaults and the subsequent rise in terrorists. As Greenwald puts it succinctly at the end of his peice - “Just contemplate how many Balawis there are in the world: Muslims who begin with sympathy towards the U.S. and hostility towards Al Qaeda who are completely transformed into the opposite as a result of the constant civilian death we and Israel bring (regardless of intent) to that part of the world.” Greenwald’s piece can be found here.

Further signs that the previous monolithic USA support for Israel is finally beginning to crumble, comes in the shape of Marcy Winograd. Congressional candidate Marcy Winograd, of Progressive Democrats of America, is challenging incumbent Jane Harman for one of California’s seats (CA-36) in the June 8, 2010 Democratic Party primary. What makes this challenge so interesting is that Jane Hamsher is one of the most notorious of America’s pro-Israel lobbyists. Hamsher and her supporters have attacked Winograd on the grounds that she, Winograd would endanger the survival of Israel. However Winograd, who is herself Jewish, has come out fighting and has forcibly responded to these attacks. Her is an extract from an open letter she published.

“Like you, I am intimately aware of our Jewish history. On my mother’s side, my great-grandparents escaped the Russian Pogroms to make a better life for themselves in Europe. On my father’s side, my great-grandparents were killed in the Jewish Holocaust of Nazi Germany. Because of our collective experience with persecution, it behooves us to stand in opposition to persecution anywhere and everywhere, rather than sanctify reductionist state policies that cast all Jews as victims who can only thrive in a segregated society. Furthermore, we must stand in explicit opposition to the Israeli persecution of the Palestinians; the brutal blockade of Gaza, an act of war by international standards, denying children clean water, food, and medicine.

We are better than that.

In your letter, you reference my speech in support of a one state solution, one that would recognize both Israelis and Palestinians as equals in a land of great historical significance to both. Security for Jews and Palestinians will be increased, not decreased, by efforts to establish a state where all are welcome and treated equally, but such a day may be far down the road given the existing enmity and lack of accountability in U.S. foreign policy regarding ever-expanding Israeli settlements. To stop the suffering of the Palestinian people and to end the rocket attacks on Israelis near the border, I am ready and willing to accept a negotiated peace agreement that adheres to principles of justice and recognizes a two-state solution based on withdrawal of illegal settlements to the 1967 borders or a mutually-agreed exchange of territory.”

Let us hope that Marcy Winograd is successful in her challenge for the Democratic nomination. It is the continuing public efforts of people like Ahmed Moor, Glenn Greenwald and Marcy Winograd that give us all hope that in time a just solution will be found for both Palestinians and Israelis.

1 comment:

  1. Alister, congratulations for this article. Israel-Palestine, a democratic, secular and bi-national state is the only future for the Holly Land region.