Peering over the horrible pile of Palestinian civilian casualties that has immediately resulted, it’s fairly easy to see where this is going in the medium-to-longer term. The zealot settlers and their clerical accomplices are establishing an army within the army so that one day, if it is ever decided to disband or evacuate the colonial settlements, there will be enough officers and soldiers, stiffened by enough rabbis and enough extremist sermons, to refuse to obey the order. Torah verses will also be found that make it permissible to murder secular Jews as well as Arabs. The dress rehearsals for this have already taken place, with the religious excuses given for Baruch Goldstein’s rampage and the Talmudic evasions concerning the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
It’s wonderful to hear this sort of thing from Hitchens because few people could question whether or not he’s a friend to Israel, though quite honestly this sort of essay could blacklist him fairly quickly, especially if he were to follow up with repeated criticisms of the far-right Israeli setters and the crazy religious leaders who are quite single-handedly making an Israeli push for a two-state solution look less and less likely daily. The same is true, of course, of the crazy religious and nationalist Palestinians, though there is quite a bit more press on that front, and a rather more widespread agreement that their tactics are wrong. People have less knowledge and thus less opinion or investment in the subject of radical Israeli settlers.
It’s time Americans began to learn about the settlements and how very un-American they are. After all, the thing that unites us most closely with Israel is our affinity with that country. But settlements and apartheid are not things Americans generally approve of – or at least not since the days of Indian killing out West.
The new Israeli government is more hawkish than the last, and things are looking more and more grim in the region, as new settlements are planned; Turks and Egyptians both begin shuffling their feet and questioning, sometimes quite publicly, why their governments are allied with Israel. Should those allies fail the Jewish state, things will continue to grow darker for the Israeli people.
What needs to happen is this: Israel needs to commit to dismantling the settlements, and the sooner the better because the settlers and their cohorts in the IDF are getting stronger and more radical. Meanwhile, Arab states – not the Palestinians – need to come up with a unified security deal for Israel to gaurantee their security in the event of an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. In good faith, Israel needs to come to some sort of renewed ceasefire and drawdown of sanctions over Gaza. Likewise, Arab governments need to publicly voice support of a lasting peace with Israel. One important thing to note is that it will be much easier for these states to do this than it is or ever has been for the stateless Palestinians. A state actor can come to consensus merely because there are leaders with legitimate and tested authority who can create that consensus. Ironically, the very stateless nature of the Palestinians makes coming to a two-state solution and security gaurantee that much more difficult.
Ben Smith thinks it’s likely that we’ll see a collision between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations, and I agree. It’s almost inevitable given the nature of Netanyahu’s government and the inclusion of Avigdor Lieberman. Despite Netanyahu’s claims to support a peace process, the Prime Minister has a track record of extreme hawkishness. It’s doubtful that we’ll see anything but expanded settlements and more dead ends. Obama will be sorely tested. Perhaps if an Israeli leader actually committed to the peace process had been elected alongside the new Obama administration, some ground could be covered. As it stands, I see the entire peace movement headed toward a crash.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch….
Take it away, Roque….