I spoke at [the University of California at] Irvine about a year ago... You could see that there were three groups in the audience. A group on my left that were wearing blue and white, some of them were wearing kippot, some of them were waving an Israeli flag. There was a group on my right that were wearing Palestinian garb, anti-Israel shirts, and a very large group in the middle.
So I started off by saying, “How many of you identify yourselves as pro-Israel,” hands went up. “How many would identify yourselves as pro-Palestine,” hands went up. “I want to ask the pro-Israel people, how many of you accept a Palestinian state, a non-terrorist state, a demilitarized state living side by side in peace with Israel.” Every hand went up. I said, “I want to now turn to the pro-Palestinians. How many of you would accept a non-settlement, non-expansionist, peaceful state living side by side.” There was some mumbling, some discussion, but not a single hand went up.
As Pete says in his article, "The West Bank now features Palestinian leaders who are far more sincere about non-violence, and about the kind of two-state solution that Arafat did not grasp. And yet Israel has not responded with any meaningful halt in settlement growth." Indeed, the "Palestinian leaders" were always sincere about non-violence, and about their attitude towards the Jewish state - anyone can read the charters of PLO and Hamas. And indeed Israel should respond with a meaningful increase in "settlement growth" - just so that those "leaders" understand that Israelis are no longer willing to close their eyes to the nature of those "moderate Arab leaders". Just to make sure that my article is read in a proper context - during latest US visit to Israel, the Palestinian administration named a square after one of its homicidal terrorists. Indeed, if anything that proved once again that the "Palestinian leaders" are very open about their views - but for some reason Pete is not willing to believe their words and deeds. Why should the facts interfere with his theory that it's Jewish fault there is no peace in the Middle East?
So in the West Bank, at least, it’s hard to see how Arafat’s failures justify Israel’s continued encroachment onto Palestinian land—an encroachment that makes it ever harder to create a Palestinian state without provoking an Israeli civil war.
..it comes to Gaza, many Israelis have, understandably, been enraged by Hamas rocket fire. But the critics of my essay describe that rocket fire as if it is completely independent of Israeli policy. Let me be clear: I detest Hamas, as much for what it does to Palestinians as for what it does to Israelis. Fifteen years ago, the organization blew up a Jerusalem bus carrying a friend of mine, so I’m not inclined toward sympathy [notice how Peter uses the death of his friend as a shield - which is a liberal version of "How can anyone call me a racist if I have a black friend".]
Still, there was another path open to Israel and the U.S. after Hamas won the 2005 Palestinian elections. It was to support a Palestinian unity government that included Hamas and Fatah, committed itself to a cease-fire with Israel, and fudged the question of Israel’s right to exist by, for instance, endorsing the 2002 Arab League proposal that offered recognition in return for Israel’s withdrawal to 1967 borders [It also required ethnic cleansing of all Jews from Judea, Samaria and Gaza and the right of "return" to Israel of all relatives of Palestinian Arabs]. Such a unity government was possible: the Saudis actually brokered one in February 2007. Israel and the U.S. could have responded to it the way the U.S. responds to the Lebanese government that includes Hezbollah: We could have dealt with the non-Hamas ministers.
...after Hamas routed Fatah militarily, Israel slapped a brutal embargo on Gaza, one that has left its population overwhelmingly dependent on food aid, and which Israel did not substantially lift even when Hamas (mostly) abided by a cease-fire for much of 2008. None of this justifies rocket attacks on Sderot. But it does suggest that if Hamas attacks have hardened Israeli public opinion, some of the blame lies with Israel’s own leaders, who did not seriously pursue political—as opposed to military—solutions after the Palestinians did what the Bush administration had been demanding they do: hold a free election.
Finally, it’s hard to see how the misdeeds of Hamas, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmedinejad or anyone else in the Muslim world explain—let alone justify—Avigdor Lieberman’s campaign to delegitimize and disenfranchise Israeli Arabs, the vast majority of whom don’t support either Hezbollah or Hamas, and simply wish to be equal citizens of Israel.
Settler fanaticism is a cancer that has grown from within Israel; you can’t blame it on Ahmedinejad. Nor are Iran’s mullahs responsible for the fact that ultra-Orthodox Jews, who burn Christian holy books and assault women who try to pray at the Western Wall, have virtually taken over the city of Jerusalem. Their contempt for liberal values would have been problem enough had not the Israeli government bribed them with housing in the West Bank, thus joining their zealotry to the settlement enterprise. This too cannot be blamed on Hassan Nasrallah.
Leon, Jeff, Jon, Jamie, David and I are all Jews. In some sense, therefore, Israel’s crimes—unlike those of Hamas or Ahmedinejad—are committed in our name. We have a special obligation to expose and confront them. And we have a special obligation not to use the crimes of Israel’s enemies to excuse behavior that dishonors a Jewish state, and the Jewish ethical tradition that we all consider precious.