Friday, January 05, 2007

Palestinian Autonomy - and Endless War

I am Jewish, have many Israeli relatives, and have no desires to see the death and destruction that many Jews fear with cooperation with the Palestinians in The West Bank and Gaza.

Today on NPR I heard of older Palestinian women who are beginning to become visible seeking a Palestinian State in two contrasting ways. The first featured woman rejects the fighting between Hamas and Fatah and seeks a third path coming from protesting the status quo - a new movement.

The second woman had been recruited by Hamas - age 72. Initially she served as a diversionary force to help free some Hamas "militants". In the end her family celebrated her life - as she died as a suicide bomber who "only" slightly wounded two Israeli soldiers.

The story concluded indicting that Hamas was the far stronger force, with programs for its people. It also talked of how Islamic law was pushing restrictions upon many areas as part of Hamas's efforts.

As Jews in Spain, Eastern Europe and many other places, most of our ancestors rejected the "easy path" refusing to convert to Christianity despite great pressures from the dominant forces in many countries. We wanted the freedom to be our own people amidst a world that was often very hostile to us.

Jews from much of the world came to Palestine and unsuccessfully tried to convince the native population that "modernity" through the leadership of the immigrants was their way to the future. The Palestinians stubbornly insisted on trying to save their lands (and water), their most valued resources, as well as their general way of life.

We seem to have lost these basic facts in our fears that have developed over Palestinian and Arab resistance to Israel's formation and early development. Israelis and Jews from outside Israel have translated the resistance of the Arab countries and native population out of a position of relative (Israeli) weakness prior to and shortly after the formation of the State of Isreal in 1948 into a pathological fear of "Arabs" and "Muslims" which is no longer realistic today.

Certainly it is dangerous to allow Palestinians real power and a viable state of most of the West Bank and all of Gaza. Unfortunately the giving up of water rights and the rights to land - the economics are masked by the very real fears of killing and death.

Israeli's army is far, far stronger than any potential opposition despite the huge population of the "enemy" vs. Israel's small popultion. Israel's economy is far stronger than much of the nearby Middle East, despite the oil wealth.

The United States pressures Israel to support American foreign policy which greatly weakens and denies moderate forces, helping build the support of radical forces like Hamas. Once radical forces like Hamas gain power, We do all we can to confront them and deny their legitimacy.

Similar to the results in Iran, Iraq and even Egypt - our ideological driven - pressures result in countries which have leaders - such as Saudi Arabia has, who seemingly are "allies", but are doomed in the long run to losing power to (likely) radical forces of reaction. We support a doomed strategy in The West Bank and Gaza.

Someday, perhaps in my lifetime, Israel will have little strategic importance to the United States. The oil in the Middle East will likely be exhausted and much of the Middle East will have little economic value to the forces of "capital".

At that time Israel will have only its military might to defend itself, to fight the forces of its Palestinian neighbors and own people.

Today, Israel can and should build a real peace through real negotiations - without pre-conditions - to try to build a lasting peace. I can't predict the exact peace agreement that could exist. I would imagine that it would necessitate - Jews leaving 99% of the ("illegal") settlements - of the West Bank and granting Gaza true, not pseudo-autonomy (as it now has).

For Israel such a peace would be "dangerous" because of the real uncertainties of an independent Palestinian State as well as needing to confront and move thousands of its "settlers" into "old Israel".

For the Palestinians such a peace would be "dangerous", because it would have to trust, despite its fears, that the areas proximate to Jerusalem and parts of Jerusalem itself would be subsequently negotiated upon, rather than losing these entire areas to permanent, unrestrained Israeli rule - as exists today.

For both sides - peace - would allow a life - that they have never had! I hope that Israel will resist the pressures of the United States and look out for its real interests by working incessantly for peace. Jewish Voice for Peace - - is a wonderful group and website - which strongly supports Jews and Israel, while not supporting the continued oppression of Palestinians.


No comments: