October 04, 2008

On Livni and Israeli politics

For all interested. I have an op-ed in Electronic Intifada this weekend:
        Livni: the making of an Israeli "dove"

Let me quote from the end of it:
The "Palestinian state" that Livni supports, a series of carved and convoluted Bantustans surrounded by walls and checkpoints, is not a compromise, however flawed, between Israeli and Palestinian nationalisms. It is a compromise between the need of affluent Israelis for international economic integration and the economic dependence of poorer Jewish constituencies on the continuation of the occupation. Palestinian aspirations are not part of this arrangement at all. They are expected to merely erase themselves from their lexicon. But this is not going to happen.

Now, pugnacious as I am, I have to strongly disagree with myself. It isn't only concern for integration with the Western world that drives the "Zionist Left" to support Livni. There is the fact that the occupation is expensive, even if it is still much cheaper that the alternative. There is also the very important question of regional integration. The benefits to Palestinians need not satisfy many Palestinians, but they should satisfy Saudis and other Gulf city states enough to get Israelis on the action. And finally, let us not forget (I'm speaking to myself) that affluent Israelis want an agreement that will cost them nothing. Given the huge disparity of wealth between Israelis and Palestinians, that is a tall order, and paying Ethiopean and Russian Jews to stand at unsavory chekpoints is--how shell we put it politely--pareto efficient.


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