Yesterday I wrote a post about the yesterday’s scathing United Nations report, which called on all Israeli settlers to immediately leave the West Bank and claimed the Palestinians had cause to take Israel to the International Criminal Court. I tried to argue that, placed into the context of the openly stated goal by Palestinian officials to make Israel a pariah (a goal given a major prod by the recent United Nations vote to grant Palestinians enhanced status), the report was the latest coil in a greater campaign to delegitimize Israel.
Among the responses was one by Matt Duss, who accused me, rightly, of conflating the delegitimization of Israel with the delegitimization of the Israel occupation of the West Bank. Where I’m usually very clear about the distinction, I wasn’t yesterday.
Of course, this got me thinking about my sloppiness. I started to think, well, what if I didn’t actually believe that the campaign by Abbas and the United Nations against Israel’s policies in the West Bank was any different from the myriad other campaigns against Israel’s right to exist? I could cite decades of Palestinian rejectionism and quote decades of hypocritical refrains emanating from Turtle Bay and I wouldn’t sound totally off the reservation. Noting the absence of affirmations of Israel’s right to exist or the desire for peace, it’s gotten easier to believe that Mahmoud Abbas really isn’t interested in a two-state solution. If I consider that the Palestinian demand for right of return is, in essence, a de facto statement against Israel’s right to exist, the point of view only gets clearer. It’s odd to say any of this because I’ve never concluded it before.
The same also feels true for Israeli leaders and supporters abroad who say they believe in the necessity of a Palestinian state. It sounds more and more like lip service than ever. Although given that Israeli territory concessions in Lebanon and Gaza have yielded three wars and an intifada, I’m not as inclined to blame the Israelis for being selfish or stubborn. That doesn’t excuse the policies of Israel in the West Bank, but they should not–as the United Nations baldly suggests–simply leave. The past decade has shown that doesn’t work. Israel should stop building and, if possible, negotiate out.
Sadly, the idea’s not fashionable anymore. The chorus is getting thin.