Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Palestine II

A new person, Shafiq, entered into the discussion on Palestine last week. In his last comment he posted this link to an interesting article. I'd like to discuss this article. One of the things that I find difficult is sifting through the news. Is it even possible to find unbiased news?

Also, a two state solution seems impossible at this point. There are too many Jewish settlers in the West Bank. In order for the West Bank to become the Palestinian state, those settlers would all have to leave because the Palestinians do not want them there.

Do any of you have any ideas of a solution to the problems in Palestine? Personally, and all fairness aside, I wonder if it wouldn't be better for Israel to just end this by taking over completely. Is that naive?

23 comments:

paul mitchell said...

The solution is simple, give the "Palestinians" the entire continent of Asia and let them make the Joooooos! leave.

Susanne said...

What exactly do you mean by Israel should just "end this"? You think the Palestinians will suddenly become peaceful when they see the whole area has been lost to them?

I read the article Shafiq linked for us. It reminded me of what I've heard AMERICANS who've lived in the West Bank say about them. They are often some of the most unruly, unpleasant, unkind and arrogant people often with a sense of entitlement. In the book I read last year, the author wrote that often the Israeli soldiers don't care for the settlers because the settlers believe they are above the law. I'm pretty sure that was in the "Victory for us is to see you suffer" book I blogged about. That was a UN worker who shared experiences that he had while living in the WB. I have personal American friends there who could give you more insight to the settlers perhaps. Not all of them are bad, I'm sure, but some of them are the types who take the Palestinian farms and produce as their own. So basically they are thieves.

Here is what an American pastor wrote about the settlers last year as she lived in Palestine for a few weeks. She kept a blog of her time there. I found this interesting.

http://patwoods.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/settlers/

Coffee Bean said...

Hi Susanne,

I mean exactly that... but, hear me out. No, I don't think the Palestinians will suddenly become peaceful. I am just playing Devil's Advocate here. When you look at the changes in borders from a historical perspective you see that almost all land was taken from some other group/clan/tribe at some point. I'm not saying that that makes it right. It doesn't. It is just the way that it is. Those with the power rule. I have wondered if the reason this has continued on is because Israel hasn't just taken over/totally conquered all of Palestine. Do you see what I mean?

It just seems to me that at some point someone would have said, "Look, we aren't going to win here, not this way. Let's step back and re-evaluate. Let's protect our families. Let's figure out how best we can look after the needs of the Palestinian people to ensure quality of life and move forward."

I know that is overly simplistic. I just do not see where the Palestinians have the power to win. Believe me when I say my heart breaks for those people!

Susanne said...

Coffee Bean, OK, I understand what you mean, however, if they choose to go that route, do you agree they should fight for their civil rights such as the black people did here in America? Israel should make them equal to Jewish people and give them the right to vote and all that good stuff that we cherish here in the West?

We always say how Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East blah, blah, blah, but it seems they do not wish for the Palestinians to have certain rights. The Arabs reproduce at much faster rates than the Jews (they don't want to die off like the "red Indians" here in America) so the Israelis know in a few years, the Arab population (and vote) will be greater.

So I foresee in your scenario, that the Israelis will try to keep the Arabs as second-class citizens much like racists here would like to see happen to non-whites.

I wish I were wrong about that and *hopefully* I am, but from words I read and actions I see from the Israeli gov't, I don't think I am far off on my thoughts.

So Israel should take control over the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians agree to it in theory in order to protect their families and thus begins the era of civil rights fights like we had here in the USA.

Sound good?

Coffee Bean said...

Actually, no, not if you are looking at it from the perspective of segregation and how things were before things changed. However, our country has come a long way since then.

I don't know. I just think that this situation needs to be looked at realistically and the truth is that reality is harsh. The Palestinians simply do not have the power they need... at this time.

Louai said...

Me again !!

For the Palestine we have two small problems that who represent them in order to achieve any peaceful future ,and then Do the Arab accept that ,I mean if the Palestinian accept that Israel will take their land ,do the Arab accept to loose their third holy mosque and one of the oldest Islamic sites ?

For me ,we don't have any answer, Niether Arabs nor Muslims agree on one party to represent them in any discussion with Israel as well as the Palestinian them self not better than their brothers behind the borders in the Middle East and north Africa !

Samer said...

Coffee Bean, thank you for your interest about this topic and for continuing to post about it. You said,"The Palestinians simply do not have the power they need." Yes that is so true and I have never believed the Palestinians can overcome the Israeli occupation alone. I have always believed their cause is an Arab cause and all Arabs have a duty to help the Palestinians' struggle for freedom.

The solution is simple. We as Arabs have to fight our corrupt dictators who are supported by Western governments to keep our Arab countries divided and weak and unable to face Israel. If we have the will to fight for our freedom and get rid of our dictators, we can unite and form one entity that can effectively face and challenge Israel and only in that case, the Israelis will not have any choice but to give the Palestinians all of their land back.

Shafiq said...

Hi everyone,

In my opinion, there are four realistic options left:

a) The entire Israel/Palestine area becoming Israel, where some of the Palestinians live and the rest expelled. This is what many of the settlers are hoping will happen but there's no way the rest of the world will allow it (well, I hope not).

b) Netanyahu's recent proposal where Israel exists as it is today plus all of the settlements that are close to Israel and all of Jerusalem, and Palestine exists as a vassal state (no military, Israeli control of airspace and sea, and a crippled economy because there isn't enough land). This proposal is supported by influential pro-Israel figures in both the US and in Israel.

c) A two-state solution based on 1967 borders. Israel gets to keep the closest settlements and gives land of equal area to the Palestinians. Jerusalem is either divided or kept as an international zone. Settlements far from the Israeli border will have to either be removed or the settlers can stay there as Palestinian citizens. This one is supported by most people.

d) The final proposal is a bi-national state - called Canaan maybe. A secular, democratic state for both Jews and Palestinians; Hebrew and Arabic taught at schools; mutual understanding etc. This proposal has great traction amongst foreign peace activists but extremely unpopular with Israelis and not too highly looked upon by Palestinians either.

Please tell me what you think.

Coffee Bean said...

Hi Louai,

It really is a sad situation. Do you know that saying, "A house divided against itself shall not stand"? It seems to me that the biggest problem among the Arab population is that y'all are so divided. There needs to be some sort of unity in order for the Palestinians to be able to move forward. They just do not have the leadership or the money to do it. There is the whole issue of economics too... Would the Palestinians even have the resources they need to function as a state?

Samer,

There needs to be a leader and a united following in order for that to happen. What happens until one such person and group materializes?

Shafiq,

I've written what I think of the four options you gave beneath each of them.

"a) The entire Israel/Palestine area becoming Israel, where some of the Palestinians live and the rest expelled. This is what many of the settlers are hoping will happen but there's no way the rest of the world will allow it (well, I hope not)."

I really do wonder if this option is what needs to happen. You are right though... I don't think the rest of the world would allow it.

"b) Netanyahu's recent proposal where Israel exists as it is today plus all of the settlements that are close to Israel and all of Jerusalem, and Palestine exists as a vassal state (no military, Israeli control of airspace and sea, and a crippled economy because there isn't enough land). This proposal is supported by influential pro-Israel figures in both the US and in Israel."

I really don't see much difference between this option and option a... it just gives the appearance of the Palestinians getting something out of the deal.

"c) A two-state solution based on 1967 borders. Israel gets to keep the closest settlements and gives land of equal area to the Palestinians. Jerusalem is either divided or kept as an international zone. Settlements far from the Israeli border will have to either be removed or the settlers can stay there as Palestinian citizens. This one is supported by most people."

This option seems the most fair. However, it doesn't seem to me that the Palestinians are united enough to govern their own state. That has been a problem since Britain pulled out in 1947.

"d) The final proposal is a bi-national state - called Canaan maybe. A secular, democratic state for both Jews and Palestinians; Hebrew and Arabic taught at schools; mutual understanding etc. This proposal has great traction amongst foreign peace activists but extremely unpopular with Israelis and not too highly looked upon by Palestinians either."

Personally, I like this option. It can't work without full agreement from both sides though.

One Salient Oversight said...

Any solution to the problem must recognise two basic issues:

1) Israel's right to exist.

2) The Palestinian people's right to a homeland and compensation.

I think a "one state solution" is possible over the long term (30-40 years).

Sectarian divisions in Australia during the first half of the 20th century caused violence between Catholics and Protestants. After WW2, however, those divisions vanished over time and today there is no Catholic/Protestant issue. Similarly, it can be argued that even the deadly hatred that exists now between Palestinians and Israelis can be removed over time.

A one-state solution would result in Palestinian areas (West Bank, Gaza) becoming part of the sovereign state of Israel. In return, Palestinians would become citizens of the state of Israel and have voting rights and the right to elect whomever they wish into the Parliament of Israel. Thus the expanded Israel would become the "homeland" of the Palestinians.

Israelis and Palestinians would be granted the right to live anywhere within the expanded state of Israel (according to local zoning laws of course)

The "Right of Return" will still exist, allowing Jews from anywhere around the globe to become Israeli citizens.

Of course the one-state solution can only work once violence between the two sides subsides over the long term. It is essential therefore for proponents of peace to invest in Palestinian infrastructure and businesses and help drive their economy out of poverty. Palestinians will not accept the one-state solution unless there is some tangible, substantial benefit for them. Similarly, if Palestinians refuse to accept Israel's right to exist then a one-state model will be unworkable.

Joni said...

One Salient Oversight:
One question - why does Israel have a right to exist?

Coffee Bean said...

Interesting question Joni...

What gives Israel the right to exist?

What gives any country or group of people the right to exist?

What does existing require?

Just taking that question and applying it to Israel you also must apply it to the Palestinians. What does maintaining a state or country require?

It requires sustainability which includes being able to defend itself. Look at world history!

Israel has the right to exist because it can.

paul mitchell said...

But, let's check in on what the Left in our country says about the Jews, okay? Because these are the supporters of the "Palestinians."

http://tinyurl.com/mbzc4z

Joni said...

Oh and Salient, I wasn't being accusative. Just genuinely trying to understand that idea as I learn about the issues.

Shafiq said...

CoffeeBean,

I was thinking about putting (a) and (b) together but then I decided against it. You are right though, they're both variations of the same solution.

As for your statement about the Palestinians being divided, that is true. It's ironic that Israel (in the 1970s) gave Hamas financial aid and actively helped them to grow, as a means of undermining the PLO. My hope is that the Palestinians can unite under Mustafa Barghouti, who is a accepted by both sides and whose following is increasing both in the US and in Palestine.


Joni,

The best argument for Israel's right to exist, is the fact that it does exist. I do think Israel's creation was immoral (seeing as a state is declared without the permission of its inhabitants) but attempting to get rid of it would be just as immoral, if not worse.

Samer,

I disagree with you when you say this is an Arab problem. With hindsight, I'd say Arab leaders (maybe not their populations) have done more to hurt the Palestinian cause than aid it. How many have used the Palestinians to deflect attention from their own abuses of power? How many went to war with Israel only for them to lose and the Palestinians suffer the consequences? Arabs do have a part to play in the peace process, but this is primarily a conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Paul,

I'd say that there are as many right-wing supporters of Palestine as there are left-wing ones. And they're not old-fashioned anti-Semites, they just care about the Palestinians.

paul mitchell said...

Shafiq, not to discredit everything that you have stated up to this point, but when you take the argument of left v. right to any issue, you must understand that there is only one accurate way to discern between the two. On the left side, ultimately, you have people that believe the total of humanity is one big homogeneous mass of humans, no one has any rights save for the entire mass of humanity as a whole. On the right, there exists only the ideology of individualism which contradicts that ANY group exists.

So, if you take the philosophical viewpoint that there exists gray areas in this world, which is incorrect on any level, you have to choose where the sliding scale stops. In your mass of humanity scenario, how do you determine that anyone can move the chains of any "country" line ever. This is a conundrum that is unsolvable for even the most intelligent person because it is subjective by definition.

Chew on that for a while and get back to me.

Louai said...

Despite the fact that Israel is a new country as well as all Arab countries, we dont have a country called Lebanon from 80 year ,we dont have Libya from 100 year ,we Dont have Algeria,Tunisia or even Syria;moreover when any Historian mention Syria he/she should say that Original Syria is not the current one !
So am totally agree with Coffee Bean that Israel Can exist not a matter if it has the right or no .

Shafiq,
Well ,I dont agree with you in terms of Arabs and their role in Palestine.
In Syria for instance Palestinian people still have a great wing in the Syrian army with about 50,000 soldiers ready to fight in any time,and they call them self :The freedom for Palestine army ,well my idea is not about military or soldiers or numbers because Arabs will loose any future war,DEFINITELY,its at least -theoretical- can give you an idea that Arabs still exist in any future debate in war or peace!
Dont forget that in Lebanon ,Syria and Jordan ,alone, there are more Palestinian in terms of population than what they have in West bank and Gaza; Regardless the good will I assume that they need one day to send them back to their original country specially from Lebanon !

One Salient Oversight,
Regarding the one state ,if we are looking at the situation right now,I think your view is somehow like the Utopian city !
Like what Susanne said about the population; Israel will suddenly find itself surrounded by Millions of Palestinian want to back to their country, Does Israel accept that ?
Hmmmm,I dont think so !

One Salient Oversight said...

Joni,

Excuse the lateness of my reply - I live on the other side of the world (Australia) so oftentimes my commenting is not in sync with the U.S.

Why do I argue that Israel has the right to exist?

1) Because it is the belief of many Arabs and Palestinians that Israel should not exist. The wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973 between Israel and its neighbours was motivated by this belief. For a solution to be found and for peace to permanent, both sides need to bend over backwards. For the Palestinians, it is an acceptance that Israel exists.

2) It is pragmatic. In hindsight, the 1948 creation of Israel was a huge mistake. It should NOT have happened. Nevertheless, too much time has passed and too much "water under the bridge" has flowed to reverse that action. Israel has millions of people who were born within its borders and who have lived there for many decades. Moreover, Israel is too well armed to even seriously consider national dissolution. I'm pragmatic in my values - I don't want too many people to die, and that includes Israelis.

One Salient Oversight said...

Louai,

I'm anything but a believer in a utopian society. Nevertheless I do believe that hatred can be reversed over time and that former foes can become friends.

The evidence is there in history. Who invaded France during WW2? Nazi Germany. Are the two nations still smouldering enemies? Hardly. Northern Ireland was seen as intractable during the 1970s and 1980s but both Catholics and Protestants worked hard to create the truce that exists now - and the (official) IRA is no longer murdering people or blowing things up.

One of the best pieces of evidence is the relationship between Egypt and Israel. The Camp David Accords (one of Jimmy Carter's few triumphs) has created long term peace between the two nations. Israel eventually gave the entire Sinai peninsula back to Egypt and Egypt has not used this to launch formal or guerilla attacks into Southern Israel. Moreover, Egypt officially recognises the existence of Israel. The Camp David accords, more than anything else in their short history, have enhanced Israel's security and ensured that no neighbouring Arab country has invaded since 1973 (Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt).

The idea of Arabs and Israelis working side by side to build a common country is not a utopian ideal - it is achievable over the long term. As I pointed out, sectarian differences in Australia between Catholics and Protestants was the norm in pre-WW2 years. Anyone at the time who said that these problems would be solved and that Catholics and Protestants would work together to build Australia would've been accused of utopian thinking. The reality is, however, that catholic/protestant sectarianism has all but disappeared in Australia. And that's a good thing. And we're hardly a utopia.

Shafiq said...

Paul,
Sorry but your second paragraph just went straight over my head. What do you mean by:
how do you determine that anyone can move the chains of any "country" line ever.

Louai,
My question is, how exactly can the Arabs help the Palestinians in a way that non-Arabs can't?

One Salient Oversight,
I agree with pretty much everything you've said.

Louai said...

One Salient Oversight,

Thanks for your reply !

"The Camp David Accords one of Jimmy Carter's few triumphs " Its actually a Western point of view,Arabs still refuse to accept it ,And dont forget that Egyption president paid his life for this peace that still not regonise by all the parties in Egypt except the leader party (from more than 30 years with the same president), they still promise will deny it as soon as they reach to the leadership!

"There are no conflict after the peace with Egypt" but if you read the following I dont think anyone can say :no conflict at that period,Besides, no available troops and Arabs lost the balance!:

-1975-1990 Lebanon war (Syria,Iraq and some how Saudi were part of it).
-1982 Syria Vs Israel in Lebanon and lost two of its special units and 90% of its air force,god only knows how many soldiers Syria lost their!
-80s Iraq Vs Iran (Syria Supports Iran ,other Arabs support Iraq).
-1990 Iraq Vs Kuwait (Syria ,Saudi and Egypt joined the allied for free Kuwait)
and so on so forth!!
After all, do you think Arabs can do still think all the above conflicts will allow Arabs to enter in any new conflict at that period!??

Louai said...

Shafiq,

Your question is soo clever !

I admit i cant ansewer it in a sense that this colfict between country to country !
After about 60 years of Israel ,I am convinced that its never been an independent or a piece of land !
To me its an Ideological conflict,it wasn't and isn't between Palestine and Israel but rather between Arabs and Zionists!

Again: this is my views, I don't know if any will share the same!

One Salient Oversight said...

Louai,

I was referring to no conflict between Arab nations on one side and Israel on the other.

The 1956, 1967 and 1973 wars were official wars. Arab nations mobilised their (Soviet supplied) military forces to attack the military forces of Israel.

Since the Camp David Accords, no Arab nation has used their military to attack Israel at the same scale as an all-out war. The military forces of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq have not attempted a large scale invasion since 1973.

Of course there has been inter-Arab fighting, and the Syria-Israel conflict in 1982 was due to Israel going into (invading) Syrian-controlled Lebanon.