I’m prepared, once again, to be branded as anti Semitic. When I was broadcasting a daily political talk show I could predict with certainty that any editorial I did, not flattering to Israel, would bring a nasty reaction from the Canadian Jewish Congress. I kept asking, to myself and on air, why the Canadian Jewish Congress, if it was in existence to help Canadian Jews, would speak for the State of Israel? If I said anything antithetical to the interest of France, let us say, I would hear from the French Consul not the Alliance Francais, a private set up “to foster the appreciation of French culture through cultural events and to encourage the study of the French language”.
The Canadian Jewish Congress, until August this year, was in business to care for Jews in Canada and those who wanted to come in. Nowhere was it mandated to shill for the State of Israel. In fact it had indeed become not much more than a lobbying group for Israel and, having lost its virginity so to speak, this past summer it was subsumed into the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs which does lobby both for Jews and Israel. Understand that I have no problem with any mandate to promote people, causes and states – my quarrel is with the notion that if I disagree with, say, British foreign policy I am therefore anti-British. I raise this issue because over the years, like the Chinese water torture of drip, drip, drip, criticism of Israel has been muted by the fear of being labeled anti-Semitic.
To make matters worse, it’s true that many anti-Semites are opposed to Israel and shelter themselves by piously claiming not to be anti-Semitic by tendentiously declaring that they are merely invoking free speech. It would not be so bad except implicit in any criticism of Israel is a lack of understanding the Holocaust - indeed lack of concern about that awful mass crime.
What this has done in the USA – and Canada for that matter – is to mute criticism of Israel at the highest level and I think is a major, if not the major reason that Israel has got away with murder, literally. I am not going to revisit the rambling sometimes incoherent history of Palestine from the 30s but take the situation as it is today.
The two main issues at stake – and huge issues they are – are that Israel continues to occupy captured territory, contrary to the UN injunction against that, and refuses, and in a reverse phenomenon, its satellite the United States refuses, to recognize a Palestinian state. The lack of good will in the US/Israel position is evidenced by the continued construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land which to me is incomprehensible; it’s an ongoing giving the finger to Palestine and most of the world.
The refusal of the United States and Israel to recognize Palestine goes to the root of the matter. Palestine appears on the world scene as a nonentity. Israel, a country that changes governments ad nauseum, complains that Palestine can’t get stable government after Israeli policies make it extremely difficult for Palestine, split in two, to reach a national consensus. There is then, in my opinion, no good reason why the US should lobby UN members against recognizing Palestine and for removing funding to UNESCO because it does.
Now Israel is actively considering attacking Iran to take out, one assumes their capability to make a nuclear bomb. Quite an example of chutzpah since Israel has had deliverable nuclear capability for years, yet has never admitted it much less signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Things have changed since Israel bombed a nuclear laboratory in Iraq on September 30, 1980. At that time Iran and Iraq were at war, big time, Israel had a formal peace agreement with Egypt and the rest of her neighbours had neither the capability nor the stomach for an attack. Since the Arab Spring started, the Middle East is much altered but what the finished product will look like, no one knows except to say it will not result in any more love for Israel than now exists and probably will strengthen opinion against her.
The rationality for Israel attacking Iran is that the nuclear ability must be eliminated before Iran has the capability to deliver it. That’s a seductive argument until one remembers that nuclear bombs are no longer a scientific secret. North Korea has that capability as have those two scorpions in a bottle, India and Pakistan. Ending nuclear development by force no longer works. We tend to forget that Russia has been very helpful with Iran’s nuclear development, will Israel bomb them too?
Since force won’t bring peace, what will? Probably nothing but we must continue to try, trusting in Mutually Assured Destruction, MAD, to work with new nuclear powers as it did when the US and the USSR, fearful of the other, and rightly scared stiff of a first strike from the other, embraced in a loveless yet real truce.
I’m not suggesting that it’s a wonderful idea to have more nuclear warriors – what I am saying is that it’s impossible to stop nuclear development and we must turn to other possibilities. It’s obviously against the grain for Middle East countries to take any steps against Iran when they all are agreed that “the state of Israel is our enemy, it has a nuclear arsenal and we must therefore match its capability as a purely defensive against their first strike capability”.
A condition precedent to avoiding a war in the Middle East is to remove the casus belli, namely Israel’s domination over Palestine and its overwhelming military capability. That can only be done when the US as a great power, not just a supportive banker, bears down on Israel. The path to peace is foggy but what’s clear – to me at any rate - is that President Obama must step in and state that as the conditions precedent to any real settlement, Israel must immediately recognize Palestine as a nation, the UN must do the same and not only must all the settlements be moved, Israel must return to its pre 1967 borders.
Yes, there are political problems for Mr. Obama as 2012 is an election year, but he must bite the bullet. He should understand that not all American Jews support the Netanyahu vision. Neither do all Israelis. Like “Bre’er Rabbit” stuck to the tar baby, the US has to break away from the tar baby it’s been stuck to since 1947.
If Israel is permitted to continue its current policy, war in the Middle East is certain and who can say that such a war won’t burst the geographical boundaries of the Middle East into a much wider and perhaps annihilating conflagration?