Monday, May 3, 2010

Kai Bird's Jerusalem

Two pieces from Kai Bird. First, an interview from NPR. As noted in the interview, he begins with an "Arab" perspective. His father was an Arabist, and he has many Palestinian friends. However, his wife was the child of Holocaust survivors, and he slowly came to understand the Jewish perspective somewhat better. Unfortunately, in the interview he describes both sides as victimized without recognizing how both sides continue to be victimized. And the host claims that millenialist groups are dominant on both sides. Though we could debate the significance of Hamas (and it's millenialist tendencies) among Palestinians, they have significant institutional power and the millenialist attitude cannot be ignored. However, it's untrue to say that of Israeli society, where security concerns are absolutely dominant and millenialism amounts to a tiny segment of society. But, with these reservations, people should listen to the interview.

Then, also read his op-ed in the NYTImes. It's biggest flaw is that it fails to mention his perspective. *East Jerusalem is not like the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.* It is more sensitive, and damage to the peace process by building in East Jerusalem is less easily reversed. I don't generally agree that settlement activity makes a two-state solution impossible; without a negotiated solution, Israel is likely to impose a unilateral solution, as with Gaza, by withdrawing inside the security barrier. The changed borders and new conditions would be less than ideal but wouldn't prevent an eventual peace. However, changes in Jerusalem are a much bigger deal.

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