A Modest Proposal for Middle East Peace

by Victor Davis Hanson , National Review Online

The U.N. need only take five simple steps.

There seems to be a growing renewed animus against Israel lately. Arun Gandhi, grandson of the purported humanist Mahatma Gandhi, thinks Israel and Jews in general are prone to, and singularly responsible for, most of the world’s violence. The Oxford Union is taking up the question of whether Israel even has a right to continue to exist. Our generation no longer speaks of a “Palestinian problem,” but rather of an “Israeli problem.” So perhaps it is time for a new global approach to deal with Israel and its occupation.

Perhaps we ought to broaden our multinational and multicultural horizons by transcending the old comprehensive settlements, roadmaps, and Quartet when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, a dispute which originated with the creation of Israel.

Why not simply hold an international conference on all of these issues — albeit in a far more global context, outside the Middle East?

The ensuing general accords and principles could be applied to Israel and the West Bank, where the number of people involved, the casualties incurred, and the number of refugees affected are far smaller and far more manageable.

Perhaps there could be five U.N. sessions: disputed capitals; the right of return for refugees; land under occupation; the creation of artificial post-World War II states; and the use of inordinate force against suspected Islamic terrorists.

In the first session, we should try to solve the status of Nicosia, which is currently divided into Greek and Turkish sectors by a U.N. Greek Line. Perhaps European Union investigators could adjudicate Turkish claims that the division originated from unwarranted threats to the Turkish Muslim population on Cyprus. Some sort of big power or U.N. roadmap then might be imposed on the two parties, in hopes that the Nicosia solution would work for Jerusalem as well.

In the second discussion, diplomats might find common ground about displaced populations, many from the post-war, late 1940s. Perhaps it would be best to start with the millions of Germans who were expelled from East Prussia in 1945, or Indians who were uprooted from ancestral homes in what is now Pakistan, or over half-a-million Jews that were ethnically cleansed from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria following the 1967 war. Where are these refugees now? Were they ever adequately compensated for lost property and damages? Can they be given promises of the right to return to their ancestral homes under protection of their host countries? The ensuring solutions might shed light on the Palestinian aspirations to return to land lost sixty years ago to Israel.

A third panel would take up the delicate issue of returning territory lost by defeat in war. Ten percent of historic Germany is now part of Poland. The Russians still occupy many of the Kurile Islands, and Greek Cyprus lost sizable territory in 1974 after the invasion by Turkey. The Western Sahara is still annexed by Morocco, while over 15 percent of disputed Azerbaijan has been controlled by Armenia since 1994. Additionally, all of independent Tibet has been under Chinese occupation since 1950-1. Surely if some general framework concerning these occupations could first be worked out comprehensively, the results might then be applied to the much smaller West Bank and Golan Heights.

In a fourth panel, the international conference should take up the thorny issue of recently artificially created states. Given the tension over Kashmir, was Pakistan a mistake — particularly the notion of a homeland for Indian Muslims? North Korea was only created after the stalemate of 1950-3; so should we debate whether this rogue nation still needs to exist, given its violent history and threats to world peace?

Fifth, and finally, is there a global propensity to use inordinate force against Muslim terrorists that results in indiscriminate collateral damage? The Russians during the second Chechnyan War of 1999-2000 reportedly sent tactical missiles into the very core of Grozny, and may have killed tens of thousands of civilians in their hunt for Chechnyan terrorists — explaining why the United Nations later called that city the most destroyed city on earth. Syria has never admitted to the complete destruction of Hama, once home to Muslim Brotherhood terrorists. The city suffered the fate of Carthage and was completely obliterated in 1982 by the al-Assad government, with over 30,000 missing or killed. Did the Indian government look the other way in 2002 when hundreds of Muslim civilians in Gujarat were killed in reprisal for Islamic violence against Hindus? The lessons learned in this final session might reassure a world still furious over the 52 Palestinians lost in Jenin.

In other words, after a half-century of failed attempts to solve the Middle East crisis in isolation, isn’t it time we look for guidance in a far more global fashion, and in contexts where more lives have been lost, more territory annexed, and more people made refugees in places as diverse as China, Russia, and the broader Middle East?

The solutions that these countries have worked out to deal with similar problems apparently have proven successful — at least if the inattention of the world, the apparent inaction of the United Nations, and the relative silence of European governments are any indication.

So let the international community begin its humanitarian work!

Greek Cypriots can advise Israel about concessions necessary to Muslims involving a divided Jerusalem. Russians and Syrians can advise the IDF on how to deal properly and humanely with Islamic terrorists. Poland, Russia, China, and Armenia might offer the proper blueprint for giving back land to the defeated that they once gained by force. A North Korea or Pakistan can offer Israel humanitarian lessons that might blunt criticisms that such a recently created country has no right to exist. Iraq and Egypt would lend insight about proper reparation and the rights of return, given its own successful solutions to the problems of their own fleeing Jewish communities.

But why limit the agenda to such a small array of issues? The world has much to teach Israel about humility and concessions, on issues ranging from how other countries in the past have dealt with missiles sent into their homeland, to cross-border incursions by bellicose neighbors.

No doubt, Middle East humanitarians such as Jimmy Carter, Arun Gandhi, and Tariq Ramadan could preside, drawing on and offering their collective past wisdom in solving such global problems to those of a lesser magnitude along the West Bank.

Victor Davis Hanson is the author of “Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power.”

September 9, 2008 | 7 Comments »

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  1. Pesky
    The problem with taking on the role of a pundit, is that your words will surely come back to haunt you.

    Nobody is perfect, certainly not me or Bush. I do not accept the view of the left that Bush was an idiot or the worst president ever or that he lied etc. Nor do I believe that he was without blemish. He should have named the enemy, Islam. He should have started America on the path to energy independency. And in many other things he fell short. But I still like him and consider him a friend of Israel. History will judge him better than the left does.

  2. Interesting news items this week:

    Egypt suspends gas deliveries to Israel

    amid parliamentary outcry, court case contesting the below-market price.
    Israel passed to Egypt El Arish gas field of Sinai in the Camp David deal, and now buys from Egypt the gas which God gave us in the Promised Land, which includes Sinai.
    Israeli trading firm, a partner of the Egyptian gas supplier, sells gas to Israeli power stations at market prices, received about 1,000% profit.

    Russia will load fuel in Bushehr reactor in December

    The announcement sets a natural deadline for Israel to attack Iran. After that time, an attack on Bushehr would cause considerable contamination, which Israel should not care about.
    Iran can stop the Bushehr plant to harvest weapons-grade material, and also reprocess the spent rods for the same end. Though Iran agreed to send the rods for reprocessing to Russia, nothing prevents the Muslim state from canceling the agreement.

    UN to review Israel’s human rights record

    The UN panel includes Azerbaijan and Nigeria.
    Honestly, they should start with us exterminating Amalek and squeezing Christian babies for matzah.

    OECD attacks Israeli math scores

    Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation ranked Israel the last in the quality of math education. Minister of leftist Education Yuli Tamir blamed the low scores on averaging the results from Arab and ultra-Orthodox schools. If Arabs score so bad, why do we bother teaching them?

    Egyptians kill two Africans

    trying to cross into Israel. It is unclear why Israel refuses employing similarly efficient tactics to guard her borders against the onslaught of illegal migrants.

  3. I think one should go back to square one. Israel is an artificially created country in a very hostile environment. It exists only because of massive subsidies from the US and client regimes in the West who wage wars at its behest. Also, its neighbors are presently disunited and/or preoccupied with self-preservation of rulers or other more pressing domestic needs. If Israel is to survive in the long term, it should make peace with the rightful owners of Palestine and their neighbours on their terms as otherwise it risks that they will one day wake up and come to the realise that they ought to deal with the theft of lands of their kin.

    As for the suggested ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab countries, I suggest you read John B. Quigley’s book ‘The case for Palestine’ where you will find chapter and verse about Zionist criminality against coreligionists to frighten them into departing from Arab countries and emigrate to Isrtael, the most horrific example of which is the setting off a series of bombs in Baghdad, including one at a synagogue, killing a number of Jews, etc… This book can be read at:

    To sum up, one should not rely on Zionist propaganda if one is serious in resolution of the Palestine conflict!

  4. Palestine, if it ever comes into existence, will be lobotomized. There is no way that America will allow another terrorist state to come into existence. When you realize the change in world affairs that Bush has undertaken, in the face of enormous pressure from the EU, all the Arab states, Russia, China, the State Department, the media, academia and big business, you see in stark relief, the greatness of George W. Bush. 9/11 changed everything.
    Posted by Ted Belman at October 12, 2004 08:02 AM

    Ted: Please tell me you were kidding when you wrote that? Please tell me, surely you were not serious? You were putting us on? Eh?

  5. Perhaps we ought to broaden our multinational and multicultural horizons by transcending the old comprehensive settlements, roadmaps, and Quartet when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, a dispute which originated with the creation of Israel.

    Why not simply hold an international conference on all of these issues — albeit in a far more global context, outside the Middle East?

    The ensuing general accords and principles could be applied to Israel and the West Bank

    I didn’t read the whole article. I gather that it’s not just a sarcastic joke.

    “Broadening multinational and multicultural horizons”

    It’s hard to believe this isn’t a joke, but I’ll take the author at his word. Israel is a country, with clearly-defined borders. It doesn’t have multinational and multicultural horizons. It’s a fully sovereign Jewish state with an Arab minority and some others. There are lots of countries in a similar situation: The US, Canada, Turkey, the UK, Belgium, Switzerland, India, dozens of African countries and others. Some of them are federal republics, where the majority and the largest minority get along reasonably well, and others don’t. Those that don’t, often suffer from insurgent movements, like Turkey. They all seem to have one thing in common, though: None of them has tried to “broaden their multinational and multicultural horizons”, much less invited world bodies to come and tell them how to run their country.

    I hope I’m wrong about this article: I hope it’s just a joke. Israel is a country, just like any other. If their enemies don’t recognize them, tough bananas. Their enemies tried duking it out with Israel, and they lost: They have nothing to say, about how Israel runs its internal affairs. The Russians are able to do that in Georgia, thanks to tank diplomacy. Israel did the same in Southern Lebanon. It’s the way EVERYONE does business in this world.

    As I said, I hope this article is just a big joke. Israel doesn’t neet to broaden its thinking or re-create itself. It needs to maintain and defend itself. It’s a small country, so it needs allies; and most of all, it needs unity among its own Jewish citizens (if they can ever figure out who’s a “Jew” and who’s an “Israeli”, etc.).