It’s Israel’s Critics, Not Its Supporters, Who Harbor Racist Attitudes toward Palestinians

On December 31, an Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian man to eighteen years in prison for the murder of a British student in Jerusalem; the culprit narrowly avoided a life sentence because of mental illness. Another Palestinian, however, did receive a life sentence on the same day: he was convicted by a Palestinian court of attempting to sell land to a Jew—a crime potentially punishable by death. Noting the scant attention paid to the second case by the Western media, which are normally so solicitous of jailed Palestinians, Stephen Daisley sees an unmistakable pattern:

Why talk about the Palestinians jailed for selling land to Jews when we can demand Israel release the Palestinians jailed for killing Jews? Why talk about the stipends paid to the families of terrorists who murder Israelis when we can condemn Israel for the security fence built to stop the terrorists getting in? Why talk about the Palestinians’ insistence that the West Bank be rendered Jew-free before they pledge to accept a state there when we can repudiate Israel’s cunning scheme to “Judaize” Judea? . . . Why, in short, face up to the real “obstacles to peace” when we can pretend building houses in the West Bank is what’s really holding things back? . . .

I’ve always railed against liberal blindness and hypocrisy on Palestinian extremism as a product of anti-Israel bias. I’m not so sure anymore. I’m starting to wonder if the real bias isn’t against the Palestinians. We expect Israel to operate like Belgium south of Beirut and castigate it for failing to live up to our values (or what we claim to be our values). We expect almost nothing of the Palestinians, and certainly not for them to conduct their affairs as we do (or tell ourselves we do). . . . .

[According to] the underlying assumptions of Western policy on the Middle East, . . . Israeli misdeeds are aberrations to be condemned and corrected while Palestinian misdeeds are shrugged off, excused, or justified. This is just who they are. The sentiment is sympathy but the logic is pure bigotry. We are not friends of the Palestinians. We are not lending them solidarity by indulging their outrages. We are treating them like a savage tribe, . . . benighted but noble in their own way, wide-eyed [and] grateful to the white man for understanding their backward customs. There is your racism.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, Racism

 

By Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan, the U.S. Has Freed Israel from “Land for Peace”

March 25 2019

In the 52 years since Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria, there have been multiple efforts to negotiate their return in exchange for Damascus ending its continuous war against the Jewish state. Shmuel Rosner argues that, with his announcement on Thursday acknowledging the legitimacy of Jerusalem’s claim to the Golan, Donald Trump has finally decoupled territorial concessions from peacemaking:

[With] the takeover of much of Syria by Iran and its proxies, . . . Israel had no choice but to give up on the idea of withdrawing from the Golan Heights. But this reality involves a complete overhaul of the way the international community thinks not just about the Golan Heights but also about all of the lands Israel occupied in 1967. . . .

Withdrawal worked for Israel once, in 1979, when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt and left the Sinai Peninsula, which had also been occupied in 1967. But that also set a problematic precedent. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt insisted that Israel hand back the entire peninsula to the last inch. Israel decided that the reward was worth the price, as a major Arab country agreed to break with other Arab states and accept Israel’s legitimacy.

But there was a hidden, unanticipated cost: Israel’s adversaries, in future negotiations, would demand the same kind of compensation. The 1967 line—what Israel controlled before the war—became the starting point for all Arab countries, including Syria. It became a sacred formula, worshiped by the international community.

What President Trump is doing extends far beyond the ability of Israel to control the Golan Heights, to settle it, and to invest in it. The American president is setting the clock back to before the peace deal with Egypt, to a time when Israel could argue that the reward for peace is peace—not land. Syria, of course, is unlikely to accept this. At least not in the short term. But maybe someday, a Syrian leader will come along who doesn’t entertain the thought that Israel might agree to return to the pre-1967 line and who will accept a different formula for achieving peace.

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More about: Donald Trump, Golan Heights, Israel & Zionis, Peace Process, Sinai Peninsula, Syria