Saturday, December 22, 2012

Congratulations Egypt on passing a constitution

I would have written a more secular constitution than Egypt's Constituent Assembly did. I would have, more importantly to me, given an entire committee of elected civilians oversight of Egypt's military budget, establishing at least as much civilian control over the military as exists in the United States. To top that off, I would have written into the constitution that foreign contributions to the military especially from former colonial hegemons such as the United States must be visible to the public.

But I don't vote in Egypt's elections. The people of Egypt do, and all indications are that Egyptians have written and approved by a substantial margin a constitution that fits their values and priorities, rather than Barack Obama's, Juan Cole's, Tom Friedman's values or even my values and priorities.

Cole might say that there should have been more secular representation in the Constituent Assembly. There in that case might exist a difference of opinion between Cole and the people of Egypt over exactly what is the right amount of secular representation in a constitution-writing body. A colonialist would propose that if the people of Egypt and Juan Cole, a US citizen, disagree about what would represent a reasonable distribution of power between secularists and religionists, Cole's position, rather than that of Egypt's voters, should prevail. No reader of this blog by now could be surprised that Juan Cole takes exactly that colonialist position.

But after decades of being ruled on behalf of the government Cole votes for, Egypt is coming to be ruled on behalf of Egypt's voters themselves. That is a great step forward, and the squawking we hear from supposedly liberal and supposedly conservative commentators in the West criticising Egypt's democratic process despite the election results is actually evidence of what a significant step forward it is.

Congratulations to all of the people of Egypt.

Also congratulations to Egypt's Muslim Brothers. They have campaigned or lobbied on the most popular sides of six elections post Mubarak now. The first constitutional amendments, the People's Assembly, the Shura Council, two rounds of Presidential elections and now the constitutional referendum.

The people of Egypt have clearly expressed faith in this group of people to set Egypt's policies. I send them all of my best wishes and hopes that they prove worthy of this faith that they've been shown by the people of Egypt.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Near fatal blows" to a two state solution

So Israel is building more settlements. These settlements are in areas that if annexed apparently would make a continuous Palestinian state in the West Bank impossible. That would be according to every Western commentator I've seen on the issue an almost fatal blow to hopes for two states. Here's the New York Times with one example:

So far this week, Mr. Netanyahu’s hard-line government, defying the Western powers, has approved construction of more than 6,000 new housing units. The approvals follow an announcement late last month that Israel would continue planning for new development in the E1 area — a project northeast of Jerusalem that would split the West Bank and prevent the creation of a viable contiguous Palestinian state. Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, has called this project an “almost fatal blow” to a two-state solution.
Really quickly, first of course, Israel is not viable without US support. The US has to maintain a string of colonial dictatorships throughout Israel's region, has to impose bombings, sanctions and civil wars on countries outside of that string of colonies and if it was to stop, Israel would be forced to either negotiate a South-Africa style settlement that would end Zionism, or it would fight and lose wars against the countries in its region and accept such a settlement ending Zionism after.

So Israel cannot and does not actually defy Western powers. If Barack Obama told Netanyahu that these settlements would result in the US withdrawing its support for Zionism, Netanyahu would halt the settlements. Without US support not only would the settlements not be possible, but Israel as a Jewish state in a region of US-controlled stooge dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and others would not be possible.

But beyond that, I find humor in the idea that these blows are "nearly fatal". That raises the question of when would claimed hopes for a two state solution actually die, what would have to happen for a blow to those hopes to be fatal, as opposed to nearly fatal?

The answer to this question as I've said in this blog before is that the point of these hopes for a two state solution is not for there ever to actually be two states, but to allow Israel's supporters to pretend that they are not as evil as they are.

Barack Obama supports Israel restricting the access children in Gaza have to food. That is a disgusting policy, even by the values Obama claims to uphold. But because of hopes for a two state solution, Obama tells himself and those who'll listen to him that this policy is only temporary. A two state solution is around the corner after which children in Gaza will be able to eat what they want, their parents will be able to produce goods and export them.

Instead of a reflection of Obama's racist idea that Jewish children in Israel are more important than Arab children in Gaza, the siege is a temporary sacrifice to hopes for a two state solution. The purpose of these hopes is to shield people like Barack Obama from the implications of their own pro-Jewish racism.

So are these settlements really almost fatal blows to these hopes? These hopes were never real enough to live or die. States with tens of millions of people live under pro-US dictatorships and will have to be under US control forever if Israel is to remain viable as a Jewish state.

How is fewer than six million Jewish people having an enforced Jewish political majority state more important than over 40 million mostly Muslim people in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and others having policy makers who are accountable to their voters? Because Barack Obama and other supporters of Israel are religious bigots who devalue Muslim people as human beings in service to Zionism.

Hopes for a two state solution are how they lie to themselves and to each other to disguise the anti-Arab racism and anti-Muslim bigotry inherent in their support for Israel. These hopes will not die or nearly die because of any settlement building. The impulse and need to lie to themselves and each other about their bigotry that fuels these supposed hopes for a two state solution are only growing stronger as Israel becomes more vulnerable.

But back to the Times, here is another funny passage:

Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, hopes for Mideast peace have envisioned two states, for two peoples, living side by side in security. But there is increasing talk now of a one-state future, which would be disastrous to both sides. By absorbing the West Bank, Israel would risk its character as a Jewish state because Israeli Jews could become a minority in their own country. Israelis would also have to decide whether to give Palestinians equal rights, the denial of which would harm Israel’s standing as a democracy.
One state would be disastrous to both sides? The New York Times describes how the process of losing an enforced ethnic political majority state that White South Africans went through as a disaster for Israeli Jews, but where is the explanation of how it would be a disaster for the Arabs and Muslims? And if it's only a disaster for one side, why say both?

Westerners, liberal to conservative, just have a huge fog of lies that they tell themselves and each other especially about the Middle East and Zionism. If they were to stop lying, it would be more than a fatal blow to the supposed hopes for a two state solution.