Friday, December 05, 2003

Daniel Pipes At UBC: The Speech 

The topic of Dr. Pipes' speech was "War in the Holy Land: Where do we go from here?" While I have read enough of Dr. Pipes' writing to find common ground with what he said, I still found the speech to be an enlightening experience.

The speech was divided into two parts: how did the current crisis in Israel come about, and how can we resolve the situation there.

Dr. Pipes begins with what he sees as the two mistakes with the Oslo process: In a sense, I'm not new to these ideas, and I feel the same way. But the conclusion that Dr. Pipes leads to is something that most people, including myself, have not really accepted in our hearts, even if we think that we believe what he concludes.

Dr. Pipes challenges us to take a paradigm shift: there is a war, and the only way out is for one side to give up on its objective, whether it be for the Israelis to pack up and leave their country, or for the Palestinians to stop aiming to destroy Israel. Everything we hear right now about trying to solve the whole mess, whether it be diplomacy, security walls, even the extreme view of Palestinian deportation out of the territories, the truth is that none of these things will end this conflict. The Palestinian people need to be learn unequivocally that Israel is here to stay and that it deserves to be. Stopgap security measures might lessen Israel's bleeding, but the bleeding will continue. And as for diplomacy and negotiations, it is much too early to be chatting "final status" when the first priority is survival on a national and personal level.

Take, for instance, my various carpings and ravings on the Geneva "Accord". Dr. Pipes doesn't care: any diplomacy before the Palestinians accept Israel's existence is premature and doomed to failure. Palestinian state? Doesn't concern him (yet). The Allies didn't debate the nature of the post-WWII governments of Germany and Japan: why is the present any different?

Dr. Pipes was emphatic, but fair. He points out that the current violence hurts Palestinians more than it hurts Israelis. They are the ones whose economy is in shambles (Israel, historicall the largest employer of Palestinians, has been forced to cut them off), whose children run off to blow themselves up in discotheques and marketplaces, whose terrorist ways have forced the IDF to install checkpoints and now the security wall. Therefore, it would help the Palestinians even more than the Israelis that Palestinians renounce their objective of destroying Israel.

And my IAC colleague Lenora was right: Dr. Pipes does have an excellent speaking voice.
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