Outgoing Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva, who has done wonders for Brazil since taking office, made recognizing Palestine one of his last presidential acts. There are now 100 countries that recognize Palestine including the emerging economies of China, India, Brazil as well as Russia, all Arab states, and most African states. It’s time the US recognize that the Israeli lobby is not Israel’s best friend and stop allowing it to prolong the status quo of occupation, dispossession, displacement, and illegal settlements – precisely the barriers against peace. Peace is within reach if the US exercises leadership in recognizing a sovereign and secure Palestine along a sovereign and secure Israel.
Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva is a man who has done the unthinkable: on Friday he announced that Brazil recognized the state of Palestine based on the 1967 borders. What???
Without talking? and more talking? and more hand wringing? and only after one trip in March 2010 to the Middle East? This is unbelievable. Does he realize how many miles American ambassadors, secretaries of state and presidents have logged just trying to get the parties to talk, let alone, agree? Does he not see that if he does recognize Palestine, it’s only a matter of time before other nations will join the fray? This is no way to run the world, seriously.
But Lula, as he is called by his admirers, is not an ordinary man, nor an ordinary head of state. When we elected Obama for President, and he took office in 2009, there was only one man more popular than our president, and that was Lula. In his own country, he had an 80% approval rating. They loved him so much in fact, that they elected his right-hand woman, Dilma Rousseff, (who has Jewish roots) for president, even though she had little experience in governing, and lots of know-how in guerrilla fighting.
Lula and his sense of fairness and his sense of justice came from very humble roots. He managed to do in Brazil just about everything Obama promised he’d do in America, and didn’t. And now, he has just shown the US, the Mideast Quartet, the United Nations, how to put an end to the conflict in the Middle East. We are not talking about a man given to histrionics like Chavez, or an aging dictator like Castro. This is a man who has put Brazil on the map as a valuable trading partner not only to other countries in the region, but also to China, Europe and Africa. During his tenure, 20 million people were lifted out of poverty. In this country, we can’t even get our political parties to extend unemployment benefits.
Why can Lula do this and not risk anything? He is not owned by any lobbies, and frankly, I think that’s about the size of it. He studied the situation, and in response to a request made by Abbas, he sent him a letter on Friday stating the following:
‘Considering that the demand presented by his excellency [Abbas] is just and consistent with the principles upheld by Brazil with regard to the Palestinian issue, Brazil, through this letter, recognises a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders… legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people for a secure, united, democratic and economically viable state coexisting peacefully with Israel.’
Israel expressed deep disappointment and indicated that this recognition goes against the agreement that a solution to the problem would be seen through bilateral negotiations. Well, this is excellent, except that if one side dictates what is permissible, and at the same time, continues to grab more land, …well, you see where this is going.
Some of our own elected officials criticized the move (of course), calling it ill-advised and regrettable. Republican congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen indicated that this would undermine the peace talks and the security in the Middle East. I take exception to this statement, because at the moment, the security in the area is not a model for the rest of the world. If Lula’s move undermines anything, it is the paralysis that plagues our politicians, and the fact that anything they discuss with the parties concerned has little or nothing to do with real facts on the ground.
I would very much like to see Israel survive and live in a secure fashion alongside its Palestinian neighbor. Unfortunately, most pro-Israel individuals have not embraced the fact that Israel cannot survive as a democracy, and peacefully if it continues its present course.
And while everyone is up in arms about Lula’s courageous act, and are crying foul! why isn’t anyone pointing out that the U.S. was unable to get Israel to stop its settlement building despite a US$3 billion bribe?