Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Four Choices

Juan Cole had a post up the other day referencing a speech given at the Palestine Center in Washington, D.C., by Professor John J. Mearsheimer, a commentator on the influence of the Israel Lobby on American politics (see his book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy ). As can be imagined, anyone who focuses attention on the actions of such a group comes under vitriolic criticism. But that is another story. What I wanted to comment on here is the four scenarios that Mearsheimer outlines in his speech as to the possible outcomes in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

As a preamble, Mearsheimer defines Greater Israel as all the land from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean. This encompasses the West Bank, current Israel, all of Jerusalem and Gaza.
From here:

1. The first outcome would be that desired by most Palestinians (though he does remark on the lack of agreement amongst the Palestinians themselves both as to what would be acceptable in a settlement and who speaks for them). This outcome would the the much discussed "Two State Solution." In order to accomplish this, Israel would have to withdraw basically to its 1967 borders and Palestine would have its capitol in Jerusalem. Furthermore the new Palestine would have to have governmental autonomy with sovereignty of its land and airspace. I will forego discussion of the ramifications of this possible outcomes but one can imagine that this would not, under any circumstances, be acceptable to the current government (and population) of Israel. In consequence, the probability of this course is minimal.

2. The second outcome would be very odious. It would involve Israel, on some pretext related to terrorism, to remove Arabs from Israel proper and the occupied territories to "somewhere else." Quite frankly, this would be ethnic cleansing. Israel has already made some moves in this direction by passing a law enabling it, in its own eyes, to expel certain Palestinians from the West Bank. However, the tolerance of World opinion (except the United States) would be exceedingly low and it is hard to see how Israel could accomplish this without widespread bloodshed. Interestingly enough, this is the outcome most desired by the American Christian Zionists, a surprisingly influential segment of our population. The reason has nothing to do with the Israeli Jews, who would suffer a not nice outcome, but because this would usher in the "end times" of Revelation.

3. The third outcome is, in my mind, would the the fairest for both Israeli and Palestinians. It would involve Greater Israel to evolve rapidly into a single country composed of both Arabs and Jews. Because of the demographics, politics would be dominated by Arabs and government would, by necessity, be secular. The Palestinians have a history of secular governments, though militant Islam is always a threat. It is almost impossible to conceive of Israeli Jews, particularly the Zionists, accepting this development. Of interest in this scenario is the position of the ultra orthodox Jews in Israel because of their high birth rate. Apparently, a female of this persuasion will have between seven and eight babies in their reproductive years. Mearsheimer states that the first grades of Israeli schools are composed of 50% of a combination of Palestinians and ultra orthodox Jews.

4. The fourth outcome, which Mearsheimer thinks is the most likely, is the evolution of the current situation on the West Bank with settlers taking over increasing territory and forcing Palestinians into isolated enclaves or Bantustans, effectively converting Greater Israel into an Apartheid State. In order to preserve the position of Jews and the vision of Zionism, Palestinians would be relegated to closely controlled areas (as they are now. for an excellent first hand view of this see here) and there would be continued pressure on them to "go elsewhere." While this out might have some short term survival, in the end, it will ultimately break down, as it did in South Africa, though given the history of the Middle East this breakdown is much more likely to be violent. As mentioned above, it is this outcome that Mearsheimer thinks to be the most likely.

I think that this analysis, while individual points might be questioned or disputed, sums up in a general way the situation in that small area of the World is going. Small, but of of incredible importance. Again, my own worry is that Israel possesses nuclear weapons and while it has not used them to date, I am sure it would have no compunction to do so if it felt "threatened." Since there is, at the moment, no other nuclear state in the region, in spite of all of Obama's efforts, it is only a matter of time before Iran produces a bomb to counter Israel's threat. I would assume that Iran's science is far superior to that of North Korea. That it does not at the moment possess enough fissionable Uranium (we think) is of no consequence. If Iran feels sufficiently thwarted, they will produce it. The continued intransigence of the United States and Israel to a reasonable solution to the Israeli/Palestine conflict (not to forget the 8 years of negligence under Bush II) may well be the prime motivator for Iranian nuclear proliferation.

1 comment:

Montag said...

Thank you for this post. An important post describing an important issue.

I've always thought this situation was the Canary in the Coal Mine for the West...
if after 60 + years you can't solve this question, you probably can't solve anything of great import any more.