Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Saudi King Condemns U.S. Occupation of Iraq

From The New York Times
After all, what are friends for?
What's next, a condemnation from Kuwait?

Actually, most everyone I know well (myself included) condemns the U.S. occupation of Iraq. That, and another election, may eventually get us somewhere (else?).

Meanwhile, maybe the Saudi King could turn his attention to influencing Sunni political and clerical leaders in Iraq to work out a less catastrophic resolution to that fiasco. And finally shut down Saudi money continuing to go to supporting training grounds for radical Islamists. And provide robust support for more moderate and pluralistic streams of thought that have flourished in past eras of Arab and Islamic history, and that contributed so much to (indeed, was critical to preserving) world civilization in a down time for the West. (I'm a particular fan of convivencia in Spain.)

This story also discusses the Arab League proposal on Israel/Palestine. I may have more to say later on this--it is likely to be much in the news in coming days. But briefly: If the Arabs were willing to adopt a more conciliatory--and more realistic--provision for resettlement and compensation of those displaced by events surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948 and the years following (note that this formulation includes displaced Jews as well as displaced Arabs), this could be the basis for a historic breakthrough. Otherwise, it is destined to be yet another in the long series of lost opportunities for peace.

It is time for another Sadat. As Dan Rather liked to say, Courage! I think Israel would be ready to respond. Is someone (say, the Saudi King?) ready to step up?

NOTE:SOME LIVELY DISCUSSION UNDERWAY--SEE COMMENTS!

This is long enough to move here from my response to a comment:
Thanks to lal for his/her comments.

There was significant discussion on a "one state" solution among Jewish intellectuals in 1930s Palestine. The group was known as Brit Shalom, I believe, and included such heavyweights as Martin Buber and Judah Magnes, President of The Hebrew University. I've wondered from time to time whether I would have supported that position had I been around in that time and place, without knowing the future. As best I know, that discussion did not survive the events of the Holocaust.

I agree with lal that whatever might have been, or might be in some distant, post-national future (if we survive that long), a "one state" solution (presuming a democratic government) is not a viable goal in present historic circumstances, and distracts thinking and energies from what I hope is a more realistic, if ever receding goal: two democratic societies, each pursuing its own distinctive national culture and identity, living in a tolerable approximation of peace and with some cooperative economic relationships with the other, and with neighboring states. A nice thought with Passover coming.

I think both polities and their respective leaderships bear a share of responsibility for the failure to bring this to reality. The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist cost us all the most promising possibility. Inept political leadership by his well meaning successor, Shimon Peres, and the turning back from the pursuit of peace by Likud, ended that moment of potential promise. Arguably more consequential was the colossal failure of Yasir Arafat to capitalize on the possibilities offered by Camp David and Taba in the waning moments of the Clinton Administration (and, with a greater causal relationship, of the Barak Administration in Israel). That was the moment of greatest possibility; what has the second intifada achieved for anyone? Is it likely that the Israelis will ever agree to more than was offered at Taba (and refined in the Geneva Accords)?

I think the Israelis are, at this point, sick of the conflict, frankly sick of the Palestinians, and devoid of optimism or idealism about any constructive future together. I think they, even with --and maybe because of-- their current weak (and scandal-ridden) government, might pay a substantial price (including territory, but not a substantial population inflow under a Palestinian "right of return") to end the conflict, and pursue a better (and largely separate) life for their people. Less a "peace of the brave" than a "peace of the exhausted."

(Yes, I largely agree with Tom Friedman's recent column in The Times. I have always thought better of his columns on Israeli-Arab issues--his original reporting focus and area of expertise--than on most other issues, including Iraq and Globalization.)

4 comments:

lal said...

a few years ago i believed that there was a fairly straightforward "peace of the brave" ---it would make much of east jerusalem the palestinian capital,return israel to its pre-1967 borders and allow a version of a law of return for palestinians (basically recognizing that most palestinians would not be able to return;provide compensation for loss of property ,allow 200,000 to return to israel proper and provide for settlement and citizenship for the rest in the u.s, europe and arab states).this last part (post-9/11, post-iraq war, post-islamicisation of palestinian politics) is no longer possible. there can be no "permanent settlement" until this 3rd issue is settled and at the moment and in the near future there appears to be no prospect for a settlement on palestinian return.
the one state solution ---which in the faaaar future may be a possiblity needs to wait for israelis and and its diaspora supporters to accept the realities of a post-zionist world and this won't happen soon.

lal said...

additionally the current israeli government is weak in terms of popular support---they are very unlikely to respond in a useful way to the arab league proposal.
oh i assume shamir-like they will go to meetings and shuffle papers and speak of peace peace peace---but while talking the talk there will be precious little of walking the walk.

TWB said...

Thanks to lal for his/her comments.

There was significant discussion one a "one state" solution among Jewish intellectuals in 1930s Palestine. The group was known as Brit Shalom, I believe, and included such heavyweights as Martin Buber and Judah Magnes, President of Hebrew University. I've wondered from time to time whether I would have supported that position had I been around in that time and place. As best I know, that discussion did not survive the events of the Holocaust.

I agree with lal that whatever might have been, or might be in some distant, post-national future (if we survive that long), a "one state" solution (presuming a democratic government) is not a viable goal in present historic circumstances, and distracts thinking and energies from what I hope is a more realistic, if ever receding goal: two democratic societies, each pursuing its own distinctive national culture and identity, living in a tolerable peace and economic relationship with the other, and with neighboring states.

I think both polities and their respective leaderships bear a share of responsibility for the failure to bring this to reality. The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist cost us all the most promising possibility, together with inept political leadership by his well meaning successor, Shimon Peres, and the turning back from the pursuit of peace by Likud. I have still not found myself able to forgive the colossal failure of Yasir Arafat to capitalize on the possibilities offered by Camp David and Taba. That was the moment of greatest possibility; what has the second intifada achieved for anyone? Is it likely that the Israelis will ever agree to more than was offered at Taba?

I think the Israelis are, at this point, sick of the conflict, frankly sick of the Palestinians, and devoid of optimism or idealism about any constructive future together. I think they, even with --and maybe because--of their current weak (and scandal-ridden) government, might pay a substantial price (including territory, but not a substantial population inflow under a Palestinian "right of return") to end the conflict, and pursue a better (and largely separate) life for their people. Less a "peace of the brave" than a "peace of the exhausted."

lal said...

the one state solution has indeed been spoken of for many years but now even a two state solution seems very distant.
palestine is already two states by itself---gaza and the west bank.
although during the past year or so the weight of the israeli occupation and closed borders have ground down the "relative" prosperity of the west bank.
it is populated by an increasingly poorly educated increasingly impoverished increasingly desperate population increasingly enamored by the social promise of an islamic state. a once diverse society with a signifcant christian presence is now less diverse---christians have left in droves those that remain feel increasingly silenced by islamic fervor and political power.
the fact that the palestinian coalition was put together in mecca is highly symbolic for christians---recall that no christian could be present. so the plo which has always had a christian functionaries made its most important deal in a venue where christians were forbidden. this symbolism was not lost on palestinian christians.

israelis will be and certainly are wary of a neighbor state run by such a "coalition" (it's hardly a coalition --abbas has been a hapless participant and in any case the history of obscene incompetence and blatant corruption of the plo precludes any widespread or deep palstinian support)----much less a joint government with them.

so your dream of two neighbor states sharing ideals of democratic values and distributive justice is just that ---a dream.

we have seen the future and it doesn't work.