[Prefatory Note: The post below is based on my responses to an interview conducted by Rodrigo Craveiro, a Brazilian journalist who writes for Coorreio Brazilliense, the leading newspaper in the capital city of Brazillia.]
Prelude: it is unclear to me whether Antony Blinken is acting other than as a loyal servant of President Joe Biden. But to make my point of departure as clear as possible, Blinken is the most lightweight Secretary of State a fitting complement to the overweight Mike Pompeo. Together they could do a late night TV comedy routine on the ‘arrogance of decline’ when it comes to America’s foreign policy in the Trump/Biden years. Their craven profile is most vividly expressed by their extreme subservience to extremist Israel, come what may, including its unlawful expansionism in occupied Palestine, and even the Golan Heights in Syria, which were Trump provocations endorsed by Biden. Given the outcome of the 2022 elections and the Netanyahu-led ‘extremist’ government, I would have thought Blinken/Biden could have been content to let this ugly culmination of Zionist ambitions pass in silence, rather than provide a public occasion for re-legitimating the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel as being as strong as ever, and unbreakable in the future no matter what.
True, the Western labeling of this new leadership cabal in Israel as ‘extremist’ is itself polemical, implying that what preceded was moderate.. I am inclined to argue that virtually the entire elite spectrum of Israeli political parties is ‘extremist’ given their role in shaping an apartheid style of Jewish supremacy in Israel and Occupied Palestine many years before many were worried about the rise of the religious right as a political force in the form of Religious Zionism. My point being that the subjugation, dispossession, and exclusion of a people in relation to their national homeland has been the tragic destiny imposed on the Palestinian people since 1945, a resultt achieved with the active, continuing, and substantial U.S. complicity. The UK and UN are certainly also partly to blame, having championed the partition of Palestine in 1947 without the consent of the resident population, which amounted to a denial of the most basic Palestinian rights, including the inalienable right of self-determination. Partition of a settler colonial state in an era of decolonization was also against the will of the peoples of the Middle East. As well, the UN and much of its membership then walked away after the 1948 War without condemning or reversing Israel’s territorial expansion by force, the forced mass exodus of Palestinians and the denial by Israel of their right of return to their homes and homeland, as also mandated by international law. If settler colonialism, de facto territorial annexations, and apartheid were not enough to fray the bonds between Washington and Tel Aviv, then it is hardly surprising that casting off the mantle of Israeli secular democracy would merit any rethinking of how the U.S. conceives of the ‘alliance of democracies’ that it purports to be leading in opposition to the Sino/Russian ‘alliance of autocracies.’
One last point, these displays of diplomatic steadfastness by the Biden/Lapid Declaration during a state visit to Israel a half year ago and now this post-election visit proved too much even for the corrupt and somewhat collaborationist Palestine Authority to swallow. President Mahmoud Abbas had the poise to dismiss Blinken’s ‘both sides’ approach to recent violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem with this rather mild rebuke: “We have found that the Israeli government is responsible for what’s happening these days,” that is, the upsurge of violence.“ Blinken did acknowledge, while in Ramallah for a few hours, that “what we’re seeing for Palestinians is a shrinkage of hope” that “needs to change.” This is double talk given Biden and Blinken’s much more weighty public display of solidarity with Israel, come what may. One is reminded of Hilary Clinton’s lame refrain after every Israel display of defiance with respect to international law, especially in the context of establishing additional Jewish settlements in Occupied Palestine, obviously a violation of Article 49(6) of the Geneva Conventions, as being ‘unhelpful.’
Without external pressure and internal resistance, South Africa would still be an apartheid state. The Palestinian horizon of hope will shrink until it disappears altogether with the continuation of resistance within and the spread of militant forms of global solidarity without. Without such pressure, and given such maintenance of geopolitical support, lament alone is not a liberation strategy for the Palestinian people.
Today US Secretary of State Blinken called Israel and Palestinian for “urgent steps” to calm spiralling violence in the conflict. How do you see this request and what kind of measures do you believe are much more urgent and credible to reduce tensions?
It is not appropriate under the circumstances to treat Israelis and Palestinians as equally responsible for the recent upsurge in violence. Israel’s provocations are the principal cause of the current crisis that accompanied the formation of what has been widely viewed as the most extreme Israeli government since the country came into existence 75 years ago, with crucial internal cabinet position being given to outspoken anti-Paklestinian racists, most prominently Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich of Religious Zionism coalition group.
Of course, from the perspective of international law and morality, the Zionist Project was from day one ‘extremist,’ although it showed its hand only gradually over a span of almost a century.
More appropriate measures responsive to the realities would be to suspend arms shipments to Isreal and to support UN censure of policies, practices, and Israeli leadership associated with racism, ethnic supremacy, and further dispossession of Palestinians from their homeland.
Do you believe the US could have a decisive protagonism to push Israel and palestinian to negotiate a deal? Or do you believe a peace deal is out of question at this point?
Israel, the side in totally dominant control, shows no interest in a diplomatic approach to finding a solution for the conflict. With such an extremist government in control of Israeli foreign policy, the emphasis has shifted from those committed to ending the conflict through diplomatic negotiations to a unilateral approach imposed by Israeli force, essentially stabilizing and gaining international acceptance of an exclusivist Jewish State stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This outcome controlled Israeli thinking and the unfinished agenda of. the Zionist Political Project for more than the prior 20 years, although not so openly and aggressively proclaimed as recently..
Given this situation, it would cause serious US/Israeli tensions if Washington were to push hard for a revived diplomacy that was claimed to be ‘a peace process.’ There is no domestic pressure in the U.S. on Biden to move in such a direction, and Blinken’s legitimating visit and reaffirmation of U.S. unconditional support of Israeli security is a further indication that no such move will be forthcoming from Washington beyond the misleading and likely ineffective Blinken call for mutual de-escalation, which most objective observers regard as an evasive diplomacy based on false symmetry, or more bluntly put, as whitewashing intensification of prolonged Palestinian victimization..
What is the risk of an escalate of violence trigger a new intifada in your view?
It is difficult to assess the thinking of the internationally recognized Palestinian leadership in Ramallah at this time, but the prospect of continuing Palestinian resistance to further Israeli violations of past understandings, such as formal Jewish visits to sacred Muslim sites will spontaneously spark escalated violence as does excessive use of force by Israeli security force and expansions of unlawful Israeli settlements. There would be widespread civil society support among Palestinians for a Third Intifada at this time, especially in the directly occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Gaza, as well as among Palestinian support groups around the world.
Postlogue: It may be that Blinken’s real mission was to convey to Netanyahu in private the message that Israeli provocations are weakening public support for Israel in the United States, especially among younger generations of Jews. It is notable how the Western media has focused on the extent to which Israel’s turn to overt ‘extremism’ is of concern because. of its effect on Jewish support and how little attention is given to how this intensification of oppressive tactics magnifies Palestinian suffering.
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