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Archive for May 2012

Obama, the song remained the same

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I do not like to be the one who says, “I told you so”, but… on March 1, 2008, I happened to post, under the title, Obama, the song remains the same, that Barack (pronounced: barak) Hussein Obama, was an ironic triptych of names that seemed a path from the preordained failure of Camp David to the Twin Towers, rising from Iraqi former Rais. Nomen omen – I had added – let’s hope not.

But I had also recalled that, looking back to Obama’s comments in May 2007, Shmuel Rosner, Washington correspondent for Haaretz, had noted that the black candidate towards Israel was as strong as Clinton, supportive as Bush and friendly as Giuliani. Concluding that the chap was “pro-Israel. Period.”
In that occasion I underlined, to his credit, in line with the democratic soul which formally had supported him, that it was said (Bill Fletcher Jr. of TransAfrica Forum) that Obama had opposed the invasion of Iraq and had had the courage to say so. But unfortunately it had been apparent, during the course of the year – along the presentation of his presidential candidacy in February 2007 in the USA – that the aspiring-emperor of the West would keep an absolutely uncritical attitude with respect to Israel. Really, an unabashed silence was what Obama had kept, first, in regard to the disproportionate campaign of Lebanon, about the attacks against the infrastructure, the illegal use of cluster bombs and the lies that the Jewish State had offered to justify the destruction wrought on civilian population in that country.

Anyway, in August 2007, the path chosen by Obama to pave its possible access to the White House with the support of the American Jewish community, had been marked. He had quickly denied the careless words spoken previously about the suffering of Palestinians in the Middle East, and he had took distance by Brzezinski, sinful to the highest degree for having abstained from the chorus of criticism against Jimmy Carter on the occasion of the publication of his book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”. So he had kept his way, floating towards Israeli consent, by declaring his trust in the advice of Dennis Ross – former architect of the dubious “peace efforts” by Clinton at Camp David – for the issues related to the Middle East.

How can we be surprised, so, if in sight of a possible second mandate, Obama is not willing to change a successful recipe? Indeed it seems doubtful that such a pattern is to be considered immutable through the time, but as of today I would not feel to make a bet on such a major change of attitude – and relevant interests – in US politics.
Sure, Israel has not even tried to counter the feeling of progressive distrust, or worse, about its politics, if not with the hasbara blackmailing through the media. But still a little more time is needed to increase the percentage of young Americans – be they Jewish or not, it does not matter at all – ready to reject the growing situation of apartheid in Israel-Palestine and the warmongering attitude assumed for the time being against Iran.
But you really think that the western youth of 2012 is willing to wage war to 70 million of educated young people, mostly because of the rhetoric of their leaders? So much for the record, I really don’t believe that. Notwithstanding their ancestors’ past.

Anyway, in 2008 we happened to smell some perfume of change. Maybe a more careful look at the facts, and the sudden turnspeak (“that’s not Orwell”, I quote, “Orwell would never use such a clunky phrase”) of the future surprising winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, would have unveiled the pretty different reality of the events, or un-events, or turnabouts, that we were to look at.
But if we can’t have a better glimpse to the future, next time we know there will be a little more to do before creating the havoc that we are destined to face because of the rooted unwillingness towards a real change.

Written by pipistro

May 30, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Posted in Iran, Lobby, USA, War

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Dershowitz rebuked by Israeli right wing

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What they say in a nutshell: “Israel has consistently been met with a wall of hatred (…) and still Dershowitz refuses to budge from his two-state model” (Arutz Sheva).
I might say that my hearth doesn’t bleed for that, since I don’t bet a damn on the simulacre of a two-state solution sponsored by Dershowitz. Being a lawyer, he must be of course – so to say – a professional liar. And maybe he’s proud of that. As legal counselor he makes his job, and he’s capable of legitimately advocating any factual crap in order to defend his case, whatever. Maybe his goal is not only for Israeli benefit, but rather for feeding his own peculiar individualism. By the way, he has confirmed his unabashed arrogance, fighting against Norman Finkelstein, who was trying to get his tenure at DePaul. Really, Dershowitz can’t conceal the fact that his initiative was clearly a revenge for having being exposed by Finkelstein as a plagiarist.
So, I can’t imagine anything worse for any peace process than a lawyer, who demonstrated to be vindictive and arrogant, since he calls himself equitable and assumes a fake-humanitarian role. Too bad that in doing so, his counsel to the Palestinians was that of forgetting their rights (e.g. under UN Resolution 242), in favour of the Israeli needs and desires. See, for instance, the forum at the JFK School of Government, in 2006, where he debated with Noam Chomsky.
I mean, there’s no need for another “generous offer” and its equally generous apologists.

As for the article on Arutz Sheva, I would not archive the file under the usual garbage section. But it’s pretty hard not to.
After the customary attack against any critics of Israel, and quickly tracing back anti-zionism to anti-semitism and stuff, the compiler tries to tear in pieces one hundred years of history, presenting, to the casual readers, a Jewish State thoroughly immaculate in relation to the harsh history of the evicted Palestinians. So candid towards the grabbing of land and seizing of peoples. Whereas, omitting the aggression and massacre, the subsequent leaving is depicted as a honest withdraw. (“The failed Oslo talks, the Al Aqsa Intifada, the rise of Hamas, the Second Lebanon War; when will we finally realize that they do not want peace? (…) When will we learn that any land given to them will only be a launching pad for future attacks against us?”)
No way to make them understand that handing back stolen land to the owner is neither a concession, nor a gift.

Written by pipistro

May 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Posted in Israel, Palestine

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All and all

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A black hole is a remarkably compact celestial body. It’s mass and energy, both of them harnessed in a unit so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape its pull. Well, now think of an ancient black hole, of unimaginable density but extremely small, and no thing around it. A point that contained all the mass and all the energy which is then emitted to form the known universe. One point that has just all content. All energy and matter and what composes us, everything, every thought and every life, every birth and every death, every origin and every end, because everything can be transformed, but nothing is destroyed. From that point we come and to that point we will return. All and all, because everything is part of it. Now put a name to that point.

Written by pipistro

May 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Universe

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Further reflections (media and international law)

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A destabilizing factor within the Israel-Palestine conflict, has been the division between the followers of the Palestinian dream, skilfully orchestrated by the western mainstream, particularly after the 2006 elections. On the one hand, we find an entity openly collaborationist, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, with the legacy of Fatah, on the other, there’s the faction we are used to summarize (but it’s not entirely correct) as Islamic Resistance, headed by Hamas.
In this respect the Western world has given its worse with the help of the media. In fact, the US-Israeli bloc, with its clients and contingent valets, has omitted to consider the political process initiated by the movement of Hamas, and has stubbornly refused to advance the dialogue and appreciate its proposals. In short, Western countries have embraced U.S. and Israeli propaganda. They made themselves accomplice in the blackmail to the Palestinians, and consented to the unacceptable collective punishment imposed on those, who – anything one can think – had chosen democratically their leadership.
Thus, the definition given by Israel to the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas, as “hostile entity”, has been a step toward new, disturbing scenarios. To some extent a leap of faith, unsusceptible of analysis. Hard to imagine that this development would have lead to positive consequences. Moreover the usual Ehud Barak, defined by Avnery, of the Israeli left, “criminal of peace” (referring to the facts of Camp David) and later by Hamas – more prosaically – “brutal murderess of children,” had elaborated a plan of gradual strangulation of the Gaza Strip, saying, according to the Palestinian agencies, that he wanted to be sure that very little food and medicines could reach Gaza, and specifying that the Strip should be forbidden from being provided with electricity, pace the message of the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who had to declare the international lack of legitimacy of the siege.

In relation to the intention of starving the population of the Strip – regardless of the provisions of international law, discussed below – the path to peace (I speak of a path, but it is something completely different from those that are normally described as peace processes) needs fixed points determined. It should simplify, with the few tools available. And this after having excluded, a priori, the reserves and the apparent pathology of the mind (and soul), favoring a minimum of ethical behavior, outside of obvious lust for power, for expansion, far from the claims of moral heritage, and from result of millennia of fabulous and anachronistic divine investiture. And even beyond (is intuitive) of a principle now elected as a justification of all evil, that the end – as the disproportionate response to the Qassam craft missiles – justifies the means. The same principle that led people in justify aberrations such as the use of torture and targeted assassinations, Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, the brutality of mercenaries and their misdeeds in occupied Iraq, and Afghanistan, and so forth.

Take in good faith a way for peace requires, as we said, some tools. One is the international law. There are rules that must apply to the mere fact that they are basically aimed at the peaceful coexistence of peoples and are in each case the best tool that the international community has managed to develop. But the law is nothing if its application is not fair and, moreover, equally applied to all its members. First of all, if you do not get that these rules are considered mandatory, and if you do not impose the principle that those who claim to be freed from these rules, are not worthy of protection. A goal still unattained. Specifically, the sponsorship of the only remaining superpower, the USA, has introduced an unnatural imbalance in the whole affair Middle East, opposing, its veto to dozens of UN resolutions sponsored or endorsed by the rest of the world. As a matter of fact it is equally important to understand that international law, when filtered by power relations, diplomacy, compromise, greed and bad faith, turns away from his ability to be an instrument of peace, a starting point and a calming element for the prediction of international events, with security and benefits that may ensue.
An illuminating example. The Resolution No. 242 of 22 November 1967 issued by the UN Security Council immediately following the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, later part of the Resolution n. 338, October 22, 1973, is a compromise on the actual words and his most important pronouncements do contradict with the premises. In this case, also law becomes susceptible of discussion, however outlandish, unfounded or pretentious. It becomes a simulacrum of the rule and instead of providing a fixed point becomes useless. In fact, how many people are willing to defend and assert the principle that a rule of law, that tries to commit suicide with a clear contradiction within it, must be interpreted so that its rulings have a concrete meaning (it is an elementary principle general) rather than no one?
Specifically, precisely talking about what is still a pillar of international law recognized and invoked in order to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, the Resolution 242 had confirmed and emphasized “the inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by war”, but the subsequent “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from [?] territories occupied in the recent conflict,” has annihilated with its ambiguous wording its terse clarity. The diplomatic artifice that suggested the omission of the definite article (territories vs. the territories) in the Resolution – at least, in his official English text, but not in French – has built the reasons of its ineffectiveness, giving inspiration to a discussion never appeased and entirely specious. Forty years after its enactment, no need to point out that Lord Caradon, the chief author of the text, has declared: “It was from occupied territories that the Resolution called for withdrawal. The test was which territories were occupied. That was a test not possibly subject to any doubt. As a matter of plain fact East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan and Sinai were occupied in the 1967 conflict. It was on withdrawal from occupied territories that the Resolution insisted” (Lord Caradon et al., U.N. Security Council Resolution 242: A Case Study in Diplomatic Ambiguity (Washington DC 1981.)
The ambiguity was the result of a compromise. But bringing the still point of law, self-sufficient in itself, to its natural utility (which is to be a rule that can not be neglected,) it would have needed at least, as the next event, the good faith of the related players, to derive the consequences and benefits denied from the outset of its wording. Good faith on which even today cannot be counted. It ‘s an example of how, in fact diminishing the effectiveness of international law, namely the ability to be practical source of obligations, a possible instrument of peace is rendered useless.

The information. A great tool for knowledge, communication and peace. But if it’s flawed, like the law, by the power relations, is compromised by bad faith and becomes an instrument of ignorance and death. We’re seeing – in fact, grows in front of us – his umpteenth betrayal in relation to the Iranian nuclear issue, for which there is fatalism (“God forbid”), and powerless, looking at the re-release of the Iraqi situation. The conflict is instigated in the media going crazy over the world, depicting as it were fresh water come to a war, a scenario unbearable and unpredictable. Perhaps in this regard we must wake up and look specifically at what is happening day by day under our eyes. Someone is threatening to wage war on a country consisting of 70 million people, mostly young and well educated, who never moved war, nor threat of war to anyone. And on the same track, some other one is building stories of unlikely alliances, aimed at equally improbable ambition for hegemony in the region.

Similar impulses and similar lies have led to the disastrous situation in Iraq and Aghanistan, still unresolved. But evidently there is no limit to the arrogance and stupidity , and no limit to the myopia of those who favour the seeds of another war in the Middle East, as they could earn some possible contingent advantage. Under this aspect is disastrously suspect the EU intervention in Iran’s nuclear debate. Nor we can trust in the recent attitude assumed by IAEA, though it’s not possible to forget the reserves formulated by the former Director General in view of the aggression on Iraq, unfortunately fallen into the void.

The fact that Iran, attacked by the media for years, does not intend to lower the head, even from the aspect of communication, and asserts the possibility of openly fool the logic of double track, which sees U.S. and the West, uncritically aligned, as bearers of different behaviors in similar situations. So the Islamic Republic has officially asked the United Nations inspection on Israeli nuclear capabilities. And I wonder till what extent the old Europe will be willing to turn a blind eye, fancying as legitimate the official policy of Israel, namely of recognized and institutionalized (nuclear) “ambiguity”, when threatening are the winds of war directed, for the same reason, against another sovereign State. A State that officially – at least in a world governed by law – will not surrender to the medieval rule of the strongest. That criticized by Chomsky, namely the infamous imperial pattern: “what we say goes”.

Written by pipistro

May 21, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Iran, Israel, Palestine

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Some not so new reflections on the Israel-Palestine conflict

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The try to say something new about the Middle East, as well as to expect to find out new solutions to problems that since 64 years, just to give us a date, have beset this bloodstained region, means to aspire to the Nobel Prize for peace or for arrogance. The first is unattainable even in the wildest dreams of a humble observer of world events, and would also be sort of a devalued award by some attributions given, at least, in a questionable way. Exactly under the heading “peace”, in facts, there has been who has obtained it by virtue of a commitment or even by virtue of a limited and contingent façade (among others come to mind Henry Kissinger, Anwar al-Sadat, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, Yasser Arafat). It would remain the Nobel Prize for arrogance, that does not exist, and still personally I do not care to receive it. So we do without new solutions and prestigious awards.

Thinking about it, one can’t see then why a solution should be linked to something new. Perhaps because so far with remedies as they were designed and implemented we have not achieved anything. And why on earth should there be a transcendent and extraordinary solution in order to remediate to situations due to mankind, with all his weaknesses and his aspirations? Actually, are not the old ideas that do not hold water, but the bad faith with which any possible hypothesis of peace has been devalued, sabotaged and sunk in distrust and fatalism. Of course, time will keep on doing its job, but how much suffering could be avoided, looking at the reality, the facts for what they are, and trying to anticipate the fatal evolution of the situation? A concrete point of departure is, therefore, the one to think it is not necessary a superior intervention to accommodate in a reasonable and human way, old issues festering from pathological degeneration of ordinary feelings, such as fear, greed, mistrust and spirit of revenge.

In dealing of the Middle East, the first thought goes immediately, before all, to the Israel-Palestine conflict. To this end, it seems necessary, from the beginning, a need to simplify and reduce to a few basic facts, the core of the problem and the tools available to deal with what, otherwise, looks like a useless mass of opinions, which, if properly presented, succeed in depicting as it were correct, any point of view and its opposite. Which is obviously not possible. Defending to the bitter end one or the other flag, and though the knowledge of history enables us to go back – at will – ten, hundred, thousand, ten thousand years to find a reasonable excuse, however destructive, to the conduct of any party, this approach is totally unnecessary. It says so the blood actually flowing as a river in Palestine. Looking for reasons or justification for the wrong done by the humans, in facts, does not solve anything. And nothing good comes from ancient legacies. No good, especially, from raising the memory of wrongs suffered as a fetish for obtaining the alleged justification for any future action.

Under this aspect would be right Shimon Peres, who, in a debate in Qatar (Doha, 20 January 2007), has invited his virtual Palestinian rival to forget the past and look to a different future, but doing so, he has simultaneously demonstrated that he does not forget his own heavy reserves. That is, the pretences that he himself, on behalf of the Jewish state, doesn’t intend to give up, either in words. For example, dealing with the territorial issue, about the denied, thorny question of the division of Jerusalem. On that occasion, Peres had done, in practice, the same mistakes of the past. It doesn’t matter if one opens a blog on Haaretz and consents to debate if the sole purpose is that of winning, with the words, the resistance of others. We’re talking about sort of a “dove”, but he stifles the impulse self-critical – which also should exist – and decides within himself, a priori, to fight and not to negotiate. And the doves need to talk, starting with Peres (defined by the radical Noam Chomsky’s “iconic mass murderer”,) recalling that the misdeeds of Labor (party of the progressive Israelis) were lethal to the bogus peace process that started in Oslo, as much as their brethren of the right of Likud. Matter of fact, they have been even more effectively destructive, promoting the expansion of indiscriminate and illegal settlements in the occupied territories, and implementing a disastrous state of affairs. In a nutshell, rowing against peace.

But the principle ventilated hypocritically by Shimon Peres, and formerly even more hypocritically, by Alan Dershowitz, is – in words – correct. It’s helpful to know history, but it is constructive to use it solely to explain and interpret the resulting behavior, albeit irrational, because, as someone said, it is not rational to ignore the irrational motives that affect people’s behavior. Rather, is criminal, instrumental and discriminatory, to abuse it and take advantage of that. Great, so, the idea of forgetting in order to restart. So far extremely poor its implementation.

A trail that feeds of the past, of reasons and wrongs, of missed opportunities, of bloodshed, is soon obliterated by a heavy burden of absolute lack of confidence. It’s the same mistrust that has also helped to stifle the desire for peace, alive and real, in the region. The distrust and pessimism which have undermined, for example, the so-called peace process, started in Oslo, stillborn once betrayed in the spirit (according to Shlomo Ben-Ami) and in the letter. Just from Oslo (1993 onwards) and then with the death of Rabin (1995), it was seen undermine and deliberately kill an idea, and the little good that was achieved. Bad faith has prevailed, whereas Oslo had been, first, systematically sabotaged by the right of Netanyahu, and later, thanks to the disastrous interlude of Barak in Camp David (on July 2000), over to the parameters of Clinton (December 2000), to the attempt of Taba (January 2001), down towards the infamous wall of Ariel Sharon.

With the death of Oslo, which was decreed in open words by Sharon, was natural the distrust and the disappearance of an idea that was making its way towards the so called “two-state solution”. That is, two states – Israel and Palestine – allegedly capable of living side by side in mutual respect. Hence the need to adapt to another solution – to the great scandal – the one envisaged by Noam Chomsky, later embraced by Edward Said and then revived by the careful opinion of analysts, such as Ali Abunimah, and professors, as Tony Judt, Ilan Pappè, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. But why the two-state solution is actually dead? I think mainly because of the lack of courage and honesty on the part of Israel, to make a choice – however painful – and move from expansion and greed in favour of security and peace. And with Israel I obviously intend its leadership, which has not been able to explain to people (real men and women, that grow up their children and earn their living), the benefits of that first genuine option for peace.

Written by pipistro

May 19, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Posted in Israel, Palestine

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The Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict for dummies (Fifth, final Part, 1992-2002)

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So we are in 1992, and the climate is more relaxed than usual (so to speak). On 30 October last year (1991) was held in Madrid the Peace Conference for the Middle East, sponsored by Bush Sr. and Gorbachev, which was attended by Arab states, represented by their foreign ministers, Israeli Prime Minister Shamir and a Palestinian delegation (the PLO has not participated) and on 16 December 1991 the UN General Assembly has revoked Resolution 339 of 1976 which condemned Zionism as a form of racism and discrimination (see Part 3). The U.S., fresh of having waged war to Iraq (the first, so-called Gulf War) and aware of the importance of new possible alliances in the area, push for a general solution of the problem in the Middle East.

At the end of 1992, the Soviet Union is disintegrating. It is ending, for the U.S., the threat posed by the Soviet bloc, the cold war has cooled. The U.S. are planning total control. Russia – that has endless problems at home – sponsors peace in the Middle East. Meanwhile, an episode of usual abuse, in December 1992 Israel has deported more than 400 Palestinians in Lebanon. The UN Security Council strongly condemns this initiative and provides for their immediate return.

We are now in 1993. Take place in Oslo in August, with the mediation of Norway, secret talks between the PLO and the Israeli Labor Shimon Perez regarding an agreement on autonomy for Gaza and the Palestinian city of Jericho. The lines dashed in the Oslo agreements are actually quite vague.
In September there is an exchange of letters between Arafat (PLO) and Israeli Prime Minister Rabin, in which: Yasser Arafat recognizes Israel’s right to exist in peace and security; Rabin recognized that the PLO represents the Palestinian people.
With the patronage of U.S. President Bill Clinton (who is not only famous for other personal matters of an entirely different species), on September 13, 1993, Arafat and Rabin put their signature, in Washington, to a Declaration of Principles in view of possible arrangements (all to be determined and develop) for the Palestinian autonomy. Indeed, it establishes a period of 5 years of Palestinian autonomy in order to complete negotiation, on the basis of UN Resolution 242, which must begin no later than three years on: In particular providing the Israeli withdrawal from some areas of the occupied West Bank. Comes the so-called Palestinian Authority with the task of administering the territories assigned to Palestinian control.
But all the most important and thorny issues are referred back to future negotiations. In particular, the problem of refugees, East Jerusalem, settlements, boundaries, water and so on.
Oh well, some said, better than nothing.

Anyway, in 1994 and 1995, although any kind of violence still remains a constant, especially in the occupied territories, at the political level the PLO and Israel conclude in May, an agreement on the administration of theGaza Strip and the Jericho area.
In July, Arafat gets back to Palestine and establishes his headquarters in Gaza. In August is signed an agreement, as “preparation” for the transfer of administration of the territories that have been “left” to Palestinian Autonomy. Israel and Jordan sign a peace treaty.
Based on the Declaration of Principles of 1993 (Washington) is signed an agreement between Israel and the PLO for autonomy on the West Bank and Gaza.
Everything is going as best it could, when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated by a student of the extreme right in Israel, in Tel Aviv, on November 4, 1995.

In 1996, the Likud (right party) wins the elections with Benjamin Netanyahu (defeating labourist Shimon Peres) and the situation remains essentially frozen until 1999. This, as I said, does not mean that among the Israeli right and the left there is this great diversity of views with respect to some important problems, such as settlements in the occupied territories, hypocritically distinguished into illegal and legal settlements, all of which was implemented during governments from both Right and Left.

Between 1997 and 1999, we are necessarily quick. To be noted that in 1997 the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government reach an (hallucinating) agreement under which the Palestinians gain control of 80% of the city of Hebron, while the remaining 20% is kept overprotected by the Israeli army, in the possession of about 400 (yes, four hundred) ultra-orthodox religious Jews.
Also in 1997 (February) a census among the Palestinian population counts approximately 2.9 million Palestinians in the occupied territories. Of these, 1,869,818 in the West Bank (including occupied Jerusalem), and 1,020,813 in the Gaza Strip.
Roughly 210,000 other people, out of the census, live in East Jerusalem.
Then, to tell it easyer, the Labour goes back to power in 1999 with Ehud Barak. There was much talk of Barak and his “generous concessions”, but most words have been put into the mouth of someone who has an interest in supporting a sort of Palestinian rejection to any situation of peace and, above all, we’re dealing with absolutely superficial analysis.
If it is true that with Barak the Palestinian Authority, belatedly and with difficulty, gains the theoretical control (of course, only administrative and not military) on 40% of the West Bank and 75% of the Gaza Strip, it is equally true that this remains a territory fragmented and discontinuous. The Palestinian autonomy areas are disconnected and surrounded by the territories under Israeli military control, in favor of the colonists settled deep into territories contiguous to “Palestinian” ones, who behave as they please with the unqualified support of the army.
Basically, then, Barak does not commit that much in the plan drawn up in Washington, instead he culpably devotes for nearly a year, without success, in the negotiations to reach an agreement with Syria.

By this time we are in 2000, and the Palestinians are nervous for the delay in the alleged peace path, and not getting even on paper, what was to be hoped on the premise and the “promises” of Washington. In this situation, in itself not brilliant, Barak finally realizes it’s time to get back to the negotiating table, but only for personal reasons: his government’s majority was cleaved and he fears, ahead of elections scheduled for February 2001, not to have the ‘support of the Israeli left, after having made his own business for one year. Bill Clinton is charged with the mediation, but also he is in a process of delegitimization in the upcoming elections, perhaps but not only, for the mess he made with the Lewinski affair. Meanwhile (May 2000) Israel withdraws from occupied territories in Lebanon, even under pressure from the Lebanese Hezbollah, which we have already spoken.
Whatever it is, in July 2000 Clinton manages to drag Barak and Arafat in the U.S. (at Camp David) to realize into a real treatise the Oslo accords.
It is at this point that Barak advances his infamous “generous offer” (known to history in this way), that, on the one hand, is objectively unacceptable, because it extends and generalizes to the entire West Bank the plan of fragmentation of territory under Palestinian control (with yoke conditions with regard to resources, borders, settlements, water), while he refuses to withdraw from East Jerusalem, to address the issue of Palestinian refugees, to deal with the dismantling of Jewish settlements. On the other hand, he puts in the mouth to the propaganda of western media an absolutely false event: namely that it had been Arafat to mess up the Camp David accords.

As a matter of fact, despite everything, it is Barak who delays and stops several times during the negotiations, and then puts forward a proposal that Arafat could never accept, nor sell to his people in comparison with what was instead obtained from Lebanon, from Egypt and Jordan (i.e. the return of all territories occupied by Israel). Moreover in a territory fragmented and interspersed with large areas occupied by Jewish settlers, that could possibly be swapped with minor areas in Israeli territory (as a proportion of 9 to 1).
But the appropriate unwillingness of Arafat, as mentioned, will be propagated to the point that Barak will spend the last months of his disastrous intervention to tell the world that one cannot find an agreement with Arafat.
Ultimately, the meetings at Camp David are really a fiasco, but negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli leaders do not stop.
And what though in September 2000 – almost to assert its imminent rise to power (which will take place in February 2001) – the leader of the right (Likud), Ariel Sharon, already notorious for having been “indirectly” responsible for the massacres of Sabra and Chatila, decided to provoke the Palestinians, marching on foot with an army of armed guards in the so-called Temple Mount (next to Al Aqsa Mosque), in East Jerusalem.

It’s a real outrage. Start the second intifada (so called Al Aqsa Intifada).
But as we said, the negotiations foundered at Camp David, continue in Taba (small seaside resort in Egyptian territory) and one can glimpse, in January 2001, something as close to a possible agreement that was ever reached between Israelis and Palestinians. The negotiations at Taba in fact require the total evacuation of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli annexation of 3-6% of the West Bank, offset by Israeli territory, the dismantling of all Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, Jerusalem the capital of two States, future negotiations on the refugee problem.
With all due reservations, too good to be true.

In fact, with the elections of February 6, 2001 became Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whose only goal is to annihilate every, single achievement in 10 years of difficult negotiations. Sharon promises to Israelis security and on 6 September 2002 announces that the Oslo Accords have no value. Which, through the history and initiatives of the Israeli leadership, is not surprising.
As for promises of security, little has been achieved for the elementary principle that by the occupation and the humiliation of a people subjugated no army, no matter how “capable”, can guarantee anything.
Episodes, also recent, show as a matter of fact (as an Israeli historian told) that “only a sick mind can hope that the occupation will lead to the end of the guerrilla and terror.”

After September 11, 2001, the landscape is enriched by the war in Afghanistan, Bin Laden myth, the myth of Saddam Hussein WMD, the war in Iraq, the Islamic resurgence, the renewal of the general intolerance for “different” in the Western world. This issues are often linked to the Palestinian problem, which is still often a good excuse, or justification of what is happening between the Islamic and Western world with Judeo-Christian roots.
The brilliant U.S. President Bush Junior, pulls out of his hat a new and original peace plan called the “Road Map”. It’s a chief program that provides the steps to achieve a solution as much pacific as generic. Its phases, however, from the beginning were not followed.
This program has been accepted and emphasized by the complacent and disinterested European leaderships, Russia and the UN (whose weight is pretty limited), but its vagueness is more cospicuous than that of the Oslo accords. Someone once observed, in this regard, that before applying any map there must be at least one road. What is not there.

Here ends my brief summary (yes, I know, that someone found it, anything but brief.) It’s been done without claiming to have said nothing new and moreover with an understandable pack of inaccuracies.
The scenery changes dramatically with the death of Arafat, the unilateral disengagement plan from Gaza Strip, the predictable and enormous difficulties within the Strip, the changed outlook for the West Bank, Sharon’s commitment to give way in any case to the Road Map and its difficulties in dealing with his own voters in Israel. But perhaps this will be, we all hope, another story.

I wrote this in 2005. For now, unfortunately I must say I was wrong.

Written by pipistro

May 7, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Posted in Israel, Palestine

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The Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict for dummies (Part Four, 1992)

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Concluding the 3rd part. with the victory, in 1992, of the labourists – historically left – in the elections in Israel, I wrote that they were not necessarily favorable to a solution of the Palestinian problem. I did not write “to a favorable solution to the Palestinians,” but – whatever it may be – to a solution, in general, of the problem.
Really, there is a third alternative: accommodate, more or less consciously, to the no solution of the problem.
How it works? Just erase the word “peace” and write “peace plan”.

In fact, all projects of peace drawn up by the blockade Israel/USA, that were sponsored and publicized by the Israeli left, invariably have provided a path – usually greatly elaborated – in order to reach (if and when) the conditions that would enable those countries who dictate the rules, i.e. Israel and U.S., to not give anything up to the Palestinian people. Needless to add that a peace plan, if surreptitiously hindered, can go on forever without reaching peace.
This is not the literal sense, nor the spirit of UN resolutions. And the principle of self-determination of nations does not provide any obstacle course to achieve independence and peace. In the case of Palestine, then, there is also a need to give back land that no international standard, today, gives to the winner and occupying country. Then, it should be easy.
Give back to the Palestinians the lands occupied in 1967, rather then those established by the UN in 1947? And we all go home happy and contented? No way.

Leaving aside here (for convenience) the U.S. and Western interests in the Middle East, there is in fact in Israel those who think that stalling and getting along, as much as possible, you will end up granting the Palestinians less and less. And, on the other hand, those who think that – whatever the cost – it should not be giving anything up and fight to conquer the entire “land biblically assigned by God to the Jews.” In turn, on the Palestinian side, there are those who are convinced that the demographic imbalance, clearly in favor of the Palestinians, will eventually solve the whole issue with the numbers in ten or twenty years. These are just the most obvious problems.

Then there is the problem of Jewish settlers in the settlements into the occupied territories (in Gaza there were only about 7500, but in the West Bank are about two hundred thousand), which are placed there for some fifty years, because the Israeli government pushed them inside, and the problem of Palestinian refugees who are fifty or sixty years that are to walk around, because the Israeli government pushed them outside.

But as if this were not enough, the Palestinians do not actually have the resources and structures (political, social, economic, labor, etc.) to aspire – without outside help and in reasonable time – to independence or at least to not die of hunger and of riots. About 125 thousand Palestinians worked in Israel (before the second intifada, that of 2000, of which more later) and at home they cannot find anything to get by.
In any case, the Western bloc (at the moment), including Europe, and more than ever the U.S. and Israel, are not willing to risk the birth of a new alleged “rogue state” in the Middle East and the current situation is therefore a question of pure economic and military force (the stronger does whatever he wants), therefore of interest and opportunism.

Even just thinking about a possible solution to these and many other problems of the area would be aspire to the Nobel Prize (any). But if the West – and especially one or more European countries – begins to find it convenient a different economic, social and cultural life in Palestine (by investing there with both hands), after a transitional period of the Law of the Jungle, it could create the conditions for a peace instance. That would not be all bad.
We had come to 1992. Let’s step forward.

Written by pipistro

May 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Posted in Israel, Palestine

The Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict for dummies (Part Three, 1971-1992)

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We are in 1971. As we said, the Palestinian armed resistance has managed to be hunted by the joined Jordanian/Syrian forces and pushed toward north (Lebanon). In April of 1971 there are no more Palestinian guerrilla bases in Jordan, but in the meantime more than 4500 people died, including 4000 civilians. It was then developed a draft of peace agreement between Jordan and Israel, that includes the return of their boundary to prior to 1967. Israel does not accept and nothing is done.
In particular, Golda Meir, the Israeli Prime Minister, refuses to return the Sinai to Egypt, at the request of the new Egyptian president, Anwar el-Sadat (Nasser having died in September 1970) who would have always aimed at finding an agreed solution to the Middle East problem.
In 1972 the King of Jordan (Hussein) proposes the creation – under him – of a “United Arab Kingdom” among Palestinians, in the West Bank, and Jordan on the East Bank. Proposal that is naturally understood by the Arab states as a way to annex the West Bank, causing a deterioration of relations between Jordan and Egypt.
The “Palestinian resistance” is alive and active and blatantly chooses to interest the world to the problem of Palestine. It is a choice perhaps bloody “effective” in terms of pressure on Israel, but, on the one hand, it gets an indiscriminate reaction and on the other, it takes away the Palestinian movement from any possible international sympathy. In fact, it doesn’t actually get any advantage, and on the contrary it pushes for many years forward any Western intervention in favor of the Palestinian cause.
Let’s move on.

During the Olympics of 1972, in Monaco, the armed Palestinian gang named “Black September” (which took its name from the episode of repression that took place in Jordan two years before) kidnaps the Israeli athletes in the Olympic village and, as a result of the German armed intervention, nine of them are killed. As it turned, began a fierce retaliation by Israel, is bombed Lebanon (where in the meanwhile Palestinian guerrillas had settled) and up to 1973 it follows a series of assassinations, of alleged Palestinian leaders, in Europe (Rome and Paris), in Lebanon (Beirut) and elsewhere, historically orchestrated by Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service.

In 1973, after yet another Egyptian request to return the Sinai (occupied in 1967), Egypt, Syria and Jordan (with financial support from Libya’s Gaddafi, who directs a suspension of oil supplies to force the U.S. to put pressure on Israel) join to make war on Israel. On October 6, 1973 during the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur (annual fast of atonement), the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan attack Israel.
It is the fourth Arab-Israeli conflict, that will be remembered just as Yom Kippur War.
But what does it mean that they “attack”? That the Egyptian army, in the south, crosses the Suez Canal and goes to the Sinai (occupied in 1967 by Israeli forces) meanwhile the Syrian-Jordanian army tries to re-occupy the Golan Heights to the north. The fact is that, despite the surprise, the Arab armies are not organized and militarily prepared to deal with the Israeli army, which immediately enjoys of the massive U.S. military assistance, and is able to react and move into Egyptian territory, do meatballs of the Arab armies, invade Syria and stop to some 30 km toward Damascus.

However, in the meantime, the Arab countries of OPEC (oil suppliers to half the world) agree to reduce production, blocking supplies to U.S. and Holland, and raising the price of oil to all pro-Israel countries.
The economic blackmail on oil does work. Never take off the gas to us Westerners! The UN Security Council (Resolution 338) requires an immediate ceasefire and has the start of negotiations for a “just and lasting peace” in the Middle East.

On 21 December 1973 the UN convenes the peace conference on the Middle East and it is attended by Egypt, Jordan, Israel, USA and USSR.
Meanwhile there has grown up a faction by “politics” more moderate within the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization, President Arafat), who obtained, on 14 October 1974, through Resolution 3210 of the UN General Assembly, to participate the plenary deliberations on Palestine issue. It’s the first time that a person, representing a movement of liberation, not a Member State, may apply and direct their proposals to the Assembly of the UN.
Follows a series of resolutions that tend to confirm the “status” of the PLO in the UN and the Palestinian people’s right to self determination. And so forth, of similar resolutions there will be plenty.
But they all agree? Blessed and peaceful? The hell!
The blockade Israel / USA – with the tacit approval of the Western bloc – often tries to impose on the Palestinians the peace of the victors “by providing, or better, very slowly returning to them, far less than it had been removed. At the same time are increased Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, the Palestinians still suffer the economic decisions of Israel and, moreover, they must implement Israeli decisions on the management of water resources (which the Palestinians still are not able and cannot handle), that is distributed by Israel at will and for the benefit of Jewish settlers.

In the meantime – we are between 1973 and 1974 – a palestinan bloc of guerrillas has settled in villages (Shiite Muslims) in southern Lebanon, on the border with Israel, where there are many Palestinian refugees, and intends to take some control on the local independence movement (Muslim), ultimately, to launch from the Lebanese territory any possible action against Israel.
Israel bombards the Lebanon positions on several occasions from 1973 onwards.
Local populations are between two fires: the Israeli army on one side and Palestinian guerrillas on the other. It starts a wave of refugees from southern Lebanon to Beirut.
In 1975 it starts the civil war in Lebanon and the Palestinian guerrillas joins the patriotic movement Libanese. It will end in 1976, also in order to fight against the Syrian army, which supports the government of President of Lebanon.

In July 1977 a group of guerrillas of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) hijacks an Air France plane departed from Israel and forces it to land in Entebbe, Uganda, a country hostile to Israel. The Israeli government sends in Uganda (with route over the Red Sea) two Boeing loads of paratroopers and four Hercules of support. The action on the territory of Uganda takes about 90 minutes. The seven hijackers are killed, are destroyed eleven Ugandan MIG on the ground, and are released the 109 hostages.
In 1978 Israel occupies the southern part of Lebanon, where it controls and makes use of mercenary forces of the South Lebanese Army, who lead all sorts of dirty military action on their behalf, against the Palestinian guerrillas, civilians and even against the multinational forces in the meantime unnecessarily sent by the UN. In March 1978, a resolution of the UN Security Council (no. 425) requires an immediate and unconditional Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, but it remains a dead letter.
Also in 1978, in the south of Lebanon was founded the Islamic movement called Hezbollah.
The situation of the Palestinians under occupation is so wretched that on November 10, 1978, under pressure from the “Arab Bloc”, the UN General Assembly adopts a resolution politically devastating for Israel – no. 3379 – which determines that Zionism is a form of racism. Note that the Assembly has virtually no power to enforce its decisions, actually it is the Security Council that adopts binding decisions in the international arena. (Anyway, the resolution would be canceled a few years later.)

Between September and November 1977 at Camp David (USA) were meanwhile concluded agreements between Sadat (Egypt) and the Israeli Prime Minister Begin, with the mediation of U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Those agreements pose the basis for the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and for the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. The peace between Egypt and Israel would be signed in Washington on March 26, 1979. The Sinai would be returned to Egyptians in 1980.
The Arabs feel betrayed because Israel, in agreement with Egypt, no longer have to worry about attacks from the south and it is free to attack Lebanon in the north. Also for that, Sadat would be assassinated by fundamentalist killers in 1981.

In 1982, with the excuse to hunt down “terrorists”, Israel invades Lebanon again. Its military forces, supported by the Lebanese Maronite Christian militias, head toward Beirut (where are Arafat, and PLO guerrillas). With U.S. mediation, narrowly Arafat and his men succeed to escape from Beirut, but leave the field open to the Christian Maronite militia, under the control of Israel, that pick on the refugees (civilians) in the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila. It ‘a massacre: they kill some 1700 people. Sharon, then defense minister, on the field, undergoes later a kind of “process” assigned to an Israeli commission, attesting its vicarious liability and at least forces him to resign. (Confident in the application of Belgian law, which permits to prosecute anyone for war crimes committed anywhere, the relatives of those Palestinians have tried to prosecute Sharon. Though, under U.S. pressure, Belgium has “reinterpreted” the law in so that it could not be applied to the case.
International reactions to the massacres of Sabra and Shatila are unanimous, but Israel, despite international disapproval and at least a resolution of the UN Security Council, withdraws from Lebanon only in 1985, while maintaining the military forces in the south end.

In 1985, Arafat, who fled from Lebanon and is isolated, holds an agreement with King Hussein of Jordan, which will be broken in 1986, following U.S. pressure, after a series of terrorist attacks by Palestinians, including the seizure of the Italian cruise liner “Achille Lauro ” and the killing of a Jewish paralyzed passenger. Those attacks are unanimously considered harmful for the Palestinian cause. So much so that Israel can easily bomb the PLO headquarters, which in the meanwhile had settled in Tunis.
Between 1985 and 1987 OLP is discredited (Arafat, as well), Israeli repression in the occupied territories is extremely hard, are deported and imprisoned hundreds of Palestinians, are built new settlements, but the Palestinian factions reach a new “unity”.

On December 9, 1987, breaks out the first intifada (uprising).
Meanwhile, Arafat (who still receives – and keeps – inexhaustible funds and aid, for example from Saudi Arabia, but begins to realize that if you do not act politically do not get a damn for the Palestinian people, that, in this situation, sooner or later would have blown him up, officially renounces, in 1988, to terrorism and accepts the UN resolution 242, implicitly recognizing Israel’s existence.
The fact is that, with or without money, with or without politics, it’s not easy to keep under control the most heated factions of an oppressed people. Arafat should give a shot at the rim and a shot at the barrel and can not openly condemn the actions (even the most violent) of his people, who probably really does not control either. The problem is that officially Arafat can not admit that he has no power over much of the Palestinian resistance. And at the same time he is old, he’s got nothing to lose and still is a tough cookie that the Israelis would like to put to the ground, relying on the softer line of anyone else .

So the usual sequence seems to be this:
1) a terrorist attack is done;
2) hence Israel blames Arafat, because they want annihilate him politically;
3) then Arafat denies, but cannot do that too emphatically, otherwise it means that he does not control anything or anyone and loses credibility among his people.
However, doing so he also makes a series of unforgivable errors of political expediency. He is silent with respect to some unjustifiable acts of terrorism and, more importantly, supports the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1991.
Result: Saudi Arabia cuts off funds to the PLO, and Arafat finds himself isolated internationally, virtually next to a dictator, Saddam Hussein, whose military and political fate is sealed.
In other words, even the deep hatred for Israel and enjoyment for a few Scud missiles launched at Israel by Saddam, with the Palestinians that sing (but this happened in many Arab countries without their rulers were to fall into suicidal statements) would not allow him to lose sight of the Palestinian cause, with a minimum of realism and opportunities.

After the Gulf War, Bush Sr. – not George W. – in anticipation of increasingly important and lucrative interests in the area, pushes to stabilize the Middle East region and urges Israel to meet with Arabs, and with some Palestinian representatives (but not the Arafat’s PLO).
In June 1992 the Israeli Labor Party of Yitzhak Rabin defeats the right wing party (Likud), wins the election and promised an autonomy agreement with the Palestinians. With this you must not think that the Israeli labourists have been, or now are, all unconditionally in favor of a solution to the Palestinian problem. Surely Rabin worked effectively on it, for reasons of pure realism. That is: beyond what one feels or thinks, in one way or another, the problem must be solved and in the most appropriate and sustainable as possible. Thus, he is assassinated.


Written by pipistro

May 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Posted in Israel, Palestine

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