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Monday, November 12, 2007

Peace when?

Our esteemed president, Shimon Peres, made an interesting statement today:

"I believe, we can make peace now with Palestinians"

This would be a laudable sentiment if not for the inclusion of that troubling little word:  'now'.

Let's leave aside the fact that Peres has had no real experience in making peace with the Palestinians.  Heck, nobody has!  While many have tried, nobody has actually successfully made anything resembling peace with them... not the Jordanians... not the Lebanese... and certainly not any of the various Palestinian factions themselves. 

But hey, there is something vaguely comforting, in a Mr. Rogers kinda way, about our president extending a theoretical olive branch and keeping alive the idea that Israel might someday, somehow, be the first to pull off this trick.

But why use the word 'now'?  Is there something we're missing? 

Is there something about the 5 dead Palestinians (and more than 30 wounded) from today's internecine warfare in Gaza that would offer some glimmer of hope for a stable peace partner any time soon?

Is there something about the shrapnel pattern from today's rocket strikes (6 so far) - like tea leaves at the bottom of a cup - that portent a growing willingness on the part of the Palis to respect Israel's territorial sovereignty and the right of our civilian populations to live safely in their homes?

Is there even a tiny sign of sign of willingness on the part of the 'moderate' Palestinian leadership to remove language from their charter calling for the destruction of Israel, and even tacit recognition of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State within secure borders?

I was once talking with a friend about what to look for when hiring tradesmen (plumbers, carpenters, electricians, brick/stone masons, etc.).  He said to be wary of anyone who mentions how many years of experience they have as part of their pitch. 

You see, some will have 5 or 10 years of experience, with the breadth of expertise that goes along with such a respectable span... while others who brag of '20 years experience' actually have had only one year of experience, repeated twenty times over. 

The 5 or 10 year veteran has made his/her mistakes and likely learned from them.  The one who has repeated that first year of experience twenty times over without gaining any real experience or practical knowledge is still, at best, a journeyman and probably has learned nothing from the mistakes he/she repeats from year to year. 

A perfect example of such a journeyman (other than Peres, of course) is PM Olmert's hapless plan to release yet another 400 prisoners in return for, well... nothing.  A 'goodwill gesture'.  Isn't the point of a goodwill gesture to get the other side to make a similar gesture?  After all these 'gestures' isn't anyone getting the sense that the only gesture we're likely to see from the Palestinians is a raised middle finger?

FOreget concrete gestures... just listen to what our 'peace partners' are saying. 

Today Saeb Erakat, the top Palestinian negotiator, rejected Israel's demand that the Palestinians acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, saying:  "There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined".

Can't argue with that... oh, wait... except for:

  • Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
  • Arab Republic of Egypt
  • The Holy See (Vatican City)
  • Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Islamic Republic of Pakistan
  • Islamic Republic of Mauritania

And add to those the countries that are almost exclusively Muslim and/or have Islamic law as the prevailing legal and cultural force*:

  • Algeria (99%)
  • Azerbaijan (93.4%)
  • Djibouti (94%)
  • Gambia (90%)
  • Iraq (97%)
  • Jordan (95%)
  • Libya (97%)
  • Maldives (99.41%)
  • Saudi Arabia (89% but 100% of citizens are Muslims since this is a requirement for citizenship)
  • Somalia (99.9%)
  • Syria (90%)
  • Tajikistan (90%)
  • Tunisia (98%)
  • Turkey (99%)
  • Turkmenistan (89%)
  • Western Sahara (99.8%)
  • Yemen (99%)

So yeah, I'm not sure that Mr. Erakat's statement is entirely correct.

I'm not saying that peace with the Palestinians is an impossibility.   But forgive me if I don't look to our cadre of journeymen politicians who brag about their many years of diplomatic experience... yet who are still making the same stupid mistakes Israel they made twenty years ago.

I mean seriously, after all these years is it possible that Israel is still making unilateral concessions just to get the Palestinians to recognize our right to exist?  And they are still saying no? 

Maybe it's time to take the word 'now' out of our aspirations for peace.

* Source

Posted by David Bogner on November 12, 2007 | Permalink

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See, but no one will be willing to admit to that. For all too many people, high-ranking politicians/government officials, the on-going "attempts" to "make peace" with the Palestinians has becomes something, without which their vision of geopolitics as they know it, would come to ruins. Who wants to wade around in debris? Better remain in denial and pretend to believe they are making a genuine good-faith effort to "make peace" (a meaningless phrase, at this point, since many people on all levels don't even bother discussing what that would actually entail. Not everyone, of course, but too many).

Posted by: Irina | Nov 12, 2007 7:04:29 PM

I too have been unimpressed with the returns Israel has gotten in return for its unilateral gift-giving. That seems a lopsided way to achieve peace, especially now that only a portion of the Palestinians' elected officials answer our phone calls. More freebies to Fatah, and not even a nod to Hamas? Somehow I can't see it working NOW. (My blog has a more detailed discussion of my thoughts on this matter.)

Thanks also for the Islam-by-country reckoning. Perhaps NOW, contrary to Erekat's supposition, the world will recognize the right of a Jewish state to exist. (STAM!)

Posted by: Shimshonit | Nov 12, 2007 11:11:20 PM

Hope is in the air (like fumes over a cess pool).

Posted by: Bob | Nov 13, 2007 4:53:05 AM

I was once talking with a friend about what to look for when hiring tradesmen (plumbers, carpenters, electricians, brick/stone masons, etc.). He said to be wary of anyone who mentions how many years of experience they have as part of their pitch.

You see, some will have 5 or 10 years of experience, with the breadth of expertise that goes along with such a respectable span... while others who brag of '20 years experience' actually have had only one year of experience, repeated twenty times over.

I realize that this is not the focal point of the post, but I disagree with your friend.

Posted by: Jack | Nov 13, 2007 7:01:41 AM

Didn't you recently remind us that a definition of insanity is repeating the same actions over and over while expecting different results? By that definition, Mr. Peres should have been a permanent rubber-room resident years ago.

Posted by: psachya | Nov 13, 2007 11:37:14 AM

I was personally amused by the media quoting Abbas today as saying that if Israel pulls out of the territories, they will be able to live in a 'sea of peace'. I can only assume he meant the Mediterranean.

Ender

Posted by: matlabfreak | Nov 13, 2007 6:39:46 PM

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