Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Where Liberal Theologians Fail and Do Harm

This summer, several Mainline Christian church denominations will consider divestment from Israel. Some of these denominations have seriously considered it before. Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions proposals, usually referred to by the acronym BDS, are not new. They were implemented against Apartheid South Africa effectively and eventually resulted in the collapse of that system of government. Similar proposals aimed at Israel are extraordinarily problematic and troubling, not only because of their potential impact on the Israeli economy, but because of their impact upon Jewish-Christian relations and their impact on Jewish communities around the world. Why?

Those promoting BDS are primarily advocates for a SINGLE state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most see the conflict as one in which the entire territory now under the control of Israel is occupied Arab land and should be Palestinian land. Many proposals and documents supporting BDS are deliberately ambiguous about what constitutes “Occupied Palestinian land” so as not to alienate those who desire a two state solution. For the most part, advocates of BDS see Israel, the Jewish state, as illegitimate and do not desire a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but instead a Palestinian state in its place.

Why is all of this relevant TODAY?

There are renewed and strengthened calls for BDS proposals and they are being discussed in some of our local and national church communities right now. This is to no small extent due to the creation of a document known as “Kairos / A Moment of Truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering” which was issued in December by a group of Palestinian Christians including the leaders of several Palestinian Christian churches and organizations. While Palestinians certainly continue to suffer, this document is anything but one of love or truth as I will show, but instead seems to be a document of faith and hope in the effectiveness of playing on empathy for fellow Christians and of latent and blatant Antisemitism.

The Kairos Palestine Document calls upon Christians around the world to employ BDS against Israel. Kairos intends to mimic the results of the 1985 document produced in South Africa. Its intention is to compare Israel with Apartheid South Africa, a comparison that not only is grossly in error for a voluminous number of reasons, but also is based in age old Jew hatred and is designed to elicit the response of hatred and suspicion from those Christians who are willing to listen.

In South Africa, the oppressed people were oppressed because of their race. Of vital importance is the fact that they were people who should have been granted the rights of citizens of the state. The Palestinians are not being oppressed because of their race, but because many are actively trying to harm Israelis. Palestinians as a whole remain in a state of war with Israel and therefore Israel must secure itself against them. Those residents of Gaza and the West Bank are not, nor should be considered, citizens of Israel and therefore are not being denied the rights of citizenship in Israel. They are members of a people actively engaged in war, using violence to fight their enemy as well as negotiating for the elimination of their enemy’s state. Those advocating that Palestinians be given the right of citizenship in Israel are actually advocating for that agenda, the end of the Jewish state, a single state solution.

Meanwhile, those Arabs who are citizens of Israel have more rights and privileges by far than the citizens of any other nation in the Middle East and so are hardly being “oppressed.” The analogy with South Africa fails miserably, but those who are ignorant of the realities of the situation could easily be persuaded that Israel is at fault while not checking to see if the accusations are fair. That is the intention of making the Apartheid accusation, namely to tar Israel and rally support against it. The document fails in numerous other areas as well.

●The Kairos Document advocates for the ELIMINATION of the Jewish state, not for a Palestinian state alongside it living in peace. It promotes a SINGLE state solution and therefore is not a document of peace between Israelis and Palestinians at its heart, but is instead an attempt to rally support for a Palestinian victory and the elimination of the Jewish state altogether.

●It pretends that Israel has no legitimate concern for security even while advocating for the very violence against Israel that necessitates that concern—for example:

●It demonstrates in NUMEROUS places SUPPORT for HAMAS, a recognized terrorist organization, as the elected government of the Palestinian people and support for VIOLENT RESISTANCE, even terrorism, as legitimate while at the same time incongruously advocating for “non-violence.”

●It pretends that without occupation there would be no violence against Israel, something proven by history to be outrageously incorrect, with many Jews killed in violence including suicide attacks, even PRIOR TO WORLD WAR II, much less prior to 1967, as evidence of that fact.

●It ignores, because of its single state solution goal, the fact that peace could have been achieved not once but TWICE in recent years alone were it not for the refusal of the PALESTINIAN side to agree to it (2000 and 2007).

●It functionally condemns as EVIL, the Jewish state, and by implication all JEWS who support it, the vast majority of Jews in the world.

●It is a morally and ethically bankrupt document that exploits Christian love and concern for the poor and weak along with tendencies, latent and not-so-latent, toward Jew hatred in order to promote the persecution of the Jewish state and to avoid placing any real responsibility on the Palestinians for the absence of peace.

●It is inherently a document of Jew hatred under the guise of criticism of Israel, something that has become all too politically acceptable.

●It also warps the concept of Liberation Theology, advocacy for the poor and weak, by turning into victimized freedom fighters the defeated Arab armies with their vastly superior numbers, who were bent on the slaughter of Jews both in 1948 and 1967. Let me remind you of a bit of history. King Hussein of Jordan signed a defense pact with Egypt on May 30, 1967, less than a week before the war started. Colonel Nasser of Egypt then announced:

• The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel...to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations.

This, only a few days after Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad said:

• Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united....I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.
Here is where liberal theologians fail and actually do harm.

Behind the BDS efforts in the Mainline Christian community and in the Palestinian Christian community lies an effort to promote, as applicable to the conflict, what is known as Liberation Theology. Liberation Theology argues, in essence, that Christians are duty bound to aid the poor and weak against their oppressors. We, Jews, might simply call this an aspect of Tikkun Olam or perhaps, dealing with its economic aspects, Social Justice. In South America, where it is a dominant religious theology, it is the cry of the impoverished and politically oppressed masses.

Then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, argued in a document he produced for the Catholic Church in 1984 that Liberation Theology is basically Marxism with Christian overtones. It argues not for faith or belief but that people should help the lower class rise up against the wealthy, the weak against the powerful. It is a theology of class conflict. Now, many advocates for the basic philosophy would disagree with that sentiment and would argue, as we, Reform Jews, do about our concept of Social Justice, that the goal is a reasonable life for all, not the elimination of capitalism or personal wealth. Regardless of how you might feel about these ideas, the real questions are whether or not they apply to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what happens when they are applied.

To apply Liberation Theology here implies that the Israelis, the citizens of the Jewish state, are an oppressor people, an Evil people, and not people defending themselves against an enemy seeking their harm. The Kairos Palestine Document refers more than once to Israel’s “PRETEXT” of security, implying that it both lacks a reasonable need to secure itself and that its actions in that regard are purely malicious. Its authors need to argue in this fashion because, if indeed Israel’s defensive measures are legitimate, Liberation Theology cannot possibly apply to the conflict. Given the fact that violence against Jews by the Arab inhabitants of the land occurred in significant amounts, including riots and even mass murder in the 1920s and the infamous massacre in Hebron in 1929, LONG BEFORE there was a Jewish state, the contention that such violence is based upon the events after 1967 or even 1948 is grossly incorrect. In fact, the history of the last century of the conflict provides ample evidence that violence against Jews by Arabs in the land has been primarily driven by the hatred of Jews as a race, even when their numbers were few and Arabs had the power to oppress them.

Yet, the document states that:

In the face of this reality, Israel justifies its actions as self-defense, including occupation, collective punishment and all other forms of reprisals against the Palestinians. In our opinion, this vision is a reversal of reality. Yes, there is Palestinian resistance to the occupation. However, if there were no occupation, there would be no resistance, no fear and no insecurity.

This statement is laughable were it not for the fact that lives are at stake and good people around the world take this statement at face value. On the other hand, one could in fact make the case that Liberation Theology could apply to supporting the Jews against those who would see their harm! The Jews are only not being attacked and killed now, as we speak, by the Palestinians and other Arab nations because the Jews have the upper hand and can and are defending themselves. The Palestinians certainly wish to apply Liberation Theology to themselves because it makes them the victims, pegs Israel as an evil oppressor, evincing age old stereotypes rooted in Jew hatred and encourages American and European Christians to support Palestinians by acting against Israel.

Many Christian leaders with whom I have spoken about this issue think that the application of Liberation Theology to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not only inappropriate, but inherently antisemitic. It obviously should not be the case that only when being oppressed and slaughtered in attempted genocide should Jews find support from Christians. Having gained the upper hand against those who would slaughter them should not suddenly result in the Jews being seen as oppressors, yet for many it seems that Israel’s ability and willingness to defend its population has wrongly resulted in exactly that.

Apparently, however, this problem has failed to be understood by those church groups who have regularly considered and currently consider BDS proposals that seek to harm Israel or consider offering support for the circulation of the Kairos Palestine Document. It is of no little concern to us in the Reform Jewish movement that these same church groups tend to be our closest of friends and allies on our social agenda including the Presbyterian Church, the Disciples of Christ, the United Church of Christ and others, and that these boycott proposals will result in making it difficult, if not impossible, for us to continue working with them in coalitions.

The Kairos document poses perhaps the greatest threat to relations between Jews and liberal Christians that has ever arisen. The Central Conference of American Rabbis’ commentary on the document, should ALARM any in the interfaith community who consider advocating for it, much less support its conclusions. The CCAR is exceedingly liberal in its general, and certainly political, outlook, so it is not coming from anything close to a politically conservative perspective.

http://data.ccarnet.org/cgi-bin/resodisp.pl?file=kairos&year=2010

The CCAR response states:

A close reading of Kairos reveals that it is anything but a document based on truth. Careful consideration of what it says and what it does not say, of the history it paints and the history it obfuscates, and of the moral yardstick it applies to Israel yet compromises in the face of Palestinian violence, reveals a morally inconsistent and theologically suspect document that speaks only part of the truth, and not always that.

Sadly, this document also rejects or ignores more than a half a century of Jewish-Christian rapprochement and takes its place among other Christian documents which, throughout history, have intended to delegitimize the Jewish people’s continuing Covenant with God, particularly by arguing that our Covenant has been superseded by Jesus and Christianity. Too often, such Church documents have been utilized as pretexts for our persecution, our expulsion, and even our attempted annihilation. Since the Shoah and World War II, and particularly beginning with Vatican II, the Jewish people has come to expect better from our Christian brothers and sisters….
The Kairos Document has been explicitly endorsed by a relative few Palestinian Christian leaders. [10] However, the acceptance and endorsement of this document by certain other individuals and church groups with whom we have enjoyed harmonious interfaith relations has been surprising, disturbing and profoundly disappointing.

For the contemporary Christian to ascribe to this supersessionist document would be saying to their Jewish neighbors and friends – indeed to the world – that Judaism has no validity as a covenant religion; that the pain and martyrdom endured by countless generations of Jews was for naught; that the world would have been better off without the religious, cultural, spiritual, social, scientific and educational contributions of Jewish people throughout ages; and that the God we worship and serve is no God at all. So many mainstream churches have rejected supersessionism, not only because of the centuries of persecution it has engendered, but because they believe it not to be true.

In short, those who would associate themselves with this document and the religious foundation upon which it is based would be erasing years of Christian soul searching and repentance as if they had not been. We expect more from our interfaith partners. We are forced to wonder whether these Church organizations do not recognize the supersessionist and anti-Semitic nature of the Kairos document or whether they no longer care to share interfaith dialogue with us.

Therefore, the Central Conference of American Rabbis:
1. Declares that Kairos is a factually, theologically and morally flawed document;
2. Insists that the document’s explicit supersessionism and inherent anti-Semitism prevent Kairos from providing a legitimate framework for interfaith dialogue and understanding;
3. Acknowledges with appreciation Kairos’ call to the Palestinian people to reject hate [11] (as we all must do), to follow the Christian commandment to “love both enemies and friends” and to resist “through respect of life,” as required by cited Christian Scriptures; [12]
4. Challenges the authors of Kairos to be true to the love and respect of life they endorse and the very scriptures they quote by rejecting as immoral and un-Christian the indiscriminate and deliberately targeted murder of Israeli men, women and children;
5. Again insists that such acts of murder, either as acts of revenge or with the specious designation of “legal Palestinian resistance,” [13] do indeed comprise terrorism, denounced by people of conscience throughout the world as an unacceptable tool for achieving political ends;
6. Asserts that the Jewish people’s right to national sovereignty in the Land of Israel is primarily established, not by subjective religious belief or fundamentalist reading of Hebrew Scriptures, but by a millennium of national existence and civilization there, followed, even in exile, by nearly two millennia of unbroken physical and spiritual support of and yearning for the Land;
7. Labels as theologically hypocritical and historically dishonest the assertion that the Palestinian people’s historic presence on the land establishes its right of return, [14] but that the Jewish people’s historic presence, dating back 3000 years, does not establish that very same right;
8. Calls on Christians of good faith to recognize the complexity of the Israeli-Arab conflict, which is complicated by territorial dispute as well as competing allegiances to sacred land, Palestinian suffering and Palestinian terror; and which must not be reduced, as Kairos’ authors do, to an assertion that the Jewish people are in the wrong and that the Palestinian cause is fully just;
9. Calls on all who have endorsed Kairos to look deeply into its words and honestly into their own souls and to recognize and forswear the flawed and distorted picture of reality it paints;
10. Serves notice that the CCAR would require serious reflection before continuing our common cause with any Church body or organization that endorses or continues to endorse Kairos;
11. Re-affirms our commitment to our continuing interfaith cooperation with Christian groups that affirm the continuing, unique Covenant between God and the Jewish people; and
12. Recommits itself to all worthy and legitimate endeavors to bring an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people, to be achieved through negotiations to establish a Palestinian State adjacent to and in cooperation with a secure Jewish State of Israel.
13. Urges our members to educate themselves on this matter and to seek opportunities to share concerns about the Kairos document with their local Christian colleagues and lay people.

I urge everyone to speak with their Christian friends about the Kairos document and to ask them to speak up against it to their church leaders. The Kairos Palestine Document and the inappropriate application of Liberation Theology to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have the potential to do tremendous harm to Jewish-Christian relations by mainstreaming age old prejudices, much less to do harm to the nation of Israel, the Jewish state.

We will not reach a righteous solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through political and economic pressure directed to achieve the same bad solution that has been tried through military means several times before, namely the creation of a single Arab dominated entity in place of Israel and a Palestinian state. Peace will not be found through the demonization of Jews or the Jewish state. It is sad to see people of faith, including too many religious leaders, trumpeting words of war as if they were words of peace.

7 comments:

Mod4 said...

Terrific post, Rabbi!

I got a chuckle from learning that the phenomenon is AKA "BDS" - which is also the acronym for Bush Derangement Syndrome, two afflictions with substantially overlapping populations.

Yasher koach!

Jerry Haber said...

Rabbi, I was directed to your post by a reader of my blog, the Magnes Zionist blog. He characterized it as "liberal Afrikaaner." I would prefer to call it the product of a tinok she-nisbah by Israeli and Zionist hasbarah. It recites the same old tired talking points that only Zionist Jews (and their evangelical Christian friends) bother to repeat anymore.

Fine, so BDS is not for you. I certainly can understand that. Americans for Peace Now have come out advocating what I call "Partial BDS", that is to say, divesting from American companies that make money from the Occupation, or boycotting factories and products produced in the settlements. Maybe that's too much for you, too.

What is sad is how many Reform Jews who are progressive on so many issues when it comes to the the US are mindlessly tribal when it comes to Israel, spouting the sort of half-truths and careful omissions that is endlessly repeated across the spectrum of American Zionists. Even J-Street, which opposes BDS, doesn't characterizes its opponents in such harsh terms, ignoring what they say, and impugning to them ridiculous motives like supercessionism (oh, come on), etc.

Fortunately, many of the youngsters of the Reform movement (those who are not thoroughly uninterested in Israel), are joining the ranks of the Israeli activists fighting the Israeli system of hafradah (in South Africa blacks and whites were allowed on the same roads -- even though there was considerable black violence against whites). These young people could care less about one state or two states -- what they care about is the continuing injustice of the Occupation. And they are not going to postpone the call for justice till some imagined peace comes along.

If the BDS movement is successful in getting Israel to take stock of its settlement program, even if many of the BDS people believe in one state, dayyenu.

Be-shalom

Jerry Haber
The Magnes Zionist Blog

http://themagneszionist.blogspot.com/2010/04/13-reasons-why-liberal-zionists-should.html

Rabbi Kaufman said...

Wow. It amazes me there is such a blindness as to what is going on. It is so acceptable to compare Israel with Nazis and Apartheid South Africa that people such as you have no qualms about calling a liberal rabbi who believes in a two state solution, an Afrikaaner. Having seen Mearsheimer's newest Judenhass piece, I guess that you feel emboldened to use that term.

Jerry, I don't believe in the "settlement enterprise." I believe that the vast majority of the West Bank needs to go to a Palestinian state. I believe that Palestinian claims to Jerusalem are actually LESS VALID than Israeli ones. Israel has at least proven that non-Jews are welcome accessing their holy sites the vast majority of the time. Under Jordanian rule, the Old City was Judenrein. What Jews in their right mind would feel comfortable parading through a Hamas controlled Old City, assuming they were allowed to enter it?

I assume that your position is that a two state solution won't work. It WILL work if the Palestinians are willing to live alongside a Jewish state assured of its security and Israel is willing to face the difficulty of extricating its radical settler population from positions that would make that impossible. I believe that Israel can and plans to do so if peace were the reward.

I am going to publish a piece on Mearsheimer's recent speech as well. I'm sure you'll love that article.

Rabbi Kaufman said...

I think it is also vital to note that of those Israelis who support BDS, many believe that BDS will force Israel to negotiate a two state solution, but it already did. The solution has been sitting there for two years. Some in the PA just don't like it because it doesn't give the PA the Old City and most of municipal Jerusalem. Others don't like it because it won't lead the the ultimate destruction of the Jewish state. Most of the Jewish supporters of BDS do not hope for a single state solution. The Palestinians promoting BDS do.

Jerry Haber said...

Rabbi,

You are probably much busier than I am (as a Jewish Studies academic who decided to forgo the rabbinate, I have enormous respect for those who devote their time to kelal yisrael). But may I ask you to look at some of my "Top Posts" on the Magnes Zionist blog. You see, for much of my adult life I held opinions almost identical to yours. But after living in Israel for thirty years, after reading books other than those on the hasbara approved list, and after seeing that each side is most interested in pointing fingers at each other than listening, I have decided to focus on one issue -- how to relieve the ongoing injustice against innocent Palestinians that occurs every second of every day -- in Jerusalem, in the West Bank, in Gaza, and in Israel proper.

I don't believe that peace and reconciliation will come. But I do know that when some people talk peace, other people suffer more injustice. And justice, not peace, is my present concern.

I have no interest in the the two-state/one state sterile debate. Rabbi, with all due respect, neither you nor most Jews support a real two-state solution. Oh, you say that you do, and I don't doubt your sincerity. But the first sacred responsibility of any state is to ensure the security of its people. And so any Palestinian state must, definitionally, have a strong military, or at the very least, a strong military alliance with a powerful country. Yet not even the Geneva Initiative, rejected by most Israelis, allows the Palestinians that.

Ask yourself the question: If you were David Ben-Gurion, would you have postponed the establishment of the state of Israel with a military force to protect it until such time as the Arabs consented to these terms? Would you have been willing to limit your sovereignty and control over your resources to quell the existential fears of a powerful Arab Palestinian state?

A demilitarized Palestinian state is a recipe for suicide bombing against Jewish civilians. The feelings of powerlessness, of emasculation and humiliation, of being branded the aggressor, all of which accompany the demand for demilitarization -- well, as one who served in the IDF, and whose four (orthodox) children in the IDF, including two officers, I cannot conceive of an Israeli state without a national source of pride. And yet we force the Palestinians to accept such a "state".

So if you want to give peace a chance, fine, if you want to spend your time blaming the other side, also fine. (For every synagogue "desecrated" by the Jordanians in Jerusalem, I can find you five mosques "desecrated" by the Israelis in Israel; ditto for graveyards. All this is a matter of historical record, articles have appeared in Haaretz and elsewhere, but much of it just doesn't reach American Jews. And, by the way, there is no open access to Muslim holy sites today in Jerusalem, nor has there been for some time. Under the rubric of "security" Israel often bans thousands of Muslims from visiting the Haram al-Sharif.)

The answer is not to point fingers but to think of the best way to administer the holy sites. And, in my opinion, the lessons of history are that neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis can have exclusive control. The Jordanians Islamicized the city when they were in charge; the Jews have Judaized it. The area of the holy city of Jerusalem to which Jews prayed for thousands of years is now only 1% of the total area of Jerusalem municipal borders! So who is Elie Wiesel kidding when he asks Obama to keep Jerusalem out of politics. If he really wanted to do that, he would take it out of the hands of both the Jews and the Arabs.

Be-shalom,

Jerry

Rabbi Kaufman said...

Shalom Jerry,

I think that right now, there is very little suicide bombing because of very effective Israel defenses including control of the Jordanian border and the complete security barrier. I think there is NO CHANCE that Israel would do anything to reduce those defenses significantly until it is clear that there will be no terrorist attacks when they do.

Right now, the assumption is that the more freedom Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizballah and other terrorist groups have to operate out of the West Bank, the more terror there will be. There is also a near certainty that the PA would be destabilized by them as well and likely fall to them. The PA needs, NEEDS, Israel to restrict the access of militants because it does not have either the ability or political will to do so. If that restriction doesn't happen, you can forget a stable government having anything to do with Fayad, who though liked by many in the West is considered to be a traitor for/stooge of the West or Abbas, who is considered a corrupt stooge of the West by the Palestinians and certainly by those fans of Hamas.

Israel is fighting a war to this day, because the Palestinians have never surrendered. What has instead happened is that many nations have used political means to prevent them from giving up the fight. The Arab League is not fighting for 1967 Jordan, but for the 1947 British Mandate.

It makes no sense for Israel to concede security for peace. In fact, it makes much more sense for Israel to become the pariah that many accuse it of being than to do that. If the Lefties of the world force Israel to concede security, it will become increasingly less likely to allow the creation of any state. In fact, the right wing will gain more and more power and the required peace WITH security becomes more distant. The result of Mearsheimer's beloved one state proposal is CIVIL WAR with thousands dead and many more thousands of refugees. Do you want that? That is the other option to the status quo on the one hand and a two state solution with a demilitarized Palestinian state on the other.

You write of ideals, but the realities on the ground need to be dealt with. It is becoming less and less likely with each passing day that the Palestinians will be able to achieve what Barak offered at Camp David. The Hamas takeover of Gaza proved two things, the majority of Palestinians do not support Abbas OR Fayad and that only Israeli control is effective at preventing arms smuggling. The UN has proven itself beyond incompetent in doing that. Those are exceedingly negative pieces of evidence for your argument. I almost forgot that JORDAN would LOATHE a heavily militarized Palestinian state on its border and Egypt would probably seal its own Gaza border to prevent that as well. Egypt already is working toward sealing its Gaza border and Jordan is more than afraid of a Palestinian uprising within its borders (70% Palestinian) triggered by the creation of a Palestinian state at all, much less a heavily militarized one.

Rabbi Kaufman said...

I believe that the only way out of this situation is for the Palestinians to agree to a Palestinian state whose borders are protected by Israel, which frankly would have to do it anyway, even if the PA had a full military. Israel's defensive airspace for example would extend well beyond the borders of a Palestinian state. Modern weaponry is simply too swift to allow for the borders that Israel had in 1967. It certainly could not allow for the massing of significant a military apparatus in the West Bank or Gaza. No, your contention, while certainly desired by the Palestinians and the Arab League as a whole, which desire Israel's elimination, could not possibly be tolerated by Israel and would be a non-starter in peace talks. Nothing, NOTHING, could be less negotiable than what you propose.

As for Jerusalem, the simple fact is that today in Jerusalem, Jews, Christians,and Muslims can pray in peace in their holy sites unless they threaten the ability of others to do so (including JEWS who would do so). Prior to 1967, Jews could not pray in peace in any territory controlled by Palestinians and had not been able to do so since at least the 1920s. We have seen the failure of every single international supervisory regime worldwide designed to prevent smuggling of arms and to provide security for all inhabitants. Israel has repeatedly been burned by such regimes.

Are Palestinians suffering? Yes, much more in Gaza than in the WB, but yes. Why? Because they have consistently refused to agree to a peace that makes sense and in doing so they have made the right wing in Israel stronger and stronger. Where we are headed now is toward a single state solution including equal rights for everyone who remains in the country and survives the civil war between the Jews and Arabs. If the Left and the Palestinians don't see that, they are blind. A two state solution is the only way to avoid it and the clock is ticking, not on the Israelis, but on the Palestinians.

-D