Israel and Palestine
I believe that Israel has a right to exist, and I'm an admirer of the plucky little Israel that beat off the meddling Poms in 1947, which beat the Arabs in 1967 and '73, which held to the Camp David Accord and which bent over backwards to find peace in Oslo.
I wish Palestine had that greatness of spirit. First, it took a generation to articulate any sort of political response to its stateless predicament, and when it did it came in the all-rhetoric-no-responsibility mendacity of Yasser Arafat and Fatah. Now, Palestinian politics is imported from Iran and operates like an organised crime outfit, where squalor is leavened by small mercies on condition of absolute fealty to Hamas and its hierarchy. Where is its Mandela, someone who can stand up for Palestinians without swaggering - or caving in?
The game-breaker can only come from the Palestinians. The Israelis are showing all the fractious brittleness that conservatives call strength, but which the historian knows precedes the end of regimes. Netanyahu is a fool and nobody in that country's elite has the standing to call him out (except the extremists who bray that he hasn't gone far enough).
I've long believed that the flotilla idea, and not an embargo, is what the US should use against Castro in Cuba. Even if the Israelis found weapons or other contraband on that flotilla now, nobody would believe them; the return of Private Shalit is further away than ever.
The two-state solution is now a given; Israel-only is a position that can no longer be sustained, but the Palestine-only push is only made easier if Israel discredits itself. This is the piece that best sums up my attitude toward the recent flotilla - I find it hard to disagree with a single sentence, especially this one:
The threat of delegitimation is not a military problem and it does not have a military solution.
... and this:
It is hard not to conclude from this Israeli action, and also from other Israeli actions in recent years, that the Israeli leadership simply does not care any longer about what anybody thinks ... This is not defiance, it is despair ... This is the very opposite of the measured and empirical attitude, the search for strategic opportunity, the enlistment of imagination in the service of ideals and interests, that is required for statecraft.
That despair has traditionally been the preserve of the Palestinians: Entebbe and Munich, the contemptible murder of Klinghoffer, walking away from Oslo. It is the death-wish of an insurgent opposition, of wreckers and vandals.
Those who support the Palestinians must believe that real leadership exists among the Palestinians, capable of realising a state which serves those people well and would have them live in peace among their neighbours and enjoy prosperity. It doesn't, and so supporting Palestinians is just another expensive and pointless folly, like the various strands of socialism last century, or anarchism before that.
in our time Jewish pride has a disturbingly parasitic relationship with Jewish lachrymosity
No comfort can be taken from the fact that the Palestinians too wallow in victimhood and try to turn that base metal into the gold of righteousness. So too the Serbs and Croats, the Fenians and Ulstermen, Mugabe and Ahmedinejad and North Korea and the Basques. No cause can be right that resorts to this. Only those who can build more than they destroy can have their destruction forgiven and accepted, and allow that which is built in its place to remain standing.
A real “Freedom Flotilla” would have sailed for Gaza to liberate it from its rulers.
Perhaps they thought they were, or that Palestinians would be grateful. The problem is that a reasonable Palestinian leadership has no-one with whom to deal: a Hamas racketeering organisation; an Israeli government that is disingenuous at its best (fleeting) moments; a United States that is not sufficiently engaged to even hear such voices, let alone support them; and Arab neighbours who are afraid of their own moderates, let alone anyone else's.
If there's no latter-day Begin or Palestinian-Sadat to produce a moderate, two-state solution, then to hell with them all: and stop using our passports to prosecute and perpetuate all your bullshit.
Update 10 June: Why have two former News Ltd copy girls gone after some old lady who's been sacked? The media aim to render complex situations simple, but if it is tre that acid tongue sinks veteran scribe, then what's her-name and Caroline Overington are doing us all a disservice by writing the same beef-witted article framing this as a culture war thing. When people write like that about them, they think it's mean; when they dish it out, they are just, um, doing what they do (which is, get ahead of themselves).