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Reflections on Statehood and Statesmanship in Israel-Palestine Crisis

Travaglio critiques leadership gaps in Israel-Palestine conflict, contrasting with Mandela's transformative leadership.
Nelson Mandela and Frederik de Klerk

Marco Travaglio, in his editorial for Il Fatto Quotidiano, reflects on the current geopolitical tensions between Israel and Palestine, highlighting the historical ignorance of some key political figures regarding the founding of Israel through UN resolutions. He criticizes the recent UN resolution vote that exposed global divisions, with strong words from the Israeli ambassador condemning the recognition of Palestinian statehood aspirations. Travaglio contrasts this with a historical reflection on Nelson Mandela and Frederik de Klerk, who transformed from enemies to peacemakers, noting the absence of such leadership in today’s Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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States without Statesmen

by Marco Travaglio

In October, when I wrote “Israel and the Palestinians in a Few Words,” I thought few knew or remembered why the hundred-year war had reached the Hamas pogrom and Israel’s slaughter in Gaza. I did not suspect that the first to not know the history were the rulers of Israel and their supporters in the West. Otherwise, the other day they wouldn’t have denied their Yes to the UN Assembly resolution that recognizes Palestine’s credentials to become a full member and recommends the Security Council to remove the veto (of the usual USA). Almost the entire world (143 countries) voted Yes, while the USA, Israel, Argentina, and another six voted No and 25 abstained (including cowards like Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Canada, Ukraine, Georgia, Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, and Lithuania). “You have opened the UN to the modern Nazis of the Palestinian terrorist state,” Israeli ambassador Gilad Erdan shouted: “You are tearing the UN Charter apart with your hands.” And he destroyed it by shredding it. This dunce does not know or pretends to ignore – just like Hamas and some pro-Palestinian demonstrators against “Zionism”, i.e., against Israel’s right to exist – that the UN Charter, signed in 1945 by 51 founding states, is the source of International Law that legitimizes the existence of Israel. One of the UN’s first acts was resolution 181 of November 29, 1947, which overwhelmingly (33 Yes, including the USA and USSR; and 13 No, Arab states and a few others) divided Palestine into two states: one Jewish, one Arab. The former was born within the UN-assigned borders on May 14, 1948, the latter not because the Palestinian leadership and Arab governments renounced it, deeming it more urgent to expel the Jews with a war they then lost (as with subsequent ones in 1956, 1967, and 1973). The fool representing Israel at the UN (like the one who sent him) hasn’t even noticed that, by destroying that Charter, he killed the mother of Israel (the UN) and erased his state’s birth certificate. And he provided further grist for the mill of those who question its legitimacy by taking advantage of the massacres in Gaza, ranting about “76 years of occupation” and claiming the “Palestinian state from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.”

Thirty years ago, after 27 years in prison for terrorism, Nelson Mandela became the president of South Africa. And his white Boer predecessor Frederik de Klerk was downgraded to his vice. Two enemies who became statesmen to save the country from a bloodbath after half a century of apartheid: indeed, they won the Nobel. That’s exactly what’s missing today among Israelis and Palestinians in this endless carnage: two statesmen.

Il Fatto Quotidiano, May 14, 2024

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