Streams

Path to Peace in the Middle East

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Peace in the Middle East is one of the most pressing items on President-Elect Obama’s long to-do list. Former Speaker of the Knesset Avraham Burg says that Israel must move on from a Holocaust mentality in order to accomplish a lasting peace in the region. His new book is The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise From its Ashes.

Event: Avraham Burg will be answering questions on WNYC's Art.Cult blog as part of the New York Public Library’s “Live” series! Submit your questions here.

Guests:

Avraham Burg

Comments [45]

tony from meridale, ny

There will never be peace in the Middle East. That's quite obvious.
Camp David, Roadmap etc etc.
It would be nice if money grew on trees, if the was no more sickness in the world, if there was a god who cared and showed he cared. I could go on. Sometimes you need a little hint of evidence that your wishful thinking could come true, or is true.

With regards to Israel and the Palestinians, there are generations of bad blood that can't be ignored. There are 100 reasons that there will never be peace and not one convincing one that there will be.

If all the hot air from the talk shows discussing peace in the Middle East could be harnessed and turned into something productive...

Dec. 05 2008 10:01 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Mike,

Funny that when you finally present a "fact" it is so wrong as to be a joke.

Mike writes, "That is, if you consider the half of the Israelis who advocated settling Gaza & the West Bank to be fanatics, which I do."

After Gaza was stolen by Egypt, it was liberated by Israel. Most polls show that the large majority of Israelis are against any of the settlements, but you repeat more anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish untruths by saying otherwise. As far as your term fanatics go, last time I checked, Jews don’t strap bombs to their own children and then blow up their own children. I would reserve the term fanatics for those who accept blowing up their own children as the norm.

Dec. 04 2008 12:12 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Mike,

When you disagree with fellow Americans do you usually say, "leave the country"? Try discussing ideas bro, but telling someone to move to another country is just kind of a silly and unoproductive strategy.

Mike write, "Israel cannot live without making peace with its neighbors." So again Mike, could you please point to a single peace initiative offered or suggested by the Palestinians, ever? I can't, but I can name many Israeli ideas that they have been offered either verbally and even in writing in some cases.

Mike, instead of asking you to move to another country which seems to be your strategy, I ask you to support your ideas with facts. Good luck with that bro!

Dec. 04 2008 12:06 PM
Mike from Inwood

Peter from Sunset Park states: "What you really mean is that Arab countries that scorn Israel need to get over it. You can't expect Israel to fix everything."

Does it look like the Arabs are going to 'get over it'? No, it looks like their obstinance will eventually win. The Palestinians may be cutting off their noses to spite their faces in order to do so, but we cannot control other peoples' bad decisions.

Dec. 04 2008 11:34 AM
Mike from Inwood

Megan, [15] That's quite a revision of history. Eventually, you will wear people like me down and win the argument, but the comfort you find by clinging to your illusions won't last forever.

Dec. 04 2008 11:30 AM
Mike from Inwood

Peter from Sunset Park obsesses on proving he's better than the other guy, so he must be right: "Burg isn't missed here in America either. The sad part is that the Palestinians don't seem to have any Burg's of their own. At least Jewish culture tolerates differences of opinion. My guess is that an Arab Burg would wake up dead if he expressed such worries about Palestinian culture and politics as Burg does about Israel."

Peter: Feel free to move back to Israel. You will not be missed either.

Dec. 04 2008 11:01 AM
Mike from Inwood

Peter from Sunset Park states: "Israel is in moral trouble? I can't think of a more moral country."

Yes, Israel is in moral trouble, as is almost every state on this planet as well as the Palestinians, too. Simply because the Israelis (or the Americans) have a public discussion before and after they act doesn't make their immorality any better.

Dec. 04 2008 11:00 AM
Mike from Inwood

Peter from Sunset Park asks: "Oh Mike, Is it really your contention that there is no Palestinian state becuase of a few Israeli fanatics?"

Yes, Peter, it is. That is, if you consider the half of the Israelis who advocated settling Gaza & the West Bank to be fanatics, which I do.

There is no path to peace for a Greater Israel. Israel cannot live without making peace with its neighbors. As long as there is war, Israel will be dependent on US aid, which will not last forever.

Instead of using the past few decades to come to some sort of peaceful arrangement with the Arabs, the Israelis have dug their heels in.

I do not say this because I'm anti-Israeli. My remarks are not about blame. The past is the past. I say these things because I want a future where Israel survives as an independent country. The path the Israeli leadership has chosen will result in the destruction of Israel, sooner or later. As a friend, I consider it responsible to say something before it's too late, although as my previous comments mentioned, it may be too late already.

Dec. 04 2008 10:55 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Andy,

Burg isn't missed here in America either. The sad part is that the Palestinians don't seem to have any Burg's of their own. At least Jewish culture tolerates differences of opinion. My guess is that an Arab Burg would wake up dead if he expressed such worries about Palestinian culture and politics as Burg does about Israel.

Dec. 04 2008 10:01 AM
Andy Levy-Stevenson from Israel

I'm listening to a podcast of yesterday's show, which is why this comment is a little late.

Burg is an attractive guest for an American radio or TV show; he's eloquent, his English is excellent, and he appears reasonable and empathetic.

But it's important to note that Burg is representative of practically no one in Israel; he is a marginal figure who is largely ignored. What status he has stems from his family name, and he is a sad and ragged remnant of that family.

I can't adequately sum up the Israeli view of Burg, but I'd recommend an interview that appeared in Haaretz about 6 months ago.

http://preview.tinyurl.com/2yskyz

One quote, from a long article that also expressed real admiration for some of Burg's qualities, is notable:

"I was outraged by the book. I saw it as a turning away of an Israeli colleague from our shared Israeliness. I saw it as a one-dimensional and unempathetic attack on the Israeli experience."

The interviewer was Ari Shavit, a journalist who is firmly on the Left (and of course, Haaretz is the most left-wing paper in Israel). In other words, Burg was criticized not only by the right-wing, who have loathed him for years, but also by those who should be his natural constituency.

Burg has removed himself from Israeli society ... and he isn't missed.

Dec. 04 2008 09:35 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Alex,

Israel is in moral trouble? I can't think of a more moral country. For example, compare Israel to the Palestinians. Palestinians raise their children that strapping bombs to their backs and blowing up children is normal. And you say Israel has the problem. That is funny.

Dec. 04 2008 08:00 AM
Alex from westchester

ecce - your comments make sense to me. I don't share your views on every point, but the bottom line is this: Israel is in deep political and moral trouble. It's internal contradictions represent a crisis: is Israel a democracy committed to human rights for all in the 21st century model; or a ethnic-religious-nationalist state of the 19th century model.

Burg is trying to confront these problems. Peter exemplifies a point of view I find among many of my friends and family: Israel is right. Period.

Note the McClatchy headline today "Radical Jewish settlers threaten to fight Israeli army"
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/56995.html

Isreal is in trouble, and struggling with deep internal tensions, just as Burg says. Pretending otherwise doesn't make it so.

Dec. 04 2008 06:52 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Ecce,

Your obsession with Irag is really intense today. Israel weening itself off of the US payroll is hardly going it alone. For decades, this was part of the Israel debate before Palestinian terror took over. Suggesting that finding ways to survive without American money is "going it alone" is just another way for you to obsess about Iraq. Word games and word play do not solve issues.

Dec. 03 2008 08:01 PM
ecce

I don't think anyone expects Israel to "fix everything." I do think, given the amount of assistance we provide to Israel annually, that it would be wise to consider the possibility that in an economic downturn (understatement of the year), the US will no longer be calling the shots with regard to that assistance.

In other words, no more carte blanche, even though I'm sure no one in Israel feels that they've been given carte blanche to begin with. Yes, they've faced tough choices, but they haven't always picked the smart choices that allow them to live in a so-called "sea of Arabs." Anyone in this country since 2003 could relate to the "poor choices" bit.

When the sands shift, it's better to take note than to deny it is happening... everyone on this board acknowledges the reality that Israel faces a series of less-than-ideal dancing partners. Unfortunately, the charmlessness of your partners doesn't get you out of the compulsory dance sequence.

As for Israel going it alone, well, that sounds a bit like what got this country into hot water (and no small amount of debt) starting in 2003. Unilateralism doesn't wear well even on a superpower - I'd hardly wish it on a tiny state like Israel.

One of Philip Roth's characters once wrote that the continuation of the state of Israel would result in a larger number of Jewish casualties than the Holocaust. I always thought it was hyperbolic. God only knows.

Dec. 03 2008 07:52 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Ecce,

Frankly, you seem pretty out of touch with reality. You say that Israel needs to work well with its neighbors. Israel gets along much better with Egypt, Jordan and other Arab countries then they get along with each other.

What you really mean is that Arab countries that scorn Israel need to get over it. You can't expect Israel to fix everything.

Dec. 03 2008 07:09 PM
ecce

"Israel will take care of itself, with or without America."

Less a statement of what has already been proved, than a hopeful wish. It is also counter to the reality of statehood.

The truth is that no state, and no person, can live isolated from the rest of the world. Contrary to experience, Israel is well-suited to working with its immediate neighbors and the rest of the world, and has much to offer.

But a mindset that aims for total independence from any other state is both unrealistic and self-destructive.

Our power in the US is waning. As a result, Israel needs to learn to work with its difficult neighbors. No one is pretending the Israelis aren't the better part of the equation - but at this point, there is no state that can or will provide the unquestioning assistance that the US has, until now, provided.

Dec. 03 2008 06:57 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Ecce,

I supposed I just don't fear the future. Israel will take care of itself, with or without America. Your argument is just one of many that could be made.

One could also say that it is the Palestinians who are running out of time. Every terrorist attack, 9/11, Spain, India, shows terrorism more and more for what it is, a rotten endeavor that liberals have made the mistake of overtly or tacitly approving.

I simply do not accept your fear, time table or alarmist view that Israel has its back against the walls.

Only time will tell.

Dec. 03 2008 06:31 PM
ecce

"One day, maybe in a year, maybe in 30 years, the Palestinians are gonna wake up and say, "We want peace and will give up terror and the so called right of return for statehood." When that happens, things will move forward."

Does the Bush strategy you have endorsed, of ignoring the Palestinians, allow for that generous 30-year window you apparently take as a given? I mean, will Israel, at this rate, still be in existence in 30 years?

Will any of us, for that matter?

I'm just suggesting that, instead of calling out everyone who disagrees with you as an angler or possessing a false view of history, it might better serve your interests to consider that the last eight years have not, in any tangible way, provided more security for Israel. It's also worth asking yourself how much of the billions we provide to Israel, (which I expect we will continue to provide and with good reason) but how much of that money will continue to flow without preconditions from the countries from which we borrow the cash to give to Israel?

What is the strategic importance of Israel to either China or Russia? Because, in reality, your passion will have to comprise the reality of their growing power... and their apparent lack of concern for American projects.

Dec. 03 2008 06:27 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Ecce,

Again, you try and frame a conversation by one view. Before it was Iraq, now you say it is only numbers that matter. Sorry bro, your rules of discussion don't interest me. Your angels and your rules are just silly bro. Specifically, make your points, but don't expect anyone else to ask your permission to continue talking. You gotta grow up.

Israel and the Palestinians have a deep rooted conflict. It will only change when the Palestinians want change. It is like therapy, we can't want something for someone more then they want it themselves. Israel, the US, and the world wanted peace and Palestinian statehood for so long that we forgot to ask the Palestinians what they wanted.

They wanted, and in large part, still do want the end of Israel. The right of return is no mere sticking point, it is a failed attempt to destroy Israel.

Ignoring the Palestinians have given them the chance to figure things out for themselves. They figured out that when the so called "moderates" argue and bicker and split votes, the terrorists such as Hamas will waltz into office. They figured out that continuing Arafat's terror as negotiating tool policy isn't working any more. One day, maybe in a year, maybe in 30 years, the Palestinians are gonna wake up and say, "We want peace and will give up terror and the so called right of return for statehood." When that happens, things will move forward.

But make no mistake about it, Palestinians need to want it on their own. We can't want if for them.

Dec. 03 2008 05:51 PM
ecce

"Bush has done many things wrong, but ignoring the Palestinians has been PERFECT. Ignore terrorists until they stop terrorizing. Sounds good to me."

That sounds like a good idea to me, too. But what are the results? Is Israel safer now? Has terrorism decreased significantly? Does it enjoy better or worse relations with its neighbors in the middle east as a result of this and other Bush policies, including the "ignore them, they'll go away" policy?

Specifically, what are the results? And by that I mean, what are the numbers?

Dec. 03 2008 05:29 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Alex,
With all do respect, Israel didn’t start real negotiations until AFTER Rabin. Ehud Barak (after Rabin) and Bill Clinton offered the Palestinians a plan that was so fair and good that many Arab nations said “take it.” You really have your history wrong there.

Of course Jordan was the enemy of the Palestinians. They stole the West Bank and treated Palestinians like cattle (and still do). By the way, I do deny that Israel has been unjust and brutal. I think that is just rhetoric and out of touch with reality. Palestinians strap bombs to people and target Jewish children. Israel says, “no way.” Sounds fair to me. Israel offers statehood and Palestinians offer suicide bombers.
You forget that Israel and the US lead for almost two decades on peace talks. The Palestinians only said no and NEVER MADE A COUNTER OFFER. Israel gave the Palestinians Gaza and the Palestinians have used it only for terror.
Bush has done many things wrong, but ignoring the Palestinians has been PERFECT. Ignore terrorists until they stop terrorizing. Sounds good to me.

Dec. 03 2008 04:45 PM
Alex from westchester

What you say is true, Peter. Arafat's flat rejection of the Barack/Clinton plan in 2000 is illustrative of the failure of Palestinian vision and the primitive nature of their politics.

Currently, of course, the situation is dominated by the Fatah/Hamas split. Neither side can be caught dead negotiating with the Israelis.

It is unclear, however, that Israel has negotiated in good faith since the death of Rabin. Tiny extremist parties adhere to the "not one grain of sand" position; the blast walls and jews-only roads partition the West Bank; and extremist jews "settle" palestinian land.

Even Sharon ultimately recognized that this policy is non-sustainable. While Israel is a profoundly more evolved and multi-faceted society than the present Palestinian one, it seems to me that there is the same paralysis taking hold.

Many of my Israeli friends - some of them very far to the right of me - express a kind of uncertainty about Israel's future that would have seemed insane 20 years ago.

We need a creative solution. I think the demonization of arabs and muslim people - very popular in the US these days - is a mistake.

I have a number of Palestinian friends. In the 80's my closest friend - a physician and thoughtful man - shocked me when he told me that Jordan, not Israel, was the enemy of the Palestinian people, and explained why.

No Palestinian would say that today. Israel's policies have been unjust and brutal. To deny this is to ignore a critical constituency of educated Palestinians - and there are many of them - who were being brought on board until Rabin was murdered (to the joy of the extreme Israeli right).

The issue now is what it has always been, IMO: the security and survival of Israel. If there is to be a credible peace, the US & Israel must lead - precisely because the palestinian/arab "leadership" is what it is.

Thanks for listening.

Dec. 03 2008 04:36 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Esse,

Being an "Angler" is a very common term, especially in gambling, for someone who looks for ways to win that really aren't on the up and up. You have a habit of doing so during discussions. For example, today you informed me that all political discussions must revolve around Iraq. So, anything anyone says to you, you pronounce as wrong if it doesn't agree with your view that Iraq was a mistake. That is an angle, and frankly, I think it is a silly angle, but that is how you roll bro.
Esse, not everyone in life is going to agree with you. Angling won't help the matter.
It is not your fault though.

The world is pushing Israel into a corner and people pushed in corners often respond in ways that others don't like. For example, in the nineties, people like regular WNYC guest Fawaz Gerges regularly called on Egypt and Jordan to give pieces of land to the Palestinians because of their major role in stealing from the Palestinians (Egypt stole Gaza and Jordan stole the West Bank). But WNYC is scared of offending their liberal listeners, so they forget that most Palestinian suffering has come at the hands of Arabs and Europe, not Jews. WNYC forgets that only 10 years ago, it was accepted that Egypt and Jordan along with Israel had to make peace with the Palestinians. Now, because Israel is so demonized, WNYC allows itself to fall into the "blame Israel" mold.

WNYC doesn't try to act as anti-Semites, but their actions are anti-Semitic. When it comes to Israel, most liberals are intellectually lazy and forget why the map is drawn the way it is.
Israel never wanted a war, they accepted statehood in 1948, Arabs declared war. Israel didn't want Gaza and the West Bank in 1967, but how many times can Arabs use those lands to bomb Israel before Israel says, "We will take this land and hold it until you stop killing us."

I love WNYC, but on Israel, they are weak and their intellectual laziness is just another form of anti-Semitism.

Dec. 03 2008 04:34 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Alex,

I appreciate your comments, but my point was that the PALESTINIANS have never offered anything. Egypt and others can't make offers for the Palestinians. The Israelis made offer after offer at the end of the Clinton presidency and the Palestinians NEVER made a counter offer - not one time.

Dec. 03 2008 04:19 PM
Alex from westchester

Peter:

You've got a reasonable point, IMO - voices for peace in the arab world are tenuous. But your contention that there is not a "single offer" is grossly incorrect.

Anwar Sadat, of course, made a credible peace offer, that has survived for nearly thirty years -to Isreal's great gain.

Mamhoud Bergouti was an active participant in the Oslo peace process, and cultivated close ties with many Israelis. He is now serving a life prison term on tenuous terrorism charges - possibly because he represented a moderate voice that rightists like Sharon wanted silenced.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia offered full recognition of Israel in return for return to the 1967 boundaries.

So there are three.

Even if there were none, "look what the arabs did" fails to justify violent and unjust policies by the Israeli state, IMO.

Dec. 03 2008 03:00 PM
ecce

Peter,
you have no argument from me that the Palestinians are tough to deal with. And I sympathize with fed-up Israelis, if not with Americans who invent names for me, such as Angler.
But Israel has to find a way to deal with the Palestinians that actually works, in the face of demographics that, frankly, aren't in Israel's favor, and a waning US superpower that won't be able to afford to support Israel in the same way it has in the past.
It's not going to be easy.

Dec. 03 2008 02:57 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Alex,

Israel is a country of laws. When laws are broken, Israelis put Israelis in jail. Like in all countries, sometimes the criminals find ways to stay free.

Palestinians have two governments and very little law. Arafat himself said to Dennis Ross that he could not accept peace because his own people would kill him and he would be unable to stop it.

You are trying to draw a moral equivalency between a handful of Israelis and a Palestinian culture of suicide bombings, martyrs and death. Maybe that works in your liberal circles, but in the real world, it is like a paper ashtray, it doesn't sell itself.

Dec. 03 2008 02:54 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Ecce,

I agree with you, pragmatic Israelis (which is most of the country) have had peace shouted down...by Palestinians. We agree that peace has been rejected...by Palestinians. Blowing children up eating ice cream is much easier for the Palestinians then negotiating.

The Israseli's have gone to the Palestinians with numerous offers of peace, most notably, at the end of the Clinton years in office.

Can you name a single offer the Palestinians have ever made the Israelis? Just one bro.

Of course not.

I am sure that Ecce the Angeler will find a way to ignore the question, because admitting that the Palestinians have never actually said to the Israelis, "This is what we want and then there will be peace" would be the same as admitting that the Palestinians really don't want peace.

Dec. 03 2008 02:50 PM
Alex from westchester

Megan:

Here are some instances behind my characterization:

a recent article in Haaretz cited an official Israeli intelligence warning that rightist Israeli jews posed an increasing danger of terrorism directed at other Jews.

On the west bank, assualts by "settlers" on arabs up to and including murder are routine, and typically receive leniant punishment, if any.

The murderer of Rabin is celebrated as a national hero by 30% of Israelis, according to a recent poll, and celebrated the 4th anniversary of Rabins murder by holding the bris of his son on the same date (the killer married while in prison and enjoys conjugal visits).

There are innumerable instances of heinous conduct on the arab side, to be sure. But Israel faces a dire internal threat from messianic fanatics, in my view.

Thanks for listening.

Dec. 03 2008 02:46 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Oh Mike,

Is it really your contention that there is no Palestinian state becuase of a few Israeli fanatics? Oh yeah, and of course Arafat refused statehood because he preferred war. There was that too!

If Bill Clinton, Dennis Ross and others put the blame squarely on the Palestinians, that should tell you something. Or were they fanatics too?

Dec. 03 2008 02:40 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Megan,

You wrote, “Burg is naturally the darling of anti-Semites...and the milder ones who hide under the cover of loving Jews but hating ‘Zionists.’” You said that very well. I am sincerely impressed.

Mike and others:

Supporting settlements for most Israelis wasn't about a land grab, it was about controlling tactical positions and having a chip to bargain with. The settlements are the front lines in a war that never ends. The Jews who live in most of the settlements are literally the front line against hostile Arabs. Remember, the territories were captured by Israel from Egypt and Jordan. You see, Arabs were stealing from Palestinians long before Israel got involved. The Palestinians never accepted a two state solution, so Israel liberated Gaza and the West bank and said to the Palestinians, “Here is the land that was stolen from you by your Arab brothers, now lets talk peace and end this thing.”

It is a shame that Palestinians have put anger and pride before a future for their children at every step of the way. For example, Israel gave Gaza to the Palestinians as a test handover of the land. Did the Palestinians build schools, universities, malls, medical clinics and parks? No, they knocked everything down and used Gaza as a terrorist bomb launching ground.

The only people standing in the way of Palestinian statehood are Palestinians and other Arabs.

And of course, folks like Mike make things up that Palestinians would get land and no water, but the Palestinians and Israelis would have figured that out so fast your head would spin. They had committees for water and electricity that by all accounts had plans ready for a real and viable Palestinian state.

Dec. 03 2008 02:38 PM
Mike from Inwood

Do you want names? How about Meir David Kahane or Barack Goldstein? The fanaticism of the religious right in Israel dwarfs the nuts in the GOP here.

Dec. 03 2008 02:24 PM
Mike from Inwood

I would call anyone who advocated settlement of the territories after the 1973 war "fanatic hotheads". This was roughly half of all Israelis. Unfortunately you seem to be correct: Not only is Israel is dying for peace, but it looks as though it will continue to do so.

Dec. 03 2008 02:20 PM
megan from Park Slope

Please present us with some facts to support the statement that Israel is "dominated by increasingly fanatic hotheads"?

I think that sentiment comes from ignorance at best (ala the dismissive "a pox on both your houses")

Anyone who knows anything about Israel, it's present politics etc... know Israel is literally dying for peace,,,

Be more specific about which Israeli policies are "evil" - was it the uprooting of Israeli communities or the withdrawl from Gaza?

Dec. 03 2008 02:14 PM
Mike from Inwood

Peter from Sunset Park: Benny Morris and Avraham Burg may share more than you believe. Also, the Palestinians may have been offered land, but it came with almost no water. The Saudis and Bill Clinton only wanted to Palestinians to accept the deal because they both wanted the whole conflict to go simply away, not because they are interested in a viable Palestinian state. That said, Arafat's response was certainly less than productive. There is no shortage of blame in the Middle East.

Dec. 03 2008 02:11 PM
ecce

I'm with #8 and #9, for the sake of Israel.

"Sea of Arabs" is about right. Demographics aren't destiny, but they do play a role. It was deeply unpragmatic to try to expand the territories.

The sad thing is that there have been many Israelis who support a more pragmatic, cooperative approach, but they have regularly been shouted down, or in the case of Rabin, shot down.

Dec. 03 2008 02:11 PM
Alex from westchester

It's depressing how predictable and polarized comments on middle east problem are. Both arabs and jews have legitimate concerns and deep suffering. Both sides are dominated by increasingly fanatic hotheads.

Are arab/islamacist hotheads worse? Probably - but Israeli policy in Gaza and the West Bank is evil, in my view.

Burg's thesis, as I understand it, is that we need to get beyond the holocaust as the primary frame of reference for Israel's struggle for survival.

This is refreshingly sensible.

Dec. 03 2008 02:04 PM
Mike from Inwood

It does not matter whether you think the Arabs should show more self-reflection and self-criticism. The Israelis live in a sea of Arabs. Israel cannot live forever surrounded by enemies. We may be approaching the end of what has mostly been the unilateral US support for whatever the government of Israel decides. Whether the Arabs are right or wrong according to your thinking, they must be dealt with. This is a difficult tight-rope to walk, for sure. For decades after the 1973 conflict, Israel had the golden opportunity to negotiate out of strength and appear magnanimous to its vanquished enemies. This would have been wise. Instead, it chose to pursue a 'Greater Israel' and send more settlers into the territories. It may already be too late to negotiate: After the last conflict on the Lebanon border, the Arabs will view concessions as being made from weakness, not strength. Perhaps we are about to witness the final denouement of the holocaust: the slow death of Israel, which hopefully will not end with a nuclear war.

Dec. 03 2008 02:02 PM
megan from Park Slope

Having been discredited in Israel as a failed and disgruntled politician for whom even nepotism couldn't help him, Burg is making a pretty good buck in Europe and in the halls of Israel-bashing academia as a Hebrew speaking N. Finkelstien. Burg is naturally the darling of anti-Semites...and the milder ones who hide under the cover of loving Jews but hating "Zionists."

re: #6 - 7 centuries of Arabic/Islamist colonial expansionism, jihad, crusades and religous discrimination of women and other minorities have also effected Arabic politics vs a vs Israel
in a sense it is a classic case of PTSD at a multi-national level. And sadly, that's a much rare and more courageous stand.

Dec. 03 2008 01:55 PM
Eric from B'klyn

I have long felt that the Jewish trauma during WW2 was effecting Israeli politics vs a vs Palestinians... in a sense it is a classic case of PTSD at a national level. A courageous stand.

Dec. 03 2008 01:44 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Megan,

Word up!

Dec. 03 2008 01:40 PM
megan from Park Slope

I've listened to Burg and heard him out.
Self-criticism is one of the strengths of Israeli society.

I wish we saw a fraction of Israeli/Jewish self-reflection and soul-searching in the Arab/Muslim world.

Maybe there would be a lot less terror in the world.

Dec. 03 2008 01:39 PM
kumru from brooklyn

We are full of the "otherside" of this story; it is everywhere, even in Obama's speech on race! Avraham Burg is an honorable man with deep knowledge, understanding and soul-searching. Let's try to listen and hear him rather than crying for the "side" we cheer for.

Dec. 03 2008 01:38 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Correction:

I meant to write on that first post:

I understand that you CAN'T represent all sides on every show, but folks like Dennis Ross and Benny Morris would offer a wonderful counterweight to Mr. Burg’s “blame Israel” approach.

Dec. 03 2008 11:58 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Leonard,

It is fine for Avraham Burg to challenge Israelis, but how about the Palestinians? At the end of the Clinton administration, the Palestinians were offered statehood, land, tons and tons of money and normalization with the world. Even Saudi Arabia begged the Palestinians to accept peace and reject terror. Bill Clinton blames the Palestinians, specifically Arafat, for the lack of peace and goes as far as to say that after two terms as president, Arafat was his greatest disappointment and failure. The Palestinians have been rejecting peace and statehood since 1948. At what point does Mr. Burg question the Palestinian interest in living peacefully alongside of Israel? Maybe you could ask Mr. Burg, “Why can’t Palestinians even admit that Israel made real peace offers that were responded to only with terror?”

I understand that you represent all sides on every show, but folks like Dennis Ross and Benny Morris would offer a wonderful counterweight to Mr. Burg’s “blame Israel” approach.

Dec. 03 2008 11:55 AM

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