Sun Ra - Column for 4/22

Any Price

I have two solutions for the whole Palestinian/Israeli mess. One of them is actually what's going to happen.

What isn't going to happen is that any sort of compromise will be made. And this is for the simple reason that it takes only a small percentage of either side to prevent it. Ten or five or two percent of the Palestinians can scupper any peaceful settlement by simply continuing to murder Israelis. It doesn't matter if the rest agree to stop the killing. Even were Israel to pull out of the entire West Bank, there would still be car bombs and human bombs. The hatred, the poverty, and the idleness are too deep.

On the other side, well, remember the relations between the U.S. goverment and the American Indians. It was not the government that broke the treaties, again and again and again. It was the white settlers, moving in to areas the (federal) government had actually asked them to stay out of, murdering Indians, etc. But the government would absolutely protect the white settlers, who were its people, and was completely willing to scrap treaties to do so, each and every time the citizenry presented it with a fait accompli. It is, and shall continue to be, the same in Israel. Ten or five or two percent of the Jewish citizenry can manipulate the government as it sees fit.

Additionally, as regards the Israelis, they have taken a position that allows them to sit on their hands at all times. "Stop killing people," they say, "and we'll discuss things with you." But, of course, if the Palestinians stop killing people, the Israelis have gotten what they want. So they no longer see a pressing need to give the Palestinians anything. Setting pre-conditions for negotiations is, frankly, duplicitous and unworkable. If I have a toy, and my sibling starts hitting me, then of course I will demand that they stop hitting me. But if they do stop, then there's no reason for me to share.

Anyways, let me present my first solution. This is the one that won't happen. If Israel wants to be left alone, they have but to set up a viable Palestinian state. And I don't mean just politically, I mean economically. They would have to kick down money in at Marshall Plan level, paying for years of infrastructure and education. Getting Palestine to a pre-civil war Lebanon level of prosperity, with roads and schools and desalinization plants. With a middle and upper class.

And that would stop the bombings. Because Arab states, and in fact most countries, are pretty good at policing their own citizens. If there were a Palestine, with fairly well-off citizenry, it would have an interest in not ticking off Israel - and it would be able to clamp down on terrorists. The government would know who they are - would speak the same dialect, would know their parents and their neighbors, would know the whole social dynamic. If a country wants to turn off its own terrorists in a neighboring country, it can. (Which is not to say it can stop domestic terrorists against itself, but foreign terrorists need foreign support.)

And more importantly, there would no longer be such a huge population of hate-filled young people to create the one or two percent suicide bombers. Middle-class types spin off a lot fewer murderers than do people with nothing to lose. If angry young men were sucked into shopkeeping or machining or dockloading, they wouldn't be sitting around and killing people out of hate and boredom.

But that's never going to happen. Because Israel doesn't owe the Palestinians anything. Whether that statement is true or not is moot - that's Israel's attitude, and they are the ones who count. (I suppose the U.S. could do it, but you have the same argument. Why should we?) Enlightened self-interest rarely moves government policy. So let's move on to solution two, coming soon-ish to a middle eastern country near you.

It starts with forced relocation. Israel can simply move in with soldiers and throw the Palestinians out of any area they decide to keep, put up fences around the country, and then impose a strict regime of paper-checking and surveillance cameras. Sure it will work - the Soviet Union successfully ran like that for seventy years. In fact, with current technology Israel could monitor every inch of their city-space for mere billions of dollars, keeping track of exactly who is where at any time. Any unknown faces on the ubiquitous video cameras would raise red flags in the monitor rooms, and security would be dispatched. The technology exists - image recognition software, wireless networking, and lots and lots of cameras. It's just a matter of capital outlay.

Sure, simply throwing the Palestinians out physically would result in serious bloodshed, but... but what? It would, end of story. Price you pay. The rest of the world would become upset and cry "ethnic cleansing", which of course depends on your definition. The question is, though, is it worse to live in modern Israel, or in the Israel of 1984? Increasing numbers would say that safety is double-plus good.

And demographics tell me that that's what will happen. The number of Palestinians is growing faster than the number of Israelis - and the Israelis know it. More importantly, Israel as a body politic is veering to the right. Ultra-conservative types are having more children, and liberal types are leaving the country. "Final solutions", to use an ironic turn of phrase, are less unthinkable when you have the sanction of God.

So there you have it. Israel, where Big Brother keeps upstanding citizens safe and everyone else out. I'd give it twenty years on the outside, but more likely ten years. In fact, good capitalist that I am, I should be over there selling the city government of Tel Aviv an integrated security system right now.

Which would set me up well for the United States market, ten years beyond.

- Sun Ra

Columns by Sun Ra