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On the Middle-East Conflict

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Message Barry Werner

There is quite a lot of support for the left-wing position in Israel and among Jews outside of Israel. Left-wingers believe peace can be achieved by being more patient with the Arabs and by not responding harshly to provocations (as they believe Israel has done).

However, the great majority of Israelis are centrists, who want to live in peace with their Arab neighbors and are willing to agree to reasonable demands, but also believe that extreme provocation should be met with a harsh response. They believe that this is what is expected in the culture of the Middle East. In the Arab mindset, a failure to appear strong leads to a perception of weakness - and is exploited to its utmost.

The right wing believes that Israel should learn from its history that the Arabs are unwilling, in the foreseeable future, to accept a Jewish state in the Middle East and that it makes no sense to construct policy around the expectation that they will peacefully participate in such plans.

The concept of partition should be the guiding principle. Demonstrably, over more than 100 years Arab radicals have provoked deadly conflicts against Jews. Even if moderate Arabs were able to take control of their society and bring about peaceful coexistence, it would be necessary to make it difficult for radicals to spoil the peace.

Some examples come easily to mind: Consider the peace between Israel, Egypt, and Jordan. The peace holds in spite of the fact that there are many radicals in Egypt and Jordan who would like to start trouble, and sometimes do. Another example is the recent incident in Akko, in Israel, a city of mixed Jewish and Arab residents. Extremist Arabs started a riot in Akko last Yom Kippur. As a result, many Jews moved out of the city, especially that part of it that is predominantly Arab. It is going to take quite a while for Jews and Arabs to calm down and forget their many reasons to hate each other.

The concept of partition is the legal basis for Middle East policy. The League of Nations charged Britain with the mandate to rule Palestine and create a separate homeland for the Jews. The United Nations reiterated that policy with the partition of Palestine. The “two state” solution is the goal that most reasonable negotiators are trying to achieve.

If you want an idea of the consequences of disregarding the concept of partition, you need only look at what is happening in Lebanon.

Many Jews believe the obsessive preoccupation with the sins of Israel and a disregard for the threats that Israel faces is a form of anti-Semitism because it totally disregards the barbarity of the Islamist extremists and concerns itself with the sins of the Jews far out of proportion to other calamities around the world, such as the Arab genocidal oppression of non-Arabs in Darfur, the collapse of civil society in Zimbabwe, or the cruelty and brutality on all sides in Chechnya.

The innumerable accusations from left-wingers today - that the Israelis are behaving as the Nazis did - is particularly loathsome. On the one hand, it denies the extreme inhumanity of the Nazis by suggesting that their crimes were no worse than what the Jews themselves are doing now. On the other hand, it suggests that perhaps the Jews were deserving of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis. How much more viciously anti-Semitic can one get?

When peace finally comes, the vision of peoples of different cultures living in peace and harmony may possibly be realized in Israel. The Arab citizens of Israel already have full equality under the law. Arabic is the official second language of Israel. The official weekend is Friday and Saturday to accommodate the rest days of both Arabs and Jews. Arab political parties are represented in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. I don’t believe there is a law that would restrict an Arab from becoming prime minister or president. I know a Bedouin Arab who represents Israel in the office of a consulate general in the U.S.

Many Arabs live in mixed neighborhoods and many are reasonably wealthy within the Israeli economy. There are social tensions between the cultures that are closely related to the tensions with the Arab world outside of Israel. But for those Druze and Bedouin Israelis who serve in the Israeli army and are recognized as unequivocally patriotic citizens, those tensions are much reduced.

The vision of peoples of different cultures living in peace and harmony will only be realized when there is peace. Israelis cannot continue to live in daily fear of terrorist attacks and interminable wars.

Israelis have demonstrated many times that they are willing to negotiate reasonable peace accommodations with the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world.

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I am a retired PhD physicist with a deep, long term interest in the Israel/Arab/Muslim conflict.
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