To Everything There Is A Season
by Geraldo Rivera | May 14, 2015
The Jews of Palestine was dancing in the streets of Jerusalem 67 years ago today as the future Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the birth of a new sovereign nation, “a Jewish state in Eretz Israel to be known as the State of Israel.” And so the Jewish homeland became a nation born on May 14, 1948.
It was only three years after the end of the barbaric attempt to eradicate the Jewish race in Europe, the Holocaust, during which the Nazi’s killed millions. And there is no doubt that sympathy for the stricken Jews played a large role in the decision by the United Nations General Assembly to partition the former British mandate of Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish nations.
We all know that the ink was barely dry on Ben-Gurion’s declaration of independence before all the surrounding Arab nations invaded the new nation in the first of several failed attempts to wipe Israel off the face of the map of the Middle East. That existential threat continues to haunt modern Israel, making normal life still elusive with wars and violence as much a part of the nation’s life as historic relics and the Mediterranean weather.
Yet sympathy is scarce. Despite the undeniable external threats to Israel’s existence, the world has lost patience with the Jewish State. It is because of Israel’s refusal to allow the other half of the old British mandate, the Palestinian Arabs also to have their own country.
Over Israeli and American objections, more than 135 nations have recognized a state of Palestine, including friends of Israel like Britain, France, Spain, Ireland and Sweden.
Now, Pope Francis and the Vatican have followed suit, the Vatican dramatically announcing Wednesday that it will soon sign a treaty recognizing an independent Palestine.
The Vatican action carries the symbolic weight of hundreds of millions of Catholics led by a popular pope who is clearly pro-Israeli, the pope acting in response to statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his bitterly contested election campaign that he would never allow the establishment of a Palestinian state on his watch.
I wasn’t surprised by Mr. Netanyahu’s draconian statements because as I have been reporting for more than a decade Bibi made similar statements to me in Jerusalem way back in 2002.
A two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict has been U.S. policy for a quarter century since the administration of President George H.W. Bush 41. It has been affirmed by every U.S. president since. Still, Washington has done little to pressure Israel into keeping its word about Palestine.
Under pressure from high rollers like Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the Republican establishment has deserted the notion of an independent Palestine in favor of a policy that says Greater Israel Right or Wrong.
It has been 67 years since Israel became a nation displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their ancestral homes in what became Israel. It has been 48 years since the Palestinians of the West Bank have been occupied following the 1967 War. Now the Pope has effectively declared the Israeli occupation an injustice and has thrown the weight of the Vatican behind the Two State Solution. It's way past time for an independent Palestine. On Israeli Independence Day, is anybody in Jerusalem or Washington listening to the Pope and the rest of the world?