One way forward for the West Bank

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16 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    very interesting, well thought out piece. peace will be at least as hard as war is for all the parties. Hopefully both sides will have some help from their friends to push/cojole/bribe/mediate them along their way.Report

  2. Avatar Will says:

    Excellent post. Do you think this option is politically palatable?Report

  3. I agree that speculating about what Sharon knew and when he knew it is just conspiracy-mongering. It doesn’t make any difference anyway. I’m sure the wasn’t the only one who thought the Palestinians would make a mess of it in Gaza.

    What takes me aback—a little bit—about your analysis is that there is no mention of the Palestinians except for the vague “negotiations can be restarted” and “negotiations will continue…” kind of thing.

    I agree that expanding the settlements is illegitimate and the government has no business supporting it (I don’t think they do so today at any rate). I agree that given the situation there that Israel will always be expected to make the first move and to make the famous painful concessions. So I agree that unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank is one way to achieve a peace treaty with Palestine.

    But it has to be accompanied by concrete moves by Palestine. These moves cannot be just promises to make some concrete moves, like in the past. This seems only fair to me; plus it may be required to get the Israeli electorate to support such a thing.

    If you agree with this, then what concrete moves would you require so that the withdrawal could begin?Report

  4. Avatar Max says:

    Will — as with most things Israel, the answer to your question differs widely depending on which ‘who’ we’re talking about. I don’t think Palestinians are ready to lose the settlements as an issue without a military withdrawal; and I don’t think Israelis are ready to lose the settlements period. So no, it’s not palatable at the moment. I would guess at two possible ways to change this: either to somehow dismantle Hamas and Hizbollah once and for all (not likely), or to come to some kind of acceptable compromise on the Iranian nuclear issue (slightly more likely).

    Roque — I agree with the thrust of what you’re saying, if not the details. (The government does not support the settlements? Did you read the tax dollar bit above? And who do you think is sending the military out there to guard each settlement? Moses?) But here’s an attempt at a response:

    I don’t think Israel should need a response to begin a civilian withdrawal the likes of which I’ve outlined above. There are plenty of reasons to start dismantling settlements that have nothing to do with the Palestinians: they encourage lawlessness and violence, they sap the country’s finances, and they have become a cudgel with which to beat Israel over the head. (I don’t subscribe to the fantasy that if the settlements disappear the international community will suddenly love Israel. But one less cudgel certainly isn’t going to *hurt*.) Withdrawal doesn’t need to happen everywhere all at once, but the longer Israel waits, the harder it will be.

    I do think you’re right that Israel needs a substantive response from the PA before a military withdrawal becomes feasible. You can pretty easily divide it into two categories: negotiating positions, and ground changes.

    If I’m Israel, here’s what negotiating positions I require in exchange for a phased military withdrawal: complete renunciation of the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, in exchange for compensation and resettlement in the West Bank paid for by Israel and the international community. (This is the big one.) Little ones: Settlement infrastructure to be counted toward Israeli reparations. Agreement to a Palestinian state to be monitored internationally for x number of years (I’m not sure how long I’d like that to go.) Agreement to Israeli control of the Jordan/Palestine border for x number of years, as well. Guaranteed legal access for Jews to holy sites within the West Bank. Some may want to include Israeli control of Jerusalem in this list; I don’t personally see the point in that.

    Ground changes I would need: replacement of Mahmoud Abbas with a new head of state. (I personally liked Fayyad, although I understand he’s not particularly popular. It would also be possible to go outside of the current party leadership and tap somebody like Sari Nusseibeh, the academic moderate and head of Al Quds University, who is quite popular. Either way, the point is that Abbas is weak and needs to go.) An electoral system that outlaws extremist parties, where extremist is defined as any party calling for the violent destruction of Israel.

    These are just off the top of my head. And they are, by the way, only the demands that Israel would be making of Palestine. There is a long list of things it would also need from the US and the UN to make this work, from money to continued military training etc.Report

  5. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Excellent suggestions Max. Regarding the cudgel, though, I think this would actually do a lot for Israel’s reputation in the world, but only if the Palestinian state that resulted from a withdrawal didn’t devolve into the same madness that Gaza has. More of a response to the larger post later…

    Cheers!Report

  6. I stand corrected on government support of the settlements.

    Wasn’t it more or less the same proposition on the right of return that the Palestinians rejected in 2000? What makes you think they’ll accept it today?

    Again, I’m taken aback (for real this time) that you don’t require Palestinians to end their racist incitement to hatred of Israel, Israelis, and Jews. Check MEMRI for translations of their official, government, school textbooks for examples of stuff that would get any education official fired in two seconds in the US. While you’re at it, look at some of kids shows on their TV. How can any so-called peace process have any chance for success if generations of Arab/Muslim/Palestinian people are raised on the most vile Antisemitic propaganda imaginable—cruder, even, than Der Sturmer. Even most Germans found Der Sturmer too crude and vulgar. That isn’t the case with most Arabs/Muslims/Palestinians. University professors over there can write learned articles about why the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is true. Doesn’t this offend you in the least? You don’t require that they give up—entirely, and forever—the doctrine that Palestine is their god-given land. You don’t require that they give up—entirely and forever—the idea that god must rule the whole world. You don’t require any assurances that Palestinians are not using the Muslim doctrine of taqiyya, or deceit.Report

  7. Avatar Max says:

    I considered including a provision against state-sponsored anti-Semitism when writing that response. (I’m very well versed in MEMRI’s archive, no need to refer me.) I ruled it out for a few reasons:
    1. No matter what Israel asks, this will not be a high priority issue for the PA, nor should it be. Under even the best of circumstances, they’re going to be struggling to keep Hamas under control and maintain basic services to their civilian population. And this is all assuming that they can keep their own corruption under control. Asking them to overhaul their state media and education policies is like asking a contractor not to scuff your hardwood when he singlehandedly removes every item of furniture.
    2. A great deal of Palestinian media and education is imported from the rest of the Arab world, especially Turkey and Iran — a lot of that anti-Semitic stuff included. It’s part of the reality of the Arab world today, and a lot of it dates all the way back to Nazism. So, two points here: a) the Palestinians can’t be expected to turn into shining stars of tolerance unless they totally shut off the tap to the outside world, which ain’t gonna happen; and b) in any case you’ll notice that Israel enjoys a cold peace with Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and many other nations very much in spite of media saturated with anti-Semitic garbage.
    3. That being said, I do agree with you that a lasting peace is going to require a change in tone from Palestinian leadership, as well as a change in attitude (if not tone) from Israel. I do honestly hope to one day see a pair of leaders from both people come to recognize that they share in a common tragedy, and that they have much more in common than they realized — leaders who could actually make both peoples believe that it is possible to be pro-Israel and pro-Palestine at the same time. However, I recognize two things: that this will never, ever happen without some changes on the ground moving in the right direction, and that to wait for it is tantamount to giving up on peace; and that some arrangements do not depend on this shift in attitude. As I said before, settlement withdrawal has plenty to recommend it that has nothing to do with Palestinians, and when it is divorced from a military withdrawal there is no reason for security concerns. So what’s stopping us?

    As for taqiyya: first of all, I have no idea what good “assurances” against taqiyya would do, since it is, after all, taqiyya. You might be surprised to learn that in the West (and in Israel) we also have a version of taqiyya. It’s called “lying,” and we do it all the time. How do you know the other guy isn’t lying? Well, you never do, whether he’s Muslim or Zoroastrian. You just try to put yourself in a position where it doesn’t matter if he is. A phased military withdrawal over the course of many years, alongside international monitoring, is the best (and only) way I know of doing that. (Incidentally, it’s in fact *more* effective than “assurances.”) Do you have another idea?

    Finally: yes, Palestinian anti-Semitism offends me, a great deal, as does all anti-Semitism. And apologies for it that blame Israeli aggression also offend me, so I won’t do that. All I will say is that, though I am about as Jewish as they come, I do at times see the wisdom of the Christian doctrine of love, and I prefer to be the person who can be offended without feeling the need to take out my offendedness on other people, rather than the person who will sacrifice another 1 or 5 or 20 years of life in Israel to pent-up racism and aggression and hatred because some Palestinians think he deserves to die.Report

  8. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Very well said, once again Max. You could construct posts out of these comments…Report

  9. Two things: Equating Arab state-sponsored Antisemitism with a contractor scuffing hardwood floors is just silly. It’s not trivial. You just shrug your shoulders about it and say, that Palestinians can’t become “shining stars of tolerance.” But equivalent shifts have happened in modern history. I mentioned before the Pacific War. Where did all the race hatred go after that? Who made it go away? The leaders, both American and Japanese, were responsible. They actively combated the race-hatred that had fueled the war. If we could do it before, why can’t we do it again?

    At least by trying, we’d be putting Arab/Muslim Antisemitism front and center. Arabs and Muslims would have to answer for it. I doubt that they could.

    Next: taqiyya is not the same as lying. It’s religiously-sanctioned lying in the service of a greater cause. If we lie, we deny it, cover it up, and then go to jail for it if we fail. Taqiyya is one of the Muslim doctrines of war. It’s like one of their weapons. How can we ever defend ourselves if we just rationalize it like you do?

    And I also disagree that “changes on the ground” are somehow previous to changes in attitude, for example, giving up their Antisemitism and genocidal doctrines. I say it’s just the opposite: these attitudes feed the violence. You can’t stop the violence without stopping the cause. If you stop the cause then the “changes on the ground” that you require would happen easily.Report

  10. Avatar Max says:

    Hm. I can’t help but feel you’re willfully talking past me, Roque. I mean, especially the contractor thing…you’re really not seeing how, as a metaphor, it is trying to make the point that antisemitism in the West Bank is trivial IN COMPARISON TO keeping Hamas out of power and basic civil services running? I don’t know how much more clearly I can say it.

    Look, I’ve already acknowledged the point that a *long-standing* peace between Israel and Palestine cannot be built while the PA engages in or allows anti-Semitic speech to be the norm. But I truly don’t understand how you cannot see that it is your insistence on conflating near-term goals with a long-term solution that is making an agreement impossible. You bring up the Pacific war, as if it were even comparable. But ask yourself: can you imagine a cessation in racist speech on either side *while the war still continued?* It’s not only wishful thinking, Roque — it’s preposterous, it’s the cart before the horse in every meaningful way.

    You say that putting “Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism” front and center will force them to “answer” for it. I have no idea what this means. Do you? A broad swath of the Muslim world is anti-Semitic. This is news to absolutely no one, not even Muslims. Yet you treat it as a goal comparable to dismantling settlements or reinforcing Fatah in the West Bank. So what’s this about? You appear to me to be vindictive in the extreme. That’s not wrong, depending on your outlook. But it certainly is wrong to treat “rubbing their noses in it” as a high-value objective for Israeli negotiations. I don’t know any Israeli who has experienced Palestinian violence who has any interest in such a thing. They just want to reach an agreement and a cold peace.

    Do these attitudes feed violence? Sure. So do settlements. So does Hamas as an organization, Hizbullah, Iran, Shin Bet brutality, economic hardship, poor educational systems, difficulty leaving the territories, political corruption, familial bonds, popular art and culture…it’s a long list. And listen: there will NEVER come a day when everything feeding the violence stops. It’s not possible, here or anywhere. So I’ll ask you again: in light of the divorce between a civilian and military evacuation, what are we waiting for? Why are you hesitating?

    Regarding taqiyya. I haven’t any idea why the fact that it is a “religious” kind of lying makes it any different to you, as I assume you are not a Muslim. Your description of what happens when non-Muslims lie is almost too rich for words. Do you honestly believe that non-Muslim countries do not lie in the service of their political goals every day? Have you not followed the news in the US? Are you the one man in the universe who has not so much as caught a James Bond movie on cable? LYING IS PART OF DIPLOMACY AND WAR. It’s a part of politics, no matter who you are, and oftentimes important people who do it suffer no consequences — especially when they are acting on behalf of their countries. In any case, your lesson failed to address my other question to you, which was how on earth “assurances” from the same people supposedly making use of taqiyya were supposed to serve us more effectively than a phased military withdrawal and international monitoring.Report

  11. [Y]ou’re really not seeing how, as a metaphor, it is trying to make the point that antisemitism in the West Bank is trivial IN COMPARISON TO keeping Hamas out of power and basic civil services running?

    If you chose to respond to this, could you tone down the allcaps? No reason to yell at me. This is only a follow-up to my first question to you about what you would require of the Palestinians since your “way forward” was about what Israel could or should do. Your answer did not satisfy me because it would leave the cause of the conflict intact. That cause is Arab/Muslim/Palestinian rejectionism. If not, they would have had a state in 1947/48 just like the Jews did. Fighting Arab/Muslim/Palestinian Antisemitism does at least address this root cause.

    I see that your above metaphor trivializes the situation, not that it shows that Arab/Muslim Antisemitism is trivial.

    Providing basic services to the people of the WB is really not related to this at all. But keeping Hamas out of power is. Antisemitism is the foundation of their ideology and one of their basic principles. It allows them to openly work for the extermination of Israel and Jews in general. I don’t say that Israel can put a stop to this but that the US and the EU could—if they wanted to, which they don’t.

    You correctly identify the source of Arab/Muslim Antisemitism with the Nazis—although the French were just as important here. It is not endemic to Arab/Muslim culture or to Islam, like it is in Europe. It has existed for the past seventy-eighty years. It can be eliminated. The Arab/Muslim region is the most ignorant on Earth (according to UNDP surveys). People get their information orally, like in any illiterate society. They get their information from the TV, the radio, and from preachers in the mosques and medrassas. All of these sources are under the state’s control. These societies are running police states without exception. They can eliminate Antisemitism from the public discourse just as easily as they introduced it years ago.

    I’ve mentioned the Paul Berman analysis here before that there are four wars in Palestine/Israel, two of which are just and two are unjust. I don’t believe that ending these unjust wars should or could be part of any negotiation between Israel and Palestine. Israel cannot negotiate recognition of its right to exist. They have the right to exist because, well… they exist. It’s a natural right that doesn’t depend on anything or anyone. The others’ right to exist is a given before any negotiation between anyone about anything ever takes place. Equally, Palestine cannot negotiate the right they have to their own territory. Their territory is theirs because, well… they’re there. Israel has no right to occupy it at all by any means. Israeli expansionism, whether by settlements or anything else is an unjust war; extermination of Israel is an unjust war.

    This is where I think the US and the EU should play their role as “honest brokers.” They, and no one else, have the power to end these two unjust wars. Neither side will ever end them by themselves, short of an absolute military defeat followed by ethnic cleansing.

    There is really no question in anyone’s mind that the US and the EU should end the unjust occupation of the West Bank. There has been and is pressure on Israel to end it—although this pressure can always be more intense. But there is no pressure on the Palestinians to end their unjust war. On the contrary, every day brings news of government officials and opinion-makers in the US and the EU calling for negotiations with Hamas, Hiabollah, etc etc. thereby legitimizing their unjust war while continuing to delegitimize Israel’s (as they should). I see this as the classic Antisemitic double standard.

    Antisemitism is not just loose talk. It’s a pillar of the ideologies of Hamas and of Islamic radicals and Arab nationalists everywhere. That’s why Syrian state TV broadcasts series dramatizing the Protocols etc etc. It’s not like they’re broadcasting zombie movies where one could interpret the zombies as Jews. They’re eliminating the metaphor and just showing the Jews themselves as the undead, walking the land, eating young Muslims, etc etc. It’s no crime to kill the undead because…they’re already dead! If Muslims knew that Jews were human beings just like they are, it would be harder to whip them up into frenzies murderous enough to shoot rockets at random at their cities, just to see how many Jews they can kill, etc etc. Israelis do not have equivalent feelings towards the Arabs/Palestinians, as much as they may hate and despise them. They are always torturing their own consciences over their methods because they know that the enemy is human. The Arabs/Muslims believe that Jews are sons of apes and pigs—animals. There is no equivalence.

    Going back to the “honest brokers,” the US and the EU should be demanding an end to both the unjust wars and to the ideologies that are their foundations. In the case of the Arabs/Muslims/Palestinians, this means Antisemitism, among other things. It just means demanding the same respect for Jews and Christians and any other non Muslim that Muslims demand for themselves. This would simply undermine the basis of their unjust war of extermination against Israel. It would undermine their whole world view, as a matter of fact, which believes that Islam is the one true religion etc etc. We (the US and the EU) have the absolute right to make this demand.

    I’m not saying that this would then mean a “long term peace.” I’m not “conflating” this with the long-term solution, although this would have to be part of it somehow. That involves resolving the just wars—Israel’s war for survival and the Palestinian war for self-determination. That’s a war that only Israel and Palestine can end. It’s possible that if the US and the EU used their considerable power to end the unjust wars of expansion and of extermination, then the just wars would be easier to resolve without further violence. But maybe not. Then they’d just have to fight it out to the death, I guess. Somehow I doubt that it would ever come to that if the unjust wars are resolved.

    “Putting Arab and Muslim Antisemitism front and center” means making them answer for it. It means making them defend it or withdraw it. It doesn’t mean just shrugging one’s shoulders at it. It means making it clear that this is not acceptable. It’s part of the “honest broker” role that the US and the EU should be playing. Analogous practices would not be tolerated if it was against any other religion or ethnic group by any other. Why is it tolerated against Israel by Arabs and Muslims? For example, it means that academics would boycott Arab and Muslim nations that practice Antisemitism, just as they boycott Israel for their expansionism. They’re both part of the unjust wars. They should both be fought equally by the “honest brokers.”

    I don’t see anything particularly vindictive about this at all. If it’s vindictive to “rub their noses” in their Antisemitism because it supports their unjust war of extermination against Israel it would be just as “vindictive” to harp on the settlements, if one truly wanted the role of “honest broker.”

    I brought up the Pacific War as an instance where state-sponsored racism was successfully eliminated. I brought it up simply to show that it’s possible. From the 1930s to 1945 nobody would have thought it possible because everybody knew that Japanese and Americans hated each other, etc etc. The main difference with respect to <i>this one issue</i> is that in the Pacific War there were no “honest brokers” to force Americans and Japanese to give up their racist ideologies and resolve the just issues between them. If there had been, then, yes, I can imagine their giving up the racist speech before the war ended.

    The PA and Arab/Muslim nations do not “engage in or allow anti-Semitic speech to be the norm.” They sponsor it. They promote it. They produce it. They repress <i>anti</i> Antisemitic speech. It’s not some free-speech issue. Hamas, the PA, and all other Arab/Muslim nations are running police states. It’s either naïve or disingenuous to suggest that they can’t control it.

    Of course, violence is endemic in society. But that’s a far cry from the violence of Palestine/Israel today. From what I know about the history of the region, before the partition there was a large percentage of Arabs who were willing to live in peace with Jews and the state of Israel. I really don’t know how large a percentage this was but at least it was there and would have constituted the nucleus upon which they could have built. These people, who had no animosity towards Jews and considered them just neighbors, were bullied into cooperating with the rejectionist al Husseini clan. They were bullied by extreme violence or the threat of it. The opposition to the al Husseinis was systematically eliminated so that it remained leaderless. People were atomized and thereby easily bullied into line. I believe that the same percentage of Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims exists today, but that they have no leadership and no voice since they live in police states controlled by racist ideologies. Again, this is where the “honest brokers” come in. We have to do it for them because they can’t do it for themselves. By “they” I mean Arabs and Palestinians and Muslims who have no interest in exterminating Israel.

    I’m not “hesitating” to condemn the settlements or to call for their evacuation. I’m saying that it has to be accompanied by an equivalent pressure on the Arabs/Muslims/Palestinians. I can understand Israelis who refuse to evacuate, or who support the expansion of the settlements, even if I don’t agree with them. They may believe that the settlements are a guarantee of security, that they’re a bargaining chip, or whatever. I think they’re wrong, but I can’t really prove it and even if I could, that would never convince them. It doesn’t matter anyhow since it’s their country. The only way to convince them is by pressure from the “honest brokers.” I think Israelis would be easier to convince if they saw an equivalent pressure on the Arab/Muslim/Palestinian unjust war as well. That is, they’d be easier to convince if the “honest brokers” were more honest.

    The difference between taqiyya and western-style lying in the service of politics or whatever: There’s a famous example of Arafat, a few weeks after the Oslo agreement was signed, in Johannesburg. In a mosque there he made a speech in which he apologized for signing the Oslo Agreements. Arafat continued that he was doing exactly what the prophet Mohammed did when he had made an agreement there with the tribe of Kuraish for ten years. Then he trained ten thousand soldiers and within two years marched on their city of Mecca. Since Mohammed is the only perfect human being for Muslims, anything he did automatically becomes either permitted or required for everyone. We have no comparable belief in the West. As much as we’re used to our politicians lying, it’s impossible to imagine them doing anything like what Arafat did in Johannesburg. Like I said, if they lie and they’re caught, then they’re punished for lying. Their careers may end in disgrace at the very least and at the most they’re liable to face criminal charges. And don’t start in on “Bush lied!” He hasn’t been caught yet. There is no real proof, like there was in the case of Nixon, for example. So, although Nixon had much the same justifications for lying as the Muslims have for taqiyya, the result is not the same at all.

    By the way, I’m about as not Jewish as they come. I think the Jewish religion is the most ridiculous one there is, with the possible exceptions of Christianity and Islam. If I was dictator over there I would take a page out of Lenin’s book and just dynamite the whole Dome of the Rock/Western Wall complex and build the ugliest parking lot I could there.Report

  12. Here’s what I’m talking about. One of seven existential threats Israel faces: Delegitimization.

    Since the mid-1970s, Israel’s enemies have waged an increasingly successful campaign of delegitimizing Israel in world forums, intellectual and academic circles, and the press. The campaign has sought to depict Israel as a racist, colonialist state that proffers extraordinary rights to its Jewish citizens and denies fundamental freedoms to the Arabs. These accusations have found their way into standard textbooks on the Middle East and have become part of the daily discourse at the United Nations and other influential international organizations. Most recently, Israel has been depicted as an apartheid state, effectively comparing the Jewish State to South Africa under its former white supremacist regime. Many of Israel’s counterterrorism efforts are branded as war crimes, and Israeli generals are indicted by foreign courts.

    Though the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza clearly contributed to the tarnishing of Israel’s image, increasingly the delegitimization campaign focuses not on Israel’s policy in the territories but on its essence as the Jewish national state.

    Such calumny was, in the past, dismissed as harmless rhetoric. But as the delegitimization of Israel gained prominence, the basis was laid for international measures to isolate Israel and punish it with sanctions similar to those that brought down the South African regime. The academic campaigns to boycott Israeli universities and intellectuals are adumbrations of the type of strictures that could destroy Israel economically and deny it the ability to defend itself against the existential threats posed by terrorism and Iran.

    Michael J. Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the US, in Commentary MagazineReport

  13. Avatar Max says:

    All right. I just lost the comment I was writing, and will come back to the substance of what you’re saying later. We can have a very long talk about the role of anti-semitism in the Middle East today, which will take us far afield from what’s being said in this piece. (By the way: expressing a desire to blow up the Western Wall? Anti-semitic.) For now, while we are still on the front page, I’m content to point out only that in light of what has been said so far of the costs and absurdities of the settlements, theorizing that they could somehow be “bargaining chips” in a negotiation process is insufficient to proving their worth.

    You cannot credibly argue that settlements are a security barrier when they are divorced from a military presence. (A reality which you seem to understand, since you are now only guessing at what some settlers might think, not what you yourself think about a civilian withdrawal — a topic on which you have been curiously silent throughout this thread, despite the subject of the article.) If anything, settlements are a security liability to Israel. They massively increase traffic over the border, and demand constant military supervision. Not to mention instances where the IDF has to separate settlers and Palestinians who have begun fighting.

    The idea that potential “bargaining chips” are worth the time, money, danger, and effort that Israel goes through every day to maintain settlements is completely ridiculous. A sustained military presence in the West Bank means Israel continues to hold all of the negotiating cards. Settlements do nothing but enrage Palestinians, and cause them to act without thinking. They develop a sense of urgency and panic that is counterproductive to these negotiations.

    Which is why settlers themselves would never make this argument. They don’t see themselves as valuable bargaining chips: they see themselves as settlers. Is this so hard to understand? Their intention is to settle the West Bank until there is no room left for Palestinians. The end. They want Palestinians to die or go to Jordan or do something besides be in Israel. They do not want to live with them, and do not care what happens to them otherwise. This is ethnic cleansing, plain and simple, and it is as extreme and amoral in its ideology and practice as the anti-Semitism exists in the Palestinian psyche today.

    There is no strategic, diplomatic, or moral reason for Israel to allow the settlement process to continue, unless you believe that permanently displacing the Palestinians is the right thing to do in one or more of those senses. Most Israelis do not believe this. But they are afraid of what will happen when they express that to the country’s extreme right-wing, which has long sworn bloody murder if anyone should attempt a massive evacuation. Yet every day that we wait, the prospect of all-out civil war grows more, not less, likely. What will happen to Israel if it agrees to your timetable and waits until Palestinians are not anti-Semitic any more? Care to guess?

    Settlements are not bargaining chips because they are not exchangeable for anything. The PA negotiators know as well as the Israeli ones that if Israel wants a Palestinian state, it’s going to have to give up the vast bulk of the settlements. They don’t need to make any concessions for this to happen; it’s just the “fact on the ground,” as pundits here like to say. The settlement withdrawal will happen, or Israel will be a binational state. It doesn’t matter if the Palestinians start growing the Hitler ‘stache tomorrow and goose-stepping around Jerusalem. The “four wars” fantasy you have so naively bought into has distracted you from the issue at hand, perhaps irretrievably. Anti-semitism is a problem that will endure in the Middle East for a long time, just as you pointed out that it continues to endure in America and Europe. Pouting over this and refusing to do what needs to be done on the flimsiest excuse of holding “bargaining chips” (an utterly bankrupt way of thinking about settlements, both morally and politically) is irresponsible and dense.Report

  14. Avatar Joseph FM says:

    You know, however much I may want to, I can’t really comment on this debate anymore. I’m just burned out on it – as I suspect most Israelis are. It’s just getting hard to care enough when we can’t even seem to agree on definitions or basic facts much less what can be done.

    What it comes down to, though, is that I just want my family to be safe. I don’t want to hear about yet another cousin of mine sent to being sent to war over this. Maybe I’m just being naive and overly emotional, but I can’t help it. It’s personal. I’m Israeli-American. I feel deep shame at what we’ve had done in “defense” even as I understand why we’ve kept fighting, and deep anger at the pseudo-messianic idolater settlers. So all I can say is that I don’t know. I just want an end to the hate and violence. Whatever that means.Report

  15. Avatar Joseph FM says:

    And just before you say “and you’re not angry at the Arabs?” may I just say that of course I am. It should go without saying that if you want to kill me and my family I have little sympathy for you. But I may still have sympathy for your neighbors.

    Okay, that’s all.Report

  16. Avatar Roque Nuevo says:

    Man! And you were the one who accused me of “deliberately talking past” you! When were you planning on coming back to the substance of my comments? It certainly wasn’t in the above.

    1. I mentioned blowing up the Western Wall/Mosque complex as a kind of black humor. But I was clear that my animus was against religion, not especially the Jewish one. Calling me Antisemitic because of this is deliberately “talking past” me.

    2. Your response is almost entirely directed at showing why Israel must evacuate the WB/settlements. I was not arguing in favor of the settlements. I was clear about that. I said, “I’m not ‘hesitating’ to condemn the settlements or to call for their evacuation. I’m saying that it has to be accompanied by an equivalent pressure on the Arabs/Muslims/Palestinians.” I never said that they were bargaining chips or a security barrier. I said that I could understand it if Israelis thought they were–I didn’t say that settlers thought of their own lives as bargaining chips. Saying that I did is “talking past” me deliberately. You present some good arguments against the “bargaining chip” and “security barrier” ideas, but your arguments are not definitive. If they were, then there wouldn’t be any settlements today. Some people disagree with you. Not me. Some people. I don’t agree or disagree because I don’t know enough about the settlements. They’re complex. I’m not immersed in the situation. I can say “I don’t know.” You responded as if I were defending the settlements when this is plainly not the case. Taking my comments as supporting the settlement movement is “talking past” me.

    3. You call Paul Berman’s analysis a “fantasy.” This is not correct. An analysis can’t be a “fantasy.” It can be wrong because it leaves important elements out or whatever. But how can it be a fantasy? It’s an analysis. It’s a way of thinking about the conflict that may clarify it for people, or not. You plainly think it’s erroneous for some reason. Why?

    In my case it does clarify the situation. As Oren says, the campaign to delegitimize the state of Israel is an existental threat, or one of Berman’s “unjust wars.” Antisemitism is one important pillar that supports this delegitimazation strategy. I’m certainly not “pouting” over a strategy to delegitimize Israel and in the end destroy it. Saying so is “talking past” me.

    I insist on this not because I’m especially concerned about Antisemitism in the world and am working towards a world free of Antisemitism. It’s because of all the strategies that are used to delegitimize Israel, Antisemitism is the only one that everyone agrees is wrong. Using the neocolonial/apartheid/racist state strategy garners a lot of support in Europe and in the US (see ChrisWWW on this blog). But nobody will argue that Jews are evil, etc etc. Nobody except Arabs and Muslims.

    Like I said before (more than once and in different ways): this Arab/Muslim Antisemitism is a pillar of support not only for their drive to delegitimize and destroy Israel, but for their world view in general. It’s a really concrete way to fight the ideological war that we share with Israel if we attack them on this point, as minor as you may think it is. Their Antisemitism is so crude and egregious that I can’t imagine how they could defend themselves or how their defenders in the West could defend them for it (although I’m sure they’d find a way).

    4. Antisemitism does not endure in the US. I don’t think it’s really a problem here, if it ever really was. In the past, Jews were excluded from certain neighborhoods, schools, clubs, etc but this can’t be equated with European Antisemitism, which is murderous.

    5. You correct me if I’m wrong: you said that Antisemitism was introduced into the ME by the Nazis, which is true (although the Nazis weren’t the only Europeans to do so). Doesn’t that mean that it wasn’t there before?

    I think it does. Before this European influence, Jews were treated as an inferior minority. The “apartheid” analogy is completely appropriate to describe their historical situation–although there was nothing racial about it. This “apartheid” situation existed in Europe as well, but also they were accused of poisoning wells, spreading the plague, eating babies, starting wars and revolutions, controlling finance, business, and the mass media. This is what was imported into the Arab/Muslim world by Europeans after WWI.

    This is what delegitimizes Israel. Arabs and Muslims will be loathe to give it up just because of this reason alone. Plus, they probably believe it to begin with. But, just as they were induced to believe this stuff, they can be induced to not believing it anymore. I say that it isn’t an endemic situation in the ME like it is in Europe. For this reason, I think it’s a mistake to adopt your fatalism.

    To sum up: I say the above not because it’s the most important problem or the one that causes the most death and destruction. I say it because it’s a strategy in the war of ideas. Attacking Arab/Muslim Antisemitism is a concrete and specific point upon which the vast majority of Westerners agree, or at least can’t disagree with, at least in public. It would neutralize an important part of their strategy to delegitimize Israel.

    I was very clear in insisting that this should be part of the “honest broker” strategy. Why is it so egregiously wrong, irresponsible, and dense to insist that anti settlement pressure on Israel must be accompanied by an equivalent pressure on Arabs/Muslims/Palestinians? According to Paul Berman’s “fantasy” the war of expansion that the settlements represent is equivalent to the war of destruction the Arabs/Muslims/Palestinians wage against Israel. Their ideology is important here and Antisemitism is an important part of their ideology. Neither the settler nor the Arab and Muslim ideologies are acceptable, like I said before many times before you started to “talk past” me.

    I say (and said before as well) that the root cause of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejection of the state of Israel. As much as Israelis may have hated and feared Arabs and Muslims, they never rejected the partition of the British mandate. Therefore, Arabs and Muslims must be made to accept Israel. Attacking their crude Antisemitism is only one strategy for achieving this. There must be multiple strategies of course. But the goal is Arab and Muslim acceptance of Israel. I can’t see anything in your post or comments that addresses this. All I can see is a recycling of the same old formulas and peace processes that have led nowhere for sixty years.Report

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