Friday, March 20, 2015

What To Do About Israel

March 18, 2015

Tipping points happen. And one just did. With Benjamin Netanyahu's victory the world comes face to face with a fork in the geo-political road. 
One path would keep in place a world-view that Israel is a special case, one that requires a world with a history of wronging Jews, a world that allowed even in the 20th century, an attempt at wholesale extermination, and a world still plagued with anti-Semitism.
That's the easiest path, one that allows non-Jews of good faith to both salve their own feelings of guilt and sympathy, but also to avoid responsibility for what's happening to the other indigenous populations in the region.
Increasingly though, and particularly after the recent openly racist Israeli election, that path has lost much of its appeal and, I suspect, many are looking down that other path wondering if its time....
The problem of course is that other path is a real bugger. It means breaking up with a longterm relationship which, though often troubled, has become part of who we are. A relationship that began with us seeing ourselves as sweeping a damsel in distress into our arms and carrying her to safety, but which has now turned into something that looks and feels more like a Fatal Attraction.
Nevertheless I believe it's time to embark on that path. What does that mean in practical terms?
We no longer reflexively use our veto at the UN to block reasonable measures that Israel opposes. Instead we either abstain or, if we really like the idea (gasp) vote for it.
Tell Israel that from this day forward we will withhold $5 million dollars for every illegal settlement unit built or otherwise supported by Israel.
Begin providing direct financial aid to the Palestinian authority with close US oversight.
The US should join the handful of other countries that have formally recognized the Palestinian state, including the establishment of a US consulate on the West Bank.
In other words, balance what has been a grotesquely loopsided relationship between the US, Israel and the Palestinians. 
What about the dozens of illegal settlements Israel has set up deep inside the West Bank in order to make Palestinian state impossible? Two things can, and should happen in that regard:
The US should begin a process at the UN that would lead to a timeline and deadline for the removal of those settlers.
The PA should organize every local Palestinian community with a nearby Israeli settlement into dozens of nonviolent sieges, surround the settlements 7/24, block roads, make life difficult and, more importantly, raise the costs to Israel of defending those settlements. This will also keep the world's attention focused on the settlement issue and the Palestinians right to their own state, just like Israel. 
So, here we are folks, standing at that fork in the road. If we do nothing but what we've been doing we are going to get nothing but what we've got, only more of it. Time to yank the leash of Israel's neo-fasccst right... and right now.