Please, Mr. President, Stop Talking Nonsense
By Alan Hart
February 06, 2010 ""Information Clearing House" -- At a town hall meeting in
Tampa, Florida on 28 January, President Obama explained what in his view had
to happen if there is to be a two-state solution which would see Israel and
the Palestinians living side by side in peace and security. He said, "Both
sides are going to have to make concessions".
My own view is that Israel's still on-going colonization of the occupied
West Bank has destroyed the prospect of a two-state solution on any basis
the Palestinians could accept. But for the sake of discussion I'll pretend
that is not necessarily so.
Israel is not required to make concessions. Israel is required to accept and
implement UN Security Council resolutions which call for an end to its
occupation and, more generally, to cease regarding itself as being
exceptional (because of the suffering of the Jews in times past) and
therefore above and beyond international law.
The Palestinians made the concession necessary from their side long ago.
There were three related reasons why Yasser Arafat and his mainstream PLO
leadership colleagues decided that they had got to compromise with Israel if
their Palestinian people were ever to obtain a minimum but just about
acceptable amount of justice.
The first was the reality of the existence of the nuclear-armed Zionist
state - not a legitimate existence (as the true story of its creation
proves) but a fact of life.
The second was the knowledge that the Arab regimes were never going to fight
Israel to liberate Palestine, and, would collude with Zionism-and-America to
prevent the PLO becoming an effective resistance movement in terms of
The third was the realisation that all the major powers of the world were
committed to Israel's existence inside its borders as they were on the eve
of the 1967 war.
It took the pragmatic Arafat six long years, from 1973 to 1979, to sell the
idea of compromise with Israel first to his Fatah leadership colleagues and
then to the Palestine National Council (PNC), the highest decision-making
body on the Palestinian side. And it was a mission that Arafat knew from the
start could cost him his credibility with his own people and perhaps even
his life. Why? Because he was asking them to accept what most believed to be
"unthinkable" - recognizing and thus legitimizing Israel's existence inside
its pre-1967 borders in return for only 22% of all the land the Palestinians
In fact the full extent of the concessions Arafat persuaded his leadership
colleagues to accept and be prepared to make went even further than that.
Though they could not say so in public until they had something concrete to
show for their policy of politics and compromise, they accepted, and Israel
was informed, that the Palestinian right of return would have to be limited
to the territory of the Palestinian mini-state on the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip, with East Jerusalem its capital or the whole of Jerusalem an open,
undivided city and the capital of two states.
At the end of 1979, shortly after Arafat had persuaded the PNC to endorse
his policy of politics and compromise with Israel, I had the first of many
meetings with him. His comment on the PNC vote - 296 for his policy and only
four against - was this: "How far we have travelled in six years. No more
this silly talk of driving the Jews into the sea. (A statement Arafat and
his Fatah colleagues never made). Now we are prepared to live side by side
with them in a mini-state of our own. It is a miracle."
It was the miracle of Arafat's leadership. What he needed thereafter was an
Israeli partner for peace. At a point it seemed that Israeli Prime Minister
Rabin might be the partner, but he was assassinated by a Zionist zealot. The
assassin was not de-ranged. He knew exactly what he was doing. Killing the
peace process Arafat's policy of politics and compromise had set in motion.
There are no more concessions the Palestinians can make for peace. President
Obama's statement that they must is absurd and obscene. Unclear is whether
he was speaking out of ignorance of real history or from Zionism's script.
Alan Hart, author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews -
Time Is Running Out
By BOB HERBERT
NY Times Op-Ed: February 5, 2010
Palo Alto, Calif.
We've now lost 8.4 million jobs in this recession, and a vast majority of
them are gone for good. The politicians are clambering aboard the jobs
bandwagon, belatedly, but very few are telling the truth about the
structural employment problems in the U.S. and the extremely heavy lift that
is necessary to halt our declining living standards and get us back to an
economy that is self-sustaining.
We don't hear a lot that is serious about the sorry state of the nation's
infrastructure or the trade policies that crippled so many American
industries or our inability (or unwillingness) to compete effectively with
China when it comes to the new world of energy for the 21st century or our
abject failure to provide a quality public education for the next generation
of American workers, scientists, artists and entrepreneurs.
Speaking at a conference here on Wednesday, Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania
said that if we don't act quickly in developing long-term solutions to these
and other problems, the United States will be a second-rate economic power
by the end of this decade. A failure to act boldly, he said, will result in
the U.S. becoming "a cooked goose."
Neither the politicians nor much of the mainstream media are spelling out
the severity of these enormous structural problems or the sense of urgency
needed to address them. Living standards are sinking in the United States,
and there is no coherent vision or plan for reversing that ominous trend
over the long term.
The conference was titled, "The Next American Economy: Transforming Energy
and Infrastructure Investment." It was put together by the Brookings
Institution and Lazard, the investment banking advisory firm.
When Governor Rendell addressed the conference on Wednesday, he used words
like "stunning" and "unbelievable" to describe what has happened to the
nation's infrastructure. His words echoed the warnings we've been hearing
for years from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which tells us: "The
broken water mains, gridlocked streets, crumbling dams and levees, and
delayed flights that come from failing infrastructure have a negative impact
on the checkbook and on the quality of life of each and every American."
The conference was sparked by a sense of dismay over what has happened to
the U.S. economy over the past several years and a feeling that constructive
ideas about solutions were being smothered by an obsessive focus on the
short-term in this society, and by the chronic dysfunction and
hyperpartisanship in much of the government.
I was struck by the absence of grousing and finger-pointing at the
conference and the emphasis on trying to develop new ways to establish an
economy that is not based on financial flimflammery, that enhances America's
competitive position in the world, and that relieves us of the terrible
burden of reliance on foreign energy sources.
I was also struck by the pervasive sense that if we don't get our act
together then the glory days of the go-go American economic empire will fade
like the triumphs of an aging Hollywood star. One of the participants raised
the very real possibility of Americans having to get used to living in an
economy "that won't be number one," an economy that perhaps is more like
Rescuing the U.S. economy will require a commitment, and undoubtedly
sacrifices, that need to start now. And it will require leadership that
pulls together the best talents from all sectors of the society - not just
business, not just government, but from everywhere.
Bruce Katz, the director of Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program,
discussed some of the steps that need to be taken to remake an economy that
has been thrown completely out of whack by frantic, debt-driven consumption,
speculative bubbles, exotic financial instruments, and so on.
A new, saner, more sustainable economy will have to be more export-oriented,
powered by cleaner fuels, bolstered by innovation that comes from a renewed
focus on research and development, and committed to delivering a
better-educated, more highly skilled work force.
Mr. Katz believes this is doable, but by no means easy. The nation's
infrastructure, he said, will have to "shift from 20th-century models of
transport and energy transmission to rapid bus, ubiquitous broadband,
congestion pricing, smart grid, high-speed rail and intelligent transport."
New ways of financing such transformative changes will have to be developed,
linking public and private capital, preferably through the creation of a
national infrastructure bank, among other things. The nation's political
leaders and the public at large will have to grasp the difference between
wasteful spending and crucial investments in the future.
It's time for serious people to step forward and help lead on these
critically important issues. Time is short.