With the actions by Abbas and the Netanyahu government in the past few weeks, it is fair to say that this last round of peace talks has come to a fruitless close. But, will it be the last round of Oslo style peace negotiations? The left claims that if we lose the ideals set by Rabin and Arafat then all hopes for peace will be lost; Israel will be under constant military and economic threat from all sides until it collapses upon itself. The right, of which I count myself as a member, comes up with a more optimistic goal: coexistence in our holy land.
The original Jewish kingdoms were centered around Judea, Shomron, and Jerusalem. It would be a real shame for Israel, the Jewish state, to lose access to our historical, religious sites. That being said, the Oslo style process insists on relinquishing rights to some, if not all, of our important locations. The question is, why would that be in either party’s best interests? It is not as though these places are hotbeds of technology or agriculture so they do not serve the Palestinians well. It would be more historically acceptable to give the Palestinians most of the north; the Golan historically and now has seen (relatively) few Jews. That solution would also be more economically helpful for the Palestinians. Abbas and company’s goal is not to create a viable Palestinian state to live next to the state of Israel, but rather an independent Palestinian state in the space the Jewish state formerly “occupied”, from river to sea. Given that, why negotiate with them?
If we think about it logically, trying to come up with a solution where the Palestinians and Israelis would have their independent states yet still live in peace seems far-fetched if not fatuous. So there must be another way that we can stop the constant barrage of rockets and terrorist attacks that will actually produce results. I propose two courses of action: the first will earn Israeli and Palestinian leaders the Nobel Peace Prize, the second will earn the US bureaucrats the prestigious medal (after all, that is Secretary Kerry’s real goal).
The first option is coexistence; one state for one people. Israeli Arabs are Israelis, Israeli Jews are Israelis, why can’t Israeli Palestinians be Israelis? It is not as though Israel is a place where Muslims and Christians are persecuted for not being Jewish. In fact, far more persecuted are Israelis accused of being too Jewish! Israel is a thriving economy and already helps many Palestinians with jobs. If they were willing to suffer through economic prosperity, Palestinians could assimilate into the already Jewish and Arab society making on Israeli society. The key to this would be Israeli education for Palestinian children. Right now, Palestinian pupils are taught about the “evils” of Israel and are fed heinous lies about the “illegality” of the Jewish state. If both groups merged into one state, Israel could teach all children acceptance and other values that are held highly in every religion.
The second option is possibly more viable, but also more complicated. The United States and Israel are ready and willing to give billions of dollars of aid to Palestinians in order for any peace deal to work. Since there are only about five or six million Palestinians they could be absorbed by the United States quite easily. Absorption would allow Palestinians US standard of living as well as the most freedom of religion in the world. The United States would additionally train the Palestinians to work, helping them build better lives for themselves and their children. Two possible qualms with this situation are that the United States does not need five million new immigrants and that the Palestinians will not want to live under anything but sharia law. To answer the first, if the United States wants to orchestrate a peace process that will solve the conundrum vexing a particular strip of about 10,000 square miles for centuries, they will have to put their money where their mouth is. Immigrants have historically only helped the United States, and, if prompted to assimilate and work hard, the Palestinians will be no different. The second issue is simpler. The United States and Israel believe in self determination. But self determination is necessarily hinged on democracy, otherwise it immediately evaporates. Therefore it is impossible for the US to support, much less build, a state that would follow the tenants of sharia law.
If you ask Israelis or Palestinians what they want, they will tell you peace. But if you ask them if they think that this peace deal will work, they will tell you know. There is clearly something wrong in the way we are going about peace. Twenty years is certainly time enough to see the fecklessness of Oslo-style land swap peace deals. We need to move on from the stagnated era of Rabin and Arafat and into a new one controlled by young Israelis and Arabs who just want to build better lives for their children. We can start that today. I challenge all governments involved in the peace processes to serve your citizens; rethink the way you go about brokering peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and maybe we will be able to get somewhere.