An elusive Palestinian peace
By Alan Caruba
The most vexatious aspect of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the refusal of any Arab nation to provide any help whatever in resolving it. By dint of wars declared upon it, the Israelis became the unwilling "occupiers" of land on which dwelt three million Arabs who came, in time, to be called Palestinians. The land, Gaza and the West Bank, and the people who lived on it previously had been part of Egypt and Jordan.
Anyone who has followed the long, torturous road to peace the Israelis sought from the Palestinians knows that, under the grip of Yasser Arafat, that goal was never going to be achieved. Now we are expected to believe that his longtime second in command, Mahmoud Abbas, will get Palestinians to abandon the destruction the Israel as their only goal in life. It is the worst kept secret in Palestine and Israel that Abbas has virtually no constituency or power to influence events and, in particular, Hamas.
The destruction of Israel has been the sine qua non of Arab excuses. All the problems endemic to Arab culture, society, economies, and governments are blamed on the presence of Israel. If Arab nations were to actually acknowledge the sovereignty of Israel, they would lose the one issue with which to divert Arabs from the primary reason -- radical Islam -- they remain impoverished and oppressed.
So, when you read that Hamas wants to participate in Palestinian parliament races or that Hezbollah wants to do the same in Lebanon, one must ask whether radical Islam can sanction secular governments and the answer to that is no. Radical Islam does not permit for a separation of mosque and state.
The next question is whether ordinary Arabs will find ways around that? Will they, in a desire for real peace and stability, opt finally for democracy? There is some indication in Iraq and Afghanistan this is possible.
Ironically, Arab Israelis have had the right to vote since that nation's independence in 1948. Arab Israelis have died along side Jewish citizens during the Infitada that tiny nation has endured. Arab Israelis even serve in Israel's military. And Arab Israelis hold office in the Knesset.
It is well to recall that half of Israel's Jewish population fled there to escape persecution and death in Arab nations. By contrast, after it declared independence, Arabs that lived in Israel were encouraged to flee by fellow Arabs with promises they would return in the wake of an Arab victory. Today they are the oldest group of refugees extant in the world!
Still, the reality is that there are three million Palestinians the Israelis do not want to rule and whose land, Gaza and the West Bank, they do not want to occupy.
Jews have lived in Israel since they accepted the Covenant, well over three thousand years ago. Indeed, Jews have lived throughout the Middle East for millennia. In Egypt's Alexandria, there was a large Jewish community centuries before either Jesus or Mohammed. Jews had lived in Iraq had since the days of Babylonian captivity. Indeed, there is hardly a Middle Eastern nation where they have not lived.
As this is being written, there is much tumult and dissention among Israelis regarding Ariel Sharon's efforts to abandon settlements surrounded by Arabs. Those settlements were initially created to establish the de facto existence of the Israeli's right to live where Jews had lived for millennia. The settlers are being asked to pay the price for Sharon's effort to find peace with Arabs whose sole objective has been Israel's destruction. Middle East expert, Daniel Pipes, calls the forced removal of 8,000 Israelis from their homes in Gaza "an act of monumental political folly" citing the way Arabs interpret such actions as weakness and an invitation to attack.
Even now, the Israelis are anticipating a renewed Palestinian offensive in the fall of 2005. Their military anticipates that fighting will begin as early as September 2005 when the Israeli army withdraws from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank.
The Israelis want peace with the Palestinians. The United States has striven through successive administrations to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is a bold gamble, but one filled with risk. We shall now watch as the Israelis again roll the dice again to see if peace is achievable. To this observer, the answer remains no.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly commentary, "Warning Signs", posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba 2005
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