“What is it about the Middle East that makes its conflicts so intractable, such that one summer’s guns ineluctably conjure up so many earlier spasms of violence? Why the hate, and where is the healing? A British Royal commission on Palestine had it right nearly 70 years ago: ‘An irrepressible conflict has arisen between two national communities within the narrow bounds of one small country. There is no common ground between them. Their national aspirations are incompatible’. But why has there been no movement between these incompatibles in seven decades? Why has the two-state solution that every fair-minded observer has long endorsed been so difficult to establish?
The mystery is deepens because Israel is not unique. Its creation is rooted in the decay of the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and Russian empires at the end of the 19th century and in the desire of persecuted people for homeland. The Jews of Eastern Europe were not the only ones who dreamed such dreams; so did the Serbs, Czechs, Poles, Croats, and others. As the empires were carved up at the end of two world wars, new nations took shape. The state of Israel, to be sure, was created on someone else’s land (whose is a matter of debate), but it was hardly alone in that. Today’s Polish towns of Wroclaw and Bydgoszcz, for example, went by their German names of Breslau and Bromberg not long ago. Israel’s case differs from that of other new nations mainly because many have never reconciled themselves to its existence.” Michael Elliot, Time magazine, July 24, 2006 (during the 2nd Lebanon war between Israel and the Hezbollah)
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