Bibi’s Con: “Economic Peace”

My new article on Benjamin Netanyahu’s new platform of “economic peace” appears in Ha’aretz today. For those who read from right to left, the original Hebrew is here. The English translation is here. A taste:

When Benjamin Netanyahu speaks about “economic peace,” his new, brilliant diplomatic platform, which will postpone any diplomatic moves far into the unforeseeable future, I see his face shrink, his chin sharpen, a patch cover his eye. Moshe Dayan is speaking, just as he spoke in a cabinet meeting 40 years ago, in early December 1968.

The Eshkol government met then to discuss Dayan’s proposal for a policy on the occupied territories. Dayan’s plan had three pillars: large-scale settlement on the West Bank mountain ridge, permanent Israeli rule of the territories without Israeli citizenship for the Arab residents, and economic integration of the territories with Israel. Arabs would work in Israel, Hebron would get its electricity from the Israeli grid, and Israel would raise the standard of living of the residents of the territories. As a result, Dayan argued, they would become dependent on Israel, maybe even grateful to it.

The official cabinet minutes are still classified, but a partial record from a reliable source exists. Dayan’s words reveal his worldview with shocking clarity. “We want to keep this population calm. Let them work, let them study,” he said – and then added that when he visited the one-time German colony of Togo in Africa, “I was impressed by the memories they still have of German rule before World War I. [The Germans] left orchards and culture.”

Read the rest in Hebrew or English at Ha’aretz, and feel free to come back to SoJo to comment.

7 thoughts on “Bibi’s Con: “Economic Peace””

  1. Yet another in the lengthening trail of forceful, concise essays that have come from your pen (or laptop). As always, you make a strong case for everyone willing to listen.

  2. Moshe Dayan wasn’t as stupid as you seem to think. He remembered things that you either forgot or didn’t learn…i.e. before 1948, they vehemently DENIED they were a separate people. They said “we are NOT ‘Palestinians’, we are South Syrians”. The first use of the word “Naqba” (catastrophe) was used in the wake of the First World War when the British and French split Palestine from Syria, which the Arabs claimed was one country. According to Benny Morris’ book about Israel’s War of Independence “1948”, the British repeatedly tried to get the Arabs of the country to set up an autonomous Arab administration, parallel to that of the Jews-The Jewish Agency, but the Arabs adamantly refused. One reason was that it was expected that services provided to their population would be paid for out of taxes raised from that population by this autnomous administration. The Arabs thought it was better not to have an adminstration and have the British pay for everything. So we see that the Palestinian Arabs did everything possible NOT to build a state infrastructure.
    So now you claim that Dayan was wrong and the Palestinians are distinct nation, even though we now see two separate administrations, one in Gaza and one in Judea/Samaria. During the good, old Oslo days when the “strong hand” of universally beloved Arafat was in charge, nothing was done to set up a functioning state administration, even though this was practially forced on the Palestinian Authority. Nothing has changed since then, their state infrastructure barely exists, it is totally dependent on foreign handouts (mostly from the US and EU) for the majority of its operating budget. None of this would surprise Dayan.
    Of course there were major outbreaks of violence. The Palestinians don’t like the current situation. But they are not fighting for “self determination” or to set up a state as Gershon states, they are fighting a war of attrition against Israel. It is a war to the death, and the Palestinians have time. Olmert, and others always say “Israel had better hurry up and create a Palestinian state or else Israel is doomed.” Well, that is exactly what the Palestinians want-the “doom” of Israel (G-d forbid). So they are not going to make it easier for an Israeli gov’t crawling on its belly , begging for an agreement by making traitorous concessions on their side, like giving up the phony Palestinian “right of return”.

    I think Netanyahu is hinting at what I stated above in his statement that the issue now is economic advance in the Palestinian territories instead of political talks and Israeli withdrawals. However, I think he should be very frank with Obama and lay out what the true situation which I have indicated..and that Israeli concessions only harden Arab attitudes and push peace further off.

  3. Let the Saudis and Iranians raise the living standards of Palestinians. They have been pouring in millions of dollars to support a death standard for Palestinians. How about using that same cash to ensure a living standard to Palestinians? The reason that Palestinians will not be bought by gratitude to Jews is because they were defeated by what they consider an unworthy enemy. When the Palestinians were massacred by the Jordanians in Black September, there are no residual ill feelings today because they were defeated by a worthy opponent, the Jordanians. Let the monye be used to develop Sderot and Jerusalem

  4. A very enjoyable article indeed. Thanks for the interesting and thought-provoking piece!

    I need to respond to Y. Ben-David, who is so wrong, so incoherent, I don’t even know where to begin!
    Let’s see. Hmm. Rewriting history, I see. Saying that “The Arabs thought it was better not to have an administration and have the British pay for everything” is an entertaining argument indeed, if it weren’t so off the mark. Palestinians rejected the British-sponsored split of their land not because they were counting on British handouts, but on nationalistic grounds, refusing the partition. It made sense to refuse to take 45% of the land while, they believed, they were entitled – and could get – 100%.

    There is today, however, a state infrastructure. A relatively good one, too, in the West Bank, with functioning ministries, state organisms, etc. True, it remains substandard if we’re using international benchmarks, but under the current situation, I was amazed to see any state institutions at all. Have you ever been to Ramallah? No? I didn’t think so.

    “The Palestinians have time”. Only someone utterly ignorant, or someone seriously bent on denying facts, can assume so. How can time be on the Palestinians’ side? When everyday settlements are consolidated, more whackos move into the West Bank, segregation is confirmed, when the Israeli public opinion moves to the right (what was once a Labour vs. Likud standoff is now a Likud (Bibi/Feiglin) vs Likud (Kadima-esque) debate). When generations of refugees lose touch with their land of origin.

    Besides – even ‘economic peace’ (puh!) is not achievable. As Gershom wrote, the colonial and fragmented system in the West Bank won’t allow for any economic growth. I’ll also add that the steady replacement of Palestinian labour in Israel with South-Asian labour in Israel is hardly reversible. So, bread on the table for the Palestinians? Unlikely.

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