Israel and peace

Israel wants peace but only has three options — all bad:

Option 1: Current option — tit-for-tat. McGoerge Bundy said the reason why the U.S. lost the war in Vietnam is that the Vietcong were more willing to die than we were to kill. That’s true in Israel today and I believe this leads to long downward spiral to quagmire hell. We’ve now had three years of little progress and with no hope in sight

Option 2: Full scale conflict. Define terrorism as war and attack its supporters. Attack Syria. Attack Iran. This plan is the most high-risk because it could ultimately lead to the entire world collectively engaging against Israel (though that’s not too different from today).

Option 3: Pull out of the West Bank and Gaza ASAP. Build a huge fence, dismantle all untenable settlements immediately. This option is likely to have some horrible short term consequences (as terrorists will be emboldened due to a perceived victory) but might be the only sane choice Israel has in the long run.

Israel, a nation that more than any other wants peace, has no good option to achieve that goal.

3 thoughts on “Israel and peace

  1. Steve Mushero

    Yes, though at some point you might comment on the role of religion in
    politics and governance – one could argue it has no place and as long as
    the conflict here and in many places in the Muslim world (plus Ireland and
    others) has religious undertones, nearly nothing can work. The Jewish
    parties in Israel, Immans elsewhere, Christian Right in the US, etc. do
    nothing but create problems and nearly never create solutions that have
    ever worked. The fanatical zeal of all such groups, believing god made
    them right eliminates compromise or discussion (race does similar things in
    the US). To some extent, anyone who has a religeous stake the outcome of
    such conflict almost by definition can’t be involved in the solution; yet,
    they must be; an endless dilemma, here, there, and everywhere.

  2. Philippe Suchet

    As usual, interesting stuff. i tend to slightly disagree with you on Israel’s choices. a/ it has many more interesting choices at hand, b/ the pull-out option that you recommend might be the most dangerous. as you know, it’s not by avoiding a problem that you can solve it. in addition, one should remember the lessons of lebanon: israel pulled out without striking a deal. the lesson that some arab leaders and terrorist groups drew from that event, is that the weakness of israel lies in the fact that jews value life much more than anybody else. a way to say that violence was the most efficient way to deal with israel. remember what happened, after camp david 2 (when arafat did not get what he wanted)? explosion of pseudo-spontaneous violence in the street and surge of terrorism. this was mainly based on the “lessons” of the lebanese war, and was felt as the most efficient mean to extract more from israel. by pulling out without any agreement, israel would show another sign of weakness, indirectly encourage terrorism and avoid to negotiate with palestinians/arabs a lasting peace…
    On another note, here is an interesting and unbiased book that is worthwhile
    reading: “Six Days of War: June 1967 and the
    Making of the Modern Middle East” by Michael B. Oren.

  3. Ashley D'Cruz

    I take issue with the notion that “Israel, a nation that more than any other
    wants peace, has no good option to achieve that goal.” It is an absolutist
    claim implying a relative survey of the 180 plus nations of the world – a
    survey which has never been attempted to the best of my knowledge. Are
    Israelis more peace-loving than Tibetans, Kashmiris, South and North
    Koreans, Hutus and Tutsis, or people unnoted in history books who have
    peaceably averted conflict? Your statement also negates the fact that
    Israel is a highly militarized nation. You also credit Israel with a
    monolithic thought that discounts the noteworthy multiplicity of
    perspectives that are present in Israeli society. Finally, considering that
    the current Israeli population includes a substantial non-Jewish population,
    either your monolithic definition of Israel excludes this population or you
    are also crediting this population with a desire for peace.
    People may want peace, but nations pursue their interests, often opting for
    security over peace, willingly sustaining the casualties of “the other” and
    even some casualties among their own citizenry for national interests –
    economic and strategic. Israeli officials are pursuing perceived national
    interests, not peace. Armed incursions, bulldozers, and checkpoints are not
    the actions of a government who wants peace. It is the action of a
    government who wants to pacify the other.
    I agree with you that tit-for-tat is a downward spiral. Tellingly,
    McBundy’s comments about Vietnam were in light of the analysis that the
    Vietcong would sustain casualties of about 10 – 1. That favorable U.S. kill
    ratio was supposed to be a recipe for success in Vietnam. It wasn’t the
    reluctance to kill that motivated McBundy’s comments, it was that the
    Vietcong were willing to sustain being killed in such numbers. The Vietcong
    ironically looked at the 10 -1 kill ratio and said the exact same thing that
    U.S. officials looking at that ratio said: we’ll win, they cannot sustain
    this kill ratio. The same cold calculus is being done by militarily minded
    Israelis and Palestinians, who see the current kill ratio as about 3 – 1
    (although this varies) and think victory is possibly through a path of
    destruction. As the world’s citizens assert the need to observe the
    universality of human rights, the world’s people will increasingly support
    those who truly want peace, not tolerating suicide bombers or bulldozer
    All of your possibilities are unilateral. Conflicts are two-sided and need
    two-sided solutions or the solutions fail. I agree that the first 2 options
    you indicate will fail for the reasons you outline and for other reasons as
    well. But I doubt your third option will work either. Simply dismantling
    all “tenable” settlements will not be effective in ending the conflict as
    this will not create a contiguous viable Palestinian state nor assimilate
    the Palestinian population into the Israeli state – thus continuing a limbo
    of non-sovereignity. Who decides tenable? Tenable to whom? The
    unilateralism inherent in that one word dictates continued de facto control
    over the Palestinian population and keeps that population at the mercy of
    the IDF.
    Creating a geographically contiguous Palestinian state with all the usual
    rights of a state will further the mutual respect of human rights and
    alienate extremists in both Palestine and Israel. It will also allow
    Israelis to continue to have a Jewish majority in Israel, preserving the
    Israeli democracy as it was conceptualized. And, as has already been
    suggested by the Arab League, full normalized relations between Arab states
    and Israel should follow. In this normalization should also include full
    rights of citizenship and amalgamation to those in refugee communities in
    the Arab world. This will lead to a stronger, more secure region. After
    that, for true peace, there must be a peace between people, not just a
    political settlement. Israelis and Palestinians need to engage each other,
    allow their children to interact, and humanize the other much the same way
    the rift between African Americans and Anglo-Americans has been slowly
    overcome through a concerted effort of humanizing in the United States.
    Similar attempts at humanizing have been tried, with some success, in South
    Africa and elsewhere. Currently, both sides have made interaction between
    people impossible except in a politicized context. Getting together to
    share culture, sports, food, etc. is one of the many prices of checkpoints
    and segregation. Lack of dialogue continues the current cycle of
    transmogrifying the other, reducing the other to an ojbect.
    Finally, all those who wish to study a region of any sort should go to the
    source. Israeli newspapers display a greater multiplicity of voice, a far
    better understanding of the history, geography, and languages of the current
    conflict than the mostly myopic coverage in many parts of the world,
    including America. Similarly, many of the comments made by Arab and Israeli
    intellectuals display an understanding far better than the ahistorical
    approaches of most journalists and politicians. That said, Americans
    interested in learning more should at least read Haaretz if not Al-Ahram and
    the intellectuals on both sides of the debate. They should read Edward Said
    as well as Benny Morris. They should watch Promises by Goldberg and
    Shapiro. And they should try hard to break through the stereotypes and
    propaganda to at least see the conflict in all its complexity, including (as
    has been omitted here and in your analysis) an understanding of the U.S.
    role in fueling the conflict. Unless people understand and engage the
    legitimate grievances of each side, the extremists on both sides will win
    and the cycle of violence will continue. So, for those who do not want the
    tit-for-tat to continue, start by paying attention to the multiplicity of
    voices in Israel and Palestine and learn history where the multiplicity of
    the region is obvious.


Leave a Reply