Saturday, September 27

Rosh Hashanah and Some Thoughts

As the New Year approaches, it is customary for many of us to take stock of our situation. This is done on a personal level as well as on a national level. Individuals make New Year resolutions which are forgotten once the holiday spirit subsides. Here in Israel, the holiday spirit is very often non-existent because of the stress of family obligations and in the case of many married couples there is an argument as to where the first night will be spent – at which in-laws. The stress of cooking and hosting is the order of the day and for those who are non-observant, it is a trial of nerves.

When we think of what was achieved over the past year from a national point of view, there are many disappointments. The peace process is stumbling and there does not seem to be light at the end of the dark tunnel. The incumbent prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has resigned because of suspicions of corruption contained in envelopes of money that were given to him by a wealthy businessman (or philanthropist – make your choice) Morris Talansky. The new leader of the Kadima Party, Tzippi Livni, has been given the task of forming a new government and replacing Olmert as prime minister. The Likud is waiting in the shadows for an opportunity with Bibi Netanyahu to trip her up so that new elections will be declared which means a certain victory for him and his party.

While we dip our apple slices in honey and eat until satiation, will there be many of us giving a thought to the plight of the Palestinians under the “humane occupation”? The abuse of Palestinians by the settlers in the territories over the years has somehow escaped the attention of the Israeli authorities. This definition of “humane occupation” is a contradiction. NO OCCUPATION IS HUMANE! This is an archaic Zionist concept and the proof of this is the behaviour of the illegal settlers and the soldiers at the check posts towards the Palestinians carrying on their daily lives.

The settler violence against innocent Palestinians is despicable. The perpetrators of this violence are right wing Zionist Zealots who go about stoning Palestinians and destroying their crops whenever they have a chance. Most of these settlers see the legitimization in violence against Palestinians in their Judaism! The settlers have no right in settling on Palestinian lands under the “humane occupation” and taking the law into their own hands. They build illegal settlements on Palestinian lands and expect the Palestinian population to accept them.

This week we witnessed President Shimon Peres Speech to the UN General Assembly. It was a great speech and filled with much logic and sincerity as to Israel’s desire for peace. History will judge it one of President Peres’ greatest speeches. The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinajad, gave a speech to the UN General Assembly filled with racism and anybody reading into his address can see that this dictator is no democrat or a man of peace. The world’s attitude towards Ahmadinajad is one of appeasement. He should never have been given a platform to sprout his evil words of hate to the world.

Having mentioned this, I think that we should also view Israel – not only within the context of Shimon Peres’ speech but also in the reality on the ground – the “humane occupation” where there is abuse of basic human rights of the Palestinians. These abuses do carry on and not much is reported. The crimes of the right wing Zionist, religious settlers are very often overlooked and they are not held accountable for their harassment of Palestinians. While Israel is overlooking all these incidents and hardly any settler has been charged for these criminal acts, Israel’s position in the world as a “democratic state – a light to the nations” is weakened.

Even during negotiations on an agreement with the Palestinians, there is no freezing of settlements in the occupied territories in practice – only in theory. It is truly Israel’s “phony freeze of settlements” policy. This makes a great dent in Israel’s credibility because it gives the Jewish settlers in occupied lands the right to be above the law and they know it.

The illegal settlers in the territories are a cancer in Israeli society. Their behaviour is abominable and their violence spreads even within the green line as witnessed about two days ago when an attempt was made to murder Professor Ze’ev Sternhell. This internationally renowned expert on fascist movements in Europe, a Holocaust survivor whose entire family was murdered by the Nazis, was not another victim of some "wild weed," but of Jewish fascism itself, which continues to extend its roots. The criminals who set the pipe bomb outside Sternhell's home come from the same "garden" as Yona Avrushmi, the murderer of Peace Now's Emil Grunzweig; Baruch Goldstein, responsible for the massacre in the Machpela Cave; Yigal Amir, the murderer of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin; and the West Bank outpost hooligans, who abuse both Palestinians and the security forces. If Yigal Amir was granted the right to couple with his wife in a prison cell and have a child, this adds legitimacy to his ilk that sees him as a hero. Are these values becoming part of Israel? If so it is not surprising that those who oppose the occupation are doing so at their own risk.

"The attempt to hurt Professor Sternhell is the result of the lenient attitude and weakness of the law enforcement agencies towards the extremist and fascist Right and the settlers in the Palestinian occupied territories" said a Communist Party of Israel declaration following the attack. And more: "This thuggish, dangerous act is the result of closing our eyes to the violence against Palestinians, peace and Left activists and all those who disagree with the thugs of the extremist Right. Don't talk to us about 'fringe groups,' this is a growing phenomenon in the Right and the police must take care of it". It is dreaming if we expect the police to take care of these targeted actions aimed at those opposing the occupation and coexistence with our Palestinian neighbours.

Fliers were found in the streets near Sternhell's home promising a reward of 1.1 million shekels to anyone who kills a member of Peace Now. "The time has come for a state according to the Jewish Law in Judea and Samaria! The time has come for the Kingdom of Judea!" declared the fliers. This is how the settlers think and those on the right wing spectrum of Israeli politics who condemn this Jewish terrorism really have the same ideology in soft serve.

If the occupation remains legitimate as it does today, all those who oppose it and wish to have peace with the Palestinians are on the firing line of the right wing extremists. This endangers Israel’s democracy and must be condemned.

As Rosh Hashanah approaches, we need to reaffirm our belief in peace and coexistence with our Palestinian neighbours. We must condemn the settler movement that stones Palestinians and usurps their lands. Only if we do this can we eat our apples dipped in honey with satisfaction and with hope for a better world for all in the coming year.

1 comment:

Edgar said...

Hello. My name is Edgar and I'm an editor at OpposingViews.com, the debate website. Since we both cover the Middle East, I thought I'd drop you a note. I would've e-mailed you but I couldn't find an address.
See, we're currently having a discussion about whether or not democracy can thrive in the Middle East. You can see it here:
http://www.opposingviews.com/questions/can-democracy-thrive-in-the-middle-east
Although vetted experts are the ones doing the debating, anyone can contribute by choosing a side and posting comments about the experts' arguments.
Check it out and, if you have the time, let me know what you think at eacosta@opposingviews.com
Thanks!