“With Malice Toward None…”
By Dwight Owen Schweitzer – placed in syndication on June 10, 2002
Imagine if you will an infestation of bugs in your house – in the walls, the counters, the floors, seemingly everywhere. You want to be rid of them so what do you do? Well I am sure I don’t have to tell you the choices… what matters is that you know that if you swat them as they appear, or for that manner, take any half measures all you accomplish is giving them time to figure out a new strategy to defeat your efforts. What you need to do is to figure a way to eradicate them as thoroughly as possible to reduce the chances of ever having to deal with them again.
For those of you who think that I am referring to the Palestinians, I am not. What I am referring to is the pieces of the problem that must be addressed to achieve a real and lasting peace in the Middle East. In the past, whoever decided to play a role in that process, whether it be the Israeli left or right, the Palestinian leadership, states in the region, the European Union, its constituent countries or the United States, swatted the bugs on the table and left the ones in the walls for later. I have therefore decided to play the ”Orkin Man” and look at the infestation of problems and my imaginary bag of insecticides to find a process to finish them off once and for all. Yeah, right, go home and get some rest.
The fact is that almost everyone agrees that there needs to be a solution and while many are attacking the problem from various vantages there is a vacuum in terms of a comprehensive plan that ”does it all,” involves everyone who ought to be involved and does so in the proper way and with the proper pecking order. What follows is an outline of how a comprehensive solution could be forged. The members of the orchestra are all those states listed above and those states in the region which are amenable to the moral suasion, political, economic and if necessary, military power of the orchestra leader, the United States and her allies.
The process starts with the enunciation of certain basic truths and the acceptance of their logical conclusions. First and foremost is the truth that there are no ”occupied territories” as Jordan gave up any claims of sovereignty over the West Bank and Egypt gave up its claim to the return of Gaza. It is therefore all Israel by right of conquest and by the historical fact that it was always Israel, the homeland of the Jews.
The second, but no less important truth is that there must be a viable Palestinian State and that Israel must give up some of its territory to create it.
The third is that we must write on a new blackboard, the Oslo accords have been violated and are now irrelevant.
The fourth is that peace, in and of itself, is a meaningless word without an infrastructure in place to ensure that it lasts and that safety valves are present to deal with the unforeseen, the misinterpretation and the mistrust.
The fifth is that it must be comprehensive and that in order for it to be comprehensive, it must be imposed from without, and that means it must be imposed by the United States and her allies. While it is the United States in consultation with her allies that ultimately decides, the process of arriving at what is imposed cannot be arbitrary, and all interested parties must be given a voice in crafting the result.
The sixth is that Israel must have a veto over what is proposed for her territory which includes Judea and Samaria because in that way she maintains her sovereignty while playing an appropriate role in the peaceful evolution of a pluralistic, democratic and economically viable neighbor state.
The seventh is the formation (and if need be imposition) of an economic union between Israel the new Palestinian state and Jordan which shall have jurisdiction over all air rights and air space over the three countries, subject to their individual rights of self defense.
The eighth is that the curriculum in all schools in the new Palestinian state be free of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and anti-American rhetoric and must be approved and in place as part of the process and before statehood is granted and that the Palestinian constitution contain language acknowledging the common roots and heritage of all Semitic peoples and of each nations right to exist in freedom and peace.
The ninth is that there is not now and never has been a right recognized by international law to return to the State of Israel by Palestinians and if such a right were to exist it belongs to the Jews by virtue of historical fact and Israeli Law.
The tenth is that the plan and its outcome must be guaranteed and enforced, militarily, economically and politically by the United States and its allies; and that Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon acknowledge and endorse the process as well as the result.
The eleventh is that Israel can and should build the Med-Dead Hydroelectric canal financed by the World Bank and that the electricity produced be used by the three partners in the economic union and be jointly administered by them.
The twelfth is that the pipeline for water from Turkey be likewise financed by the World Bank to insure that the members of the economic union have ample supplies of water for the foreseeable future and that the company running the pipeline be likewise jointly administered by the three members of the economic union.
The thirteenth is that the Golan Heights be a demilitarized zone administered by the United States and that in 20 years the new border between Syria and Israel will be along the highest points of the heights, each having one side, on the condition that it remain demilitarized for at least an additional 50 years.
The fourteenth is that Syria remove all of its troops from Lebanon and that internationally monitored free elections take place there.
The fifteenth is that the constitution of the new Palestinian state be ratified and approved by the United States as a part of and a condition to the creation process and that it, like the constitution created for Japan after WW II, renounce war and terrorism as instruments of national policy, not allow for the creation of a standing army, but that the borders and territorial integrity of all countries in the economic union be likewise guaranteed by the United States.
The sixteenth is that a portion of the present city of Jerusalem should be incorporated into the new Palestinian state as one leg of a three-legged plan for Jerusalem, which should also include the acknowledgment by all states in the region that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the placement of the U.S. embassy there.
The seventeenth is the creation of an industrial and infrastructure development bank, initially funded by the United States and the European Union through the World Bank with not less than $18 billion initially to become upwards of $90 billion, as may be needed and approved for the development of economic, educational, health and infrastructure within the new Palestinian state, the funds to be administered by a board controlled by the United States but made up of Israeli and Palestinian and Jordanian representatives with three Palestinians for every two Israelis and Jordanians.
The eighteenth is the acknowledgment that the Temple Mount is the historic and present site of the first and second temples of the Jewish people and as such, the ‘ownership’ and control of the Temple Mount be vested in the State of Israel with the exception of that portion that is occupied by the Dome of the Rock, which shall belong to and be administered by the Palestinian state.
It is in our interest to give the Palestinians a meaningful chance at a better life in a democratic, pluralistic, open and economically viable state.
For those who are shaking their heads at these proposals for one reason or another, and I assume that includes practically everyone, several thoughts ought to be kept in mind, among them is that this is supported by history and does not to create a process of prolonged discussion or debate. It is to be imposed in much the same way we are imposing our will in Afghanistan. The State of Israel has a veto over any land concessions because it should decide what is to be done with its territory but more importantly to give the Jewish people and the State of Israel the opportunity to take the ultimate credit for the result, as they rightly should.
The Palestinians are being given a gift, which is in our collective interest to give them and it must be given with goodwill and the promise of future cooperation and support, but it is a gift nonetheless.
The role of the United States in this process is infinitely more important than any other international initiative because it is a reasonable projection of our power and gives us a measure of continuing influence in the region economically, militarily and culturally and politically.
The Palestinian State to be created will be the creation of the United States and her allies in much the same way present-day Japan was our recreation after WW II. If it is done right, which means listen to all, weigh conflicting claims impartially and decide emphatically; we will have left a legacy in the region that will begin to reverse the policy mistakes of centuries.
It is time that we stopped pretending that a Palestinian State is a matter of right. It is not. What it is, is a matter of international expediency and it is in the interests of all parties and indeed the world because it puts certainty back into the process and empowers and enables a truly democratic government in the new state to begin to meet the needs of its people instead of blaming Israel for their deprivation.
It also enables us to create, over an extended period of time, the climate there for a return to the true values of Islam within the framework of a democratic system, the first in the Arab world. It is anticipated that the process will take from 10 to 15 years, during which time the United States’ Trusteeship status over the West Bank and Gaza at the request of Jordan and Egypt will offer the opportunity to impose constructive change on the one hand while recognizing and elevating the economic, political and human rights of the Palestinian people in a free open and democratic state on the other.
What is also contemplated is that Jews will have the right to remain in the new Palestinian State and shall be afforded the same rights as Arabs are afforded in Israel and those rights as well, will be guaranteed by the constitution of the new Palestinian state.
Most importantly, this approach gives the state of Israel the opportunity to do what Lincoln said in his second inaugural address: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
By those immortal words, though spoken in a different time and place, it is as if he were sending forth to the world the precepts that are the destiny, the essence, and the mission of the Jewish people, and their nation, Israel.
(Another view towards the resolution of the Palestinian Statehood Question)
The Conundrum of Democracy; Is a One State Solution
Possible for Israel
By Dwight Owen Schweitzer
It was not so many years ago that Jews and Arabs lived in relative peace and harmony in what the Romans chose to rename Palestine. When the State of Israel was to be reborn in a substantially shrunken form in 1948, even then, the Jews and many Arabs within the partitioned zone that was to be Israel wanted nothing more than to live in peace with their neighbors and go on with life as before. For too many reasons to go into here, this was not to be for many, but not all of the Arab population who now found themselves living in Israel and are voting citizens there today. It was hoped that those Arabs who became refugees would find homes in any number of Arab countries that had the land, resources, and bonds of religion and heritage to welcome them.
This too was not to be, although the number of Jews expelled from Arab lands as a result of the creation of the new Israeli State was approximately the same number of Arabs displaced from Israel. The difference of course is that Israel was willing and anxious to take in the Jews who lost their homes. The Arab brothers and sisters of their unfortunate refugees on the other hand, were more than content to let them languish in conditions which were often appalling even by the standards of that part of the world. .
It was the policy those Arab states who could have offered them new homes that these refugees were better suited to remain stateless displaced persons focused on the extermination of the Zionist entity, Israel, rather than simply be absorbed into the larger Arab world as countless tribes and groups had for centuries. In the meantime, but for sporadic violence and much hatred fostered from many sources, there were still more times of calm than violence and many so called Palestinians traveled relatively freely in Israel, earning their livelihoods and some doubtless dreaming that someday, somehow Israel would all be theirs. .
Which brings me to the point of all this, almost. Before I go there, I want to revisit the wisdom of Solomon who said to those two women who both claimed the same baby as their own, “cut it in half, so each of you will have at least a part of what you want” and the mother who loved the child said no give it to the false claimant for I would rather my baby live as the child of another. While by no means a biblical scholar, the simple story of the wisdom of Solomon made me ask myself if a ‘one state’ solution to the competing claims to the region was possible to extinguish forever the fires of violence and hatred that continue to be fostered from generation to generation.
To be sure, Solomon’s’ wisdom has been lost in the annals of twentieth century statecraft and it is reasonable to assume that those wise men were not biblical scholars either. They were the ones after all who in their peculiar wisdom cut Vietnam in half, and Korea in half and India in half and Germany in half, and Ireland in half and oh yes biblical Israel in half too. Not too many success stories in those annals to say the least. Yet once again we hear the clarion call to do it yet again presumably because it has such a simple and seductive ‘conclusiveness’ about it, that is if you forget the other ‘halfsies’ and their consequences in misery and death. But here the players do not want to play and it is fitting that it should be in the land of Solomon that we ought to rethink cutting the baby in half once again. .
An answer has been staring us in the face every time we salute the United States flag. We are a federal system but made up of 50 states. Is it possible that Israel could cease being a state and once again become a nation of states? Without turning this into a lecture on the peculiarities of how our country exists as fifty pieces in some respects and one piece in others, suffice it to say that the guiding principle is our constitutional provision that says that those powers not reserved to the individual states reside in the federal government. It is called the Supremacy Clause. One cannot help but wonder if such a system could be applied to Israel including the West Bank and Gaza? If so, a lot of the heretofore-irreconcilable differences begin to whither away. The conundrum is democracy; the right to vote and in voting the will of the people is expressed and what happens if they turn out not to be ‘my’ people?
If Israel is to become a Nation of States and is to also insure that it remains a Jewish state, the first hurtle to overcome is that only the Jews vote in Israel and the Arabs vote in their state just as Americans can be at once citizens of say Texas and simultaneously of the United States but in state elections Texans can only vote in Texas. The devil to be sure, is in the details but the allure of such a solution is also in the details as well. By being one nation, the right of Arab return goes away as freedom of movement begins to return as the seeds of peace take root. The size of the Arab population becomes irrelevant because they are voting citizens of the Arab state, not the Jewish one and we should remember that in our own system Texas and Rhode Island are equal in the U. S. Senate although one is many times more populous, not to mention larger than the other. Jerusalem ceases to be an issue because it is the capitol of the Nation of Israel. Nothing would prevent a portion of it from being the capitol of the state of Palestine either.
What is key to such a plan is that the Nation of Israel be composed of three States; Judea, Samaria and Palestine, in effect two Jewish States and one Arab State. As the power to make war, enter treaties, raise and equip armies, control interstate commerce etc. reside with our Federal government, so they should reside with the Federal government of Israel. But there, as here, the States should have great latitude in how they manage their legitimate internal affairs.
The most desirable effect of such a process evolving is that Israel returns to what she historically was, a multi-cultural state controlled by the Jewish people. For the Palestinian Arabs there is ultimately freedom of movement and residence and work anywhere in the Nation of Israel. Jews too would have the right to live in the State of Palestine but could only vote in Federal elections. With this process, the conundrum of democracy will no longer hold the prospect of turning the current State of Israel into an Arab State simply through disproportionate birth rates ultimately giving Israel’s Arab population a voting majority.
What will be insured is that the land of Israel will once again be the land of the Semites.