Friday, September 30, 2011

Colin Powell's Big Mouth and the Israel-Palestine Situation

The speech lie at the UN about aluminum tubes that sealed Iraq's fate was not his only big blunder on the world stage that brought death and destruction to many innocents.

In his fiery speech before the United Nations General Assembly last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu made the following ultimatum to the Palestinian leadership:
We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state. Just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people.


Where did the demand for recognition of a "Jewish state" originate?

Colin Powell, then-Secretary of State, made the first mention of it in 2001. In a speech, he briefly called on Palestinians to recognize Israel as a "Jewish state." When asked how this wording ended up in his talk, Powell claims he doesn't know, but David Ivry, then the Israeli ambassador to the United States, says he persuaded an aide to Powell to write it in.

From that point onward, Israel and the United States have insisted on the recognition of a Jewish state in Israel. However, the Palestinian resistance to this demand is not just a technical snafu, as Prime Minister Fayyad suggested. The resistance to this declaration is substantive and carries great political significance to Palestinians.


The crux of the Palestinian issue is the fate of the millions of refugees who were exiled from their homes during the creation of Israel. The right of return for these refugees is a major pillar of Palestinian aspirations for a just resolution to the conflict with Israel. Recognizing Israel as Jewish state would mean renouncing the internationally recognized right of Palestinian refugees to return.


The second source of contention for the Palestinians is the situation of Palestinian citizens of Israel who make up 20% of Israel's population.

Under the banner of protecting the Jewish nature of the state, Israel has enacted no fewer than 30 discriminatory laws that harm its Palestinian citizens.


Palestinians fear that recognizing the Jewish nature of Israel means endorsing and making permanent the state's discrimination against its Palestinian citizens.

  Daily Kos

[R]ecognition of Israel as a "Jewish state" implies that Israel is, or should be, either a theocracy (if we take the word "Jewish" to apply to the religion of Judaism) or an apartheid state (if we take the word "Jewish" to apply to the ethnicity of Jews), or both, and in all of these cases, Israel is then no longer a democracy - something which has rightly been the pride of most Israelis since the country's founding in 1948.


[R]ather than demand that Palestinians recognise Israel as a "Jewish State" as such - adding "beyond chutzpah" to insult and injury - we offer the suggestion that Israeli leaders ask instead that Palestinians recognise Israel (proper) as a civil, democratic, and pluralistic state whose official religion is Judaism, and whose majority is Jewish.


[Seven] million Palestinians descended from the Palestinians who in 1900 lived in historical Palestine (ie what is now Israel, the West Bank including Jerusalem, and Gaza) and at that time made up 800,000 of its 840,000 inhabitants; and who were driven off their land through war, violent eviction or fear.

  Sari Nusseibeh - alJazeera

Palestinian citizens of Israel are those Palestinians who remained behind in what became the state of Israel following the Nakba (1947-9), or "catastrophe," when approximately 725,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and land by Zionist forces in order to make way for a Jewish-majority state.

Between 1948 (when Israel declared independence) and 1966, Palestinians living in Israel were granted no political rights and were subject to Israeli military rule. After 1966, they were granted the right to vote and other civil rights, but to this day they continue to suffer from widespread, systematic and institutionalized discrimination affecting everything from land ownership and employment opportunities to family reunification rights. Today, there are approximately 1.2 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, about 20% of the population.


Since Israel's founding in 1948, more than 600 Jewish municipalities have been established, while not a single new Arab town or community has been recognized by the state.

More than seventy Palestinian villages and communities in Israel, some of which pre-date the establishment of the state, are unrecognized by the government, receive no services, and are not even listed on official maps. Many other towns with a majority Palestinian population lack basic services and receive significantly less government funding than do majority-Jewish towns.


The Nationality and Entry into Israel Law prevents Palestinians from the occupied territories who are married to Palestinian citizens of Israel from gaining residency or citizenship status. The law forces thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel to either leave Israel or live apart from their families.


....but hey, do what you will anyway.

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