Friday, August 13, 2004
Politics vs Reality
Why is the Israeli-Palestinian issue seen as a political issue only? Why do UN resolutions against Israel make so many people defensive, as if somehow Israel and the US must explain themselves in the face of an onslaught of obvious one sidedness and unfairness?
The Israel-Palestine issue is unique, in many ways. When other issues of territorial disputes are addressed, the object of mediation is to restore those rights violated. Tibet, Kashmir, Sakalin Islands and myriad of other disputed territories are matters of real estate, no more and no less.
The Israel-Palestine issue is different. Israel has accepted the rights of Palestinians to establish their own state. Be that as it may, radical and not so radical voices in the Palestinian and Arab secular and religious communities call for Israel's destruction as a state and in many cases, have called for the destruction of a people-- some sooner, some later. Somehow, this has become an acceptable political viewpoint, subject to legitimate debate in the UN and other forums.
The Israelis agree to a two state solution. Not all may like the idea given the current climate of violence, but they all agree that a peaceful situation would go a long way in making that two state solution work. Israelis go into negotiations with the Palestinians with the understanding their citizens want a peaceful solution.
Palestinians on the other hand, have never given such a mandate to their 'leaders'. Just the opposite, actually. Every Palestinian negotiating position that might lead to a peaceful settlement with the Israelis is met with resistance. Mass demonstrations and charges of treason are everyday events. Calls demanding their resignation are de riguer events. There is no peace movement, demanding a resolution of the conflict among the Palestinians. There are moderate voices among the Palestinians but their voices are repressed by Islamist groups and hard line exterminationists.
That is the reality.
Palestinian society is fragmented and is distintegrating. With whom shall the Israelis negotiate? Who, if anyone, really speaks for the Palestininans? What guarantee do the Israelis have that an agreed to peace settlement would be honored by a new regime? Why shouldn't the Israelis wait to see who comes out on top? They have nothing to gain by entering into negotiations now.
Arafat's influence has been replaced by hard line Islamists. Decades of corruption and failure to produce 'results' have relegated him to a pitied figurehead. He has cost the Palestinians decades of progress and at least one more generation to clean up the mess he has left behind. An infrastructure, built by the Israelis, lies in ruins because of his need to be a visible hero in the here and now. Arafat and his minions did not want to deal with the real issues and difficulties of leadership and have to be accountable for mail service, trash collection and sewer upkeep-- not to mention fiscal accountability, an idea the old thief could never comes to terms with. Arafat is a communist from way back, supported by the Kremlin. He wouldn't give up anything without a fight. Old school in a new world.
Like Arab leaders in the region, he is greedy, ruthless and corrupt and incompetent.
It wasn't hard for the Islamists to step in and gain influence by providing services to the population he should have been looking out for.
The peace process, such as it is, has become irrelevant. The Islamists now speak for many, if not most, of the Palestinians. The Israelis cannot be expected to negotiate with groups that call for her elimination as a state or worse. Supported by the Saudis, Iran and others, the Islamists have effectively insured a no peace/no Palestinian state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Hamas will use the lull to rearm. They've done so in the past and they'll do so now.
Until the Islamists are eliminated-- either by Israel or the Palestinians themselves, there will be no Palestinian state. Until a generation of Palestinian schools are reformed and children are not taught the 'merits' of jihad and vicious hatred of Israel and Jews, there will not be a Palestinian state. Until the Friday mosque sermons do not end with the call of 'Itbach al Yahudi!'-- 'Slaughter the Jews!', there will not be a Palestinian state.
Nothing I've said is unknown or new. These are all 'hard facts'. There is nothing the UN, EU and the left can do change reality.
There is no better argument than the 'hard facts' to anyone who questions Israeli or US policies in the region.