In My Words: America must midwife an independent Palestine
Professor Tom Arcaro writes for regional newspapers about the need for the United States to take a leadership role in the creation of a Palestinian state, which he argues will promote regional stability and make America more secure.
The following column appeared recently in the (Burlington, N.C.) Times-News and the Gaston (N.C.) Gazette via the Elon University Writers Syndicate. Views are those of the author and not Elon University.
America must midwife an independent Palestine
By Tom Arcaro - email@example.com
Enough is enough. The United States in 1948 helped create one state. It is far past time for the most powerful democracy in the world to create another.
We hear ad naseum that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a difficult and complicated situation. Please, just stop with the dodge. To invoke journalist Edward R. Murrow, “Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.” History does, however, judge the actions people take when directed not by passion but rather by intelligence and sound logic.
At the same time, history also tells us that when two peoples are locked in battle, emotion always trumps reason and violence festers until one side is vanquished. Though the Egyptians recently have done tremendous work in brokering short-term ceasefires from the latest conflict in Gaza, the longer-term solution must respect this fact of human nature.
Both the Israelis and the Palestinians believe there can be no winner until the other is eliminated. For the Israelis, this means the continued expansion of settlements in Palestinian land until what remains is a virtual prison filled only with the compliant. For the Palestinians, if history is our guide, nothing short of an internationally recognized state, something the Israelis have enjoyed since 1948, will bring possible closure.
Rhetoric from Hamas calling for an end to Israel is emotionally driven by this existential threat. Once a Palestinian state is in place, such an extreme position will quickly lose purchase.
No one born and living in either of these locations knows anything other than war, struggle, fear and suspicion regarding the other. The cultural pallets of both Palestine and Israel are full of blood, which will not change from within.
The time has come for the United States to act.
America must convince Israel to accept not only a two-state solution but to allow the creation of an internationally controlled city-state of Jerusalem that is open to all. This is in our interest for many reasons, not the least of which is the so-called “Palestinian effect.”
Radical anti-Americanism among many jihadists is fueled by our seeming unconditional support of Israel, with the most disturbing news of late being that our government has simultaneously condemned and materially supported the Israeli military efforts in Gaza.
Not to be understated is the fact that with its 500 nuclear warheads Israel represents a menace to most Arab nations. To assume this doesn’t influence Middle Eastern attitudes about Israel is astoundingly stupid and distressingly common.
President Barack Obama and our elected leaders in Congress must abandon failed policies toward Palestine and Israel. The United States should instead work with the international community through the United Nations to create that Palestinian state.
“Israel will never agree,” some will argue, and they are right. Nor, of course, will some die-hards in Hamas. That is why the international community, led by the United States, must intervene using the “responsibility to protect” approach that the UN Security Council and the United States agree to in principle and one that has firm basis in international law.
This is not an easy or immediately popular solution but one that reflects, in the end, the best of our nature. To do so is not anti-Israel but rather pro-humanity. That some will ascribe an “anti-Israel” motive to UN and American involvement, without first reflecting on and de-emotionalizing their own assumptions, is sad if not unsurprising.
Such an approach, however, gives the United States an opportunity to act in a wise manner and in a way that future historians will cite as an example of democratic principles transcending our darker human tendencies.
Tom Arcaro is a professor of sociology at Elon University.
Elon University faculty with an interest in sharing their expertise with wider audiences are encouraged to contact Eric Townsend (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Office of University Communications should they like assistance with prospective newspaper op/ed submissions.