Thursday, August 7, 2014

Israeli-Palestinian Peace is Not Difficult to Achieve

Say what? Peace between these two areas (only one of them is a country) has been at loggerheads for half a century and the world misunderstands the story as an intractable standoff. There’s good reason for that, as American presidents from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama have tried and failed at mediation. The confrontation is insolvable, it would seem.

Which is utter nonsense.

Israel was determined to create a homeland for worldwide Jews and the world was determined to give them one, no matter the cost. The Holocaust loomed large over seventy unending years of guilt-ridden political gutlessness and misdirection, at unimaginable cost, but Israel got their nation. Palestine wanted a homeland as well and no one gave a damn, so they have no nation, no hope, no economy and no future. Hamas was born of that circumstance and our collective international witlessness and ignorance has brought us to the current Gaza disaster.

Early in my lifetime—and it’s been a longish life—the Soviet Union and China were America’s big threat. For forty years we faced one another, armed to the teeth and in mutual fear of a similar holocaust, this one nuclear. That ignorant period in East-West history might have taught us something, but we humans are extremely difficult to teach and slide from disaster to disaster in continuing ignorance. A case in point:

China, an enormous and threatening communist nuclear opponent, was the scourge of the West until Nixon went there in 1972 to meet with Chairman Mao. "Nixon going to China" has since become a metaphor for an unexpected or uncharacteristic action by a politician (Wikipedia). Over the decades since, it has been illustrated (perhaps even proven) that when nationalism puts its dick back in its pants, where it belongs, useful and positive things occur. China and the United States are now significant business and economic partners and, if all our differences are not yet resolved, the world is a safer and better place for it.

A second case in point:

The Marshall Plan saved a ravaged Europe from becoming ravaged all over again within another 20 years, as it had after WWI. General George C. Marshall knew about war, having served in WWI and leading the American effort in WWII, both times in uniform. Europe healed, has not gone to war again and Germany—it’s previous erstwhile aggressor—is now the financial and ethical platform upon which the continent stands. Modern day Germany is now looked up to by Europeans and is a model of democracy and stability. “Oh shit, Germany,” almost entirely because of the Marshall Plan, is now the respected answer to “What would Germany say?”

So, the ‘not so difficult’ part of my argument comes down to Israel learning from the more recent history of Germany, whose Holocaust it fled, as well as America, the nation that rebuilt its conquered foe. If statesmanship was evident, rather than a big-dick response to fear, Israel would long ago have devised a Marshall Plan for Palestine and peace between nation and non-nation would now prevail by opportunity rather than constant acts of mutual aggression. The present Israeli-Palestinian circumstance is an endless death-spiral of desperation inspired acts followed by overwhelming retaliatory response.

There is, as General George Marshall gambled at the conclusion of another historic moment, simply no other way than a Plan such as he devised.

Read this enlightening (and heartbreaking) article by Jodi Rudoren and Fares Akram in the August 6th issue of The New York Times and shudder at the ignorance just witnessed in Gaza, all in the name of peace. The Israeli-Palestinian future course is not cast in stone, but the choice is only Israel’s to make.

Statesmanship is always difficult, but never impossible.

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