Recently there has been much news coverage of the "ceasefire" between Hamas and Israel (which Condi Rice was in Israel trying to "shore up" on Thursday) and the magnanamous offer by Ehud Olmert of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
The fact that the ceasefire has been anything-but aside (monday, for example, after the ceasefire took effect sunday, Palestinian militants fired rockets into Israel and the IDF shot and killed a "militant" and a 50 year old woman they claimed tried to "run off" with his weapon. I must say, that's the first time I've ever heard of a 50 year old woman running...), Israel's "offer of peace" has been on the table now since 1947.
Peace is offered to Palestine in return for the wholesale removal of all palestinians and the creation of a Jewish-Zionist state that runs from the mediterranean to the Jordan river. Okay, I exaggerate (a little). The best offer made by Israel at the Camp David negotiations still included a 12 percent reduction in the then-current territory under direct control of the Palestinian Authority, which didn't include of course any area that is still legally part of Palestine but under de-facto Israeli control. All current offers by Israel include taking Palestinian territory that cuts straight through the center of the west bank to the Jordan river, thus dividing the West Bank into walled-in enclaves with no inter-regional transportation (due to the Israeli "security fence" and buffer zone).
Palestine's offer (from Hamas and Fatah and Al-Aqsa etc.), which was made with much less publicity just a few months back, is that Israel withdraw to their pre-1967 borders (internationally viewed as the legal boundries of Israel and referred to as the "green line") and cease all military operations in Palestine. However, we don't hear about Palestine's offer in the West, although it has stood fairly unchanged since the early 1970s.
Yet, the western media gleefully reports every action by Olmert as a "major policy shift" that is obviously him taking the high road in looking for peace. He echos the offer of a "Palestinian State" but fails to mention, and this is never pointed out in the media, that the "state" they offer is essentially a small number of small and impossible to leave communes, all surrounded by the "State" of Israel and cut off from access to water or arable land, which technically (by international law) belongs to Palestine now but is part of the self-declared state of Israel in reality.
Olmert's offer is that some "suspected militants", thousands of whom are being detained without charge or trial by Israel, will be released after a kidnapped Israeli soldier is returned to Israel. They have already begun by releasing one Palestinian government minister who was kidnapped just a few weeks ago. Yes, you read that correctly: their graciousness has been displayed by releasing a kidnapped Palestinian government minister.
They also consistantly claim that Israel was planning to "unilaterally withdraw" from the west bank. But that is misleading. Israel offered to withdraw from the sections of the west bank it does not wish to keep, but maintains its claims on the farmlands and water supplies that are legally in the West Bank but viewed (only by the US and Israel and their puppy... what's it called again? Bushtain? Blairtain? Britrael?) as part of "Israeli territory."
What doesn't get covered is the UN report that was released this week that stated Israel "violated every article" of a crossings agreement they made last year regarding entry and exit from Palestinian areas. You need look no further than the blog of "A Mother From Gaza" who, as we speak, is waiting to get back into Palestine. She has been waiting, and waiting, and waiting and waiting, and waiting, and waiting... The effects of this de-facto blockade are disasterous for the Palestinians, left with no livelyhood, no food, and no water. So, as the report just linked to explains, while Israelis freely water their lawns with sprinklers, Palestinians are left having to pray for Red Cross water shipments... which are usually blocked by the IDF from entering Palestinian areas anyway.
Meanwhile, Palestine suffers from a whopping 40% unemployment rate; simultaneously, the US has historically provided unconditional aid to Israel to the tune of nearly a hundred billion dollars, and it continues to increase to this day.
The Human Rights Situation in Palestine is a travesty, and it has been inflicted upon Palestinians by Israel for decades. Additionally, those familiar with the situation are well aware of the disasterous effects that America's unconditional support for Israel has on the US's standing in the world, as evidenced by a letter from 50 retired American diplomats to George Bush on the subject. However, we in the west cannot say anything negative about Israel.
To give an example, a well known and very knowledgeable diplomat and former US president intricately familiar with the subject recently published a book called "Peace not Apartheid" which is naturally critical of Israel's actions towards Palestine.
Upon the book's release, the "new breed" of democrats who are taking over the US Congress in january were chomping at the bit to condemn the book as anti-semetic. Among those who came out against the book were Nancy Pelosi and John Conyers.
The formula is nothing new. Anything that is anti-Zionist (Zionism meaning building a Jewish state in the holy land, by UN terms it was a code-name for racism for 20 years lets not forget) and disagrees with Israel's murderous policies (much like 62 percent of the Israeli population disagreed with Ehud Olmert's actions in Lebanon this summer) must therefore be anti-semetic.
I think this kind of fear-and-hate mongering insults the intelligence and the morality of Jews and Gentiles everywhere. One does not have to support murder to be jewish, as those who are so quick to throw out the anti-semetic label would like you to believe, and one does not hate jews just because they disagree with the wholesale slaughter of Palestinians. The whole issue is so asinine I can't believe it even has to be addressed.
In 2002 Counterpunch published an interesting article on "anti-semitism." It's worth a read.
As far as Israel's "peace offer" goes, I would like to reiterate my take on the issue. Once the following conditions are met, I'm sure peace will soon follow.
- The US needs to cut off its unconditional military aid to Israel, instead offering such aid only on the condition that murderous incursions by the IDF into foreign territories is ended immediately and finally.
- Israel must withdraw from occupied territories back to the internationally agreed 1967 borders, and tear down its illegal perimeter wall.
- The US must at once re-evaluate its position of unconditional support for Israeli policies and cease using its Security Council Veto to stymie any international attempt at mediation.
- Iran must exert its influence on Hamas and Hizballah to stop targeting civilian areas, as it is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
- Israel must cease aggressive posturing against Iran that encourages the Iranian leadership to encourage Hamas and Hizballah to continue to provoke the IDF into attacks.