70 thoughts on “Why U.S.-Brokered Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks Will Fail – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I agree with you 100%, Richard. These talks will be no more productive than Annapolis under the Bush administration. Neither Israel nor the U.S. has any interest in a just peace in Palestine. What’s in it for Abbas? He gets to keep his job a bit longer, even though his presidency has run out. No matter what he agrees to, the Palestinians will not follow. It is well known that he is a tool of the Zionists and neocons.

    The whole thing, as usual, is a charade. Don’t forget, this is an election year and Obama has to look like he’s trying. QED.

  2. I think Netanyahu agreed to the peace talks because his seeming co-operation will make him look good in the eyes of those people who believe that the Israeli administration is trying so hard for peace, only to be thwarted at every time by the machinations of the Arabs. He won’t have to make any concessions, nothing will change, and he will be able to walk away from the negotiating table looking like a peace-loving man who tried his best. The Palestinians will not be able to accept what they’re inevitably going to be offered – the tatters of a state torn apart by settlements, with frighteningly limited access to water and other crucial resources, and their refusal will be portrayed as typical Arab intransigence. Bibi has nothing to lose from this.

    I think Gideon Levy said it best when he wrote that peace will only become a possibility once Israel finds the courage to ‘open the 1948 file’. If the Israeli government won’t do it, the US needs to forcibly open it for them. I note that the Israeli government is currently refusing to release archived documents pertaining to the events of ’48. I would have much more faith in the peace process if Obama insisted on having those documents on the table.

  3. The problem with use of force or threat of force (by USA) (on negotiators) is that it is likely to be unprincipled. Too soft on Israel, too hard on Palestinians, and, in both cases, wholly unprincipled.

    OK, but are there principles available? Certainly. And they have nothing to do with negotiations.

    The US should begin a forceful movement, international in reach, via UNSC and UNGA, to require Israel to comply with Fourth Geneva Convention — meaning, to start with, remove all settlers (Golan and West Bank), remove the wall, lift the Gaza siege, each with its own tight timetable, say one year.

    Formally such a move is independent of negotiations and merely an attempt to use force (BDS by nation states) to enforce law which, in any case, most nations as signatories have already undertaken to enforce (“ensure respect” for) “in all circumstances”.

    In actuality, such a move would improve the human rights of Palestinians living under occupation and would make a clear end to Israel’s sense of entitlement (with international blessing, as today) to usurp Palestine (and Syria) BEFORE a peace treaty is signed. It would also switch the power of Israel’s settler lobby FROM rejection of peace TO an attempt to save what settlements can still be saved before the “tight timetable” runs out.

    Friends of Palestine and friends of Israel should support this idea, for the alternative is stasis of the kind now all too familiar.

    The USA needs help to overcome its own pro-Israel tendencies (and Lobby). The nations need help to overcome their fear of the USA’s military and economic clout. The civil communities should be working to provide that help.

    In a principled way.

  4. Thanks, Richard. As always, I am highly skeptical of international pressure serving as a positive tool.

    The elusive perspective of Netanyahu’s stance is the demographic threat that people are marching in order to promote a two-state solution. Netanyahu voiced similar concerns in his Bar-Ilan speech, and if he perceived this as a real threat, you’d expect more effort to cut a deal. Interestingly, we know that Peres and Ramon are afraid of precisely that, and we also need to have that explained for a better understanding of the process.

    The biggest tragedy is the beginning of talks before an official reunification of Gaza and the West Bank took place. Just as in Annapolis, this is substantiating the separation between the two, in a way that’s beneficial for Israel, and detrimental to Palestinians.

  5. The most obvious reason why the talks will fail is because the United States has never been an honest broker in any of the previous negotiations.

  6. I think the issue is not about whether the talk will “fail”. That’s a foregone conclusion, because there can be no honest “talks” in the current climate, with the US administration under the midterm elections cloud, and the Israeli government (and most of the israeli population) being really committed to keeping the West Bank with at most a few reservations carved out for the Palestinians.

    We know – as Richard and commenters above say – why the US feels obliged to promote the appearance of “talks” at this time (pacify J Street, maintain illusions, keep up appearances by issuing press releases and all that). What we don’t know is just how much pressure was applied to Abbas for him to agree to the charade, having resisted probably as long as he could. No matter how ill we may think of Abbas (weak, non-representative, etc), he is obviously not so stupid as to think he really has much to gain from these talks at this time, with this israeli government. Rather, it must have been made quite clear to him what he – and the palestinians – stand to lose if they don’t go along, and help keep up the appearance that there’s a 2 state to talk about. What Abbas, Fayad – and the other privileged palestinian (ie, their Vichy government) actually think, is quite immaterial in this equation.

    Indeed, more than anything this reminds me of the theological “debates” the Christian church would sometimes sponsor with Jewish rabbis during the darkest of the middle age. The learned jewish scholars could, of course, refuse the invitation, since the conclusions were forgone – lose or win the arguments. But under the cloud of immediate pogroms it was obvious that the wiser choice is to show up and try to extend the “learned’ proceedings as much as possible in an effort (not always futile) to buy time, and perhaps, extract some mercy (limit the damage to the community).

    In this case we have “peace talks”, but in reality , they are a debate – not about who’s right, but about how much power israel really has and what limits – if any – are there to exercising that power. For the israeli side, it’s a chance to drum into the Palestinians just how many cards they hold; for the Obama administration it’s an opportunity to showcase – yet again – their ‘adeptness’ at “bi-partisanship”, and – most importantly – to avoid the label of Mitchell mission failure, while taking some pressure off from their Jewish “left” flank. The Arab states have of course, no pressure to bring anyways, so I doubt they play much role in this equation other than contributing to the pressure on Abbas to show up the better to show their own people that “something” is happening (what their own “people’ think i another immaterial consideration, alas).

    And the Palestinians? like the jewish rabbis of old, their true mission is probably to buy some time and plead for mercy in the meantime (ie, slow the pace of settlements, if only a little, and if only for show). When you are that weak, dependent for your very life and livelihood on the mercy of your occupiers and oppressors, staying alive longer IS your one true goal.

    I am sure that one of the arguments made to Abbas, is that it’s more effective to wield the weapon of walking away from talks that are underway (pointless as they may be) than to threaten the blunt edge of a no show.

    1. Correction: should be ” he is obviously not so stupid as to think”.

      Apology: sorry for the long post. Got away with me (as always)

  7. The importance of the talks is twofold:

    1. To keep talking, so that the precedent is of relations and communications, rather than having to reinvent the wheel at whatever point sincere will to reconcile appears.

    2. To search for new ideas, even if it doesn’t come from the principles, who are limited by relationships to their constituents and opponents.

    I am actually hopeful that there might be possible another election process in Palestine, and acceptance by the US of the victor. Hamas has changed, even if just incrementally. The leadership are older now, more mature, and now have more fanatic opponents on their flank. They’ve seen that the consequences of over-zealousness is not success, but unintended harms to all.

    I don’t know if they would boycott a Palestinian election still for the prospect of betraying their oft-stated principle of never legitimizing Israel by a peer treaty. (Israel says the same.)

    The only way that Israel will treaty or assist in the formation and recognition of a Palestinian state, is if it is confident that of peace. Even if Palestinians desire justice (as their criteria, and by their understanding of what justice means), to achieve it requires that they also construct peace into the agreements’ design.

    Democratic and nationalist as an apparent, but actually reconcilable contradiction.

    Justice and peace as an apparent, but actually reconciliable “contradiction”.

    The single state idea, whether bi-national or integrated, cannot happen by magic. It can only happen through transitions, and the transitions require recognition evolving to respect of the other community, if not their current leadership.

  8. Seems like all of you guys are hoping that the talks would fail. instead of encouraging the talks you are almost discouraging them, i wonder why so ?

    1. I don’t think anybody here is hoping that the talks will fail. We just don’t see how it is logically possible for them to succeed in the current climate. Neither Israel nor the USA are prepared to address issues that are central to this conflict, and until that happens, there can’t be peace. Peace comes out of heads and hearts, not out of a hat; and until everyone concerned is engaging thoughtfully and compassionately with both current issues and the historical origins of the conflict, nothing can change. The Israeli administration won’t even accept that its occupation is illegal, and it is insisting on preserving the settlements – with the right to build new ones. Those are intrinsically aggressive acts. How can you have peace when your peace is built on a lie?

    2. I not only expect the talks to fail, but I want the talks to fail. Because any solution based on two states is a bad solution. The alleged Palestinian state would not be a state at all. The only solution, as far as I am concerned, is a binational, one state, serving two peoples.

      See the excellent essay by Danny Rubenstein, a former editor at Haaretz, One State/Two States: Rethinking Israel and Palestine, which appeares in the summer 2010 issue of Dissent: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=3254

      1. @ Gene
        do you even live in Israel / Palestine ? what gives you the right, to tell Israelis or Palestinians what type of countries they should form ? you don’t live here, you will not be paying the price if your agenda would be forced on both sides.

        @ Vciky, despite of what you think, the Israeli government showed that when they need to make hard decisions for the sake of peace they do, it took place in evicting everyone from Sinai in 1978, and during the eviction of all the settlements in the Gaza strip. The society in Israel wants peace, and will do whatever is needed to achieve it providing Israeli security needs will be granted, and freedom of religion for Jews will be granted as well.

        any of you who wants to understand anything about the conflict, i would recommend reading a book written by a Palestinian, This book is Son Of Hamas (http://sonofhamas.com/)

        1. The settlers in the Gaza Strip had lived there in defiance of international law for over three decades. Removing them may have been a ‘hard decision’ for a government that had come to see illegal occupation as a right and a duty, but it was hardly a significant contribution to peace – it was the absolute bare minimum that the Israeli government could have done. And they undermined what good they did with that minimum by sealing the doors and windows to Gaza behind them, reducing the population to crippling destitution that is objectively worse than the poverty faced by most nations in sub-Saharan Africa.

          As for the Sinai withdrawal, Sinai is Egyptian territory. It never fails to astonish me how Israel’s supporters expect Israel to be cheered for returning what was never theirs, as though this is some marvellous act of unparalleled generosity. Once again, giving back illegally annexed territory to its rightful owners is the bare minimum for peace. And we need more than the bare minimum now.

          As for your book recommendation, Mosab Hassan Yousef’s story is only useful in that it reveals just how deeply fractured Palestinian society has become, and how Israel seeks to widen those fractures in every way possible. The Israeli government (getting skittish at the thought of a unified Arab political front) actively encouraged the development and growth of Hamas, which took place in 1987 – forty years AFTER the beginning of the conflict. If you take Yousef’s book as your guide to the conflict, you’re missing out on an awful lot of history, aren’t you?

          As for Yousef himself, I feel sorry for him. He put me in mind of all the young men like him who are coerced into spying for the Shin Bet, knowing that both refusal and acceptance carry a terrible price – punishment at the hands of the Israel secret service, or punishment at the hands of Palestinian vigilantes. Unlike him, these poor souls don’t get the guarantee of a shiny new life in California – because once they’ve outlived their usefulness, the Israeli government really couldn’t care less about what happens to them. And this testimony to callousness is what you want to use as proof of the Israeli government’s peaceful intentions?

          1. Thank you Vicky for, number one; saving me from having to bother with the book Ronen recommended, and number two; for your excellent refutation of his arguments.

            Ronen: No, I do not live in Israel/Palestine, but if the Zionist state claims to be my last refuge as a Jew, and that they represent world Judaism, then I think I have as much right to have an opinion as anyone else. What I’m really afraid of is that all of us, not only Jews, will be paying a heavy price for following the Zionist agenda of ethnic cleansing, territorial expansion, defying international law, committing war crimes, and the perpetuation of racist hatred. Israel has lost its Jewish soul. Zionism has sold it to the American devil. Or vice versa.

            Reciprocally, I will recommend a book for you: Alan Hart’s magisterial three volume, “Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews.” It is not opinion but, rather a history of the Zionist enterprise from its beginnings to the present day. It will give you reason to pause.

          2. Gene,
            Which ethnic cleansing are you talking about ? the one carried by the Jordanian legion who captured Gush Etzion for example, or the one of the Egyptian army who captured kfar-darom ? because both those place were purchased in the 1920 and the Jews who purchased the place were either killed or expelled from the place. same goes to the Jewish quarters in the holly city, place in the city of hebron and others.

            and one quick question, if you talk about ethnic cleansing i am sure in that in the name of the same principle you would be willing to set an example to us savages, evict your home, and give the land back to the native Americans right ?

          3. Are you comparing the massacre of Gush Etzion with the Nakba? Are you comparing 100 or 200 expelled Jews with a million Palestinians? I will not defend the Gush Etzion massacre. It was heinous as were the acts of violence Jews committed against Arabs during the same period. But if you wish to claim that the Arabs engaged in ethnic cleansing on the scale of Palestinian Jews you’re out of your mind & any reasonable person will see through your hasbara in a nanosecond.

          4. You better check your facts.
            first the number isn’t a 1,000,000 its 750,000
            second a huge portion of the Arabs who fled out, did so because the Arab leadership told them to do so. they thought the Arab armies would through all the jews to the see at no time, and they would be able to get back – i am sorry we won and they lost.

            yes there were some incident that should have never took place, they happened on both sides and…. this is war.

            just one quick question Mr. expert to the Israeli-Arab conflict , what about all the jews that were forced to leave their properties and leave as they were haunted, killed in their then home lands ? the number is very similar.
            my suggestion get over it, the arabs can only lose if they would pursue that route as generally speaking Palestinians were very poor, and the jews were financially secured.

            i have two questions i was unable to find answers in the about me section.
            1. have you ever lived in israel and for how long ?
            2. when was the last time you visited the place ?

          5. a huge portion of the Arabs who fled out, did so because the Arab leadership told them to do so

            Oh Lord how tiresome you are. Your hasbara talking points haven’t been updated since 1948. Where did you come fr. anyway? Herut circa 1948? You’re peddling arrant nonsense. There are lots of websites where you could do so & readers would eat it up. Not here.

            the number is very similar.

            Are you claiming that 1 million Jews were driven fr. their homes? By whom? In which countries? And really–one million? Could you break out the numbers for us & let us know where you get the support for such numbers.

            have you ever lived in israel

            If I recall correctly I note that I studied at the Hebrew University. Given that, why would you even ask the question?

            when was the last time you visited the place ?

            This once again is a slightly more subtle form of shlilat ha-galut. It so happens that I’ve lived in & visited Israel, have advanced degrees in Jewish studies, speak fluent Hebrew, etc. But what does that have to do with anything? I don’t need yr heksher to devote myself to this issue. I don’t need a heksher from Israelis or classical Zionists or anyone to have my contribution count. So I remind you, I will not defend or explain myself to you or anyone else so get off the subject.

          6. @ richard

            debating with your highness is a very unpleasant experience for few reasons:

            1. you are extremley arrogant.
            2. you are extremely unaware of the history of those who claim are your people.
            3. you have no derech-eretz.

            as for the facts the number of Jews that were pushed out from their homes in the different Arab countries is 856,000.
            as you claim you are fluent in Hebrew here is a link for you

          7. the number of Jews that were pushed out from their homes in the different Arab countries is 856,000.

            I see. Can you break that down by country for us?

            But I can see where this is going & let me ease yr mind. I imagine your numbers include all the Jews from Arab countries who emigrated to Israel. Now you’re claiming that every single one of them suffered a personal Jewish nakba & was driven fr. his home via anti-Semitic persecution. Now, we all know that a slight exagerration, don’t we? Or dont’ we? Do you wish to claim that every Jew who emigrated fr. Arabia did so under threat of expulsion, etc.?

          8. @ Richard
            two options:
            A. you can’t read hebrew
            B. You are two arrogant to even read the links provided.

            a very detailed explanation is listed in the link provided, but it’s in Hebrew so i guess you can’t really understand.

            Morocco – 265,000
            Algiers – 140,000
            Tunis – 105,000
            Libya – 38,000
            Egypt – 100,000
            Iraq – 135,000
            Syria – 30,000
            Lebanon – 50,000
            Yaman – 5,000
            total – 881,000 jews were forced to live, because there rights were revoked, they feared for their life etc.

            the numbers are based on a research by prof. ada haroni.
            and now according to your ritual, you are going to claim that she was doing hasbara or some other utter BS. the level of a real debate, from an expert no less.

            as for my grandfather , do you think i need an heksher from you ? humor me.

          9. Yes, I saw those numbers & once again you are lying because you are claiming that evey single Jew who left an Arab country was thrown out and that’s a lie. Period.

            As for yr snark about knowing Hebrew, again I’m fluent in Hebrew. So don’t go there.

          10. My dear dense Richard
            so you are trying to claim that not all the Jews were thrown out. and you are right, most of them were not all of them, the rest fled because there assets were frozen, their neighbors were murdered, their right revoked etc.

            but isn’t it what you claimed happened with the Palestinians ?

            you are such simpleton it is unbelievable. period.

        2. Ronen, you wanted to hear from someone who lived in Israel? well, I grew up there, did my schooling there, and the obligatory army service there. I can assure you that much of the history we learnt about the founding of the state and the events surrounding it was woefully inadequate, with many facts omitted or twisted so as to whitewash the truth of what really happened. We did not learn about the “other” zionists in the mold of Buber or Achad Ha’am, we never got an inkling of Einstein’s strong opposition to a nationalist/colonialist enterprise that included the wholesale expulsion of the Arabs, we knew nothing of the Nakba, or of the Arabs kept under oppressive military rule for 20 years, and we never wondered why we never met a single Arab all through our teen years (yes, that was before and just after ’67). The name of hannah Arendt was whispered in passing hinting at some great darkness – there wa omething bad she did that had to do with Eichman but we never found out and no one mentioned what it was she wrote. Worse yet, for those of us who grew secular, we knew little of what Judaism actually is. The great Jewish history stopped with the Maccabis, followed by a miserable history of continuous pogroms, interspersed with a few learned rabbis who issued rulings about when it is allowed to slaughter chicken on a Saturday (and I was a vegetarian by then!). We only learnt of countries through the lens of persecution of the Jews. As if no one else was persecuted just as harshly, if not more so; history with no social or historical context, no sense of timing.

          In all the accounts we ever heard, the jews who came to Palestine were always in the right, presented as people victimized the world over – simply because they were smarter and their religion superior. Until finally they took matters into their own hands against great odds. The Arabs were portrayed as primitive and incompetent at best and savages with murderous impulses at worst. We were taught – over and over – the message made clearer as we went through the grades, that Arabs were dirty, their religion inferior (with christianity barely any better), their way of life not worth knowing about, their appearance and manner too ugly to countenance.

          Little did we know of the true history of the banishment of the Palestinians from Jaffa, from Jerusalem from what became Tel Aviv and ashdod and ashkelon. We never knew of Plan Dalet (now in the archives not being released). We really believed – as you apparently do now – that the palestinian residents just up and left – ever so conveniently. And that they had the chutzpah to want to return to what was their. To my ever-lasting shame I admit that even I – who was considered a rebel – never thought to ask – just how is it that people get up and leave – en mass? maybe a few villages where war is at the door step, but so many? and why – if they left, were they not allowed to return?

          In other word, what I was taught in Israel is the ABC of supremacy and a deep deep racism, which relegated Arabs to a low caste of untouchables. Judaism was taught on a level equated with contempt towards all things not Jewish. And the diapora jews? they were considered convenient pale fools, whom we should humor because they got the dough.

          So please stop harranging people here about if and when they were to Israel last. It doesn’t matter. Enough of us who were there, were raised Israeli, and perhaps managed to make [reverse] aliyah to [the real] zion in America in the nick of time, are happy to share what experiences they had to give some context it all.

          I suspect that you are one who went to Israel as an adult, never served in the IDF (except in that “service’ open to the new “olim”), and after x number of year still not feeling like you truly one of ‘them” the sabras, you feel obliged to haunt the blogs and spread transparent calumnies, waving the flag as hard as you can in some vain effort to prove your “purity” as an israeli. Maybe you should relax and stop trying so hard. The strident tone you adopt and the over-the-top manufactured nonsensical history, debunked by too many to count – all serve to betray your origins and insecurities. Now if you could find those elusive hasbara bosses could you ask them to please send us the ‘A’ team? maybe then we could debate something. You have still much training ahead of you, I fear.

          1. Dear Dana
            here are the facts:
            i have no idea where you grew in israel, and how poor was your experience with the education sytem, mine was a bit different then yours, i have no idea how old you are.

            i was born raised and i reside in israel, as an israeli i served for the mandatory 3 years and then added another 10 (hope that satisfies you)

            as for the facts, i was always encouraged to read, and in israel reading material about the subject was at your fingertips, nothing was hidden from me, and what i didn’t find in books i was able to ask my dad who was born prior to the forming of the state in 1948 my grandfather who was born in the land in 1840 and others.

            hope that satisfies you.

          2. He used his dad and grand-dad as primary sources in what little he learned about the Arabs & the Nakba. No wonder he turned out this way.

            And wait a second, your math doesn’t work out. You grandfather (do you mean great grandfather?) was born in 1840? That would mean if your father was born when your grandfather was 60, then your father is 110 years old. I guess if yr father died 20-30 yrs ago at the age of 80 or 90 that might be possible. But it would make you awfully old as well. If you are, that might explain the old fashioned hasbara you’re peddling. Something is whacky somewhere.

          3. Ronen, I don’t understand why Richard, Dana, Vicky, or even I should waste time trying to explain things to you and offer facts. You have been so indoctrinated by the Zionist lies and propaganda that blinds most Israelis to the crimes committed in their names by the Zionist enterprise, that no matter what anyone tells you, you will deny it.

            Re ethnic cleansing, you just might want to look at Jonathan Cook’s latest piece at http://www.counterpunch.org, (weekend edition 20-22 Aug., 2010).

            Re Jewish expulsion from Arab countries, you might want to read Naeim Giladi’s book, “Ben Gurion’s Scandals: How the Haganah & Mossad Eliminated Jews” (you can Google it), which discusses the ‘crimes committed by Zionists in their frenzy to import raw Jewish labor’! ‘…..Jews from Islamic lands did not emigrate willingly to Israel; that to force them to leave, Jews killed Jews; and that to buy time to confiscate ever more Arab lands, Jews on numerous occasions rejected genuine peace initiatives from their Arab neighbors.’ In other words, Jews weren’t forced to leave their Arab native homes, as in Iraq, by Arabs, but by Zionists.

          4. Ronen,

            750, 000 is the rather conservative number used by academics in reference to the people who were driven out of their homes in 1948 and its immediate aftermath. However, the process of systematic dispossession is ongoing; thousands more people have been forced out of the homes through the inhumane and oppressive policies of a government that tries to make life as difficult for Palestinians as possible. A prime example would be the suffering of Palestinians of Israeli citizenship who live in the unrecognised villages, the people who were displaced from their original homes during the Nakba and declared ‘present absentees’ when Israel was founded. Deprived of basic public services, such as electricity and piped water, and they live under constant threat of house demolition. This climate of poverty and fear is cultivated quite deliberately in the hope that it will aid Palestinian emigration. This is all part of the Nakba. It was not a one-off historical event; it’s still going on.

            “second a huge portion of the Arabs who fled out, did so because the Arab leadership told them to do so. they thought the Arab armies would through all the jews to the see at no time, and they would be able to get back – i am sorry we won and they lost.”

            I must have heard the myth of the Arab radio broadcasts hundreds of times by now, and I think this is why Richard got frustrated – the story has been proved false, yet Israel’s apologists continue to use it even in the face of evidence to the contrary. The BBC monitored Arab radio broadcasts for years, and in the 1970s John Zimmerman conducted a thorough analysis of the 1940s archives. No such instructions to flee were ever issued. Not once.

            Meanwhile, analysis of Israel’s military archives reveals that the ethnic cleansing was focused and intentional. On October 31 1948, Major General Carmel sent a cable to all the division and district commanders under his authority: “Do all you can to immediately and quickly purge the conquered territories of all hostile elements in accordance with the orders issued. The residents should be helped to leave the areas that have been conquered.” I have always found the phrase ‘helped to leave’ quite chilling in the light of what happened next, and I’m not the only one. Yitzhak Rabin testifies to his own discomfort in his diary: “Ben-Gurion would repeat the question: ‘What is to be done with the population?,’ waving his hand in a gesture which said: ‘Drive them out!’ ‘Driving out’ is a term with a harsh ring…Psychologically, this was one of the most difficult actions we undertook.”

            There is still legitimate debate within academic circles over the nature of the ethnic cleansing, with some historians arguing that it was premeditated and others claiming that it unfolded naturally in the course of the conflict. But no serious academic doubts the application of the term, no matter what their political views on the subject. When a Haaretz reporter used the term in an interview with Benny Morris, he did not challenge its accuracy, but responded simply, “There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing.” The academic and historical consensus is that there was such a cleansing. We can’t get away from that. Either you oppose it, or you OK it, but it’s very difficult to dispute it in the light of current evidence.

            Dispossession experienced by Native Americans (or Tutsis, or Tibetans, or Armenians) doesn’t somehow cancel out the Palestinian experience. I never understand why people think that they can justify Israel’s actions by pointing out that similar atrocities have unfolded elsewhere. Injustice is common. We know that. It doesn’t make injustice right. Equally, the suffering experienced by Arab Jews in the wake of 1948 doesn’t make Palestinian suffering deserved. Too many supporters of Israel seem to believe that all Arabs are the same, and that it is possible to hold Palestinians culpable for any crime any Arab anywhere ever commits against a Jew. That’s exactly what you’re doing here.

            In some cases I think the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands can be called ethnic cleansing. In some cases (particularly the case of Iraq) it can’t. The Israeli government was involved in a set of deals with the Iraqi authorities to increase Jewish immigration to Israel, so they had a strong political stake in ensuring that life was made difficult for Iraqi Jews. It is also important to remember that these old Arab Jewish communities were woven tightly into the ancient cultural fabric of the societies where they lived – and there never was any threat to their status until the establishment of Israel in 1948. Retaliatory attacks are always wrong, but they are qualitatively different from the systematic dispossession we see in the Nakba. They are also illogical, as Arab Jews elsewhere bore no responsibility for the destruction of Palestine. You evidently disapprove of their victimisation. So why is it suddenly OK to make Palestinian refugees retrospectively culpable for the behaviour of vigilantes in Egypt?

            You’re also forgetting that the Jews you speak of are Arabs themselves – and not all of them are as enamoured of Israel as you are. The remaining Jewish community in Yemen is disintegrating under repeated attacks, and it has sought safety in London. Stamford Hill, to be precise. That community has a fairly strong anti-Zionist core, and I doubt the new Arab additions would be too pleased to see you misappropriating their suffering for your cause. There’s a reason why they didn’t head for Tel Aviv.

            I doubt that Aharoni would be too pleased to see you using her figures to trivialise the Palestinians’ dispossession, either. Her views and yours are poles apart. She has never denied the ethnic cleansing, and nor has she sought to justify it through her own experiences of forced expulsion. I disagree with her on many counts, but she doesn’t think like this.

            You say that nothing was hidden from you during the course of your education. “I was always encouraged to read,” you tell us. Were you? We’re talking about a country where the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish is banned from schools, and where a proposal to introduce his work to the curriculum led to a motion of no confidence being tabled against the Barak government. As Darwish said wryly at the time, “I find it strange that the most militarily powerful country in the Middle East feels threatened by a poem.” And this takes me to another statement that you made about the 1948 war: “We won and they lost.” The Yeshuv didn’t win. It created a society built on fear, and for the society to be maintained in its current form that fear has to be maintained as well. Its maintenance involves banning poems and suppressing knowledge and building walls and doing everything possible to dehumanise the people on the other side of those walls, to make sure that they are always seen as something alien and dangerous. Daphna Golan put it best when she spoke about her own experience as a soldier conducting a night-time raid on a house with small children: “I thought, what would I feel if I was this four-year-old kid? How would I grow up? At that moment it occurred to me that sometimes we’re doing things that just create victims. To be a good occupier, we have to create conflict.”

            Every nation has its founding myths. They involve dragons and princes and witches and emperors. People accept that the stories are not literally true, but they embrace the morals and qualities the stories describe, seeing them as their cultural hallmarks. But the modern Israeli creation myth isn’t just a pleasant folktale. It does get taken literally. It has dreadful repercussions for people’s lives, both occupier and occupied; and the ‘qualities’ it promotes are absolute paranoia, romanticisation of war, and fetishisation of military life. There are no victories in such a society, not for anyone.

          5. Vicky
            i will answer your very long post with one sentence
            in may 1946 the secretary of the Arab league, Azam stated that if hostilities were to start in Palestine all women and children should be evicted to safety. the locals extended his instructions a bit and included males in it as well.
            there were few posts in different newspapers that called the Palestinians to leave for a limited time until the Arab armies would throw the Jews to the sea. Benny Morris gives references in one of his books (1948 / victims). and yes we did drive people out of their places, and so did they.

            what i am getting at (since you guys are trying to make me look as a war mongering Israeli) is that if each side will not recognize the others rights, there will be no peace. by promoting the notion that only the Zionist have any responsibility to the situation you are providing an ill service to a solution, not to mention that you are trying to rewrite history and simply twisting the facts.

            just FYI, the notion of the Haskalah stream, failed. it doesn’t work to be a man outside and a jew inside. that notion ended in the holocaust, and i am astonished that this stream still exist, seems like parts of us have learned nothing from history.

          6. yes we did drive people out of their places, and so did they.

            No, you drove out a million. They drove out a few thousand. Neither eviction is justified, but yours was far the worse.

            the notion of the Haskalah stream, failed.

            Nice to see that Ronen’s classical ZIonism rejects the notion of the Jewish Englightenment, which is the basis of the entire western Jewish Diaspora. Clearly, the Haskalah didn’t fail since there are far more Jews living in the Diaspora than in Israel.

          7. Very good, balanced post Vicky. Apparently mostly wasted on Ronen, though at least he acknowledges now that his side also drove people out.

          8. Suggesting a civilian evacuation in the event of war is hardly the same thing as plotting to leave temporarily so that another army can sweep in and ‘throw the Jews into the sea’. Civilian evacuation is a natural part of every war – it’s called ‘people trying to keep themselves safe’. You were making it out to be part of some nefarious plot.

            In ‘The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem’, Benny Morris refers to Shabtai Tebeth’s article ‘The New Historians’. Tebeth quotes from a HISAD report dated 27 April 1948, and Morris replicates the quotation: “[There are] rumours that an order was issued by the AHC in Jerusalem to evacuate the Arab inhabitants of several sites in the country, as the Arab governments want to send strong forces of tanks and aircraft and bomb all the country’s cities…[They are] advising the Arab inhabitants to flee the country as soon as possible and after its conquest by Arab governments they will bring back the Arab inhabitants as conquerors.”

            Morris states that he has never seen this HISAD document. He is sceptical that it even exists, pointing out that the leadership of the Yeshuv would surely have used such a document to rebut Arab charges in the United Nations. No such document was ever produced. There is no mention of such a calculated plan of evacuation and attack in any newspaper of the time. Morris states this quite clearly on the same page of the book: “If it [the HISAD report] exists, and reads as quoted, it is the only contemporary document that has surfaced referring in some way to a general order to evacuate.”

            My posts tend to be long because I like to express myself carefully and be as meticulous as I can with my research. I back up my quotations with sources. I cross-check whatever post for accuracy before I post it. It is certainly a lot more comprehensive and rational than rehashing old myths that were dismantled long ago, before calling people’s Judaism into question or invoking the prospect of a second Holocaust as a last resort. This is exactly what I meant when I talked about a society built on fear.

            “what i am getting at (since you guys are trying to make me look as a war mongering Israeli) is that if each side will not recognize the others rights, there will be no peace.”

            Every individual is responsible for his own conduct, Palestinian or Israeli. I recently accepted a voluntary post with a Palestinian charity that aims to help Palestinians make positive and empowering choices for peace, using non-violent resistance. The charity’s work is rooted in the belief that while Palestinians may not be able to control their situation, they can control themselves, and the resulting dignity is something that no military can take away from them. But the level of responsibility born by Israelis is far greater – because they are the ones with the power. Far more power than any Palestinian. The power to decide who moves where, who lives, who dies, whose home stands. They are the aggressors. And if you contribute to this situation, whether through direct action or simply allowing it to pass unchallenged, you are an aggressor too.

            It sounds ugly. Something I have noticed about people (that goes for myself too) is that we almost always react with horror at the suggestion that we might be a racist, or a war-monger, or anything of that sort. I know a woman who routinely says the most awful things about immigrants, but who got very upset when her attitudes were termed racist. Everybody likes to believe that they are fundamentally good people, after all. But if you participate in a military occupation that crushes lives, you are fuelling the conflict. That’s war-mongering, whether you like it or not. Rather than abhorring the suggestion, try to abhor the activity.

  9. now what was that threat that carter used to bring egypt and israel to the table and to have them both sign a treaty?

    oh thats right…he forced them to take billions in perpetuity


  10. “I am actually hopeful that there might be possible another election process in Palestine, and acceptance by the US of the victor. ”

    The US and Israel have just spent the last three years doing what they could to undermine any possibility of a unified Palestinian government in which Hamas played a role even after they had won an election. They instigated a civil war and then the US supported Israel’s brutal blockade on Gaza in order to discredit Hamas. (Which is not to say that Hamas hasn’t contributed to its own problems.) There’s nothing I’ve seen that suggests this will change. Any agreement Obama forces on the two sides will probably include a continuation of this policy.

    The Palestinians will be under immense pressure to accept whatever offer their oppressors (and here I mean the US as much as Israel) make, and the NYT can be counted upon to portray it as the Obama Administration wants them to. I like Pabelmont’s proposal and to be fair one should extend it to both sides–require both sides to adhere to international law (which would mean no violence against civilians from either side, along with Pabelmont’s other proposals). Unfortunately there is zero chance the US government will favor the application of basic human rights principles to the treatment of the Palestinians–they already, of course, demand that Palestinians not violate the rights of Israelis.

    1. I think it is unlikely that an agreement will come of this series of meetings, but that an agreement will come soon.

      The single state idea sounds nice, but ends in war conducted by the 20-30% in each community that regards only nationalist governance as acceptable. (Zionist or Palestinian)

      After that war, if attempted, a repeat of 1948 will occur, partition, but likely worse for the Palestinians as they are much weaker militarily, and not supported by the Arab League to the extent of willingness to go to war with Israel.

      The settlers will never be forcibly removed. It would be an injustice to the individuals that reside there. (Even if stated as correcting an injustice by their being there.) The most that will happen to the settlements in the West Bank is compensation and opening up to diverse ownership, with the land under Palestinian jurisdiction.

      But, in the future, the mutual animosities and the logic that supports an either/or approach from both Israeli and Palestinian exagerations, will be contested by new leadership.

      The only way that will occur frankly, is if the arguments are de-politicized, and more humanized. Actively, and intentionally valuing the needs (not the rights) of the other.

      Long-term, determined.

      1. “The settlers will never be forcibly removed. It would be an injustice to the individuals that reside there.”
        I take it it’s also an injustice ever to remove illegal immigrants from any country? You have a lot of protesting to do then. Are you in favor of bringing all borders down? Or is it some kind of game? Turning you away at the border is fine, but once you manage to illegally insert yourself into a place, be it by stealth or such as in this case by force, removing you becomes an injustice? Or is it *only* if you moved in by force? Might makes right? What is it?

        There is a very small percentage of settlers, mostly of the religious weirdo type interestingly, who might actually adapt to living in the Palestinian state. There is a larger percentage of those who live either close enough to the Green Line to be swapped to Israel or were just in for the cheap housing anyway and would move out for money.

        But the Uzi-toting, Arab-hating Herrenmensch type of settler, whose existence you apparently ignore, wil indeed have to be removed by whatever means necessary.

        Your whole approach, whatwith the sanctimonious preaching of communciation and understanding, is delusional. There can never be a reconciliation between oppressor and oppressed as long as they are oppressor and oppressed. This is a political problem which can only be solved politically. Since one side (Israel) has no interest in considering the needs of the other side, it needs to be pressured to do so.
        *After* that, reconciliation could begin. Could, if Israel comes to acknowledge its past misdeeds and stars the long, ardous journey of normalizing relations with those it oppressed for decades.
        If it does, it will take a long time. I am quite certain you won’t live to see Israel being truly integrated into its region, enjoying peaceful relations with its neighbors. I doubt I will.

        1. If we were to affix even the most positive spin to this latest round of talks, we must still assume it will go the way of all the others. Primarily, it seems to be an exercise in procrastination, just another session in going through the motions for the benefit of a largely skeptical audience. Nothing of substance is expected; it’s merely there to put off the evil day, a day put off for far too long already. Because, on that day, something has got to be decided, the whole matter taken up and resolved in a very clear and unequivocal manner. Otherwise, a whole lot of other, really evil days must be the consequence.

          Unless the crisis is brought to a head and soon, talks and the relevance of talks will become meaningless and matters will then be addressed in ways with which the human race is all too familiar.

          It should be task of all of us to create an atmosphere wherein talking through the problem does not constitute mere delaying tactics or jockeying for the best position. While the situation remains as it is, nothing very significant can be achieved. It is only by changing the situation radically that any real progress be made.

          You may be aware of my own take on the subject. If there can be an effective option other than that of ‘talks and the prospect of yet more talks,’ I would find it most instructive to be advised on this.

          Postscript. Pointing to the past as an indicator for our future actions would, I suggest, be a mistake, but a mistake only in the sense that nothing is likely to change. And change is fundamental, whether it’s we who change or conditions that are changed by us. Or both.

          1. “It should be task of all of us to create an atmosphere wherein talking through the problem does not constitute mere delaying tactics or jockeying for the best position.”

            I agree. The best way to create that atmosphere would be to tell Netanyahu that he has 12 months to accept
            – A fully sovereign[!] Palestinian state on the 1967 lines with minor land swaps.
            – The removal of all settlers outside of those land swaps, with an exception for those who apply for residence to, and are accepted by, the Palestinian authorities.
            – The removal of all Israeli military forces from the Palestinian state and their replacement by a temporary presence of NATO forces.
            – Immigration of a limited number of Palestinian refugees into Israel and Israeli participation in the compensation fund for all others.

            If he does, he’ll get
            – Peace and diplomatic recognition from the Arab world, including armaments limitation treates, overflight right treaties and whathaveyou.
            – Financial assistance in compensating Palestinian refugees.

            If he doesn’t, he’ll get
            – US military aid cut off.
            – Trading relations to EU dissolved.

            I guarantee you that these blunt, no-nonsense term would bring about the “atmosphere” needed to sign a treaty immediately.

          2. I agree with Koshiro and Richard on the outline of results as far as borders.

            Israel is reasonably looking for assurances that peace would be durable.

            I oppose mass removal of residents, whether deemed legal or illegal by international law, and assume that Palestine will accept ANY law-abiding resident that chooses to remain as Palestinian citizens.

            And by law-abiding, I assume that Palestine would establish “equal due process under the law, color blind” as its democratic way.

            The “durable” part is the difficult one. The Hamas election through the good faith basis of confidence in that durability out the window.

            Do you regard that characteristic of confidently durable as irrelevant or relevant, and if if you regard it as relevant how would you ensure it?

            Certainly, Israel can greatly contribute to it by the logic of a healthy neighbor is a better neighbor than a desparate one, as the basis of policies of good neighbor trade, cultural and other relations.

            Do you expect anything of Palestinians, Arab world, Islamic world, to firm that as a real peace?

          3. “I oppose mass removal of residents, whether deemed legal or illegal by international law, and assume that Palestine will accept ANY law-abiding resident that chooses to remain as Palestinian citizens.”
            I don’t. Countries are under no obligation to put up with illegal immigrants just because they are ‘law-abiding’, which many settlers would be in name only.
            Any Israelis who desire continued residence in the Palestinian state should be able to apply for it if they prove willing to integrate. There will likely be very few who qualify.
            Oh, and of course, the settlements simply cannot continue in anything remotely resembling their current form because of the land (in many cases stolen from individual Palestinians) and water resources the gobble up. Let’s not kid ourselves here: Many of these wannabe Massas will not even consent to handing over their automatic weapons, much less their swimming pools and lawns.

            Rewarding Israel for its ruthless colonization and exploitation by allowing it to keep the major blocs is already pushing it. Continuing the complete network of Israeli occupation and labelling it a ‘Palestinian state’ is unacceptable. To allow almost all settlers on the West Bank to stay on land stolen from Palestinians, while simultaneously keeping almost all Palestinian refugees from returning to their rightful property is more than unacceptable – it’s mind-boggingly offensive.

          4. Sounds fine to me. Netanyahu would probably agree. However, the Palestinians would not. If Abbas agreed to that deal he would be assassinated.

            A few years back a Palestinian pollster found that most Palestinians said they themselves wouldn’t return. A rumor spread that he was going to release a poll that said the Palestinians would agree to a limited right of return. The Palestinians rioted and destroyed his offices.

            One thing I always ask Palestinian supporters who think the Palestinians would agree to limits on the right of return. Can you provide a link to a single verified, unequivocal quote by a Palestinian leader who has ever said the Palestinians would agree to any limit on the right of return?

            I’ve probably asked 50 Palestinian supporters that. So far, not a single Palestinian supporter has come up with a single quote.

            In fact, none of them has come up with a quote that the Palestinians would consider limiting the right of return under any circumstances.

            If you know of one, please tell me. This is something I would love to be wrong about.

          5. Do you know of a single Israeli leader, who has, or would ever agree to limit the Law of Return? When you do & can point to one & quote him or her, get in touch & we’ll talk. Till then, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

          6. Sorry, to be clear. What “sounds fine to me” is Koshiro’s post at 11:18PM. The one about the terms of the deal. As for the settlers. I disagree with Richard Witty. I do not think they should be given the option of remaining in a Palestinian State. That can only lead to trouble. They would attack the Palestinians, or the Palestinians would attack them, or most likely both. Israel would get dragged into it to protect the Jews, regardless of any prior statements about “if you stay, you are on your own”. Once the Palestinians started massacring the settlers, the Israelis would step in. A sure recipe to restart the war.

            Wherever the border is after the negotiations, the settlers should be on the Israeli side of it. If that means moving them, so be it.

          7. “Sounds fine to me. Netanyahu would probably agree.”
            Say what? You do realize what Netanyahu (and in fact, almost every other Israeli leader before him) has defined as the cornerstones of ‘peace’:
            – No ceding of any part of extended Jerusalem. (What, you think E. Jerusalem isn’t included in the 1967 lines?)
            – No Palestinian sovereignty over borders, airspace, natural resources and national defense.
            – No refugees accepted into Israel.
            – No IDF withdrawal from key parts of the West Bank.

            Even the most ‘moderate’ Israeli proposals are willing to compromise, at best, on the first point. None of them ever agreed to a fully sovereign (I put that exclamation mark into the original post for a reason) Palestinian state.
            The maximum offer was to transform occupied, nonsovereign non-state territories into an occupied, nonsovereign state – permanently.

            What you, and most others, fail to realize is how important this is to Palestinians. People always talk about territory, Jerusalem and refugees, when in fact on all of these issues there has been basic agreement in principle in the past, although Jerusalem remains a thorny issue.
            But Israeli and foreign leaders have so far casually assumed that Palestinians would have no beef with their state’s sovereign right to defense permanently being denied. Wrong:

            Demilitarization is a non-starter, which is why – to please the colonialist feelings of the Western public – Palestinian leaders have talked of ‘limited arms’ instead (as if any Palestinian state could ever afford to be armed to the teeth as Israel is.)
            I suspect that the only leader who realizes this is Benjamin Netanyahu. That’s why he repeats the demilitarization demand all the time. No better way to torpedo the negotiations he allegedly wants so badly right from the start.

          8. Actually, there are Knesset members, even cabinet members, who want to limit the law of return, and have done so. I put some cites at the end. I didn’t put them up here because it is irrelevant to the issue of “right” of return. The law of return is a national law of Israel, not a right under international law. The Israelis can make whatever immigration laws they please. If they want to have a law of return, they can. If they want to eliminate it, they can do that too. If they wanted to let the Palestinians in, they could do that too, same as any other country.

            The law of return allows people to move to a country that wants them. The “right” of return is about forcing a country to accept immigrants that it doesn’t want, and who are hostile to most of the current population.

            Your question is equivalent to “He willingly gave $100 to his kids, so why should I go to jail for stealing $80 from him”?

            Setting your own immigration policy comes with being a sovereign country. Once the Palestinians have a country (if they ever get one), they will be free to implement a law of return for all Palestinians, to that country, not to some other country.

            Your proposed solution includes the Palestinians agreeing to a limit on the right of return. Though I am not sure what the details of your proposed limits are.

            Therefore, to evaluate the viability of your solution, we need to know whether the Palestinians will give up their claims to an unlimited “right” of return to Israel in exchange for peace.

            If they will, then your proposal may be a viable solution. If they won’t, then your proposal would not be viable.

            That makes the Palestinian leader’s statements on the “right” of return relevant.

            Other than as a “you first” delaying tactic, the law of return is not relevant to the peace process.

            If you don’t know of a single Palestinian leader who has said they would agree to any limit on the right of return, wouldn’t it be more honest to just admit that rather than bringing up an irrelevant national law?

            This is exactly the kind of thing I am talking about. If you shut out the arguments of people on the other side, the holes in your theories and arguments never get patched.. In this case, by only listening to people who take it on faith that the Palestinians will agree to a limit the right of return, you find yourself in a position of trying to cover a giant hole in your proposal (the question of whether the Palestinians would accept it) with a non-sequitur.

            However, if it will move things along:

            Proposal to limit citizenship under the law of return from all Jews to only Jews who are (among other limits) proficient in Hebrew.

            “Certain Israeli leaders, such as Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the fervently Orthodox Shas Party, and Chief Rabbis Yisrael Meir Lau and Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, want to strike the grandfather clause and limit the Law of Return to halachic Jews.”

          9. Actually, there are Knesset members, even cabinet members, who want to limit the law of return, and have done so.

            No, they haven’t done so. They’ve PROPOSED doing so, which is vastly different.

            The pt about the law of return vs. the right of return is that they both collide w. ea. other & both serve the same purposes for their respective national movements. So if Israel truly wants a compromise w. the Palestinians it will have to limit the law of return so that a Jew may not immediately become a citizen just by declaring an intent to do so. Similary, Palestinians will have to accept a certain set of nuances & compromises in how the Right of Return is implemented. If both sides don’t give on this then they’re assured of mutually assured destruction. Which is why they will & should compromise.

            This has very little to do with immigration policy. After all, there are two peoples fighting over the same land & they both have legitimate claims to it. The Palestinians by some legitimate definitions have even more right to return than Jews do to make aliyah. Israel will have to accomodate the interests of the Palestinians into their own national considerations simply because the Palestinians are part of the Israeli polity whether it wants them to be or not. The world will have it no other way. And no amt. of sophistry on yr part will change that.

            we need to know whether the Palestinians will give up their claims to an unlimited “right” of return to Israel in exchange for peace.

            Stop repeating yrself. I’ll just repeat myself: when the Palestinians hear fr. Israeli leaders that they are willing to limit the law of return then I’m sure Palestinians leaders will be forthcoming on the right of return. Till then, don’t expect anything. And don’t repeat yrself or this argument again. Once I’ve heard an argument once I don’t need to hear it repeated.

            the law of return is not relevant to the peace process.

            Not to a patently self-interested advocate of Israel’s interests it isn’t. But to Palestinians, w. whom you will actually need to make peace, it is terribly relevant. So unless you’re going to play w. yrself & make peace w. yrself I’m afraid you’ll have to take the ideas & interests of the Palestinians into account. If you don’t, then Israel & possibly the Palestinians w. them will be destroyed eventually.

            If you shut out the arguments of people on the other side, the holes in your theories and arguments never get patched

            It is YOU who is shutting out the views and legitimate interests of the Palestinians. I know what the views are of Israelis whose views I oppose. I’m not shutting them out. I understand them & disagree w. them.

            Let’s get off this subject. You’ve done it to death. Carry on in another thread if you like. But no more here.

          10. @Koshiro

            Very good points.

            As to Jerusalem, which you didn’t mention in your previous terms. It was offered to Yassir Arafat in a deal he rejected, with no counter-proposal. I doubt Netanyahu would give it up, any more than Obama would give half of Washington DC to the descendants of Native Americans. But it’s possible, if the rest of the terms are reasonable.

            As to a fully sovereign Palestinian state. You didn’t say when. If you mean instantly, then maybe, maybe not, depending on terms and agreements. In the long run, almost certainly. Israel doesn’t want a fully sovereign Palestine right away for the same reason that the Allies didn’t give Germany and Japan full sovereignty right away. What’s the point of letting someone you have been fighting just instantly rearm? If you disarm someone who just tried to stab you to death, you don’t give him his knife back right away.

            Once they demonstrated that they could be trusted, Germany and Japan got their sovereignty back (well, West Germany anyway). Palestine would too (if they proved trustworthy).

            For an actual permanent peace agreement, a temporary presence of (non-Turkish) NATO troops would probably be acceptable.

            A limited number of refugees and aid for other Palestinians was offered to Arafat. Any limits were deemed unacceptable.

            As to the “if he doesn’t”. As Obama learned, don’t make statements you can’t back up. There is no way the U.S. is going to cut off military aid to the Israelis. The military industries of the countries are too entwined, we get too much intelligence from the Israelis, and they buy too much of our military production for that to happen. Companies that the U.S. needs for making its weapons would go bankrupt or have to be bailed out. The U.S. would lose access to testing facilities that it uses in Israel, etc.

            The E.U. might be willing to dissolve trading relations, but then again, they might not. Money tends to trump principles (bad principles as well as good ones).

            Israel could probably survive both. It can’t survive an unlimited right of return, which is a non-negotiable point for the Palestinians.

            So what happens to your “or else” if Netanyahu says “I’ll accept if the Palestinians agree to no more than 10,000 refugees a year for 5 years, they permanently give up the right of return for everyone else, agree to a permanent peace, not a hudna, and the deal goes into effect one year after they turn their propaganda machine from “right of return and Tel Aviv is a Palestinian port city” to “separate countries, we get ours, Israel gets theirs, and we don’t get Israel, ever” and stop all terrorist attacks for the last 6 months of that year to prove that they can be trusted not to attack Israel after the deal.

            I can tell you what would happen. The Palestinians would say “no deal” and their supporters would blame Israel.

          11. Bob, going back to what Arafat was and was not willing to accept is not entirely helpful. Polling (I’ve already cited recent data in this thread) shows that Palestinian and Israeli attitudes (even on things like right of return) are evolving and clearly capable of being put on the table now by either side. That would not have been so even two or three years ago.

          12. “As to Jerusalem, which you didn’t mention in your previous terms. It was offered to Yassir Arafat in a deal he rejected, with no counter-proposal.”
            Cherrypicking single elements from so-called ‘generous offers’ and asking how the dumb Palestinians could refuse the deal is a cheap old propaganda tick which won’t work on me, Sonny – even assuming there actually was such an offer, which I have serious doubts about.
            And of course it was mentioned before. 1967 lines, remember?

            “I doubt Netanyahu would give it up, any more than Obama would give half of Washington DC to the descendants of Native Americans.”
            If half of Washington DC’s population was American Natives and that half wanted to form their own separately administered community, there is no way it would not happen. Especially with all American Natives having US citizenship.
            False comparisons won’t work on me either, dude.

            “As to a fully sovereign Palestinian state. You didn’t say when.”
            As soon as feasible. An international force would handle security and border control for a transitionary period, say about 5 years.

            “Israel doesn’t want a fully sovereign Palestine right away for the same reason that the Allies didn’t give Germany and Japan full sovereignty right away.”
            They started a worldwide war killing 60,000,000 people? For which they were under occupation less than 10 years, while for the Palestinians it’s now 43? What did I just say about false comparisons?

            “A limited number of refugees and aid for other Palestinians was offered to Arafat.”
            Yeah, how about offers made by people who are not dead? In the most recent negotiations, the Palestinian side proposed for Israel to take 150,000 refugees. But more importantly, they asked Israel to acknowledge responsibility for the problem.

            “The military industries of the countries are too entwined, we get too much intelligence from the Israelis, and they buy too much of our military production for that to happen. Companies that the U.S. needs for making its weapons would go bankrupt or have to be bailed out.”
            Right. Because if the US just took the billions of dollars it gives to the Israel military to buy US weapons to buy weapons for… gee… I dunno…. the US military, the money would not go to US manufacturers all the same. Oh wait! It would!

            Israel could probably survive both. It can’t survive an unlimited right of return, which is a non-negotiable point for the Palestinians.

            “So what happens to your “or else” if Netanyahu says”
            Oh, conditions which any lunatic with a hand grenade or a printing press can void. How original.
            How about this: These conditions are voided unless Israel formally renounces all claims on “Eretz Israel” and suppresses all propaganda by Israeli factions which claims any land beyond the agreed borders?

            No, I’m not serious about this. It’s not me who’s in the business of trying to find obstacles for a pragmatic solution on purpose. That’s Netanyahu’s game and apparently yours as well.

          13. @Richard

            We aren’t talking about clashing national aspirations, we are talking about a proposed deal. Like any proposed deal, it has to be acceptable to both sides, or no deal will be made.

            Since the law of return applies to Israel, not Palestine, limiting the law of return, or not, has no practical effect on the Palestinians.

            It’s a non sequitur. The only reason to make that a demand is to have a reason to blame the Israelis for not agreeing to the deal.

            But I’ll tell you what, let’s make it nice and reciprocal. The Palestinians get no right of return to Israel, and the Israelis get no right of return to Palestine.

            As for “they will say it when the Israelis agree to limit the law of return”. And you are accusing me of sophistry? They haven’t said “we will agree to a limited right of return to Israel if the Israelis agree to X”. They have said “we will never agree to any limit on the right of return”. They have also said “no Palestinian leader has the authority to agree to any limit on the right of return”.

            “to Palestinians, w. whom you will actually need to make peace, it [law of return] is terribly relevant.”

            I think you are mistaken about it being relevant. I’ve never heard a Palestinian use it as anything but a flawed analogy. “You won’t let me in, so I object to you letting your invited guests in”.

            The right of return, or lack thereof is relevant to both sides Israel because it affects Israel, the Palestinians because it affects the Palestinian people. The law of return is relevant to Israel, because if affects Israel. It is not relevant to the Palestinians because the Palestinians will have no interest in Israel after any peace deal Israel would agree to.

            The only possible reason that the law of return to Israel would be relevant to the Palestinians is if they think they are going to get Israel and don’t want more Jews moving into the land that will be theirs.

            Otherwise, what does it matter? The U.S. doesn’t care about the immigration policy of Canada.

            “So unless you’re going to play w. yrself & make peace w. yrself I’m afraid you’ll have to take the ideas & interests of the Palestinians into account. If you don’t, then Israel & possibly the Palestinians w. them will be destroyed eventually.”

            Well, you see you are the one arguing that a peace deal is possible. I would very much like to see a peace deal and a peaceful and independent Palestinian Palestine alongside a peaceful and independent, predominantly Jewish Israel. But it isn’t going to happen, because the Palestinians and their supporters will blow their opportunity over the right of return, which they will never get.

            It is because I would like there to be peace that I am trying to plant a seed of realism among the fantasists who tell the Palestinians “you can have the right of return”.

            If the Palestinians go into this with the delusion that an unlimited right of return is a possibility, then they will miss yet another opportunity for a Palestinian State.

            “It is YOU who is shutting out the views and legitimate interests of the Palestinians. I know what the views are of Israelis whose views I oppose. I’m not shutting them out. I understand them & disagree w. them.”

            Not at all. I completely understand the views and interests of the Palestinians with respect to the right of return, I don’t think they are legitimate, but I understand that they do.

            Understanding their position does not mean I have to change my position to take their interests into account. Nor does Israel. Israel would like a peace deal, but it can live without one.

            If you want to sell a widget for no less than $10,000, I am capable of understanding that you think it is worth no less than $10,000. If someone else wants to buy a widget for no more than $5000, I am capable of understanding that he thinks it is worth no more than $5000. Which one is right? Well, that depends on value judgments. If you want to know whether an offer is fair, you have to specify under what value system. It can’t be answered objectively.

            There is no objective way of determining whether a proposed deal is fair because the two sides don’t agree on what constitutes fair.

            What you can figure out objectively is whether a particular proposal is acceptable to both sides, one side, or neither sides. In the above scenario $7000 would be unacceptable to both sides. Any amount would be unacceptable to at least one side, therefore there is no deal to be made at this time. Maybe later the buyer will get richer or the seller will drop his price, but until that happens, there will be no deal.

            You almost hit the nail on the head when you said:

            “The Palestinians by some legitimate definitions have even more right to return than Jews do to make aliyah.”

            So pick the definition, and you pick who is right. One can argue about whether definitions fit the way countries actually work. E.g., show me one instance where the three and four generations removed descendants of refugees (1) were granted the right to move back to a country and kick off people living on individual parcels of land that their ancestors owned before being kicked out when (2) the government of that country didn’t want to let them.

            One can argue about whether things should work that way (a real time waster, since there are no objective facts to wash away bad theories).

            But as a practical question “can there be a deal?” has a threshold question “is there a set of terms acceptable to both sides?”. If there is a set of terms acceptable to both sides, and you can find them, then questions of trust and verification come up.

            Asking whether an offer is fair by one standard or another isn’t going to get you anywhere. The only reason to ask it is to lay blame when a deal can’t be made.

            Which brings us back to your proposed terms and the questions you keep dodging. What limits do you propose on the right of return, and what evidence do you have that the Palestinians would accept any limits?

            I just noticed your “carry on on another thread” message. If I find an appropriate one I’ll post there too.

          14. @editorsteve

            Thank you. That is useful and hopeful information. The fact that most of them reject any deal in which they don’t get all of Jerusalem, not so hopeful.

            Now, as long as the Palestinian leaders who make the deal are willing to be assassinated by the 49% who rejected a limited right of return, maybe there could be a deal.

            Then again, maybe they just misunderstood the question. It said the number of refugees allowed into Israel would be “based on the average number of refugees admitted to third countries like Australia, Canada, Europe, and others.”

            Well “based on” could mean “as many as” or “as high a percentage as” are admitted to third countries. It could also mean “everyone, minus the number admitted to third countries”.

            Seriously, if you are going to go to the time and trouble to conduct a poll, why make the questions so ambiguous?

      2. If the majority of Palestinians accept a two state solution, that’s good enough for me. I think they’re the ones who have the right to decide that, though of course they are also the ones with the least power to decide their own treatment.

        As for this

        “The settlers will never be forcibly removed. It would be an injustice to the individuals that reside there.”

        That’s two separate statements. That the settlers will never be removed is possibly correct, but that it would be an injustice is largely incorrect. It’s interesting how you become such a moral absolutist when the rights of Israeli land thieves are involved. If Israelis have an absolute moral right to come into occupied Palestinian territory and establish homes, should there then be a reciprocity, where Palestinians are allowed to come inside the 67 lines, force some Israelis off choice bits of real estate, and build there?
        It seems strange to invoke a kind of morality where only the side with power can benefit.

        1. This side, that side; what difference does it make? In the end, this question should have no sides. It’s a condition that affects us all, one way or another. When ALL of us see that as the real situation, only then will we be moved to act in concert against it.

          Of course, the difficulty is how to give direction and impetus to such a movement. It’s no good rallying the troops for this cause or that without having some unifying purpose in mind, a single concept capable of sustaining itself throughout the many twists and turns its passage through so turbulent a conflict must entail. That has always been the problem in the past; too many variables to consider, too much going on for any clarity of vision, too divisive for collective decisions to be reached or held with any certainty.

          In that case, let’s not have any decisions – except those arising from letting matters take their own course. Thus, all manner of bias, favouritism, political agendas, aspirations of national pride, religious fervour, intolerance and downright intransigence are removed from the scene as if by magic.

          Or has all the magic long gone, taking with it whatever salvation here might have been?


          Maybe there’s still some left.

  11. I agree with Richard on the pessimism, although I have reason to believe (from third-hand sources who seem to know what Mitchell is up to and because his staffers have clammed up more than usual) that there has been more progress and more pressure than is publicly known. It also explains why Bibi and so many members of Bibi’s cabinet have done things in the past year designed to make the talks even less likely — they may be running scared.

  12. After Germany capitulated in 1945 (I was 17 then) the city of Amsterdam where I lived became a leave center for allied soldiers. Among the British soldiers were members of the Jewish Brigade. My sister started dating one of them. One day he told me that he could smuggle me into the British Mandate of Palestine. When I asked him “what for?”. “After the British have left we will kick the Arabs out too” was his answer. I declined.
    Given this experience I have not the foggiest idea what Ronen talks about. “Kicking the Arabs out” was a fundamental ingredient in the formation of the State of Israel.

  13. The drum has become the symbol of the protests at Sheikh Jarrah, and the drum was also used to drum out the sounds of human sacrifice in the Valley of Hinnom (which begins around Sheikh Jarrah). While it is fine and good to protest the zionist expropriation at Sheikh Jarrah, one must use this opportunity to explore the entire zionist theft of Palestine. Otherwise this is a feelgood exercise that is akin to the worship of a false god

  14. This is from the joint Palestinian/Israeli press release on the latest poll (June 2010) on Palestinian and Israeli attitudes:

    “Among Palestinians, 48% support and 49% oppose a refugee settlement in which both sides agree that the solution will be based on UN resolutions 194 and 242. The refugees would be given five choices for permanent residency. These are: the Palestinian state and the Israeli areas transferred to the Palestinian state in the territorial exchange mentioned above; no restrictions would be imposed on refugee return to these two areas. Residency in the other three areas (in host countries, third countries, and Israel) would be subject to the decision of these states. As a base for its decision Israel will consider the average number of refugees admitted to third countries like Australia, Canada, Europe, and others. All refugees would be entitled to compensation for their “refugeehood” and loss of property. In August 2009, 37% agreed with an identical compromise while 61% opposed it.
    Among Israelis 37% support such an arrangement and 50% oppose it. In August 2009, 36% supported it and 58% opposed.”

    The complete poll is at http://www.pcpsr.org/index.html

    I’ve reviewed polling data from the region in the past, but had nothing to do with this particular poll. Sampling error tends to make the confidence interval bigger than one would calculate from the number being polled, but these results should be good to at least +/- 6%, 95% of the time.

  15. This is definitely one of the best comment threads I have read at Tikun Olam.

    Let me address Ronen’s “the Palestinians left of their own accord” argument from a somewhat different perspective.

    Let’s suppose that you live in New Orleans, and it’s August, and a Category 5 hurricane is bearing down on Louisiana. Governor Jindal orders you to evacuate, and you do so. While you are gone, a squatter who did not evacuate breaks into your home. According to Ronen’s argument, the squatter should be able to permanently displace you from your home.

    “Finder’s Keepers” DOES NOT APPLY in either case.

  16. It is not the legality of the Israeli occupation that is in question. It’s how best to engineer its termination that causes the quandary.

    Your analogy is entirely correct as far as it goes but if the squatters have been requested to leave but have since become convinced that, in that leaving, they will then be exposed to all manner of mortal dangers, what then?

    It’s not so much a judgement but a process that must be found. Otherwise the whole matter is without any satisfactory resolution. Or, if there is resolution, it stands a good chance of being a very messy affair indeed.

    What to do? If only life were so much simpler than it is. But, if it were, there would be no challenges left for the human race to face? And, without such challenges, life would be reduced to mere existence – and we don’t want that, do we?

  17. I call on each of you to put a statement on this thread endorsing BDS. That way we will all know who supports the racism of zionism

  18. I would endorse BDS if I felt it would do any good. Of course, the feeling that something has to be done is quite understandable. Maybe, in the very long term, it could have the desired effect but, in the meantime, the conflict seems set to drag on and on, maintaining itself in being for far longer than I, or indeed any of us, would care to have it so.

    I look at the situation this way. As an engineer, I know that applying 24volts dc to a 24volt dc relay will be more than sufficient to activate that relay which, in turn, might go on to do something else in a circuit. Applying 23v, 22v or even 20v might also be enough but any further lowering of the voltage makes the process much more uncertain.
    Go as low as 12 volts and there is no chance that the relay will switch at all.

    Similarly, BDS will only work if the full or nearly full backing of everyone concerned is applied to the task. Even so, I wouldn’t advise anyone to hold their breath waiting for the Israelis to cave in. With a less than universal endorsement of BDS, the matter stands little chance of success, certainly none in the short-term. It’s a siege weapon, a type of warfare reminiscent of the Middle Ages, somewhat at odds with today’s world where a much faster response and better results are expected.

    A case in point, the BP oil spillage episode. When that shit hit the fan, they spend the money, they invested the time and resources, they got the job done and as quickly as possible, no matter what it took.

    How much more so should that read with this disaster, a 60 year old spillage that is, even now, still contaminating all the surrounding area.

    Now this would definitely close down any product line, telling both Israelis and the Palestinians and anyone else who cares to listen that we’re not buying what they’re selling any more.
    Something way beyond BDS, only far, far more cost effective.

  19. Richard says “if Israel truly wants a compromise w. the Palestinians it will have to limit the law of return so that a Jew may not immediately become a citizen just by declaring an intent to do so. Similary, Palestinians will have to accept a certain set of nuances & compromises in how the Right of Return is implemented.”

    I realize the current symbolism. But would it really make a difference in the long term, at least in a true two-state solution? There was a huge influx of Jews into Israel after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but in-migration has slowed to a trickle and there does not seem to be another large group of Jews anywhere in the world to duplicate that phenomenon of the 1990s.

    Similarly, Palestinians have always been welcomed as cheap labor. Security concerns have been the issue but in the long term, if a true peace took hold, the Israelis would be concerned only if so many Palestinians came in permanently that Israel would not be a Jewish-majority state… and that seems unlikely well into the future — 100 years or more,

    Would there be enough space in Israel for, say, a doubling of the population to 15 million or more? Absolutely, as long as they don’t intend to farm!

    Land just doesn’t have the economic importance in the region it did 60 years ago. The importance is symbolic/religious, perhaps, but that is a different issue I think.

    1. Land just doesn’t have the economic importance in the region it did 60 years ago.

      Not sure quite what you mean by that. But in general I assure you that land has a huge significance on both sides. Control of land & resources is the biggest obstacle to peace.

      But I do agree that eventually who settles where will be less important. But for the foreseeable future it is very important.

      1. Just to be clear, the area was mainly agricultural (3/4 of the jobs, half the GDP) in 1950. Agriculture is far less important now, even in the West Bank. The West Bank was and is where most of the agriculture happens — it is where most of the water is. And also, to be clear, most* Israeli West Bank settlements have to go. They are not only illegal (Geneva Convention does not allow settlement of land taken by force, without a final peace agreement; that goes for small pieces of Jerusalem taken by the Arabs in 1948 and much larger chunks of territory taken by Jews at the same time, no matter why civilians might have left in the first place), but also use enormous amounts of water.

        (*I say “most” because everything is open to negotiation and it is true that the Geneva conventions that are most relevant were being formulated at about the time of the 1948 war.)

        Mitchell’s staff wants a just peace, because only a just peace will be a lasting peace. I hear details because some friends and sources at the UN and in DC actually complain about Mitchell’s approach — that it is idealistic, takes too long, may not be possible, there may not be enough money available to grease the way right now, and so forth.

        But the polling data I referenced earlier strongly suggest that Palestinians outside Gaza are ready (no real data for Gaza) — and that Abbas thus has more negotiating room than he had a year ago. The Israelis are less ready but Israeli opinions tend to be more volatile (that is, they change more from year to year) and the Israeli government is in a stronger position to lead if it wants to (which, right now, it does NOT want to do, obviously).

        This is a great discussion thread but I still come back to the notion that right now is a pretty good time to negotiate — not a great time, but the best time in years.

      2. Land is the one constant in this entire business. And it will remain so no matter what category it comes under.
        Religions may differ; customs, food, attitudes to life, death and so forth may not coincide but land is always perceived in the same way, with the same fierce attachment it generates and the need to have dominion over some portion of it, be that portion ever so small. In essence, the territorial imperative binds us all to its yoke in some degree or other.

        That is why I have always advocated a solution based on land. It’s the only thing big enough to resolve the main issue, an issue brought into being by those in dispute over land. All other methods, although quite legitimate in themselves, are the equivalent of ‘straining out a gnat while, at the same time, devouring a camel;’ concentrating on sweating the small stuff while failing to sufficiently stress this one massively important item. Appeals to conscience, morality, humanity, history, fair play, demographics and a whole host of other criteria are all well and good.
        But do they get the job done?

        Sixty and more years of contention in this matter would seem to indicate otherwise.

  20. I pray these peace talks do not fail.. I pray all these men involved have an awakening and can find a reasonable agreement for both sides. I believe that these men are capable of making great decisions if they let your ego go. Sometimes someone has to be the bigger person. There is enough arguing and hatred in the world, a think an peace anywhere can be a great thing. I just question the motives of others for their hand out reaching to another……..

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