Monday, February 9, 2009

A Palestinian and an Israeli Debate...And Create a New Idea for Lasting Peace

I submitted this op-ed to 10 major media outlets. It was rejected by all 10.

A Palestinian: You claim this land is your land because the Bible says so. Is that the basis on which my family, which owned land here long before the Jews took over in 1948 should be kicked off our land or allowed to live here only under occupation, disproportionate attacks, blockades, and military checkpoints?

An Israeli: Israel's small minority of religious people use the Bible to claim that Israel is the Jews' land, just as the Koran's prescriptions govern Islamic behavior. But beyond that small minority of Israelis, most Jews are secular and believe Israel should be theirs because of their extraordinary need for a safe homeland: For two thousand years, the Jews have been the target of extraordinary persecution: from their destruction by the Romans to the Inquisition to the Pogroms, and of course, the Holocaust. Indeed, it was in recognition of the Jews' need for a homeland that motivated the United Nations to give the Jews that tiny sliver of desert land.

A Palestinian: But that didn't give you the right to treat us as second-class citizens and then, when you developed a military, to be so aggressive to us. Look--in 1967, Israel invaded Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights and took it over--those were not part of the land the UN gave you.

An Israeli: Remember, in 1967, Egypt's, Jordan's, and Syria's military mounted a massive force at the Israeli border and there were calls to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, complete destruction. Would you have done nothing? So, Israel responded.

A Palestinian: But you didn't just preempt and attack. You took over our land: Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights.

An Israeli: If you were a tiny country surrounded by enemies sworn to your destruction, and in the war to defeat them you took small bits of land that would provide a buffer against future attacks, isn't that fair?

A Palestinian: No. First of all, you didn't just take buffer land. You took more. And you then treat the residents like second-class citizens.

An Israeli: As you know, all Israelis, Arab and Jew alike all have equal rights: to education, to vote and so on.

A Palestinian: That's not fair. You know there are countless ways in which Israeli Jews treat Israeli Arabs and Palestinians like second-class citizens.

An Israeli: If, de facto we treat Arabs less well, it is because while we Israelis have built a modern democracy--with equal rights for women, a tremendous prioritization of education, creating world-class scientists who can cure diseases, many of the Arab and Palestinian people are more interested in keeping things pretty much like they were in the 7th century.

A Palestinian: That's both an unfair generalization and very judgmental of you--Who is to say whether your version of society is a better way of life? Look at all your immoral behavior, your shallow materialism? What are you so proud of--that you brought Dunkin' Donuts and Burger King to Israel?

An Israeli: Dunkin' Donuts and Burger King are not core to the difference between the Israeli vision and the Arab/Palestinian vision. Yes, Israel believes that its vision is better, yes better, for humanity. And because we disagree about that, that's why we, like you, believe the only answer is a two-state solution--two separate countries with two separate sets of values.

A Palestinian: I do not believe that, long-term, such different people can live side-by-side in peace.

An Israeli: Candidly, I agree with you, especially because the surrounding countries are all Arab, with such long-standing antipathy toward Israel and the Jews, especially the powerful radical elements: Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda, and of course Hamas, the terrorists your people elected, all of which call for the destruction of Israel, wiping it off the face of the earth.

A Palestinian: If you got out of the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem, and gave the displaced Palestinians and their descendants the right of return, then I think even the radical elements would agree to peace.

An Israeli: I strongly doubt it. Remember, in 2000, President Clinton brokered a deal in which Israel offered the Palestinians virtually everything they asked for, yet Arafat, the Palestinian leader, walked away. In 2005, Israel left Gaza; every single Jew left, as an olive branch. What is Israel getting as a thank-you present? Rockets, an ever increasing number of rockets--more than 8,000. The entire Israeli town of Sderot has been obliterated. And now, Iran is giving you longer-range missiles that are hitting our big cities of Ashkelon and Beersheba.

A Palestinian: But look what you did--so disproportionate. You have destroyed Gaza, killing so many more innocent Palestinians with your attacks.

An Israeli: When you deliberately embed your terrorists and rocket-launching installations in residential neighborhoods to deter Israel from attacking them--that's a war crime--what do you expect? Is it disproportionate for Israel to do everything possible to protect the million Israelis currently under threat of attack, and countless more with Iran putting finishing touches on a nuclear weapon and Iran's president Ahmenijad, like Hamas, committed to destroying Israel?

A Palestinian: You're right. Israel and Palestine cannot exist side by side.

An Israeli: So, if they can't, either Israel or Palestine must be moved somewhere else.

A Palestinian: Right. Because the surrounding peoples are less likely to attack Palestinians than to attack Jews, I'd argue that it's Israel that needs to be moved.

An Israeli: As you know, some of the most passionate Jews in the Palestinian/Israeli dispute claim Israel is the Jews' birthright because it says so in the Bible.

A Palestinian: There are trade-offs in any agreement. For the Jews to have a homeland where they can, long-term, live in peace without a massive military, they will have to move elsewhere. Remember, our Koran does, in many places, specifically call for the killing of the Jews. And our people contain many fundamentalists, likely to deeply believe in the Koran's orders.

An Israeli: A good point, my friend. Well then, the place where Jews are most likely to be accepted would be near a major Jewish population center in a Western democracy, for example, an Israel-sized sliver of the massive amount of low-cost undeveloped land an hour or two north of New York City.

A Palestinian: That could be New Israel. But how could the U.S. be convinced to donate it?

An Israeli: With the amount of money that the U.S. gives to Israel and the amount of money that Islamic countries and militant groups and other international groups give to support the Palestinians, there would be plenty of money to offer relocation assistance to Jews wishing to move to New Israel who couldn't afford to do so. But there are two million Jews in Israel. Many of them won't want to go to New Israel.

A Palestinian: They, of course, could stay, but they'd be living in a Palestinian state.

An Israeli: So all of Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights would go to the Palestinians. It would all be a Palestinian state?

A Palestinian: Yes.

An Israeli: Well, at least that way, the Palestinians would have the homeland they've long longed for, surrounded by their Arab brethren and with their Israeli enemy 6,000 miles away. And the Israelis would have a safe homeland next to millions of other Jews in the United States, with their enemies 6,000 miles away.

A Palestinian: And after the establishment of New Israel, all the money that currently goes to the military and rebuilding after the Israeli and Palestinian attacks, could go toward things more likely to benefit humanity.

An Israeli: So perhaps it wouldn't just be a pipedream that Israeli and Palestinian children could enjoy their childhood and aspire not to be soldiers or terrorists but doctors, teachers, and artists.

A Palestinian: It is time to replace jihad with jobs.

An Israeli: Hate with hope.

A Palestinian: And maybe even with love.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought you were done with these kind of posts...

How likely is it that extremist groups will be satisfied? What if they see the solution you've presented as American protecting Israel instead of giving the land back to Palestine? And since many of those groups also want to see America gone, this solution might not slow at least some of the extremists down.

Marty Nemko said...

First of all, Israel was not one of the topics I said I wouldn't write about. Second, this piece isn't a one-sided advocacy piece: I tried to make best-possible arguments on both the Palestinian and Israel side. Third, I submitted this piece to the major media 10 days ago, before I decided to try to restrain myself and focus away from unpopular policy positions. Now that it is clear no media outlets want to publish it, it seemed a shame to just delete it, so I posted it.

I am curious what constructive purpose is there in playing gotcha: "I thought you were done with these kinds of posts." I write this blog to encourage civic engagement and to be helpful. I derive absolutely no professional benefit. Indeed, I'm sure that, because so much of what I've written is unpopular, it hurts my professional career. And I derive not a penny from it--I deliberately accept no advertising, not even Google AdWords, because I want to make clear that this is about contributing to the marketplace of ideas, not about making money.

With regarding to extremist groups, there's no guarantee my proposal will please them all. But I believe the proposed two-state solution and the long road to getting there engenders a far greater probability of extremist killings.

There is no perfect solution, but from where I sit, New Israel offers the best chance. One guy's opinion.

Dave said...

I tried to make the case for a New Israel on another blog -- but in the Great Basin. However, given the strong cultural and historical ties to the Holy Land, I don't think Israelis would go.

One hour north of NYC -- I was brought up in Yonkers and moved to Washingtonville in 1988 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washingtonville,_New_York , 60 miles north of Manhattan. An increasing number of African-Americans and hispanics are moving to Orange County, NY. I don't think they would welcome the Israelis. The Hudson Valley region is also very bad for people with allergies. I would recommend central or northern Nevada, somewhere between the towns of Ely and Elko, or Elko and Austin (along Highway 50). That was my Great Basin idea. There is nothing out there but ranching, mining activity and prairie dogs. I know the Israelis would work wonders there. New Israel could be two or even three times the size of Old Israel.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Us_route_50_nevada.jpg

Grace said...

I was surprised at the topic and nature of this post.
Regarding your topic choice, I think this is one of those topics where your views will really effect little to no change. The Palestinian/Israeli struggle is in the paper everyday and everyone and his dog has an opinion about it. Your views are interesting but are competing with so many other voices in this area.

In the past, you have done more than champion unpopular causes, you have brought little known causes to light. You have more than established yourself as an expert in the areas of gender equality and education. An argument can be made that your commetaries in these areas, and even your political commentaries, can be related to the issues of employment. I am not sure that an analysis of the problems of the Middle East will help your readers in the career search.

Dave said...

A Palestinian: But that didn't give you the right to treat us as second-class citizens and then, when you developed a military, to be so aggressive to us. Look--in 1967, Israel invaded Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights and took it over--those were not part of the land the UN gave you.

An Israeli: Remember, in 1967, Egypt's, Jordan's, and Syria's military mounted a massive force at the Israeli border and there were calls to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, complete destruction. Would you have done nothing? So, Israel responded.

A Palestinian: But you didn't just preempt and attack. You took over our land: Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights.

An Israeli: If you were a tiny country surrounded by enemies sworn to your destruction, and in the war to defeat them you took small bits of land that would provide a buffer against future attacks, isn't that fair?

A Palestinian: No. First of all, you didn't just take buffer land. You took more.
------

Here's a little something I got from the National Archives, College Park in 2004.

THE PEACE INITIATIVE

In attempting to fashion a strategy for breaking the Arab-Israeli impasse, the US tried to bring the following elements into balance:

A. Israel must have security. This has two aspects:

--It relates to the terms of a settlement. The problem was to find security arrangements that would permit Israel to put less reliance on the security of mere geographical position because it seemed unlikely that there would be peace if Israel sought substantial changes in its borders.

--It relates to Israel's military strength. An ill-equipped Israel would likely seek territory to balance military deficiencies. Also, despite Israel's clearcut military survival on the present scene, its capacity to survive a long war of attrition is limited. Israel's confidence in its military ability to act decisively would affect its attitude toward a negotiated peace.

B. The Arabs must have what they regard as a just settlement...............................They [the Palestinians] must have roots. On the other hand, many of them seem committed to undercut not only a negotiated settlement but even some of the established governments around them.

SUMMARY OF KISSINGER-SISKO THINKING ON ME --
EO-12958 DECLASSIFIED, August 20, 1970. (Dept. of State)

There you have it. An insecure Israel leads to a land grab. A secure Israel sets the stage for a negotiated peace.

 

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