FM: John Whitbeck
Transmitted below is the latest wisdom from Bill Pfaff, lifted from his
He asks a very pertinent question, one which should be posed persistently.
A Question for Israelis
*Date* 2007/10/19 12:20:00
Paris, October 18, 2007 – Is it possible to say something new about the
present Israel-Palestinian stalemate? Let me try, by raising a question
that seems completely, even resolutely, ignored -- or repressed, in its
Freudian signification – in Israeli appreciations of the situation.
The question is this: suppose that Israel is given all that its
government seems to want. No Palestinian state, Israel continues
colonization, annexing more of the Palestinian territories, or even all
What then? What will happen to the Palestinians in the years ahead? What
would the land of Israel, and what now are the Palestinian territories,
look like in 50 years?
A former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Dore Gold, recently
published a well-argued defense of Israel’s position with respect to the
Palestinians. |The International Herald Tribune, October 17, 2007.]
He wrote in response to the recent book by John Mearsheimer of the
University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard, attacking the
influence of the U.S. Israel lobby on American foreign policy and
agreed in the 1993 Oslo Accords to bringing Yasser Arafat and his exile
leadership from Tunis to the West Bank and Gaza, and in return got a
spate of suicide bombing attacks that emanated from the very cities
Israel turned over to the PLO.
He continued: “Over a thousand Israelis were killed. In 2005, Israel
nonetheless unilaterally pulled out of the Gaxa Strip, hoping that the
Palestinians and the international community would help create a ‘Dubai
on the Mediterranean.’ Instead, in early 2006 Hamas won the Palestinian
elections. It intensified the rocket attacks on southern Israel and Gaza
came to resemble Mogadishu. Why should Israel feel a moral burden under
Fine. Whatever the merits of the argument – and the Palestinians would
make a different one -- it deals with the past. The question is what is
to be done now. Forming a new state for the Palestinians is the solution
that is being attempted. This is why Condoleezza Rice has made seven
visits to Israel this year. She wishes to bring the parties to a meeting
in Annapolis, Maryland, next month, to advance the creation of such a
It is hard to expect much to result from this initiative, since Israel
gives no evidence of wishing to see progress in the matter. The
government’s announcement of still another seizure of Palestinian land
near Jerusalem a few days before Secretary Rice’s arrival seemed a
deliberate slap in her face.
One must ask the Israeli government the following question. Suppose, as
is probable, that no American administration, now or later, puts any
obstacle in the way of whatever you want to do. Suppose there were no
effective international pressures on you to stop colonization and land
seizures. Suppose that no Palestinian state is created. What are you
going to do about the Palestinians?
Israel’s present treatment of the Palestinian population has caused the
UN’s representative on the so-called “Quartet” to recommend to UN
Headquarters that the UN withdraw from that body (irrelevant as the
Quartet has proven). There are calls in Europe for the EU to withdraw
from the Quartet as well, for the same reason.
A former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, greatly respected
for his humanitarian work and his freedom from the intolerant
partisanship of current American politics, has been moved to write a
book protesting what he describes as the conditions of “apartheid” in
which Israel holds the Palestinians.
American opinion is shifting. The Walt-Mearsheimer book had had an
effect. The deliberate Israeli sinking of the USS Liberty in 1967 has
been taken up again in the mainstream press. War in Iraq and the
possibility of attack on Iran has increased popular concern about
Israeli influence on American policy.
Israeli human rights groups have denounced the treatment of the
Palestinians, and recently have accused the Israeli authorities of
trying to force Palestinians needing emergency medical help in Israeli
hospitals to collaborate with Israel’s security services as a condition
How long can this continue, even as a purely practical problem of
physical control of a hostile population? The Palestinian population
continues to grow more rapidly than Israel’s, and the average age grows
younger, producing cohorts of young people who are politically
radicalized, ready to turn again to violence to be free of these
conditions of life. There are certain to be new Palestinian uprisings.
In international law, Israel is responsible for these people. What
methods of permanent control does it envisage? There are some in Israel
who hope their misery will force the Palestinians to abandon the
territories. But to go where? In what conditions, and under what
Is sustained control of a foreign population with such measures a
politically supportable solution for the Israelis themselves, in view of
the Jewish people’s own long experience of discrimination and suffering?
I am not asking this for polemical purposes. I am asking a practical
question. What is Israel going to do with these people? The problem
exists, and however convenient to ignore today, it will have to answered.
© Copyright 2007 by Tribune Media Services International. All Rights
This article comes from William PFAFF
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