Arab News (Editorial)
December 1, 2010 - 1:00am

We hear Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this week warning that the unresolved Jewish settlements issue is a time bomb waiting to blow apart any chance of a peace deal between Palestinians and Israelis. We hear, too, from international aid and human rights organizations that Israel’s claims to have eased the blockade on Gaza is a lie; it has had almost no effect and done nothing to improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians there. We hear, as well, that a poll of Israeli Jews finds that they are intolerant and suspicious of Israeli Arab citizens.

Does any of this come as a surprise? Is it astounding that the majority of Israelis have views in keeping with those of Avigdor Lieberman — the most rabid, neo-fascist foreign minister Israel has ever had?

Anything but. Week in, week out, there comes a flood of reports that together scream out that there is no chance of peace despite all the efforts of the Palestinian leadership and of the Arabs. Israel has battened down the hatches and is showing itself incapable of thinking beyond the ghetto mentality that it has created for itself. True, there are a number of brave Israelis who understand that compromises have to be made if Israel is to survive, who want to live alongside a Palestinian state. But they are swamped by a majority that has become more introverted and more aggressive than at any point in Israeli history — and it did not need an opinion poll to show it. If the Israelis were wholeheartedly committed to peace, Benjamin Netanyahu would not be the prime minister nor Lieberman its foreign minister.

What does not surprise either is that we see the US doing nothing to materially change any of this, despite President Barack Obama’s fine words about building relations with the Muslim world and his show of commitment to a settlement.

In this dangerously deteriorating climate, which plays directly into the hands of the militants and extremists, come siren voices from both the West and within the Muslim world saying that it is insanity for the Arabs to expect the US and the West to sort out their problems for them — even spineless — and that instead they have to stand together and take their destiny into their own hands.

It is a powerful and enticing argument and one that many letter writers to this paper and those who leave comments on the paper’s website make. But it forgets one crucial thing: Responsibility.

Israel would not be the power it is were it not armed to the teeth by the US. Without American support, it would not be able to continue its daily oppression of Palestinians and theft of their property. Americans who question that link should look to their own laws. Aiding and abetting is a criminal offense in US law. If a man gives a gun to another knowing that this second man may use it to murder a third, the first is arrested and tried as an accomplice to murder.

The US knows Israel by its policies. It knows what it does with the weapons it supplies. That makes Washington responsible every time an Israeli soldier kills an innocent Palestinian. That is why Arabs expect it to act. It is a matter of responsibility.


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