[News] The grumpy diplomats of the rogue state

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 22 11:15:29 EDT 2011

The grumpy diplomats of the rogue state

<http://electronicintifada.net/people/ilan-pappe>Ilan Pappe
22 July 2011

The Israeli ambassador to 
Raphael Schutz, has just finished his term in 
Madrid. In an op-ed in Haaretz’s Hebrew edition 
he summarized what he termed as a very dismal 
stay and seemed genuinely relieved to leave.

This kind of complaint seems now seems to be the 
standard farewell letter of all Israeli 
ambassadors in Western Europe. Schutz was 
preceded by the Israeli ambassador to London, Ron 
Prosor, on his way to his new posting at the 
United Nations in New York, complaining very much 
in the same tone about his inability to speak in 
campuses in the United Kingdom and whining about 
the overall hostile atmosphere. Before him the 
ambassador in Dublin expressed similar relief 
when he ended his term in office in Ireland.

All three grumblers were pathetic but the last 
one from Spain topped them all. Like his 
colleagues in Dublin and in London he blamed his 
dismal time on local and ancient anti-Semitism. 
His two friends in the other capitals were very 
vague about the source of the new anti-Semitism 
as both in British and Irish history it is 
difficult to single out, after medieval times, a 
particular period of anti-Semitism.

But the ambassador in Madrid without any 
hesitation laid the blame for his trials and 
tribulations on the fifteenth century Spanish 
Inquisition. Thus the people of Spain (his 
article was entitled 
the Spanish hate us”) are anti-Israeli because 
they are either unable to accept their 
responsibility for the Inquisition or they still 
endorse it by other means in our times.

This idea that young Spaniards should be moved by 
atrocities committed more than 500 years ago and 
not by criminal policies that take place today, 
or the notion that one could single out the 
Spanish Inquisition as sole explanation for the 
wide public support for the Palestinian cause in 
Spain, can only be articulated by desperate 
Israeli diplomats who have long ago lost the moral battle in Europe.

But this new complaint ­ and I am confident that 
there are more to come ­ exposes something far 
more important. The civil society struggle in 
support of Palestinian rights in key European 
countries has been successful. With few 
resources, sometimes dependent on the work of 
very small groups of committed individuals, and 
aided lately by its biggest asset ­ the present 
government of Israel - this campaign has indeed 
made life quite hellish for every Israeli diplomat in that part of the world.

So when we come and assess what is ahead of us, 
we who have been active in the West are entitled 
to a short moment of satisfaction at a job well done.

The three grumpy ambassadors are also right in 
sensing that not only has Israeli policy in the 
occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip come under 
attack, but also the very racist nature of the 
Jewish state has galvanized decent and 
conscientious citizens ­ many of them Jewish ­ 
around the campaign for peace and justice in Palestine.

Outside the realm of occupation and the daily 
reality of oppression all over Israel and 
Palestine, one can see more clearly that 
history’s greatest lesson will eventually reveal 
itself in Palestine as well: evil regimes do not 
survive forever and democracy, equality and peace 
will reach the Holy Land, as it will the rest of the Arab world.

But before this happens we have to extricate 
ourselves from the politicians’ grip on our 
lives. In particular we should not be misled by 
the power game of politicians. The move to 
declare Palestine, within 22 percent of its 
original being, as an 
state at the UN is a charade whether it succeeds or not.

A voluntary Palestinian appeal to the 
international community to recognize Palestine as 
a West Bank enclave and with a fraction of the 
Palestinian people in it, may intimidate a 
Likud-led Israeli government, but it does not 
constitute a defining moment in the struggle for 
the liberation of Palestine. It would either be a 
non-event or merely provide the Israelis a 
pretext for further annexation and dispossession.

This is another gambit in the power game 
politicians play which has led us nowhere. When 
Palestinians solve the issue of representation 
and the international community exposes Israel 
for what it is ­ namely the only racist country 
in the Middle East ­ then politics and reality can fuse again.

And slowly and surely we will be able to put back 
the pieces and create the jigsaw of 
reconciliation and truth. This must be based on 
the twofold recognition that a solution has to 
include all the Palestinians (in the occupied 
territories, in exile and inside Israel) and has 
to be based on the construction of a new regime 
for the whole land of historical Palestine, 
offering equality and prosperity for all the 
people who live there now or were expelled from 
it by force in the last 63 years of Israel’s existence.

The obvious discomfort the three diplomats felt 
and expressed is not due to any cold shoulder 
shown to them in local foreign ministries or 
governments. And therefore while many Europeans 
can make their lives miserable, their respective 
governments can still look the other way.

Whether it is financial desperation and external 
Israeli and American pressure that bought 
collaboration against the 
Freedom Flotilla or it is the power of 
intimidation that silences even progressive 
newspapers like the Guardian in the West, 
Israel’s immunity is still granted despite its diplomats’ misery.

This is why we should ensure that not only 
Israeli ambassadors feel uncomfortable in 
European capitals, but also all those who support 
them or are too afraid to confront Israel and hold it to account.

Ilan Pappe is Professor of History and Director 
of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at 
the University of Exeter. His most recent book is 
of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel (Pluto Press, 2010).

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