Thursday, June 09, 2016

Yes, Morally Obtuse Doves Can Fly

Ilana Dayan, a talented dovish advocacy journalist and an intellectual in her own right, interviewed Tel Aviv-Jaffa's pugnacious, dovish, Labor Party Mayor Ron Huldai on Army Radio Thursday morning. 

Before entering political life, Huldai spent 26 years in the Israeli Air Force. He also picked up an undergraduate degree in history from Tel Aviv University.

Dove-to-dove, Dayan egged Huldai on and His Honor, on the face of it, relished the opportunity to be goaded.

She asked him what he thought of the nutter talk-backers who (she reported) expressed happiness that "left-wing" Tel Aviv took a terror hit.

That gave Huldai the opening to blame the "occupation" for Wednesday night's terror attack that took four lives…

“We might be the only country in the world where another nation is under occupation without civil rights. You can’t hold people in a situation of occupation and hope they’ll reach the conclusion everything is alright....

“The problem is that when there is no terrorism, no one talks about [the occupation... We are 49 years into an occupation that I was a participant in...

“We need to show to our neighbors that we really intend to return to reality, to a Jewish state that is smaller but that has a solid Jewish majority..."

From the perspective of the "other nation," the "occupation" is not 49 years old – it is over 100 years old. 

Our neighbors don't want a "solid Jewish majority" in a truncated Israel. They want "Palestine." Full stop.

They see the return of the Jews in large numbers as the "original sin" of the Zionists.

They have no interest in "final status arrangements."

The "other nation" has been engaged in a zero-sum conflict with Zionism since 1917, at least. 

The "other nation" opposed the settlement of Tel Aviv in 1909. It still does. 

It rejects the right of the state of the Jewish people to exist anywhere in the Middle East. Always has. 

The most moderate leader of the "other nation," Mahmud Abbas, refuses to accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state.

The Arabs' most forthcoming peace offer (The Arab Peace Initiative) is a Trojan Horse.

The "other nation" has rejected endless opportunities at compromise. It has rejected a Palestinian Arab state time and again (starting in 1948) because the price included acknowledging the right of a Jewish state too.

The Palestinian Arabs have made a fetish of victimization. They have made themselves permanent refugees. They have raised new generations on hate meshed with Muslim fanaticism.

They have closed their minds and hardened their hearts. 

They have no interest in compromise that leaves us standing. 

The "other nation" fought Israel, boycotted Israel, divested from Israel, sanctioned Israel -- when the Arabs controlled the West Bank and Gaza;  when the Arabs dominated east Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount. Did the years 1949-1967 vanish from the collective memory.

But even if the mayor, his history degree notwithstanding, knows none of this – why would he willfully make such despicable, divisive, and inopportune polemical statements while the murdered had yet to be buried. 

What possess such revolting "blind dove" smugness?

And, no, the Arab-Israel dispute –which Huldai claims is about the West Bank "occupation"  -- is not the "only" conflict in the world. 

Here is a list of hundreds upon hundreds others many involving "occupations" real and imagined.

Anyway, how Jews can be said to "occupy" Judea and Samaria is beyond my ken. Perhaps the Arabs feel occupied. But the land is liberated. We have to bridge that gap but that requires good will on both sides.

We Israeli Jews are not pure as the driven snow.  It is fashionable to argue for territorial compromise --though to do so one would have to be oblivious to what's going on around us. It is acceptable to criticize Netanyahu government policies. I do it all the time. And yes, some Israelis have become corrupted, chauvinistic, and fanatical -- almost indistinguishable from "the other nation."

And yet... and yet, it is undeniable that the overwhelming responsibility for the Arab – Israel conflict rests with the Arabs. It always has.

Arab intransigence, rejectionism, and violence (like last night's) has done Palestinian Arabs lasting harm. They mean to kill Jews but the collateral damage is their own future. Their own souls.

For all these reasons, it is hard to respect Huldai's views so ineptly, callously, and heartlessly articulated at the worst possible time. 

It would be so if the blind doves knew what they were talking about. It is all the more painful because the arguments they make are --let's be frank -- void of merit.

In Gaza, Palestinian Arabs could have built a Singapore on the Mediterranean. Instead they build death-tunnels and frontally embrace extreme Islam. 

In the West Bank, the international community has invested, billions upon billions of dollars on Palestinian development with not much to show for it.

How many years will the "occupation" be blamed for the Palestinian failure to develop political institutions?  We want them to. We need them to. They just can't manage it.

Look at all the EU money invested in inculcating tolerance and how little there is to show for it.

If anyone wants to end the "occupation" how about showing up at the negotiating table? 

More than their moral obtusenes, the timing, Dr. Ilana Dayan, the timing, Mayor Ron Huldai-- was so off.

Have you no shame?

Friday, June 03, 2016

The Political Golden Mean

Political moderation is fostered by limiting direct democracy and bolstering representative government. 

That was James Madison's model of democracy. 

Take human nature into account and design a system that champions tolerance, minority rights, and blocks political lurching.

It is an imperfect system but better than all others.

Alas, 50+ years of political party reform leading to hyper- democratization, decades of shock radio, the it-is-what-it-is reality of social media, has empowered folks who really should stay home with their six-packs and watch Extreme Sports on television.

The jinni can't be put back in the bottle. But can a Madisonian political framework be configured to meet today's realities?

US voters face an unenviable choice between Trump, Clinton (maybe Sanders) and the Gary (who?) Johnson. 

All are deeply flawed candidates.  

When an electoral system tells you this is the best America can do -- fix the system!

America needs to do better.

I am dismayed by Republican worthies like Paul Ryan and GOP mega-donors like Sheldon Adelson lining up behind Trump.

As Charles Murray wrote definitively recently in The National Review:

"Donald Trump is unfit to be president in ways that apply to no other candidate of the two major political parties throughout American history."

Trump make America great again? I don't think so.

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