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Kerry Lobbying Arab Strongmen to Pressure Palestinians to Accept Israel as Jewish State

Tonight’s news is yet another in those series of wacky ‘flyers’ that Israeli-Arab peace negotiators sometimes take in order to bridge insurmountable divides.  After intensive negotiations with both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, Kerry has determined that Israel must be recognized as “the state of the Jewish people.”  In case anyone has any question why Martin Indyk was appointed Kerry’s deputy, it’s precisely due to moments like this.  When it’s crunch time, the Lobby wants to be sure its man has his finger on the levers of power.

kerry saudi arabia

It ain’t over till the fat man sings…that Israel is “the state of the Jewish people.” (AFP)

Kerry, no doubt at Indyk’s urging, has determined that the Palestinians are the weaker party and therefore must give up the most to satisfy Israel.  Netanyahu’s game is to insist, before signing any agreement, that Palestinians will renounce any formal Right of Return.  To do so, he must enshrine Israel as a Jewish state, rather than a democratic state of all its citizens.

Here is how a Palestinian media outlet phrased Kerry’s formulation:

Kerry is looking into the possibility of changing the Arab Peace Initiative so that it would include “recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, without prejudice to the civil rights of Israeli Arabs.”

That’s like saying a woman is partly-pregnant.  You simply can’t have a Jewish state in which the rights of the minority are not abrogated in significant ways.  While I can appreciate the desperation of Kerry in trying to do such diplomatic acrobatics in order to bridge serious gaps between the parties–you simply can’t turn a camel into a horse by claiming the humps are pommels.

This concept is an absolute non-starter, not just for Palestinians, but for all Arabs and even for some Jewish supporters of Israel like myself.  Israel is a state.  Not a Jewish state.  Just a state.  It has a Jewish majority, but a sizable non-Jewish minority.  Every citizen must have equal rights if Israel is to be a true democracy.  Of course, the Jewish majority in this democracy will have commensurate political power to ensure its position.  But that does not give it the right to deny status to the minority.  Just as a possible future Arab/Palestinian majority should be forbidden from impinging on the rights of a possible Jewish minority.

But if Israel is to be a Jewish state with superior rights for Jews and a permanent majority guaranteed by hook or by crook, then Israel can kiss any thought of democracy good-bye.  It will become yet another in a long line of ethnocracies which privilege the ethnic minority and subordinate the minority.  It could be even worse.  Such ethnocracies have led to genocide in places like Kosovo and Rwanda.  It’s not unthinkable that such wholesale violence could emerge in Israel-Palestine at some future date.

There is absolutely no reason Israeli Jews cannot create and participate in a state which reflects their religious and ethnic traditions without it being a supremacist state.  So Kerry is asking the impossible.  No Palestinian can give Israel what is claims.  No Arab autocrat can speak for Palestine or tell it to disclaim its birthright.  The very idea that a bunch of paunchy, bearded strongmen with no political constituency or mandate should pressure Palestinians, is offensive.

There is, of course, one other possibility, which would be quite Machiavellian of Kerry, were it true.  He may know in advance that this is a non-starter.  He may know the outcome to expect from the Jordanian and Saudi kings.  He may be going through the motions so he can come back to Bibi claiming that he tried his best, but that he ultimately came up short.  Then either Bibi will scream bloody murder and turn around and sign a deal; or he will turn in disgust and walk out on the proceedings.  Either way, Kerry can be said to have discharged his duties fully and the U.S. could not be blamed by either party.

It’s important to note that the radical settlers groups, who understand that their interests are normally well-protected by this Israeli government, are stirring at the prospect of a peace deal.  The settler-Haredi movement behind Arutz Sheva has revived the Komemiyut Party.  It’s created a website specifically to smear Israeli leaders like Tzipi Livni leading the peace process, and Kerry and Indyk.  Their cry is: “Oslo 3 is already here!”  A different group created a parody video featuring an actor supposedly looking like Kerry offering increasingly unhelpful solutions to a poor, hapless Israeli schnook: among them, a porcupine to wipe his ass (pardon my language, but the very concept of the video itself is coarse).  I’m not sure who these videos are meant to influence or persuade.  They’re beyond lame.  Perhaps they’re just meant to assuage the fears of their settler followers who don’t care about the awful production values or lame storylines.

There have been other weird stirrings in the Israeli body politic.  The far-right caucus of the Likud, attempting to out-Bibi Bibi, has taken up the mantra that the Jordan Valley is an invaluable strategic asset from which Israel can’t be parted.  Bibi has even had the chutzpah to claim that retaining the Valley would be necessary to prevent non-existent “infiltration and weapons smuggling from the east.”  Meir Dagan, former Mossad chief, and prickly thorn in Bibi’s side, has derided the notion that there is any particular strategic value in this territory.

Bibi has also put forward the odd notion that settlements outside the major settlement blocs (which Israeli expects to retain in any settlement) like Hebron and Beit El must be forever Israeli because of their “deep connection” to the Jewish people.  To which I respond: what about Vilna, Granada, Kiev and Odessa?  Or ancient Egypt and Babylonia (now Iraq)?  These too are jewels of the Jewish people in various points of its existence.  Why not take up a claim to them as well?  How can we possibly part with them?

Avigdor Lieberman, not one to be left out of the game, has offered his own helpful suggestion to Kerry.  He’s revived his modified ethnic cleansing proposal to move the border so that the Israeli-Palestinian villages known as the Northern Triangle, become officially Palestinian and no longer Israeli.  This would remove a substantial portion of Israeli Palestinians from Israel and gerrymander an almost permanent Jewish majority–at least for decades to come.  It’s what might be called a “green” version of ethnic cleansing: neat, tidy.  It doesn’t involve anything as nasty as forcibly expelling Palestinians as happened in Nakba.  This is simply a few lines on a map moved discretely so as to remove a thorny problem for Israeli Jewish nationalists.

Hard to know what all of this ultra-nationalist bloviating means.  Either they’re pandering to their right-wing constituency before a deal is struck which the latter will hate.  Or they’re trying to incite the Palestinians to do something equally provocative and stupid, so that all of them can throw up their hands and give up.

I do have a suggestion for Bibi if he runs out of ways to provoke the Palestinians to abandon the talks: he can insist that any deal has to end with the Palestinians singing HaTikvah in front of the Israeli flag.  That should go over big!

At any rate, I give this Kerry campaign about a 5% chance of success if that.  If the Palestinians do accede to the Jewish state formulation, there will be all hell to pay and things should get very “interesting” (in the Chinese proverb’s sense of that word) for the coming months.

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Marta January 8, 2014, 12:38 AM

    Does Kerry have a shred of integrity left since he protested the Vietnam War?
    Or is he so desperate to take part in global politics that he will kneel at Netanyahu’s feet and cater to his every command?
    I thought Blair was a lap dog. Kerry is Blair to the10th power.

  • Haver January 8, 2014, 12:39 AM

    Re: “Kerry Lobbying Arab Strongmen to Pressure Palestinians to Accept Israel as Jewish State”

    In order to adopt this hairbrained proposition, Netanyahu has to ignore the doctrine of the founder of the Revisionist movement:

    They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux looked upon his prairie. . . . A plan that seems to attract many Zionists goes like this: If it is impossible to get an endorsement of Zionism by Palestine’s Arabs, then it must be obtained from the Arabs of Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and perhaps of Egypt. Even if this were possible, it would not change the basic situation. It would not change the attitude of the Arabs in the Land of Israel towards us. Seventy years ago, the unification of Italy was achieved, with the retention by Austria of Trent and Trieste. However, the inhabitants of those towns not only refused to accept the situation, but they struggled against Austria with redoubled vigor. If it were possible (and I doubt this) to discuss Palestine with the Arabs of Baghdad and Mecca as if it were some kind of small, immaterial borderland, then Palestine would still remain for the Palestinians not a borderland, but their birthplace, the center and basis of their own national existence.

    — Vladimir Jabotinsky, The Iron Wall (We and the Arabs) http://www.danielpipes.org/3510/the-iron-wall-we-and-the-arabs

  • Oui January 8, 2014, 5:09 AM

    Well done, it’s imperative to unmask these extremist statements for what they are. The blockades put up by both sides does seem to lead nowhere in negotiations. As an optimist, I do see some movement forward although the key issues haven’t been tackled yet. The position of King Abdullah II of Jordan and his Hashemite Kingdom as guardian of Jerusalem’s holy sites with an ever increasing number of Palestinians at home, doesn’t look promising either. In recent weeks, I’ve never witnessed so many red lines drawn on the road both parties need to travel. Most reader comments on Israeli blogs are just awful, let’s hope they are not mainstream and will adjust as the benefits of peace for the region becomes clear. As the deliberations are secret, all what is written and analized is speculative.

    Ya’alon says Israel, PA working to extend talks beyond 9-month period

  • Oui January 8, 2014, 5:32 AM

    President Truman’s scribble on this note should be engraved in stone as US policy towards the state of Israel. President Obama called far the recognition of a Jewish State of Israel in one of his speeches. A blunder.

  • pabelmont January 8, 2014, 6:27 AM

    This is Machiavellian only in the sense that Kerry/Obama are seeking to keep the Iran war/Iran-increased-sanctions from happening (and keep BIG-ZION political money going to Democrats) while they work for an Iran “deal” that can end the Iran problem. They also want to run out the clock (on April 30 more or less by my reckoning) on the 9-month gestation period of the most recent I/P agreement to keep working for 9-months toward peace.

    They do this by continuing to appear to work the “peace process” (in my lexicon, the quotes are part of the spelling of this by-now-known-to-be nonsensical pretense). As to the latest wrinkle, the demand by Israel for recognition as a “Jewish State”, well, that is only one more impossible demand put forward to derail peace by making the PA look bad. It’s a very bad one. But the settlements, the land-grabs in Jordan Valley and Jerusalem, etc., all point to much worse preconditions on Israel’s part, namely, that the most PA can “get” is the suggestion of a Bantustan-non-state in a so-called (or perhaps no-longer-so-called) two-state agreement.

    I hope PA will refuse and instead go to the ICC, etc., in May. And I hope the EU will find itself able to stand up for decolonization here — as it was forced after WWII, etc., to undergo its loss of colonies. I have very slight hopes as to EU action today, but absolutely ZERO hopes of useful USA action — or of I/P peace determined by the parties themselves.

  • Michael Rivero January 8, 2014, 7:29 AM

    Let’s see if we can get the blacks to accept America as a white nation and see how well that works out.

    • Bob Mann January 8, 2014, 9:41 AM

      How about getting Jews to accept America as a Christian nation?

      • Davey January 9, 2014, 12:14 AM

        Well, it’s about time!

  • Major Scoop January 8, 2014, 5:08 PM

    The only issue with Liberman’s suggestion is that the Israeli-Arabs (that’s the way they describe themselves, despite your notion) see themselves as part of the Israeli state, and say out loud (at least to Shlomi Eldar) that they are not Palestinians.

    Now, i’m confused. I read on your site that they are Palestinian-Israelis, They claim they are Israeli-Arabs, what are they ?

    • Richard Silverstein January 8, 2014, 9:18 PM

      No Israeli-Palestinian refers to himself as “Arab” unless possibly he’s a pan-Arabist, and they’re not too many of those around. The notion that an Israeli Jew is going to tell us what Palestinians call themselves is ludicrous.

      If you insist on calling them Arabs, you don’t mind if they call you Hebrews or Israelites, do you?

      • Bob Mann January 9, 2014, 5:21 AM

        You wrote that no Israeli-Palestinian refers to himself as “Arab” (unless possibly he’s a pan-Arabist) but are you sure this is the case? I am curious to know where your understanding of this comes from.

    • Haver January 8, 2014, 10:17 PM

      The only issue with Liberman’s suggestion is that the Israeli-Arabs (that’s the way they describe themselves, despite your notion) see themselves as part of the Israeli state

      They see themselves as people with family and friends in places like Jerusalem and Nazareth and with freedom of movement to Haram al-Sharif and know that Liebermann is trying to denationalize them and put an international border and checkpoints between them and all of that and make them part of a ghetto. The Palestinians simply see this as an attempt to swap land that has already been inhabited by members of their own ethnic group for generations on exchange for their land that was illegally acquired by Jewish only settlement blocks. That’s still a net loss of land and fundamental freedom..

    • Deïr Yassin January 9, 2014, 2:13 AM

      @ Major Scoop: if you’re really interested in what the Arab citizens of Israel call themselves (which I doubt)
      All polls show (cf. ‘Arab citizens of Israel: self-identification on wikipedia & particularly notes 15-24) that the immense majority of the Arab citizens of Israel choose a label that include “Palestinian”. The ‘Israeli Arab’ label is a Zionist label that has the purpose of cutting off the Palestinian citizens of Israel from the larger Palestinian people. ‘Arab’ is supposed to be the cultural identification and ‘Israel’ the political but that’s NOT how they see themselves !
      I encourage you to see this very long documentary by Al-Jazeera (three parts, four hours) made by a Palestinian about the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Right in the beginning you hear people say: “I’m Arab, Palestinian, holding Israeli citizenship”, another “We’re part of the Arab Palestinian nation” etc.
      Ibtissam Mara’ana made a documentary about her village Fureidis (whose young men were forced to dig the graves after the massacre in neighboring Tantura in ’48). The discussion comes up about identity: the old men in the coffee shop seem reluctant to express themselves but a young man cuts off to says ‘no matter what they say I’m Palestinian’ (I paraphrase by memory, unfortunately the documentary is not on the net any longer, it was scheduled on Witness” by al-Jazeera).
      The land-swap issue has nothing to to with the identity as Palestinians.

      • Bob Mann January 9, 2014, 5:44 AM

        The poll cited in the Wikipedia article you reference indicates that a little less than half of those surveyed self-identify as Arabs, with 22 percent identifying as Israeli Arabs, 18 percent identifying as Palestinian Arabs, and 6 percent identifying as simply Arabs.

        • Deïr Yassin January 9, 2014, 11:39 AM

          @ Bob Mann
          I don’t get your point, if you have one….. There’s no contradiction between what I wrote and ‘your’ poll. What poll by the way, lots of polls and surveys are mentioned.
          You write ‘a little less than half of those surveyed self-identify as Arabs’. What about the rest ? How come I get the impression that you’re sumarizing the poll to state your case with Richard concerning the ‘Arab’-label. I didn’t speak about the ‘Arab’-label (of course all Palestinians are and consider themselves Arabs, and I think Richard knows that too….) but about the “Israeli Arab”-label which is an Israeli invention, putting the stress on ‘Israeli’ (cf. note 23).

          You write that according to the poll, 22% identify as “Israeli Arabs”. I guess you agree with me that 22% is NOT a majority.

          If you read note no. 15 “according to the author’s survey approximately 66% of the Palestinian Israeli identified themselves in whole or partly as Palestinians”
          Note no: 16: “In numerous surveys conducted over many years the majority of Arab citizens define themselves as Palestinians rather than Israeli Arabs”.
          Even Jody Rodoren acknowledges that (cf. another note).

          “Israeli Arab” denies the link between the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Palestinian people elsewhere, indicating that the link is like that with Iraqi Arabs or Tunisian Arabs. Isn’t it ironical: many Israelis are incapable of calling the people who stayed in their land for Palestinians but once they’re in a refugee camp in Lebanon, they have no problems calling them Palestinians. I’ve noticed that hypocrisy by some of the ‘left-wing’ writers at 972mag, for instance.
          The notes (who only represent a little of what’s written on the subject) clearly indictes that ‘Palestinian’ is included in the majority of self-identifying labels chosen, and that the number is fastly growing. It’s not that the State of Israel has done anything to make the Palestinians feel at home in their state, is it ?
          The documentary that I posted is excellent (3 parts)

          • Bob Mann January 10, 2014, 1:21 AM

            Agree with everything you’ve written here – appreciate the insights.

      • Daniel F. January 10, 2014, 2:58 AM

        @ Deïr Yassin,
        I appreciate your significant contribution to this blog and I thank you for the insight that you have afforded me over time.
        I disagree with you on some points;
        1) You harp upon the injustice done to the Palestinians by the Jews of Israel and I ask you a simple question;would the Palestinians have treated the Jews any better had they and their invading allies (Egypt, Jordan and Syria) won in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Many good Jews died in that war.

        2) You dwell upon the Nakba but the Palestinian citizens of Israel have evolved since then. Most have integrated into Israeli society becoming successful doctors, engineers and tradesmen. They are often second class citizens in their own country, a situation which is not right but such is human nature that they are treated with suspicion by many of the Jewish majority. I fully appreciate the injustice being done to them and the fact that they have to be better at the same job to be considered equals. I appreciate the effect of constant minor humiliations.

        3) “The ‘Israeli Arab’ label is a Zionist label that has the purpose of cutting off the Palestinian citizens of Israel from the larger Palestinian people”………
        The Palestinian citizens of Israel, whose financial situation (for most) has improved immensely since the founding of the State of Israel, have partially cut themselves off from their poorer Palestinian relations. They value the opportunities afforded to them in Israel and, all things considered, they understand that they are better off with the “Yahood” that with Hamas.
        Talking of inequality; in 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexis_de_Toqueville) noticed the paradox of inequality:As social conditions become more equal, the more people resent the inequalities that remain.

        • Deïr Yassin January 10, 2014, 1:52 PM

          @ Daniel
          “Would the Palestinians have treated the Jews any better had they and their invading allies (Egypt, Jordan, Syria) won the war.”
          First of all, I’m not sure you can talk about “allies” as shown in Avi Shlaim and Eugene Rogan’s “The War for Palestine”. There’s an article by Rogan on Jordan ( or read Shlaim’s book on “Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement and the Partition of Palestine” about the Zionist-King Abdullah collaboration), Joshua Landis has an article on Syria, Fawzi Gerges on Egypt: these three countries had different, and opposing interests concerning Palestine, and the Palestinians weren’t their primary concerns.
          I also don’t agree with ‘invading’. What did they invade ? A state that proclaimed its independance on other people’s land and that the Arab states didn’t recognize, and rightly so. The Arab armies entered Palestine the day the Brits left, and if you notice, almost exclusively the parts that were supposed to belong to the Arab state. And don’t forget that at least 300.000 Palestinians had been exiled PRIOR to the declaration of independance, also from territories that were supposed to become the Arab state.. Taking about ‘invading’, I’d say the Zionists had been invading Palestine for decades.
          Your question has no value as far as I’m concerned because you put on the same level a native population and European settlers who’d come with the idea of taking over the land.
          2. “You dwell on the Nakba”.
          The Nakba has never stopped ! Everyday, within the State of Israel as in the OPT, Palestinians are being pushed out from their land and their houses are being demolished (cf. Negev, Yaffa, Akka etc).
          Why don’t you see the documentary that I posted in the commentary to Major Scoop about the Palestinian citizens of Israel: it’s very long (four hours/3 parts). Take your time, try to understand what these people are saying (known and unknown citizens, activists, Jamal Zahalka, Azmi Bishara, etc).
          3. You’re a joke: what do you know about what the Palestinian citizens of Israel value ? How come a majority (according to all polls and survey) include ‘Palestinian’ in their self-identication, and hardly nobody consider themselves as ‘Israelis’ more than ‘Arab/Palestinians’ (well, maybe Khaled Abu Toameh….).
          Yeah, Palestinians in Israel should read some Tocqueville, right ? One of the slogans during the ‘Arab Spring’ in Egypt and Tunisia was ‘karamah’ (dignity), a word often used by Nasser in his time. I know people who were economically relatively well-off within the State of Israel (not due to Israel but to personal efforts, studies abroad, success within the community etc) and who left because they simply could’t live there as Palestinians any longer.
          Read this interview with the famous actor Saleh Bakri about his feelings towards the State of Israel. He was born in Bi’na, a village close to Akka, nearly all the land has been taken away by the State:
          You’re really wasting your hasbara-light on me…. but maybe you could get a job at the Israeli embassy in Dublin.

  • Samuel January 9, 2014, 12:06 AM

    The demand “to recognize Israel as a Jewish state” actually means to formally recognize and accept tthe Zionist ideology at the international level.

    Uri Avnery, the founder of the “Gush Shalom”, once wrote:

    “IF I were asked to swear allegiance to the “Nation-State of the Jewish People”, I would have to respectfully decline. Perhaps by then a law will be in force that will cancel the citizenship of Israelis who refuse this demand, and I shall be demoted to the status of permanent resident devoid of civil rights.
    I would have to refuse so as to avoid lying.
    First of all, I don’t know what the “Jewish people”, to which the state of Israel supposedly belongs, is. Who is included? A Jew in Brooklyn, a citizen of the Nation-State of the American People, who served in the Marines and votes for the American president? Richard Goldstone, who is denounced by the leaders of Israel as a liar and self-hating traitor? Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, who was told this week by Lieberman to solve the Burka problem in France instead of poking his (Jewish) nose into our affairs?
    And how does the ownership of Israel by these Jews express itself? Will they be able to vote for our government (after this right has been taken away from a million and a half Arab citizens)? Will they determine the policy of our government – joining the Jewish billionaires, casino and brothel owners, who own our newspapers and TV stations and buy our politicians wholesale or retail?
    No Israeli law has defined what the “Jewish people” is. A religious community? An ethnic group? A race? All these together? Does it include all those professing the Jewish religion? Everybody who has a Jewish mother? Does it include a non-Jew married to someone with one Jewish grandparent, who today enjoys the automatic right to come to Israel and become a citizen? If 100 thousand Arabs were to convert to Judaism tomorrow, would the state belong to them, too?
    And what about the confusion between “Nation” and “People”? Does the Nation-State belong to the “Nation” or to the “People”? According to what scientific or juridical definition? Does the German “Nation-State” belong to the German “People” – which, according to some, also includes the Austrians and the German-speaking Swiss?
    We have here a knot of concepts, terms and semantic confusions, a knot that cannot be unraveled.
    THE FORMER Minister of Justice, the late Yaakov Shimshon Shapira, a Zionist through and through, told me once that, as the Legal Advisor of the government, he had advised David Ben-Gurion not to enact the Law of Return – because he would never find an answer to the question “who is a Jew”. It is even more difficult to answer the question “what is a Jewish State”.
    And indeed, what does it mean? A state in which there is a Jewish majority – something that may well change in time? A state whose language is Hebrew and whose official holidays are Jewish? A state that belongs to the Jews all over the world? A state all of whose citizens are Jews, and Jews only? A state of transfer and ethnic cleansing? And how do the words “Jewish” and “Democratic” go together?”


  • Bob Reynolds January 9, 2014, 1:51 AM

    The demand for recognition as a Jewish State and the homeland of the Jews is intended to make
    a Palestinian State the homeland of all Palestinians thus solving the problem of a right of return of the
    refugees. Lieberman has made this very clear in his comments. And if nothing else a precondition that will
    prevent any agreement.

    I don’t understand why anyone thinks that there is any prospect for an agreement or that
    Israel is bargaining in good faith. Oslo which was to be the foundation of a peace process
    is now 20 years in the past and all that has happened is the expansion of the settlements and the
    continued loss of Palestinian land and rights. Israel having created facts on the ground and many of them
    extremist facts on the ground knows that it can not remove the settlers nor does it want to.

    Obama has a history of being willing to settle for the appearance of progress that goes back to is days
    as a State Senator and that may be all that this push is about. I find it hard to believe that he and Kerry
    think they can solve this on any basis that would be deemed equitable. There may be the fantasy that
    they can push the Palestinians into a settlement that will meet all of Netanyahu’s preconditions and that if
    they can’t they can blame either or both parties.

  • Oui January 9, 2014, 4:03 AM


    Let’s swap Lieberman and keep Wadi Ara by Yigal Sarna

    There is a wonderful Hebrew term – “a quarrelsome person” [איש ריב ומדון]. A. Lieberman is such a person. As long as it’s within the community, who cares? When it turns into a nationwide problem, it’s serious trouble.

    … So if it were in my hands, I would be glad to carry out a much less dramatic and inflammatory population exchange. A. Lieberman, who immigrated at the age of 20 from Kishinev in Moldova, could remain in his home in the settlement of Nokdim as a Jewish enclave under the PA’s control beyond the West Bank fence, while my friend, lawyer and human rights activist Hussein Abu Hussein, whose great-grandfather was born in Wadi Ara, would stay put as an Israeli citizen working frequently in the PA territories. Thus everyone’s problems would be solved.

  • brenda January 9, 2014, 8:17 AM

    I’ve held the “Machiavellian Kerry” view from the beginning, although I confess from time to time I give in to entertaining notions that the Kerry mission might actually be successful in delivering a just peace treaty. But Machiavellian is the only thing that makes sense — why would Obama/Kerry go into this fraught arena otherwise? Both of them are too smart, too politically experienced, they didn’t need to put themselves through this torture. What can they hope to achieve from this hopeless endeavor? Answer: delivering Israel to the European sanctions. Once the ‘peace talks’ go down, and if Israel is perceived as being the guilty party — which the US negotiations have exposed — the sanctions floodgates open wide. There is a small steady trickle of sanctions happening now, including the celebrated ASA, but the Europeans are holding back until the peace talks are finished.

  • TMC January 9, 2014, 12:36 PM

    Oh Bibi, you want to be the Islamic Republic of Iran SO BAD.


    No one will recognize the simple title because it would give Netanyahu and the greater Israel goons (the ones who think no one else knows the shtick still) a proverbial carte blanche to go ahead with their ethnic cleansing operation a la Jabotinsky. The fact is, what religious identity would an “Israel” most bear by virtue of definition? The necessity for the redundancy points to a fanatical insecurity. Such identity springs forth from strong culture. The historical examples for this are endless. You will never be able to mandate such recognition successfully (in fact, the opposite will occur).

    So, are Bibi et. al. really that stupid? Are they actually concerned about “preserving a Jewish identity”, or are they blatantly trying to represent the entire demographic of Jewry by seeking such things through Indyk? Why would they want to hide under such a broader religious demographic (often, mish-mashed into a talk on race despite there being several ethnicities to the religion)? Are Bibi et. al. doing anything immoral or wrong and has hiding under that larger religious demographic helped? Abe Foxman doesn’t think so. Wink, wink.

  • Davey January 9, 2014, 7:20 PM

    I hate to say the obvious but isn’t the “Jewish” state ad hoc requirement just another condition added because it is unacceptable to Palestinians? Bibi can then say he tried.

    Even a Palestinian state (e.g. 10% of Palestine?) will not convince Palestinians that they should forgo their claim of right of return. It seems to me that only recognition of the ROR, and suitable steps toward remedy (e.g. reparations) can liquidate this claim. Palestinians want some modicum of justice, at least, above all: But, who ever gets that? Anyone who has been through even a divorce knows better.

    • Deïr Yassin January 10, 2014, 2:26 PM

      I don’t know if Yair-my-hair-is-perfect-Lapid ever divorced, I’ve heard he’s not too bright and still he gets the point about justice for the Palestinians, so maybe the brighter people in the Knesset get it too.
      In an interview with Charlie Rose:
      Yair Lapid: The Israelis and the Palestinians want two very different things, the Palestinians want peace and justice, the Israelis peace and security.
      Charlie Rose: You’re saying you can’t have justice for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis (….). The Palestinians are interested in justice and you’re not prepared to give it”

  • E k January 11, 2014, 2:24 PM

    The idea is that Israel will remain the state of the Jewish people. That Jewish people from abroad has the right to return. This is not antidemocatric, and it is similar to Germany as the state of German people. By not recgonizing it, the Palestinians might deny the right of the Jewish people on this land. And there is a fear that one state wouldn’t be enough for them. I’m sure that for Hamas it is not enough. And demographically speaking, I don’t know what will happen if Arabs become majority in Israel. But the world is divided etnically and every etnic group include the Jewish and the Palestinians has right for state of their own.

    • Richard Silverstein January 11, 2014, 7:24 PM

      No, actually it would be far more apt to liken Israel to a Germany divided between religions and say that Germany was the homeland for German Lutherans, but not for Catholics, which of course would be absurd. Or like saying West Germany is the homeland for German Catholics while East Germany was the homeland for German Lutherans. Equally absurd.

      As for the Right of Return, imagine if German Catholics enjoyed the Right of Return while Lutherans didn’t. By the way, under current German law someone claiming German ancestry does not get immediately get citizenship, as the Right of Return offers Jews.

      In other words, in almost all other countries in the world (with the exception perhaps of Vatican City), religion and nationality are not the same thing. In Israel, as far as Jews are concerned, it is.

      • E k January 12, 2014, 10:36 AM

        Thanks for the replay!
        You are clinging to facts (and I don’t deny this) that doesn’t reflect the true nature of the state. This nature is secular.
        You can say that “In god we trust” is written on a bill. Is the US religious country?

        The founders of the state were , mostly, secular. They were influenced by Communism, not by rabbis.
        The purpose of the state is to be a place for the Jewish people to be , as a lesson learned from the Holocaust.

        Some comprises were made to keep the status quo with the religious people. Too much.
        In 1958 , Ben-Gurion decided that to get citizenship , if you are not part of the Jewish people(Genetically, if you want) , you will have to be converted to Judaism. I think that is because , as some people see it , the traditions from Judaism , are part of the culture of the Jewish nationality. I think that is totally wrong. But I think this is somehow not fundamental. It means we don’t accept many newcomers(and it is not done fairly).

        Apparently 42% of the population are secular , and 38% traditional(In 2009). That is 80% who are not quite religious. De facto , This is a state of the Jewish people. Not Jewish Orthodox people. The real difficulty in the peace process is not because of Judaism, but because of security problems.

        • Marta January 13, 2014, 1:35 AM

          RE: Is the US religious country?

          That cannot be a serious question.
          There are laws passed against abortion and for prayer in school. The ten commandments are posted in some courtrooms.

          I tried affirming instead of swearing on the bible when giving evidence. Despite telling the judge I was an atheist, he ignored my request and told me I would HAVE to put my hand on the bible and swear or would be held in contempt of court.

          If that is not religion, I don’t know what is. The US and Israel are controlled by religious extremist but constantly deny deny it.

    • Davey January 13, 2014, 10:22 AM

      Why then is it that a Jew can be a Frenchman but a Frenchman cannot be a Jew, except by religious conversion (if then)? I mean as long as you are making parallels, let’s get it right.

      • Davey January 13, 2014, 10:26 AM

        If you follow through these “ethnic” “nationalist” analogies you wind up with oxymoron “Catholic Jews” or “Jewish Protestants.”

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