Yesterday the Institute for Middle East Understanding had a conference call with Rashid Khalidi and John Mearsheimer to talk about the latest offer in the peace process. Both men used the word "charade." It's an entertaining conversation, go to that link. Some of my notes:
Mearsheimer is a two-stater, but he says that Palestinians ought to declare for one state. "I think this whole process is a charade...This demonstrates clearly that you're not going to get a viable Palestinian state." Palestinians should accept that reality and say that Israel can have one state, "and we insist that it be a democratic state."
The men were asked (at 34 or so) if they support boycott, divestment and sanctions as a means of changing the balance of power between Israelis and Palestinians. Qualified yes from both. Khalidi said that "anything that can change the political climate in this country... is much to be supported," though he is not for a blanket, cookie cutter approach to boycotting Israel, out of deference to public opinion, which is so far from understanding anything about Israel. A campaign has to be aimed at giving people the "lineaments" of the issue.
Mearsheimer said, "I would support the U.S. cutting off all aid to Israel, boycotting Israel and putting sanctions on Israel, and that would all be done in support of the two-state solution. ... I believe American pressure if it were possible to execute it could be employed to get a two-state solution."
Khalidi told a funny story. Funny/horrifying.
He had a "little encounter" at the State Department a few months ago, some colleagues and he were talking to the State Department about Jerusalem. "Our interlocutor said to us, Well, I hope this doesn't develop into Israel bashing and the delegitimization of Israel at the General Assembly. My response was, you know it's sort of funny, when Palestinians resist what's being done to them militarily you call it terrorism, and when they resist in a peaceful way you call it delegitimization. What do you expect them to do, roll over like sheep to have their throats cut and just shut up?"
Mearsheimer said a couple of other startling things. Israel is slipping right so fast that Netanyahu will be seen as a centrist before long. "I would not be surprised if within 20 years, Avigdor Lieberman becomes prime minister... that's where this country is headed."
And he said that American Jews don't have a clue because of the media sugarcoating they get over the fact that Israel is committing suicide. "One of the reasons that American Jewish community are not more mobilized in favor of the two state solution is that they have no idea what's going on." If America wanted two states, they could get em, no problem, but it would require real pressure.
But as to the lobby: "The United States has a relationship with Israel that has no parallel in recorded history."
Mearsheimer called Dennis Ross an "agent" for the Israeli government, a delectable phrase, operating inside the American government, though Khalidi demurred on that one. "I don't know that I would call him an Israeli agent, but he has played a tremendously destructive role since the Reagan administration."
Then Khalidi said that Obama's reported offer of F-35s to Israel, and the offer of a security zone in the Jordan Valley to the Israelis, comprising 40 percent of the territory of the West Bank, recall the Balfour Declaration-- a third party gives a second party something that belongs to a first party. Straight out of Night at the Opera. By the way, they played the contract scene from Night at the Opera at Tony Judt's memorial service at NYU Law School. Beautiful. Khalidi was there. You have to channel Groucho to explain the peace process.