In the article below Illan Pappe argues that establishing a Palestinian mini-state on the 22% of its pre-1948 borders that the Gaza strip and the West Bank represent is no solution. He's obviously right. But does that mean the campaign to get individual countries to recognize a Palestinian State and have the UN vote to recognize such a state is wrong?
In reality, no one really believes that if the UN were to recognize the West Bank and Gaza as a Palestinian state anything would come of it. It's abundantly clear that the Israeli government and the White House's definition of such a state has no qualities of statehood known to humankind.
When Obama, or Netanyahu (only under duress, through clenched teeth) say "OK, let's have two states," they mean a very strong Israeli Jewish State which controls an unarmed, dependent, Palestinian prison camp with a flag and national anthem.
Israel doesn't even want that phoney solution to happen and Obama is just mouthing the words in order not to look like a totally abject apologist for every crime Israel commits. In the long run (or maybe not so long run) Israel want to push all Palestinians out of Israel proper, Gaza and the West Bank..at a minimum (Likud and Israel Betainu are direct heirs to Ze'ev Jabotinsky's Revisionist Zionists who made claims to Egypt's Sinai and the East Bank of the Jordan).
The campaign for the recognition of a Palestinian state is symbolic. But it serves to put Israel/US on the spot to put up or shut up. It exposes their hypocrisy of opposing any proposal for something that they say they are for, and it exposes and publicizes the ridiculous conditions they put on such a so-called state (no army, no control of their own airspace and borders, the right of Israel to keep troops there, etc). It also puts the lie to the Israel/US claim that the “negotiation process” must be the way to go.
Israel won't even slow down the illegal building of colonies in the West Bank, let alone stop them. All the concessions have to be on the Palestinian side; Israel concedes nothing; it just continues to take.
In so many words, the campaign for the UN to vote for a Palestinian state in September is an educational campaign and serves to rally those who favor Palestinian human rights and oppose Israeli oppression and ethnic cleansing. That's a good thing. Besides, this is one tactic in a very long, hard struggle.
The grumpy diplomats of the rogue state
The Electronic Intifada
22 July 2011
The move to declare Palestine, within 22 percent of its original being, as an independent state at the UN is a charade whether it succeeds or not. . . . A solution has to include all the Palestinians (in the occupied territories, in exile and inside Israel) and has to be based on the construction of a new regime for the whole land of historical Palestine, offering equality and prosperity for all the people who live there now or were expelled from it by force in the last 63 years of Israel's existence."
The Israeli ambassador to Spain, Raphael Schutz, has just finished his term in Madrid. In an op-ed in Haaretz's Hebrew edition he summarized what he termed as a very dismal stay and seemed genuinely relieved to leave.
This kind of complaint seems now seems to be the standard farewell letter of all Israeli ambassadors in Western Europe. Schutz was preceded by the Israeli ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, on his way to his new posting at the United Nations in New York, complaining very much in the same tone about his inability to speak in campuses in the United Kingdom and whining about the overall hostile atmosphere. Before him the ambassador in Dublin expressed similar relief when he ended his term in office in Ireland.
All three grumblers were pathetic but the last one from Spain topped them all. Like his colleagues in Dublin and in London he blamed his dismal time on local and ancient anti-Semitism. His two friends in the other capitals were very vague about the source of the new anti-Semitism as both in British and Irish history it is difficult to single out, after medieval times, a particular period of anti-Semitism.
But the ambassador in Madrid without any hesitation laid the blame for his trials and tribulations on the fifteenth century Spanish Inquisition. Thus the people of Spain (his article was entitled "Why the Spanish hate us") are anti-Israeli because they are either unable to accept their responsibility for the Inquisition or they still endorse it by other means in our times.
This idea that young Spaniards should be moved by atrocities committed more than 500 years ago and not by criminal policies that take place today, or the notion that one could single out the Spanish Inquisition as sole explanation for the wide public support for the Palestinian cause in Spain, can only be articulated by desperate Israeli diplomats who have long ago lost the moral battle in Europe.
But this new complaint -- and I am confident that there are more to come -- exposes something far more important. The civil society struggle in support of Palestinian rights in key European countries has been successful. With few resources, sometimes dependent on the work of very small groups of committed individuals, and aided lately by its biggest asset -- the present government of Israel - this campaign has indeed made life quite hellish for every Israeli diplomat in that part of the world.
So when we come and assess what is ahead of us, we who have been active in the West are entitled to a short moment of satisfaction at a job well done.
The three grumpy ambassadors are also right in sensing that not only has Israeli policy in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip come under attack, but also the very racist nature of the Jewish state has galvanized decent and conscientious citizens -- many of them Jewish -- around the campaign for peace and justice in Palestine.
Outside the realm of occupation and the daily reality of oppression all over Israel and Palestine, one can see more clearly that history's greatest lesson will eventually reveal itself in Palestine as well: evil regimes do not survive forever and democracy, equality and peace will reach the Holy Land, as it will the rest of the Arab world.
But before this happens we have to extricate ourselves from the politicians' grip on our lives. In particular we should not be misled by the power game of politicians. The move to declare Palestine, within 22 percent of its original being, as an independent state at the UN is a charade whether it succeeds or not.
A voluntary Palestinian appeal to the international community to recognize Palestine as a West Bank enclave and with a fraction of the Palestinian people in it, may intimidate a Likud-led Israeli government, but it does not constitute a defining moment in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. It would either be a non-event or merely provide the Israelis a pretext for further annexation and dispossession.
This is another gambit in the power game politicians play which has led us nowhere. When Palestinians solve the issue of representation and the international community exposes Israel for what it is -- namely the only racist country in the Middle East -- then politics and reality can fuse again.
And slowly and surely we will be able to put back the pieces and create the jigsaw of reconciliation and truth. This must be based on the twofold recognition that a solution has to include all the Palestinians (in the occupied territories, in exile and inside Israel) and has to be based on the construction of a new regime for the whole land of historical Palestine, offering equality and prosperity for all the people who live there now or were expelled from it by force in the last 63 years of Israel's existence.
The obvious discomfort the three diplomats felt and expressed is not due to any cold shoulder shown to them in local foreign ministries or governments. And therefore while many Europeans can make their lives miserable, their respective governments can still look the other way.
Whether it is financial desperation and external Israeli and American pressure that bought Greece's collaboration against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla or it is the power of intimidation that silences even progressive newspapers like the Guardian in the West, Israel's immunity is still granted despite its diplomats' misery.
This is why we should ensure that not only Israeli ambassadors feel uncomfortable in European capitals, but also all those who support them or are too afraid to confront Israel and hold it to account.
Ilan Pappe is Professor of History and Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter. His most recent book is Out of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel (Pluto Press, 2010).