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Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's not about 'settlements'

The David Petraeus comments from last month continue to be played as if there were practical actions that could be taken from them. Laura Rozen has a lengthy piece on them at Politico, which probably ought to be answered.

Rozen weaves together several claims that - whatever he said - Petraeus is 'right.' The first is Defense Secretary Robert Gates:
"What we do believe is that the -- heretofore, the lack of progress in the peace process has provided political ammunition to our adversaries in the Middle East and in the region, and that progress in this arena will enable us not only to perhaps get others to support the peace process, but also support us in our efforts to try and impose effective sanctions against Iran,” Gates said Tuesday.
Two points bear raising here. First, the lack of progress in the 'peace process' isn't Israel's fault. In 2000, in 2001 and in 2008 (that we know of), incredibly generous offers were made to the 'Palestinians.'If what they wanted was a state, they would have accepted one of those offers. But they didn't.

Second, progress in the 'peace process' has NOTHING to do with imposing effective sanctions against Iran. Even if one assumes that the Arab countries care about the 'peace process' (which is a big assumption), they are all in favor of the United States (preferably) or even Israel (if no one else will) stopping Iran. The parties that are blocking sanctions are Russia and China, and they are blocking sanctions out of greed and not because they are conditioning their support on the creation of a 'Palestinian state.'

Rozen goes next to The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg.
General Petraeus is right. We can't get around that. He is, essentially, the American ambassador to the Arab world, and to the Muslim world beyond it. The State Department has ambassadors on the ground, but Petraeus is something above ambassador, and when he goes around the Middle East he meets ferquently with heads of state, and from what I understand, he hears quite often about settlements on the West Bank and about what the Arabs call Israeli intransigence, and occasionally his interlocutors answer his requests for help on various issues by saying, 'Let's see what you guys do on the Palestinian question and then we'll see what we can do for you on your problems.'

"Is there hypocrisy here? Of course there's hypocrisy. Does the average Arab leader care about the Palestinians? If they cared, they would have bought them new houses with their oil money a long tim ago. But they know that their people, thanks to al Jazeera, care, and are aware of the situation on the ground, and they know that America is Israel's prime benefactor. The point is, the perception of israeli intransigence makes it seem like the deck is stacked against the Arabs and considering that we need the Arabs for oil, to stand against Iran, for all kinds of things, it's Israel's job to help its main ally unstack that deck a little. Petraeus was just telling the truth about the on-the-ground reality."
Regarding Iran, see above. Regarding oil, there hasn't been an Arab oil boycott over Israel in 37 years, and I don't expect we will see one again over the 'Palestinians.' The Arabs need the money.

But most importantly, the Arabs know that there is nothing the United States or anyone else can do for the 'Palestinians.' They are wallowing in their own incompetence, corruption and murderous hatred. And the Arab leaders don't want the problem solved, because any deal that allowed two states to exist side by side would of necessity preclude the 'return' of the descendants of 'Palestinian refugees' to a rump State of Israel. What would happen to all of those 'refugees' who are living in squalor in Lebanon and Syria and Jordan and Iraq waiting to go 'home' to 'Palestine'? One of two things would happen: Either the Arab governments would have to accept them into their countries as full citizens, which they have shown no willingness to do, or they would be faced with violent rebellion by these people who have no place to go. Sounds like a massacre in the making.

Curiously, the so-called 'Jewish leaders' with whom Goldberg and Rozen spoke, were afraid to go on the record. The Talmud says in Sotah and Sanhedrin that in the generation before the Messiah comes, "the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog." Our rabbis explain that this means that the 'leadership' won't lead; instead they will keep looking back to make sure everyone is following. These putative leaders fit right in.

Finally, Rozen cites a Haaretz quote from former Sharon adviser Dov Weisglass that I discussed here. What I wrote there bears repeating, but first I'd like to expand the quote. Here's what Weisglass said including things that Rozen didn't quote:
"Netanyahu should have taken into account the change within the American Jewish community," Dov Weisglass, a senior adviser to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told the MESS Report. "Their support for Israel is decreasing and they will defend Israel in the face of the administration only on matters where there is a real threat to Israel. I have serious doubt that U.S. Jews see the Netanyahu government's territorial aspirations in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] and the Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem as an existential matter."
And my response:
This is true. It's partly because we have pretended for the last 16.5 years that the 'peace process' will lead to 'peace' and that we can afford to give up Judea and Samaria. We have to stop doing that. We have to show again and again why Judea and Samaria are vital for Israel's security. If Judea and Samaria - God forbid - go to form a 'Palestinian state,' the Jewish state's long-term survival is very much in jeopardy.

But the second part of that statement is also true. We have lost American Jewry. Not all of it. But we've lost most of the non-Orthodox and nearly all of the intermarried. We have to acknowledge that - like it or not - our power base in the US is Christian. Without Christian support, America would not be supporting us. The Jews will vote for Obama regardless of what he does to us. The Christians won't. Either we cultivate that relationship or somewhere down the road they will tire of us and we will lose it. How do we cultivate that relationship? Stand up for ourselves. Show off our history. Judea and Samaria are where our biblical forefathers walked. They are God's country and God promised it to us. There's nothing wrong with making the security argument and the entitlement argument side by side. One doesn't preclude the other.
In summary, there is no agreement between Israel and the 'Palestinians' on the table because the 'Palestinians' will not accept a Jewish state of any size. This isn't about 'settlements' - it's about Israel's existence.

The argument that the Arab states would be more cooperative with the United States if only the US 'resolved' the 'Palestinian problem' is bogus, especially when one considers that the only resolution acceptable to the Arabs is the destruction of the Jewish state. The Arabs will act in their own interests, and will cooperate with the United States when they see that as being in their interest. The 'Palestinian problem' has no connection to Iran. The Arabs will support anything the US agrees to do about Iran (which is so far nothing) and they are not the ones holding up sanctions.

The vast majority of American Jewry will support Obama regardless of what he does to Israel. It's the opposite of James Baker's "F**k the Jews - they don't vote for us anyway." It's "F**k the Jews - they'll vote for us anyway. American support for Israel is not dependent on the 1.7% of the US population that identifies as Jewish. American support for Israel comes from America's Christian heartland, and they will vote for either party. Thus all the 'Jewish leaders' who are afraid to have Rozen and Goldberg identify them can remain anonymous.

We in Israel have to keep acting in our own interests. Returning to the 1967 borders would be an existential danger for us. We saw it in Lebanon (which we left ten years ago this week), and we saw it in Gaza. If God forbid we return to the 1967 borders, within a few years, we won't have a state left.


At 10:34 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

In sum, Israel has to stop acting like a battered wife and start standing up for itself and in own interests. The habit of constantly submitting to Obami demands is not doing Israel any favors. What the Jerusalem freeze has communicated is the Jews no longer care about their own capital; they are no longer willing to fight for their own existence. If that's true (G-d forbid) the Jewish State will not see much of the rest of this century. It seems clear Israel's elite has quite simply lost the will to continue to survive as a nation.

At 10:48 PM, Blogger Eliana said...

Caroline Glick wrote an article a few months ago where she suggested that Israel should call the Arab world's bluff about a one-state solution.

More and more, I see this as the only option that Israel has in a world where Obama will be the U.S. president for almost three more years while being determined to force Israel to commit national suicide via an impossible peace deal that won't bring peace.

1. Dissolve the Oslo Accords, which would dissolve the Palestinian Authority. All PA officials would be dismissed and not rehired in any way.

2. Annex Judea and Samaria.

3. Make the PLO/Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, the DFLP, etc., illegal so that they are not allowed to operate and must leave the country.

4. Finish building the security fence.

5. Invite "Palestinians" to apply for citizenship in Judea and Samaria without allowing passage through the security fence except for the reasons that Arabs are allowed to pass through now. This will have to be in effect for decades (possibly) since there has been no Arab abandonment of the terrorism that has gone on for decades and decades. The situation will be re-evaluated as time goes on.

6. Remove checkpoints within Judea and Samaria as permitted by the situation on the ground.

Israel would be a larger Jewish state with a non-existent demographic bomb. There would be a larger Arab minority but Israel's Jewish population is rising too (thank G-d for Israel's religious Jews).

If the Arabs have citizenship and they can vote, they still won't vote Israel into an Islamic state.

The main problem with the Arabs' version of the "one-state solution" is that they are demanding that power be shared immediately with Abu Mazen.

Israel needs to tell the world that Abu Mazen has now retired and Israel will move forward as a Jewish state with a larger Arab minority. The PA will be dissolved immediately and gone forever. They didn't do enough for their sudden departure to cause anarchy anyway.

At 10:56 PM, Blogger Eliana said...

P.S. Of course, no additional Arab so-called "refugees" would be allowed to move into the country. The Arab world would have to deal with these people on their own.

My first choice in all this would be keeping the status quo, but I fear that Obama won't allow it.

So I think that dissolving the Oslo Accords and moving forward to claim all the land that legally belongs to the Jewish people is the only answer while Israel is faced with the danger of Barack Obama.

At 11:00 PM, Blogger Eliana said...

One more thing -- the recent announcement about Israel legalizing many or most of the outposts in Judea and Samaria sounds like a step in this direction.

At 12:15 AM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Question: Does a "two state" solution have to mean two countries? If the Palestinians have repeatedly refused their own country, a two country solution has been rejected. I don't blame them because they won the lottery to be adjacent to a high achiever like Israel. Granted that isn't the public line they take, but I would imagine it does play a part.

So, as an alternative, how about a federalist country with two (or three) "states". Like Germany has 16 states. The states can run their domestic stuff and the Federal govt can run the security. And Israel could set their state borders. And maybe people can move away, but must get a security permit to move between states. Would the Jewish Israelis living in remote sites (we saw them on our tour) be willing to be part of the Pali state for civilian issues? This may be absurd or have been evaluated before and discarded as an idea...

At 3:18 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Sunlight - it actually means three Palestinian states - one in Jordan, one in Yesha and one in Gaza. When the Israeli Left tells you the Palestinians lack a homeland and self-determination, that they are suffering under "occupation" they're selling you a load of horse manure. And we know the Palestinians are from being the most disadvantaged people on the planet. Just the opposite.


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