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December 1998 
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A "PEACE PROCESS" BUILT ON POLITICAL QUICKSAND

By Mark Bruzonsky*

Clinton arrived to blaring trumpets very late Saturday evening. He arrived in Israel, not Palestine, and no one should doubt that basic significance.

One of the greatest ironies of this generation is that while the world mobilized to bring the Apartheid of South Africa to an end, at nearly the same historic moment it allowed the U.S and Israel to implement a variant of Apartheid in the Middle East. Another generation of conflict is thus ensured, no matter what the politicians of the moment proclaim.

Whatever further symbolism takes place with Clinton's Gaza visit, it is sure to be feverishly played up by the Arafat crowd. But the basic reality that Gaza has been twisted into a ghetto/prison surrounded on three sides by an Israeli-patrolled electrified fence, on the fourth by the Israeli-guarded sea, and internally "policed" by a quisling regime, cannot be masked indefinitely.

This "peace process" is build on political quicksand. After nine unprecedented days together at Wye Plantation the protagonists couldn't even agree on the relatively simple matter of who among the Palestinian prisoners would be released.

When it comes to the "Palestinian Covenant", supposedly the reason for Clinton's visit, Arafat hasn't even managed to gather a quorum of the once proud Palestine National Congress, not to mention pursue a serious formal vote on such a weighty matter.

And with Ariel Sharon in charge of the "final agreement", Israeli settlements still expanding at feverish pace, and "by-pass" roads increasingly criss-crossing the very areas Arafat claims for his quasi-State, the future may not be clearly forseeable, but what is at least clear is that what Arafat keeps proclaiming is certainly not what is coming to pass. About the only thing the Arafat regime manages to consistently pursue is to bribe and cajole many into parroting its own slogans while repressing everyone else into fearful silence and depressed acquiescence.

The fragmented and confused remains of the Palestinian nationalist movement has been meeting in Damascus in recent days, declaring their disgust with Arafat and all that he has wrought. But they not only lack the requisite power and resources to pursue their goals, they lack basic cohesion and strategy as well, thus constantly relegating themselves to marginality on history's sidelines.

The Jordanian Hashemite regime, colluding with the Americans and Israelis more than ever before, prevented many Palestinians from crossing the border and even getting to the Damascus meeting. And the 300 or so Palestinians who did manage to gather there hardly even managed to get the world's attention at a time when world attention is focused on their very concerns.

American Presidents come and go; the U.S. has serious institutions and long-term strategies that transcend individual administrations. Too many among the Arabs just don't seem to understand this basic reality, essentially mortgaging their own fate to whomever happens to be in the White House at the moment believing that a few kind words are a substitute for actual policies, even while history constantly proves otherwise.

But unlike the Arabs, Western countries, and that includes the Israelis, have serious institutions and strategies transending individual leaders and "regimes." At the political level, the Arabs today are little better off, as the millenium nears its turn, then they were generations ago at the time of the Ottoman Empire's collapse. They were as outmanuevered at the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991 as they were at the Paris Peace Conference of 1918. Their corrupt, inept, and infiltrated "client regimes" continue to be easily manipulated by the tried and true "divide and conquer" approach. With such an historical dichotomy, the West manages to get one Arab leader or another to sign this agreement or that, constantly pushing forward their own interests while Arab interests, not to mention rights, are constantly trampeled under.

Until the nationalist Palestinians and their supporters seriously organize themselves in a coherent and determined way to oppose the Apartheid Reservations fate, their destiny will continue to be subverted. Ongoing and sophisticated opposition using modern means of communication, as well as the building up of sustainable institutions that can both conceive and pursue alternative policies and principled goals, are what today's situation urgently requires.

* Background and publication information for Mark Bruzonsky is at:http://www.MiddleEast.Org/mab.htm

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