Bon’s comment on yesterday’s blog, “Obama’s Dilemma: Addendum,” succinctly and articulately captures the “pro-Israel” argument. For that reason, I want to reprint it here, and then respond to it.
What in hell are you talking about? The majority of Israelis support the two-states solution. That's the fact. Likud, Kadima, Avoda, MERETZ, Lieberman (yes!) and even SHAS had committed themselves to this idea in one form or another. If Israeli public would think that Netanyahu is too stubborn, or too weak, or too stupid not to grasp the opportunity to get rid of Palestinians, they would toss him out as they did in 1999. Unfortunately, lots of things happened since then, and lots of Jews had died, and right now Israelis don't think they should move a finger until they have trustworthy, copper-bottomed partner on the other side and the American president capable of delivering. What Obama should have done is to sit on Abbas till the man signs the shortlist of Israelis' expectations - end of conflict, no more claims, demilitarization, "refugee problem" solved outside Israel, no support for Israeli Arab nationalism. Then with this list Obama could turn to Israelis and set the shortlist of Palestinian reciprocal demands: evacuation of the majority of settlements, land swaps, territorial continuity, economic cooperation, water rights, East Jerusalem. Instead, Obama've chosen to press Israel for unilateral concessions, orchestrated a humiliation campaign for a democratically elected Israeli leader, refused to embrace the Zionist narrative in Cairo and then was totally surprised when his strategy backfired. Instead of admitting that your Messiah has acted like an idiot and blew his chance to advance peace, you're prattling about how peace is impossible because the Jews are just too damn strong. Shame.”
Here’s a point by point response:
1. It is true that a small majority of Israelis, responding to poll surveys, usually say they support a two state solution--but they then oppose most of the steps that every serious observer knows are necessary to bring it about. Therefore, Bon’s comment that they support "this idea in one form or another" is meaningless.
2. Even if a majority of Israelis supported a meaningful two-state solution, they would not or could not impose it on the increasingly strong minority who would oppose it, some of them violently.
3. Jews have died since 1999 primarily because they continue to occupy and repress the Palestinians, some of whom violently resist.
4. If Bon is saying that Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad don’t meet his definition of trustworthy partners, then what he is really saying is that no Palestinian leader could ever meet his definition.
5. A president capable of delivering. No president can "deliver"—Bon means impose--a settlement on either side.
6. Just what "unilateral concessions" has Obama "pressed" on Israel? Obama's only "demand" has been for Israel to stop its settlement expansion, the obvious first step--and a small one at that--to a two state settlement. And "pressed?" In fact Obama has caved in repeatedly, even on his minimal “demand.”
7. Just what is this "humiliation campaign" that Obama "orchestrated?" Evidently Bon has in mind the global revulsion against the Israeli siege and military attacks on Gaza, particularly but far from limited to “Operation Cast Lead,” as well as other assorted war crimes that have characterized the Israeli occupation and repression of the Palestinians for decades. And far from "orchestrating" this reaction, the Obama administration has repeatedly dissociated itself from it, as demonstrated by its opposition to the Goldstone report and its pointed ignoring of the similar reports and investigations of other human rights groups, including a number of Israeli ones.
8. “Democratically elected?” To begin with, even a democratically-elected leader is not given moral or legal carte blanche to carry out war crimes. Hitler came to power in democratic elections. So did Milosevic in Serbia, before starting his genocidal war against the Bosnian Muslims. There are other examples.
In any case, Netanyahu was democratically elected only by the Jews, not by a majority of all the people living in land controlled or occupied by Israel. Note I did not say all the citizens of that land, because Israel has solved that rather serious problem for its alleged democratic nature by simply denying citizenship to about 50% of the population.
Or perhaps Bon thinks that the Palestinians are rightly regarded as being citizens of the independent states of Gaza and the West Bank?
9. Obama refuses to "embrace the Zionist narrative?" In fact, regrettably, I’m far from sure he hasn’t. In any case, as is widely understood today, large parts of the Israeli "narrative" have been repeatedly and definitively shown to be false, particularly by Israeli historians, political scientists, journalists, archaeologists—and even by some Israeli political leaders, once they are no longer in office.
It is not “narratives” that should be embraced, but historical truth.