Saturday, February 19, 2011

Israel's options in the new Middle East

The coming changes in North Africa and the Middle East will cause a huge shift in the balance of power in the region.

Wikileaks have shown the intransigent nature of Israeli negotiations. This will now change. Israel must start negotiating in good faith.

Although Zionism predated World War 2, the Nazi Holocaust motivated Jews to found a state for their people in Israel.

The psychological effect of the horror of the Holocaust must be remembered and understood as a the basic motive for the paranoid and aggressive position of the Israeli Government.

The State of Israel has had an expansionist policy ever since its foundation, displacing Palestinians to an extent that can be characterised as ethnic cleansing, and has also denied human rights to Palestinians. 

In retaliation for displacement and repression, Palestinians have fought back with hijackings, stones, rockets, and suicide bombings.
In retaliation of this, Israel has responded with ever-greater aerial bombings culminating with the disgraceful bombing of Lebanon in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9.

The mutual, retaliatory, violence-based policy is causing immense human suffering to the peoples of both sides, particularly the Palestinians. Militarism is causing polarisation of opinion, and an escalation of violence that could lead to wider conflict in the Middle East and even global conflict, which could even escalate into nuclear war. 

In order to avoid this disastrous outcome, all parties must focus on a peace settlement based on negotiation and compromise, focused around co-operation in the task of creating a sustainable economy in their arid land.

At the heart of the problem is the fact that the increase in population of Israel/Palestine on the part of both communities demands the functional expansion of the carrying capacity of the land, which demands in turn a functional increase in the supply of water to the area in order to increase the productivity of the land.

This must be based on co-operative water management solutions which will be both innovative and intensive.

It will be based on work on water harvesting, waste minimisation and water recycling, and reafforestation from the coast inwards.

While this work is in progress, the role of the international community is to conceive of and facilitate a way for this situation to come about by dialogue with all actors in the Middle East.

The case for peace is overwhelming from a rational point of view. Reason must displace emotions such as fear and resentment as the primary motive for action.

This objective can only be realised through the mutual recognition of the rights of independent statehood and secure borders of both Palestinians and Israelis; an immediate end to the violence and de-escalation of the arms build-up in the region; enforcement of UN resolutions 242 and 338; international assistance so that both the Palestinian and Israeli states can develop co-operative self-reliance in water management, food production and basic services and industries; and long term exploration of the possibility of establishing a confederation with neighbouring states, with free and equal access for each state's citizens.

All Israelis, Palestinians, and their families should have and be able to exercise full human and civil rights throughout Israel and the occupied territories. Israel should be subject to the Geneva Convention concerning the rights of individuals and communities.

All actors must recognise the right of the people of Israel to exist peacefully within secure borders.

Both the Israeli Government and the PLO to unequivocally reject violence as a means of settling their conflict.
Israel should repeal its present "law of return" because it is incompatible with the full exercise of human rights and is implicitly discriminatory, and is open to the accusation of being racist.

Israel should to have direct talks with representatives of the Palestinian people with a view to ensuring genuine religious, political, economic and other human rights for all people within Israel and the occupied territories.

Israel should allow Palestinians and their families to return to their former homes and be offered full Israeli citizenship, or to compensate those unable or unwilling to return to their homes and/or property.

Arab states should agree a mutual non-aggression pact, and a non-aggression pact with Israel. Such pacts must be guaranteed by the international community.

The United States Government should use its special relationship with Israel to halt military and financial support until Israel enters the dialogue called for above.

The Middle East is faced with a decision. Continuation of the old politics of confrontation and conflict can only lead to war. Co-operation in securing the basis of a sustainable economy for all in the area can lead to a just and lasting peace.

The choice is ours.


Anonymous said...

I wish.

Unfortunately Hamas, and way too many folk in the area, are OBSESSED with 'getting rid' of the Israelis (read Jews). It is ingrained in the religion and can be seen from the conduct of muslim leaders during world war two and holocaust denial to this day from the likes of Ahmedinejad, prominent members of Hamas and the like.

Israel's reasonably open democracy, the prominent role of women in their society and their embracing of minorities such as homosexuals etc shows that they can do the 'live and let live' thing quite readily. I don't think the 'other side' are quite ready for that level of secular 'tolerance'.

The way that people tactfully ignore the anti-semitism, homophobia and repression of arab states always weirds me out. Similar to the way people fete Venezuela, and Chavez can do no wrong in their eyes, despite human rights abuses that would do the generalissimos proud.


It seems unpopular to state the truth these days but the Israelis are the cause and ultimately have the solution to their problems in the Middle East.

From the word go the Israelis broke the terms of the 1917 Balfour Declaration which clearly stated “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.

The only chance of peace in the Middle East is for Israel to withdraw to lines previously recognised prior to the June War of 1967 – i.e. get out of Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

You would think that a people who have experienced such persecution would in turn be benevolent to others – do unto others etc would be a good start in Palestine.

DocRichard said...

Hello Anonymous

There are ugly beliefs, habits and practices on both sides of the divide. I hope we can here avoid detailing the problems, because there are many other discussions where these items are traded. Here I hope we can focus on the solutions. Feel free to share any realistic paths to peace that you know of.

Please give yourself a moniker, even if only a code name in the comment slot, since there are a lot of anonymouses and discussion can become confusing. Thanks.

DocRichard said...

Hi Gideon

It is indeed possible to draw parallels between the Israeli treatment of Palestinians and the Nazi treatment of the Jews. There is a clear difference of degree, but the treatment of them as a people with inferior rights and value is clear. Gaza can in many ways be viewed as effectively a massive prison camp.

Many righteous Jews are aware of the failings and faults of Israeli policy, and are campaigning for peace.

Clearly the expansion must be stopped. It is ironic that the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's latest settlement plan on the same day that the US State Department asked all governments in the region to "recognise the legitimate aspirations of the people".

Religion is a major player. The Orthodox Jews believe that the Almighty has promised the whole land to the Jews. I believe that he also made a similar promise of some kind to the Palestinians, though I do not have chapter and verse on this.

With such intractable absolutes in operation, embuggering the diplomatic negotiations, it seems reasonable to start building community trust at an entirely different level - displacement activity. Hence my dogged persistence with the idea of cooperation over water resources.

Thanks, as ever, for your helpful comments.

No. 6 (same as anon above) said...

Hey Doc

Unfortunately, many in the arab world (currently) appear to have the same objective as the Nazis. And so do their elected representatives Hamas. Negotiations will be very, very, difficult.

And yes Doc, there are idiots on both sides, BUT there seem to be many many more people in the Arab states that for way too long have been controlled by a religion that has been used by many to become a front for suppression of the local peoples through a common hatred of the jewish people.

But all is not lost, the solution I see is in the current wave of protest sweeping the arab world. If those countries become democratic (as Israel already is) then perhaps religion will take a back seat as people reap the rewards of political and economic freedom, a more holistic view of the world and life in general. And as their quality of life increases, hatred towards jews will diminish and we might get somewhere. I also believe a lot of the anti-jewish feeling is down to people looking in on the high standard of living, and free lifestyles enjoyed by most people in Israel and feeling aggrieved as basically that's what they want for themselves and their children but are being denied it by their authoritarian regimes and religious leaders.

The you have a problem of rampant overconsumption and huge increases in CO2 emissions as those countries become fully 'developed'.

The problem for Palestine is that as the arab world develops it may be forgot about. People with improving lifestyles and a bright future tend to lose a bit of their solidarity with others who were in the same boat. If it becomes a forgotten land it may enable Israel to be more restrictive and aggressive. Or it may say "we want some of that too" and itself become less religious and dogmatic about the jews. And that way lies their 42-inch plasma screen and a KFC bargain bucket every fri night. After all, we're all pretty much the same. Let's all hope for the best.

Never a dull moment.


Is everything being lobbed at the state of Israel due to anti semitism or could some of it be anti oppressor?

The point about "we want some of that" is spot on. In the case of the Palistinians it's water.

DocRichard said...

Lobbyists for the Israeli Government policy are very quick to conflate anti-Israeli sentiment as anti-semitic. Having said that, there is an ugly anti-semitic vein in some Israeli critics.

I am very strongly in favour of the best interests of the Israeli people, because their interests happen to coincide with the interests of the Palestinian people, if real long term interests were correctly understood. It is the policies of the political parties, religious and ruling groups which throw up the absolute incompatibilities.