If we just focus on the events of the past few days, it may appear that a low point has been reached regarding America and Israel. However, if we stand back and look at things from a broader perspective, taking a historical view of things as it were, it is clear that great progress has been made. To understand this, we must go back about forty years.
In 1975, NBC broadcast a made-for-television movie called The UFO Incident, which I did not see at the time. People told me it was pretty good, however, so when the network decided to rerun the movie, I decided to watch it. It was based on a true story about a couple that said they were abducted by aliens, bits and pieces of which were recalled by them through hypnosis. Now, I don’t believe their story, but I do believe in good science fiction. I especially liked the part where the aliens put a needle in her navel as a pregnancy test, the idea of which causes me to wince every time. So, there I was enjoying the movie when it was interrupted by a special announcement about something having to do with Israel. I suppose it might have been the Camp David Accords, which would mean the year was 1978, but it might just as easily have been the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, which would mean the year was 1979. I don’t know, because I was so disgusted that my movie had been interrupted that I really wasn’t paying attention. So, I don’t know the year, and I don’t know the substance of the announcement, but I sure remember the movie I was watching. I had to wait a few more years before I could actually see the movie in full.
Those were the days before I had cable (it still had not come to my part of Houston by that time), and it was a time when most people did not yet have a VCR, including me. And so, my video entertainment depended on the three major networks and of a couple of local stations. Movies were edited for sex, violence, profanity, immorality, and time. Those were dark days. In other words, it was rare to have a good movie to watch on television, which meant that having a good movie interrupted by some news event was exasperating, especially a news event that I cared nothing about.
By the time of the 2000 Camp David Summit, the situation regarding Israel was much better. I had cable, providing me with lots of unedited movies, and there were video stores all over the place where I could rent movies in the forms of video cassettes, laser disks, and DVDs. I don’t even remember if ordinary broadcasting was interrupted with announcements about the summit, probably because I was watching a movie safe from interruptions. Today, things are better than ever. We have cable, Netflix, live streaming, DVRs, and so on and so forth. There is no longer any need to fear being molested by events concerning Israel.
When it comes to the news that matters, however, our cup runneth over. We no longer need depend on the evening news, but have news coverage and talk shows around the clock. And that is fine, because there is a lot going on in the world that does matter and in which I take an interest. But not Israel.
You see, way back in the 1970s, when my movie was interrupted, I remember thinking at the time that it was all pointless, that it was never going to end, that it was just the same old nonsense being churned over and over again. Nothing that has happened in the almost forty years since has changed my mind.
I hate to think anyone is still under any illusions on this matter, but just in case there is, I shall lay it down right here and now, once and for all, that Israel will never give back the West Bank. Never! But it would be crude for the Israelis to say as much, however, so they have said and will continue to say that they are willing to enter into negotiations on the matter when the time is right and when certain conditions have been met.
Furthermore, I again assume that no one is under any illusions on this point, but just in case, I also aver that American politicians know that Israel is never going to give back the West Bank. But it would be crude for them to say as much, so they have said and will continue to say that America wants to help negotiate a two-state solution that will involve a return of territory in the West Bank as a place for the Palestinians to have their own state.
When I was in college, I sometimes went on a date with a girl in which I knew before the evening was out that we were not suitable for each other. However, I thought it might hurt her feelings if I never called her back. So, typically, on the following Thursday, I would call her up and ask her if she would like to go on a date that Saturday. It was my hope, of course, that she would say no. Never once was I disappointed. Invariably, the girl would say that she would like to go out, but she already had a date. I flattered her by pretending to want to go out with her again, and she saved my ego by telling me she already had plans. This was much nicer than my implying that I didn’t want to date her again, or her saying that she didn’t want to date me again, which was the truth.
Actually, a better analogy would be a date arranged by family or friends, in which the boy and girl not only have to worry about each other’s feelings, but also have to be considerate of those family and friends who are observers, as it were. To make the analogy even better, the boy would call the girl every Thursday for a date that Saturday, and every Thursday she would say she already had plans, and in this manner they would pretend to want to date each other for forty years. Similarly, with the rest of the world watching, Israeli and American politicians have pretended to want to negotiate a solution for the Palestinian people for over forty years, so that feelings will be assuaged all around.
The only problem with all this is that owing to the fact that everyone really knows that Israel will never negotiate a two-state solution and will never give back the West Bank, talk of such is pointless and boring. No progress has been made on that nor ever will be. But, whereas the movies we watched on television were once greatly threatened by events concerning Israel, thanks to modern technology, we no longer need to fear having our movies interrupted by the pointless and boring Middle-East pas de deux. And that is progress indeed.