Now peace it together
By Phillip Adams
IN a recent conversation, Robert Fisk, arguably the best informed journalist on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, compared that dance of death with what was happening 40 years ago in Algeria. Responding to the Arabs' bombing of French cafes in Algiers, the occupying French army demanded carte blanche to "end terror". Their retaliation was brutal and included the use of torture. Contemporary writers, notably philosopher Raymond Aron, observed that the damage France was doing to the Algerians was nothing compared with the damage it was doing to itself.
Refusing to apportion blame in the conflict, Aron ignored the issues of terrorism, torture and France's campaign of state-sponsored political assassinations to assert that the facts demanded France withdraw. He insisted that the origins of the disaster no longer mattered. What mattered is that it had to end. In a fine essay on the Middle East crisis titled The road to nowhere (The New York Review of Books), Tony Judt, director of the Remarque Institute at New York University, applies Aron's thinking to the bloodbath in Israel. Like Fisk, he finds the similarities with the Algerian crisis overwhelming. And he calls for the same solution that Aron proposed.
I am pro-Israel. I'm also pro-Palestinian. This is not a contradiction. It is the only way to approach the most dangerous conflict in the world. So I wholeheartedly endorse Judt's advice to both sides.
He argues that the solution to the conflict "is in plain sight". Israel exists and the Palestinians and other Arabs will eventually accept this – as many do already. The Palestinians can neither be expelled from "Greater Israel" nor integrated into it. Shove them into Jordan and that nation will "explode, with disastrous consequences for Israel".
"Palestinians need a real state of their own and they will have one. The two states will be delineated in accordance with the map drawn up at the Taba negotiations in January 2001. Nearly all of the occupied territories will come under Palestinian rule. Thus the Israeli settlements in these territories are doomed and most of them will be dismantled.
"There will be no Arab right of return; and it is time to abandon the anachronistic Jewish one. Jerusalem is already largely divided along ethnic lines and will, eventually, be the capital of both states. Since these states will have a common interest in stability and shared security concerns, they will learn in time to co-operate. Community-based organisations like Hamas, offered the chance to transform themselves from terrorist networks into political parties, will take this path."
Judt reminds us that de Gaulle extricated his countrymen from Algeria with relative ease. Following 50 years of monstrous repression, white South Africans handed over power to a black majority who replaced them without violence or revenge. The most feared black in South Africa, Nelson Mandela, became an inspiration to the world.
Judt sees Israelis "still trapped in the story of their own uniqueness". For many Jews, their entitlements derive from the Jewish community that existed in the territory of modern Israel thousands of years ago. Others claim that God gave them title to the lands of Judea and Samaria. Others – and I include myself in this category – cite the Holocaust, arguing that this greatest of atrocities allows Jews to make great claims on the world.
But there are Israelis who state their case in geographic or Realpolitik terms. Back to Judt: "We are so vulnerable, they say, so surrounded by enemies, that we cannot take any risks or afford a single mistake. The French could withdraw across the Mediterranean; South Africa is a very large country. We have nowhere to go."
Behind every Israeli refusal to face the inevitability of hard choices "stands the implicit guarantee" of the US.
To visit Israel is to be astonished by its minuteness – and its sense of geographic vulnerability. But don't forget that the Israel of 2002 isn't the Israel of 1967. Today's Israel is a significant regional and colonial power and, by some measures, the world's fourth largest military establishment. It is, in short, a mighty nation.
Whereas the Palestinians' desperation is a measure of their weakness. They are so weak that their leader, Yasser Arafat, can be jailed in a couple of darkened rooms.
"While the failings of the Palestinian leadership have been abysmal and the crimes of Palestinian terrorists extremely bloody, the fact is that Israel has the military and political initiative," writes Judt. "Responsibility for moving beyond the present impasse thus falls primarily, though not exclusively, on Israel."
Why are the Israelis blind to this? Why do they insist on regarding themselves as, in Judt's words, "a small victim community, defending themselves with restraint and reluctance against overwhelming odds"? Arafat may have been an appalling leader. But Sharon is every bit as appalling – as the massacres in Lebanon attest. As his present policies prove. Arafat stands condemned for wasted opportunities but Israel has wasted much of the past 35 years. "In that time Israelis have built illegal compounds in the occupied territories and grown a carapace of cynicism towards the Palestinians, whom they regard with contempt." And the US has been "manipulated shamelessly".
Describing Sharon as "Israel's dark id", Judt speaks for many friends of Israel when he says that the Prime Minister has proven as bad as many of us feared. His vision clouded by his hatred of Arafat, his policies have denied Israel credible Palestinian negotiators. "If he ever gets rid of Arafat, and the bombers keep coming, as they will, what will Sharon do then?" asks Judt. "And what will he do when young Arabs from Israel itself, inflamed by Israel's treatment of their cousins in occupied Jenin and Ramallah, volunteer for suicide missions? Will he send the tanks into Galilee? Put up electric fences around the Arab districts of Haifa?"
Israelis can't forget the war of 1948, the Arabs' refusal to recognise their state before 1967 and the random massacres of the past year. But the Palestinians can't forget the mass expulsions of 1948, the land expropriations, the colonisation of the West Bank, the political assassinations.
But the enemies in Northern Ireland are learning to negotiate and will learn to forget. Judt reminds us of a 1944 SS massacre – the burning alive of 700 French men, women and children in the village of Oradour. Yet a few years later "France and Germany came together to form the core of a new European project".
Yes, Israel's present policy is "a road to nowhere". As Judt says, "there is no alternative to peace negotiations and a final settlement. And if not now, when?" firstname.lastname@example.org
----- Original Message -----From: GEOFF SEIDNERTo: Switzer, TomCc: the australianSent: Sunday, May 26, 2002 9:13 PMSubject: Re: Article in response to Phillip Adams V 3.1!!MORE CORRECTIONS MADE: MAINLY 'TYPOS', AND ADDITIONS AT THE LATTER PART ETCFeatures / Opinion Editor;Dear Mr Switzer,Please note below article. Adams should not be allowed to get away without some recourse. If you cannot publish for some reason, please profer to your letters Editor, Judith Elen. it would be SOME letter!Geoffrey Seidner13 Alston Gr East St Kilda 3183 Ph 03 9 525 9299 0407 525 929A PEACE OF WHAT?!Phillip Adams has not penned anything of value over the past decade.[Many have written letters attesting to this over the years. Give up, Phillip, you can always call it 'writers' block.] Letter writers to the Australian have frequently written, decrying his half a dozen - or more - tirades against the Prime Minister. All within the past year. His latest attack seems to be Israel:The Australian, May 25 -26 2002 . [The Review, page R24]He seeks 'protection' for his anti Israeli views by coalescing with an Arab apologist [Robert Fisk]and a motley band of academics he thinks add gravitas to outrageous ideas.Sadly he makes an unhealthy variation on the discreditable anti semites by line, with these words:"I am pro Israel. I'm also pro Palestinian.This is not a contradiction....''[Tell me - just the two of us .... are your best friends still Jewish?]Of course not, Phillip - of course it is not a contradiction! You are merely trying to hide your malfeasance via an aged contrivance. Me thinks you doth protest too much, or merely trying to con the reader into believing that the following verbiage is 'balanced'He attempts to make a comparison with France and the Algerian Civil War of 1954 -1962, without pointing out the unfair comparative dichotomy; Israel's significant under -reaction , and France's arguably different approach. There is no valid comparison for many other reasons; space mitigates against a prolix dissemination. In fact these discredited / comparative views were promulgated by Fisk on 17 /4/ 2001 in The Independent. It lacked objectivity then and was deservedly, widely criticised.Adams suggests, in an abstruce way- that the Arabs / Palestinians will eventually accept Israel's right to exist. Eventually! Perhaps another 55 years? How many more terrorist attacks? Then he makes an oblique jump in logic by ignoring all the agreements that they have broken. Somehow he manages to whitewash the major terrorist group [Hamas], calling them ''community based'', [sounds like a mothers' play- group, the way it is put!] suggesting that they will co operate in some sort of ''stability and shared security concerns'' Only an academic would try to get away with this piece of disengenious pap!'Generously' he then postulates that there will be no Arab right of return, then goes on; ''.... and it is time to abandon the anachronistic Jewish one'' Tell me Mr Adams, did you somehow forget what you wrote earlier? Let me quote your gratuituos words:''...and I include myself in this category -cite the Holocaust , arguing that this greatest of attrocities allows Jews to make great claims on the world''So here we have a true academic in all sorts of trouble; effectively banning these same Jews .... Holocaust et al - from entering Israel as citizens !! Only an academic could ......The true leftie in Adams even allows him to have a go at the USA; ''Behind every Israeli refusal to face the inevitability of hard choices stands the implicit guarantee of the US''Hey Adams; are you really suggesting that the might of America will come down on the Palestinians / Arabs? Because in the very next paragraph you write;''...Today's Israel is a significant regional and colonial power and, by some measures, the world's fourth largest military establishment. It is , in short, a mighty nation.''Only an academic could so tie himself up in subtle self - contradictions! He seeks to somehow disparage Israel for being in one instance in de facto need of USA help, and then neatly , shamelessly suggesting a mutually exclusive concept!! Only an academic could......Whilst begrudgingly agreeing that ''Arafat stands condemned for wasted opportunities'', within the same sentence he somehow manages to blame Israel; ''but Israel has wasted much of the past 35 years''[Yes,Adams, in a manner of speaking, you may be right. It is arguable that Israel has wasted much time and thousands of the lives of her citizenry by believing that an agreement could be reached as part of many peace overtures and consessions! ]Only an academic could justify this by rambling on, as per below, amongst other things.Possibly the worst of this article is his suggestion of a quid pro quo relationship between what HE calls ''politicall assasinations'' and ....[so -called!!!] '' .....mass expulsions of 1948, [the so- called!!!!] ''land expropriations, the colonisation of the West Bank ,'' [and - worst of all!!!] THE POLITICALL ASSASINATIONS'' !!He has a credibility problem, again. Why try to create moral equivalence between the murder of a five year old girl in her bed and the military reaction against terrorists who somehow can bring themselves to such acts of depravity? I could not believe academics could......Never mind the attempts are revising history re 1948 ; ''...mass expulsions of 1948, the land expropriations .....'' Not enough time / opportunity to give you a history lesson in this article.Stick to writing John Howard articles and simply bore people to death.Geoffrey Seidner