Means and Ends

A growing number of Israeli figures, including most recently Ehud Barak, have been acknowledging the untenable nature of the status quo. But few people in the Israeli political mainstream seem interested in articulating policies that fit their diagnosis. As Daniel Levy comments:

They show realist tendencies, but there is a powerful disconnect (one that was pervasive in Barak’s speech) between most of this camp’s diagnosis of the situation (an “end of the world as we know it” threat of apartheid or binationalism) and their prescription for addressing it: resume negotiations, blame the Palestinians, more of the same. It’s like telling someone they have life-threatening yet treatable cancer and prescribing two aspirins a day.

If the situation is so dire, then bolder steps are surely called for.

You see, of course, something similar in the debate among American Jews. To acknowledge in some abstract sense the need for Israel to un-settle the West Bank and retreat to morally, politically, and demographically defensible borders that leave space for a viable independent Palestine is commonplace. But many people are very uncomfortable with the idea that US policy should do anything about the situation, with the idea that the conflict has any broader negative consequences for the United States, or with anyone (and especially non-Jews) offering any rhetorically strong criticisms of Israeli conduct or questioning the good-faith of Israeli officials.