Saturday, March 20, 2010

Israel is singled out for criticism and its right to exist is put into question.

On Friday, March 19, 2010, an opinion article by Jerónimo Páez, a lawyer, was published by Spanish daily El País. In this article Israel is singled out for the freezing of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and its right to exist is put into question. Excerpts of the article below (translation between quotation marks, as accurate as posible):

1.- "One of the best books published in Spain about the Palestinian conflict is entitled Without mercy, without hope: Palestinians and Israelis, the tragedy which doesn't cease. Its author, David Solar, announced, already in 2002, the current spring of the Israeli hawk and the checkmate to the Palestinian people. The time, unfortunately, has come to agree that he's right."

In this first paragraph, the author doesn't hesitate to simplify the conflict almost by reducing it to an agression by a completely guilty execution-style murderer against a completely innocent defenseless victim, regardless of the fact that all parties involved are able to use violence against each other. Would Sderot's inhabitants agree with Jerónimo Páez's vision of the conflict? Would the victims of the 1929 Hebron massacre do so? Páez should notice that the pain which Palestinian violence has provoked does exist, too, and it plays a major role in the conflict. Could Páez say that the Palestinians are completely innocent defenseless victims? Or are they part of the problem, too?

2.- "Being the Israelis relentless in the defense of their interests, being obsessed with extending the territories where they settled during the first half of the past century with the United Kingdom's support, they've forgotten the traditions of tolerance and grandness of spirit which made the Jews an admired and admirable people during centuries. It could be that no other has fought more to survive and to win through the adversities and persecutions, but the initial, noble purpose to create in the Near East 'a home' for its people has turned it into a militaristic and aggressor State, which doesn't hesitate to use any method to finish with its enemies, real or hypothetical ones."

If the Israelis are so obsessed with extending their territories, why haven't they annexed the Palestinian territories, while expelling almost all of its inhabitants? Why did they evacuate the Gaza Strip and some areas of the West Bank, soldiers and settlers included? It should be mentioned, too, that Hamas (which continued launching rockets and mortar shells regardless of the Israeli territorial disengagement) has stated that their goal is not the achievement of a solution of two States for two peoples, living in peace, side by side, but the building of a single State after the destruction of Israel. Páez failed to specify whether such an attitude isn't also an obsession, in fact much more dangerous than that of the Israelis.

3.- "With the excuse of its security, Israel always demands the support for all of its actions from the Western powers, which rarely reject it. Huge is its mediatic power, powerful are its lobbies and numerous are the West's negative perceptions about the muslim world, which Zionism was able to manipulate to the point that many hold the oppressed responsible for the tragedy and not the opressors. The statements recently brought by Shimon Peres are part of this campaign, when he affirms, without blushing, that 'Gaza is an Iranian organism' after having destroyed it and attacked its population with white phosphorus bombs."

Mediatic power, powerful lobbies and Zionist manipulation. Are this expressions a mention of the myth of the Jewish power? How could be said that the Zionists rule the media when Páez himself is perfectly able to write against Israel? In fact, it would be enough to read on a regular basis the international and opinion sections of European newspapers such as Spanish El País, Norwegian Aftenposten or Swedish Aftonbladet to understand that pro-Israeli lobbies have failed to achieve a positive image of Israel in the mainstream media and, subsequently, in the public opinion.
It is also hard to understand Páez's position about the Western attitudes towards Israel (which in his opinion primarily consists of a strong support for the Jewish State), especially considering that the Quartet on the Middle East (which is composed by the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and the Russian Federation) has recently called Israel for the freezing of the settlements, as El País itself has published.
Páez should also notice that Iranian support for Hamas (as specified by Shimon Peres) is a fact, not just a theory.

4.- "Israel knows that with difficulty any international institution will dare to call it for making the necessary steps towards peace. It hasn't frozen the settlements of the occupied West Bank, it agreed on increase them in East Jerusalem, it rejects the bi-national status of this city and it hinders in practice, as long as it can, the birth of the Palestinian State."

The alleged collusion of the foreign powers with Israel is mentioned again, while Páez fails to mention the Israeli moratorium on the construction of new settlements, the dismantling of those settlements considered illegal even by Israel and the fact that East Jerusalem is part of Jerusalem, a city inside Israel and the capital of the Jewish State. It is illegal for a country to decide whether to build or not to build inside its territory?
Furthermore, Israel has recognized East Jerusalem's Arabs' rights (including citizenship) and has built homes for them, as published by AURORA DIGITAL, an Israeli Internet daily written in Spanish. It also should be mentioned that the Beit Yehonatan building (home to eight Jewish families) of East Jerusalem was reported by The Jerusalem Post to be sealed and demolished in the near future, while El País was falsely denouncing the rejection of that plan two days after The Jerusalem Post's aforementioned article was published.
What is Páez trying to tell us when he writes about the bi-national status of East Jerusalem? There are many Germans living in the Balearic Islands. Should be consider that this Spanish archipelago has a bi-national (both Spanish and German) status?

5.- "A far right coalition has been politically consolidated in Israel, the fanatical colonists and the radical rabbis, who support Binyamin Netanyahu, hawk among hawks, whose main obsession, as Avi Shlaim says in The Iron Wall, is no other than dynamite the peace process. The Israeli Prime Minister hasn't made any concession to the peace process and he is about frustrating the hope placed in Obama, who he doesn't doubt to dare, like has happened during the recent visit of the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden. Difficult is the situation for Obama, unless he dares to freeze the American help for Israel, which according to a Congressional Research Service's report has supposed the unbelievebable sum of $28,900 billion, used by the receiver to reinforce much more its military power."

So, Páez considers American economic aid to Israel a problem, because it strengthens its military power. Would Israel need any military power if the Arab and muslim world had recognized Israel's right to exist? Is not also a problem the Iranian aid to Hamas and Hezbollah, which forces Israel to arm itself? What about the Soviet aid to the Arab countries since Israel's creation? Was not that the primary factor which made the Jewish State to strengthen its military capacities? "We'd like to live like Europe or Costa Rica", declared once Israeli Ambassador to Spain, Raphael Schutz, mentioning the fact that the armed forces of the European countries are generally small, while some of them (like Iceland) and Costa Rica in Latin America have not armed forces. Why? Because they don't need a strong military, while Israel does.
Hamas' suicide, rocket and mortar attacks since the 2005 territorial disengagement plan, were not also primarily intended to dynamite the peace process? Or it is that the Palestinians are not playing any role in the conflict?

6.- "The representatives of the Israeli State usually accuse of anti-Semitism those who dare to criticize them and defend the thesis which proclaims the Palestinians are those who reject to negotiate for peace. This was affirmed by Raphael Schutz, Israeli Ambassador to Spain, in a recent article, in which he also adverts them that 'if they want to achieve peace, they'll have to rennounce to part of their dreams'. The Ambassador doesn't specify whether they can afford just one and he also fails to remember that when the Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917, which was intended to establish a 'fatherland for the Jewish people', were in the zone less than 50,000 Jews and more than 600,000 Arabs."

If anti-Semitism doesn't play any role in anti-Israeli attitudes, how could Páez explain what we see here or here? Are the terrorist attacks by Hamas an act of negotiation towards peace? When Páez cites the demographic figures about the Jewish and Arab populations of Palestine, he is clearly putting into question Israel's right to exist. Is that peaceful?

7.- "When they're asked about the peace process, the Palestinians answer: 'Netanyahu is not taking a first step in order to begin negotiations'. Today, any accord would scarcely grant the Palestinians space enough to live with dignity."

What about the Palestinians? Are they contributing to the peace process? For example, the Jewish Agency accepted the Partition Plan, being this one rejected by the Arabs.
After the Israeli War of Independence (1948-1949), the West Bank and East Jerusalem were occupied and annexed by Amman's authorities, while the Gaza Strip was occupied by Cairo's regime. Each of the armistice agreements signed by Israel with those regimes supposed the Jewish approval of that fact; we're talking about Israel's rejection of those territories which are being claimed now by the Palestinian National Authority in order to build its own State. Egypt kept the Gaza Strip until 1956 (re-ocuppying it in 1967 for a short term), while Jordan did the same with the West Bank and East Jerusalem until 1967. ¿Why did the Egyptians, the Jordanians and the Palestinians avoid the building and subsequent consolidation of a Palestinian State in those territories? The main cause couldn't be the lack of time, after all. So, maybe the actual cause was that was much more interesting for the Arabs condemning the Palestinians to remain as a Stateless people in order to use such a human drama against the interests of the State of Israel, wasn't it?
During the year 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak proposed a Palestinian State which would include some East Jerusalem's areas. What was the Palestinian response? The Second Intifada, also known as the al-Aqsa Intifada.

8.- "The worst thing is that there's no any reason for hope. Dan Ephron, Newsweek's correspondent in the zone, recently wrote: 'Israel has abandoned the path to peace and is benefiting itself from the dividends of peace without any accord'. He added: 'The barrier is working', that is, 'repression has worked'. Because of the fact that the Israeli economy is growing due to its spectacular technological development, caused in part by its military technology, many in that country are those who think that why to embark on a difficult peace process that maybe will generate more problems than advantages, or, as some of them say, 'that may rock the boat again'.

Maybe we should cite again the 2005 territorial disengagement plan performed by Israeli authorities, and the Palestinian response in the form of terrorist attacks. Who were working for peace in that occasion, the Israelis or the Palestinians?
But what actually upsets me in this eighth paragraph is the idea given by Páez: many people in Israel doesn't want peace, something which is completely false. The majority of the Israelis want peace through a two-State solution, and also many Palestinians, according to a poll conducted in 2009.
Couldn't be also said that there are Palestinians who see peace unfavourable to their interests, such as Hamas' leaders?

9.- "It's not distant from reality this Ephron's analysis, given the fact that all of the Israeli pro-peace parties suffered their biggest electoral defeat in their history last year. But it's more surprising the short-term thinking of that growing majority of the Israeli population. At least their rulers should realize that the situation can blow up later or sooner and that with their aggressions they contribute to consolidate Hamas' power and that of some of their more inflamed enemies."

Páez's theory of a vast majority of Israelis accomodating themselves in an atmosphere of war without having realized its inherent dangers is transmitted to El País' readers again, regardless of the polls which show us another reality: that majority wants peace. This should be separated from Israeli public opinion being favourable to military operations primarily intended to foil terrorist attacks. Will Páez be able to assimilate the difference in the future?
By the other hand, are Israeli military operations strengthening Hamas and other Israel's enemies? For example, Operation Cast Lead was carried out between the end of 2008 and the first weeks of 2009. Just compare the number of terror attacks per year in the period between 2005 and 2008 (before the Operation Cast Lead) with that of the year 2009 (after the Operation Cast Lead). It is clearly shown that in 2009 Israel was less vulnerable to terrorist attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups than during previous years.
Exempli gratia, as published by AURORA DIGITAL, 15 Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks during 2009, compared with the 38 killed in 2008. According to data gathered by the Shabak (more commonly known as the Shin Bet, which is in charge of those intelligence operations carried out within the State of Israel and the occupied territories), a total of 566 rockets were launched to Israel in 2009, compared to the 2,048 rockets launched in 2008. There was no a single suicide bombing during 2009. The number of injured people was also lower in 2009 than in 2008.
All of this made 2009 the safest year of the decade for the Jewish State, something which derives from the Israeli security measures (id est, checkpoints, security barriers, military operations, and so on).

10.- "The powerful American pro-Israeli lobby (A.I.P.A.C.) has just warned Obama that he is putting pressure 'excesively and unilaterally' on the Jewish State. And this one justifies all of the and each of its actions saying that the only threat against the peace in the region is Iran. But would be advisable that the Western powers shouldn't forget that in order to achieve peace it could be that is necessary to neutralize the Iranian hawks... and also the Israeli hawks."

Again, nothing is written by Páez about the necessity of taking measures primarily intended to foil Palestinian ideological violence; because it would also be advisable to remember that in order to achieve peace it's necessary for the Palestinians to avoid Israeli reactions (legitimate or not) to their attacks, which are proven effective, as shown before.

So, maybe Spanish lawyer Jerónimo Páez is the one who should be blushing for his article, instead of Shimon Peres for its statements regarding Iranian support for Hamas' and Hezbollah's criminal activities.

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