Matt Yglesias, one of the more prominent young Jewish US bloggers writes, certainly correctly, that Al-Qaeda would not go out of business if a Palestinian state was created. I imagine Yglesias' point is that Al Qaeda's hostility against the US would continue even after a fair resolution to the dispute over Zionism has been reached. If that's his point, where he's wrong is in his belief that the creation of a Palestinian state would constitute a fair resolution of the conflict.
It is weird because Yglesias, like any reasonably informed follower of events in the Middle East, could easily produce a list of conditions that the Palestinian state would have to submit to and can easily understand why any condition on that list would be unacceptable to the Palestinians and those in the region who empathize with the Palestinians. But he will not allow himself to take the next logical step forward to understand that if those conditions are imposed, many Palestinians and those who would support them would not consider it a fair resolution.
Examples of the conditions I'm referring to include that the Palestinians will have to accept less than 22% of the territory of Palestine for a population about equal in size to the Jewish population, that the country would not have a military, that the country would not control its own borders, that the country would, at Israel's discretion, have to host foreign troops, that the country would not control its natural resources and that refugees would be formally denied their right to return. Supporters of Israel consider all of these conditions fair. Many Palestinians and their supporters do not. My point here is that Yglesias should be able to anticipate that Palestinians would not consider the imposition of these conditions fair. That he does not is the result of a mental block that clouds his understanding of the region.
But the interesting part of his post is his discussion of the reaction to true statements that Israel plays a role in radicalizing Muslims
This reality makes a lot of American Jews uncomfortable to the point where they try to insist on denying that Israel has anything to do with anyone’s motives for doing anything, but that’s absurd.I want here to write about exactly how absurd it is to deny that Israel is the most important ultimate source of hostility against the US among Muslims. I also want to mention quickly that pointing out realities that make Jewish Americans uncomfortable also often provoke false accusations of anti-Jewish bigotry. False accusations of anti-Semitism and the threat to issue such false accusations play an important role in distorting US discourse on the Middle East.
The role Israel plays in inflaming the war between the West and the Muslim world is wider than just in Israel's own policies. Israel is justifiably blamed for US support for US support for authoritarian dictatorships in countries that submit to US control, such as Egypt. When Barack Obama is able to mention only one policy to defend support for Egypt's dictator, which is that Egypt maintains its peace with Israel, what Obama himself is saying is that the reason the US favors over 60 million Egyptians living under dictatorship is to ensure that 5 million Jewish people are able to have a majority state in Palestine.
The US starvation of over 500,000 Iraqis, the US attacks on and occupation of Lebanon and the economic boycotts in the region on countries like Iran, Libya and Syria are justifiably believed by non-Jewish people in the region to have as their ultimate objectives the security of a Jewish majority state for 5 million Jewish people in Palestine. US policies directly and indirectly in support of the idea that there must be a Jewish majority state in Palestine together are reasonably seen to constitute an unprovoked war against the non-Jewish people of the region.
On September 10, 2001, the United States was not an innocent disengaged target of unexplainable hatred and extremism. The United States was conducting a war to subjugate the non-Jewish people of Israel's region to force those non-Jewish people accept the legitimacy of a state that they reject for the same reasons Black Africans rejected White-majority South Africa. Even worse, the United States was conducting this war against the non-Jewish people of the region (who are mostly Muslim, but include Christians, atheists and other religions) without any consequences to the United States itself.
In 2001, Osama Bin Laden had real grievances with the United States all of which were related to the US project to keep Israel's region of over 200 million non-Jews safe for 5 million Jewish people to have a majority Jewish state. If the United States had not supported Israel there would have been no 9/11 attack against the United States. I'll point out here that the rights of Jewish individuals can be protected in a one-state solution that does not have a Jewish majority but that would not necessitate the US waging war against the non-Jewish people of its region.
Some supporters of Israel acknowledge the cost the US pays to support Israel and believe it is a good thing. 3,000 Americans died on 9/11 and it sucks for them and their families but at least 5 million Jewish people in Palestine do not have to worry that they may have to live under Muslim majority rule. More than 5,000 US troops died in the subsequent invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq that were the direct result of 9/11. Hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq were killed, and millions displaced. Probably trillions of dollars of economic resources will be diverted to the war effort just in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some supporters of Israel think the US should be willing to pay whatever it costs to make sure no Palestinian Jacob Zuma could be elected to rule Israel with non-Jewish support.
But what Yglesias says "makes a lot of American Jews uncomfortable" is the idea that the United States may stop believing its support for Israel carries an acceptable cost. Preventing that from happening requires minimizing the fact that support for Israel has consequences for the US even to, what Yglesias acknowledges is, the point of absurdity. The discomfort with the idea of calculating the full cost of Israel to the United States also generates sometimes sincere, sometimes cynical accusations of anti-Semitism which intimidate and distort the US foreign policy decision-making process.
The United States is trillions of dollars and thousands of lives poorer than it would have been if US policy-makers could have conceived of advocating a peaceful and gradual transition to one state that protects the rights of Jewish people but at the same time would not require US support for regional authoritarian dictatorships, the denial of technology to other countries in the region, occupations, economic blockades and generally war against the non-Jewish people in the region.
The war the US is waging to defend the idea that there must be a majority Jewish state is becoming more expensive. Eventually the expense will have undeniable consequences for all Americans. As Yglesias says, looking at those costs can make Jewish Americans uncomfortable but the over 300 million people of the United States and the over 200 million non-Jewish people in Israel's region will eventually reach the limit of what they are willing to pay to ensure that 5 million Jewish people in Palestine can maintain a majority state.
If in the 1990s, the United States had switched to advocacy of one state that could accommodate all of the people of Palestine without necessarily having a Jewish political majority, that would have signified victory for the non-Jews in the war the US had been waging against the non-Jews of the region up to that point. With the war over, the attack on 9/11 would not, and could not, have happened. That the US was unable to advocate one state was a mistake then as it is now.