Friday,15 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1284, (25 February - 2 March 2016))
Friday,15 December, 2017
Issue 1284, (25 February - 2 March 2016))

Ahram Weekly

Washing its hands of Palestine

European leaders will never put meaningful pressure on Israel to end the injustice done to the Palestinians because of Israel’s ultimate blackmail card, writes Alan Hart

Al-Ahram Weekly

The headline is in response to recent comments made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint press conference in Berlin with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and the decision of the Cameron government in the UK to make boycotting goods from “Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank” by publicly funded bodies, including local councils and universities, a criminal offence.

Much to the delight of Netanyahu, who has rejected a French initiative to convene a regional conference to try to get a peace process going, Merkel said, “Now is certainly not the time to make really comprehensive progress.”

She added, “The European Union, and Germany as a member state, is very concerned about seeing things realistically. We know the threat of terrorism that Israel has to endure. We believe, on the other hand, that we have to advance a process of peaceful coexistence, and this, according to our opinion, is ultimately built on a two-state solution.”

In my view, Merkel’s words were, to say the least, disingenuous. If Merkel and the other European leaders and their governments had any interest in acknowledging the reality on the ground in Israel/Palestine they would refrain from describing the attacks by individual Palestinians on Israeli Jews over recent months as terrorism.

To qualify as an act of terrorism an attack has to be motivated or driven by the need and determination to achieve a political goal. In the case of the Palestinians, that would be ending Israel’s occupation and securing an acceptable amount of justice.

That has not been the motivation or drive of any of the Palestinians who have attacked and sometimes killed Israeli Jews in recent months. The attacks were and still are motivated or driven by total despair — the abandonment by individuals of all hope of an end to Israel’s on-going and ever-expanding colonisation of the Occupied West Bank and all that it means in terms of the theft of more and more Palestinian land and water and the destruction of more and more Palestinian homes.

In other words, the individual Palestinian attacks on Israeli Jews over recent months are best (most accurately) described as understandable responses to Israel’s brutal repression.

My other reason for describing Merkel’s words as disingenuous is that she knows, as all other European leaders and their governments know, that the two-state solution is already dead, killed by Israel’s on-going colonisation of the Occupied West Bank.

All Western leaders also know that even if they summoned up the will to use the leverage they have to try to cause Israel to agree to bring the concept of a two-state solution back to life as the way to peace, there could never be such a solution to the conflict because no Israeli government is ever going to initiate a Jewish civil war to make the space for a viable Palestinian mini-state.

The problem for all European leaders and the American president (Barack Obama at present and whoever succeeds him after the November elections) is that they can’t acknowledge that the two-state solution is dead because to do so would leave them with only two options.

One would be to go for a confrontation with Zionism and its monster child and use all of their leverage to try to bring about a one-state solution with equal political, civil and human rights for all. That would mean the de-Zionisation of Palestine. The other would be to say (as Obama has said more than once) that they can’t want peace more than the parties themselves, and that, of course, would be the cover for indicating without saying so that they were washing their hands of Palestine and leaving the fate of its Arabs to be determined by Zionism.

On the subject of the Cameron government’s decision to make boycotting goods from Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank by publicly funded bodies a criminal offence, I agree with a comment made by US journalist Glenn Greenwald in a recent article. Cameron was, he wrote, playing his part in a very co-ordinated and well-financed campaign led by Israel and its supporters to destroy the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement.

In Jerusalem on 15 February, at the annual conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations, retired Israeli Brigadier-General Yossi Kuperwasser described BDS as “anti-Semitism” and “terrorism”. I imagine he’s deluded enough to regard all and any criticism of Israel’s policies and actions as both.

Hillary Clinton, still it seems the most likely next president of the US, has been advancing this Zionist campaign to de-legitimise and outlaw the BDS movement for many months. She and others who are dancing to Zionism’s tune are not concerned that they are, as Palestinian politicians Hanan Ashrawi and Saeb Erekat put it in a PLO statement, “perpetuating injustice and empowering occupation”.

Now back to Merkel’s statement that the European Union and Germany as a member state are “very concerned about seeing things realistically”. There is actually a great and little known truth hidden behind these words that has to do with the real reason why Israel possesses nuclear weapons.

As I explained in detail in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, the Israeli leaders who insisted that anything should be done to enable their state to possess and develop nuclear weapons never believed they were necessary as part of Israel’s defence against the Arabs. In fact, former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon was the leader of those who were opposed to Israel acquiring nuclear weapons. Behind closed doors he argued that if Israel had them, the Arabs at some point would also acquire them. And if that happened, he said, Israel’s ability to impose its will on the Arabs with conventional/non-nuclear weapons would be seriously compromised.

Instead, the possession of nuclear weapons is Zionism’s ultimate blackmail card. This was indicated to me in 1969 by Israeli military leader Moshe Dayan, the country’s one-eyed warlord. He assumed that a day would come when just about the whole world, governments as well as peoples, would be fed up with Israel and would subject it to immense and possibly irresistible pressure to end its defiance of international law and denial of justice to the Palestinians.

I said to Dayan, “What you seem to be saying is that if ever such a day comes, Israel’s leaders will say to the world, ‘Don’t push us too far or we’ll use these things.’” Dayan gave me a big smile and replied, “You’re understanding me.”

Three days before Israel went to war in June 1967 I asked him what he thought the coming days would bring. He smiled, made a gesture with a finger to illustrate what he was about to say, and then, directly to the camera, said, “The desert is beckoning.” That told me Israel was about to strike. In a report for the British news programme ITN on the evening of Sunday 4 June 1967 I speculated that Israel would go to war the following morning. It did. And that’s why I had no problem believing what Dayan indicated to me in 1969.

The conclusion I draw from everything I have learned from nearly half a century of engagement in various capacities with the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel is that there are two main reasons for the refusal of the major Western powers to confront Zionism in order to provide the Palestinians with an acceptable amount of justice.

One is the influence (declining a little but still awesome) that the Zionist lobby in all of its manifestations has in the corridors of power, together with its unlimited funds to buy politicians. The other is the fear that if they are pushed further than they are prepared to go, Israel’s leaders will press a nuclear button, or two and more, if needed.

This fear is no doubt reinforced in the minds of those Western leaders who are aware of what former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir once said to me in an interview for the BBC’s Panorama TV programme. As readers of my book and one or two of my blog posts over the years know, she said that in a doomsday situation, “Israel would be prepared to take the region and the whole world down with it.”

To those who are clinging to the hope that Europe will take the lead in pressing Israel to be serious about peace on terms the Palestinians can accept, I say that this will never happen.


The writer is a former ITN and BBC foreign correspondent who specialised in the Middle East.

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