"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size
Today, on the other hand, although Dave is once more writing about
"The Little State You Love To Hate", I am not so much a fan. The official line of Aaronovitch Watch is that we are "tough on terrorism and tough on the causes of terrorism", but that doesn't mean that we can't spot a bit of crocodile-tears imperialism when it gets going.
My view of all Aaro columns on the subject of Israel is very much jaundiced by the fact that when shite came to bust in Lebanon last year, he was an apologist for war crimes. Bombing those tower blocks was a clear and simple act of collective punishment of a civilian population and anyone with eyes in their head knew it. Norman Geras saw it and said so. Aaro had the chance to say so and with a brief pause for "yes but", he staked out a position well to the right of the debate. This has caused me to view everything he's written on the subject with suspicion; although we rather like Decent Dave on this blog, we do have to remember that it was started for a reason, and that reason was that Aaro supports the regular and largely unconstrained use of state violence to promote his political views.
Any road up, as you can tell I am still pissed off about that episode, but on to the actual column. If the Times were truncated by about three inches, there would be nothing to object to and we would be driving our readers mad again by saying it was an all right Aaro column. His summary of what happened in the Six Day War and how its aftermath has poisoned regional politics for the last forty years is more or less OK. I might even give him his cheap shot at the academic boycott, given that the alternative would have been to have written a whole column about that subject, which I think we can agree would have been a lose/lose situation all round.
But the sting's in the last paragraph, as it so often is. It's the thing that you so often have to watch out for in "reasonable liberal" commentary; once we have recited our paternosters about the two-state solution, the peace process, blah di blah, all too often comes the Great Lamentation:"But Alack and Allay! Misere! There is Nobody On The Other Side To Negotiate With! Cruel Fate! To Be So Near To A Solution And Yet So Far! Lament! Lament!
This ritual utterance is probably not even made in bad faith most of the time, but its practical effect is horrible. It's a form of words that allows a well-meaning liberal to recognise the clear facts of the matter and the justice of the case, but to then walk away from any political consequences of those facts, by simply constructing a set of reasons to declare one side unfit to negotiate with, and therefore to implicitly endorse the status quo. You then round it off with a pious hope for a Palestinian Gandhi figure to appear at some point in the future beyond Scott Fitzgerald's ever-receding green light, and it's back to the bulldozers and tanks guys. Aaro's last two sentences in the column linked above are actually laughable.
Look, who the hell do you have peace talks with, if not your deadly enemies? There's not much point in having peace talks with your friends. There is simply no excuse for not supporting (or even demanding, since we have apparently just got into the business of putting a cardboard box on our heads and pretending to be Henry Kissinger) good faith negotiations, based on what Aaro is correct to point out has been the obvious solution that everyone's known about for years. And the activity of finding excuses for not having those negotiations is unworthy and bad, no matter how reasoned and reasonable the argument that precedes it might be.
 Note that I am not in a position to announce official lines on anything and nor are any other AW writers. So far from forming a coherent group, many of the AW team do not form coherent individuals. Don't go looking for consistency here.
 Actually it was started in a fit of pique over a joke about bruschetta, but look at the fucking big picture here will you?