A constructive Israel thread?

This is not intended to be another of those threads in which we all debate who is right and who is wrong. Maybe it doesn’t belong in GD at all (and if mods shut it off, I’ll understand) but I think it fits here.

It is intended to just be a brainstorming thread asking how to get the current unteneble position in Israel to a better place. What are the possible futures?

Staus quo? Israel trying to defend itself by whatever means necessary and holding onto the occupied areas until a negotiated solution is found (yeah, like that’s going to be anytime soon), Palestinians continuing to use “violent protest” and refusing to stop it until they get what they consider justice from the Israelis? For Israelis continuing with living through terror and in a free falling economy. For West Bank and Gaza Arabs a hopeless situation where growing up to become a suicide bomber is the greatest aspiration many have, as this article in Ha’aretz shows.

Gotta be a possible future less ugly than this. So, without value judgement of right or wrong, without calling either side names, without any blame game, just pragmatic choices about least ugly futures- What are the choices available from here?

Based on your statements, I don’t know that Israel has much choice other than what it’s doing now. The choice is now (and has always been, IMHO) with the Palestinians. There was an article in the Chicago Tribune today about a Palestinian mother whose 17-year old son killed a bunch of Israelis in a terrorist raid before he was killed. She was described as “delighted” that he had killed so many, she thought he would only kill two or three. His picture is on posters throughout (I forget what city) and the mother is happy about this.

Until the Palestinian leaders change their attitude, and provide better education and direction to their citizens, I don’t know that Israel has much choice.

When you’re facing a rabid dog, what do you do? Shoot it.

So, while a military tactic isn’t a solution, it’s the best remedy for Israel at present.

Will anything very different than what was proposed at Camp David work? Seems to me the light can’t get any greener.

The solution obviously lies in withdrawal from most of the territories. Israel has held them in an attempt to maintain “security,” but has instead found them to be a liability.

Fences can work. Hermetically sealing the border can work. Look at Gaza – few suicide bombers come from Gaza because there is a huge freakin’ wall around Gaza. Most come from Bethlehem, Tul Karm, Jenin, or Qalqilya in the West Bank, where it is easy to sneak across a porous border into Jerusalem, Netanya, and Kfar Sava.

Sharon has shown that he can cause a short-term reduction in terror by rolling the clock back to 1987 or so and occupying most of the territories. He has not demonstrated that this can work long-term, and any fool can see that renewed occupation will only radicalize the Palestinians further and create more terror.

So, Israel should cut their losses. Create two contiguous Palestinian territories on 97% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza. Do it unilaterally. Negotiations on refugees, Jerusalem, water rights, yada yada yada can come later, in a more peaceful and secure environment. If there isn’t a more peaceful and secure environment, then negotiations won’t come.

End the occupation. It is the only peaceful attempt that has a chance. Form the nation of Palestine and send a portion of the billions of dollars in aid that currently feed the military machines in the region to help develop infrastucture and feed the people of Palestine.

I think I’ve mentioned this somewhere else, but it would help if either the U.S. or the Arab states came forward and announced they would fund a complete rebuilding of the West Bank and Gaza into a semi-modern nation - on the grounds that both the resistance, the occupation, and most of the settlements have to go.

I don’t think it would satisfy the extreme Palestinian groups; then again, I’m not sure anything, even a bullet to the head, is going to convince them of the error of their ways.

So choices so far:

Israeli side:

  • Continue as current and hope that the Palestinian side changes their approach. Likely result? More of the same as we’ve got now.

  • Unilateral partial withdrawl followed by big fences. (Barak has suggested the same but retaining more like 20% of West Bank for now). Result? Probably better Israeli security. Palestinian outcome would be contingent on what resources the Arab countries bring to bear on nation building and how Palestinian leadership decides to play the hand. They would have the choice to negotiate further for more land, etc along with the opportunity to open borders to a potential economic partner (jobs, industry) … or to continue to try to engage in violent protest, which while impeded could not be entirely prevented. If violence continued unabated or if the Palestinian entity tried to develop military capacity, then Israel might resort to military assaults.

Total Israeli unilateral withdrawl to pre-1967 including giving the Palestinians half of Jerusulam, coupled with a reduction of US aid to Israel to help fund a Palestinian state, without security guarantees to Israel. Likely result? Many Palestinians would be satisfied and much popular support for terrorism would be diminished. Some terrorist forces would still see Israel’s existance in any of “their” land as an affront and continue to attack. If the PA did not adequately control such elements (they have yet to ever do so) then Israel would be forced to do so but be a poor position to without inflicting tremedous casualties on all sides … including battles within Jerusulam itself. Even bigger risk is that terror tactics will have worked and will threfore be a tactic of first resort for any disagreement in the future.

Arab side:

-Coninue as current. Likely result no hope except for children to grow up to be suicide murderers. Israel will be very unlikely to ever give in to terror tactics but will continue to respond by using any force needed to reduce security risks.

-Unilateral stoppage of all terror tactics in return for good faith negotiations and for multination support of nation building (Arab countries, US, ?Israeli coventures?) Accept partial withdrawl for now with part of what was on the table from Barak as a starting point while nation building commences. Won’t get Jerusulam, won’t get rid of all of the settlements, but will get a viable home with hope for the future. Biggest downside? Enforcing a total terror stoppage is, while not impossible, very difficult. Stopping the support of the infrastructure of terror and attempting to crack down will have a tremendous effect, but it will not be absolute without risking assasination attempts and civil war. Also downside, Arafat would be losing face if he stopped the violence without delivering on all that he has promised. This option would require amazing leadership and there is no reason to believe that such leadership is there.

So of these possible futures there is the unilateral Israeli option of partial withdrawl and big fences, hoping for the best out of the Arab side, and the Arab option of unilateral stoppage of terror followed by good faith negotiations and international support for nation building.

Wanna bet both sides go with continue as current?


Nice response to the OP, Dex.

I agree with edwino. Not only are the territories incredibly provocative, but they are also in violation of international law.

In return, (if we’re going to be pragmatic) I’m afraid that the Palestinians have no choice but to give up their demand of right of return, and accept the current state of ownership claims in Isreal. I know how unfair that must seem – and that it falls directly into the hands of the politicians who engineered the settlement movement in the first place – but I can’t see any other way out of the impasse.

Has israel ever considered eliminating the right of return all together? Think about it ; You and your family driven from your farm by war and bloodshed. You flee behind friendly lines only to find you may not return and have no citizenship rights. OTOH, some qualifying individuals from all around the globe who may have never been within a thousand miles of Israel are given rights of return and very well may settle on what you believe to to be your families farm. It is not hard to see the problem here no matter what your POV is. Make citizenship a little more evenhanded…hell, just keep up appearances at least.

Sweet Willy:

I agree with you in principle, but I just don’t think the right to return is pragmatic, primarily due to demographic considerations (even though the Palestinians have politely agreed to take the demographic difficulties into account). Even without the right to return, the Jewish population of Isreal risks becoming a minority within the next 20 years – Jewish families are apparently much smaller than their Arabic counterparts. One wonders how a “Jewish state” will solve that dilemma.

At any rate, the OP asked for pragmatic solutions, and I suspect that abandoning the settlements on the West Bank will be an incredibly painful process for Israel. It seems unfair to ask for that kind of sacrifice without sacrificing something in return. So many years have elapsed since that farm traded owners that it would probably be impossible to ascertain who really owned in the first place, anyway.

Mr. Svinlesha, I am not sure I understand your position. I didn’t say give Palestinians right of return. I suggest to give no one right of return. If you aren’t going to give it to immediate and recent claim by descent you certainly shouldn’t give to others on much more tenuous claims. Israeli immigration is otherwise discretionary in its entirity so what exactly is the purpose? Immigration could still decide based on their discretion, whatever it may be. Israel could still manipulate the majority in order to maintain the appearance of democracy without blatently sticking it in the face of its neighbors.

I think you are playing the blame game here, although I don’t think its intentional on your part.

There were no politicians who engineered the settlement movement. Polititians did not engineer it. It was a spontaneous movement of people who were drawn by their personal attachment
to the land. If anything, the politicians tried to obstruct the movement as they saw the idea of Jews living in Judea and Samaria as a liability. The point of holding on to the land captured in the 67 war was to give it to somebody in exchange for peace. Jewish settlers had to work against government policy in order to establish homes there, or here, I should say.

And why were the settlements established? Because people wanted to live here. Would it have been reasonable to prevent Jewish people from living here? Wouldn’t that be a form of racist discrimination?

Another thing about the settlements is that, unlike other parts of Israel, Arab communities were not displaced by the Jewish ones.
Here, Jewish communities were established alongside existing Arab towns.

As for my proposal in response to dseid’s original question would be to stop looking at the way things are as the starting point. Obviously, there is no starting point that has not already been tried and failed.

Since the current situation is fueled by so much hate, from the Arab side, we have to think about how this can be changed and try to work from there, rather than where we are now.

What does this have to do with Jews? I thought we were talking about Israeli settlers? Or are there more facts about the conditions in the settlements that you would like to share? I’d like to hear more about your take on racism and how it might creep into the settlements if we alter the status quo. :rolleyes:

I’m beginning to favor the unilateral withdrawal plan. They should just say, "Okay, Palestine is a state. Here you go. This is what you get (something close to the Barak plan). We will not negotiate. " Then follow up with a big freakin’ wall around the place.

But note that this will hurt the Palestinians even more than the current situation does, because they will lose substantial Israeli aid, and a large number of Palestinians work in Israel and would either be ejected or forced into heavy searches and such which would seriously disrupt their ability to work in Israel.

Frankly, if Israel does this, I think the Palestinians will continue with the intifada. Their whole culture is based on opposition to Israel. If they get all the land they want, they’ll start fighting for water rights, or for more economic aid, or something. You can’t just turn an area into a productive state by declaring it. Arafat and his thugs have made no attempt whatsoever ready the occupied territories for statehood. There is no infrastructure to speak of. The economy is a mess. The people have been radicalized. There is no law and order. Israel may occupy those territories, but it also helps maintain them, it provides aid and services, etc. Cut all that off, and it will be a disaster inside Palestine.

But Israel needs to do it, because it needs to regain the moral high ground. If the Palestinians are given their state and Israel withdraws, then if the bombings and attacks continue Israel will have more moral authority to go in and do what has to be done, which I believe is eventually going to have to involve completely breaking the spirit of the Palestinians through total war. That’s what we did to the Germans and Japanese, and it’s probably what Israel will eventually have to do to the Palestinians.

But first, it has to give them a chance to live up to their potential. Palestine has to become a state free of Israeli control. Then if they continue down the path of terror they will only have themselves to blame, and they will have to pay the price for their actions.

Excellent as always Sam, there must be some respect injected from somewhere. Palestinians have a long and difficult road ahead if there is to be a productive and peaceful state. As tough as it may be, it is the only way to go for Israel at this point. If the palestinians can direct as much energy at forming a stable and effective government as they have at the destruction of Israel they will do just fine. Either way they have to be given an honest chance and given the support of those whose best interest it is for them to succeed.

sweet willy’s response is unrelated to the op. I’ll ignore it.

akohl, We are were are. It is where we have to progress from. If your approach is work backwards and say where want to go, fine, but I am asking for real choices from here, not psychobabble. No offence, but yours is a nonresponse.

And while it is a hijack, I’ll take the bait on the settlement question. Why, given all the places to settle, did you feel the need to set up shop in a location where many of your countrymen and the world see you as a"liability"? Why do you feel that you have the right to settle anywhere? Do you also feel that you have the right to settle alongside an English town and that if you were blocked it would be discrimination? Why should other Israelis risk their lives for the sake of your choice? Why should a long term peace and hope for a vibrant Israeli economy without fear of terror, and hope for Arab kids to grow up with aspirations to be businessmen and doctors and even (bleh) lawyers (instead of hoping to grow up to be a suicidal murderer … okay, small difference with lawyer), be risked by your feeling that you have a “personal attachment to the land”?

So far, I favor the partial unilateral withdrawl/big big wall approach. (Given the unlikelihood of Arab cessation of violence) If you choose to be on the other side of the wall, then that is your choice. You are choosing to live in a foreign nation and subject to their laws. Or lack thereof. Good luck.

Any other options?

Please note the simulpost. THe last s.w. response is productive.

Sorry about that. Someone brought in the Jew vs Arab POV. The OP asked for pragmatic solutions and I don’t believe any attempt at solutions along racial or religious lines in very practical. Too fickle. I suggest that stuff be put aside until the practical issues are settled.

First of all, to clear up a semantic point that seems to have caused a bit of confusion with one of the posters above, the idea that Jews from all over the world have the right to citizenship in Israel is call the “law” of return. What the Palestinians want is refered to as the “right” of return.

Now, on to your question; Israeli settlers are Jews. Telling people you cannot live on this hill because you are Jewish is racism.

The politcal issue is not inherently one of racism. In other words, someone who says that there should be a border here and everyone regardless of race or religion on this side will be governed by the government of Israel and everyone on the other by whoever is not a racist because he favours one government’s over another. But when people say, in order for there to be peace, the Jewish communities in this area must be dismanltled, well that is racism. What is unclear about that? A claim is being made against the right of people to live where they chose on the basis of who they are.

As far as how this principle might apply to some future settlement, you might find it interesting that when Oslo got started and lots of people here were hoping that it might work out, people here were talking about what they might do if there home came under Palestinian control. I think that plenty of us would have hoped to stay under Palestinian controll, rather that move to Israeli conttolled areas.

Obviously, any peace agreement has to guarantee my right to live where I want in security. I am not a racist. I would be happy to have an Arab military protect my life and property, if it proved itself worthy of the task.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian military has proven themselves very untrustworthy in this area.

In reading the Tribune article, (I’d link to it, but it requires registration) the following came to mind. This woman is an accessory to murder, plain and simple. Why doesn’t the Palestinian Authority arrest and prosecute her? Because it wouldn’t be politically expedient in their country? BAH! If the PA won’t, then the IDF should.