Monday, December 10, 2007

After Annapolis

So the Summit has come and gone, and with it plenty of conclusions, most of them very negative (from the reporters and scholars who matter). Although many have been too quick to denounce the outcome of Annapolis, especially considering it wasn't really a discourse that was meant to have any finality, more resembling a precursor towards negotiations: a negotiation to negotiate in the future, there really is still time that Annapolis could amount to something positive rather than the typical failed processes that we have experienced time and time again.

Yes, Jerusalem was off the table; correct, the separation wall wasn't discussed; and in fact, nothing about the dismantlement of settlements was even on the minds of Bush and Olmert, but the reaction of Olmert has been quite earth shattering. How about the Israeli Prime Minister? I have to hand it to him: even with all the pressure that is amounting against him, the debacle of the 2006 Lebanese War, and now the paralysis of stalemate that has the Knesset calling for his head, he has the audacity to evoke the apartheid analogy, the exact same one that Jimmy Carter et al has been vilified for. This is Israel's PM; who would be bold enough to label him an "anti-Semite"? Here are those famous quotes:

"If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished."

That was a quote from a Ha'aretz article back in '03. Clearly Olmert is not a stranger to the happenings of Israel's separation policy.

"He warned of a "South African-style struggle" which Israel would lose if a Palestinian state was not established."

This is what many of Israel's best dissidents have been saying for years: that Israel's path is only contributing to its own destruction. Just as South Africa refused to see the truth and confronted their "terrorists" with only more aggression and repression, Israel has stepped up its own form of censorship and regression against Palestinians who resist, and Israel's more famed detractors. The many violations of human rights, numerous UN resolutions ignored, and behaviour that borders on impugnity, backed by the biggest superpower today, only give credence that Israel is a pariah state. Omar Barghouti insensatively reacts at Israel's sustained mentality of impugnity:

"Israel realises that its vast influence over Congress automatically translates into substantial, albeit indirect, influence over Europe. Israelis, therefore, do not particularly care about European public opinion."

It has the US in its "back pocket". The biggest bully is your protection, so the brains can do what he wants, wiggle his nose at his enemies, and get spoiled in the process. They will claim the entire land, and leave the trash to the Palestinians, literally.

And what of Gaza? Were they not part of the original Palestinian state? I guess with Hamas around, no one is part of this process from Gaza. Israel just continues their assaults, and even threatens to escalate the conflict into a full-scale invasion of Gaza, to stop those pesky Qassam rockets. Any chance of a ceasefire despite the fact that Hamas wants to collaborate in the sham? What if

"It is time for Israel to try something new. Something that requires more courage than long-distance assassination and the obsessive use of the word no.

As we have seen with our once-arch enemy Egypt, and our longtime enemy Syria, if you can kill them, you can talk with them...

Either way, they can forget it...The Qassams will continue unless and until we engage Hamas in talks over a cease-fire, the first step in a process that may take generations - mutual recognition of Israel and Palestine."

Maybe not? More invasions occur. Hamas continues to be isolated, making people forget that they were once the elected party to represent the Palestinians, not Mahmoud Abbas.

So the theatre of handshakes took place. Why not say it for what it was? It was a process that wasn't meant to succeed. It was something that was fluff, pure dribble that would amount to nothing, only speculation and nothingness. Daniel Levy said the "expectations were very low". Keep them low and you won't be disappointed. Everyone was disappointed that this process took place anyway. Phyllis Bennis put it best:

"Myth #12) Annapolis was a failure.

If we understand Annapolis for what it really was, it may prove to be a great success. The Arab regimes can go home with transcripts of their own speeches, whether bluster or statesmanlike, and show their people how they stood up to Israel and the U.S., and how they helped the Palestinians. They can then show more willingness the next time Bush asks them for fly-over rights, for base rights, for political support. And Condoleezza Rice got her photo-ops. Her legacy, too early to say.

But based on its real, however unacknowledged, goals, Annapolis may turn out to be a great success."

And so is Annapolis: it's too early to say. The deadline is for the end of 2008. That's a long, long time. Failure is the in cards, but from the looks of things, a turn around could be at hand. Since when could we actually listen to an Israeli PM resort to the apartheid analogy, a comparison so odious in the right that it has took the respect away from President Jimmy Carter? Phillip Weiss recently blogged about his experience at an Israel Policy Forum leadership meeting.

"There was throughout the evening the strong feeling, and what a testament to the IPF this is, that Yes there is an Israel lobby, and it is many of the people in this room, and the time has come to take your foot off the breathing tube of the Palestinians. It was a wonderful evening because here was a strongly Jewish and Zionist audience but it was willing to hear from Arabs and Arabists. There was no noxious whiff of stinking neoconservatism the whole night. God bless. There was also the strong sense that without the American Jewish community allowing Washington to become more independent, this moment will be lost. Israelis and the Palestinians cannot do this on their own, they require muscling intervention."

Discussion is opening up. Zionism is on the decline. And the Knesset is being confronted with racism reports that embarass the members. Annapolis could still amount to something if more of this is welcomed.

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