"When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals.
We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues"

( JM Keynes, "Economic Possibilities for our Granchildren" 1930 )

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"To Freeze or Not to Freeze,... That Is NOT The Question!.

Any impartial observer of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would probably conclude that the ongoing crisis concerning the extension of the temporal settlements´ building freeze is ,for the most, a bad joke. How it comes that such "no issue" has paralyzed a 20 years Peace Process as if the fate of the whole world was depends on it???. Newspapers are filled with question marks: Will Israel freeze? For how long (2 months!! 3 months? 4 and a half?? ) ? What has the US President to say about it ? And the Arab League? What are the recent political maneuvers in Israel? Will Abu Mazen renounce? A genuine Mid East circus….

A somewhat more benevolent spectator would just label all the mess as a weird sitcom. However, if it was only a question of literal tastes, Dayenu*. …. But bearing in mind that this specific Reality Show is very, very real and can easily turn into a tragic “Horror Show” for other anonymous protagonists ( i.e. average citizens) , leaders should be reminded that are playing with fire.

From the outset, the whole idea of a temporal freeze was a bad Salomonic “solution”. Lets analyze the decision by utilizing a simple "What-If" methodology.
Scenario A: If Israel eventually will evacuate the occupied territories, a PERMANENT freezing would turn to be the appropriate measure. Temporal... meaningless.
Scenario B: If Israel does not intend to evacuate the settlements, the real meaning of a temporal freezing is a few months of delay in further construction, turning the freezing into an empty gesture.
However, reality is not a binary game so the freezing should be seen as a gesture of good faith, not a must but a sort of temporal cease of fire while negotiating for peace. Fair enough?

Well, if the freezing was not restricted in time, it could be considered as a step toward reconciliation, equivalent to a cease of fire in times of war. Though, the temporality ingredient kills the remains of any possible good faith since it actually imposes a arbitral restriction for the period for negotiations, similar to saying: If Peace is not reached within XX months, we all go home and end the negotiations. What next, G-D only knows ... Whoever is familiar with the Peace Process knows that 10 months is nothing, really nothing and to get an agreement, therefore “Temporality” is a “No Freezing“ de Facto. In light of this perspective the two months extension, as President Obama is asking for, sounds as a pathetic and cynical political maneuver ( Mid Term elections) and nothing more. Furthermore, reality has its own inner watch, so the imposition of a restricted timetable is artificial.

If you needed a definitive confirmation for the meaninglessness of the “temporal freezing”, just open the last week newspapers. The disproportionate attention for a meaningless topic in the media is fed by politicians and their spokesmen. That is a classical political maneuver aimed to deviate the public debate from the core business and their failures to achieve real results from the negotiations. Reminder : Israel still maintains for more than 40 years millions of human beings under military regime without basic civil, human and political rights ( as human beings,,,, national rights is luxury under the current circumstances) . The Palestinian are still divided with a leadership that did not achieve any meaningful result from its current strategy (which is …???) , to alleviate the situation of its people, besides some economic fragile recovery in the West Bank. And finally, the US President did not achieve much of his initial goals in the process as part of a global American strategy toward the Arab world.

So we might get some extended period of freezing but the obstacles will remain in place. The real and not so temporal freezing of the Peace Process can generate a new wave of violence or a false sense of stability before the next round. What is needed is to renew the negotiations and if you wish so , do it under a permanent, genuine and unlimited freezing of any construction activity in the Occupied Territories. The alternatives are so bad that any temporal restriction is meaningless and even harmful.

That is the real deal on the table, the rest is pure hot air that will freeze soon.

*The word "Dayenu" means approximately, "it would have been enough for us", "it would have been sufficient", or "it would have sufficed" (day in Hebrew is "enough", and -enu the first person plural suffix, "to us").

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