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Mideast peace unreachable with these attitudes

Illustration by Patricia Tompkins
By David Schultz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, November 10, 2005
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If I hadn't read it with my own two eyes, I wouldn't have believed it.

Two weeks ago The New York Times reported that Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told an anti-Zionist student rally that Israel "must be wiped off the map."

Something tells me he's probably not going to be getting many Hanukkah gifts this year.

If there was any doubt before Ahmadinejad's remarks that anti-Semitism is alive and kicking in the Arab world, there should be none now. His remarks were not an extemporaneous aberration but were actually a concise and unfortunately accurate summary of Arab attitudes toward the Jewish state.

These attitudes, along with equally repugnant Jewish anti-Arab attitudes, are the true root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and any attempts to end the conflict without addressing them will fail.

Scholars and pundits alike have tried to theorize about the nature of this conflict and why it is so interminable.

Some believe it is purely nationalistic and that the Palestinians are simply fighting for the right to their own state while the Israelis are simply fighting to maintain the existence of their state.

Others claim that the cause of the conflict is the polar economic disparity between Israelis and Palestinians. After all, they claim, any time intense poverty is physically juxtaposed to economic prosperity, violent conflicts are inevitable.

While these theories contain kernels of truth, they fundamentally miss the mark by ignoring the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an ethnic conflict that can only be solved by the total eradication of ethnic hatred.

For the past 10 to 15 years, Israel has tried to end the conflict through political means such as signing peace accords with Palestinian leaders, or more recently, pulling troops out of Palestinian areas.

Israeli leaders are hoping that these means will lead to the end of hostilities by establishing a Palestinian state. Essentially, the Israeli government is gradually kicking the Palestinians out of their country, and it is hoping that once they have their own they won't bother Israel anymore.

This is merely wishful thinking. If Palestine were to become a state right now, the conflict wouldn't end; it would merely change from a civil war to a plain old regular war between two separate countries.

Palestinian politics are becoming increasingly dominated by militant terrorist factions such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad (which are funded by - you guessed it - Iran). These groups' overriding, unabashed goal is the destruction of the Jewish state and the Jewish people.

David Schultz

Don't get me wrong, the Palestinian people definitely deserve their own state.

But a Palestinian state that is in any way influenced by the "destroy Israel now" faction is totally unacceptable for the Israeli government and its people because this state would almost certainly be vehemently hostile toward Israel.

Similarly, the economic uplifting of the Palestinian people, although it would help, would still not end the conflict.

Many Palestinians harbor an entrenched loathing of the Jewish people that, sadly, is created and fostered by their vile, hateful leaders. These anti-Semitic attitudes have been handed down from generation to generation and cannot be erased by throwing money at the situation.

However, Israelis are no less guilty of this hatred than are the Palestinians and an attempted economic solution to this conflict would only exacerbate the antipathy that many, but not all, Israelis feel toward the Palestinian people.

Fanatical Jewish zealots are capable of committing atrocities that are equally if not more horrific than those committed by Islamic zealots, as is evidenced by the Israeli soldier who was absent without leave three months ago and boarded a bus in an Arab town and indiscriminately opened fire on men, women and children.

No matter what political or economic concessions are made by either side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, until hatred and religious discrimination are eliminated, there will be no end to this decades-old clash.

As we Americans know from our own ongoing racial problems, there is no easy or quick solution to this vicious cycle of loathing.

But one way progress could be made is if the political and religious leaders of both the Israeli and the Arab worlds truly recognized each others' rights to exist and denounced any and all notions of their mutual enmity.

One thing's for sure: No good can come of Ahmadinejad's fueling of the engine that lies in the black heart of this tragic conflict.

David Schultz is a senior majoring in political science and philosophy. He can be reached at

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