Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sadia Ahsanuddin's Complaint

Sadia Ahsanuddin has been a Huffington Post blogger for two years (even though her bio describes her as a 'recent Harvard graduate') but has only written four articles in that time and so we haven't seen her before. Her most recent one is a boilerplate "Israel sucks" article but we might as well take a look at it since it appears that she is going mostly for facts and not opinion, a welcome change from the rest of the Huffington Posters.

So Ms. Ahsanuddin's basic premise is that "Israel is seeking to maintain the status quo." I don't understand why that is such a groundbreaking realization, it seems to me that Israel has been doing exactly that for years now, both in a good way and a bad way. Sometimes she does this is a very captain obvious manner though:
" Because neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are close to engaging in negotiations, it would seem the intent of the Israeli government is for the occupation to continue."
Um, yeah. It doesn't take a Harvard graduate to see that Israel isn't just going to back up and leave, even though Barak keeps trying to convince us otherwise. Of course there is a corollary to that:
"However, the rapid expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory is transforming this military occupation into what appears like an outright expansion of the state of Israel. The settlements are limiting the amount of land available for a Palestinian state and the expansion contradicts the notion that any kind of "status quo" is being maintained."
Her first section I feel is obvious, that Israel is trying to expand across the Green Line as much as they possibly can. They're not exactly hiding it. But as for her second part, that's the Fifth Great Anti-Zionist Strawman. If you need a refresher: there's no reason why the settlers can't become citizens of a Palestinian state and everyone lives on the same land. No reason at all, except for Palestinian xenophobia.

At this point she puts herself out there and hopes that no one disagrees with:
"The occupied Palestinian territories, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, are owned by the Palestinians and are intended for a Palestinian state."
Under international law (UNSC resolution 242), the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not "owned" by anyone, and that Israel was entitled to defensive borders. If the United Nations thought that the territories belonged to the Palestinian people they would have said that at the time. Are they intended for a Palestinian state, though? Sure, but the key word is "owned." Since Ms. Ahsanuddin agrees that a Palestinian state does not yet exist it would therefore follow that the only ownership there is done privately. In that case, why can't Jews and Arabs both own private land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Ah, because in her mind (and no doubt the mind of the Palestinians) they are "owned" by the Palestinians, who do not include Jews. Unfortunately, international law does not agree.

At this point Ms. Ahsanuddin goes through a laundry list of the usual complaints: increasing numbers of hated Jews who dare to live in the West Bank, the "wall," plans to build more settlements (i.e. expand within existing settlements) before she finally gets to her conclusion:
" With such rapid expansion, there is no static status quo. These takeovers of Palestinian land preclude the possibility of continuing the military occupation in its current form. Furthermore, the rapid expansion of settlements is rendering the possibility of two separate territories impossible. The settlements and the wall are rendering the borders between Israel and a hypothetical, already diminishing Palestine porous and fluid."
In other words a return of the same Great Anti-Zionist Strawman. Sure I would agree the borders are become more fluid but there is no Palestine to diminish, and even if there were settlements continue to remain on only 1% of the West Bank. 10,000 housing units sounds like a lot when you are writing it in a newspaper but on the ground there is a lot of space as this video shows. And as I said before, there is no Palestinian land to take over as Ms. Ahsanuddin even admits herself. Which leads to:
"These developments suggest that the current government of Israel is engineering a road to a greater Israel and not to two independent, sovereign states."
It is interesting though that Ms. Ahsanuddin does not say this with the usual hand rubbing, chops-licking enthusiasm that critics of Israel often have when discussing the "death" of a two state solution. Perhaps because she knows that Palestinian intransigence will not always lead to what they expect. Either way, her article also works as evidence that the Palestinians should negotiate now, though I do not think she intended it to come off that way.

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