Monday, September 26, 2011

Bibi to Palestinians: Let's talk "doogree" about peace

Last Friday, the UN General Assembly members heard both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speak about the Palestinian statehood bid, which Abbas also presented formally to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. PA President Abbas, who received a standing ovation upon entering the GA chamber, delivered the usual rhetoric about his people "being persecuted for 63 years" and his desire for full UN membership in a state with borders that includes all land areas prior to June 5, 1967 (when Jordan actually ruled there). The implication of being persecuted for 63 years actually is in reference to what Arabs call the "Nakba" or catastrophe of 1948, known as the War of Independence by Israelis. Abbas also spoke of the allowance of Palestinian refugees to return "home" to lands and other properties seized by Israel during this war. One might well wonder what would have happened if Arab forces had won this conflict; instead of a small and ill equipped Israeli military, many of whose soldiers were former Holocaust death camp internees.

Israeli P.M. Netanyahu received a very different greeting upon entering the same chamber a bit later. Netanyahu, although a great public speaker, decided on this occasion to speak "doogre" to the delegates who did had assembled to hear his speech. Calling the GA "the theater of the absurd" he wanted to show the delegates that he did not come to give them a lesson in diplomacy, but to "speak the truth" about "one-sided" Palestinian statehood as demanded by Abbas. Netanyahu said that a final peace agreement and nation status for the Palestinians can only be achieved by direct negotiations between the parties. PM Netanyahu again warned about the increasing dangers in the region, aggravated considerably by the "Arab Spring" revolutions that have resulted in the ousting of Egyptian president Mobarak, the overthrow of Libyan strongman Muamar Ghaddafi, and continuing disturbances and killings in Syria and Yemen. He also mentioned Iran-backed Hezbollah's increasing strength in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza, also backed by Iran. In fact, Netanyahu singled out Iran as being the most dangerous country in the world today; and how that country's leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, could have the nerve to come to the UN and issue so much hateful rhetoric towards both the USA and the State of Israel.

Reminding the assembled delegates that the UN is now a very different entity than it was in 1947, when the State of Israel was voted into being by the UN, Netanyahu said that his country is willing to meet with the Palestinians "in Jerusalem or in Ramallah" and offered to sit with PA President Abbas and "talk doogre" with him about a final agreement that will result in a Palestinian state. For the uninformed, doogre is an Arab term meaning directness and forthrightness. So far, at least in Netanyahu's present term as prime minister, this directness has not taken place; and the Palestinians have now decided on the unilateral approach in their attempt to gain membership status in the UN.

Will this method win out, or is there a chance for both parties to sit together and "talk doogre" on the many unsolved issues that are separating Israel and the Palestinians?

As Jews in Israel and the world over enter the New Year, praying for peace with the Palestinians (those in the West Bank that is) should be on everyone's mind – Jews and non-Jews alike.

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