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Yasir Arafat's Op-ed Piece

By shellac in Op-Ed
Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 10:33:18 AM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

Yasir Arafat has written an impassioned op-ed piece for the New York Times (free registration required) outlining his vision for the future of the Palestinians. It is well-written and does not waste words. Arafat states his desire to return to peace talks and expresses regret at the activities of the Palestinian fringe which has resorted to suicide bombings. He asks for Palestinians displaced from their homes 54 years ago to be allowed to return, while acknowledging Israel's demographic concerns. He asks for an end to occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people.

I think Arafat's requests are reasonable. It is unfortunate that the Bush administration has not aggressively pursued peace talks and that Israel has such a powerful right-wing. I think Arafat correctly calls the suicide bombers the symptoms and not the disease.

America seems to have failed to learn the seemingly obvious foreign policy lessons of September 11th. America's unilateral support for Israel is a horrendous PR move; it fosters mistrust with a billion Muslims around the world and spawns terrorists. Is it really worth it to spend all of this money on security and to take away the personal freedoms and privacy of American citizens, while at the same time facilitating the subjugation of an entire people? Is it worth another September 11th? I think most Americans do not know about the history of the Israeli occupation, and about how much financial and military aid Israel receives, or it would not be tolerated so. What is all of this for, the relatively small Jewish American vote, or more likely the powerful Jewish lobby?

Why not decrease military aid to Israel and instead provide humanitarian aid to both Israel and Palestine? The US should put its foreign policy in line with international law and UN accords. This would remove much of the ammo that Islamic militants have towards the US, and possibly decrease the terrorist threat in the future. More importantly, it is the morally correct thing to do, and the humanitarian thing for Palestinians tired of being occupied and Israelis tired of living in fear.


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Arafat's demands are
o reasonable, and the peace talks should be restarted 67%
o reasonable, but he should be punished for that arms shipment (keep in mind Israel is armed to the teeth) 5%
o reasonable, but he should be punished for Palestinian suicide bombers 4%
o unreasonable; he asks for too much 7%
o all your Palestinian homeland are belong to us 11%
o Inoshiro 5%

Votes: 97
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o impassione d op-ed piece
o New York Times
o Also by shellac

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Yasir Arafat's Op-ed Piece | 129 comments (125 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Arafat's fundamental problem (3.78 / 14) (#2)
by lordsutch on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 03:15:51 AM EST

Arafat's fundamental problem is that for years he's been trying to play both sides of the aisle: saying what the Israelis and (more importantly) the Americans want to hear, but at the very least tolerating, if not encouraging others to continue, the intifada by elements of his own Fatah group and the rest of the Palestinian movement.

For what it's worth, I don't know that there can be any progress while Arafat is still around, because the Israelis aren't going to ditch Sharon until they see someone more trustworthy (even if more radical) leading the Palestinians.

As for your points about US foreign policy, IMHO the US should just get out of the middle of this one, which means no more subsidies for anyone (Egypt, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinains, whomever). If they want to kill each other, by all means let them... I don't think they're that stupid, but you never know.

Linux CDs. Schuyler Fisk can sell me long distance anytime.

Intifadha (4.50 / 2) (#70)
by ichihi on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 07:02:17 PM EST

A war, anywhere on Earth, is never a good thing to anyone on Earth, at some point it will fireback. Remember September 11th? The Palestinians regard Intifadha as a "National Resistance", some even regard the suicide bombing as Resistance against occupation. It's probably why only the US and Israel are the only nations in the World not to sign the UN resolution against International Terrorism (http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/freelance/generalassembly.htm).. Some back this thinking by statements like: "What pushes a young Palestinian to blow himself other than a deep and bitter oppression?". I think that Arafat was doing the ugly job of trying to please everyone until everyone got upset at him. It's easy for Israelis to blame the 10 years old police force and Arafat for not stopping suicide bombing as if Israelis themselves could stop them? Around fall 2001 Arafat ordered to stop students marches and his Police killed two students and asked for civilian control devices from the Israeli police.. Instead of blaming Arafat, I think it would be better to help him control those who, apparently, do against his will. How hard is it for Israel to retreat from the territories occupied in 1967 as per UN resolutions and dismentle the settlements? How the Palestinians would negociate for land while Israel is building more settelments and destroying Palestinians homes? At least there will be no reasons for suicide! I'm personnaly not a big fan of Arafat and to much less of Sharon, but I'm not sure whether removing him from the political scene would do any good in a very fragile and explosive situation.

[ Parent ]
Playing both sides of the aisle (3.00 / 1) (#104)
by beak on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 06:04:42 AM EST

Arafat is not the only person in the world playing both sides... It is the survival instinct of any politician...

Keeping to the current issue: Sharon has spoken many times how Arafat is irrelevant, and recently, how he regrets not having killed him (Thus pleasing the Israli right), whilst simultaneously saying how he could still be a partner for peace (thus pleasing the Israli left)...

[ Parent ]

The main problem that I see (4.89 / 19) (#3)
by Delirium on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 03:35:14 AM EST

Is that people on both sides, even many of those who profess to want peace, are not really committed to the idea of two states for two peoples. Many Palestinians are still upset about being kicked out of their homes in the creation of Israel (remember, in the 1920s the entire area was only 3% Jewish, so many Arabs had to be displaced to reach the current demographic makeup). So even many of those who say they only want the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel would really like to see the destruction of Israel; they just argue the other position as the next best thing.

And the same goes on the Israeli side - many Israelis, even those who profess to only want peace and security, would really like the expansion of Israel to its biblical boundaries, at least as much as possible. This is the reason settlements exist (if Israel didn't want to eventually drive the Arabs out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and annex the territory, they wouldn't be so aggressive in moving large numbers of Jewish people in to displace the Arabs).

So both sides need to stop all this, and actually work towards two states for two peoples. Not "we'd really like the entire area, but we'll grudgingly give the other side part of it as the next best choice." I don't think the current leaders can do this, partly because neither of them has any trust from the other side. Arafat has changed his mind and been sneaky too many times over the past few decades for the Israelis to seriously trust him (some of it was necessary to keep himself from getting ousted by radicals, but he still doesn't inspire much trust in the Israelis). And Sharon is quite possibly the absolute worst person the Israelis could have as Prime Minister, as he's too inextricably linked with the Lebanon massacres of 1982 for the Palestinians to trust him. You've got a leader possibly linked to terrorists on one side and a leader possibly linked to war crimes on the other side; that doesn't bode well for peace.

There are a few bright spots though. On the Israeli side, Shimon Peres (protegé of Yitzak Rabin, former prime minister, and current foreign minister), is I believe still very much committed to peace, even using the word "Palestine" to refer to a future Palestinian state. On the Palestinian side, Sari Nusseibeh (the top PA representative in mostly-Arab East Jerusalem and the de facto "mayor" of the Palestinians there) is very much committed to peace, even explicitly rejecting some common Palestinian demands as unreasonable; in particular, he argues the Palestinian demand for the right of return of refugees is incompatable with a two states policy, and instead the Palestinians should agree to absorb the refugees into Palestine if in return the Israelis dismantle the settlements in the occupied territories and absorb their residents back into Israel (or as he more eloquently puts it, "the Palestinians have to realize that if we are to reach an agreement on two states, then those two states will have to be one for the Israelis and one for the Palestinians, not one for the Palestinians and the other also for the Palestinians").

My fear is that it won't stop any time soon (4.20 / 5) (#24)
by Hobbes2100 on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 12:10:19 PM EST

So both sides need to stop all this, and actually work towards two states for two peoples.

The question then becomes what will force these two groups of people to stop. I'm quite concerned that it will not stop until there has been enough bloodshed that everyone (or almost everyone) becomes so weary of burying their loved ones that they prefer peace to their pride.

I think Delirium is right. Until the real, underlying attitude is that both sides really want two countries and not that both sides will settle for two countries (while really wanting obliteration of the other, we're not going to see progress.

On the other hand, if this is the case, what can the world do to motivate these people to prefer peace to war before the war claims thousands more?

Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? --Iuvenalis
But who will guard the guardians themselves? -- Juvenal
[ Parent ]

Is there another way? (4.25 / 4) (#34)
by Weezul on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 01:52:58 PM EST

<i>I'm quite concerned that it will not stop until there has been enough bloodshed that everyone (or almost everyone) becomes so weary of burying their loved ones that they prefer peace to their pride.</i>

Do we ever see these things end any other way?

Sharon dose not really want peace, but the israelis have very oftin ellected leaders who truely want peace. I think the only real limiting factor is getting a Palistinain leader who truely wants peace. I think this will take the Palisitians a very long time. It can not happen under Arafat's crappy micromanagment.

At this point the only thing that matters is what happens when Arafat dies. If the Palistinains end up holding real ellections, we could see peace within a few electoral cycles. If the Palistinains appoint a new Arafat style dictator, we will not see peace for 50 years.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
Can't help Israel! (2.22 / 9) (#4)
by xriso on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 03:49:30 AM EST

The big evil Muslims will come after us for trying to be nice to the Jews! We had better comply with their demands! </unserious>

Seriously, if the US is going to actually try to change Israel's mind, we could either

  • Bomb them into little bits and then send our soldiers over to stomp on those little bits until they DIE DIE DIE.
  • OR Do what we're doing right now and peacefully change their minds. Also known as "The Canadian Way" ;-)
Note that the US "doing nothing" wouldn't be a very large motivation for Israel to do anything like being nicer to Pals. Also, I think one of the major reasons for muslim terrorism against the US was because the US is full of immoral infidel scum, etc etc.

Perhaps one reason for the aid to Israel is to serve as a sort of buffer against terrorists, as Israel seems to be a pretty hot target for them. If they succeed in taking Israel, then where will they go to do suicide-bombings?
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)

Israel (3.90 / 10) (#6)
by twodot72 on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 05:17:11 AM EST

Well, bombing Israel is hardly a good option, but a problem with the US government policy is, in my opinion, that they are such strong backers of Israel. For instance, every time the UN even thinks of blaming Israel for something, the US is there with its veto.

I think the peace process would benefit from the US playing a more impartial role. On the other hand, judging by the stubbornness of both sides when it comes to finding compromises, even that might not help very much...

[ Parent ]

changing their mind? (3.71 / 7) (#9)
by linca on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 07:56:51 AM EST

Are you sure Georges W. Bush wants to change Sharon's mind? His actions seem to go in the way of supporting the "Israel is victim of terrorism, like the US. Bomb the Palestinians to bits". However, "terrorists" are not a single group of people. I doubt the Palestinians that suicide-bomb in Israel would go after the US. They don't care about the US, mostly. They want Israel to stop destroying their houses, occupying their land, preventing them from moving around Palestine.

[ Parent ]
Symptoms and diseases (3.81 / 11) (#5)
by kzin on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 04:25:59 AM EST

As far as Israelis are concerned, suicide bombings and terrorism are the disease, one which is being militarily reacted to. People on one side treating their own agendas as the core of the problem and looking at the other side's issues as unimportant is precisely the kind of attitude that got us this far.

symptom and disease (4.00 / 7) (#7)
by linca on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 07:51:08 AM EST

The disease is that Israel Jews and Palestinians both want to live on the same piece of land.

The symptoms are destructions of the houses of the palestinians, Military occupation of their land, terrorist attacks in Israel land.

When a doctor cures a patient, he goes after the disease, not the symptoms. The problem with Israel's policy is that it goes after the symptoms, and thus won't work.

[ Parent ]
Symptom and disease (3.40 / 5) (#11)
by kzin on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 08:23:32 AM EST

If the disease is that both peoples want to live on the same land, then it is uncurable, because both peoples will probably stick around for a while. We are trying to solve some more immediate problems.

Perhaps my point was not understood well enough. I was criticizing Arafat's claim that terrorism is merely the symptom. But of course that is only a symptom from Palestinian perspective! From an Israeli perspective, on the other hand, terrorism is the entirety of the problem, and Israeli military response is merely the necessary symptom of it. What Arafat's statement tells me is basically "I think we should only concentrate on Palestinian interests." That's hardly an encouraging stand.

[ Parent ]

Symptom vs Disease (3.85 / 7) (#12)
by linca on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 08:38:05 AM EST

That was what I was pointing out. As long as Israel see the terrorism as the disease, and tries to solve that problem without even trying to understand its causes, Israel won't get rid of terrorism. You can't cure a disease by curing its symptoms, it doesn't work. As long as Israel destroy houses in the West Bank and Gaza, as long as it puts colonists there, there will be terrorism. What I am saying is that the Israeli perspective is too narrow, and that it won't cure the disease this way.

Of course, there remains the problem of wether Sharon wants any peace at all, or wether he thinks that keeping a warlike mood in Israel is better for his staying in power, a la Bush.

[ Parent ]
Symptom vs Disease (3.50 / 4) (#16)
by kzin on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 10:07:55 AM EST

I'm still not getting through. I was not talking about the Israeli perspective, I was talking about Arafat's. A large number of Israelis are well aware of Palestinian needs, hence the peace process to start with. It's just that high ideals and empathy with the other tend to lose a lot of their abstract attraction when one feels a sword on their neck, which is indeed how many Israelis feel. How relatively bad is Israel's situation compared to the Palestinians does not even matter -- what matters is subjective feeling, of Israelis as well as Palestinians.

The Oslo accords attempted to take care of the historical dispute by gradually giving Palestinians more independence, while along with this independence came a way to slowly improve the feelings of the two peoples. The Palestinians needed to show the Israelis that they are "just people" too, who are safe to live next to, by stopping terrorists among themselves and thereby make increasing co-operation necessary for the security of both. That did not happen, but it may yet happen. But by saying "terrorism is a symptom of your own actions, i.e., your fault and your problem" Arafat is taking the conflict all the way back. It is not a symptom. It is a responsibility -- a responsibility of Arafat. Terrorism is not just Israel's problem, terrorism is a Palestinian problem, just as the lack of complete and fair Palestinian self-rule is an Israeli problem. I don't see any such acceptance of responsibility in Arafat's article. Nor in his actions.

[ Parent ]

Oh, of course (4.23 / 13) (#8)
by Simon Kinahan on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 07:52:22 AM EST

The fact Sharon deliberately provoked this intifada by going on his little stroll around Temple Mount - which was not only a violation of the deal that gives control to the Muslim authorities, but a breach of *Jewish* religious law - is of no moral consequence whatsoever. Nor is the fact that Israel continued illegally demolishing Palestinian homes and building settlements during the entire period where the Oslo agreement was effective.

Although I quite agree with your sentiments, that both sides need to acknowledge the other's concerns, we also have to face up to the fact that the recent descent back into chaos is the fault of successive Israeli governments, and most especially of Sharon. They had peace. They failed to capitalise on it, failed of fulfill their obligations under Oslo, and that psychopath deliberately provoked a new intifada in order to win an election. Now they have war again. Fashionable winging about "terrorism" (as if demolishing homes and shooting schoolchildren weren't terrorism) is a disengenuous attempt to exploit America's foreign policy concerns and nothing else.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Moral consequence? (3.16 / 6) (#15)
by kzin on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 09:26:04 AM EST

Now, that is a reply consisting entirely of one-sided hatemongering, making no attempt to address either the issues raised in the article or the ones in the post you were replying to. If your point was that the way the conflict started* precludes any possibility of neutral and balanced discussion of possible ways to solve it, consider your point made.

* I see no point in discussing how it started yet again. Please see this past thread. Your new points, not yet mentioned there, are (1) that the Israel-Waqf deal denies non-Muslims the right to visit the Temple Mount, and that is false, and (2) that such a visit is against the Jewish religeon, which is either true or false depending on which Jewish school of thought you belong to, if, indeed, you belong to any.

[ Parent ]

Hatemongering ? (4.50 / 8) (#19)
by Simon Kinahan on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 10:47:40 AM EST

Tell me, please, where in my post did I attempt to incite #hatred ? Thats a very serious accusation, and I find myself, against my better judgement, to be offended. I'd like you to explain or retract, please.

Your post, to which I replied, seemed to be saying "The Israelis see the Palestinians as terrorists. That concern has to be considered". Now, in itself, I don't disagree with that; violence in bad, and we should endeavour to end it. However, that concern is currrently being deployed as an excuse for ongoing Israeli millitary action while demanding the the Palestinians just stand still and take it. As a demand, that is completely impractical, not to mention callously inhumane. Looking at your post, I don't know whether you endorse that view or not, but I think it to be warranted, given that it seems to be the view of the Israeli government, to point out that they, and most especially their current prime minister, bear no small share (I'm not going to claim that they bear they entire share), of the blame for the current outbreak of violence.

I agree that "who started it" is a boring argument, and for the sake of constructive discussion I'll concede your points concerning Sharon's trip to Temple Mount. I don't believe it significantly changes things: the onus in seeking peace still has to be on Israel, and their current claim that because the Palestinians are "terrorists" the onus is on them is disingenuous. Not only does the situation on the ground - in which Israel in incontestibly in command militarily and has suffered far fewer casualties - dictate this, but so does the inexcusable policy of ongoing settlement building. It is unreasonable to expect the Palestinians to stop fighting while these things are ongoing.

This is my concern about your apparent view: by saying "there is fault, and legitimate interests on both sides", you come very close to endorsing the view that Israel can continue to "fight terrorism" and any attempt by the Palestinians to fight back is unacceptable, because Israel is the de-facto lawful authority and therefore *can* arrest people who fire guns and explode bombs.

I emphatically do not believe that there is no possible resolution. In fact, I'd like to offer as in counterpoint another peace process that started at around the same time, and has so far fared better, although it has had its problems: Ireland. Although the IRA did take a degree of initiative in declaring a cease-fire, it did so only because the British government had declared itself willing to negotiate, and to overlook offenses committed in the name of politics, and in doing so had gone against its former policy against negotiating with terrorists. A similar policy, accompanied by an end to settlment building (the analogous policy ended in Ireland by 1700, thank god), would seem the only hope for Palestine.

If Ireland is an unsatisfactory example for some reason, consider South Africa. The course of action seems to be the same. To get peace, you must first accept the need to negotiate with terrorists, and obtain a cease fire on both sides, including a willingness to overlook political offenses, and halt the grosser causes of discontent, and even release prisoners. Only once the government has embarked on that process can it reach a deal with insurgents that has any chance of being honoured.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Agenda (2.50 / 6) (#21)
by kzin on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 11:41:08 AM EST

Very well. In your original post I find irrelevant demeaning ("little stroll"), unbacked accusations ("deliberately provoked a new intifada in order to win elections"), complete one-sided rhetorics (all over), and plain name calling ("that psychopath"). I was talking precisely about taking into account both sides when considering a solution. Since you took it as a nothing more than a chance to sound off about how terrible the Israeli government is, I was offended.

You seem to be confusing my position, one which expects certain statements and actions from Arafat, with one that places the sole blame and responsibility on Arafat. But I am not interested in placing blame -- for any purpose.

[ Parent ]

No Agenda (4.37 / 8) (#23)
by Simon Kinahan on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 12:08:31 PM EST

I have no agenda at all in this, apart from a preference for peace. If you were upset by post, I am sorry about that, it wasn't my intention, but I note nothing you've substantiated amounts to hatemongering, and I'd like to stress that I do *not* hate anyone concerned or want anyone else to. Since you've failed to back up your assertion, I'll have that retraction now please.

I don't actually think the Israeli government is terrible. As a matter of fact, another factor that places the onus on Israel to make the first moves towards peace is that Israel does have a democratic and largely law-governed society and the Palestinians don't. I do, however, think Israel has failed to do what it needs to do to achieve peace, as detailed above. Given that other governments in similar situations have done what needed to be done, that is certainly a failing. I note you've not tackled any of these arguments.

I do, however, think Sharon is the scum of the earth. Admittedly my precise psychological diagnosis may be wrong, but he's a thug, and he has set back the peace process by years.

I'm not interested in blame in itself either. What I am interested in is responsibiltiy, and while blame does contribute to responsibility, its not the only factor. My original point was not to demonise Israel or its government, but to point out that your conception of "fault on both sides" is basically an endorsement of current Israeli policy: that the PA are terrorists who need to stop fighting or be punished as criminals. That policy, which you have now more or less said you support (although you're not totally clear), is impossible for Arafat to comply with. There is no way any leader can stop military action while under assault with no promise of reciprocation. Even if he *wanted* to, which I doubt, he couldn't. The Israeli government has a *responsibility* as I described above, to deal with the situation as it actually is and engage with the Palestinians as negotiating partners. The current policy is *irresponsible*, because its based on a pretence and its going to bring about a future that will be worse for everyone.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Oh, please (4.18 / 11) (#26)
by Stickerboy on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 12:58:23 PM EST

I have to agree with kzin, not on the hatemongering charge, but with the complete one-sidedness of your post.

Given that other governments in similar situations have done what needed to be done, that is certainly a failing.

And who would that be? India and Pakistan? Oh, wait. Russia and Chechnya? Whoops. Croatia and Serbia? Maybe not. Indonesia and East Timor? Hmm... The fact is, no government has run into Israel's (and Palestine's) problems and come up with a viable, nonviolent solution yet.

Ariel Sharon is not the problem with the Israeli position; removing him from power won't change a thing. The reason? The Israeli people perceive a hostile Palestinian people bent on revenge and destruction of their state (and it certainly doesn't help that Palestinian television, radio, and state education is brainwashing Palestinian children to think of all of Israel as their Palestine). They hear calls for peace from the Palestinian side, but all they feel is the suicide bombings and mortar attacks that rock Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities. They don't believe that any Palestinian wants peace; they believe that given half a chance, the Palestinians would try to effect a military solution to "drive the Israelis into the sea" (I can't remember which Palestinian said that). The natural reaction of a people under attack is not to wave the white flag, but to hit back, and to hit back hard. Removing Ariel Sharon won't change a thing; 70% of Israelis believe he's doing the right thing, and most of the other 30% believe he should be taking stronger measures against the Palestinians. Removing Ariel Sharon will simply put a harder-line version of Ariel Sharon in power. Calling him a "psychopath" is to completely ignore the underlying psyche and line of reasoning that drives current Israeli policy in the first place.

Both sides are to blame here. The Palestinians someday have to wake up to the fact that suicide bombings and mortar attacks against civilians does not accomplish anything except turning world opinion against them. Terrorism does not win you territory or arguments - it just makes you look like the bad guy, like they're currently being perceived as. The Palestinians don't just want "a state", they want "a state with Jerusalem under their control and the right of all Palestinian refugees to take back their homes", and the reason the Camp David accords failed is because Arafat perceived that the Palestinian people would not accept any compromise on those issues. The PLO has built up those issues as sacred holy writ over the decades, and now it's come back and bitten Arafat in the ass, pardon my French.

The Israelis need to quit with this mindset that "more territory builds more security". The Romans tried that, and it obviously didn't work out too well. Settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip only decrease the security of Israel by giving Palestinian militants a convenient and isolated target to attack, while denying Israel the moral high ground. The Israelis need to face the fact that short of ethnic cleansing on the scale of Bosnia, they aren't going to get the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as parts of Israel.

The ideal solution is this: everyone wakes up and realizes that the other side not only has a right to exist, but has needs and issues similar to their own that need to be accomodated. The Palestinians would get a state made up of contiguous chunks of land, making it a viable one, and have the settlements in the West Bank dismantled. They should give up on the Gaza Strip, as it's worthless except to show off the pathetically useless Palestinian Navy ("Hey, look at me and my tugboats!"), and just serves to split up the efforts of the Palestinian state and drain their resources (there's a real split in perception and feeling between residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, similar to the split between New Yorkers and backwoods western Kentucky). Arafat also needs to devolve power back to his people, and make real steps to create a functioning democracy, instead of the corrupt, heavy-handed autocratic rule that goes on right now. They need to fumigate the Palestinian media / propaganda machine, as it simply serves to poison the next generation of Palestinians against any sort of compromise with the Israelis.

The Israelis need to remove the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, period, and instead focus their efforts on border control. Unilaterally withdrawing, and establishing a defensible and closable border with Palestine would go a long way in cutting off Palestinian militants, in both support and method. There was an idea floating around in Ehud Barak's time, similar to this, of a unilateral physical separation between Israel and Palestine, and it sounds better all the time. The Israeli policy of assassinations seems to be working - while you get more attacks from Palestinians, they're much less organized and effective than in the past. So if they Palestinians want the assassinations to stop, then they need to disown violence as a means to forcing Israel to their ends.

Both sides are going to have to compromise on Jerusalem. Barak lost his mandate when the Israeli people rejected his proposed compromise over who gets Jerusalem. Palestinians similarly will discredit any leader of theirs that currently offers compromise over Jerusalem (which is a big reason Arafat is still nominally in power). Until Jerusalem is an issue that can be safely talked about, and the Palestinian people accept the fact that the Israelis aren't going to let millions of refugees displace millions of Israelis from their current homes, there will be no peace agreement.

The really wacky thing? Most of what I've proposed makes up the Mitchell Recommendations, which the US has stuck to in trying to get both sides to compromise. The US is not biased against the Palestinians - it's the fact that Palestinians are using suicide bombers and mortar attacks to deliberately target civilians. And while Israeli counterattacks hurt just as many Palestinians, they can at least claim that they arrested militants, or targeted terrorists, both reasons which resonate quite understandably with the American people. If the Palestinians want to gain the high ground with the US in negotiations, once again, they need to disown terror as a weapon.

[ Parent ]
A couple of things (4.20 / 5) (#30)
by Simon Kinahan on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 01:32:45 PM EST

I agree with you that the Mitchell recommendations are a good way to procede, and with most of the rest of what you say. I even agree my posts have been one-sided: there's a good reason for that, I was trying to make a specific point, that Kzin's position, and he's hardly the only person to hold it, while superficially balanced is actually biased towards Israel, and a continuation of the regrettable status quo.

When I mentioned other countries that have gone some way to resolving similar problems, I referred to my earlier mention of South Africa and Northern Ireland. To me these seem much closer than your examples, and they also seem to give a more hopeful message. All analogies are debatable, of course, but I think it is worth considering.

You're also quite right that the Palestinians need to disown terror, at a very early stage in any renewed peace process. I just think that the Israeli belief that this should be the first step is wrong. The first step must be taken by Israel. Ordinary people only come support terrorists out of desparation, and having taken that step, they will not go back on it unless something happens to give them hope. Only Israel can do that. If Arafat tries to do what Israel is asking for, he'll lose his remaining influence and the violence will continue unabated.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
I'm glad we agree (4.33 / 3) (#33)
by Stickerboy on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 01:51:06 PM EST

I'm glad we agree that both sides have to do a lot more than they are now for a viable peace to happen.

But on Ireland, I have to point out that thousands of people were killed before the British and the Irish have gotten to the point they are at now - and Northern Ireland still isn't resolved yet, because the IRA refuses to give up its weapons as a fallback option.

On South Africa you have a much better point, but two other obstacles that are present in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict exist. The first is, the blacks of South Africa didn't participate in attacks on the whites in nearly the intensity or effect that the Palestinians have done against the Israelis, and world opinion and sympathy lay entirely with the blacks of South Africa. In other words, the whites didn't have any good reasons to point to that could justify its actions to anybody. The Palestinians, if they would remove the justification that the Israelis always point to (security of its civilians), would get a similar result in both the US and the rest of the world.

I agree, that Israeli policy is as responsible as Palestinian policy for the current situation. Now it's up to both of the parties to wake up and act responsibly, or else all the mediation in the world won't help.

[ Parent ]
*My* Agenda (4.50 / 2) (#99)
by kzin on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 04:33:21 AM EST

I discuss these issues on Kuro5hin in order to show my point of view, to hear others', and possibly to reach some kind of understandings between myself and people who hold opposite views. There is a large number of Israelis reading and commenting on those stories, and I suspect that there are many Palestinians and Arabs of other nationalities as well, although not a great number identified themselves as such. Certainly there is a large number of people of other nationalities who wish to learn more about this conflict. Now, please read your original post again. Which situation do you think its effect on its readers is working most strongly towards -- better understanding and compromise, or for each side to lock themselves into their already one-sided views? Its complete determination on blaming Israel for all and any conflicts, coupled with its very, very strong words indeed, guarantees that an interested foreigner will not be any wiser about the conflict than they already were, Palestinians or Arabs of other nationalities will find in it simple affirmation that it's all the other guys' fault, while Israelis will conclude the the other side is full of psychos (regardless of whether you support the Palestinian cause without actually being Palestinian) not worth trying to reach peaceful understandings with. Your post is precisely the kind that my original post was meant to show is counter-productive. It is causing conflict and hatred by its one-sidedness and unnecessarily strong rhetorics, and it would have better never been posted in the form that it was, whether or not you really meant for it to be "hatemongering" when you wrote it. In retrospect, though, I could have done better by simply ignoring it.

To be honset, in your original post I did not see a chance for much communication at all. However, your subsequent posts prove this wrong by containing interesting and relevant points, ones that I'd like to address.

This is my concern about your apparent view: by saying "there is fault, and legitimate interests on both sides", you come very close to endorsing the view that Israel can continue to "fight terrorism" and any attempt by the Palestinians to fight back is unacceptable, because Israel is the de-facto lawful authority and therefore *can* arrest people who fire guns and explode bombs.
This is a common, but mislead, conception among many foreigners (in this context: people foreign to the area). The Palestinian Authority is not an autonomy, whose residents are also nationals of the state it is a part of. The Palestinian Authority is a part of Israel in neither law, military control nor civil authority -- it is independent, however weak. In that, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is very different from the Irish-Englih one. From both the legal, the political and the military standpoints, arresting Palestinians inside Palestinian cities is incredibly problematic. According to the Cairo agreement it is actually forbidden -- of course, we're long past that point. However, doing so requires the Israeli Army to temporarily conquer a Palestinian city. That involves a large scale military action, which includes street shooting and fighting with the various Palestinian armed forces, leads to a very large number of casualties among Israeli soldiers, Palestinian soldiers and Palestinian civilians, undermines the control of the city by the Palestinian goverment, and severely interfere with the lives of the Palestinian residents of the city.

The Israeli army has never been interested in being an army of oppression -- maintaining order in a civil population is something armies are very bad at. It's been done recently (e.g., Jenin), and it was messy; I personally find it highly ironic that such conquering of a city, with all its cost to Palestinian lives, just to personally deliver an arrest warrent (which is not even legal according to the Cairo agreement) is considered to be morally suprior to a targetted killing. The ideal situation is not for those arrest warrents to be delivered by Israelis at more ease, but for them to be delivered by those who are supposed to -- Palestinian policemen.

I don't actually think the Israeli government is terrible. As a matter of fact, another factor that places the onus on Israel to make the first moves towards peace is that Israel does have a democratic and largely law-governed society and the Palestinians don't. I do, however, think Israel has failed to do what it needs to do to achieve peace, as detailed above. Given that other governments in similar situations have done what needed to be done, that is certainly a failing. I note you've not tackled any of these arguments.
And I will do so now. Israel has certainly done what needs to be done, which is to recognize the need for a Palestinian self-rule and to be willing to negotiate with a what it previously considered a terrorist organization (just like the IRA) over it. Every Israeli government, including Sharon's, has reiterated the need to reach peaceful understandings the Palestinian leadership and to establish an indepdendent Palestinian self rule. Sharon went a step further by explicitly stating that this self rule could be a fully recognized Palestinian state.

The Oslo accords dictate gradual negotiation regarding transfer of land and power, accompanied by a military cooperation that attempts to stop terrorism completely. Palestinian terrorism never stopped -- bus bombings began as early as 1996, which was actually a very active period in the negotiations. It is not clear whether those were used by Arafat to pressure Israel and steer the negotiation in the direction he found desirable, but they were certainly used for this purpose by the Hamas. The Hamas continued to operate, almost unchallenged, as an active armed opposition within areas under Palestinian control throughout the late 1990s and until this day. Yet negotiations continued.

They continued through many ups and downs, during the rule of no less than three Israeli governments and four Israeli prime ministers. It finally ended with Baraq's offer at Camp David (a slightly modified version of Clinton's proposal), which Arafat refused. Violence erupted merely two months afterwards, ultimately resulting in Baraq being replaced by Sharon. Prior to that, however, various attempts were made by Baraq's government to end the violence, many of them by making unilateral withdrawals from certain areas (under Israeli control according to the Cairo agreement), such as Joseph's tomb, or by making "unilateral ceasefires", in which Israeli would not respond to Palestinian shootings for extended periods of time. Those attempts were not responded to by the Palestinians, drawing not only American but also Egyptian and Jordanian criticism of Arafat. For instance, Joseph's tomb (a holy place to Jews) was destroyed after the withdrawal, despite understandings with the Palestinians to the contrary, snipers kept on shooting on Israeli vehicles and neighbohoods, and so forth. Eventually, the Israeli public and parliament grew tired of those attempts, kicked Baraq out and put Sharon in his place. The Israeli public opinion at the time was that those attempts were futile, and that Israel had better concentrate on defense until Arafat comes back to his senses.

And we're still waiting. His op-ed piece in the New York Times does not indicate any kind of policy change nor any willingness to take responsibility for Palestinian violence, as I tried to show in my top-level post. And since he has been making many kinds of statements over the years that proved not to be backed by full intentions, most Israelis expect actual actions, similar to the attempts made by Baraq during his rule. It cannot be said that had no chance to make such attempts during Sharon's rule either -- although Sharon attempted no unilateral ceasefire, he did reach agreements (through foreign minister and past prime minister Peres) regarding bilateral ceasefires in which all Israeli military activities were stopped for weeks or months at a time, and Palestinians were supposed to do likewise. These were not successful -- although Palestinians mostly refrained from high-profile acts of terror such as bus bombing, activities such as snipers targetting Israeli vehicles continued to cost Israeli civilian lives. That said, I don't expect Sharon's current government to negotiate with Arafat -- it is not a negotation government and was not elected for this purpose. However, if the majority of Israelis think that returning to negotiations with Arafat could prove fruitful, I expect Sharon to be either replaced or forced into a following different policy by the other members of his coalition.

In short, I see no basis to the claim that the Israeli side has been making no attempts to stop the violence, either now or in the past, even if we accept your suggestion that the Israeli side should be making a more significant part of such attempts. However, a peace process takes two sides, and takes more than demands from both.

[ Parent ]

Wrong (4.50 / 2) (#37)
by Weezul on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 02:07:30 PM EST

Actually, the terrorists have said themselves that they were going to start back up anyway. The Temple mount stroll was just a stupid coincedence that gave the terrorist's apologists an opening (and amy have broadened their support among wealthy Saudis).

Anyway, Sharon's stupid war mongering is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to Israeli elelcted officials. Sharon will be gone in a few years, the Israelis will make another real peace offer to Arafat, and Arafat will turn it down to keep his power over the radicals, as he has done so many tiems before.

Ultimatly, the only real hope for peace is that the Palistinains will ellect a leader willing to make compramizes (and willing to kill terrorists who do not obay his orders). This can not happen when they always have the same leader.

btw> Israel was founded by terrorists. Israel exists because the terrorists who descided they wanted peace were willing to kill the terrorists who did not. That's just want it takes to turn a decentralized revolution into a government.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
Arafat is old news (2.57 / 19) (#17)
by imrdkl on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 10:19:08 AM EST

He had his big chance, and blew it. He should have taken Netanyahu's offer. Harping endlessly about what Oslo promised them is useless and tiresome. The Temple Mount will never again belong to them, and neither the Golan Heights. As I recall, just about everything else was on the table, and they blew it off. Too bad. Next.

You sniveling, cowardly punks (2.33 / 6) (#29)
by imrdkl on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 01:27:39 PM EST

you think I'm wrong? Say so. Have the courage to disagree. Call me names, humiliate me, but take a stand. Or go jump in a lake. This is op-ed. This is not stand-on-a-fence-forum.

[ Parent ]
I can't speak for the others who modded... (1.55 / 9) (#38)
by Patrick Bateman 10005 on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 02:09:23 PM EST

But I'm giving a "1" to everyone in this thread. This is to honor the fact that the Patriots are about to have their asses handed to them.

Please mod this comment with a "1".

Thank you.

[ Parent ]
Moderation is the perogative of the moderator (none / 0) (#62)
by thePositron on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 05:56:24 PM EST

Moderation is the perogative of the moderator.

Complaining one way or another about on Kuro5hin is pointless as I have found from past experience.

[ Parent ]
4Q: Patriots 17, Rams 3 (2.33 / 3) (#81)
by Patrick Bateman 10005 on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 09:28:43 PM EST

The fucking Mafia must still be calling the shots. I've been robbed.

[ Parent ]
LOL (4.00 / 3) (#44)
by Stickerboy on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 03:14:07 PM EST

Have a thin skin, eh? Or just craving adulation from K5ers? If you don't like the moderation, don't make the post.

Go ahead, mod me down... it doesn't make me any less right.

[ Parent ]
I would never mod you down (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by imrdkl on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 03:21:33 PM EST

for disagreeing with me. But you are, of course, quite misguided.

[ Parent ]
Can you be more explicit? (none / 0) (#67)
by ichihi on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 06:40:35 PM EST

I don't see why you expected people to shout at you, you just said what you thought.. unles you knew you were wrong! But anyway, I didn't get the following strong affirmations: 1. "The Temple Mount will never again belong to them, and neither the Golan Heights" 2. "..He blew it up" You sound like you have a very good reason to back affirmation 1. I don't see how "Arafat blew it up"? If he didn't accept an offer does it give right to Israel not to offer it again? After all, Israel is not giving up it's just returning!

[ Parent ]
30 Little Known Facts about Israel (3.23 / 17) (#18)
by Aaorn on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 10:39:07 AM EST


I'm most sorry (3.60 / 5) (#25)
by Anonymous 7324 on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 12:53:26 PM EST

to see that there are two cowards (so far) who would rate you a 1 without any stated reason, especially in light of your most informative post.

[ Parent ]
I object (4.60 / 10) (#35)
by n0nick on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 01:54:44 PM EST

Being an Israeli, I think I can pour some light on this little-known manipluative list of lies and propaganda, created by the Islamic Association For Palestine.

I will only respond to the first two claims of the list, as I don't have the time nor the desire to get into this matter and provide facts and research to prove my points. Furthermore, I do not want to get into this kind of a flamewar, so I will only say this.

  1. Any citizen of Israel can buy and lease land in Israel. It is a fact that there are many non-jewish people who live in Israel, and own or lease a land to live in.
    Since Israel is a state that is based on religion (as stated in Proclamation of Independence), almost any Jewish person is guaranteed citizenship. But this does not mean that people from other religion cannot live in Israel.
  2. Totally incorrect - all Israeli license plates are yellow. What the author is, I think, reffering to, is the green license plates of Palestinians cars - cars which are owned by Palestinian people (who live in the Palestinian autonomy), and have been licensed in the Palestinian autonomy.

I should add that I'm a left-winged person and I support the peace process, but I do not believe that a real peace is possible with such heavy incitement from any side of the argument.

"Outside? Is that the big room with the blue sky? There aren't any computers out there." -- DesiredUsername

[ Parent ]
Being a Palestinian... (5.00 / 3) (#113)
by mhandis on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 12:18:49 PM EST

I think I can pour some light on your objections, which consist of lies and propaganda. *grin*

Your attempt to discredit the points by saying that they are "created" by an Islamic group should also be noted by the reader of these comments.

To counter your points:

1. Any citizen of Israel can buy and lease land in Israel

Very good. Now how about the Palestinians living in Jerusalem (which Israel considers Israeli territory, as opposed to occupied territory), who, by Israeli law, cannot buy land or build new homes there to accomodate their growing families? They don't get issued permits by Israel, they build homes, which the Israelis demolish with the excuse that they were built "illegally".

2. Totally incorrect - all Israeli license plates are yellow. What the author is, I think, reffering to, is the green license plates of Palestinians cars - cars which are owned by Palestinian people (who live in the Palestinian autonomy), and have been licensed in the Palestinian autonomy.

My reply to that is that your comment is totally incorrect. Up until the 1994 "peace process", Palestinian cars had blue license plates with a Hebrew letter of the city where they were from. Newer cars are issued green license plates, as you say, by the palestinian authority. However, it is cars with those license plates that are forbidden to travel between Arab cities (let alone to Jerusalem), in the West Bank and Gaza.

[ Parent ]
That's what I didn't want to get into... (none / 0) (#126)
by n0nick on Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 04:22:24 AM EST

First of all, I stated that the text was written by an Islamic group only because it was given here as an out-of-context direct link with no information of its source.


  1. I don't know much about the Israeli law concerning buying and leasing lands, enlighten me: Is there actually a specific law which says that "All non-Jewish cannot buy or lease a home in Israel"? I really don't think so.
    The structures you specified were in fact destructed because they were built illegaly. Israeli governemnt is controlling this area and it is its responsibility to take care of unlicensed structures. Jewish or non-Jewish.
  2. Palestinian cars are not allowed to travel in some Israeli territories for one reason: It is known that terrorists used to exploit this ability in the past in order to get inside Israeli areas and participate in terrorist activity. Many suicide bombers and sabotage 'engineer's were arrested in such blocks of roads.

I'm not here to justify every signle act of the Israeli government.
I agree it is wrong sometimes.
I am not happy with the current extreme right-winged government.
I am not happy with the weak left side of Israeli politics.
I am afraid of people like Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanjahu being elected again.
I believe that the Palestinian poeple's state in Israel could and should be better.
I want "the situation" to be better, for both sides.
I hate it when neither side would agree to listen to the other one.
But again, I don't believe in incitements. From either side. These would not help bring peace, not a list of "unknown facts about Israel" nor a graffiti text of "No arabs No terror".

"Outside? Is that the big room with the blue sky? There aren't any computers out there." -- DesiredUsername

[ Parent ]
More thoughts from a Palestinian perspective (4.50 / 2) (#128)
by mhandis on Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 12:00:44 PM EST

I do like your comments and agree with most of them.

To reply to your points:
1. An Arab in the West Bank or Gaza does not carry an Israeli citizenship (which is generally granted to emigrating Jews on arrival). Non-citizens cannot buy land in Israel. So the way Arabs see it, is that a country for Jews has been formed on the land we knew as Palestine, and Jews are automatically granted citizenship, and Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza are confined to those, and cannot buy land inside the "green line" in present-day Israel.
I belive that Israeli Arabs (1948 Arabs) however, can purchase land inside Israel. It is more difficult for them because of their treatment as second-class citizens, but that is a different argument.

2. Every Palestinian, including myself, knows how easy it is to enter Israel from the West Bank if they really wanted to. There are many ways for a Palestinian to easliy enter Israel. For example, there are numerous back roads which I have taken into Israel during times of closure. I can find someone with an Israeli license plate on their car and go with them. Some "terrorists" may be caught entering Israel, but that is the minority. I don't believe for a second that Israeli officials and army commanders do not know how easy it is for Palestinians to enter Israel during "closure", so the the general perception of the Palestinian population is that the closures are done for severe irritation. For prolonging a trip from 20 minutes to 4 hours, for the chance of an Israeli army road block on the long back-road that one is taking.
So in conclusion: closures don't make it significantly more difficult for suicide bombers (who I object to, by the way) to enter Israel, but they make it extremely difficult for people to carry on with their lives normally, for goods to be transported, for people in need of medical attention, etc.

The reason I like (and push for) lists like "30 little known facts about Israel" is to spread the knowledge to a world population ignorant of the injustices and hardships that the Palestinian individual goes through. Knowledge which one can gain by visiting Ramallah for a week or two to see what conditions the Palestinians live under. To hear the horror stories of Israeli torture first hand. To see the cigarette burns and scars of fractures. To travel from one city to another through Israeli checkpoints with a Palestinian and see the sub-human treatment. All that is not covered in the headlines like "Palestinian militant kills 3 Israelis". A rational Palestinian knows that killing Israeli civilians is to nobody's advantage.

One only begins to understand the mentality which drives such acts when one witnesses the degree of desparation and anger that a Palestinian in a refugee camp goes through when he is beaten by Israeli soldiers without them ever standing trial. When his house is demolished because of "security reasons". When one of his children is "killed in the crossfire".

Living in the West Bank or Gaza as a Palestinian, one learns to cope with bad news after bad news after bad news. One becomes desensitized to it. I wish I could express the degree of resentment that breeds towards Israel. It takes a determined individual to let go of the blinding anger enough to think objectively about the situation, and differentiate between Israeli soldiers, Israeli settlers, Israeli politicians, and Israeli civilians.

All peoples want peace. The only benificiaries of war and conflict are politicians, and not just Israeli or Palestinian ones. The point of these "30 facts about Israel" and other pieces of "shocking" information is to portray the absurdity of Israeli politicians demanding "concessions" from the Palestinians. To us, it doesn't look like we even have anything to concede. We just want to live normal lives and have normal businesses and services and rights.

There is no better place for "radical" groups to flourish than within a desparate, hopeless, and angry population.

[ Parent ]
The irony. (none / 0) (#129)
by i on Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 01:14:16 PM EST

Today we're talking here at k5, but tomorrow we can meet at some random roadblock, or worse. Sad world we're living in.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
Little known lies, that is. (3.66 / 3) (#64)
by Apuleius on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 06:02:13 PM EST

Those 30 "facts" are lies and half-truths.

There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
What? (2.66 / 3) (#71)
by ichihi on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 07:04:39 PM EST

Thanks, your statement is just as accurate as the "30 facts" :)

[ Parent ]
Massive Jewish Lobby (4.50 / 12) (#20)
by ritlane on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 10:59:35 AM EST

Yes, That is indeed a factor. As many former congressmen have pointed out, this lobby wields a great deal of power.

Unfortunately, to view this as the single controlling factor would be a bit simplistic. I too used to fall for this view. What many people forget, is the massive undercurrent of Christian support for Israel. This is what, in my belief, truly allows for such a lack of concern for the Palestinian people on the part of the US.

This was made clear to me recently by a drive through the Bible belt shortly after September 11th. Staying in a hotel, I decided to watch some local TV. This, of course, included some evangelical television. Many times, on multiple shows. the subject of Israel, and the need to support them, appeared.

Although we like to believe we separate the church and state in America, it is difficult to do in any democracy. This is because when a large portion of the population firmly believes that the state of Israel is the key to the return of their messiah, the foreign policy will reflect that.

Of course, the extreme evidence can be seen on the fringe of the group, but the undercurrent runs throughout.

This is evident in the book '88 reasons why the rapture could be in 1988' This was, of course, a big seller in 1988. Surprisingly, it wasn't so popular in '89. Why this date, well of course, it is 'One generation after the Jews reclaim their homeland' (Israel being founded in 1948, and a generation being 40 years). We can also see this support continue in my personal favorite source of comic relief.

I like fighting robots
I LOVE Chick publications (OT). (4.50 / 2) (#27)
by demi on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 01:11:26 PM EST

Where I went to college, there was an entire battalion of evangelists handing out Chick pamphlets every day. I collected all the different ones that I could. Now I have a big box almost full of them, covering various subjects, that I will hand over to my grandchildren if they ever have any interest in the politics of my time.

I didn't know they were online now. Thanks for the link!

[ Parent ]

You're mistaking something (4.00 / 6) (#28)
by Stickerboy on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 01:18:24 PM EST

The US is not a monolithic people. Only a little more than half of the population goes to church regularly, and even for the half that does go, the majority of them don't apply religion to their daily lives. Want proof? The divorce rate is closing in on 60%. Drug and alcohol abuse is rampant in the US. Unwed teenage pregnancies are the highest in the so-called Bible Belt of the US than in anywhere else in the nation. If we Americans were all "waiting on Israel as the source of the Second Coming", we'd be acting just a little more Christian, wouldn't we?

The fact is, the average American cares very little about a place half a world away, and populated by cultures and people that are very alien to them. Americans don't understand why religion is such a huge part of an Israeli or Palestinian's daily life - we believe in putting off God until we've paid the bills, fed the kids, and romanced our lovers. They view it as an issue that should just go away, because they don't understand and they don't want to bother with the intricacies of politics thousands of miles away. Americans, by and large, just want to mind their own business on their own continent, and to be able to travel to nice places abroad like Italy or the Bahamas on vacations.

Is their a vocal, if small, Jewish lobby? Of course... and the reason they get such disproportionate power in Washington, D.C. is because they're unusually adept at bringing in political contributions and turning out the vote. It's not any religious reason, or deep cultural sympathy. If the Palestinians want to rectify this, all they would need to do is organize in the US an equally effective political strategy - one based on money and rational arguments, and less on hysteria about "Israeli genocide".

[ Parent ]
true (4.66 / 3) (#42)
by ritlane on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 03:00:46 PM EST

I do accept the things you are saying. I was perhaps being a bit hyperbolic, but I was merely trying to show this as more of a multifaceted problem than just the knee-jerk "the Jews control it all" reaction.

In reality the situation is primarily influenced by these factors:

  • a large percentage of the US population who cares little about this issue, and is largely ignorant to it. Because of this, they can be persuaded in either direction.
  • another large percentage, who for Christian religious reasons cares deeply about the state of Israel and US support for it. Due to its large numbers, this group has considerable political and financial powers.
  • a small percentage of Jewish Americans, who do wield considerable powers, both political and financial.
All these factors alone would seem enough to contribute to the foreign policy, but that is not it. On top of that, there is the US government and military that really likes the idea of having a friendly ally in the region. In their best hopes, Israel would serve as a proxy police state, enforcing US wishes without us getting involved. This last part is especially worrisome, because it is a big reason why we supply so many weapons to Israel. It is worrisome, because any non-secular group/state is guided primarily by the belief in its own self-rigorousness. Therefore, as we have seen, they can do anything they want to either their allies or foes, without guilt.

That is my gripe with the state of Israel. I do not support secular states, or states where race plays a role in that person's participation in that state. I am baffled, but would like to learn more, about how someone can support a state such as this.

I like fighting robots
[ Parent ]
Do you mean something different? (5.00 / 2) (#46)
by Stickerboy on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 03:42:15 PM EST

I do not support secular states, or states where race plays a role in that person's participation in that state. I am baffled, but would like to learn more, about how someone can support a state such as this.

Do you mean you don't support theocratic states, where religion plays the lead part in determining goverment? Or are you saying you think religion should play the central role?

As far as small percentage of Jewish Americans that wield considerable money and power, that's the same in all ethnic groups in the US, not just Jewish Americans. Bill Gates wields disproportionate money and influence, and with his fellow Silicon Valley CEOs they wield a lot more than the Jewish American community does, and with less people. The same goes for Cuban Americans in Florida. Whoever can turn out votes and contributions gets a voice in politics in the US. That's just the way it goes.

I don't think the amount of fundamentalist Christians in the US make up a large percentage of people, statistically. Most people here think Pat Robertson, Jerry Falville and company are crackpots. Every time one of them mentions something stupid like "Sinful homosexuals are the cause for God's plague of AIDS" it just makes 90% of us snicker at them that much more. If you put an upper limit of people that support them wholeheartedly at 10 million, that's still just 1 in 15, or about 8 out of every 100 people here.

[ Parent ]
Read Ethnic America (4.00 / 1) (#97)
by ritlane on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 12:24:37 AM EST

As far as small percentage of Jewish Americans that wield considerable money and power, that's the same in all ethnic groups in the US, not just Jewish Americans.

Not true.... Not all ethnic groups in America wield the same amount of power or money. Among Americans, Jewish Americans have the highest average income and rightly so The immigrants that arrived to America came with vastly different cultures. These various cultures causd them to have vastly different experiences, and also place into vastly different income brackets.

My ancestors, the Irish, were more concerned with rowdiness and pubs. Hence the term 'Patty Wagon' (all a police wagon filled with danm Irishmen... who are all, of course, named Patrick) The children of Irish immigrants had some of the worst school attendance records. This is why the Irish remained in the low-income bracket for so long.

Compare this with Jewish Americans. Besides the simple fact that Jewish culture has always valued literacy, there are several other factors. The Jewish culture developed under unique circumstances, because it was one of perpetual refugeeism. If at any time, you could be run out of town at a moments notice, you might imagine, a culture would develop that didn't value physical possessions. What was valued, was all that you could take with you, your intelligence. For this reason, Jewish American immigrants had some of the highest school attendance records, and the best grades. Similarly, the libraries in Jewish neighborhoods had a very high circulation rate, but only in the great works. The pulp books of the time grew dust on the shelves.

This really is a very quick summary of two chapters from Thomas Sowell's book "Ethnic America" This book is perhaps one of the most well thought out and written books about race in America. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to thoroughly understand the plights of all various ethnic groups, and learn where there is and more importantly, is not racism effecting the lives of various groups.

P.S. Yes, I meant theocratic in my last post, sorry

I like fighting robots
[ Parent ]
Forget vi versus Emacs... [OT so shoot me] (4.55 / 9) (#22)
by Tau on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 12:07:46 PM EST

...Palestine v Israel seems to be the one debate certain to provoke a flamewar to end all flamewars on any form of online bulletin board. I speak from experience by the way, I was recently a moderator at a forum where this debate kept raging for a while leaving fallout all over the place; it ended in the guy supporting Palestine getting banned (irony of all ironies, I did agree with him more but the messageboard seemed to be a microcosm of the real world with the Israeli supporter pulling connection with the 'US' - ie the forums administration to silence the opposing party by force on the grounds of anti semitism amongst other things; this sound familiar?... one of the reasons I no longer go there I guess.)

anti-semitism (5.00 / 3) (#32)
by Weezul on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 01:40:56 PM EST

I have always been amazed at how fast anti-semitism creaps into the Israel vs. Palistinian debate. I frequently see far left sources like Z saying things about Jews which would get a right wing news source cursified if they said them about Blacks or Hispanics.

I suppose its one of those things like bush waiting to begin fighting in Afganastan. His party had control over the war mongers. Still, the people reading Z should be smart enough to detect racism.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
Another problem with that debate (4.66 / 3) (#36)
by theboz on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 02:04:04 PM EST

Anti-semetism sometimes is thrown around too lightly though. I've heard of people saying that the Israeli government is wrong, then get called anti-semites, only to turn out to be Jewish themselves. :o)

I think both sides can go overboard and argue about it too easily. However, I think that subjects like gun control and abortion provoke flame wars even more than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

[ Parent ]

heh (5.00 / 2) (#39)
by Weezul on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 02:22:40 PM EST

Yes, I've seen what you are describing, but once of my roomates hasa subscription to Z so I've seen a lot more retoric that I considered truely anti-semetic. I'm shure most radical left news is not quite as insane as Z.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
we like Z (4.50 / 2) (#40)
by kellan on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 02:26:48 PM EST

well Michael Albert is a little weird :)

but in general I think people consider Z reasoned and rational.

[ Parent ]

Z (5.00 / 3) (#59)
by Weezul on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 05:28:30 PM EST

I'm pretty far left, I like Indymedia, I don't like big corperations, I got a visit from the FBI recently, etc., but Z is just too extream. Every signle Z article on Israel which I have read has been at least highly influenced by the "send the Jews back to Europe" Palistinian radicals. They *always* make some quip suggesting that the Jews should not be there in the first place. This is anti-semitism pure and simple.

btw> Antisemitism has wormed it's way deep into the anti-ghlobilization movement, largely via the invluence of left leaning arabs. Indeed, most Arabs see globalization as the great Jewish conspiracy. This means when western liberals, who are used to looking to local anti-globalization activists for local information, look at the middle east, they find a strong udnercurrent of anti-semitism.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
Seinfeld Analogy (5.00 / 2) (#49)
by n0nick on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 04:06:46 PM EST

Many times, Jewish people (no offence, I'm Jewish myself) just throw "Anti-semitism" whenever they feel threatened. This really annoys me, as they usually have no actual basis to this accusation.

As in the case of when Linus Torvalds said at an interview that he "doesn't expect much from Israel on respecting copyright laws, as a state which kills innocent people for no reason". Now, I don't agree with his opinion here, but I really can't find any sign of Anti-semitism. Nothing but a few facts and Linus's personal conclusion. A harsh one, but still.
Yet, you could see Israeli people at message boards and mailing lists, yelling "Linus Torvalds is Nazi!" and "Linux is an anti-semitic software!" etc. Come on.

This always reminds me of a Seinfeld episode, where Jerry is performing at the "Tonight Show", talking about his uncle who always blames everyone for being Anti-semitic. And then we see that uncle (can't recall his name right now..), laying on his bed watching Jerry talk, and saying "Anti-semitic!".

"Outside? Is that the big room with the blue sky? There aren't any computers out there." -- DesiredUsername

[ Parent ]
Some Thoughts (4.50 / 14) (#31)
by zastruga on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 01:37:47 PM EST

First, reading over Arafat's editorial, can you point out one thing Arafat demands that was not explicitly offered to him at Camp David, 2000? If these are truly all his demands, why did he refuse?

Second, Arafat and the PLO semi-renounced terrorism in 1973, when he was invited to speak before the U.N. He renounced it again in 1989 as the precondition for establishing relations with the U.S. He renounced it again in the 1993 Oslo Accords. He denounced the rash of suicide bombings in Israel in 1996, imprisoning quite a few HAMAS terrorists he subsequently released at the beginning of the latest "intifada". He denounced, in Arabic, the suicide bombings committed at the beginning of December. On February 3rd, 2002, he published an editorial in the Sunday New York Times denouncing -- you guessed it -- terrorism. Why are Jews still dying? Could it be that he says one thing and (Karine A) does another? How can you possibly negotiate with such a man? Do you think a single editorial in the New York Times is going to persuade anyone, least of all Jews being massacred daily, that he's really, truly, finally changed his stripes -- regardless of the legitamacy of Palestinian claims.

Third, the answer to how can you negotiate with such a man is not, "But how can you negotiate with Sharon?" Since the beginning of the Oslo process, Arafat has dealt with the centrist prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, the leftist Shimon Peres, the right-talking but left-acting Benjamin Netanyahu, and the leftish Ehud Barak. Now you complain that he can't deal with the (overwhelmingly democratically elected) hard-liner Ariel Sharon?

Fourth, it is not America, but shellac, who has failed to grasp the foreign policy lessons of September 11th. As bin Laden has made quite explicit (remember the strong horse and the weak horse), what emboldened al Qaeda to commit such an atrocity was the weakness of the U.S. responses to earlier terrorist incidents, like the African embassy and U.S.S. Cole bombings, to say nothing of the Soviet superpower's retreat from Afghanistan. In a similar fashion, Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon validated the idea that terrorism works and that if the Arabs just bleed the Jews enough, they'll give up. It's a timeless lesson. If there are no consequences for Arafat to pay for saying one thing while doing another, if there is no price to pay for terrorism, then it will never end. Someone will always want something from Israel, from the U.S., from you. By not yielding to terrorism, Israel is in fact keeping it from breaking out all over. And if the U.S. were to withdraw aid from Israel, as shellac recommends, well what better validation of terrorist tactics could you ask for?

No eloquent editorial in the New York Times is a substitute for deeds. It is worse than worthless, since it encourages us to see the validity of Palestinian claims while skipping over the fact that they are being achieved by terroristic means. Any excuse for terrorism, any excuse at all, will only give permission the next guy with a grievance and a good speech-writer to perpetrate more terrorism. Please, please open your eyes. Condoning terrorism kills people, it really does.

Re: Some Thoughts (4.50 / 6) (#41)
by shellac on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 02:40:47 PM EST

First, reading over Arafat's editorial, can you point out one thing Arafat demands that was not explicitly offered to him at Camp David, 2000? If these are truly all his demands, why did he refuse?

The reason that the Israelis and Palestinians could not come to an agreement was because of Arafat asking for part of Arabic East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. He asks for this in his editorial as he did at Camp David. Jerusalem has a significant Palestinian population, and this has always been his stance.

As for Arafat not cracking down enough on the terrorists, I think there is a limit to what he can do politically. They have grown more powerful under years of Israeli oppression. Why not remove their idealogical ammo by finding a definitive peace? Hasn't Northern Ireland become significantly more quiet since London worked out a deal with the IRA?

I do not condone terrorism in anyway. I would prefer it not exist, because I think it really hurts the Palestinian public image. I support acknowledging past wrongs and doing the just thing. Do you condone the Jewish settlements in the Gaza and West Bank? Why are they being increased? Do you condone the unequal treatment of Jews and Muslims in Israel? Do you condone the denial of basic human rights to Palestinians?

[ Parent ]

Some More Thoughts (4.80 / 5) (#43)
by zastruga on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 03:04:12 PM EST

In fact, as someone whose father was directly involved in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from 1993-2001, including writing up the actual terms of the deal, I can assure you that Arafat was really offered East Jerusalem and even limited sovereignty over the Temple Mount, a site which has been the heart of the heart of the Jewish religion for well on 3000 years now.

My personal point of view -- and I think the majority of Israelis agree with me -- is that most of the settlements are wrong. I think most of them should be dismantled. That was the plan. Nor do I condone Jewish Israeli discrimination against Israeli Arabs. And I most strongly condemn IDF excesses. It is just very, very hard to make criticisms of your own side and sympathize with the other when they are killing you. This is why nothing, absolutely nothing, will or should happen until the terrorism stops.

If Arafat can't stop it, moreover if he "enhances" it by bringing in massive shipments of arms, then Israel must act to protect its own citizens, just like any other nation on earth. Israelis really feel like they're fighting for their lives, for the very existence of their state, which is no mood in which to make concessions. Arafat has had so many chances and every time he's been given a new one, more Jews die.

I'm in favor of peace, you're in favor of peace -- but Arafat, I am sad to say, is not in favor of peace, whatever he may write for the Western elites who read the New York Times. It's tragic, it's really tragic, even more so for the Palestinians than for the Israelis, but there cannot be peace until the Palestinian have an honest, honorable leader. The sooner Arafat's gone, the better for all concerned.

[ Parent ]
Proof? (5.00 / 1) (#47)
by shellac on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 04:00:07 PM EST

You raise some interesting points in your post. I do not recall ever hearing that Arafat was offered East Jerusalem. I respect your father's word-of-mouth, but do you have any other proof, something from a news or government source?

Arafat is no Gandhi, but I don't think he is as right-wing as you suggest. Given the current climate, I fear that deposing Arafat will bring in power somebody more militatistic and detrimental to the situation. On the other hand, if he stepped down, maybe it would be a good impetus for resumed peace talks.

[ Parent ]

Proof (5.00 / 1) (#50)
by zastruga on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 04:15:20 PM EST

I'd rather not go on about my father's position and all, but I will say that he was until recently in charge of the U.S. State Department's Near East Affairs bureau. He knows whence he speaks.

[ Parent ]
That's not really proof (4.00 / 4) (#58)
by shellac on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 05:24:01 PM EST

Well I can say my father is the ex-Shah of Iran, but it doesn't necessarily make it so. Do not take it personally, but if this is the only proof you can give, I will have to instead rely on the numerous NYT, CNN, wire news articles I have read about Israel being at fault for not compromising on East Jerusalem. I am a scientifically minded person, and my rigourous demand for evidence requires something more.

PR move or no, I think Arafat is actually sincere about wanting peace. Perhaps somebody better might walk along in a year, but until that happens, I think he is the current best man for the job.

[ Parent ]

Proof (none / 0) (#107)
by kzin on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 10:10:37 AM EST

There is no need for such astounding disbelief, nor for reliance on inside information from K5ers' family members where a simple web search will do. The Camp David summit was well covered by the press and although the sides do not agree on precisely what was offered and what was not, there are numerous reports of what the offer roughly looked like. Please see this CNN report and search for "shared".

However, I don't think it matters. Arafat would have clearly preferred to get much more than what he was offered, but that is hardly surprising. Had Palestinian desires matched so easily the Israeli abilities or will to give up, there would have been no need to negotiate to start with. But negotiations are necessary, and they can just as necessarily only come to a conclusion with both sides sorely lacking what they believe is theirs and what they came to the negotiations to demand. Jerusalem is indeed a something that both sides will be sorely lacking, and any comprimise regarding it has been an Israeli taboo -- until Barak's offer. In offering to share Jerusalem, Barak made very clear the length that Israelis are willing to go in order to reach peace -- a commitment unmatched by Arafat's refusal, and even more dramatically by the violence that followed shortly afterwards.

Another reason why it doesn't matter is that both sides agreed that should the talks fail, they will be held accountable for none of the suggestions and offers they made during the summit.

Regarding Arafat, I don't see why you think he is not "right winger", or even more relevantly why do you think he is the best Palestinian leader possible. This is not the first time he is saying those things, although perhaps not as eloquently as now, and his control over his own people's terrorists ranges from insufficient at best to malicious at worst. Please see this past post of mine regarding others in the Palestinian leadership who might be a bit more level-headed and trustworthy. Abu-Ala, in particular, has been recently involved in discussions with Israeli foreign minister and past prime minister Shimon Peres, perhaps even with American encouragement.

[ Parent ]

Will People or Pol/Rel Ideology prevail? (4.50 / 2) (#52)
by Sl0w h4nD on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 04:36:53 PM EST

It was very good of you to reply. I recall that the Clinton-brokered arrangement left out any right of return for the refugees, and that was the hard point for Arafat. Perhaps that's why he emphasizes that point in the editorial. OTOH, it was an ironically horrible mistake for the Palestinians to feel they might get more support from Bush2, especially based on James Baker's 10-year-old slander that "Jews don't vote for us anyway."

However, Bush2 shows why Arafat is still in power, and why the horrible status quo will remain so. About 30-40% of Bush2's support comes from US citizens too scared to not support him. The same reaction is evident in both Israel & Palestine. The People are too scared, and allow sociopaths to take over. Arafat must have some success (forced on him, if need be) for others to take over legitimately. Otherwise, Sharon will turn Palestine into Israel's own little Afghanistan.

Israel will cease to be a place worth living in without peace. THAT IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF THE TERRORISTS. They're not seeking concessions. That is the folly of those who say they won't deal with terrorists--i.e. Terrorists aren't looking to negotiate. The US should offer Palestine help in dealing with terrorist groups. But Bush2 really couldn't give a flying fuck about Israel or Palestine, so that won't happen.

[ Parent ]
Both sides (4.00 / 2) (#53)
by lovelace on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 04:39:52 PM EST

It is just very, very hard to make criticisms of your own side and sympathize with the other when they are killing you. This is why nothing, absolutely nothing, will or should happen until the terrorism stops.
IIRC, over 3 times the number of Palestinians have died as have Israelis. It seems to me that no one in this argument has clean hands. If Israel truly believe that nothing should happen until the terrorism stops, then they should learn to restrain themselves. Contrary to popular belief, it takes a much stronger person to "turn the other cheek" than to blindly react, as Israel seems to always do, thereby guaranteeing the cycle of violence will continue.

[ Parent ]
The Other reason(s) (5.00 / 1) (#102)
by beak on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 05:44:41 AM EST

There were many reasons why camp david failed, and many news sources on both sides analysing it.

One is: Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors: an article in the New York Review of Books co-written by members of the US and Palestinian peace teams. It makes one oft-ignored point about Camp David that the 'Generous offer' so often quoted by western media was neither generous, nor an actual offer!

Others at the Israli pro-peace site Gush Shalom include:

  • 12 Answers to 12 Conventional Lies - a quick debunking of the mainstream media's favourite bullet-points.
  • Shedding some light on Barak's "Generous Offers" [Word doc]. This article draws a map of what would be left West Bank if Baraks 'Generous' offer was implemented... Although 80% of the West bank is under 'Palestinian control', it is horribly fragmented by the settlement blocks and bypass roads required for access to the blocks...

    [ Parent ]

  • Terrorism works.... (3.57 / 7) (#51)
    by ckm on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 04:16:06 PM EST

    ... and Israel is proof of this. It was born from Zionist terrorism against the British mandate and it's first leaders were 'terrorists'.

    If anyone is to blame, it's the Israeli state and the British for setting such an atrocious precedent.

    At any rate, neither that fact of history, nor the actions of a few fanatics justifies the systematic repression of an entire populous. Imagine if the US did the same things to inner-cities "because there are gangs that kill people".

    What the Israeli state is doing to the Palestinians is equivelant to apartheid, pure and simple. One would think that a grouping with such a history of being repressed would have second thoughts about doing it to another group... I guess not.

    Just remember, violence begets violence. You will wind up in a never ending cycle, like the balkans. And that, perhaps, is the biggest tragedy in all this.


    [ Parent ]
    Yes and No (4.00 / 5) (#55)
    by zastruga on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 04:49:25 PM EST

    As you're probably aware, the history of British Mandate Palestine is somewhat more complicated than the scenario you paint. As it happens, such "terrorist organizations" as the Irgun and Stern Gang came into being some time after the Balfour Declaration in 1917. So the British were on their way to creating a Jewish state long before "terrorists" drove them to it.

    Also, you might want to look at the particular methods and operations of the Irgun. It overwhelmingly targeted British military and police, often warned them to evacuate buildings before destroying them, and so forth. What makes Palestinian terrorism so abhorrent is that it's explicitly directed at civilians, such as those killed at a 12-year old girl's Bat Mitzvah.

    Also, you might want to read Herzl's Das Judenstat in which he expressly advocates reclaiming Israel by buying its land, not by violence. This is in fact what happened. In light of the history of the British Mandate period, the Balfour Declaration, the 1939 Whitepaper, WW II, the U.N. partition plan, Jewish land purchases in Israel, and so on, I think it be a mistake in historical judgement to think that Jewish "terrorism" played a particularly dominant role in the creation of Israel. There were other, far more important factors. Your tu quoque justification of Palestinian terrorism seems particularly weak not only because of its logical form, but also because of your ignorance of the actual history of the place.

    In any case, Israel is not a British whim. It has a far, far older history than England, it has been the object of Jewish aspirations for some 4,000 years, and it is arguable that Jews have the oldest written land claim in the world -- and it's for the land of Israel. It's not for the British or Americans or Arabs to say whether Israel is legitimate or not, though they might destroy it by neglect or force. Its legitimacy is ancient and self-sufficient, older than the Norman claim on England, older than the English claim on America, older than Arabic and older than Islam. From my point of view, from the Jewish point of view, it was the British from Britain and the Arabs from Arabia who were the colonialist, imperialist occupiers.

    Finally, your repitition of the cliche, "violence begets violence" again belies your lack of nuanced historical understanding. Sometimes violence begets violence (WWI led to WWII), and sometimes violence ends violence (WWII led to a properous, democratic Japan & Germany). In any case, as a recommendation, if your cliche applies at all, surely it applies doubly to terrorism against civilians and surely it applies to the Arabs who tried to destroy Israel in '48, '67, and '73. Please, less self-righteousness and more historical understanding.

    [ Parent ]
    some comments (4.60 / 5) (#73)
    by Delirium on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 07:29:06 PM EST

    From what I've read of Irgun, they don't seem nearly as innocuous as you portray them. IIRC, they bombed (in the late 1940s) the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 92 civilians - an attack worse than any single Palestinian bombing. Earlier (1930s, early 1940s), they would, together with some other groups, conduct nighttime raids of Arab villages to try to scare Arabs into leaving. They also assassinated the U.N. Special Representative to the region in the late 1940s, afraid that he would force the U.N.'s partition plan on the Israelis (the U.N. plan was about 50/50, while Israel ended up with about 65-70% of the land after the 1948 war).

    As for historical claims to the land, if we're just going to start driving out current inhabitants and giving the land back to previous inhabitants, we'll have quite a few problems. I'm sure the Native Americans would like the U.S. and Canada back, the Aborigine would like Australia back, Greece would like Asia Minor and Macedonia back, etc. Jerusalem is to the Israelis approximately what Constantinople is to the Greeks, but you don't see anyone starting wars to give it back to them, which I think is just as well.

    [ Parent ]

    The Israeli "Hagana" and its opposition (4.00 / 1) (#112)
    by kzin on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 12:14:26 PM EST

    First of all, I am delighted that this issue is also being discussed by people who have actually read on the historical context rather than those posting knee-jerk rehashes of their old prejudices alone.

    I disagree, however. The Irgun's focus on military British targets rather than civilian ones, while considering that most of the actual fighting with Arabs it had was in the course of the Israeli independence war rather during peace time, make it very different from most terrorist organization (by to their traditional, narrow definition). According to more sympathetic viewpoints, its classification as a terrorist organization is incorrect to start with.

    But regarless of how the Irgun is seen in itself, it reflects very little on the State of Israel. The Irgun never played more than a secondary role in the Jewish defense in the 1930s and 1940s, to say the least. The mainstream Jewish military force during the British mandate had always been the Hagana, which derived its legitimacy from the elected civil Jewish authorities at the time -- those authorities that later became the first Israeli government. The Hagana, in contrast to the Irgun, has never participated in any attacks on the British in Israel. Furthermore, following the establishment of the State in 1948, Ben-Guriun, the first Israeli prime minister, dismantled all the non-Hagana armed forces and collected their weaponry (especially the Altalena affair). A Palestinian parallel to this would be the dismantling of the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad upon the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, except, of course, that no such dismantling ever took place.

    Regarding Jerusalem, your comparison to Constinopole fails in that Jerusalem is under Israeli rule right now, and has been for significantly longer than it had been under the Jordanian rule that preceded it. Were historical claims and national feelings disregarded as irrelevant, as you suggest, it would be Israel who would have the exclusive right to Jerusalem.

    [ Parent ]

    a few more comments (4.66 / 3) (#115)
    by Delirium on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 01:46:26 PM EST

    I tend to agree with your parallels between the Hagana and the PLO, in that both were primarily regular militias, and that the Israeli military (as legitimized successor to Hagana) dismantling the other armed Jewish groups should have been paralleled by the PA (as legitimized successor to the PLO) dismantling the other armed Palestinian groups. Unfortunately, of course, this has not yet happened.

    As for Jerusalem, as you correctly point out, I suppose my comment would've been more relevant if I had made it in 1948. As for today, I'd claim that Israel has a right to West Jerusalem, but that the Palestinians, as the primary recent-historical and current residents of East Jerusalem, have a claim to that portion of the city. I'm also very wary of Israeli attempts to change this demographic balance - moving people of one ethnicity out of their homes by displacing them with people whose ethnicity you prefer is a very dubious sort of thing to do (I have similar problems with settlements in other parts of the occupied territories).

    So I'd agree that we should tend to ignore historical claims, and instead look at the current situation. We currently have several million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip - something must be done with them. Continually expanding the Jewish settlements until all the Arabs are driven out would solve the problem, but in a very dubious sort of way, reminiscent of ethnic cleansing (but in a more sanitary sort of way in which you only drive out the other ethnicity rather than killing them). As this is clearly an unacceptable solution, we can conclude that there will continue to be millions of Arabs living there for some time to come, so something must be done with them. Israel basically needs to choose to either annex the territory or get rid of it; it can't continue forever to administer it as a region under military occupation. If it's annexed, all its residents must be given full citizenship and voting rights, regardless of ethnicity (the current practice of "Jewish residents of the West Bank can vote, but Arab residents cannot" is borderline racist). If it's gotten rid of, the areas need to be turned into a separate state ("Palestine," most likely).

    [ Parent ]

    The problem of Jerusalem (5.00 / 3) (#127)
    by kzin on Tue Feb 05, 2002 at 05:47:35 AM EST

    I disagree that your comment regarding Jerusalem (assuming it meant a current Palestinian rule) would have made any more sense were it made in any given point during the twentieth century. At no time did the Palestinians control Jerusalem -- it was controlled by the Turks until 1917, by the British until 1948, by the Jordanian Hashemites until 1967 and by Israel until now. Note that Israel's rule is not only the most recent but also the longest of the four, if we are to disregard the (very long indeed) Turkish rule in previous centuries.

    Moreover, as much as the issue is often ignored in debates, it is worth considering that East Jerusalem is not separate entity from West Jerusalem [1], as the two are a single city municipally and economically. Residents of all religeons and ethnic groups of Jerusalem as a whole would often go to East Jerusalem to work, do shopping, tour, visit restaurants, use car garages, and so forth. As a resident of a Jerusalem suburb I can attest to that. Therefore, even if the Arab residents of the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem outnumber the Jewish residents of them, it still does not necessarily mean that East Jerusalem is populated (in the wider sense of the word) mostly by Arabs.

    Also, if we choose to concentrate on the people whose actual place of residence is in those eastern neighborhoods, I still see no basis to the claim that Palestinians have an exclusive territorial presence in it. Jerusalem has traditionally been populated by many and various ethnic groups and religeons, including Muslims, Jews, and Christians of different factions, and present times are certainly no exception. The population of East Jerusalem does not currently consist of Palestinians alone, but has a large portion of Jews living in it as well. In fact, the only time in recent history (say, a couple of centuries) when East Jerusalam did not have a very sizeable Jewish population was during the nineteen years of Jordanian rule.

    To sum it up, I see no reason to think that either Jerusalem as a whole or Eastern Jerusalem, taken in isolation, is either currently or mostly has been in the past an exclusive Palestinian territory. Not politically, not economically, not demographically.

    Another point we neglected is that the conflict and the desires of the sides to hold Jerusalem have very little to do with population or with demographics themselves. It is a religeous, cultural and national issue for both. Both Jews and Palestinians would still feel a special connection to Jerusalem even if the control and the population of it belonged completely to the other side. To craft a solution based solely on the population of the area would be to reduce the role of Jerusalem in the conflict to that of mere territory on which Jews and Palestinians just happen to live. I agree with you that historical events and claims are not relevant in and of themselves, but their effects on the present situation cannot be ignored, regardless of whether those events affected the demographic and political situation, or the social and emotional one. Were Jerusalem just another ethnically heterogenous city, it might have been a problem in the negotiations, but it could not have been the central burning issue which determines the fate of any agreement initiative. An agreement based on current population count alone would necessarily ignore one of the core ongoing causes of this conflict, and therefore be unrealistic.

    Regarding the choice you portray Israel as facing, I disagree that it is relevant today. It was the choice debated in Israel prior to the Oslo accords, but the path of establishing an independent Palestinian self-rule was chosen long ago. Before it, it was merely one of three options (the third being helping the Palestinian majority in Jordan overthrow the ruling Hashemite minority and so create a Palestinian state outside Israel's borders) -- but now, very few Israelis consider any other solution but "separation" as realistic. Far too much is invested in it, even now, and the Palestinians would likewise not want to go back from their partial independence.

    I disagree, however, with your description of the current situation as "borderline racism". What you call "the Jewish residents of the West Bank" derive their voting right from their Israeli citizenship, not from their ethnicity or religeon. That voting right is, naturally, not retracted when they move to the West Bank or Gaza. Palestinian residents who are not Israeli citizens a do have a voting right -- for the Palestinian Authority. Separation, again, was the path chose, and that is the only solution that has a fighting chance to provide long term remedies to any remaining problems.

    [1] I'd like to use this opportunity to highlight what I suspect is a common misconception regarding Western Jerusalem, resulting from terminology. The use of the terms "Western Jerusalem" and "Eastern Jerusalem" could lead one to believe that Jerusalem is a city made, by design or by circumenstances, of two equal halves -- an eastern Palestinian half and a western Israeli half. Why, one asks, should Jerusalem not be divided between the two peoples along its natural division line, with each side getting its own share? From this perspective, the Israeli desire to hold Eastern Jerusalem as well indeed appears arrogant and unjust.

    Reality, however, is slightly more complicated. Historically, it was only what we now call "Eastern Jerusalem" that existed, as a holy city for many religeons. It is there where the Old City is located, where the Temple Mount is located, where the Wailing Wall is, the Al-Aqsa mosque is built, the Old Jerusalem Jewish quarter is and so forth. The historical and religeous context of Jerusalem is found almost entirely in Eastern Jerusalem. During the early twentieth century Jerusalem saw expansion, mostly by Jews but also by Arabs, which naturally was directed into neigborhoods outside the walls of old Jerusalem. Many of these neighborhoods were Jewish, some were Arab. There was no distinction between "Western Jerusalem" and "Eastern Jerusalem" until the time of the Israeli independence war in 1948, in which the Hagana forces failed to hold the Jewish quarter and other Jewish neighborhoods in the old city, and these were taken by the Jordanian Arab Legion. The Jewish defense centered on some of the newer Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem, and those neighborhoods were later declared, as Jerusalem, to be the capital of the State of Israel. The remaining external Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem continued to exist, under Jordanian rule, although their area and population remained significantly smaller than the Israeli "Western Jerusalem".

    Therefore, a description of Eastern and Western Jerusalem as two symmetrical halves of the city would be misleading. Alternative terminology might be "Western Jerusalem" versus "Old Jerusalem", or perhaps even "Jerusalem proper" and "The greater Jerusalem", avoiding geographical distinctions altogether. Those terms have their own problems, of course, but I hope the point was made. An useful insight rising from this perspective is that the status of the external Eastern Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem can be analogous in some way to that of Western Jerusalem. For instance, it might be possible to group those neighborhoods in a separate municipality, call it Al-Quds (Jerusalem "the Holy", the Palestinian term for Jerusalem), and leave Jerusalem "proper" for an independent rule. In fact, one of the offers made to the Palestinians by Israel in the months preceding the crucial summit in Camp David was to establish a Palestinian capital in those neighborhoods that happened not to be a part of the present Jerusalem municipality (notably Abu-Dis), while Jerusalem proper remains under Israeli rule. Needless to say, this proposal was rejected flat out by the Palestinian leadership, and understandably so. It's all nice and good to have the Palestinian capital within eyesight of the Al-Aqsa mosque, but eyesight was not what they were after. My point is that the Israeli rejection of the idea of splitting Jerusalem into Eastern and Western halves should be exactly as understandable.

    [ Parent ]

    Lack of historical understanding.... (4.25 / 4) (#74)
    by ckm on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 07:46:20 PM EST

    Please, less self-righteousness and more historical understanding.

    Er, I thing you know too little about my history to be assuming that. Let's just put it this way, you're not the only one who's father has been a peace negociator, and you probably have never worked as a diplomat, as I have.

    Not only that, but I spent the better part of 10 years under the threat of assasination, mostly by the PLO. And I have a double major in history and international relations.

    Your understanding of history is tainted by your closeness to the issue. WW I and II were about stopping conquests. From that point of view you should argue that the US should intervene on the side of the Palestinians, to preserve their territorial integrity. And if we applied ancient territorial claims to all regions of the world, we would have a never ending mess on a world wide scale similar to what is occuring in the Balkans and in Armenia/Azerbijan. It's exactly that sort of thinking that leads to the kinds of conflicts we see in the Middle East, in Central Asia and in the Balkans. They are the most intractable conflicts precisely because of the attitude you espouse, that you have a 'historical' right to the land.

    Finally, I would remind you of what Arafat once said: "victory will happen in the womb of the Palestinian woman" (or something to that effect). In other words, population numbers are against Israel, and it is in Israel's interest to come to a mutually acceptable settlement. Because, if it doesn't, in 100 years, this will all be moot.

    Making personal attacks on people's 'understanding' of history is a non-starter. You cannot assume that you 'know' more than anyone else here, esp. not knowing ANYONE's background. I would only remind you that, as the Chinese are fond of saying, "truth is a point in time". To that, I would add that truth is almost always on the side of the victor.


    [ Parent ]

    Territorial integrity? (5.00 / 2) (#106)
    by kzin on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 08:07:34 AM EST

    Your understanding of history is tainted by your closeness to the issue. WW I and II were about stopping conquests. From that point of view you should argue that the US should intervene on the side of the Palestinians, to preserve their territorial integrity.
    Until the 1967 war, what I assume you consider "Palestinian territory", that is, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, were integral parts of the territories of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Republic of Egypt, respectively. No autonomy or recognition of national rights of any kind were given to the Palestinian people by these two Arab nations [1]. Prior to the establishment of Jordan and Egypt as independent states, both the Gaza Strip and and West Bank were a British colony, and prior to that, parts of the Othoman empire. At no point in recorded history, before the establishment of the Palestinian Authority by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat in 1993, did exist a Palestinian "territorial integrity" of any kind to preserve by a hypothetical US intervention. The Israeli government is the first to ever address the problems of the Palestinian people directly.

    In fact, it can be arguably said that the very recognition of a "Palestinian people" as an ethnical and national entity separate from other Arabs is a concept that followed, rather than preceded, the establishment of organized Jewish self-rule in Israel during the Othoman rule and the British mandate. Texts from that time speak only of "Arabs in Palestine" [2]. That is, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, one could only speak of "territorial integrity" of a pan-Arabist Empire, because "Palestine", during the first half of the twentieth century, was little more than a divide-and-conquer territorial trick played by the superpowers of the time -- mostly the British, but also the Turks and the French.

    There's no doubt that a Palestinian people exists today and that its needs and desires must be addressed. However, approaching the issue with the preconception (even a hidden one) that one people has historical claim over the land while the other does not, will not only do more harm than good, but can always be validly debated. This post does not intend to delegitimize the Palestinian claim, but to show that there is an equal parallel Jewish claim. It is unfortuanete, but a common Western misconception is that the conflict started with a Jewish army conquering a Palestinian state -- a misconception that inherently puts Israel at a moral debt, regardless of later concessions. I believe that Zarastuga's post was meant to highlight the same problem. In short, once both claims are acknowledged, both can be said to be equally valid, and neither to be relevant to trying to find adequate solutions to pressing modern problems. I am sure you agree with me on that.

    [1] It can be argued that their treatment there, both before and after the 1967 war, was worse than it is by Israel, even from a very Israeli-critical viewpoint (search for the Palestinian riots in Amman in "black" September, 1970).

    [2] To me this indicates that the name of the people is derived from the name of the colony rather than other way round. That colony, in turn, is named after the Roman colony, which is, in turn, named after the people of the Philistines. The Romans called their colony this way, somewhat after conquering the Kingdom of Judea, because they wanted the co-operation of this Greek people (who lived in Judea as a minority) in driving the residents of the former Jewish kingdom out of the colony. You might call this yet another territorial divide-and-conquer trick. I find it highly ironic that the current Palestinian people, who consider themselves the original natives of the land displaced by an insidious empire, were in fact first given name by yet another insidious empire -- at the time when it drove out the very people whose claim over the same piece of land many of them now deny.

    (Irony is a subjective thing, and a Palestinian would probably not find this amusing at all. But I thought it was an interesting, although meaningless, historical story nonetheless.)

    [ Parent ]

    You dont know what terrorism is (1.66 / 6) (#75)
    by Lenny on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 08:19:54 PM EST

    What the Israeli state is doing to the Palestinians is equivelant to apartheid, pure and simple.

    The Jews reclaimed their homeland. Aparthied was imperialism.

    Just remember, violence begets violence.

    Thats why Israel retaliates almost every time there is a suicide bombing.

    One would think that a grouping with such a history of being repressed would have second thoughts about doing it to another group

    One would also think that a group with such a history of being repressed would be sick of it and be ready to claim and defend what is theirs.

    "Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
    [ Parent ]
    The right of return (4.00 / 2) (#54)
    by quinten on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 04:40:24 PM EST

    I've talked with several American Zionists, and they all seem to think that Israel can never give the right of return to Palestinians. It is the one thing that Arafat demands and will probably never be given.
    That said, I think it's possible that Arafat is interested in holding on to his current position of dictator. If peace were suddenly granted, where would it put him?
    Ceci n'est pas un sig
    [ Parent ]
    It's not up to Israel (2.66 / 3) (#117)
    by MrYotsuya on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 03:10:04 PM EST

    The right of return is just that, a right.

    [ Parent ]
    Arafat as the sole bottleneck? I think not. (3.75 / 4) (#76)
    by martingale on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 08:42:15 PM EST

    Reading over the thoughts you present, I think you are placing too much responsibility on Arafat, as if he has the power to completely control all the Palestinians and assorted sympathisers. If HAMAS decides on some action, it's because they decided, not because Arafat ordered them to. (By the way, for other readers benefit, HAMAS is not just a bunch of terrorists. They do a lot of charitable work) In fact you present a string of renouncements as evidence of duplicity, but it can just as easily be interpreted as a symptom that Arafat is not in absolute control.

    No eloquent editorial in the New York Times is a substitute for deeds.
    So, eg, whenever Sharon demands a complete ceasefire for 24 hours, and some pimply faced youth decides instead to act on his own, Arafat is a lying terrorist who cannot be trusted? This is quite a naive viewpoint.

    I don't dispute that both sides are pushing the limits, and sometimes cross them (see posts by other people), but pushing Arafat as the sole bottleneck in this is not going to advance the issues.

    [ Parent ]
    A pimply faced youth... (3.50 / 2) (#78)
    by zastruga on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 09:02:54 PM EST

    did not charter the Karine A.

    [ Parent ]
    Hmm... (none / 0) (#90)
    by martingale on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 11:00:15 PM EST

    I claim that Arafat is not omnipotent in palestine, and your response is: look, he was involved in a complex explosives shipment from Iran, right around the time when everyone and his mother was condemning the 9/11 terrorists, and for several months thereafter.

    Does that cause damage to his public image. Of course, but note that I never claimed him a saint (he's far from that imo). Should he have stopped the shipment unilaterally in september and severed whatever connections were involved? How could he (realistically), unless he is omnipotent and palestine is self sufficient?

    Remember that I see him as a major player, not the only player on the palestinian side. That's a crucial difference between our points of view. He has to compromise to some extent or commit political suicide. He cannot be held fully responsible for everything going on his side, just as Sharon is not one hundred percent, fully responsible for everything in Israel. Others on this thread have discussed who could replace Arafat. I'm not convinced he needs replacing just yet - he does have relatively successful negotiations with Rabin and Perez to his credit.

    As you appear to know the situation quite well, can you shed some light on Israel's strategy relating to Hamas, which is another major palestinian player?

    [ Parent ]
    Why the Karine A Matters...A Lot (4.50 / 2) (#96)
    by zastruga on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 12:00:05 AM EST

    First, let me just say that my comment about the Karine A was supposed to be quick one-line rejoinder to the assertions martingale makes when he says

    So, eg, whenever Sharon demands a complete ceasefire for 24 hours, and some pimply faced youth decides instead to act on his own, Arafat is a lying terrorist who cannot be trusted? This is quite a naive viewpoint.

    On the contrary, I would argue that the Karine A exactly proves that Arafat is a liar and a terrorist, and that the naive ones are those who belive the opposite. Consider: 1) Arafat signed an agreement (v. Oslo) that the PA would limit itself to certain kinds and numbers of weapons. Surface-to-surface missiles that can rain down indiscriminant terror on Israeli cities were decidely not among them. 2) On December 16th, 2001, Arafat declared a ceasefire. On January 3rd, 2002, the IDF seized the Karine A -- and it wasn't heading back to Iran. 3) In all probability, the weapons were obtained with the help of Hizbullah and in particular, the arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyah, whose resume you might want to check out.

    The Karine A is significant in at least two respects. First, the type and quality of weapons would have entailed a massive escalation. Even if you're sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, you should realize that if a missile was launched from a certain Palestinian village at, say, Ben-Gurion airport, Israel would retaliate overwhelminingly -- and with some degree of international tolerance.

    Second, and perhaps more importantly, the Karine A ties Arafat to Iran. Here is a state that explicity seeks to export its Islamic revolution in the same way the Nazis wanted to export fascism and Soviets communism. They are not a trivial threat. They vehemently objected to Arafat signing on to Oslo because they want to see Israel destroyed, not recognized. They make no secret of this. See, for instance, ex-President Rafsanjani's statement a few weeks ago more or less calling for Israel to be annihilated with a nuclear weapon. How can Israel deal with a man who has such patrons?

    Look, Arafat is around 73, suffers from Parkinson's and an earlier head injury. He will not be around forever, God willing. One way or another we're going to have to dispense with the indispensable man. Sooner is better than later. And, I would argue, less bloody.

    I agree that Arafat cannot be held responsible for every little atrocity that comes from his side, but you don't just accidentally order 10 million dollars worth of weapons. What percentage of the total PA budget do you think that is? If he can't prevent terrorism against Israel, then Israel has to prevent terrorism against Israel. If he won't prevent terrorism against Israel, then Israel has to prevent terrorism against Israel. Either premise leads to the same conclusion.

    As for HAMAS, I really think the only way to deal with them is to kill them. You should check out their convenant to see what sort of people Israel is dealing with here. They are at war with Israel outright. They should receive a war-like response. Admittedly, it would be much better to have Arafat deal with them, just as it would have been nice had the Taliban sent us Al Quada in a big bow-tied box, but as I said, he can't or won't.

    [ Parent ]
    Point taken, but what are the Israelis thinking? (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by martingale on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 04:48:33 AM EST

    You make a compelling argument that the Karine A represents a new escalation, and to that extent I take your point that Arafat's involvement is at least foolish and irresponsible, though perhaps indicative of some amount of desperation.

    Be that as it may, the picture you paint is chilling, in that it suggests circling vultures (Iran here) around a weakened Arafat, which I doubt is in Israel's better interest. I am compelled to wonder about Israeli long term strategic thinking, in adopting the current hard line policy against the PA. Certainly Sharon has appeared single minded on this.

    Let's say we take Arafat out completely. It's only a matter of time anyway. AFAIK he has no obvious strong successor to take his place. Does this make Israel a safer place in the future? Remember that Arafat is committed to liberating Palestine, and in taking over the PLO, he focused much of the ill-will against Israel in one place.

    If he's gone, could the result be a greater fragmentation of Israel's opposition, as well as renewed interest from some Arab states (Iran we saw already, but Iraq too) due to the attendant power vacuum? Remember that the people in those states don't live with Israelis like the Palestinians do, so aren't worried as much about consequences to the land and people.

    If these are likely consequences, then why hasten Arafat's demise? Isn't it more advantageous to nurture a relationship with his likely successor(s) in the PA?

    Finally, regarding my question about Hamas, you answered as I was expecting. Unfortunately, I believe that the political wing (who build schools and hospitals) have the hearts and minds of a good portion of the palestinians, so must be taken as representing part of the population, and if Arafat's influence (or his successor's in the PA) is eradicated, well without some sort of dialogue there is only war :-(

    [ Parent ]
    Regarding weapons (1.50 / 2) (#92)
    by HongPong on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 11:17:22 PM EST

    I demand you, son (daughter?) of the diplomat, explain to me precisely why the Karine A was a big deal. A people under military occupation, experiencing daily 'grave breaches' of the Geneva Convention, a military occupation that has steadily transitioned into a civilian occupation, (in the settlements it IS such a thing) for some reason don't have the right to defend themselves, according to Israel. How is it any different that the French Resistance in WWII? (though I do question the presence of explosives)
    hongpong.com-- Sublime agitation
    [ Parent ]
    Withdrawl of support for Israel (2.00 / 1) (#114)
    by Mr Fred Smoothie on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 01:39:13 PM EST

    Should happen, but only until they clear out of the occupied territories. After such a time, we should zelously help them defend (and make clear ahead of time that we will) themselves against terrorist groups and actions.

    Right now, Israel is a brutal occupying force, and there's just no denying it. But there's also no denying that they're under attack from people who don't just want an end to the oppression of Palestinians, but who are actively working to bring an end to Isreali sovereignty.

    As soon as Israel declares its formal borders (which better be the ones established by the UN and agreed to by the Israelis), and withdraw to within them, we should look no differently upon Palestinian terror against Israel than upon Al-Quaida terrorism upon the US (and likewise for other terrorist acts against other countries, including things like East Timor).

    [ Parent ]

    Refugees (4.28 / 7) (#48)
    by Bernard Minuk on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 04:05:44 PM EST

    Didn't Israel accept a large amount of Jewish refugees from Arab countries at the same time that Arabs where fleeing (or being pushed out of) Israel? Doesn't this make this a simple population exchange (like what happened between Greece and Turkey)?

    But (4.50 / 2) (#56)
    by linca on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 04:52:28 PM EST

    Whereas the Jewish refugees where rather happy to go into Israel (and were accepted there, although there is some anti-sefarad racism), the Palestinian where not as happy to be forced out of their land. And they have not yet (after 50 years!) settled in the countries that have taken them ; they aare still in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordania.

    A population exchange is never simple, BTW. Especially not the one that has happened in Cyprus between Greeks and Turks.

    [ Parent ]
    If it's simple, why's your understanding so vague? (3.66 / 3) (#57)
    by Sl0w h4nD on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 04:56:11 PM EST

    I really don't know the history of the Greece-Turkey population exchange. But the history of the Palestine-Israel problem has been presented from the viewpoint of everyone involved in radically different terms.

    AFAIK, there was a Zionist movement in the early 20th Century to build a Jewish state around Jerusalem, backed by the British. But the Arabs living there kept rioting, so not much came of it. During and after WWII, however, there were many displaced European & Russian Jews who didn't or couldn't go back to where they had been living. They saw the US as the best place to go. The US, however, has always been horribly racist about new waves of immigrants, and Senators like Strom Thurmond were trying to eradicate the Jews who already were in the US. So the US coerced the British to revive and enforce the Jewish Homeland idea, and many European refugees ended up in the newly formed state of Israel.

    Please, please correct me if I'm wrong.

    [ Parent ]
    I think my point still stands (4.50 / 2) (#60)
    by Bernard Minuk on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 05:30:43 PM EST

    Jewish people were pushed out of their homes and landed up in Israel. Ok, so many of them did not come from Arab countries, but it was still tragic for them.

    [ Parent ]
    Your point doesn't stand. (4.00 / 1) (#65)
    by Sl0w h4nD on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 06:24:56 PM EST

    I'm not trying to be mean, but your point was that it was some sort of structural immigrantion/emigration "swapping." The only structure that was followed was that of displacement. I've never wanted to believe it, but I have read that Jewish immigrants in Israel ended up occupying residences that had belonged to Palestinians. This seems an odd parallel to the Jewish home taken over by Nazis, but not outside the realm of possibility. However, please follow up on this if you're interested and don't assume it's true based on my understanding.

    [ Parent ]
    Perhaps (4.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Bernard Minuk on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 06:54:19 PM EST

    I guess that my thought is that if it was allowed to be a simple population swap, then we wouldn't have the problems we are having.

    [ Parent ]
    Slight correction (4.00 / 1) (#69)
    by Bernard Minuk on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 07:00:28 PM EST

    I am not saying that the taking over of other property is right. But wasn't compensation offered (and flatly refused)?

    [ Parent ]
    Compensation can't cancel right of return (4.00 / 1) (#79)
    by Sl0w h4nD on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 09:04:21 PM EST

    If the Palestinians had a sovereign state, then Israel wouldn't have a way of preventing immigration to that state. Israel seems to want an agreement limiting the population of any new Palestine. Compensation would be for property that Palestinians had owned that is now part of Israel. So compensation is not an answer. I don't know if Palestinians have received any compensation, but I would guess not since I can't find anything saying they have.

    The history seems very complicated. Israel was starting to take over the area with the help of the UK & US, and the neighboring Arab states were threatening to attack. So a large percentage of Palestinians thought it would be safer in Jordan if a war broke out. But Israel took over & won the war, and wouldn't let the Palestinians back. Today, Jordan is ~70% Palestinian, and they're still living in refugee camps. Israel has grown by inviting Russian Jews looking to get out of the USSR and American Jews fervent about a Jewish homeland. Many of the people who have settled on the land that the Palestinians managed to keep are Americans by birth.

    I once had the idea that all parties involved could broker a deal where a new Palestine could be formed from the Golan Heights and land brought from Jordan. The Palestians in Jordan are just a headache for the government, and the port is the important part of Jordan. Palestinians could use compensation for the land in the West Bank to get their country going. But I have never heard anything like this proposed, and the US, Israel, Jordan, PLO, and most of the neighboring countries would have to work together. I am waiting to see what happens with Afghanistan to see if it would even work. Ironically, Saudi Arabia is a big problem in this situation, as well, since they won't help at all.

    [ Parent ]
    You are wrong; let me correct you. (5.00 / 3) (#63)
    by Apuleius on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 05:59:37 PM EST

    1. The Arab rioting in the early 20th century was directed not at Zionists, but at anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews, and was caused by the speeches of a single rabblerouser, by name of Haj Amin al-Husseini. Plenty came of Zionist efforts at the time; nothing came of the rioting. 2. The immigration of Jews into the region picked up because of Hitler, but was carried out in spite of British efforts to stop it, and the US had no part in it.

    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    [ Parent ]
    Not so fast! (none / 0) (#66)
    by Sl0w h4nD on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 06:32:59 PM EST

    If you're going to correct me, at least provide a few links or a complete analysis of what I said. I know, you just want to make a point and move on. Well, tough. You can't do that.

    I will take your point about Haj Amin al-Husseini and the anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews as true until disproven.

    However, your defense of the US is strictly that of an apologist. Jewish refugees were turned away many times by the United States, for racist reasons. The US's continued support of Israel is due to our responsibility for the creation of the state. Israel would not exist without the US.

    BTW, here's the fucking pudding:

    [ Parent ]
    *sigh* (4.50 / 2) (#77)
    by Apuleius on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 08:55:00 PM EST

    Regarding Husseini, read The Siege by O'Brien. Regarding US policy, read the same book. Israel would have been here with or without the US's wartime policies.

    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    [ Parent ]
    Your elitist vibe is as bad as mine. (4.00 / 1) (#83)
    by Sl0w h4nD on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 09:57:33 PM EST

    While this sounds like an interesting book (albeit more like DeLillo or Oliver Stone than real history) it doesn't refute what I claim about the United States. Despite your patronage of Kuro5hin, you seem largely incapable of carrying on a dialogue. You belong over at Slashdot. Then again, who am I to talk?

    From a review of _The Siege_:

    While it is a true story, thoroughly researched, proofread by many experts in the field, it is told in the form of a story. It is not framed in the usual terms of historical analysis, and "is not at all intended for scholars or specialists in its field." [...] O'Brien, in telling a story which he finds "inherently astounding," makes no attempt to be dryly objective. Nor is this a balanced account; The Siege is clearly focused on the saga of the Jews, and all other players are treated in their relation to this central focus.

    [ Parent ]
    Hey, if you got it, flaunt it. (3.00 / 1) (#86)
    by Apuleius on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 10:48:05 PM EST

    The Siege contains the details you need regarding Haj Amin. I did not ask you to accept the rest of the book's thesis.

    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, but.. (5.00 / 2) (#61)
    by Apuleius on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 05:55:14 PM EST

    It is extremely politically incorrect to bring up the issue of Jewish refugees coming from Arab countries to Israel, because in the Arab countries the media, the school systems, and the government insist on teaching this delusion that everything was fine and dandy until some mean old Zionists came in, gave the local Jews a bunch of silly ideas and lured them into Israel. So don't expect the issue to be addressed any time soon.

    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    [ Parent ]
    a favor if you will (3.00 / 1) (#91)
    by cicero on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 11:05:12 PM EST

    everything was fine and dandy until some mean old Zionists came in

    i'd like you to, if you could, point me in the direction of your source of information.
    everything I've read states that, more or less, this was in fact the case. I can point you to my sources if your interested in a differing view-point (judging from the tone of your writing though, I'd say not).

    I am sorry Cisco, for Microsoft has found a new RPC flaw - tonight your e0 shall be stretched wide like goatse.
    [ Parent ]
    Where to begin? (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by Apuleius on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 11:30:34 PM EST

    How about Iraq, where a massacre in 1941 set off the beginning of the Jewish departure? Or how about I save time by pointing to this source, which will give you all the info you need?

    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    [ Parent ]
    It always seems obvious (4.87 / 8) (#72)
    by afeldspar on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 07:11:50 PM EST

    America seems to have failed to learn the seemingly obvious foreign policy lessons of September 11th.

    You should learn to beware of things that are "seemingly obvious". If you'll remember, the terrorists never identified themselves, let alone their cause, let alone what they wanted from America and the world. All that we know of what motivated the 9/11 attacks is our own deduction -- and it's funny how the same people who insist that Osama bin Laden revealing on videotape that he had foreknowledge of the attacks doesn't mean he ordered them, or insist that the entire video is a falsification by the CIA, won't follow this to its logical conclusion that we know correspondingly less about what acts of America or the world "caused" the 9/11 attacks.

    That said, however, I agree; America's insistence on supporting Israel even as Israel's positions grow more militant and less reasonable weakens America's moral standing. One of the few things that has given me actual respect for Bush is that he has called for this re-examination of America's support of Israel.

    I'd simply caution against tying it to September 11th. A popular (and yes, justified) complaint of the left wing is that all the same political desires they were pushing for on September 10th, they identified as "even more important" because of September 11th. Justified as this complaint is, it's ironic that the left wing has taken to it with just as much vigor, identifying all the same injustices they railed against on September 10th as the injustices that must be corrected to prevent a future September 11th.

    -- For those concerned about the "virality" of the GPL, a suggestion: Write Your Own Damn Code.

    Talk is cheap. (4.42 / 7) (#80)
    by Apuleius on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 09:04:21 PM EST

    Just a couple weeks ago Arafat was secretly preparing for a large scale war. His arms shipment was intercepted, and this op-ed piece is his Plan B. Just because he talks the talk does not mean he will walk the walk, and Arafat has proven that repeatedly over the last ten years.

    Arafat is also old. He will soon die, and all the talk about how horrible the alternatives are to him will be moot because the alternative will be required. Unlike the rest of the world, we Israelis are preparing for that inevitability.

    We are also preparing for something we were hoping to avoid. We went into the peace process facing quite a few risks, and banked on the notion that the Palestinians would be willing to look us in the eye. The last 10 years have proven otherwise. Despite the 50 years of conflict, we have seen that most Palestinians still see us in the role we used to play in the Arab World. We used to be submissive 2nd class citizens, and despite suffering for 50 years what we've gone through for centuries, the Palestinians still largely see us in the same way white Southerners in the States used to see blacks. And if we're still their niggers, then we're going to be some pissed off, well armed niggers.

    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    Yeah. (3.50 / 4) (#82)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 09:56:49 PM EST

    What gives those palestinians the right to defend their homes and their lives anyway? Damn them for trying to purchase weapons more useful than suicide bombs!

    People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
    [ Parent ]
    Yeah, indeed. (5.00 / 4) (#84)
    by Apuleius on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 10:16:10 PM EST

    Care to tell me how shooting into a 12 year old girl's birthday party can be characterised as "defending their homes"? Care to tell me how setting off bombs in our towns will "defend their homes"? If what they wanted was to "defend their homes", this war would not be going on. What they want is to put us in our place.

    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    [ Parent ]
    Who's shooting? (2.66 / 3) (#85)
    by ichihi on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 10:46:46 PM EST

    Well as far as I know, it's the Israeli Amry that is used to shooting kids and it's not a separate incident.. it's the rule. And it's the Israeli Army that did already put so many Palestinians to their place. Please don't try to make me understand that the Israelis are the poor and weak innocents surrounded by Palestinian murderers! You do have the tanks, the jet fighters and the Apache's.. and you're using them.

    [ Parent ]
    Hamasniks with AK-47s. (3.33 / 3) (#87)
    by Apuleius on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 10:51:08 PM EST

    Their most recent successfull attack was one of their guys busting on a party and spraying the crowd. As for the IDF's actions, that is the fault of the damn PA for encouraging children to join crowds with Tanzim riflemen who then shoot at IDF soldiers.

    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    [ Parent ]
    An M-16, actually (4.00 / 2) (#89)
    by zastruga on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 10:57:53 PM EST

    And we all know where the Palestinians got their fine American-made rifles for their "police force" -- certainly not from Israelis who believed in the Peace Process and those who supported it, of course.

    [ Parent ]
    Israeli soldiers (none / 0) (#105)
    by linca on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 07:48:03 AM EST

    have orders wrt shooting at children. Then should shoot at their legs, whereas they are ordered to shoot at the heads of the adult.

    Anyone older than 12 is considered an adult

    They are ordered to aim at the head if there is a kid of 13 in a crowd.

    That is what can be called shooting at children.

    [ Parent ]
    Shootings (3.50 / 2) (#88)
    by Bernard Minuk on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 10:54:08 PM EST

    Could you please be more specific? To make this accusation of the army of a democratic country is quite a heavy thing. It must be asked what these people where doing when they get shot, and what the administrative results of shooting are (inquiries, etc).

    [ Parent ]
    NOT the chicken and the egg (2.00 / 2) (#93)
    by HongPong on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 11:26:00 PM EST

    Please tell me what came first, the waves of bombings or the military occupation and subsequent illegal settlement construction? Do people under military occupation somehow NOT have a right to defend their territory?
    hongpong.com-- Sublime agitation
    [ Parent ]
    The chicken. (4.50 / 2) (#95)
    by Apuleius on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 11:37:29 PM EST

    The wwaves of bombings began in 1936, and complemented a wave of massacres that began in 1929. However, the bombings that are more specifically relevant to the war in 1967, those began in 1951.

    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    [ Parent ]
    re: the Chicken (4.50 / 2) (#98)
    by Maserati on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 02:17:40 AM EST

    Also note that when the Jewish residents of Palestine were conducting a terrorist campaign against the British, they restricted themselves to military targets. Not without collateral damage, but all their targets (that I've found) were military.

    Quite a difference to the unrestricted targetting of civilians that Arafat's people are resorting to.


    For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
    [ Parent ]

    wha? (2.00 / 1) (#109)
    by streetlawyer on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 11:17:32 AM EST

    So hotels were military targets in 1948, were they?

    Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
    [ Parent ]
    The King David hotel (5.00 / 1) (#110)
    by kzin on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 11:28:56 AM EST

    The first two floors of the King David hotel were used as the headquarters of the British police force, and that was where the bomb was placed. In any case, a warning was given to the British by the bombers in advance, but for some reason they chose not to act on it.

    [ Parent ]
    wow that's a selective comment (3.00 / 2) (#111)
    by streetlawyer on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 11:43:42 AM EST

    Perhaps so, but the "first two floors" of the King David Hotel propped up a number of other floors on which 92 civilians met their deaths.

    A clearer example of the behaviour of Zionist advocates in this thread you could not ask for. In general, supporters of the Palestinian cause are making their points in clear, simple, short paragraphs based on obvious facts. The Zionists are responding with massive, thousand-word essays explaining how all is not as it appears, if only you would look at these facts instead of those facts. Such as, pay attention to any promise Arafat has broken, but ignore the ongoing settlements.

    It's this continued shiftiness and use of the Long Involved Explanation technique more than anything which convinces me that I am on the right side on this one.

    Do please feel free to convince me otherwise, in less than 200 words.

    Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
    [ Parent ]

    Can you tell me how goading children (2.50 / 2) (#108)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 10:11:40 AM EST

    into throwing stones at you and then shooting them in self-defense is a proper defense of Isreal?

    As for bombing civilians - the palestinians do it because those are the only people they can reach. If PLO had tanks, planes and troops don't you think they'd be taking out the road blocks and military incursions that make their lives so unliveable?

    People who think "clown" is an insult have never met any.
    [ Parent ]
    We're not the ones who do the goading. (4.00 / 1) (#118)
    by Apuleius on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 03:57:24 PM EST

    That's the PA television station's job. I presume you're referring to the Harper's story by Chris Hedges. Hedges is a liar who can't tell a silencer from a rubber pellet dispenser.

    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    [ Parent ]
    And as for bombing civilians.. (5.00 / 1) (#119)
    by Apuleius on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 03:58:47 PM EST

    Baloney. They have snipers going after the IDF soldiers all the time. They are attacking our civilians for the same reason the Klan attacked blacks: we are their niggers.

    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    [ Parent ]
    Oh, yeah. (3.00 / 1) (#121)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 04:38:56 PM EST

    Clearly, the US is completely biased towards the palestinians and gives them whatever they want. Like F-15s and billions of dollars in aid.

    And, for your information - snipers are not the same as children and a "PA station" is not NPR, which is where I originally heard the report.

    I love working with computers. I mean, in what other line of business can you say the words "Gold-Plated Crimp-On Banana Plugs" with a straight face
    [ Parent ]
    Yeah, what? (5.00 / 1) (#122)
    by Apuleius on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 05:01:47 PM EST

    The Palestinians have lots of rifles, thanks to Uncle Sam, and they use them for sniping at IDF. Deal. The snipers like to use children as human shields, and the PA television broadcasts propaganda to encourage children to go along with this. If you shoot at me while hiding behind kids, don't expect me to spare the kids.

    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    [ Parent ]
    a current of text (2.33 / 3) (#101)
    by xs euriah on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 05:19:22 AM EST

    Zionism's legacy of ethnic cleansing
    by Jean Shaoul 23 January 2001

    While Israel continues to deny Palestinians the right of return, one of the first pieces of legislation passed by the new state was the Law of Return, enabling Jews from all over the world to come and live in Israel. In the aftermath of the Second World War there were hundreds of thousands of Jews living in desperate conditions in displaced persons camps throughout Europe, as well as many others facing rampant anti-Semitism and discrimination. With few countries willing to take them, Israel provided their only possibility of a home.

    The Israeli legislation was not simply a humanitarian measure aimed at providing a refuge for Jews facing persecution, however. Immigration to provide manpower was vital if the fledgling state was to survive and its businesses were to have access to cheap labour. The Zionist state therefore actively encouraged the immigration of Jews to Israel and between 1948 and 1952 the Jewish population doubled.

    After an initial huge influx of Jews from Eastern Europe, Stalin initiated a vicious anti-Semitic campaign; Jews faced frame-up trials and the doors were closed to Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union. So Israel turned to the Jews living in the Middle East and North Africa for new sources of immigration.

    It used all means at its disposal to achieve this, going far beyond what would generally be considered encouragemen. The case of the Iraqi Jews is the most well known, and is documented in several books (see Moshe Gat's The Jewish Exodus from Iraq 1948-1951 and Shlomi Hillel's Operation Babylon). The Zionist underground, backed by Mossad le-Aliya, the forerunner of the Israeli security service, sent agents provocateurs abroad to create conditions whereby Jews would leave their homes and come to Israel. As a result of Mossad activities, in the space of a few weeks more than 120,000 Jews almost the entire community in Iraq were forced to leave their homes and possessions for Israel. Until the onset of Zionist-Palestinian conflict and the inflaming of political tensions by Britain's stooge regime under King Feisal and Prime Minister Nuri Said in Iraq, Jews had lived there without incident for 2,500 years, since the Babylonian exile from biblical Palestine.

    Israel was not the destination of choice for the Iraqi Jews. A privileged few, those with money and connections, went to the West. But the majority lived in Israeli camps, where food and medicines were in short supply, until homes in development towns could be built on the ruins of Palestinian villages.

    In subsequent years, entire communities of Jews from all over the Middle East and North Africa, who had had no interest in Zionism and had not faced discrimination or the anti-Semitism so prevalent in Europe, came to Israel They now form the majority in Israel. Both the size and speed of this exodus gives rise to the suspicion that in some cases at least, deals were done. Morocco's King Hassan was subsequently able to call on Mossad's services in Paris to dispose of Ben Barka, a political opponent, in circumstances that have never been clarified. The Royalist forces in Yemen received support from the Israeli Defence Force in their murderous civil war against the Republicans who were backed by Egypt's Nasser. Thus, irrespective of their stated motives and intentions, and despite their anti-Israeli rhetoric, the viability of the Zionist state was crucially dependent upon the actions of the Arab bourgeoisie.

    Today the population of Israel has grown to over 6 million, including more than 1 million Russians who left after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is widely believed that many of these are non-Jews, who were desperate to escape the widespread poverty and misery that followed Russia's economic collapse. This in turn has infuriated the religious authorities, who fear the diminution of their power.

    At the very least, the enormous expansion of Israel's population refutes any claim that there was not enough room in Israel-Palestine or the means to support an enlarged Palestinian citizenry. The crucial question for Zionism was that the expansion has been Jewish and at the expense of the Palestinians. Those Palestinians who continued to live inside Israel have been treated as second-class citizens: Israeli Palestinians do not have the same rights as Israeli Jews. Ninety-three percent of the land is now characterised as Jewish land, meaning that no non-Jew is allowed to lease, sell or buy it. Thus the Land Rules have not just made the Palestinians into refugees, they have also worked to dispossess them of their property within Israel itself. Furthermore until 1966, Palestinian Israelis were ruled by military ordinance.

    The Six-Day War and Israeli military occupation

    After the Six-Day War in June 1967, when Israel seized East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights in Syria, many Palestinians became refugees for a second time. They were forced to leave their homes and flee to Jordan and the Lebanon. Palestinian resistance to the military occupation that followed the war provoked a brutal response from the Israeli army. Whole villages were razed to the ground and families expelled. This vicious sequence was repeated over and over again as the Israelis drove the Palestinians further away from their original homes. The Palestinian-Israeli scholar Nur Masalha details how the Zionists planned and implemented programmes to rid the Promised Land of its native people in his book A Land without a People: Israel, Transfer and the Palestinians, 1949-96. He explains that this policy continued well after the 1948-49 war and involved not just the politicians and military forces, but also Israeli intellectuals. It included transfer, massacres as in the case of Kfir Qasim housing demolitions and expulsions. Jewish settlements were established in the newly occupied lands within weeks of the war, not by right-wing zealots but by the party of government, the Labour Party. As Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell explains in his book The Founding Myths of Israel,Despite the impression that some of the founders of the labour movement, motivated by internal political struggles, have attempted to create, everyone in the coalition both the founders and their successors were united in pursuing a policy of fait accompli in the occupied territories. Despite the divisions in the Mapai [Labour] since the mid-1940s, the family of Mapai remained true to the doctrine of never giving up a position or a territory unless one is compelled by a superior force

    As Sternhell explains, while the then Prime Minister Levi Eshkol feared the consequences of such a move, he had no ideological alternative to offer. His failure to prevent the colonising of the Occupied Territories stemmed not from personal weaknesses, but from the fact that he had no response to the Zionist argument that if Jews could live in the Arab towns and neighbourhoods of Jaffa and Haifa and consider them their legitimate homes, there was no reason to prevent them living in Palestinian Nablus or Hebron.

    According to Sternhell, Golda Meir, who followed Eshkol as prime minister, was chosen precisely because she wholeheartedly embraced the nationalist perspective of the Labour Zionists and appealed to history as proof of the legitimacy, morality and exclusivity of the Jewish people's right to the country. For her, there was room for only one national movement in Palestine a Jewish one. This was why she prohibited the use of terms such as Palestinian national movemen and Palestinian state'' on Israeli state radio and television.

    The promulgation by the government of literally hundreds of occupiers' laws directly contravened not only the tenets of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights but the Geneva Conventions as well. These violations of basic democratic rights included administrative detention, mass land expropriations, forced movement of populations, and torture.

    Palestinians were made homeless and whole areas were ethnically cleansed so that Israelis, often new immigrants, could be housed. Initially it was only the right-wing zealots, determined to colonise the West Bank (known as Judea and Samaria in biblical Palestine), who came to the new settlements. But it was only possible to populate them by offering financial inducements, in the form of subsidies and tax rebates, to encourage poor Israelis to settle there who otherwise had no chance of obtaining decent, affordable housing. Even after talks to reach a negotiated resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulted in the 1993 Oslo Accords, settlement building did not abate. The opposite occurred, it increased, transforming the demography of the West Bank and Jerusalem.

    As a result of the 1967 Six-Day War and Israeli reprisals against those suspected of supporting the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), many Palestinians fled to Jordan. Three years later, many were hounded out of Jordan in a military campaign by King Hussein, aided by Israel, in what became known as Black September, and fled to Lebanon.

    The Israeli invasions of Lebanon in 1978 and 1982 created further displacements as the Palestinians left their homes in southern Lebanon and moved to Beirut to avoid Israeli air raids. Many Palestinians thus became refugees several times over. Israel's 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon was accompanied by frequent aerial bombardments that destroyed countless Arab homes and villages. The Palestinians, despite their expulsion from their homes in 1948 and 1967, were never safe from the extended arm of Israel's military and secret service, even in their place of refuge.

    Palestinian homes were no more sacrosanct in Jerusalem the eternal and undivided capital of Israel, according to the Zionists. Under vaguely defined and discriminatory rules, Palestinians who live there lose their residency rights if they are unable to prove that Jerusalem is the centre of their life. The loss of residency rights means expulsion from Jerusalem and exile to a village in the West Bank, where access to Jerusalem is denied.

    1993 Oslo Accords

    The Labour politicians Shimon Peres who played a major role in securing the Oslo agreement in 1993 and Yitzhak Rabin who signed the accords did not do so because of some Damascene conversion to the legitimacy of Palestinian national rights. An agreement offered the most rational solution to the conflict from the perspective of Israel's own national interests. They postponed the resolution of the most difficult issues the refugee question and the status of Jerusalem to later talks, in the hope of first getting agreement on borders and land transfers.

    The right-wing opposition within Israel has obstructed every step of the protracted Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. In the final analysis, despite the majority of Israelis supporting an end to the conflict, the Labour Party and its liberal and secular supporters have been unable to oppose the right-wing fundamentalists. The relationship between the secular Labourites, the peace movement and the religious nationalists is much closer than might appear on the surface. All share a perspective based on upholding claims to an historical and religious Jewish right to Palestine, which dictated the Palestinian expulsions and precludes the recognition of similar rights for the Palestinians.

    The liberal historian Benny Morris, who has quite correctly exposed the way Israel forcibly ejected the Palestinians from their homes in order to establish the Zionist state, exemplifies this outlook. His nationalist perspective renders him blind to the logical implications of his own work. He wrote in Britain's Guardian newspaper:The spectacle of Palestinian rejection of the reasonable terms offered by President Clinton and the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (Israeli withdrawal from 95 percent of the West Bank and the Arab half of Jerusalem, and Palestinian statehood), and the insistence on the refugees' right of return to their homes, towns and villages in pre-1967 Israel, is alienating most Israelis and undermining the sympathy that the past decades of suffering and peace negotiations have engendered.

    He concluded his article by saying, Almost all Israeli Jews, including myself, believe that whatever the rights and wrongs of 1948, and whoever was to blame for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, a solution based on their repatriation to Israel would spell the destruction of the Jewish state.

    United Socialist States of the Middle East

    This brief review of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict shows that any recognition of the Palestinians' right of return, however circumscribed, immediately raises the undemocratic character of the Zionist regime and its essential inviability.

    As this article has sought to show, it is a myth to say that the state of Israel was established in a land without people. On the contrary, the state of Israel was created as a result of the planned and systematic expulsion of the Palestinian people.

    Moreover, Israel cannot be regarded as any kind of progressive society, committed to social equality and the advancement of all its peoples. The Zionist state enshrines discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs. It is a society riven from top to bottom with social and political divisions of a most explosive character.

    Despite posturing as a new form of society, founded on equality and quasi-socialist principles, from its origins Israel has been a garrison state, surrounded by hostile neighbours, with the army serving as the central pillar of society.

    The tragic irony of the Zionist solution to the oppression of the Jewish people traditionally and historically connected with a struggle for tolerance and freedom has been the brutal suppression of another oppressed people. In consequence, the right-wing forces cultivated by the Zionist state now threaten to reproduce within Israel the same conditions of dictatorship and civil war from which an earlier generation of Jews fled. The only way out of the current dead end is the development of a political movement to unite Arab and Jewish workers and intellectuals in a common struggle against capitalism and for the building of a socialist society. This also offers the only means of genuinely redressing the historic iniquities suffered by the Palestinian workers and peasants, and ending the twin evils of oppression and war that are fuelled by the profit drive of international capital and the native ruling elites. The creation of a United Socialist States of the Middle East would remove the artificial borders that presently divide the peoples and economies of the region, enabling its plentiful resources to be utilised in order to fulfil the social, economic and democratic aspirations of all its peoples.

    Copyright 1998-2001 World Socialist Web Site. All rights reserved

    [ Parent ]
    leadership (5.00 / 1) (#103)
    by siculars on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 05:59:27 AM EST

    some background... i am jewish. i have family in israel now. i was born in the usa so i do have a democratic background and don't have an israeli right-wing taint of madness. i think there is a fundamental problem of idealism vs realism in this conflict. personally i believe the final solution, no relation to the holocaust, is to have two states for two people. this means the dismantling of settlements and dropping the pal request for return.

    how do we accomplish this? what can be done to promote this idea to the public? i think since israel does have the upper hand strategically they should be the ones to stop the building and start the dismantling. that is a given and must be done regardless of the violence going on daily. israeli leadership must realize that they need to take the lead in formulating a lasting peace. for the most part the pa is void of leadership. arafat is no more a champion for peace than i am santa clause. by taking these steps israel will be appealing to the pal people directly and will hopefully strike a chord of sincerity.

    regarding arafat's op-ed. has it been translated into arabic for the pal people to read for themselves? has it been broadcast on al-jazeera? of course not. arafat speaks to his people in arabic and calls for a 'million martyrdom march on jerusalem.' can you all feel that? that is realism smacking you in the face. the dept. of propaganda, err education, must rewrite the books and encourage coexistence. the pa's new leadership, whoever they may be, needs to de-brainwash the people and remove the hatred from them. hopefully the new leadership will be democratically elected. one can hope (ideally). when the time comes that the pa has true leadership israel must do everything it can to keep them there, financially and logistically.

    as far as security is concerned it will exist. by one side or both. israel will tighten its blockades in the face of reality. israel will remain vigilant in protecting its borders and citizens. we, the world, should not try to imply any moral equivalent in this conflict. israel has tremendous might yet they are restrained. can anyone actually claim that if arafat had the means he would not use them? lets not forget saddams nuclear neutering at the hands of israel.

    these steps need to be taken for peace. until then it is all talk, fluff and op-ed articles.

    Not request for return, it's the Right of Return (4.66 / 3) (#116)
    by MrYotsuya on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 02:59:40 PM EST

    The Right of Return is enshrined in interntational law, Israel has been in violation of UN Resolution #nnn ( I don't know which one, but Arafat did quote a bunch of them) for many many years. No peace solution will work without the return of Palestinians to wherever they came from.

    [ Parent ]
    There is no right of return. (2.50 / 2) (#120)
    by Apuleius on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 04:01:13 PM EST

    There is no right of return for Hindus who left what is now Pakistan, nor for Muslims who left what is now India, nor for Jews who left the Arab countries, nor for the Greeks and Turks who were pushed in the 1920's, nor for the Palestinians. Deal.

    There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
    [ Parent ]
    No such thing as "right of return". (4.00 / 1) (#124)
    by ffalcon on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 09:34:36 PM EST

    The Right of Return is enshrined in interntational law, Israel has been in violation of UN Resolution #nnn ( I don't know which one, but Arafat did quote a bunch of them)
    The resolution that you are referring to, and that is referred to repeatedly in western media, is UN General Assembly Resolution 194(III).

    I suggest you read this resolution carefully, particularly the relevant section 11, which is directed at Israel, with regard to Palestinian refugees.

    The reslution states: The General Assembly . . . Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date (emphasis added)

    I draw your attention to the following vital points:

    (1) The phrase "right of return" appears nowhere in this resolution. The word "right" appears nowhere in this resolution. The Palestinian "right of return" is not "enshrined" in any UN resolution.

    (2) The resolution does state that some refugees should be permitted to return, as soon as possible. "Should be permitted . . ." makes it quite clear that there are no rights at issue. Where rights are concerned, the UN does not use "should" language, it uses "must" language. This is no right.

    (3) The resolution refers specifically to "those refugees who are ready to live at peace with their neighbours." Until the Palestinian refugees demonstrate clearly that they are ready to live at peace with their neighbours, the resolution does not apply. In fact, until the Oslo agreements of 1993, Arafat and the PLO rejected the existence of Israel entirely. As recently as sixteen months ago, it appeared that the Palestinians were making good on their promise to be ready to live as good neighbours, but the murderous events of the so-called intifada have put the lie to that.

    Rights language is very powerful. In the second half of the past century, great strides were made in international law and agreements, recognizing the fundamental rights of all humans, of children, and of various other groups. But nowhere is there to be found a "right of return". This concept simply does not appear in the UN resolutions that are frequently cited. And there is a reason for that.

    The UN general assembly recognizes that the complications involved in returning refugees to their homes can be extremely difficult to resolve. Also, the possibility of other forms of compensation to refugees who have lost their homes is mentioned. It is wrong to pretend that the international community supports some "right of return" for all Palestinians, that must occur before we can all live in peace. This idea is a fundamental block to peace in the region, and is the reason for the failure of the Clinton talks, when Arafat encountered an Israeli administration willing to give up more than anyone imagined, and yet he refused to budge an inch from his impossible expectations.

    Until the Palestinians abandon their hope for the phantom "right of return", that does not exist, and accept fair compensation for their lost homes, in land and money, their is little hope for substantive progress in peace talks. This is the sad reality. Do not perpetuate any longer the myth of the "right of return". It only does more harm.

    [ Parent ]

    What you failed to mention... (none / 0) (#125)
    by zastruga on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 09:48:19 PM EST

    Moreover, U.N. General Assembly resolutions are merely "recommendations" to Charter states. (In contrast, Security Council resolutions are supposed to have the force of law for member states.) So, not only is no legal right "enshrined" in Resolution 194, one could not be.

    [ Parent ]
    The problems are in Arafats leadership style. (4.50 / 2) (#123)
    by Ressev on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 06:13:56 PM EST

    Arafat really has not helped the Palestinian cause. What is needed is not Arafat or any man like Arafat but a man like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But, to the great misfortune of the Palestinian people, that is very unlikely to occur.

    Not that there are Palestinians who are unlike the late Mr. King, no indeed I have meet Palestinians who are lovers of peace and peaceful solutions to this predicament. But they are often silent and with good cause when such radical talks of peace as King espoused result in accusations of collaborating with the enemy. It is a difference of mind set and religion. It is said that actions speak louder than words, but often it appears that the actions of the Palestinians are edited to match a stereo type of victimization that is prevalent in the media. The Israelis who may take the time to research numbers and incidents also stand in contrast to the Palestinians who make immediate and for the majority of the time, grossly inaccurate claims. People have short attention spans and thus much is lost when the facts are all assembled for all to see.

    Back to King and Arafat. Can you imagine what the Freedom movement in America would have been like if King were Arafat? To compare the two is like comparing apples and tomatoes. The majority of Americans with Europeans descent would not have been enamored with a violent populace wanting equality and independent statehood devoted to their eventual expulsion and destruction.

    History is well forgotten by many. While the idea that the Palestinians have a "right" to return seems enticing, what is the logical conclusion? How many other peoples have a "right" to return? What does constitute fairness? If you consider history, the Jews have far more right to live in ALL of the land that was called Palestine than the Palestinian people do. But, what about the refugees? Good question. The refugee situation is rather curious, it is perhaps not well known that the UN has two departments dealing with the matter of refugees, one deals with getting refugees a place to live (not their from their point of origin) and does so, the other deals solely with the Palestinians and as such does not seek to get them homes (other than in Israel) The refugees themselves would not have had the status of refugees if the various Arab countries that surrounded Israel and immediately attacked her after her birth did not promise to return them to their homes after the "Jews were pushed into the sea". The refugee situation is the entire making of the Arab world.

    Nobody complained when Jordan kept the West Bank for itself after 1948, but everybody complained after Israel kept it after 1967. Jordan didn't want it and the vacuum was legally filled by Israel until a state could be established there.

    Are the Israelis pure? No, they could have done and could be doing much within their own borders to demonstrate that they care about the Arab population within their borders. But, there are many broken promises of aid and a very disparate poverty level among the Israeli Arabs (Muslim or Christian). Had they loved their neighbor in their midst the lies and propaganda that fills the airwaves, textbooks, and rhetoric from the West Bank and Gaza would be demonstrated as worthless. Unfortunately, their treatment of their own people undermines their case.

    Democracy in the West Bank? There is none. Arafat speaks as a self appointed leader of the Palestinians and elections have been suspended (even when there was some 'peace'). Perhaps he fears competition. That more than likely is true. To give Arafat the benefit of the doubt, what if he were genuinely devoted to peace? He has done little by word and deed to pursue peace and change the mind set of the Palestinians towards the Jews. He acts half hearted to reign in terror and would love to be a martyr himself (this he said, ironically, on Mr. Kings birthday a couple of weeks ago). If we consider him to be sincere, then that is all the more reason to see him replaced by someone else. Arafat has outlasted his purpose as a defender of the Palestinian cause and as such he has little credibility and no apparent control. Israel and the West need to put their faith in someone else to work at bringing "peace to the Middle East".

    No more talk of Jihad. No more talk of martyrdom. No more talk of violence or the indulgence in it. No more promoting one stance in English or Hebrew and another in Arabic and action. No more intifada, just peaceful Civil Disobedience that King espoused and by it, changed the United States of America. What argument would the Israelis have at all if Arafat were as radical as King? Is what we read really Arafat's dream? By his actions I can only say no, and by his inaction and words I can only say that he is not the man to lead the Palestinian people towards peace.
    "Even a wise man can learn from a fool."
    "There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." - Mark Twain

    Yasir Arafat's Op-ed Piece | 129 comments (125 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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