Saturday, April 25

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict & Durban 2

This Lieberman has opposed the Anapolis peace process, threatened Israeli Arabs with deportation unless they sign loyalty oaths, and lots more. I guess they should be grateful if they are only to be deported. This from Christopher Schult in Der Spiegle:

His words have the force of cluster bombs. He spares no one. He once proposed executing Arab members of the Knesset with ties to Hamas or Hezbollah as "Nazi collaborators." Later he suggested that Israel should proceed in the Gaza Strip the way Russia did in Chechnya — without consideration for losses or civilians. This remark gained him a reputation as a virulent racist.

If Lieberman had his way, perhaps Tehran would have been obliterated as a punishment for Iran's refusal to shut down its nuclear program. Years ago he threatened EgyptIsrael's key ally in the Arab world — with the bombardment of the Aswan Dam unless the regime withdrew support for then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat. He also had one of his typical remarks at the ready for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. It was about time the president paid a visit to Jerusalem, Lieberman said, "and if he doesn't want to come, he can go to hell."

Durban 2 has come and gone. It is an absolute disgrace that a conference dedicated to anti-racism under the auspices of the UN has invited President Ahmadinajad of Iran to address this forum.

The Iranian dictator is no human rights paragon of virtue. He is a racist anti-Semite of the worst kind. The paradox of it all is that this holocaust denier uses this platform on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day to expound his hate for Jews and the West. Is this what the Durban 2 anti-racism conference all about? Is this a forum for those who expound racism of the worst kind? It is a disgrace that Ahmadinajad was given a platform here. His sentiments are abominable, divisive and illogical.

It is no exaggeration to say that this unsavory personality is in the same league as Hitler of Nazi Germany, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Pol Pot regime of Cambodia, and Osama bin Laden of Al Qaeda. He is a macabre mix of them all.

Despite this, he was given V.I.P. treatment by his Swiss hosts. Perhaps this is not surprising as Switzerland had always been neutral in all world conflicts. This country that prides itself in spineless neutrality, adopted an indifferent stance towards the Hitler Nazi regime and preferred expediency to ruthless dictators, chose to remain indifferent to Nazi murders of innocent people and anti-Semitism. In view of Switzerland’s history, Swiss tolerance for the Iranian dictator is not surprising.

Much press hype had surrounded Durban 2. It is as if it all hinged on the whims of the Iranian dictator. On his return to Teheran, he continued to call Israel a racist state involved in "ethnic cleansing" and "brutal acts" against the Palestinians. It is a matter of the pot calling the kettle black as usual. What a disgusting hypocrite he is! The outcome of Durban 2, unfortunately, was inconclusive. No great resolutions condemning racism or human rights abuse were passed.

After the Ahmadinajad show, Durban 2 ceased to be press headlines. Another opportunity to unite the world in a worthy cause against racism and human rights abuses had been scuttled. The demonstrations against Israel after the hateful speech were a disgrace. It was so blunt and pointless. Apart from that, those who demonstrated against Israel were those who were racists and human rights abusers themselves. Those who supported Ahmadinajad were a mix of extreme left wing pseudo-communists and right wing fascists - the lunatic fringe of society - who have one thing in common - support for repressive regimes and bashing Israel.

Ahmadinajad is not an upholder of human rights by any stretch of the imagination. The crushing of the opposition to his regime in Iran is very evident. Ahmadinajad does not care for the Palestinians least of all their right to a Palestinian state. He uses their cause cynically to further his own evil interests in the Middle East. He is a strategic threat to all peoples in the Middle East and is interested in dominating the Middle East and his pseudo-support of the Palestinians is nothing but empty rhetoric. If he really cared about the freedom and wellbeing of the Palestinian people then he would not be developing nuclear weapons. The Palestinian people are under threat of nuclear proliferation no less than Israel and the rest of the Middle East. It happens to serve his selfish interests of domination of the Middle East.

Perhaps the EU outcry as illustrated by the walk out of 23 delegates against Ahmadinajad’s speech does present some sanity over the completely pathetic scenario witnessed.

So many words wasted on the shocking speech that important issues of racism and human rights abuses were left on the backburner.

The issues of human rights abuses in Darfur, Sudan, the massacres and torture under the despot Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe were not mentioned. What about Cuba and China, Hamas in Gaza, the Taliban in Afghanistan that is a serious threat to Pakistan where kangaroo courts make rapid and cruel decisions against those who oppose their ruling regimes? This very often ends in death sentences. A deathly silence pervaded Durban 2 when it comes to racism and human rights abuses by these regimes. There was no mention or condemnation of the xenophobia in South Africa towards refugees infiltrating South Africa from Mugabe's Zimbabwe? Silence on these serious human rights abuses was very evident. Many of the delegates were so involved in Israel bashing that no thought or time was left for other racial issues which were no less tragic.

Israel is not above criticism for its treatment of Palestinians under occupation. The recent Gaza War had taken its toll on many innocent Palestinian civilians. The truth what happened in Gaza has not been revealed in its entirety and many questions about human rights violations by Hamas and by Israel remain unanswered. The maintenance of the Israeli occupation and illegal settlers' abuses of Palestinians in the territories need to be discussed as well and condemned. However this must be in proportion. While there is no denying that the Israeli Army treats Palestinians harshly and there have been human rights violations, it is far from "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing". Overuse has been made of the words "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing" to describe abuses of innocent people in the wrong context. Israel has no policy of exterminating Palestinians and does not indulge in it. This must be emphasized! Discussion of Israel's human rights record and treatment of the Palestinians which is open to severe criticism should not be given priority over human rights abuses in other parts of the world which is far worse, including Iran.

It is shameful that the UN was the sponsor of this charade which did not deal with the tragic issues of racism and became a mouthpiece for Ahmadinajad and his ilk to spew hate and division.

The fact that the UN saw fit to invite Ahmadinajad is shameful!

Credit goes to those countries that boycotted the conference. It came as no surprise that the Ahmadinajad speech was a cover for the human rights abuses in his own country.

I wish to end my article by quoting from a Gush Shalom advert in Haaretz 24th April 2009:

"The President of Iran,

Who has built a career

On incitement and appeal

To the basest instincts,

Made a speech at the

Conference against racism.

And who cried

'Scandal! Anti-Semitism'?

Our Foreign Minister,

Who himself had built a career

On incitement and appeal

To the basest instincts".

The Israeli Foreign Minister and the Iranian President seem to share a common racist tongue.

Saturday, April 18

The Right Wing Coalition

The people of Israel have very little to be proud in the cobbling together of this right wing coalition with the Labor Party under Ehud Barak as playing a pivotal role. Labor has sold out to the right and destroyed the last vestiges of left wing Zionism to Netanyahu's occupation prolongation policies.

Ehud Barak, who was viewed as leader of the left wing block, cannot be seen as such any longer. He has chosen to bring his party into Netanyahu's right wing coalition without any thought for the few who supported Labor with him as leader. Barak is concerned with his own political ambitions even if it means compromising on the two-state solution. He has betrayed his supporters. He now serves as Defense Minister in this government.

Netanyahu has made it clear to all that he is opposed to the two-state solution. His coalition partner, the anti-Arab racist, Avigdor Lieberman, the new Foreign Minister, will be very negative for Israel. Obama supports a two-state solution and the Annapolis agreement of his predecessor. Lieberman's appointment as Foreign Minister is further proof that Israel's intentions of reaching an agreement with the Palestinians and the Arab World are not sincere. He antagonized the US and even Egypt.

The ramifications of this are more serious than what one would like to believe. The European nations as well as the rest of the world support a two-state solution to the conflict. Anything less than that would mean a continuation of the occupation and further expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank (known as Judea and Samaria by right wing, religious Zionists).

The right wing coalition under Netanyahu will lead to retrogression and it will turn Israel into a colonizing power in charge of the old South African-style "apartheid Bantustan" Palestinian reserve headed by a Palestinian puppet leadership propped up by Israel.

There are Zionist organizations that cry out to the world that Israel wants peace, has sacrificed its sons in war to achieve this. Military cemeteries are filled with thousands of loved ones whose lives were cut short by wars and terrorism. The importance of striving for peace has been Israel's hot pursuit for more than 60 years.

This is true but the Israeli occupation of territory since June 1967 has eroded this goal. The encouragement of settlement in the occupied territories has turned the goal of peace into a farce. Israel under its various leaders has often stated that it does not intend to rule over another people.

In practice, the opposite is true. Surely, if Israel encourages the establishment of settlements in occupied territories inhabited by Palestinians, then its desire to rule over the Palestinians is its aim. Occupation is subjugation of another people despite Israel’s claim to the contrary. Establishment of settlements is not made in order to uproot them. They are made permanently!

Netanyanu will ensure that no settlements are uprooted. His policies are towards peace with occupation. He desires a “pseudo-vassal" Palestinian entity including Jewish settlements of mainly right wing religious Zionist zealots. He has promised to improve these "Palestinianstans" economically. This somehow does resemble apartheid South Africa's Bantustan policy of 1950's 60's, 70's and 80’s. He will give them autonomy but no real power. Improvement of Palestinian conditions under occupation will not happen. The white apartheid government also promised improvements to the Blacks in their own areas but their situation got progressively worse until apartheid ended.

If the Netanyahu Government rejects the two-state solution or the Saudi initiative of 2002, which has many positive elements and is worth considering or another chance for peace will once again be scuttled. Surely full recognition of Israel as envisaged in the Saudi Plan is desirable and positive. This would mean Israel's withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 war, establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital and a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem. This is supported by most moderate Arab States in the region including Jordan's King Abdullah, and possibly the US.

The rejectionist attitudes of the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak Government will move the conflict towards a bi-national state solution. This means that Israel will continue to remain an occupying power as the bi-national state solution will not be in the direction of democracy but in the domination of Palestinians by Israelis.

The Durban 2 Conference is about to take off in Geneva from 20th – 24th April 2009. This so called conference against racism is hypocritical and can be viewed as the greatest racist hype in town. Its declarations will be anti-Israel and the racism and abuse of human rights by those countries hosting this “shindig” will be overlooked. The most reactionary darkest regimes with a poor human rights record will be taking centre stage.

Condemnation of racist regimes that oppress their people will be conspicuous by the lack of condemnation.

Paragon model states – “true democratic states” such as Iran, Mugabe's Zimbabwe, Darfur, as well as other paragons of human virtue will be taking part. Issues concerning human rights abuses and genocide in these countries will not even be discussed. The New York Daily News described the politically charged conference as a "snow job."

The UN's idea of an anti-racism conference entered the final stretch yesterday with the planning committee deciding Iran ought to preside as a vice-chair, Libya will serve as the chair of the "Main Committee" running the conference and that Cuba will be the "rapporteur." All three human rights paragons will assume their new duties on the first day of "Durban II" set for Monday, April 20.

No doubt there will also be many "democratic states" in the Arab World taking part. While Israel's record of abusing Palestinian rights warrants severe criticism and condemnation, so does the human rights record of the hosting states leaves much to be desired no less. The human rights abuses, kangaroo courts of those countries participating will not even be an issue for debate. Instead, there will be a unanimous resolution, one sided in its context that will get support for condemning Israel.

If Durban 2 will be a true forum condemning racism and human rights abuses wherever it occurs, then this conference will have a positive role. However, it will be an anti-Israel tirade exclusively.

There is no doubt that Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands as mentioned earlier in this article puts Israel in the position of being an occupying power and weakens its credibility as a state seeking peace with its Arab neighbours including the Palestinians. Using Israel as a scapegoat to cover up the racism and human rights abuses of many of the participating countries is no less abominable. It shows lack of decent judgment and morality.

As repugnant as the present Israeli Government is, it is not in the same class as Iran's Ahmadinajad, Zimbabwe's Mugabe or Lebanon's Nasrallah whose record of human rights abuses and racism will be conveniently overlooked at Durban 2.

Those countries that value human rights and are against racism in all its forms should boycott this cynical conference.