You don’t have to be Jewish…

… to love Levy’s Rye Bread, or a Zionist to hate Hamas.

… to love Levy’s, say the classic ads.


And you don’t have to be a Zionist to hate Hamas.

The proclamation that Hamas will never recognize the existence of any Israeli state, even within the 1967 borders is a declaration of war to the death. Under those circumstances, I know who ought to be doing the dying.

Yes, I understand why Fatah decided it had to make a deal with Hamas. But choices have consequences. International recognition of a Palestinian state should be conditional on the willingness of the leadership of that state to make peace, if peace is offered. Hamas lacks that willingness. When they change their mind, or Fatah is strong enough to kick them out of the coalition, then let’s talk about recognizing Palestine: whether Bibi is ready or not.

For now, though, if the Obama Administration was looking for a good excuse for a UN veto this September, they just found it.

Here’s a plan:  Lock al-Zahhar* and Avigdor Lieberman in a room, with one knife. Then all we need is someone to stand outside to shoot the survivor. After that, the peace process might go more smoothly.



Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

17 thoughts on “You don’t have to be Jewish…”

  1. Do you really mean to call for the death of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad? He has nothing to do with Hamas.

  2. “Then all we need is someone to stand outside to shoot the survivor. After that, the peace process might go more smoothly.”

    What if we ignored both of them, starting now, and made a deal with the *reasonable* people? 100% of people never agree on anything.

  3. But you do have to be a Zionist to let this deter you from seeking peace.

    Refusing to recognize Israel is the same official position Hamas has always had. Unless I am mistaken, opposing the existence of Israel is the official position of Syria to this day, not to mention Lebanon, Pakistan, and all the rest. And wasn’t this the official position of Anwar Sadat, right up until he was Israel’s best buddy?

    Opposing the existence of Israel is the core mission of Hamas. It is what the entire organization is built on. They can’t drop that goal until they have something to replace it with; it would be political suicide. And saying they are willing to recognize Israel in the future is pretty much the same as recognizing Israel. They sure as hell aren’t going to drop their core mission–in exchange for nothing–just to impress foreigners. Bibi will not return the favor. When an actual country and peace treaty is on the table, then Hamas will likely drop the conquest talk pretty quickly. I can’t read their minds, but that’s how it looks. With Hamas to openly accepting the 1967 borders, and promising a long-term ceasefire, they are taking the softest position they have ever held. They are promising peace while saving face.

    And I don’t see you–or anyone sane–proposing we cease to recognize Syria as a country (and murder their prime minister!). What I see is proposals to hand over the Golan Heights in exchange for recognition.

  4. So the problem with your position Chaz is that the Palestinians have already made and received mutual commitments from Israel, the key one being that the goal of negotiations is a two-state resolution of the conflict. In other words, Israel concedes that at the end of the negotiations it’s going to recognize a Palestinian state; and the Palestinians conceded that at the end of the negotiations they’re going to recognize Israel. Indeed the elections that eventually gave rise to whatever legal claim Hamas has to playing a part in a governing and negotiating authority for the Palestinians were held by an entity, the PA, whose very existence is based on these mutual concessions.

    So if the Palestinians decide they wish to withdraw the concession that the goal of negotiations is a two-state resolution of the conflict, then I suppose Israel could do the same; then they could all spend a lot of time renegotiating the current state of affairs and move forward (or not). But it can’t be that this goes only one way, i.e., that the Palestinians withdraw their concession that at the end of the day they’re going to recognize Israel while Israel is bound for some reason to maintain its concession that at the end of the day its going to recognize a Palestinian state. Both, or neither.

    More pragmatically, of course, it doesn’t exactly help confidence in the outcome of negotiations if one party decides at some point that it isn’t in fact bound by commitments it previously made. i suppose you could say Hamas didn’t make those commitments. True. But its position at the negotiating table is due to its constituency in an entity that did.

    I’m not saying by the way that Israel shouldn’t negotiate with Hamas. But the first point of such negotiations would be to re-affirm the current state of progress towards mutual recognition. Otherwise there’s nothing really to negotiate about. And Israel can’t be expected (and won’t) make any additional concessions above and beyond those it’s already made to achieve that state of affairs.

  5. Remember, Fatah insists on a right of return which–if taken literally–would be inconsistent with any two state solution. Nobody thinks that Fatah will budge on the right of return, but nobody thinks that Fatah will take it literally either.
    Hamas’ nonrecognition of Israel might be in the same category. I’m encouraged by this.
    The Fayyad-Lieberman proposal is inadequate. Both of them should be armed with hand grenades in their room. I think that Fayyad would use his. I’m not sure about Lieberman.

  6. If Hamas “refuses to recognize” the state of Israel in the same way that the People’s Republic of China “refuses to recognize” the Republic of China in Taiwan, that would be a big step up from the current situation.

  7. Well, that’s correct, giving the right to live in Israel to refugees from 1948 and their descendants isn’t compatible with a two-state resolution of the conflict. Something will have to be put together, e.g., acknowledgment of the pain caused to the refugees by the creation of the State; payment of restitution; etc. However, what Israel isn’t going to budge on is that any peace treaty that leads to the creation of a Palestinian Arab state marks the end of all further claims. Otherwise it isn’t a peace treaty.

    Actually I don’t think any movement forward by Hamas is going to be based on negotiations over these kinds of big existential issues state baldly. First is going to come negotiations over Gilad Shalit. Or maybe an actual end to terrorist attacks and random rocket and mortar fire from Gaza, coupled with greater flexibility by Israel in terms of movement in and out of the territory. Concrete things that enable confidence building if they succeed. This would give Hamas something to show its constituents; and whether or not it keeps its word would give Israel some confidence that they can actually be negotiated with.

  8. Well laid out Mark.

    On an abstract level, does it make sense to take seriously someone who makes it clear through their actions that they do not want to be taken seriously?

    Although there’s something Stranglove-esque about saying: “here’s a knife, for the good of the peace process.”

  9. Look: the idea that the Netanyahu government is interested in a two-state solution is risible. If it couldn’t cut a deal with the likes of Abbas and Fayyad, it’s simply not prepared to make a deal. Hell, it wouldn’t even agree to a temporary settlement freeze when the president of the United States begged for it. The peace process is dead. Fatah simply ran out of options.

  10. I used to respect this blog.

    Tell me something: Name the last unilateral confidence building measure the Israeli government has done, without a quid pro quo, just because it will induce concessions in the other side. No fair saying “they refrained from genocide” or something like that.

  11. birnbaum: You want Hamas to recognize Israel when negotiations end (I am indulging your absurd notion that there are actual peace negotiations under way), and maybe they will. But right now the negotiations are not over, so Hamas will not recognize Israel. Promising to recognize Israel in the future is effectively a recognition of Israel in the present. Let’s not play the bs “I’m going to announce my announcement soon” game that U.S. presidential candidates have started doing. Also, even if Hamas does refuse to recognize Israel in the end, and even if the treaty itself does not recognize Israel, that would still be a great achievement and a real peace. There are tons of countries in this world which do not recognize each other, and yet are at peace. As someone mentioned in response to Brad De Long’s own ridiculous post, Ireland does not recognize UK sovereignty over Northern Ireland. But there is a real peace and the two countries cooperate quite well.

    JohnN: They’ll say they withdrew from Gaza. So as a preemptive rebuttal, I would like to point out that Sharon himself said that he ordered the withdrawal because the Gaza settlements were worthless and a security liability, and that withdrawing them would help Israel to strengthen its hold on the major West Bank settlements. And he backed that up by expanding those settlements and building a giant wall in the middle of the West Bank.

  12. I also want to reiterate that you have to consider internal Palestinian politics. Hamas cannot go around making unrequited concessions. If they recognize Israel and get nothing for it, a more hardline faction will eat their lunch. Look what happened to Fatah. And don’t think Hamas is as hardline as it gets; there’s always a crazier guy waiting in the wings.

    The same is true in Northern Ireland: at one point the dominant Catholic and Protestant parties were relatively moderate, and this left their flanks open to hardliners. Britain didn’t give them much for their trouble and so the more hardline parties forced the moderates aside. Fast forward, Britain grows up and does a deal–even though they now have to work with a much less reasonable set of Irishmen–and things get a lot better. Woulda been even better if they’d done it with the moderates still around.

  13. Chaz, I don’t think you understood my point but since I believe I explained it clearly there’s no point in repeating myself. In any case I hope you have a good lawyer handy whenever you have any serious negotiating to do.

  14. Normally, when two parties negotiate, let’s say like management and unions, its helpful for the respective sides to have a pretty good idea as to what the goals for each are. We can make some reasonable assumptions about Israeli goals, but I contend we are clueless about the Palestinian goals.

    We know now that Arafat’s goal was to have perpetual negotiations, choosing death from old age over an assassin’s bullet the day after signing a peace agreement.

    What has changed since ’04? I don’t see how you can have a successful “micro” situation, peace agreement between Israel & a Palestinian State, without a change in the “macro” situation, the greater Middle East Muslim Ethos.

    Unless you have peace between Muslims and Jews, you can’t have peace between Israel and a Palestinian State.

    How about some realistic study and analysis as to what, if not a majority, at least a large plurality, of Muslim society feels about this issue. Call me a bigot, but I don’t see the goal of young Muslim males getting an education, getting married, raising a family, and living in peace being the primary goal actively promulgated by M.E Muslim adults.

  15. I dunno’. The refusal of the weaker party to relent on a key demand in the face of a more powerful opponent who serially bargains in bad faith merely because it can get away with it in order to press a larger aggressive agenda does not strike me as irrational. At least that’s what my attorney advises.

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