Israel

One state advocates, how would you get from A to B? –Part 1

In my previous post, I praised Hussein Ibish’s critique of those who support a one state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In response, Adam Horowitz wrote that he found Ibish’s pointed questions to be “boring” because they reprised familiar objections, and because many of his concerns have already been addressed by one state advocates in “creative and interesting ways.”

I thought Ibish was devastating precisely because he summed up crucial questions that, in my judgement, have NOT been answered very well. A number of commentators joined the fray and took a crack at answering Ibish’s questions, including Aryeh Amitay and participants in this blog and MondoWeiss.

Keeping track of the back-and-forth, I realized something that many in the pro-Israel left would not be willing to admit: I have much in common with some–although certainly not all–people in the one state camp. Some of them are people who see no difference between Bibi and Pol Pot, nasty paleo-conservatives and other predictable characters. But others share many values with me. We have the same commitment to ending Palestinian suffering, the same anger at the continuing occupation. Within that group, some understand that Jewish nationalism is a reality that can’t be wished away. They advocate a bi-national solution in which Jewish Israelis would continue to keep their national customs and identity, and –according to some of them– even the idea of a Jewish homeland would not necessarily disappear. In many ways, it is a beguiling notion. They are hearkening back to the ideas of Judah Magnes and Martin Buber and other Zionists who believed a bi-national state was the only way to avoid an ongoing confrontation between two national movements. If I’d been around in the 1920s and 1930s, I’d like to think that I would have found Magnes Zionism to be very attractive.

But this digital conversation has helped me to understand why the gaps between the one-staters and those on the leftward edge of the two state camp are so vast. This is more than a matter of political disagreements. Compared to them, I hold Palestinians much more responsible for the mess both peoples are in. I feel a connection to the Jewish people that some of them find primitive and atavistic (or unpatriotic). But what separates us is something deeper, I think, a difference in mindsets and in our approaches to complex problems, perhaps to life itself.

Ibish is a practical man. He finds the one-staters to be thoroughly impractical. His –and my– bedrock assumption is that the conflict cannot be solved unless large swaths of Israelis and Palestinians agree with the solution. One of his main objections to the one-staters is that they don’t explain how they plan to persuade the Israeli people to discard their national narrative, the mythos they absorbed as kids, the organizing principles of their political identities, and then agree to something entirely different. They don’t offer a practical political path, a means to get from A to B.

Those who argue with him don’t seem to care about the obligation to get from A to B. Their answers are based on what they believe the world should look like, a vision of justice, of wrongs being righted. And so, in recent on-line conversations, they often didn’t answer the questions Ibish was posing; they answered questions that they believed to be more important.

Ibish asked: “what, as a practical matter, does this vision of a single, democratic state offer to Jewish Israelis?”

“Don,” on my blog, responded that: “Palestinians have no obligation, morally, to ask the question. They do have a moral obligation to free themselves.” He also asserted that “Palestinians have no obligation, morally or any other way, to `reach out’ to their oppressors. It is Israelis and diaspora Jews who have a moral obligation to reach out to Palestinians.”

Don completely dismissed or ignored the notion that, if they want to achieve their goals, one-staters have a practical obligation to foster much more support among Jewish Israelis. That is an admittedly extreme example of a mindset that was very common among the one-state proponents responding to Ibish. Their ideas exist in a kind of pristine intellectual space that has no connection to what more than a handful of people actually believe, or could be persuaded to believe, in Israel. For that matter, while there is more support for the one state goal in the territories, most Palestinians don’t endorse it either.

What is most important to the one-staters, at this point, is explaining why the two-state solution won’t work and figuring out and then proclaiming what they believe to be a just and workable alternative. One gets the sense that at least some of them literally believe that is all they need to do, that they have no obligation to do anything other than espouse an ideal in the blogosphere.

Responding to the challenge of explaining how, precisely, to achieve a one state solution, Aryeh Amitay provided a list of what HE wanted the Israelis to do. His first two ideas are:

“1. Cease…all collective punishment to Palestinians, including freedom of movement, freedom of speech, and other common manifestations of occupation. Terrorism will be addressed specifically, without hysteria and without generalizations, as if it were no more than another form of crime in Israel.

2. At first, all Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza will be granted permanent residence in Israel, allowing them to work and trade with Israelis and in Israel.

These and other ideas he suggests are attractive. But he doesn’t even pretend that there is a remote possibility that Israelis would accept them in the forseeable future.

Ibish notes in his book, “Operating strictly at the level of intellectual abstraction, one-state advocates move within a theoretical political space and are unencumbered by the behavior of any political party or grouping…0ne state rhetoric is comforting, ostensibly moral and ethical (although in many cases there is an obvious latent content that is far less lofty), and sheltered from the distasteful realities of actual political conduct.” That habit of mind explains, in a nutshell, why our two camps appear to be speaking entirely different languages.

There is no lack of evidence that the two state solution is in serious trouble. Perhaps the one-staters are right when they say that this trouble is irrevocable. Indeed, it may well be true that neither outcome is feasible. But the question is, which goal is more unlikely? Which goal is within the realm of what is possible?

We’ve got political parties and institutions in both the territories and in Israel working for similar, if not identical goals. We’ve got a corpus of international law that supports two states, the readiness of the international community to put its resources behind a concrete two state solution, a promising peace initiative from the Arab states. We’ve got the support, in principle, of majorities of both Israelis and Palestinians for similar, if not identical, goals. We’ve got at least a few promising precedents, such as the evacuation of settlers from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank.

We might not have enough. But all they’ve got are ideas and ideals that have no chance of affecting the current, gritty, sad reality of the conflict. Which horse should Palestinians and Israelis be betting on?

67 thoughts on “One state advocates, how would you get from A to B? –Part 1

  1. Thanks, Dan, for this reference. This is not only a very respectful argument, but also very helpful.

    You’ve presented my side fair enough, so I don’t have much to add at this point, but since you stressed practicality, I want to add a small point:

    As you said, I don’t think my ideas are practical, in the sense that I don’t see any Israeli leader who would adopt them (and manage to win the voters confidence if he was frank about them). My main point is that it would be possible for Israel to adopt such a process, in a safe and healthy version, had it wished it.

    However, I think that the two-state solution is practical only from a (relatively) short-term viewpoint: although it is feasable to convince many Israelis and Palestinians to support the two-state, this is only while both sides envision something very different. Once the solution is implemented and all the inevitable problems arise (Israeli Palestinians, limited right of return, no embrace of the Nakbah, a weak Palestinian state, strongly dependant on Israel for tis economy, etc.) – the violence will resurface.

    I prefer (and in this I am well-aware of my idealism) a solution that addresses the tough issues without being implemented in the near future, than supporting something that avoids those issues, and will be implemented (unsuccessfully, I believe) sooner.

    Thanks again for the reference and the debate.

  2. Change happens by effort (and some external circumstances, but those end up controllable in ways).

    The choice of where and how to put one’s effort is important.

    To my mind, the non-brainer efforts are that those that move forward both solution simultaneously. And, to my mind those are institution-building efforts, and relationship-building efforts. Tangible ones consisting both of learning of the “other” inter-personally, and of working towards common objectives tanbigly.

    The areas that I see that happening are culturally (music is a great example, who can tell whether the musician one is playing with is Turkish, Iraqi, or Muslim Israeli or Jewish Israeli?) (That is one of Richard Silverstein’s approaches, though now with the BDS as a new “intifada”ish separation approach, I don’t know if he still advocates for that integration, or has a political litmus test as prerequisite to get into the recording studio.)

    Ecology is another. The question “Do you love the land?” crosses ethnicities, if sincere.

    Education is another, public health, sport, trade, law.

    I personally adopt the multi-cultural view rather than the assimilation view. The multi-cultural view uses the metaphor of a soup. In multi-cultural view, the carrots, onions and beans aren’t cooked to the point that they are indistinguishable, but instead retain their identity.

    The assimilation view assumes that the carrots will dissolve into the mush.

    We need carrots, and we need beans. We don’t just need beta-carroteen (carrots) and soluble fiber (beans).

  3. Au contraire.
    If one-state proponents have *anything* on their side, it is reality. Because, you know, there already is one state, named Israel, and nothing else on the territory we are talking about. That may not be legal – in fact it’s outrageously illegal – but the “facts on the ground” speak for themselves. There already is one state, and the only reason it cannot be called an apartheid state is because that would not be going far enough. One state, a colonialist, undemocratic, ethnically segregated state.

    Two-state proponents say “Let’s pinch off a piece or two from this state for the oppressed ethnic group to have their own state.”
    One-state proponents say “Let’s transform this undemocratic state into a democracy for all its inhabitants”.
    I don’t see how the second idea is somehow less viable than the first.

  4. I think some of your objections can be applied to the two-state solution as well.
    In practical terms, how is the expulsion of Jews from the West Bank going to be implemented? Israel barely managed to relocate a few thousands from Gaza. Even if Israeli leadership is willing, is there a force in Israel that can remove the Jews from the West Bank?
    I don’t believe so, and therefore I believe we are going into a one-state solution whether we wish it or not, and the question then is how to make the transition with the least amount of pain and suffering, and what will be the character of this new regime. In this regard, the work of the one-staters in imagining the mechanisms that will enable a peaceful and prosperous binational state is essential.

  5. Hi Dan,

    Don here…my goodness, aren’t we critical (just kidding). I did try try to qualify my initial post.

    But I have a strong response to THIS post. And that is…
    1)I have no particular investment in either approach . I agree it should be decided by Israelis and Palestinians.
    2. I am definitely a leftist, but wonder of wonders, I have no problem with Jewish nationalism. I don’t see why it is necessarily different than any other nationalism.
    3. Most importantly…and this is for your consideration, Dan. If you genuinely believe in the two state approach…could you be so kind, so to speak, as to stop agreeing with the “we’re running out of time” argument.
    See Sevr Plocker’s article in todays Ynet “Point of No Return”. He thinks the game is already over…soemone just needs to blow the whistle.

    I disagree. But it is is quite discouraging when advocates for 2 states like yourself express support for the “we’re running out of (or have already run out of) time” view. That was the point of the first thing I said in my first post. It seem to me tantamount to accepting the inevitability of one state. Or am I wrong about this?

    Om this point, I disagree with Plocker, and I disagree with you. There is always time, in my opinion. Things and people can change.

    But I say this, I hope it is evident, in the spirit of finding a way, some way, any way, for Israelis (note I refer to them as Israelis!!) and Palestinians to live together in peace.

    I hope you don’t take any of this in any way as hostile. I make no pretense whatsoever that I actually know what I am talking about. I am just mentioning my (at the moment) perceptions.

  6. Just curious…how big is the one state solution movement within Israel?

    Anybody get the vibe this is nothing more than external meddling in Israel’s sovereign affairs?

    This type of external arm-twisting only works, I assume, on an economically and politically weak infrastructure–which Israel is not.

  7. “Anybody get the vibe this is nothing more than external meddling in Israel’s sovereign affairs?”

    That’s not a particularly charming, but a substantially correct way to put it. And that’s just what is necessary.

    “This type of external arm-twisting only works, I assume, on an economically and politically weak infrastructure–which Israel is not.”

    Prepare to be surprised. Israel is an extremely export-dependent country whose abilities to rely on trade with its immediate geographical neighbours are, shall we say, rather limited.

  8. Koshiro–I’ll certainly be watching with interest.

    I just don’t see it happening so I’m not particularly worried. To me it’s just the Left’s latest attempt (post-Nicaragua) to set up some impractical utopian experiment.

    I get more rankled by the (barely) covert anti-Jewish sentiment than anything else. It’s offensive–even though I remind myself that it’s more bark than ability to harm.

  9. Well, we were just commended for being civil, and I can’t figure out how to respond to that in a non-sardonic way so I’m gonna leave it at that.

  10. Dan,
    You might call the time for the two-state solution as already past. As long as a nexus of each people–a demographic center of gravity–is located separate from the other, then the two-state solution will be possible as long as the will is there to implement it. Until now that will has been lacking on both sides.

    Likewise in Northern Ireland power sharing failed twice before it finally succeeded. It failed because the will was lacking to implement it. The IRA was unwilling to decommission as called for in the Good Friday Agreement. And the SDLP, the moderate nonviolent Catholic nationalist party, was unwilling to condemn Sinn Fein vigorously for its failure to implement the agreement. In 1974 it was unwilling to accept the existence of Northern Ireland at all, and most of the unionists were unwilling to accept power sharing with an Irish dimension. But because there was no other practical solution the British and Irish governments kept plugging away and finally, four years after 9/11 the IRA disarmed and eventually power sharing was instituted. It was instituted because partition was not a practical solution in the case of Northern Ireland, further than what had already occurred in 1921.

    If settlement continues on the West Bank it will only render the existing settlements more precarious in the long run. Instead of settlement blocs for which Israel swaps territory in a final settlement there will be a straight return to the 1949 armistice line. So failure just means that the cost is raised in terms of the settlements and the dead. Palestinians three or four generations after an nakba will have to decide if they want to relieve the crowding of the camps or gamble on their prefered solution in another generation or another after that, etc. Eventually reason will prevail.

  11. The two-state solution will be passed only when population parity in the two jurisdictions is close to 40%.

    As the Jewish population of the West Bank is 10%, and the Arab population of Israel is 20%, that is far far away.

    What happens when each state has near parity in numbers between ethnicity, THEN the conditions of a single state already exist.

    To say that currently, is to exagerate (probably to oneself, its hard to get proportion when in the company of volume).

    The transitions from what I see are:

    Two states until the population distribution in BOTH jurisdictions is in the range of 65/35. Then a single democratic state.

    As I stated earlier and elsewhere, the prerequisites to a successful civil democratic state is majority civilist parties. To the extent that individuals join nationalist parties, they exclude the civilist institutions and logic.

    The left, the single-state advocates avoid such “collaborationist” efforts like the plague, instead preferring the obtuse South Africa parallel.

    There are parallels in observation of the presence of institutionalized suppression. There are FEW parallels in historical or prospective remedy.

  12. “Two states until the population distribution in BOTH jurisdictions is in the range of 65/35. Then a single democratic state.”

    See, this single sentence makes clear that you don’t grasp the situation.
    *Both* jurisdictions? Which two jurisdictions would you be referring to? Israel’s civilian jurisdiction and Israel’s occupational jurisdiction?
    What you seem to be talking about is the intermingling of nationalities or societies. Not the point. The *state* of Israel is currently in sole control of all the land, and has not shown any signs of willingness to ever relinquish that control.

  13. “The *state* of Israel is currently in sole control of all the land, and has not shown any signs of willingness to ever relinquish that control.”

    Not that Yaakov is the official spokesman of the Israeli right…but he said pointblank if Palestinians gave up right of return Israel–and in particular the settlers–would have no rationale or excuse to continue occupation or expansion.

    I’m paraphasing, so I might be misstating his exact statement. But he did say something to that effect. I’m assuming that’s a widely held sentiment.

    Koshiro, why did you put state in parentheses?

  14. “Not that Yaakov is the official spokesman of the Israeli right…but he said pointblank if Palestinians gave up right of return Israel–and in particular the settlers–would have no rationale or excuse to continue occupation or expansion.”

    Okay, now I just can’t resist, sardonic it is: How would that be different from now?
    It’s not like Israel ever needed a rationale or legitimation for the settlements. If Israeli politicians were reasonable, they would have never started this harmful and wasteful enterprise – leaving aside the legal and ethic implications – in the first place.

  15. Those are not quotes.
    ” quotation mark
    * asterisk
    Depending on font or monitor size, the difference might not be apparent at first glance.

    Asterisks are commonly used for emphasis in lieu of HTML formatting such as italics.
    Some people use capital letters for emphasis, but the netiquette I grew up with frowns on this, capital letters being equivalent to yelling.

  16. Koshiro,
    My point is that they are two peoples. Unless they identify as one, or sincerely live in the same locale, then the single-state is the rational transition.

    That is NOT the case now. The people think of themselves as distinct peoples. Israelis certainly do, and likely Palestinians (though I know them less closely than I do Israelis, whom I don’t know closely, only a couple).

    And, the peoples live in largely separate regions.

    It is the textbook setting for a two-state solution, to OPTIMIZE DEMOCRACY.

  17. Suzanne-
    You were partly correct about my position. What I said was that if the Palestinians gave up the “right of return”, any Israeli gov’t would have to accept that and give up almost all the territory of Judea/Samaria, because there would be a mass media hysteria and pressure from the outside. This was the case with Sadat, and Begin, who at first tried to maintain some Israeli foothold in the Sinai at Yamit, but in the end he capitulated to the last grain of sand.
    I am not saying I and the rest of the settlement movement would approve of it, most certainly not, but I would view it as politically unstoppable.
    However, since the Arabs will not give up the “right of return”, everything I stated here is purely hypothetical.

  18. Koshiro

    Not being a military strategist–I’m going to guess that there were a variety of reasons for putting settlers there. Some reasons more cynical and sinister than others.

    However, my understanding is that they at least started out with with the purpose of using the land as a bargaining chip. (Land which they won in war by defeating the enemy) They would give it back piecemeal when peace looked plausible.

    You have to remember that Israelis are skeptical that peace is plausible with the Palestinians–certainly they didn’t think so when Arafat was in power.

    I’m not trying to offer that as a rationale…but unless you understand that (and Israeli psychology)…you’re missing a HUGE piece of the puzzle. It is what it is…right or wrong.

    Failure to understand that guarantees the status quo–no matter how much arm wrestling you’re planning on. You’re just going to wear yourself out.

  19. “Palestinians have no obligation, morally or any other way, to `reach out’ to their oppressors. It is Israelis and diaspora Jews who have a moral obligation to reach out to Palestinians.”

    This quote alone (aside from a myriad of other reasons) indicates how the “peace was achieved in South Africa” paradigm vis a vis Israelis/Palestinians has no legs.

    Check Martin Meredith’s biography on Nelson Mandela and you will read about someone who worked at learning about the culture and history of the Afrikaaners and how the Blacks could learn from them in regard to creating their own state.

    If post-Apartheid South Africa is failing, it’s not likely due to Mandela’s policy vis a vis the Afrikaaner people.

    Would the Pan African Congress have fared better?

    With no sarcasm intended, the unasked question is if the Palestinians want a state at all? Is it not proper to ask about the seemingly absent accountability and due diligence? Why is the now Parisian Suha Arafat sitting on millions of dollars, Euros and whatever currency offered by the countless NGO’s?

    Why is Gaza still reliant on the Israeli electical grid? Why was the agricultural infrastructure left over by the Gaza Israelis destroyed while the internationally-financed police force turned a blind eye?

  20. Dan, I really appreciate your point about the two sides “speaking different languages”. Two-staters largely speak practically, about what is possible. One-staters largely speak idealistically, about what is ideal. I think it is important for both sides to be able to speak both languages.

    We have to be more complete in how we talk about these things, but also more precise. For instance, a two-stater might say “One-state is a terrible idea because no one supports it.” Of course that’s an invalid statement, because the merit of the idea does not depend on the support it has at this moment. “We should not pursue a two-state solution because it will not be completely just.” Also invalid, because it is not concerned with what improvements are possible to achieve, even as it recommends action.

    But, as someone who believes in the merit of the ideal of one bi-national state (an equal accomodation of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism) and is less sure of anything on practical questions, let me urge especially against the mistake of the former quote. It seems to me that most one-state advocates are not pie-in-the-sky idealists, and make it their work first and foremost to end the occupation–effectively supporting the two-state solution.

    But the attitude, “don’t talk about one state because it can’t happen right now,” seems to be extremely prevalent. That stance can only contribute to the still-birth of what could be a great idea. Part of how to get from A to B, to answer Ibish’s question, involves simply talking about it. No one will support an idea they don’t know about, or especially one they have only heard maligned. To talk about, or even praise its merits doesn’t mean the idea has to be central to our action. But to stifle all discussions of the ideal in the interest of focusing on the possible, itself limits what is possible and can reinforce injustice.

    Suzanne: “Anybody get the vibe this is nothing more than external meddling in Israel’s sovereign affairs?” The problem with this statement is that “Israel’s affairs” are of equally great concern to Palestinians, who are denied a role in them.

    Richard: “And, the peoples live in largely separate regions.” Let’s recognize that this is because the Palestinians have been, and continue to be, forced to. Even as we deal with this reality, let’s not enshrine it or consider the violation of human rights to be a “natural” state.

  21. Keep it in your pocket if you think it is valuable. But, don’t contribute to the distortion of what is possible now.

    And, please consider whether you are being played by groups like Hamas that desire that Israel not exist as Israel.

    The sequence of BDS to one-state is the most coercive and bitter of approaches.

    A more humane approach would be to accept that Israel is Israel, and to support the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

    Rather than nothing, and rather than the extreme gamble of BDS along the South African model.

    Again, the very likely outcome of BDS success into a single state, is that shortly after, the legislature (whomever is in majority) will undertake some action that a large minority find appalling and are willing to go to war to change.

    And, following that conflict, partition would then occur, and likely with Israel controlling larger territory. And, I don’t think you realize how intimately brutal civil war is.

    Say they reach an integrated army, and then divide and kill each other within the same units, wearing the same uniforms.

    It happened to an extent the last time that Netanyahu was prime minister, with the resumption of archaeological digging near/under the Al Aqsa Mosque, and former colleagues on infrastructure development projects, took up arms against one another, even living in the same building.

    I know this is future projection, but I would gamble my house that something resembling it occurred within 5 years of a single-state by the BDS approach.

  22. When one enters a state of war, military logic of removing infrasture as war-making means becomes legitimate.

    The actions of Hamas to resume shelling of civilians following the formal ending of the cease-fire dared (even compelled) IDF to undertake military operations in Gaza.

    It initiated a state of war.

    Work to change the logic, not to blame the symptoms.

  23. Robin–the problem with YOUR statement is that you seem to believe you and the Palestinians have jurisdiction over Israeli sovereign issues.

    Considering they can’t even negotiate their way out of occupation, all I can say is “I don’t think so.”

    What none of these one staters seem to realize is that it would take a massive military operation (probably jihadist) to achieve this goal.

    Let us know when Iran gets back to you on that. haha!

  24. Richard:

    First of all, Hamas’ support or disdain for an idea does not determine its merit. And please, don’t suggest that my ideas are somehow attributable to them. That’s false and rude.

    “The sequence of BDS to one-state […]” Who is arguing that? Do I have to repeat, once again, that I’m not?

  25. Richard again:

    First of all, I was responding to a suggestion that Gazans bear direct blame for, specifically, their lack of electricity, and much of their problems in general. Direct responsibility for their economic ruin, lies, objectively, with Israel. Your statement is not related to that idea, making it seem like you’re jumping at the opportunity to score a point.

    “It initiated a state of war.” False. Israel initiated the cease-fire’s breakdown by launching an attack on Hamas in Gaza.

    There is so much else wrong with what you suggested (the idea that it was a war between two states, that destroying civilian infrastructure was legitimate, the assumption that the plant was destroyed during the war), but I REALLY don’t want to get into an extended argument about this, as it is way off-topic.

  26. Suzanne:
    Can’t you understand why, for Palestinians, a government that controls their lives as much as it does Israelis’ is their business?

  27. Robin

    Yes I can. But the issue is occupation. Not every inch and corner of the Israeli government.

    Now let me ask you this: Do you recognize the Palestinians’ own role in their unfortunate
    circumstances?

    Please answer simply yes or no.

  28. BTW–No one is disputing Richard’s and my contention that a one state solution inevitably leads to bloodbath.

    Either you’re not sure how to respond to that…or you agree and are hoping for (or are indifferent to) that outcome.

  29. Yaakov–I was pretty close in describing what you said.

    You’ll have to shout a little bit louder…some people didn’t seem to hear you. 🙂

  30. “If post-Apartheid South Africa is failing, it’s not likely due to Mandela’s policy vis a vis the Afrikaaner people.”

    No one will touch this with a 30 foot pole.

    Apartheid was indefensible…but all the BDS do-gooders barely think of South Africa anymore. They moved onto the next cause en vogue.

  31. Robin,
    I get it. You have the solidarity story of the history of the time, that holds Hamas immune to criticism, and that only Israel is responsible for deaths during wartime.

    The history includes many preceding events and conditions, certainly. But, in the period from December 17 to 27th, BEFORE Israel responded militarily, Hamas escalated shelling of civilian towns from intentional missing civilian towns into the desert, to shelling Sderot, to shelling Ashkelon, to shelling Beersheba.

    They dared, they insisted that Israel respond militarily, to protect its civilian citizens of those large and multi-cultural cities (Beersheba in particular).

    And, as they sought to hide, and many among civilian communities, they compelled the Gazan civilians to bear the brunt of Israel’s military effort. (It had already shifted from strained civilian logic to military logic.)

    Israel exceeded rational defense, in volume and in selected methods.

    But, Hamas initiated the shift in status from strained cease-fire, to war. I, Gazans, most Israelis, wish they hadn’t.

    Everybody suffered. The great progress of Hamas retaining discipline over what would functionally have been an undeniable improvement in their credibility, was shattered.

    The far left is desparate to retain the status of a determined resistance, rather than proceed to actual peace-making.

    And, as I’ve said, the left has focused on the timing of the Israeli assault as directly related to the Bush presidency, noting that Obama would not approve of military over-reaction, whereas Bush would. But, the more important functional timing was of the effect of the Hamas resumption of shelling on the Israeli election.

    I contest that Hamas choosing the begin shelling 2 days after the formal cease-fire ending rather than waiting a few months (as they are doing now happily), they functionally elected likud, rather than a kadima/labor government.

  32. Richard,

    You have to understand that it is not in Hamas’s interest to have a Kadima-Labor coalition with the possibility that it might negotiate a compromise peace agreement with the PLO or at least advance the process. Although this is only a small risk, it isn’t a risk that Hamas is prepared to assume. Hamas wants to keep the conflict going until such time as the Palestinians can reach military parity with Israel or there is an outside power that intervenes to neutralize the Israeli advantage. This power could be Iran or a resurgent Russia.

  33. @ Robin
    “Two-staters largely speak practically, about what is possible. One-staters largely speak idealistically, about what is ideal.”
    I happen to disagree. And I think that the slowly growing support for the OSS stems from the growing realization that the TSS has moved from the realm of the feasible to the realm of wishful thinking.

    @ Suzanne
    “No one is disputing Richard’s and my contention that a one state solution inevitably leads to bloodbath.”
    If you had suggested that a one state solution would lead to UFOs stepping in and taking over the Middle East, I would not have bothered with disputing it either. Because it’s simply speaking too ridiculous to pay attention to.

    “Considering they can’t even negotiate their way out of occupation, all I can say is “I don’t think so.””
    See, this is why I am in favor of sanctions (which do not have, by the way, any necessary connection to the OSS. OSS or TSS, sanctions against Israel will be necessary.)
    When you, standing firmly on Israel’s side, blame the Palestinians for… well what? Not groveling properly? Richard will jump to deny it. Not being peaceful enough while Israel feels free to enact whatever violent measures it may fancy?

    For Israel to blame the Palestinians for not being able to move Israel to end their occupation is like a prison keeper blaming his helplessly and wrongfully locked up prisoner for not properly pleading to be released. Like I wrote elsewhere, the reasons can be either sheer sadism, colossal misperceptions of reality or a dishonest desire for distraction. Which one is it in this case?

    @ Richard
    “You have the solidarity story of the history of the time, that holds Hamas immune to criticism, and that only Israel is responsible for deaths during wartime.”
    Again with the insinuations of “solidarity with Hamas.”
    Lemme make a suggestion. Let us, in our postings, basically give equal screen time to every civilian victim in the Gaza conflict, all rocket and mortar attacks included. This would mean we would be talking about a 100 times as much about Palestinian victims as about Israeli victims? Does that sound okay to you?

    See, I know your line of argument. “It was excessive, but basically justified.” No, it wasn’t. Everything else – blockade, targeted killings, anti-Hamas putsch attempts – aside: Killing people is basically illegal. It can only become legal by invoking a legal defense. In my jurisdiction – and in most others I know of – self-defense ceases to be a legal defense for murder if it was excessive. I see no reason why this should be different.

  34. Koshiro,
    Protecting one’s civilians from military assaults from a foreign militia is a responsibility of a state.

    It could NOT have not responded militarily.

    The only question possible was of what kind and what extent. And, even to that question, they did employ a strategy that was partially designed to minimize civilian deaths.

    A strategy with no regard for war crimes (either from PR fears or from actual respect for humanity) would have resulted in 50-fold increase in deaths and suffering.

    The targeting was strategic (including attacks on electrical infrastructure, roads, rails), with errors.

    The key shift was of the status from civil disagreement, “what was agreed in the cease-fire?” to overt war status, military.

    I actually agree with one element of Israeli PR on this currently.

    That is that the INTENTION, the actual goal and sole method used by Hamas was itself a war crime (shelling civilians, only civilians). In contrast, the primary method of the Israeli military was primarily strategic, and definitely include mistakes.

    There is a qualitative difference between a “war crime” intended and a “war crime” that is an error.

    I grant that the term “error” is too weak a term, that such errors result in human suffering, potentially unnecessary human suffering.

    But, I also grant that there is a difference between intended mayhem and mayhem as an error.

    The scale still exists, and the quandry of Hamas of “how do we get out of this?” still exists without an easy path short of politically damaging (street cred) compromise.

    Thats an adult choice in life though.

  35. “It could NOT have not responded militarily.”
    Sure it could. Where’s the Israeli Gandhi?

    “And, even to that question, they did employ a strategy that was partially designed to minimize civilian deaths.”
    Yeah, partially. About 0,001%, I’d say, which still is “partially”.
    The absolutely overwhelming priority the IDF had – and it is in good company with other Western militaries – was to protect their own soldiers. “Enemy” civilians are way, way down on the priority list.
    I always remember an interview with the notorious Col. Ralph Peters I read in some adult magazine (I think it was Playboy) when I still served in the navy. He probably thought that for such a publication, he could talk freely, and so he openly said “I would rather kill 10000 Iraqi civilians than lose a single US soldier.”
    And that’s, basically, the bottom line. The IDF would rather kill an indetermined, but very high, number of Palestinian civilians than put even one of its own soldiers at risk. The grotesque misrelations between civilian loss of life and IDF casualties shows us that they are pretty good at it, too.

    “There is a qualitative difference between a “war crime” intended and a “war crime” that is an error.”
    War crimes are, per definition, either intentional or the result of criminal neglect. There is no difference between them as to whether they are part of a deliberate political strategy or committed by soldiers individually. (Not that Hamas could not very well make the case that they only aim for “militarily relevant” targets such as bridges, power plants and police stations, but alas, their weapons are not accurate enough.)
    And of course, for the victims and their families, these fine lines don’t matter in the slightest.

  36. Koshiro

    You think a bloodbath is a ridiculous predicted outcome of a one state solution?

    Fair enough…I think an asteroid hitting California is more likely than a one state solution in this millenia or the next.

    However… if it ever happens by some freak accident–my $2000 says “bloodbath.”

  37. BTW Koshiro–I said it to Robin and I’ll say it to you…

    until you can assign about 50% of the blame to Palestinians for this mess (70% is more realistic…but I’ll make it easy for you)–you will be on the sidelines forever.

    The one state solution is more like a social engineering thesis that has no application in the real world.

  38. “You think a bloodbath is a ridiculous predicted outcome of a one state solution?”
    Oh yes. Especially ridiculous is the notion that the OSS would lead to a “bloodbath” but the TSS won’t. Why, exactly?
    And spare me your tired “balance” demands. I don’t play the blame game by percentage. I prefer to use numbers where apt, for example in nicely and easily measurable categories such as fatalities.

  39. Koshiro-
    In Israel, the term “one-state solution” is almost universally euphemism for “throwing the Jews into the sea”, i.e. the bloodbath you are talking about.
    Up until the mid-1960’s, the Arabs spoke openly of getting rid of the Jews. As the USSR increased their influence over Nasser, Arafat, the Syrians and others in the Middle East, they were told not to say that because it offended potential allies in other countries, so the PLO started talking about the “single, secular state”. But, everyone knows what the consequences of a “single-state” would be…we see how the Christians are being driven out of many Arab/Muslim states, and the Muslims don’t have the degree of resentment against them as they do the Jews in Israel.

  40. I meant to say that “in Israel, talk of a ‘single-state’ is universally UNDERSTOOD to mean ‘throwing the Jews into the sea'”.

  41. In this case I can only say: Get rid of your knee-jerk, emotionally charged interpretation of the term. It’s irrational – especially considering how Jews would still be either the majority or a very sizeable minority in that state.
    It’s likewise entirely irrational to think that Palestinians can be expected to welcome the former settlers in their new state and treat them as fellow citizens, but for some reason couldn’t be expected to treat them in the same way in a single state.
    I take it you support a… what’s the term “judenrein” West Bank, then?

  42. Listening to Jeremy Ben-Ami right now on On Point.

    You can catch it again tonight at 7 pm, I believe.

    He is very diplomatic and reasonable–and doesn’t seem antagonistic towards AIPAC at all. The supporter who called in gave a positive nod to AIPAC as well. Sounds like he wants to be a complement–not an opponent.

    Good stuff. Catch this if you can!

    Marty Peretz is giving him a good challenge on giving up settlements without getting something immediately in return.

  43. Au contraire. Le réalité et moi, nous sommes amis.

    Im Uebrigen war die Frage nach dem Begriff rein rhetorisch. Der ist mir bestens bekannt.

    Now that we’re done showing off our language proficiencies – I could add Japanese to the mix, but it probably wouldn’t show up properly – can we return to the subject?

  44. Koshiro-
    What’s irrational about the fear of “one state solution” meaning “throwing the Jews into the sea”? That’s exactly what they intend to do, just as they are driving the Christians out of the country, and the whole Middle East, for that matter. Just read the hate propaganda coming out of countries THAT ARE AT “PEACE” WITH ISRAEL.
    You think I’m paranoid? So is Benny Morris, and he is a Leftist. So I am in good company.

  45. Benny Morris is a leftist? The guy who defended 1948 on the grounds that white America displaced the Native Americans and rightly so, because their civilization is superior?

    Actually, I’ll grant that some lefties have been racists, so with that in mind maybe Morris is a leftist.

    BTW, I’m not the same person as Don, though I’d be happy to claim his posts.

  46. Richard, nobody “forced” Israel to invade Gaza. I think we need to have a lesson about direct and indirect responsibility. But the fact is that Israel also had a BETTER option–diplomacy–for ending rocket fire, assuming that was its goal. The fact that they declined to pursue further diplomacy, and that they had planned the invasion months in advance, puts that assumption into question.

    But we need to straighten out how we’re talking about responsibility. Would you argue that Israel was responsible for suicide attacks against its civilians? Probably not, because Palestinian militants clearly bore DIRECT responsibility. Who bears direct responsibility for the invasion of Gaza, the blockade, the occupation, the wall, etc.? Undeniably, Israel. If you want to talk about indirect responsibility, understand that, at the very least, it goes both ways. But the truth is that Israel has immeasurably more power to impose on the Palestinians conditions that compel a reaction. More power, more responsibility. Meaning, full direct responsibility for their own actions, and arguably more indirect responsibility for the actions of the other side.

    What I’m hearing from you, Suzanne and Richard, is that the Palestinians are responsible for their own misdeeds AND Israel’s brutal actions. A classic attribution bias, which suggests a thought process subjugated by emotional attachment to Israel.

  47. Hamas is responsible for its participation in shifting a conflict to a state of war.

    I’m not sure how more clear I can be.

    Koshiro,
    In response to military assault (rockets fired on civilians), military response is THE appropriate and effective measure.

    I know that you are horribly reluctant to attribute any criticism of Hamas in this exchange, but they deserve a GREAT DEAL.

  48. “What I’m hearing from you, Suzanne and Richard, is that the Palestinians are responsible for their own misdeeds AND Israel’s brutal actions. A classic attribution bias, which suggests a thought process subjugated by emotional attachment to Israel.”

    I too, lament that the choreography or war is not as graceful or Swan Lake. Maybe Israel should consult with Nureyev’s ghost…

    I realize my sarcasm is heading into full swing now…but this refusal to accept that the IP “conflict” is war simply boggles the mind.

    It’s understood all of us have taken sides in some fashion or other…

    But most on this forum (except the lefties and Yaakov)–are willing to assign responsibility to both sides for this WAR.

    I’m willing to come down hard on the Israelis in direct proportion to your willingness to put 50% of the blame on the Palestinians.

    Even Yaakov said that if the bellicose desire to give up “right of return” was abandoned…Israel would be forced to give up Judea and Samaria (whether he likes it or not)

    You refuse to address this. That speaks VOLUMES.

  49. typo corrections: I too, lament that the choreography of war is not as graceful as Swan Lake. Maybe Israel should consult with Nureyev’s ghost…

  50. Uhg: I’m bad this morning. I meant to say: Even Yaakov said that if the bellicose desire for “right of return” was abandoned…

  51. Suzanne, 50/50 responsibility is an arbitrary number. This “war” as you call it is composed of events, including violations of human rights and the laws of war. For each violation, each outrage, I will assign responsibility to the person or group that perpetrated the action.

  52. Suzanne, I can provide more specifics. I see you are reading the actual Goldstone report, which is very commendable. I assume that will provide much more specific and accurate information than I could, although about a more circumscribed topic.

    But I hold Israel directly responsible for the majority of avoidable civilian deaths, civilian injuries, an apartheid-like occupation with settler-colonies in the West Bank (martial law in places, and denial of political rights in the state based on ethnicity), impunity for settler terrorism in the West Bank, an illegal wall on Palestinian land in the West Bank, extrajudicial executions, mass arrests and detention without adequate due process (state kidnapping), torture and mistreatment of Palestinian detainees, unjustified home demolitions, arbitrary seizure of Palestinian property, the blockade of basic civilian goods in Gaza, the comprehensive destruction of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure, and the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields.

    I hold Hamas responsible for rocket fire that does not discriminate military vs. civilian targets, and past terrorism targeting Israeli civilians–these include a minority of the avoidable/wrongful civilian deaths and injuries, as well as civilian property destruction. I also hold Fatah/PA responsible for past terrorism/condoning of terrorism. In addition, I hold them responsible for human rights violations against Palestinians and widespread corruption, but these are not violations against Jews or Israel (important but basically outside the conflict).

  53. In short, Israel’s violations have consistently been more numerous, and on a much larger scale than those of Palestinian factions.

  54. Robin–despite your gracious and somewhat dispassionate tone–I find you very rigid in your views.

    I can’t fathom one ever getting so much as an olive branch from you.

  55. @ Y. Ben-David
    “What’s irrational about the fear of “one state solution” meaning “throwing the Jews into the sea”?”

    Where to start? It’s nonsensical to believe that a very thin majority (or maybe even a minority) of Arab citizens could force out the rest of the population out of the country, especially with said part holding most of the key positions in society. It’s likewise nonsensical that such an arrangement should come into being in absence of a general peace treaty with all Arab nations and moreso that the international community should not give assurances to that effect.

    @ Richard
    “In response to military assault (rockets fired on civilians), military response is THE appropriate and effective measure.”

    That’s your opinion, but you stated that Israel *could* literally not have done anything else. That was wrong – proven, if nothing else, by the fact that they did not resort to a full-blown military operation for years of (mostly ineffective) rocket attacks. But of course also proven by simple common sense.
    And that, of course, still leaves the question how bulldozing chicken farms, to take one example, is in any way an appropriate response to anything. And no, it does not become acceptable by some tedious connection to other actions which might be termed self-defense. Shimon Peres is dead wrong when he thinks that “self-defense” is some sort of umbrella under which there is more leeway for war crimes than under “aggression”.

  56. My convictions are firm, but I am open to alternate views if they are backed by good information.

    And I am all about olive branches. Because of the U.S. relationship to Israel, I basically consider Israel to be my side in the conflict. I wouldn’t consider it useful to primarily criticize the other side, to no effect on their behavior, and simply hope that they change (extending an olive branch). So I want to do what I can, as an American, to see that our allies extend an olive branch to the other side, in order to end this conflict that we’re so deeply involved in.

    America’s aid to Israel currently makes us immoral enablers of the violations I listed above, but it also gives us leverage to pursue solutions.

  57. I am confused by your invocation of litanies.

    There are other options than “they are good/they are evil”.

    I suggest you look further into the methodology that facilitates reform. The Goldstone report for example, does in ways facilitate reform in that it is a detailed report by a third party. Specific deficiencies in training, decision processes are identified, even if not complete from a military perspective.

    Many of the terms that you use are not oriented to reform, and in their rhetoric (beyond the purpose of description) hinder the effort for reform.

    Its a question of the level of your investment into the effort. The role of external dissenter is really a preliminary role. “This is wrong. They are bad.” is a first step only.

    Once one gets committed (not to louder, but to actual helping), the effort shifts to “what can I do that will realize some change?” That includes the question “What should I avoid to keep the eye on the prize?”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.