January 27, 2008

A Solution for Gaza

My next piece from Fallujah will be published later today. I just need to do one final edit and upload the photos.

In the meantime, David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy has a great solution to the troubles in Gaza that will never be implemented:
Sixty years ago, when Egypt occupied Gaza, it refused to grant the local Arab residents, native Gazans and refugees from the Arab-Israeli war of 1947-48, citizenship. Instead, the Egyptian government intentionally cut them off from Egypt and kept them impoverished, so they could be used as a propaganda and military weapon against Israel. When Israel took over Gaza in 1967, it opened the border with Israel, providing tens of thousands of jobs for Gazans, and increasing the standard of living there dramatically, albeit from very low levels. After a wave of suicide attacks from Gaza, Israel gradually closed off the border with Israel, and finally closed it off entirely when Hamas took over last year. Meanwhile, Israel no longer occupies Gaza, and the population has sunken back into abject poverty.

With the Gazan's breach of the border with Egypt, and Egypt's refusal to use force to seal the border, things have come full circle. It's time to ask why Egypt, with 80 million people, can't grant Gaza's one million full Egyptian citizenship, and allow them to live in Sinai or even Cairo instead of being stuck in Gaza.

No matter what happens in the near future between the Palestinians and Israel, I doubt Israel will ever allow the reasonably free movement between Gaza and Israel that existed through the early 1990s. Giving the Gazans Egyptian citizenship, and making Egypt responsible for security in the area, would benefit Israel, the Gazans, and even Egypt itself, by destroying Hamas's base (Hamas being affiliated with Egypt's anti-government Muslim Brotherhood). It would also benefit the Palestinians in the West Bank, by allowing the more moderate residents there to reach an accommodation with Israel, perhaps in concert with Jordan.
It will never be implemented because it would require a more humane and intelligent world, and because it would threaten "the cause." The well-being of the Palestinian people never really had much to do with that cause.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 27, 2008 9:49 AM

Comments

There has been a flurry of this kind of commentary coming out of Israel in particular. Unfortunately, we would be fools to think that Egypt would be willing to take on any kind of real control of Gaza. I've written a bit about this on my own site. In any event, Egypt has nothing to gain by taking firm control of the border. In fact, clamping down with so many Palestinians pouring out of Rafah would more likely result in further terrorist attacks in Sinai. It's particularly unfortunate given what an opportunity this could be for Arab states to demonstrate that they actually care about the Palestinian people.

Posted by: zellmad Author Profile Page at January 27, 2008 11:07 AM

The well-being of the Palestinian people never really had much to do with that cause.

Does it then follow that an upwardly mobile Palestenian population would actually serve to spoil one of the main Arab arguments aimed at the Jews?

Question: How does the non-Palestinian Arab world regard their Palestinian cousins? A man I know who worked in the Middle East claims that none of them likes Palestinians, ragarding them as a kind of renegade group. Even before the establishment of Israel, according to him, Palestinians were looked down upon socially, culturally and politically. Think Gypsies or gang members...a group not to be trusted or respected by decent people. He went so far to suggest that the rest of the Arab world has a measure of respect for the Jews because of their tough treatment of Palestinians.

Clearly erudition and achievement in the Palestinian diaspora belies such thinking as ignorant prejudice. There is a difference between observing prejudice and approving of it.

Since you have been living and working there for some time, have you observed that kind of thinking enough to consider it a factor in the conflict? I want my source to be wrong because I have not read of Palestinians complaining along these lines, but something tells me he may have a point.

As a Southern white I am well acquainted with the subtleties of prejudice...even now, decades after it is officially against the law. We need look no further than the presidential election to find it. I guess my question can be: Are Palestinians in the Middle East analogous to Blacks in America?

Posted by: Hootsbuddy Author Profile Page at January 27, 2008 11:47 AM

Hootsbuddy,

Most Israelis I've met have a lot more genuine sympathy for Palestinians than most Arabs I've met. There are exceptions. This is a generalization. But the thing about generalizations is they are generally true.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 27, 2008 12:01 PM

Question: How does the non-Palestinian Arab world regard their Palestinian cousins?

I don't know about the Arab world as a whole, but I do know the Palestinians are unpopular in Kuwait on account of Yasser Arafat's support for Iraq when Saddam invaded.

He went so far to suggest that the rest of the Arab world has a measure of respect for the Jews because of their tough treatment of Palestinians.

That's credible. Arabs tend to respect strength. In the Israeli-Palestinian mess, the Israelis are the strong party, and the Palestinians the weak party.

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at January 27, 2008 4:04 PM

Question: How does the non-Palestinian Arab world regard their Palestinian cousins?

My impression is that the Arab stance on Palestinians is in some ways a lot like the typical Jewish stance on Israel: incredibly supportive and defensive when facing others, while quite harshly critical when engaging with an internal audience.

I am not so certain I agree with rosignol however in claiming that Arabs in general respect Israel. My experience in the Middle East and at home is that it is only a distinct minority which has any genuine admiration for Israel and Jews in general.... but then again, I am not part of their internal audience.

Posted by: zellmad Author Profile Page at January 27, 2008 4:18 PM

If the "Arab" world wanted to help the Palestinians the would have.

Short of eliminating that pesky Israel, I have not seen any evidence over the past fifty years that the "Arab" world (not really comfortable thinking that the Arab world in a monolithic entity) care at all. Other than rhetoric, again usually involving that darn Israel.

Jordan may be an exception; not sure what the background was with their allowing so many Palestinians into Jordan.

My level of emphathy with the Palestinians is about the same as I have for the denizens of Detroit, MI; they continued to elect, or at least actively support, corrupt, inept leaders. Sorry, something about reaping what you sow....

Posted by: rsnyder Author Profile Page at January 27, 2008 4:39 PM

Michael,

Looking forward to the Fallujah piece.

Have you considered attempting to embed with a unit during a Relief in Place / Transfer of Authority? I think it would be interesting to see how the new relationships are facilitated by the outgoing unit between the incoming unit and the local leaders. The incoming units have most likely been there before, about a year or two prior, and their first impressions of the change in the operating environment could be insightful.

Then again, I'm not sure if units are keen on embedding during the hectic RIP/TOA process. But it would be interesting.

Posted by: Saint in Exile Author Profile Page at January 27, 2008 5:38 PM

How about Israel buys Egyptian citizenship for Gazans. :)

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at January 27, 2008 10:00 PM

Those refugees were not forced to flee Egypt, they were forced to flee historic Palestine. To be sure, the Egyptians' behavior is shameful, but that doesn't pass the buck for ultimate responsibility. If anyone should be giving Palestinian refugees nationality, it's Israel.

Ask Rwandan president Paul Kagame and the other Tutsi former refugees of 1959 if it would have been a just solution for the much larger and more populous Uganda or Tanzania to give citizenship to the Tutsis who were forced out of the country during the "Hutu Revolution" and upon Rwandan independence from Belgium.

All this talk of making Palestinians Egyptian or Saudi is ridiculous and goes along with the Israeli conception that since there's obviously no difference between Arabs, Palestinians should just go live in the desert in Sinai. It's an unbelievably racist idea that shouldn't past muster in a world where civilized discourse no longer believes in colonization.

Another point is that Israel keeps wanting to vaunt the fact that it's pulled out of Gaza and can't understand why the rockets keep coming. The rockets are stupid, cruel and ultimately counterproductive, but when Israel controls the airspace, coasts and all the borders of Gaza (including Rafah, which doesn't touch Israel), it's no mystery why the Gazans are pissed. If Israel's withdrawal had been a real one, Gazans could have opened the border with Egypt, started rebuilding their airport and been free to use their seaport. That has obviously not been the case. As far as I'm concerned, demolishing the border wall was the first smart thing Hamas has done in a long time.

Posted by: barabbas Author Profile Page at January 28, 2008 3:28 AM

Good ideas. I have never thought that granting citizenship to Palestinian refugees and their descendents does anything to "diminish" the cause. It is actually the only humanitarian thing to do.

As to how Arabs view Palestinians, I have mentioned this on another thread. It is my view that Palestinians are viewed in the Arab world in the same manner that Jews used to be viewed in the Western world.

It is ironic that the same stereotypes that are and we used against Jews in the West are often used against Palestinians in the Arab world. The typical Arab stereotype of the Palestinian is someone who is very cheap and tight with money, will rob you if given a chance and if you don't watch out will probably steal your daughters or at least debauch them.

This is a common refrain that I have heard from Arabs from Yemen to Morroco. It is as if Palestinians face some sort of "anti-Semitism" in their own linguistic communities. However, imagine what would happen if several million people from Northern England were forced to come to the USA, sometimes given good treatment from the US government, sometimes not. Quickly these people from Northern England would be rather unwelcomed guests. The same goes in the Arab world. Many people think that the arab peoples are a very similar people, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Palestinians have their own distinct dialect of Arabic and their own culture which is different from the people around them. The old canard that "Arabs are Arabs" and that Palestinians are nothing more than one segment of an exactly similar Arab people's is completely wrong.

The fact that Palestinians and their neighbors share the same common lingustic background does not mean that they are really "the same people" anymore than people from the American Southwest are the same as people from London.

Palestinians are often very badly treated by people from the countries they inhabit. Iraq is a great example. The Palestinian community there has been very badly treated since 2003, with dozens possibility several hundred murdered. Their crime nothing other than being Palestinian.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at January 28, 2008 6:33 AM

Most Israelis don't trust the Palestinians, although the average Israeli who lives near and works around/with Palestinians sees a guy not much different from himself--working stiff, trying to raise a large family, pretty much divorced from any control over what our respective leaders decide. There is a grudging respect for the Palestinians' toughness although a perception that such toughness leads to stupid decisions that backfire. Methinks it is a case of bicultural misunderstanding.

The Palestinians don't want Israeli nationality--they want their own country with their own holidays and their schools taught in Arabic. Having Israel "give" them Israeli nationality is ridiculous--they don't want it.

BTW, many of the "Palestinian" refugees are "Palestinian" only by chance of residence in 1947--while everyone is familiar with Jewish immigration to Israel, few seem familiar with the huge importation of Arab labor to the British Mandate territory by the Brits, and before that, by the Ottomans who saw all residents of their Empire as fungible assets---scratch a 1948 "Palestinian" and you'll often find an Arab of Egyptian, Iraqi, Algerian, Tunisian or Moroccan origin.

Posted by: lawandorder Author Profile Page at January 28, 2008 8:08 AM

Lawandorder,

I fail to see the fact some Palestinian reguees from 1948 owe their genetics roots outside the Levant as being important.

What would you say to my ancestors who died in the Holocaust who were originally from Russia and Central Asia who were murdered in the death camps? Does their ancestry some how mitigate what was done to them? They came to Germany and Poland for a better life, better jobs. Would you use the same example to describe what happened to them? If not, why not?

When we start finding excuses for terrible things that were done to groups of people then we start down a slippery road of justifcations and end up minimalising the horror of the events themselves.

There has been immigration to Palestine for 2,000 years plus. Without that immigration the Jewish people never would have been there in the first place. Remember that Jews were immigrants to Palestine as well, unless you contend they were always in Palestine and that the search for the promised land, as described in The Bible, is false.

As for Palestinians not wanting Israeli nationality, that is true and not true. You'll find many Israeli Arabs who would NEVER give up their Israeli passport for a Palestinian one. Although the benefits they get from Israeli citizenship does not equal their Jewish co-citizens, it is a A LOT better than what their Palestinian counter parts get.

I think you'll find there are a lot of Palestinians who want nothing more than to be given a vote in an Israeli state. Of course such an idea is a non starter for most Israelis as a "one person-one vote" system in Israel would mean an eventual Palestinian Muslim and Palestinian Christian majority. One person, one vote means the end of the "Jewish Identity" of Israel. This is the very reason many of them do want an Israeli citizenship and vote.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at January 28, 2008 9:06 AM

Marc, I didn't hear any excuses for anything. Maybe you could point one out to me. History is history and it's always good to recognize the past. Yes there are plenty of Palestinians wanting nothing more than to be given a vote. Politically most of them live in the West Bank.

People have been trying to find a single solution to the 'political' situation for years and it has been… elusive. Now that Hamas controls Gaza and has rejected conciliation with Israel we (the Palestinians and the world) have the opportunity for a two pronged solution.

Giving Palestinians a choice, whether to live in Gaza and more closely affiliated with the 'Arab' culture of Egypt, or in the West Bank more closely affiliated with the 'Democratic' culture of Israel is the most fair and humane option I know of.

Why force those who don't want to be there into the Israeli political sphere, or those that would prefer Israel's more 'western' approach into a traditional Arab system?

Posted by: R Pete Author Profile Page at January 28, 2008 9:27 AM

Before the Holocaust and the modern state of Israel, there was the ideology of Jewish separatism and dominance of Palestine. Before the Arab armies, PLO, and Hamas, there was the economic, political, and military effort of that ideology's adherents to push aside and disenfranchise the country's indigenous population. Change the ideology to mutual respect and inclusion, and you will change the dynamic. Arabs and Jews want freedom in their homeland. Having a government which works towards this freedom, as opposed to one which 'guarantees' freedom for one at the expense the other is what is lacking.

Posted by: The Other Alan Author Profile Page at January 28, 2008 9:53 AM

If Israel treated Palestinians like the rest of the Arab world treats Palestinians there would no longer be any Palestinians.
Palestinians should be thankful that Saddam never took an interest in them. Or at least hadn't gotten around to it or figured out how to do it. The ball is in Egypts court, let them play it.

Posted by: Lindsey Author Profile Page at January 28, 2008 11:28 AM

Lindsey,

See, your argument is one I have never understood. You cannot call Israel a democracy on one hand then compare and laud them with undemocratic dictators the next.

If you feel Israel is a democracy, in the Western sense of the word, you must compare them to Western democracies.

Your statement then should read "If Israel treated Palestinians like Western democracies treat their minorities......". You cannot use the occupation comparison because I do not think any Western democratic nation is currently involved in a long term military occupation of a foreign people. The closest thing to that would have been the British in Northern Ireland, but even that has gone by the way with Sinn Fein being active in the government in the six provinces.

That is the only valid comparison. We are agreed that Israel's neighbors are dictators, tyrants and fanatics, no one is calling them anything else. Israel is a democracy, hence it's behaviors and actions should be compared to other democracies to see how they stand up. Once you start looking to the actions of dictators and tyrants to justify your behavior you have already lost the battle.

As to treating Gaza and the West Bank as different entities, that will not happen. Hamas wont go for it, but more importantly, neither will Fatah/PLO nor any other mainstream Palestinian entity. One of the major issues in the negotiations themselves is the Palestinian idea that Israeli is trying to create four or more separate enclaves that will be "Bantustans" in a South African comparison. No Palestinian will agree to that idea. It is dead in the water.

As to the "pre Israel" idea of dominance, I would say that for some Israelis it is still there. Let's not forget that Israel has it's extremists as well and they are very active. One killed their Prime Minister a few years back and this murderer has a rather large, almost cult like follwing. Baruch Goldstein, another fanatic who mowed down over 30 men, women and children worshipping in a mosque.

I don’t know if you have ever had any interaction with some of these fanatic settlers, but I have, and it is really a flip coin to the Palestinian fanatic. They feel that God gave them all of historic Palestine. They will tell you that the Middle East belongs to them, as a birthright from God, everything from the Sinai to Syria. They feel that everywhere in the Middle East where there was a historical Jewish community, they have a claim to that land. These people have more of an impact in Israeli society than people think. Look at Hebron where a hundred or so fanatical religious settlers live in the middle of a hundred thousand Palestinians. They are guarded by thousands of Israeli troops and like Islamic fanatics, cannot be dealt with on a reasonable level.

It is people like this who give rise to the "Arabs to the Gas Chambers" sentiments and push for "resettlement" (ethnic cleansing) of Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim.

Plain and simple, Israel needs to withdraw to 1967 borders and dismantle all settlements. All Arab governments and members of The Organisation of Islamic Conference must make a full peace with Israel, to include the economy and military.

All member states of the Conference and the Arab League would recognise the right of the Jewish people to a state in the borders of 1967, free from any violence and subversion.

East Jerusalem should be the capitol of the Palestinian state, with the rest of the world recognising West Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, something no major country in the world does.

If Israel does not agree to the dual capital idea of Jerusalem it should be made into an international city and the Israeli capital remains in Tel Aviv and the Palestinian capital made in a place like Ramallah.

Israel should give recognition to the right of the refugees, but in a coordinated gesture, the Palestinian state will formally agree to not resettle any refugees, rather refugees will be compensated by an international fund to cover this.

Members of the Arab league would equally recognise the right of Jews displaced in the post 1948 era to return and refugees and their descdents from Arab countries would be compensated under the same fund put together for Palestinian refugees.

A timeline must be created for an organisation to be created to work towards a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East. The end goal would be the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

All of that sits at the end of a rainbow somewhere.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at January 28, 2008 12:50 PM

Marc,
Those 3 sentences are actually distilled directly verbatim from a conversation with MJT and Sean over dinner and beers on Friday night. If memory serves there was little or no disagreement to the basic sentiment expressed, and since I was on straight H2O, my memory is relatively good. Actually, I am certain I comletely stole at least one of them.
You clearly have quite a well informed opinion though and expressed it very well. Thanks. I was expecting a flame out. It is much more civilised around here than it used to be!

BTW: I just heard GW Bush announce his comittment to a 2 state solution in 2008. Among other things.
Hmmmm.

Posted by: Lindsey Author Profile Page at January 28, 2008 8:41 PM

"...but when Israel controls the airspace, coasts and all the borders of Gaza (including Rafah, which doesn't touch Israel), it's no mystery why the Gazans are pissed. If Israel's withdrawal had been a real one, Gazans could have opened the border with Egypt, started rebuilding their airport and been free to use their seaport."

So then would their withdrawal have been as successful as that from Lebanon?

Posted by: meg Author Profile Page at January 28, 2008 10:32 PM

Meg,

It doesn't really matter. Israel, has a duty to evacuate land that isn't their's, full stop. The devil is in the details.

It is often said that the Palestinians don't miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, but I would have to interject that the Israelis have a tendency to be short sighted and often shoot themselves in the foot.

Their instrumental role in creating Hamas is one such example, the invasion of Lebanon and the ensuing defeat there along with the occupation inspired creation of Hizb'Allah was another.

Lindsay,

Comparing Israel to the dictators and tyrants that surround them might be nice beer fueled banter but hardly holds mustard in a real discussion. Kind of like a British Marine Commando trying to brag by comparing himself to the local Special Olympics. If he wants to prove something don’t compare yourself to people who are not in your league, let himself try to compare himself to a Navy SEAL and let the real bad-ass win.

As to the flame wars, I cannot stand them. I have read this blog for a long time but only recently started posting when I saw that things had gotten better.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at January 29, 2008 6:04 AM

Marc;

refugees will be compensated by an international fund to cover this.

Pass the begging bowl to the people involved, if they want to contribute. Leave international money out of it, please.

I will point out that peoples totally in the millions during the wars of the last century have been forced from the homes and resettled in other countries. From the Greek and Turks in the early 1920s to the millions of Germans driven out from the Eastern part of Germany and Czechsolvakia to the millions of Hindus and Moslems forced to flee after Pakistan broke off from India. Of all these peoples, only the Palestinians are considered still to be "refugees" after 6 decades and still somehow deserve special treatment.

Why do the Palestinians, or rather the children and great children of the original people, deserve special rights of return and compensation in a manner that no other descendants of refugees have gotten?

Posted by: Boojum Author Profile Page at January 29, 2008 6:16 AM

Boojum,

There are still living victims of what the Palestinians call "an-Nakba" or the catastrophe. There are also living Jewish refugees who fled from Arab lands in the wake of 1948.

Obviously this struggle is one that is harder to find a conclusion to than the others you mention, although the Turkish/Greek one is a very poor example because of the situation in Cyprus.

Different conflicts require different methods to solve them. In this case either restitution would have to be made or the right of return granted. You might not like it, but that is the way it is.

The right of return, as a practical application, would not be agreed to by the Israelis that is why matching compenstation for Jewish and Palestinian refugees could work to bridge this gap.

As to the compensation itself, as an American we have a long history of it. I would point you to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act enacted in 1971 in which the US government provided some $963 million dollars compensation to Alaskan native tribes along with access to 44 million acres of land.

If it is good enough to settle a non violent situation in which Alaskan tribes were displaced and whose rights were violated, I suggest compensation would be more than worth it to settle a conflict with worldwide implications which currently fuels extremism around the world.

Besides, as a family member of Holocaust survivors, I think your idea is a bit insulting. I find it interesting you dont question the right of return for Jews to Israel. Why would our right of return somehow be different?

I just wonder why you didnt write "Why do the Jews, or rather the children and great children of Holocaust survivors, deserve special rights of return and compensation in a manner that no other descendents of refugees have gotten"?

Following your ideas you completely negate the right for the state of Israel to exist. Without the right of return for Israel, along with generous compensation for Holocaust survivors, along with monetary and military packages for Israel from countries like the US and Germany, Israel would not exist.

No double standards allowed. If you negate the right of Palestinians to return, or compensation for it, you also negate the very basis upon which Israel is built. You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Native_Claims_Settlement_Act

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at January 29, 2008 9:59 AM

Marc

On what do you base the right of return of Jews to Israel? That their remote SPIRITUAL ancestors inhabited the place thousands of years ago?

Given all the movements and incursions of peoples over thousands of years, your argument is stretching into the absurd. That the descendants of all living people have a right to return to a certain place because their remote ancestors lived there, is ridiculous, not to mention logistically impossible. And here I refer to the physical ancestors, not the spiritual ones, for then the middle east belongs to the worshippers of Baal, Ahura Mazda, Ishtar, and Marduk.

The Holocaust Jews had their ancestry in Europe, not the Middle East.

If the Israelis and the Arabs want to pay compensation to each other, that’s their business. The Arabs are swimming in oil money and the Israelis have a wealthy economy. Just leave my tax money out of it, thank you

Posted by: Boojum Author Profile Page at January 29, 2008 10:51 AM

Nice to know you basically support one of the tennets of Hamas, that Israel has no basis to exist.

No need for further dialogue. Thanks.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at January 29, 2008 11:34 AM

Working my way through the comments:

"genetic roots" wasn't the point, sorry--I should've explained in more detail: the fact that many Palestinians in Gaza have Egyptian and Maghrebi roots means that the Arabic and cultural norms are a bit different from West Bank Palestinians with Jordanian and Syrian roots...the Palestinians are not one monolithic people but have their own internal divisions to bridge, including ethnic (and tribal) conflicts.

"Before the Holocaust and the modern state of Israel, there was the ideology of Jewish separatism and dominance of Palestine. Before the Arab armies, PLO, and Hamas, there was the economic, political, and military effort of that ideology's adherents to push aside and disenfranchise the country's indigenous population."--I don't agree. I won't waste time debating it because I'm sure everyone on this page has a grasp of the history and their own interpretation of it. I simply point out that the failure of the Arabs to accomodate Jewish desire to have a SHARE of the power in British Mandate Palestine was a huge factor leading to the Partition. The anti-Jewish riots stoked by Haj Amin el Husseini and the accompanying murders inflamed Arab nationalism and made resident Jews realize that accomodating Arab ultranationalist sentiment was suicide.

"They feel that God gave them all of historic Palestine. They will tell you that the Middle East belongs to them, as a birthright from God, everything from the Sinai to Syria. They feel that everywhere in the Middle East where there was a historical Jewish community, they have a claim to that land. These people have more of an impact in Israeli society than people think. Look at Hebron where a hundred or so fanatical religious settlers live in the middle of a hundred thousand Palestinians."

These settlers, the UltraOrthodox fringe, are fanatics but you omit to mention that they have virtually no power, no support from 98% of Israelis, and most of us heartily destest them. However, in fairness, they don't claim everywhere in the Middle East OR historic Palestine (which includes Jordan) but rather "the (Jordan)River to the (Mediterranean) Sea" -- they are the flip side of "Greater Palestine" as promulgated by the PLO. I personally would like them to pack up and leave Hebron, but I understand (but don't agree with) their reasoning for why they're there: the Jewish community was butchered by the Arabs and these settlers feel they need to return to what once was theirs, especially since the Tomb of the Patriarchs (holy to Jews as well as Moslems) was forbidden to Jews when in Moslem hands.

"Israel needs to withdraw to 1967 borders..." -- There are no "1967 borders" -- there was an armistice line in 1948 to mark where the respective armies were when the fighting stopped, and the UN anticipated that subsequent negotiations would establish the borders. This was rejected by the Palestinians and the Arab League at the Khartoum Conference and for decades the Arab world refused to negotiate with Israel over anything---including borders. Since the 1948 Partition was rejected by the Arabs and the 1967 offer to negotiate was rejected by the Arabs, that legally makes the lands beyond the Green Line disputed territory, not Palestinian territory. This is a tenet of international law that is often overlooked in these discussions. The whole point of Oslo, Wye, Taba, and Annapolis was to get back to the point of negotiating borders (and everything else)and establishing the Palestinian state which should have risen in 1948.

"Israel has a duty to evacuate land that isn’t theirs." No, Israel doesn't. It's a nice sound-byte, but that is not what the Geneva or Hague conventions call for, nor is it a tenet of international law or any UN resolution. The question now, after the Arab rejection of Partition in 1948 is TO WHOM does the land belong? And where is the border to be drawn? Between 1948 and 1967, Jordan annexed the West Bank---and has since divested itself of any claim, yet there is no Palestinian state to inherit it (yet). The European powers arrogated Jerusalem to themselves, yet first it was divided between Jordanians and Israelis, and now it is under Israeli jurisdiction--to whom does it belong now? It never belonged to the Palestinians--it went from the Turks, to the British, to the Jordanians and now to the Israelis. This is a complex problem and doesn't lend itself to simple solutions. If it did, we'd be done already (sigh).

"{Israel’s) role in creating Hamas" -- Israel didn't create HAMAS--the name is an acronym translated loosely as the Moslem Brotherhood in Gaza--it is an Egyptian organization founded in 1928, and the political echelon of Nasser's Egypt found it expedient to exile MB members (who were strongly opposed to Nasser and his secular rule) to Gaza, where they founded HAMAS and began instilling their Islamist ideology amongst the population.

"Holocaust Jews had their ancestry in Europe" -- only partly true. Partly, because the Holocaust round-up of Jews also occured in Nazi-occupied North Africa, so the Nazis didn't distinguish on the basis of ancestry--any Jew was a target. Partly true again, because while the European Jews resided in Europe, they were never considered "European" by the Europeans. Jews didn't have civil rights or citizenship in the vast majority of European countries until the 19th century. We were always deemed 'foreigners' and of 'Semitic' ancestry -- of the Middle East.

How about calling it even? The Jewish State absorbed the Jewish refugees from all over, Europe, North Africa, and Mesopotamia and others--and never received compensation for the homes and valuables left behind by those poor souls--how about the Arab states absorbing the Arab refugees who won't/can't live in the new Palestinian State, and the Arab states take care of their financial needs? Palestinian and Jewish refugees both give up claims to properties and restitution, and Israelis and Palestinians both renounce the ideologies of "Greater Palestine" and "Greater Israel?"

Posted by: lawandorder Author Profile Page at January 30, 2008 9:48 AM

Here's the problem as I see it:

Its not so much that Palestinians should become Egyptians or citizens of another Arab country, but rather that they should have that option. To my knowledge, Jordan is the only Arab country that does. There are Palestinian refugees who have lived in Egypt or other Arab countries for 50 years, their children, grandchildren, probably even great-grandchildren have been born and raised there yet they cannot become citizens. They should be able to and it should not been they are giving up being a Palestinian, although I think UNRWA should become null. Some, maybe many, of the Palestinian-Egyptians would still like to return to Israel or Palestine. This not only would make life better for the Palestinians today, it would give Israel and the world a more accurate picture of the refugee situation, which just might make it easier to solve the conflict.

Yes, too many people don't know how different Egyptians are from Lebanese or Palestinian or Saudi, but those differences hardly negate the idea that Palestinians might rather become a citizen of Egypt than Israel or the US. Israeli Arabs, from what I've read, seem to wonder where they fit in in the Jewish state. I know if after some catastrophe, I became an American refugee, I would choose Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa over other countries, because though its a different dialect, its not a completely new language, and its a different, but still somewhat familiar culture.

Posted by: Megan Author Profile Page at January 31, 2008 8:31 AM

Good stuff, here's what darrell wrote about gaza: www.darrellepp.com

Posted by: dorothee Author Profile Page at February 1, 2008 12:50 PM

"...The Palestinian community there has been very badly treated since 2003, with dozens possibility several hundred murdered. Their crime nothing other than being Palestinian....."

Actually Saddam brought them in and gave them free apartments, so the resentment has some justification, of course not at the level of murder.

"...There are Palestinian refugees who have lived in Egypt or other Arab countries for 50 years, their children, grandchildren, probably even great-grandchildren have been born and raised there yet they cannot become citizens."

Jordan and Israel are the only countries in the ME where Palestinians can become full citizens.

"... Plain and simple, Israel needs to withdraw to 1967 borders and dismantle all settlements."

Those are not defensible borders. UN Res. 242 says Israel has the right to defensible borders. There have been various proposals to swap "Palestinian" land for Israeli land so that the two countries would be ... what would the word be? Less thin? More blocky? More internally contiguous?

"....East Jerusalem should be the capitol of the Palestinian state, with the rest of the world recognising West Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, something no major country in the world does."

No. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 2500 years, but as a political entity and a religious one. This is like telling the Arabs that they have to divide Mecca because some tribe next door announced that they wanted it for their capital.

The Palestinians only decided that their capital should be Jerusalem, oh, 50-60 years ago? 20? They decided that because Israel had it, no other reason. it has never been remotely as important to Islam as to Judaism and Christianity, and this was assumed until, again, Jews started returning there in large numbers, then all of a sudden Jerusalem was very religiously important to Islam.

"...If Israel does not agree to the dual capital idea of Jerusalem it should be made into an international city and the Israeli capital remains in Tel Aviv and the Palestinian capital made in a place like Ramallah."

Ramalla is good for the Palestinians, it's actually an Arab city. Otherwise ... what internaitonal community is going to administer Jerusalem? What international entity has ever been fair to Israel? 'Nuff said.

This is not an extremist view, this is the view of the majority of Israelis, including Israelis who agree to a Palestinian state, not to mention the rest of the Jewish world.

In Jerusalem now, and ever since Israel liberated it from Jordan, it has been open to every religious group who has a claim to it. For God's sake, the israelis gave the whole Temple Mount back to the Muslims, who have been busy ever since destroying any archeological evidence of the Jewish Temple underneath (and there is plenty, some of it recovered from the trash pile in the Kidron Valley where the WAQF dumped it).

When Jordan owned it, Jews could not get anywhere near their most holy site. Before that, Jewish access to our holiest city and also the capital of our nation was intermittant, depending on the whim of the Christian or Muslim ruler. When Jews ruled, before the destruction of the 2nd Temple, gentiles were welcome and had their own area where they could offer sacrifices.

The only people - by historical evidence - who keep Jerusalem open to all are the Jews.

Posted by: Yehudit Author Profile Page at February 1, 2008 4:36 PM

Not to mention the fact that every time anyone proposes dividing Jerusalem, most of the Palestinians who live there protest mightily against being turned over to the PA. Why divide Jerusalem when most of the residents don't want that, and the justification for it is so tenuous? This is another example of bending over backwards to give the Palestinians everything they want, no matter how unreasonable.

Another reason not to divide is that it is much easier for suicide bombers to get in if they have access via Palestinian-ruled areas. And don't think they wouldn't.

It ain't gonna happen, even under Olmert. It is a complete non-starter.

Posted by: Yehudit Author Profile Page at February 1, 2008 4:40 PM

"“… but when Israel controls the airspace, coasts and all the borders of Gaza (including Rafah, which doesn't touch Israel), it's no mystery why the Gazans are pissed."

Well, sure, but if Israel didn't, it would be 2002 all over again in suicide bombings, arms smuggling from the sea, and taking potshots at Israeli planes. At this point there is even less reason to open the borders. If Gaza decided to become a normal country the walls would come down.

Posted by: Yehudit Author Profile Page at February 1, 2008 4:48 PM

"but when Israel controls the airspace, coasts and all the borders of Gaza (including Rafah, which doesn't touch Israel), it's no mystery why the Gazans are pissed"

When the Palestinians reject a good peace offer and then decide to pursure their aims by blowing up Israeli civilians in buses and pizza parlors, and then elect a government that explicitly calls for the murder of Jews (not "Zionists", or "Israelis" - read the Hamas charter) it's no mystery that Israelis are pissed. Israel's restraint is remarkable, especially in comparison to its neighbors who have resorted to brutal massacres to stifle dissent.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at February 2, 2008 12:28 AM
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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