How George Bush is trying to prevent peace talks.
I don’t know how I missed linking to this excellent post by Jim at Objectionable Content last week: "I think that, at times, alarmist reminders are valuable — if the situation is alarming. But one cannot cry ‘holocaust’ at every injustice. This charge has been leveled at some Jewish people, and it is ironic now to see it leveled at Palestinians too."
UPDATE: Whoops, it turns out I already linked to Jim’s post (as Jim pointed out to me via email). You know, I kindathought I had, but I couldn’t find it. Oh, well, it’s good enough to link to twice.
Two articles on the olive grove situation: one from the Guardian nicely summing up recent events, and another from Israeli peace activists searching for a way to help (scroll down for the section about olive groves).
Armed Liberal responds to an email I sent him – thanks, A.L.!. I’ll try to respond sometime in the next week. (If the permalink isn’t working, then go to Armed Liberal and scroll to the entry for October 14, 2002, entitled "I see smart people.")
Finally, I recommend this essay by Michael Walzer, arguing that there are not one but four wars going on between Israel and Palestine.
The first is a Palestinian war to destroy the state of Israel.
The second is a Palestinian war to create an independent state alongside Israel, ending the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
The third is an Israeli war for the security of Israel within the 1967 borders.
The fourth is an Israeli war for Greater Israel, for the settlements and the occupied territories.
Although I don’t agree with every word (Walzer’s take on Camp David is, in my view, overly biased towards the blame-Palestinians-for-everything view), on the whole it presents a very useful lens through which Israel/Palestine can be examined.. Through this lens, he brings up a solid (albeit not new) critique of settlers:
For the settler movement is the functional equivalent of the terrorist organizations. I hasten to add that it is not the moral equivalent. The settlers are not murderers, even if there are a small number of terrorists among them. But the message of settler activity to the Palestinians is very much like the message of terrorism to the Israelis: we want you to leave (some groups on the Israeli right, including groups represented in Sharon’s government, openly support a policy of "transfer"), or we want you to accept a radically subordinate position in your own country. The settlers’ aim is Greater Israel, and the achievement of that aim would mean that there could not be a Palestinian state. It is in this sense only that they are like the terrorists: they want the whole thing.
He also (to bring up a subject that I’ve talked about too much lately) has a good critique of the "divestment" movement:
The current boycott campaign against Israel, modeled on the 1980s campaign against South Africa, aims at a very one-sided delegitimation. And because the other side isn’t led by an organization remotely like the African National Congress, or by a man remotely like Nelson Mandela, the success of this campaign would be disastrous. It would strengthen the forces fighting the first war. Only when European critics of Israel are prepared to tell the Palestinians that there will be no help for a PA complicit in terrorism, can they ask American critics of the Palestinians to deliver a parallel message to the Israeli government. Intellectuals committed to internationalism can best serve their cause by explaining and defending the two messages together.
Waltzer argues for the next step:
Ultimately, the partisans of wars two and three must defeat the partisans of wars one and four. The way to peace begins with these two internal (but not necessarily uncoordinated) battles.
But also acknowledges the vast uncertainties involved in his approach:
An American or American/European sponsored truce would help the moderates on both sides, but, at the same time, the success of the truce depends on the strength of the moderates. Right now, it is hard to judge whether the "reform" of the Palestinian Authority would increase that strength. All good things don’t come together in political life: some of the most moderate Palestinians are among the most corrupt, while the suicide bombers are no doubt idealists. Democratic elections in Palestine may well play into the hands of nationalist and religious demagogues; this is a real possibility in Israel too. Still, a more open politics among the Palestinians would allow public expressions of support for a compromise peace, and that would be a major advance.
I don’t mean for this to become an "all-Israel, all the time" blog, although it’s felt that way lately. Israel and Palestine is a lifelong interest of mine, but it’s not my only interest. There are another few big blog posts on my plate about Israel and Palestine, and then I plan to take a break from the mid-East, so that some of the other topics that have been waiting in line shuffling their feet (Oregon politics, manners and morals, and abortion, for example) will have a chance.
Many of the above links were found via the excellent Third Way blog, by the way.