C. L. Cook
Jun 30, 2006
One of the most bitter condemnations of the duly-elected Hamas government of Palestine coming from Israel, and duly echoed in the press of the world, is that organization's steadfast refusal to recognize Israel's "right to exist." As with their many well-aired grievances with the "prison populations" of Gaza and the West Bank, Israel's outrage is as ingenuous as the Jewish State's averred desire for "peace."
"You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?" - Matthew 7:15
The 'Big Question' of Israel's right to exist is never put in a context broader than the familar iteration. So, what does it mean? "Israel" is unique among entities claiming statehood, being the only "nation" in the world with no defined borders. If Hamas, or anyone else, was to answer "Yes, it has the right to exist" what would they be recognizing, and what would it constitute?
Where does "rightfully extant" Israel begin, and end?
When Hamas answers "No," what they mean is: "Israel does not have the right to exist in my homeland."
It's a sensible response, one I'm sure every other nation in the world would too assert, should they wake to find a foreign occupation in their living room. The much media-maligned president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad raised a salient point when asked his views on Israel and its rights. Ahmadinejad said, to the effect: "If America and Europe feel so guilty about the Holocaust and are so concerned for Israel's right to exist, why don't they offer them space in America, or Europe?"
Yes, why not cede Maine, or Vermont, Monte Carlo, or Belgium to the creation of the New Jerusalem?
Of course the press had a field day with Ahmadinejad's comment, contorting it into a denial of the Holocaust, and a call to "wipe Israel off the map." There appears another attack piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, a more respectable paper than it's tabloidesque masthead would imply, though a fact belied by a comment piece printed today and artfully titled: 'Iran's President is Cherishing Fanned Flames,' Its author, Frida Ghitis repeats the so-oft-said-it-must-be-true misquotation of Ahmadinejad's statement, then suggests it is Iran, not Israel responsible for the bombs, missiles, and bullets raining down upon the Palestinians!
But, dodging criticism of Israel's long litany of evil deeds is a hallmark of the western press; as indeed it's so for Israel itself: Israel is unique among entities claiming statehood in other, instructive ways.
Israel holds the record for ignoring U.N. resolutions regarding it's nearly sixty year annexation and occupation of Palestine. Though it was Saddam's well-publicised refusal to heed U.N. resolutions that led to sanctions and invasion, no-one down at the U.N., or in the war cheerleading western press, is calling for 'Shock and Awe' in Tel Aviv because Israel refuses to heed international law.
Israel is unique among Middle-East nations in having the most nuclear weapons, largest military, and an unknown array of WMD; another thing that proved so costly to Hussein's Iraq.
Israel claims it is unique in being the only "democratic" country in the ME, though the laws favour the Jewish majority, being officially and avowedly a "Jewish" nation. Just today, four Israeli-Palestinians from Jerusalem were stripped of their citizenship"right" to live within the walls of the city of their respective births without permits, not likely to be issued any time soon, for the heinous crime of being elected members of the Hamas government.
I suppose, if they are released from prison, those representatives of the people will be sent packing to the target range also known as Gaza, to eke out a living on whatever scraps can be smuggled in, and what few crumbs Israel allows to penetrate the walls and watchtowers surrounding it.
The Jewish State government, and its supporters and enablers in the press and within the American Christian fringe say God promised the Jews' antecedents the land known as Israel today (and much more land besides). Jehovah couldn't be reached for confirmation at the time of writing, but it seems a thin case for ownership. I'm no lawyer, but if, "God said I could have it" is the gist of Israel's argument I don't think it would hold up in court.
Equally, "the Devil made me do it" would be a weak defense in the war crimes tribunals trying the many instances of brutality meted upon the heads of the innocent in Palestine. But there's yet to be a case made for the thousands killed, and hundreds of thousands routinely brutalized, incarcerated, and scattered into exile over the decades of Israel's rule in Palestine. The Belgian court had had the temerity to level charges against the now infirm former Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon for his culpability in the infamous slaughter of the women, children, and old men at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in southern Lebanon in 1982, but pressure brought to bear shut that challenge down.
With the possible exception of its major benefactor, the United States of America, Israel alone among "nations" commits serial crimes against humanity with impunity. Its lies and "regrettable mistakes" are legion, all carefully transcribed by the major television networks and dutifully repeated in the newspapers. "It isn't Israel's fault," they contend, it was those devilish Palestinians, Iranians, Lebanese, Iraqis, Jordanians, Syrians, Egyptians, Libyans that made them do it."
A part of being a grown up, whether for an individual or a nation state, is learning to take responsibility for ones actions. We would not say; "children, because they're yet responsible, shan't have the right to exist," but we don't generally give them loaded guns, the keys to the car, or a bank card; not until they can prove they can handle these things and understand there are consequences to be paid for irresponsible behaviour can they be trusted.
Like a petulant, spoiled child, Israel refuses to accept responsibility for its actions, opting instead to lie bald-faced, as a child might deny stealing the cookies, while her face bears the crumbs, and her hand is in the jar. She may blame a sibling, or the dog, or the guy living next door, and should she persist in the lie long enough, she may even convince herself it is "true," but that does not change the facts.
The facts today in Gaza are clear: Innocent women, children, and men are dying for no other reason than they are Palestinians, with the misfortune to have been born upon coveted ground. They are killed with horrible regularity. So often do they die in fact, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's reporter in the field, Adrienne Arsenault, while reporting from the Israeli side of the issue, quite innocently, unconsciously, informed Canadians that Israel's artillery barrages and air raids over Gaza could be bad for its image if the numbers of civilian deaths there proved "significant." No word on where Adrienne's line lies: How many dead, maimed, and traumatized equals "significant," Adrienne?
Though the hated Hamas had called a unilateral cease-fire in it's ongoing resistance to occupation for the last 16 months, Israel continued to assassinate the party's leaders, and a commando kidnapping raid into Gaza snatched two high-ranking Hamas officials just days before the now world famous grabbing of young Corporal Shalit, a provocation apparently made to order for one desiring cover to punish further the Palestinian people.
So the question: "Does Israel have the right to exist?" still stands unanswered. But a better question, given Israel's record of the unrepentant killings of innocent women, children, and men with impunity might be:
Chris Cook is a contributing editor to www.pacificfreepress.com, and hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada.