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Abrams slams Rudoren in effort to maintain figleaf of a two-state solution over the reality of apartheid

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From his aerie at the Council on Foreign Relations, Elliott Abrams has slammed Jodi Rudoren of the New York Times for her story suggesting that construction in the E-1 strip of the West Bank would end the two-state-solution. Abrams says the two-state solution is alive and well, and he suggests that Rudoren is incompetent:

It is just plain extraordinary that the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times knows so little about the geography of the Jerusalem area that she could write such things. Here’s my theory: that just about everyone she knows–all her friends–believe these things, indeed know that they are true. Settlements are bad, the right-wing Israeli government is bad, new construction makes peace impossible and cuts the West Bank in half and destroys contiguity and means a Palestinian state is impossible. They just know it, it’s obvious, so why would you have to refer to a map, or talk to people who would tell you it’s all wrong? 

To her credit, Rudoren responded to Abrams in an email to Politico, and while expressing regret over imprecision, stood up for the essence of her post, as well she should:

The essence of what our E1 story said was correct: that building there is seen by palestinians, peace advocates and diplomats worldwide as the death knell of the two state solution, because it prevents meaningful contiguity in the West Bank and easy access to the heart of East Jerusalem. (The Israelis also understand this; it’s precisely why this area was chosen at this time.)

Rudoren is plainly right. If you have been to the West Bank, you know that it is crisscrossed by Israeli-only roads, that the supposed capital of a Palestinian state, East Jerusalem, is infiltrated by more than a dozen Jewish settlements in what Jeff Halper has called a permanent “matrix of control;” and a huge wall cuts off the supposed Palestinian parliament buildings in Abu Dis from the spiritual heart of Jerusalem, the Old City.

Abrams’s claim that he is for the two state solution is hypocritical. In his book, Faith or Fear (1997), he lumped Presbyterian support for “Palestinian statehood” into a list of Christian statements about Israel that seemed to him “a form of anti-Semitism.” And just two weeks ago he was asked what his greatest achievement in 30 years of working on Middle East issues was and he said it was guaranteeing the Israeli colonization of the West Bank:

“the famous letter: the April 14, 2004, letter of President Bush to Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister Sharon, which for the first time said clearly: Israel is going to keep the major [settlement] blocs, and there is no ‘right of return.’”

Abrams has done as much to destroy the two-state solution as anyone, because he had a religious belief in the Jews’ God-given right to Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Plainly though, it is important to neocons to assert that the two-state solution is alive. They know that this is an important battle in the American mainstream discourse. For if the two-state solution is dead, then we are entering into an apartheid struggle in all the land between the river and the sea.

If you visit the West Bank, you know that that struggle has begun. But there is little awareness of this struggle in the US mainstream, and Abrams wants to keep it that way. 

Rudoren is joined here by Paul Pillar, a former CIA official and realist, who says Israelis have been able to conceal the apartheid reality in the West Bank by the unending promise of a two-state solution.

He writes at “The National Interest” that the South Africa analogy clearly is applicable:

In any meaningful moral (or legal) sense, the Israeli system of apartheid warrants just as much active international opposition as the South African system did. But for a combination of historical and political reasons, it is substantially more difficult to mount such opposition.

One reason it is hard to mount opposition to Israeli apartheid, Pillar explains, is the fig leaf of the two-state solution:

Israeli governments such as Netanyahu’s… can continue to pretend to seek a two-state solution, treating the situation in the West Bank not as one of permanent subjugation but as only a temporary problem involving “disputed territory.” And if the ostensible goal is a Palestinian state, this inevitably muddies the issue of Palestinian rights and Palestinian life under Israeli rule. Why get agitated about the details of the Palestinians’ lives today, the Israelis can say, when if the Palestinians just stop terrorizing and start negotiating they can have a state of their own? Indefinitely maintaining the illusion of wanting a two-state solution is a reason Netanyahu—despite the willingness of some in his party and coalition to let the cat out of the bag regarding their true intentions—has stopped short of steps that would clearly kill off the two-state solution. That is why his recent “punishment” of the Palestinians involving expansion of settlements into the critical E1 zone involved the initiation of planning and zoning but may never lead to actual building.

Pillar makes a point that Ali Abunimah made years ago: that the two state solution as conceived is a form of apartheid, of segregating Palestinians into reserves so as to preserve a Jewish majority in the remaining territory. South Africans couldn’t get away with it, but Israel has. As Pillar writes, “By cordoning off—and periodically clobbering—the patch of blockaded misery known as the Gaza Strip, Jewish Israelis can remain a majority in the rest of the land they control. That is not something that white South Africans could ever hope for.”

Abrams understands that this is now the goal: limited Palestinian sovereignty in a ministate, so that no one can complain about apartheid. That’s why his battle with Rudoren is so important.

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23 Responses

  1. William Burns
    William Burns
    December 20, 2012, 12:33 pm

    You mean, of course, “convicted felon Eliott Abrams.”

    • Krauss
      December 20, 2012, 3:23 pm

      Abrams understands that this is now the goal: limited Palestinian sovereignty in a ministate, so that no one can complain about apartheid. That’s why his battle with Rudoren is so important.

      Good analysis, this is the mainstream pro-Apartheid position. By keeping the allure of the 2SS forever alive, and always slamming the Palestinians for backing away from a process they know is stacked against them, they can attack the Palestinians as ‘rejectionists’.

      The only problem is that, at some level, you need to give. At least occassionally.
      And Israel can’t even evacuate Migron. A tiny colony of about a dozen families.

      The neocons won’t be able to control the Israeli impulse. And Bibi will be outmanoeuvered from the right. Now, even Feiglin is becomming an MK.

      The illusion will be shattered, not by American liberals(especially Gentile ones like James Rule and his sickening weakness in debating the soft racist Michael Walzer), but by the actions of the right-wing in Israel.

  2. Don
    December 20, 2012, 12:56 pm

    I realize this might be a minor issue…but then again maybe not…

    Jodi Rudoren was strongly criticized on this web site just within the last month or two; and it struck me as quite unfair. I don’t think this woman has even the tiniest malicious impulse in her entire personality.

    If she can tell the truth about what is happening over there…and stand up to Elliott Abrams in the process…well, that’s pretty impressive, no?

    • annie
      December 20, 2012, 7:01 pm

      in many ways i am impressed with her don. give credit where credit is due. phil gave it to her here, but she deserved what he wrote about her before. she blew it on ho hum (and i could list other ways). because of her position as bureau chief we should constantly hold her feet to the fire, that’s not mean, it’s prudent. but when she gets something right, it’s also worth noting.

      • Mooser
        December 20, 2012, 7:30 pm

        “(The Israelis also understand this; it’s precisely why this area was chosen at this time.)”

        Yes, that is a big difference. A context, and willing to extrapolate a malicious Israeli intent. Maybe it just not possible to meet the Israelis three-quarters of the way anymore

    • marc b.
      marc b.
      December 21, 2012, 9:06 am

      don, many people, including myself, have a basic problem with her assignment in the first instance. by any objective journalistic standard she simply isn’t qualified to be the jerusalem bureau chief for one of the most important news organizations in the world. and although i wouldn’t p*ss on abrams if he were on fire, he’s right about her inexperience and ineptitude. in my opinion she was selected in large part because of her combined lack of experience and ambition, which makes her a ‘manageable’ commodity, and because she’s not ethan bronner, whose connections to eretz israel became embarassing even for the NYT. (i don’t think the NYT could risk having bronner in place after the latest atrocity, given his gross bias and indifference to the facts exhibited after cast lead.) and she is working for the NYT, correct? do you think that institution has a fundamental interest in objective reporting from israel/palestine, or does it have other motives? someone in her position shouldn’t be given credit for belatedly stumbling into a bit of evidence of israel’s divide and conquer and expel strategy. she is to j-street as bronner is to aipac.

  3. gingershot
    December 20, 2012, 1:04 pm

    Jodi Rudoren is taking a lot of flak for being less than an Eitan Bronner

    I was surprised to see her in Gaza during the latest Israeli attack but like everyone else dismayed by her almost unbelievably Israeliocentric racist dehumanizations of her ‘experience at the zoo’

    It’s like the nytimes has her on a leash now – chaperoning her Twitter account till she grows up and forcing embarrassingly retractions to her stories that were correct the first time.

    It seems like they are forcing her out or forcing to step up as Frankenstein’s bride of Bronner

    Show any cowardice or caving to the Lobby and they’ll be asking you why you didn’t show you loved us today

    • piotr
      December 21, 2012, 12:00 am

      The latest retraction was a non-retraction. It was conceded that after planned Israeli annexations “technically there would be a connection”. In my view, Rudoren showed the type of biased that merely reflects the background but not an agenda.

      Of course, if we praise her too much, that guarantees some trouble for her. We should strive to be more gracious that Mr. Abrams who could not possibly be more patronizing while using polite language. His post really reads as if the sentence on “pea brained cow” was deleted with utmost reluctance.

  4. W.Jones
    December 20, 2012, 1:27 pm

    One Israeli leader responded, last year I think, that Palestinians should have a facebook state if they went ahead with their UN bid. In fact, this is probably how some of them view the 2 State Solution. A real state in control in the west half and a “state” like Palau or Scotland in the east side, with no army or real possession over disputed territory like the Jordan river shore or settlements areas.

    So the “2 State Solution” would be a compliant “state” on the east side: an institutionalization of the current situation, which Jstreet’s Ben Ami was told in a debate some months ago (was it with Crystal?), was fine.

  5. HarryLaw
    December 20, 2012, 1:31 pm

    “A mini state” or more likely “mini states” with no real sovereignty or control of borders, air space etc, surrounded by Israeli settlements is the Israeli negotiating strategy at the moment, in other words Bantustans or I think “prisons” would be a better word, but even this is not the Israelis end game, a slow attrition of Palestinians from the West Bank, with conditions like those in Gaza imposed on the WB, the Israelis can easily arrange this, or forcible transfer, the US, Canada and some other western nations would probably go along with any Israeli crime, well they have so far, the question is will the electorates in those countries let their governments and Israel get away with it?

    • southernobserver
      December 20, 2012, 6:06 pm

      this comment cannot be emphasized enough; this is the prison-state + explusion solution.

    • Dutch
      December 20, 2012, 6:14 pm

      Exactly. A second and a third Gaza are in the making, and I believe it would be a good thing to just call it that way. Maybe by that comparison people will understand what’s going on and coming up.

    • Hostage
      December 21, 2012, 10:21 am

      “A mini state” or more likely “mini states” with no real sovereignty or control of borders, air space etc, surrounded by Israeli settlements is the Israeli negotiating strategy at the moment

      The Palestinians asked for the status upgrade at the UN to transform the situation from a strictly political one into one based upon international law and political legitimacy. They promised that they wouldn’t go straight to the ICC after the vote, but that was 6,000 housing tenders ago.

      Now the Zionists are gearing-up for a backlash in the ICC and engaging in more revisionist history. The way they remember it, the Palestinians promised they would not pursue ICC action against Israelis. See “Israel: Palestinians power-drunk” (Foreign Ministry warns PA’s pledge to take far-reaching steps against Israel if Right wins elections is ‘delusional and suicidal’; Jerusalem gears for possible ICC backlash),7340,L-4322837,00.html

  6. Les
    December 20, 2012, 2:04 pm

    The Times bias we all know about. The attack by Abrams is really a message to Rudoren that she must not let facts get in the way of her assignment, a message that might as easily have come from the Ochs and/or the Sulzbergers. Will Rudoren accept her straitjacket?

  7. DICKERSON3870
    December 20, 2012, 3:05 pm

    RE: “[I]t is important to neocons [like Elliott Abrams] to assert that the two-state solution is alive. They know that this is an important battle in the American mainstream discourse. For if the two-state solution is dead, then we are entering into an apartheid struggle in all the land between the river and the sea.” ~ Weiss

    *HENCE, FROM ELLIOTT ABRAMS, The Washington (Neocon) Post, 04/08/09:

    [EXCERPT] . . . Is current and recent settlement construction creating insurmountable barriers to peace? A simple test shows that it is not. Ten years ago, in the Camp David talks, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat approximately 94 percent of the West Bank, with a land swap to make up half of the 6 percent Israel would keep. According to news reports, just three months ago, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered 93 percent, with a one-to-one land swap. In the end, under the January 2009 offer, Palestinians would have received an area equal to 98 to 98.5 percent of the West Bank (depending on which press report you read), while 10 years ago they were offered 97 percent. Ten years of settlement activity would have resulted in a larger area for the Palestinian state. . .

    SOURCE –

    P.S. Elliott Abrams has totally convinced me [by the sheer power of his (il)logic and his very impressive math skills] to wholeheartedly support the Israeli settlement project in the West Bank.
    As I understand it, the ‘Abrams Principle’ stands for the proposition that more Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank will result in a larger area for the Palestinian state. That’s why I say: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” with the settlement actvity; so as to result in the largest Palestinian state possible (from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River), no matter what that state is called. Fiat justitia! ( “Let Justice Be Done!” )

    • DICKERSON3870
      December 20, 2012, 3:07 pm

      P.P.S. FROM ‘RIGHT WEB’/IPS [Elliott Abrams]:

      (EXCERPT) . . . [Elliott] Abrams is best known for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal. He was indicted by a special prosecutor for intentionally deceiving Congress about the Reagan administration’s role in supporting the Contras—including his own central role in the Iran-Contra arms deal. In this deal, national security staff led by Oliver North brokered the sale of weapons from Israel to Iran in exchange for Iran helping broker the release of six Americans held hostage by Hezbollah. Some of the money made from the sale was channeled to the U.S.-backed and -organized Contras, who were spearheading a counterrevolution against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Congress had prohibited U.S. government assistance to the Contras because of their pattern of human rights abuses.
      At the time of his involvement, Abrams was the assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, working under George Shultz. Abrams pleaded guilty to two lesser offenses (including withholding information from Congress) to avoid a trial and a possible jail term. Throughout the proceedings, Abrams denied knowledge of the NSC and CIA programs to support the Contras. He blamed Congress for the deaths of two U.S. military members shot down by the Sandinistas in an illegal, clandestine arms supply operation over Nicaragua. He [Elliott Abrams] described the legal proceedings against him as “Kafkaesque” and called his prosecutors “filthy bastards” and “vipers.” . . . [18]


    • Stephen Shenfield
      Stephen Shenfield
      December 20, 2012, 7:50 pm

      In interpreting these “percentages of the West Bank” you have to bear in mind that the area referred to as “the West Bank” is not fixed and does not correspond to the whole of the West Bank, only to those bits that Israel has not yet siphoned off into the enormous “Greater Jerusalem” or some other category. So the gradually rising percentages are calculated on a rapidly shrinking base. The real percentage of the West Bank on offer always declines.

      • piotr
        December 21, 2012, 5:26 am

        I remember a heated dispute if the army of Saddam Hussein needed half an hour preparation to launch a barrage with chemical munitions or a few hours, and one expert had his opinion heavily distorted toward half an hour and committed suicide. Of course, it was a total hobgoblin, twaddle, etc., there were no chemical missiles, no chemical munitions, no bio weapons etc. Nada, zip, zilch.

        This business of 93% or 94% or whatever is the same. The correct answer is big round ZERO. One can debate if offers of Barak and Omert were genuine (I doubt it, but it is a complicated issue), but the current government refused at least twice to present any offer of the final status. And it is clear that the ruling coalition would collapse if there was any disclosure of intentions of relinquishing control of some square inches of Eretz Israel.

        Of course, reconfiguring New York State by taking away 1/2 of Manhattan and compensating with pieces of Mojave Desert of the same area is not something that would make New Yorkers happy. But engaging in that discussion is absurd absent any indications from the members of the current Cabinet which is probably the same as the next — except for some indicted felons — that such an exchange is contemplated, or giving ANY control to Palestinians. And plenty of statements to the contrary, by Foreign Minister, chairman of World Likud (I guess Danny Danon will be promoted to Exalted Titan and Galactic Plenipotentiary) and others.

  8. piotr
    December 20, 2012, 4:55 pm

    When we discuss what Abrams say, it is worthwhile to remember that he is not a “regular Zionist” but an extremist. As is his lovely spouse (Bad) Rachel Abrams who so charmingly proposed to throw “Hamas terrorist” to the sea to be consumed by sharks and stargazers (the later showed her limited understanding of marine biology, needless to say, the whole proposal was moronic anyway you would look at it).

    Zionist extremist do not envisage ANY peace agreement that would result with some kind of “viable” Palestinian state. Thus everything that Abrams spouts about geography is a prattle. For example, after annexations that he heartily endorses in Jerusalem area it would still be possible to get from Ramallah to Bethlehem through Jordan valley region. But Israeli extremists (basically, 75% of the Israeli-Jewish political spectrum) do not want to relinquish Jordan valley either. No peace talks are possible on that basis. Thus the current (and future) GoI proposed to spend initial parts of the talks about “other issues” like water or “incitement”. As if they were inclined to give PA more water or curtail incitement campaigns about “culture of death” etc. Their vision of co-existence of Palestinians reminds me a [n obscure] joke “Son, if you will behave well Dad will have a beer” [and if not, he will beat you up, this is how fathers handled small children in good old days]

    Concerning the naivete of Rudoren, was she deluded in thinking that E1 area is to the east of the Green Line and thus settling Israelis there is a crime, or at least, “problematic”? You will not get any government other than GoI saying that it is not (to be precise, many governments like USA, if asked directly, will say something incomprehensible or nothing at all).

    The true story is that North America and EU governments go to heroic lengths not to notice Israeli violations or treat them with periodic expressions of “concern”. But it is questionable if they can go like that forever, and of course, the prospect of going like that forever is despicable. For semi-obscure reasons E1 is more glaring violation than other projects, I guess it has something to do with “in you face” timing of the announcement.

  9. annie
    December 20, 2012, 7:08 pm

    you’re hot today phil, this was an awesome read.

  10. Mooser
    December 20, 2012, 7:21 pm

    “Abrams has done as much to destroy the two-state solution as anyone, because he had a religious belief in the Jews’ God-given right to Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

    Ouch! I never knew you had such disdain for religious beliefs, that you would call his ideas “religious”. How’s about “quasi-religious” or “an ostensibly religious belief” or just good old “pseudo-religious”? It seems (seems) almost like a gratuitous slap at religion generally. Not everybody does the same thing with the places they have a religious attachment to. Some people think of them as sacred, holy.
    I mean, the beliefs are “religious” according to who? Let me guess, Zionist Rabbis?

  11. piotr
    December 20, 2012, 11:38 pm

    I must admit that my modest media budget includes Mondoweiss and New York Times. Not only does NYT have intrepid Ms. Rudoren (my knowledge of English is limited, but “intrepid” seems to be attached to the name of a reporter we like) but also decent business news, crossword puzzles and absolute gems of editorials. Today, a special feature, “The Fading Mideast Peace Dream”. After a little jeremiad the editorial concludes: “At a minimum, President Obama should be exhorting both sides to halt retaliatory measures. Arab and European leaders also need to show leadership. This is not a problem that will fix itself. ”

    I must admit that this ending is too much for my language skills. Leaders have to show leadership… This close to Christmas it may mean lords leaping and ladies dancing. Ten lord leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight prime ministers exhorting, seven presidents meeting, and an emir broadcasting from his little peninsula.

  12. Hostage
    December 21, 2012, 9:44 am

    Plainly though, it is important to neocons to assert that the two-state solution is alive. They know that this is an important battle in the American mainstream discourse. For if the two-state solution is dead, then we are entering into an apartheid struggle in all the land between the river and the sea.

    I understand where you are coming from, but the only case where an international court has ever addressed the issue of apartheid was the case of occupied Namibia. Nothing prevents the occupied state of Palestine from asking the ICC to investigate evidence of the crime of apartheid. In fact, the written submissions and findings of fact in the Wall case are pretty unassailable evidence that Israeli officials have already been found to be responsible for committing many, if not all, of the constituent acts of the crime of apartheid. The Zionist refusal to permit anything other than a limited exercise of Palestinian sovereignty in a fraction of the territory happens to be one of those criminal acts.

    The principle finding in both the Namibia and Palestine cases was that an illegal occupation regime of administration was being used to violate the right of self-determination and nearly every other basic human right. That’s not a winning legal or political strategy.

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