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How to Make Israeli Palestinian Peace Summit Succeed
October 16, 2007 1:35 AM   Subscribe

The greybeards of the U.S. foreign policy establishment have spoken out to the Bush Administration telling it what it needs to do to have a successful Mideast peace summit: advocate a return to '67 borders, Jerusalem as capital of two states, solution of refugee problem with financial compensation to Palestinians, security guarantees for Israel. Signatories of the statement include Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Nancy Kassebaum, Carla Hills, Thomas Pickering, Ted Sorensen and Paul Volcker. A pretty formidable bunch.

Here are the particulars:

* Two states, based on the lines of June 4, 1967, with minor, reciprocal, and agreed-upon modifications as expressed in a 1:1 land swap;
* Jerusalem as home to two capitals, with Jewish neighborhoods falling under Israeli sovereignty and Arab neighborhoods under Palestinian sovereignty;
* Special arrangements for the Old City, providing each side control of its respective holy places and unimpeded access by each community to them;
* A solution to the refugee problem that is consistent with the two-state solution, addresses the Palestinian refugees' deep sense of injustice, as well as provides them with meaningful financial compensation and resettlement assistance;
* Security mechanisms that address Israeli concerns while respecting Palestinian sovereignty.
posted by richards1052 (87 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
This solution fails to take into account the unacceptable, devastating losses that the oil companies would suffer if peace somehow broke out in the middle east.
posted by mullingitover at 2:00 AM on October 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Jerusalem as the capital of two states? that's pretty enticing in an iconoclastic kind of way. worth it just to see my political science lectures squirm! ;)

seriously though, thanks for the link - very interesting
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 2:02 AM on October 16, 2007


Shitstorm in five, four, three, two, one...
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:04 AM on October 16, 2007


How to Make Israeli Palestinian Peace Summit Succeed

I think I know how this film ends. Something happens to make it not succeed. Both sides blame each other. And nothing happens. 60 years of this same script. It's really getting quite boring.

A pretty formidable bunch.

Who all surely must know that the very unformidable Dr. Rice does not have the strength to move this object, let alone lift it out of the mud in which has been mired for decades.
posted by three blind mice at 2:06 AM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


There's trouble in the Mideast? If so, this will surely solve it.
posted by aerotive at 2:10 AM on October 16, 2007


It really does feel that lately a tide has been turning against the Likudnik death grip on the Palestine discourse. I think it's post-Iraq, but I don't know why it's happened.
posted by stammer at 2:11 AM on October 16, 2007


If it's so straightforward and easy and obvious, why didn't those people take care of it when they were in the executive branch?

A solution to the refugee problem that is consistent with the two-state solution, addresses the Palestinian refugees' deep sense of injustice, as well as provides them with meaningful financial compensation and resettlement assistance...

That one's the kicker, and they're being extremely vague about just what the "solution" would be. That's because there is no solution that both the Israelis and Palestinians would both agree on. The Palestinians insist on the "right of return" and that is the one concession Israel will never make.

There will be no peace agreement until the Palestinians abandon their demand for the "right of return". And it would be suicide (and I mean that literally) for any major Palestinian politician to advocate abandoning the demand for the "right of return", or agreeing to abandon it as part of a negotiated settlement.

But there's one other problem:

Security mechanisms that address Israeli concerns while respecting Palestinian sovereignty.

That, too, is nicely vague -- because there's no obvious way to do it.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:21 AM on October 16, 2007


This solution fails to take into account the unacceptable, devastating losses that the oil companies would suffer if peace somehow broke out in the middle east.

Explain.
posted by atrazine at 2:22 AM on October 16, 2007


Atrazine:

if the price of oil goes up, it's obviously a plot by the oil companies to increase their profits.

If the price of oil goes down, it's obviously a plot by the oil companies to get people to use more oil, and not consider alternatives.

If the price of oil stays the same, it's obviously a plot by the oil companies, who are manipulating the market to keep it stable.

And if anything causes a change in the price of oil, then it's obviously a plot by the oil companies for one of the above reasons.

See? Isn't that obvious?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:30 AM on October 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


Zero, nada, no chance the Israelis will share Jerusalem, despite recent "trial balloons" by Deputy Vice Prime Minister Haim Ramon. Most Israelis don't support such a partition scheme; that way, they believe, lie monsters, and a security situation that would make present day Baghdad look like a schoolyard merry-go-round.

Putting such a goal in the base position document, issued before the opening of a such a conference, pretty much guarantees the Israelis start on the defensive, and don't seriously negotiate. If you wanted to make sure nothing substantive came from this meeting, that would be a fine thing to introduce, Day One.
posted by paulsc at 2:39 AM on October 16, 2007


Would getting out Iraq and the 'Stan add any credibility?
posted by pax digita at 2:42 AM on October 16, 2007


And if anything causes a change in the price of oil, then it's obviously a plot by the oil companies for one of the above reasons.

Are you suggesting that oil companies control the price of oil? LOL.
posted by mek at 2:43 AM on October 16, 2007


SCDB hits it, sadly. The really hard things are the two major, vague points at the end, and that part is handwaving.

Maybe Israel will be open to some of these things though. That would be pretty neat. I'm encouraged that the signatories favor pre-Six Day War boundaries, but ... I'm not going to hold my breath
posted by blacklite at 2:43 AM on October 16, 2007


From paulsc's article:
"It's almost a mantra that Jerusalem will never be divided," Ackerman said. "Israel would have to get an exceptional, critical return for even suggesting this," he said. "And that would be total recognition by the international community and normalization of relations."
That sounds doable, you know, I think a lot of people would be relieved to be able to consider normalizing relations with Israel, but I think he underestimates what Israel would need to consider this sort of thing.
posted by blacklite at 2:47 AM on October 16, 2007


It really does feel that lately a tide has been turning against the Likudnik death grip on the Palestine discourse. I think it's post-Iraq, but I don't know why it's happened.

I think a big part of the reason is this.

Of course, it might not be fair to say that Israel "lost", or that Hizbollah "won", per se, but that both parties fought to a stalemate without any decisive victory. But in the military and political calculus of the middle east, a "stalemate" for Israel is indistinguishable from a "loss".

At the end of the day (or 34 days, I guess) Leabanon was razed almost to the ground, Hizbollah lost a thousand (highly expendable) fighters, but still remained intact, while the two missing Israeli soldiers remained missing (or, more likely) dead. Also, a new generation of formerly moderate Lebanese youth with grow up with a burning, white-hot hatred of Israel.

The realization among Israelis that even a concerted military campaign into Lebanon couldn't wipe out Hizbollah was probably a wake-up-call, I think. Sure, they can bomb the shit out of apartment buildings and radar sites like a pro, but thats not going to stop Hizbollah, or Iran for that matter. America can't really come to Israel's rescue either, as about half our Army is bogged down in another little briar patch.

Basically, when the dust settled over Lebanon in 2006, the Israelis realized that Iran, Hizbollah, the Palestinians, everybody -- are here to stay -- just like the Israelis have been saying that they're "here to stay" for the past 60 years or so. Thanks to their debacle in Lebanon (and our debacle in Iraq), we (the West) now realize that no amount of Western military might is going to dislodge radical Islam from the middle east. Theres going to have to be some kind of negotiated peace. Either that or perpetual war.

As for me, I think 60 years of perpetual war is long enough.
posted by Avenger at 3:04 AM on October 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yeah, unfortunately the "plan" outlined above is 100% equivalent to the longstanding internet joke along the lines of

1) Have great idea.
2) ???????
3) Profit!

Anybody can propose finding a solution that addresses both Israeli security and Palestinian sovereignty. It's coming up with the details that is the hard part.

But perhaps I'm being too harsh. In the spirit of the thing here is my plan for addressing global warming: Transition from an oil based economy to a fusion based economy. Wheeee, this is fun!
posted by Justinian at 3:07 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, unfortunately the "plan" outlined above is 100% equivalent to the longstanding internet joke....

For god's sake, man. It's underpants all the way down. Get it right.
posted by rokusan at 3:17 AM on October 16, 2007


"... As for me, I think 60 years of perpetual war is long enough."
posted by Avenger at 6:04 AM on October 16

For you, yes, and for me. But in the Middle East, 60 years is nothing.

I was sitting outdoors in Bethlehem in 1977, having coffee with an Israeli friend in front of an Arab cafe, discussing Middle East history, when I said that I thought some accommodation between Israelis and Arabs, such as had then become de facto daily life in largely Arab communities like Bethlehem, would eventually become common. My Israeli friend grinned, and said something in Arabic to the old, wizened Arab man bringing us coffee. The old man shook his head, and said something back to my friend, and the Israeli laughed ruefully. Seeing that I didn't understand the Arabic exchange, he motioned for the Arab to wait, and asked, in English, for my benefit:

"Old father," my Israeli friend said to the Arab "when do you think we will have peace in the Middle East?"

The Arab pointed across the small square, down a road where we could see a small grove of olive trees. "When scarab shit doesn't make olive trees." he said, in thickly accented British English.

I didn't get it, and I must have looked confused. My friend said the old man had commented that olive trees can't grow in bare sand, they need water and some richer soil than mere sand to grow. And that, for 3000 years, people had been coming to Bethlehem, disagreeing, fighting, and dying, whereupon the scarab beetles recycled their blood and bones into scarab shit, and eventually, into whole groves of olive trees. And anybody who has been to Bethlehem will know that there are many, many fine groves of olive trees all about the place.

So I think of 500 year old groves of olive trees, and the slow but constant work of scarab beetles, whenever discussions of Middle East peace arise.
posted by paulsc at 3:53 AM on October 16, 2007 [20 favorites]


Trees may last for a thousand years, but human beings don't usually make a hundred. We are only ever a generation away from peace. Unfortunately a single human generation is usually time enough for many major fuckups.
posted by mek at 4:09 AM on October 16, 2007


Put me in the camp that finds the vagueness of the last two points discouraging. They're specific right up to there, and then its like they realized that they *couldn't* get specific, becuase really how can you do those last two?

Prior to Bush's War (TM) its possible that the last could be guaranteed, or at least look guaranteed, by a binding defense treaty with the US that promised the whole might of the US military would come down on any nation that attacked Israel [1]. Today I think people would just snicker if that were proposed. Thanks again Republicans.

And the penultimate point is equally vague, and equally important. If Palistine is actually a sovreign nation it has the right to set its own immegration policy, and its hard to argue that people who've been living in refugee camps for decades shouldn't get a proper home again. Its also easy to see how a policy that brought all the refugees back into Palistine would make Israel justifiably nervous, hell justifiably paranoid. Too many refugees, and not enough Palistine to hold them.

OTOH, those are important issues, they *will* come up at any serious peace talk, so I fail to see how laying them out right from the beginning is a bad thing. It's going to be impossible to really talk peace unless you address Israel's security, the status of Palistinian refugees, etc.

I'm also cynical about the seriousness of both the Israli and Palistinain elites when it comes to peace. The perpetual war has worked out very well for the elites of both sides. Hell, the Israli elites have used the war as a justification for enacting a nation that essentially has no civil rights, a nation where torture of suspects by the police is openly admitted and considered routine (boggle), this is something that the elites in the US can only look at with undisguised envy, and I find it difficult to believe that short of a revolution by the non-elite Isralis they'll ever give that up.

On the Palistinian side it looks even worse, if such a thing is possible. The entirity of the elite group is composed of revolutionary leaders, and they know damn well that they a) don't know squat about running a nation at peace, and b) have no cred outside the "we can kick Israli ass!" revolutionary cred. Peace would, inevitably, mean an end to their power and importance.

Which means that for the people negotiating there's really no benefit to peace. Sure, it'd mean that the peons weren't getting killed anymore, but I think the elites on both sides have proven, time and again, that they simply don't care. And, of course, they can continue to say to the peons on their respective sides, "well, we tried but those warmongering [Isralis/Palistinians] want to kill you and drink your blood, so we'll need another round of [cuts to civil rights/martyrs to sacrifice themselves for the cause]."

I hope I'm being too cynical, but I really doubt it.
posted by sotonohito at 4:31 AM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Before the establishment of Israel wasn't the last war in Palestine in 1840?

Claiming that there was war there 3000 years ago and that there has been continuous war there since is like saying that there there has been continuous war in Europe for 3000 years.

Indeed, just looking around at Palestine, before the end of the Ottoman Empire and the British and French colonization and subsequent creation of Israel it seems the area had been more peaceful than Europe for several hundred years.
posted by sien at 4:56 AM on October 16, 2007


This outline would be much more acceptable if a few of the major arab states pushed it, ie, the arb league. As for the Return, of course a sticking point. How can you offer statehood and then also offer a second home within Israel? Of course it might be noted that some 800 thousand Jews were kicked out or fled arab lands after 1948, but I assume they are not interested in a Return. But compensation to make things equal or to cancel out each other?

Sticking point: Hamas, which still insists on destroying Israel.
posted by Postroad at 5:21 AM on October 16, 2007


The details in the last two points are necessarily vague because it is the job of the attendees to work it out. They are too detailed for a high level letter like this. To suggest the problems are intractable discounts the entire process.
posted by stbalbach at 6:01 AM on October 16, 2007


Are we still following the road map?
We are setting out the necessary conditions for progress toward the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. It is the commitment of our government -- and my personal commitment -- to implement the road map and to reach that goal.
That was February 2003. This push is a day late and a dollar short attempt to try to get a positive accomplishment for President Bush's legacy. If he was really personally committed, he would've done something in the intervening four and a half years.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:22 AM on October 16, 2007


Bush?

Well they ought to tell Hillary, who the other day declared our unconditional support Israel, an Israel with sole ownership of Jerusalem. In fact, I'm pretty sure this puts her to the right of Bush on Israel, in words, at least, if not in actions.
posted by delmoi at 6:23 AM on October 16, 2007


sien: Before the establishment of Israel wasn't the last war in Palestine in 1840?

If you don't count 1917, 1936-1939, 1940, or 1947.
posted by blahblahblah at 6:32 AM on October 16, 2007


Remind me again why America should give a crap about what happens in Israel. For the life of me I can't figure why we care more about Israel than we do about say, Zaire or Luxembourg.

Honestly, it perplexes me.
posted by SPUTNIK at 6:41 AM on October 16, 2007


The French and British were at each others' throats for about a thousand years; now they're not.

(Though Calais was not as thorny a problem as Jerusalem).

The point isn't that peace is inevitable, just that it's possible, despite the points that people like paulsc and SCDB are making.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:41 AM on October 16, 2007


Sticking point: Hamas, which still insists on destroying Israel.

Is that so surprising, given that Israel still insists on destroying Hamas? I mean, we forced democracy on the Palestinians, and gave them a choice between the Hamas vs. the absurdly Corrupt Fatah party, they chose Hamas, and Israel decided they would no longer negotiate. Now, perhaps Hamas would have been willing to drop it's demand for Israels 'destruction', but we'll never know, will we.

It's almost like someone doesn't want a the peace process to go forward.
posted by delmoi at 6:46 AM on October 16, 2007


So I think of 500 year old groves of olive trees, and the slow but constant work of scarab beetles, whenever discussions of Middle East peace arise.

That's a nice story, but it's so much bullshit. There was plenty of war in Europe over the centuries, and the idea that the middle east is somehow "special" in terms of historic violence is really obnoxious. "They've been fighting for thousands of years!" is such a cop out.

If you don't count 1917, 1936-1939, 1940, or 1947.

So before the creation of Israel, there were six years of war in the 20th century, two relating to European wars, and one which basically formed Israel (as the British withdrew).
posted by delmoi at 6:56 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


You don't have to know the history of the middle east to know that two nations sharing the same capital is completely preposterous. Are they going to divide the city in half, like cold war Berlin? Or are we embarking on some new post-modern vision of the metastate?

Under this scheme, if a Palestinian and an Israeli are waiting at a street corner, and they both subject to the same laws? Or is the Palestinian subject to Palestinian law, and the Israeli subject to different Israeli law? What if one steals the other's wallet, which law applies?

This is a recipe for two overlapping apartheid states in which your ethnicity alone determines which law applies to you. This has to be one of the dumbest ideas in the history of dumb ideas.

The proposal should be that neither state can use it as a capital, but both states have access to it as part of a UN protectorate. Both nations agree on the laws of Jerusalem, and its city government rotates on an annual basis from one to the other.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:56 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


sotonohito: the contentious right of return thing has to do with expelled Palestinians or their descendents wanting the right to return to their former homes in Israel.
posted by Mocata at 6:58 AM on October 16, 2007


Remind me again why America should give a crap about what happens in Israel. For the life of me I can't figure why we care more about Israel than we do about say, Zaire or Luxembourg.

Honestly, it perplexes me.


You'd almost think it has some strategic importance, wouldn't you? Let's say it did - what would it be?
posted by fleetmouse at 7:02 AM on October 16, 2007


What is the official U.S. justification for our support of Israel?
posted by phrontist at 7:10 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


delmoi - So before the creation of Israel, there were six years of war in the 20th century, two relating to European wars, and one which basically formed Israel (as the British withdrew).

That's not exactly accurate, there was plenty of violence in other years as well, unfortunately. Pre-Israel, Palestine wasn't that extraordinary compared to the rest of the Middle East in terms of conflict: the Ottoman Empire fell apart, colonial powers moved in, nationalist revolts happened, the World Wars spilled over into the region, and so on. Is it worst than Europe? No. But to say that there was peace until Israel was founded is also false. Of course the ongoing conflicts during the 1920s and 1930s over Jewish immigration did not help, but the region was no stranger to conflict before.

Incidentally, O Jerusalem! (the Audible.com version is also excellent) is a great read for those interested in the conflict, following many of the events in the region leading up to the creation of Israel from all perspectives, and it is a really gripping read as well.
posted by blahblahblah at 7:12 AM on October 16, 2007


"Irrelevant. Old Europe." Yadda, yadda.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:17 AM on October 16, 2007


The Palestinians insist on the "right of return" and that is the one concession Israel will never make.


You know, I used to think this way, too - that the "right of return" was simply an unacceptable proposal for Israel. However, perhaps "right of return" is a more malleable term than we give it credit for? The phrase itself is almost intentionally vague and idealogical.

Perhaps a "right of return" could involve some sort of package of reparations for Palestinians who wish to stay in the Palestinian state, and some sort of social welfare program for ones who want to emigrate to Israel. I don't think that the "right of return" has to mean "all Israelis must immediately let a Palestinian family move into their guest room."

I'm no middle east scholar, but perhaps the term "right of return" is more symbolic than anything else.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:27 AM on October 16, 2007


Are they going to divide the city in half, like cold war Berlin?

Actually, the original UN Partition Plan called for Jerusalem to be under "international control," presumably the property of neither the Jewish nor the Arab state.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:35 AM on October 16, 2007


I think we should mimic our Africa policy and just let them all burn to death.
posted by breezeway at 7:43 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


The French and British were at each others' throats for about a thousand years; now they're not.

The British and the French have the particular advantage of that they're not all trying to live on the same land as each other. They might still be at it, if not for the English Channel.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:55 AM on October 16, 2007


Half-assed attempt by Bush administration to have something honorable to hang their leader's legacy on. Doomed to fail.
Will be buried on page 6.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:58 AM on October 16, 2007


Nothing about water rights?

So I think of 500 year old groves of olive trees, and the slow but constant work of scarab beetles, whenever discussions of Middle East peace arise.

That's a nice story, but it's so much bullshit.


No, it's scarab shit. Didn't you read the kindly old man's story?
posted by NoMich at 8:13 AM on October 16, 2007


Aye breezeway, line up bulldozers on the River Jordan and push both states into the Med. Then? everybody gets to rush for dibs on the newly scraped bedrock, and Paulsc's scarab beetles can get back to their work.
posted by OldReliable at 8:19 AM on October 16, 2007


We suggested democracy for arabs--but those who know history know democracy (one vote per person) does not mean freedom, ie, liberal democracy, as witnessed by Germany, whe
n Hitler got in via elections.

Hamas had vowed before elections and after to destroy Israel and continued to shoot rockets at Israel. You can not negotiate with some group stating without reservation that they will destroy you if they can.Were they to renounce this as a major goal, then negotiations might take place.

Why should US care about Israel? 1. the place gives us a foothold in an oil-rice area; 2. Israel is a democracy ; 3. We have long got great inventions and medical know-how from Israel and vice versa; 4. Israel has provided a home for displaced Jews (currently Russian s) and we did nothing for Jews during the Holocaust, including not taking in refugees in need of sanctuary; 5. Israel has great unversities and exchange programs with us. 6.Isael has done what we have not been able to do, for whatever reasons: take out Iraq ,
Syrian nuke building facilties--you may say that they ought not to have but would you prefer Iraq and Syrian with nukes?7. hot chicks in uniform or out of uniform.
posted by Postroad at 8:27 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oy! Postroad! I'd like to see you try to get a female IDF guard out of her uniform while she's on duty!.

*creeps back to the punny marsh I came from*

posted by cavalier at 8:46 AM on October 16, 2007


The Palestinians insist on the "right of return" and that is the one concession Israel will never make.

Which is suicide for Israel, as simple birthrate demographics prove that the development of Arab-majority sections of Jerusalem and other areas will cause Israel to keep conceding more land back to protect the Jewish majority of their own state. The alternative would be forced expulsion, which I doubt even the U.S. could justify.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:00 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Avenger writes "Also, a new generation of formerly moderate Lebanese youth with grow up with a burning, white-hot hatred of Israel. "

Albertans are still pissed about the NEP. I can't begin to imagine the grudge that would form after having your city levelled. Especially since the cluster bomblet mines will keep things fresh by blowing up residents for the next few decades.
posted by Mitheral at 9:06 AM on October 16, 2007


You can not negotiate with some group stating without reservation that they will destroy you if they can.

I beg to differ. Most conflicts and even wars both have both sides stating "without reservation that they will destroy each other" yet most eventually end through negotiation (perhaps after a lot of warfare!) without one side being completely destroyed.

Of course both sides are going to have extreme positions to start, if only to have some place to go when they negotiate.

You should always negotiate. You shouldn't concede unnecessarily but you should always negotiate.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:08 AM on October 16, 2007


Mocata re: right of return. Brainfart on my part. I read the section on that as having to do with something I'd read a while back regarding resource problems in the proposed Palestine and the huge refugee population. Which isn't entirely stupid on my part as the phrase "right of return" doesn't actually appear in the penultimate point.

Also, postroad, I think most of your reasons aren't really all that good. Israel gives us exactly squat in the mideast, calling it a foothold isn't really justified. It has no oil itself and all the oil producing nations hate it with a burning passion, hardly a benefit there either. Its a democracy, and I favor democracies, but its also a pseudo-theocracy with no guarantee of basic rights for anyone, no Constitution equivilant, etc, it has elections and that's nice, but hardly all it takes to be a worthwhile country. And the fact that Israel is willing to be used by the US elites as a catspaw in idiot CIA games is hardly a selling point to me.

The only point that has any merit is that absent US support it seems likely that Israel would be the site of a new holocaust. I'm certainly in favor of avoiding genocide, but not at the expense of propping up a nation increasinly held hostage by its own religious extremists which itself is a perpetrator of horrific human rights violations. If I had a choice I'd make continued US support for Israel contengent on a) a settlement with the Palistianians, and b) an end to current human rights violations and the adoption of some sort of hard to change guarantee of civil rights.

And for the first idiot who screams "but without those human rights violations Israel would be victim to *terrorists*!!" I'd like to point out that 60 years of increasinly evil human rights violations haven't made Israel safe from terrorists, so its self evident that eleminating human rights doesn't, in fact, do anything to make anyone safe from terrorists.
posted by sotonohito at 9:43 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


2. Israel is a democracy ;

What sort of democracy is it when anytime the number of people of a different religion seems likely to overtake the number of people of the ruling religion, extreme measures (apartheid) are taken to prevent that from happening, in order to maintain a majority of the ruling religion?

I'm not anti-Israel, but I am pro-democracy. Israel is a weak example of a democratic country.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:55 AM on October 16, 2007


three blind mice: "I think I know how this film ends. Something happens to make it not succeed. Both sides blame each other. And nothing happens. 60 years of this same script. It's really getting quite boring."

It could be different. Maybe if this time around we give Nobel Peace Prizes to the leaders of the two sides, everything will work out for the better.
posted by koeselitz at 9:59 AM on October 16, 2007


NIT PICK FILTER: Dr. Rice

"Doctor" Rice? Condoleezza Rice is about as much a "Dr." as Dr. Hook.

Sure. Technically she received her so called Ph.D. in Political Science from the Graduate School of International Studies at Denver... Denver?

But calling her DOCTOR is such a desperate and vain attempt at giving her credibility... when her tenure as SOS has been an abysmal failure an every level.
posted by tkchrist at 10:00 AM on October 16, 2007


I have a question for people talking about a Palestinian state.

HAVE YOU EVER LOOKED AT A GODDAMN MAP

(Bonus question: Have you ever looked at a map of water resources?)

There is no WAY that you can have a state that's in 12 different pieces separated by checkpoints, borders and illegal settlements. It can't be done. Hell, it probably won't work even in 2 pieces, Gaza Strip and West Bank.

"Palestine" is simply not a viable state entity, even with withdrawal to '67 borders. The only state-based solution that could conceivably work is a single binational state in the style of South Africa, and that is a hard sell because most Israelis want Jews to be the dominant ethnic group, and hate and fear the Palestinians (again, like the white South Africans feared blacks).

Realistically, this conflict will go on for the next few centuries until either the Israelis vote in Avigdor Lieberman to gas all the Palestinians, or the Israelis just pack up and move back to the USA and Europe. The fact that Israel's demographics have increasing proportions both of Arab Israelis and extremist Haredi Jews suggests that in the long term, the conflict will become so ugly that just packing up and moving out will be most attractive - Jewish immigration to Israel is now very low.

In the meantime, my suggestion is to build a very large wall around both sides.
posted by Bletch at 10:03 AM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Steven C. Den Beste: "Atrazine:

if the price of oil goes up, it's obviously a plot by the oil companies to increase their profits.

If the price of oil goes down, it's obviously a plot by the oil companies to get people to use more oil, and not consider alternatives.

If the price of oil stays the same, it's obviously a plot by the oil companies, who are manipulating the market to keep it stable.

And if anything causes a change in the price of oil, then it's obviously a plot by the oil companies for one of the above reasons.

See? Isn't that obvious?"


How about the other option:

The oil industry is a bloated industry which makes a good deal of money for a tiny number of people, doesn't add any jobs to the economy no matter how much it rises, exerts an entirely disproportionate political power on the US, and manipulates a whole string of other markets for its own gain. Though it's not to blame directly for things like the war in Iraq, it's certainly killing us slowly in other ways, and it's benefitting no one.

How's that for you?
posted by koeselitz at 10:07 AM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


The best solution to the problem, one that ain't ever gonna happen?

Take back the mandate. The UN declares that the rest of the world is sick and tired of this, US and EU invades jointly and imposes a settlement. All the hot Israeli chicks move to New York to become nannies offering me many opportunities to be a leering, disgusting middle-aged man.

But seriously, I think some sort of imposed settlement by the International community is the only way to go.

Israel has to recognize legitimate rights grievances and loss of the indigenous Palestinians, truth and reconciliation, symbolic apology in order. The Palestinians have to recognize, no matter how wrong it was in the past, Yossi and Vered have lived in Israel all their lives, they ain't leaving any time soon.

Solution 1:
Israelistine, bi-cultural, bi-lingual, bi-national state. US and EU jointly patrol the country to keep the peace

Solution 2
Two states. 1967 borders two-state solution, BUT, joint economic area, including currencies whose values are pegged to each other and a customs union - perhaps including Lebanon and Jordan - perhaps attached to the EU. Thus both sides go down the rathole if one side fucks up. Again US and EU patrol borders jointly. Palestine part is demilitarized. Israeli part is de-nuked but military can't be in Palestine part, that is where the joint force comes in. Israel to accept limited number of refugees, hold truth and reconciliation commission and compensation to those Palestinians who are out totally. Palestine to accept more refugees. Scads of money to Palestine to manage resettlement. Arab countries, Europe, and US to take refugees who either can't go to Israel, won't go to Palestine, etc, etc. That means Lebanon, Syria, Gulf states Jordan offer citizenship to people who have been refugees for generations.

Jerusalem:
Jerusalem capital of both states, both states run city jointly, so you would have Jerusalem laws no matter who breaks them.

Since this will never happen, my jokey recommendation to take back the mandate and force them to compromise really is the best solution.
posted by xetere at 10:30 AM on October 16, 2007


The mullingitover solution:

Jerusalem becomes an independent theocratic tourist state. No one has their capital there, which makes sense because integration of church and state is a recipe for bloodshed.

Massive systematic disarmament of all players. No weapons within 1,000 miles of IsraelPalistan. No weapons means no nukes, no fighter jets, no cluster bombs, no rockets, no dynamite, no guns, no pointed sticks, no strong language, no dirty looks.

Any nation caught selling weapons in the region after the disarmament receives an automatic, non-negotiable worldwide trade embargo for no less than a decade.

Finally, ponies for all.
posted by mullingitover at 10:59 AM on October 16, 2007


This isn't going away, ever. How long did the Jews wait in order to birth Isarel? Thousands of years. Do you really think the Palestinians are going to do any less, especially since some of them can stil remember the land that was once theres?
As dark as it may sound, I don't think either side has had to deal with enough death to make them WANT to stop fighting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:14 AM on October 16, 2007




I know exactly what's going on in the Middle East and why, but I'm not telling! Ha ha! Suckers!
posted by facetious at 11:22 AM on October 16, 2007


^eponysterical
posted by OldReliable at 11:55 AM on October 16, 2007


Xetere FTW!:All the hot Israeli chicks move to New York to become nannies offering me many opportunities to be a leering, disgusting middle-aged man.
I just turned 30... do you think I would qualify as middle aged by the time this happens? Or will I be a dirty, old man?
posted by bastionofsanity at 12:00 PM on October 16, 2007


Are you suggesting that oil companies control the price of oil?

The oil companies control everything. Jeeze, didn't you know that?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:05 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


The 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine called for a two-party state with Jerusalem as an international city. The Arab countries rejected the plan, which was a pretty good deal for Palestine compared what's possible today* and mapped closely to Jewish settlements at the time. The Arab countries rejected the plan, then Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip and Jordan occupied the West Bank after the 1948 war instead of setting up an independent Palestine.

* I'm not necessarily claiming it was a good deal then, just pointing out that if the 1947 plan had worked we'd have avoided 60 years and counting of fighting and Palestine would've had more territory than most plans propose now.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:31 PM on October 16, 2007


Why is this such a divisive, black-and-white issue when there is plenty of blame to go around?
posted by kirkaracha at 12:32 PM on October 16, 2007


Steven C. Den Beste writes "The oil companies control everything. Jeeze, didn't you know that?"

So naive. The Illuminati control everyting.
posted by mullingitover at 12:47 PM on October 16, 2007


The oil companies are the Illuminati. They're behind everything. (They're hiding under your bed to get you at night!)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:57 PM on October 16, 2007


Steven C. Den Beste: "The oil companies control everything. Jeeze, didn't you know that?"

The oil industry has a lobbying power in Washington that is vastly disproportionate to their usefulness or their economic or political benefit. No more, no less.

Sure, some people are idiots and think that big oil is responsible for all evils. Other people are idiots and think that big oil is responsible for some sort of good. Just because the oil industry isn't equal to the third reich doesn't mean it's worth a damned thing for the American public. As it happens, it's not, and it ought to be dismantled or crippled through taxation.
posted by koeselitz at 1:12 PM on October 16, 2007


Golda Meir once said, "This war won't end until the Palestinians love their children more than they hate us."

She didn't live to see it happen, and I don't expect to myself. A lot of people are dancing around the real problem here: the Palestinian people are indoctrinated with hate. It's become an entire culture dedicated to nihilism. Until that changes, there won't be any peace.

Part of the problem with the idea of negotiations is that there isn't anyone among the Palestinians with whom credible negotiations are possible. There isn't a "leader" who speaks for them all, and who can make concessions in exchange for concessions from Israel and can be trusted to deliver what he says. Arafat couldn't do it, Abbas can't do it.

Abbas doesn't even fully control Fatah, and he has no control over Hamas or Hizbollah. It might be possible to negotiate a treaty with Abbas -- but Hamas and Hizbollah wouldn't honor it. And that would make it worse than useless to Israel.

It won't be possible to negotiate a peace treaty between the Israelis and the Palestinians until the Palestinians collectively have decided they want peace.

And for the moment, the only "peace" the Palestinians collectively are willing to settle for with regards to Israel is the peace of the grave.

The most pithy summary of the war I've ever seen is this: The Palestinians want to commit genocide against Israel, but cannot. The Israelis can commit genocide against the Palestinians, but will not.

Until the Palestinians collectively come around to the idea that they are not going to destroy Israel, and are not going to regain all the territory they lost in 1948, there can be no peace. That's why the "right of return" is the critical point in all negotiations. It is the barometer, the indicator of Palestinian intentions. As long as they insist on the "right of return", it means they haven't abandoned the idea of destroying Israel, and that means there can be no peace.

Everything else, even the status of Jerusalem, can be dealt with. The "right of return" is the key sticking point. And that's why I have no hope that there will be peace: there can be no peace until the Palestinians give up demanding it, and there's no way it's politically possible for Palestinian "leaders" to do that. It's the worst of the many bad legacies Arafat left behind.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:15 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


A lot of people are dancing around the real problem here: the Palestinian people are indoctrinated with hate.

I think that sentence does a pretty good job letting people see what one of the big problems is, actually.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:22 PM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]



The oil companies are the Illuminati. They're behind everything. (They're hiding under your bed to get you at night!)


Steven C. Den Beste: What the hell are you ranting on and on about anyway? Did you forget your meds or something? What peculiar obsessions you seem to have!

Anyway, bottom line here: As long as there's lots of money to be made selling weapons to all sides, there won't be a genuine commitment to a mid-eastern peace process as long as so many of the world's major political leaders continue to also be entrepreneurs heavily invested in the defense industry. To think otherwise is to be a naive student of human nature.


the Palestinian people are indoctrinated with hate. It's become an entire culture dedicated to nihilism.


Yeah, and the Israelis are all sunshine and flowers. Geez, how much do you get paid to trot out this pap, and where do I sign on?
posted by saulgoodman at 1:23 PM on October 16, 2007


A lot of people are dancing around the real problem here: the Palestinian people are indoctrinated with hate.

Some people might call it racism, but I call it insight into the bizarre, terrifying Arab mind!
posted by stammer at 1:37 PM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Steven: "A lot of people are dancing around the real problem here: the Palestinian people are indoctrinated with hate. It's become an entire culture dedicated to nihilism. Until that changes, there won't be any peace."

I'd felt the same way for a long time, but it's clearly the case that years of living next to such a state has taken its toll on the mentality of Israel. It couldn't be otherwise. Unfortunately, Israel is not a vacuum, and the government of Israel has repeatedly felt as though it had to resort to extreme measures.

They have to live with that. Once you get beyond choosing sides, it's a depressing situation for all, and one without a simple solution.
posted by koeselitz at 1:43 PM on October 16, 2007


Why should US care about Israel? 1. the place gives us a foothold in an oil-rich area

You stupid moonbat, US foreign policy in the middle east has nothing to do with oil.

The following things also had nothing to do with oil:

- The overthrow of Mossadegh and reinstallation of the Shah
- Iraq's invasion of Kuwait
- the US retailiation against Iraq re: Kuwait
- the current occupation of Iraq no matter what that hippy Greenspan says (I think he is secretly inflated scrotum guy)
posted by fleetmouse at 2:17 PM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Maybe if they used some “Hair Color for Men” they wouldn’t have grey beards...?


“The oil companies are the Illuminati. They're behind everything.”

Funny thing about that, bit of a catch-22 (apart from what you’d outlined earlier) - there’s no question really the oil companies are incredibly powerful as are many of their extraordinarially wealthy employees. (I’m not a cream puff, but someone with 1/2 a billion dollars could flatten me like a tick under a steamroller)
But: “The oil companies don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground. The future of oil is completely random” is kinda disconcerting.
People with their hands on one of the most critical resources in the world without any real control over it, that’d be a bit scary too, wouldn’t it?
Obviously then, there are somewhat equal forces in opposition. The pain comes from the struggle.
Therefore either remove the disparity or remove the parity.
In the middle east, both sides have an interest in maintaining their conflict and the most powerful forces involved can resist being neutralized with regard to their opposition. Alexander would just cut the knot, but there seems to be more students of Machivelli than Aristotle in the Middle East. And someone’s playing Yojimbo (or A Fistful of Dollars, if you like...or Red Harvest even) even if it isn’t the oil companies.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:34 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I see there's no language calling for democratic reforms within the Palestinian Authority. Nothing about establishing a free press or ending the jailing or killing of dissidents or breaking the leadership's monopoly on the media. That's a much easier thing to demand of the PA than demanding a crackdown on militants or a cease-fire, but it's almost never made. If you want to see an end to the indoctrination, that's a good place to start. Remember all those statements about the solution to bad speech being more and freer speech that get thrown around here all the time? It's as true in Gaza as it is here. Peace won't come until kids are no longer taught hate, and that won't happen while the PA has a monopoly on speech. All of these structural details like borders, the status of Jerusalem, and the refugees are certainly important and need to be addressed (probably in a way very close to the way outlined in this letter; the general outlines of a final status agreement are fairly well known), but if you really want to see peace? More attention needs to be paid towards making Palestine freer, and not just separate.
posted by SBMike at 2:40 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hamas: Any international conference will not shackle our hands to do our duty in resistance. Sounds like a promising undertaking.
posted by Adamchik at 2:40 PM on October 16, 2007



The most insulting and ridiculous part of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is the very idea that there are such people as "Israelis" and "Palestinians."

This anachronistic, feeble, nationalistic essentialism is one of the clearest examples of mass delusion you could ever hope to find and helps absolutely no one except those invested in conflict and control.

There are human beings. There are natural resources. There are business entities. But there is no such thing as an "Israeli" or a "Palestinian."
posted by facetious at 3:29 PM on October 16, 2007


Yes, the rise of nationalism over the last 2000 years is nothing but a mass delusion!

Was there such a thing as a Roman? Is there such a thing as a German? How about a Russian or an American?

I think you've lost sight of the forest for the clouds.

(Some will argue that there really is no such thing as a Palestinian; I think that, whether there was such a thing as a Palestinian in 1950, there clearly is now; shared suffering will do that to a people.)
posted by Justinian at 3:42 PM on October 16, 2007


Steven C. Den Beste illustrates what happens when you pick sides. To wit: your mind becomes a bit less functional and you start talking bullshit.
posted by sotonohito at 4:10 PM on October 16, 2007


“Yes, the rise of nationalism over the last 2000 years is nothing but a mass delusion”

Well, kinda, yeah. A nation is just a method of organizing people and resources. Feudalism, all that, yeah, pretty much. That it has obvious tangible effects doesn’t mean it’s not a construct. There’s no objective existance to it.
(And of course holy scripture is in the middle east equation as well - same deal: has obvious tangible effects - no objective existance.)
And use of force to arbitrarially invest something with a reality it didn’t naturally have before is asking for trouble. Ask a jeweler - you have to cut along the lines. Historically those lines were defended by force and negotiated at the point of a sword even where they were predicated on natural divisions like a mountain range or cultural divisions like a language.
Even then there were genocides which (for good or ill - mostly the latter) straightened things out on a permanent basis.
We’re far beyond that now, especially with mass world wide communication. No one is going to permit a genocide - no one, that is, who’s got, or has allies who have nuclear weapons.
Although, yeah, I don’t think even those would be able to separate people from what they see as their inherent being. Certainly not telling them it’s a construct will work either. It might be possible to lead them into a better method of organization and way of life - much like we left feudalism behind or lost the Scythians and their lifestyle.
(There’s a lot to be said for riding horses, drinking blood, and smoking dope all day tho)
posted by Smedleyman at 4:33 PM on October 16, 2007


Postroad:

1. the place gives us a foothold in an oil-rice area;

Sort of. The US has no bases in Israel. The US's support for Israel makes the Arabs hate and distrust the US. The US's relations with most of the Arab world, where the oil actually is, would be far easier without Israel.

2. Israel is a democracy ;
Sort of. Israel controls miltarily about 10 million people between the West Bank, Gaza and Israel. For about 5 million of them, the Jewish ones, they have full power. They can marry a foreigner and the foreigner can immigrate. Any Jewish person can migrate to Israel. However, if you're an Arab and you were born in Israel but got ethnically cleansed you may never return. Israel is a democracy in the Apartheid era South African sense.


3. We have long got great inventions and medical know-how from Israel and vice versa;

Some useful stuff has come from Israel. Sure.

4. Israel has provided a home for displaced Jews (currently Russian s) and we did nothing for Jews during the Holocaust, including not taking in refugees in need of sanctuary;

So the Palestinians have to pay for Europe's problems. Interesting, does this mean the American Indians deserve a chunk of China?

5. Israel has great unversities and exchange programs with us.

Fine.

6.Isael has done what we have not been able to do, for whatever reasons: take out Iraq ,

Nonsense. Israel bombed an Iraqi reactor. It did not 'take out Iraq'. How much that hindered the Iraqi nuclear program is an interesting question. Some detained Iraqi scientists said it actually aided them because it made them realise they had to do everything secretly.

On this, note that Israel has nuclear and chemical weapons. It makes US non-proliferation efforts much harder because it says to the rest of the world that if you want nuclear weapons, withdraw from the NPT and just build them. We won't touch you if you don't anger us.

US foreign policy would be easier without Israel.

To a foreigner, it is perplexing that the US acts so much in support of Israel. The rest of the world regards Israel is pretty much a pariah state.
posted by sien at 5:12 PM on October 16, 2007


To a foreigner, it is perplexing that the US acts so much in support of Israel. The rest of the world regards Israel is pretty much a pariah state.

Believe me, I'm no huge fan of current American foreign policy but this is not a compelling argument. First of all, "rest of the world" is hyperbole, of course. Secondly, much of the rest of the world doesn't care about Israel one way or the other. Thirdly, a lot of the hostility to Israel among those most hostile is anti-semitic; I'm thinking of the hostility among most Arab nations. Lastly, I'm not inclined to take much of Europe's hostility very seriously; Glass houses and all that. The only reason they pretend not to be that racist these days is they've mostly killed off or completely subjugated their visible minorities these days.

It's pretty easy to pretend to the high road when you can sweep your (worse) actions under the rug as having taken place all of 50 years or more ago.

The rest of the world is wrong about a lot of things.

And right about a lot of things, of course. The inherent distaste for Israel just doesn't happen to be one of them.
posted by Justinian at 5:25 PM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


"... You should always negotiate. You shouldn't concede unnecessarily but you should always negotiate."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:08 PM on October 16

Didn't work for:

-the Carpathians against the Romans.
-the Etruscans against the Romans.
-the Romans against the Goths.
-the Babylonians against Alexander.
-the Trojans against the Greeks.
-the Koreans against the Japanese.
-the aborigines against the European Aussies
-the Aztecs against the Spanish

or 10,000 other vanquished human groups, whose names no living mind even remembers. The history of our race, on every continent, is one of force and bloodshed over made up reasons for killing. It's a key part, apparently, of what makes us human.

"That's a nice story, but it's so much bullshit. There was plenty of war in Europe over the centuries, and the idea that the middle east is somehow "special" in terms of historic violence is really obnoxious. ..."
posted by delmoi at 9:56 AM on October 16

I didn't say or imply the Middle East was special, delmoi. I never would, because every place I've ever been, has been barely a stone's throw from memorialized inhumanity of some human or group, against others.

Less than 2 miles from where I live is a big 6,000 year old midden of shells on the banks of the St. Johns River, piled up by Native Americans, and later, Spanish, French, Mexican, Union, and Confederate troops at one time or another, and through all of that, by Native Americans, again, when they could get a lick at it. It was, and still is, a pretty productive place for fishing and seafood, and it made a great fort and battleground, apparently. It's full of arrowheads, stone axes, knives, and bullets, and tiny bits of human remains, over something like 6,000 years of time. Something about the place just makes people want to fish, dig clams, cook and murder each other. Not unlike the Middle East, but nothing about the Middle East that is particularly special in that regard, in my mind, other than how I view olive trees, since that day in 1977, such vegetation being notably absent here at home.

FWIW, I've never lived anywhere I couldn't throw a stone to a murder scene, if the truth be told. In Israel, you can hit such sites with tiddlywinks, from any place you can sit.

And in my lifetime, the old Arab was a lot more right than wrong. At Christmas of 1977, thousands of people gathered in Bethlehem, for the holiday celebrations. Since 2002, not so much...
posted by paulsc at 5:39 PM on October 16, 2007


The US's relations with most of the Arab world, where the oil actually is, would be far easier without Israel.

It rather depends on what you see as a desirable relationship with Arab states sitting on oil reserves. Do you want them treating you as an equal and selling their delicious goopy black oil to come who may on an open market in whatever currencies they prefer?

Or do you want them mad as hell and lashing out at you to justify invasion and occupation at any cost, so long as eventually American hands are on the tap and the till?

Whenever I read wingnut blogs :crosses self despite atheism: an overwhelming theme is how savage and hateful those goddamn Palestinians are, and how they're all like that and we can neither trust them nor deal with them by any means other than violence. Palestinians are not only exemplary Bad Arabs but also implicate broad swaths of the Arab world that support and side with them.

So I think Israel currently serves primarily as a desirable strategic irritant in the region. It keeps the Arab world hostile which is plenty handy for keeping the American public hostile. It doesn't hurt that a sizeable percentage of Americans (like the useful idiot Bush for example) also believe that Israel has to stay intact as a Jewish state until it's annihilated at just the right time for Jebus to return.

I don't think that any of this was planned beforehand by master illuminati oilmen - it's just the way things ended up. You play Risk with the hand you're dealt. They're playing rather well, I think.

On preview: The history of our race, on every continent, is one of force and bloodshed over made up reasons for killing.

This is true. And I don't think that the men at the top of the power pyramid forget it for a minute. Neither should we, when we hear the drums a-bangin'.
posted by fleetmouse at 5:52 PM on October 16, 2007


Justinian: I didn't mean to imply that the rest of the world's attitude to Israel should be adopted by the US because it is the rest of the world's attitude. It was meant to be a statement of fact.

The thing about it is that it might be worth looking at why the rest of the world holds these attitudes and not just saying it's all anti-semitism.

Also, the US's support for Israel occupies a huge part of the US foreign policy. China, Russian and India are very happy to watch the US spend money, time and lessen it's standing in the world to support Israel.

There are reasons for not supporting Israel, or at least putting real pressure on them to honor UN resolutions in particular 242. The recommendations made by Brzezinski and the others are pretty much that.
posted by sien at 6:02 PM on October 16, 2007


The thing about it is that it might be worth looking at why the rest of the world holds these attitudes and not just saying it's all anti-semitism.

Just a point; I specifically didn't say it's all anti-semitism. I said most of the Arab world's opposition is anti-semitism. I said much of the rest of the world doesn't really care about Israel in the way that we in the USA don't really care about French Guiana.
posted by Justinian at 8:17 PM on October 16, 2007


I said much of the rest of the world doesn't really care about Israel in the way that we in the USA don't really care about French Guiana.

But when it comes down to serious UN votes, which might not carry that much weight but generally do express opinions, the people voting with Israel are: Israel, the US, and one confused south pacific island nation.
posted by blacklite at 4:27 AM on October 17, 2007


How many UN resolutions have been attempted on French Guiana, how many on Israel?

The rest of the world does care. The 2003 EU poll that named Israel as the biggest threat to world peace is a good example of that. French Guiana didn't appear to feature.
posted by sien at 9:57 PM on October 17, 2007


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