HonestReporting gets a juicy quote from The Dish … and just repeats it politely

I didn’t write about this yesterday, because it was a strange post that required two separate commentaries, with (1) the Dish’s deficient critique of a bad Op-Ed by a settler and (2) The Dish’s radical musings about the possible necessity of U.S./NATO troops in handling Israeli settlers or maybe Israel itself. I hadn’t figured out yet what I wanted to say.

Sullivan’s funky quote was being linked to everywhere, accompanied by different amounts of bile. HonestReporting, the anti-anti-Israel press watchdog/gadfly, even noted it. Their post:

Andrew Sullivan Said What?

Reacting to Karni Eldad, Andrew Sullivan suggests Western military intervention against Israeli settlements:

Increasingly, it seems to me, NATO or US troops will have to intervene on the border to enforce a separation and an end to these settlements for good and all.

They didn’t even include the sentence right before — “Any Israeli government beholden to these people will be incapable of making peace on its own” — which is the part of Andrew’s quote that makes it seem like he might mean the State of Israel will have to be addressed by NATO or U.S. troops.

Andrew might be disappointed that HonestReporting just left him hanging in the wind with his quote instead of calling him names or making any implications he might have predicted (antisemite, anti-Israel, etc.) about his character. They seemed to want to leave open the possibility that he had a brain fart.

(BTW, if any group is pro-AIPAC and sympathetic to neocon views on the Middle East, it’s HonestReporting. The neocons continue to fail Sullivan.)

My own comment on this issue is that Sullivan did indeed have a brain fart. It was an embarrassing one, and he’s not going to want to defend himself on it, not even after his Atlantic colleague Jeffrey Goldberg noted that it is quite a peculiar, militaristic statement. Rather Sullivan will continue along like it didn’t happen. Not a big deal, he’d say. Don’t overreact to one statement, right?

I think if a pundit like William Kristol made such an surprising remark about engaging a new country with our military, Andrew would want the whole blogosphere to demand a response or a public shaming. Although Kristol is a pundit read by McCain and many other republicans, Andrew is a pundit read, for good and for ill, by our President.

Andrew may be in favor of moving tenacious settlers out with the IDF, but I don’t think he’s really in favor of moving any settlers out with NATO because of alleged Israeli intransigence. That would probably mean our military getting into conflict with Israel’s over the bodily safety of maybe 100,000 of their citizens. (And Israel would probably stop supplying the U.S.’s now superior vehicle armor … The only benefit of that might be the production of “The Hurt Locker 2”, but sequels rarely live up to the originals).

As for the rest of his post on Karmi Eldar’s op-ed on the settlement freeze, I’ll start by naming some problems in Eldar’s piece:

(a) This is not a question of ignoring citizens’ democratic say over their government’s decisions. Israel did not “elect a right-wing government.” They elected a center government and the right-wing government was able to form a coalition, one that is beholden to stay closer to the center than it would like.

(b) It is not “apartheid” to have primarily Jewish-occupied and primarily Arab-occupied areas of land. It takes a bit more than reinforcing ethnic polities to signify apartheid. Otherwise every Middle Eastern country, among many others in the world, would be an apartheid. Look at the Kurds in Syria or the Arabs in Iran for people experiencing something closer to apartheid.

(c) She didn’t mention the Palestinians, so we can’t tell if she means that preventing “natural growth” unfairly undermines Jews’ rights to develop a normal life, in territory that is contiguous with pre-’67 Israel and distinct from Arab population enclaves, ’67 until now, or in territory that will disrupt the autonomy of a future Palestinian state. If she means the latter, her not mentioning the Palestinians signifies something closer to what Andrew Sullivan assumes and is way more than a faux pas.

Regarding The Dish’s disbelief that

the settler is analogizing the seizure of other people’s land, slow expulsion of much of the population, erection of massive walls to contain and police them … as the equivalent of the fight against Jim Crow

see (b) above; Kardi hasn’t mentioned such things as being required to fulfill her rights.

I know the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem is a problem for The Dish. When it was announced that building of housing units would go ahead there, The Dish also referred to “taking other people’s land,” even though nothing of the sort was happening or would happen there. A news story on Abbas’ unserious attempts to engage Olmert’s peace offer even showed the PA negotiators claimed no interest in Gilo.

The Dish hasn’t kept to a universal standard of not supporting a policy that is unfairly invasive on other people’s ability to pursue a normal life. Most Palestinians know they are not going to be moved. They are worried about losing houseless land that could form a potential state and that could allow them to visit friends and family without military complications. Israeli settlers across the hazy ’48 Armistice Line (i.e., the Green line) do not have that particular sense of security, for all the burdens they do not share with the Palestinians.

Settlers could be moved from their homes at the discretion of the government, even if they are nowhere near Arab towns, and the fear of that increases when they hear stentorian calls about places like Gilo, from foreign pundits like Andrew Sullivan. I’m sure the prospect of being forced to move by the government for no other reason than accommodating someone else’s “religious and tribal fundamentalism” (in AS’s phrase) feels not so great. Eldar’s is passing along the perception of her fellow settlers that no matter what they do, the government could come in with riot gear and an order for them to leave their homes, as happened in the Jim Crown South and in South Africa — and to some Palestinian communities who tried to return to Israel after the 1948 War.

If I can adapt a high-horse passage in Sullivan’s post, we end up with the core of something sensible in Eldar’s hopelessly out-of-touch Op-Ed:

What I notice in this [post on the Dish] is no reference at all to the [Jewish settlers who live in areas next to Israel developed away from Arab population enclaves]  and their claims and their rights. To these [foreign pundits and their governments], [all settlers are blut-und-botten fanatics, as bad as jihadists, and] are non-persons; they do not exist in their narrative so they are utterly invisible. There is no one to compromise with — just land promised by [foreign diplomatic] diktat, against which there is no appeal.

Spoken in the voice of a person who would actually be affected by the movements of power, it sounds humbler than the passage on The Dish.

And speaking of “foreign diplomatic diktat” … When Netanyahu goes a different way than Obama on current settlement policy, we could paraphrase it as Andrew did, “Go fuck yourself,” I guess. But whenever any other ally who gets financial aid has gone on a different path from us in a big way (examples, Turkey with Iraq, Pakistan with almost everything, Palestinians with their side of the peace process, etc.), The Dish didn’t identify a brazen insult from their leaders to our President as pure as “Go fuck yourself.” Clearly, he should not attend a dinner with this Netanyahu guy.

Besides a grievous insult to our President, Andrew calls Nentanyahu’s approval of 692 housing units in some Jewish neighborhoods of what is officially designated East Jerusalem, more “ethnic social engineering in East Jerusalem.” Jeffrey Goldberg says that everyone (Palestinians included) know that these areas will go to Israel, and Sullivan doesn’t mention what he thinks of the 500 housing units Israel approved in the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, communities that have been desperate to build for their own natural growth. This building for both Jews and Arabs seems more like “ethnic social maintenance work,” putting aside whether it’s detrimental to the peace process.

According to Sullivan’s arguments, how would this building in Arab neighborhoods not be a bad on Israel and Netanyahu, and a “GFY” to Obama? I hope The Dish wouldn’t simply add to its previous line of argument that, “social engineering” aside, it’s self-evidently just to build for  Palestinian Arabs in any land ( — regardless of where it is relative to Israel and Palestinian communities, who’s been living on it, whether anyone lived on it before, and who developed it — ) which the Palestinian Authority hasn’t publicly surrendered claim to.

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