I read a LOT. I read news websites, newspapers, magazines, blogs, columns, and fiction, too.
I’m a reasonably smart, well-educated guy.
Sometimes, when I read things published in the media, I have to stop and scratch my head and wonder “Huh?”.
That’s been the case for quite a while now, in general, when it comes to “The Peace Process” in the Middle East.
There have been Oslo accords, Annapolis talks, and who remembers already what else.
The basic premise of most of these talks, boiled down to their essence, is that Israel wants peace with their neighbors and is willing to discuss terms, and is willing to both give up land and money to a new Palestinian state.
Putting the history aside for a moment, since we can’t change it (oh wait, the revisionists are already doing that!), let’s talk about potential outcomes.
Israel has proven twice now that they are willing to vacate land in exchange for peace – once with Egypt, and once with Gaza. In addition, they have withdrawn forces from large swaths of land in the West Bank.
Israel essentially wants to be in a state of non-war, no terrorist attacks against her civilians, and hopefully, economic ties with her neighbors. They also want to keep their identity as a Jewish country. So far, so good, right?
There are a few more things that are important, given today’s realities. Israel would prefer not to have to evacuate all the people who took up residence in new communities beyond the 1967 borders, especially those just over the “Green Line” and in the “bedroom communities” of Jerusalem.
It’s important to note that most of these were built on vacant land, not on land occupied by anyone.
Israel also wants to maintain her historic, religious ties to Jewish holy sites, including the citty of Jerusalem, the Western Wall, and a variety of shrines and other holy sites.
The Palestinians, on the other side, depending on who you talk to, want either a state in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem, or, they want a state in ALL of what is now Israel. Take a look sometime at the maps published on official Palestinian websites – they don’t show just part of the land, they show all of it, including Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, and all points in between.
They want their capitol to be in Jerusalem, and they want any Jews living in Arab areas to just disappear.
In fact, it seems as if they will not allow any Jews to live in the new state of Palestine, which seems somewhat discriminatory to me, but ok, frankly, I wouldn’t want to live there anyway.
It seems fair to me that if a new Palestinian state can be “Judenrein”, a Jewish state should be “Palestinianrein”, although as far as I know, there aren’t many Israelis advocating a new population exchange such as occurred between Pakistan and India in the 1940’s. But really, why not?
So, back to the logic.
Israel has proven over time that they are willing to negotiate, to discuss, to make concrete proposals.
Time after time, the Palestinians, first under Yasser Arafat, now under Mahmoud Abbas, refuse, saying “You have to give me more”.
But, there is no compromise evident from the Palestinian side.
People (the media, liberals, Europe, etc.) say that they’re the underdog, oppressed by “The Jews” (which is different than “The Israelis”), and that Israel has an obligation to help them up.
Where is the opprobrium against the treatment of the Palestinians by their Arab “brothers”, who keep them in refugee camps on their borders (e.g. Lebanon and Jordan)?
Where is the criticism of the residents of Gaza, who after Israel withdrew ALL her forces and evacuated ALL the Jewish residents of Gaza, began lobbing mortars and shooting thousands of rockets at Israel?
From my perspective, I don’t understand what it is the world expects from Israel.
Some say “Don’t build in existing settlements because it might upset the Palestinians”. Some say “Don’t build in Jerusalem”. Some say “Don’t respond with “Disproportionate” force against people shooting rockets at you”.
My question is “what exactly is Israel supposed to do?”. What can they do that will make the world happy?
They’ve already offered land for peace and gotten their noses bloodied as a result. They’ve actually given up land for peace and gotten rockets.
What’s their incentive to continue negotiating?
Now, the American president is telling Israel that it’s all their fault.
Perhaps Israel should just return the West Bank to Jordan (who took it illegally in 1948 anyway) and return Gaza to Egypt and let the Arab world worry about the Palestinians.
The Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capitol, based on some vague, historical claim. I still don’t understand what that claim is (and I have a degree in Middle Eastern Studies and lived in the region for many years). What claim do they have?
Israel, on the other hand, can show a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem for thousands of years, including kingdoms and countries.
Again, I just don’t get the lack of logic.