Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Case for Nationalism. By John O’Sullivan.

The Case for Nationalism. By John O’Sullivan. Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2014.


Incessant “antifascist” propaganda from Moscow, baseless claims of attacks against Russians in Ukraine, incitement of Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine, Russian troops without insignia seizing official buildings in Crimea, a stage-managed illegal plebiscite there and then its annexation by Russia, assurances from President Vladimir Putin that he has no further territorial designs in Europe (though, alas, he may be forced to intervene elsewhere to protect ethnic Russians)—yes, it all has the disturbing ring of the 1930s.
Isn’t this where nationalism leads—to fascism and war?
That is a common interpretation of Europe’s recent crises. It is also, coincidentally, Mr. Putin’s interpretation of events in Ukraine, which he blames on neo-fascist followers of the nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, who was murdered by the KGB in 1959. But this view is really too simple by half.
Nationalists are certainly implicated in the Ukraine crisis, but more as victims than perpetrators. The crisis began as an attempt by Moscow to rescue its stillborn concept of a Eurasian Economic Union by forcing Ukraine to join it and to reject associate membership in the European Union.
Mr. Putin, who isn’t a nationalist (see below) but the ruler of a shaky multinational empire hostile to nationalism, sparked off the crisis by closing Russia’s borders to Ukraine’s agricultural exports. He did so to compel a reluctant President Viktor Yanukovych to abandon the more popular EU option.
The Ukrainian government, encouraged by Mr. Putin, unified the assorted democrats, nationalists and activists of the left and the right who protested this move by firing indiscriminately on them. Mr. Yanukovych’s power crumbled almost visibly; he fled; and a new Ukrainian government that includes nationalists took over.
Nationalism was thus one impulse in this general movement. Others were love of freedom, desire for a more democratic system, economic hopes for greater prosperity through ties to Western Europe and simple human decency. The Ukrainians inspired by these aims have just sustained an (inevitable) defeat in Crimea, but they still govern most of Ukraine, which is now escaping from Moscow’s post-Soviet institutions. While that remains the case, Mr. Putin has suffered a reverse overall.
If Ukrainian nationalists have been reactive, even victimized, in this crisis, what about Mr. Putin himself? His actions have certainly been objectionable—ruthless, aggressive, deceitful, illegal, repressive, subversive. But to describe them as “nationalist” is to reduce the concept of nationalism to a politics of aggressive self-assertion. There is no reason to suppose that nations and nation-states are more prone to indulge in such folly than are federations, empires or states founded on nonnational principles.
Mr. Putin has indeed acted ruthlessly of late, but he has done so in the service of what he sees as clear state or even personal interests, not from a commitment to Russian peoplehood.
The history of the 1930s is instructive for making the necessary distinctions here. World War II began as the result of a conspiracy by Hitler and Stalin—the Nazi-Soviet Pact—to invade Poland and divide Eastern Europe and the Baltic states between them. Nazi Germany was a state built upon the ideology of racial nationalism (which places race above nationhood), the Soviet Union upon the ideology of proletarian internationalism (which rejects nationalism entirely). Both acted far more brutally and unrestrainedly than any conventional nation-state of the period.
Besides, today’s Russian Federation is itself not a nation-state but an empire. Mr. Putin’s conduct of the crisis, in addition to being aggressive, might best be described as imperialist or neo-imperialist, not nationalist. We should not illegitimately associate the nation-state with crimes that aren’t uniquely nationalist and may even be less likely to be committed by stable nation-states.
This matters because nationalism is an increasingly necessary word that is too often misused as a term of abuse. Nationalisms and nationalist movements are popping up all over Europe. These can take very different forms: left, right and ambivalent. Some are straightforward secessionist movements, like the nationalist parties in Scotland and Catalonia, striving to establish new states rooted in historic nations. Others are movements resisting further integration of their existing nation-states into the European Community, such as the True Finns party in Finland and the U.K. Independence Party in Britain.
Still others want to protect the nation and its distinctive political spirit (the National Front in France), or the welfare state (the Danish People’s Party in Denmark) or “liberal values” (the Party of Freedom led by Geert Wilders in Holland) that each feels is threatened by mass immigration. Even the mercifully cautious Germans have the Alternative for Germany party, which, though not avowedly nationalist, emits a distinctively postwar German anti-Euro economic nationalism—and should probably be renamed the Alliance of Patriotic Bankers.
Most of these parties, which didn’t exist 20 years ago, are now represented in Europe’s parliaments. They are expected to do well in May's elections. They probably won't win power or enter government, but they force mainstream parties to deal with such issues as the loss of national sovereignty.
In the eyes of Europe’s various political and cultural establishments—what the British call the Great and the Good—none of this should be happening. It is akin to water running uphill. For several decades now, we have heard from these precincts that the nation-state is on its way out, losing power upward to supranational institutions and downward to organized minority groups. Behind their hands, the critics of resurgent nationalism murmur that it is nothing but xenophobia, authoritarianism or even fascism, in folkloric drag. They see Europe’s rising nationalist parties as the preserve of bitter losers or those in the grip of nostalgia.
Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, expressed this view perfectly in 2010 when he announced for the umpteenth time that the nation-state was dead, adding: “The biggest enemy of Europe today is fear; fear leads to egoism, egoism leads to nationalism, and nationalism leads to war.”
This pronouncement didn’t foresee Mr. Putin’s recent actions. But it illustrates nicely how Europe’s political elites see events like the Ukraine crisis in the distorting mirror of anti-nationalism. This view persuades them to consider nationalism a threat, but a dying one. And it is, quite simply, wrong on both counts.
A practical refutation of this view lies in the fact that there are more nation-states in the world today than ever before. They have multiplied since 1945 in two great leaps forward: the decolonization period of the 1950s and 1960s, and the years following the dissolution of communism in 1989 and 1991. Some of these nations gained their independence, alas, by war and revolution—Zimbabwe, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo. Others did so by peaceful negotiation. Most former British colonies and Soviet republics took this route, but the most significant example of it is the “velvet divorce” that produced successful Czech and Slovak states.
This upsurge of nationhood might be dismissed as a detour on the high road to global governance if the establishment view of nationalism weren’t so absurdly crude. It elides vital distinctions and treats all forms of national loyalty as if they were the most aggressive and exclusivist type. In reality, the full spectrum of nationalist loyalties runs roughly as follows: from Nazism, which is totalitarian racial nationalism; to fascism, which is authoritarian and aggressive nationalism; to ethnic nationalism, which is exclusivist, treating ethnic minorities as second-class citizens (if that); to civic nationalism, which opens full citizenship to all born in the national territory in return for their loyalty to the nation and its institutions; and finally, to patriotism, which is that same national loyalty plus simple love of country—its scenery, its sights and sounds, its characteristic architecture, its songs and poems, its people, its wonderful familiarity.
Here, for instance, is George Orwell, perhaps the most famous critic of nationalism, upon returning to southern England from Spain: “Down here it was still the England I had known in my childhood: the railway-cuttings smothered in wildflowers, the deep meadows where the great shining horses browse and meditate, the slow-moving streams bordered by willows, the green bosoms of the elms, the larkspurs in the cottage gardens; and then the huge peaceful wilderness of outer London, the barges on the miry river, the familiar streets, the posters telling of cricket matches and Royal weddings, the men in bowler hats, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, the red buses, the blue policemen—all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England.”
England has changed since then, of course; men no longer wear bowler hats. But it would be as absurd to condemn such a tender patriotism as likely to lead to fascism as it would be to abstain from all interest in sex on the grounds that it might lead to promiscuity. Ordinary people, attached to reality as they must be to survive, feel exactly that sense of absurdity when they hear statements like Mr. Van Rompuy’s.
But that hasn’t hitherto affected their political behavior. Why have they suddenly begun thinking and voting in line with such sentiments?
One obvious reason is that all the ideological rivals to patriotism have been largely discredited. Orwell pointed out that those who abandoned patriotism generally adopted a more virulent ideological substitute. In our day, the most obvious rival ideologies are Europeanism in Europe and multiculturalism in the U.S., both of which seek to weaken national patriotism to change the political character of their societies.
But neither of these creeds has yet become more than a niche loyalty, even though they enjoy lavish official support and the sympathy of those government officials, international bureaucrats, NGO executives, “denationalized” corporate managers and academics ambitious to be the vanguard of the new or transformed nation. Old-fashioned patriotism survives, perhaps weakened by such defections, but not seriously challenged. It remains in the shadows until tempted into the open by a 9/11, or an anniversary of D-Day or the funeral of a Margaret Thatcher. It is then suddenly recognized as the sentiment of most of the nation.
Until recently, those voters for whom patriotism and the national interest were determining issues found comfortable homes in parties of both the left and the right. But that has gradually ceased to be true.
As parties of the left swapped their working-class identity for that of middle-class liberalism, they began to think patriotism vulgar, cheap and xenophobic. At the same time, mainstream parties of the right drifted unthinkingly into a posture that treated nationalist and socially conservative voters as somewhat embarrassing elderly relatives whose views could be safely ignored. Party leaders reasoned that their atavistic voters had nowhere else to go.
The result can be seen most dramatically in Britain, where the U.K. Independence Party, having secured its base among traditional middle-class Tories, is now harvesting new votes from patriotic blue-collar Laborites. But one can see similar outcomes throughout Europe.
Another factor in this resurgence is a change of intellectual fashion toward bigness. Fewer people in all classes are still confident that the future belongs to the big battalions. They have noticed that smaller states are likely to be richer, easier to manage and closer to the people than larger states. As the Economist magazine pointed out a few years ago: “Of the 10 countries with populations of over 100 [million], only the U.S. and Japan are prosperous.”
These economic facts remove an important obstacle to secession. And if there ever was a link between prosperity and bigness, it has been dissolved by free trade and globalization, which ensure that the size of a nation need no longer coincide with the size of the market open to it. At the same time, a government can shrink to the size that its citizens find most convenient to control.
The U.S. is the exception to these rules—it is both large and prosperous—because its federalism distributes power to states and localities, where it can be better controlled. Switzerland is another example. Europe might imitate America’s success if it were to model itself on Switzerland and distribute power downward. But the opposite is happening—in both Europe and America.
A final brief argument is perhaps the strongest: Nation-states are an almost necessary basis for democracy. A common language and culture, a common allegiance to national institutions, a common sense of destiny, all within a defined territory, with equal rights for all citizens—these seem to be the conditions that enable people with different opinions and interests to accept political defeat and the passage of laws to which they strongly object. There are a few exceptions to this rule—India, Switzerland—but many more confirmations of it.
None of these many considerations justify supporting nationalism as a universal principle of statehood. There is no such principle. States rooted in ideas as different as popular consent and the dynastic principle have been handed down to us by history. Wholesale reconstruction of them is utopian and nearly always fails. The best we can hope for is to improve them by piecemeal reform along the grain of their history.
But trying to abolish or replace the nation-state is almost certain to produce more evils than it deters. The lesson of recent history is that nationalism is here to stay—and that secure, stable and satisfied nation-states are likely to want friendship with neighboring countries rather than their conquest. Wise political leaders anxious for peace will concentrate on shaping their people's nationalism into an amiable patriotism rather than on submerging it in a new sovereignty and driving it toward its darker manifestations.

Nasa-Funded Study: Industrial Civilization Headed for “Irreversible Collapse?” By Nafeez Ahmed.

Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for “irreversible collapse?” By Nafeez Ahmed. The Guardian, March 14, 2014.

Natural and social scientists develop new model of how “perfect storm” of crises could unravel global system.

Here’s How NASA Thinks Society Will Collapse. By Alex Brown. National Journal, March 18, 2014.

Too much inequality and too few natural resources could leave the West vulnerable to a Roman Empire-style fall.

Did Nasa fund “civilisation collapse” study, or not? By Nafeez Ahmed. The Guardian, March 21, 2014.

About that Popular Guardian Story on the Collapse of Industrial Civilization. By Keith Kloor. Discover, March 21, 2014.

Judging the Merits of a Media-Hyped “Collapse” Study. By Keith Kloor. Discover, March 21, 2014.

What happened to space exploration? NASA’s new project predicts the end of civilization. By Glenn Beck., March 18, 2014.

NASA-backed study says human civilization is headed for irreversible collapse. By Scott Sutherland. Yahoo! News, March 19, 2014. 

Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies. By Safa Moteshaerrei, Jorge Rivas, and Eugenia Kalnay. Ecological Economics, draft accepted for publication. Also here.


There are widespread concerns that current trends in population and resource-use are unsustainable, but the possibilities of an overshoot and collapse remain unclear and controversial. How real is the possibility of a societal collapse? Can complex, advanced civilizations really collapse? It is common to portray human history as a relentless and inevitable trend toward greater levels of social complexity, political organization, and economic specialization, with the development of more complex and capable technologies supporting ever-growing population, all sustained by the mobilization of ever-increasing quantities of material, energy, and information. Yet this is not inevitable. In fact, cases where this seemingly near-universal, long-term trend has been severely disrupted by a precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common. A brief review of some examples of collapses suggests that the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history, making it important to establish a general explanation of this process.
The Roman Empire’s dramatic collapse (followed by many centuries of population decline, economic deterioration, intellectual regression, and the disappearance of literacy) is well known, but it was not the first rise-and-collapse cycle in Europe. Prior to the rise of Classical Greco-Roman civilization, both the Minoan and Mycenaean Civilizations had each risen, reached very advanced levels of civilization, and then collapsed virtually completely. The history of Mesopotamia – the very cradle of civilization, agriculture, complex society, and urban life – presents a series of rise-and-declines including the Sumerians, the Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian, Sassanid, Umayyad, and Abbasid Empires. In neighboring Egypt, this cycle also appeared repeatedly. In both Anatolia and in the Indus Valley, the very large and long-lasting Hittite and Harrapan civilizations both collapsed so completely that their very existence was unknown until modern archeology rediscovered them. Similar cycles of rise and collapse occurred repeatedly in India, most notably with the Mauryan and the Gupta Empires. Southeast Asia similarly experienced “multiple and overlapping histories of collapse and regeneration” over 15 centuries, culminating in the Khmer Empire based in Angkor, which itself was depopulated and swallowed by the forest during the 15th Century. Chinese history is, very much like Egypt’s, full of repeated cycles of rises and collapses, with each of the Zhou, Han, Tang, and Song Empires followed by a very serious collapse of political authority and socioeconomic progress.
Collapses are not restricted to the “Old World.” The collapse of Maya Civilization is well-known and evokes widespread fascination, both because of the advanced nature of Mayan society and because of the depth of the collapse. As Diamond puts it, it is difficult to ignore “the disappearance of between 90 and 99% of the Maya population after A.D. 800 . . . and the disappearance of kings, Long Count calendars, and other complex political and cultural institutions.” In the nearby central highlands of Mexico, a number of powerful states also rose to high levels of power and prosperity and then rapidly collapsed, Teotihuacan (the sixth largest city in the world in the 7th C) and Monte Alban being just the largest of these to experience dramatic collapse, with their populations declining to about 20-25% of their peak within just a few generations.
We know of many other collapses including Mississippian Cultures such as Cahokia, South West US cultures such as the Pueblo and Hohokam, Andean civilizations such as Tiwanaku, Sub-Saharan civilizations such as Great Zimbabwe, and many collapses across the Pacific Islands, such as Easter Island. It is also likely other collapses have also occurred in societies that were not at a sufficient level of complexity to produce written records or archeological evidence. Indeed, a recent study of the Neolithic period in Europe has shown that “in contrast to the steady population growth usually assumed, the introduction of agriculture into Europe was followed by a boom-and-bust pattern in the density of regional populations.” Furthermore “most regions show more than one boom-bust pattern,” and in most regions, population declines “of the order of the 30-60%” can be found. The authors also argue that, rather than climate change or diseases, the timing and evidence point to endogenous causes for these collapses in 19 out of 23 cases studied, suggesting the possibility of “rapid population growth driven by farming to unsustainable levels.” Moreover, through wavelet analysis of the archeological data, S. Downey [personal communication] has shown that the average length of such boom-and-bust cycles is about 300-500 years.
In summary, despite the common impression that societal collapse is rare, or even largely fictional, the “picture that emerges is of a process recurrent in history, and global in its distribution.” As Turchin and Nefedov contend, there is a great deal of support for “the hypothesis that secular cycles – demographic-social-political oscillations of a very long period (centuries long) are the rule, rather than an exception in the large agrarian states and empires.”
This brings up the question of whether modern civilization is similarly susceptible. It may seem reasonable to believe that modern civilization, armed with its greater technological capacity, scientific knowledge, and energy resources, will be able to survive and endure whatever crises historical societies succumbed to. But the brief overview of collapses demonstrates not only the ubiquity of the phenomenon, but also the extent to which advanced, complex, and powerful societies are susceptible to collapse. The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent.
A large number of explanations have been proposed for each specific case of collapse, including one or more of the following: volcanoes, earthquakes, droughts, floods, changes in the courses of rivers, soil degradation (erosion, exhaustion, salinization, etc), deforestation, climate change, tribal migrations, foreign invasions, changes in technology (such as the introduction of ironworking), changes in the methods or weapons of warfare (such as the introduction of horse cavalry, armored infantry, or long swords), changes in trade patterns, depletion of particular mineral resources (e.g., silver mines), cultural decline and social decadence, popular uprisings, and civil wars. However, these explanations are specific to each particular case of collapse rather than general. Moreover, even for the specific case where the explanation applies, the society in question usually had already experienced the phenomenon identified as the cause without collapsing. For example, the Minoan society had repeatedly experienced earthquakes that destroyed palaces, and they simply rebuilt them more splendidly than before. Indeed, many societies experience droughts, floods, volcanoes, soil erosion, and deforestation with no major social disruption.
The same applies to migrations, invasions, and civil wars. The Roman, Han, Assyrian, and Mauryan Empires were, for centuries, completely militarily hegemonic, successfully defeating the neighboring “barbarian” peoples who eventually did overrun them. So external military pressure alone hardly constitutes an explanation for their collapses. With both natural disasters and external threats, identifying a specific cause compels one to ask, “yes, but why did this particular instance of this factor produce the collapse?” Other processes must be involved, and, in fact, the political, economic, ecological, and technological conditions under which civilizations have collapsed have varied widely. Individual collapses may have involved an array of specific factors, with particular triggers, but a general explanation remains elusive. Individual explanations may seem appropriate in their particular case, but the very universal nature of the phenomenon implies a mechanism that is not specific to a particular time period of human history, nor a particular culture, technology, or natural disaster.
In this paper we attempt to model collapse mathematically in a more general way. We propose a simple model, not intended to describe actual individual cases, but rather to provide a general framework that allows carrying out “thought experiments” for the phenomenon of collapse and to test changes that would avoid it. This model (called HANDY, for Human and Nature Dynamics) advances beyond existing biological dynamic population models by simultaneously modeling two separate important features which seem to appear across societies that have collapsed: (1) the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity, and (2) the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses (or “Commoners”). In many of these historical cases, we have direct evidence of Ecological Strain and Economic Stratification playing a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse. For these empirical reasons, and the theoretical ones explained in section 3, our model incorporates both of these two features. Although similar to the Brander and Taylor model (hereafter referred to as “BT”) in that HANDY is based on the classical predator-prey model, the inclusion of two societal classes introduces a much richer set of dynamical solutions, including cycles of societal and ecological collapse, as well as the possibility of smoothly reaching equilibrium (the ecological carrying capacity). We use Carrying Capacity in its biological definition: the population level that the resources of a particular environment can sustain over the long term. In this paper, we call these environment resources “Nature.”

Why an Israeli “One-State Solution” Is Viable. By Caroline Glick.

The worst alternative. By Caroline B. Glick. Jerusalem Post, March 20, 2014. Also at

The Israeli Solution. By Caroline B. Glick. Jerusalem Post, March 6, 2014. Also at

The Israeli Solution. By Janet Tassel. American Thinker, March 2, 2014.

When negotiations fail. By Mati Wagner. Jerusalem Post, March 23, 2014.

The Futile Search for Middle East Solutions. By Jonathan S. Tobin. NJBR, March 11, 2014.

Glick [Worst Alternative]:

The Israeli one-state plan is a viable prospect, which similarly distinguishes it from all the other ideas on offer.

PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas must have gotten a kick out of it on Monday when he visited the White House and President Barack Obama praised him as “somebody who has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security.”
After all, the same day the men met, Abbas’s regime continued its week-long celebration of the deadliest Palestinian terrorist attack on Israel to date.
On March 11, 1978, PLO terrorists commandeered a passenger bus on the coastal highway and massacred 37 people, including 12 children.
Dalal Mughrabi, a female terrorist, led the raid. Ever since, she has been lionized by the PLO.
While he met with Obama, Abbas’s adviser Sultan Abu al-Einein proclaimed that Mughrabi was the ultimate role model for Palestinian women.
In Einein’s words, (reported by Palestinian Media Watch), “In March, [we mark] Palestinian Women’s Day, in March, Palestinian Mother’s Day also occurs, in March… [we remember Dalal Mughrabi] who would not agree to anything other than to establish her state between Jaffa and Lebanon in her special way.”
Einein urged Palestinian youth to follow Mughrabi’s example of mass murder. “Let the young people hear me: Allah, honor us with Martyrdom, Allah, give us the honor of being part of the procession of Martyrs.”
The Israeli Right didn’t need the Mughrabi festival to understand that Obama’s claim that Abbas wants peace is ridiculous. As Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon explained last Saturday, Abbas is “a partner for taking, not for giving.”
Israeli Leftists, who have slavishly championed Abbas, are finally catching on. Last month, in an op-ed in Haaretz, long-time PLO champion Shlomo Avineri acknowledged the dynamic at work in the two-state policy model and how Abbas uses it to Israel’s disadvantage.
Avineri wrote that it is not that Abbas “is no partner for talks, but that he is an excellent partner for talks — as long as they are talks designed to lead Israel to make more and more concessions, and to put them in writing. Then, on one pretext or another, he is unwilling to sign and brings the negotiations to a halt, so they can be restarted in the future ‘where they left off’: with all the previous Israeli concessions included, and no concessions having been put forward by the Palestinian side.”
In other words, Abbas negotiates not to achieve peace, but to weaken Israel.
But the Americans remain oblivious to all of this. And by now it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Obama’s ignorance of the nature of Abbas’s game is deliberate. His apparently deliberate blindness to the obvious indicates that Obama doesn’t have a problem with Abbas’s behavior and goals.
The lesson from Abbas’s real game and Obama’s apparent support for it is that the status quo is devastating for Israel.
For the past 20 years, Israel has confined itself to a paradigm of two-states. Under this model, since 1994 it has shared control over Judea and Samaria with the PLO.
As statements like Ya’alon’s and Avineri’s make clear, their experience with this model has shown Israelis across the political spectrum that the Palestinians’ primary goal is not to build a Palestinian state. It is today what it has always been: the eradication of the Jewish state.
For the Palestinians, the two-state strategy isn’t about receiving land from Israel in exchange for peace. The two-state strategy is about undermining Israel’s relations with the US and other Western allies and weakening Israeli society’s resolve to defend itself while the PLO builds its terrorist infrastructure for use when deemed appropriate.
Abbas’s unique contribution to this strategy is that he places economic, diplomatic and legal attacks on Israel rather than terrorism at the forefront.
Not that he opposes terrorism. Just like his predecessors, Abbas believes that all means for achieving Israel’s destruction are legitimate. And Israel cannot help but assist him.
Due to Israel’s continued acceptance of the two-state policy model it continues to share control over Judea and Samaria with the PLO. This joint control encourages acceptance of the PLO’s propaganda claim that Israel is a foreign occupier of the areas, and that they rightfully belong to the Palestinians who are dominated by an illegal Israeli occupation.
Israel’s continued abidance by this paradigm makes it impossible for its representatives to defend the country against PLO challenges to its legitimacy. Hence most Israelis assume, rightly, that Israel is powerless to defend itself from the PLO’s political warfare at places like the UN and the International Court of Justice.
The only way that Israel can defend itself against these PLO abuses, the only way it can stop the PLO from continuing to undermine its alliances with the US and friendly parts of Europe, is by ending its embrace of the status quo. So, too, the only way Israel can stop the PLO’s expansion of its security forces into a full-fledged military force, armed and trained by the US and Europe, is by abandoning shared control and ditching the two-state model.
In my new book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, I advocate for Israel to end the current situation, which erodes its ability to survive, by applying its laws to Judea and Samaria and providing the Palestinians who live there with permanent residency status and the right to apply for Israeli citizenship.
Obviously, I recognize and discuss at length the challenges this policy will present. And I also explain, at length, why the dangers inherent to this clearly imperfect policy are smaller than those Israel faces from the status quo.
Critics of my policy like Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin have dismissed my policy as “fantasy” and insist that the best option for Israel is the status quo of shared control over the areas with the PLO.
Among other things, Tobin and others insist that since there is no support for the option of Israel applying its laws to Judea and Samaria in the US today, the plan should be ignored.
But it is far from clear why this is the case. A better plan is to build support for this option in the US and in Europe as the only viable alternative to the two-state paradigm which has failed for 90 years and will continue to fail for the foreseeable future because the Palestinians reject the Jews’ right to self-determination.
Like the rest of the world, today, due to its abidance by the two-state formula, Israel’s default position is that it is the occupier of its own historic homeland without which its borders are indefensible and its existence is incomprehensible.
The only way for Israel to defend itself competently in the international arena is for its default position to rest on Israel’s historic and legal rights to the areas – that is, to stop accepting that these areas, to which Israel has a stronger legal claim that the Palestinians, belong to the Palestinians and begin asserting Israel’s positive case for sovereignty.
Other critics of the Israeli one-state plan like Hillel Halkin argue that if Israel applies its laws to the areas, all of the Palestinians will immediately apply for Israeli citizenship and vote in Knesset elections.
The problem with this argument is that it assumes that Israel’s experience with implementing the one-state policy – in unified Jerusalem in 1967 and in the Golan Heights in 1981 – is irrelevant.
This assumption is hard to understand.
As I show in my book, Jerusalem’s Arabs only applied for Israeli citizenship when they feared that Israel would surrender their neighborhoods to the PLO. And the Golan Heights Druse only began applying for Israeli citizenship in significant numbers after the Syrian civil war broke out.
Since an Israeli decision to apply its laws to Judea and Samaria is a clear statement that Israel has no intention of leaving, history indicates that there is no reason to assume that the Palestinians will apply for Israeli citizenship en masse.
Another criticism is that it is too late in the game for Israel to end PLO rule in Judea and Samaria. The cat is out of the bag, so to speak.
There are two problems with this contention.
First, it assumes that Israel must agree to remain confined to a policy model that undermines its ability to survive and damns it to an eternal erosion of its national resolve and relations with the rest of the free world while building the military capabilities of an enemy dedicated to its destruction.
The second problem is that it assumes that applying Israeli civil law to the areas involves reverting to the past.
But the Israeli one-state plan is not a reversion to the military government. It is a progression to the rule of civil law, under which the Palestinians and the Israelis in the areas will be governed as the rest of the citizens of Israel are governed, under a liberal legal code which provides full legal protections to all.
Critics extrapolate from Israel’s current diplomatic helplessness under the weight of the two-state paradigm that Israel will necessarily and forever be incapable of defending itself. And so they assume that Israel will be powerless to offset the economic devastation of European economic sanctions that they believe will necessarily follow an Israeli decision to apply its laws to Judea and Samaria.
This claim ignores three important issues. Its proponents assume the US will back a European trade war against Israel. Is this really the most likely scenario? Second, they ignore the fact that Europe initiated its economic war against Israel now, as Israel maintains its allegiance to the two-state paradigm.
Obviously maintaining this faith isn’t getting Israel to a better place.
By changing its default position to one based on asserting Israel’s rights rather than ignoring them, Israel will have the capacity to defend against Europe’s political and economic warfare.
Finally, they assume that Israel has no ability to withstand a European economic war. But this assessment ignores Israel’s burgeoning trade with Asia. China is building a rail link between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean through Israel as an alternative to the Suez Canal. Israel is India’s largest military supplier. Israel’s energy independence and emergence as a major exporter of natural gas similarly decreases its reliance on European markets.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, the Israeli one-state plan is the worst possible plan for managing the Palestinian and pan-Arab conflict with Israel, except for every other plan that has been tried from time to time. It presents Israel with considerable threats and challenges. But on balance, as I show in my book, these threats are less acute and less dangerous than the ones Israel now faces. Moreover, the Israeli one-state plan is a viable prospect, which similarly distinguishes it from all the other ideas on offer.

Blue Emu Commerical with Johnny Bench and His Wife Lauren Baiocchi Bench.

Blue Emu Commercial with Johnny Bench and His Wife Lauren Baiocchi Bench. Video., March 16, 2014. YouTube.

Hamas Leader Khaled Mash’al: We Will Not Relinquish an Inch of Palestine, From the River to the Sea.

Hamas Leader Khaled Mash’al: We Will Not Relinquish an Inch of Palestine, From the River to the Sea. MEMRI TV. Video Clip No. 3671, December 7, 2012. YouTube.


Following are excerpts from an address delivered by Hamas Leader Khaled Mash’al, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on December 7, 2012.
Khaled Mash’al: First of all, Palestine – from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, from its north to its south – is our land, our right, and our homeland. There will be no relinquishing or forsaking even an inch or small part of it.
Second, Palestine was, continues to be, and will remain Arab and Islamic. It belongs to the Arab and the Islamic world. Palestine belongs to us and to nobody else. This is the Palestine which we know and in which we believe.
Third, since Palestine belongs to us, and is the land of Arabism and Islam, we must never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation of it. The occupation is illegitimate, and therefore, Israel is illegitimate, and will remain so throughout the passage of time. Palestine belongs to us, not to the Zionists.
The liberation of Palestine – all of Palestine – is a duty, a right, a goal, and a purpose. It is the responsibility of the Palestinian people, as well as of the Arab and Islamic nation.
Fifth, Jihad and armed resistance are the proper and true path to liberation and to the restoration of our rights, along with all other forms of struggle – through politics, through diplomacy, through the masses, and through legal channels. All these forms of struggle, however, are worthless without resistance.
Politics are born from the womb of resistance. The true statesman is born from the womb of the rifle and the missile.
Announcer: Say: “Allah Akbar.”
Song: Oh Abu Al-Walid, oh Mash’al, prepare the way, come on.
Our journey must be completed. Allah is with you.
Khaled Mash’al: May Allah bless you.
Oh Palestinian statesmen, oh Arab and Muslim statesmen, learn your lesson from Gaza. Anyone who wishes to take the path of diplomacy must take a missile along with him. He must rely upon the infrastructure of the resistance. Your value, oh statesman, is derived from the value of resistance.
I, along with my dear brother Abu Al-Abd Haniya, the entire Hamas leadership, both here and abroad, our comrades, the leaders of the resistance, in Gaza, in the West Bank, here and abroad – by Allah, we are indebted to the leadership of the Palestinian military wings. If not for the great commanders of the military wings, we would have no statesmen. This is thanks first to Allah, and then to the heroes of the resistance.
How wonderful was your shelling of Tel Aviv. May your hands be blessed. May your hands be blessed. We are proud of what you have done.
Jihad and resistance are the path. This is not mere rhetoric. Events have shown us that Jihad and resistance are the most advantageous and reliable option. This option is not a delusion or a mirage. By no means. The resistance is a palpable, visible, and envisioned thing. It marches on the ground, spreading light to its people, and unleashing fire upon its enemies. That is the resistance.
For us, resistance is the means, not the end. I say to the entire world, through the media: If the world finds a way other than through resistance and bloodshed to restore Palestine and Jerusalem to us, to implement the Right of Return, and to put an end to the loathsome Zionist occupation – we will welcome it. But we gave you a chance for 64 years, and you did not do a thing. That is why we opted for resistance. Don’t reproach us. If we had found another way – one that did not involve war and battle – we would have proceeded upon it, but history and the laws of Allah tell us that victory and liberation cannot be achieved without resistance, battle, and sacrifice.
Jerusalem is our soul, our history, our collective memory, our past, our present, and our future. It is our eternal capital, to which we hold fast and which we will liberate, inch by inch, neighborhood by neighborhood, stone by stone, every place sacred to Islam, and every place sacred to Christianity. Israel has no right to Jerusalem.
The Right of Return means the return of all the refugees, the displaced, and the exiled to the land of Palestine – to its cities and its villages, to the neighborhoods of Gaza, the West Bank, and within the 1948 borders. We own every inch of our land. Our fathers and our forefathers were born there. We lived there. It retains our memory and our history. The Right of Return is sacred to us, and it cannot be depreciated.
When my brothers and I entered the Gaza Strip yesterday, we began the fulfillment of the Right of Return, Allah willing.
Hamas has a clear-cut principle: no to resettlement of refugees and no to an alternative homeland. There is no substitute for Palestine.
The unity of Palestinian land refers to Gaza, the West Bank, and the land within the 1948 borders. That is the land of Palestine – it is all Palestine, every part of it is Palestine.
No part of it will be separated from the other parts. Anyone who believes that Gaza can be kept far from the West Bank is delusional. Gaza, the West Bank, and the land within the 1948 borders are all beloved parts of the great Palestinian homeland.
Isn’t that so, Abu Al-Abd [Haniya]?
Announcer: Say: “Allah Akbar.”
Crowds: Allah Akbar.
Announcer: Say: “Allah Akbar.”
Crowds: Allah Akbar.
Announcer: Say: “Allah Akbar.”
Crowds: Allah Akbar.
Khaled Mash’al: The West Bank is inseparable from Gaza, Gaza is inseparable from the West Bank, and they are both inseparable from Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheba . . . and Safed.
Man: Oh Mash’al, our beloved . . .
Crowds: Oh Mash’al, our beloved . . .
Man: Your army shelled Tel Aviv . . .
Crowds: Your army shelled Tel Aviv . . .
Man: Your army struck Tel Aviv . . .
Crowds: Your army struck Tel Aviv . . .
Man: Oh Qassam, do it again . . .
Crowds: Oh Qassam, do it again . . .
Man: But this time, strike Haifa . . .
Crowds: But this time, strike Haifa . . .
Man: But this time, strike Jaffa . . .
Khaled Mash’al: Allah willing . . .
Man: Say: “Allah Akbar.”
Crowds: Allah Akbar.
Khaled Mash’al: Hear me well, my comrades in the various factions. Liberation will precede statehood. A real state will be the fruit of liberation, not of negotiations.
There is no alternative to a free Palestinian state with real sovereignty on the entire land of Palestine.

Very Much Present at the Creation: John Judis’s Book on American Jews and the Establishment of Israel. By Paul Scham.

Very Much Present at the Creation: John Judis’s Book on American Jews and the Establishment of Israel. By Paul Scham. Tikkun, March 20, 2014.

The Original “No”: Why the Arabs Rejected Zionism, and Why It Matters. By Natasha Gill.

The Original “No”: Why the Arabs Rejected Zionism, and Why It Matters. By Natasha Gill. Middle East Policy Council, June 19, 2013. Abridged version at Haaretz, July 31, 2013.

Why the Palestinians Said “No!” By Paul L. Scham. Partners for Progressive Israel, June 19, 2013.


Everybody sees a difficulty in the question of relations between Arabs and Jews. But not everybody sees that there is no solution to this question. No solution! There is a gulf, and nothing can fill that gulf ... I do not know what Arab will agree that Palestine should belong to the Jews — even if the Jews learn Arabic . . . And we must recognize this situation. If we do not acknowledge this and try to come up with “remedies,” then we risk demoralization . . . We, as a nation, want this country to be ours; the Arabs, as a nation, want this country to be theirs. The decision has been referred to the Peace Conference.
— Ben Gurion, Speech to Vaad Zmani, June 1919
What is missing in the logic of the pro-Israel view of the Palestinian No is the disturbing prospect, articulated by Zionist luminaries such as Vladimir Jabotinsky and David Ben Gurion in the 1920s, that a nonviolent or satisfactory solution to the Arab-Jewish confrontation in Palestine might not have been possible.

This poignant and chillingly lucid appraisal was proposed by many Jews and Arabs in the early years of the conflict and has been acknowledged by many more since, but it is still largely absent from the current mainstream debates about the conflict or peacemaking. And yet accepting the Israel/Palestine conflict as an elemental clash grounded in overlapping and irreconcilable aspirations, rather than a chimera that could have been avoided had one party acceded to the wishes of the other, is necessary for understanding both the limitations of and prospects for peacemaking today. For if the Zionists perceived Jewish self-determination as a natural response to their predicament, the implementation of this mission in Palestine, a land where an Arab majority lived, was almost certain to provoke hostility from the native population.

Given the urgency of their situation, it is understandable that the Jews were not concerned with the response of the Palestinian Arabs to their project. After a tragically failed attempt to identify spiritually, emotionally or intellectually with the cultures and nations within which they resided, the Jews learned the hard way that the modern world was increasingly defining self-determination in exclusionist, not liberal, terms. The pogroms and persecution of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries did even more to shape the tenor and nature of the Zionist movement than the brutality of the Holocaust; it was that predicament which gave birth to what might be called “The Original Never Again” — the determination on the part of the Jews never again to be supplicants, dependent on the kindness of strangers, or feeble bystanders to their own persecution, waiting pitifully for the world to evolve beyond prejudice. Influenced by the character and tenor of nationalism as it evolved in Europe, where blood and soil were the hallmarks of legitimate belonging, the Zionists had concluded that they could only overcome their outsider status by settling in Palestine — a land where their “insider” status could be unearthed, and their physical and spiritual links with the past revealed.

But while Zionism was more multidimensional than the reductive formulas provided by today’s anti-Zionists, it is neither surprising nor strange that the Arabs in the early part of the twentieth century would reject the reasoning and rationale behind Jewish nationalism. They were engaged in their own pursuit of national self-determination, inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s proclamations, their own cultural, linguistic and religious revival, and the trends toward territorial independence taking hold in neighboring countries. Despite the fact that the Arab response is incessantly represented as aberrant, it is unlikely that any people anywhere would have said Yes to the prospect of becoming a minority in their own home, or to their land being offered to those they considered foreigners, even if they recognized that the latter had a historical presence and religious ties to the area, or that they faced mortal danger in their countries of residence. It is even more unlikely that any people would say Yes to the manner in which the policy of the Jewish national home was implemented — without their consent, enforced by foreign powers, and in contradiction to what they believe they deserved and were promised.

Finally, although there is controversy over the extent to which the leaders of the Palestinian national movement represented the views of the masses, or whether the “opposition” parties considered taking another course, even if a minority of Arabs was ready to accept some form of Jewish national rights in Palestine, this should not be reason to impugn the majority Arab feeling that the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine was unjust and unacceptable. Jews should resist the temptation to parade Arab “super-moderates” in triumph as vindication of their cause; the Arabs will not accept this any more than Jews accept Palestinians justifying their own positions by appealing to the views of a minority of Israeli or Jewish anti-Zionists.

Politically speaking it is a national movement . . . The Arab must not and cannot be a Zionist. He could never wish the Jews to become a majority. This is the true antagonism between us and the Arabs. We both want to be the majority.
— David Ben-Gurion, after the 1929 riots in Palestine
The appraisal of the early years of the conflict, advanced above, clashes fundamentally with the traditional pro-Israel view, which relies on the belief that the Arab opposition to Zionism was both immoral and unnecessary, and that the Jews had an absolute and incontestable right to create a Jewish state in Palestine: in other words, that Zionism was blameless in the creation of the Palestine problem and the Palestinians brought their nakba upon themselves.

To challenge this view is not to condemn the entire Zionist project as inherently sinful, but to recognize that it will always be seen as such from the Arab side, because from their perspective, Jewish Israel could only have come about at the expense of Arab Palestine. This common-sense view was the driving force behind Vladimir Jabotinsky’s rationale for the Iron Wall — a position grounded in the avowal that the Jews aimed to appropriate the land that the Arabs lived on, loved and believed was theirs. Jabotinsky maintained that it was only natural that the Arabs would resist Zionism, for “any native people — it is all the same whether they are civilized or savage — views their country as their national home, of which they will be always the complete masters.”

Today, those who would be Jabotinsky’s heirs appropriate the Iron Wall as implicit policy, while abjuring Jabotinsky’s own rationale for that policy: his belief that Palestine was not an empty desert but that there were native inhabitants there who were deeply attached to their land, and therefore it was both reasonable and inevitable that they would resist Zionism, and resist violently. In contrast, today’s revisionists rally support for an Iron Wall policy while burying Jabotinsky’s interpretation under a now familiar if still peculiar specter: a people that did not exist on a land they never had and whose loss they resisted for no particular reason.

Despite its notable incoherence, this kind of reasoning still drives the standard pro-Israeli view of the conflict. The result is that those who wish to show their support for Israel have no tools to formulate their own response to Palestinian grievances or demands, or to properly interpret the growing opposition to Israel on the international scene. Thus, they risk marching blindly down a path that only aggravates their own dilemma and puts Israel itself in further jeopardy.

There can be no settlement, no final settlement, until the Zionists realize that they can never hope to obtain in London or Washington what is denied them in Jerusalem.
— Albert Hourani, Testimony to Anglo-American Committee, 1946
The paradox of any potential peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians is that neither side is likely to be satisfied with the possibility of attaining the tangible dividends of peace, even in the unlikely event that these were attainable. Each side continues to demand ideological conversion from the other, despite the fact that neither can recognize (in the sense of validate or embrace) the other’s narrative without by definition repudiating its own. This is not only the case for the Palestinians, who are being asked to deny their history and experience for the sake of being validated as partners for peace. The Israelis too cannot and will not embrace the anti-Israel camp’s notion that their national movement was born in sin. And notwithstanding the power of the United States of America or President Obama’s recent pronouncements in Jerusalem, no third party can, or has the right to, issue a verdict on history. But while neither side should be asked to recognize the legitimacy of their adversary’s view of the conflict, they will have to find a way to accept that this view cannot simply be wished away, and that it will manifest itself in various ways at the negotiating table and in any peace deal.

Thus, although supporters of Israel need not embrace the Palestinian view of the causes of the conflict, they should recognize that the Arab’s rejection of Zionism was not irrational and cannot be reduced to anti-Semitism: and they need to move beyond the long-obsolete mantras about the origins of the conflict that prevent them from identifying genuine points of impasse or making the best of opportunities. This does not mean Israel is the sole responsible party — Israelis are justified in questioning whether the Palestinians are able or willing to fulfill their own side of a negotiated bargain, prepare their public for a compromised settlement or recognize that the Jewish narrative cannot be eradicated by an act of will. But the Jewish community should not hide its own rejectionism behind the Palestinians’ No, or behind rabid circular debates that all slam into the STOP sign of 1947.

For while many Palestinians have (in various agreements and public commitments) been saying Yes to Israel’s de facto existence since 1988, they will continue to say No to Zionism itself.  Condoning it would require Palestinians swallow whole the major tenets of the Jewish “narrative” and sign on the dotted line affirming that the creation of a Jewish state on land they considered as their own was a legitimate enterprise; that their own rejection of that enterprise was irrational or morally wrong; and that the Arab's 1400-year history in Palestine should be seen as a brief and inconsequential interregnum between two more important eras of Jewish sovereignty.

This will never happen. The sooner the pro-Israel camp accepts this and stops trying to change the unchangeable, the sooner they can determine what steps might be taken in the interests of their own peace and security. Schoolyard choruses — “they started it” and “they are worse than us” — cannot serve as an interpretive framework for a 130-year-old conflict, or form the basis of national policy. The Jewish community must breach the blockade that currently stands between moribund talking points and the actual origins of the conflict. An encounter with the Original No might release them from their dependence on the interpretations provided by the salesmen of the Jewish world, who for decades have been pitching an obsolete product to hapless customers in search of certainty — the very opposite of what is required in order to “prepare the public for peace.” And it might provide supporters of Israel with the tools they need to construct their own interpretation of what took place In The Beginning, and formulate their own vision of what, if anything, can be done to address the fallout today.

Actually, Gill is wrong. Resolving the conflict will come down to changing the Palestinian narrative, a point Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe makes. Indeed the mark of decisive victory in a war is when the losing side is compelled to repudiate its narrative and adopt the narrative of the victors, however grudgingly. This was the case for the South after 1865, and for Germany and Japan after 1945. Unless the Palestinians change their narrative to accept that Jews have legitimate historical ties to the Land of Israel, and a right to sovereignty and self-determination rather than dhimmitude, then any treaty would be a hudna at best and not be worth the paper it is written on.