If That Ain’t (a) Country, It’ll Harelip the Pope

Noah Feldman discusses a possible outcome of the Palestinian statehood bid:

He [Mahmoud Abbas] could also still do what most expected him to try this week: Take his request for statehood to the UN General Assembly, where the U.S. has no veto. A two-thirds vote there would upgrade Palestine from “observer entity” to “observer state,” like the Vatican.

Winning in the General Assembly might be particularly effective after losing in the Security Council since it would give countries the chance to repudiate the U.S. veto. And an observer state can participate in UN bodies and commissions.

International Court Jurisdiction

More practically, recognition as an observer state might help the Palestinian Authority reach its goal of getting the International Criminal Court to pronounce on Israel’s behavior in the territories and perhaps even declare the building of settlements a war crime. While the Palestinian leadership has asked the tribunal to take jurisdiction as if Palestine were a state, the ICC has never said “yes” or “no.” If Palestine becomes an observer state at the UN, however, that might strengthen its case.

Israel would certainly argue that a UN observer still isn’t a real state in the sense meant by the ICC treaty. Israel would also point out that the ICC can’t act if a country that has jurisdiction over an alleged crime has adequately investigated it. Israel’s robust judicial system regularly examines claims of war crimes against its soldiers and government. The question is whether the court would buy those arguments — and whether leverage would be gained for the peace process as a result.

Consider me skeptical about the virtues of giving the International Criminal Court a bigger caseload. Brendan O’Neill and Rob Lyons have raised timely objections to that institution’s image as a guarantor of peace and justice. At best, ICC charges against Israeli officials will achieve nothing. At worst, they will make the Israeli government — and, therefore, the U.S. government — even more intransigent.

Before you start typing that furious comment, let me explain something. I don’t think or write about Israeli-Palestinian issues much anymore, for two main reasons. One, I have enough tedium, futility, and hopelessness in my life already without the “peace process,” thanks, and two, any mention of Israel attracts the sort of people (on both sides) who could make a sunnier person than I wish that an asteroid would wipe out our sorry species. All I care to say about the matter these days — and I know that it’s terribly uncosmopolitan — is that the U.S. government should completely withdraw from the dispute and let the people who actually live there resolve their differences. Or not resolve them. Withdrawal might not lead to the lion lying down with the lamb, but it would solve the only problem that the U.S. government is capable of solving: the blowback that comes from intervening in other people’s fights.Who will disarm the papists?

As for the Palestinian ploy at the United Nations, perhaps it will result in an entirely new framework for fruitless discussion. For instance: Are the Vatican and Palestine real states, magically endowed with moral prerogatives to kill and dispossess that individuals and voluntary associations don’t have? Stay tuned!

20 thoughts on “If That Ain’t (a) Country, It’ll Harelip the Pope”

  1. “Before you start typing that furious comment, let me explain something. I don’t think or write about Israeli-Palestinian issues much anymore, for two main reasons. One, I have enough tedium, futility, and hopelessness in my life already without the “peace process,” thanks, and two, any mention of Israel attracts the sort of people (on both sides) who could make a sunnier person than I wish that an asteroid would wipe out our sorry species”__Poor you. I reserve my sympathy for the people of Palestine not Americans who live far from the horrors of life in the Gaza strip that live without sufficient food, water, health care, etc. I have no problem with cutting Israel off from aid

    1. Yeah, you're a good example of the type I was talking about. I said that the U.S. government should withdraw from the dispute entirely, which would obviously entail ending aid to Israel, but you were too engorged on your own slacktivist outrage to finish reading the post before commenting.

      1. I did read you post, since you cut off half of my comment I'm sure you will want to read the rest of it. If you can't stop crying about your horrible situation don't blame me. Poor widdle Matty. Also, if you don't think much about Israel and Palestine maybe you shouldn't be writing about it.
        As far as letting them handle it themselves (Israel/Palestine) we've already thrown the Palestinians under the Israeli bus. Yes, I saw you said we should pull out, which I said I agreed with, maybe your reading skills need improving. Your self pity could use some work as well, as in getting over it. I already have. Frankly, I'm beginning to wonder what you people are all aboutl after your rant and Raimondo's. What a bunch of snivelers.

  2. If the comments on any story about Israel are just too much for this writer's tender psyche to handle, then I fail to see why he's here writing and commenting on it. The laughable "peace process" obviously is intended (by Israel) to accomplish nothing while they continue to steal Arab land. The Palestinians simply are being forced to play their only hand, futile as it may (or may not!) be.

    1. Wow, you and the other genius seized on minutiae and missed the central point of this piece, which is that the "peace process" is tedious, futile, and hopeless, and the U.S. should get out of it. Good work.

      1. Hi genius, What you fail to realize is that the U.S. is not an honest peace broker. Neither the U.S. or Israel is interested in peace. Israel wants the Palestinians gone. That should be obvious even to someone who doesn't spend much time thinking about it. Your childish name calling is immature. At any rate the reason the U.S. should not be involved is because of U.S. dishonesty over the peace "talks" not because it is futile and hopeless. Get it? America is not working for peace so to say that we should stop working toward peace is silly.

        1. Yeah, replace the US with an 'honest' broker and the futility and hopelessness dissipate instantly. Maybe the Israelis and Palestinians can put an ad on Craigslist for one.

      2. America is not an honest broker, they claim to be and the whole world knows that it isn't, but damn if they will step aside and let an honest broker (like the UN or the EU) in to do the job. Asking for America to step aside is to ignore the nasty reality of our relationship to racist, land-stealing, thuggish Israel. If you are hoping for America to resist being Israel's jailhouse bitch, and pull its collective nose out of Israel's collective rump, you aren't hoping, you are dreaming.

  3. The author is being attacked for writing with some humour. Obviously his comment about having enough futility, etc. was a joke. I found it quite delightful actually. That being said, Rob Payne, I'm sure the Palestinians feel that much better now that they know they have your sympathy.

    It's obvious that achieving a slightly higher status according to the already useless protocols of the UN will do nothing for the Palestinians. The Israelis are one of the immune countries (see most countries in the western world) to being recognized for committing war crimes and it wouldn't matter if the debate of definitions became a little clearer or graying, either way. Israel doesn't live in the real world, and they remain immune to international criticism. They have proved that with the results of the general international condemnation of their actions up to this point. They will not be affected by anything the international community does.

    So the only thing the US can do is stop getting involved — small chance of that, obviously but it's the only way. Of course, that was the point of Barganier's piece, so I'm not really sure why he's being attacked here, if only for writing with a little personality, and what was in my mind, some wit.

    1. That Israel is immune is not quite true. Israel can do what it wants because of us but when the empire crumbles and America declares bankruptcy the Israeli will find themselves suddenly alone and surrounded by bitter enemies. Then perhaps they will wish they had been a little nicer to the neighbors but it will be too late. You think this is humor? Your comment about the Palestinians feeling better is stupid but then that is to be expected.

      1. I said Israel IS immune, not that they will be in the future. I agree — they will be nothing when America is nothing, which is coming shortly enough, but not the case currently.

        I do think it is humour, I supposed that's why I laughed when I read it. Sometimes when an author uses the means of self-deprecation as toward making a larger point it can be humourous and more entertaining than if somebody were to say: The peace process is flawed. The point is often more effectively made in this way as well.

        As for my "stupid" comment, I'll refer to an above post where you said somebody else was being childish and resorting to name calling. What I'm pointing out with my stupid comment is that your sympathy does little for the actual fact of Palestinian suffering and it is certainly not something you should use to distinguish yourself as morally superior than another person who has made a harmless joke about what is indeed a futile peace process.

        The author knows that the US isn't an honest broker but he also knows that even if the US were attempting to be an honest broker it wouldnt be able to be because of all the domestic political pressure placed upon it. Further, when intervention occurs, as in situations like these it almost always results in unintended consequences, and so the US would more effectively pull out entirely. Because they always screw things up even when they have good intentions (which may usually be never).

      2. Israel has a nuclear arsenal sufficient to deter any aggressor. Those "bitter enemies" know they would be annihilated if they launched a serious attack. All the more reason the US should get the hell out of that quagmire.

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