Friday, September 25, 2009

A history of the Israeli-Arab conflict - Rear Vision

The program Rear Vision of Australia's ABC which is also available as podcast, had three guests to speak on The Middle East conflict and the two-state solution. Giora Eiland; former head of the Israeli National Security Council and General in the Israel General Staff. Jeremy Pressman; Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at the University of Connecticut in America. And Rashid Khalidi; Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University in America.

I especially liked the contribution of Rashid Khalidi, who we have recently heard also in several other excellent podcast appearances - see below. When discussing the Balfour Declaration Khalidi points out that although the provision was made that the Jews were to respect the rights of others, the Arabs are not mentioned here. This is to be a continuing problem in the history, the Arabs struggle with being a non-entity and one must in ones mind add to this that especially among Israelis, many consider the Palestinians, still, as a non-entity. And so, the rather refreshing light on the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict Khalidi gives is that of the Arab population and a disenfranchised community, without sliding into the rhetoric of accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing or equaling Zionism with Imperialism.

Also Eiland's and Pressman's contributions are quite good, so that this is one of the very few podcasts that will give you a basic insight in the history of the conflict going as far back as 1917. The only thing I found missing in the program was how this two-state solution as an option has been losing ground recently. While it is still largely held as the one and only viable option for a cold peace, only Eiland mentions one of the fundamental problems with it: the most Israel is politically capable of offering is less than any Palestinian Authority can accept. Add to this the deep mistrust between the peoples that have risen over the last decade and the eternal problems of the Palestinians to forge a basis for a viable state, not only economically, but also politically. The two-state solution seems, more than ever, apart from being politically out of reach, practically not sustainable.

More Rear Vision:
Fish depletion,
Follow up on Iran and Versailles,
Versailles 1919,
Iran 1953,

More Rashid Khalidi:
Sowing crisis - Us and the Middle-East,