Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Understanding Ace Commenter Rich's Comment

So my friend and ace commenter Rich made the following comment on the blog the other day:

Finally, I have to ask why you haven't written about Bebe Netanyahu's outrageous 'betrayal' of Israel yesterday. I remember how excercised you got when Obama did the unthinkable a few months ago and said what every U.S. President since Nixon had said about the 1967 borders being the starting point for negotiations with Palestine. Do you think Netanyahu and Obama are in on this together.
Just wondering.
Well, at first his question beat my pair of jacks, as P. J. O'Rourke used to say. But then I figured out the source material:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly agreed to resume peace talks with the Palestinians using pre-1967 borders as a baseline in exchange for Palestinians agreeing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The Israeli prime minister's acquiescence to a demand he has long rejected – most recently at the White House in May – appears to be an effort to head off a Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations in September.

The concession is part of a formula being floated in meetings with Israelis, Palestinians, the United States, European Union, and Russia in an attempt to secure a deal that would preclude a Palestinian statehood bid at the UN, the Jerusalem Post reports. As part of the deal, Palestinians would accept that the final goal of talks is two states: one Palestinian and one Jewish. That could be problematic for people on both sides: Some 20 percent of citizens in Israel are Arab, and roughly 20 percent of the 2.5 million people living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are Jewish.
If you look at the report from the Christian Science Monitor, there's more than a little wiggle room there. Netanyahu has "reportedly agreed" to the plan. The decision "appears to be an effort to head off a Palestinian statehood bid."

So it's not 100% solid. And as the CSM report continues, there's doubt on the Palestinian side:

Palestinian Authority officials, who have expressed skepticism about the reported concession because Netanyahu has not announced it publicly nor contacted them directly, rejected the possibility of giving up their UN bid, however.

No surprise there -- given the infamous UN declaration that Zionism is racism, there's little reason to doubt that the UN would look favorably at whatever initiative the Palestinians bring forth.

Now, there have been other, more pressing issues that have had my attention in recent days. But since Rich wanted a response, and a keen attention to customer detail is something we espouse in this feature, I offer a few thoughts:

  • I would hope it's clear to everyone that there is a difference between the leader of a sovereign nation making a decision about his nation's security, which is what Netanyahu may or may not have done, and having the leader of another country attempting to impose an outcome, which is what President Obama's speech in May was about. I bet Rich gets the distinction, too.
  • When you talk about the 1967 borders, it's worth remembering that there were 3 fronts in the war. Israel was attacked by the Egyptians, the Palestinians (via Jordan) and by Syria. Israel gave the land it took from Egypt back to the Egyptians a long time ago, when it became evident that the Egyptian government was sincere in wanting peace. Do you sense that the Palestian leadership is sincere?
  • While the West Bank remains the primary bone of contention, the Israeli capture of the Golan Heights in the 1967 war is quite another matter. Given the nature of the Syrian regime, I would say that holding the Golan Heights is pretty crucial to Israeli security.
  • Not to put too fine a point on it, but on most matters I think the UN can pretty much go to hell as far as I'm concerned. They haven't had credibility for decades now.
I don't dispute that there should be a Palestinian state, at some point in the future. Nor would I dispute that it would be a desirable outcome, at some point in the future. At this moment, there's little reason to believe that the individuals who would ostensibly be the leaders of this state are capable of leading a peaceful nation. Which is why, no matter what is reported, Netanyahu will continue to be cagey in how he addresses the matter. My two cents. Hope that helps, my friend.


Gino said...

will let Rich respond, but i want to add:

netanyahu is NOT desirable of a pal state. at all. it serves the israeli interests to have a an angry and whacked pal territory that they can militarily dominate with good excuse when the time comes.

keep in mind: Bibi is a zionist rightwinger. a limit to jewish territory expansion is NOT in their mindset. a pal sate with recognised borders would be the opposite.

as it stands, the zionist right finds peace to not be in its interest. they need the threat from the indigenous population to justify their existence as much as the american left (Democrats) need a black underclass.

keep bibi in context: he's not a hero, not a statesmen, not paving the way for the Messiah to return. he's a politician like any other where 99% of what comes from his mouth is lies and bullshit.

Brad Carlson said...

I bet Rich gets the distinction, too.


Mr. D said...

keep bibi in context: he's not a hero, not a statesmen, not paving the way for the Messiah to return. he's a politician like any other where 99% of what comes from his mouth is lies and bullshit.

We might quibble on the percentages, Gino, but the rest should be evident. I know that some Christians support Israel precisely because they see its existence as evidence that the End Times are near. I've never believed that, though.

As for the other assertion about the aims of the Zionist right, I don't agree, but we'll leave it at that.

Bike Bubba said...

As one who is a Zionist, I don't consider Bibi to be one. He's a secularist whose moral character has come into question more than once--but the Israelis have learned (like Lincoln of Grant) that Bibi will fight those who attack them.

So reported, and gossiping/anonymous, statements about possible territorial concessions by Bibi don't bother me nearly as much as public, named policies by Dear leader, to put it mildly.

(and for what it's worth, since most of Israel is secular, I don't really consider them to be the fulfillment of prophecy, as the Torah grants Israel that land under the condition of obedience to God.....dispensationalism does not mean "everything Israel does is right", but rather that Israel still has a place in God's plan)

Anonymous said...

thanks for the response even if it is more than a little evasive.

You seem to question whether Netenyahu even made the statement. He did:

And I am not naive enough to believe he meant every word of it. EVERYTHING about these talks has been as malleable as warm butter for 4 decades. This is a very long and elaborate negotiation. That wasn't even my point, and I think you know that. I was pointing out how risible the hysteria that yourself, the neocons, and many members, right and left, in Congress had a few months ago when you were all calling the President “anti-Israel” for merely suggesting that the peace process proceed based on a framework that would include the 1967 borders. Something that every Presidential administration for the last several decades has considered a starting point to a deal.

Then you bob and weave a little more with the Golan Heights. Like anyone cares what Assad has to say right now. Come on Mark, this is all about Palestine, and you know it.

Obama’s proposal, and that is all it was, wasn’t news to anyone. Especially Netanyahu, who had released a statement with Hillary Clinton last November calling for negotiations based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps (meaning right of return). So his abrupt about face was nothing but a negotiating point that you seem to have actually embraced. And it has worked, to some extent, because Netanyahu’s latest proposal is now looking like somee kind of concession. It makes me think Bibi's a good negotiator, and the people who bought his mock outrage a few months ago useful idiots.


Mr. D said...

Glad I'm a useful idiot, Rich. I always want to be useful.

Sorry if you think the Golan Heights part is an evasion, too. I would assure you that the Israelis don't see it that way.

I'm going to be perfectly honest with you -- at this point, Israel and its struggles with its nasty neighbors, is waaaaay down the list of things that should concern us.

And again, my main point stands. The U.S. has a role to play in the process, but it isn't to impose a solution. You call what Obama did a "proposal," but it didn't come out that way, in my view. We're free to disagree on that point, and perhaps my disagreement makes me a useful idiot, or a neocon, or some other imprecation. So be it.