‘Business of peace’ revisited

On June 28, Guy Rolnick at Haaretz published an incisive piece that asks ‘who is benefiting from the never ending peace process?’  He reveals several important points:

  • One insider tells him: “With all due respect for economic problems, there are thousands of people in Washington who earn their living from the peace ‘process.’ Economic crisis or not, there’s a large group that is working on the peace process, working on the terror threats, working on Middle Eastern affairs – and will always work on the ‘process.’”
  • These two dominant narratives ignore what others find obvious: that every status quo, every large system, always has beneficiaries who have no real desire for change. The more time that passes, the more layers of vested interests that are added – in the government, the army, the diplomatic corps and the industry of peace NGOs that benefit from the existing situation, make a living from it and acquire their prestige from it. Forty-seven years after the Six-Day War and 20 years after the Oslo Accords, the number of interest groups that benefit from the occupation, the conflict and the “process” is growing by the year. In Israel, the numbers have begun to enter the public discourse over the past year: the vast size of the army, the staggering waste, the frightening actuarial commitment to noncontributory pensions.
  • Every so often, a few retired generals suddenly leap up and espouse a “dovish” stance, as former Shin Bet security service and Mossad chiefs did in recent years. But this is of dubious authenticity. They always recall that “the occupation corrupts” and that we must strive for peace – but only after they are removed from positions of power. One always suspects that their new opposition or peacenik approach is a way to grab headlines or to enter politics.
  • The crucial question is: Which groups benefit from the situation of war, which groups thrive on the “process” and who will benefit from a significant change in the situation?
  • Israel’s security budget is $20 billion
  • Is it really the case that the entire Palestinian leadership, all the Palestinian businessmen with close ties to the government and all the dozens and hundreds of NGOs that are funded by the European Union and the United States are longing for an end to the conflict?
  • Fifty-three years ago, an American president warned his nation against the “military-industrial complex” – the takeover by economic and military interests of foreign and security policy, creating a tentacular, all-powerful interest group. The Israeli-Palestinian version cannot rest only on war; in the Israeli complex, the threats of war and terrorism dovetail with the “process” and an incessant striving for peace.

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This brings me back to an article I wrote in 2007, called:

The business of peace

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

Does the peace movement have a vested interest in wars and in encouraging conflict? Do all the documentaries and the ‘peace activism’ actually enflame tensions, harden stances and make people more hateful? Does the west colonize the minds of people through this?

The total numbers of ‘peace’ organizations is truly massive. There is a peace movie industry made up of films. There are student organizations such as the Union For Peace and Justice in the Middle East on almost every college campus in the West. There are numerous organizations devoted solely to ‘dialogue’. There is the money donated by NGOs to other NGOs in Israel. There are all the peace organizations that come to Israel such as the ISM and Anarchists against the Fence and Birthright Unplugged. There are the numerous Jewish groups that oppose the ‘occupation.’ There are all the Israeli organizations: the Committee against House demolitions, Peace Now, Women in Black, Machsom Watch, Planners for Planning rights, Architects for Peace, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Association Against Torture, Seeds of Peace, Gush Shalom, Rabbis For Human Rights, Yesh Gvul, New Profile, B’Tselem, Ta’ayush, Bat Shalom, the Alternative Information Center, the numerous centers devoted to peace and rights such as ADVA, Ahali, Arab Center for Alternative Planning, ADALAH, Al Awda, Al Haq, JCSER, JCW, Jerusalem Watch, Miftah, WCLAC, Badil.org, Passia.org. There are the UN organizations, there is TIPH(Temporary International Presence in Hebron). The Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International. The workers and unions and socialist organizations. The faculty organizations. The women’s groups and Muslim groups. The church organizations such as the Mennonite group for Peace, the International Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem the Quakers, and many others.
A recent list from Haaretz that illustrated only a partial list of those organizations working to boycott Israel included the following groups, just in the U.K: Arab Labor Group, Association of the Palestinian Community in the U.K, Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group, Communication Workers Union, Friends of the Earth, Public and Commercial Services Union, the Green Party, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-U.K Branch(which reminds me of the PFLP-GC for some reason), Jewish Socialists Group, Jews Against Zionism, Jews for Justice for the Palestinians, Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, National Union of Mineworkers, Transport and General Workers Union, Council for Arab-British Understanding, Islamic Council for Human Rights and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. I must reiterate, this is a partial list. The number of organizations just in England when one includes all the local chapters might be more than a thousand. And Ireland, Canada, France and the United States produce many more thousands, not to mention the ‘little’ anti-Israel countries where the campaigns are less well funded and smaller such as Italy, Sweden, Germany, Austria, South Africa and Belgium for instance.

The number of ‘peace’ and ‘justice’ organizations is simply staggering. In Israel there are special groups for Jewish-Arab architects, Jewish-Arab soccer teams, Jewish-Arab art work, Jewish-Arab judo. Beyond that there are organizations such as Seeds of Peace and dozens, if not hundreds, of community centers for Jewish-Arab cultural coexistence. Then there are all the Arab cultural groups such as Adalah, and the various professional peace groups already mentioned that includes Lawyers and Doctors(Doctors without borders). And all the newsletters published for ‘peace’ including the Palestine-Israel Journal and the Palestine Times.

If one could total it all up and it would be a near impossible task it would create a fascinating, diverse and massive list. If one were to add all the short lived coexistence groups and events, such as a ‘peace concert’ held in the summer of 2006 run by a Yeshiva student from Bat Ayin where half the money went to Lebanese harmed in the war, the number would balloon upwards. But it is not simply a matter of totaling up all the organizations. It is also a matter of estimating the total number of people employed and active in them. There may be today thousands of European settlers in Ramallah, the cultural and protest-European-activist center of the West Bank. The Rothberg international school at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem alone produces hundreds of activists each year, many of whome attend classes part time while working on various peace projects(I can recall the following students: Steve who worked with a Palestinian media organization called Searching for a Common Ground), Michael who made a film where Palestinians are asked to pretend they are Israelis and vice versa, Aksenia who was also involved in Palestinian media, Eve Sabbagh who worked on the ‘environmental affect of the Occupation’, some French girl who was studying the growth of Palestinian towns, Goldie who received a scholarship from a peace institute, and the list goes on).

This is the business of peace. Can we quantify it? How many active employees does this list include. The U.N alone employs tens of thousands of Palestinians, but even if we only include the ones working for ‘peace’ it is a large number. And there are a dozen different U.N organizations just in Jerusalem. How many westerners currently reside in the West Bank working full time for these organizations? How many are employed abroad.

This movement for ‘peace’ is not like the groups that opposed the Vietnam war. Those groups were grass roots groups without employees. They didn’t have offices and SUVs and computers. They didn’t have staffs, they were’nt professionals and they didn’t request that people have years of experience ‘working in the field’ in order to work for them. Those were groups made up almost solely of volunteers. Even as they grew more sophisticated, those organizations remained small and underfunded.

But the business of peace is a billion dollar project today. It is an immense organism whose overall number of employees and full time activists includes more people than the biggest corporations. It is as large as a small country and its financing outstrips the budgets of most African Countries. The Peace Lobby is gigantic.

But that must make one wonder. What if there was peace? What is the Peace Lobby’s ultimate goal? Is it peace? Does it not have a vested interest in conflict? Think of the media’s interest as well. Every newspaper that bases so many reporters in Jerusalem to document the ‘crises in the Middle East.’ And it is always a crises, even when its quiet. I see some of you saying: “but there is a crises in the Middle East.” But the crises ridden parts of the Middle East are not the ones where all the activism takes place. There are not activists in Gaza, in Iraq or in Nahr al Balad in Lebanon. The activists make sure to remain just outside of the danger(although for Rachel Corrie and John Hurndall, that was, oh so tragically, not the case). But do any of the ‘peace’ organizations actually show results. What is their net benefit? Is peace ever achieved in places dominated by such organizations? How many ‘natives’ are actually ever served by peace organizations? Don’t the peace organizations just exist for the sake of existing? What if all the money spent on ‘peace’ went instead into training local people to be accountants, doctors and business owners? What if it was invested in building manufacturing plants and training people to work in them?

The U.N has had a chance recently to colonize a few places and impose its version of ‘peace’ upon them. Kosovo, Haiti, Gaza, Southern Lebanon and East Timor are five examples. Those are the most chaotic places in the world. Their chaos and murder rates and terrorism is proportional to the amount of foreign Aid and U.N support: the more Aid, the more U.N workers, the more chaos and the less peace.

In the 1960s people used to say “what if they had a war and no one came?” But today the more interesting question might be “what if they opened a peace center and no one showed up?” In many cases this is precisely the fact. The dozens of peace organizations have budgets and little to show for it(. They are self-masturbatory. They exist for the sake of existence. Their budgets are self-justifying. While it has never been shown that these peace centers actually produce terrorists, it has never been shown that the ‘graduates’ of places like Seeds of Peace actually are more peaceful and actually help the never ending ‘peace process.’ Additionally a number of peace activists actively encourage terror through their definitions such as ‘international law’, among them Hilary Rose who declared in the Manchester Guardian on May 26th, 2007 in an article ‘the Only Weapon Available’ that “today it is hard to see what weapons, other than the counterproductive, though legitimate, armed intifada (though legitimacy does not extend to suicide bombers killing civilians) the even harder pressed Palestinians have.” Baruch Kimmerling, a tenured Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem declared on March 27th, 2001 in an article in Haaretz entitled ‘The Right to Resist’ that “the continuing circumstances of occupation and repression give them[the Palestinians], by any measure, the right to resist that occupation with any means at their disposal and to rise up in violence against that occupation. This is a moral right inherent to natural law and international law.” The Peace Lobby actively excuses and may in fact in some instances incite and educate for hate and terror and murder, only so that the same peace lobby can then help the ‘victims’ work towards peace, a peace they have helped so brutally shatter.

Is it a surprise, after all, that it is a never ending ‘peace process’ and the newspapers inform us ‘peace may never come’ and ‘peace has suffered another setback’ and ‘peace seems less likely now more than ever’ and the ‘conflict is even more impossible to resolve due to _______.” And whenever it appears that some issue that the peace lobby has fought for has been resolved, such as the disengagement from Gaza, the peace activists such as Virginia Tilley or Sue Blackwell change the definition of ‘occupation’ declaring that “Israel is still, according to international law, an occupying power of Gaza.” Its not a coincidence that the BBC website includes a list of the ‘obstacles to peace’ including the ‘Right of Return’, ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘Water’. Water is an obstacle to peace. Who knew? What did the water do? In the 1990s we were informed that Israel was stealing ‘Palestinian water’. The water jumped out of the ground and shouted ‘Salaaam’ and thus we knew it had an ethnicity(a similar although equally weird argument is that the U.S steals Mexican water by damming up the Colorado river).

Who attends all these peace workshops? In Israel the left wing Jews and the westerners attend them. The Arabs are made up of Arab nationalists and Islamists. In fact there is an entire village named Neveh Shalom that the peace lobby has built in Israel. A whole town of peace. The voting results from it were available in the newspaper after Israel’s last election and they show that the town voted for the most extreme Israeli leftist party, Meretz, and the most right wing anti-Israeli Arab parties. And the village is half Arab and half Jewish. That is what a peace organization is. That is what an inter-faith organization is. Anyone who has attended a peace rally or an inter-faith meeting knows that the only people who show up are lesbian priests, Rabbis for human rights and Imams trained in Saudi Arabia or from CAIR or the Muslim Students Association, which are both Islamist organizations. That’s interfaith. The Muslim-Jewish peace walks group in the U.S is another fascinating example. It is composed of religious Muslims who wear Muslim skullcaps and Muslim women in headscarves and Hijab and Jewish women from the reform and reconstructionist movement, the most ‘progressive’ and liberal forms of Judaism. It is no surprise the founders of the Peace walks, is composed of a male Muslim Imam and a female Rabbi. That is the model.

But let us remember another conflict that was ‘unsolvable’. Remember Northern Ireland. Remember the movies every American had to watch in the 1990s, The Crying Game, and In the Name of the Father. They were about Northern Ireland. But did the movies change Northern Ireland? Did the Catholic fundraising for the Irish Republican Army among the Irish in America lead to peace in Northern Ireland? Did all the peace organizations bring peace to northern Ireland? Who was it that sat down two months ago to organize the new government of Northern Ireland? Was it a bunch of peace activists? Guess again. Was it a leftist self hating Protestant and a right wing Irish-Catholic? No. It was Reverend Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams. The ‘Reverend’ should be a give away. Many of you will not recall Mr. Paisley, the large, Protestant religious leader who was responsible for organizing Unionist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s. The man who was an ‘obstacle’ to peace. And who is Gerry Adams but a member of the IRA(his organization, Sien Fien is the ‘political wing’ of the IRA). It was the warriors who sat down. It took them to make the peace. It was the Ariel Sharon and the Yaser Arafat, not the Tom Segev and the Saed Erakat, not the Michael Moore, the George Soros and the Castro.

Peace organizations don’t like to hear it. They don’t to think that it is the average people and the right wing people that need to make the peace. They like to think that peace is made between self hating people and hateful people. Their model for peace is always the idea that the leftist-feminists should make peace with the Bin Ladens. But it’s the John McCains that should make peace with the Bin Ladens. Its the George S. Pattons that make peace with the Stalins.

Peace organizations have no impact. In fact the impact they have is negative, counter-productive and in many cases provokes and empowers the conflict, fanning the flames of hatred. Peace organizations would hate to fathom this idea. However the recent example of a ‘multi-cultural’ peace textbook for Israeli and Palestinian students is the perfect example. It tells two narratives to the two populations. For the Palestinian students a Palestinian narrative about their heroic struggle against apartheid and racism. For the Jewish students a narrative about brutal Jews ruining the lives of Palestinians while building their state. It is a recipe for raising a generation of Hamas followers. You can’t teach students extremist biased history in the name of peace. If you want peace you have to teach them self respect, dignity, honor for their heritage and some measure of understanding for others. That doesn’t mean self hatred. It doesn’t mean nationalism. In America it would mean teaching them that Paul Revere did his midnight ride and that the Geronimo was a great Indian leader. It means teaching them that Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King were both good leaders, not that King was like Jesus and Jefferson was a slave owning ‘honkie’.

Peace organizations exacerbate the conflict by colonizing it. They make the conflict their own and they perpetuate it. 90% of the information on Palestinians that is distributed to Palestinians by peace organizations is data collected by westerners. Most of the protests organized in the West Bank are organized by westerners. 99% of the funding for human rights and peace organizations comes from the west. The human rights organizations therefore create the conflict. They provide the maps and literary material and the studies. They even go so far as to fabricate history in order to make the conflict worse. In the Negev the ADVA center publishes western funded pamphlets on the Negev Bedouin. The ‘history’ of the Negev Bedouin now claims that the 49 ‘unrecognized’ Bedouin settlements in the Negev are pre-1948, that they predate the State of Israel. But they don’t predate the state. They are from the 1960s and 1970s. That isn’t a secret. Aerial photographs and army surveys never showed these 49 settlements in the 1940s or 1950s. But now you have a generation of Bedouin activists trained and educated by westerners and Jews to believe that their rights have been violated, that they are living on millions of dunams of land that they never lived on in the same manner before. This would be a little like educating Apache Indians that they had a claim to all of Arizona, when in reality their wanderings never exceeded the southwest portion of the state and even then they were a miniscule, albeit violent, tribe. The peace organizations educate for hate, not for peace. They tell Palestinians they will never be happy.

Think of the latest statement by the BBC on June 15th. The victory of Hamas from Gaza has severed Gaza from the West Bank politically and “this has destroyed the Palestinian’s dream of a unified state.” Really? What Palestinians dreamed of such a state? The Gazan fishermen? The Taibeh milkman? What the BBC meant was, it has destroyed the peace organizations dreams for a unified state. It has destroyed the western educated Palestinians’ dreams of a unified state, such as Saed Erekat, Rashid Khalidi, Sari Nusseibeh, Mohammed Dajani and the late Edward Said. It hasn’t destroyed the average person’s dreams. The peace organizations will now have to work doubly hard to convince West Bank Fatah members that Gaza is really part of Palestine. But it will indeed be westerners encouraging them. After all, who has encouraged the Palestinian refugees to believe in a ‘right of return’ for the last sixty years? The U.N and the west. The 100,000 Palestinians who never bother to move to refugee camps in 1949, such as John Sonunu’s family, don’t want to return to ‘Palestine’. They are happy in the U.S.A, The Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Kuwait, Beirut and Amman. But the refugees whose trips to Israel to ‘see their villages’ are funded by the west, every aspect of their history and the teaching of it is funded by the west. Every part of their mythical and real history is funded and written by the west. They have no input. They exist to have their pictures taken, preferably women in headscarves with little children.

It is like the Africans who exist merely to appear on the webpages of Oxfam to encourage westerners to donate more money so that other westerns can keep working to raise money for Aid so that other westerners can keep their jobs distributing it. The westerners working in peace genuinely don’t care about peace, they care about getting another job, another resume builder, they care about having an entire career working for non-profits, its part of their career. A career of peace. It is an entire new economic sector in the world. It never existed before. The NGO sector. The new colonizing white westerner who has to ‘help’ the ‘other’ because the other can’t do it for himself, which is a racist and typically western assumption. Peace is racism, colonialism and arrogance. The assumption that other people can’t make peace without a westerner to sit at the table. Is it any surprise that the same white westerners appear in Cambodia to tell the Cambodians how to conduct war crimes trials, that it was a Norwegian white man who was telling the Sri Lankans how to make peace with the Tamils, that a Finnish white man runs Kosovo, that another white European person runs Bosnia, and that a white woman named Carla Del Ponte is in charge of hunting for ‘war crimes’ suspects in Serbia, that white people kidnapped Charles Taylor and brought him to Europe, because god-forbid, Africans should be allowed to kill their own dictators. Everywhere in the world you will see Europeans ‘educating’ the ‘natives’ about how to conduct peace. There is never an acceptance that true peace comes from allowing other people to make it for themselves, not jamming western ideas and western notions down their throats. But westerners have a knee-jerk reaction to go globetrotting around the world telling everyone else how to live, while at the same time pretending to ‘love the culture of the other’. One just wonders why westerners didn’t allow Pakistanis to come and advise the Peace Process in Northern Ireland? Why weren’t their Japanese people advising in Kosovo? Why isn’t their a Kenyan man to advise Spain on how to make peace with the Basques, don’t the Kenyans have great experience fighting Joe Kony’s Lords Resistance Army? Oh, but the West can’t take the advise of the Asians and Blacks to solve its ‘peace’ problems. So maybe the west should stop meddling in Asia and Africa’s affairs.

The Business of Peace not only creates conflict, it fuels identity politics and racism and hate and irredentism, Xenophobia. It prohibits peace. It always wants to dictate when and where and under what manner and under what conditions peace should be made. Is it a surprise there is an entire academic discipline now devoted to ‘conflict studies’ and ‘conflict resolution’.

It should remind us that in 1940, after the outbreak of the Second World War, the British Union of Fascists run by Oswald Mosley held a peace protest in London. A peace protest declaring that ‘Mosley wants peace’ and ‘England wants peace’. But what kind of peace would that have been? Peace is not an end all be all goal. It is not a financial entity, it is not an organization, it is not something that requires activists. Peace is partially a figment of the imagination, partially the result of genocide and the creation of homogenous nation states, the result of wealth and of extreme poverty. Peace is something that exists when there are no more peace organizations(just as today there are no organizations working for peace between France and Germany, and there never were any such organizations).

The current practice of disparate organizations and contests such as Red Cross’s Hebron Law Contest and MIT’s ‘Just Jerusalem’ that encouraged foreigners to redraw the borders of Jerusalem and propose how a ‘just’ Jerusalem should look, show the degree to which the NGO’s are actively involved in colonialism. Statements by a ‘Peace Palestine’ blogger named Artie Fishel(http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/ ) are indicative of the mentality of the Peace Lobby: “I believe that the Palestinian people have the right to return to their homeland, and that Israel, in order to truly be a land that can call itself a democracy, has to abandon its character as a Jewish State, and become a State for all, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. Only through Justice can there be peace,” These statements indicate the degree to which the Europeans and the westerners have never given up their colonialistic ideas that they must reshape the world in their image, whatever their current fad is(whether it is Nazism, Communism or Peacism). What will the world do when the last European realizes the world no longer cares what she thinks and doesn’t need the European to run her affairs and doesn’t need the European to redraw the maps of the world?

The west has elevated ‘peace’ to the status of an idol, of an ideology. Peace is the new word by which the west exercises neo-colonialism over the world, enslaving the world once again to the west, making the world beholden to the west. The U.N is the imperial instrument of the West and the billions of dollars spent on peace organizations is the west’s export of settlers to the world, to colonize the minds of people, to create the ‘viscous cycle’ of conflict so that more westerners will be required to help ‘stop the viscous cycle’. By opposing peace organizations and the U.N one is opposing colonialism and paternalism, one is struggling for freedom and resisting tyranny. There is no greater tyranny than having a foreigner tell someone how to live their lives and instructing someone about ‘justice’ as if people do not know justice when they see it.

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And I followed this up with a piece in 2012 in ‘The Jerusalem Post’  called:

‘Occupation, the oxygen of the peace lobby’

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

In its recently released annual report, Amnesty International accused Israel of a laundry list of human rights violations, almost all of which had to do with the occupied Palestinian territories. Most interesting was the list of complaints related to Gaza.

“The humanitarian crisis affecting the Gaza Strip’s 1.6 million residents continued due to Israel’s ongoing military blockade…36 Palestinians were killed in accidents or in Israeli air strikes on tunnels used to smuggle goods between Egypt and Gaza…the Israeli authorities hindered or prevented hundreds of patients from leaving Gaza to obtain medical treatment.”

The continuing saga of Gaza is an important symbol of a larger phenomenon. The occupation of the Palestinian territories can never end because of the vested interest many organizations have in maintaining the fiction of Israeli control, even when control is withdrawn. It is well known that Israel does not control the border between Egypt and Gaza and yet the condemnation for not providing access to hospitals for Gazans assumes that Israel is responsible for providing medical treatment for people in Gaza; once again perpetuating the idea that Israel’s occupation can never be allowed to end.

Human rights organizations and the peace industry are beholden to the occupation, addicted to it – no less than Israel’s most extremist right-wing voices. This may seem a contradiction: how can organizations devoted to ending the occupation in fact support the occupation? The answer: Because the occupation is their raison d’etre and without it they cannot exist. This is typical of the NGO world. For example, those organizations that devote their existence to ending poverty require that poverty be perpetuated because NGOs have become an industry and choice place of employment. That is why we see in the world of NGOs a multiplication of overlapping groups with “mission creep.” This multiplication becomes an intense lobby to support a professional class, to the extent that entire university degrees are now devoted to the phenomenon of the NGO profession.

The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) is emblematic of this issue. Initially established in 1994 to monitor events in the city following Baruch Goldstein’s murder of 29 Palestinians, it is still around today. Supported by five European countries and Turkey it has a relatively small operating budget of $2 million, excluding salaries. Yet when one factors in the salaries paid to up to 90 international members of the team, the figure is closer to $10m. (TIPH does not publicly disclose its complete budget).

In truth, there is nothing “temporary” about this mission.

It maintains three buildings, a fleet of small cars and has its own dining facility. It also helps local Palestinians with such projects as providing protective clothing to the Hebron fire brigade and building the Tariq Bin Zaid Sports Center. Were Israel to withdraw from Hebron, is there any supposition that this sizable mission would pick up and leave? TIPH is only the tip of the iceberg, of course. Between 1999 and 2007 Norway provided NIS 3.5 billion ($560m.) in aid to various Palestinian projects. Obviously, all this aid does not go to activities related to Israel or the occupation.

However, in the discussion of aid to hospitals, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation Annual Report for 2009 notes that “the hospitals are also important for strategic reasons, as [is] the maintenance of Palestinian services, and the right to access to Jerusalem for Palestinians.” Should one therefore assume that if Israel were to leave east Jerusalem, the aid would dry up because the hospitals would no longer be “strategically” necessary? Additionally, European aid to the Palestinian Authority totals some $600m. annually, with the latest EU deal signed in March totaling $397m. Much of this goes toward Palestinian salaries and investment in certain projects such as the the building of a waste treatment plant.

Other financial commitments find their way to the Palestinians via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (annual budget, $1.23b.). Some $600m. is spent by the US on aid in the West Bank and Gaza, of which about $200m. is spent by USAID on infrastructure and other projects. Some of these infrastructure projects are purposely constructed without building permits in the West Bank, so that 10 percent of all buildings Israel demolishes for code violations in the West Bank are foreign-funded projects.

Out of all this largesse, the amount of money that goes to the peace industry is relatively small. It was revealed in a 2010 WikiLeaks cable that the New Israel Fund, which funds many Israeli NGOs involved in human rights work, has a budget of around $18m. for 350 NGOs.

B’Tselem, the premier NGO that reports on human rights abuses in the West Bank, has a budget of around $2.3m.

The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, an EU organization that grants money to human rights NGOs, spent around $5.2m. in 2009 and 2010 on aid to various organizations in Israel and the West Bank that deal with the occupation.

RECENTLY IT has become fashionable to promote a boycott of products made by Israeli settlements. These products include vegetables, Psagot wine, Dead Sea Labs beauty products and Beigel pastries. This is supposed to put a stake through the economic heart of the Jewish enterprise in the hills of Judea and Samaria and break the will of the state to maintain the settlements. A Globes report, meanwhile, notes the total value of goods exported from the settlements is in the “tens of millions of dollars annually.”

The overall funds devoted to promoting “peace” and “human rights” and combatting the occupation are therefore more than equal to the total value of goods produced in the settlements. So who has a greater financial incentive to keep the settlements where they are: Psagot wines or B’Tselem, Peace Now or Shamir Salads? This is an irony, of course. That more money is devoted to fighting the occupation than the occupation ever produces shows how an industry – a “peace industrial complex” – has grown up around the occupation. It supports “peace” and works towards a “just settlement,” but it needs conflict.

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Tens of thousands of Europeans and other international workers would be out of work if the occupation ended – TIPH alone has 100 employees. And how many educated Palestinians are sucked into the web of NGOs that combat the occupation, that apply for permits for people to go to hospital in Jerusalem, for permits to study at Bir Zeit from Gaza and other causes? Israel can survive withdrawing from the West Bank, but can the international community, the Palestinians and the Israeli NGO networks truly countenance such a future? If the conflict’s stakeholders are any indicator, the answer is no. Palestinians and Israelis might consider questioning the motives of these outsiders and whether they are in it for the money or for the people. It seems the occupation must be maintained at all costs. Literally.

 

2 responses to “‘Business of peace’ revisited

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  2. Pingback: What a staged Israel-Palestine coexistence photo says about the conflict | Seth J. Frantzman·

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