Israel’s Future: Kachism or Nothing?

The October issue of Commentary, the neoconservative flagship publication of the American Jewish Committee, carried a powerful cover story by former editor Norman Podhoretz, making a convincing case for the complete and dismal failure of the Middle-East peace process originally set in motion by the Oslo Agreement of 1993.

In response, I sent an extremely pessimistic private note to current editor Neal Kozodoy, who persuaded me to modify it for submission as a letter, which appears in the current issue, in somewhat abridged form. In his response, excerpts of which I attach below, Mr. Podhoretz acknowledges the logic of my case, though he strongly rejects my ultimate conclusions.

The months since my letter was drafted have seen such a dramatic escalation in suicide bombings and other bloodshed that I believe my very depressing arguments against the likelihood of any workable peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians have unfortunately grown more rather than less persuasive. And Israelis are more aware of these facts than anyone: a recent poll found that over a third of Israeli Jews between ages 25 and 34 want to depart their country.

Not all problems have solutions, easy or otherwise. And not all—or even many—bitter ethnic conflicts are fated to end in peaceful, politically-acceptable compromises based on mutual co-existence, despite the sincerest wishes of most outside observers. With no peace in Northern Ireland or in Sri Lanka or in the Sudan, why should we ever expect to see peace in the land of Isaac and Ishmael? All things are possible, and peace may indeed eventually arrive there, perhaps all unexpected, but as of today, such peace does not seem very likely.

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