The Palestinian state
I congratulate both the Palestinians and the countries that voted for its non-member observer state status at the UN.
It is ironic that those who give so much importance to the UN and have used the UN to realize their own objectives at every opportunity, such as Israel -- especially before and during its creation -- and the US, are the ones who try to belittle the importance of this step toward full statehood. It is equally ironic that the US secretary of state opined that the solution to the Palestinian (or Israeli?) problem is not to be found at the UN in New York but in the Middle East. I am sure that many people, chiefly the nuclear bomb-seeking Iranians and mass murderer Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but also many others will remind the American politicians of this remark when they are objecting to UN resolutions. Double standards may sometimes be harmful to their possessors.

As a social scientist, I have never seen the world in imagined and artificially constructed dichotomies. Life is not composed of only black and white; quite the contrary, it is full of hazy areas and dimensions. The Palestinian-Israeli question is a prime example. As a Muslim, I feel that it is my primary responsibility to warn my fellow co-religionists: Whatever the conditions are, it is wrong to resort to terrorism, suicide bombing and harming civilians, whoever they are and whatever regime and policies they support. We should also criticize the Palestinians for their failure to unite against common, vital, even existential problems. We must also warn them that, rather than being obsessed with Israel and expending all their energy on it, they must focus on long-term, serious projects ranging from education, media and raising future generations, to lobbying effectively not only in the West, but also in the East and the Muslim world.

However, what else could we add to this list? Now, let us look at the other side of the problem: the Israeli state. I know that there are many Jewish scholars, religious leaders, intellectuals and so on that keep criticizing some Israeli policies. Thus, it is obvious that my criticism excludes them. I look at general Israeli state policies. They include continuing the illegal occupation of almost two-thirds of the Palestinian territory, the constant building projects on Palestinian soil, making Gaza a virtual open prison, bombing civilians indiscriminately and murdering children and women by the hundreds, and so on. It is crystal clear that we are not talking about two parties to the conflict that have more or less equal power. What we see is that despite the several UN decisions, the Palestinians are not given their legitimate independent state. There is no legal explanation for this. It can only be explained by immoral power politics.

Given this picture, I blame the states that did not vote "yes" in yesterday's vote on Palestine's new enhanced status at the UN. Many things may be complicated and they, especially the British, can easily and quite skillfully come up with all sorts of excuses, but the result is very clear. Both the ones that voted "no" and those that abstained simply sided with the Israeli state. Israel is not the one that is weak and needs help. It sends all sorts of signs that it will not even agree to a solution that recognizes its right to exist within its pre-1967 borders. Continuing the settlement policy is only one example illustrating that Israel does not want a just solution. From another perspective, if the Palestinians are not given any hope or support from the international community, how should they read that message and what should they do?

Thus, yesterday's vote was an important step in this sense, also: It gave the Palestinians a hope that might persuade Hamas and others to behave in a "stately" manner.

İHSAN YILMAZ (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-12-01 12:00:01
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