Friday, January 9, 2009

The Frustrating Economist

The most popular article on the website of Time Magazine this morning is titled Can Israel Survive Its Assault on Gaza? It's long, and I didn't manage to read it all way through. Unlike the malice of the Guardian, which intrigues me, the article at Time is simply clueless. Whoever put it together has no understanding of the Middle East, past present or future, and no clue about human nature. I suppose I ought to parse it to expose the utter silliness of the folks at a magazine that must have many millions of loyal readers, but I can't seem to find the energy.

Jeffrey Goldberg sums it up:
Which one will last longer: Israel, or Time Magazine? I'm betting on Israel.
The Economist is a different matter. Unlike the Guardian and its ilk, (and, I have to believe, Time Magazine), the Economist probably comes as close as any media outlet to being influential, both because it's an intelligent paper which respects the intelligence of its readers, and thereby may win their reciprocal respect, and also because it really tries to know what it's talking about. It even regularly publishes letters from its readers chiding it on its inaccuracies.

It's not a Zionist paper, by any stretch of the imagination. When it unfairly blamed Israel for the outbreak of violence that was the second intifada, in October 2000 ("Israel must give up its greed for Palestinian territories and accept a Palestinian state") I canceled my subscription and mostly shunned them for a number of years. (Come to think of it, I never canceled my subscription to the Guardian. Probably because I never had one). By and by, however, I inched back: Israel beat the 2nd intifada because Arik Sharon didn't read the European press and thus was unaware we had no choice but to abjectly surrender to the Palestinians; various Islamists forced an awareness of their maliciousness on at least some people, and so on. It also must be said that the Economist is not antisemitic. Exasperating at times, but it's a free world and most people with opinions exasperate somebody most of the time.

This week's cover story at the Economist is titled "The Hundred Years War", accompanied by a dramatic photo. The very title appealed to me, because it puts the historical depth of the issue right where it belongs, at the very beginning and over-arching everything else. The article delivers on the promise of the title. There's about, oh, 10% of it which I'd quibble with, but these days it's not so common to find an article about Israel where one disagrees with a mere 10%.

Until the very last paragraph. After all the reasonably balanced analysis, what's the bottom line?

There is a limit, however. Taking Hamas down a peg is one thing. But even in the event of Israel “winning” in Gaza, a hundred years of war suggest that the Palestinians cannot be silenced by brute force. Hamas will survive, and with it that strain in Arab thinking which says that a Jewish state does not belong in the Middle East. To counter that view, Israel must show not only that it is too strong to be swept away but also that it is willing to give up the land—the West Bank, not just Gaza—where the promised Palestinian state must stand. Unless it starts doing that convincingly, at a minimum by freezing new settlement, it is Palestine’s zealots who will flourish and its peacemakers who will fall back into silence. All of Israel’s friends, including Barack Obama, should be telling it this.

Some Arabs emphatically and fundamentally reject the right of Jews to control any part of the Middle East, as the Economist tells in the article itself, so what's the solution? Israel must give up land and Obama must force it to do so.


Butchie! said...

If you ever want any website work done such as to jazz up your blog, you have a volunteer.

Anonymous said...


From your blog, I learned of Jeffrey Goldberg. And, his book, PRISONERS, which came, today, from Amazon.


On the back cover, the first recommendation is written by MALCOLM GLADWELL. (One of my favorite authors.) He states: "Jeffrey Goldberg has done the impossible -- found some hope in the rubble of the Middle East. Prisoners will bring you to tears."

Thanks for the tip.