This is hard to admit, let alone put in print, but you don’t want me as your
friend. I am loyal, capable of sympathy in tough times and willing to celebrate
the good moments. But I am, I fear, the type of person who does not necessarily
support the winner. In fact, on a global scale, I would say I’m not so much on
the losing side as completely off the map.
Recently, for instance, I have
given a great deal of thought to the issue of the United Nations and statehood
and come to the conclusion that I am firmly in favor.
I believe the time
has come for Taiwan, celebrating its centennial next month, to become a member.
It was a member until 1971, when the Republic of China was kicked out of the
international community to be replaced by the bastion of human rights and
enlightenment, the People’s Republic of China. The People’s Republic is, of
course, bigger and richer and – as any Grade 1 schoolkid can tell you – that’s a
good way to win friends.
If you want a lesson in the transient nature of
political alliances, look at the Taiwanese example, and weep.
defined borders, a booming economy and is a vibrant, thriving
What’s missing is international recognition (no wonder as an
Israeli I feel a certain empathy, another mark of friendship).
Nations refugee agency last month launched a campaign to highlight the plight of
up to 12 million stateless people worldwide.
I’d put in a good word for
the Roma, but I’m not sure it would help them – I’m friends with all the right
people in all the wrong places.
Still, when it comes to discussions on
statehood, I believe the so-called Gypsies should be prime
They have their own language, customs, history and traditions
and have been persecuted for centuries as they wandered stateless across Europe
and elsewhere. All they lack is a charismatic leader who can create a homeland
He – or she – would have to be very charismatic
Like the Jewish people, the Roma do not have any natural
alliances based on a common language, culture or religion.
don’t see European countries willingly giving up parts of their own territory in
order to provide a state for what is very clearly a separate and distinct nation
unless they feel they can get something in return.
I DO FORESEE more and
more pressure on Israel to create a Palestinian state. Or two.
could eventually come to a modus vivendi with Fatah in the West Bank. It’s
unlikely that either Fatah or Israel will be able to live in peace with Hamas in
Gaza, which is already a state in all but name.
It’s hard to live in
peace with a people whose leaders are dedicated to your extermination and are
willing to use missile power faster than you can say “infidel.”
Palestinians have the Arab world on their side – although I suspect that the
support stems largely from the fact that none of the Arab countries really wants
them, certainly not Egypt, which ruled Gaza until 1967 and did not jump at the
chance of taking it back after the now-strained peace treaty of 1979.
also had interesting conversations with residents of the Gulf states about the
Palestinians – none of them flattering, but perhaps they spoke differently
before the Palestinians in Kuwait threw in their lot with Saddam Hussein in the
1990 Gulf War.
The international community is anxious for “the
Palestinian problem” to be solved.
And, at the risk of torpedoing their
chances of statehood forever, I should say that so am I.
I’d rather have
the Palestinians living next door as friends than as enemies. But, unlike their
supporters around the world, I have to live with the consequences of Palestinian
In the UN last week, even President Barack Obama pointed out
that peace will not come from a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.
There are no shortcuts: Without sorting out the issues of borders, security and
refugees there will be no peace. Without negotiations, there will be no
If the Palestinians cannot accept Israel as the one Jewish
homeland, there’s not much to talk about. It’s a blood-red line.
recent years, whenever the Palestinian track of negotiations failed, foreign
diplomats and politicians automatically raised the question of the Syrian
option. Even Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his neo-Ottoman quest offered his
services as a mediator in 2008. Friendly, we now know, he is not. At least not
I trust this time, with the nature of Bashar Assad’s regime so
painfully apparent, the world will realize that withdrawing to the pre-’67
borders on the Golan Heights is not going to bring global peace but death and
destruction on citizens of the Jewish state.
As a top Israeli official
recently pointed out, it is sobering to realize that there are three non-Arab
countries in the region: Israel, Turkey and Iran. Two of them, the Muslim ones,
are competing to pick up the spoils of the turmoil in the Arab world.
Israel, this seems to be a good time to create stronger alliances – the
political equivalent of friendship – with Greece and the Balkans. For the US and
Europe, as their leaders seem to realize, they could do worse than making sure
the strategic alliance with Israel is not harmed as the “Arab Spring” turns into
the “Arab Winter.”
Extraordinarily, if there was one country put on the
map by the Palestinian statehood bid in the UN it was Gabon.
republic became the talk of Israel as the prime minister openly wooed its
support in the UN Security Council.
The Palestinian statehood bid has
shown up several interesting anomalies.
For example, while the Durban III
conference continued to promote the “Israel is an apartheid state” myth, MK
Ahmed Tibi, who serves as a deputy Speaker of the Knesset, was in New York,
having traveled with the Abbas entourage to express his support of the
Palestinian state – not that he is likely to give up either his Israeli pension
rights or his residency in the Israeli-Arab town of Taiba if a state were
declared tomorrow or next year.
Tibi definitely makes me feel sorry for
Israel’s Arab citizens.
Surely they deserve better – a Knesset member who
truly represents their needs and interests.
My friendly advice? The adage
of British writer Samuel Johnson (1709-1784): “True happiness consists not in
the multitude of friends, but in their worth and choice.”
The writer is
editor of The International Jerusalem Post.