Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Two-State Solution 2.0

I have written so often in the past about the inevitability of confederative models if the two-state solution is to have a chance of working, that this may feel like piling on. But here are two short videos to watch, and spread, if you find them compelling. The first is from IPCRI, or Israel Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives, making the argument for greater integration: "two states in one space," they call it. The second is this round table on TV Ontario's "The Agenda with Steve Paikin," in which I make the pitch along with two Palestinian interlocutors. The crux comes at about minute 19:00. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Netanyahu's Inflammatory Bill

This was published on the New Yorker site just before the government actually collapsed, hence the hedged language.  

As a symbolic gesture, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed law establishing Israel as a Jewish nation-state is gratuitous at best, but not exactly new. It is making the same aggressive point to Israeli Palestinians that Netanyahu made to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the peace negotiations conducted by John Kerry last year: the Jews are here; they must, as a society, be tolerated; get over it. But it is not merely symbolic. It is a law that aims to govern other laws: a “basic law,” which will have something like constitutional standing. And it is so charged, so offensive not only to the Arab citizens of Israel but even to some members of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, that is it likely to collapse that fragile alliance and result in new elections.

The Israeli press, including Haaretz and Ynet, have reported that Netanyahu clashed with a key coalition member, Yair Lapid, the head of the Yesh Atid party, over the law, as well as other issues, including construction in Jerusalem and various tax measures. But it was the “Jewish nationhood” bill that was at the center of the late-night debate and the potential implosion of Netanyahu’s coalition. So what is at issue?

This takes some sorting out, since it is not clear exactly which draft of the Jewish nation-state bill that Netanyahu will present to the Knesset. The original bill, drafted by the ultra-rightist coalition partner Ze’ev Elkin, and which the cabinet approved in a fourteen to seven vote, defines Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”—not, pointedly, of its citizens, a fifth of whom are Arabs. It demotes Arabic from being an official language to having some sort of special status. Minorities, by implication, would have no right to communal expression, though presumably their rights as individuals would be assured. All state symbols would be Jewish ones. Only Jews would have the right to immigrate freely and receive citizenship. The state would cultivate only Jewish heritage and traditions; Jewish law would serve as “inspiration” for laws. Former President Shimon Peres has said that the law would “destroy Israel’s democratic status at home and abroad.” Netanyahu has insisted that he merely wants to require all Israel schools “to teach the history, culture, and customs of the Jewish people.” In fact, he clearly sees a conflict between democratic standards and Jewish national privileges, which, in his view, needs to be resolved in favor of the latter. The judiciary—governed by democratic standards, and unconstrained by a legally binding national purpose—is his real target. His unstated argument is that the courts advance an abstract concept of citizenship, which, unchecked, will erode the concept of Jewish national self-determination. “The judiciary, which recognizes Israel’s democratic side, will also have to recognize that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people,” he said, in a statement about the bill, at a recent cabinet meeting.

If this law were, as Netanyahu mostly seems to want the public to believe, only about collective rights, it would be superfluous, irritating to the Arab minority, perhaps, but not inconsistent with democratic norms—and not even preëmptive of confederal relations with a future Palestine. Democracies everywhere protect their distinct national cultures and languages. The point is, however, that this new law is not really about conserving collective cultural rights, but rather about confirming individual legal privileges. Israel’s democratic freedoms are real, to be sure, but they coëxist with legalized inequalities between Jews and Arabs.

Read on at the New Yorker

Friday, November 21, 2014

Crisis In Jerusalem

Again, Palestinians armed with whatever was at hand attacked Jews in Jerusalem, killing four citizens and fatally wounding a police officer before achieving martyrdom. Again, the Netanyahu government demanded that President Abbas denounce the murders and end incitement. Abbas, again, has repudiated “all acts of violence against civilians,” distinguishing himself from Hamas and bowing to American pressure but implying—as if he needed to—that the Israeli Army, police, and settlers have committed atrocities of their own. Again, the State Department has issued its condemnation in a tone of mandatory righteousness. In Jerusalem, anxiety is mounting. “I know why they do it, and I know why we do it,” my wife, Sidra, once said to me. “And I don’t know what to do.”

Last week, it was an attack on a rabbinic zealot at the Begin Heritage Center, across the street from the Cinematheque, where the remaining Jerusalemites with secular tendencies take in a film by Mike Leigh or Denys Arcand. The place is a ten-minute walk from our home, in the German Colony. A block away is the former Café Hillel, which was bombed in September, 2003. Across the main street, Emeq Refaim (The Valley of the Ghosts), is another café, Caffit, where two suicide bombers were foiled on two separate occasions. At the summit of the gentle hill overlooking the valley, near Terra Sancta, in the Rehavia quarter, another café, Moment, which was bombed in 2002. Walk another ten minutes, into the city center, and you come to a pizzeria that was bombed twice. The nearby Ben-Yehuda Street mall was bombed. When I draw an imaginary circle of a couple of miles around our neighborhood, it encompasses the sites of five bus bombings. The cafeteria near Sidra’s office, at the Hebrew University, on the ridge above the entrapped neighborhood of Issawiya, was bombed. You remember the pattern and—if you are not family—forget the names.

Robert Brym, a sociologist at the University of Toronto, studied all hundred and thirty-eight Palestinian suicide bombings between September, 2000, and mid-July, 2005. He concluded that they represented less than a quarter of the attempted missions—most were foiled by Israeli forces—and that the vast majority of the Palestinian youths who killed, whatever their ideological predispositions, had themselves lost a friend or a close relative. During those five years, Israeli forces undertook some two hundred assassination attempts, eighty per cent of which hit their targets, often causing, Brym writes, considerable “collateral damage.” This time, in the suburb of Har Nof, three of the four victims were rabbis; their murderers are said to have been enraged by the rightists in the Netanyahu government agitating for access to the Temple Mount, also the Muslims’ Noble Sanctuary. Yeshiva students walk around Jerusalem wearing T-shirts with an illustration of a crane removing the golden dome from the Mosque of Omar. (The caption says, “Sometimes, it is permitted to remove the kippa,” the Hebrew word for both a dome and skullcap.) At the news of the murders, some residents of the East Jerusalem suburb of Jabel Mukhaber set off fireworks. There is vague talk of the national conflict turning into religious war.

Read on at The New Yorker

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Netanyahu's Misguided Prophesy To The Nations

Yom Kippur, the Day of Repentance, which fell this week, makes the Book of Jonah its liturgical centerpiece. For many, Jews and non-Jews alike, the connection of this text to repentance is all too clear. Perhaps the most famous sermon on the subject, certainly the most paradigmatic, is that of Father Mapple in Moby Dick, whom Ishmael hears just before he first sets sail:

Shipmates, it is a two-stranded lesson; a lesson to us all as sinful men, and a lesson to me as a pilot of the living God. As sinful men, it is a lesson to us all, because it is a story of the sin, hard-heartedness, suddenly awakened fears, the swift punishment, repentance, prayers, and finally the deliverance and joy of Jonah. 

Mapple continues, explaining why Jonah ran away.

All the things that God would have us do are hard for us to do - remember that - and hence, he oftener commands us than endeavors to persuade. And if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves; and it is in this disobeying ourselves, wherein the hardness of obeying God consists. With this sin of disobedience in him, Jonah still further flouts at God, by seeking to flee from Him. He thinks that a ship made by men, will carry him into countries where God does not reign but only the Captains of this earth. He skulks about the wharves of Joppa, and seeks a ship that's bound for Tarshish. 

Father Mapple, en passant, ferrets out of the Book of Jonah Jonah’s own idea of what a Hebrew is, someone who knows God’s power, and who knows better than to expect mercy when sins are great:

'I am a Hebrew,' he cries- and then- 'I fear the Lord the God of Heaven who hath made the sea and the dry land!' Fear him, O Jonah? Aye, well mightest thou fear the Lord God then! We know what happens next. Jonah, admitting that the roiling seas are his fault, is tossed overboard by terrified shipmates. 

Then Mapple reaches his climax:

He goes down in the whirling heart of such a masterless commotion that he scarce heeds the moment when he drops seething into the yawning jaws awaiting him; and the whale shoots-to all his ivory teeth, like so many white bolts, upon his prison. 

Jonah calls out to the Almighty. The fish pukes him up. Mapple says:

And Jonah, bruised and beaten- his ears, like two sea-shells, still multitudinously murmuring of the ocean- Jonah did the Almighty's bidding. And what was that, shipmates? To preach the Truth to the face of Falsehood! That was it! 

That was it. The challenge is to preach the truth in the face of falsehood. To brave the fight, and scoffers be damned. The world is made up of people who know the truth and people who either don’t know it or resist it. And the way to get people to be good, or afraid to be bad - and what’s the difference? - is through a kind of permanent regime of deterrence: We warn like Father Mapple, warn like Jonah eventually did. And we will preach a force that will find you anywhere, idiot. All the things that God would have us do are hard for us to do.

I thought of Father Mapple watching Benjamin Netanyahu explaining the struggle against militant Islam from the UN’s podium this past week. “To protect the peace and security of the world, we must remove this cancer before it’s too late,” he said. As with Father Mapple, Netanyahu warned of two kinds of people, the peace-loving and the bloody-minded. Israeli leaders must therefore do something hard but inescapable: Bring a message of deterrence, preach the truth in the face of falsehood, bomb if you have to and the New York Times be damned. “Israel is fighting a fanaticism today that your countries may be forced to fight tomorrow.”

I felt, I confess, sadly embarrassed for Netanyahu, our sanctimonious impresario of settlements--of "mowing the lawn" in Gaza--the way I imagined Ishmael feeling a little ashamed for Mapple, whose righteousness so clearly cut against his grain. Jews have had Yom Kippur longer than we’ve had the Likud. Was this really what the Book of Jonah taught? Why, really, did Jonah run?

Actually, the people of Nineveh are not the real villains. They are not very bad: One perfunctory warning from the prophet and even the cattle are put into sack-cloth. No, it is Jonah the book is warning us about, that we should not be like him: Angry, hungry for the punishment of crime, incapable of managing ambiguity. Jonah finally admits to us, or God, the real reason why he ran, but only after God forgives Nineveh:

I pray Thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in mine own country? Therefore I fled beforehand unto Tarshish; for I knew that Thou art a gracious God, and compassionate, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy, and repentest Thee of the evil. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech Thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.' And the LORD said: 'Art thou greatly angry?' Then Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

Jonah’s melancholy, you see, has nothing to do with fearing God's mission. It has everything to do with fearing God's compassion. You sort of get the feeling that Jonah builds the booth to look out onto the city in the forlorn hope that God would incinerate the sons of bitches after all. He obviously feels more comfortable far away from the people he was notionally saving—that he cares about humanity more than mere humans. He would rather die than live with the confusions brought into the world by forgiveness.

Jonah, in other words, is hardly the hero in the book. God is. What’s missing from Netanyahu’s speech, and Father Mapple’s sermon is a kind of critical self-consciousness, which is the real lesson of God’s actions. The heart to be transformed is not in Nineveh—it is Jonah’s: God acts as a kind of cosmic therapist. God then sends a plant; Jonah falls in love with it—or at least with the shade it provides. God causes the plant to wither—not to prove his power some more, but because he realizes that, as with a numbed child, you can teach compassion only step by step. God asks Jonah if he is aggrieved by the death of the plant. Again, Jonah is so aggrieved he says he would rather die than live. God asks, finally talking past Jonah’s neurosis, so then how am I to feel about the people of Nineveh, who “do not know their right hand from their left”?

Terrorism is not tolerable - that’s true. Members of my own family have been its victims. Still, the God of Jonah teaches, first and foremost, the renunciation of Manichean visions, this notion that life presents us with heroic struggles against evil forces—the idea that goodness rests merely, or even mainly, on the terrible power of good forces to intimidate the bad. How would God help Israel’s prime minister to see, to paraphrase the novelist David Grossman, the little Hamas in oneself? I suspect the future of what Jews mean by Jews will depend very much on the answers we provide to these questions.

I have spent a good deal of time with another prime minister this past year, nobody’s hero now, who himself launched two wars against “the missiles.” He can speak for himself, but my impression of Ehud Olmert is that he is not at all certain in retrospect that Israelis saw enough of what Jonah’s God would have wanted us to. When I asked him about his proudest moment of statesmanship, he told me this:

Olmert had sat in on meetings in which Ariel Sharon had treated Abbas as the representative of a defeated, insurgent enemy that needed to be intimidated. This often made Olmert cringe. So when he assumed office, and tried to set appointments with Abbas, he was not surprised that Abbas kept putting him off, determined, Olmert surmised, to avoid more humiliation. Finally, they set an appointment for a Thursday evening, and again Abbas cancelled at the last minute. So Olmert got him on the phone and said: “I understand why you might want to insult me, but why insult my wife?” Abbas was taken aback and said he did not understand. Olmert said: “When Aliza found that you would be coming, she spent the last 24 hours preparing your favorite dishes for dinner. What shall I tell her now?”

Abbas came, eventually met with Olmert 36 times, and the two came closer to a comprehensive agreement than any previous leaders. This is not the kind of approach to truth and power Father Mapple, or Netanyahu, would have respected. But I like to think that the Book of Jonah's God would have been relieved.

This article appeared in Haaretz online.  It is adapted from a Yom Kippur sermon delivered to the Harvard Worship and Study Congregation in 2011.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Is Liberal Zionism Impossible?

A couple of Sundays ago, the Times published an opinion piece by Antony Lerman that seemed calculated to prompt a moment of truth. Lerman writes that “liberal Zionists,” or “liberal Zionism,” or “Jewish liberals” in the diaspora (he never quite narrows this down) are, thanks to the latest Gaza war, facing an unprecedented crisis. The time has come to choose between Jewish loyalties, which tend to boil down to “Zionism,” and human rights. Lerman comes by this moment honestly. He’s worked for British Jewish organizations for thirty years; he’s come to believe that it’s futile to try to persuade most diaspora Jews—who are often liberal in spirit, but who have made “unquestioning solidarity with Israel the touchstone of Jewish identity”—to press for fairness to Palestinians and democratic reform in Israel. Conspicuous American Jewish liberals, such as Peter Beinart, Roger Cohen (who, like Lerman, is originally from England), and the leaders of J Street, the advocacy group set up as a counterbalance to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, lament that “what Israel is doing can’t be reconciled with their humanism.” Yet, he says, they fail that humanism by remaining “Zionists,” by which he means remaining supporters of “the two-state solution,” where one state is Israel.

Lerman believes that serial Israeli governments have made that two-state vision impossible. Benjamin Netanyahu effectively rejected it; the Israeli left is “comatose.” “The only Zionism of any consequence today is xenophobic and exclusionary,” he writes, and it is carrying out an “open-ended project of national self-realization to be achieved through colonization and purification of the tribe.” Indeed—and here is Lerman’s real point—Zionism has always forced Jews to decide between “the dictates of religion and political ideology” and liberal principles. The Jewish state was founded on injury to Palestinians, Lerman writes. “Liberal Zionists” have, with hypocritical regret, justified this historic injustice as necessary. But Gaza is so grotesque that they have now been pushed “to the brink”—or should be. The brink of what? Lerman is not entirely clear. He wants the threads of his argument to braid into a case for a new movement: a partnership with Palestinians “to achieve equal rights and self-determination for all in Israel-Palestine.” At the same time, he insists, liberal Jews should feel free to rethink whether they need to be committed to the existence of any Jewish state at all: “Jewish history did not culminate in the creation of the state of Israel.”

One could pick at Lerman’s threads. Is anything but a two-state solution, complemented by ordinary confederal arrangements, really conceivable? Is the Israeli peace camp really composed only of exhausted leftists—is the country’s business community not getting mobilized? Yet the most striking thing about Lerman’s argument, with its focus on whether the Zionist idea can be reconciled to the liberal imagination, is how provisional he takes Israel to be. He seems consumed with historic Zionism’s veiled essence, yet he’s oblivious to its obvious achievement: namely, a home for Israelis that has a reality other than as a cause for diaspora Jews...

Read on at The New Yorker

Friday, August 15, 2014

Gaza 'Without Illusions': A UN Mandate

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has made his reputation telling what he imagines to be hard truths that others shrink from. He says that he sees the world “bli ashlayot”—without illusions.

In 2001, he said that if Egypt stationed troops in the Sinai, Israel should respond “strongly,” by, say, bombing the Aswan Dam, on the Nile. He has said that Israeli Arabs who don’t swear loyalty to the state should be stripped of citizenship. He has even argued that Israel should negotiate with the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas on the basis of a (demographically agreeable) land swap, whereby Israel would annex large West Bank settlement blocs while handing over to the Palestinians three hundred thousand third-generation, Hebrew-speaking Arab citizens in towns near the pre-1967 borders.

Since the beginning of the latest Gaza operation, Lieberman, unsurprisingly, has done to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu what Netanyahu did to his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, in 2009: outflank him on the right by insisting that no ceasefire be considered until Hamas is vanquished. The current ceasefire is still provisional, and Lieberman has declared that Israel will not coöperate with any war-crimes investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

It was surprising, then, that when Lieberman testified before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week, he suggested that Israel and the Palestinian Authority might consider turning control of Gaza over to a United Nations mandate.

Read on at The New Yorker

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Let's Blame Kerry

This has just been published by TheWorldPost, a partnership of The Huffington Post and the Berggruen Institute on Governance 

By the second week of the Gaza war, Israeli media were decided that Secretary of State John Kerry’s diplomacy was fatally inept. Presumably, much of the subsequent suffering on both sides might be laid at his feet. The most serious—certainly the most caustic—claims were advanced by Haaretz’s Ari Shavit:

Kerry ruined everything. Very senior officials in Jerusalem described the proposal that Kerry put on the table as a ‘strategic terrorist attack.’ His decision to go hand in hand with Qatar and Turkey, and formulate a framework amazingly similar to the Hamas framework, was catastrophic…The man of peace from Massachusetts intercepted with his own hands the reasonable cease-fire that was within reach, and pushed both the Palestinians and Israelis toward an escalation that most of them did not want…If Israel is forced to ultimately undertake an expanded ground operation in which dozens of young Israelis and hundreds of Palestinian civilians could lose their lives, it would be appropriate to name the offensive after the person who caused it: John Kerry. 

The “proposal” Shavit was referring to was a draft ceasefire plan which Kerry sent from Paris to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 26; it was the product of a meeting he convened with European foreign ministers that included Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid Al Attiyah—both in more or less steady communication with Hamas’s political chief, Khaled Meshal. The proposal called for a cessation of all violence, to be followed within forty-eight hours by meetings in Cairo between Israel and “all Palestinian factions.” It would “secure the opening of crossings, allow the entry of goods and people and ensure the social and economic livelihood of the Palestinian people living in Gaza, transfer funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees and address all security issues.”

What Shavit considered the “reasonable cease-fire that was within reach”—before Kerry allegedly began his clumsy meddling—was an earlier proposal, from July 14th., advanced by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. This had called only (and vaguely) for talks in Cairo about opening the Rafah crossing from Egypt into Gaza, which Sisi had closed—in part because he regarded Hamas as an off-shoot of the hated Moslem Brothers. Netanyahu had accepted the Egyptian proposal, and began bombarding Gaza in response to Hamas’s missile attacks. Meshal, speaking from Qatar, insisted that the fight was to the death, if necessary. “We will not accept any initiative that does not lift the blockade on our people and that does not respect their sacrifices,” he said. By the time of Kerry’s proposal, casualties in Gaza were climbing to over a thousand, and over thirty Israeli soldiers had been killed. Shavit was convinced that, had Kerry simply reinforced Netanyahu’s threats, Sisi’s pressure, and used Qatar to leverage Meshal, Hamas would have cracked then and there.

No wonder, Shavit implied, Kerry’s draft was decisively rejected by the Israeli cabinet. Nor was Shavit alone. The proposal was leaked and criticized the following day by Haaretz’s diplomatic correspondent, Barak Ravid (“What was he thinking?,” Ravid, normally an acerbic critic of the Netanyahu’s policies, fumed), at which point public scorn for Kerry in Israel was wall-to-wall. Curiously, now that a cease-fire is finally taking hold, the terms of Kerry’s July 26 proposal don’t seem so ruinous. In fact, they seem much like the ones on everyone’s mind, including such different members of the cabinet as the centrist Tzipi Livni and the rightist Avigdor Lieberman: the Israeli security quid for the Gazan development quo. Was the American Secretary of State really so ham-fisted by suggesting them early on? Or should we just forget the carping, chalk it up to taut nerves, and move on?

This would be a serious mistake, I think, for it would mean ignoring the tortured strategic logic that helped propel the Israeli government into this war—and earlier ones. What’s been vexing for Israeli officials and commentators alike, you see, is that Kerry interfered in a game of regional brinkmanship Israelis imagine themselves masters of and the only ones with the nerves for. In this game, Israel’s forces must bring something like decisive victory, or the perception of having decisive power, if “deterrence” is to be reestablished—the only security strategy the Netanyahu government has been offering the Israeli public.

I have sat through many intelligence briefings in which Israeli officials fill PowerPoint presentations with assessments of Palestinians’ power: their “motivation” and “capabilities.” But press these officials and they almost always define motives in terms of capabilities—if Palestinians can hurt us, they will want to. The desire to eliminate Israel goes back to the Naqba, presumably. It cannot be allayed, only (naively) appeased. Talk of occupation is a distraction, a propaganda victory for them. So Israelis cannot imagine deterring Palestinians unless they make them feel defeated. Might makes, of all things, right.

The war did little to undermine this logic. The unexpected death of so many soldiers—sons looking back cheerfully in newspaper pictures, pulled from their classes, hook-ups and trips to Nepal—endowed “deterrence” an elevated sense of pathos. In social media, at least, the tunnels pushed many Israelis to hysteria. Another veteran journalist, Akiva Eldar, wrote soberly in Al-Monitor that grief had transformed tunnels into a symbol for Israel’s darkest fears. Polls show that the war is overwhelmingly popular. Facebook and Twitter, Eldar laments, are lit up with discussion of “a horror scenario,” in which the tunnels provide Hamas with an infrastructure for a ground invasion: thousands of Hamas troops, dressed in Israeli uniforms, could fire hundreds, or even thousands, of rockets into the center of the country. Eldar quoted a wildly popular blogger who wrote, “Under those circumstances, Israel would potentially have to contend with tens of thousands of casualties, the paralysis of all its systems and the need to create defensive measures for individual neighborhoods and even for streets.” The blogger went on, “Counter-attacks by the air force won’t help when everyone is dug in deep underground, laughing all the way to Jerusalem.”

Kerry’s folly, then, was to imply flexibility, a willingness to respond to manifest grievances, when the game called for convincing ruthlessness. Perhaps one would wish to rehabilitate Gaza; former defense minister Shaul Mofaz has called for a fifty-billion-dollar redevelopment plan, after all. But if Hamas was for it, Kerry was “reckless” not to be against it. If only he had pressured Hamas just a little harder, Hamas’s will would have been broken. Hey, didn’t Qatar just buy eleven billion dollars in defensive missiles from the U.S.? Instead, Kerry squandered American authority. He was in over his head, sinking beneath the surface of Israel’s tautology.

The point is, you dig into this Israeli media criticism and its rests on these flimsy assumptions about the psychological state of the Hamas leadership. They understand only force. Inflict pain, secure “quiet.” Moreover, to criticize Kerry for working with Qatar and Turkey is to demand he remove from play American channels to, and leverage on, Hamas’s diplomatic supporters—the very ones Israeli leaders are now counting on to achieve a more permanent quiet—even the “demilitarization,” which Netanyahu now insists on.

In retrospect, one might conclude that Hamas was in no way on the verge of breaking: that Hamas leaders saw the casualties rising through the fog of war and assumed that many deaths on both sides worked to their advantage; that the very frame of mind that makes them terrorist also makes them cynically apocalyptic, suicidal, carried away by solidarity; that they knew very well how more Israeli bombardment could play into their hands, provoke international condemnation, possibly a new Intifada in the West Bank, a rising in Israeli Arab cities, missiles from Hezbollah, riots in Amman, or all of the above; that Hamas was about to lose its tunnels in any case and could not maintain its moral prestige among Gazans without making a stand to “break the siege.”

More reasonably, Kerry’s Paris proposal assumed that next diplomatic steps would take place in Cairo, under Egyptian auspices—as, indeed, they are now, since Egypt still controlled Rafah, the first imaginable crossing to open. “All Palestinian factions” was an obvious euphemism for the united government of the Palestinian Authority which the U.S. had already tried to work with and Israel tried to break Abbas away from. This government had already agreed to participate in an international effort to monitor the crossings, work on Gazan development and pay the salaries of Gazan officials with funds committed by Qatar. Israel, meanwhile, will discuss “all security issues.” It will also sit down with this government, though not with Hamas directly—again, just what Kerry expected.

None of this means that Israeli journalists who’ve mocked him will stop doing so. They’ll accuse him of childishness for insisting a comprehensive deal is necessary to improve on an unsustainable status quo. Yet they’ll parentalize him and the American presidency—assume that violence against Israel is the result of totemic American fumbling. It is not a bad to career move—a various neocons have proven—to declare that the Obama administration’s weakness is responsible for every attack from the world’s awful people. Yet, hopefully, Kerry will press on. Soon enough, Israelis will be carping also at themselves.