Sunday, January 25, 2009

Israel's Horrible Peace

Three weeks after the war on Gaza, Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire but refused to terminate its so-called defensive operations. In response, Hamas declared a ceasefire for one week, until the withdrawal of Israeli troops has been completed. For many in the West, the ceasefire might seem like an occasion to celebrate, for the cessation of military hostilities on both sides will perhaps renew the peace process. But there are reasons to be critical of this ceasefire, since it continues the situation in which Israel acts unilaterally. What we are actually witnessing is a new phase of the catastrophe in Gaza. While the characteristics of this phase are not yet known, Israel's violence has become ever more evident. And perhaps this is why Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not mention the word "peace" once in the speech he gave to announce the ceasefire. The "peace process" might soon be revealed as the other side of the coin to war -- its continuation by other means -- that simultaneously feeds it.

There are at least two lessons to be gleaned from the war on Gaza. The first is to consider how both war-making and unilateral ceasefires constitute strategies for the extension of Israel's power over the Palestinian population in Gaza, as well as for the transformation of that population. Israel unilaterally demands peaceful co- existence with the Palestinians who must resign themselves to imprisonment, or otherwise threatens them with -- and practices -- the destruction of their lives. The Palestinians have two "choices" in the Israeli script: obedience or annihilation. Obedience is not an alternative to destruction, but another way that a population can be deadened within life. It entails remaking the Palestinians of Gaza into a needy recipient of humanitarian aid, thus docile and dependent. Worse, this humanitarian aid is more often denied than granted. Israel, in other words, demands that Gazans learn to live in their territorial prison for decades to come, while remaining under Israeli occupation and revealing no sign, in the form of a missile or otherwise, of their deprived existence in this world. Instead, they are commanded to remain statistics in international humanitarian agency reports, as well as stories feeding compassionate journalists. Such is the meaning of the initial Israeli and Egyptian proposals to establish a " hudna ", or truce, (meaning no Palestinian resistance) with Hamas for 15 to 30 years. A great scenario for two states in a state of war, but far from a just one when one state is occupying the land of the other party. Hamas's proposal for a one-year hudna was, in some sense, an attempt to avoid the equally disastrous options of obedience or annihilation.

As an open-ended process, peace in Gaza mobilised disciplinary and deadly operations; for one either abided by the terms of the peace process and hoped that perhaps one's grandchildren would see the end of colonisation, or one risked arrest, torture and death by Israel or its subcontractors. But worse, and as the diplomatic efforts around the war of Gaza show, peace has also become a sort of a "civilisational imperative" that the Palestinians are asked to abide by, while abandoning their resistance to the ongoing occupation. Only if they do so will they join the civilised world, or else they will be considered evil terrorists. Need we add that the operations of this civilisational imperative are far more violent than those they seek to repress? Faced with a Palestinian refusal to play along, the open-ended peace process engenders, provokes and inflames deadly operations that carry the power -- as we have seen during the three-week war -- to annihilate, erase and dismantle all that which stands in the face of the new "civilisational imperative". Peacemaking, in Palestine, and in other places in the world, is our contemporary civilising mission, and it is deadly.

The convening of the Arab Economic Summit in Kuwait may, or may not, lead to the suspension of the Arab peace initiative. The peace process between the Palestinian Authority and Israel may also survive this recent disaster. But meanwhile, Gaza reveals that what seems to be an opposition between war and peace, obedience and annihilation, is not really so. Rather, one side feeds the other and intensifies its possibilities. Therefore, it should be evident that the choice between the peace process and war making is not a real one, as these are not two radically different projects.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been subjected to Israeli occupation for 41 years. In the meantime, they were a party to a peace process for more than 18 years. Almost half of their since-1967 occupation years were spent engaged in peace performances. Should not this simple fact alert us to the affinity between peace and occupation, obedience and destruction? Might it reveal to us that peace is not always the solution to war, but is often the ground from which war is waged? And if the alert is heard, can we begin to be awakened by the chimes of peace, not only the bombs of war?

Read the entire source article by Sameera Esmeir here.

P.S. Prior to 9/11 middle-east peace activists didn't include the likes of people like myself: people who’ve learned of zionism since that date. Since learning of it, I've become outraged by it and find it absolutely repulsive, and can't see how it makes any sense. But the experienced middle-east peace activists tell me that there's good zionism and that by now that I should no longer be outraged.

These veteran middle-east peace activists have become accustomed to debating within the parameters of zionism. I don't want to talk within the parameters of zionism; I don't want to talk to zionists, rabid or nice (Dershowitz or Finkelstein). I want to talk to about dissolving zionism. I don’t want zionists in the discussion or decision. There is no nice zionism. There is no making sense with zionists. There is no possibility of peace with zionism. If you want the kind of peace that accomodates zionism, talk to someone else. I don't have the stomach for it.

It's no wonder middle-east peace activists haven't been able to achieve peace. They've been talking to zionists and trying to achieve peace while accommodating zionism. Sorry, but if you want participation from new people on the scene such as myself, you need to stop talking to zionists [which translates to kissing their asses]. I don't think it's rational, and I definitely don't want to become accustomed to it.

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