Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Freeze Settlement Growth in Occupied Territories

The defense of settlements usually takes this format, making two arguments. The first, which I will ignore, tries to make phony arguments about international law. The second is that it is wrong to tell Jews where they can and cannot live. That second one is more common (FoxNews common) and more dangerous. It is also the most insidious.

Nobody cares if Jewish people want to live in the West Bank. Or rather, Palestinians may dislike it but that's not the issue. The concern is that Jewish people want to build Jewish-only towns that then become part of a Jewish state, a state where non-Jews are defined as outsiders, whether or not their presence in small numbers is tolerated. If Palestine were to become a bi-national state, as many liberal and socialist Jewish groups favored in the 1930s (those who realized that Jewish nationalism was just another species of nationalism, which was as suspect as all nationalism) then anyone could live anywhere they wanted in Palestine. But so long as Israel defines itself as a "Jewish" state, planting settlements is not about Jewish people living where they want, it's about expanding the boundaries of the Jewish state and excluding non-Jews from either living there altogether or from being full members of the community. None of these right-wing Jewish communities would consent to live in an Islamic or Arab state, so defined.

This is why the "freeze" is so important, and why the Obama administration and the Quartet is demanding it. Because settlements are not about Jews freely living where they want, but about seizing land for a Jewish state, they are antithetical to the land-for-peace deal that the UN demanded in Res 242 nearly 40 years ago. So-called "natural growth" is an excuse to keep building and settling. Since the peace negotiations began in 1994, the number of Jewish settlers has doubled. Doubled. The idea is to make surrender of the land, by uprooting what is now close to 250,000 Jews, politically impossible. More settlers only makes it harder, which is the purpose.

Let's not spend any more time giving lip service to the argument that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are about the freedom of Jewish people to live where they want. Israel is building a wall around Israel that encompasses all the "settlement" land in an attempt to redraw the 1967 boundaries. Netanyahu is upset because the Obama administration is finally calling him on it.

6 comments:

Raised By Republicans said...

While I agree with the moral arguments LTG puts forward about excluding non-Jews from these settlements etc, there is a practical imperative at work here as well. Any final agreement will in all likelihood, involve Israel trading away land it current occupies in return for something resembling real peace. It will nearly impossible for any representative of the Palestinian people to negotiate in good faith if the Israeli government is simultaneously engaging in a policy that constantly changes the constraints on those negotiations.

Freezing the expansion of the settlements may not be a necessary condition for negotiations to begin but their continuation will certainly undermine any prospects for success. Perhaps that is what Netanyahu is counting on.

Bob said...

I think (and I could be wrong) that no rational, informed person actually buys the specious Fox news argument.

The problem is that there are lots of people who are irrational, misinformed, or deceitful pontificating about it.

My impression is that there is no mystery here. "Settlements" is a euphemism for "colonies" or "land grabs", and the settlers are fairly explicit about this. If you want an eventual two-state solution in Israel/Palestine, then freezing (and rolling back) the settlements is an obvious step on the way.

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I would say "ah, you're watching Fox News too much -- no one buys any of that" except that obviously there _are_ people, congresspeople even, buying that (or at least reselling it).

Perhaps we need more effective ridiculing of specious arguments. Jon Stewart is good, but (understandably) is mostly ridiculing politics in general. I wish there were political devices through which dumb arguments could be made (politically) toxic.

Then there could be self-policing by political parties: I imagine a world where Republicans would say "Hey, no offense Michelle Bachmann, but until you stop spouting crazy talk I can't afford to be seen with you." Where politicians would be foolish not to publicly disavow the fraudulent rantings of <insert favorite pundit-to-hate here>; where the silliness on Fox News was summarily dismissed by every other pundit show and editorial that bothered to mention it.

Idealistic, I know -- but does anyone have ideas for reframing public debates so that misinformation is politically hazardous? Or is Media Matters enough?

The Law Talking Guy said...

I have heard this argument from quite a number of people, which is why I mention it. It is pretty common among American Jews who make a big deal about supporting Israel, at least in my experience.

Bob said...

I meant to say not that the argument isn't used, but that in a more ideal world, such a bad argument wouldn't be used or credited as much as it is.

I probably shouldn't suggest here that you become an agent of effective ridicule of these arguments among the people you've heard it from. Even though I think you'd be really good at it.

(And hey, what do I have to lose?) :)

The Law Talking Guy said...

I would be labeled an anti-semite.

Dr. Strangelove said...

See, that's why Jon Stewart needs to take the lead. It's hard to label him an anti-semite and make it stick.