The world has finally granted a birth certificate to the people of Palestine. It has been a long wait. At the end of a democratic vote, 138 nations at the general assembly voted to give the Palestinian authority a non-voting observer state status while only nine countries voted against with 41 abstentions.
The USA and Israel exerted immense political and diplomatic pressure, especially in Europe, to try to block the recognition of Palestine. There are 50 countries in Europe with 27 countries member states of the European Union. 49 of those countries either voted for the recognition of Palestine or abstained such as the UK and Germany. Only the Czech Republic voted against the resolution. It is not clear what hold the US or Israel has over the Czech government.
Wikileaks shows that the US will exert pressure over countries that refuse to follow in its footsteps such as threats to cut off aid, expose corrupt government individuals, freeze foreign assets, block visas, withdraw military or corporate backing of a country.
The world has changed. The rest of the world is willing to stand up to the bullying tactics of successive US governments. The White House, the CIA and US military spent decades systematically destroying left wing governments and grass root organisations in central and South America. US corporations bled southern neighbours of their resources and ensured that only regimes sympathetic to the US foreign policy and vested corporate interests remained in control. Those days have largely gone. People in the Arab nations are now in revolt against their despotic leaders that America backed for decades to sustain political influence or invaded to keep oil in private hands.
We are in a new era. There has been an ongoing resentment towards US foreign policy worldwide including its unquestioning support of Israel’s foreign policy, especially to the Arab people, aid agencies and international peace activists.
Israel also lives in the past. The days when Arab dictators yelled threats at Israel to get their submissive Arab populations on board are largely over. Successive Israel governments have succeeded in losing 99% of the world’s sympathy in the space of a generation through Israel’s invasions of the Lebanon, the bombing and killings of the people of Gaza, the assassinations of its elected leaders, the 7000 political Palestinian prisoners, the terrible impact of the occupation on the West Bank, the consistent abuse of human rights and the ongoing land grab for the settlements. Yes, there are those under occupation in the West Bank or trapped in Gaza, the world’s biggest open prison, who have some very serious soul searching to do as well.
Palestinian delegations have quietly travelled the world to explain to governments, aid agencies and people everywhere their plight. The world listened. Palestinians were overwhelmed with delight at the support for their plight from the nations of the UN.
A tiny, tiny fraction of countries rejected the Palestinian plea for a birth certificate. After the USA ,the eight nations who voted against the birth certificate for Palestine were:
Israel (population: 7.8 million),
Canada (33 million),
Czech Republic (10 million),
Panama (3 million),
Marshal Islands (68,000),
Apart from the Czech Republic with the population of a large city, these countries either live in the shadow of the USA (Canada and Panama) or are tiny islands dependent on USA for aid. These little countries with the population of a small to medium size town, cannot afford to displease the White House and the Senate because they fear punishment through withdrawal of aid.
The world is in a process of change. The USA and Israel have become isolated. The world is willing to stand up and be counted. The world took a democratic vote and overwhelmingly said YES to Palestine. The Israeli government immediately reverted to form – they punished the Palestinians for refusing to submit to the demands of the occupiers. So Israel authorised another land grab for settlements and blocking of money intended to pay the wages of Palestinian civil servants, teachers and social workers.
The US and Israel need to take notice of worldwide democracy and, as they say, eat humble pie. There has been a massive fading away of sympathy for Israel due entirely to the policies of the Israeli government and the actions of the Israeli armed forces. With their birth certificate, and the world’s sympathy, the Palestinians now have access to the International Criminal Court.
On a personal note: I have been teaching in Israel and visiting the West Bank for 20 years. I have received nothing but warmth and kindness in Israel, despite my views, and equally among Palestinians – despite the dirty fingerprint of British foreign policy in the region for decades. Israelis and Palestinians have argued their point with me and I have argued my point, too, in a mutual spirit to find the way forward.
I believe the good people of Israel have to ask themselves a dangerous question: Is our government anti-Semitic?