Friday, July 15, 2011

Bad Op-Ed, Good Riddance

I suppose there’s some comfort to be derived from Ephraim Sneh’s recent Op-Ed in the ‘Times (Bad Borders, Good Neighbors).  After all, he admits that the ’67 border sare indefensible and that a Palestinian state would have to be demilitarized.  Other than that, the piece is just crammed with silliness.  I mean, some silliness was probably edited out for space, because I don’t think any more silliness could fit.  Just as an exercise, let’s take a brief look:

…his use of this argument to reject the only viable formula for Israeli-Palestinian peace — a negotiated two-state solution based on mutually agreed upon land swaps — is wrong…

This is an oft-repeated – but never, ever supported – idea.  It assumes both that no other arrangement is likely to last (my loose interpretation of viable) and that this one is.  I have not seen anyone bother to explain why.  What topographical, political or historical significance is there to that border?  No, I’m pretty sure its only significance is that if the Arabs were to end up with less than that it would be hard for them to pretend that they didn’t lose their war with Israel.  But let’s move on.  (Really, I’m uncomfortable with this whole business, which sounds too much like one of those right-wing blogger rants.  Still, I won’t let that stop me, as too few people point out the horrible stuff that passes for informed opinion.)

In the 44 years since, the geography has not changed, but the threat has… Short- and medium-range rockets, mortars and missiles …

I see mention of a new threat, but I don’t see that the original one has disappeared or been made less significant.

That is why the border between the West Bank and Jordan must be made impenetrable. This cannot be done remotely, from the 1967 lines; it will require a joint Israeli-Palestinian military presence along the Jordan River. Such joint military activity would not violate Palestinian sovereignty and could be modeled on Israel’s current coordination with Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.

I’m not a military man, and Sneh is, but I strongly suspect that the idea of an “impenetrable” border is, well, suspect.  And why exactly would forced military cooperation not violate Palestinian sovereignty?  Remember that our current security cooperation with the Palestinians has had its ups-and-downs, and that it exists in the context of our ability to enter their territory at will, to control their borders and much of their internal movement.  Take all that away and we may find the cooperation evaporating.

Also, the implication is that the Palestinians, the Jordanians and the Israelis are on the same side against the Jihadists.  Does it even need pointing out that the reason for this deal is to protect us from the Palestinians and Jordanians too, as these too are people who have tried to kill us?  In fact, these arrangements are most-specifically to protect us against the Palestinians, so basing them on an assumption that they want to protect us is counterintuitive (I’m trying to cut down on the use of “silly”).

…the Palestinian state must be demilitarized. No tanks, artillery or missiles can be deployed within its boundaries.

Just a few sentences ago we were concerned with encroaching on Palestinian sovereignty; what happened to that?  And we’re now assuming that they won’t accept less land, but they’ll accept demilitarization.  Have they ever said they would?  I suspect not.

This security package would make the 1967 borders defensible, and keep Palestine from becoming another launching pad for terror.

That’s a new one.  We’ve been talking about military matters on the level of tanks and planes; now suddenly we’re talking about terrorism.  What arrangements have been mentioned that would prevent terrorists, armed only with light weapons and explosives, from infiltrating across the border?

It [the agreement] would remove the obstacle preventing moderates in the region from uniting against militant Islamist extremists.

Another common assertion, against which there’s at least as much evidence as there is for.

…the pro-negotiation policy of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, could collapse…

I’m not even going to bother.

In fairness I’d like to point out that Ephraim Sneh has contributed a great deal to Israel and I respect that.

Also, I have no personal idea of whether the ’67 borders are defensible or not.  I’m not trying to make any point about that per se.
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