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It's easy to complain
Interesting week in global politics this week, with the election of Kadima providing a ringing endorsement for everyone to go on believing what they believe.
Anyway, with the election of Kadima, it looks like Israel is going to continue with its policy of "try to negotiate a peace settlement, if the Palestinians won't talk then we'll disengage unilaterally and we'll fix the borders". Upon squabbling with my brother, regardless of who did what, my mother used to frequently intone the cliche that it takes two to tango and that we were both at fault (with me, as the oldest, bearing the brunt of any forthcoming punishment). Turning and walking away may not be such a good idea, however, if the other person is angry and wants to cave your head in with a tennis racket. Putting up a separation barrier and giving them some time to wear themselves out is probably a good idea.
So, with the election results, the "anti-zionism is not anti-semitism and besides Israel is a..." brigade - I'll call them lwb see this as Israel just wanting to annex land on a permanent basis and make the Palestinians' lives difficult and all the sorts of things lwbs are permanently complaining about. As if Israel's entire purpose was to make the Palestinian's lives difficult. Fine. Everyone's entitled to their opinions. What I find annoying about the constant stream of anti-Israel sentiment is that they seem to be somewhere between divorced from reality or cluelessly idealistic. Particularly those proposing a one-state democracy. Lwbs accuse Israel of being an apartheid state. Imagine what it would be like if you put the two disparate, antipathetic populations voting on the day-to-day running of both peoples, particularly when a slight numerical advantage is coupled with a sizeable advantage in terms of money and power. A single state solution is probably the single stupidest solution I can think of.
So a two state solution it will have to be. Everyone agrees that the status quo is undesirable. So the old political saying of "something has to be done, this is something therefore..." applies. Personally, I think a two state solution is a good idea. I certainly the Jewish people have the right to self determination, and I see no reason why the Palestinians can't have it as well. For convenience, we'll ignore questions of changing Egypt and Jordan's borders, too. But even with a two state solution where left with a little problem: how?
Currently, Israel seems to be showing the political maturity to make tough, pragmatic decisions. The Palestinians don't seem to be doing the same under Hamas. Unfortunately, elements of the media tend to view the conflict in either a patronising "oh, poor little victimised Palestinians. The Israeli occupation is so cruel and anything they do is justified." on one hand to a shocked "oh, those evil Palestinians are terrorists and if they'd stop blowing up school children there'd be peace" on the other. Unfortunately, the world is never so black and white. I never bought my parents' arguments that anything my brother did was acceptable because I picked on him (in reality, he gave as good as he got, I just took it better), and I don't buy the argument when it refers to Palestinian terrorism.
On a side note I define terror to require a condition as follows: An act against civillian non-combatants perpetrated by a civillian or para-millitary organisation...
Consequently, the question then revolves around a concept of "fair game". A soldier is fair game. Prime Minister is. Defence minister is. Tourism minister isn't. School child isn't. These are based on the actions they are involved in. Their views are irrelevant. So the tourism minister could be an unpleasant, racist bastard - he is still not fair game.
Anyway, back to the point. By portraying it is a battle of good vs evil, the things "the good side" does wrong are glossed over and the things "the bad side" does right are ignored. On a semi-side note, Allison at An Unsealed Room has linked to an excellent post from Treppenwitz. I heartily recommend all my readers read it with an open mind and think about who is right and why as you go along. Anyway, when Hamas was elected, less than a year after Israel disengaged from the Gaza, someone wrote in to the paper that it is because the Palestinians saw no hope in peace or progress with Israel, and thought that they may as well elect a more militant. Israel never gave them roads, either.
From Hamas' side of things, their foreign policy is terrible and terrorist, but their internal policies tend to be quite good - they have always done the kind of schools and hospitals and anti-corruption thing that Fatah should have done under the Tunisian rule of their former president. The sort of thing which plays well at home, even if the rest of the world doesn't tend to see it.
While we're at it, the "oh, the Americans only support democracy when they like the winner" line in relation to America's reaction to Hamas' victory is ridiculous. As far as I know, America hasn't complained about the election or the results. What they have said is that they will not give money to terrorist organisations, and they will consider Hamas a terrorist organisation until they meet certain conditions. I see nothing wrong with this stance. If Al-Qaida runs for election next time in Afghanistan and happens to win, America has no obligation to support them.
The most interesting thing I have found in the whole post-election analysis has been the reaction to Yisrael Beiteinu. Only in Israel would you have a nationalist party who is appealing to a sector of the community not from the country. Anyway, the policy which has ruffled the most feathers has been their policy of making Israeli Arab villages part of a separated Palestine. Phrases which have been used include ethnic cleansing. I think this is a little uncharitable. While I don't necessarily agree with the policy, they are not advocating killing anyone, just redistributing land, and ethnic cleansing has an association with genocide. On the surface of it, the policy may seem totally unreasonable. But one counter-example I'd like to bring in is in former colonialist states in Africa and Asia. One of the biggest criticisms of these former colonialist states, and a big cause of the current problems, is the failure to partition countries properly. Can anyone say Rwanda? Balkans? Kashmir? So at its most charitable, this is a policy designed to improve demographic-based drawing of borders.
Israel isn't going to return fully to 1967 borders. Given that they are entitled to secure and defensible borders, and the 1967 borders are anything but, they will take a buffer near Tel Aviv, and probably one near Jerusalem. This may well require land being exchanged - surely it is not black and white wrong to offer land in exchange? The only thing I would add is that I don't agree with the concept of forcibly expelling anyone, so I would favour some system where towns along the border are able to determine whether they will be in Israel or in Palestine and their wishes respected. It's an interesting position Israel is in: try to set borders - they are stealing land; try to give land in exchange - they are engaging in ethnic cleansing. And people wonder why Israel doesn't seem all that concerned with looking good in the eyes of the media anymore.
It's easy to complain, but it would be nice if the media actually had some solutions once in a while.
Comment from Revi
I would like to point out that a great deal of our fighting in the earlier was due to Alex deliberately provoking me. He got what he deserved for it. (And often some more besides.) The simple fact is that it was not for me to provide kharmic equilibrium.
In fact, regardless of where "fault" lies, it's still not for me to provide kharmic equilibrium. It's still good for me to try to improve the balance when it's tipped the other way.
I will certainly not deny that there were times when I provoked Revi. There were. Just as he did his share of provoking me. I just happened to be able to both give and take far more successfully. As to claims of "improving the balance" I think the balance tended to be tipped in his favour anyway. I was just a willing participant trying to redress the imbalance which I naturally suffered as the older brother (I think most of my readers are older siblings, and so will sympathise with the victimisation which ensues).
And I think the "he got what he deserved for it" line is right up there with "she shouldn't have worn that dress if she didn't want it. She was asking for it". Rubbish.
My favourite procrastinations
The Head Heeb - Jonathan provides a balanced view on various Israeli and (former) colonial states in less developed regions of the world.
The Bladder - a sports satire site. Well worth a look.