Monday, November 21, 2011

Richman - The Unmaking of Palestine

Rick Richman
20 November '11

In today’s New York Times Book Review, Jeffrey Goldberg reviews Gershom Gorenberg’s The Unmaking of Israel (which is also reviewed at American Thinker today by Jerold S. Auerbach). Goldberg notes several issues that Gorenberg, “like many on the left, pays scant attention” to:

…the Arab states that provoked the Six-Day War and then, after their defeat, remained defiant and mainly uninterested in a quick exchange of territory for recognition of Israel. Nor does Gorenberg waste much ink crediting various Israeli governments with trying, over the years, to reach an equitable arrangement with the Palestinians … Nor does he grapple in any serious way with a subject of some relevance — the civil war among Palestinians …. Moreover, the corrosive anti-Semitism that long ago infected parts of the Palestinian polity (not to mention other parts of the Muslim world) is dismissed rather blithely.

Goldberg nevertheless concludes: “Still, it is the Jews who created many of the problems the Jewish state faces today, and it is Jews who must fix them.” He describes as reasonable the suggestions to “disentangle religion from the state” and “return thousands of settlers to Israel proper” — but suggests Israelis may not be ready to adopt them.

Maybe that is because the latter step was already tried in Gaza and did not work out so well. Perhaps there is an even more reasonable requirement: if Arabs can be 20 percent of the Jewish state, there is no reason Jews cannot be a single-digit percentage of a Palestinian one – and Palestinian willingness to accept that fact may be the best way to judge their readiness for a state.

As for the entanglement of Judaism with the Jewish state, one rarely hears of the need to disentangle Islam from a Palestinian state, and one suspects a greater problem is the entanglement of anti-Semitism in the Palestinian national project. As Ruth Wisse notes in “The Suicidal Passion,” her important essay in the November 21 issue of The Weekly Standard:

Arab leaders do not yet acknowledge that they sealed the doom of their societies in 1948 when they organized their politics against the Jewish state rather than toward the improvement of their countries. … Whereas Europeans were jolted by revelations of what came to be known as the Holocaust into awareness of the ruin anti-Semitism had wrought, Arab leaders saw in the Jews the same political opportunities that had enticed Germany. Anti-Semitism was the European ideology most eagerly imported and adapted to the Middle East.

That resulted in problems that, because they were created by Arabs, must be fixed by them.

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