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.”
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.