Saturday, October 1, 2011

Carpe Annum, Israel. Seize the Year!

By Shamez Babvani and Samreen Hooda
A view of the settlement Bat Ayin in Gush Etzion                            
 A view of the settlment Bat Ayin in Gush Etzion 
On Tuesday September 27, the Israeli government announced it would be building 1,100 new settlelement units in occupied East Jerusalem. The fact that the announcement came as the world powers are scrambling to save the peace process in the UN suggests that Israel may not be serious about its desire to abide by the promise of a Two-State Solution. Meanwhile, there has been growing protests across Israel as the country’s citizens are increasingly voicing their frustration with a government that no longer listens to their needs. As tensions continue to mount both domestically and abroad, Israel faces rebuke from most of the world powers, with the sole exception of its blindfolded ally, the United States.
After the fiery attack made by Israeli forces on the Turkish aid flotilla heading to Gaza last year, the country lost hope of forging stronger alliances within the Middle East and the wider Arab world. When asked to apologize for a preemptive strike on a Freedom Flotilla carrying only activists, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, responded by saying Israel should not be apologetic for protecting itself. Of course, every sovereign nation has a right to protect itself from bandits, terrorists, and attacks, though it’s hard to recall the last time activists were secretly employed to attack a nation. Israel’s strike killed 9 Turkish activists and injured over 50 others over international waters in a ship that clearly had the Turkish flag waving above it. We may never know what the Israeli government was thinking when it refused to simply step up and apologize for an attack it admittedly took credit for. Besides the clear humanitarianism of an apology for killing innocent people, some of them shot multiple times and at close range, Israel also made a huge political blunder. Turkey has now expelled the Israeli ambassador and cut all military cooperation, meaning Israel has lost its most important ally in the Middle East.
With the reign of Mubarak over in Egypt and with last week’s news of Egyptian locals storming the security wall in front of the Israeli embassy, you would think that Israel would be anxious about its future relationships in a predominately Arab world. Especially now when even local Egyptians who were previously supportive of or at least neutral toward Israel are protesting against any support the new Egyptian government may lend to its erstwhile ally. Yet Israel seems to sidestep all the rules of international diplomacy and play by those of its own game. This is not the wisest of decisions especially as the United Nations General Assembly is considering a vote on the issue of recognizing a Palestinian state. With Israel alienating the only allies it has, the vote may very well circumvent the default American veto by sidestepping the Security Council and going straight to the general assembly, where the Security Council vetoes don’t stand up, and Israel has earned little political capital.
Israel has a very short window in which to make a major decision. With the fervor of the Arab Spring changing the regional landscape, the key world players are beginning to avert their gaze from Israel’s monopoly over the contested region. At the same time, the renewal of Islamic leadership in the Arab World and the resurgence of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, will show little, if any, interest in Israel’s security. In this strenuous time, Israel’s decisions will prove critical to the future environment of the Middle East, and to its own future security. Will Israel support the international community and do what everyone knows needs to be done, or will it continue down the path of pundit politics and play the injured victim card yet again? Only time will tell. We can merely hope that this time Israel won’t repeat the mistakes of it’s past.
Whether Israel, and Netanyahu, realize it or not, abiding by the commitment to continue peace talks with Palestine is more in Israel’s favor than ever before in history. If the Israeli government is able to quickly commit to a treaty of peace with Palestine before the freshly placed Arab leaders have a chance to commence on the issue of Israel and Palestine, it might just save itself from the onslaught of Arab resentment and save the region- perhaps even the world- from yet another war of worldwide proportions. As an Auschwitz survivor famously once said, “If we forget our past, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes.” The power to save itself from self-destruction is now in the hands of Israel’s government. Will it repeat the mistakes of its past by turning back on its word to extend peace talks or will it take the path less trodden and set the stage for a newer, freer world order? Time is running out. Carpe Annum, Israel. Seize the year!
-This article was published first on Aslan Media blog on 30/09/2011-Shamez Babvani and Samreen Hooda are Aslan Media Contributors

No comments:

Post a Comment