Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Gideon Levy: The friend

6 May 2010

By Gideon Levy, Haaretz – 6 May 2010

Gideon Levy

Gideon Levy

The settlers of Pisgat Ze’ev, the intruders of Sheikh Jarrah, the people who covet Silwan, the infiltrators into the Muslim Quarter and you, the mayor of the nationalist city, Nir Barkat, can stop worrying: (All of) Jerusalem is yours, forever. Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel met at the White House with his friend, Barack Obama, on a mission from his other friend, Benjamin Netanyahu, and when he came out he said he had the impression that Obama respected his advice to postpone discussions on Jerusalem.

With friends like that, Israel doesn’t need enemies. Sixty-two years after declaring its sovereignty, Israel still needs Jewish influence peddlers – one time it’s Wiesel and one time it’s Ron Lauder – to appeal to the nobleman. Forty-three years since the occupation started and these people are only working to perpetuate it.

There are not many Jews like Wiesel, to whom the White House door is open and the president lends an ear. And what does Wiesel do with this golden opportunity? He talks to Obama about postponing discussions on Jerusalem. Not about the need for an end to the occupation, not about the opportunity to establish a just peace (and a just Israel ), not about the outrageous injustice to the Palestinians. Only perpetuating the occupation.

Instead of a figure considered so moral taking advantage of a presidential meal to urge his host to end Israel’s endless foot-dragging, Wiesel haggled for wholesale postponement. He did this ostensibly for the good of a country whose prime minister, just one year ago, gave his two-state speech, but has not lifted a finger to implement it. A country with which Syria is almost begging to make peace and against which the Palestinians have long stopped using terror. But it continues in its refusal to make peace. In light of all this, what does the friend recommend? To postpone. Postpone and postpone, like Netanyahu, who sent him, asked him to do.

The man the Nobel Prize committee said is “a messenger to mankind; his message is one of peace, atonement and human dignity,” is doing just the opposite. Not peace, not atonement and not human dignity, certainly not for the Palestinians. After the ridiculous ad campaign in the American press, based on the fact that Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible (“more than 600 times” ) and not once in the Koran, perhaps, heaven forbid, the American president of change will listen to the bad advice of his friend, the Holocaust survivor, and decimate any chance for peace.

Wiesel will make arrangements and Obama will postpone. Around a quarter of a million Palestinians will continue to live another generation under Israeli occupation. A quarter of a million? Three and a half million, because to Obama, Wiesel and in fact everyone, it’s clear that without dividing Jerusalem there will be no peace.

And what if Obama postpones discussions on Jerusalem as his friend requested? Postpone until when? For another 43 years? Maybe another 430 years? And what will happen in the meantime? Another 100,000 settlers? A Hamas government in the West Bank, too? And why? Because Jerusalem isn’t mentioned in the Koran, its Palestinian residents don’t have a right to self-determination?

And what about the sanctity of Jerusalem as the third holiest city in Islam after Mecca and Medina? What does sanctity have to do with sovereignty, anyhow? What will happen if once again the discussion is postponed and they talk about water, as Netanyahu wants? These are all questions the friend was not asked.

How depressing to think that these are currently the Jewish people’s greatest role models. It’s as if they think that automatic and blind support of Israel and its caprices means true friendship – that perpetuating the occupation serves Israel’s goals rather than endangers its future. It’s as if they let their conscience speak out about the world’s injustices, but when it comes to Israel’s injustices they have a veil over their eyes and their voice falls silent.

If I were Elie Wiesel, such a famous Holocaust survivor, a Nobel Prize laureate whose voice is heard in high places, I would ask my friend in the White House, for the sake of peace, Israel’s future and world peace: Please, Mr. President, be forceful. Israel depends on you as never before. Isolated as never before, it’s as good as dead without American support. Therefore, Mr. President, I would say to Obama over the kosher meal that was served, be a true friend of Israel and extricate it from its misfortune.

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