I took Volleboy1 up on his offer to read one of his previous articles, Going Left to Center – A personal journey, published at his blog in the Times of Israel in November, 2013, in order to get a closer look at where he stands in recent years on the Arab-Israel conflict.
It is important to engage with those who disagree with your positions in order to outline and understand precisely what those differences are. Far too often we simply assume that because someone is in a different political party, or because they disagree on certain issues, that they are hopelessly backward or malevolent or stupid or what-have-you and, therefore, should simply be dismissed.
I do not feel this way.
That being the case, let us compare and contrast our differences on the key issues that Volleyboy1 raises in his article.
1 - VB no longer favors a division of Jerusalem, but is willing to see a measure of Arab autonomy within a united Jerusalem. - (I agree.)
2 - VB favors Israeli military control over the Jordan River Valley. - (I agree.)
3 - VB believes that the security fence needs to remain, at least for the time being, and even expanded, if necessary. - (I agree.)
4 - VB believes that the Golan above the Kinneret is non-negotiable. - (I agree.)
5 - VB believes that upon the emergence of a "Palestinian State" such a state needs to be de-militarized. - (I agree.)
6 - VB believes that upon the emergence of a "Palestinian State" if state fighters attack Israel, then Israel has the right to strike back. - (I agree.)
7 - VB hopes for a negotiated two-state solution with strong security arrangements for Israel and is thereby opposed to settlement construction as an obstacle to peace. - (This was precisely my position up until, maybe, two years ago. Now I favor a unilateral declaration of final borders.)
The first thing to notice is that Volleyboy1 and I agree on almost all the significant points. We fully agree on points 1 through 6. So, what is the nitty-gritty on the disagreement within the main point, point # 7?
Volleyboy1 wants to see a negotiated conclusion of hostilities under a two-state solution that would leave Israel in peace and security as a democratic and Jewish state. He therefore believes, along with Barack Obama and many other people, that the development of Jewish townships beyond the green line is an impediment to the conclusion of a negotiated settlement.
The problem is that a negotiated agreement on the terms that Volleyboy1 offers is a non-starter for pretty much the entire Arab and Muslim world no matter where Jewish people choose to live.
Arabs insist upon the division of Jerusalem. They oppose Israeli forces in the Jordan River Valley. They think that the security fence needs to be dismantled, despite the fact that it has spared innumerable Jewish lives. They insist that the Golan must go back to Syria. And they will never accept "Palestine" as a demilitarized state and even if they were to agree to any such provision, does anyone honestly think that they would abide by it?
Finally, Abbas continues to insist upon the non-existent "right of return" as one condition, among others, for the implementation of a final status agreement... to the negligible extent that he may even believe in a final status agreement.
What all this means is that there can be no negotiated conclusion of hostilities with a Palestinian-Arab state in peace and security next to Israel anytime in the foreseeable future... which is pretty much what Netanyahu meant when he said there would probably be no "Palestinian" state during his tenure. A mere gander at the history of negotiations between Arabs and Jews between 1937 and the present reveals a consistent pattern of Arab rejection of a two-state solution. Furthermore, the never-ending genocidal incitement toward Jews coming from so much of the Arab-Muslim Middle East demonstrates very clearly that these people are not ready to end the long war.
This being the case, the only possible solution would have to be a unilateral one grounded in Jewish autonomy. And that being the case, it renders the question of building within Jewish townships over the green line entirely irrelevant.
What difference does it make if Jews build in Judea if the Arabs have no intention of ever accepting Israel even within the green line?
Furthermore, it is deeply prejudicial (or "racist") to insist that Jews should be allowed to live in certain places, but not others. By agreeing that Jews should only be allowed to live, within Israel, where Mahmoud Abbas finds it acceptable, western politicians justify the very Arab-Muslim anti-Jewish racism that resides at the core of the conflict to begin with.
What is needed is not for the EU or the UN or the Obama administration to push around the Jews of the Middle East according to the racist whims of the PLO, but for Israel to declare its final borders and remove the IDF to behind those borders.
In any case, as for the issues above, the primary thing separating VB and myself is that after 80 years since the Peel Commission I have come to take the Arabs at their word when they tell us that they will never allow Israel a moment's peace so long as it remains the national homeland of the Jewish people.
Volleyboy1 seems to have not taken them at their word.
I wonder why?