Michael Walzer Responds
Michael Walzer Responds
I AGREE WITH Jim Rule on the wrongness of Israeli settlement policy. I don’t believe, as he suggests, that ending American support for that policy would reduce hatred for the United States in the Arab and Muslim worlds. People who believe that the Elders of Zion control Wall Street and the U. S. government, and that Israel planned the attack on the Trade Towers, and that the CIA carried out the terrorist bombing in Bali won’t be fooled by anything so simple. But we have, as Jim also says, our own reasons for opposing Israeli settlements: the policy of settling the West Bank and Gaza is destructive to any peace process and wrong in itself.
A unilateral end to U.S. financial support for Israel, however, won’t advance the peace process. It makes sense to call for American pressure on right- wing Israeli governments—and, specifically, for reductions in aid to match whatever amounts of money any Israeli government spends on settlements in the occupied territories. But Israel is a country with real enemies; its military dominance, while substantial at this moment, is also precarious; and its enemies are not looking for a two-state solution. Israel remains dependent on American support for its survival, not (only) for its expansion, and any radical break in this alliance is more likely to provoke an Arab attack than to bring peace closer.
Peacemaking requires a more subtle and nuanced American policy than Jim Rule advocates in his response to my piece. And it also requires a more subtle and nuanced American left than has been in evidence in recent antiwar demonstrations and in the campus campaign for divestment from companies doing business in Israel. The first sign of a decent left on this issue would be an acknowledgment that there is strong opposition to settlement policy in Israel and strong support for a two state solution. If leftists here (and in Europe) really favor two states, and not just one, they should look for an alliance with the Israeli left—and also, if they can find it, with the Palestinian left. There is important nongovernmental work to be done, political and ideological work that could strengthen the cause of peace.
Michael Walzer is co-editor of Dissent.
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