Israel’s strategy in Gaza; creating liberal democratic tendencies.

English: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin,...

English: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. president Bill Clinton, and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat. Česky: Izraelský premiér Jicchak Rabin, americký prezident Bill Clinton a předseda Organizace pro osvobození Palestiny (OOP) Jásir Arafat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many observers argue that Israel lacks a strategy in Gaza. If it has a strategy, it is bankrupt because any success does not stop the attacks. A related view argues Israel’s tactical advantage cannot be turned into strategic victory. By contrast, critics argue that Israel’s strategy is genocide, ethnic cleansing, or both. They make this argument either simplistically or with a complex nuance. The simple view is that Israel settlements to push out Palestinians. In the nuanced view, Israel foments state of crisis to destroy Palestinian society.

I believe both are wrong. We need an analytical device to understand Israel’s strategy. Without it, the debate and the conflict remain sterile. The analytical device is Liberalism. Liberalism reveals that Israel’s strategy in Gaza is familiar to the Western approach to similar issues. Israel’s strategy is similar to England’s strategy in Ireland, Scotland and Wales[1]. It is similar to the United States of America’s strategy in North America.[2] Liberalism explains why Western protestors recoil from Israel’s activity in Gaza. They have forgotten what was required to create their peace, stability, and prosperity.[3] The non-Western states resent Liberalism and resist it because it threatens their identity. They see it antithetical to what they want to achieve.

Israel is trying through violence and political engagement to encourage the Palestinian Government (PG) to become a moderate. If the PG becomes moderate, they become an acceptable political partner. They demonstrate that liberalism is the mechanism for change when they ask the classic liberal questions. Will you recognize our right to exist? Will you renounce violence? These questions are at the heart of liberalism. As Frances Fukuyama’s book End of History[4] argued they are the questions that when answered in the affirmative demonstrate the end of history. However, to the extent that Hamas answers no to these questions, they remain firmly within the Concept of the Political. Carl Schmitt’s critique of this liberalism in Concept of the Political explains why the conflict continues.

Fukuyama or Schmitt: The choice that animates Gaza’s future

Israel’s strategy is immediately problematic for the Palestinians and any Palestinian government (PG). The Palestinians will see this as an attempt to dilute or destroy their identity. Their identity is bound up with being immoderate, and thus unacceptable, actor. In the Israeli strategy, they face an existential threat. Do they want to be Western and accept liberalism? The other path is to remain immoderate and reject liberalism.[5] Yet, they cannot create a state without assimilating the liberal tendencies of the state system. If they accept liberal tendencies (renounce violence and recognize Israel) what is their identity.[6] If they do not change, then the fighting has to continue. All truces are simply a time to reload and resupply. The fighting will continue until one of two outcomes occurs. The first is that Palestinians reject Hamas with ballots. The second is that Hamas bankrupts itself with the bodies of Palestinians.[7] How long can the Palestinians accept a government that will fight to the last Palestinian for a goal that they could achieve without the violence and sacrifice?

Despite this extremism, the PG is slowly becoming relatively moderate. For nearly 40 years, the Palestinians had only one leader or face–Yasser Arafat. When he died, Hamas was elected to lead the Palestinians. Although they were not less moderate than Arafat, they had a crucial advantage. They were democratically elected. The election gave them some legitimacy. However, with legitimacy comes responsibility. Hamas predictably used this irresponsibly. They continued their immoderate illiberal path to destroy Israel through violence. They rejected the moderate approach to assimilate with liberalism. Hamas built tunnels and trained fighters. They did not build hospitals and train teachers. They sought war. The violence and dead Palestinians sustains Hamas’s legitimacy as a radical or illiberal group. To build hospitals and train teachers would require them to accept liberalism and display liberal tendencies. They could not do that. However, a PG after Hamas may find that they can. They may seek a moderate path if only because it allows them to live longer and to retain their legitimacy longer.

The more moderate the PG becomes, the more a two state strategy becomes viable. However, elements within Israel do not want that two state outcome. They will create situations that reduce the PG’s ability to become moderate[8] entity. Is Israel willing to accept a moderate PG? The question cannot be ignored nor can an answer be assumed. The more Israel resists it by equating moderate liberal and immoderate illiberal Palestinians, they encourage the problem they wants to avoid. No, this does not mean that Israel has encouraged Hamas or brought the attacks on itself. Instead, it is to argue that the Israeli attacks and strategy has to be focused on a liberal democratic entity, a moderate entity. If they are not pursuing the goal of liberal democratic tendencies, then we have to consider the alternatives. Is Israel’s goal to remove Palestinians or simply to absorb them into Israel? Neither is a viable strategy. If Israel rejects a PG with liberal democratic tendencies, then it will be as illiberal as those it opposes.

The liberal democratic trajectory within Islamic states (and Israel).

At the same time, Islamic states demonstrate liberal tendencies in their intent or trajectory. For this reason, illiberals want that to stop them and any rapprochement with Israel.[9] The liberal tendencies of the relatively moderate Islamic states suggest why they do not support Hamas as they might have previously. Even though they are marginally less illiberal the extremists, they are now vulnerable to their own extremists. Even a state like Saudi Arabia (or North Korea) has liberal democratic tendencies. It wants to be recognized as a legitimate state within the state system to that it has to show liberal tendencies. In this way, Israel and the PG share a similar trajectory.[10]

Israel has faced the same questions of identity and assimilation with liberalism. They have answered them; to the extent, an answer is possible with an Israeli state. They have assimilated themselves into the liberal state system, even as they retained the faith of their fathers. However, they understand that their assimilation presents an existential challenge to their identity.[11] They may delay that challenge for a long time but they cannot avoid it.

Israel was on a long journey to statehood. It took them 2000 years to get to a state and they have had it less than 70 years. If Israel’s strategy is to succeed, they have to find a way to foster liberal tendencies in the Palestinians. So far, Israel has worked hard to suppress the illiberal tendencies. Can they demonstrate the same skill, ingenuity, perseverance to generate liberal tendencies?

If this is not Israel’s strategy, what is it?

[1] The same process, albeit on a longer time scale, can be seen in the way that England assimilated others into its control. One could say that the UK I flirting with its own “two state solution” with Scotland. The longer historical process can be seen in the reasons why Wales has so many castles and why Berwick upon Tweed, which was one of the wealthiest towns in the world in 1295, is now a relatively sleepy town. One could call Berwick’s fate self-defence, as Scotland had made an alliance with France, which was a strategic threat to England, but that misses the deeper historical process. The same historical process that animated England’s relationship with Scotland explained the process by which the Empire was transformed into a commonwealth. The evolution of that approach can be seen in the issues around the torture files from Kenya and the way that the Scotland’s proposed independence is to be settled by ballots rather than bullets. America’s assimilation strategy through liberalism has been no less robust in its own way. These are not wars of imperialism so much as wars to extend the liberal mandate and assimilate its opponents into the system or destroy them. The rise of the state system and the way it assimilates those who aspire to statehood into it reflects that historical process.

[2] The strategy is the process by which liberalism assimilates the “other”, in the Schmittian sense. Carl Schmitt, the Nazi era legal scholar and philosopher proposed the idea of the concept of the political that said the basic political issue was to distinguish friend from enemy. Schmitt argued that liberalism could not overcome the tension between the two and that its attempt to do so was undesirable.

I borrowed the idea of assimilation from sociologists in the United States who sought to explain the way immigrants are encouraged to join a society. Consider the article by Peter Skerry Do we really want immigrants to assimilate? http://www.brookings.edu/research/articles/2000/03/immigration-skerry (accessed 9 August 2014)

“More than just realism, Park affords us a sense of the tragic dimensions of immigration. William James, one of Park’s teachers, once wrote that “progress is a terrible thing” In that same spirit, Park likened migration to war in its potential for simultaneously fostering individual tragedy and societal progress.

As in war, the outcome of the immigration we are now experiencing is difficult to discern. And this is precisely what is most lacking in the continuing debate over immigration—a realistic appreciation of the powerful forces with which we are dealing.” [Emphasis added]

 

[3] It took England 900 years to become a unitary state with decades of brutal wars and occupation to achieve the peace, stability, and prosperity it has today. Israel by contrast has been trying to do the same in less than 70 years in a context that constrains their actions more than anything does, including Christianity, ever placed on the ruthless actions of the English monarchs.

[4] Although this essay acknowledges Fukuyama’s article and his argument from Hegel via Kojeve, his argument is flawed. To put it directly, Harry Jaffa was correct in his 1991 review of End of History, because Strauss is right and Kojeve is wrong as suggested by their debate regarding On Tyranny. To understand this point, consider the belief in modern natural science that haunts Kojeve and by extension Fukuyama’s argument. See (End of History and the Last Man (Avon Books p. 85 footnote 5.) When we work through the footnote to its originating thought, we arrive at Nietzsche-Heidegger understanding of technology and the choice between Strauss and Kojeve. See the recent essay by Mark Blitz Understanding Heidegger on Technology in The New Atlantis. http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/understanding-heidegger-on-technology (accessed 22 July 2014) In the essay Blitz reviews the recent publication of Heidegger’s other essays around his Question Concerning Technology.

[5] The choice is this blunt which is why the stakes are so high. This is not simply a struggle in which civilians are killed for a tactical or strategic military goal or even a political goal. The question is an existential one that cannot be avoided or finessed.

[6] Hamas showed a shrewd political sense when they offered in 2006 to renounce violence and recognize Israel as they courted the Palestinian vote. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/jan/12/israel?utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign= (Accessed 10 August) The problem for Hamas is what is their identity once they accept those liberal tendencies? Can they justify the sacrifices and martyrdom that has fuelled their support? Unlike Nixon who famously used his conservative anti-communism as a strategic device to justify the opening to China, Hamas cannot leverage the deaths of Palestinians in the same way. The question Hamas or any radical Palestinian Government has to answer and defend is “Did Palestinians have to die so you could recognise Israel?” In this regard, the Western propaganda actually works against Hamas because it raises the stakes to a point where they cannot negotiate because it undermines the Western protests and propaganda done on their behalf. Hamas might justify the sacrifice in a way that Kojeve would understand as Hamas would have to suggest something akin to Hegel’s idea “The wounds of the Spirit heal, and leave no scars behind” (Phenomenology of the Spirit p. 407 #(669) www.scribd.com/doc/30409033/hegel-Phenomenology-of-spirit (accessed 12 August 2014)

[7] Hamas has to make sure that the Palestinian people suffer from the violence so that they have a sunk cost in Hamas’s legitimacy. If Hamas fought and they suffered then their suffering would not have meaning. They would only be dying for Hamas not for Palestinian state. To the extent that Hamas’s goals are shown to bankrupt, that is Palestinians want to become even slightly less radical than Hamas, then their sacrifices has been for Hamas’ benefit and not theirs. In other words, in that moment, the interests of Hamas diverge from those of the Palestinian people. Hamas has an overriding interest in linking Palestinian identity to Hamas’ identity and thus the Palestinian people become hostage to Hamas.

[8] The PG is not going to be a liberal democratic state overnight. Instead, the best that can be expected is a state or entity with liberal democratic tendencies. We have to accept this provisional goal. The region lacks a liberal democratic Muslim state to act as a guide. The reason, of course, is that to be liberal democratic is to reduce the role of religion to a secondary institution, which is why the UK is not a liberal democratic state, even though it makes a strong claim to that title.

[9] The liberal democratic tendencies also explain why the issue in Gaza (and the ISIS existence) is not a clash of civilizations. Despite Samuel Huntington’s arguments, the Middle East is not on the cusp of a Caliphate to create an Islamic civilisation to challenge the West. http://www.svt.ntnu.no/iss/Indra.de.Soysa/POL2003H05/huntington_clash%20of%20civlizations.pdf

Islam has not been a coherent civilisation for about 400 years. Moreover, the advent of the nation state system, with the benefits and constraints it brings, has fostered the liberal democratic tendencies. Although Islamic states are riven by tribal and ethnic issues, these, in themselves, do not give rise to a civilizational crisis or conflict.

[10] No, this is not a subtle moral equivalence between the Palestinian Government (Hamas) and Israel. The point is that as Palestinians search for statehood and create an entity with liberal democratic tendencies, they share a similarity in that process Israel followed to create a state to protect its interests. The state it created had to have, at a minimum, liberal democratic tendencies. To be sure, Israel has more than liberal democratic tendencies as it has a robust and vibrant liberal democracy.

[11] Baruch Spinoza is still excommunicated.

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About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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23 Responses to Israel’s strategy in Gaza; creating liberal democratic tendencies.

  1. Tessa Wilson says:

    This is appalling twaddle built on an inaccurate premise from the start. To compare the conduct of Israel to almost any other country is insulting because no other country (apart from Germany & South Africa) has SO systematically abused its neighbour & at the same time, mislead and garnered false sympathy & support from rest of world. Apart from day-to-day brutality, occupying, blockading, indiscriminate bombing & killing, moving own population into occupied country etc etc all in contravention of international law and ignoring repeated UN resolutions, Israel has been involved in 15, yes 15, wars and major conflicts in the region since 1948!!! Do you really think this is a policy of ‘liberal democratic tendencies’ – Have I inadvertently slipped ‘through the looking glass’ … I think I must have – if I believe any of this!

    • Tessa,
      Thanks for the comment. I appreciate your view. I was wondering if you had read the History of the English Speaking People by Winston Churchill. He outlines the way that England developed and expanded its influence with its neighbours in particular Scotland and Wales.
      You will recall that Edward the 1st had to spend much time subduing the Scots. He had the nickname the Hammer of the Scots. You will also note that there a lot of castle built in Wales. They were built for a reason, to suppress the Welsh for centuries.
      Then you can consider the way that the United States had to interact with its neighbours, and itself, over its history. Both of these processes, expanded liberal democratic tendencies. However, this is not new or innovative on my part as it only explains a historical process that has been going on for sometime, but we only notice it when the time speeds up as it is Israel’s case.
      Thanks again for your comment.

      Best regards,

      Lawrence

  2. Tessa Wilson says:

    Lawrence, thank you for your gracious reply. I do know there are many things in English/British history both in the establishment of Great Britain and the British Empire, for which English/British people should be ashamed because they were brutal and unjustifiably cruel to the people oppressed in their determination to take land & possessions for the kingdom. That is why on two counts I find your blog so incomprehensibly unforgivable. First, we are talking about a time when sensibilities and respect for others was less developed than today. Secondly, Israel’s community, the Jews, know more than the rest of us what oppression and terror feels like because of the dreadful events of the Holocaust so it seems extraordinary that you are defining actions that inflict such pain and suppression on other human beings as ‘liberal democratic tendencies’. Britain’s history is not one of liberal democracy and neither, sadly, is Israel’s today. To try to pretend this, is mischievous in the extreme and totally misleading of what Israel is actually doing and an incorrect definition of Liberalism or democracy.
    In my view, you would be more profitably served to try and suggest ways that Israel could develop a rapprochement with the Palestinians to facilitate peace-making and forgiveness between the parties so you can both live in peace and security as neighbours to your mutual benefit and that of your future generations. The hatred between you is debilitating to both of you and distressing for the rest of us to witness.
    I wish you well.
    Tessa

    • Tessa,
      Thanks for the response. I appreciate you taking the time to write.
      I am surprised you believe that sensibilities have changed. If they have changed, then it is because liberal democratic tendencies have taken hold. In many ways, the Jews in history and in particular in Israel have been at the forefront of developing liberalism. One only need to note the reference to Spinoza. He echoed Hobbes (an Englishman) in developing the idea of liberalism. A central tenet being recoginizing each other’s right to exist and renouncing violence. These are two things Hamas has refused to do. Their charter shows that they will not recognize Israel’s right to exist because they seek to destroy it.

      If Britain’s history is not liberal democratic, I would be grateful if you would indicate which countries are liberal democratic. I would also note that 50 million people were killed in Europe to get Germany to accept that France had a right to exist free from fear of a German invasion and from Germany’s perspective that France and Britain would recognize her right to exist and not provoke her to war. Seen in that context, I am not sure the situation you perceive in Gaza is of the same scale. The goal is still the same.
      As to reconciliation, I did mention that in my blog. I had a specific reference to it. You may have missed it.

      I am not sure why you think I have hatred between me and someone else. If you could indicate who that is, I would be grateful as I have never expressed or advocated hatred for anyone.
      All the best,

      Lawrence

  3. Tessa Wilson says:

    Don’t be disingenuous, please, Lawrence! The hate I refer to is the hatred between Israel & Gaza but I’m sure you know that. I’m not as educated as you are so I cannot express myself as cleverly as you do. However, I find it morally repugnant to read the excuse for what Israel is doing in Palestine (and I mean BOTH parts of the Palestinian’s territory) is that it is a form of liberal democracy and copying what the British did to colonise the Empire. With that sort of thinking – human kind will always be stuck in a mire of destruction & denigration of its fellow man. If you want to use the ‘liberal’ tendency – follow the wise words of Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, when he addressed Israel a few days ago: “Liberate yourselves by liberating Palestine”. I think we will never agree so I will not respond again

    • Tessa Wilson says:

      I meant degradation not denigration – Sorry!

    • Tessa,
      Thanks for the comments and clarifying the issue of hatred. I am not sure my post excuses anything as I am trying to explain, as I see it, the historical process at work in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. While I agree that we must seek to nurture our better natures, I cannot agree that we can escape the conflict that exists within human nature. What I was trying to argue, perhaps unsuccessfully, is that liberalism, despite its flaws and flawed history, appears to be the only path for both sides to reach peace.
      For Israel to liberal Palestine, it has to be sure that Palestine is no longer a threat. How can anyone expect a state to accept an armed camp in its midst? The Emeritus Archbishop has suggested a wonderful and admirable goal. I am sure the Israelis would like to see it as well. The question they, and I, would pose is “Show us how we can achieve peace with an organisation that seeks our destruction?” If it is simply for Israel to lay down its arms, then this would mean its destruction. Hamas has never said it wants peace with Israel, unlike Jordan and Egypt. Instead, it seeks its destruction. Thus, the Emeritus Archbishop, and others, would deny to the Israelis what they would not deny to themselves and they do not deny to Hamas, the right of self-preservation.
      As I tried to argue, the liberal democratic process offers the most successful path to a lasting peace known to man, the problem is that Hamas is not ready to become liberal democratic or even take on liberal democratic tendencies. Perhaps that is the best way to “disarm” Israel, to become pacific and seek to build hospitals and schools, rather than tunnels and rockets.

  4. Tessa Wilson says:

    Sorry – forgot about the first bit so I am writing again. Neither side in the ghastly conflict has recognised the other. Hamas had the courage to say it at the beginning – Israel has not said it but done it. Only difference is, since Hamas formed a unity government with Fatah earlier this year and accepted your right to exist de facto, Israel has decided to launch this latest onslaught! Do you think we are all too silly/stupid not to notice this connection of facts? If you do, you are not as clever as I thought you were. Maybe you would like to read this to help you clear your thinking and understanding of others: dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/08/20/palestinians-live-what-israelis-fear/ … Be happy if you can, God bless x

    • Tessa,
      Thank you for the follow up comment. I am not sure why Israel would recognize a state that does not recognize its existence and to the extent it does recognize it, it does so to destroy it. Hamas and Fatah have shown a disregard for the fate and future of the Palestinian people. The struggle to destroy Israel does not help them. A government that is beholden to its people seeks to nurture their common good. They would build hospitals and schools rather than tunnels and rockets. Yet, Hamas has not chosen that path. They have only used truces to rearm. They have used the cement to build tunnels. They have used the youth to fight their battles. Yet the Palestinian people deserve better. How can they get better when anyone who opposes Hamas and their brutal sacrifice of Palestinians for a nihilistic goal is summarily executed? I have not seen Israel or another liberal democrat state summarily execute political protesters.

  5. Tessa Wilson says:

    Lawrence – all the points you make in your last reply can be said sadly, of Israel too. All the things you list they do wrong, Israel does too. The bottom line, they are occupying and blockading (illegally in International law) both Gaza & West Bank. They have settled your nationals on occupied territory (again this is breaking international law). Somehow Israel has a childish immature attitude that they can justify this by telling the rest of us they can do it when they fight back. I am reminded of the school playground – Israel is a bully! Hamas is reacting to the wrongs that have been done to the Palestinian people since the formation of Israel. In hindsight, the British were irresponsible in letting Israel misbehave from the first moment of its birth and the British should have taken more care of the displaced Palestinians so that this well-meant creation of two states got off to a better start. It is no good whatever to continually say they won’t move forward because they think Hamas/Fatah/Palestinians want to destroy Israel because it isn’t true anymore. You must not fall into the practice of only taking notice of things you want to see but ignoring those that don’t excuse their actions – playground behaviour. In addition, Netanyahu, Ben-Gurion & any number of Zionists have always said they do not intend to stop what Israel is doing until you have gained all the land in the region. There are countless quotes to this to be found on the internet and I think you know that, don’t you? But again, you fail to mention it in your arguments! They are acting immorally and their intentions are immoral too. Unless they can overcome themselves, they will NEVER NEVER have peace and security. Their country is now built on injustice, all of them know it, so they will be eternally insecure because they will fear that retribution is around the corner. I can think of many countries who have executed political protesters – & quite recently – they usually call the protestors ‘traitors’ first, so they can justify it! Any of them come to mind now? It doesn’t make it right though as you say – but you must not make false claims against the Palestinians – immature & does not help.
    Look to your own errors, Israel, before you look to your enemy’s! Take South Africa as an example of what can be achieved with goodwill. Work on it because it will benefit Israel at least as much as it will The Palestine State. Israel must simply accept the world will not let them have the whole region – it is grossly unjust to even plan it. Israel must also accept a good deal of responsibility for the unrest in the Middle East – it would be another improvement for all of you (not to say the rest of us!) if you could only demonstrate the big heart you have. I went to Downing Street yesterday. There was a brave group of Hasidic Jews protesting against Israel’s actions in Gaza there. Israel is destroying itself/its people from within – you don’t need Hamas or Fatah to do that – they are self-destructing their own reputation. Have you stopped to think about the way the world now looks at Israel since this latest outrage started just over a month ago? Please don’t say it is anti-semitic … it isn’t! I would be making this protest to any country that was committing genocide regardless of the race or religion doing the act. Before we are a race, a religion, a country – we are ALL human beings. It is so difficult to watch one group inflicting such horrors on another – especially their children. Israel has suggested Hamas has let this happen because they don’t care about their children. That makes them sound as if they have ceased to be human to be able to say something like that & shame should be felt.
    I shall continue to pray for you all and hope some miracle will happen to open your eyes, minds and hearts. God bless x

    • Tessa,
      Thanks for the very long comment. I edited it slightly as you confused me with Israel. I am not sure why. I mentioned this previously and you said it was an oversight so I have edited it to reflect your oversight.
      On the substantive points, I do not see that we are making progress. Please show me where Hamas has renounced its charter. So far, you have referred to actions and statements that would appear, if read or heard in the right context, (like joining Fatah who have recognized Israel’s right to exist) as if that innocence by association works, but I have not seen anywhere that Hamas has publicly stated Israel’s right to exist and publicly renouced its charter or revised the charter to edit out the destruction of Israel.
      The reason why they cannot do that is that their desire to destroy Israel is central to their identity. Perhaps you can explain why Fatah was edged out by Hamas in the election. Do you think that Fatah’s recognition of Israel had any part to play in that response?
      I am intrigued that you believe Andrew Sullivan’s piece. He writes well but he does not think as well as he writes because he writes for a political purpose not to understand in pursuit of the truth. He is at best a sophist as he is not a philosopher. In any case, a separate response is needed for Mr. Sullivan. The upshot is that he starts with an unstated premise (Palestinian territories are the equivalent of the state of Israel) that guides his whole argument. He never explores that unstated premises and his argument is built on rhetorical posturing, he does have to drive traffic to his site, rather than a search for the truth.
      As to the displaced Palestinians, their plight is sad as no other Muslim state will take them in because they do not want a minority within their own unstable domestic tribal framework. The PLO were expelled from Jordan for a reason. The Palestinians were cheering Saddam’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait for a reason. The Palestinians are mistreated by their muslim brothers and they are used as a hammer against the Israelis. Then Hamas, their erstwhile ruling group, uses them as well instead of protecting them from such predation at the hands of their Muslim brothers. Yes, the Palestinians have had a bad time of it. However, they can find a peace with Israel and that is nearly within their reach.
      As to the fate of Israel and the Palestinians, the Israelis should be so lucky. The Israelis have taken steps to protect their people and to protect the average Palestinians. Despite the intensive fights, the attacks have killed relatively less people than if they were acting like the Russians did in Grozny. I doubt, and the Israelis know, that if the tables were reversed there would be any restraint by their opponents. However, that returns us to the central point you have not addressed, Hamas has never renounced the destruction of Israel. No where that I have seen, but perhaps you can send a link if you know it to be true, has Israel publicly called for the destruction of Hamas.
      Israel is well aware of the effect that the war and the relationship has with the Palestinians. However, neither you nor the Emeritus Archbishop have shown a new path. All you have suggested is that Israel lay down its arms. This is the path to the peace, the peace of the graveyard. By contrast, Israel moderates its attacks so that it can encourage Hamas or whomever is leading the Palestinians, to find peace. As I explained, Hamas needs to come to this realization, which is a central point in my post, and until they do, then they will not have peace. In time, Israel can find a technological solution to the problem. In time, Hamas will have to answer to the Palestinian people. How many more Palestinians must Hamas kill before they realize that they can have peace if they recognize Israel and renounce violence. Others have done it, but not Hamas. Perhaps once the extremist generation is dead, then a new generation may wish to find peace. The cycle of violence will continue so long as that occurs.
      If Hamas stops building tunnels and builds schools and hospitals, then I believe they want peace. To build tunnels and rockets is a sure sign they do not want peace. After all Gandhi showed the way to peace by peaceful protest. Perhaps Hamas could learn from Gandhi, then again Gandhi never had the stated goal of destroying the British state.

  6. Tessa Wilson says:

    By the way, did you read the piece I suggested in The Dish? You have not commented on it – I wonder why? 😉 x

    • Tessa,
      Aside from the unstated premises, that the Palestinian people are the moral, political and legal equivalent of the Israeli State, the article is flawed on a number of grounds. First, Israel has not denied the Palestinian state. It has simply asked for any putative Palestinian state to do what *any and all* states, as states, must do. The Palesitinians, if they are to become a state, must renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist. Unless and until that happens, they cannot become a state. Please explain why Israel should accept a state that wants to destroy them.
      Second, Mr. Sullivan seems to forget that Israel has been in a worse position. They faced the Nazis in WW2 and they know what it means to have no mercy shown to them. By contrast, the Palestinian have seen their population grow not decrease. Yes, there is a constant struggle each day and people are dying.However, that is not a one sided affair as it was in Europe where no one, let me repeat that, no one spoke up or defended the Jews. There was no UN, there was no state seeking to limit casaulties, there was no international media. Instead, it was a program to exterminate the Jews.
      By contrast, Israel has negotiated with the Palestinians when the conditions have allowed for it. The Palestinians have been respected at the negotiations for those that are willing to undertake liberal democratic tendencies.
      The issue here is that you have homelands within states and that has never been an easy relationship. I would commend the Israelis for, despite the obvious difficulties, trying to find someway (beyond extermination) to resolve it. The United States never found a satisfactory way to resolve it until it had defeated the Indians tribes in a long drawn out brutal war. Other states as well have subjugated those minorities that have sought to carve out a homeland within their state. One need only consider Ireland, the Basques, and other separatists groups. The picture is less clear cut than Mr. Sullivan would like it to be or imagines it to be.
      To the extent that Israel is safe it is because it has embraced the liberal democratic tendencies that see it accepting non-violent minorities, Christians and Arabs within its midst. It has prosperity as a direct result of its search for peace. Hamas is not building schools or universities. It is building tunnels and rockets. The difference is clear. Mr. Sullivan seeks a false equivalence to make his argument. The two are not the same and to make that equivalence is to undertake a political position that forgets Hamas. At its root, the Israelis do not fear or want to destroy Palestinians as Palestinians. However, Hamas, which represents them, does seek to destroy Israel. As I explained in my post, the Palestinians will have peace, when they choose peace and elect a government that cares for them more than it cares about killing Israel or avenging the past.

      Mr. Sullivan has written an interesting piece about the Palestinians where he only mentions Hamas, a vicious group that summarily executes its own citizens without trial or an investigation, to equate it with the Israeli government that is democratically elected, restrained, and lives under the rule of law. I think that says it all.

      Best,

      Lawrence

  7. Tessa Wilson says:

    You give yourself away Lawrence. Palestine & Israel were supposed to be equivalent states in 1948. The fact you say they are not equal reveals you do not recognise a state of Palestine. You do not speak honestly so no point talking to you. You seek to mislead both yourself and anyone who takes the time to listen to you. No point to continue. Ultimately, Israel will probably pay a dreadful price but if that is what Israel wants because it MUST fight its neighbours – then that is its choice. I shall be very sad when that happens

    • Tessa,
      Thanks for the response. I see that you have not decided to provide any evidence. I asked “What is the evidence that Israel wants to destroy Hamas or the Palestinians” Your response. No response. No evidence.
      I asked you to provide me with a liberal democracy that has *not* undertaken the same historical role that Israel has. Your response. No response. No evidence.

      I pointed out that de facto situation that the Palestinian people do not have a state. You came back with “They were supposed to have one.” I now see why the Palestinians have such difficulty with their enemies because their friends are even worse. If wishes were horse, beggars would ride. However, this comment reveals exactly why the Palestinians cannot move forward. They are still fighting over Cain vs. Abel with the vain hope that once that is decided all the intervening decisions and changes will be unpicked. Instead of dealing with the reality on the ground, their friends are arguing over what might have been, what should have been, and what could have been.
      As I pointed out in my blog, Hamas, as the de facto government of the Palestinian people, has made a choice for them to fight the past rather than create a future for the Palestinians.
      Israel is reducing the price it pays with each day and with each year. In time even the Palestinians will embrace modernity and give up the past. As I quoted Hegel, the scars of the spirit heal. What that means is that the Palestinians will realize that fighting over the past, over Cain v. Abel will never give them the future they want, and that moment will see them liberated from their past. In the same way that South Africa liberated itself by its truth and reconciliation program so that it could live a better future. Until the Palestinians find a way to reconcile themselves to their past, so that they can create a better future, they will continue to be more interested in martyring their children than in educating them to find a new future.
      The Palestinians deserve better friends and they deserve a better leadership. They have a chance to change their leadership and will they choose one that gives them hope rather than hate and will educate the youth rather than martyr them? The choice is theirs. Will you help them make the right choice, or will you too help them fight the past and hold onto the hate, to the hurt, and to the history?
      I pray for the Palestinians that they may know God’s love and understand what forgiveness means and that they find better friends that those who want to use them has weapons against Israel so that they can sooth their own souls of their own injustice.

  8. Tessa Wilson says:

    They don’t have one, Lawrence because Israel has taken it. The evidence you want to destroy Hamas & the Palestinians is the murder you are currently and have for years inflicted on the people of that region; the economic blockade you have placed, controlling the food, water and power to Gaza; the shocking occupation of the West Bank; the installation of settlers in that area who not only steal but attack the Palestinians to intimidate them from their farms etc – do I need to go on? The Zionist founding fathers and almost all leaders of Israel since, have put on open record their desire to take all of the Holy Land and drive the Palestinians from that land. Also, you have no right to decide who their leaders will be – as you say it is their choice not yours and Israel must accept their choice even if it does not like it. Then you insult me by saying I am worse as a friend than you are as an enemy. You disgust me! You are a wicked man, full of hate, trickery & dishonesty. You should start praying for forgiveness for yourself and your country. God sees all that you do – remember it. I can’t argue philosophically with you because I have not had an education as you have. It is all the worse that you use your intellectual capacity to try to persuade/convince others that your country’s wrong-doing is justified. There are good Jews, good Israelis – but you are not one of them! There is One you cannot fool – be wise & know it.

    • Tessa,
      Thank you for the comment. I have edited your comment because you have made the same mistake that I mentioned previously. I am not an Israeli and I do not work for the Israeli government. I am not sure why you feel the need to personalize this discussion. The main point still remains unresolved. Hamas wants to destroy Israel. There has been no change in that position. Moreover, Hamas has chosen to build tunnels and rockets rather than schools and hospitals. As I explained in my post, the issue is whether Hamas is willing to show liberal democratic tendencies and build schools and hospitals rather than tunnels and rockets. In your opinion, which better serves the Palestinians Rockets and Tunnels or Schools and Hospitals?

      Best,
      Lawrence

  9. Tessa Wilson says:

    And I think you and the rest of the Zionist movement should think about reconciling your past every bit as much as the Palestinians because that is the root of the problem really, isn’t it? Have a read of this http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/palestinians.php

    • Tessa,
      Thanks for the comment.
      I will check out the article as you suggest. In the meantime, please stop ascribing views or positions to me that I do not hold.

      Thanks

      Lawrence

  10. Tessa Wilson says:

    Oh! & watch this too, Lawrence – written by one of your own, one of the really GOOD Jews (a credit to his race & religion). He tells it ABSOLUTELY as it is-without any of the spin you indulge in …. and guess what, he does NOT agree with a word you say! http://www.democracynow.org/2014/9/1/a_slaughter_of_innocents_henry_siegman
    The time is coming/has come for Israel to rethink everything it has done and stands for or its very existence will be in peril and you know completely, it in only due to the misguided actions of all the leaders you have had since Israel came into existence because Israel has been living a lie in its intent. So think and act truthfully at last. I shall pray Israel comes to its senses and its supporters urge it to do the same – I include you in that. Goodbye & may God bless you to be good

    • Tessa,
      Thanks for the link. I will have a look. I have edited this post as well as it ascribes a position to me that is not correct. I am not jewish nor am I an Israeli. I am certain that people will disagree about anything and everything. The challenge is to find a common ground between them to understand what justice requires and work towards that shared justice.

      Best,

      lawrence

  11. Tessa Wilson says:

    I thought you were an Israeli & a Jew because you are such an apologist for them and you seem to have no understanding at all, of what it must be like for a Palestinian. That is why I question your goodwill but i apologise for being mistaken about your nationality and ethnicity. I ask you, Lawrence, if you can do it – put yourself in the position of a Palestinian, Gazan or from West Bank, and ask yourself: if I was given such a life to live and a neighbour whose sole purpose was to take everything I have, occupy, blockade, control everything that comes into and out of my country; people, water, fuel, food, fish revenues from tax etc etc (I’m sure I’ve left lots of things out),settles its own people on my land and these settlers in turn, harass and attack me while the occupier watches and does not stop the attacks, & so provokes me to respond even unlawfully & then uses that to justify what it has already done and does more of same, to know that this will continue ad infinitum because that neighbour has unlimited resource to every weaponry known to man, enormous financial backing from a superpower who ignores whatever injustice is committed by that neighbour and a propaganda machine second-to-none, what course of action would you really take?? I don’t think you would be sitting down talking about share injustice – or just lying down and accepting all of this. I think you and I, would do exactly what the Palestinians do – resist with the pathetic weaponry we can muster. Your dishonesty is intriguing and makes all your arguments seem fatuous and unreal. If you are not supporting Israel – what is the purpose of what you are doing … is it just ‘stirring the pot’. I hate injustice and whichever way I come at this situation I can only see dreadful injustice and to ask the victim for magnanimity is childish nonsense. If you want to create a dialogue which will have an effect – why not have a conversation with Mr Netanyahu about exactly what his intent is and how he sees Israel will be able to live in peace with Palestine/Hamas or any other country in the Middle East if he succeeds with his wishes. No, he and the rest of Israel will have to live with the knowledge that they have acted illegally, criminally and created deep-seated resentment throughout the entire region and beyond & their day of reckoning will come some day – be it sooner or later. To pretend otherwise is just stupid & unrealistic – particularly bearing in mind the way the whole region is moving now … in no small measure, I think, caused by years of frustration, anger and resentment at Israel and its supporters (US & UK principally) for what they have done.

    • Tessa,
      Thank you for the comment. I now appreciate more fully than before why the Palestinians have such difficulties. As you have indicated, one can only support the Palestinians if one is willing to condemn the Israeli’s unconditionally, emphatically, and openly. Only then, can one be considered to support the Palestinians.

      You continue to ascribe to me views that I have never held. I do not know why you assume that I support Israeli and oppose Israel or why a support for Israel must automatically be an opposition to Palestinians. This is what is so strange about your argument, you make it so apparent that you are as instransigent, if not more so than the Israelis, in your denunciation of anyone who fails to condemn the Israelis and Israel and who fails to support the Palestinians. You continue to demonstrate, what I referred to in my post as the Schmittian position, an either or view of the world that leads to extremism. Taken to its logical conclusion, your argument is such that only by destroying Israel can the Palestinians live in peace with the Israelis.
      I am not sure how your position helps the Palestinians nor how you can ascribe my article to being opposed to the Palestinians. You assume that I have no interest in the plight of the Palestinians, their history, or their future. Yet, if you read my article, I do set out a possible future, I do explain what Israel must do to have peace and what is needed for a future together. You have chosen to overlook these points simply to attempt to force me to fit your dichotomy that makes insensitive to Palestinians unless I condemn Israel.
      I have no intention to “stir it up” as if the situation needs more of that or that anyone, let alone me, could stir it up more than it has been “stirred up”. Yet, you insist on using that argument to help explain to yourself why you will not read the article I wrote and what it requires for both parties.
      I am not sure what else there is left to be said. You have reached the point where you insist before one can discuss an issue that the conclusion must be the premise, that Palestinians will only be free if Israel is destroyed, and that leaves no room for debate or discussion. With such a view, your approach is less helpful to the Palestinians (and the Israelis) in reaching a peaceful settlement than my approach.
      Thank your for the interesting discussion. I have learned a lot. I see no further point in discussing the issue with you because we have reached this impasse.
      Yours sincerely,
      Lawrence

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