It’s not enough to start thinking clearly. You need to finish as well. You need to follow your logic to where it goes, even if it is uncomfortable. Apparently Jeffrey Goldberg hasn’t done that yet:
Unlike Obama, several of his predecessors, and most American diplomats who specialize in the Middle East, I no longer believe that a reversal of the settlement project would necessarily set in motion a process that culminates in the conflict’s end. The 100-year conflict between Arab and Jew was not initiated by the 48-year-old occupation of the West Bank. As the latest round of Palestinian terrorism directed at Israelis suggests, the conflict is about something more than settlements. For many Palestinians, and certainly for many Palestinian leaders, Israel is an illegitimate state, and the Jews are not a people. There will be no permanent end of the conflict until Palestinians bring their understanding of Jewish history into line with reality.
But: There will certainly be no progress toward a possible two-state solution—there will certainly be no chance that the Palestinian narrative will ever soften—if the settlement movement continues apace. And more to the point: There will be no hope for Israel as a democratic state that is home to a Jewish majority—the one place in the world in which Jews, after 2,000 years of exile and persecution at the hands of Christians and Muslims and fascists and communists, can take control of their own destiny—if the West Bank is absorbed into Israel proper. The separation of two warring tribes is the actual goal of “peace” negotiations; a reversal of the settlement project is a necessary step in these divorce proceedings.
The first paragraph correctly recognizes that the conflict cannot be about settlements because it preceded them and because of the implacable “Palestinian narrative” that insists that Jews have no place in the land of Israel.
The second then says that the way to change this – to ‘soften’ the narrative – is to surrender a piece of the land (which just happens to be the traditional heart of the land of Israel) to these ‘Palestinians’ who do not accept any Jewish presence between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.
There are three reasons that this analysis is wrong.
- Such a surrender would be seen as a victory for the violent tactics of the Arabs, an expression of weakness by the Jews, and an encouragement to press for a complete victory. The idea that it would ‘soften’ anything is sheer wishful thinking. It would do the opposite.
- The loss of the biblical heartland of the land of Israel would be a huge psychological and spiritual blow to Zionism.
- Simple geostrategic considerations imply that the Jewish state could not survive with a hostile entity in control of Judea and Samaria. Historical precedent tells us that a Palestinian state would be or quickly become hostile.
Goldberg adds that peace requires a ‘divorce’ between the Jews and the Arabs, and he is correct again. But he is unable to take the next logical step, necessitated by the Palestinian narrative and the abusive behavior of the Palestinian partner.
In any divorce, one of the ex-spouses has to move out. Goldberg, like Obama and like other American and European diplomats, can’t shake the idea that it should be the Jews – possibly because he thinks they can be more easily pushed around.
But that is unjust as well as impossible. The Jews hold the deed to all the property, in moral, historical and legal senses. And the abusive partner can’t be trusted to continue living in the next room. The Arabs – at least those that cannot give up the rejectionist narrative – are the ones that should move out.
Goldberg, Obama, and company think the problem is to find a way for the Jews to evacuate Judea and Samaria and still be secure. But they are wasting their time because there is no solution to this problem.
The real problem they need to solve is how to arrange for the abusers to leave.