Thursday, December 8, 2011

Romancing The Stone Option

Returning to the stone was one of the options I suggested in a recent article in which I explain how Palestinians should attain parity with Israelis. I stated that Israelis need to understand the consequences of the failure of the peace talks; that if Israel perceived failure was a return to the status quo, it would have no incentive to negotiate in good faith. Some of my readers told me that they totally agree with my parity argument but cannot agree with my advocacy of the stone option.

Let me try to explain my point by telling a story about this dog I had. I was  married to a woman who  had 4 year old spoiled dog.  In her eyes, this dog can do nothing wrong and had a free reign in the house.  The dog hated to take walks to do her business, especially if it is raining.   During these rebellious mornings I insisted that the dog go with me for a walk, however, the dog does the #1 but not the #2 business because she wants to hurry back home.   Consequently, the dog completes her business in the house later that morning.

After I scold the dog at the place she left her waste, I take the dog to her kennel and put her in “time out” for a period to emphasize that her behavior is not acceptable thus breaking the routine that my ex-wife established by cleaning up after the dog with no consequences.  I tried to teach the dog that this is unacceptable behavior and that such bad behavior has consequences.   

The point of this example is not to compare Israel’s behavior to that of a dog and I apologize if anyone perceives it as such.  My intent is to show that everyone must be responsible for their bad behavior.  Good and bad consequences are attached to all forms of behavior.   

Unfortunately, Israelis have had a free reign in their actions visa vie the Palestinians without any consequences to their bad behaviors.   It is as if Israel can do whatever it wants in the West Bank and Gaza without any retribution.   Although international law states that an occupier cannot seize occupied land, Israel has been doing so since 1967 and it seems nothing can stop them; not the United Nations, not European leaders and not even a sitting US President.  Israelis are acting like a spoiled child as Thomas Friedman of the NY Times has eloquently stated recently.

Like a child throwing a tantrum at a store, Israel now wants incentives from the US to do what it should have done.  Israel and the US are now negotiating an incentive package to be paid for by US taxpayers so as to sway the hard line members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition partners to accept a limited settlement freeze.  In other words, Israel is being rewarded for its bad behavior—building illegal settlements that the entire world, except Israel, says are an obstacle to peace. Like a bad parent, the US is going to cave in to the misbehaving Israel.  

In the realm of negotiations with the Palestinians, I have argued in other articles that Palestinians have acted like children by capitulating to Israeli demands while only receiving limited authority in limited areas, all the while, Israel is confiscating more and more Palestinian land from what limited land that Palestinians want to establish a State upon.   There has not been parity between Palestinians and Israelis in negotiations and consequently, Israel always and in all ways has unfairly interjected conditions, built an apartheid wall, restricted the movement of people and commerce through humiliating and excessive checkpoints, uprooted olive groves and demoralized Palestinians by imprisoning them in Gaza without an adequate supply of food, medicine and water—all this, without any accountability.

I have argued that Palestinians in order to achieve parity with Israelis must stop acting like children, must unify, must show Israelis the benefits of successful peace talks and must show them the consequences of the failure of peace talks.  

Keeping the stone option on the table against the Israelis is similar to the US keeping “all options open” visa vie its negotiations with Iran over its nuclear agenda.  Iran is being made to understand that the consequence of its attempt to acquire a nuclear weapon is a possible military strike. Even Israel is talking about striking Iran’s nuclear facilities if the US will not. 

While the global pressure of the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS) and the non-violent movements are exposing Israel for what it truly is, an apartheid government, the option of the stone will keep Israel in check and impress on the Israeli society on a daily basis that there are consequences to its government’s brutal and reprehensive occupation policy.  Opposing the occupation is an internationally recognized right of the occupied.

Palestinians cannot expect the Israeli government, which gives disproportionate amount of power to its minority parties who, in turn, control the mindset of the majority in Israel, to change.  As stated earlier, Israel is not persuaded by the UN, Europe or President Obama.  More needs to be done to pressure Israel. 

Israelis need to be motivated to change—if not with economic pressures then with the consequences of the stone.   

(  © Copyright, Fadi Zanayed.  Publication or distribution of this material is allowed provided its content is not altered and the source and its author are cited.)

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