Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Delay, Delay, Dissapear

There are two issues I wanted to focus on in this post. Neither of which will receive the time and space they deserve but it has occured to me that these issues must be raised and further discussion can rise from them.

First and Israeli High Court today questioned the decision of the Israeli Defense (chuckle) Force not to launch a criminal investigation into the shooting of Brian Avery.

For those who do not know Brian's story it is a sad one. Brian, pictured here after the shooting, was working as a peace activist with the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank when he was shot in the face for appearantly no reason by IDF fire. The IDF has found no reason to open an investigation and Congress, who should normally stand up for American citizens like Brian has ignored his pleas. Ironically the High Court in Israel is willing to stand up for Brian's rights while the U.S. Congress can't be bothered to preasure Israel.

What can we expect, I suppose, from a Congress that is consistently putting Israel's interests before its own. Just two weeks ago, after nightmarish human rights reports were released about Israel's indiscriminate use of American made cluster bombs in civilian areas in Lebanon, a bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate calling for the end of cluster munition sales to parties which use them in and around civilian populations. The bill was co-sponsored by Patrick Leahy and Diane Fienstien (Jewish herself and this should not matter in a perfect world but as you can tell from the picture above little about the world is perfect if even decent). So one would think this Bill would pass without much debate. Preventing the use of cluster bombs going off in civilian areas. This is similar to bills calling for funds to build parks for disabled orphan children. This is the type of bill sneaky congressmen attach controversial riders too. This should be a no-brainer!
While the senate certainly showed thier failure to use brain power it certainly was not toward what should have been the outcome. The bill failed 30 yays - 70 nays. So much for the disabled orphan children.

Israel indiscriminate use of cluster bombs has left a deadly unexploded mine filed across much of Lebanon. Prior to the recent war there were approximatly 20,000 Israeli landmines in southern Lebanon. Israel had refused to hand over the maps detailing the location of these mines and instead have left Lebanese school children to discover the surprises on thier own. After the war the nightmare only got worse. An article from the Independent report this today:

"Bomb disposal experts are working around the clock to clear the lethal leftovers after Israel fired 1.2 million bomblets in the last three days of the war. The pods containing the 650 bomblets, which burst apart at a pre-determined height, have a failure rate of up to 30 per cent, leaving clear evidence of their American origin."

So I will turn to the second issue by asking; is it all worth it? Is it really worth defending this vicious state? We are often too concerned about the survial of the state of Israel and maintaining its existance at all costs. But is the demise of a Jewish "Democratic" state inevitable? Will this not just make all the bloodshed seem even more pointless?

In a recent Washington Post Op-Ed Richard Cohen (again himself Jewish) wrote the following:

"The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself."

Cohen is touching on something very important. This realization can not be ignored and as long as it is ignored Israeli policy will be based on survival but will only delay the inevitable demise of a state spiraling toward further moral decay.

There is a simple but vital fact which can not be ignored. In fact a historical comaprison of policies shows that the early leaders of the Jewish State had a much clearer understanding of this than there more recent counterparts. There is a pink elephant in Israel's living room and no one is paying attention. Note the graphic on the right.

I chose this map to make a point. The area you see is often refered to as "Israel proper". The missing sections are ofcourse the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Our focus now is on Israel Proper. In Israel Proper 20% of the Population is Palestinian. These people are Israeli citizens. The remainder of the 80% is "Jewish" and is from a variety of national backgrounds. The Palestinian block maybe the single largest national group within Israel (Except Israel doesn't recognize Palestinian as a nationality)

Most people would look at this situation and see nothing wrong with it. Even given that Israel seeks to maintain a Jewish Charachter (i.e. Jewish Majority) to the State a measely 20% can not pose a problem can they? Perhaps if we are only living in this moment in time forever this fifth of the Israeli Population will not be a concern but since we know that the sun is likely to come up tomorrow and they day after that too we have to think about if this 20% will remain the same over time.

To answer this we need to ask if there are major immigration trends. For the most part the immigration trends within Israel will not effect the current numbers. However the most drastic change has come and will continue to come from the differing birth rates. Below a diagram from the Israeli Beaurau of Statistics depicts the trends in the coming years. Please note the dark blue bar, which represents the "arabs" or Palestinian citizens of Israel and also note how in the coming years the gap closes dramatically.

For Israeli policy makers this is not just a pink elephant- this is a screaming juggleing pink elephant on fire riding a unicycle. Some may argue that Israeli policy makers do acknowledge this and that explains some of the policies they have towards discriminating against and segragating the Palestinians in Israel from the rest of its citizens. If I was an Israeli that was adamant about maintaining the Jewish charachter of the State I would be demanding much more serious action to deal with this problem.

So is it worth it? If this is a state which is creeping toward inevitable evaporation is it worth supporting its delay tactics that result in Brian Avery and countless innocent Palestinians like him every day? This is a questions Americans and Israelis should be asking.

No serious solution to this issue has been raised by Israelis who support a Jewish State. The only policies so far have been to maintain seperation at all costs, drawing fences and walls of concrete and law to keep the Palestinians out. While walls can continue to be built they will only close in on the state and Israel, born after the tragedies of the Second World War may become nothing but a collection of Jewish ghettos again.

Ironically this time, it seems, it will be with the consent of many Jews.

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