FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Get Israeli Peace Leaders Before Congress

by RALPH NADER

The new Secretary of State John Kerry taking four trips to the Israeli/Palestinian region in the past two months means yet another U.S. effort for a negotiated peace process between the Palestinians (under ruthless occupation) and the very dominant Israelis. Why should the prospects be any better than the failed attempts by the esteemed former Senator George Mitchell, and his predecessors?

As senator with a “grade A” from the powerful pro-Israeli government lobby AIPAC, Secretary Kerry has forged a coalition of Israeli and Palestinian businessmen behind a $4 billion economic assistance plan for the West Bank and Gaza. He is also tapping into the significant Israeli public opinion behind a two-state solution.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is outwardly going through the motions of supporting peace negotiations but demands preconditions and no cessation of expanding Israeli colonies in Palestine. Netanyahu knows how to play the U.S. government like a harp. He talks about negotiations for peace, but remains intransigent.

Back in 1996, he told an applauding joint session of Congress that Israel’s mature economy would no longer need U.S. foreign aid. Today, Israel is a prosperous, bigger economy but is still receiving U.S. foreign aid.

Kerry’s trump card is recognizing the long neglected specific peace offer by the 22-member Arab league in 2002. These Arab countries have renewed and updated their proposal to make it easier for Israel to accept. It includes a comprehensive peace treaty with all Arab nations and Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with minor land swaps. Netanyahu has given this offer the back of his hand despite its highly-publicized reiteration in the ensuing years. But this year, Israeli President (an honorific post) Shimon Peres highlighted the verbal Israeli government endorsement of a two-state solution and urged that “a broad structure of support be created for making progress.”

The problem is that almost nobody in Israel – hawks, peace advocates, or those in the middle – believes anything will come out of Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy.

Here are some reasons why. There is no pressure on Netanyahu’s governing coalition to wage peace. As Ethan Bronner, long-time The New York Times reporter in Israel, wrote this past Sunday: “Israel has never been richer, safer, more culturally productive or dynamic.” He might have added that, with huge natural gas finds offshore, Israel is about to be both self-sufficient in fossil fuels and a net exporter.

Nor is there any pressure that Netanyahu recognizes from the Palestinian/Arab side. Palestinians are continually subjugated, impoverished, divided internally and on the losing end of the casualty toll by a ratio exceeding 400 to 1. Israel can strike targets in Palestine at will.

Arab nations are internally preoccupied with civil wars, sectarian conflicts and, except for the Gulf countries, weak economies. Israel, with the most modern military, heavily furnished by the United States, and scores of ready nuclear bombs, stands astride the Middle East as a giant colossus.

The main reality in Israeli domestic politics is that, if it weren’t for external threats, however exaggerated, the Israeli government and society would have to face very deep divisions inside Israel between secular and ultraorthodox populations. From expanding the colonies in Palestine to strict religious rituals and social mores, exemptions from military service, the place of women, and the treatment of the Israeli Arabs, there are two Israels that are ready to erupt were peace to break out with Palestine and Arab neighbors. (See http://www.seruv.org.il/english/combatants_letter.asp.)

Faced with this harrowing prospect of domestic civil strife, Netanyahu’s government feels no urgency for peace, according to Bronner. The regional status quo is under control of its iron fist.

Many out-of-power Israeli politicians, such as former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and former Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, have all argued for vigorously pursuing a two-state solution to head off Israel becoming a state that, in a few decades, contains more Palestinians than Israelis. The militarists, however, are the ones running the government.

Moreover, Kerry cannot expect any pressure from Washington on the Israeli government, because Washington, especially Congress, always goes along with the Israeli government, to such a degree that it astonishes opposition parties in the Israeli Knesset.

Make no mistake about Netanyahu. He is and has long been a vintage extreme hardliner against any Palestinian sovereignty. In 1989, after the Tiananmen Square massacre in China, Netanyahu, then Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, told students at Bar Ilan University that: “Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories.”

Eviction and the expropriation of what is left of the original Palestine has long been the dogma of Israeli militarists and leaders of the expansionist Likud Party, including Ariel Sharon.

The award-winning Israeli documentary “The Gatekeepers” (http://www.thegatekeepersfilm.com/) presents six retired leaders of the Shin Bit – the Israeli FBI – speaking with remarkable candor about how rational actions, including those toward peace, were continually overruled by politicians who exploited the Israeli-Arab conflict for their own domestic advantage.

So, what is our Secretary of State to do? Kerry should propose that these men and other prominent retired outspoken leaders from the military, security, and elected political leaders, together with well-known writers and scholars testify at length before the U.S. House and Senate. AIPAC cannot stop them from testifying. Congress and the American people will be given an opportunity to hear these experienced, persuasive voices for a peace settlement.

After all, peace in the Middle East is more in the U.S. national interest and security than ever before. Americans are paying too hefty a human and financial price to allow a muzzled Congress to stay on bended knee, supporting whatever the Israeli government wants.

Such a breakthrough on Capitol Hill will also enhance the Israeli peace and human rights movement which reflects the moral dimension for ending the occupation/colonization of Palestine.

In a recent pamphlet by Americans for Peace Now and its counterpart in Israel, Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former Israel deputy foreign minister and member of the Knesset, declared that “to occupy and control the lives of millions of Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria, and to negate their right to create their own state and future in peace, side by side with the State of Israel is not just, is not moral, and is not Judaism.” (See www.peacenow.org.)

In May 2004 Senator Kerry told me “I have many friends in the Israeli peace movement.” It is time for him to begin the mission for peace in his old haunt the U.S. Congress, without which he will share the decades-long failure of those who came before him in both Republican and Democratic Administrations.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 29, 2017
Jeffrey Sommers
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon: Real Threats More Serious Than Fake News Trafficked by Media
David Kowalski
Does Washington Want to Start a New War in the Balkans?
Patrick Cockburn
Bloodbath in West Mosul: Civilians Being Shot by Both ISIS and Iraqi Troops
Ron Forthofer
War and Propaganda
Matthew Stevenson
Letter From Phnom Penh
James Bovard
Peanuts Prove Congress is Incorrigible
Thomas Knapp
Presidential Golf Breaks: Good For America
Binoy Kampmark
Disaster as Joy: Cyclone Debbie Strikes
Peter Tatchell
Human Rights are Animal Rights!
George Wuerthner
Livestock Grazing vs. the Sage Grouse
Jesse Jackson
Trump Should Form a Bipartisan Coalition to Get Real Reforms
Thomas Mountain
Rwanda Indicts French Generals for 1994 Genocide
Clancy Sigal
President of Pain
Andrew Stewart
President Gina Raimondo?
Lawrence Wittner
Can Our Social Institutions Catch Up with Advances in Science and Technology?
March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail