Sunday, June 15, 2008

Buried in the back pages of the NYTimes - this is why peace is elusive

"Israel announced plans to build 1,300 more houses in East Jerusalem, angering Palestinians who warned that such plans threatened chances for a peace accord by the end of the year. The announcement brought to more than 3,000 the number of houses that Israel has approved for construction since the renewal of the peace talks on land that Palestinians think should be part of a Palestinian state. Palestinian negotiators condemned the latest plan, while Israeli officials said that most of the proposed housing would be on land that Israel has already annexed."

Yes, East Jerusalem is supposed to be Palestinian Jerusalem (the other half of Jerusalem for the Jewish population). This in addition to the leaked White House memo that gave Olmert the go-ahead to build more Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

I visited the Israeli Embassy about one month ago (shortly before I left for Egypt). The meeting was meant to be a briefing of the political situation in Jerusalem for the undergraduate students with whom I was traveling as a teaching assistant. Instead of a briefing we got an introductory class in propaganda (which was either extremely insulting: ie, the Israeli diplomat thought we were all so ignorant of Middle East politics as to believe the BS he was spouting, or extremely flattering: ie, the same diplomat thought some of us had some connections with the foreign policy establishment that would merit him taking the time to try to indoctrinate us). Either way, the theme of the talk was that the conflict with the Palestinians was a tertiary matter and that Ahmadinijad's Iran was a modern day incarnation of Nazi Germany (and yes, he did make this explicit comparison). He basically said that if we don't get off our pacifist-Middle class-social justice-seeking petards and bomb Iran the whole world will soon be in flames. Where do they find these people?

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