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Friday, September 03, 2010

Why Israelis aren't rushing to give 'land for peace'

I suspect that many of you abroad have no idea how true this is.
The truth? In the week that three Presidents, a King and their own Prime Minister gather at the White House to begin a fresh round of talks on peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the truth is, Israelis are no longer preoccupied with the matter. They're otherwise engaged; they're making money; they're enjoying the rays of late summer. A watching world may still define their country by the blood feud with the Arabs whose families used to live on this land and whether that conflict can be negotiated away, but Israelis say they have moved on.

Now observing 2½ years without a single suicide bombing on their territory, with the economy robust and with souls a trifle weary of having to handle big elemental thoughts, the Israeli public prefers to explore such satisfactions as might be available from the private sphere, in a land first imagined as a utopia. "Listen to me," says Eli Bengozi, born in Soviet Georgia and for 40 years an Israeli. "Peace? Forget about it. They'll never have peace. Remember Clinton gave 99% to Arafat, and instead of them fighting for 1%, what? Intifadeh."

But wait. Deep down (you can almost hear the outside world ask), don't Israelis know that finding peace with the Palestinians is the only way to guarantee their happiness and prosperity? Well, not exactly. Asked in a March poll to name the "most urgent problem" facing Israel, just 8% of Israeli Jews cited the conflict with Palestinians, putting it fifth behind education, crime, national security and poverty. Israeli Arabs placed peace first, but among Jews here, the issue that President Obama calls "critical for the world" just doesn't seem — critical.
Remember Jackson Diehl's article in May 2009 where Abu Mazen told him that life was good for the 'Palestinians' and that they were therefore willing to wait for a peace deal. Well, they're not the only ones.

Most Israelis feel the same way. Many Israelis feel that if the do-gooders like Barack Obama would just ignore the 'Palestinians' - as Israel's do-gooders should have done in 1993 - the problem just might fade off into the sunset. The 'Palestinians' will never agree to an end of conflict resolution that recognizes our right to exist. But if the borders are left as they are, and the situation is left as it is, the 'Palestinians' won't pose an existential threat to us either.


At 4:13 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

That's what I was talking about on your Tony Blair post yesterday. He's a new-age dinosaur and if he really wanted to help the Palestinians, he'd tell them to go back to school, focus their curriculum on math and reading skills, and hopefully be able, through a long stretch of civilized interactions, to join in with Israel in the technology economy.


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