by Barry Rubin
It's amazing how rarely any mainstream Israeli view--excluding the far left, which provides good anti-Israel ammunition, and, rarely, the far right, to make them look stupid--gets into many of the American media's most elite organs. I'm not referring here to regular news articles but opinion pieces, columnists, and editorials. Often, it is incredibly easy to give a strong, accurate, and persuasive response to claims being made or ideas being promoted by this media. Yet since no one is allowed to do so, these rather silly and ignorant arguments go largely unanswered.
Here, for example, is the always anti-Israel Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times who writes:
Even his opening sentence acknowledging that
For example, it's wrong to ask
Moreover, the most basic claims made about
Despite a minority position within the country (which disappeared in the last 20 years), that Israel should annex that territory, the main basis of Israeli policy has always been a simple one:
Israel should hold onto an overriding control of this land until a peace can be negotiated that is stable, lasting, includes real Palestinian acceptance of Israel's right to exist, and ends the conflict forever.
If the Palestinian side were willing to do this, peace and a Palestinian state could be achieved within months. If not, no other gimmick will work. This includes the recently touted gimmick that Palestinian prosperity is sufficient to build peace without Palestinian political moderation.
Having said this, let's consider some details.
First, before 1993
Second, and this might sound strange at first but is quite true, whatever
Third, as noted above, the PA can end the Israeli presence whenever it wants to do so simply by making a peace agreement.
In a sense, then, Kristof's stance, and that of the many who echo it, is based on a trick. The PA refuses to make a compromise deal, thus forcing the continuation of the "interim" arrangements, then complains that it is suffering. The solution is then to say that
It is interesting to note that this conception of morality is based on the view, so popular nowadays, that suffering--even if self-induced--trumps every other possible consideration, from common sense, to keeping one's commitments, to existing law, to historic morality. Even terrorism is justified on the basis of the real or alleged suffering of those committing it, and even if the terrorism being committed makes a major contribution to the continuing of the suffering that supposedly created it in the first place.
Yet in the real world if the presence of Israel--settlements, etc.--is "wrong" the PA's refusal to make real peace--stop incitement, agree to a permanent end of the conflict, resettle refugees in Palestine, make a real effort to transform its ideology and public opinion in favor of peace with Israel--is equally wrong.
Finally, of course, Kristof deliberately doesn't mention the Gaza Strip. There the idea that
Incidentally, if and when Kristof and such people decide that the Hamas coup in
There is no doubt that the way Kristof presents the situation is widely accepted in the West, but that, too, is quite wrong. Indeed, this picture is so misleading and using it as the basis for policy is so dangerous that
If I might put it bluntly: Just because you are stupid (having bad judgment) and ignorant (unaware of the facts and history) why should I have to die and see my country destroyed? That is very very wrong.
Note: One might consider a situation in which the Allied occupation of
Remember, too, that the Allies would be stronger than the Germans or Japanese who would thus be eligible for consideration as repressed underdogs. And then if a neo-Nazi or aggressive nationalist movement seized control in a large part of Germany or Japan, openly proclaiming that it was going to wipe out neighboring countries, would it be wrong to overthrow those regimes or, if that was not possible, to put embargos on them?
No analogy is perfect including this one. But given the support the Palestinians would enjoy from elsewhere for continuing their war on
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.
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