By the time this posts, I should be on a flight bound for Atlanta where I’ll switch planes and be in DC by the morning of October 13. So I’d like to thank the New America Foundation for an excellent and informative trip to Israel and especially Matt Duss, Didi Remez, and Tom Kutsch for their work organizing it:
I think it’s be a little silly to decide you’d learned striking new things about something as complicated and well-rehearsed as the Arab-Israeli conflict over the course of a week-long trip (I do think I now know a lot more about Palestinian politics, but that’s largely a reflection of my pre-trip ignorance and I wouldn’t dare claim to really understand it) so it’s no surprise that I still basically think what I thought before about “the issues.” I basically buy the fundamental conceit of secular Zionism and want to see a homeland for the Jewish people. I think the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza are unjust and that the former is killing Zionism as a project to boot. I’m much more skeptical about the efficacy and morality of force as a tool of policy than are Israel or Hamas. I’m convinced that a peace deal is within reach in the short term if Israel is willing to take risks, and I think Israeli politicians and the Israeli public are gripped by a risk-aversion that if not checked will likely lead to national suicide.
What you get on a visit is essentially everything amped-up on an emotional level. It’s exhausting, honestly, both the good and the bad.
The other thing I would add is that if you go to Hebron and then to Tel Aviv it’s impossible not to find yourself baffled by the apparent blindness of many Israelis to what’s being done in their name. What’s harder is to recognize that the shoe fits America, too. I wouldn’t analogize the situation in Palestine to anything else, but Americans very much live in an emotional bubble isolated from the practical realities of the acts of violence committed in our names over the years.