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Sunday, May 03, 2009

A convenient reality

There's a very interesting and perceptive comment in Friday's YNet that I would like to share with you (Hat Tip: NormanF in comments). The basic argument is that there is no solution to the 'Palestinian' problem now or in the foreseeable future, and the best thing Israel can do is to take advantage of the current convenient reality. I don't agree with everything he says for mostly historical reasons (he's putting the best face on several things that I would regard as mistakes). For the time being, I agree that maintaining the current status quo ought to be an Israeli interest. However, I would allow the expansion of existing Jewish towns, and even the construction of new ones when appropriate opportunities are presented. The 'Palestinian' unwillingness to compromise and pursuit of terror ought to have real consequences.
Three problems make up the discussion on solving the conflict: Morality, demography, and security. The security aspect has to do with the question of defensible borders, yet the problem is that the 1967 borders would not enable us to defend the coastal plain. The demographic aspect has to do with the threat on the future existence of Israel as Jewish and democratic, in the face of the danger of annexing millions of Arabs. The combination of these two problems produces the following conflict: Israel in possession of the territories is a defensible country, yet it is not a democratic one, or alternately, not a Jewish one. This is compounded by the moral problem stemming from the daily and corrupting control over millions of Palestinians.

The Left’s two-state solution eliminates the demographic and moral problem, yet exchanges in for an unreasonable deterioration of the security problem.

On the other hand, the Right’s annexation solution may resolve the problem of borders, yet exchanges it for a deterioration of the demographic and moral problem.

In this context, the partial implementation of the Oslo Accords and the disengagement plan, despite the grave damages it causes to security and to Zionism, also brought some benefit.


Instead of thinking about how we should be changing the situation, perhaps we should be asking how we can maintain it. This indeed contradicts all the intuitions that have been implanted in us in light of the "paradigm of solution." The aversion to the current situation and the assumption that "something has to change" is premised on a perception of the existence of a utopian problem-free world. Indeed, we need to change, but not the world, but rather, our perception. It isn't the situation we need to modify, but rather, our attitude to it. Not because this situation is the best possible, but rather, because it's the lesser of the evils.
Again, I would not have implemented either the Oslo Accords or the expulsion of the Jews from Gaza (both were foolish and their results were predictable), but under the current circumstances I would agree that maintaining the status quo (except as noted above) is in our interest.

And if that causes 'Palestinians' to leave - all the better.


At 12:04 PM, Blogger Matt said...

When I debate with friends and family, I take the position that a two-solution must be opposed at the current time.

I am always challened to offer some kind of alternative.

As if to say, "If you don't have an answer better than the two state-solution, then you must support it."

Of course the truth is, doing nothing is better then doing something foolish.

At 6:10 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Thanks, Carl. I should clarify I would not have implemented Oslo or the Disengagement if it had been up to me. I think they were mistakes for which Israel has paid a very dear price. That said, I agree with the author's main point is that not every problem in life necessarily has a solution. Sometimes one has to muddle through and Israel is under no real obligation to grant the Palestinians more than the autonomy they already have. The sort of self-rule the Palestinians have is not going to change even if Benjamin Netanyahu gives them formal statehood trappings. There is no real reason to change a reality that is working well for all sides. Hopefully Lieberman can explain why the two-state formula is a complete non-starter during his European tour this coming week.
He should explain to his hosts that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies especially well to the Middle East.


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