Palestine & Israel 2014: Beyond Recognition

This article appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of the Massachusetts Peace Action newsletter


Every chapter in the agonizingly long “Middle East Peace Process” ends badly, and the 2014 installment proved no exception.  

We ask again:  amidst the wreckage, is there the glimmer of freedom and a just peace?  Much of the world – now including parliaments in Europe – perceives more than a glimmer.  

While the brutality and carnage are familiar, at least two dynamics, not altogether new but rapidly intensi­fying, promise a dissolution of the status quo.

First, Palestine is assuming the shape of nationhood, even in the eyes of the West, even without Security Coun­cil validation. As EU policy on Pal­estinian “recognition” gains co­her­ence, opposition to Palestine’s join­­ing the International Criminal Court will surely erode – and ICC rulings are the best chance for “bringing to justice” violators of international law.

Second, Israel’s drift to the hard right has become a fact. Overtly racist attacks by settlers in the occu­pied territories and by Israeli extre­mists inside the 1967 border have become commonplace. Flagrantly anti-­demo­cratic measures that for­mer­ly would have been denied a first reading in the Knesset are now the norm.  The “Jewish Nation-State Law,” which subordinates Israel’s democracy to its Judaic values, has distressed even such stalwart Israel-backers as the Anti-Defamation League.

Polling for the upcoming Israeli elect­ion indicates a further swing to the right (by as much as 16 Knesset seats, or 25%).  The Israel that once claimed to serve as a beacon of tol­er­ance and democratic pluralism is changing beyond recognition.

What does this mean for liberals in the US Congress who face a re-ener­gized right here at home? We hope it will be a salutary shock, leading at least to moderation of routine Con­gressional support for Israel and criticism of Pales­tine. MAPA’s Pales­tine/ Israel Working Group continues its efforts to change the perceptions and votes of the Massachusetts delegation and to counter the influ­ence of the Israel lobby. But there is far to go before we can stem the flow of US arms to a foreign military that violates international law.  

Last month a State Department spokesperson, mentioning our “impor­tant security relationship with Israel,” was asked if “no amount of announcements of new housing units or new settlements in the West Bank is going to have any impact on that security relationship, right?”  

“Correct,” was her one-word reply.

Like Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion this summer that Israel will never “relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan,” this is a bottom line that the rest of the world will certainly reject.