March 1, 2008

Mid-East Surrender Negotiations

I hear that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is going to Israel for more so-called peace negotiations. Media reports express concerns that Hamas might play a "spoiler role." While I disagree with the sectarian (religioous) aspects of Hamas, and Israel for that matter, they have built social support structures, like health clinics, which have earned Hamas legitimacy where other corrupt "leaders" have failed.

While atrocities have been committed on both sides, it remains undisputed that Europeans came to the region following World War II and imposed themselves on a place now called "Israel and the occupied territories." The sixty-year imposition has, at its core, been an assault on the dignity of the indigenous people of the region. Sixty years of ebb and flow, but with a constant sea level rise that has increasingly drown the Palestinian lives, sometimes to the point of desperate violent reaction.

Imagine your wife, sister or daughter experiencing the indignity of giving birth in public, a fairly common occurrence due to the Israeli system of checkpoints. Imagine the death of the infant, which likely would not have occurred in a hospital setting. Imagine the number of checkpoints growing, not just at boarders but within your neighborhood, making a trip to the market a regular assault on your dignity. Imagine your grandfather being slapped in the face by a haughty 20 year old foreign soldier at a checkpoint, because your grandfather had scolded the soldier for laughing and making fun the fact that he could touch your female body during a "security" search.

Imagine the family property, held for generations, having a road or wall cut through it, settlements built on it or simply being taken away. Imagine one wall of your town home being bashed through by Israeli soldiers from one neighboring town home, and then your other wall being bashed through into the other neighboring home as part of a house-to-house search. Imagine an Israeli soldier bashes in your television for fun in the process. Imagine they take over your living room to watch a soccer game for a break, and make your entire family stay in a bedroom for the duration. Imagine uncountable, creative indignities of all stripes being imposed on you, your friends and family for sixty years. You are subhuman.

Imagine, a legitimate election brings people to power who have provided health care in your community where no one else has, who resist the indignities described above, whose leaders risk assassination in their legitiamate struggle. Then imagine a foreign power places an economic embargo on your country because they don't like the result of your democratic election. Imagine the foreign power begins to fund, arm and train the political party that lost the election. Imagine their power is so great that they control the media; your story is not heard and a distorted story is widely accepted by average people around the world. Imagine that the embargo results wide-spread power outages, ruining the little food you have in your fridge and the antibiotics in an unprepared medical clinic. Imagine this leads to the death of your lover who had an infection from a shrapnel wound caused by a helicopter rocket attack that killed your younger brother. Imagine the smell of human waste due to the intentional destruction of the sewer lines by the occupying foreign power. Imagine this also leads to the contamination of your water, which must now be boiled, a process that is increasingly difficult due to a lack of fuel associated with the years-long siege. Imagine the taste of the water. Imagine that the boiling process only kills the bacteria, but doesn't remove the toxins that are highly suspected of making people ill and causing the death of the weak or old. Imagine having to give that water to your child because your choice to do otherwise has been taken away by a foreign power.

Crushing indignities that justify resistance. A tightening squeeze that has become so brutal that brother fights brother out of frustration over resistance strategies, none of which have a chance of working in the face of global superpower dominance. Imagine you know your suffering is due, in large part, to the super power's "national security" objective of controlling oil that happens to be located in the middle east.

Imagine your grandmother telling stories of a time when Jews and non-Jews lived side by side in what is now a crippled society, never to fully recover. Imagine that "hope" means capitulation to a 60-year series of indignities, a geographically discontinuous "state" in shambles led by a puppet regime composed of those people who sold out to the occupying powers. The foreign powers will have secured the best land, will control the water, and will insist that their citizens be allowed to remain on land that was stolen by anyone's definition. Imagine the foreign powers will lift their heads high, puff out their chests, smile for the cameras in a hollow victory of securing peace.

It's not peace that's being negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians. It's surrender. We don't need peace negotiations. We need justice negotiations.

1 comment:

Fade said...

Too true. Thoughtful and insightful post. There won't be a surrender, no matter how many Palestinians the Israelis murder daily.

One of these days, if Israel cannot find it in them to promote real peace and stop with their neverending blitzkrieg, they will cease to exist. And they will have no one to blame but themselves.