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What Netanyahu should propose to bring peace

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attending a news conference in Tel Aviv on July 28, 2014.

I am heartbroken by the bloodshed in Gaza. I will risk the ire of some by acknowledging that I personally assign much more of the blame for it to Hamas than to the government of Israel. But, as a late friend of mine liked to say, blame is for God and little children.

What the larger situation calls for (stop me if this is blitheringly obvious) is some serious, steady peacemaking. Personally, I have not always viewed Benjamin Netanyahu as the guy who would make the peace that the situation has needed for many decades. But in the hope that I’m wrong about Netanyahu, and because I earnestly wish for someone to do something to turn the recent, and recently paused, bloodshed into a peacemaking opportunity, I wrote up a few remarks that I wish Prime Minister Netanyahu would deliver:

I would like to address my remarks to Israelis, to our Arab neighbors, especially the Palestinians, and to the world, especially those in the world who will be skeptical of the sincerity of my next two sentences.

Israel wants peace. I want peace.

The government that I lead wants peace. And we know that peace means a two-state solution. To be even more explicit, peace means a sovereign state for the Palestinian people, alongside of which we Israelis hope to live in peace as long as that Palestinian state is prepared to accept the existence of the state of Israel within permanent, defined borders, and live in peace alongside of us.

Therefore, I announce today that Israel will put in place an immediate halt to the expansion of any West Bank settlements outside of several settlement blocs that the parties agree will remain a part of Israel after the creation of the future Palestinian state.

I say this now, knowing that some will doubt my sincerity and understanding why they will doubt it. I am a man of the political right. My political party has generally been viewed as hawkish and relatively unsympathetic to the Palestinian desire for a sovereign state of their own. My own father, whose memory I cherish, was a figure of the so-called “revisionist” movement within Zionism, which generally rejected the idea of a two-state solution.

My own career as prime minister has included the use of violence against Palestinians, and has included failed efforts to seek a peace agreement with the Palestinians of the West Bank. Surely, some who hear my words today will remain skeptical, believing that if I really wanted peace, I could have had it.  

I ask for a momentary suspension of your skepticism. I know it is difficult, but I ask skeptics to open your minds to the possibility that the killing of civilians during the recent Israeli military actions in Gaza was deeply painful to most Israelis and to me personally. We wish it could have been avoided. Consistent with the need I felt to protect Israeli lives from Hamas actions, and the actions Hamas took that put their civilians into harm’s way, we tried to minimize the killing of innocents. We welcome the latest ceasefire and hope it becomes permanent, although the world must understand that Israel, as any state in the world, cannot be asked to tolerate rocket attacks aimed at its cities.

We also hope peace negotiations with our partner, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, can resume soon. I am ready to resume them with no preconditions, as soon as President Abbas is willing and able.

But, of course, as I already said, I understand the skepticism. And I understand that that skepticism of whether I personally am prepared to make peace is supported by the continued expansion of settlements that will have to be removed to make the two-state solution practical. And that is why I make the pledge to permanently stop expanding those settlements.

To clarify briefly for those who do not follow the details of past negotiations: There is only one seriously imaginable peace plan that matches where we are now. All of the West Bank, minus the settlement blocs near the pre-1967 borders, must become part of the Palestinian state. Israel must cede other lands, contiguous to the current West Bank boundaries, of equal size to offset the settlement blocs. The settlements that are now deeper within the West Bank will have to be within the Palestinian state. Israelis who live in those settlements now will have to move to homes in Israel unless they prefer to live under Palestinian rule and the Palestinian state allows them to stay.

And yet, during my prime ministership, Israel has expanded those settlements and started new settlements. I understand why skeptical Palestinians and reasonable observers elsewhere in the world would take the expansion of those settlements to be a sign that Israel does not really plan on allowing a viable Palestinian state to come into existence. And so today, understanding that many in the world are more skeptical than ever that Israel is willing to make peace and allow for the creation of a Palestinian state, I promise, unilaterally and not in exchange for any concession from President Abbas, that we will stop expanding those settlements. And I affirm to those living in those settlements now that they will someday have to move their homes when a two-state solution is negotiated, which I hope it soon will be.

Within the context of Israeli coalition politics, this announcement may cost me. But that’s nothing serious at a time like the present.

My announcement is not a concession to Hamas. Israel will not make military or territorial concessions to an organization that is deeply and unalterably committed to Israel’s ultimate destruction. That is not negotiable and never will be. In order for the territory of Gaza and the population of Gaza to someday enjoy the benefits of Palestinian statehood, the people of Gaza will need to follow different leadership.

I am not under the illusion that this pledge I make today to stop settlement expansion guarantees an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. There are other issues to resolve. Recent events make it clearer than ever that we Israelis live within bombing distance of enemies who still want to destroy us. It may be difficult to reach an agreement, even with President Abbas, that strikes the right balance between his expectation of true sovereignty in a Palestinian state and Israel’s vital and legitimate defense needs. But we must keep trying to find it.

As I have acknowledged today the skepticism that many feel toward the sincerity of my commitment to peace, I ask our once and future Palestinian negotiating partners, and the rest of the world, to consider the skepticism with which  many Israelis view the idea of a true, enduring willingness of our neighbors to accept the existence of our state within the region.

We have a sad and serious situation in Gaza. My statement today will not fix it. It is possible to hope and perhaps even to believe that if President Abbas and I can make progress toward a two-state solution, and if the people of Gaza see their countrymen and women in the West Bank enjoying the benefits of progress toward peace and sovereignty, the Gazans will find a way to get in on that action, a way that leaves Hamas and bloodshed behind.

Comments (69)

  1. Submitted by Ray Marshall on 08/06/2014 - 09:18 am.

    A Two State Solution?

    There is no way that Muslims would accept a “two state solution. ” They take their marching orders from the Koran and thatcalls for spreading Islam over the entire world. And they have a lot of patience. They’ve been waiting for 700 years and now that they have money (American money), they are moving into high gear.

    The only thing that will slow them down is the 700 year old dispute between the Sunnis and the Shiites as to who will head the next Caliphate.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/06/2014 - 10:03 am.

    Two question quiz for the class.

    1. What would happen if Hamas laid down it’s weapons?

    2. What would happen if Israel laid down it’s weapons?

    A1. Peace

    A2. The systematic and complete slaughter of every Israeli man, woman and child.

    End of today’s lesson, everyone is dismissed; Eric, please stay. You have work to do.

    • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 08/06/2014 - 11:27 am.


      1. More Settlements. (think West Bank)
      2. Even More Settlements. (Avigdor Liebermans dream come true. All Palestinians give up and move elsewhere).

  3. Submitted by Paul Scott on 08/06/2014 - 10:29 am.

    This is apologism

    A more concise speech would go like this: “I have destroyed on false or exaggerated pretense and with political cowardice a region filled with children and under blockade — an open-air prison of our making — and in the process, extracting civilian casualties of my enemy on a scale that can only be described as terrorism. In doing this I have elevated my popularity at the polls yet brought shame to my country in the eyes of the civilized world that is not under the spell of the American press, including the editors of the Lancet. I resign and beg your forgiveness.”

  4. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 08/06/2014 - 10:51 am.


    Is there any reason to think that a freeze (or retrenchment) on settlements would actually create a peaceful Hamas?

    • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 08/06/2014 - 10:28 pm.

      As soon as Hamas was willing to cede power

      Netenyahu attacked. Do you really believe any Israeli leader would test that concept. No. Why ? Because it may actually work.

      Easier to create an endless lists of “terrorists” to justify endless occupation. So easy. Especially when u have AIPAC to cover for you.

      • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 08/07/2014 - 10:24 pm.


        I’m not really sure what would cause an Israeli leader to test the concept of stopping or eliminating settlements. I notice that you made absolutely no attempt whatsoever to answer my question however. So let me state it more simply. Raj, what events, in your opinion, would make for a peaceful Hamas?

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/06/2014 - 10:54 am.

    When the Meshiach comes

    Before then I’m not optimistic.

    This whole mess started in 1924 with drastic restrictions on the number of Jews (and other Central and East Europeans) who could emigrate to the United States. Roosevelt maintained these restrictions.
    Had they not been in place, most Polish/Russian Jews (from what was know as “The Pale of Settlement”) who have emigrated to the United States, not to Palestine (if you had a choice, where would -you- go?). Palestine would have remained an Arab state with a strong Jewish minority; what it had been for centuries.

    The Gazans are the descendents of the Arab inhabitants of what is now Israel.

    The final nail in the coffin of peace was the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in WWI. The British promised the same land to both Arabs and Jews in order to get their support; we are living with that mess to this day.
    At this point there is one piece of land and two groups that have justifiable claims on it.

    A two state solution is:
    1. The only one possible.
    2. Unacceptable in the long term to both sides.

  6. Submitted by Amy Farland on 08/06/2014 - 11:15 am.

    The Real Netanyahu

    oh, and by the way, Hamas did not kill those kids. And the Israeli government knew that from the beginning. But 1,900 dead palestinians later ….. please.

  7. Submitted by Amy Farland on 08/06/2014 - 11:19 am.


    1900 dead and wounded, including over 350 children — 80% civilians

  8. Submitted by Amy Farland on 08/06/2014 - 11:31 am.

    Israel’s Obligations under International Law

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/06/2014 - 12:10 pm.


      I read your link, and found it to be completely counter-productive. Its statements like this that make me think this will never get solved:

      “The rockets fired by Palestinian factions from Gaza must thus be construed as acts of resistance of an occupied people and an assertion of its recognized right to self-determination.”

      The reality is that whatever you want to construe the rockets as, all they do is keep people like Netanyahu in power and give cover for Israel to use military force.

      If you are unwilling to condemn violence by both sides, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

      • Submitted by Amy Farland on 08/06/2014 - 12:38 pm.


        Please do me the honor of not insulting me with an equivalency argument. 28 deaths due to rockets over 13 years… 25% of which could possibly be attributed to Hamas.

        Resistance is the only option open. The current Israeli government is actively discussing a ‘final solution’ and the annihalation of the Palestinians. And it has the 4th largest military and weaponry from the US to back up those threats. Israelis sit on the hill and cheer as Israel bombs away.

        65% of the Palestinian children are malnourshed. It is only Hamas that provides hospitals and doctors. But no media in the US will tell you that. It is Hamas that is feeding these kids while Israel counts Palestinian calories and gives them just enough food to survive, barely.

        There is no equivalency. And all of the ceasefire conditions have offered the Palestinians nothing but a return to the status quo prior to the shelling. No rebuilding. No end to the blockade. Oh, and they are supposed to completely disarm as well. (somehow that reminds me of what a certain minority dealt with in a certain European country some 70 years ago.)

        • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/06/2014 - 01:06 pm.


          I didn’t say that there was equivalence here. I fully acknowledge that far more Palestintians have been killed than Israelis. I fully acknolwedge that Israel is far superior militarily and economically. I think what Israel is doing right now is absolutely horrible.

          My point is simply that you can’t claim to be interested in peace and support/excuse terror acts by the Palestinians. Shooting rockets into Israel isn’t resistance. Its just egging on the hardliners in Israel and turning the world against the Palestinians. If you are unwilling to condemn both Israeli military action AND the rocket attacks, you really aren’t interested in peace and justice for the Palestinians.

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/06/2014 - 02:35 pm.

          The Israelies are very efficient counter-punchers, no doubt. But pointing out the Palestinians couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a bale of hay isn’t much of a sympathy grabber; at least for me.

  9. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/06/2014 - 11:58 am.


    The problem is that neither the current leaders of Israel or of the Gaza Palestinians is interested in peace, or more specifically, making the kind of compromises that are required to achieve peace.

    Netanyahu will never say what you propose because he doesn’t believe it. Prior Israeli leaders might (and to some extent, have) but the people of Israel put Netanyahu in power. And Hamas is still stuck on the destruction of Israel and digging tunnels and firing rockets, which accomplishes nothing other than convincing Israelis that otherwise might be interested in peace and compromise to prioritize their own security and vote for Netanyahu’s party.

    Nothing meaningful will happen with the current leadership. Israel is a democracy and can (and has) elected leaders from different parties with different approaches to the Palestinians. But again, with rockets being launched into Israel, the political will isn’t there. People are fond of pointing out that the rockets are not very effective, and that is true in the sense that they don’t kill many people. But they have a tremendous psychological effect on the people who have to go into shelters to hide from them.

    In theory, Gaza has a democratic system, albeit one where the winning party (Hamas) murders its political opponents. I don’t know that the political infrastructure really exists for the people of Gaza to replace Hamas.

    People sometimes compare the situation in Gaza to Apartheid in South Africa. I won’t wade too far into that comparison, other than to say that like South Africa, the Palestinians need a Mandela. The Hamas approach does nothing but give cover for Israeli military action. Nonviolent resistance might make a difference, though. It worked for Mandela. And Gandhi. And King.

    Or we can just demonize one side or the other like the s**t show of comments to this piece are doing.

    • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 08/06/2014 - 01:48 pm.

      Mandela or Lincoln

      Do Palestinains need a Mandela. Or do Israelis need a Lincoln.

      There were large stretches of time when the Palestinians were relatively peacefull. And what did Israel do. Just keep building settlements. Just like the West Bank today. And we’re told that Palestinians need a Mandela. At some point people want to fight back. And Israel knows that. And exploits that. To build more settlements.

      “Let us not today fling accusation at the murderers. What cause have we to complain about their fierce hatred to us? For eight years now, they sit in their refugee camps in Gaza, and before their eyes we turn into our homestead the land and villages in which they and their forefathers have lived.” Moshe Dayan.

      Israel and Americans need a tell them to stop screwing over the Palestinians. A Palestinian Mandela would be labelled a terrorist. Oh wait. We did that to the real Mandela.

      • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/06/2014 - 02:22 pm.

        Mandela was indeed called a terrorist. And he was locked up for years. And people tried to discredit and kill him. Yet he never wavered, and eventually he freed his country.

        Israel does need a Lincoln. And is has had leaders who were interested in peace, at least more so than Netanyahu. Ehud Barack worked hard for an agreement, and ultimately it was Arafat who balked. Giving control of Gaza and evacuating the Israeli settlers who lived there was an attempt at moving things in the right direction. But the rocket attacks ensure that Israelis will get Netanyahus and not Lincolns.

        • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 08/06/2014 - 02:33 pm.

          Mandela Was Effective ?

          Mandela and Gandhi were effective only when their powerful occupiers blinked and or had a Lincoln moment. Else they were just noise which in todays Israel could be countered with equal noise thanks to AIPAC and other perma-vicitim organization.s

          “Giving control of Gaza and evacuating the Israeli settlers who lived there was an attempt at moving things in the right direction”

          I guess you missed the following news articles in the past.

          a) “”The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process,” Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s senior adviser Dov Weisglass has told Haaretz.

          “And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.”” — Haaretz

          b) “Israel told U.S. officials in 2008 it would keep Gaza’s economy “on the brink of collapse” while avoiding a humanitarian crisis, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by a Norwegian daily on Wednesday.” — Haaretz

          Still want the rest of us to beleive that Gaza withdrawal was for peace, love and fresh air ?

          • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/06/2014 - 03:52 pm.


            I do think Mandela and Gandhi were very effective. And their occupiers did blink, but only blinked because of the pressure created by Mandela and Gandhi. What they did was create sympathy for their causes and shamed their oppressors. Hamas’s terrorism – and launching rockets into residential neighborhoods is terrorism – does the opposite. It creates sympathy for Israel and justifies Israel’s military action. It gives Israel a reason not to blink.

            I didn’t say the Gaza withdrawal was for peace, love and fresh air. But I continue to maintain that it was intended to be, and actually was, a step in the right direction. If you have read the entire Weislass interview, you would see its a little more nuanced in its entirety than the quotes you provide. Sharon also distanced himself from what Weisglass said. You also have to remember that the Gaza pullout was vehemently opposed by Netanyahu and that some of the Israeli settlers in Gaza had to be forcibly removed. And even if the pullout was motivated by pure malice and not peace, love and fresh air, withdrawing settlers (as opposed to building new settlements) and giving the Palestinians more autonomy was a good thing.

            • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 08/06/2014 - 04:39 pm.

              Sympathy For Palestinians

              Remove the United States veto in the United Nations and the Palestinians will have their state in less than a year. Every vote in the UN has proven that. Israel has the trump card (the veto). World sympathy counts for nothing.

              The Gaza withdrawal was just yet another rope a dope scheme cooked up by Ariel Sharon. And contrary to what u state, Sharon did not distance himself one bit from the unilateral disengagement. Subsequently any uplifment of Palestinina economy in Gaza was actively undermined by the Israelis and Americans

              James Wolfensohn a Jewish person himself —- Haaretz

              “”I remember seeing the greenhouses with the chairman and looking at the fruits and everything, and there was a joyous atmosphere: ‘Boy, we’re about to get this going and we’re going to have hotels by the beaches and we’re going to have tourism and it’s going to be fantastic, and the Palestinians really know how to be hosts.’ But in the months afterward, first of all Arik [Sharon] became ill and the current prime minister came in, and there was a clear change of view.”

              At that time, Wolfensohn recalls, powerful forces in the U.S. administration worked behind his back: They did not believe in the border terminals agreement and wanted to undermine his status as the Quartet’s emissary. The official behind this development, he says, was Elliot Abrams, the neoconservative who was appointed deputy national security adviser in charge of disseminating democracy in the Middle East – “and every aspect of that agreement was abrogated.”

              The non-implementation of the agreement naturally had serious economic consequences. According to Wolfensohn, the shattering of the great hope of normality, which the Palestinians experienced so deeply when the Israel Defense Forces and the settlers left the Gaza Strip, brought about the rise of Hamas. “Instead of hope, the Palestinians saw that they were put back in prison……… ”

              So where was the Palestinian autonomy in Gaza ?

              • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/06/2014 - 05:11 pm.


                You are kidding yourself if you think anything the United Nations does or doesn’t do will affect this situation.

                Sharon didn’t distance himself from the withdrawal. He distanced himself from Weisglas’s comments.

                I don’t disagree that other leaders had a different approach than Sharon. I think Sharon was genuinely looking for a peaceful solution. It was very unfortunate that he got sick.

                • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 08/06/2014 - 10:24 pm.


                  Again. Remove the veto and let the UN impose sanctions. You’ll see how quickly nations bend.

                  You provide no proof that Sharon distanced himself from Weinglass comments. He went into a coma months later. The stated policy never changed. In fact it got worse.

                  I’ve provided third party (James Wolfonson) narrative on how Israel sabotaged the Gaza withdrawal. And now they claim it was for peace. An utter falsehood if there ever was.

                  • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/07/2014 - 12:29 pm.


                    “Prime Minister Ariel Sharon issued a statement on Wednesday clarifying his position on the disengagement plan and on the international road map, eager to assuage a torrent of concerns that were voiced following statements made by his senior adviser, Dov Weisglass in an interview with Haaretz

                    Sharon said he supports the road map, the international-sponsored plan calling for a process that will eventually result in the creation of a Palestinian state.

                    This contradicted statements made by Weisglass, the former director of the Prime Minister’s Office, who said the disengagement plan was actually meant to “freeze the diplomatic process” and pause for an indefinite period of time any chance for a Palestinian state.”


  10. Submitted by Michael Cavlan on 08/06/2014 - 12:14 pm.

    American Complicity In Slaughter of Gaza

    Where can one begin to counter the absolute trash that is this article? It is mind boggling in it’s entirety. Netanyahu is a racist thug in charge of a nation which is quickly gaining the reputation of being a country of racist thugs. As Bishop Desmond Tutu pointed out, the occupied territories and Israel proper look and act exactly like apartheid South Africa. Bishop Desmond Tutu should be a reliable source for this comparison.

    However as informed people know, the slaughter going on in Gaza is funded by the “representatives’ of our own nation. Which means that this nation is, yet again complicit in war crimes. Eric Black is a former “journalist” for the Star Tribune. That should come to no surprise to the peace and justice community in Minnesota.

    There will be a rally today at the offices of Senator Klobuchar. then there will be a march to the offices of the Star Tribune. Because at the last protest at the offices of Senator Al Franken around 300 people showed up and 30 people occupied his offices. Fifteen people were arrested in acts of civil disobedience

    As sadly expected there was no corporate media coverage of this event. Including the corporate Star Tribune. The Star Trib, Minn Post, KSTP, WCCO, CNN, MSNBC, FOX Noise, MPR etc etc etc have sullied and make shameful the noble calling of journalism. Instead of being watchdogs to those in power, the corporate media have become the lap dogs for those in power.

    This includes Eric Black.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/06/2014 - 12:35 pm.

      Can you say


    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/06/2014 - 01:39 pm.

      Part of the problem

      While this piece may have some flaws, this was a heartfelt and sincere attempt at proposing a peaceful solution to a very difficult situation. And your response was to call it trash and call him a lap dog. The target for your venom should be some of the other commenters here, and not Eric Black. If you think he is one of the bad guys, well, good luck to you. No wonder the media ignores you.

      • Submitted by Paul Scott on 08/06/2014 - 03:38 pm.

        not exactly

        Eric Black is a smart guy but he has really illuminated a remarkable moral blind spot in Minnesota liberalism with this one. I think that explains the rawness in some of these comments. By penning a long, statesmanlike path-to-piece fantasy of what some bizarro Netanyahu would/should say after he has slaughtered all those children, he may have intended “a heartfelt and sincere attempt at proposing a solution” but it struck this reader as tone-deaf and really quite offensive to newsreader’s intelligence in the end. It is also perhaps explanatory about how a descent into a political climate of thuggery and revenge in Israel right now — read some of the reports about what happens to those in Israel who are speaking out against the shelling — is is being deflected with defensiveness and distancing expressions like “my heart breaks.” Netanyahu will likely be remembered for decades for this and for what he has done to his country in the process, but not for the reasons outlined here.

        • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/06/2014 - 05:04 pm.


          If you think the Minnesota liberals are the bad guys here, you are doing something very wrong. The entire Republican party and a large chunk of the electorate has no qualms about what Israel is doing. Blind spots or not, Eric Black is proposing a solution. And to be honest, he addresses the complexity of the situation far better than most of his shriller critics. If you want to believe this is simple and rant about it, knock yourself out, but know that no one is listening.

          • Submitted by Paul Scott on 08/07/2014 - 11:33 am.

            Not telling me anything I don’t know about the support for Israel in the GOP, of course. The point is that if liberals harbor these fantasies about a thug like Netanyahu becoming a broker for peace, we are really impossibly far from recognizing the true horror of what Israel has become. If no one is listening that seems about par for the course. I just wish Eric Black would use his considerable gifts to write 2,000 words on something more in keeping with the revulsion of those of us outside the “Hamas caused this” bubble — of how Netanyahu has betrayed his people and needs to resign.

            • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/07/2014 - 02:06 pm.

              Nixon in China

              And I don’t mean the opera.
              There’s a parallel here.
              Someone with a reputation as a peacemaker wouldn’t command enough local credibility to make peace — only a hawk could get away with it.
              If Israel makes peace it will have to be someone like Netanyahu who does it.

  11. Submitted by Michael Cavlan on 08/06/2014 - 12:50 pm.


    Complicit in war crimes? How very ‘progressive” of you. Oh and YOUR US Senators and YOUR Congress critters. They are even using your tax dollars to aid in the war crimes

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/06/2014 - 01:19 pm.

      So you are not

      an American citizen?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/06/2014 - 02:02 pm.

      So you’ve renounced citizenship then?

      Here’s a thought, the situation is a touch more complicated than you suggest. Also, last I checked, purity tests were a conservative phenomenon. Boy I hate single issue advocates.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/06/2014 - 02:35 pm.

    I’m disappointed by Erics speech.

    Long on pleading for trust, very very very short on what an autonomous Palestinian State would look like.

    I think Israeli leadership has long since decided that the loss’s resulting from continued conflict are acceptable, and peace would be nice, but the status quo will do for now. I think it’s clear that the Israeli government is trying to impose its own version of state-hood upon the Palestinians, and that state-hood looks a lot like US Indian reservations with dependent sovereignty rather than outright sovereignty. All you you have to is look at the Israeli proposals since Oslo Accords and you see the Wounded Knee reservation, nothing that could remotely be called a autonomous Palestinian State.

    The problem is that there is no military solution, these parties are effectively in a stalemate. Israel despite is military superiority cannot impose it’s will upon the Palestinians, and Hamas cannot destroy Israel. Meanwhile the Palestinians will not accept permanent reservation or apartheid status, and Israel leadership can live with the status quo. They all want peace… just not today.

    Here’s what Israel would need do:

    1) Renounce the current application of their Dahiya Doctrine which basically amounts to collective punishment for Palestinian attacks. The Dahiya Doctrine relies on wildly disproportionate responses to any provocation that go far beyond defensive actions. Israel has a right to defend itself, but such actions should be proportionate and based on evidence.

    2) Israel has to agree to negotiate with whomever the Palestinians choose as its leadership. Israel cannot dictate whom the Palestinians choose to represent them. Israeli demands that they negotiate with Palestinians of their own choosing is merely a defacto refusal to negotiate at all.

    3) Israel needs to agree to a framework for statehood derived from Palestinian expectations. This conflict will go on for decades more if not longer so long as Israel seeks to impose it’s own model upon the Palestinians. Obviously Israels security concerns regarding an autonomous Palestinian State are not without merit, but am accord that lays out stages of increasing levels of autonomy over a period of years should maintain Israeli security.

    What do the Palestinian leaders need to do?

    1) Renounce violence so long as the parties are moving peacefully towards an acceptable two state solution

    2) Abandon any project that seeks to destroy Israel.

    3) Adhere to any Ceasefire agreement, while at the same time acknowledging that until they have a state, they cannot function like a state i.e. control their population and borders. Palestinians can only have limited control over their people and their boarders so long as Israel limits Palestinian control over its people and it’s boarders. This is a truism everyone seems to ignore. People expect the Palestinians to show up and negotiate like a country, when they have no country. Obviously the Palestinians need to agree to build a country that will live in peace next to Israel. Given the deep seeded and long standing animosities on both sides, that means that each side will have to control violent extremists within their own populations for years to come, and those efforts will fail on occasion. Israel will never ceed its security to anyone else, but any Palestinian State will have to make Israel’s security a priority until it’s no longer a substantial issue.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/06/2014 - 02:58 pm.

      Yeah, that sounds great Paul. Hamas could achieve it’s pre-requisites by simply renouncing what it’s charter claims is it’s very reason to exist in the first place. Simple.

      • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 08/06/2014 - 03:13 pm.

        And Peace will flow and flowers will bloom

        And Israel will give up on Judea and Sameria.

        There is no Hamas in the West Bank. Where is the end of the occupation there ?

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/07/2014 - 08:01 am.

          Yes Raj…

          Your “Mandela” vs. “Lincoln” argument is soooo much more reality based and productive. Let’s just set aside my silly comment and wait for an Israeli Abraham Lincoln to emerge. After all, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is basically a mirror image of the American Civil War isn’t it? Oh, wait…

          • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 08/07/2014 - 09:21 am.

            Actually Paul….

            Firstly my comment (was no directed at you) is far more based on reality than the peaches and cream wishfull thinking around here. I guess looking at every rope a dope scheme to screw the Palestinians off their land, long before there was any Hamas was due to the lack of a Palestinian Mandela. Israeli plans called “facts on the ground” , “Judea and Sameria” was all due to a lack of a Palestinians Mandela. Sure……………….

          • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 08/07/2014 - 09:50 am.

            Can’t get the stereotypical image of Lincoln out of my head… stovepipe hat, beard, and sidelocks.

    • Submitted by NIcole Masika on 08/06/2014 - 03:03 pm.

      thumbs up

      best answer I’ve seen on this page

  13. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/06/2014 - 05:30 pm.

    One cannot ignore history

    Jews have faced genocide — Arabs have not (at least from the receiving end).
    This does not justify everything that Israelis do, but it does put it into context.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/07/2014 - 10:47 am.

      Indeed one cannot ignore history

      One cannot ignore the history of the Palestinian people since the creation of Israel, THATS the relevant history one needs to attend to here. I think references to the Holocaust actually obscure the context more than they clarify it, and they may actually promote antisemitism.

      The fact is that Israel is NOT fighting for it’s survival when occupies Palestinian land, builds new settlements, establishes a blockade around Gaza, demolishes Palestinian homes, bulldozes Palestinian crops, or launches military strikes against Hamas. Israeli leaders are not so stupid as to believe that Hamas can emerge from a few tunnels and wipe Israel off the map. I assure you, Israeli leaders are well aware of Hamas’s actual military capabilities. Yes, Israel can defend itself against attacks, but you’d be hard pressed to find an Israeli that thinks that Palestinian attacks threaten the nations survival or are a prelude to another genocidal attack on Jews. In a recent interview with Charlie Rose even the leader of Hamas admitted that there is no conceivable way Hamas could destroy Israel.

      Israel today is a modern, established, powerful, and secure nation. They have not faced an existential threat since 1973 and they won that war decisively. The Camp David peace agreement effectively ended any viable Arab threat to Israel’s survival. Israel is now far and away the strongest nation in the region.

      Speaking of history let’s remember that Palestinians never attacked Israel, they were NOT among the Arab armies Israel faced in 1948, 1967, or 1973. We can question the morality of violent resistance, and Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians is clearly immoral, but the Palestinians have NEVER had any military capabilities that could possibly threaten the existence of Israel. Was the PLO retreat to Lebanon an invasion of Israel? Were the Intifada’s attempts to destroy Isreal? Clearly not. Frankly the Palestinians have never even been able to inflict symmetrical casualties. The ratio of Palestinian to Israeli casualties has always at least 20-1 and recently increased to what? 50-1?

      Side note: In a recent discussion when I made similar observations I was accused of demanding more “dead Jewish bodies” in order to “balance” the equation. Let me clear, a demand for fewer Palestinian casualties is NOT a demand for MORE Israeli casualties. People of conscience do not limit their sympathies to ONE side of a conflict in which innocent people on both sides are being killed and injured, this does not make such people anti Semite’s.

      Speaking of antisemitism, the introduction of Holocaust narratives as an attempt to establish context may actually promote antisemitism. Such narratives suggests that we have a population of Jews so traumatized by the near genocide that they cannot be expected to act rationally. It suggests that we have entire nation suffering from some form of collective PTSD that makes constructive dialogue impossible. Such a narrative also seems to suggest that we must sympathize more with Israeli victims of the conflict more than we sympathize with Palestinian victims, such suggestions clearly invite accusations of racism which can convert into antisemitism.

      No one should forget the Holocaust, and we do not have to forget the Holocaust in order to seek peace and justice for the Israeli’s and the Palestinians. The fact remains, the Holocaust has ended, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/07/2014 - 04:02 pm.

        I’m not disagreeing

        with your basic point, and I agree (and have pointed out) that there is history on both sides — that is the essence of the tragedy. I’m just saying that history is a context that cannot be ignored in understanding people’s actions.
        And the relevant history predates the Holocaust — again on both sides.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 08/07/2014 - 07:14 pm.


      I’ll have to read up on the Crusades again…

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/08/2014 - 10:53 am.

        Not going back far enough Rachel

        The Crusades? Pffff.

        A few years ago the BBC was interviewing an Israeli government official after they’d authorized yet another group of new settlements. The reporter asked the usual questions about the legality of it all, and the 1967 borders etc. The official came right out and said: “Well, this land has historically belonged to Jews who were living here 2,000 years ago” You could tell the BBC reporter and I’m sure many listeners were stunned by this claim. The Reporter followed up: “Well if we go back 2,000 years almost none of the currently existing countries in the world, or any of the current borders would be enforceable?” The response was: “Yes”. I’ve often wondered if the Israeli government ever let that guy anywhere near a reporter again.

        Now this wasn’t a blogger or a guy like Thom Friedman making an opinion in the NYTs, this was an Isreali government guy explaining why they’d just authorized new settlements on what everyone else in the world thinks is or should be Palestinian Land. Usually the Israeli government disputes UN authority, or declares that Palestinian land claims are nullified by the ongoing attacks on Israel, or even that the settlements are part of a defensive strategy, kind of like pushing out a defensive perimeter. This guy may have said those things but clearly he considered the ancient land claim to be the trump card.

        So it’s interesting to think about what Mr. Brandon might be saying. To what extent does “history” clarify or obscure “context?” Ancient land claims are rabbit holes you can’t climb out of and even if you can settle an historical argument of some kind, that’s not a recipe for ending most conflicts. I mean how far back do you want to go? There was a time when no one lived on any given tract of land on this planet.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/08/2014 - 12:39 pm.

          And this is what

          most observant Jews believe, and they currently dominate Israeli politics.
          “Next year in Jerusalem” has been part of the Passover ritual for at least a thousand years.
          One cannot understand why the Israelis are acting the way they are without knowing this. This does not mean that they give this reason when conducting international diplomacy; it is there in the background.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/09/2014 - 08:41 am.


            Zionism isn’t a secret. This interview wasn’t about Jerusalem, it was about newly authorized settlements in the West Bank. I’m not aware of, nor would most people support, any serious proposal that would move Jerusalem outside the border of Israel or otherwise beyond reach of Jews. The Holy nature of this city and it’s location within the borders of Israel are a settled matter.

  14. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 08/07/2014 - 09:51 am.

    Contemplating the face above in all its arrogance…

    Well, finally there is recognition of the war we have funded so consistently with my/our tax dollars and watch with horror at the many; dead, mutilated child and villager..knowing the faces we in some ‘ wee small way’ -like tons of our tax dollars- actuated their dying ?

    I look at the face Bennie N. and I can only wonder when did you lose your humanness as we continue to fund this genocide?

    The nature of retaliation: One could say violence generates violence. It is the insidious nature of the act itself. With righteous certainty, the perpetrator of the retaliatory act may claim it is the necessary means of deterring acts of violence by others.
    But in the silence moments of his retrospective self, a dull, nagging doubt survives? So pertinaciously he must perform acts of violence again and again, hoping to silence the dull throbbing; hoping to make it all right…

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/07/2014 - 10:01 am.

    Two more observations

    I’ve noticed over the decades that whenever anyone tries to have a dialogue about this issue verbal combatants emerge who seem to think that the “argument” is the priority rather than the conflict itself. In some ways this is a debate mentality that pretends that winning the argument can somehow be productive.

    Listen: The arguments, who is more evil than whom, who broke any given cease fire, who missed the opportunity to miss another opportunity, etc. etc. cannot end this conflict. Such arguments are basically a parallel non-violent conflict that can no more be won than the conflict itself. It’s like arguing about who actually fired the first shot in WWI battle of the Somme. Did the Brits really open the battle with an artillery barrage or did some German sniper take a shot at on observation post? It doesn’t matter, two years later Germany surrenders. Maybe you can convince me that Israeli’s are more evil than Palestinians, that won’t- that CAN’T end the conflict.

    My humble advice: Keep your eye on the ball, look at the broad strokes, don’t engage in the “argument”. It’s like Raj and Dan arguing about what’s really needed, an Israeli Abraham Lincoln or a Palestinian Nelson Mandela, wast of time. If you look at the broad strokes you can see what’s happened, how we got here, and how this going to have to end or not end. The nature of this conflict is not mysterious.

    The other thing that keeps popping up is comments like Mr. Swift regarding Hamas. Hamas makes no secret that the destruction of Israel is it’s primary objective. The thing is guys like Swift don’t seem to able to keep Hamas in any kind of reasonable perspective.

    Israel can’t negotiate with Hamas! Well, they just did, they have a cease fire and as far as I know it’s still holding. They’ll eventually start shooting again in the absence of a broad peace agreement but don’t tell Hamas can’t or won’t negotiate.

    Hamas can declare whatever objective it wants, but there’s no conceivable way they could ever accomplish their goal, and both Hamas and the Israeli’s know it. Hamas does not control or speak for all Palestinians, they only control Gaza at the moment, and they number around 16,000 in a population of close to 2 million.

    You do not have the change the hearts and minds of Hamas or every Palestinian in order to negotiate a two state solution. Such requirements are simply excuses to refuse negotiations. It’s like saying as long as there’s a Palestinian somewhere who wants to destroy Israel or a Isreali somewhere who wants settle on Palestinian land, there can be no peace.

    Nearly every peace agreement that’s ever been forged was forged between combatants who were dedicated to each others destruction. You don’t have to negotiate peace deals between friends, by definition people in conflict are enemies.

    Hamas’s objective is irrelevant because they cannot possibly carry it out. If a viable peace deal is negotiated, Hamas will either be a part of it, or it will become as irrelevant as it’s objective.

    • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 08/07/2014 - 11:01 am.

      Your Broad Strokes ….

      Takes us nohwere..

      One side of this conflict has has had a deliberate media policy to crowd out your “Broad Strokes”. Its called Hasbara. They stuff the channel with enough of it to create enough of a dissonance to drown out any opposition. Their success with that strategy over the past few decades has shown the total failure of sniffling about Peace in the Middle East. Peter Beinart in his writings lays bare this AIPAC strategy of talking “peace” while doing everything to oppose it in reality.

      The counter narrative to the Hasbara has been what has moved the dial. The demographic that has been most opposed to the conflict below 30 has been the one that has been that has been exposed through social media and other new media outlets to the other view points on the conflict. When i counter the usual talking points Palestinian Mandela and Gaza Withdrawal for peace i do my little part in exposing this spiel. You may think it is a waste of time.But the results show otherwise.

      “Broad Strokes” has acheived nothing. Its like listening to a MPS School Board meeting about solving the acheivement gap. We’ve heard that for five decades. Results ? Zero.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/07/2014 - 04:02 pm.

        Hasbara shmasbara

        “One side of this conflict has has had a deliberate media policy to crowd out your “Broad Strokes”. Its called Hasbara. ”

        It’s taken a while but the Israeli narrative is breaking down. The media and the international community are becoming more critical of Israeli policy. There are upsides and downsides to that. Hopefully it will nudge Israel out of it’s status quo policy before they get dangerously alienated and isolated, and before Palestinians get even more radicalized. Hamas is way more radical than Arafat and the PLO ever were.

        Hamas will never be a serious threat to Israel. However the continuing conflict, and international isolation combined with the rise of Islamic extremism could culminate in serious dangers. A sustainable settlement with the Palestinians is probably the best security play Israel could make, and the sooner the better. Not because Hamas is going to come out of tunnels and destroy them, but because when you step back and look at the big picture, that conflict is the lynchpin for a lot genuinely spooky stuff beyond Gaza and the West Bank.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/07/2014 - 12:25 pm.


      I liked your comment other than calling my argument a waste. 😉

      What I’m saying is less about finding a savior to lead the Palestinians to freedom, and more about trying non-violence. And you could argue, like Raj does (and I don’t think his arguments on that point are a waste either) that it should be Israel that tries that approach. The problem with that is that Israel can accept the status quo. In fact, Israeli Hawks like Netanyahu want a violent Hamas to justify their settlement expansion. The status quo, however, is not working out very well for the Palestinians, and the more settlements get built and the more permanent the occupation gets, the harder it will be to find a workable solution.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/07/2014 - 03:44 pm.

        I see your point Dan

        My thing about non-violence is:

        A) I’m not trying dramatic but It’s easy to talk about non-violence when you’ve never had to scoop your child’s remains into a garbage bag.

        B) Non violence is a fine personal choice, but imposing it on an entire nation is morally dodgy. YOU now have to scoop YOUR child’s remains into a garbage bag because I decided WE shall not be violent in face of violence against us. I can put myself at risk by virtue of my commitment to non-violence, but do I have the right to put YOU and your family at risk? In practical terms no government (i.e. the Israeli’s) would make that choice, and frankly I’m not sure I’d want governments to make that choice.

        C) When you look at successful applications of non-violent methods, they don’t seem to apply to open conflicts like the Israeil – Palestiniian conflict. Open conflicts tend to end either by military victory, or negotiated cease-fires. There are some similarities between the South African Apartheid and the Palestinian version, but Mandala never faced artillery barrages or daily air strikes. Nor did MLK or Gandhi. There’s a big difference between a fire hose and an cluster bomb.

        D) Finally, calls for non-violence can actually be a trap. For instance, basically this has been Israel’s demand for 40 years, they refuse to negotiate until the Palestinian’s adopt non-violent methods of resistance. It’s a demand that has ironically perpetuated the violence.

        Let me be clear, I’m not condoning anyone’s violence, I’m just saying that a peace deal can be negotiated without a figure like Mandala emerging, and we don’t get to choose how the Palestinians resist occupation or fight for autonomy. In theory non-violent tactics could work for the Palestinians, but there’s a lot of distance between our theories and their reality.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/07/2014 - 03:58 pm.

      In other words

      goals are long term.
      Israel and Hamas have incompatible long term goals.
      However, both are willing to accept short term accommodations that they think may further these goals (or at least allow them to survive to pursue them).
      That’s what the current negotiations are about. Not long term goals; just immediate advantage and survival.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/08/2014 - 11:16 am.


        As far as I know you can have long and short term goals.

        I don’t know why people keep acting like Hamas is the only or even the most significant Palestinian player. Why compare Israeli and Hamas goals instead of Israeli and Palestinian goals? As far as I know every poll has clearly revealed that both Israeli’s and Palestinians support a peace process. That’s a compatible long term goal isn’t it?

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/08/2014 - 12:33 pm.


          The polls are blunt instruments that sample people’s immediate responses.
          They’re poor at measuring long term goals (since people themselves are).
          I don’t know of any polls that ask “would you be satisfied with never owning more than half of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean?”

          Right now Hamas are the ones shooting rockets, so their goals have to be dealt with. An agreement with the PLO would be meaningless without the concurrence of Hamas.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/08/2014 - 02:41 pm.


            I didn’t say Hamas can be ignored, just treated proportionately. Their rockets are doing little damage.

            “I don’t know of any polls that ask “would you be satisfied with never owning more than half of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean?”

            Well maybe no one asks YOUR question, but the Jewish Israeli population is heavily polled regarding their desire and willingness to live with the 1967 borders and the majority clearly indicate a willingness to so so:

            “In sum, the Jewish Israeli public over the last few years tends to be divided regarding levels of support for the explicit notion of returning to the 67 borders, with land swaps/adjustments. However, when presented as part of a larger package of an agreement rather than as an isolated concept, Israelis mostly support such packages with clear majorities. The Jewish public became generally more hard-line after the mid-2000s, following the unilateral settlement dismantling in Gaza, the subsequent electoral rise of the Hamas and its takeover of Gaza in 2007 (see this comprehensive INSS report for evidence of the shift in attitudes following this phase).

            The bottom line is that the notion of a Palestinian state based on the1967 borders, with adjustments, has never been shown to drag down support for a comprehensive agreement – were the leaders of this region serious enough to reach one.” Source:

            • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/09/2014 - 09:22 am.

              That was twelve (12!) years ago.

              There’s been a considerable rightward shift since then.

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/10/2014 - 11:28 am.

                2010 wasn’t 12 years ago.

                The article looks at surveys from 2002-2010. You can find more recent polls if you want, the over-all conclusions haven’t changed. Yes, as the summary clearly states, there has been a rightward shift, but the majority still accept the 1967 boarders as long as their part of an over-all peace and security agreement.

  16. Submitted by John Appelen on 08/07/2014 - 06:40 pm.

    Good Fence Good Neighbors

    It seems Israel has been working to draw a clear line in the sand for years.

    Do the extremist Jews disagree with the line?
    Does Hamas disagree with the planned line?

    How do we help them finish this sooner?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/08/2014 - 08:11 am.

      Fence shmence

      It’s not the fence, it’s what on either side of the fence that’s the issue. As the tunnels prove, if you have an enemy on the other side determined to attack you, you still have a problem. Or if you have a nation on the other side that denies you autonomy on your side of the fence, you still have a problem.

      There’s a debate between Noam Chomsky and Allen Dershowitz online ( At one point Dershowitz actually suggests have big giant fence… ON WHEELS so it can be moved accordingly when the border needs to be changed. The audience practically gasps at the absurdity of this suggestion.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/08/2014 - 09:47 am.


        Half the challenge here is that both the Israel hard liners and the Hamas folks both think they can influence where the fence will run. Once the very permanent wall is finished, this issue should be closed. Then they can deal with tunnels, rockets, autonomy, etc.

        Just curious if Palestine and Israel is so terrible, why haven’t the peaceful civilians emigrated? Or does no other country want these people? We take tons of other immigrants from unstable countries.

        Or are they fighting for the Holy Land also?

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/09/2014 - 09:26 am.

          For the same reason that

          few of the ’60’s antiwar people actually moved to Canada.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/09/2014 - 05:23 pm.

            No Place Like Home

            Come on now. Moving from America to Canada because you don’t like American policy seems like a poor comparison. Especially for people who dislike the winter and cold.

            Where as your house can literally be blown up in Palestine, by any of the extremist groups in operation there. (ie Israel, Hamas, other)

            Now I love Minnesota, but wouldn’t normal parents seek a safer place to raise their family.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/08/2014 - 09:37 am.

      Both sides of extremists agree

      that the lines are the Jordan and the Mediterranean.
      They disagree on who gets the land between the lines.
      There’s an interesting proposal at
      suggesting (and improbably) way that BOTH sides could own all of the land.

  17. Submitted by Amy Farland on 08/08/2014 - 08:10 am.

    Jimmy Carter’s How To Fix It

  18. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 08/08/2014 - 08:51 am.

    Either/or, step forward please

    I had a dream last night that all the power footprints turning life into death in Gaza had ended…that footprints were left behind; swallowed in the blood and dust… for reason or logic can never solve the trauma that exists between Palestine and Israel.

    They are all Semites so who will be the first to reach a hand out not a bloody footprint to the other?

    But as long as “getting the best of is the Telos of this world” ( Josiah Thompson “Gumshoe”) nothing will find peace or closure in this unending war of hate…hate which cannot be solved without love. And Love is a word that has been trampled so severely it may not be possible…but someone must reach for the greater good be it Netanyahu or Hamas. Who is the wise man here who steps forward in peace and dares to be human?

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