Israel: Bibi killed the Mid-east peace process
On Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or Bibi as he is called, made his speech at the 66th session of the UN General Assembly, speaking into the same microphone as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
A day earlier, Palestinians asked the United Nations to accept them as a member state in a dramatic move on the world stage aimed at fast-tracking their quest for an independent homeland.
This was going to be a historic moment, even though the Palestinian demand is fated to be vetoed out by President Obama, who is on the cover of New York magazine’s latest edition, with the following words: the “First Jewish President” (of America).
For someone who has not heard Israel speak strongly about its desire for peace and security, Bibi’s speech was statesmanlike, sincere and praiseworthy. With childlike innocence, Bibi said he was ready to talk to the Palestinian President right there, right then. “Who’s going to stop us?” he asked.
But those familiar with Israel’s quest for peace, Bibi’s speech appeared hackneyed, pedestrian, deceitful and above all craven. He did not have the courage to attack forces opposed to Israel for what they are – forces opposed to Israel because of what Israel is. Instead, he attacked Islam first. Israel doesn’t have too many friends. Bibi takes great care to ensure this does not change.
Before going to the UN, the Israeli premier had already announced that though he was going to speak nothing new, he was going to make a speech of “truth”, a word which figured 11 times in the course of a short speech. But these were 11 half-truths and more.
One may call Bibi’s bluff, without being accused of bias against Israel. This man killed the Middle-east peace process by shifting the goalposts. Not my words, but Bill Clinton’s.
Netanyahu started by extending his hand of peace to almost all countries which matter to Israel: Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Libya and Tunisia, the North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, Lebanon and even Iran.
Then, of course, Bibi mentioned Palestine, with whom “we seek a just and lasting peace”. That Israel wants peace with Palestine is a no-brainer. Of course it wants peace. But “just peace” is not quite speaking the truth.
Cloaked in statesmanlike words, Bibi slammed “militant Islam”. “Yet a malignancy is now growing between East and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not to liberate, but to enslave, not to build, but to destroy. That malignancy is militant Islam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews, Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality.”
But was Islamist terrorism the issue at hand or Palestine’s proposal for statehood? The good thing about “militant Islam” is that it lets you deflect attention.
Bibi dubbed “militant Islam” as the “greatest danger”, a “crocodile”, but soon we heard him identify the real enemy: Iran. So why blame Islam? Because it pays to brand the Palestine-Israel issue as an Islam problem. It helps to dress a geo-political issue in a fanatical-religious garb. Iran is a good enemy to have, but Islam is just better. I am waiting to hear if Islam is going to be blamed for the double-dip recession too. And for global warming?
According to Clinton, the two main reasons for the lack of peace in Middle-east is the “reluctance of the Netanyahu administration to accept the terms of the Camp David deal” and a “demographic shift in Israel that is making the Israeli public less amenable to peace”. You can’t make this thing up. This is the former US President’s view. Between Bibi and Clinton, somebody is lying.
Netanyahu said Israel got war, in return for peace. “Israel did more than just make sweeping offers. We actually left territory. We withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and from every square inch of Gaza in 2005,” he said.
Bibi, baby, these were occupied territories. You had to leave them one day. These withdrawals were indeed bold acts of peace by Bibi’s more pragmatic and respectable predecessors.
But the mendacious Israeli Prime Minister is not naïve to know that peace in such a complex conflict doesn’t come with two withdrawals. Lebanon and Gaza were not the reasons for the conflict. They were the result of the conflict.
Netanyahu took potshots at the Palestinian President’s statement that he came to UN armed with “hope and dreams”. “Yeah, hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran…” Netanyahu said.
Bibi you forgot to mention weapons on your side of the border. Here’s a comparison: Israel has 1,964 combat aircraft, including F-16s and 600 combat copters and some of the most sophisticated drones. Palestine has none. Israel has 64 warships and 3 nuclear-capable Dolphin submarines. Palestine has none. Israel has 3,000 tanks. Palestine has none. Israel has 6,300 armoured vehicles, Palestine 50. This list doesn’t include some of the deadliest conventional and chemical bombs, and missiles. Israel is also widely rumoured to have nuclear weapons.
Bibi, as do most Israelis, loved to tell the world that this was the Promised Land of their Biblical forefathers. People with his surname, Netanyahu, walked these lands 1,000 years ago, he said.
One may wonder, without being accused of anti-Semitism, what if Buddhists all over the world should suddenly stake claim to a vast territory in India just because that’s where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment and India was where Buddhism was born?
What if the most devout Christians stake claim to Bethlehem and Jerusalem because that’s where Jesus was born and had died? What if Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population, were to annex Mecca because that’s where Prophet Mohammed was born?
But we bear in mind the great sufferings of the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis. And therefore, we say, Israel has the categorical and unqualified right to exist. So does Palestine.