The Israel-Palestine conflict has exposed and exacerbated our inability to figure out tough problems.
once again a thoughtful and cogent take on the situation. I have come to look forward to your ability to cut through the clutter and help me sort my thoughts. I am so glad to have “found “ you on substack and am pleased to be a paid subscriber
This is neither strained and artificial “two sides-ism”, nor the more typical (these days) “cheer your side and denigrate the other” form of journalism, which has become so common, these days, and seems to be unhappily prevalent in academia.
Which is why I am a subscriber. Great work!
Things that are simple to say can be hard to do. Everybody taking opioids for non-medical reasons should just stop, so should everybody building nuclear weapons <dusts hands>.
Simple fact: the Israelis want neither the 1 or 2 state solutions; certainly not handing 2 million votes to Arabs, and not carving out land they want to keep. (Anybody about to hand South Dakota back to the Blackfoot? Then shut up.)
The Palestinians, lacking power to force them to any solution, 1-or-2 state, are attempting to use "The Horror, The Horror" as a force amplifier, see Col. Kurtz' argument in "Apocalypse Now" for how that works. Moral shaming for it is inevitable and correct, but nobody should pretend their ethnic group wouldn't do the same. See Adam Serwer's "The Cruelty is the Point". The "unholy glee" on the faces of White lynch mobs that burned a man slowly to death and posed for thumbs-up photos in front.
Another simple fact: "In 2002, during the second Intifada, Moshe (“Boogie”) Ya’alon, the Israeli Chief of Staff (and today the Minister of Defense) declared: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.” (Another simple fact is that Egyptians tried that on Israel for 400 years, and it didn't work.)
So, the simple facts decree decades and generations of conflict to come, because this certainly isn't making the Israelis make any concessions, and the Palestinians will still be here in another generation.
Since I'm always quoting Gwynne Dyer, here's his "simple fact": He noted that everybody eventually rises to industrial development, and Arab countries are slowly getting there. With development will come money, with money will come military power. Israel will eventually be surrounded by very powerful Arabs that even the USA can't protect them from. The change is already coming, see this article on "drones rewriting the Middle East": https://www.mei.edu/publications/drones-are-re-engineering-geopolitics-middle-east
When Israel sees an existential threat, they will make concessions needed to alleviate the threat. Not before. Even that is simple.
I'm not so confident a solution will ever be found. Sure, people will be asked to sit at a table and negotiate and maybe a "government" of Palestine will be tasked with suppressing its own people, but ethnic animosities can last for generations. Is Hamas composed of conscripts or volunteers?
For real peace, either Palestinians have to accept that they have been relegated to living in the basement after squatters invaded their home, or Israelis will have to abandon their desire for a Jewish homeland.
Speaking of degrees of intractability I'm surprised that no one pans out enough to get to the heart of the conflict. Oddly it's also what the Israelis and Palestinians have in common, i.e. religious belief/delusion.
The historical fact that the two religions in question are also actually derived from the same book is likely never mentioned because they have ended up in such different places. Arguably Judaism has evolved far more than Islam; the litmus test being that secular versions of the original creed are now common, making it less of a full-blown cult and more of a benign culture as in sharing of traditions and rituals. But their uniquely persecuted history also appeals to enough far-flung relatives to entice many to the biblically designated "Jewish homeland," joining extended family who not only share the centuries long history of persecution, but also the ultimate historical human horror that was the holocaust. Unfortunately and intractably, the Palestinian people already lived there, also for centuries.
Ta-Nehisis Coates makes the common mistake of conflating religion with race which isn't true because only one is immutable. But it does serve as an example of why this post-truth world has bred so much chaos; in fact widespread religious delusion can rightly be seen as both the first, worst "big lie" AND a proper platform for the current plethora of misinformation/disinformation. Arguably the truth IS all we really have and can indeed set us free.
Since religion is ultimately a set of ideas though it can't be destroyed by war; only deeply inflamed fellow believers would gloss over a reality so obvious to the rest of us.
But objective fellow atheist Sam Harris has a good piece on this that can be summed up with: "there's no living with jihadists."
Blowing themselves up is only one atrocity that sets Islam apart; (the conservatives weren't wrong to talk about "barbaric cultural practices"), there's also the appalling and persistent gender apartheid. While everyone puzzles about what to do about "Islamophobia" I'd say it's entirely understandable to have an aversion to this religion apart from its indoctrinated adherents; it's rightly the absolute worst in a bad field. But anti-Semitism is something else entirely.
Furthermore, I think the political left's early embrace of Muslims after 9-11 and then the coining of the term "Islamophobia" was one of our first missteps, an affectation and a posturing that still weakens our credibility.
The National linky no worky, seems like the video was removed.
You've written, twice, that this 'is not a genocide', once making your own claim, the other referencing the Israeli publication Haaretz . You make or cite that assertion , and leave it aside as though you've dealt with it, as though it's not a tenuous claim... given the absolute mayhem Israel's been wreaking in Gaza for 40 days, leaving aside the blockade! Some exceptionally qualified people have said that it is in fact genocide, or at minimum it is ethnic cleansing, that Israel is very aggressively pursuing. ... Chris Hedges certainly asserts this, and to my view he has more skin in the game than you, Mr. Ling, in his own decades-long deep commitment to lucid coverage of political circumstances in the Middle East, and his deep perspective on the very willful interference of America/Britain and other states in Palestine/Israel's dynamics and development. The onus would appear to be on you, in the name of rigour and (I believe) moral honesty, to flesh out your position. Because there aren't going to be any negotiations, there will be no peace planning, if the residents of Gaza are made to flee Gaza, which is already largely decimated. And things are absolutely bending that way.
Thanks for this. with very limited bandwidth, in time, knowledge and energy, this is one of the few outlets of thought I do take in with regards to this conflict.
from my local cbc morning show is an interesting interview on what exactly is genocide
and here is a terrifying look at the potential of a nuclear conflict and how it ties to israel!
good times! Thanks for the sober thoughts.