“Hang on Sloopy,
Sloopy hang on”
—Hang On Sloopy, The McCoys
Obama’s desperate. Even certain unnamed Israeli officials are desperate. Mahmoud Abbas has had it with U.S. wimpitude and Israeli nyetitude and threatened to resign. He raises the specter of the dismantlement of the PA, which might force Israel to resume adminstration of the West Bank–something Israel devoutly wishes to avoid. Alternatively, Abbas raises the possibility of a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood blessed by the Security Council.
So how does the Obama administration respond? According to the NY Times’ Ethan Bronner, with the usual bromides and half measures…hang on, Mahmoud they beg:
American and Israeli officials are contemplating a series of steps to persuade Mr. Abbas to stay. They include a marked intensification of security and economic coöperation, more money, invitations to Western capitals, robust statements of support, prisoner releases and efforts to draw Arab states more fully into the process.
I mean really. What in this list is substantive and anything more than window dressing? Doesn’t Obama realize that even those gluttons for punishment, the Palestinians, will see through this empty gesture. Does the U.S. think that the PA can live by “robust statements of support??” And how will they draw the Arab states into the process when they’ve desperately tried to do so and failed thus far? If this wasn’t so f’ing serious I’d actually be laughing. This gives Abbas everything but what he really needs: genuine accomplishments.
Israelis understand “facts on the ground.” That’s what they used to call settlements in the days when Ariel Sharon was Housing minister and building a settler presence in the Territories. That’s what Mahmoud Abbas wants. Not rhetoric, not statements, but genuine facts on the ground. Barack and Bibi–if you can’t muster that you might as well just close up shop and go home. Then you can leave the field to the wild-eyed men of hate on both sides. Let the bombs fly for that the language of violence is the only speech the two sides seem to apprehend.
Why in God’s name would Abbas want to stay under these conditions? He’d be crazy to do so. Better to resign and retain some dignity than continue and be the butt of Palestinian jokes and worse and the object of Israeli condescension.
Ever the pro-Israel Pollyana, Bronner can’t avoid throwing a bone to Salaam Fayyad’s ridiculous two-year plan for Palestinian statehood–a plan which is something like telling the Planning Commission what your plans would have been for a piece of property that’s on fire and in the process of burning down:
Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, opposes seeking international recognition of a state. Instead, he has put forth a two-year plan aimed at building institutions and security so that the future state will be strong, transparent and well-run.
We might as well call a spade a spade. At this rate, the much vaunted Obama peace initiative is dead and we will have to look elsewhere for ways to advance the peace process; or at least prevent it from falling even farther into the ditch than its already gone. Similarly, with Obama butting his nose out of the I-P conflict, this leaves the Netanyahu government free and clear to pursue virtually any policy it wishes to continue the Occupation and further the aims of Judaizers seeking to evict Palestinians and further constrain their presence in Jerusalem and the West Bank. This leaves the Israeli right triumphant at least for the time being.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope Obama, who seems to be a gifted and persevering fellow, can surprise me. But the record to this point doesn’t augur well for that.
That means that processes and peace activism spearheaded by the human rights NGOs like the BDS movement and the Goldstone Report will become even more important than they already are. If the powers that be aren’t yet prepared to do the right thing and bring the Israeli Occupation to its knees, then the world progressive community will have to continue and intensify its campaign. And Israel and its supporters should expect the continuation of the erosion of its support in the world. They should expect intensifying cries for justice in international legal venues. Pressure will mount even if it won’t be coming from governments like the U.S. or EU. The punishment will come slowly and gradually till eventually it will be death (of the Occupation) by a thousand cuts.