The Web site of “In These Times” magazine has published my review of BBC reporter Alan Johnston’s account of his ordeal as a prisoner of Islamist terrorists in the Gaza Strip in 2007 (plus his observations of the conflict there and about his earlier postings as a correspondent in Afghanistan and Central Asia). My piece is largely an expansion of a recent post on this blog.
I ended my InTheseTimes.com article on a slightly upbeat note, but this doesn’t really reflect my mood these days. I might just as well have ended my piece with this gloomy observation by Alan Johnston:
“If the Israelis were to withdraw from every inch of occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, along with Gaza, the Palestinians would be left with about 22 per cent of the land [of the old British Mandate of Palestine]. … I find it hard to envisage Israel ever stepping back and relinquishing sufficient control to allow the proposed tiny, fractured Palestinian state to flourish. And I don’t see Israel being forced to give enough by its mighty ally, the United States….”
My fear is that Johnston is correct in this assessment. Still, Johnston stated this in November, 2007 (when the original publication was being prepared in the UK). A faint hope for rescue lay in Barack Obama’s ascendency to the Presidency and in his declaration the other week that the Israeli-Palestinian “status quo is unsustainable and unacceptable.”