Ross Mackenzie

Why is Israel so -- you know -- intransigent and mean?

About what?

It would be so easy if the Israelis just lived up to their commitment not to build on Palestinian land and gave the Palestinians their land back so the Palestinians could create a country of their own and get on with their lives.

You've got a lot of false premises flying around. One is that Palestine belongs to today's "Palestinians." Another is that the Israelis ever agreed to a blanket moratorium on settlements and construction in the West Bank -- lands the Palestinians claim as theirs. Yet another is that Israel is adamant in its opposition to creation of a Palestinian country.

I dunno. The Israelis are so obstreperous, so in your face, so my way or the highway. They just don't seem to get it.

Maybe they get it too well. Look. Since the 1948 creation of Israel --

On Palestinian land!

WHOA! Both Jews and Arabs had lived in Palestine for thousands of years. In 1948, Palestine was -- as it is now -- not a country but a region. Like New England, it is a region, not a sovereign entity with a government and laws. Israel was created under United Nations auspices following the Holocaust -- to give Jews the homeland they never had had.

It was the Palestinians' land, and they deserve it back so they can establish a country of their own -- with their own government and laws.

No sooner had Israel been declared a nation than neighboring Arab countries invaded -- and over the years invaded several more times. In every war they waged, in each with overwhelming numbers, they lost. Israel won, and in winning gained considerable territory beyond its original 1948 borders.

The Palestinians deserve a country of their own, too. Why don't the Jews just let them do that? Now they're not even agreeing not to build on Palestinian land.

A COUNTRY for the Palestinians would be fine -- if. If the new country of Palestinians would agree not to wage war against Israel. If the Palestinians simply would acknowledge that Israel exists. Most Palestinian and Arab maps don't show -- purposely will not show -- a geographic entity labeled "Israel."

That's ridiculous.

Absolutely it's ridiculous. The current Netanyahu government says it will agree to a limited moratorium on more building in land the Palestinians want back if the Palestinians will acknowledge Israel's existence. The Palestinians have said, as they have said repeatedly in the past, no deal.

It's difficult to comprehend how the Palestinians can presume to negotiate with a ghost -- an entity, the government of Israel, whose very reality it will not formally acknowledge.

BUT LIFE is so hard for the Palestinians! They have rights and entitlements like everyone else. They need their own country. They need jobs. They need liberation from Israeli oppression.

They can meet all those needs, have all those things, if they will get over their hatred of Jews. For the Palestinians, making demands of the Israelis for the return of lands lost to them in war has proved a zero-sum game. Why not try a more productive approach?

It's as though you were to wage war to take away my back yard, and the result of your war was not to win mine but to lose yours. And now you demand the return of your back yard (an area you wouldn't have lost if you hadn't waged and lost a war to take mine) from an enemy you hate so much you won't even admit its existence -- will barely utter its name.

Israel would be nothing without American support.

A prudent America does not diss its friends. Israel ranks among America's most steadfast friends in the world, and its best friend in the Middle East -- an outpost of civilization in an otherwise desolate wilderness. It's not for nothing polls show Americans -- everyday, in-the-street Americans -- overwhelmingly pro-Israel.

THE U.S. could solve practically everything by recognizing a Palestinian state unilaterally, on its own.

Why should the U.S. recognize a Palestinian state unilaterally when the Palestinians won't unilaterally (or certain Arab regimes multi-laterally) recognize Israel?

Israel needs to allow negotiations to work.

The Palestinians need to disabuse themselves of the notion that 'what's mine is mine and what's yours' is negotiable. They issue demands for their lost lands without offering anything in return.

They don't have anything to offer -- destitute of property as they are, and devoid of any land.

On the contrary, they have a great deal to offer -- recognition of Israel, acts of kindness, pledges of peace: no acts of terror, no rocket attacks, no bombings of innocents, no conspiring for war again to rub Israel out. Getting most of the West Bank back would require little more than that.

It's too much.

It's very little.

You refuse to understand.

Or maybe, as with the Israelis, understand too well.


Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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