Tuesday, November 15, 2005
“This [wall] is not against the Palestinian people. This is against terrorists. The Palestinian people have to help prevent terror. They have to change their attitudes about terrorism, starting with the Palestinian Authority and going through Palestinian society.”
- Hillary Clinton
Middle East peace talk reminds me of the free trade talk in US politics, only the Mid-East is much more emotionally charged. (Takes Two Arms And Two Legs To Swim) Israeli-Palestinian peace will take perhaps a half dozen arms and legs moving in concert. What brings me honing in on this topic is if there is a visible fault line between the West and the Global South, this is it.
I remember a news photograph from the early 80s when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister of India. Arafat visited and he got a red carpet treatment like he were a head of state.
The wall in Berlin was wrong, this wall is even more so.
I am principally opposed to violence. My prescription is the progressive way of spreading democracy until the spread is total. But that is down the line. What about now?
Ariel Sharon is no Gandhi. This is a violent man who Bush lovingly refers to as a "bulldog."
Israel claims it is scared the powerless Palestinians might push them into the sea and wipe Israel off the map. But it refuses to see Palestine is not on the map.
When Arafat was the duly elected president of the Palestinians, Sharon refused to do business with him. That is not unlike questioning Martin Luther King's legitimacy to speak on behalf of the black people of America. You despise the people so much, you have to wage a singular attack on its leadership, and that is all you have to do to hurt the self-esteem of that people. That is Sharon's track record.
Israel fights with its army, one of the very best in the world. The Palestinians don't have a state, let alone a standing army, so they fight with sticks and stones. At the extreme end they have suicide bombers. I know this is a hot issue. But it has to be addressed. Violence is the surface of a very real political problem. Violence is the symptom, not the disease. Those like Sharon who refuse to seek a political solution make that violence possible.
Israel can not claim to be a democracy if it can not allow a universal application of the one person, one vote principle to all people living inside of Israel, Jewish and Arab alike. In the US when the blacks were denied voting rights, they called it a civil rights issue. Palestinians are also human, just like the African Americans.
I have personally seen the anti-Catholicism and the anti-semitism in the US South. The Jews in New York City are a voting bloc of sorts like the Hispanics. The Pat Robertsons of the world whose followers are at the forefront of the anti-semitism in the US South suddenly profess to be Israel's best friends on world stage. That is curious, don't you think?
Where does that put the hapless people of the Global South? Are they that much lesser?
Israel is a legitimate state and it will exist into eternity. The Jews have a horrific history as a victimized people. And I am sorry that is the way it has been. Anti-semitism is still alive in the West, although it has subsided much.
But when you look at the plight of the Palestinians, it does not escape me that the psychology of child abuse might be at play. Person A gets abused as a child, and ends up a child abuser. That cycle has to be broken. Palestine has to be liberated.
As I said earlier, Middle East peace will only be achieved when many things go right at once. It is a master challenge of coordination. And I am not about to blame all the ills on any one person, let alone Senator Hillary who was the first person in the Clinton administration to have come out for a Palestinian state, and who I am a huge fan of.
There has to be a major regional drive to spread democracy the progressive way, Palestine has to become a state, Jerusalem has to be shared, and Israel has to feel safe, and Israel has to end up a democracy.
And the wall gets in the way. The wall is Sharon's way of saying he does not intend to do the political work that will bring peace. The wall is wrong. Sharon is a guy who thinks of the Palestinians as lesser people.
The Jews and the Arabs in America will have to take the lead here. When they go on TV, they start bickering, and they justify the violence back there. That is sad. The Jewish voting bloc in America will have to think in terms of a long term peace for Israel, not the short term flexing of political muscle in US politics that they are used to.
Posted by Paramendra Bhagat at 12:19 PM