The winner of this week’s Jerusalem Post op-ed writers’ contest, Hershel Tsvi Yehuda, argues persuasively that “Settlements were never the problem“. He asserts that
History shows that the conflict here in Israel is not over land, but has to do with the inability of our Arabs/Muslim neighbors to recognize that Jews and Christians have any claim, religious or historical, to the land of Israel
and then he demonstrates the truth of this statement with simple historical examples.
Mr. Yehuda is not a professional writer in English (he consistently writes “it’s” instead of “its”; I don’t know why the Post’s editors couldn’t fix this), but he gets directly to the heart of the issue without getting bogged down in discussions of who did what to whom in what order in 1948. As I said, it’s very persuasive, and I recommend it highly.
It seems to me that if there is a problem to solve and we know what the root cause of the problem is, we should attack the root, not the symptoms. Yehuda’s essay shows that the fact that Jewish settlements bother the Arabs so much is actually a symptom of a deeper problem.
If the problem that President Obama wants to solve is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then pressuring Israel to freeze settlement construction does not go to the root of it. Rather, he should pressure the Arabs to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and admit that Jews and Christians have as much right to be in the Land of Israel as Muslims.
If he were successful in this, then peace would be a possibility. Freezing settlements does nothing except invite additional demands from Arabs who simply don’t want any Jewish state in the land.
It really is that simple.
Of course, maybe Obama is trying to solve a different problem, like the fact that Arabs and other Muslims dislike the US. His approach won’t fix this either, but that’s another story.