Monday, September 16, 2013

Lustick's Farwell To Israel: "An Outdated Idea"

By the time I have got around to contemplating a detailed fisking post on my friend Ian Lustick's New York Times' piece on Israel's Zionist ethos - "the stifling reign of an outdated idea" - many have preceded me.

I last related to his view on demography here (and see here, too).

Back in March, he had published in the LA Times:

Israel needs a new map on the suggestion that an "outmoded Zionism has become an obstacle to Jewish welfare and security". He wrote then:
...But Israel's image has suffered more from repeated outrages to the world's sense of fairness than from bad public relations.  Israeli leaders have repeatedly threatened to attack Iran, a signatory to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, for developing nuclear technology with weapons potential, even as they refuse to join the NPT or acknowledge Israel's own immense nuclear force. Israeli governments have launched several onslaughts against the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, inflicting collateral damage to innocents that has hugely exceeded Israeli casualties. 

That is so out-of-proportion itself.

And he summed up:

Zionism proposed a Jewish state in Palestine as a solution to the great crisis of European Jewry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Jewish state would protect a beleaguered people, end anti-Semitism and provide modern expression for Jewish nationalism. More than a century later, Israeli leaders, whether they believe in it or not, still invoke Zionism to justify their policies and to reject criticism. But the assumptions and beliefs that were an effective basis for policy a century ago are outlandish now.

Just consider: Theodor Herzl's Zionism began with the assumption that the homelessness of the Jews was a vital problem for the international community, which would impose a Jewish state on resisting Arabs to solve it. Early Zionists imagined building a modern secular democracy, a rampart of Western civilization against a barbarian east sunk in backward religious ideas. Eventually, it was expected, the region would modernize, becoming like Israel, and accepting of and even grateful for its presence. It was assumed as well that in a Jewish state, Jews would be protected against threats to their existence.

The iron grip of this outmoded ideology is why Israel seems so out of step with the times.

So, now we turn to today's piece.

Elder of Ziyon posted:

Ian Lustick's science fiction in the New York Times:-

Palestinian Arab insistence on a capital in Jerusalem, on the 1949 armistice lines and on the "return" of millions of Arabs into Israel are  "key political requirements." Israeli insistence on an undivided Jerusalem, defensible borders and a Jewish state are "maximizing Israeli prerogatives."...

...Every one of Lustick's  scenarios betrays either a remarkable ability to write speculative fiction or a remarkable blindness to the Arab, Muslim, Zionist and Jewish psyches, all at once.

And so it goes. An extremist position to dismantle Israel and eventually replace it with another Arab state (albeit with a large Jewish minority), spiced up with wishful thinking of a bizarre utopian fantasy where Jew-hatred is not an inherent part of the Arab and Muslim mindset so the resultant state will treat Jews as honored citizens with equal rights, is published in the New York Times.

The fantasy fiction of Ian Lustick will be discussed over brunch this morning in New York and Washington as if it makes all the sense in the world.


Legal Insurrection posted David Gerstman's:


Blaming Zionism for lack of two-state solution all that’s fit to print at NY Times


...what makes his op-ed so offensive is that Lustick identifies the main obstacle to a two state solution and peace in the Middle East is Jewish nationalism, Zionism. Now of course, in the first paragraph he identifies the true problem without acknowledging it. It is the corruption of the Palestinian Authority that makes peace impossible...It’s also important to note one player whom Lustick, left out of his analysis: Hamas [but read this]... Lustick is a post-Zionist. Lustick believes that Zionism – in other words, Israel – is the biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

Jonathan Tobin published;

Two States and the Anti-Zionist Illusion

...In 2000, 2001, and 2008, Israel offered the Palestinians a state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza, and a share of Jerusalem and was turned down every time. Lustick found no space to mention this fact in his article, just as he failed to mention what happened in 2005 when Israel withdrew every last soldier, settler, and settlement from Gaza, a concession that only led to the area being converted into a terrorist launching pad rather than an experiment in peace and nation building. Even the moderate Palestinians that are supposedly Israel’s negotiating partners continue to use their broadcast and print media as well as their educational system to foment hatred of Israel, laud terrorism, and to make it clear their goal is not two states living in peace alongside each other, but the extinction of the Jewish state.

Such inconvenient details don’t make it into Lustick’s narrative because they undermine his basic premise that it is Israel’s settlement policy that makes peace impossible...[we know] just how dishonest Lustick’s vision of a post-Zionist Middle East is. The professor claims Israel’s collapse will lead to an alliance between secular Palestinians and post-Zionist Jews (those Haaretz columnists) and others to build a secular democracy...He also posits an alliance between anti-Zionist Haredim and Islamists. He claims Jews who want to live in the West Bank can be accommodated in the post-Zionist world. All this is nonsense.

...The problem with Lustick’s anti-Zionism is not just that it is built on such blatantly misleading proposals. It is that his determination to ignore the nature of Palestinian intolerance for Jews causes him not only to misunderstand why peace efforts have failed but also to be blind to the certainty that the end of Israel would lead to bloodshed and horror.
[on his views on Jerusalem, read here]

What is there left for me?

This part:

It was clear to me that Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s government was systematically using tangled talks over how to conduct negotiations as camouflage for de facto annexation of the West Bank via intensive settlement construction, land expropriation and encouragement of “voluntary” Arab emigration.

Those "tangled talks" were the Arabs led by Arafat seeking not to commit themselves to any peace agreement.  They were provided all necessary means, backed by Sadat, but they refused to discuss autonomy.  I do not know that Begin was encouraging Arab emigration.

His whole personal role as a State Department analyzer - "on leave from Dartmouth at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. I was responsible for analyzing Israeli settlement and land expropriation policies in the West Bank and their implications" - was a failure:

One day I was summoned to the office of a high-ranking diplomat..."Are you,” he asked me, “personally so sure of your analysis that you are willing to destroy the only available chance for peace between Israelis and Palestinians?” His question gave me pause, but only briefly. “Yes, sir,” I answered, “I am.” 

I still am. Had America blown the whistle on destructive Israeli policies back then it might have greatly enhanced prospects for peace under a different leader. It could have prevented Mr. Begin’s narrow electoral victory in 1981 and brought a government to power that was ready to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians before the first or second intifada and before the construction of massive settlement complexes in the West Bank. We could have had an Oslo process a crucial decade earlier.

Odd.  My memory is that America has constantly been anti-settlement, and outspoken about it as a policy.  The Jewish right to live in our homeland has been termed "unhelpful" and an "obstacle" but our legal status is clear.  President Obama selectively uses "illegitimate", never "illegal".

In any case, "returning territory" or "evacuating settlements" really hasn't enabled peace.

It is really a shame that Lustick has adopted such a position, based on a wrong analysis.  And a post-dated one, as well.



HonestReporting thinks Lustick’s article "is a complicated piece of pseudo-academic speak. There is no disguising, however, the New York Times’ penchant for publishing op-eds that don’t just criticize Israeli policies or actions but strike at the very heart of Israel’s existence and identity as a Zionist and Jewish state."

The AJC’s David Harris asks why the "New York Times should give prominence to such an article at a time when Syria is imploding, Christians in the Middle East are being persecuted, unrest and violence continue in Iraq and Egypt, along with a multitude of problems afflicting the region."

Lustick’s piece is also torn apart in Commentary by Jonathan Marks.- 

"Lustick makes explicit the nihilism of the anti-Israeli left. He has no strong reason to believe that the bloodbath he wishes on the Israelis and Palestinians will have results favorable to either."

In The Algemeiner, Prof. Jerry Auerbach wrote of "Lustickland", adding "For someone like Professor Lustick, who claims to prefer “the world as it is,” a Palestinian state in Jordan and portions of its West Bank and a Jewish state in the Land of Israel would seem to meet his reality test quite nicely. That, to be sure, is not quite what he has in mind. But his call for “one mixed state” that erases Israel as a Jewish state is fantasy in the guise of realism"


And the letters in the NYTimes:

September 16, 2013
A Two-State Critic, and His Critics

To the Editor:

Never has the case been made more strongly, however inadvertently, for the necessity of the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than in Ian S. Lustick’s fantasy about the need to dump the idea (“Two-State Illusion,” Sunday Review, Sept. 15).

Anyone who cares about the Jewish people and takes into account both the wonderful aspects as well as the immense tragedies of Jewish history must shudder at Mr. Lustick’s willingness to dismiss the existence of the first independent Jewish state in 2,000 years. His argument about what will ensue after the abandonment of the goal of two states is a fancy version of a one-state solution that ends the concept of Jewish self-determination.

The founding of the modern state of Israel is a profound historical development. Its safety and survival must be nurtured and protected. Yes, the two-state solution is difficult to achieve, but it is the only one that provides opportunity for Palestinian self-determination without abandoning Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel.

Mr. Lustick’s essay ultimately reminds us of the need to get moving toward that goal. While there are some in Israel, too, who say there can be no two-state solution, the leadership and vast majority of its people see it as the only solution.

Unfortunately, Palestinians still have not made that leap primarily because they, like Mr. Lustick, do not place any value on a Jewish state. Indeed, some may conclude that giving up on two states may produce their old goal, the disappearance of Israel, without war, terrorism or boycott.

Deputy National Director
Anti-Defamation League
New York, Sept. 15, 2013

To the Editor:

Ian S. Lustick’s essay offers an illogical, unachievable agenda that does no favors either to Israelis or Palestinians.

Professor Lustick’s comparison of the Israeli-Palestinian situation to efforts by British colonialists to maintain control of Ireland, France’s colonial rule of Algeria and Communist rule in the Soviet Union is off-base. The point of the two-state solution is to end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory and to fulfill the Palestinian right to self-determination.

Likewise, the notion that Israelis whose families came from Arab countries would consider themselves Arabs is absurd. They managed to preserve their Jewish identity for 2,000 years in exile. Why would they give it up now? In any case, as Israelis of European origin increasingly marry with the children and grandchildren of families who came from Arab lands, the distinctions between the two are fast eroding.

The main problem with Professor Lustick’s analysis is that it is a recipe for permanent conflict. Both Israelis and Palestinians want to fulfill their national aspirations in their own country. Neither will be satisfied with less, and the two-state solution remains the only way to achieve that.

Vice President, Communications
J Street
Washington, Sept. 15, 2013

To the Editor:

Although “Two-State Illusion” argues against a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, most of the main historical analogies the writer cites demonstrate exactly the opposite outcome.

In the cases of Ireland, Algeria and the Soviet Union, solutions were created that allowed two (or more) states to exist: Ireland and Britain, Algeria and France, the former Soviet republics and Russia.

There is, however, one difference with the Israel-Palestine case. None of the other national movements were bent on the ultimate annihilation of the other state with which they were in conflict.

Even “illusions” can be inspiring and highly adaptive when, as in each of those historical examples, out of respect or simply self-interest, each party basically accepts the right of the other to exist.

Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 15, 2013

and what would be do or be without spiteful, illogical idiocies like this:

To the Editor:

Having had my eyes opened by three visits to Israel, I found Ian S. Lustick’s essay refreshingly clear and knowledgeable. Even now, the United States turns a blind eye while Israel continues expansions and brutal military tactics.

I believe that the whole point of decades of Israeli encroachment onto fertile areas of the West Bank and the imprisonment of Palestinians in Gaza has been to make a viable second state impossible. Mr. Lustick offers a realistic vision of the Mideast today.

San Francisco, Sept. 15, 2013

And one letter that didn't make it in:


Seldom have I read a crueler, more heartless prescription for the Israeli-Palestinian struggle than Ian Lustick’s condemnation of Israelis and Palestinians to enduring the horrible trials of the Irish under Great Britain and South African blacks under apartheid. If the two-state solution is illusory, what are we to make of Mr. Lustick’s fantasy that if Israelis and Palestinians are forced to endure mutual violence long enough in a single state that “anti-nationalist Orthodox Jews might find common cause with Muslim traditionalists,” bridging a huge abyss not only of political but religious animosity, and “Israelis whose families came from Arab countries might find new reasons to think of themselves not as ‘Eastern’, but as Arab”–when the way Jews were treated in those countries led them to be among the Israelis most hostile toward Arabs? Furthermore, secular Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank are already finding allies among secular (and liberal religious) Israelis–allies for a two-state solution. And if diplomacy has to give way to decades more of “blood and magic”–what are we to make of the successful diplomacy ending the strife in Northern Ireland? Why should the Israelis and Palestinians be denied the opportunity to attempt diplomacy once more in the quest for two states?

Perhaps the answer to these questions lies in Mr. Lustick’s comments about “post-Zionist” and “statist Zionism.” For him, Zionism would appear to be the main culprit, for which a two-state solution is but a scapegoat. For a two-state solution would preserve a Zionist state, run democratically by a Jewish majority–and Mr. Lustick wants to eliminate that possibility.  Not only to eliminate it, but to crucify it on a one-state platform of “ruthless oppression, mass mobilization, riots, brutality, terror, Jewish and Arab emigration and rising tides of international condemnation of Israel,” all of which would result in the withdrawal of American support.

It is easy to condemn a policy of supporting two states if the only state that currently exists is the one a person wishes to be destroyed. Mr. Lustick’s piece was well titled. It is an illusion to think he opposes a two state solution–it is the Zionist state that he opposes, and sets out a blueprint to destroy.

Rabbi Richard N. Levy

Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles

And now I've found this:

I knew Ian Lustick when we were students together at UC Berkeley in 1970-71. We were both part of a left-wing Zionist group on campus that published a newspaper called “The Jewish Radical.” Ian was a brilliant and charismatic graduate student in Political Science, as I recall, and he was a strong Zionist at that time.

What happened? I honestly do not know as we were only acquaintances and I have had no contact with him since. But, in reading his article, he has clearly changed and given up on the most extraordinary phenomenon in modern Jewish history, the restoration of the Jewish people in the historic homeland, the establishment of a Jewish state for the first time in 2000 years, and the dreams of Israel’s founders as expressed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

And Shmuel Rosner:

...Lustick wants a one state solution in his quest to 'avoid truly catastrophic change'. Alas, for most of us, ending Israel as a Jewish state is catastrophic. And if Israelis have to fight against such proposition they will fight the way people do when they battle catastrophic propositions.

That’s the basic problem with Lustick’s idea: he makes it seem like no more than painful yet manageable adjustments to new realities. And I’m sure for him it is. Not for us though. His recipe is one that won't lead to peace and stability but rather to war, bloodshed, and constant instability. Israelis and Palestinians have given us enough proof that they can fight with one another. Separating them isn’t easy, but it makes sense. Asking them to suddenly become partners sharing one state that both did not desire, one in which they will battle for political supremacy, is prescribing inevitable violence and terror for both sides.

I’m not sure why Lustick can’t see that, but his article suspiciously uses more than one manipulation in his attempt to make his unconvincing case seem inevitable. “Consider how quickly the Soviet, Pahlavi Iranian, apartheid South African, Baathist Iraqi and Yugoslavian states unraveled”, he writes...That Lustick might not see all these differences might not be surprising, considering the fact that he seems to know very little about Israel. In fact, the parts of his article which are the easiest to dismiss are those in which he demonstrates his total lack of familiarity with Israeli society. Take a look at these sentences, in which Lustick’s vision of the new Israel unfolds: “[S]ecular Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank could ally with Tel Aviv’s post-Zionists, non-Jewish Russian-speaking immigrants, foreign workers and global-village Israeli entrepreneurs. Anti-nationalist ultra-Orthodox Jews might find common cause with Muslim traditionalists”. Now read it again. Does it make any sense?...

And Martin Kramer:

Whatever the article’s intrinsic interest, it’s particularly fascinating as a case study in intellectual self-contradiction. For Lustick has reversed his supposedly well-considered, scientifically informed assessment of only a decade ago, without so much as a shrug of acknowledgement.



Anonymous said...

it's your own damn fault. Your (and your wife is actually MUCH worse) galut mentality keeps trying to define the State as a "Jewish" country. Well, that's inviting all the neuroses of the galut Jews into your tent.

Today's State of Israel is ===not=== a revival of the High Priesthood. It is a revival of the United Kingdom. The House of David was appointed in writing over the House of Israel. That is the ONLY source of legitimacy for the State of Israel. Every single rabbi in the world could fly to Mars tomorrow, and the State Bureaucracy would continue; the rabbis are NOT NEEDED. They are costumed stage hands.

"Torah Judaism" is an invitation to insurrection against the only legitimacy we possess!

Jerry Haber said...

"...In 2000, 2001, and 2008, Israel offered the Palestinians a state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza, and a share of Jerusalem and was turned down every time"

The Palestinians have never been offered a state,but the Israelis think they have offered them a state. I ask you candidly, Yisrael. Would David Ben Gurion have accepted a state in 23% of historical Land of Israel,in small discontinguous parts, connected by highways and tunnels, demilitarized, with no control over airspace, limited control over water resources, and a strong security presence of a strong Palestinian army (with nukes?) He wouldn't have considered that a state, and he would be right. The Zionist movement turned down better deals.

So isn't it time to put the "We offered them a state on almost all of the West Bank and Gaza" to rest? After all, if there was a state, and it elected Hamas to the parliament,wouldn't we feel that we had the right and the obligation to go in there and arrest their elected officials?

Why do the hasbaritas play this card? Why not just be honest and say that we can't offer them a state, and we will never offer them a state, because that would be fatal to our security. At best we can pretend to offer them a state to make us look good to goyyim who don't get it.

Even if Arafat had converted to Chabad,we could never be certain that he wouldn't be assassinated. So we can't do a deal with any of them,can we? Not for a real state.

It's the self delusion of folks like Tobin that bug me. When people use arguments like "95% of the Palestinians live in Area A" I say "100% of the area Jews lived in the Warsaw ghetto, and they had self-rule, not to mention political parties, cultural organizations, etc." Or it that's too much, consider that if Israel were to shrink to Gush Dan and West Jerusalem, and the settlers moved to there, at least 80% of the Jews would live under Israeli sovereignty. So that's supposed to prove something?

beniyyar said...

For two thousand years there have been important and influential people predicting the end of the Jewish People, and so now, the same sort of people are now predicting the demise of the modern Jewish state. Yet we Jews always confound them and continue to grow stronger while our detractors fall by the wayside. This Lustick fellow is not much different from our other detractors, he may be just a little more desperate because we Jews and Israel are going to be around for a long, long time!

Anonymous said...

I know the author of the one-state solution article and I can tell you he’s been pushing this drivel for at least 35 years. People in Israel don’t want to be turned into a repressive Sharia state from a flourishing country a model of prosperity and one of the highest world ratings of happiness.