Friday, August 17, 2018

What the conflict is about

Sar Shalom

An underlying issue in the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is what is the fundamental issue at stake. It is underlying because there is an assumption in the western intelligentsia that there is a parcel of land that two sides want and that the conflict is about how to allocate it. Following this logic, Israel maintains some degree of control over all of the land, at a minimum entry in and out, while the Palestinians do not. Therefore, by this reasoning, Israel's actions of relinquishing control or not show Israel's willingness to compromise, whereas the Palestinians, who have no such control to relinquish, are incapable of actions by which to judge them, and thus can only be judged by their words.

A frequent subject of Israeli hasbara is to emphasize Israel's adherence to the Law of War standards. However, if the Palestinian grievance is only their lack of a state and Israel could obviate the use of force, whether adhering to the Law of War in doing so or not, by just fulfilling that reasonable grievance, we will never gain international sympathy. In order to help Israel's international standing, we must attack the "just want a state" narrative. We need to convince people that the real issue underlying the conflict is that the Zionists abrogated the Pact of Umar (Pact) and that the Palestinian national movement (PNM) will accept nothing less than the removal of all Jews who refuse to abide by the Pact. Note, I am not saying that we need to just say that the issue is Palestinian rejectionism, we need to convince others that that is so, a larger task.

A start in doing so would be to pose the question of what would the PNM do if all they wanted was a state of their own and what would they do if they wanted an end to Jewish self-determination? Proponents of the just want a state doctrine would say that PNM declarations in western languages that they recognize Israel is all that is needed to show that they do not seek an end to Jewish self-determination. However, all that is needed to induce those declarations is a strategic decision to court support from those for whom ending Jewish self-determination is unacceptable. As such, declarations in western languages are compatible with both hypotheses and thus evidence for neither.

On the other hand, as Einat Wilf frequently states, peoples who just want a state, when presented with an opportunity, will say "yes." They will do so no matter how short the offer is of what they want, with the example of the Yishuv accepting the Peel Commission recommendation. As such, the PNM's refusal of the offers made so far contradicts the notion that they "just want a state." However, if the goal of ending Jewish self-determination, then they will not do anything that would undermine western support for eradicating self-determining Jews, without giving them the ability to do so without western support. The presence of any Palestinian state recognized by Israel, unless augmented by a right of return, would create exactly that situation. Lo and behold, they are conforming to that.

On a separate line of evidence, I have written before that our condition for making a deal should be a consistently reinforced declaration that:
  • The Jews are a people
  • The Jewish people are deeply connected to the land of Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular
  • There is no place for the Pact of Umar in today's world
The issue is, how would the "just want a state" and "eradicate Jewish self-determination" hypotheses affect the PNM's willingness to do so? If the PNM just wants a state, then anything that would not detract from that would not be an objection. As such, a hypothetical State of Palestine that recognizes that the Jews are a people who are deeply connected to Israel and Jerusalem would be no less a State of Palestine than one that does not. The same goes for renouncing the Pact of Umar. On the other hand, if the goal is eradication of Jewish self-determination, then one concern would be aligning that objective with "justice." In that vein, denying a people of self-determination is an injustice as is denying that people its homeland. As Einat Wilf has noted, this is not a problem if the Jews are only a religion and not a people because then ending Jewish self-determination would deny any people of self-determination. Similarly, insisting that the Jewish attachment to Jerusalem is a fiction to justify stealing Jerusalem from the Palestinians is a lie to justify inverting the injustice of denying Jews their homeland into a justice of "restoring" Jerusalem to her "rightful" Palestinian owners. In that light, "just want a state" would not explain the PNM's refusal to make the three-fold declaration, but "eradicate Jewish self-determination" does.


  1. I look at the race-pimp model. The race-pimp model says that no solution is either desirable or not not desirable. There is no solution no conclusion, only stasis. Like the existence of organized crime. A little bit will be forever as long as it doesn't get too big but the goal of law enforcement is never to eradicate it because then people would question the need for cops. The race-pimp model is always complain about everything all the time until the end of time because that ensures the permanent existence of race-pimps. It's an industry in and of itself. Race-pimps don't want even what they themselves demand. That would terrible for them. Arabs don't want to live to see the eradication of all Jews, that would be terrible for them too. What they want is to be a permanent thorn in the side of the Jews

  2. This is not Maimonides' view. By the way, precisely how many Moslems have you discussed this issue with?