It's not often that mainstream publications offer objective and fearless talk about Israel. Stephen Walt, in Foreign Policy
begins by quoting Akiva Eldar in the The National Interest
"[T]he Palestinian leadership, as far back as 1988, made a strategic decision favoring the two-state solution, presented in the Algiers declaration of the Palestinian National Council. The Arab League, for its part, voted in favor of a peace initiative that would recognize the state of Israel and set the terms for a comprehensive Middle East settlement. Meanwhile, various bodies of the international community reasserted partition of the land as their formal policy. But Israel, which signed the Oslo accords nearly two decades ago, has been moving in a different direction."
This is the great unspeakable fact which most Americans, even the educated ones, do not know -- the fact which they refuse
to know: The Palestinians and the Arabs have, for decades, expressed their willingness to recognize and live in peace with Israel. A two-state solution was possible, once. If that possibility is dead now, Israel killed it. Eldar continues:
"To exercise control over the land without giving up its Jewish identity, Israel has embraced various policies of "separation." It has separate legal systems for traditional Israeli territory and for the territory it occupies; it divides those who reside in occupied lands based on ethnic identity; it has retained control over occupied lands but evaded responsibility for the people living there; and it has created a conceptual distinction between its democratic principles and its actual practices in the occupied territories. These separations have allowed Israel to manage the occupation for forty-five years while maintaining its identity and international status. No other state in the twenty-first century has been able to get away with this, but it works for Israel, which has little incentive to change it."
Walt refers to this policy as "apartheid" -- which is, of course, precisely the correct word.
It works, of course, because the Israel lobby makes it virtually impossible for U.S. leaders to put any meaningful pressure on Israel to change its behavior, much of which is now antithetical to core American values.
Two factors can change the situation:
1. A pushback from the American Jewish community -- large sections of which understand that fundamentalist Judaism is as repellant as any other form of fundamentalism. Israel-firsters try to keep this community in line with fear tactics and the emotional hard sell. That approach works on rubes, not on the educated.
2. The diminishing popularity of Christian fundamentalism. Israel's supporters understand that they need blind and fanatical support from the kind of people who take the Left Behind
books seriously. Israelis have cynically courted (and, I think, funded) this audience. But young Americans are finally starting to grow annoyed with canned, mass-produced Jesusism, and they are starting to rebel at the notion of becoming Robots For Christ.
Those two factors could lead us to a saner America in which it is permissible to criticize Israel and to demand new policies.