Six countries voted against the (non-binding) U.N. General Assembly Resolution calling out to Israel something like "Mr. Sharon, Tear Down that Wall", or to implement the World Court's decision finding Israel's new security barrier violates international law and steals Palestinian land (and to the extent the barrier deviates from the "Green Line"-- which it does for much of its length-- it does). Those six countries are: Israel itself (which has publicly stated it will ignore the ruling, and pointed out a heavily anti-semitic motivation for both the World Court decision and GA resolution, i.e., the wall makes it harder for Palestinians to kill Jews), the United States (no surprise, there), Australia (PM Howard moving ever closer to lockstep with the American Imperium), and three Pacific island American dependent/vassal states: Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau (all of which have U.S. postal zip codes, IIRC).
I'll tell you why I find this interesting-- and its not because the Palestinians seem to be in an internal meltdown themselves, including the PA PM Qurea tendering his resignation and unrest in Gaza (kidnappings and protests over Arafat appointing a close relative as security chief and other standard cronyism and corruption that defines Arafat's rule). Israel continues its brutal business as usual, and frankly, the security fence, built largely around the Jenin area so far, from which many suicide bombers were launched, and terrorist attacks are way, way down (Israeli officials estimate down around 80%). And at this point, if American public opinion doesn't seem to care about the unwarranted torture of A-rab civilians by American forces, or for that matter, a freaking genocide over in Darfur, Sudan, its hard to imagine getting too worked up over the Palestinians right about now.
I've said in other contexts and I'll say it again: what Israel is doing now is insane. It is in Israel's interest to have a viable Palestinian state; there are around 5 1/2 million Jews and 3 1/2 million Arabs under Israeli control right now (most of those Arabs in the occupied territories). The Arabs' fertility rate is much higher than the Jews': the Arab population will overtake the Jewish population within one generation at current rates. And if the Palestinian Arabs are not safely in their own state, but still somehow "associated" with Israel, Israel will-- WILL-- fail as either a democracy, fail as a "Jewish state", or probably both. And Sharon is merrily paving over the West Bank and planting and expanding settlements-- reducing the future viability of that Palestinian state. This, boys and girls, is about as insane as it gets. Kudos to President Bush for recognizing the insanity, and then encouraging it.
But I digress. Mr. Sharon won't be tearing down that wall. I digress again...
No, what amused me was that the United States now seems to get four U.N. votes (itself, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau)-- five counting Israel. When I was a kid, the joke was that the Soviet Union got three votes, in addition to its ten or so Eastern European/Warsaw Pact satellites, as for whatever reason, Byelorusse (or sometimes, "White Russia") and Ukraine had their own General Assembly seats. The Soviet Union also had a reliable bloc of Cuba, for a time Nicaragua, and generally, whoever Cuba happened to be occupying (Angola for example).
So we have come full circle. We (the US of A) now have the same General Assembly attribute (more than one vote) as "the Evil Empire". and like the Evil Empire, we are willy nilly flexing our power around and occupying other nations (in one case, Afghanistan, the very same nation previously occupied by the Evil Empire-- and with comparable effectiveness!). Oh-- and these habits bankrupted the former Evil Empire... just as they are helping to bankrupt us...
But Reagan proved that none of this matters...
And Sharon knows that no American president is going to cross him in an election year. He has carte blanche.
That said, I think the Israelis have every right to build the wall as long as it's on their side of the green line.
It's unfortunate but if they feel more secure...
Posted by Steve at July 21, 2004 02:39 PM
Well, if Israel built the fence on its side of the Green Line, the only possible argument against it would be that it makes it harder for terrorists to infiltrate!
The mere fact that there are concentrations of West Bank Palestinians on the Israeli side of the wall (albeit not from terrorist hotbed Jenin) tells us that the wall is much less of a security measure in some places as it is, in fact, a land-grab.
My problem with the land-grab has nothing to do with the fence-- the fence itself is a big nothing. Its total cost will be in the 2 hundred million dollar range... just between us girls, that's barely the cost of developing a medium to largeish SETTLEMENT-- and Israel is developing LOTS of THOSE. So-- tearing down the fence will be less expensive than tearing down just ONE settlement-- and Israel will have to tear down (or at least hand over) MANY. Or, of course, pull the wall back to the Green Line.
At this point, Israel has around 5% of its population in settlements (counting suburban Jerusalem, which is a tougher, though clearly not insoluble, issue), and I would guess, counting security, probably spends 15-20% of its GDP on those settlements.
So Israel is not merely squandering its future for those settlements, it is squandering ITS PRESENT. And yet, on and on they go.
In the end, Palestinian terrorists will find a way into Israel, wall or no wall. More children will die, people will be maimed, the hopelessness will go on-- on both sides of the wall.
Israel is presenting the starkest of lessons to us-- and we of course, are too dense to see it: military power only gets you so far if your policies are morally and legally wrong and (designed to) piss people off.
Apparently, the attitude seems to be "better to have a nuclear war than to grow the fuck up". Having brought a small child into the world, I'm not really happy about that.
Posted by the talking dog at July 21, 2004 03:50 PM
It's not just the amount of land taken -it's the quality and scarce drinking water as well - How about some links with Israeli Hman Rights links (Rabbiis for HR - B'Tselm - Brit Tsedek etc)
Long range view - what happen's to Israel if the US economy slips and we go into a financial crisis which eventually reduces us to a lesser power.
Eventually the 'War on Terror' is going to create so many enemies (Pakistan perhaps Trukey and other Moslemm contries, that it becomes impossible to keep up with it - war vs Endless war!
Posted by at July 21, 2004 11:05 PM
I'm not familiar with the sites you cite, but if you want to e-mail or leave URL's in comments, feel free...
In general, I would guess that the United States would sooner cut social security benefits than cut off aid to Israel (there would certainly be less political outcry!) However, you are correct-- there may become a point when its not about whether we WANT to help Israel so much as whether we CAN.
And in that regard, Israel's squandering of its moral assets and its financial assets down the rat hole of settlements (mostly a land-grab so that the eventual Palestinian state is as small as possible-- and as you point out, on the crappiest, driest land) is setting it up to have no choice but to eventually be that which it most despises: the racist state it is accused of being (and already has too many attributes of). Its too close to apartheid South Africa: the Europeans live in a First World democracy, the local swarthy folk live in a Third World dictatorship. For God's sake, its why Israel accepted partition in the first place.
Anyway-- you are exactly right on the "War on Terror". By carefully selecting the worst possible targets of our unilateral aggression, we will lose our own moral authority, and squander our wealth and power... we are a lot closer to the "Evil Empire" than we care to admit... and it took so God damned little to get us there.
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