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Israel position is Inconsistent

Reader comment on item: Explaining Israel's Strategic Mistakes

Submitted by Jonathan Pfeffer (Canada), Feb 10, 2009 at 15:11

Believe it or not, the West is generally on Israel's side, if only the West could fully understand what Israel's side means. Europeans and Americans want a peaceful compromise and so it follows to most outsiders that compromise is the point along a continuum where what one side gives up is not a bigger loss than what the other side gains. In other words, the West needs to know what a fair compromise is. And only Israel defines what Israel wants.

The problem is that Israel has not made its case clear at all to the West. Instead it waivers and waffles at various ideas of compromise. You are absolutely right when you point out that the US doesn't force Israel's hand. Israel tells the US what its priorities are and the US pressures Israeli PMs and diplomats to compromise on what the US President believes are Israel's lower priorities.

In these so-called two state negotiations which are on and then off all the time, nobody, not ever the Israeli government, ever seems to point out that Israel is a nation state and Palestine is not. Why can't Israel simply proclaim that we are a nation and the Palestine are not. Israel should profess the highest interest in Palestine's humanitarian needs such as the need to be rehabilitated and not used as pawns to be forced to live in squalor in refugee camps. Yet simply deny them the claim that they are a nation on equal status to Israel.

The Palestinians are the first to claim that this conflict in the Middle East is about the humanitarian issues of Palestinian people when talking to the international media, yet it is them, the Palestinian leadership, who have time and time again rejected improvements in the humanitarian conditions of their own people if they be at the experience of their nationalistic longings. The West however, is not in the business of satisfying Third World needs of national longing. The West is in the humanitarian business. Israel needs to understand that and play it up.

It is Israel, more than any country that has sold the world the idea that there is an equivalence between Israeli statehood and Palestinian statehood. Does Spain claim statehood for the Basques? Does Turkey or Iraq claim statehood for the Kurds? And of course in these two examples, both the Basques and the Kurds are distinct people with distinct histories, Palestinians are not a distinct people, they are the Arabs who lived in the Palestine mandate in 1948 many recent migrants.

The equivalence to the Spanish and Turkish example applied to Israel would be that these non-nation entities of Gaza and the West Bank be allowed to live in peace and prosperity in nation states that reflect the people and their history. That of course would mean the West Bank would be part of Jordan and Gaza could be either part of Jordan or Egypt based on what the people in Gaza prefer. However it is not Israel that decides whether the West Bank Arabs need to be part of Jordan or a tiny separate Palestinian state, however when Palestinian nationhood is nullified as an issue with regard to Israel, the need for a Palestinian state suddenly disappears. The real issue of Jerusalem to Arabs is not whether it is the capital of this Palestinian state rather it is whether it be Arab or Jewish.

Israel needs to solidify its position and make its case clearer. If the Western World holds any resentment towards Israel's position in the future, it will be mostly based on the difference between what the World expects Israel's position to be and what Israel's position actually is. If the Israeli government were to say one day that it might talk about Jerusalem and then another day say that it won't, the world will become confused, frustrated and resentful at Israeli leaders and blame them for the breakdown in talks. We all know that Palestinian leaders want 67 borders at a minimum and they make that case clear. They make that case after Israel has already conceded that Palestine is a nation on the same footing with Israel and that sometimes Israel is willing to talk about Jerusalem and sometimes about freezing Jewish communities in the territories. And what the Western World expects of Israel will be based on what Israel says and does on a consist basis.

As an example of a solid and consistent position we have post WWII Soviet Union and then Russia. Nobody today seriously asks Russia to give back any of the land that Stalin stole after WWII. This is because Russia would never discuss it, and would never waiver on this issue. Its boundaries are set and never open as a topic for discussion. That is what everybody expects of Russia.

So while Russia stole land after WWII, the Kurds and the Basques are distinct nations of people nobody asks Russia, Spain or Turkey to give up land yet, it is always Israel that keeps getting bullied to compromise even though Israel is a distinct nation and Palestine is not, Israel as a Jewish nation has 5 million people living in less than 9,000 square miles and even though Israel wins its wars, and has been a stalwart of Western values in a part of the world full of anti-West fanaticism.

Why? I think that it is because Israel has not made its case clear and consistent.


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