An Ethnic Conflict and a Continuing Conquest

Article excerpt

The American Task Force on Palestine, the Foundation for Middle East Peace and Churches for Middle East Peace co-hosted a talk entitled "Israel and Palestine: The Shiftfrom Border Struggle to Ethnic Conflict, and Israel's Continuing Conquest of East Jerusalem." The March 23 event took place at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC.

Menachem Klein, a political science professor at Israel's Bar-Ilan University and author of The Shift, spoke about how the Palestinian and Israeli conflict has transformed from a border struggle to a "no-negotiating ethnic conflict." The current situation "is working" for Israel, he emphasized. It has worked for 12 years, since the onset of the second intifada, and will continue to work because Israel is the de facto single power in the region.

Klein's list of grievances against the Israeli regime-"I cannot call it a state"-included everything from illegal settlements to "price tag gangs" of settlers. Israel's separation barrier, he argued, "is not a border," but a tool to control an ethnicity. Klein described the Palestinian Authority as a "security sub-contractor" for Israel, providing another form of control without forcing Israel to grant "geographic concessions." Lacking a similar sub-contractor in Hamas, Klein said, Israel found a way to contain it by blockading the Gaza Strip.

Two more factors Klein cited as working in Israel's favor are the passivity of both the Palestinians and the international community. He described both as tired, fatigued, and unsure of what to do next. With peace talks halted and no "plan B" in place, Klein called the two-state solution "the less worst situation for the Middle East"-even though many believe it is too late for that. …


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