My Current Thoughts on Israel

We have to be able to hold conflicting truths in our minds simultaneously


November 16, 2012

My thinking on Israel has changed a lot over the years. I’ve spent a few weeks there while in my early 20’s serving in the military, and at the time I was quite conservative (?) in my stance on the country.

As I’ve grown older, talked to more people, and read more books, I’ve come away with what I believe to be an elegant and rational view on the country and its global politics. I’ll share it here.

  1. What Israel is doing to Palestine is criminal. It is only due to herculean feats of Israeli PR that this is even debatable. Carter had it right when he called it apartheid. That’s what it is.

  2. Israel is being attacked, and they have a right to defend themselves. This should absolutely include taking out known terrorists, removing rockets and other long-range weapons that such terrorists could use to attack Israeli civilians, etc. While Israel is responsible for a lot of the hate that exists, 1) it isn’t responsible for all of it, and 2) the reasons don’t matter when they’re being attacked with rockets.

  3. Israel doesn’t want a two-state solution, but they toss that ball around because it keeps the discussion off the real conversation, i.e. a one-state solution. The issue for Israel is that if Palestinians were to become full citizens they could participate in their democracy. And because their birth rates are so much higher than Jews, they would take over the country in a few generations. This is why Israel refuses to incorporate them into their society–it would mean the end of Israel as they know it.

  4. Israelis, on the whole, are rather exceptional. It sucks that they act like they’re better than everyone else, but damn…they’re kind of better than everyone else. Both things agitate people: the fact that they’re superior and the fact that they act like it.

  5. So I see a small group of people with many things to offer the world, surrounded by enemies, and so obsessed with clinging to the words in a primitive, man-made book that they’re willing to do horrible things to their Semitic brothers. It’s a travesty.

  6. The current situation can best be captured by the analogy of an older brother and younger brother in the back seat of a car on a long trip. The older brother pinches the younger one so that the parents cannot see, and when the younger one retaliates the older one makes a show of it. And the younger one gets called a troublemaker. Palestine is a fourth-world nation at the direct hands of Israel, and this is producing such despair that violence is inevitable. That violence then enables Israel to continue its reprehensible treatment. It’s an obvious strategy, but it keeps working.

  7. Israel isn’t doing this because it’s evil. It wants to keep its identity. It wants to survive as a nation of Jewish people, and it doesn’t want to share it with people who don’t share their religion or stock. Ok, perhaps that’s a little evil, but it’s understandable given their history of being oppressed at every turn. They value unity and tradition and identity above all else because it helped them through many troubles.

  8. The most possible, non-horrible option for a solution has the international community forcing a two-state solution with most Palestinians moving to the new state. Israel is told to back off and the world pours tons of resources into building their education system, infrastructure, etc.

  9. The problem with this track is evident in the rest of the Arab world. What then? What evidence do we have that any people steeped in the culture of centuries past can move on to thrive like the West? Precious little. So we’d end up with a country dependent on external aid, high unemployment, a weak economy, and a crap-ton of religious idiots of various sects attempting to gain control of the country. Several of these would be all about disputing the border with Israel, advocating its downfall, etc., etc. We know that tune.

  10. But I think that might be the best we’re going to get. Apartheid cannot continue. It’s not moral. It’s not just. It’s a black eye not just on Israel, but on everyone for watching it happen. And Israel isn’t going to just open up the gates, take everyone in with full citizenship, and embrace their brothers. That’s not going to happen. It won’t happen because of valid concerns of attack, but also because they fear what their country would look like in 50 years. Besides, they think God gave them that land for their people, and despite it being utterly fictional it’s pretty compelling to people who believe it. The two-state solution, forced by external pressure, is the only path forward.

  11. Israel needs to stop the abuse of the Palestinians, give the Palestinians a state, and let them (and everyone else in the region) get started with the Islamic reformation that is many centuries overdue. Only then will true education flourish and lay ground for equality and prosperity in the region. A few decades after that point the religion and tradition will mean much less to everyone there, and true discussions will commence based on shared interests.


  1. There are atrocities on both sides. It’s not a story of good and evil where there’s a good guy and bad guy. It’s complex. Each of them is the antagonist and the victim.

  2. Even though both are guilty and worthy of sympathy, Israel is more to blame because it is in control. Its policies are causing much of the hatred that is spawning the violence.

  3. Separate them. There is too much hate right now to benefit from forced integration.

  4. The region needs an Islamic reformation. The Jews had one, Christians had one, and we’re still waiting for the Islamic one.

  5. During and after the Arab/Palestinian renaissance the international community needs to help them rebuild and become equal players in the world.

  6. Then, and only then, can the Islamic world and Israel come to the table and discuss history and property rights. At that point they’ll just be fellow humans with common interests and a desire to move forward.