Israel and Palestine Conflict – Essay Example

ISRAEL AND PALESTINE There are few geopolitical issues as complex and difficult to solve as the conflict in the Middle East. It has a long and bloodyhistory and many people have tried and failed to solve it before. Nothing new has happened in the last few years to make it any easier to solve. In fact, some things have gotten quite a bit worse. There is little visionary leadership available on either side. As things stand now, it is unlikely this conflict will be resolved. The two sides are intractably opposed to one other. Furthermore, the Arab world is poorly developed in economic sense; they maintain old grievances and are unable to look to the future. The only way the two-state solution will come about is if the international community exerts more pressure on both the Israelis and the Palestinians. The truth is that a two state solution will only work when it reflects a multi-state effort (Clinton). A key to this is to try to stabilize both sides identities.
Because human identities are not stable they can be manipulated by demagogues and bad people it is easy for propaganda and newspapers to whip people up into an aggressive frenzy. Ethnicity and nationalism can be used to convince people to kill their neighbours, or blow themselves up on buses full of civilians. It can cleave nations in two, and destabilize whole regions. As Edward Said has written, “Human identity is not natural and stable, but constructed and occasionally even invented outright” (Said). In the course of this conflict, ethnic nationalism—a collective aspect of human identity—plays a very significant role. It could be said to be a conflict-driver. The conflict is shaped and motivated by both Israelis and Arabs who want to secure their claim to land and history. None of this is new, but in a world as connected as ours, such conflicts are more damaging than ever before in our history. There has been little movement towards reconciliation in recent years. There is a kind of stagnation present. These issues form the background and backdrop of the problem. They are now so much a part of the narrative that they are virtually impossible to change. The only real solution is for the international community to bring both sides to the table and force them to agree to the two state solution. Sanctions may be necessary to effect this outcome.
Another important solution lies in trying to stabilize ethnic groups’ identities in a way that is inclusive and not aggressive. People have to share more, whether that means land or resources. They cannot define their existence in opposition to another group (Eran). They will get nowhere by focusing on what separates them or in what proves their victimhood.
The international community can help, but their help has not done too much in the past. The international community’s involvement in the Mideast conflict has been a mixed bag. There have certainly been great benefits to some parties to the conflict—for example, Israel, Egypt, and Jordan—but in some ways its involvement has extended the crisis, perhaps unnecessarily. The major players are too dependent on the U.S., for example, which is sometimes quite fickle and lacking attention about its role in the region. This is a serious problem. As one critics writes of the issue: “Under US supervision, the Palestinian-Israeli “peace process” has become a goal in and of itself. A false sense of normalcy has been created because of the on-going process of negotiations. The lack of visible resistance to Israeli occupation from the Palestinian side, except for temporary flare-ups, and Israel’s ability to continue negotiations while continuing to build settlements in occupied Palestinian Territory has created the false impression that the “process” of achieving peace could substitute for peace itself” (Badil). This too is part of the problem and must be addressed. A whole industry has sprouted up around this issue, looking to enrich themselves rather than deal with the actual problem. That fact must be taken into account.
What can be done to fix this problem? First, the United States should consult its Arab partners with respect to the Palestinian cause. The United States is the lead international actor. Also, securing a just peace should become a U.S. priority instead of just regional economic cooperation. Such cooperation will be a natural result if peace and security are achieved first, but this should not in and of itself be the priority (Malley). As it is now, there is simply a bargain between unequal adversaries, whereas a real solution would be Palestinian self-determination. This would not only silence the extremists, but would produce economic growth and development that has been stifled in the entire region for decades. It can be accomplished in our lifetime if there is the will.
What the international community can do is exert pressure. They can pressure Egypt to take a stronger position. It is important to remember that Israel is not the only country that is laying “siege” to Gaza. Egypt also refuses to open its border. Perhaps the solution to this whole problem is not a “two-state” one but a “three state” one wherein Egypt absorbs Gaza and the West Bank becomes independent. This might resolve many of the long-standing tensions.
The truth is peace would be a wonderful thing. It is not, however, easy to achieve. No recent history shows that either side is now willing to compromise. This war will continue to drag on.
Bibliography
Dershowitz, Alan. The Case for Israel. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2003.
Clinton, Bill. My Life. Vintage, 2005.
Eran, Oded. "Arab-Israel Peacemaking." The Continuum Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East. Ed. Avraham Sela. New York: Continuum, 2002.
Malley, Robert and Hussein Agha. "Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors," New York Review of Books, 9 August 2001.
Said, Edward. Orientalism. Toronto: Random House, 1979. http://books.google.ca/books?id=zvJ3YwOkZAYC&dq=edward+said+orientalism&client=firefox-a&source=gbs_navlinks_s
Badil. http://www.badil.org/Publications/Press/2001/press157-01.htm