April 2004
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Day April 12, 2004

I reiterate: how is this a functional Palestinian state?

Reading today’s news that Sharon hopes to gain U.S. support for its plan to hold onto contested West Bank lands, I was reminded of an earlier post and the question I asked then. How is it possible for the Palestinians to have a state if the land involved is fragmented into a series of discontiguous pieces, surrounded by fences and interpenetrated by Israeli settlements?

How is it possible for the Palestinian state to construct infrastructure? Protect itself? Create a free flow of people and commerce within its own borders? Look at the map of Israeli options in July of 2003. This isn’t a country. How will a Palestinian state construct and maintain roads between the discontiguous pieces of the West Bank, let alone across to Gaza? How about power? water? sewage?

I’m no expert on the Middle East, but frankly, this plan seems to rely on the fact that the voting public (in both countries) hasn’t looked at a detailed map of the West Bank. What’s proposed isn’t a Palestinian sovereign nation, it’s a series of enclaves that look suspiciously like Native American reservations, or the “Bantustans” of Apartheid-era South Africa. It’s hard to conclude that Sharon’s plan is sincere about Palestinian sovereignty — if he was, he’d work to create a contiguous block of land which could fulfill the usual definition of a nation-state. As it is, the swiss-cheese nature of current proposals lead me to conclude that Israel and the U.S. aren’t really committed to a two-state settlement; they’re committed to an Israeli nation and a host of small reservations where Palestinians can be responsible for themselves economically but without the resources needed to achieve that goal.

Commentary on Fallujah from Raed

Raed posted this on the Fallujah situation today. Especially given that he’s on the spot, it worth a read:

The first official body count said that 518 Iraqis were killed, including 167 women and 56 children under the age of five. The Iraqi Red Crescent said that another 5000 families ran away from the town.

Dozens of American soldiers were also injured and killed.

So, what did we achieve?
What did Bush and his administration achieve?
What did the Iraqi and the American people achieve?
When Bush decided to start his “War on Terrorism”, secular people (including myself) didn’t feel offended at all; I mean… that was OUR war, the war in which we spent years of our lives fighting against fundamentalism and extremism in our countries.
But after a couple of years, I can say that the Bush administration war was the best chance for extremists to gaiin more popularity and to have a louder voice in our communities.

The shadows of the unpleasant events of Falluja will affect the image of the American Army in Iraq… it will only increasing the anger of Iraqis, and help more extremist right winged leaders dominate the political mood.

For God’s sake, didn’t anyone think of starting a survey to attempt to predict what this war might cause from a socio-cultural perspective? A survey to compare the anger and hatred of both Arabs’ and Americans’ “regular Joes” before and after the war of Iraq??

After spending a month reading and re-reading Christopher Hitchens’ essays in support of the war in Iraq, half-persuaded by the relentless logic of how we’re keeping a humanitarian promise to the Iraqi and Kurdish peoples, it’s hard to read on-the-ground descriptions of what’s happening and not conclude that even if we could have helped Iraq, as Hitchens claims, that it’s not really turning out that way. And sadly, the politics of the election force a set of dynamics on the issue which limit our options for truly making things right. I rack my brain but I have no idea how we can fix this.