Jim Sleeper is a Huffington Post blogger and political science lecturer at Yale. Which probably makes him more qualified to comment on Israel, the subject of his latest article, than I am, but let's see if his arguments stand up to scrutiny. Lately Sleeper has been writing about gun control but occasionally talks about Israel so there you go.
He doesn't live in Israel obviously but decides that he is going to tell us how Israelis feel by three groups that he spoke to the last time he was there. Here is his paraphrase of summary of what one driver told him:
"The world is against us no matter what we do. They wanted us out of Europe. Now that they got us out, they want us out of here, too. They hated us when we ran Gaza, they hated us when we got out and left greenhouses and schools, which Hamas made a big show of destroying; and now they hate us because we can't let Gaza be run by a heavily armed Hamas, which most Palestinians themselves fear and hate and which is tied to powers that are sworn to destroy us.
You see, no one in this region respects or responds to anything but brute force. We have to live with that day and night, so we understand.
I used to vote left, and I still don't like Bibi or [Avigdor] Lieberman, and I'd still say, Give back the Golan Heights, give back East Jerusalem. But give it to who? How naïve can we be?
Does anyone think that any Arab regime, or Amadenijad or Erdogan, who all have more blood on their own hands than we ever did, and who are trying to hide so much brutality now, care a damn about Palestinians? I swear to you, I care more than they ever will."Kind of an extreme point of view? Sure, but he happens to be more or less in the right. Leaving Gaza didn't work, most Palestinians do want to wipe out Israel and use violence to do it. None of these people who claim to care about the Palestinians actually do, and force is still the defining way of life in the Middle East. To ignore this gets people killed.
So how does Sleeper react to this? By wringing his hands, mostly:
"It's a seemingly unbreakable and doomed logic -- Netanyahu's logic -- and most Israelis have been sunk in it since the massive wave of suicide bombings in the middle of the last decade."Okay, that's one interpretation: that they have "sunk" into "doomed" logic. The other explanation is that they finally woke the hell up and realized that concessions don't work when the people you are conceding to don't actually want peace. And that sticking your head in the sand and blazing through anyway doesn't get you where you want to go. So here comes Sleeper's counter argument:
"With a better mix of incentives and alternatives as well as constraints, Hamas and Hezbollah might evolve as other seemingly terminally murderous organizations in Ireland and South Africa evolved. Without such a strategy, far-fetched though it may seem to Netanyahu's and his supporters, there will be more brutal, hopeless conflicts that drag all parties, including the beautiful wedding party in Beit Shemesh, to destruction."Sleeper doesn't seem anti-Israel, only naive, yet I see that the South Africa comparisons has returned with all of its odious lies.
Why doesn't this work? In Ireland, the IRA made it clear what they wanted: England to leave Ireland. They failed, it was an unreasonable goal. The ANC also made it clear what they wanted: enfranchisement. They succeeded, it was a reasonable goal. Hamas and Hezbollah have also made it clear what they want: The destruction of Israel and the killing of everyone who lives there. That is literally why they exist. Violence is not a means to an end for them, it is the end. And it is not a reasonable goal, no matter what the haters on the Huffington Post will tell you.
You may also notice that Sleeper's vague, unhelpful '"suggestions" are lacking merit. Oh, if we just give them stuff and don't give them other stuff, these Islamist terrorist organizations might turn nice after all! Has that worked with Al Qaeda or Al Shabab? Why would it work here? Israel has tried being nice, and so has the rest of the world. All it has resulted in is more corruption in the PA and more death. It hasn't made the Palestinians more moderate, because they think with every concession that they receive it will bring them closer to their final ultimate goal.
(And by the way, scaring people into listening to you by threatening "destruction" if they don't do what you say is pretty low. We see such tactics all the time on the Huffington Post).
But don't worry! He isn't finished, he has more vague, unhelpful suggestions for us:
"Such strategies, involving irresistible economic incentives and real political opportunities, might, if sustained over time, loosen things up enough among Palestinians to diminish the grip of Hamas' most destructive theocrats. Such strategies might even diminish the geo-political shell games being played by cynical Hamas supporters who have so much to hide (including Turkey, whose record with Armenians and Kurds makes its posturing as a champion of oppressed Gazans transparently demagogic.) "Again, in the 1990s the Palestinians were receiving tons of economic incentives and political opportunities, more than they had ever seen in their short history. It did not make them peaceful. It made them more radical, and when the PLO wasn't perceived as fighting Israel well enough, they moved over to Hamas. And sure, they might "diminish the grip" of Hamas, but that's assuming that they want to. There is no evidence, except for Sleeper's opinion, that repeating the mistakes of the past will work this time. He just doesn't want to admit that Netanyahu's way might actually work. That kind of attitude just isn't acceptable on the Huffington Post.
As for Turkey, it's all about the politics for them. If the USA told them to knock it off, they would. They are already depending on American help to deal with Syria, so there's no reason to put Israeli lives are risk just to get them to quiet down. That's how "soft power" should be working.
Ultimately this article is just another case of the left-wing having sour grapes that their sacred cows aren't working out. It fits right in on the Huffington Post, if nowhere else.