We’ll always have Paris

star-Paris-Peace_150 Déjà Versailles

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

Karl Marx

Just in the interests of symmetry the Paris Peace Conference due to take place next week should have waited two more years. It won’t of course, not even four more months, because the organisers are aware that not only would U.S. President Obama be replaced by President Trump but French President François Hollande has announced he would not seek re-election in the upcoming 2017 French presidential election. For both of them properly screwing Israel before their term ends is a last hurrah.


“You have to swallow it whether you like it or not”

Why two years? That would be the centenary of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, otherwise known as the Treaty of Versailles. The first was tragedy, leading ultimately and perhaps inevitably to the Second World War by way of a failed international body, the League of Nations. The second …?
There are many similarities …

  • ‘Peace’ conference??????
  • The United States, the United Kingdom and France are major participants.
    • Italy was a major player in 1919 but will attend in 2017 in a reduced, cheerleader role. Germany, the reluctant ‘victim/ accused’ in 1919 will be a participant in 2017†.
  • Many countries would take part giving a veneer of democracy in its conclusions. In both the party most feeling the weight of the conference’s conclusions was not invited but would be informed later.
    • In 1919, Germany took that role. In 2017, Israel and ‘Palestine’.
  • Judging by the leaked, draft of the conference’s summary statement both conferences will result in a loss of territory and effectively apportion entire blame on one party to the conflict.
    • A rare congratulations to Haaretz for publishing the leak. It is on a pay site but we have  link to the text here.
  • A very similar air of arrogant, moral superiority and certainty surrounds both conferences.

… In the realm of informed speculation:

  • The 1919 conference was sent to the League of Nations, which failed utterly to prevent war. A war which arguably wouldn’t have been avoided had the conference come to a different, fairer conclusion. The 2017 will be sent to the United Nations, which has failed utterly to prevent many wars allowing Pres. Obama to ‘bravely abstain’ in the last minutes of his presidency.
    • … or perhaps just vote in favour. He can hardly pretend to object to some of the wording if America openly took part in the drafting.
    • Despite President Woodrow Wilson’s participation, in Paris, the U.S. Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles. Judging by the Congressional condemnation and a likely similar vote in the Senate a Security Council vote in favour of the Paris conclusions will be rejected by the both houses of U.S. legislature. Too late in both cases.
    • Both conferences inevitably led to the opposite of peace.

Analogies have their limits. The conferences differ in an important way.
Germany lost the war‡ — Israel won it.

Cartoons about the 1919 Paris Peace Conference

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About the draft

Am I the only one who sees something terribly icky about a summary prepared before the conference? So what is the point of having a conference to rubber stamp it?

Am I the only one who sees the insistence that both parties disavow official voices on their side that reject this solution as an attack on Israeli democracy. Whether I agree with them or not ministers in the Israeli government have been elected by the people.

For the record

I regard forcing Israel into a ‘Two State Solution’, at least for the present, as the moral equivalent of standing on the bridge of the Titanic and directing the captain to steer directly towards the fuzzy, white blob on the horizon.

More in the annotated draft to follow.

Extra credit

† Just who will be attending is not clear. More than seventy countries have been invited. Has anyone seen a list of those who accepted?
‡ Some may argue that Germany didn’t really lose the war but nevertheless they surrendered. Alas, that is an argument for another forum.

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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