This article called Tough Love for Israel will appear in the May 5, 2008 edition of The Nation (requires a subscription to read in full). Here is a fair use introduction. Its author, Henry Siegman, is typical of Nation authors: they have a well-developed habit of telling the truth. In this case it is about politicians who appear willing to pretend that what is going on in Israel-Palestine is not going on.
Pretending about Israel’s intentions is a favorite pastime of American politicians and politicians elsewhere, and that would seem to include all of the current presidential candidates. Says Seigman below, Israel has “never had the intention of allowing a Palestinian state to come into being.” Or, as Jimmy Carter put it a few nights ago on the Charlie Rose Show, “Israel wants land not peace.” And Israel is apparently willing to continue killing and uprooting Palestinians to achieve its goal.
We now have word that Tony Blair, envoy of the Middle East Quartet (the UN, the EU, Russia and the United States), and German Chancellor Angela Merkel intend to organize yet another peace conference, this time in Berlin in June. It is hard to believe that after the long string of failed peace initiatives, stretching back at least to the Madrid conference of 1991, diplomats are recycling these failures without seemingly having a clue as to why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is even more hopeless today than before these peace exercises first got under way.
The scandal of the international community’s impotence in resolving one of history’s longest bloodlettings is that it knows what the problem is but does not have the courage to speak the truth, much less deal with it. The peace conference in Germany will suffer from the same gutlessness that has marked all previous efforts. It will deal with everything except the problem primarily responsible for the impasse. That problem is that for all the sins attributable to the Palestinians–and they are legion, including inept and corrupt leadership, failed institution-building and the murderous violence of rejectionist groups–there is no prospect for a viable, sovereign Palestinian state, primarily because Israel’s various governments, from 1967 until today, have never had the intention of allowing such a state to come into being.
It would be one thing if Israeli governments had insisted on delaying a Palestinian state until certain security concerns had been dealt with. But no government serious about a two-state solution to the conflict would have pursued, without letup, the theft and fragmentation of Palestinian lands, which even a child understands makes Palestinian statehood impossible.
Another thing most of our politicians pretend about is America’s complicity in the human rights tragedy going on today in Gaza. Speaking at the American University in Cairo after his trip to Syria (reported by Reuters), Jimmy Carter again told it like it is:
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter called the blockade of Gaza a crime and an atrocity on Thursday and said U.S. attempts to undermine the Islamist movement Hamas had been counterproductive.
Carter said Palestinians in Gaza were being “starved to death”, receiving fewer calories a day than people in the poorest parts of Africa.
“It’s an atrocity what is being perpetrated as punishment on the people in Gaza. It’s a crime… I think it is an abomination that this continues to go on,” Carter said.
So not everyone is willing to pretend for Israel’s sake.