Friday, April 1, 2011

Guest Post

Dorothy Gotlieb

What Benjamin Netanyahu (Nitay) said, in 1978, is exactly what I project to be true –today.

There are Israelis and others who work diligently in Arab villages - within Israel- on issues of peace, as well as on human, economic and educational development. Some of these people, as well as others in Israel, would literally want their country to surrender more land than it has already, even Jerusalem, for a permanent peace. In light of history, that becomes an unfathomable stance. It is my perception that if Israel had one inch of land left, the Palestinians would demand it. That having been said, there is no possibility of peace - as we believe it should be - between Israel and the Palestinians. Period.

The following is - with my American value system – what it has taken me a good while to comprehend.

Based on what the Palestinians themselves have said, they stand for a One State solution – a Palestinian state. They most certainly do not stand for the always-proposed Two State solution, except perhaps as lip service. They have two proposals – either a Palestinian state and/or the “right of return.”

The One State solution involves the delegitimizing of, and subsequent elimination of Israel as an internationally recognized State, replacing it with a Palestinian state. The “right of return” would allow the Palestinians to return to Israel, unimpeded. If that were to happen, that population would overwhelm Israel, and the Palestinians would acquire Israel by default.

Don’t get me wrong…In the Middle East, there is always the possibility of peace, but it is not the American ideal of what the Middle Easterners call a Real Peace, e.g. two people in this country have an passionate disagreement, say, about which of two sports teams is the better. They go at it. Then, after awhile, one of them says, “Let’s go have a beer.” The other agrees, and they remain friends. In the Middle East, Peace is merely the temporary absence of War - with the constant prospect of more War.

This “Absence of War” type of peace is achieved when a perceived strong man takes power. As long he holds that power, even though others will challenge him – just as wolves in a wolf pack do to their lead wolf - they will only challenge him so far...unless they perceive a weakness, whereupon a challenger will attempt to overthrow the leader. This scenario is best understood in the context of the various countries in the Middle East that are currently undergoing regime or attempted regime change – and where the leader has either abdicated already, or is just hanging on.

This latest domino-type of unrest is striking. It suggests some sort of clandestine organized effort far behind the scenes, but perhaps it truly is only one country’s restive masses observing, via the Internet, neighboring countries’ restive masses’ success at overthrowing their dictators.

What unites the Middle East is a common religion, multi-faceted as it is, and an anti-Israel sentiment. What divides the Middle East is that everyone derives from a different tribe that wants its tribal leader to be in charge. After all, traditionally, the spoils belong to the victor, who will dole them out, accordingly, as one way to keep his followers loyal.

The constant picking at Israel, ranging from all-out war (Egypt '67, and the other battles, before and after) to the current-day continuous shelling by Hamas (with rockets acquired from Iran), indicates that either the “enemy” senses some weakness in the leadership of Israel that could allow it to "win," or for some internal reason, believes that it has to show its people some sort of action, so they continue to believe that those “in charge” are working toward stated goals.

Real peace, as we understand it from our country’s point of view, is, therefore, not possible in the Middle East...and without a real peace there is, inherently, and always, the constant threat of conflict. Because of that, the only peace that can work in the Middle East is the uneasy peace that has often been in place, and that is currently being challenged on many fronts.

In better times, when there were/are less attacks, and with less sophisticated weaponry, there were ongoing humanitarian/healthcare exchanges between the Palestinians and Israel - e.g. hurt or ill Palestinians coming to Israel for care (Israel has the only Arab marrow bank in the Middle East), the issuance of temporary work permits (for construction work in Israel, etc.), as well as other economic types of under-the-radar efforts. And, actually, at least the humanitarian/healthcare efforts still continue, even in the face of the heightened rhetoric and constant shelling into Israel.
There are 63 years of fomented hatred that have been kept alive among the Palestinians. Even the now-grown-up children know no other way. If anything, perhaps there should be a 3-state solution - Hamas, Fatah and Israel, like there sort of is, now. That way, the Palestinians will continue to fight amongst themselves and – in the best scenario - leave the State of Israel alone.

While that thought is somewhat facetious, there could have been another scenario, altogether, i.e., the Arab nations could have/should have originally taken in the Palestinians and integrated them. None of the other countries were, however, apparently willing to do that. There must be something in the Palestinian character that no one else wanted to integrate them, e.g. Jordan, which is adamantly opposed to dealing with them.

The Palestinians are a smart and vibrant people, with 11 universities, and thoroughly able to compete economically, if they would so choose - and, by the way, they do choose! Lest anyone think Palestinians continue to live in tents, just look at Ramallah -
where a 22-story World Trade Center is being built. It’s just that the Palestinians are apparently kept together, as a people, by their single-minded focus on the destruction of Israel.

If things remain as they are, the birthrate of the Israeli-citizen Arabs may well take over the population of the State of Israel anyway, considering the lack of birthing among Israel's general Jewish population - with the exception of the Ultra-Orthodox, most of whom don't believe in the State of Israel in the first place!

While I don't always agree with Mr. Netanyahu, I find him to be brilliant, gifted with an exceptional debating style, and an excellent politician - even when he loses. Of the several coming up the ranks behind him, no matter their political stripe, there is no question that they must show themselves to be as able and as strong-minded.

Israel – whose population consists of real people - is certainly not perfect, nor will it ever be – just like any other country. It should, therefore, not be held to a higher (moral?) standard than others, nor be required, by others, to employ their strategies to maintain its national integrity. It certainly has the right, and obligation to defend itself and its citizens, in its own well-considered way, in order to maintain its viability. It has given up, and been required by other nations to give up, more of its - especially strategic -territory, than any other country in history, yet without being able to achieve its ultimate obsession: Real Peace.

Israel, which does not ever take its legitimacy for granted, must fight to survive every single day. The maps tell the story about how tiny a country Israel truly is, and just how many around it want it gone.

If one looks at the numbers of people in the world available, at any time, to align with any anti-Israel cause, I am floored by the thought that any American would feel sorry for the "poor” Palestinians, and not be completely hawkish on the defense of the State of Israel - and most especially some in the comparatively miniscule American Jewish community, who, while bright in so many ways, are obviously short-memoried at best, and pie-in-the-sky self-loathers, at worst.

Dorothy Gotlieb is a former Colorado State Representative and Majority Whip, currently Advocacy Committee Co-Chairman, Colorado JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Council) and a professional colleague and friend of the Blogger.

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