Thursday, January 1, 2015

A tale of negotiations

Sar Shalom

A friend of mine once told me a story about negotiations between Russia and Lithuania. I have no idea whether this tale is genuine or apocryphal, but either way, it is illustrative.

One time when the Russians and Lithuanians sought to end one of their wars, they brought delegations to meet for negotiations. To prevent any language problems during the negotiations, each side sent a Jew from their delegation so that the negotiations could be conducted in Yiddish. After one of the sessions, the Russian Jew returned to his delegation and one of his comrades asked what the Lithuanians want. The Russian Jew responded that it was not worth discussing, they wanted all the land where the Jews prayed according to the Lithuanian rite. His comrade said that that sounded reasonable. The Jew answered, "You don't understand. They want Moscow!"

Such is how the the Palestinian national movement (PNM) negotiates. The PNM makes demands that sound reasonable to someone without an insider's understanding, but to anyone with fundamental knowledge of what's inside, demonstrate a clear demand to take everything.

A slight twist on the Lithuanian negotiating strategy is that Abbas knows that Israel can see through his veil of reasonableness as readily as any Russian Jew and thus is as unlikely to meet his demands as Russia is to withdraw from Moscow. However, his strategy is to present his demands to an international audience that knows the situation the way the typical Russian non-Jew knew Russian Jewry, and has no desire to know any more, and thus see his demands as reasonable. Thus, when they see Israel rejecting demands that they see as reasonable, they open themselves up to PNM suggestions that if "reasonableness" would not convince Israel, BDS and diplomatic isolation should be deployed to help Israel see reason.


  1. Precisely.

    And the correlation to this is that we continue to argue our case on their turf, using their terms.

    Just as the Israeli government refuses to forcefully state the unquestionable fact that the Hamas charter calls specifically for the genocide of the Jews, it also discusses the broader conflict within terms created by the Arab governments... sometimes even in consultation with the now thankfully defunct Soviet Union, from back in the day.

    In any case, you are on to something here, my man.

    Expand on it over time.

  2. Calling their bluff can work. Agree to anything, everything, Sight unseen. Whatever it is. This would leave the Arabs stumbling and stammering for a comeback as it truly is the only thing they never want to occur. "Negotiations" could be strung along for decades on that single issue. And at each of those steps, continue to agree to everything while doing nothing practical to advance that agreement. Just keep agreeing and praising them for their great wisdom and tell them they've won.

  3. I/P has been pretty quiet over at dHamas lately but livened up with this post about the genocidal terrorist Palestinians applying to the ICC (kinda like Jeffery Dahmer applying for Chef's school.)

    Naturally all the usually suspects are elated but a couple of Pro-I's appeared including one guy I never heard of before, Proteus7. The guy has some great stuff to say but got HR'd like crazy from the Israel hating crowd. Who'd a thunk that? lol

    1. Daily Kos antisemitic anti-Israel fanatics have no use for facts. They mocked Karl Rove for saying it, but many of those very same people really do create their own fantasy 'reality' on this issue which is completely disconnected from virtually all documented facts of the situation and history of the conflict.

      What on earth is the least bit 'controversial' about anything within that comment? I suppose the upside is at least that the more those extremist clowns have been allowed to bully, shout down and stalk reasonable people off that site, the more they've made that hate site completely irrelevant to any serious politicians that matter.

  4. As Professor Jacobson says:

    It’s not about the hummus on the shelf, but the void inside those anti-Israel progressive Jews who have given their identity over to being anti-Israel progressive Jews.

    That’s why it’s so hard to reason with them. It’s not about Israel. It’s about their own inadequacies and insecurities, and emotional void that we can’t fill for them.

    Not even with locally-produced, Israeli-free hummus.

    Israel is just a pretext for setting loose emotions that originate elsewhere.

    It's not just Jews either, but many others whose identities would be in jeopardy, who save all their venom for Israel, not others, which makes them antisemitic bigots.

    Would love to see someone throw that back at them.

  5. "However, his strategy is to present his demands to an international audience that knows the situation the way the typical Russian non-Jew knew Russian Jewry, and has no desire to know any more, and thus see his demands as reasonable.

    My question is why does so much of the world have no desire to know any more, and what can be done about it?

    Like Mike noted, language matters. One key problem is that it's probably two or three decades too late to reverse that particular damage.

    1. Sticks and stones may break my bones... but words cause permanent damage.