PUTTING PIECES OF THE PUZZLE TOGETHER: PEACE TALKS IN WASHINGTON, 2010
by Eliyho Matz
In the coming weeks, participants in the Israeli-Palestinian peace effort will include the United States and its President Barack Obama. The USA is a constitutional democracy cemented by laws that bind the Americans with a President of African-American and White-American heritage who is committed to law and peace. Being the first African-American President is not easy. However, Obama’s positive look at events and practical approach should help in this Mid-East peace effort.
President Obama is not the first African American to handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ralph J. Bunche, a career diplomat, helped negotiate the 1948-9 agreements between Israel and its neighbors. So we have historical precedent. However, when speaking about history, one should be conscious of several facts: Franklin D. Roosevelt, after becoming fully knowledgeable about the Holocaust, preferred not to do a thing to save Jews [see my article “An Episode: Roosevelt and the Mass Killing” (Midstream: Aug/Sept 1980)]. Harry S. Truman, recognizing the terrible tragedy of the Holocaust, helped to create the Israeli nation in 1948 -- as he saw it, a democratic state, not a theological one (thus “Judistan” or “Jewcratic”). So Barak Obama has a lot to analyze. Of course, peace and stability in the region of the Middle East is in the national interest of the United States. The Israeli nation established in 1948 with great difficulties and trepidations has evolved a bit since 1948 to become not so democratic and more theological. Leaders of this nation have never written a constitution for the Israelis, but insist on its being the Jewish State for all Jews, meaning a nation that is extraterritorial -- an interesting idea but not a practical one. Israel claims itself to be “Jewish,” but nobody can define exactly what “Jewish” is. Israel’s claim to be a democracy is false because it does not have a constitution, or even, like the British, a body of laws stretching more than a thousand years to govern the nation. I don’t think Biblical law should be considered here. No wonder the Israeli Supreme Court is bombarded with legal questions and is unable to enforce law and order in the land. As a result of the historical failure to write a constitution in 1948-9, Israel has found itself in national /international trouble. According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli goal is to be a Jewish nation (when in reality no one can define who is a Jew), and a democracy (when the law of the land is not exactly democratic but rather ad hoc law). Considering the creation of an Israeli republic with a written constitution for the Israelis is essential to the process of peace.
Another participant, President Mubarak of Egypt, will bring with him more than 30 years of experience, experience in ruling alone the Egyptian Republic, which has a constitution but as a nation has failed to rule with it. So it has had one political party and one President for the past 30 years. The King of Jordan, a monarch of Bedouin descent, will bring with him the experience of ruling a nation with a constitution, but as King he knows that not even his own Bedouins can be trusted, and therefore his personal bodyguards are comprised of Circassians. The other nations to consider, which will not be represented in Washington during this upcoming peace effort, include Syria, a dictatorship ruled by the Alawites sect; Lebanon, a republic of many political groups which are constantly at war with one another; Saudi Arabia, a monarchy ruled by the laws of Islam and its Saudi king -- a unique and very powerful nation, it has huge reserves of oil and is a quintessential ally of the U.S., if not exactly a progressive or democratic nation. The Turkish Republic, too, has recently entered into the thick of Middle East politics. When the Turks ruled the whole region under the Ottoman Empire, they mostly did not contribute much to the region, which eventually led to their leaving it to the more sophisticated British. However in 2010 the Turkish Republic has proven itself to be a regional democratic society. Turkey in my opinion is currently the most vital power in the region because of its potential to provide leadership, and most important to initiate the creation of a regional Middle East political-economic block that would compete with the European, American, Chinese and Russian blocks. If correctly done, Turkey’s involvement should be that of a pacifier.
Not to be forgotten, the last (but not least) of the participants at the conference are the Palestinians. Their suffering has no words…. In the past few years they have shown leadership in writing a constitution, in developing their own economic base, and in devising a process for cooperation with the help of the U.S. This should be seen by their archenemies all mentioned above as a threat, but with good will they will become great conciliators and facilitators of a new Middle East block.
Good luck Mr. President, Barack Obama….
Monday, August 30, 2010
Eliyho Matz on Washington's Israeli-Palestinian Summit
Received this analysis just in time for Wednesday's summit meeting: