Mapping a Way Forward


Published January 26, 2011, issue of February 04, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share

There is always reason for despair when it comes to the prospect of a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and there’s no sense in enumerating why. The evidence is obvious. Those of us buoyed by each new attempt to jumpstart talks too often feel like Jets fans at the beginning of football season, bound for disappointment.

So maybe the maps and the papers will amount to nothing. But maybe, just maybe, not.

The maps are a pile of color-coded, detailed plans researched and released by David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a centrist think tank, suggesting three scenarios for creating a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders while disrupting as few Jewish settlements as possible. The driving principle is a one-to-one land swap; that is, if a settlement in the West Bank is to remain part of Israel, then a commensurate amount of Israeli land will become part of the new Palestinian state.

Makovsky argues that this can be done with Israel annexing no more than 4.73% of the occupied territories, a share that he believes is within an acceptable range for Palestinians. The details on these maps are quite debatable, as is the very notion that borders can be settled without also tackling the core issues of Jerusalem, refugees and security. But summarily dismissing these legitimate proposals only hastens another season of disappointment. Makovsky says he wanted to show that it can be done, that solutions are imaginable, and he’s right. They are.

The simultaneous (though coincidental) release of what have been called “the Palestine papers” also could be another bit of frustrating news. Or maybe not. The leaked documents purport to illustrate the concessions that Palestinian leaders were willing to accept during negotiations in 2008. The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV network presumably hoped that the Palestinian public would be furious at their leaders over these revelations, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Instead, these papers could serve a useful purpose if they prepare Palestinians for the sacrifices they will have to make for peace to be achieved, and if they persuade Israelis and their supporters that the Palestinians are, indeed, willing to sacrifice.

In this fraught environment, optimists run the risk of looking silly. Or they may end up being prescient.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach!
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.