Sunday, March 28, 2010

Peace With Whom, Exactly?

Sulzman, a recent reader who attributes positions to me which I don't hold, comments:
What exactly don't you think Obama doesn't get about Israelis? I think he gets Israelis exactly right, which is that they've become complacent about the peace process, and perhaps understandably so, given developments over the last 10 years. But for the U.S. that's a big problem. I thought this article by Tom Friedman today pretty much got it right.
The Friedman column is here, and indeed makes a similar point: that Israelis no longer care about making peace.

In a truly weird development, Fake Ibrahim supplies the answer, though of course his intentions were rather the opposite:
One year after the Israeli invasion of Gaza, people you were acquainted with continue to die at the border. In the past two weeks a foreign worker and three soldiers were killed: compare that to less than 30 Israeli deaths in the whole Qassam years. It looks like Cast Lead was a failure. How many Peretz's are you prepared to sacrifice before you admit that force alone won't bring you security?
Whether the Gaza Operation was successful or not, it's still too early to know. It brought a year of calm, that's beyond argument; what happens now we don't know, but can hope that the calm will return. In either case, the answer to your question, Fake Ibrahim, is that we'll sacrifice as many people as we need to sacrifice, and for as long as it takes even if it be another century or two, but we won't give up. Or to put it more bluntly, we'll make every reasonable effort not to sacrifice anyone, but if needs be, we'll keep at it until the Palestinians decide the conflict is no longer worth the sacrifices it demands of them.

Yet the mystifying part of the story is that uninformed and malicious Fake Ibrahim gets it, while Sulzamn, who was here not long ago, and Friedman, whose profession it ought to be to know better, don't. Fake Ibrahim understands that we can't be enjoying the lack of peace and the losses of life this requires, while Friedman thinks
To put it another way, the collapse of the peace process, combined with the rise of the wall, combined with the rise of the Web, has made peacemaking with Palestinians much less of a necessity for Israel and much more of a hobby. Consciously or unconsciously, a lot more Israelis seem to believe they really can have it all: a Jewish state, a democratic state and a state in all of the Land of Israel, including the West Bank — and peace.
Does the name Ehud Olmert ring a bell? He won an election here in 2006 by promising we'd leave the West Bank even without peace, and then in 2008 (September 2008: that's all of 18 months ago) offered the "moderate" Palestinians not only 100% of the West Bank but even East Jerusalem. The response? There never was one. Abu Mazen never responded, hoping (correctly, as it turned out) that Obama would be elected and he'd wring more concessions from Israel. (Well, he was right about Obama. It remains to see if Obama manages to deliver: I expect not).

Friedman's column - like most of the discourse about all the things the Israelis "must understand", is arrogant, uninformed, unintelligent, and coming from someone with his pay-grade, offensive. Israeli cab drivers and tomato merchants are better informed about the details of this area: and they have to be, since it's their lives, or the lives of their children, which will be lost if the wrong decisions are made - or more accurate, whenever the wrong decisions are made.

Newsflash for the ignoramusi, from the White House down: we understand our situation, and don't much like it. Sadly, all possible alternatives at this stage are worse. Those of you with true power, if there are any of you, might try to help by convincing the Palestinians to make a deal. But if you don't have that power - and you probably don't - then at least stop preachifying. It makes you look unserious.

As a former Lefty and current centrist, it pains me that you've got to go all the way to The Weekly Standard to find thoughtful descriptions of how destructive the Obama policies are, and how dangerous for the people who live here, but there you have it. Here. Then again, perhaps you don't need to go to the Weekly Standard. Simply read the mainstream, PA- ("Moderate")-controlled press. Here, translated into English.


Anonymous said...

which reminds me that Owen Bennett Jones got all exasperated when the Mayor of Jerusalem told him that at least in the beginning a Palestinian state wouldn't get an army - do these people ever look at maps?

Barry Meislin said...

The choices the Palestinians have presented Israel are:

1. Dismantle yourself (by agreeing to our conditions)
2. Be destroyed (if you don't)

Israel's response is,

3. Um, sorry, no (all the while trying to ensure that the living standards of the Palestinians in the W. Bank improves---but the Palestinians know they're being "bought" and they don't like it one bit).

Israel's response, is admittedly, not very conducive to a resolution.

And so Israel can assuredly be blamed by anyone (and everyone) who refuses to admit to 1 and 2 above; but focuses solely on 3 (which I'd have to say is most of the world, goaded by a pathetic media.

Of course, if I were I a control freak, I too would likely agree that it's Israel's fault. After all, if someone wants to destroy you, it's likely your own fault, n'est-ce pas? (And so so many Jews are sufficiently intelligent to rationalize just why this should be the case....)

But in fact, given the whole context, it can only be Israel's fault because it insists on existing.

....So much so that Israel's existence is now no longer supported by the world community....which means that instead of ignoring points 1 and 2; global opinion has begun to heartily agree with them.

For which, of course, Israel is to blame.

A perfect circularity, aesthetically appealing and philosophically sound.

....So that how can anyone in their right mind agree that Israel has the right to exist?

4infidels said...

The more I think about Friedman's column, the more it angers me.

As long as the Jews can make a buck, why should they concern themselves with achieving a peace agreement that would benefit their friends in the U.S.? Friedman would never put it quite that crudely, but he come pretty darn close.

The wall hasn't prevented Israel from two wars over the past half-decade and it didn't prevent those two beautiful souls from losing their lives the other day from a conflict that Israelis have taken great risks, and made generous offers, in an attempt to end.

Does Friedman think that Israelis find the death of those two IDF soldiers a reasonable cost to most Israelis? Does he think they are ok with being hated throughout their region and having a pariah status throughout much of the world? Does he not think that most Israelis would give up money and material possessions if it would mean not having their children's lives put at risk due to the conflict? And those Israelis who don't want their country to give up land as part of a deal with the Palestinians, I would think that many of them feel that way due to the Arab-Palestinian history of not honoring agreements and the Muslim reverence for the Treaty of Al-Hudabiyyah, which Muhammad made with the Meccans--and then violated once his side was stronger--and which serves as the model for all Muslim treaty making.

For thousands of years, through persecution, expulsions and genocide, the Jews have gone on living, loving, learning, and laughing, as well as creating and inventing things that improve life for everyone. That's how they survived despite less than ideal circumstances.

When it comes to any other group, this would be cause for celebration. Now even this traditional Jewish virtue is turned into a reason to put down Israel. What should Israelis do? Give up on life because their enemies won't agree to a reasonable peace treaty?

My prior comments regarding Friedman's column were posted here:

Barry Meislin said...

...a reasonable peace treaty...

You (and others) are continually making the same mistake!! (That means emphasis.).

"Reasonable" for whom? For what end?

Moreover, "peace"??!! "Peace"??!! The definition of "peace" is "Palestine from the Jordan to the sea." (Sorry to disabuse you.)

And so what's reasonable for you is reasonable for others? What arrogance! (But of course, most of us---all of us?---think this way, well, mostly...(heh)).

And what's reasonable for Israel is reasonable for the Palestinians?? What arrogance!! (I seem to have this thing about repeating myself.)

OK. What is reasonable, then, for the Palestinians? (Hint: See #1 and #2 in my previous post.) And, bud, if that ain't reasonable for you, then who the hell are you??

Someone who cares about Israel??

Well, I'll tell you something:
Since nobody (polemically speaking) believes that #1 and #2 are what the Palestinians really want (even though the Palestinians claim it again and again---I guess that means that all those earnest folks must think the Palestinians are liars, or children (but then, the earnest have an excuse: they're progressive humanists(!) after all (or journalists, or politicians, or philosphers?))---where was I?, oh yes---and believe that #3 (above, yes I know, I'm excessively self-referential), that is, Israel, is responsible for gumming up the works, then your idea of "reasonableness" is absolutely meaningless.

And the fact that the inmates have taken charge of the asylum is not going to get much traction---since it's those same inmates that you're trying to convince of your reasonableness and their mistakenness.

Which means that Israel had better be able to defend itself because almost all the conditions are almost all in place for the shyte to hit the fan.

In other words, with Obama's strange wisdom, the noose around Israel is just about firmly in place.

Or if you wish, by having joined itself to the far-ranging armies of perversity, the American administration is about to insert the last piece of the puzzle called the Middle East.

(Well, OK. maybe the Czech Republic will give Israel some moral support.)

NormanF said...

Its not like Israel hasn't tried for 17 years to reach an understanding with the other side. The vast majority of Israeli Jews have reached the conclusion that no matter what Israel does, it will never be accepted in the region. If Israelis are sick of concessions for peace, its that the other side makes no effort to reciprocate Israeli goodwill; there are just new demands by the day that never seem to end.

And in backing Palestinian obduracy, all the Obama White House and Europe is succeeding in doing is losing the Israeli Man In The Street. While Israel would be happy to get a good peace deal with the other side, the hard truth is there is no Palestinian partner.

The two-state solution and the peace process for all extents and purposes, dead. The Palestinians killed it. Perhaps one day they can look in the mirror and see how they screwed up such an opportunity. What is safe to say is there will be no peace with them in our generation.

Barry Meislin said... they screwed up such an opportunity.

Once again, your assumptions are wrong. Absolutely wrong. (Don't take it personally. You're not alone on this; not by a long shot. There's plenty of company.)

Peace with Israel has never been an "opportunity" for the Palestinians. because it has never been their goal. It is still not their goal.

(For an example of duelling definitions, one might want to take a step backward and determine what it is that "peace" really means; how it is defined. Does it mean the same thing for you as it does for them? ---Remember, e.g., Arafat's "Peace of the brave"?)

So that from the point of view of the Palestinians, there is no "opportunity" to have been "missed"---if you define "opportunity" as "peace with and alongside Israel."

(Abba Eban, for all his brilliance, was also, similarly, incorrect in his assumptions. His well-known epigram was/is clever; but it is irrelevant, anon sequitur; and it always was.

The only "opportunity" that the Palestinians may have missed so far is the "opportunity" to destroy Israel. But they are still working at it, so it is not, in a real sense, an opportunity.

It is, rather, a goal for which they are looking for an opportunity to achieve.

To recap: Israel's---and Abba Eban's and your---definition of "opportunity" (like that of "peace") is certainly not the Palestinians'. They haven't missed any opportunities. They just haven't succeeded yet. Yet.

4infidels said...

Barry Meislin,

You misunderstood what I meant in the context in which I used the term "...a reasonable peace treaty..."

I did not mean that the Palestinians consider it a reasonable peace treaty. I was referring to what the "peace process" and "two state-solution" supporters consider reasonable to both sides. And when the Palestinians don't play their role, the anger of the "peace crowd" grows against Israel as Israel has shown the willingness over the years to accept less than everything she might want.

I happen to agree with you that the Palestinians mean what they say. I have posted for years on the web under "4infidels" so you can see for yourself. There is no difference between the goals of Hamas and Fatah; the only difference is in style and tactics.

Regarding the Friedman story, I also wrote--if you follow the link from my previous post--about the Treaty of Al-Hudabiyyah. Why would you think someone who brings up Al-Hudabiyyah as the model for Muslim treaty-making, would have any illusions about the aims of the Palestinians?

I love the discussions we have on this site and I am open to debating with people of various points of view. I would appreciate not being hit with friendly fire from those with whom I have no disagreement.

4infidels said...

FYI Barry Meislin,

I posted this here a few days back:

Israel needs Judea, Samaria and the Golan--no I'm not calling it the West Bank just because the Jordanian occupiers named it that in hopes of erasing its Jewish history--for its survival. That is why I support Israel holding every inch of territory.

Here is the whole comment:

Let's look at the benefits to Israel of the Egyptian peace treaty. Sadat may be the finest of the Arab leaders since Israel's birth, but that is not saying much. Sadat was a passionate admirer and supporter of the Nazis during WWII; he told his troops before the 1973 war that it was their Islamic duty to recover the land of Israel from the infidels; he was motivated by Islam to attack the Coptic Christian community in Egypt, promoting their persecution and diminishing their rights and security, essentially putting the dhimmis in their place; Sadat wore a tie with Swastikas on it during his speech to the Knesset in the late 1970s. Since he was assassinated we have no way of knowing if he would have seriously kept the promises made at Camp David.

Once Egypt received the entire Sinai from Israel, all of their commitments were forgotten. Egypt recalled its ambassador from Israel, stopped encouraging cultural ties and tourism and promoted anti-semitic incitement as ugly as any in the world. Egyptian troops have allowed the smuggling of weapons through tunnels into Gaza. In addition to the Sinai, Egypt has received more than 70 billion dollars of U.S. aid, including top-notch modern weaponry that makes it a far bigger threat to Israel than it would have been if Israel held on to the Sinai and Egypt still had to get by with its outdated Soviet arsenal.

Israel has had the same quiet on its border with Syria as it has had with Egypt, only Syria doesn't have a first-rate American trained and equipped fighting force and hasn't benefitted from billions in U.S. aid nor from the same undeserved international goodwill that Egypt has from its peace-treaty with Israel.

Israel needs Judea, Samaria and the Golan--no I'm not calling it the West Bank just because the Jordanian occupiers named it that in hopes of erasing its Jewish history--for its survival. That is why I support Israel holding every inch of territory.

Barry Meislin said...

No, we don't disagree.

And yet you continue to use words like "reasonable," "peace," and "treaty," which have no meaning in this context, at least in the way in which I understand you to use them.

(Yes, I realize it's hard not to. I really do. Still, you use those words as if they do have some kind of meaning. One might wish they did. One might expect they did. But they don't, except as devices to further delegitimize Israel---or baseball bats (cricket bats?) with which to bludgeon it.)

They're not even onomatopaiec....

4infidels said...


I often put words like "peace" and "peace process" and "two-state solution" in quotes, but sometimes I don't.

We can all agree that a "peace treaty" is a piece of paper that two sides put their signature. Obama, Tom Friedman and Sulzman think that what follows is two sides ending hostilities. I think that "peace treaty" is a piece of paper that Arabs sign with no intention of honoring.

To me, the term "Islam" refers to an imperialist, supremacist political ideology bent on jihad against all non-believers until the whole world submits to Sharia law. To others, Islam is a "religion of peace." But we can both use the term"Islam" and be understood by everyone as referring to the creed of Muslims, even if we have different views of what that creed contains.

We do need to take back the language as the entire discussion is based on the Pal-Arab and Muslim phony narrative, which Israel accepted when they entered the Oslo process. It has done Israel great damage.

joseph said...

Dr. Lozowick,

I think there are two main reasons for the Obama approach:

1. We tend to believe that other people think like we do. In America, the goal of negotiation is to reach an agreement. But the goal of the Palestinians is not necessarily to reach an agreement, rather it is to win the negotiation. It is apparently difficult for many to understand that difference in approach to the process.
2. Those in the role of mediator, especially those new to the process, view the process as more important than the result In other words the goal is to reach an agreement, any agreement, no matter how unfair. The inexperienced mediator will pressure the side he believes is most vulnerable to that pressure That may work in the short term, but the parties will ultimately realize that the best approach to take is to be seen as having the most inflexible position as that will lead the mediator to pressure the other side


Anonymous said...

Joe 5348
it is not only the inexperienced mediator who pressures the more vulnerable/eager side, the side which is willing or even eager to get somewhere to get it over with
- it is the experienced and hitherto lauded as successful mediator BECAUSE he/she has a reputation to loose. There is his/her status at risk - his/her chance of enhancing his/her saviour glory of being hailed as "the One" - who of course never thinks of the figures on the book contracts and speaking engagements to come ...
There is no disinterested mediator - the mediator's stake in the process is his/her own fame and thus the party that is able to best contribute to enhancing that claim for becoming a hero of the history books, a beloved of all, will get the best treatment.
Goethe has a mysterious sentence in Faust II: Hope and Fear are the biggest enemies of mankind - Fear is a bit too obvious to my taste (fear nothing but fear itself - grrr) but since Goethe was a pretty clever guy I think he may have been up to something with Hope.

Google tells me you start holidaying tonight - have a wonderful time -

Anonymous said...

more gloom and sadly utterly convincing
the teaser is just the beginning - I wish it would feel just a wee bit hyperbole but it doesn't ...

"But now it has become reasonable to ask whether the Obama White House is running amuck on Israel, whether it is pushing friction so far out of proportion that it is starting to seem a vendetta based on hostility and ideology. And if that's true, there is little Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or any Israeli leader can do to fix the problem.

A partial explanation of such behavior can be called, to borrow a phrase from the health law debate, a "single-payer option" as its Middle East strategy. "

Anonymous said...

ah what a relief a European is - finally - in favour ;((

ah and here's a clue to what the Israelis couldn't stomach???


"Mr Obama respects communication which is clear and without ambiguity," said the French-speaking adviser. "There is no time wasted trying to be too polite and not trying to offend anyone."

Sergio said...

The relentless intellectual lazyness/ignorance diplayed by journalists is one sure sign of the abysmal failure of higher education in the social sciences. Basic concepts such as impartiality, intellectual honesty, historical background (at least within the time-frame of decades) objectivity, critical thinking and, last but not least, *truth*, are consciously debased.

Again, thanks to the postmodernism/relativism establishment,
sheer idiocy is being mutiplied on a daily basis.


4infidels said...

What happened to Sulzman? He started this discussion about Friedman's article, which he endorsed, and has had nothing to say since Yaacov and others responded.

Lee Ratner said...

I'm going to have to side with Sulzman. While it would be nice for Jews to have the entirety of Eretz Israel as a Jewish state, its better to have a Jewish state. I believe that holding the West Bank and Gaza indefinitely is a no-go. Eventually the demographics are going to pick up with Israel. Its better to let them go now. It won't create peace in the traditional sense but at least Israel would be defending what is recognized as Israel.

BTW, many posters here have been presenting as monolithic theocratic block of people. There are over a billion Muslims and accusing them all of being Islamists is stereotyping. It'd be like presenting every Jew as being like the worst of the settlers.

Yaacov said...

Lee -

Israel has left Gaza. We're no longer "holding" it, so its demographics are irrelevant.

To a degree, we've also left most of the West Bank. The reason there's a PA prime minister is that the Palestinians elect their own government, which manages large chunks of their lives.

Finally, while there seem to be some people who comment on this blog who are in favor of what you call "having the entirety of Eretz Israel", this is neither the reality nor the position of a large majority of Israelis, nor even the position of any Israeli government since 1993.

Anonymous said...

there is no monolithic theocratic block of Muslims, at least not in my country, but the narrowly focused part of Muslims living in my country (10, 15, 20 %) create again and again and again the impression that they have managed to hijack the issue which hurts and infuriates regular Muslims as much as it does us a bit longer native ones.

And amazing enough the most prominent figures for upholding something as simple as a democratic life-style for muslim women in this country also gets denounced by the know-everything-better intellectuariat as Enlightenment-Fundamentalism. And those of us who love those women for teaching us that we actually have some values worth defending are called Islamophobes. Paul Berman's book on that will come out shortly. He will be able to describe the conundrum a lot better than I can.

And in a way our government and apparently the British one also has to kind of helplessly play along because having partners to deal with is a necessity for anybody wanting to regulate anything or fund anything and the most strict representatives and resentment mongerers seem to be the only ones having been able to come up with a club and spokesmen and even one spokeswoman or whatever themselves. Thus they get media time and they become even more prominent and so it goes on and on and the government holds out by inviting muslim individuals who have valuable things to say but that effort doesn't seem to change the dooming success of the strict, the committed ones i.e. the ones with defined goals.

As always the reasonable intelligent voices are individual voices and the 10 percenters hijacking of the stage seems to be unstoppable.

and so it will be very interesting to see whether Israel when helping its Arab-Israelis will find a way to avoid that Catch 22 because surely their Arabs have hijacking shouters/yellers too which plague the rest of their Arab citizens just as our Turkish strutters damage the rest of our Turkish neighbours. My bet and my hope is that they'll find a wedge.