Thursday, March 19, 2009

Did anyone mention negotiations?

Moshe Yaroni, a pseudonymous blogger (his icon is the pre-State Zionist essayist Ahad Ha'am) who obviously has deep knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and regional history, has written a number of revealing and well-argued analytical essays on current events in the Middle East for the Website

Most recently, in a column provocatively titled "Where's the Love?," Yaroni has commented on the public spat between David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, and the New York Times columnist Roger Cohen. Cohen has drawn the ire of Harris and other right-leaning commentators for a series of op-eds about Israel and Iran that challenge the usual positions taken by New York Times editorialists. In February, Cohen wrote in the NY Review of Books that, after the Gaza assault, he had "never previously felt so despondent about Israel, so shamed by its actions, so despairing of any peace that might terminate the dominion of the dead in favor of opportunity for the living." Harris took issue with Cohen in a NYRB letter in which he asked what Cohen would have Israel do about Hamas.

As Moshe Yaroni points out in his own response to Harris's question, Israel's decision to wage an enormously destructive campaign in Gaza was not only morally indefensible even by the Israeli military's own standards (this was the conclusion of an IDF report published in Haaretz in mid-February <>), but it was a strategic failure from a variety of perspectives, not least because it loosened Hamas's grip on rogue military factions in Gaza that are now firing rockets at Israel once again, and it resulted in the breakdown of regional alliances from which Israel has benefited, including its historically friendly relationship with Turkey. As Yaroni points out, there are other approaches that undeniably would have yielded much greater benefit for Israel (did anyone mention official negotiations?), and even to have done nothing would have been more beneficial and less costly to Israel's security and moral standing, and to Palestinians' lives.

Yaroni's perceptive analysis can be found here:

--Lincoln Shlensky

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