Israel, Palestine and the Arab Spring

Israel, Palestine and the Arab Spring

I'm not gonna lie, I wanna kick ass in the Middle East, just not in the usual way. America has been sending soldiers and bombs to the region, fighting proxy wars and doing dodgy things in the oil industry for a long time now and I think it's pretty safe to say that approach hasn't worked. Well, not unless your goal is killing brown people. It's done plenty of that. But as far as building strong, progressive nations, advancing human rights and making peace a reality, the war method hasn't born much fruit. The way I see it, if Julius Caesar couldn't calm that part of the world when the best they had were rough swords, rocks and only the slightest inkling of national identities, we shouldn't be so arrogant as to believe we can put a collar around it when they've got thousands of years of pride and a near-infinite supply of modern munitions. So, let's try this diplomacy thing.

So far, I'm doing pretty well with Middle East policy. I'm killing the terrorists, I'm pulling out of the Bush wars and I'm supporting the Libyan rebels without destroying our economy with troop deployment. It's a nice middle ground that I could probably maintain across two terms.

And then there's Israel.

Look, it's nice to have a solid ally in the region and see at least one halfway decent democracy in the desert, but that doesn't mean Israel isn't a huge stumbling block for U.S. foreign policy. I'm trying to put some steam behind the two-state solution, which is reasonable if not entirely realistic. It's the toughest sell in the world, actually. Sure, it seems like a peaceful compromise to the conflict, but just try telling a bunch of battle-hardened denizens of the last true military meritocracy that they should give back the land they or their parents fought and maybe died taking. For us in America the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights and West Bank are all just names we're tired to hearing on the news. For Israelis they're hard-won battlefields. It'd be like asking Americans to give up Gettysburg to some militant separatists.

Of course, if America was constantly struggling against said separatists across enough generations to make "who started it" irrelevant, making a new country might just be preferable to 70 more years of fighting. Getting Israel to accept that hard truth is something nobody has been able to accomplish yet. Maybe I can if the climate in the Middle East turns from generally conflicted to genuinely progressive.

But it's not all on the Israelis. The Palestinian contingent is going to have to act like a real nation if they want to prove their ability to run one. That means marginalizing Hamas and cutting out all the melodramatic language about Israel being imperialist, fascist and evil. If your top-level diplomats think it's advisable to call a Jew a Nazi, you're obviously not ready for the nuances of statehood. Real soldiers, honest patriots, don't cover their faces with bandanas or blow up pizza parlors.

I know I've got a long way to go on this whole Middle East thing, but I'm trying to do something real. If the GOP offerings for 2012 are any indication, I've got five years left to do it.