Whatever you think about the moral comparison of the two situations, as a practical metaphor Thomas Jefferson's famous saying seems terribly apt here: they have got the wolf by the ears; it isn't safe to hold on and it isn't safe to let go.

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Nov 19, 2023Liked by Noah Millman

Enjoyed this piece. Can you recommend any good books on the history of modern Israel?

Also, have you written a response to that Freddie deBoer piece where he mentions you? I thoughtI saw you mention that you would respond and I’m eager to see what you think https://freddiedeboer.substack.com/p/can-the-liberal-democratic-project

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The talk about "re-establishing" deterrence is nonsense; there never was any deterrence in the first place, which is fairly clear if you look at the actors involved. "Israel" vs. "the Palestinians" is too simplistic: there are actually four groups involved here: 1. the Palestinians who want peace, even if this involves continuation of the state of Israel on land that was once, many decades ago, Palestinian land; 2. the Israelis who want peace, mainly the left wing, even if that involves giving the Palestinians their own state or something along those lines; 3. the Israeli right-wing, who want the Palestinians gone from the region, as much as possible; and 4. Hamas and similar groups, who want Israel wiped off the map.

Group 4, Hamas et al., cannot be deterred, at least not by Palestinian suffering. In fact, Palestinian suffering caused by Israel is fine with them, because that reduces international support for Israel. Hamas, in other words, is willing to sacrifice as many Palestinians as necessary to push forward their aim of defeating Israel. (This is quite clear from how they use and govern the Gaza strip.)

Group 3, mainly the Israeli right wing, benefits directly from the existence of group 4 since the existence of the existential threat to Israel lets them justify actions that work against peace, such as the expansion of settlements and persecution of Palestinians. Peace is existential disaster for this group since it would limit not only their territorial expansion but to a great degree the reason for their existence.

So long as we have these two groups, each incentivised to keep the battle running, holding any more than a minimal amount of power, there will be no peace. And the other two groups, particularly the Palestinians, are going to suffer at the hands of them.

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