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September 24th, 2017

Insight

Not the foggiest ...

Paul Greenberg

By Paul Greenberg

Published April 9, 2015

    Not the foggiest ...

Our ever innocent president seems to have decided that he and friends are going to straighten out the whole Arab-Israeli impasse in a couple of years. That's how long he, his secretary of state, France's latest president and the usual masterminds at the United Nations should need to divide the already much divided Holy Land into two states, one Arab and one Jewish, living side by side in peace and amity forever afterward. Yes, once the UN's Security Council passes a resolution outlining the borders of the two states, that should do the trick.

Sound familiar? It should. Because that's just what the UN set out to do in 1947 -- only then it was dubbed Partition and now it's called the two-state solution. We can all see how well that worked out.

That same "solution" has been proposed time and again over the course of this century and the last. Its history goes back at least to 1937, when it was the recommendation of the Peel Commission appointed by the British -- but each time the various Arab states and kingdoms, not to mention militias and other irregulars, refused to have anything to do with it.

No, the Jews weren't happy with splitting the disputed land, either, for it had already been divided again and again by then. Lest we forget, there was a time when Jordan was part of the territory vaguely set aside by the old League of Nations for a Jewish national home, too, but then it was set up as a separate Arab state in 1922 and dubbed Trans-Jordan at the time.

As with the recommendation of the Peel Commission, the Jews grudgingly accepted another division of the Land of Israel as the cost of getting their independent state at last. But the Arabs rejected any such compromise. They refused to settle for half a loaf, or even five-sixths, but insisted on all.

The challenge of finding a fair solution to this not just old but ancient conflict has been around not just for years or centuries but millennia. It has stymied some of the greatest empire-builders of the past. Including the Romans, the Ottoman Turks, the British ... but none have been able to make this one stubborn little people from complicating their best-laid plans.

Whether called Israelites or Judeans at the time, they refused to disappear from history's stage and empire's sway. It's just about enough to convince one that there is some kind of divine imperative at work here, unacceptable as such a theory is in this secular age.

It takes remarkable naivete, not to say hubris, to think it will take only a couple of years to have the United Nations decree a solution and that'll be that. If this administration really believes this problem is that simple, it doesn't understand the problem.

The Middle East has long been a part of the world that produces more history than it can safely consume, and it still is. To propose a quick fix like this one, and in a fit of pique at those stubborn Israelis, only further emphasizes this president's naivete.

The essential problem with glib "solutions" like the latest one out of this administration may be that the Arab aim in this "peace process" has never been to create still another Arab state in the Middle East, but to destroy the Jewish one.

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Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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