George Orwell said that the first duty of intelligent men is to restate the obvious, and that is precisely what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did last week with respect to the territorial dispute between Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians.
Speaking at a briefing last Wednesday, he gave a quick history lesson on the Middle-East that in one sentence summarized the essence of the problem: "If you have a country that's a sliver and you can see three sides of it from a high hotel building, you've got to be careful what you give away and to whom you give it."
When Israeli diplomats refer to Israel's "security," they are not just talking about defending its people -- Jewish and Arab -- from terrorist attacks; they are talking about enabling Israel to defend itself from those who seek to destroy it.
Yes, it's obvious to me, but too many Europeans have their head in the clouds and cannot see the obvious.
The problem with those who claim that the conflict would be over if the Israelis simply ended the occupation is that they assume Palestinians are the legal, sovereign owners of these territories and what their borders should be. As Rumsfeld pointed out, those are precisely the questions that still need to be resolved.
Rumsfeld deserves commendation for his truth-telling and his clarity. As we all work and pray for a peaceful solution to the crises in the Middle East, we will do well to keep his reservations in mind. History can repeat itself, so who could fault a sliver of a democracy for insisting that there be a functioning Palestinian democracy before it gives back precious land it won in a defensive war?