“Jews should not rely on Pharaohs.”

Leon Wieseltier’s piece over at TNR is really really good!

So with our eyes wide open, it is important to assert that Israel’s vision of its future cannot be premised upon an eternity of Arab authoritarianism and an eternity of Palestinian statelessness. Such a vision is wrong, and it will not work. It is painful, for someone who admires the Jewish state for its democratic character, to see it emerge as an enemy of democratization. Jews should not rely on Pharaohs.

One interesting side effect of the situation in Egypt has been to force defenders of Israel (I use this to mean anyone who doesn’t solely blame Israel for the perpetuation of the conflict) to decide where their sympathies lie: with people struggling for democracy against their own Pharoah, or with Netanyahu’s initial position of support for the Mubarak regime, which he’s since walked back (like the US).  Israel is now coming into the phase of its nationhood where it has to grapple with the real issues that calling yourself a democracy brings – namely, supporting democracy in other places (something that modern democracies have in general been pretty bad at).  This is to say nothing of the profoundly undemocratic nature of the occupation, but the situation in Egypt is a lot more visible, and poses more immediate diplomatic questions to the Israeli leadership.

47 Responses to ““Jews should not rely on Pharaohs.””

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  2. Yes. The best part of that piece is his indictment of the Netanyahu government.


    Chorus of Apes · February 6th, 2011 at 9:44 pm
  3. Yes Wieseletier is absolutely right. That’s why it was such a great thing that during WWII Churchill and FDR would have nothing to do with the USSR. Sure it helped Hitler win the war, but at least the Democracies didn’t sully themselves with all that terrible Stalin stuff.

    ‘Only Nixon could go to China’? What a terrible thing to do.


    Dave Boxthorn · February 6th, 2011 at 10:32 pm
  4. One of the interesting developments which has come from the Egypt protests is the new alignment in America of progressives and neocons, in that both now blindly support revolutionary democracy-promotion, with little understanding of the situation on the ground, planning or contemplation of alternative outcomes.

    I seem to remember, not so long ago, liberals scoffing at Bush’s Freedom Agenda, pointing to Iraq’s tribal and sectarian factionalism and telling us that we must preserve regional stability and, at most, work with authoritarian governments to defrost their systems over the span of decades, if at all.

    So, now the right and left both blindly support democracy, or protestocracy, because we don’t really know what these protests will bring. Now it is simply uncouth to suggest caution, pointing to other experiments in regional democracy gone bad – WB/Gaza, Lebanon.

    So much for Israel’s right-wing “neocon” leadership. When Ben Eliezar, Netanyahu and Peres all speak favorably of the Mubarak regime, well… it is a rare alignment to behold. Indeed, the voices most hyperventilating over Mubarak’s downfall, most indignant at Obama’s betrayal of the man, are Israeli progressives, for whom engagement and endearment with Arab autocrats has been a main preoccupation for half a century. Which is not to say they were wrong, at the time (who is to say they were?), but how foolish they look now, racing to preserve the back-channel contacts that made them relevant, their political leverage.

    And then, to have a 19 year old (you’re still 19, right RB?) (jew)school Israeli diplomatic dinosaurs, survivors of war, crisis and yes, even the peace industry, on how best to preserve Israeli national interests… Oh, the humanity of it all, but not much humility; no, not much humility.


    Victor · February 7th, 2011 at 11:15 am
  5. None of us really don’t know what will be with the Arab world. It seems that I’m about the only person in Israel who is happy about Egypt though. Even if the Muslim Brotherhood takes over–in a worse case scenario–I still think it’s better for the West in the long-run. Look at Iran, it seems like things might really change there. If any of us were the man on the street in Tehran today, what would we think about America? If we were the man on the street today in Cairo, in contrast, what would we think about America? How much longer will the charade with the “moderate” Arab dictators continue?

    The situation just can’t go on that we have a huge, young population, living in poverty, suffering under political repression, seeing the rest of the world flourish–on their satellite-TV screens, or by surfing the internet. The only arena for expression is the mosque, where the most extreme form of Islam is preached, and the mosques are basically funded by our good friends the “moderate” Saudi royal family. And then the “moderate” dictators say to the West: Look, my society isn’t mature enough to open up, and if I open up too much you’ll be left with the extreme Muslims, so I’m your only option. It’s a recipe for disaster, it can’t work anymore.

    The least the West can do is to try to end our oil addiction, which plays right into the hands of the “moderate” dictators. These societies will just have to change on their own though.


    Jonathan1 · February 7th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
  6. Victor,

    Where do you see RB “schooling” anybody? It seems like he’s just offering some observations about a situation.


    Balaam's Donkey · February 7th, 2011 at 3:08 pm
  7. Israel is now coming into the phase of its nationhood where it has to grapple with the real issues that calling yourself a democracy brings

    BD, you don’t find that the least bit condescending? Because the last 60 years of state-building, ingathering refugees, fighting wars of survival and creating a pluralistic society were not “real issues” for a democratic society?

    And just for flavor, tangentially, does this not smack of white man’s burden, in its second or third incarnation? Am I the only one still smarting from the planned Western-style democratization of Iraq, which I – at about the same age as RB is now – promoted earnestly and blindly?

    If Egyptians want a democracy – a Western-style democracy, a Turkish-style democracy, an Iranian-style democracy – they will have to build it themselves. Assuming that Israel, of all countries, or America, for that matter, has any real control over that process is delusional and dangerous. I, too, want a free, prosperous and peaceful Egypt. As tempting as it is to fiddle on the margins with whatever influence we do have, it’s not about us and what we want. That’s all I want to say.


    Victor · February 7th, 2011 at 4:23 pm
  8. I seem to remember, not so long ago, liberals scoffing at Bush’s Freedom Agenda…

    come on victor, you’re way smarter than this. there is a pretty sizable difference between an internal uprising on the the street when an overwhelming majority of a nation’s public demands regime change and when a foreign nation invades relentlessly killing thousands of innocent civilians in the name of freedom which was clear to the world was little more than politicking, power brokering and blind greed.


    Justin · February 8th, 2011 at 12:20 am
  9. Agreed. From now on, we should only invade countries to kill people who need killing, destroy things that need destroying, and take things away from them that need taking, not devote decades to reassemble their political order. Lesson learned, I hope.

    At the same time, you’re being a bit myopic at the scale of the Freedom Agenda, which included funding and political backing for pro-liberal forces and democracy movements throughout the world, including the Arab world – countries such as Lebanon, UAE and yes, even Egypt. We democracy pushers lived through some exciting times in the last decade – the Rose Revolution, Orange Revolution, Cedar Revolution, Tulip Revolution. Some have since been reversed, others ground to a whimper in the day to day work, but others live on.

    It was only months ago that I remember reading a series of articles that these same groups and movements (and often just lone imprisoned or besieged individuals) were concerned because the Obama Administration was not seen as forceful on human rights and pushing autocracies to reform as publicly as Bush had been, leading the regimes to declare an open season on democracy advocates. In Egypt, for example, under Obama the US has cut support for democracy programs there by more than half, as of April of last year(!), and the article goes on to show a similar pattern throughout the world.

    The key words were “engagement” and “realism”, not with people, but with their overlords – no more of that neocon freedom fetish. We have to deal with people we don’t like, remember, unclenched fists and all? Not even the Iranian protests could dislodge the “realists” from their preoccupation with advancing core American interests, which freedom wasn’t. Well, now the freedom fetish is back en vogue, from right to left, everyone is into it, some for the first time.

    Mubarak looks perfectly capable of riding out the protests, and Sulleiman (i.e. Mubarak II) is almost assured to be President next September. That Egypt may become a slightly more democratic place, whatever the Egyptians decide democracy means, is a testament to the protesters. It’s just as likely that the old power centers will reassert themselves in Egypt and maintain the status quo, just as Russia and Yanukovich undermined the revolution in Ukraine, and geopolitics turned a tail-dragging Syrian defeat into a completely Lebanese surrender to Assad not even a decade hence.


    Victor · February 8th, 2011 at 2:05 am
  10. civilians in the name of freedom which was clear to the world was little more than politicking, power brokering and blind greed

    @Justin,

    It seems to (at least) that the Bush Administration was acting from a naive idea that the Iraq invasion might work. Maybe I’m being naive in thinking that they were just being naive.

    But, to be fair, you are also one of the people in this forum who consistently argues for an Israeli-Syria deal, by which Israel wold relinquish a strategically vital area in return for the West rehabilitating the head of one of the world’s most repressive regimes into the latest “moderate” dictator. How that will help bring the Arab world closer to reform I’ve never understood, but it’s become part and parcel of the Western cool aid, which everybody more or less still seems to be drinking.


    Jonathan1 · February 8th, 2011 at 2:17 am
  11. @Victor
    From now on, we should only invade countries to kill people who need killing

    or, you know, we could try NOT invading countries… radical thought, i know.

    funding and political backing for pro-liberal forces and democracy movements

    find me one instance where any policy, secret or revealed, embarked upon by the bush administration had any positive impact on the world. just one. let’s not forget it was that “Freedom Agenda” that gave Gaza a democratically elected Hamas government. American governments have not and do not advocate for freedom. Not in the Cold War, not before 9/11, not after 9/11. It’s all about the money. It’s about free trade and corporate hegemony, and it has been for a long, long, long time. Freedom is a pacifier fed by the media to the electorate and nothing more. Distractions are key to maintain power. The Romans enacted it best, Bread and Circus.

    @J1
    Maybe I’m being naive
    i’d have to say so…

    you are also one of the people in this forum who consistently argues for an Israeli-Syria deal

    yes, and I will continue to, and let’s also remember that for a decade or more the agreed arrangement to be implemented has been that a majority of Golan will become an international demilitarized zone and a bi-national nature reserve without settlement, with Israel having the upper hand in that buffer zone by internationally monitored early warning systems and an upper hand in the ratio of demilitarized land (in that less of its land will be demilitarized).

    the latest “moderate” dictator.
    you will NEVER hear me advocate a single aspect of American foreign policy. Ever.


    Justin · February 8th, 2011 at 6:16 am
  12. you will NEVER hear me advocate a single aspect of American foreign policy. Ever.

    I wrote: ” . . . you are also one of the people in this forum who consistently argues for an Israeli-Syria deal . . . . ”

    yes, and I will continue to

    Ironically, pushing for an Israeli-Syria deal is usually a staple of American foreign policy–with the exception of the W Bush Administration.

    What the realist school of American thought–a la James Baker–and what most in the Israeli policy establishment say is that a Syrian deal is much easier to make than a Palestinian deal. Syria is an established country and military, that has kept its deals historically. Syria can be drawn from the Iranian orbit into the Western orbit (by becoming another American client-state,) and the Assad government could be used as a stabilizing force in Lebanon as well, through its military dominance of that country.

    Let’s cast aside the question of why we would want the Syrian government to dominate another sovereign nation–because that is not a certain outcome.

    So, the down side of a Syrian treaty is that it would empower yet another Arab dictator with millions of dollars in Western aid and military hardware, and the West would close its collective eyes at what kind of regime Assad runs, just like we’ve pretended for decade that “moderates” rule in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

    The ghastly human rights abuses, the lack of freedoms that we in the West take for granted, the mass murders (see Hama), the jailing of political reformers without fair trail, the rampant poverty and illiteracy, women’s role in society straight out of the 19th century . . . on and on and on . . . all of that will be ignored so that we can work with our latest “moderate,” President Assad.

    Not only is such a position immoral (to me), but it’s a recipe for an explosion, sooner or later. That’s why Israel shouldn’t make a treaty with Syria, even if Israel could maintain a status quo on the Golan under such a treaty.

    @Justin.

    Why, then, do you championing a process that would solidify the rule of one of the most repressive regime’s in the world? How would a Syrian treaty bring a positive impact on the world?


    Jonathan1 · February 8th, 2011 at 3:43 pm
  13. “are you championing”


    Jonathan1 · February 8th, 2011 at 3:46 pm
  14. or, you know, we could try NOT invading countries… radical thought, i know.

    Ever? Under no conditions you would sanction such action?

    find me one instance where any policy, secret or revealed, embarked upon by the bush administration had any positive impact on the world. just one.

    Not a single good policy in eight years of bush? Not a single policy with any positive impact? Not even one? Not even a little? Not even an itsy bitsy bit of good? It was all downhill? The land became barren, the wells dried up and burning hail rained from the sky?

    Hahaha. You’re just angry at all the shoveling you’ve had to do in the last week. I might be coming down to the Shedd Aquarium on Thursday. Been promising to take a certain someone. Can you recommend a good pizza place? I used to go to the one by the Hungarian, but last I was there (summer?) it closed up.


    Victor · February 8th, 2011 at 6:03 pm
  15. If you are asking for good kosher pizza in Chicago, you are asking a question with no answer.


    Balaam's Donkey · February 8th, 2011 at 6:13 pm
  16. Oh, come on, Chicago is not that bad. I’m just craving a hot, greasy, kosher cheese pizza with pineapples and tomatoes. Mmm… I’m gonna faint.


    Victor · February 8th, 2011 at 6:33 pm
  17. @J1-
    touche, i suppose you’re right, i do de facto support some american foreign policies but never because they’re american foreign policy.

    @victor-
    I don’t know of a single positive policy of the bush administration. can you share one? And I’m not angry with any shoveling, the only thing we have to shovel in LA is sunshine…

    in terms of pizza, BD is correct, if you’re looking for a place with a teudah, you’re out of luck. But there’s nasty kosher pizza in Skokie and Rogers Park. My favorite chicago-style pizza was always Lou Malnatis. Giordano’s and the original Uno were good until they became chains. What I would say is that you should avoid Eduardo’s at all costs because my understanding is that they use beef stock in their crust. or at least they used to.


    Justin · February 8th, 2011 at 6:37 pm
  18. Victor says:
    Not a single good policy in eight years of bush? Not a single policy with any positive impact? Not even one? Not even a little? Not even an itsy bitsy bit of good? It was all downhill? The land became barren, the wells dried up and burning hail rained from the sky?

    You can’t name one either, can you?


    BZ · February 8th, 2011 at 6:40 pm
  19. touche, i suppose you’re right, i do de facto support some american foreign policies but never because they’re american foreign policy.

    The point I was trying to make is that this is a policy that none of us should support–I really don’t care who’s idea it is, or if I can “prove you wrong”–the Sryia approach is a mistake–it’s really a mistake championed mostly by the Israeli defense establishment.


    Jonathan1 · February 8th, 2011 at 6:44 pm
  20. Tripling African AIDS funding to save the lives of millions was a bad thing, BZ?


    Victor · February 8th, 2011 at 6:47 pm
  21. I’m late to the party here, but for the record:
    a) Victor, please don’t be so condescending.
    b) I strongly agree with Jonathan1 about the need to look long-term, and foreign oil.
    c) Some Bush administration policies were good, but most sucked.
    d) I’m really interested in this discussion about Syria, because y’all are brining up a lot of interesting points I hadn’t thought of before.


    renaissanceboy · February 8th, 2011 at 7:47 pm
  22. @victor – Bad cRc kosher pizza in Chicago:
    Tel Aviv @ Devon & California
    Malibu @ Dumptser & McCormick
    Main Pizza @ Main & ?
    EJ’s Pizza @ Gross Pt & Church
    Slice of Life on Dumpster
    Chalavi @ Touhy & Sacramento (not recc)
    Chicago Pizza and Fish @ Devon & Rockwell

    aaaannd that’s about all I can think of


    adam · February 8th, 2011 at 11:50 pm
  23. re: bush and aids funding. he said he’d do it. i don’t know that he did it or that it saved any lives. do you? can you show us one shred of evidence that any of his policies had any positive impact? one doesn’t even need to ask for the negative impacts of his policies. just look.


    Justin · February 9th, 2011 at 12:21 am
  24. I remember something a bit more current, bemoaning that Obama has dropped the ball on AIDS funding that Bush got rolling, but here’s an NYT from ’08 you should check out, Justin. 2 million people on cocktails, 10 million tested. That’s one government program that met its targets, on budget, I might add.

    adam, that’s way more than I thought existed, thanks! what’s the deal with people putting down chicago kosher eateries? Maybe “you people” don’t realize it out on the coasts, but out here in the heartland a kosher pizza place is like a precious marvel, to be treasured.


    Victor · February 9th, 2011 at 1:55 am
  25. mazel tov, you found one. touche. got any more?

    in terms of pizza and chicagoans. there’s pizza, and then there’s pizza. eating kosher pizza in chicago is not much different than eating dominos or pizza hut or whatever in chicago. there’s pizza, and then there’s pizza. and if you want a particularly gross slice of pizza, check out slice of life in skokie. ew.


    Justin · February 9th, 2011 at 4:01 am
  26. I put down Chicago Kosher eateries because I grew up in Chicago and by and large they’re terrible.

    Silce of Life is a nice enough place, but the pizza just isn’t that great. There were a few decent places on Devon back when I was in high school, but most of them have closed since then.

    I will say that the experience of working at Ken’s Diner helped me to give up on keeping kosher. This was largely due in part to the disgusting treatment by the owners. If they represented kashrut, I wanted nothing to do with it.


    Balaamn's Dpnkey · February 9th, 2011 at 8:32 am
  27. Justin, you’re being unfair. I resent having to put out individual examples of Bush Administration policies that amounted to good in the world, not because I can’t, but because I consider you intelligent enough to deduce them on your own. Just because the good is balanced with the bad… well, welcome to life, where there is no absolute, universal good.

    A new-born child is a beautiful gift of life, but one of my environmental activist friends considers children an ecological disaster waiting to happen. I happen to think that two million people being alive today because they’re on AIDS cocktails that our government paid for is a great achievement, but it came at the cost of borrowing a great deal of money that we don’t have, putting this country further in debt. Removing the Taliban and Saddam regimes liberated millions from inconceivable oppression. School enrollment in Afghanistan is up 500 percent between 2001-2006, and those kids are finally learning something besides Islamist radicalism. That’s a good thing, but we’ve paid a huge cost for it, and continue to do so.

    Everything is relative to everyone. Real world policy is always a trade off, and those who oppose progress also get a say, one way or another. I think you know all this, so I’m confused why we’re having the discussion. There is no alternative to doing what we feel is best at any given time. Isolationism is also a policy, one with its own trade offs.


    Victor · February 9th, 2011 at 1:14 pm
  28. Where was the best kosher pizza you’ve ever eaten? I’ve had pizza in NY, Chicago, Miami, Israel, and they were all pretty much the same. Maybe I’m just not a picky eater, but it’s hard for me to tell the difference between good and bad pizza. I mean, within reason – if it’s not properly cooked, or it’s overflowing with grease, I get it, but otherwise… I don’t know, Americans are picky eaters in general, in my opinion. I don’t think very many of you grew up fighting battles of will with your grandmother over whether you would finish everything on your plate or not be allowed to leave.


    Victor · February 9th, 2011 at 1:19 pm
  29. I grew up having that battle with both my mother and my grandmother. I would say that many others had it too.

    I think the assumption that you should be making is about who won and lost those battles.


    Balaam's Donkey · February 9th, 2011 at 2:13 pm
  30. I’m really interested in this discussion about Syria, because y’all are brining up a lot of interesting points I hadn’t thought of before.

    @RB.

    If you remember, there was that brief time-period after September 11, when the W. Bush Administration was actually telling the truth–the Arab world has some serious, deep-rooted problems, and those problems begin with the types of regimes ruling in the Arab world. The West’s “moderate” Arab dictators were on the defensive for a bit.

    Then the Afghanistan War happened, which made no sense, and I challenge anybody here to provide a reasonable objective to that war.

    Then the Iraq War happened, which had a worthy objective–trying to create an open, pluralistic Iraq–but it had no chance of actually succeeding.

    All the while the Bush Administration kept with the American tradition of pretending that we have a worthy, close friendship with the “moderate” dictatorships in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia (the last of which unbelievable funds the spreading of the most radical form of Islam, which we claimed to have been fighting in the War on Terror.)

    Then the Obama Administration came in and, borrowing from the ideas from the H.W. Bush Administration, championed the myth that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the root cause of the rotting nature of the Arab world.

    When James Jones spoke at the J-Street conference and said that if he cold solve one dispute in the world, it would be to come to an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, he wasn’t coming from the same place as RB, or KFJ, or me( although for some reason it doesn’t always come across that the Palestinian issue bothers me too a great deal.)

    Jones wasn’t talking about solving that conflict because of the human rights injustices done to the Palestinians since 1967, or because of a concern for what the occupation has done to Israeli society, or due to the threat of losing a state of Israel with an overwhelmingly Jewish majority, or because of the increasing isolation that this would cause to Israel, and the ramifications thereof (ie, possible damage to trade relations with Europe.)

    No, Jones was saying that the cause of the problems in the Arab world is that hundreds-of-millions of Arabs are enraged about Palestine. They are; that’s true. But do any of us deep down believe that educated men in Tunisia set themselves on fire because of continued building in Ariel? Are millions of Egyptians taking to the streets in January 2011 as a delayed reaction to Operation Cast Lead in January 2009? If there rage at the Queen of Jordan because Yitzak Rabin backed down at Sebastia? Just stop and think about it for a second.

    At least the Palestinian issue has a moral element. The biggest fraud is when we hear State Department types talking about strengthening the “moderate” regimes in the region, and bringing Syria into the peace fold. How does that solve any problems in the Arab world? We don’t hear it as much since 2005, but the argument used to be–and certainly it was among many in the Israeli defense establishment–that a Syrian deal will not only bring Syria into the American orbit, but it will stabilize Lebanon. So, this is the West actually talking about one sovereign country taking over another. (ie, Let Assad brutalize his on people ad infinitum, and he can take over Lebanon too–and he has to he may kill as many Shia Hezbollah supporters as need be.)

    This is going to bring long-term peace????? This is the recipe for change in the Arab world?????

    The whole thing is some sort of semi-religion to many in Europe and some in the DC policy world: The fraud that all of the problems began on June 5, 1967, and returning to that situation is the answer to our prayers. It’s a farce.


    Jonathan1 · February 9th, 2011 at 2:35 pm
  31. I think the assumption that you should be making is about who won and lost those battles.

    Heh, I won the battles, but lost the war. When I go out with a friend and they leave half their sandwich on the plate, or they won’t eat it at all because the lettuce has a brown spot, or it’s the wrong kind of mustard… it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.


    Victor · February 9th, 2011 at 5:04 pm
  32. Then the Obama Administration came in and, borrowing from the ideas from the H.W. Bush Administration, championed the myth that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the root cause of the rotting nature of the Arab world.

    This claim is straw. Provide proof that any administration ever said that the Israeli-Arab conflict is the “root” or “cause” of the instability in the Middle East. It is quite fair to say that the conflict fuels and contributes, but not “cause”. (I would have certainly taken notice if so.)


    Kung Fu Jew · February 9th, 2011 at 5:43 pm
  33. Then the Iraq War happened, which had a worthy objective–trying to create an open, pluralistic Iraq–but it had no chance of actually succeeding.

    What a crock. How would the objective be “worthy” if if had no chance of succeeding?


    ML · February 9th, 2011 at 6:00 pm
  34. Provide proof that any administration ever said that the Israeli-Arab conflict is the “root” or “cause” of the instability in the Middle East.

    vimeo.com/7302509

    see 7:45

    Please provide one reason that you support a treaty with the Assad regime, while we’re at it.

    And, please explain how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fuels instability in the Middle East. Is Palestine the reason that millions of Iranians took to the streets in the summer of 2009, for instance? (I realize that Iran is not part of the Arab world.)


    Jonathan1 · February 9th, 2011 at 6:09 pm
  35. What a crock. How would the objective be “worthy” if if had no chance of succeeding?

    Meaning that the ends were hypothetically justified, but practically impossible. How is that a crock?

    If I said to you that we could cure cancer were every American to pay a $10,000 tax, would you disagree that the objective would be “worthy?” But would you also not agree to pay the $10,000 tax unless that worthy objective were reasonably obtainable?


    Jonathan1 · February 9th, 2011 at 6:12 pm
  36. Please provide one reason that you support a treaty with the Assad regime, while we’re at it.

    I support a peace between the Israeli and Syrian people. I also believe that countries that are in the UN should uphold their decisions or not be a part of the international body. I also think that as Arab nations normalize relations with Israel, this will normalize relations with the West. And for all the shit that could/would bring, it also brings the possibility of economic prosperity, and it tends to be the case that authoritarian regimes thrive on the poverty of their citizens. So I think peace with Israel would actually strengthen the Syrian people and weaken the Assad regime.

    please explain how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fuels instability in the Middle East

    seriously? people are, plainly put, super pissed about it. it hurts to see the gross injustices against the Palestinians. People can’t comprehend how Israel claims victimhood when the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces so greatly outweighs Israeli casualties (I’m not advocating that position, just pointing it out). I don’t think it’s the only source of instability, nor is it necessarily the primary one, but to deny that is fuels instability is either willfully ignorant or just plain foolish. When one sees a child facing a soldier or even worse a tank, it tends to have an effect on people…


    Justin · February 10th, 2011 at 4:13 am
  37. it hurts to see the gross injustices against the Palestinians.

    Ok. There might be some confusion here as to what we mean by the word “fuels.” Agreed that there is widespread rage in the Arab world regarding the Palestinian issue, aimed at Israel and its patron the USA. That is undeniable (and I acknowledged that above, but this is obviously a long stream.)

    I take issue, however, with the American National Security Adviser making the statement that if he could solve one problem in the world–think about it, any problem in the world–it would be the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Why did Mr. Jones say that? Not because he is pained to see Palestinian children standing opposite of Israeli tanks, but because that conflict is the “epicenter,” and solving it would have reverberations throughout the region and maybe the world, borrow from his words. If we assume that Tunisian young men immoliate themselves because of Operation Cast Lead, then maybe that theory holds. But, I tend to think Egyptians are taking to the streets for other reasons (ie, they are sick and tired of being abused by their “moderate regime.)

    I support a peace between the Israeli and Syrian people.

    Luckily for you there has been peace between the Israeli and Syrian people since 1974, and that peace was solidified in March 1979, and unless the Egyptian treaty is nullified, that peace will hold because the Syrian military is not nearly strong enough to take on Israel in a conventional war by itself. There there you go. Literally, Israeli and Syrian people have nothing to do with one another, and they don’t kill each other, thank God. (I know, I know, Israel did destroy the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, but the peace even held through that.)

    I also think that as Arab nations normalize relations with Israel, this will normalize relations with the West.

    Normalizing relations? This means that more Arab dictators will begin very cold relations with Israel, in return for receiving huge amounts of Western aid, and a Western wink and nod as these “moderate” regimes commit one crime after another, against their very own populations. We’ve had normal relations with Egypt since 1979, and normal relations with Jordan since 1994. Look how those two societies–not regimes but societies–have benefited from those normal relations. Look at the streets of these two countries today for the evidence.

    And for all the shit that could/would bring, it also brings the possibility of economic prosperity, and it tends to be the case that authoritarian regimes thrive on the poverty of their citizens. So I think peace with Israel would actually strengthen the Syrian people and weaken the Assad regime.

    Except that the Egypt and Jordan precedents demonstrate that the exact opposite will happen.


    Jonathan1 · February 10th, 2011 at 11:51 am
  38. On a side note, I just saw that Mubarak might be resigning tonight. Maybe that might begin a process of real change in Egypt, which is good for Egyptians, Israeli, Palestinians, and Americans. That’s something I think we can all agree about.


    Jonathan1 · February 10th, 2011 at 12:06 pm
  39. @Victor: best kosher pizza anywhere? weird but true: Brooklyn Kosher pizza in … Los Angeles (on pico, should you happen to be willing to go and get it).


    KRG · February 10th, 2011 at 12:43 pm
  40. @KRG-
    you’ll be sad to know that we went non-kosher. we were all devastated when we went for a slice and saw pepperoni on the counter.


    Justin · February 10th, 2011 at 1:32 pm
  41. sorry, we=he


    Justin · February 10th, 2011 at 1:32 pm
  42. @J1-
    peace is more than the absence of war. i don’t believe that “nothing to do with each other” makes for peace between people. i think it also goes without saying that i am completely opposed to and disturbed by the US buying off regimes (Arab states and Israel and anywhere else) with aid money


    Justin · February 10th, 2011 at 1:35 pm
  43. peace is more than the absence of war. i don’t believe that “nothing to do with each other” makes for peace between people

    Fair enough. Then by that definition you’ll agree that Israel has peace with Turkey, but clearly not with Egypt and Jordan. As long as we’re consistent than I’ll agree.

    i think it also goes without saying that i am completely opposed to and disturbed by the US buying off regimes (Arab states and Israel and anywhere else) with aid money

    It doesn’t go without saying because, again, you are advocating a policy that–whatever your motivations in advocating such a policy–will undboutedly lead to the US buying off the Syrian regime with aid money. Nobody makes any pretentions about that.

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t argue that peace is more than the absence of war, and you oppose buying off Arab regimes….. and then at the same time support a treaty with Syria, which will mean at most the continued absence of war between Israel and Syria, and that will also mean that the Assad regime will become a US client.

    You can have the last word if you’d like . . . .


    Jonathan1 · February 10th, 2011 at 2:01 pm
  44. in re: pizza

    I simply listed the current options. It should not be construed as endorsement of any of these. When it comes to zah, I go treif.


    adam · February 10th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
  45. @Justin

    peace is more than the absence of war. i don’t believe that “nothing to do with each other” makes for peace between people

    Fair enough. But, then you’d agree that Israel has peace with Turkey under this definition, but certainly not with Egypt or Jordan. I’ll agree as long as the definitions are consistent. Either we presently don’t have peace with Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia . . . or we do have peace with them

    (meaning we have the absence of war, and the Israeli population has virtually nothing to do with those countries’ populations–we can call that peace, or we can call it something else.)

    i think it also goes without saying that i am completely opposed to and disturbed by the US buying off regimes (Arab states and Israel and anywhere else) with aid money

    Yet you advocate a position that–whatever your intentions–will undoubtedly lead to the US buying off the Assad regime.

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t argue that you are for a peace that is more than just the absence of war, and that the US should not buy off client-governments . . . . and at the same time argue for an Israeli-Syrian treaty, which will do just what you say you’re against–it will lead to the codification of the absence of war between Syria and Israel and in the process the US will buy the Assad regime as a new, “moderate,” client.

    I’ll let you have the last word, if you’d like … .


    Jonathan1 · February 10th, 2011 at 4:03 pm
  46. in general- a lot of people write about how the Israeli- Palestinian conflict has been a very stabilizing force for most autocratic Arab governemnts— deflecting all criticism and inner processes against the Zionist and etc etc…
    just pointing out something i’ve seen in many a political rag….


    david · February 10th, 2011 at 6:41 pm
  47. actually i can believe that there can be a peace treaty without us interference. will it happen? god willing. do i expect it to? hopefully once the us crashes more, which i think it will. there won’t be money for israel or egypt or syria or jordan or whoever. that’s my opinion. and you can have the last word :)


    justin · February 10th, 2011 at 9:39 pm

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