Sunday, June 24, 2007

Deja Vu in Palestine

In the mid-nineties after Hamas was established and was working as pretty much the sole provider of social and other services in Palestine, the US and Israel decided that to accomplish their final takeover of what remained of Palestine, they must stage a negotiations process. They did not want to culminate years of brutal occupation by adding an even more brutal genocide to the occupation saga. For their taste, the occupation should end through a negotiated land for peace process that would give Israel most of what it wanted, and the Palestinians just enough of what they could get, that no one would complain anymore that Israel had been less than fair with the people whose land they had illegally occupied for so many years. After all, if the Palestinians were willing to compromise, and it could be made to appear that Israel had also compromised, who could argue that anything unjust, or unfair had taken place.

It’s much like the land deals made between the US settlers and the Native Americans. How often were the Native Americans reminded that their leaders had sold much of the land for beads, guns and firewater, and entered into various agreements that ultimately led to the Native American fate, which was genocide and reservations? Who cared if it was absolutely absurd that negotiations between the white settlers and the Native American would even take place? Most Native Americans probably didn’t even understand English well enough to actually negotiate anything of substance, and there is no proof anywhere that a majority of Native Americans ever agreed to turn nearly all of their land and natural resources over to the settlers, and to voluntarily be placed on reservations. Why would they ever agree to such things? We could argue that they had no idea about the gold, the oil, and the value and importance of the natural resources they owned. We might also argue that rights to fish and hunt and to live undisturbed may have been more meaningful to them at the time, than undeveloped land. What we can’t argue, with any amount of logic or legal and moral thinking to support our argument, is that what ever took place was fair, or just.

The suffering of the Native Americans at the hands of their foreign occupiers is legendary. Billion dollars per year gambling casinos cannot compensate for the massacres, the lies, and the dirty tricks. How much would we have to pay or give back to compensate for the extermination of millions of Native Americans the fake negotiated agreements, and coerced and dishonest peace treaties, shady land exchanges and sales of priceless real estate for beads and booze that stain our US story.

The United States has recognized the evils of the European settlers of this land, their special Indian laws, and deals. We have attempted to wash the Native American blood from our hands with money and apologies that have gone a long way towards relieving our national conscience of the horrors, both real and imagined. Unfortunately there is nothing that we can do to heal the hearts and minds of the Native Americans, who are still struggling to regain their since of humanness and value in spite of our overbearing history, and nationalist pride.

The Oslo peace process was nothing more than an attempt to buy Palestinian land with beads and booze. The only differences between what took place in the US, and what was supposed to take place in Palestine are the geographic location and the race of the victims. Yasser Arafat and his Fatah and PLO were nothing more than drunken Indians, who were willing to give away Palestine in exchange for personal power and prestige, and wealth. Shortly after the US and Israel brought the PLO out of exile from Tunisia, it established a security force that was supposed to bring order to the West bank and Gaza. The first job of the security force was to round up and to arrest all Hamas members, since Israel and the US were planning an election for Yasser Arafat, and he was to have no competitors. Welcome to Palestinian democracy!

Following Arafat’s suspect victory at the Palestinian polls, the news media East and West declared him the legitimate representative for the Palestinian people. This charade took us all the way to Camp David where the big lie failed, resulting in a Palestinian uprising that left thousands of Palestinians dead and prospects for peace shattered by the stark realization that the US and Israel could not be trusted. The Palestinian people realized at that moment that it was not the Israelis that had lacked a peace partner, it was the Palestinians. It was also the Palestinians, and not the Israel’s who simultaneously realized that the PA was created to lend democracy to Israel, to be used as part of its political charade that was intended to lend legitimacy to a failed Camp David peace initiative that was intended to wrestle Jerusalem from Arafat, and to pen the Palestinians on refugee camps, dispersed strategically throughout what was historically Palestine. The reservations would have been called Palestine; its capital would have been Abu Dis. There would be no right of return for the Palestinians living in exile throughout the world, and there was no real solution offered for the millions of Palestinian refugees.

Today, God, history, or fate, whichever one we believe is a superior power, has returned us to the past. Again, the Palestinian leadership is separated between Hamas and Fatah, each on different territory. The US and Israel are making the same choices because they are the only choices available to the types of people who are scripting US and Israeli policies in respect to the Middle East. It doesn’t seem to matter that their very limited vision and dishonest and self-serving objectives are hurting an entire world of people in and outside of the Middle East. Biblical myths, the shameless exploitation of human tragedies, murder and mayhem can only get you so far. Israel, the US and now the EU, who has newly joined this gang of thieves in earnest with its publicly declared support of Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah, will one day get the message that reached Arafat at Camp David. That message is that Palestine is not merely a Palestinian issue. The Al-Aqsa mosque, Jerusalem, and the very nature of the gross injustices of this brutal and illegal occupation cause it to be much more than just another episode of European conquest and colonization.

It is the international and universal nature of this dispute, along with the moral questions it gives rise to, and the potential loss of any respect for law that lessen tremendously the likelihood of Israel’s and the Quartet’s success. As for the Arab governments who have played along, knowing what actually awaits the Palestinians should Israel and its supporters succeed, they should understand that their futures are tied to Palestine’s. If Palestine fails, they also fail, since as one tribe falls, so do they all, eventually. Déjà vu only lasts until we realize that we have seen this all before, and then it ends with a choice to change courses, or to continue down the familiar path.

The New York Times writer, Thomas Friedman wrote some days ago that oil had been discovered in Israel, and that this oil is ingenuity and professional; expertise and entrepreneurial zeal. Oil has also been found in Palestine, and it is symbolized as resistance to occupation, a will to live and survive, and a determination and resolve to be free, and to realize long sought after dreams of sovereignty and prosperity. Palestinian oil is fueling a paradigmatic change that can literally change the world, by ending a certain history, while beginning a new future for us all. Part of Palestine’s guiding vision appears to be an end to the era of European conquest and colonization that has drenched the world in innocent blood, and bad karma. It is symbolized as an end to Déjà vu in Palestine, a new path for the Palestinian people, and also the world.

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