Thursday, January 5, 2012

Peace Now's Appeasement Irony

Lara Friedman of Peace Now has hit upon a topic that one would think would be pretty safe: Settler extremism. This joins the list of many anti-Israel articles that the Huffington Post "snuck in" between Christmas and New Years at a time that (as the comments section shows) not many people were reading. However, the way that Ms. Friedman approaches the topic of settler violence and the news that Netanyahu just made a deal with some of them is...well, let's just say it's quite ironic. Let me give you a selection, removing the proper nouns:
"And their action this week ... sent an unmistakable message to the                : not only won't you pay a price for terrorism, but you'll be rewarded." 
"With his actions,                 sent a very clear signal to the                   : your terrorism works. Not only will you not be punished for attacking                       , but you will be rewarded, and at the expense of the                       ." 
"In the almost three decades since the                          .... the celebrations of             as a hero and martyr have become an annual affair, and the memorial to                     on the grounds of the                       , where                lived, a permanent fixture. And by no coincidence, in those same three decades,                  extremism has thrived." 
"                     learned the hard way that appeasing the                    extremists only encourages more, and more violent, extremism."
Obviously, it's directed at the settlers but it could just as easily be a right-wing pundit talking about the Palestinians. And in fact many times people (not always right wingers) have said the same. Peace Now's official position on Hamas is not one of appeasement per se, but it does say that Israel must end the siege, which they must know would strengthen Hamas.

But I guess that's the point I'm trying to make about the article: Terms like "extremists" and "appeasement" are concepts that are dependent on one's point of view, but the principles surrounding them remain the same. And that's what bothers me about Friedman's column: How dare Netanyahu make deals with the settlers, but at the same time he must make deals with the Palestinians? How does that make sense? Appeasing extremists either works or it doesn't. If it does, make deals. If it doesn't, fight the extremists until they give up.

But how can Friedman justify treating the settlers and the Palestinians differently, if Israel is facing a problem of extremists among both populations? Is it because the settlers are also Israelis? Or more likely: is it because the settlers have radically different politics from Ms. Friedman and Peace Now? I often see that tendency on both the right and the left: They don't hate their enemies nearly as much as they hate each other. There's irony for you.


  1. As you link points out

    "The U.S. should stand with Israel in demanding that Hamas end/prevent rocket and mortar attacks on Israel. It should also press Israel to finally end the siege on Gaza, while supporting reasonable Israeli measures to block the import of weapons into the area. Most importantly, the U.S. must get the peace process back on track. In the absence of a credible effort to reach a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - one that takes into account the situation in Gaza - extremists will inevitably gain popular support"

    Calling on America to insist that Hamas "end/prevent rocket and mortar attacks on Israel," and that it must support "reasonable Israeli measures to block the import of weapons into the area" is nowhere near "appeasement."

    Pointing out that Israel should accept the reality that many people in Gaza support Hamas and it should therefore deal with "any Palestinian government - including a unity government - will be based on the positions and actions of that government, not on the basis of whether Hamas is included in it" is not "appeasement" either. It is facing what may be painful fact, but is fact, nonetheless.

    As recently released British documents show, even Maggie Thatcher recognised that she had to deal with the IRA, despite that she declared, endlessly, in public that she would NEVER hold talks with them. Are you quite positive that Israel is not already talking to Hamas?

  2. You will notice, anonymous, that I did not say Peace Now's position toward Hamas was "appeasement." However, Peace Now's position toward Hamas is very different from Lara's position in this article. Peace Now does not demand that the US/Israel force Hamas to change any of their extreme positions, only end their violence.

    If you read more of the article you will also find her complaining about Goldstein memorials, although I agree that they are wrong, no such demand has been made toward the Palestinians (to my knowledge).

    As I made clear in the article, I am not against Israel talking to Hamas if that is what they want. What I am saying is that if Friedman considers both Hamas and these settlers to be extremists, they should be treated the same way. Do you disagree?

  3. Yes I do agree - for once.

    Though I disagree that making deals is "appeasement" - it is practical politics.

  4. So the author really does not see a difference between Palestinians who are denied rights on the basis of their ethnicity and the settlers who are encouraged in their expansion by the government based on their ethnicity?

    As for how extreme Hamas is...
    The IDF fires more rockets than Hamas does
    And Israel does not recognize Palestine as a state just like Hamas doesn't recognize Israel as one

  5. There is a huge difference between the Arabs and the Israelis. The Jewish Israelis are the indigenous people of the area, and have the moral, ethical, and legal right to live wherever they choose. The Arabs are invading squatters who belong in Arabia, not in Israel. They have no moral, ethical, or legal right to someone else's property.

    That said, because the Arabs are human, and because history carries us forward, the Arabs are entitled to human rights, even though they constantly and consistently deny them to Jews all over the world. They can be permitted to stay where they are, provided that they behave themselves.

  6. Hey Anonymous who says :
    "The IDF fires more rockets than Hamas does
    And Israel does not recognize Palestine as a state just like Hamas doesn't recognize Israel as one"

    The IDF fires rockets in retaliation of the daily rockets aimed at civilians in Israeli communities. If the Palestinians would stop firing rockets, they wouldn't see any in return.

    As for Israel not recognizing Palestine as a state. It is NOT a state. Why should it be recognized as such? The two are simply not comparable.
    "Palestine" is NOT a state, Isreal IS a state.
    Bottom line, Hamas, along with most of the Middle East, want zero Jews.
    THAT is the reason Hamas does not recognize Israel.

  7. The difference is the IDF aims

    Stop ignoring the facts about Cast Lead
    “Kemp explains that by UN estimates, the average ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide is 3:1 -- three civilians for every combatant killed. That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan. But in Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to have been 4:1. Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia. In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.
    Since the 22-day Gaza operation, Israel has also been demonstrably fastidious in its efforts to protect civilian lives while targeting combatants. The Israel correspondent for Jane's Defence Weekly sites Israel's record this year, saying "the IDF killed 100 Gazans in 2011. Nine were civilians. That is a civilian-combatant ratio of nearly 1:10."
    in the New Statesman!



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