The Bigger Picture
Published on July 1st 2011 in Metro Éireann By Charles Laffiteau
Today I want to turn my focus away from President O’Bama and his recent trip to Europe and discuss the world’s longest running conflict, the ongoing disagreement between Israelis and Palestinians over the future of Israel and Palestine.
Middle East adviser, Aaron Miller says that “In an existential conflict driven by memory, identity, religion and national trauma, the Israeli and Palestinian capacities to absorb and inflict pain are limitless.” The Islamic world has become a breeding ground for terrorists because Muslim sympathies for the plight of Palestinians, fuels the popular anti-American sentiments which drives recruits to al-Qaeda and its affiliated terrorist organizations.
On one side you have Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who represents a brand of Zionism that portrays Jews as eternal victims and uses this as an excuse to brook no sympathy for Palestinians who lived in parts of present day Israel for centuries.
So when President O’Bama publicly stated his support for using the pre-1967 Arab-Israeli War boundaries as the starting point for negotiations over the boundaries for a Palestinian homeland, Netanyahu quickly jumped on his high horse and proceeded to lecture President O’Bama about why Israel needed more defensible borders than it had prior to 1967. Although many political observers thought Netanyahu’s lecturing was both unseemly and uncalled for, many Republican and Democratic politicians in Congress also chided President O’Bama for his remarks and gave Netanyahu a score of standing ovations when he gave a speech in Congress.
Politicians in Congress responded in this way because the lobbying influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is still very strong on Capitol Hill. But I think they are sadly mistaken if they believe kowtowing to AIPAC will win them any votes. While AIPAC has lurched to the right in defense of whatever Netanyahu proposes, American Jews under the age of 55 do not cast their votes based on America’s support for Israel. More than 75% of them vote Democratic and will continue to do so because they don’t agree with the Tea Party conservatives who currently dominate Republican Party politics.
On the other hand, representing the right wing of Palestinian politics we have a Hamas regime ostensibly concerned with establishing a homeland for Palestinians, when in fact what they really want is to establish an authoritarian regime along the lines of the one that currently rules Iran. The evidence of Hamas’ true intentions is already on display in Gaza where its internal security forces have been given free rein to bend dissident Palestinians to its will. For example when Palestinians protested that the taxes imposed by Hamas were adding to the burden of citizens most affected by the Israeli blockade they were rounded up and hauled off to jail.
So it is clear to this observer that Netanyahu and his right wing Israeli supporters as well as Hamas and its right wing Palestinian supporters actually have vested political interests in prolonging the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than settling it. Why? Because the ongoing Middle East conflict is used by both sides as a way to maintain their political power. While there is a middle ground here, both sides have shown that they will do whatever they can to crush anyone who advocates peaceful coexistence.
Juliano Mer-Khamis is a case in point. He was the Jewish son of Arna Mer-Khamis, a Zionist pioneer who later became a Palestinian rights activist. Juliano had rebuilt his mother’s performing arts workshop for Palestinian children in the West Bank town of Jenin, which the Israeli government bulldozed because they were using acting classes to teach Palestinian teens how to become more confident. Since Hamas also had no use for self confident Palestinians, a Hamas gunman permanently silenced Juliano by shooting him five times, thus ridding both sides of a mutual irritant. So much for the middle ground. If the Israeli government can’t silence you, Hamas will do the job for them.