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February 17, 2010

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When Jimmy Carter said Israel was an apartheid state, he was called an antisemite.

Now, I guess Ehud Barak is an antisemite, too.

It's like telling someone they have life-threatening yet treatable cancer and prescribing two aspirins a day.

Hmmm...puzzling indeed. It's almost as if they don't really have that big a problem with the status quo; they just feel the need to be perceived as wanting to change it, while not actually doing any changing.

The parallels with one of the two major political parties in the United States are quite striking, doncha think?

UK: I was going to make that point, but it seemed too tangential.

Either way, they seem to appreciate the magnitude of the various problems (climate change, unemployment, financial industry dominance, health care, etc) and then end up with...not half measures even. 1/10 measures.

But, as with Israel, that's actually the better of the two options!

For the record, I recommend reading anything that has Daniel Levy's byline on it. He's about as balanced, grounded and realistic as they come with respect to an otherwise fraught subject matter.

Rea: That exact argument will likely be made at some point.

"I guess Ehud Barak is an antisemite, too."

No, no, no. You've got it all wrong. He's a self-hating jew.

Whenever I hear these arguments, I get the sense that there's an unstated assumption, namely "an apartheid state is untenable." Is that right?

Because that's where I disagree. Israel has resources that South Africa couldn't dream of. People saw as SA as the last holdover from an unjustifiable colonialism, a colonialism that many were all too happy to publicly condemn. People in the west now just don't see Israel in those terms. Israel is the scrappy underdog beset by horrific foes all around. In the popular imagination.

So I think Israel as an apartheid state can continue for a long long time. The truth is, there will always be some excuse, some justification for why Israel can't negotiate with the Palestinians. And an excuse, no matter how flimsy, is all Israel needs to hold off punitive measures that might alter its behavior. We've got loads of sanctions against Iran (why?) and we're trying to add more, but the notion that the international community would levy sanctions against Israel is absurd, no matter how formal their apartheid became.

I suspect that's why no one really cares about Ehud's critique: even the people who agree with it don't think it matters.

I basically agree with Turbulence, that the impossibility of the current situation continuing indefinitely is assumed but not demonstrated.

Israel has nuclear weapons and a military plainly capable of resisting the armies of its neighbors, most of whom have long since lost interest in invading it anyway. The Palestinians are not a serious military threat to Israel. Nobody from outside the region is going to invade, and the major developed economies that Israel trades with are not going to enact sanctions against them.

The situation of the Palestinians is extremely bleak. They have no military leverage, little moral standing because of the widespread use of attacks against civilians, no economic leverage, and no powerful friends willing to risk much in their defense.

While Israel's moral standing is impaired by some of its actions, that standing is far less important, because Israel has powerful friends and huge military and economic leverage.

One plausible future is that Israel's relations with neighboring states will continue to improve and yield mutual benefits, which will further decrease the identification of those states with the poverty-stricken Palestinians, decrease their interest in confronting Israel over them, and produce an increasing tendency to blame the Palestinians for their situation. Blaming poor, powerless people for being poor & powerless is pretty much the first thing other people do when they stop being poor & powerless themselves.

All Israel has to do is keep from engaging in outright ethnic cleansing and pogroms to keep the status quo going. The safest prediction of all is to say that things will continue pretty much the way they have been going.

He's a self-hating jew.

He's a Democrat?

[ducks]

Possibly related:

Aw, clipped. Whole thing here.

The Israeli government has already agreed to negotiations with Abbas of the PA. Abbas wants more concessions before he sits down at the table.

Anyway, not much can happen as long as the Arabs are split among the PA and Hamas; Abbas and Olmert were talking about a "Shelf agreement" to be agreed-on back then and implemented later, as a work around.

I think basically the various sides are waiting to see what happens after Abbas is gone from power. Who or what will take over the West Bank?

Even the 2-state plan is not necessarily a way to peace. Syria or Hamas could take over and decide to "Liberate" the "Rest" of Palestine from the Jews. Treaty or no Treaty.

To avoid this, I think Israel will stay a Jewish State, but be less democratic over time. Something like democracy for Jews.

The good news is that you don't have to worry about the Palestinian Arabs. There are plenty of poorer and more miserable Muslims in Chechnya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Chad, and so on. And Israel won't let things get too bad; They don't want the publicity. So go worry about Darfur or something, the Israelis will keep Gaza on a middle course in their own interest.

Unless, of course, Hamas starts shooting in a big way; Then all bets are off.

Thanks Fred, but I'll choose what I worry about and what I don't. And while the US is bankrolling Israel's efforts, their treatment of the Palestinians will have a lot more significance to me than the plight of those in Chechnya or Darfur.

If Israel is comfortable with the US cutting off all aid completely, then they can have my indifference. Deal?

Fred: Syria or Hamas could take over and decide to "Liberate" the "Rest" of Palestine from the Jews.

...because that worked out so well for them in 1948, 1967, and 1973.

If Israel is comfortable with the US cutting off all aid completely, then they can have my indifference.

Amen.

All Israel has to do is keep from engaging in outright ethnic cleansing and pogroms to keep the status quo going. The safest prediction of all is to say that things will continue pretty much the way they have been going.

The Israelis in fact ethnicly cleansed themselves completely out of Gaza, to see what would happen. Now the Gazans could have responded by saying that all Jews were welcome to come back as Palistinian citizens, and let's see how it goes. That option wasn't taken, and how has that worked out? If Jews give up the majority in Israel, the result would just be one less successful country and one more failed state.

The idea that hatred of Jews among Muslims would sibside if Jews did not live in their midst isn't proven; in fact, it is disproved by the persecution of Jews and Ethnic Cleansing of Jews in Middle Eastern and North African after 1948.

"The Israelis in fact ethnicly cleansed themselves completely out of Gaza, to see what would happen. Now the Gazans could have responded by saying that all Jews were welcome to come back as Palistinian citizens, and let's see how it goes. That option wasn't taken, and how has that worked out? "

Another glimpse into an eerie bizarre parallel universe, alike and yet strangely different from our own.

...because that worked out so well for them in 1948, 1967, and 1973.

Are you suggesting that anyone in the Middle East learns anything from experience?

At any rate, my strong belief is that if at some point the Israelis come to their senses and make a genuine and realistic offer for a two-state solution, the Palestinians will either reject it outright or find some way to sabotage it. And vice versa.

All Israel has to do is keep from engaging in outright ethnic cleansing and pogroms to keep the status quo going. The safest prediction of all is to say that things will continue pretty much the way they have been going.

Or (to) at least keep the cameras out and keep on discrediting journalists reporting stuff nonetheless as liars/antisemites/non-serious/etc. Look what happened to the Goldstone report that was about as balanced at it could be by credibly accusing both sides of engaging in 'questionable behaviour'.
A lot of things the radical settlers do (like destroying olive and fruit trees) would be punishable by death, if the laws of the Thorah were applied* .

*or generally agreed custom/law of the Greek or Roman period

"my strong belief is that if at some point the Israelis come to their senses and make a genuine and realistic offer for a two-state solution, the Palestinians will either reject it outright or find some way to sabotage it."

I don't agree with that, but don't have the time to get into a discussion of either Camp David or Taba.

But anyway, as long as we're being cynical let's not leave out the good ole USA, which has done a spectacular job enabling the very worst behavior on the part of Israel, as well as helping to instigate the brief Palestinian civil war in 2007 that ended in a complete Hamas victory in Gaza.

The basis of my US instigation of civil war claim is partly the Vanity Fair article below (though it was also reported in non-US sources)--

link

I agree history has been unfair to the Arabs of Palestine. Four hundred years of Turkish rule and the violence since then. Really, there is no fairness in this world.

My only objections to an Arab state in the West Bank and Gaza is that it is very unlikely to be at peace with it's neighbors, especially Israel, and that they plan to be totally Jew-free, to evict all the Jews.

Israel gets no pleasure or profit from administering the Arab areas. While many advocate a larger Israel from the river to the sea; only a small minority of Israelis would be willing to fight for it and evict the Arabs.

they plan to be totally Jew-free, to evict all the Jews

Fred, on the basis of your own moral reasoning, the only possible response to this is "Tough sh*t. Life is unfair."

I think they should form a government where one house is decided by population and the other is divided into two senators per state, maybe gerrymander the districts a little and create a government that can't get anything done so everyone is pretty safe from the government. Maybe have an elected PM, or call him President, and then they could all share all of Israel.

Are you suggesting that anyone in the Middle East learns anything from experience?

... well, okay, now that you put it that way.

But I don't think any of the surrounding states has, any longer, a burning desire to invade Israel, especially with the US being so involved in the region. I don't blame Israel for wanting to be prepared for the sort of breakdown in the liberal international order that happened in the early 20th century, but I'm not at all sold on the idea that a Palestinian state is a big threat even in that event.

"Israel is the scrappy underdog beset by horrific foes all around. In the popular imagination."

In the United States, this is true. I'm not sure this accurately describes the view of Israel worldwide, however. Obviously, we matter most b/c we're the Great Power and we are directly engaged (aid to Israel, attempts to broker peace, etc), but we're not the whole story.

Further, if Israel becomes more & more of an apartheid state, I'm not sure you can just count on continued US support. At some point, won't the illusion fail?

The US has supported (or even installed) much worse regimes, so an Israeli apartheid state with a well-oiled PR machine should have no trouble getting US support longterm. The threat to the status quo would not be bad Israeli behaviour but fundamental change in the US. But afaict any change in the US is more likely to go the other way.
Cynic's 2cent: The bombs falling on Iran will be the final seal under the contract because there will be no return from that.

Marty: that made me laugh ;)

For the kids:

the Invention of the Jewish People

Books challenging biblical and conventional history continually pop up, but what distinguishes the dispute over origins from debates about, say, the reality of the exodus from Egypt or the historical Jesus, is that it is so enmeshed in geopolitics. The Israeli Declaration of Independence states: “After being forcibly exiled from their Land, the People kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it.” The idea of unjust exile and rightful return undergirds both the Jews’ and the Palestinians’ conviction that each is entitled to the land.

Since Professor Sand’s mission is to discredit Jews’ historical claims to the territory, he is keen to show that their ancestry lines do not lead back to ancient Palestine. He resurrects a theory first raised by 19th-century historians, that the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe, to whom 90 percent of American Jews trace their roots, are descended from the Khazars, a Turkic people who apparently converted to Judaism and created an empire in the Caucasus in the eighth century. This idea has long intrigued writers and historians. In 1976, Arthur Koestler wrote “The Thirteenth Tribe” in the hopes it would combat anti-Semitism; if contemporary Jews were descended from the Khazars, he argued, they could not be held responsible for Jesus’ Crucifixion.

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