Hope for Talks in Middle East Lies in Recognition That Israel Can Not Be Pushed
The recent exchange of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for a thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli hands is regarded as a cautiously hopeful sign even by Israeli hawks, as it appears the only possible de-escalation from the absolute collapse of the peace process that was almost implicit in the Palestinian bid for full membership as a state in the United Nations. The Israeli Right was fiercely opposed to Palestinian statehood from 1948 until relatively recently, when it realized that the Palestinians could not be induced to leave territory Israel occupied after the 1967 war; could not be physically expelled, because neither domestic nor international opinion would tolerate such an outrage; and could not be assimilated, both because of natural Arab resistance, and because of the danger of Israel’s ceasing to be a Jewish state and homeland, which has always been its only raison d’être. (There were Israeli bi-nationalists, jolly progressives who wanted to share; Canaanites, i.e. complete secularists; and territorialists who had wispy dreams of settling in Uganda or Ethiopia — but none of them ever had any grasp of reality.)
In 1917, in the desperate days of World War I, British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour promised “a Jewish homeland” in what was called, resurrecting Roman terminology, Palestine. In the same declaration, it was assured that this would not compromise the rights of the Muslim and Christian Arabs in the same and adjoining territory. As Britain was selling the same real estate to two different and hostile parties, before it was itself in possession of it, there was never going to be a solution that didn’t divide it in two. Nor has there been.
Apart from Anwar Sadat and the kings of Morocco and a few relatively enlightened people in the Persian Gulf, no Arab leader has really accepted the legitimacy of the Jewish state, despite promises at Oslo and elsewhere, and this was confirmed by Mahmoud Abbas in his address to the U.N. a few weeks ago. Every agreement except the Sinai-Suez Camp David agreement with Sadat (who was rewarded with assassination by the Muslim Brotherhood, now contending with the military for control in Egypt) has been designed to exploit Israel’s desire for peace with promises of what amounted to a truce, in exchange for concessions on the ground by Israel. And a vast swath of world opinion, partly thirsting for Arab oil, has cravenly accepted this protracted Arab confidence trick: land for a truce that is cancelable without notice.Actually, this is a disservice. Read the full article and learn something.
Well, that's what I have to say.
Stephen M. Flatow
Alisa kfar darom terrorism