Israeli Aggression Leaves Little Hope for Peace

by James M. WallJordan Valley settlements Reuters crop

The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. That conflict began on July 28, 1914. It did not end until November 11, 1918.

Keep those dates in mind because by July 28, 2014, it is possible that we will witness the start of another conflict, driven by the same stupidity, greed and lust for power that produced the First World War.

That repeat of history was evident in the bad news for the Palestinians that preceded the arrival in Tel Aviv on Thursday of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The bad news came in the verbal bluster and actions of Israeli political leaders who insist Israel will continue to aggressively build settlement housing on Palestinian territory.

The demand by Israel that IDF units must continue to patrol the Palestinian Jordan Valley is one more egregious step Israel is taking to guarantee that Kerry’s attempts to form a peace agreement will never succeed.

The houses shown above are in the Jewish settlement of Maale Efrayim in the Palestinian Jordan Valley where, Foreign Policy reports,

Israel’s interior minister will on Thursday inaugurate a new neighbourhood in a Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley, in a gesture of defiance that will coincide with US secretary of state John Kerry’s latest visit to the region to push forward peace talks.

Into this atmosphere of Israeli expansionism, the Secretary returned to the region this week for his tenth visit, bringing plans for discussion by Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Specific details have not been fully revealed, but the actions of Israel and the failure of the U.S. to object to those actions, suggest that Secretary Kerry brings with  him proposals  as toxic to justice as were those artificial western-imposed Middle East borders drawn by western powers after the First World War.

In his book, A Peace to End All Peace, David Fromkin examines the “peace” that emerged from the First World War that began 100 yers ago this coming July.

In the Middle East, Fromkin writes, decisions “made by the Allies during and after the First World War,”  led to the creation of a new map for that region, a map drawn not for the well-being of the indigenous populations, but a map designed to satisfy the greed and lust for power and obsession for control by outside powers.

Those post First World War decisions were not made in the open. They were, rather, made under the nightmarish haze of propaganda and lies. Fromkin explains:

British officials who played a major role in the making of those [post First World War] decisions provided a version of events that was, at best, edited and, at worst, fictitious. They sought to hide their meddling in Moslem religious affairs and to pretend that they had entered the Middle East as patrons of Arab independence—a cause in which they did not in fact believe.

The ominous parallels between 1914 and 2014 should be obvious to justice-minded political leaders today, except for the fact that justice is not on the table in Tel Aviv nor Ramallah this week.

Israel, a major colonial power imposed on the region with help from western powers, is using the long drawn out “peace process” as a decoy from reality.  Meanwhile, by force and guile, new borders are drawn around expanding settlements, borders that are designed to complete Israel’s control of what it has long seen as Greater Israel, stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

These actions are clearly post First World War redux.

As with the British at the end of the First World War, Israel has accomplished this by providing “a version of events” that are “at best, edited and, at worst, fictitious”.

Even a loyalist Zionist like New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, knows that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has created what David Fromkin described as a “version of events” with his demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, a ploy designed merely to delay and prolong a peace process  which Netanyahu has no intention to ever let reach a fair and just conclusion.

Cohen calls his column, “My Jewish State”, a not so subtle acknowledgement that he considers Israel to be his second home. (Does this not border on “dual loyalty”?) Cohen is typical of Liberal Zionists who try their best to “see both  sides” in the conflict, but whose loyalty to Israel leaves little doubt as to where their heart lies.

Here is Cohen trying his journalistic best—and he is one of the better Times‘ columnists—-when he strongly suggests that Netanyahu’s stalling tactics are acts of destruction for the peace talks:

Then there is the rebounding Israel-is-a-Jewish-state bugbear: Netanyahu wants Palestinians to recognize his nation as such. He has recently called it “the real key to peace.” His argument is that this is the touchstone by which to judge whether Palestinians will accept “the Jewish state in any border” — whether, in other words, the Palestinian leadership would accept territorial compromise or is still set on reversal of 1948 and mass return to Haifa.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, says no; this “nyet” will endure. For Palestinians, such a form of recognition would amount to explicit acquiescence to second-class citizenship for the 1.6 million Arabs in Israel; undermine the rights of millions of Palestinian refugees; upend a national narrative of mass expulsion from land that was theirs; and demand of them something not demanded from Egypt or Jordan in peace agreements, nor of the Palestine Liberation Organization when, in 1993, Yasir Arafat wrote to Yitzhak Rabin that it recognizes the right of Israel “to exist in peace and security”.

Even as a loyal Zionist, Cohen dismisses Netanyahu’s demand for recognition as nothing but a diversion:

This issue is a waste of time, a complicating diversion when none is needed. As Shlomo Avineri, a leading Israeli political scientist, put it to me, “It’s a tactical issue raised by Netanyahu in order to make negotiations more difficult.”

(Photocrop by Pool:AFP Brendan SmialowskiWhich leads to the conclusion, the “recognition” diversion is not only making negotiations more difficult, it is guaranteeing that the negotiations will fail.

And that, of course, is Benjamin Netanyahu’s reason for all his game-playing with John Kerry’s plans for peace, which the Secretary  once again is trying to explain in Tel Aviv. (at left)

In this year 2014, supporters of Israel in the U.S., both secular and religious, should look long and hard at this strategy of delay and defeat employed by the Israeli Prime Minister.

Case in point, national Christian church governing bodies will meet during the next two years. The United Methodist (2016)  the Presbyterian (2014) and the Episcopal (2015) denominations will all  “debate” their actions and attitudes toward Israel and Palestine. What’s to debate?

The church leaders who will vote in those conferences and assemblies should begin now, at the start of 2014, to examine Israel’s consistent acts of dissemblance.

My definition sources describe dissemblance as an action that wants to leave “a false or misleading semblance of something”. Those who dissemble conceal their “true motives, feelings or beliefs”. In short, they “mislead, deceive, misguide, or fake.”

It was dissemblance that led to the creation of a western-designed Middle East almost a century ago.  And it is dissemblance that Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to employ to build his kingdom from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Is this the man the United Methodists, the Presbyterians and the Episcopalians want as their guide for peace in the Middle East?

The picture of Israeli housing in the Jordan Valley is by Reuters.  It appeared on the Foreign Policy web site. The picture of Secretary Kerry is from Ma’an. It is a pool photo by AFP’s Brendan Smialowski, taken at the Secretary’s first public appearance this week in Tel Aviv.

About wallwritings

James M. Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Jim launched this new personal blog April 24, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years.
This entry was posted in Episcopal Church, John Kerry, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Religion and politics, United Methodist Church, War. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Israeli Aggression Leaves Little Hope for Peace

  1. Samia Khoury says:

    Thank you James. As usual you say it so eloquently and clearly. From day one of the peace process it was clear to us that Israel was not interested in peace but a process of diversion, so why is it taking the US so long to understand that? Instead of wasting the time and energy and money of another of its foreign secretaries now on his 10th trip to the region, the so called peace broker should resort to international law and UN resolutions to force Israel to end the occupation and all the measures that it has taken illegally, instead of covering up for it under the guise of “its concern for the security of Israel.”

  2. Excellent, Jim!

    I had the chance to read Cohen’s full article, and these two entries jarred me with outraged intensity:

    “(Regarding) an Israeli ministerial committee vote (toward annexing) settlements in the Jordan Valley(,) Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the vote ‘finishes all that is called the peace process.’ Such contemptuous characterization of a negotiation from a leading protagonist is ill-advised and bodes ill.” “contemptuous”? “Ill-advised”? words that can only be used by a committed (and yes, dual loyalist) Zionist. To any other observer, they are words that are in themselves contemptuous of the hapless Palestinians who have been arm-twisted to take part in a sham (and shameful) “peace process” that spans decades of process but no peace and no justice.

    “…that Palestinian leaders, with zero democratic accountability, and through facile incitement, are not preparing their people for territorial compromise….” Now why, Mr. Zionist Cohen, don’t you provide even the most minimal context as to why the Palestinians have “zero democratic accountability”?…hints: (i) 2006, (ii) USraeli connivance to reverse and zero out democratic Palestinian elections; (iii) four dozen duly elected Palestinian representatives summarily arrested and thrown into the Zionist prison system. And “facile”?–just what journalistic instinct leads you to use that loaded word, Mr. Zionist Cohen?

    It is personally distasteful that my tax dollars are in the mix of paying for Kerry’s salary and endless trips of diplomatic futility that in truth serve only to deepen the Zionists’ dispossession of all Palestinians. Here is an apt and, sadly, demonstrably accurate quote I found in a CounterPunch commentary of 1/02/14: “(Kerry has an) uncomplicated affection for the promise of Zionism.” Even-handedness, anyone?–not from this, America’s supposed top “diplomat.”

  3. Urbane Peachey says:

    Thank you for your continued analysis. Are you in touch with congressional
    policymakers?

  4. Fred says:

    It should be clear to all by now that the Palestinians have had no partner for peace for decades. Israel wants all of Palestine, and has de facto, obtained this goal with it’s vasts settlements for Jews Only, that are illegal under International Law.

    Israel has no regard for Palestinians and treats them as subhumans with their apartheid laws. Israel has gotten everything it wants without consequences. It has the US Congress in its pocket, it has atomic bombs but has succeeded in making Iran the culprit, when the reverse is true.

    With the US backing Israel’s expansionist and racist policies, only BDS can stop the crushing of the Palestinian people, who are being punished for one simple reason—they are not Jewish.

    When will Americans get angry enough to work as hard as AIPAC, but for justice instead of apartheid and ethnic cleansing? We need billionaires on the side of justice, to bribe our Congressmen with money, the way AIPAC and other Israel Firsters do, to get the US government to do their bidding.

  5. Robert Assaly says:

    Thanks Jim. Should we understand that also Kerry is dissembling?

    P.S. the term is loaded, and familiar to Anglicans/Episcopalians from the old invitation to confession: Dearly beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us, in sundry places, to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness; and that we should not dissemble nor cloak them before the face of Almighty God…

  6. David says:

    “Occupation is Slavery”
    by esteemed Jewish Israeli journalist Bradley Burston

    “In the name of occupation, generation after generation of Palestinians have been treated as property. They can be moved at will, shackled at will, tortured at will, have their families separated at will. They can be denied the right to vote, to own property, to meet or speak to family and friends. They can be hounded or even shot dead by their masters, who claim their position by biblical right, and also use them to build and work on the plantations the toilers cannot themselves ever hope to own. The masters dehumanize them, call them by the names of beasts.” (Ha’aretz, Feb. 26/13)

    “Former Foreign Ministry director-general invokes South Africa comparisons. ‘Joint Israel-West Bank’ reality is an apartheid state”
    EXCERPT: “Similarities between the ‘original apartheid’ as it was practiced in South Africa and the situation in Israel and the West Bank today ‘scream to the heavens,’ added [Alon] Liel, who was Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria from 1992 to 1994. There can be little doubt that the suffering of Palestinians is not less intense than that of blacks during apartheid-era South Africa, he asserted.” (Times of Israel, February 21, 2013)

    Nelson Mandela:

    “…we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians…”

  7. William Gepford says:

    It should be obvious to all that Israel wants all of Palestine. And they have the backing of the U.S. that makes it a reality, regardless of what Kerry or any other American peacemaker tries to do, or not to do, to make it so. Kerry’s trips are nothing more than pro-Israeli propaganda. They are a waste of our money. It is time the American people woke up to this truth and started marching. Thanks Jim!!

  8. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Thanks, Jim. Your excellent analysis of Israel’s colonial greed and arrogance makes it clear that the US chooses to be “powerless”, when it comes to Israeli occupation of Palestine. Successive US administrations, including Obama’s, choose to be one-sided and choose to ensure Israeli occupation and Israeli military supremacy, while deceiving the Palestinians, while other Arabs are lulled to sleep.

    I am afraid that Israel is leading the region into a series of wars that are more disastrous than ever, in which Israel hopes to solidify its hold on the entirety of Palestine.

    The resulting wars and instability will be disastrous to American and Western economies and interests in the region. The so-called US energy “independence” will not protect or relieve energy-starved US allies in Europe and elsewhere.

    As long as US administrations are willing to sacrifice US – as opposed to Israeli – vital interests and the most basic of moral values, then they are in fact destroying the very fabric of what America has been all about.

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