Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Western liberal supporters of Zionism misunderstand the region

Western liberals, such as blogger Juan Cole, really seem to believe that there is a plausible Palestinian state that could be created that would end the conflict over Zionism.

So what about the Palestinians and allies of Palestinians who genuinely do not accept that Palestine has ever been a suitable place to put a Jewish homeland?

There was a non-Jewish majority when Herzl wrote that should have been able to veto the idea of a Jewish state in the territory, there was a non-Jewish majority in 1948 that should have been able to veto the idea. Today, including refugees and Palestinians under Jewish control, there is a non-Jewish majority that should be able to veto the idea.

Given sovereignty, they will be able to effectively veto the idea of a Jewish state - which from their point of view would serve the cause of justice.

This is a serious structural problem with any conception of a two-state solution.


What does "great friend" mean? Israel makes the US position in Iraq more difficult. If not for Israel, a stable pro-US government in Iraq likely could have been accomplished without sanctions, an invasion or occupation. Israel convinces mainstream Muslims that harboring enemies of the United States is justifiable - which makes the US missions in Pakistan and Afghanistan vastly more complex and expensive. Israel causes the US to publicly support dictatorships in Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere. Israel's security needs drive the US position that Iran cannot be allowed to enrich uranium, despite Iran's clearly legal right to do so. And drives other costly anti-Iranian measures by the US.

It seems to me that Israel unambiguously makes US policy more difficult throughout its region, and nowhere makes it less difficult. "Friend" has a connotation of mutuality, but the US relationship with Israel is one in which the US devotes a huge amount of resources in many ways to its continuation and in return is given the opportunity to direct more resources towards Israel's continuation.

If the US recognizes a Palestinian government as a state, what would that change on the ground? Entry and exit would still be controlled by Israel both in the West Bank and Gaza. Water resources would still be under Israeli control. Israel would still hold Hamas elected parliamentarians in prison. Palestine would still be as powerless as now to protect Palestinians interests from either the Israeli government or Jewish settlers.

Other than one state, there is no solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict. If the US insists that there must be a Jewish state, then US policy will face the difficulties it faces today.

The US problem in the region has never been that the US had taken the wrong tone in supporting a Jewish state. The problem has always, from the modern inception of Zionism, been that a Jewish state in Palestine is incompatible with the rights of the Palestinians and thereby the sensibilities of Arabs and Muslims throughout the region and the world.

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