Peace process over, it’s Year Zero for Israelis and Palestinians

Lisa Goldman writes: A month from now, Israel will mark 20 years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister who signed the Oslo Accord. The night he was shot by a Jewish nationalist, Yigal Amir, Rabin appeared onstage at a peace rally in Tel Aviv, where he joined singer Miri Aloni, delivering an off-key and embarrassed rendition of the famous 1960s anti-war song “Shir LaShalom” (“Song to Peace”). A blood-spattered leaflet bearing the song’s lyrics was found in his suit pocket and became an enduring metaphor for the tragedy.

Worse was to come: Thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis have been killed in the two decades of violence that followed — a cycle once again on the uptick. Today Aloni makes her living as a busker. Twice a week, she cradles her guitar on a stool outside Tel Aviv’s squalid Carmel Market and performs her golden oldies for spare change, yelling at people who try to take her photograph. Thus the fortunes of what was once known as Israel’s peace camp.

Two decades after Rabin’s assassination, the occupation that was supposed to be ended by the Oslo process has been deepened and widened. The physical restrictions under which Palestinians live are far more onerous today than they were in 1987, when the first intifada broke out. Back then, Palestinian residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem could still travel freely throughout the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. And there were several hundred thousand fewer settlers living in those occupied territories. Still, back then Palestinians were also jailed for involvement in any kind of political activity, even for waving a Palestinian flag. And, as today, those living under occupation had no democratic rights in the state that ruled over them and were denied civil liberties. One difference, of course, is that today there’s a willing Palestinian participant in that repression, in the form of the Palestinian Authority’s security services. [Continue reading…]

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