Saturday, August 25, 2007


Tom Segev on ForeignExchange. Segev is one of the better "New" historians of Israel. He gives the shadow side to the Six Day War in 1967. The foil to Segev (the "bright" side) is Michael Oren. Other "New" Israeli historians are too mean green meme and only blame Israel for everything (e.g. Norman Finkelstein).

Segev is not in this camp. He is right that Palestinian suicide bombing never has helped the Palestinians. I like his formulation: Pal. suicide attacks can not threaten the state of Israel but what they do threaten is the ability of Israel to respond rationally.

What really centers on the 67 War, 40 yrs later, is whether Israel should have taken over the West Bank, East Jerusalem. It's hard to decide because each has a point. Oren is right that it did create some better security positions. For Segev, the occupation undercuts the rationale for a Jewish state (by colonizing 3 million non-Jews who are not given rights, voice, opportunity, etc.). I think that is right as well.

Same with security fence. In the short term it does reduce violence (point Oren). In the medium-long term it leaves Israel further and further weakened, isolated, and the Occupation (and it is an Occupation) it is a cancer on the moral soul of Israel.

Segev interestingly though is moving to a third position. He used to a liberal. That is he fit into the basic scheme of "Land for Peace" (Rabin, Barak). I think Land for Peace could still work in certain ways with Syria.

The conservative-Likud position (Netanyahu) is Security Fences, further settlements (illegal) in the occupation, constant warfare, and blame Palestinians for everything.

Segev points out that neither has worked. Sharon's unilateral disengagement failed which was an attempt at any other position. He says the conflict at this point can only be managed. And he is right that it could be managed more rationally than it is right now.

With Segev all have failed and there is no real chance for now. [One positive that is currently somewhat possible: Saudi Arabia recognizing Israel and the West Bank economic development.] But long term that can not work either. Hamas has to be part of the deal at some point.

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