Monday, January 24, 2005

How Little We Understand Ourselves

- 'Land grab' fears for Jerusalem, BBC World News, Jan. 24, 2005

It has been broadly accepted that the root cause of terrorism is "a sense of diminished expectations," and economist Hernando de Soto, President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, has done extensive work connecting that feeling to what he refers to as property "meta-rights," or the right to have property rights. With Ariel Sharon molting his hawk's feathers it seems strange that his new government should be assaulting these rights shown to be most connected to that sense of diminished expectations. That's exactly what they're doing, however, when Palestinians, living in the West Bank who can actually prove their ownership of property in East Jerusalem, are losing property to the government under an absentee landlord law not in active use for fifty years. Sharon's political life has been bet on one hand of poker with the Palestinians. Is he really stupid enough to trade in a pair of jacks in hopes of a flush? For the peace process to succeed the Palestinians have to have hope. This marks two serious strikes against him (the first being the early shut down of communications with the Abbas government). Let's hope that he and his new government can get their act together and comprehend that a mutually beneficial agreement doesn't mean that they get all the land, power, and prosperity alongside the peace.

1 comment:

Stuart Berman said...

I am having a tough time with this one for a couple reasons.

First I know Arik Sharon is not stupid, he has proven himself to be far more capable than most of us have imagined. His government is playing a hand which has not yet been revealed, this is very much part of smart middle eastern politics, I say wait and see.

I also am having a tough time with 'a sense of diminished expectations'. The leaders in these movements are often wealthy and driven by fairly high expectations. (Arafat having been one of the wealthiest men on the planet. And Osama not so poor either.) I could believe that what allows people to be sucked into these movements is some kind of disenfranchisement if not brainwashing. The history of modern Israel goes back to a time where the current excuses found no root. Arabs lived in relative harmony with Jews, the Jewish Agency purchased land from Arabs (often absentee landlords), The Turkish then the British Empire ruled the land - then the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan ran the West Bank as Egypt ruled Gaza. Yet as tensions grew (perhaps were provoked is a more accurate term) suitable excuses were always found, they sought a State, they chased us off the land, they occupied our land, they don't want us to have a State, we can't make peace with them... they don't want peace... they never wanted peace... It is a long story and the old solutions just don't ever seem to work which is why Barnett's shrink the gap is so appealing.