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Gaza Ceasefire on Bibi’s Terms

UPDATE: Day 5, the death toll has risen to 52 Gazans killed with 400 wounded (three Israelis were killed several days ago).

Haaretz is reporting that Bibi Netanyahu is telling foreign leaders that Hamas has two choices: to stop rocket fire on Israel or prepare for war.  The terms for the ceasefire are entirely favorable to Bibi: Hamas will end rocket fire, agree to no more attacks on its troops at the border fence.  It will get in return: nothing.  Except no invasion.  Gee, sounds like a straight-up deal to me.

I want to make clear that I’m not directly engaged in this issue as a Palestinian or a Gaza resident, so I don’t have skin in the game so to speak (except moral skin).  But if you were a Hamas leader, after losing your top commander, would you take this offer to avoid an invasion?  Yes, a ground assault would cause great suffering for Gazans.  More babies will inevitably die.

But think of the alternative: Israel invades.  It mucks around in Gaza for a week or two, kills another few hundred Gazan civilians, has little or nothing to show for it in terms of military advantage.  Hamas gets to stand tall in its resistance to Israeli oppression burnishing its credentials among the Arab-Muslim world.  It gets the sympathy and support of the Arab world.  At the end of that time, there will still be a ceasefire, but one bought at a much higher price for Israel in opprobrium from the international community.

Further, note that there is no mention from the international leaders supposedly so concerned about de-escalating the conflict of ending Israel’s siege against Gaza.  That is truly a point Hamas might be interested in negotiating.  But no one’s interested in Gazans.  They’re much more interested in maintaining a minimal level of stability in the region so the whole damn thing doesn’t blow up in their faces like the Balkans did.

I note that the ceasefire Bibi is calling for is precisely the same one offered by Hamas to Bibi BEFORE he murdered Ahmed Jabari.  So what does Bibi get out of it if Hamas caves?  He gets a dead Hamas commander whose scalp he can use during the election, a ceasefire and calm leading to the elections, a Speak Loudly and Carry a Big Stick image for those elections, and only three dead Israelis.  Not to mention that those few days of fear for Israelis living in bomb shelters will remind them it was Bibi who brought them out of them.  A little fear and paranoia benefits politicians of Bibi’s stripe.

Wholly cynical, wholly calculating, wholly brilliant in the ultranationalist political context that is latter-day Israel.  The only thing that can break this cycle and batten Bibi about the head a bit is Hamas resistance to the offer, an Israeli invasion, and the subsequent finger-pointing that would result from Israel’s failure to gain any substantial benefit or advantage.

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{ 58 comments… add one }
  • Tibor November 18, 2012, 3:26 AM

    No, no, I think Israel learned the lessons from Cast Lead where indeed the invasion seemed pretty ineffective and with no clear aims and there were too many unnecessary civilian casualties because of lack of clear plans. Anybody who is familiar with the processes in Israel know that every major event, and this one is clearly such, is investigated post-factum to the last detail. You may notice for instance the far lower number of unintended civilian casualties this time (not Hamas and Islamic-Jihad operative, which are also included in the published tallies). In my view the real dilemma that Israel faces here is about Hamas itself namely, is there a chance that it can fundamentally change and forgo its militant ideological posture in favor of a more political an administration- like role – in which case even cooperation with Israel can resume (as was the case with the defunct-by-terror initial tries in the past e.g. a common industrial park). That will need cooperation with Egypt and, paradoxically, it is the closer ties to Hamas that may enable an effective Egyptian role in making governing Gaza more orderly and less belligerent-focused. Who knows, that may even create some better ties between Israel and Egypt (both are seriously concerned about growing lawlessness in the Sinai) and perhaps gradually revert Gaza to being run by Egypt? If that happens then and some kind of real lasting arrangement emerges among all parties involved it was all for the better.

    • Deïr Yassin November 18, 2012, 4:32 AM

      “You may notice for instance the far lower number of unintended civilian casualties this time…”
      Nah, what I’ve noticed is that you’re a navel-gazing supremacist who actually think you’re a humanist.
      This morning Eyad Abu Khusa, 18 months, was killed in an air raid on al-Bureij camp, and his two brothers of 4 and 5 years were seriously wounded. Earlier this morning, Tamer Abu Sayfan, three years, and his one-year old sister Jumana, were killed in an air strike on northern Gaza.
      PS. Ma’an just reports that a fouth child has been killed in an air strike on al-Shati camp: no name yet.
      Please, dump your BS somewhere else !

      • Igor November 18, 2012, 4:50 AM

        Deïr Yassin – You, like Richard, love using children to argue… You sound like you are so happy when Gazan child hurt, cause then you can present it.. What you forget is that Israelis are not happy when it happens, they do not go out to celebrate Gazan child death (unlike what Gazans, or at least Hamas supporters, when a successful terror attak kills civilians, no matter wether they are men, women or children), and they do not use their own children as a human shield, unlike Palestinians – and I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

        • Elisabeth November 18, 2012, 5:10 AM

          There we go again Deir Yassin, this time it is not an Ilan but an Igor.

          Igor, Israeli’s picknicked on the Gaza border during Cast Lead to look at the ‘fireworks’ and they are drinking beer and doing the same now, saying that Arabs are lower than dogs and should all be killed.

          http://mondoweiss.net/2012/11/israeli-watching-bombing-of-gaza-from-southern-israel-arabs-are-less-than-dogs-kill-them-all.html

          And what about this:
          http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/after-jerusalem-crash-racist-comments-appear-on-netanyahu-s-facebook-page-1.413656

        • Deïr Yassin November 18, 2012, 6:15 AM

          @ Igor
          Yeah, we know that Israelis are not happy when a Palestinian child is hurt. The Israeli expression ‘bokhim ve-yorim’ is almost as well-known as ‘chutzpah’….. Sure, Israelis don’t use their own children as human shields, the IDF uses Palestinians instead, and mostly children. Jessica Montell from B’Tselem is interviewed here:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXq57XK2L0A
          If you google you’ll find many other examples. Of course you saw Palestinians using their own children as human shields, it’s a well-known fact: Palestinians don’t love their children.

          • Igor November 18, 2012, 7:35 AM

            Yeah.. Israel should probably shut up and suck it up when rockets being fired into its cities…. You show me one normal country that will not react in this case.. Until then, we have very little to talk about.. Stop blind hate Israel and try to see the other side. That’s what I do, and no, I do not support Bibi or others like him.. I never judge someone before trying to understand his opinion.. I do not hate Arabs/Palestinians or innocent Gazans. I wish I could say the same about you..

        • mary November 18, 2012, 7:32 AM

          91 percent of Israelis are supporting this monstrous invasion. This morning a media building was bombed and several journalists were killed, one of whom lost his leg. This afternoon Israel outdid itself and killed 10 members of a family, five of whom were children.

          If I see one more apologist comment saying how humane, decent, cautious blah blah blah Israel is, I am going to vomit.

          The human shield crap is just that, Igor – it’s crap and you know it. Unless you’re talking about the IOF, who were caught doing it during Cast Lead on videotape.

          You want Hamas to be more “administrative,” Tibor? First, stop bombing their administrative offices. Second, just stop bombing.

          • Igor November 18, 2012, 7:47 AM

            Sorry to tell you that you are wrong, and probably have no real idea of what is going on here.
            About journallists: The day before yesterday I was watching Israeli channel 2, when they interviewed live one of European reporters currently in Gaza. The reporter said that there are rockets being fired 200 meters from his hotel (and diplomats and reporters are not allowed to leave Gaza – by Hamas).

          • Deïr Yassin November 18, 2012, 8:37 AM

            @ Ya Sister Mary
            I’ve just seen horrible pictures of the four siblings (the eldest was 7) of the Al-Dalou-family whose house in Sheikh Radwan was bombed this afternoon. The death toll has risen to 14, they’re still trying to get bodies out of the ruins. Northern Gaza is being sheltered by the sea.
            Best way to follow the news is GazaUnderAttack#
            It’s best to ignore the hasbaristas in a time like that. May they go to hell and take the Israeli government with them. After Yisrael Katz saying that Gaza should be cut off from all electricity and water-supply and be bombed till the population flee to Egypt, now Eli-Israel-Belongs-To-The-White-Man-Yishai is quoted in Haaretz saying that “the goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages” (live stream Haaretz).

          • mary November 18, 2012, 9:59 AM

            These two are just going beyond the pale, so I’m not going to get sucked into their ludicrous yarns. I can read the news as well as anyone else, I am quite literate, and I understand what I read. It’s just so pathetic that they’re both here peddling their nonsense even though no one is buying.

            @Deir Yassin, I don’t know if you know me on Facebook or not, but I have the feeling you do. I’m the cat lover but today my photos are all about Gaza.

        • Richard Silverstein November 18, 2012, 5:41 PM

          Other hasbarists before have tried the “I’ve seen it with my own eyes” line. When called on it as I am here they usually back pedal & say my cousin Itzik saw it or I heard it from a friend in Miluim. So you’ll present proof of what you allegedly saw, where, when, and in what unit you served. Until you offer such proof I consider you a poseur & liar. If such proof isn’t forthcoming within 24 hrs, then I reserve the right to moderate you. When you can follow the comment rules & provide evidence for such claims, then you will be removed fr moderation.

          Do not lie. Do not make things up. We will call you on it. It will not end well for you here.

          • Igor November 19, 2012, 1:12 AM

            How an eye wittness can prove something? Believe me, I wish I didn’t have to see it..

          • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 1:19 AM

            I told you how to prove it. You still haven’t offered any proof. Until you do, you have no credibility.

          • Igor November 19, 2012, 1:31 AM

            I’m sorry, but I do not think I can discuss such details.. You can silence me… It should be the easiest way for you to end any debate… If you wish, you can remove that comment which I cannot prove (I have my reason) and we’ll continue from there.. Of course it’s your choise, there is no democracy here…

          • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 2:16 AM

            You can write me privately with your evidence & I will not publish it or share it. But it better be exactly what you claimed, eyewitness testimony which you can back up with dates, times, places & other identifying factors. Otherwise, you’re toast.

            BTW, I’m not silencing you. You violated the comment rules. I’m giving you the opportunity to show respect for them by proving a claim you made. If you can’t or won’t that’s not my problem, it’s yours.

      • Tibor November 18, 2012, 6:10 AM

        @DeirYassin
        OK, I am going “to return the compliment” for all the psych-analytic attributes you so lavishly throw at me. I think you became totally selective in the way you see things – what fits into the model in your mind is cited, what not – ignored. It`s an obsession, a pathology and not a valuable analysis – a reflection of your mindset rather than of reality.

        • Daniel F. November 18, 2012, 7:46 AM

          @Tibor

          Tibor, you are partially right but from what I understand from DeirYassin (and I know that she will correct me in as much as I am wrong), the humanitarian tragedy in Palestine, both in the past and in the present, touches a chord in her that is much less sensitive in most of the other commentators here, so DeirYassin offers a unique (here) perspective that helps others better understand the conflict as seen from the Palestinian side.

          It’s not really an obsession,she seeks answers like the rest of us and perception is reality.

    • Castelliio November 18, 2012, 6:46 PM

      Tibor’s comment is so ignorant I don’t know where to begin.

      Let’s start with the fact that it was Israel that wanted all of Hamas made illegal, not just its military wing. Peace was forged in Ireland by making the military wing illegal, but accepting the legislative wing and entering into negotiations with it. Israel nixed that in the case of the Palestinians: the legislative branch and functions were as “illegal” and “guilty” and to be “punished” as was the militant branch.

  • Igor November 18, 2012, 3:31 AM

    The third option, give something in return for ending rockets fire, if presented to Hamas, teaches Hamas only one thing: Whenever you can, fire rockets at Israel and you’ll get something in return.. That’s kind of stupid.. Didn’t expect it from someone intelligent as I thought you are (my mistake).

    • Richard Silverstein November 18, 2012, 6:03 PM

      Actually, your comment is what’s really stupid. You think you have the world by the tail. You dispense benefits to Hamas by the eye dropper full & expect blessings in return. You act as if you’re Palestine’s colonial master teaching the primitive natives the rules of civilization. People like you make me sick. You’re out of touch with reality. The result of your ideas is more death for you & the Palestinians.

      I never expected to hear myself say this, but you truly need to suffer and personally before you understand you can’t take anything from the Palestinians without taking it away from yourself. For every idiot comment like this, I’d like the idiot to experience a deep, penetrating loss. Something so severe that it would shake you to the core. And if it makes you so hateful that you become a settler, Arab killer, or Jewish terrorist, well then the more of you there are, the shorter this iteration of Israel will be.

      If it turns you into Yitzhak Frankenthal or Pnina Elchanan Peled, well then perhaps the is hope for Israel yet.

      But to hear nonentities like you spout outrage like this & not have to suffer personally for your idiocy is unbearable.

  • Yonatan November 18, 2012, 4:14 AM

    Stopping rockets? That is what Jabari was doing, with some success, before he was murdered by the Israeli government. It seems Netanyahu wanted more rockets to fly to justify the current rampage.

    • Igor November 18, 2012, 4:18 AM

      Interesting… I wonder who sent those rockets starting two days BEFORE Jabari met his hairi virgins…

      • mary November 18, 2012, 7:35 AM

        Calling foul. Stop the “virgins” crap, it’s offensive and unnecessary, not to mention irrelevant to the discussion.

        • Igor November 18, 2012, 7:43 AM

          Sorry, it was really unnecessary.. sometimes the emotion get me too.. but the point was clear..

      • Richard Silverstein November 18, 2012, 6:06 PM

        That’s it. Another comment rule violation. If you want to gloat or mouth snark about someone’s death, by God you’ll do it in some other hasbara cesspool. You’re moderated & warned that further violations will get you the boot.

        • Igor November 19, 2012, 12:50 AM

          About that comment.. I already told here that I get emotional sometimes, like all people who have emotions. And I don’t understand why do you include me in “hasbarists” group without knowing who I am? I don’t call you a terrorist.. Or that’s the way you see the world.. black and white..

          • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 1:20 AM

            You don’t understand there’s a difference between a “hasbarist” and a “terrorist?” That’s yet another perfect example of the disproportionality of the hasbarist mind.

      • Richard Silverstein November 18, 2012, 6:19 PM

        If Islamist terrorists meet 72 virgins after martyrdom, where do hasbarists go when they’ve made the “ultimate sacrifice?” I wouldn’t mind sending you there…or at least into comment moderation.

  • Bob Mann November 18, 2012, 4:27 AM

    Are you saying that (in your opinion) Hamas should not accept a cease fire right now under these conditions?

    You seem to be presenting the non-cease fire option in a more positive light than the cease fire one.

    • Elisabeth November 18, 2012, 5:02 AM

      Richard just pointed out that from Hamas’ perspective the cease-fire option has little benefits. So he did not say Hamas SHOULD not accept, just that it is likely Hamas WILL not accept. Get it? (Still at it with your ‘earnest questions’ are you?)

      • Bob Mann November 18, 2012, 9:47 AM

        Not sure that I fully understand the distinction you are making.

        Doesn’t it make sense that if something has little benefit then one should not accept it?

        Do you think Hamas SHOULD accept a cease fire under the conditions outlined above?

        • Elisabeth November 18, 2012, 12:42 PM

          I don’t know.

          What do YOU think?

          • Bob Mann November 18, 2012, 4:08 PM

            I think that an immediate cease fire is needed without question.

        • Richard Silverstein November 18, 2012, 5:10 PM

          I will offer my opinion when it’s warranted. But for me to suggest what Hamas should or shouldn’t accept after their equivalent of Ariel Sharon was murdered would be chutzpah.

  • Rain November 18, 2012, 7:56 AM

    Some thoughts…
    Obviously the ceasefire will be on Bibi’s terms. Even if I disagree, why would I think differently? Since when does the weaker side get to set the terms and conditions? Especially if this time the stronger side has at least some of world opinion still in its favor.

    Of course no one who is against Israel in this conflict is going to recognize that Israel is acting cautiously to avoid civilian casualties. Nevertheless much planning for this conflict revolves around that aim. That the reason is to save human life is probably not a theory most people who respond on this blog would support.

    The comments on this blog by both supporters and opponents of Israel are build on the same base. Recognize only the suffering of one side. Negate the other side. Even if the suffering is uneven (as it obviously is in this case), I see no difference between the hasbarists who don’t recognize the suffering of our neighbors, perpetrated by us. And the opinion of the anti-Israeli lobby who recognize Palestinians suffering but cancel out the hardships felt by Israelis under rocket fire because there’s just no comparison and Israelis are the only aggressors. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad, because the way in which the Israeli and Palestinian leadership behave with each other is nicely mirrored on the comments of this blog post. And the chance for reconciliation in either location is rock bottom.

  • Tom November 18, 2012, 9:50 AM

    This reminds me of Lidice, a disproportional response for lessons sake.

    Israel needs more land for expansion and that land is occupied by the Palestinians. You have to move or kill the Palestinians to get the land. All the other Arab countries are watching and know that if they do not help the Palestinians they are next, let us call it the “Domino Theory”.

    Iran is getting sympathy and credibility and the weakened US might have to get into another war.

    Perhaps this will be the war that will weaken the US so badly that it will loose its superpower status and China could take over the role of dominating the World.

    Israel is loosing all of the moderate support, I no longer support Israel. Israel has become a nation of warmongers.

    Chomsky explains this well.

    Justice for Palestine?
    Noam Chomsky interviewed by Stephen R. Shalom and Justin Podur
    March 30, 2004
    . 1. What do you see as the best solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict?

    It depends what time frame we have in mind. In the short term, the only feasible and minimally decent solution is along the lines of the international consensus that the US has unilaterally blocked for the last 30 years: a two-state settlement on the international border (green line), with “minor and mutual adjustments,” in the terms of official US policy, though not actual policy after 1971. By now, US-backed Israeli settlement and infrastructure projects change the import of “minor.” Nevertheless, several programs of basically that nature are on the table, the most prominent being the Geneva Accords, formally presented in Geneva in December, which gives a detailed program for a 1-1 land swap and other aspects of a settlement, and is about as good as is likely to be achieved — and could be achieved if the US government would back it, which is of course the one issue that we can hope to influence, hence the most important for us. So far, the US has refused to do so. “The United States conspicuously was not among the governments sending a message of support,” the New York Times reported in a (generally disparaging) news story on the December 1 meetings in Geneva where the Accords were presented.

    2. There are some people who argue that while a two-state solution may have been possible in the past, factors including the settlements and economic and demographic changes over the last 37 years have so intertwined Israeli Jews and Palestinians that a two-state solution today could not realistically provide for two viable states. How do you assess this argument?

    To clarify, the question is whether the two communities are so intertwined in the occupied territories that no division is possible: they have always been intertwined within Israel. I think the argument is incorrect — as, incidentally, do the former heads of the Israeli Shin Bet (General Security Services, GSS), who recently discussed the matter publicly (Nov. 14, 2003). They were in general agreement that Israel could and should leave the Gaza Strip completely, and that in the West Bank, 85-90% of the settlers would leave “with a simple economic plan” while there are perhaps 10% “with whom we will have to clash” to remove them, not a very serious problem in their view. The Geneva Accords and Ayalon-Nusseibah plans are based on similar assumptions, which appear realistic.

    3. A related argument holds that the status quo already is a two-state solution — that the only two-state solution Israel would accept is a kind of Bantustan, disconnected territories with borders controlled by Israel, under Israeli military and economic domination, and that this is the logic of two-state proposals to date, notably Oslo. How do you assess this argument?

    What “Israel will accept” depends on what is decided by the great power that the more astute Israeli commentators call “the boss-man called ‘partner’.” And that decision is our responsibility. As for what Israelis would accept, polls vary, depending on how questions are asked, but it seems that in general the assessment of the former heads of GSS is widely shared. Oslo was not a two-state proposal. That is a common misunderstanding. The Declaration of Principles of September 1993 stated only that the “permanent status” would be based on UN 242, which offers nothing to the Palestinians, not on UN 242 supplemented with the call for a Palestinian state in the occupied territories, the international consensus that the US has blocked since the mid-1970s. The Oslo agreements were, therefore, pure rejectionism. The Rabin and Peres governments following the first Oslo agreement never even mentioned a Palestinian state. More crucially, the Oslo agreements did not bar US-backed Israeli settlement and development programs, which is why the head of the authentic Palestinian negotiating team, Haidar Abdul-Shafi, refused even to attend the White House ceremony in 1993. And as Rabin and Peres made clear, they intended to continue with these programs, and did so. That continued through the entire Oslo process; the peak year for settlement was 2000, Clinton-Barak’s last year. By then the issue of a Palestinian state had finally arisen, and the issue was where it would be and with what modalities. The Clinton-Barak Camp David proposals of 2000 were impossible, for reasons that have been discussed at length. There was considerable improvement at the Taba negotiations of January 2001, but these were cancelled by Barak and never formally renewed. Informal negotiations continued, leading to the Geneva Accords. (For discussion of Camp David and the aftermath, see my Hegemony or Survival, chap. 7, and sources cited; and in the mainstream, among others Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, Foreign Affairs, May-June 2002; Jeremy Pressman, International Security, Fall 2003. The most informative continuing analysis is in Geoffrey Aronson’s Report on Israeli Settlements, Middle East Foundation.)

    It is, incidentally, quite true that none of these proposals deal with the overwhelming imbalance in military and economic power between Israel and an eventual Palestinian state.

    4. What do you think of a single-state solution, in the form of a democratic, secular state? Do you think such a solution is desirable today? Is it realistic today?

    There has never been a legitimate proposal for a democratic secular state from any significant Palestinian (or of course Israeli) group. One can debate, abstractly, whether it is “desirable.” But it is completely unrealistic. There is no meaningful international support for it, and within Israel, opposition to it is close to universal. It is understood that this would soon become a Palestinian state with a Jewish minority, and with no guarantee for either democracy or secularism (even if the minority status would be accepted, which it would not). Those who are now calling for a democratic secular state are, in my opinion, in effect providing weapons to the most extreme and violent elements in Israel and the US.

    5. Is it really “understood” by all those now calling for a democratic secular state that such a state would guarantee neither democracy nor secularism? Why is it inevitable that a democratic secular state would degenerate? And can you elaborate on your argument that calling for a democratic secular state in effect provides weapons to the most extreme and violent elements.

    What is “understood,” I can’t say. But what will happen is clear enough. If popular pressures in the US (primarily) and Israel have not even been able to compel the governments to accept a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus, then, a fortiori, they will not be able to compel the governments to accept elimination of Israel in favor of a single Palestinian state in which Israeli Jews will soon be a minority. Furthermore, it is next to inconceivable that more than a very tiny minority of the Israeli public would even consider such a proposal, nor is there the slightest meaningful international support for it. So any further discussion is completely abstract, and has no relation to anything even imaginable today. But if we continue anyway, the (completely abstract) question that arises is not whether it is inevitable that a state declared to be “democratic and secular” will degenerate, but whether there will be any guarantee of democracy and secularism. And there wouldn’t be. Israel, for example, already calls itself “democratic and secular,” but in practice has devised an elaborate array of mechanisms over the years, ranging from legalistic to administrative practice, which grant enormous privileges to the Jewish population. And the same is true of other states that describe themselves as “democratic” or “secular.” In the case of an imagined Palestinian state, there is surely no greater reason to expect guarantees, and no one would have any reason to put any faith in that. That would be true even if there had ever been a credible Palestinian proposal for a “democratic secular state.” The call for a “democratic secular state,” which is not taken seriously by the Israeli public or internationally, is an explicit demand for the destruction of Israel, offering nothing to Israelis beyond the hope of a degree of freedom in an eventual Palestinian state. The propaganda systems in Israel and the US will joyously welcome the proposal if it gains more than even marginal attention, and will labor to give it great publicity, interpreting it as just another demonstration that there is “no partner for peace,” so that the US-Israel have no choice but to establish “security” by caging barbaric Palestinians into a West Bank dungeon while taking over the valuable lands and resources. The most extreme and violent elements in Israel and the US could hope for no greater gift than this proposal.

    6. At one time, you urged a single bi-national state as the best solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Do you think such a solution is desirable today? Is it realistic today?

    As to its desirability, I have believed that from childhood, and still do. And at times it has also been realistic. From 1967 to 1973 I wrote about it quite a lot, because during those years it was quite feasible. However, there was virtually no support for it among Palestinians or Israelis; rather, it elicited severe criticism, from doves as well, and in the US, near hysteria. In the same years, a full peace treaty with the major Arab states was also quite feasible, and indeed had been offered in 1971 by Egypt, then Jordan. I have discussed the matter extensively in print, then and since, and won’t try to summarize. In my opinion, had these measures been pursued, a great deal of suffering, death, and destruction would have been avoided. By 1973 the opportunity was lost, and the only feasible short-term settlement was the two-state proposal. That remains true. If that is implemented, perhaps along the lines of the Geneva Accords, the cycle of violence will be ended and reversed. Perhaps in the longer term, as hostility and fear subside and relations are more firmly developed along non-national lines, there will be a possibility of moving towards a federal version of binationalism, then perhaps on to closer integration, perhaps even to a democratic secular state — though it is far from obvious that that is the optimal arrangement for complex societies, there or elsewhere, a different matter.

    7. What changed? Why is a bi-national state no longer realistic for the short run?

    What changed is the 1973 war and the shift in opinion among Palestinians, in the Arab world, and in the international arena in favor of Palestinian national rights, in a form that incorporated UN 242 but adding to it provisions for a Palestinian state in the occupied territories, which Israel would evacuate. As I mentioned, the US has been blocking that unilaterally (with Israel) since the mid-1970s, and still does. Personally, I would be very pleased if there were support now for the kind of federal binationalism that could have been implemented in the 1967-73 period. But I am aware of no signs of that.

    8. You’ve said that a democratic secular state and a binational state are both currently unrealistic because they have no support. But you said neither Palestinians nor Israelis endorsed a binational state in the period 1967 to 1973 and yet binationalism was feasible during those years. Obviously if people supported it then, it would have been realistic. But isn’t the same true today?

    We cannot simply erase from history and consciousness what has happened in the years since. It is simply a fact that on both sides (and crucially, in the US) there was no interest even in considering a realistic proposal for federal binationalism, perhaps evolving to closer integration as circumstances permit. The result was wars and destruction, harsh military occupation, takeover of land and resources, resistance, and finally an increasing cycle of violence, and of course mutual hatred and distrust. Those outcomes, along with what I’ve already mentioned before, are facts that cannot be wished away. Accordingly, the basis for moving towards binationalism is far weaker than it was during the period when the proposals were feasible, pre-1973. As a result of the serious failures of the past, the only feasible way to move towards such a solution is by adopting the proposal that does have substantial support among the two communities and overwhelming international support, apart from the US: the longstanding international consensus, in one of its current versions, most plausibly the Geneva Accords. If popular movements for binationalism did take shape, despite the far higher barriers than during the 1967-73 period, I would of course be delighted. But that seems to me a vain hope. Chances are far slighter now than during the earlier period.

    It’s of some interest that proposals that were bitterly denounced when they were feasible, often with considerable hysteria, are now considered quite tolerable, even published in the New York Times Magazine and New York Review of Books. I presume that the reason is the understanding that the proposals are completely unfeasible, so it is no longer necessary to subject them to vilification and to exclude then from discussion, as was the practice during the years when they were feasible. Now toleration of them demonstrates our humanistic concerns (with no fear that there might be some substantive outcome), and, for the more violent and repressive elements, would be a welcome gift if the proposals moved beyond highly abstract discussion, for the reasons already mentioned.

    9. You say a two-state solution is not ideal, but its realization would greatly reduce the suffering of the Palestinian people. Yet in other cases you have opposed “compromise” solutions that (like most likely two-state solutions) reflected the imbalance of power between the Israeli state and the Palestinians — such as Oslo or the US position at Camp David in 2000. What’s the difference?

    Which compromises should be accepted and which not? There is, and can be, no general formula. Every treaty and other agreement I can think of has been a “compromise” and is unjust. Some are worth accepting, some not. Take Apartheid South Africa. We were all in favor of the end of Apartheid, though it was radically unjust, leaving highly concentrated economic power virtually unchanged, though with some black faces among the dominant white minority. On the other hand, we were all strenuously opposed to the “homelands” (“Bantustan”) policies of 40 years ago, a different compromise. The closest we can come to a formula — and it is pretty meaningless — is that compromises should be accepted if they are the best possible and can lead the way to something better. That is the criterion we should all try to follow. Sharon’s two-state settlement, leaving Palestinians caged in the Gaza Strip and about half of the West Bank, should not be accepted, because it radically fails the criterion. The Geneva Accords approximates the criterion, and therefore should be accepted, in my opinion. These are always complex judgments about feasibility and about opportunities to move forward.

    10. Should Palestinian refugees be willing to renounce the “right of return” as part of a settlement? Does this benefit West Bank and Gaza residents at the expense of those Palestinians living in grim conditions in refugee camps outside Palestine?

    Palestinian refugees should certainly not be willing to renounce the right of return, but in this world — not some imaginary world we can discuss in seminars — that right will not be exercised, in more than a limited way, within Israel. Again, there is no detectable international support for it, and under the (virtually unimaginable) circumstances that such support would develop, Israel would very likely resort to its ultimate weapon, defying even the boss-man, to prevent it. In that case there would be nothing to discuss. The facts are ugly, but facts do not go out of existence for that reason. In my opinion, it is improper to dangle hopes that will not be realized before the eyes of people suffering in misery and oppression. Rather, constructive efforts should be pursued to mitigate their suffering and deal with their problems in the real world.

    11. Why would/could Israel be forced by organized public opinion to accept a two-state settlement but not a democratic or binational settlement or the right of return? Why would Israel resort to its ultimate weapon in the latter cases but not in the former?

    A two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus is already acceptable to a very broad range of Israeli opinion — including, incidentally, extreme hawks, who are so concerned by the “demographic problem” that they are even advancing the (outrageous) proposal to transfer areas of dense Arab settlement within Israel to a new Palestinian state. And one can easily understand why it is acceptable, just as it has been to virtually the entire world since the 1970s — including a considerable majority of the American population. Therefore, it is not at all inconceivable that organizing/activist efforts in the US could bring the US government into line with the international consensus, in which case, for the reasons already discussed, Israel would be very likely to go along as well. However, there is virtually no possibility of organizing public opinion in the US, or anywhere else, in favor of a settlement that entails elimination of Israel in favor of a Palestinian state with a Jewish minority — quite a small and scattered minority if refugees return. This is entirely fanciful. And as I mentioned, it would of course be opposed by virtually all Israelis. In this case they would be very likely to resort to their “ultimate weapon” — which they possess — to prevent what they would plausibly regard as their destruction. I have already discussed why support for binationalism (with right of return effectively restricted to the Palestinian component) is far less likely to arise than during the feasible period 1967-73, though if it does, I would certainly applaud.

    12. As long as the US Government blocks a two-state settlement, it’s unlikely to occur. So why do you think the US Government might support a two-state solution?

    For the same reason that I thought at one time that the US government might withdraw from Vietnam, might institute a limited medical care system, might inform the Indonesian generals that they had to withdraw from East Timor, and on, and on. The government might do what organized activist public opinion influences it to do. This happens to be an unusually easy case. About two-thirds of the public supports the so-called Saudi Plan, which calls for Israel to withdraw entirely from the occupied territories. That goes well beyond the Geneva Accords. Similar majorities want US aid to be denied to either party that refuses to enter into negotiations (meaning Israel, for the past several years), and want aid to the two parties to be equalized if they do enter into negotiations (meaning a radical diversion of aid from Israel to Palestinians). Of course, virtually none of this is published, and people are so deprived of relevant information that they probably do not comprehend clearly what they are calling for. But those are the situations in which educational and organizing activities can make an enormous difference.

    13. Do you believe that the Israeli public would accept a serious two-state solution?

    Even without any US pressure, considerable majorities favor something of this sort — again, depending on exactly how questions are asked in polls. A change in the US government position would make an enormous difference. I think there is every reason to accept the conclusions of the former heads of GSS, as well as the Israeli peace movement (Gush Shalom and others), that the public would accept such an outcome. But speculation about that is not our real concern. Rather, it is to bring US government policy into line with the rest of the world, and apparently the majority of the US public.

    14. Above you note that the 1973 war was a watershed, leading to irreversible changes on the ground. Are we seeing another watershed now? Is Israel attempting to destroy the possibilities for a two-state settlement by escalating its assassination policy, first with the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and now with the announced policy of killing all the Hamas leaders, plus perhaps Arafat, and perhaps Hizbollah’s Nasirallah in Lebanon?

    The right wing in Israel is undoubtedly trying to destroy the possibility of a meaningful two-state settlement by such methods. More specifically, I presume that the purpose of murdering Sheikh Yassin, destroying Rafah, and other similar measures is to ensure that after a likely Israeli partial withdrawal, the Gaza Strip will be so utterly demolished that the population caged within it will rot and die and turn on each other in desperation, at which point Western humanists can comment sagely on the inability of Palestinians (like Haitians, and other targets of our benevolence) to manage their own affairs even when given a chance. Therefore we must (reluctantly) support Israel’s “defensive” moves to take over the valuable land and resources of the West Bank while leaving the remaining population caged in a dungeon there. Lebanon is a somewhat different matter, relating to US-Israel plans with regard to Syria.

    These are further reasons why we should not provide the most violent and repressive elements with further weapons.

    15. You sometimes say in talks and interviews that you used to be called a ‘Zionist’, and now you’re called an ‘anti-Zionist’, and that your views haven’t changed. Young people working on Israel/Palestine issues today might find this confusing, since those who call themselves Zionists seem to be supporters of the most virulent Israeli government policies. Could you clarify this: What did it mean to be a ‘Zionist’ back then? What does it mean today?

    Until December 1942, the Zionist movement had no formal commitment to a Jewish state. Until the state was established in May 1948, opposition to a Jewish state was within the Zionist movement. Later, the concept “Zionism” was very narrowly restricted for propaganda reasons. By the 1970s, when Israel chose expansion and dependence on the US over security and integration into the region, the concept “Zionism” was narrowed to refer, in effect, to support for the policies of the government of Israel. Thus when the distinguished Israeli Labor Party statesman Abba Eban said that the task of dialogue with the gentile world is to show that “anti-Zionists” are either anti-Semites or neurotic self-hating Jews (his examples were I.F. Stone and me), he was restricting “Zionism” to support for the state of Israel and excluding any such criticism as logically impossible. The concept “anti-Zionism” then becomes analogous to the disgraceful concept “anti-Americanism,” drawn from the lexicon of totalitarianism and based on strictly totalitarian principles. By now the term has been so debased by propaganda that it is better abandoned, in my opinion.

    • Richard Silverstein November 18, 2012, 6:16 PM

      Please don’t quote entire articles in a comment. Quote the most relevant passage/s & offer a link to the rest.

      • Tom Zychowski November 19, 2012, 10:13 AM

        Belief in Iron Age Religions in the information age = Stupidity
        Belief in “Imaginary Friends” for adults = Stupidity
        Israelis using phosphorus on civilians trapped in Gaza = War Crimes
        Stealing land in order to expend territory and acting like the victim = well you tell me……

        I thought the entire article was relevant that is why I posted it.

  • djf November 18, 2012, 4:53 PM

    It still amazes me that Richard and most commenters here continue to Hamas the benefit of every doubt and Israel the detriment of every doubt. Every statement from Israeli leadership or military is read to be cynical lie. This much, I at least understand. Corruption in Israel isn’t exactly unheard of and reasonable people need to decide what to believe and trust. So I get it, even if I decide what to trust (very) differently.

    What I don’t understand is why Hamas, Islamic Jihad, & others, are getting a pass here. “Bibi needs Hamas,” you say. But Hamas doesn’t need Bibi? Israeli leaders “cynically need to drink the blood of dead Palestinians (or Iranians or Lebanese) in order to guarantee their political reign.” And Palestinian leadership isn’t filled with Holocaust-deniers who recycle Hitler’s rhetoric to rally support? Palestinian leadership in Gaza genuinely wants peace? One commenter to an earlier post said Hamas would drop its weapons if only Israel lifted the siege, and then seemed shocked when I doubted it! Whatever your view of Israel, it’s government, & it’s military, how can you ignore Hamas’s and others’ role here (remember suicide bombings)? Ignore that this war did not begin with the occupation (remember Black September)? Ignore the violent anti-semitism coming from prominent pro-Palestinian leaders?

    Don’t respond that Israelis are no better. That’s not my point. Richard, you have a blog devoted to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a search of “anti-semitism” yields only what you consider the cynical cries of Jews! I don’t get it.

    • Mary Hughes Thompson November 18, 2012, 8:15 PM

      Did somebody say: “It’s the occupation, stupid!”

      • mary November 19, 2012, 4:30 AM

        I did, Mary. About a week or so ago, someone asked why the Palestinians shoot rockets when Israel would be so much nicer to them if they didn’t (and of course, the Palestinians in the West Bank don’t shoot rockets, but that’s beside the point). They wanted to know why they just don’t put down their arms and their grievances and “embrace” Israel.

        I replied, “it’s the occupation, stupid.”

        • djf November 19, 2012, 5:42 AM

          Actually, you said that if Israel lifted the seize, Hamas would drop it’s weapons. That’s amazing to me. I know better than to point out that according to Hamas’s rhetoric, they believe the “occupation” is Jews living in Israel. If I pointed that out, I’ll be put in my place and told that it doesn’t mean that. Because as long as there’s some favorable interpretation of the rhetoric, Hamas gets it here.

          • mary November 19, 2012, 9:12 AM

            As it has been said many times on Richard’s blog, Hamas has said they are willing to accept Israel behind it’s pre-1967 borders. I won’t get into this anymore than to make that statement.

            The occupation is Jews living in the West Bank, E Jerusalem and the Golan, and it is the siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip.

            That is not rhetoric or any interpretation of rhetoric, it is fact.

  • Arie Brand November 18, 2012, 5:14 PM

    Rain, your cautious suggestion that there is, somehow, symmetry in this matter seems to me misplaced. To see the
    a-symmetry depends merely on the simple ability to make a distinction between the oppressor and the oppressed.

    I saw the opportunistic desire to ignore this distinction recently also in the television appearance of a Dutch cabinet minister who tried to defend his colleague in foreign affairs, Frans Timmerman’s, complete turn-about in his stance on Israel since he has been “upgraded” from mere member of parliament to a cabinet post. Was the former Timmermans quite critical of Israel and, inter alia, in favour of enhancing Palestine’s status at the UN, the present Timmermans couldn’t do any better than mouthing the now obligatory mantra that “Israel has the right to defend itself” and claiming that upgrading Palestine’s UN-status wouldn’t advance the “peace process” (peace process? – what chimera is he talking about?).

    Though Timmermans is now bound to the cabinet policy of a government in which the conservatives and social-democrats were forced by the election results to come up with a coalition, yet I also see new evidence here that the various European states find it very hard to come up with a policy towards Israel different from that of the US. Germany is a lost cause from the start here because it is still too burdened by its past to say boo to a goose, as far as Israel is concerned.

    So the Egyptian president, Mursi, seems to have bypassed it in his telephonic attempts to get the support of various European states in stopping the violence. He rang France, Britain and Italy. Interestingly he also rang Argentinia’s president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. He was perhaps emboldened here by Argentinia’s fairly recent attempt to get into some kind of dialogue with Iran about a sore point in the relation between those two countries – the 1994 bombing of the Israeli Argentina Mutual Aid Association, for which Argentinian prosecutors have indicted 8 Iranian nationals.

    South America would be politically a fertile field to explore further for the Palestinian cause. They know a bit about oppression there. And under the leadership of Brazil there is an obvious thrust to be independent in this and other matters from those gringos up North (virtually all South American states have recognised Palestinian statehood with the obvious exception of Colombia that is receiving Israeli weaponry as a reward).

  • Arie Brand November 18, 2012, 6:43 PM

    “Ignore that this war did not begin with the occupation (remember Black September)? ”

    DJF, why only go back to Black September? If you look for a beginning it seems to me far more obvious to trace the point at which Zionist ambition changed from the desire for a “home” (the term belatedly used in the Balfour declaration) to that for an imperial fortress, surrounded by ethnically cleansed helots (Richard recently made the comparison with Sparta). That point can perhaps be found as early as some time in the 1890′s.

    But if you insist on going back to a deed of terror why not focus on what, rightly or wrongly, has been called “the first political murder” in Israel, that of the Dutch poet Dr.Jacob Israel de Haan? On the 30th of June 1924, he was , in returning from evening prayer in the synagogue, killed by three pistol shots coming from Avraham Tehomi, on the orders of the then leader of the Haganah, Itzhak Ben-Zvi ( also known as the second president of Israel).

    De Haan had come to Palestine as a convinced Zionist but changed his mind, partly because he couldn’t stomach the average Jewish attitude towards the Arabs (yes, already then). He had already much earlier shown a keen interest in human rights, inter alia by compiling a report on Russian prisons (an effort for which he has sometimes been hailed as a predecessor of Amnesty International). He wanted a peaceful co-existence between Jews and Arabs and joined the orthodox anti-Zionist EdahHaChareidis (where he still seems to be revered as a martyr).

    A peaceful co-existence between Jews and Palestinians is incompatible with Israeli ambitions until the day of today. There you find the real root of the violence.

    • Joel November 18, 2012, 9:27 PM

      De Haan also had a predilection for little Arab boys.

      • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 12:39 AM

        That justifies his assassination? You think Ben Zvi cared what deHaan did to Arab boys? And do you know how many men of his day had similar predilections? And you think there are no Israelis today who don’t? You’re repulsive and sicken me.

        BTW, after his murder the Zionist leadership smeared his name with such charges. But that had nothing to do with his murder. He was a forceful advocate for the non-Zionist ultra-Orthodox community and was harming its efforts in Europe and the UK, where he published forceful columns against a Jewish state which found many supporters there. In other words, he had to die.

        • Joel November 19, 2012, 1:35 AM

          De Haan took advantage of poverty stricken little boys. That repulses and sickens me.

          • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 2:13 AM

            You don’t have a clue what the hell he did or didn’t do. You read it somewhere & believed whatever you read. You repulse & sicken me as well.

            Not to mention you’ve just implicitly agreed that a pedophile deserves death by firing squad even before being tried or found guilty, which is pretty much Israeli policy today toward Palestinians. Not much has changed since the 1920s Yishuv, has it?

          • Joel November 19, 2012, 6:39 AM

            De Haan admits to his sexual attraction to Arab boys in the books he wrote.

            http://www.williamapercy.com/wiki/index.php?title=Jacob_Israel_de_Haan:_sexology%2C_poetry%2C_politics

            I never said I condoned his murder.

            I do wonder whether the Old Yishuv, my family was in that community, condoned his conduct regarding boys?

          • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 10:18 AM

            Love of young boys plays a vital part in ancient Greek society & even medieval Spanish Jewish poetry. So were they all sexual perverts? Do you dismiss the massive cultural achievements of these societies based, as they were in large part, on the love of boys?

            I’m not defending the practice in a modern context as it’s condemned today. But I detest puritans like you who seek moral vices in your political enemies but find none in your own political allies.

    • djf November 19, 2012, 5:22 AM

      I said repeatedly that Israel is given the detriment of every doubt while Palestinian leadership gets a pass. You reply by simply listing more examples of Israeli violence against Palestinians, while ignoring violence in the other direction. Are you ironically trying to prove my case? Or do you really not get it?

  • Arie Brand November 18, 2012, 9:23 PM

    “We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.

    There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire.”

    Gilad Sharon, Sharon’s son, in the Jerusalem Post.

    Apart from the brutality the political naivety of this is astounding. Quite a few foreign ministers are probably champing at the bit to stop mouthing that lame formula “Israel has the right to defend itself” and to finally deal with “this shitty little state” (as that French ambassador had it) as the pariah it has made itself into.

  • Joel November 18, 2012, 9:23 PM

    According to reports in Cairo, these are the conditions for a ceasefire set forth by Israel:

    1. A lull for a period of more than 15 years.

    2. An immediate cessation of arms smuggling and the transfer of weapons to Gaza.

    3. Cessation of rocket fire on the part of all armed Palestinian factions and an end to attacks on soldiers near the Gaza border.

    4. Israel has the right to hunt down terrorists in the event of an attack or if it obtains information on an imminent attack.

    5. The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt will remain open, but the crossings on the Gaza-Israel border will remain closed.

    6. Egypt’s politicians, headed by President Mohammed Morsi, will be the guarantors of any ceasefire agreement. Meaning, the agreement will be backed by Egypt’s political echelon rather than by its security establishment.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4308099,00.html

  • joel November 19, 2012, 10:54 AM

    I am more libertine than puritan but I do observe boundaries, and one of those is repudiating grown men who use ‘rent boys’.

    De Haan, dead these 90 years, is not my political enemy. My enemies are hypocrites and De Haan preached equality during the day and practiced inequality at night.

    • Richard Silverstein November 19, 2012, 1:55 PM

      So you claim that the ancient Greeks or medieval Spanish Jews who practiced the same beliefs as deHaan were practicing inequality? And you know this how? Because you’ve studied views of the periods in question?

      DeHaan did no such thing & again your attitude belies your claims of being enlightened, liberal or tolerant about social conditions & attitudes nearly 100 years ago of which you know precious little. Had you lived in ancient Greece, medieval Spain or countless other times or cultures you would not hold the views you do now. Things are relative.

  • Arie Brand November 20, 2012, 4:54 PM

    Belatedly something more about De Haan. Joel, to indicate De Haan’s sexual proclivities, talks about “poverty stricken little boys”. How “little” were they? Acoording to the Amsterdam academic Gert Hekma, who devoted several essays to hjim, his most stable lover and companion in Palestine was Adil Effendi Aweidah whose dates are given as ca.1900 – ca.1963. Since De Haan only came to Palestine in 1919 Aweidah cannot have been all that “little” at that time. Also, De Haan rented a house owned by his family. That doesn’t sound all that “poverty stricken” either.

    De Haan’s novel “Pijpelijntjes”, which appeared in 1904 and has been called the first fairly explicit homo-erotic novel in Dutch, doesn’t deal with pedophilia but with the relation between two adult men. It was based on his relation with the physician Aletrino who was twenty years his senior. Aletrino was so scandalised by it that he, together with De Haan’s then fiance, the female physician Johanna van Maarseveen, tried to buy all copies of it.

    It is quite possible that De Haan had flings with adolescent boys as well, which still doesn’t make him a pedophile. But, of course, one can no longer effectively smear somebody by claiming that he was homosexual – so pedophilia has to do the job.

    I tracked down De Haan’s 394 (!) contributions to the Dutch paper Algemeen Handelsblad that he wrote during his period in Palestine (1919 – 1924). They are in Dutch of course and can be found here: http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/haan008feui01_01/haan008feui01_01.pdf

    Ere long I hope to provide an extract of his views on the political situation there.

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