October 11, 2010

The Middle East Peace Talks: Preordained to Fail

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

The latest efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians are hanging by a thread, which should be no surprise.  Perhaps, based on the 2000 Camp David peace talks, sponsored by President Clinton, when the Palestinians walked away, essentially, from a complete resolution that seemed to be within reach, and the 2008 Annapolis peace talks sponsored by President Bush, which also ended in failure, another round of direct talks was destined also to fail.  There were, and are, no shortages of reasons for pessimism.

The talks will fail.  Even if some so-called agreement produces a document with Israeli and Palestinian signatures, peace – real peace – is not at hand, nor, sadly, is peace – real peace – the mutual objective of both the Israelis and the Palestinians at this time. Real peace, while entirely consistent with the vast majority of Israelis’ aspirations (notwithstanding the strident rejectionist camp within Israel), is still anathema to too many Palestinians who are in power (think Hamas).  Peace is what Hamas is in power to prevent.     Not only have the Palestinians not shown any change in their refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish homeland deriving from the Jewish peoples’ historic and unbroken connection to Israel stretching back almost three millennia, but their own leadership is hopelessly and deeply fractured, not just over the fine points of an eventual peace, but over so much as even paying lip service to the notion of Israel’s survival.  Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority which controls the West Bank, does not have the power to make peace with Israel, and Hamas, which controls Gaza, is dedicated to Israel’s destruction. There is a desperate need for peace talks, but not between Israel and the Palestinians, but, rather, between the Palestinians and the Palestinians.

A digression into some history is in order here.  Following the May 14th, 1948 departure of the last British forces from Haifa, David Ben-Gurion declared the creation of the state of Israel in full accordance with the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which the Arab bloc rejected. The United States and the Soviet Union immediately recognized the new nation of Israel. Simultaneously, Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq declared war with Saudi-Arabia and Sudan also sending troops to assist in the annihilation of the new nation.  Trygve Lie, Secretary General of the United Nations declared this coordinated invasion to be the “first armed aggression the world has seen since the end of the Second World War.”

According to UN figures 726,000 Palestinians left between 1947 and 1949.  During that same time, and for a few years thereafter, approximately 850,000 Jews who had lived in Arab lands for centuries found that they were no longer welcome and many resettled in Israel. The Arab invaders, unable to defeat Israel, refused to make peace and, at the same time, refused citizenship to the thousands of refugees who remained in areas under their control, leaving many to live in squalid refugee camps. Tragically, they, or more accurately, their descendants have become pawns in the middle-east conflict demanding the right of return — even now 62 years later. Arab nations in the vicinity, particularly Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon have refused to absorb them.  Indeed, Jordan and Lebanon have, at times, waged war against the more militant Palestinian factions within their borders.  It took approximately 5 years for millions of victims of World War II to resettle elsewhere, but after 6 decades the offspring of these refugees continue to be held in squalid refugee camps. 

The area has seen very few years of peace in the intervening years. The conflict that really changed the landscape, however, was the 1967 six-day war, which began when Arab armies again massed for invasion and President Nasser of Egypt, closed the straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, an action which Israel had warned would be considered an act of war.  This time the overwhelming Arab forces were defeated within a week by the Israeli Defense Force led by its legendary general, Moshe Dayan.  As a result, Israel seized the eastern half of Jerusalem, Hebron and the entire West Bank from Jordan (the latter being a protectorate ‑ not a nation), the Golan Heights from Syria the Sinai desert and the Gaza Strip (an Egyptian protectorate) from Egypt.   Israel learned two lessons from these years of conflict:  (1) If peace was ever to be established with its neighbors, its principal bargaining chip would be the return of Arab lands, and  (2) that it needed a buffer area to protect itself from future attacks.

Subsequently, due to the enlightened leadership of Anwar Sadat who succeeded Nasser and the vision of King Hussein of Jordan, and after yet another war in defeating Arab armies that launched a surprise attack on the Jewish high holiday of Yom Kippur in 1973 (in which Arab armies had some initial success which burnished Mr. Sadat’s image as a hero in Arab eyes), Israel entered into peace treaties first with Egypt and then with Jordan.  Israel returned the Sinai and Egypt washed its hands of Gaza.  In the treaty with Jordan, King Hussein renounced any further Jordanian control over the West Bank.  Both Egypt and Jordan recognized Israel and the nations established diplomatic relations.  By and large with minor exceptions this is the geography of the land today.

For at least the last two decades, efforts have been made, mostly by the United States, with involvement by Russia, the UN and the EU to prod the inhabitants of Gaza and the West Bank (i.e., Palestinians) and Israel to enter into a comprehensive peace treaty.  Conferences in Madrid and later (secretly) in Oslo established a framework for what has been alternately called a “roadmap” or “the peace process.”  Toward the ends of both the Administrations of Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush peace talks were held in the United States, first at Camp David in 2000 and then in Annapolis in November 2007.  As recounted by the principal negotiator for President Clinton, Dennis Ross, Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister, offered Yasser Arafat essentially everything he was demanding (including a shared capital in Jerusalem and some form of compensation to take account of the so-called “right of return,” but added a caveat that acceptance of the proposal would be conditioned on agreement by Arafat that this would be a full and final resolution of all Arab demands and that the Palestinians would make no further claims.  Mr. Ross reportedly was astonished at the fullness of the Israeli peace offer and he conveyed the proposal to President Clinton who gave it to Arafat.  Rather than accepting a proposal that seemed to respond to all his demands to end years of war, Mr. Arafat is reported to have said, “If I accept that caveat I will be signing my death warrant.”  He then went home and started the second intifada, using Arial Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount as an excuse.  A similar proposal was made in 2007 by then Israeli Prime Minister Olmert.

While factions on both sides have fought against a two-state solution to this long conflict, Palestinian leadership (as well as that of most of the Arab nations in the area) has generally preferred to retain their grievances rather than have peace with Israel?  Scholar Shelby Steele, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, writes:

“In other words [to Palestinians] my hatred is my self-esteem.  This must have much to do with why Yasser Arafat rejected Ehud Barak’s famous Camp David offer of 2000 in which Israel offered more than 90% of what the Palestinians had demanded.  To have accepted that offer would have been to forego hatred as consolation and meaning.  Thus, it would have plunged the Palestinians — and by implication the broader Muslim world — into a confrontation with their inferiority relative to modernity.  Arafat knew that without the Jews to hate, an all-defining cohesion would leave the Muslim world.  So he said “no” to peace.”

If the offers of 2000 and 2007 were rejected why is there any reason to expect a different result now?  There isn’t, although every President since Jimmy Carter has tried.  Now comes President Obama (who in the words of Leslie Gelb “is so self‑confident that he believes he can make decisions on the most complicated of issues after only hours of discussion”) with the latest effort to revive the peace process.  In that vein, he started his peace efforts shortly after the commencement of his presidency by making the incredible blunder of setting as a precondition for talks that Israel must halt construction within existing settlements in Jerusalem, notwithstanding that a halting of construction had never been a precondition to earlier peace talks.  The president fully knew then and knows now that the fragile coalition government of Prime Minister Netanyahu would collapse if he agreed to that condition.  Moreover, he also knows that infill settlements in existing Jewish areas do not change the basic contours of Jerusalem.  Nevertheless, he has handed Mr. Abbas, who doesn’t even speak for all West Bank Palestinians, let alone Hamas in Gaza, an excuse to avoid or walk out of any talks by invoking the settlement excuse.  Charles Krauthammer stated it quite well in his column in the New York Daily News on September 10, 2010:”Unfortunately, there’s no more sign today of a Palestinian desire for final peace than there was at Camp David.  Even if Mahmoud Abbas wants such an agreement (doubtful but possible), he simply doesn’t have the authority… Hamas, which exists to destroy Israel, controls (a substantial part of Palestinian territory) (Gaza), and is a powerful rival to Abbas’ Fatah even in his home territory of the West Bank.

Unable and/or unwilling to make peace, Abbas will exploit President Obama’s tactical blunder, the settlement freeze imposed on Israel despite the fact that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations had gone on without such a precondition for 16 years prior…Abbas will walk out…That would solve all of Abbas’ problems.  It would obviate signing on to a final settlement, fend off Hamas and make Israel the fall guy.

…Much of the world, which already condemns Israel even for self-defense, will be only too eager to blame Israel for the negotiation breakdown.  And there is growing pressure to create a Palestinian state even if the talks fail — i.e., even if the Palestinians make no concessions at all.  So why make any?”

And why should Israel any longer trust the land-for-peace formula or the so-called guarantors of peace agreements, particularly the United Nations.  The Israelis unconditionally left Gaza in 2005, and in the process Israeli soldiers forcibly removed Israeli settlers from their homes.  Their reward?  Unremitting rocket attacks from Gaza on Israeli territory.  In 2006 Israeli forces, responding to repeated cross-border provocation from Hezbollah (including killing 3 Israeli soldiers and kidnapping 2 others) invaded southern Lebanon.  An inconclusive 33-day war was fought.  At its end, as part of a cease-fire, the UN agreed to guarantee the peace and police a key provision that Hezbollah would not import any further rockets with which to attack Israel.  Nevertheless, as of 2009, Hezbollah has acquired 60,000 rockets as well as scud missiles from their Iranian patrons, through Syria, all capable of hitting Israel.

Tony Blair, the current special envoy of the so-called “Quartet” (US, UN, Russia and EU) has stated that no one should negotiate with Hamas until they fulfilled three conditions:  (i) recognize Israel’s right to exist; (ii) renounce violence; and (iii) accept agreements already made by previous Palestinian negotiators.  Hamas has not met any of those conditions and yet Mr. Obama (and the Palestinian leadership) conditions talks on further concessions from Israel to demonstrate that it truly wants peace.  What does he think Israelis want?  More blood, death and destruction? Every Israeli family has a family member serving in the IDF for a significant period of time every year and every Israeli knows someone who has lost a loved one in battle.

When the Palestinian side announces that it will formally recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State, they are entitled to an Israeli announcement that Israel will formally recognize Palestine’s right to exist as a Palestinian State. That’s all the confidence-building reciprocity that should be required.

Earlier this year a flotilla of ships originating in Turkey headed to Israel allegedly to provide humanitarian supplies to the people of Gaza.  Both Israel and Egypt have closed their respective borders with Gaza to prevent the importation of weaponry (although we hear very little about the closed Egyptian border).  Israel invited the flotilla to unload its shipment for inspection in an Israeli port, an invitation that was refused.  Thereafter, the Israeli navy intercepted the flotilla, boarded the ships and a firefight ensued resulting in the deaths of several persons on board.  This, of course, resulted in a predictable chorus of condemnation from governments around the world, particularly in Europe.

And Israel having built the only democracy in the middle east and a thriving high tech economy and successfully defended it militarily against overwhelming odds is now faced with perhaps the most serious threat to its existence … one that cannot be defeated by military strength alone; a campaign to delegitimize the nation itself.  Iran’s leaders insist it be wiped off the map.  Leaders of other nations imply that Israelis don’t care about peace and treat it at international forums as if it were an outlaw.  Recently, as Bret Stephens reported in his Wall Street Journal column:

… a man named Karel de Gucht told a radio station in Belgium that the current round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were certain to founder upon the stubbornness of Jews.  “There is indeed a belief — it’s difficult to describe it otherwise — among most Jews that they are right,” he explained.  “So it’s not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is happening in the Middle East.”

…Mr. de Gucht [may] sound like a neo-Nazi; in fact, he is the Trade Commissioner of the European Union.  How does a paladin like him come to say something like that?  Because it’s really not that far from the sorts of things that already are being written; that are, as they say, “in the air.”

Mr. de Gucht later apologized for his remarks stating that he wanted to make clear that anti-Semitism has no place in today’s world.  But sadly, appeasement and anti‑Semitism (defined by some perceptive person as hating Jews no more than is necessary under any particular circumstance) are part of Europe’s unhappy history.  Europe, which has not in the past cloaked itself in glory protecting its Jewish citizens when they constituted a significant portion of its population, shouldn’t be expected to lose sleep when Israel faces destruction in the present.  Hopefully, Mr. Obama, who started his presidency by constantly criticizing Israel and showing little respect for Mr. Netanyahu, won’t accompany Europe down a path which is contrary not only to America’s long term strategic interests but its democratic values as well.

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14 responses to “The Middle East Peace Talks: Preordained to Fail”

  1. eliezer benbassat says:

    Very well described. Correct and objective analysis of the existing Israeli/Palestinian pease talks.
    Totally agree with your conclusions. Another blunder of Obama’s foreign policy and luck of elementary understending of the real issues. Putting datelines for solving this long time complicated dispute is a purely an illusion.

  2. Helen Lewis says:

    Outstanding—we wish every head of state in Europe and the Middle East could read this week”s “Of Thee I Sing.” What a truly credible historical account of the peace process and how beautifully concise and well written. Thank you! I meant to include the head of state of the US too (I am sad to say)

  3. Jamil A Wafa says:

    I am of Palestinian Origin ( 78 years old but quite acrtive, not politically !) and was born lived , and witnessed the Palestine v Israel dilemma having been thrown out of my country Palestine at the age of 16 years. I need not go in details as to how I was in 1949 was expelled of my country together with some 250 others after Jaffa was bombarded with Hotchkes and bombs to frighten the inhabitants in the same way o Mr Menahem Begin did at the famous Deir Yassim Massacare.
    I have no probelm, whatsoever with my cousins the Jewsih people; afterall we are both semetic and first cousins ( you being the sons of Jacob and we the sons of Ismael, whose Grand-father is the same ; Abraham of Hebron ). It is the Zionists attitude that I personally ( as supposedly an educatated person who has lived this problem for 60 years, unlike a Polish, Soviet,Hungarian, etc..etc.. – with due respect to their country of origins – that have the right to migrate and that I and amost 1.5 million Palestinains ( 1949/50) have to be expelled so that we may make room for those imigrants.
    Yaser Arafat ( who I have no respect or feeling for ), walked out of the peace talk becasue Israel allowed the Palestinains the Dome of Al Aqsa and other holy shrines but not the land; like having a long term lease so that should Israel find the King David’s historical shrine/kingdom under the Al Aqsa mosque they will have the right to ask/instruct the Palestinains to get out of the LEASE. That is really why he walked away from a false and unrealistic peace treaty!Unfortunately, not many people in Israel would admit that, of coursed for political reasons
    I personally, do condemn the way the Palestinians handled the whole affairs ( remembering that we did not have a mature and a visionary leader to lead the negottiations ), unlike the Jewish people who have been mastering their objective since the 1880.
    I would gladly give a lecture on those sensetive issues to my freinds the Jewsih people ( not the Zionists ), provided they do not see it their way only ( as many Isreali fundimantalist known to be that way ).
    One final word, is the UN resolution 242 gave/allocoated about 40% of the land to the Palesitians ( Moslems & Christians ) whose polpulation in 1948 was some 1.2 Millions and gave the Jewish people 60% of the land , whose population at the time was no more than185,000.
    That is really why the whole issue errupted , not that the Arabs did not want the Jews. For centuries Jews, and Arabs ( Moslems & christinas ) lived in harmony together ; take Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine , Bahrain, Yemen and even during the time the Arabs ruled north Africa ; mainly in Spain, please quote me one incident where Jews were persecuted or treated unfairly! It is the determination of the Jews to have their own homeland ( which is quite natural ), but this should not be on account of expulsions of people who were born and lived their for years. I for instance belong to Al Husseini family have lived there for 420 years according to official documents , yet I can not go and pay hommage to my great grand father, grand-father, father and mother in Palestine ( now Israel ) yet a person who came from Russia and Poland have taken over my house and living there in Jaffa; my sister and brothers homes are also taken by immigrants Jews from Eastern Europe.
    This is not justice and any decent human being with an honest conscious will not accept such an unfair treatment.
    This Palestine v Israel will continue for years and may be centuries if a fair and just solution is not arrived at. It is not related to monetary; not at all. It is the will power of the Palestinains people and main pride to live with dignity and not in camps and as lodgers in Middle Eastern countries that is the main issue for them to regain , at least part of the land; not just as a token but as a real state recognized with dignity by the people of the World. I may have few years left to enjoy, but my fear is for the young genaration ( on both sides ) to live in harmony as human beings next to each others. Radical Politicians from both side will eventaully vanish after causing so much damage to humanity which will take years to straighten through wisdom and not wars fior MIGHT is never RIGHT.
    God bless the Palestinain and Jewish people.

    Jamil A Wafa – 12 October 2010

    • “That individuals from both sides caught up in the historical realities of this long, intractable dispute can recite long lists of inequities is, of course, true, as it would be true of any such conflict. There were, however, years of hostilities against legally established Jewish settlements during the final years of the Ottoman Empire, and thereafter, when there was neither a nation called Israel nor a nation called Palestine. Sixty percent of what was Palestine was handed over to the Hashemites in the creation of Transjordan. Massacres such as those at Deir Yassim where Palestinians were victims, or Hebron where Jews were victims, are tragedies that indelibly stain the honor of those who fought for justice on both sides. Decades of leaders on both sides inculcating their respective populations by painting the other side as the very personification of evil is hard to undo since it has taken on a life of its own. The purpose of our essay is not to adjudicate the long-standing grievances of either side, but to focus attention on the futility, if not the folly, of forcing “peace talks” when peace is not the objective of all those who would be party to such talks. Mr. Wafa correctly points out the failure of Palestinian leadership to adequately or responsibly represent the Palestinian people in the quest for a just resolution of the conflict. Our essay makes the same point. Unfortunately, that failure of leadership burdens the current peace talks as it has the past peace talks.”

  4. marcia says:

    A masterful synopsis and analysis of the events leading up to the current dilemma. Thank you

  5. Helen Lewis says:

    I thought I did. Here I go again. I would like every head of state in Europe and the Mid-East to read this issue” Of Thee I Sing.” I too thought it was a brilliant synopsis. I should add our own head of state should read it as well. Thank you,

  6. Jamil A Wafa says:

    I beg to defer with my colleague Mr Gershowitz’s statement when he says that there were no state for either Israel nor Palestine following the demise of the Turkish Empire that ruled the Middle East area for centuries. During a meeting between France & Britain ( Sykes & Pico treaty ), the Middle East ( mainly the Levant ) was mapped out where Trans Jordan ( formerly River Jordan )was created and Sherif Ali from Hijaz ( following the Heshemite’s dynasty expulsion from Hijaz & Mecca ( Now the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ), was appointed by the British as the Emir of Transjordan ; whereas King Faisal the 1st ( again a member of the Hashemite clan ) who was also expelled from Hijaz was appointed the King ; a third King was appointed by Britiain over Syria. The Hashemites were expelled from Saudi Arabia as they were a threat to Al Saud dynasty ( currently the rulers of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) . Palestine was created by Britian which was under a British mandate with a British Flag, British Passport that clearly shows ( I still have my original expired passport ) : A red British Passport – Government of Palestine and the contents were written in three languages; English, Arabic and Hebrew. There was not a single identity of Israel anywhere in Palestine; apart from signages in Tel Aviv were most of the Jewish people lived. The Jews lived side by side with Arabs in Palestine ( I used to play with kids in Tel Aviv which was five minutes walk away from where I lived in Jaffa ). I am not writing a history as I personally lived the history of that area. As I mentioned I have no problems with the Jewish people. As a matter of fact some members of my family are partly Jewish. The Jordaninas expecially the late King Abdulla of Jordan ( the grandfather of the current King Abdulla of Jordan ) never liked the Palestinain leader which at the time was the Mufti of Palestine Haj Amin Al Hussaini whose attempt on his life by Britian and Jordan were numerous. Haj Amin had to fled to Germany as more attempts on his life were escalating due to the pressure applied by the influential Jew’s and King Abdulla of Jordan. King Abdulla was actually the Emir of Jordan until he declard himself a King following the 1967 Arab v Israel’s war when what was left of Palestine became under Jordan ruling. Currently 60% , if not more , of the Jordanians are originally of Palestine origin.
    I stand by my statements as I have full details and supporting documents of what ever I am stating.
    Of course there are many facts that Zionists Politicians are trying to obliterate from books and history; but facts are there and can never be removed because they are engraved in every Palestinian soul. Remember, the problem has been on going for more than 60 years and still the Palestinians have not stopped the debate to gain their own identitiy and be recognized as an independant sate that is to live
    amongst the people of the world. The will power of the Palestinains can never be broken ; hence my honest concern that a fair and amicable solution must be arrived at to secure a better future for our generation. This must not be based by itimidation, humulation and persecution due to the Palestinains weakness but must be handled with utmost courtesy and honesty.
    I can envisage if those two people do strike a fair deal, they will most probably be able to control the entire Middle East economy through the determination of both nations; afterall both the Jews and Palestinians have suffered in the same way; whereas others in the Region were born with a golden spoon in their mouth.
    Let us pray for everlasting peace and for our leaders to have wisdom and vision to resolve this problem before it becomes too late and turns to be destructive for all.

    • Let us stipulate that the political designation of the name “Israel” for the Jewish state created by the United Nations partition plan was not in common use before Israel accepted the UN partition plan and the Arab nations rejected the same plan which resulted in Israeli statehood. Let us also stipulate that the name Palestine was created by Roman conquerors over two thousand years ago (from the term Philistine) and owes its origin as a contemporary political entity to neither Jews nor Arabs. The Palestine to which Mr. Wafa refers was never a nation, but rather a Mandate administered by the British under the League of Nations. That same Mandate recognized Arab, Jewish and Christian interests within the Mandate. We won’t dwell of the countless references to historical Israel that is replete in Western literature and scripture. The plethora of conferences, resolutions and pronouncements offered by the League of Nations, various countries, commissions and committees form a web of intentions and contradictions that allow all parties to the conflict to draw whatever conclusions that serve their respective purposes. They are, however, irrelevant to the reality that has been on the ground for the last 62 years. Israel exists. It’s legal pedigree as a nation is solid, more so than many of the nations that attempt to sit in judgment of it. It was not formed by a coup nor an armed invasion, but rather by a majority of the nations of the world at the time of its formation. It is a Jewish nation recognized by most of the world as such, and its legal existence was codified on the basis of its being a Jewish homeland.
      Mr. Wafa expresses obviously heartfelt angst over the heartache and injustices that have plagued both sides during the past six decades.
      We, like Mr. Wafa, look forward to the time when responsible leaders of both Israelis and Palestinians finally agree to a just resolution of this long and deadly conflict, one that recognizes the aspirations of the Palestinian People and the Jewish State of Israel.

  7. Jamil A Wafa says:

    Here we go again. My colleague Mr Gershiowitz ommitted to mention that following the 2nd world war, most of the arms used by the British Army was sold the to the Jews underground movements , namely The Haganah, Stern ,Tsvay Leumie and two other movements , for a peanut money. Those five underground movments caused a lot of damage to the Palestinians as to expel them from their homeland. As I mentioned in my earlier message, I was amongst 250 people that had to leave by boat from Jaffa to Gaze. I even did not have the chance to collect many of my personal belongings from my brother’s home. Please do not call the declaration of the state of Israel as a straight forward move! When the state of Israel was declared by the Jewish people in Israel, the President of the United states of America was waken up at 2am , USA time and was told that Israel declared its Statehood. He exclaimed , it was not proper to do so without the endorsement of the UN and was very reluctant to recognize the state of Israel. He was threatened that if he did not, he will lose the second term election. There is absoultely no doubt that the Media and most of the Financial instiutation in the USA is controlled by the Jewish people; not forgetting Holywood and the most active of AIPEC and others. Please undersantd that I admire the Jewish people for their determination to surface after so much persecution, humilation, Hollocust and other major problems they faced for hundred of years. I honestly wish that Arab nations will learn how negotiations, security, inventions, education can be controlled and adhered to.
    My only honest statement to the Politicians of the State of Israel is please do not inflict your bitter experience and angers which was inflicted upon you over the years on those Palestinians who has had no army to fight Israel during the 1967 – 5 days war, and no Leaders. Gain the support of the Palestians and ensure that their new generation are not taught hatred for the Jewsih people and establish confidence with them through peace and not through War, not through Might, not through humilation , not through Apartheid. They are as bright as the Jewish people. Per Capita and throught the Middle East they are the most educated people but they are not blessed with having a visinoary Leader. You might say well in this case who should we address and negotiate peace with! The answer is there are many genuine people around if Mr Netanyaho and Mr Barak or Mr Liberman would come down from their throne to recognize others , irrespective of their ethnics, religion and their true origins.
    I am enjoying the exchanges of these views. I trust my statements are received in the same spirit they are being presented. As I mentioned they are not extracted from books, they are presented by a living witness who has been through tough period over the past 60 years; fortunately am well established but my earnest wish and desire is to one day return to my homeland ; so does Millions of Palestinians refugees share the same desire.

  8. Jamil A Wafa says:

    Hi Mr Gershowitz

    Would appreciate having your e.mail contact as I want to transmit to you few interesting clippings and phtots that I can not attach to this method of communication..
    Thanks and regards….

  9. Jamil A Wafa says:

    It is a great pity that Mr Gershowitz discontinued the dialogue with me! Is it perhaps he did not appreciate facts from fiction! Could it be possible he could not approve of my statments which are a true of what is happening on ground! I have no problem with my cousins the Jewish People , who are also related to me through marriage! It is the unfortaute attitude of the Leaders of the State of Israel that I do not approve of ; it is the appartheid movement of the Zionist attitude that I detaste and deplore. It is up to the intellectual and moderate Jewish ( not Zionist ) people to put an end to a dispute that will continue for may be another century which would greatly harm our both future generations. The Palestinians will not give up as they are totally different from the Red Indians who really lost their coutnry ( teh USA ) to Immigrants from Europe, UK etc.etc.
    They are fighting ( not through weapons ) for a noble cause; their country and homes that they have been expelled from.
    I wish you and all readers , happy days and years ahead.

    • Mr. Wafa:
      I am Hal Gershowitz’ co-author of our weekly essay and feel the need to reply to your October 30th posting.
      When I read your initial comment to our essay I was encouraged with the tone of it and your clear recognition that suffering and pain over the claims of two peoples to the same land is not exclusive.Here it seemed to me, is a person seeking a just resolution which would require sacrifices on both sides. Apparently I was wrong.
      Your October 30th comment reveals a differeent attitude from you. In it, you descend into the invective of calling the
      Israel an apartheid state, and raise the red herring of of the fate of the native Americans who were in North America before European immigrants migrated to these shores. If populations were meant to remain static and “belong” to whoever was first there, we would have to restore the rights of whatever tribes were first indiginous to any area, a study which belongs more to archeologists more than historians. And if comparisons to other population movements are what you wish to discuss, what is your view of Islamic immigration to western nations and after a critical mass has established citizenship (or even mere residency) demanding sharia law?
      You also remind us that the Palestinians will not just give up. I accept that But judging from your first comment to our essay you know that neither will the Israelis.
      Rather than rehearsing the same arguments (and we both know all the arguments on both sides) may I ask you to please set forth what you consider to be a fair resolution? I fear that your idea of a settlement will be the dissolution of Israel. Please prove me wrong.

  10. Jamil A Wafa says:

    I beg to defer with your assumption that the State of Israel should be disolved; far from that. As I mentioned in my earlier notes, The Jewish people are a recognized people like the Arabs, Hindus, Japanese ,Chinese etc.etc. As a man who has very many Jewish friends all over the world, I have intellelctually exchanged views with them. My statement about the apartheid stems from the inhumane treatment of the Palestinains under the different rulers of the Government of Israel. Building walls is not the right answer. Cutting trees, demolishing 248 villages of Palestinain property is not the right answer for peace! The latest move by Mr Netanyahou to claim Israel as a Jewish state is to ultimately deject/expel the 1948 Arabs form Israel because claiming them not of Jewish faith! Do you not call this apartheid! The only fair solution to the ongoing dilema is the two state with East Jerusalem being for Arabs/Christians and the West for Israel as has been the case in 1967. Failing that Jerusalem should be controlled by the Vatican or the UN. Remember there are holy shrines for Arabs ( Moslems & Christians ) as much as there is the Whaling wall which I visited many time during my youth. There are many points that I raised which unfortunately you elected to overcome/ignore. When I raised the issue of the Red Indians in the USA simply to illustrae that the Palestinains are not Red Inidans ; they are educated and intelligent. This is one reason as to why Israel is trying to keep them out. Israel has failed in the past 60 years to abolish and eliminate the name Palestinians and will continue to fail with their mission. Beleive me I am not a biased or against Israel! I am against their unfair treatment of the Palestinians whose determination to survive and move forward will continue; but not on the basis of the destruction of Israel.
    I respect that you are a reknown author but your collecting information comes from different people , and through intensive research. I for one have not reached your stature but I am a living witness to very many happenings in this world not only Israel and Palestine . Have also attended may debate sessions with different nationalites without intimidation or fear. I advocate that Human beings irrespective of their faith, nationalities, sex are equal and all must be given the opportunites of having decent life , surviving and be happy but not on account of uprooting people who have lived their for number of years. You can not build happiness on account of creating misrey for others.
    I wish you and others good day.

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