Tough Love

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it is the settlements more than anything else that prevent a two-state solution from being realized.  Whereas the Palestinians have no true guiding authority to end, once and for all, the terrorist attacks on Israel, the Israelis do have a legal framework to end the settlements in the West Bank.  Of course, such a political move won’t be easy, but if Israel ever hopes to achieve some semblance of peace with her neighbors and the Palestinians, the settlements must be dismantled.

The Israelis take the best land, drive on separate roads, and sometimes settler extremists will attack Palestinians or burn their fields and homes.  Is this how Israel wants to be represented?  Is this what Israel intended when those original Zionists populated Tel Aviv?  I think not–I hope not.  Not all of Israel is an apartheid state, but the West Bank is fast becoming just that.

Tom Piatak writes:

If I had to live in the Middle East, I would want to live in Israel, a modern, democratic country with a productive economy, including a burgeoning high-tech sector, and a rich cultural and intellectual life.  There is much to admire in Israel, a dynamic and prosperous nation created in part by survivors of the Holocaust.

However, Piatak warns,

The refusal to criticize behavior that would be criticized if engaged in by any other country is just one sign that America has formed the type of “passionate attachment” to Israel that our first and greatest president warned against in his Farewell Address.

Indeed, this is the dual nature of our relationship, both in the media and in politics, with Israel.  We support them unconditionally.  We support their every move because somehow they are like us.  Because that is where we would choose to live if we moved to the Middle East.  We support policiies as horrendous as the continued occupation and settlement of the West Bank because we are blind to the harm they cause not only the Arabs, or the interests of the United States, but also to the vast majority of moderate Israelis who would like, someday, to live in peace.

It is time that this Government laid down its blind support of Israel and the settlers who now have all but blackmailed that nation, in favor of a more helpful variety of alliance–call it tough love, if you will.  Call it pragmatism, or America first.  Call it what you like, but no matter what else happens, until the settlements are dismantled, there is no point in supporting Israel or doing much of anything else with that conflict.  It will be a lost cause.  Peace will not come without compromise.

NOTE: The 60 minutes video above, and this Time Magazine article, are meant to point out to that there are a number of reasonable mainstream critiques of Israel emerging.  And here’s another question to those in the hyper-partisan pro-Israel camp: how long can you keep it up?  Without more substantitive steps on the part of Israel, how long do you think widespread support for that State will last?  And wouldn’t it be a shame if popular opinion did shift so drastically that Israel lost American support?  Better to act now, make the right decisions, withdraw from the West Bank, take the high road and instigate the two state solution, rather than risk going it alone.  I sense a shift in popular opinion taking place.  I’m no pollster, but I think one thing that the Bush administration did badly was uniquivecobly support Israel.  Now, in a sense, the unpopular President and his unpopular policies will be inextricably tied to Israel, and not to their benefit I fear.

When Joe the Plumber was asked whether he thought Obama would be the death of Israel, he may have been wiser to point out that Bush already begun that process by so undermining American credibility in the peace process.  Bush, like so many others, may sincerely believe that his brand of support was helpful, but I think history will prove that not to be the case…

Second Note: I also want to add that one reason I think this move on Israel’s part is that as the dialogue shifts in the media, in the mainstream, we will start to hear more virulent attacks on Israel.  As it stands, there are those who foolishly compare Israel to Nazi Germany (apparently without the ovens, death campst, etc.) or the Israeli actiosn to the Holocaust (without the millions of dead, I suppose?) and this seems to be the sort of natural extension you begin to see when there is a wider shift in perception.  The same ignorant people who currently support Israel without really any knowledge of the conflict or region, could shift their loyalties just as quickly.  It’s important, then, that Israel re-takes the high moral ground, or else I think they really do face isolation in the geopolitical future.

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9 thoughts on “Tough Love

  1. The Jewish lobby, going on Abe Foxman’s statement, seems fearful of President Obam appointing George Mitchell to head negotiations in this dispute. Foxman said something to the effect that he feared Mitchell would be “fair.” The fact that the President gave his first foreign press interview to Arab TV also lends hope that the administration might pursue an even handed policy. Now that the christian right is out of favor in the White House the religious nuts, sorry that is being redundant, will have less power to push their one sided pro Israel policy. I’ll try to find Mr. Foxman’s statement and post it later.

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  2. Thanks, Bob. “Fair” would be nice, eh? The thing is, as I’ve said countless times, this is not anti-Israel to want them to end this absurd settlement policy. I think the only way Israel will ever survive as anything more than an empty shell, militarized police state is by leaving the West Bank….

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  3. Below is the quote I was speaking of in the post above. From an interview in Jewish Week, by Jim Besser.

    “Sen. Mitchell is fair. He’s been meticulously even-handed,” said Abraham Foxman […] “But the fact is, American policy in the Middle East hasn’t been ‘even handed’ – it has been supportive of Israel when it felt Israel needed critical U.S. support.

    “So I’m concerned,” Foxman continued. “I’m not sure the situation requires that kind of approach in the Middle East.”

    What else do we need to know, and good luck Mr. President

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  4. It is the settlements more than anything else that prevent a two-state solution from being realized. Whereas the Palestinians have no true guiding authority to end, once and for all, the terrorist attacks on Israel, the Israelis do have a legal framework to end the settlements in the West Bank.

    This is not correct. You’re excluding the Palestinians completely from any responsibility in the failure of the two-state solution. For twenty years now, the two-state solution has been the official policy of the Israeli government. Before that, in 1947, the Arabs had the chance to found a state on the West Bank. Before that, in 1937, they had the same chance, which was offered to them by the British government. There were no settlements back then. What was preventing it then? What was preventing it in 2000, when it was again offered by Israel?

    I think that Hamas’s genocidal goals, the suicide murders, missile attacks, the illegal arms contraband, the continued indoctrination of Arab children with Jew hatred have something to do with the failure of the peace process. If you’re putting the whole blame on Israel, like you do here, then why isn’t this “anti Israel?”

    You think the Palestinians have no authority to end terrorist attacks. Why? They’re running a police state. If they can find homosexuals and crucify them, why can’t they stop terrorist attacks?

    Better to act now, make the right decisions, withdraw from the West Bank, take the high road and instigate the two state solution, rather than risk going it alone.

    Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 and got Hizbollah missile attacks in response; they withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and got missile attacks in response. How would you show that withdrawal from the West Bank would not get the same response as these, or worse? Wouldn’t Hamas take over the West Bank then as well? Do you think that it’s an acceptable risk to have Hamas on the West Bank and in Gaza?

    Not all of Israel is an apartheid state

    Which parts are “apartheid” and which aren’t?

    The above seems to be the heart of your opinion.

    The following are side-points.

    We support them unconditionally. We support their every move…We support policies as horrendous as the continued occupation and settlement of the West Bank

    1. Of course this is an unacceptable exaggeration. Nothing is “unconditional.” And we don’t “support their every move.” There are lots of “moves” we have opposed. We have never supported the settlements, for example. They do it anyway, but then, why should they take orders from us?

    2. Why do you say that Israel is “occupying” the West Bank? Israel took control of this territory was after the ’67 war, when it was used as a fire base against Israel by Jordan. Why is it “horrendous” for Israel to want to control territory that was used to bomb it? If Israel is “occupying” it, then whose territory was it at the time?

    Bush already begun that process by so undermining American credibility in the peace process.

    Fine. Blame Bush. But, again, American credibility had been badly burned by Arafat in 2000. Clinton threw all his logs on the fire to get to a final settlement. He was utterly disrespected by Arafat. I’d say that Palestinians undermined their own credibility there. I’d say that Bush was just doing his job—if Arafat was so bold as to publicly disrespect Clinton, then it was Bush’s job to show him that you can’t do that and expect business as usual because it’s about the office of the president. It isn’t just some personal slight that one can forget about.

    The same ignorant people who currently support Israel without really any knowledge of the conflict or region…

    I’m sure this is just sloppy writing. You don’t mean to call supporters of Israel “ignorant.” Can you rectify this?

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  5. 1. Israel is occupying the West Bank. What else do you call what they’re doing? And by the way, they aren’t enemies with Jordan anymore, so why do they need a fire base?

    2. Also, I didn’t call all Israel supporters ignorant–but many are: in fact, I said “who…support Israel without really any knowledge of the conflict”.

    3. The West Bank is an apartheid state. Israel proper is not.

    4. Yes, I’m abdicating responsibility from the Palestinians who will never, never, never step up to that plate. They never will. Ever. So long as history repeats itself. So it is up to the Israelis, plain and simple. If they want peace, they make the move for it. They won’t be attacked by Jordan and Egypt again. Or Iraq. They won’t face any of their threats alone. They just need to clear out of the West Bank so that Palestine can exist. We’ll go from there…

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  6. Israel is occupying the West Bank

    Is that any way to answer a question? Should I now say isn’t? And you’d say is?

    Since you asked me what I’d call it, I’ll tell you, just so you can see that I’m willing to engage in debate, not just some absurd is/is not shouting match.
    It’s a hard question to answer because we lack the vocabulary for it, so maybe bear with me? The West Bank was “occupied” by Jordan 1948-1967 (funny we didn’t hear any condemnations of Jordan for breaking international law back then). In 1947, according to the UN, it was supposed to be a Palestinian state. Instead, Jordan “occupied” it. So it never has been an independent state or even a part of an independent state, as would have been the case if Jordan had annexed it in 1948. So, what’s the word for taking control over a territory that never has been an independent state and furthermore has been controlled by other states in the past? It’s just a shot in the dark, but I’d call this a “border dispute” and the West Bank “disputed territory.” This seems a lot more accurate than “occupied” to me, since “occupation” implies an illegal annexation of some foreign territory by a state, not just “being there.” Israel had all the right in the world to take control over the West Bank in 1967 and has not lost that right in the absence of a peace treaty with the Arabs, which is stipulated in UNR 242.

    Of course Jordan won’t be firing on Israel from the West Bank. What do you take me for? But Hamas will be if Israel withdraws. Or not? Besides, where does it leave UNR 242 if Israel withdraws without a peace treaty? Wouldn’t this be a violation?

    You’re using the term “apartheid state” in a way that I’ve never seen it used before. “Apartheid” refers to a regime that discriminates against some of its citizens, like the South before the Civil Rights act, like Christian Europe before the French Revolution, or like Islamic law does today everywhere it’s applied. The West Bank isn’t part of Israel, so how can Israel be accused of discriminating against the people of the West Bank? Are you suggesting that Israel should grant citizenship to them? The West Bank isn’t even a state, so how can it be an “apartheid state?” Israel uses its power to control the West Bank because they have good reason to believe that if they didn’t, then it would become the base for attacks on them, once again. Why does this equal “apartheid?”

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  7. Okay, so apartheid doesn’t apply because it’s not part of Israel; but it’s also not being occupied by Israel; and yet it is being settled by Israelis who are treated different than their Arab neighbors much like an apartheid system, which of course it can’t be because it’s not part of Israel. Do I have your circular logic about right?

    And even if you are right that Israel occupies the West Bank to protect against attack (which is nonsense, but whatever…) then where do the settlements logically fit into it all? Are they intended to improve Israeli security as well?

    Regarding Jordan–fine. Jordan and Egypt were both occupiers at one point. In the past. Years ago. It was wrong. Now Israel is the occupier. They’re acting just like their enemies.

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  8. apartheid doesn’t apply because it’s not part of Israel; but it’s also not being occupied by Israel; and yet it is being settled by Israelis who are treated different than their Arab neighbors much like an apartheid system, which of course it can’t be because it’s not part of Israel.

    This is a pretty fair summary of what I said. You’re trying for sarcasm here: “Do I have your circular logic about right?” I guess you are authorized to use this rhetorical device because you’re the owner of this blog. I accept that. I don’t why my logic is circular. I said I wasn’t sure what to call it because it’s such a unique situation in world politics. Can you now answer my question and tell me why you say it is an occupation? Anyhow, I’m not denying that Palestinians are being maltreated by Israelis in the West Bank. I am not some racist crank, like Freddie says. I believe that the Palestinians have the right to live in peace like anyone else. I respect Arab/Muslim culture as long as they don’t attack me with it. But they have been maltreated by Arabs since the partition, when their refugee plight was used as a bargaining chip against Israel. I’m not trying to apportion blame or to arrive at sweeping moral judgments (not because I disparage this exercise either).
    Exactly why is it “nonsense” that Israel’s security measures on the West Bank protect it from attack? They have been attacked from there repeatedly in the past. How can you say that concern for this is such “nonsense?” Up until 2002, Palestinians had sweeping autonomy over the West Bank and Israel had withdrawn the vast majority of its forces, as per the Oslo agreements. From 2000 to 2002, they were subject to suicide attacks that were operated from the West Bank. Why is it “nonsense” to think that these attacks would resume in the case of an Israeli withdrawal today?

    Where do the settlements fit in here? Good question. Short answer is that they don’t and must be dismantled. But that can’t happen in the absence of a peace agreement, can it? Until then, they most certainly do support Israeli security, which is why they’re there in the first place. You can’t continue to put all the blame for this situation on Israel alone and expect that people won’t think you’re anti Israel.

    The difference between the Jordanian and Egyptian occupation and Israel is that Palestinians did not pose any threat whatsoever to Jordan and to Egypt back then. When they started to pose a threat they were oppressed with much more brutality than Israel ever has done. I didn’t see any protests by the international community over this back then. Why is that, do you think? I just can’t see how Israel is acting “just like” Jordan and Egypt aside from the fact of imposing some sort of control over the West Bank. I know that this is a stupid way to argue, but if I were Palestinian, I’d prefer to be occupied by Israel than by Hamas.

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