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Response to The False Religion of Mideast Peace

11 Aug 2010

Responding to Aaron David Miller | Stephen M. WaltAnnotated – See excerpts (bulleted) after my comments in the Read more.

Walt’s questions / comments for Miller are spot on – very good challenges – and I would like to hear Miller’s comments. However, I expect that when they got down to talking, they would agree on quite a bit. As I said in my previous post, I think Miller’s analogy (“false religion”) is catchy, but overstates his point (as well as, perhaps, getting people who need to, to read his article).

Walt’s relating of the three problems with Miller’s essay and of his concern for the future is an excellent and concise presentation of some of the most significant aspects of this issue.

tags: Israel Palestine peace peace process Middle East

  • Miller is by all accounts a decent and fair-minded
    individual and a dedicated public servant.  I’ve had a few interchanges with him over the past few years
    and have found him to be both thoughtful and genuinely on the side of
    peace. But while I share his
    pessimism about the future, his account of our current situation is rife with
    blind spots and contradictions. And it is strangely silent on the most telling question of all: What
    will we do when “two states for two peoples” is no longer possible and
    everybody is forced to admit it?
  • Moreover, for all his pessimism about the future, Miller
    never asks if the United States should distance itself from an Israel that is
    in the process of becoming an apartheid state. Instead, he still believes “America is Israel’s best friend
    and must continue to be. Shared
    values are at the heart of the relationship, and our intimacy with Israel gives
    use leverage and credibility in peacemaking when we use it properly.”
  • There are three problems here. First, all that “intimacy” doesn’t’ seem to be giving us very
    much leverage these days, and Miller’s whole essay is in fact devoted to
    explaining why continuing to push the peace process is a waste of time. OK, but who cares if we have “leverage”
    and “credibility” if we’re not going to use it?
  • Second, being Israel’s “best friend” shouldn’t mean giving
    it unconditional support, especially when doing so reinforces Israeli policies (like
    settlement-building) that threaten U.S. interests and Israel’s own long-term
    future. Being a true friend means
    telling the truth when a friend’s actions are misguided, but as Miller
    recognizes, our capacity to “be honest” has mostly evaporated.
  • Third, Miller invokes the familiar mantra of “shared
    values,” but without asking whether the values we share are now diminishing. American values don’t include
    confiscating land from Palestinians, throwing thousands of Palestinians in jail
    without trial, and carving up the occupied territories with separate roads, a wall,
    and hundreds of check-points.
    America’s values are “one person, one vote,” but that’s not the reality
    in Greater Israel today and that is certainly not what Bibi Netanyahu has in
    mind for the future. Miller
    doesn’t think the peace process has any future — and he may be right — but he still
    believes the United States should give Israel several billion dollars each year
    in economic and military aid and provide it with consistent diplomatic
    protection, even in the face of events like the Gaza War or the pummeling of Lebanon
    in 2006.
  • Perhaps the most disheartening aspect of Miller’s cri de coeur is its silence about the
    future.  The situation is not
    static, and if there is no peace process, there will be no two-state solution. As both Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert have
    warned, if there is no two-state solution, then Israel will be an apartheid
    state and it will face growing international censure and an internal struggle
    for Palestinian political rights. When that happens, Olmert noted in 2007, “the state of Israel is
    finished.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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