Friday, May 31, 2002
The Sadat solution
After World War II, I was in law school on the GI Bill, concentrating on my career aspirations and on the Boston Red Sox, who lost the World Series when Enos Slaughter scored the winning run for St. Louis with a daring dash from first. I despaired that the Red Sox would never win the World Series.
Of course, I also despaired about my people, the Holocaust survivors, but I never entertained the thought that the United Nations would partition Palestine, and that the British would leave. I had rejected the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine as an impractical, if not an impossible, solution to the "Jewish Problem." How could a few hundred thousand Jews survive amid millions of hostile, well-armed, and British-army-trained Arabs? I was certain that we were about to witness a "last stand," but the impossible happened, and I was very proud of my people. I was proud to be a Jew.
After the 1948 Israeli victory, an Arab leader said that the Arabs could lose many battles, but to win the war, the Arabs need to win only one, the last one. He said that the Arabs were patient and could wait. During the 54 years that Israel has been a state, Israel has had to win many battles. I am confident that Israel will win the battle that is raging now. But if there is no peace, there will be more and more battles, and still the Arabs have to win only the last one. This time the Arabs have new weapons, boys and girls with bombs strapped to their bodies.
Is peace possible? I'm sure that Palestinian mothers want peace. Most reasonable Palestinians want peace. But if I were a young Palestinian, would I want peace? No. I would want to be liberated from 54 years of humiliation. I would fight.
When the parents and grandparents of these young Palestinians fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria during the 1948 war, they expected a quick Arab victory, and their immediate return after the Jews were driven into the sea by the victorious Arab armies. But that didn't happen. Instead, the Arab armies were humiliated and the refugees were pent up in camps of countries that refused to absorb them. Generations of Palestinians have been living in anger.
The Jews were not responsible for the events that caused Arab humiliation. It was the Arabs who refused to abide by the UN partition, and who started the 1948 war. It was the Arabs who massed their armies in 1967. It was the Arabs who attacked on Yom Kippur in 1973. It has been the Arab terrorists who caused Israel to launch the ill-conceived invasion of Lebanon. It has been the suicide bombers who caused the Israeli recent and ongoing incursions.
The Israelis are not without fault. The settlements do not bring security. They add to the humiliation. They add to Palestinian rage. An independent Palestinian state should have been offered before there were massive settlements on the West Bank.
As a Jew, I despair when I read the Hamas Charter that teaches the religious obligation to kill all infidels, but especially Jewish infidels. On the other hand, if I were a young Palestinian, I would join Hamas. If I were a Palestinian youth, I would not negotiate peace with the infidels. I would fight. Perhaps I would strap a bomb to my body.
What then is the solution? I suppose the Israelis could find a new homeland. Though not likely, that would probably satisfy the Palestinians. Or the Israelis could continue to fight until the Arabs win the last battle. Or, more likely, worldwide terrorism will result in a broader war with the modern world fighting the Muslim world. In any case, the outlook for the Israelis is grim.
Is there a solution? I fear not. However I suggest that the Israelis try the Sadat solution. The Egyptian air force and army were routed by the Israelis. Their air force was destroyed; the Israelis had taken the Suez Canal; the Egyptian army was surrounded and threatened with annihilation. The Egyptian people were humiliated, but in peace negotiations, Sadat restored honor, and eliminated the humiliation by simply claiming victory. My suggestion is for Sharon to declare a Palestinian victory, and agree to negotiate the return of the occupied lands, including most of the settlements. There are many proposals on the table that are probably acceptable to the reasonable people on both sides. A negotiated settlement is better than a "last battle."
I am not a pessimist. I even have hopes the Red Sox will win the World Series; maybe this is the year. My hopes for a negotiated peace are diminishing, but maybe if the Palestinians regain honor, maybe if they are no longer humiliated, just maybe a meaningful path to peace can be found for the Palestinians and Israelis.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito