Israel's New Administration

Today marks Binyamin Netanyahu's first day in office in Israel. As expected, many have been speculating and providing commentary on how they think the new Israeli administration will fair, especially in relation to its most important foreign (and domestic) affair: its on-going conflict with Palestine. John Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt have written extensively on the subject (especially about the Israel lobby in America) and also chimed in on the topic recently. In an essay published in Foreign Policy Magazine (one of my favorite publications since my high school days), Mearsheimer wrote about what he thought the new administration would do in its tenure.

I also recently had the chance to attend a talk with Norman Finkelstein and Ali Abuminah on campus, and they spoke about the same topic, but more in reference to the historical context. Below are some highlights from both the Mearsheimer essay and the Finkelstein/Abuminah talk -

1. Finkelstein: Israel has never conducted a war of necessity. All armed conflict has been a choice on Israel's part.

2. Finkelstein/Abuminah: Israel has no reason to support a two-state solution because it benefits too greatly from its hegemonic rule in the area.

3. Mearsheimer: Netanyahu is expected to continue Israel's growth in the West Bank and establishment of a Greater Israel. He also is only expected to pay scarce lip-service to a two-state solution and will continue to conceptualize Palestinians as terrorists. (In fact, he has yet to refer to Palestine as a state).

Overall, I found Finkelstein and Abuminah to be less than academic. Their talks were highly one-sided and almost refused to take a critical look at the actions of such organizations as Hizbollah (or Hezbollah). Abuminah, although not an academic, is a trained journalist, and was not speaking in a journalist's capacity, did not strive for any kind of a dichotomous analysis.

Mearsheimer and Walt, although I have disagreed with them in the past in terms of the Israel lobby's influence on American law-makers, did create an impressive question to leave readers with: What exactly is the benefit for Jews from Israel's expansionist policies? Although some would respond by asking why Israel needs to justify its political actions, I would ask in return, why the justification comes as such a burden when in fact millions of people's lives are in question.