Monday, February 01, 2010

Kangaroo hopping around with an empty pouch...

George Mitchell, if he had an ounce of integrity, would resign and spill the beans on the 'Israeli - Palestinian peace process' by stating openly that nothing good can come of it in its current (and almost eternal) guise. How can the US and thus Mitchell, be an honest broker in the 'peace process' when that country is and has been Israel's staunchest ally for about four decades now and is contributing constantly to the already gigantic power differential between the 'negotiating partners'? Mitchell, inadvertently perhaps (but he's not stupid either), really just helps sustaining Israel's addiction to the 'process' and the Occupation.

Mitchell, if he wanted to do the right thing, would commit political suicide and tell the world what it doesn't want to hear: that without outside help the best (and really only) thing the Palestinians can do is show steadfastedness, hang in there for dear life and resists Israel's 'slow transfer' policies. But until someone comes to their rescue, the Zionist Colonial machine will continue to rule over all of Palestine and will continue to build, brick by brick, settlement by settlement, Greater Israel.

Mitchell, of whom many expected far too much on the grounds of his success in N. Ireland (a situation that's comparable to I/P is some respects but completely incomparable in others) has essentially become one of Zionism's collaborators.

Here's Uri Avnery about the Kangaroo Mitchell:

He hops here and he hops there. Hops to Jerusalem and hops to Ramallah, Damascus, Beirut, Amman (but, God forbid, not to Gaza, because somebody may not like it). Hops, hops, but doesn’t take anything out of his pouch, because the pouch is empty.

So why does he do it? After all, he could stay at home, raise roses or play with his grandchildren.

This compulsive traveling reveals a grain of chutzpah. If he has nothing to offer, why waste the time of politicians and media people? Why burn airplane fuel and damage the environment?

THE DECLARED aim of Mitchell is to “get the peace process going again”. How? “Get the two sides to return to the negotiating table”.

There is a naïve American belief that all the problems of the world could be solved if only the parties would sit down at the table and talk. When reasonable people talk to each other, they will eventually arrive at a solution.

The trouble with this is that the people responsible for the fate of nations are not, in general, reasonable people. They are politicians with passions and prejudices and constituencies, who are driven by the mood of the masses. When one is dealing with a 130-year old conflict, the naïve belief in the value of talk borders on folly.

Decades of experience indicate that negotiations are useless if one of the parties is not interested in an agreement. Worse: negotiations can actually cause damage when one of the parties uses them to waste time while creating a false impression of progress towards peace.

In our conflict, peace negotiations have become a substitute for peace, a means to obstruct peace. They are an instrument used by successive Israeli governments to gain time – time to enlarge the settlements and entrench the occupation.

(In an interview with Haaretz published yesterday, Ehud Barak accused the “left” in general, and Gush Shalom and Peace Now in particular, of not supporting Netanyahu’s call for negotiations. He got close to accusing us of treason.)

Anyone who now proposes negotiations “without prior conditions” is collaborating with the Netanyahu-Barak-Lieberman government in a ploy to sabotage the chances of peace. Indeed, Mitchell has become – perhaps unwittingly – such a collaborator. When he exerts pressure on Mahmoud Abbas “to come back to the negotiating table”, he is playing the game of Netanyahu, who presents himself as the great peace-lover. Abbas is being pictured as a man who has “climbed a high tree and doesn’t know how to get down again”. There is no occupation, no ongoing settlement activity, no Judaization of East Jerusalem. The only problem is to get a ladder. A ladder for Abbas!

All this for what? What is the kangaroo hopping for? It’s all to help Obama, who is thirsting for a political achievement like a man in the desert thirsting for water. The start of negotiations, however meaningless, would be presented as a great diplomatic success.

THE OTHER day, Obama himself made a rare gesture: the President of the United States of America declared publicly that he had made a mistake and apologized for it. He admitted that he had not properly understood the difficulties involved in the restarting of the peace process.

Everybody praised the President. Such a courageous leader! Such nobility!

To which I would add: And such chutzpah!

Here comes the most powerful leader in the world and says: I was wrong. I did not understand. I have failed. For a whole year I have not achieved any progress at all towards a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Look how honest I am! Look how ready I am to admit mistakes!

That is chutzpah. That is chutzpah, because a whole year was lost due to this “mistake”, a whole year in which 1.5 million human beings in Gaza, men, women and children, have been suffering utter destitution, many of them without sufficient food, many of them without shelter in the cold and in rain. A whole year in which more than a hundred Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem were demolished while new Jewish housing projects sprang up at a crazy pace. A whole year in which settlements in the West Bank were enlarged, apartheid roads were built and pogroms, under the “price tag” slogan, were carried out.

So, with all due respect, Mr. President, the word “mistake” hardly suffices.

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