Thursday, May 23, 2013

William K Barth Vs The Two-State Solution

William K Barth is a Huffington Post blogger known for such insights as, "Why Obama Should Talk to the Taliban." This time he is here to tell us that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian situation actually doesn't work because it violates "human rights." As usual, when asked to choose between "human rights" and peace, the Huffington Post chooses "not peace." As you can see, Barth chooses to defend his point of view using dense academic language:
"Currently, Israelis and Palestinians live interspersed together within non-contiguous borders. However, the problem with partition is that it divides the population based upon ethnic, racial, religious, or linguistic characteristics. Partition actions use types of profiling to assign people to states based upon their human characteristics. The use of profiling contradicts human rights because equal treatment requires that people be recognized as individuals irrespective of their ethnic, racial or religious identity. So, Israelis and Palestinians must reject obnoxious forms of human profiling should they agree on a partition plan. This poses a particular challenge for Israel because it is the homeland of the Jewish peoples who are themselves a persecuted religious group."
Leaving aside the question of this is telling people what to do: Barth doesn't seem to get how human rights works. Within a state, people should be treated equally but often aren't, that is true, but that is unrelated to human rights. Furthermore, Barth doesn't seem to get how the right of self-determination is also a human right. Even if he doesn't necessarily approve of the concept of a nation-state, being in favor of one does not make you anti-human rights. He can complain all he likes but both Israelis and Palestinians are actually pretty happy with what he calls "obnoxious forms of human profiling." And for that matter so is everyone else. Because they would rather see peace and people no longer be dying then Barth not getting all of the human rights perfection that he seeks. But it's pretty easy to tell other people what to do with their future and the future of their children from an American ivory tower.

If this wasn't enough for you, then he goes into a hypothetical one state solution in which everyone (who apparently loves human rights as much as he does) doesn't start murdering each other but lives happily ever after:
"International human rights treaties offer states alternatives to partition. Instead, human rights conventions offer types of integration that protect the existence and identity of national linguistic, ethnic, and religious groups. Human rights distinguish integration from that of assimilation in which a group's ethnic characteristics, including language, education, culture, and religion is melted away into the so-called melting-pot to blend with that of the majority...Since Israelis and Palestinians live interspersed they are already compelled to cooperate on areas of mutual responsibility such as border security, migration, right-of-return, dual-citizenship, public services, trade, and employment."
I'm curious how well a human rights convention would protect you when someone is knocking down your door with the intention of murdering everyone inside. And it's not like the Palestinians and their Arab allies are exactly the most human rights loving people on Earth right now. If you are wondering, no Barth does not go into what happens should one side or the other choose to reject his pseudo-intellectual theories on how to resolve this.

With that in mind: I'm not going to spend more time debunking what Barth has to say. It's just a classic example of Huffington Post blogger: Dense, academic, completely unrelated to the actual situation, and against peace.

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