Hawk Or Dove On The Mideast, I Disagree With You
Tue, 12/18/2012
Gary Rosenblatt
Gary Rosenblatt

I really try to avoid the endless left vs. right discussions on how Israel should proceed in dealing with the Palestinians these days. It’s not that I have nothing to say on this vital debate, but rather that I have much to say — on both sides of the issue.

Truth is, I find it upsetting when people insist they have “the answer” to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. If it were all so simple, wouldn’t we have arrived at a solution decades ago?

If you are a dove, insisting that Israel needs to bolster Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority and agree to a settlement freeze to get the peace talks resuscitated, I’ll take the other side.

After all, I’ll say, Abbas refused an extravagantly generous offer from Ehud Olmert in 2005 and did not respond positively when Benjamin Netanyahu halted settlement activity for 10 months three years ago. Abbas may look good compared to his predecessor, Yasir Arafat, or to Hamas, which makes clear its intention to destroy Israel. But he’s shown no indication of significant compromise, a requirement for real peace. He’s more of a passive terrorist, allowing others to do the dirty work — the rockets and the suicide bombings — that he later praises or condemns, but doesn’t act to stop.

Still, if you tell me that since Israel has no serious partner on the Palestinian side, it should go ahead and either annex parts of the West Bank or keep building in the disputed territories, I’d argue that such moves preclude any chance of avoiding a one-state solution, which means the end of a Jewish democratic state. Israel’s choices would be a Jewish apartheid state or a democratic state that, in time, would have Arabs outnumbering Jews and running the government in Jerusalem without firing a shot.

You might conclude that I’m just a contrarian, ready to oppose whatever solution is proposed. But I’d prefer to think of myself as someone humbled by reality, insisting that those with a simple answer — be it hawkish or dovish — to the Mideast conflict are being stubborn, refusing to acknowledge the limits of their argument.

The hawks have no answer beyond the perhaps emotionally satisfying but highly impractical “pound them into submission” point of view. One of the reasons Israel didn’t send ground troops into Gaza a few weeks ago is because even if they rooted out all of the militants fighting them — which would require killing large numbers of civilians as well — the government in Jerusalem would then be faced with the choice of running Gaza again, controlling the lives of hundreds of thousands more Arabs who hate them, or leaving the area in chaos, allowing new terror groups to take over.

But the doves, in calling for ever more concessions from Israel in the hopes of ending the decades-long war, refuse to acknowledge that the Palestinian leadership consistently has opposed a Jewish state in the region, and continues to demonize Israelis and Jews as inhuman usurpers of the land. Abbas, the “moderate,” speaking at the UN prior to the recent vote enhancing the PA’s status, spoke not of the hope of two states for two peoples but of Israel as a state of ethnic cleansing and genocide run by war criminals.

I don’t want to win any arguments on the Mideast. I just want whoever I’m debating to acknowledge how deeply complicated the situation is and to admit that not all problems have solutions.

And that complexity and confusion applies not only to dealing with the Palestinians. Look, for example, at Egypt and Syria.

In Cairo, Mubarak the tyrant was a partner with Israel in controlling radical elements, and the democratically elected Morsi represents the Muslim Brotherhood, founded for and dedicated to eradicating Jews from the region. You can see now why Israelis were so upset with the U.S. for allowing Mubarak to fall so hard so fast.

And in Damascus, though it is clear that President Assad is more murderous even than his father, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths of his own people, would it be better if terrorist factions of the opposition took control of the country, or if it became a failed state, with Iran waiting to step in and take over?

There are no easy answers in the Mideast, and there are few in life.

“Wisdom begets humility,” said Abraham ibn Ezra, the 12th century Spanish sage. The same is true today. Being Jewish is about having doubt, and even our greatest biblical heroes are flawed. As the late Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, the prominent scholar and Jewish Week founder, wrote: “A Jew dare not live with absolute certainty, because certainty is the hallmark of the fanatic, and Judaism abhors fanaticism.”

Keep that in mind the next time someone tells you he or she knows just what to do to end the Mideast conflict. Find the truths in their position while recognizing there is no one truth.

Gary@jewishweek.org

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Comments

If I ran Israel, I'd do exactly what Bibi has done and is doing, but I'd also aim to appear to the world to care for the Palestinians more than anyone else, and, without any treaties or dialogue or anything I'd build bridges and/or subways to connect a few of the patches of Palestinian territory and make their lives easier. I'd put radiation sensors in these tunnelbridges/subways, of course, but I'd do it for the world to see. I wouldn't talk about it. I wouldn't boast about it. If asked I'd say it is entirely for the Palestinians benefit because settlement construction has made travel for the Palestinians difficult. And when the Palestinians really, really misbehave, only then, I'd shut the routes for a few weeks, or months.

But Bibi, he's been great.

Gary - gr8 column. The only thing that I would like you also to have said was that right or wrong, American Jews do not have the moral right to publically criticize Israel. To gain that right they need to make aliyah, pay Israeli taxes, serve (or send their kids) in the IDF. In other words, to put their lives where their mouths are.

Wow wow Gary ! What happened to you, where are you going with this ? Last time I checked, I thought you were a Jewish religious man! Does that still holds true? If so, why the confusion then? I am sure instead of throwing this double talk out there, how about doing the ; RIGHT THING ? Are you saying that you know and researched all the facts, yet found more than one truth for the same event, that created the end result where Palestinians and Jews have found themselves today ? What truth are you talking about that we have more than one of ?! Please check and see if the Jewish faith has the honor, integrity, truthfulness and a conscious. If it does, and you use them, you would find the truth, the right thing, and what you need to speak out when guiding and sharing your thoughts. If you lost those things, then I would understand why the confusion you are sharing with us, and wish to have elastic truth that have many faces depends on who are you talking to. The Jewish people are at a cross roads in more than one way. Its very essential that we guide, not confuse. Occupation, wars ,killings and throwing outrageous claims that we know they don't make sense to sane logical minds , is only going to make us look worst than what we already do. Be a decent human, that should not be hard.
Stay well.

Throughout history, wars are won when one side wins. When Israel decides to win, she will. But not without killing Arabs and having bad photos on CNN and BBC.

There is a third way. If rockets from Gaza and the hatred that spews from the PA and Abbas at Israel are acceptable to the world and not against peace or international law, then the case should be made that Israel should not be restricted in its building in Jerusalem and the territories. In all the world only Jews are told where they cannot live, as it was before and during the Holocaust. Nothing has changed. All Jews should unite and demand Israel be treated like every other nation, past and present, and be allowed to win a defensive war and keep the spoils of war.

It's great that you're always thinking about/worrying about/even writing about Israel. But why don't you do things the Israeli, democratic way--move here and vote. US Jews can say/think/feel all they want about Israel--but the deciders live here, and have the right to decide for themselves.

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