Thursday, May 15, 2008

Should we still view Israel as a 'special friend'?

BY Adrian Hamilton
The Independent

"Yesterday was the day when, 60 years ago, Israel was launched as a new state by the UN. Today is the day the Palestinians mourn what they regard as Nakba, the "catastrophe". President Bush arrived in Jerusalem to attend the 60th Israeli anniversary dinner yesterday. Presumably he will not be attending any of the Palestinian Nakba functions today.

Which really says it all about those six decades. Israel celebrates as Bush arrives to talk of a peace that almost all of its citizens say they want, but virtually none believe will actually happen. The Palestinians mourn, fobbed off with promises of economic assistance and the dream of a separate state, whilst knowing full well that when it comes to it, the West will always side with Israel in any fundamental quarrel with the Arabs........

The outside world's interests are not necessarily the same. In the broader concerns of regional stability – the future of Iraq and Afghanistan, the curbing of nuclear proliferation – we need Iran as an ally. At the basest level of self-interest of oil and markets, we should be seeking better relations with the Arabs, not worse. On the higher levels of rhetoric, we can hardly criticise the Chinese for Tibet and ignore Israel's actions as occupiers of Palestine, or criticise Iran for seeking the bomb whilst simply not referring to Israel's long possession of it.

The tragedy of the Middle East is that, by supporting the Israeli government so uncritically, we are only making it more difficult to achieve what most of its citizens wish for – peace and security."

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