Truth, Lies & the Peace Plan

imemc.org

Allow me to reverse the order of the title and start with the Peace Plan. Yes, that Peace Plan: “The Deal of the Century!” It’s not a Peace Plan, let’s get this out of the way first: it’s an Annexation Plan. It’s a real estate deal meant to subdue the Palestinian People once and for all into submission, and solidify the Biblical inspiration of the zealotry, messianic settlers movement—pushed from behind by Netanyahu, Kushner, Friedman and Greenblatt—for eternity. There isn’t a lot of peace to be found in this plan; a plan which demands two sides; a plan which demands consultations ahead of time; a plan which demands compromise; a plan which demands an understanding of the complex situation and an agreement of principles. There is none of it in this Peace Plan. It’s one big lie.

Which brings me to the ‘lies.’ First lie: this Peace Plan will bring about a Two-State solution. Complete nonsense. It’s a plan which has one state, Israel, controlling and humiliating the other nation and its people, the Palestinians. It is, for all intents and purposes, a continuation of the occupation by other names. Therefore, the second lie to come out of it, that the Palestinians will have a state to call their own, is also complete nonsense. Again, calling something a state doesn’t make it so. That entity will be surrounded and controlled by Israel, with no borders with any other nation, and with no outlet to the sea or river—yes, my friends, the conqueror has taken away even the Jordan River from the Palestinians. It’s an enclave, at best. A ghetto, a… well, as a son of Holocaust survivors I won’t say more. You get the message though, I’m sure.

Lie number three: East Jerusalem will be the Palestinian capital. That’s a good one, really, for a skit on Saturday Night Live. There is no longer East Jerusalem, since it’s already unified into one big Jerusalem: The capital of Israel. Again, if you throw people out of the city walls, and tell them to call that wadi, that hill, that remote neighborhood outside the city wall a Capital, and call it East Jerusalem, doesn’t make it so. It probably makes it worse than your current situation. Live with it or die, the Palestinians are being told. Well, it seems clear from their collective reaction that they prefer to die, rather than live with it and the humiliation that comes along.

Lie number four: Land swap. So instead of all the land Israel is taken by force away from the Palestinians in the West bank, it will give them two small—separate, albeit—pieces of barn land in the western Negev Desert, where nobody lives, with no connection to either the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. This is not a land swap; it’s a land grab. I take your prime real estate—most valuable for its historical, cultural, economic, heritage reasons—away from you, and give you in return two small pieces of land of no value to you whatsoever. Which, nonetheless, some Israeli citizens are already claiming is important to them for agricultural purposes.

Lie number five: Some 250,000 Arab residents of Israel, citizens since birth, will become Palestinian citizens, including their cities and villages. Nobody had asked them about it, consulted with them about it, and upon learning of it they immediately voiced strong objections to relinquish their current citizenship. Jews too, are already objecting to it, including Netanyahu—the mastermind behind the Peace Plan—who just announced in a per-election campaign (trying in vain to bribe some Arab voters to vote for him) that he’s going to nix this part of the deal. I can go on. But in short: the whole ‘deal’ is one big lie.

Now to the truth: The Israeli settlers movement has won the day. And not from today. It pains me to say so (though I’ve said this before), but there is no going back. There is no peace, and there is no plan. What we have is a continuation of the occupation by a different name. There is no Two-State solution. It’s dead too (at best, it’s in a coma.) There is one state: The greater Israel. That state has two terrible options to make as result of its occupation and colonization of the West Bank. One: grant all the Arab, Palestinian People under Israel’s control Israeli citizenship and equal rights under the law (as president Rivlin has suggested, for instance), including voting rights. Sooner rather than later that would mean the end of Israel as predominantly a Jewish state.

Second: Don’t grant them citizenship and equal rights, as basically Israel is doing now, and solidify what already, and for some years, is in plain sight: An Apartheid State. (50 former European leaders just signed an open letter expressing “grave concern” over President Trump’s Peace Plan, criticizing the plan for allowing Israeli annexation… creating a situation tantamount to “apartheid.”) So the Jews, refugees of European Pogroms and the Holocaust, and refugees of Arab countries mistreatment, would then, in less than a century to the end of World War Two, will create an Apartheid State of their own. Making the Palestinians segregated, second class citizens. Behind a wall, barbed wire, and army guns. There is no escape from it. And there is no escape from the outlook that the free, democratic world—if such world will exist for long—will not live with it. And I don’t believe the majority of American Jews will live with it either. There will be a war. And another one. And so it goes.

* The ‘Leave a Comment’ link is the last tag below, in blue.

New Year; Old Hope

972mag.com

As we welcome the new Jewish year, 5780, I’d like to wish you all a healthy, happy, meaningful year. And as we look ahead to the new year, there’s a new—old, in my opinion—hope of renewal in Israel. The elections of September 17 are still fresh and far from settled. Many questions still remain. But it is safe to say that a new wind is blowing. And that maybe—just maybe—the rule of Bibi Netanyahu, a rule that was based on incitement, on subversion of democracy, on extremism and racism, on undermining the rule of law, and on solidifying the occupation and the endless conflict with the Palestinians, might finally be over.

This new wind is, in many ways, an old wind. It brings with it the smell of Eretz Israel of old. Of principles of justice for all, of separation of state and religion, of equal rights before the law. Of the essence of the declaration of independence. There’s chance of going to seed; to the old seed that gave birth to the state of Israel as we knew it and loved it. There is an opportunity now, even if a narrow one, to go back to what made the country so great in its first years of existence.

Don’t get me wrong, though; I’m not so naïve as to believe that all of Israel’s problems can now, suddenly and miraculously, be solved. Far from it: I’m well aware that the leaders of the Blue and White party, which had a narrow win – as indeed I predicted in my talk in Davis—in the elections, are not knights with shiny armor, riding on white horses. They have their faults, like all of us, and in term of the chances for peace, and a way to resolve the eternal conflict with the Palestinians, they are not so different from Mr. Netanyahu and his Likud party.

But I do believe that the probable successor—whether in this round or the next one—to the current Crime Minister, Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and While party, is a principled, old-time Rabin-like Israeli. (On the second night after Election Day he was in the audience at the Cultural Hall in Tel Aviv, at a concert by Israeli singers, and was invited on the stage to sing one of these good-old Israeli songs.) His immediate fight—what caused him to throw his hat into the ring in the first place—was to save Israel’s democracy. It seems safe to say that this battle, at the essence of these two rapid elections, is still going on. Maybe far from over. But for now, Israel survived the gravest threat since independence of turning into an autocracy. And that, in and of itself, is a major win.

The other threat, to be followed soon had Netanyahu won the elections, was the promised annexation of the West Bank, an end to any chance of peace-agreement with the Palestinians, and thereafter Israel turning not only into dictatorship, but an Apartheid state as well. This threat is still very real, make no mistake, but at least the new leader, together with his co-leaders, has a chance to change direction. Whether they will take this road; whether they will even have the chance to go this way, still remains to be seen. But the possibility is there.

On the ground things have changed so much since the 67 war, especially during the last twenty years or so, that it seems very unlikely that the Two-State solution—which I declared dead in another talk I gave in Davis seven years ago—can be resurrected. Yet one can still believe in miracles. In old Israel itself. Believe so even though the gap between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; between the fanatic, religious Israel and the secular, liberal Israel, has widened so dramatically lately. So much so that the ‘War between the Jews’ is again a real threat and possibility. The gap between the haves and have nots has also widened. These problems and others must be addressed by the new government, however shape it’s going to take. The job ahead of that government is real, and not easy, but doable.

Of course, as I write this, it’s not clear at all—after the attempt at unity government has failed, it’s Netanyahu who is getting a first crack at building a coalition—whether Benny Gantz and his Blue-and-White party will be given the chance to build a coalition, should Netanyahu, as expected, fail. And yet, one can hope. One can hope that—again, in this round or the next—the wind of old Israel would take over and bring a change in government and direction. Because Israel and its citizens, and with them Jews the world over, have a lot to be thankful for. And be proud of, too. And be able to believe again that corruption can be replaced by hard and principled work. That occupation can be replaced, for both sides, by liberation. And that glory days might be in sight again. Shana Tova!

* The ‘Leave a Comment’ link is the last tag below, in blue.

%d bloggers like this: