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24 May, 2009

Israel’s Rules of Non-Engagement

Originally Published: 24 May 2009

When President Barack Obama met the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks on the Middle East situation earlier last week, everyone knew who was boss. It was not Mr Obama.

The transcript of the press conference made fascinating reading. With Mr Netanyahu’s sly, cunning eyes firmly fixed on him, the hapless Mr Obama trotted out the usual talking points almost by rote.

It was quite apparent that he had been unequivocally told that Israel wants concrete action on Iran in exchange for more loose talk on Palestine.

Israel’s “wants” have featured in many previous Soul-Searching columns. Because they seemed to hit a new nadir during the Obama-Netanyahu talks, I thought compiling them into a proper list might help make them easier to comprehend. Here goes:

Israel’s security should be guaranteed as an independent Jewish state, but Israel should come under no pressure to guarantee the creation of a Palestinian state.

Iran should be denied absolutely any kind of nuclear capability but Israel should be allowed to maintain its stockpile of nuclear weapons. It should never even have to admit having them, leave aside be subjected to any non-proliferation treaties or inspections.

Iran should face a deadline for abandoning its nuclear programme but Israel should face no such deadline for withdrawing from occupied territories.

Iran should continue face more sanctions for “defying” the “international community” while Israel should face no such sanctions, no matter how many resolutions it, too, defies.

Israel should be free to decide when to restart talks with the Palestinians and how much occupied territory it will return. The Palestinians should gratefully accept what they are given.

Palestinians should observe all the agreements under the various roadmaps but Israel should not be held accountable for building illegal settlements on occupied lands, barricading Palestinians behind separation walls, restricting their movements through innumerable checkpoints or confining them to apartheid-style roads (one for Israelis, the other for Palestinians).

Jews should be free to come and settle in Israel by the droves, but Palestinian refugees displaced and expelled from their homes should be denied similar rights.

The occupied Palestinians should be totally disarmed. They should not fire their crude, home-made and hopelessly inaccurate rockets at innocent Israelis but Israelis should be free to pulverise innocent Palestinians with full force, including sophisticated, American-made F16 jet fighters, laser-guided bombs, cluster bombs and white phosphorous.

Israel should be free to brand its critics as terrorists, anti-Semites, Islamofascists, jihadists, or any other new-fangled tag-name that they can come up with.

Israelis should be free to decide what is anti-Semitism and who is anti-Semitic. The whole world should fight all forms of anti-Semitism and Islamic terrorism, with the definitions of both being articulated by the Israelis.

Palestinians should never be referred to as freedom fighters seeking independence from Israeli occupation.

Israelis should be free to elect right-wing governments that see its Jewish fundamentalist fanatics get pivotal Cabinet seats while Palestinians should exercise their democratic right to only vote for “moderates” like Fatah.

The entire Arab world should recognise and normalise relations with Israel, while Israel should be free to decide which Arabs will get even the most basic access to pray at the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Israeli sportsmen should get visas to play in all international events, especially in the Arab world while anyone who wants to visit just Palestine should be forced to seek a visa at an Israeli embassy, and be considered guilty until proven innocent via a whole slew of humiliating, intrusive questions.

Israel should not be criticised in world forums. The U.N. should not pass any anti-Israel resolutions or hold any conferences that could be construed as “hate-fests”.

Israel should not face any sanctions, inquiries or investigations, except those which it conducts itself. Its military officers and politicians should not face any war crimes tribunals, and its leaders should never be taken to court for human rights violations. Only Nazis and Islamic terrorists should be hunted down with a vengeance.

Universities and foreign correspondents clubs should not organise any events that could lead to criticism of Israel or Israeli policies.

Mossad agents should be free to carry out extra-judicial assassinations of all opponents, and Israeli forces should be free to kidnap Palestinians and demolish the homes of the families of suicide bombers.

Arab and Islamic charities should be investigated for funding terrorism but Israeli businessmen should not be investigated for providing financial help and succor to the Israeli occupation.

The kidnapping of one lone soldier by the Palestinians, Gilad Shalit, should become a worldwide issue but the Israeli killing of Americans like Rachel Corrie and Britons like Tom Hurndall should be ignored.

The world should focus on the humanitarian crisis in Darfur but ignore the Israeli economic strangulation of Gaza.

Holocaust day should be commemorated every year everywhere, and continue to be the subject of a never-ending stream of movies, books, TV series, documentaries, lectures, but the anniversary of the “Nakba” as well as Israeli-backed massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila camps should be banned or ignored.

The world must join the “war on terror” and buy more military and security equipment from Israeli defence contractors, and supply the Israelis with the intelligence they need for this effort.

Jewish minorities in Islamic countries like Morocco and Iran should be treated with utmost respect but the Palestinian Arabs in Israel should continue to be treated like second-class citizens.

Christians, Hindus and Buddhists should join Jews in the “shared-values” battle against Muslims, the common threat.

The world should read the “Diary of Anne Frank” but “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” should be removed from all libraries and bookshelves.

Everybody should unquestioningly and uncritically believe everything the Israelis say – especially the disinformation campaigns carried out against Iran.

The Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims should realise who is boss and do exactly what they are told.

Sadly, most of them are only too happy to oblige.