Can Obama avert an Arab-Israeli disaster?

By Bernd Debusmann
December 11, 2008

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Time is running out for Israel and the Palestinians. Barack Obama is probably the last American president to have the option of pursuing an accord leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, the so-called two-state solution.

If that fails, another generation will be locked into bloodshed and strife. That is the bleak scenario painted by two senior American Middle East experts in a new book, Restoring the Balance: A Middle East Strategy for the Next President. It is the product of an 18-month joint study by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations, two pillars of the U.S. foreign policy establishment.

The authors of the chapter on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Steven A. Cook and Shibley Telhami, see American involvement in peace diplomacy as indispensable and say last month’s presidential elections opened new opportunities. But they note that after years of unsuccessful negotiations, there is a
growing sense of disbelief in the possibility of a peaceful agreement.

“More troubling, an increasing number of Palestinian and Arab intellectuals are abandoning the idea of a two-state solution and are now advocating a one-state solution in which Jews and Arabs coexist in a binational state. In Israel some mainstream voices are now arguing that the two-state solution is
unachievable…”

“Left on its current trajectory, the Arab-Israeli conflict is on the verge of moving into a potentially disastrous phase in which Israelis and Arabs broadly come to believe that the two-state solution is no longer viable,” the authors say.

Possible consequences of that belief include a third Palestinian intifada (uprising), a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence and the collapse of the Palestinian authority.

Hamas, the Islamist movement which controls Gaza and is growing in influence on the occupied West Bank, run by the rival Fatah, would be strengthened.

To prevent the dire consequences they foresee, the authors say the new U.S. administration must give high priority to peace diplomacy and change policies on key aspects. Pressing Israel to freeze building settlements in the West Bank is high on their list. So is getting Hamas into the negotiating fold as part of a unity government. (So far, the U.S. and the European Union brand Hamas a terrorist group that cannot be a negotiating partner).

So can Obama do what is necessary to end the impasse? Is the only alternative to a two-state solution renewed, large-scale bloodshed?

NO SIGNS OF FRESH THINKING FROM OBAMA

While Obama has been critical of the hands-off approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the first seven years of the Bush administration, dismissing its efforts as “trips consisting of little more than photo-ops”, the president-elect has shown no sign that he might be willing to break with the decades-old policies that have earned the U.S. a reputation in the Arab world of backing Israel no matter what.

Would Obama, for example, use the threat of withholding U.S. financial aid to get Israel to stop building new settlements in the West Bank – where there already are 240,000 Israeli settlers – or dismantle existing ones? Not likely. Would he throw his weight behind calls for an end to Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza?

Would he, as the Brookings/Council on Foreign Relations report suggests, “recognize that Hamas’s power stems from genuine support among a significant segment of the Palestinian public..?” There’s nothing in his public statements that indicates he would and there are no pointers that he intends to depart from long-standing U.S. policies on the conflict.

That includes the two-state idea. What’s remarkable in the Brookings/CFR analysis is the concern it expresses that in the absence of a peace settlement, secular elites will turn their back on the notion of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and instead opt for one country (Israel, the West Bank and Gaza) in which Arabs and Jews are equal. For decades, the one-state idea was the preserve of a handful of far-left Israelis and Palestinian activists. The fact that it is now bubbling up into the mainstream shows that is gaining currency.

One of the most vocal proponents of the idea is Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian-American activist and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. “All the talk of a two-state solution, all the diplomatic initiatives are divorced from the reality of what Israel is doing on the ground,” he says. “A Palestinian state requires the removal of settlements and that’s not likely to happen.”

Most Israelis reject the notion of one state for all, chiefly for reasons of demographics. Because of higher Palestinian birth rates, Israeli Jews will become a minority within the next two years if present trends continue. By December 2007, Israeli Jews made up just under 48% of the population in the area that would make up one state, Palestinians 46%.

Abunimah, a co-founder the The Electronic Intifada, a website critical of U.S. and Israeli policies, has something in common with the more moderate experts from Brookings and the Council on Foreign Relations. “Solving the Arab-Israeli conflict requires a sledgehammer,” he says, “Not a scalpel.”

Echoing that sense of urgency, the Brookings report says: “The time for incremental agreements has passed.”

You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com.

For previous columns by Bernd Debusmann, click here.

81 comments

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Time has been “running out” since my childhood about 40 years ago. The problem with our young and rather naive politicians (read Obama), and journalists is that they do not understand that. Tell them to relax and focus on realistic problems, like getting back to the roots of our ideals.

Posted by david pyne | Report as abusive

“…A Nato Force should move in immediately… Israel, the Palestinians and Syria will be given 6 months to achieve Peace, before one is enforced”
Awill IsNeeded
________________________________________ ______

Ever thought about imposing outside will on a modern nuclear power? Israel is no Somalia, Haiti, or even Yugoslavia. There are few armies even within NATO that can stand up to IDF. USA, GB, France – and that’s it, even Germany or Italy have lesser military forces, not even counting the nukes in. Besides, NATO is very much loss-averse and will not “move in” without Israel explicitly agreeing to that first – which will never happen. And even that only when there’s a political will within NATO, and there is none of it, nor is expected to be any. It all boils down to the fact that Israel is recognized by all of the civilized world as a legitimate democratic state (which it is, sometimes seems to be even too much of it for its own good), whereas HAMAS, Hizbullah, and like are recognized as terrorist entities (which they are without a shred of a doubt).
And if we raised the issue about imposition of a will, how about imposing on the Arabs recognition of Israel and its legitimate security concerns? How about making the Arab states accommodate Palestinian refugees within themselves, thus removing the biggest stumbling block of so-called “right of return”? To pay for the settlement with the funds they sucked from all of us when the oil prices ballooned beyond anything justifiable? This will prove much more doable than attempting to “impose” anything on Israel. After all, we saw what the Arab armies are worth. The mightiest of them all – Iraqi – crumbled within mere days both in 1991 and 2003.
Or maybe there should be no imposition at all. Imposed solutions and borders in Europe exploded 2 times into world wars. Only agreed upon solution resulted in EU. Maybe we should wait until all sides involved are ready to make peace, and for now just do what we can to keep the status quo from exploding.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

“…Israel must return to the pre-war borders and find the way to compensate refugees…Maybe, we, Americans, should remember…” – and so on, and so forth…
Oleg
________________________________________ _________

Oleg,

Please don’t speak for us Americans. Maybe your point of view was legitimate (and, indeed, official) in USSR. Maybe it’s still prevalent in Russia/CIS with its ages-old traditions of Anti-Semitism. But there was no need for you to bring it in your baggage to America. Even when you write in English you can’t hide your Russian accent. Even though you are in America (as you claim), your view of the world has not changed from that fed on “Pravda” newspaper and “Vremya” TV news. Please look around and think – if regular Communist brainwashing in the past has not deprived you from that ability.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

Dear Anonymous

Are you saying that Israel would even contemplate using its Nukes against Nato, against anybody else? I don’t think so.

The IDF is Mighty, The Mightiest in the Region, No Question about it, but it is Still Over Rated by both Israel and the World Press. The modest capabilities of Hizbullah, an irregular army, attest to that.

If Israel truly wants Peace then Nato is more than capable to provide it. Palestinians will welcome a Nato force, without hesitation. Nato is capable of providing security to Israel by policing its borders with Palestine.

Enforcing a Peace does not have to militarily. Binding Resolutions and economical sanctions can make the Israelis rethink. The European Community is Israel’s No. 1 trading partner. Israeli exports to the USA are all tax free.

If Israel truly wants peace, I do not understand why it would not cede the occupied lands to the Nato. The only reasons I can think of is Israel’s wish to retain occupied lands and/or the unwillingness of the Settler Movements and their backers to allow a withdrawal to take place without a fight. This is capable of igniting a civil war and the split up of the Israeli Army alongside extremists and rightists vs. Moderates and leftists. God knows who would be in charge of the Nukes then.

One thing for sure, in these days when fighting al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism is the head of the agenda, the free world will not be in a position to tolerate Jewish Terrorism.

After giving up 78% of Historical Palestine, the Palestinians have no other inch to give up for free. The larger the Settler Population becomes, the higher the cost of Peace is gonna be for Israel.

Israel will eventually comply with all UN resolutions. It can be easy way or the hard way.

Posted by Awill IsNeeded | Report as abusive

You all talk rubbish and so does everyone else. Nobody can end this problem without a long reaching, and I mean 30 year effort to teach the real history, i.e. we’ve been screwing each other over since time begat time begat time, and it will not end until the world realises. We are beyond borders, we are beyond land and sea. We have but one world to live in, right or wrong we have to share. Grow up, grow a pair, and stop killing everyone..

Posted by Al Paul | Report as abusive

Al Paul…My thoughts exactly! Well said!

Posted by Rick UK | Report as abusive

Unfortunately most Arabs seem to have the mentality of civilization 500 years ago with modern day technology.( Not saying there are many many civilized eduacated Arabs). I don’t see any hope of fixing this problem in much less that 500 more years. They have been fighting among themselves for 100′s of years. Look at Iraq, Hussain controled them with an iron fist. Democracy seems to be too progressive for most Arabs. They need a strong man (tribal leader) to govern them. Western civialization gave that up at least a few hundred years ago.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

With all due respect to President-Elect Obama, asking if Obama can solve the Arab-Israeli problem is like asking if you think a 4-year old can fly a 747 from LAX to Dubai

Hatred exists because of fear and a lack of understanding between people. Israeli and Palestinian people themselves must understand the basis for their own hatred and fear and resolve it through improved communication. Fear is not a political problem, it is a HUMAN PROBLEM. It has existed for millennium. It continues to thrive because people fail to recognize its origins and think treaties or borders will somehow fix the underlying problem. They won’t. Did Bush respect treaties or international borders the moment he was gripped by fear of the potential for a terrorist attack?

Fear poisons understanding in the world. It makes miscommunication and human mistakes appear more threatening and ominous than they are meant to be. It breeds distrust and hate. People who encourage fear are either ignorant of its power or embrace it for the power it provides them over others. Fear is the enemy in the Middle East and it is one thing no one is making an effort to control through improved communication. Fear is the default emotion that prevents people from understanding or embracing the truth and recognizing what is real and has value.

Posted by PJW5552 | Report as abusive

Please get some reading done and try to figure out if the muslims killed any jews between 1260-1917. You might come out with a logic answer after learning about world’s history as a whole instead of believing occidental, jewish, muslim, russian or whatever form of propaganda…

Posted by Algeria | Report as abusive

I thought Carter was the last president to have any hope to resolve the Israeli/Arab conflict. I get so confused.

Posted by MadMat | Report as abusive

What’s a Palestinian?

Posted by Narvik40 | Report as abusive

I learned early on in my life that when I stop banging my head against the wall my head stops hurting. After five presidents over the last 40 years have tried the two state solution perhaps we should stop hitting our heads against the wall and look at the FACTS. Jordan is run by a Saudi Arabian! Over 80% of “Jordanians” are so called Palestinians. These so called Palestinians have a country it is called the “Heshemite Kingdom of Jordan” Just get rid of the Hesemite (Saudi Arabian) turn it over to the rightful owners and voila Palestinian Homeland call it whatever they want to call it and let Jordan live and let live and let Israel live and let live. In other words STOP HITTING YOUR HEAD AGAINST THE WALL, look at history and do the right thing!

Posted by Bruce | Report as abusive

I am a Palestinian and My grandparents home is occupied by Jews who came from the former USSR. If this unjust is not resolved, there will never be peace in the Middle East. Moreover, the USA should look at the Arab-Israeli conflict from a moral stand not form biblical or ideological stand.

Posted by Mahmoud | Report as abusive

Let’s face reality: there is no hope of peace between Israel and the the Arab world, including the stateless Palestinians, until until Israel’s right to exist is once and for all accepted and affirmed. But there is no hope of such affirmation until, at a minimum, Israel is willing to cede the territories required for the creation of a Palestinian state, including (probably) all of the occupied West Bank.

Simply put, an Israeli-Palestinian accord is possible, but both sides will have to make major concessions. And if one or both of them is unwilling? One option is for the territory to be carved up by U.N. mandate into two independent states in a manner not perhaps to the liking of either party, with an occupying NATO army to guarantee the security of the borders, at least until things cool down. Another possibility would be for the U.S., on its own — ever the friend of Israel, of course — to withdraw U.S. financial and military aid from the Jewish state unless the latter immediately agrees to strict terms including (1) reversal of the policy of building new settlements on the West Bank and (2) ending the oppression of the Palestinian people — possibly to include total abandonment by Israel of existing settlements on the West Bank and withdrawal of all Israeli troops from what are effectively Palestinian territories. For a vivid description of Israel’s dehumanizing oppression of the Palestinians, see the article by Chris Hedges, “Israel’s ‘Crime Against Humanity,’ ” at http://www.alternet.org/audits/113143/ , according to which “Israel’s siege of Gaza rivals the worst crimes carried out at the height of South African apartheid.” Israel, it seems, is becoming its own worst enemy. This puts newly-elected President Barack Obama in an excellent position, at this crucial time, to be Israel’s greatest friend, as the U.S. has a long tradition of being, but without in this case necessarily appearing to be. For Israel’s current policies clearly run counter to its own long-term interests, and the interests of regional peace and stability as well.

Posted by David Ferrell | Report as abusive

Israel has no ethical right to exist. This is the problem. Recognize that, and there will be peace.

Posted by Omar | Report as abusive

Regarding two comments below by “Algeria” and “Awill Isneeded”:

First, with respect to “Algeria”, to say that there was little violence propagated by Moslems against Jews between 1260 and 1917 is not accurate; there were Arab pogroms against Jews during the late 19th and early 20th century that coincided with the early period of the modern Zionist movement. Stil, to say that “Jews and Arabs got along just fine before Zionism” is rather like saying that “whites and blacks got along just fine” in the Jim Crow southern U.S. before those civil rights “troublemakers” showed up. Jews were treated as third-class citizens in the Moslem world; we don’t even know how many Jews existed in the Ottoman-controlled areas of what is now modern Israel because they refused to even count Jews in their census. Yes, the Jews had the temerity to demand self-determination as a people, to be treated like equal human beings among the world’s peoples, and then there was violence. All because of those “uppity Jews”, I suppose.

As for “Awill Isneeded”, a will for what? To legitimize medieval persecution of the Jews yet again? To rationlize denying the Jewish state the most basic considerations that would be, that have been given to, practically any other state that has found itself in Israel’s circumstances?

No country in history has been compelled to relinquish all territories acquired in the course of a defensive war. By any reasonable standared, the 1967 war was a defensive war for Israel. Egypt initiated hostilities by blockading the Strait of Tiran an act of war, and also by re-militarizing the Sinai, in direct violation of the 1956 cease-fire agreement. In the West Bank, Jordan shelled Tel Aviv from that territory without any provocation whatsoever. In any case, even UNSCR 242 does NOT require Israel to give up the whole of the West Bank, but only “territories” – not ALL the territories, but an undertermned portion subject to negotiation – acquired during that war.

We see what a great job NATO has done in south Lebanon since 2006; Hezbollah is armed as never before, openly supplied by Syria and Iran.

AI refers to “Jewish terrorism”; what a perverse comment! The only difference between Israel and the U.S. is that for Israel, Afghanistan is right next door. What would any responsible government do if faced with what Israel is faced with on her frontiers? Israel defends herself, and that is “terrorism”?! Right….

Finally, if the Palestinians were “forced” to give up “78% of historic Palestine”, then isn’t the more obvious solution to give them BACK that 78%, where they are presently the majority in any case, namely JORDAN? Now, talk about where “a will is needed…” See my original post.

And by the way, AI, “historic Palestine” only existed as such from the time of the British Mandate from 1922 onwards. Before that, there never was a concrete, delineated piece of real estate called “Palestine”. Most of the area of the British Mandate, under the Ottomans, was called “Southern Syria”.

Posted by Robert Vincent | Report as abusive

what ever will happen the israli will always win as said in the true words of the bible.

Regarding comments by “Omar” and “Mahmoud”

Omar, Israel has a greater right to exist than many of the world’s nations. Countless countries that exist in the world today were founded by colonial powers, and are led and populated by the descendants of those powers, at the great expense of the original inhabitants.

The Zionist founders of modern Israel did not come there to plant the flag of any other country. They were rejoining the original native inhabitants of that land. Though sometimes few in number, the Jews are the only people that have an unbroken, continuous link to that real estate. There was a Jewish country on that land before there ever was an Arab nation anywhere. Jews have lived there continually ever since. That is a fact. I don’t need the Bible or any ideology to support that.

Maybe if the Jews weren’t persecuted everywhere else, like most other perpetual minorities (e.g., Gypsies, Kurds), Israel wouldn’t be so vitally necessary to them. But it is, that isn’t going to change, and they aren’t going to give it up. And no human being worthy of the title should blame them for that.

But I’m sure it doesn’t matter what facts, logic, or documentation I present. People like you will never be convinced, any more than a committed Nazi could ever be convinced that Jews are human beings.

Still, I’m glad you posted what you did, Omar, because you illustrate to the gullible, such as Mr. Debusmann, or “Awhill Isneeded”, etc., what is really going on here. Such latter types cling to the illusion that if only Israel makes enough concessions, at some point, the Arabs will be satisfied, and there will be peace. No, as Omar illustrates – because he is at least being honest – most of Arab/Moslsm SW Asia/NE Africa, in their present political/cultural state, will not be satisfied until Israel is destroyed. Except that if it comes to that, with perhaps 200 nuclear warheads at her disposal, Israel will take the rest of the region with them. Is that what you want, Omar?

As to Mahmoud, I’m sorry for the personal losses your family suffered. However, if the Arab world had accepted the UN partition plan of 1947, instead of attacking the newly-born Israeli state outright, no Arab would have been forced from their home. If Jordan hadn’t shelled Tel Aviv from the West Bank in 1967, no Arab would have lost their home in that land, either. Yes, you have been victimized, but chiefly, this has been by your own leaders.

During WW2, millions of innocent Japanese and German civilians lost their homes, even their lives. By the end of the war, in practically every major German city, there was barely one brick on top of another. A quarter of more of Japan’s 65 largest cities were burned to the ground. Many Germans and Japanese can tell far worse horror stories than you can, about the terrible cost of war. But no matter how much these people suffered, it did not add one iota of legitimacy to the German or Japanese causes of that time. So, with all due respect, I might ask you to re-think what is “just” or “unjust” in this case, and who is really to blame for your family’s predicament.

There will be peace when the West, applying the lessons learned at horrific cost over the course of their own history, recognize and treat Israel for the worthy ally she is, rather than making excuses for her adversaries and attempting to sell her out to the same, in what amounts to another short-sighted and ultimately doomed exercise in misguided appeasement.

Posted by Robert Vincent | Report as abusive

Both parts are wrong in so many ways, for example, the violence and fanatism that palestinian are teachig their children is absolutely not right under any circumstance,
jews are people too.
But jews need to understand that palestinians had been living there for many centuries and they too have the right to be living there, i would say palestinians have more right to be there.

Why?

Because they were not responsible for the jewish diaspora, wich was forced by the romans because the jews rebelled so much.
But jews coming back to reclaim it from palestinians by force is nonsense, is like my family forcing at gun point other family out of their home because our great grandparents lived there hundred years ago but emigrated because of some disaster.

why is that disaster the fault of that other family???

Posted by Lalo | Report as abusive

“Lalo”,

You make it sound as though it was the “fault” of the Jews that they were expelled by the Romans, because they “rebelled so much”…in other words, THEY WANTED SELF-DETERMINATION. Confound those ‘uppity Jews’…Good thing the British weren’t able to carry out a ‘diaspora’ against us ‘rebellious’ Americans!

At any rate, the rest of your assumptions betray your own prejudices against the Jews as well. If you read my post carefully – and if you studied the history just as careully – you’d see that the Palestinians WERE NOT forced off of their land to make way for Israel.

The original modern Israeli state, per the UN partition plan of 1947, was about half the size of pre-1967 Israel. The formation of this state did not involve displacing anyone. Between what they already owned, plus what the British handed over to them when they left, the Jews owned 80% of that land, and had the majority of the population.

It was only as a result of two wars that the Arabs started – the original Israeli war of independence in 1948, and the 1967 war – that Israel seized land that resulted in the dislocation of Arabs. So, your basic point, though it is consistent with what the Palestinians would have you believe, is false. The Jews are not there – in the sense of being on land formerly owned by Arabs – because of some “distant disaster”. The Jews are in formerly Arab homes because of much more recent disasters – i.e., wars – caused by the Arab leadership.

The real objection the Arabs have to Israel is that the land was once under Moslem control. The way many Moslems of the region interpret their faith, they believe Islam is “superior” to all other religions, they don’t really separate church and state, and they believe that once a particular land falls under Moslem control, it cannot “go back” to the control of an “inferior” religion, such as Judaism. This is similar to the belief system of the Soviet empire in their day, that once a country became joined the “socialist camp”, it could not revert to an inferior “bourgeois” state. Except that in the Moslem case, this is supposedly by dint of ultimate authority.

So, the Palestinian Arabs are simply cannon fodder for an agenda propagated by clerics from Cairo to Riyadh and beyond. Because of historical Arab “pride”, in order to reclaim their “honor”, the Palestinians have been forced by their Arab and Moslem brethren into a position whereby in order to regain their place as “equals” among the rest of the Arabs, they must destroy Israel. This is not an agenda based on a quest for “justice”. This is no more enlightened than racist white southerners who, after having lost the Civil War, were determined to maintain their sense of “manhood” by persecuting blacks all the same, keeping them “in their place”.

That is what this war is about. It is not about “Zionist aggression”. It is about backward, medieval anti-Jewish bigotry masquerading as “victimhood”, and you, “Lalo”, apparently buy this nonsense hook, line, and sinker.

Posted by Robert Vincent | Report as abusive

Here is a IDEA>>>>… Can we all just get along?

Posted by j | Report as abusive

There is no right or wrong in Israel’s response. They have cut off supplies from Gaza and that failing bombed them to stop mortar and rocket attacks. An eye for an eye is not the proper analogy as it is more like a finger for an arm. Only the creation of Palestine with The Dome Of The Rock under their control will ever bring peace. A connecting tunnel from the Dome grounds to a New Jerusalem with connecting highway to the West Bank and Gaza would make Palestine somewhat contiguous. More land as peace continues can be ceded by Israel. Any other solution will be unacceptable to the Arab league and Palestineans.

Posted by Jimbo | Report as abusive

The US provides funding for Israel. From exclusive Jewish Settlement building,R&R for arms projects, to aviation fuel for US built F-16′s. All this with no strings. American auto companies might want to ask why a foreign country(Israel) is not held accountable for US tax payer aid,while the American companies are made to grovel

Posted by bruce | Report as abusive

israelians ‘ll be punished some day by the one.the strongest god.

ahmadinejad we trust u to beat all jews in israel

in sénegal we belive in palestinian people.we’re against violences and we condamne this genocide.

Posted by SANEEX | Report as abusive

This has to be the mother of them all. If after this the U.N and EU do not completely saction israel, then we know that they truely are the fraud that we all knew all along. We already know where the U.S stands on this, so no surprises there.Is this israel’s way of showing its “might” to take on a bunch of already poor and helpless civilians. is this supposed to scare iran or hezbullah? the fact that they are using their F-16s and helicopters on a bunch of rock throwing kids and teenagers?? this is the best israel can do, they know better then to fight hezbullah like this or even Iran because they know that it would be 225 dead israeli soldiers. this validates every thing about israel. they are an American backed puppy who has to take on a bunch of helpless civilians to show their “might”. for a nation who pretends to consider itself relevant in the world’s affairs, this just shows that they are a weak and pathetic government. I feel bad for the good jewish people who are approaching the end of Hannukah. a holiday which observes the persecution and oppression of jews. Is this how the zionists government observes hanukkah?? after this, I hope iran does get a nuclear weapon, it looks like its gonna take something of that nature to keep israel from wodering too far from its pig pen.

Posted by sidney | Report as abusive

Iran and Sirira (U.A.R.) doesn’t go stop for throw nuclear bombs against Israel. And the entire world know the stupid actions in the United Nations Organizations

Posted by the war is beginning | Report as abusive

This is one of the most trenchant pieces I’ve seen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict yet. One state now, one state forever.

Being a pragmatist, I wouldn’t argue that Israeli Jews of European or Ethiopian descent should be forced to return to Europe or Ethiopia, but I would certainly argue that the settlements in the West Bank should be dismantled (hey, aren’t they suburban sub-divisions that are not sustainable energy-wise anyway?) — and that Palestinians within living memory of their homelands should be granted the right-of-return.

For the rest of humanity? Forty acres and mule should do. I await my own.

Posted by Adam S. | Report as abusive

It is amazing to me the blatant anti-Semitism displayed by the recent preceding comments.

I would ask any reasonable person: What would any responsible government do if their neighbor harbored a terrorist organization that was bent on that former state’s destruction, would not even recognize their very right to exist, and continually carried out terrorist attacks from the host state’s territory?

Even at the height of the Cold War, with thousands of nuclear weapons pointing at each other, with the two superpowers perhaps one lunatic in a submarine or a faulty circuit away from nuclear annihliation, the Soviet Union and the U.S. recognized each other’s right to exist, had diplomatic relations, even engaged in a small amount of trade.

By contrast, even the PA’s so-called ‘moderate’ Fatah faction under Abbas won’t formally recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state; this would be like Russia refusing to recognize Poland’s right to exist as a Polish state, or Germany refusing to recognize France’s right to exist as a French state.

As I point out in my December 19th post in this forum, the original modern Israeli state, per the 1947 U.N. partition plan, did not result in the displacement of ANY Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian Arabs only became refugees as a result of two wars started by their leaders, and/or by the leaders of neighboring Arab states, these being the 1948 and 1967 wars. No country in history has ever been required to cede all territory acquired in a defensive war, and there is no reason that Israel should be forced into being an exception to this established precedent.

Thus, the Palestinian Arabs have no legal basis for “right of return”. At any rate, the majority of ethnic Palestiinian Arabs live in Jordan, which is the real Palestinian state. As I point out in my December 15th post, I find it most curious that the principle of “majority rule” is invoked by the Palestinians and their supporters in the case of the West Bank, but this same principle is completely forgotten in the case of Jordan, right next door, which was part of the original Mandate of Palestine, and which today consists of a majority Palestinian population ruled over by an autocratic, minority sect royal family installed by the British. Where is the moral indignation over this state of affairs on the part of people like “Sidney”?

“Sidney” complains about modern military might being used against a bunch of “poor and hapless” civilians..isn’t this rather like the ‘pool and hapless’ Taliban, who, little better armed or funded than the Palestinians, flew planes into our buildings in 2001? Who nearly carried out a plot in 2006 to blow up multiple airliners over the Atlantic ocean?

For Israel, “Afghanistan” is right next door. By the standards Israel is held to by many, given that Al Queda has not attacked U.S. territory since 2001 (at least not successfully), this means that THEY (Al Queda) have been observing a “cease fire” for seven years! So what is NATO doing in Afghanistan??

For Israel to lose the same proportion of their population that we lost on 9-11, they only have to lose about 60 civilians. The PA – whether controlled by Hamas or Fatah – is responsible for direct, deliberate attacks on unarmed Israeli noncombatants far beyond that number. Yes, the Palestinians are poor and miserable…in no small part because every penny they get – hundreds of millions of dollars and euros every year, not counting the “under the table” monies from places like Iran – goes not to improve the lot of the Palestinians, but to promote hate and violence against Israel, or to simply line the pockets of Palestinian leaders and their cronies.

And if Palestinians enjoyed the freedom of expression indulged in by the likes of “Sidney”, if they actually had the kind of rights he takes for granted, rights that are denied them by their own governments, I’m sure many would protest this state of affairs. One gutsy son of a top Hamas leader did in fact defect and convert to Chisrianity, as are many Palestinians today, so sick are they of the “cult of death” that pervades Islam as they experience it in their world. But, they cannot protest, for if they did, they and their families would surely be killed. With Israel’s F-16s this is a random thing; but speak out against the corrupt thugs of Hamas or Fatah, and death is a certainty.

In any other conflict, all other things being equal, I’m sure everything I say above would be obvious to all. But in this case, we are dealing with one side comprised of Jews. The ugliness, the outrageous double standards displayed below, these are reminiscent of the kind of anti-Semitism driven, cowardly rationalizations we saw in the 1930s for appeasing the likes of Hitler.

Yes, “Sidney”, I suppose if we serve up the Jews of Israel as a sacrificial offering to those “poor, hapless, civilians” of Israel’s surrounding enemies, who make no secret of wanting to kill each and every Jewish man, woman, and child in the Levant, you expect that once this blood lust had been satisfied and those “uppity Jews” had been “put in their place”, there might be peace. And you would be dead wrong. Osama Bin Laden didn’t care a whit about Israel or the Palestinians, he never talked about them until after 9-11. His beef against the “infidels” is much broader and deeper than that, and Israel’s defeat would only serve to embolden the likes of him.

“Jimbo”, however well-intentioned your post, ceding land will not bring peace. This will only serve to validate historically and morally unjustifiable claims of the Arabs, and thus will promote further war. What has happend in Gaza since Israel left in 2005 has more than proved this. It is amazing that further proof was needed, after Israel left south Lebanon in 2000…and for their trouble, got Hezbollah firing rockets at Israeli civilians, and kidnapping Israeli soldiers, leading to war there.

Peace will come when the civilized world can free itself from the fetters of the Arab/Moslem propaganda machine, can truly rise above the anti-Jewish bigotry that so pervades debate concerning Israel, and recognize that Israel is to the war on Islamist-based terror what West Berlin was to the Cold War in their day.

From there, uncompromising support of Israel will ultimately lead to peace, once Israel’s foes – who are also the foes of the liberal democracy we enjoy here – see that they can no longer leverage ignorance and anti-Jewish bigotry in pursuit of their bloody-minded, genocidal aims.

Posted by Robert Vincent | Report as abusive

I am told in Scripture to Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ”May those who love you be secure
May there be peace within your walls 
and security within your citadels.”
Psalms 122:6-7
The peace sought in these verses is much more than the mere absence of conflict. It suggests completeness, health, justice, prosperity, and protection. The world cannot provide this peace. Real peace comes from faith in God, because he alone embodies all the characteristics of peace. To find peace of mind and peace with others, you must find peace with God. Muslims – Jews – Christians
I suggest that the Muslims, Jews and Christians of the Holy Land Lock Arms – Face the East
Humble themselves and seek God. Pray together and ask Forgiveness together. Love one another. God will hear from heaven and heal thier land…. and heart.
God tells us that love does not insist on its own way. There has to be compromise. Seek God, then listen for his voice. Or the people of the Holy land will never, ever find peace. The muslim will always ne a thorn in Israels side. God said it, I belive it.

@Robert Vincent: Mr. Vincent, I mostly share your opinion. Nevertheless I hope you answer two questions I have, referring to your following statement:

“the original modern Israeli state, per the 1947 U.N. partition plan, did not result in the displacement of ANY Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian Arabs only became refugees as a result of two wars started by their leaders, and/or by the leaders of neighboring Arab states, these being the 1948 and 1967 wars.”

1. How could have been realized the jewish homeland according to the UN partition plan, without dispelling the Arabs from the region which was ought to be Israel?

2. Isn’t it true that the Irgun and other military forces threatened Palastinian Arabs to leave their homes or they would get killed otherwise?

Thanks in advance for giving more details.

Posted by Wagner | Report as abusive