Saturday, March 16, 2024

Thorough Examination

In light of the rumor that RFK Jr. will select Aaron Rodgers to be his running mate, it is timely to tell Ari Fleischer and his fellow travelers: R-E-L-A-X.

Of course, Fleischer is flacking for Donald Trump and acolytes, who will deny to their lasting, lying breath that Putin's Russia did not work to elect Trump to the presidency. And Fleischer should not go hysterical over the speech of Majority Leader Schumer, a longtime ally of the State of Israel, whose assessment of the war against Hamas was realistic, respectful, and reasoned (alliteration day!).  

In his lengthy speech (transcript here), Schumer described in detail what he labeled the "four major obstacles standing in the way of two states."  They are, in his words, Hamas, and the Palestinians who support and tolerate their evil ways; radical right-wing Israelis in government and society; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Hamas, and the Palestinians who support and tolerate their evil ways.

Schumer's speech instantly became famous for his support for "holding a new election once the war starts to wind down," which should be promoted more promptly. However, he recognizes- and is willing to admit- that

The Palestinian people must reject Hamas and the extremism in their midst. They know better than anybody how Hamas has used them as pawns, how Hamas has tortured and punished Palestinians who seek peace.

 Quite frankly, I haven’t heard enough Palestinian leaders express anguish about Hamas and other extreme elements of Palestinian society. I implore them to speak up now, even when it may be hardest. Because that is the only true way to honor the lives of all those lost — by transcending the enmity and bloodshed, and working together in good faith for a better future.

 Once Hamas is deprived of power, the Palestinians will be much freer to choose a government they want and deserve. With the prospect of a real two-state solution on the table, and for the first time, genuine statehood for the Palestinian people, I believe they will be far more likely to support more mainstream leaders committed to peace.

 I think the same is true of the Israeli people. Call me an optimist, but I believe that if the Israeli public is presented with a path to a two-state solution that offers a chance at lasting peace and coexistence, then most mainstream Israelis will moderate their views and support it.

 Part of that moderation must include rejecting right-wing zealots like Ministers Smotrich and Ben Gvir, and the extremist Israeli settlers in the West Bank. These people do not represent a majority of the Israeli public, yet under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s watch, they have had far too much influence.

 All sides must reject “From the river to the sea” thinking — and I believe they will if the prospects for peace and a two-state solution are real.

Schumer describes the concerns of both Israelis and American Jews and their justified concern about Israel's plight. Regrettably, he does not explicitly call out religious extremism, which has played a major role in the Israeli response to the October 7 murders and an even greater role in the Hamas attack itself. However, as this war has dragged on, it its clear that in any discussion of the Middle East, the phrases "Islamic terrorism," "Islamic extremism," and "Orthodox Jewish extremism" may not be uttered.  

Nonetheless, Schumer does understand that beyond Hamas and Israel, there is a third player in the Middle East which is critical to a peaceful and just resolution. He notes

Beyond the Israeli and Palestinian people and their leaders, there are others who bear a serious responsibility to work towards a two-state solution. Without them, it cannot succeed.

Middle Eastern powers like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and other mainstream Arab states can have immense power and influence with the Palestinians. Working with the United States, they must responsibly deploy their clout, their money and their diplomacy to support a new demilitarized Palestinian state that rejects terror and violence. I believe they have the leverage to do this with the support of the majority of the Palestinian people, who want what any other people want: peace, security and prosperity

Not all Jews are the same, as is blatantly obvious for the lack of support for the Netanyahu government among Israelis. Nor are all Arabs, or Muslims, or the individuals labeled "Palestinian," a reality which serves as a premise for Chuck Schumer's analysis. He has not presented a blueprint but has presented a more balanced view of the crisis than Ari Fleischer and others are giving him credit for. 


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