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Israel’s Legitimacy is not dependent on a Palestinian State, or The NY Times

Israel’s Legitimacy is not dependent on a Palestinian State, or The NY Times

The truth bites NYT columnist Thomas Friedman in the face, but he ignores it.

We hear from critics of Israel that Israel needs a two-state solution to be  legitimate.

Without a Palestinian state, the argument goes, Israel will rule over millions of resentful Palestinians to whom it will have to deny their basic rights in order to maintain its Jewish nature. Or if Israel enfranchises the Palestinians, they could overwhelm the Jews with their votes and then Israel would cease to be a Jewish state. So the reasoning goes, without a separate Palestinian state, Israel will either cease being Jewish or democratic.

But there was already a separation achieved in 1993, with the signing of the Oslo Accords.

By the end of 1995 Israel had withdrawn from the major population areas in the West Bank, leaving over 90% of Palestinians under the political control of the Palestinian Authority. In 2005, Israel “disengaged” from Gaza ending the occupation of that territory.

On the political front, Yasser Arafat rejected a two state solution from then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. In 2008 Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas rejected a peace deal from then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Two years ago, Abbas rejected a framework agreement that current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reluctantly agreed to.

So the problem isn’t the occupation but what the Palestinians have done or haven’t done with the opportunity.

By focusing strictly on Israel, the peace processors have absolved the Palestinians of any responsibility for their own plight. Worse, by making Israel responsible, they give the Palestinians the ability to determine Israel’s legitimacy.

Really it’s a perfect arrangement for the Palestinians they have veto power over the peace process and the escape all culpability for the absence of a peace agreement.

Aside from this procedural flaw in placing the sole or major burden of making peace with Israel, there’s also a huge practical flaw. With whom should Israel, can Israel make peace?

This problem was underscored by Thomas Friedman’s column last week. Talking about the growing mess in the Middle East, Friedman starts off by blasting Netanyahu for being the “the founding father of the one-state solution.” But Friedman did not stop there.

And Hamas is the mother. Hamas devoted all its resources to digging tunnels to attack Israelis from Gaza rather than turning Gaza into Singapore, making a laughingstock of Israeli peace advocates. And Hamas launched a rocket close enough to Tel Aviv’s airport that the U.S. banned all American flights for a day, signaling to every Israeli, dove or hawk, what could happen if they ceded the West Bank.

But Hamas was not alone. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, sacked the only effective Palestinian prime minister ever, Salam Fayyad, who was dedicated to fighting corruption and proving that Palestinians deserved a state by focusing on building institutions, not U.N. resolutions.

Friedman makes two important observations in these paragraphs. It’s like reality bit him in the face but his instinct to blame Bibi first and mainly didn’t allow him to comprehend the implications of what he wrote.

First of all he notes that Hamas poses an existential threat to Israel. If Hamas had launched its wars against Israel from the West Bank instead of Gaza the carnage would have been many times worse (for both sides.)

He also noted that even the moderate (or less extreme) Abbas has done nothing to build the institutions of statehood. Compounding this problem is that the Palestinian Authority doesn’t control Gaza, meaning that the PA isn’t even fully sovereign over the areas it controls.

Politically no two-state solution is possible right now. Security-wise no such solution exists right now either. That is why even Isaac Herzog, head of Israel’s center-left opposition, said in January that “I don’t see a possibility at the moment of implementing the two-state solution.”

Given the lack of a partner to make peace, it is not Israel’s fault that there is no peace. Nor should Israel’s legitimacy be dependent on Palestinian goodwill or competence.

Though it’s off the major topic of this post, there is another important point to make about Friedman’s column.

There is a bigger problem with the column, which has to be one of the worst I’ve ever read. It’s a bigger problem than his treatment of Israel.

He wrote, “That conversation came back to me as I listened to the Democratic and Republican debates when they briefly veered into foreign policy, with candidates spouting the usual platitudes about standing with our Israeli and Sunni Arab allies. Here’s a news flash: You can retire those platitudes. Whoever becomes the next president will have to deal with a totally different Middle East.”

Yes. And there’s a reason why the Middle East looks so much different from the way it looked eight years ago. But for some reason the name Obama appeared only once in the whole column.

If Friedman is constitutionally incapable of giving Netanyahu or Israel much credit, he is similarly incapable of blaming Obama for his disastrous stewardship of foreign policy. But an article in Sunday’s Washington Post makes the case (at least implicitly) of how bad that leadership has been.

Syria’s civil war long ago mutated into a proxy conflict, with competing world powers backing the rival Syrian factions almost since the earliest days of the armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad.

But perhaps never before have the dangers — or the complications — of what amounts to a mini world war been so apparent as in the battle underway for control of Aleppo.

Power politics abhors a vacuum and with the American retreat from the Middle East, Russia and Iran have stepped in. The death and destruction and, yes, the mini world war are the results of Obama’s abdication.

[Photo: Thomas Friedman]


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I’m pretty comfortable in saying Friedman is wrong about EVERYTHING he rattles on about, not just Israel.

Thanks for your post.

Israel needs to change its’ political system
The Israeli paralimentary system like all of these weak systems, has no accounatability of politicians,

A system similar to the US, with districts and someone elected by the district encourages accountability.

Israel is a very small population and direct election of politicians and voting directly for a leader will stop this ‘not my fault’ syndrome. This also has the advantage of fixed terms which leads to less deal making to stay in power for any particular seat. With districts all sectors get a chance to have people they want represnt them.

A national referendum demanding a change needs to happen. Let the people decide how they want to be governed.
Fat Chance!

Dems will never fail to blame Israel and give a pass to BHO and
all Progs, ain’t gonna change.
Friedman is the examplar.

an interesting read is

Friedman is a joke.
Sad note, passing of a hero.

Very few Americans have ever heard of Avigdor “Yanush” Ben Gal
At about 2 p.m. on October 6, 1973, Syria and Egypt launched a coordinated surprise assault on Israel. IDF forces faced overwhelming odds on both fronts, but Israel had some breathing room in Sinai against Egypt. Not so on the Golan Heights, where Ben Gal deployed with his brigade.
Then, as commander of the IDF’s crack 7th Armored Brigade, he arguably saved the Jewish state from destruction, and both established and proved the tactical and operational concepts for defending the West against mass Soviet-style tank assaults.

At about 2 p.m. on October 6, 1973, Syria and Egypt launched a coordinated surprise assault on Israel. IDF forces faced overwhelming odds on both fronts, but Israel had some breathing room in Sinai against Egypt. Not so on the Golan Heights, where Ben Gal deployed with his brigade. There only a few scant kilometers separated the front line from Israel proper. The Syrians threw 30,000 troops and 1,500 tanks (supported by as many artillery pieces) at the Israeli line. That line was thinly held by the under-strength 188th Barak Armored Brigade in the southern Golan and by Ben Gal’s brigade to the north. Between the two units, the Israelis deployed 177 tanks, about 50 artillery pieces, and fewer than 3,000 infantrymen.

In three days of bloody fighting (in which the Barak Brigade was effectively wiped out, with both its commander and deputy commander killed in action), Ben Gal held the front together with surviving elements of the 188th and his own brigade. In this action, Ben Gal’s tanks savaged the Syrian assault, destroying 600-800 tanks (plus hundreds of other armored vehicles). Ultimately, the 7th Armored stopped the Syrian attack cold, though at the conclusion of the fight, fewer than a dozen IDF tanks were still runners, the rest destroyed, damaged, or broken down. A day after the defensive fight concluded, the surviving tanks of the 7th Armored, along with reserves, counter-attacked into Syria.

ugottabekiddinme | February 16, 2016 at 6:31 pm

Hmmm. How many times have the opponents of Israel rejected a two-state solution? I can think of at least two:

One, when the state of Israel was being organized and the UN set up a two-state solution. Israel was OK with it but the Arabs rejected it and launched an unsuccessful war.

The second one that I clearly recall was when the PM of Israel (I think it was Ehud Barak but am not sure) made a territorial proposal that satisfied nearly all the public demands of the Arabs, but that criminal Yassar Arafat rejected it, to his face. . . and in front of then President Clinton. And the intifada was on.

Meanwhile, after 68 or 70 years of refugee camps, etc. and billions of aid, their intransigence never eases.

Can we just accept that one side does not want anything short of Israel’s annihilation, and move on?

There can never be a peace between the moslems and the Israelis. There is an ironclad, inflexible rule of islam which mandates the taking back of land once held by moslems, but now held by infidels. It is the highest duty of a moslem to fight to take the land back. That duty is called fayrd ayn. No able bodied moslem man may turn the obligation down. Furthermore, no treaty in islam is permitted to last more than 10 years. These are the rules of islam, misjudge them at your own risk.