Monday, March 2, 2015
Square peg, round hole
So Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is in the US to address Congress, and the pro/anti battle lines are drawn. As much as I pride myself on my knowledge of the goings on in the world, I'll admit my understanding of Israel is like that proverbial mile-wide, foot-deep river. Somebody please throw out some positions for me to ponder.
Generally I'm a supporter of Israel. Pretty strong, actually. I admire their tenacity, their vigilance, the fact they keep their eye on the prize....namely never again letting themselves get into a position where they can be annihilated. They seem to have taken a pretty nasty looking piece of real estate, land that the former Arab landlords had done virtually nothing with during their stewardship, and made it bloom. Now some of it at least is green and productive.
Their relatively tiny defense force routinely kicks the ass of combined Arab armies many times their size and potential power. Israel doesn't seem to be a serial rattler of their nuclear sabre. They have nukes, and everyone knows it, but they never talk about them.
Nukes seem to be Israel's unspoken ace in the hole. In contrast, Iran (which isn't Arab, BTW) wants nukes, but they've stated publicly what they will do with theirs, and it doesn't have a pretty ending. Israel just seems smarter than their adversaries.
My understanding is that the Palestinians are upset with Israel because they want a homeland of their own where they can run their own lives without interference. I don't blame them. It is also my understanding that Israel offered them that IF they could show they were capable of policing their own people.
When they could crack down on the forces that lob missiles at Israel and otherwise plot to kill Israelis, then Israel would back off and adopt a "live and let live" policy. But Yassar Arafat (the PLO leader at the time) realized that if that happened, he would be without a job, so he scuttled the offer. Yes...No?
Egypt accepted Israel's offer (and it cost Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat his life) and kept their hot-heads relatively in line, Israel ceded the Sinai back to them, and all has been quiet on that front for decades since. It can work.
That will apparently still not happen with Gaza and the West Bank because the thugs Israel wants the authorities to crack down on are the very thugs in power....Hamas. I can't say I blame Israel for maintaining a strong upper (iron) hand. When a neighbor's avowed policy is to kill you, you can't unilaterally let down your guard.
On the flip side, I don't understand why Israel keeps allowing new settlements to be built on "disputed" land in the West Bank. Why? Is that the ONLY land left to build on? I don't think so. This just seems like pouring salt on an open wound. Why go out of your way to piss off your opponent?
At the heart of it all is the fact that the Arabs are miffed that Israel still controls land captured during the Six Day War back in 1967. (Arabs don't want Jews on ANY land in the region, period.) They need to get over it.
Look at history: most countries today, in every part of the world, include land that at one time or another was part of another country. The entire Mideast is land taken from the Ottomans (Turkey) after WWI, who earlier stole it from...uh...I can't remember. My state of Texas is in fact land that was claimed by "Texians" who kept it as a war prize after the defeat of Mexican strongman Santa Anna back in 1836. And do we need to talk about how the first Europeans in the New World seized lands from Native Americans? Shit happens, OK?
So on the surface my sympathies are with Israel 90% of the time. Am I missing something? Are there some material facts I'm not considering? Why can't cooler, more reasonable heads sit down and work things out?
'Course, following that reasoning, why can Democrats and Republicans sit down and work things out? *sigh*