There would still be the problem of Palestinian return, half a million in Lebanon alone. And there is the problem of some parts of the West bank being a part of the Israeli narrative of the past. So why not exchange one for the other? Some Jewish cantons in a West Bank under Palestinian sovereignty in exchange for some Arab cantons inside a sovereign Israel? Both states could become federations rather than unitary states that are relics of the past anyhow.
The latest Camp David negotiations were non-starters because they fell short on three rather major points:
– East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,
– a non-negotiable right of return wih negotiable numbers, and
– making borders reasonably secure in a peace community, like the Nordic Union, the European Union, and ASEAN.
No big revolution. Compelling by being obvious, common sense.
But not obvious to some Israeli and Western leaders travelling down the Viet Nam trail. USA did not win, and withdrew. The same happened to Israel, and will happen next time. Further down that trail of mad stupidity 9/11 and Iraq (read Iran) are waiting. There is now the idea of Lebanon in two parts, with international forces pacifying a South isolated from two evil outsiders, Syria and Iran. As doomed to failure as in Viet Nam. Hezbollah is a part of Lebanon like "Viet Cong" of Viet Nam. And arms are available and producible.
There was the indiscriminate killing of civilians, in line with the two points made by the Israeli army chief of staff, General Dan Halutz: to bomb ten buildings in the shiite district of Beirut for
each Katyusha missile launched against Israel, and to "bomb Lebanon 20 years into the past" (El Pais 28/7, Haaretz and Jerusalem Post). Hezbollah also kills civilians, but the ratios are more like the 10:1 used by Dr Best for each German soldier killed by "terrorists" (they also used that term): Lidice in the Czech Republic, Oradour-sur-Glane in France, Kortelisy in Ukraine. During this war much bigger parts of Lebanon were the victims of collective punishment. Are Israeli lives worth that much more than Arab lives?
There is the naive idea that violence disappears if Hezbollah is disarmed, along UNSC 1559 lines. But 1559 makes no sense without 194 and 242. Israel cannot pick the resolution it wants, relying on USA forever controlling the UN. And Hezbollah will be reborn.
There is a conflict, the conflict cries for a solution, and the solution is a Middle East Community one day as obvious as the EC/EU.
Everybody should work for real peace as political complement to cease-fire. To help Israel stumble down the Viet Nam trail is blind solidarity, not acts of friendship. Friendship is to help Israel become a peacefare state.
Europeans could mobilize the talent and experience of the European Community/Union for a sustainable peace, not for infinite and escalating warfare. That would be an act of true friendship.
And Israel itself? A coming generation might do well to question the wisdom of the major right wing Zionist ideologue, Vladimir Yabotinsky, inspiring Begin, Netanyahu and now Olmert. To Yabotinsky there seem to be only two options, either "impotent, humiliating self-sacrifice or militant, invincible rage" (Jacqueline Rose, "The Zionist Imagination", The Nation, June 26, 2006, s. 34) To Yabotinsky Jews had been humiliated, shamed by violence, and the answer is militancy, violence. This vision, apart from making violence a cornerstone of human existence, excludes the third option: peace proposals, negotiation, settlement, peace. Peacefare.
And the Arabs, Muslims? Something similar. But Islam opens for the third possibility, not only dar-al-Islam and dar-al-Harb, the House of Peace and the House of War. There is also the dar-al-Ahd, coexistence with the infidels, possibly in a community, not too close, not too distant. Possibly also as an Organization for the Security and Cooperation in the Middle East. The coming political generations would do well to elaborate this in more detail. Today.
When will such generations come to power? How far have we been set back? Difficult to tell. The three building blocs for peace have been there for some time. But nothing seemed acceptable to Israel. They never let them into their collective mind and public space. And outside pressure will only confirm the stark Yabotinsky dichotomy. If Israel wants security, mainstream Israel must learn to want peace.
That leaves us with the maximalists. Their strongest argument against the moderates is "your line doesn't work". And the strongest counter-argument, like for ETA, for IRA, is to prove them wrong.
29 August 2006