Thursday, January 10, 2008

Saying the unthinkable

Does President Bush really know what he said in Jerusalem today? Does he really think Jews and Arabs can live together in peace, without heavily armed soldiers guarding national borders -- and do it next year? Maybe peace is possible -- for the sake of the world, it better be possible -- but next year? Bush called on Israel today to end its occupation of the West Bank, which it took in 1967 from Jordan, which took it from the Palestinians in the 1948-49, and for Palestinians to give up their goal of returning to their pre-1948 homes in what is now Israel. In return, the Palestinians would get an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza. Bush also called upon Israel to stop settlement activity in its West Bank population centers and in East Jerusalem, which it regards as part of its capital. Bush wants to accomplish this before he leaves office next January. This might be possible in a perfect world, where soldiers don't kidnap and torture other soldiers and don't threaten and humiliate civilians, but we don't live in a perfect world. In our world, Palestinian children are taught to hate Israeli (read Jewish) children, Arab extremists mutilate the bodies of Israeli soldiers and Israel destroys the homes of suspected militants and their families and imprisons tens of thousands of Arab suspects and holds them indefinitely. We'd all like to see them live in peace, but it will take a lot longer than one year -- even if they do agree to stop fighting -- for the Jews, Arabs and Palestinians of the Middle East to learn to trust each other.

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