Sunday, November 23, 2008

Is there a Pulitzer Prize for most understated headline?

It's the only explanation for this
Some in Arab World Wary of Clinton

During the Democratic primary campaign, Clinton said the United States could "obliterate" Iran if it launched a nuclear attack on Israel. She said the United States should not negotiate with Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, unless it renounced terrorism. "The United States stands with Israel, now and forever," Clinton told AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, at its conference in June.
Hmm...yes. Disconcerting. Indeed. On the other hand...
Yet Clinton is also the former first lady who famously broke with her husband's administration in 1998 and said Palestinians should have a state of their own.
What the WashPo does not understand is that "Palestinian sovereignty" has a different meaning to the American and Israeli ruling class than to everyone else. Take a look at the prior results of Israel's concession to a "two state solution"
Under the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority acts as a subcontractor of the Israeli army in the task of repressing the Palestinians. To the U.S. and Israel, that's virtually the only task the PA is accorded. It's no wonder, then, that Arafat controls nine different police and security operations, accounting for as many as 50,000 cops. These security forces work hand-in-glove with the Israeli security forces and the CIA, which provides "training" to Arafat's police. When Israeli undercover police arrested Palestinians whom they accused of lynching two Israeli cops (in a well-publicized October 2000 incident), Arafat's police were said to have fingered the arrestees.
The two state solution on offer from Israel is not real Palestinian self-determination but an alternative strategy for suppressing Palestinians. It's the old colonial scheme of getting the elite segment of the indigenous population to do the dirtiest work. As Jonathan Cook has shown, politicians like Olmert preach the virtues of two states, precisely because they fear real Palestinian freedom
According to Olmert, without evasive action, political logic is drifting inexorably toward the creation of one state in Israel and Palestine. This was his sentiment as he addressed delegates to the recent Herzliya conference: "Once we were afraid of the possibility that the reality in Israel would force a bi-national state on us. In 1948, the obstinate policy of all the Arabs, the anti-Israel fanaticism and our strength and the leadership of David Ben-Gurion saved us from such a state. For 60 years, we fought with unparalleled courage in order to avoid living in a reality of bi-nationalism, and in order to ensure that Israel exists as a Jewish and democratic state with a solid Jewish majority. We must act to this end and understand that such a [bi-national] reality is being created, and in a very short while it will be beyond our control."

Olmert's energies are therefore consumed with finding an alternative political program that can be sold to the rest of the world. That is the reason he, and Sharon before him, began talking about a Palestinian state. Strangely, however, neither took up the offer of the ideal two-state solution -- the kind Avnery and Neumann want -- made in 2002. Then Saudi Arabia and the rest Arab world promised Israel peace in return for its withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders. They repeated their offer last year and Israel has steadfastly ignored them.

Instead, an alternative version of two states -- the bogus two-state solution -- has become the default position of Israeli politics. It requires only that Israel and the Palestinians appear to divide the land, while in truth the occupation continues and Jewish sovereignty over all of historic Palestine is not only maintained but rubber-stamped by the international community. In other words, the Gazafication of the West Bank.
Clinton's position on Palestine may please the Arab ruling class, and even Hamas, but the most clear-headed activists realize the futility of such a course.