Monday, December 14, 2015

Lessons from a Sabbath meal

Sar Shalom

One time during a Sabbath meal I had joined with a neighbor of mine, my host started to ask his kids when they would be able to learn, that is to study Torah, with him. As he suggested a few times, the kids would respond that they could not learn then. Eventually, in frustration, he said that he did not want to know when they cannot learn, he wanted to know when they can learn.

Such is the case with explaining Israel's stalled progress towards peace to those who just want to see the conflict end. Throughout the past decade, we have rightfully declared that PA strongman Mahmoud Abbas is not a partner for peace. However, emphasizing reason after reason, which in a fair world would demonstrate that Abbas is indeed not a partner, sound to the end-it-already crowd like just more excuses for not doing anything. What is needed is to identify who would be a partner for peace and what qualities make that person a partner.

Fortunately, Mordechai Kedar has an article up about just such a partner. As Kedar describes, the tribal leaders in each of the major Palestinian cities are partners who would accept Israel as a Jewish state. One could add Mohammed Daoudi Dajani of Wasatiya to this list.

The point of calling attention to these Palestinian alternatives is not about realizing "rights" for the Palestinians, whatever one's opinion is about Palestinian rights. Rather, it is to make a case about what constitutes a viable way forward to any sort of lasting peace. If the current Palestinian powers-that-be (PTB) were amenable to some sort of Jewish sovereignty on some sliver of the Middle East, then providing what is needed for the PTB to agree to the specifics would be the quickest path to peace. However, Abbas has amply demonstrated that he will not accept any Jewish sovereignty on a postage stamp sized plot of Dar al-Islam and that all claims to the contrary are nothing but Taqqiya. Thus, trying to bring about peace by this route would be like Peter trying to end a game of Jumanji by fixing the outcome of a die-roll. Unfortunately, for too many Westerners, this fact without any alternative path to peace is, as Jeremy Ben-Ami would put it, "too depressing."

The alternative path to peace is to identify powers-that-aren't (PTA) that genuinely accept the right of Jews to have a sovereign corner in the Middle East, help them become PTB, and then meet their demands. The impatient Westerners would have two objections to this plan. One would be that it is not for us to choose the Palestinians' leaders. I have no brief answer to this objection, but an answer likely would be needed. The second is that turning the PTA into the PTB would take too long. My answer is that not taking time to turn the PTA into the PTB would be like refusing to take time off from cutting a piece of wood to sharpen your saw because it would waste too much time. If the PTB is not a viable path to peace, then any time lost from boosting the PTA would be time lost from advancing peace. Offer them a choice between preening for the cause of "peace" and doing something that will actually, if more slowly, advance the cause of peace.


  1. Game theory really doesn't apply to the economics of the Bazaar. It never has. You know I know you know has no utility because the other player isn't playing to win, he's playing for you to lose. There's a subtle difference but it's an important one. The Arabs employ the strategy of the Bazaar which is to constantly push back until the other player gives up. It's a non-rational approach. Strictly non-rational.

  2. Western opinion is not a bazaar. What you describe of their strategy is entirely accurate about every PTB, which is why there is no partner among them. However, we cannot just say we cannot make peace with this partner and we cannot make peace with that partner. That is why we have to identify who among the PTA is not simply seeking one salami slice after another until gaining enough to have the capacity to eliminate Israel on its own, and then say that that is a viable peace partner.

    Simply put, the target audience is westerners.

  3. I have a great deal of admiration for professor Kedar, but my reservation lies in the fact that I no longer believe that there is a possible negotiated path toward peace.

    The Jews in that part of the world have been trying to reasonably negotiate for a hundred years and generation after Palestinian-Arab generation has demonstrated nothing but intransigence and hostility.

    This is because anti-Semitism is hard-coded into Islam.

    Thus Israel must act in a unilateral manner to determine and enforce its final borders and to harshly punish any individual or group that seeks to harm the state or the people within it.

    Having said that, however, I would much prefer Israel give professor Kedar's idea of working with tribal leaders and flushing the PA rather than keeping this insidious Oslo farce going.

    One thing is certain, if Hillary is elected the Oslo non-process will continue and then, in short order, we will see a 4th and 5th intifada, probably advancing to the use of guns.

    1. You're responding as though the only objective is to reach a peace agreement. By that measure, anything which does not bring about peace is a failure. However, there is also the objective of convincing the West that we are doing our part towards bringing peace. I have no information with which to assess how successful my suggestion would be on that objective, but I can be fairly certain that ditching the PNM without adopting some alternative process will be seen as seeking to extend rule over the people indefinitely.

      If you have a reason to say "goyim, shmoyim," that is that we should not care what people think, present it. At least that would address the issue of directing efforts to persuading the West.

    2. I agree with Sar Shalom.
      The *only* objective can't be to reach a peace deal. No one , if they're honest, has any idea at this point how that could happen. Some people, like Matti Friedman, think Israel will need to try to just keep things in a holding situation. As imperfect and difficult as that may be. Possibly for a very long time. Indefinitely.
      And that *will* mean, of course, more violence and more conflict. It's awful, but probably the only realistic answer.
      To try to find some - whatever it might be - other pathway is absolutely necessary. People will have different ideas as to what that might be.
      It is of paramount importance to, however much it sticks in the craw, keep demonstrating to the West that Israel is looking for, and wishing for, a permanent plan for peace.
      To talk of taking draconian measures is to fail to understand, apart from anything else, the changes in the military threat that now faces Israel. The build up of force, weaponry, and troops in the region mean the future is going to look very different. And there is no end to that.
      The region is infinitely more unstable than a short time ago. And the new power of Iran is a game-changer. As is the reality of what the geo-political and military situation in Syria is. And what that will imply for all countries, factions, and groups who operate in that region.
      Sometimes, people have nothing that is obvious that they can do. It is seductive to think there is always some serious action that can be taken. But sometimes one may have to play a very long and difficult waiting game. And that is hard but necessary.

    3. Sar Shalom and Kate,

      You both seem to agree, as Kate puts it, that "It is of paramount importance to, however much it sticks in the craw, keep demonstrating to the West that Israel is looking for, and wishing for, a permanent plan for peace."

      So, you think that instead of a peace agreement that the Arabs have no intention of ever coming to, that it's somehow up to the Jews in Israel to convince Europeans that they're not monsters?

      What kind of dance do you suppose they should do in order to convince Europeans that they honestly would prefer not to have their children killed?

      We know that many Arabs want to see their children killed as shaheeds, because they celebrate the "wedding" of the martyr.

      But you honestly think that Israel has not done enough to convince the West of the decency of their intentions?

      Let me tell you guys something. There is nothing, nothing at all - short of national suicide - that Israel can do to convince hostile westerners of the purity of their intentions.

      What might work, maybe, would be if Benjamin Netanyahu were to go on national television, declare the Zionist project overwith, and then shoot his own brains out before a live audience.

      Short of that there is nothing that will make them happy.

      But, seriously, just what do you want Israel to do? Pursue Kedar's strategy?

      Well, anything beats the failed Oslo process, but dealing with independent tribal leaders is not going to incline the French to send Israel bon-bons.

    4. Look, I do not want to make light of the suggestion and it is certainly worth exploring, but as you guys know, I have come to the conclusion that Israel must act in a unilateral manner to declare its final borders and remove the IDF to behind those borders. It should seek to expand diplomatic and trade relations, perhaps looking toward the East, while cracking down hard on violent anti-Semitism within its borders.

      The current Stabbing Intifada needs to be met with an iron fist.

      Israel must show Palestinian-Arabs that if they continue with their Jew Killing Project that they will pay a very serious price for it.

    5. Good to finally be challenged on topic. You are right that it is possible that pursuing peace and offering concessions to Palestinian tribal leaders will achieve nothing with the west. I have experience sparring with a certain moral narcissist at the website of a former stalwart supporter of Israel who likened the Palestinian Emirates plan to bantustans to support that.

      However, there is a chance that it could work. The question is, what are the risks? I'm not aware of any.

    6. Mike,
      So let's say that Israel declares its final borders, but they are not the borders the "international community" thinks it should have, and Israel is still condemned for "occupying" "Palestinian lands." What then?
      Could Israel make a case and have it stick? Or would the EU, the UN and the rest just keep trying to wear them down?
      Like you, I tend to think Israel should declare the final borders and retreat behind them, but I do worry.

      Also, re: Kate's and Sar Shalom's point about convincing the West that Israel wants peace, maybe more force should come to bear that the PLO does not want peace. Maybe Israel needs to put more resources toward exposing that side of things, i.e., be more on a diplomatic war footing.

    7. Sar Shalom, Jeff, and Kate,

      I am not opposed to trying Kedar's idea, but I suspect it won't make things better and might make things worse. Jeff refers to a former stalwart supporter of Israel who condemns the idea because of the word - boo! - bantustans. I wonder who this "former stalwart supporter" might be and if I have had any words with this person in the past.

      My other question is, is there anyone in a position of power who is making noises along these lines? At the very least, Israel needs to break free from Oslo - Oslo now has enough problems of its own - and, if nothing else, Kedar's idea could release Israel from that heinous miasma.

      "So let's say that Israel declares its final borders, but they are not the borders the "international community" thinks it should have, and Israel is still condemned for "occupying" "Palestinian lands." What then?"

      It seems to me that Jeff essentially answered his own question:

      "...maybe more force should come to bear that the PLO does not want peace. Maybe Israel needs to put more resources toward exposing that side of things, i.e., be more on a diplomatic war footing."

      The "international community" needs a little history lesson and perhaps we can give them that in very concise and blunt terms.

      The Land of Israel is the land of the Jews and has been for something close to four thousand years.

      Period. Full stop.

      The Arabs are conquerers who denied basic civil liberties to everyone within their power for 14 long centuries.

      The Jews offered to share that tiny bit of land with their Arab persecutors, but were turned down at every pass of the question.

      If the Europeans do not like it, that is just too bad. They're destroying themselves, anyway.

      Sorry if this coming off rather obnoxcious. You guys, and the other regulars, are the heart of this blog.

      I am not afraid of being challenged, nor am I afraid to admit that I am wrong, when I come to realize that I have been wrong.

    8. Correction, it was Sar Shalom that referred to the "former stalwart supporter."

      My guess is Volleyboy1, but who knows?

    9. Mike,
      You know I disagree. And, as it's very late here, I won't go into anything at length.
      However, it's always worth reminding oneself of this:

      It's also available on youtube, if you google the key words.

    10. Samantha Power is a disgrace to scholarship. The US is not going to invade, and Power will lose any power she has quite soon hopefully to where she belongs, in the dustbin of history. However, she is the product of a system of higher education which has been under assault for decades. That is a real problem.

    11. Kate,

      what exactly do you disagree with?

      You're in Britain, so my words on Europe are going to ring very differently in your ears than in the ears of our Australian or American friends.

      I have essentially said that Europe is in the process of destroying itself, its opinion of Israel is becoming less relevant as Israel explores trade, technological, and diplomatic relations elsewhere, and that any Jews who can leave probably should.

      I suppose that those are bold statements, but I am always willing to entertain the highly unlikely prospect that I am wrong.


      What's on your mind?

    12. To answer about the "former stalwart supporter," I'll only disclose that it is a publication that changed ownership in the past decade and that it was a stalwart supporter under the previous owner. It was and remains a clearly liberal publication on domestic issues. Under the new owner, there is very little coverage of the Middle East, but what little there would not be confused with what was carried under the previous owner. The moral narcissist who bandied about the word "bantustan" never agreed with the publication's position on Israel during the previous ownership.

    13. Jeff: Also, re: Kate's and Sar Shalom's point about convincing the West that Israel wants peace, maybe more force should come to bear that the PLO does not want peace.

      That is a definite objective of mine. By my understanding, one obstacle to convincing westerners that the PLO does not want peace is the belief that accepting that means believing that there are no Palestinians who want peace. Calling attention to tribal leaders and to Dajani would clear away that obstacle and thus facilitate the case that the PLO is not a partner.

    14. Sar Shalom,

      My guess is that you are speaking of The New Republic.

      I am also guessing that I am not the only one who misses Marty Peretz.

      Do people still read The New Republic?

  4. Take this silly notion of 'peace' and toss it out the window entirely. "Peace" as framed by the left is not the absence of conflict. It truly means to them the active endorsement of everything your enemy wants to wreak upon you. "Peace" is an attempt to set the water level of atrocities to an 'acceptable level'. "Peace" is actually a step back.

    What we should hope for is a heavily armed truce akin to the Korean DMZ. No aggression no conciliation, nothing. They don't exist to us we don't exist to them. Maintain a permanent state of war with a doctrine that any attack will be met with 10x the response.

    1. This goes along with what I have said for years. You only have real peace when one side surrenders. Look at what passes for "peace," with Egypt and Jordan. Germany and Japan are what peace looks like.

  5. " Two-thirds of Palestinians support knife attacks on Israelis, a new poll has found.

    According to a poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 67 percent of Palestinians support the use of knives in the current wave of terror attacks against Israelis, while 66 percent believe that “if the current confrontations develop into an armed intifada, such a development would serve Palestinian national interests in ways that negotiations could not.”

    "Kill," that 2 thirds (literally or metaphorically,)and problem mostly solved.

    1. “if the current confrontations develop into an armed intifada, such a development would serve Palestinian national interests in ways that negotiations could not.”
      They're looking at what violence directed against Israel has done for Hamas, i.e., sympathy and money from the used car salesman known as the EU, etc. But they never look at what it never actually gets them, which is anything beyond being on the dole. Do these people even know what the current wave of attacks is about? I mean, beyond their unquenchable appetite for Jew hatred. I think we can safely do away with the notion that it was ever really about a third holiest religious site. It could have been about the third holiest toilet seat. Any excuse will do.

    2. OT
      Sam Harris tries to have discussion with Noam Chomsky. I could have told him, but I guess he needed to find out for himself. As I tell Chomsky zombies, if you love him that much don't ever fact check him, with complete confidence that they never will.

    3. Jeff: Your first comment brushes on the issue I'm trying to address. The Europeans and other western travelers of palestinianism are keeping the Palestinians, including the most irredentist among them, on their dole. Some do so in order to put the uppity Jews in their place, other out of a misguided but sincere desire to advance the cause of peace.

      Unless you can relate it to convincing the latter type of palestinianism supporters to change their ways, everything about Palestinian support for terror is irrelevant. Given that our attempts to flag such support has failed to convince many, if any, western dupes to change their behavior, is it not worth changing tack?

    4. Jeff,
      I just revisited that exchange between Sam Harris and Chomsky. Thanks for reminding us of it.
      On the other thread, in case you missed it, I suggested a youtube link to you re Chomsky which is really very funny.

    5. k,
      Thanks k, I will check it out. And thank you for all the other links. I do look at them even if I don't always comment. Unfortunately, I have certain time constraints that have held me back from some of the books you have recommended. In due time...

  6. If you pay close attention to most Chomsky 'presentations' you'll see that he lugs around the same ancient sheaf of yellowed papers. They are exactly the same talking points he's been using for 45 years. His thought and his view has not changed one iota in a half century. No evolution, no refinement at all. His thinking is impermeable.

  7. Must-read article from Nick Cohen:

    In Standpoint.