Saturday, December 31, 2011

We all have opinions on something.

Below something I put on the Jerusalem Post Talkback site, in response to a series of articles where the journalist quoted one of my (shorter) comments.
As you quoted one of my comments Martin, I'll address you directly as you obviously, to my surprise but your credit, read Talkback. Dealing with your last point first, although many countries do of course take into account the economic position of applicants seeking to live in those countries, that is not the only or main criteria. The mere fact that an applicant has, oh let's say $1 million (US) wouldn't automatically get them into a country they wanted to go to. I would agree with you that for demographic reasons a 'one state' solution is not the answer, not if you want Israel to remain a Jewish state. I also feel that the 'vision' put forward in the Oslo accords was flawed, just looking at a map I could never see how it could be made to work. I'm thinking here about the notion of having two geographically separated parts of the proposed Palestinian state. So what to do? It is possible that a war would sort this out, but I'm sure you'd agree with me when I say that a war would cause a humanitarian disaster, for both Israel and the Palestinians. Yes, I did say Palestinians because despite all your very erudite arguments, the Palestinians think of themselves as a homogenous people, and at the end of the day it's how a group of people perceive themselves that counts, not how others perceive them. Imagine the response from Israelis if a Palestinian academic put forward a cogent argument to show that Israelis were not Israelis but displaced Europeans. Before you point out that they already do this, I would ask you 'and how do you feel about that?'. It's also worth noting that the arguments put forward to support this notion are fairly easily disproved.So what to do? To my mind, although I have to admit it somewhat sticks in my throat, the only lasting answer is a two-state solution. One could go at great length into slightly suspect historical population figures to prove that Arabs have been in the geographic area as long as Jews. It is clear that Arabs didn't suddenly 'appear' in the West bank or Gaza about one hundred years ago. It's also clear that there was an upsurge in Arab migration in response to Zionist migration. You can twist and turn the figures anyway that you want, you can even throw God into the equation, but the fact is 'we are where we are' for whatever combination of reasons. So now what? You propose a population transfer. One might call it ethnic cleasing with a humane face, because I accept that you are not suggesting forcing people to leave by violent methods but rather by giving inducements. There might have been a moment when a population transfer was a possibility, but that moment passed over sixty years ago. In any event, people who suggest this, saying that it would bring peace after a great deal of pain, need only look to India and Pakestan for a real-life example of what happens when populations are forcibly transferred. The two countries are now staring at each other over nuclear barrels, hardly the situation one would wish on Israel. So what to do? Israel should make an effort to reach out to the Palestinians. By that I don't mean acquiese to all or even most of their demands, but I mean paint a picture of what peace would look like. Give the Palestinians something concrete to think about instead of what they have at the moment, hazy notions of independance which seem to revolve about freedom of travel. It seems obvious to me that purely because of geographic realities, the two states would have to co-operate in economic affairs, and would have to share natural resources. Israel is a highly developed technological society, with many innovative agricultural techniques. With peace, comes sharing. With sharing comes economic developement and with that comes a perceived mutual inter-dependence. Together, or at least as together as is realistically possible, both countries can prosper, seperately, the Palestinians will never achieve statehood and Israel will bleed to death. Bleed to death? Yes, because if a war occurs, the Palestinians are ethnically cleansed and Israel becomes 'Greater Israel', then not only will there be an immediate cost in Israeli blood, but there will be continuing internal unrest. Then the rest of the world will act, not militarily but economically, and no nation can survive in this world by remaining isolated. Oh, countries do survive for fifty years or so, at the cost of becoming like North Korea, an iron-fisted dictatorship where most of the population exists at starvation level, but in the end they simply fade way, the collapse of the Soviet Union showed that. My apologies to all the other contributors and readers for having made such a long post.

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