Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sandy Tolan on Kerry and Missed Opportunities

Once again, Sandy Tolan (Lemon Tree, Children of the Stone) offers honest and clear reporting and fact-based analysis on the tragedy of U.S. inaction.  "Kerry had four years, and the Obama administration eight," he writes, "to go beyond eloquent speeches and diplomatic cajoling to apply direct economic and political pressure on Israel to stop settlement construction."  This is precisely why the Palestinian movement to encourage divestment, boycott, even sanctions is a moral response to the paralysis and pain of the present situation.  Anti-Semitic?  No.  Justified by Israel's immoral and continuing settlement of Palestinian territories?  Absolutely right.  What governments have failed to do, citizens and communities of conscience must.

It may well be that the Obama administration intended to do more, hoped to do more.  I imagine that's the case.  But the political and cultural dynamics in America--and the pressure exerted by Netanyahu's government on American supporters--have made this risky business.  And the administration wasn't willing to take the risks needed for meaningful action.  What this means for Palestinian friends, eight years later, is more settlements, more checkpoints; and it almost certainly means the death of a two-state possibility.

With my friends at Peace United, I'm encouraging churches and synagogues across the country to join us in boycotting Hewlett-Packard, as a first step toward a sustained effort to "apply direct economic" pressure on a state that seems determined not to protect its own people, but to oppress and demoralize another.  You'll find more about HP-Free churches and the HP boycott here!


"Kerry had four years, and the Obama administration eight, to go beyond eloquent speeches and diplomatic cajoling to apply direct economic and political pressure on Israel to stop settlement construction. The last time that happened was in 1992, during the first Bush administration, when Secretary of State James Baker threatened to withhold funds unless Israel stopped building settlements on Palestinian land. “The choice is Israel’s,” Baker asserted, making clear the difference between the superpower and the client state.

"Since September 1993, when Bill Clinton rang in the Oslo Accords with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn, no U.S. administration has brought such pressure to bear. Facing no genuine consequences, Israel has continued to entice Israelis, with major state subsidies, to settle on Palestinian land in the West Bank — from  109,000 settlers in 1993 to more than 400,000 today. That doesn’t include East Jerusalem, where some 17 Jewish settlements now surround Palestinian neighborhoods, all but cutting them off from the West Bank and putting a dagger into hopes that East Jerusalem can be the capital of an independent Palestinian state. 

"Thus the Oslo “peace process,” ostensibly created to birth a two-state solution, has instead facilitated its destruction. The U.S. has been directly complicit in that deed. Its enabling of an out-of-control ally — underscored by the recent 10-year, $38 billion military aid package to Israel — created the “one-state reality” that Secretary Kerry so eloquently decries. 

"That reality is clear to anyone who has traveled to the Holy Land in recent years. I’ve been there some 15 times since 1994, and I’ve watched as lines of settlements connect to confine the Palestinian population into an archipelago of ever-shrinking enclaves, isolated from each other and controlled by nearly 500 checkpoints, roadblocks and other “closure obstacles” — this in a West Bank the size of Delaware, our second-smallest state. The occupation, which will mark its 50th anniversary next June, has deeply scarred generations of Palestinians, humiliating adults and children alike with body searches and endless delays as people attempt to reach work, school and family in nearby yet increasingly unreachable towns."

See the entire article by Sandy Tolan here.