The World Must Do More For Middle East Peace
Published on: June 14, 2010
show comments
  • Marc R

    Wow. Just, wow.

    Walter, you never cease to amaze.

    I’ve read countless pieces on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, by countless experts. How is it possible that you have managed to write something so new, so clearly, so intelligently, and so persuasively?

    I wish I was wearing a hat so I could doff it in your honor.

  • Peter

    Send Visas!

    Not visas to the U.S. The Statue of Liberty not withstanding, America is not a dumping ground for the Third Worlder, especially those filled with hate and from an alien (i.e., non-Western) culture.

    The U.S. is a nation, Mead, not a play thing for foreign affaire elitists.

    Send money?

    Not U.S. money; we’ve already poured a ton of it into Middle Eastern rat holes. The country is broke, Mead — literally broke.

    Nowe go back to the drawing board, Mead, and try to come up with something realistic while not being detrimental to your home country.

  • Earl of Sandwich

    Great post, I think you’re absolutely right that the international community needs to take more responsibility for starting the conflict. Ironically, Zionists are so enamored with the idea of being master’s of their own destiny that I think many of them would rather be branded criminals than admit that their actions-good and ill-were largely dictated by forces beyond their control. And Arabs are happy to label them criminals too, while ignoring similar processes in the Western Sahara and East Timor.

    But I hope you are wrong about the ability of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to absorb more refugees, because I cannot imagine Europe giving Palestinians visas, please see how they treat the Roma and their current Muslim “immigrants,” who have lived in Europe for generations but still don’t have citizenship. Europe will never get off its high horse.

    And the idea that the mandate territory is too small to accommodate both peoples has proven a canard in the past. In the 20s the British excuse to halt Jewish immigration was that the mandate could not support more than 4 million (need to check source) people. Which proved drastically wrong. Lets hope your figures also prove to be wrong. In the modern world, physical barriers to population growth are often illusionary.

  • telaviv

    A bit of a untruth to say that both sides…”But the sad and sorry truth is that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are really responsible for the mess that they are both in — and neither party can solve the problem on its own.”

    overall though it is a descent article. and i like your point here, “They have been fighting for more than sixty years to get out of the camps in Gaza and back ‘home’; they will not stop because Mahmoud Abbas and Binyamin Netanyahu sign a piece of paper on the White House lawn.”

    again a problematic point when you think money is part of the solution-the palestinians have already gotten so much money and that hasn’t worked. many states were built without massive donations from abroad, not saying that that shouldnt happen, but can’t claim that money is neccesarily the issue.

  • telaviv

    good point by earl, i think there is plenty of room for pal. refugees in pal. it is corruption and inefficiency that will be the problem.

  • joe

    Visas and money alone would not solve the problem. The PLO led Palestinians managed to start a civil war in Lebanon and nearly topple the Kingdom of Jordan in the 70s and this was before the recent religious revival in the Islamic world. I would put forth that the PLO of the time were fairly reasonable compared to the current Hamas bunch. Even in the 70s it was possible to insulate and localize the influence of the PLO in diaspora, but how could you do that now with modern communications, banking systems and internet evangelism?

    It is a question of hard minorities and soft majorities again. If only 5% of the Gazan residents are nutters, what country will take them? It would be political suicide for a western government to allow it and the middle eastern governments (Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan) have seen the effects and wont make the same mistake again.

    The European immigrants who are most resistant to assimilation are the Anatolian Turks, Moroccan Berbers, rural Bangladeshis and rural Pakistanis. They are all rural farmers with a rigid, patriarchical tribal system and prior to immigrating, devoid of any education that would provide them with the tools to understand and work productively within western culture. And these people are not instinctively antipathetic towards their adopted countries, they just cheat on welfare and engage in schwarzarbeit to make ends meet. Gazans have been reared for generations now on the poisoned milk of jihad, anti-semitism, culture of martydom, and the virtue of armed struggle. Re-education could happen, but think of the cost. What can you expect from this people that would justify the cost? They ain”t Nazi rocket scientists.

  • K2K

    Mr. Mead: why do you qualify your belief by placing it in parenthese: “…(I also believe that Jewish refugees from the Arab world should be compensated at the same time and to the same measure; this would not only do justice, but it would create support for peace and concessions in Israeli politics.) …”

    The Arab League refuses full rights and citizenship to the Palestinians unto the third and fourth generation because the Arab League and other Islamic states like Indonesia and Pakistan, refuses the legitimacy of Israel as a nation-state for the Jewish diaspora, from Morocco to Ethiopia to Bukhara to India, and any other of the 190 nation-state members of the United Nations.

    Is that not the first hurdle to take down?

    My contribution to the problem-solving? Internationally sponsored population exchanges of persecuted Christians with the Palestinians, starting with Egyptian Copts to Gaza, and Gazans to Egypt. I imagine the Copts would be willing, but not the Egyptian government. A Coptic Gaza would be more like Singapore within 20 years.

    It might be better of the International Community first tackled Kurdish self-determination, delayed since 1919.

  • “It is up to Israel to make the Palestinians happy, says a large fraction of world opinion, and its obstinate failure to do so is a crime not only against the suffering Palestinians, but against all the rest of us whose comfortable slumbers are so often and rudely disturbed by this incessant and distressing conflict.”

    No. A large fraction of world opinion says Israel should end its occupation, not make the Palestinians happy. The occupation itself is a far worse crime than refusing to do anything about it. The last clause is too facetious to even bother with.

  • “The largest and most expansive concessions that the Israelis can make (return to the pre-1967 borders, a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem with Islamic holy places under Palestinian control, compensation and financial aid to refugees) will not meet the true minimum Palestinian conditions for an acceptable peace.”

    While these are indeed needed concessions, it can’t be an acceptable peace because it doesn’t mention the settlements – which are the major obstacle to a peace agreement. Even if the two governments can agree on one-to-one land swaps, no easy task, the settlers left on the Palestinian side and their many supporters, including in the Army, likely won’t accept it.

  • Roy

    The biggest unaddressed issue surrounding the Arab/Israeli conflict, so far as it concerns outside parties, is Arab hypocrisy. If you want to instill a sense of confidence in Israelis in the likelihood of a durable peace, persuade Arab states to come out of the closet and acknowledge their shared interests with Israel, including deposing Hamas and the current regime in Iran.

    By way of example, here is a report in Haaretz noting Abbas’s request that the blockade of Gaza be maintained in the near term:

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/abbas-to-obama-i-m-against-lifting-the-gaza-naval-blockade-1.295771?localLinksEnabled=false

    So Israel bears the brunt of international condemnation, while the leaders of Fatah enjoy the benefits of the tactical advantage that the Israeli blockade provides them.

    So much of the frustration felt by Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora is a function of bitterness over how events are reported in the media, and subsequently understood throughout the world.

    If the Arabs, and moderate Palestinians were willing to share public responsibility for the status quo in the Middle East, rather than deflect all criticism through populist denunciations of Israel that bely their own policies, then Israelis might be more apt to credit their claims of peaceful intentions.

    Has any country been more hypocritical regarding their professed interest in the welfare of the Palestinians than Jordan? Not likely. After King Hussein slaughtered them en masse, his son is stripping Jordanian citizens of Palestinian extraction of their citizenship. This is a Human Rights Watch paper describing the policy:

    http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/02/01/jordan-stop-withdrawing-nationality-palestinian-origin-citizens

  • John Barker

    I believe that Palestinian refugees would make productive citizens; those living here already have done well. People feared the Jews at one time and thought that they did not have the ability to compete in our country. Wrong, weren’t they?

  • nadine

    “If the international community is serious about solving this problem, as opposed to making moralistic statements and giving vent to its feelings of moral superiority, it has to come up with solutions to the problems that millions of Palestinians will face even after the creation of an independent Palestinian state covering about 22% of Mandatory Palestine. ”

    The international community is obviously not serious about solving this problem; they just want to beat up on the Jewish state. If they were remotely serious about the problem, they would have insisted that the Arab states do something to improve the lot of the Palestinian refugees inside their borders, so that more of them could get on with their lives.

    100 million people became refugees in the 20th century. The other 99.5 million were resettled or repatriated; only the Palestinians became 3rd and 4th generation “refugees” on a permanent UN dole with their own UN agency that promised never to resettle them. That was due to the insistence of the Arab states, whom you let off the hook far too lightly.

    The British tried to negotiate an exchange of populations in 1949; The Arab states expelled their own Jews yet refused to take in the Arab refugees from Palestine (who where not yet called “Palestinians” by anybody, including themselves). The Arab states wanted to keep the Palestinian refugee situation a festering sore forever, in service of destroying Israel. They got their wish.

  • K2K

    well said nadine!
    we do expect Mr. Mead to know this history.

  • PetraMB

    While I consider myself a hardcore WRM fan, I can’t really agree with the presentation of the Palestinian refugee problem here, and the suggested solutions are in my view likewise flawed.

    To start with, the argument that it’s a mess created by the “international community” is a point that could be made for many conflicts. When it comes to the Middle East, Israel is, after all, by no means the only country that was created by outside powers. In my view, WRM focuses much too little on the fact that until 1967, nobody in the Middle East really demanded the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel — the idea has always been that such a state should be instead of Israel. Indeed, only recently, I saw that the internationally well-known journalist Daoud Kuttab, himself a Palestinian, expressed indignation about the notion of a Jordanian and Egyptian “occupation” of Palestinian territories before 1967.
    Until the late 1980s, statehood, i.e. a state alongside Israel, was widely regarded as a betrayal of the Palestinian and Arab cause, and I have yet to see a poll where a clear majority of Palestinians supports any realistic 2 state solution.

    But many of the Palestinian refugees wouldn’t even be counted as refugees anywhere else: many moved just a few miles, like e.g. from Jaffa to the West Bank, or to Gaza — something like an hour’s drive away, and they continued to live in an environment where their language, religion(s), customs etc. were dominant. Moreover, Mandate documents also show that there was considerable immigration, attracted by Jewish development, from surrounding Arab areas — including from British-established Transjordan, which was off-limits to Jews.

    These are just a few reasons why it is indeed primarily the Arab states that should be responsible for the Palestinian refugees. It was after all undeniably them that, supposedly on behalf of the Palestinians, tried to prevent partition and the establishment of a Jewish state by starting a war — and anti-Jewish violence started immediately after the UN partition resolution in November 1947. Ever since, they have cynically refused to normalize the status of the Palestinian refugees in their countries, explicitly in order to keep them as pawns. Why should the “international community” reward this behavior, particularly given that the Arab world is huge and most definitely rich enough to absorb a few million Palestinians, many of whom already live among their Arab “brethren” for generations. The “international community” would of course be outraged if refugees anywhere else were treated like the Arab states have treated the Palestinians for generations.

    In my view, Israel’s biggest mistake ever was not to return Gaza to Egypt, and the West Bank to Jordan when the peace agreements with these 2 countries were negotiated. At least on the West Bank, some polls have shown that about one third of Palestinians would support being part of Jordan — though the Jordanians seem to be very reluctant to entertain this scenario (despite the fact that they have already a stunning Palestinian queen). I’m not sure why this solution should be dismissed; and perhaps Gaza could even join up at some later date.

    Finally, one word re. the talk about “dignity”: much of Palestinian identity is build around “resistance” to Zionism and the West, and this “resistance ethos” fires up the whole Middle East (and Turkey’s Islamists). If, as a consequence of organizing much of political life around “resistance”, things become somewhat undignified, there isn’t really much the “international community” can do about that. Money won’t solve the problem, which brings me to the idea of a Camp David plus: sure looks good on the screen, but don’t forget, if there was democracy in Egypt or Jordan, the peace treaties with Israel would have long been abrogated by popular demand. All the carrots the US has been doling out to these 2 countries as reward for their peace treaties with Israel haven’t made peace with the Jewish state a popular cause.

  • Luke Lea

    My main reservation is that where you speak of “the international community” you ought to say “the European community,” which is where the real onus lies. But that is something they must realize themselves, from within, not because some wise American tells them to (though as a southern white Protestant you might quietly speak to some Germans about the matter — I wish you would.)

    And from out of left field, I am having a vision of Gaza as Dubai, a Manhattan of skyscrapers, Beirut south, a Hong Kong of free trade — is this really out of the question?

  • ” even Palestinian leaders trying to negotiate a two state solution with Israel cannot abandon this central demand from their public speeches and sloganeering — although they have always known that the two state solution means that most Palestinians will never go ‘home’.”

    What is so strange about this? Isn’t it a common negotiating tactic? How can the right of return be a third rail when the leaders know actually returning to Israel is out of the question?

    I believe this knowledge, that the actual right of return is not possible, is very widespread among Palestinians, including by internal and external refugees. You’ve admitted as much elsewhere. Why do you keep coming back to the actual right of return as a hang up? The settlements are a bigger hang up by far. It’s not even close.

  • “Unfortunately, even on the West Bank it’s not about just the West Bank. That is, West Bankers feel that they are part of a larger whole”

    Do you have a scrap of evidence for this? Do you really think current West Bank residents – just the Palestinian ones, that is – feel responsible to help refugees resettle in a new Palestinian state? What about the government and power structures of the West Bank, are you saying they feel all warm and fuzzy about Gazans?

    Okay these are rhetorical. But this kind of unsupported blanket statement is just ludicrous.

  • “They have been fighting for more than sixty years to get out of the camps in Gaza and back ‘home’; they will not stop because Mahmoud Abbas and Binyamin Netanyahu sign a piece of paper on the White House lawn.”

    Thank you for advocating for the US and Israel to bring HAMAS into the negotiations. That is a very good idea.

    “Between the financial resources of the Palestinian diaspora and the much larger resources of the regional troublemakers who will see political advantage in supporting the Palestinian cause, violent resistance against the pro-peace Palestinians and against Israel will continue and perhaps even grow.”

    What in the world are you talking about? Here’s some non-rhetorical questions:
    Who are you talking about in the Palestinian diaspora?
    What “Palestinian cause” is Iran and others supporting? (i.e. how is HAMAS a “Palestinian cause”?)
    Who are the pro-peace Palestinians?
    Who is violently resisting against them?

  • “I still think that the Obama administration has a unique opportunity to advance the cause of peace in ways that allow it to be more pro-Palestinian without becoming less pro-Israel.”

    I’m not sure if you noticed this, but an American citizen was shot by the Israeli military in international waters while on a relief mission to help Palestinians. Even feigning outrage was considered less pro-Israel. Whatever the uniqueness of the opportunity, it ain’t happening.

    Let me butcher a quote from your last paragraph:

    “[I]f the United States decides to lead the world toward this kind of comprehensive approach to Palestinian suffering, … it would forc[e] the United States into politically unsustainable confrontations with [AIPAC]”

  • Seems to me that almost all of the comments here hew closer to reality than the original post. Which makes this an even more impressive blog.

  • alan guillaudeu

    I am always amazed how everyone has missed the main issue and that is security for Israel. Israel has to be able to trust the Arabs and the Palestinians. With Muslims killing Muslims and Muslims killing Jews and Christians, there can be no trust in Arabs or Palestinians. When Muslims decide it is wrong to kill the children of Allah – the God of Abraham and stand up for Allah and condemn the killing of all His children, then there can be peace throughout the Middle East. The heart of the matter is religion, and no government can change religion. The people have to change their religion. When churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples finally stand together and condemn the killing of His children, then there can be peace in the Middle East.

    And there is a totally different way to achieve peace in the Middle East in twelve months.

  • Pingback: The World and Mid East Peace « Menachem Mendel()

  • Jonathan Mathew

    The words “Hamas” and “rockets” do not appear in this article. That’s a bit of a problem for the value of reading this. The fighting will never end.

  • Izzie Irgun

    This article is well written but says nothing other than we have to be nice to the palestinians becasue they will not get everything they want in a setttlement with Israel. Big deal, who will.

    This type of reasoning places the blame, guilt and responsibility for creating and solving Palestinians problems on the world and is the type of foolish irresponsibility that the UN would support. A belief that the world can make things right by opening its boarders and letting the Palestinians in because 60 years ago their leaders made bad decisions. For the record, the right of Jews to Israel is so historically documented that the Palestinians claims to the land are specious. For many historians Palestinians as a people do not even exist.

    What this article should have suggested is that Arab leaders stop lying to their populations and get real about the pending settlement because it won’t include the right of return nor will it include the return of East Jerusalem, Jews will never cede control of the old city and the Wall. History has taught them that Arabs, with the worlds blessings, will keep them away from the holiest site in Judisim. That is never going to happen again.

    Obama, the UN and the Palestinians leaders should start telling reality to the Palestinians to prepare them for what is coming. As for Hamas, they will be fight to the death and the rest of the Palestinians can decide where they stand when that battle comes because it is. they can either support life and peace and go to war. However, if they choose war and lose again, they should foregt the west bank and gaza, that will become greater Israel.

  • Nat

    I have also read a lot on the conflict, and I must say that this is a very good article with ideas tht are new to me, in a world where it seems everything has already been done,

  • Dave123

    A great description of the issues, but not much with real solutions.

    Imagine Avignor Lierberman had his own mini state with an army more powerful than the IDF and was dedicated to the transfer of all Palestinians out of Gaza and the West Bank.

    That is what we have in Hamas. Figure out that puzzle.

  • paul almond

    When the key point of an article is either a lie or a deliberate clouding of reality, I can’t believe anything the author writes: “In the absence of international peacekeepers or any other guarantees for their security, both the Jewish and the Arabic communities of British Palestine had to act in self defense as each community best understood its interest. The resulting war led directly to the creation of the refugee problem”. No liar, the arabs attacked the new Israeli state – there is NO disagreement about that. If you can’t state that outright then your whole article is premised on untruth – you sir are a liar!

  • Mr. Mead, you’re closer to a solution than any other proposal I’ve seen so far. What yours lacks is the oomph that is needed to get many millions upon millions of minds unstuck. I’m sorry, but your idea is merely very reasonable and too complicated.What might do it is what the Hashemites sought after WWI: an
    “Arabistan” ranging from Beirut to Mecca
    and comprising most of the “Arabistan” that is Sunni–as well as populous and wealthy enlough ´to be self-supporting. Ánd, yes, it could only happen, if a dynastic house rivalling the Hashemites, that of the Saudis, went along –perhaps by letting
    them keep their oil, along with quasi-independence while also pledging them protection against an Iranian takeover. The present-day Hashemites have shown they can live with Israel and there’s likelihood that they could bring off a satisfactory deal with it.Anyway that’s the core of the idea that plays into an old Arab dream, an idea perhaps big enough to overcome the benumbing mental inertia that benights our today.

    Denis Fodor

  • Sharonsj

    You’re forgetting the major stumbling block: The Palestinians want ethnic cleansing. Despite calling Israel an apartheid state, it does have Christian and Muslim citizens. The “new” Palestinian state, wherever that is, is supposed to be free of Jews.

  • Rosinante

    Senile Dementia is a horrible thing to watch in action.
    The fact is that the Arabs living in Israel will accept no solution other then the death or removal of ALL Jews from the land. Naturally the Jews don’t see their existence as an item for negotiation.
    So the only peace possible is the peace of the grave. Mr. Mead, like EVERYONE else that refuses to accept this simple fact, is co-operating in another bout of genocide against the Jews.
    This time the Jews have nuclear weapons and will not go easily into the dark.

  • Paul in Colorado

    I’m reminded of Ronald Reagan’s response when he was asked how he planned to manage the Cold War. His answer was characteristically blunt: “Simple. We win, they lose.”

    The Arabs will never accept Jews living in their lands; even moderate Arabs want them all dead or gone, immediately. The Palestinians mean nothing to them and are easily expendable in the greater cause of the elimination of Israel. The Persians are so concerned for the plight of the Palestinians that they’re planning to drop a nuke on them as soon as possible.

    Israel will never have peace with its neighbors. It will remain a garrison state as long as it retains its will to live. When they lose that, they will be slaughtered.

  • Toady

    More money for the Palestinians?

    The Palestinians have received more aid per capita than any other people in the world.
    All this support in cash, goods, and services enables the terrorists and keeps the dysfunctional Palestinian state going in more ways than one. The UN and the rest of the world should stop propping the Palestinians up. If your income is guaranteed no matter what you do, then you can screw things up as much as you please.

    With all the money that has flowed there, every family could have sent a couple kids to college and built scores of nice suburban villas. Instead, it’s a welfare slum and breeding place for every kind of noxious pathology. Cut it off. If the Palestinians had put their enthusiasm for terrorism into building businesses and culture, they wouldn’t need jobs from the Israelis or perpetual welfare from the UN nor would they be interested in provoking the IDF into smashing up their way of life.

    The Palestinians are not poor for lack of money. They are poor because they prefer theft and corruption over development and responsible governance.

  • Eli Katz

    Walter Russell Mead writes, “In the absence of international peacekeepers or any other guarantees for their security, both the Jewish and the Arabic communities of British Palestine had to act in self defense as each community best understood its interest.”

    Interesting point, but do you know why there was an absence of peacekeepers? Because they hadn’t been invented yet. Peacekeeping units were first proposed and developed in 1956, in response to the Suez Crisis. The United Nations, established in 1945, was in its infancy as an institution in 1947, when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict exploded. It’s foolish to blame the UN for this mess. It did not have the capacity to act.

    If there is blame on international players, it is on the British. For decades, the Brits had been drawing and redrawing borders, and making and breaking land promises to different groups in the region. No sooner had the Belfour Declaration been made, in which the British promised a Jewish homeland in Palestine, did they reverse themselves on that promise.

    The British, playing ethnic group off ethnic group, were desperate to hold onto their wobbly empire. When that empire broke apart in the days after World War II, those ethnic groups suddenly found themselves in a chaotic, Hobbesian nightmare. And it is in that context that the Israelis established their state.

    The world thanks you, Britain.

  • Martin

    Interesting and somewhat compelling, but not comprehensive. There is not a single mention of the role that terror has played and continues to play in this conflict. How can this be?

    Others have also pointed out a basic flaw in the two state solutions discussed here and elsewhere: The Israeli state would have Jews and non-Jews in its citizenry, whereas the Palestinian state would be Judenrein (free of Jews). This is not a sustainable solution.

  • DBlake

    The article has a very simplistic point of view. The issue is much deeper than what people want to admit to. Unfortunately the only solution is the solution that no one is willing to discuss and that would be a one state solution. It is currently a one state, even though it is racist undemocratic on. The only solution for this dilemma is the same one that resolved the South Africa one. The solution can never be one that divides parts of Israel to create Palestinian burrows. It is no secret that Israel is a racist country that is attempting to cleanse the country and make it a Jewish state, and that’s what the fight is all about. So when the author suggests to entice Palestinian in Palestine to immigrate, I’m not sure if he is sincere or being cynical. This Solution would be welcomed by Israel, can you imagine if one Million Palestinians were give the opportunity to immigrate to other parts of the world. That would most certainly accommodate the Israel. The author lacks the understanding of how connected the people of Palestine are to the land.

    Would Visas, Jobs, and Money solve the Palestinian plight? Vote

    http://www.youpolls.com/default.asp

    .

  • Peter

    Israel itself manages to provide for 7 million citizens while lacking land and resources. It has done so through education and by applying superior technology across a variety of areas. A collective spirit has also helped a great deal, and throughout it’s short history Israel, on a relative basis, has absorbed, educated and put to work more new immigrants than all the immigrants the USA has ever absorbed in its far longer history.

    Palestinians instead choose to nurse their grievances and, like Mead focus on what is impossible rather than on how to make things possible through cooperative effort and sheer will. Waiting for the so called “international community” to do anything constructive is like waiting for Godot.

    What the international community should do if it really wants to help is tell the Palestinians to grow up and get serious about compromising to reach a real solution and to begin the process of explaining to their own people why it is both necessary and desirable.

  • Rick Gibson

    This essay is correct to emphasize the centrality of the Arab refugees to the Mid East conflict. The fundamental reason that peace is not possible is that the Arabs demand a right of return to the land. If, in fact, the Arabs did return to the land, that would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Thus, the two sides cannot agree on this.

    The essay, however, ignores a key factor. Everyone focuses on the Arab refugees, those Arabs who were displaced from what is now Israel. Virtually no one realizes that there were also a huge number of Jewish refugees. We all tend to think that the Jews of Israel came from Europe. Many of them did, but not all of them. Many Israelis came from the Arab nations of the Middle East, plus Iran. At the time that Israel was formed, and many Arabs fled from it, a wave of anti-Semitic feeling swept the Middle East. The Jews of nations such as Syria, Iraq and Iran faced intense persecution. By and large, they fled to Israel. Should they be regarded as interlopers in Israel? Should they have a “right of return” to the Islamic nations from which they came?

    Obviously, the Middle Eastern Jews should be left where they are. It would not be safe for them to return “home.” When focusing on the plight of the Arab refugees, we should remember that this conflict, like most similar conflicts, produced population movements in both directions. Arabs fled the Jewish state; Jews fled the Arab states.

    The obvious, moral solution is to divide the land between them. This essay argues that this cannot work, because the Arabs lack land, which the Jews have. That is a ludicrous argument. Look at the map. The Arabs have a vast amount of land; the Jews have very little land. No, the Arabs can’t move back to Tel Aviv. But guess what? Very few of them ever lived in Tel Aviv. Peace will come when the Arabs accept that no one is moving. The Arabs can keep what they have, but so can the Jews.

  • PW Virginia USA

    No one seems to mention that the vast majority of “Palestine” Arabs were immigrants to the mandate during the 1920’s-1930’s. They came for the jobs created by Jewish agriculture and British infrastructure development…They came from Egypt, Syria, Arabia and Lebanon…so why can they be called refugees? The UN stated that anyone living in Palestine between 1946-48 was to be considered a refugee…with the monetary benefits that came with that status no wonder the size of refugees continue to grow

  • Elon Baker

    Pointy-headed fools who are impressed with their own perception of their own intelligence are always discovering new ways to see moral equivalency where it does not exist, and then recommend new ways to surrender decent people to the followers of implacable evil.

  • DBlake

    Peter 12:17 – You’re ignorant. The US has provided Israel with Hundreds of Billion of Dollars of our Tax Dollars. Israel without us would not survive. We pay for all the immigrants that go to Israel.

  • Pingback: Walter Russell Mead - The World Must Do More For Middle East Peace | The Kansas Progress()

  • rich bind

    I did not see any mention of the “Jordan” solution. Jordan, together with the West Bank, can sustain the vast majority of Palestinians (they are already a majority within the population of Jordan)

  • Civil war is no myth

    Visas and Money? Are you insane? These criminals should rotten to death because their ideology is death. The West must eat or it will be eaten! Just watch their birthrates .. the Mohammedans will win because they have more children and are brutal criminals. I say let this cancer eat dirt!

  • Goodmongo

    I have a different solution to this problem. Ignore it. Stop sending money. Stop spending time and energy there. Just ignore it. In the near term there might be a little more chaos but eventually things will settle down. And if there happens to be a real big war with hundreds of thousands or millions of dead, well then that settles the problem of not enough land to support current populations.

  • fw

    DBlake, if Israel is a racist state, what are the 57 self-described Islamic States that belong to the Organization of the Islamic Conference? And what have they done for the Palestinians, with all their oil wealth? Nothing. The United States of America is the only country that really cares about the well-being of the Palestinians, insofar as it is prepared to pay money rather than lip service.

    This is from the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s own website:

    “About OIC

    The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has membership of 57 states spread over four continents. The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world and ensuring to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world. The Organization was established upon a decision of the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco on 12th Rajab 1389 Hijra (25 September 1969) as a result of criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.”

    Why is it that 57 states who sees themselves through the prism of ethnoreligious identity are acceptable, while one Jewish state is unacceptable?

    Aren’t you being racist yourself?

  • DCLawyer111

    You can’t be a Real Country unless you have a BEER and an airline – it helps if you have some kind of a football team or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a BEER. Sorry Palestinian’s…..You are not, and have never been, a real country.

  • dave

    Frankly, the best thing the so-called international community can do is to mind its own business once and for all. All of its interventions have only served to make things worse. End the UN’s involvement from UNWRA to the absurdly titled Human Rights Council. Let the West beware that this is at base a religiously driven conflict (i.e., Islamist) and Israel is just its appetizer. Europe is well on the way to being the next course (and its obsequious anti-Israel conduct simply reflects the intuitive recognition of this unfolding reality). Obama has no clue and the U.S. may not save itself in time.

  • Moti

    I must say, this is pragmatic; but not necessarily just. The British already cut off a large part of the eastern territory of the Mandate for a Palestinian state. It is called Jordan. But the Hussein family turned it into a personal feifdom, while the rest of the Arab world simply refused to welcome refugees from the ’48 war.

    If the Arabs won’t take care of ‘their own’; what makes you think the West will?

    And why is it that Israel, a poverty-stricken state in the 50s, could absorb all the refugees from Arab lands; but the Arabs couldn’t take in fellow Arabs? Isn’t that partly what happened with India and Pakistan? But the Arabs won’t have any part of shouldering the burden for real rehabilitation. What they want is a human weapon. They don’t want refugees resettled and assimilating somewhere into happy lives. They want them festering and angry and turning their resentment on the Jewish state.

  • There will never be a peaceful solution to this situation, because the Palestinians do not want one. All they wish for is the elimination of Israel, and the death of every Jew. The Hamas and PLO charters both demand the same.

    There will only be peace when one side or the other completely and utterly destroys the other. No brokered peace has ever been more than a sham meant to give one or both sides the opportunity to rearm and develop new strategic goals. The same holds true here. Palestine has no desire for peace while any Jew remains in the middle east, while any part of Israel exists.

    If Israel is to exist, to continue, to prosper, then Palestine and the Palestinians must be utterly and completely destroys. there is really no other option for Israel. It has done all it can in the interests of peace.

  • Whitehall

    Please don’t confuse a bribe with extortion.

    As to visas, what half-ordered nation would want them? It would be like Castro opening his jails so the inmates could be shipped to Florida.

  • TimW

    The problem in the Middle East is really quite simple to understand and that is the undeniable fact that if the Jews were to disarm, every man woman and child would be slaughtered within a year. If the Palestinians disarm, they would have a state within a year assuming they can get over their ridiculous “right of return” B.S.

    There can be no meaningful negotiations and resolution until the Arab world and the people who call themselves Palestinians agree to Isreals right to exsist in some form.

  • Patrick

    Until both sides want peace, sending “visas, jobs and money” is a waste. The last 60 years of International /UN funded programs for the PALs and foreign aid for the Israelis with nothing to show for it proves that.

  • Thomas

    Mr. Mead like other hardcore Leftist dreaming of the meek, obedient Jews who will walk into the Politically Correct Ovens just to satisfy the Marxist left Antisemitism.
    As an European born Jews who survived the Holocaust I want you to know, If we have to go down we will take you down along with your Magic [African-American — ed] Messiah.
    You rotten Israel hating Leftist deserved to be blown off with our nukes. Your boss the Saudi King will be obliterated and you can swim in radioactive oil.
    NEVER AGAIN [expression indicating strong disdain]!!!
    NEVER AGAIN! Am Israel Chai!.

  • markdenver

    Couple key points. One comment indicates the core problem is the settlements. This defies rational thought. The Palestinians have rejected successive opportunities to create a state on the West Bank and in Gaza, both before the settlements existed and in the last instance in 2000 when Clinton brokered an agreement to create a State on 97% of the West Bank and all of Gaza with a land swap to replace the 3 percent. The result of that offer was bus and restaurant bombings. And of course four years ago Israel removed its settlements from Gaza to test the idea it could withdraw and create a Palestinian State even without the Palestinians wanting it. We know this resulted in destruction of assets left behind to help build a Palestinian economy and hundreds of rockets shot into Israel. No rational person can think the settlements is the problem. The problem is Arab and Palestinian leaders won’t agree, as the author states, to any solution that does not allow all Palestinian “refugees” back into Israel, which would destroy the Jewish State and can never be agreed to.

    As to real solutions, given that the Palestinians appear unable to agree to an achievable peace, only two real options exist. One, go slow by developing the West Bank economy and building a civil structure while insisting on changes in Palestinian education and rhetoric to prepare their population for a real peace. Two, the only faster way to an agreement is for Egypt to take control of Gaza and Jordon to take control of the West Bank. Israel would need security guarantees and Egypt and Jordan seem unwilling to take on this task. This leaves us to wait for Palestinians to be ready for peace. If they were ready today, there would be no settlements anymore to worry about.

  • J. Ram Ray

    Dr. Mead’s analysis is accurate, thoughtful and on target. But the Palestenians happen to be just one of many disenfranchaised groups left homeless and resource poor. The circumstances may be a little different, but the issues are always the same. Today every indication is that the U.S. is already streached to its limits, and is facing serious chalenges of its own on the domestic front, and Western Europe, even more so. In my experience, the Palestenians I have met in Chicago, New York and Washington are bright, personable, street smart and resourceful – they need to take charge of their homeland!

  • thunder2020

    Ironically, it was the EUROPEAN mobs shouting, “Death to the Jews!” that gave Hertzl the impetus to dare dream of a Jewish state. Ah, the ironies of history!

  • dannykid

    UNRWA, the UN organization uniquely set up for Palestinian refugees, is not mentioned although it is predominantly responsible for their perpetuation, victimhood, misery and the huge problem they pose for the resolution of the conflict.

    Unlike the UNHCR, which deals with all the rest of the world’s refugees and requires that they be absorbed by their host country as quickly as possible and requires their descedents to automatically become citizens of that host country, the UNRWA perpetuates the Palestinian refugees by uniquely allowing their host countries to keep them in refugee camps and not absorb them and uniquely defines their descendents and their descendents in perpetuity as refugees.

    Between the end of WWII and 1950, the 150 million refugees from that conflict were absorbed by the nations of the world. 700,000 Arab Jews dispossessed and banished from the Arab world were successfully absorbed, mostly by Israel.

    600,000 Palestinian Arab refugees have become 5 million thanks to the UNRWA and the Arab world which refused to absorb them. But that is not mentioned. So Walther, do you think maybe it should be the 21 oil rich Arab nations, covering an area larger than the US, the Palestinians’ Arab brethren, should be the ones to absorb the problem they and the UNRWA created?

  • markdenver,

    The settlements are the core problem not of the conflict, but of the peace agreement. For instance, you said “If [Palestinians] were ready [for peace] today , there would be no settlements anymore to worry about.”

    What exactly do you mean by this:
    1) the border wouldn’t be the 1967 Green line, or
    2) that all of the settlers would return to Israel?

    If 1, where would the border be, and what Israeli land would be swapped?

    If 2, how are 350,000 West Bank and 210,000 East Jerusalem settlers going to be “returned” to Israel?

  • ben

    a few important issues left undressed:

    1.israel security
    what force can guarantee security to israel, if the UN will perform as it does in the lebanon to ‘enforce ” UN resolutions , israel is in for some serious problems.

    The local arab population is highly unlikely to endorse a foreign ‘non- muslim’ (the derogatory term ‘kafir’ is widely used in Iraq and afganistan towards US/UN personnel) force as a peacekeeper .

    The withdrawl from gaza in the sake of ‘peace’ has proved a very bad move for israel as it only suffers continous shelling from gaza on civilian towns ever since.
    if the UN/US is uncapable of dealing with gaza, how will it deal with the west bank ?

    why dont we start with ‘gaza first’?

    2.The conflict is not only israeli-palestinian, it is equally if not more Islamic-jewish or Islamic-everyone not islamic.
    This fact is conviniently left out because unfortunately there is no solution to address it.

    3.A historical remark:
    the state of israel is indeed a direct result of decisions taken by the international community, supposedly due to the millenium old slaughter and persecution of jews wordlwide.

    was that a bad decision ?

    thank you for listening

    ben

  • ben

    i am surprised to see that certain comments are censored on your blog

    ben

  • former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt agrees with me:

    “[Israel’s] settlements policy on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip makes a peaceful solution practically impossible.”

  • Can there be a trouble-free method to obtain updates for this blog without needing to visit every day?

  • Now the Name of Jesus is a concrete and powerful means of transforming men and women into their hidden, innermost utmost reality. -Bible

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.