Sunday, September 18, 2011

Israel and Palestine

With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the Israel lobby is so powerful in the United States that CNN's notion of opinion balance on this issue is 3 to 1.  (And that understates the imbalance, because of Jewish hard-core neo-conservative ideology.)

On Fareed Zakaria GPS, a normally very ideologically balanced show, a panel discussion this morning of the Palestinian drive for recognition in the UN had three Jews and one Palestinian.  And two of the Jews were what I can only call rapid Zionists and neo-conservatives: Bret Stephens, formerly editor of the Jerusalem Post, and Elliot Abrams, foreign policy staffer in the Reagan and George W. Bush administration (who was also convicted of crimes in the Iran-Contra affair during the 80s).  The third Jew was Gideon Rose, a moderate by today's ideological standards, who edits Foreign Affairs magazine for the Council on Foreign Relations.  The lone Palestinian was a Columbia professor named Rashid Khalidi, a very moderate Palestinian in every way.

I will say that it was a constrained, self-disciplined discussion, thanks no doubt to the respect all of the panelists have for Fareed.

On the substantive issue of Israel and Palestine, it has been the official position of the US since the founding of Israel in 1948 that there should be a two-state solution, with the splitting of the total original territory of Palestine into an Israeli state and a Palestinian state.  Yet, some 63 years later, Israel is the only state, and they are deliberating planting settlements in as much of the rest of the territory, trying to accomplish a fait accompli on the ground.  It appears that they won't negotiate in good faith, certainly not with the current Israeli administration of Benjamin Netanyahu in charge, except to drag things out until they have effectively annexed all of Palestine into Greater Israel.

Given all these facts, I don't blame the Palestinian at all for pushing the UN for political recognition.  Given the power of the Israeli Lobby in Washington, no American administration can support the Palestinians in this without committing political suicide.  But that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do, and I don't support it.

And supporting the Palestinians doesn't mean you hate or oppose Israel.  I've toured Israel twice, and I support the notion of a Jewish homeland.  But at the same time, the rights of the Palestinians for self-determination and political freedom cannot in good conscience be denied either.

And frankly, religious arguments from the Old Testament do not change any of this.  It is a bit ridiculous, in my opinion, to argue from the ancient prophet Isaiah or Daniel to try and determine this 21st century political/foreign policy issue.  We wouldn't and shouldn't do it on any other issue, so let's not do it with regard to this one.

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