Palestinian State: If We Build It, Answers Will Come genre: Hip-Gnosis & Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Field of Dreams by Michele Elaine Wilson - 2005

The prevailing opinion is that the Middle East is a very complex and complicated region rife with centuries of sectarian, tribal, cultural, and religious differences. I agree with that characterization with regards to attempting to summarize the area historically. As to the current problems that have spiraled into a near full scale regional war, I’m convinced that the solution to the many issues rests solely upon one defining problem…from which all others emanate and from which all others can be resolved. In fact, in what some may call my fanciful Hollywood formulaic prescription, one particular movie quotation seems to capture the essence of my proposed story line…“If you build it, they will come". The “it" is none other than a Palestinian state.

Dissect the situation any way you choose but you will always come back to the need to provide for an autonomous Palestinian state. Should there be any doubt; one need merely follow the underlying sentiment that has led to the formation of the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, and numerous other anti-Israeli / pro-Palestinian organizations. Further, if one were to attempt to understand the dynamics at play in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion as well as the failure of the Iraqi people to view the American troops as liberators (that glorious scenario envisioned by Dick Cheney and his band of neoconservatives who metaphorically run around shooting others in the face with reckless abandon), one must only realize that the United States is seen as an obstacle to freedom in the Middle Eastern mindset.

As with those who doubt Israel will ever allow for a Palestinian state, so too do the Iraqi’s doubt that the United States will ever fully implement an autonomous Iraq. They make that conclusion by extrapolation…one that says if the United States is fully supportive of Israel and Israel has yet to provide for a Palestinian state, then why would the U.S. ever provide for an Iraqi state since they, like the Israeli’s, will always be able to identify the potential for an independent Iraq to threaten the security of the region and ultimately the United States.

Believe it or not, the United States has played kingmaker in the region for decades…arranging for those seen as acceptable or malleable to U.S. interests to gain or retain power…and even to remove them from power at such time as the alliance is no longer strategically satisfying. I don’t offer that observation in order to summarily condemn U.S. actions…some were necessary and prudent…however, they are also open to interpretation by those within the region and others as acts of imperialist intervention solely motivated by the prevailing interests of the United States.

The point is that if “A" plus “B" leads to “C", and even if such calculation is necessary though harsh, one can’t expect those who may be observing to simply ignore the math…we must be realistic that our actions have consequences…even if we deemed our actions advisable.

The neoconservative mindset is such that they expect consequences but they intend to deal with them through power or force. They believe that if we remain the biggest kid on the block, we can dictate to the block. The rationale says that because they hold power, they can dictate reality…and when perceptions don’t match reality, they simply and methodically apply force to achieve the reality they desire. Missing from that analysis is the formula that always evolves once a group of individuals coalesce around the perception that they have a bully in their midst…they realize they cannot confront the bully one on one or directly since they acknowledge they cannot defeat the bully in that manner…so they adopt other tactics. The Middle East is a textbook example of this eventuality.

Also missing from the equation is the benevolence / malevolence consideration. I try to keep my assertions simple so let me offer an example that most people can relate to. In virtually every work environment there is some hierarchy whereby some individuals are established as authorities with the power to affect the lives of those they supervise or manage. It doesn’t take long for those who are subject to the authoritarian figure to determine if that individual is a benevolent supervisor or one they feel operates out of malevolence.

Frequently this supervisory dynamic is acted out without any real reasoned analysis since that person may be the owner of the company or may be so well connected to those within the ownership that malevolent actions can be carried out with little consequence to the person in authority. At the same time, those individuals who answer to the person in authority will likely be negatively impacted (perhaps overworked, mistreated or fired). Often absent from the analysis is the impact such situations have on the morale of the employees and ultimately the success of the company…which has to compete with other similar companies.

We’ve all seen trigger happy employers who believe termination is the preferred tool to resolve problems. However, with each termination, the remaining employees make a determination as to the legitimacy of the termination. Over time, a belief may be created amongst the employee base that those in authority are malevolent and so begins a process to undermine or sabotage the supervisor or the company. As the belief grows, the ability to root out the dissenters becomes more difficult…as one employee is terminated and another arrives, they are frequently greeted with negative information from coworkers about the propensity of those in authority to be malevolent and they are therefore likely won over before ever having the opportunity to make their own objective evaluations.

Over time, the impressions and beliefs held by present and past employees’ travels beyond the confines of the company. Other companies employees may become aware of the malevolence and refuse to apply for work with the negatively identified company or the entire industry may adopt the same beliefs and seek to isolate the company or facilitate its demise.

The bottom line is that the perceptions of people will have impact at some point regardless of one’s proximity to power. Typically, such entities eventually fail because they are unable to maintain the favor of enough individuals to perpetuate the power they hold…whether that be from losing the support of those within or from the actions of those who are operating in the surrounding environment.

Goodwill is not a commodity that can be turned off and on at one’s discretion like a spigot. It is ultimately driven by perceptions and once perceptions have deteriorated, the benevolence needed to reverse the perceptions unfortunately grows disproportionately. Despite notions to the contrary, the masses are for the most part adept at evaluating core sincerity and integrity. Additionally, they are far quicker to attribute actions negatively than they are to give the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, they are also reticent to reverse their conclusions once they have been adopted. That’s simply human nature.

I think the example does a reasonable job of describing the dilemma in the Middle East. It is further complicated by the amount of time that the situation has been allowed to fester and the fact that terminations in this theater are actually fatalities. Sadly that has made it vulnerable to succumbing to arguments that are predicated on debating the “chicken or the egg" or “who did what to whom and when"…none of which serve to move the situation towards resolution.

Nonetheless, it is time for tangible actions that can change perceptions. At the same time, this will require acknowledging some unpleasant realities as well as demonstrating untold patience and restraint. What I mean to say is that even if Israel moves forward with the establishment of a Palestinian state, there will be individuals on both sides that seek to undermine the effort and that will remain consumed with hatred and ill-intentions. Those individuals will carry out acts of violence regardless…but they can only be defeated by changing the hearts and minds of those who surround them. The power of perception must become the transforming fuel of persuasion thereby reversing the very process that created and now stokes the current conflict.

Over the course of the last few days, I have read and listened to numerous individuals that have argued that now is the time to proceed to extinguish all those who are identified as Islamic extremists or terrorists in addition to Al Qaeda (sometimes specifically defined as Hamas and Hezbollah…sometimes with Iran and Syria included). Much like the actions of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan to destroy Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the insurgency, some are calling for similar efforts by Israel and the United States in the rest of the Middle East. Anyone who witnessed 9/11 surely has some appreciation for this sentiment and may well be inclined to support such suggestions.

As I’ve thought about this possibility, I keep coming back to the same prevailing questions…who are these people and how do we identify them if we in fact want to destroy them all? How do we kill them without impacting their friends and relatives who may not fully support them now but may well decide to take up the cause once those they care about have been eliminated? When will we be able to say the job is done and move forward with a plan to provide for a Palestinian state? How do we extinguish the perceptions that are fomenting these individuals and organizations such that they have no further appeal or ability to recruit others?

I also keep coming back to the same answers. We simply cannot succeed in killing all the individuals and organizations that oppose Israel or the United States. We have to eliminate the perceptions that exist and that are being fueled by our further actions. I recall George Bush stating that we would eventually win the war on terror but that it was going to be a long endeavor. Looking back, I’m not sure I understood what he may have been saying and I’m not convinced he did either.

Frankly, today I see the terminology as part of the problem…we simply cannot achieve the peace we seek by prosecuting the kind of war we have chosen. Perhaps we can lessen the chances of another 9/11 but the eventual reality of this type of “war" may well be an existence akin to that of the people of Israel…where the perpetual reality is such that so long as the impetus for the hatred exists we will live with the inevitability that every once in a while a suicide bomber will walk into a busy restaurant and detonate a bomb.

It is time to jump ahead to the core problem. Every effort should be employed to immediately establish an independent Palestinian state. If we were to invest a portion of the funds we anticipate spending in Iraq over the next few years on building a functional Palestinian state we could demonstrate to those who distrust or despise the United States that we understand the underlying regional dynamics that have led to perpetual instability and conflict in the Middle East. It may also provide the backdrop for the resolution of other festering problems within the region.

The risks of such an endeavor are far outweighed by the potential benefits. Further, as the most powerful nation in the world, we would still retain the ability to use force where required. However, we would be doing so after having done the right thing which would elevate our moral standing in the world and have the likelihood to change the perceptions of the people that inhabit the region. We could then act from a position of justifiable strength and integrity.

If we continue down the current path, we may well not be able to sustain the costs in currency and conflict. As the region and perhaps the world stands on the precipice of an escalating period of instability and expanding wars we have very little to lose. If we build a Palestinian state, answers will come.

Daniel DiRito | July 15, 2006 | 5:23 PM
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Comments

1 On July 17, 2006 at 4:08 PM, jimmy the dhimmi wrote —

The biggest myth that people like you have bought into, is that when Hamas, Hezballah, and the PLO have stated their goal as “ending the occupation of Palestine," they are talking about West bank and Gaza. In fact, they are talking about all of “Palestine" which means from the Jordan river to the Mediterranian. It is not about 1967, 1948, 1922 or whenever a border of the Jewish state was defined. Its about the simple fact that Israel has Jews living there. Because of a fundamentalist interpretation of their religion, they believe Jews are the sworn enemy of Islam, and must be exiled, exterminated or subjugated while living in a Waqf that is adminstered by Sharia laws.

We were welcomed as liberators in Iraq in 2003, but as time went on and the power was still out, and street violence continued and people realized the war was not over, Iraqi citizens got fed up. It would be a dream come true for Israel if the Palestinian people responded to their occupation the same way the Iraqi people deal with the Americans. Thousands of tips pour in to American HQ, telling the occupation forces where the terrorists are hiding out. Iraqis are volunteering in droves to form a security force that persecutes terrorists, instead of supporting them. Israel has consistantly shown a willingness to live side by side with a sovereign Palestinian state. One only needs to read the Hamas charter to see where they stand.

2 On July 17, 2006 at 4:10 PM, JP wrote —

I must disagree somewhat, Jimmy. Removing all Jews from the entirety of Palestine is a solution which is not reasonable and that we cannot support; just as is the removal of all Arabs. Two separate autonomous states are the only solution.

It may not fully placate the extremists within Islam, but moderates would probably be open to a solution–acknowledging that both religions claim a “right" to be in the holy land.

3 On July 17, 2006 at 4:17 PM, Jimmy the Dhimmi wrote —

Removing all Jews from the entirety of Palestine is a solution which is not reasonable and that we cannot support;

Of course it is unreasonable, it is insanity! You must have misunderstood the point of my post. A two state solution is the only reasonable outcome; unfortunately, the extremists are in control of the palestinian authority and have managed to convince much of the palestinian public there to the cause of obliteration of Israel.

Hamas and Hesballah have no interest in a two-state solution. That is why they must be defeated or marginalized somehow.

4 On July 17, 2006 at 4:19 PM, wj wrote —

Actually, there is a necessary preliminary step: build a Palestinian political party (or more than one even) which is a) secular , like the vast majority of Palestinians, and b) not massively corrupt . Give them something besides a choice of horrors to vote for, and the Palestinians will grab it.

Then, and only then, do you have a shot at a Palestinian state which can function, and live with its neighbors.

5 On July 17, 2006 at 4:21 PM, Lewis wrote —

The [...] article seems to suggest (in my interpretation) that if we just be nice to the Palestinians, ignore their unacceptable behavior and give them tubs of money, then they will eventually become friendly to us and behave in a more responsible manner.

Duh.

That’s exactly what we and the western world have been doing for quite a while. It seems to have worked quite well now, hasn’t it.

6 On July 17, 2006 at 4:23 PM, Daniel wrote —

Jimmy,

I believe you jump over the point of the argument I am making which is that in the absence of establishing a Palestinian state, there will be increasing radicalization and conflict within the region. I understand that Hamas and Hezbollah are radical in many of their beliefs…and that the PLO has been in the past and while it has moderated to a degree, it still has factions that remain committed to the destruction of Israel.

However, if we seek to end the radicalization and shut down the radical groups, establishing a Palestinian state has a greater likelihood of achieving that objective than the continuing and expanding military efforts. Despite current efforts to the contrary, political resolutions are the only legitimate hope for ending the conflicts that have plagued the region.

Israel may well succeed in weakening Hezbollah and Hamas but until they can affect the sentiment that fosters membership in these organizations, they will simply reconstitute. While Israel is diminishing Hezbollah, they are also making it more difficult for the Lebanese government to be an agent for change. Until the sentiment of the Lebanese population is such that they see Hezbollah as the obstacle to peace within the region, the government will remain impotent.

The existing Lebanese government is subject to the political realities of the nation. As long as many within the country support a Palestinian state and continue to see Hezbollah as a vehicle to that end, the government will be unable to shut down Hezbollah. They could attempt to do so but the likely outcome would be a full scale civil war.

While many praised the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, a civil war may only increase Syria’s support of Hezbollah and weaken an already fragile Lebanese government. That won’t improve the current situation or the long term prospects of a favorable environment within Lebanon. The U.S. supported the withdrawal of Syria but little has been done to empower the existing Lebanese government.

I agree with you that Hamas and Hezbollah need to be “eliminated or marginalized". We disagree on the methods employed to achieve that outcome. Do you actually believe that they can be extinguished militarily? How does one destroy the sentiment that allows them to flourish? Until someone addresses that problem, they can’t be eliminated. Hence taking away the issue that drives support for these radical groups…the Palestinian issue…would over time (time that will be needed for the populations to turn against Hezbollah and Hamas)…bring about their demise.

I welcome hearing a scenario you feel would be more effective…in the long term…not just for a period of time after Israel damages the capacity of these groups to inflict military damage. Keep in mind that I also expect to see these groups conduct more suicide bombings in Israel in the near future…which is in my opinion an unacceptable, though inevitable, outcome of this current conflict and reinforces my argument that a political solution will be necessary.

JP,

I agree that we must win over those moderates because they are the people who can eventually marginalize the radical groups…until that happens the radical groups are being empowered by the current military actions. That may seem to be counterintuitive…but I believe it is accurate.

WJ,

Unfortunately, the Palestinian population voted to empower Hamas in the most recent elections. I don’t believe that vote tells us that the Palestinian population is opposed to an Israeli state…I believe the vote is a measure of the desperation of the Palestinian people. Given an alternative (a Palestinian state), I believe a majority of Palestinians would embrace a peaceful region and begin the process of marginalizing those who would remain radical proponents of removing Israel from the region (polling has previously demonstrated as much).

Lewis,

I appreciate your right to interpret my suggestions though I reserve the right to disagree with your analysis and your conclusions. In my opinion, your argument succumbs to the frequently offered “they" formula. One must distinguish between the visibly radical Hamas and the virtually powerless Palestinian citizenry. There is no doubt that Hamas has behaved badly and many Palestinians have supported their actions…but that may be nothing more than the lack of any meaningful alternative. We have evidence that suggests the existing approach isn’t working. Put the Palestinians to the test and see where they stand once and for all.

If we create a Palestinian state, we have an opportunity to win over the majority of Palestinians. Taking that risk isn’t any worse than repeating the never ending cycle of approaching the precipice and then backing away because radicals within Hamas sabotage the situation. Again, why not find out where the Palestinian population stands?

Perhaps the Palestinian population would be motivated to shun and remove those radicals if they had been given the Palestinian state they say they seek. If that didn’t happen, Israel would still have all the same alternatives currently employed…but more importantly they would have the moral high ground (and the support of any rational nation) with which to prosecute any necessary actions to extinguish the problems. As it stands now, both sides are subject to criticism such that lines are drawn and sides are taken.

If a Palestinian state were created and radical groups still sought to destroy Israel, there would be no doubt as to their evil motivations and the civilized world would have to support Israel or be seen as aligned with clearly radical and anti-Semitic groups. In that scenario, Israel and her allies would find little opposition to the conducting of whatever actions might be necessary to defeat such groups and any nations that might wrongfully align with them. I think that would be a much better scenario that the one we have witnessed for decades.

Thank each of you for your comments and observations. I fully enjoy the dialogue. I appreciate differing opinions because they expand the debate and hopefully allow me to find more “truth". I hope to hear more of your thoughtful insights.

Daniel

7 On July 17, 2006 at 4:25 PM, Shane wrote —

Why is moving Jews out of Palestine such an absurd proposition when the notion of moving them in was perfectly acceptable less than 60 years ago? If anything, advances in logistical technology would make the task of moving them out much easier than it was in the 1948 days of the steamship.

The religio-racist concepts underlying the Palestinian conflict expose the root of the problem. For instance, the entire notion that “God" chose the Israelites above all other nations of the earth is the epitome of racism (not to mention the clearly racist laws against the goyim, or non-Jews, contained within the Talmud). And the concept that “God," as a divine real estate broker, gave away land in the middle east but required the recipients of this “gift" to first enter the land and kill all living creatures is equally as absurd. Such thinking is clearly nothing more than the vestigial ideology of the ancient warrior tribes of Israel.

The year is 2006. The ideal that “God" loves a particular race of people more than others is no longer en vogue. Likewise, the concept that “to the victor go the spoils" has also been abandoned. The Jews in Occupied Palestine need to abandon their preoccupation ancient rhetoric as their justification for attempting to plunder a nation in modern times.

8 On July 17, 2006 at 4:27 PM, wj wrote —

Daniel,

Exactly. Nobody knows the horror of a “lesser of two evils" choice better than people who were forced to make it, knowing what it was, and knowing that they would have to live with the consequences. Which really describes the Palestinians in the last election.

9 On August 15, 2006 at 2:06 PM, brenda wrote —

Daniel, this is a very fine essay and analysis. You eloquently reflect many of my own ideas about the situation in the Middle East. And I do believe your proposal is, in effect, a cutting of the Gordian Knot.

Since I began looking into the various aspects of the Middle East turmoil -- about 3 years ago, before the 2003 US/Iraq war, which I opposed because I knew about the "sanctions" and smelled a scam -- since then I have learned that official explanations, commonly accepted wisdoms, about a situation being "too complex" for the average person to understand and hold an informed opinion on is nothing more than an extremely effective form of propoganda.

"Too complex" is what keeps us from asking questions and gathering facts and coming up with conclusions about what is going on.

Keep on thinking and writing, Daniel! I look forward to another piece.

Thought Theater at Blogged

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