Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Few Brief Thoughts On The Middle East

I have always liked Netanyahu and haven't understood American Jews' animosity toward him, including some of my friends who are strongly pro Israel. I had dinner with a couple of them last night and couldn't get a clear answer that I understood as justifying their particular venom.

As for the settlements in the West Bank, I have generally followed the politically correct party line that they're a "mistake." But I have changed my mind about that in some ways.

First, I have come to the conclusion that regardless of what the U.N. resolves endlessly, it's not clear that the settlements are illegal. And my basis for thinking that is the very language in S.C. Res. 242.

Second, given legal unclarity, there's somethinng to be said for creating facts on the ground in the face of the heart of the entire problem--Arab intransigence. Facts on the ground, after all, whatever else they may be, are facts on the ground. Arab intransigence cannot, should not and does not go on with impunity, without consequence.

Third, if Israel completes its wall/fence and cedes the rest of the West Bank, while maintaining a watchful military presence, that sounds like the makings of a good unilateral solution until real peace comes around and stands to avoid the demographic, economic and political problems that continued unfettered occupation bring.

Finally, Netanyahu and Israeli policy, including its settlement policy, reflect the will of its citizenry. It is a citizenry that has lusted after peace and was willing to take risks and compromises to get it--Olmert's last offer to Abbas, for instance--but continuous rejection has led the country to see these matters as she now see them.

And who living abroad, with no harm beckoning them, can really be so quick to condemn what Israelis feel about where they now are?

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