Are Settlements the Real Problem?

The recent U.S. offer of $2 billion in military aid, plus diplomatic guarantees, to secure a 90-day settlement freeze from the Israelis misses the point entirely, argues The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens. The fact is, he says, there is no deal to be had between Israelis and Palestinians, and settlements are merely an alibi for what really ails the Palestinians: an illiberal government controlled by an increasingly radical brand of political Islam. The West Bank-based blogger known pseudonymously as Waleed al-Husseini is a case in point. After controversially writing about why he left Islam to become an atheist, and denigrating religion as authoritarian and stupid, residents of his own hometown are calling for him to be burned alive, he is incarcerated incommunicado and faces life in prison. Stephens takes the Associated Press to task for reporting that the blogger “left authorities no choice but to take action." A rep for the AP informed The Daily Beast that the phrasing was deemed ill considered, and edited out in a later version that went out on the AP wire. If Palestinians can’t abide a free-thinker in their midst, Stephens asks, how can they hope to ever be free themselves?