“Solution” Or Not, There’s Already a Palestinian State

1947 Partition plan for Palestine EN

On February 19, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu bragged that “I am the one who for decades blocked the establishment of a Palestinian state.” On February 21, the Knesset approved a resolution joining Netanyahu with, in his words,  “an overwhelming majority against the attempt to impose on us the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Apparently someone forgot to inform Netanyahu, and the Knesset, of several inconvenient facts, foremost among them that the state of Palestine was established in 1988,  eight years before his first term as prime minister.

The state of Palestine is recognized by 139 of the 193 United Nations member states (Israel is recognized by 165). It’s recognized as an observer state by the UN itself. It’s a member state of UNESCO, Interpol, and the International Criminal Court.

The state of Palestine generously claims less land than it’s entitled to under United Nations Resolution 181 (it’s willing to settle for a return to pre-1967 truce lines), while Israel occupies quite a bit more than it’s entitled to under that resolution.

UNR 181, by the way, is the international legal instrument which authorized the creation of Israel, which set its only internationally recognized borders, and which Israel agreed to as a condition of UN membership. To the extent that Israel violates UNR 181, Israel abdicates its status as a “legitimate” state.

To be fair, the state of Palestine also defies UNR 181, demanding part of Jerusalem for its capital … as does Israel. Per UNR 181, Jerusalem is supposed to be an “international city,” belonging to neither state and governed under UN auspices.

Whenever there’s talk of a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Arab conflict in Palestine, Israel and its backers — especially the US — pretend that any “second state” is a proposal for the future, a proposal that can be rejected, temporarily or permanently.

That little bit of propagandizing becomes less and less useful as time goes on. The state of Palestine is not a proposal, it’s a fact. Yes, much of the state of Palestine remains under foreign occupation, but few asserted that Poland and France ceased to exist while under German occupation during World War 2, or that Japan and Germany ceased to exist while under Allied occupation after that war.

I’m skeptical that two states really promise any “solution” to the conflict (I prefer a “no-state solution”), but the opening move toward ANY solution is recognizing reality. Trying to fantasize away the state of Palestine’s existence isn’t going to work.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Alabama IVF Ruling: When The Law Has A Personal Problem

Riddle: When is a frozen embryo actually a can of worms?

Answer: When the Alabama Supreme Court issues its ruling in LePage v. Mobile Infirmary Clinic, Inc., allowing the parents of several such embryos, created through in-vitro fertilization, to proceed with a wrongful death lawsuit after those embryos were accidentally destroyed.

You’ve probably heard at least two things about the ruling:

First, that it creates big issues for the continued use of IVF to help parents with fertility problems have children, with clinics fearing litigation or even prosecution if they offer the service.

Second, that the court includes religious sentiments and Bible citations on the santctity of life.

Both of those things are true, but they miss the point. The ruling doesn’t hang on those sentiments or citations. It hangs on the plain text of “black-letter law.” As the opening paragraph of the ruling’s “Analysis” section notes:

“The parties to these cases have raised many difficult questions, including ones about the ethical status of extrauterine children, the application of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution to such children, and the public-policy implications of treating extrauterine children as human beings. But the Court today need not address these questions because, as explained below, the relevant statutory text is clear.”

The justices’ hands were tied. The law said what it said, the law meant what it meant, and their job was to uphold it, not rewrite it or create exceptions to it: “Judges are required to conform our rulings ‘to the expressions of the legislature, to the letter of the statute,’ and to the Constitution , ‘without indulging a speculation, either upon the impolicy, or the hardship , of the law.'”

What — who — is a “person” or “child” deserving of particular rights and protections?

As a philosophical topic, that question quickly becomes interesting and highly debatable.

As a political and legal question, it’s likewise highly debatable and any answer produces controversial consequences.

LePage v. Mobile Infirmary Clinic, Inc. ain’t the first judicial rodeo on that question.

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decided to cut the baby in half — or, actually, in thirds — Solomon-style, allowing abortion on demand in the first trimester, regulation in the second, and prohibition in the third. It reversed that framing in Dobbs v. Jackson, leading inevitably to the current case.

But let’s look a lot further back to see how contentious the question is. Try this one on:

“[Black people were] a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them.”

That’s from the Supreme Court’s 1857 ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford, a ruling which was only subsequently and slowly modified.

Tough questions create hard cases, which in turn make for bad law — which then gets dropped in front of courts to make sense of … if they can.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Return of the “Student Loan Forgiveness” Vote-Buying Scheme

On February 21, the Biden administration announced a new $1.2 billion round of student loan forgiveness, with president Joe Biden personally notifying the 153,000 beneficiaries by email.

“I hope this relief gives you a little more breathing room,” Biden wrote. “I’ve heard from countless people who have told me that relieving the burden of their student loan debt will allow them to support themselves and their families, buy their first home, start a small business, and move forward with life plans they’ve put on hold.”

Coming atop more than 3.9 million previous recipients, that 153,000 may not seem like a lot, but let’s consider two other numbers.

In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump  beat Hillary Clinton with 304 electoral votes to her 227 — but by a total of less than 80,000 individual votes in three very close states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin).

In 2020, Biden coasted into office by beating Trump 306-232 in the electoral college. As in 2016, though, three key states (Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin) delivered that victory by a razor-thin popular vote margin of less than 45,000.

Biden’s hoping for “breathing room,” all right — but more for himself and his party than for those student borrowers.

Borrowers aren’t unimportant, of course. But Biden isn’t really looking at 153,000 borrowers. He’s looking at 153,000 VOTERS.

Plus a previous 3.9 million.

Plus all of those voters’ parents, spouses, children, and other loved ones who probably like the reduced monthly hit on their household incomes.

Like previous rounds, this latest write-off is a $1.2 billion campaign expenditure, one that doesn’t have to come out of the Biden campaign’s $56 million in cash reserves, or be raised with  donation drives.

Those of us who don’t have student loan balances hanging over our heads might not like it that much, but we probably won’t remember, remember on the 5th of November quite as bitterly as the beneficiaries will fondly.

And before we get temporarily outraged, it’s probably worth considering how OUR votes are bought.

They’re bought with “stimulus” checks.

They’re bought with farm subsidies.

They’re bought with government paychecks (including at second hand through contractors in industries ranging from “defense” to “infrastructure” and beyond).

They’re bought with newly created, or increased, “benefit” payouts of all kinds.

We’re all of us getting bribed, all the time — with our own money and with money from other Americans.

We’re supposed to remember the bribes we get, forget the bribes others got, and vote accordingly.

And we probably will.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.