William Pfaff of the international New York Times in Paris has just published the first mainstream editorial I’ve seen on Israel that I can agree with. Originally published on June 4th, it appeared in my local paper today under the title “Days of Kowtowing to Israel Must End.” Below is the text, which speaks for itself:
The merciful death that has, at last, been administered to Secretary of State John Kerry’s foredoomed Israel-Palestinian settlement talks, has been greeted by little beyond silence in the international community.
Anyone possessing a modicum of reason knew that the effort was a waste of time so long as Mr. Kerry was incapable of bringing to the talks a changed position on the part of the Obama administration. Without that, and so long as Benjamin Netanyahu remained prime minister of Israel, and the character of the Israeli government remained unchanged, the Jewish state remained, and will remain, locked into self-destruction.
The suicide will probably be lengthy and agonized, accompanied at some point in the future by return to armed struggle, as Zionist Israel again tries to destroy whatever entity or community that is the successor to the present Palestinian state, as presently recognized by the UN General Assembly. Palestine’s existence, where it is, as it continues to exist, will increasingly become morally as well as strategically insufferable and unbearable to Israel.
Barack Obama could spare Israel this terrible outcome, as I will argue, but the insolence of the Netanyahu government towards the American ally which has empowered Israel’s survival, prosperity and progress, and connived in Israel’s oppression of its Palestinian victims, has clearly inspired in President Obama a profound hatred and contempt towards this man Netanyahu and his fellow-aggressors, who choose the eventual destruction of Israel itself for reasons of their own advantage, and to satisfy the blind and deaf fanaticism of the settlement movement.
The best in Israel – the people who grasp what their fellow citizens are doing to Israel, are begging the United States and the West Europeans (from among whom came those, who in another century, were responsible for the infamy inflicted upon the Jews of Europe), to save them today.
How? I will quote one of the most important and influential Israeli journalists, Gideon Levy, writing in the newspaper Haaretz:
“It is unacceptable, in the 21st century, for a state that purports to be a permanent member of the free world to keep another nation deprived of its rights. It is unthinkable, simply unthinkable, for millions of Palestinians to continue to live in these conditions. It is unthinkable for a democratic state to continue to oppress them in this way. It is unthinkable that the world stands by and allows it to happen.
The two-state discussion must now become a discussion of rights: Dear Israelis, you wanted an occupation and the settlements — knock yourselves out! Remain in Yitzhar, dig yourselves into the mountainside and build to your hearts’ desire in Itamar. But you absolutely must grant full rights to the Palestinians living alongside, exactly the same rights that you enjoy.
Equal rights for all; one person, one vote – that should be the message to the international community. After all, what could Israel say to this new message? That there cannot be equal rights because the Jews are the chosen people? That it would endanger security? The excuses would quickly run out, and the naked truth would come to light: that in this land only Jews have rights. Such a message cannot go unchallenged.
At the same time, the entire [foreign] approach to Israel must be changed. As long as it does not pay the price of the occupation and its citizens go unpunished, they will have no reason to end it, or even to deal with it. The occupation is deep inside the Israeli closet. There is no one to it out; the overwhelming majority want it to remain inside. For this reason only punitive measures will remind us of its existence. Yes, I mean boycotts and sanctions, which are greatly preferable to bloodshed.
This is the truth, even if it’s bitter. America and Europe have kowtowed to Israel enough. Unfortunately, to no effect. From now on, the world must speak a different language and perhaps it will be understood. After all, Israel has proved, more than once, that the language of power and punishment is its main language.”
Gideon Levy thus speaks to his compatriots with force and determination – and to us. Israel is what it is today, and the Palestinians are where they are, in part because of the Israeli government’s exploitation of its foreign allies, collaborators and enablers, as well as foreign politicians who have been willing recipients of its persuasion or bribes, distorting or concealing the truth about a situation that is, to moral man, as Levy says, “unthinkable.”
The United States and Western Europe cannot be content with boycotts and sanctions. Washington must stop its non-military aid to Israel, and end its complicity in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and Israel’s continuing illegal seizure and occupation of Palestinian lands. It must cease its unconditional support for Israel at the United Nations.
It should instead support full Palestinian membership in the UN and in the International Criminal Court. It should make unmistakably clear to the Israelis that restoration of their country’s alliance with the United States, and of their associations with a European Union that follows Washington’s course of “power and punishment” directed at Israel, awaits the day when justice is restored in that country’s relations with the Palestinian people.