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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Golda's Balcony and the Middle East "Peace Process"

In the play, Golda's Balcony, starring Valerie Harper, Harper plays former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. The play tracks the former Prime Minister's life as told in a monologue by Harper. The play ends with Meir making this rhetorical point. Asking herself when there would be peace in the Middle East, she responds

When the other side learns to love their own children more than they hate us

While the play is obviously told from a perspective that is sympathetic to Israel, there is a great deal of truth in this last thought. The so called peace process, now back in the news because of word that reports that Barack Obama will suggest that borders be moved to their pre 1967 geography in exchange for "peace", has always been to me a bit of a misnomer.

That's because the peace process has never been about some sort of disagreement over land, territory, or any dispute in which there can be some kind of compromise. There has always been this naive notion that if only each side got enough of what they wanted that one day we would achieve peace.

There are many so called intelligent pundits that proclaim that Israel knows that they must give up this and that in order to achieve peace. This misses the crucial point of the "peace process". The enemies of Israel don't want peace. Rather, they want the total and complete destruction of the country. They want the entire Jewish race erased from existence entirely.

The only times when Israel has achieved peace with any of its neighbors, Egypt and Jordan, then, in effect, the words of Golda Meir had come true. Both Egypt and Jordan had lost so much trying to destroy Israel that their will had been broken. The only way for there to be peace between Israel and its enemies is for the will of its enemies to first be broken.

Knowing this, it shows a foolish naivete to say that borders must go back to the pre 1967 levels or any level in order to achieve peace. Bill Clinton learned this lesson all too well when he attempted to give Yasser Arafat 95% of what he wanted only to have Arafat reject the "peace" proposal and start a new Intifada. For the leadership in places like Syria, Palestine, and Iran, this has never been about land or some sort of settlement for peaceful coexistence. Ultimately, there will only be peace when the last words in Golda's Balcony become a reality.

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