What Kind of Peace Do Israeli Voters Want?

Has the bankrupt CanWest’s pro-Israel banner passed to the Toronto Star?

Has the bankrupt CanWest’s pro-Israel banner passed to the Toronto Star?

The Toronto Star published an Editorial Opinion piece “Israeli voters still yearn for peace” on Jan. 25, 2013 by Shimon Koffler Fogel, the CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), formerly the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy. This article was the latest by Fogel, full of half-truths, distortions and inaccuracies.

Then, on Jan. 28, 2013, an Editorial Opinion by Vivian Bercovici was published under the title “Bercovici: Palestinian leaders don’t care who wins in Israel” with the subtitle “Many western governments hold onto a misguided fantasy: that the persistent obstacle to Mideast peace is Israel, not Palestinian leaders.” This is clearly another piece written by Benjamin Netanyahu’s Foreign Ministry and is not worth our response; however, to add insult to injury, the Star informs its readership at the end of her article that this author’s “column will appear monthly”.

We sent the Star our response to Fogel’s Hasbara piece, hoping that they will be even-handed and publish it, but with no success. We are wondering if there was a coup in the Star and whether it abandoned its “Atkinson Principles”, especially the commitment to social justice. It seems the paper is now competing to become the new mouthpiece for Israel after the demise of the CanWest Empire.

We would like to note that our article is in defense of the Palestinian people and NOT in defense of the Palestinian leadership or the so-called Palestinian Authority. Our position is clear from the Fateh leadership that betrayed not only its founders but also the Palestinian people. We, along with other pro-Palestinian organizations and individuals, called on Mahmoud Abbas to resign over five years ago.

Following is our article that The Star refused to publish.

What Kind of Peace Do Israeli Voters Want?

It would seem that the objective of the editorial opinion “Israeli voters still yearn for peace” by Shimon Koffler Fogel (published in thestar.com on January 25, 2013) was to refute an earlier Star article on the Israeli elections by Olivia Ward. In that article, she talked about “the elephant in the room, around which most of Israel’s politicians have tiptoed: the Israeli-Palestinian peace process” and rightly concluded that Israeli politicians don’t want to be bothered with a long lasting peace with the Palestinians. It is insulting to the intelligence of Canadians for Mr. Fogel to now claim otherwise.

1. In a January 9/2013 interview with the New York Times, the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, was asked if Obama is or isn’t convinced that Israel wants peace. He answered, “Of course, he’s not convinced. He demanded an end to settlements and got a negative response, and they [members of the Likud-led government] are to blame for the ongoing activity in the settlements.”
2. In the same interview Peres talks about the role of Mahmoud Abbas in the peace negotiations (whom he calls by his nickname Abu Mazen): “Abu Mazen and I met for long talks, with Netanyahu’s knowledge, and even reached more than a few agreements. To my regret, in the end there was always some rupture…I do not accept the assertion that Abu Mazen is not a good negotiating partner. To my mind, he is an excellent partner. Our military people describe to me the extent to which the Palestinian forces are cooperating with us to combat terror”, he added. Abbas, who is on his third presidential term despite only being elected for one, and whose political legitimacy is questioned daily on the Palestinian scene due to his acquiescence to the Israeli agenda, is still not a suitable partner for Mr. Fogel or Benjamin Netanyahu for that matter.
3. Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio, that was reported by the Israeli paper Haaretz, also stated “Israel must realize that there is a partner for peace on the Palestinian side, Indyk said. ‘There is a partner, just up the road in Ramallah,’ said Indyk, ‘His name is Abu-Mazen, and he is committed to peace with Israel and to the two-state solution, and to preventing violence and terrorism’.”
4. Mr. Fogel should listen to the six former heads of the Israeli security service Shin Bet who all “argue–to varying degrees–that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is bad for the state of Israel” in the movie “The Gatekeepers.”

Mr. Fogel did not once comment in his article on the illegal “Israeli settlements”, which are recognized internationally as the main obstacle to peace, nor did he mention that it was not the Palestinians who were responsible for murdering Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and thereby derailing Oslo. Nor did he deem it necessary to mention that Benjamin Netanyahu opposed the Oslo agreement and openly campaigned against it, and that according to Dror Moreh, the Israeli filmmaker, “Netanyahu (is) as much to blame for Rabin’s death”. Fogel also forgot to mention what triggered the wave of post-Oslo suicide bombings – the murder of twenty-nine Palestinian worshippers and the wounding of 125 more at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron/Al Khalil by the fanatic settler Baruck Goldstein in 1994.

Mr. Fogel starts his article by trying to cover up the inequalities in Israel between Jews and non Jews by saying, “As one of only 23 countries in the world that have continuously held free elections since 1948, Israel is known for being a particularly boisterous democracy”. Giving the right to vote to Palestinian Israelis doesn’t testify to the democratic nature of Israel. Would Mr. Fogel accept for Jewish or Black Canadians to have over thirty laws that discriminate against them in citizenship rights, redistribution of resources and social welfare, employment, land, educational access/attainment, and language, health and political participation? The right to vote becomes meaningless in such a context and this is what the Palestinian citizens of Israel have to endure. (See: The Inequality Report The Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel by Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.)

Fogel’s assertions that “Israeli voters still yearn for peace” is just another page from the Israeli Hasbara book. Recent polls as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald indicated that “Most Jewish citizens of Israel support discrimination against Palestinians … with 69 per cent advocating preference for Jews over Arabs in government jobs and 74 per cent in favour of segregated roads in the West Bank” and “42 per cent indicated they did not want to live in the same building as Arabs or have their children in the same class as Arab children.” (See also the Haaretz article by Gideon LevyApartheid without shame or guilt”). Is this the peace Israelis are yearning for? Is this the peace Mr. Fogel wants the Palestinian people to accept and live under?

Mr. Fogel put the blame for everything on the shoulders of the late Yasser Arafat, when he told former President Clinton “Do you want to attend my funeral?” This was when Arafat finally refused to capitulate to US/Israeli demands to accept Palestinian Bantustans, to accept illegal Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian lands, to compromise on occupied East Jerusalem, and to renounce the right of return which is a collective and individual right for the Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed in 1947/48.

Fogel then concluded that “the Palestinian people were never prepared for peace.” Yes, Mr. Fogel, the Palestinian people are not prepared for your kind of peace, which is the peace of occupation and racism; they will never accept such humiliating dictates from Israel nor from the West in general, no matter how great your military strength is or how many nuclear warheads you have. After 65 years of dispossession, the Palestinians do yearn for peace, but a peace with justice and dignity that will endure.

Hanna Kawas, Chairperson CPA