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This is the most dangerous peace process of all

Israel/Palestine
on 13 Comments
Kerry, US gov't photo

John Kerry (Photo: US gov)

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Tell it like it really is.

The unfolding tragedy in Syria demands accountability. The various players, including Saudi Arabia, refuse to admit they are fueling the cycle of violence. Worse, the players don’t seem to care. The United States is mute on Saudi Arabia’s complicity. The United States is mute on its own complicity.

Oil can’t be handled with euphemisms. Oil speaks. The powerful follow.

With winter’s arrival, few people know the corruption of our world as Syrians do. No matter the recent UN declaration that Syria is the worse emergency in its history. Syria will remain at the mercy of theologies, ideologies and power.

The Syrian people aren’t in a emergency situation. They’re experiencing total dereliction.

Speaking of another never ending emergency, John Kerry has lost any claim to being an honest broker between Israel and Palestine. Predictably, he is feeding Israel everything it can devour. Palestine is reduced to rummaging for crumbs under the table.

For American foreign policy the Israel/Palestine end game has moving goal posts. Over the last days, state institutions as a societal and political test have replaced a Palestinian state. Israeli troops on Palestine’s borders have replaced Jordanian troops. All of this is to ostensibly protect Palestine from itself.

State institutions – preparing Palestine for statehood – euphemisms multiply.

Because Kerry has fumbled Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, it has become a front burner issue. What such recognition might mean to a victorious Israel is difficult to fathom.

“Jewish state” is another euphemism. But for what?

Whatever Jewish state may have meant in theory, in reality it has become interchangeable with unaccountability for injustice. Today it means pursuit of empire without concern for the cost to others.

“Jewish state” has become a synonym/understatement for everything that’s wrong in the world. That and not anti-Semitism is the reason Israel is singled out. As well it comes with the territory. If Jews see themselves as a light unto the nations, Jews can’t complain when Israel’s dark deeds are highlighted.

Israel is debasing the Jewish ethical tradition – including the prophetic – making it a euphemism for power over others.

Someday, Palestine will become an autonomous entity with the possibility of becoming an (un)real state. Israel, Jordan and Egypt will patrol the borders of the West Bank and Gaza. Jerusalem, well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? So goes the latest euphemistically-defined peace process.

Kerry promises that this peace process is different than the others. I believe it is the same but much more dangerous because the end game is finally in sight. With or without signing a document, Palestine’s fate is clear. Unless there is a reversal of unparalleled magnitude, realistically rather than euphemistically speaking there’s no way out for Palestinians.

Reversal would be a miracle. Even those Christians hawking Christmas as an endless shopping expedition can’t promise the type of miracle Palestinians need.

Palestinians have looked in vain for their savior. “Savior” for Palestinians has become just one more euphemism for defeat.

To make matters worse, negotiating the end only presages worse times ahead. This is because the end is only another step in finishing off Palestine. Herein lay the ultimate tragedy.

At Oslo, Palestinian leadership surrendered Palestine. What did they get in return? Israel tightened the noose. Any agreement signed by Israel and Palestine will tighten the noose further. For that matter, if no agreement is signed, Israel will tighten the noose anyway.

So what is the Palestinian Authority doing in this no-win situation other than highlighting its place on the UN emergency list? Making matters worse by prevaricating on everything. Why this caution at the end?

A few days ago, President Abbas once again undercut the BDS movement by pronouncing what is and isn’t legitimate dissent for Palestinians and their supporters. Abbas demands BDS be limited to the occupied Palestinian territories.

Yet limiting BDS evades the central issue. Only by confronting Israeli power can the occupation be challenged.  The occupation involves all of Israel’s institutions and Israeli society at large.

Limiting calls for action to the settlements and it products or academics associated with compromised Israeli universities is fine for euphemistic grandstanding. It demonstrates that Israel’s right to exist – whatever that means in a world of nation-states – is respected. Such half measures are weak. They ultimately grant Israel everything it already has taken.

Would Israel having conquered Palestine, then stopping there, be a victory for BDS? Palestinians within what is now Greater Israel will enjoy only the freedoms a ghettoized reality offers.

Having lost Palestine why doesn’t the Palestinian Authority cast every tried and failed political method to the wind and go for broke?

President Abbas should refuse to meet with Kerry. Better yet, Abbas should turn his back on Kerry in a public setting. He should have his security detail impolitely show Kerry the door.

Palestinians have already lost their world. There’s no reason for them to lose their soul.

Of course, the Palestinian Authority would have to dispense with the euphemisms that legitimate its power.

When power loses its euphemisms, there isn’t much left, is there?

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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13 Responses

  1. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    December 19, 2013, 10:30 am

    Bravo Marc Ellis, The Palestinian leadership have had too much faith in the “honest broker” their view is that if only the US can be pursued ed to see the Palestinian position, then as reasonable people the US will back us, WRONG, the US are the Israelis Attorneys, the Israelis don’t need them anyway since all the Israeli negotiators are “Philadelphia lawyers” or their equivalent in any case, if the Palestinians quote International law, the lead Israeli negotiator Ms Livni will say “I am a lawyer but I am against law… International law in particular.. Law in general” that’s fine, but the Palestinians are not totally screwed, they still have the ICC option and applying to all the UN Agencies for membership, then a possible approach to the ICJ, lets wait and see if the Judges at the ICC agree with Livni over Geneva 49.6, I suspect after the Judges have made their decisions Ms Livni’s traveling arrangements will have to be curtailed.

    • HarryLaw
      HarryLaw
      December 19, 2013, 3:00 pm

      I think the Palestinians should co opt Hostage onto their negotiating team, he would soon expose their snake oil salesmen.

      • Walid
        Walid
        December 20, 2013, 5:19 am

        Abbas is there to ensure that Palestinians don’t go anywhere near the ICC or the UNHRC. Hostage would tell you that Abbas powerless to do so anyway because it may contravene the Paris Accords. These accords appear applicable to Palestinians only.

  2. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    December 19, 2013, 11:06 am

    Even those Christians hawking Christmas as an endless shopping expedition can’t promise the type of miracle Palestinians need.
    I am confused what that means.

    Christians who sell (hawk) Christmas to people as shopping cannot promise the miracle of two states? Why would they? How is selling Christmas as shopping very miraculous?

    • marc b.
      marc b.
      December 19, 2013, 11:41 am

      I am confused what that means.

      me too. a clunky bit of writing/logic in an otherwise excellent essay.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        December 20, 2013, 12:17 am

        As you know, he sometimes has a stream of consciousness style of writing, like a personal journal, and he often makes various “interfaith” remarks. If you are right, the comment about Christians “selling” Christmas got inserted randomly.

    • Walid
      Walid
      December 20, 2013, 5:26 am

      “How is selling Christmas as shopping…”

      In the same way selling the holocaust as the justification that allows Israel its excesses and the need to hold on to the Valley.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        December 20, 2013, 12:56 pm

        Yeah, I guess you can say Christmas is supposed to be about a religious leader who was nonmaterialist, so selling it as shopping is “miraculous”…

  3. Citizen
    Citizen
    December 19, 2013, 11:08 am

    Abbas is squeezed by both the only superpower, manifest by Kerry, the fake hero of Vietnam, and by Bibi N, the guy who learned relatively early by his time in the US ivy league, misguided goy sperm for US foreign policy, conflating Israel with America, that America is “easily moved” toward AIPAC-Israeli agenda.The Palestinians don’t stand a chance for justice.

  4. Keith
    Keith
    December 19, 2013, 4:33 pm

    “…the end game is finally in sight. With or without signing a document, Palestine’s fate is clear…. realistically rather than euphemistically speaking there’s no way out for Palestinians.”

    Sad, but true. It seems that the Egyptian coup by el Sisi may have been the straw that broke the Palestinian back. Some Arab spring.

    And the Syrians have it even worse. Who could have predicted that Al Qaeda terrorists would be utilized as empire’s middle eastern intervention forces? Obama’s scorched earth diplomacy. There is a method to the madness just as surely as there is a madness to the method.

  5. ToivoS
    ToivoS
    December 19, 2013, 9:22 pm

    Marc Ellis, good description for what is going on in these latest “negotiations”.

    I have said this before, but to repeat myself: Kerry and Obama have given up on any kind of settlement that would accepted to the the Palestinians. They have made a trade. Obama wants to complete a negotiated settlement with Iran. He is throwing the Palestinians to Israel’s mercy in exchange. A negotiated peace treaty with Iran would become Obama’s most important accomplishment as president. I happen to agree with that statement. In exchange he is giving the lobby the WB lands that they desire. Not a bad trade in my estimation given that Obama is powerless to oppose the lobby on the questions of Palestine in the first place.

    Of course this deal will not change much. It will simply delay the Palestinian question beyond Obama’s term. There will still be 9 million Palestinians left who will be demanding justice. Even as it seems probable, Abbas will sign off on Kerry’s plan (why not, he stands to make millions, if not 100s millions dollars in return) the Palestinian people will still exist and will still be demanding justice. It just means that the war will continue. Hopefully, there will be a change inside the US where we finally come to a very sensible conclusion: It is not our problem, let the Israelis and Palestinians fight it out on their own.

  6. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    December 20, 2013, 1:04 am

    RE: “Israel is debasing the Jewish ethical tradition – including the prophetic – making it a euphemism for power over others.” ~ Marc Ellis

    MY COMMENT: “Pastor” John Hagee is living proof of the (Elmer) Gantrification of Zionism.

    P.S. Sinclair Lewis rocked! Burt Lancaster, too.

  7. ivri
    ivri
    December 20, 2013, 9:40 am

    Well, there is a much simpler explanation to it all: there is simply not enough space for two real countries in such a very small piece of land – I think many often forget the geography. Example: the distance between the Mediterranean and the old green line near the population-congested center of Israel at the city of Netanya is 7(!!!) miles. Can a modern country as Israel live within such boundaries in the practical sense of things? Would a mini superpower as Israel go back to that on its own will whatever pressure is applied? Would the US force its main ally to do that? Would anybody uproot hundreds of thousands of people in the West-Bank and could that be a formula for peace? After you consider all that and other realted key issues you see that the rest is just details

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