Who’s Right?

The situation in the Middle East involving Palestine and Israel is so complex that one wonders if things will ever become clear. Virtually every other nation on the planet except for Israel and its staunchest ally the United States believes that the appropriation of land by Israel in that part of the world after the Middle East war in 1967 was illegal if not immoral. The United Nations recently voted overwhelmingly to grant Palestine “State” status — over the protests of Israel and the United States. Is it possible that the rest of the world is right and we are wrong? One does wonder.

In the latest chapter in what has become an ugly book filled with violence and mutual hatred, Israel has announced that it is going to expand its settlements in East Jerusalem. However, as a recent news story by MSNBC points out:

The White House  and the State Department said on Friday a new Israeli settlement expansion plan was “counterproductive” and could make it harder to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

“We reiterate our longstanding opposition to settlements and East Jerusalem construction and announcements,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland reiterated this position, adding: “We’re going to be evenhanded in our concern about any actions that are provocative, any actions that make it harder to get these two parties back to the table.”

I am certainly not in a position to say who is right and who is wrong in this situation. I’m not sure anyone is! But this is the strongest language I can remember hearing in the way of a disagreement between the US and Israel. This country is usually foursquare behind every step Israel takes in its ongoing battle with its neighbor. The relatively mild comments above almost sound like scathing criticism. But it is clear that an action such as this planned expansion at a time when the situation is already red-hot and ready to explode seems ill-advised. Indeed, it almost seems designed to provoke a response of some sort.

I have a friend who is married to a Palestinian woman and who insists that Americans are not provided with objective news reporting about the goings-on in that region of the world. This may or may not be  true, though it does seem that we have developed a one-dimensional viewpoint on issues involving Israel and Palestine. I dare say there is right and wrong on both sides of the ongoing conflict and it would be refreshing to know that the news we read is impartial — to the extent that it is possible to read news that is not slanted one way or the other.

But in the end, this situation is a powder-keg waiting to explode and we do know for certain that many people will die in the aftermath. And any steps that can be taken by either side to temper the situation would seem to me to be well advised. As long as the two countries continue to dig in and insist that there is only one right course of action and each of them insists that they are taking that course, there can be no resolution to the situation.

On a much smaller scale, of course, one is reminded of our Congress where the sides are entrenched behind barriers of party loyalties and seem incapable of admitting that they might just be wrong. There lies intransigence: the heart and soul of stupidity and prejudice born of the unwillingness (or inability) to admit we might be wrong.