The peace process is ‘a savior for war’ — Ari Shavit

US Politics
on 16 Comments

Israeli author Ari Shavit says that Israel has been able to gain international immunity for using force against Palestinians on several occasions, from the 1930s pre-state days to 2009, because it was seen as sincerely pursuing peace. The failed Camp David peace process “was a savior for war,” Shavit says. And Israel’s current government risks losing this shield because it has abandoned “the moral high ground” by abandoning the peace process.

Shavit laid out this realpolitik in a panel Wednesday night on the future of Israel at the 92nd Street Y in New York. Shavit is a celebrated figure in the American Jewish community because of his 2013 bestseller, My Promised Land, which presents Israel as a miraculous country that has done some bad things, and which was excerpted in The New Yorker and celebrated on Charlie Rose and Fresh Air.

In the Israel discussion Wednesday night, panelist Dan Senor said that Israeli policy on a two-state solution would be no different under Labor leader Isaac Herzog, who lost in the March election, than it is under rightwing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Shavit agreed and said that both Jewish left and right in Israel had failed through utopianism. The right has a utopian vision of a Greater Israel; the left has a “naive, utopian” concept of a peace process that could deliver a Palestinian state when this wasn’t possible– rather than offering Palestinians incremental changes on the ground.

Shavit went on to offer this bracing analysis of Israeli history:

Look at our history– and this is where I totally agree with Abe [Foxman]. The wisdom of Zionism, when it was wise– when it was serious and wise and moral– was to understand that we live in a cruel world, but we must always capture the moral high ground. Both are true. Because we need a deep alliance with the west and because we are Jews. We cannot just be about brute force. And this is what sadly I think some members of my government do not understand.

So we succeeded in the past because we adopted that.
In 1937 we adopted the [the Peel commission] partition plan, and… this is how we won the civil war of the ’30s.
In 1947 we adopted the [United Nations] partition plan, the Arabs rejected it, and this is why we won in ’47 [presumably the 1948 war].
In 2000 Ehud Barak goes to Bill Clinton’s peace summit– it’s considered a great failure? It was a failure for peace– it was a savior for war. We won the second intifada. Ariel Sharon was able to defend us against the second intifada because of the credit that Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton gave us in Camp David.
Ehud Olmert was not my hero and was able to do many things in order to defend us [former P.M. Olmert directed the Lebanon war of 2006 and Cast Lead against Gaza in 2008-09]… because of the credit he got because he was willing to go all the way for peace.
So capturing the moral high ground is essential for us. I think it is essential for us morally, and it is essential to our national security.
So I think that again, if we will understand that we were all wrong, we had this messianic idea of a greater Israel, we had the messianic idea of the perfect peace. Both were refuted [by] the harsh reality of the middle east…
By the way you [addressing Peter Beinart] had your messianic idea of democracy in the Middle East which you tried [reference to Beinart’s support for the Iraq war].
Let’s learn. Sometimes people talk about the future as if they had not read a paper in the last 20 years.

Shavit concluded the speech by saying that Israel must begin undertaking measures that signal its support for an eventual two-state solution, beginning with “a settlement freeze beyond the barrier” in portions of the West Bank, and by undertaking a “Marshall Plan” to give clean water to Gaza. Doing such things will not risk Israel’s security and will help Israel change its international image and “help us on campuses” and give Palestinians hope, he said.

His recommendations were met with loud applause from 500 people in the great hall at the 92nd Street Y.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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16 Responses

  1. Mooser
    June 13, 2015, 11:14 am

    “His recommendations were met with loud applause from 500 people in the great hall at the 92nd Street Y. “

    Eventual hope is always a big crowd-pleaser.

  2. just
    June 13, 2015, 1:56 pm

    “Shavit concluded the speech by saying that Israel must begin undertaking measures that signal its support for an eventual two-state solution, beginning with “a settlement freeze beyond the barrier” in portions of the West Bank, and by undertaking a “Marshall Plan” to give clean water to Gaza. Doing such things will not risk Israel’s security and will help Israel change its international image and “help us on campuses” and give Palestinians hope, he said.”

    What absolute patronizing pooh!

    “…by undertaking a “Marshall Plan” to give clean water to Gaza. Doing such things will not risk Israel’s security and will help Israel change its international image and “help us on campuses” and give Palestinians hope, he said.”

    What is this garbage? It has nothing to do with the “Marshall Plan”! It’s far more reminiscent of giving ‘the natives’ some skins, beads, firewater, and smallpox blankets! Give ‘the natives’ a reservation without the water that we’ve so far poisoned and stolen from them and presto!

    The best thing that’s happened is that the ‘Peace process’ has been exposed as a cruel and deadly Israeli/Western joke upon the Palestinians. That the process “was a savior for war” is only from a Zionist perspective… how may have they massacred/imprisoned/kidnapped/disappeared/exiled/maimed with impunity anyway?

    Yep, Foxman and Shavit sitting in a tree…

  3. Sulphurdunn
    June 13, 2015, 3:22 pm

    So, if I read this correctly, I bomb a house and kill an innocent family. What’s important is not that they are dead but that it be perceived as a moral rather than an immoral act. I accomplish this by being less inhumane when I’m not dropping bombs and by making sure everyone applauds me for it. Is that about right?

    • Annie Robbins
      June 13, 2015, 3:34 pm

      sounds about right to me.

    • just
      June 13, 2015, 5:02 pm

      Yep, Sulphurdunn. Nailed it!

      It’s fairly common among the biggest, baddest, most well- funded folks.

      Ergo the birth of the ridiculous refrain “they hate us for our freedom”, “democracy” etc. ad nauseam.

    • Bornajoo
      June 13, 2015, 5:50 pm

      “So, if I read this correctly, I bomb a house and kill an innocent family. What’s important is not that they are dead but that it be perceived as a moral rather than an immoral act. I accomplish this by being less inhumane when I’m not dropping bombs and by making sure everyone applauds me for it. Is that about right? ”

      Excellent and spot on Sulphurdunn! +1

    • tree
      June 13, 2015, 7:54 pm

      I accomplish this by being less inhumane when I’m not dropping bombs and by making sure everyone applauds me for it. Is that about right?

      I’m going to disagree with the rest here by saying you haven’t quite got it right. Israel accomplishes this by pretending to be interested in peace and pretending to want to end the occupation, “if only…” yadda, yadda. It accomplishes this by lying about its motives and its actions, not by being less inhumane. Its been the Zionist way since the beginning. Ben Gurion made an art of it.

      The problem with the right wingers in Israel is they can’t keep themselves from verbalizing their true feelings. They aren’t as good at lying. That’s what has alarmed Shavit.

      Anyone else notice that he only called for a settlement freeze “beyond the barrier”, when the barrier is well inside the West Bank?

      • just
        June 13, 2015, 8:06 pm

        Well said, tree.

        And yes, I noticed.

        What makes them so attractive to so many anyway? It’s more than a bit like those men/women who are attracted to Charles Manson et al.

  4. MHughes976
    June 13, 2015, 5:35 pm

    If the tiny steps of stopping some settlement expansion and of offering Gaza clean water (available for destruction at a minute’s notice) are enough to make Israel look fully committed to peace we must be gullible indeed – well, I suppose we are. What can constitute a full commitment to peace except, as a minimum, a fully developed proposal for what the peace should be? I am sceptical about 2 states but I still ask those who advocate the idea to specify what they envisage.

  5. Citizen
    June 13, 2015, 8:26 pm

    Imagine if influential Americans and institutions were as skeptical of Israel’s hasbara as they are of, say, what Obama says.

  6. talknic
    June 13, 2015, 9:00 pm

    Ari Shavit has become another pathetic pundit earning his living off the occupation and living in a comfortable dream world.

    Israel should simply get out of all non-Israeli territory, as required by law.

  7. diasp0ra
    June 14, 2015, 9:00 am

    I find it amusing when liberal Zionists muse about the pre-1967 Israel as if it was moral and just. Completely glossing over the ethnic cleansing and massacres they carried out in order to secure their majority.

    It’s almost as if they don’t realize that they now sit comfy in their houses because someone is in a tent far away.

  8. Whizdom
    June 14, 2015, 7:51 pm

    The Settler bloc has pretty much said that they will bust the coalition if any restriction on the settlement enterprise is imposed.

  9. Lillian Rosengarten
    June 15, 2015, 11:05 am

    Unfortunately Shavit does not go far enough. He has a lot on influence on the US Jewish Community. Were he to say Israel must end apartheid, , that could result in a powerful response!
    There is no dialogue, no 2 or 1 state solution until apartheid ends.

    • Mooser
      June 15, 2015, 11:34 am

      “He has a lot on influence on the US Jewish Community.”

      And the “US Jewish Community” has a lot of influence on Israel?

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