John Kerry Conducted a Theatre of the Absurd in Amman


Mazin Qumsiyeh – Middle East Eye

No one takes US ‘peace plan’ efforts seriously anymore – Amman meetings were proof of that.

14 Nov 2014 – US Secretary John Kerry met in Amman with King Abdullah, PM Netanyahu, and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas for the umpteenth episode of the ongoing theatre saga dubbed the “peace process.”

Just across the river in occupied Palestine, a sadly familiar scene continues to unfold: increased colonial activities; attempts to drive Jerusalemites out of the occupied city and make it into a Jewish on; restrictions on millions of Muslims and Christians from reaching their Holy sites; home demolitions; random and bizarre acts of violence; and 6,000 political prisoners languishing in Israeli gulags/prisons.

Seven million of us Palestinian are refugees or displaced people (out of a population of 12 million). Land left for us to live on in historic Palestine is now a mere 8 percent of our historic land (that includes the cantons left for us in the Galilee, Naqab, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank).

Millions of Jewish settlers from Europe and other parts of the world now control 92 percent of the land, more than 90 percent of the water, all border crossings, and all other natural resources in the country. Israel’s latest assault on the besieged people of Gaza this year killed 2,170 and injured 10,900 human beings. About 80 percent of these casualties were civilians, including 519 children who were killed and 2,114 children who were injured.

During that genocidal assault, Kerry had nothing but praise for the colonizers.

Zionism started here in the 19th century as a colonial movement to change a multi-religious flourishing Palestine (3 percent Jewish at the time) into the Jewish state of Israel in the Levant (JSIL).

The support of western powers was and continues to be critical for JSIL’s establishment and (increasingly more expensive) maintenance. Kerry’s intentions were made clear by his statements that were directed toward the goal of supporting JSIL. Not one word was mentioned about Palestinian rights.

The rich, manoeuvring, and conniving politicians can continue their macabre theatre in places like Amman and Washington and Ramallah and Tel Aviv, while millions of destitute people suffer and continue to stew with anger as they try to liberate themselves.

The question remains when will this insanity end and do meetings like those in Amman merely prolong the agony and give cover to ongoing atrocities? Most people here understand that the USA cannot be a peace broker when it continues to fund Israel to the tune of billions of dollars a year, arm it to the teeth, and shield it from international law by using its veto power at the UN against the will of the international community.

The US/Israel-created “Palestinian Authority” (PA) is now dominated by men more concerned for their jobs than the future of Palestine. This was the trap that was created in the negotiations in Norway in 1993 (the Oslo accords). Since then, the number of Israeli colonial settlers in the West Bank alone rose from 180,000 to 650,000. More and more, life for us – the remaining Palestinians – has become unbearable.

Maintaining a racist system has meant creating and pushing an Israeli educational and social system that increasingly forces its population to the extremes – a development that helps to explains mosque torching, random attacks on civilians with impunity, and more.

Former Israeli Knesset Member, Avraham Berg, has come to clearly understand this in his later years, writing recently in Haaretz that:

“Here are Israel’s shallow prime minister and the bumbling police, the masses who cling to futile prayers and not to a moment of human peace. Here are the country’s hypocritical chief rabbis, who just a month ago demanded promises from the Pope regarding the future of the Jewish people, but in their daily lives remain silent about the fate of the people who are our neighbours, trampled beneath the pressure of occupation and racism under the leadership of rabbis who receive exorbitant salaries and benefits….we are incapable of understanding the suffering of a whole society, its cry, and the future of an entire nation that has been kidnapped by us.”

Declassified documents confirm now the analysis of many writers who have long argued that starting right after the 1973 war, PLO leadership including Mahmoud Abbas (of Fatah) and Nayef Hawatmeh (of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine or DFLP) were eager for a resolution that falls short of securing basic Palestinian rights, in exchange for the promise of self-determination.

There are certain inflexible positions that preclude arriving even at this sell-out positions of giving up 78 percent of historic Palestine to settle for what an American official described in 1973 as the “rump entity” and now commonly referred to as the Palestinian Authority in (parts of) the West Bank and Gaza. One major obstacle is the “enduring special relationship” between Israel and the US that Kerry speaks about and that is shaped for many decades worth of persistent Zionist lobbing in Washington.

But more and more people outside of the narrow circle of politicians are speaking out for Palestinian rights. Most people know that negotiations between occupied and occupier will get us nowhere because the math does not add-up.

Israel gets $12 bn profit every year from its occupation and that is not counting the billions from US taxpayers or the billions from arms sales marketed as “battle tested” (on the guinea pigs in Gaza).

Freedom is never freely given by the privileged oppressor to the oppressed but it must be extracted and demanded with pain and sacrifice. Resistance from inside must be complemented by support from outside that includes topics like the growing campaigns of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS).

Many hope that politicians will show some leadership and take steps to enact positive change but most of us know that we the people must act first and that is the way history changes.

Many internationals show solidarity because Palestine today is the lightning rod exposing hypocrisy and racism in the same way that South Africa provided such a beacon in the 1980s.

Most people also now understand that unless human rights and international law are observed uniformly, the “Middle East” (Western Asia) and the whole world risks of continuing down the path of mayhem and killings, a might makes right approach to existence.

We must all continue and strive to travel the different path of justice and coexistence. In the meantime, let the political theatre of the absurd play to empty seats in Amman and elsewhere.


Mazin Qumsiyeh is author of Sharing the Land of Canaan and Popular Resistance in Palestine. He is a professor at Bethlehem University and director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History.

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