465 Comments
Dec 11, 2023Liked by Kate Crawford, Ben Krauss

Great post! I've learned a lot from this and your other posts on the conflict. But I think "actually, the real problem is housing and transit policy in Tel Aviv" deserves some sort of award for Most Yglesian Take of 2023 :-)

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In this Christmas season, let's all remember that Mary and Joseph were unable to find affordable housing in Bethlehem.

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Wait, I think you have it exactly wrong. Wasn't the manger an ADU? The lack of zoning in Bethlehem that allowed for that is what kept Mary and Joseph from being unhoused.

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"The lack of zoning... kept Mary and Joseph from being unhoused"

You're right! It's another triumph for libertarianism!

These people were being ground under the heel of big government, forced to register for the census by Caesar Augustus, all part of a sinister surveillance program.

But in Bethlehem, they found themselves free of economy-stifling, job-killing regulations like "mangers are not certified for occupation by humans, angels, or divinities."

And so a miracle came to pass: the first Christmas market was a free market.

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King Herod was the great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather of Robert Moses.

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You win the thread.

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author

Endorsed!

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As DT usually does.

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I feel so lucky -- some performers have a hype-man, but I have a hype-tree!

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It ignores the fact that Tel Aviv just recently opened its first light rail line, and my neighborhood is currently torn up building the next one.

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I wanted to say the same thing. It opened a few months ago and it's *awesome*.

(Though of course, isn't open on Saturday, making it far less awesome.)

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How dare you tell the progressives reading this blog that Israel is awesome on anything. For example, has Israel ever created a subway system as cheaply (only a signficant portion of the billions of aid to Hamastan Gaza) and efficiently as Hamas? Sure, no civilians get to be in the Gaza metro, unless it's abducted Israeli civilians, but please consider that "Israel Bad", ok?

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progressives read this blog? can they comment too?

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

None. The YIMBY forcefield repels them.

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Please don't start telling us why bike lanes are evil.

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I support bike lanes :)

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

Some thoughts.

1. We largely don't really know what Palestinians' demands for an acceptable state are. If you listen to Tareq Baconi's recent appearance on Ezra Klein's podcast, for instance, he claims that the right of return is *an absolute minimum* demand for Palestinians. He seems to believe Hamas was in the right to scuttle the peace process, since the right of return was never on the table. Ezra seems shocked at how crazy all of this sounds.

By all appearances, though, Palestinians seem to be willing to endure extreme suffering in order to avoid accepting anything that is less than their minimum acceptable state. So it's important to actually figure out what those demands are, and no one has ever articulated them.

EDIT: Some commenters have noted that I misunderstood Baconi (keeping the original just so others can see what I had written before being corrected). What he's saying, apparently, is that Israel needs to *acknowledge* a right to return. But still, I'd like to know exactly what is considered an acceptable offer of a state.

2. It's telling that we have this assumption that a two-state solution requires some plan to evacuate the Jews from the West Bank. On the other hand, we never talk about a two-state solution requiring a symmetric plan to evacuate Arabs from Israel. Even the staunchest leftists operate under this assumption without realizing how damning it is.

Why do we make this assumption? Everyone knows why.

3. I also find it odd that discourse always talks about this issue as though the more powerful party needs to be the one to make concessions. So, for example, Barak's offer of a state is considered "insulting" because it didn't include exactly 100% of the West Bank, and there was no mention of the patently insane "right of return." Shouldn't Israel be willing to give Palestinians a little more, given that they hold all the cards?

This logic is really never applied anywhere else, for obvious reasons. In conflicts, losers make concessions, not winners! Has a country ever lost this many *offensive* wars against an opponent and then felt entitled to make demands?

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So I'll just say I agree on the right of return: https://www.slowboring.com/p/palestinian-right-of-return-matters

In terms of why does the more powerful party "need" to make concessions, I think they don't need to make concessions which is why in practice they haven't been making the concessions. But it's also true that if Israel wants to forge a broad regional anti-Iranian alliance, then they probably do need to make some concessions. If they don't want large-scale anti-Israel protests happening in western capitals, then they probably do need to make some concessions. Israeli political culture strikes me as constantly in a state of indecision as to whether their position is strong (and thus they don't need to concede anything) or whether they are besieged.

To an extent, they just need to decide for themselves what they care about which is exactly what I would say to Palestinians about the right of return. Do they want to improve their lives in the here and now or do they want to fight for generations?

I wish everyone would be more reasonable and make a deal!

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Except the point in time where Israel could make plausible concessions and gain as a result has seemingly passed. Hamas won't settle for anything that Israel can agree to and a deal with Fatah alone imposes all the costs of a deal on Israel while they gain neither an ending of Palestinian terrorist attacks nor a settling of the issue since Gaza remains governed by Hamas.

Short of some outside agent forcing Hamas to take the deal (likely only possible with extreme coercion) I don't see how Israel benefits from a peace deal as long as Hamas controls Gaza.

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I think anybody thinking about a deal more or less assumes Hamas is destroyed or seriously degraded in Gaza, since that's what's happening now. Having a Palestinian Authority that has a monopoly power on violence, and that can and will exercise it to protect Israel and Israelis, will be one of the hardest implementation problems of any negotiated final settlement.

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"Hamas won't settle for anything that Israel can agree to and a deal with Fatah alone imposes all the costs of a deal on Israel while they gain neither an ending of Palestinian terrorist attacks nor a settling of the issue since Gaza remains governed by Hamas."

This seems wrong? Israel thought they had Gaza fairly contained prior to October. They now recognize they did not. They also think that the West Bank is fairly contained, but that could also change. Anywhere you have millions of people adjacent or intermixed with your own people who want to harm you, does not seem like stable or safe situation. If Israel made a good deal with Fatah, it would actually resolve many of their potential problems in the West Bank and clearly outline that there is a potential for making peace in Gaza.

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It's obviously a bad situation but Hamas was basically founded to scuttle the exact kind of peace deal being talked about here so I think it's pretty unlikely they give the peace deal a chance.

And yes peace is very desierable but there are limits to what Israel will give up to achieve it and making a seperate peace deal with Fatah first means Israel makes big concessions without any guarantee any concessions much less ones it would see as worthwhile would be necessary to achieve the ends it wants.

Yes, there is some chance Gaza residents see the deal worked well and join up but if it's a 50% chance they get what they want Israel should rationally only offer 50% of what they would for a full deal and no way would Fatah take that 50% deal since it would be a shitty deal.

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I think the point needs to be made that the two-state solution doesn't preclude one state from going to war against the other state, nor does it make such a war any more difficult to win. If the new Palestinian state attacks Israel again, then by means Israel should fight a war with them, just like they've fought wars in the past against Egypt and Jordan. That's not a reason for refusing to implement the two-state solution.

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Yes, some new conflict could always emerge but the benefits of signing a peace deal for Israel are:

1) The new Palestinian state (and the Palestinian people) are incentivized to stop any attacks on Israel from happening because then they risk losing their hard won state in the subsequent war.

That can't happen as long as Gaza isn't part of the deal. A state that only governs the west bank isn't responsible for and can't police the residents of Gaza.

2) The world sees the issue as settled so if Palestinians attack Israel again out of the blue there is no issue oppression or the lack of a Palestinian state to justify it.

As long as the peace deal doesn't include Gaza they don't gain this advantage.

So they basically would be paying all the costs of a peace deal and getting none of the benefits.

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I'm Jewish and pro strong, Jewish, democratic Israel, so biased.

But the usual Israeli response to this would be that a war post-2-state would begin from a much less favorable position than now.

Anyway, a real interstate war is imho less probable than non-state actors committing terrorist acts, because a future Palestinian government is too weak to control them.

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At this point though, I think it would be better for Israel to approach this as a three state solution and then if the West Bank and Gaza want to combine into a single state, they can.

If you stopped the Israeli actions in the West Bank by having them make peace with Fatah/PLA, and in doing so clearly demonstrate that peace is possible, then I think you remove a lot of support for Hamas in the rest of the world.

If on the other hand, Israel isn't willing to support the Palestinian party who is willing to negotiate, then it suggests that no approach is feasible and support will move to Hamas (which is what has happened over the last 20 years).

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In some ideal sense a saintly Israel would have just determined what was a fair settlement and unilaterally imposed it (e.g. giving certain land to the Palestinians, stopping settlers etc.. etc.). But in the real world it's just not plausible to expect Israel to make those large sacrifices when it only gets a fraction of the benefit. Sure, maybe it shouldn't be this way but it would be a challenge to get a peace plan accepted by the Israeli domestic voters even if it brought along both Gaza and the west bank but without Gaza it just seems like a non-starter.

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Whatever Israel is doing now, it is doubtful that it will lead to a loss of power for Hamas, let alone their total eradication.

Remember, Hamas is a political organization which controls a cadre of professional soldiers, reservists and a whole host of militias down to people who moonlight as cops and are terrible shots. It has a very small and closely guarded supply of non-janky heavy weapons and finances itself like the Cosa Nostra (with external donations from Iran and others). They are built to survive extreme political persecution, and would come back by some other name unless you killed/executed pretty much all of them, down to a pretty low level (i. e. include Hamas-associated militiamen).

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I suspect that fully eliminating the top level leadership plus substantial damage to lower levels would potentially allow Fatah to step in and take control.

It's just that the top leadership is in Qatar and beyond systematic Israeli elimination (the occasional assassination won't suffice). But if you could somehow bring Qatar around whole new worlds of possibility appear.

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Would a deal with the PA give the Qataris political cover to turn over Hamas leaders to Israel?

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I doubt they want to. The Arab states have an interest in pushing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to distract from their own political failures. On top of this Qatar is relatively friendly with Iran and therefore has incentives not to help bring about the kind of solid anti-Iranian alliance that is likely to result if Israel even manages a peace deal.

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They don’t want to. Hamas is an investment they made. Big sunk cost for them. They want to be the Switzerland of the ME, complete with banking the Nazis.

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This is a bit of a red herring. If some losers want to wave green flags and call themselves Hamas, that’s fine as long as they aren’t armed and can’t direct the political economy of 2.5 million people towards barbarism. Hamas needs to be stripped of its military, any military capabilities, and its control of Gaza. If anyone shows up afterward and starts waving green flags, they can do what they want. They just won’t be allowed to get near weapons again.

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Isn't the party line supposed to be that Hamas is in the process of being bombed into non-existence?

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I think the solution here is “crush Hamas into oblivion” which is why Joe Biden is (100% correctly) supportive of it.

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As long as we’re clear that for Israelis “be more reasonable” means “accept some pretty serious security risks and take the PA at their word when they say ‘trust me bro’” and for Palestinians “be more reasonable” means “stop immiserating yourselves with the goal of eliminating Israel.”

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The Palestinian diaspora has a right to return to an independent Palestine, just like MENA Jews had little alternative due to persecution, pogroms and expulsions but to emigrate to independent Israel. Each sovereign nation has full right to control its own naturalization policies, and neither should control who can become a citizen of the other.

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That’s not what “right of return” means though. It means the Palestinian refugees have a right to return to the areas they or their ancestors lived in circa 1948, which happen to be places that will be in Israel if any 2 state solution comes to fruition.

They are arguing they need to be allowed in Israel where they will continue to kill Jews in an effort to get rid of Israel.

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It seems reasonable to ask illegal settlers to depart as part of any peace deal. It doesn't seem reasonable to ask Israeli citizens who happen to be non-Jewish to leave their own country. Not sure this is the "gotcha" you think it is. Indeed, your concern is already implicitly brought up every time the term "land swaps" is mentioned. Very clearly, the mainstream view of any potential two state solution is that not all currently illegal Israeli settlements would have to be dismantled. Some would indeed stay.

FWIW I deem the presence of hundreds of thousands of Arab Israelis in Israel speaks highly of that country's commitment to pluralism and cosmopolitanism. But even pluralistic, cosmopolitan states don't get to keep territorial gains realized via military conquest. At least not legally.

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See Leora's comment above - the point of 2 wasn't to seriously propose that Arab Israelis ought to leave Israel, it was to point out how Israel is, as you say, cosmopolitan and pluralistic, while a hypothetical Palestinian state would be unsafe for Jews (putting it in the mildest of terms).

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I understand the gotcha… but it’s a piss-ignorant take.

To be frank, given the settlers’ track records, I’d be at least as worried about their neighbors as them. You leave 500,000-odd heavily armed fanatics in place and there’s a very realistic chance that they can prevent the Palestinian government from exercising the monopoly on force long enough to kill a shitload of people and then drag their families into the abyss with them.

Imagine a thousand little Waco’s playing out over a decade in full view of social media.

No, the Israeli state needs to clean up its own mess; drag the settler populations home and burn everything they built to the ground to be sure they don’t try to go back.

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Hooo boy wait til you find out the Palestinians’ track records

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They're mostly not "heavily armed fanatics". A large percentage of the settlement population is just there because housing is cheaper and/or their settlements are fully expected to be part of Israel under any deal. It's the far-flung outposts (some of which even Israel doesn't consider legal) that have the real fanatics.

This creates real possibilities. It may be possible to incorporate Ariel or Maale Adumim inside Palestine, while demolishing the extremist outposts and exchanging land for Beitar Illit and Modiin Illit (which are already on the border). It would definitely be nice to see more openness to such plans.

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I mean, if Israel wanted to say to the settlers "you moved onto land that's not part of our country so you're citizens of Palestine instead of Israel now" as part of any ultimate agreement then that seems fine? Like, if a bunch of fundamentalist Mormons decided that part of Mexico really belonged to them because of something that Brigham Young said then that does fundamentally seem like a problem for the Mexican authorities and not the American ones. Good luck I guess.

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I completely agree with this in principle but to be clear we’re telling them “you’re signing your own death warrant because the PA sure as hell isn’t going to protect you as an ethnic minority”. Which is, uh, not encouraging for a lot of reasons?

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>while a hypothetical Palestinian state would be unsafe for Jews (putting it in the mildest of terms<

So, don't do a deal that could improve the security of the Jewish homeland because said deal would birth a state where no Jews would want to live?

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Not exactly, no.

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There are tons of places around the world where people are living on land seized in wars less justified than those fought by Israel. We generally shrug and accept it as settled - often even when the land was won in a war of agression.

Indeed, in general nothing in international law bars a state from gaining territory as the result of a defensive war. If Mexico attacks the us and gets their ass beaten we could accept Tijuana as part of a treaty of surrender.

The complications of Palestine relate to issues about who was doing the invasion and the seizure of private property. If that had been Egyptian territory the international law aspect would be easier.

I think we should ignore the international law angle and just look at the morality. I mean it was written to protect nation states (hence why it respects land disposed of by tyrants against the will of those citizens) and not for this context and we routinely ignore it anyway.

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The complication of Palestine involves the people. Israel wants the land and not the people. Historically this would have been resolved by them committing genocide and ethnic cleansing. Except now we recognize that as a bad thing and Israel doing it would put it in an untenable situation.

They are then left with a choice - grant the Palestinians their own land and country or integrate both into Israel. If they choose the latter, they then have to choose whether to remain a liberal democracy and grant them equal rights (they don't want to do that), or become an illiberal authoritarian state where about half the population is without many civil and political rights.

Every settler/settlement going into the west bank is another step toward illiberal authoritarian state.

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That's the moral complication. I was talking about the international law aspects -- and international law was written for the benefit of nation states so it lets them do pretty much what they want with their 'citizens' as long as they don't actually try to commit genocide or extinguish ethnic groups.

International law just doesn't forbid depriving half or all your population of civil and political rights (I mean it may have some very vague statements but not really).

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

International law is mostly meaningless. What really matters to the Israelis is who they want to be as a nation and can they maintain positive relationships with other nations.

Do you think they can maintain positive relationships with the US and Europe if they embrace claiming all of the territory but becoming a truly apartheid state? They aren't now, but if they claim all the WB but don't grant the 3 million Palestinians there any rights, then they will be.

And to be clear, they don't need to maintain positive relations with Europe and the US. They could realign and develop relations with Russia, China or both. But that again goes back to - is that what Israel wants and is that trade off worth the land in the West Bank?

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What I was advocating was ignoring these international law arguments and just focusing on the the moral considerations. I wasn't there making any case about what is practically or selfishly good for Israel.

But as far as that goes, I think it was obviously in Israel's long term interest to make a deal back when Fatah controlled both the west bank and Gaza but as I've argued elsewhere in the comments, at least from a selfish perspective, it doesn't make much sense to do a deal without the government of Gaza which is unlikely.

Even if Israel strikes a relatively generous deal with Fatah now they won't capture much of those public relations benefits and will face pressure to do even more to appease Hamas.

--

If western nations were willing to get involved they could publicly commit to a Fatah Israel agreement as being sufficient and declare that if Gaza chooses not to accept peace and join the new nation then they'll back whatever reprisals Israel decides to use in response to future terrorism...but that won't happen and probably shouldn't but without it the carrot just isn't there w/o Gaza.

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The solution to the problem you cite isn't abandoning or weakening international law, but strengthening it to protect people from violence inside their own borders.

Such a development is pretty unlikely in the near term. But one day we may get there.

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I'm broadly in favor of stronger international law. However, I think aspirational and unenforced international law is dangerous. We should only view something as international law when we are truly willing to enforce it in all of its legalistic detail.

What we shouldn't do is call something international law and then act like its a choice whether to respect it or not. The only reason it's beneficial to have law -- rather than just evaluating each situation in all its individual complexity -- is to clearly warn actors that violation won't be tolerated and to ensure equal treatment. When some rule is applied in some situations and not others we achieve neither.

Also, its only when major players believe they will actually be constrained by a rule that there is the appropriate incentive to ensure its not overly broad and doesn't yield perverse incentives/outcomes.

So in the long run I agree, but I don't think it's useful to inject rules that are regularly ignored (and seen as appropriate to do so in many cases) into the discussion.

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>There are tons of places around the world where people are living on land seized in wars less justified than those fought by Israel<

So, if other people are breaking international law it's ok for Israel to do so? Also, what do you mean by "tons?" I can think of one or two (Russia-Crimea, for instance) but such cases usually attract international approbation, just like Israel has. Also, unfairly or not, Israel's illegal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank appears to reverberate very widely in terms of regional destabilization, so there seems to be a good case for prioritizing this particular conflict. Finally, the United States gives Israel billions annually, so that naturally generates the questions: 1) How should America use that leverage and/or 2) If it doesn't give the US leverage, why is the country providing this largess in light of the very bad optics this creates for America?

>I think we should ignore the international law angle and just look at the morality<

This is an utterly horrendous idea. Morality is intrinsically subjective. International law is in writing. It's far from perfect ("the law is an ass") but, if followed scrupulously, the world would be a much better place. Indeed, wars between states would vanish.

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As for a list of other places states have gained territory via aggression I'll just give you a few (and only those after WW2) and I suspect you know about Tibet so I'll just list a few other cases. It's work to track these down so I only listed some and didn't include the situations where a peace treaty ultimately ceded the land (but that very loophole points out the absurdity, if someone in a distant capital signs a peace of paper it makes the whole thing ok)

- India's occupation and ultimate annexation of Goa.

- Indonesian occupation of the West New Guinea and ultimate annexation.

- Turkey's control over Cyprus

- Morocco's occupation and annexation of western Sahara.

- Bangladesh was liberated from Pakastani control as a result of military loss to India in 1971.

- Israeli occupation and ultimate annexation of the Western Golan Heights

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Goa (Portugal) and WNG (The Netherlands) were the products of decolonization. The UN has a whole department that works on rectifying the wrongs committed by various imperial powers over the centuries. I urge you to do some reading. There's an especially informative section on Israel's conquest and colonization of Palestinian lands:

https://www.un.org/dppa/decolonization/en

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/10/dismantling-israels-illegal-occupation-sine-qua-non-palestinian-right-self

I think there's a case to be made that India's annexation of Goa was illegal, though not as unambiguously so as Israel's annexations of various Palestinian lands given the anti-colonization angle and the fact that former colonial master Portugal has since recognized India's sovereignty.

Bangladesh was a civil war. The other conquests you cite, including Israel illegal occupation of Palestine, aren't recognized by the UN.

Anyway, I don't think the point is that "might makes right" is dead (sadly it's very much the way of the world). I think the point is that Israel's colonization of Palestinian lands is unambiguously illegal per international law.

If what you're trying to claim is that rich, nuclear-armed Israel may *get away* indefinitely with its illegal colonization, I don't really disagree. They've gotten away with it for nearly 60 years. What's unlikely, though, is that they'll get UN recognition of this conquest, nor, I fear, lasting peace.

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No what I'm claiming is that what matters is the morality of the behavior.

If all the Palestinians were like FUCK YAH this is great. Then who cares if it's technically a violation of a treaty. If it turns out there is a loophole that means it's not a violation of international law (as there are very plausible legal arguments to this effect) that still doesn't make it ok to act in morally unacceptable ways toward the Palestinians.

Either way what matters is whether they are behaving in extremely morally unacceptable ways.

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Yes but for 10 years Portugal didn't. Do you think the world should have been demanding India treat Goa as occupied or even leave because it was technically a war of aggression? (sure a moral one but sake excuse Russia used in Ukraine...just for real).

Obviously not and that's enough to prove the point. It's the underlying morality of the behavior -- here the fact it was ejecting colonial control -- which matters not some technical arguments about various treaty rules.

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My point isn't that what Israel has been doing is ok, but what makes it wrong isn't that they seized territory it's the harm to the Palestinians. And I think I can prove that you ultimately feel the same since, a hypothetical one state solution is indistinguishable under international law from Israeli annexation. Both involve the Israeli state exercising sovereignty over that land as a result of war -- they differ only in terms of how the Palestinians are treated which isn't directly addressed by international law in any real sense.

Also, note that under international law if the Arab states that attacked Israel in the various wars had been granted sovereign control over Palestine by the British (even if just in name) then signed peace deals with Israel ceding that land it would be considered totally fine under international law. Are you really suggesting that you'd feel differently about this conflict if the UK had done the paperwork differently when they dissolved the mandate?

As far as being subjective, choosing to sometimes apply international law and other times not is equally subjective. As such it's just a pretense of objectivity. Besides, we aren't even really taking international law super seriously because if you get down into the technical details it's not even clear how to understand the Israeli occupation given there wasn't a previous sovereign of that land. Does that mean the principle of prescription applies or that it counts as terra nullis? Point is that we aren't really just applying the rules as written down, we are picking the rules to apply based on whether they seem morally appropriate (it would seem crazy to apply some of these rules to the west bank).

And that's my point, because we don't really feel bound by these rules and ignore them when it's convenient they aren't written in a way that is careful to avoid absurd outcomes. I'll give you that list in a seperate response.

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Lots of states get to legally keep gains made by military conquest; that is in fact the norm.

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That is not, in fact, the norm since the UN Charter went into effect. But yes, if we went back to the Dark Ages, countries would be free to Genghis Khan their way into territorial expansion. Is that what you're advocating?

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"But even pluralistic, cosmopolitan states don't get to keep territorial gains realized via military conquest. "

That would seem to call the legitimacy of Canada, the US, and Australia into question as well.

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What do you call illegal settlers? Those in unrecognized outposts? All Israeli citizens who live past the Green Line in the West Bank?

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In 2018, Palestinians protesters in Gaza attempted to march into Israel as a right of return. Israel killed many of them, but assume they had been able to get into Israel and has set up shelters or taken over homes and declared they were now living there.

What would you have called them?

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I don’t really understand your question. The two scenarios are entirely very different.

When you say “illegal settlers” that can mean many things.

In Israel, that phrase generally refers to those who live in outposts that are illegal according to Israeli law.

It can be used by others to refer to all settlers in the West Bank, as settlement there is considered by many to be illegal according to international law regarding military occupation.

It could be used to refer to all settlers as well as all Jews in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights even though those were annexed and Israeli law applied there.

Some radical Palestine advocates view all Israeli Jews whose family came during or after the 1st Aliyah to be settlers, including within the Green Line. So Jews in Haifa or Tel Aviv are settlers.

So I’m asking you what you mean by “illegal settler”

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The second option: "all settlers in the West Bank, as settlement there is considered by many to be illegal according to international law regarding military occupation."

Just as Hamas or the PLA cannot authorize Palestinian settlements in Israel and they become legal, I don't think the Israeli government's authorization of settlements in the West Bank make them legal.

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What you wrote about Baconi is not correct. His demand was "Palestinians are recognized as having been dispossessed and offered compensation, possibly with the right to actually return". So he's explicitly not saying a physical right of return is a minimum condition.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/05/podcasts/transcript-ezra-klein-interviews-tareq-baconi.html

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Personally, listening to that conversation I found that to be a pretty major dodge. He made no effort at all to make the case that anyone was interested in compensation as plausibly resolving what he describes as a non-negotiable "right of return". He ducks and weaves on what "right of return" does or doesn't mean so hard it's impossible to conclude he actually has any idea at all of how to actually resolve that claim. It seems obvious that he feels compelled to defend the phrase on the basis that it encompasses the positions of people who have no interest in accepting financial compensation whatsoever. It was the obvious fatal flaw in his argument.

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Such a hard question to answer, but I always wonder how many Palestinians would use the "right of return" if it became enshrined in some sort of peace deal.

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Dec 11, 2023Liked by Ben Krauss

Given the economics, I suspect a sizeable number would.

Which would lead to interesting challenges in that immigrating Palestinians would be more economically positive than Haredim.

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Depends on the details but the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians stuck in Lebanese “refugee” camps are deprived of citizenship and the right to work in Lebanon, so yeah I think they’d go for it.

Beyond that Israel is a pretty sweet place to live especially compared to Gaza.

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No question he was ducking and weaving. I think it’s unlikely he doesn’t know exactly what his position is on these issues though and chose his words deliberately. This is his job and these are critical questions. I’ll admit I can’t prove that tho.

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That's interesting; to me it felt like just the opposite. I felt like he kept articulating a straightforward demand--Israel needs to acknowledge that right-of-return is a thing, and why--and Ezra kept trying to jump ahead with versions of, "Well, could we satisfy it with this or address it with that?" And that's not really how a difficult reconciliation works; you don't get to skip the acknowledgement step.

My read was that Baconi's core position was, "we don't get to do a negotiation and come up with a solution on this podcast. The most we can do on this podcast is to acknowledge that a lot of stuff has genuinely been ignored by people who supposedly want to make this negotiation happen, and they really seem to have not even noticed that they are ignoring this stuff, and that is kind of a fundamental problem that is going to prevent you from getting to a solution."

Assuming I am correct in that read, I actually find it to be a pretty compelling position. Never say never, obviously; the world is complicated and suprising. But I kind of feel like the way you do a successful negotiation over a contentious issue is generally: Step 1) both sides, by agreement, stop doing the stuff that is exacerbating the situation and deliver on that. Step 2) everyone agrees that a bunch of stuff actually happened and genuinely acknowledges that the grievances exist, even if you don't fully agree with the other side's characterization of those grievances. And only then do get to Step 3) negotiate over what would constitute a minimum acceptable resolution to everyone involved.

I felt like Baconi was essentially arguing that everyone is skipping Steps 1 and 2, presumably because the Israelis have a stronger military and geostrategic position, and I kind of think that he is right.

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Insisting on calling it the "right of return" rather than "a right to fair compensation for land seized by Israel" seems to imply a great deal about the position he is taking. On your account he should be totally happy with the later characterization. Insisting on phrasing it as a right to return implies a refusal to accept that merely admitting land was seized and offering compensation would be enough.

Now from a negotiating POV you may want to start with stronger claims than you'll ultimately accept but if that's what's going on it's not informative to the listener about what an actual deal could look like. And if he expects Israel to acknowledge things shouldn't he be willing to acknowledge that a right of return -- meaning actual return -- can't be on the table?

You can't critisize the other side for not making admissions that might hurt their ultimate bargaining power or be unpopular if you won't do the same, e.g., adopt a different phrasing (I get why he doesn't but he isn't really in a position to demand others don't do the same).

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I more or less agree with most of this--I wrote a bunch of stuff in other parts of this thread that I think is responsive to what you are writing here.

I especially think you are right that one thing we are tripping over here is the words themselves. But I think we have to acknowledge that people get very attached to specific words and turns of phrase in a way that I think is mistaken but which appears to be essentially universal. I mean, how many of the culture war debates in the U.S. turn on this kind of stuff?

Graham and I were discussing this in another thread around "critical race theory," and when I was a kid growing up in the South, my grandfather's family from Alabama was very invested in the words "War of Northern Aggression." People just seem to get very totemic about specific turns of phrase. I think it's incredibly counterproductive, but what can you say? Humans gonna human.

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

"I especially think you are right that one thing we are tripping over here is the words themselves."

The problem is that it is Baconi and the Palestinians who are insisting on these words! Either the words matter because of their meaning - in which case Israel is not going to say them! Or they don't matter in which case Israel is not going to say them!

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I agree with that, but if you are going to call on someone else to transcend those human failures (eg the fact that it's really difficult to grant legitimacy to the points of someone 'on the side of' people trying to murder you) and behave better you should really make a point of modelling the same behavior -- or at least openly admit that you can't. If you don't it really looks more like you are part of the problem and just trying to cleverly gain advantage.

Basically, I don't think you can both function as an advocate here for the Palestinian cause and try to give the kind of advice he does to the other side.

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Dec 12, 2023·edited Dec 12, 2023

"I especially think you are right that one thing we are tripping over here is the words themselves. But I think we have to acknowledge that people get very attached to specific words and turns of phrase in a way that I think is mistaken but which appears to be essentially universal."

Wow, no. Defining and clarifying exactly what you're talking about when you insist on the use of certain phrases is not an optional frill that can be left for later in the discussion, it is a precondition for intelligibility and agreement. As someone said below, it seems as though you're part of the problem and are just cleverly trying to gain advantage.

As for the interview itself, anyone who is unwilling to clearly and honestly define their terms is not worth listening to, and brings nothing to the discussion.

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I think part of it is a status claim rather than a practical claim and that it is demanding an apology (See the reparations debates). I remain skeptical that the status claim is sufficient to resolve the issues but I think it's important to understand what the other side is seeking.

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

> Israel needs to acknowledge that right-of-return is a thing,

What exactly is that supposed to mean in practice? Because I'm pretty sure the Israeli's are 1000% aware of exactly what that means and that that's exactly what the Palestinians want and that their answer is:

"Ha! Ha! Ha!"

"Oh wait... you're serious... let me laugh even harder...."

*Several minutes of wheezing laughter later*

"Absolutely not."

If what it actually means in practice is, "We were dispossessed of our property and demand some form of just compensation." that's not at all a "right of return".

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I don't get what you are arguing. I mean, obviously if the Israelis like the status quo, it seems to be more or less sustainable. They clearly have the upper hand, militarily speaking, and even if the United States withdrew its support, I think the Israeli state probably has the necessary resources to complete a full ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, especially if they are no longer concerned with maintaining political support abroad. The Israelis don't have to acknowledge anything or give the Palestinians anything other than the business end of a bullet, if they don't want to. I don't dispute that. I think acting that way is deeply immoral, but the world is hard place, and states do deeply immoral stuff and get away with it all the time.

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I think, my actual point is that for me to take Baconi's argument seriously, he needs to make some sort of case that negotiating over some type of compensation for the dispossessed, presumably with the PA, would strengthen the PA's relative position to Hamas to where the PA could conceivably marginalize the to-the-last-man death cultists.

As far as I can tell, the PA purporting to negotiate for financial compensation in lieu of actually physical repossession of specific parcels of real estate would probably have the opposite effect. Hamas would only gain power in that world, and the idea of an actual physical "right of return" is every bit as laughable as the top level comments suggests.

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This is all very cute until Israel starts demanding acknowledgements from the Palestinians. Those won’t be forthcoming and he knows it.

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"And that's not really how a difficult reconciliation works; you don't get to skip the acknowledgement step."

What does "acknowledgement" mean when the person demanding it won't even spell out what is being acknowledged?

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I thought that his unintentional point was that the two sides have irreconcilable goals, and Israel, as the more powerful party, should focus completely on its own.

For Israel, becoming a state with a minority of Jews is a total nonstarter. For Palestine, as Baconi describes it, its minimum requirements mean exactly that.

My unrealistic plan would be for Israel and Palestine to again start making very small concessions to each other so that trust can be built over time. No point in starting with the 100% impossible ask.

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That was what Gaza was supposed to be (and actually it was a pretty major concession). Time for the Palestinians to start making some concessions.

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Dec 12, 2023·edited Dec 12, 2023

Yes Isreal is pursuing its goals, and has been pursuing its goals, which is to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from the river to the sea. And they pursuing it as fast as they think they can get away with.

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Yes, that’s correct. And Israel should stop doing that. I think the blockade on Gaza is amply justified, but the current bloodshed is astounding. Israel should also stop settling on the West Bank. However, presenting what Israel considers a nonstarter as your minimum requirement isn’t just unhelpful. It bolsters Israel’s position.

Palestine’s only card is public opinion. Presenting itself with what’s honestly a ridiculous demand doesn’t strengthen that card.

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If he's anything like other Palestinians I've talked to, he sincerely believes the right of return is an *individual* right. His plan is for different families to make their own decisions re compensation vs "physical return", and his political position is to ensure they get that choice -- whether it suits Israel or not.

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Given that nobody ever gets this level of consideration, it’s ridiculous to say Palestine should deserve it. Palestine, in its infinitely weaker position, is making more extreme demands than any other population can hope for.

If I were going to fix this, I would tell Israel to grant compensation to anyone who was originally expelled, stop building settlements on the West Bank, and then say as far as it’s concerned, the matter is settled. Gaza remains under blockade for justified security reasons (this is not to say I support the current indiscriminate bloodshed).

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Dec 14, 2023·edited Dec 14, 2023

Yes one of the more radicalizing experiences I've had re Zionism and Palestine has been finding out that you're considered a fanatical "ultrazionist" if you seriously tell the Palestinians to move the fuck on from 1948 and build a state on the 1967 lines where the UN Security Council resolutions say their country is. People are actually less offended by supporting the West Bank settlements than they are by rejecting the Right of Return.

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You hit the nail on the head. He pretty clearly wouldn't answer what it actually would mean for Palestinians to receive the "right of return."

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Disagree. He said starting with recognition but he said it shouldn’t stop at that.

He was trying to sane-wash Hamas’ position, which is not that we should just recognize that the Nakba happened but accept that a full right of return is not on the table.

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In fairness, attempting to "sane-wash Hamas' position" was the entire point of the podcast. Insofar as at least some of the people involved with Hamas have some kind of rational position (even if others don't), is there any sane-washed version of Hamas's position that we can understand and engage with and which at least some of their leadership might buy into? That was the whole idea.

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I thought he was going to give a warts-and-all perspective of Hamas. This was essentially a re-hash of the Arab Israeli he had on a few weeks ago, though at least he was more blunt about wanting a single, blended state.

Klein also promised to host some people to his right, which so far he has failed to do.

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I think Yossi Klein Halevi and Nimrod Nozik were the "right-wingers" he wanted to host. As ridiculous as this sounds, remember, he more or less started the podcast series by defining Peter Beinart as the middle from his perspective!

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Flawed as it may be, Klein is putting out elite content at the moment. I appreciate his attempts to highlight the varying perspectives in this conflict.

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lol, ok. I don’t remember the name of the former Israeli soldier he spoke to, but I thought that dude was pretty much an exact match for Klein (and me). I thought Klein was a two-stater. And that guy said he was a liberal by Israeli standards.

I was expecting at least one vigorous defense of Israel’s current Gaza campaign, and maybe a West Bank settler. Or someone currently in the IDF.

Is his series on this continuing? I’ll be disappointed if I don’t hear a couple WTF guests, but from the right.

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Duly noted, thank you for the correction.

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"Duly noted, thank you for the correction."

Not duly noted, until you edit your original comment. It's better to nip falsehood in the bud than to let falsehood stand and then admit it lower down.

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Edited!

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Thank you. I really appreciate your commitment to making the comments section work well.

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Dec 11, 2023Liked by Ben Krauss

Compensation/reparations feels like a plausible element of a real peace deal (you can even negotiate over exact dollar values!), one of the few I’ve heard offered. I can also imagine an approach to a single state where the constitution includes particularly strong religious protections and is unusually difficult to amend, so that as long as rule of law survives in the single state Israeli Jews need not fear becomes a 40% minority. I don’t know how to craft it, but I bet it’s possible. But as Matt said, where are the people arguing for nuts and bolts policies like that? Baconi offered more in that interview than I’ve heard anywhere else, and he wasn’t even trying to put a complete deal on the table.

I have to think that part of this is our Slow Boring bubble. Someone, somewhere is thinking about this. If anyone finds a real reply to Matt’s article, I hope you link it in an upcoming daily thread. And if the SB team comes across anything, I hope they link it in a mailbag.

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I think from a practical perspective the absolute best case scenario of a one state solution ends up looking like Lebanon. So not really something to aspire to.

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I think fear that rule of law would not be sufficient to protect a Jewish minority is exactly the point of Israel/a Jewish state in the first place. If there is anything that history has taught the Jews, and should have taught the rest of us, it's that if they are a minority they are unsafe.

There was a discussion here the other day about the centuries long persistence of anti-semitism and related anti-semitic conspiracy theories. Demonstrate that somehow that history has been broken, and then think about a one state solution.

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I sort of agree, but I want to offer a friendly amendment: I feel like it's a mistake we keep making to frame these kinds of arguments in the specific way of, "history has taught the Jews..." this or that. I think history has taught us that groups in the minority--or disempowered in other ways--are potentially unsafe, full stop. Reading specialness into the Jewish experience is kind of playing straight into the arms of the people engaged in the conspiracy-thinking that is so central to antisemitism, because it is essentially a mirror of (and thus acceptance of the plausibility of) their claims. Saying to a Soros truther, "you are right that the Jews are special, but just not in that particular bad way you say they are!" is just kind of a weaker argument, if that makes sense, than, "yeah, I get that you are doing the bigot-thing just like all the various other flavors of bigots, and I'm not any more impressed with your bigotry than with your buddies, the Westboro Christians, the Islamic Jihad whackos, or the Jim Crow dead-enders."

I always think about this because it came up in a class I took on the Holocaust and the post-war evolution of human rights regimes and how you think about outgroup experiences in the context of genocide, and I kind of came away thinking that being special tends to actually weaken the out-group's case, because it plays into the perpetrators' inevitable self-rationalization/justification.

This might be a half-baked theory, so feel free to say so if you think it is dumb.

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I think I would say not that your theory is wrong or dumb, but that outside of hard sciences generalized theories can always have exceptions or less than 100% applicability when applied to a particular group.

I think in this case the Jewish people have a unique history, not because there is something unique about being Jewish, but because some myriad of reasons have combined to make their experience unique.

Many out groups once they're dispossessed lose most of their identity and are more or less assimilated into a larger group. Sometimes they maintain some parts of a historic identity only as a part of what becomes they're new identity.

Over what is now Millenia the Jews have maintained a unique cultural and ethnic identity, both as an internal cohesive force, but also unfortunately as a lightning rod for oppression and targeted violence. So a generally applicable view that would argue for downgrading their otherness doesn't account for the widespread antipathy to them across an incredibly long period of time, across many cultures and a large and diverse geography.

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

I think I wouldn't "downgrade" anybody so much as I would say that every group is unique, has its own story and unique experience, etc. Like, the least unique thing about a snowflake is that it is unique, if that makes sense. I totally buy that there are very cool and unique things about the phenomenon of Jewish identity, like being one of the older continuous cultures in the world. It's all very cool. I just also think that about various other religious and ethnic groups for various other reasons; I mean, it's part of why I became a historian.

Humans are very cool, which is one reason why I think bigotry is not just bad, but deeply pathetic. And I do feel strongly that, "quit being pathetic" is a stronger rebuke than, "you need to quit believing specific things in the framework of our shared belief about an out-group," even if that's not what we really mean. I guess I'm striving for clarity.

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Can you please provide some examples of these other minorities? I think the Jewish situation is extremely unusual.

The only comparisons I’ve heard are Gypsies and Kurds, and I think they would also be better off with their own states.

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Well, that's what I wrote: every group's situation is extremely unusual--literally one of a kind. That's what I meant when I wrote, "the least unique thing about a snowflake is that it is unique." I don't get what you are asking for examples of. Like, you want examples of other religious minorities? Of other people groups who have been discriminated against? Other groups who have been attempted targets of genocide? What is the extremely unusual part that interests you?

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I think a fundamental difference between the side of the argument that you and ML are taking is that you're seeing that as lots of different independent observations and I'm really just seeing it as 2 or 3.

Once Christendom took hold in Rome, Jews were sometimes persecuted for their religion, as were Manichaeans, Pagans, etc..

The successor states to Rome in Europe were also largely Christian-only states. Pagans were forced to convert (or die). Gypsies/Roma had to convert or die. Sometimes Jews and Muslims ruled by Christians were left alone, other times persecuted. All the while, Jews were mostly left alone and not treated any worse than any other non-majority-sect-muslim in Islamic lands.

As Christianity faded from prime importance and was replaced by nationalism, anti-semitism morphed into a new thing that was more complex and harder to describe.

As Zionism began forming and Arab nationalism picked up steam Jews began to be persecuted in the Arab world. The portion that was in response to zionism was somewhat unique to the jews, but don't forget that Armenians, Assyrians, Druze, Circassians and many other sects experienced massacres and genocides that were in many case much bigger than what Jews experienced at the time in the middle east.

So it's not like dozens of experiments have been run and Jews have always come out on bottom. What's happened is a large portion of the Jews of the world were caught in the snares of historical places and times where basically any religious minority was being targeted.

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"If there is anything that history has taught the Jews, and should have taught the rest of us, it's that if they are a minority they are unsafe."

Minorities are sometimes unsafe. I could list dozens and dozens of examples of violence and pogroms and massacres against other minorities in other countries over the last 50 or 100 years. That it's historically happened more frequently to Jews is more of an accident of history than any prognosis about the future.

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The thing is, the historic occurrence of Jews being unsafe as a minority does provide a future prognosis. The best predictor of human behavior is past behavior, for the Jews that means that the expectation is that if they become a minority they can expect persecution. It has happened so often in the past that thinking it wouldn't happen under a one state solution is near magical thinking.

But the critical point for them is that while "minorities are sometimes unsafe" is true, maybe even understated, the corollary, majorities are not unsafe is also true. So for them, being a majority within their own state is the only rational course.

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"the best predictor of human behavior is past behavior" well, yes, but you have to take into account all the relative data. Which means first, taking into account all the many times and places when Jews were / are safe living as minorities, second broadening the scope to the many times and places were people were / are living safely as minorities.

And then it's helpful to understand the specific data points and the conditions and zeitgeist that allowed them. I don't look at the Salem witch trials and similar such events in 16th-17th century Europe and conclude that witch trials are likely to pop up again in Germany and Boston. Likewise I'm not sure that most of the modern world really replicates the conditions for pogroms

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

I actually doubt you could come up with any example of any diaspora so consistently massacred across so many different regions, complete with being cleansed from an entire continent, losing 30% of its population in the process. I think fifty years is also pretty arbitrary, though we’d still get Iranian and Yemen expulsions in there. But let’s ignore the massacres over our entire 2,000 year history. I’d start with the 19th century Russian / Eastern Europe pogroms.

Please provide counter examples if you disagree.

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

Counter examples of what? Genocide? I mean, off the top of my head I live on the East Coast, so I'm going to go with the Pequots. I mean, I'm not going to go with them, because they were subjected to a genocide and no longer exist. But genocide is (unfortunately) not nearly as unique of a historical event as we would like.

(EDIT UPDATE! Writing this comment sparked my interest, so I Googled Pequot, and apparently some of their descendants reconstituted and now have a casino reservation situation, which is a useful reminder that humans are really resilient, and "genocides" often fail, which is kind of a nice thing to add in amidst all the awfulness. So: go Pequot. Apparently I shouldn't have written you off so easily. Apologies.)

I do think that the Holocaust had some unique features, but for me the unique awfulness has to do with the application of modern systems of industrial production and management to the act of genocide; the idea of "kill such-and-such group down to the last child (and even their livestock)" is such an old and commonplace idea that it is literally discussed in the Bible.

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A Jewish minority inside a single state with Muslim and Jews will be respected because of a constitution.

I feel like I’m watching a horror movie where people know their lives are at risk, and instead of running from the bad place and straight to the police, they open the basement door and walk down - into the darkness. SMH.

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I don’t personally think that a one-state solution makes more sense than a two-state, but there are probably ways of structuring it that makes the floor outcome no different from the floor of the two-state, which is war between Jewish and Arab factions. That’s really bad! But all of the worst-case versions of solutions on the table are really bad:

Palestinian one-state; ethnic cleansing, maybe genocide.

Israeli one-state: ethnic cleansing, and, depending on your definition, maybe genocide.

Secular one-state: civil war, maybe ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Two-state: regular war, maybe concluding in ethnic cleansing and genocide.

I think the bad outcomes are basically baked in to the first two, so I oppose those. The scope and likelihood of the last seems the lowest to me, but I’m open to arguments that the third could be better.

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“As long as the rule of law survives.”

Given that Jews were expelled en masse from MENA, I don’t like our odds.

I know we’re supposed to pretend that Arabs would not immediately crush any religious minority as they have done in every single other country where they are the majority, but Israel cannot afford to indulge that fantasy.

Nor do I think Israelis would peacefully accept their new Muslim neighbors. This fantasy would be terrible for both Israelis and Palestinians. But probably worse for Israelis.

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This is where I come down as well. The binational state would very likely devolve into a bloody civil war that would make Lebanon look like fun and games. While Israel at least has a 75 year track record of functioning democracy with a 20% Arab minority, the Palestinian leadership has no record of statecraft, good governance, or democratic accountability. No country in the region - other than Israel - has managed anything remotely like pluralistic democracy.

As GW Bush learned, the Middle East is not a good place to project your fantasies. And this is a much more far-fetched fantasy than democratic Iraq.

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Can you give an historical example of a structure even close to what you’re describing working successfully?

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I don't really think a one-state solution is in the cards, but I would think that the United States offers at least one plausible example of a multi-racial democracy that includes both the conquerors / settlers and the formerly oppressed populations (freed slaves, indigenous survivors, descendants of former citizens of Mexico in the American southwest, etc.).

Obviously that mix involves a lot of tension and dispute in the United States; it's not a panacea. But if we are spitballing a theoretical multi-racial democracy with lower levels of interracial violence than the West Bank or Gaza, I feel like you kind of have to put that one on the table.

To be clear, I don't think the two sides in the conflict would be interested in such a solution.

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Canada and Quebec in particular would be another one defining the French settlers of New France as conquered.

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Dec 11, 2023Liked by Ben Krauss

I actually found that podcast very enlightening, but I disagree on your reading of it. What Baconi said, several times, was that the "absolute minimum" was for Israelis to "acknowledge" the Palestinians' demand for a right of return. And listening to him describe what he meant, I finally realized that the acknowledge part is doing a lot of work, there, that I think isn't really appreciated.

Look: imagine I believed you stole $100 from me, and I ALSO believed you stole my lunch from the office fridge, and we get into a fight at work. If people intervene, separate us, and try to mediate, and you say, "Listen, I'm willing to buy you lunch at McDonalds, but we shall not speak of the hundred dollars; that is simply off the table, and it's not fair of you to bring it up" I'm not going to be happy with that resolution. And it's not like I'm just going to be unhappy about the money. I'm going to be unhappy THAT YOU REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEM.

We have lots evidence of this; it comes up in other contexts, like medical errors. If you commit a medical error, and then you pay off the family but refuse to admit guilt, people end up as mad or madder than if you pay them less money but also publicly acknowledge their suffering and accept some measure of culpability.

Acknowledging the right of return as a genuine demand is akin to giving the Palestinians something, so I doubt the Israelis are going to be willing to do it. If you acknowledge it as a genuine thing, you are tacitly accepting it as a stake in negotiations--something you would have to compensate them for giving up. But that interview made me realize that we really are collectively acting as though it's easy to just waive off a grievance in a way that doesn't actually make much sense.

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The thing is, in almost all disagreements settled by negotiation no one on either side acknowledges past wrongs, neither in interpersonal contexts nor international.

Virtually any settlement you would get in your case would be "here's $100, but no I'm not admitting I stole it." Same in the med mal cases, here's money and in return for money you accept I don't admit anything (note you don't have to accept that what was done was correct).

The same happens in treaties and armistices. We started our country with a list of specific grievances in the Declaration of Independence, but our final treaty with Britain didn't contain any acknowledgement by King George that he'd done anything wrong. One of the few treaties that did force an acknowledgement of guilt was the Treaty of Versailles ending WWI. The clause that Germany had to admit guilt was seen afterwards as such a disaster and part cause of WWII, that nothing like it was imposed on either Germany or Japan after WWII, even though both countries did agree to pay reparations.

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My undergrad job was as a file clerk for a small law firm that did a lot of insurance defense, so I actually have *some* (emphasis on the some) experience of legal negotiations, and you are correct that acknowledgement is a big deal--it's a thing people fight over. But that is kind of my whole point. Acknowledgement is a genuine point of contention, rather than some silly sideshow.

If you want to settle a case without admitting wrongdoing, that costs you actual money. If you want to settle a case and demand that the counterparty not talk about it, that costs you actual money. In at least some cases, plaintiffs in a med mal case will actually settle for less money with an admission of wrongdoing, and for various reasons (partly related to evidence for future trials), people would pretty often rather pay more money than admit wrongdoing (although, again, my experience is limited to four years working at a law firm as an undergrad, so I can't for sure say that my experience is accurate at scale).

So, yeah, I totally agree with you that acknowledgement would be a genuinely painful concession for the Israeli government, and I 100% agree that for this reason they are unlikely to do it, as is often the case in real-world treaty negotiations. Pride and the feeling of "rightness" are really powerful motivators of human behavior. But I think that makes Baconi's point: this is a big deal, yet lots of people act like it is not a big deal under a framework of "realism." I think that observation is correct, and I think understanding it gives you a better understanding of the Palestinian position regardless of whether or not it gets you closer to a solution. Like, if a problem is truly, truly intractable, perfect understanding will not allow you to solve it.

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I don't think it's unreasonable to think that such an acknowledgement could be part of a complete peace deal. However, as you acknowledge, that admission is itself one of the bargaining chips so it's unrealistic to ask for it to be offered unilaterally.

But that's what seems like the demand is here. If he just said, an acknowledgement is a point to negotiate on in a deal I don't think it that would be off the table (tho Palestinian leadership would have to be willing to trade real concessions against it and I'm skeptical they would) but I don't think that was the suggestion.

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I want to pick up on something you say here just because I think that it's interesting, which is the "reasonableness" piece--like, is it reasonable to ask for this or that.

Maybe this is the dark part of my historian brain, talking, but I sort of think we should be more precise about splitting off categories of "reasonable" and "moral" in really distinct ways. I feel like even negotiating with the Palestinians at all is sort of "unreasonable," in the historical sense. The Palestinians are an inferior military power, so historically that means your options in the face of a colonizer are on the spectrum of enslavement, subjugation, expulsion, concentration, or genocide. Think Rome, New Spain, North America, the Mongolian Empire, etc.--choose your own adventure.

Now, to be clear, I would describe ALL of those possibilities as deeply, deeply immoral. But off the top of my head, it feels like the only obvious alternatives are either to leave, i.e. British leaving Afghanistan, or to commit to rebuilding a society, a la West Germany and Japan after defeat by the U.S. But the former doesn't really work here, and the latter as someone pointed out, is pretty a big lift (state-building is really f-ing hard and often fails: hello again, Afghanistan!), plus it doesn't get important Israeli political actors what they want (the land currently occupied by Palestinians).

So I feel like, to Israelis' great credit, a lot of them don't want to do the immoral strategies, but the immoral strategies are in many ways quite reasonable, in the way that monstrous behavior is often quite reasonable from a self-interested perspective. Which is how you end up with the current status quo, where you basically have the most invested group trying to slow-roll an ethnic cleansing--an immoral but quite "reasonable" strategy for getting what they want.

But no matter how reasonable it is to conduct a negotiation on the basis of, "honestly, we did you a solid by not killing you today," I feel like you have to look no further than the recent general acclaim for "Russian Warship, go f--- yourself" to get that people just don't work that way. They don't. Whatever else those guys on Snake Island were being, it was not "reasonable." (And didn't they survive? So I guess it worked out!)

I'm not saying that I think this insight, if I am correct about it, takes you to some kind of resolution. But I don't think that "it is unreasonable to ask group X to do thing Y," is going to get people very far in this conflict, precisely because we know that whatever else humans are, they are often unreasonable. And conversely, it might be easier for people on either side to bite the bullet and do stuff they don't want to do if we could shift the argument into a moral and emotional terrain--the religious space of "I'm doing unreasonable thing X because it makes me a good person / God told me to" is a thing that religious people say and do all the time.

Of course, God also tells people to oppress and murder out-groups with surprising and disappointing regularity, or so I hear, so I'm not holding my breath on this as a way forward. But I think that it is a useful thought experiment for getting a better handle on the elements that make the conflict so intractable.

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Also when talking about the options the Palestinians have I fear you are conflating the stated goals of Palestinian leadership with what would be good for the Palestinian people.

I don't think there is much question that refusing to take even the shitty deal at camp David was an obvious mistake for the welfare of the Palestinian people. As you point out the options for the loser are usually really damn bad. They had an option that was just losing some territory and probably getting a fair bit of economic growth in exchange.

Sure, they might not be getting a fair deal but if they'd accepted the deal they'd have been integrated into the world economy and likely would have benefited economically from Israel's greater level of development (they'd be Israel's mexico/china). Is it just that they should have to take such a deal -- I dunno I don't even really believe in the concept only utility -- but it's not a deciscion you would ever make as an individual.

People in the us unfairly lose property or land all the time (sometimes via unjust police seizure) and as individuals we tend to walk away when the cost to our lives and our families of fighting so greatly exceeds the possible benefit.

Sometimes it makes sense to fight. In Ukraine accepting the Russian seizure almost surely means they come back for more. Here it's clearly the opposite as the lack of a deal increases settlement activity.

And I think that's one of the biggest tragedies of all here. Because of the interests and incentives of Palestinian leadership, other Arab governments and the Palestinian diaspora the actual interests of the Palestinians are being horribly harmed.

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As regards reasonability more generally, that's why I do tend to focus on what is a plausible outcome. So when elsewhere I talk about a reasonable request or concession I really just mean one that isn't too unlikely to be accepted.

Indeed, I think the Palestinians have been very ill-served by the moralization of this conflict and the pretense that international laws which are widely ignored elsewhere somehow matter (yes deterrence can be important but only when those breaking the law can expect it).

This is part of why the Palestinians aren't accepting deals that would be a good outcome in many other conflicts which are seen in a much more realist vein by the rest of the world.

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I'll address your broader points in a moment but I didn't actually evaluate the reasonableness of any request or action by either side in the debate. I said it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that such a demand could be part of a deal.

In that context all it meant was that it wouldn't be irrational to assign a non-trivial probability to that being part of a peace deal conditional on there being such a deal.

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This is really helpful, but the word "demand" is extremely confusing in the context of the final paragraph, where "injury" would be so much better.

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I totally agree. I felt at a lot of points like Baconi had a hard time articulating his point, although I'm not sure if it was him and how he said things or just the strength of my priors or some failure of language itself in this area. I sort of feel like you could do a really interesting listen and critical analysis of that podcast episode.

I experienced that stuff I wrote, and some other stuff I started think during the podcast, as a genuine kind of dawning realization that surprised me. Like, the more I listened, I started to think, "Wait, I think this actually means X, and I kind of actually think I agree with that," or "that makes a lot more sense than I thought it did." It was a very enlightening conversation for me, in terms of how I mentally frame the conflict, and I would have called myself a very well-informed non-ideological observer of this set of issues.

Of course, it also made me think, "Oh, God, this thing is even more poorly understood and thus more intractable than I thought it was," which was kind of despair-inducing.

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First, the Israelis obviously acknowledge that the Palestinians demand a right of return. The issue is whether Israel acknowledges their demand for a right of return as legitimate -- or at least stemming from a valid grievance against Israel.

The problem is that while in a one on one interaction those kind of acknowledgments might help make things better in a conflict like this an equally if not more likely effect of such an acknowledgement absent a full settlement wouldn't be the other side softening their position but going "see, they admit we're right" and basically treating that admission as justifying more demands.

That's why it's often important to keep peace negotiations secret.

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

I mean, I would argue that saying, "yeah, I acknowledge that you hold a stupid and ridiculous position that is totally illegitimate" is actually worse than refusing to acknowledge it at all. I sort of ended up feeling to some degree like that was where Ezra ended up--to be clear, without meaning to. That was kind of what I found to be such an "aha" moment for me in listening to the interview, because I felt like, "Oh, I do this thing, too, under the guise of being a 'realist.'"

I agree, though, that 1) genuine acknowledgement is a real concession, in terms of strengthening your opponent's negotiating position, which is why I think the Israeli government is not going to be interested in doing it, and 2) you are correct that for this reason peace negotiations conducted in secret would probably work better.

That definitely gets to one of the big problems in this conflict, which is that you really do need legitimate negotiating partners on both sides of the table. That's going to be really f-ing hard. Getting a partner on the Israeli side will be incredibly difficult politics. And getting one on the Palestinian side would probably require the Israeli government to take a bunch of steps that would also be politically unpalatable, because they would strengthen the Palestinian side in the way that building more effective and legitimate civil society institutions is essentially an act of state-building. I think the Israelis are wrong in this calculation, because it underrates the long-term value of safety and stability, but it's hard to fault them for not wanting to build-up the very society whose land they are presently trying to colonize / ethnically cleanse / insert-your-preferred-term-here for what is being done in the West Bank.

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Yes, I 100% agree with this but I'm afraid it's much worse than you suggest.

They are propping up Fatah but that creates a new problem: the Palestinian leadership knows that once they agree to a deal they'll likely be ousted in elections (or be pressured by the international community that now courts them to allow elections). Indeed, I strongly suspect a big part of why no deal has happened is that it's very much not in the personal interest of Palestinian leadership.

Could Israel somehow make the west bank more democratic? Now your suggesting they bet on succeeding at the task the us failed at in Afghanistan (Iraq may yet succeed) despite active hatred of the inhabitants and opposition from the current leadership when they know the last fair vote brought in Hamas in Gaza.

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Oh, yeah. Don't mistake my analysis for a solution. When I called the negotiating partners problem big, I perhaps should have written "possibly insoluble." Most of the incentive structures at present for most of the actors basically run in precisely the wrong way. I think the only way stuff even starts to get fixed is for some of the actors to decide that they have moral desires that outweigh their strategic considerations.

That could happen--religious faiths are littered with people who want to be a "good person" so bad that they are willing to bear considerable costs, up to the point of death, so clearly such people exist and even get celebrated. But it's not like that's a "normal" way for people to feel or behave.

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#2 doesn't really fly. You can't compare settlers who were sent there by an occupying power to the 1948 Arabs who were simply living there when the boundaries moved.

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The point he was trying to make was not that it’s unfair for one side to get to expel their adversaries but not the other. It’s that many people don’t believe that Jews would be safe as a minority in a Palestinian state, whereas there are currently Palestinians living safely (though not necessarily equally) in the Jewish state.

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Re 1.: I don't think the biggest obstacle in the previous times when the two parties were close to a deal (Taba in 2001 and Olmert/Abbas in 2008) was Palestinian insistence on a literal right of return. But there is a disagreement about the terms of Palestinian concession on this issue, with Palestinians wanting symbolic recognition from Israel of the issue and restitution for property (and maybe admission of a nominal amount of Palestinian refugees) and Israel being reluctant to take those steps.

Re 2.: This is a false comparison. Palestinian citizens of Israel were there (or are the descendants of people who were there) when Israel was founded. Israeli settlers in the West Bank moved there under Israeli auspices after 1967 (in what's generally though not uniformly regarded as a violation of international law), live in communities built on land that was obtained by the occupation, retain Israeli nationality, and are primarily socially and economically tied to Israel rather than to the Palestinian population of the West Bank. Their presence there in part reflects an Israeli policy to impede territorial concessions (sometimes by the Israeli government and sometimes by extremist settlers), which Palestinians validly resent. There should generally be a strong presumption against displacement but I think that is defeased here.

Re 3.: Palestinians need to make concessions too. The two-state consensus requires Palestinians to abandon any claim to 78% of the British Mandate territory and give up insistence on implementing a literal right of return. There's also no realistic two-state deal that gives Palestinians 100% of the West Bank (Israel will definitely get part of East Jerusalem and particular settlement blocs close to the 1949 armistice line). But it's true that we don't go by the right of conquest anymore. Israel is not entitled to perpetually rule over millions of Palestinians denied basic rights just because it won wars. And Israel also benefits from an end to the armed conflict, which is immensely costly to Israel in human lives but also economically and diplomatically.

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You missed a key point in this essay. If Israel values tight regional relationships (especially to isolate Iran) and a normal security posture *more* than it values the indulgence of religious zealots in the more extreme settlements and low cost housing enjoyers in the near settlements (yes, they should do YIMBY stuff), then it’s making a concession that rebalances its own national identity toward a stable secure modern nation-state (with Jewish characteristics).

The question is whether Israel chooses to define Zionism as “taking olive groves away from Palestinians by force because we keep winning” or as “sustaining a modern, secure Jewish state that does not fight the hardest with its closest neighbors.”

The concession between different purposes for Israel’s existence comes first. Concessions to Palestinians come later, after Israel decides what it wants to be.

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Just to be clear, I would shed no tears if all of the settlers were dragged kicking and screaming out of their homes by the IDF. If the West Bank could be evacuated without turning it into another Gaza, I'd want that to happen today.

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The Arabs living in Israel have political rights, the Jewish population if subject to Palestinian governance would have no political rights or a regime that could not credibly guarantee those rights.

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I don't think you misunderstood Baconi at all. When pressed on the issue by Klein, he basically refused to provide a straight forward as to how Israel should "acknowledge the right of return" in way that stops short of actually allowing Palestinians to return return to the homes of their ancestors, which you correctly point out as patently insane.

Klein did a masterful job of pressing Baconi on what the right of return actually means in practice, his response to which highlights the absurdity of the demand.

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Yeah, acknowledging right of return is understandable, but Tariq underscored that that *alone* was insufficient. What then is sufficient? He couldn’t answer that effectively. Maybe Barghouti or Abbas would have a better answer if asked

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The right of return is complicated by the fact that generations of Palestinians have been living in neighboring countries and denied the right to become citizens there. So any settlement would have to include those states - would they grant citizenship to any Palestinians who want to stay? Would they force those people to leave for a newly-created Palestinian state?

The cynical policies of Arab states add a further complication.

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From the Arab nationalist POV, (and common sense IMO), these were all defensive wars that they lost!

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What is your solution then? Ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza? One state? It’s easy to take pot shots at the ideas out there. Let’s see what your solution is. Remember each side will have to live with the other tomorrow.

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That was an awful episode, though at least Ezra pushed back on some of the unending stream of bullshet. Also, my understanding is that internationally, Right of Return only applies to the people originally expelled, not every single one of their descendants. That appears to be a unique Palestinian demand. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

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2. I don't think I know why we make this assumption.

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The assumption is that Jews wouldn’t be safe in the Republic of Palestine, whereas Arab Israelis would not only be safe but would actually prefer to live in Israel.

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Well with the amount of corruption Palestinians have endured in Palestinian governed areas says something about the hypothetical quality of life in a potential state....

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> 2. ....this assumption...to evacuate the Jews from the West Bank

I assumed that most of the Jews who settled in the West Bank did not want to live in Palestine, rather thinking of themselves as settling in Israel. So I would expect them to oppose a two-state solution no matter what, but that they might be less pissed about the whole thing if they were bought out. Feel free to correct my errant thinking.

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I dunno, I still just see two groups who don't want a solution & therefore they are not finding a solution. I find the whole issue terribly dull and would prefer Americans refocus on problems we need to solve here.

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author

I agree with this, ideally the USA would be less involved. But people are interested in the subject so I thought I'd say what I have to say on it.

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I very much appreciate your work on this in spite of how you wish we would talk about this issue much less--it must be a challenging balance for the newsletter to have to address things that people want to excessively talk about it.

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Most people likely agree with you, which is why the domestic conversation has moved to the more bite-sited "what are college students saying about this" story. Everybody has a take already; the availability heuristic always wins.

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I still don't get it:

what's so funny about peace, love, and understanding?

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I think Matt has been very clear eyed, more than most in The Discourse, on this reality of both sides not wanting what he feels would be best for them, but it's still important to always state basic principles every now and then even in the face of reality, in case things ever change.

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

It would be convenient if there were an extremely powerful third party that the more powerful of the warring parties was inclined to listen to.

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There are powerful third parties...but I'm not sure anyone is interested in listening.

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At the end of the day, the US totally has the ability to push Israel’s policy levers in wartime.

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founding

Does the US actually have the ability to push policy levers in Israel, or Ukraine for that matter? My impression is that US support is important enough for both countries that they *should* allow the US to push policy levers rather than cut off aid, but it’s not at all obvious they would.

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I think it's more plausible for Ukraine than Israel.

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Which policy levers do you think that the US could control? Are there any that you think are not under the US control?

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There are many "groups." Pro-annexation Israelis (like Likud). Pro-annihilationist Palestinians (like Hamas). On-the-fencers. One staters. And probably a number of other, different variants. And yes, there are still Israelis and Palestinians of good will who believe a two state deal is, ultimately, the only way forward that makes sense and protects the legitimate interests of both peoples.

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sure sure, many groups then. sounds like they've got lots to work out.

best of luck to them.

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This “we have problems here to solve” is something that is always true. So dismissing discussion about world events because domestic politics exist is a bit ridiculous.

The issue is not that both groups don’t want to solve the problem. It’s that the problem is very difficult to solve and both groups are divided internally over what they are willing to compromise or not.

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“Who? Where?”

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Less involved how?

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With continuing pressure on both sides "benign neglect" is the pest policy and actually makes the pressure more effective.

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The US subsidizes the Palestinian Authority and the UN agency for refugees. It also provides a lot of protection for Sunni Arab governments who side with the Palestinians.

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This is the first time I’ve read a Slow Boring post that I felt was completely detached from reality.

“A two state solution has gotten safer” - are we just memory holing the last 18 years in Gaza? Is the marginal Israeli in 2008 voting against a 2SS not supposed to have noticed that the absolute first thing Gazans did with the foundations of a state is direct their efforts towards terrorism? And we know now that that continued for another 15 years culminating in the absurd barbarity of Oct. 7th.

This failure to consider the implications of eliminationist terrorism for Israeli safety is shot through this analysis - did Arafat blunder by not providing a counter, or perhaps by launching the Second Intifada with suicide bombings on Israeli civilians eating pizza and riding the bus?

I simply don’t understand how you can tell this story without reference to the terrorism that was part and parcel of its “negotiations”.

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I thought this piece was realistic regarding Israel, and engaged in some wishcasting regarding the Palestinians.

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Safer from the perspective of non-Palestinian Arab countries in the neighborhood helping to attack Israel.

If Palestinians want to kill Israelis 1000% more, but Egypt and Jordan want to kill Israelis 50% less, that's probably still safer because Egypt and Jordan have modern militaries and Palestinians don't and would take years to build a modern military even with an independent state.

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You forgot the big ones, Iran and increasingly Turkey. Yes, actually.

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Safer in that the Palestinian state wouldn't be available for use by other actually powerful regional militaries to use as a staging ground for an invasion of Israel (to me it seems like its Israel having nuclear weapons that took this off the table more than the changing regional alliances). October 7 was barbaric and terrible etc. but it pales in comparison to the kind of actually existential threat posed by being invaded by a modern military; it was a terrorist attack not an invasion aiming at conquest even if it was a large one. Hamas is still an irregular force that could be contained by building Berlin Wall or Korean DMZ fortifications around Gaza (the Gaza border is *shorter* than the Berlin Wall, the fact that people on motorcycles were able to cross without being immediately shot shows that Israel wasn't even really trying to keep them out). That wouldn't work for the Egyptian Army, but an anti-Iranian alliance or the threat of nuking Cairo will deter them just fine.

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

Walls don't stop rockets, and while it's true Hamas is not an existential threat, modern states have higher aspirations than survival. Enemies who regularly fire missiles of steadily increasing sophistication from near to population centres is not a situation any modern state would accept willingly. That doesn't have to mean war, it could also mean a serious effort at peace, but the Israeli strategy of denying this reality has been, at best, living on borrowed time since at least the 2014 war.

An Israeli defence minister resigned in 2018 on the basis that "We are buying quiet for the short term at the price of serious damage to national security in the long term" and he seems to have been at least somewhat vindicated.

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So shoot back at the rockets in a proportional manner? We've seen the US respond to terror attacks in both ways: small operations in direct response to specific attacks and overwhelming force and occupation in response to 9/11. The former works better! The latter was a multi-decade catastrophe!

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

It is a little tedious to keep seeing Americans demanding their imagined virtues of Israel. When has America (or anyone else for that matter) won a guerilla war in anything like a proportional manner? Y'all lost in Vietnam with many millions dead, lost in Afghanistan with tens of thousands dead, I guess you won in Iraq but there were hundreds of thousands dead there too, and you had the luxury of fighting a long way from home and military capabilities Israel can only dream of.

If it were up to me there'd've been peace in Israel in the 1990s but "why don't you simply pacify Hamas with minimal casualties" is not a realistic demand.

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I mean yes, states should simply decline to fight extended guerilla wars under modern circumstances even if they have vastly superior resources (which Israel does vis a vis Gaza and Hamas--they could kill everyone in the territory in a matter of days given their resources and the size of the territory, that is a degree of upper hand that the US never had in Iraq or Afghanistan). That is absolutely the lesson that everyone, including Israel, should take from the experiences you list.

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Amen. Sorry to be snarky above, Israel just released what sounds looks like a soft announcement of our 4th invasion of Lebanon, for literally the same goal we had when we first went in in 1978, which is almost as stupid as spending the last 25 years fighting with and subjugating the Palestinians because we wanted to give them a few hundred square kilometres less than they way wanted.

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How is ISIS doing these days?

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If Palestine becomes a state, and the West Bank is no longer occupied, doesn't Hamas or similar entities just take over like they did in Gaza? Edit: The article alludes to Jordan, Egypt, UAE stopping this but I don't understand the mechanism. Their own occupation of the West Bank?

When the median voter agrees strongly with the policy, "If you see a jew, it is moral to kill them", can't imagine them having a democracy.

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I think that if its a country, with clear borders it will make everything simpler. We have a strong army and like i hope we can defend against Lebanon we can defend against Palestine.

Also, a big part of the problem is the fact that we are making their life miserable with the settlements and we not letting them become a nation, like we wanted before 1948.

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I think this is also my response to these "but Palestinians really do hate Israel" comments. Many arabs in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc... probably did and maybe still do hate Israel. But that negative feeling has certainly decreased since 1948 and they now have normal relations.

The status quo just creates more reasons for Palestinians to be angry, not less. Once / if they are a state, terrorism becomes wars that they will lose, they lose international sympathy for provoking violence, they have less reason to be angry, and peaceful stability slowly becomes more attractive.

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This was the “give them something to lose” logic towards Gaza from all of a few months ago. I supported it myself. Hard to take it seriously post 10/7.

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Dec 11, 2023·edited Dec 11, 2023

Why do countries have to like each other? There's no love lost between Indians and Pakistanis or between the Chinese and Vietnamese. The entire point of separate states each with sovereignty is that it's a solution to the problem of two groups of people who don't like each other living in proximity to one another! That's literally what the peace of Westphalia was about!

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All of the people you mentioned are highly likely to kill large amounts of the other on the battlefield in the coming decades.

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My response was in response to "there can't be a Palestinian state b/c it will attack Israel" arguments.

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This is a valid Israeli concern and I think it's a risk that proponents of a two-state solution need to take seriously.

But it's actually very different from the situation in Gaza after 2005: Gaza never had full sovereignty or control over its borders; the Israeli withdrawal was not part of a final-status agreement and was mostly implemented unilaterally, by a government that Palestinians did not believe would deliver Palestinian sovereignty; Hamas took over in Gaza as part of a political conflict with Fatah that was driven in part by US and Israeli unwillingness to deal with a government in which Hamas participated; PA security cooperation with Israel has actually been pretty successful at preventing attacks from the West Bank, though it's been dialed back in recent years as Israeli governments have been solidly rejectionist. A final-status agreement with the Palestinians would probably be accompanied by Israel strengthening normalization with Arab countries, which would also be major diplomatic supporters and contributors of aid to the Palestinian state. Continuing the conflict under those circumstances would be very costly for Palestinians, who would concretely have a whole lot more to lose politically than they do today. Peace treaties have a way of sticking; the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt similarly proved willing to accept the peace treaty with Israel notwithstanding their ideological opposition to it.

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Like other responder said, this is basically addressed in the article. But to elaborate, this assumes

#1) That emotions are exactly the same after a 2S solution has been agreed to,

#2) responding to that pollster question translates literally to direct action

On #) If Palestinian states agreed to reasonable offers from reasonable Israeli leaders, mostly intended to settle this conflict, then that deflates a lot of the emotion. More than anything, it deflates the 3rd-party emotion from Arabs in other spectators around the world. If the world looks at a 2S state situation as status quo then the former friends of Hamas are going to turn on it if it takes over and attempts to attack its much stronger neighbor after cutting a deal.

On #2 I wouldn't be surprised if many Arabs in Jordan or Egypt agreed to it, also, but they Egyptian and Jordanian citizens aren't going around murdering Jews and their states aren't attacking Israel.

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Maybe but who cares? There are plenty of countries in the world that are controlled by insane murderous regimes. North Korea still claims all of South Korea and Kim goes on TV periodically to tell the world about how he's going to kill everyone in the South or Japan or the US or whatever to make it so. But we do diplomacy and deterrence and all the other normal things to make sure that doesn't happen. The idea that there can only be countries if we like their leaders isn't a rule that we apply to anything else.

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Here's what I think is a better solution. It's closer to the Noahpinion three state solution.

1) Complete the military operation in Gaza, thoroughly defeat Hamas, achieve unconditional surrender.

2) Use some kind of international coalition for peacekeeping. Since you have complete surrender, you can disarm and re-educate. I think El-sisi could be paid to have a technocrat govern there. Have the marketing and speeches paint Iran as the bad guys for abandoning Gazans.

3) Pour money into Gaza development, do the Egypt strategy of hiring moderate Imams, and keep the population disarmed.

4) West Bank eventually sees a thriving independent, non-islamist Gaza and moves towards moderate reforms as Israel does the same.

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Beautiful. It will be just like post-invasion Afghanistan. A middle eastern Singapore, except also a feminist democracy. Nothing like this has ever been tried, and it will be sure to work.

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