Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bernard Avishai is Out of Synch

Bernard Avishai has an article in the Forward about what a peaceful two-state resolution would look like.

Theoretically, there isn't that much to disagree with him about. He's wrong about the need to sever Judaism from state - Israel isn't France, and there are better ways to achieve democratic goals - and he can't not take a swipe at Israel's democratically elected leadership. But all in all, his vision is admirable, reasonable, and worthy of striving for.

If we were back in 1998, that is. Or perhaps, once we reach 2028. Sadly, seen from 2010, he's managed to pretend the past decade is some sort of mistake of judgment that needs to be rectified as soon as possible, some inexplicable aberration caused by those chauvinistic leaders, and by an eagerness to "fetishize" Jerusalem, whatever that means.

The ability of well-meaning, educated and intelligent people to block out large chunks of reality never ceases to intrigue me.


4infidels said...


IMHO, you are far too tolerant of this type of nonsense. At best, it is a worthless mental exercise from a writer who has lost all touch with reality and will be overlooked by most people. At worst, it further misleads American Jews about the nature of the conflict and again sends the message out around the world (through the internet) that it is in Israel's power to bring peace if Israel would just make the proper moves (i.e. concessions).

As you pointed out in "Right to Exist" regarding the Peace Camp in Israel, the left is acting as though the Palestinians' role is to agree to whatever the left (in its infinite wisdom and moral superiority) plans for the inhabitants of historic Palestine. He never looks at what the Palestinians want...both what they say they want and how their actions have indicated what they want. If he did, he would have to consider that no matter how much Israel conforms to his vision, it won't be enough to end the conflict.

I hate to come off like a fanatical right-winger in these discussions, but the whole concept of two states for two peoples that the Forward obviously takes the only way to go is unworkable for so many reasons.

After three decades of writing about the history of Israel and the Arabs of Palestine, and after his faith in Oslo was shattered by the post-Oslo terror war against Israel, Benny Morris finally discovered the heart of the matter: that the Arab war against Israel since its inception has been a classic jihad.

And while Morris may not agree with this point, I am less convinced today than even five years ago about the "two peoples" half of the equation. Do the "Palestinians" really see themselves as a separate people whose goal is self-determination as we understand it? Or do the Palestinians see themselves first and foremost as part of the larger Arab and Islamic nation, with their goal of "liberating" Palestine not being so that they can live according to their distinct national "Palestinian" vision, but so that they can take back from the infidels that which belongs in the dar al-Islam. So much of the language of Palestinian nationalism--when not focused on hatred of Israel and the Jews--is either Arab nationalist (Fatah, Arab League) or Islamist (Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Iran), or some combination of the two.

The bottom line is that if the Palestinians and their Arab brethren were interested in self-determination as anything more than a first step toward the destruction of Israel and the reunification of the land with the their neighbors, then they would have no problem with a two state solution. The Arabs consider all of Israel, not just the West Bank and Gaza, as "the occupation."

Avigdor said...

the danger of political and economic isolation will force Israeli elites to choose between greater Israel and global Israel

This reminds me of the coastal elite in Second Temple times - educated, wealthy, worldly, embarrassed of their old tribal traditions and eager to embrace the exciting Roman world.

He is channeling Peres here, who had a grand vision for Israeli technology and innovation leading the Arab world into an area of mutual peace and prosperity. Ahh... those heady days of '92-93, when peace seemed so tantalizingly close. I was 10 at the time, but I can imagine...

NormanF said...

Greater Israel? Even with Yesha, Israel is barely the size of the State Of New Jersey? Israeli leftists have fooled the world into believing Israel is a country with a huge expanse of land. Its not. People who see Israel for the first time are shocked at how small it is and that it barely has any real depth. And here we're told the solution to shrink Israel to indefensible borders.

Greater Israel, indeed.

Lee Ratner said...

4infidels- What is your solution than? That Israel hold on to the West Bank and Gaza with an ever growing number of hostile Arabs forever? That it become just as isolated as North Korea or Apartheid South Africa in order to fight off the Muslim hordes? Because if your theory is correct and it is not, the only way Israel and the rest of the non-Muslim world can achieve peace is to kill all Muslims because according to you all Muslims are eternal fanatics with no ability to reform? Not so long ago, we'd be saying the same of the Christians to.

Why do you think that the Muslims take the disturbing parts of their holy books more seriously than any other religion on the planet? Why do think that Islam will never get over its dark parts while every other religion did?

Avishai is at least trying to come up with a solution to the problem. I disagree with how he defines what it means for Israel to be a Jewish state. He does recognize the foolishness and idiocy of people who advocate the one-state solution and the follies of keeping the West Bank and Gaza forever.

4infidels said...


I have addressed all these questions from you in the past. Believing that the Arabs aren't ready or capable of making peace does not mean that you have to "kill all Muslims."

I don't believe in Israel giving up land, because I don't think it will bring peace. The war against Israel will continue, only with Israel in a weakened position. How does that make sense?

Well, it will end Israel's international isolation, you say, even if it doesn't bring peace. I have also explained that the world's criticism of Israel is due to three factors: need for Arab oil, desire for access to Arab markets and fear of Islamist terrorism. Those issues won't change because Israel gets smaller and therefore the world will find new justifications for taking the same approach that is in its self-interest. Moreover, Israel will never become as isolated as N. Korea or S. Africa because there are many countries--regardless of their rhetoric at the UN--who benefit from quietly doing business with Israel and from Israel's military, intelligence and anti-terror know.

Further, I have speculated that sympathy and support for Israel may actually increase in the upcoming years due to the growing awareness of the threat posed by Muslims communities living in Western Europe and perhaps the discovery of alternative fuels that lessen the dependence on Arab oil.


4infidels said...


Now for the same old questions...

Why do you think that the Muslims take the disturbing parts of their holy books more seriously than any other religion on the planet?

What does what I think matter? If we agree that Muslims take the disturbing parts of their holy books more seriously than other religions, then why does it make sense for Israel to weaken its defenses with the hope that Muslims might change their views.

The reason Muslims take the injunction to make war on the infidels until all the world submits to the rule of Islam is because the Koran is the literal and immutable word of God. The commands on Muslim believers to kill the infidel are not limited by space and time. Unlike the violence in the Bible, theses views have been upheld by mainstream Islamic jurisprudence, not just a radical fringe. These are not historic or allegorical passages in the Koran or Hadith; they are taken literally by hundreds of millions of Muslims.

Why do think that Islam will never get over its dark parts while every other religion did?

I have never said that Islam is incapable of reforming or de-emphasizing the violent aspects of its doctrines. For the reasons explained above, I do think it will be a difficult process and will probably involve lots of Muslim vs. Muslim violence before such a reinterpretation could take place.

From an Israel, American or other non-Muslim perspective, it doesn't make sense to make foreign and security policies based on the hope of a long-established religion, which takes a negative view of innovation and self-criticism, changing. I am looking at Islam as it is...not as I would like it to be. When Islam reforms into something less menacing to its neighbors, then land-for-peace may be a reasonable way to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Not all Muslims take seriously or act upon the Koranic commands mentioned above. The secular and cultural Muslims are not the ones who are the driving forces in their own societies nor the ones controlling the rockets and militias threatening Israel. That is why Obama has chosen to engage the radicals throughout the Middle East, because they are the ones driving history in their part of the world. I disagree with his policies, but there is a logic to it that you probably don't recognize.

4infidels said...


Because if your theory is correct and it is not, the only way Israel and the rest of the non-Muslim world can achieve peace is to kill all Muslims because according to you all Muslims are eternal fanatics with no ability to reform?

Please consider the lunacy of your statement. The only choices you offer are a permanent and everlasting peace between infidels and Muslims or war until all Muslims are killed. It denies that there are several ways that Israel and the rest of the non-Muslim world can defend itself that don't include warfare. it also denies that warfare has been a part of the human experience since the beginning of time and that managing a low-level conflict (whose hostilities expressed diplomatically and financially more so than open military combat) may be preferable for Israel than going for a "final peace" that puts Israel at great risk and encourages a larger and more destructive war for all parties involved.

You know that I believe the US should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Are those really the positions of someone who wants to "kill all Muslims?"

Betting Israel's future on a withdrawal from the West Bank succeeding because of a Muslim reformation or a change in international opinion toward Israel is recipe for the Jewish state's destruction. Islam is on the rise, thanks to huge oil revenues (which pay for mosques, Islamic schools and influence in infidel media, government and universities), the inspiration of the Islamic revolution in Iran and the spread of jihadist ideology around the world over the internet and satellite TV. And all evidence from previous Israeli withdrawals and peace efforts suggests that Israel's standing in the "international community" has not been helped by shrinking its borders or making other conciliatory gestures toward its neighbors. That is because the world is invested in its anti-Israel positions out of self-interest, not moral concern.

AKUS said...

The only "solution"is to link up the WB with Jordan. 40 years of negotiations have proven that the WB Arabs are not prepared to accept what Israel will agree to, and Israel will not accept their demands - what happened in Gaza and Lebanon have made sure of that.

When we see Jews allowed to live in Jordan, I'll believe that a "two-state solution" with Jews living on the WB among the Arabs is possible.

Anonymous said...

your answers to Lee made me think up the following scenario

when the US gets out of Iraq and Afghanistan, a lot of Jihadis who find it more "fun" to go after "the Big Satan" will be looking for new "Big Satan" goals. So the Jihad will get closer to "western" borders in general accompanied possibly by more home-grown Jihadis getting active because they find easier and more comfortable to reach education centers than Yemen or Pakistan (preferably with a piece of beach suitable for skinny dipping nearby ;-))

so more Undie- and Times Square bombers will show up and the more frequent they are the bigger the chance will get that a competent one will be among them - there is competence in numbers after all.

Hopefully the "west" will then realize what I am preaching at the latest since exactly March 2006 (when I read the M&W piece in the LRB and immediately knew that the Halili had been trumpeted once again) i.e. that standing firmly and unequivocally with Israel is the solution and not the problem (and yes I think standing with Israel makes life outside the country for Jews very uncomfortable in all kinds of social contacts. That is btw another good reason for non-Jews to pitch in wherever Jews are questioned about Israel in prosecutory mode by people who seem to be entitled to forget their manners when it comes to Israel)


Anonymous said...

and Jews shouldn't be shy in demanding from non-Jews that they perform their duty in pitching in against anti-Isralites of all variations reminding them relentlessly how abysmally most of us failed last time around when it would have meant not yet a threat of real harm for non-Jews, when "we" thought a bit of Jew-baiting was a harmless as a bit of Bavarian-baiting


4infidels said...


when the US gets out of Iraq and Afghanistan, a lot of Jihadis who find it more "fun" to go after "the Big Satan" will be looking for new "Big Satan" goals. So the Jihad will get closer to "western" borders in general

It doesn't have to be this way if the Western countries stop giving them visas, educational opportunities, open borders and assistance of every kind on their way to harming us. In fact, I think those simple and non-violent actions would be more effective and save lives and money. The US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is counterproductive.