“An island of rich Israelis set in a sea of Palestinian serfs”

Posted: March 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Right, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Fareed Zakaria describes the future image of Israel, while Ambassador Oren rejects the notion of an American peace plan

Israel opposes the idea of an American Peace settlement that will lead to the creation of a Palestinian state. According to Ambassador Michael Oren, who was interviewed on PBS, trying to force a solution from the outside will be like “forcing somebody to fall in love.”

Haaretz reports:

Asked if Israel wanted the Washington to present its own peace plan, Oren said:

“No. I think peace has to be made between two people sitting opposite a table. America can help facilitate that interaction. But at the end of the day, no one can force parties in any conflict in the world to make peace. It’s like forcing somebody to fall in love. We have to sit down and thresh it out between us.”

Oren added: “If we arrive at points where we can’t agree, we can’t close the gap between us, then we – both the Israelis and the Palestinians as well – are willing to look at various bridging formulas.”

“But America is not in a position where it’s going to come in and impose a plan. I don’t think that’s to anybody’s benefit. And I’m sure parties on all sides of this conflict understand that.”

The problem is that, left on its own, Israel would never leave the west bank. Even in the aftermath of the confrontation with the US administration last week, Netanyahu insisted that Israel will go on building Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. It is clear that all of Israel’s actions – as opposed to some of its declarations – are aimed at strengthening its control over the West Bank. This led even a realist and usually pro-Israeli person like Fareed Zakaria to saying that “this government has probably been the least responsive to concerns from Washington on the issue of the peace process in 20 years.”

In a Newsweek article, Zakaria writes:

“The central problem persists: Israel rules more than 3 million Palestinians who will never become citizens of Israel and yet do not have their own state. As they multiply, Israel’s status as a democracy becomes more and more complex; the country looks more and more like an island of rich Israelis set in a sea of Palestinian serfs.”

On CNN, Zakaria describes the current Israeli attitude as “a big mistake”. I agree with his analysis, but not with the conclusion: it’s not a mistake, it’s policy.

Notice the language Ambassador Oren uses to reject even the idea of an American offer. “It will be like forcing somebody to fall in love,” he says. It’s again this idea that the sole goal of the process is peace and security (the so-called “love”) for Israelis. But as I wrote before, and as Fareed Zakaria notes, the heart of the issue is the occupation, which holds 3 million Palestinians without basic rights for more than four decades. This is something Israelis simply don’t have in mind.

If Michael Oren or the Israeli government had a serious plan as how to solve this issue – not just vague lip service – it should have been heard a long time ago. Since all we get from Jerusalem is the usual rhetoric on why we can’t leave the West Bank, stop settling it or hand the Palestinians any rights, the world is right in offering it’s own solutions, and in applying more and more pressure on Israel.

3 Comments on ““An island of rich Israelis set in a sea of Palestinian serfs””

  1. 1 lisab said at 4:59 pm on March 21st, 2010:

    Great post and I agree wholeheartedly.

    Just one note: while the Freudian applications are interesting, “soul goal of the process” should read “sole goal”, as in “only”, not “neshama”.

  2. 2 Alex said at 2:20 am on March 23rd, 2010:

    Fareed Zakaria is one of the most astute political commentators in the US, in my opinion. But I think it is premature to say that Israel cannot be both democratic and Jewish, as is implied. Democracy allows, among other things, for dissension and critique: a good example is Israeli artist Yossi Lemel, who was featured here (http://leadel.net/talks/society-politics/yossi-lemel-holocaust-memories).

  3. 3 noam said at 4:59 am on March 24th, 2010:

    alex: israel is allowing less and less critique, especially if you are not Jewish.

    (sorry it took so long for your comment to appear on the site. I need to approve every comment that has a link, and I missed this one).