Archive for June, 2009

Unnatural Growth and the Folly of Tony Judt

June 22, 2009

In my latest piece for Zeek magazine, I take on the absurd argument for granting exceptions for “natural growth” in a settlement freeze. I also discuss what it will take for President Obama to take such a freeze and make it something significant in the long term. This is crucial, because there is a serious danger that all a freeze will be is a brief stoppage in construction, causing a lot of tension between the US and Israel, expending a great deal of political capital and

Areas of settlement jurisdiction, courtesy of BTselem

Areas of settlement jurisdiction, courtesy of B'Tselem. Area within the municipal boundary Area within the borders of the Regional Councils

ending up with little gain.

But I want to mention one more point. In today’s New York Times, British historian Tony Judt, who has come under frequent criticism for his support for a single state solution in Israel-Palestine, has an op-ed arguing that Israel will not remove any settlements, ever and a freeze is in fact a defeat for American efforts for peace.

I don’t want to spend much time deconstructing Judt’s argument. He’s made some interesting ones in the past, but this one is pretty weak. The op-ed betrays a lack of understanding of modern Israel (Judt seems stuck in an image of Israel that is nearly 50 years out of date), and of the settlement issue. Judt uses Ma’ale Adumim as emblematic of settlements and why they will not be removed.

And here is the point. Ma’ale Adumim, like Ariel and the Gush Etzion region are the built-up “blocs” that are generally referred to as possibly remaining in Israeli hands in the event of a peace deal. Gush Etzion is both the most likely to remain Israeli and the least problematic geographically. Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim both extend well into the West Bank and it will take some creativity to figure out how to reconcile a contiguous and viable Palestinian state with those settlements becoming part of Israel. (more…)

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A new and really important book

June 1, 2009

Dan Fleshler is a veteran of the mainstream Jewish community and the pro-Israel, pro-peace world as well. He has written a book that everyone concerned about US Middle East policy and how to change it should read. It’s called Transforming America’s Israel Lobby: The Limits of Its Power and the Potential For Change.

I review it here for Zeek Magazine.

This is one of the most important books out there. Not only because it is a much fuller and more sober exposition of the “Israel Lobby” than anything else out there, but also because it is not merely academic–it also suggests how a peace lobby might be built.

I hope you’ll read mu review, but even more, I hope you’ll buy this book. I rarely act as a salesman for anyone, but this time, it’s really worth it.