Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On the Palestine-Israel Conflict

A “complicated” case

A lot has been said about this rather sad issue, and part of the problem is the fact that those who have no voices never get their side told. This problem is not at all complicated. There are reasons why the United States and Israel want to make it SEEM complicated.

The most telling problem with this issue can be summed up in three letters: USA. Israel is being used by the U.S. to create instability in the region, for as long as the Middle East is politically unstable, it justifies American ‘intervention’ in various ways, which would ultimately result in control of their oil resources. Saudi Arabia was never invaded, despite the fact that Osama bin Laden’s family is still here, and despite the fact that something like 9 of the 14 suspects from 9/11 are Saudi Arabian. (Yes, bin Laden is Saudi, not Afghan). Of all the Islamic countries in the world, Saudi Arabia is the MOST extreme and the LEAST democratic, being the only country in the world still run by an absolute monarchy. The people in Saudi Arabia are brainwashed in that they know little of the outside world, and all talk of religion, politics, etc. is banned. Even a bad word against the king (or any of the ‘princes’, who run the individual provinces) is literally deemed blasphemous. What could be more un-democratic? Is this not another reason to invade, and liberate the people? The fact that it did not happen means what?

Well, Saudi Arabia already allows America virtually free reign over its oil profits; that’s why.

There’s nothing complicated about it at all.

It is also simply a brute fact that Iraq was a secular country under Saddam Hussein, unlike Saudi Arabia, which is theocratically run. It follows from this that Saudi Arabia certainly LESS democratic.
(I, by the way, work in Saudi Arabia, and therefore know firsthand what the country is like).
I do not find the claim that the Iraqi invasion was planned long BEFORE 9/11 implausible. Too many have forgotten the gulf war that was started circa 1991 by daddy dearest. The point then was the same as it is now: to do what it takes to control Iraqi oil profits, and instill a puppet government to oversee it.

Iran does not allow the US to rape it of its resources, hence the outcry; how DARE they!
Venezuela does not either, and we all know the frenetic ravings against Hugo Chaves. Why? Because he thinks Venezuela should control her own resources.

The belief is that democracy cannot exist outside the USA. If it does, it has to be sanctioned (and controlled) by the USA. The international community has been calling for free and fair elections in the Palestine, and when it happened, the results were simply not what the Master wanted, and was therefore unilaterally declared null and void. Only those who are aligned with or controlled by the US are allowed the status of a democratic state.

South Africa is certainly the best example of a democracy in the world. From a bloodless revolution in 1994, the legacy of Nelson Mandela, a multi-party government, and civil liberties that are unprecedented. (As a popular South African comedian pointed out: “We’re so democratic, we can get a new president WITHOUT elections” ).

Despite this, the USA had South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, listed as a TERRORIST ORGANISATION until July 2008! What for? It was a GIFT in honour of Nelson Mandela’s birthday.

Even left-wing radicals like Norman Finkelstein (who I otherwise admire greatly) perpetuate the American myth that South Africa, like other African countries, is now becoming a wretched, poverty stricken country and therefore dire need of US “aid”.

If one compares what American “democracy” is to South Africa, most objective Americans would be embarrassed, not just by the embarrassing disparity, but by the American political system in general.

Anyway, once “American Imperialism, and its quest for global dominance” (to borrow a subtitle from one of Noam Chomsky’s books on the subject) is understood, the next point becomes apparent.

As long as the Palestine issue is “mind boggling” and “complicated”, it cannot be resolved. If it is resolvable, and Palestine gets its state-hood, then Israel has no claim to its resources and land, and it would eventually stabilize and prosper. There are also strong suspicions that this might also be an oil-rich area, which means untapped profits for guess who…

I will not write more on the U.S. involvement in this matter, as there is extensive literature on this topic out there. Chomsky’s book, “The Fateful Triangle”, is by most objective standards the most honest and open account to that effect.

The problem is so very simple and resolvable, that it would be laughable if it were not so tragic.
Firstly, Israel invaded Palestine in 1967, and till this day illegally occupy East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. After the invasion, Israel started to refer to these territories as DISPUTED TERRITORIES, and this phrase has been reiterated over and over again by Israeli and pro-Israeli media all over the world.

What is not mentioned is that there is nothing “disputed” about these territories! Israel bulldozed the homes of benign Palestinians, slaughtered those who refused to leave, and occupied the said territories. What makes this occupation worse than the occupation of, say Iraq, is that this is a government funded (and needless to say U.S. backed) CIVILIAN occupation.

If you were forcefully removed from your home in this manner, and had to observe Israeli settlements being erected a few days later, and had to watch this happen with the title deeds to YOUR HOME still in your hand, what would you do?

This what the U.S. and Israel refer to as the “right of return” policy, where they say that Palestinians do not have the right to return to their homes. Israel has stated time and time again that if any negotiations are to take place, it will only take place on the understanding that PALESTINIANS DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO RETURN TO THEIR LAND.

In negotiating this particular issue, I would probably understand that practically I cannot return to what is rightfully my land. I would expect at least an apology though, and some kind of compensation. As mentioned, those who refused to leave their own land were simply bulldozed with their homes; those who returned were treated as trespassers, and those who even WANTED to return were told that they do not have the RIGHT to.

If the Palestinians do not give up this right, Israel is not prepared to even discuss the matter. Of course they aren’t, and are thereby labeled as:
I asked the question earlier as to what you would do if your home was bulldozed without any concern as to whether your family was in it or not, and YOUR LAND was occupied by another. Well what I would do is not relevant, but Hamas, on behalf of the people, chose to do something. After years of watching their own Palestinian people being illegally evicted, they resorted to the only other tactic they know: they started firing rockets. They still do with the express statement that if Israel leaves the land they illegally occupy, all will be fine.

The notion that one day Hamas just decided to start firing rockets for no reason makes no intuitive sense. The record clearly shows what came first, and although I am no fan of Hamas, is simply a brute fact that they are firing into THEIR OWN land. Israel just shows them the middle finger when Hamas point out that their land is still theirs.

In fact, it is not just the Palestinian people who believe this, even though one would think that just having a title deed to your property matters. The International Court of Justice ruled in June 1996 that East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are ILLEGALLY OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, and that Israel should give back what they have taken.
They also ruled that the wall which annexes the said land [what Israel wrongly calls a FENCE, for obvious reasons] is illegal, and must be torn down.

The ICJ ruled citing UN Resolution 242, which speaks of the INADMISSIBILITY OF ACQUIRING TERRITORY BY WAR, and article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention says that settlements on such land is illegal.

Instead of respecting the law, Israel just chose to ignore the ruling. Some Israeli historians, like Benny Morris, will tell you that there’s nothing wrong with slaughtering an entire nation, citing the USA as a precedent, and concluding that without such action the great American Empire would not have been born. Other pro-Israeli scholars, like Alan Dershowitz (who happened to be one of O.J. Simpson’s defence lawyers), simply choose not to acknowledge the authority of the world court.

In addition to that, the United Nations has been voting every year since 1989 on a peaceful resolution of the Palestine problem. Of course, in accordance with international law (which is not only confined to the ruling above), they put forth the resolution as a two-state solution, with Palestine and Israel as sovereign states, on the 1967 borders, as per the ICJ ruling. The ENTIRE WORLD (more than 160 countries, including the UK) votes in favour of this, with Israel voting against it, joined by the USA, and recently by Australia. [America managed to bully some smaller islands, like the Republic of Palau (one of the smallest – and newest – countries in the world), into voting with them as well].

Since America is one of the five countries with veto rights, nothing can be passed without their approval, and the resolution therefore gets rejected.

So ultimately, this is not really a complicated matter at all. It’s just that the USA refuses to resolve it. They do this by refusing to accept the ICJ ruling, and by showing the UN and the rest of the world the middle finger year after year.

At one point, the USA said that they will only negotiate with Palestine if they have a democratically elected government. There was an election in 2006, which Hamas won, claiming 76 of the 132 parliamentary seats. Since the USA did not want Hamas to win, they simply decided to boycott the newly elected government, and impose sanctions on them. This is because the USA wants a puppet government who would do what they order, so Hamas is no longer recognized. The pretext here is that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and they will not allow that (strange, since they knew very well that Hamas was on the ballot). This cheap tactic is vacuous, since by any objective standard, the USA is a terrorist state, and despite having the ANC, South Africa’s ruling party, listed as a terrorist state [until July 2008, as mentioned earlier], Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama [before he even started his campaign] have been to South Africa prior to this were quite prepared to have healthy relations with this “terror” organization.

At the time, Obama pointed out that he does not endorse any election with Hamas on the ballot, which says something about his position.

Furthermore one need only to refer to reputable organizations like the International Society of the Red Crescent, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem (the latter being an Israeli human rights organization, with the mandate of overseeing the occupied territories) to get a more objective perspective on what Israel is doing.

It is clear then, that the problem is systemic, yet unnecessarily befuddled by pro-Israeli propaganda.

A side note on the “Obama Nation”

In light of the recent onslaught on Gaza, just a few weeks before Obama’s inauguration, all he said was that he will only speak on this issue after January 20th. Needless to say, the slaughter of Palestinians would have ceased by then, and he knew that. This would give him a breather to revert to the usual spin-doctoring in light of what the Jewish lobby orders. It is no coincidence that the speech Obama gave at AIPAC during his campaign was the most pathetically sycophantic one ever – to such an extent that he and his campaign had to sheepishly shy away from some of the positions articulated during that speech.

Eventually all he said was that if his daughters were having rockets fired on them, he would “do anything” to protect them; one wonders what AIPAC paid for that comment. He didn’t say much about what he would do if Israeli tanks bull dozed his home down with his daughters in it.
He ran his campaign on the theme of CHANGE, yet after he was elected he suddenly reverted to politics as usual. Even during the campaign, we slowly saw the issue of the American occupation of Iraq recede into the background, whilst at the outset he touted that as his main message. The people he is appointing to his cabinet are avid supporters of the “war”, and by and large Washington old-schoolers.

One has to quote Ogden Nash at this point: THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME.

I am very disappointed by what has transpired hitherto, as I, like so many others, believed him when he made all those promises.

Obama may mean well, but ultimately he is a cog who has to turn with the others, so it would be unlikely to see any concrete change anyway.

In Conclusion – a caveat

The purpose here was just to give a very basic overview of some facts that seem to be lacking in the mainstream media and therefore in public discourse. I am neither pro-Israeli nor pro-Palestinian. I am simply against the slaughter of innocent people, in whatever context that may occur, willy-nilly.

These facts have been documented by reputable scholars, and if you are interested in a more precise account, with exact names and references, I urge you to consult the following sources:

Or just go to YouTube and search for the names “NOAM CHOMSKY” and “NORMAN FINKELSTEIN”.

I assure you, there are no two people on the planet who know more on this topic than these two great intellectuals.

If we cannot do much more, we can at least set the facts straight when this topic arises. We have all seen the suffering that is being incurred, and we cannot sit back and do nothing. That much is clear.

Educating ourselves, and understanding what is really happening, would enable us to cut through the chaff of public discourse and move forward with a clear purpose, and a clear understanding of what needs to be done.

Suren Naicker

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