Sunday, June 13, 2010


Tony Judt recently published a short but essential opinion piece at the New York Times in which he attempts to clarify six principal myths heavily represented in the typical discourse about the Middle East conflict.

While touching on the core of the matter - from the "Israeli exception" of being a democracy governed primarily by former professional soldiers, to Gaza's democratic status, and to the questions of Palestine's use of terrorism and Israel's missed opportunities - Judt refutes stale truisms to inject critical pragmatism into the discussion.

The Myths:
1-Israel is being/should be delegitimized
2-Israel is/is not a democracy
3-Israel is/is not to blame
4-The Palestinians are/are not to blame
5-The Israel lobby is/is not to blame
6-Criticism of Israel is/is not linked to Anti-Semitism

Some Highlights:
-on Israel's disproportionate responses: "Unsurprisingly, the state has acquired pathological habits. Of these, the most damaging is its habitual resort to force. Because this worked for so long [...] Israel finds it difficult to conceive of other ways to respond. And the failure of the negotiations of 2000 at Camp David reinforced the belief that “there is no one to talk to.” But there is. As American officials privately acknowledge, sooner or later Israel (or someone) will have to talk to Hamas. [...] Israel will negotiate with Hamas: the only question is why not now."

-on the Israel lobby's power in DC: "...The Israel lobby is disproportionately influential. Why else do an overwhelming majority of congressmen roll over for every pro-Israel motion? No more than a handful show consistent interest in the subject. It is one thing to denounce the excessive leverage of a lobby, quite another to accuse Jews of “running the country.” We must not censor ourselves lest people conflate the two."

-Israel as #1 threat to US security: "Israel is now America’s greatest strategic liability in the Middle East and Central Asia. Thanks to Israel, we are in serious danger of “losing” Turkey [...] Without Turkey, the United States will achieve few of its regional objectives — whether in Iran, Afghanistan or the Arab world. The time has come to cut through the clichés surrounding it, treat Israel like a “normal” state and sever the umbilical cord.

- Amy Greene