After seven years of diplomatic neglect, George Bush has set aside a day – yes, one day – today – to try to work out the intractable six-decades-long Israel/Palestine problem.
What, pray tell, do they think they can accomplish in one day? Ask the people in the Middle East and you discover that Arabs and Jews can indeed agree on at least one thing: When asked that question, they all answer “Not much.”
Oy vey. Even the choice of location is damning: The United States Naval Academy is the setting, and the motto of the Navy is “Don’t give up the Ship” – invoking tenacity and determination, not diplomatic acumen and compromise. In Arabic, “Ana” means “I” and people the world over know the word “police.” A Saudi humorist joked that the choice of location was an arrogant message from Bush to the Middle East “I am the police.”
The question of borders has plagued both Israel and the neighbors for over 40 years, since June 4, 1967; and the implementation of the Six Day War armistice. Since then, conservative, some would say fundamentalist whack-job, settlers have made the occupied territories their home. Kicking them out of the West Bank will not be as easily achieved as the same feat was two years ago, when the settlers were evicted from Gaza. The Gaza Strip is not biblically significant. Jews do not have deep emotional or historical attachments to Gaza. Not so the West Bank, which is historically, theologically and emotionally significant to most Jews worldwide – let alone the “fundamentalist whack jobs” I just referenced. I can’t see removing them without violence. The issue of borders certainly isn’t going to be achieved in a day.
And you can’t talk about the borders without acknowledging the 800-pound-gorilla playing the zither in the sitting room: Jerusalem.
On paper, the equation balances. The Arab neighborhoods would fall under Palestinian control, and the Jewish neighborhoods would be controlled by Israel. Except it gets dicey real quick – the neighborhoods are intertwined.
Ask any chemist – when you are working with volatile compounds, the slightest variation from the recipe and it will blow up in your face. And what cocktail could be more volatile than the 35 acres of the walled city of Old Jerusalem? All three of the major monotheistic religions consider Old Jerusalem and the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount to be sacred ground.
The problems are exacerbated by Christianist Zionists (who should make with the butting out already) who stick their noses where they don’t belong and urge their constituencies to pressure the Israeli government to take Jerusalem off the negotiating table. Fortunately, we are making headway, and even the occasional Zionist Rabbi Is waking up and smelling the coffee. But before any Jew throws in with that lot, remember they are mentally ill. They want to precipitate Armageddon and damn us all to their hell. Those Jews who wake up pissed every morning that the Messiah didn’t come last night find natural allies in them. The rest of us find ulcers, migraines and anxiety. Again we have a problem that’s going to take more than a day to sort out.
And then you have nearly four and a half million Palestinians living in limbo, many still in refugee camps. And everyone, Jew and Arab alike, needs to be scolded by my grandmother for being obstinate jackasses and using the Palestinian people as pawns, especially the Arab world. They really screwed the Palestinians in 1948, the bastards. All of the Arab neighboring states should be held accountable. They are every bit as culpable as Israel in contributing to the suffering of the Palestinian people and need to be called out on that publicly. There is plenty of sin and blame to go around. Everyone has behaved abominably and nobody gets a pass. This can’t even be mentioned at Annapolis. Hell, it would take a good 6 months of Arabs storming the door every time that little bit of reality comes up and is said aloud. I shake my head in disbelief. They offer a day? Oh, the humanity…
And how the hell do they even bring up security in the time allowed?
This is why I don’t often write about Israel and Palestine. It’s damned infuriating. No one is asking me, but if anyone did, I would say Frost was employing irony; good fences do NOT make good neighbors. The first order of business should be to tear down that damned fence and fill in the trenches, and restore the 10% of the territory that it’s construction seized.
Then I would say let Gaza go to Egypt. Give the West Bank to Jordan. Give the Golan Heights to Syria, and let a disinterested third party settle the border with Lebanon, and nobody would get to whine about it. And suck it up. Learn to live with a divided Jerusalem.Until everyone concerned learns how to act, I would make Old Jerusalem a U.N. protectorate. Don’t like it? Learn how to act.