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Black September Redux – Live from New York!

Those who don’t learn from history, said the philosopher George Santayana, are doomed to repeat it. The danger of that maxim becoming a reality, both for the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples, is looming ever so large; and with it comes the same certainty that after the hot summer days the fall will come. It will come double entendre, this time, because the leaders of these nations prefer to be proud not wise; timid not bold; stuck-up not compromising. It goes back a long, long way, of course. But let us direct our memory back to the recent history, and revisit the original Black September.

Following the Six-Day war in June of 1967 – a war I fought in as a young Israeli soldier – the victorious Israelis captured Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan (among other lands). The Jordanians did not show much resistance, in war as in giving up easily on the occupied territory. These events, however, conflated with action and reaction from both sides, gave birth to the Palestinian national aspirations, and their major guerilla fighting force: the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization). Though most Palestinians remained in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, some fled across the Jordan River to the Kingdom of Jordan. It was from there that they began their arm struggle against Israel, who of course retaliated, forcing the Jordanian army to react as well. It was in September of 1970 when after a fierce fight and many dead, the Hashemite Kingdom regained control over its land and forced the Palestinians out of Jordan, and into Lebanon (more wars to follow, naturally); hence the title Black September.

Since then some things have changed, and some have not. Israel continued its occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, declaring the city the eternal capital of the Jewish people, while at the same time changing facts in the land, by building cities and settlements throughout the West Bank, and populating it with some 500,000 Jewish settlers. The Palestinian people continued to suffer under the occupation, and yet through much fighting and some diplomacy, gained acceptance and legitimation, nationally and internationally, and some limited control over the lives of their people. In Gaza, in fact, they gained complete control over the people, and of the land to a limited degree.

What remains for the Israelis to achieve is peace and security (prosperity they have), and for the Palestinian international recognition as a state among the states, and gaining complete control over the West Bank and East Jerusalem (as their capital), and unification with Gaza to a one entity state. But since Israel refuses to stop settling the West Bank, give back the land and share Jerusalem – Netanyahu just termed the conflict between Israel and Palestine “insoluble” – the Palestinians, headed by Abbas, the Palestinian Authority President, have decided to unilaterally bring the recognition of The Palestinian State to a vote at the general assembly of the U.N in New York come September.

Now everybody is shaking in their boots with fear (see my post of two months ago: Wild Mideast Saloon). The Palestinians are afraid that the have climbed on a too high a tree without a way to get down unbroken. In other words, they stopped negotiating and put all their cards and hopes on a move that probably – but no, not absolutely – would fail, since it has to go first through the Security Council, where America is expected to veto it. Thereafter, there will be no state and no negotiations for the Palestinians, only more of the same and maybe worse. Israel is afraid that somehow this move will succeed, and that even if it won’t – but most certainly if it would – it will further isolate Israel internationally, economically and culturally, with implications that in the long run are not rosy at all. The American are worried that by blocking this move – a move that in essence they support, since they support, as President Obama declared recently, an Independent Palestine state in pre 1967 borders, with mutually agreed land swaps – it will further isolate America too in the eyes of the majority of nations. It will also blow away any chances of reconciliation with the Arab world, and of playing a major role in shaping the Arab spring, with many dangers to follow from the Muslim world as result of that.

Therefore: Either the Obama administration succeeds in his latest efforts (fat chance, in my opinion, but all’s possible) to restart peace negotiations between the two sides, or miraculously, as Thomas Friedman has suggested lately in a NY Times op-ed piece, the Security Council would update and adapt anew the 181 resolution from November 29, 1947, which gave birth to the state of Israel, partitioning Palestine into two homes for two peoples – described as “Independent Arab and Jewish States.” As a result, fulfilling the promise of that resolution and giving birth at last to the Arab, Palestine State, alongside the Jewish, Israel State. Or, lack of this optimistic, crimson new dawn – it will be a Black September all over again.


3 Responses

  1. It would be a Black September Redux for the Palestinians, Damron, for once you hit the mark. As for peace, forgrt it; all they’re interested is the destruction of Israel.

  2. Oh my friend,,,,,,,, it is the Palestinians who never learn from history. And they also show a lack of common sense and ability to see the obvious. For many years, I have been daring them to declare a state. Why? Because it puts Israel in the driver’s seat. Look what happened in Gaza with this quasi-state. They engaged war-like activities from across their border and paid for it dearly with a mini-war that ravaged them. That’s exactly what’s in store for them if they fail to control their terrorist gangs after they declare a state. Their terrorists have a significant amount of world sympathy because of people like using the term “occupation”. That will disappear because their actions will be perceived as being condoned by the government. But they have a much worse problem that affects daily living. Their so-called leaders siphoned off billions of aid dollars that was intended for power plants, water treatment, etc. They are extremely dependent on Israel. So why bother with this discussion until they are ready to accept their defeat and sign a peace treaty?

    • As for Black September, it was indeed intended as a metaphor, first and foremost for the Palestinians, but not exclusively. As for making peace, it takes two to tango!

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