Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Refugees Later: Why There Can Be No Peace Agreement

If there was a possible agreement that would satisfy Israel that its status as a Jewish state would not be threatened and would also satisfy most Palestinians, that agreement would have been presented and accepted by now.

There is no such agreement so the US strategy, which has been in place since the foundation of Israel, is to wait for the Palestinians to change their minds about the refugees. Of course this will not happen in 2008 anymore than it did in 1998, 1988 or earlier. Until it happens, there will be no agreement acceptable to both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The US and the rest of the West have been pursuing a hopeless strategy since Israel's inception.

The story of where this strategy comes from is a mixture of weird and interesting. Western supporters of Israel believe the Palestinians changing their minds is the right thing to do. This belief is followed by the belief that since they feel very strongly that its the right thing to do, somehow it will be done. The idea that the Palestinians have a right not to change their minds and actually may not change their minds is just not something Western supporters of Israel are able to put their heads around.

So the Western plans go something like, "we'll give Abbas a lot of guns and he'll shoot every Palestinian who thinks the refugees should return" or "remember those shiny reformed madrassas we're paying Musharaf to build, where we write the curriculum? Let's have Abbas build some in Palestine".

The people shot by Abbas who disagree, the people starved to death to coerce the Palestinians to vote for Abbas? It was the right thing to do, and if the Palestinians have not yet given up on the right to return, it hasn't been done enough. Whenever groups of humans are being evil, as the West is being here, they are using similar reasoning, this concept of "it may seem evil but it is for the greater good" forms the basis of every atrocity in human history. In fact, it probably is the only way any group of human beings anywhere is capable of being evil.

This is not a fringe Western belief. It is a tiny fringe in the West that disagrees with this belief. There is no more complex an explanation for this fact than that Westerners identify, racially or tribally with Jews (whom they perceive as European) than with Palestinians (whom they perceive as racially and religiously more different).

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