Cautionary tales

WaPo gives us this description of a village inside the Palestinian West Bank that has been cut off from its primary (and apparently only) source of business activity, Israeli Jews, by the over 400 mile long security wall being thrown up by Israel to separate itself from Palestinian Arabs who, prior to the wall, had been much more effective at blowing themselves and Israeli civilians up inside of Israel proper.
The description of the village of Mas-Ha (presumably no relation to Hamas) and the now severed Highway 505 read almost like some post-apocalyptic fiction… but they’re not. Israel, benefitting tremendously from globalization and integration with European trade and the rest of the world, keeps growing economically. The Palestinians, cut-off by a combination of sanctions against Hamas and Israeli policies, like the wall, grow ever more miserably economically (and presumably every other way). Palestinians used to serve as a very effective low-wage underclass within Israel proper; now, they are often being replaced by South and East Asians far less likely to blow themselves up in cafes and buses.
The thing is… the Palestinians just are not going anywhere. Indeed, some of the traditional places they might go (Jordan and Syria, for example) are now inundated with Iraqi refugees at the moment (part of that new Middle East our government has so efficiently been bringing about).
And there you have it. I have long believed that Israel’s settlement policy, and its insistence on politically expedient isolation and collective punishment of Palestinians, is utter insanity: the Palestinians are still there, and their hatred isn’t really abating. (We won’t mention the net cost to Israel of having to provide security and infrastructure to its settlements, let alone the human cost to those they displace.) Not addressing the problems (or putting it behind a wall, while not conducting broader negotiations for an ultiimate disposition, including final borders and disposition of Jerusalem) will not make these problems any better. While the “demographic bomb” may (or may not) be greatly exaggerated (it appears that the number of Palestinians in the occupied territories, and hence, their birth-rates, were greatly exaggerated by Palestinian authorities), there are still millions of Palestinian Arabs living under Israeli control… who don’t want to be. They can either be marshalled into a viable independent state, which will have to warmly, or at least coldly, co-exist with Israel… or they can be left where they are– a perennially festering problem that never goes away– no matter how high “the wall” is built, undermining Israel’s moral standing, and of course, its security.
Israel has been occupying these areas for 40 years, now, and its Arab neighbors haven’t been able to get along with it (except for cold peace with Jordan and Egypt) for nearly 60; I am not suggesting that there are any easy answers– which is why the continued putting off of dealing with this isn’t helping things (other than short-term political fortunes, of course). The British and Irish have been at each other’s throat in Northern Ireland for longer than that, and only in the last decade or so has reconciliation appeared even possible. We don’t even have to talk about other trouble-spots like the Basques in Spain, or the Chechens in Russia. And all but the last one involve first world countries.
Where was I going? Oh yes… Iraq… a country with none of the “advantages” of the other unresolved ethnic or ethnic/religious clashes mentioned… where we continue to have the arrogance to believe that we can come in with a glut of clusterbombs and mercenaries (and a surfeit of regular boots on the ground) and magically turn a slap-dash ethnic mish-mash that was held together only by brutal Arab irridentist strongmen into a peaceful pro-Western democracy. Or do we? Well, our elected dictators still say they believe it, and that’s really all that matters, is it not?
On to Iran!!!