Sunday, July 30, 2006

Middle East Peace

Kevin Drum started an evocative discussion recently about the Israel-Lebanon-Palestine situation. It mostly served to illustrate how pointless it is to start an evocative discussion about the Israel-Lebanon-Palestine situation. Since then, things have gotten worse. Many people have died; many more have been injured; and many times that many now hate Israel and the United States with unbridled passion--some, so much that they would be willing to die just to have a chance of giving us a taste of what we have given them. And yet discussing how that has come to be and even what we should do now is totally useless. Nothing we can say is going to change any of those things. What we need to be discussing is: where do we go from here? What is the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

I honestly do not think that the Israelis will ever be willing to withdraw from the bulk of the occupied territories, or to offer the Palestinians a real state on anything close to what they seized in the '67 war. And I don't think that the Palestinians will ever be willing to settle for chopped liver--or fried chicken or whatever. So, if nothing close to an equitable division of land is possible--and nothing less would be acceptable--what's left?

The other alternatives are: let the Palestinians remain an occupied, subjugated people in perpetuity, relocate them, or make them Israeli citizens so that they are no longer occupied, subjugated people. The first option is morally reprehensible and simply means a never-ending war. Relocation of all the Palestinians would be nearly impossible, almost as immoral, and just as unacceptable to the Arab world. And granting Israeli citizenship to all the Palestinians is out of the question for Israel.

So the only thing left is none of the above--or some combination of all of the above. What if Israel agreed to grant full citizenship to a portion of the Palestinian population, if others agreed to emigrate? Some kind of formula could be worked out, say one Palestinian would be given citizenship for every two that emigrate elsewhere. This is not so far-fetched. The peace talks have always included provisions for the return of some, but not all, Palestinian refugees.
As miserable as their situation is in the occupied territories and the refugee camps, most Palestinians would be unwilling to emigrate today, even if the opportunity existed. Instead, they choose to hold on to the thin hope that they, or at least their family, will some day be returned to their homeland. (I do not personally know any Palestinians. But I think I have a pretty good grasp of their mindset here, because I do know several Cubans/Cuban Americans.) But many Palestinians are obviously willing to accept sacrifice for the sake of that hope. And many more would be more than happy to seek a better life elsewhere, given the opportunity--especially if it did not seem like a betrayal of those they would leave behind.

As a portion of the Palestinian population is relocated--some to Israel, more to other places--the pressure in the refugee camps will be relieved. And so will the motive to become a terrorist. And the support for those terrorist within the Palestinian and Lebanese communities, the willingness to support them, to hide them and even to tolerate them will begin to dry up. As Israel begins to see tangible benefits to the peace process, it will be more willing to support that process and to go the extra mile to reach some lasting solution. That solution will probably include a Palestinian state, but one that is likely to be a bit smaller than they would have accepted if a portion of their population had not found homes elsewhere.

Key to all this is that other countries must be willing to do their part to help Palestinian refugees relocate. America, and Americans who want peace must be willing to kick in some money towards that end. Would a typical Palestinian be willing to simply leave and move to Chad or Niger? No way, and neither would they welcome him. But whole villages could be relocated there if a little money was thrown in to sweeten the deal. There was a recent article on NPR about white South African farmers settling in Niger (it might have been Nigeria), and they were welcomed there, both for the money they brought and for their farming expertise. I suspect that some Palestinians know something about desert farming. That, and a little money, could make the deserts bloom.
Permalink 2:43 PM

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Here's one for Media Matters' record book. On the McLaughlin Group, Tony Blankley refered to Palestine of the 1940' as a place "where there were very few people -- there were no Palestinians. There were Arabs, wandering Arabs, who happened to live there, and not that many of them."

Wandering Arabs? I'm pretty sure that Palestine included cities such as Jerusalem, Ramallah, Haifa and oh, little towns like Bethlehem. And do you think he calls Americans, "Europeans (mostly), who happen to live here"?

You'd think that one of the five other panelists--respected journalist, all--would have corrected him. You'd be wrong.
Permalink 6:17 PM

Monday, July 17, 2006

Lebanon Update

Angelica of BattlePanda has a bunch of updates on the fighting in Lebanon. Check her out.

It's unbelievable what Lebanon (especially Beirut) has been through in the last few decades. To think, once upon a time, Lebanon was a tourist destination. Hopefully, it will be again. Photos from Tourism in Lebanon

Permalink 10:50 PM

Talk about getting it wrong...(NYT on Hillary)

According to Media Matters, a New York Times online article on Hillary Clinton by Anne E. Kornblut not only gave a false impression, it implied the opposite of what she said.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, returning to her red-state ties, chastised Democrats Saturday for taking on issues that arouse conservatives and turn out Republican voters rather than finding consensus on mainstream subjects.

Without mentioning specific subjects like gay marriage, Mrs. Clinton said: “We do things that are controversial. We do things that try to inflame their base.”

“We are wasting time,” the senator told a group of Democratic women here, on part of a two-day swing through a state that could provide an alternate hub to New York if she starts a national political campaign.

But those quotes are taken out of context from Hillary's speech. To give context, here's more of her speech:
And so we were talking one day and saying, you know, we as individuals, we have all of this legislation, we can't get it on the floor of the Senate. We can't get a vote on it because the Republican majority wants to vote on other things. So we pulled all our best ideas together. Wouldn't this be a good agenda for America: safeguard America's pensions; good jobs for Americans; make college affordable for all; protect America and our military families; prepare for future disasters; make America energy independent; make small business and healthcare affordable, invest in life saving science; and protect our air, land, and water. You know, Blanche Lincoln has a bill to make healthcare affordable for small business, I have a bill I was talking to you about with respect to energy independence, we have legislation sitting in the Senate to address these problems. But with the Republican majority, that's not their priority. So we do other things, we do things that are controversial, we do things that try to inflame their base so that they can turn people out and vote for their candidates. I think we are wasting time, we are wasting lives, we need to get back to making America work again, in a bipartisan, nonpartisan way."
Hillary is clearly chastising the Republicans for preventing the Senate from accomplishing anything, not her fellow Democrats.

This is so weird. Did Kornbluth listen to the speech, or just spin out a story from a collection of quotes supplied by someone else?
Permalink 10:38 PM

The World on Fire

3 Quarks Daily has a list of some of the items in the news recently. Israel on the verge of war with Hezbollah (in Lebanon) and Hamas (in Gaza). Afghanistan falling apart. Iraq on the brink of civil war. Iran and North Korea determined to acquire nuclear capability (and delivery systems, in the case of NK). Tensions flare between India and Pakistan...

So much for the theory that the war in Iraq would "drain the swamps" where violence breeds.
Permalink 10:28 PM

Scientists Say Clones would be Individuals

From the BBC:
A cloned human would probably consider themselves to be an individual, a study suggests.

What's odd about this is (a) the fact that anyone thought they needed a study to figure this out, and (b) the strange use of the word "probably". Did anybody really think that clones would be some kind of hive-mind, like the Borg?
Permalink 1:47 PM

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Jew Blind

From Tapped, Ezra Klein writes, "When Jason Horowitz called to ask me about anti-Semitism’s influence in the blogosphere, my first response was... Say my name, real slowly, and then ask again." This reminded me of something that I have noticed before, namely that political writers seem to be able to recognize Jewish names easier that I can and--like Ezra--seem to expect everyone to be able to do this.

Growing up in a small southern town, I knew exactly one person who I knew to be Jewish--Amy Wolstein. (I didn't make acquaintance with her brother Byron, until after high school.) I just didn't have enough exposure to Jewishness to learn to recognize it; I'm pretty sure the first place I ever heard the word "dradle" was on South Park; I would have been about 37 or 38 at the time. (Not only did I not recognize Klein as a Jewish name, I was surprised to learn that Ezra was a man's name. Most people I can think of with similar sounding names are women--Essala, Evita, Elmira, Elvira....)

I am aware that there is a strain of anti-semitism in some parts of the country. I remember Daryl being surprised by it in Chicago. But some writers, who want to see anti-semitism in every sideways glance, need to learn that not everyone thinks that way. I, for one, had no idea that many neo-cons were Jewish until David Brooks accused liberals like me of being prejudiced against them for that reason.
Permalink 6:59 PM

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Three Deaths

  • I was on vacation last week to beautiful Cape Fear region of North Carolina (specifically Carolina Beach), so I missed the opportunity to say anything about Enron founder Kenneth Lay'sdeath from a heart attack on July 5, 2006. It appears he beat the rap.

    I hope this is not too disrespectful of the living or the dead, but Ken Lay always reminded me of veteran comedian Tim Conway, of McHale's Navy and the Carol Burnett Show.

  • Syd Barrett, one of the founders of Pink Floyd, died July 11, 2006. Syd's mental deterioration (presumably due to drugs) led to his being forced out of the band, and inspired the album Wish You Were Here. The songs "Wish You Were Here" and "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" were both addressed to Syd, as I understand it.

  • Fred Epstein, a surgeon known for his innovative and aggressive treatment of brain and spinal tumors in children, died July 11, as well. I had never heard of him, until someone got all up in arms about Syd Barrett getting more publicity than Fred Epstein. He sounds like he was a wonderful human being.
Permalink 6:04 PM

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ah Hyperbole!

In an otherwise excelent deconstruction of Jonathan Chait's recent silliness, Digby writes: "If you want to see a purge in full glory, keep your eyes on the right if they lose the election. Nobody does it better. Not even Stalin."

Not even Stalin? Somehow, I doubt that the Republicans will be sending death squads after the neo-cons who manage to escape to Mexico. But what do I know? I didn't believe that the Supreme Court would subvert the Constitution to steal the 2000 election either, but they did.
Permalink 9:45 PM