Thursday, June 10, 2021

Between "One-Sided" and "Equating", and Other Curmudgeonly Thoughts

So there's another Ilhan Omar thing in the news. I'm in Portland, and having a very nice trip thank you very much, and most certainly do not have time to give this any real attention even though it is pushing all my curmudgeonly buttons.

The short version: Referring to a discussion she had with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken regarding ICC investigations in war crimes which included inquiries into cases involving the U.S., Israel, Hamas, Afghanistan, and the Taliban, Omar tweeted that:

We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. … We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”

This generated a public response from 12 Jewish Democrats who asked Omar to "clarify" her remarks:

Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided. Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and contemptible organizations that engage in terrorism at best discredits one’s intended argument and at worst reflects deep-seated prejudice.

The United States and Israel are imperfect and, like all democracies, at times deserving of critique, but false equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups. We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the US and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban.

And in turn, Rep. Omar provided said clarification:

On Monday, I asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about ongoing International Criminal Court investigations. To be clear: the conversation was about accountability for specific incidents regarding those ICC cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel. I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial system.

Framed that way, I might have ventured that this was a success story. Rep. Omar issued a perhaps awkwardly worded tweet; she was asked to "clarify" her views; she did so. Huzzah!

But of course, life is never so simple, and so in the midst of this we had people making claims of antisemitism and Islamophobia and silencing and double-standards. This Is The Bad Place.

So -- a few thoughts:

Thought #1: A common refrain I've heard many times from pro-Israel sorts is that they're fine with criticizing Israel, of course they're fine with criticizing Israel, it's slanderous to say they're not fine with criticizing Israel; but the criticism can't be one-sided criticism, it needs to be clear that Hamas commits wrongs worth criticizing too. Which, sure, that makes sense. Except that it often seems that if one does criticize both sides, then the fact of criticizing both sides will itself be indicted -- this time for "equating" the two (this is the mirror image of those who assert that any mention of Hamas misdeeds represents an illegitimate blurring of the "power dynamics" between Israel and Palestine, acting as if there are "two sides" to the conflict).  Such persons don't really object to "one-sidedness" -- they love one-sidedness, they just want the one-side to be the other side.

Indeed, the cynic might wonder whether the only time criticism of Israel is legitimate is when it's one-sided, because only then do we get the litany of affirmations agreeing that "criticism" is legitimate so long as it's not "one-sided". If one comes out of the gate with the "two-sided" criticism, those invocations go mysteriously mute in favor of complaints about "equation". That inconsistency is a problem.

Thought #2: A lot of people have been sharing a Mehdi Hasan tweet where he compares what Omar said to Trump's infamous "You think our country's so innocent?" retort to condemnations of Russian human rights atrocities. As far as Republicans go, that's a fine hypocrisy argument; but as with all hypocrisy arguments it cuts both ways -- the standard Democratic view of Trump's statement was not to say "hey, when he's right he's right" but rather to condemn an alarming failure of perspective. And to Hasan's credit, he cops to this and says forthrightly that "once you take out all the nakedly partisan pointscoring and thinskinned patriotic chestbeating, Trump's point is right." But folks who aren't willing to go down that road should think more carefully about their arguments.

Thought #3: Someone suggested on Twitter that Omar, insofar as she calls out human rights violations from sources that would normally be taboo in American politics (such as, say, American violations), stands out for being consistent in a way other politicians aren't. But I'm not sure that's quite right. It's true that Omar calls out violations in places many other politicians don't, but its also true that Omar can be weirdly reticent to call out human rights violations in places many other politicians wouldn't hesitate (see: her "present" vote on the Armenian genocide resolution). So perhaps it's fairer to say she's inconsistent in an atypical way -- albeit an atypicality that is very much aligned with a particular style of leftist politics associated with her base.

Thought #4: We saw a lot of claims from Omar's defenders that the criticism of her on this issue was itself a case of racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, or these all in combination -- a double-standard where women who look like her and have her background are jumped on by mobs baying for blood whilst other politicians of different identities are given infinite benefit of the doubt. I have more sympathy for this argument than one might expect. But, having read the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism I now know that both claimed double-standards and seemingly excessive vitriol and attention devoted to members of or entities associated with marginalized groups are not valid signifiers of bigotry, even if one disagrees with them on the merits, and that asserting otherwise is itself an attempt to silence free speech. It's nice to have that cleared up.

Thought #5: I said I'm a curmudgeon above, but I'm a curmudgeon with a heart of gold, and what that means in practice is that what I'm most curmudgeonly about is what I see as unnecessary fighting. So my main takeaway is this: Omar's original point was not unreasonable. The Jewish Democrats letter asking for clarification was also not unreasonable. And Omar's response to that letter was also, also not unreasonable. Neither "side" did anything that was worth me spending a millisecond thinking about any of this during my first "trip" in a year and a half.

So, to everyone else, I'll quote a sadly disgraced former jurist who nonetheless was good with the bon mot: "The parties are advised to chill." And let me enjoy my Portland trip in peace, dammit!

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

We're Going To Die in Portland!

Tomorrow, Jill and I are headed off to Portland. This time it's just an onboarding/apartment hunting trip -- we're returning to Chicago on Sunday, and not actually moving until August. But by the end of this trip, I'll be officially started as an assistant professor at Lewis & Clark!

"We're Going To Die in Portland" refers to something Jill said shortly after I accepted the job at Lewis & Clark. We've been extremely mobile in our relationship, including one period where we lived in five cities in five years. That's because every single job I've had since graduating Carleton has been temporary -- either explicitly (as in a fixed term clerkship), or implicitly (as in my stint at Covington when I knew I would leave when an academic opportunity has emerged). This job, by contrast, is of indefinite duration -- there is a very real chance we'll be spending the rest of our lives in Portland. And Jill expressed that realization by saying, in a voice of pure wonderment tinged even with a little excitement: "I'm going to die in Portland!"

Monday, June 07, 2021

The Trump Post-Election Play Comes to Israel

While by all appearances Bibi has lost control of the Prime Minister's post, it ain't over until someone else's butt is physically in the chair. And until that moment happens, Netanyahu is taking a page from Trump's book on how to lose an election: raging incitement, spurious claims of fraud, and ramping up violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned violent rhetoric on “every side” of the political spectrum Sunday but also claimed that Israel’s incoming government, which will replace him, is the result of “the greatest electoral fraud in the history of the country.”

Netanyahu’s speech came as the head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service warned of a rise in rhetoric that encourages violence. A pro-Netanyahu lawmaker compared two of his rivals to “terrorists” facing a “death sentence,” and members of the incoming coalition have received death threats in recent days.

At least one American Middle East analyst compared Netanyahu’s words to former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric ahead of Jan. 6. 

One of Netanyahu's allies, Itamar Ben-Gvir (you may remember him for having a portrait of the terrorist Baruch Goldstein hanging in his house) is promising to lead a march of right-wing extremists through Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem in the obvious hopes of provoking another spate of inter-ethnic violence that might derail the new government. The march has already been deemed illegal, but Ben-Gvir says he's going to exploit his parliamentary immunity (thanks, Bibi, for shepherding him into the Knesset) to lead it anyway.

Why is Bibi doing this? Well, obviously, he's desperate to hang on to power by any means necessary -- that's been clear for awhile. But the reason he's adopting these tactics is because Trump demonstrated that they could work. They didn't, in Trump's case, and they probably won't in Bibi's either. But they came far closer to working than anyone should be comfortable with -- close enough so that Bibi's willing to give them a shot, consequences be damned.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Bye Bye Bibi

Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, has officially announced he has successfully formed a governing coalition that will send long-reigning Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to the back benches. The coalition is an eclectic mix of left, center, and right-wing parties, with Lapid and Naftali Bennett rotating as PM (Bennett will go first). I have plenty of thoughts on the new government, but I've been resisting writing on it until it actually happened. Part of me still doesn't want to jinx it until a new butt is physically sitting in the Prime Minister's chair. But at this point, I think it's safe to say it's happening.

So -- what do you need to know about the new team running the show in Israel?
  • Everyone and their grandma has said "don't be too quick to celebrate Bennett as PM -- he's even more right-wing than Bibi!" And at one level, they're right: anyone on the left is solely celebrating Bibi being out, not Bennett being in. That being said -- it's a big deal that Bibi is out, and that's very much worth celebrating.
  • In 2021, is Bennett more right-wing than Bibi? I'm actually not sure. This was absolutely a true statement five years ago, but much of it was based off the fact that Bennett was expressly opposed to a Palestinian state while Bibi was occasionally only implicitly opposed to it. That seems like a relatively thin reed to me. And meanwhile, Bibi has surged further and further into the recesses of right-wing authoritarianism, which is part of why Bennett broke with him. Someone made the analogy that Bibi is like Trump and Bennett is like Pence -- who is more conservative of the two? Depends on how you measure it. Bennett's probably more of a true-believer, while Bibi is more of an opportunist -- but in his capacity as an opportunist Bibi broke through more taboos and barriers than many thought possible. I don't think it's clear-cut anymore.
  • It's also possible -- not guaranteed, or even likely, but possible -- that Bennett will moderate now that he's in charge. As Ariel Sharon reportedly put it: "things look different from over here." The trajectory of right-wing leaders tacking to the center once they see things from the top is not uncommon in recent Israeli history -- see Sharon, Ehud Olmert, and Tzipi Livni -- and perhaps Bennett will follow, if only by a few steps. I'm dubious, but it's not out of the question.
  • Irrespective of Bennett's own politics, the bigger constraint on him is that his faction is certainly the most conservative member of the new governing coalition. There's a big difference between someone like Bennett being smack in the middle of the ideological pack (as he'd have been in a Bibi government) versus someone like Bennett being at the right-most edge of his cohort (as he is in this government).
  • Speaking of, let's talk about the rest of the coalition. The biggest news: an Arab party will supporting the government from the inside, in what I believe is a first in Israeli history. Irony bit number one: it's the most conservative of the Arab parties -- the Islamist United Arab List, headed by Mansour Abbas. Irony bit number two: Bibi probably paved the way for this, as in his desperate search for 61 votes he courted the UAL, thus legitimizing such courtship for other parties as well.
  • It is a big, big deal that an Arab party will be part of the government. In recent years, the Arab public in Israel has started flexing its muscle in unprecedented ways -- starting, ironically, with Bibi trying to lock them out of politics altogether by raising the electoral threshold. That prompted the diverse Arab blocs to unify into the Joint List, which catapulted them overnight into one of the largest factions in the entire Knesset. Kicking and screaming though they may have been, the Israeli center and left finally seems to have internalized that there's no path to power for them without some support from the Arab parties. And even though the UAL broke from the Joint List this past cycle, it managed to squeak back into the Knesset and now has a place in government. Priorities include increasing funding for Arab towns, recognizing Bedouin villages in the Negev, and ending underpolicing (yes, underpolicing) of Arab communities. For what it's worth, Bennett has always taken the view that Palestinian equality can be bought off with economic development. Morally repulsive, yes, but it means he likely will be perfectly receptive to these demands.
  • Another significant accomplishment for Israel's Arab community -- Meretz's Issawi Frej looks set to become Minister of Regional Cooperation. This would, I believe, mark just the second time an Arab MK has had a ministry with portfolio in Israel's history. Likewise, Pnina Tamano-Shata, a member of the Ethiopian Beta Israel community, looks to be on tap to be Minister of Immigrant Absorption -- and position that is important both substantively and symbolically for her community.
  • Two other minister positions worth noting. Labor leader Merav Michaeli -- perhaps her party's last, best hope at staying relevant -- will be Transportation Minister. That may not seem like a big deal, but settler leaders are in a panic that Michaeli won't approve various new highways slashing through the West Bank to connect far-flung settlements with Israel proper. Good -- let them stew. In less happy, though inevitable, news, Bennett's number two, Ayelet "Eau d'Fascism" Shaked will be heading the Interior Ministry.
  • So much has happened in Israel that we've all almost forgotten why Bibi was fighting like a rabid weasel to stay in charge. It's not (just) because he's power-hungry -- it's that he's under indictment, and was desperate to have an immunity law passed that could save him and his wife from prison. That's not happening now. Shed a tear if you can.
  • Aside from Bibi, who else is on the outside looking in? Most importantly, the fascists from Otzma Yehudit and National Union that Bibi recruited to try and shore up his right-flank -- thank goodness. But also the Haredi parties, Shas and UTJ. These two parties had historically been ideologically "flexible" and so typically found themselves in most government coalitions -- give them the rabbinate, army exemptions, and subsidies, and they were perfectly happy to go along with whoever was in charge. But in the past few years they have more overtly aligned themselves with the political right, and the result is that now they're on the outs facing a government coalition that may be the most inclined towards supporting religious pluralism Israel has ever seen. The prospect of substantive reforms along this axis is genuinely exciting. And it's also possible that some time in the wilderness will inspire the Shas and UTJ chieftains to rethink whether going all-in with Israel's right-wing is to their benefit.
Ultimately, I have two main takeaways. One is to keep expectations in check. This is not a "left-wing" government, it's not going to revolutionize Israel, and it's unlikely to make significant headway in bringing peace and justice for Palestinians. But the second is that this is a real and material step forward along many dimensions, and can be legitimately celebrated. There's a branch of the commentariat eeyoring about this development mostly because they are ideologically committed to the notion that nothing that happens in Israel can be good news. They are wrong -- this is good news. It's not spectacular, it's not paradise, but it's good news, and can be celebrated as good news.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

What To Over-Extrapolate From the NM-01 Special Election

Democrats easily held New Mexico's first congressional district in a special election tonight, with state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D) currently leading state Sen. Mark Moores (R) by a 62-34 margin. The seat was vacant after former Rep. Deb Haaland was appointed Secretary of the Interior.

The result is not a surprise. The NM-01 is a solid blue seat. But in the grand election coverage tradition of over-extrapolating from a single data point, what can we learn?

The reason people were paying attention to this district was not because anyone seriously expected the GOP to flip the seat. It was the margins that mattered, and in particular, whether Democratic turnout would fall off with Donald Trump no longer serving as our common enemy (the other question was whether Republicans could effectively leverage a "rising crime is the fault of defund the police" narrative). Mid-term and off-cycle election turnout has long been the Democratic bête noire, with the conventional wisdom being that Team Blue struggled more to get its voters to the non-presidential polls compared to the GOP. Hence, Dave Wasserman set the following benchmarks for what should count as a "win" in this blue seat:
  • Win by >15: Dems should be very happy
  • Win by 10-15: about what we might expect
  • Win by <10: sign of a Dem turnout problem post-Trump
For comparison's sake, Biden won this district by 23 in 2020, and Haaland (with the benefit of incumbency and Biden's coattails) won it by 16.

Stansbury is currently up by 24 -- not just blowing Wasserman's benchmarks out the water, but overperforming Haaland and at the moment even Biden (it's possible these margins might narrow a bit as the last few votes come in).

This makes me wonder if we might be missing a shift in the relevant dynamics. Is it still the case that Democrats are disadvantaged by off-cycle turnout dynamics? With the almost complete transition of party polarization away from class and towards education, I wonder if the opposite may be true -- if Democrats might start being better-positioned to hang onto their voters in low-turnout elections (high-education voters also tend to be high-turnout voters). I've been flagging this possibility for awhile now, and count this as another data point. One bonus bit of irony is that this likely means many of the GOP voter suppression techniques will actually end up backfiring -- doing more to deter their own base than the Black Democratic voters they're so nakedly targeting.

In addition, I think it's worth asking whether Trump on the ballot was doing more to boost GOP turnout compared to Democratic turnout -- and, in turn, whether the lack of Trump topping the ticket will see more of a red fall-off than a blue one. In the above post, I noted how the needle barely moved on Texas in 2020 not because Democrats failed to get their voters out -- they did, and then some -- but because Trump managed to match increased blue turnout step-for-step. Take Trump out the equation, and it's far from clear the GOP can rally its base as effectively.

All of this points -- and again, "points" is very much about over-extrapolation -- to the GOP being the one to struggle mightily as we head into 2022. Midterms are often a referendum on the presidential incumbent, and Biden's approval line has been ramrod straight throughout his term at around 53%. If he can hold onto that, and benefit from a post-pandemic recovery, he and the Democrats will be very well-positioned for a good outcome next November.

Oh, Farts

I've studiously refrained from commenting on that Tablet article by Eve Barlow (in lieu of a link, please send flowers to the gravesite that marks Tablet's death as a reputable journalistic enterprise). I've been blocked by Barlow since before it was cool (as best I can tell, it's because she was unhappy that I revealed the fabrications in a different "that Tablet article"), and suffice to say I do not find her especially impressive as a public thinker. She has plenty of bad takes, and she has nobody to blame but herself that people recognize her bad takes as bad.

Moreover (this is someone else's point, but alas I can't find it), I'm old enough to remember when people were aghast at the disrespect shown when immigrant detention centers were referred to as concentration camps; those persons seem oddly less perturbed at describing social media harassment as a "pogrom". It is hardly an accident -- but still embarrassing -- that here, of all places, some amount of hyperbole or metaphor drawing on the well of violent antisemitic oppression is accepted.

But having said all that, I have been a bit uncomfortable with how this discourse is being played out. For starters, we're seeing a clean violation of my ninth rule of good internet citizenship:

Resist pile-ons. Yes, accountability is important. And yes, each individual contribution to the pile-on would typically (not always -- see death threats) be proportionate and reasonable if isolated and placed in the context of an individual, face-to-face encounter. But aggregated together, they quickly can spiral out of control, and frequently magnify all the internet's worst qualities.

That's definitely in play here. Yes, Barlow is a deeply unsympathetic actor. But eventually, wave after wave of people bombarding here with farting puns and icons and whatever else really does cease to become "accountability" or "critique" and just turns into a harassment campaign. Likewise, I'm sure that anyone whose name starts with an "-ar" sound has gotten a few stupid "fart" puns from some of the internet's more juvenile actors.* But the difference between a couple stray morons who can be easily shrugged off and harassment is quantity, and there are people who should know better who are eliding that distinction.

Most importantly, there is a great risk -- I think it's already happening -- of people functionally sending a green light to a particular form of style of antisemitic harassment. There are, it should not be controversial to say, plenty of trolls online who like nothing better than to harangue and harass Jewish public figures. And such persons are very much on the look out for styles of harassment which will garner them praise, or at least defense. If there's a way that they can make Jews miserable and be lauded for it, they'll seize upon it faster than you can say "status-production". There is little doubt that this is driving a non-trivial portion of the pile-on -- the raw glee that one can indulge in the decadence of making a public Jewish figure miserable as a Jew, and feel righteous in doing so, and be lauded as righteous for doing so. Does it help that Barlow is an unsympathetic figure? Sure. Does that suffice to explain the totality of what's happening here? No.

And -- putting aside the point that Barlow, as unsympathetic as she is, doesn't deserve harassment -- the utility of a mode of harassment that gets lauded rather than condemned will not stay confined to the likes of Barlow. While I expect this particular moment to peter out sooner rather than later, it certainly was not hard to spot "fart" responses targeting other prominent Jews as a means of demeaning them or denigrating their experiences with antisemitism. Some of the targeted Jews were also raising hyperbolic or foolish points. Others were being entirely reasonable. But the commonality, the trigger that made this response responsive was solely that the targets were Jewish or Jewish-identified, and the belief by their "interlocutors" that if they jumped on them in this way, they'd be immunized from any condemnation or critique. That should worry us.

The fact is, the mechanics of internet harassment and brigading campaigns are not new or novel at this point, nor is the easy dismissal of them by calling them "juvenile" or "just words", or insisting on the  recipient's need to "grow a thicker skin". In all cases, there will be a mix-in of explicit calls for violence or open ethnic, racial, or gendered slurs; but these are the accent points upon a base of "replies" which do not do any of that, replies which, taken as individual, can and should be easily dismissed, but as part of a larger whole and as a constant drumbeat, become intolerable. It happens to people we like, and it happens to people we don't like. But no matter who the proximate target is, we should be very, very leery of cheering it on.

* The juvenile nature of the retort is part of its insulation -- it feels ridiculous to treat it with any sort of seriousness, and that includes writing this post. This is, in a way, a very literal application of Sartre's warning about the antisemites:

They know that their remarks are frivolous ... But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

When "All" Isn't Enough

The purpose behind "All Lives Matter" was not to include "Black Lives Matter", but in more universalistic fashion. To the contrary, if "All Lives Matter" ever was understood as including Black lives, it would be a failure as a slogan. "All Lives Matter" exists entirely as a reflection of conservative rage at the idea that Black people and other minorities might feel included and valued; if a motto of that form ever actually did start to carry the public meaning of including non-White Americans, the polemicists who had been pushing it yesterday would tomorrow rebel against it just as hard.

“When we choose to isolate and elevate one group of people over another, that’s discrimination,” said Supervisor Craig McEwen, a retired police officer who is white [and voted against the resolution].

[...] 

The “community for all” story began last summer when a small group of county officials began drafting a resolution they hoped would acknowledge disparities faced by local people of color. The original title, No Place for Hate, was deemed too inflammatory, so it was renamed A Community for All. 

[...]

“They’re creating strife between people labeling us as racist and privileged because we’re white,” Supervisor Arnold Schlei, a 73-year-old retired veal farmer who has been on the county board for 11 years, said in an interview. “You can’t come around and tell people that work their tails off from daylight to dark and tell them that they got white privilege and they’re racist and they’ve got to treat the Hmongs and the coloreds and the gays better because they’re racist. People are sick of it.”

He and others opposing the resolution argued that to acknowledge disparities faced by people of color would tilt social advantages to their benefit. The word “equity,” which was included in the resolution, served as a trigger for many, who made the false claim that memorializing it as a goal would lead to the county’s taking things from white people to give them to people of color.

Those opposed to the resolution made far-reaching claims about its potential impact. The local Republican Party chairman, Jack Hoogendyk, said the resolution would lead to “the end of private property” and “race-based redistribution of wealth.” Others have argued that there is, in fact, no racism in Marathon County, and even if there was, it’s not the county board’s business to do anything about it.

"A community for all" is semantically virtually identical to "all lives matter". The only difference is not in the words, but in the publicly understood meaning -- the former understood as a measure signaling the inclusion of non-White members, the latter understood as a slogan reacting against the inclusion of Black people. And that difference made all the difference: even though its rhetoric was explicitly a compromise for those for whom "No Place for Hate" was a bridge too far, "A community for all" was opposed with the same fury and fervency as Black Lives Matter was.

And then they have temerity to say racism doesn't exist.

Monday, May 24, 2021

One Quiet Night

Imagine 24 hours of perfect peace and quiet in Israel and Palestine.

By that, I mean a full day with no new provocations, hostilities, or attacks. No rockets, no sniper bullets, no bombings, no stone throwing. No settlement construction, no police raids, no land seizures, no evictions. No riots, no clashes. Everyone can go to their holy sites, their farms, or their workplaces without molestation. The school lesson plans have no incitement, the sermons are about tolerance and co-existence, the radio broadcasts are exclusively on anodyne and boring topics. All interactions between military agents and civilians are civil and courteous. For one full, blissful day and night, everything is peaceful.

It is cliché to say that both Israelis and Palestinians have valid claims of justice that are not, in the status quo, being met by one another. But in our envisioned quiet night, I think one could fairly say that all the tangible valid Israeli claims would be met. Everything that they could justly ask for, they would have -- at least for that day. Maybe not express recognition "as a Jewish state" -- but I'm inclined to think that, in a world where there is complete peace and quiet and no provocations or attacks on Israel of any sort, it doesn't really matter what one's neighbors call you (as Abbas put it, Israel can call itself whatever it wants -- what business is it of mine?). Now, it is of course true that justice occurring for one day does not guarantee its occurrence in perpetuity -- maybe the next day the rockets come back. But at least for that 24 hour period, Israelis would be living in a state of affairs that is, as far as their interests are concerned, just.

Is the same true for Palestinians? The answer is no. Even in our day and night of quiet, Palestinians would still be an unjust situation. They'd still be under occupation. They'd still have no democratic rights in the state that is sovereign over their lives. Those injustices persist even if nobody is actively doing anything new. They are not like the injustices of rocket fire or suicide bombings or even hateful sermons -- they do not require discrete acts of renewed provocations. They simply are. And so while certainly, this day would be better than many other days, it would not represent justice for Palestinians, even within the narrow confines of just those 24 hours.

Why does this matter? Well, for one, it illuminates that while peace is a necessary component of justice, it is not a sufficient one. Simply getting to "peace" -- our one quiet night -- would not in fact necessarily lead to justice for the Palestinian people. If the status quo freezes in place, and from here on out nobody did anything more to make anything worse, what would be frozen would be an unjust state of affairs. This is why so many of those rallying in Israel right now for "peace" are doing so expressly by saying we cannot return to "normal". "Normal" -- insofar as it refers to the status quo, but with quiet -- is not justice. We need a new normal.

There is a related point as well, that's perhaps more uncomfortable. The logic of the above says that in those moments of peace between Israel and Palestine, for however long they last, Israel will have what it wants and deserves, but Palestine will still lack what it wants and deserves. But if Israel has what it wants -- if, from its vantage, the status quo is perfectly fine -- will it be willing to step out and give Palestine what it deserves? For many years, the dogma of the pro-Israel community was "yes, of course." This is the dogma of "we just need a partner." This is the dogma of "as soon as the Arabs put down their weapons, there will be peace."

I don't think we can be so sure. The past few years should give any reasonable observer pause before asserting that will be the case with confidence. Indeed, if your thought to the above hypothetical quiet night was to minimize it because "well, they can always renew their attacks tomorrow", one shows the infirmity of the belief. There will always be the possibility that hostilities renew -- there is no peace deal that can guarantee that away. And so to the extent one forestalls justice until it can be guaranteed that there will never be conflict anytime in the future, one is essentially supporting the indefinite delay of justice.