George Bush in Jerusalem: Not Too Late for a Legacy

Bernard Avishai

My friend Bernard Avishai suggests on his bracing, clarifying blog from Jerusalem that everybody traveling with President Bush in the Mideast this week should stop and see a popular Israeli movie, “The Band’s Visit.” It’s about an Egyptian policemen’s marching band from Alexandria that finds itself by mistake in a forlorn Israeli desert community, and then about the bandleader and the woman who welcomes him, unpacking their humanity and their love for one another. The film, Bernie writes, is “the best proof we have that, for ordinary people, peace is already here.”

The reason why this movie is so powerful and so loved is, I think, we’re sort of past these rather stale notions of national self determination and so on. After all the European Community, the European Union is this big mixed up thing. You know, people are starting to see in this country, (I’m talking about the educated elites in this country, really, but even people whose politics wouldn’t be reflected in their love of this movie) … it’s just that we’re all tired of this. We’re tired of this. We know already that there are human beings on the other side. It’s hard not to see it staring you in front of your nose every single day. And I think we are hungry here for us to be snapped out of this war, because we know that it doesn’t take much for the escalation to start, and the polarization to start, and once that happens you start demonizing the other side all over again. And that’s exactly why we need help. We need help, brother. We need help. We need to go for help.

Bernard Avishai, in conversation with Open Source, January 10, 2008

Click to listen to Chris’s conversation with Bernard Avishai and Steven Erlanger here (31 minutes, 14 MB MP3)

That plea for help is front-and-center in the compact power-point primer for Bush & Company on Bernard Avishai’s blog. And in our conversation today (with The New York Times’ Steven Erlanger) Avishai explains why the plea goes unavoidably to the President of the United States.

We need more Dr. Kissinger and less Dr. Phil here. We need an American president who understands that the difficulties both leaders have — Abbas and Olmert — are not difficulties of personal popularity. The reason why Abbas, the reason why Olmert, will be unpopular taking any stand in favor of “the deal” is because they know each of them are going to have to split their country, as it were, to get it. Abbas does not want to take on his Islamists and radicals and so on, the people running Gaza, he doesn’t want to take them on for the sake of the goodwill of the other side. Olmert does not want to take on his rightists, including the vast majority of the people of Jerusalem, in order to sell a deal which is supposed to be good for them and the other side. Nobody trusts the other side. So what each need to have is some third force — to trust, to sell, to fear — in order to sell something without having to trust the other side. And that third force can only be America. Olmert has got to be able to go to the Israeli people and say: look, it’s not me, it’s America. We can’t have distance between ourselves and the United States. We need to do this because the Americans need it. It’s in America’s interest. The world wants it. We cannot defy American interests over this. That puts his opposition on the defensive. Otherwise the opposition says: you want to do this deal for those Palestinians who are sending missiles into Ashkelon. That’s his dilemma.

Bernard Avishai, in conversation with Open Source, January 10, 2008

Steve Erlanger, the Times bureau chief in Jerusalem for the last three and a half years, wonders if George Bush after so much loss of altitude at home and in the Middle East, remembers how much clout he still commands.

Just look at Annapolis. Whatever you thought of the Annapolis meeting, the United States snapped its fingers and within a week got 49 countries to come to Washington, including the Saudi foreign minister and the Syrian deputy foreign minister. That was power. That power has not disappeared. George Bush may be considered — particulary at home — a weak figure and abroad he may be hated by many people. But this notion that American power is down the drain is simply wrong.

Steven Erlanger, in conversation with Open Source, January 10, 2008

Bernie Avishai wonders if President Bush ever reflects that as the occupying power in Iraq, he is effectively a member of the Arab League, in which his mostly Sunni Moslem colleagues “desperately want to get the Arab-Israeli conflict behind them, because it’s roiling their streets, and the biggest problem is Egypt. Everybody knows that Egypt could be next.”

Avishai is a tough analyst and an incorrigible optimist who leaves you believing not so much in George Bush’s late “legacy” play but in the complexity of local logics driving toward a resolution. Steve Erlanger notes that Bill Clinton was even later than Bush in bearing down on the Palestinian-Israeli puzzle. So there may be some unexpected comfort in this candid conversation.


Comments

25 thoughts on “George Bush in Jerusalem: Not Too Late for a Legacy

  1. We have a policy here of pressing the mute button when Bush comes on. So Mr. Erlanger Bush is hated here as well, not only weak. That said, before the sound could be muted, I heard all the right words- amazingly, from Bush. The inescapable is that he is in a rush to end his presidency with something good after he has wrecked it and us. Clinton was too, but he was at least fully engaged and using his intellect as well as his power to help sort things out.

    Here you have two willing but weak leaders ( Abbas and Olmert) and you have a third force, formidable, locked out of the party altogether.

    Why won’t Bush “allow” Olmert to have a rapprochement with Syria?

    Yes we are all tired of this, tired of this, tired of this.

    Now I will listen- thank you.

  2. ( pardon the length of this)

    The first thing I thought of with this Annapolis push was how failure once again would affect the two publics, Israeli, Arab- not to mention those to whom this is important here in the US, the rest of the Arab world- the whole world- adding disappointment upon disappointment to already deep cynicism. I found this fear as well in many quarters including a recent NYTimes editorial, and from Daniel Barenboim in a Haaretz article today announcing that he has become a Palestinian citizen.

    Regarding core issues : A strong Palestinian leader would prepare his people for the inevitable realities wif they want peace: that it is not possible to return; there is no way refugees will be allowed to return but for a token number. But they will be allowed to return to a state of Palestine. A strong Israeli leader would say “we will have to be ready give up the settlements, some long established ones, and land; we have to risk because there is no choice; every road has risk”. This is preparation for compromise. But these are important bargaining chips. Bush has no right to on the one hand say the deal is up to the Palestinians and the Israeli’s and then to prejudice that by saying some settlement blocs should remain and refugees cannot return even if we know this. This takes away from the bargaining and makes Abbas look weak. It also makes Bush look biased unless and until he gets really tough with Israel. Palestinians don’t trust Bush.

    Bush has no power to de-legitimize or eliminate Hamas either through threats and isolation. Only the Palestinian people can do that by not supporting the Hamas way. But the Hamas way has been effective. Hamas has managed to convince many of this and the need to keep fighting.

    How will Hamas be dealt with beyond retaliation preemption (which strengthen Hamas) and the economic squeeze on Gaza which the Palestinians tend to blame Israel for? Where are the carrots for Hamas to moderate? Shas party chairman Yishai says “we cannot make peace with half of the Palestinians”. Who helped create that split?

    Bush cannot make Olmert strong with mere words either especially when his coalition is threatened if Olmert makes the necessary compromises. Palestinians can’t make peace with a divided Israel.

    Regarding the suggestion that Israel needs the US pressure as an excuse to make peace: The attitude that some Israeli’s hold that they do not need/want the US aid or interference if it means giving away what is theirs may last for more than one month (contrary to Avishai’s powerpoint). Israeli’s can be as stubbornly and proud as Palestinians.

    More importantly does the US (Bush administration) want to pressure the parties enough; do they really believe peace is that vital after these 7 years of enabling? Or is this conflict something to turn to at the end of a failed Presidency for a crack at

    “legacy” and ultimately just plain theater. Some will then be able to say “at least Bush tried”.

    As was said in this interview, Bush of course should have picked up where Clinton left off. But he did not. Everything that had the Clinton label, we hear, was swept out. Ariel Sharon removed the negotiating table. It was okay with Bush. Bush went for Iraq instead and in the process gave Sharon the excuse of the need for a “war on terrorism” for these past critical years when negotiators could have been ironing things out further.

    Isn’t the real third party that is pushing this (and Sunni Arabs) Iran? and Iran through Syria Hamas and Hezbollah?

    Israel is also pushed by the realization that it is morphing into an undemocratic Jewish state with movements to become democratic and bi-national as the two-state solution is frustrated. For the vocal holdouts (hardliners and extremists deaf to outside pressures) and those in Israel scared of any risk at all, or resigned to an endless imaginary status quo that relies on a high tech military solution, Israel is managing very well thank you. Life goes on pretty normally. Israel as an economic success story even if handicapped one that is prevented from becoming “the silicon valley of the Middle East”. Israel is doing well enough (at least for some). The wall works.

    So let’s talk about the judgment and the legacy this president really deserves for the last seven years which will not be fixed by anything that he does now including his tone deafness zipping through an Israeli checkpoint with his entourage on the way to the West Bank and his planned trip for the 60th anniversary of Israeli independence as the Palestinians mourn their loss this coming May.

    Bernard Avishai at the end pleads that strong help is needed, as addicts who need help need confinement, or those who are mad and harm themselves or others need medication or a straightjacket. We don’t have a leader at the moment for this.

  3. I believe in a “complexity of local logics driving toward a resolution,” but Bush as a peacemaker is a notion even too ironic for the Daily Show.

    Listen to the average Palestinian on the ground:

    “He makes peace out of killing Muslims.”

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0111/p01s04-wome.html

    I agree with Potter about the question of carrots for Hamas. The irony is their rhetoric is about ignoring/isolating Hamas, but the reality is no one was even giving Abbas the time of day before Hamas won Gaza – now Abbas is the go to guy. Which means they are not truly ignoring Hamas, and if they want to make progress they should remove that sheen and give Hamas the DIGNITY of direct talks – It worked with Sinn Fein in Ireland and it will work with Iran in the future.

  4. “Nothing will change and the situation will not improve as long as Israel maintains its 562 checkpoints, continues the building of thousands of housing units in more than 800 settlements, and continues building the segregation wall and has not dismantled a single settlement.”

    - Mustafa al-Barghouti, the head of the political movement the Palestinian National Initiative

    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/74AE153D-A6F3-4C93-8122-1A77A8812643.htm

    I don’t know enough about the subject, but when I want a gauge of it, I tend skim the bias reporting of Al Jazeera, before even the venerable NY Times.

    An example of bias I feel I hear: I keep hearing in the press of the West, this notion that there are two parties negotiating, but there is a third influencing (and thus hindering) – Hamas. With no real acknowledgement that there is a forth party influencing/hindering as well – hard-line Israelis. Why oh why is there no talk of taking to task the hard liners in Israel – as we have with the neo-cons in the U.S.

  5. Nother- the hardliners in Israel are part of the governing coalition which can leave in protest and then Olmert will have to form another coalition or call elections. Olmert is trying to stay in power. The threat also comes from Netanyahu and the Likud Party. There are hardliners in Israel who would like to lead again. Netanyahu, ever the ambitious opportunist, is he who helped destroy the Olso peace process.

    The neo-cons here have no such power that arises from the parties and thus the people.

    One thing to fear is, as I said, more disappointment from raising false hopes, and deepening cynicism even further ( if that is possible in some quarters). On the Palestinian side life is very uncomfortable, unlike Israeli’s who are managing.The dysfunction on the Palestinian is not unrelated in my opinion. If there is either another uprising ( intafada) which has been threatened, or the weapons become stronger (missiles reach further into Israel etc) as they already are beginning to do, or both-then you will see further escalation- ie the rise of the hardliners on both sides. Once again tiny steps forward ( which mean too little) may bring big steps back.

    Olmert is caught between having to do the hard things that will break up his coalition and doing too little to satisfy the Palestinians enough so that they can see things getting better and believe again that things are really really moving for them.

  6. I still find it ironic that the U.S. media is more apt to criticize the hardliners here.

    Olmert will not change this, it must be the people…somehow someway.

    Some level of truth and reconciliation must come into play to end the cycle.

    Potter here is my question: Are the israelis prepared to confess to anything (much less apartheid)? Or are they perpetual victims?

    “For your own sake, the only way you can appropriate forgiveness is by confessing.”

    -Archbishop Tutu

    They must confess if they are to be forgiven and in the process they will find their own power to forgive the Palestinians.

    “By the fact that you have abused me, you have hurt me, or -whatever it is that you have done, you have wronged me. By that you have given me a certain right as – over you that I could refuse to forgive you. I could say that I have the right to retribution.’ When I forgive, I say, ‘I jettison that right, and I open the door of opportunity to you, to make a new beginning.’ That is what I do when I forgive you.”

    -Archbishop Tutu

    It’s a great interview with Tutu:

    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/12282007/watch2.html

  7. Nother- I don’t think you can put Israeli’s in one bag. Some of them are very much into the victim thing which to me seems absurd in the face of Israeli oppression/upper hand. But those feelings of victimhood are deep and in some cases reflect what they and their families have been through to get to Israel. So it’s the traumatized traumatizing and being re-traumatized ( my bumper sticker), In some cases too some minds feel entitlement- because of historical or religious reasons.

    The “victim thing” is deeply imbedded in some psyche’s- not only Jewish or Israeli psyches.I don’t know how you change that. But I don’t think that is ruling the situation more than lack of belief in the peace process and cynicism about the other side on the part of both sides from dashed hopes and seeing no improvement. What is lacking is strong leadership.

    There are many who would be prepared to “confess”, as you say, especially after there is an end in sight. Show them the end. I would also say it does not feel right this status quo- there must be an uneasiness about it- that war will come again and maybe soon.

    Feeling something that you have done to the other comes when you no longer feel threatened. Self-preservation still rules.

    It has been suggested by some and I too believe this, that some apology to Palestinians would be a healing thing and go a long way. This should be part of the peace process- at the end, as you say. As well Palestinians need to understand they were complicit in their own plight- having turned to violence from the first because they were not ready to accept what they were offered( partition) or the existence Israel. It’s taken all these years of death and destruction to come to now where there acceptance of Israel (implicit if not explicit). But it’s hard to say that Israel did not have to fight for that.

    The majority, ready and tired of it all, have been held hostage by extremists and disappointing leadership.

  8. Thank you, Potter. You have enlightened me for sure. I like what you said about self-preservation ruling the day, and I understand that we may have to wait for an apology from both sides, but in the meantime can we dig up some dignity somewhere? Giving someone dignity does not make your country vulnerable, only your pride – what’s your price for pride?

    Can Israel forget for just a moment that they have the fifth strongest army in the world? In that moment they would be forced to imagine how they would then talk to the Palestinians on a level playing field.

    One more irony that strikes me so: In a conflict saturated with religion, I rarely hear the word forgiveness from anyone on either side. But I guarantee you when they go home to pray, they throw the word around a lot.

    TO FORGIVE (Islam):

    “The Qur’an describes the believers (Muslims) as those who, avoid gross sins and vice, and when angered they forgive. (Qur’an 42:37) and says that although the just requital for an injustice is an equivalent retribution, those who pardon and maintain righteousness are rewarded by GOD. He does not love the unjust. (Qur’an 42:40).

    TO ASK FOR FORGIVNESS (Islam):

    Four conditions to receive forgiveness from God:

    1. Recognizing the offense before those against whom offense was committed and before God.

    2. Committing oneself not to repeat the offense.

    3. Doing whatever needs to be done to rectify the offense (within reason) and asking pardon of the offended party.

    4. Asking God for forgiveness.

    TO FORGIVE (Judaism):

    “If one who has been wronged by another does not wish to rebuke or speak to the offender — because the offender is simple or confused — then if he sincerely forgives him, neither bearing him ill-will nor administering a reprimand, he acts according to the standard of the pious. (Deot 6:9)”

    TO ASK FOR FORGIVNESS (Judaism):

    “During Yom Kippur itself, Jews fast and pray for God’s forgiveness for the transgressions they have made against God in the prior year. Sincere repentance is required, and once again, God can only forgive one for the sins one has committed against God; this is why it is necessary for Jews also to seek the forgiveness of those people who they have wronged.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgiveness

  9. Hello Nother- you are a pleasure compared to some of the fierce verbal battling going on on some websites.

    Again, Israel is not a monolith- goodness no- it is a population with very strong and differing views. So there are many blogs and articles and books that you will find that support what you are saying. And too on the Palestinian side there are moderate voices. These folks see the folly of all of this and how un-religious it is. Some of the worst haters I find seem to be the most “religious”. But this is true of all those groups you quote above. Some minds can take scripture and find in it justification for their hate feelings. To me this phenomenon argues well against religion altogether because the scriptures and the clergy can give authority and keep a situation crystallized for a long long time. For instance we have the inability of some who are vocal on either side to give up or even share Jerusalem. The extremists don’t want to even share the land between the Jordan River and the sea. Religious reasons kick in.

    I don’t think Israel can forget for a moment- and this is almost a mantra- that it needs to be strong militarily. History will show that Israel did not begin with a very strong army at all but grew to what it is for purposes of self-preservation. Israel needed to fend off the neighboring countries that really did want to eliminate Israel. So here we are today. Israeli’s really believe they need to be the fifth most powerful and even more if possible. This will be so for long after a peace agreement.

    But there are many many hands reaching out and across beyond the government. The work of B’tselem is outstanding. This is an Israeli human rights organization that monitors and speaks out about injustice. We spoke here on ROS about what Daniel Barenboim is doing with the East West Divan Orchestra of Palestinian and Israeli musicians. (Barenboim just became a Palestinian citizen in solidarity). There are writers like David Grossman and Amos Oz who want peace and compromise and feel strongly the other side of things. One of my favorites is Yossi Beilin who worked so hard with Yasser Rabbo to achieve the Geneva Accord (a proposal that shows what can be done if there is a will) after everyone went home from the last round of talks disappointed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Accord

  10. Amira Hass is an Israeli who reported for years from Gaza. She now lives in Ramallah, the West Bank. Her reporting ( in Haaretz) is very sympathetic to Palestinians and critical of Israel. So too Gideon Levy. They stir the conscience of Israel and get a lot of nasty response on the Haaretz Talkback from right wingers/zealots.

    I have been following the Haaretz columns of Meron Benvenisti for several years now. He is not a regular but his criticism is strong. He was Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem 1971-78. I transcribed this from NPR radio interview years ago and will put it here because of you Nother:

    The Hebrew Canaanite name of the holy city means “city of peace”. Names are symbols, expressions of hope, wishes for brilliant future and good omen. Alas, the hope for a city where peace prevails has not been fulfilled. Indeed it turned out that the city has known only brief periods of peace during it’s four millennia of recorded history. Thirty-seven times it has been besieged, stormed and conquered, destroyed and rebuilt by a multitude of nations. All of them sought not material prizes, for they are not to be found in that remote arid hilltop, but symbolic edification: their savior, eternity.

    Symbolic assets are by their very nature unique indivisible and cannot be shared. The quest for exclusive possession of the holy city has turned Jerusalem into a battleground of all seekers of absolute truths: sons of light determined to massacre the sons of darkness in the name of universal love, fanatics set to realize the right come what may.

    In the last half century a more bitter strife has begun. It is not anymore waged by foreign conquerors who have fought over the City of Peace for the sake of distant empires or bands of believers seeking redemption, but rather between two communities for whom Jerusalem is home: Israelis and Palestinians. This conflict has caused much bloodshed and endless suffering. Yet is not necessarily a violent encounter. It finds expression in all spheres of life and activity, even those of a civilian nature.

    Inter-communal conflicts are chronic because they are caused by daily friction of competing collectives. They are twilight wars in which every person must constantly swing between the perception of the other as an enemy who must be destroyed and the perception that he is a neighbor, a living breathing human being.

    I was born in Jerusalem and have conflicts and contradictions on my own internal landscape. I share my people’s aspirations and I participate in the struggle for our eternal city. Yet my intimate contact with my neighbor as enemies has taught me to understand their own aspirations and listen to their grievances. I am tired of the conflict and seek reconciliation.

    I think that we are all exhausted. Both sides begin to realize that in the struggle for Jerusalem there will be no victors and no vanquished. The impasse led what is called the peace process which is actually a long maybe an indefinite process of communal reconciliation. The Oslo accords have created the precondition for the beginning of the process, mutual recognition of the legitimacy of the other and maybe an understanding of his claim and sensitivities. One should not lose hope that indeed Jerusalem will finally become a city of peace.

    -Meron Benvenisti, writer, former deputy Mayor of Jerusalem

    June 28, 2000 National Public Radio

  11. Note: it was in September of that year 2000 that we were in Israel ( or was it October?) but all hell broke loose after the peace talks ended in disappointment that Fall. Beilin and Rabbo went on in secret to iron out differences on an unofficial level to come up with the Geneva Accord which stands as a monument today. But Sharon came to power from all the frustration as on the other side the reaction was intifada. This 2nd time intifada was not mere stones being thrown (as the late 80′ s). The Sharon years were brutal until towards the end when Sharon may have seen some light. He formed a new less extreme, more centrist party Kadima, now headed by Olmert. Sharon, as you know, also “disengaged” from Gaza……

    I remember being in Haifa in the north that year 2000. yes now I remember it was September 13th. That was the day that Arafat had said the Palestinians would declare independence. There was of course no such declaration.

    It was dusk and we were on the Promenade overlooking the very beautiful Bahai Temple Gardens and all of a sudden we heard what sounded like gunshots- we were so frightened. But when we looked to the distance, against the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea, we saw the firecrackers and fireworks going off in the Arab neighborhoods of the city.

  12. Potter: Thanks for reminding me that I want to keep up with columns by Amira Hass. I found a link that archives her columns dating back to 1999. The most recent is dated January 16 of this year, so it seems to be kept current. It is a bit clunky but a few clicks brings you to Haaretz.

    http://student.cs.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/php/customSearch.php?sMask=ynnnnn&wMask=yyy&lv=1s1&d0=1&d1=n&w5=amira+hass&o1=n

    (I apologize. I don’t know how to create tiny url links)

    Interestingly, that most recent column will be of interest to ROS regulars. It is titled, “Honorary Citizenship of the Moon.” It takes the “honor” awarded to Daniel Barenboim as a starting point for examining the false asumption that somehow the Palestinian territories are already some sort of proto-state instead of what they really are.

    The column is at:http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=945076

  13. Hi Zeke- I feel like a spider spinning a web in a corner here. (Don’t analyse it!)

    Benvenisti- who does not appear often these days- except when he is incensed enough- had this one on today’s Haaretz:

    The March of Cynics

    quoting Benvenisti from that:

    “Swiss cheese isn’t going to work when it comes to the outline of a state. And I mean that,” declared Bush. Right after that he said the drawing up of the future border will reflect the current reality. But it is the reality of the settlement blocs that has created the “Swiss cheese.”

    Duh.

  14. The problem is that no Palestinian believes in the right of Israel to exist. Some will say they do, and some will agree to compromise for a while, but in their heart of hearts none of them believe in Israel’s right to exist.

    The “moderates” will compromise until they are strong enough to overthrow Israel, and the “extremist” won’t compromise and will continue to fight, but for both the end result is the same, it is just the means to achieve it that’s different.

  15. This show turned me on to Bernard Avishai and I’ve been reading his blog. Eyeless in Gaza is a smart piece on the folly of the War on Terror-Israeli style. However, he makes a statement that I don’t really understand.

    Just about any configuration of “the deal” will work to Israel’s advantage, moreover, since Israel’s intellectual capital will, over the coming generation, become indispensable for Palestinian youth, as they move to “governance, provision of essential services, and stimulation of economic development,” and away from the consolations of the gang.

    It’s not that I disagree, I just don’t really understand what he envisions happening in this sentence.

  16. Zeke- thanks for sending me back to Avishai’s blog. In an answer to one of the comments Avishai sends us to a recent poll of Palestinians. What stands out is their lack of belief in this Annapolis process or that there will be a settlement in the next five years let alone this year.

    They know there are weak leaders all around.

    Regarding your quote from Avishai is seems self-evident that should both sides nap out of their current modes and make a deal and peace breaks out- that Palestinians and Israelis would benefit mutually. This is a heartbreaker because it means a 180 degree turnaround in the way this has been dealt with- both sides.

    There are those who believe as Siennaf1 above…a good example of a mindset on both sides.

  17. Sorry- that should read:

    “Regarding your quote from Avishai it seems self-evident that should both sides snap out of their current modes and make a deal and peace breaks out- that Palestinians and Israelis would benefit mutually.”

  18. Potter–Of course, I think both sides would benefit from peace. I guess the part that confused me was the implication that only the Israelis posesss intellectual capital. Perhaps this is true–if so, at least in part another result of the occupation’s destruction of Palestinian civic institutions. It just sounded kind of patronizing to me.

  19. Zeke- I don’t think it was meant to be patronizing. I do note that you have your antennae up for that sort of thing which is good but we must be careful- both sides and all around- about interpretations of what is said. I find that misinterpretations abound (not you Zeke) in the arguments. What disturbs me is lack of good will and accusations that surface so quickly from one side to the other. One can mean very well and yet it gets twisted.

    But as to your point there is really a big imbalance between the sides- not as to ability. One side has lost much of it’s intellectual capital to a diaspora. The young have little future and are tempted to pick up a gun and fight. The other side has managed, flourished, included universal military service as a civic duty. Law and order and civic institutions make a huge difference in the ability to retain those who need some peace and quiet and order, not to mention incentive, to do their work. Universities have suffered on the one side, not on the other. So, again, Israel has what to give- and Palestinians will need. It will advantage Israel, not merely materially but strategically and not merely those in my opinion- but morally to help Palestinians. But I may be, in that last suggestion,taking the Avishai quote a bit further than he meant it.

  20. at the end of the day. the israelis are going to have to give up the settlements. i honestly believe that the other issues will begin to settle when they do.

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