He has a passionately written op-ed in today's New York Times, entitled Sounds of Silence in Northern Ireland. In it he states that he has found that trying to explain the politics of Northern Ireland to others was nearly impossible. Whose God were these people fighting for?, he asks. Why did justice sound like another word for revenge? Who would ever be able to make a virtue of old hatreds?
And then he pens this:-
There is no greater moment in war than the end of it. The vague dream of getting older, for politicians and terrorists and even children, is that we can somehow still become better people. As much as anything, the move toward devolution is a glimmer of hope for the rest of the world — if it can happen in Northern Ireland, it’s possible that it can happen anywhere. Palestine. Sri Lanka. Iraq.
Colum, since before 1920, the problem has been whether Israel, the state of the Jewish people, the reconstituted Jewish national home as assured by the League of Nations, is to exist - at all. Not in this or that boundary, but anywhere. Not a North or a South, but nowhere.
Palestine could have come into being if the Arabs had so desired in 1947 but what was more improtant for them at the time and for six decades afterwards was that Israel should not exist.
And today, despite the Oslo Accords, it is obvious, expecially after the disengagement mess and the Kassams and the Hamas-led government and Abu Mazen's weakness (or worse, collusion) and the Arab League "peace initiative" that would drown Israel in a "right of return" maneuver, that the Arabs still have no sympathy for Israel in any border configuration.
No, Colum, it's not the "Palestinian question" but the age-old "Jewish question".
It's all about Israel, not some fictitious "Palestine".