Monday, January 12, 2009


"Are Palestinians and Israelis condemned to destroy each other physically and morally for years and for decades? Real agreements for peace and coexistence, like the ones reached by Mandela and de Klerk in South Africa, show how the bitterest struggles can be resolved by generosity, forgiveness, and a sense of history. Years ago, in my 1988 Palestinian diary, I quoted the words of an intellectual from East Jerusalem about the double dream of descendants of Isaac and Ishmael: the disappearance or nonexistence of the other. But the problem, he concluded, 'as much for ourselves as for them, rests in knowing whether we are prepared to accept something less than our dream.'
"After Oslo, the Israelis cherished the hope that they had realized their dream at the expense of the Palestinians' nightmare. This hope can now be seen to be totally illusory. Only recognition of Palestinian identity and the Palestinian right to an independent, democratic state will one day put an end to the tragedy in the Middle east."
--Juan Goytisolo

Goytisolo wrote these words for the newspaper El Pais a decade ago; they remain sadly timely.

Every day I hear news people on my television insisting that the problem is the refusal of Hamas to admit the right of Israel to exist.  I seldom hear this paired with reminders of such things as Golda Meir's statement that "there is no such thing as a Palestinian."  What can be more clear than that Israel refuses to permit the existence of an independent Palestinian nation with contiguous borders and autonomy. (Not to mention control over its own water and electricity resources.)

Twice I have heard David Shuster on MSNBC insist to his interlocutors that four-fifths of the deaths in Gaza are Hamas fighters, a number contradicted by absoultely every independent source.

The Israeli forces devastated the Jenin refugee camp at the beginning of the Bush administration, pursuing an absolute orgy of destruction in which they even went out of their way to destroy private cars parked along the roads and desktop computers in education offices.  Bush did nothing.  When the IDF invaded Lebanon and again pursued a policy of rampant murder and destruction, Bush again did nothing.  Now the official position of the Bush administration, with no comment from Obama, is that a cease fire from the waves of death in Gaza would be "premature."

In Lebanon, the IDf fired on UN observer posts, claiming that Hezbollah fighters were firing from that area, a claim refuted by multiple independent observers.  In Lebanon the IDf deployed antipersonnel weapons in civilian areas, in open violation of international treaties.

In Gaza, the IDF attacks UN schools where civilians have sought refuge.  The IDF uses mass deployments of white phosphor weapons, with predictable consequences.

Is there any one who truly believes that these tactics will put a halt to the Hamas rocket attacks.  Is there anyone who believes that this will lead to peace?  Is there anyone who believes that the political leadership in Israel sees this as a pathway to peaceful relations with an independent Palestinian neighbor?

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