William Pfaff is the author of The Irony of Manifest Destiny, published in June 2010 by Walker and Company (New York) -- his tenth and culminating work on international politics and the American destiny. He describes the neglected sources and unforeseen consequences of the tragedy towards which the nation's current effort to remake the world to fit America's measure is leading. His previous books and his articles in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and his syndicated newspaper column, featured for a quarter century in the globally read International Herald Tribune, have made him one of America's most respected and internationally influential interpreters of world affairs.   [Read more...]
Columns : How to dispose of Israel's Palestinians
on 2012/12/5 17:10:00 (2394 reads)

What exactly is it that Israel intends to do with the Palestinians now in the territories that it has just opened for home construction for Jewish settlers, thereby extending its policy of occupying and annexing legally Palestinian lands?

The UN General Assembly’s overwhelming vote last week to grant the Palestinian Authority non-member state observer status was followed by the Israeli government’s “punishment” of the Palestinians by withholding tax revenues of some $100 million due the Palestinian Authority, and authorizing the construction of three thousand new illegal homes for Israeli settlers in contested areas east of Jerusalem, thereby making it impossible for this territory to become, as previously assumed, and as claimed by the Palestinians, part of a future Palestinian state. If Israel has its (present) way, there will be no Palestinian state

The brutality of this Israeli retaliation shocked those in the international community who had anticipated a reaction but not one so contemptuous of the General Assembly, and so insolent a rebuke to Barack Obama and the American government, which hours before had supported Israel in the General Assembly vote.

The European reaction was unprecedentedly sharp, with harsh criticism by governments, ambassadors summoned for explanations, and a conference scheduled for Monday between France and Britain, and possibly other European governments, to discuss further common actions against Israel.

Israel’s government reportedly was taken aback by the British and German abstentions during the vote (Britain in the past has been a complaisant follower of any American lead on Israel, and Germany is always expected to vote with Israel) as well as by the total number of votes by the other major European governments against Israel. Globally, only three major nations, other than Israel itself, voted against the Palestinians: the U.S., Canada and the Czech Republic. (In addition there were some tiny American island dependencies in the Pacific and Panama).

While the American Congress, to a man/woman, rallied to Israel’s side, what the American people as a whole thought is hard to say, given the rather muddled notion of the Arab-Israeli conflict held by most Americans, and popular ignorance of international affairs in general.

Most Americans have accepted the exploitation by Israel and its American supporters of the vast material and military assistance, and even vaster political backing, put at Israel’s disposal by Republican and Democratic administrations alike, as well as the notorious intimidation and blackmail of American elected officials that goes on concerning the Palestinian issue (which is a commonplace item of the political landscape in Washington and New York, but not widely known across the country). A substantial number of American (and Israeli!) political observers fear that this ignorance/indifference might eventually end in a popular American backlash against Israel and its American facilitators. That is not likely soon, but could be of great force if it came.

But to return to the original question, which few seem willing to pose. When Israel wins its campaign to create a single unchallenged Jewish state on all of the land given by the UN General Assembly in 1948 to make parallel Jewish and Arab homelands (a plan which the Arab states fought and lost), what happens to the Palestinian people left in the country?

There will not be quite as many of them as there currently are, if they persist in their sporadic and unsuccessful outbursts of resistance, revenge or retaliation, since it is Israel that like the imperialist powers of the past, “has the Maxim gun and they have not” – taking the form of F-16s, cluster bombs, and nuclear weapons if necessary. But the Palestinian (and Gaza) birth rate is much higher than the overall rate of Israel’s Jewish population.

What do Prime Minister Netanyahu and his colleagues intend to do with the Palestinians? For the present the latter are penned up in walled or barricaded enclosures on what they consider their own land, but the whole purpose of Israel’s national policy is to take that land away from them.

Moreover, left landless, in ever-deteriorating conditions – in a Greater Israel -- they become apartheid victims, or Indians on a reservation, deprived of all hope. That would be a terrible inconvenience and international disgrace -- as well as an ethnic contradiction, in what Israeli patriots would expect to be seen as a triumphant All-Jewish State, the Israel of the Prophets.

What can they do with the Palestinians? Force them all out into Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon or Syria (what’s left of it)—none of which want them? In that case the spectacle of the Israeli defense forces herding millions of Palestinians -- sobbing mothers, children dragging their pitiful possessions, struggling men -- across Israel’s frontiers into foreign countries, at gunpoint or using bulldozers and tanks, would be poor public relations (one might say).

Perhaps the United States, land of immigrants, would take the Palestinians in? One must ask Barack Obama, or Congressional leaders. I would think, though, the answer would be no. Europe already has more Muslim immigrants than it finds comfortable. But perhaps the Israelis could force them onto ships to go to Germany, which started all this?

It is a very serious question -- what does Netanyahu think he is going to do with the Palestinians? There is an unthinkable solution. The better one would be for Israel, right now, to accept the two-state solution.

© Copyright 2012 by Tribune Media Services International. All Rights Reserved.

 



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