Friday, June 5, 2009

Settlements--a hard place to start

If I'm going to jump into this blogging about Israel, I might as well start bold. As my high school drama teacher used to say, "Do it big or go home." My dear friend Stephanie who made aliyah, sent "The Settlements Myth" by Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post via Twitter.

Basically, the article admonishes the Obama Administration for it's stance on Israel. While assuring every other country that American will no longer make Policy for them, the Obama Administration tells Israel what they need to do in the West Bank Settlements: close them, stop building, stop growing. The author, Charles Krauthammer, wonders what will happen to the settlements that already exist. What happened to the plans for the settlements in the past?

"That was envisioned in the Clinton plan in the Camp David negotiations in 2000, and again at Taba in 2001. After all, why expel people from their homes and turn their towns to rubble when, instead, Arabs and Jews can stay in their homes if the 1949 armistice line is shifted slightly into the Palestinian side to capture the major close-in Jewish settlements, and then shifted into Israeli territory to capture Israeli land to give to the Palestinians?"

Where is everyone supposed to go and why are the boundaries so strict? By pointing to the settlements as a large part of the solution to the problem, according the Krauthammer, Obama misses the real problem. None of the leadership wants Israel to exist. In the past, they'd rather go war than have two states. When they were given Gaza, instead of working on creating a positive fruitful piece of land, Hamas shot rockets at Israel. As Krauthammer states:" In the 16 years since the Oslo accords turned the West Bank and Gaza over to the Palestinians, their leaders built no roads, no courthouses, no hospitals, none of the fundamental state institutions that would relieve their people's suffering. Instead they poured everything into an infrastructure of war and terror, all the while depositing billions (from gullible Western donors) into their Swiss bank accounts."

Obama wants so badly to work things out with the Arab leadership. If we could just sit down and talk, things might get better. Will a comfortable chair, Hillary Clinton's smile, and Obama's oratory prowess change the minds of Arab leaders? Will Hamas's leaders wake up in the middle of the night, sit up and think, "You know, that Obama is right. Maybe Israel isn't so bad. Maybe we should let them stay. Look at all the nice trees they've planted."

I worry that if we spend so much time talking, we'll miss the behind the scenes movement. If we spend so much time talking, we'll start to trust. That being said, I know plenty of Israelis (including many of my family members) who'd happily give up the settlements because the hope of peace: do we hold onto hope because hope is real or because hope feels so much better than hate?

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