Ridiculous proposals dont help the peace process

In recent days, two government officials — one in Israel and the other in Egypt — tried to move the Middle East peace process along in ways we can only describe as less than helpful. They each suggested entire populations leave their homes, forever.

One of the outrageous statements came from Essam el Erian, a member of Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood and an adviser to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. El Erian told an Arabic-language newspaper based in London that in 10 years “there will be no such thing as Israel,” and that “those who conquered Palestine will have to go back to their countries.”

He then said Israeli Jews of Egyptian extraction could return to Egypt.

That did not go down so well with some of his Brotherhood colleagues, who aren’t ready to put out the welcome mat. One spokesperson claimed, “Egyptian Jews are criminals who must be punished for what they did to Egypt and the Palestinians.”

Meanwhile in Israel, Likud Party official Moshe Feiglin floated the idea that Israel pay Arab families $500,000 to move out of the West Bank, so that one day Israel might annex the region.

Lest anyone think Feiglin is heartless, he quickly added that Western nations would snap up the Palestinian refugees because those countries have “low birthrates,” and unlike “Sudanese immigrants who can’t build,” the migrants from the West Bank “do know how to build.”

He called it “the perfect solution.” We call it ethnic cleansing.

Condemnation of Feiglin came swiftly, with several leftist party spokespersons in Israel claiming his comments expose Likud as hostile to any two-state solution. One Likud official dismissed Feiglin’s proposal as a “good election slogan,” adding, “No one is going to annex the territories.”

Nevertheless, such talk feeds both perception and reality as Israel grows ever more entrenched in the West Bank, making future disengagement and the subsequent establishment of a Palestinian state all the more difficult.

We don’t wish to draw false equivalency between Feiglin and el Erian. Offensive as they may be, Feiglin’s comments did not suggest physical harm, let alone genocide. Yet that’s what el Erian, a man who has the ear of the Egyptian president, seems to be suggesting.

A spokesperson for Morsi sought to distance the president from the remarks, but no one should believe Egypt remains an ally of Israel anymore.

Stupid people will always be around to make stupid remarks. It is the task of more sober leaders to ignore the noise and work toward the greatest good.