Peace must surpass forged harmony (Three articles)

Palestine Update 362

Peace must surpass forged harmony (Three articles)

Israeli’s tend to miss the point of how their utter cruelty dehumanizes and oppresses Palestinians. So every now and then, when guilt grips them, they enact the theatre of false unity. An initiative to bring 100 Palestinians to Israel with a thousand or more Israelis to commemorate Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day was a sheer prank that pretended both people have suffered similar fates. Liberal Zionist organizations pull off this farce year after year. For Palestinians Israel-Palestinian Memorial day is about how Palestinian victims are not part of the Israeli story of memorial; they belong to the narrative where Palestinians confront the fact of decades of loss, oppression and resistance that persists ceaselessly.

Israel also misses another key issue. With annexation being a real threat, a mindless and foolhardy Israel government presumes it can do as it wishes as long as a Trump like figure endorses it. Palestinian land does not belong to Trump and this is not a ‘real estate’ topic. There are red lines that Israel must not dare cross. A Third Intifada is bound to follow heightened recklessness on Israel’s part. It will not be from Palestinians alone. It will embrace international solidarity and the Muslim world can be expected to step in regardless of whether or not its leaders back it. The street could explode and we are on the verge of the Quds day- an annual event held on the last Friday of Ramadan initiated by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 to express support for the Palestinians and oppose Zionism and Israel.

The “Deal of Century” has already proven stillborn. Trump and his somewhat dim-witted son-in-law have probably realized that big words and symbols will not end this tragic and bloody battle of wills. Neither Israelis nor the Palestinians will relinquish what is dearest to them: Zionism (for the Israelis) and the right of return for the Palestinians. Final status solutions must be dealt with justly and comprehensively. You cannot hope that political tinkering can produce a comprehensive peace.

The articles below are lengthy but are must-reads to understand the acute complexities of the Israeli-Palestinians conflict. Clearly, Israel is obliged to behave as a civilized and democratic country, not a cranky bully.

 Ranjan Solomon

The false unity of remembering Israeli and Palestinian deaths
(Excerpts from an article by Lana Tartour)

False narrative
Late last month, a joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony was held, characterized as an alternative to Israel’s official national memorial commemorations. Yet, the collaborative branding of the ceremony is a false narrative. This ceremony is an Israeli initiative. It is held in Tel Aviv alongside Israel’s official Memorial Day events, and participants are predominantly Israeli. The handful of Palestinians who come from the occupied West Bank are required to obtain entry permits from the Israeli government, which are usually obtained only after court challenges. For example, in 2019, there were 10,000 participants in the ceremony held in Tel Aviv, with only 100 Palestinians from the West Bank granted permits to attend.

This year’s ceremony was sponsored by Israeli and Jewish peace groups such as Peace Now, J Street, The Union for Reform Judaism, the New Israel Fund and interfaith groups, among others. The list of supportive liberal Zionist organizations is telling of the politics that underpin it.

The colonial violence that breeds death and bereavement is set aside, in favour of what is seen as a powerful presentation of a humanist vision. The ceremony builds on a symmetry between Israeli and Palestinian deaths, the occupiers and their victims. In this year’s ceremony, for example, Israeli speakers included the brother of an Israeli soldier killed during the Israeli invasion of Jenin in 2002, in which tens of Palestinians were killed. On the Palestinian side, speakers included the mother of a 14-year-old boy shot dead by an Israeli soldier. At the heart of the ceremony is the idea that we, Palestinians and Israelis, are all victims of a conflict between two national movements. Israeli and Palestinian bereaved families are invited to share their stories of grief as a message of hope. This experience, we are told, is shared; we both mourn our loved ones and live the pain of their loss.

Murderous colonial regime
The colonial violence that breeds death and bereavement is set aside, in favour of what is seen as a powerful presentation of a humanist vision. Even those who occupy, colonize or commit war crimes have a family and loved ones to mourn them.  But is the death of an Israeli soldier and its Palestinian victim the same, simply because they are both mourned by their families? And what does it mean, politically, to ask Palestinians to mourn Israeli soldiers? Palestinian students protest as an Israeli soldier points a gun in Hebron in 2005 (AFP)

The ceremony may provide catharsis for the guilty liberal conscience, but it does little for the oppressed. Bereavement and suffering do not happen in a vacuum; they are political. To equate the deaths of those who occupy, colonize and oppress with the deaths of those who are occupied, colonized and oppressed is in itself a form of violence. The death and loss commemorated in this ceremony are not the tragic result of a fatal accident or illness; they are the product of murderous colonial violence. The joint ceremony is driven by an Israeli agenda, and it is designed to meet Israeli needs. It provides an answer to the Israelis who are not willing to abandon Israeli national politics, or to reject the very idea of a national Memorial Day for a settler state that continues to occupy, dispossess, expel and kill Palestinians on a daily basis.

Decades of loss
Participants do not necessarily abandon their commitment to settler nationalism. Many of the Israeli participants who attend the joint ceremony celebrate Israel’s independence the next day. The ceremony allows Israeli leftists to have their cake and eat it too. By framing it in an inclusionary and reconciliatory discourse, they can remain part of the Israeli settler national ethos in their own way, even if their way is rejected by the Israeli majority. In the process, they appropriate Palestinian loss and pain and frame it as part of Israeli national politics. Our victims, however, are not part of the Israeli story of memorial; they are part of a Palestinian story of decades of loss, oppression and resistance that continues to this day.
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Israel warns annexation-Palestine counters with warning of Intifada
Palestine under shadow of new Intifadah with occupation of West BankThe Zionist Regime’s plans these days to annex parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley and the destruction of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem despite the coronavirus outbreak has caused Palestinian and international circles to warn that such movements will ruin the possibility of peace in the light of the establishment of the Palestinian state.

The annexation plan is a political one and is aimed at dominating over the water and agricultural sources of Palestine, urging different institutions not to confine their reactions to condemn but to follow up the issue in the international sphere. The Palestinian Liberation Organization said that Palestine would bring the case to the International Criminal Court to hold the Zionist Regime accountable for its war crimes in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Occupied Jerusalem. Israeli PLO warned that the Israeli Regime has issued 22 warnings in the Palestinian areas and continued to destroy their homes in all Palestinian lands and in the Jordan Valley, adding that the ICC’s attorney office has approved Palestinian have the right to bring the case to this court.United Nations has asked Israeli officials to stop the destruction of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, due to Ramadan month and the coronavirus outbreak. Taking into consideration the fact that the Zionist Regime has violated any agreement reached in the course of 72 years since the occupation of Palestine and now wants to occupy the West Bank, Palestinians threatened the regime to put all agreements aside.

If the Israeli regime continues its aggressive measures, a new Intifadah by Palestinian people, this time with more international support, is not unlikely, given that the Muslim world is on the verge of the Quds day.

Why Trump’s Plan for Middle East Peace Will Fail (Excerpts)

ReutersIt’s no earth-shattering prediction to forecast that history isn’t likely to remember President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” as the peace plan that ended a conflict—the first major violent outbreak in which will mark its centenary this month. The wisdom or folly of would-be presidential peacemakers is of little consequence as long as the path to peace remains blocked by an obstacle that only the most wrenching⁠—and, therefore, the most improbable⁠—concession by one of the two parties to the conflict can remove: Israel’s surrender of its identity as a Jewish state or the Palestinians’ surrender of the right of return.

 Not only are these two positions irreconcilable, from the standpoint of the Israelis and Palestinians that cling to them, they’re also non-negotiable. For the past two decades, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have pivoted on four main “final-status issues” that, if resolved, would ostensibly settle the conflict once and for all: the borders of a Palestinian state/the fate of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Israeli security, Palestinian refugees, and the disposition of Jerusalem. Of these, it is only the question of Palestinian refugees (and its companion issue, Israel’s identity as a Jewish state) that goes to the heart of the conflict, tracing its origins, not to the 1967 war, in which Israel captured the Palestinian-populated West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, but to the 1948 war, in which both Israel itself and the Palestinian refugee problem entered into existence.

Palestinian leaders have demurred, that “the Palestinian Authority will never recognize Israel as the Jewish state because such a declaration will negate the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their home.” By the same token, while the Palestinian Authority accepts the two-state solution, it resists the formula of “two states for two peoples.”

Trump’s “Deal of the Century” confronts the twin-headed hydra of the demand of Jewish statehood/the Palestinian right of return by endorsing the Israeli position, stipulating, “There shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the State of Israel . . . Palestinian leaders must embrace peace by recognizing Israel as the Jewish state.” It was no great surprise when the Israeli government affirmed its acceptance of the plan, celebrating the continued alignment of their own and the American position, or when the Palestinian leadership rejected it out of hand, spurning it as a non-starter.

In fact, the “Deal of Century” has already proven stillborn. Washington is powerless to end this tragic and bloody battle of wills unless either the Israelis or the Palestinians renounce what is dearest to them: Zionism or the right of return. Until then, the two sides are fated to remain caught, to adapt an idiom common both to Hebrew and Arabic, between the hammer of conflict and the anvil of compromise.