There ain't much that is new under the sun. Israelis, Diaspora Jews and others who are concerned with us should have ceased hoping years ago for the kind of peace that prevails between the US and Canada, or among the countries of Western Europe.
Something like the US border with Mexico might be attainable. That is, a fenced or patrolled border; lines on the outside of people wanting to pass inspection in order to enter; conditions on the other side significantly less than desirable; and the economy on the good side profiting from joint ventures and low cost labor.
Even that might not be possible, given the dominance of Islam throughout the Middle East.
Forbidden to talk about Islam?
Put your head in another sand bucket.
Or better, look at what's happening among our neighbors, and listen to the clips that show Palestinian school teachers, youth camp leaders, and politicians condemning Israel and Jews.
Americans do reasonably well alongside Mexico, and Israel generally does as well alongside its neighbors.
Leaving aside the dreams about what we should have, the reality--at least before John Kerry began the latest crusade--is that Israel and Palestine achieved something like what separates the US and Mexico.
It may be as close to peace as we are likely to get.
Americans can weigh the damage to friends, family, and others due to the drugs that come from Mexico, against all those unpleasant jobs at low wages done by illegal immigrants, and the factories over the border producing things for American concerns at low wages..
Israelis can do a parallel accounting, viewing incidents of violence against the work done in Israel by Palestinian laborers.
Israeli factories in the West Bank, provide work for Palestinians, like the American factories south of the border. Europeans and Americans who boycott the products of those factories threaten the livelihood of Palestinian workers.
The story about efforts to solve the issues of Palestine and Israel should be well known.
The answer also. It is not to rely on poorly informed and heady ideologues, whether Jews, Americans, or others, tireless in saying how to solve problems that have been shown to be insoluble.
We've done well by coping, and if we keep our heads and our decent politics, we can continue.
We cannot solve our problems with military power, or with an ideal political agreement.
We can continue with accommodations where possible, an imbalance of military power in our favor, used when necessary, carefully honed to fit circumstances, with decisions taken after discussion and argument, largely among ourselves.
Palestinians as well as Israelis can do better without outsiders pushing to do what neither leadership can accept. With all the problems that reach the headlines and cause suffering, Individual Palestinians and Israelis work together. Officials of both communities cooperate on technical matters and security. Civilians enjoy personal rapport and even friendships. Many of both communities realize that their political leaders cannot declare what would be ideal about borders, refugees, the content of Palestinian schooling, or other sensitive matters.
We do better without the frustrations awakened when prominent figures try with the well known panaceas, once again, and do not succeed in overcoming highly emotional political constraints weighing on both populations, that come along with mistrust associated with each community's narrative of history.
Think of coping with the status quo as the latest lesson of Jewish history.
There are those among us who think a bit more effort will find the keys. Tsipi Livni is trying, and Yair Lapid is ridiculing his governmental colleagues for working against what he thinks is possible. Avigdor Lieberman may be serious about trading Israeli Arabs for settlements.
They're politicians. Who knows their true inner feelings or intentions?
We are hearing fascinating stories about the late Ariel Sharon, told by individuals who worked with him from 1948 onward. Perhaps some of them are true. Arik can't argue.
It is common to say that there were many Ariel Sharons, larger than normal life, and some of the later ones quite different from the earlier ones. He changed direction, but characteristically bulldozed wherever he headed. He was instrumental in the creation of settlements. When he was Minister of Housing and Construction, he was the settlers' principal representative in the government. Then as Prime Minister, he became the settlers' enemy when he withdrew settlements from Gaza.
Sharon's death has revitalized the already lively argument among Israelis about the withdrawal of settlements, now relevant to the West Bank. Some see the withdrawal from Gaza as Israel's major step forward since the Six Day War and then the peace treaty with Egypt and withdrawal from the Sinai. Others see it as creating a constant threat of missiles falling on Israeli civilians.
Polls and the comments of ranking Palestinians and Israelis about Kerry and what he is trying to produce suggest mistrust of those on the other side, and mistrust of Kerry.
No one should be excluded from the argument, and we should never say never.
For the time being, however, it would be wiser to deal with something beside an agreement with Palestinians who have proved themselves unwilling to accept what are likely to be Israel's most generous offers.
Americans can seek to improve delivery of their potential for high quality medicine, worry more about guns, drugs, poor eating habits, and violence, as well as schools that invest more in sports than science.
Israelis likewise have an agenda worthy of attention. Putting the Haredim to work, and demanding that they expose their children to math, science, languages and perhaps history may deal with problems of sacred ignorance and clerical authoritarianism that are no less threatening to us than Islam.
Palestinians have their own needs to be dealt with, separate from the dreams of those who would reach an agreement with Israel, or wipe Israel off the map. The media and my friends talk about fighting corruption, improving tax collection and law enforcement, and using more of the foreign aid to improve the services provided to individuals.
It could be worse. We could be living alongside the Rio Grande. Here the weather is better.
Click here to return to Blog home page