After a two week break of talking about other things, we’re back to Israel-Palestine. I’ve been wondering why I, like so many others, care so much about this issue, given that there are fewer people in Israel and the Palestinian Territories than there are in Florida, and the conflict is not going to lead to nuclear war like say the dispute over Taiwan might. Clearly, the war symbolizes something very important. For many Americans, there is the religious significance of the region, while for more secular Westerners it reflects their own grievances at home: barbarism versus civilization on the right, and oppressor versus oppressed on the left. My view is that there’s no way that this conflict will ever not be significant to Americans, and given that it’s going to always be intertwined with our domestic politics we are going to need to talk about it.
Philippe has a new piece out on the Zionist dilemma, which can be read as in part a response to my own article on how Israel should crush Palestinian hopes. He argues that Zionism came too late, and that Israel cannot solve the conflict by force alone, which Inez and I disagree with. My view is that the status of the Palestinians is an extremely unnatural situation, rooted in unique pathologies of Arab culture combined with a misplaced sense of charity on the part of the international community.
We also talk about broader questions of morals and practicality. One of my critiques of Philippe’s piece is that its main argument is to a large extent circular: Israel can’t do with it takes to defeat the Palestinians, and it can’t because it and the rest of the world feel like it shouldn’t. We go into different kinds of scenarios and what are actually plausible ways to solve the conflict, debating whose plan is more unlikely.
I like that Philippe is honest and admits that what he wants Israel to do may not work. There are also deeper moral assumptions here, which we don’t get into, but have always been lurking in the background of these conversations when not at the forefront. See the previous discussions between me, Philippe, and Inez here and here.