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Could Sharon save us?

October 27th, 2004

The Israeli Parliament has voted to support Sharon’s plan for the removal of Israeli settlements from the Gaza strip, and also four of the least defensible settlements in the West Bank. It’s clear enough that Sharon does not intend this as the beginning of either a land-for-peace deal or a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank. Rather, the idea is to freeze the peace process and remove the obstacles to the annexation of large slabs of the West Bank.

But events have a dynamic of their own. Sharon has broken, probably decisively, with the settlers and may well be forced to break with the rejectionists among his own supporters, such as Netanyahu. He’s going to need support for the fight against them, which will be bitter and possibly bloody. He won’t get that support for a plan based on permanent occupation of large parts of the West Bank, with a wall/barrier/fence cutting a “Palestinian entity” into a series of separate Bantustans. But he probably could get it for something close to Clinton/Barak, with two contiguous states, and border adjustments that brought most of the big “suburban” settlements into Israel in return for a trade of unoccupied land elsewhere, with or without the agreement of Arafat. This kind of policy would drive a wedge into the settler bloc, separating the ideological supporters of Greater Israel from those who just want somewhere to live in peace.

Given the long and miserable history of this dispute, a bad outcome is more likely in the short run. But, as I pointed out a while back, this is a problem with only one solution, and everyone knows what it is (to within a few square kilometres and parenthetical clauses). Sooner or later, that’s where things will end up. Since every day that this goes on adds more recruits to the ranks of Al Qaeda, I hope it’s sooner rather than later. Withdrawal from Gaza is a step in the right direction.

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  1. Spiros
    October 27th, 2004 at 09:22 | #1

    It can only be a matter of time before the Greater Israel ideologues start labelling Sharon an anti-semite.

    This would be the reductio ad absurdum of their long used debating tactics. If the stakes were not so high, it would be funny as well.

  2. Michael Burgess
    October 27th, 2004 at 09:42 | #2

    The next US administration should certainly pressurise the Israeli government to go further than Sharon envisages and to completely withdraw from the occupied territories. However, if this is to work, Israel has to be guaranteed that it will not continue to be attacked. Apart from the removal of Arafat from all positions of influence (an essential step), it should be made clear to the Palestinians that this is a one-off offer and that every time a terrorist atrocity occurs some Palestinian land will become permanently part of Israel. This puts the pressure back on the Palestinian administration to do something constructive about terrorism and about nation building. Another perquisite should be an to the anti-Semitic bile that is teached as a matter of course in Palestinian schools. Teaching kids that the Jews are subhuman and drink human blood etc is hardly a recipe for future peace.

  3. Paul Norton
    October 27th, 2004 at 09:50 | #3

    “it should be made clear to the Palestinians that every time a terrorist atrocity occurs some Palestinian land will become permanently part of Israel.”

    Which of course would provide an incentive to the terrorists as the long-run result of such a policy would be the annexation of sufficient Palestinian territory to create a combined Israeli Arab and Palestinian electoral majority within Israel, resulting in the election of Arafat or his successor as Israeli Prime Minister!

  4. Paul Norton
    October 27th, 2004 at 10:05 | #4

    But seriously, the moral asymmetry of MB’s suggested approach is glaring.

    On the one hand the rest of the world should accept and respect the Israeli voters’ choice of the deeply flawed Sharon, and others even more extreme, to govern Israel, but on the other the deeply flawed Arafat is to be removed from all positions of influence regardless of the fact that he has been elected to the Presidency by the Palestinians themselves.

    On the one hand there is to be a collective sanction (permanent loss of territory) against all Palestinians for the terrorist crimes of individuals (shades of the anti-semitic doctrine of the “collective guilt” of all Jews for the crime of Caiaphas, Annas and their mates in 29AD), yet on the other there are to be no sanctions against Israel for particular actions of its government or military.

    Of course MB is not unique in this unwillingness by some supporters of Israel to accept that common moral and legal benchmarks must apply to all sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict. And no doubt a similar criticism can be made of some Palestine barrackers.

  5. Doucouliagos
    October 27th, 2004 at 10:16 | #5

    Michael, can you please explain why it is necessary to introduce collective punishment as a strategy? If anyone advocated that a Jewish house be destroyed every time a settler took a shot at a Palestinian farmer, it would be seen as excessive response. Do we punish all yeshiva students when some of them spit on Christian processions? or when some of them throw stones at Palestinian children? Your suggestion of taking land permanently from Palestinians may raise the suspicion to some that: (a) the underlying rational of Israel’s preemptive attack on Arab countries and the subsequent occupation was all about taking more land from Palestinians rather than to do with matters of security; and (b) somehow all Palestinians are to blame (which surely borders on racism) – for Jews an injury to one is an injury to all, for Palestinians an injury from one is an injury from all? We would correctly never accept this approach with regards to Jews and should not tolerate it as a strategy for anyone else. All Palestinians are not responsible for terror and continued murder of Jewish civilians, just as all Israelis are not responsible for their government’s policy failures.

  6. Michael Burgess
    October 27th, 2004 at 11:19 | #6

    The majority of Palestinians support suicide bombing and therefore have to face some punishment for their complicity in this action. If, for example, Germany kept invading France, the latter would be entitled to keep some or all of the German land it obtained in a counter offensive as a buffer against further aggression. Remember Israel only has to lose one war and the Arabs will ensure it ceases to exist as a nation and, if their past actions and rhetoric are anything to go by, will wipe out as many Jews as possible.

    In any case, what I am proposing is two separate states where the Palestinians have all the land that was taken from them returned to them and keep it as long as they keep their side of the bargain. The fact that there is such hostility to this proposal is basically an acknowledgement by Palestinian supporters that Palestinians cannot be trusted to maintain their side of the bargain. Which is clearly indicated by what Arafat says in Arabic to his own supporters as opposed to what he says in English when speaking to the international community.

    The references to Jews attacking Palestinians is simply ridiculous and racist in that these are relatively isolated incidents compared to the continued violence on the Palestinian side. It is basically akin to a defender of the status quo in the Arab world referring to an isolated incident of female violence against a male every time someone refers to how women are treated in Islamic societies.

  7. October 27th, 2004 at 11:26 | #7

    JQ, you are a hopeless optimist. A two state “solution” is no solution. Your “everybody knows” solution rests on the assumption that there is a method of peaceful co-existence. There isn’t (though there isn’t space enough here for a demonstration).

  8. Spiros
    October 27th, 2004 at 11:43 | #8

    Michael, how do you know the majority of Palestinians support suicide bombing? Did A.C. Neilsen do a poll? I’m not talking about members of Hamas, just the millions of ordinary Palestinans who just try to lead ordinary lives as best they can. I suggest to you that if the Israelis were no longer ruling them, they would not be supporting suicide bombers. Why should they?

    And this fear about Israel losing a war to the Arabs is just ridiculous. Israel has more military might than all the Arab countries put together, with plenty to spare. Israel could beat all of them in a war without raising a sweat. And that is not even counting Israel’s nukes.

    This rhetoric about poor little Israel, facing mortal danger from hundreds of millions of Arabs, all by itself, just doesn’t wash anymore. It was credible when Golda Meier was Prime Minister, but today Israel is the Middle East’s superpower, and it has the unconditional support of the United States.

  9. Michael Burgess
    October 27th, 2004 at 12:04 | #9

    Well Spiros here are some inconvenient facts. Palestinian opinions on relations with Israel were published in 2001 by the Jerusalem Media Centre. It is the 41st such poll carried out by the centre.

    79 percent of Palestinians support the Intifada, representing a rise from 70.1 percent in December 2000 – 68.6 percent say they support suicide attacks against Israelis, – although I gather this figure has now lowered as the futility has become increasinly obvious.

    Moreover only 45.6 percent cited their support for the Intifada as being based on an end to “the Israeli occupation” and the setting up a Palestinian state, as declared by the Palestinian leadership. 41.2 percent said that the goal of the current Intifada is a “complete liberation of Palestinian land” – that is the destruction of the state of Israel.

  10. Spiros
    October 27th, 2004 at 12:19 | #10

    If this opinion polling is accurate, it is all the more reason to have the two peoples living in two separate countries, separated, if need be, by a big wall between Israel (as per the 1967 borders. maybe with minor adjustments) and the West Bank and Gaza.

    As for the Palestinians who dream on about complete liberation, as long as they don’t act on their thoughts, they are relatively harmless. Eventually, if they actually have a country of their own, reality will sink in just as it has for Germans who dreamt on about getting back East Prussia.

  11. Doucouliagos
    October 27th, 2004 at 12:34 | #11

    Michael, I am at a loss at how you can draw the inferences you draw from my post. I said nothing against the two state solution – I was making a genuine enquiry about your collective punishment prescription. You seem to react with hostility even to simple questions (or maybe it’s the way I am reading your post).

    My reference to some Jews attacking Palestinians is not as you state “simply ridiculous” It’s a fact. You make – correctly – a big deal about the getting the facts right in this conflict. Yet, your reactions are contradictory.

    You also accuse me of been a racist. Once again, its not possible to even raise an issue that may appear to be questioning or even criticizing Israel, without the racist (anti-semitic) remark coming into play. This is the way many on the left react (“fascist”, “Zionist”, etc.) and your responses are, unfortunately, identical.

    I asked you a simple and sincere question. I wish to be informed and understand. Your responses are standard – accuse the inquirer of racism, ridicule their questions, “what about the other side?”, “they started it first”, etc.

    Anyway, I hope John is right and the disengagement plan is the start of a permanent peaceful resolution to this conflict. Far too many Jews and Palestinians have perished in this. And, until the conflict ends, it will never be possible for Israel to be the catalyst for regional growth, democracy and prosperity that it certainly has the potential to be.

  12. October 27th, 2004 at 12:52 | #12

    The trouble with Palestinian politics is that, whilst most Arab nationalists just want to live their lives in peace in a land they call their own, Islamic fundamenalists want to anihilate Israel. As far as I can see, Hamas want the Israeli state out of Palestine, which they define by its 1949, not 1967, borders.
    Would a unilateral withdrawal of Israel from the Occupied Territories satisfy the Islamic fundamentalists? Rabin made the first real moves in this direction. For his troubles he was assasinated by a Judaic fundamentalist.
    This did not stop the Israeli side from pursuing a settlement. The the details of a Peace for Land deal were hammered out by Barak/Clinton.
    It was the rejected Islamic fundamentalists who are the dyanamic political force behind Arafat. Hence Intifada II.
    So what evidence is there, apart from the military defeats their fighters have suffered and civil demoralisation that their supporters have experienced, that Hamas have changed their view?

  13. Michael Burgess
    October 27th, 2004 at 13:36 | #13

    Doucouliagos my criticism of you and others for emphasising issues such as Jews attacking Palestinians or other supposed atrocities committed by Israeli’s relates to the massive lack of context it implies. Yes individual Jews do behave badly and the government often behaves badly and makes serious errors. However, to see some kind of moral equivalence in this with endemic Palestinian violence is ridiculous and taking the current fashionable moral relativism to the extreme. You will be blaming the allies next for the second world war on the grouds that allied soldiers were also often guilty of human rights abuses.

    Spiros, re your comments ‘As for the Palestinians who dream on about complete liberation, as long as they don’t act on their thoughts’. So all the bombings etc never happened – Arab nations never threatened to invade Israel and the Arab media did not encourage Arab soldiers to murder any Jew they came across, an Arab TV is not filled with vile anti-Semitism etc etc.

  14. evan jones
    October 27th, 2004 at 13:57 | #14

    If the supporters of Israel came straight to the point and claimed the lands of Eretz Israel for ethnic jews as a historic right, then we could clear away the rotting garbage, the endless misinformation that hovers over the barbarism of the Israeli state.
    Clear away the hasbara that defends the indefensible.
    There is nothing legitimate about the occupation. There is nothing legitimate about the 1967 borders. There is nothing legitimate about the 1949 borders.
    Israel is a state built and nurtured on terrorism and ethnic cleansing. Every prime minister since Ben Gurion has shared a common purpose, albeit with variations of strategy.
    Israel has supported any Palestinian movement that was non secular (Hamas, Sons of Palestine)and that would undermine the PLO.
    Then since Oslo, after the showing of the Territory representatives under Ashrawi at the Madrid Conference in which Shamir lost the propaganda war, the PLO and Arafat have effectively been a convenient surrogate ‘leadership’ in the territories to inhibit effective change, and a convenient whipping boy for the Israel lobby.
    The Israeli state has destroyed the means to Palestinian livelihoods, destoyed Palestinian infrastructure and continues to destroy any possibility of a normal life to the Palestinian population. For what? having the temerity to be a majority population on the land desired by the Zionists.
    Ethnic cleansing pure and simple.
    WIth massive adverse effects globally.
    THere are other atrocities and other ethnic cleansings, but this one thrives with Western funding and moral support.
    So much for this bullshit about moral equivalence.

  15. Michael Burgess
    October 27th, 2004 at 15:12 | #15

    Evan, With rhetoric like that you should try for a job with the Green/Left weekly.

  16. Doucouliagos
    October 27th, 2004 at 15:42 | #16

    Michael. If a two-state solution is implemented and adequate resources are invested in making the Palestinian state and the terror continues, then your collective punishment would be valid. That is, if the Palestinian state was encouraging (either by word or deed) military or terrorist activities against Israel and her citizens, then Israel would be entitled to respond against the Palestinian state. However, to simply state – like you did – that if the terror continues then all Palestinians must be punished is a different beast. You talk about putting Israeli violence into context, yet Palestinian violence should also be taken into context. There is absolutely no reason to expect that Hamas et al will not try to destabilize a newly emerging Palestinian state and that they will not try to continue with their anti-Jewish activities. A Palestinian state would have to cope with this threat, which hopefully will diminish over time, as democracy takes hold and Palestinians see alternatives to resistance. Israel and other countries would have to assist with this. In this context the terrorists will have to be treated like criminals or combatants. But the argument that if terror continues – which it will – then all Palestinians will suffer is akin to giving the terrorists veto (think of Sharon’s tactics about a year ago and you see the vintage). Yours is a recipe for endless war.

    I find your moral equivalence mantra unconvincing – its also part of the standard attack against anyone who even raises a question (let alone criticises Israeli policies). Michael, there can be no question that: (a) Israel is by far the most democratic regime in the region, by a very long shot; (b) Israeli response to terror could have been far greater in terms of military confrontation. Any careful reading shows that Israel has exercised significant restraint; (c) Arabs in Israel face better treatment than they do in many other Arab countries. We can agree on this. None of this however justifies collective punishment of Palestinians nor the continual military occupation. Palestinians have as much right to security as do Jews (or is that an unwarranted moral equivalence argument)

    Please show me why I am a racist and why I am advocating moral equivalence? I ask this sincerely, and not as a provocation. And, I don’t know where you got the notion that I said anything about Jewish atrocities. I was merely stating that we would not advocate collective punishment on Jews, so why would we do so on Palestinians, or anyone else for that matter. Some hyped up fanatic decides to commit murder and Israel punishes all Palestinians. End the occupation, put the onus on the Palestinian State, give that State support, give the Palestinians a viable alternative. If they continue with their terror, that would win Israel a lot more support from people.

  17. Jeff Harvey
    October 27th, 2004 at 15:53 | #17

    Here are some vital statistics for Michael to digest published in a recent article (mid-October) in the British Medical Journal by a British physician who visited the occupied territories in March and recorded the abysmal state of medical care under Israeli occupation. Derek Summerfield counts the numbers of Palestinian children (621, two-thirds of them under the age of 15) killed since the intifada began four years ago; notes that over half of these children were shot in the head, neck, or chest (“the sniper’s wound,” he says); enumerates the numbers of innocent bystanders (186), including women and children (26 and 39), killed in Israeli assassination operations; recounts the documented cases (87, including 30 children) in which denial of access to medical treatment has led directly to death; notes that 97 primary health clinics and 11 hospitals are isolated by the wall from the populations they are supposed to serve; reports that twenty percent of Palestinian children under the age of five are anaemic and another almost one-quarter are acutely or chronically undernourished. Finally, he observes poignantly that these statistics attract far less publicity than the suicide bombings carried out in desperation by Palestinians (and now — one might add — by Iraqis, Afghanis, occasional Saudis, and possibly other nationalities in locations as widely scattered as Taba and Jakarta).

    Clearly, the term “state-terrorism” does not occur in MB’s lexicon. Its time that it did. I couldn’t believe it when he said recently that the slaughter of Palestinian children is “regretted” by the Israeli leadership. What utter nonsense. Many (most?) of these killings are deliberate. The Palestinians are effectively living in a dungeon. Sharon’s aim is to ensure that there will never be a Palestinian state. But until industrial state terrorism – exactly the kind perpetrated by the United States in much of the world and Israel against the Palestinians – is acknowledged, then we will see the slaughter continue.

  18. observa
    October 27th, 2004 at 16:06 | #18

    You can forget peace in Palestine until Palestinians accept they and their allies lost the Six Day War. You may recall that time when a million Arab troops massed on Israel’s border and Nasser told the UN to piss off and have another meeting. The Palestinians salivated at the thought of their agreed final solution. Redraw Israel’s borders to zero. Now the wall is the only viable option for Israel, although it will still have to deal with incoming rockets and mortars from the disappointed.

    Palestinians may only sue for peace when it is clear they have no friends left. To this end, the slow building of reasonably civil societies in Afghanistan and Iraq has begun. When Palestinians remain in the only patch of darkness in the ME, they may see the light. Until then it’s a wall and retaliatory strikes while waiting patiently for hell to freeze over.

  19. Michael Burgess
    October 27th, 2004 at 16:18 | #19

    Doucouliagos, you seem to forget that Israel has offered reasonable peace deals on several occasions the time at the Clinton peace talks when Ehud Barak was leader. Arafat’s rejection and the subsequent violence he orchestrated (along with further revelations of corruption in the Palestinian authority)alienated even many of the more naive members of Israel’s large peace movement.

    Re your reference to ‘Some hyped up fanatic decides to commit murder and Israel punishes all Palestinians. This is simply incorrect – First, the hyped up fanatic is not acting in isolation and the actions are supported by the vast majority of Palestinians and their leadership. Second, flattening the houses of suicide bombers, bomb making factories and houses used by terrorists is hardly unjustified collective punishment nor is taking out the odd hamas leader who hide among civilian population. For all its faults, Israel response to the terror it has faced has been generally restrained by international standards, including those of other democratic countries.

    Finally, Muslims in general (or, at least, Arabs) need to grow-up and stop blaming Jews or the west for their problems. The pathetic state of all Arab societies and most Muslim societies suggest that they should start to take some responsibility for their own political, economic and culture failures.

  20. Fyodor
    October 27th, 2004 at 17:55 | #20

    MB,

    Nothing justifies the deliberate killing of civilians, and, yes, many of them are totally innocent. I don’t care whether the Palestinians support Arafat, suicide bombings or the Boston Redsox, the IDF is operating well beyond the bounds of acceptable military conduct in attacking civilian targets. We would not tolerate such conduct from any Western democratic country, and the constant criticism of the IDF that you describe as “anti-semitism” proves this.

    You argue that:

    “Muslims in general (or, at least, Arabs) need to grow-up and stop blaming Jews or the west for their problems. The pathetic state of all Arab societies and most Muslim societies suggest that they should start to take some responsibility for their own political, economic and culture failures.”

    Yet it’s very clear what the problems are for the Palestinians, and their origin. How are they supposed to take responsibility for their own government if the IDF won’t take the jackboot off their neck?

    Muslims don’t blame the jews or the West for all of their problems. However, they certainly blame them for the pathetic state of the Palestinians, and they have a point.

  21. Michael Burgess
    October 27th, 2004 at 22:07 | #21

    Fyodor, I am not sure what world you live in when you say Muslims don’t blame the Jews or the West for all of their problems. A typical example is the jailing of a newspaper editor and other staff in Pakistan and his threatened execution and the closing down of a newspaper. The crime publishing a letter that mildly rebuked Pakistanis for the appalling anti-Semitism that is rampant in that country. Contrast, with the broad range of opinion found in Israel. The UN conference on racism was another example – which was captured by Muslims nations and fellow travellers and quickly deteriorated in one of the worst Jewish hate fests seen since the Second World War.

  22. Doucouliagos
    October 27th, 2004 at 23:01 | #22

    Dear Michael, I have asked you questions, and each time you chose not to answer them. Instead you move on to a different topic.

    You wrote: “you seem to forget that Israel has offered reasonable peace deals on several occasions the time at the Clinton peace talks when Ehud Barak was leader. Arafat’s rejection ….” Talk about subject change!!!! If you are an academic, I hope that you have a greater propensity to answer questions than you display here. We were talking about collective punishment and now you are talking about peace deals.

    Following your lead Michael, you seem to forget that Israel was offered reasonable peace deals on several occasions (dating as far back as 1948) but her policy makers failed to take these opportunities (e.g. 1948 from Syria, 1971 from Eqypt etc). Moreover, Israel has a history of breaking agreements – its not just Arafat that cant be trusted. Would you buy a used car from Sharon? Sad to say Michael, but Israeli policy makers are not immune from judgment errors, strategic mistakes nor opportunism.

  23. michaelh
    October 27th, 2004 at 23:22 | #23

    Finger-pointing is fun, but not very helpful.

    I’m no fan of Sharon, but a plan that upsets the fundamentalists on either side must have some small thing going for it. I just hope that this small step isn’t a final step.

    After the last few years of nothing much constructive happening, there seems to be good reason to support this plan.

    While both sides have had their moments of intransigence; the famous Arab 3 no’s, and the much less well-known Israeli 4 no’s, there has been progress even if it seems glacial.

    Taba in 2001 eventually touched on issues that not even Oslo had not broached. I’d like to think that this has set things in motion that can’t be stopped and that even Sharon can see this.

  24. October 28th, 2004 at 01:48 | #24

    By the way, something John says in his post is pretty important. (2nd to last paragraph) In 1950s Algeria, it was ultimately the extreme radicalism of the colons and their supporters in the military that allowed a nationalist like DeGaulle command overwhelming mainstream support for withdrawal from Algeria.

    The furor over the Gaza withdrawal will likely create the same dynamic in Israel. Hopefully it will be largely free of bloodshed.

  25. brian McKinlay
    October 28th, 2004 at 02:44 | #25

    Writing in today” Anti-Wra” website in the USA, an Israeli writer ,Uri Avnery,sees the possibility of Civil War breaking out in Israel. He claims that the fanatical settlers on the West Bank are urging the Israeli military to revolt against Sharon,and they hope to force him from office in a military confrontation. The ultra-religious Jewish groups amongst the settlers are not prepared for any compromise and ,according to Avnery,brand Sharon as weak and an appeaser.Odd when one remembers Sharon’s close involvement in the terrible massacre of Palestinians in 1985 at Shatila Camp in Beirut. Avernery sees this crisis as threatening the very survival of the Jewish state itself.

  26. October 28th, 2004 at 22:36 | #26

    Having watched fog of war last night,I reckon that curtis lemay would have nuked all of them-a final solution and the only solution.
    All palestinians,jewish and arab are mad-we’d be better off without them.

  27. November 1st, 2004 at 23:56 | #27

    Within ten years arabs will outnumber jews in israel.
    Only then we will see change.

  28. Andrew
    November 2nd, 2004 at 13:15 | #28

    Can someone please explain it to me? I read discussions like on this blog or in the news media and I do not understand why it is that there is so little discussion devoted to the current circumstances the Palestinians find themselves in.

    The Gaza Strip has the third highest population density of any country in the world with 3,681 people per square kilometer of total land area. Total includes land currently occupied by Israeli settlements. Gaza is behind Hong Kong (6,579) and Singapore (6,377), both are significant trade gateways supporting much of their excess population. The West Bank has 410 people per square kilometer and Israel 305.

    The Gaza strip has an equivalent population density of putting the entire Australian population in a 5,410 square kilometer area, an area just over twice the size of the Australian Capital Territory at 2,358 square kilometers. All of us in a land with equivalent natural resources to the ACT, no iron ore, no coal, no beef, no vast fields of wheat.

    According to the CIA World Facts book the combined West Bank and Gaza exports were $603 and consisted primarily of olives, fruit, vegetables and limestone. Imports were $1.9 billion.

    The Gaza Strip had a per capita GDP of $600 in 2003, the West Bank $800 in 2002. Israel had $19,800, Australia had $29,000 and Somalia had $500. Even the Jordanians managed a per capita GDP of $4,300. (CIA World Factbook)

    Palestinian Bureau of Statistics puts the rate of unemployment in The Gaza Strip at 44.1% and the West Bank at 30%

    The change in Palestinian circumstances, their dispossession from what is now Israel, is recent. A twenty-year-old can look at an Israeli farm and say ‘that was my father’s farm, his father built that fence, his father built the house, it would have been mine’.

    Almost every Palestinian family living in Gaza or the West Bank will have had a member killed by the Israelis since 1947.

    The Palestinians do not live in North Korea and they see how we in the west live. They have satellite TV and DVDs. They also visit Israel. In 2003 there were 145,000 Internet users in the West Bank (CIA World Factbook).

    If you could separate the factors that contribute to the hatred the Palestinians have for the Israelis into religious and current circumstances couldn’t most of the hatred be explained simply by current circumstances? How will statehood affect current Palestinian circumstances?

    Why are we surprised that it is the young, educated and ambitious who blow themselves up? They hit the ceiling first.

    Why do we feel the need to explain the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in religious terms when it is so clearly a conflict over access to resources?

  29. Fyodor
    November 2nd, 2004 at 16:07 | #29

    Because religion determines access to those resources.

  30. George the Taxi Driver
    November 4th, 2004 at 12:43 | #30

    Hear hear to Andrew and his comments about the circumstances of the Palestinians.The Palestinian people have not just bled literally, they are being destroyed economically and culturally. They cannot possibly reverse this process without significant outside help.
    The only possibility for a peaceful settlement between Palestine and Israel is for the Israelis and their US sponsors to openly recognise this economic and social destruction of the Palestinian people and to put in place a long term plan of infrastructure development and intensive education of Palestinian youth.
    An agreement about land is only one step. The Palestinian people must be put back on their feet after decades of misery and this must be done whatever the cost. The US government no longer cares about deficits so let them dig deep to put right the consequences of their proxy war against Palestine.

  31. Doucouliagos
    November 4th, 2004 at 22:20 | #31

    Andrew, while agreeing with your sentiments regarding the plight of Palestinians (although hard to reconcile the DVDs and poverty scenario – I know what you are trying to say), you seem to place all the onus on Israel and the US. Israel has failed dismally to resolve the situation, as has the US. Yet the Arab nations deserve as much criticism, if not more. For example, try not to forget the role that Jordan played in the plight of the Palestinians.

    Andrew states: “Almost every Palestinian family living in Gaza or the West Bank will have had a member killed by the Israelis since 1947.� Andrew, please don’t discount the toll on Israelis.

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