This article just appeared in the NY Times – ‘How Words Might End A War‘ – supporting my post below by suggesting that material considerations won’t settle Israel/Palestine, but also undermining my positionby suggesting that concrete nonmaterial considerations might.

Take a look and let me know what you think.

14 thoughts on “Coincidence??”

  1. I think one of the funniest things is when scientists model things and then assume their models are useful. Climatology anyone? Obviously there is some logic to their ideas, the symbolic nature of apologies and statements is powerful. But did we need a study to know that?

    Marzook says: “Yes, an apology is important, as a beginning. ” the problem is his end still requires Jews in the water and Palestine from the river to the sea. The Israelis have shown willingness to sacrifice land and accept the Palestinians as neighbors. That seems to be a one way street.


    Uncle J

  2. I am underwhelmed by the research done by these authors. To take one example:

    bq. We got a similar reaction from Benjamin Netanyahu, the hard-line former Israeli prime minister. We asked him whether he would seriously consider accepting a two-state solution following the 1967 borders if all major Palestinian factions, including Hamas, were to recognize the right of the Jewish people to an independent state in the region. He answered, “O.K., but the Palestinians would have to show that they sincerely mean it, change their textbooks and anti-Semitic characterizations.”

    The authors characterize this as a purely symbolic concession that appealed to Netanyahu on an “intangible” level. But from Netanyahu’s perspective, I am quite sure that the concession was a practical one, having to do with drying up one source of fanaticism, thus providing a very real improvement in Israel’s security. Nothing “symbolic” about reducing the incidence of suicide bombings.

    Now, the authors’ hypothesis – that a successful resolution of this conflict will require symbolic as well as tangible concessions – may well be true. But they need to do a little more homework before trying to present their research in support of that hypothesis.

  3. If only the Jews had apologized to Hitler for getting broken glass all over his nice clean streets, and for the carbon emissions from their burning synagogues.

    I see no material benefit from this research, but if the authors were to go piss up a rope as a symbolic gesture, I would be pleased.

  4. Wake me up when the PaliJihadis admit that:

    1: They’ve lost
    2: Israel is a legitimate state
    3: There will never be a right of return
    4: They’re only doing this because Iran & Syria are paying them to

    This will never end until the PaliJihadis learn to love life more than death. I don’t see that happening within the next few decades, no matter what The One says.

  5. I think you are missing the point here. these guys have not said they have a panacea, they are throwing out possible paths to a solution. You have to start somewhere. The dismissal of the probing because it isn’t a final solution is just plain ignorant.

    I think the feasibility of a 2 state solution should be re-visited as well. I have watched this monstrosity of never ending killing unfold since 1957 and it does not appear to be about to end any time soon. The blaming of the other side for all the problems has gotten nowhere.

  6. #4 from CaptainNed at 3:56 am on Jan 26, 2009
    Wake me up when the PaliJihadis admit that:

    *1: They’ve lost*
    2: Israel is a legitimate state
    *3: There will never be a right of return*
    4: They’re only doing this because Iran & Syria are paying them to

    This will never end until the PaliJihadis learn to love life more than death. I don’t see that happening within the next few decades, no matter what The One says

    _I think the bolded text were what the Romans thought when they initiated the diaspora. Why should we think that the Palestinians will be any less passionate to return to ltheir lost Palestine?_

  7. TOC: Well, since “their lost Palestine” actually appears to be Transjordan, one answer might be “When the Hashemites let them return to Jordan”. It’s a Birnham Wood – Dunsinane kind of a deal.

    And the most vocal folks in your question aren’t just vocal about “return” (if that’s what you call looking for their keys under the Israeli lamppost because they think the light is better there), they’re vocal about destroying the Jews. So I guess you could argue they have an *extra* helping of passion.

    I, too, don’t think Barry will get this particular magic fun-time lollipop.

  8. _”But when we mentioned a potential Israeli apology for 1948, he brightened: “Yes, an apology is important, as a beginning. It’s not enough because our houses and land were taken away from us and something has to be done about that.” His response suggested that progress on sacred values might open the way for negotiations on material issues, rather than the reverse.”_

    This distills a fairly perfect example of mistaking the appearance of motion for progress in diplomacy.

    _Of course_ the Palestinians will be pleased if the Israelis make (or are compelled to make) a concession that costs the Palestinians nothing. Just as they’d be pleased if they got to decide the dimensions of the negotiating table, or the Israelis were forced to bring the coffee.

    Any time your side gets something for nothing, why wouldn’t you be happy with it? Particularly something that involves the moral high-ground, which is the coin of the realm in this conflict.

    But the problem with free concessions is that they rarely produce a quid pro quo, much to the consternation and surprise of those sold on the sanctity of diplomacy. Israel can apologize, Israel can cover themselves in ash and cloth themselves in sack cloth, Olmert can crawl to the Dome of the Rock on his bloody knees and beg pardon from every Arab along the way. None of that will change the Palestinian demands and intent a single iota.

    And thats where people like Atran and lose touch with reality. They simply can’t reconcile that with their worldview of who are the victims and who are the oppressors and how those roles should act in the world of diplomacy. Needless to say the conclusion they draw is that the oppressor needs to offer more for free. And more, and more, and more. The lesson that giving away for free what you intend to use at the negotiating table creates a terrible disincentive for the other side to cut a deal is lost on these people.

  9. TOC, the problem with a 1 state solution is that one group that would be made co-citizens believes deeply, passionately, totally, in killing the others and driving them out.

    When that goes away, you’ll have a shot at one secular state.

    Until then, it’s a fig leaf for demolishing Israel and killing Jews.


  10. I see no reference in the study to Albright’s apology to Iran for Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq. The result was more anti-Americanism and less moderation from the Iranians because the apology inflamed anti-American passions, it was useful to mullahs to waive the bloody shirt of its revolution, and it communicated weakness and lack of resolve. But most important because the Iranians were not ready for peace:

    bq. _Any rapprochement that could be nixed by two words in a speech was a rapprochement that was doomed to failure anyway. That is the fundamental lesson of the Clinton initiative with Iran. The Iranians were not ready….Iran was ruled by a regime in which the lion’s share of the power–and everything that truly mattered–was in the hands of people who were not ready or interested in improving ties with the United States._

    “Kenneth Pollack”:

    I think the same is true in Israel/Palestine. I’m sorry will make matters worse if both sides aren’t ready for peace.

  11. To assert that all or even most Palestinian settlers believe “deeply, passionately, totally, in killing the others” (if that is what you’re suggesting; as usual, I find your writing quite obtuse) or to refer to them en masse as “PaliJihadis” (as in #4) illustrates the kind of toxic thinking and prejudice that is an impediment to a more fair and balanced US role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Have you people no empathy for other humans, or only non-Arabs?

    For all those in need of some alternative perspective, I would suggest a review of last nights “60 minutes” segment on the Gaza strip settlers and their treatment by Israeli’s. It is not humane and it is not pretty and it cannot reasonably be claimed to be based solely on “self-defense”.

    Irrational fear and hatred lead to acts of inhumanity and brutality from BOTH sides that feed into a self-sustaining cycle of violence and conflict.

  12. Words matter. Look what happens when you evoke Hitler. The rule says stop talking after you mentioned Hitler; you’ve jumped the shark. People fall for this because they prefer ignorance and blame to discourse. It is called agnotology “link

    Graciousness when you have the upper hand is a very worthwhile tool. AL you are on to something here.

  13. Entering into negotiations under such fraught conditions usually means that the parties have decided that the alternatives are worse.

    It seems evident that this is not the case as concerns the Israelis and Palestinians/Arabs.

    “Being forced into concessions by ‘partners’ who want us dead or exiled, supported by a world organization and a world who view us at best as a ‘sh1tty little country’ is worse than holding tight,” the Israelis might think. Plus, any settlement remotely acceptable to the Palestinians might cause the internal tensions of Israeli society to explode.

    “In the short and medium term, we’ve been brought so low, but in our destitution and faith lie the seeds to a victory based on demographics, 4th generation warfare, and worldwide sympathy,” the Palestinians might think. Plus, dissent from the perceived consensus is often rewarded by a bullet to the head.

    If U.S. Diplomacy is going to break this impasse, it will have to change these pretty compelling dynamics. Academics’ Op-Ed wordsmithery doesn’t seem wholly up to the task.

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