Israel and Palestine – Round 4,343 or something.

Last week, President Barack Obama addressed members of the Department of State and discussed the issue of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

On Monday of this week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel addressed the Congress of the United States.

While much has been made about the differences on their perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian issues, it is important that we also recognize the similarities in their remarks.

President Obama:

For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

You see, our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state. This is what this conflict is about. In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews said yes. The Palestinians said no.  In recent years, the Palestinians twice refused generous offers by Israeli Prime Ministers, to establish a Palestinian state on virtually all the territory won by Israel in the Six Day War.

They were simply unwilling to end the conflict. And I regret to say this: They continue to educate their children to hate. They continue to name public squares after terrorists. And worst of all, they continue to perpetuate the fantasy that Israel will one day be flooded by the descendants of Palestinian refugees.

Lest you think that President Obama came up with the two-nation deal on his own, we should remember that this was presented to him by Mahmoud Abbas back in 2009.

The problem with forming a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli one has never been a problem for most people in the region. Are there clashes between the peoples now? Of course. With a century of animosity between them, is that hardly surprising? The problem has always been, and will continue to be, extremist groups and the fears they foster – on both sides.

If, as President Obama and PM Netanyahu said, the Palestinians will simply accept that the Jewish state has the right to exist then there is common ground to work things out. If the Israelis would accept that the Palestinians also have a right to freedom, self-expression and self-defense, then there might be common ground.

Of course, if is a big word for only having two letters. On principal, I can understand both sides of the situation.

In a way, I think the best solution might be the one they found in Don’t Mess with the Zohan (a particularly awful movie with little to commend it). Zohan Dvir (Adam Sandler), a former Israeli Mossad operative, and Fatoush “The Phantom” Hakbarah (John Turturro), a Palestinian operative. Through Zohan’s relationship with the Phantom’s sister Dalia (Emmanuelle Chiqrui), Zohan and Fatoush set aside their differences to fight a common enemy. (The scene ends in a combined Hebrew and Arabic “Sound” that I will spare you from because it is truly awful.)

While the film itself was terrible, it still communicates something worth thinking about.

Perhaps if Jews and Palestinians spent more time working together against common enemies (greed, corruption, hatred, violence) and less time trying to prove that the other group was the enemy, we would have a more stable and peaceful region. Sometimes I think there are forces that foment the violence between Jews and Palestinians to keep the world in chaos.

Just saying.

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3 thoughts on “Israel and Palestine – Round 4,343 or something.

  1. Prime Minister Netenyahu once put the problem in succinct perspective:

    If the Palestinians put down their arms, there would be peace. If the Israelis put down theirs, Israel would mean the end of Israel.

    How do you negotiate with someone who’s very purpose is your annihilation?

  2. On semantic terms, I understand the original Palestinian issue. The Jews were moving to Palestine under the auspices of the fall of the Ottoman empire and the rise of the British Mandate. It was a symbol of imperialism, and I get it. They felt the Ottomans had abandoned them to the fancies of the Europeans.

    (On the other side of things, the British could not stand working with the Jews back then. They threw up their hands and said, “UN, you fix it.” And we all know how effective the UN is.)

    But that was nearly 100 years ago. The Palestinians are still trying to right the wrongs of generations past. It doesn’t work that way. Deal with the situation you have now.

    It is analogous to the people who think the solution to racism is to try to fix the Civil War. That is the past. Build a future together.

    The extremists in the Palestinian movements prevent the moderates from moving forward, and the Israelis have been burned enough times that they’re not going to give an inch unless the extremists are dealt with.

    Since President Assad is basically on his deathbed, whoever succeeds him in the Palestinian presidency needs to distance their legitimate government from the extremists – expel them. Show the Israelis that they will not tolerate this hatred.

    My personal feeling is that extremists in the Palestinian communities robbed the Palestinians of a homeland back in 47. The British were willing to accommodate them. The Jews took what Britain and the UN offered. The Palestinians refused to. That can’t be changed now – and making Israel indefensible won’t solve it.

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