The biggest guest this year was Jimmy Carter, and he excoriated the usual people:
Britain and other European governments should break from the US over the international embargo on Gaza, former US president Jimmy Carter told the Guardian yesterday. Carter, visiting the Welsh border town of Hay for the Guardian literary festival, described the EU's position on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as "supine" and its failure to criticise the Israeli blockade of Gaza as "embarrassing".... The blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza, imposed by the US, EU, UN and Russia - the so-called Quartet - after the organisation's election victory in 2006, was "one of the greatest human rights crimes on Earth," since it meant the "imprisonment of 1.6 million people, 1 million of whom are refugees". "Most families in Gaza are eating only one meal per day. To see Europeans going along with this is embarrassing," .... Let the Europeans lift the embargo and say we will protect the rights of Palestinians in Gaza, and even send observers to Rafah gate [Gaza's crossing into Egypt] to ensure the Palestinians don't violate it.
Jonathan Freedman moaned in his column "if only we could have Carter back", and if you want a taste of the opinions in the echo chamber, scroll down to the comments at the bottom.OK. You all know my opinion of the Guardian. Today I wish to surprise you, and (sort of) agree with Cater and his audience. I think it really is time for the EU and all the rest to break with the US, and to launch out in a new direction. It would look something like this:
Heads of State of the EU countries, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Russia, China, and the American Deputy Undersecretary of State for Stuff agreed this afternoon on a radical departure from previous practice in regard to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The President of the EU, Ms. Swahilla Chamoun, read the terms of the new agreement, directed at the warring sides in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Enough already! A tiny sliver of land, 11 or 12 million people, fewer than Mexico City, and you hog the world's attention as if you held the key to world peace. We're fed up, and here is what we've resolved upon.
1. The Israelis left Gaza in 2005, with no intention to return. Instead, they're blockading the place and causing problems.
2. The Palestinians will desist immediately from any and all violence in or around Gaza. Totally, completely, and permanently. We repeat: No. More. Violence. At. All. Now or forever. Zilch. Nada. Halas. Since they're not going to engage in any more violence, they will also desist immediately from bringing in any weapons beyond pistols for policemen.
3. The Israelis get to count to 7 (days) of no violence, and then they will begin to ease their blockade on Gaza. Within 100 days of total lack of violence, the borders between Israel and Gaza will be as open as the borders between the EU and Eastern Europe.
4. In order to have those open borders, whoever is in charge in Gaza will deal with whoever is in charge in Israel just like the Ukrainians deal with the Hungarians. You can't have open borders if the authorities on either side pretend the others aren't there. How childish can you be.
5. No. More. Violence. At. All. Ever. Did we mention that already?
6. The EU will partner with the Arab League and OPEC in funding infrastructure programs in Gaza. These programs will be monitored by Danes, Swedes, or Norwegians; funds will be disbursed only to projects that consistently live up to Scandinavian standards. After five years this mechanism will be applied to the rest of OPEC and the Arab League; After 25 years it will be applied also to the Italians, but that's a different story.
7. Education is a long term investment. Incitement to hatred, too. The incitement will stop immediately. All school books, children's programs, adult's programs, university courses, firemen programs and others will be clean of incitement. We don't care if it's Israeli school books calling for martyrdom operations against Palestinian pigs and monkeys, or Palestinian books calling for the death of Israeli pigs and monkeys: they must all be burned. Teachers, journalists, clergy, academics, media people or celebrities: anyone calling for violence or inciting hatred will be fired. Any institution harboring any such culprits will receive no further EU-Arab League-OPEC funds. The Finns will be the arbiters in unclear cases.
8. None of the above mentioned funds will go anywhere until after the Israelis and Gazans have resolved the issue of the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Given as the Palestinians seem to feel that Shalit is more important to the Israelis than any one Palestinian prisoner is to the Palestinians, the rate of exchange will be 1:450. If the Israelis don't like it, tough for them.
9. After six months of serenity between Israel and Gaza, the same principles will be applied to the West Bank. Israeli settlers out; refugees and their great-great grandchildren in. No violence whatsoever, ever again, period. Borders manned by civil neighbors a-la-Hungary-Ukraine. The contours of the borders will be those dictated by President (Bill) Clinton in December 2000, and accepted by Israel.
10. Jerusalem: if you can rid yourselves of all the other issues and only this one remains, we'll think about it and get back to you.
11. Over the past 60-plus years many people the world over have come to believe that we Europeans are wimps, and they won't listen to whatever we say. By way of demonstrating how serious we are about all this, we're going to back it up with the force of our arms - and remember, for the six centuries prior to the mid 20th, we were mighty frightening bastards. We have no intention of going back to that, but we will back the need for a total cessation of violence with the threat of some calibrated violence of our own as a measure of last resort. For that purpose all EU states will raise their income tax by 1% and the resulting funds will go into the forming of an Armed International Police Against Culprits (AIPAC).
12. We're deadly serious about all this. Don't tangle with us.