Yesterday Lara Friedman at Americans for Peace Now wrote a very pointed and accurate reaction to the fact that once again, on the eve of an important meeting with the US Administration, Israel has announced the expansion of settlements. She writes:
Does this all feel familiar? It should. We’ve seen this movie many times before. Some selected highlights include:
- the announcement, coinciding with Secretary Clinton’s March 2009 visit to Jerusalem, of plans to demolish 80 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem;
- the announcement, coinciding with Special Envoy Mitchell’s meeting with Netanyahu’s envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, in London in November 2009, of plans for massive new construction in Gilo;
- the announcement, coinciding with Vice President Biden’s visit to Jerusalem in March 2010, of plans for massive construction in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo;
- the announcement, coinciding with Netanyahu’s meeting with President Obama in late March 2010, of the issuance of permits to begin settlement construction at the Shepherds Hotel in East Jerusalem;
- the announcement, coinciding with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s meeting with Vice President Biden in New Orleans in November 2010, of the opening of the settlement floodgates in East Jerusalem.
I wrote a post bemoaning this precise issue back in November (re: the last bullet point, above), and have been flogging it mercilessly since yesterday, because, damn it, the post was good and I am just so furious.
So here it is again. (Perhaps the most telling part of this re-up is that I could re-publish the entire post today and the only thing I would have to change to bring it up to date, would be to change the link from the November news story to the current one).
I often feel that I am absolutely out of words on Israel/Palestine. Out. Finished. Done. The well is dry, and the bucket has a hole.
But sweet baby Moses in the bulrushes, if Israel/Palestine doesn’t keep doing the same ol’ do, forcing me to search around in my bag for a little more verbiage. Woe, as they say, is me.
Of course, woe is them. Woe to the people who are constantly living in that absolutely solvable insanity, an insanity that no one has the stomach to solve. The stomach, the fortitude, the valor, the dash, the enterprise — nobody has it, apparently.
With this latest slap in the American Administration’s face (or, as it’s known in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: This latest incident of stealing land from people who have no home), I find myself almost punch-drunk with the ridiculousness of it all. Since about 1995, Israel has done nothing but piss in America’s cornflakes. And yet America seems pretty ok with that!
What does Israel have on us? Did it give America a wedgie once? Does it have pictures of America at an orgy? Has it squirreled away far-reaching evidence of American involvement in extra-judicial deaths and cocaine-fueled jungle battles? What?
Because honestly: Why on earth is the world’s lone remaining superpower continuing to accept blatant abrogation of international agreements to which both it and Israel have affixed their names? Everything from the UN Declaration on Human Rights, to the Oslo Accords, to the Road Map to Peace, to the Condoleezza Rice-brokered border crossing agreement of November 2005 — Israel pitches a fit, demands concession after concession, condition after condition, and then, without so much as a by your leave, does whatever the hell it wants.
Let’s take a gander at these documents, shall we?
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
The economic development programme for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will consist of the following elements:
(1) A Social Rehabilitation Programme, including a Housing and Construction Programme
(2) A Small and Medium Business Development Plan
(3) An Infrastructure Development Programme (water, electricity, transportation and communications, etc)
(4) A Human Resources Plan
(5) Other programmes
Road Map to Peace, “Settlements” (2003):
- GOI [Government of Israel] immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001.
- Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).
Israel will allow 150 truckloads bound for all markets to pass through Karni each day by the year’s end, when a new freight scanner is scheduled to be up and running there. The number of daily truckloads would increase to 400 by the end of 2006.
None of that happened. None of it. (For a particularly stark picture of just what Israel thinks of the UN Declaration on Human Rights, go take a look at the UN’s figures on life in Gaza today). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
And yes, should anyone ask, I am fully aware the Palestinians haven’t been angels, either. But you know what? We Israelis are still the ones with the tanks, the functioning government and economy, and the superpower best friend. With great power (and yes, we’re the powerful party here, not the eternal victims) comes great responsibility — and with massive failure to live up to great responsibility comes massive misery.
As an Israeli, I long to see my country live in peace and security. I long to see all that energy that Israel currently puts toward hatred and fear re-directed toward creativity and growth. In the most selfish terms imaginable: I long for it to be a county in which I would want to live again.
But as an American, I grow weary of my word meaning nothing, my government’s commitments meaningless, my nation’s promises little more than ashes. I grow weary of my tax dollars going endlessly to support not one but two hopeless projects: Israel itself (which will eventually be broken by its refusal to bend) and the peace process (forget how much it cost to send Obama to Asia — how much have we spent on shuttles to Jerusalem?). And yes – I grow weary of being slapped in the face, over and over and over again.
If the Obama Administration really, genuinely values the words its various members keep mouthing about the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people, the urgent need for an authentic peace, and the importance such a peace holds for both Israeli and American security needs — then it needs to step up.
It needs to step up, and step on toes, and risk the wrath of certain quarters of the Israeli and American Jewish public, and stop rolling over every.single.time the Israeli government does everything it can to doom any remaining scrap of hope for a durable peace with the Palestinians. The Administration needs to demand action, and there have to be consequences to inaction.
Heartwarming words do not feed children, or heal wounds, or provide shelter. They do not provide the human and national rights they purport to support. They are just words.
And Israel has already shown how little respect is has for words.