Now that Israel has evacuated from the Gaza Strip, we can forget about any serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has done all he is going to do. In the words of a close adviser published some months ago in Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, there will be no serious negotiations “until they (the Palestinians) turn into Finns.”
The Gaza Strip is 340 square miles and one of the most densely populated areas in the world. It is densely populated with Palestinian refugees driven from their homes by the Israelis. It will be a miracle if any kind of viable society can be created in such a small, resource-scarce area.
In the meantime, Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem get nothing. The minor settlements Sharon agreed to dismantle amount to about one bean in a Mexican restaurant’s crockpot. He has no intention of dismantling the large settlements, which contain about 250,000 Jews. He has no intention of halting the world-condemned fence that the Palestinians refer to as the “apartheid wall.” He is, after all, the father of those settlements and of the settlement movement.
In any other country, settlements in which only Jews are allowed to live, connected by roads that non-Jews are forbidden to use, would be cited as an example of discrimination, if not racism. Israel, however, is the grand exception to America’s morality and ethics. It does as it pleases, and the American government bows in assent, protects it from U.N. sanctions and writes annual checks that would be the envy of any charity in the world.
So what does this mean for us? Well, it means that one of the core causes of terrorism will not be solved. Terrorism is a low-grade military response to political problems. Until the political problems are resolved, there is no hope of ending terrorism. Palestinians are not going anywhere, and they are never going to accept as permanent the status of dogs in a poorly run kennel.
It’s difficult for Americans to realize the despair, frustration, humiliation and hardships that the Israelis impose on the Palestinians, who are innocent of anything except being born in the land of their ancestors land that is coveted by the Israelis. Palestinians long ago recognized Israel’s right to exist, but there will be no peace, and no end of terrorism, until the Israelis recognize the Palestinians’ right to a state of their own.
To do that would not require dismantling the settlements. The Israeli government could treat the Jewish settlers the same way it treated the Palestinians who refused to leave. It could redraw the boundaries and tell the Jewish settlers that they are welcomed to stay where they are, but they will be citizens of Palestine, not Israel. Of course, that won’t happen, either.
The saying that the friend of my enemy is my enemy is not exclusive to the Middle East. It is just common sense. If someone murdered my family and you helped him, then when I got the chance I would kill you both.
The American government, by allowing the Israelis to abuse the Palestinians, is accumulating an avalanche of hatred. In other words, our warped foreign policy vis-à-vis the Israelis and Palestinians is not a free lunch. We will pay for it. We already have, but that’s not nearly the end of it.
There is one consolation for the Christian cultists who believe it is their duty to love Israel. When they get blown up by a terrorist, they will at least have the knowledge that they died to support Israeli expansionism and a settler movement of religious fanatics who despise Christians even more than they hate Muslims.
And, of course, they had better pray very hard that after they are blown up, the God they meet answers to the name of Jehovah instead of Allah.