Sunday, September 18, 2011

More heat than light in Palestinian-Israeli conflict


The governments of Israel and the United States publicly contend that the United Nations recognizing a Palestinian state poses a security threat to Israel. Arguments like that represent emotion rather than rational thought.

Given #1: Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians will vacate the land in the Middle East that they now occupy unless coerced to do so. That is not going to happen. In other words, Israelis and Palestinians must recognize this reality and learn to co-exist. The only hope for peace is for both Israelis and Palestinians to accept the other’s presence.

Given #2: Israel, in many ways, legally discriminates against non-Jewish citizens and has committed itself to remaining a Jewish state, i.e., perpetuating the identity of Arabs as second-class citizens. The only hope for justice in the Middle East is for the Palestinians and Israelis to each have their own state.

Given #3: Talks intended to establish a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have failed. Over three decades of negotiations, dating back at least to President Carter and the Camp David accords, have not generated sufficient momentum to achieve a two state solution.

Given #4: Israel benefits by postponing formation of a Palestinian state, continuously nibbling away through settlements, wall encroachments, and other means at territory that the United Nations intended to be part of the Palestinian homeland. The Palestinians achieve nothing by postponing formation of their own state. Indeed, formation of a Palestinian state will impose the responsibilities and accountabilities of nationhood on the Palestinians, moving them away from terrorism by investing them in preserving the new status quo.

Given #5: The United States will not allow Israel to vanish or Jews to endure another holocaust. In fact, Israel will possess more military might than any Palestinian state will for decades.

So why the dishonesty by the United States (and Israel) in declarations about the Palestinian bid for United Nations recognition? The Palestinian bid for statehood recognized by the United Nations affords the U.S. an excellent opportunity to affirm the right of all people to self-governance (i.e., democracy), to stand firmly and publicly with Arabs, and to support justice. Opposing the Palestinian bid for recognition is simply wrong, morally and pragmatically.

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