Friday, August 3, 2012

Bring Back Beinart

Recently, Forward contributing editor Jay Michaelson wrote a long piece challenging the leftwing critics of Israel to reveal their endgame. According to Michaelson, Jewish Voice for Peace says that it is agnostic but the JVP folks he has talked to are for one state. And a one-state solution involves nothing less than the "cultural genocide" of Israel. "There is no way that a binational state will be a safe haven for the Jewish people or that it will preserve Jewish culture." Well, so much for those benighted fools like Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein, Martin Buber, Judah Magnes, and Rabbi Benjamin. To quote Michaelson, "NO WAAYYY".

May I respectfully suggest to Michaelson that he stick to issues he knows about in the LGBT community, instead of spouting Hasbara 101, the sort of stuff that intelligent rightwingers would never demean themselves by doing

Let me just take thirty seconds or so to answer his main assertions.

JVP hides its endgame, which is the one-state solution. No it doesn't, and no it isn't.  Had Michaelson bothered to google that organization (he doesn't bring a single reference, or link, to anything he asserts) he could see that they have a whole list of principles including, "Israelis and Palestinians have the right to security, sovereignty, and self-determination within political entities of their own choosing." Now what Michaelson should have least argued was that that's what they say, but you can't believe those "cafe leftists" (his offensive dig).  Instead he writes that the JVP people he has talked with are one-staters. So what? The organization includes one-staters, two-staters, no-staters, etc. I, for one, am not a one-stater. I am not at all agnostic on what I want for the endgame, which is that Israelis and Palestinians will have security, soveignty, and self-determination. On Michaelson's logic, if there are gay-right activists in an organization  who prefer Obama over Romney that commits the organization to being a front for the Democrats.

The one-state solution is "anti-Semitic"  because it means that "every people on the planet, from Peruvians to Pakistanis, deserves self-determination — except one. This is where anti-Zionism slides into anti-Semitism. Why are Jews to be treated differently from every other nation on the planet? Is Jewish nationhood more dubious than others?" In fact, there are many nations that don't have a state, including the Palestinian nation, which was repeatedly  promised a state, but whose territory is under the control of the "Jewish nation." I never knew that peoples have a right to a state at the expense of another people's, or on that people's territory. And, let's face it, shouldn't a liberal have problems with any nation-state who accepts new members into the nation on the basis of  religious conversion alone? 

Israel is singled out for moral opprobrium by the left. Oh, how I wish that  were true  -- the left, including the Arab left, has spent enormous time in the last year or so on something called the "Arab spring" and "Arab civil society," the Syrian civil war. And, darn it, the human rights organizations are always devoting most of their time and resources to other countries besides my own. But Michaelson bizarrely insists that the left -- including the Jewish and the Palestinian left -- are anti-Semitic unless they show more concern about the plight of the native Americans than about the fate of the Palestinians. But that is nonsense and offensive nonsense at that. Michaelson himself cares more about the plights of US gays than about the genocide of the Native Americans. Does he really think that gay rights in the US is more important  than the fate of the Roma in Europe? And if he does,  should he be suspected of bigotry toward the Roma for that? For that matter, does he think that leftwing criticism of Israel is a greater tragedy than the Chinese suppression of Tibetan rights? So why is he writing about Israel and not writing about Tibet? (For more on this ridiculous hasbara point see my essay here.)

Michaelson and I write on Israel because we are Jews and stakeholders. Palestinians and their allies are also stake-holders. If I arrange for a family member who has committed a crime to be arrested, am I to be criticized because I didn't tell the cops to go after more serious killers?  Should I have merely tried to solve the problem within the family? Written a letter to the editor? Flaunt my liberal creds?

I have a lot to disagree about with Peter Beinart, but at least Beinart makes arguments, cites sources, and takes his subject seriously. When I read stuff in Jewish media outlets like Michaelson's piece here, I am reminded of Maimonides' point about the illness that afflicts experts in a certain field who feel that they can make pronouncements in areas outside their expertise.  

Had he lived today Maimonides may have called it "contributing editor syndrome." 

 

 

35 comments:

John Goss said...

Makes you wonder how Michaelson became a professor when he can put his name to unsubstantiated facts. Is that what he tells his students? It's all right to make things up!

Richard Witty said...

The significance of the single state versus two state, revolves around the question of self-governance, self-determination.

There is no pre-defined right/wrong basis of self-governance, whether national or civil, or theocratic or civil.

There are states that are genuinely self-governing of all flavors, and all combinations.

The only question relative to a single state is whether there is a critical mass of consent to potentially preserve order, and a sense of justice.

To the BDS movement, the question of whether it advocates a clarification of self-governance, or an imposition of some revolutionary governance (that the majority of likely both Israelis and Palestinians) would consider external (other) governance, is a significant and relevant one.

Depending on how the question of constitution and identity is framed, it is possible that some civil cosmopolitan form might be more compelling to the population from river to sea.

But, both communities contain significant populations that are definitively nationalist (oil and water), along differing definitions even (among Palestinians - whether Palestinian or pan-Arab, among Israelis some national origin division).

Both communities contain messianic and/or expansionistic religious factions that are oil and water.

Depending on the zeal of the different parties, and the zeal of external supporters, it would take much more than a majority to realize a cosmopolitan civilist critical mass.

Even to achieve a peaceful two democratic national states, requires greatly increasing the degree that democracy and respect of the other play in the minds of a super-majority in the region.

I don't know if Jay was asking the questions in the way that you framed, or if you would be more satisfied with the way that Peter would set up the relevant questions (you might not be in fact).

There is another irony relative to the single state, that I find that proponents of it that originate in a Palestinian solidarity orientation ignore. That is that an open single state would allow Jewish settlement in all of the West Bank, and that the religious nationalist would take advantage of that and come relatively quickly to purchase and own the majority of the West Bank as well (maybe 60% of the West Bank acquired, and maybe 10% west of the Green line shifted to Palestinian ownership).

The feared realization of Judaization of the land, would occur in fact at a much faster rate than under occupation.

I believe that the path forward is to realize a two-state approach on the basis of the green line, consented by ratification (not by decree).

I think that the most important question is of whether progress towards any resolution is to be achieved primarily by pressure or by reconciliation.

That first determination affects the appropriate form of dissent, what form is moving forward in reality, versus conforming to prejudicial despair and/or greeds.

Eye on the prize.

Unknown said...

"I never knew that peoples have a right to a state at the expense of another people's, or on that people's territory."

This is a straw man, and a poor one at that. Michaelson is openly a supporter of the two state solution, so he clearly doesn't believe that Israel has a right to a state at the expense of the Palestinian. As to "that people's territory", I'm not sure if you mean the West Bank or Israel proper. If the former, my previous response shall do. If the latter, you clearly have no understanding of the principle of self-determination. The original Zionists may have had no right to immigrate to Palestine, but clearly 6 million people who were born within the country that there parents were born in have the right to self-determination. (The same applies to the descendants of the people who slaughtered the Natives Americans, and later immigrants, who themselves did no wrong.)

"Israel is singled out for moral opprobrium by the left."

Michaelson addresses your objection:

"Of course, Israel, unlike China, is the beneficiary of massive aid from the United States, so Americans may be right to focus on it. But the rhetoric one hears is not so subtle. As reflected in the recent public opinion poll that ranked Israel roughly equivalent to North Korea (a totalitarian regime with a network of concentration camps, widespread starvation and nuclear belligerence toward its neighbor), Israel is often depicted as the most oppressive country on Earth. Which is objectively absurd."

Criticism of Israel? Fine, especially from those who have reason to be concerned about Israel's actions. Equating Israel to the most totalitarian regime on Earth? Sure you must agree that that is evidence of something having gone terribly wrong.

And does including Beinart in the title somehow drive traffic to this website? Because Peter Beinart has nothing to do with this article. But I'll take your advice and end on the same note as you do: Beinart Beinart Maimonides Maimonides. Spinoza?

Jerry Haber said...

Unknown:

Michaelson doesn't say anything about the Palestinian right to self-determination in Palestine. He certainly doesn't say that Israel has no more right to self-determination than does Palestine.

In fact, there are many nations and ethnic groups without states, and there are many ethnic groups and nations that have self-determination without states. And I was surprised that he spent his time defending the Jewish nation's right to a state without saying anything about the Palestinian's nation right -- especially since the Jewish nation has done everything he could since 1948 to ensure that there would be no Palestinian state that would be in control of its own security -- and that includes the Geneva Initiative (which Israel rejected.)

By the way, the fact that he says that he supports a two-state solution means very little, since virtually no Israelis who say they support a two-state solution actually do. But that's another story.

I wrote explicitly in my post that I am for Israeli and Palestinian self-determination.

What a BBC World Opinion poll has to do with Michaelson's point about the Left is beyond me. And if you look at the poll, it is not at all exhaustive, and Israel comes out ahead of North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran, and right behind Russia. If you find that evidence of "anti-Semitism" you are deeply unaware of what Israel does to the Palestinians on a daily basis.

As for Beinart, the connection is clear in the last paragraph. Michaelson's piece is uninformed, poorly argued, and without any citations or evidence. His reference to a poll as nothing to do with the topic of his rant. In fact, this seems like something he just banged out without any knowledge of the subject.

That's why I wrote "Bring Back Beinart."

aliyah06 said...

@Jerry Haber--I'm Israeli, live in Israel, support the two state solution as do the majority of Israelis. You're clueless when you say "virtually no Israelis who say they support a two-state solution actually do." As for your throw-away verbal grenade, ""I never knew that peoples have a right to a state at the expense of another people's, or on that people's territory," Israel was founded on land where Jews were a demographic majority....and to the extent those bounderies have changed, they changed due to repeated Arab aggression. We don't want to rule Palestinians, and we don't want to keep spending money on tanks and missile defense systems instead of on hospitals and schools...however, like dancing, it takes two to make peace. The Palestinians appear to be happy with their status quo, blaming everything on the occupation and demanding that all issues up for negotiation be ceded first. Israel can't change that. Go talk to the Palestinians.

Jerry Haber said...

hi, aliyah06, I also live in Israel and write this to you from Jerusalem, Ir ha-Kodesh.

Do you support a two-state solution in which the Palestinian state has an army comparable to Tzahal? Or, if you put it the way I did, a state that has control over its security? If you say no, then you are not for a two-state solution. You are for a "one state -- one collection of bantustans (Sharon's word)" solution,They tried that in South Africa.

But thanks for conceding my point that most Israelis say they are for two-states...until they let you know what they think a Palestinian state will look like.

"Israel was founded in land where Jews were a demongraphic majority"-- duh, after the Zionists refused to let 3/4 of a million Palestinians return to their homes. By that reasoning, if the Arabs drove the Jews into the sea, then they could have founded Palestine where the Arabs had an Arab majority. You presumably would have found that justified, if you were ocnsistent.


Do me a favor and read this Shabbat Haaretz,where there is a list and map of settler violence against Palestinians including the slaughter of sheep -- over thirty-one reported incidents in July alone, none of which will be investigated by the Israeli army.

At a time when there is water shortage in Palestinian villages, water is being used for swimming pools in settlements. Palestinian land in Area C is being expropriated for settlements, Palestinians cannot move directly between their villages. Land is being taken by the IDF for training, etc., etc.

Do yourself a favor and read B'Tzelem's website. You are a tinok she-nishbeh when it comes to your awareness of the daily crimes against the Palestinian people. Please try to get deprogrammed from the Zionist indoctrination you had since birth. Maybe you can start by reading the US Dept of States Human Rights report, and then start reading the Israeli human rights NGOs.

And finally -- when you are ready to support a two state solution that divides the land and resources of Israael/Palestine fairly, and provides EQUAL security and protection for both sides, so that we can occupy them when they misbehave, and they can occupy us when we misbehave, let me know.

Until then, don't talk to be about any Israelis who support a two-state solution. They don't

Unknown said...

Anonymous back (call me Rand until I get a proper sign in here.)

"Michaelson doesn't say anything about the Palestinian right to self-determination in Palestine. He certainly doesn't say that Israel has no more right to self-determination than does Palestine."

He doesn't have to. He starts off by saying that he is to the left of the left on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that he engages in protests against Israel and that he supports even BDS affiliated protests against Israel's human rights abuses? Why do you refuse to recognize one of your own? (For the record: "Ani maamin [rotzeh might be more appropriate here] be-emunah sheleimah be-"a two state solution that divides the land and resources of Israael/Palestine fairly." I don't think we can give Palestine an army equal to Israel's [they cost money] but we can certainly threaten the strongest of international actions against Israel if it attempts to reassert control over Palestine. And your "virtually no Israelis who say they support a two-state solution actually do" is a crock. Netanyahu may believe in his 36 tendrils into a demilitarized West Bank plus control over the Jordan valley, but nobody in Labour does, nor do J-Street, Peace Now, etc.) Michaelson wasn't discussing the Palestinian's rights because it wasn't the focus of his article.

Re Israel being singled out: Of course it is. It has more far UN resolutions against it than any country. There is an *Israeli Apartheid Week*, and BDS activities throughout Europe. Israel faces far more opprobrium than any of the world's truly vicious dictatorships (except perhaps at the exact moment that hundreds of thousands of Syrians are fleeing Assad's crimes against humanity. Wonderful. And you're right, Halevai we should pretend Netanyahu is Assad.)

Good to know we're aligned (with Michaelson and Goldberg and Gorenberg and, since you insist, Beinart) on the two-states for two peoples bit. However, as I'm sure you're aware, plenty of people aren't and those are the people Michaelson is criticizing. (I'm sure you've seen Norman Finkelstein's famous "you're doing it wrong!" interview.) Do you disagree with the substance of the actual criticism?

Not that it's that relevant but: "As for Beinart, the connection is clear in the last paragraph." No, it's not! Is Beinart the only other guy you read? Have you every read Haaretz, Foreign Policy, the Atlantic, the New York Times, or any of the 200 Jewish Israel-focused blogs? How has Beinart become "the only other guy in existence?"

Jerry Haber said...

Rand,

I wrote a long response and I lost it. Here is it in brief.

I. A two-state solution can only work if there is parity between the states.

A. There can be no Palestinian state without a Palestinian military to defend it. Any such entity would not be a state. Please read by post on the Case Against Non-Militarization. FWIW, I am a veteran of the IDF and the parents of four veterans, two of them officiers.

B. There can be no Palestinian state without a fairer division of territory and resources between Jews and Arabs.

C. All Israeli and liberal Zionist offers so far have been woefully, laughably, inadequate.

D. The good news is that Israel governments killed the two-state solution long ago, from Barak through Bibi.

E. The only value of talking about the two-state solutions is to allow liberal Zionists with some guilty conscience to sleep better at night.

F. Ask yourself whether any Zionist would have accepted a Jewish state which was a) demilitarized, b) discontinuous, c) had an unfair distribution of sources, and d) had an irridentist neighbor with one of the most powerful militaries in the region. Ah, and it's security would be "guaranteed" by the threats of -- oy vey!- international sanctions!

G. If you think Israelis have greater threats to their security than do Palestinians, I invite you to be a Palestinian living in Area
C. You read Haaretz. Read today's editorial about how the Palestinians in Area C live without any rights or protection. Then read today about how Israel has stolen thousands of acres of Waqf land. Where is the (ineffectual) UN.

H. By the way, there were worst things going on in the world in the 1980s besides apartheid. Had you lived in South Africa, would you have said to the world, "Why are you incessantly harping on us? Shouldn't you be paying attention to other tragedies that are far worse?"

Jerry Haber said...

Rand,

I wrote a long response and I lost it. Here is it in brief.

I. A two-state solution can only work if there is parity between the states.

A. There can be no Palestinian state without a Palestinian military to defend it. Any such entity would not be a state. Please read my post on the Case Against Non-Militarization. (FWIW, I am a veteran of the IDF and the parents of four veterans, two of them officers.)

B. There can be no Palestinian state without a fairer division of territory and resources between Jews and Arabs than proposed by Israel.

C. All Israeli and liberal Zionist offers so far have been woefully, laughably, inadequate.

D. The good news is that Israel governments killed the two-state solution long ago, from Barak through Bibi.

E. The only value I can see of talking about the two-state solutions is to allow liberal Zionists with some guilty conscience to sleep better at night.

F. Ask yourself whether any Zionist would have accepted a Jewish state which was a) demilitarized, b) discontinuous, c) had an unfair distribution of sources, and d) had an irridentist neighbor with one of the most powerful militaries in the region. Ah, and its security would be "guaranteed" by the threats of -- oy vey!- international sanctions!

G. If you think Israelis have greater threats to their security than do Palestinians, I invite you to be a Palestinian living in Area
C. You read Haaretz. Read today's editorial about how the Palestinians in Area C live without rights or protection. Then read Akiva Eldar today about how Israel has stolen thousands of acres of Waqf land. Where is the (ineffectual) UN in all this?

H. By the way, there were worst things going on in the world in the 1980s besides apartheid. Had you lived in South Africa, would you have said to the world, "Why are you incessantly harping on us? Shouldn't you be paying attention to other tragedies that are far worse?"

Sorry for the snarkiness. A lot of this may sound harsh and unfamiliar to you, especially since I don't consider myself a leftwing at all. I am an orthodox Jew, a fairly conservative fellow, a moderate democrat. JVP is not my natural turf. But after taking around 10 years to deprogram myself from the Zionist myths and indoctrination that I received, and after realizing how wrong the Zionist project was after Ben-Gurion got a hold of it, I can only say, "What's the only way out of the mess that Jews and Arabs have found themselves in for the last three generations."

And my answer is to go back to the basics of my American heritage -- the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I will not support any political solution that is not guided by principles of justice and fairness.

Richard Witty said...

It is harsh and snarky, and therefore almost entirely unproductive.

The two state is the most democratic format of any viable options currently. The single state is less democratic, as a lower percentage of those polled currently, describe that as a form of "self"-governance, the definition of democracy (consent of the governed).

It is possible to emphasize equal rights in both Israel and Palestine. Its necessary to in EVERY national entity, the tension between nationalism and equal rights.

If given up on, then that is what occurs.

Lewis said...

As a US citizen, I have to be sure the power of my country is not being used to oppress others, and that includes Israeli citizens. From that point of view, criticizing North Korea holds no value at all, but Israel, the recipient of 70 million dollars in weaponry, alongside enormous diplomatic support, must face the music.



He's also strangely making political statements (continue occupying West Bank) in the name of the security of Israelis, but refuses to allow a political statement (Israel is a illegitimate state) to influence the security of Palestinians. An illegitimate state as we know is expected to make political concessions, or face violent action. Whatever the horrible consequences of that are, and as far as I know they are so far only imaginary, they are not contradictory to his ethics.

From here, I can dismiss most of his complaints except the "armchair activists." So from my armchair, I'll see what I can rebut. His rhetoric is irresponsible, and his reading of human nature and basic logic are awful. The word "genocide" and "anti-Semitism" certainly brings up the Holocaust as a warning. He has not proven that this is the endgame (a clever morphing on his part of the Nazi "Final Solution.)

So from here, let's forget his sophistry, and address the principles. The problem with the whole debate is the premise that Israeli independence exists.
But I also take issue with the concept of legitimacy. This isn't just something people made up out of thin air, under Reagan, Israel's refusal to withdraw prevented international representatives from reconciling the two sides. But even within Jewish and Zionist sources, there are examples of cultural destruction, and I'm talking about the Jewish conception of cultural destruction, not the European nation-state one. When people do bad things, the land vomits them out, and they are subdued by an empire. That's cultural destruction that is actually considered unavoidable once a people has sinned enough. The problem is, going back to Herzl, you find Zionist philosophy gleefully accepting Israeli dependence on European powers for trade, to convince the Europeans to let them have a state.

AIG said...

I. A two-state solution can only work if there is parity between the states.

And why is that? The US is much stronger than Mexico or Canada and lives in peace with them.

A. There can be no Palestinian state without a Palestinian military to defend it. Any such entity would not be a state. Please read by post on the Case Against Non-Militarization. FWIW, I am a veteran of the IDF and the parents of four veterans, two of them officiers.

Again, why? Luxemborg has no military to speak of. Is it not a perfectly good state?

B. There can be no Palestinian state without a fairer division of territory and resources between Jews and Arabs.

Why? Just because you don’t like this, it doesn’t mean it can’t be.

C. All Israeli and liberal Zionist offers so far have been woefully, laughably, inadequate.

Not only that, the offers will get worse in the future. The Palestinians rejected the UN partition plan because it was “woefully, laughably, inadequate”. And look where it got them. It seems that you insist that they continue making the same mistake. It is ok, eventually the Palestinians will come around.

D. The good news is that Israel governments killed the two-state solution long ago, from Barak through Bibi.

If you say so.

E. The only value of talking about the two-state solutions is to allow liberal Zionists with some guilty conscience to sleep better at night.

You forget that a large part of the Palestinian people support the two state solution also.

F. Ask yourself whether any Zionist would have accepted a Jewish state which was a) demilitarized, b) discontinuous, c) had an unfair distribution of sources, and d) had an irridentist neighbor with one of the most powerful militaries in the region. Ah, and it's security would be "guaranteed" by the threats of -- oy vey!- international sanctions!

How is this a relevant question? The obvious answer is of course not. But why should the winners of the war accept the same conditions as the losers? There is no symmetry. The only thing protecting Canada and Mexico from American invasions is the goodwill of the US and that will be the same thing protecting the Palestinian state. Just as Canada and Mexico trust the US, so will the Palestinians have to trust the US and Israel.


G. If you think Israelis have greater threats to their security than do Palestinians, I invite you to be a Palestinian living in Area

Again irrelevant. A country is responsible for the welfare of its citizens. Much lesser so for the welfare of non-citizens.

C. You read Haaretz. Read today's editorial about how the Palestinians in Area C live without any rights or protection. Then read today about how Israel has stolen thousands of acres of Waqf land. Where is the (ineffectual) UN

Exactly. The UN is ineffectual. It is up to the Palestinians to negotiate with Israel to reach a solution. Anything else is futile. And to imagine that the solution will not reflect the power divide is naïve.

AIG said...

H. By the way, there were worst things going on in the world in the 1980s besides apartheid. Had you lived in South Africa, would you have said to the world, "Why are you incessantly harping on us? Shouldn't you be paying attention to other tragedies that are far worse?"

When Amnesty International investigates and writes about all countries and criticizes Israel, that is not irregular. When the only country in the world that British universities consider boycotting is Israel, that is fishy. So again, your question is irrelevant. We are not saying that two wrongs make a right. We are asking why the double standards? Israel has made many mistakes and is far from perfect. But so have many countries. Is anyone saying that the US and Mexico should be one country in order to solve Mexico’s problems and to compensate Mexico for the land taken by the US? No one even contemplates such a solution. But in the case of Israel, you contemplate the most radical solution and think it is “fair”. There is not going to be a “fair” solution or a “just” solution in the Palestinian case just as there never is in international conflicts.

Jerry Haber said...

AIG

"A two-state solution can only work if there is parity between the states."

And why is that? The US is much stronger than Mexico or Canada and lives in peace with them.

By "parity" I don't mean one state can never be more powerful than other. A militarily and economically strong Palestine alongside a militarily and economically strong Israel is fine with me. I am sure you won't mind if Palestine dominates Israel, as the US dominates Mexico. But in any event, you missed my point entirely. I wasn't talking about any two states. I was talking about a two-state solution to the century old Israel/Palestinian conflict. Which is why the Mexico/US analogy is irrelevant.

I usually phrase this as the maximum amount of security and liberty for both peoples.

Now if you ask why that is so important, why can't Israel simply dictate the terms of surrender, I remind you of Versailles and Germany. Not exactly the best model, is it? Especially since the Palestinians have been hanging on to their own land.

Jerry Haber said...

AIG

Luxembourg is an appropriate model. Its lands were invaded by foreign settlers; its people were driven off their land and stayed in refugee camps; it has seen its lands and resouces taken by the settlers and their children for over sixty years, and for the fast forty some years, the 23% left of its territory has been controlled by the settlers, many of whom claim it as their own land.

But, still, Luxemborg is an excellent model...for Israel. In the meantime, the Palestinians need security.

I agree with you that the offers will get worse in the future. Thank God. The Palestinians will only get stronger. In 1967 the world rallied around Israel. Nowadays it has one of the world's worst reps in the opinion polls. As long as the Palestinians demand what is fair, Israel will continue to dig its own grave -- as an ethnic exclusivist state. Whatever regime comes after Israel will be, inshallah, better for both Jews and Arabs. AS that dreamer Herzl said, if you will it, it's no fantasy.

Jerry Haber said...

"A majority of Palestinians favor a two-state solution."

That's not true. In June 2012 49% are in favor 49% are opposed. The number goes down consistently over time.

It is true that the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza are more in favor of a two-state solution than a one-state solution in which Jews and Arabs are equal (39%). But they also don't believe that a two-state solution is possible. But what they really want is for Israel to withdraw to the 67 border lines.

And, of course, this poll doesn't take into account the Palestinian refugees.


http://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_31486-1522-2-30.pdf?12071115285

Jerry Haber said...

G. "If you think Israelis have greater threats to their security than do Palestinians, I invite you to be a Palestinian living in Area "

Again irrelevant. A country is responsible for the welfare of its citizens. Much lesser so for the welfare of non-citizens.

I am not sure what relevance this has to my comment at all. I was arguing for the importance of a Palestinian defense force.

But in any event, you seem to be a newbie to this issue, so you may want to read the Fourth Geneva Convention to see what responsibilities an occupying power has for the welfare and security of the occupied peoples.

True, the US had a greater responsibility for the welfare of its citizens than, say, for Black slaves who lacked citizenship. I am not saying that the Palestinians are slaves. But the analogy is of an entire population who is at the mercy of the dominant population because they have not even in principle equal rights. That, my friend, is apartheid, albeit on ethnic rather than on racial grounds.

It's really extraordinary that you consider the Palestinians in the West Bank akin to non-citizens who have voluntarily chosen to live in a country in which they don't have citizenship. Surely you must get the difference. Would you like to be living under a foreign occupation for generations, unprotected by the occupying power.

And now the Justice Ministry has issued an order saying that Palestinians and foreign workers lacking a passport cannot appeal to the Israel courts if they think that the Israeli army violated their rights or property. Can you give me another country which does that?

Jerry Haber said...

A final word about "fairness."

Life isn't fair. There can be good compromises and bad compromises. Whatever the Palestinians are offered will include a huge compromise.

But there are also rotten compromises. The Munich Pact was a rotten compromise. It preserved peace (temporarily) by sacrificing Czechoslovakia.

If people feel that the compromise is rotten, that's a prescription for irridentism, terrorism, and trouble down the road.

Again, take South Africa. The white minority offered many compromises to the blacks, including limited self-rule, bantustans with their own flag and stamps, etc. From their perspective, the blacks were better of taking what was offered to them. That's your perspective. The Palestinian leadership has offered a lot -- perhaps too much -- of a compromise. Israel, in a position of power, thinks it can get a better deal. Not getting a deal will hurt Israel more than the Palestinians, because getting a deal means that the Palestinians will have to agree to a rotten compromise.

So better to wait.

Jerry Haber said...

If you knew more about the British University boycotts, you know that it is done mostly at the instigation of the Palestinians. The Palestinians and their friends have one standard, and that is what interests them both.

You would be correct if the people behind the boycotts were uninterested in the fate of Palestine and Israel. But just as Jews marshal support for Israel, Palestinians marshal support for Palestine. Why don't Jews marshal support for countries worse off than Israel? Are they operating with a double standard?

I have written about these topics often. I invite you to look at some of my posts, especially "Singling Out Israel for Moral Opprobrium"

Best
Jerry

Donald said...

I'm a member of JVP, (though not Jewish and not very active either) and I could support a one state or two state solution. Finkelstein is right that a 2SS has the advantage of being supported by international law, which ought to make it the more realistic choice, but right now neither seems likely.

I'm American and have never been to Israel so I don't know for sure what 2SS supporters are like over there (except for what I see in blog comment sections), but from what one can tell here it's mostly lip service. Finkelstein is a serious 2SS supporter and so is Beinart. For American 2SS'ers it's often just lip service--you say you support the 2SS and with that out of the way, you then proceed to put most of the blame for the current situation on Arab intransigence. Or at best you sigh about the situation and then move on to the far more important business of defining exactly what degree of criticism of Israel is allowed before it becomes anti-semitism--usually the boundary line falls somewhere around the point where Israeli actions are equated to those of Hamas. Can't have Israel compared to those awful Arab terrorists, you know.

AIG said...

Jerry,
It would be nice if you quoted me correctly.
You quote me as saying:
"A majority of Palestinians favor a two-state solution."
When in fact I wrote:
“You forget that a large part of the Palestinian people support the two state solution also.”

I probably ought to thank you for then going ahead and proving my point. The two state solution is not only something Jews support. It has wide support among Palestinians also.

“I agree with you that the offers will get worse in the future. Thank God. The Palestinians will only get stronger. In 1967 the world rallied around Israel. Nowadays it has one of the world's worst reps in the opinion polls. As long as the Palestinians demand what is fair, Israel will continue to dig its own grave -- as an ethnic exclusivist state. Whatever regime comes after Israel will be, inshallah, better for both Jews and Arabs. AS that dreamer Herzl said, if you will it, it's no fantasy.”

The problem with your logic is that the settlers are saying the same thing: If you will it, it is no fantasy. And the facts on the ground are simple. A large part of the Palestinian people lives in refugee camps in and out of Palestine. A large part of the Palestinian people is living in Gaza under a theocratic regime. The Palestinians are not united and are dependent on handouts from the international community. So yes, if you will it… You are making the exact same mistake many Arab intellectuals made in not willing to come to terms with Israel. Their mantra for over 60 years has been that Israel is a house of cards about to fall. So you put your trust in opinion polls, not the fact that last week the EU upgraded its relations with Israel:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/23/israel-eu?newsfeed=true
or that the US and Israel have never been closer. The facts point to a completely different conclusion in my opinion. Sometimes “if you will it…” provides encouragement, but often it just peddles false hopes. Ask our Olympic athletes. Their problem is not will power.

Nothing I write will convince you of course, our judgments of the future are starkly different. But in the end it is really the Palestinian’s call. If they want to wait until they get a “fair” deal, tfadal.

AIG said...

Jerry,

So what if the UK boycotts are instigated by Palestinians? I have no problem with the Palestinian instigation, that is quite normal as you say and I expect the Palestinians to do so. I have a problem with the UK universities’ response. The response should be that the UK university system needs to decide on a general set of principles according to which it boycotts other countries and it should not deal with Israel on an ad-hoc basis but apply boycotts to all countries that fail some standard. If Israel fails this standard, so be it. I would have nothing against a boycott then.

AIG said...

Jerry,

“But in any event, you seem to be a newbie to this issue, so you may want to read the Fourth Geneva Convention to see what responsibilities an occupying power has for the welfare and security of the occupied peoples.”

Since we both agree that the UN is ineffectual, why bother mentioning international law anyway? I think international law is a useless concept and hold no value in it.

And no, Israel does not exist because of international law; it exists because the Yishuv won the war of independence. If we would have lost, no UN resolutions would have helped us, just as they didn’t help the Palestinians.

“And now the Justice Ministry has issued an order saying that Palestinians and foreign workers lacking a passport cannot appeal to the Israel courts if they think that the Israeli army violated their rights or property. Can you give me another country which does that?”

I can give you many countries in which going to court is a waste of time. But again, I ask, why is this question even relevant? Israel is responsible for its citizens, much less so for non-citizens be they occupied or not and citing international law will not convince me otherwise because I do not view international law as any authority. You don’t like this new order, fine. Challenge this in the Israeli Supreme Court. That is the law I respect. I will accept whatever they rule.

Donald said...

This might makes right attitude of AIG--is that prevalent in Israel and if so, is this a new thing?

Jerry Haber said...

AIG,

Before we agree to disagree, some points.

I have no problem with the two-state solution; the Palestinians have no problem with the two-state solution. The problem is that the Palestinian "state" you are referring to has been rejected by the Palestinians. The Palestinian "state" that will emerge will not have the independence that Luxembourg has. It will not have control over security that Luxemburg has, it will not even be able to enter military pacts that states with small forces have. It will not have control over its natural resources or its borders or its airspace.

So your saying that many Palestinians (sorry for misquoting you) are in favor of two-states is absolutely irrelevant because you and they are not talking about the same state.

Now I guess you are willing to concede that. You basically say, like most Israel supporters, look -- the Palestinians can't get what they want, they can't even get near that. Better they should take what they can get before it's too late.

You may be right that Israel can hack it for a long time. It is an economic and military power, and in our world, that counts for a lot. China has successfully stopped Tibet nationalism. Look how long the Soviet Union was able to hold out.


What Israel and its supporters can only hope for is the ability to distract the world from the Palestinians and scare the world with the threat-to-world-peace of the month.

In fact, it may be possible that Israel will welcome the inevitable attacks against its citizens, its universal conscription, the militarism of its society, its rampant political corruption as a price to pay for being in a rough neighborhood. It will convince its citizens that they live in a great place while telling them that they are always living under an existential threat. The country will be run by a cartel of a few families, and the economic disparity between rich and poor will be among the largest in the world. Its human rights record will be much criticized, but the EU will forget about that.

In the meantime, not all the Palestinians will live in camps. Many of them will have migrated to the West, where the second and third generation will have mainstream American voices who can articulate their cause well. Memories of the 67 war and the Holocaust will fade. European guilt for the Holocaust will also fade. Radical Islam will help, but Israel may not always be able to count on Muslim anti-Semitism.

Look, I am an orthodox Jew, and I believe that the world is such that some measure of justice will triumph in the end. You may simply want to argue that might makes right, that international law doesn't matter, that what matters is power. You and I have lived through the collapse of empires, including the Soviet Union. No regime can rule over millions against their will for a long time.

Even ones with upgraded relations with the EU.

By the way, it's for the Palestinian people to decide what they want to do, not you or me.

Finally, there is no British university boycott of Israeli institutions. There are various organizations that have taken various stands on boycott.

As for the double standard charge, read the post I referred you to.

AIG said...

Jerry,
I am a secular Jew and I will only believe in justice when I see the 1.5 million Jewish kids murdered in the shoa brought back to life. I will only believe in justice when you explain to me why your God created the HIV virus or didn’t tell humans about antibiotics in the bible.

Israel is a great place to live. Sure, we have many problems and you can nitpick. But just look at the UN human development reports. Israel is ranked above many European countries. Incidentally, inequality in Israel is high relative to the OECD countries, not relative to the world.

I was in the IDF (10 years) as were you and your kids. What is wrong with universal conscription? I believe the US would be a better place if they had universal conscription there. My hunch is that if you really believed in the “doom and gloom” you would not be in Israel.

Nothing lasts forever, but Israel will be around for a very long time. If you think that the Palestinians should put their future on hold till then, what can I say. You prefer to focus on the relatively few Palestinians in the US instead of the large number in refugee camps. Your view it seems is that they should stay there a couple of more generations. That thinking has not worked well for the Palestinians in the last 60+ years. Doubling down usually leads to bankruptcy. Better to take what you can and build from there.

As for the British universities, it was just an example of ad-hoc treatment of Israel instead of applying similar criteria to all countries. I searched quite thoroughly and couldn’t find a discussion about boycotting any other country apart from Israel in the UK. Whether the boycotts were approved or not is not relevant.

Unknown said...

Rand again,

Sorry I didn't have time to respond in full earlier. I'll touch upon a few of your points:

"Ah, and it's security would be "guaranteed" by the threats of -- oy vey!- international sanctions!"

I'll be generous here and assume you misread "the strongest of international actions" and "international sanctions". That's not what I said though. I said actions. Actions equivalent to the response to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, if necessary. Invading foreign countries isn't acceptable, and any final status agreement should make it very clear to Israel that this applies to them as well.

You go on quite a bit about demilitarized and discontinuous. Here I find it hard to be generous, because I explicitly rejected both (barring the Gaza-West Bank split, which is a geographical fact, and Israel can attempt to link, but simply cannot properly join.) To quote myself, "Netanyahu may believe in his 36 tendrils into a demilitarized West Bank plus control over the Jordan valley, but nobody in Labour does, nor do J-Street, Peace Now, etc." So complete bunk.

I'm not sure what you attempt to gain here by insisting on equal militaries and a "fairer" division of territory and resources. We know that nobody has an Israeli size military to give the Palestinians, and nobody is obligated to do so. As for the territory and resources, I would hope that you believe in the principle of self determination. That (basically population) will basically cover the distribution and land and resources.

Are these just your own version of the arbitrary demands that Israeli's and Palestinians issue when they have no interest in negotiating?

"If you think Israelis have greater threats to their security than do Palestinians..." I don't. Care to debunk my belief in unicorns now? Try to address the person who is talking to you, not some caricature of "the opposition".

'Had you lived in South Africa, would you have said to the world, "Why are you incessantly harping on us?"'

No, and I don't say that on Israel's behalf now. (In fact, I am among the many doing the harping.) But there were reasons people were focusing on South Africa and reasons that people focus on Israel (largely the potential to make a difference). Michaelson is offering ant-Semitism as a contributing factor. I think he's right, though I'm not sure to what extent. But praiseworthy is the man who does not join the company of bigots - even if they happen to be protesting Apartheid (by the minority group of your choice) that day.

fiddler0 said...

Rand, your last sentence not only makes no sense, but effectively cedes all non-bigots' decision-making to the bigots. If Adolf Hitler himself had said that 1+1=2 (as I imagine he'd have), that wouldn't make it 3, and I resent that you'd put me in his "company" for saying "2".
Sure, there are anti-Semites who criticise Israel. That doesn't mean those of us who are not anti-Semites and criticise Israel have therefore joined their company. The relation is not correlation but contingency.

Rand said...

Fiddler, sometimes "join the company" actual means "join the company" - not merely espouse the same position. That is (obviously) the sense I intended.

Ergo, protest Israel's actions, but do not protest them at neo-Nazi rallies. You do not want to support neo-Nazis, they are not good people.

(And a word from the wise: Do not begin criticisms of a position with "your last sentence not only makes no sense but is wrong due to X, Y and Z." If the sentence was incomprehensible, you wouldn't have any means to criticize it and if you claim the colloquial usage of "it is wrong", you are in effect saying "your last sentence not only is wrong but is wrong due to X, Y and Z." That's redundant, and it makes you sound silly.)

Rand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donald said...

"As for the territory and resources, I would hope that you believe in the principle of self determination. That (basically population) will basically cover the distribution and land and resources. "

How is that? If you went by who has the land, Israel has control of most of it because they're stronger. If you go by population, the land should be split roughly evenly at this point.

sylvia4444 said...

The honest response to Michaelson would have been for you to clarify the goals of the one-state solution. What do you expect the outcome to be? Jews leaving in droves? Where to? Jews living peacefully with Palestinians "side by side in a secular state based on equal rights and the rule of law"? Democratic state? Undemocratic state?

That (supported) clarification is in my opinion, what he is asking.
But no one - among the most committed one-staters - is prepared to take up the challenge. Why not, is what is disturbing.

Rand said...

Donald: You've basically got it. The principle of self-determination is basically that a population of any given given territory has the right to govern themselves.

Where? Within the territory they live in, of course. Now, of course, just like in Kosovo you couldn't perfectly divide the Albanians from the Serbs, you can't perfectly divide the Israelis and the Palestinians, but using broad strokes you get something like the current West Bank and Gaza being Palestinian, and the recognized state of Israel being Israeli.

I think that reflects both international law and the consensus. I haven't quite sussed out yet what Mr. Haber prefers as a "fairer division of territory and resources", or upon what principles he seeks to base it.

Donald said...

I think international law probably does support a 2SS along the 67 borders (not that I am an expert). But I think Jerry is right that this is unfair to the Palestinians, because those 67 borders are the result of a long process of conquest and theft.

I agree to some degree with both Finkelstein on the one hand (that pragmatism dictates going along with international law) and Jerry on the other (that fairness would mean a more even division of resources, if there is to be a 2SS).

RIght now it's sort of academic, as no solution appears achievable.

Donald

Unknown said...

If we are to accept Michaelson's logic, could it also be said that the 1SS is anti-Palestinian since it would require Palestinians to share their state with non-Palestinians and thus weaken their capacity for self-determination?