Monday, March 22, 2010

Three Periphal Comments to Obamacare

Over the past few weeks we've had the need for a number of medical interventions a notch more serious than sniffles and sore throats. Nothing major, thankfully, but the sort of things that happen in life. In each case we were struck by the degree to which the level of service is improving over time. The intelligent application of technology to health service in a universal system makes life better, it's that simple.

Over the past 18 months or so I've made the mistake, three or four times, of putting a toenail in the general proximity of the American health care discussion. I was pleased to see that there are readers of this blog from both sides of the Great Political Divide of American politics, so in each case I was treated to torrents of - well, it wasn't abuse, but it certainly was reprimands for having got it all wrong. I should probably simply shut up this morning, the day after Obama passed a health insurance law, or Congress did at his behest, or something. But we bloggers, we talk too much by definition, else we wouldn't blog.... so here goes.

1. A rich society - and America is - should be able to protect its members from the harm of not having reliable health insurance. There are different ways of reaching that goal, but since I'm an firm believer in democracy, my fundamental belief is that democratic societies mostly figure out reasonably correct means to achieve the common goals. So if the United States is now a bit closer to being a good society (no society is ever near perfection), in the long run this should make America stronger. Given the alternatives, a strong America based on a healthy American society is good for the world (and good for Israel). So yesterday's legislation, I hope, is more a good thing than a bad thing.

2. It is hugely ironic that on the day of his historic achievement, Obama is being compared favorably to Lyndon Johnson. I'm old enough to remember how LBJ was literally drummed out of town by the political forebears - indeed, in many cases, by the very same individuals - who today are crowing over Obama's political victory. What can I say? Hee hee hee.

3. World history and the Jewish question. After all, at the end of the day we all ask ourselves what world history does for us. There can be no doubt that when Netanyahu meets Obama tomorrow, the meeting will be different for the outcome of yesterday's vote. Perhaps even dramatically so. Yet if there was one irrevocable thing I learned from the disintegration of my worldview in late 2000, when the political positions I had believed in and preached for my entire adult life came crashing down about me, it was that reality is stronger than any conceivable spin machine. The president has just had a political victory at home. This doesn't make his ineptitude in the Middle East any different than it was last week. Many Americans may or may not be impressed by his ability; the rest of the world is still the same complicated world.


Anonymous said...

my first thought this morning was "now the Obama-is-the-saviour and Israel should be a Disney-land look-alike" commentariate will crow and triumph, adulate and ululate without end.

Hopefully the unintended consequence will be that people get tired of their oh so refined aestetics which they have no matter how generously they make use the f-word and their claim that it is tough love with love in capital letters they are advocating for when it comes to Israel.
btw Isn't it baffling that the understand-everything-crowd gets so fired up by the prospect of tough love being dispensed?

In the meantime I hope that the bill relieves anxieties for those most in need really fast and efficiently - to know there is no need to worry about essential health care cost for oneself and one's neighbour is one of the true luxuries.


PS: another interesting angle I am waiting to learn more about is the Armenian question - Pelosi is lauded to the hilt this morning, she is Armenian - will she use her augmented power to get going with the issue and thus alienate Turkey after Israel is being chastised endlessly these days of getting uppity with her?

another PS: I hate interesting times ...

This Is Hell said...

An unassailable platitude about healthcare is simply that. No more no less. The path they've taken to fix it is, unfortunately horribly flawed. You can expect a few things: 1) employer subsidized plans will increase in cost more than 40%. 2) large employers will drop all subsizes plans, forcing those people to forage on their own. 3) Obama is concurrently moving to grant nearly all illegal aliens amnesty, pushing them into the health care system as well and 4) no one has addressed costs only who will pay for the coverage that many people can't or won't.

4infidels said...

With all the attention on the healthcare issue, it made me think about how this relates to any possible peace settlement with the Palestinians. You know this will be one of many issues that will be used, even after a peace agreement, to paint Israel in a negative light.

Let's say that Israel gives up the areas of "East" Jerusalem that the U.S. government and the rest of the world demond of her, as part of a "two-state solution." What happens to all the Arabs in "East" Jerusalem who are used to receiving free health care of the highest quality from Israeli doctors? Now that they live under Palestinian sovereignty and are free of the intolerable "occupation" that they told the world was worse than Nazi Germany, certainly one wouldn't expect Israel to continue to provide health care for Jerusalem's Arabs who live in "Palestine," with both the financial costs and security risks that would require.

Yet, if I know anything about the "international community" and the media, can't you just see the following story in the NY Times?

For 15 years, Rashid has taken his children to an Israeli doctor in West Jerusalem. He says that he has a good relationship with his Jewish (or Israeli Arab) doctor, and that he poses no security threat. But now the cruel Israelis no longer allow him to see his doctor. "My son needs an operation and the hospitals in Palestine don't have the same quality of surgeons," Rashid says.

Several Israeli human rights organizations have taken the position that Israel has a moral responsibility to treat those who formerly lived under Israeli sovereignty. "Palestine simply isn't equipted to handle the number of patients in their new state. There aren't enough doctors and not enough hospitals," says a leading human rights activist. "It is time for Israeli doctors to live up to same standards of morality that doctors in all civilized countries practice."

The executive director of another Israeli human rights organization said, "Our Jewish values teach us to care for the sick. If we don't uphold those values, what is the purpose of having our own state?"

A spokesman for the Israeli government claims that allowing citizens of Palestine to receive life-saving health care in West Jerusalem is a security threat to Israel. "They wanted their own country, why don't they go to their own doctors?"

Though the Arab nations agreed to recognize and normalize relations with Israel following the creation of an independent Palestinian state, the Arab League is calling on all Arab countries to remove their ambassadors from Tel Aviv. Only a few Arab countries sent representives to Israel after the historic peace agreement.


4infidels said...

(con't from previous post)

Israel's latest actions come at just a time when Egypt and Jordan were considering addition Israel to their national maps. Meanwhile, Syria has said that because of Israel's refusal to extend health care of citizens of Palestine, it will neither recognize nor normalize relations with Israel. "Israel remains a terrorist state that has no right to exist," said President Assad, who also has backed away from a previous pledge to cease hosting Hamas and other groups committed to Israel's destruction.

The UN and EU has called on Israel to end what the EU foreign minister has called a "heartless and inhumane" practice. "Israel had an opportunity to end its pariah status after the peace agreement, but it continues to act as a rogue nation."

Meanwhile, Rashid waits patiently for an appointment with the only surgeon in Palestine with any experience treating his son's condition. "I don't understand how you can close your door and wall off your country when people are in need. For decades Arab and Jew lived side-by-side in this city and there were no problems."

For hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in East Jerusalem like Rashid, another sacrifice for peace is the lack of health care now available due to Israel's border policies.

Yaacov said...

What can I say, Infidel? You are of course right on. If you listen carefully, you can already hear these voices, and there are already Israeli bleeding hearts writing learned articles in journals of international law explaining how the only right thing for Israel to do is to pay social security to all the Palestinians currently living in East Jerusalem until the day they die, even if the last of them live to 120. I've seen some of these articles with my own two eyes.

Though I admit I hadn't heard specifically of Rashid. Poor kid. Such a sad tale. Oy.

4infidels said...

My point, in case it wasn't clear, is that there is an argument that once Israel makes peace with the Palestinians, and agrees to the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, Israel will find itself no longer under attack in the international arena. I think there are so many ways for those whose demonization of Israel stems from some combination of anti-Semitism, anti-Western bias or Arab-Islamic nationalism/supremacism to continue to paint Israel in the worst possible light and continue their propaganda campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state.

And I don't think that most Arab and Muslim countries can truly normalize their relations with Israel as their populations don't seek a two-state solution, but Israel's destruction. There is too strongly held an Islamic belief that once an piece of land goes Muslim, it should never revert to infidel control; ultimately the whole world is to fall under Islamic rule, and certainly the Jews, who role is one of humiliation and debasement, have no right to sovereignty on any piece of land, no matter how small, in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world.

Oh, there is also the little issue of Muslims honoring peace agreements with infidels and Palestinians being willing to reign in their "extremists," who by the way may actually be no more extreme in creed or goal than the "moderates" of Fatah, only differening in style of dress, public relations, patience, and willing to achieve their goals more slowly by using negotiations or "peace" as a strategic option so far not apart of Hamas' battle plans.

4infidels said...


Of course, the article won't tell you that Rashid voted for Hamas, that his son needs the operation because he injured himself helping the Al Aqsa Martyrs brigade build weapons or that Rashid had many times publicly uttered statements to the effect that Jews should just end the "occupation" and everything would be fine. The "journalist" also won't tell you that Rashid teaches at the local Palestinian school, where he tells the students that they cannot rest until all the land of Palestine is freed and the Jews are driven into the sea.

However, all that matters to the NY Times or the "international community" is that he can be portrayed as a helpless victim of Israel, as though his own political goals, teachings and actions don't have everything to do with why he is that hypothetical situation.

Anonymous said...

thinking forever like a clerk I wonder why none of you mentioned who pays???

here is my solution:

Israel will charge for the treatment of Rashid's son at the same level of American or European treatment or whatever other high standard will be agreed upon. On top of it Israel will charge for the extra-security which is necessary due to Rashid's politicial leanings, definitions will have to have been agreed upon separation, like drive them into the sea is less costly than slaughter them wherever.

Once that figure is known the NGOs and the oil-wealthy Arab brethren may compete on who is first to come up with the funds.

One might also think of a point awarding system to enhance the status of the most generous NGOs or brethren or compatriots who for example let the mother accompany the boy, let his sisters visit in style etc. etc.

In whole design a system that is so attractive that it creates lots and lots of work and well-paid secure jobs in the Israeli health industry.

this is just a first draft I have lots and lots of other ideas concerning the how-to-charge-for-it-complex - in case the negotiations take place in a nice sea-side resort I want to be invited where I would start with a proposal concerning the founding of a general health insurance system for the Palestinian State.


Anonymous said...

just in --- an ad sponsored by UNICEF an organisation that would certainly help Rashid's son
BTW they told me once that they don't work in Israel because Israel doesn't want them - quelle surprise?!

A UNICEF-supported program's advertisement
features a giant ax splitting the Star of David

This Is Hell said...

We knew as children that of all the countries UNICEF claimed to help, they also claimed specifically NOT to help Israel. This is going back 40 years.

Anonymous said...

This is Hell

thanks I should have guessed as much when they told me Israel didn't want them but at the time I had just started my sleuthing the extent and depth of Israel-slandering - I found it suspicious enough though to stop buying their cards.

but the question remains how well known is that and do they hide that from their ambassadors and are the ambassadors complicit which would spoil my enjoying Peter Ustinov and and and

I wanna hit somebody, punch'm real bad and mean and vicious
thanks again


Sulzman said...


Although I could be wrong about this, I'm not Israeli after all and I've only been there once (this past winter on Taglit), it seems to me that Israel doesn't really care much about the opinion of countries other than the U.S. Furthermore, it also seems a mistake to me to lump America's view of Israel in with the rest of the international community. Which is to say: if you think that an Israeli-Palestinian peace process SHOULD make the international community like Israel, I think you're barking up the wrong tree. Lots of countries will never like Israel, maybe even some advanced European countries. So what? It's the Israeli-U.S. relationship that really matters here--if we're talking internationally--and the occupied territories--no matter how much you may not want it to be true--put a strain on that relationship because while America's interests are very close to Israel's America also has, shall we say, a "social life" outside of Israel. I realize that this comes off as a bit smug and maybe even condescending, but Israel wanted a close partnership with the United States. If there's one thing I did take away from my 10 days in Israel it's that Israelis are quite sensitive to American culture, opinions and trends. All of which is to say, there are reasons for Israel to want peace process which have nothing to do with broad international opinion and everything to do with American opinion. The broad international community will likely continue to demand concessions from Israel, sure, even if a peace process takes place (and almost certainly will not immediately reduce Palestinian violence, certainly not right away). But the United States really just wants to be able to feel credible in its defense of Israel. I think its important--despite all the hand-wringing about Obama saying mean things about settlements-- to make that distinction.

Sulzman said...


Since I am an American, let me weigh in on the "historic" healthcare bill that passed last night. I shouldn't put it in quotes. It really is historic. But in many respects it's also very modest reform. I think your take on it is pretty much dead on--it's a step in the right direction, despite all its flaws.

Oh btw, This Is Hell: Your facts are off. The 40% tax is only coming from employer's plans which are over $10,000 for individuals and $27,000 for families. And from what I understand that 40% is taxed off the amount OVER $10,000 and $27,000 not those total amounts. As for illegal immigrants, I'm not really sure what your point is. That illegals are generally less healthy? that they make less money and will need more government subsidies? This stuff is going to be chump change compared to the real cost driver of U.S. healthcare--the fee for service payment system (a REAL weakness in the bill, as opposed to This is Hell's FOX News-scented criticisms).

Lee Ratner said...

Sulzman has it right. The essential problem with American conservatives is that they are very devoted to the idea that the market does everything right and the government does nothing right. This is true in many instances but there are instances when the government really does do better, healthcare has been demonstrated in many countries to be one of them. Real reform would be extending Medicare to the entire population and giving us a single-payer system.

LBJ is a very problematic President for the American Left. We love his domestic accomplishments but believe that his foreign policy tended towards the horrible, i.e. he waged a really immoral war in Vietnam that caused a lot of unnecessary suffering.

Right now, I think the most intelligent thing for Israel to do is to leave the West Bank and East Jerusalem except for the Jewish Quarter. Even if it does not create peace, it will at least prevent some of the more heinous accusations against Israel.

Anonymous said...

Lee, your proposed course promises a horrific war, with rockets and mortars fired from east-jerusalem onto the israeli part of jerusalem in the immediate, short-term and with the palestinian terror paradigm bolstered, to a degree it could hardly have prayed for, in the long term. How you imagine it wouldn't lead to rockets from east jerusalem to be fired into Israeli jerusalem is beyond me.

Is that really "the most intelligent thing for Israel to do"?

Yaakov, to understand better the health care issue opponents, you could hardly do better than read Mark Steyn. His website is a treasure trove. A gold mine. Much of the time, the man writes brilliantly. It's usually thought provoking and told in a very witty fashion.

In (which is worth a read) he writes "Unfortunately... nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: once a fellow’s enjoying the fruits of government health care and all the rest, he couldn’t give a hoot about the general societal interest.

Somewhere along the way these countries redefined the relationship between government and citizen into something closer to pusher and addict."

He sees the Nanny state as turning its citizens into children and sees 'health care' as part of America's decline.

Besides this, he also points out how in Canada, they come to America for treatment. How awful the NHS is in Britain, no matter how many extra billions are pumped into it. The idea seems to be that the bigger the country, the bigger the beaurocracy and the greater the ensuing failure.

Maybe in America it won't lead to a steep decline in the quality of medical care. One hopes so, anyway.

Shalom, Cherry Hill said...

Regarding the American Health Care bill just passed, may I recommend reading an excellent article in the NY Times (of all places!) by Douglas Holtz-Eaking (former director of the CBO) 3/21 at

A few of his points:
1. As well known, the 1st 10 years of revenues pays for only 6 years of benefits.

2. $53 billion is anticipated higher social security revenues from higher incomes due to employers paying higher wages instead of health care benefits. It leaves out the fact that this will lead to higher social security pay outs to the workers when they retire due to the higher income.

3. A government takeover of federally financed student loans is expected to bring in $19 billion--but that has nothing to do with healthcare.

4. It's assuming $463 billion in Medicare savings--but many doctors are already refusing to take medicare patients (including the Mayo clinics in Arizona), and that will either lead to far worse health care, or (more likely) the payments will increase, therefore no such savings.

One of my children had open heart surgery about 10 years ago, and my oldest spent 9 days in the neonatal ward when he was born-- I have some experience with American health care. There is certainly room for improvement, but not the monstrosity just passed.

The bill includes a call for the IRS to hire approx 18,000 new agents to deal with enforcement of the purchase of health insurance. How wonderful. Look at the sweetheart deals that the Obama administration gave to the corrupt auto workers unions when taking over GM. Look at his hiring people like Von Jones. Caterpillar just announced that the new bill will cost them $100 million next year.

What a blessing. (not)

Barry Meislin said...

Even if it does not create peace, it will at least prevent some of the more heinous accusations against Israel.

Indeed, this is a prescription for the final conflagration. The whole point of the Palestinians' delaying tactics---until the noose around Israel is sufficiently tightened and the perceived optimal moment for Israel's destruction---perceived, I repeat---arrives.

Congratulations for having proposed it. There are many, like you, just itching for that blessed moment.

But that's OK, it's all fine and dandy, in fact, though, if it---IF IT---shows that Israel is willing to go that extra mile for peace....and enables us to feel better about ourselves!!

Because, you see, at least prevent some of the more heinous accusations against Israel.

As though that would happen.... Indeed, it is not easy to hold one's head up against such an onslaught, such a tsunami of rage, of criticism, of hatred... But instead of appeasement (that's right, that's what it is---and no, it doesn't work), the only recourse is to be proud that such a collection of cut-throats, monsters and, alas, ignoramouses have chosen to target the Jewish State for their opprobrium and hatred.

(P.S. The truth sucks. So what, then does one do?)

Sulzman said...


That's a tough place for truth to leave you, I agree. But what is this "final conflagration" you envision? I'm at a loss, frankly. Iran getting a nuke and giving it to Hamas? Even if this were the case (god forbid), I fail to see how holding for dear life to the territories mitigates this in any way. It's hard to reason with someone who makes such grand sweeping pronouncements with utter certainty about what the future will hold.

Anonymous said...

just to curb your enthusiasm for Mark Steyn a bit - the man has no knowledge whatsoever on how paper pushing works - he is good with pithy sentences and very amusing to read i.e. makes one feel really superior to the dumb and ignorant crowd who can't get their acts together etc. etc. Also he says a lot of truths but leaves out any inconvenient demands of everyday life that might curb the universality of those truths. In the end he is quite often very amusing and might make one really think along a different path but in the end turns out to be too shallow to be taken seriously.

As I keep repeating all paper pushing rules face the inevitable dilemma/Catch22 that it is madness to want to impose rules on human life but that on the other hand everybody wants his house deed to be registered somewhere safe and defendable. Oh yes say the Mark Steyns, we are not against that but when - not in their own backyard - industrial development is hindered by private house owner resistance they preach the evils of whoever is defending the rights those endangered house owners who hinder progress and development and and and

To summarize my take: The Mark Steyns of this world insist that you can have one without the other by conveniently forgetting to mention the parts which don't fit their pontifications.


Anonymous said...

maybe it helps you to get the complexity of the situation you seem to be considering oh so simple if you look at a map, preferably a globe, read a bit of military history or pick some book talks from military historians from the ample and very diverse offerings of this outfit

Lee Ratner said...

To the anonymous against government healthcare. Right-wingers often like to say that Canadians are coming across the border to get healthcare in the United States but the never point to any numbers, statistics, or sources for that talking point. Why? Simple, its just a lie. Canadians are happy with their healthcare system. The only people possibly happier with their system are the French and the Scandinavians.

Listen whether you like it or not, nearly every country rich enough to do so in world including Israel uses the government to provide healthcare to all citizens except the United States. They get better returns on their money this way. America is regarded as a source of how not to do healthcare by practically everybody else.

Yaacov, to understand healthcare reform from a pro-reform standpoint read Timothy Noah on or John Chait and others on or Ezra Klein from the Washington Post.

Barry Meislin said...

At the end of the day, it's a question of how much we one is willing to delude oneself and how pious one feels about believing in those delusions.

The "problem" is that most Israelis, after having seen the results of leaving S. Lebanon and leaving Gaza, after having seen the results of Barak's diplomatic efforts, of Sharon's diplomatic efforts, of Olmert's diplomatic efforts; having seen what Oslo has wrought, generally; having heard ad nauseum from Israel's "partners in peace" that Israel is an illegitimate state, that Jews have no connection to the Holy Land, that Israel cannot be considered a Jewish State, and all kinds of other imaginative and creative, not to mention endless manifestations of hatred and delegitimization; having heard the constant and non-changing demands, lies and misrepresentations from the so-called moderate PA, and having seen these lies and misrepresentations portrayed by the global media as the truth, are no longer delusional.

In the end, the argument, after the incessant pounding of lies and slanders, may well boil down to, "How important is the truth, anyway? long as one can feel good about oneself....?"

Because, in fact, who can stand up to it? And this is, of course, part of the strategy of Israel's partners in peace....and the pernicious Narrative that has currently taken over.

(And if you think it's bad now, wait until Iran (and friends) start to use non-conventional warfare as the selected method of intimidation....)

Shalom, Cherry Hill said...

To Lee Ratner:

Why don't you respond to the NY Times article that I cited above?

By the way--"The Canadian system needs fixing, said Dr. Robert Ouellet, president of the Canadian Medical Association. "We have improved waiting times from years to months in most areas, but people still wait too long even in emergency rooms," he said. Dr. Ouellet suggests that the U.S. look elsewhere for models of universal health care."

"In fact, government researchers have provided the best data on the doctor shortage, noting, for example, that more than 1.5 million Ontarians (or 12 percent of that province’s population) can’t find family physicians. Health officials in one Nova Scotia community actually resorted to a lottery to determine who’d get a doctor’s appointment."

Anonymous said...

Cherry Hill
any health insurance system will be outdated from the moment of its conception - that is what is built into the nature of any rules and regulations whatsoever because life is fluid and written rules can't be - so after a while it will to start smarting here and there and then come the pompous pontificators who lobby for it to be fixed by claiming the whole thing is worthless. Much more interesting are the serious people who do the actual fixing to keep the thing creeking along.

As a German I live with the oldest health insurance providing system in the world and there are lots and lots of things to complain about but after reading up for some time the comment section of the blog Baseline Scenario whenever it dealt with health care and/or health insurance coverage in the US I feel so satisfied with our old system and its flaws and its constant never quite up to it fixes that people like your Dr. Quellet seem familiar to the point of being boring.

The one point that amazed me more than anything is that I can move around in my country wherever I want without ever bothering what my health insurance thinks about it (we are a federally organized country where the states have ample rights) and after what I read recently it seems that I may even move to Spain or Turkey and be covered as if I lived here.

I tell you this because I am getting told constantly what a big virtue it is for the work force to be mobile and how good the Americans are at it - but now it seems our old "socialist" system is much more friendly to worker mobility than yours.

Oh and not to forget last but not least ours was initially created to beat the socialists out of business by Bismarck, the "iron chancellor" ...


Shalom, Cherry Hill said...

I don't know anything at all about the German healthcare system, but I'm glad that you're satisfied with it. The large majority of Americans are satisfied with their insurance-- but there certainly is what to fix with the system.

What frustrates me about the Obamacare plan is that it clearly is not about improving healthcare; rather, it's about creating entitlements and beaurocracy that will capture millions of people as dependents of the Progressive wing of the Democratic party, to keep them in power.

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

Cherry Hill
" ours was initially created to beat the socialists out of business by Bismarck, the "iron chancellor" ..."

and the National Socialists=Nazis (who loved to kill socialists) expanded it to suit their needs (see Götz Aly)

by which I want to make the point that whatever it is now is less important than what politics will use it for and hopefully you'll be more ethical with it than we were.


4infidels said...


The reason that Israel should finalize a peace-agreement with the Palestinians that includes an independent Palestinian state is that it would bring peace. I don't see that as a possibility given the evidence of the past two decades, the statements Palestinian "moderates" make in their own language regarding their goals and the actions they take on a daily basis.

The argument about Israel achieving legitimacy once it turns over "occupied territories" to the Palestinians is one of many reasons put forth by Israel's "friends" in the "international community," by assorted "realists" and "human rights activists" as well as by liberal-left American Jews, for Israel to "achieve peace." Again, I believe Israel should "achieve peace," negotiate an "end to the conflict," etc. only if those things would actually bring peace and end the conflict. Since I don't, I am not for endangering Israel's security and existence just to please the "international community" (which you know is in large part motivated in its pro-Arab positions by need for oil, fear of terrorism, access to Arab-Muslim markets, to name a few), ease the guilty consciences (or self-interested moral preening) of left-wing American Jews or atone for some mythical original sin of birth (as though Palestinians/Arabs had no responsibility for the outcomes of 1948 or 1967), a request demanded of no other nation.

I am a proud American who understand perfectly well why Israelis would love our culture, our values and look to us for support. America, as Bibi said last night, is the greatest nation in the history of the world. Most Israelis, I assume, understand what makes America special far more instinctively than America's President (cheap shot). However, American Presidents and "peace-negotiators" for many decades have had a habit of pocketing Israeli concessions, making promises in return, and then disregarding those promises once the Palestinians dig in their heels. Much as I may find Obama especially hostile to Israel, due in part to his ideological and cultural affinities, his behavior in this regard is no different from both Bushes, Clinton, Carter, et al. Israel should do everything it can to strengthen and support its American allies, but it can't commit suicide to please those with the mistaken belief that a peace treaty/Palestinian state will actually bring peace, that public pressure/condemnation of Israel actually improves America's standing with Arab and Muslim countries, and that a Palestinian state--governed by the fanatical jihadists of Hamas or the corrupt jiihadisf of Fatah--is a vital American national security interest.

Sulzman said...


I should have been a bit more specific in my remarks. It's clearly not feasible for Israel to just pull out of the territories--I don't think that would be the best solution either. What I am talking about, really, is taking steps to marginalize the ultra-right in Israel--who aren't particularly helpful towards Israel's basic security interests so far as I can see. (And by the way, if you want to defend them as vital to Israel's security interests I'd like to hear that argument).

Don't conflate my arguments with typical liberal ones. Yes, I'm highly critical of Israeli settlement policy. But I'm under no illusions about the possibilities for Israel "making friends" with the international community or that Israeli security problems will go away once the Palestinians have their own state. This isn't about that. This is about America's relationship with Israel. And it's very difficult for America to have a strong relationship with Israel when the tail of Israeli foreign policy is being wagged the Shas and other ultra-right constituencies. I'm not saying the alternative (Likud and Kadima, or even some kind of center-left coalition) would be that great. But the coalition in Israel right now is not acting in Israel's best interests, America's, or for broader stability in the region. This isn't so much because their actual actions are that different from, say, Kadima. It's because the right does lots of little things that are designed to provoke. The right wing LOVES to provoke. They love to do it in Israel and the right wing in America loves to provoke also, to force manichean absolutist contrasts to see if those who say they're on our side "really" are on our side. It's a short-sighted and careless way to run a country.

I'd say that HR Clinton's speech to AIPAC today sums up my own view pretty well.

Barry Meislin said...

1. When Israel pulled out of South Lebanon, it was lauded by the international community.

2. For the following six years, during which Hezbullah was establishing a state within a state, stockpiling all kinds of weapons and material, and receiving advanced trained from the Iranian military, practically no one said barely anything.

3. During the 2006 war between Hezbullah and Israel, Israel got creamed by the international community.

4. For the following three and a half years, during which Hezbullah has been stockpiling more and more weaponry, practically no one has been saying anything, except to condemn Israeli overflights of Lebanon, meant to keep track of these violations and warn Hezbullah against making "mistakes".

5. When Israel pulled out of areas of the West Bank, it was lauded by the international community.

6. During the second Intifada (so-called) which saw Palestinians killing Israeli civilians in greater numbers than they've ever been able to before, Israel was being blamed for responding disproportionately when trying to quell the killing. When it, finally, built a wall/fence/ barrier to prevent the suicide bombers, Israel was hammered by the international community.

7. When Israel pulled out of Gaza, it was lauded by the international community---except for those (wiseguys) who condemned Israel for pulling out of Gaza unilaterally.

8. When Hamas kicked the PA out of Gaza (should one say, rather violently?), practically no one really registered a protest (after all, it was democracy in action, one may assume); and for the following years, during which Hamas was stockpiling all kinds of weapons and material, and receiving trained from the Iranian military---and was launching rockets at Israel on a regular basis---practically no one said anything either.

9. During the 2008 war between Hamas and Israel, which broke out after Hamas believed the time was right to end the (so-called) cease-fire with Israel, Israel got creamed by the international community. Moreover, the Goldstone Report (so-called) will ensure that Israel will continue to be creamed for a long time to come.

10. For the following year-and-a-half (so far), during which Hamas has been stockpiling more and more weaponry, no one has been saying anything, except to find out how to use the Goldstone Report to further flagellate and delegitimize Israel.

Now, let's fill in the blanks:

11. When/if Israel pulls out of the entire West Bank, it will be _________ by the international community.

12. When/if Israel pulls out of Jerusalem, it will be _________ by the international community.

13. For the ____ years following Israel's pull-out from the West Bank and Jerusalem, the PA (assuming it will not have been taken over by Hamas or merge with it) will stockpile more and more weaponry, and receive training from _________ and _________, and no one will say anything.

14. When war breaks out (as it must) between the Palestinians, together with Hezbullah, and perhaps Syria and Iran; and Jerusalem is turned into Sarajevo, and an encircled, beleaguered Israel finds itself with its back against the wall, it will be _______________ by the international community.

Many drool at the possibility that this should occur. Others, who would be sorry if it did occur (would express sorrow? would be regretful?) believe that such a scenario is absurd or even if possible, or probable, should be risked for "peace" and/or so that others will not think so badly (or as badly as they currently do) about Israel.

And of course, presumably, the latter are wiser than the Israeli electorate, and have Israel's interests more at heart.

Anonymous said...

are you trying to say that PROVOKING is a far right speciality? If that is so then the far left in the US must be totally different from ours because those in "old" Europe LOVE to provoke and from what I read the Israeli ones aren't bad at it either. Just the fact that the delusions of the far leftists are in parts closer to the dreams of those who want Israel as Shangri-La doens't make them any less unsuitable to daily life or alien to taking realities into account.

And that said -
... isn't the great American invention to maintain a system of checks and balances? which to my simple mind should signify that as long as the far right and the far left plus the out of center right and the out of center left manage to compete on more or less level ground democracy is behaving exactly the way it is supposed to.


4infidels said...


I never thought that you believed that Israel should give the Palestinians a state in order to please the "international community and I made no assumptions about where you sit on the political spectrum. In order to analyze political and policy debates, it is necessary to make some generalizations, but those generalizations about the left were not aimed at you personally.

That being said, it is interesting that your goals are to marginalize the "ultra-right." There are those on the far-right in Israel whose opinions and actions are both noxious and unhelpful, but if any groups needs to be marginalized in Israel, it is the left. The left has disproportionate power in the media, the universities, the arts, and most harmful of all, the ear of the international community for every vile, false accusation it levels against the IDF and the Israeli government in order to help advance their agenda, slandering their own country in a world where anti-semitism and anti-zionism is massively resurgent.

It is the left, financed and encouraged by the Europeans, that provided the fraudulent testimony that fills the Goldstone report.

It is the left that came up with the brilliant idea of taking PLO terrorists out of exile, funding and arming them and placing them in control of territory on the border of a state they are sworn to destroy.

It is the left that pretended not to notice, or excused away, the incitement and terrorism during the Oslo process from the mid-1990s to the second intifada.

It is the left that sought to change the school curriculum so that Israeli children don't have the same understanding of, and pride in, zionist/Israeli history. It is the left that has encouraged the teaching of the phony Palestinian narrative, so that Israelis don't believe in the justice of their own cause.

It is the left that promoted the the "two tiny peoples sharing a tiny land" narrative that ultimately helped the Palestinians recast an Arab-Muslim jihad of 1 billion against an infidel nation-state of 6 million into a struggle of the newly created "Palestinian people" for national liberation.

Some on the left, like Yaacov, dealt with reality--post Camp David, post-Taba and following the start of the 2nd intifada-- by admitting the left's mistakes and moderating their views. Still others, like Benny Morris, went from one extreme to the other. But many of the high-profile leftists continue to blame Israel for everything, believing the that the way to make peace is for Israel to give away more concessions and take more of the blame whenever the two sides are at an impasse; this is a prescription for national suicide.

The right certainly has made its mistakes as well. The right certainly has its villains and can act in provocative ways that do put Israel in a bad light. But compared to the role that the left has played, this is small stuff.

I am someone who would have been happy if Oslo had led to two states living side by side in peace. I had no problem with Israel giving up land to save lives and give Israel genuine security and acceptance by its neighbors; I was just skeptical that the other side actually was pursing peace rather than greatly increasing its position on the ground for when it would resume negotiations.


4infidels said...

(con't from previous post)

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.

One 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...

Still others, like Benny Morris, went from one extreme to the other.

A curious way to phrase the wave of truthfulness that seems to have washed over Morris, after he---finally---realized that the assumptions (is there any other way to describe them?) that underlay his previous "historicity" were, in fact, dead wrong.

File under: "Mine eyes have seen the coming of..."?