It is instructive to note that the date of the debate was 1961 where Toynbee all but says that Israel was a country born in sin. He abhors the notion of the nation state and has little sympathy for the new kid on the block. For those who think that the settlements are the crux of the conflict, look at the arguments that Toynbee makes that delegitimates the UN decision for partition–that same UN that soon will be used as a pawn for the unilateral declaration of Palestine.
Please don’t misunderstand, I believe an accommodation with Palestinians will have to be made, and the settlements create unnecessary friction that makes Israel too easy of a target, but it is also clear that they create a distraction from what used to be on the front burner which was Toynbee’s understanding of the conflict’s origins.
What has changed since then is that many in the liberal Jewish community have begun to buy Toynbee’s arguments hook, line, and sinker. The settlement policy has made it easier for these Jews to not only disengage from Israel, but to actively condemn this colonial power in the heart of the Middle East. The late Tony Judt was very much Toynbee’s heir, and although what is created in academia usually stays in academia–these arguments are part of popular political discourse beyond the ivory tower.
Anyone who believes that what’s at stake can only be dated back to 1967 should think again.