Saturday, July 19

The Prisoner Exchange and the Coffins

The scenes of tragedy visible on TV screens of two coffins draped with Israeli flags that passed the Lebanese border left all of us feeling helpless, identifying, and sympathizing with the Regev and Goldwasser families of the two dead soldiers. Thoughts running through my mind at that moment were thoughts of remorse for Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, an evil and charismatic manipulating leader of Hezbollah. The Hezbollah organization of Shiite Islamist extremists hate Israel so much that it perceives Israelis, not as humans but as monsters. The rules of war do not apply in the Hezbollah psyche. Even in war, there are rules concerning treatment of prisoners-of -war that are observed as stipulated in the Geneva Convention. As Hezbollah does not represent Lebanon but is a worrisome entity within Lebanon that operates independently, it does not have any obligation to keep any international agreements or uphold the Geneva Convention on treatment of abducted soldiers. Hezbollah does not even give a thought to any human aspect at all. THEY ARE BARBARIANS WITH NO HUMAN COMPASSION!!!!

The psychological torture that the evil Nasrallah and his creeps have caused the Goldwasser and Regev families is cruelty at its worst. His manipulations and his despicable rhetoric portray this beastly human being at the height of his power. He knew that the two kidnapped soldiers were dead after they were attacked by Hezbollah terrorists two years ago. He made cruel and caustic remarks conducting himself in a fashion befitting the lowest form of bestial behaviour. He played along using his psychological, sadistic mannerisms of deception. This filthy beast of deception is a coward! He is “brave” sitting in his bunker, fearing for his existence and leaves his bunker rarely. He has no human feelings. His whereabouts are unknown. He knows that his days are numbered and he will be annihilated eventually. He is prolonging his life by hiding in his stinking bunker. He comes up for air, welcoming child murderers as heroes. It is hard to believe that this notorious beast has any love even for his own people. He is a puppet of the evil Ahmadinajad regime of Iran. The Lebanese People, who have suffered so much, have no great love for Nasrallah and his evil Hezbollah. They are responsible for so much of the bloodshed and human suffering in Lebanon as well as the anarchy reigning there.

Nasrallah exhibited his “bravery” to welcome the child murderer, Samir Kuntar, whose claim to fame was murdering a four year old child by striking her head with the butt of his rifle until she was killed in 1979. What a hero he is in the eyes of the Hezbollah thugs! This murderous beast was exchanged for the coffins of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. For 105 weeks, the Goldwasser and Regev families were kept in the dark as to the fate of their sons. This is so despicable and cruel! It just illustrates what kind of barbarians Hezbollah with its leader Nasrallah really are. They are fascists devoid of any compassion for the human condition. Do they feel that by their despicable act, they will weaken the resolve of decent human beings all over the world to condemn this kind of behaviour? They will not harm Israel, on the contrary, they will strengthen Israel and with it they will destroy any hope for a rapprochement between Israel and Lebanon.

The scenes of jubilation in Beirut at child murderer Kuntar’s release was a macabre spectacle illustrating the height of barbarianism that segments of the Lebanese people are capable. He was paraded in battle fatigues. Kuntar “fought a great battle” by killing an innocent 4 year old child in such a brutal fashion.

Nasrallah knew that the only way he could hit Israel is by kidnapping its soldiers, killing them and keeping up the great lie by not giving out information as to their fate. In this way he could exact a very high price for dead soldiers and prolonging the cruelty for a long time. Israel has no solution for this kidnapping tactic.

Even in Gaza, there were celebrations by Hamas supporters for the release of Samir Kuntar. It is a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. This is what cultivates the relationship between Hamas and Hezbollah. There is no great love between Hamas and Hezbollah. The former is Sunni while the latter is Shiite. These two sects in Islam are not on good terms and this is bound to influence the relationship between the two groups in the future. Today, their common hate for Israel unites them. This means that Israel will be very cautious in its dealings with Hamas so that they can achieve the release of Gilad Shalit who is being held in captivity by Hamas in Gaza. To add insult to injury Nasrallah has made a cynical offer to act as mediator to gain Gilad Shalit’s release. What lies in his mind with his “defensive strategy”, as he puts it, is anybody’s guess. Israel has rejected his “offer” outright. Israel reportedly declined Nasrallah's overtures from a desire not to raise Nasrallah's status in the Arab world. Nasrallah garnered intense media attention Wednesday, promising to make address Israel and the West during the celebrations planned to mark Kuntar's release. He did make a brief public appearance, his first since January, and appeared ill at ease. He knows that with every public appearance his life is endangered.

The whole scenario of the prisoner exchange for two coffins was a tragedy and it gave the Hezbollah a reason to celebrate its success. Unfortunately, there was no other way out for Israel in this exchange. Israel’s soft underbelly is its susceptibility to enemy abductions of its soldiers and while there is no effective means at Israel’s disposal to prevent this from occurring in the future, it will remain an effective weapon to extract from Israel a very high price in negotiations for the release of abducted Israeli soldiers whether they are dead or alive.

Tuesday, July 15

The Occupation and the Erosion

The story of the occupation is well known and I have written about it many times in my articles. The euphoria of Israel after the Six Day War of 1967 when it captured the West Bank, Eastern Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights is also well documented. However 41 years of occupation has eroded Israeli society and made many of us aware of many abuses that are occurring because of the “humane” Israeli Army treatment of the Palestinians over the years. Human rights groups (international human rights groups as well as Israeli groups) are providing evidence of human rights abuses regularly.

Israelis have always been proud of the “humaneness” of their army. On closer examination, when the incidents of army abuses and Israeli whitewashing of these incidents become evident, there is not very much of which to be proud.

The time is overripe to come to terms with the fact that the occupation is corrupting Israeli society beyond its limits. Israel claims that it does not wish to colonize another people (the Palestinians) but in practice this is what they are doing. Evidence of this is so widespread that it cannot be denied anymore.

The encouraging of illegal settlements in captured territories is ample proof of Israel’s intentions to colonize the Palestinians and rule over them. The claim of a “humane occupation” is a total paradox. An occupation can never be humane, especially when the intention is to take over Palestinian lands and encourage Israeli settlements. This occurred at the expense of another people. How can one build Israeli settlements ‘humanely” while displacing the Palestinian population and then talk about a “humane occupation”? Naturally this also means expanding existing illegal settlements because of natural population growth, displacing more Palestinians in the process.

It is absurd to believe that Israel has no desire to colonize the Palestinians when in practice the evidence points to the contrary. If this assumption were true, Israel would never have encouraged illegal settlements in territories captured during the Six Day War of June 1967. It should have kept the territories as a bargaining chip that would be returned to the Palestinian people under a peace agreement. It would not have been necessary to uproot a single settler as none would have been there.

Unfortunately, this was not the case, and here both sides must bear the blame for what had happened. The Khartoum Resolutions of 1st September, 1967no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it, and insistence on the rights of the Palestinian people in their own country” was the attitude of the Arab states then. It also resulted in Israel’s attitude towards colonizing the occupied territories by encouraging settlement. The Israeli leadership felt that if this was the Arab attitude, they had the right to annex the territories and encourage Jewish settlement there as there was no partner for peace negotiations after the Six Day War. Time proved that this was a disastrous decision on Israel’s part and resulted in the establishment of illegal settlements and further usurpation of Palestinian lands. The Israeli leadership had made impulsive decisions that had backfired. This also resulted in the subsequent War of Attrition, Yom Kippur War of October 1973, the 1987 Intifada and the more serious 2000 Intifada with its tragic spate of suicide bombings and widespread retaliations resulting in severe bloodshed on both sides.

There is no doubt that the occupation with its illegal settlements has harmed Israel’s stature in the world. Israel holds onto the territories by force. Palestinian human rights in the territories have been curtailed and cases of army abuses against the Palestinian population only aggravate the situation.

The occupation affects everybody, Israelis as well as Palestinians. It affects the Israeli psyche by resulting dehumanizing the Palestinians as a people. Many Israelis view the Palestinians as beasts who are only interested in killing Israelis whenever the opportunity arises. They see the Palestinians as potential terrorists waiting to strike and to destroy Israelis wherever they can.

The Palestinian views the Israeli as a gun toting soldier who is waiting to abuse him and beat him up. Contact between the two peoples on a human level has now reached a minimum and this is a very sad state of affairs. It is almost impossible for Palestinian and Israelis to meet and get to know one another.

Yeshayahu Leibowitz, a professor at Hebrew University and a leading Israeli intellectual--who was also an observant Jew--stated that Israel must immediately withdraw from the occupied territories. He argued that the occupation was unjust and would inevitably lead to the oppression and subjugation of the Palestinians, and to the corruption if not destruction of Israeli society. Until his death in the mid-1990s, he continued to criticize the occupation, using piercing, prophetic language to condemn the immorality of Israeli policies. For years, Leibowitz also averred that if 500 reservist soldiers would simultaneously refuse to serve in the territories, the occupation would end. He also stated that the Israeli Army run the risk of becoming Judeo-Nazis because of the occupation. In order to maintain the occupation, the army has to use force and introduce tough measures against the Palestinian population. This means check posts, humiliating house searches, abuse of power and the destruction and confiscation of Palestinian agricultural land for Jewish settlement. This is a long way from the “humane occupation”.

While the occupation remains unchanged, the chances of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state will never occur. If anything, it brings the reality of a binational state closer to fruition, despite Israeli denials to the contrary. It also does not benefit Israeli society as the occupation becomes more entrenched. It will only exacerbate the hatred between the two peoples even further and Israel stands the chance of becoming an amoral and corrupt society. Signs of this are already occurring in the government as the cruel occupation remains in place despite the cosmetic handshakes at various summit meetings between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership that consists of two very weak and ineffectual leaders weighed down by their own personal problems.

Saturday, July 5

Israel’s Future Survival

Israel is writhing over the exchange of Gilad Shalit, the kidnapped soldier held in Gaza by Hamas. The price is the exchange of Palestinian prisoners “with blood on their hands”. A similar scenario is taking place in the north involving the release of the terrorist, Samir Kuntar, (held for the 1979 murder of Israeli civilians in Nahariya, four Hezbollah fighters captured during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and the remains of dozens of Lebanese buried in Israel), for Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, the two soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah who are feared dead. Israel’s moral fiber is showing signs of cracking.

Now the referral of Israel as a Jewish state, which was understood without undue emphasis, has become an issue that has been bandied about, not only by Israel’s enemies, but also by its supporters. Is this because of atrocities that Israel is carrying out in the occupied territories against the Palestinians? The fact that existing illegal settlements are expanding under the guise of natural population growth creates tremendous hardships for the Palestinians. This means that increasing the number of settlements will result in less land being available for the establishment of a viable Palestinian State alongside Israel. In the end the creation of a Palestinian state will become a myth. This will result in movement towards the establishment of a binational state. Israel cannot have it both ways. It cannot continue the occupation of Palestinian lands captured after the 1967 Six Day June War and at the same time pay lip service to an independent Palestinian state while the occupation expands.

The illegal settlement expansion is continuing under the watchful eye of the Israeli Army. This gives rise to more roadblocks, more humiliating body searches of Palestinians and further difficulties for them. Their agricultural lands will be divided even further to make way for settlement expansion as well as the establishment of more Jewish settlements. In order to maintain this intolerable situation, human rights of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank will be eroded even further. How does this fit in with Israel’s claim of being a moral democratic state emphasizing its Jewishness, and with it, Jewish values? Cracks are appearing in the future survival of Israel as a moral Jewish state.

In an article, “Israel’s Split Psyche” by Prof. Carlo Strenger in Haaretz of 2nd July 2008, many questions are raised. He mentions that the Labor Party MK, Avishay Braverman, who was addressing the Institute of National Security Studies annual State of the Nation conference, made the following statement:

Our education system, once Israel's pride, is in the dumps; public corruption is rampant; our universities are starving to death; and the income gap is almost as bad as Brazil's”.

He wrote that Braverman’s statements “reflect a general malaise that pervades Israel's public mood. For the first time in Israel's history, skepticism about its viability, worries about its public norms, and questions about whether it will still exist in 50 years creep through society and the media. This is puzzling: Israel was in much greater external danger in the past, and its economic and military resources are more developed today than ever before”.

On the one hand, Israel claims to accept and respect the moral principle of universal human rights. On the other hand Israel causes suffering to millions of Palestinians on the West Bank because of the settlements that are expanding not to mention the loss of income and unemployment as a result. This is unjustifiable and yet Israel turns a blind eye. Israeli cries of "There is no partner" or "The roadblocks are needed to prevent terror attacks" or "Look what happened when we left Gaza! We left, and all we get is Qassam attacks!" is a sop to their conscience and in the Israeli view, justifies settlement expansion.

There is no doubt that the settlements in the West Bank have created a situation that has made the lives of the Palestinians intolerable, whether it is check posts, road blocks, or separation fence that divides Palestinian farm lands. Movement for Palestinians in the West Bank is an exercise in resilience and endless suffering - all for the sake of protecting right-wing religious Zionist fanatics, many of whom are ex-patriot US freaks. They build themselves palaces on Palestinian lands while their Palestinian neighbours live in poverty. They are the stimulus for promoting hatred of Israel because of their illegal building habits according to international law.

The settlements in the occupied territories are eroding Israel’s moral fiber and are destroying the idea of the establishment of a future viable Palestinian state. It is not serving Israel’s security interests as it is a catalyst for further Palestinian hate of Israel. The roadblocks, expropriation of Palestinian lands for Israeli settlements increases Palestinian hardships by making travel for them an exercise in endurance. At the same time, Israel builds high class freeways for connecting the various settlements forbids Palestinians from using these freeways. It is no wonder that many Palestinians are convinced that Israel does not want to make peace with them.

If Israel behaves in this way, showing lack of sensitivity towards Palestinian hardships while ensuring the settlers’ good quality of life at Palestinian expense, peace and coexistence between the two peoples will never be achieved.

Israel’s survival as a moral entity in the Middle East can only be assured if the settlements in the West Bank are uprooted and the settlers resettled in Israel. The lands must be returned to the rightful owners – the Palestinian people. This will pave the way for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The alternative is to leave the situation as it is which will result in the demise of Israel and the eventual establishment of a binational state in the future. These are the only two options that Israel has. There is no third option. The settlers will create a situation whereby Israelis become citizens of a binational Israeli-Palestinian state.