Friday, June 19, 2009

Israel: Road map to nowhere

Former US President Jimmy Carter is one of those rare birds who have retained their humanity even after four years in the world’s most powerful job. The architect of the first Arab-Israel peace accord was moved to tears when he visited the ruins of Gaza this week, comparing the condition of the Palestinians to “worse than animals.”

Granted, most Americans are not familiar with the Palestinian way of life, I often wonder what the Israelis themselves think of the people living next door in a permanent hell. Are the Israelis ever moved by the Palestinian suffering, as Carter has been and rest of the world often is? If they are, it is yet to be seen. No matter what happens to the Palestinians and what the rest of the world thinks of their suffering, Israel and its leaders remain as indifferent and as unreasonable as ever. When Benjamin Netanyahu promised his own road map, after President Barack Obama gave him those stony looks in the Oval Office with the world media watching, even the most hardened cynics began nursing hopes of peace.

We thought, maybe, Israel, prodded by its faithful ally and biggest backer, finally has had a change of heart. Maybe, we hoped, it’s finally time for the doves of peace to descend on the Holy Land. Perhaps, the time has come for Palestinians to find themselves a home — even if moth eaten — of their own.

But Israel is nothing if not consistent. Netanyahu did unveil a “road map” in his much-hyped speech but you do not know what to make of it. Having refused to acknowledge the existence of Palestinians all these years, Netanyahu has finally agreed for “peace” and a Palestinian state, if it can be called one. However, his one hand takes back what the other proffers. The “sovereign and independent” Palestine envisaged by Israel will have no military or security forces of its own. It is not permitted to possess or import any weapons. It cannot control its own airspace. And, yes, the borders of this Bantustan will be controlled by the able and efficient forces of the great state of Israel. His Imperial Majesty Netanyahu is kind enough though to grant the future Palestinian state the right to have its own flag and currency. In return, all Israel asks from the Palestinians is the surrender of their rights over their lands and homes in what was once Palestine. They must recognize Israel as the Jewish state and the divine right of Jewish people to the Holy Land. So what if this means the Palestinians can never dream of returning to their homes and lands from which they were driven out or even hope for recompense? In any case, where’s the land and where are the homes that the Palestinians dream of returning to? For more read this.

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