Tag Archives | occupation

Israel, Palestine, and Democracy

At Commentary, I have a new piece on the common argument that Israel must make a deal with the Palestinians to save itself as a democracy. Here is an excerpt:

The “democracy” argument has become the central justification of the diplomatic process, incessantly invoked by Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli peace envoy Tzipi Livni. What makes the democracy argument effective is that it plays on deep-seated Jewish sentiments. Israelis are a fundamentally liberal, democratic people who desperately do not wish to be put in the role of overlords.

The problem with the democracy argument is that it is entirely disconnected from reality. Israel does not rule the Palestinians. The status quo in no way impeaches Israel’s democratic identity.

It is true that the Palestinians are not represented in the Knesset. But Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria are similarly not represented in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Simply put, both the Palestinians and Israelis vote for the legislature that regulates them. That is democracy (though obviously it does not play out as well in the Palestinian political system).

The Palestinians have developed an independent, self-regulating government that controls their lives as well as their foreign policy. Indeed, they have accumulated all the trappings of independence and have recently been recognized as an independent state by the United Nations. They have diplomatic relations with almost as many nations as Israel does. They have their own security forces, central bank, top-level Internet domain name, and a foreign policy entirely uncontrolled by Israel.

The Palestinians govern themselves. To anticipate the inevitable comparison, this is not an Israeli-puppet “Bantustan.” From their educational curriculum to their television content to their terrorist pensions, they implement their own policies by their own lights without any subservience to Israel. They pass their own legislation, such as the

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Palestine, Contiguity and the Absolute Truth

I previously wrote of the manifestly false claims made by world leaders, and parroted as fact by the New York Times, that Israel’s permitting Jewish civilians to live in the area of Maaleh Admumim closest to Jerusalem cuts a potential Palestinian state in half. Some commentators went to far as to suggest I apologize to the New York Times. Instead, it is they who apologized – or rather corrected – their news pieces on the subject. Twice in three days.

Here is part of it: “the proposed development would not, technically, make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.” I love the “technically,” as if people reading the Times do not think they are getting the “technical” truth but rather the “absolute truth,” as executive editor Jill Abramson memorably put it.

Of course, the putative Palestinian State would have odd borders. But so would Israel. If you make two states between the river and the sea, it is likely no one will be driving straight for long, but that has been clear since the General Assembly’s proposed partiton plan in 1947, which manifestly contemplated massive discontiguities all around. Indeed, lots of states are not contiguous, sometimes massively so, and get along fine. The U.S. is one, Israel 1949-67 was another. Belgium and Holland have a truly amazing number of extraterritorial enclaves and exclaves. It seems if nations have peaceable relations, some kinks in contiguity can be dealt with. If they are at each other’s throats, they could exacerbate tensions, and not be discontiguous for long (can anyone spell Nagorno-Karabakh? No seriously, can anyone spell it?). But since we are told that Israeli withdrawals from territory will create Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace, we can assume we are dealing with the former case. [...]

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Israel’s Borders and International Law

This is a talk I gave this summer to a group of Jewish college students, which in broad strokes outlines the international law reasons the West Bank cannot be considered “Palestinian territory,” independent of the political or equitable merits of creating a Palestinian state there.

Watch on TorahCafé.com!

Please watch the whole thing before commenting.

Hopefully I say more more to say soon on the Palestinian statehood vote (I’m shopping around an op-ed on the subject). [...]

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