Why the Israel-Palestine Debate Sucks in ’07

Matt Yglesias, responding to Sarah Stern’s assertion that pre-1967 Israeli borders would be impossible to defend, digs in:

Okay, but given that the ’49 armistice was the result of an actual war, the lines can’t have been all that indefensible. What’s more, the lines were successfully defending in 1967. And Israel’s conventional military superiority vis-a-vis its neighbors has grown larger. And now Israel has nuclear weapons! What’s more, Israel now has peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt. If non-nuclear Israel could defend the ’67 borders against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria combined surely it can defend them now against Syria alone with the help of its nuclear weapons.

I wonder what Stern’s counter-proposal would be. Basically every left-leaning and moderate observer supports a two-state solution, with Israel having roughly pre-1967 borders and some compromise on settlements and right-of-return. People like Stern, Marty Peretz, etc. all critique this ad nauseum, but never say what they want to happen. Do they, like Daniel Pipes, just want the Palestinians to leave (voluntarily, of course)? Do they support Avigor Lieberman’s overtly racist Arab-Israeli expulsion plan? Because as it stands, with one side having a very clear stated position and the other responding with incoherent critiques and no real alternatives, there isn’t any possibility for a real argument.

2 thoughts on “Why the Israel-Palestine Debate Sucks in ’07

  1. I think that I count as one of those left-moderate observers. I support a two-state solution. But “support” and “expect” are two different things. There is a tacit plan to slowly but surely keep building in the West Bank, and grabbing land, while life grinds down to nothing for the Palestinians. The Israelis who accede to this plan can argue, with some justification, that the Palestinians will have done it to themselves. I think that it’s a terrible plan for Israel, both morally and pragmatically; and I would point out that Israel has been complicit in the Palestinians’ downward spiral. But, depressingly, the Israeli expansionists are playing a positional game that is very difficult to stop; nor have the Palestinians been exactly helpful. When you say that there is “some” compromise on settlements, that is a glib summary of the sad truth. East Jerusalem has as much Israeli physical capital as Manchester, New Hampshire. Ariel is as developed as Hanover. The paths to compromise are being gutted.

  2. The Israelis who accede to this plan can argue, with some justification, that the Palestinians will have done it to themselves.
    I don’t see how Israelis who steal Palestinian land can argue with any “justification” that it was the Palestinians’ fault.
    When you say that there is “some” compromise on settlements, that is a glib summary of the sad truth. East Jerusalem has as much Israeli physical capital as Manchester, New Hampshire. Ariel is as developed as Hanover. The paths to compromise are being gutted.
    But there’s agreement on both sides that, developed as Ariel may be, it must be dismantled if any peace agreement is going to be reached. The only disagreements are on the number of settlements being dismantled and the right of return. Granted, those aren’t nothing issues, but as Taba showed Israel has, in the past, been more than willing to compromise on them.

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