Today's Opinions, Tomorrow's Reality
By David G. Young
Washington, DC, September 20, 2011 --
Instead of blocking UN recognition of Palestine, Israel would be wise to be its chief UN sponsor.
The Israeli government's emotional meltdown over the Palestinian quest for United Nations recognition highlights how out of touch the country is with the rest of the world. For decades Israel has behaved badly toward its neighbors, and even more badly toward the Palestinians under its military control. This behavior has rightfully earned Israel the ire of more and more governments around the world. Instead of recognizing this and reflecting on behaviors that have caused its isolation, Israel has clung to its alliance with the world's sole superpower like a spoiled child hiding under its mother's skirt.
The status quo in Israel may be acceptable for most Israeli citizens and their Jewish and Christian fundamentalist allies in America. But to the rest of the world, it is not. Israeli Jews are now a minority inside the areas under the government's control.1 They rule over a Arab majority that is almost completely disenfranchised, has severely limited rights to property, work and travel, and in the case of Gazans, must live under a crippling military blockade. Israel continues to seize and colonize Palestinian land and builds walls around Jewish settlements to separate its people from the Arab majority. It is nothing short of modern day apartheid.
What's worse, the Israeli government has for years refused to engage in any serious dialogue to reach a negotiated peace (the Palestinians demand they halt new settlements before resuming negotiations, and Israel refuses to do so), and the only country with any influence to push Israel along, the United States, has failed.
Frustrated by this stalemate, human rights activists have taken to civil disobedience to try to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza by sailing aid boats past Israeli warships. One such confrontation last year lead to the killing of nine people including an American citizen on a Turkish ship at the hands of Israeli armed forces2, causing outrage that destroyed the onetime alliance between Turkey and Israel. With virtually no friends left besides the United States government, Israel should not be surprised that nations around the world are turning against it in the UN.
To be clear, recognition of Palestine as a separate state is not a good solution. It does nothing to solve the Palestinians' immediate problems, and only serves to anger their oppressor. Similarly, it does nothing to stop the violent and indefensible behavior of Israel's Hamas enemy that rules Gaza.
A completely just solution to the Palestinian problem would require not a separate Palestinian state, but a multiethnic government allowing elderly Palestinians the right to return to the property they rightfully own in Israel. But the emergence of a Palestinian majority that continues to grow means Israelis will never accept such a just solution. They know it would be the end of Jewish Israel, because the Palestinian majority would vote them out of power.
Following the path of South Africa in the 1980s, Israelis appear poised to stubbornly ride out the status quo as an apartheid regime against growing international outrage. Back in the '80s, the white South African government tried to dilute the African majority by creating "independent" homelands that nobody else recognized. Apartheid South Africa would have been thrilled to have UN recognition for these microstates. Not Israel -- by insisting on its continued rule over Palestinians, it seems to be foolishly following in South Africa's footsteps until the whole system comes toppling down.
Only once Israelis wake up to this destiny, will they reengage in a last-ditch effort to save their society through the same two state solution inspiring the Palestinian quest for recognition at the UN. The fact that the Israeli government today opposes the effort instead of sponsoring it shows just how out of touch with reality the country has become.
Related Web Columns:
The Unspeakable Exodus, June 22, 2010
They Donít Need Us, June 16, 2009
Abandoning a Sinking Ship, June 16, 2002
The Defense of Racism, August 4, 2001
Concluding an Appalling Silence, March 21, 2000
1. See The Unspeakable Exodus, June 22, 2010
2. Wall Street Journal, Turkish Charity Group Sounds Defiant Note, June 4, 2010