Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dealing with the Settlements

The main thing that bugs me when discussing any conflict is when it's assumed that there's a strict good guy-bad guy dynamic, and that if you support one side, you inherently think they're "good" and must think the other side is "bad."  And while that does happen, WWII for example, most conflicts have bad people on both sides; eg, The Vietnam War.  And so people who support one side will focus on the bad actions of the opposing side, while dismissing the bad actions on their own side as being necessary due to the evil they're opposing.  And there's always an evil to be opposed.

And thus is the case with Israel and the Palestinians.  I absolutely hate this conflict, as both sides suck.  And both sides have victims with justifiable grievances.  And while I feel a majority of folks on both sides are victims in this, there are bad actors on both sides that refuse to allow the tensions to die down and are thus victimizing people on both sides.  And while this is typical of many conflicts, few are as contentious as this one.

I'm sure that if I heard Palestinian-sympathizers bitch enough about how evil Israel is, I'd dislike that; but I don't hear that.  I keep hearing one-sided stories about how evil the Palestinians are and how Israel only wants security, and it's only the Palestinians that are dooming things.  And I'm sorry, but that's utter horseshit.  While I'm fully aware that there are Palestinians who see it in their best interest to continue fighting forever, Israel has people on their side doing the same damn thing.

And the main thing that proves this point are the illegal settlements.  Josh Marshall has a post on this, and correctly identifies the settlements as being a tremendous roadblock of any two-state solution.  And that's undeniably true.  Anyone who doesn't see the permanence of these settlements as being a deal-breaker on the two-state solution is willfully blind.  And yet, as Josh suggests, it's contentious enough to tell the settlers to stop building new settlements, far more contentious to tell them to stop growing their current settlements, and the eventual removal of them could cause civil war in Israel.  But as long as the settlements are there, I fail to see how there will be peace.

And again, I find this simply undeniable.  If we're going to solve this problem, the fate of the settlements is one of the biggest issues.  Particularly as I'm of the opinion that the main purpose of the settlements was to doom the two-state solution and do further damage to the Palestinians.  It's a poison pill that's become political dynamite.  I see no good-faith purpose of the settlements, and believe that the more radicalized Israelis purposefully use them to continue the conflict.  Just as the more radicalized Palestinians use terrorist attacks to continue the conflict.  And many of the victimized majorities go along with it because they've been convinced that there are no better solutions.

Obama's Stand

And honestly, I have no good solution for this.  There's enough anger on both sides of the conflict that I can't perceive a good solution for any of this; beyond bringing one of the groups into a crappy piece of land here in America, explaining that it's just as crappy as the one they're fighting for, and telling them they can keep it.  And no, I don't see that happening, but it sure would be a lot easier than what we're doing.

But to me, at least one solution is clear: The issue of the permanent settlements must be addressed.  It's something Israel's defenders don't really like to acknowledge, as it entirely undermines the whole "It's the Palestinians fault" argument.  But it must be addressed.  And so I'm glad to see the Obama Administration taking a firm stance on this.  To not do so is to try to put out a fire without understanding the basic principles of fire.  You've got to understand the full scope of a problem if you want to fix it.

Oh, and I'm also glad to see Josh's acknowledgment that Israel needs us.  I've always hated the conservative view of foreign policy, which is that we're so weak that we can't even talk to our enemies while we need to kowtow to our allies.  We're America, bitches.  We got power.  It's time we use it.  Not as a bullyesque demonstration to scare our enemies, but as a way of settling conflicts.  And no, that's not military power; which is soooo 19th Century, but economic, cultural, and political power.  Doing so not only is our best option, but actually increases that power; unlike using military power, which only decreases the more you use it.

I only hope that Obama doesn't back down from this, but rather lays down the line and brings all the issues to the table.  As we all know, the first step to solving a problem is identifying what that problem is.  And the illegal settlements are a huge part of the problem.

1 comment:

Kevin Robbins said...

More proof that there is no God (as such). If there was, he would smite them both. Same for the English and Irish, and the Indians and Pakistanis.

I have to wonder how much worse the situation would be if we totally kept out of it. Eight years of Bush bending over for Israel didn't help.

BTW, I realize that everyone not toeing the Israeli line 100% is anti-Semitic. Even Jews.