The basic flaw in the Palestinian logic, joined by Barack Obama and lots of others, is the problem in turning back history.


Why 1967? Why not something else, earlier or later, equally irrelevant?


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By this thinking, what we call the eastern part of United States could still be part of the British Empire, assuming that we don''t turn things back before 1066 or whenever it was that William the Conqueror made his journey. There would be no whites living west of the Alleghenies. Beyond the Mississippi would be French or Spanish, depending on whether we erase the French Revolution. And I would be writing this in Yiddish from somewhere east of who knows what.


Justice is equally elusive as picking the appropriate date from which to erase history.


Is it right that Israel has developed to the level of a decent European country while Palestinians are still struggling to put their name on someone else''s map? Why should the United States be allowed to be the richest country in the world (aggregate GNP, forget about per capita for the sake of the story) while it scores only 38th in life expectancy and close to that in infant mortality?


Why should bad things happen to good people? While we''re at it, we should take another look at the Book of Job.


The fleeting appeal of the Oslo process, circa 1993, is that Israelis and Palestinians agreed for a moment to forget about history, and bargained about what it would take to satisfy each side. That process broke down to the sound of exploding buses and restaurants.


Talk of turning back history is what you do when you have missed the bus. There will be another chance, but it may not come for a while. The relevant history begins now, or maybe not until then. We can thank John Kennedy for telling us that "Today" is the first day of the rest of our lives.


As I read the Palestinian phenomenon, its leaders have made two serious mistakes. One is wanting to turn back history. The second is wanting someone else to do it for them.


The record is Arab efforts in 1948 and 1967, neither of which ended well for the Palestinians. Since then, Arab governments have used the Palestinians as a symbol without substance to deal with their own problems. "Free Palestine" has been the call to distract the common folk from Morocco to Indonesia from their own misery, with little that is tangible beyond the slogan to help the Palestinians. How that will play after the current commotion labeled "Arab Spring" is anybody''s guess.


I have no solution for the Palestinians. While managing my e-mail I deal with no end of ideas from well meaning people who have spent their time producing something that looks like one or another of the many items already in the file called Obvious solutions that have not been adopted by the relevant parties.


It is common to assume that there will be a solution, but it may never come.


What actually moves history and produces the future has been troubling at least from the time of Aristotle, if one considers our culture stemming from Greek roots. Or from those who composed the Hebrew Bible for those who think Judaically.


There are no firm answers to questions about history or the future. There are too many variables, responding to too many other variables. It is insightful that History is often located in the Faculty of Humanities rather than Social Sciences. Some have little faith in social science, but history is along with the fuzzier stuff of literature and language.
 
There is no obvious solution for the conundrum of American health care, or the world''s best medicine along with the world''s worst delivery. Basques, Catalans, Scots, Welsh, Kurds, Normans, Corsicans, Luo and lots of others may someday get the homelands they claim. And we should worry about the Iroquois, Apache, Navajo and what may be hundreds of other tribes, clans, and bands whose current members feel ill treated. It would also be appropriate to put the Armenians on the list of Holocaust victims, and decide if Columbus Day does enough for Italian Americans to justify its insults to Native Americans.
 
 

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