Monday, June 06, 2005

When, about ten years ago, Shimon Peres told us about his vision of a New Middle East, he was jeered at by many Israelis, and I must say that that was not entirely unjustified. His belief that as soon as the Palestinians would have an economy and state of their own peace would conquer the entire region was naive and shortsighted. Many suicide bombings and other events and developments in the Middle and Far East, the US and Europe before and after 9/11 have taught us and the rest of the world that what faces us and many other countries is a conflict with not only the Palestinians, and that instead of "It's ( only ) the economy, stupid!", like Peres tried to convince us, we should say "It's the occupation/economy/Islamism/religious fundamentalism in general/a lack of democracy and abundance of tyranny in almost all Muslim countries/absence of vision and true leadership in most Western countries etc., etc., stupid!".
Nevertheless, it is obvious that in order to end the current impasse and to create a more promising future for the peoples in the Middle East ( and thereby for the rest of the world ), a viable state and flourishing economy for the Palestinians would be vital. According to this article in Ha'Aretz even Ariel Sharon, who was one of the biggest jeerers of Peres a decade ago, recognizes today that the most central element of Oslo - freedom and prosperity for the Palestinians as the key to a peaceful solution to 'the' conflict - was not totally unfounded. Now a balance has to be found between optimism and a certain naivety on the one hand and realism on the other. If the last decade has proven anything, it is that neither an unbridled trust and baseless hope nor total distrust and absolute cynicism get us anywhere.

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