On the ground in Jerusalem, one can see how much syndicated columnist Thomas Friedman overlooks. Friedman, the premier media commentator in the U.S. on foreign affairs, would have us believe that—as a liberal Jewish thinker—he doesn’t think Israel should hold on to occupied lands, and he will indeed say that settlements in occupied lands are a bad thing.
Before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plunges even further into its cycle of violence, we should pause to examine one day in July when peace almost broke out. After weeks of intense discussions, diplomats from the European Union and the U.S.
I am probably not alone in deploring both the suicide bombings carried out by young Palestinians against pathetically vulnerable Israeli civilians and the now predictable military attacks by Israel carried out against pathetically vulnerable Palestinian civilians.
Tucked away in an account of the Jewish resistance to Antiochus Epiphanes is the story of a hero’s sacrifice. The Book of 1 Maccabees describes the prebattle scene. Jewish forces are encamped at Bethzechariah with the enemy directly opposite them, fully armed and ready to fight.
A popular Middle Eastern joke insists President Bush’s recent speech on a Palestinian state was delayed for a few days, waiting for a translation from the original Hebrew. The joke reflects Arabic anger that U.S. policy is driven by what the current Israeli leadership thinks is good for Israel.
On the long climb to Jerusalem I notice two kinds of trucks. One kind is carrying huge battle tanks still muddy from combat in the West Bank. The other is carrying tents sent from America for Palestinians who have lost their homes in the fighting.
Long before George W. Bush began calling for reform of the Palestinian National Authority (and for Yasir Arafat’s ouster), a group of Palestinian lawmakers and researchers had outlined plans for creating a democratic society.
A senior Israeli official, listening to President Bush’s June 24 speech outlining U.S. policy on the Middle East, kept waiting to hear what pressure the U.S. was going to apply to Israel. He never heard it mentioned. “I thought all the way through the speech: this is the carrot, now comes the stick,” said the official. But “there was no stick.”
Water will determine the future of the Occupied Territories, and by extension, the issue of conflict or peace in the region.” Thomas Naff made this remark several years ago, and water remains a key, if often unacknowledged, issue behind the strife in the Middle East.