During the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam’s regime used to take some of the captured Iranian soldiers to the radio and have them give “interviews”, broadcast in Farsi. It was a disgraceful sham, but created some unintended moments of “comic relief”. One instance, a Basiji “volunteer” gave an interview on how he was being “well treated” by the Iraqi brethren etc, when the interviewer asked if he had any messages for the folks back home. The simple-minded hajji thought for a second and then said: “To our neighborhood mosque’s imam, who was so insistent for us to volunteer: Happy Now?”
Now after 20 days of bloodshed in Gaza and South Israel, the same question can be applied and extended to another endless Middle Eastern war. Is Hamas happy now? Were the Jews and Palestinians happy before? Are they going to be happy ever? The following points have appeared in my blogs before the recent Gaza battles, but may merit your time for a second (or first) view.
Currently, Israel wants to protect its citizens from Hamas attacks in the South, the Hezbollah attacks to the North and the PLO attacks from the East. To that end, the Israeli army is prepared to sabotage, assail and demolish its enemies; not with sporadic rocket attacks, but with overwhelming force, in order to dissuade and disable the other side’s will and means to harm. However, year-after-year, the Palestinian resistance has grown from demonstrations, to stone throwing, to petrol bombs, to suicide bombers, and now mortar and rockets. Why you ask? Well, maybe, because people don’t like to be kicked out of their lands and shoved into waterless, foodless, futureless refugee camps and ghettos!
The creation of Israel has been a negative side effect of WWII. Right at the end of the colonial era, when the strong tide of 3rd world nationalism and independence had started; a new nation was forcefully forged in the Middle East, which has been at war with its neighbors since inception! That animosity has since turned into a septic wound. The humiliating defeats of Arab nations progressively radicalized them into leftist nationalists (Egypt, Syria), militaristic regimes (Iraq, Libya) and Islamist strongholds (Iran, Lebanon). Neither the state of Israel, nor Palestinians are going to disappear any time soon. Hence their relentless struggle for land and growth will continue to create turmoil, fighting and hatred in the Middle East. As long as both sides are fully entrenched in their antagonistic positions, without the ability to see and feel the pains of the other side, this major blunder of colonial era is bound to besiege us.
The two-state solution which is being slowly and painfully implemented is the only viable solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict, but not much of a solution either. Integration of the occupied territories (OT) Palestinians into Israel is impossible. Holding on to those territories and maintaining the Palestinians in a state of apartheid is a failed policy. Therefore, for Israel to survive as an Open Society, it has to sever its ties to the OT. However, neither Egypt nor Jordan is willing to take over the most challenging task of governing the OT, therefore, the only viable remaining solution is an independent Palestinian state (IPS).
Unfortunately, the formation of IPS has been and will be mired by unreasonable demands, paranoid suspicions and militaristic fundamentalism, from both the Arab and the Israeli side. The Jewish population will try to keep the best parts of OT and draw a wall around the scarce resources and water available. The Palestinians will keep demanding right-of-return to their ancestral lands and confiscated properties. The two sides will clash for years and years to come, until a bloody border is established, most probably on a de facto basis. Consequently, the new IPS which will be starved of most of the choice land and water resources will remain poor, bitter and militant.
The Palestinians, when faced with the dire outcome of making a meager living out of the arid lands, will blame their secular and moderate leaders for cutting a 'humiliating' deal with the devil. The Islamist fervor will continue to grow, with the promise of getting revenge for the atrocities past and conspiracies present. The radicalized IPS will maintain a hostile posture against Israel, will harbor terrorist groups and will facilitate raids on what they believe is the rest of the occupied territories. Sadly, there is still enough fuel to get this unholy fire going for another 60 years, while denying happiness to all involved!
Equally tragic is the sick role that IRI is playing in this macabre dance. True to their death-loving (Shahadat Talab) form, the Tehran government is supplying cash and weapons to the most fanatic Palestinian factions. The IRI actions follow two fundamental motives: religious belief in the never ending war of Islam with Infidels, as well as the pragmatist view of using foreign wars to rule over a disgruntled populace. With the imminent defeat of Hamas, falling oil prices and an election year ahead; it is unclear if the IRI stooges can reap any benefit from other people’s misery.
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