Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

The Old Men of Israel and Palestine must go

By David James - posted Wednesday, 15 May 2002

The madness consuming the Middle East demands we stand back, and find answers to this question: if history is the expression of the choices people make, what are the choices the Israelis and Palestinians have made and why did they make them?

And a central, perplexing question underpinning the dreadful mayhem is: ‘Why did Yasser Arafat seemingly snatch war from the jaws of peace, in July, 2000?’

Ehud Barak, then Prime Minister of Israel, made Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian people a significant offer: support for the creation of a State of Palestine within the boundaries of the UN Conventions, withdrawal of Israeli settlers, a capital in Jerusalem, and ‘religious sovereignty’ over the Temple Mount area.


It was more than many Israelis were even prepared to contemplate. Whilst the offer was not clearly delineated and could have been stronger, it was a considerable advance on the status quo, and any other previous Israeli offer.

Yet Arafat rejected the offer. Why?

Perhaps it simply reveals that a Palestinian state was never Arafat’s goal; perhaps he and the PLO are actually dedicated to the complete elimination of Israel; and that their rejection of Barak’s offer reveals this truth in an undeniable way. If the elimination of Israel is Arafat’s true agenda, it supports the Israeli response, which is ‘If it is us or them, it won’t be us!’ A scenario for the Israelis, then, of ‘Let loose then the dogs of war, close your ears to the screaming of the children, and make sure we have the biggest gun’.

This reality is self evidently wrong, in any moral or ethical sense. But what are the alternatives? Would a different analysis give rise to different options? This is not a question for academic musing or philosophical exploration; there are people dying on both sides every other day.

An Israeli soldier makes his decision to pull the trigger to kill the Palestinian in his sights through his telescopic lens in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This decision is an expression of the decision he made when joining the Army. And his decision is the result of the decision made by his Government to go to war. A Palestinian teenager straps death to her stomach, and makes her decisions for the same reason, through the same chain of events.

We must therefore look to the highest context, to where the chain of events starts. There are people in control, the Old Men: Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat.



Arafat is a general-of-war, not a governor-of-peace. He and his cabal know best how to wage war; it is all they have ever done the whole of their lives. Arafat started his career with the founding of the Fatah organisation in 1965, later merged with the PLO. He and his cabinet do not know how to sustain peace; they have tried this and failed.

When Arafat accepted the humiliating 1994 Peace Accord, of the segmenting of his people into the Gaza Strip and ghettos of the West Bank, he achieved respite for an exhausted and defeated people He, with Rabin and Peres also won a Nobel Peace Prize. Fatally, however, it did nothing to alter the status of the Palestinian people as victims, and the role of Israel as the oppressor. The Peace Accord did not dissolve the glue, which binds the Palestinian people, and binds the Arab world to the Palestinians. For his part, Rabin was short-sighted in not seeing that he had done no more than had been achieved by the Treaty of Versailles: planting the seeds of a new war in the battle grounds of the old.

Having brokered a poor peace, Arafat then made a poor governor. The Palestinian Authority under his leadership made a hash of government: the transition from Army to Civilian Authority failed.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

David E. James is based in Brisbane, Australia and is currently writing I Just Want My Children to be Happy as a father of three young people. It is due for publication in 2006.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by David James
Related Links
Australian Labor Party
Liberal Party of Australia
Young Liberals
Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy