Today ‘things’ are, in principle, better. There is no longer any need for total demoralisation or despair. The mega crisis in reasoning which hit the human race around 1900 has been, thankfully, in principle resolved. But these resolutions haven’t hit the headlines, and you need single-minded, clear-sighted reasoning in place to recognise and accept that the recent dramatic resolutions really do dispel the panic. In other words, you need clear thinking to renew your faith in clear thinking. This is an ironclad catch 22 situation, and these blogs are part of an effort to try to ensure that such an iron catch 22 doesn’t last for long.
The answer is very simple: it was entirely caused by Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust.
Once the sheer enormity of the Holocaust became known, it convinced every fair-minded person on the planet that an Israeli homeland was desperately needed,,, And it would, inevitably, have to be created in the only place where the Jewish diaspora had its historic roots —Palestine.
But the side effect of grabbing land in Palestine —which the Palestinians had cultivated since the failure of the crusades— was itself another outrage. The Palestinians were not in any way the architects of the Holocaust: they had no part in it. But after WW2 they were absent-mindedly, casually, pushed aside and —in effect— punished to heal the outrage of the Holocaust. All eyes were on helping Israel: no eyes were on the hurt inflicted on Palestine.
70+ years later Hamas has turned into a suicidal terrorist gang like ISIS. There is no question of condoning the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7th … the obscene massacre of more than a thousand innocent Israelis including babies and young people dancing to music. By this outrage Hamas have put themselves into the same category as ISIS —a suicidal terrorist menace to humanity, which can probably only be extinguished by the same kind of total defeat as that which wiped-out ISIS. (We should, however, encourage the Israelis to try to persuade as many of the Hamas as possible to lay down their arms.)
After the capitulation of Hamas, if nothing is done, the bitterly radicalised children of Gaza will inevitably rebuild another Hamas, and a similar bitter War will recur in the 2030s.This is virtually 100% certain. It is a potentially endlessly bloody nightmare.
So when the last gunfight with Hamas, is over, a situation of desolation and a vacuum of positivity will obtain in Gaza. This sounds hopeless, but actually its sheer horrific state can be the prompt for the first glimmer of a long-term solution.
What is essential now is to find a narrative which can encourage the young Gaza Palestinian generations to look for a genuinely hopeful non-violent outcome.
Myopic thinking badly constrains our reflections on this appalling problem. A proper analysis of the situation is essential. The international community should never have turned a blind-eye to the immensely hurtful side-effect —-seizing homeland from the Palestinians— at the formation of Israel in the 1950s. What was needed at the time was a huge fund of money donated from responsible, liberal allied countries —including the oil-rich Gulf states— to alleviate the loss of Palestinian homeland. We need to bear this in mind. Such a fund is still owed after eighty years of unedifying drift. This should be acknowledged as a central part of a viable long-term solution to the Palestinian-Israeli stand-off.
There is no question of rewarding the atrocities which were committed on October 7th with sudden lavish wider-world support … but realism tells us that, after the dust has settled, a lot of money will be needed to be borrowed or gifted to rebuild the rubble left in the killing fields of Gaza.
The top political priority will be to create the conditions under which a new moderate Gazan Palestinian leadership can emerge… a leadership committed to finding a non-violent solution and with a well-founded, sturdy confidence that the world community —including the rich Arab states— will eventually find the huge funds needed to do this.
In this way the extreme horror of the War can pave the way, at last, for a solution.
An immense sum will need to be raised —a ‘Palestinian Renewal Fund’ (PRF)— to be denoted perhaps in annual instalments of $10 billion per year over a 10-year period. Half of this burden should be carried by the Gulf states, because they have up to now coldly failed to back their brothers and sisters in Gaza with the scale of support desperately needed. If the main body of democratic countries combined contributed a total sum of $5 billion per year, the spin-off would create a sense of confidence in the future which is so distressingly absent in Gaza today. (This money is needed on top of the cost of rebuilding Gaza City and the other desolate rubble-fields of Gaza, as well as providing a lifeline of humanitarian and subsistence aid which the population will need for the next few years.)
What must the Gazan Palestinians do on their part to legitimize this? They must promise absolutely and finally to cease all forms of hostility towards Israel, to strictly proscribe —to stamp out— any resurgent terrorist body in any shape or form. This proscription must include a strict ban on propaganda and cybernetic warfare against Israel.
What do the Israelis gain from this? They have two basic choices: (a) to continue a terrible enmity against the Palestinians which might last for ever, or (b) recognise that their Israeli homeland can only be a ‘safe homeland’ if their closest neighbours (the Palestinians) are willing to wholeheartedly accept their presence.
The envisaged PRF could be usefully spent on things like (a) buying a swathe of land from Jordan to form a new ‘East Bank’ Palestinian province on the far bank of the Dead Sea, (b) building a tunnel or bridge across the Dead Sea, (c) building a tunnel motorway & railway from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, (d) building modern Palestinian homes, infrastructure, schools and intensive agriculture …in Gaza, the West Bank and the newly developed East Bank. (Jordan would benefit greatly from the sale of a small proportion of its land and also enjoy a quantum jump in its economic activity.)
If something like this is not set-in-motion and implemented, the Middle East could all-too easily drift towards a dangerous regional conflagration. We can’t rule out that hotheads might reach for the nuclear button. It is essential today that responsible international opinion should rally round a responsible, generous long-term plan eventually to finance a viable, modern Palestinian state.
There is nothing particularly ‘philosophical’ about this analysis as such, but today commonsense and fair-minded reasoning is too often absent in crisis situations… or in a state of panic. What little commongood thinking remains, needs to be defended, rebuilt and consolidated, to get as many intelligent people as possible to see the “still small voice” of reason.
CHRISTOPHER ORMELL 1st November 2023