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The Israel-Palestinian Conflict Needs a Political, Not a Legal, Solution

Sept. 14 2017

Surveying some of the recent debates among Israeli intellectuals about the possibilities of a lasting peace agreement with the Palestinians, Peter Berkowitz criticizes those who, out of frustration with the political-diplomatic process, want to use the law—usually expressed in the dubious claim that international law renders any Israeli presence in the West Bank illegal—to force a resolution:

[This line of argumentation] illuminates the dangerous propensity of liberal democracies, against which Tocqueville warned 180 years ago, to transform political questions into legal ones.

The “juridification of politics”—to borrow a term from the French thinker Alexandre Kojève—erodes citizens’ civic habits by depriving them of the opportunity to resolve political controversies through democratic give-and-take. It also distorts those controversies, which are inextricably bound up with conflicting interests and perceptions, contingent events, and prudential judgments. To subject them to legal reasoning that purports to yield rational, objective, and necessary judgments is to pretend that one right answer is available for disputes that can only be managed through compromise and mutual accommodation. . . .

American efforts to ease the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should [instead] focus on making peace more valuable to Palestinians by promoting in the West Bank the protection of rights; popular rule; and industrialization, commerce, and trade. [But] the challenge is likely to remain vexing. That’s because the means available to the United States—as well as to Israel, surrounding Arab nations, Europe, and the world community—to transform Palestinian ethnic and social bonds, cultural judgments, and religious beliefs are quite limited.

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: International Law, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Peace Process

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC