Monday, June 27, 2011

The Flotilla Megilla

A megilla is defined as a long story and Gaza is certainly a long story.

Having returned from a month in Canada where it is refreshing to hear the vast majority of people speak about the realities of Gaza as they see it and for once truly reflecting the reality, I have returned to the story of the latest flotilla attempts to provoke Israel into actions which will see it once again condemned by the world at large. There are some bigotted Canadians who just can't or won't see the wood for the trees.

The following article in the National Post shows how the bigotted just do not want to be confused by facts.

Kelly McParland - National Post - June 23, 2011

Things must be getting tougher in the Hate Israel industry these days, what with Arab leaders slaughtering their own people everywhere you look, in order to hold onto their jobs.

People were killed in Egypt, people were killed in Tunisia and Bahrain, people are still being killed in Yemen, Libya and especially Syria. They’re being killed because they’d like to change the government, which you can do in Israel just by turning up to vote. They’re being killed because they’d like to be more like Israel. How can you focus the world’s attention on the despicable state of affairs in apartheid Israel when the people in neighbouring countries insist on giving up their lives in hopes of winning similar rights to those Israel already offers? It’s almost like the protesters in all those places didn’t realize that the source of all their troubles lies in Jerusalem, not in their own countries.

Hate Israel people aren’t easy to persuade, though, so they’re persevering despite the headwinds. The folks behind the
Canadian boat to Gaza sent their little contingent off on the weekend to join the heroic struggle to break the murderous Israeli blockade of Gaza and bring life-saving supplies to its besieged people. The people of Gaza aren’t really besieged, and it’s not really that hard to send them supplies, if that’s your intention, but admitting as much would spoil all the drama and self-serving bombast of the Hate Israel folks, so they’re pretending otherwise. If they’re really lucky, Israel will try to turn back the boat and they can try to provoke a confrontation, enabling them to get a ton of international publicity for themselves, which is what they live for. It might be a bit more difficult than in the past, though, since Israel may be reluctant to play along, and since the blockade has already been eased. And Turkey, which has been supportive of the flotillas, has its hands full trying to deal with the flood of civilians fleeing Syria to escape the government’s murderous campaign to put down a popular revolt. (Syria is one of those countries that kills people who challenge the government, a state of affairs the Hate Israel people have to studiously ignore.)

The United Church of Canada, or a faction within it, is also keeping up its campaign to pretend Israel is worse than the countries that want to annihilate it. A “task force” within the church which has all of 15 members
is trying to drum up support for a boycott of firms that do business in Israel. The campaign, as reported by the National Posts’ Charles Lewis, seems a little unfocused. It hasn’t been endorsed by the Church’s national body, “but it hasn’t unendorsed it either,” says Brian McIntosh, a reverend, pastor and spokesman for the campaigners. (The U.S. Senate hasn’t unendorsed it either, so I guess they must also be on board. Kind of a surprise, but there you go.)

Rev. McIntosh acknowledges that the group hasn’t called for boycotts against any of the many oppressive regimes in Africa or the Middle East, or China, where government critics get chucked in jail and members of many religious faiths may be persecuted. So why Israel?

No. 1, because Israel purports to be a democracy. No. 2, they are in violation of international law and even the UN has tried to call Israel to account. So what is left for people who want to see international law enforced? Libya just happened and the U.S. jumped to take on the presumed responsibility to protect civilians; they jumped in with all kinds of force. But they won’t do that against Israel ever because Israel purports to be a democracy.

“Purports to be”, like, they have elections and stuff. Which they don’t bother with in Syria or Libya or Bahrain. They just shoot people, which is evidently cleaner and more effective. One of the companies Rev. McIntosh wants boycotted is Indigo books, because owners Heather Reisman and Gerald Schwartz personally support a foundation that provides scholarships to Israeli soldiers. They do it on their own, but Rev. McIntosh figures they get their money from Indigo, though a quick Google search would show that Mr. Schwartz actually has one or two other business interests as well. So why pick Indigo? Rev. McIntosh doesn’t really have an answer, just as the Hate Israel people don’t really have an answer for why they hate Israel and not its murderous, repressive, anti-democratic neighbours.

They just do.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Dangers of Premature Recognition of a Palestinian State

8 Jun 2011
A unilateral declaration harms true peace, challenging the most basic principles of Mideast peacemaking, and undermines all internationally accepted frameworks for peace. All call for a mutually-negotiated and agreed resolution of the conflict. All reject unilateral actions.

Agreements should be respected. They certainly should be respected in the United Nations. Yet in just a few months time, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is expected to violate its agreements with Israel and all the international frameworks for Mideast peace by seeking premature recognition of a Palestinian state in the UN in September.

Israel remains dedicated to direct negotiations as the only method of resolving the conflict. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has long abandoned peace negotiations. Instead, the Palestinian leadership has embarked on the path of unilateral action, preferring to attempt to force their will on Israel through international pressure. It has long been the dream of the Palestinians to bypass a negotiated settlement, bypass the need for necessary compromises through the application of international coercion on Israel.

A unilateral declaration harms true peace, challenging the most basic principles of Mideast peacemaking. It undermines all internationally accepted frameworks for peace, including UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 1850 and the Roadmap for peace. All call for a mutually-negotiated and agreed resolution of the conflict. All reject unilateral actions.

The declaration of Palestinian statehood outside the context of a negotiated settlement would violate existing bilateral Palestinian-Israeli peace agreements. The important Interim Agreement from 1995, which expressly prohibits unilateral action by either side to change the status of the West Bank and Gaza, would be breached.

A unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood will do nothing to solve the conflict. Indeed, it would intensify rather than end it. The Palestinians would no longer have any incentive to negotiate and compromise. Unilateral measures will not settle any of the key permanent status issues, such as borders, Jerusalem and refugees. As has been agreed previously between the sides - and supported by the international community - these complicated issues can only be resolved in direct negotiations between the parties.

Premature recognition would ignore Israel’s legitimate concerns, especially regarding security issues. It would also allow the Palestinians to continue to avoid the important step of mutual recognition, which includes Israel’s right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people. This issue lies at the core of the conflict and its avoidance will harm efforts to reach a genuine peace.

Moreover, recognition of Palestinian statehood at this time is an untenable move as the Palestinian Authority currently fails to meet the established legal tests for statehood. In particular, the PA does not pass the test of effective government: it does not rule the territory in question. According to existing agreements, the PA exercises varying degrees of control only over relatively small areas of the West Bank. Furthermore, the PA does not have effective control over the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, despite the recent reconciliation agreement among Palestinian factions.

Recognition at this time would constitute recognition of a terrorist entity. Hamas seeks Israel’s destruction and rejects the most basic conditions of the international community for recognition as a legitimate actor in the region (recognition of Israel’s right to exist, acceptance of existing agreements and an end to violence). In preparation for the unilateral declaration of a state, the Palestinian Authority has signed a reconciliation agreement with the Hamas. Supporting this agreement without any change in position by Hamas would serve as de facto international recognition of Hamas' legitimacy. It should be remembered that Hamas continues to be recognized as a terrorist organization, outlawed in numerous states throughout the world, including the UK and the US.

On the other hand, Israel has a long proven track record of making strategic concessions for peace. It has proved its willingness to negotiate land transfers, abandoning Sinai for peace with Egypt and leaving the Gaza Strip and South Lebanon. The fact that Israeli peace steps in the last two instances were answered with rockets and violent attacks should be a sobering warning about the risks Israel takes for peace and the importance of reaching a solution that serves the interest of all sides to the conflict.

Clearly, premature recognition of a Palestinian state would render the negotiating process and the ideals of compromise and dialogue meaningless. All who desire true peace in this region should reject Palestinian efforts to act unilaterally and forsake the negotiating process. Only through direct negotiations can a lasting peace agreement be reached.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Syria's Objectives? Not in Your Newspapers

Why have the media ignored the following report by RPS (The Syrian Reform Party)?
Whether or not the opinion makers agree with RPS, its existence and activities are highly relevant to understanding the news.

RPS reports that the Assad regime has paid hundreds of farmers $1,000 each to show-up in the attempts to breach the Israel border and $10,000 to their families should any of them succumb to Israeli fire.

RPS states that it "strongly believes in ownership and title of the Golan Heights. But unlike a regime bred on the use of violence, the Syrian people, demonstrating how peaceful they are as they endure one massacre after another, believe in peaceful negotiations to repatriate our land"

Who and what is RPS? Their mission statement includes inter alia the following worthy objectives

a) to build a true democracy in a New Syria where multiple parties are represented and elections are held free from fear, intimidation, and repressive measures.

b) to help pass laws to prohibit the establishments, in a New Syria, of any political parties whose charter calls for violence against other countries or people and to disassociate itself from any other group whose aim, through violence or otherwise, is to impose their ideologies unto others.

c) moderate, in the “New Syria”, our armed forces to protect rather than threaten and to educate our internal police force to safeguard human rights and to respect human dignity.

to vacate from Lebanon and repair the damage done from years of occupation by supporting and helping all Lebanese willing to espouse transparency and accountability and to do so in an environment free from pressure.