A guest post by AKUS
As you know, Hebrew is written from right to left, not left to right. But the mere fact that the letters are arranged in the opposite direction should not imply that the logic is.
Apparently, however, when writing to the Guardian, it helps to transcribe the letters from left to right, but have the logic go backwards.
In a recent letter to the Guardian, arguing for a two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution against the one-state solution proposed in an article by Rachel Shabi declaring the “Two-State Solution Dead”, Dr. John Jennings wrote (my emphasis added):
“The opening sentence in Rachel Shabi’s article (The death of the two-state solution gives fresh hope, 24 October) underlines its central weakness. We are told: “We could argue who killed it but what’s the point.” But exaggeration aside, this is precisely what we should do, since it immediately highlights the principal cause: A COMPLETE ABSENCE of a sustainable high-powered PALESTINIAN resistance movement on the ground for over TWO DECADES and counting.
The literature on resistance in asymmetric conflicts over the last 100 years shows that, for the weaker protagonist, up to 50% of such conflicts are successful, not so much in the classical Castro sense, but more with respect to a meaningful and substantive reconfiguration of the power between the parties. Then and only then can negotiations become “realistic”, as the stronger party, succumbing to the cost factor, inevitably becomes attuned to the reality of a robust protagonist.
A classical paradigm is the Vietnam war, but PALESTINIAN RESISTANCE, especially in the late 1980s, is even more pertinent, since it effectively drove RABIN to the negotiating table, AS HE HIMSELF ADMITTED. The great pity was that Arafat threw away all the advantages of this initial success by disbanding the very resistance that prompted the Palestinian breakthrough in the first place.
In my view, a comprehensive, robust, nonviolent core resistance on the ground in Palestine, coupled with an international campaign akin to the boycott movement, in conjunction with an equally robust negotiating strategy will lead to an independent Palestinian state.”
Now, how about this version?
“We could argue who killed it but what’s the point.” But exaggeration aside, this is precisely what we should do, since it immediately highlights the principal cause: THE EMERGENCE OF A high-powered JEWISH/ZIONIST/ISRAELI resistance movement on the ground for over SIX DECADES and counting that led to an Independent Israeli state that could not be coerced into accepting an Arab fiat creating a Palestinian state under conditions unacceptable to Israel.
The literature on resistance in asymmetric conflicts over the last 100 years shows that, THE VASTLY OUTNUMBERED JEWISH STATE, was the best example of how to create a meaningful and substantive reconfiguration of the power between the parties.
A classical paradigm is NOT the Vietnam war, waged by the Vietnamese against foreign powers. ISRAELI FORTITUDE, especially in the late 1980s, is even more pertinent, since it effectively drove EGYPT AND JORDAN to the negotiating table, as THEY THEMSELVES admitted.
Any impartial reading of the last 64 years, since the State of Israel was founded, and also the 30 -40 years before that, must show that Israelis pulled off a textbook example of using self-reliance, economic development, willingness to sacrifice and flexibility in negotiations to achieve goals the Palestinians have never been able to achieve. If one seeks a classic example of “asymmetric resistance” in the face of a vastly superior enemy, it is Israel’s ability to resist conquest by its Arab enemies.
Jennings’ call for the Palestinians to emulate the Vietnamese in order to create a Palestinian state is ludicrous and a complete misreading of the two conflicts. There is not the slightest resemblance to the Vietnam situation. In Vietnam, an existing nation beat off the armies of foreign powers led by the USA that came from thousands of miles away for ideological reasons (anti-Communism) to support a corrupt regime that had taken over half the country. Obviously, Israel in this scenario is not in any sense a remote country under no threat from its opponent like the USA and its allies in Vietnam, and certainly is not trying to support the corrupt and divided Palestinian regime. Moreover, Israel is not going to go away when the going gets tough.
Rather than having a “robust negotiating strategy” the Palestinians have either walked away from negotiations or refused to negotiate with a stronger power, Israel. When Jennings proposes “a comprehensive, robust, nonviolent core resistance on the ground” he is dreaming. The only person to seriously attempt to implement this has been Salam Fayyad. He is regarded almost if not in fact as a traitor to “the cause”, which is really the destruction of Israel, not the creation of Palestinian State on the West Bank (and possibly in Gaza). The concept of “resistance”, in the Palestinian context, means the use of terror tactics against Israeli civilians, not non-violence.
Furthermore, Jennings’ proposal for a sort of “asymmetric” jiu-jitsu, i.e. an “international campaign akin to the boycott movement,” has been tried and like the BDS cult, has failed. The Palestinians can go to the UN as often as they like, but it is not the UN they must negotiate with, and the UN will not force Israel to withdraw from the West Bank in its entirety which is the only thing that might satisfy the Palestinians.
The Palestinians are not the Vietnamese or Cubans. They have not been a “robust opponent” able to “drive” Israel to the negotiating table. On the contrary, Israel has begged the obdurate Palestinians to negotiate – which means accepting some compromises for both sides – and they have refused. One could argue, I suppose, that Israel has not been able to “drive” the Palestinians to the negotiating table – is this a measure of Palestinian power and success? It certainly does not seem to be.
The problem the Palestinians have is not how to “drive” Israel to the negotiating table. The most “unrealistic” aspect of the Palestinians’ aspirations for a Palestinian state (other than their desire to take over Israel) is that they have not learned how to say “yes” when offered 95% of the West Bank. But perhaps the problem is that what lies behind the “one-state” concept is that it is not even 100% of the West Bank that would satisfy them – it is 100% of Israel that they dream of taking.
Israel is not America, the Palestinians are not a good example of a resistance or national liberation movement but Israel is, and they have no need of a “robust resistance”. If it is an “independent state” they want, as Jennings seems to believe, they can have 95% of what they want tomorrow if they can only bring themselves to take it.
What is becoming increasing apparent, hence the futile calls for the impossible “one-state solution”, is that the Palestinians are incapable of creating the conditions under which they will achieve a Palestinian state on the West Bank. The conclusion seems to be that this is not what they want even if Jennings and others think it is what they should want.
On the other hand, despite Shabi, since the “one state solution” requires Israelis to agree to it, they are unlikely to get that either. If one accepts that their leaders understand that, and are unwilling to negotiate with Israel, one can only assume that they do not, in fact, want an independent state. The true “one-state” for the West Bankers is federation with Jordan – a logical idea which is becoming more openly discussed by West Bank intellectuals and Jordanian leaders. The West Bank leadership should say so, and open negotiations with Jordan, with Israel entering the final status negotiations under the terms of the existing peace agreement with Jordan once those two parties have formulated their proposals.
As long as you can write the logic backwards, reinvent history, draw false analogies and make improbable claims about how to create a Palestinian state other than simply saying “yes” it appears that, like Dr. Jennings, you too can have a letter published in the Guardian.