Israel’s Palestine Trilemma

In what feels like forever ago, I wrote about the trilemma facing the British government as it related to Brexit. Brexit presented Westminster with three choices, of which they could only make two as all three were, together, impossible. Once made, those two choices determined the outcome of Brexit. For better or worse, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made that decision.

We can apply the same trilemma system to Israel in relation to the circumstances of Israel and Palestine. I will skip the long history lesson here. Israel faces some tough decisions. I will also skip the critique of Israeli government policy over the last few decades that brought us to this point. Because here is where we are.

Israel needs to balance three things: the importance of being a representative democracy, of being a Jewish state, and of security control of Gaza and the West Bank for the security of Israel. Here is how that looks.

Tough choices.

If Israel wants to remain an ethnically Jewish state—I’m going to also skip the discourse about Jewishness as an ethnicity, though I will point to Judaism as an ethnic religion as opposed to the other Abrahamic universal religions of Christianity and Islam—and it wants to be retain security control over Palestine, i.e. the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, you have what we have today.

If Israel wants to remain an ethnically Jewish state and it wants to be a representative democracy, you get the Two-State Solution. In that scenario, Palestine, again conceived as Gaza and the West Bank, becomes a fully-fledged independent and sovereign state. Israel remains Jewish and Palestine becomes Arab. But, Israel loses the ability to police and militarily control Gaza and the West Bank, instead relying on its newfound partners in the Palestinian Authority or whatever becomes the executive government of Palestine. This has long been the goal of Middle East peace plans, but over the last decade or so you hear Two-State Solution less and less frequently.

Finally, if Israel wants to be a representative democracy, in which case both Jewish citizens and Arab–Israelis and Palestinians all have the right to full political representation without reservations, e.g. the loyalty oath, and it wants to maintain security control over Gaza and the West Bank, you get something I don’t hear often discussed outside foreign policy circles: a non-Jewish, multi-ethnic Israel. Today Arab–Israelis and Palestinians nearly—if not already—outnumber Jewish Israelis. In a representative democracy, it would be near impossible to maintain an ethnically Jewish state in a county where the Jewish population is in the minority. Consequently, Israel would almost certainly cease being a Jewish state.

One can tinker around the edges, e.g. what are the borders of a Two-State Solution West Bank, but broadly the policy choices above determine the three outcomes.

The outstanding question remains, what future does Israel want?

Credit for the piece is mine.

More on the Muslim Split in the Middle East

Yesterday we looked at the Economist’s work on breaking down the Sunni and Shia split throughout the Middle East. Let’s take a look at that again today, especially since the world’s largest Muslim nation dealt with a terror attack overnight. That’s right, Indonesia is actually the world’s largest Muslim country and it is also largely secular in nature. But, back to the Middle East where the New York Times put together an article exploring the two power blocs and the religious affiliations within.

A map of the region
A map of the region

The map provides a bit more detail on a few different sects that are relevant, especially the Wahhabists in Saudi Arabia.

Credit for the piece goes to Sarah Almukhtar, Sergio Peçanha, and Tim Wallace.

ISIS Throughout the World

ISIS is still a threat to the Middle East, evidenced by the US announcing yesterday that it is intensifying strikes against the quasi-state in both Syria and Iraq. But just where has ISIS spread? And are its attacks spreading? This New York Times piece looks at just those two questions. The first through an obvious map.

The geographic reach of ISIS at all points over time
The geographic reach of ISIS at all points over time

What the map does is show you where ISIS has attacked around the world over all time. So yes, it has global reach. But the map alone cannot show you if things are improving or getting worse. For that you need a visualisation type that can plot things over time. And as aforementioned, the piece includes that as well.

A spike in attacks this winter presaged a summer of terror
A spike in attacks this winter presaged a summer of terror

Unfortunately, it appears that yes, ISIS is attacking or at least attempting to attack more targets in more countries both within and without the Middle East and its declared provinces.

Credit for the piece goes to Karen Yourish, Derek Watkins, and Tom Giratikanon.