Unpromising Land

First Report: Is Israel Over? – The Daily Beast

 Israel is a deeply troubled democracy. A democracy it still is, for its citizens—both Jewish and Arab. But Israel is no democracy when it comes to the semi-occupied 2.5 million Arabs of the West Bank and the 1.5 million semi-besieged Arabs of the Gaza Strip. And all this is now congealing.

Since the West Bank and Gaza were conquered in 1967, successive Israeli governments have failed to fully withdraw from them, either unilaterally or with a peace deal. The Arabs may have been largely at fault—in 2000 Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat turned down an Israeli offer to withdraw from 95 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip—but Israel retains its stranglehold over these people and continues to expand its settlement enterprise.

Now there looms the even greater threat of resurgent Islam, not just within Israel’s borders or the Palestinian territories, but across the region, where it is spreading like a brushfire. Many in the West have taken heart from the so-called Arab Spring, viewing the upheavals as heralds of democratic transformation. Israelis are less optimistic. The Islamist message that is coming out of Ankara, and moving to center stage in Cairo, includes a hard core of anti-Zionism usually accompanied by anti-Semitic overtones. (Egypt’s deposed president Hosni Mubarak is now denounced as a “stooge of the Zionists.” A photo of Netanyahu, dressed in an SS uniform, with a Hitler mustache, making the Nazi salute, appeared on the cover of the popular Egyptian weekly October on Aug. 28. Inside, the journal carried an article called “The New Nazis”—and it isn’t even an Islamist publication.)

Netanyahu is creating a series of bureaucratic salves for the country’s economic ills. But they will be swamped, and rendered irrelevant, in the tide of Palestinian activism and anti-Zionism that will be set off by the Palestinian statehood bid. It will then trigger shock waves around the Arab and Islamic worlds. Months ago, Ehud Barak predicted that Israel will face a “political tsunami.” Here it comes.

 


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33 comments on “Unpromising Land

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  1. Israel is in serious danger of destruction. If this happens, all its citizens–Jewish, Muslim, Russian Orthodox–are likely to be killed. I don’t know how one should deal with this situation. When Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005, anti-Israel sentiment zoomed up all over the world.
    I have been an atheist for most of my life. But I feel one needs to consider new evidence as it appears. It seems not too unlikly that there IS a God, and that He’s an embittered anti-Semite. As the Haggadah says, “In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us, but the Holy One, blessed be He, saves [two-thirds of] us from their hands. It seems to be time for God to kill one-third of the Jewish people again.
    What is the cause of God’s anti-Semitism? It’s because Abraham ended child sacrifice. Here is my poem:
    http://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/AfterTheBinding.html

  2. Israel is in serious danger of further eroding. Destruction isn’t around the corner for Israel, but attempting to continue the present course brings ever more danger.

    An old expression of Israel’s problems goes…………..

    Peace, democracy, the Territories; pick two…..

    The gross and ugly lunacy of expanding settlements in the West Bank has a very real and very terrible “price tag” and the religious loons who think that calling the West Bank by antiquated names as if some lunatic God has ordained that Jews must conquer, repress and displace the real-live inhabitants of the land have already cost Israel more than it can afford. If Israel continues to subsidize the lunacy the “price tag” for the settlements will increase until both democracy AND peace will be gone.

  3. (After Maddow’s half-time ) Nope. The story is one that I’m having trouble believing, even if I know that he’s gonna have it in black-and-white.

  4. @ fuster:
    Why are there settlements? Because the Arab states voted for the 3 No’s of Khartoum in 1967? Why isn’t there a Palestinian state? The Arab world rejected one in 1947. The Palestinians did so at Taba in 2001 and did so again in 2008.
    You know this perfectly well, fuster. Although you know all this information, most of the world doesn’t. What do you accomplish by blaming only one side?

    • George there is still an occupation because of Arab refusal to accept Israel, but the settlements are an entirely other thing. There is NO reason why the Israelis should be stealing the land and the water. What’s their own is their own. What belongs to others is not to be taken from them.

      • Any argument that begins “what belongs to others is not to be taken from them” is going to pose a bit of a problem, since, as a categorical statement, it puts Zionism in the wrong. It’s far easier for ideological defenders of Israel to ignore the question, simply refrain from getting into a discussion about the nature of “belongs” in relation to spots of ground on planet Earth, and proceed to rote recitation of one-sided histories of the conflict. The ideologue then indicts the “entire world” for irrationality, seemingly unaware that such an indictment is and could only be a projection, based on the suppression of rational discussion at the root of the ideological stance. At least the tragic views of the likes of Morris, Soffer, or Friedman don’t require us to pretend incredible and self-serving things about ourselves and others. Since that alternative is mostly devoid of ideals, it’s also mostly devoid of hope, however. It leaves us expecting that whoever happens to be the stronger according to a complex and multi-dimensional, continually tested correlation of forces will continue to oppress the weaker. To the extent that this expectation dominates, it will leave outsiders with less and less reason to lend support to anyone except on the basis of the same rationale as it applies to themselves – requiring, according to the familiar formula regarding the homage to virtue, ever more ludicrous and outlandish versions of moral justifications for an increasingly utterly amoral position.

  5. @ fuster:
    The settlements are there because of the Arab refusal to accept Israel.
    Israel unilaterally evicted settlers from Gaza. It was severely punished by Hamas and by the whole world for doing this.
    In 2005, Sharon said Israel would unilaterally withdraw from most of the West Bank if things worked out well in Gaza. Guess what happened.

    • George, there’s not a reason in hell why the settlements have to be there…and sure, it was the Arabs that refused peace, but the settlements were a tactic toward negotiation that simply didn’t work.

      the settlements simply don’t work and they should be cut back and not expanded or allowed to expand.

      Israel was not punished for evacuating Gaza. That’s just a very lazy and quite incorrect formulation. The Israelis under Sharon, and you should look this up, were asked by the Palestinians NOT to pull out of Gaza without working out a plan with the Palestinian Authority. Those guys warned the Israelis that an abrupt and unilateral pullout would result in a troublesome situation.

      I suspect that Sharon knew that there would be trouble and was hoping for it as a way to say “see, it didn’t work” and therefore we’re keeping the West Bank.
      It didn’t take a genius to figure that Gaza was never gonna be able make a go of it when without the jobs from the departing settlers and the jobs that the Gazans had in Israel, they would be looking at 60% unemployment

  6. Any argument that begins “what belongs to others is not to be taken from them” is going to pose a bit of a problem, since, as a categorical statement, it puts Zionism in the wrong.

    not nessa. Israel was founded on land that was legitimately offered.

    • Yes nessa. Absonessa. Leaving aside a few dreamers, all of the founding Zs were well aware that the project was impossible without the forced displacement of prior owners and occupants. The heroes of the founding of the state were even more clear about what they were doing or would need to do, and sometimes quite rueful about having lacked the will or ability to go even further than they did, but no one can look at the state today and deny that some rather larger numbers of “others” had what once belonged to them taken away (including their lives in many cases).

    • and then we get into the discussion: you didn’t originally say “own” – which is a legal notion. Different legal regimes can assert different things about ownership. You said “belong,” which is something different, and often quite tragically comes into conflict with “own” (whichever “own” among others) in human affairs.

    • You used “own” in the more general sense – “what’s their own,” which wouldn’t apply directly to precise distinctions between legal “ownership” and mere “occupancy.” Your main statement was “What belongs to others is not to be taken from them,” a phrasing which seems to invoke a universal moral law – Thou Shalt Not Steal. It has frequently been a method of colonizers to impose an interpretation of ownership alien to the cultures and interests of those to be displaced – a process exceedingly familiar from the history of the New World, of course.

  7. nah, ” what’s their own” means precisely “that which they own” and” what belongs to others” means “that which others own” as well….I used that second formulation merely to avoid repetition…and I was speaking of legalities rather than ethical concerns.

    the Zionists can’t pass the ethical test as easily as the legal one on the founding of the state.

  8. I maintain that the two usages have different if overlapping implications, but, whatever your position on the semantics, or whatever the semantics of your position, or the semantics of your position on the semantics, or your position on the semantics of your position on the semantics, etc., we agree on the main point, so why this fussing and fighting, I want to know. And since we agree on the main point, you agree with my disagreement with you, that is, that the Zionists and their ideological defenders are too compromised by the issue even to acknowledge it except on the other end of an historical or even mythological recitation that obscures it – also leading to the irony of Mr. Self-Styled Ultra-Rationalist and scourge of the faithful aligning himself with the most faith-insane fringes of the Israeli and American polities. Like Don Miguel, they give the impression of always nearly slack-jawed at the incomprehensible moral calculations of others. My point is that their jaws have been loosened and set a-swing by their own (they possess it, though it’s not a legal distinction) self-administration of moral-intellectual opium.

  9. Maintain away, but you can’t maintain that English is your own language.

    review the bidding and see if I didn’t offer little other than a “not nessa” to a broad assertion.

    who’s aligning and who you maligning ?

    • U sed “not nessa” are the Zionists put in the wrong by a categorical imperative against thievery, land larceny, a national bust-out operation, whatever you want to call it. You can theorize away about the absentee landlords of the Ottoman Empire and the attachment of diverse Arabs to the land of their forefathers, or engage in all manner of historical and political and philosophical and relativistic justification, but the one thing you can’t pretend and still be a denizen of relevant sectors of this universe is that the Zionists aren’t responsible overall for a fair bit of taking what wasn’t theirs.

      Now I’m going to drop the semantic stuff because that’s a very emotional and even dangerous topic. Let’s stick to milder pastime of Middle East politics and history.

  10. But enough about the world of Mondo, and Tikum Alam, whose naivete is almost toxic, Morris is kind of like Horowitz, in the sense that his deconstruction of Israeli society was too effective by half, which was surpassed by Segev and of course Pappe.
    (Silva has relied a good deal on Morris, to set his Allon tales) The reality is for any misgivings the typical Israeli policymaker might have, there is an enemy that has proven utter ruthless in the murder and maiming of innocents, that is Hamas, and so
    far as Fatah is tied to them, they become the foe.

    • A morally insensate statement, as usual and as predicted: As long as there’s an “enemy,” no need to worry about any “misgivings” about anything at all Thus the need to keep the enemy an enemy at all costs, lest inconvenient tremblings at the thought that God might be just disturb the ever-extended night of conscience.

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