My answer to Jon’s most recent post about Israel & the Palestinians

Jon wrote:

”With actual leadership, Israelis and Palestinians could strike useful, sustaining agreements. What both have now are tiny men, men who are out of ideas and have only themselves to blame for this dangerous failure.”

I wrote a long answer as a comment and said that this should probably be a post. Jon asked that I publish it as one. Here it is.



That’s been true since Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. This is fundamentally a fixable problem, and it could be accomplished by either side damned near unilaterally. Frankly, it could be accomplished by the US damned near unilaterally, and Trump was oddly enough in an excellent position to do it when he reached office because both sides were optimistic and both sides preferred him to Obama who was, in terms of the Middle East, a terrible President. It’s the least successful part of his Presidency.

What it would take from the Israelis is leadership willing to stand up to the Imperialistic Orthodox. No settlements, no We Are Entitled To Judea And Samaria. Just “we have to coexist with these people because they aren’t leaving and can’t leave.”

What it would take from the Palestinians is to take a page from Gandhi’s Indian playbook and do this without violence. A non-violent revolution committed to nonviolence gets a state. That would turn the entire issue into a civil rights issue and it would take what really scares the Hell out of the Israelis off the table because most Israeli policy regarding the Palestinians is predicated on reacting to the threat of violence.

What it would take from the Americans is the right offer to Israel. What worries the Israelis more than anything else? Safety. If the Palestinians don’t take the Safety issue off the table, the Americans can by working out a deal that trades damned near all land – the exception being most of East Jerusalem, which Israel would sooner wage nuclear war than give up – for a serious treaty, which doesn’t exist now, preferably in the form of full NATO membership such that an attack on Israel is an attack on the entire alliance with all parties obligated by international law to come to Israel’s aid. That could even possibly result in Syrian civilian (but not military) control over the Golan. I think most of the other NATO nations would go along with it if it resulted in a Palestinian state and defused one of the two sources of tension in the Middle East. (The other one is actually far bigger but this one gets outsized press and international concern.)

At this point, no one is moving. When someone really steps up it probably will. If someone really steps up.

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