Biden says the right thing and the wrong thing

On May 21, 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden spoke to reporters about Israel’s battle with Hamas and its armed Jihadist faction Al Quds Brigade in Gaza. He spoke about his idea of peace between Israel and Palestinians:

“Until the region says, unequivocally, they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace.”

whitehouse.govSpeeches and Remarks (about half-way down the page, in answer to a reporter’s question)

Note that he was specific about Israel being a Jewish state by right. This is not in keeping with the Far Left’s hostile regard toward Israel for what they call “apartheid” — Palestinians kept separate from Jews. These Leftists compare Israel to South Africa and its racist past. The Jews of Israel are racists. Zionism equals racism. If this comparison needs refuting, I’ll write about it at another time.

But, Biden’s administration is saying to Israel, “Stay the course. Continue to be a homeland for Jews.”

At the same time, Biden has voiced a widely held belief that a “two-state solution” will bring peace. Let the the Palestinians set up a Palestinian state next to Israel. Isn’t that what Palestinians say that they want?

Palestinians say that they’ll be at peace with Israel when Israel withdraws troops from the West Bank, allowing for a Palestinian State on the West Bank and in Gaza with its capital in Eastern Jerusalem. It’s also necessary for Palestinian refugees to be able to return to Israel.

This is an opium dream. This is a mantra, like a confession of faith. This two-state solution will never come about.

Where do I begin?

Israelis won’t divide Jerusalem into two parts as it was between the 1949 cease-fire and the 1967 war when Israel’s military captured the eastern sector from Jordan. There’s nothing to discuss. The U.N. can pass resolutions, but there won’t be a divided Jerusalem again. The U.S. can apply pressure, but Israel will not bend. It’s not negotiable.

In the negotiations around 2000, Israel was willing to see a Palestinian state with its capital in the suburb Abu Dis just outside Jerusalem to the east. This wasn’t acceptable to Palestinians. They want a capital in Eastern Jerusalem. So there’s an impasse. A dead-end. There’s absolutely no way forward. So this is why negotiations ended around the year 2000.

Besides this, part of the Palestinian so-called solution to bring peace is that refugees from 1948 should have the right to return to their former homes and businesses. It’s absolutely unacceptable to Israeli Jews for refugees to return. It’s not nearly practical anyway. Why do bleeding hearts think that it’s possible? During the last 70 years homes have been remodeled, amenities upgraded. The 1940s era home doesn’t exist to go back to. Israel insists that when there is real peace, refugees will be compensated. Palestinians won’t talk about compensation. Why not?

The time for talking about a Palestinian state ended years ago. Not just because Israel is recalcitrant to the idea. Palestinians have had autonomy in the large cities of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip, and what is there to show for it? The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is barely functioning. It’s corrupt. The rival Hamas-led Palestinian Authority in Gaza is at war with Israel. Together they could have the makings of a functional state without the name. What they would lack is international acceptance as equals. But it wouldn’t satisfy the Palestinian ego.

One of the Palestinian problems is the lack of a functional government. The electorate was divided fairly equally between the Hamas and Fatah parties with a Hamas majority. In 2007, Hamas decamped to Gaza where is governs until today. Fatah is the party of Yasser Arafat which made concessions to Israel, if only by recognizing Israel’s right to exist. Hamas is a jihadist Islamist party that advocates implacable armed conflict with Israel. It has a military wing, the Al Quds Brigade, but remains at a public distance from the terrorist Palestinian Islamic Jihad which is headquartered outside the Palestinian territories but well represented in Gaza. This party is also at war with Israel.

The Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Fatah parties are not working together. Who is Israel supposed to negotiate with when the Palestinians make up a divided polity?

22 members of an extended family killed in Gaza in an Israeli air strike

NPR reports this story about the recent Gaza-Israeli war:

… about 22 members of the extended Qalaq family are gone. No other family in Gaza lost as many relatives in this war.

As it is, this is a remarkable story. Very sad.

But it’s not the whole story.

NPR continues to report that survivor Azam, a mechanical electrician

struggles to comprehend. Israel did not call them to warn them of the strike like the military did with many other civilians, allowing them to escape before their homes were bombed.

Reporter Daniel Estrin doesn’t follow up by noting this extraordinary fact, that Israel calls Gazan non-combatants to warn them of an air strike.

Now what army warns non-combatants to expect a bomb strike? This itself should be a featured story.

I don’t know why a respectable journalist would miss a crucial angle to his story. I don’t want to speculate. I just don’t know.

Hamas in Gaza gets what it wants

Hamas, the political arm of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad, governs Gaza. They’ve engaged in a massive attack on Israel with rockets that reached population centers. They launched roughly 4,000 rockets, without guidance, for 11 days at Israel’s civilian population. Most were intercepted and destroyed in the air.

Hamas says that it wants Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, an end to the blockade of Gaza, a Palestinian state with its capital in Eastern Jerusalem, as well as a return of 1948’s refugees to Israel. But, this is only their rallying cry.

What Hamas and Islamic Jihad really want is fourfold: to terrorize Jews in Israel, to create martyrs, to get international attention and sympathy, and to cause international pressure to bear down on Israel. Each Gazan killed in Israeli air strikes is accorded a martyr’s funeral, and by their reckoning there are 248 dead — 248 fresh martyrs. (Let’s see if there are really 248 funerals.)

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have also succeeded in terrorizing Jews in the south and in central Israel, the largest part of Israel’s population. Rockets even reached near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Foreign carriers ceased to fly into and out of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, seriously interfering with the tourism industry.

Hamas has gotten international attention. The situation in Gaza has aroused the concern of the United Nations. Egypt and Qatar brokered a ceasefire. U.S. President Joe Biden mildly chastised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

By my reckoning, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have succeeded. They’ve achieved their goals. Israel can’t win. All Israel can do is bide time until the next attack and put up with sporadic rocket attacks that anywhere else would be considered acts of war.

Can Gazans be so irrational? They’re no closer to a Palestinian state than before — even farther away. Is terrorism really an effective tool to get Israel to withdraw from the West Bank? (Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and look at what they got in return.)

But, is it actually irrational to get what you really want?

Building projects at the entrance to Jerusalem

Jerusalem has plans to transform itself. A building project at the entrance to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv – the Jerusalem Gateway – began in July 2019. “The location and features will help us to bring new jobs to the city. More office space will mean more businesses, whether its lawyers, bankers, or high-tech,” said Ofer Berkovitch, a member of the city’s planning and construction committee.

The Jerusalem Gateway commercial project creates a new business center in Jerusalem next to the city’s transportation hub – the city’s central bus station, the terminal of the high-speed rail line from Tel Aviv, and the cross-city light rail line. The new construction is also within walking distance to government buildings.

The 74-acre project would include several towers, with some 1.5 million square meters of office and commercial space, some 2,000 hotel rooms, and underground parking for 1,300 cars.

The Jerusalem Gateway commercial center is expected to create new jobs in Jerusalem, especially professional jobs, when the construction is complete. The project is part of the city’s overall plan to keep its younger, well-trained population from migrating elsewhere in Israel. Jerusalem has already had a technical college for some time.

The population of the Jerusalem metropolitan area about one million people. Many work elsewhere in Israel because of a lack of jobs in Jerusalem. When opened toward the end of 2023, the new Jerusalem highway 16 entrance to the city will help to relieve enormous traffic jams at the Jerusalem Gateway. Meanwhile, traffic flow is expected to become even more snarled during construction of the gateway commercial project.



Jerusalem Under Construction,” CTech, December 6, 2018.
CTech is an English-language technology news site by Calcalist (Hebrew), Israel’s leading financial daily.

Building projects at entrance to Jerusalem means real growth (and some growing pains),” Jewish News Syndicate (JNS), June 25, 2019.

3 years of jams expected as Jerusalem shuts main road near entrance,” The Times of Israel, July 14, 2019.

The Times of Israel presents great coverage of Gaza

Based on my reading of The Times of Israel , the relationship of Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza is ambiguous. I just asked in my previous post whether the ruling Hamas party can reign in PIJ or not. Perhaps when PIJ took credit for the recent barrage of missiles into Israel, they were acting with the tacit approval of Hamas, with Hamas retaining plausible deniability.

In a Tuesday statement (February 25, 2020), Abu Hamza, spokesman for the PIJ’s armed wing said that his group had acted with Hamas’s approval and cooperation. Such a statement cannot be taken at face value, though.
However, both Hamas and PIJ are offshoots of Egypt’s terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. A goal of that organization is to establish a Muslim state where Israel is located. Hamas and PIJ do not differ in their goal. PIJ is funded and armed by Iran, though.

This past Sunday, the Israeli military killed a would-be terrorist bomber along the Gaza-Israel border fence. Israel confiscated the body of the terrorist to hold it hostage until Gazans return two Israelis and the bodies of two other Israelis. This is cited by the Times as the “bulldozer incident.”

The fighting was touched off on Sunday morning when Israel killed a member of Islamic Jihad, who the [Israel Defense Force] said was planting a bomb along the border, and then sent a tractor into the Strip to retrieve the corpse, in an operation caught on film that angered many in Gaza.

The Times of Israel, February 26, 2020

So again, tit for tat, PIJ launched a barrage of about 100 rockets into Israel. In return, Israel bombed known PIJ locations.

Military Intelligence has long warned that Gaza — with its rampant unemployment and deteriorating living conditions — is a powder keg which Israel must address before[Gaza] collapses completely (and [intelligence reported] so again last month in its annual assessment).

The Times of Israel, February 27, 2020

Israel also closed Gaza’s port of entry into Israel, so Gazan workers could not reach their jobs in Israel. The border crossing was reopened on Thursday, February 27, 2020. The disquiet reigned from Sunday through Wednesday.

In related news, Israeli jets downed a drone that was launched from Gaza on Thursday, February 27, 2020. The drone was heading westward over the Mediterranean for an unknown purpose. This incident came as Israel reopened Gaza’s border crossings into Israel and its fishing zone with the return of relative calm after three days of Palestinian rocket fire and retaliatory Israeli strikes. Ordinarily, Israel’s military allows Gazans to launch drones over their airspace so long as the drones can’t spy on Israeli military emplacements around the strip.

So much for Gaza remaining really quiet.


>> About The Times of Israel

10 bouts in Gaza later, Israel not much closer to preventing the next round,” The Times of Israel , February 27, 2020.

“The Strip remains a powder keg, with terror groups just waiting for another excuse — like Sunday’s bulldozer incident — to set it off.”

Israel to reopen Gaza border crossings, fishing zone as fragile calm returns,” The Times of Israel, February 26, 2020.

As ceasefire takes hold, Islamic Jihad vows new rounds of violence,” The Times of Israel, February 26, 2020.

Israeli jets down drone launched from Gaza,” The Times of Israel, February 27, 2020.

Gaza’s quiet is not so quiet

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) took credit for a barrage of roughly 100 rockets fired into Israel from Gaza on Sunday and Monday, February 23 and 24, 2020. Damage in Israel was minimal and no casualties were reported.

Israel responded by bombing PIJ locations in Gaza. Israel also closed the Erez border crossing, barring Gazan workers from entering Israel, and reduced Gaza’s fishing zone off its coast.

After two days of quiet, Israel reopened the border crossing and restored Gaza’s previous fishing limits.

Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement), which rules Gaza, denied that it is engaged in negotiations with Israel. It’s subterfuge is to use Egypt as an intermediary. The ceasefire is not a ceasefire according to Hamas. Egypt has brokered “Quiet for Quiet.”

Both Hamas and PIJ are offshoots of Egypt’s terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. A goal of that organization is to establish a Muslim state where Israel is located.

How strong is Hamas’s hold on Gaza? Can it not reign in PIJ forces? I haven’t seen an in-depth analysis of the dynamics in Gaza. Of course, such analysis is not likely to be covered by daily journalists, and what does appear at length might very well be in Hebrew.


Netanyahu continues bombing Gaza Strip,” Middle East Monitor (MEMO), February 25, 2020.

>> About MEMO

Israel shuts Erez crossing in occupied Gaza,” MEMO, February 25, 2020.

Israel reopens Gaza crossings after reaching ceasefire deal with resistance,”  MEMO, February 26, 2020.

Israel to open all entry points to Gaza, expand fishing zone,” Ynetnews, February 26, 2020.

“The military’s announcement comes just 2 days after yet another flare-up, which saw Islamic Jihad militants fire over 100 rockets at Israeli citizens, prompted the army to impose sanctions on the Hamas-controlled enclave.”

Quiet for quiet in Gaza

The Gaza-Israel conflict looks like it’s heading toward a period of calm. NPR reports:

Israel and Hamas [Gaza’s ruling regime] are taking initial steps toward an agreement to calm hostilities — and it’s allowing thousands of Palestinians from Gaza to go work in Israel daily.

All Things Considered, January 13, 2020

So quiet in exchange for quiet, which means Hamas, which is a militant group, is agreeing to prevent rocket attacks on Israel and to prevent confrontations with Israeli soldiers at the Israeli fence separating Israel from Gaza. So we’re not going to see any more fiery kites and rock-throwing, and protests there are on hold. And in return, Israel is starting to let Gaza breathe a little, and it’s relaxing restrictions that they put on Gaza for years ever since Hamas took power there.

NPR’s Daniel Estrin, January 13, 2020

(Actually, Hamas is a Jihadi terrorist group — much more than militant. Hamas is an Arabic acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement.)

This pause eases up pressure and tension. Gaza has been on the edge of collapsing, even its own people exploding against Hamas.

But, a Hamas spokesman said, “It’s not a cease-fire. It’s not an agreement. It’s quiet for quiet.” It’s clear to Hamas that this is an “understanding.” Such fragile understandings are usually brokered by neighboring Egypt and by the United Nations, according to Al Jazeera.

Whatever you want to call this indirect agreement, [i]t’s very different from Israel’s longtime policy to isolate Hamas and break its hold on Gaza. Instead, Hamas and average Gazans are getting some relief.

NPR’s Daniel Estrin, January 20, 2020

After Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, Israel blocked most Palestinians from crossing the fortified border to go to jobs in Israel. That crushed Gaza’s economy. Over the last few years, Israel has gradually issued more work permits to Gazans and recently speeded that up to a record high. Now more than 5,000 Palestinians from Gaza are being allowed into Israel.

NPR’s Daniel Estrin, January 20, 2020

The border crossing between Gaza and Israel is now open for those who can get permits. They’re now bringing home wages from work in Israel, although it’s a drop in the bucket for about 2 million people. These workers are bringing in Israeli shekels because Hamas and the Palestinian Authority do not mint their own currency.

The Middle East Monitor (MEMO) reports on other goodwill gestures by Israel. Israel has been lessening the embargo of Gaza by permitting the import of cement and vehicle tires. Furthermore, fishermen have been allowed to buy fishing boats, and drivers have been allowed to buy passenger buses.

Medicines donated by an American organization worth $600,000 have also entered Gaza.

According to MEMO, Israeli media reported that Israel has allowed cooking gas and pesticides to enter Gaza.

The head of the Palestinian Businessmen Association in Gaza predicted that if Israel continues with the current approach, Gaza could move toward economic recovery in 2020 and the living conditions of residents could improve (January 9, 2020).

In another vein, MEMO reports that Gazan farmers are gaining access to plant crops near the border fence between Gaza and Israel where they were previously excluded for the sake of Israel’s security. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has cleared unexploded ordnance and other war material from several fields and helped to rehabilitate them. Crops planted last August are expected to be harvested this May. According to the ICRC, roughly 580 farmers have regained access to their land. (February 5, 2020)

Israel has for years designated a strip, between 100 and 300 meters wide, along its 25 mile-long border fence as off-limits to Gazans. Israel cites security concerns since Gaza has been ruled by Hamas terrorists.

Egypt has [also] opened its border for travel out of Gaza. And Qatar is supporting poor families. Israel is boosting electricity to Gaza to reduce daily power cuts and letting fishermen venture farther out into the Mediterranean. And for the first time since Hamas took control in Gaza, Israel is allowing snacks made in Gaza to be exported overseas.

NPR’s Daniel Estrin, January 20, 2020

However, Al Jazeera now reports that two rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel on February 15, 2020. Israel announced it would cancel the easing of restrictions on Gaza as a response to these two rocket attacks. “Israeli security officials warned of a “harsh military response” if attacks from the Gaza Strip did not stop (February 16, 2020).

These are the latest attacks, many occurring since U.S. President Trump announced a peace plan for Israel and Palestinians on January 28, 2020.

Except for NPR, Western journalists have not been reporting on Israel’s easing of restrictions on Gaza or Egypt’s. Perhaps you can find coverage by the Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, or The Washington Post.

A Gazan economy that recovers and interlocks with Israel’s may tame terrorist Hamas, a jihadi enterprise. And if living conditions for Gazans improve, this may motivate Hamas, as it governs Gaza, to rein in rogue elements who fire mortar shells into Israel.


See or listen at:

All Things Considered, “An Opening Between Israel and Gaza — For Now,”
January 13, 2020.

All Things Considered, “Israel-Hamas Aim To Reduce Hostilities As Gaza Restraints Eased,” January 20, 2020.

Also see these articles from MEMO:

Gaza farmers return to their lands along volatile Israel fence,” February 5, 2020.

Israel allows cement entry to Gaza without UN observers,” January 29, 2020.

Israel’s steps to ease Gaza blockade point to longer-term truce,” January 9, 2020.

And from Al Jazeera:

“Israeli security officials warned of a ‘harsh military response’ if attacks from the Gaza Strip did not stop,” February 16, 2020 (article seems to no longer be online).

Hamas says Israel move to tighten blockade will increase tensions: Israel says it has cancelled an easing of restrictions on the besieged Gaza Strip after rockets fired from territory,” February 16, 2020.

Construction work has begun on a new Jerusalem entrance road

The Jerusalem Post reports that a new five-kilometer highway that enters Jerusalem from the west reached the construction stage in 2019 (Jerusalem Post, November 11, 2019). This entrance is the second one into the city coming from the west – from Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion International Airport, and the rest of the Mediterranean coast.

Jerusalem’s new entrance road, designated Jerusalem Route 16, feeds traffic into southern Jerusalem. Drivers will bypass the congestion at the Jerusalem Gateway – Sha’ar HaIr – the long-time entranceway into Jerusalem from the west. In fact, this has been the only entranceway into the city from the west. This long-time entranceway has served the city’s Central Bus Station since British Mandate times. Most buses to and from Jerusalem still pass through this “Gate to the City.” Traffic through the Jerusalem Gateway also reaches the city’s convention center as well as government buildings such as the Knesset and the Supreme Court. This traffic won’t be using the new entrance road. Also, the Jerusalem Gateway will continue to serve the city center and the Old City.

A number of years ago, a northern bypass road was built. Besides bypassing east and west the heart of Jerusalem, it serves as a direct entrance to northern Jerusalem. Consequently, the Jerusalem Gateway entrance enjoyed some relief.

Jerusalem’s new entrance road will tunnel under two hilltop neighborhoods and will have three interchanges to serve southern and southwestern Jerusalem. The entrance road is expected to open for traffic toward the end of 2022. The planning stage began in 2001.


Melody of the Israeli national anthem

The famous main theme of “The Moldau” comprises the first musical stanza of “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem, with slight changes.
These changes for the anthem may reflect origin in “La Mantovana, ” a widely popular melody in Renaissance Europe and more recent times.

“The Moldau” (“Vltava”), a symphonic poem by Bedřich Smetana, is from Má Vlast (My Country).

For more about “The Moldau” see Robert Cummings,

The melody of the second stanza of the anthem shifts to “Russian Sailors Dance” in the ballet The Red Poppy,  from a Russian folk tune.

The Red Poppy , 1927, was the first Soviet ballet with a modern revolutionary theme according to Wikipedia.

The entirety of “Hatikvah” is nationalistic. It is also Eurocentric. The direction of Jerusalem in the anthem is toward the east, appropriate for Europeans. For Jews in Baghdad, Persia, and India, Jerusalem is toward the west. Admittedly Jerusalem is also toward the east for Jews in North Africa.

Palestinian resentment and narcissism

Let me level a broadside against Palestinian society’s spirit – its zeitgeist.

The tenor is narcissistic.

In his book The Better Angels of Our Nature, scientist Steven Pinker presents the idea of a morbid national resentment — ressentiment in French. “Morbid national resentment” characterizes Palestinianism.

Palestinian nationalism expresses the conviction that its civilization has a historical right to greatness despite its lowly status. They feel that their lowly status is explained by the malevolence of an external foe, namely Israel.

According to Palestinians, if Israel would withdraw to the 1949 ceasefire lines (what are mistakenly called the 1967 borders), then Palestinians would be justly elevated into statehood.

Their group-equivalent of narcissism evidences a big but fragile ego with an unearned claim to preeminence. Their narcissism can trigger violence “when the narcissist is enraged by an insolent signal from reality.” (See p. 524)

The presence and visibility of Israeli troops is taken by Palestinians as an insolent signal from reality. In the case of Gaza, Israel maintains a visibly hard border like an international border but has otherwise withdrawn to the 1949 lines. What more is Israel supposed to do?

If Gazans were not to look outward – literally – they would mostly not see the fences and military patrols. The partial sea blockade is only visible to Gazan fisherman but not to most of the close to two million residents of the coastal strip. Within the enclave, they see self-rule. Due to their narcissism they remain mind-blind to their autonomy.

Both the Palestinian self-described victims and the alleged Israeli perpetrators distort their stories in opposite directions. “[E]ach omit[s] or embellish[es] details in a way that [makes] the actions of their character look more reasonable and the other’s less reasonable.” Diverging narratives are a psychological Moralization Gap. Who should we believe? (p. 490) (For me, Israeli narratives are more believable, but not entirely so.)

Ressentiment whips up the emotions of thwarted dominance – humiliation, envy, and rage – to which narcissists are prone. (p. 524)

Several things determine whether ethnic groups can coexist without bloodshed…. One important emollient is the way a group treats a loose cannon who attacks a member of the other group. If the malefactor is reeled in and punished by his own community, the victimized group can classify the incident as a one-on-one crime rather than as the first strike in a group-against-group war…. [A]n even bigger factor is ideology. Things get ugly when intermingled ethnic groups long for states of their own, hope to unite with their diasporas in other countries, keep long memories of harms committed by their neighbors’ ancestors while being unrepentant for harms committed by their own, and live under crappy governments * that mythologize one group’s glorious history while excluding others from the social contract. (p. 525)

Among the Palestinians, a cohort of young men and teenage males periodically comes of age and begins to riot – an Intifada. Palestinians don’t regard these stone-throwers and tire-burners as loose cannons. The riots are a rite of passage. Fathers and older brothers fought, and now time has come for the younger cohort to test its mettle and gain esteem and status. These riots begin after “an insolent signal from reality,” but they are way out of proportion to the igniting spark. And the fuel for flames has been there all along.

The Palestinian ideology circles around the unrealistic idea that all Palestinians in their diaspora should have a right to return to live where their ancestors originated. In fact, most members of the diaspora are considered to be refugees even though they were born elsewhere, even though they have never set foot in historical Palestine.

The U.N. has enabled this. In no other case of refugees has the refugee status been granted to all descendants of verifiable refugees. Palestinian refugees by ordinary standards are those who were displaced during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The youngest refugee is seventy-one years old, and the total number of genuine refugees alive today is about ten thousand. Yet, upwards of a million Palestinians receive assistance from the U.N. These men, women, and children and something like 5 million Palestinians of the diaspora are all deemed to have the right to return. Palestinian ideology keeps alive the long memory of the harm from 1948.

The Palestinian Authority, founded in 1993 by the Oslo Accords, is a crappy government. It has been a kleptocracy, actually an anocracy.* It squandered international aid that flowed in during the heady days after the Oslo agreements. More recently, though, international concerns have invested prudently.

Palestinian infrastructure is antiquated. It dates back to Jordanian rule if not to British rule. The Palestinian police force is brutal.

Many peaceable countries today are in the process of redefining the nation-state by purging it of tribalist psychology. The government no longer defines itself as a crystallization of the yearning of the soul of a particular ethnic group, but as a compact that embraces all the people and groups that happen to find themselves on a contiguous plot of land. (p. 525)

A Palestinian state represents such a crystallization of yearning, so it would not embrace Jews who live in the West Bank. A Palestinian state is not symmetrical to the state of Israel, where Arabs live as a tolerated minority. (Israel itself is still a crystallization of the yearning of the Jewish soul.)

Is there a cure for narcissism? I think not. Is there therapy for the narcissist to learn to engage with other people in healthy, productive ways? I believe so. What therapy is available for the Palestinians?

Pinker does suggest using game theory in peace negotiations. When both sides lay down their arms, they immediately garner a peace dividend. What dividend would Israelis see? Not much, though. Their economy is doing well. The tourism sector is doing well. Israel enjoys one of the best road systems in the world. Mass transit keeps improving. The Israeli economy has a large knowledge-based sector. Israel is one of the 36 members of the exclusive Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This puts Israel on par with the United States and most of the English-speaking world as well as with the European Union and Japan.

Where would there be a peace dividend? A heavily militarized Hezbollah sits perched over Israel’s border with Lebanon. They have rockets aimed at Israel’s population centers. The peace dividend for Israel would be enormous as would the peace dividend for Hezbollah. However, ideology stands in the way. Hezbollah’s jihadi doctrines label Israel a Satan – the little one alongside the U.S. as the Great Satan, “Zionists” and “Crusaders.” With such an ideology, they will not negotiate with Israel. (Perhaps Hezbollah is suffused with group-level narcissism themselves.)

A peace dividend with the Palestinians is a pittance in Israel’s calculus.

Pinker refers to Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan and calls a centralized nation-state that holds a monopoly on violence a Leviathan. Pinker credits such states with bringing down the level of violence in the world. The Leviathan’s ruler tries to keep his subjects from “cycles of raiding and feuding that just shuffle resources or settle scores among them but from his point of view are a dead loss” (p. 42).

Israel is now the Leviathan over Palestinians to prevent and punish them for suicide raids and other aggression against Israelis, and the Palestinian Authority (PA), under the Oslo Accords, is supposed to enforce the social contract for security and public order among Palestinians themselves. What does Israel now want? It wants the PA to force the Palestinian population to refrain from offenses against Israelis so that Israel does not have to be the Leviathan. The PA has been unwilling to do this and even promotes violence by granting stipends to the families of so-called martyrs. To the extent that the Oslo peace process died, this flaunting of terrorist activities killed it.

Palestinians, like other indigenous people, resist alien settlers as long as they see any hope of ridding themselves of the danger of foreign settlement. But, Hamas in Gaza (and other Palestinians) deludes itself that the Little Satan will pack up and leave. They recall the glory of when the Crusaders decamped back to Europe.

Palestinians will be ready to yield to coexistence only when they have given up all hope of getting rid of the alien Jewish settlers, even in Israel itself.


crappy governments – Pinker’s term; see my previous post.

anocracy – see my previous post.

Reference: Pinker, Steven. 2011. The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. New York: Viking.