Israel's Bubbles

A fascinating conversation with Benjamin Kerstein over at Totten's that emphasizes the psychological forces at work in Israel that impede any reconciliation with the Palestinians. I disagree with the notion that the US should not and cannot demand a freeze of the illegal settlements on the West Bank - or that this is so utopian it cannot be taken seriously. But there's a lot of nuance in the discussion - and candor. Money quote:

MJT: What do you think will happen here if Iran gets nuclear weapons? I’m assuming here that Iran won’t actually nuke Tel Aviv, but will occasionally threaten to do it.

Benjamin Kerstein: I don’t know. Israelis have learned to put up with a lot. My guess is that our reaction would be to go public with our own nuclear program, if it exists. [Laughs.] We may end up in a state of uneasy deterrence, like with India and Pakistan.

MJT: India and Pakistan have come close to nuclear war a couple of times.

Benjamin Kerstein: That’s true. I think Israeli society will endure. We’ve faced existential threats in the past. People forget that. The military power the Arab states tried to bring to bear against Israel in the 1960s and 1970s would have been just as destructive as a nuclear bomb. Israel prevailed against them from a weaker position. Still, this is an outcome everyone should do everything possible to avoid.

And yet if Netanyahu were to order a strike on Iran, Kerstein would support him. As I said, the psychology is what's interesting.