There are three Israels whose visions for the future clash furiously. If you don’t understand them, you can’t understand Israeli politics, the different paths they envision for their country, Israel’s conflicting and confusing actions, or predict the fate of the region.
As an Israeli following the conflict closely for the past 40 years I have to say this is a masterful series. The way you present the viewpoints of all sides in a way that allows the reader to make sense of how they see the world is invaluable. I wish this series would be required reading for any non Israeli/Palestinian who wants to express their viewpoints on this subject, as well as to Israelis and Palestinians!
Another informative & insightful article.
Basically a majority of the Israeli political base (Nationalist + religious) don't support compromise or peace, and the same may be said for Hamas & other Palestinians. And the two sides feed each other.
One can only hope that the apocalypse now unfolding will cause a shift in those attitudes. Until then, neither side is fit to govern, so (IMO) the UN (excluding the US) should take over and keep the peace — even if that's for a 100 years until the people, attitudes & economics change & the hatred fades.
It may sound trite, but a key ingredient for peace is to care about living people, and though it may be easy for me to say it, that really should mean giving absolute total priority to currently living people over any kind of resentment or ambitions to reclaim what was lost by those who died hundreds or thousands of years ago.
It can certainly take time for people to recover from major traumas, and the effects of trauma can be passed down through generations, but eventually it fades. Britain was invaded by the Romans 2000 years ago, and by the French 1000 years ago, but I think most Brits have let it go now.
So the bit where you, Tomas, talk about how things could be very different in 100 years is really important, but we need to find a way to hold things together peacefully until then.
Astounding inside look of Israel. As an Israeli, I confirm every word and analysis. Admiratoon the clear explanations and writing. I am very excited and impressed. And I love yr maps snd infographics.
Excellent piece Tomas. Israel won't be able to move forward with Palestinians until it resolves the clash between its three factions. The Haredim are schnorrers (moochers), demanding resources but not contributing to Israel's economy or defense. The Palestinians won't move forward until they stop holding out for the elimination of Israel and, rather, accept that it will continue to exist within some borders. This means rejecting Hamas, whose "business model" is predicated on the fantasy that Israel will be replaced with a caliphate. Surely the political leaders of Hama understand that this is a myth, but having chosen to define themselves on the basis of resistance and terrorism rather than responsible governance, they will never agree to any accommodation with Israel. Netanyahu thought that he had reached an agreement with Hamas, but Oct 7 showed that he was catastrophically wrong in his assessment. As Tomas said, the Palestinians have not only been failed by Hamas, but also by the neighboring Arab countries. After fighting and losing several wars with Israel, the neighbors Egypt, Jordan, and Syria now accept the existence of Israel. The Gulf emirates and Saudi Arabia are cutting economic deals with Israel who thy see as a worthy trade partner as the price and future of oil plummets. For reasons discussed by Tomas, Palestine has little of economic value to offer the neighbors and is viewed by them as largely an annoying distraction from doing business with Israel and the West. These factors place Palestine in an isolated position, with little power to improve their situation. The combination of Israel's internal conflicts and Palestine's lack of status makes it difficult to see an obvious path forward.
Excelente artículo Tomás (¡y también toda la serie sobre este conflicto!).
Mi interés por los asuntos palestinos e israelíes arrancó hará unos 10 años, a través de los cuales fui leyendo, pensando y aprendiendo, poco a poco sobre toda esta historia . Tu exposición, en toda esta serie de artículos, me ha permitido terminar de ordenar y comprender, al menos en lo más general, la génesis y el desarrollo del conflicto árabe-israelí.
¡Se agradece enormemente!
The nationalist trilemma is that Israel can be Jewish, democratic, expanded - pick two.
Very good piece Tomas. Though I'm far from an expert, my sense is that the piece accurately captures the different poles in Israel. As an American Jew who has long been a J-Street supporter and considers themselves squarely in the Peace Camp, I'm really looking forward to your next piece.
Here is on my own take on what is needed to achieve a lasting solution that gives the Palestinians both a viable state and a chance to have fulfilling lives:
It doesn't get all into the details of the land swaps (which is one of the reasons I'm so looking forward to your take on that), but I think you might find it interesting because of what it says about what the U.S. role needs to be and the thoughts on justice.
Tomas, here's another of my questions about "why is this conflict different from all other conflicts." In 2003 the US invaded Iraq on the false premise that it was involved in 9/11. It is estimated that at least 150,000 people, and perhaps many more, died over the next three years (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War). Most of these deaths were of Arabic civilians. The world saw the dehumanization of Iraqis on display at Abu Ghraib, and the wanton killing of civilians by US "contractors." Despite the much greater magnitude of civilian casualties in Iraq, we didn't see anything near the level of protest, societal division, and world-wide condemnation of the US as we are seeing now against Israel's assault on Gaza. So again I ask why is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict the focus of so much of the world's attention and anger on all sides?
You haven't talked much about the role of US Aid in the region. Israel and Egypt are the #1 and #3 aid recipients over the 1946-2021 period (source: https://usafacts.org/articles/which-countries-receive-the-most-aid-from-the-us/). What if the US, in addition to its all diplomatic efforts, had made more of its aid conditional to an actual two-state solution, put in practice?
Thanks for another excellent piece, Tomás. I think this one should have preceded the others, because it is basic to understand what Israelis want to know why they are doing what they are doing.
The core of the problem, in my view seems to be this:
"Early on, Israeli governments of the Nationalist Bloc supported the creation of Hamas to undermine the secular Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)"
"Over the last few years, Israel facilitated millions of dollars in direct or indirect funding to Hamas, and indirectly supported the regime by drastically increasing the number of worker permits in Gaza."
"When the Nationalist Bloc is in power, Israel punishes Palestinian leadership by doing things that inconvenience it. For example, Israel collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, and at times it strategically withholds them."
In a previous comment, I asked why neither Israel nor the rest of the world were giving more support to the PA in the West Bank, despite all its flaws, and you indirectly answer with the quotes above: Because the current government in Israel really does not want a strong PA. What the Israeli right has done, is create a monster, which they can now conveniently blame for all atrocities committed... on BOTH sides... they claim they are defending themselves from a monster they helped create. And their defense (or their "security," as they call it) is to wipe out Gaza, and let the settlers run amok in the West Bank... This is simply not acceptable, or should not be acceptable, to the Israelis who are not right leaning or religious, to the US, and to the world. This should be called out. I believe that, in the long run, Israel will lose the support it has now from the majority of the world, just like it happened to the US and its crazy "War on Terror" after 9/11.
The real problem is that there is truly no feasible solution in sight, so this conflict and its violence will continue to carry on indefinitely.
Excelente revisión y esfuerzo titánico por entender esta terrible y trágica realidad sin aparente solución y con miles de inocentes sacrificados en ambas partes, más por los palestinos, muchos más , sin que los gritos del resto del mundo sirvan de algo. Gracias, muchas gracias por intentarlo y tan claramente difundirlo.
Well Tomas you continue to argue the case for Israeli policy of the domination and oppression of the Palestinians with next to no quotations or references from Palestinians or objective scholars such as Noam Chomsky. A viable two state solution is the only way out of the decades of bloodshed and oppression. Hamas killing over a thousand Israelis, and the killing thousands of innocent children in Gaza ordered by Netanyahu is not the solution, they are both crimes against humanity.
Thank you for pulling this together! Very well done. Amazing how much history is overlooked or ignored in the current "debate". Looking forward to hearing more from the Palestinian point of view.
Wikipedia has an (excellent?) write-up on the Nakba https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakba. For my money, I don't htink you can begin to understand the Palestinian viewpoint without understanding exactly what happened leading up to the declaration of Independence in May 1948, and in particular the expulsions of 300,000 and the massacres that formed a Casus Belli for the Arab League - which Israel has conveniently denied and suppressed in their narrative....(and I noticed you make no mention of it).
I think you should emphasize the dichotomy facing the Nationalistic Bloc. Under their policies, Israel can be a Jewish state or a democratic state but not both because it must restrict the Palestinian political rights if it wants to have a Jewish majority in the Knesset. Israel needs international support to keep these policies despite its policies being completely antithetical to the core Western democratic values. As you pointed out, the West Bank is basically a military occupation with military orders governing the rule of law for Palestinians.
It is not at all clear that such support can be forthcoming in the long-run.
Yes the war is on (mostly juvenile) narratives that kill a lot of innocent people - that doesn't mean the evidence should be ignored academically but more importantly genuine solutions found. There comes a time when the narratives are just not important and more adult behaviour implemented.