By Shimon Z. Klein 

Israel has just celebrated 62 years of independence. During the first 3 decades which were Israel’s formative years much had been achieved. Jewish immigrants from all corners of the earth were absorbed into a vital dynamic Israeli society with relative success within a short time. No success story is without its hurdles which still have to be overcome. 

Industrially Israel has made remarkable progress in a relatively short time, especially in the hi-tech field. Science and medicine have also advanced dramatically. Israel is the home of many leading scientists and medical doctors which would be the pride of any country. 

Unfortunately, all this progress has been marred by Israel’s inability to make peace with its Palestinian neighbours. The reason, according to Israel’s leaders, is that there is no partner with whom Israel can negotiate a peace treaty which would end the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The situation has been complicated even further by the division of the occupied territories into two entities: 

1. The Gaza Strip ruled by Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and is not even prepared to negotiate with Israel under any conditions. 

2. The West Bank is ruled by the Palestinian Authority which is moderate but its power base is shaky.

The latter does have a desire for reaching an agreement with Israel but is unable because of the extremist Islamists that tow the Hamas line and those terrorist groups who are more radical than Hamas in their hate for Israel. The fear of the radical Islamists’ factions in the West Bank is an important factor hindering peace negotiations with Israel. 

Despite this, the mistake of Israel’s colonial policies in the occupied territories always remains a factor in hindering peace negotiations even from the Israeli perspective. The encouragement of Jewish settlers to build and settle in the occupied Palestinian territories is also a factor in the emergence of extremist Islamists groups in the territories. The usurping of Palestinian lands by Israel’s settlers to make way for building homes and expansion of Jewish settlements triggered off a violent nationalism with a severe Islamist ideology in a new generation that grew up under occupation. The expansionist policies of Israel in the occupied territories does play a role in uniting the extremist, Palestinian groups in their common hatred for Israel and also advances Ahmadinajad of Iran’s interests in the region which is domination of the Middle East and destruction of Israel.  

The Palestinians suffer from a bad leadership which in many respects is influenced by fantasies rather than reality. Israeli leadership is right wing and has racist elements which form part of the Likud led coalition. This is hardly a prescription for encouraging peace negotiations despite the impotent leadership in the West Bank and the intransigent hate-filled Hamas regime in Gaza. Making matters worse is the hatred between the Hamas and Fatah regimes which make a rapprochement between the two factions impossible.  

Both Israel and the Palestinian leadership need to reevaluate their attitudes towards each other and accept reality as it exists and not the fantasies that drive them.  

Israel  must cease its illegal settlement activity in the occupied territories and start drawing up plans for a phased withdrawal in an orderly fashion and the Palestinians must come to terms with the reality of Israel’s existence  and negotiate with it so that there will be peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. 

On the Israeli side there has been a change in priorities. Much of Israel’s high ranking officials in the municipalities around the country have been involved in bribery and corruption while profiteering business entrepreneurs have been investing in property paying off city engineers, mayors and city planners to get shady building plans passed. The latest scandal rocking Israel now is the Holy Land Project. The ugliest building complex has been built in Jerusalem. No thought was spared for the environment. The only thought was motivated by GREED and nothing else. I would not be exaggerating if I say that this building is one of the biggest eyesores in Israel. Who can afford to buy apartments in this despicable complex? Rich diamond-studded, armchair Zionists from the Diaspora will live there only a few months of the year. They will come “on pilgrimage” to Israel to identify with their people at best or to speculate at worst. Is this the Zionism of today? A Zionism motivated by greed, profit and support for the occupation. Who knows what further eyesores will be built if there is no freezing of settlements?

The continuing occupation, the erection of illegal buildings in Jerusalem, bribery and corruption has the lowest common denominator – greed – and this is despicable! Those suspects involved in the Holy Land project are under arrest and will stand trial. 

The pioneering spirit that was so much part of Israel’s history is undergoing a transformation towards corruption that can be described as destructive and cancerous in Israel’s society.                     

Be Sociable, Share!