A Hard Look at the West Bank Settlers

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

It is past time to take a good hard look at the West Bank Settlers, who have led Israeli politics around by the nose now for decades, as if Israel’s right to exist were one and the same with their right to keep their settlements!

I believe that peace with the Palestinians has long been available, by pulling the settlers back within Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Even the most seemingly intractable issue, the status of Jerusalem, has been resolved in detail since the last days of the Clinton administration. I believe the demand for the “Right of Return” will be exchangeable for a secure, economically developed, Palestinian state in the entire West Bank and Gaza.
I believe that the Palestinians, who feel they have nothing to lose, can come to have everything to lose, in secure sovereignty and prosperous economic development. The willing economic bakers are many, the population numbers are small, and the money already being spent on war and “peacekeeping” is vastly greater than a full, advanced Palestinian economic infrastructure would require. I believe that the Palestinians themselves would become the most ardent guardians of the peace, against anyone’s attempt to restore their former desolation.
There is plenty of support and detailed evidence for these contentions, but I won’t go into it, except to append a post I made last June, Palestinian Public Opinion, which bears on this. In polls, both the Israeli and Palestinian publics support the same path to peace.
Skeptical? It has never been tried. So try it!
What do we have instead? The horror of the current conflict and an unfinished wall cutting into the territory of a future Palestinian nation.
The most incredible part of all this is that the Israeli people have long been willing to make this trade-off. Support for the West Bank settlements has been a maddeningly feckless sleepwalk into disaster. Israel has acted as if indulging the settlers’ infantile delusion of a Greater Israel were a free ride, and always would be. (They grabbed another hilltop? Let them have it. They must really want that hilltop. We don’t want them throw a tantrum!)
But, if you back the settlers, you back them with military force, and eventually you back them with a war in Lebanon.. It is not a free ride. It has been a drugged sleepwalk.
The drugs?
–Military and technological contempt for the Arabs. Arabs can fire missiles! Arabs can construct stronghold entrenchments! Arabs can stand and fight!
Yes, they can. The bubble of invulnerability has been a drug.
–Overly broad, unconditional support from the US for Israeli West Bank policy. I say overly broad, not overly deep. Let it be deep! Deep means support for Israel’s right to exist. Overly broad means support for the West Bank policies.
American Jews and American politicians have been unwilling to speak the truth about Israel’s West Bank policies. This combined unconditional support has been a drug.
We need to become a counterweight. We need to repudiate, even, in time, to anathemize as murderous, continued West Bank settlements.
It is time to wake up to the suffering.
Is the timing bad? It will get better. The fighting will end. There will be negotiations. If sovereignty over the West Bank is in prospect, they can go well. If it is not, they will be hopeless.
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Palestinian Public Opinion
Edgewise, June 21, 2006, David Kolodney
Note: I did do some “cherry-picking” for the data I liked best! Also: PIPA (Program on International Policy Attitudes), the source of this report, is well regarded as credible.
–David
Reported by WorldPublicOpinion.org (Publication of the Program on International Policy Attitudes)
Near East Consulting (NEC) poll of Palestinians, Jan. 27-29,
Hamas position calling for the elimination of Israel
Hamas should change its position: 63%
Hamas should maintain its position: 21%
“Even among those who voted for Hamas, only 37 percent support Hamas’ position that Israel does not have the right to exist.”
“[E]ighty percent support a peace agreement.”
JMCC poll (Jerusalem Media & Communication Center) poll of Palestinians, Feb. 8-12,
Two-state solution: 58%
“A bi-national state on all of historic Palestine”: 22%
Islamic state (a volunteered response): 3%
Among those who said they voted for Hamas, the reason given:
Hamas “political agenda”: 12%
Hoped Hamas would end corruption: 43%
“The poll also found that 73% do not want [President] Abbas, a Fatah leader, to resign from the presidency.”

Discomfiting the Apologists of Dickensian Predation.

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

This is a year old; I came across it in a search. But it’s worth noting. It ought to discomfit the apologists of Dickensian predation. (Old New-Left? Me?)
How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart
July 17, 2005 NYT
“But not everyone is happy with Costco’s business strategy. Some Wall Street analysts assert that Mr. Sinegal is overly generous not only to Costco’s customers but to its workers as well.
“Costco’s average pay, for example, is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Sam’s Club. And Costco’s health plan makes those at many other retailers look Scroogish. One analyst, Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank, complained last year that at Costco ‘it’s better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder.'”

The Commodious Ambiguity of “Optimism”

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

[I seem to be working my way back into rambling Philosophy mode here.]
General Abizaid said: “So the question is, am I optimistic whether or not Iraqi forces, with our support, with the backing of the Iraqi government, can prevent the slide to civil war? My answer is yes, I’m optimistic that that slide can be prevented.” NYT
This is subtle. My guess is he was actively trading on a systematic ambiguity about optimism.
Why? Today’s generals really do operate under a serious, post-Vietnam, military compunction. It is strongly felt within the services that the Vietnam generals sold out the troops when they lied about the prospects of that war.
The ambiguity:
Why does he introduce and lean on optimism?
On returning from a tour of the situation, you might say “I am optimistic about our prospects,” and that would indicate your conviction that what you saw gave you good reason to be hopeful.
But you also might say “I am optimistic” because you had a big glass of Happy Juice on the flight back, and it made you optimistic about everything. Nonetheless, you were truthful when you expressed your optimism.
The general could have been thinking that his job as a military leader is to be optimistic. So saying he is optimistic does not really render his strategic opinion; it just reports an optimistic state of mind. He is supposed to be optimistic.
Now absent the Happy Juice, the mental state he is reporting does not exist. So the report is a deception–but only a dutiful, understandable, expected, pro forma deception. In contrast, if he’d said, “I believe that the slide is likely to be prevented,” instead of merely “I’m optimistic that the slide can be prevented,” it would have been bald deception.

Health Coverage That’s Better than Being Uninsured!

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

The Medicare people were proud when the AARP reported last January that “for many Americans, Medicare drug plans…can cost less than buying the same drugs across the border [DKo: which is forbidden under the Medicare coverage].” Those results have held up since then.
Was this something to be proud of? Suppose you asked whether an employer’s health insurance coverage was any good, and they said, “Oh yes! In fact, for many people, it’s better than being uninsured!”