The Best Of The Dish Today

Jul 28 2014 @ 9:15pm

Volunteers Continue To Plant Ceramic Poppies At Tower Of London

A reader says it best about where I’m now at with respect to Israel/Palestine:

You quote Goldblog:

A moderate-minded Palestinian who watches Israel expand its settlements on lands that most of the world believes should fall within the borders of a future Palestinian state might legitimately come to doubt Israel’s intentions.

This is really the whole Israeli-Palestinian problem in a nutshell. For 47 of my 56 years, Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza. (Yes, Israel “withdrew” from Gaza some time ago, but it is still very much Israel’s captive.) In modern times, there is no single other example of a nation that supposedly shares “western” values sustaining such a long occupation of another people. Yes, Israel has a right to defend itself. Yes, Israel has every right to Smoke trails over Gaza cityquestion whether it has a partner to make peace. Of course I don’t trust Hamas. Of course the rockets merit a vigorous no-nonsense response. But one question sticks in my mind about the position of Israel: If Israel really wanted peace, why does it keep building those darn settlements?

Every answer I’ve ever heard – the irrelevant “there never really was a Palestinian state on this land”, the hopeless “even if Israel did that what makes you think they’d suddenly change their stripes?”, or the more limited “construction is for the most part only expansion of existing settlements anyway”, whatever – all of them only go so far as to try to justify why Israel should be permitted to continue to build. It doesn’t explain why it is a good idea for Israel to continue to build.

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. And in that sense, there is no justification I have ever heard for the settlements that one can reconcile with trying to make the two state solution a reality, or indeed even with leaving it open as a possibility. Just the opposite. Until there is an answer to that question, in my mind, Israel cannot and will not be guilt-free. Maybe if those of us who love Israel but think it has lost its way focused on that one simple question until it is answered, we might get somewhere.

That’s where I’m at as well. At some point, the denials and equivocations and diversions and distractions fade away to that core reality: why are they continuing to settle the West Bank? It empowers Hamas, it weakens the Palestinian Authority, it is a constant grinding of salt into an open wound.

The Israelis had a golden opportunity with Barack Obama’s presidency to make a historic peace; and they didn’t just throw it away, they treated the US president with contempt for even trying and now cast ugly, public insults at the secretary of state. If the settlements had been reversed, if Abbas and Fayyad had been given the autonomy they needed, this war in Gaza would appear as something very different. It would be much simpler to condemn Hamas’ extremism, if there was clearly another way forward. But Netanyahu – because of the settlements – has blocked any way forward. The Palestinians have two options: bombardment and blockade or the humiliation of more settlements. Which is why I have come to the conclusion these past six years that Greater Israel is the goal, that nothing else really matters, and anyone who doesn’t see that is a useful idiot.

Today, in non-war-and-dead children coverage, we looked forward to an app that will guide you to a scenic route across town; we celebrated the better late than never endorsement of legal weed by the NYT (by the way, try watching the David Gregory segment on the question yesterday without needing to toke from the instant nausea); and cheered a new study on sponsored content that proves it’s deceptive to readers, great for advertisers for only a while, and damaging to publications for ever. I also happened to love the window view today – from Buffalo.

The most popular post of the day was The Lie Behind The War; followed by Why Am I Moving Left?

A few of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 19 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. One writes:

Andrew, you and I don’t always agree. But today I became a paid subscriber. This post alone – “Why Am I Moving Left?” – was worth the $20. It is what I have been posting and commenting on, over and over, to anyone who will listen, for three years. As someone who once would have been considered a pro-business Centrist and registered Independent, there is absolutely no way I can comprehend anyone can feel any sense of pride and honor in identifying as a Republican in the current climate. Just the thought causes a disconnect. And like you, it isn’t me that changed. Thanks for speaking for me.

See you in the morning.

(Photos: Yeoman Serjeant Bob Loughlin admires a section of an installation entitled ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ by artist Paul Cummins, made up of 888,246 ceramic poppies in the moat of the Tower of London, to commemorate the First World War on July 28, 2014 in London, England. Each ceramic poppy represents an allied victim of the First World War and the display is due to be completed by Armistice Day on November 11, 2014. By Oli Scarff/Getty Images; Smoke trails over Gaza city after Israeli shelling on July 25, 2014. By Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.) Update from a reader:

Sad to have to make this correction, but less than a million ceramic poppies only represents the death toll of soldiers from the British Empire. Russia had twice that many again. Even France had close to a million and a half. It would take more than the moat around the Tower to hold enough poppies for all the lives lost on the Allied side. It’s a fabulous installation, though.