Obama proposes 1967 borders and a “demilitarized” (?) Palestine

The President has proposed that Israel return to its 1967 borders and the two-state solution….with the proviso that the new state,Palestine, be “demilitarized” while, it goes without saying, Israel, will continue to be the best-armed state in the region.

What would a “demilitarized” state be other than the punching bag for Israel’s US-funded, well-armed military that the Gaza statelet already is? And wouldn’t “demilitarization” simply encourage Palestinians to form self-defense units, as they already have, which would continue to “defend” their communities by firing rockets into Israel, using Israel’s 1967 equation, that offense and defense are the same?

Politicians treat words as bargaining chips but part of the problem has always been Israel’s tribal disregard for international law. With regards to its own rights, Israel has spoken “the jargon of authenticity”, Adorno’s phrase for self-interested language that pretends to be the only acceptable language: Heidegger’s “language of Being”: existential language that treats any alternative as evil since it’s a threat to one’s oh so very Authentic existence.

Here, Israel needs to be reassured that Palestine would not have the full national sovereignty that Israel enjoys because part of national sovereignty is, under the UN Charter, the right of self-defense…which I’d imagine a “demilitarized” state would not have.

The United States will not guarantee the safety of a demilitarized Palestine from further Israeli aggression. This is a prescription for continued war.

To create a new state you need to figure out how it will preserve itself or be preserved: when Britain participated in the creation of Belgium in 1830, it guaranteed its neutrality and went to war on behalf of Belgium in 1914.

Closer to our own time, the late Richard Holbrooke moved heaven and earth to enable Croatia to defend itself in 1995. He didn’t like the Croatians in the slightest, but he and his fellow diplomats nonetheless saw to it that a private firm armed and trained the Croatian military sufficiently for it to resist Serbia, which ended the first Bosnian war.

Since the Middle East is even more of a “bad neighborhood” than the Balkans, it is folly to require that a new Palestine be demilitarized without guaranteeing its existence with Western forces…to the level that the Israeli military is being bankrolled by the United States.

The message as received by the Arab world is still, as it was in 1948, that our little brown brothers can’t handle guns: that a Belgian or Croatian is worth more than a Palestinian. Politicians confuse pragmatism here (what will be accepted by an Israel which has already rejected the basis of Obama’s proposal, the return to 1967 borders) with lack of imagination and the inability to learn from history.

Israeli policymakers won’t even name what it is they want, any more than Israel will write a constitution (Israel’s immature status as a tribe that seeks statehood and full humanity only for the Authentic members of the tribe is the cause of these two quirks). “Eretz Yisroel” is presented as a demand only from the Israeli right but as the most rugged, tribal, and Authentic demand, it pulls the rest of Israel along with it.

The result is that the sloppy meanings of words to the least common denominator drives policy.

If Palestine is to be a nation, it needs to be a signatory of the United Nations charter. As a signatory it will have the right of self-defense. Therefore it cannot be “demilitarized”.

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