Walter Russell Mead proposes a new path to Israeli-Palestinian peace

Reports in the Guardian and other British media outlets on the US sponsored economic conference scheduled to take place next month in Bahrain, as the first step of its peace plan, have focused on negative reaction to  by Palestinian leaders.  The “Peace and Prosperity Workshop”, which aims to bring governments, civil society and business leaders together to “facilitate…an…achievable…vision for a prosperous future”, has been dismissed by senior Palestinian officials because it doesn’t initially deal with final status issues.

The Guardian cited comments by Mahmoud Abbas, Saeb Erekat and PA prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh:

A spokesman for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Monday cast doubt over the Bahrain conference. “Any plan without a political horizon will not lead to peace,” Nabil Abu Rdeneh said.

Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian diplomat and negotiator, said: “All efforts to make the oppressor and the oppressed coexist are doomed to fail … This is not about improving living conditions under occupation but about reaching Palestine’s full potential by ending the Israeli occupation.”

The Palestinian prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said…“We do not submit to blackmail and we don’t trade our political rights for money.”

Yet, save one article in The Economist, the rationale behind the immediate Palestinian rejection of the economic conference has gone unchallenged by journalists.  

However, Walter Russell Mead, writing in the Wall Street Journal, makes a persuasive argument that co-existence, normalisation efforts and initiatives to promote PA economic growth are in fact pre-prerequisites to any long term final status agreement that would address Palestinian political aspirations:

“It is the Palestinian myth of eternal resistance, and the violence and terrorism the myth legitimates, that perpetuates Israel’s occupation. If the Palestinians were ready to end the resistance and instead promote reconciliation and close economic and political links with the Jewish state, there is no limit to the prosperity that the Palestinians could achieve. There are also concessions to Palestinian territorial and political aspirations that no Israeli leader will make under threat, but that many would accept in conditions of true peace.

Palestinians today don’t need a Nelson Mandela who can lead the struggle for equal political rights in one state. They need a Konrad Adenauer: a leader who can accept military defeat and painful territorial losses while building a prosperous future through reconciliation with the victors. As Adenauer’s postwar West Germany showed, it is possible to recover from crushing defeats, but defeat must be accepted before it can be overcome. A new generation, instead of following its elders down the rabbit hole of eternally futile resistance, could instead work toward competent governance, and ultimately reconciliation and renewal.

Mead may be guilty of being overly optimistic that such a shift could occur absent a true paradigm shift within Palestinian society – namely, a rejection of the zero-sum, honour-shame, moral calculus (and victim-centered identity) that drives so much of their decision making.  Just look at the PA’s decision to reject all tax revenues from Israel to protest Jerusalem’s deduction of money the Palestinians pay to terrorists – despite the injurious economic impact of such a stance – to understand how far Palestinians are from implementing a prosperity and cooperation-based strategy.

Yet, Mead points to younger Palestinians he met on a recent visit to the region – their millennials – who, he claims, increasingly reject the failed politics of the older generation, in part because they acknowledge that Israel “is better-governed than the West Bank under the PA—with better administration, less corruption and more responsiveness to public opinion” – and desire a dramatic shift from the stale policies…that have led the Palestinian people to its current plight”.

Like the Arab states threatened by Iran, Mead concludes, “some Palestinians may be slowly beginning to realise that everything that makes Israel a formidable foe can also make it a valuable friend”.

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18 replies »

  1. The fact that they close the doors on any initiative to better their lives shows their true intention, Israel’s destruction. When Oslo was signed the so-called-Palestinians saw that their violence actions were doomed. If they except any deal that would better people’s lives they knew they might not be able to re-kindle the violence in their people, so the intifada startled.

    Any time they see any chance to better their people lives they dismiss it and go for violence “solution”.

    The so-called-refugee-camps would have been gone long ago and in their place would have been towering buildings and thriving communities. Funny how the world thriving and community just does not fit well with Arabs….it really doesn’t.

    The level of prosperity would be enormous. With help from Israeli companies and monitory help from nations the sky is the limit.

    However, they still would have to face their own limitations. And if the sky is the limit, their limitations are somewhere ankle high.

  2. The proverbial elephant in the room is the inescapable power of the “honor shame” dynamic in Arab societies. They lost militarily to Jews who, the Arabs are taught are the enemies of Islam and whose role in the divine plan are to be a weak and despised minority living at Arab sufferance until their complete annihilation in Muslim End Times.
    Until the Palestinian Arabs can regain their honor, there will be no peace. Comparing the situation with Egypt is illustrative of the problem. Egypt regained its honor based on the lie of its “victory” in the Yom Kippur War. Ignored was the IDF pushing into Egypt proper and even though the Egyptian Third Army was encircled and faced with annihilation but for the ceasefire. Yet that myth allowed Sadat to sign the peace treaty with Israel – but even then Israel returned every square inch (minus Gaza) of Egyptian-claimed land. And even then, Sadat was assassinated.
    In contrast, there is no real way Palestinian Arabs can claim any similar “victory” because that means destroying Israel. Short of that, would be the “victory” of being sovereign on all lands held by Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967. But that will never happen because of Jerusalem and the need for defensible borders.
    Perhaps the Arabs should take a leaf from their allies Neturei Karta: the hoped for destruction of Israel can only come in Muslim End Times and only Allah knows when that will happen. Nothing Muslims do can speed the divine timetable. So, in the interim, Palestinian Arabs should focus their talents on growing their societies peacefully and allow them as a people to join the 21st century. Perhaps they will come to see the world as something other than a “zero sum” game. That’s an awful lot to ask, and there’s zero evidence that anyone is trying.

  3. Adenauer led a post-Nazi administration, committed to making some reparation for Nazi excesses. West Germany was an independent democratic state. To suggest that Palestinian leaders, who have no prospect of independence under Israeli occupation, and who have been the victims of Israeli expansionism, rather than engaging in territorial conquest, as did Nazi Germany, should somehow follow Adenauer rather than Mandela is laughable. Kushner’s notion of buying out Palestinian ambitions for independence is equally daft.

    • They were offered a state 3 times in the 2000s alone, you fucking dumbshit.

      I get it. The only way to keep claiming support for the oppressed is to continuously ignore how the so-called oppressed don’t really want their own autonomy. They just want to be rid of Israel.

      The sad fact a so-called advocate such as yourself fails to recognize the Palestinians own weaknesses in the face of so-called Israeli aggression means that they will never get a state because their best friends in the whole wide world are fucking morons.

      Just like you, Sencar. A gaping dumbass of sheer utter idiocy. Go buy a mirror, Kiddo.

    • …..actually neither West Germany, nor East Germany were independent. 🇩🇪 West Germany was under Allied control The US Zone, the GB zone & the French Zone. The Allies had sweeping powers, which they made little use of, but they were there. All major decisions in West Germany were okayed by the USA 🇺🇸 . And the Allies had the right to monitor all ( postal ) communication, fun fact. West Germany also had no Army until 1955 etc etc. And West Berlin was never politically under the control of Bonn, but was controlled by the Allies 🇬🇧🇫🇷🇺🇸 and the Soviets. That is why West Germans who wanted to skip conscription moved to West Berlin for example. No West German airline was allowed to serve West Berlin, only the west Allies flew 🛫 in and out of 🛬 West Berlin. No West German Newspaper was allowed to publish without permission of the Ally in charge of the sector or zone. No weapons were allowed to be produced in West Germany. I could go on, but you get the drift.

      • Adenauer became Chancellor of West Germany in 1949. The Petersburg agreement followed soon after giving the new state independence in most respects, with the principle exception of military affairs. There was always the assumption that full independence would follow, as it did in 1955. There is no such assumption in the case of Palestine, which is still in the position of fighting for independence against a land-hungry Israel. There is no comparison between the two situations.

        • Palestine will be a Canton of Jordan. End of. You went with the German comparison ( showing your ignorance ) . Not me. What the Palis do with “independence” we see in Gaza, or the second intifada. So not all that constructive.

  4. Sencar, your laugh is one an insane person so fixated on conquest and retribution for imagined iniquities that he cannot extract himself from the quagmire he is in. Yet this is not even your fight.

    The shame/honor narrative is a poisoned apple. Those like you who egg the Palestinian on in this fruitless pursuit are just as guilty as Palestinian leaders who refuse to acknowledge their history of criminal actions, let alone let go and conclude a reasonable peace.

  5. The Palestinian Arabs were deliberately made stateless by the Arab League, decades ago. They are viewed as lepers right across the Arab world, and their leaders, who have opined here, have shown just how out of touch they are with their own people. They are fed up with the corruption, nepotism and stealing that they experience and want to live normal lives, like their neighbours in Israel. The gangsters of Hamas and Fatah have held them to ransom for too long. An economic initiative that will help to improve their lives is what has been needed for years. This could be a great breakthrough, if the leaders don’t get to reject even this idea.

    • Yes, the PA is corrupt, like many parties and states including Netanyahu’s Israel. Likud is seeking to render Netanyahu immune from prosecution, just like the Republicans are doing for Trump. Neither situation justifies denial of independence; stuffing petro-dollars into Palestinian pockets is no substitute.

  6. The Palestinian elite have climbed so far up a tree of Jewhate they can no longer climb down. Nothing encapsulates Arab antisemitism better than sticking to killing Jews no matter what.
    There will be peace, when the Arabs put infrastructure and positivity before killing a Jew.

  7. Allied Occupation of Germany, 1945-52

    After Germany’s defeat in the Second World War, the four main allies in Europe – the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and France – took part in a joint occupation of the German state. With the original understanding that the country would eventually be reunified, the Allied Powers agreed to share the responsibility of administering Germany and its capital, Berlin, and each took responsibility for a certain portion of the defeated nation. This arrangement ultimately evolved into the division of Germany into a Western and an Eastern sector, thereby contributing to the Cold War division of Europe.

    During the Second World War, one of the major topics under discussion at conferences of the Allied leadership was how to deal with Germany after the war. Having experienced great losses as a result of German invasions in the First and Second World Wars, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin preferred that a defeated Germany be dismembered and divided so that it could not rise to its former strength to threaten European peace and security again. At the Tehran Conference between U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1943, the two countries agreed that after the war Germany would be divided and occupied jointly. At the final wartime conference between these two men at Yalta in 1945, the two powers agreed to shift the eastern border of Germany to the West, enlarging western Poland as compensation for the eastern sections of that country annexed by the Soviet Union. They also determined that the occupation would divide Germany into sections, with each Allied power taking responsibility for one section, although they would be governed as a single economic unit in anticipation of their eventual reunification. Finally, they also concluded that they would demand reparations from Germany, although they did not yet agree on exactly how much they would request. A meeting later in 1945 between Stalin and new U.S. President Harry Truman held at Potsdam confirmed and ratified these arrangements.

    After the victory over the Axis powers, however, the wartime cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union soon faded. In reality, mutual distrust ruled the relationship between the two countries, and nowhere was this more evident than in the difficulties over the occupation of Germany. The Allies agreed to a joint occupation, with each country taking charge of a larger zone and a sector of the nation’s capital, Berlin. Upon British insistence, France joined Great Britain and the United States in the occupation of West Germany and West Berlin, while the Soviet Union managed the affairs of East Germany and East Berlin.

    The divided Germany was weak and dependent on the allies for goods and the differing approaches of the occupying powers served to establish what would become a stark contrast between the two Germanys. The Soviet Union stripped its sector of manufacturing equipment in an effort to garner partial payment for wartime remittances, further stifling the reemergence of a strong German economy. In the western sector, military leaders from the United States soon grew concerned about the economic costs of a Germany completely dependent on the United States, and the United States began investing in German industries. In 1946, the United States and Great Britain merged their occupation zones, and in 1947 the U.S. Government began a massive aid program under the Marshall Plan, which pumped dollars and goods into Europe to aid in recovery. The Soviet Union prevented the countries along the Soviet border in Eastern Europe, many of which had experienced the rise of communist leadership in the wake of the war, from taking part in the arrangement. Instead it offered the Soviet Union offered its own postwar program for economic aid.

    By 1948, the Western Allies began the project of pulling their occupation zones together for the sake of rebuilding – a project that the Soviet Union, still worried about a Germany threat to its security, wished to prevent. Although the Western Allies made frequent suggestions for the terms under which the country might be reunified, usually involving the introduction of free and democratic elections and German autonomy for conducting its own foreign policy. These proposals were never made in terms that the Soviet Union would consider accepting, so the continued division of the country was in many ways inevitable. In June 1948, the Soviet Union took action against the West’s policies by blocking all road access between West Germany and West Berlin, effectively cutting off the city’s occupation zones from the British, French, and American forces responsible for maintaining them. The administrators of the western zones had no agreement with the Soviet Union that required the latter to allow ground access to the city through Eastern Germany, but they did have an agreement on air access. As a result, the United States began an airlift of supplies to the stranded citizens of West Berlin. Over the course of the next eleven months of the blockade, the Americans, assisted by the British and the French, supplied West Berlin entirely by air, landing planes filled with food, clothing, and coal for heat nearly every minute. Because it was a mild winter, they were able to keep ahead of the city’s requirements, and the extraordinary accomplishments of the Berlin Airlift became an early propaganda success for the West in the emerging Cold War. After nearly a year, the Soviet Union lifted the blockade, making it once again possible to supply West Berlin overland. The blockade and airlift contributed to cementing the division of Germany and Europe into East and West.

    The Soviet Union was not alone in worrying over the threat to European security that could come of a revitalized Germany. Countries to the west, including France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg, were also wary and preferred a neutral and demilitarized Germany. To address these concerns, the British proposed a collective security arrangement that would include these nations, plus Britain, West Germany and the United States. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formally established in 1949.

    In 1949, the occupying powers in both East and West Germany replaced their military governors with civilian leaders, and the occupations ended officially in the mid-1950s. Even so, both sides retained a strong interest in Germany, and the country and its capital remained divided throughout the Cold War. Reunification finally took place in October of 1990.



    Allied occupation and the formation of the two Germanys, 1945–49

    For purposes of occupation, the Americans, British, French, and Soviets divided Germany into four zones. The American, British, and French zones together made up the western two-thirds of Germany, while the Soviet zone comprised the eastern third. Berlin, the former capital, which was surrounded by the Soviet zone, was placed under joint four-power authority but was partitioned into four sectors for administrative purposes. An Allied Control Council was to exercise overall joint authority over the country.

    These arrangements did not incorporate all of prewar Germany. The Soviets unilaterally severed the German territories east of the Oder and Neisse rivers and placed these under the direct administrative authority of the Soviet Union and Poland, with the larger share going to the Poles as compensation for territory they lost to the Soviet Union. The former provinces of East Prussia, most of Pomerania, and Silesia were thus stripped from Germany. Since virtually the entire German population of some 9.5 million in these and adjacent regions was expelled westward, this amounted to a de facto annexation of one-fourth of Germany’s territory as of 1937, the year before the beginning of German expansion under Hitler. The Western Allies acquiesced in these actions by the Soviets, taking consolation in the expectation that these annexations were merely temporary expedients that the final peace terms would soon supersede.

    As a result of irreconcilable differences among the Allied powers, however, no peace conference was ever held. The issue of German reparations proved particularly divisive. The Soviet Union, whose population and territory had suffered terribly at the hands of the Germans, demanded large-scale material compensation. The Western Allies initially agreed to extract reparations but soon came to resent the Soviets’ seizures of entire German factories as well as current production. Under the terms of inter-Allied agreements, the Soviet zone of occupation, which encompassed much of German agriculture and was less densely populated than those of the other Allies, was to supply foodstuffs to the rest of Germany in return for a share of reparations from the Western occupation zones. But when the Soviets failed to deliver the requisite food, the Western Allies found themselves forced to feed the German population in their zones at the expense of their own taxpayers. The Americans and British therefore came to favour a revival of German industry so as to enable the Germans to feed themselves, a step the Soviets opposed. When the Western powers refused in 1946 to permit the Soviets to claim further reparations from their zones, cooperation among the wartime allies deteriorated sharply. As day-by-day cooperation became more difficult, the management of the occupation zones gradually moved in different directions. Even before a formal break between East and West, opposing social, political, and economic systems had begun to emerge.

    Despite their differences, the Allies agreed that all traces of Nazism had to be removed from Germany. To this end, the Allies tried at Nürnberg 22 Nazi leaders; all but three were convicted, and 12 were sentenced to death (see Nürnberg trials). The Soviets summarily removed former Nazis from office in their zone of occupation; eventually, antifascism became a central element of East Germany’s ideological arsenal. But, since the East German regime denied any connection to what happened in Germany during the Nazi era, there was little incentive to examine Nazism’s role in German history. The relationship of Germans to the Nazi past was more complex in West Germany. On the one hand, many former Nazis survived and gradually returned to positions of influence in business, education, and the professions, but West German intellectuals were also critically engaged with the burdens of the past, which became a central theme in the novels of Heinrich Böll, Günter Grass, and many others.

    On into the 21st century, the Holocaust casts a dark shadow across German politics and culture. Historians have debated the place of anti-Semitism in German history: How much did the German people know about the murder of the Jews? How many approved of the “final solution” carried out by the Nazi government? Was the Holocaust the result of a uniquely powerful and deeply rooted German hatred of Jews, as some historians have argued (e.g., Daniel Goldhagen in Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust [1996])? Or, did the Holocaust arise within the violent context of war, leading ordinary men to commit crimes that would otherwise have been unthinkable?

    Beginning in the summer of 1945, the occupation authorities permitted the formation of German political parties in preparation for elections for new local and regional representative assemblies. Two of the major leftist parties of the Weimar era quickly revived: the moderate Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands; SPD) and the German Communist Party (Kommunistiche Partei Deutschlands; KPD), which was loyal to the Soviet Union. These were soon joined by a new creation, the Christian Democratic Union (Christlich-Demokratische Union; CDU), with its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (Christlich-Soziale Union; CSU). The leaders of this Christian Democratic coalition had for the most part been active in the moderate parties of the Weimar Republic, especially the Catholic Centre Party. They sought to win popular support on the basis of a nondenominational commitment to Christian ethics and democratic institutions. Germans who favoured a secular state and laissez-faire economic policies formed a new Free Democratic Party (Freie Demokratische Partei; FDP) in the Western zones and a Liberal Democratic Party in the Soviet zone. Numerous smaller parties were also launched in the Western zones.

    Under pressure from the occupation authorities, in April 1946 the Social Democratic Party leaders in the Soviet zone agreed to merge with the Communists, a step denounced by the Social Democrats in the Western zones. The resulting Socialist Unity Party (SED) swept to victory with the ill-concealed aid of the Soviets in the first elections for local and regional assemblies in the Soviet zone. However, when in October 1946 elections were held under fairer conditions in Berlin, which was under four-power occupation, the SED tallied fewer than half as many votes as the Social Democratic Party, which had managed to preserve its independence in the old capital. Thereafter the SED, which increasingly fell under communist domination as Social Democrats were systematically purged from its leadership ranks, avoided free, competitive elections by forcing all other parties to join a permanent coalition under its leadership.

    The occupying powers soon approved the formation of regional governmental units called Länder (singular Land), or states. By 1947 the Länder in the Western zones had freely elected parliamentary assemblies. Institutional developments followed a superficially similar pattern in the Soviet zone, but there the political process remained less than free because of the dominance of the Soviet-backed SED.

    When it had become apparent by 1947 that the Soviet Union would not permit free, multiparty elections throughout the whole of Germany, the Americans and British amalgamated the German administrative organs in their occupation zones in order to foster economic recovery. The resulting unit, called Bizonia, operated through a set of German institutions located in the city of Frankfurt am Main. Its federative structure would later serve as the model for the West German state.

    In the politics of Bizonia, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats quickly established themselves as the major political parties. The Social Democrats held to their long-standing commitment to nationalization of basic industries and extensive government control over other aspects of the economy. The Christian Democrats, after initially inclining to a vaguely conceived “Christian socialism,” swung to espousal of a basically free-enterprise orientation. In March 1948 they joined with the laissez-faire Free Democrats to install as architect of Bizonia’s economy Ludwig Erhard, a previously obscure economist who advocated a “social market economy,” essentially a free-market economy with government regulation to prevent the formation of monopolies or cartels and a welfare state to safeguard social needs.

    When repeated meetings with the Soviets failed to produce four-power cooperation, the Western occupying powers decided in the spring of 1948 to move on their own. They were particularly concerned about the deteriorating economic conditions throughout occupied Germany, which burdened their own countries and awakened fears of renewed political extremism among the Germans. The Western powers therefore decided to extend to their occupation zones American economic aid, which had been instituted elsewhere in western Europe a year earlier under the Marshall Plan. To enhance the effectiveness of that aid, the Americans, British, and French effected a currency reform in their zones that replaced Germany’s badly inflated currency (the Reichsmark) with a new, hard deutsche mark, or DM. Western Germany’s economy responded quickly, as goods previously unavailable for nearly worthless money came onto the market.

    The Soviets responded angrily to the currency reform, which was undertaken without their approval. When the new deutsche mark was introduced into Berlin, the Soviets protested vigorously and boycotted the Allied Control Council. Then in June 1948 they blockaded land routes from the Western zones to the Western sectors of the old capital, which were surrounded by territory occupied by the Soviet Red Army and lay about 100 miles (160 km) from the nearest Western-occupied area. By sealing off the railways, highways, and canals used to deliver food and fuel, as well as the raw materials needed for the factories of Berlin’s Western sectors, with a population of more than two million people, the Soviets sought to drive out their erstwhile allies and to force the Western sectors to merge economically and politically with the Soviet zone that surrounded them. They were thwarted, however, when the Western powers mounted an around-the-clock airlift that supplied the West Berliners with food and fuel throughout the winter of 1948–49. In May 1949 the Soviets relented and lifted the blockade.