Thursday, March 23, 2006

Eldar Praises Mearsheimer and Walt Study

This was from a piece by Akiva Eldar:

Two professors, one from Harvard, the other from the University of Chicago, recently released a study that reflects growing repugnance with Israel. The study argues that Israel is a burden on the United States and that the pro-Israel policy which the Jewish lobby and Israel's friends among the Christian right have forced upon the administration blatantly contradicts the strategic interests of the superpower, as well as those of Israel.

America's partners in the Quartet - the European Union, the UN and Russia - are also showing signs of fatigue. If Israel prefers to deal with Hamas by itself, why should the Europeans maintain supervisors at the Rafah border crossing? After Israeli soldiers have forced Palestinian men to strip at the Jericho jail, it is a shame to risk the lives of American and British jailers. Members of the special multinational force have also had it with being the punching bag of the Hebron settlers, on the one hand, and of Palestinian punks, on the other.

If Israel wants to unilaterally disengage from territories in the West Bank, it must take into account that this is liable to cause disengagement from the international community, as well. The day is not far off when the world will tell us: If you want to turn the Gaza Strip into a state of the Muslim Brotherhood - have a nice time. If you want to starve Palestinian children - then you pay the price for the humanitarian disaster. You've decided to disengage unilaterally from the West Bank? Don't come to us when Al-Qaida opens a branch in Ramallah. To put it concisely: "We are fed up with you."

I think I probably support some of the same ends as Eldar, but I am disgusted that he feels compelled to endorse this study without any regard for the larger context or for the concerns of American and world Jewry. Notice also how he highlights their institutional affiliations.

The bit about the Jericho jail is pure demagogery.

Finally, I am left wondering what exactly the international community has done to inspire Israel's confidence - when was the last time they did anything to make Israeli citizens safer? But I digress. The main point here is the uncritical acceptance of that study. It goes hand-in-hand with some on the Israeli left who think that reports of antisemitism in Europe are exaggerated. It's just annoying when people who are so concerned with advancing the cause of universal justice feel compelled to dissociate themselves from the narrower, "parochial" cause of fighting antisemitism and helping other Jews out. I guess they're just following in the footsteps of great humanitarians like Rosa Luxemburg: "Why do you come with your particular Jewish sorrows? ... I have no separate corner in my heart for the ghetto: I feel at home in the entire world wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears," (1916).

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