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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Earth to Netanyahu: Take the "long term ceasefire" offer from Hamas


One grows weary of the rightwing Israeli notion that there can continue to be "managed conflict" until such time as the Palestinians lay down their arms, either physically, or rhetorically (the outsized "Right of Return", "1967 or bust", 'unilateral declaration", etc.). Or, as in his latest speech, that the arab world is transformed to embrace the same levels of "democracy" as exists in America. (Isn't that just a variation on the idealist approach that peace has to wait - and wait, and wait - until every vestige of antisemitism is extinguished in the arab world, every anxiety over it erased entirely?)

Of course, it's very clever for Netanyahu (perhaps even backed by Israel public opinion) to demand a 'formal end' to the conflict (i.e., the oddly non-modern, oddly non-democratic notion of a "Jewish state"). But is that with or against human nature? Is that really how most conflicts end?

Or, is it more reasonable that, once the long hoped for blessings of peace start to flow, that people will be loath to vote for 'the irrendentist minority' that wants to destroy the wealth of families, bring everyone back into a state of war? In other words, that "terror" or "rejectionist" attitudes be made to atrophy (just as we try to do with COIN?), when there are viable alternative futures. [Isn't that another type of 'managed conflict', the risk that we all live with that some among us reject society as we've set it up and wish to destroy the peace?]

What is Israel willing to risk for peace? Sure, they have been burned in the past. But rolling up the bridges is not an option. They keep telling everyone that they can manage the conflict ad infinitum, but that is not going to work either. It continues to be a flashpoint. That flashpoint is not just antisemitism (even though it may make antisemitism). So it must be dealt with and it requires U.S. attention, as the only nation that continues to offer almost unconditional Israel support, despite growing imperative to deal fairly and fully with the foreign policy of emerging democracies in the region.

People - the Palestinian people! - need to know what they are fighting for in tangible terms. We've seen that the 'confidence building measures' approach to peace is too much. It's too easy for extremists to scuttle the progress, especially with governments/leadership-councils who have scant accountability. Extremists on either side (including Netanyahu, who built settlements with Sharon so fast during the 1990s it would make your head spin).

This means that some re-figured approach, with different types of contingencies, perhaps even through the hapless U.N., is fit to put pressure on both sides.

It's time to release the forces of freedom, of people who are fighting for peace, once again to take risks, and to put an end to people who keep saying, "Tomorrow", "not now", or "just one more settlement on the disputed land" can't hurt or prejudice the 'peace process'.