Israeli Partner for Peace?
I continue my sharing from the archives of Allan Solomonow and his five decades of organizing for Middle East Peace and Israel/Palestine. Moving a little closer to the present from the 1958 piece by Martin Buber and the 1970 piece by Bertrand Russell, I want to share these remarkable political cartoons from 1996 and 1998 featuring Benjamin Netanyahu from his earlier term as Israeli prime minister. Different U.S. president in the satire, but the same heavily armed attitude towards peacemaking that I find unfathomable.
These two cartoons address the confusion that prevails in the west that ignores Israel’s very long and sordid history of undermining the peace process and using violence, intimidation, assassination and militarism to do so. The point here isn’t that Palestinians haven’t ever used violent means. It is to challenge the narrative that presumes to make Israel out as a peace seeker needing a partner to work with and finding none. The leader in these cartoons (one from the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California), isn’t working for peace.
I am very tired of people asking where the Palestinian partner for peace is. From what I see in Allan’s files of both sides, propaganda materials, conference reports and news articles, major–even dominant–segments of the Jewish American and Jewish Israeli communities have been far less willing to discuss peace, make concessions, and acknowledge the people on the other side than their Palestinian counterparts. I take no joy in saying this. I wish the attitude represented in these cartoons really were limited to Netanyahu, but recent polls show that general Israeli attitudes have tanked (an appropriate term in this context) vis a vis a willingness to make peace with Palestinians. And historically, he hasn’t been alone either.
And just the other day an American diplomat called Bibi “chicken shit” for being duplicitous even as he is threatened by those further to the right in his government and in his own party. What could they possibly want that is reasonable and on the path to peace?
I am confused when people want me to denounce rockets from Gaza (usually incorrectly blamed on Hamas) fired at civilian areas while they downplay or dismiss Israeli F-16s, Hellfire missiles, white phosphorous shells, artillery shells (as untargetable as any Gazan projectile), and constant drone surveillance. Far more substantial military assets are routinely used against Palestinian neighborhoods to far more deadly and devastating effect in far greater numbers, consistently, for far longer, even when no attacks originate from Gaza or wherever. And Palestinians have a legal (some would say moral) obligation to fight against their occupiers. I’ll save the question of who and what is a civilian target for another day.
The only rationale for Palestinian disarmament would be a full renunciation of the utility of violent resistance in general. In the face of overwhelming Israeli military might, there is no balanced ask to make of Palestinians other than that they try to minimize civilian casualties also, on the premise that “TWO WAR CRIMES DON’T MAKE A RIGHT”;
Netanyahu hasn’t really changed in any positive way. Probably going back even further, his sentiments would reflect that of the cartoons and his acts currently as head of the Jewish State (sic-in my opinion, but they demand to be seen thusly). The point here isn’t that Palestinians haven’t ever used violent means. These cartoons address the confusion that prevails in the west that ignores Israel’s very long and sordid history of undermining the peace process and using violence, intimidation, assassination and militarism to do so.