21 August 2007

21 August 2007 - 40 years of failed dialogue

I’m often complaining that discussions among human rights groups tend to be one-sided, moralistic, and inimical to an exploration of the fundamental issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It would be better, I often argue, to adopt an approach more geared towards conflict resolution and dialogue. I was reminded yesterday that such discussions can be just as unproductive than the confrontational kind.

The Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture—in which I’ve recently published a quirky article about the “Northern Ireland option”—held a discussion yesterday on Jerusalem. The focus was the history of the city’s development in the forty years since “reunification,” and the prospects for the future. One speaker was Palestinian, the other Israel, but they disagreed on little.

The Palestinian speaker, a filmmaker, began by saying that she cared deeply about the city, then launched into a distorted, almost comical account of Israeli intentions in 1967, claiming that Ben-Gurion wanted to destroy of the Old City and fly the Israeli flag above the Dome of the Rock. (She was later corrected by an audience member, who pointed out that Ben-Gurion was not in power in 1967 in any case.)

Her basic argument was that Israel has succeeded in creating physical “facts on the ground,” such as the security barrier and Jewish neighborhood (she called them “settlements”) in East Jerusalem. However, she claimed that Israel had failed in its alleged effort to control Palestinian demography. The wombs of Palestinian women, she suggested, had defeated Israeli efforts to make the city Jewish instead of Arab.

Despite her “care” for the city, this speaker seemed to see the future of Jerusalem as a kind of zero-sum population game. No doubt, there are Israelis who feel the same, and this mutually impoverishing vision has indeed driven Israeli policy in the city for quite some time. But she seemed locked into the confrontation, even suggesting that any Palestinian culpability in the conflict was a response to Israeli actions.

The Israeli speaker, a former Knesset member, promised to be “extremely brief” but then spoke for about twice as long as her Palestinian counterpart. She argued that the integration of the city had, paradoxically, reinforced its inequalities; and that now, Israel was attempting to divide the city in order to maintain Jewish demographic supremacy. Jews and Arabs, she claimed, never interact as equals.

I found her presentation stunning in its denialism. What Jerusalem is she living in? I wondered. Not the integrating Jerusalem of today. Also, the issue of inequality is a red herring. When two populations with unequal resources interact after being separated from one another, there might well be greater inequality, but the real question is whether the more disadvantaged group benefits in absolute terms.

Here I think there is no doubt that life in East Jerusalem is much better today that it was 40 years ago. Things have undoubtedly changed for the worse in the part of East Jerusalem that lies beyond the security barrier, but that is not, as both speakers assumed, part of a demographic plot. Rather, it is an unfortunate feature of an anti-terror strategy that has improved life in this city immeasurably.

Not once did either speaker mention the terrible impact of suicide bombings in the 1990s and especially in the second intifada, and how the hated security barrier had restored calm and optimism to Jerusalem. I had the feeling that both of them were simply of an earlier generation, one that had come of age in a simpler time of more comfortable moral certainties and that had failed to grapple with today’s challenges.

Both speakers mentioned that Jerusalem has become a poorer and more religiously extreme city, but neither of them identified any real causes or solutions. It occurred to me that the city’s economy would recover if more secular, skilled people started moving back, and that encouraging them to do so might only require simple (though controversial) changes like allowing public transport to run on Saturdays.

The most constructive idea I heard—and it was one that nearly everyone else in the room disliked—was the idea of giving sovereignty over the city’s holy sites to God, and having them be governed by a council of religious representatives. The woman who suggested this idea took it to fanciful extremes, but it struck me that a bicameral council that dealt with mundane matters in a lower chamber could work.

Overall, the discussion was a failed dialogue between people of a mostly left-wing persuasion who actually disagreed deeply on fundamental issues but struggled to maintain a façade of consensus. I left feeling rather disillusioned, imagining that what the city really needed was visionary leadership that was sensitive to the different communities and willing to do what is needed to make the place work.

77 Comments:

At 7:25 AM, Anonymous Hydrocodone said...

rG4L2s The best blog you have!

 
At 1:07 PM, Anonymous levitra on line said...

DkK3ne Nice Article.

 
At 2:04 PM, Anonymous alpha tours pei said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

 
At 2:53 PM, Anonymous fioricet overnight said...

Hello all!

 
At 3:40 PM, Anonymous generic celebrex and canadian pharmacy said...

Nice Article.

 
At 4:46 PM, Anonymous truckers insurance said...

Please write anything else!

 
At 6:22 AM, Anonymous  said...

Good job!

 
At 10:57 AM, Anonymous pill 377 tramadol said...

Good job!

 
At 12:04 PM, Anonymous long turn use of xanax said...

Good job!

 
At 1:04 PM, Anonymous headache vicodin hasnt help said...

Magnific!

 
At 1:54 PM, Anonymous easy customer comments on herbal phentermine hoodia said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

 
At 3:20 PM, Anonymous JohnBraun said...

wUSC4b write more, thanks.

 
At 11:03 PM, Anonymous cops having sex said...

Nice Article.

 
At 11:38 PM, Anonymous drawn sex passwprd said...

Nice Article.

 
At 1:27 AM, Anonymous animal sex library said...

Thanks to author.

 
At 2:05 AM, Anonymous language en sex said...

Thanks to author.

 
At 2:36 AM, Anonymous easygal anal blowjob said...

Wonderful blog.

 
At 3:03 AM, Anonymous sex alte frauen said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

 
At 3:37 AM, Anonymous emma pierson sex said...

Magnific!

 
At 4:06 AM, Anonymous pakistani sex story said...

Thanks to author.

 
At 4:47 AM, Anonymous barbara amiel sex said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

 
At 5:30 AM, Anonymous bart sex milhouse said...

Thanks to author.

 
At 6:04 AM, Anonymous couples sex sites said...

Please write anything else!

 
At 6:35 AM, Anonymous horny sex experiences said...

Nice Article.

 
At 7:07 AM, Anonymous punch sex scene said...

Good job!

 
At 7:44 AM, Anonymous making sex happen said...

A lot of people mistake a short memory for a clear conscience.

 
At 8:22 AM, Anonymous nude sex proceeding said...

Give me ambiguity or give me something else.

 
At 8:49 AM, Anonymous dirty sex tips said...

When there's a will, I want to be in it.

 
At 9:17 AM, Anonymous free lesbian porn video clips said...

When there's a will, I want to be in it.

 
At 9:53 AM, Anonymous bratislava sex clubs said...

All generalizations are false, including this one.

 
At 10:24 AM, Anonymous boys anal sex said...

Thanks to author.

 
At 10:57 AM, Anonymous adults sex pictures said...

All generalizations are false, including this one.

 
At 11:29 AM, Anonymous japaneese teens sex said...

What is a free gift ? Aren't all gifts free?

 
At 11:59 AM, Anonymous hydrocodone apap 10 3 said...

Ever notice how fast Windows runs? Neither did I.

 
At 12:33 PM, Anonymous cialis anti impotence said...

Build a watch in 179 easy steps - by C. Forsberg.

 
At 1:07 PM, Anonymous ultram er said...

All generalizations are false, including this one.

 
At 1:52 PM, Anonymous jappaneese sex training said...

If ignorance is bliss, you must be orgasmic.

 
At 2:31 PM, Anonymous bikini outdoor sex said...

Build a watch in 179 easy steps - by C. Forsberg.

 
At 3:03 PM, Anonymous gerbils and sex said...

All generalizations are false, including this one.

 
At 3:39 PM, Anonymous asian bed sex said...

Build a watch in 179 easy steps - by C. Forsberg.

 
At 4:10 PM, Anonymous alzheimers and sex said...

What is a free gift ? Aren't all gifts free?

 
At 4:35 PM, Anonymous sex at twelve said...

Hello all!

 
At 5:02 PM, Anonymous daily sex cum said...

Suicidal twin kills sister by mistake!

 
At 5:34 PM, Anonymous nymph sex pictures said...

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

 
At 6:01 PM, Anonymous clopidogrel acute co said...

Build a watch in 179 easy steps - by C. Forsberg.

 
At 6:41 PM, Anonymous name said...

Oops. My brain just hit a bad sector.

 
At 7:10 PM, Anonymous eat shit sex shit eating pics sex sc said...

Suicidal twin kills sister by mistake!

 
At 7:49 PM, Anonymous real young hardcore porn said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

 
At 8:23 PM, Anonymous absolutely free sex porn movies and v said...

Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.

 
At 8:52 PM, Anonymous liberator senior sex said...

Magnific!

 
At 9:23 PM, Anonymous avril having sex said...

When there's a will, I want to be in it.

 
At 9:58 PM, Anonymous free sample porn flics said...

A flashlight is a case for holding dead batteries.

 
At 10:44 PM, Anonymous claudia marie porn said...

When there's a will, I want to be in it.

 
At 11:22 PM, Anonymous hermaphrodites sex porn said...

Energizer Bunny Arrested! Charged with battery.

 
At 11:56 PM, Anonymous dicks anal creampie pussy said...

Good job!

 
At 12:37 AM, Anonymous free teacher sex said...

Thanks to author.

 
At 1:09 AM, Anonymous porn seycheles said...

Nice Article.

 
At 1:44 AM, Anonymous hentai sex change said...

When there's a will, I want to be in it.

 
At 2:26 AM, Anonymous ibuprofen poisoning said...

The gene pool could use a little chlorine.

 
At 3:07 AM, Anonymous change sex success said...

What is a free gift ? Aren't all gifts free?

 
At 4:01 AM, Anonymous pichunter sex pics said...

Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.

 
At 4:42 AM, Anonymous buy sex machines said...

I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.

 
At 5:21 AM, Anonymous car sex hidden said...

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

 
At 6:04 AM, Anonymous free backroom sex said...

Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies

 
At 6:58 AM, Anonymous immature porn said...

Thanks to author.

 
At 7:50 AM, Anonymous interraicial gay sex said...

Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies

 
At 8:43 AM, Anonymous utube porn said...

Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies.

 
At 9:15 AM, Anonymous jewish sex free said...

Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies

 
At 9:55 AM, Anonymous pokemon sex flash said...

What is a free gift ? Aren't all gifts free?

 
At 10:34 AM, Anonymous annie cruz porn star dvd and videos and said...

Beam me aboard, Scotty..... Sure. Will a 2x10 do?

 
At 11:05 AM, Anonymous teens sex organs said...

Build a watch in 179 easy steps - by C. Forsberg.

 
At 11:49 AM, Anonymous brenda bella porn said...

Oops. My brain just hit a bad sector.

 
At 12:33 PM, Anonymous sabrina johnson anal pictures said...

Beam me aboard, Scotty..... Sure. Will a 2x10 do?

 
At 1:11 PM, Anonymous petite xxx sex said...

What is a free gift ? Aren't all gifts free?

 
At 1:58 PM, Anonymous taking phentermine during pregnancy said...

The gene pool could use a little chlorine.

 
At 2:50 PM, Anonymous buy phentermine online cheap said...

640K ought to be enough for anybody. - Bill Gates 81

 
At 3:30 PM, Anonymous buy phentermine on line phentermine saturday de said...

I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home