By Bob Row
On Feb.16 a summit to be held at Lima, Peru will be attended by nine South American leaders and eleven Arab chiefs of state to discuss a proposal of declaration by the first, recognizing an independent Palestinian State.
Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia recently recognized a Palestine State along borders prior to the 1967 war, including East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Chile also did it, but without reference to a map. Others are yet to decide (Venezuela and Uruguay favor to agree).
These movements have aroused concerns throughout Jewish representative bodies in and out the region. Always in line with the Israeli officials, they raised doubts about the convenience of such a declaration in order to promote a peace agreement in the Middle East. Even fears have been forwarded of tensions between Jewish and Arab/Palestine communities resident in those countries.
Which is the motivation for these concerns? As Oppenheimer puts it:
Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, told me that a South America-wide recognition of a Palestinian state along the lines of the recent Brazilian declaration would be “counter-productive.” He added, “Palestinians at this moment are refusing to return to the negotiating table. This will encourage them not to renew negotiations.”
The rationale behind this statement is an old Israeli creation for propaganda aims: “the Oriental Arab Mentality” with its two nasty traits:
- Arabs doesn’t tell the truth when bargaining. They ask for double as to agree for the half. If you offer something, they will ask for more.
- Arabs doesn’t believe in coexistence. They will accept you only as a dhimmi, a protected underdog, a subservient.
This is a convenient mythology that pays the benefit of excluding any responsibilities from the other party’s actions. For instance: if you keep expanding settlements on their claimed territories at the time of negotiations. No wonder they “refuse to return to the negotiation table”.
As for alleged “tensions” between the communities in South America, I’d like to remember any case of such by-product of the many ME wars alongside the centennial old relationship. Not one brawl to remember. Not even when soccer teams are known to be followed by one or another of them. The truth is, “representative community bodies” don’t represent but a tiny portion of those communities; officials are in fact more concerned by the privileges awarded by holding such posts than by their constituency’s true day by day living. They hardly want to remember, for instance, that the first chairman of the Syrian-Lebanese community in Argentina was a Lebanese Jew.
One final word concerning the alleged political motivation behind the two big terrorist attacks that occurred in Buenos Aires in 1992-94. Until today those bombs are attributed to Hizbollah with Iranian aid. The only support for that attribution are second-hand testimonies by undisclosed witnesses. Material evidence, regrettably, was destroyed by the police at the time of collecting it. Perhaps, because such evidence would point to obscure dealings between Carlos Menem (Argentine president of Syrian origin at the time), his Syrian counterpart, Hafez al-Assad and the sinister arms-dealer Monzer al-Kassar. A matter of business, not politics.
In any case, it’s hard to imagine a better motivation for keeping at bay any terrorist initiative covered under the Palestine cause excuse, once it could jeopardize such a diplomatic success.
Update, January 24:
Just after I posted this, Al Jazeera started disclosing a set of documents with supposed secret ample offers to Israel by Palestinian negotiators, until the “Cast Lead” operation over Gaza halted the talks.
According to these “Palestinian Papers” most of Israeli settlers would keep the established posts in exchange for mainly desert lands. Offer included Israeli control of most of East Jerusalem except for the Haram (the Temple Mount). A fraction of Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return by stages to total 100,000 over ten years.
Of course, the first reaction by pro-Palestinian voices was to imply treason by the so-called “enemy within”. On the other hand, embarrassed Palestinian officials denied the authenticity of the leaked documents and claimed being manipulated, showing Israeli proposals as if it were their own.
If anything, this affair stress my point, destroying the Israeli myth of Palestinian unwillingness to compromise (“there is no partner to Peace”). I think we’re about to see a spectacular momentum increase in diplomatic recognition of the Palestine State around the globe. It’s up to the Peace Camp to take advantage of these papers (being authentic or not) to mount pressure on Israel and its supporters.
Of particular interest to me is the testimony by former Israeli Foreign Minister and negotiator Shlomo Ben Ami about these papers showing no news, as this was basically Arafat’s own stand — regarding Jerusalem at least. From minute 5:25:
All art by Bob Row, who also blogs at Gloria Mundi.