Thursday, September 29, 2011

The US-Israeli no-win solution

President Obama performed beyond the expectations of his supporters; like a faithful wind-up toy. ‘Tis the season to be afraid of the reach and retribution of the Israeli lobby; after all the presidential election is right around the corner. Jewish writers have pointed out that Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, could not have done better. And like the consummate politician, Obama is counting on public memory to be ultra-short and forget his famous Cairo speech and others of the same content, in which he spoke convincingly of a two-state solution in the Middle East. Maybe he doesn’t expect the world to forget, as long as he’s re-elected, for integrity and justice don’t hold the key to victory; AIPAC, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, does. Obama threatened to veto the bid for Palestinian statehood if it came to the UN Security Council.

America worked feverishly to prevent Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ presentation of the statehood bid to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, with threats of aid cuts and more taxes by Israel.

In his speech afterward to the UN General Assembly, Mahmoud Abbas got a hero’s welcome. Repeated applause and wolf-whistles permeated the otherwise formal air, crowned with a standing ovation when he referenced a copy of the statehood bid. The American delegation looked grim and uncomfortable.

After Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to an eerily silent hall and called the UN a “theater of the absurd”. The Israeli delegation tried hard to applaud loudly, but had a solo run.

That only the United States, Canada, Israel and Botswana were against and 189 countries for Palestinian statehood, matters little to a self-steeped sole super-power and the always-arrogant Netanyahu.

Obama parroted Netanyahu in demanding that the Palestinians negotiate with Israel instead of going to the UN for a statehood bid. In protesting to him, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan read back to Obama, Obama’s own address to the UN a year previously in which he spoke of Palestinian statehood.

Negotiations between Israel and Palestine had broken off in 2010 as Jewish settlements had continued. Netanyahu’s demand now is that Israel be recognized by the Palestinians. The fact that in a two-state solution recognition is implicit shows the mala-fide that this is based on.

Mahmoud Abbas got a wonderful welcome on his return to Palestine even though some do not subscribe to the two-state solution and Hamas felt that the 1967 borders were not the acceptable bargaining limits. BDS or Boycott, Divest and Sanctions is a campaign that began in 2005 against Israel’s apartheid. It aims for a one-state solution in which Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel have full equality, ending of the occupation of all Arab land and dismantling of the Wall, and promoting the return of Palestinian refugees as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

It is not just the hegemony of Zionism but the steadily changing demographics in Israel that seriously threaten it, that make BDS more of a pipe-dream than ever. ABC’s Ben Knight in an article “Make no mistake, Israel’s existence is under threat” writes of how secular Jews pay taxes, serve in the army and have an average of two children per couple, while the ultra-orthodox don’t pay taxes, don’t defend Israel and have an average of eight children per couple. Ben Knight reports that there are three types of state-funded schools in Israel: regular schools, Arab-Israeli schools and ultra-orthodox religious schools. In 1960, Knight writes, only around 15 per cent of Israeli children were enrolled in religious or Arab schools. That figure is now around 50 per cent. In 30 years, it will be almost 80 per cent. That is a frightening statistic for the nation of Israel, he says.

Additionally, Ben Knight reports that the ultra-orthodox study the Bible all day, every day; no math or science. Funny that the report that some madrassahs in Pakistan do not teach math and science causes the West to go into self-righteous convulsions.

Ben Knight sums it up thus: “if the figures are to be believed, in less than 30 years, Israel will have a population where the majority either can't, or won't join the workforce – putting an increasing, and impossible burden on the secular minority to pay the taxes and serve in the army.” Knight claims that the Palestinian issue aside, “Israel's demographic time bomb is still ticking away.”

However much of a blind eye the Israeli government may have turned to this ticking demographic time bomb, it is entirely impossible that it will entertain a one-state solution.

However divided the opinion maybe regarding the best solution for the Palestinians, this much crystallized in the recent UN General Assembly session. That America’s first black president disrespected the blood, sweat and tears of his people, just sixty years ago, and unleashed apartheid on another. Though isolated, arrogant and blatantly unjust, Israel and its Zionist diaspora hold US presidential hopefuls, congressmen, politicians and the media in a death grip. That the Palestinians don’t get statehood or equal rights within the state of Israel; it is the typical heads I win, tails you lose philosophy.

A nation that was dehumanized by a Christian army in the horrors of the Holocaust, routinely murders and maims with American taxpayer funded Apache helicopters and Caterpillar bulldozers. No one “negotiated” with the Palestinians when they walked into their land and took it as their own. With the pathetic Republican presidential candidates on offer, Obama might win a second term. On the backs of Palestinians, not that he could care.

One day, some day there will be a land for the Palestinians. It takes time and wreaks havoc on the way, but justice like inevitability, surfaces.

Mahjabeen Islam is an addictionist, family physician and columnist. She can be reached at