Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 13 (since 2009-08-30 18:30:00)

Jerome Slater

Jerome Slater is a professor (emeritus) of political science and now a University Research Scholar at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has taught and written about U.S. foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for nearly 50 years, both for professional journals (such as International Security, Security Studies, and Political Science Quarterly) and for many general periodicals. He writes foreign policy columns for the Sunday Viewpoints section of the Buffalo News. And his website it

Showing comments 13 - 1

  • 'Let the one-state era begin'-- Tom Friedman explains there will never be a Palestinian state
    • I'm with Donald. Ok, Friedman has come a long way, though his narcissism is just as teeth-gritting as ever.

      But consider this:

      Friedman:" Hamas devoted all its resources to digging tunnels to attack Israelis from Gaza rather than turning Gaza into Singapore, making a laughingstock of Israeli peace advocates."

      Who would have guessed there was a repressive occupation that might just have had a causal relationship to Hamas's tunnels? And is it possible that the ongoing Israeli economic siege of Gaza bore some relationship to Hamas's "failure" to turn Gaza into Singapore?

      Friedman: "The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, sacked the only effective Palestinian prime minister ever, Salam Fayyad, who was dedicated to fighting corruption and proving that Palestinians deserved a state by focusing on building institutions..."

      Ah, hah. That's why Netanyahu will never allow a Palestinian state--they don't deserve one. If only Abbas had not sacked Fayyad, Netanyahu would have agreed to a Palestinian state, no doubt about it.

      Friedman: "it’s not your radical chic college professor’s Palestine anymore." That's me, your standard 80 year old radical chic (ex) college professor.

  • Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: An argument
    • Thanks for these comments, all of which I am happy to agree with. It would certainly be nice to get published in NYT, NY Review, etc. If only. As if. LOL.

      It's not for want of trying, I can assure you. For many, many years.

  • Chickenshitgate: A dissenting view
  • On the use of provocative analogies (Nazism, fascism)
    • Legal definitions require interpretation and application to specific cases. In any case, in common usage the term "genocide" is restricted to the very large-scale intentional killing of members of groups, simply because they are members of the specified groups, independent of any other cause--such as the wholesale Hutu murder of Tutsis, per se.

      If you don't take into account scale, then according to the definition you choose to invoke, killing or causing serious harms to, say, 15 members of a group would constitute "genocide."

      Relevant distinctions are always necessary in serious analyses--otherwise we couldn't distinguish the murder of one or two people from mass murder, and mass murder from genocide. And since such distinctions are often important, we'd just have to invent other words to describe them.

      Try to avoid characterizing arguments that you disagree with as "gross,"
      particularly arguments and distinctions that, for good reason, are very common in serious discussions of these issues.

  • Jodi Rudoren loves a winner
    • Fair enough, Mooser. However, I don't share your implied conclusion that there was never any morally legitimate basis for Zionism or the creation of Israel. Obviously any argument that does not reach that conclusion has to confront the reality of the Nakba. Not easy; I've done my best here: link to

  • The Walzer Problem
    • Annie:
      I absolutely agree that of course Israel had a choice--in fact, as written it says the opposite of what I meant to say. In one of my drafts I said "SUPPOSEDLY leaving Israel no choice" Somehow that got lost--a terrible error.

  • Peter Beinart demolishes Gaza hasbara
    • In light of David Samel's kind comment, I would like to clarify my position, re liberal Zionism. First, it's important--at least to me--to separate out the arguments for a Jewish state at the time it was created and whether it should continue to be a Jewish state today. In 1948 I think there was a very powerful argument for a Jewish state--somewhere--in light of the Holocaust and many other periods throughout history of murderous anti-Semitism. That said, in principle the state should have been established either someplace where the people living there consented to it--probably there was no such place--or, much better, in parts of conquered Germany, where the consent of its people was entirely unnecessary.

      By 1948, tragically, all non-Palestinian options for a Jewish state were dead.
      So then the question became whether the state could have been established in a way that did minimal injustice to the Palestinian people. If the Nakba had been the only way Israel could have been created, then it shouldn't have been created. The complexity is that there might well have been other non-coercive methods. (I've discussed them elsewhere--see, for example, Jonathan Freedland's brief discussion of my ideas in his article on liberal Zionism in the current NY Review. )

      What about now? Is there still a justification for a Jewish state? In the abstract, and with a number of qualifications, there might be--given history, the need for a refuge for persecuted or endangered Jews cannot be ruled out, especially if other countries are not willing to accept large numbers.

      That's in the abstract. The problem is the kind of state Israel has become: I won't mince words, it is becoming, or already is, a criminal state--and with the strong support of most of its Jewish population. That surely undermines the case for Zionism today.

  • Nicholas Kristof on how to end the Israel/Palestine conflict
    • Donald,
      I also noticed the editorial. For as long as I remember, the editorials in the NY Times have been inept, and not just those on the I-P conflict. It's exactly as you say, if you want to understand an issue, NY Times editorials are not where you would look. Who takes them seriously? In that case, why bother to take them on?


  • Simon Schama's Israel whitewash
    • W. Jones: You are right in questioning the ratio figures. Assuming that the figures are right--other estimates appear to differ somewhat--in order to assure an 80% Jewish majority, it would have been necessary to "transfer" about 300,000 Palestinians, not 220,000. Of course, there is nothing sacrosanct about 80%--I chose that number because that's what Ben-Gurion thought had to be the goal. The larger point is that if violence had been avoided and the "transfer" done by generous recompensation, the injustice to the Palestinians would have been far less, and there would no longer be a "right of return" issue that has bedeviled the conflict since 1948.

      And just to drive home my larger point: regardless of the justification for the creation of a Jewish state in 1948, if massive violence had been the only way to do it, then the creation of Israel could not be justified.

      As for achieving the same ratio by Jewish immigration into the original boundaries as established by the UN, that possibility was no longer feasible after the expansion of Israel in the 1948 war. Also, note that the 80% Jewish majority that resulted from the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians has essentially not changed, despite the later immigration into Israel of millions (? I don't know the exact number) of Jews. I'm not sure why this has been the case--it might simply be that the Palestinian birthrate was higher than the Jewish birthrate, thus cancelling out the Jewish immigration.

    • W. Jones says: "I am also seeing if I can get J.Slater to reconsider his views about transferring the native population out of their homeland if I can solve his “demographic” dilemma."

      I've addressed this issue a number of times, in various places, including in some version on Mondoweiss. It takes some space to develop the argument, so here I will give a very brief summary. Non or anti-Zionists need read no further, for there is only a "dilemma" if you accept the Zionist argument--as I do--that there was a genuine need for a Jewish state at the time Israel was established, but it could only be justified if the harm done to the Palestinians had been minimized.

      I also accept the premise that for there to be a secure Jewish state there had to be a substantial Jewish majority. The figures that I've seen is that in early 1948 there were some 500,000 Jews and 400,000 Palestinians in the area alloted by the UN partition plan to create a Jewish state--which was the language, not so incidentally, of the partition resolution. (There was also supposed to be an Arab state in the rest of Palestine, of course).

      If you take as a further premise, as did Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders, that a secure Jewish state needed something like an 80% majority--a premise I accept--then the math follows that some 220,000 Palestinians would have to "transferred" by some means or other to the proposed Palestinian state.

      Where I get off the Zionist train, however, is that if I believed that the only way that could occur was the way it did occur--the Nakba--then my position--as I've stated a number of times--IS THAT THE JEWISH STATE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN CREATED.

      Thus, the central issue becomes--in my argument--if a stable Jewish majority could have been accomplished, not by the violent expulsion of some 750,000 Palestinians but by generously buying out 220,000 Palestinians, then that was justified. Could it have been? Who knows--it wasn't tried.

      That's the argument. To repeat the obvious--if you think that Zionism has no justification at all, now or in the past, even after the Holocaust, which is the position of most of those who comment on this website, many of whom appear to believe that Zionism, per se, was one of the worst crimes of the 20th century, then this argument is obviously irrelevant.

      In sum, it applies only to those who think that there was a good moral case for the establishment of Israel in part of Palestine but no moral case at all for the Nakba, and who therefore have a moral dilemma.

  • On John Judis's 'Genesis,' and its critics
    • Naftush: You don't think that "transfer" was part of Zionist ideology--and implemented mercilessly in 1947-48? You might try learning a bit about the history of your country (I assume it is Israel). Your position is not a serious one.

    • Seafoid: Sure Europe would have better, and in many ways. But that wasn't being offered. Nor did they choose Palestine because they thought the Arabs would be a walkover, as opposed to ideological, religious, and even practical reasons. The fact of the matter is that by 1947 there was no possibility of establishing a Jewish state anywhere but Palestine.

      Indeed, even large-scale emigration to the U.S. was not possible, given American attitudes.

    • A general comment on the problem of "kinder and gentler ethnic cleansing":

      If one rejects--even in principle--the argument that the Jews needed and were justified in having a state of their own, especially in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, it obviously follows that there was no moral dilemma inherent in the creation of that state in a partitioned Palestine--it wouldn't matter how many or how few Palestinians were displaced, nor how that was done.

      If, however, one accepts the principle of a justified Jewish state, then there clearly was a tragic moral dilemma: justice (and for many, sheer survival) for the Jews clashed with justice for the Palestinians. To consider highly compensated relocation, even compulsory for some, of a relatively small number of Palestinians as merely "a kinder and gentler" form of "ethnic cleansing," apparently morally barely distinguishable from the Zionists' resort to terrorism, massacres, and forced marches to drive out 750,000 Palestinians--that is, REAL ethnic cleansing--is to deny the possibility of moral distinctions.

      Put differently, if one rejects the bedrock principle of Zionism in its entirety, then no further discussion is necessary or even possible. But if one accepts this principle--like we "liberal Zionists" do--but detest not only the Nakba and all other Israeli crimes since, then one has to consider whether there was another way. That's what I have tried to do.

      Here's a thought experiment: suppose, as I have suggested, that the Israelis, the international community, and others offered to buy out the some 220,000 Palestinians that would have to be relocated to neighboring Arab states in order to create a large Jewish majority within the boundaries of the Jewish state. Suppose the offer was quite generous--say, $1,000,000 per family--and that all or nearly all the affected Palestinians were happy to accept it, and move (in most cases) just a few miles into the Palestinian state that was supposed to have been created by the UN partition resolution of 1947, or perhaps into another Arab state?

      In that case, the whole process would not only have been nonviolent, it would have been a negotiated settlement acceptable to all the Palestinians that accepted the terms. Would that also have been merely a "kinder and gentler" ethnic cleansing?

      It won't do any good to say, well, some of them wouldn't accept, so they would have to be forced to leave--though still compensated generously, in my proposal.
      How many wouldn't accept, even though highly compensated? Who knows? Out of the total of 220,000, maybe 5000, 10,000, 20,000? The numbers, together with the economic compensation, become critical, for if it is illegitimate to compulsorily transfer any Palestinians at all, then you are denying justice to hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of Jews who need a Jewish state as a refuge against future murderous anti-Semitism.

      To repeat, those who reject the very notion of a necessitated Jewish state will have no problem with this thought experiment--an injustice to a single displaced Palestinian outweighs the moral claims of the Jewish people. But for the rest of us who see a moral dilemma, both numbers and methods become morally critical.

Showing comments 13 - 1