On the eve of his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and his address to a joint session of Congress, Netanyahu presented obsolete positions.
18 May 2011
In an op-ed piece in yesterday's New York Times, Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas wrote that the Palestinian initiative to obtain
international recognition for an independent state along the 1967 borders is
not a stunt. Approaching the United Nations, he wrote, was aimed at assuring
the basic right of the Palestinian people to live freely in an independent
state along the June 4, 1967 borders, i.e., in 22% of Mandatory Palestine.
Abbas repeated the Arab League formula for a just and agreed-upon solution
to the refugee problem on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 194.
He also said that the decision to approach the international community came
after years of fruitless negotiations with Israel about permanent
arrangements, and Israel's continuing control of the West Bank and East
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the Knesset plenum on Monday
strengthens the Palestinian claim that direct diplomacy with Israel is a
dead end, and justifies the Palestinians' petition to the United Nations.
Only minutes after praising Theodor Herzl, who in fact knew how to adapt his
vision to changing realities, Netanyahu sketched out a diplomatic plan
devoid of vision and totally detached from the new reality developing in the
region. On the eve of his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and his
address to a joint session of Congress, Netanyahu presented obsolete
positions. He refrained from mentioning the 1967 borders as a starting point
for a final-status arrangement, and committed to demanding a military
presence along the Jordan River, to perpetuating the annexation of East
Jerusalem and to demanding Palestinian recognition of Israel as the home of
the Jewish people. The prime minister even made canceling the reconciliation
agreement between Fatah and Hamas a condition for resuming negotiations.
Government policy, as expressed in Netanyahu's speech, will end up isolating
Israel to a point that it could face economic and cultural sanctions similar
to those once imposed on apartheid South Africa. Responsibility for such a
crisis will lay squarely on the shoulders of the prime minister and his
colleagues at the top of the diplomatic ladder. The price will be paid by
the public, partying on a slippery slope.
Israel turned the Nakba into a 63-year process
Israel crowns itself as the winner in the global competition of victimhood; yet it manufactures methods of oppression and dispossession.
By Amira Hass
18 May 2011
How natural it is for Israeli spokesmen to assert that the Nakba Day marches from Syria and Lebanon were the product of incitement and foreign calculations. The state, which bases its existence on 2,000 years of longing for and belonging to this country, shows contempt toward palpable displays of belonging to and longing for the same country of those who we expelled 63 years ago - and of their descendants.
The memorial day for the Holocaust, and the memorial day for the Nakba, are behind us. So the time has come to write about them both. "Holocaust" and "Nakba" are mistaken definitions, because they do not distinguish between natural disasters and man-made catastrophes. But the definitions gained currency. So too did negative attitudes, such as the denial of the historical occurrence and its political implications. For example, that Jewish survivors became refugees in their own lands of birth, or that Palestinians in the diaspora and those who remained in the country share a close bond.
Another example would be the refusal to acknowledge the suffering endured by the other. Here it will be said "the Arabs started the war", and there it will be said "the Jews caused the Nakba - the expulsion of the Palestinian people from its homeland, whereas the Palestinians bear no responsibility for the Holocaust - the genocide of the Jewish people."
In a private, personal sense, the Holocaust did not become the "past;" for those who survived it, it continues until they die. Something of this ever-painful continuousness is dictating - to a greater or lesser degree - our own lives, as the offspring of the survivors.
In contrast, with regard to the Jewish collective that came into existence after 1945, the Holocaust has a beginning and an end. The Allies' victory before Germany had time to extinguish additional Jewish communities, the establishment of the State of Israel, Germany's acknowledgment of the murder industry it established - all such events marked the end of this chapter of history.
The same for individual Palestinians, their beloved one who were murdered by Jews or killed in battles, the painful uprooting from homes - never turned into sheer memory. But 1948 is just a first chapter in a series that hasn't ended yet. For those who haven't experienced expulsion and bereavement - Israel provided ample opportunities to share such fate.
How much skill has Israel displayed in the wrong-doing to refugees in Gaza? How many times a week do the "present absentees," refugees who live within the borders of the state, pass by lands which were given to Jews at the behest of the legislators' cunning? What are the statistics of chronic poverty and structural discrimination faced by the "Arab sector" in Israel, and by Palestinian Jerusalemites, if not a nakba by other means?
And what is the sickening similarity between the pressuring of Bedouin away from Negev lands today and the removal of 1948 refugee Bedouin in the Jordan Valley? How is it that after 1967 tens of thousands lost their right to live in the West Bank (including Jerusalem ) and the Gaza Strip? Israel did not overcome its instinct to expel, and is today focusing on the Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Every Jew in the world, whether a citizen of the U.S. or Morocco, has rights in this one country, from the river to the sea, that we denied to those who live in it today, and those who were born in it and grow old as refugees in Lebanon or Syria. And the Oslo process? Israel devised it as a stratagem to impose the solution of reservations.
Israel makes capital out of the six million to justify policies of destruction and expulsion not just in the past, but in the present and future. As the state which claims to be the heir of the Holocaust martyrs, Israel crowns itself as the winner in the global, historical competition of victimhood. Yet it manufactures methods of oppression and dispossession of the individual and the collective, methods which turn the Nakba into a continuing, 63-year process.