Friday, May 27, 2011

It seems that some people have a hard time understanding what was so problematic about Obama's speech. This is especially the case of Jews committed to the Democratic Party (or, more precisely, committed to a particular self-image) at all costs. In order to explain the point succinctly, it is necessary to say explicitly something that Israeli politicians generally talk their way around.

There will be no peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world. They want us dead. We engage in sham "negotiations" with them only because of the high diplomatic, economic and political price of not doing so.

In order to maintain the appearance of negotiating, we need to state positions on the central issues. There are two tactics with regard to this. One is to offer concessions that are limited enough -- either territorially or functionally -- to do little harm in the event that they ever need to actually be paid. This is a fool's game because the amount we can profitably concede in the face of continuing hostility is so limited as to not even constitute the appearance of negotiating. The second tactic is to condition any concessions on corresponding Arab concessions that they are unlikely to ever pay. At the moment, requiring cessation of claims on the part of the Arabs is a sufficiently high bar, though not without risk.

What Obama did in his speech (and what Europeans have been doing for years) was to counter both tactics simultaneously. First, he demands concessions (the 1949 armistice lines as the default in the absence of agreement on swaps and no Israeli military positions in the conceded territory) that are indefensible in the absence of genuine stable peace. Second, he demands these concessions prior to cessation of claims by the Arabs (refugees and Jerusalem to be negotiated after borders).

There is a point at which the price of participating in these sham negotiations becomes higher than the price of not participating in them.


Anonymous Big Maybe said...

"There" will be no peace.

Thing is, Egypt and Jordan want Jews dead, too. But some sort of peace, sham or not, held together for decades. The world wants to see this happen with the rest of the arab nations as well.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous local said...

Couldn't have been stated better. First word in the second paragraph is a typo.
Good Week.

7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is your reason for neglecting to acknowledge that substantively George Busb said the same sort of things? The republican tendency to forgive every W sin and distort every Obama statement is like something out of Orwell. if I didn't know better I'd say the old primitive Jewish fear of darkies was beneath it all.

Also, thirty years ago paranoid geniuses like you said the same sort of thing about Egypt and Jordan, but the peace with those states has held.

Finally let me remind you that Barak Obama isn't the king of the world. He's only the president of the U.S. When bush called for retreats and givebacks and the rest Israel ignored him and the the world continued to turn. Obama can be likewise ignored without all the fuss and drama and finger pointing. Substantively Bush and Obama have asked Israel to do the same thing. Why one can be ignored and remain Israels best friend ever, while the other is an existential threat is a mystery for the ages.

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Terry said...

Well that's a coherent and clear view, and there's no proving any other perspective either. I applaud your honesty and directness.

The one nagging question you of course need to grapple with is what to do with those nasty interloper Palestinians, given that you would never allow them as citizens in your State. Murder and banishment, I presume are too distasteful. Subjects of occupation without democratic rights to vote, travel, etc., I presume you recognize, is unacceptable in the international community. And you're far too sophisticated to say "Who cares what they think?", because you understand that the viability and survival of the State of Israel is dependent on its capacity to act as a trading partner internationally as well as to benefit from the U.S. military-security apparatus, often indirectly and at times, directly.

So, the best you can hope for is more PA-Hamas agreements and more rejectionist positions from the Palestinians, in order to justify making any further concessions, because all concessions, by their very nature, are worthless in heading towards a larger objective of seeking a comprehensive peace. All such objectives are hopelessly naive at best, posing ever more dangerous risks to Jewish lives, at worse.

The entire "peace" process being a sham, the only sensible strategy is to delay as long as possible and give as little as possible. No vision, no expectation of improving inter-grouping dynamics, no perspective other than "they want to kill us". No hope, other than the hope to delay, obfuscate and hope and pray for Divine intervention.

How very depressing.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Indeed I can face the reality that I live among millions of people committed to killing me and be depressed. Or I can deny that reality in the face of overwhelming evidence and be killed. We seem to disagree about the right choice.

10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Big Maybe:

Jordan stopped fighting against Israel even before there was a peace agreement. Once Hussein found out that living with a strong Israel was safer than living with a strong PLO, he threw the PLO out. This was decades before the peace agreement. Basically, the peace agreement with Jordan accomplished little more than to further drain Israel's already low water supplies.

Regarding Egypt - wait a year and see what's left of the peace agreement once the Muslim Brotherhood is in charge there. "The world" may want to see me or my children left defenseless when the next peace contract gets torn up. I'm less interested.

9:21 AM  
Blogger treppenwitz said...

"There is a point at which the price of participating in these sham negotiations becomes higher than the price of not participating in them."

Does Obama's speech mark our having reached taht point. Does Netanyahu's?

Inquiring minds want to know.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Shalom Dover said...

I just read this again (come on, Ben give us some fresh posts - we're so desperate we're re-reading old comments!).

Stunningly prescient comment by Anonymous (9:21 p.m., responding to Big Maybe).

"Regarding Egypt - wait a year and see what's left of the peace agreement once the Muslim Brotherhood is in charge there."

If my chronology is correct, this was posted before the "Arab Spring" started - and here we are, about half a year later, hoping Anonymous' prediction doesn't arrive ahead of schedule...

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What did you think of Netanyahu's speech to the UN

11:11 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home