Does Israel Want Peace?

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This is the crucial question that confronts every serious student of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Does Israel wish to co-exist peacefully with the Palestinians and its other Arab neighbors? Or does it have an alternative agenda which peace and stability would derail?

Israel continuously professes its desire for peace. But its actions belie the fact. Recently, we have been hearing more than usual the refrains “security of Israel”, “Palestinian violence”, “Palestinian terrorism” and that the Palestinians, the Palestinian National Authority, and Chairman Arafat are not to be “trusted”. Israel has considerable media clout and its spin doctors and supporters continue to echo these slogans. But it might be instructive to look at the obverse side of the coin.

Israel has always shown concern for the security of its Jewish citizens only, and ignored the truth that security is interdependent. As Marc Ellis, Director of the Center for American and Jewish Studies at Baylor University, recently stated “no one is truly free if others are not also free”. This applies equally to security. Israel’s security is intrinsically bound up with the security of the Palestinians é in the first place é and that of its other Arab neighbors. How much security have the Palestinians had over the last fifty years of Israeli rule? Let us review the record.

Palestinians have never had any security under Israel. This applies to Palestinians in Israel proper as well as those under Israeli occupation since 1967. From the inception of the state of Israel in 1948, Palestinians have been subjected to discrimination, injustice, and violence: massacres and forced expulsion (see the new Israeli historians), the razing to the ground of over 400 Palestinian villages, expropriation of lands, unjust laws that discriminate against Palestinians, inequity in allotment of funds and resources, arbitrary confiscation of identity cards, denial of building permits or building extensions (while Palestinian land continued to be expropriated to build homes for Jews only), home demolition, arbitrary detention for indefinite periods of time without due process of law, imprisonment and torture, collective punishment, and countless other acts of harassment and abasement. And since the Palestinian uprising (the Al-Aqsa Intifada) to free their land from occupation: sieges, blockades, helicopter gunships, assassination squads, shelling of residential areas, deliberate targeting of children, destruction of hundreds of acres of farmland, bulldozing of thousands of fruit and olive trees, expropriation of more and more land, and the further encroachment of illegal settlements. How can Israel expect security when it is demanding “security” at the expense of others, and when Palestinians are seething with rage and bitterness at what they have to put up with? How can Israel speak of Palestinian “terrorism” when it is using its army, one of the most powerful in the world, in acts of flagrant “state terrorism”? How can Israel speak of “trust” when it has never given any reason to Palestinians to trust it?

Israel’s agenda does not include peace with the Palestinians and other Arab neighbors. Ariel Sharon’s actions and statements are transparently clear, and reflect Zionist thinking across the political spectrum. The short-range aim is to drive the Palestinians to starvation and despair so that they will accept to live as a subject people in small non-contiguous Bantustans surrounded by ever expanding Jewish settlements, Israeli military posts, and settler by-pass roads. And the long-range final solution is the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian homeland of all Palestinians.

The title of a recent article on Israeli practices in the occupied territories, by Tanya Reinhart, professor at Tel Aviv University, is “WE DIDN’T SEE; WE DIDN’T KNOW”. Apparently, neither the Israeli population at large, nor world Jewry, nor the US Government, Israel’s “strategic ally”, want to see or to know what is happening. Reinhart concludes her article “But in Germany too, most of the Germans were not Nazis. The majority just chose not to know.”

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