Take us to your leader®. Then take us to your reader®.
How it works? [Click here]
Who we are
Our Agenda

Latest News
Good & Bad News

101 Palestinian History
Link & Resources
The Valley Galleria
nileMedia Reader

Join US
Contact Us

January 2, 2004
We can help build free nation in Mideast

By Stimson Bullitt


Friday, January 2, 2004

We can help build free nation in Mideast


Fellow Americans, let our country help build a free nation in the Middle East: a national government whose population possesses the duties and rights of the world's other free societies. That is: one person, one vote, equal treatment for tribe, sex, religion and race, a bill of rights resembling our own. Our U.S. Supreme Court overturned a state statute that denied blacks the vote, and Justice Black later declared for the court: "No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live."

The nation in mind here is not Iraq but "Israel/Palestine." Israel's government having incorporated and consolidated the several territories on which the Palestinians used to live into a single state, now needs to make it a free state -- one country, one government -- for all who inhabit that land.

Advancing human freedom, bringing peace to that land and reducing terrorism risk in our own would rescue Israel/Palestine from being an apartheid state, where a ruling minority dominates and subordinates the natives, angry captives, with barrier walls, lockdowns, pass cards, confiscations, all the apartheid tools.

A model for this new nation is the Union of South Africa. During Afrikaner domination, incessant state-sponsored violence led many to deplore the injustice and bloodshed, yet fear that ending apartheid would set off a massacre of whites. Well, the South Africans ended apartheid, and whites live on. Not long ago, Jim Crow Mississippi was an apartheid state, with blacks not voting and on occasion lynched. Now Mississippi citizens share the same voting booths, jury memberships, drinking fountains and schools.

How would this free nation be built? The parties' mutual distrust gives a two-state settlement no hope. Members of the two tribes occupy the aggregate Israel/Palestine land, mingled on a small-square checkerboard. The three years' retaliation cycle has killed more than 900 Israelis and 2,800 Palestinians, with many more wounded, and in each group lots of children. When Israel's government negotiator looks out the window, sees his settlers everywhere and knows it is hopeless to withdraw them, he digs in. His Palestinian counterpart, seeing the spreading settlements, concludes, "As we are squeezed into ever smaller spaces, perpetual negotiation for what end?"

Since the parties cannot stand in each other's shoes of understanding, this conflict can be resolved only if pressed from without. To encourage this constitutional change, Congress must act on our annual $3 billion subsidy to Israel's government by turning down the handle on the money faucet. Instead of costing us money, this nation building will save us and them -- and more than money.

Second, under U.S. leadership and initiative by our executive branch, international measures should be employed, such as mediation, security guards and sanctions. For a while, Mississippi needed foreign troops; South Africa did not. Palestinian resentments over past injuries and humiliations would remain, as would Israeli bitterness, but not enough to disturb the peace. As times change, so do attitudes. I remember, as a boy in the 1920s, hearing grownups remark, "After all, this is a white man's country."

If we fail to help this free nation build, we're in for trouble. We -- and Israel/Palestine citizens -- face a smaller task than building a free Iraq. Bigger than California, Iraq is 16 times the size of Israel/Palestine. In contrast to Iraq's chaotic and shattered institutions, Israel/Palestine's process begins with a competent bureaucracy, police and honest courts, all in place, the best in the Middle East.

If we do nothing, horrors grind on. Some think pounding and constricting Palestinians until they dwindle and sink into tame submission will secure Israelis. Yes, and maybe our national budget soon will be balanced. Killing and imprisoning Palestinians, confiscating their land, crushing their institutions, bulldozing their olive groves, orchards and homes, bombing their neighborhoods, have not crushed their sense of national identity. Palestinians will cleave to the remnants of their ancestral land as their savage animosity seethes.

More probable, Israel would go on abetting those who, in Ernst Pavel's phrase, "read the Bible as a real estate contract," for whom Scripture grants this land to Israel's government in perpetual entail. Expelled by direct force, denied their livelihood, starved into flight, "transferred" in Sharon's term, Palestinians would be scattered abroad, gone the way of the Tasmanians and Canaanites. Already disgraced for tolerating our client's apartheid, we Americans court eternal shame if we sponsor ethnic cleansing, while the clock ticks for those who would take revenge on Israel and on us.

Stimson Bullitt lives in Seattle. Submissions for Our Place in the World, of up to 600 words, can be e-mailed to editpage@seattlepi.com;
faxed to 206-448-8184
or mailed to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer,
P.O. Box 1909,
Seattle, WA 98111-1909.

Want to help spread quality independent journalism?
Donate to NileMedia and watch us grow.

Friend's Name: 
Friend's E-mail: 
Your Name: