Wallerstein Articles

Wallerstein Articles

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The “After Arafat, Arafat II?” article discusses the dilemma that has occurred in the Palestinian Authority now that Yasir Arafat has died. Both Bush and Israel’s Ariel Sharon described Yasir Arafat as being an “insurmountable obstacle to peace.” Some wonder whether Mahmoud Abbas’s election as the president of the Palestine Authority will bring about positive changes to the Israeli-Palestine peace agreements. Although Sharon and Bush approve of Abbas, some still wonder whether or not this new appointment will provide new possibilities for the agreement between Palestine and Israel. Both sides have such strong fears. The Israelis are afraid that the Israel state as a Jewish state will be destroyed. The Palestinians fear that Palestine as a viable state will never be created. The lack of a solution is not due to the fact that there is an obstacle for one, but rather that there is an absence of one. Arafat failed to achieve a solution, so it is up to Abbas to try and do what Arafat was unable to.

I agree with the argument presented in Wallerstein’s article. Arafat did fail to find a peace agreement between Palestine and Israel, but condemning him as an “obstacle to peace” is extreme. Any Palestinian could just as easily argue that Israel and Sharon are impeding on their peace as a people. The fear that Abbas will become another Arafat is perfectly legitimate and understandable. At the same time I think it is a bit presumptuous to expect Abbas to establish the agreement between Palestine and Israel. In all the years that Arafat was president, he was unable to make these necessary changes. The only way that a peace agreement between the two can be reached is if both leaders agree with the terms. Currently, nobody wants to agree, and therefore there is no peace agreement.

Neither Israel nor Palestine wants to compromise or sacrifice certain things in order for this agreement to happen. I think that bother leaders are in a lose-lose situation. If they are able to create an agreement between Israel and Palestine, somebody will be unhappy. It is nearly impossible to please both everybody without a compromise of some sort. More than likely, either leader will have to sacrifice something, which will then upset their people.

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If Abbas is unable to forge an agreement, the United States and Israel will label him as “Arafat II.” I think that the best that anybody can hope for are negotiations between the two, which will probably not make a significant change in the immediate future. The only power than can intervene is the United States, and Bush will not separate from Israel. Even if Abbas is able to make definite changes but maybe not arise at an agreement between Israel and Palestine, he will still be reprimanded. This article is biased in the sense that it makes it sound like it is entirely Palestine and Arafat’s fault for the current lack of a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.

The fact is that it will take compromises on both fronts for any significant changes to be made in the peace process. If Israel will not agree to also compromise for the sake of peace, then there will never be peace. Although it looks nearly impossible for a peace agreement between Palestine and Israel, it is not completely hopeless. Wallerstein compared the Israel/Palestine conflict to the one that was taking place in South Africa. He was certain that it was impossible to find a solution to the South African conflict. In fact, a compromise was established in only four years in South Africa. One must wonder whether or not it is possible for Israel and Palestine to come to a similar compromise. It will not be easy, but I think that it is possible. If both leaders have the same yearning for peace, then hopefully they will realize that a compromise is the only was to solve the conflict. Sharon refuses to give up the West bank and East Jerusalem, and Abbas refuses to imprison violent Palestinians. Each leader believes that their actions are the correct ones. At this point, it seems that the United States is the only power that can help this situation. I think that Sharon and Abbas need to negotiate- if Abbas will imprison violent Palestinians, maybe Sharon will be more inclined to give up the West Bank. I’m sure there have many negotiations much like this, but I think it is hard for Americans to truly understand the situation at hand.

I personally believe that the Palestinians have every right to have their own nation. Before Israel was established, there was Palestine. I think that this should still be so. At the same time, I can understand where the Israelis are coming from. I sometimes doubt that there will ever be a nation called Palestine. There is not an easy solution, for if there was it would have already been discovered.
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