Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What Am I Missing?

Freud spoke about the narcissism of small differences. He might have added that where small differences are really small, they must always be adjusted to seem bigger.

Aaron David Miller, to whom I have been grateful since his thoughtful review of The Tragedy of Zionism in 1985 (more narcissism, I suppose), knows a great deal about peacemaking, but has in recent months positioned himself against the Obama administration taking any new initiative. Now he has published a rejoinder in the IHT to my op-ed in last week's IHT calling for just such an initiative. Here is mine, here is his.

What am I missing?

If I get this right, he is now agreeing that Obama should do something bold, but not articulate "another set of sterile American policy positions." So far so good (wait, is that what he is suggesting I am calling for?). He wants, "not bridging proposals," but "key American principles on core issues...On refugees and security, the president would have to be especially sensitive to Israeli needs; on Jerusalem and borders, to the Palestinians." Oh, okay.

Miller then suggests a different way of selling the proposal. Not a Quartet-Group of 20-Arab League effort, followed by a trip to Israel and Palestine, but a trip to Israel and Palestine "flanked by Arab leaders." (Miller admits that Netanyahu and Abbas are not "remotely" open to this kind of theater, so I am not sure what is gained by leaving out pressure from the rest of the world, but never mind.)

Aaron, how about this:
1) an Obama initiative is critical, and before the election of 2012,
2) the basis for a US proposal would be principles that suggest how to close obvious gaps in past negotiations,
3) any proposal would make sense of what it means to have a Palestinian state "in the 1967 border," anticipating a resolution to this effect in the UN in the fall, and
4) it should be sold through dramatic diplomatic theater over time, and sold directly to the people, knowing the chances that current leaders will immediately sign on are small.


By the way, the indefatigable Ethan Bronner reports that there is a new proposal by eminent Israelis in the works:

"The document calls for the 1967 lines to be a basis for borders, with agreed modifications based on swaps that would not exceed 7 percent of the West Bank.

Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods would go to Israel, and Arab neighborhoods to Palestine; the Temple Mount, known as the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims, would be under no sovereignty, although the Western Wall and Jewish Quarter of the Old City would be under Israel. On Palestinian refugees, the plan suggests financial compensation and return to the state of Palestine, not Israel, with “mutually agreed-upon symbolic exceptions” allowed into Israel."

Again, am I missing something?

This new proposal is exactly like the one Ehud Olmert put before Abbas two years ago and Abbas finally rejected, for all the reasons I outlined in the Times Magazine: Ariel, Maale Adumin, and Efrat, for starters. (Bronner, who helped me with the piece, knows this, of course, but he is just reporting here.)

Obviously, Israelis are going to have to get used to the idea that they are not just talking to themselves. They will not simply be able to dictate a border or ignore long-standing Palestinian objections to the creation of facts.

Which is why we need an American initiative.


Gene Schulman said...

Having read both pieces in the IHT, I find Aaron David Miller's the more realistic. I've already replied to Avishai in an unpublished letter to the IHT and posted on this web site.

Although he outlines some pragmatic steps and proposals, Miller seems to understand that no American president is going to put pressure on Israel, whether before or after the 2012 elections. Why should he? Most everyone is beginning to think that Israeli policies are contrary to the interests of the United States, but I don't believe that is true. Both US and Israeli policies in the ME are identical. They reinforce each other, and although the Lobby is often accused of having too much influence over US foreign policy, in reality, the US leads the way. The goal of both is to maintain hegemonic control in the area. As manifested by their lack of interest in the well-being of the populations - Iraq, AfPak, Lebanon, Palestine, and now Libya, Yemen or the Ivory Coast, why should anyone believe that Israel or the US want peace in the area?

Finally, why is it necessary for the US to be the broker for peace between Israel and Palestine? It is up to the principals to negotiate their own peace. No outsider can impose peace. If they really are sincere about peace, It must come from inside.

Gene Schulman said...

As I see it, the only way out of this impasse, and to prevent Palestine from declaring itself a separate state which would only aggravate its relations with Israel, is for Israel to give up its insistence on being a Jewish state and declare their willingness to integrate all of Palestine into one Israelo-Palestinian secular state with equal citizenship rights for all. The country could be divided into cantons, as in Switzerland, with one federal capital in Jerusalem. This would solve not only the settler problem - they could stay put, but also the security problem. Not a new idea, and perhaps overly idealistic. But the only alternative is perpetual war, aggression and oppression. Unfortunately, that is the current ideology of US/Israeli partnership - chaotic hegemony in the region.

Y. Ben-David said...

The "Eminent Israelis" proposal is actually less than what Olmert offered....Olmert offered for Israel to give up its holiest places in Jerusalem..the Temple Mount, Western Wall, Jewish Quarter in the Old City and Mt of Olives, whereas the "Eminent Israelis" seem to want to hold on to them. They probably figure no Israeli is willing to give those places up.

Dan Kelso said...

Y. Ben-David you say, Olmert offered to give up its holiest places in Jerusalem including the Western Wall.
Where did you hear this?
I never heard this.
I would be shocked if Olmert offered the Wailing Wall.
Even Meretz wouldn't give up the Wailing Wall.

Potter said...

Small differences for sure... as I was reading Miller I was wondering what was so different and then I thought it's his way of being skeptical on the one hand but being able to get some credit on the other should such a plan to ( at the very least) mount pressure by offering solutions and substantial support actually make some breakthrough. Miller disqualifies himself because he is so up front negative-says it's all hopeless at this point. That is not what is needed at the top levels of advisory at this late stage.

What seems to me to be the long shot though is the idea of Obama's willingness to stick his neck out, to see the greater advantage of doing that than doing nothing.

Ethan Bronner is indefatigable and good for him.

Y. Ben-David said...

Yes, he did. It is mentioned in Avishai's original article where he interviewed him. Olmert offered to transfer control of these Jewish holy places to an "international body" consisting of Saudi Arabia, the US, Israel, and a couple of others. Thus the Jewish presence and access would be "guaranteed" by others, not Israel. Now, as you know, the Muslims now claim the Western Wall is a MUSLIM holy place called "Al-Buraq Square" and so they would demand the right to pray there as well, and thus restricting Jewish rights there, at least along the lines of those that existed during the British Mandate, which incoluded a prohibition on blowing the Shorar there. I don't think anyone would think Saudi Arabia would worry too much about Jewish rights and Jewish access, nor would the other members, beside Israel.
Olmert stated that he intended to go back to the original plan for "Internationalization" of Jerusalem in the 1947 UN Partition Plan.

Dan Kelso said...

Y. Ben-David, your totally right what you said.
I did a google search about this.
This Olmert is more radical then Meretz. What drives me nuts about Olmert is, when he was running for PM in 06, he never said he would do anything like that.
Think how insane this Olmert is, he was going to put Saudi Arabia as one of the countries in charge of the Wailing Wall, a country where all Jews are barred from visiting.

gene Schulman said...

Dan Kelso: Maybe Olmert was talking about the new wailing wall in the West Bank, where all Palestinians are barred from passing.

Dan Kelso said...

Gene Schulman, their was no wall before the PLO and Hamas started their terrrorist war against Israeli civilians.

Arafat ordered Hamas attacks against Israel in 2000

Dan Kelso said...

Gene Shulman, how does anyone actually expect for Israel to make peace with the Pals when Hamas and friends are slashing the throats of kids

Dan Kelso said...

Gene Shulman, what do you think Israel should have done, seeing there civilians are being blown to bits by Palestinian suicide bombers who are deliberately targeting elderly Holocaust survivors at Passover Seders, teenagers in pizza parlours, buses, disco's, cafe's and restaurants.

Gene Schulman said...

Well, Dan Kelso, I could think of a number of things, starting with not occupying the West Bank after the '67 war, or not breaking the bones of children during the intifadas, or not run targeted killings of Palestinians in the occupied territories, not destroying homes, or allow settlers to kill women and children, etc., etc., etc. Tear down those walls, free Gaza; I could go on. But you know all that and still persist that it's the Palestinian's fault. Please read my second comment, above.

Gene Schulman said...

Dan Kelso: I don't read the JPost anymore. But as long as we're offering links, here's one that may make your toes curl.


Dan Kelso said...

Gene Shulman, William Cook HA!, thats where she gets her info from.
He writes for the Israel hating Counterpunch and supports terrorism against Israeli civilians.
Try finding a William Cook article where he says one word about all the attrocities the Palestinians and Arab rulers commit.
Then he condems Israel for defending itself in the 48 war.
After the 5 Arab armies attacked Israel in 48, the secretary general of Arab League Azzam Pasha said: “This will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre.”

Hajj Amin Al-Husseini said: “I declare a Holy War, My Muslim Brothers! Murder the Jews! Murder them all.

Gene Schulman said...

Ah, Dan. First of all I'm not a she. But I see yours toes did curl on that link. I won't bother you anymore until you learn a bit of your own history. I could cite several books for you, but in your case, even your own right-wing Benny Morris knows better.

Dan Kelso said...

Gene Schulman, Benny Morris shows what a liar Ilan Pappe is.
Read this great article.
Morris used to be on the left, but once he saw the murderous aims of the Palestinians after Oslo, he came to his senses.


Dan Kelso said...

Bernard Avishai i have a question for you. Do you answer questions on these forums?

Stan Racansky said...

A lots of excitment on this page. I have to put my two cents of ideas into this hot pot. First to Gene, the Israel offered to return all the land won after 67 war back, of course for normalized relation. At that time the Israeli governmant had been smarter. Our Arab friends refused.You have to understand there had been and still is a lot of childish behaviour on both sides.Arab ego had been hurt. To Dan, its a nonsense what you have written about Benny Morris.You should read his books.Both sides are using his writtings for theirs ends and poor guy is trying to explain what he really meant. But nobody listens. Otherwise have a nice day to both of you

Gene Schulman said...

Stan, nice of you to play reconciler, but it doesn't work. Can you cite a reference to when the Israelis offered to return the land after the '67 war? I would refer you to Tom Segev's important book, 1967, for some history about that.

Here is what Ilan Pappe has to say about Benny Morris. Morris wrote one of the first revisionist histories, then he revised his own story and became a right-wing nut.

"We have been there before. In the late 1980s, Israeli historian Benny Morris wrote a similar, sterile, account of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Palestinian academics such as Edward Said, Nur Masalha and Walid Khalidi were the ones who pointed to the significant implications for Israel's identity and self-image, and nature of the archival material he unearthed.

Morris too cowered under pressure and asked to be re-admitted to the tribe. He went very far with his mea culpa and re-emerged as an extreme anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racist: suggesting putting the Arabs in cages and promoting the idea of another ethnic cleansing. Goldstone can go in that direction too; or at least this is what the Israelis expect him to do now.

Professionally, both Morris and Goldstone tried to retreat to a position that claimed, as Goldstone does in The Washington Post article, that Israel can only be judged by its intentions not the consequences of its deeds. Therefore only the Israeli army, in both cases, can be a reliable source for knowing what these intentions were. Very few decent and intelligent people in the world would accept such a bizarre analysis and explanation.

Goldstone has not entered as yet the lunatic fringe of ultra-Zionism as Morris did. But if he is not careful the future promises to be a pleasant journey with the likes of Morris, Alan Dershowitz (who already said that Goldstone is a "repentant Jew") between annual meetings of the AIPAC rottweilers and the wacky conventions of the Christian Zionists. He would soon find out that once you cower in the face of Zionism -- you are expected to go all the way or be at the very same spot you thought you had successfully left behind you."

It all stinks of ugly Zionism.

Dan Kelso said...

Pappe is a known liar.
He says this about Jenin in 02.
Jenin was not just a massacre, it was an inhuman act of unimaginable barbarism.
Obviously Pappe has been watching to much Pallywood.
This article rebukes all the lies that Pappe and the left claim about Jenin.

Dan Kelso said...

Pappe also claimed there was a massacre in 48 in Tantura.
It turned out a radical left wing student of Pappe, Teddy Katz made up the whole thing.
Katz claimed soldiers from the 48 war told him they commited a massacre in Tantura.
The soldiers sued Katz for libel.
When the court listened to the tapes Katz had of recordings he made with the soldiers.
It showed 100% Katz made up the whole massacre claim.
This article shows what a liar Pappe and Katz are about Tantura.

Gene Schulman said...

Nowhere is Pappe's name on the AISH article. So why is he a liar? Pappe may have been a victim of Katz' story, too. Does that make him a liar?

Dan, just because Pappe holds an opinion about Israel and Zionism different from yours does not make him a liar. He is a well respected and honest historian (except in Israel). Because you don't like the history he relates only shows your own inability to face the facts. From what I gather from your own screeds is that, either you are ignorant, or a liar yourself.

Now, let's end this, and let Bernie get on with more important things.

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