Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mailbag: Sachar Is Free!

A great many readers of this blog post, it seems, have tried to read Howard Sachar's excellent short article, "Enforcing The Peace," in the current Foreign Affairs, only to find it (as forewarned) behind the paywall--so many, in fact, that the magazine's Senior Editor, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, just informed me that they are generously making the article free in the "hope of provoking some debate." You can download the article here. Share it.


Potter said...

I want my 99 cents back!! (just kidding)

Y. Ben-David said...

Sachar is pushing the already failed line that the key is getting American Jews to turn put on their "progressive" hats and go along with a American pressure on Israel to make dangerous concessions. There are two illusions in, that American Jews view the Arab-Israeli conflict through "progressive" eyes, (the poor, stateless Palestinians, terrorism is "understandable" due to Zionist aggression, Israel is essentially a colonialist enclave of the US, etc, etc) which is not true for the majority, but secondly, Sachar himself attributes American support for Israel due to "Jewish pressure", which is a myth. There would be strong support for Israel if there was NO Jewish community in the US. I am surprised that a historian like him is not aware of this. There was strong support for Zionism long before the Jewish commmunity was very large and before it had rallied behind the Zionist idea.
Poll consitently show about 70% of the American public strongly supports Israel, Now, when we consider that 2% of the American population are Jews, we then must come to the conclusion that the remaining 68% are non-Jews.

Sacher also ignores the fact that there is NO WAY the US, by itself or in combination with other powers can force the Arab side to go along with the concessions the Americans would want them to make. The US and EU are dependent on Arab petrodollars and their oil. If the US threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, the PA would simply say, "fine, now HAMAS is going to take over", the Arabs can effectively veto any political demands made from them. Why is that Obama, the President who identifies more with the Palestinians and the rest of the Muslim world and has done the most to distance himself from Israel has still failed to make any progress in the "peace process" and, in fact, has made things worse.
Sachar, for all his academnic credentials (like Dr Avishai) has all the prejudices of the typical Jewish Progressive and can't accept that he is missing the essential nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which is NOT a conflict over territory and can not be solved by dividing the territory in dispute.

Potter said...

Ben-David: Poll consitently show about 70% of the American public strongly supports Israel, Now, when we consider that 2% of the American population are Jews, we then must come to the conclusion that the remaining 68% are non-Jews.

Support for Israel does not mean anything Israel does. It may mean support for israel's existence period. I dare say many who support Israel and would answer so to a question see that Israel cannot sustain itself on it's present path and as an occupier.

Consider that of the 2% of Americans that are Jewish- some 6,500,000 ( more than in Israel) most ( say roughly about 80%) of those are secular, Reform or Conservative and many of those have liberal or progressive values and are troubled by Israel's policies.

I wonder as well how deep/strong the other 68% of non-Jewish support actually is.

If the concessions are fair and on both sides, and if Obama ( in some other incarnation that the one he is possessed by now) and the others in the Quartet threatened both sides with some real pain something like the Geneva Initiative could be imposed. (Arabs need to sell their oil as much as we need to buy and they need a peace agreement to diminish Iran).

Y. Ben-David said...

This 70% has remained consistent througout all the recent crises Israel has experienced, including the two wars peace-camp Prime Minister Olmert gave us, plus the arguments over the settlement freezes, etc. Most Americans realize that it is the Arab side that is blocking peace, just as most Israelis and American Jews do (polls of both Israelis and American Jews say clear majorities agree with this view).

Potter said...

I have tried several times and through a different browser to post this and it does not show up- so I apologize if everything shows up at once:

( quoted from a Haaretz article this past August)

In August of 2009, 63% of Americans polled said that the U.S. does need to support Israel. In June of this year, 58% of respondents shared the same view; by July only 51% of respondents said the U.S. needed to support Israel.

Another question posed by the pole was "Is the Israeli government committed to peace with the Palestinians?" In December of 2007, 66% of respondents said that the government, then led by Ehud Olmert, was committed to peace with the Palestinians. In June of 2009, a month after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House, only 46% of Americans said they believed the Netanyahu government was committed to peace.

Potter said...

part 2- quote

In the months of May and June, there appeared to be a positive change in American public opinion on the matter, with 53% of respondents saying they believe Netanyahu seeks peace. However, in July, only 45% of American said they felt Netanyahu was committed to the peace process. Thirty-nine percent responded that Netanyahu and his administration are not committed to seeking peace with the Palestinians.

Greenberg has analyzed the poll results and says that the section of the American public where Israel is most rapidly losing support is among Liberal Americans who align themselves with the Democratic Party.

Y. Ben-David said...

And Israel is gaining support from conservative Americans who align themselves with the Republican Party.

Whether or not Netanyahu is "seeking peace" with teh Palestinians is irrelevant since most people know that NO offer Israel makes will ever satisfy the Palestinians

pabelmont said...

Two points. First, "support for Israel" might (and I hope it does) merely mean USA should fight in a defensive war when Israel is itself attacked (and, indeed, if it actually requires help!, an unlikely event). It need not mean support for all of Israel's cruelties, illegalities, and imperial ambitions.

Second, I oppose an imposed peace AT THIS TIME. Why? Because I don't trust any portion of that small part of the international community which is likely to predominate to impose an ACCEPTABLE (to me) peace. SO WHAT INSTEAD? Let the international community begin by requiring Israel to remove all the settlers and dismantle all the settlements and all the wall. UNSC 465 (1980) calls for this and did so when most settlements WERE PRECISELY the "neighborhoods of Jerusalem" which Israel now wishes to treat as permanent. This proposal is not ambiguous and is based on well settled legal principles. If the international community cannot even enforce the law, why should anyone trust it to impose an acceptable peace?

If the parties cannot come to peace AFTER a requirement of removal of settlers, etc., then it may be the time for an imposed peace. NOT SOONER.

Potter said...

Pabelmont- to your first point, this is what I meant to convey. Ben-David thinks that Israel has unconditional love here and we will go along with whatever goes on forever. Time is running out here too... and Peter Beinart was saying this as well when he made waves with his article last year.

I have no problem with your #2. My problem is there is no strong leadership on the international level for this or any such plan.

Y. Ben-David said...

No I don't think Israel has "unconditional love". I point out these facts regarding the dream many of those hostile to Israel of the US and some other constellation of interational forces coming together to impose a settlement on Israel that endangers its vital interests.

I also point out these facts because it proves to me that the American public has a more nuanced view of the Arab-Israeli conflict than the "peace camp" including many Israelis have. That is, they view it more than just "Palestinians=Good, Israelis=Bad" as we hear from much of the 'peace camp', and they reject the view that Dr Avishai and the rest of the peace camp push that "Israeli can have peace if it just makes enough concessions", or that "the Palestinians have agreed to make peace with Israel if only Israel would withdraw to the pre-67 lines".

pabelmont said...

As to the USA's (possible) "unconditional love" for Israel.

The USA is not what matters, but only the USA administration, taking due regard for the Congress and the political-fundraising situation.

If the USA ever has a hand in dictating a peace treaty and twisting arms to secure signatures to it, I much fear that that USA (i.e., administration) will dictate to (or at least towards) Israel's demands, not to (or towards) the PLO's demands. That's how it works. And whatever the people of the USA may believe, or what the Jews (as opposed to AIPAC, etc.) may think, will prove to be irrelevant (just as such thoughts are irrelevant to issues of war, bank-bailout, etc.). Since I am more attuned to what I consider Palestinian rights than I am to Israeli desires, I fear any USA ukase. Hence my proposal (above) w.r.t. removal of settlers and settlements FIRST.

Potter said...

Pabelmount- I think the constituency here does matter. If AIPAC is or becomes hollow or opposition becomes more vocal and then influential- then it matters.

Your proposal ( I don't disagree in principal) requires the UN or the international community for impose it's will- enforcing the removal of settlers and the wall. So how without severe sanctions of some sort? So how without beginning with the US and our leadership?



Your presentation is incorrect I believe. There are many ( a different nuance) who feel that there must be concessions on both sides but that Israel holds the cards and that the 67 lines are where to begin. The more Israel moves beyond the 67 lines into the future Palestine, the more concessions will be needed. Read that the more Israel steals, the more it has to give up, the harder it makes for itself and a peace agreement. There is an Israeli saying I learned recently with regard to something else but I think it applies: "lo retzini" ( not serious).

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