Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Palestinian Peace Self-Determined, Not Outsiders

I have had the good fortune of spending time in Israel and most recently Lebanon, an Arab nation of mixed religions and agendas in a wealth of history. My mind reflects often on the Arabs living in Israel including the West Bank and Gaza.

The land has been ruled by many including Persians, Greeks (Hellenistic), Romans, Byzantium, Arabs, Christians (Crusades), Mamluk, Ottomans and British. In 1948, Israel was proclaimed a state by the nations of the world.
In 1948, Israel had to secure its sovereignty by fending off five invading armies while under an international arms embargo. It then had to absorb a million refugees from Arab countries and Holocaust survivors from Europe with no financial assistance from anyone other than US Jews. Israel developed into an open democracy. Gaza became one of the largest terror bases in the world.

Months after Israel handed over Gaza - and Northern Samaria - the Palestinians turned their backs on statehood altogether when they elected Hamas — an explicitly anti-nationalist, pan-Islamic movement that rejects Palestinians statehood — to lead them. Hamas's electoral victory, its subsequent ouster of Fatah forces from Gaza and its recent war with Israel tells us another fundamental truth about the sources of the repeated failure of the US's bid for Palestinian statehood. Quite simply, there is no real Palestinian constituency for it.
There is no doubt in my mind that the bulk of Arabs, regardless of country, despise Israelis. For the three generations alive today, Arabs with ties to Palestine have only experienced heartache, poverty and conflict.

I recently watched a documentary on Al Gazeera that detailed young Palestinian living in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon. They went on a trip to visit the ruins of their grandparents homes in Palestine. For their entire lives they have been told how they have been wronged...at the hand of Israelis -- the Jews that inhabit Palestine.

It is very difficult for an outsider to assume that a peace settlement between the Arabs living in Palestine and the traditional Jewish Israelis living in Palestine. The Israelis will not respond, nor should they, in kind to random missiles attacks, be they from Hamas in the south or Hezbollah in the north.

The only way peace can be achieved is if the bulk of the Arabs in and around Palestine accept Israel, forget it exists and get on with their lives. They need to focus on their people and their own success, not on living a vendetta.

It was clear while talking with a number of Lebanese, the population was sick and tired of years of civil war. That's no life for the average human. People are people: most want to have an opportunity to better their lives and the lives of their children, to work, to socialize, to travel, to love, to worship or not. The Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank have to be reaching a similar tipping point.

Every one in Gaza, Judea and Sameria would would improve their live 100 percent if they get on with living and not hating.

This pattern is demonstrated by Lamanites in the Book of Mormon. For centuries their lives were defined in part by a hatred of the Nephites. Thinking, erroneously, they had been wronged when the younger brother Nephi was given a leadership role over his two older brothers Laman and Lamuel.

Palestinians lives will continue to based on sorrow and wishes (not hope) until they focus inward. They must solve their own problems, not wait for the pity of the world.

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