Pasta and Palestine's right to exist

While our own Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in the Middle East proclaiming “vigorous” support for a Palestinian state, there are serious doubts that Israel’s new leaders (Benjamin Netanyahu primarily) will even pretend to support the Palestinians right to self determination. In fact, they seem determined to undermine it.

Matthew Yglesias had two thought-provoking posts about this subject on Monday that are definitely worth reading. The first dealt with the blockade on Gaza that until recently denied shipments of pasta to the Palestinians:

But still, stop and think for a minute about how this looks through the eyes of a young Palestinian. Israel has the right to decide what can and can’t be sent to Gaza. Yesterday, pasta couldn’t be. Today it can. But what about dried beans? Cornmeal? What if I should want to send a box of Sour Patch Kids to Gaza—well, I probably couldn’t. That’s not bona fide humanitarian aid, and Gaza is under blockade. An act of war that targets the entire civilian population of the strip. And Israel’s Prime Minister says Israel can never agree to an independent Palestinian state. And the whole international community is okay with this. Nobody is trying to break the blockade. Instead, Palestinians are supposed to learn that terrorism is wrong (it targets civilians!) and that it’s important to recognize Israel’s right to exist. But somehow nobody wants to teach these lessons to the Israelis.

If Israel’s blockade of Gaza is targeting basic foods, then it’s not merely a way to keep weapons from reaching Gaza, but a way to collectively punish the Palestinians. That should be completely unacceptable to anyone with a basic sense of compassion for human suffering.

Yglesias’s second post turns a typical line of attack on the Palestinians against Netanyahu and his opposition to a Palestinian state:

Needless to say, an Arab who refused to concede Israel’s “right to exist” would be considered persona non grata in the United States. And I don’t think a Palestinian leader who said he wasn’t opposed to the existence of Israel, he just wanted to disband the IDF, establish Palestinian control over Israeli airspace and EM spectrum, and give Palestine control over all of Israel’s borders would be taken very seriously. As it seems a democratic process has put Netanyahu in office as Prime Minister, he needs to be dealt with. But his current policy should be seen as what it is; an effort to avoid the creation of a sovereign Palestine under any circumstances.

If that’s true, will the next few years see the hope for a Palestinian state die? And if so, what does that mean for Israel?