Israeli PM Sharon addresses the United Nations

Up till now I have not been a fan of Israeli PM Sharon. I am still torn in my opinion of him, however if one is not going to be a bigot (go look up the definition) one does need to keep an open mind.

In addressing the United Nations, PM Sharon said that "the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel does not mean disregarding the rights of others in the land. The Palestinians will always be our neighbors. We respect them, and have no aspirations to rule over them. They are also entitled to freedom and to a national, sovereign existence in a state of their own."

This quote was lifted from the English version of the JPost. I tried to google a complete text of his speech but couldn't find it. It is interesting to note that there was a wealth of internet entries that opposed allowing Sharon to speak, at all, at the UN, but I at least couldn't find everything he had to say.

Seems that Sharon, in addition to actually DOING the right thing (withdrawing from Gaza), he dares to follow up this ACTION with some promising words said in front of the world body, the United Nations. Now these words could be dismissed by the unreasonable as mere rhetoric. Why do I call them the unreasonable? Because these words come in the wake of the Gaza Withdrawal. But I at least am not going to be a bigot. I am going to reconsider.

The Gaza Withdrawal might be dismissed by some (or many) as insufficient. However there is no denying that it potentially is movement towards peace. Perhaps it is not a perfect step towards peace... let's agree to call it a half of a step. But it is MOVEMENT and PROGRESS towards peace... and progress has been lacking in the peace process in the Middle East recently, unless you want to call movements away from peace, progress.

What will be the Palestinian's response to this half step? The Israelis moved first. Will they answer this half step with a step of their own? (Since the Israelis went first it is fair that two half steps... a FULL step... is expected of them.) What would I expect of the Palestinians? What should WE expect of the Palestinians? How about a cessation of violence?

Israel, under the leadership of Sharon, has proven that their society really will be able to deliver on settlement withdrawal. The majority has proven they can stand up to the minority... a very vocal crowd, but still a minority... that are unwilling to give up on the dream of a greater Israel. This minority is unwilling to give up even one inch. However the majority acted. They have proven they can deliver land for peace... if genuine peace is offered.

Can Palestinians act against those within their society who will never agree to peace and who really do want to "drive the Jews into the sea"?

I am not about to keep putting demands on Israelis when every proposal, every small step, every small action is met with violence. Not just any violence, but violence of the most horrible sort as evidenced in suicide bombers calling upon pizza parlors and nursery schools.

From what I read Sharon's speech was not perfect. He still makes some demands that many might call unreasonable. However look at Palestinian's demands. Are not some of them also unreasonable?

If the Palestinians react to the Gaza Withdrawal with a cessation of violence then perhaps we can finally get around to a resumption of negotiations. There, at the negotiating table, we can maybe iron out the differences.

However neither side is going to get everything they want. Even in proposed "unofficial" settlement agreements, those that even the left might find acceptable such as the Geneva Accords (go google it), include "painful concessions" from BOTH sides.

But if the Palestinians do respond to the potential of peace that is being offered with cessation of violence, then it would be reasonable of them to place some expectations on world society as a whole and American society in particular? If Palestinians lay down the sword and start demonstrating and resorting to civil disobedience to air their grievances it is reasonable for them to expect these grievances will in fact be aired. If American media responds to a cooling of the violence in Israel and Palestine with putting the issue on the back burner... if American media (where what bleeds leads) fails to give Palestinians access and stops reporting on the situation... my guess is that we are not going to make much headway.

What would I point to as being a fair airing of grievances? What would meet my expectations? I'll point to the way NPR (National Public Radio) used to report on the issue. I say "used to" because political pressure has been placed on NPR to "shut up" recently and from what I have heard it looks like the political pressure has been largely successful.

If Palestine DOES cease the violence "we" have got to prove to them that "their side" of things will still be heard. We'll have to prove they will get honest access to the media and that "their side" of things will not be drowned out by a constant barrage of things from "our side"... "our side" being the Israeli side. American society (and again world society as a whole) has got to prove to the Palestinians that nonviolence can work. That we will not forget about them if they lay down the sword.


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