Israel’s New Administration

March 29, 2009 § 2 Comments

Today marks Binyamin Netanyahu’s first day in office in Israel. As expected, many have been speculating and providing commentary on how they think the new Israeli administration will fair, especially in relation to its most important foreign (and domestic) affair: its on-going conflict with Palestine. John Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt have written extensively on the subject (especially about the Israel lobby in America) and also chimed in on the topic recently. In an essay published in Foreign Policy Magazine (one of my favorite publications since my high school days), Mearsheimer wrote about what he thought the new administration would do in its tenure.

I also recently had the chance to attend a talk with Norman Finkelstein and Ali Abuminah on campus, and they spoke about the same topic, but more in reference to the historical context. Below are some highlights from both the Mearsheimer essay and the Finkelstein/Abuminah talk –

1. Finkelstein: Israel has never conducted a war of necessity. All armed conflict has been a choice on Israel’s part.

2. Finkelstein/Abuminah: Israel has no reason to support a two-state solution because it benefits too greatly from its hegemonic rule in the area.

3. Mearsheimer: Netanyahu is expected to continue Israel’s growth in the West Bank and establishment of a Greater Israel. He also is only expected to pay scarce lip-service to a two-state solution and will continue to conceptualize Palestinians as terrorists. (In fact, he has yet to refer to Palestine as a state).

Overall, I found Finkelstein and Abuminah to be less than academic. Their talks were highly one-sided and almost refused to take a critical look at the actions of such organizations as Hizbollah (or Hezbollah). Abuminah, although not an academic, is a trained journalist, and was not speaking in a journalist’s capacity, did not strive for any kind of a dichotomous analysis.

Mearsheimer and Walt, although I have disagreed with them in the past in terms of the Israel lobby’s influence on American law-makers, did create an impressive question to leave readers with: What exactly is the benefit for Jews from Israel’s expansionist policies? Although some would respond by asking why Israel needs to justify its political actions, I would ask in return, why the justification comes as such a burden when in fact millions of people’s lives are in question.

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§ 2 Responses to Israel’s New Administration

  • So what is your argument? I can’t tell since you don’t completely agree with Finkelstein and Abunimah but seem to sort of lean in that direction.

    What is the benefit for Jews from Israel’s expansionist policies? I don’t know, self-satisfaction? Vindication? The happiness that would result from returning to biblical Israel borders and having a completely Jewish state? I really liked Mearsheim & Walt’s article, but the reality of the situation as they describe it is frustrating and saddening – I have to agree with them that Israel is heading more towards an apartheid state reminiscent of South Africa (actually, I’d argue Israel already is an apartheid state) than towards a peaceful two-state solution.

    • Personally, I think Israel is closer to what Finkelstein and Abuminah described than anything else, although (like I mentioned) I think their views are often heavily leaning towards one direction (Finkelstein has an article on his website called “In Defense of Hezbollah,” which I think goes a bit too far).

      Your comparison of Israel and South-African totally reminded me of the guy at Jerusalem restaurant down the street. Although I’d say there are some differences between the ANC and Palestine, I can also see some merits in the analogy between Israel and South-Africa.

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