Andrew Sullivan has posted Dissents of the Day, four comments from pro-Israel readers. I’m going to write about the third one, though arguably the one just above that is equally bad. Both seem to me to exemplify attitudes one commonly finds in many (not all) self-styled liberal Zionists who are also self-styled opponents of occupation. Number three writes:
What’s so maddening and fascinating about me reading you on Israel and Palestine is that I suspect if we boiled down the issues to their core, we would be in total agreement. …
I lived in the West Bank for a year. Security checkpoints are terrible. But I saw, with my own eyes, that they would be loosened – because the army hates having to staff them – and then, within days, a bomb would go off and they would be tightened again. There is a vicious cycle here – with blame to go around
What interests me is that the writer, while undoubtedly sincere in claiming to oppose the occupation, sees the settlements as a reversible real estate deal, not a decades-long policy that wrecks lives and kills people. Apartheid is possible, but still in the future. The only terrorism that registers is violence against Israelis. And Israelis can only fight that terror by maintaining the occupation. The slightest letup and all that wonderful Israeli generosity is rewarded with more Palestinian terror from jihadists and fanatics, supported by a society that glorifies them.
Liberal Zionists often gain credibility in US circles by claiming to be opposed to the occupation, but this seems more like shooting and crying. It’s why the two-state solution, whatever one thinks of it, has never gotten anywhere. As this person sees it, the only leverage the poor helpless Israelis have is their military presence, the occupation itself, and that can only end if the Israelis are completely satisfied there is no danger to themselves. Given that version of reality, it makes no sense to pressure the Israelis. They’re the ones whose lives are on the line. The Palestinians suffer mere inconvenience, something that can be ended whenever they show enough willingness to reassure the Israelis.
In the end, the occupation is not a real human rights violation, not in the same league as terrorism. It’s an act of self defense, in this person’s view, and so one should not expect to see support for pressure on Israel from people who think like this. they are in effect saying that the occupation is bad, but the Israelis have no choice and the Palestinian behavior is much worse. With opponents like that, the occupation doesn’t need supporters.