All about ideas…

Even foreign policy experts fail to get it right

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Mr. Haass’s arguments in the latest issue of Newsweek fail to note that most of the West Bank already is occupied by Israeli settlements, and more and more Palestinians each day are being killed or illegally pushed off their historic lands to accommodate the increased numbers of Israeli settlers.

According to the latest UN map, Israeli settlers have taken over nearly all of the West Bank. Already over 1 million Israelis live in the West Bank. The result of this illegal occupation is that only small, separate enclaves of Palestinians continue to exist. Those Palestinians who continue to live in the West Bank are unable to travel freely between towns, forbidden to use Israeli built roads and prevented by IDF controlled checkpoints from passing peacefully through Israeli settlements to towns where Palestinians can buy food and necessary supplies or obtain medical assistance or send their children to school.

So, how can a real two-state solution exist when Israel refuses to stop the building and remove its people? The IDF and Israeli police refuse to fight Israeli citizens to stop the illegal settlements or remove its citizens or prevent Israelis from terrorizing and killing Palestinians. Israeli law prevents the IDF from restraining Israeli citizens, regardless of the actions of the Israelis. Only Israeli police can, and, in most cases, it appears that they refuse to act.

Moreover, according to many sources, many – if not most – Gazans are refugees from the West Bank. People who lost their homes, families, and lands to Israeli incursion and illegal occupation.

Ever since Israel pulled down Israeli settlements and left Gaza, it has been blockaded by Israel, preventing most aid from coming in; preventing merchants and farmers from participating in regional, cross-border business; preventing the Gazans from accessing their bank accounts; and a whole host of other interdictions that kept life in Gaza at bare subsistence levels. The average worker in Gaza earns approximately $1/day, according to UN agency reports.

While I fully support Israel’s right to exist within its own UN sanctioned and authorized territory and it’s right to protect itself, what Israel has practiced and continues to practice against Palestinians, whether in the West Bank, in Israel, or in Gaza, is nothing less than apartheid.

Currently, the only way a two-state solution is possible is if the international community, using strong military force, pushes the Israelis out of the West Bank and creates a land link – an additional Palestinian territory – in southern Israel between the West Bank and Gaza so that the two areas actually become one state. However, I do not believe that the international community has the will or determination to actually force these changes on Israel.

Probably the best solution at this point is for everyone – Israeli and Palestinian – to become part of one secular state in which all people, regardless of ethic or religious background, receive equal justice under the law and can vote equally and travel at will. What may be best is to create one Union wherein the rights and opportunities of all people are honored and respected under the same law and justice system. Currently, Israelis are subject to the Israeli commonwealth justice system while Palestinians are subject to military law. Thus, Palestinians have no redress under the law.

However, I do not see Israel submitting to a single state solution, especially when they look at the demographic growth between Israelis and Palestinians. The birth rate amongst Palestinians, currently, is much higher than among Israelis…and Israel fears it. The Israeli government fears Israelis will become a minority in their own land and no longer control the power to make laws or determine the State’s destiny.

Beyond religion or color or ethnicity, it is controlling power – political power – which drives the worst of the human psyche.

Until such day as Israel chooses to treat Palestinians with the same justice under the same law statues and profoundly ends the Israeli belief that all of Palestine belongs only to Israelis, no solutions will be found.

Meanwhile, the radicalism of the Palestinians exponentially will grow as their repression increases and their lives become more and more unendurable. All of history shows that radical behavior, i.e. violence, grows under repression.

As all Israeli citizens should know from their own long history of repression, no nation or people can push another people into a ghetto, take away every means of self-support, refuse them justice, and not expect those repressed people to fight back with any and every means possible. One has only to look at the Polish Ghettos at the beginning of WWII to see how a repressed people fought back.

I do not support Hamas in any way, shape or form. It’s altogether refusal to recognize Israel as a legitimite State, according to UN resolution, is a pox on its house. It’s unwillingness to unite with the PA for the benefit of all Palestinians and to work for the benefit and success of all Palestinians has led the Palestinians down a dark path from which only Israeli bullets is the result. Nevertheless, I understand completely Palestinian support for Hamas. Who else in the world dares to fight for the rights of the Palestinian people? Who else in the world stands before the world to say Palestinians deserve equal treatment and respect under the law?

However, Palestinians must reject the destructive philosophy of Hamas and the corruption of the PA to forge a new future for themselves: one that focuses international community examination of the extreme wrongs done them and cultivates international support for their cause.

The only faint, barely flickering, light in this miserable morass are the few, brave Israelis – who recognize the injustice of the Israeli government towards Palestinians, the miserable failure of their leaders, and who work for change – and the unknown numbers of Palestinians who only want to live in peace with Israel, recognize the utterly miserable failure of their leaders, and work for change.

These few voices must be must be recognized, hailed and encouraged, for it is only they who will end the circle of violence and put an end to the Killing Fields.

Thus, Richard Haass is wrong to believe that simply designating a two-state solution will resolve the conflict. His belief system, quite simply, does not take the realities on the ground into account. It is, by far, too ideology and not grounded in reality as exists now.

The only way for a two-state solution to work is for Israel to accept the territorial primacy of a Palestine state in which all citizens, whether Palestinian or Jew, were subject to and gave primacy to the Palestinian state. In that case, Israel would have to take a hands-off acceptance of Palestine as an independent government – a foreign country – in which it was legally bound by international conventions from interfering. And that Israel will never do.


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