Is a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict REALLY possible?
By Alan Hart
I’ll begin my answer by saying that for some weeks I have been suppressing in my mind the conclusion that Palestine is a lost cause and that there is no point in me continuing to devote a great deal of time (as I have done for three decades) to writing books and articles which expose Zionism’s version of history – the version upon which the first and still existing draft of Western history is constructed – for the propaganda nonsense it mainly is. In other words I was close to concluding that I should close my Palestine file.
And while I was debating with myself about whether or not to do so I could see only one most likely end-game scenario, in two parts.
In part one, when Israel’s leaders conclude that they cannot break the will of the occupied and oppressed Palestinians and cause them to surrender on Zionism’s terms or, better still, pack up and leave to make a new life elsewhere, there will be a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
In part two, when the rising, global tide of anti-Israelism is transformed into anti-Semitism, there will be another great turning against Jews everywhere. This would be good news for Zionism’s leaders because it would enable them to say something like the following. “The world has always hated Jews and will always hate Jews, and that’s why Israel was created – to be a refuge of last resort for Jews everywhere. It is also why we will do whatever is necessary to keep this refuge secure. World, if you don’t understand that – go to hell.”
My response to Zionism’s assertion the world will always hate Jews is this. Yes, it’s true that on and off down the centuries Jews were persecuted; but there’s a very, very strong case for saying that after the Nazi holocaust, and because of it, the giant of anti-Semitism would have gone back to sleep and almost certainly died in its sleep if the major powers had not allowed Zionism to have its ethnic cleansing way.
There were two main reasons why I was entertaining the conclusion that Palestine is a lost cause.
One is the hypocrisy of Western leaders and their governments in talking about their commitment to a two-state solution while being complicit by default in Israel’s on-going colonization (ethnic cleansing slowly and by stealth) of 1967-occupied territory.
The fact that 134 countries have recognized the state of Palestine (what is it and where is it?) doesn’t change anything on the ground. One lady who believes it will is Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom. After her country’s decision to recognise the state of Palestine she said that recognition would “put each party on a LEVEL PLAYING FIELD and help to move the peace process forward.”
Is she not aware that Israel’s leaders and the Zionist lobby in America control Congress and that the Palestinians have no influence there? Is she also not aware that nuclear-armed Israel is one of the most powerful countries in the world and that apart from Hamas’s not very effective rockets the only weapons available to the occupied and oppressed Palestinians are stones? (Israel has just brought in a law to make Palestinian stone throwing punishable by up to 20 years in prison!)
In that light how anybody can believe that recognizing Palestine puts it on a level playing field with Israel is far beyond my comprehension.
I put the complicity by default of Western leaders and their governments down to two fears – fear of offending the Zionist lobby too much and fear, expressed to me by former President Carter, of the havoc nuclear-armed Israel might create in the Middle East and possibly beyond if its deluded leaders felt they were being pushed too far.
The other main reason why I was entertaining the conclusion that Palestine is a lost cause is to do with Israel itself.
For it to make a good faith commitment to peace a big majority of its Jews would have to acknowledge (1) that a terrible wrong was done to the Palestinians by Zionism; and (2) that the wrong must be righted in a way that provides an acceptable amount of justice for the Palestinians and security for all.
I couldn’t see that happening because most Israeli Jews have been brainwashed by Zionist propaganda and can only see themselves as victims and not the oppressors they actually are; and as a consequence they are beyond reason on the matter of justice for the Palestinians. (“The trouble with us Israelis is that we have become the victims of our own propaganda.” That statement, quoted in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, was made to me in 1980 by then retired Major General Shlomo Gazit, the best and the brightest of Israel’s Directors of Military Intelligence. It was his response to my statement to him that Israel’s existence had never, ever, been in danger from any combination of Arab military force and that its assertion to the contrary was a myth).
I’ll add here that I was and am sick and tired of having to listen to and read the propaganda bullshit delivered by all who speak for Netanyahu’s Israel. That said it is not Netanyahu who comes closest to making me want to vomit when he speaks. It is Ron Proser, Israel’s ambassador to the UN. In the open Security Council debate on tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem he said, “The prime obstacle to peace is not the settlements.” In his speech and body language Proser is the personification of the self-righteousness that a former Israeli Director of Military Intelligence, Yehoshafat Harkabi, described as the biggest threat to Israel’s existence. (If I didn’t have many Jewish friends and a good understanding of how Jews have been brainwashed and why very many of them who loathe what Israel has become are frightened to speak out, the odious Proser could provoke the Gentile me into becoming anti-Jew).
It was the article in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg with the headline The Crisis In US-Israel Relations Is Officially Here that caused me to put my conclusion that Palestine is a lost cause on hold. Here is a taste of what Goldberg wrote.
The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.
This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations – dual guarantors of the putatively “unbreakable” bond between the U.S. and Israel – is now the worst it’s ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program.
The fault for this breakdown in relations can be assigned in good part to the junior partner in the relationship, Netanyahu, and in particular, to the behaviour of his cabinet. Netanyahu has told several people I’ve spoken to in recent days that he has “written off” the Obama administration, and plans to speak directly to Congress and to the American people should an Iran nuclear deal be reached. For their part, Obama administration officials express, in the words of one official, a “red-hot anger” at Netanyahu for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process.
As Stephen Walt noted, the angry remarks quoted by Goldberg show how much top U.S. officials (and their president) would like to put pressure on Israel to alter its behaviour.
If Netanyahu has written off the Obama administration that presumably means he believes he has nothing to fear from it, but could he be wrong? Is it beyond doubt that Obama, kicked in the teeth by the mid-term elections, is now the lamest of lame duck presidents?
My reading between the lines of what has been reported to date about the discussions with Iran is that with the mid-term elections out of the way Obama (and therefore the P5+1) will reach an agreement with Iran before the Republicans take control of the Senate in January. He wants a deal because it’s in America’s own best interests, because he needs Iran’s help with the management of the mayhem in Iraq and Syria and because he needs to demonstrate that he can still get things done.
If he does do a deal with Iran and make it stick, and if he survives (I don’t rule out the possibility that he could be assassinated), the question arising will be this.
In what is left of his presidency does he have the courage, the balls, to use the leverage he has to try to cause Israel to end its defiance of international law and be serious about peace on terms the vast majority of Palestinians and most Arabs and other Muslims everywhere could accept?
Saudi Arabia will be almost as furious as Netanyahu, the neo-fascists to the right of him and the Zionist lobby in America if there is a P5+1 agreement with Iran, but Obama could appease the Saudis by saying and meaning that his plan for ending the Israel-Palestine conflict will be based on their Arab League endorsed initiative of 2002. (This offers Israel peace and a normalization of relations with the entire Arab and wider Muslim world in exchange for an end to its 1967 occupation. As it is presently worded this Arab peace initiative calls for East Jerusalem to the be the capital of the Palestinian state, but there would be no Arab objection to the whole of Jerusalem becoming an open, undivided city and the capital of two states. The Arabs are also prepared to compromise on the matter of the return of the dispossessed Palestinian refugees by accepting, as the pragmatic Arafat and his senior leadership colleagues did without saying so in public, that the return would have to be restricted to the territory of the Palestinian state. And the truth is that even Hamas would accept this compromise if it was approved by a referendum).
If there is an agreement with Iran, and if he was truly wise, Obama would follow it up without delay by inviting top Saudi and Iranian leaders to the White House to urge them to end their regional (Sunni-Shia) rivalry. If it could be ended, and if Egypt’s President Sisi was put on notice that American funding and other assistance would cease if his tyranny continued, the Arab world could be transformed. What I mean is that its descent into violent chaos and more not less authoritarianism could be stopped; and the ideas and hopes which inspired the “Arab Spring” could be given new and sustainable life.
Now I must answer my headline question – Is a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict really possible?
My answer is yes perhaps, but only if Obama has the courage to take on the Zionist lobby and its agents in Congress in order to secure the freedom to use the leverage he has to try to end Israel’s defiance of international law and cause it to be serious about peace on terms that would provide an acceptable amount of justice for the Palestinians and security for all.
In my recent post Another Daydream – How President Obama could earn his Nobel peace prize I indicated how he could put Israel on notice that he was prepared to use the leverage he has. He could do it by taking the lead in securing a binding UN Security Council Resolution that would demand, in accordance with Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967, an end to Israel’s occupation in exchange for a comprehensive peace with the entire Arab and Muslim world including Iran. The resolution would say that if within a specified time Israel did not make the necessary withdrawals for peace based on two states with Jerusalem an undivided, open city and the capital of both states, it would be isolated and sanctioned, with America taking the lead in the sanctioning process.
Because what most Israeli Jews care most about is the relationship with America, there has to be a 60-40 chance, perhaps even a 70-30 chance, that such an Obama strategy would cause a significant majority of them to insist that their government changed course and complied with the new Security Council resolution.
There are, in fact, some very senior Israeli military and other security personnel who are already calling on Netanyahu to change course. According to a report in The Jewish Daily, a group of 106 retired generals, Mossad directors and national police commissioners signed a letter to Netanyahu urging him to “initiate a diplomatic process” based on a regional framework for peace with the Palestinians.
Several of those who signed what was called the “protest letter” told Israel’s Mako-Channel 2 News in interviews that Israel had the strength and the means to reach a two-state solution that “doesn’t entail a security risk,” but hadn’t managed to reach an agreement because of “weak leadership.” Reserve Major General Eyal Ben-Reuven said this:
We’re on a steep slope toward an increasingly polarized society and moral decline, due to the need to keep millions of people under occupation on claims that are presented as security-related. I have no doubt that the prime minister seeks Israel’s welfare, but I think he suffers from some sort of political blindness that drives him to scare himself and us.
The letter was initiated by a former Armoured Corps commander, reserve Major General Amnon Reshef. He told Yediot Ahronot in an interview that he was “tired of a reality of rounds of fighting every few years instead of a genuine effort to adopt the Saudi initiative.”
What was said by those who signed the letter reminded me of something else former DMI Gazit said to me in 1980 and which I didn’t quote in my book. “If we had a government consisting of only former Directors of Military intelligence we would have had peace with the Palestinians long ago.”
The reason why I put my conclusion that Palestine is a lost cause on hold was that I thought, on reflection after reading Goldberg’s article, that it would wrong to make a 100 percent assumption that Obama won’t do what is in the best interests of America, the Jews of the world as well as those in Israel and, of course, the Palestinians.
While I was reflecting I also recalled the words of former President Carter. As I reveal in Is Peace Possible? the Epilogue to Volume Three of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, he said the following when my wife and I had the pleasure of a lengthy conversation with him and Rosalyn. Any American president has only two windows of opportunity to confront the Zionist lobby and its mouthpieces in Congress. The first window is the first nine months of his first term because after that the fund raising for the mid-term elections begins. The second window is the last year of his second term if he has one.
I must be honest and say I have only the smallest amount of hope that in what is left of his presidency Obama will find the courage to do what is necessary to give peace its very last chance. In my view he is more likely to wash his hands of the Israel-Palestine conflict and say, as he said when he first called for a settlement freeze and Netanyahu told him to go to hell, that he and America “can’t want peace more than the parties themselves.”
Such an excuse for another and final Obama surrender to Zionism (par for the American presidential course) would be a denial of one of the truths of the history of the making and sustaining of the conflict, it being that as far back as 1979 the pragmatic had Arafat prepared the ground on his side for peace on terms any rational government in Israel would have accepted with relief. That, 35 years, is how long the occupied and oppressed Palestinians, the vast majority of them, have been prepared to make peace with an Israel confined to its borders as they were on the eve of the 1967 war.
Of course I would like my pessimism about Obama doing what is right and best for all parties (and the whole world) to be proved by events to have been without foundation, but if events do not provide the proof I will take my conclusion that Palestine is a lost cause off hold and close my Palestine file, in order to do something more useful with what is left of my life.