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Splendid Isolation

World  (tags: UN, US Veto for Israel, Treason, Palestine, Israel, Basic Human Rights, Statehood )

- 1615 days ago -
Ben Gurion: "It is not important what the Goyim say, the important thing is what the Jews do!" Is this really true? Doesn't the opinion of mankind count?


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Eleonora O (37)
Sunday December 21, 2014, 12:02 am

Uri Avnery
December 20, 2015

Splendid Isolation

ALMOST A thousand Israeli personalities have already signed an appeal to European parliaments for their governments to recognize the State of Palestine.

I am honored to be among the signatories, which include former ministers and members of the Knesset, diplomats and generals, artists and businessmen, writers and poets, including Israel's three outstanding writers Amos Oz, David Grossman and A. B. Yehoshua.

We believe that the independence of the Palestinian people in a state of their own, next to the State of Israel, is the basis for peace, and therefore as important for Israelis as it is for Palestinians. This, by the way, has been my firm conviction ever since the 1948 war.

The extreme right wing, which has ruled Israel in recent years, holds the opposite belief. Since it wants to turn the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River into the "nation-state of the Jewish people", it totally rejects the setting up of a Palestinian state.

These, then, are the battle lines:

A Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital, an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty, the end of the occupation, peace between Israel and the entire Arab and Muslim world, or a Greater Israel, continuous occupation or annexation, more settlements and ethnic cleansing, permanent war.

Israel has to choose.

So has the world.

LATELY, SEVERAL European parliaments have called upon their governments to recognize the State of Palestine. We want to encourage that process.

The Portuguese parliament did so last Friday, following the parliaments of the UK, Ireland, France and Spain. The European parliament, an institution with growing influence and power, has done so, too.

These are only recommendations. But the government of Sweden has officially recognized the State of Palestine. Some misguided spirits have stated that this was the first recognition of Palestine by a European Union country. That is quite wrong: Palestine has already been recognized by the EU countries of Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, as well at the European non-EU states of Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Quite an impressive list. But is it important?

THE AMERICAN Declaration of Independence stresses the importance of a "decent respect for the opinion of mankind".

The Israeli declaration of independence does not include this phrase, but its whole composition shows that is an attempt to explain its aims to the world and attain world-wide diplomatic recognition.

However, David Ben Gurion, who read the declaration aloud at the founding meeting, soon after announced his doctrine: "It is not important what the Goyim say, the important thing is what the Jews do!"

Is this really true? Doesn't the opinion of mankind count?

It was perhaps true 150 years ago, when Benjamin Disraeli proclaimed the British policy of "Splendid Isolation". I doubt it. Even then, Great Britain was deeply involved in European and world affairs.

Since then, the world has changed profoundly. Governments have become much more democratic, mass education has broadened the basis of public opinion, undreamt of means of mass communication have promoted transparency, some speak of the "world village".

Public opinion has a huge impact on politicians in democratic countries, and even in dictatorships. Where public opinion leads, governments sooner or later follow. Public sentiments become governing policy. This has diplomatic, economic and even military consequences.

THE UNITED NATIONS is the chosen vessel for voicing the "opinion of mankind".

After its founding, Israel fought a hard battle for acceptance in the world organization. The declaration of independence, which promised democracy and equality for all inhabitants, played an important role in this struggle.

Yet Ben Gurion used to call the UN "Um-Shmum" (UM is the Hebrew acronym of the United Nations, adding the letters “Shm" is the Yiddish way of expressing contempt.

For more than 40 years now, this contempt has never been shaken. Israeli leaders relied on the US to block each and every Security Council resolution that the Israeli government disapproved of, irrespective of its content. If the UN had been asked to reaffirm the Ten Commandments contrary to Israeli wishes, the US would have vetoed them.

Now, for the first time in UN history, this sword of Damocles may disappear. The US has hinted that it may not veto a Security Council draft resolution that the Israeli government strenuously objects to.

Incredible! No US veto? It's like saying that the sun may not rise tomorrow.

HOW COME? What has happened?

The simplest answer is that Barack Obama, like so many others, is fed up with Binyamin Netanyahu. Our prime minister has burned one bridge too many.

He has humiliated the US president time and again. He has let loose the hounds of AIPAC against him. And he has done the worst he can do to a politician: he has openly supported his opponents in the last two election campaigns.

The Prime Minister's support of Mitt Romney was nothing short of scandalous. Netanyahu, following the orders of his owner, the primitive but enormously powerful casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, campaigned for Romney openly and unabashedly. In return, Adelson created and finances the Yisrael Hayom ("Israel Today") newspaper, which, being distributed gratis, now has the widest circulation in the country. Its sole editorial policy is to support Netanyahu through thick and thin.

In the recent US mid-term elections, AIPAC assisted the Republicans again, helping them to turn the Senate into an anti-Obama bastion.

Obama has kept quiet. But he would be superhuman if he didn't plot his revenge. He has done so by secretly encouraging the Europeans to go on with their pro-Palestinian efforts. Now he has come out into the open. The US has announced that it is considering not to use its veto.

At stake is a Palestinian draft that would have the Security Council set a one-year time limit for achieving a peace agreement and a three-year limit for the end of the occupation and the creation of a Palestinian State along the 1967 borders. For right-wing Israelis, that comes near to the end of the world.

At stake is also a French draft, which does not go so far but also sets a two-year time limit to peace negotiations.

These drafts would have been unthinkable just a year ago. They show Israel's deepening isolation.

NO POLITICIAN likes radical breaks. After 41 years of an unbroken record of American use of the veto on behalf of Israel (and almost nobody else), not vetoing would be a revolutionary step. It may have a profound impact on US domestic politics, including the next presidential elections. It may hurt Hillary Clinton's chances (perhaps an additional temptation for Obama.)

Also, important US strategic interests are involved. The Arab world may be in chaos, but it still unanimously supports the Palestinian cause diplomatically. America is relying on Arab participation in the coalition that is fighting against the Islamic State (ex-ISIS). An anti-Palestinian veto at this juncture would hurt all Arab governments who are inclined to join. Jordan, for example. Saudi Arabia. Egypt.

John Kerry, poor John Kerry, is rushing around meeting with "everybody and his wife" (as we say in chauvinist Hebrew slang) to find a solution. He is threatening Mahmoud Abbas with cutting off his funds. But Abbas rightly tells him that he has nothing to lose – if he cannot show some achievements very soon, the West Bank may well explode and the Palestinian Authority disintegrate.

In desperation, Netanyahu went to Rome to meet Kerry personally and had a stormy session with him. It seems that Kerry didn't promise anything. Sa'eb Erekat had an even stormier session with Kerry, with shouting, table banging and all.

Ex-president Shimon Peres, out of office but still an inveterate spit-licker, went to help Netanyahu with the French. He appealed to the (converted Jewish) Foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, and pleaded with him not to hurt Netanyahu on the eve of elections.

Tzipi Livni, forgetting that she was dismissed from the government and is now a leader of the opposition, phoned Kerry to support Netanyahu.

Kerry took up the idea. He asked everybody to do everything to postpone the matter until after the Israeli elections.

Interfering in another country's internal elections? God forbid! Who would dream of such a dastardly thing!?

YET WHATEVER the US does or does not do is interfering in our elections.

If it uses its veto, that is direct and blatant support of the extreme right-wing in Israel. It would show that Netanyahu was right all along, that America is in our pocket, that Israel's isolation is a myth, that we can go on doing what we are doing, occupation, settlement and all.

If the US does not use its veto and a pro-Palestinian, pro-peace resolution is adopted, it would prove that the left-wing is right in asserting that the "opinion of mankind" does count, that the not-so-splendid isolation of Israel is growing to dangerous proportions, that a change of government and policy is urgently needed.

This week, Obama threw an international bomb: after 56 years of burning enmity between the US and Cuba, he announced the resumption of diplomatic relations. This shows that he has decided to use the two years left to him in power, without the possibility of being re-elected, in order to do what he reality wanted to so all the time, but was afraid to do. He can spite the Congress and do what his soul desires.

He can decide to act now decisively to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Let's hope he does.


Eleonora O (37)
Sunday December 21, 2014, 12:04 am

Is this another glitch at C2? I've tried umpteen times to submit this story and when it finally popped up ... it was without the picture of Uri Avnery and the text got eliminated altogether - what is going on??

Eleonora O (37)
Sunday December 21, 2014, 12:05 am

And now ... after putting in the second comment ... the text appears ... ??? I give up!

Alan L (91)
Sunday December 21, 2014, 12:51 am
Sometimes the updates take a few minutes (thanks Internet)

Rose Becke (141)
Sunday December 21, 2014, 1:53 am
Indeed lets hope he does

Evelyn B (63)
Sunday December 21, 2014, 2:11 am
Eleonora - that glitch is happening all too often! I never know whether to go back to edit, or cross my fingers & hope it will sort itself out (it doesn't always!)

And thanks for posting this - Uri Avnery is always worth reading.

And, like Rose - I hope Obama does take a stand, not use the veto ...

Giana P (398)
Sunday December 21, 2014, 2:37 am
I also agree with to states one Israel and one Palestinian. It's the only solution. Continuing violence will never solve this problem. Only a political agreement is the answer. Now to get both sides to the table, that's another story. Maybe a different Israeli government could make the change. I don't know. It's very complicated. Thanks Eleonora.

Artur B (125)
Sunday December 21, 2014, 3:04 am
es graut mir

Anteater Ants (122)
Sunday December 21, 2014, 5:40 am
Glitches happen. :-(

Helga G (138)
Sunday December 21, 2014, 1:10 pm
You never know-mistake or fault.

Janis K (129)
Sunday December 21, 2014, 9:04 pm
Thanks for sharing.

Eleonora O (37)
Sunday December 21, 2014, 11:28 pm

Thanks for the comments, especially Giana, Ros and Evelyn.

I hope with Giana that a new government which has the good of the Israeli citizens at heart and NOT expansion at all costs comes into power and does the necessary. It will not be easy but it's feasible as the other side has had more than enough. Equally I know that a lot of Israelis have had enough too and would like to live in peace.

As for the wall, dear Ros - walls can be torn down as we've seen with the Berlin Wall. All it takes is the true will of the people (first) and the politicians. If this happens - and it must be dismantled! - then a temporary two-State solution could be possible. If not, than tearing it down would be essential too as a one-State solution would not be possible with the wall unless one would agree to put the Palestinians in Bantustan-like "cages" or open-air-prisons like Gaza - which in return would become ticking time bombs.

That sure is NOT a viable solution - that would just be like applying a bit of Aspirin rather than solving the core illness.

I wish for both people to live in peace with each other. That the people can do this has been shown time and again in the past. The 1 Mio$ question is: can the politicians do it? Put their egos, personal power hunger and greed aside and do what's good for the country/ies and the people?

One way to force them to come to their senses would be "fraternization" and refusing to go to war with each other ... but much more so hold the politicians accountable and responsible for their wrong doings. As I always say - they are our employees, paid by our tax money ... so they either abide by the will of the people or lose their jobs. Simple ... but it takes a lot of courage from the citizens to finally stand up and demand justice for all.

Peace, Shalom and Salam to all of you and a Merry Season!!

Bruce C D (89)
Monday December 22, 2014, 12:33 pm

Why is two states the only solution? 20% of Israel is composed of Palestinians, and the two have been coexisting relatively well together for over 66 years, despite Jewish-Israeli repression and discrimination against its non-Jewish citizens. Why not one state with equal rights for all? Why not end Israel's gross injustices against Palestinians and give peace a chance?

Evelyn B (63)
Monday December 22, 2014, 2:35 pm
I admit to tending to feel that the 2 state option has been killed. Yes - walls can be pulled down, and free movement by Palestinians within Palestine would take a lot of pressure off from the oppression currently being imposed.

BUT - there are the settlements scattered across occupied territories - and there are a number of extremist settlers, in outposts, in settlement towns, and in illegally grabbed homes. Less than 3,00 households were involved in the Gaza evacuation of settlers - the numbers of flats & homes in the WB now are far more. Maybe some settlers would accept to live in Palestine (despite losing many benefits that the settlers get from the Israeli government ... but those supportive of excluding no Jews from their communities are unlikely to accept - nor ro move back to Israel. And I doubt the generous compensation packages promised in Gaza (& in 4 WB settlements) would be offered - or even could be offered - to the numbers living in the settlements today (and apparently, not all evacuated settler families saw the promised amounts). The logistics & potential budget are enormous now ... and the settlement land grabs & building continue to increase. Many see this process as part of the strategy to make a 2 State solution impossible ...

It has to be recognised that aggressions come from extremist settlers, as much as from Palestinians who see their lands grabbed, their rights trampled upon, their opportunities to make even a basic livelihood strangled by check point blockages etc ... A major change in Israeli government policy could at least open dors for dialogue, transparent justice applied equally to Israelis & Palestinians who do not respect the law and the rights of others ... and Giana, we join you in such hopes.

But I can see why Giana wants a two-state solution: the demographic implications of a one-state solution trigger the worst reactions in the extremists (many of whom want a Jewish State, not a democratic states where all Jews are welcome, a State with at best limited rights for non-Jews ... very hard to justify with a non-Jewish majority ...

And then - there is that spiny issue: the right of return, a basic principle for Jews, but as powerfully unacceptable by many Israelis when applied to all the Palestinians currently prevented from being in their ancestral homeland .. many of whom are stateless.

Pro-Zionists blame other countries for refusing to adopt these people - but why should countries accord citizens of Palestine a different nationality because Israelis forced them to leave their homes? And why should Palestinians be forced to take nationailities when they identify with their homeland still, after a mere 70 years (when the Jews have lived away for close to two millennia of absence, have different nationalities & weren't/aren't stateless?) At least, if the right of return is a human right, they should recognise the same rights of the Palestinians.

Eleonora O (37)
Monday December 22, 2014, 2:58 pm

My dearest Ros - I'm convinced that as much as the wall came into being approved based mainly on negative propaganda and fear mongering ... positive propaganda can be used to tear that ugly thing down. First in the hearts of the people and then physically.

Maybe I'm a dreamer but ... would you have ever thought of seeing the Berlin Wall crumble?

Eleonora O (37)
Monday December 22, 2014, 3:11 pm

Bruce and Evelyn - as always you both raise valid points.

Rationally I do not anymore believe in a lasting two-state solution; that option has been thoroughly and intentionally destroyed by polit-Israel in taking measures and painstaking planning that this is unachievable anymore.

I also see much more the option of the Damascus Conference of 1919 implemented in the long term where the Palestinian Jews, Christians and Muslims petitioned the conference NOT to allow a Jewish State to be formed but rather a bi-national one with bi-national education and all that it entails for ALL inhabitants. Hindsight is 20:20 but just imagine how much bloodshed, hate and hurt could have been avoided?

Yet - as a first step and in order for both societies to start healing and building trust a two-state solution is for the time being the only viable one. But on equal footing which would mean that either Israel disarms (continue reading once you finished laughing) or that UN peacekeeping troops are taking over throughout the two countries. Anything else would be nonsense and just cosmetics applied to the today's situation.

Either way it takes a courageous leadership on the Israeli side to take such truly bold steps and I have my doubts if such a group of leaders really exists. I'm convinced that the people on both sides would find true peace based on justice for both a much more "palatable" way of life than the continuous violence.

As for the argument that if Israel would truly disarm to some point ... then the Arabs would immediately annihilate it ... I don't believe that anyone with a shred of knowledge of the situation on the ground in the Arab world would sincerely make such an argument.

With Giana and many other I can only keep my fingers crossed that the Israeli citizens will make the right choice which will give them and the Palestinians at long last peace.

Merry Christmas to all of you and stay safe!


Evelyn B (63)
Monday December 22, 2014, 3:43 pm
It seems that other voices are being raised - Efraim Halevy, ex-Mossad Chief, criticises current government policies towards Palestinians (or rather, against) Times of Israel - Ex-Mossad Chief: Peace Will Elude Us Until We Treat Palestinians With Dignity

Stephen Brian (23)
Tuesday December 23, 2014, 1:15 am
Hi :)

I've gotten the impression that Avneri's commentary is much like what Americans regularly see on NBC News on one side or Fox on the other: He's genuinely interested in the well-being of his country and doing his best for it in good conscience. However, he seems totally unable to accept that others may disagree with him not on a moral level, where different people may hold different values, but on an intellectual one, where one or the other is likely simply wrong. He doesn't seem to get that the "extreme right" in Israel mostly holds the same values and ideals that he does, but believes his way of trying to achieve them is doomed to failure, and that their wildly different approach is also a genuine attempt to achieve at least roughly the same goals.

The polarization and loss of perspective this creates is best expressed in his line "These, then, are the battle lines:" Those aren't the battle-lines. The battle-lines are where guns are firing and rockets are flying. His enemies aren't the ones who want to see his friends defeated at the polls. His enemies are the ones who want to see him and his friends dead. Netanyahu is not Yigal Amir. Likud is not ISIS, PIJ, the PFLP, Hezbollah, or Hamas. However, in his assumption that any disagreement with himself arises from differences in values rather than information or analysis, he finds himself unable to distinguish between them on a moral level.

Avneri seems to think here in terms of the next step, and assumes that what is typically expected to follow that step will follow no matter how it is achieved nor what other conditions may apply. He has a fine way of trying to help achieve a Palestinian state, but the approach he supports would not lead to the peace which is commonly assumed to follow. He realizes that Livni's party would normally stand a better chance in the election with U.S. support on key diplomatic issues, and hopes to see her party win, but others may be unwilling to come across as U.S. puppets, so her faction may be unable to form a coalition should it win many seats as a result of U.S. support.

He also missed another issue: Arab states do not seem nearly as concerned with Palestinians anymore as they used to, or at least as Avneri imagines they are.
Something tells me that U.S. strategic interests and alliances are not really at stake.

Eleonora O (37)
Tuesday December 23, 2014, 1:10 pm

Hi Stephen ;-)

I know you don't like Uri Avnery and what he stands and fights for - and that's your good right.

I just have a problem with this sentence: "He doesn't seem to get that the "extreme right" in Israel mostly holds the same values and ideals that he does, but believes his way of trying to achieve them is doomed to failure, ...".

Sorry - but do I misread something ... or what is it exactly that you want to say? Why would Uri pursue a way that he believes is doomed to fail?

Ros - you put it in a nutshell - LOL!

Eleonora O (37)
Tuesday December 23, 2014, 1:13 pm

Hhmm - the following sentence didn't make it, Stephen:

What do the Arab states and their concern or rather lack thereof according to you have to do with the issue at hand? Or do you believe that only if and when the Arab states are concerned ... Israel should look for a possible solution?

Israel must settle this unnecessary conflict once and for all in its own best interest if it wants to survive as a functioning society and state.
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