FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Israel and the Intifada for Dummies

So much convoluted politics in the Middle East, so much history, so much violence and hatred. It’s all so confusing. So once again I turn to the noted reference series for answers that can help me make the turmoil and tragedy easier to figure out.

Q. Why can’t there be at least a cease-fire between the Palestinians and the Israelis?

A. Your question rests on an assumption that either or both sides want peace. Maybe the majority of both peoples would be amenable to peace, if it came with enough justice and security, but the leaders have other agendas — and right now, because of all the wanton slaughter, have been able to bring a good section of their frightened, angry peoples along with them. In so doing, the Middle East is living in a soul blackout, and there’s no estimate on when moral power will be restored.

Let’s get it straight. The bloody butcher Sharon doesn’t want a viable, truly independent Palestinian state next to Israel. Never has, never will. He’s willing to accept a pseudo-“Palestinian state” on his border, but it would hardly be considered a viable country, rather something more like a collection of bantustans amidst all the Israeli settlements on the West Bank and Gaza. Each of those little Palestinian enclaves effectively would then have to deal with Israel on their own, ensuring Israeli domination and control of the area — in short, continued hegemony over land promised to the Palestinians for their state. That’s why Sharon has spent the past several weeks utterly and totally destroying the Palestinian political and actual infrastructure. Whatever Arafat will eventually be President of, this Israeli views goes, it won’t be worth having. And, Israel believes, it will have bought itself a good block of time until it once again has to worry about a unified, majorly re-armed Palestinian enemy.

The former PLO terrorist Arafat at one time may have been willing to consider a two-state deal, but when it became apparent over the decade since the Oslo agreement that Israel had no intention of following through and granting Palestine anything close to justice and territorial/political integrity, he began to re-think: Maybe it’s time to pressure Israel through a re-activation of the intifada, except this time with a more violent component. Plus, Arafat, who likes to think of himself as the one true leader of the Palestinian people, was being pressured by the extreme Palestinian nationalists like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who believed they could, and would, militarily drive Israel into the sea. These groups (with Osama bin Laden out there as a spiritual force, belittling Arafat as a corrupt individual who couldn’t lead his people into anything but poverty and ruin), and the other Arab states not lifting much of an open finger in helping the Palestinians, fueled Arafat’s desire to reclaim his leadership status in the Arab Middle East. All this may help explain his support for the suicide-bombing campaign, the one weak link in the Israeli security armor. Absent the Israeli reaction to those bombings, Arafat probably would have become even more irrelevant as a Palestinian leader — but Sharon turned him into a hero among Palestinians and ordinary Arabs throughout the region.

Q. Is Arafat gambling that the other Arab states will be forced to come in on the Palestinian side, for a final, all-out Arab-Israeli war?

A. He may be putting all his chips on this last hand, but, if so, he’d have been better off cashing in while he could. No Arab state, at least as presently governed, will do anything to provoke the Israelis to attack their countries. These Arab states may agree with the Palestinian cause, and may even do things under the table to aid the Palestinians, but they know what would happen to them if they openly attacked Israel, the strongest and most-determined military regime in the neighborhood: They’d be wiped out, either by the Israelis immediately or, after military defeat, by their own people as a result of having their governments overthrown. Which gets us back to the phrase “as presently governed”: Several of these “moderate” Arab rulers — in, say, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, etc. — might be overthrown anyway by Islamicist mobs, if Israel continues its brutal campaign on the West Bank, with nobody willing or able to stop them.

Q. The United States, the United Nations, the Pope, worldwide opinion, etc. is opposed to Israel’s current military campaign. Why isn’t this enough to get Sharon to back off?

A. It must be clear by now that the U.S. — having inflated anti-terrorist rhetoric for its own war — is in no position (even if it wanted to) to dictate to Sharon that he should stop in his campaign to break the back of Mideast terror networks. Sharon right now is the tail that’s wagging the dog. Since Bush has no intention of getting further sucked into the Mideast quagmire, and neither the U.S. or U.N., despite all their calls for a cease-fire, seems interested in building a serious international coalition to force a ceasefire and political negotiations, the Israeli military campaign will continue until Sharon feels he’s caused as much damage as he can to the Palestinians’ capacity to govern a destroyed infrastructure.

Q. But surely both sides can see that the other side isn’t going to disappear and that military solutions will never get them what they want — peace, security, control of their own territory — so why can’t they call a halt in the violence and get back to the political negotiating table?

A. Of course they know that, but they don’t want to accept that. Each believes, if they keep the military pressure up just a little while longer, the other side will capitulate and simply vanish. Of course it’s insane, but that’s what is going on. Plus, see Answer #1 above. Plus: Ever see two boys fighting in the school yard? “You started it first!” “No, you did!” “No, you started it!” And so on. Until someone comes along and separates them, and forces them to some serious reflection — in this case, to recognize that going over the history again and again of who started what when is not productive — they will continue in this everlasting cycle of historical blaming forever.

Both sides also know roughly what the final solution will look like: something like the Saudi proposal, with Israel being recognized as a legitimate state with normalized relations with its Arab neighbors; Israel pulling out of the Occupied Territories, including abandoning its settlements; a viable Palestine state being created out of the contiguous territory in the West Bank and Gaza (and perhaps even part of Jordan); a shared Jerusalem, presided over by an international body; perhaps international peacekeepers in between the two equal states; Israel permitting a certain limited number of Palestinians to return to their ancestral homes and farms inside Israel and paying reparations to others not permitted to return, etc. But knowing what the ultimate solution will look like and being able to get there are two very different things.

Q. What will it take to get on the road to that final peace settlement? Will Sharon and Arafat have to go?

A. Unless the United States and United Nations and other interested international parties intervene to help develop the mechanisms for peace — and there’s no real movement beyond rhetoric in this area — and unless the two sides themselves come to realize the futility of their present behavior patterns, one can expect nothing but continued slaughter for years and years. At that point, new leaders will emerge, probably younger, who will have the courage to say, finally, enough is enough, and let’s sit down and seriously talk. But that means untold amounts of carnage, hatred, revenge cycles, suicide bombers, colonial repression, and so on. That’s why the current moment needs to be seized in the name of peace. If the old warriors cannot make the peace — and it certainly doesn’t look like they can at the moment — others will have to do it for them. Devoid of a current movement toward peace, all we can expect is a continuing slide into moral darkness and slaughter on a scale heretofore unthinkable.

Bernard Weiner, a poet and playwright, has previously contributed The ‘War on Terrorism’ for Dummies, and The Middle East for Dummies. Holder of a Ph.D. in government & international relations, he has taught at San Diego State University and Western Washington University. He was with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 20 years.

 

More articles by:

BERNARD WEINER, Ph.D., is co-editor of The Crisis Papers, has taught at various universities, and was a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 20 years.

August 16, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
“Don’t Be Stupid, Be a Smarty”: Why Anti-Authoritarian Doctors Are So Rare
W. T. Whitney
New Facebook Alliance Endangers Access to News about Latin America
Ramzy Baroud
Mission Accomplished: Why Solidarity Boats to Gaza Succeed Despite Failing to Break the Siege
Larry Atkins
Why Parkland Students, Not Trump, Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize
William Hartung
Donald Trump, Gunrunner for Hire
Yves Engler
Will Trudeau Stand Up to Mohammad bin Salman?
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Morality Tales in US Public Life?
Vijay Prashad
Samir Amin: Death of a Marxist
Binoy Kampmark
Boris Johnson and the Exploding Burka
Eric Toussaint
Nicaragua: The Evolution of the Government of President Daniel Ortega Since 2007 
Adolf Alzuphar
Days of Sagebrush, Nights of Jasmine in LA
Robert J. Burrowes
A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival
August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omarosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail