(From Michael Bernet Ph.D., NY.)
Your article was original, thought provoking, and very well written. I especially liked your "swamp" metaphor. I copied out some sentences to cite or paraphrase in my current book, which deals with the psychological aspects underlying the conflicts in the Middle East and undermining the path to peace.
==I agree with most of your article, but some of it appears based on misinformation.
==For starters, Israel has been in favor of a two state resolution since November 29, 1947, when this was voted for at the UN. The neighboring Arab states--Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon thought they could do better and take over the whole country. It was a bloody war. The Arab neighbors were willing to battle to the last Palestinian Arab; the Jews were unwilling to be slaughtered. The Jews prevailed. Egypt grabbed the Gaza Strip, Transjordan grapped what it called "the West Bank" and renamed itself "the Hashemite Kingdom of [all of] Jordan." No one suggested creating an independent states for the Palestinians.
==Israelis offered genuine negotiations to establish peace. The Arabs responded with bukra fil mishmish. And with terrorism, inside Israel, and against Jews and Israelis anywhere. Every now and again Israelis responded forcefully to a particularly brutal attack. Didn't bring about peace, either.
==King Abdullah wanted to make peace with Israel; he was assassinated for his troubles in the precincts of el-Aksa after Friday prayers. Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel; he was assassinated for his troubles during a proud military review. In 1967, Gamal Abdel Nasser threatened to wipe out Israel in conjunction with Syria and with Jordan. He ordered the UN to get out of the way so he could attack unimpeded. The Israeli aairforce managed to hit his airfields an hour before he had planned to hit theirs. The Israelis won. The Palestinians rejoiced. Literally. Many begged to be incorporated into the Jewish state. I guess you weren't there at the time. I was. I was a journalist. I wrote a book.
==The Israelis offered to give back almost every square inch in return for peace and an end to threats and terror. The Arabs met in Khartoum and vowed never to accept Israel's existence, never to negotiate with Israel, never to make peace with Israel. The first "settlements" went up nearly a decade after the events of Khartoum, largely as a bargaining point, "the longer you refuse to make peace and stop killing, the less territory you're likely to get.
==Israel risked much when it negotiated what became the Oslo agreement in the early 1990s, but was fully resigned to co-existing with an independent and peaceful Palestinian neighbor-state. Immediately after the agreement was signed, Yasir Arafat appeared at a rally in South Africa and informed his supporters there that the treaty was a sham and that he intended to eventually destroy Israel.
==Again and again, Israel thinks it is close to a negotiated peace that is fair to both sides; again and again, one Arab politico or another will intervene to make that impossible, and at the same time, a bunch of lobotomized idiots will blow themselves up among a group of totally blameless Israeli civilians to make sure no peace can be made.
==There is no word in Hebrew for hegemony. Nothing similar exists in the thinking and vocabulary of most Israelis (excluding a small lunatic-fringe minority). For your information, two responsible polls of Palestinian public opinion held in the past two weeks, shown that the vast majority (close to 90+%) reject a two-state offer and reject peace with Israel. They are intoxicated by the victories of their various leaders and heroes and appear convinced that all of Israel is ripe to fall into their hands.
==I am happy for you that you put so much faith in "the statement by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails calling for a Palestinian state behind the 1967 borders." The purpose of the paper can be seen on your Monopoly gameboard. They're playing it as a "Get out of Jail" card. Many are properly convicted brutal killers. Many were prisoners in the past who were released by the Israelis only after they promised to renounce all acts of terrorism--and then were caught at it again. Do you think it would be wise to allow jailed sex-offenders and convicted wife-beaters in Australia to design Australia's foreign policy or to rewite its constitution?
==you say "Hamas will have to bow to this and engage in an unfolding peace process." You gonna make them? They've said repeatedly, adamantly, that they will not settle for a Jewish state in what is supposed to be the new Islamic Caliphate with its seat in Jerusalem. Go ahead, talk to them--and publish their response.
==Have you read my book, "The Time of the Burning Sun: Six Days of War, Twelve Weeks of Hope"? [see http://www.mem-ber.net/work3.htm] It is a highly current book, giving perspective to the events that led to Israel's occupation of the contended areas (West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights) in the war of 1967; a unique "I was there" recounting of those events, in the words of civilians and combatants on all sides. It movingly tells of the euphoria, among Jews and Arabs alike, the hopes for an equitable and lasting peace that then seemed readily attainable--until the hopes were dashed, twelve weeks later, by the Arab League. The book serves as a valuable tool when you find yourself caught up in arguments about Israel's "aggression," and alleged refusals to make peace. ==You can order my book directly at mBernet@aol.com at US$15.00 a copy. Postage in USA, 10-day delivery, $2.40 each; priority postage $4.50 for up to three copies to one address. Overseas: US$5.00 for priority postage one volume; $10.50 for two or three. Send the appropriate payment (from any credit card) through http://www.paypal.com/ together with your request, and names/addresses of recipients. Payment to mBernet@aol.com. You can read comments and look through the book at http://www.amazon.com/.
Michael Bernet, Ph.D.