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Monday, October 22, 20071193092321

Viewing victory as defeat

I like A.E. a lot, but I am often puzzled by his analysis. His "Sideshow in the Desert" continues this trend. Take this paragraph, for instance:

Finally, Israel faces a grave threat from within – a threat worsened by its own counter-productive actions. The Israeli-American strategy of marginalizing Hamas and backing the unpopular and corrupt Fatah has led to open Palestinian civil war and humanitarian disaster in Gaza, which has now been cut off from electricity and fuel and declared a “hostile entity” by the Israeli government. Israel has also carried out a strategy of targeted assassinations and limited military incursions within Gaza in the hopes of undermining Hamas and deterring its frequent rocket attacks.


Isreal is a small country surrounded by hostile regimes. The only way such a state can continue to exist is if her neighbors distrust her neighbors more than they distrust her. (The United Arab Republic was so dangerous because it suggested that the Arabs would put aside their mutual animosity to finally destroy Israel.) The break-up of the Palestinian Authority into Fatah and Hamas controlled territory is a wonderful improvement for Israel, because it creates a revolutionary state whose main objective is the overthrow of her other neighbors.

Yet A.E. considers such progress "counter-productive."

Strange.

17:32 Posted in Israel | Permalink | Comments (28)

Comments

For another view -- a pretty bleak view -- of Israel's strategic situation see "The Fate of Israel".

http://www.defense-and-society.org/fcs/fabius_fate_of_israel.htm

Posted by: Fabius Maximus | Monday, October 22, 2007

If the Palestinian territories get even worse, wouldn't there be some form of blowback internally in Israel among the more malleable elements of non-Jewish society? Israel should be worried about its internal security and cohesion, as well as the more economic matter of promoting tourism and cultural exchange sites (i.e. Christian holy sites in Israel), not rendering even more territory within its intimate neighborhood less governable.

It seems you're viewing the events within Gaza and elsewhere as unrelated to Israeli policy, when in fact, most of the problems today are directly related to choices Israel made in the 60's, 70's & 80's that have helped bring about this apocalyptic scenario in the territories. That's not to say that the Palestinians and the Arabs don't deserve the lion's share of blame, but if you don't understand and apply Israel's mistakes into the equation, you get the skewed outlook you're appearing to present here.

Essentially, in the aftermath of the second infitada and the IDF's non-victory in Lebanon, you have an Israel that cannot have peace or stability with its neighbors until they feel some peace and stability courtesy of Israel. And most importantly, the worse the situation gets, the worst the blowback will be within Israel. Given their polarized politics and their messy internal situation with their minorities, this is a less than sustainable state of affairs.

Posted by: Eddie | Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Israel could have some form of security by having constant warfare on its borders, as long as its neighbors are fighting each other, its true. It could have much better security if there wasn't any warfare on its borders at all. I suppose the split between Hamas and Fatah means that the Palestinian Territories will not be able to unite their fearsome military potential against Israel. However it also means that there will be constant warfare on Israel's borders, and therefore there'll always be the potential for spillover involving Israel. A better Israeli security policy would try to create a single Palestinian actor that Israel can cut a deal with and that will be able to crush its rivals that try to renege on that deal.

Posted by: Adrian | Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dumb question time. Wouldn't it be better in the long run to make peace with your neighbors instead of turning them against each other? Remember, if Israel fails to keep her enemies divided, they'll be that much more angry for having been kept divided to begin with.

Remember, too, that the Gaza strip isn't in a good place geographically for threatening the rest of the Muslim world. It isn't even in a good place for threatening the West Bank. Isolating Hamas there may be good for limiting their threat until you can do something about it, but the rest of the ME is still a problem needing dealt with.

Better approach to the Palestinians:
1. Let any from the West Bank or Gaza immigrate to Israel start the citizenship process-- so long as they don't have an arrest record with the police (Israeli or Palestinian) and are willing to submit to a search of themselves and their belongings. Strongly encourage other nations to do likewise.
2. Agree to an end to new settlements in the West Bank, on the condition that Jewish settlers are given the same treatment by the Authority that Israeli Arabs (and newly arrived Palestinians) are given by the Israeli government. Settle for their being treated like fellow Palestinians if necessary.
3. Allow free travel between Gaza and the West Bank on the condition that all travelers are searched for weapons before passing through Israeli territory.
4. If you can't cut Gaza off from weapons, make very sure they understand the consequences of attacks on Israel OR Palestinian civilians. Be prepared for the possibility that you may have to follow through, but make sure you're really retaliating for something they did.

Posted by: Michael | Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Michael:
Not to be overly harsh, but there are some problems with your recommendations. Your first would lead demographically to the end of Israel as a Jewish state, which is its reason for existence in the first place. Your second might lead to Jewish de facto hostages in the West Bank. The third is impractical yet to my knowledge is still being attempted anyway by Israel today. The fourth is also being pursued and has led to a cycle of violence and retribution.

It's true that Gaza isn't worth anything militarily, especially with good relations between Israel and Egypt. However it still could function as practice or as an example for Israeli engagement.

Posted by: Adrian | Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fabius,

I addressed your point about a darwinian ratchet today. [1]

Eddie,

I addressed the foolishness of a small state attempting risking its security on system-level changes in its larger neighbors before [2].

Adrian,

I assume you believe that Israel did not try hard enough and did not accept enough fatalities from the Oslo process, which tried to achieve just your goal.

Michael,

Adrian is correct -- your policy prescriptions are identical to capitulation.


[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2007/10/24/in-search-of-a-darwinian-ratchet-the-anc-the-plo-and-the-raf.html
[2] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/08/03/israel-is-a-new-core-state-fighting-in-the-gap.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The underlying assumptions to my suggestions.

* The annihilation of one or both peoples is an unacceptable solution. Ditto the total enslavement of one people by the other, and the banishment of one people by the other. The banishment of both peoples from that land by the international community would be more preferable to those options.

* Continued brinkmanship between yourself and your neighbors isn't a viable long-term strategy; sooner or later, the odds and the neighbors will catch up to you.

* A two-state solution, with one Jewish and one Palestinian state, is unworkable in the long run. It ignores the deep emotional connections both groups have with the terroritory which transcend any borders they could draw and invites continued unrest. It also begs the question of just what a "Jewish" or "Palestinian" state actually is; when they haven't been fighting each other, both groups have been embroiled in internal, sometimes bloody, conflicts over that very question. With no natural boundaries between the Israeli and Palestinian areas, any borders drawn would be dependent entirely on the force and goodwill of both groups to maintain; any change in those factors, or in the carrying capacity of one or both lands will lead to demands for their redrawing.

* A two-state solution CAN be beneficial in the short term, by giving both parties some breathing space and giving the Palestinians a chance to grow up a bit and get accustomed to running their own affairs. As these things take place, the Israeli and Palestinian authorities can learning how to cooperate with each other on more and more matters of mutual concern.

* Regardless of how it happens, a two-state solution will hurt if it isn't done right (probably will still hurt even if it is). Many Palestinians worked in Israel and are now unemployed; what jobs will be available for them in their new state? How are their former employers doing without those workers? How many Palestinians will be kicked out of their homes, out of their lives because that land became Israeli? Ditto Israelis in the settlements?

* To expand on the above assumption, kicking an Israeli out of the settlement he was born in is as tragic as kicking a Palestinian out of the village HE was born in. Assuming otherwise only makes problems worse.

* Giving one group authority over a patch of territory doesn't HAVE to involve kicking the other group out of it.

* One reason the Palestinians are in such bad shape is because the only people cutting them breaks over the past few decades are the terrorists and their sponsors. Israel doesn't want them, their Arab neighbors don't want them, the West isn't exactly itching to accept them as citizens either. Until someone changes their minds and gives them at least a chance to belong, they're going to be a threat to the peace.

* A Palestinian state would only provide such a place for a portion of their diaspora; it's too small to take them all.

* "a chance to belong" can take many forms, as the US's history illustrates. If set up properly (high enough standards to seriously address your concerns about taking them in, but still reasonably achievable), they can provide an incentive for Palestinian youths to resist the more violent temptations in front of them.

* The nation that gives this chance will be showing real leadership in the Middle East.

* The more countries that offer chances to belong to the Palestinian diaspora, the fewer will need or want to return to Palestine.

* The Jewish settlers have been accused of crimes against their Palestinian neighbors that would get most people- of any race or religion- terminated without remorse in most parts of the world. IF these accusations have any merit, the settlements will have to relearn the fine art of keeping their fanatics and nutcases under control-- or send them back to Israel.

* Tying the treatment of your relatives in their country to the treatment of their relatives in your country gives both parties an incentive to take good care of their minorities. It also starts discussion between the two parties of what "good care" actually means.

* My suspicion is, a nuclear strike on Israel would kill a lot of Palestinians even now. Mixing the two peoples would only make it harder still, and give the Palestinians and others more good reasons to look askance of countries that threaten such strikes. What, after all, is the point of getting angry over the Palestinian plight if you let a third party wipe them out along with the Israelis?

* You're probably right, Adrian, about the last two ideas being already tried. Practicality will become easier if Palestinian workers are actually allowed to LIVE in Israel and if housing is build for Universities and other places that draw from both Palestinian areas so that they don't have to cross every day.

* I read someplace that a British foreign policy guru once stated three rules for interfering with other people's civil wars. 1: Don't 2: If you choose to ignore rule 1, pick a side. 3: Make sure that side wins. Following Rule 1 isn't a luxury Israel has when it comes to Fatah vs Hamas.

* The American tradition of shrugging off "your SOB"'s actions isn't an option, either. They're too close to the action and too vulnerable to criticism from outsiders; they NEED to make sure the side they back minds their manners. They NEED to make sure they know what they're actually doing when they give their side assistance.

* An eventual one-state solution would have a powerful national narrative; the peoples (Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Baha'i) who see that land as the home of their peoples and of their hearts. The Holy Land, the Sacred Land, the Home Land. Doesn't get more olive tree than that.

* If experience elsewhere is to be believed, the Palestinian birth rate will likely go down as their economic and educational achievements improve.

To sum up all these assumptions: the Israelis can have a safe haven, or they can have a Jewish state, they can't have both.

Posted by: Michael | Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"To sum up all these assumptions: the Israelis can have a safe haven, or they can have a Jewish state, they can't have both."

In other words, your plan is incompatible with actual Israeli objectives.

Given the economic, cultural, and human rights record of every Arab state that currently exists, the desire to replace a Western democracy with an Arab regime is beyond me.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, October 25, 2007

Who said I wanted to replace a Western democracy with an Arab regime?

The Arabs are creaping towards modernity, but modernity takes time; they'll be a potential threat to Israel and others until then. In the mean time, the Palestinians are caught in the middle: targets for one side, pawns for the other. If the Israelis can change their behavior and embrace the Palestinians, they can start taking one set of pawns away from the Arabs. In doing so, they can also start educating the Palestinians (at least those who move into Israel proper) in how to be citizens of a Western-style democracy.

Posted by: Michael | Friday, October 26, 2007

"Who said I wanted to replace a Western democracy with an Arab regime?"

You did. That is what a one-state solution means.

I don't mind fantastical national strategies that ignore the goals and desires of those nations -- things change, after all.

I mind deception a bit more.

(Of course, if you granting all Palestinians Israeli citizenship would not make Israel an Arab state, then I am wrong!)

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, October 26, 2007

A: The Jewish Israelis are still there, and they would (presumably) still be bringing in relatives from Russia.
B: As I pointed out before, education and good employment opportunities has a habit of bringing down birth rates.
C: I made of point of saying that the Israelis would only bring in the Palestinians THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH. We're not talking about 'Israeli glamor-girl seeks Jihadist stud for good times and burkha fitting'. The rest Israel would try to get citizenship in other countries or would stay on the Palestinian side of the line.

I'm thinking about a gradual process whereby Israel and Palestine would become the same country only when both parties are ready for it. It would be a generational process, much like a North American Union would be.

Posted by: Michael | Friday, October 26, 2007

Michael, so your approach ("Let any from the West Bank or Gaza immigrate to Israel start the citizenship process-- so long as they don't have an arrest record with the police (Israeli or Palestinian) and are willing to submit to a search of themselves and their belongings. Strongly encourage other nations to do likewise.", "Allow free travel between Gaza and the West Bank on the condition that all travelers are searched for weapons before passing through Israeli territory.", etc.) refers to things that should happen generations from now, as opposed to being realistic in the lifetime of present decision-makers?

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, October 26, 2007

No, the opening up would happen now, the one-state part would happen decades from now.

It's a process of gradual gap closing. You open up connectivity between the Core and the Palestinians via the efforts I proposed. Filters would still be needed on connectivity, but they do get more and some of the demographic pressure (angry unemployed young people in refugee camps) gets reduced. Helping one Palestinian faction win their internal power struggle reduces the pressure further, reduces the opportunity for outside interference and makes Israelis themselves safer.

Reducing the number of Palestinian pawns available and showing greater concern for the Palestinians also has the side effects of making it harder for Arab governments to use Israel as a scapegoat and foreign battleground for their conflict with the Iranians. This helps force said governments to reform a bit faster.

Pressure is reduced in many ways-- but it isn't eliminated. Angry young men would still exist, violence would still happen. The Israelis and Palestinians wouldn't be coming to a Constitutional convention the day after. But the way would be cleared for more progress in pressure reduction to be made by the next generation of leaders-- pacts of cooperation, perhaps, with the Palestinians on matters of mutual interest is one possibility.

Call it 5GW, draining the swamp, sysadmin with a VERY long term focus, or whatever. It is recognizing that if Israel is to survive in ANY form, it has to start sending positive energy into the feedback loop as well as negative.

Posted by: Michael | Friday, October 26, 2007

Found this on BBC today. In spite of their traditional demographic worries, the Israelis are looking at eliminating the open door policy for all Jews. If the Israelis are giving up on "all Jews are welcome", it's not much of a stretch to think in terms of "all Palestinians are un-welcome". Depending on how many Jewish immigrants are willing and able to meet the new requirements, the Israeli government may need to start thinking in that direction just to meet their labor needs.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7070868.stm

Posted by: Michael | Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Michael,

I read the article too. The concern is that matrilineally "Jews" may not self-identify as Jewish and may have no desire to join broader Jewish/Hebrew society. (The BBC piece particularly mentions "Jewish" Nazis, though African and Asian Jews-of-convenience are certainly implied, as well).

To read an article that concerns immigrants who do not assimilate (these "Jews") as advocating the absorption of a large number of hostile immigrants (Palestinians) is a stretch, I think.

Before the Intifada and Arafat's return, Israel allowed day labor to easily come and go from the territories. If things settle down, I imagine a similar situation would return.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Wednesday, October 31, 2007

That's it precisely! Israel is discovering that an unconditional policy of accepting people doesn't work so well; why should an unconditional policy of rejecting people be any different?

If you look at my first post in this thread, I wasn't talking about accepting just any Palestinian-- far from it. A Palestinian would have to have a clean record, a willingness to be searched for weapons and weapons parts on his way in and be willing to live by Israeli laws to be admitted. Given the comments in this article, learning Hebrew would likely have to be a part of this kind of policy too (it would be practical in any case). I've also heard that the Israeli Arab community is pushing for an end to exceptions (including their own) to Israeli draft laws; this would mean that any Palestinian immigrants would have to join the Israeli Army for a stretch and risk going to war against their own people.

Your last comment makes sense. Until that happens, though, there are a lot of Palestinians who can't work and are prime recruiting material for assorted terrorist groups. Setting up a process whereby the better behaved get through the wall to new lives at least reduces the number of recruits and maybe convinces some youths to take different directions with their lives.

Posted by: Michael | Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Until that happens, though, there are a lot of Palestinians who can't work and are prime recruiting material for assorted terrorist groups. Setting up a process whereby the better behaved get through the wall to new lives at least reduces the number of recruits and maybe convinces some youths to take different directions with their lives."

I guess it basically comes down to a question of appeasing a hostile population v. counter-balancing any attacks.

As economic growth tends to make inequality worse and increase friction, at least in the short-term, a transitioning Palestinian economy may not even be in Israel's interest (as long as the Jews remain a reliable scapegoat).

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, November 01, 2007

True enough:P Human nature being what it is, though, that can't be avoided. Let some Palestinians in, but not others, some of the others will blame you for picking favorites. Wait for tensions to subside, then let people in to work, some will blame you for their transient status and for the suffering inflicted before then. Do nothing and stick with the status quo, people on both sides will blame you for soldiers in the West Bank and suicide bombers in Tel Aviv.

If I was in the Israelis' shoes, I'd pick the path where I'm blamed for doing things that actually help people on both sides now.

Posted by: Michael | Thursday, November 01, 2007

"If I was in the Israelis' shoes, I'd pick the path where I'm blamed for doing things that actually help people on both sides now."

Why?

This is a serous question. It is not clear to me how empowering the one population that has a chance to destroy your state as it is makes sense.

If your response is that it's the right thing to do by the Palestianians, it makes perfect sense as a Palestinian demand.. but not Israeli policy
If your response is that it will reduce terrorist attacks, I'd ask you to compare the probability of success / costs to, say, just building a wall, humint, and sigint capabilities

What is the answer?

--

If I was in the Israeli's shows, I'd pick the path where I'm blamed for doing things that actually helps Israel. That inolves recognizing what you can change (degree of connectivity between yourself and enemies) and what you can't change (universal lack of normal growth in any Arab state).

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, November 02, 2007

"That inolves recognizing what you can change (degree of connectivity between yourself and enemies) and what you can't change (universal lack of normal growth in any Arab state)."

This is a good point, and one which would be valid with Israel versus most of its neighbors, but the Palestinians? Is connectivity with them really so changeable in comparison with growth? Here's a hybrid map of Jerusalem I just created with Google (nice toy. . .):

http://maps.google.com/maps?client=firefox-a&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&channel=s&q=&ie=UTF8&ll=31.7705,35.222855&spn=0.034515,0.058365&t=h&z=14&om=1

The border cuts RIGHT THROUGH an urban area! If you build a wall along that border, how easy will it be to dash out from a building to blow through that wall to raid the other side? Or tunnel under it, or send artillery projectiles over it from nearby buildings? As you answer that question, remember the extremes the East Germans had to go to to make the Berlin Wall effective just against the occasional defector in an urban environment. Can the Israelis really build a wall that'll effectively guard against guerilla raids?

You mention using sigint and humint. If you don't have Israelis on the other side on a regular basis, how effective will that be? Sigint can be foiled using runners and setting up discrete low-power telephone or telegraph lines; with no patrols, how will you intercept those runners or spot those lines? Humint would be easier so long as the Israelis maintain diplomatic ties with the Palestinians, but that has its limits.

The point to this is, the control one has over connectivity with another- be it another person or another nation- is dependent on distance. When you have deserts, or mountain ranges, or large bodies of water between you, connectivity is easy to reduce. A tariff or sanction here, a navy or airforce there and don't forget the army. But when you're in each other's armpits (like the Israelis and Palestinians are), reducing connectivity requires drastic measures that usually hurt both sides. You're left with the choice of a) increasing that distance (ethnic cleansing, in this case), b) taking the pain and living in misery (the status quo in the Middle East) or c) trying (often unilaterally) to improve communications and relations with the other party (my suggestions).

As for the growth question, remember that I'm talking about gradually increasing connections between the Israelis and Palestinians over years and decades. Palestinians move into Israel, they get access to western-style educations, communications and concepts; their ability to grow improves. Israel cooperates with (presumably) Fatah to eliminate Hamas, the more retroactive Palestinian party gets destroyed and the less retroactive party coopted-- forced to keep up with the Israelis standards just to maintain their alliance. Cooperation between the two groups on other matters of interest just forces them to keep up in other ways as well, as does trade.

In short, in the case of the Palestinians from a hypothetical Israeli point of view, it is growth that's easy to change and connectivity that's hard to change.

Posted by: Michael | Friday, November 02, 2007

Michael,

The border on the map you link to appears to be the 1948 cease fire line -- as those on either side of the line possess either Israeli permanent residency or Israeli citizenship, your specific concerns are someone misplaced.

Granted, perhaps you advocate a retreat from the 1967 borders of Israel as well. My guess is you do believe such a withdrawal is in "Israel'"s interests, as your goal for Israel appears to be the eradication of the Jewish state, and the establishment of a new Arab state, if one that has a Jewish minority.

Of course, no system of protection must be perfect, just as swamping Israel with Arabs would not be perfect. The question is which cuts political violence down to a manageable level (such as, say, what Israel is enjoying now).

"In short, in the case of the Palestinians from a hypothetical Israeli point of view, it is growth that's easy to change and connectivity that's hard to change."

Considering the generational decline in Arab civilization and the ease with which Israel can modulate terrorist attacks against her through walls, your comment appears to be twice in error.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, November 02, 2007

Michael

Perhaps you would like to consider my alternate to your plan which I personally believe has a better chance of being adopted by Israel and of succeeding than your plan.

Treat Gaza like a toxic waste dump. In the near term, evacuate the Christians from Gaza (for resettlement in and around Bethlehem) and any other Palestinian without a criminal or terrorist record who wants to leave to be resettled in the West Bank area. Let the Fatah organization round up anybody they don't like on the West Bank to be resettled in Gaza.

Gaza is beach front property on the Mediterranean. It could be as valuable as Monaco or the Riviera if its inhabitants could be persuaded to get rich from vacationing European tourists instead of behaving like violent lunatics.

Posted by: Mark in Texas | Saturday, November 03, 2007

Actually, that's not too far from one of the ideas in my first post; if you can talk a bunch of Islamic Fundamentalists into catering to godless foreigners in bikinis. . .

Posted by: Michael | Sunday, November 04, 2007

Michael

Well, that's the thing. Islamic fundamentalists will not be persuaded to cater to a bunch of godless foreigners in bikinis. The good news is that most Palestinians are not fundamentalists. They voted for Hamas only because there was no alternative to the profoundly corrupt Fatah kleptocracy.

From the Israeli view they might prefer to live next door to a prosperous, transparent, secular, modern Core state on the West Bank but they will settle for a corrupt kleptocracy with no rockets or terrorist bombers coming from there. Since that is a major improvement over the current situation of civil war between Hamas and Fatah, I think that it might be popular on the West Bank. Then the West Bank Palestinian state will merely have to deal with the profound corruption that cripples so many Gap countries. But with Arafat gone, perhaps the Fatah leadership can learn that they will have more money if they learn to steal in moderation and allow people to keep enough of the wealth they create to encourage them to build up the economy.

Meanwhile, Gaza will be a waste of a nice beach front resource because the craziest, most intransigent Palestinians would be deported to there. Since the rational population of Gaza will have been evacuated, nobody except the usual suspects will care when the Israeli military reacts with massive force against rocket launchers set up in school yards, hospitals and apartment buildings.

Posted by: Mark in Texas | Monday, November 05, 2007

Mark, what you've said is true-- in the short term. My ideas which seem to have people questioning my sanity are aimed at the long term.

Think about this. According to Wikipedia (their Palestinians article has no disputed tags, surprisingly), there are 10.5 million Palestinians in this world, 3.9 million of whom live in Gaza and Palestine. If all those Palestinians came home to an independent Palestinian state, its population would be a little less than twice that of Israel itself. No matter how highly developed their economy was, could that little area support all those people? Would they be content to live in that area even if it could support them all?

How could Israel respond to this? They can continue importing Jews from other countries-- Wikipedia gives a world-wide population of 13 million. But can Israel's land support that many? And this isn't even counting water resources, or the effect of a change in sea levels or water supply.

Add these factors up. Does the two-state solution really protect the Israelis from demographic pressures in the long run? Or does it delay and intensify an inevitable winner-take-all clash between the two peoples?

Posted by: Michael | Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Mark in Texas,

Excellent comments. I mostly agree.

Michael,

The sort of problem that exists in your nightmare scenario already exist now -- a water-distressed non-Muslim state is bordered by both the salt ocean and a larger Muslim state. However, Singapore has yet to go for a "one state solution," nor is it likely to.

Nor do you explain why 10.5 million Palestinians would move to a land that could not support them, nor why they would stay there.

You mention focusing on the long term, but I don't think you are. Questions of land-loss to the sea, potable water, etc, are essentially economic issues. Compare the growth record of countries dominated by Arabs to the growth record of Israel, and it's clear that importing an Arab majority would be a long-term disaster for the Israeli economy, as well as issues that depend on the economy (staving off erosion, drinking water supplies, etc).

On to your final paragraph:

"Add these factors up. Does the two-state solution really protect the Israelis from demographic pressures in the long run? Or does it delay and intensify an inevitable winner-take-all clash between the two peoples?"

Can we therefore conclude you believe that is an inevitable winner-take all clash between Arabs and Jews?

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"The sort of problem that exists in your nightmare scenario already exist now -- a water-distressed non-Muslim state is bordered by both the salt ocean and a larger Muslim state. However, Singapore has yet to go for a "one state solution," nor is it likely to." But Singapore and Malaysia aren't trading potshots with one another. And Singapore, being an island, has a natural barrier between it and Malaysia that Israel doesn't have with the Palestinians. Remember that comment someone made about straight borders on a map marking the likely site of a conflict? Israel has them, Singapore does not.

"Nor do you explain why 10.5 million Palestinians would move to a land that could not support them, nor why they would stay there." It seems unlikely to me, too. But it doesn't seem so unlikely to the Israelis-- and I was attempting to look at this from an Israeli point of view. The subject of a Palestinian right of return comes up, they get antsy and start talking about demographic time bombs.

"Compare the growth record of countries dominated by Arabs to the growth record of Israel, and it's clear that importing an Arab majority would be a long-term disaster for the Israeli economy" But I wasn't talking about importing an Arab majority. For accepting ANY Palestinian migrants to be politically viable, strict conditions would have to be put in place. Likely, only a small portion of the Palestinian populace would match it. The point of accepting them at all is to establish the concept that Israelis and Palestinians don't have to be totally segregated, to open up the possibility of leaving the settlements in place in Palestinian territory (albeit with different rules) and to put pressure on neighboring countries to give more of their Palestinians full citizenship.

As for comparative growth rates, the same argument could be made for any immigrants to a richer country. If America leaves the children of Mexican immigrants uneducated, they'll be a drag on the economy; if we don't help Mexico get its political and economic game together, they'll never be ready for a North American Union. Israel isn't ready in any sense of the word for union with Palestine now, but the only way they can say they'll never be ready is if they refuse to help Palestine become ready.

"Can we therefore conclude you believe that is an inevitable winner-take all clash between Arabs and Jews?" If the two-state solution is treated as a long-term solution, yes. The whole point of this exercise is to propose a better long-term solution where such conflict isn't inevitable. And to figure out a path to get there from here.

Posted by: Michael | Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ok, if I'm going around the mulberry bush this many times to explain something, maybe I'm not ready to start my blog:P

Are any of you understanding me better than when I started this mess? If so, any suggestions for how I could have explained this better in the first place? Thanks.

Posted by: Michael | Wednesday, November 07, 2007

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