As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it is the settlements more than anything else that prevent a two-state solution from being realized. Whereas the Palestinians have no true guiding authority to end, once and for all, the terrorist attacks on Israel, the Israelis do have a legal framework to end the settlements in the West Bank. Of course, such a political move won’t be easy, but if Israel ever hopes to achieve some semblance of peace with her neighbors and the Palestinians, the settlements must be dismantled.
The Israelis take the best land, drive on separate roads, and sometimes settler extremists will attack Palestinians or burn their fields and homes. Is this how Israel wants to be represented? Is this what Israel intended when those original Zionists populated Tel Aviv? I think not–I hope not. Not all of Israel is an apartheid state, but the West Bank is fast becoming just that.
Tom Piatak writes:
If I had to live in the Middle East, I would want to live in Israel, a modern, democratic country with a productive economy, including a burgeoning high-tech sector, and a rich cultural and intellectual life. There is much to admire in Israel, a dynamic and prosperous nation created in part by survivors of the Holocaust.
However, Piatak warns,
The refusal to criticize behavior that would be criticized if engaged in by any other country is just one sign that America has formed the type of “passionate attachment” to Israel that our first and greatest president warned against in his Farewell Address.
Indeed, this is the dual nature of our relationship, both in the media and in politics, with Israel. We support them unconditionally. We support their every move because somehow they are like us. Because that is where we would choose to live if we moved to the Middle East. We support policiies as horrendous as the continued occupation and settlement of the West Bank because we are blind to the harm they cause not only the Arabs, or the interests of the United States, but also to the vast majority of moderate Israelis who would like, someday, to live in peace.
It is time that this Government laid down its blind support of Israel and the settlers who now have all but blackmailed that nation, in favor of a more helpful variety of alliance–call it tough love, if you will. Call it pragmatism, or America first. Call it what you like, but no matter what else happens, until the settlements are dismantled, there is no point in supporting Israel or doing much of anything else with that conflict. It will be a lost cause. Peace will not come without compromise.
NOTE: The 60 minutes video above, and this Time Magazine article, are meant to point out to that there are a number of reasonable mainstream critiques of Israel emerging. And here’s another question to those in the hyper-partisan pro-Israel camp: how long can you keep it up? Without more substantitive steps on the part of Israel, how long do you think widespread support for that State will last? And wouldn’t it be a shame if popular opinion did shift so drastically that Israel lost American support? Better to act now, make the right decisions, withdraw from the West Bank, take the high road and instigate the two state solution, rather than risk going it alone. I sense a shift in popular opinion taking place. I’m no pollster, but I think one thing that the Bush administration did badly was uniquivecobly support Israel. Now, in a sense, the unpopular President and his unpopular policies will be inextricably tied to Israel, and not to their benefit I fear.
When Joe the Plumber was asked whether he thought Obama would be the death of Israel, he may have been wiser to point out that Bush already begun that process by so undermining American credibility in the peace process. Bush, like so many others, may sincerely believe that his brand of support was helpful, but I think history will prove that not to be the case…
Second Note: I also want to add that one reason I think this move on Israel’s part is that as the dialogue shifts in the media, in the mainstream, we will start to hear more virulent attacks on Israel. As it stands, there are those who foolishly compare Israel to Nazi Germany (apparently without the ovens, death campst, etc.) or the Israeli actiosn to the Holocaust (without the millions of dead, I suppose?) and this seems to be the sort of natural extension you begin to see when there is a wider shift in perception. The same ignorant people who currently support Israel without really any knowledge of the conflict or region, could shift their loyalties just as quickly. It’s important, then, that Israel re-takes the high moral ground, or else I think they really do face isolation in the geopolitical future.