Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Israel – Palestine Conflict: Hawks Don’t Get It

Former CIA director James Woolsey writes in WSJ that it is wrong for Israel to plan the withdrawal from West Bank (http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008442). He thinks that is a kind of concession to Palestine and it will only strengthen terrorist elements on the other side - Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah-Hamas axis. Woolsey thinks it is a concession by Israel with implicit backing by USA which demonstrates the weakness of West Alliance because Woolsey wants to hold Palestine to the same standard as like Israel. The standard he is talking is treating minority as full participant in the democracy and governance. He sites that how Israel allows 1.2 million Arabs the full participation in the Israel democracy and he wants the Palestine state also to allow 0.25 million Jews to equally participate in Palestine democracy.

This is absurd. Does Woolsey find ‘short changed’ when Israel continues to treat Arabs as full citizens but Palestine does not to Jews? That is the thing – Israel people have shown that West does not loose their law based State just because Terrorists does not play by the rule. It seems that Woolsey type Hawks find it hard to digest.

What is more important is Israel people have made this decision in a legitimate manner. Last election was fought on the issue of withdrawal from West Bank and Bibi’s Likud – the party of no withdrawal – was trounced. If Hamas victory is legitimate expression of Palestine people in a democracy, then so is the case for Israel too. True that Sharon was not committed to West Bank withdrawal and that is the specific policy measure initiated by Olmert; generally within the same framework of unilateral withdrawal which Sharon set up in the first place. But Olmert is not sneaking this policy by back door. He fought the election on this platform and got at least semblance of public approval for the same. No one in Israel will be surprised when the execution begins.

Think of this way – if democracy inclined Israel’s do not want to alter their correct treatment of Arabs within their state and at the same time do not want to be at the mercy of others of similar treatment for Jews in West Bank; what is the right course? It cannot be any different than withdrawal.

All the examples which Woolsey gives as past weaknesses by USA – Israel are not correct. He claims that Oslo / Rabin - Arafat accord was too much give away, Palestine thought they could get more and hence rejected that accord. But is Israel loosing more than that accord in the current withdrawal policy? Doesn’t seem so. Then it is not a loss. Further he sites Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon has strengthened Hezbolla and Hamas are stronger after Gaza withdrawal. But what about the fact that Israel has been able to preserve its strength by getting rid of useless conflicts? Is it not a big plus for Israel? Woolsey commits the same mistake all these Hawks commit – all battles must be win regardless of whether one has enough strength or not. All these Hawks think that Israel and Western Nation States have limitless treasure to pour on war and inexhaustible supply of teenagers to die in these battles. How wrong!

Israel public and Olmert are on a reasonable path in the given circumstances. To have your nation state in a fit order and peace, even if it means smaller than earlier, is much more important than to endlessly hemorrhage in trying to hold something which in the end is going away.

All that Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah-Hamas evil axis talk does have certain point. But the first order of the business is to be alive, to remain fit to end the war and bring peace rather than spend everything you have in one single battle.

Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA 95111
May 29, 2006.


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Chanakya said...


It really baffles me as to how people end up simplifying the Israel-Palestine problem. The UN accepting the existence of Israel in itself is an act of hypocrisy. UN split the erstwhile Palestinian state into Palestine and Israel which naturally was opposed by the Palestinians leading to conflict which goes on even today. Whether the approach of the Palestinians to bomb (a.k.a. ‘terrorizing’ by the west) to get 'freedom' is a matter of separate discussion. On one hand UN (and majority of countries in the world) endorses the post World War-II split which resulted in formation of Israel and on the other sits by and watches similar conflicts go on
To quote a few:
1. Basque in Spain
2. IRA in Ireland
3. Kashmir, ULFA, etc in India
4. Taiwan & Tibet in China
5. Chechnya in Russia
……The list goes on.

U.N. is an epitome of hypocrisy. 1947 when Jawaharlal Nehru approached UN regarding the invasion of Kashmir by ‘Pakistanis’, the esteemed organization turned a blind eye asking India & Pakistan to resolve the conflict bilaterally. Now at the behest of the United States of America, the UN want to be involved in the Peace process which India rightfully boffed at by saying the Kashmir problem will be sorted out with bilateral talks only. Governments around the world are equally hypocritical. LTTE till a few years back was not a ‘terrorist’ organization according to U.S.A. The only reason LTTE was categorized by US as terrorist was to justify their attack on Iraq and labeling Iran & North Korea as Axis-Of-Evil. Canada only recently named LTTE as terrorist organization because they felt that LTTE might be a ‘danger’ to their country, but coincidentally LTTE has been camped in Canada for a long time. Canada openly harbors Khalistan but opposes Quebec freedom movement. India supports Tibet but opposes separatist movements like ULFA and J&K freedom movement. China is hypocritical in a different way. They do not support any separatist movements. They ‘annex’ Tibet but still do not consider Sikkim as part of India. Again, this list is also very long which makes for a different thread of discussion.

Americans live their lives with an extremely simple attitude “We are the World”. This Frog-in-a-well approach to life has been one of the main reasons why 9/11 escaped the attention of the intelligence communities. This attitude is fine as long as you do not go about preaching righteousness to the world. The moment you go about ‘spreading freedom & democracy’ all around the world, you need to be aware that some efforts no matter how well-meant they may be, are bound to backfire. US almost openly taking Israel’s side in the Israel-Palestine conflict. But I question Israel’s right to exist as a country. If Jews are justified in moving to their purported holy land and staking claim to it as their own, thereby forming their own country from the split; then Basque, IRA, Kashmir, ULFA and Chechnya also should be allowed to exist as independent countries. In fact such movements should be encouraged worldwide. If that happens the world would end up moving back to the 13’th/14’th centuries where the world consisted of small fiefdoms ruled by ‘monarchs’. This would be a big step backward for humanity and would serve no fruitful purpose.

The question as to what the solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is still remains unanswered. Palestinians & Arabs would want annihilation of Israel which makes them no different than Hitler. To don the hat of my blog-name Chanakya, I would say let the Palestinians and Israelis hash it out and figure out what is best for them. There will be a few suicide bombers exploding themselves to ‘Jannat’ with the hope of meeting some virgins, and there would be a few tanks under the Star of David blasting some others in retaliation. End of the day it is in best interests for all others(including Arab Countries & U.S.A) not to be involved deeply in the talks. At the end either both the parties would end up being extinct or both would come to a realization (albeit late) that ‘An eye for an eye, and the world would end up blind’. Armed forces are a need as a deterrent and not as a necessity of life to achieve goals.

Warmest Regards.