Among the countless recent commentaries on the prospects and implications of the Palestinian leadership's bid for membership at the United Nations, I find Rashid Khalidi's "The Palestinians' Next Move" exceptionally clear, concise, and convincing.
Among his "initial conclusions":
1. "the United States now is thoroughly out of touch with most of the international community when it comes to Palestine and Israel."
2. "after two decades of the U.S. behaving as 'Israel’s lawyer,' the two-state solution is now dead."
3. "the Palestinian leadership … has taken a long-overdue first step to re-internationalize Palestine’s struggle for liberty and self-determination and to take matters out of the hands of American diplomats who for decades have systematically advanced Israel’s interests at the expense of the Palestinians. The attempt to produce more objective stewardship of negotiations by taking the Palestinian case to the UN will clearly fail in the short term due to U.S. opposition. Nevertheless, it was relatively successful in galvanizing international support for the Palestinians almost everywhere outside of the fact-free bubble that is the DC beltway and much of the mainstream media."
While recognizing "significant changes in perceptions of the conflict at the grassroots level in the United States," Khalidi is appropriately doubtful that U.S. government policy will change any time soon, given the power of the Israel lobby. Nor does he see any prospect of meaningful change in Israeli policies.
The best hope for the Palestinians, he concludes, lies in "a new long-term strategy for national liberation":
The focus of this new strategy will have to return from a two-decade hiatus at a rigged negotiating table to its original and most representative form: popular, grassroots, nonviolent struggle on the ground and among Palestinians in exile. The good news for the Palestinians is that the infrastructure for such a struggle is already in place after years of nonviolent protest in the villages of the West Bank and could grow with the recently minted model of the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions to consider. A highly coordinated and truly massive campaign of active nonviolence could shock the conscience of the world and energize Palestinians everywhere. The bad news for the Israelis—who have brutally repressed nonviolent protest in villages such as Bilin, Nilin, Nebi Saleh, Walaja and many other places over the past six years—is that, according to Ministry of Defense political-military chief Amos Gilad, “we [the Israelis] don’t do Gandhi very well.”
Beyond the merits of Khalidi's analysis, it's remarkable that it appears in the pages, or at least on the website, of The National Interest, a publication that long served mainly as an outlet for neoconservative luminaries. (It was founded in 1985 by Irving Kristol.) Its editorial board split in 2005, according to Wikipedia, and since then the publication has been dominated by more traditional conservatives and foreign-policy "realists." According to its masthead page, Henry Kissinger is its "Honorary Chairman," while James Schlesinger chairs its Advisory Council. The think tank that publishes it, the Center for the National Interest, was founded by Richard Nixon and used to be called the Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom; its current chairman is Maurice R. Greenberg, former head of the insurance giant AIG.
Obviously, there's no reason to suppose that many in that crew - aside from John Mearsheimer, who's also listed as a member of the Advisory Council - share Khalidi's perspective, but perhaps there's some hope to be found in the fact that they published the piece.
Or perhaps Robert W. Merry, who took over as editor just last week after a long run at the head of the Congressional Quarterly, is in for a short term in his new gig….