Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Israelis' Strategic Worldview

Matthew Yglesias is on to something here:
"Something that hasn’t quite gotten the square focus that I think it deserves is that Israelis (almost universally across the spectrum) and non-Israelis have started to see the greater Middle East through wildly different lenses. To the vast majority of external observers, the primary issue facing Israel is the Palestinian issue. The continued growth of settlements, the growing strength of Palestinian radicals, and the dramatic rightward shift of Israeli politics all point toward a closing window of opportunity for a two-state solution. To the vast majority of Israeli observers, the primary issue facing Israel is Iran and there’s a powerful, if somewhat odd, desire to believe that the Palestinian problem is basically an epiphenomenon of the conflict with Iran."

The biggest reason for this is that, for sound historical reasons, Israeli Jews fear annihilation, and Iran is seen as that kind of threat. At this point, the Palestinians are a danger to the Zionist project mainly in the demographic sense, something that hasn't yet sunk in with many in the country. Politically, it's also much easier for Israeli leaders to take a tough line on Iran than it is to deal with the divisive questions of the conflict with the Palestinians.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)

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