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Israel, Palestine and moral courage

by Gabriele Nissim

If you cannot change such events, which donot depend on you, you nevertheless always have the chance to defend your moral character within your span of control. Based on this behaviour of yours people will judge you.
This is a line of thought peculiar to such Stoic philosophers as Epictetus and Marc Aurel and it fits well in the clear-cut stance taken by newspaper Haaretz after the UN vote admitting the Palestinian State as a new member.
The Israeli editorialist writes with a great deal of courage and a firm grip on reality that Germany, Italy, Great Britain and other friends of Israel with their vote have aimed at sending a very clear message, i.e. that they have lost their temper due to the occupation of the West Bank, are fed up with the construction of settlements, and donot trust the Israeli promises to start a peace pathway anylonger. Jerusalem’s diplomatic debacle was the result of the ruinous policy by prime minister Netanyahu who, after talking all too well in his speech at the University of Bar-Ilan, upon US pressure to accept the creation of two States, advanced many excuses to preconditions and did eventually nothing to present Palestinians and Western countries with a credible peace plan. Over these years Netanyahu used the crusade against Iran to justify the status quo in the territories and instead of strengthening Abu Mazen’s leadership with an opening to dialogue he paved the way for Hamas’ hegemony in the whole Palestinian camp. What is worst, concludes the editorialist hopelessly, is tha the Israeli prime minister, in the wake of the upcoming elections, does not show any willingness to assume a responsibility for his serious mistakes and Israel runs the risk of having a government leaning much more on the right, which can lead the country towards an endless drift.
In the Mid-East the scenarios have in fact radically changed. Israel is not only militarily weaker, as the missiles from Gaza and Lebanon can now hit the Israeli towns and seed terror among the people, but it is even weaker from the political point of view face the advance of the Islamic States which find themselves united around the program of Hamas which, excited by the truce, reasserts its willingness to act for the destruction of Israel. Today Hamas can rely on the support of Iran, which is quickly marching towards the construction of the atomic bomb, on Egypt which is bound to include the Sharia in its constitution and Turkey, which speaks a language that can be better understood by the fundamentalists than Abu Mazen’s saecularist leaders, while Syria has been relinquished by the world community and is running the risk of becoming fertile ground for islamist terrorists.
For the majority of the Arab countries the UN vote does not mean the opening of a peace pathway leading to the reconciliation between the two peoples, with the creation of two sovereign States, but it is seen as the legitimation of a policy of refusal of the existence of Israel. Unless wind changes in Tel Aviv and in Gaza, the Mid-East will be threatened by serious war dangers which only responsible men can avoid with their moral courage. But where are such moral figures now? This is the question.

Will Abu Mazen work at the peace process, or will he follow Hamas and the wave of fundamentalism?

30 November 2012

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