21 September 2011

Palestine and the democracy of nations

A cognitive dissonance divides the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel, on one side, from a likely majority of the world's nations on the subject of the Palestinian Authority's expected petition for recognition from the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Americans and Israelis denounce the petition as a "shortcut to peace," the President arguing that the UN resolution will be no substitute for substantive negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. As far as I know, no proponent of the resolution sees it as that. Practically speaking, the vote, if it happens, will enact no more than the moral sense of the General Assembly that Palestine is rightfully a sovereign entity. To my knowledge, it in no way compels Israel to make peace with the Authority. Yet American Arabophobes and Islamophobes -- bigots, in short -- treat the resolution as if it would delegitimize Israel, while the Obama administration's objections betray a belief even among purportedly non-bigoted Americans in power that not just peace, but Palestinian national existence is subject to Israeli approval. No one is allowed to recognize Palestinian nationhood, Obama implies, until Israel is satisfied with Palestinian intentions as signified in a treaty. The Catch-22 of it all is that most Israelis will not acquiesce until they can trust Palestinians not to attack them, yet take every demand for recognition that Palestinians remain untrustworthy. Nothing short of an absolute eradication of Palestinian irredentism on an Orwellian scale could satisfy the Israelis in power, and even then Islamophobic stereotypes will leave Israelis and Americans alike suspicious of subterfuge. You can see why objective observers might actually seek a "shortcut" to peace, since the alternative depends on an agonizingly protracted erosion of Israeli bigotry and suspicion.

Should I not also include Arab and Islamic Judeophobia among the obstacles to peace? I list them separately because a simpler answer exists to these obstacles. Diplomats can calm the qualms of bigots by making actual treaties of alliance with Israel promising the Jewish state direct military assistance in the event of an attack by Palestine. Deterrence is the alternative to trust in the short term. If it's necessary to reassure the Islamophobes and Arab-haters that Palestine will be destroyed if it ever invades Israel -- and if you trust the Arabs enough to assume that such an invasion won't happen -- then an alliance with Israel will actually be a proof of that trust. And if the Palestinians truly have no irredentist intentions, they should not object, either. On the surface, it will still seem unfair to many observers, especially those who would rather wash their hands of the entire region. But if peace rather than death is your goal, this option shouldn't be rejected out of hand. Meanwhile, the vote on recognizing Palestine should go on without American filibusters -- and if I was a country, my vote would be for Palestine.

Update: Speaking of democracy, the MSNetwork is conducting a poll on whether the UN should recognize Palestine. As of 4:00 p.m. today, with approximately 68,000 votes tabulated, the verdict stood at 57% opposed to recognition, 29% in favor and the remainder undecided.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The American people, if they truly believe in freedom, should eliminate our reliance on Israel as "our only ally" in the middle east. The fact is, they are no one's ally. How many times in the past 50 years have we apprehended American citizens for spying on behalf of Israel? How many times have we seen evidence of MOSSAD's intervention, murder and absolute refusal to recognize national or international law in their one sided quest for vengence?

The reality is, Israel isn't our only ally, they're simply one of the few countries we haven't strong-armed or intimidated into becoming our enemy.