Palestine, Israel, Obama – Oh My.

Map of Israel, the Palestinian territories (We...

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Appeasement by any other name…

OPINION by Frater Bovious

The state of Israel was carved out of a section of Palestine in 1947, by the United Nations. (Well, that’s not exactly true. Borders were suggested; the UN can’t actually create a country, they can only acknowledge one.) Prior to that, Palestine was actually under the control of the British Empire. This was a culmination of attempts which began in the 1890s to create a Jewish homeland. It seems that the people living there at the time were not involved in this decision. On May 14, 1948, Israel declared itself a sovereign nation, and various Arab countries attacked the next day. As part of the nearly continuous wars since then, Israel occupied sections not part of the original partitioning, as buffer zones.

Over time, an organization named the Palestinian Liberation Organization was formed. You can understand the name. They viewed their country as having been forcibly occupied. They wanted to liberate the occupied section of Palestine. They did not have much support from the world at large, nor the United Nations, as it was a UN decision that partitioned their country. They did of course have support from their Arab brothers. Frankly, were there no oil in the Middle East, this article would not be written. Israel and Palestine would be footnotes in histories of WWII. But there is oil, and that means money, and that means weapons and means.

One Day in September

With these means, over the years, the PLO committed very visible atrocities; anyone remember the 1972 Munich Olympic Massacre? And now the Palestinian flag flies in Washington and they have an embassy. Like it or not, they have, at the least, the appearance of having been legitimized. Which, in a land where image is nearly everything, there is little difference in appearance and reality in the eyes of the beholders.

Conclusion – Killing Works.

I wonder what the UN was thinking back in 1947 when they partitioned the place – that perhaps the non-Jews living in the newly formed Israel were simply too backward to truly offer any resistance? That the neighboring Arab states would welcome having a nation installed in their midst?

Not taken into account: People that are willing to die just need to have weapons put in their hands so that others will inevitably die with them. Witness Afghanistan. It is a grim and fundamental reality. If people are being killed, the people around them notice it. And once it seems that you yourself could be killed, you gain a whole new level of concern. It’s called self-preservation, and it is a blind instinct. With regard to political solutions, blind instinct leads inevitably to the conclusion that all you can really do is kill ALL of your enemies no matter the cost. Because, you see, you are going to be killed anyway. May as well take some enemies with you. It is a blind and vicious circle and to those caught in it, there is no other reality.

I cannot comment on what President Obama believes or is thinking. I can only watch what he does, and hear what he says. From that I have drawn this conclusion. Our president knows that the people who want a Palestinian state are never going away. Because they are never going away, he may reason, there will never be peace until they have achieved their goals. To have peace, I think he reasons, we have to accede to their demands. Which means he must pursue a two-state solution to Israel and Palestine. My gut instinct is that our president truly believe this is the path to peace. Implicit in this belief is that while Palestine is intractable, Israel can be dealt with. He is not going to attempt to modify Palestine’s position. And so, there is no gain in taking a hard-line stand with them, and attempting to back them into any corners. Hence the flying of the flag and conciliatory tone toward countries generally thought of as neutral if not hostile. His approach is indistinguishable from something called appeasement.

Meanwhile, he believes he can “negotiate”with Israel, but he knows that he can only do so from a position of power; there is no position of reason that will make any sense to the government of Israel. He is therefore harsh with a supposed ally, and genteel with a supposed sponsor of terrorism. In the interests of peace, he will attempt to take from Israel to give to Palestine.

There is but one problem to this so-called solution. And it is a fundamental problem and it is a decisive problem. It is a problem no one wants to address and it is this: Neither Palestine nor the other Arab states wants a two-state solution. And while Israel agreed to the UN decision in 1947, they now know it won’t work. So, they don’t want a two-state solution.

Here is the problem with pursuing a two-state solution: it is not really different from what the UN originally decided. Back then it was to be a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a UN administered Jerusalem. Leaving out the UN administered Jerusalem, this is the same decision that resulted in immediate and nearly unceasing war over the last 60 years. To over simplify – tell me if this makes any sense:

“The UN created an Arab state and a Jewish state. The Arabs didn’t like it and we’ve had continual bloodshed for 60 years. So, here’s an idea. Let’s create an Arab state and a Jewish state. That should fix everything.”

Am I being to harsh if I state this is obvious idiocy and will not work?

A lot of people like to point at the Bible and talk about their view of a god that would order all the people in a given land to be eradicated, including their livestock. The simple reality is that is how the Middle East operates, and has operated, since Biblical times and before. If you are going to hold land in the Middle East, you are going to hold it with bloodshed. That is simple and historical fact and is beyond refute. At some point the Palestinians will attempt to exterminate the Israelis. To prevent that, the Israelis will have to exterminate the Palestinians. The US needs to either pick a side, or stay out. We will never broker a peace. The Arabs don’t trust us, and neither do the Israelis. That is the pragmatic reality. No one trusts a fence-sitter because you don’t know whose side they’re on.

Our president seems to believe he can change these fundamental realities. This is sad, and misguided.


10 responses to “Palestine, Israel, Obama – Oh My.

  1. And here I thought I was the only person on earth who understood why the carving out of an Israeli state back when it first happened was obviously unfair to those living there already, who claimed it as their homeland. I can’t help but wonder how much sentimental influence was brought to bear by the mere mention of the Holocaust atrocities suffered by the Jews, and how much actual logical, unemotional reasoning went into the thought process when it came to returning their land to them. And when in history has that same process applied to any other people driven out of their homeland–that it was given back to them by a third-party quasi-government entity just because they said so?

    I understand the anger on the part of the Palestinians, and I agree–there is no solution, except the eradication of one people or the other. Which they seem to be trying to do to each other regularly.


  2. Although you describe the foundation of Israel, as it affected the Palestinians on the partitioned land, accurately, and you do seem to acknowledge their beef about that, from then on the bad guy becomes the Palestinian. Besides invading their land and kicking them into decrepit refugee camps which still exist 60 years later, there were many atrocities by the Israelis since their initial invasion too, but only the Munich incident was noted. (Note for one:

    But I think the thrust of your opinion piece is about Obama’s attempts. You say there is no two-state solution possible, only the MAD Theory (Mutually Assured Destruction) is going to end this conflict. Your “gut feeling” is that Obama will continue to pursue the 2-state solution, an “obvious idiocy” [jab noted] that will not work (GWB espoused it too, but I digress: You base your conclusion on the nature of the culture of the region for thousands of years, and that nothing ever changes. (Do we remember that one of GWB’s rationales, which you probably believed, for invading Iraq [3 feuding cultures btw] was to convert it into a shining example of democracy for the rest of the Arabs to emulate? Oh, never mind, that’s too long ago, we always bring up GWB, and really, IOKIYAR).

    So, which side would you take the US on? What would be the consequences to domestic and foreign policy in the short and long terms?

    IMHO, two-state is the only sane solution, and both sides have to be convinced of that. Israel is not going away voluntarily, and neither are the Palestinians and all the Arabs from the region. If we put on our honest broker hat, and carefully use our many sticks and carrots, we have a chance, and we do the right thing.

    With the obviously-not-idiotic MAD scenario you say is the only possible outcome, no matter which side we back, or if we sit on the sidelines, our stance is morally repugnant. We either help one side annihilate the other (and we know which side that would be), or we watch as they tear each other to pieces, embarrassing ourselves in front of the rest of the world, who would like to see us as an honest broker (the real American Exceptionalism IMHO). And that policy will continue to create new little terrorists to come attack us.

    Give the man a chance. Be a maverick.


    • Tony – please stop assuming what I think and reading those assumptions into what I write. You say “(Do we remember that one of GWB’s rationales, which you probably believed, for invading Iraq [3 feuding cultures btw] was to convert it into a shining example of democracy for the rest of the Arabs to emulate?…”

      I never believed that. I don’t know why you think I “probably” believed that.

      Nobody over there wants to be a US styled democracy. I said that from the very beginning of that whole conflict. Nor should the United States be involved in “regime change.” It was patently obvious that the Bush administration had no idea what they were dealing with over in the Mideast. It is the worst kind of willful arrogance to simply assume that everyone wants to be the United States. Those people believe we are the Great Satan, and they want nothing to do with our culture or system of government or system of economics.

      Consistent with your baseless assumption that I think Bush is wonderful and Obama is not is your apparent belief that I was listing Palestinian atrocities as some sort of vindication of Israel, and casting the PLO as “the bad guy.” Actually, my point is simpler and much more pragmatic and is summed up in this one sentence paragraph – “Conclusion – Killing Works.”

      Further, regarding Mutual Assured Destruction: Please re-read my post and point out exactly where I said the only solution is Mutual Assured Destruction. Here, I’ll save you the time – I never said that. What I am saying is this: There will never be a peaceful two-state solution to that region.

      I understand you say that Two State is the Only Sane Solution. So, allow me to restate your position, and you tell me where I don’t understand your solution: This problem, which was initiated by the UN resolution to create two states, can only sanely be solved by – the creation of two states. If I understand correctly Tony, then my comment in response is that is like saying the cure for a gunshot wound is more bullets.

      Try re-reading the article. Obama doesn’t understand that region any better than Bush did. He’s making the same type of baseless assumptions.

      In my humble opinion, until this country stops viewing the Arab World as little envious American wannabes, and starts realistically assessing the forces that drive that region (which, despite your dismissal of thousands of years of factual history, would be part of such an assessment) the United States isn’t in a position to broker anything.

      What is morally repugnant is to assume that we know best, and basically assert our will on others, through force of might or economy, especially when we clearly don’t understand the situation.


  3. There have been periods when the Jews and Arabs lived together in Palestine in peace. Now there is so much bitter history (cousins killing cousins – which is what they are, part of the same genetic family) that it is difficult to practice forgiveness.

    In my humble opinion, forgiveness and compassion together are the solution. And you know – the basic human need for respect comes from that. Understanding and empathy for suffering. They are alive. God made them. They both have a right to continue existing. I have no brilliant suggestions for causing tolerance and forgiveness in this situation, but I know that that is where the healing is.

    At the same time, there is a pragmatic need for security, the trust that a person can walk across the street without dying. There is a pragmatic need for both these peoples to have a homeland. There home is, for thousands of years and continually, in the same place. A two-state solution is not unreasonable. It may even be fair. It might offer both parties the respect they need, as humans do, and the space-time they need to find forgiveness.

    The USA has interests in the region. I will not judge this fact. Rather, I proceed that since we do care what happens there, and we do have some influence, it is likely beneficial to all parties that we take some role in supporting peace. I imagine the best USA could do is help the parties to fully regard their mutual humble humanity. I agree that deeper understanding of the values, practices, and traditions of these people is essential to USA making a positive and significant difference in that.

    And the specifics of the two states needs clarifying. Where are the boundaries? How do they travel from one area to another? Can they coordinate water works, transportation, education, health care? Does Israel get to build on Palestinian land? Does Palestine get to install mosques and amplified calls to prayer in Tel Aviv? Is Jerusalem to be a world state on it’s own? What about the last few agreements that have been violated by Israel? How to resolve the political conflicts in the two main Palestinian factions?

    No, I expressly do not agree that the past equals the future. I suspect that when the peoples look forward and not backwards, they might imagine excellent, intelligent, realistic answers to the above and other questions. Then, with USA and world support, they might hold the vision and take practical steps to that goal.


    • My understanding is that when Israel was created, it wasn’t really considered a two-state solution. I rather through the Palestinians were literally shoved to the side and left to fend for themselves – that there was no formal coordination of two new countries. Is this not correct?


      • My (subject to correction) understanding is that after WWI Britain was given control (by the League of Nations) of that area with a mandate to establish a Jewish Homeland. In 1917 the Balfour Declaration essentially declared that Britain would like to see a Jewish Homeland created for the wandering Jews. This occurred at about the same time that Zionism became a formal movement. (Zionism is essentially the movement that called for the restoring of Jews to their homeland, which was inconveniently occupied by other peoples, and had been for centuries.)

        Subsequent to WWII the United Nations proposed borders in 1947 that carved out a section of what everyone at the time recognized as Palestine, and recommended the creation of a Jewish State, a Palestinian State and then UN control (?) of Jerusalem.

        Not surprisingly, Jewish leadership agreed and Palestinian leadership disagreed. What happened next is a little unclear to me, but it seems essentially a civil war ensued when Zionists decided to enact the UN recommendations. Palestinians were forcibly relocated and Israel was born (again?), declaring itself to the world on May 14, 1948. They were attacked by neighboring Arab states on May 15, and have been at some level of hostility with the surrounding region ever since.

        So, it does not appear to me that the UN actually created Israel, it would appear they suggested borders and what became Israel acted on that idea, assuming, perhaps, they would get needed support from “the West” and/or that the Arabs would not respond, seeing as how the West had just finished winning WWII. Hard to say.

        Long answer to your short question, but, essentially Zionists took a hotly contested piece of property in the same manner that it has always been taken. By force.


  4. Here is another interesting take on all this, seemingly well researched.


    • Thanks Mark.
      It is a learning for me about Britain’s control of that area… So, it sounds like the Zionists surprised everyone, the result being that the thing was not handled in a coordinated fashion at’all. If the same idea were to be approached with all parties at the table, hammering out the details, the outcome might indeed be different.
      So Mark – you think USA needs to either pick a people to support, or remove themselves from the discussion entirely?


  5. Ah, forgive me, I have addressed the wrong party. The above query is meant for the noble Frater Bovius.
    And good sir, I continue to wonder, might we yet learn more of your many-chambered pathway to enlightenment?


  6. The “many-chambered path” is actually the Four-Chambered Path, and that is the lesson for today.

    Regarding what the US should do – well, there you have me. I don’t have the expertise to actually answer your question, so I will “baffle ’em with bullshit” (a side benefit of the Four-Chambered Path is an abundance of this material is readily available).

    I think at certain levels the United States is being played. it would be like if I wanted your favorite tea pot. But we have clan ties, and I really can’t go and get it without causing all the neighboring family members to cast sidelong glances at me. I need someone else to go and get it, someone that most everyone can point at as being arrogant and clumsy. Secretly many of the clans really want the same thing, but they don’t want to be involved in the process in any traceable manner. This is what is going on right now with Iran’s nuclear program.

    Now, regarding Israel, I submit that nobody over there actually wants a two-state solution. We are being played in that in order to stay at the table and avoid all out war, we keep pressuring Israel to make concessions. Everyone wants us to be in this role, because they can all point fingers at us. Even Israel. Meanwhile, as part of the whole negotiation process we have all manner of things to offer. Weapons, Medicines, etc. Were we not over there actively involved in the negotiations, there is no doubt in my mind this would have blown into a full on conflagration by now. But, I really think we are just delaying an inevitable. Israel will stop making concessions, because they can read the writing on the wall (biblical reference intentional). Without the buffer zones which they feel absolutely necessary to safeguard their civilian population from guerrilla warfare, their only option is all out war – and nobody really wants that. Our buffoonish clumsy role is to keep all out war from igniting while carefully setting up the arena for the elimination of an Israeli state. That’s not what we think we are doing, but I believe everyone over there, including Israel understands our role is to seek “peace” in the form of appeasement. The Palestinian side makes no concessions. Israel has. And if Israel responds to rocket attacks, they are reviled for the “over the top” response. And we, silly and arrogant, try to get them to stand down.

    Imagine for a moment some group in Esenada shooting rockets that land in Riverside on market places, neighborhoods, schools, etc. And so Canada urges California to negotiate for peace, and not respond in a military manner. Rather, let’s sit at the table and discuss changing the borders.

    How would that go over here in the States? Would we even notice Canada? Only if Canada were the supplier of weapons, and some sort of potential guarantor of whatever brokered peace was established.

    But let’s face it. If there were no oil there, we really wouldn’t care all that much as it would be a localized disturbance with no bearing on our insulated lives. Transfer that whole thing to Brazil or something where the only thing endangered would be banana prices at the grocery store, and it wouldn’t make the evening news.

    What we really should be doing is extricating ourselves from our oil addiction, and thumbing our noses at the whole mess, in my opinion.


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