Bibi’s Final Destruction of the Peace Process Saved Likud

Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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277 Responses

  1. Saul Degraw says:

    I don’t disagree with any of this. Lee brought up the same points. Netanyahu saved Likkud by destroying the farther right parties.

    However, let’s suppose that Netanyahu did not make this speech? Would it mean that Zionist Union would gain more seats and Herzog would be invited to form a coalition government? Maybe but I doubt it. What I think it means is that Netanyahu would have been invited to form a coalition government with the right-wing parties that he destroyed because those parties would have had more seats in the Knesset.

    James Fallows makes some interesting observations:

    “In 2015, millions of Israeli voters decided on a result that will bring Benjamin Netanyahu back for another term. I am sure that some fraction of them did so to register explicit support for Likud policy and all that it has meant. But even without being an expert on Israeli politics I am sure that for a lot of them the reasons were messier. They felt this way about the economy, they felt that way about possible opposition leaders, they voted for Likud as an alternative not to a party further left but one further right. Democracy is especially messy and unpredictable when mediated through a fluid multi-party coalition system.

    From outside the country, that messiness doesn’t quite register. People naturally read the results as a referendum on Netanyahu’s very tough line on Iran negotiations and his recent, revised promise never to allow a Palestinian state. Thus they view the election as they did the U.S. results 11 years ago, as an explicit endorsement of a bellicose foreign policy. Including, in Israel’s case, endorsement of stands (on Iran and the two-state prospect) at clear odds with U.S. policy and interests.”Report

    • However, let’s suppose that Netanyahu did not make this speech? Would it mean that Zionist Union would gain more seats and Herzog would be invited to form a coalition government?

      Part of the point here is that Zionist Union almost certainly didn’t lose any seats because of the speech, so no they wouldn’t have gained anything. The point instead is that Likud went from 20-22 seats to 30, thus going from potentially trailing Zionist Union by four to six seats to outright beating them by six seats. If the breakdown was, as one of the last polls predicted, 24 ZU, 20 Likud, 12 JH, and 5 Yahad, then it’s quite likely that the President invites Herzog to make the first attempt to form a government – even though ZU would have gotten the exact same number of seats as it ultimately received. At minimum, though, the President (who, it must be emphasized, doesn’t like Bibi and would not have done him any unnecessary favors) would have tried to force a unity government in which Bibi’s power would have been significantly diluted and in which walking back the one-state speech would have been pretty simple.

      It’s worth mentioning that the four unabashedly right-wing parties combined only possess 44 seats, and were only projected to possess between 41 and 45 seats, when 60 seats are needed for a majority. Even if you add Shas to that group, you’re only at 51 seats. The parties that would automatically be part of any ZU coalition – Yesh Atid and Meretz – combine with the ZU for 40 seats and, under the circumstances, it seemed pretty likely that at least some parts of the Arab Joint List were going to submit Herzog’s name for PM, so you’re probably at around 44 each at that point. Pretty much no matter what, Kulanu is the kingmaker, and the question is only who gets first crack at cutting a deal with them – unless, of course, the President first forces the ZU and Likud to form a unity government, presumably along with Yesh Atid and Kulanu.

      I realize you’re skeptical that this many people suddenly switched to Netanyahu overnight, but really it shouldn’t be surprising. If the sole reason you’re supporting a smaller party – as was almost certainly the case with most JH voters and a good chunk of Yahad voters – is their unique support for a particular position that is largely unrepresented in the other partys, then you’re almost certainly going to change your vote is one of the larger parties, with a high probability of actually being in power, openly adopts that position after flirting with it for a long time.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

      I’m fascinated by the framing of that article.

      They could have gone for “Netanyahu Reconsiders Peace” or something equally touchy feely. Instead, they went for… that.Report

      • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

        CNN recently changed their online format, going for click-bate headlines almost exclusively.Report

      • Mo in reply to Jaybird says:

        What was the original headline? I don’t see how you could go for a touchy feely headline on a cynical change in rhetoric right before an election and a switch two days later. It’s not a reconsideration, it’s a ploy that no one is going to buy.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        But what’s weird is that he went from “OH MY GOSH! THIS IS SO EVIL! THERE WILL NEVER BE PEACE!” to “Okay. *MAYBE* there can be peace. Maybe.”

        And the focus is on “ha! Flip-flop!” rather than “Whew! That’s so much better than what we had feared!”Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        More like “Jesus fishing Christ, you can’t trust one word out of that asshole’s mouth.”

        In fact, during the time he’s been prime minister, he hasn’t done anything that moves an inch towards a two-state solution, and there’s zero chance that that’s going to change. Whether he says it in so many words or not means nothing.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

        Yeah, what Mike said. I think the reporter shoulda gone with a “FINALLY, Bibi comes clean that he has no intention of pursuing or promoting a two state solution only to return to lying about those intentions two days later” instead of “well, at least he’s playing good politics!” line.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        Well, personally, I’m glad that he’s started telling lies that imply that even he understands the politically smart move is in this direction than the lies that implied that he thought that the politically smart move was in that one.

        The fact that he’s chosen to start telling these particular lies is a good omen.

        (Though, again, I’m a three-state guy myself.)Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

        Within Israel the politically smart move was the rejection of the two state solution. (It got him re-upped as PM.) In the US the politically smart move is to play politics with the pretense of supporting at two state solution.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

        What framing are we fascinated by here, again? And what headline is click-baity beyond what the news actually warrants?Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

      Bibi Netanyahu is the ultimate politician and he is damned good about it. This election was all about Bibi saving Bibi and doing anything to make that happen.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        You and your brother were both on board with the “no two state solution” when he said it. Lee went so far as to offer a “1% Doctrine”-type argument based on a bunch of conditionals regarding Palestinian intentions wrt Israel. (“What if Palestinians really *are* serious about wiping Israel off the map????? What then???) Were you guys dupes in the charade? Are you pissed off now that he’s put a two state solution back on the table? Is it a “no harm-no foul” sorta thing?Report

      • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        On that we can unambigously agree. Bibi cares, more than anything else, about remaining Prime Minister.

        That said, it’ll be damned hard for him to try and tapdance away from his knife in the 2 state option if he forms a right wing coalition.Report

      • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        They are far too busy geeking out over Israel to actually listen to any sort of reason.
        Putting your brains in your ass is hardly a way to plan for the future.
        Spoiler Alert: At this rate, Israel ain’t got one.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @stillwater @kim

        I have always been for a two-state solution and I have always been anti-Likudnik.

        Not all Zionists are Likudnik.

        Kindly don’t tell me what I believe.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        For all the inanities and outright made up fantasies that you spread on this site, you are the last to tell anyone about the wrongness of their views.Report

      • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        FTR I am a zionist myself. In fact my zionism is the primary reason I am so emphatically opposed to the Israeli right. Were I antizionist I’d be celebrating Bibi’s win (as the Palestinian extremists are doing right now).Report

      • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Sneering, you stand nonetheless with them, as they piss off the edge of the diving board.
        Lending your support, tepid though it may be.
        “There must be a Jewish State!” you cry.
        I listen.
        If you were to read my words more carefully (I know, I write a lot),
        you might understand the source of my bile.

        When Lee exclaims “who can they make peace with?”
        The only answer that turns true: “Their Enemies”
        Who Else Do You Bury The Hatchet With?Report

      • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I don’t lie, you can take me at my word.
        I may be mistaken, but that is a far different thing.
        And I know people better connected than you do.
        (How can I say that, truthfully, not knowing who you know?
        You’d have recognized a hint or two of truth in what I often say…)Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        You make comments about how their are certain educational programs where they kill you if people don’t pass and this provides an incentive that American schools can’t do.

        When challenged, you don’t present any thing to back up your claims.Report

      • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I don’t believe anyone’s ever asked me to explain that one.
        The craft of the spy, of the poisoner, is one often learned in such a fashion.
        But, as well, and more obviously, children go to their deaths everyday.
        Some in war, some as sex slaves. There are many things in this world that if you
        fail to learn, you will be killed for.

        It does tend to sharpen the focus, it does.

        But I suppose you’d like something that I could actually source some quotes about (without turning this into 4chan), I could mention the craft of begging, and the blind children of India — blinded by malnutrition, a lack of Vitamin A.

        Did you really not think of any of those, before you thought to question me about that particular thing?Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Don’t give the old make peace with your enemies line. You can’t make peace with your enemies if they are genocidal fanatics.Report

      • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I agree. You might well pity the palestinians in that case
        (or is your head in your ass so much you can’t see the fanatical israelis?).
        The ending to “no peace with your enemies” is easy enough to foretell.
        It’s genocide, pure and simple.
        And I don’t bloody care which side starts it, people are going to die.

        And if you sit there being squishy about fixing anything…
        It’ll all happen that much the worse.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Kimmie, you and many people seem to believe the worst of anything said by an Israeli leader but your quick to excuse all the Jew hatred that spews out of the mouths of Palestinian leaders as not being sincere. Same for the rest of the Muslim world even as they descend into madness.

        The Palestinians are in a position of safety because of Israel.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        The Palestinians are in a position of safety because of Israel.

        This type of “logic” is really puzzling to me.Report

      • @stillwater @kim Especially on this issue, I’d prefer if we kept the comments limited to things specifically said on this thread and not bring in items from other threads. I can’t blame Saul and Lee for responding defensively, whatever disagreements I may have with them here.Report

      • Zac in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @leeesq “Don’t give the old make peace with your enemies line. You can’t make peace with your enemies if they are genocidal fanatics.”

        I’m pretty sure Hamas says the same thing.Report

      • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Nixon made a better politician than Bibi.
        Bibi is lost in delusions that are dangerous for his entire country.
        At least Nixon’s delusions were mostly personal.Report

      • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Because getting bleach thrown in your face is now safety? Because having your houses destroyed, and your water stolen is now SAFETY?

        Exactly how delusional are you?

        Apologies, but Lee’s made most of his views clear earlier. Not that I was calling him a Likudnik or anything… I’ll try to keep earlier stuff out of this thread.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @zac Hamas openly and proudly calls for the expulsion of Jews from the Middle East. Even at his worst Netanyahu and most other Israeli politicians never came close to such rhetoric. The ability of people to ignore the constant Jew-hatred that plagued Palestinian politics and society for decades before Israel existed and continues into the present is worrisome.Report

      • Zac in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Hamas is most definitely nuts, but they certainly don’t have a monopoly on genocidal fanaticism.

        The Palestinians could say the same thing you’re saying: how can you negotiate with people like this?

        My point is that when you call an entire people “genocidal fanatics”, you’re doing exactly the thing you (rightly) accuse Hamas of.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Chris says:

      “Let me be clear, if you like your one state, you can keep it!”

      “Read my lips. No. New. States.”Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:


        “Look, when I said I rejected a two state solution I meant that I’m perfectly amenable to a two state solution so long as certain conditions are met. Why are you guys bustin my balls on this????”Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

        “I take this opportunity of emphasizing that there is no cannibalism in the British Navy. Absolutely none, and when I say none, I mean there is a certain amount, more than we are prepared to admit.”Report

  2. North says:

    Great post Mark.

    The Israeli right encapsulated in haiku:
    Times aren’t bad right now.
    Forget about the future.
    Feast on the seed corn.Report

  3. Kim says:

    Excellent points on this Pyrrhic victory, bibi canabalized his own coalition.

    A bit of levity from the victors:
    One has to wonder if these are merely people who have no knowledge of the internet, or if they know the internet Too Well.Report

  4. trizzlor says:

    The analysis on the voting block changes is great very informative, thanks for that.

    I feel like Netanyahu’s radio show admission was much more controversial in the West than in Israel, which suggests that we might have misread it. Based on the statements I read, which are certainly cryptic, he could be saying that he’s against a two-state solution in general or that he’s against it under the current Palestinian leadership. The latter would be entirely consistent with his previous policy: he thinks Hamas (and to some extent the PLO) are equivalent to ISIS, and he is unwilling to negotiate with them unless such preconditions are met which would essentially require the two organizations to change their fundamental views. The “flip-flop” that Chris links to above, is even more evidence that Netanyahu was referring to the latter, even if he wanted to leave some ambiguity.

    Now, in practice, saying “I’m against a two-state solution” and saying “I’m for a two-state solution conditional on my totally unrealistic demands” is the same thing. But Netanyahu has always said the latter, and it just doesn’t add up that he would switch to the former in a vague response to a radio interview.

    My read is that, like you said, Likud got an abundance of votes from a right-wing that wanted to stave off a Herzog lead by any means necessary and so moved to the center. But I don’t think the polls are accurate enough to read into the minor shifts *within* the right-wing parties as an indication of ideology.Report

    • Kim in reply to trizzlor says:

      Does it matter?
      If Obama is allowed, finally free of scruples, to put a bit of pressure on Bibi, well…
      if he wasn’t delusional, he’d listen!Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to trizzlor says:

      I decided to take a closer look at some of the English-language Israeli media and what they were covering on Monday and Tuesday, and you may be right about the radio-show statement itself being a bigger deal in the US than in Israel. Ha’aretz covered it quite a bit, but since they’re left-leaning and not widely read within Israel, I probably shouldn’t take that with a grain of salt. More interesting for purposes of this theory is that I couldn’t find any coverage of the story at all from Hayom, which is a right-leaning paper with a fairly decent sized circulation. (Then again, the Jerusalem Post is covering the story pretty heavily now, even though they didn’t cover it much earlier). This is just a small sampling, though, so I don’t want to discount the notion that it was specifically the apparent abandonment of the two-state solution that was going on here.

      That said, it still looks like it was Bibi’s last-minute politicking focused specifically on the Palestinian issue that did the trick for him. That issue was just about all he was pushing the last day of the campaign, and he especially jumped on the late news that, for the first time ever, some of the Arab parties were contemplating supporting the opposition party’s candidate for prime minister. He turned the fear-mongering about the Arabs and security questions up way past 11 – his “Arabs are voting in massive numbers” on election day was tamer than some of the stuff he was saying the day before the election in heavily covered speeches and events. He really, really went after the Jewish Home and Yahad vote, and did so quite explicitly. Pretty much nothing that he said (or at least that he was covered saying) had to do with any issue other than the issues of Palestine and “the Arabs,” by which he typically was referring to Arab-Israelis, whose loyalty he was openly questioning.

      It seems pretty clear, one way or another, that something major happened in the last 36 hours, though – these weren’t minor shifts within the right-wing parties. These were massive shifts – Jewish Home’s support declined by essentially a third to a half overnight, from a level of support consistent with its then-existing representation in the Knesset (ie, polling support for Jewish Home couldn’t be chalked up to mere signalling). The especially interesting thing here is that Yisrael Beitenu’s support didn’t change at all in the last 36 hours, even as the support for the other two rightwing parties completely collapsed. To be sure, Yisrael Beitenu still lost several seats, but that had been expected for a long time in light of Avigdor Lieberman’s personal troubles; I’m more interested in the fact that it performed consistent with the polls, and indeed that every single party performed more or less exactly how the polls predicted except for Likud, Jewish Home, and Yahad.

      For Likud, the difference between the polling and the actual results was well beyond the margin of error for every single final poll that was conducted – and in an election where the only group that seems to have increased its turnout in an unpredictable manner was the Israeli Arabs. For Jewish Home, the actual results were at least slightly outside the margin of error or right at the margin of error – again, for every single poll (Yahad’s support was always low enough that any decrease in support would have been well within the margin of error, but nonetheless the consistency of the polls is still noteworthy).

      I don’t think the change can just be chalked up to a sudden fear of a ZU victory – there were several weeks for those fears to start taking shape, and if that’s what was going on, the final polls would have at least caught the beginning of this trend.Report

      • trizzlor in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Wow, this does make a lot of sense. I hadn’t realized the ZU had become a threat early enough for the polls to pick up, so in light of that the consistency in shift is indeed pretty convincing. Hayom’s silence on the one-state issue is still puzzling, you’d think this was a win for Adelson that he’d be capitalizing on.

        Anyways, my hope is that this was a short-term win that develops into a long-term loss for the right. It’s apparently relatively easy to whip up the far-right into a froth and get them to support Likud for the better good. But hopefully the moderate Likudniks start to notice where their party chooses to go for last-minute votes and grow uncomfortable with it.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Mark Thompson says:


        A few days before the election – and before Bibi made his arguably racist claim about arab voters and his rejection of a two state solution – Josh Marshall quoted Israeli polls as projecting about the exact opposite outcome as what we got. ZU at 28 or so, Likud at 22-24. I haven’t followed it closely Mark’s account of the change is at least an account, ifyaknowhwatImean. A pretty good one at that.Report

  5. LeeEsq says:

    I think one reason why analyzing this Israeli election is difficult is that a lot of the hatred and rage directed at Netanyahu seems strangely personal. Netsnyahu’s policies aren’t really that radically different than any of his predecessors or realistic alternative. Anybody who could become an Israeli PM would have retaliated against Hanas for lobbing missiles.

    Sharon and Olmert got a lot of criticism like Netsnyahu does but it was different. They were hated for their policies but not personally. The level of rage at Netsnyahu seems rawer and more emotional. He stands in for whatever domestic policies and politicians you hate if you identify as a leftist.Report

    • trizzlor in reply to LeeEsq says:

      @leeesq : I think one reason why analyzing this Israeli election is difficult is that a lot of the hatred and rage directed at Netanyahu seems strangely personal.

      I think his history is relevant here ( ). Netanyahu is more like Cheney than Bush Jr. in his unrepentant hawkishness, and the rhetoric against him follows accordingly.Report

    • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Sharon and Olmert aren’t on record bragging about how they undermined Oslo from 1996 to 1999 during their first stints as Prime Minister.Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to LeeEsq says:

      @leeesq I think @trizzlor is correct that Netanyahu’s history is relevant, though I agree with you that his critics are probably often not aware of his bragging about undermining Oslo or even necessarily his especially blunt rhetoric.

      I think instead that the history that is relevant is that Netanyahu’s partisan involvement in American politics isn’t a new thing in the least. He’s been a regular on Fox News for years, and has always been extremely vocal in his support of American movement conservatives (and thus his opposition to the American left).

      What’s more, he spent a good chunk of his childhood in the US (ie, he didn’t just go to college here), meaning that he doesn’t just speak fluent English, he outright sounds like a native English speaker (and specifically one from Philadelphia). That means that when he speaks for an American audience – which is often – his speech is full of all sorts of idioms, hyperbole, adjectives, and adverbs that even someone who speaks excellent textbook English would never say.

      All that said, his close ties to American movement conservatism and interest in hyper-partisanship as to American politics is also a big reason why I feared him in a way I never feared Sharon, even when Sharon was viewed as more militant than Netanyahu. I’ve written a lot over the years about the corrupting effects of involvement with the American two-party system, in which partisan interest groups wind up being influenced by other elements of the party as much or more than they wind up influencing the party itself.

      However blunt and militant Sharon may have been, he didn’t have the artificial priors to restrict his openness to various options that Netanyahu has. For Sharon, it was about security, period, and in whatever manner he thought would work. For Netanyahu, his vision of “security” is limited by his desire to maintain ties with movement conservatives and, increasingly it seems to me, to maintain and build a coalition of “the Right-wing” in Israel itself. While Sharon – like any Israeli Prime Minister – needed to worry as well about maintaining his governing coalition, I don’t think it ever felt like it was that important to him what other parties were in that governing coalition. For quite awhile with Bibi, it’s felt like he’s more interested in keeping “the Right” together than in achieving any particular outcome.

      It’s the difference between John McCain and Ted Cruz – McCain is, if anything, more of a hawk than Ted Cruz and would not hesitate to start a war. I don’t want him as my President, ever. But he’d at least have a goal in mind and have some flexibility as to how to achieve that goal. Cruz sure seems like he’d reflexively adopt a policy without giving it much more thought than the symbolic value of it and without any real idea of what he’d hope to achieve with it. That’s Bibi.Report

    • Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Wasn’t it bibi that killed an Israeli ally’s children LIVE on Israeli Radio?
      Do you really need the fucking audio? You can listen to his screams if you want…Report

  6. A Compromised Immune System says:

    I’m confused as to how 31% of the vote counts as “victory”; it looks like Likud could be left out of the goverment if ZU manages to put together a coalition? ZU + AJL + Yesh Atid is 49% of the government right there, all they need is one other party – the left wing Meretz or the centrist Kulanu – to leave Likud in the cold.

    Or is there something in the system that I’m not understanding correctly to prevent this?Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to A Compromised Immune System says:


      Netanyahu gets the chance to make a coalition first under Israeli law because Likud won the largest number of seats. He could fail though.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to A Compromised Immune System says:

      The President of Israel by law(?) (custom?) directs the party leader whose party received the most votes to form a government. If they are able to make a 50%+1 coalition in the Knesset, that ends the process. Only if they fail to form a government does it go to the party with the 2nd highest votes, and so on – at which point ‘unity governments’ are usually formed. But failing that, if nobody is able to do anything in 90 days (I think) another snap election is held.

      (all this based on reading over the last couple of days)Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Kolohe says:

        I consider this to be a flaw in the system. It’s not an uncommon one. Two center-left parties in the UK win a majority, but the center-right guy becomes PM.Report

      • A Compromised Immune System in reply to Kolohe says:

        So theoretically then, ZU can talk to the other parties, reach an agreement, and that’s that – Netanyahu’s attempt fails?

        Here are the parties highly unlikely to sign up with Netanyahu.
        AJL, 14%
        Yesh Atid, 11%
        Meretz, 4%
        Together they make up 29% of the government. That plus Zionist Union leaves Netanyahu unable to form a government at all.

        Why would ZU sign up with Netanyahu? They’re a center-left party.Report

      • North in reply to Kolohe says:

        ACIS they used to be part of Likud. They’re not exactly arch enemies though their leader and Bibi are none too fond of each other.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to Kolohe says:

        @a-compromised-immune-system This is incorrect. The numbers are of seats in the Knesset, not percentages. There are 120 seats, so you need 60 seats to form a government, and conversely 60 seats to block a government. Those 29 seats plus ZU’s 24 only work out to 53. The other centrist and ultra-orthodox parties are likely to be more than willing to take any kind of reasonable offer to be part of the government regardless of who gets first crack at forming it.

        Additionally, while unlikely, I wouldn’t rule out Yesh Atid from Netanyahu’s potential coalition – they joined his coalition once before and if he needed them (which he doesn’t) he’d surely be willing to offer them a sweetheart deal.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:


        If we go with what ACIS wrote down below, we get:

        ZU (24), Yesh Atid (11), Meretz (4), Kulanu (10), and AJL at 14.

        That’s a total of 63, so plenty of players in that group would have incentive to form an anti-Bibi coalition, not the least of which would be AJL. Is that a feasible alliance?Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to Kolohe says:

        @stillwater The AJL is by no means unified on the issue of joining an opposition government, and I believe one of their constituent sub-parties has said it would walk away from the List if the other elements of it join a ZU coalition. So that 14 probably gets reduced to at most 10 or 11 (and maybe even less).

        What’s more, it’s not just a question of whether a coalition is possible – there’s no reason some of the ultra-orthodox parties couldn’t be part of a ZU-led coalition, – Shas, for instance, has been part of every Israeli government, Labor or Likud.

        The bigger question is who the President gives the first crack at negotiating to. And that’s Likud. Anyone who refuses to negotiate with Likud is taking a huge risk of being left out of the government entirely.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

        Hmmm. A sorta first-in, best-rewarded type thing. I can see that.

        Oh well.

        Given your post and Chait’s piece, I think we’re looking at a long slog of nastiness when it comes to Israel and Israeli policy.Report

      • Kim in reply to Kolohe says:

        My sources on the ground give that coalition (should bibi be unable to form his own) about 8months. Totally and utterly unstable. It could form a government, but it would fall apart rapidly.Report

    • ACIS – You’re including the Arab party list in your calculation and they refuse to participate in coalition governments in Israel that way. With the AJL out that leaves a hole that Meretz can’t fill. Also, as has been noted before, Bibi gets the first crack at forming a coalition government.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

        That’s incredibly dumb on part of the Arab MKs. They relish in their powerlessness.Report

      • A Compromised Immune System in reply to North says:

        But @north , the political platform of AJL in this election was their intent to form a coalition and prevent Netanyahu and Likud from forming a government. I suspect that changes the calculation. If it is a choice between yet another Netanyahu government and lending token participation in the coalition, they may be pragmatic.

      • A Compromised Immune System in reply to North says:

        @leeesq From what I understand it is not relishing powerlessness but making a statement that they do not want to be considered complicit in the military decisions of Israel by being part of the majority coalition. But this is also the first time the previous 4 Arab parties decided to unify under a single ticket, so this election is already an election of firsts for them. Perspectives may change upon realizing that they can actually play kingmaker and prevent Netanyahu from winning but only by joining a coalition government against him.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to North says:


        So, if I hear ya right, you’re saying AJL would throw in with a majority if it means keeping Netanyahu out? Is such a coalition a realistic possibility?Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to North says:

        The Arab List said on Monday that this year it would be willing to consider supporting Herzog for PM, though it would have only likely been part of the List since there was a lot of opposition to the concept.

        It’s also worth mentioning that it’s a pretty recent thing that there’s any meaningful difference between the nominal “Left” and “Right” on the Palestinian issue, particularly on the question of settlements. Jewish Home didn’t exist at all until recently; now they’re a central element of Netanyahu’s governing coalition.

        And it’s not just the Palestinian issue – a good chunk of it is the rise of discriminatory legislation against Arab-Israelis.Report

      • A Compromised Immune System in reply to North says:

        @Stillwater , it became more likely today. ZU has officially announced that they are going to challenge Netanyahu and refuse to coalition with him.

        So that leaves the calculation this way.
        ZU, 24%
        Yesh Atid, 11% (total 35%)
        Meretz, 4% (total 39%)
        Kulanu, 10% (total 49%)

        The only way Bibi makes a coalition is somehow enticing Kulanu. Given that Netanyahu’s Likud party has admitted to forging a recording just a couple days before the election claiming that the head of Kulanu, Moshe Kahlon, had accepted membership in a coalition government and the post of Finance Minister, that seems unlikely at the moment.

        On the other hand it also leaves a 49% ZU-headed coalition trying to make 51% somewhere to avoid a re-election trigger. The remaining options are Likud itself (obviously not), Jewish Home (relatively unlikely), and the two Israeli hyper-conservative religious parties Shas and United Torah Judaism (snowball in hell).

        For the first time, exactly two parties have the ability to play kingmaker, AJL and Kulanu, and neither of them has any love for Netanyahu whatsoever. The only question is whether AJL will actually throw everything back to elections, risking Netanyahu getting a favorable shift in the polls and garnering a slim new 51% control, or take the “sure thing” to keep him out of power by joining a coalition.

      • Mark Thompson in reply to North says:

        @a-compromised-immune-system Again, these are raw numbers, not percentages. 49 seats is not 49 percent, and leaves them 11 seats short of what is needed. ZU’s announcement is not remotely surprising – they were always quite open that they had no interest in working with Netanyahu and were comfortable being in the opposition. The only way they might have wound up in a coalition with Likud would have been if they were effectively tied with Likud and the President successfully strong-armed them into a unity government (which actually was what most people were expecting to happen if the election results reasonably tracked the polls).

        But that would have been considered a huge loss for Netanyahu, not for the ZU.

        Additionally, your assumption that Kulanu is unlikely to join with Likud is a huge assumption. Ideologically, they’re an offshoot of Likud. There’s personal animosity between Kulanu and Likud now, but that only has the effect of marginally increasing the price Kulanu will require Likud to provide it – it doesn’t make them completely unwilling to join Likud by any means. Their leader’s stated goal was to join any government willing to make him the finance minister, and it’s hard to imagine Netanyahu won’t offer him that, plus perhaps some other minor concessions to smooth any remaining tensions.

        If they refuse that offer, then the outcome will be that Netanyahu is either able to offer Yesh Atid a sweeheart deal, or is forced by the President to negotiate with ZU for a unity government. In either event, Kulanu probably gets left out of the government entirely, so there’s essentially no chance that they’d turn down any reasonable offer from Netanyahu.Report

      • A Compromised Immune System in reply to North says:

        @mark-thompson thank you for correcting me on my misreading of the numbers.

        It’s still a 120 seat body. By my count ZU, YA, Meretz, Kulanu, and AJL add up to 63 seats. I don’t see how Netanyahu can make a coalition without any one of those defecting and I don’t see any of them defecting.Report

      • Kim in reply to North says:

        everyone’s been assuming that Kulanu will join with the Likud, as they’ve been squish-in-the-middle.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to North says:

        @a-compromised-immune-system @kim is correct. Kulanu has little reason to let their personal feelings over Likud’s shady tactics interfere in any significant manner with their willingness to join Likud. Their stated goal all along has been to have their leader appointed as finance minister – they may or may not have preferred that they be finance minister under Herzog, but their primary interest is in controlling the finance ministry. They’re a center-right party that is an offshoot of Likud, so there aren’t any great ideological hurdles – they’ve probably got as much in common with Likud ideologically as they have with the centrist parties.

        Likud will certainly offer them the finance ministry, plus maybe some other less significant concessions to smooth over any hard feelings from the campaign. It would make no sense, given their interests, to turn that offer down and categorically refuse to join any Likud-led coalition.

        If they turn Likud down, then they’re taking an incredibly high-risk gamble that Yesh Atid would also categorically refuse any offer by Netanyahu.

        And even if that gamble turns out to be correct, then the next step would be for Israel’s President to try to strong arm ZU into a unity government (which the President has wanted from the beginning since he has no love for Netanyahu, and since it’s always been a longshot that ZU would be able to form a sustainable coalition government absent a landslide victory for it). Any unity government would likely leave Kulanu out in the cold.

        If, and only if, the President’s attempts to strong-arm a unity government fail would ZU get a shot to form its own governing coalition. Even then, it would probably have only a brief window in which to do so before a new election gets called. And as I mentioned above, the best that could be hoped for would be for a majority of the Arab List to join the coalition, which likely still leaves them a couple seats short of 60. Worse, even any portions of the Arab List that did join would have a precarious relationship with the rest of the coalition, making the coalition very easy to break.

        More likely, ZU would need to get Shas and UTJ into the coalition, which would probably mean the loss of any Arab List support – it’s hard to see any part of the Arab List joining a coalition with two ultra-orthodox parties. If ZU got both Shas and UTJ, though, this would more than offset the loss of the supporting portions of the Arab List.

        Still….that’s a ton of ifs that Kulanu would need to put its faith in for it to turn down Likud’s offer of the finance ministry just because it was offended by Likud’s shady election tactics. Given their interests, it would be colossally stupid for them to take that gamble, even if it would help restart the peace process (in which they probably would not be involved in any event), and even if most of us outside of Israel would love to see them do it.

        The chances that they take that gamble are close to zero.Report

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    Chait has an interesting comparison between Bibi and Arafat and how one-staters on the Left and the Right see Bibi as the way this is going to happen:

    • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      As usual I’m generally in agreement with Chait though I don’t like his tone about what the outcomes may be. I don’t think there’ll be a conscious choice on the part of the Dems to “punish” Israel over this but Bibi had to stop his fan dance over the 2 state solution to win this election and the removal of that ambiguity will have consequences. There was potentially a lot of stuff hiding behind that figleaf.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to North says:

        I don’t like his tone about what the outcomes may be

        What do you mean here? You just don’t think the outcomes he sees are probable? Or you actually don’t like his tone when he talks about them? What do you not like about it?Report

      • North in reply to North says:

        @Michael Drew I’m having trouble putting my finger on it but on my first read it felt almost like he was implying that the Democratic Party should/would do something to punish Israel for this electoral outcome. But possibly i’m reading too far between the lines. I am a Chait fan ftr.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to North says:


        The Democratic Party? Or the United States? Why shouldn’t the U.S. bring consequences for the recent path of Israeli policy and actions on the world stage?

        It’s hard to know what you mean by “punish” (does that mean any consequences electively initiated by the U.S., or just some subset of those?), and “for this electoral outcome.” Meaning, does bringing consequences for Netanyahu’s racial politicking, and especially his kneecapping the bare idea of a two-state process – where such consequences wouldn’t (obviously) flow had Netanyahu not continued in office – count as “punishing” Israel “for this electoral outcome”? Or are those consequences for something other than the electoral outcome strictly speaking?

        If the latter, that seems like an extremely fine distinction to me. If the former, why shouldn’t there be such consequences? What are you basically saying is okay here and what isn’t? And why?Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to North says:

        @michael-drew, I think the most obvious, (and easiest) way to punish Israel, is to stop playing Israel’s big brother on the UN Security Council. A lot of things that would’ve passed, but we stopped, might mysteriously start passing over the next 12-18 months.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to North says:


        That’s actually another step I meant to take in that comment and forgot to pursue it. The U.S. is clearly signaling it’s quite possibly going to head down the path you’re describing. So… is that “punish”ment “for this electoral outcome” that @North has a problem with? Or is it not punishment? Or is it not “for this electoral outcome”?

        I’m just not clear what the thing is (things are) that North thinks Chait’s tone may be suggesting “the Democratic Party should/would do… to punish Israel.” The Democratic Party doesn’t really take such actions regardless; I assume we’re talking about things United States government officials and agencies led at a given time by Democrats may or may not do. And then… what are those things they shouldn’t and wouldn’t do by way of punishment “for this electoral outcome”? It’s rather clear that Democrats (in official capacities in the United States government) are preparing to take some actions in response to all of this. How does that fit into North’s prescription/prediction?

        Maybe those things don’t qualify as “punishment.” Maybe they’re not going to be done strictly as punishment “for this electoral outcome” per se, rather in response to policies and statements. (Even though had Bibi not won, he still would have said what he said and campaigned as he campaigned. He just wouldn’t be expected to be in office as PM much longer at all, so presumably his words could be ignored. So the salient fact here seems to be that he won and will retain his office. So it does seem like this is in response to this electoral outcome.)Report

      • North in reply to North says:

        Like I said Michael, I’m pretty spongy and uncomfortable on the subject. It seems pretty evident that Bibi has put the US into a particularily bad corner. Bibi himself has clearly recognized just how badly he shat on the rug considering how swiftly he reversed himself (and before he even nailed his coalition down even, which suggests to me that some Israeli officials probably bawled him out in private).

        I’m of the opinion that the US needs to seriously talk about allowing some pro-Palestinian state resolutions either pass in the UN or to say something to the effect of “we’re gonna have to let such resolutions pass unless Israel’s new government puts up big time to prove they’re serious about preserving the 2 state solution.”
        I mushily feel like Chait may have been hinting at an attitude somewhat more towards the latter option (but note I am a big Chait fan and Chait is a pretty solid Israel supporter so this may be a misplaced feeling).
        What I’d not like to see happen is for the Democratic Party to begin inching down that path of taking the attitude that “Bibi has been crapping on us on behalf of the GOP for years now and we’re sick of it, screw it- they’re on their own.” I’d hate for it to become a partisan thing.Report

  8. Saul Degraw says:

    Haaretz claims Israel moved to the left despite Bibi’s victory:

  9. Kazzy says:

    I am woefully ignorant… can someone explain to me how coalition governments work?Report

  10. Kazzy says:

    A sincere question…

    I know that it is not inherently anti-Semitic to oppose a Jewish state. In fact, many Jews oppose it for a host of reasons. But there seem to be large swaths of people who, should they express opposition to a Jewish state in general or Israel as a Jewish state in particular, are labeled anti-Semitic. And, often times, these folks are expressing that belief but undoubtedly explicitly anti-Semitic reasons.

    But does that fence swing both ways? Should the “one-state” crowd — who would seem to be analogous to the previously mentioned “large swaths” — be labeled as anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic, or whatever the equivalent is? Or is it different?

    I guess what I’m wondering is… it seems far more acceptable to oppose a Palestinian state than a Jewish state. A) Am I sensing that correctly and, B) If I am, is that how it ought to be?

    I’ll submit I really don’t have an answer…Report

    • Zac in reply to Kazzy says:

      A) Yes, in the sense of American political discourse.
      B) No, though of course YMMV.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Kazzy says:

      I support a single binational state because I believe there is no scenario that will result in a sane two state solution anytime in the near future, but Palestinian’s rising up and calling to become part of Israel will be a far more effective tactic.Report

      • North in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        Jesse, the Palestinians rising up and calling for a single state would be incredibly effective, especially if they formally began dissolving the PA. It is the Israeli right’s worst nightmare because they have quite literally no way to counter it*.

        Realistically speaking, however, the Palistinian Authority is very heavily incented not to dissolve their own jobs so it’d be a tough sell.

        *Though after their behavior under Bibi it’d definitly be deserved.Report

      • Kim in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        It’s not a good solution, and America would need to back it just as hard as Europe would.
        But it’s the only solution that doesn’t result in unacceptable morality (at least I hope).Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        I’m not so sure how much that’s different than the official PA position. In theory, a single political entity from the Med to the Jordan River & Dead sea, and wherein was full political equality for all citizens, would ‘solve’ the problem of the so-called right of return and would in short order upend the political system that gives Jewish citizens de facto and de jure special privileges. (or alternatively, fewer restrictions on movement and labor)Report

      • North in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        In principle Kolohe, sure. But in practice we’re talking about PA employees giving up their cushy sinicures for a life of at least short term and likely long term poverty agitation and likely imprisonment.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        Why do many people think that we could magically create a secular democratic state in Israel/Palestine by writing a theoretically suburb constitution for it? Its basically hoping that Israel/Palestine could be a sort of bubble immune from all the problems in the region. All the factions that plague Israel/Palestine now are still going to exist plus your going to add all the problems that exist in the rest of the Arab Muslim world into Israel/Palestine.

        Lets take religion for example. Everybody assumes that you could get the new citizens of bi-national Israel/Palestine to accept secularism and strict separation of religion and state. I see no reason why this would be the case. Theocratic politics are popular throughout the Muslim world from Morocco to Indonesia. There are going to be hundreds of thousands or millions of Palestinian Muslims that are going to want a non-trivial association between Islam and the new state. There will be six million Jewish citizens opposed to this. I can’t see any peaceful resolution to this issue or the host of other culture war issues that are going to exist.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        @jesse-ewiak have you ever considered why the Palestinians aren’t doing this even though it would be effective? Its because many or even most Palestinians can’t stomach the idea of sharing Israel/Palestine with the Jews. That has been the position of Palestinians since before Israel. Palestine is an Arab or Arab/Muslim country and there is simply no room to share with all but a token number of Jews. Its really not hard to find evidence for this. Its been the consistent principle of Palestinian nationalists.Report

      • North in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        Lee, I doubt most people think that a single state solution would turn out well- far from it. But the black and white fact is that if Israel rules out the two state solution- which they are rapidly doing in deed and now increasingly in word, then a one state solution is the only moral alternative. Immortal alternatives are, of course, apartheid or ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from the territory Israel controls. Frankly Isreal has managed to escape the apartheid label only by virtue of their ostensible commitment to the two state solution. As that solution fades the line dividing Israel from South Africa fades too.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        Seems to me the arguments Lee’s offering here are very much in line with the Israeli right’s position on the (lack of) viability of a two state solution and (as Mark put it) “calls into question the long-term survival of an Israel that is both officially Jewish and democratic”. If an earlier link is accurate, fully 33% of the individuals living under Israeli jurisdiction are citizenless Arabs who are denied the right to vote. And that’s just one issue in play.

        Interesting interview with Bibi yesterday on NPR. He effectively asserted that both Jews and Arabs agree that Jewish settlements on post-67 lands will be considered Israeli under any two state solution…. (???) Hearing him say that sorta blew my mind.Report

      • Kim in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

        No, it’s hoping that Palestine can be just as fucking sensible as IRAN.
        You know, the country who could kill Israel at any fucking time, but has the blasted sense not to?
        Yeah, that one.

        Israel as a country is enchantingly easy to kill, I think even Hamas could pull it off, given a bit of time and inclination.

        Nobody In Power really, really wants to destroy israel, or it would be done by now.Report

      • @stillwater

        Interesting interview with Bibi yesterday on NPR. He effectively asserted that both Jews and Arabs agree that Jewish settlements on post-67 lands will be considered Israeli under any two state solution…. (???) Hearing him say that sorta blew my mind.

        In fairness, without more context, I’m not sure how that’s different from “1967 borders, plus swaps,” which is pretty widely accepted position. The problem with the settlements is that the more they expand, the more difficult “plus swaps” becomes.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:


        The problem with the settlements is that the more they expand, the more difficult “plus swaps” becomes.


    • A Compromised Immune System in reply to Kazzy says:

      Maybe in part because there are dozens of Arab and/or Muslim states but only one Jewish state worldwide?Report

      • Is it desirable that for any given ethno-religious group, there exist somewhere at least one ethno-religious state corresponding to that group’s identity?

        Or is it desirable only if at least some groups already have an ethno-religious state?

        What principle could justify the existence ethno-religious states without completely repudiating our liberal principles?Report

      • Murali,
        Japan’s ethno-religious state doesn’t harm many people (ainu excluded). It’s an offhand type of racism, rather than an overt and malicious type of racism.Report

      • @kim

        Perhaps we can be more nuanced about things. Perhaps it is a smaller deviation from liberal principles than more overt and malicious ethnocentrism. But it still seems ipso-facto criticisable on that score no?Report

      • Murali,
        Yes, though we should be careful — if there’s no law on the books about it being an ethno-religious state (merely a true statement that “ya know, there’s a lot of people like that here”)… I can’t see that as being unethical.Report

      • Well, then its not ethnocentric. Ethnocentric AFAIK means that the formal institutions are configured to rather explicitly favour one ethnic group.Report

      • Murali,
        a restrictive immigration policy will favor the predominant ethno-religious group.Report

      • @murali I’d answer those first two questions “no” and “yes,” respectively.

        It seems to me that nationalism is on the whole a normatively bad ideology that would be better off not existing at all. But it’s an ideology, so once it existed, there was no real way of stopping it from spreading.

        To be sure, it’s probably a beneficial ideology for any given ethnic group to adopt. But the effects of it for those outside of the ethnic group are often pretty horrible and illiberal, especially if they’re living within the territory claimed by that group. Then there’s the issue of what it means for those on the border of the new nation-state.

        Thing is, it’s a pretty damn powerful ideology and once it succeeds for one nation, it becomes increasingly imperative for affected groups and regions to adopt it themselves, if only as a defensive measure at first, while less affected nations may be inspired to adopt it as effectively an offensive measure right from the outset.

        It seems to me that there’s a threshold at which the nationalism cat is so far out of the bag that the only way to mitigate its worst effects is to ensure as many ethnic groups as possible have their own nation-state, or – far preferably – semi-autonomous nation-state. Not only that, but at that threshold, it outright becomes a moral imperative, as failing to do so becomes a license for oppression, aggression, and, at worst, genocide.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to A Compromised Immune System says:

        @murali let the Arabs and Muslims take the first step into adopting secular, cosmopolitanism. Jews will give up our state when the Muslims dismantle their world. Why should we be the ones that always have to take the risky first steps?Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to A Compromised Immune System says:

        Secular or no, cosmopolitanism requires access to resources and infrastructure (both physical and social), and that’s being denied to Palestinians. It’s on Israelis to make the first steps because they’re the only ones with shoes.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy says:


      A)Internationally no. The majority of Muslims world wide are deeply opposed to Israel’s existence at all. They have no problems with their being dozens of Arabs and Muslim states though. In Europe, you have similar feelings among large swathes of the population as well. Same with a lot of the rest of the world.

      B)Yes. Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism or at least evidence of a very strong antipathy towards Jews because the anti-Zionists never ask where would the Jews be without Israel. The treatment of non-Arab Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa isn’t great. About half of Israeli Jews are from Middle Eastern or North African countries. Without Israel, they would be subject to the same persecution that Arab Christians are currently subject to. Most of the rest of Israeli Jews are from Eastern European countries. Without Israel, they would have been trapped under communist rule in Eastern Europe with its’ own toxic Jew hatred. The current situation might not be good for the Palestinians but they are only half the equation. You also have to ask what happens to the Jews without Israel.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Thanks, @leeesq . But what of Jewish anti-Zionists? Are they all “self-loathing”? Is it possible to have a reasoned objection to a Jewish state in general? Israel in particular? From the little I’ve read on the founding of Israel, alternative locations were proposed and some folks, Jews and non-Jews alike, felt that founding a Jewish state — particularly the way Israel was founded — would be worse for the Jews than not doing so.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Many Jewish anti-Zionists are either naive in a most dangerous way or not necessarily self-loathing but narcissistic and think that they can make a splash and an name for themselves by being completely anti-Zionist.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        You know more than I… But that strikes me as unfair. “They’re either dumb or narcisistic.”Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I think calling them narcissistic makes a lot more sense than self-loathing. A lot of the professional anti-Zionist Jews are full of themselves and make a good living from their views. I can’t really think of anything else to call a person that believes Hamas is more objectively progressive than Meretz than dumb or narcissistic.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:


        But do such folks make up the entirety of the Jewish anti-Zionist movement? I mean, I’ve heard some Jews say, “Man… It’s just not worth it.” Now, that would seem to indicate they place a very different value on the existence of a Jewish state. Which to me seems a fair position for them to take… not necessarily dumb or narcissistic.

        Sure… professional opinion holders of any type are generally going to end up being pretty objectionable. But I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about your ‘run-of-the-mill’ Jews… like the neighbors I had growing up… who opted not to participate in my town’s celebration of the 50th anniversary because they see Israel as having done more harm than good for the Jewish people. And these weren’t young people… many of them were older than Israel itself.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:


        Contrast Lee’s earlier comment with this one,

        <i?Many Jewish anti-Zionists are either naive in a most dangerous way or not necessarily self-loathing but narcissistic and think that they can make a splash and an name for themselves by being completely anti-Zionist.

        From a purely political perspective, both claims strike me as equally accurate. People are people.

        But on a psychological level, the whole “self-hating Jew” thing is seriously question-begging. It presupposes that there is a “correct” way for a Jew to think about things and provides a psychological account for why that person fails to so think. It’s entirely circular, begs all the questions in play, but even worse, it’s irrefutable! There is simply no evidence a Jew could provide to justify his or her anti-Zionism which would overcome the “self-hating Jew” logic.

        {As a side note, the logic employed in explaining away certain people’s views by attributing to them certain motives or psychological “facts” is a really big peave of mine. One that I’ve harped on repeatedly over the years. This is just another instance of it.}

        People’s claims ought to stand or fall on the merits of the claims expressed. If a person’s views are obviously ridiculous it hardly seems necessary to offer a psychological account of why they believe what they do in place of a refutation of those beliefs. /rant over!Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        That Jewish critics of Israel are self-hating implies that non-Jewish critics of Israel are what? (I think Lee’s been pretty consistent on this.)Report

  11. Michael Cain says:

    Fareed Zakaria’s Washington Post piece pretty much reflects what I think Israel’s long term problems are. (1) They’re a nuclear power with the full triad of delivery systems; claiming that MAD won’t protect them from Iran seems silly to me. (2) There are 4.5M or so people living in Israeli-controlled territory that aren’t citizens of anywhere, and that number is growing. It seems to me to be impossible to sustain this forever in a country that is nominally a democracy. I say nominal because the top court there has opened the door for laws that explicitly discriminate against Israeli Arabs.Report

    • Yeah, I couldn’t agree more with both those points.

      James Fallows wrote a pretty compelling piece a couple of weeks ago that Bibi’s obsession with blocking any deal over the Iranian nuclear program is a function of his desire to prevent the US from realizing its interests are diverging from Israel’s interests, which would be a huge blow to Israel. Certainly, a shift towards Iran and away from the Saudis (who, other than their official recognition of Israel, have all of Iran’s worst vices, plus some others, like cultivating the ideology that’s given us ISIS and al Qaeda) has a fair amount to recommend it from a pure standpoint of American interests.

      I’m not sure I fully buy Fallows’ argument – I think it underestimates the extent to which Bibi’s partisanship limits his worldview and gives him tunnel vision. More charitably to Bibi, though, it occurs to me now that the combination of an American shift toward Iran with Iran eventually getting a nuke could in fact theoretically pose an existential threat for Israel by effectively removing American nukes from any MAD scenario, thereby limiting somewhat the deterrent effect of Israel’s own arsenal. That scenario still seems wildly implausible to me, for various reasons, but I can see how it might not seem that way to Bibi.

      Still, Fallows’ argument makes a lot of sense.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Iranian nukes aren’t just a threat to Israel, they’ll completely alter the balance of power throughout the region and very likely be a strong deterrent to any US naval presence in the Persian Gulf, since we could lose a carrier task force and would be unlikely to retaliate with a nuclear strike against Iranian cities in response to a purely naval military strike in what Iran considers its home waters.

      It would also make everyone much less likely to commit significant forces against Iran’s proxies, and incline all of Iran’s enemies to build their own nuclear arsenals. Saudi Arabia has already talked about starting a nuclear program. If the whole region ends up with nukes, it’s just a matter of time before the balloon goes up.Report

      • This is a helpful perspective and good point. This is probably the most cogent explanation for a hardline on Iran that ive seen. Thanks, George. I suspect the nuke issue becomes moot if there’s a successful American pivot towards Iran in the long run, but thinking this will happen requires a level of trust that has yet to be earned.Report

      • Damon in reply to George Turner says:

        You say that likes that’s not the future regardless?Report

      • North in reply to George Turner says:

        All well and good but even acknowledging these facts doesn’t support Bibi’s posture.
        Israel and the American Right playing spoiler does nothing to put the screws to Iran. Quite the contrary, the ability of America to sustain or intensify the sanctions is directly dependent on Iran looking like the intransigent one who walks away from bargaining. If the right and Bibi succeed in poisoning the negotiations and make America/Israel look at fault the sanctions regime could collapse.

        Absent diplomacy, of course, Bibi has no options or plans to offer.

        A military strike could set Iran back a year, would utterly destroy the sanctions regime and would focus all of Iran on a sprint to the bomb. Failure, Iran gets the bomb.

        If sanctions collapse all incentive for Iran to deal vanish. If they want the bomb they can mosey on up to it with little difficulty. Failute, Iran gets the bomb.

        And of course the Neocon wet dream: we invade Iran. Success, Iran doesn’t get the bomb, failure, we get fishing IRAN. God(ess?) help us. Also the public has no desire to invade Iran so if the neocons run at it and fail to persuade the public? Failure, Iran sprints madly to the bomb and no one outside Europe and North America blames em.

        No, if Bibi and the right’s priority was preventing an Iranian bomb then logically they would be keeping utterly silent or supportive in public while working back channels madly and trying to eliminate or minimize other distracting issues (like Palestine).

        Instead, their priority appears to be preventing an Obama a success of any form in diplomacy with Iran and viewed in that light their actions jive perfectly.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to George Turner says:

        “very likely be a strong deterrent to any US naval presence in the Persian Gulf, since we could lose a carrier task force and would be unlikely to retaliate with a nuclear strike against Iranian cities in response to a purely naval military strike in what Iran considers its home waters.”

        The very worst idea (from the Iranian pov) is for the IRIN or Qods force to use a nuke in an attack against a US Expeditionary Strike Group. (ESG) (i.e. a Carrier and the ships that sail with it).

        First, they’re not going to have a lot of them, so you use one, you’re almost depleted your inventory (kinda like the US was after Nagasaki).

        A pre-emptive strike on a US ESG – in an assumption of complete tactical and strategic surprise, but which is fair because its happened before – would, yes, kill about 6,000+ people. But it would also 1) galvanize world opinion against Iran 2) be followed up, in short order (within a day) with a conventional air attack on Iranian targets from other TLAM shooters in the area and/or CONUS based long range bombers. Which would then be followed by successive waves of air attacks from US and allied air power in the region until every bit of military hardware in Iran is ready for the recycling bin.

        The order of magnitude of military force available to the US over that available to Iran means any first strike by the Iranian regime (and the key is, that can be easily attributable to the Iranian regime) on US assets is regime suicide, with or without nukes.

        The US can change a regime with the snap of the fingers – what we suck at is building something that fills in when the ancien regime is no more.Report

      • North in reply to George Turner says:

        What Kolohe said. If Iran were to nuke anything, but especially a US military asset, the rest of the world would either jump in the US anti Iran band wagon or mouth platitudes while staying strictly out of it with their hands over their heads. Russia and China would do the latter but you can be absolutely certain they would lift not even a finger to aid Iran; they probably wouldn’t even smuggle them arms.

        There’s no telling what would arise out of the rubble in Iran after that fact but you can be sure it wouldn’t include any element of the current Iranian regime and the Iranians are keenly aware of that.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

        FWIW, I don’t think George was saying the US would lose a carrier force as a result of Iranian nuclear weapons. He was saying, seems to me, that the US could suffer a terrible defeat at the hands of conventional Iranian arms (unimaginable, really, but such is the way of thought experiments) and not be able to retaliate. IOW, a nuclear capable Iran could engage in conventional warfare and other whatnots with less likelihood of reprisals.Report

      • greginak in reply to George Turner says:

        But we all agree it would be bad for us if Iran has a nuke. That is the point of the negations, to try to prevent that because going to war would be a terrible idea that likely wouldn’t work, take many years and have massive, serious repercussions. Successful negations and an eventual, hopefully, rapprochement with Iran is by far a better alternative for us. That is why we are doing them and the action of the 47 war mongers is so frickin harmful.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:


        Yes, I think that was George’s point. A nuclear capable Iran changes the geopolitical dynamics on multiple levels.Report

      • greginak in reply to George Turner says:

        Still…well yeah… That is the part we all agree on.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

        Yeah. Some of us just disagreed on what George was saying. 🙂

        He was responding to the claim that a nuclear capable Iran doesn’t constitute a real threat to Israel by suggesting that having the nukes indirectly allows for other actions which (I guess) incrementally destabilize the region, endangering both Israel as well as US interests.Report

  12. aaron david says:

    Not sure if you have seen this, but an interesting take on the subject:

  13. LWA says:

    I generally refrain from commenting on Israeli/ Palestinian threads here or elsewhere, since there doesn’t seem to be any obvious angle for me.
    Which is kinda my posture.
    What is the end game here, for both the Palestinians and Israelis? What is their desired outcome?
    Is there some scenario where the Palestinians give up and become loyal Israeli citizens? Is there some scenario where they vanquish Israel and “drive them into the sea”?

    While I don’t claim expertise in the politics of the two sides, I do remember how other ethnic feuds- the Irish Troubles, the Latin American communist insurgencies, the Red Brigades- all seemed hopelessly deadlocked, with genocidal maniacs on one side and fascism on the other being offered as our only choices.

    So I am more than a bit skeptical of the claim that it is complete support of Likud or the utter destruction of Israel especially when that dovetails so neatly with the political and financial interests of so many, in Israel, America and in Muslim capitals throughout the region.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to LWA says:

      One reason why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so difficult to solve is because of all the international attention placed on it. Both sides have a near unlimited number of supporters that they can call upon and that encourage them into not compromising. Muslims are never going to tell the Palestinians to go hang no matter how many bad choices Palestinian leaders make. Israeli leaders are also going to find international allies no matter how inflexible they become. Israeli leaders might not have the unlimited amount of potential allies that the Palestinians have but it is close.

      Another issue is that Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morphed from the sort of ethnic-religious conflicts that were common after World War II into a globalized Dreyfus Affair. During the Dreyfus Affair, each side became symbolic of the fault-lines in French society at the turn of the 20th century. The Dreyfussards represented the legacy of the French Revolution, modernity, and secularism. The Anti-Dreyfus faction believed in patriotism, religion, and tradition. Likewise, each side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict now is vested with symbolic meaning. To lots of people, supporting the Israelis means to be in support of Western values against illiberal forces. Palestinian supporters see themselves as the champions of indigenous peoples and the wretched of the earth against Western imperialism and colonialism, as represented by Israel. Good luck trying to solve a conflict with such symbolism invested in it by both sides.Report

    • A Compromised Immune System in reply to LWA says:

      The Hamas charter calls for the total obliteration of Israel.

      The Palestinian Authority / PLO “promised” to eliminate similar clauses from their Charter as part of the Oslo Accords, but somehow never got around to doing so.Report

  14. Kazzy says:

    What is the justification for opposing a Palestinian state? How much of it is purely punitive?

    Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but why not say: “Okay… You go and stay over there and we’ll stay over here and we’ll just leave each other alone.”

    I know Israel has little reason to tryst they’ll be left alone, but if they take this approach and the Palestinian state and/or its supporters continue to agitate, Israel will have a pretty strong international backing, no?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

      The 2nd Intifada is somewhat of an interesting justification for opposition of a Palestinian state. “Imagine if they had all of the tools of a state to oppose us!”

      The aftermath of the withdrawal from Gaza was a somewhat interesting justification for opposition of a Palestinian state. “We left. Look what happened.”

      That, of course, was a million years ago, though.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy says:

      Read the Vox thread that Saul referred to in his thread. The average Israeli wants to be rid of the entire issue but doesn’t trust the Palestinians enough for security reasons. They basically think that if Israel departs from the West Bank that the West Bank would become a launch pad for missile barrages and terrorist attacks into Israel like Gaza did after Israeli withdrawal in 2005. At least a plurality of the Palestinians are dedicated to the notion that getting Gaza and the West Bank back are merely step one. Step two is to capture Israel within its’ 1948 borders. Considering the outrage at the last Gaza war, Israelis do not think the world takes their security needs seriously.

      The current chaos in the Middle East isn’t giving the average Israeli much confidence. A West Bank that falls to ISIS or an ISIS-affiliated group is a nightmare scenario for Israel.

      Basically opposition to a Palestinian state for most Israelis revolve around issues relating to security. They aren’t going to let the Palestinians go without some concrete guarantees that an independent Palestinian state will not be used as a base for violence against Israel.Report

      • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        But, of course, if West Bank Palestine did devolve into such behavior Israel could threaten, and if ignored actually elect, to go back in to secure their borders. This would be something that the entire world (or more specifically the parts Israel cares about and needs) would have no choice but to support them in doing. The security conundrum is a real one but it is neither existential nor intractable.

        The concrete problem, the real one really, is that Israel has a daunting task presented to it in extricating its settlements and other fingers (water especially) from the Palestinian territory. That would be difficult for their polity to pull off under the best of circumstances if they were getting things they want from the Palestinians (mainly promises of good behavior and nice talk about recognizing Israel’s right to exist. Talk, mostly valueless talk, but pretty much all the Palestinians have left to offer and, alas, accordingly something the Palestinians frenetically resist offering).
        Since the Palestinians won’t offer the fig leaves, that leaves unilateral withdrawal which is even more difficult since then they’re basically returning the land and pulling back without anything to show for it except averting future catastrophes. It’s kind of like global warming writ small in many ways.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I’m not at all sure you’re reading on European reaction would be what you say it would. Arafat demonstrated that the Palestinians can retain sympathy through a lot.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @north, I’m really not sure that Israel could go back to the West Bank if necessary after an evacuation. The reaction to Israel’s conflict with Gaza this past summer does not make me confident about it. I think the reaction would be to tell Israel to cool it and take it like a man because colonialism or something like that.Report

      • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        We’re not talking about sympathy or good feelings here. If Israel’s existence depended on the good will of powerless left wingers or university students it’d be a smoking crater fifteen years ago now.
        The threat to Israel comes from large numbers of low info citizens and businesses boycotting/divesting from Israel and/or from national governments closing down ties with Israel or sanctioning them over their domination of the Palestinians and over the settlements (above all, the settlements).

        If Israel removed the settlements and withdrew and the Palestinians went the Gaza* route then I see zero change that Israel would face any serious threat of sanctions or organized boycott/divestment movements from the portions of the World Israel needs to survive. Sure the Palestinians would cry colonialism and the protesters would march at Berkley but on Main street, Wall Street and in London, Paris, DC and Geneva, the serious policy makers, the low info masses who elect the serious policy makers and the people with their hands on the levers of economic power would all be highly sympathetic to Israel’s stance and highly unsympathetic to the Palestinians.

        Don’t forget just how badly the initial Palestinian bombardment from Gaza was received internationally. It wasn’t for the better part of a decade after years of Bibi stonewalling on the West Bank and generally being himself that opinion began to turn back. With the settlements gone that pro-Israel sympathy would be magnified a hundred fold. Face it- absent the settlements Israel is pretty much unambiguously on the side of the angels to any but the most committed anti-Israeli’s in the west.

        *And I invite you to seriously consider how unappealing the Gaza route would look to the Palestinians if Israel pulled out. “We just got rid of those motherfishers and you want to give them an excuse to move back in?!?!”Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @north, nearly every time Israel responded to a rocket barrage from Gaza after the Gazan withdrawal, the result was a war crimes inquiry of some sort that was heavily biased against Israel. The same was true for when Hizbollah decided to used southern Lebanon as a base to launch attacks against Israel as well.

        I think your analysis is underestimating Palestinian and/or Muslim irredentism when it comes to Israel, the dependence of European politicians on the growing Muslim electorate, and conflict fatigue for people not particularly sympathetic to the Palestinians but want the issue resolved because of magical thinking. If the Palestinians in the West Bank decide to go the Gaza route, which I don’t think is unlikely, than there will be a lot of pressure on Israel not to respond so as to not continue the conflict.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        What were the results of those war crime inquiries?Report

      • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Lee, you seem have some kind of genuine horror of jawjaw because, as Kazzy notes, there was absolutely no substantive outcomes to harm Israel that came out of those inquiries; just a lot of jabber. If Israel traded the West Bank (and the existential threat posessing it poses) for a situation where they had to deal with some sporadic attacks out of those areas and got empty denunciations for it (and note, that’s a worst case scenario) that would be an excellent trade for Israel.

        Hell, you yourself note further down in these comments that handing off the West Bank is Israel’s least bad option. You just seem hung up on wanting to get something in return for doing it. If I refuse to pay you to discard a ticking bomb you should discard the bomb. The act of being rid of the bomb is reward in of itself. Anything you get on top of that is just gravy.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Another word for “sporadic attacks” is “people being killed”. While I tend to agree that a separate state on the West Bank is the right path forward, let’s not treat the downside quite so dismissively.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Are the sporadic attacks killing up or are they killing down?Report

      • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Mike Schilling: Granted, though considering the outcome of Gaza’s attempts, sporadic attacks means very very few Israeli’s being killed and a lot of Palestinians dying as a consequence. I remain unconvinced that the PA would do a similarily idiotic dance if Israel withdrew unilaterally and if they did those deaths, while tragic, would not represent an existential threat to Israel whereas their continued entanglement with the West Bank most assuredly does.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

      There is a sense (sometimes I have it, sometimes I don’t) that an independent Palestine would be at war with Israel within six months of its independence. A war made more difficult by the fact that the other side has a government, and you’re on their land which you have less control over. (And that some Palestinians might be emboldened by their gains, if they see it as Israeli weakness.)

      I still believe that it is the Least Bad Solution for Israel, but it’s still not a good solution.

      (And I don’t think that they actually will have a whole lot of international backing. Especially if Palestinians play it smart. “That’s not us. That’s some of our people – who we can’t control – making those attacks. They are still faced with such great injustice and indignity, we just can’t stop them.. And don’t you dare come in here and try, Israel.”)Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        This is pretty much my belief. Israel really has no good solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Leaving the West Bank and letting the Palestinians to have their own country is the least bad solution because it puts Israel off the hook for the most part.Report

  15. Murali says:


    You and Saul claim to not be Likud-niks, but right now I’m not seing any significant difference between you and them. You don’t want a two state solution. You don’t want a one state solution on equal terms either? So what is your end game? Ethnic cleansing? better them than us?Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Murali says:


      I haven’t really been participating much in this thread so I don’t know why I was called. Ethnic Cleansing is not the solution and is as close to Goodwin hyperbole as you can get without crossing the line. What is it about Israel critics that can’t resist a Nazi comparison? Does it have a nice edge?

      But Jews aren’t going to go back and silently taking oppression and bigotry either.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Murali says:

      @murali Saul said he wasn’t a Likudnik. I never made such a statement.Report

  16. Stillwater says:

    Here’s a link to Netanyahu’s post-election comments on NPR.

    The takeaway: No one-state solution; no two-state solution; settlements in the West Bank will cotntinue to be built and expanded; those settlements status as Israeli (even ones in area C) is non-negotiable; the conditions under which Bibi would accept a two-state solution are logically impossible to meet (ie., there is no way any Palestinian could achieve via negotiation the conditions he demands).

    He further says that settlement building in the WB isn’t an issue in achieving a two state solution. (??? Really Bibi?) Nor is Palestinian recognition of Israel’s right to exist. The crucial issue is a Palestninian promise to not “flood Israel with the descendants of Palestinian refugees”.

    So, apartheid it is!Report

    • Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

      As long as we don’t let in any new (once resident) Arabs, we can deal. Wait, you’re saying our policies are racist? You’re obviously the real racist then.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        What does a two state solution mean if the result is Jews being a minority in both states?Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        As long as we’re admitting that the very basis of the discussion is racism, I’m fine noting that the Right of Return for Arabs makes the two-state solution impossible from the strict Zionist perspective. That is, the Right of Return, without more extensive anti-Arab laws and blatant apartheid in Israel proper, the Right of Return means the end of an ethnically-based Jewish state.

        What’s so pernicious about the settlements is that it displaces more and more Arabs in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and then combined with the complete denial of a Right of Return of any level (naturally, even a limited one that should not create an Arab majority would be allowed by Israel in a two-state deal, because of racism), means Israel can continue to expand through ethnic cleansing without any possible repercussions.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        Right, not wanting to be a minority in a part of the world that treats minorities the way the Middle East does is pure racism. As is not wanting to be part of a multinational state given the examples of Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        So let’s just say that both sides do it and agree to disagree.Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        This game can be played all day, so that we can justify our version of racism. Like, clearly Israel has learned from Saddam, Assad, and Gaddafi that the way to maintain peace is to brutally suppress ethnic minorities. Would that be unfair? If you don’t think so, you’re the racist!Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I see it more as “culturism” rather than “racism”.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        I see it more as “culturism” rather than “racism”.

        Imagine, if you will, an Israel in which Westernized, secular Arabs comprised the majority. many of whom wrote books translated into other languages and engaged in commerce. According to your “cultural” analysis, Israeli Jews oughta be hunky dorey with such a state of affairs even tho it undermines the Jewish identity of Israel.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Dunno. There’s “westernized” and there’s “westernized”.

        Do you live surrounded by people who apologize for people who bomb abortion clinics? Westernized ones?Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        I’m saying your preference for a cultural rather than racial analysis is seriously misguided.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

        @stillwater Hamas was able to turn Gaza into at very least an annoyance if not a security risk in a fairly short amount of time. A West Bank that the PA cannot control can become an annoyance or security risk in the same way.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:


        “Annoyance” is now a defeater? Bibi didn’t say anything about that!Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:


        Palestinians are people, just like Jews and Murkins and the Irish. If the bar is set so high that “security risk” is a defeater – or “annoyance”!!! – then it seems to me you’re rejecting the humanity of those folks to protect not your own life, or your own security, but some sorta idea you have in your head, one which you apparently care about so much that the actual lives of Palestinians don’t matter.

        Fair enough. And I mean that!

        I just wish you’d come out and say it instead of insisting that Palestinians are immoral, evil, insidious malcontents. It’d be more honest.

        Unless you really think Palestinians are immoral, evil, malcontents.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I’m saying your preference for a cultural rather than racial analysis is seriously misguided.

        I don’t know how to test for race.

        I can, however, do stuff like say “does this culture translate books into its language? To, like, read for pleasure?” and then come to a conclusion.

        How ought I do that for race? Skin color?

        White people are looking pretty good on the poetry front! Yay! White people! How are white people doing on superhero movies? Oooooh. Pretty bad. They seem to be behind all of them.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        I don’t know how to test for race.

        Man, wouldn’t it be great if the problems in the Middle East could be eliminated by a scientific test?

        What a brave new world, no?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Why not, instead, test stuff in *UN*science?

        We can posit axioms and if there are disagreements in practice, mess around with the people who are screwing everything up!Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        Hey, I thought you were *all about* axioms. That ought to be right up your alley!Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        We can work on it together! Let’s come up with all sorts of theories and, hey, if people die… well, they’re just Jews or Arabs right?

        Out of curiosity, what’s your theory on the whole “let’s have peace in the Middle East” thing? I don’t believe you’ve ever stated it.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        Two state solution, pre-67 borders.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I’m sure that’d work exactly as advertised.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        Wait. You’re criticizing me for advocating a two state solution when you want THREE of em?

        You’re too much, Jaybird.

        I mean, Good one!Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Dude, who’s criticizing? I was praising!

        I’m certain that your solution will work. We should totally do that.

        I abandon my solution and embrace yours.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        You need a nap, I think. The fever dreams are taking hold…Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I’ll need a bedtime story first. Tell me what you think will happen after the papers are signed and we go back to pre-1967 borders.

        Is it peace? I hope it’s peace!Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        The 1967 borders would place East Jerusalem, which includes the Western Wall and others of the most important Jewish holy sites, in the Arab state. Given that between 1948 and 1967, no Jews were allowed in East Jerusalem (those who had lived there were expelled), and many Jewish synagogues and graveyards were desecrated or outright destroyed, Israel would never agree to that.

        Maybe if you gave it control of Mecca to guarantee good behavior.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Just because they did that last time, that’s no reason to believe that they’ll do it next time.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        It’s a good story Jaybird. Are you all tucked in? OK. Let’s begin.

        Once upon a time there were two groups of people who wanted to live in the same place. For years they bickered and fought over it, sometimes shedding each others blood. (What’s that honey? Shedding blood is when a person gets hurt pretty badly. No, more than an ouchy. An ouchy is a bruise. Yeah, a bit more than that. OK?) But then another group of people who had a lot of power said to one of them “YOU SHALL HAVE THIS LAND”. And everyone in that group rejoiced! It was the happiest of days! (Why? Because they had a HOME sweety, a place to call their own. Yes, that’s right, just like us. Ready? OK) But what no one understood at the time was that the folks who were living there would be upset about this. That they didn’t want to give up their own homes so the others could live there. (Huh? No, they didn’t. No, they thought they should get to keep their homes. Huh? Well, it wasn’t that simple, honey. Sometimes. But sometimes people don’t like others telling them what to do What? No, not god. Just another group of people who What? Uh. Yes. Yes, that’s right. How’d you know, honey? That’s the way it went. Ready? OK) And they all lived peacefully ever after.

        Good night, sweetie!Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Yay! Peace!

        I’m so pleased that we had a happy ending due to your suggested solution!

        Now I can sleep the sleep of a child.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        Israel would never agree to that.

        No, it wouldn’t, would it.

        I guess I shoulda gone with the 47-48 borders so’s to have something to negotiate with.Report

      • Murali in reply to Chris says:


        According to wkipedia, palestenians account for 49% of the population in the combined Israel, west bank, gaza area. So, if there was a single state, they would be in a minority (I presume that other non-Jewish groups are too insignificant to make up the numbers (and would likely side against Palestinians in most political matters in any case))Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

      Mike Schilling,

      Let’s suppose what you mention is a legitimate worry (I mean, it is a legitimate worry, I don’t disagree) and go from there:

      If there is no one-state or two-state solution under which the Jewish identity of Israel is guaranteed over time, then blaming Arabs for failure of either of those two outcomes to manifest is simply a politically convenient fabrication. So let’s just call it like it is: Israel’s desire to maintain its Jewish identity requires it to reject a political solution to the existing problems. Palestinian intentions/history/politics/etc drop out of the equation entirely as far as this issue goes. (That leaves aside other issues, of course, like settlement building and other policies which may or may not be relevant as part of a larger analysis.)Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        Would an influx of immigrants from the region significantly change the culture? Like, for example, would abortion be limited?Report

      • Owen in reply to Stillwater says:

        This is pretty much my view as well. I sympathize with the desire for Jewish-majority state given the widespread persecution of ethnic minorities of all sorts. But given demographic realities in the region, there is no way to reconcile that desire with the fundamental principles of liberal democracy that I value.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Stillwater says:

        @owen, yet there is no evidence that turning Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank into an Arab majority state with a Jewish minority would mean that the resulting new country would remain a liberal democracy. The advocates of such a solution never seem to be able to explain why such a state would work when all the other mixed ethnic states in the region are falling apart or why the theocratic politics popular through out the religion would not exist in the new country. The only answer is that a really great secular constitution will be written for the new state and it will be magically followed because reasons.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:


        How many of those other Arab and/or Muslim majority states have really well-written, secular Constitutions brokered by the international community and under the watchful eye of several Israeli allies? I mean, Israel and Palestine can be different. We can’t guarantee it will be but a different, more thoughtful, more intentional process can certainly yoeld different results. Unless, that is, you assume all Arabs/Muslims/Middle Easterners are the same.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Stillwater says:

        @kazzy if the secular constitution is written by outside forces than it will not be accepted by the citizens of whatever new country is formed by combining Israel and Palestine. Different people will oppose it for different reasons but next to nobody will accept its legitimacy. If it is written by the citizens of the new country than good luck trying to get a consensus. The constitution convention is going to include hardliners of every type and some squishy liberals. There will be Jewish theocrats and nationalists, Islamists and old-school Arab nationalists, some really idealistic leftists with starry eyes, and skeptics of all sorts. I do not see any consensus or agreement coming along.

        As to international enforcement? Are you kidding? Unless the international enforces are given some real substantive power, in other worlds a sort of state over the state, than any enforcement is going to be not enough.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:


        It seems to me you think there is no hope for Muslims/Arabs/Palestinians in Israel/Gaza/WB. Is that a fair understanding of your position?Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Stillwater says:

        @kazzy Arabs in Israel are citizens and have voting rights. They sit in the Knesset, hold judgeships, and positions in the civil service.

        As to the West Bank and Gaza, Israel is going to have to probably take a big risk and let an independent Palestinian state come into existence.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:


        Noted. But, if I’m understanding correctly (and, if I’m not, do let me know!) it seems an argument is being made that Israel should limit the growth of the Arab/Muslim population within Israel. That seems to include denying citizenship to Arabs/Muslims in Gaza and the West Bank and/or limiting immigration of Arabs/Muslims. And the justification for these efforts is that Arabs/Muslims can’t be trusted. Whether launching bombs or forming a majority and then curtailing Israeli/Jewish rights, the belief remains the same: do not trust the Arabs/Muslims.

        It’s weird… in a strange way, this mirrors how some of my neighbors up here in Monroe, NY discuss our Haredi neighbors: they must be stopped before they destroy our way of life. Limit their land acquisition, pass zoning regs to restrict population density, fight their attempts to access water and sewer…Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:


        take a big risk

        I mean this seriously: why is it a big risk? A fledgling Palestinian government won’t have any means to “drive Israel into the sea”. At a minimum, they won’t have any means other than every other Muslim country in the region has to accomplish that goal and why would they necesarily have any more means to accomplish that if they’re an official state actor?

        On the other hand, we already know (from what Bibi said) that Jewish settlements in the WB will be considered part of Israel. Should they? I seem to recall you criticizing Palestinians for refusing to recognize the right of Israel to exist within it’s pre-67 borders? Does that apply to Israel as well?

        Do the Palestinians just get whatever is left of the WB after Israeli’s have picked over all the good stuff?Report

      • North in reply to Stillwater says:

        Stillwater, the Israeli’s have been pretty up front about intending to retain Jerusalem and the larger settlement blocks. The carrot of their negotiations has been that if the Palestinians cut a deal with them they’d land swap territory in Israel proper (mainly desert in the Negev IIRC) to make up for it.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        (mainly desert in the Negev IIRC)

        Nothin keepin this deal from goin thru! Who doesn’t love some waterless desert?

        Heh. I kid.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater says:

        That is crazy; it would be like a lot of people moving to Arizona.

        * Phoenix and the Negev both average 8 inches annual rainfall.
        * The average high temperature in August in the Negev is 91. In Phoenix, it’s 104.


        * The current population of the Negev is about 600,000, exectd to rise to 1.2 million in the next 10 years.
        * The Western section of the Negev, adjoining Gaza, was slated to be part of the Arab state in the 1947 partition plan.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:


      • North in reply to Stillwater says:

        In fairness to the Israeli’s those points about land swap, who really has rights to it, water etc.. was supposed to be something they sorted out once they hammered out the bigger stuff but they’ve never really gotten to that point negotiation wise.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Stillwater says:

      After elections politicians have much more flexibility This is known.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

        Except …. the inflexibility expressed in that NPR interview is a response to Bibi’s last-minute pre-election turn away from flexibility. So, the opposite of what you’re suggesting.Report

    • So, basically kick any decisions down the road. Trust that the US will cover us in the Security Council on Palestinians that aren’t citizens of anything, and the whole “rogue nuclear state” thing. I may not live to see it, but I expect there are going to be a bunch of disappointed countries, including Israel, when the US gets serious about disengaging from much of the rest of the world in 25-30 years.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Obama has made some pretty serious comments about Bibi’s newfound rejection of the two state solution. Course, being a political context and all (and the fact that anyone paying attention realizes that the only new thing is that Netanyahu actually said he rejects a two state solution) it’s hard to take Obama seriously here as well. One thing that strikes me as unlikely, tho, is that Obama is merely trying to leverage Bibi purely politically. That is, when Obama says “we take Netanyahu at his word” about rejecting a two state solution, I think it’s quite likely to have consequences down the road for not only US-Israeli policy, but the role the US has played in the UN as cover for Israel.

        The more I think about this issue, tho, the more I agree with Chait that this whole strange drama Bibi has played out over the last few week suggests a pretty radical shift in US politics regarding Israel.Report

  17. Lurker says:

    The Israeli Right: It’s okay to ethnically cleanse and/or subject the Palestinians to apartheid because it is their fault a peace deal was and is impossible, because they are essentially violent and not to be trusted and cannot live in peace with us. We are engaging in a self-defense form of apartheid and ethnic cleansing (including against Palestinian children.)

    Everyone who isn’t racist: Preemptive self-defense is always the stated justification for apartheid and ethnic cleansing (and for genocide and not maintaining legal slavery, too).Report

  18. Jaybird says:

    Imagine, if you will, having the axioms “All Cultures Are Equal.” and “Not One Culture Can Be Claimed To Be Better Than Another.”

    Take a couple of cultures, both thousands of years old and plop one down in the middle of the other.

    The first one, taken at random, will be called Culture B. The second one, taken at random, will be called Culture A. (The names were given at random before I got here.)

    Culture A has a lot of commerce, but it primarily (if not mostly) involves sale of the stuff that it has the mineral rights for. There aren’t a lot of books written or translated either in or out (not zero, but a depressingly low number). Culture A’s attitudes towards women’s rights is different from Culture B’s. Women tend to need male relatives to escort them around, for example. Abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, is illegal. Within Culture A, there is a *LOT* of violence against other members of Culture A.

    Culture B creates a lot of stuff and engages in a lot of commerce. It writes a lot of books that get translated into other languages and takes a lot of books written in other languages and translates them into its own language. It has some rudimentary women’s rights that include women voting and women having control over their own reproductive destiny. Within Culture B, there isn’t a lot of violence against other members of Culture B.

    Culture A and Culture B have a lot of tension between the two of them but Culture A has a *LOT* more people and a *LOT* more land in the region.

    Now imagine being given the choice between abandoning axioms and arguing for changes in the culture of Culture A and arguing for changes in the culture of Culture B, which do you choose?


    • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

      Under what circumstances do cultures generally change? Is it entirely internally, through a sort of evolutionary, though perhaps not adaptive in the way we’d like, way? Or is it through interaction with other cultures? Or some of both?

      If we want to move a particular culture in a particular direction, what’s the best way to go about doing so? Build a wall around them and enforce it with violence, so that we can at least be sure that their culture doesn’t bleed into ours while it internally evolves, hopefully in a way more in line with our values? Or should we interact with them positively, seek to resolve disputes peacefully, compromise, and hope that or called have some influence on their culture through our interactions? Is there another way, a third way?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Well, if I were to be worrying about cultures and I only had so much capital to spend, I’d probably spend my capital on the culture that still, theoretically, stones homosexuals.

        But, saying that, I always wonder at the counter that states in one breath that we killed Matthew Shepard and thus cannot judge and then, in the next, screams against the prejudice shown by Israel against Palestinians.Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Criticizing one’s own culture by suggesting that we are all complicit in its faults, and criticizing another culture without suggesting that we are complicit in its faults, are two different things, not in any way incompatible.

        Granted, I have no problem judging the people who murdered Matthew Shepard.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Well, it’s more the argument (which, seriously, I’ve seen) that we shouldn’t criticize Islamic Culture at this point in its development (which isn’t Islamic, we point out) because Christianity was still burning witches at its point in its development.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        Well, it’s more the argument (which, seriously, I’ve seen) that we shouldn’t criticize Islamic Culture at this point in its development

        Who on this thread is making that argument?Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Yeah, that’s a stupid argument not being made here, and therefore completely irrelevant to the discussion of arguments being discussed here. It’s the rhetorical equivalent of wondering how notme will excuse whatever awful thing the police are doing when notme hasn’t even commented in the thread.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


        I think it depends on how that argument is presented.

        If people are saying, “Some Muslim countries kill gays and we should denounce it!” and the response is, “Who are we to judge? We used to burn witches!” then I agree that the argument is weak.

        If people are saying, “Some Muslim countries kill gays and we should reject the entirety of Islam as irredeemable!” and the response is, “Well, Christianity has an ugly past and we got to a better place so maybe we shouldn’t see the entirety of the faith and its people as irredeemable,” well, I think that is a pretty reasonable argument.

        I don’t think any culture is inherently above criticism. But what I think we have to consider when Person A who believes Thing X-lite as part of Culture Alpha criticizes Person B who believes Thing X-heavy as part of Culture Beta if they are really objecting to Thing X-heavy or if they are simply objecting to Culture Beat or people who are like Person B.

        To make this a bit more concrete, when American Christians who oppose equal rights for gays want to champion the rights of gays in Muslim countries, I’m skeptical of their motives. Their position isn’t necessarily hypocritical as a logically consistent argument could be made that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry but they don’t deserve to be killed for their sexual orientation, but I think we should put the onus on those folks to make that argument before we assume they are actually engaged in legitimate cultural criticism and not just regular ol’ bigotry.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Okay, fair enough.

        We’re talking about Israel and not about the rest of the Middle East. I’ll try to keep my opinions on just what Israel should do without looking at how and why my expectations for Israel is different from, say, the expectations I’ll have for Israel’s partners in the peace that I’m hoping to achieve.

        Personally, I think that Israel should recognize Two Separate States, one in Gaza, one in The West Bank and treat them like two separate entities and if Gaza does something bullshitty, it shouldn’t have any impact whatsoever upon any relationship with the West Bank.

        Because, seriously, this dynamic that talks about how something can’t go on with the West Bank because of something that went on in Gaza is something that they lean on far too often for my taste.

        I was a fan of the unilateral withdrawal in Gaza. I was irritated that there was still so much of a focus on borders that were not borders with Israel. Let Egypt open the borders and engage in commerce with Gaza. If Gaza wants to declare a government, let it! If it wants to declare itself an Islamic Republic, awesome. If they want to allow gay marriage, Israel shouldn’t intervene at all.

        Might this result in war because the commerce has some bad actors bringing in weapons from Egypt? Sure!

        So declare war. Then win it. But wait for that to happen first.

        Then we can have this conversation again within a few months of the war ending.Report

      • North in reply to Chris says:

        Yeah Jay’s pretty much spot on here.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        I concur, @north . @jaybird presents a pretty reasonable solution here… whether he actually meant to or not… :-pReport

      • North in reply to Chris says:

        Well yeah Kazzy, the problem remains in the doing. Israel is a democracy and dragging the settlers (both the subsidized rational ones and the raving loons) out of even some of the settlements in the West Bank would be hard as hell. Some kind of deal with the Palestinians (and other Arabs) would make it incrementally easier to pull off.

        What they need, in other words is either a Rabin to negotiate a deal or a Sharon to just say “fish it” and do it unilaterally. Alas, instead they have a Netanyahu, the virtual opposite of what they need.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


        Again, I am far from an expert, but here is what I would do with the settlers…

        A) Approach them and say, “This is happening. If you want to move to Israel, we’ll cover the costs and make it as smooth as possible.”
        B) For any who refuse that offer, you approach them and say, “This is happening. Enjoy Palestine (or whatever it is called).”

        I mean, sometimes leaders gotta lead, right? Which is sort of what you’re saying. The problem is Israel seems to lack leadership.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:


        That is exactly how to do it. In fact, that’s pretty much how the Gaza settlements were disposed of. The problem of how to say that without losing your office immediately (because Israel has a parliamentary system, so “immediately” is no exaggeration) remains.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


        Would they lose it before actually being able to make it happen? Cuz it strikes me as going down as the leader who untangled this knot would probably be worth the ouster. Or, ya know, actually untangling the knot.

        Glad to hear I’m not totally crazy though!Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I think you and Mike are right, Kazzy, but politicians everywhere have shown a strong tendency to do the personally beneficial thing over the right thing too often for me to think anyone will do it anytime soon.

        This is true on both sides in this conflict, of course. Maintaining the conflict has been in the personal interest of politicians on both for decades.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        “Maintaining the conflict has been in the personal interest of politicians on both for decades.”


        That puts blood on there hands then, as far as I’m concerned. Which is probably true of every country’s every leader ever. But there is a difference between, “We’re trying to do the right thing and unfortunately people died,”and, “Let those fuckers kill each other. Whatever keeps me in power.” With the latter being considerably worse.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        Would they lose it before actually being able to make it happen?

        Very likely, yes. A prime minister is not a dictator or even a president. If his party fails to give him a majority on an issue of that level of importance, it becomes a vote of no confidence, and he loses both on that issue and on keeping his office. As North said above, Sharon managed it because he was a towering figure. (Also because he was the chief of the hard-liners; it was a Nixon-goes-to-China moment.) There isn’t anyone like that these days.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to Chris says:

        @mike-schilling This seems like one of the great tragedies in all of this the last 20 years- Rabin assassinated at just about the moment when hopes.ran highest. Sharon becomes incapacitated just as his Gaza decision is starting to look like a stroke of genius.Report

      • North in reply to Chris says:

        Mark, if I ever get the opportunity to visit Israel I owe PM Sharon some flowers on his grave. I was -not- a fan but I was flat out enormously wrong about him. I can think of no more geopolitically destructive a stroke than the one that felled him.

        Kazzy, it’s unfortunately not that simple. Israel is fundamentally incapable of sitting back and watching Jewish people, no matter how moonbat crazy they are, get murdered while within their reach. The settler crazies would say “go ahead, we don’t believe you will leave us to die” and they would be right. What happened in Gaza is that in the end Israel brought in soldiers and dragged the moonbats out kicking and screaming.

        That said, Israel could clean out a lot of the settlement area but eliminating the subsidies for them and making it explicitly clear that the settlements are being giving back. The majority of settler residents are not moonbats; they’re ordinary people who moved there for the housing and for the subsidies. First you isolate the moonbats, then you have to drag the fishers out one by one. Israel could never leave them if they thought (and it’s an indictment on the Palestinians that it is so plausible) that leaving them in the Palestinian state would be a death sentence. It is fundamentally against Israels’ purpose.

        It makes it hard, really hard, but not impossible. As Mark notes, you’d need a titan of a leader to do it. Someone who would get the ball rolling and be willing to lose their job over it. Once the ball was rolling successor lesser PM’s would be able to easily keep the process going “Oh I don’t like it but my predecessor set it in motion and we can’t reverse it- the Americans etc would freak. We just have to soldier on.” It’s the first step and the sacrifice that’s the hardest.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

        Thank you, Mark Thompson. You have stated my position on this subject with better elegance that I have. Both sides advocating a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict are ignoring a lot of elephant in the room problems. The pro-Israel one states aren’t realizing that a one-state solution means that Israel is going to have incorporate millions of people that do not want to be incorporated. I have met many who believed that the current status quo can be maintained forever and Palestinians do not have to be given equal rights. The pro-Palestinian one-staters are not addressing any of the issues relating to turning Israel/WB/Gaza into a secular democratic republic that exist through out the region.

        Another thing is that secularism is we understand it is simply not possible in Israel/Palestine. That stretch of 10,000 square miles is called the Holy Land for a reason. Its filled with sacred sites and conflicts have arisen over who gets to control what site or worship where. Even if the government of Israel/Palestine does not favor one particular religion over another, its still going to get involved in religious issues because of geography alone.

        North, I agree with you that unilateral separation from the West Bank is the least worse solution for Israel right now. I am more sympathetic towards why Israelis do not want to do this at the moment and why they vote for politicians opposed to such a thing. Most Israelis perceive it as them taking a big move for apparently nothing. Given their interpretation of the past fifteen years or the past ten since the withdrawal from Gaza, this isn’t an unreasonable position if you happen to be an Israeli.Report

      • North in reply to Chris says:

        I share your sympathies Lee, but at some point sympathy becomes enabling. There’s no denial that the Palestinians have helped very little on the subject but frankly the Israeli’s are (understandably for emotional and human reasons) wrong of the subject of unilateral disengagement. Bibi and his posse are exploiting and magnifying those emotions to the long term detriment of the Israeli cause for personal political power and short term game. I don’t see any other plausible interpretation of their behavior this past election.

        Frankly I’m of the opinion that Israel’s real friends need to start turning up the heat or sending some serious warning messages that the Israeli electorate will recognize because the road they’re beginning to default onto doesn’t end well.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

      @mark-thompson if you look at Rabin’s last speech to the Knesset outlying is beliefs about what should happen with the Palestinians, it isn’t really that different from Netanyahu’s stated beliefs for most of his recent tenure as Prime Minister.

    • Anonymous in reply to Jaybird says:


      Didn’t Ehud Olmert basically run on unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank?

      Obviously this is very different politically from a negotiated two state solution or giving up any part of East Jerusalem. Obviously that was before it was quite fair to dub the Gaza withdrawal the *total* failure it became.Report

  19. Lurker says:

    Also, Is it being claimed that the Palestinians will continue to act violently even if they were treated justly and non-violently?

    Because the Palestinians have been the vicims of Israeli aggression and violenc for decades: settlements, check-points, disproportionately violent retaliatory massacres, horribly brutal blockades, ethnic cleansing, etc.

    The claim that the violent reaction of some in Palestine to violence perpetrated against Palestinians by the Israeli government is not a reason to believe the Palestinians would be violent if the Israeli violence stopped, the blockades ended, the settlements were removed, the checkpoints dismantled financial reparations were made, and a minimum of safety and justice for all was guaranteed.

    To assume the Palestinians are inherently violent is vile racism (or vile cultural bigotry, dependng on how you delineate race and culture here).

    But I don’t expect to move Likudniks like Lee. Their views are so set in stone that many thousands of dead and displaced Palestinian children will not change them. Nor will the tens and tens and millions to come.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Lurker says:

      Why do you think an independent Palestine would have ended up any differently than any other country in the region? Why do you think the issues and problems that existed in other Arab and Muslim majority countries after World War II would not exist in independent Palestine? What is your evidence for this?Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        That your own prejudices makes it impossible for you to see differences in the Arab world is not anyone else’s problem, nor evidence of anyone else’s faults.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        So your answer is that it will be different because reasons. Thank you for your antipathy towards the concerns of the Jewish people.Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        My answer is that there are already differences that you fail to acknowledge, but way to excuse your racism by projecting it on to me. Let me know how well that works out for you personally.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        My response would be: why does the lack of liberal policy in other Muslim countries count as a justification for Israel’s lack of liberalism?

        My other response would be: so, Lee, you’re admitting that Israel is engaging in illiberal discrimination against Arabs in an effort to maintain it’s Jewish liberalism? Doesn’t that concede what most folks here have been criticizing Israel for doing?

        I mean, I’d like to say there’s a view here, Lee, which you could advocate consistently within all the least-bad options Israel is presented with. (I don’t accept that view, but I don’t think it’s wrong either.) But you continue to demonize Arab Palestinians as a way to justify the policies Israel is engaging. There’s a category error there, seems to me. And not a little self-serving question-begging.Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Blaming racism on its targets is pretty much what every racist has done, ever.Report

      • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The most important thing for an Israeli supporters to keep in mind is whether an independent Palestine becomes liberal and peaceful or not is generally incidental to the Israeli question.
        An Israel that separates (even unilaterally) from the West Bank withdrawing the settlements and simply ignoring the question of Arab refugees* is at virtually no risk of losing either it’s Jewish character or its liberalism. It is at, potentially, slightly higher risk of suffering damage from sporadic attacks but there is absolutely zero capacity for the Palestinians (or any of the neighboring Arab states) to existentially threaten Israel.

        If Palestine becomes a liberal Arab state then that’s wonderful. If it becomes a tribal impoverished violent hellhole then that is unfortunate but at least that would be the Palestinians choice.

        An Israel that does not separate from the West Bank is under a severe and existential threat of losing its Jewish character and liberal heritage**. It’s admissibly, in the short term slightly safer from irregular terror attacks but this presumes that West Bank Palestinians persist in their security cooperation which is one hell of a big assumption.

        *The most simple solution for them is to immigrate to independent Palestine or finally, with the Israel excuse mostly removed, integrate into their host nations.
        **The loss of which would then begin to threaten its very existence since it is dependent on support from a liberal developed world.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:


        Good comment. I agree. And to this

        An Israel that separates (even unilaterally) from the West Bank withdrawing the settlements and simply ignoring the question of Arab refugees* is at virtually no risk of losing either it’s Jewish character or its liberalism.

        I’d add that by so acting Israel wouldn’t lose support from the west, in particular the US. Sure, there’d be a few folks bitching about the right to return, but not many seems to me. And the “hard right liners” would quickly learn to adapt to the new reality. Just like they’ve done with gay marriage. 🙂Report

      • Zac in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Chris is absolutely right. You are a racist and are totally unable to see it. You consistently portray Arabs as lesser human beings unable to have a functional democracy, and it disgusts me that no one in this community other than Chris is willing to point it out.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The important thing is to use the word “racist” as often as possible, because that always leads to useful discussions.Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I assume it’s fairly obvious that “useful discussion” is not possible on this subject with Lee, and his comments on Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians have been over the line for some time now. If it’s not racism, it is something very close to it. Imagine anything he says about those groups being said about virtually any other race, ethnicity, or religious group.Report

      • Zac in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Yeah, I think it’s worth pointing out that if he had been making these same comments about, say, black folks, he presumably would have warned by the admins or banned outright like Tom was. Not that I’m saying that’s what should happen, because I’m not a fan of heavy-handed moderation, but the double-standard does make me a little uneasy.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Chris, how the hell is pointing out the current problems that are going on in the Arab or Muslim world and why that make Jews in general and Israelis in particular not likely to take a big risk, over the line?Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Lee, if you need to tell yourself that’s all you’ve done, that’s fine. I said what I think, people can judge what you’ve said here and in pretty much every discussion of Israel here, for themselves.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Fine, if I’m a racist than Chris is Jew hater because he ignores all the freaking official and unofficial anti-Semitism going throughout the Muslim world and all the attacks on Jewish institutions and people that happened in the past several years. Remember every Jew is liable but nobody else is.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        That doesn’t make any sense, Lee, and you know it. Somewhere in there, you know it.

        Look, it’s fine to be pro-Israeli. I think it’s even possible to hold the view that Israel is justified in an apartheid regime for purely instrumental reasons without that view devolving into racism. (It’d be a needle threader but I think it could be done!) One thing that isn’t possible, seems to me, is to justify Israeli oppression of Arabs on the premise that Arabs are illiberal anti-Semites who want to destroy Israel on liberal grounds. How could it?

        You’ve dug yourself into a pretty narrow well here, Lee. Seems to me anyway.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:


        Would you expect anything different from them? I mean, you’re an American, right? You’d hate your oppressor and all that as a matter of course….Report

      • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:


        Did you read sentence one?

        “The largest-ever global survey of attitudes towards Jews reveals anti-Semitism to be a problem second only to bias against Muslims, according to the Anti-Defamation League.”

        I get you were attempting to only draw attention to the West Bank and Gaza but given that anti-Muslim bias is a bigger issue than anti-Semitism, I don’t think we can necessarily conclude that anti-Semitism is somehow unique in its pervasiveness and the danger it presents.Report

      • Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:


        really? what percentage of Jews are anti-German bigots?Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @stillwater let us put it another way. Most people on this site including myself believe that African-Americans have good reason to be at least partly suspicious of White Americans and American governmental institutions because of their history of oppression and persecution.

        We Jews have had a rough past 2000 years. Within living memory alone we had the persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union and other Communist, the expulsion of Jews from North Africa and the Middle East, and you know what. Currently, we have the revival of Jew-hatred on a global level with actual violence. It is perfectly reasonable for us to be at least partially suspicious when our former persecutors of Christian and Muslim lineage say trust us. If people really care about the Palestinians that let them come forward to Israel with a credible plan besides saying that Israel has to do that and Jews have to do this and trust us that things are going to be fine. Let them prove to us that things are going to be fine first.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        In the late 1940s I’d bet it was pretty close to a hundred percent!Report

      • Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:


        I was providing a reason why Jews wouldn’t want to live in a majority Palestinian.

        given that anti-Muslim bias is a bigger issue than anti-Semitism

        Is it? I mean that’s true in the US but not globally.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:


        You again failed to read the first sentence.

        Here it is: “The largest-ever global survey of attitudes towards Jews reveals anti-Semitism to be a problem second only to bias against Muslims, according to the Anti-Defamation League.”


        I don’t think anyone denies the intensity of the animus between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. So the 93% number is informative but only so much. I’d want to know how many Israeli Jews hold anti-Muslim/Arab/Palestinian views. I’d also want to know what we could reasonably expect that number to look like if Israel withdraws from the West Bank and Gaza. We have a real chicken-and-egg issue in that part of the world.

        The reality, as I see it, is that Israel is in the driver’s seat. Yes, Israeli citizens face very real threats. But I think they could go along way towards minimizing those threats by withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza, if they do so properly.

        Now… this isn’t meant to ignore all of the PA’s flaws or what I think that side of the aisle should be doing (let’s start with STOP FIRING FUCKING ROCKETS INTO CIVILIAN POPULATION CENTERS). But the question on the table seems to be, “What should Israel do?” which is why I am focusing primarily on their side of the equation.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Let them prove to us that things are going to be fine first.

        That’s cool. But let’s abandon the pretense that an apartheid regime is anything other than it is.

        And let’s also abandon the idea that playing a waiting game is good for Israel in the long run. I mean, it’s pretty clear that it isn’t, right? Just keeps breeding more animosity and all that, yes?

        I do think that preserving the Jewish identity of Israel, if important to Jews (and I’ll assume that it is 🙂 ), is a sufficient grounds for all sorts of illiberal policies which aren’t necessarily motivated by racism. I mean, in practice they of course are. But insofar as the goal is clearly admitted and owned, a restriction in Arab citizenship (or non-Jewish really) sorta logically follows.

        If the US tried to institute such a “racially” based policy it’d get hammered internally and externally. (That doesn’t mean conservatives aren’t given it the ole college try tho!)Report

      • Dand in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Here it is: “The largest-ever global survey of attitudes towards Jews reveals anti-Semitism to be a problem second only to bias against Muslims, according to the Anti-Defamation League.”


        I read not just the sentence but the entire article and the primary sources it used; the first sentence was lazy wording/methodology by the reporter. The ADL report didn’t investigate anti-Muslim views globally; the reporter compared the prevalence of anti-Semitism globally with the prevalence of anti-Muslim bias in Europe according to pew report. The data the given in the article doesn’t support the reporters wording.Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Lee, that’s the projection again. If you’re racist for saying racist stuff, I must be racist for not agreeing with your racism. Fine, you can think I’m an anti-semite, I don’t care. Your opinion on this issue is unimportant to me because it is so heavily and blindly biased.

        By the way, what do you think of conservatives when they say anti-racists are the real racists? Because you’re doing exactly what they’re doing right now.Report

      • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I’d note that hurtling racist and antisemite accusations is, regardless of any question of accuracy, entirely useless and corrosive to the conversation. It also allows Lee to elide the basic point: Unilateral disengagement by Israel is logically beneficial to Israel even if you ignore the question of the moral rights and welfare of the Palestinians entirely. The occupation presents a plausible existential threat to Israel as a Jewish Liberal state that no other problem she faces does. Talking about making the Palestinians shoulder the risk first or such nonsense is a non-sequitor.

        Even if one assumes the worst case scenario for Palestinian behavior to disengagement the Israel that exists in that hypothetical is -still- better off, more secure and facing fewer existential threats than the Israel that exists today.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I disagree quite strongly with @leeesq here, but I think y’all are being incredibly unfair to him here. Honestly, I think he and @saul-degraw have conducted themselves quite admirably in this thread and that this discussion managed to be quite productive for damn near four days. I’m far too used to being immediately accused of anti-semitism or supporting terrorism for the slightest criticism of Israel to have anything but respect for how Lee and Saul have conducted themselves in this thread.

        Y’all are making a lot of assumptions about the basis for his views – which, by the way, are him arguing against a one-state solution, a position with which I’m pretty sure several of you jumping down his throat happen to agree. There’s certainly little dispute that a one-state solution in which Israeli Jews maintained government power would make oppression of Palestinians even worse and would be anything but liberal. Why is that position not bigoted (and it’s absolutely not) but the position that one-state solution in which Palestinians were in the power seat would result in oppression of Jews is?

        He’s made two arguments for his position that a one-state solution, even under the best of possible circumstances, would not create a secular liberal democracy in which minority rights were respected: (1) theocratic politics are popular throughout the Islamic world – and, implicitly, popular with Palestinians as well, such that at least some level of entanglement, unacceptable to Israeli Jews, between Islam and government would be inevitable; and (2) such a solution would be subject to the same trends and problems that exist throughout the region.

        Neither of these has a damn thing to do with race. The first is both an empirical question and a theological question: (a) do a critical mass of Palestinians believe that it is the proper role of the state to propagate Islam, and (b) what priority does Islam in its current forms (emphasis on forms, plural) give to opposing secularism? The assumption that Islam opposes secularism is hardly unreasonable – I cannot name a single religion that thinks it should, as a matter of practice, stay completely out of politics and government.

        As for concerns about the problems in the rest of the region spilling over even more than they already do….I mean, that’s just geopolitics 101, regardless of the West’s role in creating those problems. The problems exist, and no one here has even attempted to give any evidence that a one-state solution with a Palestinian-led government would be at all immune to those problems or even help to solve those problems. To be clear – such evidence may well exist, and it’s entirely possible that a Palestinian-led one-state government would be able to avoid regional problems seeping in. But if so, then simply saying it’s racist to believe otherwise doesn’t even remotely make the case.

        Part of the issue of regional problems is the question of why secular liberal democracy has thus far failed utterly to succeed in the Middle East – the best example of a secular liberal democracy in the region would be Turkey, which is not really part of the Middle East, has a significantly different history, and still has been pretty noticeably affected by the region’s many problems, and is starting to lose much of its secular nature.

        What’s more, the accusation of racism seems particular unfair here in light of the fact that Jews basically don’t exist anymore in the rest of the Middle East because of severe oppression in the very recent past at the hands of Arab Muslims. It may well be that the oppressed have become the oppressors – indeed, I personally happen to think that to be largely the case – but that doesn’t make it racist to fear a resumption of the old oppression if Israeli Jews became governed by a Palestinian majority, particularly one that would of geopolitical necessity have close ties to governments that openly promote severe anti-semitism. I mean…is there any evidence that anti-Semitism is less acceptable amongst Palestinians than it is in other neighboring states?

        None of which is to say that Israeli Jews are immune to anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab bigotry of their own – certainly the opposite is pretty clearly the case.

        But Lee and Saul, just as any of us, deserve to be treated as individuals and to have their arguments debated on the merits of what they actually say. If you really believe both that, despite what I wrote above, their opinions in this thread are racist and that it’s important to call those opinions out as such, then you need to make the case for that and explain why.Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I don’t think I’m being at all hard on him. Of course, we have history on this subject, and he has consistently suggested and, at times, simply stated outright that people who think as I do (or who hold views different from his own) on this subject are anti-Semites (something he repeats here, though much more directly). He’s also repeatedly, here and elsewhere, lumped the entire “Arab” and “Muslim” world(s) together, referred to them as mad, violent, untrustworthy, etc., and judged the Palestinians based on the behavior of people who share strong or loose racial, ethnic, or religious ties. He fails to recognize any relevant differences among those groups. In any other context, there would be little doubt that this was a form of racism, but in this context, calling a spade a spade is frowned upon, or itself labeled “racist” (as though pointing out that Bibi or Lee engage in racist rhetoric or, in Bibi’s case, policies, were somehow a judgment of Jewish people or even Israelis in general, in the same way that Lee has here and in pretty much every conversation on the subject ever lumped all Arabs and Muslims together). I do not, therefore, believe I have been unfair to him.

        Now, there is no denying that Lee’s racism is mirrored in much of the Muslim world, particularly among Middle Eastern Muslims, there directed at Jewish people. If, therefore, Lee were simply expressing concern and caution with respect to potential threats from an independent, un-monitored Palestinian state bordering on Israel, with open borders into Egypt, because of this mutual hatred, I would understand. Others here and in previous conversations have done that, in fact. That is not, however, what Lee’s done here, or in other conversations on the topic. He’s consistently shown a disdain for Arabs and Muslims and an inability, or unwillingness, to draw distinctions between the behavior of some Arabs/Muslims and all Arabs/Muslims.

        People like Lee and his counterparts on the other side of this debate, both in the Middle East and in the countries that support the behavior of the actors in the Middle East, are the problem: they are driven by a mutual hate and distrust that leaves little opportunity for peace. Calling them out and excluding them from serious discussion of the issues is the only way forward that doesn’t involve perpetually blowing each other up. Unfortunately, both sides, particularly in Israel and Gaza, keep putting them in power, making excluding them from the discussion, and therefore peace itself, unlikely if not impossible.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @chris I asked early on in this thread that comments be confined to responding to statements in the OP or elsewhere in this thread rather than bringing stuff in from other threads. I’m not interested in what’s been said in other threads, and don’t have any interest, time, or desire to go back and review previous threads on this topic in which I may or may not have participated and which in any event were probably not one of my OPs.

        I don’t see any of what you allege in his comments here.Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Mark, madness, genocidal maniacs, critics are anti-Semites, the Arab world is fished so Palestinians can’t be trusted to have their own state, all occur in the comments to this post.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @chris You’ve misread him badly on each and every single on of those items.

        “Madness” was clearly and specifically referring to the political situation in the Muslim-dominated word, and to the extent it was about anyone was explicitly in reference to “leaders.” Would we really say that the political situation in the majority of the Muslim dominated world right now is anything but “madness”?

        “Genocidal fanatics” – I initially read that line as being specifically a reference to Hamas. @leeesq ‘s subsequent comments made that conclusion explicit. Hamas is a specific organization with an explicit mission and set of goals. We can debate whether that is an accurate description of Hamas, but it’s hardly an unreasonable one and certainly not to be read as a generalization about the Palestinian populace.

        “critics are anti-Semites” – I don’t see where he said this. Even if he had, while it would be wrong and inappropriate, it certainly wouldn’t be racist.

        Regardless, he said two things, and only two things on this front, so far as I can tell, neither of which was “critics are anti-Semites”:

        (1) anti-Zionism is either anti-semitism or strong evidence thereof. Anti-Zionism is not synonymous with “critics of Israel” by a longshot. Moreover, whether or not he’s correct in his assessment (I don’t think he is even though I’m not at all anti-Zionist), he made the statement only in the context of explaining the specific reasons for the claim. From experience, that’s a hell of a lot better than most of the times I’ve seen the anti-Semitic charge levied. For that matter, it’s a hell of a lot better than a lot (not necessarily most) of the times I see the racism charge levied.

        (2) He said that if he’s a racist, then you’re an anti-Semite. I’d rather he not have said this in this way, but ultimately his point here is that you’re using such a broad brush in defining racism that it’s either meaningless or that it can be applied just as easily to you. I’m not even interested in having an opinion on this other than: this is exactly why I asked that we try to keep shit confined to what is said on this thread.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @chris I forgot one:

        “the Arab world is fished so Palestinians can’t be trusted.” Again, not what he said so far as I can tell unless you’re putting words in his mouth that aren’t in this thread. He said that the problems of the rest of the Arab world would inevitably leak into any Palestinian led government with control over Israel. This has nothing inherently to do with trust – there’s other reasons why one could expect those problems to seep in, most notably and obviously what I said above about “Geopolitics 101.”

        Anyways, this is the last I’m going to say on this issue.Report

      • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        If I have misread him in this thread, then I apologize both to you for bringing other threads into it, and to him for the misreading.Report

    • Lurker in reply to Lurker says:


      What would you think of the argument that African nations are troubled and therefore it makes sense to expect African American neighborhoods would be troubled even if people there weren’t subject to oppression and state-based violence, and therefore the government is justified in treating people in African American neighborhoods as deserving harsh treatment?Report

    • Anonymous in reply to Lurker says:

      Also, Is it being claimed that the Palestinians will continue to act violently even if they were treated justly and non-violently?

      Yes. As you correctly point out the Palestinians have endured a lot of abuse over the last 75 years at the hands of the Israeli government and those who established it. Are we really supposed to believe that all of the bad feelings will go away as soon as the occupation ends? If so, what historical example is that based on?

      Even if Israel were to end the blockade of Gaza and unilaterally uproot every settlement in Area A/B/C tomorrow there would be a lot of lingering rage against the Jewish state on the Palestinian street.

      Does this mean the Palestinian culture/ethnicity is inherently violent or hateful? No.

      Does this mean that years of fighting in a struggle against the Israeli state has left a deep mark on Palestinian culture and society? Absolutely.Report