Thursday, December 29, 2016

Dog paddling in the Rubicon

Image via tenor.
Thomas P. Friedman, better known as Thomas L. Friedman, Mystax Cabalisticus, is so adorable sometimes. He really is the reasonable, kind-hearted liberal Zionist he'd like everybody else to be, as when he generously characterizes the Israeli prime minister:
Netanyahu is a leader who is forever dog paddling in the middle of the Rubicon, never ready to cross it. He is unwilling to make any big, hard decision to advance or preserve a two-state solution if that decision in any way risks his leadership of Israel’s right-wing coalition or forces him to confront the Jewish settlers, who relentlessly push Israel deeper and deeper into the West Bank.
Oh, please, Tom. Netanyahu is forever sending you selfies where he's posing on a diving board on the opposite bank and you're thinking, "Well, he must have jumped in by now." He hasn't. He never will. He has no interest in your two-state solution, and he never has had. He used to make these vague gestures toward it, to gratify his American patrons, but now he hardly bothers, because he knows the money will never stop flowing no matter what he does. He is stonewalling for the moment when the two-state solution will no longer be possible, some think that moment came quite a while ago, and the Americans will leave him alone, except for the cash.
right now Obama and Kerry rightly believe that Israel is driving drunk toward annexing the West Bank and becoming either a bi-national Arab-Jewish state or some Middle Eastern version of 1960s South Africa, where Israel has to systematically deprive large elements of its population of democratic rights to preserve the state’s Jewish character.
That's more like it. Except just because you're drunk doesn't mean you don't have a plan. That's what the plan is. Stay drunk, on racism and self-pity, as long as you can, until it's too late to do anything about it.
My criticism of Netanyahu is not that he won’t simply quit all the West Bank; it is that he refuses to show any imagination or desire to build workable alternatives that would create greater separation and win Israel global support, such as radical political and economic autonomy for Palestinians in the majority of the West Bank, free of settlements, while Israel still controls the borders and the settlements close to it.
For heaven's sake, he has no desire. It's not that he refuses to show it, it's that it doesn't exist.
More worrisome is the fact that President-elect Donald Trump — who could be a fresh change agent — is letting himself get totally manipulated by right-wing extremists, and I mean extreme. 
Stop it, Tom, you're killing me! "Fresh change agent"! Maybe he could be fresh mozzarella, then you could use him for pizza.

I love how the fact that what now seems to be the permanent Israeli government is committed to never making peace with Palestinians is worrisome, but the fact that this loathsome lump of psychopathic cheese might not turn out to be a "fresh change agent" is more worrisome still. If you have any expectations that President Trump's behavior can be anything other than Republican convention (where by "Republican convention" I mean the view on a given issue adopted by the billionaire donor who cares about that issue the most, in this case casino magnate Sheldon Adelson) plus random error, you really need to discard them.

Trump's evolving views over the past year show his predictable progress from utter ignoramus bringing nothing to the issue but his Art-of-the-Deal self-confidence to totally manipulated tool indistinguishable from any of his 16 Republican rivals.

December 3, 2015:
"A lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal — whether or not Israel's willing to sacrifice certain things," Trump said. "They may not be, and I understand that, and I'm OK with that. But then you're just not going to have a deal.".... "I have my feelings on it, but I'm just not going to discuss it now, because if I end up in the midst of a negotiation, I don't want people saying, 'Well, you can't do it, you're not going to be good, you're biased,' " Trump said. "I want to be very neutral and see if I can get both sides together."
March 10, 2016:
"If I go in, I’ll say I’m pro-Israel and I’ve told that to everybody and anybody that would listen. But I would like to at least have the other side think I’m somewhat neutral as to them, so that we can maybe get a deal done. Maybe we can get a deal. I think it’s probably the toughest negotiation of all time. But maybe we can get a deal done."
May 3, 2016:
Asked whether there should be a pause in new construction – which the Obama administration has pressured Netanyahu's government to observe in order to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table – Trump responded: 'No, I don't think it is, because I think Israel should have – they really have to keep going. They have to keep moving forward.' 
'No, I don't think there should be a pause,' Trump said. 'Look: Missiles were launched into Israel, and Israel, I think, never was properly treated by our country. I mean, do you know what that is, how devastating that is?'
Improperly treated to $4 billion a year? It's really interesting he seems to think Israel is obliged to build illegal housing for its Jewish citizens on stolen land because "missiles were launched"; he may have some fantastical idea that they aren't settlements at all but some kind of military defense installation, and no concept of the geography at all. (H/t Ashley Feinberg.) Or maybe he thinks settlements are lawsuit-resolving deals waiting for him to come in and arbitrate.

December 29, 2016:
“I’m very very strong on Israel. I think that Israel has been treated very very unfairly by a lot of different people. If you look at resolutions in the United Nations … they are up for 20 reprimands and other nations that are horrible places, horrible places that treat people horribly haven’t even been reprimanded. So there is something going on and I think it is very unfair to Israel.”
There is something going on!

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.


Never Ben Better said...

Not much going on in the so-called brain that spewed that nonsense, other than the boing-boing echoes of whatever was last said to him.

Damn, it's truly terrifying when the president-elect is less coherent than Arctic Barbie.

Tom Hilton said...

Bibi saw how easily Putin was manipulating Trump and said to himself, "Ima get me some of that!"

The New York Crank said...

There are really two issues on the table here:

1. Whether Israel has any right to the West Bank land that this blog piece declares is stolen: "It's really interesting he seems to think Israel is obliged to build illegal housing for its Jewish citizens on stolen land..."

2. Whether it should build there regardless of whether the land is stolen or not.

Let me take the second item first.

1) If you believe, as I do, that Israel is entitled to be a Jewish state, based on well over two thousand years of history and the situation as it now exists, then a two state solution is the only possible solution that will work long term. The Arab birth rate is considerably higher than the Jewish birth rate in Israel, and if all the disputed territory becomes Israeli, Arabs will eventually outnumber Israelis. Poof— end of Jewish Israel.

But that said,

2) the West Bank is not "stolen." It was legitimately taken in a war in 1967, caused by the Arab buildup of hostile forces on Israel's border, clearly prepared for invasion,with the collusion of Jordan and Syria. In six days the Israelis virtually wiped out the Egyptian air force and also took control of the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

War is not a children's game, where the kids who start the fight and then lose get their toys back once a winner is declared. As I've pointed out elsewhere, if that were so, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and California would again be part of Mexico. Or maybe they'd be part of Spain. Or perhaps the entire United States would be the exclusive property of Native Americans. And we'd have had to have given Poland back to Germany after WWI I. Or maybe Poland belongs to Russia, along with Latvia, Lithuanian and Estonia.

The Egyptians and Israelis quickly settled, and Egypt again has the Sinai back as its own territory. The Palestinians refused to settle, even when offered an agreement that gave them virtually everything back. They seem to be demanding that Israeli cease to exist.

My own position is that Israeli should hold, but not build in the West Bank until a comprehensive two state solution is in effect, not because Israel doesn't have justice on its side, but just because building in the West Bank is a form of slow national suicide.

Now I'll stand back and watch the attack dogs come at me.

Yours with extreme crankiness,
The New York Crank

The New York Crank said...

Sorry there. I got my 1 mixed up with my 2 in the later part of the above comment. But you know what I mean.

Yastreblyansky said...

Just on the legal issue, Crank, no: whatever terrible injustices may have been done for most of human history, there is no right to conquer territory since the Kellogg-Briand pact of 1928 and the acceptance of the right of self-determination and territorial integrity guaranteed in the UN charter. This is why Germany's invasion of Poland was a casus belli, and the legal basis of the Security Council resolution that just passed. The Mexican War doesn't provide a legal precedent for anything.

I won't argue with you on the rest, especially who's to blame for the failure of peace negotiations (to me the crucial blame is to Netanyahu in his first term after Rabin's murder, basically torpedoing Oslo by doubling the settler population in West Bank, but we could argue about it forever without getting anywhere), but I want to point that out, UN members are obliged by international law to resolve territorial disputes by negotiation and to recognize the rights of indigenous communities.

Anonymous said...

Two thousand year history? Egypt has pyramids, and a sphinx quite possibly dating to the last ice age; Mesopotamia pyramids and the most complex municipal system ever designed; and Persia has an eight thousand year old functioning irragation system. Israel? Meh, not so much. A few scraps of a bad plagiarized cross-section of Sumerian history, some geneological tables, and a wall of indeterminate origin. There is no physical evidence of an "Israel" ever existing.

The single most racist thing I've ever heard is "We are God's Chosen People".

Ten Bears

Dark Avenger said...

There is evidence of an Israelite kingdom, but no evidence that is was as grand and overwhelming as the one described in the Bible. The Sumerians, the Assyrians, the ancient Egyptians, and he Hittites all had their day in the sun, the middle two "surviving" in small religious communitires nowadays, but the Jews somehow survived. They must have been doing something right.

id brink said...

"Trump knows...there's something going on."

Ken_L said...

Trump is right that there's something going on, but as he also says "The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on". It would be nice to put everything on hold until the politicians figure out what's going on, but America needs to move on to bigger and better things. He's the only one who knows how to fix these problems, which is why he has 381 advisers at last count and is meeting the intelligence chiefs next week.

To find out, once and for all, what's going on.

Philo Vaihinger said...

I suspect Ten Bears might refute The NY Crank's argument by (in part) denying the legitimacy of the existence of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or any other white settler state resulting from white expansion since the days of Columbus.

All in for the rights of a dozen or so natives to claim ownership in perpetuity for an entire continent, he is.

Unlike Yastrebleyansky, who seems to want to draw a line, rendering colonial conquests after 1928 illegitimate without disturbing the legitimacy claims of earlier conquests.

But Y's line would legitimate the white conquests of most of North Africa, French Algeria, and the white domination of South Africa, though I doubt he intends that.

As to that, and despite NY Crank's references to 2000 years of history during nearly all of which Israel did not exist at all, I really don't see any sensible way to justify the existence of Israel that doesn't also justify all the settler states, and even those generally repudiated like French Algeria and white South Africa.

Just saying.

Anonymous said...

No one "owns" the land Philo, we are fleas, agitating the hide of a far greater organism. One that may well be eliminating a bothersome pest.

What would we do with it? It's a wasteland.

Ten Bears