What does Ron Maimon think about the Israeli-palestinian conflict?

Certain conflicts are difficult, because both sides have legitimate claims, and have equal moral authority. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is NOT an example. At least for the past 30 years, the Israelis are simply wrong, and the Palestinians are simply right.

Israel needs to get out of all the lands acquired in 1967, allow a Palestinian state with open borders with Israel, free flow of labor and capital between the states, split sovereignty on Jerusalem (keeping the municipality intact), and admit the refugees have a right either to return or to elective compensation sufficient to induce them to choose not to.

It also needs to make the citizenship process and internal appropriations entirely independent of ethnicity, it needs to grow up and become a non-ethnic state, with separation of church and state, like every other civilized nation.

Israel will do these things on the day that camels fly, so I stay the heck away. If I went back, I would be drafted, and since I won't serve, that means prison. I left before I turned 15, so I could defer my draft, but I knew from 1987 on that I couldn't serve. And it's not because I'm such a pacifist, I just hate what the Israeli army is doing.

My father took us to a town in the West Bank for a day-trip in 1987, when I was 14, just before the Intifada. While we were walking around, a car rushed by scattering pamphlets on the street. He picked up a pamphlet. He knows (Tunisian) Arabic, so I asked him "What does it say?" He told us "It says 'We're getting out of here.'", and off we went. It was clearly a call to rally for the uprising.

Once the uprising started, it was obvious what was going on, that the folks in the West bank were fed up and organized resistance, and the military was oppressing them in terrible ways. My middle school physics teacher was called up for reserve duty, and he would report to us on the situation: he said that they could scatter the protesters with a gesture: he pantomimed moving an imaginary camera to his face, 'click'. People were afraid of getting photographed, so as not to end up on a list. The folks would gather to throw stones at the Israeli positions, then scatter when they were shot at, and this was going on week after week.

The sense you got as a teenaged Israeli was that you were complicit in a terrible crime. It's not the first time one felt this way, in the early 80s, the invasion of Lebanon led to crimes, but these could be blamed on Ariel Sharon. The response to the Intifada did not stop at one bad apple, it was the entire society. So it was alienating, and one had to make a choice.

The whole occupation is horrible. There were collaborators who are paid by the Israeli Army to rat out on their neighbors, these collaborators are then understandably killed by other Palestinians. There are PA government officials in bed with Israel, others are just corrupt. The natural resources are divided in a ridiculously lopsided manner, the Palestinian children are denied a decent education, and the levels of racism rival colonial South Africa.

I told my parents I didn't think I would be able to serve in the IDF, I would be an objector and go to jail. They said "You will change your mind in three years, when all your friends go", but of course I knew I wouldn't. I didn't know how the jail would be, if I could survive afterwards, without a military record. Then we moved to the US, and the issue was mooted.

In the 1990s, I briefly considered myself an Israeli again, I was a strong supporter of Rabin and Peres. For those who don't know, the Rabin Peres plan essentially would have created a Palestinian state with open borders and free trade by 1997 or so. Peres modelled it on the EU, it was extremely close to being realized. It was defeated when a guy named "The Engineer" was murdered by Israel, after a several years-long truce. Then the paramilitaries mourned the bomb-maker with four simultaneous bus-bombings in Israel, after years of quiet, and Peres was defeated in one of the closest elections in Israeli history. Benjamin Netanyahu won, just after Rabin's assassination. That was the end, Israel was gone, it had been taken over by the right wing. I am not even sure if the assassination of the engineer wasn't a premeditated plot to defeat Peres.

Rabin's time was the last time Israel was a livable country for me. I am pretty sure that if not for the murder of "The Engineer", we would have peace in the Middle East today, it really was possible in 1994, really. It required active sabotage on both sides to stop it.

Now all the smart young Israelis and Palestinians flee, to Europe, to the US, and the ones that stay are right wingers and they bring up generation after generation of more and more hopelessly stupid right-wing children. So there is no chance for peace, unless it is imposed by pressure from outside. By outside, I mean the US. With enough external pressure, Israel can be coerced into making peace, but it is difficult, and it probably requires years of serious, serious, debilitating economic sanctions, like a complete boycott of all Israeli exports and imports. Israel's economy would collapse without external trade, it's a smaller country than South Africa. Divestment works.

I do understand that in 1948 there was an urgent need tor a place for Jewish refugees to flee to. I also can see the benefit in allowing unrestricted Jewish immigration to Palestine, I don't see any need to restrict anyone's right to emigrate anywhere.

But recognizing the need for unrestricted Jewish immigration is not the same as sitting around in 2014 pretending that the occupation is justified, or that new Jewish immigrants deserve a better deal than some guy whose olive grove was expropriated in 1948. Sorry, no way.