Again Disgusted

I just and just managed to express my disgust about the recent transformation of Nils Torvalds into an obedient follower of the US political line before (on Sö 27.07.2014) Yrsa Grüne managed to upset my physical well-being with a ledare in Hbl which was titled ”I dimridåernas landskap”.

The message of the ledare was given in the two sentences ”Det verkar uppenbart att Israel inte längre vill ha en tvåstatslösning. Då blir det helt enkelt omöjligt.” And she does not stand alone with such an opinion. Also Nils Torvalds ”sade … att man borde spola hela tvåstatsidén” (which was also mentioned by him in the piece which caused my first attack of disgust).

Jaha, and how then? The occupation of the West Bank with the permanent and systematic trakasseri of the Palestinians there should simply go on, same as the blockade of Gaza (with Israel drawing up long lists which, e.g., spices for cooking are not allowed to enter the area)? Well, seemingly anyway according to Nils Torvalds and Yrsa Grüne. And it is after all only Palestinians who are supposed to put up with these conditions …

Well yes, we can agree that Israel does not want a Palestinian state (any attentive reader of the papers knows that since years), but to take that as THE reason why one should simply accept things as they are now – and this without even one mentioning of the USA in the whole ledare, nor any own suggestion what should/could be done now, that demands a simply neurotic degree of submission to the pro-US (and seemingly also pro-Israel) line which is at the moment prevailing in the SFP.

If somebody less neurotic would switch her/his head on about the situation, what could possibly be done? The situation seems to be that Israel does not want a Palestinian state, and that the Palestinian government can, politically, not afford to accept conditions which could possibly make the idea still acceptable to any present or future Israeli government. Thus, one has to ”help” the involved governments to develop a taste for a solution – i.e. PRESSURE is called for. Up to now Israel can rely that it will be supported in ANYthing by ANY US government (and never mind Obama’s Peace Nobel Prize …) – which means that the Israeli government has no reason whatsoever why it should agree to a Palestinian state.

Thus, it is obvious that the USA (and the EU) should withhold the present support for Israel plus threaten a diplomatic and economical boycott, i.e. they should IMPOSE a settlement. Israel will of course complain loudly (and perhaps even Palestine), but there is hope that the citizens of both states could learn to appreciate a state of peace so well that they will gradually develop some motivation to keep up the imposed state of affairs on their own account.

And what could the imposed state of affairs be? Well, I am afraid that the wall between Israel proper and the West Bank will have to remain (there is too much motivation around for cross-border incidents). But Palestine could be compensated for the land which Israel stole by the wall, e.g. by a corridor between the West Bank and Gaza (where traffic lanes which are important for Israel have to be crossed, the Palestinian lines could go in a tunnel) – this way Palestine could get a harbour in the Mediterranian plus access to a Gaza airport. The same corridor could also serve as a land connection to unite the whole Islamic World (which is at the moment cut in two by Israel). A tunnel could also secure Palestinian access to East Jerusalem. Of the Israeli settlements on the West Bank the smaller ones would have to be evacuated, while a few larger ones could perhaps remain, though cut off from the area around (so that devout Zionists can perhaps spend their retirement on soil which they consider sacred, but are hindered from doing damage to their Palestinian neighbours) and connected to Israel by roads which are separated from Palestinian territory (which means that one party in this will have to use tunnels at least occasionally).

Previous agreements about the distribution of the Jordan’s water should be scrapped and decided anew by a panel of (agricultural and similar) experts. – One wants, after all, two viable states …

Israel will of couse be allowed to keep its ”Iron Dome” system as a defence against possible rockets from Gaza, but the retaliation against such rockets should perhaps begin with charging the Palestinian state for the expenses for the rockets which are being used up in the protection of Israel against the Hamas rockets.

This imposed state of affairs has of course to be guaranteed by UN troops (who should be equipped with, among others, large numbers of ”drönare” for constant, close supervision of the whole area). One question is of course from where to get troops who can be trusted to be sufficiently impartial (and at the same time willing and able to shoot – which will surely be necessary on occasion). US and British troops are out of the question, same as German or Arabic troops, so that one may have to consider Scandinavian troops (considering the attitude of the present Scandinavian governments even they are doubtful, but, having some experience with peace keeping in the area, they may be useful as instructors) and as the bulk of the troops some from the Far East, i.e. Japanese/Korean/Chinese troops.

Finally, one important job of the UN troops would be (a little bit different from Western ideas concerning ”religious freedom”) to keep some check on the preachers in the area and eliminate those who might be preaching too loudly against the imposed peace – not by shooting them but by locking them up in something like comfortable psychiatric, closed care (where they would be allowed to get on each other’s nerves, but not cause political trouble). – The control of preachers is an old Chinese tradition which I at least think indeed wise. That people should be provided with the Koran in a language which they understand well could also be helpful (the Koran’s main message is one of moderation, which should be all to the good …).

So far some suggestions which could/should have come from those who were so easily agreeing that Israel does not want a Palestinian state and taking that as a sufficient reason why there should not be one – but well, what can one expect from representatives of a SFP line … . Anyway I do hope that the above suggestions could give rise to some further ideas, at least in the heads of less prejudiced people.

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2 Responses to Again Disgusted

  1. Jag läste inte alls Yrsa Grünes ledare i Hbl som ”disgusting”, tvärtom var jag glad att hon tar Gaza-massakern på allvar och lägger fram fakta, i stället för att som en del andra fortsätta odla dimridån om en fredsprocess. Ledaren var glädjande i synnerhet som kontrast till den kritiklösa Israel-lobbyn i Hbl:s insändarspalt (mestadels bestående av extrema högerkristna) och den har också genast angripits av nämnda lobby (söndagens hbl). Men jag uppskattar att Ernst Mecke här ovanför funderar över konkreta steg för att komma vidare. Den allt överskuggande frågan är ändå (som han också skriver) USA:s villkorslösa stöd till sin ”proxy” Israel, ett stöd som är ungefär lika svårt att stoppa som Vietnamkriget, men möjligen kan det naggas i kanten om bojkottrörelsen fortsätter öka också i USA. Här en länk där Noam Chomsky jämför med hur bojkotten av Sydafrika till sist fick effekt, tyvärr först efter 20-30 år: http://www.outlookindia.com/article/The-South-African-Example-Is-Instructive/291477

  2. Klistrar här in en artikel om bojkottrörelsen ur Le Monde Diplomatiques juni-nummer – hela artikeln, eftersom den bara är tillgänglig för prenumeranter.

    The power to shun

    The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign is, after a decade, persuading major economic forces and public figures to withdraw from investments or appearances in Israel as long as it denies Palestinian rights.
    by Julien Salingue

    Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s choice of topics for his speech at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC; the leading pro-Israel lobby in the US) in March last year was the usual — Israel’s security, Syria, Iran’s nuclear programme, demands concerning Palestinian negotiators. But among these was a new theme: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), the international campaign against Israeli policies. Netanyahu devoted a quarter of his speech to it.

    The campaign, launched in July 2005 by 172 Palestinian civil society organisations (1), calls for “non-violent punitive measures … until Israel meets its obligation to recognise the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law” (2). These measures include boycotts of Israel’s economy and institutions, the withdrawal of foreign investment and sanctions against the state and its leaders.

    Netanyahu told the conference: “BDS sets back peace because it hardens Palestinian positions and it makes mutual compromise less likely.” As well as criticising the principles and objectives of the campaign, he denied its effectiveness, insisting that it would not affect Israel’s prosperity.

    The contradiction between its central place in his speech and his assertion of its ineffectiveness is summed up in his statement that “the fact that they’re going to fail doesn’t mean that the BDS movement shouldn’t be vigorously opposed.”Netanyahu was effectively recognising the paradox facing Israeli officials: admitting that BDS affects Israel would encourage its architects; ignoring it would leave the field open to them.

    Unprecedented success

    Supporters and opponents of BDS agree that the movement has recently enjoyed unhoped-for successes. US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned that Israel could find itself isolated if the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed, and during the Munich Security Conference in February commented: “For Israel there’s an increasing delegitimisation campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things.” This drew criticism from Israel, and even the (erroneous) accusation that Kerry was supporting the boycott and using BDS to pressure the Israeli government into accepting an unfavourable agreement.

    The US’s concern comes from BDS’s recent victories. In January, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the biggest in the world with assets of $864bn (3), blacklisted two Israeli companies — Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus — over their involvement in the building of settlements in Jerusalem. A few weeks earlier PGGM, one of the Netherlands’ biggest pension funds with assets of $206bn, had withdrawn investments with a total estimated value of several tens of millions of euros from five Israeli banks, on the same grounds. Also in January, the German government announced that in future it would only subsidise Israeli hi-tech enterprises that were not based in East Jerusalem or West Bank settlements.

    These examples illustrate BDS’s progress in divestment. The campaign has recently won substantial victories in the academic and institutional world. In April 2013 the Teachers Union of Ireland adopted a resolution in support of BDS, calling Israel an “apartheid state”. In May 2013 astrophysicist Stephen Hawking announced his withdrawal from a conference in Israel. This February a poll of members of the US-based American Studies Association approved by a 66% majority a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel.

    Omar Barghouthi, a Palestinian co-founder of the movement, believes these successes count just as much as, if not more than, those on the economic front: “The impact of this institutional boycott in mainstream academic bodies, like the American Studies Association, goes well beyond academia, turning BDS into a mainstream subject of debate in the media” (4).

    The SodaStream affair

    But the SodaStream affair has most clearly shown the growth of BDS. The Israeli company makes drinks carbonation machines in the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem. The BDS movement has long criticised SodaStream. In January 2011 the Israeli association Who Profits, which studies companies in the occupied Palestinian territories, published a damning report on its exploitation of Palestinian resources and labour. A number of groups involved in BDS have targeted SodaStream machines and their distributors, such as Darty in France.

    SodaStream recently hired actress Scarlett Johansson to film a television advertisement, shown during the 2014 Super Bowl on 2 February. By then the ad had already been targeted by BDS campaigners, who produced a parody clip criticising Johansson’s effective endorsement of settlement. BDS also made a direct appeal to Oxfam, which is active in the territories, and for which Johansson had been an ambassador since 2007. Oxfam announced on 30 January: “While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador. … Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law” (5).

    The affair triggered developments in France, too. Artists participating in this year’s Angoulême International Comics Festival learned from BDS that SodaStream was an official sponsor. In an open letter published on 31 January, over 100, including a dozen former prizewinners, said they were “surprised, disappointed and angry to find out that SodaStream is an official sponsor,” and asking the organisers to “cut all ties between the Festival and this shameful company.” Comic artist Jacques Tardi and singer Dominique Grange felt they had been “taken hostage by those who run [the Festival] and have not felt it necessary to inform us that this year’s event was partly funded by a company based in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and endorsing the settlement policy of the State of Israel, the Gaza blockade and recurring human rights violations of the Palestinian people.”

    The SodaStream affair reveals the limitations, and contradictions, of Israel’s strategy for dealing with BDS. No matter what Netanyahu tells AIPAC, the Israeli authorities see BDS as a “strategic threat”. In June 2013 Netanyahu called a meeting on BDS, and gave responsibility for combating the movement he describes as “about making Israel illegitimate” to his strategic affairs minister Yuval Steinitz, who coordinates Israel’s security, intelligence and diplomatic services.

    A strategy that backfires

    The assignment of this new responsibility to a ministry known for its destabilisation and “re-information” (or “disinformation”) operations, shows how seriously Israel is taking BDS. But is the strategy effective? Fighting BDS while pretending to ignore it is a strategy that tends to backfire. From the SodaStream ad campaign to the sponsorship of cultural initiatives and invitations to intellectuals and artists, Israel’s strategy can be seen as an attempt to whitewash settlement and colonisation. But the end result is often greater indignation among those who have until now remained relatively, or entirely, un-mobilised.

    Tzipi Livni, Israel’s justice minister, has said Israelis are living in a bubble — “an entire country that is disconnected from the international reality. … The boycott is moving and advancing uniformly and exponentially. Those who don’t want to see it will end up feeling it” (6). The weakness of Israel’s strategy is that it is based almost entirely on ideology and rhetoric, and overlooks Israel’s obstinate refusal to compromise with the Palestinians.

    BDS’s recent successes are not due solely to the activism and rhetoric of the campaigners, important though these are. The movement feeds on the reality of Israeli policies: from the bombing of Gaza in 2008-09 to settlement building in the occupied territories, the blockade of Gaza and the attack on the Freedom Flotilla in May 2010.

    Thanks to the BDS campaign, the movement of solidarity with the Palestinian cause is reaching the middle and even the higher echelons of some institutions. This dynamic is a sign of growing indignation at Israel’s policies, and it will not be defeated by “de-demonising” Israel. Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell explained: “Trampling the rights of the Palestinians in the name of our exclusive right to the country, and by dint of a divine decree, is an ineradicable stain on Jewish history. Anyone who becomes entrenched in these views will end up bringing about the international ostracism of all of Israel, and if that happens, it won’t be anti-Semitism” (7).

    Julien Salingue is a political scientist.

    (1) See Willy Jackson, “Economic retaliation against Tel Aviv”, Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, September 2009.

    (2) See the full text of the appeal at http://www.bdsmovement.net/call

    (3) The fund is managed by Norway’s central bank and is fed by oil revenues and investments abroad : http://www.regjeringen.no

    (4) Jan Walvaren, “BDS is on the rise”, Palestine Monitor, 24 February 2014.

    (5) Oxfam, “Oxfam accepts resignation of Scarlett Johansson”, 30 January 2014.

    (6) “Livni: We’re living in bubble, disconnected from world”, Ynetnews.com, 30 December 2013.

    (7) Zeev Sternhell, “A boycott is not anti-Semitic”, Haaretz, 14 January 2014.

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