Israelis, Palestinians Meet In Jordan To Flog Dead Horse; Barghouti Says Talks DOA – OpEd


Palestine’s most popular political prisoner in Israeli jails, Marwan Barghouti offered the kiss of death (original Maan story) to today’s meeting in Jordan between Israel and the rump Fatah government, whose purpose was…well, no one’s quite sure:

In a letter written on the occasion of Fatah’s 47th anniversary…Ma’an, Barghouti…said that peace talks with Israel were finished, adding: “there is no point to make desperate attempts to breathe life into a dead body.”

The imprisoned Fatah commander urged the PA to divert its attention to popular protests and an unarmed struggle against Israel, urging the Palestinian leadership to pursue its attempts at recognition at the UN

“Fatah has been in a position of leadership since the beginning of the Palestinian revolution, the leadership in PLO, the establishment of the PA, and the two intifadas, and should be in the leadership of the peaceful popular resistance now,” Ma’an quoted him as writing.

This latest iteration of the moribund peace process is DOA.  What more do you want to know?

In this photo from the NY Times you can see the irrepressible Tony Blair, seemingly a glutton for punishment and irrelevance, guiding the cheerleading around the table.  And note the requisite TV camera, whose purpose is to document the substance and value of what they are doing, despite all evidence to the contrary.  But what were they talking about?  Gathering for the purpose of talking about whether they will talk more formally.  They even appointed another meeting in a week at which time they will exhaust even more words for naught.

Ethan Bronner, that excellent channeler of the views of Israel’s ruling class, tells us the Jordanian king is hosting this meeting in a desperate bid to head-off the possibility of Islamists infiltrating the Palestinian arena and transforming the political dynamic as they have in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria.  What everyone seems to want (including the Fatah old guard who have joined in this charade) is to head off a true, native, youthful resistance movement that might usurp them from their sinecures.

Barghouti, though affiliated with Fatah, understands this, which is why he publicly sabotaged the meeting at the very same time it was happening.  He represents the possibility of such genuine popular mass resistance.  In that sense he is a threat to the Erekat-Abbas fatcats and to the Israelis.  In that sense, you have an amazing confluence of interest on both sides to keep the guy behind bars as long as possible.  Once freed, he would take over the Palestinian movement, throw out the sleepy go-along-to-get-along crowd, and sock it to the Israelis.  Mustn’t allow that to happen.

I was tickled to read Bronner quote a senior Jordanian officials who explained that the king wanted to be “seen to be doing something” even if it failed.  Lame of the lame.  The NY Times reporter adds that it is in the interest of Israel and Jordan to promote a “secular Palestinian nationalism.”  That sounded curiously to me like it is in Israel and Jordanian interests to promote a Bantustan nationalism.  A nationalism that won’t demand a nation.  Quite a trick, that.

At one time there may’ve been a secular Palestinian nationalism, but it exists to about the same extent that Israeli secular nationalism exists.  In both nations, nationalism has been subsumed by religion.  The loudest, most effective nationalists are those who wrap themselves in teffilin, tallitot and whatever the Islamic equivalent is.  Secular nationalism appears all but dead on both sides of this conflict.  So for Israel to claim it wants to promote a type of nationalism which has virtually died off within its own country is worse than laughable.  It’s the height of cynicism.  And for Bronner not to question the concept in his reporting is yet another typically shoddy job of reporting.

This article appeared at Tikun Olam

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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