By Amitabh Pal on November 29, 2012

The U.S. opposition to Palestine's bid for U.N. recognition is illogical.

The State Department's official mantra, from Hillary Clinton down onward, is that this will muddy the peace process. Er, what peace process? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to make sure that the negotiations go nowhere while Israeli settlements gobble up more and more Palestinian land.

"The confidence scam that Israel and the United States have been running on the Palestinians, of a 'peace process,' is finally about to meet a well-deserved demise," writes Professor Juan Cole on his Informed Comment blog. "There are now over 600,000 Israeli settlers on the Occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank (including the areas unilaterally annexed by Israel to its 'district of Jerusalem')."

And what is the cause for the U.S. and Israeli freakout at what is largely a symbolic move?

"A major concern for the Americans is that the Palestinians might use their new status to try to join the International Criminal Court," the New York Times reports. "That prospect particularly worries the Israelis, who fear that the Palestinians might press for an investigation of their practices in the occupied territories.'

The audacity! The Palestinians may finally get justice for an illegal occupation (though the Palestinian National Authority is playing down the idea that it will rush before the court).

This has to be said: The International Criminal Court has been a bit of a disappointment. I have been a big supporter of the court and have written in its favor for more than a decade now, ever since it was being formed. But the truth is that pretty much all the targets of its investigations have been African countries with little or no muscle. The reason is a basic structural flaw: The U.N. Security Council can refer cases to the court (even regarding a non-signatory) or, conversely, block any such attempts.

The court had a chance to redeem itself when it agreed to consider whether to charge Israel for its conduct in the Occupied Territories. This April, however, it refused to move forward on the ground that Palestine was not a full U.N. member. The upgrade of Palestine from an "entity' to a "non-member state" would still not completely resolve this issue, but would definitely strengthen its legal standing.

Which is why Israel and the United States are so worried and tried (along with the United Kingdom) to have Palestine pledge not to join the court as a precondition to removing their objections to its U.N. upgrade.

The position of the United States and the United Kingdom is perplexing.

"I simply do not understand why our voting for the resolution would make the situation worse," said Tony Blair's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. "Surely it would make it much better. Israel pockets any concession made by the West to accommodate its position and then not only does nothing but makes the situation worse."

Even some Israeli establishment figures are speaking out against the official stance.

"I think Israel has mismanaged the entire thing," Irit Kohn, the former head of international affairs for the Ministry of Justice, told GlobalPost. "Israel seems to be mostly concerned about possible Palestinian claims to the ICC, but in my opinion, even if the ICC were to recognize Palestine, which is a long shot, I don't think Israel has anything to worry about."

The Obama Administration and the Netanyahu government should listen to such voices, instead of appearing like bullies on the global stage.

If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of the Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "Bangladeshi Factory Fire Horror Exposes Workings of Global Economy."

Follow Amitabh Pal @amitpal on Twitter.

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By Julia Burke
Ali Abd ElRahman believes the United States has the potential to take a leadership role in food...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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