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Goldberg: The Middle East Is Complicated and It’s All the Arabs’ Fault

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Goldberg: The Middle East Is Complicated and It’s All the Arabs’ Fault"

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House of the Soviets, Kaliningrad

House of the Soviets, Kaliningrad

The latest twists and turns in the Israeli-Arab conflict have left me depressed, and I don’t really want to think or write about it. I do, however, like making fun of Jeffrey Goldberg so let’s raise a cheer to this nice catch from Spencer Ackerman. Goldberg, very upset at Andrew Sullivan, ends one paragraph with the observation that “All that happens today flows from the original Arab decision to reject totally the idea that Jews are deserving of a state in part of their historic homeland.” And then the very next sentence he writes is this:

I dont know why Andrew refuses to admit that Middle East history is complicated.

I don’t know either!

For the record, it is complicated. It does today seem like if you could go back in time and persuade the Arabs to accept the original UN partition plan, that contemporary Palestinians would be much better off. But what’s the cash value of this with regard to a humanitarian crisis in the contemporary Gaza Strip? And of course once you’re just constructing pure counterfactuals, all kinds of ways to postulate a better outcome become plausible. What if a Jewish homeland had been created in the former German territory in and around Königsberg rather than it having been turned into a Russian exclave? What about Sitka? I think these are interesting questions, but they don’t tell us much about what to do today.

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