a step backwards (UPDATED)

yesterday i had a close encounter with one of jimmy carter’s entourage. i was looking for a book at the american colony hotel bookshop and talking with the owner, munther fahmi, when a white woman came in the shop looking for a place to charge her iphone. munther asked her why carter’s press conference the previous day only had a couple of palestinians invited and the room was brimming with zionist colonists. of course, she did not have a proper answer. i chimed in, of course. i said something to the effect that of course he’s not interested in equality; he’s towing the american line. she asked me if i have read his books. i said, yes. but his book, especially palestine: peace, not apartheid, is deeply problematic because he does not recognize apartheid in 1948 palestine and he refuses to call for refugees’ right of return. and that was that.

carter is here in palestine and heading for gaza today. but yesterday he met with zionist terrorist colonists and he told them that their colony in the west bank shall remain forever:

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter met with settler leaders from the Gush Etzion settlement bloc on Sunday and told them that he believed that their settlement is among the ones which should be able to remain under a final peace deal with the Palestinians.

“This particular settlement is not one that I envision ever being abandoned, or changed over into a Palestinian territory,” Carter said. “This is part of the close settlements to the 1967 line that I think will be here forever.”

palestinian home in beit el sukariya, surrounded by zionist colony of gush etzion
palestinian home in beit el sukariya, surrounded by zionist colony of gush etzion

i am not sure where carter met with these colonists, but i suspect it was not inside their colony. for if he had gone there he would have possibly asked questions about the tent-like shacks that the colony effectively imprisons. you see, gush etzion is on the land of the palestinian village of beit al sukaria not far from where i live. there are still a few remaining palestinian families there who are not allowed to build on their land (hence the plastic bag as roof) and they are fenced in with barbed wires. you can see gush etzion in the background behind this palestinian family’s home. i posted more photographs and wrote about this colony and village a few months ago; you may click on this link to read it. but this is just to give you an idea of what sort of colonies carter deems okay in his so-called opposition to apartheid.

unlike barack obama, carter had some reservations about benjamin netanyahu’s speech the other night, but it seems that most of the world believes netanyahu took a step forward. and what i want to know is: how on earth is that possible?

obama, for instance, found netanyahu as taking a step forward:

Barack Obama has welcomed what he called “positive movement” in a speech by Israel’s prime minister, saying that it paved the way for the restart of “serious talks”.

“Overall, I thought that there was positive movement in the prime minister’s speech. He acknowledged the need for two states,” the US president said of Binyamin Netanyahu’s Sunday speech.

He acknowledged that “there were a lot of conditions” placed by Netanyahu for the creation of a Palestinian state, but added that Israeli and Palestinian conditions could be addressed in negotiations.

“What we are seeing is at least the possibility that we can restart serious talks,” he said on Monday.

well, yes, it is possible to start talks as there has been talking for over 16 years, which has led to nothing more than further theft of palestinian land, massacres of palestinian people, and the mass arrests of men, women, and children. my friend and colleague abdel sattar al qassam summed it up best:

The Arabs particularly the Palestinians are mad at Netanyahu’s speech of June 14, 2009. It is deemed militant, extremist, hawkish and destructive of what they call the peace process. Even they are unhappy about the White House that described the speech as a step forward. In this speech, the Israeli Prime Minister totally denied the Palestinian national rights. Although he didn’t talk about the Palestinian right to self-determination, the denial is built in and implicit in the whole speech.

Netanyahu strongly asserted his conviction that Israel exists on the historical land of the Jews, with emphasis on the West Bank (which he called Yahuda and Shomron) as part of this land, but recognized that there are Palestinians living on this land. He said that Israel should be recognized as a Jewish state by the Palestinians, and if they do so together with strictly observing the needs of Israeli security they will be granted a disarmed entity (which he called a state) that commits itself to Israel’s security. He said that the refugee problem should be solved outside Israel, and Jerusalem will ever remain the unified capital of Israel. He committed himself to more settlement activities.

I don’t see why the Arabs and the Palestinians are mad. Those who signed the Oslo and Taba Accords knew beforehand that Israel would never reach an agreement with any Arab party without observing Israel’s security and conceding the right of return. The Palestinian leadership practically conceded the right of return at the very moment it recognized Israel, and committed itself to Israel’s security as it accepted to fight what is called Palestinian terrorism. The Palestinian leadership accepted the Geneva initiative that indirectly denies the Palestinian right of return, and has authorized Dayton, the American general, to recruit and train Palestinians on how to fight terrorism; i. e. to fight other Palestinians.

The Palestinian leadership has always warned (since 1994) that settlement activities jeopardize the negotiations, but building new settlements, enlarging existing ones, confiscating land, uprooting trees, and demolishing houses went on together with the negotiations. This is also true for Jerusalem which has been under a relentless process of social, economic and cultural transformation.

The Palestinian leadership hasn’t been honest with the Palestinian people. It has been saying something and ratifying something else.

Netanyahu hasn’t announced a policy that is radically different from the policies of other Israeli governments whether led by labor or Kadema parties. Only Netanyahu indirectly pledged to continue what his predecessors started, and to adopt the same policies. What makes Netanyahu a ghost while other prime ministers doves? Netanyahu tells the truth. Apparently, Arab and Palestinian leaders don’t care about the truth, they only hate to be told the truth.

If the Palestinian leadership is truly concerned, it should renounce the accords with Israel, insist on Palestinian national unity, seek new approaches toward the realization of the Palestinian national rights and find ways to meet the expenses of the daily life of the Palestinians. This isn’t a difficult task, and all of what it needs is free will.

unfortunately, abdel sattar is in the minority as the palestinians like saeb erakat and mahmoud abbas who profit off of the “peace process” industry want nothing more than to continue negotiations in spite of their protests over netanyahu’s speech, but for the moment these self-appointed negotiators are feigning threats to halt negotiations as mel frykberg reported in ips:

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who just last week told IPS that Palestinians were in their strongest position ever politically and that this time around the U.S. meant business, also lashed out at Netanyahu’s speech.

Erekat said the Israeli premier’s speech had “closed the door to permanent status negotiations. We ask the world not to be fooled by his use of the term Palestinian state because he qualified it,” said Erekat.

“He declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, said refugees would not be negotiated and that settlements would remain. The peace process has been moving at the speed of a tortoise. Netanyahu has flipped it over on its back.”

Erekat has gone as far as to call for annulment of the Arab peace initiative. The Arab initiative was a peace plan sponsored by the Saudis and adopted during the Arab League summit in Beirut in 2002. The plan called for normalisation of relations between Israel and the Arab world in return for Israel withdrawing form occupied Arab land and returning to its internationally recognised borders.

if these statements are made in earnest, it could bode well for a return to the heart of the matter–all the items netanyahu said no to in his speech.

zionist terrorist colonists masked as “liberals” like gideon levy read the speech rather differently, not surprisingly:

The gate was not thrown open last night, although a narrow crack appeared, which in itself is noteworthy. Another small brick was removed from the barricades of the occupation: A right-wing leader said he supports Palestinian statehood.

“Demilitarized, Demilitarized,” he repeated; now all that remains are the utmost margins of the fantasizing, embittered right-wing, a group finally left isolated and abnormal. They are a dangerous contingent, but they are few.

levy’s call for giddiness aside, it should alarm us that zionist colonists in the colony of ofer in between nablus and ramallah saw the speech as supporting their “rights” for “natural growth,” a new buzzword suggesting that they have a right to expand their colonies. dan nolan of al jazeera watched the speech with some of these colonists and reported on their response:

is this what obama meant when he issued a statement calling netanyahu’s speech a “step forward”?:

Wisely, the U.S. took Netanyahu’s acceptance of a Palestinian state at face value. U.S. officials deftly side-stepped the Israeli leader’s constraints. His speech was termed “an important step forward.”

carlos latuff
carlos latuff

for me the heart of the matter in netanyahu’s speech was when he discussed an nakba and palestinian refugees. because although he cannot see it or say it, this is the crux of the issue. this is the root of the problem that began the ethnic cleansing and colonization process of palesitne:

I now am asking that when we speak of the huge challenge of peace, we must use the simplest words possible, using person to person terms. Even with our eyes on the horizon, we must have our feet on the ground, firmly rooted in truth. The simple truth is that the root of the conflict has been and remains – the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish People to its own state in its historical homeland.

In 1947 when the United Nations proposed the Partition Plan for a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the proposal, while the Jewish community accepted it with great rejoicing and dancing. The Arabs refused any Jewish state whatsoever, with any borders whatsoever.

Whoever thinks that the continued hostility to Israel is a result of our forces in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is confusing cause and effect. The attacks on us began in the 1920s, became an overall attack in 1948 when the state was declared, continued in the 1950s with the fedaayyin attacks, and reached their climax in 1967 on the eve of the Six-Day War, with the attempt to strangle Israel. All this happened nearly 50 years before a single Israeli soldier went into Judea and Samaria.

yes, hostility began long before 1967 because colonization of palestine and the massacre of palestinians began long before 1967. the problem is not with the occupation of the west bank and gaza strip. the problem is with the occupation of all of historic palestine. this is why palestinians have resisted and will continue to resist.

zionist colonist akiva eldar correctly understood the speech as a colonial one, though he failed to perceive the main problem when it came to refugees:

No empathy for the refugees from Jaffa who lost their entire world, not a word for the Muslim connection to Jerusalem – neither a fragment of a quote from the Koran, nor a line of Arabic poetry.

Netanyahu’s provincial remarks were not intended to penetrate the hearts of the hundreds of millions of Al Jazeera viewers in the Muslim world. Instead, he sought to appease Tzipi Hotovely, the settler Likud lawmaker, and make it possible to live peaceably with the settler foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people didn’t even leave him an opening for forging reconciliation with the Arab citizens in the country.

netanyahu could have recited the qur’an until the cows came home, but palestinian refugees want their homes back not the words of their religious text recited by those who have participated in the murdering of their compatriots and the theft of their land. they don’t want an apology, though that would be a start. they want their land back. period.

palestinian novelist susan abulhawa makes it clear what palestinians demand and what their rights are given their dispossession over 61 years ago in an article in dissident voice:

Following Netanyahu’s much anticipated policy speech, politicians and journalists, like mindless automatons, have set about repeating Israel’s tired mantra that Palestinians should recognize Israel’s right to exist. Never mind the fact that the PLO and Palestine Authority have obliged this ludicrous call, not once, but four times. And never mind that Israel has always denied Palestine’s right to exist, not only as a nation, but as individuals seeking a dignified life in our own homeland.

Does anyone find it interesting that Israel is the only country on the planet going around with this incessant insistence that everyone recognize her right to exist? Given that we Palestinians are the ones who have been dispossessed, occupied, and oppressed, one might expect that we should be the ones making such a demand. But t hat isn’t the case. Why? Because our right to exist as a nation is self-evident. We are the natives of that land! We know we have that right. The world knows it. That’s why Palestine doesn’t need Israel or any other country to recognize her right to exist. We are the rightful heirs to that land and this can be verified legally, historically, culturally, and even genetically. And as such, the only true legitimacy Israel will ever have must come from us abdicating our inheritance, our history, and our culture to Israel. That’s why Israel insists we declare she had a right to take everything we ever had – from home and property, cemeteries, churches and mosques, to culture and history and hope.

Israel is a country that was founded by Europeans who came to Palestine, formed terrorist gangs who set about a systematic ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians from their homes on 78% of Historic Palestine in 1948. Those Palestinians and their descendants still languish in refugee camps. Israel attempted a similar scenario in 1967 when they conquered the remainder of Palestine, but Palestinians then couldn’t be dislodged from their homes as easily. This remains true, despite 40 years of Israel’s violent and oppressive military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Despite home demolitions, land confiscations, rapacious building of Jewish-only colonies, endless checkpoints, targeted assassinations, bombings of schools, hospitals, municipal buildings and malls, closures and denials; despite the massive human rights abuses, the imprisonment and torture of men women and children alike, the separation of families, the daily humiliations; despite the massive killings – Palestinians remain. We still resist. We still live, love, and have babies. As much as we can, we rebuild what Israel destroys. Such are rights!

but perhaps there is a silver lining as the speech confirmed to the european union at least that netanyahu is a warmonger who is only interested in getting away with theft. chalk this one up to another victory in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement if it holds:

European Union foreign ministers welcomed on Monday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conditional endorsement of a future Palestinian state, but said it was not enough to raise EU-Israel ties to a higher level.

The ministers, who were due to meet Israel’s foreign minister later on Monday, questioned conditions cited by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for backing a Palestinian state and also his defence of Jewish settlements on occupied land.

UPDATED: watch this interesting discussion about the speech with abdel bari atwan (and two zionists) on kamahl santamaria’s “inside story” on al jazeera:

One thought on “a step backwards (UPDATED)

  1. 5.4 million Jews in Palestine/Israel.
    13 million Jews worldwide.
    325 million Arabs worldwide.
    1 Billion Muslims worldwide.

    I’ll just let those numbers sit and percolate or ferment…what ever the personal case of each reader may be.

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