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February 10, 2009

Comments

I wonder how much of a clarifying effect on U.S. voters a government led by Netanyahu and containing Avigdor Lieberman as a significant partner will have.

The first two options are really one. "Transfer" and ethnic cleansing will become more and more overt policy the longer the disconnected-enclaves misery goes on -- because that sort of bantustan living, with the accompanying daily checkpoints and humiliations and constant daily view of Israeli settler highways and well-watered houses on the hills -- will encourage the continuation of violent resistance, which will feed the rightist "transfer" policy.

Then, when Arab and Jewish Israelis resist the ethnic cleansing policy, even peacefully, Lieberman's "citizenship oath" will rear its head again. It is aimed at Jewish dissenters as much as it is at Arab Israelis, for they are potentially far more dangerous.

No American government could support such a step

Really? I'm trying to imagine what Bush's administration would have done if the Israelis ethnically cleansed the rest of Palestine in Nakba II.

Sure, the rest of the world would boycott Israel and sever all diplomatic ties, which is why they wouldn't do it -- it would tank their economy.

But if they were actually that crazy, I expect Bush would have backed them and continued shipping them bombs. The Israelis would come up with some pretext like "two captured soldiers" or "ten missiles" which would be endlessly replayed on TV, and anyone showing humanity would have been shouted down, as usual.

The Obama administration, on the other hand, would probably stop shipping them bombs.

Israel almost certainly needs to abandon most of the settlements, and all of the far flung ones. At some point it needs to say something like "We will help you move back to Israel, but we can no longer protect you if you stay."

Of course saying what is necessary isn't the same as identifying what will happen.

Shouldn't we just admit it, we are well past the point where a "two-state" solution is feasible. Better to admit a problem than kick it down the road. We woulda had to put big time anti-settlement pressures in place at least a decade ago. Now we are forced to live with what we allowed to happen.

So, bigTom: ethnic cleansing/transfer or one-state nation (in which Jews will before too long be a minority, albeit with most of the land and wealth)?

I can see American pressure convincing Israeli leaders to make some changes to settlement policy, but do you really think that discussing the withholding of aid would change voters' minds? Seems to me it would create anti-American sentiment and harden the voters' current way of thinking. Are there any examples of US "rhetorical pressure" and threats that have convinced a foreign population to en masse shift their opinion on a major political issue? I think we have to accept that in the near future, positive changes to Israeli settlement policy will not be popular on the Israeli street.

I dunno MikeF. Israeli is the single biggest recipient of US foreign aid. Do you really think that the Israeli population would simply shrug at the potential loss of that largesse?

I don't.

And if not, well, at least we'll save billions of dollars a year.

Curse the typos.

The settlement policy absolutely needs to be reversed, and I hope Obama pushes this point hard. He will be doing Israel a service. Among many other problems, the settlements require protection, and I think it is more than reasonable for the US to say that this is a counterproductive use of the military aid we supply.

I strongly support a two-state solution, and the steps necessary to get there, which include action on the settlements.

(And by the way, what is it with politicians named Lieberman, anyway?)

That's why all things can't remain equal. We must step up rhetorical pressure, and even begin to discuss withholding certain aid. The situation is beyond dire.

Is it beyond dire because of the humanitarian crisis? Or beyond dire because feelthy ay-rabs might become Israeli citizens?

A one-state solution is the future. It is the only just future. It is the only geographically practicable future. We should stop the superstitious denial and embrace it.

Is it beyond dire because of the humanitarian crisis? Or beyond dire because feelthy ay-rabs might become Israeli citizens?

Please read what I have written on the subject before you presume bigotry. Thanks.

I dunno MikeF. Israeli is the single biggest recipient of US foreign aid. Do you really think that the Israeli population would simply shrug at the potential loss of that largesse?

Certainly it would be in their clear self-interest to fold. But voters are not rational and there is a strong sense of nationalism in Israel that would, I think, react strongly and negatively to such an attempt at manipulation by foreigners. If they basically relied on us to survive, maybe they would swallow their pride. But direct aid has been what, $2.5B annually for the last couple years? That's pretty considerable for a country at around $200B GDP but it's not totally essential. I could be wrong but I suspect threatening to cut off aid would provoke outrage rather than cooperation.

are you quoting mos def with the title or did mos quote somebody I don't know about

I support a two-state solution, which is why I have supported reversing the settlement policy since, well, forever. If Israel cannot muster the will to remove the settlers, I support a one-state solution, in which everyone has full rights. I think if this were to happen, one should announce (say) a decade in advance that the Law of Return would be repealed, but that it would be reinstated temporarily in the case of massacres of either Jews or Palestinians.

We pay for large chunks of the state of Israel. I think that if we announced that those were the only two options under which our aid would continue, it would not make us popular, but it would concentrate the mind.

Reversing the settlement policy would also be by far the best thing for Israel.

I could be wrong but I suspect threatening to cut off aid would provoke outrage rather than cooperation.

I think you're right. In general, threatening people by withholding cash pisses them off because people feel entitled to whatever cash they're getting. I imagine this effect is magnified when you're talking about a population that is scared and under a siege mentality.

Of course, even if cutting of the money supply doesn't change Israeli policy, it might still be in the US' best interests since it allows us to demonstrate that we're more than an Israeli puppet.


Eric, this was a good post, but I'm curious as to whether you think it will ever be politically feasible for an Israeli government to end most of the settlements. The settlements have grown no matter who was in power in Tel Aviv and, for that matter, Washington. Regardless of the merits, there seem to be structural forces in Israeli (and American?) society that make it incredibly hard to do anything but promote further settlement growth. If you have any thoughts on how to change this dynamic beyond "cut off the cash", I'd like to hear it.

I guess I can't imagine any US President, Obama included, actually cutting off the cash supply to Israel. I mean, look at what happened to Bush I when he made vague noises in that direction. The political reaction was incredibly fierce and I don't see any reason to believe that those same dynamics have weakened in the US. In fact, the "war on terror" seems to have made Americans more, not less willing to buy into Likudnik narratives...

I could be wrong but I suspect threatening to cut off aid would provoke outrage rather than cooperation.

Then so be it. If that money's not garnering us influence, then I don't see what it's good for.

If that's the case, we should at least reduce the aid to a more normal level, commensurate with other nations that size/stature. We can't afford to be seen to be underwriting actions by Israel that are illegal under both international and Israeli law, and that perpetuate conflict that threatens our interests.

Dan: I was quoting mos.

I can't say that I've seen anything resembling a viable independent state for the Palestinians proposed by most two-staters; most tend to include interesting notions of "sovereignty" such as having no right to a military or having no control of their airspace/borders. Seriously, when I read claims like this (and this and what follow aren't particularly directed at you, Eric) I can't help but feel they're not considering what would be the most just and sustainable outcome for all parties, but rather the most sustainable outcome for Israel, while kicking the problems of the Palestinians down the road yet again... and still leaving the option open for Israel to be "forced" to impose #1 or #2 on its Palestinian neighbors' "sovereign" state.

I agree with the commenters above stating that the time where a two-state solution had a hope of succeeding seems to be passed. Transfer or citizenship seem like the only possible outcomes; the former is horrific and injust, but the latter is generally anathema if one wants to be counted as "serious" on this issue. However, while a binational state in former mandate Palestine would hardly be a serene rose garden, I'm no longer convinced that there's any alternative that can hope to provide anything resembling a just solution to the question. At this point, a two-state solution seems more and more like cutting Israel's loses while hanging the Palestinians out in the wind. The "serious" thinkers who back two-state solutions need to be decidedly more serious than they have historically regarding what a sovereign Palestinian state would look like. A tarted-up #2 is not a two-state solution, no matter how many "serious" commentators tell us it is. I fear it'd take a lot more pressure than "serious" parties would care to bring to bear to get anything else even discussed in earnest, though.

Turb: Of course, even if cutting of the money supply doesn't change Israeli policy, it might still be in the US' best interests since it allows us to demonstrate that we're more than an Israeli puppet.

And that Israel is not, in fact, the 51st state in the union.

Turb: Regardless of the merits, there seem to be structural forces in Israeli (and American?) society that make it incredibly hard to do anything but promote further settlement growth.

My tinfoil hat gets put on with respect to this sometimes, thinking, basically, some form of extortion (on a nation-state scale).

At other times, I think the U.S. should totally withdraw and leave the parties to figure it out on their own.

Mostly, I try not to think about it.

Eric, this was a good post, but I'm curious as to whether you think it will ever be politically feasible for an Israeli government to end most of the settlements.

It would have to be part of a comprehensive approach, whereby Israelis could believe that they were getting something in return: security.

In the meantime, it's incumbent on the rest of us to shift the acceptable parameters of the debate.

Bush I suffered, as you said, but we've come a long way since.

The CFR and Brookings are issuing papers stressing the need to control the settlement process. That could be the crest of the first wave of a sea change.

Further, as Walt points out, time is running out which could be an impetus for reassessment.

If that's the case, we should at least reduce the aid to a more normal level, commensurate with other nations that size/stature. We can't afford to be seen to be underwriting actions by Israel that are illegal under both international and Israeli law, and that perpetuate conflict that threatens our interests.

This I do agree with. Aid should be lower and we should be much more vocal in our opposition to some of their policies. I don't think it will lead to any change in said policies, and it loses us (some of) the limited bargaining power that we do have with Israel - but it is worth it to strengthen our overall standing. Plus it makes us a more honest broker in future peace talks.

It would have to be part of a comprehensive approach, whereby Israelis could believe that they were getting something in return: security.

No Palestinian government is ever going to be able to offer Israel perfect security. The best they can offer is good-enough security. But most Israelis have good-enough security right now. So why should they give up stuff they want in exchange for at best keeping what they've got and at worst being much less secure? I just don't see why a rational Israeli voter would ever take a deal like this....

Bush I suffered, as you said, but we've come a long way since.

How? Thanks to 9/11 and the war on terror, people are more inclined to sympathize with Israel no matter what it does and thanks to gas prices and Iraq and all the Iran fear mongering, people are less inclined to look kindly on Arabs (and Persians, but most people can't tell the difference). AIPAC seems no less powerful than it was before. Members of Congress seem no more willing to buck Israel than they have in the past. I mean, during the 2006 war with Lebanon, both parties in Congress fell over themselves congratulating Israel and that sorry spectacle repeated during the recent fighting in Gaza, right? The Israeli PM openly brags about how he can order our Secretary of State to humiliate herself on command and no one notices.

Maybe you're right and we really have come a long way, but I don't see any reason to believe that. So why do you believe it?

The CFR and Brookings are issuing papers stressing the need to control the settlement process. That could be the crest of the first wave of a sea change.

Some think tanks are issuing papers? Really? Well why didn't you say so?! Now that reports are being issued, I'm sure things will change right away!

Sorry for the snark, but this talk about the "need" to control the settlements seems to miss the point. Settlements only expand. They never stop growing, and they certainly don't contract. I don't think we (or at least I) have a good handle on the internal Israeli political dynamics that effect this ratcheting. And until we (or I) do, it seems crazy to talk about the "need" for this or that. At the end of the day, the settlement project has incredible power over Israeli leaders, governing institutions, and the populace. Talking about this "need" seems like shooting a forest fire with a watergun.

Further, as Walt points out, time is running out which could be an impetus for reassessment.

Time has always been running out. In a way, time is running out for the one state solution faster than for the two state solution. If Israel had gone for the one state solution 20 years ago, it might have been possible demographically to integrate the Palestinians and raise their standard of living to the point where their rate of population growth slowed closer to the current Israeli average. That might have allowed us to have a Jewish-majority binational state, but that opportunity no longer exists. If the relative fraction of Jews vs Arabs as well as their growth rates are close enough, you might still be able to finagle a Jewish majority state that was mostly Democratic using something like the Lebanese model. The result would not be pretty, but it would be (mostly) democratic (good enough for government work). But every day that passes make that sort of compromise less feasible.

Aid should be lower and we should be much more vocal in our opposition to some of their policies.

I agree with all this, but why hasn't it ever happened in the last 30 years? We've had different administrations with very different staffing and very different governing philosophies. And yet vocal opposition towards Israel never emerges. It seems bizarre to think that this situation will ever change unless we can explain how it is that all these different governments consistently publicly favor Israel no matter what.

So why should they give up stuff they want in exchange for at best keeping what they've got and at worst being much less secure? I just don't see why a rational Israeli voter would ever take a deal like this....

Weakening of blanket support from the US. Greater isolation internationally. Loss of over a billion dollars or more. And if not, so be it. We save money.

Some think tanks are issuing papers? Really? Well why didn't you say so?! Now that reports are being issued, I'm sure things will change right away!

Yes, yes very funny. No, it was not actually my point that the reports were all-powerful and irresistible juggernauts of Teh Change.

My point was: the conversation is shifting. That type of talk was inconceivable a decade ago - even five years ago. And now there is a shift. The think tank pieces are not the culmination of the shift, but the first indication that the policies are being reassessed.

I agree with all this, but why hasn't it ever happened in the last 30 years? We've had different administrations with very different staffing and very different governing philosophies. And yet vocal opposition towards Israel never emerges. It seems bizarre to think that this situation will ever change unless we can explain how it is that all these different governments consistently publicly favor Israel no matter what.

Part Cold War expediency, part Cold War hangover, part domestic political calculation: little to gain from criticizing Israel, much to lose. Easy choice.

That is beginning to change, somewhat. The Cold War is over. Our new "Soviet Union" is terrorism. In order to better combat terrorism, we need the situation in Israel/Palestine to begin moving in a better direction. Thus, we are in a different position than the Cold War - during which unconditional support made more strategic sense.

Further, we must continue to make it more politically feasible from the domestic side. This is possible, and beginning to happen. Change the parameters of acceptable discourse.

vocal opposition towards Israel never emerges. It seems bizarre to think that this situation will ever change unless we can explain how it is that all these different governments consistently publicly favor Israel no matter what.

Good point. Frankly I think it will take some sort of horrific black-swan event with Israeli culpability to force meaningful change; depending on how the king-making goes after the Israeli election the chance of that happening may have just gone up significantly.

Eric:

First, sit down.

Second, I agree with this post. (It had to happen someday.) Even the tone is spot-one. This will ruin your popularity on ObWi.

Third, your title is laser-awesome. (Laser for the kids, the n-dash for the adults.)

(Assuming you haven't crashed into the floor after reading past "first ...", you may now stand up.)

I fear a one state solution is inevitable. One side will win out...utterly. We can only pray that the winner manages to show some minimal level of common decency. I'm not holding out much hope on that score either.

it would mean abandoning the Zionist dream of an independent Jewish state

And why should we subscribe to this again?

To say "this state is only for people of a given race" is deeply illiberal. In the case of Israel, this may be a necessary tradeoff, but it's hardly a goal onto itself.

Bernard Avishai makes the interesting suggestion that what we really need is a federal union, possibly a three-state one: haredi Judea; Palestine; and in between, secular Israel.

If the constitution were carefully drafted, the Jewish state(s) would still satisfy the original Zionist goal: a place where Jews have full and irrevocable citizenship. It would be as good a final refuge for diaspora Jews as Israel is now. But the Israelis would have to spread the wealth around to Arabs on both sides of the Green Line.

Maybe it's a pure pipe dream. Could you ever really integrate the Israeli military when the likeliest foes are relatives of the minority group? Would Israelis really sacrifice their living standards and much of their current security on a gamble for long-term peace? I doubt it. Still, if you're going to talk one-state, this is the way to go.

http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/09/08/hebrew_republic_are_two_states/

… few of its putative proponents have done much to actually facilitate such an outcome

Including most importantly, the Palestinians… In terms of never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity

No mention of the 2005 unilateral withdrawal from Gaza? It seems to me that Palestinians were in fact handed a state in 2005. And they got billions in aid with which they could have put together a functioning government and built infrastructure. They could have had a small but sovereign nation. They could have shown the world that given the opportunity they could get past their hatred and actually build a state. If they had done that, no country, including the US, would have stood by and allowed Israel to violate that sovereignty. They could have done all that. Instead they chose to trash the joint and turn it into rocket launching pads. And yes, Gaza would not have been enough but it would have been a start.

So I don’t actually believe that Palestinians are interested in their own state. Which leads me to agree - of course the two-state solution is dead. It never had a chance.

There is plenty of blame to go around here and certainly Israel gets its share. But I rarely see any expectations here that there should be some accountability for the other side. Only one side is expected to make concessions or actually act like they are truly interested in piece. It does in fact take two to tango.

OCSteve: It seems to me that Palestinians were in fact handed a state in 2005.

Actually, what they were "handed" was the largest concentration camp in the world. Are you forgetting the Gaza barriers that make all trade completely under the control of Israel? Or what happened after the January 2006 elections? No respect for Palestinian democracy: no respect for Gaza's sovereignity. Are you so genuinely forgetful, OCSteve, or is your Islamophobia showing? I know you don't believe Muslims have the right to fly while openly Muslim, but do you believe Muslims have the right to vote in a democratic government, or the right to trade freely with the outside world?

But I rarely see any expectations here that there should be some accountability for the other side. Only one side is expected to make concessions or actually act like they are truly interested in peace.

You know, making wild unsubstantiated claims like that is exactly what makes most I/P threads go down in flames. Maybe as an open-Islamophobe you should just stay out of them.

Including most importantly, the Palestinians… In terms of never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity…

If you want to damage your credibility by citing an idiot who lied journalist who wrote absurd lies about Iraq in a mad rush to advocate for the Iraq war, then go right ahead, but given the rest of your comment, I'd think you'd be a little concerned about looking like an anti-Arab bigot.

It seems to me that Palestinians were in fact handed a state in 2005.

Is this some sort of a sick joke? They had no control of their airspace, no control of the water resources, no control of their borders. They couldn't import or export anything.

And they got billions in aid with which they could have put together a functioning government and built infrastructure.

This is not true. When the Palestinians, at our insistence, voted for an anti-corruption government (which was, you know, the only responsible thing to do at the time), all the aid that they had been promised plus much of their tax revenue that Israel had collected was cut off. How were they supposed to do anything when they lived under siege, their borders sealed off with no cash entering the country?

They could have had a small but sovereign nation.

This is simply insulting. A nation that cannot control its own borders is not sovereign.

If they had done that, no country, including the US, would have stood by and allowed Israel to violate that sovereignty.

Ha ha! You seem to be under the impression that governments, including the US (!) can be shamed into doing the right thing. Remember when the US was shamed into action when the Indonesian government launched a genocidal campaign that killed a few million East Timorese? Of course not. We knew about it and we backed the Indonesian government, giving them money and weapons to continue their slaughter.

"when the Indonesian government launched a genocidal campaign that killed a few million East Timorese?"

100,000-200,000, actually. It was in the mid 60's when Suharto might have killed 500,000-1 million Indonesians (and we supported him) that you get close to the million mark.

Your point, of course, is correct.

I forgot to add that there were only 700,000 East Timorese in total, so 100-200,000 is in the Khmer Rouge range on a per capita basis.

Von: I'm lightheaded from sitting down, standing up, and doing the hokey pokey ;)

OCSteve:

As a general rule, Daniel Levy is the smartest, most reasonable voice on all issues Israel/Palestine.

As a general rule, Jeffrey Goldberg is tendentious and biased. His Iraq war coverage was atrocious. Terrible.

Any time you have Goldbeg disagreeing with Levy, side with Levy.

He is literally my favorite pundit/observer/writer on these subjects.

Now again, I think that Israel needs to cut the far flung settlements loose, and agree not to protect them. But that shifts then to the Palestinians. What happens when they start killing the current occupants? This whole thing is quite a mess.

This whole thing is quite a mess

Understatement of the millenium award!

Here's a piece on what went wrong with Sharon's Gaza withdrawal.

Link

Sebastian: But that shifts then to the Palestinians. What happens when they start killing the current occupants?

That presumes it would be a direct one, two, three. It seems unlikely - Israelis live in the West Bank outside the Jews-only settlements without being murdered. Of course, given the murder and robbery record that the settlements have, it seems likely that many of the settlers there would be unwilling to let the Palestinian police arrest them for their past crimes and face justice in a Palestinian court. For those unwilling to live at peace with their neighbors, or who have already committed murder against their Palestinian neighbors and/or robbed them of their land and their homes, Israel is probably the safest place for them.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission sounds grand, but is unlikely, when the Israeli settlers have the option of fleeing back to Israel rather than testify to the crimes they committed under cover of the settlement movement, and the IDF have no reason to commit to such a Commission at all.

Regarding the one-solution: But most Israelis have good-enough security right now. So why should they give up stuff they want in exchange for at best keeping what they've got and at worst being much less secure? I just don't see why a rational Israeli voter would ever take a deal like this....

I think this is about right. I would guess that there is less support for this among Israeli Jews right now than, say, support among Palestinians for some kind of union with Jordan. Is one of these proposals more unrealistic like the other?

Well, it's not just the Palestinians that don't want portions of their territory to be annexed to Jordan.

Much more importantly, Jordan doesn't want to annex that territory!

Now again, I think that Israel needs to cut the far flung settlements loose, and agree not to protect them. But that shifts then to the Palestinians. What happens when they start killing the current occupants?

I don't think a policy where Israel simply withdraws their protection from settlements and outposts will ever be workable. Those people need to be evacuated, by force, and the only force that has enough legitimacy is the IDF. If the Israeli public ever watches video footage of Palestinians forcibly removing resistant settlers, the political will for any agreement crumble to dust.

I think this is about right. I would guess that there is less support for this among Israeli Jews right now than, say, support among Palestinians for some kind of union with Jordan. Is one of these proposals more unrealistic like the other?

Maybe after we've sent Jordan as much cash as we've sent Israel we can ask the Jordanians and Palestinians how they feel. Until we do that though, it seems premature to ask.

Reading my usual blogs on this subject, it seems to me that several far lefties have fallen into "the worse the better" trap. That is, some think that a possible right or far right Israeli government is actually a blessing in disguise (a very good disguise), because it'll finally be impossible for American politicians to pretend Israel is searching for a just peace.

It seems to me this underestimates the Orwellian ability of American politicians and more important, it sort of ignores the fact that on the one hand we have Hamas, a group that willing blows up children when it has the chance, and Fatah, a corrupt and violent party (though the good guys in the American press, the way Inkatha was in South Africa for some Americans and for the same reasons) and on the other hand we've got a majority of Israelis voting for parties that are pro-settler and even the "center" and "left" Israeli leaders supported the war crimes in Gaza.

There are sane well-intentioned people on both sides, but they don't seem to have any power.

Not that I don't think that there shouldn't be an attempt at pressuring the two sides to come together. In particular, I think the US should support a Palestinian unity government instead of inciting a civil war like we did in 2007. And we should also be willing to work with an Israeli rightwing government. But it's hard to be optimistic about the likely behavior of the Israelis, the Palestinians, or the US. Is there some fourth party that could intervene?

How much does one get paid for linking to other articles and adding little statements?

Xavi: As of yet, I have been paid a grand total of 0 dollars and 0 cents for my blogging efforts. At least on this site.

How much do you get paid for leaving snarky comments on blog sites where posters link to other articles and offer little statements?

How much do you get paid for leaving snarky comments on blog sites where posters link to other articles and offer little statements?

Whatever it is, Xavi's being overpaid.

I thought Tony Blair was going to fix all this - What happened ?

Much more importantly, Jordan doesn't want to annex that territory!

Yes, but neither does Israel want to do that. (Not "properly" anyway.) As I understand it, it comes down to the extent of leverage you think US policy can have over these parties, not what they actually want right now, no? Turbulence is of correct to note that Israel gets more aid for example, at least when you look at the nominal figures. Would you say they reflect the actual extent to which these countries depend on it? It seems to me you wouldn't need that much "shifting" of the discourse in the U.S. for the Jordanian solution (for obvious reasons), and I'm not exactly sure if that's something that should not be considered.

Let me also praise you Eric, for "linking to articles and adding little statements", and doing it entirely for free in these tough economic times (so nobody has leverage over you ;).

O dollars and 0 cents...it looks like we are not adding to the economy.

Yes, but neither does Israel want to do that.

Yeah, but Jordan relinquished its claim on the territory in 1988. Between 1967 and 1988, only the UK recognized Jordan's claim to begin with. Regardless, since 1967, it's been under Israeli military occupation. So it would be hard to expect Jordan to step in now and take what portions of the West Bank Israel deigns to lop off now some 40+ (or 20+) years later.

It seems to me you wouldn't need that much "shifting" of the discourse in the U.S. for the Jordanian solution (for obvious reasons), and I'm not exactly sure if that's something that should not be considered.

Yglesias, and the linked commenters, get at some of the problems with this proposal. I agree with Duss, Lynch and Yglesias most of the time, and this is no exception.

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/01/bolton_in_fantasyland.php

Let me also praise you Eric, for "linking to articles and adding little statements", and doing it entirely for free in these tough economic times

Thank you Christian. I do it for the love of the game ;) That, and the high quality of commenters/interactions through which I learn so very much.

The Xavis of the world notwithstanding.

xavi: Lucky for me, I'm an attorney living and practicing in Manhattan. I'm adding lots to the economy. So much, that if Obama's campaign promises are to be believed, my taxes will soon go up. So I'm also adding to the public coffers!

How bout you?

Xavi: O dollars and 0 cents.

Overpaid.

Nothing yet, I am doing a report on bloggers. I am twelve and hoping to start a website after this report.

Hmm, I think I phrased that a little poorly.I completely agree that the "Jordanian" proposal is a fantasy, I was thinking more along the lines of political efforts and short-term vs. longterm. Maybe I lack imagination and am a little unflexible in thinking here. Probably should also get some sleep, instead of patrolling blogs in search of precious links, ahh..

Xavi,

Feel free to email me if you need help with your report. I'm always willing to help out aspiring youngins.

Hard to see Israel ever voluntarily reversing the settlement policy. I remember Reagan's James Baker in the 80s trying to get Israel to cool it on the "Greater Israel" nonsense. A large chunk of Israelis also oppose it, and it still plows on. It is never going to happen.

This is understandable given the history of the founding of Israel, and the artificiality of the '67 borders (which were Israel's borders for only 19 years of is now 60 year existence, and are 42 years in the past). Or put another way, coveting Arab land has unfortunately been how Israel was founded and grown. The settlers can truthfully be said to represent something fundamental about Israel's identity that the country does not want to give up.

Which means that the savvy policy might just be to embrace the one-state solution. Maybe fear of it is the only technique to get change in the Israeli policy. We already have a de facto one state policy that resembles apartheid -- a majority of the population in the region is treated as non-citizens.

The Obama State Department reaction to the election is discussed
here

Robert Wood said this--

"The government needs to be formed. We will hold discussions with the government once it's in place. The important thing is we're looking forward to working with whoever heads it. It's up to the Israeli people, not the Israeli government, who will be in it," he said.

Referring to the possible inclusion of anti-Arab right wing Yisrael Beiteinu in the future coalition, Wood said "It's not for the U.S. to make this kind of characterization, it's the choice the Israeli people made. We have a robust agenda with Israeli government."

It sounds different in some fashion from the way the US talks about the results of Palestinian elections, in some ineffable way I can't quite identify.

Today, invoking the "two-state" mantra allows moderates to sound reasonable and true to the ideals of democracy and self-determination; but it doesn't force them to actually do anything to bring that goal about.

Reminds me of back in the mid-1980s when Congresscritters who wanted to sound similarly reasonable about Nicaragua, without actually having to take a stand, would say, "I support the Contadora process." There was even a Washingtoon cartoon about that, for those of you who fondly remember that comic.

Same shit, different decade.

dmbeaster: Which means that the savvy policy might just be to embrace the one-state solution. Maybe fear of it is the only technique to get change in the Israeli policy. We already have a de facto one state policy that resembles apartheid -- a majority of the population in the region is treated as non-citizens.

Yeah. In effect, the one-state solution is simpler now than "return to the 1967 borders": pull down the Gaza and West Bank barriers, and declare all the inhabitants of "Greater Israel" to be citizens of Israel. Numerically, that means (roughly) 5.2M Israeli citizens who are Muslim, to 5.8M who are Jewish: if it isn't a Jewish-majority state next generation, well, this generation has that time to get used to the idea.

Isn't the two-state solution already stone cold dead? I mean, really, you're talking about evicting 7% of Israel's population? Not going to happen, or even be discussed, until its viability as an option is long past.

What *is* going to happen is the path of least resistance -- AI researchers will recognize it as "hill climbing," leading inexorably to a one state solution that is no longer a pure Jewish state. How ugly the path to that result is depends upon rationality on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

But here's what happens. Israeli Jews continue to move rightward, and over time, Palestinians move from being an oppressed minority to an oppressed majority in their own country. They demand the right to vote; it is an indication of how bad things are today in Palestinian society that they're not doing this *already*.

Eventually, they will get it (see, South Africa's history for an idea of how long this might take, and the likelihood of its avoidance). Israel will no longer be a pure Zionist state. Exactly what Israel looks like at that time depends upon how well the Jews and Arabs negotiate things like right of return for both Jews and Palestinians. If either side had a lick of sense, this process would start now; a multi-ethnic Israel *could* be a great place.

But right now, the Israeli Jews and the Palestinian Arabs seem to be dedicated to making their eventual co-citizens as miserable and bitter as possible. Once they exhaust all other possibilities, perhaps they'll try tolerance.

Anyone want to start a pool on the year of the first election where everyone born in greater Israel has a vote? I'll open with 2048 :-)

a multi-ethnic Israel *could* be a great place

PghMike, if you have ever been there, you know it's multi-ethnic already. Remember the 20% or so of official Israel that's already Arab. Plus the many Jewish-by-courtesy Russians, the Jews who happen to also be black, semitic, oriental, caucasian...

2300 -- after the area is repopulated following complete social collapse, dictatorship and/or mass die-off due to water shortages and heat.

Two relevant but not rational agendas:

1) Millennial Zionism (Christian and Jewish). Of the two, Christian Zionism of the Hagee type (as opposed to the Christians who think that considering the history of the past century, a Jewish state make sense) has the potential to mobilize a lot of people, particularly Americans, because it has as its subtext the notion that if you do everything right (read ethnically cleanse the Arabs), Jesus will come back, the end times will come, and then you won't die. So don't expect reason or any other consideration to sway those people. Jewish Millennialism differs in some respects; Judaism and Christianity have different visions of what the coming of the the Messiah means (which you shouldn't confuse with the Islamic expectation of the hidden Imam).

2) Attitudes to Israel have a complex relation to attitudes abut the Holocaust. Among non-Jews, the conviction that such mass murder must never happen again, and the State of Israel help prevent a repetition tends to mix with somewhat less edifying feelings for and against Israel.

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