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Romney And Netanyahu – OpEd

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Once upon a time, President Richard Nixon wanted to appoint a certain lawyer to the US Supreme Court.

“But the man is a complete moron!” one senator exclaimed.

“So what,” answered another, “There are a great many morons in the US, and they have a right to be represented in the court as much as any other sector of society.”

Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu

Perhaps the United Morons of America have a right to elect Mitt Romney president. But for the sake of the US and Israel, I hope that this will not happen.

Some people say that Israel is the 51st state of the Union. Some say that it is the first among the 51. Whatever, our lives – and perhaps our deaths – depend to a great extent on the man in the White House.

So, with all my misgivings (and I have a lot) about Barack Obama, I very much hope that he will be reelected.

* * *

IN HIS latest seizure of wisdom, Romney did not only disclose that 47% of Americans are parasites, but also that “the Palestinians” want to destroy Israel. According to him, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has no solution, it will go on forever.

I wonder where he got this last piece from.

In Nazi Germany there was a certain Herr Doktor Otto Dietrich, a functionary of the Ministry for Propaganda. Every day, he would gather the editors of the important newspapers in Berlin and tell them what their headline and editorial were going to be the next day.

That was before the Internet and fax. Nowadays, the Prime Minister’s office faxes a daily ‘page of messages” to Netanyahu’s ministers and other stooges, telling them what messages they are to spread.

I strongly suspect that Romney read this page of messages just before he met his audience, composed of billionaires (or mere millionaires). After all, he couldn’t have invented these astounding pieces of insight all by himself, could he?

* * *

“THE PALESTINIANS” means “all Palestinians”. All nine million of them in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, Israel, not to forget the refugees around the world.

Well, I suppose that if by divine intervention Israel were to disappear from the globe, very few Palestinians would shed a tear. Neither would many Israelis shed a tear if, again by divine intervention, all the Palestinians disappeared. Quite a few Israelis would even volunteer to help God Almighty in this task. Who knows, if Romney’s evangelical friends pray enough, their God may dematerialize all those Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians and assorted other miscreants.

Alas, such fantasies belong to the realms of dreams and nightmares. In the real world, peoples do not disappear even after gruesome genocides, nor can states which possess nuclear bombs be eradicated by foreign enemies.

I know quite a number of Palestinians, and not one of them believes that Israel can be annihilated. Since Yasser Arafat decided in late 1973 that he must come to terms with Israel, the great majority of Palestinians want a deal that will enable them to set up a state of their own in a part of historical Palestine. This is called the “two-state solution”.

The present government of Israel does not want this, because they are not ready to give up the 22% of historical Palestine which would become the State of Palestine. Since they have no viable alternative, the government’s spokespeople assert that “this conflict has no solution”.

One of the fathers of this slogan is Ehud Barak. After the failed 2000 Camp David meeting, Barak, then Prime Minister, famously declared that “we have no partner for peace”. Since Barak was the main cause for the meeting’s failure, I dubbed him “peace criminal”.

Netanyahu gratefully picked up Barak’s cry, and now the great majority in Israel believes this message implicitly. (Recently I was interviewed by a Danish journalist. I told her: When we finish, stop the first taxi. Ask the driver about peace. He will tell you “Peace would be wonderful. I am ready to give back all the territories for peace. But unfortunately the Arabs will never make peace with us,” An hour later the journalist excitedly called me: “I did as you told me, and the driver repeated your words one by one.”)

“No solution” gives an impression of “everything will remain as it is”. That is a mistake. Nothing remains as it is. Things move all the time, settlements expand, Palestinians will rise up, the world is in flux, the Arab world changes, some day an American president will put the interests of the US ahead of those of Israel. Where will we be then?

* * *

THE GIST of Romney’s message is that the two-state solution is dead. This reminds me of Mark Twain’s famous: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

It is now in fashion to say so. Quite a trend. However, different people have different reasons for believing that the two-state solution is dead.

Parents, teachers, pedophiles and cannibals all say they love children. But their motives are not the same. This is also true for the would-be undertakers of the two-state solution. They include:

One: Idealists, who wish for people of different nations to live together in harmony and equality in one state. (I would like them to study the history of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Sudan, and the present situation of the French in Canada, Scots in Britain, Flemish in Belgium and Basques and Catalans in Spain.)

Two: Arabs, who really believe that this is a peaceful way to get rid of Israel.

Three: Settlers, who want to turn the whole of historical Palestine into their dominion and, if possible, “cleanse” the country of non-Jews.

Four: Israelis, who believe that the settlements have created a situation that is “irreversible”. (Meron Benvenisti, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, coined this phrase already in the early 1980s, when there were less than 100 thousand settlers. I told him then that nothing was irreversible except death. Situations created by human beings can be changed by human beings.)

Five: Anti-Zionists, including Jewish anti-Zionists, who hate Zionism indiscriminately, with all its good and bad aspects, and for whom the very existence of a “Jewish” state is an abomination.

Six: Muslim fanatics, who believe that Palestine is a Muslim waqf (religious grant), so that allowing any part of it to non-Muslims is a deadly sin.

Seven: Jewish fanatics, who believe that all of Eretz-Israel, from the Nile to the Euphrates, has been promised to the Jews by God, so that conceding any part of it to non-Jews is a deadly sin.

Eight: Christian fanatics, who believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be possible only after the ingathering of all the Jews in this country (with no place in it for anyone else.)

Sorry if I have forgotten someone.

Some of these people have invented something called the “one-state solution”. That is an oxymoron. There is a one-state problem, there is no one-state solution.

From time to time it is worthwhile to come back to the basic facts of our life:

There are two peoples living in this country.

Neither of the two will go away. They are here to stay.

While the Arab Palestinians living in the country are still a minority, they will constitute the majority quite soon.

Both peoples are intensely nationalistic.

The two peoples have different cultures, languages, religions, historic narratives, social structures, standards of living. At present, after some 130 years of continuous conflict, there is intense hatred between them.

The possibility that these two peoples could live peacefully in one state, serving in the same army and police, paying the same taxes and abiding by the same laws enacted by the same common parliament, is nil.

The possibility that these two peoples could live peacefully side-by-side in two states, each with its own flag and its own elected government (and its own soccer team), does exist.

Such co-existence can take different forms: from a loose confederation with open borders and free movement to closer forms of evolving structures, like the European Union.

I hope that this is not too complicated for Mitt Romney to understand. But this may become irrelevant if – as I fervently hope – he is not elected.

I would hate for an ignoramus to be given the opportunity to learn world affairs on our backs.

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. Avnery sat in the Knesset from 1965-74 and 1979-81 and was the owner of HaOlam HaZeh, an Israeli news magazine, from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He is famous for crossing the lines during the Battle of Beirut to meet Yassir Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery is the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including 1948: A Soldier’s Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem (2008); Israel’s Vicious Circle (2008); and My Friend, the Enemy (1986).

3 thoughts on “Romney And Netanyahu – OpEd

  • Avatar
    September 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm
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    It is a question of scale. Everyone is thinking that a state needs a boundary. Why not have two states within the same boundary, with everyone within it having to pay their taxes to one state or the other based on individuals, not areas? Technically it is a relatively simple exercise, based on Land Information systems, electoral rolls and the like. The main problem is the vested interests in maintaining the status quo, especially the ignoramuses who will dismiss this idea without a second thought.

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  • Avatar
    September 29, 2012 at 5:13 am
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    Love you, Uri Avnery, have read you for years; thanks and I kiss your hand, your hand and Gilad Atmoz, fellow Israeli

    Reply
  • Avatar
    September 29, 2012 at 9:16 am
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    In terms of pure logic, Avnery is correct. There is no logical alternative to the 2 territorial-state solution. However, this is becoming increasingly theoretical. Benvenisti may have been somewhat premature at the time – but his opinion from the mid 1980s is certainly applicable now, on both sides of the separation fence. The separation fence (whatever its current route) was the last shot at the territorial concept, formulated by Ariel Sharon after he “saw the light”, and of course it was totally unilateral. However the settlements on its eastern side are growing faster than ever before. Some of them are approaching the size of the large settlement blocs that were fenced into the Israeli side 6-8 years ago. So maybe Benvenisti, a knowledgeable and thoughtful left-winger who opposed the settlement movement, could see where this was going. Now, 30 years later, the left wing has to start thinking of alternative solutions. The 1970s-1990s Avnery-style useless dogmatism, based partly on the Israeli ideological left-wing’s gut de-legitimatization of the Israeli right, only serves the settlers, as to all futile measures such as the various boycotts, Obama’s counter-productive construction “freeze” (of the peace process) etc, while their population continues to grow by 5% a year. The left must start thinking of alternative solutions, should a territorial divide and eviction of several hundred thousand people prove impossible, such as open-border confederation etc. Obviously, the one-state “solution” is not a solution at all, and in that Avnery is absolutely correct. But the total-territorial model is rapidly becoming obsolete and dangerous to the same extent.

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