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The Only Democracy? » Discrimination » Biden’s “Insulted,” What About Palestinians?

Biden’s “Insulted,” What About Palestinians?

By Jesse Bacon

The United States and Israel are having a lovers’ quarrel, between grotesquely overprivileged  and dysfunctional lovers at that.

Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

The decision of Israel to announce new construction in Occupied East Jerusalem during the visit of Vice President Joe Biden was met with disbelief and rueful humor. For most of us who are critical of US policy, the gesture was mere truth in advertising about the nature of the relationship between the United States and Israel. Akiva Eldar points out rather salitly that “to wipe the spit off his face, Biden had to say it was only rain . Therefore, he lauded Netanyahu’s assertion that actual construction in Ramat Shlomo would begin only in another several years.”

But the worst aspect for me was how so much of the reaction ignored the fact the primary targets of this insult were the Palestinian people.

For instance, the New York Times describes it,

The settlement announcement embarrassed Biden, who said it undermined peace efforts, and infuriated the West Bank-based Palestinian leadership, which had agreed to a U.S. proposal for indirect talks under pressure from Washington and Arab allies.

The Christian Science Monitor notes the clout of settlers,

Still, the incident demonstrated the political clout the settler movement continues to wield in Israel and the hot-button issue of continuing Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians believe is an Israeli attempt to create facts on the ground that will deprive them of the place they eventually hope to place their capital.

So Palestinians are angry and suspicious, (though not quoted in either article). But not insulted, which would require having some expectation of being treated fairly. After all, it is their capital that is being built upon, preventing both a two state solution and ensuring their marginalization in the current one state status quo..

The more conservative Jerusalem Post is even more dismissive of Palestinian concerns,

Instead, because of sheer ineptitude, the timing of the announcement immediately threatened the “proximity talks” in which Netanyahu has stressed Israel has a profound interest. It united the Palestinians, the Arab world and much of the international community in a chorus of anti-Israel condemnation.”

So the talks are really about the United States and Israel’s common interests, with the Palestinians as an adversary, along with anyone who sympathizes with them.

Gideon Levy, in his usual sarcastic fashion, describes what would have happened if not for housing minister Eli  Yishai’s ill-timed announcement.

Months would go by, the talks would “progress,” there would be lots of photo ops, and every now and then a mini-crisis would erupt – all because of the Palestinians, who want neither peace nor a state. At the very end, there might be another plan with another timetable that no one intends to keep.

The fury in response compounds the insult, as we have all become so use to the utter marginalizing of Palestinians and their leadership that it is no longer newsworthy. The US and Israel just disagree about how best  to marginalize them. Fortunately the Palestinians are leading an international movement that is getting much harder to ignore, even by the notoriously oblivious Palestinain Authority. Here’s some good coverage in Britain’s Independent:

Even if freshly promised “proximity talks” between Israelis and Palestinians get under way, they are unlikely to halt the weekly protests that will take place after noon prayers today in some villages and tomorrow in others. The Palestinian Authority did not start the weekly protests that have now spread to more than half a dozen West Bank villages. And it is not leading them. But a supportive Palestinian cabinet statement appeared to adopt their model last month, applauding that: “Peaceful and popular efforts have regained international recognition of the just Palestinian cause and revealed the void Israeli excuses for the construction of settlements and the wall.”

And finally, a Daily Show clip on the matter!

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Written by

JESSE BACON (Philadelphia) is a freelance activist and father. He has a Masters in teaching from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is an observant progressive Jew, and is trying to be a good ally for Palestinians and all dispossessed peoples, while staying true to the best traditions in Judaism. He visited Israel and Palestine in 1996, 2001, and 2002. He served for three years on the local steering committee of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, and one year on the board of Pursue the Peace in Seattle. Read his posts here.

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