Tel Aviv – Ten years ago, on Israel’s 50th anniversary, the peace process begun by the path-breaking Oslo accord, reached by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1993, established the legitimacy of two peoples’ national existence in their shared homeland on the basis of territorial compromise. There was a general feeling that this long conflict was being resolved.
Unfortunately, the past ten years have witnessed a painful setback in many areas. Individuals and peoples are capable of enduring difficulties if there is a sense that the future will be better and conflicts resolved. But a sudden backward regression can lead to despair, which we feel today.
Why is it that struggles far more complex than the Israel-Arab conflict – apartheid in South Africa, the partition of Germany, or the collapse of the Soviet Union – all seem to have been resolved, usually without bloodshed, whereas the Middle East conflict, after more than a century, claims more victims every day?
One reason is that this conflict is unparalleled in human history. There is no other example of a nation that returned after a 2,000-year absence to a territory that it never stopped regarding as its homeland. So it is no wonder that the Arabs, especially the Palestinians, remain unable to comprehend, existentially or morally, what has befallen them.