Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Israel and Palestine

There's a thread on the board in which some members are making (I hope) facetious suggestions about solutions to the problems in Israel and Palestine. (Why is it that 'Mideast' has become shorthand for this tiny area?) I understand the frustration and impatience of those who are thoroughly sick of the seeming inability of the governments and people there to act like reasonable adults. What Genesis sang in "Blood on the Rooftops" three decades ago is still true for many of us:
Let's skip the news boy (I'll make some tea)
Arabs and Jews boy (too much for me)
They get me confused boy (puts me off to sleep)
And the thing I hate - Oh Lord!
Is staying up late, to watch some debate,
on some nation's fate

But as Obama pointed out in his excellent Cairo speech last week, the road to good relations with nations dominated by Muslims runs through Israel and Palestine. So, I'll make some tea, but not skip the Arabs and Jews this time, and make some serious suggestions for going forward.

Chili chocolate tea--pretty good. Okay, the "mideast":

1) Security is a perfectly reasonable concern of the Israelis, and it's not negotiable. They're surrounded by hostile Arab nations. Yes, yes, I understand the hostility, but there is no way the Israelis will or should rely on the good will of their neighbors. Their neighbors hate their guts. The US has to formalize the implied security guarantee of our patronage with a treaty that obligates us to come to the defense of Israel if attacked. It's the only guarantee strong enough to induce them to make the concessions I'll describe below which are a necessary part of the deal. The UN should make similar guarantees, but that may take a while and is less important anyway, the UN being what it is.

2) Israel has to give up its nuclear weapons. There is no way we have the standing to demand that Iran or anyone else stop trying to get the bomb while Israel has over a hundred warheads and the capability to deliver them as far as Teheran. Obama was brilliant to have brought this up in Cairo. It's a key point that has repercussions all over the world.

3) Justice for the Palestinians has finally got to happen. The past can't be erased. Reparations are not going to be paid. But the occupation must end, and the settlements be dismantled or Palestine be adequately compensated for them, in the judgment of the Palestinians. Any settlements over the 1967 border are illegal. The Washington Post ran an editorial recently advocating for "natural growth" for established settlements. That's bullshit. Say your neighbor, at gunpoint, appropriated part of your yard for a shed. He keeps expanding his shed--"natural growth"--to accommodate more lawn equipment. When the subject of compensation comes up, he talks about giving you part of his yard. If you would rather have that land than the land he stole, then fine. But if you don't like that deal, and he isn't willing to accept any alternatives you propose, then he needs to give you back all your land, however uncomfortable it is for the thief. It's not as though the "settlers" didn't know they were moving into stolen land. That was the whole point for most of them--they figured it was their duty to take the land away from its legal owners for the higher purpose of reclaiming the promised land. But their continued presence can only be allowed if the Palestinians agree to adequate compensation in land and perhaps money. If they don't agree, the settlers have to go, or no treaty and no deal. I would hope that an arrangement could be made for some of the more populous settlements, but there are no guarantees and the Israelis need to accept that.

That's all I got for now. Jerusalem can be shared or split; I don't see it as the main issue. Palestine needs to be an independent state, presumably getting a big hand up from its Arab brethren who have been crying crocodile tears and using the Palestinian refugees as cheap expendable labor. I see no reason why it couldn't be at least as successful as the Arab autocracies
in the area like Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.

1 comment:

shadowmane said...

This is a little late in coming, but here is my take on this whole idea. Palestine already has a state, its called Jordan. Force Jordan to take all of the Palestinians. Then you'll have peace. The "Palestinians" are not refugees from from fictional Palestinian state. The state was Trans-Jordan, and Israel was carved out of that state. The proper place for the "Palestinians" to go is Jordan.