Building a Castle in the Sand

Posted in Israel / Palestine | 26-May-05 | Author: Manuela Paraipan

Israel is a country built on controversy, if it were to take the Arab perspective on it. What was done under the British Mandate of Palestine cannot be undone. Nonetheless, the present state of affairs causes a great stir in the Arab world. The question we all ask is: Can the Israelis and the Palestinians share the land, live side by side and get along with each other?

Israel is accused of being an expansionist occupier and a danger to its neighbors because of its technologically advanced weaponry and WMDs. As a result, few Arab countries have shown the interest or willingness to even recognize Israel's de facto existence as a state in the region.

However, the Israelis and the Palestinians want peace - each on its own terms. For the record their positions are irreconcilable, or so they seem. The Palestinians would rather see the British drawing of the map undone, and the Israelis want the peace that will give them the whole country, at least up to the Jordan River; this land should be covered with medium- and larger-sized settlements. Jewish settlements. Until now, all peace plans have fallen short of this.

In 2002, Crown Prince Abdullah asked for a normalization of Arab -Israeli relations. In effect his plan called for:

Renunciation of violence by all sides in the conflict

Political talks to resolve all issues between Palestinians and Israelis, mainly the refugee problem

An end to Israeli settlements

US assistance in implementing UN Resolution 242, which was drafted in 1967 and calls on Israel to pull out of territories occupied in the Six-Day War in exchange for Arab recognition of Israel's right to live within secure borders.

If the Israelis had accepted the Saudi plan, no other country would have staggered. The Wahhabi (rather extremist) religious system is central to Islam and the Middle East region. In other words, if the most extremist Muslims want to enter into negotiations with Israel having in mind a peaceful end, then why would the other Muslims reject it? The thousands of refugees who were displaced when Israel was created need to be settled somewhere. If not in Israel, then at least they should get some compensation. Also, a mutual ending of hostilities may work, but only if both sides have the same aim. As for the Saudi plan to allow millions of Palestinian refugees to return, this would effectively turn Israel into a larger Gaza - not a very good idea, and certainly not one that Israel would accept.

On the other hand, if Israel is an expansionist force, then why did it return the oil-rich Sinai to Egypt? The peace they signed with the Egyptians seems not to have been worth the effort. It is not as if the Egyptians and the Israelis are good buddies. President Mubarak maintains the minimal level of cooperation with Israel that is needed to provide the West a better image of himself and of his regime.

There were reasons why the Israelis refused the Saudi-backed plan. From a human stand, it is enough to say that for any sane Israeli Prime Minister it would be difficult to shake hands - not to mention trust - a proposal put forth by a Saudi prince. The same princes most likely have led for years a religious, economic and political Jihad against the very existence of Israel. It is only natural to doubt a project emanating from one of your worst enemies who still looks upon Jews as pigs and monkeys.

If Prince Abdullah was serious about it, he should have offered to personally make a visit to Prime Minister Sharon in Israel and extend the same courtesy to any Israeli leader interested in returning the visit. Here I want to mention that to this day, the Jewish people are not allowed to enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As the proverb says: If Mohammad - in this case Sharon - is not going to the mountain, then the mountain - in this case the Crown Prince - goes to Mohamed. If the Crown Prince Abdullah had taken such a brave action, his deeds would speak for him. Talk is too cheap to be taken into consideration.

Israel, although a hated occupier was also the main source of income for the thousands of the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank. It may look peculiar, but the Israelis were actually the ones who provided Palestinian radicals with money to feed their families. I can only imagine how various Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders thanked Allah in their daily prayers for being employed by the Israelis, thus being able to provide their family a roof over their heads and bread on the table. It looks like a paradox. The Israelis are the evil, yet without them the Palestinians would be living in even worse conditions.

In case you wonder, Arafat used the money the Palestinians received from the EU in good faith. The fact that his own people were uneducated and living with less than $2 per day was not of concern to Arafat. After all, why spend the millions of euros and dollars on them? This would have been a waste. Instead, Arafat put the money in personal accounts around the world. For safety. His own safety.

The Arab street pointed out countless times the fact that Israel is the only country from the region allowed to purchase technologically advanced weaponry. However, just recently the United Arab Emirates (UAE) purchased what is considered to be the most advanced F-16s ever made, much more qualitatively superior to Israel's. Additionally, by freezing out Israeli involvement in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and other technologies, Israel will no longer have access to the technologies that make Israel qualitatively superior to the Arabs, and when they are sold beginning in 2012, Israel will receive the same weapons as Egypt and the rest of the Arabs. Therefore, Israel's advantage is disappearing in its main military division - the air force.

High on the global political agenda - for Arab nations as well - is the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT was negotiated in the 1960s after five countries, the United States, Soviet Union, Britain, France and China developed nuclear weapons. India, Pakistan and Israel refused to join the treaty and, over time, constructed their own atomic bombs. Now, North Korea and Iran stand accused of violating their treaty commitments by pursuing nuclear weapons.

The fact that countries with rogue regimes such as Libya or North Korea have signed the NPT allowed the UN to give nuclear technology to these dictators. However, after using the UN and the world's generosity, Iran and North Korea now claim they do not require the NPT. North Korea withdrew last year, and Iran is hinting it might so as to escape UN sanctions while claiming that they cannot be blamed!

At least Israel has not signed a treaty it did not intend to honor from the beginning. What great technology has North Korea provided from its nukes to the world or Iran, a country that has ten times the oil reserves and natural gas reserves as the US. What great need is there for Iran to enrich uranium? The civilian purpose they claim is absurd given that most of the Iranian population is both illiterate, rural and does not even have remote access to an electrical grid, much less industry needs for electricity.

As for the theory: If Israel has them, why cannot we, the simple answer to this is because while Israelis has not used its WMDs to flex its muscles, can anyone guarantee that the mullahs will do the same? One has only to read the many official declarations of the Iranian mullahs to see what their first target may be. Still, there is a debate here. Some would prefer to attack the US directly and deal with Israel later.

The various parties of the conflict need to understand that Israel is there and will not go away. Sure it was created amid chaos and war, but the Jews gained the right to live there. The Israelis have to understand that due to the creation of their state, hundreds of thousands of people were left as refugees. These refugees must be settled somewhere; they haven't been for 50 years. It shouldn't take another 50 years for this to happen. As for the smoked idea that Israel's WMDs escalate the arms race in the Middle East: This is simply not true.

Russia and China are the ones that are pushing nuclear technology upon other countries - a policy that could very easily turn on them. Through supporting Iran and North Korea to acquire nuclear power, Russia - and to a lesser extent China - is playing with fire. In an attempt to block US policies in the region and try to make money in the process, Russia wants to be noticed as it once was: As a superpower. Since it doesn't have a bargaining chip -which is to say economic might or other things of interest - Russia's only option is to use its capability of building nuclear weapons.

Going back to Israel: Its conventional military has quality superiority over the Arabs. Thus, it may not need WMDs to protect itself. The Arabs should be aware that if they continue to preach in thousands death to the Israelis, gender apartheid and the holy Jihad against the infidels - who by the way are the whole human population except the Muslims, this will greatly influence the West's perception and actions towards them.

If people are taught from birth to death to hate each other, over generations, this kind of mentality is almost impossible to overcome and eventually backfires on the Muslims themselves.