Notes from the suicide watch

Reopening 1948: Israel made another step towards a transformation into a bi-national state Sunday, when the Supreme Court legitimized the Palestinian right of return. Naturally, that’s not what the Court had in mind, but that was the result.

The Court decided that a large part of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood belongs to the heirs (and so-called heirs) of Jews residing there prior to the 1948 war. The Custodian General and several associations of settlers have declared their intention to evict Palestinian families living there for over forty years, and do so soon.

The Jews residing in Sheikh Jarrah in the 1940s fled their homes during the great ethnic cleansing – indulged by both sides, one of which was more organized and hence successful – of 1947. The Jordanian Custodian General settled some Palestinians refuges there; but since he was performing his office faithfully, he refrained from selling the land and houses and insisted on leasing them. The Israeli Custodian General had no such qualms and sold captured Palestinian property with abandon.

The Court’s decision means that if Israel was, until recently, still arguing about the conquests of 1967, now the events of 1948 that have been reopened for discussion. If Jews can claim and win lands lost in 1948, then justice demands that Palestinians should be allowed to do the same regarding the lands stolen and appropriated from them. Our esteemed leaders may consider the fact that Palestinian claims are much, much bigger. And well documented.

Of course, since this is a Jewish state, Israel will allow nothing of the sort. Our law books are laden with acts of injustice and decrees of iniquity, which declare all the Palestinian lands of 1948 (and much more beside, confiscated by legal schticks after 1949) to be lost.

But these are laws based on what former prime minister Golda Meir famously termed “Jewish justice” – that peculiar sense that since Jews have been abused repeatedly over the ages, they deserve to get some kicks back. It was not very convincing in the 1970s and one suspects it will be even less effective now. But hey, if official Israel insists on losing the last shreds of legitimacy of the Zionist regime – in East Jerusalem or the UN General Assembly – who am I to protest?

Notes from the suicide watch
Confrontation between police and demonstrator, Sheikh Jarrah (photo: Yossi Gurvitz)

The Lieberman Government

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, spoke yesterday (Tuesday) in the General Assembly. I used to think Silvan Shalom (“a caricature of a foreign minister”, as he was aptly termed by Ehud Olmert) was terrible; but Lieberman, who can be described aptly as a grotesque of a foreign minister, was actually much, much worse.

The person speaking before the UN wasn’t Lieberman the foreign minister; it was Lieberman, fascist party leader. He basically pissed on his boss, Netanyahu, in public, when he said the following:

  1. There’s no chance of peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the following generation. (This is in direct contradiction of official government policy).
  2. Any peace agreement will be based on the expulsion – Lieberman used the more politically correct “population exchange” – of the Israeli Arabs.  – i.e., Lieberman publicly declared Israel’s commitment to finishing the ethnic cleansing of 1947-1948.

Now, you would imagine that, Israel being a democratic country and all, a foreign minister pulling this kind of trick would reciceive his dismissal note from the government, preferably by fax, as soon as he stepped down from the UN dais. That, unfortunately, is not what happened.

Proving once more backbone is something he heard distant rumors of, Netanyahu instead informed the world that Lieberman does not represent the Israeli government. Which is strange, since representing the government to foreign governments is generally considered to be the raison d’etre of a foreign minister.

Furthermore, Netanyahu not only refrained from firing Liebmerman, he also refrained from rebuking him since – according to his inner circle, or at least those of it willing to speak with Haaretz – he does not consider his views to be illegitimate.

Netanyahu aides claim he can’t fire Lieberman since that would be the end of his coalition. Please, do not insult our intelligence. Should Lieberman leave the coalition, Livni would be happy to jump in. But that would move the government to the center-left, and Netanyahu does not want that.

The proper conclusion from all this is that Netanyahu’s talk of peace is hot air. The axis of his government, the person he can’t do without, is Lieberman. Netanyahu, it ought to be repeated, does not consider Lieberman’s ideas to be worthy of a rebuke. That, and his insistence on keeping Lieberman in the government, should tell us all there is to tell about Israeli commitment to peace.