Sunday, November 20, 2011

Goldberg on Gorenberg: From the West Bank to the West Side

In his NYTimes book review, Did Israel Actually Lose the 1967 War?, Jeffrey Goldberg comments of Gershom Gorenberg's thesis that in his new book, “The Unmaking of Israel”, he

argues, in essence, that Israel is losing the 1967 Six- Day War.

Goldberg, at the outset, lists

the many things that the diminutive but disproportionately interesting state of Israel is not. I do this in recognition of the fact that mere mention of Israel can send its critics into paroxysms of rhetorical excess seldom heard outside ESPN. So: Israel is not a fascist state, nor is it a theocracy nor, for that matter, is it a fascist theocracy. It is not an apartheid state, a totalitarian state or, God forbid, a Nazi state. It is, for its region in particular, a model of Western values, a country in possession of a robustly independent judiciary; a boisterous, appropriately unkempt press; a mature and activist civil society; and an assortment of fearless and effective human rights organizations.

not truly comprehending that Israel's critics from the progressie liberal camp cannot not only believe this but grasp it. It is an image outside their allowed or permitted framework of thought.

In any case, he notes that Gorenberg is

...a leftist Israeli journalist of American extraction [who] tells us that...the Israel of today is rampant with illiberal feeling. It is a place whose Arab citizens are at once enfranchised and isolated. It is a place whose military is coming to be dominated not by the secular, progressive-minded kibbutznikim of old, but by a right-wing Orthodox officer corps, some of whom may respect the idea of Jewish land more than they respect the decisions of the elected government. Mainly, it is a place being corrupted by an ostensibly temporary but in fact interminable occupation

As if.

Gorenberg does consider

...the issue of the Jewish settlements, which many Palestinians see as concrete proof of Israeli lack of interest in a two-state solution. It is an understandable Palestinian view, but the truth is more complicated.

That it surely is.

For example, Goldberg claims

...the majority of Israelis, if they ever loved the settlements, appear to love them no more...

Nope. Polls indicate that is a wrongheaded assumption, not to forget that the parties who have persistently gained the plurality of votes have bee pro-YESHA. Even the Labour Party was pro-Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and Gaza before.

On the issue of legality, Gorenberg illustrates the shallowness of the term:

Gorenberg cites, among other examples, that of the northern West Bank settlement of Ofra...which was established illegally, not only according to international law, but to Israeli law as well. “The relevant Israeli authorities have never approved a town plan for Ofra or defined its municipal area. Those are legal preconditions for issuing building permits in an Israeli settlement.”

Approval of a twon plan is an administrative and bureacratic matter making not an illegality but something not-yet-authorized since the government has shown over four decades not to be willing to act against the community and many others. This lack of negative action indicates an opinion that the residency is quite legal by Israeli law. International law has long ago decreed that Judea and Samaria are regions where "close settlement by Jews on the land" is to be facilitated.

As for Gorenberg's thinking, Goldberg is, I think, tweaking here:

No doubt most everyone on the Upper West Side of Manhattan would agree with his recommendations. Whether Israelis do, particularly in the current, besieged climate, is another thing entirely.

As for the matter of democracy, Goldberg relates of a visit in Hebron that

The Palestinians who live side by side with [the Jewish residents there] are not allowed a say in choosing the government that rules over them. Gorenberg’s book makes clear that this is a situation that cannot go on forever.

Well, they are lucky to be able to live there.

The "peace" the Pals. offer us means we can't live there at all.

That is democracy? Human rights? Civil liberties?

A "state of Palestine" can be allowed to ban Jews?

Goldberg is not even on the East Side on this one.


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