Barring 2-State Solution, Israel Becomes South Africa–Without South Africa’s ‘Solution’, Israeli Minister Warns

Shlomo Ben-Ami is a former Foreign Minister of Israel and a scholar. Today he spoke on the Upper East side to a crowded hall and said that if Israel does not come up with the general agreement envisioned at Annapolis within the next year, the two-state solution is "doomed." And what will result is "a binational state. In our situation it means a South Africa situation, without a South Africa solution."

I didn’t get to ask what this means. Presumably, Ben-Ami is saying Israelis will never give up the Jewish state to a mixed government of Jews and Palestinians, even with 5 million Palestinians living in that state. (I wonder whether South Africans made the same vows, back when.)

The Century Foundation and Israel Policy Forum sponsored the talk. IPF is the post-Oslo group of American Jews (mostly) who see a 2-state solution as urgent. Seated close to Ben-Ami at the head table were the Egyptian Ambassador to the U.N. and the Palestinians’ U.N. Observer. Both spoke eloquently. Praise Allah there are Jews who listen to Arabs in my country!

I heard a tremor of crisis in Ben-Ami’s voice. The question of the hour was: What is the role of the U.S.? Here too Ben-Ami broke ground. He said that some agreements, like the Quartet’s Road Map, which Israel committed itself to following, are mere "shelf agreements." He explained that this means that the Israelis sign agreements and put them on the shelf, with no intention of following through. Dov Weisglass, a former Sharon aide, once said that Israel will begin implementing the Road Map "when the Palestinians become Finns." I.e., Never.

Annapolis is going nowhere fast. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has told Ben-Ami that right now the discussions are purely "academic."

A couple weeks back Brent Scowcroft said to me that Israel is a "weak" state, and Ben-Ami echoed that in his way. He said that Israel’s government can be "dysfunctional." A large majority
of Israelis want a peace deal, they are willing to sacrifice the hard
right to that deal. Still, the Israeli government lacks the ability to move forward. Colonization (settlements) continue. Prime Minister Olmert told Ben-Ami that Barak had tried to broker a deal in which the illegal "outpost"
settlements would be dismantled while the existing settlements would be
expanded.  "The Prime Minister vetoed that, he told me personally." I guess he only wants to expand some settlements.

"But as far as the conditions on the ground, Israel is not being
excessively generous," Ben-Ami said.

Ben-Ami and IPF want Americans to put pressure on their government to apply equal pressure to Israel and the Palestinians. Condi Rice wants to make a deal, he said; he has talked to her. "She said… the president is not going to go to Israel more than one more time" in his administration. In May. That will be when he will apply pressure to both sides. His last shot.

So Condi Rice is the only one applying pressure to both sides right now? That’s what I took away from Ben-Ami’s talk. Is this  how a superpower behaves? Do we let Israel nullify our policy–the Road Map, Annapolis–by signing a "shelf deal" and simply ignoring the provisions? Why isn’t Barack Obama on this one? Or Hillary, who also blasts "special interests." 

The answer is that our politics are dysfunctional too. Look at John McCain’s craven statements in Israel today, blaming everything on Hamas–when even Ben-Ami says that Israel must talk to Hamas. Where is the evenhanded leadership by American politicians to help the Israelis and Palestinians out of their cycle of violence? The Israel lobby has turned out foreign policy into a panderfest.

The Egyptian ambassador Maged Abdelaziz was great on this score. "Extreme radicals in the Israeli government" have undermined the peace process by ensuring that Israel has given the Palestinians nothing in the 100 days since Annapolis. "If people say that Hamas is capable of sabotaging the peace by standing against all the forces of Annapolis–that is a farce, a camouflage of the true position of the Israeli radicals who are not interested in peace," he said. Checkpoints have increased, he said. There used to be 548, now there are 580 in the West Bank. The lockdown of Gaza, the continued closure of "institutions" in Jerusalem, the increase in colonization of the Palestinians’ 22 percent of Palestine….

Nothing will happen, Abdelaziz said, without "political will" in the U.S.

Yes and where is that will? Is Annapolis a "shelf agreement"? Do little countries boss us around? When will my country take up its own interests here with vigor?

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East

{ 34 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Shai says:

    It's a "shelf agreement" and "academic" NOT because Israel is unwilling to sign an agreement, and NOT because Israel is negotiating only to buy time (for what?), but because the PA can't or won't enforce its agreement in its territories. The solution to that is not to insist that Israel has no legitimate interests and therefore must meet every demand of the PA, it's to demand of the PA a negotiation stance that is amenable to bridging proposals.

    Further, you'll notice that Ben Ami called on "equal" pressure on the PA and on Israel. You keep acting as though pressure on Israel alone is all that's necessary, and the reason you are able to do this is you are blind to the fact that one hand can't clap.

    Lastly, the rightist forces being spoken of here are primarily Shas. Liberman is not a force any longer. Shas' power can be in some measure overcome if Meretz joins the government. And, if the Arab parties weren't so anti-Zionist, they probably would have been in many governments by now. The blame for the government's current inability to break out of the current mode is in the leftist parties' inability to compromise for a larger cause, even one they hold dear. But to blame this political constellation is tendentious, when you discover the root cause of Israel's political position. It is directly caused by the rejection of the assertion that Palestinians are willing to live side by side in peace with Jews under any condition that provides Jews with a level of security they deem minimally necessary. This rejection was caused by the result of the Gaza pullout. Instead of taking the land and resources and building a proto-state in Gaza, these were all used to attack Israel. Israelis aren't anxious to repeat this elsewhere, for reasons that are perfectly reasonable, but I don't see you giving even an ounce of concern to them.

    You want to force Israelis to overlook their security, or allow it to rest on "trust" in a PA (or for that matter, Egypt) that has proven time and again they can't be trusted in matters of security? Ya think they'll go along with that? Hmm.

  2. emanuel appel says:

    Dear Sir,

    Israel will be an Arab-free State, not South Africa.

    When the Arabs convince the majority of Israel that they neither will be pacified with a State of their own nor can they live with the idea that Israel won, they will be kicked out despite your wishes.

  3. David Habakkuk says:

    Philip Weiss:

    'Presumably, Ben-Ami is saying Israelis will never give up the Jewish state to a mixed government of Jews and Palestinians, even with 5 million Palestinians living in that state. (I wonder whether South Africans made the same vows, back when.)'

    I suspect that Ben-Ami is saying more than that — that Jews in Israel could not afford to give up the Jewish state and hope, like the South African whites, to retain a tolerable position.

    This is not an unreasonable position. In a cogent attack on American support for the Likudniks back in January, Gershom Gorenberg wrote:

    'Many moderate Palestinians who only recently supported a two-state solution are despairing of the possibility of partition and are talking about demanding political rights in a single state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. One reason for the Palestinian despair is that the Bush administration talks about two states, but has done close to nothing to push that program. A one-state "solution" means the end of Israel. The conflict between the two national groups within one state is likely to look more like Bosnia in the 1990s than Belgium today.'

    (See link to prospect.org.)

    I think Ben-Ami may be haunted by a nightmare that the time of the two-state solution may have passed, leaving Jews in Israel with no good options.

  4. emanuel appel says:

    Dear Habakkuk

    Only weaklings have nightmares.

    There are many scenarios but they all require a bit of guts and no fear of foreign opinion.

    1. Transfer the Arabs out into the West Bank and walk away.

    2. Transfer the arabs out to lebanon, Jordan or Syria. It was done before and it can be again. It just requires the will

  5. Richard Witty says:

    Ben Ami is right.

    Transfer is inhumane, theft, a mental paralysis, constructed on a fantasy.

    "Torah society" without the humaneness, fighting with "Sharia society" without the humaneness.

    Two shells fighting, pretending they are the nut.

  6. Richard Witty says:

    You are right about the importance of will though.

    It takes courage to make peace. It takes determination, not hedging on what one is about.

  7. Arie Brand says:

    Phil asked: "So Condi Rice is the only one applying pressure to both sides right now?"

    She might get a female competitor there,viz. the German Chnancellor Angela Merkel.

    Israel is far from popular in Germany, yet Merkel, in her recent visit to that country, seemed to be grovelling towards it in a manner no German chancellor has done before. What are her motives? The prestigious journal “Die Zeit” attempted to answer that question. Here is my translation:

    "The use of love

    Germany and Israel get closer together. That is, in the first place, useful for the Chancellor. Her visit in Tel Aviv reinforces her position in Europe.
    Let us start with a riddle. Why does the Chancellor fly for consultations to Israel, and well with half the cabinet? Only the usual suspects were given this privilege thus far: France, after that Poland and Russia, then Spain and Italy. But Israel? The project is all the more mysterious because she cannot get brownie points with it at home. A nationwide poll showed that the German people take, at best, a neutral attitude. Only 3 percent was clearly on the side of Israel, 91 percent wanted strict neutrality in the struggle for Palestine.

    Publicised opinion? Der Spiegel sets the tone with the charged title: “Unconditional closeness”, and asks, on behalf of many papers in the country, ”whether the close solidarity with Israel is of any use in the peace process”. Why doesn’t she also go to Ramallah, to the Palestinians? grumble the commentators.

    No, Israel is not popular, neither among the people nor in the media which mostly come up with critical, even disapproving comments. How unpopular is shown in a EU-wide poll of 2003 in which two thirds of the polled Germans declared that Israel was the greatest threat to world peace. Not Iran, not North Korea? There was no higher percentage anywhere in Europe.

    And yet says Foreign Minister Steinmeier: “There is no country with which we are allied so inseparably”. And yet the Chancellor has been traveling to Israel for the third time. Whilst Israel has learned to appreciate the grandchildren of the evildoers – Germany comes, on this score, only after Italy and France – does the ‘friendship’ (in Germany) remain only an elite project or, even less so, a governmental project, and of the Merkel government to be sure.”

    After a review of the stance various German governments took to Israel the journal concludes that Merkel’s present policy towards that country has to do with a balancing act. The former Chancellor, Schroder, was too near to Chirac, Putin and the Arab countries. The journal continues:

    “The result of her first semester balancing act showed her to be right. Bush loves her, Putin respects her, therefore she can criticize both. Berlin is again in the centre of Europe, respected by all and also, because of Merkel’s supple stubbornness, a little bit feared … And so we have arrived at the core which is overlooked by the “Why not Ramallah” brigade. When Merkel has Israel in one arm, she can grab the Palestinians with the other. Look, thus far Israel only trusted the USA, but now it also trusts me. The more solid the friendship, the more pressure it can tolerate. That is why you Palestinians should come with your concerns to Berlin. This act is called “The patron as broker” and Merkel has the direction and is in the footlights. Merkel already raised the curtain for the second act before the first, the trip to Israel. She wants to organize, still this summer, a conference about the Near East in Berlin. Of course not in competition with that of Annapolis, and also not with that of the ‘quartet’(USA, EU, UN, Russia). Only that the play will be produced in Berlin. She has already wangled a ‘yes’ out of her new friend Olmert, why would he resist when she honored him so generously in Jerusalem.? And so the love turns out to be, as ever in the life of nations, thorough ‘Realpolitik’ that has already shown its returns in the coinage of power”. Thus far “Die Zeit”.

    Though Israel is, as said, far from popular in Germany, Merkel obviously thinks that she cannot damage her electoral chances much by following this lovey dovey policy. This might change when, at the proposed conference in Berlin, Israel shows its usual obstinacy and unwillingness to do something substantial about the settlements.
    On the other hand when she, rather against expectations, achieves something substantial she can aspire to a bit of the position of that other would be 'honest broker' among German chancellors, Bismarck.

    Arie Brand

  8. Shai says:

    The two-state solution turning into a 1 state demand doesn't threaten me. It's more logical that that "one state" be an alliance between the PA and Jordan than it be one between the PA and Israel. Israel doesn't owe the Palestinians Israeli citizenship. THey were Jordanian citizens when the West Bank was won in the 1967 war, and that's the status they will return to if they don't negotiate a two-state solution.

  9. jim byers says:

    I heard Mr Ben-Ami in a discussion with Norman Finklestein when he said that Israel would have made peace with the palestinians long ago if it weren't for the jews in America. He also pointed out that Menachem Begin did not recognize that there is such a thing as palestinian people until it was "negotiated" at Camp David. I admire his point of view and wish it were more widely broadcast.

  10. qt says:

    "Menachem Begin did not recognize that there is such a thing as a palestinian people until it was 'negotiated' at Camp David."

    And juding by Shai's comments, it it looks like there's still people sharing Begin's view today.

  11. Shai says:

    Please, don't be so sanctimonious, qt. It makes no difference whether I think there's a "Palestinian People". All that matters is that the Palestinians think there is a Palestinian People.

    All I'm saying is that if there's a one-state solution, there's nothing logical about uniting the Palestinians with Israelis in a single state, and a lot that's logical about uniting them with an Arab state, and that would be Jordan. How they work out the confederacy is none of my business, and frankly it's not any of the USA's business. But one thing is for sure, there will be no one state solution with the Arab Palestinians being Israeli citizens.

  12. anon says:

    off topic: Of course the King of Spam (or the King of Porn, Sleaze, Spin, Graft, etc.) could have been anybody. But the probabilities were against it:

    "Of what i can gather, Soloway means Americanized form of Jewish (eastern Ashkenazic) Solovei, ornamental name or occupational nickname for a cantor in a synagogue, from Russian solovei nightingale.

    Robert Soloway's parents, Herb S Marc Soloway (67) and Rachelle D Soloway (59) live in Palm Desert, California USA."

    (file under "hostile elite")

  13. Saban made the election of Merkel possible by manipulating content on the German networks he purchased.

    "Bismarck, The Man and the Statesman," by AJP Taylor discusses Bismarck's role in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8 (p. 170)

    "War between Russia and Great Britain seemed imminent — a war in which Austria-Hungary was likely to be involved. Bismarck decided that he could no longer stand aside. He was indifferent to the fate of the Balkans; he could not be indifferent to the Balance of Power. Germany had nothing to gain from a general war, and much to lose; therefore she must act as peace-maker. On 19 February Bismarck announced in the Reichstag that Germany came forward not as arbitrator but 'as an honest broker'. Bleichroeder, Bismarck's man of business, commented: 'There are no honest brokers.' But in this case Bismarck was really concerned to settle the affair, not to earn a percentage. His action, far from being hostile to Russia, helped to save her from a disastrous war."

    Bismarck's Jewish Banker Bleichroeder understood the geopolitical situation far more than Taylor.

    Without a doubt Germany took a percentage.

    The ultimate result kept the British out, stymied the Russians, and moved the Ottoman Empire more into the German sphere of influence.

    The children of Bismarck and Bleichroeder married.

    It was symbolic of the alliance of German aristocratic power and German Jewish wealth.

    When Hitler took power, and the Reichstag enacted the Nuremberg, Bismarck's grandchildren petitioned for Aryanization and were refused, for the German Nazi leadership, which was mostly of lower bourgeois origin, often despised the aristocratic elite almost as much as they hated the Jewish upper class.

    The Bismarck Bleichroeder heirs represented both groups.

  14. emanuel appel says:

    Joachim Martillo is representative of Neo Nazi German trash. Blaming the victim is their stock in trade but they've been sent to the garbage can of history.

    There is not going to be a One State Solution givng Arabs power. Get it out of your heads. It's a propaganda fantasy.

    The likes of Mr. Ben Ami spend more time being "tender" about the ones killing Jewish people than about his own nation. In normal countries he'd be branded a traitor and renegade and not given any position of authority.

    Israel's job is to worry about its own citizens. Any negotiation with the Arabs entail their crazy demand that millions of enemy aliens be allowed into Israel with full political rights. This is tantamount to national suicide for Israel if accepted. Kosovo is a prime example of the results of having a large Moslem population. Enough said.

  15. William Burns says:

    Appel,

    Anyone who talks about forcibly relocating millions of Arabs to Lebanon, Jordan or Syria as something that "just requires the will" is not in a good position to accuse others of fantasy politics.

  16. MM says:

    "Israel's job is to worry about its own citizens. Any negotiation with the Arabs entail their crazy demand that millions of enemy aliens be allowed [back to their homes in Palestine] with full political rights."

    I corrected your paragraph, emanuel. Just so it would be clearer that you are are in favor of denying the Palestinian refugees their right of return. No need to thank me.

    You make it sound like it's some immigration or something. You know, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to carry out an ethnic nationalist project on SOMEONE ELSE'S LAND? Just a thought.

  17. Jim Haygood says:

    "Ben-Ami is saying Israelis will never give up the Jewish state to a mixed government of Jews and Palestinians, even with 5 million Palestinians living in that state. (I wonder whether South Africans made the same vows, back when.)"

    When South Africa's Nationalist Party came into power in 1948 (the same year Israel was founded), they had the same policies in mind as our lovely correspondents Shai and Appel, who want to transform the Arabs into ersatz Jordanians. Specifically, Hendrik Verwoerd decided to create a white demographic majority by stripping blacks of South African citizenship and voting rights, and making them involuntary citizens of "bantustans," of which ten ultimately were created.

    Just as Gaza and the West Bank are ultimately Israeli-controlled, the bantustans were subject to heavy South African influence. What sank them was lack of international recognition.

    When I crossed from Cape Province into Transkei in 1984, a Danish woman ahead of me got pretty stroppy with the Transkei Customs officers, mocking them for running an "international" border crossing that her country didn't recognize. They shrugged it off with customary African equanimity. But entering Natal Province on the other side of Transkei, there was no border post at all, which made it seem a bit of a joke. By contrast, Israel has got the West Bank and Gaza completely locked down with [equally illegal] checkpoints.

    Basically, the Quartet process is intended to create Palestinian bantustans that WILL get international recognition. But since Israel and the U.S. refuse to recognize Hamas, the de facto elected government of Gaza, there is no possibility of reaching an Annapolis agreement. Abbas is not in effective control of Gaza. The Israelis gleefully seize on his inability to stop the rockets, as a way of stalling and ultimately killing the deal.

    Ben Ami is right to think that after the Annapolis process is euthanized by Israeli intransigence, events are going to keep moving on the ground. Israel already has a South African situation on its hands, with two bantustans called West Bank and Gaza which — like the impoverished South African bantustans — lack sovereignty, and are economic satellites.

    Compared to South Africa, where whites were at best 20% of the population, Israeli Jews are in a more comfortable demographic position, with close to 50% of the combined population. The Afrikaner Nationalist prime minister, F.W. deKlerk, ultimately chose to negotiate a one man/one vote republic with Nelson Mandela. Why? Because the Afrikaners, despite being descended from Dutch and French settlers, couldn't return to Europe. Africa was their home.

    But Zionists are much, much more fanatical than white supremacists when it comes to resisting race mixing. After all, they draw on a multi-millennial tradition of tribal solidarity. Ultimately, a single state WILL prevail from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. And it will be called New Palestine, not Israel. If the Arab majority has a lick of sense, they will make every effort to retain the country's Jewish citizens, and not retaliate by subjecting Jews to the same humiliating discrimination they endured.

    Unfortunately, it's not likely to play out that way. Jews will stream out of New Palestine, just like whites don't want to live under a black-majority government. In fact, in their customary retaliatory spirit, they probably will attempt to organize an international boycott of New Palestine, unless astronomical compensation is paid. Ask the Swiss banks how this works.

    Unlike the Afrikaners, Israeli Jews have plenty of places to go. So with that revealing formulation in which Jews will say (for example) "I was born in Poland" rather than "I'm Polish," you're going to be meeting a lot of Jewish exiles in future who will say "I was born in Israel," after the name is consigned to history's dustbin. And those who stay — will they ever be able to bring themselves to admit, "I'm Palestinian," when it means a nationality and not an ethnicity? Only in the post-zionist era. May it come soon!

    Don't y'all know that Zion is some place in the sky, not here on earth? Sing with me — Lawdy, I'se goin' to Zion, praise be! praise be! Everbody now!

  18. LeaNder says:

    Thanks Arie, perfect translation. I had similar associations when reading the article, it seems.

    below the link to it.

    link to zeit.de

    I am not a fan of Josef Joffe by the way, although this one is one of his better ones.

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    Economically Germany seems the second biggest partner of Israel that we already knew, but Joffe specifies, that today it's mainly biotechnology and high tech.

    "In addition there is a discreet but growing cooperation in the military. This began already in 1957, when Israel armed the Bundeswehr [German army] with "Uzi" m.g.'s. Later US tanks rolled from Germany flanked by billions in loans. Today Germany buys the very finest – avionics, missile technology from the small superpower.

    [Schroeder sent his foreign minister while himself visiting the golf states. But:] "… In the last days of his term Schroeder granted a hotly coveted commodity: two submarines, who will serve in the depth of the seas of atomic deterrence against Iran as much as for possible imitations."

    *********************************************

    Had Merkel been chancellor at the time of the Iraq war, Germany would have joined the American Army in Iraq. There is absolutely no doubt.

    My favorite cartoon portrayed her at the time,when she visited Bush as the leader of her party, in regimentals and backpack saluting in front of president Bush's open door with the secretary announcing her: Mr, president the German volunteer battalion.

  19. Ed. says:

    "The children of Bismarck and Bleichroeder married. It was symbolic of the alliance of German aristocratic power and German Jewish wealth."

    Reminds one of the Schiff/Gore nuptials, or the marriage of WASP Bush with the Neocons.

    Money worshippers, materialists and megalomaniacs always seem to interbreed, which explains the treacherous, greedy current crop of American "elite." I wonder: are they genetically incapable of recognizing the humanity of the non-chosen races?

  20. Shai says:

    What's with you guys? Tranform them into ersatz Jordanians? I could give a damn what they transform into. For all I care, they can be a Palestinian state. But they can't be Israelis. All I said, which you can't seem to figure out, is that we should draw a line between the Palestinians and Israelis. Whether the Palestinians have their own state, or one in combination with Jordan, is their own business not mine, and not yours. I never said, and don't read into my words, that anybody should be transferred. They stay where they are. But they cannot be part of Israel, full stop.

  21. Shai says:

    MM, Palestinians' "right of return" was part of UNGCR 194. That reciprocal obligations of the Arabs in that resolution were not met then, and haven't been met since, is not mentioned by you.

    They can't just haul it out anytime it suits them. The conditions present in 1949 are gone, and have been for decades. That's the Arabs' fault not less than of the Israelis, and you should stop accusing Israel of being uniquely at fault. Read the Israel Declaration of Independence to see what Israel had in mind regarding treatment of Arabs. Had the Arab League not invaded, 194 and all the other resolutions would never have been needed. Put the blame aside and focus on getting a Palestinian state established with refugees returning to the boundaries of Palestine. THat's the only way this problem will be resolved.

  22. Shai says:

    Jim Haygood, Zion is the name of the mountain that the Temple was built on. You're quite good at writing fiction.

  23. Arie Brand says:

    "Had the Arab League not invaded, 194 and all the other resolutions would never have been needed."

    This is an Israeli myth. It is clear from the correspondence of Ben Gurion that Israel only nominally consented to the UN imposed division of Palestine. The ultimate aspiration was to have the whole of it and then 'Palestinierrein'. Also, Israel was not going to abide by the Palestinians getting anything at all. There was a pre-division collusion between Golda Meir, as envoy of Ben Gurion, and King Abdullah to have the region allocated to the Palestinians annexed to Transjordan (for the time being one has to assume). Though the King was nominally on the side of the Arab nations when it came to war this remained his war aim (see Avi Shlaim "Collusion across the Jordan").

    The Palestinians had plenty of reasons to oppose the division. To begin with it was their country. The UN acted, as Professor Francis Boyle has convincingly argued, 'ultra vires' when it divided the place. Second, even if the act of division had been legitimate itself, it was thorougly unfair. The Jews, constituting only one third of the population, got more than half.

    I have always wondered why the 'international community' now takes it for granted that Israel is entitled to the further 23-24 % of the country it acquired in the war of 1948. The Stimson doctrine, later adopted by the League of Nations, made territorial expansion by acts of war illegal under international law.

    The bold talk of Appel and Shai was indulged in by any number of Afrikaners before De Klerk and Mandela came to an arrangement. I am waiting for the moment on which the Jewish Terreblanche will be falling from his horse.

    Arie Brand

  24. Joshua says:

    Shai seems to forget that there are already 1.2 million Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship. So they attest that they can be Israelis and they can live in the same state together. Granted, it isn't the most harmonious relationship between two ethnic groups rivaling for the battle of whose nationalism trumps whom, but the prevailing attitude that Palestinians have no part to play in Israeli society is rather xenophobic, racist and downright bigotry. Israel claims to be a "light unto nations" and yet when something is viewed as an existential threat to Jewishness, it is demonised and then belittled as if it is something inferior to the Jewish state. Now I know Shai just wants his Israel to be totally Jewish but this isn't the 1900s when Herzl gave birth to Zionism. We live in pluralist societies that aim to progress and learn from other cultures. Wasn't that the purpose of Enlightenment?

    Sadly for Shai that Israel was not created on a land where it was empty but inhabited by many Arabs, a place that they had called home for a millenia. To remove them from their homeland and to erase their culture could have been acceptable back in colonial times where settler states dehumanised the indigenous in order to exploit the land, resources and labour of the Orient. The unfortunte situation for Israel is the fact that human rights are what people care about now, as we have been instilled with the value of egalitarianism for ALL.

    From what I could gather, you just want Palestinians to have their own state removed from Israel and the Jews. But that's not what Palestinians want. They want their state on the West Bank and Gaza, and some even advocate to share the land with the Jews, which doesn't seem like such a bad idea to me. You believe that by pushing them out to Jordan and calling it "Palestine" will appease all the problems that were afflicted when Israel extirpated the Arabs back in 1948 then you are fooling yourself into thinking that the Palestinians are willing to give up what they've been fighting for since the early 20th century: a Palestinian state.

    What's ironic is that some Hamas members share your feelings of the antipathy towards "states" and their false dreams: I recall one member brazenly stating that "why can't he just return to his own in Beersheba? I don't care about a Palestinian state. I don't care about Israel. You took my home from me and I just want to go back!"

    Does the fait accompli of Israel and the settlements really make their grievances go away? Israel dispossessed them. Your precedence only creates more problems for future animosities and struggles that let's "might make right". If the troika of Arab states neighbouring Israel mounted a collective front and occupied Israel, removed the Jews from Tel Aviv and Haifa and Jaffa and said "this is the way this state is going to be, you can't come back. Find a new home in a neighbouring state," you would be fine with it. Naturally this is just a rather unlikely hypothesis, but your logic could make Israelis subject to a dispossession of their own and you would not have a say about it.

  25. qt says:

    appel writes: "In normal countries Ben Ami would be branded a traitor and renegade and not given any position of authority."

    Shlomo ben ami was born in Morocco. Which country was appel referring to?

    Ain't zionism grand?

  26. Shai says:

    Ben Gurion and Meir are not G-d. They had their opinions, others had their opinions, and had the Arabs accepted the deal history could have been different. Your whole theory is nothing but speculation of would'a could'a.

    I'm dealing with fact, not speculation. The Arabs didn't accept the deal. It doesn't matter that they had reasons they considered good. I don't think 60 years of war was a better price to pay.

    Regarding whether there were Palestinians here before is irrelevant. They were not a "country" as you asserted – they were a group of people, some of which had nationalist aspirations of their own separate from Trans Jordan and Syria. SOME of them. But it's all beside the point – your revisionism isn't going to solve the problem of how to get to a solution, and you or Zionists can argue forever about who's right and get nowhere. You want a solution? It's not going to happen by absorbing Palestinians into Israeli citizenship. It could happen either through a Palestinian state, or through an alliance of a Palestinian state with Jordan. All the rest of your would'a could'a's isn't going to change a thing.

    Lastly, calling Israeli Arabs "Palestinian Arabs" is just stealing a terminology so you can tar me with beliefs I never stated. Currently 20% of Israel's population is Israeli Arab, and under a situation where the boundary line is redrawn so that as many Jews as possible are on Israel's side of the border, and as many Arabs on Palestine's, would still leave many more Arabs percentage-wise as "Israelis" than it would leave Jews as "Palestinians". In fact, if you want to speak of racism, it's only the Palestinians who insist on a state free of its opposite. Jews are, have always been, accepting that Arabs would be a significant number within our population.

    Arie, I suggest you get over your penchant for drama and focus on solutions. I can argue I'm right, just as you can argue you're right. There is no possible way that both narratives can co-exist and that's the reason we need two separate states. The ONLY thing I'm asserting here is that I'm not going to argue the rightness of my case, nor will I accept that only the Palestinian case is "right". Rather, I'm arguing that it doesn't matter, that those who act as though it does are lengthening the conflict and making it a Zero-Sum game, and that the two possible solutions for Palestinians that permit a Jewish Democractic state to exist side by side in peace are a Palestinian state, or a Palestinian state confederated with Jordan/Egypt, the states that governed the W. Bank and Gaza before 1967.

    Oh, and qt – did you see the age ben Ami immigrated from Morocco? Look it up and reconsider.

  27. Arie Brand says:

    "Ben Gurion and Meir are not G-d. They had their opinions, others had their opinions,"

    To portray Ben Gurion and Meir as just two individuals in the Israeli crowd is ridiculous. You are talking, as far as Ben Gurion is concerned, about the then leading figure in the Yishuv and the future longest serving Prime Minister of Israel. Meir was of course ultimately PM as well. Whatever these two were up to then is rightly considered as being done on behalf of the Yishuv.

    "and had the Arabs accepted the deal history could have been different."

    If the Arabs had accepted the deal the Israelis would have made sure that they wouldn't have gotten what had been allocated to them. Once again I refer to the Ben Gurion correspondence and the Ben Gurion – Meir – Abdullah collusion.

    But, with hindsight, they might have been better off accepting it, in spite of its illegitimacy and its blatant unfairness, because the Israelis would have been shown to be in the wrong right from the start. As it is it took a few generations for this view to find some wider acceptance.

    " Your whole theory is nothing but speculation of would'a could'a."

    Look at your previous sentence and then in the mirror.

    "I'm dealing with fact, not speculation. The Arabs didn't accept the deal. It doesn't matter that they had reasons they considered good. I don't think 60 years of war was a better price to pay."

    They should have acepted it pro tem as, in fact, the Jews did.

    "Regarding whether there were Palestinians here before is irrelevant. They were not a "country" as you asserted – they were a group of people, some of which had nationalist aspirations of their own separate from Trans Jordan and Syria."

    This is an old chestnut of Zionist apologetics. By the same logic you could argue that, for instance, pre independence Indonesia wasn't a country but just a 'group of people'.

    In fact the terms Palestine and Palestinians go much further back than the names of most newly independent countries. I seem to recall that they can be found in Herodotus and that the Romans used it to indicate the region after the Jewish revolt of 134AD.

    "SOME of them. But it's all beside the point – your revisionism isn't going to solve the problem of how to get to a solution, and you or Zionists can argue forever about who's right and get nowhere. You want a solution? It's not going to happen by absorbing Palestinians into Israeli citizenship. It could happen either through a Palestinian state, or through an alliance of a Palestinian state with Jordan. All the rest of your would'a could'a's isn't going to change a thing."

    Neither you nor I know what is going to happen. Your bold assertions here strike me as whistling in the dark.

    "Lastly, calling Israeli Arabs "Palestinian Arabs" is just stealing a terminology so you can tar me with beliefs I never stated."

    You are confusing me here with another contributor.

    "Currently 20% of Israel's population is Israeli Arab, and under a situation where the boundary line is redrawn so that as many Jews as possible are on Israel's side of the border, and as many Arabs on Palestine's, would still leave many more Arabs percentage-wise as "Israelis" than it would leave Jews as "Palestinians". In fact, if you want to speak of racism, it's only the Palestinians who insist on a state free of its opposite."

    Free of its occupiers and oppressors that is.

    "Jews are, have always been, accepting that Arabs would be a significant number within our population."

    This is rank hypocrisy. You know full well that Arabs have NEVER been accepted as fully fledged citizens in Israel. In addition quite a few of your fellow citizens have voiced regrets that Ben Gurion's expulsion policy was not radical enough.

    "Arie, I suggest you get over your penchant for drama and focus on solutions."

    Like your country has been doing over the last half century you mean.

    "I can argue I'm right, just as you can argue you're right. There is no possible way that both narratives can co-exist and that's the reason we need two separate states. The ONLY thing I'm asserting here is that I'm not going to argue the rightness of my case, nor will I accept that only the Palestinian case is "right". Rather, I'm arguing that it doesn't matter, that those who act as though it does are lengthening the conflict and making it a Zero-Sum game, and that the two possible solutions for Palestinians that permit a Jewish Democractic state to exist side by side in peace are a Palestinian state, or a Palestinian state confederated with Jordan/Egypt, the states that governed the W. Bank and Gaza before 1967."

    You seem to have departed from reality now. A Palestinian state can only come about if and when the settlements are vacated. This is a debate about rights and the lack of them, whether you like it or not.

    "Oh, and qt – did you see the age ben Ami immigrated from Morocco? Look it up and reconsider."

    You confuse me here with yet another contributor.

  28. Shai says "Jim Haygood, Zion is the name of the mountain that the Temple was built on. You're quite good at writing fiction."

    – um, no, shai, that's mt. moria

  29. Shai says:

    um, Rowan, the mountain has more than one name.

  30. Shai says:

    No, qt, whatever Ben Gurion and Meir said or wished had to be agreed to by others. Yes, they were influential, but their views especially on matters like these were not as decisive as you make them to be. In any case, you're speculating and I'm not – the Arabs refused the deal, the Jews accepted. Deal with the facts.

    I'm not going to address your points you made regarding history. It's a waste of time, for you and for me. I'd rather focus on solutions. I just find the whole issue of the name of Palestine being so old as to somehow grant Arabs living here a national deed to this land just because they now call themselves "Palestinians" is ridiculous. But I don't really care, as I've said before. As long as the Palestinians think they deserve a state and think they are a people, who am I to tell them otherwise? If they're willing to live in peace with me and govern themselves without my interference, I want to help them. But if their objective is to undermine my state, don't expect me to be cooperative.

    Regarding your assertion of how Arabs were to be treated, it seems to me that if you're on one hand willing to accept some buried piece of paper from Ben Gurion or Meir as authoritative regarding Israel's intentions, that nothing less than the Israel Declaration of Independence would be Authoritative. Look it up. It has several locations where it specifically holds out its hands to local Arabs (Israeli Arabs) and Arabs in the region in the hopes of being able to work together. Then, after you've looked that up, look up the Palestinian National Anthem, filled as it is with blood and revenge and so on. I don't think your point stands. Obviously what's happened since 1948 is not something I'm proud of, and I'd hope the Arabs of Israel feel the same, but I don't think Israel and Jews bare the exclusive fault for this you seem intent on hoisting upon them. The Arabs in the area, and local Arabs, share in the blame equally, and more is to be gained by focusing on solutions that arise from a sense of mutual obligation rather than always focusing on a sense of entitlement and rights, because there is no way to agree on rights when we don't share a national narrative.

    I don't need the Palestinians to accept my right to be here, nor do I need to accept theirs. What I need is a mutual agreement that it is our obligation to each other to live in peace irrespective of all else.

    Lastly, your argument about vacating settlements is also ridiculous. At most, the settlements account for 10% of the West Bank. All of Gaza was evacuated. I have no problem offering an equivalent 10% of land within Israeli territory to offset the 10% taken from the West Bank. Nor as it turns out do the negotiators I'm told, and that' why I said the land issue is not an essential deal killer. If you insist on dismantling the major blocks of settlements, you'll just succeed in ensuring a deal never happens. Believe they're rightly there, or illegally there, it doesn't matter anymore. They are there, and the only way to ensure peace in our generation is to find a way to keep them under Israeli sovereignty. Not fair? There's no way to be fair to both sides, so we have to find a compromise. That's the best we can do under the circumstances, and considering the 1967 Green Line has no essential status, there's no reason we can't make adjustments in it to achieve the objective for the sake of peace.

  31. Charles Keating says:

    If the 1967 Green Line has no essential status, does the 1948 line?

  32. Arie Brand says:

    Shai: "I have no problem offering an equivalent 10% of land within Israeli territory to offset the 10% taken from the West Bank. Nor as it turns out do the negotiators I'm told, and that' why I said the land issue is not an essential deal killer."

    Your people were offered that deal right back in 1967 in the negotiations around Security Council Resolution 242, which told you to withdraw from occupied territories. The idea was to have reciprocal minor border corrections to give the arbitrary armistice line of 1949 a more logical shape. King Husayn had been told by American negotiators (particularly UN Ambassador Goldberg) that that was the deal. When he tried to approach Israel on this he was cold shouldered and the outside world was told that these damned Arabs were as intransigent as ever.

    Your state insisted on its settlement project even though PM Eshkol had declared at the beginning of the war that Israel was not out to occupy any territory.

    When later that summer then American Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, reminded Abba Eban of this promise the Israeli Minister merely shrugged his shoulders and said 'we have changed our mind'. Rusk commented that this was a very bitter point with the Americans because it made them 'twenty year liars'. For decades they had been assuring anxious Arabs that Israel was not out for territorial aggrandisement (See his Memoirs "As I saw it").

    The relevant State Department documents are also all online for open inspection.

    I don't buy your post-modernist babble about different 'narratives'that you come up with whenever the facts seem compromising to your position. Just brushing away, with a flick of your hand, history when it doesn't suit you doesn't convince any one, except those who are in the same apologetic circle.

    What did Faulkner say? "The past is not dead, in fact, it is not even past". Any conflict of the kind your people are engaged in is tied up to the past and partly determined by it. The Northern Irish conflict is (was) another classical example.

    And talking about facts: which negotiators, on both sides, have come to that alleged agreement on a land deal?

    That you would be willing for Israel to engage in a land deal is, of course, neither here nor there, even though you do talk at times as if you were the Israeli PM.

  33. Shai says:

    Charles, good question. The only line that has been recognized by both sides is the 1949 Armistice Line, which was the boundary until 1967. The real question is whether the terms hammered out in 1967 after the war allowed Israel to treat lands over the Green Line as their own for reasons of security as they assert, or not, as the Arabs assert. The text of the security council resolutions were unfortunately weasel worded to give both sides their own interpretation on this.

    Arie I'm aware of something similar to what you described occurring later. Shimon Peres struck a deal with King Hussein during the term of PM Shamir, and Shamir rejected it. I'd like to see your proof that this happened in 1967 as you assert, as I am not aware of this history. Can you provide the proof, please? And even if it's true, it may have occurred after the 3 no's of Khartoum, and the response would have to be considered in that context. You might be speaking of the later interpretations of the Khartoum response, which are a think justification indeed for your assertions.See link to en.wikipedia.org

  34. Arie Brand says:

    See my comments under Phil's later post on Arafat.