Thursday, March 5, 2009

Me and Hillary in Jerusalem

Well, Hillary and I arrived in Jerusalem at the same time, but no, we were not on the same plane. We have another point in common: both she and I are absolutely useless to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It's only mildly more worrisome for her as she is the flag bearer of American democracy abroad. To be fair, I only listened to 5 minutes of a press interview and those 5 minutes were enough to tell me that no matter how brilliant she is (and the lady is smart!), no matter how many gestures she makes (and she's writing checks left and right), and no matter how many great speeches she delivers, she is irrelevant to the pursuit of peace in this country.

So, what's the indicator I used to identify her as a non-player? It's simple; she repeats the dead-end verbiage that, no matter what anyone does, "we" cannot talk to or deal with Hamas." End of the story. We cannot have peace without putting enemies at the table, and even less by cheering one on and crushing the other -- that's called being party in a war.

I'll skip the obvious parallel and contradictory process where "we" will not only talk to but pay up to whichever Prime Minister Israel names -- including Benjamin Netanyahu who long ago buried the peace process after the assassination of Yitrach Rabin and who now promises Palestinians they will live happily in their little city-prisons.

Now, tell me what we think of foreign figures who claim to love the people of Europe and the US, but only want to kill our leaders, blow up our military, and (only if absolutely necessary) are ready to destroy our cities to make their point? No matter how many nice things they might say about the American people, we would consider such people enemies of our societies.

If you are a Palestinian, even more so if you are a Gazan, you may have voted for Hamas through a free and fair electoral process. Or if you didn't your husband or cousin did. You may have voted against them, even hate their guts, but they won the election and they represent resistance to a cruel occupation* and an attempt to run society according to their ethos. Then people who reserve the right to lock you down and visit you with lethal force virtually every night sent their soldiers in. The chief of the soldiers said they should be "very violent" and use "disproportionate means." The rabbis came to pray and bless the soldiers. The US sent money, weapons and amunition. President-elect Obama at the time chose to be silent. The US Congress voted 90% in favor of Israel sending the soldiers in. These soldiers killed 1,400 people - about a third were women and children. Acceptable collateral-damagism we've been told. Now, Mrs. Clinton comes, signs checks for some blankets and flour (how about getting a permit from the Master, Israel, for people to be able to buy cement? no? OK, never mind.). But Mrs. Clinton also says Hamas must simply cease to exist. Essentially, next time the Israeli Prime Minister is itchy or having a bad political day, and wants to send soldiers to kill more people, there is already a US State Department blessing, as long as all dead body are labelled as "Hamas militants" or collateral damage. So, once again, if you are a Palestinian from Gaza, how likely are you to see the gestures of the US Department of State as pro-peace, no matter how many checks get written and squandered.**

So, Mrs. Clinton's promise to love Palestinians and kill their political leaders probably does not win a lot of hearts and minds. And if it's a matter of trying to kill, refusing to have a partner for peace (remember Israel always decides who is not a partner for peace - strategic avoidance) and allowing Israel's madness to continue, why does Israel need Hillary? We already have Bibi and Lieberman and a whole host of crazies - she adds nothing.***

There is a war going on. One group is winning and crushing the other. Crushing more and more viciously and cruelly. The losing team is confused, disorganized, and getting seriously dysfunctional (sorry guys, but that's true whether we look at Hamas' Medievalism or Fatah's spinelessness and second fiddle politics). And Hillary says: "the change we can believe in is to continue supporting the strong party unconditionally, regardless of right or wrong or even pretenses of justice."

Right now, I sort of lack in optimism as you can tell.
Every mention of more humanitarian aid to Gaza irks me. I know Gazans; they don't need our humanitarian assistance. They need freedom and peace. And I hope it doesn't come too late to defeat the ideology of Hamas, allowing the Palestinian culture to be restored, to heal and move away from dogmatism and other forms of obscurantism, just as much as the energy and intelligence of Palestinian civil society must overcome the mediocrity and pettiness of Fatah. As those things progress, elections are lost and elections are won. And political leaders learn lessons. But those lessons are not taught with phosporous bombs.

Once upon a time, America understood this. But not Hillary. Not today.
I hope America remembers soon, because right now Israel is diving into its own paranoid, racist, conquering obscurantism. And it needs a sane friend to shake it out of this madness.
Sooner would be better than later.
See you Hillary; don't let the door hit your back on your way out.


* Side note on the resistance from Hamas: yes it is violent, and yes, it is terrorist resistance -- but it's only us, comfortably hidden behind our widescreen plasma TV CNN programs who can make the difference between a terrorist attack on Sderot, and a little girl decapitated by a US-donated missile in her house in Khan Younis. For information, the latter is not terrorism it's collateral-damagism. At least for the last five years, collateral damagism has killed a lot more civilians than terrorism. Basically 100 times more. The innefficiency of one form of terror does not make it more moral than the more modern and efficient one. But at least I try to call a cat, a cat.
** That's an alltogether different topic, but can you imagine the waste of trying to pour millions of aid in a tiny place like Gaza but keeping any form of local government out of the picture? Apart from Rush Limbaugh, I don't think anyone thinks you can manage a people without government. Gazans are remarkable. Paris or Los Angeles would be sheer chaos by now.
*** Either Hillary is truly convinced of this never ending war logic, or she just doesn't want to lose the political support and funding of American Jewish Polical Action Groups for future campaigns. In any case, she needs Israel's support more than Israel needs hers.

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