These are hard times to be a supporter of Israel. Bibi Netanyahu is a lunatic who is now actively trying to mess with the American election. You see, President Obama, early in his term, politely suggested that if Israel seriously wants to make peace with its neighbors they might want to consider not expanding settlements in the West Bank. For this transgression, Netanyahu, and his lackeys on the American Right, have decided that Obama is morbidly anti-Israel. Their relentless vitriol has convinced some of the dimmer segments of the American Jewish population that they should vote for Romney. Charming.

There are two main advocacy groups for Israel in the United States, and I am not too impressed with either one of them. On one side you have AIPAC, which basically argues that Israel can do no wrong. Moreover, if you suggest that Israel has, indeed, done wrong, they will find a way to accuse you of antisemitism. The most recent example is the response to this column from Maureen Dowd. Dowd made the entirely commonplace and correct observation that Republican foreign policy is being dictated by fanatical, neocon zealots. Andrew Sullivan rounds up the predictable, and vile, responses. Since I am about to bash Sullivan for a colossally stupid thing he wrote elsewhere, let me mention that I agree with everything he says in this particular post.

On the other side is J-Street. When they point out that it is clear from his actions that Netanyahu has no interest at all in supporting the creation of a Palestinian state, and that he is actively undermining the more moderate forces on the Palestinian side, I am with them. When they argue he is the worst thing to happen to Israel, pretty much ever, I am with them again. The problem is that all too often this is not enough for them. They sometimes feel the need to retell the entire history of the region as one of relentless Jewish aggression against their poor, put-upon Arab neighbors. A classic example is this paragraph from Andrew Sullivan:

There is no just war theory on earth that can justify a pre-emptive strike against nuclear facilities which have not been used to produce a weapon in a country whose Supreme Leader has explicitly called a “sin” to deploy.

As for a radical regime in terms of international relations, which country in the Middle East has launched more wars than any other since its creation, has occupied territory it has then sought to ethnically re-balance, has killed civilians outside its borders in the thousands, has developed a nuclear capacity outside of international non-proliferation treaties, has physically attacked both Iraq and Syria to destroy their nuclear programs, and is now threatening war against Iran, a war that could convulse the entire world into a new clash of civilizations?

On Planet Sullivan there was no context for anything on that little list of particulars. Israel has, apparently, always been a radical regime.

Sure, they have occupied territory. But that was territory which, prior to the occupation, was used relentlessly as a staging ground for one Arab war after another. Yes, Israel has launched wars. But only in response to extraordinary provocations like rocket fire, suicide bombing and relentless terrorism, and always showing far more restraint than any of their despotic neighbors, who devise far more draconian responses to far lesser provocations. Yes, they have pursued a nuclear capability. But that is because they face actual threats to their existence and need those weapons to ensure their survival. Sure, they have launched preemptive strikes against the nuclear ambitions of their neighbors, but the attacks on Iraq ans Syria were textbook examples of when preemption is justified, and the Syrian attack specifically was not even condemned by any of the surrounding Arab countries.

For me, the generally negative response to the Gaza War a few years back made clear to me that I cannot align myself with the J-Street crowd. The spectacle of arrogant bloggers sitting in perfect safety on the other side of the world, calmly lecturing Israel about how they must simply tolerate relentless rocket fire landing in their cities, was a bit much for me to take. I take a simple view of such things. When your neighbor has declared war on you, and fires rocket after rocket into your cities desperately trying to kill as many civilians as possible, then you have carte blanche to do whatever you need to do to make it stop. If that’s not part of your just-war theory (for heaven’s sake), then your theory is wrong. Israel’s critics took great delight in accusing them of heinous war crimes in that conflict. The most serious of those charges, unsurprisingly, turned out to be total nonsense.

There is a middle-ground between Israel can do no wrong and Israel can do no right, but at the moment I don’t see any significant group of people defending that ground. Israel has become radicalized, but only after decades of hatred and intransigence from their neighbors. Netanyahu is an impediment to peace, but as recently as 2000 Israel was offering extraordinary concessions that would have led to a two-state solution, but instead were met with renewed violence for their troubles. An attack on Iran is a ludicrous idea, but Netanyahu did not hallucinate the threat that Iran presents.

The basic facts have not changed. On its worst day Israel remains a lonely bastion of civilization surrounded by tyrannical regimes sworn to its destruction. You don’t get to start one war against them after another, promote endless terrorism, and encourage a culture in which the sickest anti-Semitic stereotypes are happily believed by large segments of your population, and then act aggrieved when they sometimes overreact in response.

A final note. Comments on posts about Israel tend to get a bit heated. For that reason I will be policing them more strictly than I usually do. Criticize me all you want, but no profanity, and nothing that is even remotely antisemitic, will be tolerated. I am the sole judge of what constitutes an acceptable comment, and my verdict is final.

Comments

  1. #1 Bilbo
    bilbos1.blogspot.com
    September 17, 2012

    Jason,

    I’m pretty much in agreement with everything you said here. Maybe there’s a glint of hope:

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/islam-is-more-than-ready-for-peace-with-israel-says-rabbi-who-has-met-with-the-whole-strata-of-radicals/

  2. #2 Sancho
    September 17, 2012

    That’s a great post, and for the most part sums up the way a lot of liberals regard Israel yet get accused of crass anti-Semitism.

    One factor that I think gets ignored too often, however, is the profound and unthinking historical entitlement that surrounds discussion of Israel.

    It’s a nation that was simply invented by the post-war powers and dropped into the middle of the region, then lavishly funded and armed from outside.

    The justification for this is invariably that it was Jewish land thousands of years ago – a line of reasoning no conservative would countenance as an argument for establishing an indigenous nation in a settled territory – and that we should simply ignore this imposition on the Arabs and regard their objections as churlish.

    Israel DOES exist, and its neighbours will need to accommodate that, but it doesn’t help to treat any discussion of the Jewish right to resume tenancy as virulent anti-Semitism.

  3. #3 Wow
    September 18, 2012

    Sancho, a palestinian and jewish state was offered but refused by the arab nations.

    That’s right: the arab nations didn’t let the palestinians have a say, because it was “their land”.

    If Israel was removed, the Palestinians wouldn’t get a homeland. The other arab nations don’t want it.

    What OUGHT to be done is revisit this idea: lets get a palestinian state set up. Jerusalem could be set up like Berlin was as a sort of right of way for all members, but a separate state for each. Heck, the palestinians could have the Golan Heights and the land beyond, killing two birds with one stone as it were.

    Even though it won’t work, it’d show up the hypocrisy of the arab support of palestinians.

  4. #4 MNb
    September 18, 2012

    Netanyahu is not crazy at all. He knows what about everybody outside the USA knows: that Obama will win. So he knows he won’t get his preemptive war, the kind JR is so fond of, against Iran. Bibi has already begun a game of Black Pete, as we Dutch say, exposing Obama as a softie. He is playing hardball for his own supporters. It’s a game he can’t lose. In the unlikely case that Romney will win the first thing that will happen is increasing Israeli pressure.

  5. #5 MNb
    September 18, 2012

    “then you have carte blanche to do whatever you need to do to make it stop.”
    According to JR that apparently includes deliberately killing innocent children. Great.
    What’s more, the rocket launching hasn’t stopped, so JR implicitely admits that Israel lost the war. That’s greater.
    Finally JR might check how many Palestinian victims Israel has made last few decades and how many Israeli’s died. That’s greatest.
    Should we conclude that according to JR an Israeli life has more value than a Palestinian one?
    Given the selective presentation of the facts I do conclude that JR is much closer to AIPAC than to J-Street.

  6. #6 MNb
    September 18, 2012

    “surrounded by tyrannical regimes”

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&t=h&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=204401305100193944749.0004bd6c370c083cb7145

    Interesting. Just look on this map of Iran and all the American bases surrounding it: Also check how many wars Iran has begun last 75 years: exactly zero. So to avoid double standards I assume JR will welcome Iranian nuclear weapons. Somehow I doubt it.

    Disclaimer: whenever Israel is at war with some neighbour I root for Israel, for the simple fact that I despise the surrounding regimes even more.

    @Wow: the Palestinian state already exists de facto (look up the difference with de jure for yourself). There are two, to be precise, one on the West Bank ruled by El Fatah and one in Gaza, ruled by Hamas. Your analysis of Arab states not allowing this is outdated with three or four decades.

  7. #7 MNb
    September 18, 2012

    Finally I begin to doubt if Israel is worth rooting for. The differences with the surrounding states are becoming less and less. Read how it treats its own loyal citizens:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negev_Bedouin#Attitude_towards_Israel

    Israel isn’t a rechtsstaat anymore. Forget about that

    “a lonely bastion of civilization”

    It was a while in the past, thought it didn’t start that way of course, given the ethnic cleansing.
    The project Israel has failed. The many young Israeli’s who leave the country every year also know it.

  8. #8 bobh
    September 18, 2012

    Jason,

    I take a simple view of things too. When Israel turns Gaza into the Warsaw ghetto then I’m not surprised that residents in Gaza are angry and some of them shoot rockets at Israel.

    The U.S has done Israel no favors by tacitly supporting thier behavior with respect to Gaza and the West Bank. Sometimse the only way to deal with a spoiled child is to turn off the money flow.

  9. #9 Wow
    September 18, 2012

    “@Wow: the Palestinian state already exists de facto ”

    Nope, the palestinians have segregated areas in Israel, which isn’t a de facto state.

    West Bank was taken by Jordan, not allowed for Palestine. Israel took the West Bank, not allowed for Palestine. The difference for Israel being that the palestinians already were denied the area, so they didn’t lose anything, just changed who was at fault for owning it illicitly.

    Gaza, similarly, except change Jordan for Egypt.

    The palestinians are getting shat upon by everyone. But the arab world is worse in this because they pretend to be supporting them.

  10. #10 csrster
    September 18, 2012

    “There is a middle-ground between Israel can do no wrong and Israel can do no right, but at the moment I don’t see any significant group of people defending that ground. ”

    That actually sounds like a pretty fair description of the position of, say, the current US administration.

  11. #11 Wow
    September 18, 2012

    “There is a middle-ground between Israel can do no wrong and Israel can do no right, but at the moment I don’t see any significant group of people defending that ground. ”

    It is, however, somewhat tautological. If you draw a line between any two statements, there’s ALWAYS a “middle ground”. Even if one statement is patently wrong.

    E.g. the value of pi. Those who believe it to be 3 are just plain wrong. Though there’s a middle ground between that and the 3.142whatever that the value of pi is, there’s a good reason why almost all of it is unpopulated.

  12. #12 Another Matt
    September 18, 2012

    Another important thing to consider is why evangelicals tend to fall into the “Israel can do no wrong” camp.

    Most of my relatives are evangelical, and they all seem to think that because of what is written in the bible about “nations that oppose Israel,” if the U.S. were to oppose any policy of the modern-day political entity called “Israel,” it would lose its status as God’s favored nation. One even once told me, “it is an empirical fact that nations which support Israel prosper and those which don’t fade or fail.”

    Even setting aside what they think is supposed to happen eventually based on the book of revelation, this is an extraordinarily dangerous tack. It means that if this brand of evangelical had their way, the Israeli PM would receive the “political infallibility” status that the pope could only dream of these days.

  13. #13 Blaine
    September 18, 2012

    One would have hoped that this blood and soil mentality would have ended by now. The whole idea of a Jewish race ( Its a people not a religion ) is a myth. If Jewish identity flows through the mother then it is possible that some Jews walking around today are only 1,267,650,600,228,229,401,496,703,205,376th racially Jewish. ( Assuming a descendence from a ‘pure’ Jewish person 2000 years ago, every father is non-Jewish and the mother is 20years old when a daughter is born which gives 100 generations…2^100. Homeopathy has a better argument when it claims that a diluted mixture still maintains the resonance of the original ingredients.
    If one does not adhere to the religion what’s the point of maintaining the charade? You’re risking WW3 over a patch of dirt.
    Gotta put your big boy pants on and step out from behind your momma’s skirt and stop hiding behind the anti-semitism trope and ‘it will never happen again’ mantra.
    BTW – I am 2^5 Jewish and related to Sir Moses Montefiore…the father of Zionism…big whoop

  14. #14 Sancho
    September 18, 2012

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the basis for Christian support of Israel is the biblical idea that Jewish dominance in the middle east will make God so angry He comes on down to destroy everyone but the Christians.

    Some sort of allies.

  15. #15 Zachary Alain
    http://zachmakesupstuff.blogspot.com/
    September 19, 2012

    “Sure, they have occupied territory. But that was territory which, prior to the occupation, was used relentlessly as a staging ground for one Arab war after another. Yes, Israel has launched wars. But only in response to extraordinary provocations like rocket fire, suicide bombing and relentless terrorism, and always showing far more restraint than any of their despotic neighbors, who devise far more draconian responses to far lesser provocations.”

    Ok, suppose “ground could be used to stage attacks” justifies a defensive occupation. That’s an argument for unbounded expansion.

    Assumption regarding that and the rest of this: Israeli foreign policy is predicated on self-defense, be it pre-emptive, `buffer zoning’, or otherwise, and not outright expansion. I imagine settlement activity need not be mentioned here, so I’ll give another test case: look where the Israelis have occupied a territory and then relinquish it. There’s only one major example: the Sinai peninsula. This was taken by Israel during the 1967 war. Well, Egypt had a serious military and they wanted that back, so they offered Israel a peace treaty (almost identical in terms to the one later achieved through `shuttle diplomacy’). Israel rejected it. They rejected a peace treaty with the major Arab military power in order to settle new territory.

    On the `restraint’ point: I don’t think it’s significant that Israel is a less savage state than its neighbors in many ways. Ceausescu was less savage than Stalin in many ways. But the line about `restraint’ is silly in another way. How `restrained’ was Israel during the First Intifada? How is it that the side both having and employing the overwhelming majority of the violence in the conflict described as `restrained’ in the face of attack? Collective punishment – incidentally a war crime, and the same concept applies to indiscriminate rocket fire – is Israel’s default reaction to both violent and non-violent resistance to occupation.

    We can talk about the specifics of the 2009 attack and the rocket fire as well, but however relatively civilized Israel is supposed to be, `overreaction’ seems to be agreed upon. I have to note something concerning reactions here: counter-intuitively, there are ways to reduce violence other than escalating violence.

    “Israel has become radicalized, but only after decades of hatred and intransigence from their neighbors.”

    How did these intransigent folks come to be their neighbors again? What were these `moderate’ Israelis doing back then?

    “Netanyahu is an impediment to peace, but as recently as 2000 Israel was offering extraordinary concessions that would have led to a two-state solution, but instead were met with renewed violence for their troubles.”

    Chomsky: “look at the maps.” Apart from that, I do not want to go into the history of US-Israeli policy, in rhetoric and practice, concerning a two state settlement. For now, I’m only making the minimal statement that `extraordinary’ is quite the word here. There is a sense in which it is accurate.

    The Palestinians are not innocent lambs, and the Israelis are not amoral monsters. But it’s hard not to notice the imbalance of power between them, particularly when Israel has long had the near-complete backing of the US, diplomatic and otherwise. I think that imbalance of power should affect the priors we bring to investigating this.

  16. #16 Wow
    September 19, 2012

    “so I’ll give another test case: look where the Israelis have occupied a territory and then relinquish it. There’s only one major example: the Sinai peninsula.”

    Given that the only occupied two areas, that would make it 50% of their conquered territorial annexes.

    Where ARE most of the lands that palestinians were living in the distant past? Oh, under Jordan?

    Maybe the Arab world could get together and put aside some land for the Palestinians to hold as their own like GB did for Israel with their landholdings?

    If the Arab world are wanting justice and a homeland for the palestinians where they don’t have to be second-class, let them do something positive for it.

  17. #17 Wow
    September 19, 2012

    Sancho, the destruction in fire (nuclear fireball) of Israel is the signal for The Rapture. There are lots and lots of Rapturists (small percentage, but in the USA that adds up to a lot of people) who are egging this on. They are possibly one segment most likely to ensure that conflict continues.

    Israel and Palestine have BOTH tried REALLY REALLY HARD to reach agreement.

    But much like the troubles in Northern Ireland, there are large sections of troublemakers WHO WILL NOT accept a peace treaty.

    For screwing Israel over the attempts to reach peace treaty, USian fundies can be blamed for much of their problem. For the Palestinians, you have the Arab extremists from Jordan, Syria, etc, who just want Jews dead screwing up the Palestinian efforts to reach accord.

  18. #18 Zachary Alain
    http://zachmakesupstuff.blogspot.com/
    September 19, 2012

    Wow,

    “Given that the only occupied two areas, that would make it 50% of their conquered territorial annexes.”

    Well, there was that whole Lebanon thing, and there are earlier details. But ignoring all that, I’m not sure what the significance of this. Israel relinquishes occupied territory when it is forced too. Otherwise, it fills up strategic areas with settlements.

    “Where ARE most of the lands that palestinians were living in the distant past? Oh, under Jordan?”

    I’m not going to pretend to take seriously the myth of a “land without a people for a people without a land,” in case that’s what you’re getting at. Otherwise: If you have information actually relevant to what I was talking about, I don’t mind hearing it.

    “Maybe the Arab world could get together and put aside some land for the Palestinians to hold as their own like GB did for Israel with their landholdings?”

    Right. The Arabs should be willing to give comparable land including decent water resources for the Palestinians to be shuttled to, where they could form their own state, so that Israel can have the remaining 22% of the former Mandate (including all the religious sites). The Palestinians would be perfectly fine with just leaving their homeland, just like any nation. We could also send everyone in the Middle East to Jupiter.

    I’ll let you look up the history of the proposals offered by the Arab states in recent decades, since you seem to think that they’ve done absolutely nothing. As for the Arab population, it’s also hard to say they’ve done nothing. But I don’t feel the need to do details here, since I don’t see why or how the Arabs are supposed to unilaterally solve everything. There is an overwhelming international consensus, of which the Arab states are a part. Extremists will exist for the foreseeable future, but I think there is a way to at least reducing violence.

    The primary obstacle to that happens to be us.

  19. #19 Wow
    September 19, 2012

    “Well, there was that whole Lebanon thing”

    You mean “war”, right? That’s not occupation. AFAIK, Lebanon still exists.

  20. #20 Hyperion
    September 19, 2012

    Zachary, there are multiple errors in your analysis. With regards to Sinai, Israel did occupy it after the 1967 war. They held that area as a bulwark against Egyptian invasion. Such an invasion occurred in 1973. It was only following the failed invasion attempt in 1973 that Egypt was willing to negotiate for peace. I do not understand how you can discuss the Sinai occupation and repatriation without even mentioning a major war that was fought there.

    With regards to your statement that “the main obstacle is us” (I assume that you mean the USA?), I think that you are placing too great an emphasis on the American role in the region, to the point that it comes across as almost a colonial worldview. The people living in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, as well as their leaders, all ultimately play a greater role than a few American diplomats. It is true that American diplomacy has a role: we can promise foreign aid (read: bribery) and threaten to withold it, and we can offer to sell arms to the various governments for defense and/or suppression of rebellion (as we have done for Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE to name a few nations in the region).

    Ultimately, however, there are people in these nations who want peace, there are others in these nations who do not want peace, and there are other people in these nations who are willing to agree to a peaceful settlement but under conditions that the other side finds unacceptable. With regard to the Palestinian territories, Gaza is ruled by Hamas, whose main diplimatic request to Israel has been “we will destroy the Jewish state”. They literally will not accept any sort of peace. The West Bank is better off, Fatah may be willing to negotiate for peace, but both sides have different demands and the last time that the Israelis placed a moratorium on construction in the West Bank, Abbas refused to negotiate anyways, so it is not necessarily the case that halting construction will allow peace talks.

    The biggest problem is that the West Bank first needs to be a viable, functional nation-state before it can gain independence. Fayyad and others in the Palestinian Authority are working towards that, and recent security cooperation with the Israelis is helping build trust and reduce violence, but can you really tell me that the West Bank is ready for full self-government without turning into Somalia-on-the-Jordan? You can respond that the reason that they lack the infrastructure and governing bodies is because of Israel, but blaming Israel ultimately doesn’t solve the problem. The problem is that you are substituting moral arguments for public policy and ig oring the fact that morality doesn’t operate sewage plants and electic generators, it doesn’t provide a police presence or production capacity or a balance of trade. These are all things that a successful nation-state must have. Blaming Israel does not actually create these things for the Palestinians.

  21. #21 Wow
    September 19, 2012

    “I think that you are placing too great an emphasis on the American role in the region”

    The USA are a polarising and radicalising influence in the Middle East, just like the UK and just like the European countries that sliced up Africa into nice neat lines that cut right through tribal lands.

    It was much the same with the Republic of Eire government and Northern Ireland. If they had said “We disagree with terrorism as a way of solving the issue of Northern Ireland and, as long as terrorists insist on trying to use force to solve this issue, we refuse to assert any claim over the Ten Counties.”, then much of the wind would have been taken out of the sails of both the loyalists and unionists.

    Both sides had found the troubles a useful cover for shakedowns. The insistence that NI should be part of the Republic gave them a patina of veracity they did not deserve and gave the other sides terrorists reason to inflame people over the fear of religious cleansing.

    But there was some public support and no benefit, so the politicians just wring their hands and pretend to be horrified for foreign appearances.

    And the troubles continued.

    Much the same is happening with the USA for Israel (and other uninvolved arab states for Palestine).

  22. #22 Jason Rosenhouse
    September 19, 2012

    Zachary —

    I imagine settlement activity need not be mentioned here, so I’ll give another test case: look where the Israelis have occupied a territory and then relinquish it. There’s only one major example: the Sinai peninsula.

    Without attempting a point by point rebuttal to everything in your comment, I would note that Israel also returned land that they had occupied in Gaza, in 2005. How did that work out for them?

  23. #23 SLC
    September 19, 2012

    Re MNb
    <iAccording to JR that apparently includes deliberately killing innocent children. Great.
    What’s more, the rocket launching hasn’t stopped, so JR implicitely admits that Israel lost the war. That’s greater.
    Finally JR might check how many Palestinian victims Israel has made last few decades and how many Israeli’s died. That’s greatest.
    Should we conclude that according to JR an Israeli life has more value than a Palestinian one?
    Given the selective presentation of the facts I do conclude that JR is much closer to AIPAC than to J-Street.

    Since Israel is going to be bashed by folks like Mr. MNb anyway for being beastly towards the Palestinians, maybe they ought to take off the gloves and impose Hama Rules on the Palestinians. Then Mr. MdB would really have something to whine about.

    Relative to this, sometime back the Ynet news site had an article about a Knesset member, Haneen Zoabi, who was suing in court over the denial of certain privileges as a member. She claimed that she was being oppressed. One of the talkbacks was from someone from Syria who suggested that she relocate to that country where she would find out what oppression really was.

  24. #24 Zachary Alain
    http://zachmakesupstuff.blogspot.com/
    September 19, 2012

    Hyperion,

    “They held that area as a bulwark against Egyptian invasion. Such an invasion occurred in 1973. It was only following the failed invasion attempt in 1973 that Egypt was willing to negotiate for peace. I do not understand how you can discuss the Sinai occupation and repatriation without even mentioning a major war that was fought there.”

    The Yom Kippur War of 1973 came after the war of 1967, which was when Israel conquered the Sinai. As for the `bulwark against invasion’, it’s odd that Israel built and planned large civilian settlements. (Though the transfer of settlers onto territory acquired by war is a war crime.) Egypt asked for a non-belligerency pact before the war, on much the same terms as were ultimately arrived at afterward.

    I don’t see the flaw.

    “I think that you are placing too great an emphasis on the American role in the region, to the point that it comes across as almost a colonial worldview.”

    I do hold to the `colonial worldview’, in the sense that we involve and have involved ourselves in the Middle East quite extensively since WWII in order to support governments with the correct economic policies. But yes, billions of dollars in direct aid, billions more in indirect aid, and massive diplomatic support amounts to pretty big support. There’s also no serious way that Israel could be economically embargoed while the United States supports it, despite overwhelming international opposition to Israel policy. This is why there was no effective economic sanction against the Apartheid regime until after congress overrode Reagan.

    “[Hamas] literally will not accept any sort of peace.”

    Hamas is nuts. I think the important thing is to analyze why they won a fair election in 2006 and figure out what legitimate actions we can take to undercut support for them. This is to be done for its own sake. Whether or not this is essential to the peace process, it is less easy to tell. I think that Hamas is willing to accept and (at least relative to Israel) abide by an indefinite ceasefire if that ceasefire is predicated on ending the blockade that’s been strangling Gazan life.

    “..so it is not necessarily the case that halting construction will allow peace talks.”

    But it is a necessary condition for those going forward. And if you accept the legitimacy, in principle, of a two-state solution on roughly pre-67 borders as about everyone at least pretends, what do settlements mean?

    “The problem is that you are substituting moral arguments for public policy and ig oring the fact that morality doesn’t operate sewage plants and electic generators, it doesn’t provide a police presence or production capacity or a balance of trade. These are all things that a successful nation-state must have. Blaming Israel does not actually create these things for the Palestinians.”

    Well if you remember, the OP here is about an equivocation between Netanyahu and his critics. So yeah, I took the moral line instead of planning a new highway system for the West Bank. But yes, simply `blaming Israel’ (this is a bit too broad) won’t build them. Neither will supporting Israel, apparently.

    Jason,

    “I would note that Israel also returned land that they had occupied in Gaza, in 2005. How did that work out for them?”

    Why did they withdraw the settlements and what did they do to Gaza immediately afterward?

  25. #25 Wow
    September 19, 2012

    “Why did they withdraw the settlements and what did they do to Gaza immediately afterward?”

    Why did you answer one question with another question unrelated to the first?

  26. #26 Zachary Alain
    http://zachmakesupstuff.blogspot.com/
    September 19, 2012

    There’s obviously a lot more to the history of this topic than we’ve discussed. But I want to be clear: my primary concern is with a viable, lasting peace agreement that allows both Israelis and Palestinians a right to self-determine. This means that a lot of Palestinian refugees will never return home, since history does not allow a reasonable expectation that a Jewish minority would be well-treated. Large-scale reparations will be needed to accommodate for this, reparations whose cost should be borne primarily by Israel and the United States. Worldwide aid will be necessary for the building of viable infrastructure in the former occupied territories. This idea also means that after a lasting settlement is reached, there will need to be international oversight to mediate pursuit and perhaps undertake police actions to stop extremists. (A mechanism for this and mutual agreement to submit to the same should be part of a settlement. Certain holy sites might need to be placed under international control.) This is the only way I can see that has a serious chance of preventing the familiar cycle of retribution.

    Hamas is a problem, but it simply isn’t the primary obstacle to all of this happening. The primary obstacle is the steady disintegration of even the possibility of any of this through settlement expansion. Israel would not be able to do this were it not for US support. If you think for a moment, you’ll notice that this entails the failure of the secular Zionist project.

    I think that the US operates like other states, i.e. its foreign policy is predicated mostly on the material self-interest as graded in proportion to the power and influence of sectors of its population. So our foreign policy has more to do with advancing the interests of concentrated power than, say, the lower middle class and poor. Ok, so what happens if those sectors decide that Israeli expansion – or more remotely, existence – is not in their interest? Do you think that antisemitism has been eradicated? I agree with the Zionists on one thing: we can’t count on that.

  27. #27 Wow
    September 19, 2012

    “Large-scale reparations will be needed to accommodate for this, reparations whose cost should be borne primarily by Israel and the United States.”

    Why?

    1) Its a cheap price to pay to stop the USA meddling in the ME to say “And we don’t want money off you for past wrongs”.

    2) Israel has been pretty much knock-for-knock. It’s not their fault that they’re better at fighting than the arab world.

    Demanding reparation also ensures there are genuinely arguable reasons to deny an accord.

    Moreover part of the reason for the continuing conflict is because no stupid fucker is willing to draw a line under the past to change the future.

  28. #28 Wow
    September 19, 2012

    “Hamas is a problem, but it simply isn’t the primary obstacle to all of this happening.”

    Yes they are.

  29. #29 Zachary Alain
    http://zachmakesupstuff.blogspot.com/
    September 19, 2012

    Wow,

    I’m quite willing to respond to your arguments, but I need you to make arguments first.

    In answer to your “why?”, I thought that would be obvious in the context of achieving peace. I think that leaving millions of displaced, impoverished refugees to their own might get in the way of that.

  30. #30 Wow
    September 19, 2012

    “I’m quite willing to respond to your arguments, but I need you to make arguments first.”

    Uh, if I were to tell you a cube has six sides, this isn’t an argument for a cube having six sides. It is a statement of fact.

    And asking why you demand reparations from Israel and the US is not an argument for not doing it, it’s asking you why.

    It rather seems like you are not, in fact, willing to respond.

  31. #31 Wow
    September 19, 2012

    “I think that leaving millions of displaced, impoverished refugees to their own might get in the way of that.”

    Nope, that doesn’t stop a peace agreement.

    After WWII there were PLENTY of displaced impoverised refugees.

    This did not get in the way of peace.

  32. #32 Zachary Alain
    http://zachmakesupstuff.blogspot.com/
    September 19, 2012

    Wow,

    I take a sort of Humean position on ethics, so it might be that there is no amount of information that should force us into agreement. It might be that we have a fundamental difference in values. I live in the South, so I run into that occasionally. I frequently discuss this in coffee shops and bars, and occasionally, people will simply tell me that they don’t regard the Palestinians as human beings or have as an overriding concern the retaking of the Holy Land. Well, if you reject universality in human rights and you have no general scruples concerning coercion or inequality, I know of no General Rule of Reason that will determine which of us is wrong.

    I don’t know where you stand on any of this, and I can’t know if you know so little about the history. I’m not asking you to devote a considerable chunk of your life to acquiring a specialist’s knowledge of the Palestine issue, but I would at least expect you to demonstrate that you are genuinely curious if you want to argue with me about it.

    I hate going meta, but if one is seriously willing to float or imply sentences like “why don’t the Palestinians all just go away?”, “why are refugees an issue?”, and “that’s what the Arabs get for sucking at fighting”, it’s difficult to avoid doing so. This is the moral or intellectual equivalent of “Jews get out”, the `or’ being inclusive.

    I’m not asking myself these things about anybody else in this thread.

  33. #33 Wow
    September 19, 2012

    “I take a sort of Humean position on ethics”

    I take the position that if you have peace, then less harm is done than if you have war.

    Addmittedly pretty easy to follow.

    Now you seem to prefer punishment to peace.

    Because you can either punish people or get peace, but as long as you need agreement, you can’t have both.

  34. #34 Area Man
    September 19, 2012

    Yes, they have pursued a nuclear capability. But that is because they face actual threats to their existence and need those weapons to ensure their survival. Sure, they have launched preemptive strikes against the nuclear ambitions of their neighbors, but the attacks on Iraq ans Syria were textbook examples of when preemption is justified…

    I try to stay out of Israel discussions, mostly because our political culture’s obsession with Israel is ridiculous and does not need to be encouraged, but this is the kind of double-standard that makes many of our heads spin. Most countries in that region have or have had their existence threatened. And if the prospect of a nuclear armed neighbor justifies preemptive war, then surely Israel’s nuclear program justified attacks by the Arab states.

    If the idea is that Israel gets to play by different rules because they’re in the “right” somehow, then just say it.

  35. #35 CherryBombSim
    September 19, 2012

    I only have some familiarity with the issues in the West Bank, as all my in-laws are West Bank, so I won’t talk too much about Gaza or relations between Israel and the rest of the Muslim countries. Except to say that ya, West Bank arabs are often used as game pieces by others for their own purposes.

    In the West Bank, it all comes down to land. The Israelis want to appease their own fanatics by giving them settlements, and they want to expand their own cities onto lands occupied by arabs. Unless this stops, I don’t see any chance of a lasting peace there. I believe that Israel and the West Bank could actually make peace between themselves on that basis, but unfortunately outside forces would overrule it.

  36. #36 Wow
    September 20, 2012

    “expand their own cities onto lands occupied by arabs”

    Palestinians.

    Meanwhile, Hamas are appealing to their own fanatics by insisting on the extermination of all Jews and want to expand their own cities onto lands occupied by Jews.

    Unless that stops, I don’t see any chance of a lasting peace there.

    And you’re right, there’s a lot of interference from outside to ensure that this doesn’t fix because they have an ideological or political position to gain or maintain and since they don’t actually live and die in the affected regions, have nothing to lose by the continuation of violence.

    See the Irish Americans supporting the IRA pre-2001.

  37. #37 David Belk
    September 20, 2012

    @ WOW

    We DO NOT make reperations to anyone under any circumstances ever! We do not accomodate the enemy. We decimate the enemy. This nation is full of weak men like you. Too weak to do what is necessary to win. My hairy palmed friend, you would not have survived in the Viking days.

    The American military is weak as well. Sure we have good soldiers and nice equipment but we also have silly “rules” and that pesky in the way Geneva convention bullshit that keeps us from winning wars. I say we defund the UN, tear up the Geneva agreement, kick some ass, win, and come home. Our soldiers need to take some lesson from early vikings. You go in decimate, destroy, and demoralize the enemy. Win at all costs and fear no man. Vikings had no fear of any livng creature or himan battle. Those guys were brutal, relentless, merciless, and extraordinarily confident in their ability to win. Sure they were criminals and tyrants, but their enemies reatly feared them.

    If early Vikings were still around today and Islamic terrorists attacked their dwelling, you could sleep well knowing that Islam would probably be extinct in a short while. Those guys would have killed the enemy just for sport. Then again I think Islamic terrorists would have had enough common sense to attack a viking clan in the first place. The retaliation would be brutal, swift, and merciless. They would have killed every man woman and child. Of course this may be a bit unreasonable in today’s over sensitive world, but the Vikings got results. No one attacked them and lived to tell about it. I would not want to be their enemy.

    As a amatter of fact some viking warriros refused to wear armor becuase they feared being veiwed as less of a man. These guys would march into places wearing little clothes much less armor, with a wepaon in each hand and burn, pillage, and kill just for entertainment. if an clan or sect attacked them, that clan or sect became extinct. Those guys showed no mercy. In today;s world the Vikings would have slaughtered the US amed forces in battled and drank their blood to put fear into our men’s hearts. In today’s world, men are not men like they were back then.

    Even in the bible days, war was much more brutal than today. Oh, and the winner of the war didn;t give reperations to its enemies. it destroyed the enemies, raped the women, killed the children, and too all the riches and burned what was left. War today is harsh enough, but back then war really was hell. We need to instill this concept into the minds of our Islamic enemies. Perhaps they would not be so hasty in attacking if they thye knew brutal vengenace lay ahead.

  38. #38 SLC
    September 21, 2012

    Re David Belk

    Sounds like Hama Rules.

  39. #39 Dan L.
    September 21, 2012

    I take the position that if you have peace, then less harm is done than if you have war.

    Seems like the sort of thing a comfortable, white, male American would say.

  40. #40 Dan L.
    September 21, 2012

    @Belk:

    Thanks for the laugh. That’s got to be one of the most ridiculous internet tough-guy monologues I ever read. If someone offered you a time machine ride to medieval Scandinavia to experience Viking “civilization” for yourself you’d probably poop your pants and jump back into the time machine after about 5 minutes.

    If you think you want to live in that world you’re fooling yourself. Go get yourself some Starbucks and thank whatever it is you have to thank that you’re not a viking.

  41. #41 Blaine
    September 21, 2012

    @Belk
    “and that pesky in the way Geneva convention bullshit that keeps us from winning wars.”
    Those rules are largely meant to reduce multilation and suffering, not killing or winnng wars. Ex, shotguns are not allowed( eveb though they were prevelant in Vietnam ) because they tend to mutilate and not kill.

    The Vikings were after resources. Typically, all the men and children would be killed and the women would be f**ked and turned into slaves…similar to what the Hebrews did in the O.T. and what lions typically do out in the Sarangeti.
    The Vikings were famous for tossing babies to each other and ‘catching’ them on their swords…good times.

  42. #42 james ainoris
    brooklyn
    September 21, 2012

    It is difficult if not impossible for american s jewish or not to fully understand israeli politics and policies… i am an american jew and just returned from there. i witnessed arabs christians and many others living peacefully and safely in israel. israel has been surrounded threatened and attacked continually by various world religions and empires for 3500years. it is a torah based and defined land not a secular democracy … all sorrounding countries are rabid antisemites and continually launching rockets and sniping at yeshivos(School in southern and northern regions. israel does not wish to invade or attack others…only defend itself. history has proven itself time and time of this. 60% of israeli jews (mizrahi) were refugees from arab countries..not just europe. they lost all their homes and property. yet the world seems to remain silent on this. no arab leader ever accepted any peace deal that didnt include wiping jews out of israel. the plo was set up by the nazi s during ww2 meeting with htlr. j

  43. #43 David Belk
    September 21, 2012

    Shotguns are the most versitile weapon in war. It can fire slugs, buckshot, birdshot, etc. and the pattern can be modified to a wide pread where you can take down multiple enemies at once at close range or 1 or 2 at a further distance with a different paterning choke. it is the most versatile survival tool a man can have. He can hunt small game with it, or use it as a wepaon of war against an aggressor or he can use it as self defense against large p dangerous predators in the wild. An all around univrsal gun – the Shotgun. Nowadays you cna even attach tactical lights and night vision gear to them making them even more useful in a survivalist situation.

    Yes Vikings were after resources, but they did kill for sport and their enemies did fear them and you “white male” rant is RACIST to say the least. Are you a white male? Probably not judging by how you hate themso much. Look at the facts. How much actual culture, that includes literature, religion, art, war, cultivation of land, government invention, etc is the “white male” responsible for?

    Well, I’ll put it in terms that you perhaps can understand. Being a liberal and a universal lover of big brother watching over the masses to make sure they do not make a move without federal permission, the WHITE MALE invented the very government which you worship at the altar of.

    If he had not, you would be sitting at the council of elders in a jungle somewhere wearing only a loincloth and carry a spear truying tto decide whether you were going to have snake or spider for supper. . YOU”re WELCOME! Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t the society where “white males”as you call them usually the most predominat, most wealthy, and most technologuically advanced societies?

    Again, you are welcome! Of course if you still have a difficult time wrapping your brain around all of the societal accomplishments we ango saxons have provided for you, you can alsways move to a place where we do not reside. Believe me, if you moved, it would NOT hurt our feeling in the least. As a matter of facr, name the date and we will arrange to help you pack. It would sure end troubles on both sides of the cultural divide. You go on and eat your spider and spear a pig and I’ll drive my caddialc and have steak and win wars of significace. Your side will also win wars – between tribes competing for the most mud to make your latest fall hut design and for new ginko leaves to make new clothes. Either way, looks like supply and demand capitalism still rules the day.

  44. #44 David Belk
    September 21, 2012

    @ James

    Oh, and I hope you realize that it was fanatacial islamic militants who helped Hitler and the nazis during WWII. Looks like they are still trying to get rid of the Jews after all this time. That’s right. Islamic terrorists were abbetting Nazis. Now, granted the Nazis hated the arabs as much as the Jews but since they had a common enemy they worled together. Little did the arab Muslims know that when Hitler eradicated the jews, gays, prositutes, etc., that the arabs would be next. Hitler wanted exactly what Chrales Darwin said was possible tthrough the “survival of the fittest” mentality. If evolution were true, though Hitler, then it was possible that one day a perfect race of humans could exist. it was through this idea of evolution that drove Hitler to seek his perfect race of humans. He saw Jews and others as an evolutionary inferior species of man.

    I sure do not know whay you are so proud of darwin. His idea resulted in a world war with millions of deaths. So far liberals have killed about 60 million people or more.

    55 million deaths inside of the United states through abortion.

    6 millions deaths of jews resulting from the idea that one species is more evolved than another and that the lesser evolved species have to be wiped out to purify the whole human race.

    I could list other incident, but think about that the next time you call Bush a warmonger. The deaths in Iraq are microscopic beside the deaths from darwinist ideas and abortion. We neocons killed thousands. Your side have killed Billions. Looks like you side is more deadly.

  45. #45 Zachary Alain
    http://zachmakesupstuff.blogspot.com/
    September 21, 2012

    I wonder if we could get a poll or set of polls on this…

  46. #46 Jim Peacock
    September 25, 2012

    No you cannot get a poll on this. Internet polls are inaccurate. Especally when PZ Myers and his gang would just muss it up with their poll crashing stuff.

    Well, they would have used to messed it up. I now intervene in their poll crashing and report it the webmaster who often kindly nods, sees what is going on, and then reverses the results on PZ Myers’ head. I am the Guardian of the Poll and Myer’s poll crashing days are over.

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