Sunday, May 29, 2011

So What?

Eric Yoffie asks the key question to Israeli hawks: So what if Palestinians are mostly to blame for the failure of peace talks?
Yes, I tell him, you are right. The Palestinians are at fault, but so what? A UN resolution will pass at the General Assembly in September, recognizing a Palestinian state. Israel’s international position is deteriorating. Economic sanctions might follow. And worse yet, elements of Palestinian leadership are already proposing a one-state solution—a single Jewish/Arab state in Palestine, with equal rights for all. If the proposal is accepted, Jews will become a minority in the new state; if it is rejected, Israel will be portrayed to the world as an apartheid state.

So, I ask, what is the plan? Even if we are completely right and the Palestinians are completely wrong, what do we do now to head off these very real dangers?

No matter how many times I have asked the question, I always get the same answer—which is no answer at all. Shmuel rants and raves; he tells me how unfair this is; he reminds me how we are the victims here. And I tell him: yes, yes, I agree. You are right; the world is an unfair place, especially to the Jews. But, I say, raising my voice, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?

And the fact is that Shmuel doesn’t know. On some level he seems to feel that the current situation can continue indefinitely: Israel, secure in the justice of its cause, will continue to expand old settlements and build new ones. It will depend, as it always has, on the support of the United States. And if we are in trouble, we will rely on the rhetorical brilliance of our Prime Minister. Who knows America better than Bibi?

I'll make an aside here that relying on Bibi to extract one from a dangerous situation is like relying on Wilt Chamberlain to run your chastity clinic.

Anyway. We can parse how much fault in the current arrangement lies with Israelis versus Palestinians. I'd certainly agree that the situation Israel is in is unfair. But Yoffie is right -- so what? You can whine about how unfair the referees are, but if you lose the game, nobody is going to care. So yes, Israel is going to have to be the prime mover here -- not because it is the bad actor, but because that is the state of the world we're in. There's no way around it.

No comments: