Sherman v Dershowitz, the third round

Square circles, aerodynamic pigs and two states


    Goals: Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence. Method: Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic… in uprooting the Zionist existence, and this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished…. Opposing any political solution offered as an alternative to demolishing the Zionist occupation in Palestine.
    – Fatah Constitution
    Israel will exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it…. Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement…. The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight [kill] the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslim, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.
    – Hamas Charter
    When somebody says they want to kill you, you should believe them.
    – A Holocaust survivor

In his endeavor to rebut my recent column “Disputing Dershowitz,” Alan Dershowitz displays a regrettable tendency to embrace the self-contradictory and the disingenuous, rather than concede error.

Disappointing Dershowitz

His “The Case Against the Left and Right One- State Solution” (Huffington Post, 21/3/2012) is a disappointing mixture of ad hominem jibes, highly selective – and questionable – statistics, “staw-man” tactics, and misrepresentation of the issues raised and the arguments articulated in my article.

The notion of the feasibility of a two-state resolution to the conflict with the Palestinian Arabs is not only demonstrably one of the most devastatingly dangerous threats to the physical existence of the Jewish state, but also to its democratic character and international legitimacy – however counter-intuitive that may appear initially to some.

Accordingly, I feel duty-bound to devote my coming columns to a comprehensive and categorical repudiation of any claims – empirical and conceptual – to the contrary.

In this article, I will present a general overview of the fallacious underpinnings of the two-state approach, deferring a detailed refutation of the flawed arguments, offensive incriminations and misplaced hysterics aired by its proponents for next week.

Which part of ‘Itbach al-Yahud’ don’t they get?

Strange isn’t it? When threats of murderous intent emanate from Tehran, you can take them seriously – even express concern at to their gravity – without being “excommunicated” from polite mainstream company. But dare to suggest that the murderous intent expressed by the Palestinians – indeed, the proven murderous deeds perpetrated by them – should be taken seriously, and may actually have practical policy implications, you are instantly dismissed as an “extremist naysayer” or “religious radical.”

True, Iranian ambitions presently seem to be a bit more “wholesale” in scope relative to the hitherto “retail” dimensions of Palestinian endeavors, but that reflects limitations on current capabilities rather than any benevolence of heart.

One can only shake one’s head in bafflement and wonder which part of the clearly-stated two-stage component in the Palestinians’ interpretation of the two-state principle escapes well-meaning folk like Dershowitz; and which part of their undisguised intention of Itbach al-Yahud (Slaughter the Jew) they don’t quite grasp.

And darkness descended upon the land

Up until the early 1990s, the notion of a Palestinian state was anathema in mainstream Israeli politics – vehemently condemned by all except radical left-wing margins of society. Indeed, contacts with the PLO were prohibited and punishable – in fact, punished – by law.

Then came Oslo, and darkness descended upon the land – in the name of “enlightenment.”

Support for the two-state solution became the imperative credential for acceptance into the bon-ton circles of Israeli society.

Intellectual tyranny was imposed on public and academic discourse. No heretical doubts were brooked as to the validity of what was deemed masterful statesmanship and the practical fulfillment of a “noble” (or is that “Nobel”?) aspiration.

For anyone with the temerity to break ranks, sanctions were swift and severe – both personally and professionally. Party-pooping was a hazardous taboo to violate. After all, why ruin the carnival of festivities? Prestigious prizes were awarded in Oslo (where else?), visions of a “New Middle East” were bandied at international conferences, and historic handshakes photographed on White House lawns.

Soon, however, “the rubber hit the road,” so to speak; the tragic consequences of the childlike Oslowian naiveté were upon us. The juvenile euphoria evaporated and gave way to the horrific reality of carnage in the nation’s streets, restaurants, buses and cafes – just as the “extremist naysayers” had cautioned.

Disingenuous intellectual peacocks

When the Oslo process emerged as the harbinger of a dramatic discontinuity in the evolution of Zionist endeavor, ushering in the previously spurned notion of Palestinian statehood as an acceptable–even preferred–policy option, there were proponents who promised it would provide great benefits, and opponents who warned it would wreak great harm.

Almost two decades late,r the results are in. The prevailing realities constitute almost an exact reflection of the ominous prognoses of the opponents; and the diametric antithesis of the rosy predictions of the proponents. Indeed, the Oslowian initiative has precipitated virtually all the deadly dangers that were foretold – but none of the enticing benefits that were pledged.

It is difficult to conceive of greater professional failure than that of the pro-Oslo advocates. Disregarding virtually every principle of political science, international relations, and other relevant disciples, to conform to the dictates of political correctness, they wrought precisely the dismal reality their “extremist” opponents warned they would.

As Prof. Efraim Karsh trenchantly points out: Had such professional misconduct occurred in the natural or physical sciences there would have doubtless been serious consequences: e.g. the collapse of a bridge following phoney engineering calculations dangerous side effects hidden during the development of a new medicine…. Yet it would seem that when it comes to the social sciences or the humanities… the researcher can escape punishment for the worst kind of malpractice.

Yet unchastened by the calamitous dimensions of the debacle, the authors/endorsers of this predictable –and predicted – tragedy still adjudge themselves to be the voices of far-sighted wisdom and clear-sighted reason.

Disdainfully dismissive of any dissenting voices, who point out how disastrously destructive their misguided conduct has been, they steadfastly deny any error and continue peddling the same noxious wares in marginally different wrappings.

Instead of bowing their heads in shame and slinking off in disgrace – as quietly and inconspicuously as possible – to the outer fringes of public life, they strut around like intellectual peacocks – as if their unmitigated failure conferred on them some kind of moral superiority.

Futile, unnecessary, detrimental

In his previously mentioned attempt to rebut my negation of the two-state principle, Dershowitz claims that unless Israel accedes to the establishment of a Palestinian state, it will lose its international legitimacy as the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people.

This is a shallow and superficial contention. It is not only conceptually unsound – although the tyrannical muzzling of debate has prevented rational discussion of other compelling alternatives that are both Zionist and democracy-compliant – but it also flies in the face of facts.

After all, apart from a brief flush of international approval immediately following the signature of the Oslo Accords, Israel’s international standing has deteriorated alarming since declaring its willingness to establish a Palestinian state. (The causal mechanism which made this regrettable result inevitable will be elaborated in Part II next week.) This is what makes the entire two-state initiative so infuriating.

Not only did it prove completely futile, it was totally unnecessary – worse, gravely counterproductive, with international delegitimization of Israel today far more pervasive and virulent than it was before the Oslowian misadventure!

Indeed, though the mainstream media – both at home and abroad – have been meticulous in obscuring or misrepresenting the facts, Israel was doing very well in the pre-Oslo years under the recalcitrant Yitzhak Shamir, who steadfastly rejected any notion of a two-state approach.

Setting the record straight

By 1992, the (first) Intifada had virtually petered out, leaving the Palestinians exhausted – among other things, by internecine fratricide with as many perishing at the hands of their kinfolk as were killed by the Israeli security forces. It certainly had no inhibiting effect on the economy. Fueled by the burgeoning immigration from the former-USSR, economic growth soared, exceeding 7 percent in 1992.

While it is true that economic growth was also impressive immediately following the signing of Oslo I, it fell quickly as the Palestinian violence spiraled upwards. The average growth in the three years immediately preceding Oslo I (6.6 % in 1990-92) was higher than that in the three years immediately following it. (6.1% in 1994-96), and easily outstripped the growth in the three years following Oslo II (3.4 % in 1996-99). (Significantly the higher pre-Oslo growth was achieved without the massive budget deficit incurred in the post-Oslo years by the Rabin-Peres government that brought the country to the brink of economic disaster averted, only by the drastic austerity measures of the first Netanyahu government.)

Diplomatically, the country was far from being isolated. Israel scored dramatic pre-Oslo successes, establishing full diplomatic ties with Russia (in October, 1991, a quarter century since the USSR cut ties in 1967 ), India and China (both in January 1992). Strangely, these countries –comprising 40% of the world’s population –appeared singularly unperturbed by the Shamir government’s resolute “rejectionist” stance on Palestinian statehood.

True, following the Oslo Agreements, a spate of countries did forge relations with Israel. But this was far more symbolic than substantive – with all due respect to exotic locations such Andorra, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Burundi, Cape Verde, Croatia, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Montenegro, Namibia, Nauru, Rwanda, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Vanuatu and Zimbabwe – which comprised the overwhelming bulk of the post-1993 additions to the list of counties with diplomatic relations with Israel.

Moreover, one might well be excused for wondering whether the coveted goal of relations with Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe – which, with their proud tradition of human rights, understandably felt morally constrained from establishing formal ties with the Jewish state previously – represented a diplomatic coup worth the thousands of Israelis murdered and maimed by Palestinian violence that the Oslowian quest for two-state “solution” ushered in?

An increasingly oxymoronic endeavor

As the notion of a two-state resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is exposed as an endeavor increasingly detached from reality, its proponents seem to be advancing increasingly preposterous arguments – in a desperate attempt to avoid admission of error.

As it becomes increasingly clear that they can no longer sustain the illusion of the continued validity of their proposed paradigm by any reality- based corroboration, they turn to ignoring, inventing – even inverting – inconvenient facts.

They have thus been coerced into postulating a virtual reality, inhabited by imaginary Palestinians, docile and cuddly, who are presumed to be ready to accept – not only as a short-term stratagem, but on sincere and permanent basis – conditions rejected repeatedly and resolutely by their real-world counterparts. Of course, no persuasive rationale is ever provided to explain why or how such a dramatic metamorphosis in Palestinian attitudes would occur.

Indeed, bereft of any factual foundations, the “two-staters” have tried to transform their disproven political credo into axiomatic political dogma, a self-evident truth, unencumbered by the need for shouldering any bothersome burden of proof.

Likewise, bereft of any doctrinal consistency, “two-staters” embrace self-contradictory – or disingenuous–provisos.

Thus, when Dershowitz conditions the imperative for the establishment of a Palestinian state on “secure borders” for Israel, is he really unaware that the two cannot be reconciled; that the minimal territorial pre-requisites for “secure borders” make a Palestinian state untenable as a sovereign entity?

Is he really so woefully ignorant, or is he willfully ignoring the fact that the Palestinians have already firmly refused far-more magnanimous offers made by Barak and Olmert, who in their obsessive and irresponsible pursuit of an unattainable two-state vision were prepared to forego any semblance of secure borders?

Ignorance or ignominy?

There is nothing enlightened or democratic about support for a two-state solution. It will save neither the Zionist dream nor Israeli democracy. Quite the contrary, it will consign both to oblivion. Only political naiveté or social narcissism can account for further support for this failed concept. It is the hallmark not of the erudite, informed liberal but of either abject ignorance about prevailing realities or ignominious pandering to political faddism.

March 30, 2012 | 7 Comments »

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  1. Hmm! Let’s see just how workable a two-state solution is. First of all the Arab-Palestinians would have to agree that Israel is The Jewish State. Right there you have a non-starter. But, for argument’s sake, let’s say they agree. Then they would have to forego The Right of Return. Another non-starter. But, again for argument’s sake, we’ll allow them to agree. Next they’ll have to agree to secure borders for Israel. No way. The 1967 borders, which are really 1949 borders, are demanded as a Palestinian right. Otherwise, no discussion. Jerusalem will have to be divided and isolated from the rest of the country. No Jews in Judea and Samaria, whatsoever. Tough decisions for Israel, yes, but, out of respect for its great allies and the good opinion of the rest of the world, she agrees. Next Israel insists that the Arab- Palestinians be demilitarized. Palestinians without their guns? How would they celebrate weddings? Can’t be done. Yet, once again, as a sign of good faith, they agree. Now Israel has to negotiate the details of the deal with a less-than-enthusiastic Palestinian government. Unfortunately, Hamas and the PA can’t seem to see eye to eye on anything. The PA is willing to be pragmatic, but Hamas refuses to change its genocidal charter. Nevertheless, just to show the hateful West that that Arabs can actually get along with one another and, for argument’s sake, Abbas and Hanyia actually come together. Israel gets busy. Thousands of Jews are removed from their homes. Special highways are created to connect the Arab areas. Whenever Arabs are moved, their families are compensated. The Jews, however, forceably yanked out of their legally bought-and-paid-for property are placed in crowded tent cities because the logistics of relocation are too daunting. Meanwhile, despite complete cooperation of the Israeli government and the IDF, some reactionary hard-line Islamists are still upset by the idea of Jews in a Muslim wagf. They don’t like the idea of Jews period. So humiliating! True Palestinian patriots can’t take it. Instead, they bump off Abbas and take over Hamas. A civil war ensues. The mayhem spills over the border. Even thouh Israelis tie one hand behind their backs and hop about on one leg, they find themselves killing Palestinian children whose elders have put in harm’s way. The international community is outraged. Israel is made into a pariah state. It goes broke. Jews leave by the boatload. Those who can’t afford to leave are murdered in horrendous ways. In six months Israel, like the abandoned greenhouses in Gaza, has reverted to the wasteland it was in the 19th century. Dershowitz and the New York Times are appalled. They blame the orthodox and the right-wing for not making appropriate concessions at the right time. And, to show their concern for their beleaguered brethren, they set up a fund for a memorial center for Holocaust II, replete with artifacts from what was once a haven for harassed and stateless Jews. The ruinous Zionists are gone forever. The Naturei Karta are in Heaven. The “good” Jews spend about two years iterating devastaing recriminations about conservative war mongers and then rush off to Arica to help those peoples who really need it.

  2. Israel should equip every policeman, guard, soldier, indeed, anybody willing to carry one, with small digital movie cameras that record sound as well as pictures.
    Any Arab in Israel that is filmed saying or doing anything against Israel or Israelis or Jews or breaking any law should unceremoniously be scooped up and deposited in any Arab land that abuts Israel. He/she should be banned, as a danger to society, from ever re-entering the country.

    If the laws do not permit such actions then the laws must be changed to protect the state.

    Draconian? Yes. Unreasonable? No.
    It is time to stop tolerating the Arab fifth columnists, rabble-rousers, criminals, religious fanatics and traitors and those trying to deny and destroy evidence of Israel’s Jewish history. It is time to be rid of them for good.


  4. I don’t know what the exact proper position should be, but Sherman should have the ear of whoever really shapes policy or at least those who keep proposing Dershowitzian ideas. It is brilliant. I particularly like the reference to “social narcissism” whereby a person continues to argue that 2+2=3 despite all proofs to the contrary simply because they are entrenched in the belief and can’t admit to a different, proven true, reality.And that’s exactly what Sherman lays out. I’ve missed a few of his articles but I have read (even several times) an inital article entitled “What Sherlock Holmes would say” which starts out with the basic premiss that “Once you rule out the impossible, the improbable is most likely” I highly recommend it especially to those who argue “but if there is no two-state solution what could be done” and, therefore, continue to argue for it on the so-called grounds that it seems like the only or best solution- an inevitability based on Oslo – and that there is nothing more likely or probable to turn to. Exactly the point actually. Something up until now not part of the discussion, “the improbable” may actually work better and therefore be “more likely” It would take years to change the political consciousness but the Holmesian “improbable” alternatives that Sherman outlines are, in reality, most likely to actually be a solution. I suggest if you’ve read this article find the one I mentioned and “bone” up on an alternative.