by Gary Berg-Cross
Having outrageously dispatched 2 global problems in prior posts on Climate Change and the Wealth Gap, we can try some simpler regional problem like Israel-Palestine (I-P). Well to be fair as a child there were 3 intractable disputes: South Africa, Ireland-Northern Ireland and Israel-Palestine. With difficult 2 of these have been handled and the tougher nut is left.
You might say that the Irish issue goes back pretty far and has called for outrageous, but modest proposals for solution. In 1729 Jonathan Swift anonymously & satirically published “A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick. It took a while to settle that one, and the I-P conflict goes back to an even earlier invasion.
Even Jon Stewart can’t solve this one, although he has some modest proposals, like fewer weapons sent to the area. Seems like an important ingredient but this has already gotten him criticized so we have to step delicately here too and note that the problem is dynamic and when something is tried such as things that worked in either South Africa (boycotts) or George Mitchell diplomacy (Ireland) there is blockage even if some negotiations start. Unfortunately I-P negotiations aren’t between the likes of MLK and Gandhi. It’s more like warlords. As with the wealth gap there are asymmetries to the situation. One side has the power and uses disproportional responses. So the other side uses unconventional means. Both seem to be criminal in their own way.
In I-P the key folks know how to bollix things up. There is, for example, Israel's sequence of reasons offered for attacking Gaza – see video report. So maybe sidelining them is a solution ingredient.
The usual approach of first diagnosing the problem of being responsible, as well as fact based and settling into hard negotiations over a long time. But you know understand the situation hasn’t been fruitful. The problem is as emotional as they come. Revenge seems an important ingredient.
At first blush, since the problem of land control disputes and conquest goes back thousands of years (per the previous upsetting animation on the history of conflict in this land) we might try some older techniques. I was thinking of the old royal hostage exchange.
“In medieval Europe hostages were given, not taken. They were a means of guarantee used to secure transactions ranging from treaties to wartime commitments to financial transactions. In principle, the force of the guarantee lay in the threat to the life of the hostage if the agreement were broken but, while violation of agreements was common, execution of hostages was a rarity. Medieval hostages are thus best understood not as simple pledges, but as a political institution characteristic of the medieval millennium, embedded in its changing historical contexts.” From Hostages in the Middle Ages Adam J. Kosto
The idea is that each side offer some of its elite children, who would grow up in the others land and help preserve the peace. We’d have to put Jewish children near the Gaza border, for example, so that their presence would stop the type of bombing and destruction we saw as IDF troops move in. Palestine would be raised in Israeli cities and towns and…
you know this isn't going to work.
There is not much risk to their being killed by small rockets or suicide bombs. The previously mentioned asymmetry of the situation doesn't make this outrageous approach feasible.
Back to the sketchy pad.
So again we need something simple and bottom line. Something like getting a bunch of the war crime responsible parties before the International Criminal Court ICC. Human Rights Watch for example is for this. This would give some space for moderates.
What to do next as past crimes are being prosecuted and each side hassome revenge going? Well the US has leverage with both sides. The Palestinians need us to negotiate as the indispensable country. Israel needs our vote at the UN and we provide $3 billion or so a year in support. Sure this is hard to use as leverage because in the US American Israel Public Affairs Committee takes Pols out who disagree with the conservative Israeli government policies. So if a Pol argues, as some have, that you only get progress when Israel is pressed, you find yourself running against a well-funded opponent.
How to get around that blockage? There is the simple idea again of using a moral argument. We’d have to reinforce it maybe with ur secular religion (see part 2 of outrageous solutions). It should help promote the idea around the world, and recall we already talked about UN and ICC backing. With this in place we argue that it’s just seems fair that from now on with the ICC going parties responsible for any new damage should pay for them. I mean financially sort of like implied by the “your break it, you bought it idea.” It’s bottom line stuff that everyone can understand. Jewish author and scholar Norman Finkelstein, touched on this briefly in an interview.
“It’s really a kind of weird conflict. I mean, there are so many weirdnesses aboutthis conflict. Israel blows everything up. Nobody even talks about Israel paying reparations. It’s just taken as a matter of fact that the international community rebuilds after Israel destroys. … We destroy, they pay. Nobody even discusses the possibility maybe Israel should pay reparations for its death and destruction in Gaza.”
Ok, so we have some American Jews buying in. But Palestinians have to pay for the damage they cause too, just as the relevant people have to go to the ICC for war crimes. Let’s say that we could agree on making the groups doing the damage responsible for them.
Now asymmetry works to dampen the damage. And throw in the idea that the US will allocate $$ from the 3 billion a year it ships over. So if we have a $5 billion or so conflict in Gaza with Israeli weapons that’s almost 2 years of the money Israel normally receives.
This is getting a bit complicated, but we need one more outrageous idea to make this work.
There will be lots of legal wrangling over this. Like Oslo this process would be gamed. So we need a good legal team with the right experience to manage this. It has to be better than what was done in Oslo. I think that we need a team of LA divorce lawyers to handle the negotiations. It’s probably the only group that has the experience and tenacity to handle the egos involved. Too bad that Donald Sterling won't be available.
One thing though. Can we afford these lawyers with just 3 billion or so to work with after damages?