More Couples’ Therapy in Annapolis

Here we go again with another meaningless “couples’ therapy” session with no concrete goals or meaningful substance. Palestine is the spouse that wants to discuss tangible issues. Israel appears to be the spouse that doesn’t really want to be there but would rather just say, “Hey, I showed up. Isn’t that proof enough that I want this to work out?”

Ahem, right, and Hugh Hefner is going to give the keynote at the next major abstinence conference.

The reality is that the Palestinian economy continues to be strangled; Israeli settlements on private Palestinian lands thrive; children go to school malnourished and are unable to concentrate while hundreds of other children sleep on the cold concrete floors of Israeli prisons; the Wall is cutting into Palestinian towns and effectively halting the flow of goods between Palestinians; and Jewish settlers have burned thousands of Palestinian olive trees with impunity.

Palestinian fishermen cannot fish without being shot at by the Israeli Navy and Gaza continues to descend into deeper despair. One recent October 19 Reuters story brought the point home:

"I am Mr. Nobody," stated Mahmoud Jnaid, who recently doused himself in fuel and tried to set himself on fire before other Palestinian on-lookers overpowered him. "When I poured the petrol on my body I felt life was the same as death," the 25-year-old said while he sat next to his wife and children.

Israel won’t approve ID papers for Jnaid and tens of thousands like him, effectively prohibiting them from traveling, getting driver’s licenses, or even opening bank accounts. Apparently, the denial of these daily basics makes Israel feel more secure. Go figure that one out.

If you listen to the Israeli spin, Jnaid and others deserve what they’re getting because Hamas is in charge of Gaza. But the Israelis and their supporters conveniently “forget” that Britain did not rally the world into isolating Israel when Israelis elected former terrorist Menachem Begin as Prime Minister. After once blowing up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and killing 91 British and Palestinians, Begin became the Osama Bin Laden of Britain. He was that wanted and hated.

Decades of forced dispossession and cruel occupation subsequently marked Israel’s existence. The 600+ checkpoints in the West Bank and an intrusive Wall are supposed to be reminders of Israel’s need for security. But after all these decades, Israel can’t find security. So, the vice keeps tightening and the iron maiden gets smaller.

The Palestinians make us do this to them, Israelis tell the world. That reminds me of the abusive husband who knows that hitting his wife is wrong but blames her for the abuse. If only she did what she’s told . . . And if only the Palestinians did what they’re told . . .

But few buy into this narrative outside our borders, which should tell fellow Americans something. It most certainly has not served our national interests to support those who neither deserve our tax monies nor deprive others of their basic freedoms.

Are there Palestinians extremists with their home-made rockets adding fuel to the fire? Sure, same as there are Uzi-toting Jewish settler extremists who endlessly abuse Palestinians and destroy their crops. Extremists exist on both sides, but why let them win out?

Now comes Annapolis 2007 with a real shot at dealing with the core issues that have led to so much unnecessary bloodshed. I’m not talking about the “generous” Barak offer that allowed for a Palestinian state to look like Swiss cheese. I am talking real solutions about Jerusalem, the right of return of refugees; real borders; the release of thousands of political prisoners; and a potentially real economic partnership.

Instead, we are likely to hear another general statement about issues that need to be resolved, as Israel has already requested. “Peace, peace, peace, yadda, yaddda, yadda.”

More “fuzzy warm” couples’ therapy.

The problem with couples’ therapy is that it boasts few success stories if the will isn’t there for both partners. And most of us have little reason to believe that the Annapolis conference will be anything to boast about.