Professor and Mrs. (Andree) Wilson are both concerned that there are a number of festering trouble spots around the world, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Pakistan tribal areas, Israel and Palestine, where hatred and anger which have built up over 60 years have replaced thought on both sides. Each party to a conflict has a duty to ensure the human rights of each and every individual on the other side, yet these human rights frequently get ignored. Unless these 60 year old quarrels are faced by the whole world, the whole world will be plunged into conflict. There is an unfortunate similarity between these trouble spots. India, Russia and Israel, each the stronger party in their respective conflicts, Kashmir, Chechnya and the Holy Land, took President Bush's "war on terrorism" to imply US approval to subdue the other party using extreme terror attacks of their own.
In 1492 Columbus "sailed the ocean blue" and it has been customary to celebrate his discovery of America. 5 centuries later we look at it in a different light. We also remember that in 1492 the "wicked" Christians drove the Muslims and Jews out of Spain to go to distant countries: Holland, Eastern Europe, North Africa. On May 14th 1948 the state of Israel was founded. Will it take 5 centuries to remember the effect on the Palestinian population in their NAKBA? A brief discussion of the history by a non-Zionist Jew can be found here.
In particular Israelis have a right to live in peace and security but not to impinge on the human rights of Palestinians. Palestinians have a right to govern their own affairs, but not to take the lives of Israelis. Both Richard and Andree Wilson were encouraged by the 2002 initiative of Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah, which was supported by an unusual unanimous vote in the Arab League. Although not an Arab country, Iran would have gone along. Under this initiative, these countries, including the Palestinian Authority, would have recognized the State of Israel and opened diplomatic relations, in exchange for Israel recognizing the boundaries outlined in UN security council resolution 242 with small agreed modifications, and some recognition of the harm done to those Palestinians who were forced from their homes in 1948. If this initiative had taken place in April 1967 Israelis might have been dancing for joy in the streets! This was reopened by King Abdullah in March 2007. We ware very disappointed that it was ignored by the governments of Israel and the USA. If the USA and Israel would take this seriously, the state of Israel, within its 1949 borders, would by now be recognized by all parties, including Iran. In 2013 the US Foreign Minister, Mr Kerry, raised it again in April 2013 "pretending" that it was a new issue with new modifications. Hopefully someone will listen this time.
In April 2009 President Obama promised a new approach. In summer 2009 he asked for Israel to undertake a total freeze on new settlements. This was clearly a Line in the Sand. Mr Netanyahu refused and for many months the US administration did nothing. As described in the Times in March 25th 2010 the President of the USA met Mr Netanyahu, and forcefully insisted he comply with a total freeze, in writing. See also the JTA News service. By this action he tried to show that he controls US foreign policy. But Mr Netanyahu declined to do so and was given a standing ovation in the US Congress. This shows unequivocally that Mr Netantaho has more control over US foreign policy than the US President. For 20 years The US has preferred a "peace process" to peace. The Palestinians want to move it from a position in the UN. Thomas Friedman in the Times complained that we are not going back to the beginning. Yet Friedman fails to tell us where and when the beginning was. I outline several possibilities here.. The US has an ultimate, very simple, possible method of persuasion. To withhold all subsidy to Israel, civilian or military from the US government till the settlement freeze is implemented and perhaps to demand that the first use of any future civilian aid be to repair and reconstruct the damage done in Gaza by the Israeli defense forces. In May 2011 Mr Obama repeated the official US position which has been the position for the last 40 years. At last he seems to recognize that the US is not an "honest broker". In 1970 I did not believe what colleagues told me - that the attack on the ship "Liberty" was almost deliberate but now we have the stories of the survivors it is clear. I then argued that the claim that the US is an "host broker " an exaggeration. I never realized how dishonest the US was till the book "Brokers of Deceit" by the historian Rashid Khaldi came out. But Mr Netanyahu resolutely rejects the official US position. We understand why politically Mr Obama would have to veto any proposal in the UN security council to accept Palestine as a state. But the US has nothing left to offer. Only Mr Netanyahu can do so. But Mr Netanyahu has said nothing than might give the Palestinians hope since he took over as Prime Minister after Mr Rabin was assassinated.
The reaction by Israel, encouraged by the USA, to the behavior of Hezbollah on the Lebanese border in 2006 was horrifying. Hezbollah, had been considered too extreme for most Arabs, now became heroes. Interestingly and hopefully, Hezbollah seems to have turned this success (mostly) to more peaceful political activities inside Lebanon. If more political power is given to the poor Shia who have been underrepresented based upon the 1935 census in Lebanon, hopefully violence will cease. The behavior of the IDF in Gaza is worse. Anyone who doubts this should see the report "the Hell that is Gaza" by the journalist Mohanmmed Omer. It is with a deep sense of shame that I note that the refusal to even study the matter as Judge Goldstone suggested is a denial of civilized behavior. The actual vote is here. Other international bodies are also loath to act. In spring 2009 a boat loaded with relief supplies for Gaza was captured on the high seas in international waters. This was repeated with loss of life in 2010. I thought at first that these ware acts of piracy (according to UN definitions) which were clearly worse than the acts off the Somali coast that were condemned by the UN as recently as 2011. Yet the UN was silent. But the acts seem to be worse than piracy. Ordinary use of words tells us that they are acts of war against the owners of the ships. The UN has equivocated. In 2013 Obama got Netanyahu to formally apologize to Turkey. But some families of those Turks killed insist that they do not accept any apology and reject compensation till the embargo on supplies to Gaza is lifted.
At the "Conference on a Nuclear Free World" in Moscow in February 1987, a European leader made a challenge: "Don't test bombs; test Gorbachev." President Reagan did just that, walked with Secretary Gorbachev in the woodland of a lakeside estate on Lake Geneva, and the cold war came to an end. We urge that the leaders of Israel do the same.
Two Professors, one from Harvard and the other from Chicago, describe how Israel has dominated US foreign policy and foreign aid in the last 35 years. This article, stating what to us is obvious, has been heavily criticized. Former President Jimmy Carter likened the behavior of the present Israeli government to the apartheid of South Africa. Ambassador John Gunther Dean, a US citizen, a refugee from Nazi discrimination, commented on his 80th birthday. Some Americans take bold and individual action. Rachel Corrie stood in front of a bulldozer that was, illegally according to most non-US interpretations of international law, demolishing houses and carelessly demolished Rachel Corrie. The letters to her family describe her commitment to peace. Such bravery is uncommon. A call for an independent investigation into this murder got nowhere.