Friday, May 25, 2007

Obstacles to Peace

Peace in the Middle East can seem like a mirage in the sand. This week, I read that a London School of Economics professor blames the extended conflict on a basic clash between state security (Israel) and human security (for the walled-in Palestinians). Few scholars can agree on what is meant by the Neo-con buzz-word, an "existential" war. All wars are aimed at wiping out the enemy, no? Degradation extinguishes human dignity as surely as paper covers rock, rock crushes scissors, scissors cut paper. But it is no game. To Arab and Jewish civilians on the front lines, life has become joyless.

In a bumper analysis project, the BBC's website suggests that the origin of this bitter Israeli-Arab combat is four-fold. First comes an fashioned water dispute. How's that for muddying the waters?

Borders in constant flux don't help matters for leaders seeking Condi Rice's elusive political horizon: an imaginary line which recedes the closer you approach it. And Jerusalem, reunited for the past 40 years according to the city fathers, is a perennial stumbling block. Thousands of Palestinian refugees, who languish in squalid camps, are an uncomfortable reminder of people pushed aside and that the "right of return" is unequal. Almost anyone with a Jewish grandparent is welcomed at Ben Gurion airport as a potential Israeli citizen (or citizen-soldier.) Many youth groups provide all-expenses-paid holidays to first workd gap-year students looking for their Hebrew roots in the Holy Land. This must stick in the craw of Palestinian families who are harassed at every checkpoint, hoping to eke out a livelihood in the land of their grandfathers.

Israelity Bites.

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