The region: Jewish, Israeli, liberal and cynical in 2012 (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By BARRY RUBIN 04/02/12)
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While you probably know what I’m about to write, it is useful to
reinforce and pull together the pieces of reality we face.
It is 2012, a year which seems to be going by very fast and is
already one-fourth finished. People are walking around with smart
phones and all sorts of electronic devices that were undreamed-of not
long ago. There has been what is called an “Arab Spring” with
fantasies about instant democracy. An African-American was elected
president of the United States though his party’s nomination, and
thus probably the White House, almost went to a woman.
Times have changed.
Yet the hysterical hatred for Israel in the Arabic-speaking world and
among Muslims in general has only increased; the philosophy of
rejectionism is – almost? – as strong as ever. Indeed, it is no
longer safe, and certainly isn’t comfortable, for Jews in much of
Europe and even, for those who support Israel, on American college
In previously moderate Tunisia, now under Muslim Brotherhood rule,
thousands of Salafists paraded, chanting to kill the Jews in order to
enter paradise. The new Tunisian constitution contains a provision
that the country can never recognize Israel.
Almost a half-century ago, Tunisia’s leader was the first Arab
politician to call for recognizing Israel. We’re still waiting.
In Morocco, perhaps the overall most moderate country in the Arabic-
speaking world, a meeting of the Mediterranean Parliamentary Union
was held. Israel, which has a parliamentary system and is on the
Mediterranean (I can almost see it from my window), is a member of
this group. Consequently one Israeli attended the meeting. The result
was a riot in which thousands of Moroccans assaulted the building and
the leader of the ruling Islamist party complained.
I won’t bother citing a thousand other examples. But with the triumph
of revolutionary Islamists and the throwing down the memory hole of
decades of disastrous Arab anti- Israel policies, the Arabic-speaking
world is becoming more radical on this issue. It is now joined by
Turkey and Iran.
They hate us; they despise us; they want to kill us.
In this situation there is a strong temptation for Westerners to say
that if only Israel didn’t exist (radical version) or made huge
concessions (liberal version) then all of the problems in the Middle
East would go away and all the region’s conflicts with the West would
There is a strong temptation for Western Jews to say that if only
Israel made more concessions on territory there would be peace; hate
would turn into love, or at least benign indifference, and all the
problems of the Jews would go away. There is also a total temptation
for Western leftists – including a disproportionate number of Jews –
that if only Israel disappeared or made huge concessions, socialist
utopia would come speedily in our time.
In fact, for the first time in history we are seeing a concerted and
wellfunded campaign to destroy the base of support for Israel among
American Jews. It is rather ironic that this is happening in 2012.
After all, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula, southern
Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.
Since 1993, Israel has not established a single new settlement nor
expanded the geographic size of existing settlements. Israeli
governments have offered to accept a Palestinian state in all of the
Gaza Strip, almost all of the West Bank, and in part of east
And so on.
Now we are told by the highly publicized and very smug that if only
there is an economic boycott of settlements, Israel will be saved. We
are not told that if only there is a willingness among Arabs and
Muslims to make peace, plus the total defeat of the revolutionary
Islamists, peace is far more likely to be achieved.
That real solution has two differences from the first one: • There is
literally nothing we can do, no concession or risk, which will bring
about that outcome.
• Thus, we do not have the power to resolve this conflict. We can
stand up, sit down, walk by the way, or return to the 1967 borders,
and it won’t matter.
About 25 years ago, I was convulsed with laughter at a Palestine
National Council meeting in Algeria while watching a young American
Jewish Peace Now kid try to explain to a group of Fatah guys that
they really did just want a state of their own to live alongside
Israel within the 1967 boundaries. They kept explaining to him that
this wasn’t the way they thought at all. They wanted “all of
Palestine from the river to the sea.”
This well-meaning boob knew better than the Palestinians as to what
their actual political stance was.
It is not comforting to acknowledge that there simply isn’t going to
be any formal peace agreement or end to the conflict. I won’t
say “never” but I’m pretty sure for the next 30 to 50 years, and
somewhat less certain for the rest of this century.
But, of course, in time anti-Semitism in Europe went away – oops! It
didn’t, but you know what I mean.
Does saying these things make me “right wing”? Not at all. It is also
the consensus position of the great majority of left-of-center
Israelis and it should be the position of liberal Jews. The whole
point is that this is not a matter of our will or preference or
program but something that is being forced upon us.
Sure, I want a two-state solution, but not as a launching pad for the
next round of would-be genocide. I want the ideal solution of peace
and a good neighborhood, but I don’t expect that is going to happen.
Not my fault, not our fault.
Let’s face reality, stop blaming ourselves and get on with our lives.
Let us improve our society, economy and culture. Of course, let’s
also defend ourselves. Let us try to preserve as much as possible of
the rapidly disappearing Jewish people. And if you want to boycott
someone, why not start with those who insist on remaining our enemies
and who would like to murder us.
Makes sense to me. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/02/12)
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