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December 14, 2010

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Interesting timing. I had just reada post by Barry Rubin explaining why the conflict continues and the what would have to happen for it to end, literally a minute before clicking onto yours. Sadly, I think his viewpoint is more realistic.

No matter what Israel or the US or the UN do, the Palestinians are not about to accept co-existence with Israel. As Rubin notes, they have been extraordinarily consistent in saying so. Peace will never come until the Palestinian equivalent of groups like Peace Now exist and are able to agitate for their position - not because they will be effective, but the very idea of Palestinians doing so would indicate a change in Palestinian society.

I am sure that it will be possible one day. There are Palestinian Arabs who would be willing to live in peace with Israel; unfortunately, they have no political power and no influence. An imposed solution would not change that. The Palestinian leadership would not consider themselves bound by an imposed agreement any more than they have considered themselves bound by agreements they have made themselves.

Definitely a plan worth exploring. Especially since the current Israeli government has indicated that it is unwilling to do anything substantive regarding peace talks which might resolve the situation otherwise. And I can see an Israeli government which was refusing to go along being vigorously voted out of office should the US, in exasperation, formally extend diplomatic recognition to Palestine. A US administration dominated by conservative Republicans might not, but eventually....

As for the demilitarization requirement, if any, I also doubt that it would be anything like permanent. Especially since the difference between a military and a police force (necessarily permitted) which was militarized is totally symbolic rather than real.

I had just reada post by Barry Rubin explaining why the conflict continues and the what would have to happen for it to end, literally a minute before clicking onto yours.

If you found Rubin's post persuasive, then I think it is unlikely that we'll be able to reach agreement.

No matter what Israel or the US or the UN do, the Palestinians are not about to accept co-existence with Israel.

Um, do you have any evidence to support this assertion?

I'm always curious when I hear blanket statements about a large group of people made by someone who is not a member: why exactly do you believe this? Do you think that Arabs in general are incapable of dealing with Israel because of some genetic flaw? Some cultural flaw? Or do you think that Muslims are incapable because of some religious reason? Or do you think that Palestinians have been so traumatized by Israeli aggression that they're incapable of negotiating (not likely, but included here for completeness)?

I'm always curious when I hear blanket statements about a large group of people made by someone who is not a member: why exactly do you believe this? Do you think that Arabs in general are incapable of dealing with Israel because of some genetic flaw? Some cultural flaw?

"flaw"? I think your question is making an incorrect assumption. It is not because of some "flaw" in Arabs that is the issue, as much as a basic cultural assumption - that the entire Middle East is theirs by right of conquest and the will of God, and that Israel therefore can be no more permanent than the Crusader kingdom.

It is a mistake to assume that Western assumptions are the default ones or the only possible ones. They come from our origins in Christianity, which itself melded Jewish and Greek traditions. There is no reason that non-Westerners should think the same way.

In short, why should they co-exist with Israel? They have their eyes on a prize (complete ownership of all the land), and they have never seen any negative consequences in areas that the majority seems to care that much about.

As for hard evidence, you have only to study the polls of Palestinian opinion and the statements of those campaigning for their support - they are quite consistent. And the total absence of native organizations which disagree is telling.

But I suggest you read the Rubin post I linked and explain exactly why he is wrong.

Fuzzy, a majority of Palestinians support peace with Israel, and the leader of the Palestinian Authority has publicly stated his willingness for peace talks. And unlike Mr. Rubin I have actually data when I talk about "what the Palestinians think."

http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=171559

Also, while the "Don't sell to Arabs" thing is disgusting. I think it's worth mentioning that the signing Rabbi's have be condemned by large segments of Israeli society.

"the leader of the Palestinian Authority has publicly stated his willingness for peace talks."

Sure - for peace talks, although somehow he could never bring himself actually to do any of this talking during the ten months that Israel was holding to a building freeze. But talks are not peace. Abbas has repeatedly refused to accept the right of Jews to self-determination (that is, recognize Israel has a Jewish state).

I have seen the headlines that claim that the majority of Palestinians support peace with Israel - but if you read the text, all the polls actually show is support for talks, not actual peace. But polls don't reveal what is important. What matters is actions, not words, and the Palestinians have yet to take any concrete actions towards peace - such as adhering to the commitments they have already made. Their schools still teach that Israel is illegitimate. The sermons on official PA radio stations still urge Muslims to kill Jews and Christians.

And of course, Hamas, which controls Gaza and cannot be ignored in any attempts at peace, still has the destruction of Israel as one of its official goals and has over and over stated categorically that it will never recognize the Jewish state.

"flaw"? I think your question is making an incorrect assumption.

Quite possibly, which is why I asked for you to explain what you meant in more detail.

It is not because of some "flaw" in Arabs that is the issue, as much as a basic cultural assumption - that the entire Middle East is theirs by right of conquest and the will of God, and that Israel therefore can be no more permanent than the Crusader kingdom.

Strange...is there any evidence that this assumption is so pervasive. I am an Arab and I don't believe this assumption. Nor do any of the Arabs that I know. Perhaps it is widely held, but you haven't presented any evidence.

I mean, if I said, "Israel will never tolerate a sovereign Palestinian state because Jews have a foundational cultural notion that all of the land of Biblical Israel has been entrusted to them by God forever", I presume that you'd see the absurdity of that argument.

In short, why should they co-exist with Israel?

Because Israel has lots of power and money? I mean, why should Native Americans co-exist with white colonizers?

They have their eyes on a prize (complete ownership of all the land), and they have never seen any negative consequences in areas that the majority seems to care that much about.

It seems that Palestinians have suffered some pretty enormous negative consequences...starting with the fact that their economy has been strangled. The unemployment rate is over 40% (IIRC) and child malnourishment is at severe levels. I don't know if you consider such things to be "negative consequences" though; perhaps you can clarify.

As for hard evidence, you have only to study the polls of Palestinian opinion and the statements of those campaigning for their support - they are quite consistent.

Poll results are incredibly sensitive to the precise phrasing used. In any event, my reading of the polls is at odds with yours.

And the total absence of native organizations which disagree is telling.

I find this perplexing. Surely you are familiar with the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall, which engages in non-violent protest? Its leader has been imprisoned by Israel on trumped-up charges for some time now; the EU as well as Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter have condemned the Israeli government for this. Perhaps there would be more non-violent Palestinian organizations around if the Israeli government weren't so dedicated to punishing them.

I was going to jump in to argue the Palestinian case, but why bother? The "it's all the Palestinian's fault" is so old it is beyond ripe.

As to Eric's contention here: That is a really, really, really, really, really, thin reed. Really.

Sad but true.

What bobbyp said. All of it. Alas.

It seems that Palestinians have suffered some pretty enormous negative consequences...starting with the fact that their economy has been strangled.

And you'd think that as a result, they'd be eager to work on getting a state - but then again, I don't expect the PA leadership is feeling any of the privation.

I find this perplexing. Surely you are familiar with the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall, which engages in non-violent protest?

I am talking about Palestinian organizations which protest against their own leadership. Protesting against Israel is hardly defying the opinion of their own elites.

Today, on "To The Point"

Efraim Inbar, Director, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, did make the argument that the West Bank "belongs to Jews", using Biblical sources as proof!

I may have heard it wrong, but he basically argued that the land belonged to the Jews, because of Biblical history and it was the Palestinian’s fault,….I think he doesn’t like the history books in their elementary schools. Maybe he should have Bible study with them.

Strange when secular folks run to Scripture.

http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/tp/tp101214administration_at_od

Some of my best friends are Jewish. None of them, however, is Israeli. So I have no particular sympathy for Israel.

I have a general sympathy for Israel. As a democracy, as a homeland for (some of) the Jewish people, as a US ally. I have no, none, ZERO, sympathy for an Israel whose territorial claims are based on the Old Testament. Anybody who relies on Scripture as a land deed is no more a friend of mine than any other theocratic lunatic.

I side with Bertrand Russell, whose position was that religious fanatics are well employed in killing each other, and sensible people are well advised to let them do it. Well, okay, I'm paraphrasing.

Still and all, I have no preference between Jewish theocrats and Muslim ones.

--TP

"Israel will never tolerate a sovereign Palestinian state because Jews have a foundational cultural notion that all of the land of Biblical Israel has been entrusted to them by God forever",

Unfortunately,the predominant Israeli political powers seem to abide by that statement.

"I am talking about Palestinian organizations which protest against their own leadership. Protesting against Israel is hardly defying the opinion of their own elites."

God, this is stupid.

link

Fuzzy Face, I'm no expert on Palestinian society, but compared to you I'm Rashid Khalidi.

Reading Haaretz, Gush Shalom mailings, and Juan Cole leads me to believe that the Israeli government has faith that their attitudes never need change.
The Palestinian Mandela may well be in jail, but the need to negotiate is not obvious to his captors. Only if the US stops bankrolling and backstopping the Israeli military will things begin to change. And I see no likelihood for a new US policy.

The Israelis would go to war sooner than see such a thing happen.

If they even smelled it coming, they would deliberately start a general regional war, e.g. with Syria, just to make a big enough mess to prevent any headway being made in Palestine.

Zionist fundamentalism is very strong in Israel, and it wouldn't get weaker if their country were threatened by Western powers. Everything that applies to any other country's fundamentalist religion or ethnic nationalism, applies equally in Israel. Direct pressure, threats, or international military intervention without the mutual agreement of the parties concerned, will probably not yield the desired results.


Further, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon are leery of a full-fledged Palestinian state. They always have been. They have seldom had to do much to suppress Palestinian statehood, since the Israelis seem delighted to do most of the oppressing themselves. But a viable Palestinian state would probably sound the death knell for the oligarchy in Egypt and for the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan.

Hamas will likely sign a paper stating Israel has a right to exist about the same time Israel decides to vacate lands it currently occupies.
Did you not realize that the people in prison behind the Wall are not recognized as a country by Israel ? That they are there because they were thrown out of their homes by main force - and that this has continued for decades ?
In Israel itself Apartheid is routine. Racism is the status quo.
And you hope to use the UN to do what Britain and the USA have engaged in for decades : prop up Israel.
The weapons industry there is in good shape. They don't really need American subsidies after decades of getting them by way of arms shipments...vital materiel for conquest.
You really are ignoring something obvious.
Netanyahu was elected by Israelis. He is the kind of leader they have had and want still.
So any silly games Obama decides to play are always 'wrong'. Things like Hamas being declared a terrorist organization.
Holy Hell. WTF do you think the US military is ? Or the IDF, with tanks, and jets and navy...none of which Palestinian prisoners have ?
This piece reminds me of the 'wonkery' that used to come out of the kids at Ezra Klein's blog years ago. Let's find out what some people think who have had a long hard look at the situation.
http://www.vtjp.org/
Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel

I happened to notice a clip at Clipmarks and thought of this thread http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSlFR541Uoo

"Let's find out what some people think who have had a long hard look at the situation."

This may not be the best way to address people, because what you've just done is call everyone you're addressing, "people who haven't had a long hard look, and yet have been mouthing off at length."

Therefore, you've just said they're stupid, you're smart, and they should therefore listen to you.

That's the point at which most people stop listening.

If your goal is to persuade people to rethink, I suggest rethinking.

It's just a suggestion.

Meanwhile, just an assertion: FuzzyFace might try looking at actual polls of actual Palestinians, and citing them. They're readily available.

Try here.

Data is useful.

peggy (11:05 PM),
It's not that the "predominant Israeli political powers" believe that all of Biblical Israel should be theirs. It's that they want the political power of being in office. And the way to successfully form a governing coallition is to either a) work with a major competitor for power, or b) include some of the religious fanatics' parties.

Frequently, they go with option b. Which, in turn, means that they either bend to the demands of the fanatics' parties (lots of settlements and no peace that doesn't give Israel everything from the Jordan to the sea), or they lose office. So they bend. As numerous polls of Israelis show, a substantial majority want peace and have no major problem with a Palestinian state as part of that. Just as the polls Gary cites show that a substantial majority of Palestinians want peace, and are willing to recognize Israel to get it.

So the challenge is to achieve peace and a two-state solution in spite of the domestic politics involved on both sides. And Robert Wright's proposal looks like a way to get there. Not, perhaps, the only way; but alternatives which show any signs of having a chance of working are pretty thin on the ground.

Israeli settlement expansion has been, to borrow a phrase from Fuzzyface, remarkably consistent.

Whenever an Israeli official talks about how they'd have peace if it wasn't for those nasty, wicked, false Palestinians, remember that.

I.
The UN did not create Israel. Even though many Zionists like to say so. The Partition Plan of 1947 was not accepted and is, in reality and in law, a dead letter.

Israel was created by: 1) Israel's Declaration of Independence. 2) Recognition of the new state by the nations of the world, most notably the US and the USSR. 3) Israel's War of Independence.

II.
A new Arab, "Palestinian" state in the west bank, or the west bank and Gaza, is not likely to bring peace. It is likely to bring a bigger and bloodier war.

Abbas and the PA cannot hold on to power, cannot deliver whatever they might promise, and may become the dust of history. Abbas and the PA, and any new state, will be preyed upon by Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran. Just look at what they are doing to Lebanon. Can we believe they will treat the "Palestinian State" with more respect?

The new state would need to become a client of Israel and/or the US in order to survive. But that is exactly a formula for illegitimacy, and hence, for its demise.

An Islamist or even a pan-Arab Palestinian state would be an arms depot and a warrior state. They would build up their weapons and get financial and military support from the Muslim world. When the time is ripe, they can create an incident to start a war.

I repeat, a new Arab state will bring a bigger and bloodier war, not peace.

Plausible.

I'm curious. How, exactly, would recognition of a Palestinian state trigger a "bigger and bloodier war"? (And how soon would you expect that to happen?)

Are you saying that, simply because they are recognized as a country, the Palestinians would suddenly start attacking Israel (more than currently happens)? And if so, how do you see the logistics for that happening? Because they hardly have the weapons to launch a really serious attack now.

Or are you saying that Israel would attack someone (Palestine? Syria? Who?) in response? And how would attacking anyone other than the Palestinians be justified, even internally?

Or would the other Arab countries take this as a reason to launch a war against Israel? And why would they, given the history of how well those have worked out in the past, not to mention all the obvious down-sides for them?

Or do you envision the Israeli settler movement launching attacks on the Palestinians? And, presumably, the Israeli government sitting by and doing nothing in response. And why would that be a significantly bigger and bloodier war?

Thank you for the clarification.

Hey, gang, I have a proposal for an experiment, that I expect everyone to ignore!

From now one, in I/P thread, what if we tried the experiment that no one gets to use the phrase "the Israelis" or "the Palestinians"?

Instead, you must name the specific Israelis or Palestinians you wish to quote, link to the quote, and give a few words citing which set of Israelis or Palestinians the person demonstrably speaks for by position of authority over which set of Palestinians or Israelis you have in mind.

Bear in mind you'll be asked for a cite to support your assertion that said individual speaks for said party, was elected to said position, is in charge of X, or whatever the qualification is.

If all you can do is speak of "the Israelis" or "the Palestinians" or "Hamas" or "Likud" or "Kadima" "or Fatah" or a party name: you don't get to play.

Let's everyone who can play start now! GO!

Playing not mandatory.

But if I do a post on I/P, we'll see.

Do I need to explain why I'm suggesting that people have at least that level of knowledge and ability to demonstrate it before they bother typing?

It's only a suggestion. Carry on.

Put it another way: how valuable and insightful do you find discussions about the politics of your country by people who can't even list the top ten signifcant politicians in it? Or name the parties in Parliament? Or recognize the names?

Some of you can. Some of you are reasonably expert. Some are highly expert.

It's not a high bar to pass.

I like this Gary.

Great idea, how about an extension of this principle to discussions about American politics, "Democrats," "Republicans," "liberals," and "conservatives?"

It is a mistake to assume that Western assumptions are the default ones or the only possible ones. They come from our origins in Christianity, which itself melded Jewish and Greek traditions. There is no reason that non-Westerners should think the same way.

It's a shame to see someone implicitly denying the amount of cultural heritage that we received from the Middle East. As well as, it seems, confusing our own cultural heritage, discounting all of the factors present before Christianity or the extent to which those existent factors shaped Christianity rather than vice versa...

Or, rather hilariously, that "Western assumptions" involve things such as "co-existence". One would struggle long and hard to extract such an assumption from a general view of, say, post-Roman Europe.

I have seen the headlines that claim that the majority of Palestinians support peace with Israel - but if you read the text, all the polls actually show is support for talks, not actual peace.

This seems like the most natural thing in the world- one cannot be asked to support a "peace" unless one knows what that peace looks like. This is true for both sides.
But it certainly seems implicit in supporting peace talks that there would be some purpose to them, ie that these people believe that some acceptable peace settlement could be reached via negotiation. Which, I might add, is certainly *not* compatible with the idea that the entire Middle East is theirs by right of conquest and the will of God.

There is a strategy that could actually work. It would take boldness on President Obama’s part...

There's a preemptive problem right there.

Yeah JB, I think Wright is trying to shift the dialogue, move the window a bit. Not expecting Obama to actually be so bold. Not that Obama is alone in his Presidential timidity when it comes to this particular mess.

I think Wright is trying to shift the dialogue, move the window a bit. Not expecting Obama to actually be so bold.

I'm sure you're right, Eric. And yes, Obama is not alone in the presidential timidity dept. vis a vis the middle east. He just seems preternaturally cautious - about everything.

On the other hand, he is in a tough spot. Unlike Bibi, Israeli heads of state usually try to be a little subtle when they insult the president of their patron country. Also, American presidents usually don't have a domestic opposition party which explicitly aligns with a foreign head of state over their own president. The GOP is international! (But naturally, it's progressives and Democrats who are traitors, disloyal, un-Amerncan, etc. yawn.)

Yeah, Cantor was pretty bold on that front. Any country other than Israel, and he would have been censured/impeached/imprisoned.*

At least one of that list is hyperbole.

Any country other than Israel,

Which is special, apparently, even when it comes to US income taxes. It has its own Code section (999) and accompanying form, is exempt from the below market loan rules of section 7872 (in certain circumstances), and US persons are allowed to deduct donations to charities organized in Israel (in certain circumstances) unlike charities organized in other foreign countries (other than Canada & Mexico).

Looking at the current Israeli parliament, I don't see much of a reflection of those opinion polls cited by wj.

Out of 120 Knesset seats,

Likud's got 27. We all know they're hardliners. They were even too hardline for Sharon to put up with.

Yisrael Beiteinu's got 15. That would be the nice rational secular ethnic cleansing party!

Shas has 11. They're fundamentalists who endorse the "Greater Israel" notion.

United Torah Judaism has 5. More fundamentalists.

National Union has 4. They are proud to be the furthest-right party in the Knesset.

Jewish Home has 3. Another right-wing religious party, because Israeli voters are fussy about their right-wing religious nationalisms.

So in all we got 27 classic Israeli hard-bombing, wall-building hardliners.
We got another 15 doughty secular ethnic cleansers. And finally we got 23 who sincerely believe their country's on a Mission From God.

That's 65 out of 120, an outright majority in the Knesset.

The belligerent annexationist tendency in Israel can therefore no longer be regarded as merely an artifact of their electoral system and coalition-building.

An oh yes, what about the Israeli centre? That would be Kadima, who gave the world such blessings as the 2006 Lebanon and 2008 Gaza wars.

BTW the current Knesset was elected in 2009, i.e. after those dismal wars.

So where exactly, in all this nasty reality of Israeli politics, do those cheery opinion polls fit in, wj?


I'll restate some of what I argued before: putting Israelis under direct UN or US pressure would not, repeat not, have much moderating effect on opinion in Israel.


Obama must NOT try to demonstrate his strength by provoking a clash with Israel, any more than he ought to demonstrate his manliness against Iran, or any other country for that matter.

I'll restate some of what I argued before: putting Israelis under direct UN or US pressure would not, repeat not, have much moderating effect on opinion in Israel.


Obama must NOT try to demonstrate his strength by provoking a clash with Israel, any more than he ought to demonstrate his manliness against Iran, or any other country for that matter.

This is assertion, not argument. Where's the argument part? If you've made it before: link?

Gary, I spelled out for you the extent of irrational, bellicose, racial and religious sentiment represented in today's Israeli parliament.

I gave you exactly the sort of specifics you claimed you wanted to see.

You don't need me to give you a link to see the composition of the Israeli knesset. Those are not obscure or contentious facts, and the information is available on many reliable sites.

I think that showing the extent of bellicose, hard-right-wing, nationalist sentiment is a very strong argument against the notion that middling, muddling, meddling US pressure is going to somehow conjure up a mighty though latent moderate trend in Israeli politics.

The proposal on this post suffered from the same kind of bad reasoning that lay behind other botched interventions, i.e. that some US pressure is all that's needed to catalyze dramatic political change in a world trouble zone.

I don't support the current Israeli regime, but I nevertheless would not want to see their country being made into the latest interventionist project.

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