Friday, July 8, 2011

Israel's Hamas, Akiva Eldar's Obituary for Oslo, Adam Shatz's Picture of the Palestinians

My day job has kept me very busy lately, but there are three short points I would like to make before Shabbat enters.

1. Israel’s hamas

Today’s Haaretz headline says it all: Israel Expropriates West Bank Land in Order to Legalize Settlement. How many similar headlines has Haaretz published in the last forty years?The system is simple. Settlers squat on Palestinian land. The settlement is considered to be an "outpost," illegal even by Israeli standards. Then the government confiscates the land on which the settlement sits in order to retroactively legalize the settlement. In Hebrew that is called, le-taher et ha-sheretz, to purify a reptile that is inherently impure. It doesn't work in halakha, Jewish law; it doesn't work it in real life. We sin against the Palestinians, and we lie to ourselves.

That is what we call in Hebrew hamas, the Biblical word for theft and oppression. Israel has ruled the West Bank by force, through theft and oppression. Of course, the thief doesn't agree that it is theft, but it is indeed our hamas.

It is morally and legally indefensible. And as a religious Jew, I believe that Providence will in the end deal justly with the perpetrators and the victims of that hamas. But the Lord helps those who help themselves. It's up to us to begin.

2. If you are a two-stater, this piece by Akiva Eldar is a must read

Akiva Eldar is one of the last serious two-staters in Israel, a believer in the Geneva Initiative. Of course, I have written here many times that the Geneva Initiative does not give the Palestinians a real state. But no matter; Eldar is convinced that this is the way to go.

So when Eldar -- and not Jerry Haber or Ali Abunhimah -- lashes out at Dennis Ross and the fake peace process, you two-staters should read it here...and weep.

If I had one wish, it would be that every so-called liberal Zionist, from Jeremy Ben Ami to Alan Dershowitz and all the people in between, read Eldar's obituary for Oslo.

I take that back -- I will be happy if only Tom Friedman reads it.

2. The Must-Read Article of the Week: Adam Shatz on the Palestinians in the LRB

Finally, the best take on the Palestinians in June 2011 -- including the various groups within Palestine, but not so much those outside Palestine -- is provided by Adam Shatz in a long article in the current London Review of Books here. Some may take objection to some points, but the article is a must-read.

I was particularly interested in the claim that West Bank Palestinians are more inclined to see Israelis as temporary invaders, like the Crusaders, than they were during they were in the halcyon Oslo days -- primarily because they are isolated entirely from Israelis. It seems that the "Iron Wall" actually makes Arabs less likely to accept Israel's existence. Is anybody surprised by that?

Who should read this article? Anybody who thinks Palestinian society is monolithic, that things are getting better for the Palestinians on the West Bank, and who see Fayyad and Fayyadism as the hopeful wave of the future.

In other words, self-deluded Zionists.


Anonymous said...

1. The institutionalization of land-taking originates in very gradual transitions of the status of title that enable every subsequent party in the transition to accurately state "I/we acquired title legally".

But, the whole sequence adds up to forced taking, but never at any individual phase.

It like in math (a+b)+(1-b)+(c-1)+(3-c). Within very separated parentheses, the results are distinct, but they still simply add up to a+3.

2. Eldar is still warning, not yet advocating, as Phil Weiss inaccurately headlined. There is no "obituary for Oslo" as the two-state approach remains the only rational political definition as the communities hold radically different bases of self-identification and cannot bridge the animosity that is continually agitated for by far left, far right likud and hamas, and left/right.

When a civilist party (say that Burg proposed) realizes 30% in an election, you might be able to say that the national view is not the prevailing one.

3. Shatz describes his interpretation/observation of the Palestinian, Arab, Muslim world as unaccepting of Israel (not just of policies).

Although stated as observation, it is an observation of a chasm (but without a possible bridge), rather than any description of how to build a bridge.

Dan Kelso said...

The "land for peace" delusion is an extremely persistent delusion of Oslo Psychosis. The western powers tried "land for peace" when Hitler was offered Sudetenland. History shows the results of that "land for peace" deal. During the entire Cold War, the U.S. did not offer the Soviet Union land such as Florida, New York or Texas in return for peace. Why not? After 9/11, the U.S. did not offer Bin Laden a state such as California or Illinois in return for peace. Why not? Why do Israelis like Haber and Eldar keep buying into the "land for peace" delusion? Our leadership seems to be the only one in the world that actually believes such delusions. Every other country offers one deal...peace for peace.

pabelmont said...

"The western powers tried "land for peace" when Hitler was offered Sudetenland."

Perhaps Hamas is as strong as Hitler was in the 1930s and, in that case, it hardly matters to Israel whether they make a land-for-peace deal or not.

Most careful readers of the balance of powers, however, doubt (to put it mildly) that Hamas, or all the Palestinians together, are able to match or over-match Israel's military.

Kelso's remark about land-for-peace was just dumb.