The Jerusalem Post publishes everyday a selection of New York Times op-eds, a deal that provides this newspaper with filler content. This is quite accepted and normal. The op-eds that do appear in this syndication arrangement are termed as "featured". They seem to be chosen almost at random, usually by a layout artist. And so, Ian Lustick got lucky and his notorious piece slipped into the pages of the Jerusalem Post last Monday''s print edition.
Ian Lustick''s New York Times'' piece on Israel''s Zionist ethos - what he termed "the stifling reign of an outdated idea" - has stirred up a buzz.
This previous March, he had published in the LA Times that Israel needs a new map because an "outmoded Zionism has become an obstacle to Jewish welfare and security" and added:
Zionism proposed a Jewish state in Palestine as a solution to the great crisis of European Jewry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Jewish state would protect a beleaguered people, end anti-Semitism and provide modern expression for Jewish nationalism. More than a century later, Israeli leaders, whether they believe in it or not, still invoke Zionism to justify their policies and to reject criticism. But the assumptions and beliefs that were an effective basis for policy a century ago are outlandish now.
Let us return to his this week''s piece.
Let''s look at this excerpt:
It was clear to me that Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s government was systematically using tangled talks over how to conduct negotiations as camouflage for de facto annexation of the West Bank via intensive settlement construction, land expropriation and encouragement of “voluntary” Arab emigration.
What those "tangled talks" actually were was Arafatian Arabs seeking to avoid commiting themselves to any peace agreement. They were provided all necessary means, backed by Sadat, but they refused to discuss autonomy. Begin encouraging Arab emigration? Really?
His whole personal role as a State Department analyzer (for he was at that time "on leave from Dartmouth at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research...responsible for analyzing Israeli settlement and land expropriation policies in the West Bank and their implications") ended up as a failure:
One day I was summoned to the office of a high-ranking diplomat..."Are you,” he asked me, “personally so sure of your analysis that you are willing to destroy the only available chance for peace between Israelis and Palestinians?” His question gave me pause, but only briefly. “Yes, sir,” I answered, “I am.”I still am. Had America blown the whistle on destructive Israeli policies back then it might have greatly enhanced prospects for peace under a different leader. It could have prevented Mr. Begin’s narrow electoral victory in 1981 and brought a government to power that was ready to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians before the first or second intifada and before the construction of massive settlement complexes in the West Bank. We could have had an Oslo process a crucial decade earlier.
I thought that America has always been anti-settlement, at one level lor another, and very outspoken about it as a policy. The Jewish right to live in our homeland has been termed "unhelpful" and an "obstacle" in the past and now, President Obama selectively uses "illegitimate", but never "illegal". He can''t do that because we are legal.
In any case, "returning territory" or "evacuating settlements" historically really hasn''t enabled peace.
It is really a shame that Lustick has adopted such a position, based on a wrong analysis. And a post-dated one, as well.