Monday, November 22, 2010

A Current Israeli Frame of Mind

Perhaps the single most important thing to understand when trying to explain Israel's positions and behavior is what Israelis think is happening in the world around them. What are the sort of things they notice and take seriously, the things they think are important. I'm talking about impressions and perspectives, not necessarily strictly objective truth. Then again, strictly objective truth is hardly what informs anyone else, either. People act on what they perceive as true, not what is true, even when that can be determined.

So here are a number of stories Israelis notice these days - not all Israelis equally, but enough of them to effect the mainstream, I'd postulate.

Most (not all) Palestinians see the two state solution as a stepping stone to the no-Israel solution. Elder of Ziyon has some commentary on the poll here.

Ma'an News Agency, that's the PA news agency, tells that the Palestinians are furious that the Israelis intend to renovate the plaza in front of the Western Wall, because it's in conquered territory and abuts on the Haram a-Shariff. (And also the Temple Mount, but that's not mentioned).

General Amos Yadlin, the departing chief of Military Intelligence, warns that the next war with the Iranian backed alliance will see Tel Aviv as its main battle ground. I suppose you might reassure yourself that if Israel retreats from the Western Wall and makes nice to the Palestinians they'll give up on the practicalities of their dream to have no Israel, but I don't see how that effects the Iranians and their local allies; if one lives in Tel Aviv or any other town with lots of Jewish civilians, this may well be a serious consideration as one forms political positions.

In an ongoing story, the PA leadership seems to be preparing the ground for abandoning the possibility of reaching a peace agreement with Israel and using the UN to achieve statehood without compromising with Israel on things the Palestinians don't wish to compromise on. As I've noted but haven't fully fleshed out, my personal position is that Israel could use such a Palestinian ploy to achieve the opposite effect, of leaving the Palestinians with less leverage to achieve what Israel can't give. But that's just me. Clearly, the Palestinian leadership doesn't see it that way, and their intention is hostile to Israel.

Update:Ben Smith of Politico, wandering around Israel talking to folks, tries to figure out what Israelis are thinking these days. It's interesting. (h/t Thom).


Barry Meislin said...

...the PA leadership seems to be preparing the ground for abandoning the possibility of reaching a peace agreement with Israel....

"Abandoning the possibility," eh?

As though there was ever "the possibility".

(Yes, I know, we all---well, most of us---believed it. Chalk it up to hope mixed with denial, sprinkled with happy ignorance, and with an added measure of terrific marketing.)

"The possibility"? In spite of Arafat's speeches (in Arabic) in the 90s that the "peace process" was the beginning of the end of Israel (finally, inshallah...and God is Great, in case we forgot.... Brilliant man, Arafat---and that multi-million dollar commemoration to him by the suffering, oppressed, and impoverished Palestinians is more than well deserved (should we wonder if Suha contributed any of her millions...?)).

In spite of all the incitement.

In spite of all the constant "Palestine from the River to the Sea" reminders.

In spite of the current TV programs which leave absolutely nothing to the imagination (regarding the borders of Palestine, that is).

And there are still those (intelligent, knowledgeable, decent, personable, and supporters of Israel, to boot!!) who say things like "seems to be preparing the ground for abandoning the possibility of reaching a peace agreement with Israel."


Like love, it's always, always a matter of hope over experience....

Except that in this case, it's not so much hope as denial. And not so much experience as the message hammered home again and again (by Israel's partners in peace).

And again.

Palestine from the River to the Sea. (Not too, too complicated, I shouldn't think.)

But O! What power do puny facts have over such a powerful combination as denial and hope?....

Saul Lieberman said...

And see Ethan Bronner's piece in the NY Times "Why America Chases an Israeli-Palestinian Peace" The article serves as a useful checklist of the relevant US views of the world and the disconnects with the Israeli view.

Barry Meislin said...

...and the disconnects with the Israeli view...

Any other "disconnects" out there, perchance?....

(...on the part of this "realist" administration?)

Just wonderin'....

Anonymous said...

anybody who believes he/she can successfully trap the Palestinians in or on anything should read Fraudster Ibrahim's latest (yes he is back) fisking Latner's speech and realize that that is the kind of international mind set Israel is up again i.e. they'll rather believe that the world is flat than stick with anything disadvantageous to Palestinians.

I read Giora Eiland "The IDF in the Second Intifada" last night - that's the kind of international mind-set Israel has to deal with

Anonymous said...

Ya'acov -

"Then again, strictly objective truth is hardly what informs anyone else, either. People act on what they perceive as true, not what is true, even when that can be determined."

So true, so true.

And the refusal of the Arabs to acknowledge the Western Wall as Jewish is the cause of the 1921 and 1928-29 riots. Is this not the start of the conflict? Does nothing ever change?


Anonymous said...

I read in the NYT this morning that "In a move that could further increase tensions with the Palestinians, the Israeli government on Sunday approved a $23 million, five-year project to renovate and develop the Western Wall Plaza and its environs. One of Judaism’s holiest sites, the Western Wall is located in the Old City, in disputed territory across the 1967 lines."

First - "ONE of Judaism's holiest sites" ?!
Second - "disputed territory" - Does anyone believe that Israeli control of the Western Wall is subject to negotiation?
Third - isn't the Wall within the 1967 lines? It was outside the 1949 armistice lines and as we all (should)know, its capture by Israel in '67 was a major territorial and symbolic victory.

Please correct me if I am mistaken.


Elder of Ziyon said...

Thank you for the link, but alas, I am not Israeli.

Barry Meislin said...

They do like pressing buttons.

They like it.

And they are very, very good at it (bless them).

Well, ignore them. (They like that too---because then they can whine that they're being ignored.)

And realize, know, understand, internalize, KNOW...that according to them, Jews have no national rights in the Middle East (yes, those same Jews who are trying to establish a Palestinian State because they---finally?---realize that the Palestinians have suffered too, that the Palestinians do have a claim in this whole sad story).

"Yes, those same Jews who...."

Hold on. The two-state solution is (within certain parameters) good for the Jews (who don't have any national rights in the area, who don't deserve a state); it is good for Israel.

Which is the idea doesn't have a chance in hell of succeeding.

And never did.

Think of it: why should the Palestinians agree to anything that is good for the Jews, and which totally goes against their ideology and their interests?

Because it's also good for the Palestinians, you say? Because it's in their interests, too? Because in real life, you have to compromise?

Ah, YOU say.

Well, guess again.

Barry Meislin said...

Should be:

Which is why the idea has no chance....

Y. Ben-David said...

Read this about the Western Wall:

For those of you who mistakenly think that the Arabs will allow Jews to pray at the Western Wall and other Jewish holy sites in the event that Olmert's plan to hand them over to the Palestinians under the guise of a "neutral international body's guarantees" is carried out, read this.............