Lesson from last apartheid president: 2-state solution to fail

Posted: January 6th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: The Left, The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

F. W. de Klerk, South Africa’s last white president, explains why the “multi-state solution” to apartheid didn’t work in his country, and why it would probably fail in Israel/Palestine

One of the ways the whites in South Africa tried to preserve the ethnic separation of apartheid was by introducing autonomous regions for the black minorities, known also as Bantustans. Some of the Bantustans even received “independence,” and unlike the Israeli government, the South African actually tried to have the international community recognize them. It even wanted them to have a seat at the UN but the trick didn’t work – the Bantustans weren’t sovereign nor separate; it was just another form of ethnic segregation and ethnic control. Curiously enough, Israel was the only country in the world to express some sort of limited recognition of their independent status, and one Bantustan even opened a trade mission in Tel Aviv under its own flag.

In an interview last week, the last white president of South Africa and the man who canceled the Bantustans, F. W. de Klerk, told the BBC what made the South African “multi-states solution” fail:

[h/t JSF/via Mondoweiss]

What I supported as a younger politician was exactly what the whole world now supports for Israel and Palestine, namely separate nation states will be the solution. In our case we failed. There were three main reasons. We failed because the whites wanted too much land for themselves. We failed because the majority of blacks said this is not how we want our political rights. And we failed because we became economically totally integrated. We became an economic omelet and you can never again divide an omelet into the white and the yellow of the egg. And we realized in the early eighties we had landed in a place which has become morally unjustified.

Is this where the two-states solution is also headed? All evidence points at this direction. The Jews want too much land for themselves, and their power allowed them to bring the settlement project to the point of no return; despite efforts on both sides, the economies are still linked to each other. One could claim that Israel is not as dependant on the Arab work force as South Africa was on the black work force, yet it still desires the land in the West Bank and the resources that come with it. The only real difference is between the black leadership in South Africa, which didn’t play along with the idea of the Bantustans, and the PLO, which is only too happy to run its own fantasy of an autonomous Authority. It’s not just President Abbas: Palestinian politics is still very much committed to the idea of a nation-state.

According to de-Klerk’s logic, a shift in Palestinian politics towards a consensus around the one-state solution might be all it takes to end any possibility of an ethnic/demographic separation in Israel/Palestine.


(Another) Knesset Speaker endorses one-state solution

Posted: December 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Left, The Right | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Former Knesset Speaker Abrum Burg has an op-ed in Haaretz in which he not only endorses the one-state solution, but calls the entire left to do the same. Burg has flirted with the idea in the past, but he was never so explicit:

So enough of the illusions. There are no longer two states between the Jordan River and the sea… we [the left] must consider how we can enter into the new Israeli discourse. It has intriguing potential. The next diplomatic formula that will replace the “two states for two peoples” will be a civilian formula. All the people between the Jordan and the sea have the same right to equality, justice and freedom. In other words, there is a very reasonable chance that there will be only one state between the Jordan and the sea – neither ours nor theirs but a mutual one. It is likely to be a country with nationalist, racist and religious discrimination and one that is patently not democratic, like the one that exists today. But it could be something entirely different. An entity with a common basis for at least three players: an ideological right that is prepared to examine its feasibility; a left, part of which is starting to free itself of the illusions of “Jewish and democratic”; and a not inconsiderable part of the Palestinian intelligentsia.

The conceptual framework will be agreed upon – a democratic state that belongs to all of its citizens. The practicable substance could be fertile ground for arguments and creativity. This is an opportunity worth taking, despite our grand experience of missing every opportunity and accusing everyone else except ourselves.

The rest of the article is interesting as well; Burg writes against the habit of Jewish leftists to argue on behalf of the state and even the government abroad, thus helping the right carry out its policies undisturbed: “Let the right-wing MKs, the Katzes and the Elkins, travel around the world and show the beauty of their faces without the deceptive layer of makeup we  provided.”

A year ago, asked by +972 whether it’s time to move from a two-state vision to a one-state model, Burg said:

In Israel, there is a real fear of confrontation with the armed messianic forces living among us. Anyway our government policies are drawn from the power of the settler vision. It seems that the only way to balance this is an alternative suggestion of one state between the Jordan and the sea.  Secular, democratic, egalitarian and civilian.

It looks like recent developments and the expansionist policies of the current government have convinced Burg that it’s time to join the growing one state camp.

It’s interesting to note that the current Knesset Speaker, Reuven Rivlin (Likud), a rightwing hawk, also prefers a single state to two, arguing that “this land is not divisible.” Rivlin doesn’t support the “one person, one vote” model Burg is referring to, but mulls over what seems like a multi-national entity, possibly with two parliaments.

This is from an interview I did with Rivlin a year and a half ago:

“There is a conflict in the Middle East between two entities, and they’re both right, each in their own way. This is our only home, and therefore all kinds of solutions can be found. One could establish a system in one state in which Judea and Samaria are jointly held. The Jews would vote for a Jewish parliament and the Palestinians for an Arab parliament, and we would create a system in which life is shared. But these are things that will take time. Anyone who thinks that there are shortcuts is talking nonsense. As long as Islamic fundamentalism thinks that Jews are forbidden to settle in the Holy Land, we have a problem. It will not be resolved by an agreement, even if we obtain a promise from all the Arab states that it will be fine.

“So if people say to me: Decide − one state or division of the Land of Israel, I say that division is the bigger danger.

Who’s next in line?


American-Israeli bluffs and the success of palestinian unilateralism

Posted: April 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

President Abbas has told Newsweek he is disappointed with Obama, but the American President has actually done a nice job of revealing the American double-standards with regards to Israel. Meanwhile, Jerusalem’s hawks are suggesting that in response to a Palestinian declaration of independence, Israel should annex the West Bank. Not such a bad idea

First Lady Michelle Obama, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas & President Barack Obama (photo: Lawrence Jackson/United States Government Work)

Newsweek has an interesting interview with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. It’s titled “The Wrath of Abbas,” and in it Abu-Mazen shares with Dan Ephron his frustration and disappointment over the US administration’s recent moves, and most notably, the attempt to block the Palestinian diplomatic effort at the UN.

The US has vetoed a Security Council resolution demanding Israel would stop all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and in recent weeks the administration has stepped up his rhetoric against the attempt to get UN recognition for a Palestinian state. Instead, the US is demanding that the Palestinians return to direct negotiations with Israel.

The heart of the matter for Abbas is the way the US backed down from its demand to freeze construction in the settlement as a precondition to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

… He [Abbas] told me bluntly that Obama had led him on, and then let him down by failing to keep pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank last year. “It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze,” Abbas explained. “I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump. Three times he did it.”

Naturally, Abbas couldn’t agree to negotiate with Israel as construction in the settlements goes on – not after Washington itself put forward a demand to stop such activities. This is probably what John Kerry and other foreign policy veterans referred to when they claimed that the administration “has wasted 1.5 years.” But I am not so sure time was in fact wasted.

American administrations have been demanding Israel to stop building its settlements – and protesting when Jerusalem ignored them – for decades. All President Barack Obama did was try to actually uphold the stated policy – one that was shared by Democrats and Republicans alike. The result was a major crisis between Jerusalem and Washington, which hurt the President even in his own party.

In other words, the demand to freeze the settlements revealed that all previous demands and condemnations were no more than lip service, and that in fact over the years all administrations shared a support for unilateral Israeli activities in the West Bank and Gaza. This is why veterans of the peace process like Dennis Ross and John Kerry might claim it was a failed policy – because it called their bluff – even if that wasn’t what the President intended to do.

The problem was not Obama’s demands from Israel, but rather the fact that he backed down from them — “came down from the tree,” as Abbas put it — because of his political problems back home. Netanyahu was able to manipulate Washington in his favor, and the administration is now back to the old game: advocating direct negotiations and “monitoring” Israel’s actions on the ground, which is the code word for turning a blind eye.

————–

All this is not enough for the hawks in Israel, who hate Obama with such a passion that they suspect he is behind the recent European moves and even the Palestinian unilateral effort. Ironically, a one-on-one with Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu would have probably resulted with the same headline as Newsweek’s interview with Abu-Mazen (except for the different name in the title, of course).

Meanwhile, the administration is floating the idea of publishing “Obama’s parameters” for a two state solution – ones that are likely to be rejected by both sides, as they are based on the 67′ borders (which Jerusalem doesn’t accept) and exempt Israel from its responsibility for the refugees problem, which is a non-starter for the Palestinians. Still, putting forward guidelines for a solution is not a bad idea, as long as the Americans don’t actually expect Netanyahu to negotiate on them in good faith.

There is zero chance that the Israeli Prime Minister will deliver any kind of solution. Netanyahu will not evacuate settlements; at best, he will create the false impression of agreeing to do it in a far away future, hoping that some turn of events will rescue him from the need to keep up his promises. It’s not just Netanyahu’s character and upbringing that pushes him to the right, but also the hawkish coalition he has built, the hard-line advisors he has surrounded himself with (the latest being the recently-appointed National Security Council Chairman Yaakov Amidror), the messages he is sending the Israeli public, his connection to the neo-cons in Washington, and the threat from Avigdor Lieberman in the coming elections. In short, all signs point in the same direction: Netanyahu is playing on time.

Recently, some Israeli hawks have come up with a new idea: Answering a Palestinian declaration of independence with annexing the West Bank and canceling the Oslo accords (didn’t we do the second part at least a dozen times in the past?). It is unfortunate that this idea has very little hope of materializing. As even the settlers know, the Palestinian Authority and the “disputed” status of the West Bank is this government’s greatest—and perhaps only—diplomatic asset. I don’t suppose the Knesset members who initiated this idea meant that Israel should make the Palestinians equal citizens — those rightwing fanatics want the land, not the people — but annexing the territories will be the first step on a one way road that leads to the one-state solution. And as I wrote in the past, this is an option that should stay on the table.


Jennifer Rubin comes up with the neo-con argument for one-state solution

Posted: February 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: racism, The Right, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Washington Post’s conservative blogger visited the West Bank and returned home convinced Israel should keep it. Many on the left would agree, though not for reasons that would please Rubin

For some time now, settler leadership has been undertaking a PR campaign, designed to improve the way that Jews living in the West bank are presented in the media, and to fight attempts to boycott or isolate them. As part of this effort, Israeli and international celebrities, politician and journalists are taken to tours between holy sites and flourishing settlements in the West Bank. Their goal is to show that settlers are “ordinary Israelis” rather than the violent fanatics you sometimes get to see on TV.

This VIP treatment was recently given to the Washington Post’s Jenifer Rubin, who visited Israel a couple weeks ago for the Herzelia Conference. Rubin visited Ariel, passed by Nablus and stopped at a local winery. Tremendously impressed, she shared her experiences with her readers.

…What I saw surprised me. Even well-informed consumers of international media imagine that the West Bank is crowded, dangerous and replete with roadblocks and officious Israeli security forces. So when one leaves Jerusalem, crosses the Green Line — a cement wall and a checkpoint (not unlike the set-up for an agent at a U.S. border) — and travels up and down the highways of Samaria (the portion of the West Bank extending north), you realize how little non-Israelis know about the Jews who live in territory that is the focal point of so much international attention.

The media terminology doesn’t comport with one’s direct observations. “Settlements” are not hovels tended by goat herders. Settlers are not uniformly religious. The Palestinians who demand the right of return are generally the descendants of those who left Israel proper in 1948; the region is still sparsely populated and was even more so in 1967.

Naturally, Rubin wasn’t taken by her hosts from the Yesha Council (the settlers’ representative body) to Palestinian towns or villages, and the only non-Jews she met were two workers in a Jewish-owned factory. She praises the Israeli landlord for the salary he pays his Arab workers, and engages in a short conversation with the Palestinians, in which she tried to expose them as Hamas-sympathizers, and ends up declaring that “at least for now, economic cooperation has not inspired political realism.” Oh, those ungrateful Arabs.

Rubin is a radical neo-con, so it’s not surprising that her trip to the West Bank reads like a journey to the segregated south, hosted by a hospitable Klan member. Traveling on the Jewish-only highways, Rubin portrays a picture of a pleasant co-existence; she spots a Palestinian in a grocery store and concludes that the boycott attempts goes against the will of ordinary Palestinians. Obviously, she knows nothing about the military courts, the arrests of children and the tortures, the severe limits on traveling from and to the West Bank or the limited access of Palestinians to Jerusalem. At one point, Rubin claims that 95 percent of the Palestinians have no interaction with the IDF. It’s not clear whether it’s her ignorance that fails her, or if she knows the truth – Palestinians encounter soldiers daily, at checkpoints, during nightly raids, in Jewish Hebron and more – but prefers to engage in propaganda.

All this was not that interesting, if it wasn’t for the the political sub-text of Rubin’s post. Even if she doesn’t say it in so many words, it’s obvious that Rubin accepts the settlers’ narrative, according to which (a) the West Bank is the heart of the land of Israel, part of Israeli life and of Jewish history and that (b) for security reasons Israel cannot leave the West Bank. The Zionist-Liberal line was always that Israel prefers not to rule over the Palestinians, but is forced to do so because of the effect of extremist – settlers and Palestinians – on the political dynamic. Rubin presents a different narrative: The West Bank belongs to Israel, but it’s actually not that bad for Palestinians as well.

We are left with the unpleasant issues of equal rights. There are over 2 million Palestinians living in the same territory as the settlers, subject to military control, and with no political rights. Even after Oslo and the establishing of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians can’t travel freely; they are tried in military courts and are subject to the decisions of the regional military commanders. Ben-Dror Yemini, a conservative rightwing columnist for Maariv and the Jerusalem Post, calls it Apartheid (though he blames the Palestinians for it). So who are we to argue?

Much like Rubin, I am not happy with the demonization of the settlers by the media. The occupation is an Israeli project, initiated and executed by government agencies. Blaming it on the settlers, like most liberals do, is making life way too easy. But if the territories are indeed part of Israel, as the settlers’ leaders claim, then the only possible solution would be along the lines of “one person, one vote.” This is one issue the rightwing neo-cons refuse to deal with, and when they do – they come up with the craziest ideas.

A year ago, I interviewed a group of rightwing people who were experimenting with these ideas; among them were former Defense Minister Moshe Arens, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and former Chief of Staff for PM Netanyahu, Uri Elizur. It’s no surprise: One cannot think of another sustainable solution that wouldn’t include the evacuation of most settlements. If Jenifer Rubin’s political sympathies truly lie with the settlers, she should be honest enough to extract the full meaning of her views, that Israel should apply its laws on the entire West Bank population rather than just the Jews, and become a bi-national state.


Settlers and Palestinians to join in protest against the wall

Posted: April 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

An unusual protest is scheduled for Thursday in the West Bank: settlers and Palestinians are planning to march together in protest against the security barrier Israel is building south of Jerusalem.

According to a report on Srugim, a national–religious news site, the protest was initiated by Eretz Shalom, a new pro-peace settlers’ movement. A flayer the settlers distributed (shown below), claims that the planned fence “will damage the nature in the area, hurt the residents of the [Palestinian] village Volga and their fields, won’t add to the security of Jerusalem, and will be a waste of state’s money.”

The settlers invite all residents of the area, “Jews, Christians and Arabs”, to meet at the border police checkpoint on 16.30 and march together in protest.

mitnachalim-Large

Is this more than a gimmick? It’s hard to tell. There has been some talk of peace initiatives coming from the far right recently. Naturally, they all lead to the one state solution, with most of the settlements staying where they are and the Palestinians becoming Israeli citizens. These ideas are yet to be developed, but I wouldn’t dismiss them altogether.

Many people on the left will find it hard to accept the idea of settlers talking about peace, but we should remember that not all the Jews living in the West Bank are like the radical and violent people of Yitzhar. Some of them are from second and third generation in the settlements, and they really struggle to find a solution that will enable them to live in peace. According to another report on Srugim, the people of Eretz Shalom don’t deal too much with politics, and view themselves as a grassroots, regional initiative. I think we should wish them luck.


Incredible: Likud MK going public for one-state solution

Posted: December 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments »

This is from MK Tzipi Hotovely, one of the more rightwing members of Likud:

“Israeli law should be applied on the Judea and Samaria region,” Hotovely said during a conference in the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and stated she did not rule out granting citizenship to Palestinians.

The MK explained that “Judea and Samaria are a part of the land of Israel,” and blamed the Palestinians for the failure of the political process. “We strongly wish to get a divorce, but the other side doesn’t want to separate.”

Hotovely told Ynet later in the evening, “It’s unthinkable that Jews in Judea and Samaria would live under occupation and under a military regime. The distorted policy, which states that every construction permit must be approved by the defense minister harms the most basic rights.

“It’s time to lift the question mark over Judea and Samaria and view the people living there as citizens with an equal status. Thinking ahead, strategically, we should consider granting gradual citizenship to Palestinians based on loyalty tests.”

And with that, the usually unimpressive Hotovely became the first Likud member to face reality: you cannot settle the West Bank and talk about a solution to the Palestinian problem at the same time, unless you are ready to turn the Palestinians into equal citizens.

The “loyalty tests” part is indeed troubling, but let’s look on the bright side this time: if Netanyahu is talking about two states, and the radical right about a bi-national one, it seems that Israelis are finally realizing that the occupation can’t go on for much longer.


PLO senior: I give up the Palestinian State

Posted: November 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments »

The one state solution gaining momentum: Fatah senior and former Palestinian Authority minister Dr. Sufian Abu Zaida said yesterday in a Geneva Accord event that:

“I give up the [demand for] Palestinian state. I want one state. I’m ready to sign a one state [solution] and don’t want two states. If there won’t be a Palestinian state, it will be like South Africa here.”

While Abu-Zaida doesn’t hold any official position in the Palestinian Authority at the moment, one cannot emphasize enough the importance of this statement. As I wrote before, I believe that a clear Palestinian demand for civil rights within the state of Israel is the way out of the current political deadlock.

Instead of playing games around the settlements issue – it seems that Mrs. Clinton has just managed to kill the little hope there was for the renewal of meaningful negotiations – the Palestinians should simply focus on getting equal rights from the Israeli government. This is one fight Israel will have a really hard time winning – in Europe for sure, but even in the US. Are we going to explain that we need to keep the Arabs as second rate citizens so we can have a Jewish majority? How is that going to sound to the Jews who took part in the civil rights movement, or to a nation which just elected a black president?

UPDATE: this is big. Saeb Erekat is in a one-state-mood as well


Forget the peace process (part II)

Posted: September 27th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Left, The Right | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

There were interesting comments to my previous post, regarding the future of the struggle to end the occupation. My basic point was that though the two state solution remains the most popular – and even most likely – idea on the table, we might have reached some dead end, at least as far as the Israeli public is concerned (and to be honest, right now the Palestinians don’t seem too enthusiastic about restarting negotiations as well). My point was that maybe we should stop thinking, at least for some time, about the desired political structure (one state? Two states?), and go back to dealing with the basic human and civil rights problems which are at the heart of the matter. I think that with time, this approach might even lead us out of the political deadlock.

There was one issue, raised in the comments by Aviv and Judy, which I like to answer here. Judy writes: “isn’t there such a body as the Palestinian Authority that the Palestinians of the West Bank vote for?” And Aviv adds:

That the Palestinian’s internal national institutions are less than democratic is not Israel’s problem – civil rights have to be earned in hard work of Palestinian nation building. (In this case it would have to be the first Arab civil society, which is even harder).

This argument – that the Palestinian got their civil and human rights within the PA so that the international criticism on the matter should not be directed at Israel – is very popular with the Israeli right and among Israel’s supporters in the world. The irony is that these are the same people – Netanyahu, Bennie Begin, etc. – who rejected the idea of a Palestinian autonomy during the 90′s, and now they use the autonomy to support their claim that “there is no occupation”.

The problems is that as my right-wing Professor Martin Sherman use to say, sovereignty’s main characteristic is that it cannot be divided. You can divide authorities or jurisdictions, but at the end, in the current international system, there isn’t but one sovereign. In most cases it is the state apparatus, which represents – even in undemocratic regimes – the people. And it is within this sovereignty that civil rights are given.

Now, who’s the sovereign in the West Bank? I don’t really think there is any question. Last month I gave some examples from my own experience, but here is something from today’s paper:

Tensions are mounting between Israel and the Palestinian Authority following Ramallah’s call on the International Court at The Hague to examine claims of “war crimes” that the IDF allegedly committed during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip… Israel has warned the Palestinian Authority that it would condition permission for a second cellular telephone provider to operate in the West Bank – an economic issue of critical importance to the PA leadership – on the Palestinians withdrawing their request at the International Court.

The Palestinian “authority” can’t even decide over the deployment of a cellular provider without an Israeli approval – which comes with very specific, and not at all related, conditions – let alone issues such as air and ground travel, export and import, construction and commerce, and much more. Even more important is the fact that for more than forty years, Palestinians are tried in Israeli army courts, were suspects’ rights are considerably reduced. A fight for civil rights for the Palestinians could start with the demand to incorporate them into the Israeli civilian system.

Read the rest of this entry »


Forget the peace process. It’s time for a civil rights movement

Posted: September 25th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Left, The Right, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , | 24 Comments »

You have to give it to Netanyahu: he has managed to sail through this week magnificently. He got to meet Obama and Abu Mazen on his own terms, without publicly agreeing to a settlements freeze that would have put his right wing coalition in danger; he made no new commitments or promises to the American administration or to the Palestinian President; he enjoys the full support of Ehud Barak on his left and Liberman on his Right, and his speech on Iran and the Holocaust won many praises here. It was, I believe, a cynical use of the Holocaust, but the Israeli public was certainly impressed. To Israelis, the whole world, and especially the UN, has become a sort of a threat – full of boycott supporters, Halocaust deniers, pro-Arab media and anti-Israeli propaganda. So the feeling was that Netanyahu “taught them a lesson”.

Netanyahu’s picture – waving Auschwitz’s blueprint, which was given to him a month ago in Germany – is on the front page of the weekend papers. As Barak Ravid reported in Haaretz at the time, Netanyahu was a bit arrogant, even rude, towards Israel’s friends in Germany who handed him the blueprint, but who remembers this now? The PM is coming back to Israel as a winner, his approval ratings are high, and he made the American president – who is considered by Netanyahu as the biggest political threat he is facing – look like an amateur.

But what’s the purpose of all this impressive maneuvering, except for political survival, which is not a goal by itself? Where does the Prime Minister want to go? Does he have some sort of vision regarding our relations with the Palestinians? What’s his plan? Except for accepting the general notion of a Palestinian state, without explaining how exactly he will get there, Netanyahu never told anyone what is it exactly that he wants to do. I still think that he doesn’t really know.

This issue does not hurt Netanyahu on the Israeli public. On the contrary. Read the rest of this entry »


If I were a Palestinian (the two state solution reconsidered)

Posted: July 25th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: The Left, The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »
Jewish settlements in WB, 2002 (click to enlarge). source: Betzelem

Jewish settlements in WB, 2002 (click to enlarge). source: Betzelem

I’m going on reserve service, so I probably won’t be posting for two weeks or so. Meanwhile, here is what I’ve been thinking about lately.

On March 1998, just before his first campaign for the position of Prime Minister, Ehud Barak was interviewed on a one of the cable channels by Haaretz’s Gidon Levi. At one point, Levi asked Barak where his life would have leaded him, if he was born a Palestinian. “If I was at the right age,” the response had come, “I would have joined one of the terror organizations.”

Thus started a big controversy: some people thought Barak was taking a brave and candid approach, others argued that he was legitimatizing suicide attacks (most people didn’t notice at the time or don’t remember now, but Barak condemned the Palestinian attacks on civilians in the second part of his answer to Gidon Levi). Altogether, the answer might have been a slip of a tongue, but it certainly didn’t prevent Barak from beating Netanyahu in the 1999 elections. Levi himself tried the same trick on Ariel Sharon a few years later, but Sharon ducked the question. Maybe it’s better that way; I believe it is not for Israelis to pass judgment or to give advice on the way the Palestinians fight the occupation.

Still, I would like to use this approach to make a point about an abnormality in the current debate that never ceases to amaze me.

Let me put it this way: if I were a Palestinian “of the right age,” like Barak puts it, I wouldn’t have joined any terror organization, and in fact, I wouldn’t even support the Palestinian fight for an independent state. Instead, I would embrace Netanyahu’s “economical peace“.

I’d like to explain:

Read the rest of this entry »