Jeffrey Goldberg is the kind of reasonable liberal who does excellent work in illuminating the excesses of those who self identify as "liberal" but operationally behave as leftists. For that reason, among others, he is a very good read, but his posts, as reasonable as they are, often contain a nugget of unreality that highlights the limitations of the liberal idea in the Middle East. Consider On the Hitler-Loving-Mufti Photo:
Seth Lipsky thinks it's actually a good thing that Avigdor Lieberman is encouraging Israeli government officials to circulate a picture of Haj Amin el-Husseini, the late mufti of Jerusalem, palling around with Hitler in 1941. Lipsky laments that Lieberman's decision was greeted with ridicule inside Israel's own foreign ministry -- and by me, by the way -- but then cites a piece I wrote in 2008 to make a semi-reasonable sound argument that the mufti's ties to Nazi Germany actually had a pretty significant impact on the rampant anti-Semitism seen around the world today. It is true that the Mufti was a terrible genocidal Nazi; it's also true, however, that he's dead. In the interest of encouraging Palestinian moderates -- the sort of people who scare Lieberman the most -- I think it's not overly useful to equate the Palestinians of today with their long-gone leader. [Emphasis mine-SW]
Leaving aside the fact that the current Palestinians are spiritually indistinguishable from their predecessors, Jeffrey Goldberg makes the typical error of the well meaning liberal. Liberals see the best in people at all times, even when the best does not appear obvious to any other observers. For Jeffrey Goldberg and other liberals, it is an article of faith that Palestinian moderates exist. I have a great deal of sympathy with this position, which I held for many years. Tragically, this has proved to be an unwarranted assumption, for several reasons.
First, even those most often identified as Moderate by the MS, like Mahmoud Abbas, are hardly moderate in any conventional sense of the word. They may be more realistic than the so-called radicals, that is they recognize that the Palestinians will be unable to destroy Israel int he foreseeable future, but they are no more willing to recognize a Jewish state than the worst of the radicals. As Barry Rubin has pointed out, Palestinian Moderates Want Peace-With Hamas, Not Israel:
To see what’s happening—and what’s wrong—with Palestinian politics, consider Muhammad Dahlan. In him is embodied the ideological and strategic straitjacket, preventing Palestinians from making peace and getting a state of their own.
Dahlan, 48, is one of the two most able young Fatah leaders, the other being Marwan Barghouti. Dahlan, an architect of the first intifada in the late 1980s, became PLO and Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Yasir Arafat’s favorite proteges. A decade later, however, Dahlan broke with Arafat because he thought his boss was letting Hamas get too strong. If Arafat had heeded him, Fatah and the PA would be far better off today.
For many years, Dahlan was the key PA-Fatah “general” battling Hamas in the Gaza Strip. So when Hamas totally defeated Fatah in a 2007 coup and seized control there, Dahlan was responsible for the debacle. Now he’s back as special advisor to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Aside from his anti-Hamas credentials, Dahlan has been considered a relative moderate on the peace process. But what does this mean in practice? Dahlan told al-Sharq al-Awsat that the second (2000-2005) intifada and terrorism against Israeli civilians harmed Palestinian interests. His critique, though, was based not on moral considerations but because such acts hurt the Palestinian image and made Israel react more toughly.
He also complains that the uprising lacked a clear goal. Yet Dahlan never defines what that objective should have been. Here’s the movement’s fatal flaw. Neither he nor the PA nor Fatah tell Palestinians to accept Israel’s existence and build their state alongside it in permanent peace. Such a notion is outside the actual Palestinian debate.
Next, Dahlan talks of his hatred for Hamas but not because it blocks any deal with Israel. He accuses Hama of murdering hundreds of Palestinians; being an Iranian tool, a gang that is building a radical Islamist state in Gaza.
So what’s his solution? Merely that Hamas and the PA unite. Yet, given what Dahlan says about Hamas, what possible joint strategy and activities could such a coalition pursue?
Clearly, peace with Hamas is more important for Dahlan than peace with Israel. And make no mistake: these two alternatives are mutually exclusive.
This is a truism that should be obvious to all but those who are most insistent on the Fata Morgana of Palestinian Moderation.
Second, even if there are actual Palestinian Moderates who desire peaceful coexistence with a Jewish state, their influence is non-existent. A Palestinian who speaks out in favor of coexistence is a soon-to-be-dead traitor. For those who have not been paying attention, the Fatah run (Moderate) PA has made it a capital crime to sell land to a Jew, continues to foment the worst kinds of anti-Semitism in their media and schools, and celebrates those who murder Israeli women and children.
For 20 years now we have been told repeatedly by our Diplomats and most of the MSM that there exist Moderate Palestinians, who if only empowered by Israeli concessions, would be willing and able to make peace. Each Israeli concession has been met with increased attacks on Israel but this is ignored. This suggests that those who insist upon the existence of a cohort of Palestinians in the conspicuous absence of any objective evidence must have their own psychological reasons for needing to believe in their existence.
Obviously Jeffrey Goldberg is not a self hating Jew. He is a strong supporter of Israel who does not automatically find fault with Israeli behavior while excusing the most noxious behavior form the Palestinians. He implicitly believes that Jews are more ethical and moral than Palestinians (else why would he agree that a future Palestine must be Judenrien while being appalled at the notion that Israel should eject the Arabs within its midst?) Yet despite that he continues to maintain the belief that if only Israel made enough concessions somehow the true, though hidden, peace loving Palestinians would appear and magically find it within themselves to accept their Jewish neighbors. This is based on a wishful fantasy; sadly, there is nothing in reality that supports the notion that a sturdy enough cohort of Palestinians in favor of peaceful coexistence either exists or will be allowed to emerge, any time in the foreseeable future.