2004 January 28 Wednesday
Melanie Phillips: Israel Should Unilaterally Separate From Palestinians

Melanie Phillips has an essay in the UK political opinion periodical Prospect Magazine about the need for Israel to impose a unilateral separation between the Israeli Jews and Palestinians.

And now we got down to the heart of Zanieri's argument. For to him - and, he said, this certainly goes for the Palestinian street too - Israel is the aggressor because it exists.

"Israel was the aggressor because Israel was formed in 1948," he said. "The Palestinians think that the start of the Zionist aggression was the start of Jewish immigration in the 19th century. Israel started the war in 1967. That occupation is the source of the violence. What is violence? Two warring sides have their own terminology. For so many Palestinians, terror is occupation itself."

If a moderate is someone who believes that a political settlement agreed by the world is akin to physical violence and who thinks that Jewish immigration into a land inhabited by Jews continuously since Biblical times was an act of aggression - and that this legitimises terrorism - what hope is there?

The beginning of enlightenment about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and their Arab supporters is to realize one very basic fact: the conflict is a problem that can not be solved in any way acceptable to the United States, the Arabs, or the Israelis. If all the Jews left that would solve it. But that is not going to happen. If all the Arabs converted to Buddhism that might solve it. But, again, that is not going to happen. If all of one side or the other was killed off that would solve it. But that is not going to happen for some decades yet (what happens once nukes eventually become available to the Arabs is another story we may live to see).

The conflict is intractable. Those on the Israeli left who still believe that a negotiated settlement is possible are dreaming. The Likudniks who think that the will of the terrorists can be broken by a continuation of the roadblocks and operations against the terrorists in the territories are similarly dreaming. Enough of the Palestinians are going to be willing to become terrorists for years to come that the conflict has no foreseeable ending point. The hatred of Israel is very deep and inculcated from an early age. Any regular reader of Little Green Footballs has grown accustomed to posts such as this one showing young Palestinian children being taught that they should want to grow up to become terrorists. It is hard to read about the pervasiveness of this sort of teaching in the Palestinian schools and media and still believe that a negotiated settlement is possible.

Phillips has reached the same conclusion I have held for some time: Israel should pull out of the bulk of West Bank and Gaza Strip and leave the Palestinians to entirely govern themselves.

Israel is trapped between the most treacherous of rocks and the hardest of hard places. But Sher and Olmert are surely right. Given that every strategy has a lethal downside, the question is: what is the worst thing Israel has to fear? Is it war? It has fought and won wars. Is it terror? It is suffering terror now, and for the foreseeable future. What is surely worst of all is to lose its belief in itself and destroy its soul.

It is not that the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza are illegal. Under international law, land seized as a consequence of self-defence in war is legitimately held while the enemy refuses to make peace. But legality is not the point. The bottom line is existential vulnerability. If Israel hangs onto the territories, the Jews will be outnumbered. It cannot and should not rule another people. It cannot wait for 20 years for negotiations to begin. It should unilaterally give up the territories.

The fear that giving them up would hand a victory to terror is a very real one. But it is possible to turn this argument on its head. For withdrawal effectively forces a state on the Palestinians. It therefore does not give terrorists victory if their goal is not a Palestinian state at all but the destruction of Israel. It is rather to frustrate their goals, call their bluff and so defeat them. Victory for terror can therefore only be imposed by people who believe the destruction of Israel to be the real agenda of the Palestinians. Those who believe their goal really is a two-state solution would be giving in to terror if they brought it about at bomb-point. Ironically, therefore, it is only Likud that can unilaterally withdraw without paying this moral price. Are they capable of realising it?

Israel's demographic problem with the more rapid Palestinian population growth makes it essential that both the interim barrier fence/wall and the final barrier should put as many Muslims on the Palestinian side of the barrier as posisble and all Jews on the Israeli side of the barrier. Also, Israel needs to totally end the importation of Palestinian labor. The separation should be total.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 January 28 12:10 PM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis

John Moore said at January 28, 2004 9:51 PM:

Unfortunately, the Palestinians have long anticipated this, which is why they have been working on rockets.

The Gaza strip is already walled off, so they make rockets and launch them into Israel. Just across the Lebanon border, Hizballa has 15,000 rockets and missiles, some believed to have chemical warheads. These can range a significant portion of Israel.

Once the wall is built, the Palestinians will respond with longer and longer range rockets. However, that is certainly no reason not to build the wall.

My fantasy is a policy that moves annexes some number of square miles of the west bank for every terrorist attack, with the Palestinians on that land driven off by force and the wall extended around the land. I have absolutely no sympathy for a people who choose to live off of hatred and terrorism.

Another question the world avoids is why there should be large sections of the world where Jews are prohibited? Moving out the settlements from the West Bank is simply complying with an ethnic cleansing policy! Even so, it is probably something Israel has to do.

Frankly, I'm amazed the Israelis haven't been far more forceful. The whole world hates them already, so they don't have much to lose. If course, the US always reins them in (for no good reason as far as I an tell, since the Islamic fanatics hate us too).

Oh well...

T. J. Madison said at January 30, 2004 5:29 PM:

>>Israel's demographic problem with the more rapid Palestinian population growth makes it essential that both the interim barrier fence/wall and the final barrier should put as many Muslims on the Palestinian side of the barrier as posisble and all Jews on the Israeli side of the barrier. Also, Israel needs to totally end the importation of Palestinian labor. The separation should be total.


1. What about the many Christian Arabs? How should they be disposed of?

2. What about the Arabs who are Israeli citizens? Do they represent an intractable fifth column that needs to be sacrificed to promote tribal unity?

Randall Parker said at January 30, 2004 6:39 PM:


Arafat's bunch is doing an excellent job of driving the Palestinian Christians out of the West Bank. They like to station snipers in Christian houses so the Israelis will shoot up Christian houses. Plus, Arafat combined a mostly Christian town with Muslim neighborhoods so the government would be majority Muslim. Christians in the US have been helping them get out of the West Bank for decades and their numbers have declined quite a bit. The Israelis have seized Christian churches to make the land around them part of Jewish settlements. The Christians have gotten shafted by both sides. The formerly Christian West has done little about this.

Fifth columnists: That's certainly going to be a bigger problem in the long run. The Israelis are in a difficult spot because of demograph trends. But the exceptionalistic beliefs of a lot of them about the miracle of Israel's existence causes too many to deny the seriousness of the problem.

There is a similar strain of exceptionalism among quite a few neocons and even some conventional conservatives about America. Take for instance the attitude that immigration can not possibly hurt the country that is based on a mythical view of immigration. Triumphalism and exceptionalism are the enemies of clear understanding of the depth and nature of some serious problems we face.

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