Topic(s): Palestine / Israel | Comments Off on Rene — WHY THE OBAMA/CLINTON PATH TO MIDEAST PEACE WILL FAIL

I agree with the basic premise of this column by Rabbi Lerner. That the likely path to “middle east peace” will fail, unless it changes course and stops being defined by Israeli interests alone. Having said that, I do get unsettled when reading articles by people I may agree with, that continue to reinforce (either unwittingly or not) the same lines fed to us by the state and mainstream media. How does Syria or Iran truly pose a threat to US interests? The only threat they seem to pose to the US is tied directly to US unconditional support of Israel and the constant threat of their countries being attacked (by either US or Israel).
Another example, is the idea of an “Islamic fundamentalist movement” re-emerging. Again I agree that as long as a just settlement is not reached, there will continue to be resistance. But that resistance need not be characterized as “fundamentalist.” A few decades ago, that same resistance was associated with the “communists.” That institutions, states, ideological movements, sources of funding may use or be used by the weak, powerless, dominated is a historical constant. But let’s call resistance, political struggle and disagreement what it is, rather only see the ideological cloaks it may be wrapped in or wrap itself in. So if we truly want change, and I believe from what I know, Rabbi Lerner and Tiqqun have that sincere desire, let’s begin to undo these stupid/insipid inheritances from the mainstream media and political discourse. -rg
by Michael Lerner
The San Francisco Chronicle
January 15, 2009
There is little chance peace can be brought to the Middle East unless
it is imposed on both Israel and Palestine by the international
community. Calling for an international peace conference and an
immediate cease-fire ought to be the first foreign policy priority
for the Obama administration.
Instead, Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s remarks
to the Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday committed the Obama
administration to a path that is certain to fail as it has throughout
the past several decades.
She stressed three elements of her position:
The United States remains committed in its support of Israel, which
guarantees that it cannot play the role of “honest, neutral broker
of peace.”
The United States restates that it will not negotiate with Hamas until
it recognizes Israel (which Hamas has already said it would not do,
though it has been willing to negotiate a cease-fire agreement with
Israel and announced that it is prepared to negotiate a new agreement
that could last for 20 or 30 years).
The Obama administration will work to bring the two parties together
for peace negotiations.
This position is at odds with the views that Obama articulated when he
was seeking the Democratic nomination. At that point, he made clear
that we should negotiate with Iran and Syria, which both pose more
serious threats to American interests than Hamas.
The difference, of course, is the Israel lobby to which Obama and
Clinton have repeatedly paid obeisance. That lobby, representing the
most hard-line elements in the Jewish world but also tens of millions
of Christian Zionists who support the militarist perspective in dealing
with Arabs and Palestinians, has insisted as a matter of faith that
American politicians promise not to deal with Hamas.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the lobby insisted that the United States
not negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The Obama administration’s game plan, according to several Israeli
analysts, is this: Call for a cease-fire that will freeze in place
Israel’s commanding military position in the West Bank and Gaza
after allowing Israel some more time to finish its task of wiping
out Hamas operatives in Gaza, then hope that the military success of
the Israelis will strengthen Ehud Barak (head of the Israeli Labor
Party) and Tzipi Livni (head of Olmert’s Kadima party) in Israel’s
February elections; anticipate that these two will form a government
to negotiate a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority, whose
power will be strengthened as Palestinians witness the defeat of the
military option proposed by Hamas.
Unfortunately, the Palestinian state likely to be produced by these
negotiations will be neither economically nor politically viable. Barak
and Livni will not have the power to make serious concessions to the
Palestinians, so the government they likely will form (with Secretary
of State Clinton and the Obama administration’s participation) will be
one that allows the Israeli army to crisscross the Palestinian state
in order to safeguard the 400,000 Israelis who will continue to live
in settlements. The state thus created will resemble a patchwork
of little city-state cantons that will not look or feel to the
Palestinians like a real state.
While the weak Palestinian Authority may accept an arrangement of
this sort, the vast majority of Palestinians will eventually wake up
to understanding that this U.S. -negotiated deal is little more than
an agreement by Palestinians to police themselves while Israel retains
its settlements and its military dominance of Gaza and the West Bank.
Eventually, the Islamic fundamentalist movement will reappear and gain
new strength, and resume the struggle, while Israelis and Americans
cry foul because they gave the Palestinians a state.
The only viable alternative is for Obama to call for an international
conference of the European Unon, Israel and the Arab States, the
permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and, yes, Iran and
India as well, and allow that international conference to impose
a solution that provides security and justice to both sides. Only
an imposed settlement has the slightest chance of being just to
Palestinians – the precondition for a lasting peace, and a secure
Hard as it might be to push the Obama administration in this direction,
it will be less difficult than getting Secretary of State Clinton to
use American power to directly force Israel to be responsive to the
minimum needs for peace and justice for the Palestinian people.
Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine: a bimonthly Jewish
and Interfaith Journal of Politics, Culture and Society. He is chair
of the interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives, author of 11 books
including Healing Israel/Palestine: A Path to Peace and Reconciliation,
and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue in San Francisco.