It is an understatement to say that the confrontational situation in the Middle East is far too expensive for all of us – and I mean all the “great powers”. It has resulted in the alienation of the United States due to our 0wn inept management of our role in it. Up to now, our policy towards the Palestinians is to advise them to accept the Israeli definition of “peace” in the region – the total and eternal marginalization of Palestinians.
Oddly, the Israeli policy is tending to marginalize Israel as much as the Palestinians, who are gaining support in the world against Israeli intransigence. This past week a poll suggested that if Iran goes nuke, 24 % of Israelis will leave Israel. The Likudists place land grabbing far above any other values.
President Obama is trying to negotiate something – God only knows what – with incalcitrant constituencies. He now is dealing with mentalities consisting of Hamas and Likud. You could not find any two less amenable groups. They are the Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld of their cultures. Expectations of near term resolution through negotiation are not realistic. The leading Arab states are offering universal Israeli recognition and trade treaties, but Netanyahu has his heels dug in and fears being assassinated should he change his position. King Abdullah, probably the most credible and responsible leader in the Middle East, is trying to coax Netanyahu, but Netanyahu was elected on the basis of his right wing refusenik credentials.
President Obama will not agree to Israel’s use of any outside airspace – and the relevant Arab nations agree – for any action against Iran, so Netanyahu really has to take a doomsday position if his craziness is to proceed. Would he do it? Is he that nuts? The moderates in Israel no longer hold great power. Israel is acting like a mad dog in a schoolyard right now. Meetings followed by vague suggestions of nonspecific progress are a bloody charade. Netanyahu just visited Washington to tell President Obama to go to hell.
From the Israeli perspective, every land grab self justifies as a means to prevent the next Holocaust. While the Holocaust was an absolute horror, it was not the only holocaust. Others have experienced them. That excuse will not exonerate land grabs n the minds of the Arab world, nor anymore in the minds of non Arab nations. The Palestinians were not the culprits in their holocaust, not that logic has anything to do with what happens in the Middle East. So long as the basis of current Israeli policy is that the world owes it an eternal debt for the Holocaust, peaceful resolution is not likely to be achieved. The attitudinal obstacle was the same in South Africa, where it was widely bruited that Apartheid was God’s will. Some problems and attitudes simply do not yield to self resolution, especially when it is to the profit of those holding the attitude.
In every religion there is a radical clerical worm waiting for just the right circumstances for them to emerge with a cry that everyone else must be eliminated for the glory of God. The manner if management of the Middle East by the great powers has brought about just that configuration of catalysts, and the rabbis and mullahs cry out for the establishment of the most conservative credo of their faiths to become the law of the world – as they see it. Women can be attacked in Jerusalem and in Shiite Iraq or in Afghanistan for any slight act of what some nut case rabbi or mullah calls immodesty.
It is time that the world took this out of their hands and did what needs to be done the same way we ended Apartheid in South Africa. It will take extraordinary measures to accomplish this extraordinary result.
We never imagined that it would become necessary to repartition Palestine in order to provide a home land for Palestinians. That moment is at hand.
The coalition of Great Powers that will partition the area should include the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. Representatives from Israel and Palestinian constituencies would be invited to appear and offer suggestions.
The coalition would configure the West Bank and Gaza so as to include in the new Palestinian state all the areas of the West Bank that are predominantly Arab in population and culture, plus all the area that is now the site of Israeli West Bank settlements, plus some small part of East Jerusalem sufficient for the new Palestine to be able to maintain offices and access for the establishment of their capital. There should be a wide access route between the West Bank and Gaza, and Gaza should be included in the new Palestine. To the extent that buffer territory into the Negev would represent a useful approach for any worthwhile purpose, including population growth, that buffer territory should also be included.
The coalition would adopt a resolution configuring the new Palestine, publishing a map of it, and offer a United Nations resolution recognizing this area as the State of Palestine, a sovereign nation with membership in the United Nations. Every nation in the coalition should immediately recognize the new Palestinian state. Within its boundaries the Palestinians may establish their own form of government, in their own inimitable manner. This government should immediately receive recognition of the other governments of the world. One of its first acts would be to oust the Israelis from all Israeli settlements encroaching into Palestinian territory. Of course, as a matter of pique, the Israelis would blow them all up so that nothing of value is left – typical.
I am not stupid. I know that the Israelis would resist, just as South Africa resisted pulling down its Apartheid regime. Tough! They can just adjust, and eventually they will.
If the Israelis refuse cooperation in this plan, Israel should be boycotted by every nation in the world, by the European Union and by every other significant world organization until its economic circumstances force it to get real. More and more the choice is narrowing to economic warfare or armed warfare. Economic pressure finally changed South Africa.
And if the Palestinians attack Israel after all this is done, they should – but probably won’t – receive painful retribution in some form. As of now they have nothing by way of meaningful industry than could be the subject of a boycott. Will they try to build an economy once they have their own state, or are they so far along the road to nihilism that nation building is simply not in their profile? I only know one way to find out. But one thing is for certain. We spend so much money on conflict now that diverting some of that to subsidizing nation building seems like a reasonable risk. It’s not like we are making a history of short term military accomplishments in our present mode. We have been in Iraq and Afghanistan longer than we were in World War Two, and we have very little to show for it. That military budget could be used for nation building with lives saved. We are all tired of our own people dying for the obstinacy of others.
No one has yet made the kind of economic investment in Palestine that we have made in Iraq. Nor would it take that level of investment to create the financial comfort level to convince people that peaceful coexistence is tolerable. So much of our investment in Iraq was simply bribery without material value. Is the impoverishment of Palestine deliberate for the purpose of maintaining a surrogate, proxy army? It could be argued that the poverty and agony of the Palestinians is deliberate and that extremists profit from the adversity. The circumstances are too obvious to ignore. The world is outsourcing everything now. Palestine should be able to participate in that.
When the great powers partitioned Palestine to provide an area for the Israelis in 1948, they were thrilled. What made them happy and willing to recognize in 1948 as the then new reality can now be accepted by them when the process works in ways that do not give them carte blanche to do anything they believe suits them.
If you believe this simplistic and irrational – as I am certain the Israelis will claim – consider please that it is exactly how the State of Israel was established in 1948. What worked then will work now if there is sufficient great power commitment. You don’t need wasted years of yakkity yak crapola in the UN if there is resolve amongst those whose probity is responsible and honest.
The rest of the world should no longer bear the economic, political, military, and moral cost of tolerating this ridiculous current situation. It is time that the same kind of bold action be taken that was taken in 1948.
This solution imposes no risks that are not already present. In fact, without decisive action the region’s risks are far more likely to erupt into widespread armed conflict. Nothing in statecraft is without risk, and that is certainly more than true in the Middle East.
There are certain cultural imperatives that have contributed to great intransigence on the part of the Israelis. Foremost, and the most ridiculous, is that God Almighty made them the Chosen People and in consideration of that status conferred real estate upon them in perpetuity. No one on earth can rightly claim to be superior in the eyes of God to anyone else. If you believe that God put us here, then we are all chosen. The chosen people nonsense trivializes humanity’s relationship with God, making it the same as ridiculous claims to superiority based upon one’s membership in a club.
Biblical literalists play into the hands of imperial agendas of the Israeli government that is now just the expression of Likudist extremism. There is no basis for their position regarding territoriality, and their position is too expensive in terms of human lives for the rest of us to keep paying. Much of the animus contributing to armed conflict in the Middle East and Afghanistan is inflamed by the assertion that some divine mandate entitles Israel to do whatever it wishes on Palestinian land. The Palestinians were there before they were if one is to credit the Old Testament. Israel’s claim is not one of aboriginal tenure.
Would there be conflict there without the divine right claim? Assume that there would be. So what? It is made worse when inflammatory claims are made of divine ordination.
Anyone with a sincere interest in attaining détente will find frustration. I am such a cynic that I feel Netanyahu may get his way and derail the accomplishment of anything positive. It simply cannot be left in his hands.
Many interests adverse to partition have for years fanned the flames and obstructed partition and the establishment of a Palestinian state. This has been done to further the agenda of allowing hostile Islamic interests to use the Palestinians and their cause as surrogate warriors, and supported by many who have profited mightily from the conflict. There is no acceptable logic in support of failing to act as I have recommended and to act immediately.
The economic circumstances of the world today provide an ideal climate for everyone to start reducing the fights that require so much of our resources on military activity. We have to start doing things that make enormous military commitments less necessary. This is one major step toward that goal.
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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