Thursday, May 28, 2020

Yale Zussman's Latest Recommendations May 28, 2020

Hi Folks,

Here are my latest recommendations for following the issues of the Middle East.  There is no coverage of Israel's internal politics, which can require daily updates.  Rather, the focus is on looking back and looking forward, and some clues that the future may look better than the present.

Israel-China Ties: The ‘Sticking Point’ with the US?
JULY 11, 2019

Note the date.  SARS-COV-2 will complicate this situation even further because Chinese aid includes large numbers of Chinese nationals coming and going on a fairly regular basis. It is believed that this is how the virus came to Iran.
San Remo: The original ‘deal of the century’
April 26, 2020

Contrasts the visions of the San Remo agreement, the 1947 Partition resolution, and current discussion about a "Two-state" solution.
Saudi Opposition to a Palestinian State
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
May 17, 2020

The Saudi leadership and public are largely fed up with the Palestinians, and have moved on.
Israel’s Control of Judea & Samaria -- a Prerequisite for Security
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
May 21, 2020

Provides a strategic rationale for Israeli annexation of certain parts of Judea and Samaria.
Israel: The Settlements Are Not Illegal
The annexation of lands in Judea and Samaria is not contrary to international law
by Michael Calvo
May 19, 2020

Focuses on the political and propagandistic claims about settlements rather than the actual legal issues.  (The article of the Geneva Convention generally cited as prohibiting the settlements actually addresses establishing concentration camps in occupied territories.  Also included in the Convention are sections seeking to enable commerce to continue during wartime.  There is no section addressing real estate deals, which is basically what the settlement issue is about, i.e., international law doesn't address the issue at all.)
Video on life in Gaza

It's not a ZOOM, thank G-d, but may be useful as background material.

Moadim L'Simcha to my Jewish readers,

Until next time, stay safe, stay well,


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Do people really support the "two-state solution?"

Do people really support the "two-state solution?"

The Forward recently published an op-ed by Brad Brooks-Rubin with the title "If Israel proceeds with annexation, American Jews will socially distance - from Israel."  It contained the commonly made but actually meaningless assertion "American Jews overwhelmingly support a two-state solution." Meaningless for many reasons, only one of which is that what's called a "two-state solution" isn't actually a two-state solution. I responded with the following letter. If The Forward actually publishes it, I will modify this post to so indicate.

Re If Israel proceeds with annexation, American Jews will socially distance - from Israel

As an introductory observation, any Jews who "socially distance" from Israel because the Jewish state annexes some of the disputed territory did not have any strong connection to Israel in the first place and their action is more a reflection of the failure of the organized American Jewish community than of any reasoned, informed reaction to what Israel may have done.

It should also be noted that, although it's commonly used even by its proponents, the term annexation is inappropriate, since under the principle of international law known as "uti possidetis juris," all the currently disputed territory fell within Israel's legal borders when Ben Gurion proclaimed Israel's independence in 1948.

The assertion in Brad Brooks-Rubin's op-ed that what he calls annexation would "end any prospects for peace" is patently absurd.

Currently, there are no prospects for peace, because not only does the Palestinian Arab leadership show no interest, but it has asserted it will never again negotiate directly with Israel. Obviously, there can't be peace without such negotiations. One can't end prospects for peace when none exist.

If the Palestinian Arabs reverse themselves and, for the first time in their short history, decide to seriously consider making peace, "annexation" won't be a serious issue. Israel "annexed" Jerusalem, but that didn't stop Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert from offering much of it to the Palestinian Arabs. Similarly, Israel "annexed" its portion of the Golan Heights, but that didn't stop several prime ministers from offering all of it to Syria. And, of course, Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria during the period it occupied it and that obviously made no difference.

Finally, I must comment on the absurdity of the meaningless statement "American Jews overwhelmingly support a two-state solution."

American Jews, like Israeli Jews, overwhelmingly support peace.

To the best of my knowledge, no reliable survey has ever been taken asking whether American Jews, or Israeli Jews, want a Palestinian Arab state or under what conditions they would agree to a Palestinian Arab state.

To even speak of a "two-state solution" is an exercise in taking advantage of ignorance, given that there are already two states in historic Palestine, with the Arab state, now called Jordan, comprising more than three-quarters of it. Thus, taken literally, a "two-state solution" would not include the creation of an additional Arab state; it would really entail a partition of the disputed territories, including Judea, Samaria and Gaza, into Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

Put another way, those who literally support a "two-state solution" actually oppose what's usually but incorrectly called a "two-state solution."

What Brooks-Rubin really means when he writes "American Jews overwhelmingly support a two-state solution" is that American Jews overwhelmingly support the establishment of second Arab state in Palestine, in part or all of the disputed territories. But even that is nonsensical, since there's a huge difference between supporting the establishment of such a state under current conditions, which would create a state dedicated to the destruction of Israel, or under reasonable conditions at some future time under the assumption the Arabs will be willing to live peacefully. Support would obviously also depend on the division of the disputed territory. How many would support Israel giving up the Old City, including the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism? How many would support withdrawing from the settlement blocs, either forcing hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes or forcing them to live under a Palestinian Arab government which would turn them into dhimmis?

Even among those who might say they would support such a solution, is it one they would support enthusiastically, or is it one they would reluctantly accept while believing a far better outcome should have been achieved?

Brooks-Rubin begins by explaining he "recently participated in a conversation about Israel with a group of five very thoughtful 20-something Jews."

If these obvious questions, and others, such as is there anything Israel can do to help bring about the revolutionary change in Palestinian Arab society needed before any peace becomes possible, weren't discussed, then that conversation wasn't a very thoughtful one.


Alan Stein
Netanya, Israel and Natick, Massachusetts