Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Right Wing Israeli Government Moves to End Jewish State

Bibi Netanyahu’s response to the UN vote is nothing less than the manufacturing of an unmistakable Pyrrhic victory:

Israel plans to build some 3,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements in response to the Palestinians’ successful bid for recognition at the UN General Assembly this week, a senior diplomatic source told Haaretz on Friday.

According to the source, Israel also plans to advance long-frozen plans for the E1 area, which covers an area that links the city of Jerusalem with the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

If built, the controversial plan would prevent territorial contiguity between the northern and southern West Bank, making it difficult for a future Palestinian state to function.…

Paper, such as the UN vote upgrading the international status of Palestine, rarely competes with bulldozers, unless the drivers of the bulldozers recognize the authority of the paper in question.

Israelis as centrist as former Likud politician and Kadima Prime Minister Ehud Olmert supported the UN initiative.  Staunch supporters of Israel in the US like David Frum recognized the conciliatory language in Abu Mazen’s (PA President Abbas’) remarks at the vote:

I am here to say on behalf of the Palestinian people and the Palestine Liberation Organization: We extend our hands to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peace-making. I say to them: Let us urgently build together a future for our children where they can enjoy freedom, security and prosperity. Let us build the bridges of dialogue instead of checkpoints and walls of separation, and build cooperative relations based on parity and equity between two neighbouring states – Palestine and Israel – instead of policies of occupation, settlement, war and eliminating the other.

The state we want will be a state characterized by the rule of law, democratic exercise and protection of the freedoms and equality of all citizens without any discrimination, and the transfer of power through the ballot box.


Of course, Frum casts plenty of doubt upon the sincerity of these remarks and explicitly accuses Abu Mazen of hypocrisy, which is a bit rich when considered in context.

But that brings us to the Likud led government’s response, which commits to effectively bisecting the occupied West Bank of the Jordan from East to West.  Netanyahu must have deluded himself into believing that Palestinians will settle for three bantustans (Gaza, West Bank North, and West Bank South) as their de-militarized state, with no control of their borders, air space, and water, and whose treaties and trade agreements with other nation-states are contingent upon Israeli approval.  Or perhaps he really believes that if Israel holds on long enough, Palestinians will simply give up and go away.  Maybe he really thinks they will fade from history and assimilate into other nations and cultures.  History demonstrates that this is absurd, at least in the short term calculation of decades and centuries, spans more significant when measured in lifetimes.  Ethically, to wish another people out of existence is an abomination.  

Since neither Palestinian acceptance of a mockery of a “state” nor their historical melting away are likely or represent an ethically sustainablel wish, Netanyahu should expect Palestinians to hold him to Principle #5 of his Likud Party Charter.

ה. קיום משטר ממלכתי-דמוקרטי במדינה: הבטחת עליונות החוק, זכויות האדם והאזרח, חופש המצפון, חרות הפרט, שוויון זכויות והזדמנות כל אזרחי המדינה ומניעת כל אפליה על

.רקע מין, גזע, עדה, דת, מעמד או השקפה

The maintenance of sovereign democratic rule in the state: Assurance of the primacy of the law, human and civil rights, freedom of conscience, individual liberty, equality of rights and opportunities for all citizens of the state and prevention of all discrimination on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, class, or perspective. (translation mine)

Sounds enlightened, yes?  Unbeknownst to most who only know Likud through its odious policies, it grew out of a movement that characterized itself as liberal, at least in the classical sense.  If Ronald Reagan would be booted from today’s Republican Party, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, intellectual founder of this movement, might very well be shot out of a cannon by today’s Likud Central Committee.  

If Netanyahu and his allies are going to scuttle all possibilities for a viable Palestinian state, they will do the same for a viable Jewish/Zionist state.  For the demographic situation that keeps the internal conflict between liberalism and nationalism within Zionism at bay requires two states.  One’s viability depends upon the other’s.  I have been arguing for years, along with a handful of other Jewish Israelis and some Palestinian thinkers and activists, that the one thing that might change the trajectory of things here would be a popular movement among Palestinian non-citizens to apply for Israeli citizenship.  

One of the key arguments against the apartheid analogy has some truth to it.  The ANC didn’t want either to dismantle or separate from the Republic of South Africa, they wanted to join it.  If stateless, occupied Palestinians were to demand full rights of citizenship in Israel, even the Likud would have trouble justifying a refusal.  Israel would be faced with three possibilities: refusing and thus formalizing an Apartheid; instituting a two state solution; or granting these applications and the enfranchisement that they entail, which would enable either a process leading to a bi-national secular state or an agreement to divide into two states from within the Knesset (Israeli Parliament).  

For the record, as I understand the central principle of Zionism to be full enfranchisement of Jews in Israel, not Jewish sovereignty that limits the enfranchisement of others, I would be quite happy in a bi-national secular republic with a constitution that recognizes the dignity of all the competing historical/national narratives of its communities, individual rights and liberties, and ensures that equitable distribution of resources does not depend upon demographic “superiority.”  I bow, however, to the aspirations of Palestinians to build their own nation state.  I may be skeptical that two ethnocratic nationalisms are better than one, but I don’t see myself in the position to dictate that to members of another national/cultural community.

And thus, I understand why an Israeli citizenship movement among Palestinians is unlikely.  For many Palestinians in the territories, this would be a betrayal of their cultural and national identities and an abandonment of their historical narrative.  But it would be a game changer.  The question is, given the  “facts on the ground” established by successive Israeli governments and crowned by this announcement to brazenly vivisect the West Bank, the final straw in rendering a Palestinian state unviable, what else is left?


  1. What struck me most about this last skirmish was what felt like a serious lack of support for the Hamas approach. The Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo mediated a peace instead of shouting “death to jews”, Lybia had no saber to rattle, the Palestinian West Bank stayed out of it, Assad has enough problems of his own to deal with. Most importantly, to my limited view, was much more a feeling that Palestinians in Gaza seemed much less interested in dying gloriously.

    As wrote in a recent Yemen Times oped piece on the Drone War:

    But the reality is Americans really don’t have much to fear when it comes to terrorism. Every year for the past decade, more people have died from slipping in their bathtubs just here in the United States than have been killed by Islamic terrorists worldwide…which has to be making bathtub manufacturers a little nervous.

    When you “drain the swamp” in a conflict it means you make it so difficult for your adversary to thrive that you win. The best way to drain the swamp of this branch of violent extremism isn’t bulldozers:

    It’s Internet connections.

    I think the Chinese “Three Tiers” – Mao and his generation, the generation that followed and is fading now, and the Third Tier who are hitting fifty now – are a good map to the rest of the world as well. The Chinese Fourth Tier – the Millennials – are the real change coming down the pipe.

    They aren’t going to give a damn about all that old crap. Same as Millenials here. Same as Millenials in the Muslim world.

    It’s a very natural process, in the end. Sometimes the older generation just has to take its problems with it into quiet senility.

  2. ….not to mention the increasing infringement of the rights of the 20 percent of Israelis who are not Jewish, leads me to believe that Tony Judt was right, and that basing a state on ethnicity/religious denomination is just not possible in a globalised world.

    Hamas is a mirror image of the exclusion/diminution of others based on creed and background. These two polar principles always lead to violence because the other, defined by things they cannot change, cannot be incorporated into the dialogue, only dehumanised and ultimately destroyed.

    The slow simmering war between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland presented just such a problem. Indeed, from the 1970s to the late 1990s the province suffered the same number of casualties as Israel and Palestine during the two intifadas. The problem was ultimately resolved, partly thanks to the end of the cold war and Clinton’s diplomacy, around the same time as the Oslo accords. As you point out, the same is true of South Africa.

    But your homeland, Strum, is uniquely cursed by being at the centre of both world religious origins, and a source of great energy reserves. And so various external players on both sides of the I/P conflict constantly inflame and refuel it for their own purposes.

    It still amazes me how both Israel,  Gaza and the West Bank, an area with a population below that of Ireland, or Slovakia, can be the hinge of global conflict.

    Cursed be ye who live in interesting places.

    My thoughts are with you, your family and your friends as you try to fight against extremism on both sides

  3. Strummerson

    The conundrum is that we aren’t seeing examples of bi-national states that function very well.  Hell, even the Flemings and Walloons don’t make Belgium work very well.  In the end, I support the two state solution primarily because Palestinians want that form of self-determination.  Dov Khenin, who leads the Hadash party (for whom I may vote) defines himself as non-Zionist.  Yet Hadash is the party that coined the phrase “two states for two peoples” in the ’80s.  It was very bold then.  He still supports two states because he thinks formalizing a single state status will lead to explosions, primarily because of the lack of parity between the two economies.

    As for why Morsi negotiated the truce, Hillary Clinton looked him in the eye and told him to get HAMAS to sign onto the cease fire or the US would block the loan Egypt awaits from the IMF at 1.06% interest.  Someone really should buy Madame Secretary an enormous coke for what she accomplished here in 3 days.  Lots of people alive today because of her that would otherwise be dead.  She already had my vote for 2016 if she runs.  Now I’m willing to commit voter fraud and vote for her at least twice.

    The winners from this conflict are pretty clear to me.  Morsi, Khaled Meshaal (head of HAMAS), and Bibi.  Morsi established himself as a regional power broker.  Meshaal and HAMAS gained legitimacy in EU states and increased support among Palestinians.  No way forward without going through them now, and that’s not good.  But it’s Israel’s doing for steadily and consistently undermining FATAH leaders.  Bibi won domestically, came off as both tough and restrained.

    The only real good news outside the cease fire is that Bibi’s hubris in the wake of the UN vote, which I see as a positive thing, has finally provoked active response.  The irony of him irrevocably placing the Jewish State on borrowed time by rendering Palestine territorially impossible is that EU countries have actually used the term “sanctions” in response.  The Israeli electorate is split between those who basically see Europe as inherently and reflexively anti-Israel no matter what it does and realists who understand that international isolation isn’t an option for Israel economically or politically.

  4. creamer

    makes me question a possibility of a solution. It seems you have a problem with politicians playing short term politics with fear, disregarding the future. Its hard to see what Bibi thinks this response will bring outside of rallying his base.  

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