Sunday, July 16, 2006

Palestine's Woes

For religious reasons, I love the Holy Land. For political reasons, it makes me want to gag. During a semester spent studying in Jerusalem, I had the opportunity to hear from passionate voices with a personal stake in both sides of the debate.

I heard from Palestinians who explained how their families had been displaced when the state of Israel was created and Jews took over governing Jerusalem. I heard from Jewish settlers who had had their homes attacked and their families terrorized.

I had a Palestinian professor and a Jewish professor. Both of them made excellent arguments for the rightness of their side in the enduring controversy. I appreciated the fundamental elements of the arguments on both sides and wished I had an easy answer. But stronger still was the disgust for the wicked actions that had been taken by participants on both sides of the dispute. Neither has totally clean hands.

I'm not sure I would have supported the creation of Isreal all those years ago by international fiat. I think I understand why it happened, but I'm not sure if I could have gotten behind it.

Even so, I can't deny the facts on the ground now. The Arab neighbors of Israel have continually denied her right to exist. Failing to prevent her creation through diplimatic means, they have, on multiple occasions, waged war against Israel to destroy her by physical force. They forsook the path of diplomacy and took the path of violence. They made their choice.

Each time they have lost. How can it be fitting that the losers in a war demand concessions from the winner? Yet that is exactly what we continue to see from the Palestinians. Each time they resort to violence their options become less and less attractive and their possible borders shrink. The Palestinian leaders have betrayed their people and robbed them of what might have been theirs.

I find myself in agreement with the words of Youssef Ibrahim.

Dear friends, you and your leaders have wasted three generations trying to fight for Palestine, but the truth is the Palestine you could have had in 1948 is much bigger than the one you could have had in 1967, which in turn is much bigger than what you may have to settle for now or in another 10 years. Struggle means less land and more misery and utter loneliness.
The war is over. Why not let a new future begin?
Long have champions for the Palestinians cried that if only Israel would end the occupation of Palestinian territory there could be peace. Charles Krauthammer reminds us of the folly in believing that assertion; we have seen a unilateral withdrawal by Israel from the Gaza strip that did not result in peace.

The Palestinians have made their bed. They opted for violence. They lost. Now they must lie in it.


Scott Hinrichs said...

Actually, the Arab states around Israel *need* to maintain Israel's existence as well as Palestinian opposition to Israel. This causes their populaces to focus on an external issue to the avoidance of serious internal issues.

These internal issues are deep and long standing. Allowing them to come to the forefront probably would not only unseat the current Arab rulers, but could dissolve society within their nations as people return to millennia-old tribal disputes.

For this reason, the Arab countries refuse to help the Palestinians (other than to fund anti-Israel activities), and do not actually do anything to win a war against Israel.

Bradley Ross said...

Welcome back from Scout Camp. Glad you made it home alive.

While your hypothesis is an interesting one, I'm not sure I buy it. It is a bit too Machiavellian for me. I suspect that Israel's Arab neighbors are acting more out of hatred than in cunning self-preservation. Their need for Israel to exist may be true, but I don't know that it is their primary motivation.

Scott Hinrichs said...

Actually, cunning is a highly prized virtue in many Middle Eastern societies. Check out this article for some interesting insights into this. Our western culture doesn't appreciate how much cunning is valued in the Middle East. When you comprehend this, even some of the events in the scriptures (that cause us to recoil) make a lot more sense.