Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Good Idea for the Middle East

Dear Readers,

Despite the sarcastic ending, How to end the blockade of Gaza by Stephen Walt brings up an interesting and plausible solution to the current crisis about the aid blockade put up by Israel against access to the Palestinian Territories.

Dr. Stephen Walt suggests that the US kills two birds with one stone--improve its reputation in the Middle East, ease suffering AND help the Israelis (okay, so that is three birds). The suggestion is that the US use the Navy to end the blockade by bringing aid...and therefore making sure that there are no weapons or possible threats in the aid ships (Israel has expressed concerned that weapons will be given to the Palestinians--which is their reason for having the blockade).

Nice quote:
"All it takes is an administration that is willing to take bold action to correct a situation that is both a humanitarian outrage and a simmering threat to regional peace."

I left out the sarcastic ending--but you're welcome to go see it yourself.


Thanks to iraqthemodel.blogspot.com for passing this article to me.


  1. What gets left out, once again, is the obvious solution of leaving the Egyptian border open. No, it's not nearly as economical or convenient as landing supplies by sea, but it's an option that has always been available and remains so.

    Too often in discussions of the Palestinian issue, the conversation is based on the false presumption that there are two players in this conflict, Israel and the Palestinians. I think it would be helpful to ask questions of the other nations involved. Why has Egypt kept the border with Gaza closed? Why have Syria and Lebanon left their Palestinian populations in refugee camps for decades? Why is majority-Palestinian Jordan, which once included the entire West Bank, not the Palestinian state, but a monarchy?

    If all of Palestine's neighbors were held accountable for the plight of the Israelis in a serious way, they might begin to work together on real solutions to the problems at hand. For example, Israel has a peaceful relationship with Jordan. If Jordan could find a way to legitimate its government as representing its Palestinian majority, it could potentially be given control over semi-autonomous West Bank territories. Israeli settlers might even be left in place within an expanded Jordan, guaranteed protection not by a PLO-based government but by a more trustworthy Jordanian government.

    These are all kind of wild ideas, but only because no one ever approaches the Palestinian issue as a regional issue. And as far as the blockade goes, it has always been a joint operation between Israel and Egypt, yet the blame falls squarely on Israel.

    And because this is such a hot-button issue, I'll note that I'm generally appalled by Israel's behavior toward the Palestinians -- this isn't about letting Israel off the hook for its cavalier attitude towards Palestinian casualties, but rather about holding to the same standard all those who've oppressed the Palestinians for generations. Palestinians deserve self-rule. So do Jordanians, Egyptians and Syrians.

  2. Walt brings up an interesting solution, but he doesn't go far enough. I really think that the only chance for peace is a neutral peace-keeping force (NATO?) in Gaza with boots on every corner and a massive influx of aid for economic development from the West. You have to have both. Israel doesn't have the cash, manpower, and industrial base to do it all by itself. The EU and US would have to cough up the resources.

    BTW, his comment at the end is lame... I'm so tired of this Israel Lobby boogeyman. The Forward (Jewish liberal newspaper) did a nice take-down of them a few years ago: http://www.forward.com/articles/11461/