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Articles on Israel after 2013
Israel, Palestine and Truth
Articles on Israel before 2013

  • (october 2013) Israel, Palestine and Truth. John Kerry has embarked in yet another attempt at bringing peace to what is ridiculously called "the Holy Land", which, instead, is a land of fanatical idiots who still believe that gods grant land to people (and that gods exist in the first place). The whole history of the Israeli-Arab conflict is a history of lies repeated so often that even those who invented them ended up believing in them. Leaving aside the two mothers of all lies (that a vindictive god named Yahveh promised Jews a land in return for their blind obedience and that a murderous prophet was sent by a god named Allah to conquer the world), and leaving aside the story of how Palestinians and Jews claim their rights to that land, the last 20 years offer plenty of drama and comedy.
    In 1988 Arafat gave a speech in which he renounced terrorism, recognized Israel's right to exist, and de facto accepted a state that would be half the size that was originally mandated by the United Nations in 1947. It should have been enough to convince the Israelis, but instead the Israelis decided that Arafat was a congenital liar (which he was, but that's another story) and a for a few years there was only renewed "terrorism". In september 1993, following secret negotiations in Norway, the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Arafat signed an agreement to start a peace process. Israel recognized the PLO and the PLO recognized Israel. Alas, in november 1995 Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish fundamentalist. Rabin's successors were a lot less interested in the fate of the Palestinians. In may 1996 a right-wing demagogue, Benjamin Netanyahu, won the elections. He had no intention to fulfil Rabin's dream of peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians. The Palestinians felt betrayed again, the Israelis felt that the Palestinians could not be trusted because they started their "terrorism" again.
    In july 2000 Arafat and prime minister Ehud Barak of Israel narrowly failed to reach a peace accord at Camp David. Barak accused Arafat, Arafat accused Barak. Everything that we know about that meeting leads us to think that Barak was not there to compromise but simply to tell Arafat how to compromise. Then the Palestinians unleashed the second "intifada" (or, better, a provocation by Israeli right-wing former general Ariel Sharon caused widespread riots). By april 2002 more than 300 Israelis had been killed by suicide bombers. Sure enough, in february 2001 Israeli voters rewarded Sharon by electing him prime minister. That only increased the sense of outrage among Palestinians. However, Sharon quickly realized that a military solution was impossible and that provoking the Palestinians (as he had done by encouraging Jewish settlements on Palestinian land) was creating more military problems instead of solving them. Hence, in 2003 Sharon surprised everybody by making a dramatic U-turn and accepting that the Palestinians should have their own state. Then in january 2006 Sharon suffered a stroke. Just like Rabin's assassination, Sharon's stroke turned the clock back a decade. In june 2007 Hamas, that in 2006 had won fair and free elections not recognized by Israel (or, for that matter, by anyone else), took control of the Gaza strip with force in what was basically a mini Palestinian civil war. The latest chapter in negotiations is farcical. In september 2008 Sharon's successor Olmert, who was about to be jailed for corruption and had no credibility whatsoever within his own party, met with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. Since then Olmert has been spinning stories about making concessions to Abbas that nobody believes anymore. Abbas may not be a genius and may not be a saint, but is widely viewed as a honest and decent man, whereas Olmert is widely viewed (within Israel itself) as an idiot and a crook. Ironically, the Israeli media and public concluded that there was no Palestinian partner for peace, whereas the truth is that there was no Israeli partner for peace after Sharon's stroke.
    Israelis, of course, can point at the fact that they have always surrendered land for peace, but rarely got peace. Nonetheless, they did get peace when they surrendered the Sinai to Egypt: Egypt signed a peace treaty and has since then moved closer and closer to the USA (if not to Israel itself), even after the demise of Mubarak. But, to be fair to the Israelis, it is true that they withdrew from Lebanon and got rockets from Hezbolla, and they withdrew from Gaza and got rockets from Hamas. Nobody in Israel believes that giving land to Muslims results in greater peace for Israel: Muslims perceive any Israeli concession as a sign from Allah to keep fighting. The Left, that used to believe in "peace for land", got discredited by the facts: give them land and what you get from the Arabs is war.
    Benjamin Netanyahu was reelected in january 2013 but his popularity is at an all-time low. New politicians are stealing the limelight, notably the software entrepreneur Naftali Bennett, the journalist Yair Lapid and the Russian-born Avigdor Lieberman, all conservatives who oppose concessions to the Palestinians. Meanwhile, in november 2012 the United Nations had recognized Palestine as a state, and there are proposals in Europe to boycott Israeli company based in occupied territories. Israel is losing international legitimacy, or at least it is losing the public-relationship war. And Barack Obama got reelected, a US president who is not as much a fan of Israel as his predecessor George W Bush was.
    Most Israeli children today come from two groups that don't represent the original spirit of the nation: a vast population of ultra-orthodox Jews who refuse education (other than education about ancient superstitions of gods and promised lands) and two milion Arabs who are citizens of Israel and live under apartheid (some Jewish organizations refuse to rent homes to them, Jews and non-Jews canot legally marry, non-Jews don't have the same rights to land that Jews have, etc). Both groups live in poverty. Israel has a reputation for bankers, investors, managers and high-tech startups, but the reality is that half its population cannot make ends meet, and that population is either Muslim or orthodox Jewish. The orthodox Jewish voters are tilting the balance of power towards the far right, whereas Arab voters are more and more demotivated. The trend is towards the former becoming more and more important in shaping the country's future, and the latter becoming more and more marginalized. The Israeli parliament now has an all-time record number of religious members.
    History repeats itself: politically weakened, Netanyahu has suddenly accepted John Kerry's idea to resume peace talks. Given the rising influence of conservative, far-right movements, one is puzzled that Netanyahu would now change his mind about giving Palestinians a state. One possibility, of course, is that he is just pretending since he cannot offend the people who write his military cheques (the USA, which for mysterious reasons is still providing generous aid to Israel). The other possibility is that both the USA and Israel want to settle the mother of all Middle Eastern problems in order to focus on something more valuable: Iran. Israel can't wait to bomb Iran, but doing so would morally force the entire Islamic world to side with Iran. The truth is that most of the political leaders of the Islamic world do not want a nuclear Iran and would welcome action by Israel or the USA. Hence, it could be that the likes of Saudi Arabia are pressuring Israel as much as the USA to achieve a Palestinian solution. Once that problem is removed, the Sunni Arab world would recognize Israel and Israel would be free to do what it likes with Iran (a Shiite country).
    As usual, however, the actors might be underestimating the gravity of the problem. The territorial swaps are the least of the problem: redrawing maps is easy. The real problems are: Jerusalem (which both governments claim as their capital, a claim behind which are more than one thousand years of religious wars), the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands inside Israel (by now most of them are dead but their descendants are some 150 thousand), the security arrangements that Israel wants to feel comfortable that "land for peace" will not result in more rockets falling on Israel.
    These have been problems with no solution for so long that skeptics prevail, but maybe this time the fear of a nuclear Iran will force the parties to set aside the historical lies (including the ancient superstitions) and find a compromise that will allow Israel to grant independence to the Palestinians and therefore will allow the Sunni Arab countries (and therefore most of the Islamic world) to recognize Israel.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • Articles on Israel before 2013

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