JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: A WRITER SAYS WE CAN BE HOPEFUL ABOUT PALESTINE – I WISH IT WERE SO – BUT I SEE NO REASON FOR OPTIMISM – QUITE THE OPPOSITE WHEN YOU APPRECIATE THE ACTUAL BEHAVIOR OF ISRAEL AND AREN’T BLINDED BY IDEOLOGY AND FANCIFUL MYTHS

John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY PETER F COHEN IN MONDOWEISS

 

“Why we can be hopeful on Palestine”

 

I very much wish the title represented something more than a new version of Candide’s optimism.

The single state solution is an idea that has been around a long time.

If I’m not mistaken, the late Edward Said embraced it many years ago.

It’s perfectly rational, but that is part of the reason that the bitter, brutal men running Israel will never accept it.

They are harsh ideologues, embracing a dark fantasy, the re-creation of an ancient land based on doubtful religious texts of 2,500 years, or more, ago. Texts in which people are stoned for doing things we do every day. Texts in which certain kinds of cloth and certain kinds of food, things we all use, are forbidden. Texts in which a great many events are either fantasies – Jonah and the whale or Lot’s wife as a pillar of salt or the Tower of Babel or Noah’s Ark – or things which never occurred – Israel’s captivity in Egypt and the reign of King David.

Those are hardly a sound basis for modern political affairs and the founding of a state which is heavily armed. But the truth is they provide only the start of a grim list of problems associated with today’s Israel.

Jews in fact flourish in a number of places in far better situations than they do in Israel. It seems to me that there is something in the Israeli temperament resembling the reclusive religious institutions of the Middle Ages, the ones where self-flagellation and other extremes were the norm – not the kind of people ready to embrace large numbers of outsiders with different ways. We find the same qualities in cults sometimes, the desire for separateness and unwillingness to mingle with others.

If Zionists had taken Albert Einstein’s advice, embracing the native people and living among them without iron walls, there could have been something harmonious and peaceful and constructive for everyone over the last 70 years.

But they did not embrace that vision. They embraced instead a bitter and hostile vision of iron walls and racial segregation. And militarism and police and security forces everywhere.

Moreover, Israel is the most heavily subsidized entity on earth, counting both government and private subsidies, and we all know the highly debilitating effects of subsidy over time. And subsidies cannot continue indefinitely. People do not endlessly give away money and resources, particularly when they see the recipient makes absolutely no progress at creating an improved situation.

It would be wise to seriously start making peace with the neighbors and cooperating because what we see today in Israel simply is not a situation which can be sustained long term, that is, without the kind of endless harshness we see, much the same kind of harshness we saw in the old Soviet Union, a state whose circumstances also were not sustainable. But fanatics, like the men who run Israel, do not look at hard realities.

Israel deliberately maintains an embattled situation, making life far more difficult for most there than in, say, Canada or the US or France or many other places.

Israel’s open abuse of millions causes its citizens to be greatly disliked in the world, too, and I don’t really think most people enjoy being disliked.

The place is an armed camp, a crusader fortress. The level of military and security services make it in many ways resemble the old USSR. A state top-heavy with military and police and spies is not a healthy one for the long term. A recent book revealed that Israel’s security services have conducted 2,700 assassinations. Serial murder, then, is a founding value of the nation.

The cost of living in Israel is very high, houses are hard to buy, and career opportunities are quite limited. It is a small place, with about half the population of Ecuador. It can never enjoy great economies of scale, and its international trade literally is force-fed by American subsidies and pressures on others.

People only voluntarily live that way – having actually gone out of their way to create the circumstances – when a fantasy or a fanatical belief dominates rational thinking. Fanatical beliefs provide no sound foundation for anything.

I wouldn’t care if Israelis wanted to indulge their fantasies, providing they could do so without hurting and abusing millions of others.

But they are hurting and abusing millions of others. That fact is at the heart of the matter.

It is not a matter of a war or conflict, as it is so often inaccurately and lopsidedly presented in our press and by our politicians, when you have a situation where other people’s farms and houses are regularly stolen. It represents a state where the rule of law does not apply, a kind of ongoing criminal enterprise with no justice for its victims.

The rule of law simply is not to be found in Israel and the territories it occupies. Something called the law exists, but it is the same kind of law we saw in places like the American Confederacy and in Nationalist South Africa. It is law to protect only a specific group of residents, and it is law which oppresses all others.

You simply cannot have a viable country in the long term without the stability of the rule of law, yet the people running Israel appear to believe that you can.

You know, it is impossible to look at images of Gaza and not immediately think of a giant concentration camp. And what we see there is Israel’s doing completely. Penning people in with fences and guard towers, including towers with automated, radar-activated machine guns. Bombing them frequently, invading them periodically, blockading their imports, even the materials required for repairs and rebuilding. Curtailing all their natural rights such as how far fishermen can go out in their boats and whether people can travel anywhere, even for medical care or education.

Just imagine how Israel would thrive treated the same way. Of course, it wouldn’t. It couldn’t. It would stagnate and begin to rot. In a way, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians provides a self-fulfilling prophecy for them. Many Israelis really do believe it is only themselves capable of making a thriving place. You can very much see that notion on display in propaganda films and lobbying efforts. It surely represents a form of racism which just jumps out at us periodically.

And when peaceful, desperate people protest for rights to which they are entitled by all the reckonings of Western tradition, Israel can only think of lining up firing squads of soldiers to shoot into the crowds from behind fences. Where in God’s name does such behavior take you? It is a one-way trip to nowhere.

The idea of a mixed state is abhorrent to a great many Israelis because it violates the confused dream that dominated the founders’ thinking.

It would only be possible if the United States used its inordinate power and authority to push for justice. Indeed, that is the reality for any settlement, whether two states or one. But how likely is that? It is not only unlikely, it is impossible given the political realities of America with its money-driven elections and its tolerance for powerful lobbies to supply money along with other assistance such as favorable press treatment.

The lobby for Israel in the United States is one of the most powerful and well-run in the country. It is for many a political death sentence to oppose it. It will maintain the status quo so long as the leaders in Israel want it to be so. There is a kind of vicious circle involved in all discussions of Israel-Palestinian peace.

Only in the remote case of American Jews becoming convinced that Israel should no longer be supported so vigorously, or in the equally remote case of America changing its terrible laws around money in politics and the governance of political lobbies, would there be a possibility for America to use its strength and influence for justice. Well, it’s gone on the way it is for seventy years, and there seems little reason to expect change in either of those American circumstances which support Israel.

Further contributing to Israel’s distaste for a single-state solution is the fact that, in general, Arab birth rates are higher, considerably, than Israeli ones. Of course, keeping Palestinians in relative poverty only helps to extend that reality since we know birth rates invariably drop with prosperity. So, how long would it be before Jews became a minority? I know Israel’s leadership is keenly aware of this reality and greatly fears it.

Israel plays an intellectual game around the concept of democracy, always trying to gain plaudits as the “only democracy in the Middle East.” But what kind of democracy is it where only certain people can immigrate, become full citizens, and vote? Yes, there is a minority population of Palestinians who are citizens (now about 20% of total population), but their status was an accident of history, of events around 1948.

It was never intended to be so, and many Israelis would like to change their status. Prominent people have addressed that very subject. Netanyahu once described them as a “demographic bomb,” such are his fair-minded views.

And this minority is treated unfairly with specialized laws against their interests. It is even spoken out against and threatened by some Israeli politicians, men of the caliber of Avigdor Lieberman, of which Israel has considerable numbers, their presence being consistently required in the formation of governments under Israel’s political system.

In effect, some of the darkest voices in Israel always have a seat at the table of government. They provide the required margin to form a government, and they employ that margin to maintain disproportionate influence.

As well, whenever Israel meets democracy in the Arab world around it, it treats it with open hostility. It loved the long-term dictator of Egypt, Mubarak, hated and worked against Egypt’s one brief democratic government, and now embraces the new Egyptian dictator, el-Sisi. It embraces the bloody tyrant in Saudi Arabia. It embraces the King of Jordan.

It tried to totally destroy democratically-elected Hamas in Gaza, whose original non-corrupt and democratic ways only got it labelled as “terrorist.” It somewhat supports the so-called President of Palestine, Abbas, a man whose legitimate mandate ended many years ago and who has not faced an election since. Its tepid tolerance for Abbas is based only on his relative ineffectiveness and his opposition to Hamas in Gaza.

Israel has little prospect for healthy future in-migration of Jews. Indeed, it experiences some years with net out-migration. Jews are a relatively small group in the world, and not many would trade their prosperity and opportunity and freedom for the intense stress and unpleasant realities of Israel.

The Russians were the world’s last remaining large source for serious immigration, and now that’s used up.

It is important for understanding Israel’s political psychology to realize that many of its leaders and leading economic citizens have dual citizenships, as American or British, and they are secure in the backs of their minds that they can always pack-up and leave should the situation become too nasty. That is not the case for many ordinary citizens now born there. They are stuck.

Israel’s prospects, with relatively low birth rates and limited in-migration are for population decline and a whole lot more of the same grief and violence, given the extreme ideologue beliefs of its leaders and the inherent instability of its situation.

It’s a bleak long-term outlook.

But accept Palestinians? Whew, that’s like telling devout, old-fashioned Catholics they should accept abortion and married priests and stop reciting the Rosary.

Modern Israel, by all objective evidence, is, in fact, a pretty racist society, too. We’ve seen ugly controversy and manipulation at every turn involving race. Black refugees were treated terribly. Black Jews from Africa, too, were not even allowed to live in some neighborhoods. Of course, the same is true for Arabs who cannot rent or buy in many places and face open hostility. Some national laws, too, are different for Jews versus non-Jews.

I just do not see how a hopeful future can come from that.

It really was a hopeless enterprise from the beginning, creating a nation based on ancient myths and mumbo-jumbo texts, an enterprise based on anger and desperation with no larger guiding vision. But, again, if it could have been done without hurting millions of others, that would be only Israel’s’ business. But it cannot be done without hurting millions of others, and things continues along that path without any signs of let-up.

There can be no repeat of the Holocaust. It was a unique event under unique circumstances, not to be repeated, which is indeed the case with all truly terrible events. New horrors will happen somewhere to someone, but they won’t be a repeat of the Holocaust. A brilliant ancient Greek compared history to a flowing river into which you could never step into the same place twice.

Yet the Holocaust is used almost as raison d’etre for Israel. It truly is not since most of the world’s Jews do not live there. Of course, this also ignores the fact that the Holocaust was an event in another continent, involving one group of Germans against another. The Ashkenazim who created Zionism and who dominate Israel are a Germanic, Eastern European people. The word Ashkenazi means German.

So, what are they doing in the Middle East generating misery for still another people, people who had nothing to do with the Holocaust? Well, again, who would care about them being in the Middle East so long as they respected their neighbors and lived in peace. But they do not.

It’s nonsense to believe that the Holocaust could be repeated, but holding it over people’s heads serves much like the threat of hell does in American Christian fundamentalism or did in the Catholic Church for centuries of the Dark Ages.

The phrase “never again” contains no hint of reality, both because history never repeats itself and because the very people uttering it have demonstrated insincerity and hypocrisy in their efforts. Again, just look at images of Gaza and see what Israel has consciously created while uttering the words. It’s beyond shameful.

I regret to say that I see virtually nothing in the entire situation about which to be optimistic.

 

 

 

 

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Posted October 11, 2018 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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