Peter Beaumont, Observer's foreign affairs editor, published in The Guardian's CiF a strange piece, titled Israel's right to exist does not mean its government can act with impunity. This here blog has already had a few run-ins with Mr Beaumont, due to his strange way of interpreting some obvious facts. This recent article is not an exception, but looks much more cryptic. It starts with:
Last year the Israeli Reut Institute published a report examining what it said was the agenda for eroding Israel's legitimacy in the international arena – an aim, it argued, whose end was to turn Israel into a "pariah" state and challenge its "very legitimacy of its existence as a Jewish and democratic state".OK, so how does the author deal with that issue? By offering a learned discourse on three "overlapping concepts" that together are supposed to cover the concept of legitimacy (by Ian Clark, author of Legitimacy in International Society).
First is the notion of the sovereign integrity of countries as states recognised by the international community and enshrined in international law.
A second notion of legitimacy – familiar and well-studied from Hobbes onwards – is the legitimacy a government claims through the support of its citizens, in the case of a democracy via an electoral mandate, to represent for a period of time the policies of a given state.
The third crucial notion of international legitimacy is Clark's category of "appropriate forms of ... conduct". It is in precisely in this area that the government, a regime or series of governments of a state can be seen to relinquish legitimacy both through its acts and how they are perceived over a period of time.So, OK, you may ask, but where does Mr Beaumont go with these cutting edge definitions? I wish I knew is my answer. The only hint he offers is:
The distinctions are crucially important because in the deliberate conflation of the competing spheres of legitimacy by some of those who support Israel, they are making an essentially undemocratic argument utilising Israel's right to exist as an argument for impunity.I don't know who are meant by "some of those who support Israel" and what kind of "undemocratic argument" they are making, "utilising Israel's right to exist as an argument", according to this elliptical article. And of course, impunity being so dear to my crusty Zionist soul, I smell a rat.
It (the rat) smells suspiciously similar to the one that carries the ubiquitous "I don't have anything against Jews, but them freaking Zionists..." slogan.
Oh well, let's see where it goes. Or do you already know?
Update: Much better here, by Norm. Thanks to Pisa.