Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Carnot Cycle of Violence

Thomas Friedman makes the case that there is not now, nor ever likely to be anyone to talk to in Palestine, so why not give the whole thing away to the Jordanians?

“If Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas does not get control over at least part of the West Bank soon, he will have no authority to sign any draft peace treaty with Israel. He will be totally discredited.

“But Israel cannot cede control over any part of the West Bank without being assured that someone credible is in charge. Rockets from Gaza land on the remote Israeli town of Sderot. Rockets from the West Bank could hit, and close, Israel’s international airport. That is an intolerable risk. Israel has got to start ceding control over at least part of the West Bank but in a way that doesn’t expose the Jewish state to closure of its airport.

“Radical pragmatism would say that the only way to balance the Palestinians’ need for sovereignty now with Israel’s need for a withdrawal now, but without creating a security vacuum, is to enlist a trusted third party—Jordan—to help the Palestinians control whatever West Bank land is ceded to them. Jordan does not want to rule the Palestinians, but it, too, has a vital interest in not seeing the West Bank fall under Hamas rule.

“Without a radically pragmatic new approach—one that gets Israel moving out of the West Bank, gets the Palestinian Authority real control and sovereignty, but one which also addresses the deep mistrust by bringing in Jordan as a Palestinian partner—any draft treaty will be dead on arrival.”

Friedman's argument makes perfect sense. It's logic is only marred by the fact that it misses the point. If Gaza were to become part of Egypt and the West Bank a part of Jordan, then the entire question of the "suffering of the Palestinian" people will be reduced to the mundane problems of providing schools, jobs, garbage collection, health service, etc. In short they will become problems of governance.

The whole strategic purpose of Palestine is to create a place where normal life has stopped but the Struggle is endless. Such a Palestine by definition is place where no one is responsible for anything. Not violence, nor hate nor love. While "Palestine" exists an entire evil political industry, with all its intellectual suppliers, apologists and flacks, can continue to prosper.

Palestine's whole point is to create a region of lawlessness from which Israel can be blamed and Israel can be attacked. From one point of view the chaos in Gaza and the disorder on the West Bank is a feature, not a bug.

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Blogger Teresita said...

But Israel cannot cede control over any part of the West Bank without being assured that someone credible is in charge.

Israel has already ceded control of 17% of the West Bank (Area A), with 55% of the Arab population to the Palestinians, and jointly controls another 24% of the land (Area B) with 41% of the Arab population. Excluding the Israeli settlements, the remaining land, seen as the white areas on this map of the fence, contains 59% of the land but only 4% of the Arab population, and it is completely controlled by Israel. However, the route of the fence is creating facts on the ground...when the final status is reached, all the white areas inside the fence will be controlled by Palestine.

6/04/2008 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger mercutio said...

Didn't Jordan say "not my problem" in 1968?

6/04/2008 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

Once again Friedman wishes for illogical solutions for logical problems. "Maybe if I'd only been there ........".

As if Jordan or Egypt would actually WANT some type of solution to someone else's problems.

Maybe the Canadians or Argentinians would care to adopt those characters. Makes just as much sense.

6/04/2008 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

When I was a kid I thought "Black September" was some grievance the Palestinians had against Israel. As I grew older I realized that it wasn't.

"September 1970 is known as the Black September in Arab history and sometimes is referred to as the "era of regrettable events." It was a month when Hashemite King Hussein of Jordan moved to squash an attempt by Palestinian organizations to overthrow his monarchy. The violence resulted in the killing of 7,000 to 8,000 from both sides.[1] Armed conflict lasted until July 1971 with the expulsion of the PLO and thousands of Palestinians to Lebanon."

And the reason I must have thought that was because the Black September organization, an organization dedicated to revenging itself for its expulsion, decided to kidnap and murder eleven Israeli athletes and officials at the 1972 Olympic Games. It was then that I began to realize that politics in the Middle East was like a Three Stooges comic routine. Whatever happens, whoever's fault it is, bop Curley Joe on the head, with Israel in the role of Curley Joe.

6/04/2008 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

In 1967-68 when I was a freshman at a certain college in New Haven, I was one of the many scholarship students who toiled evenings in the dining halls, filling little monkey bowls with green beans and stewed tomatoes, then busing the trays and dirty dishes from the tables and helping wash'em.

This gave me a very close up view of the older students, which at times was deeply disturbing. One story I can relate from that period is seeing one kid from The City (I never did get which borough he called home) who was Jewish (occasionally even wore a yarmulka) but always --- and I mean ALWAYS --- had an "Al Fatah" button on his lapel.

I never asked him why he wore the button. It was just too freaky for me to deal with.

6/04/2008 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Friedman says the business-as-usual course that Israelis and Palestinians are on right now does not have enough energy or authority to produce a solution.

and this point is clearly valid.

Whether Jordan can be part of the solution is hard to say. Jordan may well be interested in regaining part of the West Bank. However they can't say this out loud because it means the end of the Pal dream, it's contrary to the two-state soln etc. The rest of the Arabs would hate them for it, not to mention Hamas and Iran.

Having said that, Friedman's point is that something needs to change, there must be a change of direction. Perhaps when Israel attacks Hamas in Gaza this will be the required change.

6/04/2008 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Levy said...

Jordan has a Bedouin King ruling over a population which has a huge Palestinian minority. The last thing he could want is to be responsible for representing the Palestinian cause vis-a-vis Israel, because it will either drag him into war, or destabilize the country (a la Black September).

This is why King Hussein renounced all claims to the west bank during the first Intifada. Now that the stone-throwers and strikers have graduated into kassam-launchers and suicide bombers, what interest could he have to stick his hand back in the fire? Better for him to let Israel deal with the mess.

6/04/2008 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger Salt Lick said...

Sorry, but I can't rely on anything written by Tom Friedman. He has a prissy habit of offering solutions, then walking away from the hard work, and later criticizing those who actually rolled up their sleeves (as Dweet wrote -- "Maybe if I'd only been there ..."). He's an opportunistic Pulitzer Prize collector, not a serious thinker.

6/05/2008 04:49:00 AM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

The Palestinian leaders believe they have nothing to gain short- to mid-term through negotiations, as Israel has made clear it has no intention of giving back the West Bank. Of course they have much to gain long-term, but who can make them desire long-term gains more than they fear short-term losses?

Israel's leaders believe they have nothing to gain from negotiations because they are able to maintain the status quo in the short- and mid-term at a small military cost fully subsidized by an extremely devoted, compliant U.S.

The goal, then, should be to provide the Palestinians with something to lose and Israel with something to gain.

Nothing would damage the ability of extremist Muslims to recruit moderates more than a peaceful end to the occupation of the West Bank.

6/05/2008 05:49:00 AM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

I can't imagine why the Jordanians would want to be involved in the West Bank again. All this will do is contribute to disaffecting and radicalizing Jordan's own troops and police. I'd imagine that Jordan wants to stay as far from the West Bank tar baby as it can.

6/05/2008 07:54:00 AM  

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