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EU’s principled stand on Palestine
Saudi Gazette Sunday July 21, 2013
By RAY HANANIA
The European Union dramatically announced this week that they would prohibit any cooperation with any of the racist and illegal settlements that Israel has constructed in the West Bank, such as Gilo, Ariel and others. These settlements are the obstacle that has prevented Palestinians and Israelis from achieving a peace accord based on compromise.
Israel is not the liberal bastion of years gone by, but rather a growing cesspool of extremism, emboldened by the blind and unconditional support and billions of tax dollars the Jewish state receives from America.
The sanctions may not be strong enough to make a difference. However, Israeli leaders, predictably, declared the EU’s watered-down sanctions as “discriminatory, hypocritical and unhelpful,” but those words are the precise words that describe Israel which continues to expand the settlements rather than sit down at the negotiating table in good faith to negotiate a final and lasting peace. The settlements are racist and they are discriminatory. They are built on land confiscated from Christians and Muslims and are settled only by Israelis who are Jews. Have you ever heard of an Israeli Christian settlement? It doesn’t exist.
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The settlements underscore Israel’s hypocrisies. While Israel publicly claims that it desperately wants a genuine peace, it insists that Palestinians return to the negotiating table without preconditions. But then, Israel imposes a litany of preconditions, such as excluding Jerusalem from the talks, and refusing to include leaders of Hamas.
If anyone invented the word “hypocrisy,” it is Israel. The Jewish state’s foreign policies are the definition of hypocrisy. And when it comes to being “unhelpful,” no one is more unhelpful than Israel.
If Israel really wanted peace, all it would have to do is stop taking land from the West Bank to build and expand racist settlements. Israel should end its racist and hate-filled public rhetoric, which reflects the region’s new anti-Semitism against the Christian and Muslim Arab people.
The real problem is that Israelis refuse to accept Palestine as a legitimate state. Most Israelis support the racist notion that the Palestinians do not exist and that they do not have a right to statehood. That refusal to accept Palestinians’ legitimate rights is the single most destructive obstacle preventing peace.
The EU sanctions are a welcome relief that reinforces what everyone in the world already recognizes. Israel is the primary obstacle to Middle East peace. The Arab world has made the most generous peace offer to Israel and Israel has refused to consider it. The Palestinians have recognized Israel’s right to exist, but Israel refuses to recognize the right of Palestine to exist. The Palestinians have recognized Israel’s borders along the 1967 “Green Line” but Israel refuses to recognize any borders, because it constantly is seeking to expand, stealing and illegally confiscating land from Christian and Muslim civilians.
The only reason Israel can get away with this outrageous misconduct is because it has the backing of the uninformed American public which has been brainwashed by years of Israeli propaganda and bullying. Israel and its supporters in America don’t care. They are satisfied to be ostracized by the rest of the world as long as the United States defends Israel’s outrageous misconduct.
However, the EU’s actions are more symbolic than they are substantive. The sanctions only apply to deals between the European Union, not to its 28 member states. The sanctions do not interfere with the EU’s imports and exports with Israel proper, and only isolate deals with Israeli interests in the occupied territories.
What is ironic is that while the EU is at least doing something, even if it is weak and ineffective, the Arab world, which should be at the forefront of defending Palestinian rights as the core foundation of the Arab Spring and the drive for “freedom”, is doing nothing.
Some Arab countries have direct or indirect relations with Israel. In fact, the Arab world is doing more for Israel than it is doing for the Palestinians. And the Islamic world is even worse, with many Islamic governments secretly communicating and giving Israel everything it wants allowing it to exist without paying the price of Palestinian freedom.
During the month of Ramadan, when Muslims around the world should be reflecting on what they are and are not doing to be righteous Muslims, their failure to stand up for Palestine exposes a key flaw.
Criticism of Israel is healthy. It is necessary in order to force Israel to do the right thing, something it is reluctant to do. But Israel won’t do the right thing if the Arab world doesn’t do the right thing first. Until the Arab world stands up for the rights of Palestinians, we will never have peace or freedom in the Middle East. All we will continue to have is conflict, violence, and a future filled with uncertainty.
– Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com or follow him on Twitter @RayHanania
- Hamas says return to peace talks a ‘disaster’ (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Israel Hit with EU War Crimes Sanctions (veteranstoday.com)
- (P)GCC hails ban on Israel settlements (rinf.com)
- Israel to free ‘heavyweight’ Palestinians in peace talk agreement (upi.com)
- J Street’s failures (rayhanania.com)
- Arab Spring brings uncertainty to Middle East Christians (rayhanania.com)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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