Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Goldberg Misses It Again

One section from Jeffrey Goldberg's latest piece in the May issue of The Atlantic, "Unforgiven":-

Israel’s greatest military victory, in 1967, led to a squalid and seemingly endless occupation, and to the birth of a mystical, antidemocratic, and revanchist strain of Zionism, made manifest in the settlements of the West Bank. These settlements have undermined Israel’s international legitimacy and demoralized moderate Palestinians. The settlers exist far outside the Israeli political consensus, and their presence will likely help incite a third intifada. Yet the country seems unable to confront the settlements.


It is a clichĂ© for Middle East leaders to warn that time is running out, but today it seems that the possibility of a two-state solution is swiftly fading. Palestinian rejectionists and unbending Jewish settlement leaders are in harmony on this point. “It does not matter what the Jews do. We will not let them have peace,” Ibrahim Mudeiris, the imam of the Ijlin Mosque in Gaza, told me not long ago. We spoke after Friday prayers. The street outside the mosque was crowded with angry young men who had been excited by Mudeiris’s sermon, in which he identified Jews as “the sons of apes and pigs.”

“They can be nice to us or they can kill us, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “If we have a cease-fire with the Jews, it is only so that we can prepare ourselves for the final battle.”

For Palestinian radicals, the closing of the settlements would be a terrible blow. The smartest Palestinian strategists understand this. “The longer they stay out there, the more Israel will appear to the world to be essentially an apartheid state,” the former Palestinian Authority negotiator Michael Tarazi told me a few years ago. “The settlements mean that the egg is hopelessly scrambled. Basically, it is already one state.”

The hard-core settlers are as intransigent, and as patient, as their Palestinian counterparts. The mayor of Ariel, one of the West Bank’s largest Jewish towns, told me that time is on the side of the settlers. Ariel, which has a population of roughly 20,000, is southwest of Nablus, the largest Arab city in the West Bank. “We have to hold on for a few more years, at most,” Ron Nachman, the mayor, said. “Then the world will realize that the solution lies with Jordan.” Nachman, along with many other West Bank settler leaders, believes that the Palestinians of the West Bank should be made Jordanian citizens. The Palestinians don’t generally seek this. Nor do the Jordanians. But Nachman said that once the world realizes that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is eternal, it will come to view the “Jordanian option” as a plausible solution. “Trust me, no one is throwing us out of Ariel,” he said.

Okay, that was Goldberg's view (if you search this blog, you'll read my various run-ins with Jeffrey).

Now, let's get some other information to your attention:

Peace Index Poll: Israeli Jews: 47%:40% peace process" historic mistake, 23% favor Green Line as future border

Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann write,

This survey, too, found overwhelming support (68%) for the "two states for two peoples" solution (except among voters for the National Religious Party-National Union and Yisrael Beiteinu, where only a minority supports this solution). A similar rate also favors continuing the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. We also found, though, evidence of profound pessimism about the chances of reaching a real peace with the Palestinians. About three-quarters do not believe the negotiations will lead to an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, and an identical proportion says that even if an agreement is signed it will not, from the Palestinians' standpoint, end the historic conflict with Israel.

...It turns out, for instance, that in retrospect only among Meretz, Labor, and Kadima does a majority say the decision to launch the peace process at the beginning of the 1990s was correct. In the public overall, the number of those who think so (40%) is lower than the percentage of those who believe it was a mistake to enter the peace process that enabled the Oslo accords (47%). We found a similar mindset among those who say that if a peace treaty entails difficult concessions, it's preferable to remain in the existing situation (49%, with 43% preferring an agreement even
if its price is difficult concessions).

We were surprised to discover that even though, over the years, the concept of "occupation" has become more common both in the political discourse and the media, today a majority of the Jewish public defines the West Bank as "liberated territory" (55%) and not as "occupied territory" (32%). This may explain the new popularity of the position (57%) that the Green Line should not be considered the future border between Israel and the Palestinians, and that a new borderline should be established so that most of the settlements will be on the Israeli side and large Israeli Arab communities would move to the Palestinian side (only 23% of the Jewish public currently favors the Green Line as the future border; only among Meretz voters does a majority take the opposite view).

...if a peace agreement is signed on the basis of the two-states-for-twopeoples formula, the majority (65%) would want the border between the two states to be a closed one, without free passage from state to state. The desire for segregation of the two peoples also emerges in the broad opposition (75.5%) to the idea of a binational state as an alternative solution to the two-state formula.

Now, does Goldberg portray a true picture of Israel's mood?

1 comment:

Peter Drubetskoy said...

So what is it exactly in Goldberg quotes that your quote seems to contradict? The fact that ”the settlers exist far outside the Israeli political consensus”? This still is probably true (despite the majority of the Jewish public [that] defines the West Bank as "liberated territory"), because most Israelis would have had gladly gotten rid of the settlements and the territories if they thought that peace was possible. Unfortunately, it is precisely the settlements and the huge difficulty of getting rid of them that is one of the main obstacles to peace (though not the only). Palestinians always understood this, but Israelis were taken by surprise when they (the Pals) reacted to the accelerated settlement building and expansion during the “peace-process” years with dismay and a new intifada: it did not occur to the Israelis that the Palestinians saw this as the sure sign that they will never get a viable state. This, I think, was the main disconnect here. Israeli public thought it was doing everything all right and engaged in the process of reaching a permanent solution to the conflict, while on the ground some people did everything to undermine it. In that respect these can congratulate themselves in that their work definitely bore fruit, probably even beyond their own expectations. The Israelis, including the mainstream left, still not realizing what went wrong, decided that the Palestinians just are not able to make peace and so descended into the mood of gloom and hopelessness that is described in your quote: “if the Pals are these beasts that will fight us no matter what, why bother trying to make peace with them? Just put a huge wall between us and hope for the best.” In this mindset, the settlement actually turn from liability into asset: they allow to hold the territory indefinitely, take most of the brunt of the Palestinian rage and resistance and let most Israelis continue their lives as close to “as usual” as possible; that is, of course, if they don’t live in Shderot (or Ashkelon, very soon…) And even those that do realize that without removing the settlements there will be no peace (unless both the Pals and the settlers agree on an option similar to offered by de Gaulle to the French colonialists in Algeria, that is, the settlers stay and become Palestinian citizens) recoil at the idea just thinking of all the trouble that will follow: who wants a civil war in Israel when trying to reach peace with the Palestinians? Not surprisingly, the settlers and the right wing are building their deterrence on the threat of violence and simply get away with it, just like some backstreet bully. Talk about double standards…