There is a clear way forward for Israelis and Palestinians

Good News From the Middle East (Really) – NYTimes.com

Both sides need to emphasize their commitment to a genuine two-state solution with an independent, sovereign Palestine living alongside Israel in peace and security. Ambiguity on this point for cynical political purposes is destroying confidence on both sides in the capacity of the other to compromise. At least since the Camp David talks of 2000, both parties have argued one line in public and another behind closed doors, an unhappy tactic that has been underscored by Al Jazeera’s release of the alleged diplomatic documents.

Polls show that a majority of Israelis and Palestinians say they both want a two-state solution, but also say they believe the other side is lying. Peace will not come if politicians refuse to prepare their citizens for it through clear and consistent language. Officially produced Israeli and Palestinian advertisements and maps that depict Israel as Palestine and vice versa must also be put to an end.

The other step is even more difficult to achieve, because it requires the softening of hearts. In 1997, a Jordanian soldier murdered seven Israel schoolgirls who were on an outing on an island in the Jordan River. King Hussein of Jordan crossed the border and visited the families of the girls to apologize for their deaths. In Israeli eyes, this simple act of compassion transformed the king from an enemy into a hero.

Imagine, then, what would happen if Mahmoud Abbas were to visit Israel and tell Israelis he acknowledges that they have national and historical rights on the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, and that he understands their suffering. And imagine what would happen if Benjamin Netanyahu were to visit Ramallah, acknowledge Palestinian suffering and also Palestinian national and historical rights, particularly to a country of their own, on their native land.

The two of us have been following the Middle East peace talks for years, and we are not naïve about the chances for peace. We disagree on a dozen aspects of this conflict, which is not surprising for an Arab and a Jew. But we also know that giving up or walking away is not an option, because the alternative to compromise is the abyss.


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32 comments on “There is a clear way forward for Israelis and Palestinians

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  1. The authors write:
    “And imagine what would happen if Benjamin Netanyahu were to visit Ramallah, acknowledge Palestinian suffering and also Palestinian national and historical rights, particularly to a country of their own, on their native land.”

    The answer to their implicit question was given by Edward Said, among others, when Israel left Lebanon in 2000. According to Wikipedia:
    “A photograph taken on July 3, 2000, of Said in South Lebanon throwing a stone across the Lebanon-Israel border drew criticism from some political and media commentators, some of whom decried the act as ‘terrorist sympathizing.’.[97] Said explained the act as a stone-throwing contest with his son, and called it a symbolic gesture of joy at the end of Israel’s occupation of Lebanon. ‘It was a pebble. There was nobody there. The guardhouse was at least half a mile away.'[98] Although he denied aiming the rock at anyone, an eyewitness account in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir asserted that Said had been less than 30 feet (9.1 m) from Israeli soldiers manning a two-story watchtower when he aimed the rock over the border fence, though it instead hit barbed-wire.[99]”

    Whenever Israel makes any sort of concession, as happened in Lebanon in 2000, in Gaza in 2005, etc, anti-Israel hatred zooms up.

  2. George Jochnowitz wrote:

    Whenever Israel makes any sort of concession, as happened in Lebanon in 2000, in Gaza in 2005, etc, anti-Israel hatred zooms up.

    George, you start with the assumption that Israel is hated to a degree unmatched in history.
    So how much can hatred zooooooooooooom from an act of kindness?
    And why should it even matter since the hatred is already at 18 on a scale of 1 to 10 ?

  3. @ George Jochnowitz:
    I think not, George. Any increase in anti-Israeli feeling is related to
    a) general disgust that the situation never improves, and
    b) some really lousy actions, policies and politicians in Israel.

    Israel used to get much recognition and respect for being underdogs fighting long odds and with their backs to the wall.

    Now, the Israelis look like bullies.

  4. @ fuster:
    During ther War of Independence and the 1956 Sinai Campaign, Israel was significantly less restrained than it is now. The world was partially pro-Israel during those years.
    Israel’s big victories during the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War hardly changed attitudes towards Israel. When the first settlements appeared in 1967, and when the government allowed them in response to the Three No’s of Khartoum, nobody complained.
    When Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, mothers were cited as saying they looked forward to the day when their sons would die in a jihad against Israel. That was the first time I remember reading anything like that.
    Nothing, nothing, nothing made Israel look more like a bully than unilaterally leaving Gaza.

  5. George Jochnowitz wrote:

    When the first settlements appeared in 1967, and when the government allowed them in response to the Three No’s of Khartoum, nobody complained.

    I think that complaints are on record George, at least from the 70s on.

  6. George Jochnowitz wrote:

    they were not the obsession of everybody in the world, as they are today.

    You take your theory to absurd extremes. It seems to be a strategy for minimizing all possible Israeli faults.

    Why should Israel consult the opinion of non-Israelis anyway before doing what’s right? It’s not right to occupy other people’s land. It’s not good to take on the role of oppressor and thief. That should be reason enough, unless you can show how dealing with it somehow leads to even worse things. How some implacably hostile obsessive “feels” about it should be the very last thing anyone takes note of.

  7. When China pulls out of Tibet, and Russia out of Chechnya, due consideration will be given, but not before. Al Guardian sinks to a new low, promoting a supporter of suicide bombers like Honderich, Israel in it’s current incarnation is a fairly new nation on the block as we were right after the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo, a couple of Seminole Wars,
    a scuffle with the Mother Country, and the extents troubles in the
    Mexican region

  8. @ CK MacLeod:
    It’s the Palestinians who have been fighting against the creation of an independent state. They could have had one many times, starting in 1947.

    @ fuster:
    The settlements wouldn’t have become a gangrenous mess if the Palestinians had accepted independence.

  9. @ George Jochnowitz:
    Right, because the Palestinians, working hand in hand with visiting Israel-haters, built the settlements themselves, then forced unwilling Israelis to settle in them. You’ve got to feel sorry for those settlers, who are constantly putting down their machine guns and trying to sneak back into Israel, only to be forced by cruel Palestinians and the Israel-hating volunteers of the world back into the land they really don’t want to occupy at all.

  10. The record of the ’47-48, and ’67 war is clear; I’ll leave out ’56, because the provocation was lesser, but recall it was Fedayeen attacks based from Nasser’s Egypt, that ultimately led to that
    denoument. In the interim you had the German security diaspora,
    building a chemical rocket program, to target Israel, the precursor
    to what Saddam would do with the Condor in the 80s, and the
    Tammuz 16 earlier in the cycle.

  11. @ CK MacLeod:
    You’re being silly. When it seemed that there could never be an agreement, after the Three No’s of Khartoum, it was natural for Israel to allow setlements.
    It was Israel that ended the settlements in Gaza. It was Israel that dismantled a few settlements on the West Bank in 2005, as a possible beginning to a second withdrawal. It was Hamas that began launching rockets, thus warning the Israelis that putting major population centers within easy reach of rockets would be a mistake.
    Your irony is a method that you use to protect yourself from noticing reality.

  12. @ George Jochnowitz:
    George, you’re gonna have to accept the point that Israel no longer is sure that it wants peace with an independent Palestine because it means Israel will have to go to war with the little terrorists in the territories.

    Sure the Palestinians were wrong, but now we’ve got two wrongs and it’s not going to get easier to make it right.

    The Israelis don’t have too much time to waste before they must put paid to those creeps screaming “price tag”.

  13. @ miguel cervantes:
    You are correct that fedayeen attacks led to the 1956 war.

    @ fuster:
    The Israelis are trying. They’ve dealt with the settlements before. They would do it again if they could have recognition, peace, and reasonable boundaries.

  14. When it seemed that there could never be an agreement, after the Three No’s of Khartoum, it was natural for Israel to allow setlements.

    So, now it’s “natural”? No one actually had to make any decisions, or take responsibility for decisions – the settlements just grew up out of the ground naturally and sprouted settlers?

    I think Israelis made decisions of various types, and are responsible for them and the results – for their share, no more and no less, in creating the current predicament. I also recall that many Israelis back in the ’70s especially really did believe in “Greater Israel” and went about seeking to establish the “facts on the ground,” as the phrase went, that would make it irreversible.

    It was Israel that ended the settlements in Gaza. It was Israel that dismantled a few settlements on the West Bank in 2005, as a possible beginning to a second withdrawal.

    Barring an invasion from the mass of 6 billion obsessed Israel-haters, who else was going to remove them?

    What diverted this discussion into the realm of absurdities was your reaction to the suggestion that Netanyahu’s government or any Israeli government removed all ambiguity from its intentions, and acknowledged in a humane and civilized manner the Palestinian side. Your response was to bring up that irrelevant Said incident and start playing the “Nobody loves us, everybody hates us” tune. Right action is right action regardless of what the world’s real or theoretical obsessives say about it. To refrain from doing the right thing because the mad and the evil might disapprove is to yield control to evil and madness.

  15. No, they arose from the Soviet Union, after Jackson Vanik, from Yemen, and other Arab countries that had expelled Jews from their metropoli, you didn’t forget the ‘Zionism is Racism’ gig, did you that
    was in effect for nearly 20 years, at the UN

  16. CK MacLeod wrote:

    I also recall that many Israelis back in the ’70s especially really did believe in “Greater Israel” and went about seeking to establish the “facts on the ground,” as the phrase went, that would make it irreversible.

    Nowhere near as many then. The settlements weren’t thought of as irreversible then. They were a tactic to press back against Arab intransigence.

  17. @ fuster:
    I was an iddy-biddy baby, so I don’t trust myself on the dates: I could be thinking of things I heard in the early ’80s, that were then re-affirmed by some Eretzish types – one in particular whom I used to work with in the same office. The more widely asked question, as I recall, was whether or not that really was the Israeli intention – whether the government would look the other way because secretly it shared or at least sympathized with the aim.

  18. @ CK MacLeod:

    “To refrain from doing the right thing”? You know from reading me over the past few years that I am in favor of a compromise and a Palestinian state.
    I referred to Said et al because it is important to recognize the unique nature of anti-Israel sentiment, which is the reason that there is no Palestine today. If you ignore the intensity of the Israel haters, you are making it harder to reach a solution.

    @ miguel cervantes:
    You are right to bring up the “Zionism is racism” resolution–an illustration of how Israel has been singled out.

  19. George Jochnowitz wrote:

    You know from reading me over the past few years that I am in favor of a compromise and a Palestinian state.

    Actually, I don’t know that at all. One might like to assume that, but one’s assumptions often turn out to be wrong. The vast majority of your comments emphasize your apparent belief in the counter-productiveness and absurdity of all Israeli concessions, compromises, gestures, or withdrawals in face of the implacable and irrational, ever-escalating lethal hostility of the entire world.

  20. @ CK MacLeod:

    you should assess George’s position as being in favor of peace and a Palestinian state. Now just how extensive the land and autonomy for that state might be isn’t clear, but that doesn’t mean you should discount George’s intentions.

    you grump.

  21. fuster wrote:

    that doesn’t mean you should discount George’s intentions.

    No offense to George personally, but his approach discounts his intentions for me. What difference does it make what you support in the abstract, or think you support, if everything you say and do undermines it?

  22. One earns points for being a victim, the number of slain and maimed civilians, that were occurring for that year when Tzipi and company, were doing that useless dialog, but respond, and then you become
    the ogre.

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