The rap on the Palestinians has been that “they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” But after badly playing America and Israel’s game for decades, they may finally be wising up by ‘going global’ and putting their case before the world at the United Nations.
You know the tides have turned when America’s leading newspaper, The New York Times, leads off a hand-wringing story on the Arab Spring by asking: “What if the Palestinians’ quest for recognition of a state at the United Nations, despite American pleas otherwise, lands Israel in the International Criminal Court?”
Politics is first about the relationships and priorities of peoples, not the affairs and machinations of states.
But if politics is first an expression of the collective psyche of a people, how does that redound to the highest expression internationalism—the United Nations?
The Security Council is the staid haggling chamber of states; the General Assembly is the raucous stadium of the peoples of the world. The Palestinian people have no prospect of obtaining redress from the former, but they’re about to get recognition from the latter.
Israel, a state born of genocide and forged by decades of literally fighting for its survival, has become sclerotic with obsessive concern for security. Increasingly isolated though backed by the United States, it is being backed into a corner by its own shortsighted policies. Indeed, Israel stands on the verge of becoming a global pariah, and taking America with it.
The nincompoop Netanyahu, fearing even greater right-wing yahoos in Israel (namely, his key coalition partner, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman), is going to address the General Assembly ahead of the Palestinian bid for statehood.
“Israel doesn’t get a fair hearing in the General Assembly, I have decided to go and tell the truth,” Israel’s dissembler-in-chief said with a straight face, using half-truths in one context to cover outright lies in another.
Contrast that with a statement by the usually morose but “positively lighthearted” Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas: “We’re going to the UN to ask for the legitimate right of full membership, and we’ll take with us the suffering and hope of our people.”
Israel and the United States are harrumphing about “the necessity of give and take” in the peace process. But ‘give and take’ doesn’t apply when one side holds all the cards and has all the power.
The Palestinians are “throwing down a challenge to Israel and the Americans,” according to the BBC. They may finally be learning how to play the game. Though there are great risks, they could change the terms and the dynamic decisively in their favor.
Looking at once weary, resolute, and ominous, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice declaratively uttered: “The reality is that nothing is going to change [by a vote for Palestinian statehood in the UN]; “there won’t be anymore sovereignty, there won’t be anymore food on the table.” Just who appointed her the Delphic Oracle?
Insisting that “there is no shortcut,” Rice made an absurd attempt to short circuit the Palestinian bid for statehood in the UN, and managed to again shortchange the Palestinian people after more than half a century of displacement and denial. “There is no shortcut” must feel like a slap in the face to them.
The state of Israel, born of the Holocaust, has had reason to fear for its security, if not its very existence. But now it’s armed to the teeth with conventional and nuclear weapons, as well as backed by the mega-military of the United States.
The global context is the right approach for the Palestinians. As in all things in life, the failure to take risks for the good (in Israel’s case, something approaching justice for the Palestinian people) allows ill winds to gather force and fury, not the other way around, as the Obama Administration maintains.
When security is continually put before all else, it distorts political life, both within and between nations, and generates insecurity for all. This is the lesson to be drawn from a decade of “The Global War on Terror” since 9.11.
Instead, America and Israel stand on the verge of becoming fortress nations, turning their backs on the world, and humanity.
Millions of suppressed Muslims have been risking their lives to have some measure of the freedoms we used to see as our birthright in the United States.
So it’s sadly ironic, after winning office on a campaign of hope, that the best argument the Obama Administration can muster against this forthright and forceful move by Palestinians on the world stage is that it “risks raising the hopes of average Palestinians.”
My fellow citizens in the United States would do well to recall our own hard-won freedoms, and not through the sickly sentimentality of Tea Party patriots. We can no longer have things both ways, and need to get on the right side of history.