Sunday, June 17, 2007

Gaza - What We Sow So Shall We Reap- also Results of Recent Polls

Today is Day 14,296 of the Maintenance of the Immoral (and Illegal) West Bank Settlements and almost the 40th anniversary of the start of the immoral (and illegal) occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Micah.6:8 “He has told you, O man, Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God

I want to write about what is happening in Gaza. The problem is that every day I read such thoughtful analyses that I believe I have nothing to add.

But at least I can encourage you to read the front page article in today’s Boston Globe – a two year chronicle about the Hassouneh family of Gaza entitled “Lost Hopes in Gaza – A Family’s Dreams Collapse amid the Fighting.”
Maybe I should have titled this post
“Did Jewish People in Boston Read This Article? What did They Think?
If you read it, it is nearly impossible to continue to avert your eyes to the Palestinians and to simply stereotype them all as terrorists. They seem so similar to all of us – they want to earn a decent living and provide materially and otherwise for their children. What a heartbreaking story of life in one of the most dense, most impoverished places in the world!!

Here is an example from Uri Avnery on the fighting in Gaza and the takeover by Hamas:“If the leaders in Washington and Jerusalem had indeed been interested in peace, they would have hastened to sign a peace agreement with Abbas, who had declared that he was ready to accept the same far-reaching compromise as Arafat. The Americans and the Israelis heaped on him all conceivable praise and rebuffed him on every concrete issue.They did not allow Abbas even the slightest and most miserable achievement. Ariel Sharon plucked his feathers and then sneered at him as "a featherless chicken". After the Palestinian public had patiently waited in vain for Bush to move, it voted for Hamas, in the desperate hope of achieving by violence what Abbas has been unable to achieve by diplomacy. The Israeli leaders, both military and political, were overjoyed. They were interested in undermining Abbas, because he enjoyed Bush's confidence and because his stated position made it harder to justify their refusal to enter substantive negotiations. They did everything to demolish Fatah. To ensure this, they arrested Marwan Barghouti, the only person capable of keeping Fatah together. The victory of Hamas suited their aims completely. With Hamas one does not have to talk, to offer withdrawal from the occupied territories and the dismantling of settlements. Hamas is that contemporary monster, a "terrorist" organization, and with terrorists there is nothing to discuss. Our government has worked for years to destroy Fatah, in order to avoid the need to negotiate an agreement that would inevitably lead to the withdrawal from the occupied territories and the settlements there. Now, when it seems that this aim has been achieved, they have no idea what to do about the Hamas victory. They comfort themselves with the thought that it cannot happen in the West Bank. There, Fatah reigns. There Hamas has no foothold. There our army has already arrested most of Hamas' political leaders. There Abbas is still in power. Thus speak the generals, with the generals' logic. But in the West Bank, too, Hamas did win a majority in the last elections. There, too, it is only a matter of time before the population loses its patience. They see the expansion of the settlements, the Wall, the incursions of our army, the targeted assassinations, the nightly arrests. They will explode. Successive Israeli governments have destroyed Fatah systematically, cut off the feet of Abbas and prepared the way for Hamas. They can't pretend to be surprised.”

As I have said in other posts, the problem is that the government of Israel does not want a peace that is just. The government of Israel's definition of peace is docile Palestinians willing to accept a nonviable state not a just peace which would require the dismantling of the settlements, returning to the 1967 borders and ending the occupation.

It appears that we can not at this moment look to the people of Israel to push its government towards a just peace. Here is one of many articles about a recent Israeli poll
“Israelis pessimistic on peace: poll Most Israelis are pessimistic on chances of reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians, expect another regional war within three years and don't trust their government on defence, a poll said Friday. The annual survey, published in the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot, showed that the residents of the Jewish state are the most pessimistic that they have been in several years. Asked whether it was possible to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, 69 percent said no -- compared with the 54 percent the survey said who held such a view in 2003. Some 58 percent oppose the "land for peace" formula, compared with 44 percent in 2004, it said. More than two-thirds also oppose evacuating Jewish settlements in the framework of unilateral withdrawals, as was the case in Gaza in late 2005, when Israel withdrew troops and settlers after a 38-year occupation. Seventy-two percent oppose such moves, compared with 50 percent who held such a view in 2004. The vast majority of Israelis also do not believe that the Palestinians want peace, the poll showed. Forty-two percent said the real aspirations of the Palestinians are eliminating Israel and getting rid of most of the Jews and 29 percent named the Palestinians' main goal as the destruction of the Jewish state. Twenty-one percent said the Palestinians want to get hold of all the territories occupied by Israel during the 1967 war and seven percent said they want to get some of those territories. Seventy-six percent expect another war within the next three years and 66 percent said that the Israeli government is incapable of making the right decisions in matters of defence. The poll was conducted by the Institute for National Security Studies, which questioned 709 people. It has a 3.7-percent margin of error.

Here are the results of two polls taken by Zogby International in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now and the Arab-American Institute, one of Jewish Americans and one of Arab Americans which show that both groups share the same fears and same desires.
“Asked how closely they follow the situation in the Middle East, 54.8 percent of Jewish-Americans said very closely, compared with 55.2 percent of Arab-Americans. And while 73.5 percent of Jewish-Americans said they were pessimistic about the situation in the area, 63.4 percent of Arab-Americans were just as pessimistic over political developments in the area. But if as might be expected, an overwhelming majority of Jewish-Americans -- 94.3 percent -- believe Israel has the right to exist within secure borders, surprisingly, 70.6 percent of Arab-Americans feel the same. Only a small number -- 3.8 percent of Arab-Americans -- strongly disagree. However, when the question is reversed and Jewish-Americans are asked if they support a Palestinian state, close to 90 percent of American Jews agreed -- whether strongly are somewhat -- that Palestinians have a right to a secure and independent state of their own; 96 percent of Arab-Americans polled support the idea. And 86.6 percent of Jewish-Americans and 80.9 percent of Arab-Americans feel that achieving peace among Palestinians and Israelis is of vital importance to U.S. national security. Yet when asked if they believe that Arab-Americans believe Israelis have the right to live in peace, only 14 percent of Jewish-Americans said they did. Close to 70 percent of Jewish-Americans and close to 80 percent of Arab-Americans agree that the two communities must work together if peace is ever to be achieved. Asked if Israel should freeze settlement construction because it undermines the prospects for achieving peace, 62.5 percent of Jewish-Americans agreed to a settlement freeze; 76.3 percent of Arab-Americans strongly oppose the building of settlements. As for the Arab Peace Initiative -- formally known as the Saudi Peace Initiative -- it gets the backing of 70.2 percent of the Jewish-American community (31.2 percent who strongly support it and 39 percent who somewhat support it). Among the Arab-American community the Arab initiative gets 81.5 percent support (56.6 percent strongly support and 24.9 somewhat support it). And finally, nearly half of the 501 Jewish-Americans polled May 22-23 -- 46.5 percent -- see Saudi Arabia's intervention in an effort to mediate between warring Palestinian factions positively, while 61.5 percent of the same number of Arab-Americans polled May 22-26 feel the same. The poll has a 4.5 percentage point margin of error.

Brad Brooks-Rubin expresses in such a heartfelt way what we need to do, but he is far from optimistic.
“So here we are again. Another moment when these failures, these missed opportunities seem so acute. When violence and chaos are replacing order and hope. When the leaders we have to look to are Hanniyeh, Meshal, Abbas, Olmert, Barak (I can’t even bear to write about his “victory”), Netanyahu, Bush, Rice, nearly all of the US Congress, et al, it’s hard to look outside and expect much, so it seems natural to look inside, to look to other individuals. Still the height of selfishness, I guess, but I’m not sure what selflessness can look like in this case. Again, the reason I am no leader. Yes, we need to write and call our representatives to appeal to them to do something. We need to support the few NGOs and agencies left that are supporting the people. We need to keep working for an end to the Occupation, regardless of what the other side may look like. But all I can do right now, right here, is express this feeling, this gut-wrenching emptiness and helplessness and sadness and shamefulness. We have all, an entire world, failed this situation, failed the people here. Let us never forget that. Let us redouble ourselves, then, to work, once the opportunity re-emerges, to undo those failures, however long it takes”

He uses the word "rhetoric" because of this quote from the Prime Minister Ohmert of Israel “A government that is not a Hamas government is a partner [for peace]…We have a new opportunity in the last few days that we haven’t had in a long time.” He then goes on to say “Really? Is he kidding? After all, there has only been a 'Hamas government' in Palestine for less than 15 months. Yet somehow, now that we’re basically going back to something on the order of what existed before the 2006 elections –- or possibly much worse — there is a partner? And didn’t we hear from Olmert and Sharon and the U.S. constantly that the various Fatah-led governments, whether led by Arafat, Ahmed Qureia, or Mahmoud Abbas (pre-2006), were never a real 'partner for peace'?”

Aren’t these poll results remarkable – 70.2 percent of the Jewish-American community support the Saudi Peace Initiative which calls for Israel to end the occupation and move back to the 1967 borders while 58 of Israeli Jews oppose the "land for peace" formula and more than two-thirds also oppose evacuating Jewish settlements in the framework of unilateral withdrawals What a disconnect there is between the opinions of American Jews and Israeli Jews. I ended my last post by saying that we need to speak out – first, to American Jews who are sympathetic, then to American Jews who are not, then to all Americans and finally to our elected officials.

Deuteronomy 16:20 – “Justice, justice shall you pursue that you may live and inherit the land which God gave you” and the footnote in the 1980 Hertz Edition “(T)here is international justice, which demands respect for the personality of every national group, and proclaims that no people can of right be robbed of its national life or territory, its language or spiritual heritage.

No comments: