Mideast peace: Will deal-making skill be enough to get there?

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
President Donald Trump embracing Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after his remarks at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Our president has announced his intention to broker a peace deal to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict, or at least he has said that such a feat is on his to-do list. I wish him well. I hope he succeeds. And if he does, I mean succeed in bringing peace, I will break with recent precedent and say a great many nice things about Donald Trump, and endorse him for a Nobel peace prize.

Despite his depthless self-confidence, and despite the fact that he now heads a government that employs many very knowledgeable experts on the issue, I don’t believe President Trump knows very much about the geography, the history, or the obstacles to settling the conflict. I doubt he could pass a high-school level test on those subjects. But maybe that’s not what matters.

Trump is supposedly gifted at “The Art of the Deal.” “I like to make deals,” he has said. “I make great deals.” Yesterday, standing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he upped the stakes, calling a peace agreement “one of the toughest deals of all.” (Although he recently said that bringing peace to the Mideast “is something that I think is frankly, maybe, not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”

Maybe what’s needed is not someone who understands history or geography or ethnography, but someone who is just great at making great deals. I don’t believe that, but I hope I’m wrong. (I also believe that Trump’s history as a “deal-maker” has given scope to his predatory streak, which is why he has ended up in court with so many of his deal partners.)

The U.N. map

Harry Truman was president in 1947-48, when the United Nations partitioned the territory, formerly known as Palestine, into seven pieces, three of which (barely touching one another) were to be the Jewish state, three of which were to be a homeland for the Palestinian Arabs. If you click through to the original map, you won’t know whether to laugh or cry.

It was a ridiculous plan, which lasted for about 10 seconds, was rejected by pretty much the entire Arab world, which led to the first Arab-Israeli war, which ended with Israel coming into existence with boundaries significantly larger than what the 1947 partition had envisioned. Pretty much every president since Truman has tried his hand at the Arab-Israeli conflict.

There was another war in 1967, in which Israel gained still more territory. That was the period in which the strong alliance between the United States and Israel came into being, and has lasted ever since.

Since then, there have been more changes to the maps and more deals. Almost every U.S. president has taken a shot at Mideast deal-making. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter brokered the “Camp David Accords,” which much of the world believed for a while might settle the conflict, but that turned out not to be true.

Not only did the promise of peace not last after Camp David, but the Arab leader who signed the deal, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, was assassinated and the Arab League expelled Egypt from its membership status.

President Bill Clinton pulled off the “Oslo Accords” with a big White House signing ceremony featuring Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Peace did not ensue, but Rabin, too, was assassinated, by a right-wing Israeli. Still, peace slipped off the hook. Maybe someone else can seal the real deal. Maybe Trump. Likely not.

‘Parallel Realities’

I took my own deep dive into the history of the conflict for a 1991 series in the Star Tribune, which later became a small book, called “Parallel Realities.” I’m certainly no major scholar on the topic, but I do believe I was having a good day when I came up with that title, “Parallel Realities.”

It suggests that in a deep ethnic/religious/nationalist conflict such as Arab/Israeli conflict, each side tends to construct an entire reality of what would constitute justice and a fair outcome, and those realities run parallel, side by side endlessly, with very few facts or moral or religious arguments appearing in both realities. I called it a “Dialogue of Two Monologues.” Both sides are talking. But each is mostly listening to its own voice.

(In connection with one of their films about the conflict, PBS/Frontline put my “Dialogue of Two Monologues” up on the web a few years ago, if you would like to see how it constructs the two-worldviews-that-never-touch.)

If I’m right, it will take something other than deal-making ability to end this century-old conflict. It will take both sides being so exhausted with endless conflict that they will each embrace some portion of the other side’s “reality.”

If you can stand it, I’ll offer one tiny other thing from my ancient series, that I had forgotten about until I got out a copy today to crib for this piece. It was part of the introduction to the dialogue of monologues, it borrowed from one of my old journalistic heroes, and it went like this:

I.F. Stone, the legendary iconoclastic journalist of the 1950s and 60s, once wrote that “Stripped of propaganda and sentiment, the Palestine problem is simply the struggle of two different peoples for the same strip of land.”

Well, yes, that’s so. The dispute is, at some level, simply about ownership of a strip of land and could therefore be solved by an agreement to divide the land between the two peoples. Sounds simple enough. And yet, in the same 1967 essay, Stone wrote: “If God, as some now say, is dead, He no doubt died trying to find an equitable solution to the Arab-Jewish problem.”

Good luck to you, Mr. President.

Comments (76)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/23/2017 - 09:54 am.

    Deals

    First of all, Trump’s biggest deal was inheriting a fortune.
    Stiffing your creditors is not deal making.
    ———–
    Second, remember that a compromise is a solution that both sides are equally unhappy with. In this case, both sides are convinced that they have a right to ownership of the entire territory of Palestine — they may temporarily accept a partial solution, but are not going to abandon their long term goals. A ‘simple dispute’ is not necessarily easily solved (the estimable Izzy Stone notwithstanding).

    So we are not going to have peace in the Middle East, just an armistice. And remember how that played out in WWI.

    • Submitted by chuck holtman on 05/23/2017 - 04:35 pm.

      It stands to reason that a solipsist

      would not be a good negotiator of deals. It’s hard to work with the other parties’ motivations and interests when you’re not capable of recognizing that others in fact have motivations and interests. Add to that a profound ignorance about the Middle East (as about everything else in the actual world) and an interest only in being patted on the head that make him a plaything of both his idiosyncratically delusional advisors and the world’s cagey autocrats. I’m not expecting grand success in solving the world’s problems from Mr Trump.

      From my understanding of the Riyadh speech, we now share the values of the Saudi rulers and, with our hundreds of billions of military hardware, will ally with ISIS, al Qaeda and the Wahhabists in a war for the destruction of Hezbollah and the forced conversion of the Iranian theocrats to Sunni fundamentalism. Sounds like peace within our time to me.

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/23/2017 - 10:44 am.

    Trump’s reputation as a great “deal-maker” is pretty threadbare in reality.

    And look at his recent record in “getting Mexico to pay for the wall”, “trade deals” via China and NAFTA, getting the European countries to pay the US for NATO, his all-in legislative gutting of the healthcare system as opposed to making it the “best”, or the contrast with his tweet from 2014, “Tell Saudi Arabia and others that we want (demand!) free oil for the next ten years or we will not protect their private Boeing 747s.Pay up!” and “Dopey Prince @Alwaleed_Talal wants to control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money. Can’t do it when I get elected. #Trump2016”.

    Tough talk, followed by absolute capitulation.

    If it doesn’t personally affect him, any deal on any terms is acceptable, because then he can say he “did the deal”. That’s the only way the recent policies can been seen in any other terms than Trump being a pathological liar.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/23/2017 - 11:29 am.

      Of interest today, the switch from “radical Islamic terrorists” to “evil losers”.

      He has a real issue with confronting people face-to-face–like any weasel-worded salesman eager to be liked.

      And this is the person a 1/3 of the country expects to speak truth to power? To defend the little guy? They’ll be the first tossed from the sleigh to the wolves.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/24/2017 - 09:01 am.

        or maybe

        it was just a case of reducing three three-syllable words to two two-syllable ones,
        with attendant loss of meaning.

  3. Submitted by joe smith on 05/23/2017 - 11:25 am.

    My favorite take on Trump going to visit the

    three main holy sites in one trip was a “talking head” on CNN who commented “Trump has no idea what the last 50 years of negotiating have been about and he’s recklessly using a new tactic”. Only in DC or in the main stream media does 50 years of a failed mantra merit more of the same! I’m not sure they’ve ever ran anything that requires adjustments or flat out change. My personal favorite is the “war on poverty” after 50 years and over 20 TRILLION spent, the montra is more money, more programs, bigger Government. D.C. insiders, liberal elites and the main stream media push this mantra and unfortunately any change in approach is considered not caring for the poor…. If you want a different result in the Mid East try a different approach!! Not that complicated. Will it work? Who knows but the old traditional negotiations have not worked and suddenly a new approach is now deemed stupid by elites…… Makes you wonder who the stupid folks are??

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/23/2017 - 01:22 pm.

      No Wonderment at All

      Let’s see: snark about the liberal media–check. Digression into rant about a social policy–check. Sniffing about liberal elites–check. All the minimum requirements are here. Anything else?

      Here we go: “If you want a different result in the Mid East try a different approach!! ” There it is!

      Let’s start by remembering “different” does not always mean “better.” A “different” result could be worse, and in this case,could result in a deepening of a bloody, bitter conflict that threatens to engulf the rest of the world. This is not just trying out a new fishing lure. If it doesn’t work, we can’t just shrug our collective shoulders and say “What the heck?” The consequences of an augmented failure are catastrophic.

      Never mind that though. Let’s see what new ideas are coming up.How about putting pressure on Iran, and marginalizing it in the Middle East? Great idea! Let’s thrust the US into a sectarian conflict that has been going on since the 7th century! It’s not that complicated, after all. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing, apart from deepening resentment among Shia minorities in the world. Why, only a member of the elites would not see the essential brilliance of that idea. How about Israel? Sure, I’m sure they will buy into this idea, and their participation will be welcomed by all. We just need to remember that it’s not that complicated!

      “Makes you wonder who the stupid folks are??” No, I’m not wondering that at all.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/24/2017 - 07:21 am.

        Yes, different is not necessarily better (just think of Obama’s “different” approach to the Middle East) but the same is definitely bad… And what can create “deepening resentment among Shia minorities in the world” considering that “Death to America” is a routine rallying cry in Iran already…

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/24/2017 - 10:00 am.

          How to Create Deepening Resentment

          Taking the side of the Sunnis to exclusion of the Shiites is a good way to turn cries of “death to America” into concrete actions to bring death to America, or at least death to America’s allies.

          There is also growing pro-American sentiment among the middle-class in Iran (their version of the snooty educated elites whose bad attitude caused voters to give America an uncultured demagogue as President). Is it in our best interests to alienate them?

          • Submitted by chuck holtman on 05/24/2017 - 04:32 pm.

            RB: I would suggest it is not “growing,” but “residing.”

            A great failure in the way foreign relations is talked and thought about is to assume that those who wear the mantle of state hold the same views and interests as their subjects. In most states, there is a set of values among the populace much more simple and humane than that which motivates those who hold and exercise power. In my view, this difference is the greatest wedge to effect change, over time, in the way a state acts in the world community, and especially to help it along the path from autocracy to democracy (setting aside as irrelevant to the present colloquy that we, of course, are now speeding along in the opposite direction).

            To my untutored but somewhat engaged eye, in modern times Iran has maintained an educated, largely secular, and social-asset-rich society that for the past 64 years has weathered both the Shah and the subsequent thin layer of ruling Shia fundamentalism. At every moment since 1979, I would have pursued as a centerpiece of my Middle East policy a slow rapprochement with Iran, in the way that reasonably prosperous civic societies can encourage each other. I believe the refusal of the U.S. establishment to do so has been a gargantuan mistake entering its 38th year. Of course we know why it is so: U.S. Middle East policy is decided by those who profit from oil and weapons sales, and so we throw in with the most retrograde governments with the weakest civic societies and least prospects for positive change, and take their enemies for ours.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/25/2017 - 09:39 am.

              Yes

              Failing to engage–even on a very low level–with the Iranians was a big mistake. I think it was driven largely by domestic political concerns stemming from the embassy hostage-taking (remember all the “Iran Sucks” t-shirts that your better element was wearing in ’79?).

              After 9/11, Iran made a sub rosa offer to share intelligence with the US about al Qaeda. This offer was revoked after President Bush’s “axis of evil” speech..

              • Submitted by chuck holtman on 05/25/2017 - 10:58 am.

                Not only do I remember the “Iran Sucks” T-shirts,

                I bought one from a vendor on emerging from a bar late one night as an energetically intoxicated 20-year-old male. But as a rule of thumb, foreign policy should not be made by energetically intoxicated 20-year-old males.

                I’m very strongly of the conviction that the interests of the establishment, and the consequent framings of the establishment media, determine the views of the public, and not the converse. The public animosity toward Iran assumed permanence after the initial flush of angered righteousness foremost because it served, and has continued without interruption to serve, the interests of the oil and arms profiteers and their establishment enablers.

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/26/2017 - 07:12 am.

              Doesn’t work

              “A great failure in the way foreign relations is talked and thought about is to assume that those who wear the mantle of state hold the same views and interests as their subjects.” This may be true but is totally irrelevant in totalitarian states where governments make all the decisions regardless (or despite) of their people. You have to live in one of those states to fully understand it.

              “At every moment since 1979, I would have pursued as a centerpiece of my Middle East policy a slow rapprochement with Iran, in the way that reasonably prosperous civic societies can encourage each other.” See above – this approach is a pipe dream. Iranian government needed an enemy and America fit the role better than anyone else. Those governments understand only force, the one which Carter was afraid to use.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/25/2017 - 07:27 am.

            “Taking the side of the Sunnis to exclusion of the Shiites is a good way to turn cries of “death to America” into concrete actions to bring death to America, or at least death to America’s allies.” But maybe it is a good way to establish good relationship with ISIS… Just kidding… Don’t you think that we kind of already took Sunnis’ side in the Syrian conflict? Should we switch sides?

            “There is also growing pro-American sentiment among the middle-class in Iran (their version of the snooty educated elites whose bad attitude caused voters to give America an uncultured demagogue as President). Is it in our best interests to alienate them?” We already did when we didn’t help them when their movement for fair election was crushed… Who was our President then?

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/25/2017 - 10:22 am.

              “Should we switch sides?”

              We shouldn’t be taking sides between Sunnis and Shiites, for a number of reasons.

              I don’t think US “help” in the Iranian election wold have been especially well-received.

              • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/26/2017 - 07:11 am.

                Sides

                “We shouldn’t be taking sides between Sunnis and Shiites, for a number of reasons.” Should we take sides between North and South Korea? On the other hand, when one side proclaims “Death to America” at every turn (and I mean in a government sponsored way) and the other one doesn’t, isn’t making taking sides almost a must? Plus, “taking sides” in this context doesn’t mean taking sides between two branches of religion but between countries and their governments…

                “I don’t think US “help” in the Iranian election would have been especially well-received.” By whom? If by Iranian government, why should we care? And you claimed that there is a growing pro-American sentiment among Iranian middle class so they should have been happy that America was on their side against religious tyrannical government that was trying to quash the election results…. Plus, we did choose to “help” Egyptians and Libyans, didn’t we?

                And by the way, the only reason Iran offered cooperation after 9/11 was that they were deadly afraid that America would attribute it to them and would destroy them (they realized that for a few months or maybe even years after 9/11 all political correctness and desire to solve things diplomatically were out of the window because Americans were angry).

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/26/2017 - 09:22 am.

                  Sides, Sides, Everywhere are Sides

                  “Should we take sides between North and South Korea?” Sorry, there is no comparison there. On to your next point.

                  “On the other hand, when one side proclaims “Death to America” at every turn (and I mean in a government sponsored way) and the other one doesn’t, isn’t making taking sides almost a must? Plus, “taking sides” in this context doesn’t mean taking sides between two branches of religion but between countries and their governments…” Yes, in this context, demonizing Iran is taken as taking sides in a very old religious dispute. The line between religion and governance has, historically, been poorly draw. It is especially so in what is loosely called the “Middle East.”

                  ” And you claimed that there is a growing pro-American sentiment among Iranian middle class so they should have been happy that America was on their side against religious tyrannical government that was trying to quash the election results….” You seem to be under the impression that the good will towards America exhibited by Iranians in inexhaustible. Do you think renewed marginalization of their country is going to lead them to shrug, and say “It’s America–we’re OK with that?” Or could it give the oppressive government an excuse to ratchet up the oppression, and lead to resentment on the part of those affected?

                  “And by the way, the only reason Iran offered cooperation after 9/11 was that they were deadly afraid that America would attribute it to them and would destroy them ” I would be keen to see your source for that. Until then, I will remark that a. It really doesn’t matter why they wanted to help; and b. The Iranian Shiite government had as much, if not more, to fear from the militant Sunnis of al Qaeda.

                  • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/27/2017 - 09:02 am.

                    Sides and more sides

                    “”Should we take sides between North and South Korea?” Sorry, there is no comparison there. On to your next point.” Of course there is: Your point was that if we take sides, we will upset the Shiites and it may be bad for us so if we take side of South Korea, it may upset North Korea and it may be bad for us… Same thing.

                    “Yes, in this context, demonizing Iran is taken as taking sides in a very old religious dispute.” If we think that we are acting in self-defense and morally right, we should not care, just like we don’t care that North Korean are taught to hate us.

                    “You seem to be under the impression that the good will towards America exhibited by Iranians in inexhaustible.” No, that is why I said it was a big Obama’s mistake not to help them when they were fighting for their election choice… We lost credibility then with them so it’s too late now. Lack of actions on our side was “an excuse to ratchet up the oppression” for Iranian government.

                    You don’t need the sources to make a logical conclusion that the entire world was afraid of America right after 9/11. Why do you think Libya came clean with its nuclear program that no one even knew about? And it really matters why they acted this way because it shows a clear path of dealing with them in the future…

                    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/30/2017 - 09:38 am.

                      Wrong on Many Levels

                      “Of course there is: Your point was that if we take sides, we will upset the Shiites and it may be bad for us so if we take side of South Korea, it may upset North Korea and it may be bad for us… Same thing.” There is a huge difference between an ideological dispute going back perhaps 70 years and a religious schism that goes back over a millennium

                      “If we think that we are acting in self-defense and morally right, we should not care, just like we don’t care that North Korean are taught to hate us.” Antagonize them, just because we don’t care what they think? Self-defense starts by not needing the defense in the first place. Needless provocations are, to put it kindly, reckless.

                      “Lack of actions on our side was “an excuse to ratchet up the oppression” for Iranian government.” You have fallen into the trap of believing that everything that happens in the world is a reaction to something the US does or doesn’t do. I’m not sure if the oppression has been ratcheted up–who won the recent elections in Iran (unlike Saudi Arabia, there are elections in Iran)?

                      “You don’t need the sources to make a logical conclusion that the entire world was afraid of America right after 9/11. ” Yes, you do.

                      “Why do you think Libya came clean with its nuclear program that no one even knew about? ” You mean the nuclear program they had been in discussions about since the 1990s? I think they “came clean” in an attempt to get long-standing sanctions lifted, and saw an opening as the US was looking for friends in the Arab world.

                    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/31/2017 - 06:51 am.

                      Not wrong at all

                      “There is a huge difference between an ideological dispute going back perhaps 70 years and a religious schism that goes back over a millennium.” Yes, historically but not when it comes to taking sides or deciding on policy. Think of it this way: babies are not born with knowledge so children’s views are formed by adults and, in countries like Iran and North Korea, by adults at power; therefore, they will spin anything to make it look the way they want, 70 years or 1070 years. If we are concerned about their response, the background doesn’t matter, current events, or their interpretation, do.

                      “Self-defense starts by not needing the defense in the first place. Needless provocations are, to put it kindly, reckless.” How did this work with Hitler? No defense was needed and they did anything to avoid provocation.. On the other hand, what can be more provocative than capturing American sailors and parading them on TV?

                      “You have fallen into the trap of believing that everything that happens in the world is a reaction to something the US does or doesn’t do.” Actually, it’s not me since I constantly hear that America provoked terrorism, that Guantanamo is the main recruiting tool for them, and that Trump ruins everything… Where do I hear it from?

                      “”You don’t need the sources to make a logical conclusion that the entire world was afraid of America right after 9/11. ” Yes, you do.” You mean something like a memo from Kaddafi saying that he was afraid? Sometimes, logical conclusion is a very good way of finding the truth – just think of Sherlock Holmes and Miss Maples…

                      “You mean the nuclear program they had been in discussions about since the 1990s?” Sure, except no one else, including the UN, knew about that. “I think they “came clean” in an attempt to get long-standing sanctions lifted, and saw an opening as the US was looking for friends in the Arab world.” I guess it was just a coincidence that Gaddafi announced the end of his nuclear program right when Saddam was captured… Possible but highly unlikely…

        • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/25/2017 - 08:13 am.

          It is interesting how so many are distracted again from the fact that the main funders and actors of of 911 and al Qaeda were the fine citizens of Saudi Arabia. And oddly enough, there is plenty of evidence that Saudis funded the rise of ISIS….

          (quote)

          Today, Saudi citizens continue to represent a significant funding source for Sunni groups operating in Syria. Arab Gulf donors as a whole — of which Saudis are believed to be the most charitable — have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Syria in recent years, including to ISIS and other groups. There is support for ISIS in Saudi Arabia, and the group directly targets Saudis with fundraising campaigns, so Riyadh could do much more to limit private funding. U.S. officials have hinted that a combination of politics, logistics, and limited capabilities have impeded more effective Saudi efforts to counter terrorism financing. One particularly difficult problem is how to monitor cash transfers, a method common among Saudi donors….Although Saudi donors and other private contributors were believed to be the most significant funding source for the original forerunner to ISIS, the importance of such donations has been marginalized by the group’s independent sources of income….

          http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/saudi-funding-of-isis

          (end quote)

          But your “unconventional” President agrees to sell billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia, promote their take-over of public infrastructure in the US, and works to try to fire up a war with Iran for them and their political/religious goals.

          I really think you should read something about the history of the form of Islam practiced by Wahabi Saudis and their role in the on-going radicalism and terrorism.

          You might think that previous Presidents who had an arms-length relationship with Saudi Arabia might have been on to something.

          An opportunity to fondle their glowing orb doesn’t really count for much when you ignore history at the peril of America and American values.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/26/2017 - 07:13 am.

            Irrelevant

            It’s interesting that people keep bringing up an absolutely irrelevant fact that 9/11 terrorists were Saudi’s citizens. I believe some terrorists responsible for carnage in France were from Belgium; does it mean that France should make Belgium its enemy? The same with private citizens’ donations to terrorist groups – some of them are Americans, so what? It matters what the government’s position is, not what few of its citizens are up to.

            Sure, Saudi Arabia is not a paragon of democracy and its brand of Islam is extreme but the choice is always between bad and very bad so America has been selling weapons to them forever and Trump is not opening any new grounds here. Also, wealthy Saudis have been buying real estate in America for very long time. And of course, confrontation with Iran is Iran’s fault and America is not responding in kind not for Saudis’ but for our own interests..

            • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/26/2017 - 10:18 am.

              Illya; the article talks about Saudi funding of ISIS (as well as al Qaeda).

              Get it–FUNDING, not just foot soldiers.

              Money for Inspiring/planning/funding/supplying attacks across the world, including in the US and Europe.

              And, the extent of arms sales is unprecedented:

              (quote)

              The U.S. and the Saudi Arabian ministry of defense “designed and negotiated a package totaling approximate $110 billion,” Vice Admiral Joe Rixey, head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency which manages foreign military sales, told reporters Friday in a call from Saudi Arabia, Bloomberg News reports. “When completed, it will be the largest single arms deal in American history.”

              http://dailycaller.com/2017/05/19/trump-to-arrive-in-saudi-arabia-announcing-largest-weapons-sale-in-history/
              (end quote)

              and

              (quote)

              “Saudi Arabia has one of the worst human rights records and has supported many of the extremists terrorizing the people of the Middle East and the world,” said Amash. “These arms sales extend a reckless policy from the Obama administration and prior administrations, and they come at a time when the Saudi government is escalating a gruesome war in Yemen.”

              https://amash.house.gov/media/press-releases/house-members-seek-block-proposed-arms-sales-saudi-arabia

              (end quote)

              • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/27/2017 - 09:03 am.

                The article you referenced says “At present, there is no credible evidence that the Saudi government is financially supporting ISIS.” So what I said is totally correct. And no matter how big the arms sale is, it is just an increase of what has always been substantial. And sure, I admitted that Saudis are not human rights champions but who is in the Middle East except Israel?

    • Submitted by Nick Foreman on 05/23/2017 - 02:58 pm.

      Stupid folks?

      Easy – the people who voted for Trump – see Trump’s budget request which is good only for the rich and the military

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/23/2017 - 05:51 pm.

      New approach ??Vague

      New approach ??

      Vague comments that everyone seems to want peace between Israel and Palestinians is not a new approach.

      The hard issues of borders and sovereignty have not been fixed.

      Perhaps the stupidity lies with those that people that think things change just because Trump said it changed.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/23/2017 - 07:23 pm.

      There is no situation so bad

      that it cannot be made worse.
      Remember, Trump’s main business strategy was bankruptcy, so it’s no surprise that his current proposals are also morally and intellectually bankrupt.

  4. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/23/2017 - 11:34 am.

    Not exactly…

    My late father in-law, a lifetime staunch Republican business man and resident of South Jersey, who grew up in NYC, would be beside himself if still alive: He always pointed out that in all (ALL) of Trump’s deals his partner’s never made out. Trump may experience a win, a loss or a draw; but his partners were sure to lose. Something that his current potential deal partners seem to have picked up on…

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/23/2017 - 01:45 pm.

      Not Just the Partners

      A friend who is an architect in New York City tells me it is common knowledge among design professionals there that you don’t do business with the Trump Organization. The bill will not be paid, despite repeated demands. You will have to take them to court and when, after an unduly drawn-put battle, you get a judgment they still won’t pay. This results in more fighting, and the only offer you will hear from the Trump Organization, will be for far less than the amount due.

      It’s just not worth it.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 05/23/2017 - 02:55 pm.

        Who do they find to do business with?

        How do they find enough contractors to get things done and stay in business if it’s so well-known that they always stiff the people they hire?

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/23/2017 - 03:20 pm.

          And that point is best illustrated by…

          The 63 million people who voted for Trump and the likely core of 50+ million who would vote for him again.
          Results and past history are meaningless to the starstruck….

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/23/2017 - 03:35 pm.

          I Believe

          They hire out-of-town firms, I would guess.

          Trump does not own all that much property in NYC.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/23/2017 - 07:24 pm.

            Trump does not own much property anywhere.

            His main business is selling his name to go on other people’s buildings.

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/23/2017 - 05:02 pm.

    Once again…

    My thanks to RB Holbrook and the other usual suspects here. Mr. Trump’s “art of the deal” seems to be pretty much as Edward Blaise has described it. That is, Mr. Trump won or lost, but his partners in the deal, whatever it was, seem to have rather consistently lost, no matter what happened at the Trump end.

    Be that as it may, I’ve seen no evidence since January 20 that Mr. Trump knows much about anything that would be useful for the leader of a nation of 300 million to know. He obviously doesn’t have a clue about economics, and is content to spout the magical thinking used by Congressional Republicans while taking absolutely undeserved credit for inventing the concept and phrase of “priming the pump.” His knowledge of history, if he has any at all, approximates his knowledge of economics.

    None of this makes him someone likely to be able to make a “deal” with either Arabs or Israelis, or both, which will reduce the tensions in the area to any significant degree, and perhaps just as important, that will in any significant way prove beneficial to the United States. I.F. Stone’s synthesis seems to me to be cogent to a fault, but I doubt that Trump has ever read any of Stone’s work (Stone was something of a hero of mine, as well), and as the quote from 2014 in the commentary suggests, is perfectly willing to throw any statement, person, “cherished value” or entity under the figurative bus if he thinks it will make HIM look good.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/23/2017 - 10:23 pm.

    No

    To begin with, all evidence thus far is that Trumps negotiating skills have been spectacularly exaggerated. The idea that Trump of all people would negotiate a deal here is absurd on the face of it. Trump is simply not the “deal maker” he pretends to be. Beyond that, it’s extremely unlikely that Trump even understands the basic elements of the conflict, let alone will he produce a viable resolution. And finally, it’s more likely than not that no one in the region is taking him seriously at this point.

  7. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 05/24/2017 - 07:12 am.

    What deal making skills?

    Trump’s idea would be to sell corporate naming rights to all the holy sites, bring in the Russians to provide money to buy up all the disputed real estate, turn the West Bank Jewish settlements into resorts and day spas and then cut himself in for 10% of the action. This conflict only looks easy to a guy who has never read a book or newspaper article about it in the last 50 years.

  8. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/24/2017 - 07:20 am.

    Old history and new ideas

    Let’s start with history.

    The UN Palestine partitioning “was a ridiculous plan, which lasted for about 10 seconds, was rejected by pretty much the entire Arab world, which led to the first Arab-Israeli war, which ended with Israel coming into existence with boundaries significantly larger than what the 1947 partition had envisioned.” So why was it ridiculous? Because Arabs rejected it or because pieces intended for each nation were barely touching each other? India was partitions between India and Pakistan with the latter having two pieces not touching each other at all – and no one rejected it and no war broke out… Partitioning was based on population pattern and I would guess that was the best they could do to maintain respective majorities in each proposed state. As for Arabs’ rejecting it, did they do it because they didn’t like the areas they were given (Israel got most of the useless desert at that time, by the way) or because they just didn’t want Israel to exist there? Let’s be honest here and admit that the map had nothing to do with rejection…

    “There was another war in 1967, in which Israel gained still more territory.” This sounds innocent but why did this war start? And what about Jerusalem’s “international status” when Jews couldn’t even come and pray at their most sacred site? And by the way, there was another war in 1973 when the Arabs hoped to finally get rid of Israel forever… And, of course, it was so easy to overlook the offers that Israel made to Palestinians several times and that they dutifully rejected.

    “It will take both sides being so exhausted with endless conflict that they will each embrace some portion of the other side’s “reality” to end this conflict… Well, if history is any guide, this approach will not work – Sunni vs. Shia conflict is about 500 years old and the sides don’t seem to be tired of that…

    And finally, “Stripped of propaganda and sentiment, the Palestine problem is simply the struggle of two different peoples for the same strip of land.” So, which strip of land are we talking about? Obviously, not the entire Palestine before division because Israel accepted partition… So are we talking about that strip of land which is now called Israel? The one that was legally given to it by the UN and which its neighbors still want to have in addition to the rest of the land?

    So, now to real solution… We all know that Trump is ignorant and doesn’t know history and geography (and math and science, I suppose) and all his deal making is fake and all his partners always lost… All previous presidents (including the last one) apparently knew that stuff and were truly skillful negotiators … and nevertheless (or therefore) failed miserably. So what is a logical thing to do here? Try something totally different, maybe politically incorrect, which is what Trump (possibly) wants to do and which clearly bothers so many people… Mr. Smith mentioned this here already (and was immediately attacked). So here is an idea: Trump can tell Abbas that every terrorist act will reduce the financial aid by $10 million and will push negotiations about future Palestinian state a year forward… Maybe then terrorists will not be having squares named after them and their families will not be given money… Please remind me what was the deal that made Germany surrender in 1945?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/24/2017 - 09:08 am.

      The Russian Army

      approaching Berlin.
      It was clear that if the war continued Russian would control most of Germany, which (for good reason) preferred American and British control.
      It is not clear whether they knew how close we were close to developing nuclear weapons. Heisenberg understood the physics, but convinced the Nazis that they were not practical.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/25/2017 - 07:29 am.

        Without going into details, it was brute force and fear of even more of that brute force… That is what works in the world…

    • Submitted by Ken Bearman on 05/24/2017 - 09:42 am.

      New ideas?

      “Trump can tell Abbas”? Abbas has no control over Hamas or Hezbollah or any lone wolf terrorists.

      “[W]hat was the deal that made Germany surrender in 1945?” It wasn’t a deal. It was military defeat. Actually, the Soviet army was almost fully in control of Berlin. After Hitler’s suicide, the remaining German leaders wanted the best outcome they could get without total annihilation, if any more of a defeat was possible.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/25/2017 - 07:29 am.

        He can’t but he can

        Correct, Abbas has no control over Hamas or any particular individuals who want to kill Israelis.. but he does have control over how his government treats those people. On the other hand, if he has no control over a significant chunk of his territory, is it even reasonable to talk to him?

        And yes, it was total military defeat, not negotiations – that was my point.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/24/2017 - 09:58 am.

      Ummm . . .

      “India was partitions between India and Pakistan with the latter having two pieces not touching each other at all – and no one rejected it and no war broke out…”

      When India was partitioned into India and Pakistan, widespread violence started and at least 500,000 people died. There is still tension between the two, and territorial issues (Kashmir) remain unresolved. East Pakistan won its independence and became Bangladesh almost 25 years later after a war that claimed anywhere from 300,000 to 3 million Bangladeshi lives. At least 200,000 Bangladeshi women were victims of genocidal rape.

      Is that what you mean by “no war broke out?”

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/24/2017 - 02:13 pm.

      A little helping of history for you…

      Indo-Pakistani Wars–1947, 1965, 1971, 1999, plus a couple dozen on on-going conflicts/stand-offs, not to mention the atomic race in both countries. Plus the destabilization of Afghanistan, the support of Islamic and Hindu radicalism.

      What a model of comity, eh?

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/25/2017 - 07:30 am.

        About India

        I guess I was in a hurry and didn’t express my point well enough. Yes, there were many wars between India and Pakistan but they were fought over a small piece of land compared to their sizes, similar to many other regional wars. Both sides accepted the partition, were not disputing the existence of the other state, and did not try to annihilate it altogether. Nor was a counterpart to UNRWA created for India/Pakistan refugees…

    • Submitted by Patrick Tice on 05/24/2017 - 04:29 pm.

      A frequent mistake…

      …made by apologists for right-wing Israeli policies is assuming that the Palestinians have the wherewithal to respond to coercion such as you suggest, reducing financial aid. The fact is that they do not, because they don’t have the robust government and attendant organization and infrastructure to respond, even though they might try. Netanyahu continues to press these unreasonable expectations as if the marginalized, rag-tag government of Palestine is on some equal footing with Israel, which it certainly is not – and he aims to keep it that way as the settlements grow and grow. Our continued support of the policies that maintain this awful humanitarian crisis is one that will go down in history as most shameful.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/26/2017 - 07:14 am.

        No mistake

        “The fact is that they do not, because they don’t have the robust government and attendant organization and infrastructure to respond, even though they might try.” I think Palestinian government employs almost half of the population for which they need money so people don’t get too unhappy with them. So yes, they will respond, and quickly, because money is the only thing that keeps Abbas at power.

        “Our continued support of the policies that maintain this awful humanitarian crisis is one that will go down in history as most shameful.” What humanitarian crisis? Palestinians did not accept several offers or used opportunities from both left and right Israeli governments so whatever crisis they have is their own fault. And by the way, Palestinians in refugee camps in Lebanon, for example, live much worse… they can’t even work there.

  9. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/24/2017 - 09:26 am.

    So…

    You’re saying that Abbas is ordering every terrorist attack and could easily turn them off? The idea that you can put folks into refugee camps for 75 years and not have a terrorist backlash is the problem. And that problem is only confounded when the occasional and self appointed referee (the U.S.) jumps in and makes every call for the home team. The universal human want is a place to live, food, meaningful employment and a better life for their children than they have. Take that away in large measures and imaging that the resulting terrorist motivations can be controlled by “kicking butt” is pure fantasy….

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/25/2017 - 07:31 am.

      I didn’t say that

      I did not say that Abbas is ordering terrorist attacks but he does control the overall mood and attitudes of Palestinians. ISIS doesn’t order every terrorist attack that is committed in their name but it inspires all of them.

      So 75 years of refugee camps… Well, even modern Israel is just 70 years… and then Jordan and Egypt were in control of the future Arab state for 20 year. Did they create a big refugee camp? Possibly.. But then, when Israel won those areas in 1967, it significantly improved lives of Palestinians so they did have “a place to live, food, meaningful employment and a better life for their children than they have.” Nor was there any significant number of settlements for another 10 years… So what was the motivation for terrorism?

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/25/2017 - 09:25 am.

        Someone else

        taking their land?
        The British were big on giving away other people’s property.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/26/2017 - 07:15 am.

          Who was it?

          So who was taking their land? Israel? But it was the UN’s decision and if Palestinians disagree with that, they cannot ask it to help them get their portion. In this case, they lost the war and to the victor go the spoils. Or are you talking about Jordan and Egypt which grabbed the West bank and Gaza respectively?

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/25/2017 - 09:57 am.

    It’s always funny…

    When Republican/Conservatives try to offer history lessons that are almost completely devoid of any reliable historical observations. It’s beyond ironic because Conservatives are supposed to be the ones who keep liberals from foolishly repeating the mistakes of the past, yet all we ever get from Conservatives or Republicans is history lessons tailored to fit their current ideological priorities, we fantasy or nostalgia pretending to be history.

    This is how ideology destroys integrity, and intellectual work without integrity is always facile. It’s nice to see that we have an audience here that can and will correct the historical record. While tedious, it is important that we don’t surrender the field to fantasy and ignorance. Thanks to all those who have risen to the challenge.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/26/2017 - 07:16 am.

      Some examples, please

      Can you please be specific what “history lessons that are almost completely devoid of any reliable historical observations” do you mean? And what “fantasy and ignorance” are you talking about? Just some examples, please..

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/26/2017 - 10:07 am.

        Two examples from your comment obove

        1) And, of course, it was so easy to overlook the offers that Israel made to Palestinians several times and that they dutifully rejected.

        The Palestinians didn’t reject the Road Map to peace, they accepted it. The Palestinians who accepted the framework (and that was a majority at the time) did so because they thought it would create an independent Palestinian State. When they found out what kind of “State” it would actually create (i.e. something that looked more like a reservation than a truly independent country) they demanded actual sovereignty. That demand emerged as the first intifada in 1987.

        2) “So are we talking about that strip of land which is now called Israel? The one that was legally given to it by the UN and which its neighbors still want to have in addition to the rest of the land?”

        We’re obviously not talking about Israel, we’re talking about the West Bank and Gaza. The WB and Gaza were NOT given to Israel legally by the UN, nor were they taken legally according to international law. The settlements in dispute are all beyond the Israeli borders established by the UN in 1948. The existence or continued existence of Israel has not been a legitimate issue for decades. With the exception of some extreme rhetoric here and there the Palestinian Authority, the PLO before it (i.e. Yasser Arafat), and the rest of the Arab world have long since accepted the facts on the ground. None of the peace plans the Palestinians have agreed to starting in 1973, required the dismantling of Israel. There has been no existential threat to Israel since 1973, or really since 1967.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/29/2017 - 09:03 am.

          I was talking about Barak’s and Olmert’s offers, both of which were rejected by the Palestinians… Why? Do they expect anything better? https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/jan/03/israel2.

          “We’re obviously not talking about Israel, we’re talking about the West Bank and Gaza. The WB and Gaza were NOT given to Israel legally by the UN, nor were they taken legally according to international law.” I said it before: there were no settlements before 1973 nor their land was under Israel control before 1967. Why didn’t they have their state then? Please try to explain this… As for Israel’s existence, why do you think it was attacked the next day after creation? Why was it attacked again and again? Why isn’t it recognized by the Arab states? What about Hamas which governs Gaza and enjoys greater support than PLO?

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2017 - 08:40 am.

            So now history is irrelevant?

            Ilya, you’re debate gaming. First all that matters is what happened PRIOR to 1967, now everything that happened before 2003 is irrelevant. You’re just trying to find a context that fits your argument rather than develop a position drawn from reliable facts and historical context.

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 06/05/2017 - 10:07 pm.

              Where did I say that only certain events matter? Where is my position not based on reliable facts and historical context?

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/25/2017 - 02:16 pm.

    As for the conflict itself…

    Palestinian demands for sovereignty are not the product of an alternate mentality without basis in reality. Nor is the Israeli demand for security and an end to Palestinian terrorism. The problem with the notion of a dialogue comprised to two monologues is that it frames the conflict as little more than an irrational difference of opinion. Such narratives put resolution beyond reach because they require that one side accept the irrational perspective of the other side, itself an irrational expectation.

    This conflict isn’t about irrational perspectives or two groups of people just aren’t getting along with each other. We have a Government that is expanding it’s territory, and taking real land from real people by force. That’s not a monologue, its an historical fact. We have a population that’s resisting those annexations, again, fact not monologue.

    For the most part, the Israeli government has taken two approaches towards “resolving” the conflict. The first, dating from around 1967-1995 or so was to assume that Palestinians would just go away. When the Israelis began their occupations it never occurred to them that this would trigger a decades long conflict.

    When the Palestinians failed to evaporate or otherwise accept their fate, the Israeli Government switched to another approach which has been one of imposing American style “reservations” ( Starting around the time of the Camp David Summit until the present) similar to those created for Native Americans. If you look at the qualities of the Palestinian territories the Israeli’s are trying to impose, they have all the qualities of dependent sovereignty that the American government imposed on Indian people here in the US.

    Obviously Palestinians have rejected both of the “solutions” the Israeli’s have tried to impose, and that’s the core of the conflict. It’s not a different monologue its a demand for sovereignty. While the Israeli’s continue to attempt to impose their reservation solution, the Palestinians continue to demand genuine sovereignty.

    A genuine two-state solution that gives Palestinians the sovereignty they want, and provides peace and security for the people Israel is the only workable solution.

    It’s not clear that the Israeli government actually wants peace, they seem to have decided (although not acknowledged publicly) that a certain amount of violence is acceptable as the price paid for expanding settlements and territory. It’s a calculation they can afford to make, the casualty and fatality figures are certainly on their side. There are elements within the Palestinian leadership that aren’t very keen on the idea of peace as well, but the onus lay primarily on the Israelis because they are obviously the more powerful of the two parties, and in the best position to offer the compromises that can end the conflict.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/26/2017 - 07:18 am.

      Wrong perceptions

      “We have a Government that is expanding it’s territory, and taking real land from real people by force.” I suppose you mean Israeli government but you should know that there were no settlements until 1967 and even by 1973 there were just a few thousands settler. So why wasn’t there peace then between Israel and Palestinians? What were Palestinians resisting at that time?

      You said that Israel’s approach “…dating from around 1967-1995 or so was to assume that Palestinians would just go away.” First, see my question above: why wasn’t there peace before 1967? And second, Israelis did not think that Palestinians would go away; in fact, they significantly improved their lives after 1967…

      You said that after that “the Israeli Government switched to another approach which has been one of imposing American style “reservations.” You mean to say that by leaving Gaza Sharon wanted to create a reservation there? And what do other Arab countries impose on Palestinians within their borders by keeping them in refugee camps?

      “Obviously Palestinians have rejected both of the “solutions” the Israeli’s have tried to impose, and that’s the core of the conflict. It’s not a different monologue its a demand for sovereignty.” So again, why didn’t Palestinians grab their sovereignty in 1948 or any time before 1967? Why didn’t they accept it when it was offered to them several times in recent years? And why is the “rejection” expressing itself in the form of terrorism?

      “There are elements within the Palestinian leadership that aren’t very keen on the idea of peace as well,” So who are those who want the peace? Can you name them?

      “the onus lay primarily on the Israelis because they are obviously the more powerful of the two parties, and in the best position to offer the compromises that can end the conflict.” So what should that compromise be? What should it include?

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/26/2017 - 10:57 am.

        Ilya…

        I’m not going to attempt to lay out a detailed peace plan here. The basic framework for a two state solution has been in place for decades and you can look that up for yourself, just google the “Oslo Accords”. Israel has always objected to that framework because it involves a return to the 1967 borders more or less.

        Israel occupied/annexed the West Bank and Gaza during the Six Day War of 1967, that occupation is what the Palestinians were resisting. The nature of the occupation has changed, it’s now a combination of physical occupation and virtual occupation (i.e. the reservation model) and the conflict has changed accordingly.

        The history of Israel is easy to obtain, if you want to know about the Arab-Israeli wars that preceded the Palestinian conflict you can look that up; suffice to say the Arabs were none too happy about the creation of Israel and tried to destroy it several times. .

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/27/2017 - 09:05 am.

          “The basic framework for a two state solution has been in place for decades and you can look that up for yourself, just google the “Oslo Accords”. Israel has always objected to that framework because it involves a return to the 1967 borders more or less.” Israel agreed even if reluctantly; Palestinians rejected all Israel’s offers, even when Clinton tried to convince them…

          “Israel occupied/annexed the West Bank and Gaza during the Six Day War of 1967, that occupation is what the Palestinians were resisting,” Again, why wasn’t there peace before 1967? Can you answer this question?

          • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 05/28/2017 - 07:00 am.

            If Israel offered such wonderful terms….

            Why didn’t they leave them on the table. Rather most of these agreements were based on the barest minimums of hard facts and loads of propaganda. Offering Bantustans and not letting the “reluctant” offers actually see the light of day shows what con jobs these “peace” offerings were. A lot more peoples around the world have settled land disputes or rights for people far easier than a clearly demarcated line drawn by the UN. But then if I have a guaranteed veto and endless propaganda, why would I ever give up anything.

            “Again, why wasn’t there peace before 1967? Can you answer this question”. Answered below. Again surprised you aren’t aware of Palestinian history before 1967. But then.

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/30/2017 - 07:19 am.

              Please tell me

              “If Israel offered such wonderful terms, Why didn’t they leave them on the table.” That is exactly why: Because they were so wonderful for Palestinians. If you bank offers you a low refinancing rate, it doesn’t mean that it will stay on the table tomorrow if you refuse it today… Clinton was sure thinking that the terms were good… So, now please tell me: what was wrong with Israel’s offer? And, on the other hand, when Israel left Gaza with no preconditions, why wasn’t it turned into free, prosperous, and terrorism free Palestinian area to convince Israelis that this is what Palestinians would do in the West bank as well?

              • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 06/01/2017 - 02:08 am.

                I sure will tell

                Even a used car dealer (and a bank also) has to allow the customer to review and rescind within three days. And yet the “peace deals” offered by Israel were so wonderful that they couldn’t see the light of day. I guess we had to trust Bill Clinton. Could you update me how much AIPAC money have the Clinton’s taken.

                “Gaza with no preconditions, why wasn’t it turned into free, prosperous, and terrorism free Palestinian ” – Lets replace fiction with fact.

                “A British Parliamentary commission, summing up the situation eight months later, found that the Rafah crossing agreement worked efficiently, that from January–April 2006, the Karni crossing was closed 45% of the time, and severe limitations were in place on exports from Gaza, with, according to OCHA figures, only 1,500 of 8,500 tons of produce getting through; that they were informed most closures were unrelated to security issues in Gaza but either responses to violence in the West Bank or for no given reason. ”

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_disengagement_from_Gaza#Greenhouses

                • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 06/02/2017 - 07:27 am.

                  “Even a used car dealer (and a bank also) has to allow the customer to review and rescind within three days.” Absolutely correct except the customer has to first agree to the conditions… Palestinians never did so your example is irrelevant.

                  “Lets replace fiction with fact.” Great, so how about the fact that greenhouses left by Israelis were looted immediately after withdrawal, that Hamas won the election in January of 2006 (a mere 4 month after withdrawal which should have been a boost for Fatah; instead Hamas, which rejects Israel’s existence and supports violence, won – why would it be?), and that at the end of September there were rockets shot into Israel. Plus, why didn’t Palestinians use the Egyptian crossing for export?

                  And you still didn’t tell what was wrong with Israel’s offer…

      • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 05/27/2017 - 07:35 am.

        Alternative Facts don’t make a reality.

        “So why wasn’t there peace then between Israel and Palestinians? What were Palestinians resisting at that time?”. Before 1967 the resistance was mostly led by other Arab govts for the abrogation of the ENTIRE UN resolution. After 1967 the PLO took over and a majority of them agreed for a statehood on the UN border. That is common fact in any history book. Most of the world thought that was a workable solution, until of course the settlement con started. This is well known history and i’m not sure why anyone would wonder what a Palestinian was fighting for before 1967.

        “they significantly improved their lives after 1967…” – Nope. They were given no freedom and i’m not sure what exactly was the significantly improved life under Israel. Under Jordan and Egpyt they were allowed to attend university in any of their host countries facilities. Not in Israel. They were not allowed to fly the Palestinian flag, no freedom of speech etc.

        “So again, why didn’t Palestinians grab their sovereignty in 1948 or any time before 1967? Why didn’t they accept it when it was offered to them several times in recent years? And why is the “rejection” expressing itself in the form of terrorism?” Who represented the Palestinians in the UN when their land was screwed from them in 1947?. Why build settlements when the whole world has unequivocally stated that the land belongs to the Palestinians ? Why offer them Bantustans and pretend Israel is all for peace ? What did Isarel do to set forth an area of land for Palestinians and tell the world “see we aside that land”. Can’t keep eating the cake and pretending that the cake is for me.

        “So who are those who want the peace? Can you name them?” Those who show up for negotiations only to be offered Bantustans.

        “So what should that compromise be? What should it include?” Why don’t you answer that. What rights do you envisions for Palestinians on that land ?

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/30/2017 - 07:20 am.

          Real facts

          “Before 1967 the resistance was mostly led by other Arab govts for the abrogation of the ENTIRE UN resolution.” I am glad you admit that Arabs wanted to get rid of the entire State of Israel. But why didn’t Palestinians create their own state despite what other Arab states wanted? Did they resist when Jordan and Egypt occupied West Bank and Gaza respectively?

          “After 1967 the PLO took over and a majority of them agreed for a statehood on the UN border. That is common fact in any history book.” No, this is not a fact al all. PLO was created in 1964, before 1967 war, meaning that Palestine Liberation meant eliminating Israel; and PLO did not recognize Israel until 1993. And what about 1972 Munich terrorist attack?

          “i’m not sure what exactly was the significantly improved life under Israel” GDP per capita rose 7% annually from 1968 to 1980, life expectancy rose by 10 years and infant mortality was halved http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_the_Palestinian_territories.

          “Who represented the Palestinians in the UN when their land was screwed from them in 1947?” I don’t know – I guess they let other Arab countries do it. Who represented Israel, which didn’t exist yet, in 1947? However, I can see some validity to this point – Palestinians did not agree at that time to the partition… Fine, but then accept that the Arabs lost several wars after that and, therefore, should lose the land, just like Germany lost the land after the WWII; in other words, they can’t go back to the same UN, whose decision they rejected, and ask for help in enforcing that decision…

          “Why build settlements when the whole world has unequivocally stated that the land belongs to the Palestinians ?” So that there is some buffer between the Israel land and the Arab states which attacked Israel in 1973.. And there practically were no settlements before that…

          “Why offer them Bantustans and pretend Israel is all for peace?” You mean offer them the entire Gaza with the infrastructure intact?

          “”So who are those who want the peace? Can you name them?” Those who show up for negotiations…” Showing up for negotiations doesn’t prove intent to negotiate. What did Palestinians offer?

          “”So what should that compromise be? What should it include?” Why don’t you answer that. What rights do you envisions for Palestinians on that land?” They will have full rights on their land… or, more precisely, whatever their government will allow them to have…

          • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 06/01/2017 - 02:03 am.

            Fiction is not fact

            ” I am glad you admit that Arabs wanted to get rid of the entire State of Israel. ” – I’m really glad you finally get around to admitting why Palestinians were fighting before 1967. No they didn’t resist Egypt and Jordan cause both were not exactly building settlements on those lands. Surprised you aren’t aware of this fact.

            “GDP per capita rose 7% annually from 1968 to 1980, life expectancy rose by 10 years and infant mortality was halved http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_the_Palestinian_territories.” – The very article that Wikipedia links to states that Israel did absolutely nothing, other than to offer additional low skilled employment for Palestinians. Also life expectancy in Egypt and Jordan rose at the same levels or even higher during the same period. So again, what exactly did Israel do to improve the Occupied Lands. Nothing.

            “Arabs lost several wars after that and, therefore, should lose the land” – Except for tiny document called the Geneva Convention. Israel objects to UN Resolutions. Does that mean that UN can abrogate all resolutions regarding Israel ?

            “You mean offer them the entire Gaza with the infrastructure intact?” Sorry, but this is pure fiction. Israel evacuated Gaza, wit settlers destroying a lot of the infrastructure and made it a prison. There are entire headlines as to how Palestinians who tried to export produce had it deliberately rotting on the border. Dore Gold the Israeli advisor openly stated that Israeli withdrawal was nothing more than to screw up the peace process.

            ” What did Palestinians offer?” – What would you want a prisoner to offer.

            “They will have full rights on their land… ” – except you won’t state what is their land.

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 06/02/2017 - 07:28 am.

              No fiction on my part

              “I’m really glad you finally get around to admitting why Palestinians were fighting before 1967.” Oh, I always knew it – to get rid of Israel… which shows who is really to blame that there was no peace in 1950 or 1960.

              “No they didn’t resist Egypt and Jordan cause both were not exactly building settlements on those lands.” That’s right – Jordan just annexed the entire West Bank… and Palestinians didn’t say a word which shows that having an independent state was not an issue for them – being part of Jordan was perfectly OK.

              “The very article that Wikipedia links to states that Israel did absolutely nothing, other than to offer additional low skilled employment for Palestinians.” And which in turn spurred domestic economic activity, per this report. Obviously, for all practical purposes, for advancement people need jobs and that is what Israel provided (and Jordan and Egypt did not which is why life expectancy and infant mortality were so much worse in the West Bank than in Jordan itself). Plus, the report says that there were hospitals built (a jump from 0 to 1.9 beds per 1000 people) and so were schools considering significant increase in school enrollment.

              “”Arabs lost several wars after that and, therefore, should lose the land” – Except for tiny document called the Geneva Convention. Sure, the UN may still consider that but the Arabs, having rejected another UN document, cannot. And where is that Geneva Convention when it comes to other occupied place, such as Western Sahara, for example?

              “Israel evacuated Gaza, wit settlers destroying a lot of the infrastructure and made it a prison.” At least half of the greenhouses were left intact (but were nearly destroyed by the looters)… And Gaza had an Egyptian exit – what prison are you talking about (even if we do not consider that Gaza is run by Hamas, a terror group)…

              “” What did Palestinians offer?” – What would you want a prisoner to offer.” Give up that prison analogy – as I said, even if Israel doesn’t allow exit, there is one through Egypt. But even Israel significantly limited movement only after Hamas, a murderous terrorist organization which kills as many Israelis as it can, came to power there. So again, what did Palestinians offer? Stop killing Israelis would be a good beginning…

              “”They will have full rights on their land… ” – except you won’t state what is their land.” Whatever Palestinians negotiate with Israel after stopping terrorism…Plus, you asked me about rights, not borders.

              • Submitted by Raj Maddali on 06/02/2017 - 05:02 pm.

                When confronted with facts, revert to fiction

                “which shows who is really to blame that there was no peace in 1950 or 1960.” – you made the claim there was no claim for a Palestinian state before 1967.

                “Jordan just annexed the entire West Bank… and Palestinians didn’t say a word which shows that having an independent state was not an issue for them – being part of Jordan was perfectly OK.” – Cause they were still in their original claim pre 1967, which Jordan fully supported. A very convenient omission.

                “the report says that there were hospitals built (a jump from 0 to 1.9 beds per 1000 people) and so were schools considering significant increase in school enrollment.” – Contrary to your claim none of this infrastructure was built by Israel. False claim. Also you provide no link to prove that Israel particitpated in programs or for that matter anything to improve mortalities.

                “And where is that Geneva Convention when it comes to other occupied place, such as Western Sahara, for example?” – It still applies in the Western Sahara. An unpopulated place, compared to the prison Israel has created for Palestinians. And the UN has ruled repeatedly on it. On one hand you claim the UN Resolutions as a vindication but pretend they don’t exist elsewhere.

                “And Gaza had an Egyptian exit – what prison are you talking about (even if we do not consider that Gaza is run by Hamas, a terror group)…” – And just like the greenhouses, thanks for admitting that Isarel did everything to undermine Gaza. That runs contrary to your insinuation that oh god how wonderful Gaza could’ve been. Israel is the Occupational Authority and pointing to Egypt is an canard.

                “At least half of the greenhouses were left intact (but were nearly destroyed by the looters)… ” – which means the other half were destroyed by Israelis.

                “Plus, you asked me about rights, not borders.” – Rights would include borders, else they’re prisoners rights.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/28/2017 - 10:36 am.

    Getting back to who’s rejected what and when

    The history of the Israeli Palestinian conflict is complex but in a strange way the fog has lifted in recent years and a broad outline is now clearly visible.

    There have been several talks, accords, and summits over the decades, and you can all investigate those in detail at your leisure. A basic outline can be organized around an Israeli phrase that claims that: Arabs/Palestinians/Arafat never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The origin of this phrase is a little foggy now, but it a nice starting point because it encapsulates the basic Israeli narrative.

    When applied the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the narrative ties to establish that the Palestinians have had several chances to obtain the sovereign nation they desire, but have either rejected or otherwise failed to take advantage of the opportunity.

    While the claim that Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity is a clever phrase that has enjoyed considerable rhetorical success, its actually a fatuous historical claims. In fact with the possible exception of Yitzhak Rabin and Barack Obama no one in the Israeli or American government has ever lent genuine support to the creation of an independent, truly sovereign Palestinian State. In the early days a Palestinian State was considered a security threat while in later years it’s been considered more of an unnecessary concession that would more complicated for Israel to live with than a reservation model of some kind.

    The motivations behind this may have been more obscured in the past but the Israeli pretense of accepting a two-state solution has broken down in recent years revealing an clear antipathy towards that peace plan. The Israeli government seems to think they can just ride this out and eventually impose their version of sovereignty upon the Palestinians, in some cases they now openly reject a two state solution.

    What happened on the Palestinian side can basically be summed up as an acceptance of the peace plan so long as they thought it was leading to an independent Palestinian State. As that expectation has collapsed, so has the peace process. Basically many Palestinians now think that their leaders were duped into accepting a peace plan what would not yield a legitimate Palestinian State. That loss of credibility created a power vacuum leading the rise of more extreme and militant Palestinian leadership like Hamas.

    In many ways it was actually the Israelis and the Americans who missed the opportunity. Had they truly supported a REAL two state solution, the moderate Palestinians they were negotiating with would have established and held power. Instead by pretending to support the plan while substituting a reservation model, they pushed the Palestinians back into a more radical form of resistance. In many ways Hamas is actually more radically anti Israeli and the PLO had been.

    Back in 2012 Alan Dershowitz and Noam Chomsky had a “debate” about the nature of the conflict and the possible resolutions. It’s an hour and a half long, but I would say it’s well worth the time for anyone who’s looking for a clear breakdown of the conflict. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ux4JU_sbB0

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/30/2017 - 07:21 am.

      Real history

      “While the claim that Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity is a clever phrase that has enjoyed considerable rhetorical success, its actually a fatuous historical claims.” OK, they had been missing that opportunity for 20 years, until 1967, to begin with, right? And you don’t think that Clinton and Barak offered a lot to Arafat? Or how about Sharon’s full withdrawal from Gaza and leaving all infrastructure intact? Why wasn’t Gaza turned into free, prosperous, and terrorism free Palestinian area to convince Israelis that this is what Palestinians would do in the West bank as well? Or Olmert’s offer? That was all pretense? Then why didn’t Palestinians come up with a viable offer of their own? So yes, finally, after all of this, Israelis realized that nothing would work until a major change of heart among Palestinians… and that doesn’t seem likely in the near future.

      “What happened on the Palestinian side can basically be summed up as an acceptance of the peace plan so long as they thought it was leading to an independent Palestinian State.” So you think all they wanted was an Independent state? Nothing else?

      “Basically many Palestinians now think that their leaders were duped into accepting a peace plan what would not yield a legitimate Palestinian State.” What peace plan did they accept? But anyway, even if it’s true, is killing Israelis with bombs, rockets, and knives a correct response?

      “In many ways it was actually the Israelis and the Americans who missed the opportunity. Had they truly supported a REAL two state solution, the moderate Palestinians they were negotiating with would have established and held power. Instead by pretending to support the plan while substituting a reservation model, they pushed the Palestinians back into a more radical form of resistance.” So one more time: Barak and Clinton’s offer was al “pretending?” It was not an offer of a REAL two state solution?

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2017 - 09:03 am.

        Again, no.

        “OK, they had been missing that opportunity for 20 years, until 1967, to begin with, right?”

        Again, reliable information about the nature and history of the Palestinian people is just as easy to obtain as is the history of Israeil, I merely note that Ilya has clearly not bothered to obtain that history. There’s no point in debating history with someone who keep fabricating “facts” to support a fatuous “argument”.

        Anyone who keeps trying to pick an historical era (be it 20 years prior to 1967, or AFTER 2003) that fits their “argument” is simply not interested in serious intellectual discourse. In this case Ilya is conflating the Palestinian Israeli Conflict with the Arab Israeli Conflicts that preceded it… whatever.

        As for the Palestinians, sovereignty doesn’t typically become an issue until someone takes it away from someone else, and that process is rarely uncomplicated or clearly demarcated in time, it’s often a process that takes decades if not centuries. The struggle for Palestinian and Native American sovereignty for instance is ongoing, it’s still not settled. The Palestinians didn’t lose their sovereignty on a particular date, or within a discrete time frame. Nor did the Palestinians start out with no sovereignty and miss an opportunity to obtain it. Again, the nature and history of the Palestinian people is easy to obtain for anyone who genuinely interested.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 06/04/2017 - 04:31 pm.

          Specifics, please

          “Again, reliable information about the nature and history of the Palestinian people is just as easy to obtain as is the history of Israeil, I merely note that Ilya has clearly not bothered to obtain that history. There’s no point in debating history with someone who keep fabricating “facts” to support a fatuous “argument”. So which facts have I “fabricated?”

          “Anyone who keeps trying to pick an historical era (be it 20 years prior to 1967, or AFTER 2003) that fits their “argument” is simply not interested in serious intellectual discourse. In this case Ilya is conflating the Palestinian Israeli Conflict with the Arab Israeli Conflicts that preceded it… whatever.” What am I picking? And the Arab-Israeli conflict is the same as Palestinians-Israeli conflict… Aren’t Palestinians Arabs and aren’t they generally following the Arab line? If it is different, why didn’t they create their own state in 1948 despite Arabs’ rejection? You just can’t answer those questions…

          “As for the Palestinians, sovereignty doesn’t typically become an issue until someone takes it away from someone else, and that process is rarely uncomplicated or clearly demarcated in time, it’s often a process that takes decades if not centuries. The struggle for Palestinian and Native American sovereignty for instance is ongoing, it’s still not settled. The Palestinians didn’t lose their sovereignty on a particular date, or within a discrete time frame. Nor did the Palestinians start out with no sovereignty and miss an opportunity to obtain it. Again, the nature and history of the Palestinian people is easy to obtain for anyone who genuinely interested.” That is true – the history is easy to obtain… and it says that the UN adopted a resolution that created a Jewish and Arab state in the British mandate territory so sovereignty was handed to both Jews and Arabs, just like the sovereignty was handed to India and Pakistan. However, Jews accepted their state and Arabs did not (but tried to take it away from Jews). What is so complicated here? I also have not heard of many terrorist acts committed by Native Americans…

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