Finland YLE

An Ongoing Conversation With a YLE Journalist…….

I neglect to name the journalist in question due to the privacy of the email exchange, but it’s such a classic example of the ideology in play for much of the Finnish foreign news media, that I decided to blog it.

Dear sir, I must agree that our views do in fact differ greatly, but as you said, “it’s good to argue in a civilized manner.” I’ll add, if one can’t make his/her point without resorting to the use of ill manors, then the person/s is rather unsure of their own position’s validity.

YLE journalist: “Of course, the settlements have been a major obstacle to peace or even the easing of relations between Israelis and Palestinians. It’s easy to imagine what the Palestinian inhabitants of the occupied territories have been thinking when the number of settlers has doubled during the “peace process” in the 1990s. Khartoum’s No’s are from 1967, before, for ex., the peace agreement with Egypt, so they are totally irrelevant in this connection. Barak’s offer in 2000 was never spelled out in detail.”

I must first beg to differ with you concerning the overall importance of the settlements in conjunction with reaching a permanent peace settlement with the Palestinians. In order for your statement to convince, the settlements must have been of the same equal importance during the height of the Oslo bargaining process before the representatives of the PLO and Israel signed the agreements on the front lawn of the White House. The fact remains, that the Oslo accords –in the Declaration of Principles and the Interim Agreement– “contained no such provision prohibiting or restricting the establishment or expansion of Israeli settlements” [1.]

Though the number of settlers increased during the Oslo period, a vast portion of that number took up residence in Ma’ale Adumim, a major suburb, and only a relative 5-10 minute drive from Jerusalem. Any future peace would deal with the realities of a “land swap”, with portions of Israel being handed over for portions of the WB. If real peace –meaning an end to the conflict for all times– is a real priority for the majority of the Palestinians, then land issues –through compromise– are only a matter of details. I have always maintained that when Jews living in the WB are as safe as the Arabs in Nazareth, then the conflict has indeed ended.

As for Ehud Barak’s peace initiative at the 2000 Camp David peace talks, I will have to differ with you once more. Barak’s offer was very much “spelled out in detail”, as former president Bill Clinton, his advisor/negotiator Dennis Ross and other notables present at the presidential retreat have testified to. Even Abu Mazen conceded that “The temptations were in what was offered … [but] despite the fact that it was true that they offered things that were never offered before, it never reached the level of our aspirations.” [2.] Return of the +200 000 actual refugees and their millions of decendents to Israel could never be a realistic option, you know that as well as I.

YLE journalist: “As for water, well, the illegal settlers have it abundantly, even for swimming pools, whereas Israel has strictly controlled Palestinians’ use of it,, for ex. drilling of wells etc.

I am very amazed by your statement, I know for a fact that Israel obtains roughly, “40% of its water from the Sea of Galilee and the Coastal Aquifer,both of which are entirely within Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Another 30 percent comes from the Western and Northeastern Aquifers of the Mountain Aquifer system. These two aquifers straddle the Green Line that separates Israel from the West Bank, but most of the stored water is under pre-1967 Israel, making it easily accessible only in Israel.” [3.]

Also very interesting, is that Israel pipes “over the green line” into the WB from Israel, 40 MCM (million cubic meters) of water….annually, Ramallah gets over 5MCM as well as Gaza getting 4MCM. According to this scenario, the Palestinians are getting Israeli water. It’s a well known fact that during the Oslo years, Israel had dug a number of wells for the Arabs in the WB, only to see their work go for naught because the Palestinians failed to lay the pipe necessary for its delivery to the towns people. Also, Israel supplies around 600,000 CM of water to ten otherwise dry villages in S.Lebanon, as well as providing more than 55 MCM annually to Jordan.
Water issues are a concern, but between friendly neighbors it’s an issue that can be solved through compromise and know how. Desalinization is one of the measures Israel has embarked upon to help with the water issue, I believe that one has already been built with Gaza in mind.

YLE journalist: “Of course, UNSCR 242 with its preamble and four paragraphs is a binding resolution if anything is. The issue of the definite article is sophistry. The core points of 242 are: Israel must withdraw and the security of every state in the area, including of course Israel, must be guaranteed. Note that Palestinians are not even mentioned in the text which speaks only of “a just settlement of the refugee problem”. But Jordan has renounced its claim for the West Bank, and Egypt had never annexed Gaza. So the international consensus is that these are the areas where the Palestinian state should be established. There are no disputed territories except if one interprets words so that stolen property is disputed property.”

I know the arguments of the issue inside and out, and know very well that the article “THE” being absent from UNSCR 242 was not accidental, and most definitely not any kind of sophistry, and goes to the very heart of the present day understanding of the conflict. The wording was hotly debated by the UNSC reps during the ratification process, Under Secretary of State, “Eugene Rostow, an American drafter of 242, said “motions to require the withdrawal of Israel from “the” territories or “all the territories” occupied in the course of the Six Day War were put forward many times with great linguistic ingenuity. They were all defeated both in the General Assembly and in the Security Council.” [4.]

The United States’ UN Ambassador at the time, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, states: The notable omissions – which were not accidental – in regard to withdrawal are the words “the” or “all” and the “June 5, 1967 lines” … the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal. [This would encompass] less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territory, inasmuch as Israel’s prior frontiers had proved to be notably Insecure.[5.]

Included in the same url link in number 5, is the words of another important US figure that weighed in on the subject in 2002. Max M. Kampelman, former counselor of the US State Department, “said in a letter to The New York Times on April 8, 2002, referring to “territories recaptured from Jordan in 1967, territories that Jordan captured in its war against Israel in 1948-49“: The United States voted in favor of Resolution 242 only after insisting that “all” had no place in it. The United Nations instead referred to the need to arrive at “secure and recognized” boundaries.”

Also, the British UN Ambassador at the time, Lord Caradon, who introduced the resolution to the Council, has stated:”It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places where the soldiers of each side happened to be on the day the fighting stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That’s why we didn’t demand that the Israelis return to them.”

Those are the detailed facts, UNSC recognized that Israel could not be expected to return to indefensible borders, they also recognized Israel’s occupation of the disputed territories as being legal. The fact that UNSCR 242 is a chapter 6 type resolution testifies, as well as underlines that important fact. If Israel was illegally occupying the WB and Gaza, that resolution would have been a chapter seven resolution as UNSCR 690 was which demanded Iraq to leave Kuwait [6.] These are the hard cold facts, you might not like them very much, but that does not change the history that surrounds the document. I remember reading that Eugene Rostow dismissed any talk of UNSCR 242 being “ambiguous”, stating to the contrary that it’s certainly a very clear document, with the drafters intentions for the document being well known during and after its ratification by the UN Security Council.

YLE journalist: Israel’s “right to exist as a Jewish state” sounds nice and fair. But what about a Jewish state where about one fifth of its inhabitants are non-Jews, Palestinian Arabs. The notion of a “Jewish state” is comparable to the notions of “White state”, “Christian state” or, for that matter, “Muslim state” (of which there are many in the Middle East). Well, I think that any state that defines itself by some ethno-religious criterion lacks something in democracy. What would we think here if Finland were defined as a “Lutheran Christian state” or simply as a “Finnish state” if “Finnishness” had to be defined by some property of individuals — ethnic origin, religious beliefs, or whatever — as in Israel where there’s an almost continual public debate about the question of who is a Jew.

Here we see on an international level the same debate that has been around for centuries locally, the non-Jewish world cannot mentally wrap their minds around the fact that the collective Jew (Israel) is on equal par/footing with the rest of the world. Who are we to tell Jews in Israel what kind of state they should and should not have? Israel’s Jewish character, right, wrong or indifferent, is their issue alone, and they themselves will define who and what they are, without the outside world sticking its unwanted nose in their internal business.

Israel’s Jewish character also safeguards the right for Jews world wide to immigrate in times of trouble, due to the constant threat of anti-semitism. Simply put, Israel –regardless of what some Jews and non-Jews think or like to think– is a safety release valve for world Jew hate. The fact that non-Jews live in Israel does not detract from its democratic nature one iota. There are safe guards in its democracy that assures justice for all. Do injustices exist? Of course they do, but like in any democratic society, the possibility for change exists.

Who is a Jew is a problem for Jews to decide themselves, but to deny straight away that they are not both a belief system as well as an ethnic group, is wrong. I’m not saying that you’re not sympathetic towards Jews in general, but since you have a cosmopolitan, internationalist socialist world view, I assume that Jewish nationalism, or any nationalism will be viewed as undesirable.

YLE journalist: “In contrast to Israel’s “right to exist as a Jewish state”, there is a real Hebrew speaking Israeli Jewish nation in the Middle East, and people belonging to it have national rights, a right to national self-determination, the same rights that Palestinian Arabs claim forthemselves. The problem is to accommodate the rights of both in a democratic Israel/Palestine. I don’t think it’s impossible but it’sextremely difficult and complicated. In a way the question of how many states it requires is a secondary one. The main question is to recognizethe abosolute equality of Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs on paper and in practice. You may think that I’m “pro-Palestinian” but it’s not true.Neither am I “anti-Israeli”; I’m against the occupation of Palestinian lands and for equal rights for BOTH Israelis and Palestinians in the small piece of land where they live. I suppose our views differ quite a lot. But it’s good to argue in acivilized manner.”

The problem as I see it is as follows. The conflict will drag on as long as an ever growing Palestinian population is encouraged that a “greater Palestine” is somehow attainable. Peace is made not with one’s enemies, but with one’s “former enemies”. The incitement of Jews and Israel throughout the Palestinian media, mosques and schools and youth camps speaks not of a society readying its people for an eventual peace with a “former enemy”. On the contrary, it speaks of a leadership, political and religious, that wants to maintain a level of hate in order to keep the conflict going, in order to wear the other side down through attrition.

I feel that if you were to show in a significant way to the Finnish people what actually takes place inside the Palestinian’s internal dialogue concerning Israel’s right to exist, Jews in general and ending the conflict once and for all, there would be less and less sympathy shown towards the Palestinians. You have quite a dilemma on your hands. *L* KGS


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