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Whose fault? The Blame Game in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


These observations, while very general, are applicable to the current standoff in Gaza and to every other aspect of the Palestinian - Israeli conflict, or any other conflict for that matter.

The basis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the competition between two legitimate claims on the one hand, and the fact that as often happens, each side ignores the claims of the other.

At one time there were several options to solve those claims that might have worked, such as a binational state, partition with economic union etc.

However, while very little effort was invested in advancing and protecting workable solutions, a huge effort was invested in advancing non-solutions that took into account the needs of only one side. This effort succeed in perpetuating the conflict and narrowing the options for workable solutions.

These dead end non-solutions were invariably based on the assumptions that:

a- one side is "to blame" and
b- if only we push hard enough, the other side will be pushed either into the sea or into the desert.

The lobby against peace is huge. It includes Greater Israel people, most Arab and Muslim states, doctrinaire anti-Zionists and extremist groups like Hamas. In the 1930s it was fueled by the Axis powers. In the 1950s -80s by the USSR. In the 70s and 80s it was fueled by US complicity in Israeli settlement activity, because US had to be for anything USSR was against.

Most of the people working against peace (often under the guise of working for peace) have no real interest whatever in the welfare of either side. The Arab states just want to get rid of Israel and don't care what happens to the Palestinian Arabs or the Jews. Despotic Muslim and Arab regimes use the Israel issue to divert discontent from their own shortcomings. Professional anti-Zionists, regardless of cant about "compassion" and human rights and "justice," are not interested in peaceful solutions or Palestinian rights, but rather in vindicating their anti-Zionism. As long as Israel is constantly delegitimized and eventually, they hope, destroyed, it doesn't really matter to them what happens to the Arabs of Palestine or how many generations of Palestinian Arabs will suffer in refugee camps.

Every group with "Justice" for Palestine in its name is out to destroy my country and evict me. In addition to any personal objections I might have to such "justice,' it will not serve the interests of justice or really bring lasting peace. They are only offering programs to advance their own ideology at the cost of great misery to Arab and Jew alike. The same is true of the vocal and fairly large groups of Zionist extremists in the USA, who want to defend "the territories" to the last Israeli soldiers, and to evict the Arab Palestinians or subjugate them, because GOD gave the land to them.

By now the ideologues have all built up a great literature of blame. Hundreds and thousands of pages "prove" conclusively that one side or the other is exclusively to blame for the conflict, and each new event is assimilated to this literature on each side. This does nothing to solve the conflict. On the contrary, it is fuel for the conflict.

Likewise, all the great powers have at bottom always been seeking to use the conflict to best further their own interests, rather than actually working for peace. The USA wants peace, but it has to be a peace that is attuned to US interests. This even came down to US interference with the schedule of Israeli-Jordanian negotiations in order to make sure that President Clinton got the right photo-opportunity and credit for making peace. From the point of view of the USA, the major features of "peace" are that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should "go away" at least to the point where it doesn't interfere with US relations with Arab and Muslim countries, and that the US should get the credit for making the peace and should be vital to maintaining it, so that regional countries are dependent on the US. That is the essence of Henry Kissinger's policies, and has not really changed except for nuances.

The USSR did not want peace, nor did they really desire the destruction of Israel. Rather, they wanted a perpetual conflict situation that could be used to embarrass the United States and further Soviet influence. This very competent if diabolical Soviet foreign policy left us a legacy of rhetoric about Zionist colonialism that does nothing to advance either peace or our understanding of the conflict.
The European Union wants peace, but they want to play the part of the Americans, making and getting the credit and influence for it, and so they try to trip up US efforts. Like the USSR in its time, they are also not too dissatisfied if Israel remains an embarrassment for the US. Therefore, each party chooses someone to blame, and someone to help.

Many billions of dollars have been invested in creating and maintaining and nourishing this conflict, based on the "who is to blame" model, and very little effort was invested in solving the problems. Therefore the refugees are still in camps, so that Israel can be blamed for that, and the Israelis are still in settlements, and the Hamas are nourished along by indirection and "benign" neglect, and the siege of Gaza is tolerated and ignored along with the rain of Qassam rockets on Sderot.

The result of nurturing the blame game is that over the years different options closed out. We cannot have a binational state or a one state solution, because today that is like putting 50 dogs and 50 cats in a room and locking the door. We can't have economic union because the terror groups will use it as a means to carry out what they call "operations" - murder of civilians.

There are only two options left - a two state solution or winner take all. All those who justify the Hamas are supporting the winner take all solution and closing out the two state solution, and likewise those who support Greater Israel are making peace impossible. Each does it because of their ideologies - luxuries that neither real Israelis nor actual Palestinians can really afford.

There are two sides. Those against violence and for protecting the rights of Palestinian Arabs and Israelis are on one side. Those who justify violence and look for which side is to blame are on the other side. The latter are always part of the problem. If anyone wants to know whose fault the conflict is, it is their fault.

Ami Isseroff

* This essay grew out of a discussion in the MidEastWeb e-dialogue group, where a member pressed the issue of "who is to blame?" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Copyright 2006 by the author.

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000484.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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