“Covenants without the Sword are but Words and of no Strength to secure a Man at all.”
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651
May 24, 2001
For those of you who believe that a rational, negotiated solution to the violence in Occupied Palestine is possible, I have news. It ain’t gonna happen. There is no “peace” to negotiate, and no amount of wishful thinking, pacifist sloganeering, earnest protestations or diplomatic niceties can disguise the cruel absurdity of the “peace process.”
David Ben Gurion, Israeli's first prime minister, laid it out with brutal honesty. "If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?"
Why indeed? Why should the victim of theft negotiate with the thief? All that does is legitimize the crime by making the victim and assailant moral equals. Yet, absurdly, this is precisely what the civilized nations of the world expect the Palestinians to do: Sit down with the criminal Israel and legitimize a decades-long theft of life, land and property.
In that light, what did Foreign Minister John Manley's visit to the region in mid-May really amount to? Officially, the trip was declared a success--no verbal blunders, no aggrieved parties, no lost luggage. All in all a much better show than the foot-in-mouth-plagued performance Prime Minister Jean Chrétien put on last year.
Realistically, though, it was an example of moral cowardice from a country that prides itself on its principles but has not the courage to stand behind them.
During his trip, Manley praised the report of the investigating team led by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell. “I believe the parties should use the recommendations contained in this document as a basis to end the senseless cycle of violence,” he said later in a ministry press release. "The path to ending such senseless acts lies not through escalation of the violence but through a negotiated peace settlement."
No amount of casuistry, dissembling or disinformation can lend credence to the fiction that Israel wants peace. It won't even define its borders, lest that hamper its creeping expansionism. What’s more, Israel has accepted binding UN Security Council Resolution 242, which mandates that it give back all the Occupied Territories. What's left to negotiate? Nothing.
Manley also rightly praised one of the report's key findings: the cause of the violence is the building and expansion of (illegal) Jewish settlements on Arab land. At a joint news conference with Manley, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Israel has no plans to expand the settlements, but made it clear that the government did not rule out their natural [sic] expansion. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (né Shinerman) has made no such promise.
Did Manley stand up to Peres and declare Israel the aggressor? No, but he did call upon the Palestinian authority to stop the violence. "I don't see how an Israeli government could sustain a unilateral cessation of the hostilities without something reciprocal... It's simply going to have to happen."
Manley never explains what the Palestinians have to gain by stopping, At least while the violence is overt, they can force Israel to demonstrate its cruelty to the whole world. (During the period of the “peaceful” Oslo agreement, we should remember that Israel quietly acquired 52 percent of its hold of the Occupied Territories.)
For an oppressed people, an honest war is preferable to an ignoble peace, and this politically inconvenient fact is what drives Israel and its American stooges to stop the fighting. They’re trying to return to the advice Theodore Herzl gave in 1895 regarding the Zionist tactic for physically evicting the Arabs from Palestine: “[S]pirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried away discreetly and circumspectly.”
Peace will only be possible when the world acts to compel Israel to be accountable to international law. But countries that are content to wring their hands in impotent indignation and utter banalities about “peace” and “negotiations,” are abetting Israel's dispossession of the Palestinians. In short, Canada, by its inaction, is abetting a war crime.