Israel: When is it time to cut your losses?

The latest rounds of violence and aggressive posturing by forces opposed to Israel’s existance have lead me to ponder if Israel ought not to simply and finally put their foot down and begin negotiating on the basis of “Peace for Peace” instead of “Land for Peace”.

It must be obvious to many people that the last gov’t, dovish as it was, accomplished very little in the way of a lasting peace with the palestinian (arab) population in and around Israel. It seemed that militant arab faction looked for any and all excuses to re-ignite violence and used a visit from a hated public official (not in power at the time) to rekindle the embers of violence among their own people and against Israel.

Without getting into long and religious/phylosophical discussions about who was first and who was last in the region, is it fair to say that the fact that Israel was established as a legal autonimous state by a mandate passed by a majority of voting world nations and has a legal right to exist and defend it’s borders. Furthermore, the occupied lands annexed by Israel due to several wars of aggression instigated by their neighbours ought to remain in Israel’s hands as land won in conflict and as a symbol and reminder against potential future aggression as to the possible consequences of similar acts against Israel and it’s right to a peaceful existance in the region.

There are certainly things Israel can and should do (and should have done) to make life easier for the arab population within their borders. But is giving away land and inviting the endless risk of terrorist suicide bombings a cost Israel must assume in the hopes of achieving an often negotiated by never realized peace?

Here’s the problem. Modern Israel didn’t achieve is sovereignity by any “traditional” means – that is, invading the land by brute force and subjugating its native population to its will (i.e. America). A bunch of countries (Britain, mainly) simply said, “Here’s a bunch of land we have control over, let’s give it to the Jews as their homeland.” The Jews went in and immediately started throwing their weight around in a super-righteous and overtly militant manner. If I were a Palestinian living there in 1947, you better believe I’d be pissed off.

Oh, spare me. This kind of logic would justify such actions as, say, the United States invading northern Mexico “to protect its interests.” (Which is kind of the same rationale that led to the Mexican War, now that I think about it…) Anyone who believes that Israel, a nation of questionably legitimate status to begin with, has some inherent “right” to commit overt aggression against its neighbors and indigenous peoples (the Palestinians), is living in a fool’s paradise. Israel deserves everything it gets.

The only reasonable solution, as far as stopping the violence, would be for Israel to give up its sovereignity, and return all of its land to the rightful owners, the Palestinians. And maybe that might not work. This area has been under military dispute since…oh, I dunno, THE DAWN OF CIVILIZATION?? If we haven’t come up with a solution in the past 6,000 years, it’s unlikely that we’ll come up with one any time soon.


You say that like it’s a bad thing.

So which do you want? A peaceful allocation of land by legitimate means and by a vote of world’s sovereign states, or aggression.

Well if Mexico (or Canada for that matter) ever attacked the US with the expressed intent to wipe it from existance I would expect the US to do just what Israel has done. I’m not hearing much noise about Poland giving back Sudattenland to Germany.

I think you should bring that up with the UN at the next meeting…

I believe there has been some pretty overt aggression from the Arab states for quite some time. It can be argued that they deserved everything they got thus far as well.

Why stop there. Let’s give North and south America back to the natives. Move everyone else back to Europe, Africa and Asia.

Ya think?..

Here’s an idea, let’s stop looking to the dawn of civilization (or the past 6,000 years, whichever came first) for a solution. We ought to be able to solve this problem by resolving it for current generations and hopefully future ones as well.

Maybe that’s because Sudetenland is part of the Czech Republic. Are you trying to start a war?

Quicksilver, please don’t be naive. You cannot solve an emotional and visceral issue with logic and common sense.

P.S. - how you been? Long time no speak.

You can’t have it both ways, QuickSilver. You say that Israel has the right to exist because of the UN mandate. Fine, I have no problem with that. However, you then go on to say that Israel should keep the occupied territories. But the UN has also mandated that Israel relinquish the occupied territories. If the basis of Israel’s legitimacy is the UN, Israel cannot legitimately act in defiance of the UN.
A second point is that there are people living in the occupied territories. They don’t want to be ruled by Israel. Another fundamental principle of the UN is the right to self-determination. If you may recall, that was the basis for why the UN voted for the establishment of Israel and, you may further recall, that was why the UN decided to divide Palestine into Israel and Arab territories.
I’m not positing any solutions for the Palestinian crisis; quite frankly, I don’t know of any anymore. I also believe that Arafat deserves the lion’s share of the blame for the current situation. I just wanted to point out that your position is inconsistent.


I’m not sure how the Barak government qualifies as dovish.

Palestinians were angry over continued settlements in the occupied territories and continued delays in application of Oslo. There were, of course, reasons for this, and one can go round and round abou this. However, it does strike me as unbalanced to portray the latest intifada as coming from nowwhere or from extemist factions exploiting Sharon’s visit --frankly which looked like a calculated move to blow up the slowly dieing peace ‘process.’ If anything is clear, the explosion was large and grass-roots.

In re "Peace for Peace’: I have a hard time imagining what this means. Unless Israel wants to be an apartheid state or expel the Arabic speaking inhabitants, it will have to give up land for peace, perhaps along with some compensation fund to buy off the “right to return” issue: formally speaking under international law, Palestinian refugees have rights to return to even pre-1948 lands.(*) Obviously this is in no way realistic. Exchanging 1967 lands plus some ‘blood-money’ funded through outside resources would go a long way, in the right environment of course, to ending the cycle of resentment.

Otherwise, an increasingly impoverished Palestinian population, with quite literally nothing to lose, will continue a guerrilla war without end. Nasty, brutish and degrading for all involved.

Ergo, both sides face choices in re compromises and mutual assurance. Palestinians, in my view legitimately, view the continued settlements in the occupied territories as a policy of pushing them out. Israelis obviously have real security concerns, although I beleive from what I see and hear, inter-state war is only likely in the case of expulsion of Palestinians. Otherwise, the lessons of 1973 have been well-learned at the state level. The question is how to cut the ground out from under the non-state terrorists. Contrary to what one hears asserted, most of these characters are driven by logical if bloody reason. Except for the hard-core kooks giving people options helps give them exits from the logic of violence.

So, there you go. Compromises or an endless, bloody guerrilla/terror war?

(*: I believe you mischaracterize JET’s comments on the up-to-1948 situation: he appears to be referring to the cycle of violence which broke out in the post-war period. I would not personally feel comfortable calling this “peaceful allocation of land”)

There is a further dimension to this: anybody who has been to Israel realizes that a HUGE number of jobs (service, factory, and maintainence) jobs in Israel are filled by Palestinians. Quite simply, the Israeli economy would collapse without palestinian labor. This is why the current Israeli policy (of isolating the Palestinian towns) is simply suicidal-quite apart from the misery this is causing the Palestinian people.
So, Israel and Palestine are like two drowning men, lashed together-they are busy scratching eachother’s eyes out, and sinking to the bottom of the sea.
Unfortunately, I don’t see any solution to this.

Not bad Sili. And you?

Well, in the time you’ve been away I’ve managed to pass your post count but apparently that’s about all. Seems I’ve yet to learn to keep from stepping into it deeper than I intend. Can you help a friend out of a tight spot, Sili? :wink:

All cogent arguments Sua and Collounsbury, I’ll give them some thought over night. Taxidea Taxus, it appears that you are already a smart ass from your second post in here. Welcome. You’ll fit right in. :slight_smile:

from JET

There were plenty of Jews in the area before WWII, some from the Zionist movement of the late 19th century, others whose roots go all the way back. True, some moved in after the war, but it wasn’t as if Britain ferried every Jew who survived the Holocaust to Palestine in order to set up Israel. And many people forget that when Israel was created, a Palestinian nation was also created, which was obliterated in the war that the Arab world hoped would destoy Israel.

And why shouldn’t the victor claim the spoils? That’s how the first world nations came to have their borders. Just because we’re ‘more civilized’ now, or whatever, no one else can follow our lead? Especially since Israel has started on the defensive every time.

After showing such sympathy for Israel, I must say that there are many things which Israel has done that I find despicable. The whole thing is such a convoluted mess there is no clear moral choice.

Well, it seems as though attempts to reason with and appease the Arabs have been decidedly unsuccessful. The nations (or at least several of them, including the Palestinians) surrounding Israel have stated that the goal is not land, but the eradication of Israel.

Maybe it’s time not to offer more land or further negotiations, but to lay waste to the aggressor nations. Not a popular idea with the rest of us “enlightened” people (everybody thinks their own ideas are enlightened), but it’s time for the Israeli government to accept that they are in a state of perpetual war and act accordingly.

I forget who said it, but “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.”

The Israeli government would do well to think about that. The hostility from surrounding nations shows no sign of abating. Arafat has, in particular, shown an unwillingness to accept reasonable terms. In fact, he has shown that he is unwilling to accept any sort of peace. My guess is that it’s because if peace breaks out, he is no longer the poor underdog and loses his prized position as leader of an oppressed and homeless nation.

Violence in response to attempts at peace can only be answered in kind, IM-not-so-HO.

Turn Jerusalem into an international city (sort of like the Vatican), chop the country in two, call the northern chunk ‘Palestine’ and the southern chunk ‘Israel’ (or vice versa), and give everyone 2 weeks to move where they want to live. If either nation attacks the other, or Jerusalem can’t govern itself, nuke the entire area until it glows a nice, soothing radioactive green. If there’s any place on the globe that’s just crying out for a little irradiating, it’s the Middle East. :wink:

Wabbit- That reminds me of Tom Clancy’s solution in the Sum of All Fears. They only problem is there is too much pride and stubbornness for it to work.

First a few nitpicks. Please let us not fall back to the legitimacy argument. Every nation on the planet, from the US to Japan, has had a beginning in which somebody was oppressed or some group marginalized. What is important is that there are now 4 million Jews there, and they have the right to self-determination (as do the Palestinians). They have established a representative government and that government has the same legitimacy as any other government on the planet, because the 4 million Jews are under no condition going back to Europe, or Uganda, or Montana.

You have a group of people living on land which you know is occupied. I believe (IMHO) that most of Israel would agree that self-determination for the people on that land is a good thing. Without that land, some parts of Israel (in fact, many of the more populous parts) would be between 3 and 10 miles wide. People on that land have consistently declared to “push the Jews into the sea” and have not recognized Israel’s right of existence.

It is a vicious cycle. The Israelis suppress the violence, which only spurs on more violence. The Israelis get scared and stop negotiating on returning the land. IMHO, though, this time the ball is in the Palestinians’ court.

At Camp David in August, Barak came with a plan that went as far as Israel could go – a divided Jerusalem, some reparations for the refugees, and 95% give back of the land with fair compensation (and land) for the other 5%. Arafat refused on grounds that Israel didn’t go far enough in granting Palestinian sovereignty over the holiest Jewish site and full acceptance of over 1 million violently anti-Israeli refugees back into a country of less than 5 million. He lost world opinion, and Clinton publicly rebuked him. The Israelis maintain that the only way he could gain it back was to instigate riots and portray Israel as the big bully again. It worked in the 70s and in the 80s (the Intifada), so there is no reason why the sequel wouldn’t go well. IMHO, he has been quite successful.

From the Israeli viewpoint, it appears that they went as far as they could possibly go, and all they get in return is terror and violence. No amount of negotiation has elicited either compromise or peace from the Palestinians.

Now, the Clinton/Barak deals are off the table. Some Palestinians are even coming to the realization that maybe the strategy of the 70s and 80s is not so applicable ([url=" "here is a Jerusalem Post article). The Palestinians want a nation born out of struggle. A group of people hell-bent on struggle are not interested in negotiation. The Israelis IMHO have backed away from the table to see if the Palestinian leadership will make any overtures of peace. So far, they have not. The Israelis cannot negotiate from a position of weakness – perceived weakness is deadly when your country is 3 miles thick.

Here is the Jerusalem Post article. Sorry, I even clicked on Preview. I am a dummy.

Let me also not that even though this is a Jerusalem Post article, this columnist is Palestinian and a quick review of his past columns shows that he is not at all an Israeli sympathizer or apologist.

Well then I say we nuke that pride right out of them! :wink:

Exhibit number one for failed negotiations, demonization of the opponent, lack of understand of their position.

May I respectfully refer you to my post and in particular to the issue of (a) Jewish colonization/settlement of the occupied territories, including expropriation of lands Palestinians consider their own (b) lack of application by Israel, for a variety of reasons both domestic and international, of the Oslo accords.

“Attempts to reason with the Arabs” is simply the language of jingoism.

The issue remains one of a problem of compromises. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians have arived at mutually acceptable compromises, not because they are “impossible” but because each side keeps trying to play from power. Israel negotiated Oslo, but continued a policy of settlement rather clearly against the very text negotiated. It has reasons to do so, but the issue of settlement, alhtough with non-application of the accords, quite clearly helped scuttle negotations. On the other side, the Palestinians have rather loudly focused on their rights without truly fully acknowledging Israeli rights/concerns. Moreover in re the “right of return” – which is a legal right of the refugees but one quite impossible for Israel to admit for the obvious demographic and practical reasons, they have staked out an excessive position and largely seem to exclude compromise. On the other hand, Israel simply ignores this issue in re offering its own solutions, e.g. compensation funds.

A negative and mutual feedback loop: being uncomfortably close to the issue and hearing both sides, I feel quite confident in advancing the opinion both sides have equally scuttled peace.

No, that is false. Jordan and Egypt quite clearly would prefer normal if somewhat cold relations with Israel. Do they like it that Israel exists? No. Do they accept its existance? Yes, you don’t see “zionist entity” references anymore, and with the exception of the extremists, most references and discussion, in Arabic, take for granted Israel’s existance.

Now in re the Palestinians, I think there is some ambivalance, however, at the same time it again seems clear that the consciousness is there that they’re not going to get 1948 lands back, and most of the discourse I have seen, read lately focuses on the occupied territories and issues of expropriation of land. And I believe they have a point, alhtough I also understand where Israeli policy is coming from. However, it is at direct contradiction with a lasting peace.

Syria… who knows what Syria is truly doing. Largely Syria has a big mouth and wants Golan back. After? Lebanon. Lebanon is a Syrian puppet in this matter, but largely wants, it seems to me, to stay out of Israeli affairs. The Hezbollah militia has a hard-on for the whatsamacallit farms region, but that seems to have died down. Otherwise, to my understanding, with some exceptions the Lebanon border is fairly quiet.


Of that’s productive, lay waste to the aggressor nations! Why that will just win Israel the accolades of the world and advance the cause of a normalized Israel.

Give me a break: there is no open war now, and Israeli pre-emptive attacks on its neighbors would simply drive them into rejection of its existance again. Frankly, this suggestion is unhelpful and stupid.

How about us rational people with an understanding of the region? I utterly reject this characterization for the reasons already stated above. This is not 1967 or 1973. The region has changed since then, as has the Arab position, collectively.

Factually false.

The terms, to be frank, were not reasonable (contra Edwino’s argument, which at least is reasonable) nor could he accept them given the populace would not accept them. A review of the snipped up territory the latest package would have given the Paletinians in comparision with Oslo (true now quite dead) reveals more on the matter. The Israelis certainly had valid reasons of state for trying this, but the Palestinians had valid reasons to reject (see settlements once more). Further, the issue of Jerusalem is non-trivial. Frankly there will have to be further compromise all-around, above all re the holy sites.

Rubbish. Utter rubbish.

Rubbish, Arafat, the little moron, would like nothing more than to enjoy the trappings of a pseudo-state. Given his druthers, it seems clear that he might have actually gone for the agreements proferred. The street is where the real rejection came from.

I roll me eyes.

Even the romans couldn’t stop all the fighting in this area, just leave them to it.

re: I’m not hearing much noise about Poland giving back Sudattenland to Germany.

Germany has renounced all claims - mr kohl did this after saying ’ we are not renouncing it’ then getting lots of calls from the uk,france,usa saying ‘NOT AGAIN !’.

ooo go on then, my tuppence worth …

Why don’t they just agree a peace based on er, money, i.e. lots of it from Israel to palestine ( well there part of israel ).

Give the plo a plush hotel complex and watch them declare peace.

I wonder what the UN would have thought about the US Ciivil War.


I think the whole UN thing is crap. There is no such thing as “laws” when dealing with countries at war. Israel was not peacefuly and legally created just because the UN decreed it to be so. They became a country because the UN was strong enough to force their decision on the Middle East, and then they stayed a country because they were strong enough to win several wars.
There is no “legal right of return” for the refugees. Israel doesn’t owe anybody anything as long as they are militarily strong. They have nukes and the implicit backing of the US.

Kosovo was a great demonstration of this. The UN couldn’t agree on attacking, so NATO did the dirty work. They trumped up charges of genocide, whipped up public support and then bombed the hell out Serbia for God knows what reason.

If anyone thinks the UN is some new pure and peaceful entity with methods any different from the countries of the world, I think you are mistaken. They use the same old methods that all the world’s countries are using.

The equation is the same. Strength and allies are the only two things that keep your sovereignty whole.

That being said, I understand why the Palestinians are pissed, and I also understand why Israel has the positions it has. The two sides need to come to a peace agreement based on the real facts of the matter and not some fantasy land of legal assumptions and entitlement.

My .02

I’m going to have to disagree with Freedom on several points here:

In re self-determination:

Probably more or less the same position as in re South Africa and the Apartheid regime, assuming somewhat ahistorically similar sort of ideological make-up --which rather goes with the idea of self-determination.

Of course the self-determination idea is a bit of a sticky wicket as it tends to run into other folks self-determination. One could also ask if self-determination’s ‘ideals’ are best served by micro-states and the like.

Quite true, but on the other hand, that does not mean international law is irrelevant or non-existant. It can not, however as you suggest here, be understood in the same terms as domestic law. International law is more like the rules of a referee-less game of football or basketball. Everyone will float a rule here and there. Everyone will complain about cheating. However, go too far and you will get bounced. It’s a set of guidelines for amorality and power. Float it too much and you get to play with Afghanistan and Burma/Myanmar.

Wrong, there is. Widely agreed on principal. So long as a majority of nations, read nations that matter, agree on the idea, there is such a right and Israel has to pay attention to it, if only as a bargaining chip.

See comments above in re the pick up game. It’s really not a matter of “owing” anyone, its the knowledge that (a) you gotta get along to get ahead in the game (b) you will be playing the game repeatedly with more or less the same players © becoming too flagrent a rules breaker/cheater etc will have bad long term results, even if your buddy is the biggest, best player in the game.

No, it is not. it’s a different game. Here you have a new version of the game: intervention in internationally accepted borders. Different from the Israeli-Palestinian game bec. the border/sovereignty issue. Subtle but important distinction.

For reasons related to sovereignty and precedent. And to be frank, lots of Europeans were not actually enthusiastic.

The Albanians ran a good marketing campaing, the charges are not wholly false, there was rather nasty precedent for Serb extremists elsewhere, Serbs ran a very poor defense - Milo notably managing to piss-off most of his neighbors.

True, its simply a committee to help balance and resolve different soverign interests.

Well, it does allow for a modicum of relatively wide-ranging consensus – useful for multilateral issues, things break down a bit on controversial conflicts.

Well, not wholly the same. The dynamic of multilateral versus “pacts” is somewhat different, the game works a bit differently, and I would say positively.

I would agree with this, except your incorrect description of “fantasy” – the real facts of the matter include the international legal implications – however I will agree that treating these international legal issues as if they were like domestic law is of course simplistic and wrong-headed. But it’s also incorrect to dismiss them entirely as noted above.