Israeli-Palestinian Conflict For Dummies, Of Which I Am One

Even when you attempt to educate yourself about the history of Israel and Palestine, who did what and why, so many tangled and conflicting interpretations emerge that in the end you have as many questions as you do answers. It becomes a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a pita pocket of ambiguity.

From all I have been able to absorb, my basic take away is something like this: if I were a European Jew, or maybe any Jew, my inclination after centuries of pogroms, scapegoating and irrational hatred, with the culminating holocaust, would be to say, “I ‘m digging into this piece of Middle Eastern land and taking no shit whatsoever from anybody.”

If I were a Palestinian, I would conclude that one way or another I got the shaft, that the Arab nations really are not my friends, and that the disdain for me by Arabs was only slightly less than for the Jews, second only because of my convenient exploitation value. This leads me to believe Israelis and Palestinians have much more in common than not, though I don’t think many of either feel that way.

I would certainly dismiss all religious discussion of which party has the original deed to this godforsaken sliver of desert, with its prime Mediterranean coastal real estate attached, variously populated and reaching so far back into history as to make those discussions truly and profoundly absurd, and no basis for any contemporary rectification of disagreements.

The Israeli Right, to which Netenyahu belongs is as unreasonable as ours (well, not as unreasonable, but like our right unreasonable and boneheaded) so I wouldn’t expect a lot from them. In Israel’s case expanding settlements in the territories, or failing to freeze them strikes me as obstinately foolish and counterproductive and dogmatic (sound familiar?).

In the case of Hamas, I assume it has no goal but perpetuating a bloody shit storm, because the evaporation of Israel from the face of the Earth is kind of a stiff negotiating position. The Fatah Party gives you the feeling that underneath the requisite anti-Israeli rhetoric there’s some realism and pragmatism. But like much else about this conflict, one can’t be sure to say the very least.

There certainly does seem to be a case for not returning to the 1967 boundaries, in other words, that the Golan Heights and Gaza may be justifiable buffers given Palestinian groups’propensity to lob rockets into Israel and to cross its borders in order to wreak mayhem. On the other hand, returning those lands certainly should be on the negotiating table, and in any ordinary negotiation (which this is far from being) would be considered a valuable chit.

Whether Palestinian refugees should be allowed to return to Israel seems just as muddy a dilemma as any of the others. Should they be allowed to return? Well, morally, sure. From a security standpoint? Maybe not. Everyone seems to agree some sort of Palestinian state is desirable, as well as inevitable, though any settling upon details seems to fall into the hair torn from its roots category.

In all fairness to the principal parties facing these dilemmas, I’m glad I don’t have to attempt to reconcile these competing interests and seemingly obdurate realities. I’m quite sure if one looks the word “futile”up in the dictionary a map of Israel and the surrounding territory is what you find.

I’ve come to the conclusion that in the wake of nuclear Armageddon three things will survive: the consensus choice that the cockroach seems to be; some version of Law and Order; and this insufferable and interminable conflict.

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