The Real Quagmire in the Middle East

[] Interview with Jeffrey Goldberg - Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic Monthly said in an interview: "The settlements aren't the central question. They're a tragedy in part because they obscure the central question of this conflict. The only question is: can the world of Arab Islam accept the idea of Jewish national equality?...The Six-Day War wasn't started because of the settlements. If you study the history of the last one hundred years, you'll see that this [accepting Jewish national equality] is the central animating cause of the conflict. And I don't see much evidence that Arab Islam can assimilate this idea right now." "The question of Israel is the question of what happens to all minorities in the Middle East. The Arab Muslim Middle East has 300 million people. It has a very hard time treating Coptic Christians with equality, treating Maronites in Lebanon with equality, treating Southern Sudanese in an equal way, treating Kurds in an equal way, and dealing with Jews - not only in their national expression, but even as minorities within their own countries. There was never a golden era for Jews who lived in Arab countries." Q: You have talked to Hamas people. Should the Israelis or Americans talk to them? Goldberg: "I don't know what they'd get out of it....People in the United States find it hard to understand how people in Hamas and Hizbullah think. It's alien to us. The feverish racism and conspiracy mongering, the obscurantism, the apocalyptic thinking - we can't relate to that....We're talking about whole societies that are captive to this kind of absurdity." "Just because a belief sounds ridiculous to you doesn't mean it's not sincerely held. So I think it's best to err on the side of taking people at their word....I believe Hamas when it says it wants to eradicate Israel....Why not? Palestinians, over the years, have proven that they're willing to sacrifice generations of people to achieve their goal of a Jewish-free Palestine." "Arabs are misreading history if they believe Israel is a temporary phenomenon. Nothing like this has ever happened in history. A dead tribe came back and seized the land it had, and did so after a devastating tragedy. Jews are also good at waiting, apparently. They're a small group, but there's a survival impulse that's embedded in many Jews, and certainly in the Jews of Israel today. It says: 'You want to wait? We'll wait, too.' Jews were an ancient people already when Mohammad appeared on the Arabian peninsula." "I'm negative about the intentions of Palestinians. If their goal were statehood, they could have had statehood. Therefore, you have to give serious credence to the idea that their goal is not statehood, that it's more important to rid the Arab world of Jewish nationalism than it is to have a Palestinian state that would improve the lives of individual Palestinians now."

2009-07-09 06:00:00

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