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As the hot summer months approach, Israel enters the school vacation period with lethargy, boredom and increased apathy. The biggest worry for parents of young school-going children is what to do with them during the hot, unpleasant, summer months which somehow bakes our brains and dulls the senses.

 

The Arab uprisings are continuing and the cruel massacres of Syrians opposing the Bashar Assad tyranny goes on unabated creating a horrendous refugee problem as Syrian families flee into Turkey. Over 1500 Syrians have lost their lives. The Syrian opposition opposes Iran and Hezbollah, who are Assad's cruel allies. They want them out of Syria. This is not the case in Gaza. Iran and Hezbollah are arming Hamas, not for the achievement of human rights and democracy in Gaza, but for their own cruel agenda of oppression and colonization of future Palestine under their fanatic influence.

 

Another hotspot in the uprising is Libya where NATO Forces seem to be embroiled in a situation that is approaching a stalemate as Qaddafi clings to power stubbornly. He continues to abuse his people and suppress them with a cruelty that is beyond description. This is barely mentioned in the Israeli Press.

 

The main coverage in Israel is the price of local cottage cheese and the corruption in the national soccer clubs of fixing matches and timetables.

 

What does cottage cheese have to do with peace? At first glance - nothing! However, the cheese prices resulted in a determination amongst the Israeli public to fight the price rise by rallying to the boycott of cottage cheese until the price falls. Naturally, a Face book page was created to increase support for this boycott.

 

When something of this nature hits the pockets of Israelis they know how to protest and force the government to take action despite the oppressive summer heat.

 

When it comes to peace negotiations with the Palestinians in order to solve the conflict there is total apathy. Most Israelis are dulled by a sense of apathy. They avoid mention of the subject. There seems to be unawareness in Israel of the Arab uprising in the neighbouring countries. As far as they are concerned, the status quo is wonderful - business as usual - and no sign of any end to the building of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian lands. Both Israelis and Palestinians do not view each other as partners for peace - each side for its own reasons.

 

Israel's economy is strong, the wealthy are getting wealthier, and the poor are getting poorer. This is all part of "Bibinomics" and lack of concern for Israel's people. This also creeps into decision making as far as peace is concerned. The pandering to the right wing settler movements to maintain coalition support is self-destructive.

 

If only Israel's citizens would demonstrate their opposition to the right wing government's policy of occupation and expansion with the determination they showed in their opposition to the rising prices of cottage cheese then we would find a partner for peace negotiations with the Palestinians. It is time that both sides lay down their mantras and be serious about achieving a just and lasting peace. This would involve painful concessions on both sides. For Israel it would mean withdrawal to the 1967 pre-June borders with agreed land swaps based on the Obama plan. The Palestinians will have to give up on the right of return of 1948 refugees and be satisfied with financial compensation. Jews who escaped from Arab lands in 1948 must also be compensated for the loss in their property and valuables by the Arab states concerned. Jerusalem must be recognized as the capital of both Israel and Palestine even if it is divided according to demography as agreed upon by both sides. This could be done by division into municipalities responsible for the welfare of both peoples.

 

It seems unlikely that the Palestinians and Hamas agreements will last. They are already showing signs of disagreement as to having Salam Fayyad as prime minister in an interim government until new elections are held. Hamas is opposed which is hardly surprising. Hamas has no interest in rehabilitating their people. Their strength lies in poverty and ignorance. Progress and democracy as well as Palestinian human rights will sign the death knell of that notorious, merciless group of brigands. They are a branch of Ahmadinajad's hateful regime in Iran.

 

This now brings me to the "peace flotilla" scheduled to make its way to Gaza. While opposing the Israeli blockade on Gaza for humanitarian reasons, the flotilla strengthens and aids Hamas in Gaza. We must oppose the flotilla for this reason. Hamas is not democratic nor is it concerned with human rights. It is of the same mould of extremism and hate as the evil Iranian regime. Opposition against Hamas is treated cruelly and without mercy! If the "peace flotilla" would oppose Hamas as well as the Israeli blockade on Gaza then it is deserving of support. However, this is not the case. It is also doubtful whether humanitarian aid that it carries will reach those Palestinians in need rather than fall into the hands of Hamas rulers and their ilk. Surely this is a good enough reason to oppose the flotilla! Anyway, it has also fallen out of favour, even with Turkey!

 

Surely the energies of peacemakers would be better spent in gaining ground root support for ending the occupation and Hamas terror. We need to adopt this two pronged approach in a peaceful fashion. An independent, democratic Palestine with a strong and prosperous economy alongside Israel is in the interests of all peoples of the Middle East and the world community.

 

It is five years since Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier, was captured by Hamas. The way the various Israeli Governments since 2006 has handled this issue is disgraceful. The suffering of the parents and family of Gilad does not seem to make any impression on the Israeli Government. Meanwhile the price for his release increases all the time. His conditions are intolerable and the Geneva Convention does not seem to be applicable in this case. Nobody knows whether he is alive. He has had no contact with his family for years and seems to have been abandoned by Israel. The excuse - the price is too high for his release! I wonder if Bibi Netanyahu's son or any other member of Israel's high ranking cartels’ sons were in Gilad's situation, he would say the price is too high to release Palestinian prisoners "with blood on their hands" as an exchange. The hypocrisy is shocking. No price is too high for Gilad's release!

Would the people of Israel forgive the Israeli Government if Gilad's life were sacrificed? After all, he was captured in the line of duty for his country and now his country abandons him. All the lip service for Gilad's release coming from Netanyahu's lackeys is meaningless and cynical. Netanyahu can thank his lucky stars that his son is not in Gilad's shoes!

 

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You are presenting a complete cotterie of complaints that in fact have no links to each other or even any validity in day to date life.

 

Cottage Cheese. ALL people the world over relate to the cost of living and we have seen bread demonstration in the Arab world , including Egypt. People take the price of staples very seriously and who can blame them.

 

Gilad. What the Israeli governments including Netanyahu and Olmert have done is simply disgraceful but in the end it is Hamas that is responsible for Gilads unlawful kidnapping and not Israel. Israel had numerous opportunities to put pressure on Hamas and most notable in Cast Iron, but due to Leftist pressures from Barak failed to act.

 

Peace Process and Apathy. The Israeli electorate has spoken by electing a Right wing majority to run their affairs and they seem to be fine with the way events are unfolding. You may disagree with that but polls and even your "apathy " remark makes it obvious that this is in fact reality. In today's climate I see no possibility of Peace breaking out. I would even venture an opinion that the next election in Israel will bring an even greater majority for the Right wing in Israel. Even Lieberman is being tauted as the next Prime Minister.

 

What is the Solution: The Arabs must show that they truly desire a State rather than the annihilation of Israel. The Arab spring has exasparated this rather than alieviate  the concerns of Israelis and Israelis do not have any faith in agreements with the Arabs. The escape mechanism in Israel is what you have pointed out and the threshold for the Arabs to show good faith is now much higher.

 

ULTIMATELY  the Israelis themselves must come to the conclusion that peace (in whatever form) is in their best interest both economically and security wise. The minority Left can not bring peace unless it can bring the centre and right wing along. They cannot do that when their tactics are despised by the vast majority.

 

Peace, Cottage Cheese, the Arab Spring  and Israeli Security have not yet jelled.

Thank you for your reply to my article, Michael I am not underestimating the importance of the rise of COL. It concerns all of us especially wage earners whose wages do not keep up with rising prices. However, there are other issues as well and I would like to see determination on the part of the Israeli electorate to achieve peace and not be apathetic. The determination is not directed in that direction as it should be.

 

The apathy is unfortunate. Israel is swinging in a right wing to extreme right wing direction as you said and this is not a positive development at all. It will endanger the future of Israel while in the short run it is really a knee-jerk reaction which is a result of Hamas and company's denial of Israel's right to exist. I agree that the Palestinian leadership has not been forthcoming in their desire to reach an agreement with Israel. On the other hand Israel's right wing leadership have also continued with their settlement policies even during the so-called 10 month settlement freeze. 

 

I agree that there must be a broad base desire for peace irrespective of one's political views and the reality today, as you said, means support from the right as well as left wing. It is obvious that when it comes to final decisions for an agreement on peace some measure to end the occupation, such as a true settlement freeze, must be initiated.

There is no compelling reason for the Israeli electorate to act and in fact come September it will become even more difficult to find even one shred of a reason.I agree wholeheartedly with the status quo as required by Israelis in the plurality that nothing should be done until and unless the other side presents some compelling reason to do so.1988 all over does not scare anyone anymore and neither do threats of violence and intifadas. We have crossed that threshold.

 

Israel as a Jewish state cannot and will not apologize for winning in 1948 and 1967 and there are consequences for naked agression.

 

The cost of security as a result of the Arab spring may be very high economically for Israel and that is a very heavy burden on Jews and Israelis. When you are neck deep in alligators, it is very hard to remember that the primary objective was to drain the swamp.

 

Istraelis I speak to do not talk in terms of occupation and the majority in poll after poll do not want a settlement freeze or any further expulsions. Why must we create a Judenrein Palestine and a multicultural Israel. This is hypocricy and racism.

I was wondering what you meant by this Michael:

 

When you are neck deep in alligators, it is very hard to remember that the primary objective was to drain the swamp.

 

 

Sussan

 

I believe that this phrase is self explanatory  and need no further clarification.

To me, your comment:

 

When you are neck deep in alligators, it is very hard to remember that the primary objective was to drain the swamp,

 

looks like a racist comment that is intended to be a slur on Palestinians.

REALLY???????

 

Perhaps you can explain to me what you think it means.

Shimon.

I am having a problem understanding your interpretation of democracy. Is it not the idea that majority rules and where debate is allowed ? Did not Netanyahu outline his decisions on behalf of Israel in his speech to both Houses of Congress in the USA. Has he not received favourable poll numbers in Israel indicating that the electorate in the majority agrees.

 

Is there a consensus in Israel that an "occupation' is in place or is there a consensus that the reverse is true, namely that all of Judea and Samaria are Jewish lands that we are prepared to share with the Arabs under certain conditions? As I said previously all the polls indicate that a vast majority wants to build in Jerusalem and to retain Jerusalem in any peace deal. What is your opinion on this matter?

 

Why must there be a settlement freeze prior to any negotiations, I am confused as to its necessity when it is not part of Oslo or any subsequent plans that were floated. What about Arab building in Judea and Samaria? Would that also be a part of that "freeze" or is it a Jew freeze only.

 

Perhaps we can hear your opinions with a little more clarity of details.

 

Excellent article. It is as good as most of Avnery’s, in some ways better.

 

The main reason the Geneva Convention does not seem to be applicable for Gilad Shalit is that Israel does not honour the Geneva Convention.

The purpose of the Flotilla is to highlight the occupation and blockade. Look at it from this perspective: the cost of the aid must be minor, compared with the expense of chartering ships that might be bombed.

Extremely good joke, but how did you come to the conclusion that Israel does not honour the Geneva Convention.  I presume that next you will tell us is that GILAD SHALIT was not kidnapped and is a prisoner of war not subject to Red Cross oversight.

 

 

Hi Shimon, some thought provoking views here and from other commentators. Really, I think things are pretty much the same all over the world: self interest and corruption dominates thinking, with too few courageous people willing to talk about, let alone work for peace and a better community. The rich are getting richer here in Britain too - people are disengaged from politics because they see that politicians have virtually no idea of the lives of 'ordinary' people. Fear is all around and people become more reactionary and right-wing at such times.

I lived in South Africa in the apartheid time, and it seems to me that you need an Israeli and a Palestinian who've both had 'Damascus' moments in order to break the deadlock of the mindset between both nations. (Like Mandela and de Klerk). Outside Israel/Palestine, people act like brothers, but inside it's totally different (I visited Israel/Palestine in 2005 to see for myself). It was pretty much like SA in the apartheid times, except we didn't have the separation wall of course!

Personally, I'd like to see the Israelis and Palestinians get on with their own peace talks, and for the US to divide their generous donations between Israel and Palestine, with monies given to Fatah for specific on the ground work, to benefit families and communities. I am sure that the Arab spring will change the dynamics, but only time will tell how. They are rightly more focused on (more) jobs, lower food prices, more equality and less corruption.

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