Saturday, June 25

Cheese and Peace

As the hot summer months approach, Israel enters the school vacation period with lethargy, boredom and increased apathy. The biggest worry for parents of young school-going children is what to do with them during the hot, unpleasant, summer months which somehow bakes our brains and dulls the senses.

The Arab uprisings are continuing and the cruel massacres of Syrians opposing the Bashar Assad tyranny goes on unabated creating a horrendous refugee problem as Syrian families flee into Turkey. Over 1500 Syrians have lost their lives. The Syrian opposition opposes Iran and Hezbollah, who are Assad's cruel allies. They want them out of Syria. This is not the case in Gaza. Iran and Hezbollah are arming Hamas, not for the achievement of human rights and democracy in Gaza, but for their own cruel agenda of oppression and colonization of future Palestine under their fanatic influence.

Another hotspot in the uprising is Libya where NATO Forces seem to be embroiled in a situation that is approaching a stalemate as Qaddafi clings to power stubbornly. He continues to abuse his people and suppress them with a cruelty that is beyond description. This is barely mentioned in the Israeli Press.

The main coverage in Israel is the price of local cottage cheese and the corruption in the national soccer clubs of fixing matches and timetables.

What does cottage cheese have to do with peace? At first glance - nothing! However, the cheese prices resulted in a determination amongst the Israeli public to fight the price rise by rallying to the boycott of cottage cheese until the price falls. Naturally, a Face book page was created to increase support for this boycott.

When something of this nature hits the pockets of Israelis they know how to protest and force the government to take action despite the oppressive summer heat.

When it comes to peace negotiations with the Palestinians in order to solve the conflict there is total apathy. Most Israelis are dulled by a sense of apathy. They avoid mention of the subject. There seems to be unawareness in Israel of the Arab uprising in the neighbouring countries. As far as they are concerned, the status quo is wonderful - business as usual - and no sign of any end to the building of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian lands. Both Israelis and Palestinians do not view each other as partners for peace - each side for its own reasons.

Israel's economy is strong, the wealthy are getting wealthier, and the poor are getting poorer. This is all part of "Bibinomics" and lack of concern for Israel's people. This also creeps into decision making as far as peace is concerned. The pandering to the right wing settler movements to maintain coalition support is self-destructive.

If only Israel's citizens would demonstrate their opposition to the right wing government's policy of occupation and expansion with the determination they showed in their opposition to the rising prices of cottage cheese then we would find a partner for peace negotiations with the Palestinians. It is time that both sides lay down their mantras and be serious about achieving a just and lasting peace. This would involve painful concessions on both sides. For Israel it would mean withdrawal to the 1967 pre-June borders with agreed land swaps based on the Obama plan. The Palestinians will have to give up on the right of return of 1948 refugees and be satisfied with financial compensation. Jews who escaped from Arab lands in 1948 must also be compensated for the loss in their property and valuables by the Arab states concerned. Jerusalem must be recognized as the capital of both Israel and Palestine even if it is divided according to demography as agreed upon by both sides. This could be done by division into municipalities responsible for the welfare of both peoples.

It seems unlikely that the Palestinians and Hamas agreements will last. They are already showing signs of disagreement as to having Salam Fayyad as prime minister in an interim government until new elections are held. Hamas is opposed which is hardly surprising. Hamas has no interest in rehabilitating their people. Their strength lies in poverty and ignorance. Progress and democracy as well as Palestinian human rights will sign the death knell of that notorious, merciless group of brigands. They are a branch of Ahmadinajad's hateful regime in Iran.

This now brings me to the "peace flotilla" scheduled to make its way to Gaza. While opposing the Israeli blockade on Gaza for humanitarian reasons, the flotilla strengthens and aids Hamas in Gaza. We must oppose the flotilla for this reason. Hamas is not democratic nor is it concerned with human rights. It is of the same mould of extremism and hate as the evil Iranian regime. Opposition against Hamas is treated cruelly and without mercy! If the "peace flotilla" would oppose Hamas as well as the Israeli blockade on Gaza then it is deserving of support. However, this is not the case. It is also doubtful whether humanitarian aid that it carries will reach those Palestinians in need rather than fall into the hands of Hamas rulers and their ilk. Surely this is a good enough reason to oppose the flotilla! Anyway, it has also fallen out of favour, even with Turkey!

Surely the energies of peacemakers would be better spent in gaining ground root support for ending the occupation and Hamas terror. We need to adopt this two pronged approach in a peaceful fashion. An independent, democratic Palestine with a strong and prosperous economy alongside Israel is in the interests of all peoples of the Middle East and the world community.

It is five years since Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier, was captured by Hamas. The way the various Israeli Governments since 2006 has handled this issue is disgraceful. The suffering of the parents and family of Gilad does not seem to make any impression on the Israeli Government. Meanwhile the price for his release increases all the time. His conditions are intolerable and the Geneva Convention does not seem to be applicable in this case. Nobody knows whether he is alive. He has had no contact with his family for years and seems to have been abandoned by Israel. The excuse - the price is too high for his release! I wonder if Bibi Netanyahu's son or any other member of Israel's high ranking cartels’ sons were in Gilad's situation, he would say the price is too high to release Palestinian prisoners "with blood on their hands" as an exchange. The hypocrisy is shocking. No price is too high for Gilad's release!

Would the people of Israel forgive the Israeli Government if Gilad's life were sacrificed? After all, he was captured in the line of duty for his country and now his country abandons him. All the lip service for Gilad's release coming from Netanyahu's lackeys is meaningless and cynical. Netanyahu can thank his lucky stars that his son is not in Gilad's shoes!

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