by Richard H. Shulman

NOTE: Citations are from (1) an article by Ronald R. Krebs in the December 2011 issue of Foreign Affairs entitled "Israel's Bunker Mentality" and (2) an article by Yosef Kuperwasser and Shalom Lipner in the same issue of Foreign Affairs entitled "The Problem Is Palestinian Rejectionism." Richard Shulman's analyses are in italics in square brackets

Since founding Islam, the Arabs have considered themselves entitled to overthrow non-Muslim states. Then they considered themselves obliged to recapture any country liberated from Muslim rule, such as Israel.

For more than 90 years, the Arabs have been opposing Jewish sovereignty in Israel. Mostly the same arguments over what prevents peace there still rage. Therefore, the December, 2011 debate in Foreign Affairs magazine remains timely. Neither side explains the real issues. Let's take the blame-"Occupation" side, first.


Prof. Ronald R. Krebs of the University of Minnesota contends that Israel occupies the P.A., to the detriment of Israel and of peace. He denies that the "Israel-Palestinian conflict" threatens to "drive the Jews into the sea." As Prof. Krebs puts it:

"For the Israeli right and its allies around the world, the greatest danger to Israel's future is the unwillingness of Palestinians to make peace. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict does threaten Israel, but not, as the right would have it, because militant and even seemingly moderate Palestinians harbor plans to drive the Jews into the sea. Rather, the conflict threatens Israel because of the havoc it wreaks on the country's internal politics."

[He defines the scope of the war too narrowly. He must have forgotten the Arab states' wars on Israel. Their stated purpose was to drive the Jews into the sea. P.A. and Arab countries' schools and mosques inflame a similar war fever. Prof. Krebs ignores Iran's and Turkey's hostility toward Israel. He overlooks jihad's general menace to Israel and to the whole world. This lack of understanding undermines his whole case.]

[Israel occupies no the territory of any other country, so it is no occupier, under international law. Anti-Zionists allege occupation, so the Arab claim seems better. But the area's legal status remains as it was under the Palestine Mandate, which recognized the Jewish people's greater historical and legal claim. Arab aggression also has given Israel the international legal right to annex land for security against further aggression. This makes sense.]

Responsibility over the Territories, according to Prof. Krebs, transformed Israel from being optimistic "into an increasingly cynical, despondent, and illiberal place."

[Evidence for that judgment? Examples? None given. Surveys of citizens rating of their own countries list Israel at the top. That self-assessment is subjective, but it does show Israelis far from despondent. I think they are more realistic.]

"By inducing a bunker mentality among Israelis, the occupation has bred an aggressive ethnic nationalism that privileges the interests of Israel's Jewish citizens over those of its Arab citizens, who have come to feel that they will never be treated fairly in an Israel described as a Jewish state." Israel degraded its democracy by governing Arab citizens under military administration between 1948 and 1966. "Arab municipalities get less funding,... and Arabs lag in life expectancy, education, and employment opportunities."

[Evidence? Very little. But again this allegation of bunker mentality vis-a-vis the P.A. Iran's nuclear menace, Syria's chemical weapons, Hezbollah's missiles, Egypt's powerful army, and Saudi Arabia's nearby AWACS-directed jets. No connection between treatment of Israeli Arabs and P.A. peace is explained.]

[Israel aggressive? Not a country that waits for many attacks before retaliating, and then pulls its punches. And not by privileging Arab citizens by means of civil service hiring preferences, college preferences, draft exemption, preference at the Temple Mount, and non-enforcement laws about land, construction, and riots]

[It is not valid to cite Arabs' feelings, because Arab Muslims feel humiliated if they are not humiliating non-Muslims. How should Arabs be treated in a country they are trying to overthrow, and that in 1947 tried to kill or exile the Jews?]

[National subsidy of municipalities is a political process from which the Arabs abstain. Israeli Arab municipalities routinely under-collect taxes, overspend their budgets, and then ask the central government to them. Prof. Krebs fails to mention this racket.]

[No figures and no explanations are given for Arab life expectancy being lower than Jews'. Why presume the cause is discrimination? Discrimination is not the explanation for lesser education. Arabs could get almost the same job opportunities as Jews if they secured veterans benefits. There would have to be some restrictions on security industries, inasmuch as the Arabs are the defeated enemy and of uncertain loyalty, to put it mildly. But the Arabs mostly avail themselves of draft exemption. The author criticized ultra-Orthodox Jews for doing likewise, without criticizing the Arabs.]

Another argument is that the situation allows the ultra-Orthodox to gain special privileges. [But the argument is alleged, not demonstrated, and its relevance not shown.]

The author claims that Israel cannot solve its problems, due to the interference of small parties. [When Benjamin Netanyahu was Finance Minister, he did much to free the economy. That was major problem-solving. They can solve problems. Suppose Israel had only big parties, as does the U.S.. The U.S. seems unable to solve its problems (though I think I see changes growing). Then party size may not be relevant.]

International efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel are described accurately. [I think the author believes that this is due to Israel controlling the Territories. But the Arabs started a boycott before such control.]

Prof. Krebs takes a few swings at Avigdor Lieberman and his party as stridently nationalistic. Lieberman proposes some population exchange, shocking the professor. [The quotes are accurate, but misleading. Like most Israeli politicians, Lieberman makes strongly nationalistic or security-minded statements. Also like most Israeli politicians, he proposes dangerous appeasement of the Arabs. A professor of political science should recognize demagoguery and self-deception when he sees it. Prof. Krebs quotes what he doesn't like and omits Lieberman's statements that contradict the others.]

Prof. Krebs also says:

Lieberman has proposed the involuntary transfer of some of Israel's Arab citizens to a future Palestinian state in exchange for retaining Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank

[If removing Arabs is objectionable, why doesn't Prof. Krebs object to the Arab refusal to let any Jews live in the P.A. and to the P.A. murdering Arabs who sell land to Jews? If Jewish nationalism, based on a positive view of Jewish culture and national defense, is objectionable, what about the P.A. Arabs' phony nationalism and their religious imperialism that advocates holy war, prompts assassination of Jews, and indoctrination that Jews are sons of apes and pigs? The professor's expression of morality is hypocritical.]

[The America Revolution exiled British loyalists to prevent their taking the country away from the victors. Why not remove Arabs disloyal to Israel? Or hasn't Prof. Krebs heard of the Islamist movement in Israel, the thousands of attacks on Jews, or calls for their deaths? But I think that forcible expulsion is not necessary, just enforce the law against the Arabs and stop subsidizing them.]

Next is a discussion about bills against "human rights" NGOs. The bills are depicted as illiberal. The Supreme Court would have been expected to declare the bills illegal, but Prof. Krebs fears that the Court is losing its independence. Prof Krebs on NGOs:

[Leiberman] has disparaged Israeli human rights nongovernmental organizations (ngos) as "terror groups and terror supporters." Indeed, Lieberman and members of his party have led the charge in attempting to silence Israeli ngos focused on human rights and civil liberties.

[This discussion consists of half-truths. It omits the context, all-important on this issue. The organizations that purport to be for civil rights never defend Jews' rights and rarely defend Arabs' rights. Most of them are financed by foreign anti-Zionist governments and organizations seeking to subvert Israel in behalf of the Arabs. These organizations hide behind fine sounding names and mission statements, but seek to stop Israeli self-defense or enable an Arab takeover. The author does not mention the most sensible and modest bill, one that would require the NGOs to state their sources of funds. Shouldn't Israelis know who is financing this civil attack on them? What about a bill that would bar such foreign attempts to influence Israeli policy?]

[The professor worries about Israeli democracy. Then why not worry about foreign-financed subversion of Israel and an Arab takeover? That would end democracy and begin ethnic cleansing, which, when he thinks Jews would impose it, he opposes.]

[He also should worry about the Supreme Court not being selected democratically, not being bound by separation of powers, not basing its rulings on law, and ruling according to an aggressive anti-Zionist ideology.]

Israeli Arabs face increasing hostility from the government. The domestic security service warned the Prime Minister that Israeli Arabs present a security threat.

[The security service is right. The author admits that the country faces increasing hostility from its Arabs, many of whoj are radicalizing, even assisting terrorists to infiltrate. Their politicians support morally or physically enemy Arab states. So Israeli Arabs do present a security menace. As with the bills against NGOs, bills against the Arabs reflect some posturing, some ill-considered measures, and the new realization of the Israeli Arab alienation.]

[The author also admits that Israeli Arabs support the Palestinian national cause, which he does not define. They seek a bi-national state. That would mean bringing millions of Arabs into the state of Israel, making them the majority. Where Arabs were a majority, they expelled most of their Jews. The author fails to connect the dots on that, but you can see that the author's own statements validate Israeli Jews' fears about Arab disloyalty.]

The author states that Israeli Jews want to curb Arab civil rights. He then attributes to that desire an Arab alienation from Israel. [He has it backwards. The Arabs show their hostility, so finally individual Jews start reacting. But the government does not.]

Israel had better accommodate its Arabs, Prof. Krebs advises, lest the higher Arab birth rate impose a dire outcome upon the Jews. [Demographers now find that the Arab birth rate is plummeting. Now it is even with the Jews' and seems to be falling past it.]

Arabs consider Israel racist. [No, Islam is bigoted in its basic doctrine. It imbues Muslims with a sense of superiority. If not treated as superior, they feel treated unjustly. It is not valid to treat their opinions as evidence of the situation.]

The last page and-a-half discuss the economic strain of the ultra-Orthodox and Israel's brain drain. The article asserts that those are made worse by Israeli control over the Territories [but adduces no evidence for any connection']

The last contention is that the economy is further strained by government subsidies to "settlers." [Again, no evidence. The contention is wrong. The government subsidizes development in all its under-developed areas of Israel. It is not logical nor fair to attribute extra costs to controlling Judea-Samaria.]

[Actually, the low cost of land in Judea-Samaria saves the economy a great deal. So do "settlers" reduced need to commute. When the Israeli government chased 10,000 Jews out of Gaza and northern Samaria, its mistreatment of them and its stinginess ruined their livelihoods and their lives, at least for years. Nevertheless, the expulsion imposed a heavy financial burden on the government. Now imagine having to bring in 300,000 Jews and build new houses for them, in a country of high costs of housing! Then imagine the Islamic triumphalism over this huge expulsion, and its motivation for more attacks on Israel. Defense would become costlier, if not impossible. So much for the author's concern for the Israeli economy!]

[Thank goodness for the Territories, which provide inexpensive land, defensible borders, strategic depth, water, and the cradle of Jewish civilization!]

[Prof. Krebs raised irrelevant issues, made assertions without evidence, assumes falsely, and misses the point that his proposals about the Territories would sink Israel. For some people, getting the Arabs to oust the Jews is an obsession, but Jews ousting Arabs is abhorrent, and the daily Muslim indoctrination and participation in jihad is accepted.]


Joseph Kuperwasser, Director Gen. of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs, and Shalom Lipner, of the Prime Minister's Office, attribute the Arab-Israel conflict to P.A. rejection of Jewish statehood. The P.A. refuses to negotiate and demands more and more concessions, showing bad faith.

[Too narrow a perspective. Jewish sovereignty is rejected by almost the whole Islamic world. It is not limited to Palestinian Arabs, as the wars weren't. Outside Muslims have demonstrated unconcern about, and even hostility to, Palestinian Arabs. But they use the conflict with Israel both to divert their masses from domestic failure and to advance jihad.]

[Islam does not believe in genuine recognition and peace. As Muslims radicalize, they tend to favor extermination of Jews over just dominating them. Islamic religious fervor is intensifying. Without religious reform, peace is impossible. Israel therefore should develop a strategy not only for holding off jihad until Islam reforms and mellows, but even for winning.]

Kuperwasser and Lipner define the conflict not as seeking another Arab state but about eradicating the Jewish one. Some people deny that, citing Arafat's recognition of Israel. But Arafat did not recognize Israel as the state of the Jews; Abbas and associates still refuse to recognize Jewish sovereignty. They cannot make peace with it.

In 2009, Fatah reaffirmed its desire to eradicate Israel. More recently, Fatah declared its adherence to the same ideology as Hamas, on armed conflict to take Israel away from the Jewish people. This irredentism is a common theme in the P.A., not only of its top leaders.

The Arabs say they do not recognize the Jews as a nationality. If they did, they might be indicating an end to their holy war to destroy Israel. That is the importance to peace of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. All other issues are secondary. [Otherwise, any document that Israel considers a peace agreement is for Muslims, a temporary truce.]

Israel did not require Egypt and Jordan to recognize it as being a Jewish state. Those countries, however, do not demand parts of Israel. As Kuperwasser and Lipner write:

There are also basic strategic disparities between Israel's agreements with Egypt and Jordan and its relationship with the Palestinians. Egypt and Jordan are organized, sovereign actors on the international stage with a monopoly over the use of force within their borders, as well as U.S. allies. These conditions allowed for reasonable security arrangements and buffers to be put in place with Israel. But the same realities do not prevail in the Palestinian context. The PA is only a would-be state without any legacy of governance or practice in exercising a monopoly over violence

Nor do people in Israel consider themselves Egyptian or Jordanian, and therefore constitute a potential fifth column. Egypt and Jordan do not want terrorists operating in their countries, because terrorists turn against their hosts. Therefore, their recognition is less important.

[Since the people of Egypt and Jordan hate Israel, Israel blundered in not demanding that recognition. Egypt and Jordan might have refused that recognition. The rise of Radical Islam strengthens jihadists. Pres. Morsi may let terrorists operate against Israel.]

By contrast, Israeli leaders have accepted the right of Palestinian Arabs to self-determination in the Jewish homeland. Ignoring that the 1937 agreement to partitioning was made by Jews frantic to give a safe haven to European Jews -- the Nazis had been systematically and increasingly reducing the civil rights of the Jews and had just opened the Buchenwald concentration camps. Kuperwasser and Lipner write:

The leadership of pre-state Israel accepted the notion of partitioning mandatory Palestine into two states in 1937, and in more recent times, Israeli leaders have demonstrated that they accept that the Palestinians have legitimate national rights -- including the right to self-determination in the historic birthplace of the Jewish people. Israel has adopted this position despite serious reservations about Palestinian nationalism and Palestinian leaders' unflinching resistance to the existence of the Jewish state.

[I think that was a foolish and unreasonable concession, made under pressure or by appeasement-minded leaders who fail to advance a Zionist solution that can defeat jihad. It was enough that the Jewish people acquiesced to the detachment of the bulk of the Jewish homeland, to form Jordan.]

P.A. rejectionism may lead Israel to settle upon making the area secure and for enabling the Arabs to have a better life. Calling it "conflict management", with a straight face, Kuperwasser and Lipner write:

Such an arrangement might involve Israel's continued support for the capability of the Palestinians to guarantee internal security and contribute to broader regional security, while providing a better quality of life for their citizens.
[PM Netanyahu did adopt that policy. However, Israel needs its resources for its own people to have a better life. Let the Arabs despair and depart! That means greater security for Israel.]

Another Israeli policy may be for Israel to grant the P.A. statehood but with provisional boundaries. "In this context, Israel would work with the Palestinian leadership to promote a culture of peace and tolerance."

[Netanyahu has talked about that, too. Remember, these writers work for him. The notion of P.A. heads promoting tolerance and peace is fantasy. It contradicts all the authors stated about the conflict. A state without boundaries would engender ceaseless agitation and combat against Israel, to define the boundaries. The new state would have the sovereign right to import heavy weapons and armies. It doesn't matter what promises (those liars) would make not to. After all, they already have a peace agreement to end terrorism, but don't.]

[Imagine, signing another agreement with those agreement breakers! Abbas pledges to recognize the Jewish state and gets enabled to make war on Israel! No, first the religious culture of Islam must change. Then peace would be simple to attain. First reform, then sign. But I say, annex more and more, and the P.A. menace would subside.]

[The authors' proposal exposes them and Netanyahu as either fools or anti-Zionists. Latest evidence of his really being a leftist is his picking MK Livni to be Israel's negotiator with the P.A., after her disastrous negotiations that let Hezbollah become a strategic menace to Israel and her record of advocating extreme appeasement of the P.A.. The popular misconception of Netanyahu is that he is hard line right wing, even though he made an unnecessary and fatal Israeli withdrawal, the one from most of Hebron.]

Richard Shulman is a veteran defender of Israel on several web-based forums. His comments and analyses appear often on Think-Israel. He provides cool information and right-on-target overviews. He distributes his essays by email. To subscribe, write him at

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