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20 Sep

Events of Interest and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Yemeni toll
rises after fresh Sanaa shelling

Death
stalks famine-hit Somalis

UN says number of people at risk of dying has
doubled amid inadequate global reponse to crisis.

Americas

Why the usual suspects lose out in ID parades

The classic image of the identity parade could soon be out of date.

Robert Fisk: Why the Middle East will never be the same again

The game is lost. America’s political power in the Middle East will this week be neutered on behalf of Israel. Quite a sacrifice in the name of liberty…

The Palestinians won’t achieve statehood, but they will consign the ‘peace process’ to history.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Palestinians won’t get a state this week. But they will prove – if they
get enough votes in the General Assembly and if Mahmoud Abbas does not succumb
to his characteristic grovelling in the face of US-Israeli power – that they are
worthy of statehood. And they will establish for the Arabs what Israel likes to
call – when it is enlarging its colonies on stolen land – “facts on the ground”:
never again can the United States and Israel snap their fingers and expect the
Arabs to click their heels. The US has lost its purchase on the Middle East.
It’s over: the “peace process”, the “road map”, the “Oslo agreement”; the whole
fandango is history.

 

Personally, I think “Palestine” is a fantasy state, impossible to create now
that the Israelis have stolen so much of the Arabs’ land for their colonial
projects. Go take a look at the West Bank, if you don’t believe me. Israel’s
massive Jewish colonies, its pernicious building restrictions on Palestinian
homes of more than one storey and its closure even of sewage systems as
punishment, the “cordons sanitaires” beside the Jordanian frontier, the
Israeli-only settlers’ roads have turned the map of the West Bank into the
smashed windscreen of a crashed car. Sometimes, I suspect that the only thing
that prevents the existence of “Greater Israel” is the obstinacy of those pesky
Palestinians.

But we are now talking of much greater matters. This vote at the UN – General
Assembly or Security Council, in one sense it hardly matters – is going to
divide the West – Americans from Europeans and scores of other nations – and it
is going to divide the Arabs from the Americans. It is going to crack open the
divisions in the European Union; between eastern and western Europeans, between
Germany and France (the former supporting Israel for all the usual historical
reasons, the latter sickened by the suffering of the Palestinians) and, of
course, between Israel and the EU.

A great anger has been created in the world by decades of Israeli power and
military brutality and colonisation; millions of Europeans, while conscious of
their own historical responsibility for the Jewish Holocaust and well aware of
the violence of Muslim nations, are no longer cowed in their criticism for fear
of being abused as anti-Semites. There is racism in the West – and always will
be, I fear – against Muslims and Africans, as well as Jews. But what are the
Israeli settlements on the West Bank, in which no Arab Muslim Palestinian can
live, but an expression of racism?

Israel shares in this tragedy, of course. Its insane government has led its
people on this road to perdition, adequately summed up by its sullen fear of
democracy in Tunisia and Egypt – how typical that its principle ally in this
nonsense should be the awful Saudi Arabia – and its cruel refusal to apologise
for the killing of nine Turks in the Gaza flotilla last year and its equal
refusal to apologise to Egypt for the killing of five of its policemen during a
Palestinian incursion into Israel.

So goodbye to its only regional allies, Turkey and Egypt, in the space of
scarcely 12 months. Israel’s cabinet is composed both of intelligent,
potentially balanced people such as Ehud Barak, and fools such as Foreign
Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Ahmadinejad of Israeli politics. Sarcasm aside,
Israelis deserve better than this.

The State of Israel may have been created unjustly – the Palestinian Diaspora
is proof of this – but it was created legally. And its founders were perfectly
capable of doing a deal with King Abdullah of Jordan after the 1948-49 war to
divide Palestine between Jews and Arabs. But it had been the UN, which met to
decide the fate of Palestine on 29 November 1947, which gave Israel its
legitimacy, the Americans being the first to vote for its creation. Now – by a
supreme irony of history – it is Israel which wishes to prevent the UN from
giving Palestinian Arabs their legitimacy – and it is America which will be the
first to veto such a legitimacy.

Does Israel have a right to exist? The question is a tired trap, regularly
and stupidly trotted out by Israel’s so-called supporters; to me, too, on
regular though increasingly fewer occasions. States – not humans – give other
states the right to exist. For individuals to do so, they have to see a map. For
where exactly, geographically, is Israel? It is the only nation on earth which
does not know and will not declare where its eastern frontier is. Is it the old
UN armistice line, the 1967 border so beloved of Abbas and so hated by
Netanyahu, or the Palestinian West Bank minus settlements, or the whole of the
West Bank?

Show me a map of the United Kingdom which includes England, Wales, Scotland
and Northern Ireland, and it has the right to exist. But show me a map of the UK
which claims to include the 26 counties of independent Ireland in the UK and
shows Dublin to be a British rather than an Irish city, and I will say no, this
nation does not have the right to exist within these expanded frontiers. Which
is why, in the case of Israel, almost every Western embassy, including the US
and British embassies, are in Tel Aviv, not in Jerusalem.

In the new Middle East, amid the Arab Awakening and the revolt of free
peoples for dignity and freedom, this UN vote – passed in the General Assembly,
vetoed by America if it goes to the Security Council – constitutes a kind of
hinge; not just a page turning, but the failure of empire. So locked into Israel
has US foreign policy become, so fearful of Israel have almost all its
Congressmen and Congresswomen become – to the extent of loving Israel more than
America – that America will this week stand out not as the nation that produced
Woodrow Wilson and his 14 principles of self-determination, not as the country
which fought Nazism and Fascism and Japanese militarism, not as the beacon of
freedom which, we are told, its Founding Fathers represented – but as a
curmudgeonly, selfish, frightened state whose President, after promising a new
affection for the Muslim world, is forced to support an occupying power against
a people who only ask for statehood.

Should we say “poor old Obama”, as I have done in the past? I don’t think so.
Big on rhetoric, vain, handing out false love in Istanbul and Cairo within
months of his election, he will this week prove that his re-election is more
important than the future of the Middle East, that his personal ambition to stay
in power must take first place over the sufferings of an occupied people. In
this context alone, it is bizarre that a man of such supposed high principle
should show himself so cowardly. In the new Middle East, in which Arabs are
claiming the very same rights and freedoms that Israel and America say they
champion, this is a profound tragedy.

US failures to stand up to Israel and to insist on a fair peace in
“Palestine”, abetted by the hero of the Iraq war, Blair, are responsible. Arabs
too, for allowing their dictators to last so long and thus to clog the sand with
false frontiers and old dogmas and oil (and let’s not believe that a “new”
“Palestine” would be a paradise for its own people). Israel, too, when it should
be welcoming the Palestinian demand for statehood at the UN with all its
obligations of security and peace and recognition of other UN members. But no.
The game is lost. America’s political power in the Middle East will this week be
neutered on behalf of Israel. Quite a sacrifice in the name of liberty…

One Response to “Events of Interest and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective”

  1. 1
    mary Says:

    Robert Fisk has written a definitive piece on the ghastly mistake we are making in doing everything we can to prevent the vote on Palestinian statehood at the UN. I urge everyone to read the entire article.

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