A simple primer for Americans on the Palestinians (republished here with author's permission)

by: johnalive

Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 14:44

(Here's an excellent piece of de-mystification as well as historical education about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. - promoted by Paul Rosenberg)

The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Too Complicated For Our Beautiful Minds

Diane Mason (aka Lawrence of Cyberia) has given me permission to republish this in its entirety here.

Via Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, Lawrence of Cyberia writes:

There are so many words written about the "root causes" of the Arab-Israeli conflict, you might think the underlying issue is difficult to understand.  But you'd be wrong.  For all the mythology that interested parties want to wrap this conflict in, it's really not difficult at all to understand the confrontation that has been going on in Palestine for more than a century now. All you have to do is try to imagine that what happened to Palestine happened instead here in the U.S. Then ask yourself, "What would Americans do in this position?".  And at that point, you find it miraculously stops being difficult to understand.

The problem with this approach is that American Exceptionalism has left us barely able to imagine being in other people's shoes. So we explain the world to ourselves through ridiculous platitudes like we're good and they're evil, that actually explain nothing and leave us as confused as when we started. We just don't do empathy very well.

But let's try anyway.  

johnalive :: A simple primer for Americans on the Palestinians (republished here with author's permission)
Let's try imagining that what has been going on in Palestine for the last 100 years is going on instead here in the U.S., right now.

According to Wikipedia, Jewish Americans currently comprise about 2.5% of the population of the United States.  Imagine that tomorrow morning some well-financed and politically connected Zionists in Europe will announce to you - the American people - they are going to build a "Jewish state".  Americans aren't known for being overly-curious about what goes on in the rest of the world, so probably wouldn't really care one way or another about what Zionists in Europe are up to. In fact, you might well just shrug your shoulders and say "well, good luck with that", right up until the moment they tell you that they're going to build it ... here, in the United States.

After picking yourself up off the floor, you might point out to them that the U.S. is already populated thank you very much, and that 97.5% of that population happens not to be Jewish. And that those 97.5% are going to be very strongly opposed to the suggestion that a minority, sectarian state - which automatically excludes them from equal citizenship solely because they don't have a Jewish mom - should be forcibly imposed on them.

At first, your Zionist interlocutors might respond with some really bizarre justifications for what they're proposing to do to you. They tell you that Canada is right next door, and suggest you should leave your home and go and live there instead.  They tell you that Canadians speak English, just like Americans; and Canada was settled by the British, just like the U.S., so you'd really be just as much at home there as in the U.S.  And Canada's huge, there's plenty of room for you to relocate there!

Then, when they can tell you're not really buying these arguments about why you should vacate the only home you've ever had and live instead in some place you've never been to in the frozen north, they tell you it really doesn't matter what you think as you're not going to be consulted anyway.  They have powerful foreign allies and enough firepower to create the "Jewish state" in America whether you like it or not, and so they do... by expelling about half of the U.S population to Canada and inviting Jewish immigrants to live in their vacated homes, and by disenfranchising most of those indigenous Americans who stubbornly remain.

Imagine if that happened here. And imagine if it went on happening for 100 years, because the sheer persistence of the remaining non-Jewish population meant that their numbers had to be constantly culled in order to maintain the sectarian regime's preferred "demographic balance". What do you think those 97.5% of Americans who are excluded from equal citizenship just  because they have the "wrong" ethnic-religious background are going to think of the sectarian regime that can exist in their homeland only through their own continuing dispossession? What do you think they might do? What do you think this sectarian state in America will end up looking like?

I know exactly what it would look like. It would look just like this:


An injured Palestinian is helped from the rubble following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. (Hatem Omar, AP)

Gaza II

Religous Jews from the volunteer ZAKA organization collect body parts at the blood-stained scene of a Palestinian suicide bombing February 4, 2008 in the southerm Israeli town of Dimona. (David Silverman/Getty Images)

A sectarian state of America, existing in a land where many different kinds of people live, but granting the full benefits of citizenship to only one of them, would look just like this, and no American would find it difficult to understand why.  If the great Zionist experiment were happening at our expense, we would not find this conflict to be complicated, nor would we be inventing silly stories about alleged ontological defects in non-Jewish Americans to explain why so many people are dead, why our conflict is seemingly endless, and why our homeland looks like a moonscape. If this were happening to us, we would understand perfectly well that it is absurd to establish a "Jewish state" in a land where 2.5% of the population is Jewish, and to expect that the disenfranchised 97.5% is going to be just fine with that.

And now, welcome to Palestine.

The analogy I've just outlined isn't as far-fetched as you might assume. When the first Zionist settlers arrived in Palestine, they claimed they were settling "a land without a people for a people without a land".  But that wasn't true. And we know it wasn't true (quite apart from the testimony of the people who lived there) because starting in 1876, the Ottoman Empire compiled annual counts of the population in its subject provinces, including Palestine.

The Ottomans counted their subjects in order to tax them, and in order to conscript them.  The really interesting thing is that under the Ottoman Turks your tax rate and your liability for military service were linked to your religion.  Jewish and Christian subjects paid extra taxes, but their sons were exempt from military service. Muslim subjects didn't pay the extra taxes, but their sons were liable for mandatory service in the army. So population counts in Palestine during the late Ottoman Empire didn't record just the number of people there, they also recorded their religion.  Which, for the purpose of countering Zionist mythology, is remarkably helpful.

So, let's have a look at the official statistics of the Ottoman government, to see what the "empty land" of Palestine really looked like when the first Zionist settlers arrived there to pioneer their Jewish state.  The information I'm posting is from The Population of Palestine: Population Statistics of the Late Ottoman Period and The Mandate (Ch 1, Table 1.4D) by Prof Justin McCarthy (Columbia University Press, 1990):

Ottoman census

The year of the first aliya was 1299 (Muslim calendar), or 1881/2 of the Common Era.  And you can see at a glance that despite what you've been told, Palestine at that time was very far from being a land without a people.  In fact, there were 462,465 people living in Palestine: 403,795 Muslims; 43,659 Christians; 15,011 Jews.  In other words, Zionists were settling in a land where the pre-existing population was just 3.3 per cent Jewish, where a "Jewish state" could not possibly be established and maintained without the dispossession and disenfranchisement of those 96.7 per cent of the population that happen to have the "wrong" ethnic-religious origin, and where that dispossession would have to continue generation upon generation because of the majority population's ability to replenish itself through its high birthrate.

And suddenly, my comparison with the U.S., with its tiny Jewish minority of 2.5%, and the question of how most Americans would react to the imposition of a minority, sectarian state in their midst, doesn't seem so far-fetched after all.

Despite the endless propaganda we are subjected to, about Palestinians (and Arabs and Muslims) being people who are "not like us", whose values are inimical to our own, and with whom we are condemned to be engaged in an endless clash of civilizations, the conflict in Palestine is actually rooted in the fact that Palestinians are exactly like us.

Palestinians do not accept that equal citizenship in their own homeland should be denied them because of their ethnic/religious background, any more than Americans would accept ethnic justifications for denying them equal citizenship in the United States. Palestinians do not accept that a population that is 96.7% Muslim and Christian should be ethnically cleansed to make way for a sectarian Jewish state, any more than we would accept that the 97.5% of Americans who happen to be not-Jewish should be ethnically cleansed to make way for a Jewish state here.  In short, Palestinians reject and resist Zionism because they do not accept being treated in ways that we, likewise, would never accept for ourselves.

This is not difficult to understand. And yet we wrap the Arab-Israeli conflict in complex, ontological constructs about "The Arab Mind", about "Islamofascists" who "hate us for our freedoms", and about mindless, irrational anti-Semites who hate Israel just because it's Jewish and not because the overwhelmingly non-Jewish population there has to be destroyed in order to make it, and keep it, Jewish.  Complicated existential explanations to hide the simple fact that the Palestinians are doing exactly what we would be doing if we found ourselves in their situation.

I understand that if you're a Zionist you have a vested interest in not understanding all this, and in persuading others that it's really very complicated. But for the rest of us, really, how difficult is this to grasp?

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Lawrence of Cyberia is a wonderful source of understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (4.00 / 4)
Thanks for bringing forth more understanding at this site. I have often encouraged Diane to crosspost her research and analysis because it would help many people, especially Americans, to understand what this conflict is really all about. And while it might not look pretty for the Israelis, it nonetheless a hard truthful look at just what Americans support when they blindly take the proIsraeli view.  

Good piece (4.00 / 8)
Israel's reflexive defenders perpetuate the myth of complexity to make the conflict seems hopeless, and to deter fence-sitters from falling on the side of justice.

The central fact, which must dictate any moral math, is that Palestinians are under the military domination of Israel. Palestinians have the right to self-determination, regardless of what their leadership is or isn't.

Most everything else is just noise.

what if we stop thinking of israelis and palestinians as separate nations (4.00 / 2)
and start advocating for a pluralistic society in Israel/Palestine under one state that acknowledges the differences ofboth communities, sheds Israel's identity as a Jewish state, and promotes democracy?

That's just one solution - now that the neocons and others have adopted the two-state model as a way to further apartheid (and in the process probably end up destroying israel, imo), it might be time to start going back to first principles like democracy, toleration, etc.  So the people (palestinians and otherwise) have a right to self-determination, but they don't have to be bisected by contemporary struggles that their elites manipulate to keep them cowed (and that's on both sides).

Just throwing it out there - I don't know what a good plausible solution looks like, but I'm tired of hearing about this every month, every year, my entire life.  I would say its just "their" business, but it keeps coming up, even though other conflicts like Kashmir, Western Sahara, etc. are just as relevant and so it seems taht there is a demand placed on us to comment.  And in the face of what's going on now - where the Israeli establishment seems to have forgotten what public relations is - i don't mind.

[ Parent ]
That is a great progressive solution... (0.00 / 0)
Somebody out there must have done some work on what such a state would look like in Israel. I know one of the major concerns of the Israeli Jews is being overtaken by population demographics of Palestinians. Some system of super-majority requirements and proportional representation would need to be put in place to ensure one group could not use the levers of government to afflict the other group.

This idea probably generates a lot of scoffing, but if such a society were established, it would create social and political space for Israelis and Paestinians with progressive values to interact, inter-marry, and integrate. Of course, such people are silent and invisible right now in the face of violent authoritarians on both sides.

[ Parent ]
It's already a (very ugly) fact (0.00 / 0)
If you look at what Israeli policies of the last 40 years have actually done, it's pretty clear that the single state already exists, although one could hardly call it a solution. The Gaza Strip and a large portion of the West Bank are, in fact, bantustans incorporated into Greater Israel much like the Transkei or Bophuthatswana were in South Africa. No two-state solution is even thinkable unless and/or until the Israeli occupation and administration of these areas is ended.

And, of course, the until part of the formula is rapidly disappearing, as the Israeli infrastructure of domination spreads and hardens in these areas, and as the souls of both Israelis and Palestinians shrink under the burden of horror imposed upon them by this caging and humiliation of more than half the population.

Whether they like it or not, the Israelis have created their single state. Now let's see them digest it.

[ Parent ]
I've read "One Country" (4.00 / 3)
by Ali Abunimah, the American-educated Palestinian who founded Electronic Intifada.  His basic argument is that Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the growth of the Palestinian population within the Green Line make the 2-state solution unworkable -- and that the best option is a Belgian-style binational state.  It's a good book -- I recommend it.

I think the biggest problem is that Palestinians and Israelis seem to prefer the two-state solution.  Though each side might be imagining a politically unrealistic scenario for "their" state when they express that preference.  That's not a reason to stop arguing for a binational state, but we need to recognize the reality of public opinion in any case.

In the end, no lines drawn on a map will make much of a difference if lots of people on both sides genuinely despise and mistrust each other.  That's the worst problem here, and escalating violence isn't going to make it any better.

[ Parent ]
Was that supposed to be a balanced explanation? (4.00 / 5)
If that was supposed to provide the Palestinian viewpoint, it's fine. If it was supposed to be balanced explanation, it was worthless.

I disagree with the premise that the situation is at all simple.

It's Supposed To Be A Re-Balancing Explanation (4.00 / 12)
speaking merely as the promoter, not the original author or the poster.

Americans are overwhelmingly presented with one framing: we're the good guys, and the Israelis are our allies, ergo, the good guys, too.

This presents a different framing.  One that naturalizes the Palestinian viewpoint.

It seems only natural that if we want to be able to understand both sides, we need to be able to understand how it looks to the average person on both sides.

The US M$M routinely shows us how it looks to the average Israeli. This is rebalancing, so we can see both ways.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Except that (4.00 / 1)
most Christians in the US are notoriously anti Semitic and support Israel only for their own religious reasons, and this Zionism 101 ignores the various factions and history  of Zionism, as well as the exploitation of the Arab-Jewish conflict by the British, the French and the US.  

[ Parent ]
This is just silly. (0.00 / 0)
Most Christians in the US are notoriously anti-Semitic and support Israel only for their own religious reasons.

I don't know where to begin. Since we're talking about the entire US, it's not clear to me why you made the leap to talking about Christians. I guess most Americans are nominally "Christians," but this term encompasses a wide variety of beliefs about a wide variety of things, Israeli-Palestinian issues among them.

Anyway, surely a lot of people in the United States have to deal with (or choose to ignore) their prejudices against Jews, just as they must with their prejudices against blacks. But the idea that a majority of American Christians are "notoriously anti-Semitic" is simply and entirely unsupportable.

Finally, to state that most Christians only support Israel for religious reasons - by which I assume you mean the millenarian Israel fetish that has sprung up in some Evangelical congregations - betrays a disturbing ignorance of the factions and history of American Christianity, as well as the exploitation of Christian rhetoric by the GOP and their fellow travelers on the right. When George H.W. Bush backed Israel, it was because he thought it was the realpolitik thing to do, not because of some fatwa from the Episcopal Church.

[ Parent ]
I disagree with your assessment of the media (0.00 / 0)
Many of us liberal zionists -- and yes, there are millions of us -- complain bitterly and often about how anti-Israeli the mainstream media is. Yes, the British media is much much worse, but the American version isn't much better. How many reports, for instance, have there been in the media about Israeli civilian deaths from rocket attacks originating in Gaza these past few months? That's right. None.

I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder. Everyone who is attached to a point of view bemoans the lack of that point of view being represented in the media.

[ Parent ]
Google is your friend (4.00 / 6)
I just put "Israeli rocket deaths" into Google.

The first result was from the Guardian - hardly a paper that's instinctively supportive of Israel, and it's readership is generally decidedly anti-Zionist.

The article actually contains the answer as to why there has been this dearth of articles. Allow me to quote:

"The deaths brought the tally of civilian fatalities from rocket strikes to 19 since 2002, when militants in Gaza first began firing missiles at Israeli towns."

That's a little more than 3 a year. Which is unacceptable, yes, but pure numerical analysis shows why Palestinian deaths are covered much more - Israel has garnered itself a much higher body count than Hamas.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
it's not all in the eye of the beholder (0.00 / 0)
if it were, the media wouldn't represent corporate interests more than others, it wouldn't promote u.s. national interests more  than other, and it wouldn't be more pro-israeli than palestinian.  We would have to actually present some evidence on both sides :) to have this argument for real, but that is what should happen to resolve it, not simply stating that it's just a matter of perspective.

[ Parent ]
What's wrong with this rebalanced explantion (4.00 / 2)
 is multiple.

I really doubt that the vast majority of Americans don't know that the Palestinians were in Palestine when the Zionist movement began..  And that they outnumbered the emigrating Jews.  So this "explanation" merely serves to cast one party as good and the other as evil.  That is not a promising way to present an issue in which there are now 2 parties.....who must compromise, if there is ever to be peace.  It is written as though everyone is a child with limited understanding of complexity.

The early Palestinians were powerful enough to attempt to dissuade the Zionists from coming by engaging in violent attacks on Zionist/Socialist communities.  They did not succeed.

The Jews kept coming and after the Holocaust and the war,  in which just like the Romans had originally denuded Palestine of its Jews (in order to control the land better politically) the Nazis denuded Europe of its Jews. So to most of the world and to Americans a Jewish state in Palestine became a moral necessity and had their blessing.

It is true the Palestinians were dispossessed, but initially the Zionists purchased land.  The first significant dispossession was the result of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, when the British withdrew in 1947.  Many fled thinking they would return, they didn't and Israel took possession of the land.  It was after the 1967 war when Israel got the West Bank and Gaza that Israel's behavior beceme ugly and counterproductive to peace. I remember seeing from my tour bus, the first Israeli settlement in the West Bank, Kiryat Arba in 1977, which was the result of right wing Jewish religious extremists (right wing religious extremists are always a dangerous phenomena), and knowing that it was a very bad thing.  For 10 years, the Labor government had not done any of it, but then Likud came into power.....and the government became involved.  Then the dispossion started to accelerate.

What is wrong with this one sided presentation is to once more couch one party as evil and another as good....  Reality is lots more complex.  Reality demands dealing with both parties....WHO ARE NOT GOING TO LEAVE THE LAND......

Reality means accepting Israel and its millions of Jews are there and that there are millions of Palestians in place too, who need a state that functions to their benefit.

Reality means the Israelis have to accept that the Palestinians have the right to a functioning state.  Reality also means that the Palestinians and HAMAS need to accept that the Israelis are staying.  

The problem is that ever since Rabin was assassinated, the agenda has always been driven by the most extreme elements, ON BOTH SIDES, so that even those in the middle must then have to deal with their actions.  Hamas thinks Israel should not exist...a wild eyed fantasy.  Fatah had finally come to the point where they realized this.  But Bush stupidly pushed elections which Hamas won.

The situation is full of endless blame for all parties at differnt points in time.  On both sides people have lost loved ones to violence by the other party.  At this point in time the power relationship is one way, Israel has it and the Palestinians don't.  At other eras it was another.  way.

What is wrong with this silly explanation that there is no road to peace to be found in it.  It serves to explain and justify Palestinian anger and the anger justifies the violence. It is as silly and harmful as writng a piece in which the Isreaeli Jews had never done a wrongful act and the Palestinians were Nazis. Neither "explantion" would produce a way forward to 2 legitimate, peaceful neighboring states. This was a very counterproductive "explanation".

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
True enough as far as it goes (4.00 / 1)
Would you not concede that the powerful must not rely exclusively on their power to speak for them? Would you not concede that the powerful have so far relied on nothing else, and not seeing the need, still have no intention whatsoever of doing otherwise? Can you not see that in addition to dropping cluster bombs on the powerless whenever they feel uncomfortable, the powerful have done their best to de-legitimize the powerless in the eyes of the world, and to eliminate any among them who might legitimately represent their own constituency in negotiations?

At this point, the powerless have little reason to do anything except to rely on their own endurance, and on the remote chance that public opinion, and history might yet redeem them.

Have you anything else to offer them? Has anyone?

[ Parent ]
The problem is that in both cases those who must make peace are tainted. (4.00 / 1)
Israel is presently the most militarily powerful so they wreak disproportionate harm on the Palestinians, but even in ths round of violence the Palestinians are not completely blameless.  The rockets are only weak and have killed few because they don't have the means to make them more powerful.

But if they had the means to wreak equal physical destruction.....what do you think they would do?

Fatah had finally given up pushing the Israelis into the sea, but Hamas still wants to, at least that is still their stated aim.  Of course they don't have the power to do this, so you discount that in your calculations, but should one if one really wants to understand the psychology of the situation. Israel was settled as a response to persecution....and so of course the Israelis fear violence against them by powerful actors.  Hamas does not have anyone who could be Sadat and Israel has no Rabin.

But dwelling on who's right and who's wrong are readblocks.    

And history and intentions bear heavily on the present actions.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
So? (4.00 / 3)
You've reasoned yourself up against an impasse. Now what? (And for the record, we're not dwelling on who's right and who's wrong here. We're simply stating that the Palestinians are not an unpeople, and that treating them as such, which both the U.S. and Israeli governments -- to their everlasting shame -- have consistently done, is not where you repair to when you want peace.)

[ Parent ]
Even George Bush acknowledges that the Palestinians are a people (0.00 / 0)
I am saying laying blame doesn't get us anywhere good.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Acknowledges.... (0.00 / 0)
And there's a peace process, too, I'll bet.

[ Parent ]
What's wrong with this rebalanced explanation is multiple. (4.00 / 3)
You suggest the vast majority of Americans know that the Palestinians were in Palestine before the Zionists arrived. Sorry, I don't buy that at all. Five years after the Iraqi invasion began, many Americans still don't know where Iraq is. Most Americans weren't even alive when Israel was founded let alone in 1897 when European Zionists declared unilaterally that Palestine was to be the Jewish homeland. And if the fact that there were many more Arabs in Palestine before the Zionists arrived makes the Zionists the bad guys, so be it. They certainly were viewed as uninvited interlopers by the Arabs.

Secondly, I beg to differ with you that the Palestinians were powerful during the early stages of the Zionist emigration. Yes, they outnumbered the Jews but they were mostly poor and unsophisticated farmers and ranchers who had been impoverished under a failing Ottoman Empire. The Primer points out the detailed censuses the Ottoman Empire undertook. That wasn't because the Turks were obsessed with accountability and organization. Rather, they wanted/needed the tax monies.

The truth is the Palestinians didn't stand a chance. The Zionists had benefactors 'in high places'.....one of the Rothchilds had gotten the Palestinian gates opened for Jewish emigration. While not wealthy, Zionists were supported by European currencies and benefited by the comparative poverty in Palestine. I am not saying the Zionists had it easy....they did not. They worked very hard. But to suggest it was an even playing field is a bit of hyperbole.

As for the world thinking that the Jews deserved a homeland in Palestine......not so fast. By the 1930s, the Brits who were closest to the situation began to regret mightily their decision to allow Zionist emigration to Palestine. They saw how violence had erupted between the Zionists and Arabs. They experienced first hand the anger of the Zionists when the Jewish terrorist organization, Irgun, blew up a hotel favored by the Brits in Jerusalem, the Hotel King David. Most other European countries were in varying degrees of anti Semiticism and didn't much care what happened to the Jews. Of course, the Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East were vehemently opposed to a Jewish state in Palestine. Finally, in the late 1930s, the Brits backed away from their support of the Zionists in Palestine. At that point, the concept of a Jewish state would have died a quiet death if Truman hadn't stepped in after WWII and pushed Israel through the UN.

Finally, when discussing the dispossession of the Palestinians from Israel during the 1948 war, you fail to mention that the Israelis told the fleeing Palestinians that if they left, they would not be allowed back into Israel. That's what the whole divisive issue of 'Right of Return' is about. You also failed to mention that that's exactly what many Zionists wanted....it was a way to get rid of 'the Arab problem'. You also ignore the fact the Israelis confiscated Arab property, and to this day, have never provided any kind of reparation.

The truth is if there is a 'badder' player....and frankly, I don't think anyone in this conflict is good......its the Zionists. They came in and took over. Not only did they take over, but they have kept the Arab population imprisoned in the West Bank and Gaza. And slowly over the years, they have justified taking more and more land in Palestine for their own purposes.

Sooo.....the Simple Primer for Americans....may be a bit simplistic.....certainly the Israeli/Palestinian is heavily nuanced with important issues that can not be ignored......but what the Primer does is make an attempt to balance out the perception in this country that Israel is all good and Hamas is all bad.  Most Americans don't know all the facts and come from a place where they believe the Israelis are the good guys who probably can walk on water on a good day and that sending Israel six billion dollars each year is a good thing. But its not true. The truth is much uglier with 400 Palestinians dying for every Israeli who dies; with innocent children lying in the streets with their brains spilling out. That doesn't excuse Hamas which is firing their primitive kassam rockets  sporadically into Israel. However, the attack on Gaza is far from a reasonable response....in fact, its monstrous and disproportionate...much like the attack on Lebanon two years ago. And so I believe Americans need to know all the facts of this conflict when going foward. I think the US needs to play a more neutral role and take a more aggressive approach to getting the two sides to sit down and talk.

[ Parent ]
What? (4.00 / 4)
"Finally, when discussing the dispossession of the Palestinians from Israel during the 1948 war, you fail to mention that the Israelis told the fleeing Palestinians that if they left, they would not be allowed back into Israel."

I don't think so. This, from the Institute for Middle East Understanding:

What is Plan Dalet?

Sixty years ago today Zionist political and military leaders met at the "Red House" in Tel Aviv and agreed to Plan Dalet, which called for the systematic expulsion of Palestinians from areas sought for the soon-to-be-founded state of Israel. The plan led to what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba.

At that time, Jews owned only about seven percent of the land in Palestine and constituted about 33 percent of the population. The Palestinians' presence and predominant ownership of the land were obstacles to the creation of a Jewish state. Moshe Sharett, Israel's second prime minister, said "We have forgotten that we have not come to an empty land to inherit it, but we have come to conquer a country from people inhabiting it."

2. Who devised Plan Dalet?

Top leaders of the Haganah, the leading Zionist underground militia in Palestine at the time, formulated Plan Dalet. One of the key instigators was David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel's first prime minister. A long-time proponent of expelling the Palestinians, 10 years earlier he stated to the Jewish Agency Executive, "I am for compulsory transfer; I do not see anything immoral in it."

3. When was Plan Dalet implemented?

Israel has since claimed that it was attacked by surrounding Arab states immediately after its founding on May 14, 1948, and that refugees fled due to the ensuing conflict. In fact, Plan Dalet predated the entrance of the Arab states into war with Israel. Some 250,000 Palestinians were expelled in the two months between the March 10 adoption of Plan Dalet and the establishment of Israel in mid-May. The stream of refugees into the Arab states created pressure on them to intervene to stanch the flow. It is more accurate to say that the refugee flight caused Arab intervention than the other way around.

4. What resulted from Plan Dalet?

Plan Dalet led to the depopulation of at least 450 Palestinian towns and villages, most of which were demolished to prevent the return of the refugees. By the end of 1948, more than 700,000 Palestinians - two-thirds of the Palestinian population - were exiled. It is estimated that more than 50 percent fled under direct military assault. Others fled in panic as news of massacres spread - for example, more than 100 civilians killed in the village of Deir Yassin on April 9 and 200 in Tantura between May 22nd and 23rd.

5. Why is Plan Dalet relevant today?

Israel will commemorate its 60th anniversary this May without acknowledging the ethnic cleansing and dispossession of Palestinians it perpetrated. At the same time, Palestinians will mark their dispossession and remind the world of their right to return to their homeland. An overwhelming majority of Palestinians believes that refugee rights must be remedied for peace between Palestinians and Israelis to endure.

[ Parent ]
Plan Dalet (0.00 / 0)
Thanks. I have never heard of Plan Dalet. I knew in the 1930s, the Zionists had talked about eliminating the Palestinians but I never thought it was turned into a formal plan. I thought most Arabs left during the 1948 war.  

[ Parent ]
My point is that a Primer biasing the explantion in the opposite direction (4.00 / 2)
does not help get us to a betteer place where some resolution toward peace can be achieved.

All such a biased and far too simple a primer does is allow one to wallow in blame games. Such explanations are just ruts that get deeper and deeper and soon one can never see the level field. They are justifications for never getting to a peace resolution

I said later in the thread...justice, whether by the lights of one side or the other, should not be the measure....It should be does this get us to peace.

Today of course marked another step away from peace.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
As johnalive Quotes From Glenn Greenwald (4.00 / 2)
Whatever else is true, the more domestic political pressure is exerted demanding that the U.S. play a more even-handed and constructive role in facilitating a diplomatic resolution, the more likely it is that this [forging an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians] will happen.

Helping people understand the Palestinian perspective does help exert domestic political pressure for a more even-handed role, and thus is a step in the direction of peace.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
The Primer (4.00 / 2)
First of all, I don't think the Primer is quite as biased as you think. I tried to point out to you some of the more important events leading up to Israel's independence. If the Arabs were guilty of anything, it was that they fought to keep their country from becoming a Jewish state. The Zionists were the invaders, not the Arabs. To ignore this significant point, will not help the Israelis and the Arabs get closer to peace. After all, why do you think this has evolved into a blood feud? I think the best thing that can happen now is for the US to become completely neutral in this mess and to stop siding almost exclusively with Israel. Then maybe that might lead to the establishment of a US monitored forum which can then create a structure that insures peace going forward. The odds for it succeeding are fairly slim but IMO there are no odds if the US keeps siding with Israel 100%.

[ Parent ]
This peice by Nir Rosen is not simpleminded (0.00 / 0)
You will find much you like in it and agree with....but, unlike this diary, it's not simpleminded.  It acknowlwdges complexity.  

for instance villainy is as much function of who has power that who is inheently morally right. At some point power can change hands.


"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
i can appreciate that (0.00 / 0)
and was surprised to see it in  any american space, in fact, but i was hoping we could go more quickly through the antithesis part to  synthesis.   I think it would be more helpful to talk about the issues in the thoguhtful way that this blog often does- for example, does the Israeli state have the right to define itself as a Jewish state, based on how it has chosen to implement that?  Imo no.  Do people subjected to Israeli or other state terror and deprivation have the right to defend themselves?  Imo yes.  Does the Israeli state have a right to build a wall to separate people from their land a nd create bantustans?  Imo no.  Is the Israeli state the only culpable party?  IMO no.  Who else, then, is culpable - surely the U.S., surely Fatah, perhaps Hamas, surely AIPAC, but who else and in what ways?  What do the settlements signify and how are we to understand them?

If we don't do this and simply stick to very basic but important stuff like "Palestinians are human beings and have every right to be aggrieved"; "there is an enormous power imbalance between the Israeli state and the Palestinian 'leadership' in terms of capacity to wage war"; then we'll get some of the way, but not very far, imo, and in the process, the tone of the post is going to perpetuate the divisiveness and dogmatism that characterizes all conflicts like this.  

I still appreciate it, but I don't think it was necessarily the most useful way forward, though I could be convinced otherwise.

[ Parent ]
I Disagree, Based On My Own Experience (4.00 / 1)
It would be lovely if what suggest were a recipe for advancing toward a solution.  But it's not.  It's a recipe for indefinite delay.  How do I know?  Been there. Done that.

So long as the power imbalance remains overwhelming and immovable, all the intelligent, rational discussion in the world will not change anything, but will absorb vast amounts of intellectual energy from people who might otherwise devote themselves to strenously demanding that justice be done.  Once there's an actual shift in policy so that this can happen, then it's indeed sensible to parse some of these finer distinctions.  But at this point in time it is nothing but another means of delay, delay, delay.

I don't for a moment think this is your intention.  But I know from long past experience that it will inevitably be the result.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
i see your point, but I still find the tone of the post disagreeable (0.00 / 0)
i'm just saying that posing an angry pro-palestinian viewpoint to combat (the mainstream) angry pro-zionist standpoint gets less and less necessary, if it's at all useful in a space like this, as the nakedness of the brutality becomes more and more evident to more and more people (it wasn't for me until I had my eyes opened a few years ago).  So it might be time to actually articulate what we mean (indnividually or collectively) by justice.  

Does it mean the end of israel and the emigration of Israelies?  Does it mean the right of return?  Does it mean two states, roughly equal?  Does it mean a pluralistic democracy in one state encompassing the two (constructed) peoples?

But you could be right - most of the time, you don't get conversations in the U.S. that aren't premised on zionism, as far as I can tell.  So like I said, I do appreciate this.

[ Parent ]
You really want to be shergeld's goto blog? (0.00 / 0)
Rebalancing is one thing.  Substituting one questionable narrative for another is another.

I'm spending more time on Calitics these days. It's useful. This is not.  You have issues with the Jewish community, great.  But if that's what OpenLeft wants to do, then frankly,  I can go to My Left Wing or similar.

[ Parent ]
As long as we are using the "Way-Back" Machine... (4.00 / 2)
...for a hundred years of history in Palestine, lets go Back in America to 1620.

...British Colonists arrive in an "uninhabited" land on the Mayflower and found a colony.

...Some years go by and more and more colonists arrive and eventually become the "Americans" that you contrast in your explanation of how the citizens of America would react to the creation of a Zionist state inside "our" borders.

...Hello!  This land was not uninhabited.  The colonist who persisted and created the "Greatest Nation on Earth" displaced the aboriginal Native Americans who once resided here.

...Nary a peace treaty was kept and the near Genocide of original North American continent humans still haunts our slave-holding, nation building history.

...One can go back 100 years, 400 years, or a thousand.  The human and political occupation of land changes and adapts.  There is no time it is not "messy".

...I find your essay simplistic at best.

Due To Your Lack Of Discussion of Mammalian Evolution (4.00 / 3)
...I find your comment simplistic at best.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Does this imply? (4.00 / 1)
I took from the previous comment that because we (European Americans) built the Greatest Nation on Earth, that the genocide of the Native American was justified.

Was that the implication and if so go back to the beginning of the post and look at how Americans see themselves as having a different standard for behavior than we give the rest of the world.

If not then my apologies but that is how it sounded to me

If not though we especially should be cautious of this ethnic cleansing for to allow it to happen at the hands of our friend and ally with our weapons implicates us once more.  Have we learned nothing?

[ Parent ]
This Implies (4.00 / 1)
that I've heard this sort of obfuscation countless times before.

See sarany's comment below.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
What a blow was there given! (0.00 / 0)
Another on-point response from Rosenberg...  

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Strangely enough, Americans found South African apartheid incredibly simple. (4.00 / 4)
Although the Reagan government supported the South African Afrikaaner regime, the American street rose up against the inequities and oppression suffered by Black South Africans. The call went and other nations responded with boycotts and economic pain, which brought down Apartheid peacefully.

That political situation was not hard to understand historically or in its Apartheid consequences. Nor is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict mind boggling. It is really simple if one can appreciate modern post-1964 liberal thinking.

[ Parent ]
1964? (0.00 / 0)
What happened in 1964?

[ Parent ]
Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act the following year. (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
I don't think (4.00 / 10)
the diarist is proposing we are squeaky clean in our treatment of Native Americans, merely that we would object, and fight back, if something like zionism happened here now.

I think the essay is helpful in that Israel is essentially a well-armed aggressor, with us, another well-armed aggressor who takes their side, and the root causes of the Palestinians' ill feeling are due to being overpowered and bullied.

Is it as simple as the diarist presents?  Probably not.  Does is help find a solution? I don't know.

But I do know this:  what Israel is doing right now in Gaza has got to be causing incredible hate.  If I lived there, or had relatives there, or were a Muslim, I would feel rage about this. If all I've got is a rock, I'd throw it as hard as I could.

Maybe, just maybe, if Americans demanded better and reasonable behavior on Israel's part, then Arab nations and Muslims worldwide wouldn't hate us quite as much.

[ Parent ]
I suppose (4.00 / 1)
all those rockets that killed all those children in southern Israel these past few months (hell, for years) hasn't caused any hate at all. No, because the Jews are supposed to take it and not fight back. Historically speaking, that is.

Obviously, the situation in Israel/Palestine is MUCH more complicate than the propagandist quoted in the original diary wants us to believe. And of course the scenario developed in which European Jews decide to settle the U.S. instead of Israel isn't in any way comparable. For the simple reason that the U.S. is not the Jewish peoples' ancestral homeland. Yes, Palestine is also the Palestinian peoples' homeland, in a sense (depends on whom you read on that score) and you can argue who was there first. But when the world was deciding where to send the remnant survivors of the Holocaust, when no one in Europe wanted them, Israel was a fairly obvious choice. And the Arab-speaking people living there at the time had little say precisely because they had just lost the war (most Arab leaders supported Hitler).


[ Parent ]
Just who is the propagandist here? (4.00 / 4)
Arguing that Jews have an ancestral homeland, but that Palestinians don't is preposterous. "In a sense" is just not exactly an equivalency, which is just to say: no one has the right to return to lands once left thousands of years ago and come back and displace people living their with ownership for a thousand years.

And this: "And the Arab-speaking people living there at the time had little say precisely because they had just lost the war (most Arab leaders supported Hitler)."

Just what war had the Palestinians lost by 1948? Before and during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, two thirds of the Palestinian population had been ethnically cleansed via the Zionist Plan Dalet, which was enacted two months before Israeli independence.

"Most Arab leaders supported Hitler"? Please provide a link to this statement. The only thing heard of concerned the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Heisani. He was exiled by the British in 1937 and eventually met with Hitler and subsequently created a company of Arab soldiers, whose main function was marching in parades. They never fought.

What else can you provide?

At least Lawrence of Cyberia documents her historical references with facts.

[ Parent ]
Ancestral homelands do not matter (4.00 / 4)
Exactly where my backward and bloodthirsty ancestors lived between two and three thousand years ago matters very little to me and certainly shouldn't decide my nationality. I don't see that it should make a difference just because you identify as Jewish.

The Jews had as much right to go to Palestine as anywhere else. I'm not even saying that it was a bad place to establish a state - the problem is that creating a new state ex nihilo is always going to be a rocky business and the locals are unlikely to ever respond well.

But please, can we leave "ancestral homelands" out of it? Especially because the account of the taking of this ancestral homeland found in the Bible is basically a story of genocide. This is an immigration problem, not a problem about who owns which Urheimat.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
yes this is a verh good point (0.00 / 0)
suppose i was to create a religion and say that my ancestral homeland was in africa (which it is if you genetically go back far enough).  and suppose large numbers of people in my religion started claiming pieces of africa and moving there and displacing the populationsn that existed at the time, built a state, fought wars, and created an apartheid state which defined our state as mainly for the members of our religion.

That wouldn't be acceptable at all.  But this is for some reason.

That said, now we are here - so how do we get out?  Personally, I think that Israel neneds to stop characterizing itself as a jewish state and simply be a state.  If it is going to characterize itself as a jewish state, it needs to give an extraordinarily fair deal to the palestinians and acknowledge that what had happened and has happened under british hegemony and then american support and with israeli state involvement has been very very very wrong.

[ Parent ]
Wars Cause Ethnic Relocations (4.00 / 3)
     Yes, try to imagine Europeans coming to take over America! I'm sure Native Americans will have an especially difficult time visualizing such a prospect.
    I can understand that Israel's recent actions have caused great opposition in many quarters, but such a facile dismissal of the entire idea of Zionism is breathtaking. I'm especially impressed that anyone could get through a discussion of the development of Israel without mentioning either of the World Wars.
    Palestine at the end of World War One was held by the collapsing Ottoman Empire. It is frequently the case at the end of great wars that political control over a region passes from the old government, which lost the war, to the victor. It happened to the French in North America in 1763. It happened to Alsace-Lorraine in 1871 and again in 1918; it happened to eastern Germany at the end of World War Two. And the British had already, in the Balfour Declaration, made it part of their war aims to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Great wars have great consequences, and this was one of them.
    The situation in which a European-based majority dispossesses a non-European indigenous group and takes their land is hardly unique to Israel. All of the Americas and Australia have experienced a similar takeover. Is there a reason why the disposession of the Palestinians from their lands is a greater injustice than that of the aboriginal Australians or Native Americans?
    Israel isn't going away. The people of Palestine can rage against that reality, sacrificing their children and their future in futile opposition, or they can do as the Native Americans did, and realize that while they occupy the moral high ground, they cannot succeed in vindicating their rights by force of arms.  

The Native Americans did not (3.71 / 14)
"realize" anything. We simply killed enough of them that their resistance made no difference. It was genocide.

Is that what you are proposing is the solution today?

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Genocide (4.00 / 1)
     Yes, that's what I'm proposing. Genocide. There! You tricked me into saying it with your relentless logic!

[ Parent ]
Well (4.00 / 4)
what your whole comment boiled down to was, "we'll just keep killing them until they learn to quit fighting back, like the Indians."

Most people call that genocide.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
No it's not (4.00 / 2)
There is a NOW and there was a Then.  We have to deal with now.....We have to deal with 2 people who occupy land who need to find peace.  

I am quoting someone else. We have to choose between justice and peace.  There is too much lingering on historical anger (on both sides and both sides as well have some moral imperatives on their side) Going after some definition of justice  whether by your definition, the Palestinian defintion or the Jewish, Israeli one will not bring PEACE.

And implying he was saying that the Palestians should be eleiminated by genocide would be a low blow. That was not what his comment meant.  His comment about acknowledging the history of Zionism was that Zionism provided an escape for Jews from centuries of European persecution and massacre and yes, eventually genocide.  He meant to say that one could make a moral case for Israelis.  But whether one can or can not,  that does not recognize that there are 2 parties who desperately need to find a way to make peace.  Accusations of genocidal intent doesn't help create that.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Are YOU helping the two parties in question, do you suppose? (4.00 / 4)

Accusations of genocidal intent doesn't (sic) help create that.

Even if they're true? Look closely, and you'll see that genocide is in fact the only destination possible if we and the Israelis keep steering our present course. How does keeping silent about that help us find peace?

[ Parent ]
Sad to say that is what she said. (4.00 / 1)
what your whole comment boiled down to was, "we'll just keep killing them until they learn to quit fighting back, like the Indians."

Most people call that genocide.

I like Sadie Baker, but this quote is just a perfect example that shows why such simple minded "explanations", such as this diary, lead to thinking that only inflames. One's thought patterns are forced down everbranching and narrowing pathway.  

We have to welcome and accept complexity to make any headway to some solutions that don't involve killing and repressing and hating.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
If thine eye offends thee (4.00 / 3)
What Sadie Baker said, was, in my opinion, an accurate paraphrase of the comment she was replying to.

Just today, on the BBC World Service, I heard a retired Israeli general say This, meaning the bombing of Gaza, is all what they understand.

I'm an American. I've heard this before, and I know what it means. Submit or die is not genocide, you say. No, I say, not yet. I'm sorry you have to come here and hear this, but putting your fingers in your ears won't alter what's coming.

[ Parent ]
The Israeli genral was not talking about genocide (0.00 / 0)
He was talking about violence.   ( I am not agreeing with his statement  let me make clear) He was saying the Palestinians only understand violence.  Violence is the only thing that he thinks will influence them.  Words or diplomacy he implies will not influence them.

Violence is violence, it is not genocide.

Bombing civilians is immoral but that doesn't mean the violence is meant to eliminate all Palestinians.  Elimination of all of a partuclar population is genocide, the Israelis don't intend to do that.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
But Genocide Is Where This Leads (4.00 / 5)
And much sooner than you might realize.  Indeed, genocide doesn't necessarily mean the killing of an entire people. It means the killing of a culture.  The people can still live, but if their culture is destoyed, that, too, is genocide.  And this is clearly happening to the Palestinian people.

Shouldn't we stop and worry about this now?  If we wait until it actually is full-fledged genocide, then won't it be far too late to stop it?

How can we even take baby steps in that direction?

There are good reasons that many, many thousands of Israelis have refused to serve in various different military actions that they have found morally repugnant. They are the true spirit of Israel.  They are what will redeem a nation that has lost its way. They are what still gives me hope for us as a people.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I disagree with you on genocide, that is neither the intention or even the outcome (0.00 / 0)
But to stop this we must have peace....not blame.  

Untangling the right, just things is never going to be accomplished....It can not be....Who hurt whom first will never be agreed upon by either party.  Whose claims are most just are also never going to be agreed upon.  These get us nowhere.

You want to save the Palestinians and their culture...so do I....as a Jew with lots of family in Israel, I want to save them as well....that is the only viable solution...then give up saying "It's your fault" or "I told you so"  focus on stopping the violence.....And acknowledge that there are bad actors on both sides.  Likud and the influence they have had on Israeli politics, even  Labor (like the the way right way ideology had infected Democratic politiicans ever since Reagan) are harmful to the process.  Hamas are not the good guys....it's like making the distinctions between the American people and its government...Nixon was evil, not the country. We have a much worse hand to plan than Rabin and Oslo did...but blame isn't going to make the hand better.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
A "remnant" indeed. (4.00 / 1)
But hey, according to the Good Book that's all it takes.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
This is what he said: (4.00 / 1)
"The people of Palestine can rage against that reality, sacrificing their children and their future in futile opposition, or they can do as the Native Americans did, and realize that while they occupy the moral high ground, they cannot succeed in vindicating their rights by force of arms."

I'm not implying anything, those are his own words. Palestinians need to surrender, or else . . .

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Sadie, facing reality is not surrender (0.00 / 0)
Facing reality could be enpowering.  Dealing with what are the facts on the ground is a beginning path to peace, 2 states, both with their own autonomy.

That outcome is not surrender.  He is right that violence will not get them what they need. It will only prolong their own powerlelssness.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Then we disagree. (4.00 / 2)
He compared Palestinians to Native Americans, and urged them to "face reality" in the same way. By that he means quit fighting back.

But it's not even accurate, the Native Americans did not quit fighting, they were very brave, and fought long after there was any hope of victory. Did this "prolong their helplessness?" I don't think so. I don't think there would be any Native Americans alive today to speak of if they hadn't fought back.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Civil Discourse (0.00 / 0)
     I'm sorry. This is one of my favorite sites. I post here fairly often, and sometimes I forget that some of the people who read it are incapable of comprehending what they read.
    I ask whether any fair-minded person would agree that what my "whole comment boiled down to was, "we'll just keep killing them until they learn to quit fighting back, like the Indians."
    I don't know who "we" is here. I am not an Israeli, nor a Jew. I do try to learn something from history, and it seems to me that two of its most obvious lessons are that wars sometimes result in ethnic dislocations, and those who are dislocated, if sufficiently powerless, are better off getting out of the way of the conquerors than waging futile warfare decade after decade, taking far more casualties than they inflict.
    Apparently that makes me a supporter of genocide in the eyes of Sadie Baker. I'm afraid that's a price that I, and anyone else who expresses an opinion on this subject not in agreement with that of Ms. Baker, or those who think like her, is required to pay in order to comment at Open Left.

[ Parent ]
Open Left is a progressive website (4.00 / 4)
You are expressing what is  essentially a core conservative (authoritarian) outlook on the world - the strong take the weak and the weak are "better off" getting out of the way.

Assuming you are a progressive, what do you recommend should be the progressive response to this situation? What do your progressive values and instincts tell you is the best US policy here?

Advising afflicted powerless people that they are "better off" to get out of the way is going to require a lot of cognitive dissonance about our values - so much in fact that it would be self-negating.

[ Parent ]
He is not saying the Palestininans should leave their country and their home (0.00 / 0)
He is saying that violence is not the path to peace or autonomy. Unlike other conflicts, like when the British could leave all their colonies, in this case the parties to the conflict physically live together.  The only way to end violence is to end it.  Blame does not lead to peace.

As I said to Sadie Baker, facing reality, the facts on the ground,  could be enpowering.  It is more likely to lead to some peaceful resolution than imputing genocide...to one party or the other.  

The progressive response should be to work real hard to have a peaceful resolution.  To understand that blame is not one sided. The intentions of the most extreme on both sides could be characterized as genocidal....Meir Kahane wanted to move all Arabs out of his definition of Israel.  Hamas's ideology is to say there shoud be no Jews in their definition of Palestine (which includes present Israel).  

Blame is not productive.  And the progressive response should always aim to be productive of a good outocme which should eventually lead to a peace that protects both peoples.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 2)
Blame is not productive.

Agreed. If Israelis and Palestinians want to set up a Truth Commission someday where individuals want to come speak of their blame, flaws, sins and crimes, that's on them - not me. My role is as a citizen of a country that enables the bleeding to continue, and what I can do to stop it.

And the progressive response should always aim to be productive of a good outocme which should eventually lead to a peace that protects both peoples.

We are in complete agreement.

[ Parent ]
You're missing something... (0.00 / 0)
Though I'm not disputing that White Europeans killed a lot of Native Americans, what really killed most of them off was disease, and that part, as far as I know was unintentional (unless you can prove me wrong).  

[ Parent ]
Oops, I Did It Again! (0.00 / 0)
Ah, the Brittney Spears defense!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
*facepalm* (4.00 / 1)
You're missing the point!

I wasn't absolving the white Europeans of anything. I was just pointing out that this was more like "crimininally negligent genocide" or the genocidal equivalent of Manslaughter than Murder (albeit murder was done).

Instead, you sounded like a jackass.

[ Parent ]
Just Sayin' (4.00 / 2)
That difference is not much comfort to the dead.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Got your proof (4.00 / 1)
"The destruction of the Indians of the Americas was, far and away, the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world."

Columbus, De Soto, Cortez, John Smith, Coronado, all left masses of corpses behind them. There was not a single Spanish explorer who did not respond to encounters with the native populations in the Americas by immediately enslaving them and working them to death. As Tony Horwitz reveals, whole swaths of the southeastern northern continent were thrown into a Dark Ages due the blood thirsty marauding of Spanish soldiers. The "what really killed most of them off was disease" argument is revisionist myth.  

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
The Palestinian resistance (0.00 / 0)
also makes no difference. Strategically at least. All it does is kill young Palestinians. Israeli actions against Hamas are more of the nature of exceptionally violent policing. That's about the level of threat there is to Jewish Israel's survival. I believe that was the poster's point.

[ Parent ]
The rate of killing of civilians by Israel was 50 times greater since the US-Israel-Fatah conspiracy to remove Hamas leadership in Gaza. (4.00 / 4)
Ever hear of state terrorism: the intentional killing of civilians by a government? Try looking up Gaza.

Jewish Israel's survival? 20% of Israelis are Palestinians, to begin with. But the notion of Israel worrying about its survival, having the world's fourth largest American supplied military force against bands of militants and a civilian population, seems little more by a variation of Israel's latest propaganda meme, "the right to exist." Pretty rediculous.  

[ Parent ]
Indeed..... (4.00 / 6)
But most of us who are familiar with the details contend that it is Israel who is today inflicting the injustices that the Palestinian people have absorbed since 1948.

We have heard before these rationales for the ethnic cleansing of 1948, and the continuing ethnic cleansing that restarted after 1967, and Israel and its supporters like yourself expect decent Americans and decent Israelis to accept it. Apparently, the world has changed, and Israel is now immersed in that change. Unlike the various populations deprived of their human rights, Israel is now and has been undertaking a project that would necessarily require the disappearance of the Palestinian people. As events today attest to, the Palestinians have not gone away, and it is unlikely that they will ever go away. This was eventually recognized by the Olmert administration, and even the Bush administration who proposed a belated two state solution.

It is sorrowful perhaps that this conflict did not occur in the 18th or 19th century, but as it is a modern conflict in a changed world, it will not hold. Israel's attempt to attain the Greater Israel by colonizing the remaining 22% of the Palestine, the Palestinian territories, will just not work to Israel's advantage. A fair and just solution is the only solution that will permit Israel to live for the next thousand years in peace.  

[ Parent ]
That is not true (0.00 / 0)
Israel is now and has been undertaking a project that would necessarily require the disappearance of the Palestinian people

It is false.....look I think Israel's actions are wrong, and have thought so for decades,  but there is and there has not been any genocidal intent.  The Israelis are not trying to either kill or remove in some other fashion ALL of the Palestinians. Making such statements undermines the credibilty of anything else you might have to say.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Disappeance did not imply genocide. (4.00 / 5)
There are other ways Israeli politicians have been working to "get rid of" Palestinians.

Livni, the Kadima candidate, recently proposed the removal of Israeli Arabs (Palestinians) from Israel proper, presumably to achieve the pure Jewish (and democratic?) state. Earlier, Avigdor Lieberman, proposed the "transfer" of Israel's Arab citizens, and 40% of Israelis agree to this proposal. In fact, Henry Kissinger, speaking in Israeli in 2005, proposed removing the Israeli Palestinians into enclaves, essentially, bantustans, to achieve the same thing. The West Bank and East Jerusalem are being slowly colonized with settlements, a euphemism for Jewish only villages, towns, and virtual cities in the Palestinian territories. Every year it is reported that due to harassment and the lack of ability to support their families, 100,000 of the 2.8 million Palestinians living in the territories emigrate to other countries. It is only through the high Palestinian birth rate that the population does not diminish.

I could go on. But I hope that you now get the idea.

[ Parent ]
Have you read benny morris? (4.00 / 4)
Benny Morris on the necessity of Ethnic Cleansing!

Are you saying that Ben-Gurion was personally responsible for a deliberate and systematic policy of mass expulsion?

"From April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created."

Ben-Gurion was a "transferist"?

"Of course. Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist."

I don't hear you condemning him.

"Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here."

My blog  

[ Parent ]
I'm pretty sure there's a difference in the relative power of the Palestinians and Native Americans. (4.00 / 9)
As another commenter pointed out, the Native Americans in the present "accept" non-Native domination of America because they find themselves reduced in numbers to 1% of the population.  That reduction was accomplished though disease, warfare, and genocide, and was accomplished mostly in the 17 and 1800s.

The Palestinians wake up this morning and find themselves to be nearly 50% of the population of Israel-Palestine, and growing.  Their numbers give them a massive amount of power, and they and the leadership of Israel know it.  Furthermore, the techniques of reducing a population's numbers that worked in prior centuries will not work here.  Short of another massive war, genocide, or cleansing, the Palestinians will remain 40-60% of the population of Greater Palestine.

So why exactly should they "accept" the total domination of their country by others?  Do you think Native Americans would accept a status quo like ours, with scraps of reservations on the worst land, if they were 50% of the population of the United States?  The idea is self-evidently ludicrous.  If Native Americans were 40-60% of the population here, and the non-Native population insisted on having an ethnically defined state, then you can imagine the political outcomes we would be choosing from, and silent acceptance of total domination by others would not be one of them.

And finally, the difference between Israel and America+Australia is that only one of them is attempting to cleanse its territory in the present.  Norms have changed.  You don't get to commit genocide on the main stage of history anymore.  Surely you agree that's a good thing.

[ Parent ]
Very good comparison, and excellent last point (0.00 / 0)
There are still large indigenous populations throughout Latin America, and in a number of countries indigenous peoples have formed strong political movements to assert their rights against social/economic/political systems controlled traditionally by descendants of Europeans -- Mexico and Bolivia come to mind, though I'm anything but an expert about Latin American politics.

[ Parent ]
Are you really claiming (0.00 / 0)
that Israel today is conducting genocide? That's an awfully loaded word, and you should be prepared to defend it before throwing it around.

[ Parent ]
Many Israelis advocate "transfer" (0.00 / 0)
and it has been a transfer in practice even if Israeli politicians won't acknowledge it openly.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Ethnic cleansing would actually be the correct term. (4.00 / 1)
Since they don't care if or where the Palestinians live, as long as it's not in Palestine.

And it's not even precisely ethnic cleansing, because the Israelis don't seem to mind if a few Palestinians remain in Palestine.  It's more like violent demography.  The maintenance of demographic superiority though economic, political, and physical warfare.

[ Parent ]
what gives you leave to make such a statement? (0.00 / 0)
only one of them is attempting to cleanse its territory in the present

Hyoerbole is dangerous.  I agree with you about the changing power balance...and it is another reason why there should be peace.  But there has to be a change in intentions on both sides.  Israel is not going to be strong enough to keep the Palestinians penned up, but in order to have peace, Hamas has to accept the reality on the ground....which is that the Israelis are there and they are going to be eliminated either.

We need peace and I'm sorry such a simple minded explanation like we're all dunderheads doesn't lay any understanding of peace.  All it does it create anger.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Native Americans are full citizens of (4.00 / 2)
of the United States today, and they really didn't end their aggression against us until they were.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
"I can understand that Israel's recent actions have caused great opposition in many quarters, but such a facile dismissal of the entire idea of Zionism is breathtaking" (4.00 / 2)
Zionism is not acceptable.  The idea that a people defined by their shared identity have the right to land that others are occupying is violent and leads to very little that's good for the public at large.  That doesn't mean that jewish people weren't the victims of enormous anti-semitism in Europe and elsewhere for hundreds if not thousands of years - it just means that the solution to that is not to take it out on another people who have very little to do with it because you've decided that your book says you're entitled to the land.  It's very similar to manifest destiny, greater serbia, and other forms of nationalist arguments.

I think if we were a little more clear on the difference between "Jewish" (a religious/ethno category) "Israeli" (a citizenship category tied to a state) "Zionist" (an ideological category), it would help move forward the conversation.

[ Parent ]
Historical Implacabilities (4.00 / 9)
To the Jews of my father's and grandfather's generation, it was still possible to argue that Zionism was not a good idea, and many of them argued exactly that. After the Holocaust, that argument became difficult; after 1948, more difficult still. After 1967, it became impossible.

If one argues that the U.N. Mandate which established the Jewish State is what gives Israel the right to exist, one has to ask what gave the U.N. the right to issue that mandate in the face of overwhelming opposition from the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine. If one argues that Israel exists by right of conquest, one has to point out that the Palestinians do not accept that so-called conquest as final. Rockets today, who knows what tomorrow?

The question for Jews, for Jews in the diaspora as well as those in Israel, is what favors of history a Jew can still ask, and actually expect to be fulfilled. The question for non-Jewish Americans is simpler. Is our complicity in this masquerade worth what we've already paid for it, let alone what we'll be asked to pay for it in the future?

The Big Point I'd Stress (4.00 / 7)
Is that the US & its European allies basically decided to salve their guilty consciences over failing to stop the Holocaust--or even allow significant numbers of Jews to escape--by shifting the repayment cost to the Palestinians, who had as close to utterly clean hands as anyone on the face of the earth.

The fact that this also was a terrible deal for the Jews as well was yet another mere minor detail, like the Jews that couldn't be helped to escape from Hitler's Germany.

Of course the Jewish leadership that cut this deal (and their successors) would never sanction this view.  But being a loudmouth people, others, particularly in Israel, have made this point repeatedly in the past.  Yet, it still rather easily gets left out of the mix, when it should be fundamental.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I agree (0.00 / 0)
I agree with this, but its quite different from the tone of the original post.

[ Parent ]
Clean hands? (0.00 / 0)
Read some history dude! Most of the Arab leaders in the Middle East, including Palestinian, supported Hitler.

[ Parent ]
they were dominated by the British (4.00 / 2)
it was "enemy of my enemy is my friend" thinking.  Also you realize zionism was actually in works by 1919 so they knew a jewish state wouldn't include them.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Ah, Sweet Reason (4.00 / 4)
As I recall, the IRA also supported Hitler, and for similar reasons. Would you be offering to smite the Irish with Gideon's sword as well, then?

[ Parent ]
Links please, to original historical sources, references. (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Evidence (4.00 / 1)
There was the Mufti of Jerusalem, but evidence of him having any pull over his flock is limited - he was in exile for most of the war.

You might also consider the offered support of Lehi (aka the Stern Gang) for Nazi Germany. They, like the Arab politicians who supported Hitler, like the Indian National Army that fought alongside the Japanese (and was probably more important than Gandhi in causing Indian independence), operated in an anti-colonial framework. Some, but not all, of these people also like Hitler's authoritarianism and his cultural chauvinism. But these kinds of wild accusations just won't fly as you've formulated them.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
So what do you propose we do to beginj to get peace? (0.00 / 0)
It happened.  It's done.  There is no time machine to undo it.  And as Captain Kirk learned in that episode they went back to the twenties may you don't want to undo it...becasue there are even worse possibilities.

We have to deal with now.  

We need a ceasefire and we need better leadership on both sides....and the new administration has to pressure them both to put down their weapons, though I will admit they are of unequal size at the moment....but the malice on both sides is pretty equal.

This George Bush, unlike his father, was like a permissive father who let his kids run wild.  Prior administrations had put pressure on both sides for peace.  This Bush abandoned that approach.  And has made that so much the conventional wisdom that undoing it will be hard. But behind the scenes someone better start pressuring Israel and Hamas to stop.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
I think we should attach some strings to that, (4.00 / 4)
what is it, $2.5 billion in aid we give Israel each year? Freeze the settlements or the money stops.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Sadie, if you see this (0.00 / 0)
I think lots of pressure has to be brought to bear...most of it behind the scenes so as to let sleeping dogs lie...like ZOA etal, the Zionist Organization of america.

You need to pressure, but it has to be realistic...things you actually have control over.  Bush senior and SoS Baker,  tried such a direct quid pro quo in the early 90's. about settlements and arms.  It blew up in their face.

But remember...it's not a one way street.  Hamas has to be pressured to give something up too...like throwing scores of rockets a day at populated Israel.  Now this pressure on them has to be both carrot and stick... the blockade gets lifted, humanitarian aid...and some very limited acknowledgement that they realize Israel and Israelis are not going away...whether it's accomplished by magic or militarily.

The days since you wrote this has just deteriorated into a nightmare.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Great post (0.00 / 0)
Great post; the analogy is spot-on. Imagine the bloodshed that would've been spared had the 1948 lines been adhered to.

Join the fight to give students a real voice on campus: Forstudentpower.org.

Not certain what lines you are speaking of. (4.00 / 5)
In 1948, the Zionists implemented Plan Dalet, the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Eventually, starting two months before the UN granted Israel independence, the forceful ejection of Palestinians by Zionist militia from over 470 villages and towns began. It was continued by the Haganah turned IDF until two months after independence. Two thirds of the Palestinian population, 800,000 were ethnically cleansed. Most, 711,000, entered refugee camps in surrounding Arab states and in the Palestinian territories, where they and their ancestors live today supported by UNWRA, the UN agency instituted in 1948 to care for them. Six months after the independence declaration, the UN passed Resolution 194, the right of return of these refugees to their homes. Israel would not allow it and it began Israel's claim that the UN was anti-Semitic if not anti-Israel.

As for the preceding UN partition that the Palestinians would not accept, if that is what you are referring to, it was evident long before its proposal that Palestinians, living in their own villages, in their own houses, and on their own lands, would not agree to leave in order to create a Jewish state. There were over 400,000 such Palestinians caught in the Jewish sectors. The Jewish population in Palestine at the time was only 550,000.

Were these Palestinians expected to leave their homes and enter refugee camps for the sake of the UN and the Zionist project? Not likely, and it is only arrogance that would contend that they should have. No reasonable person would have.  

[ Parent ]
Minutemen Are Go! (0.00 / 0)
The analogy sounds a lot like Tom Tancredo's views on immigration...

...Adding, unlike the U.S., Palestine was not a multi-century nation/state with a national political/legal/cultural identity, which further strains the analogy. This is not to excuse the usurping of property/legal/voting rights etc., which are part of the complex history of this conflict -- only to say that simple, easy analogies are, well, rather simple...

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

No? (4.00 / 1)
This is not to excuse the usurping of property/legal/voting rights etc., which are part of the complex history of this conflict...

Then what other purpose does it serve, exactly? Other than to condemn a simple analogy without adequate grounds....

[ Parent ]
Huh? (0.00 / 0)
So if I say one thing about "A" is not like "B," then I must be excusing/defending everything in "B." Perhaps you can explain why you think pointing out this difference must be a purposeful defense of those things.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

[ Parent ]
It is all water under the bridge (4.00 / 2)
While the essay does highlight the roots of the conflict, it doesn't suggest any solutions.

If firing rockets into population centers or using billions of dollars of high tech military weapons to pulverize the "enemy" makes you feel good then I'll stick with beer.

The solutions that have been agreed upon in the past all have reduced Israel's size and power over the area they claim.

Until they accept such a settlement there will be no piece until everyone is dead or out of ammo.

Not to mention, (4.00 / 4)
what kind of patrimony is it they are leaving for their children? The keys to the world's largest prison is no kind of inheritance.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Actually (0.00 / 0)
Israel proper doesn't feel like a prison at all. It's quite a lovely Mediterranean country with a thriving economy and most times feels quite relaxed. Unless you happen to be within rocket range of Gaza, however.

[ Parent ]
I was thinking of the occupied areas. (4.00 / 1)
"The guard is prisoner to the prisoner" and all that.

It's like, happy birthday son, you're twenty ones years old, here's a keg of dynamite for you. It's the same one my grandfather gave me and, oh yes, the fuse has already been lit.

Good Luck!

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
freeze the settlements in return for a (4.00 / 1)
cease fire, and start negotiations for two states.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Some flaws here (4.00 / 2)
First, a more apt comparison--made all the more so by the fact that it actually DID happen, and isn't a hypothetical "what if"--would be to the European settling, colonization and complete takeover of the land that comprises the present USA (along with the rest of the Americas, of course), that was previously populated and occupied by non-European indigenous peoples, and who were gradually "cleansed" from their ancestral lands, and shoved onto reservations located in some of the most undesirable land available.

One problem with this comparison, though, is that it obliges anyone who disputes the accuracy and legitimacy of certain pro-Zionist views of how Jews came to "resettle" Palestine to do the same with our own country's founding myths and realities. To reject the legitimacy of the original Zionists' claims to Palestine, and thus the founding of the state of Israel, is to reject the legitimacy of the original European settlers' claims to the Americas, and thus the founding of all its modern states, including the USA. The fact that this happened longer ago is, from a purely argumentative point of view, irrelevant.

Which it always amuses me to realize that many of the same people who reject Israel's moral legitimacy in terms of its founding ideas and actions are essentially rejecting the legitimacy of their own present country and citizenship. It was no more our (literal or national) ancestors' right to settle in, occupy, steal and co-opt the land that comprises the USA than it was for Zionists to do the same in Palestine. Even less so, in fact, given that, unlike Europeans, Zionists (at least Jewish ones) could make some claim, at least socially and culturally, to the land that they were settling (totally apart from, of course, the inherent unfairness of kicking someone off THEIR ancestral land in order to do so, or allowing them to stay but making them a second-class citizen--although, of course, until very recently the US WAS very much like modern Israel in having a legalized form of second-class citizenship, i.e. Jim Crow).

Also, while Arabs clearly compromised the overwhelming majority of people living in Palestine when the first Zionists arrived, Jews were the majority in at least one major city, Jerusalem at the time. And one of the reasons that they were so vastly outnumbered in the area as a whole (I call it area because it was not a country at the time--there was never a country called "Palestine"--which I imagine was much more due to Ottoman policy than a lack of a Palestinian liberation movement) was because they themselves were forcibly expelled from it centuries prior, and had not the financial or legal means to return to it en masse until the late 19th century. Plus, while there was certainly much forced expulsion in later years, especially from 1947 onward, Jews who initially settled in Palestine did so on purchased land, quite legally (although, I suppose, some of these land deals were probably not 100% kosher, being made with rich Turkish or Arab landowners who did not represent the people living on them, who were essentially sharecroppers).

So why go to the trouble of constructing a hypothetical partial analogy when a far more accurate one already exists--and most of us here are currently living in and citizens of it? To condemn Israel and Zionism on such lines is to condemn the US and Americanism, and to deny the obviousiousness of this is simply delusional.

I am not, in case it's not obvious, trying to defend many of the various henious ideas and actions believed in and undertaken by the original Zionists and by modern Israel and some Israelis. I am merely trying to point out that it's not quite as cut and dry as this diary makes it out to be, for the reasons that I've outlined, and for many others. And I haven't even mentioned the vast expulsions that took place within many Arab countries when Israel was founded in 1948, of its Jewish population, many of whom could trace ancestors back for centuries if not millenia. Israel, Israelis, Zionism and Zionists aren't the only bad players here, and they're not 100% bad, either. But if it's easier to place most of the blame on one side...

Sorry, I'm just not into oversimplification, be it via Zionist myths, or anti-Israel ones.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

With respect, Kovie. (4.00 / 2)
Your analogies are less exact, and considerably more defensive, than the one you argue against. Whatever solution you believe to be in the offing, if it's to be permanent, it must involve more than the smug temporizing of successive Israeli governments, which have believed, and still do believe that divide and conquer, followed by a smack in the chops, will give them another 20 years, and another 20 years, and another 20 years. If searching in the annals of justice provides no guidance, trying looking at birthrates.

Time is running out....

[ Parent ]
Missing The Point (4.00 / 8)
If everything's connected, then nothing is ever simple.  And it's true.

But there's also a "for practical purposes" caveat, which is extremely useful when people have been tying themselves in knots for two, three... six, seven decades.

The fact that European-bred herrenvolk democracies no longer pass the smell test is indeed a good thing.  And that does mean that we need to consider a wide range of possible redresses for many different peoples.  But that doesn't mean would should be petrified unless and until we've made everything right.

This piece does not address, is not intended to address America's moral turpitude as a herrenvolk democracy founded on genocide.  If you want to start there, then I think the only possible conclusion I can see is that we have no right to tell anyone anything, or to support anyone else in doing anything.  End of story.

It takes a different starting point, and for a different purpose: trying to imagine, clearly, what another people, marginalized from our consideration, perceive as their fundamental existential predicament.

I'm not claiming that there are no other claims or considerations that can be raised.   Indeed, other claims and considerations can be raised until the end of time.  So what? What is the point?  Merely to wear down the Palestinians even more?  So it would seem.  Justice delayed, and all that.

Such arguments might have flown at one time.  But for generation, after generation, after generation?  After settler encampment, after settler encampment, after settler encampment?  No.  Whatever Talmudic arguments once might have seemed just have been totally undermined by countless acts of bad faith.  Is there bad faith on the other side? Sure! Bad faith breeds bad faith.  Does that excuse us?

No. Of course not.

Time to be a mensch, and put an end to this endless humiliation of our once-proud traditions.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Fair is fair (0.00 / 0)
Why are you insisting we (you and I both appear to be Jewish) take this one for the team, so to speak, when not only is our existence as Americans built on (I would argue) far worse humiliations and oppressions, both of Native and African Americans, but the very fact that Jews were not more populous in what is now Israel in the late 19th century (in many ways the basis for your argument) is itself due to forced, violent expulsions earlier in history? So it's our responsibility to end the cycle at this particular moment, because your conscience can't take it anymore? That to me is just the a particular form of old Jewish shtetl suffering mentality. The more you suffer, the better, because we're not worth it. It's an internlization of centuries of abuse of Jewish people.


[ Parent ]
because the Indians are citizens of the (4.00 / 2)
United States now, and because what is happening to the Palestinians is happening now, not 150 years ago.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Their being made citizens (4.00 / 1)
doesn't even begin to make up for what was done, and what is still being done, to them. You never really stop having been dispossessed of your land, pride, identity and ancestors, you know. And the standard of living for native peoples in the US is generally far lower than that for non-native peoples. Today's native Americans are tomorrow's Palestinians, if the situation is not resolved properly and justly. All the more reason to not allow happened here to continue to happen there. You'd think that we'd have learned something by now.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
In Addition To What Dameocrat Says (4.00 / 2)
I am not arguing for more Jewish suffering, not arguing for any kind of shtetl suffering at all.

To the contrary, this is precisely what I see driving the leaders of Isreali--a fear-driven small-minded parochialism that perpectuates precisely what it most fears.

What I'm arguing for, OTOH, is an expansion of our humanity.

Before 1967, Israel was reaching out to the rest of the world.  We were truly internationalist.  We had a blindness to the suffering we were causing, but we had a largeness of spirit that could have saved us.  That spirit has been diminishing ever since.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I think that it's a bit of an oversimplification (4.00 / 1)
to say that pre-67, Israel was "reaching out" more. One, Israel has continued to "reach out" to the world since then, witnessed by its many humanitarian missions to Africa, the Balkans, and other places. And two, prior to '67, Israel was doing some pretty bad and/or stupid stuff. E.g. the forced explusion of Palestinians and land grabs during its war of independance, the '56 Sinai colonial fiasco, Units 101 and 202 of Ariel Sharon infamy, etc. Not to mention Deir Yassin and many other massacres. And so on.

But I do agree that something does appear to have changed in the decades since then in Israelis' mentality and "humanity", in that at least back then, it was at least understandable, if nevertheless still not justifiable, why they'd do these things, given the recency of the Holocaust, and the incessant calls for Israel's destruction and the massacre of its people by many Arab leaders.

Now, though, with Israel's existance and the lives of the majority of its citizens not really at stake (anyone who believes that Israel can be destroyed w/o nukes is delusional, and even with nukes, the odds are very, very long, for various reasons), there is no justification OR understanding, and these actions appear to be based pretty much on "I don't care what you have to do and how many people you have to kill, just keep me safe", even if safety isn't really that big an issue for most Israelis--and where it is, as it now is in cities within rocket range, the solution is clearly not what's being done right now, or was done in the summer of '06. Whether out of coldness, selfishness, jadedness, whatever, Israelis appear to be emotionally disengaged from what their country is doing just miles away.

In any case, they appear to be lost, Palestinians are in advanced PTSD, and absent a massive and catastrophic defeat that shakes their confidence to the core and forces them to start considering other, more sensible and humane options--not unlike what happened to Japan or Germany in WWII, but which is unlikely to happen for various reasons both military and geopolitical--it will likely only be through US intervention that anything will improve there.

It's time for an intervention. No, not military. Been there, done that, not gonna do that again. But by whatever other means necessary, be it cutting off funds and weapons, war crime trials, trade sanctions, etc.--of the bad players on both sides, mind you. Enough already. My earliest clear memory is of being rushed to the bomb shelter in '67 as a 3 year old. I remember Munich and the many terrorist attacks of the 70's. I remember Sabra and Shatillah. And compared to Palestinians, this is nothing. Enough already. We need to get past this, one way or another.

I'm just asking that as we push for that to happen with a new administration coming in, we also don't get caught up in demonization and oversimplification and mythologizing, both past and present. There are sides to this situation, none are completely right or wrong, and it helps no one to claim otherwise. Not you, Paul, but I see so much of this in I-P "discussions" that it's just discouraging, and unhelpful. I can't recall any other issue on which there's so much self-righteousness, viciousness and oversimplification, none of it at all helpful, and so little willingness to even listen to other points of view. Not unlike the issue itself, of course, which is perhaps understandable, but nevertheless unacceptable. Just like the situation.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
He's not asking for more (4.00 / 3)
Jewish suffering, he's asking for less. After all you can't keep a person down in a ditch without standing there yourself.  

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Quoting you: (4.00 / 4)
"Which it always amuses me to realize that many of the same people who reject Israel's moral legitimacy in terms of its founding ideas and actions are essentially rejecting the legitimacy of their own present country and citizenship. It was no more our (literal or national) ancestors' right to settle in, occupy, steal and co-opt the land that comprises the USA than it was for Zionists to do the same in Palestine."

Then would you also condone the attempt of the Germans in the 1930s to create a pure Arian state? Well, it seems to me that that is just what they did, by removing and disenfranchising its Jewish population. Didn't they have a right to do that?

Didn't Livni just suggest that Palestinian citizens of Israel be removed by transfer or some other method so that Israel could be a pure Jewish (and democratic?) state? And didn't Israel's most racist Knesset member, Avigdor Lieberman, suggest that same thing, that Palestinians be transferred into what would essentially be bantustans within Israel? And didn't even Henry Kissinger propose the same thing in 2005? It is particularly disturbing that Kissinger would suggest such a thing, an escapee from Nazi Germany himself to a country, the USA, that would never tolerate such a thing.

It is likewise disturbing to hear anyone brought up in our liberal democracy use our vile history of treatment of native Americans to justify the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, which continues on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, or the killings of Palestinians in Gaza going on today.  

[ Parent ]
As invariably happens whenever I or anyone else (4.00 / 1)
tries to put this conflict into some sort of broader complex and show how it's not quite as simple or one-sided as some seem to believe that it is (the gist of this diary being that because European Jews essentially "started it", the blame lies squarly on them, period), some people, willfully or lazily, try to interpret this to mean that I'm therefore an apologist for all of Israel's policies (and that of pre-'48 Zionists) since Zionists started settling (colonizing, whatever) Palestine. Which if it makes life easier for you, go right ahead and believe that, but nowhere in this diary have I indicated that this is what I believe. Quite the opposite, I described these policies as heinous, which they are. But since, for some people, anything short of a complete and unequivoval condemnation of Israel is an endorsement of all of its policies (i.e. people for whom reality is black and white), it's a futile effort to try to refute this. If you're into "you're either with me or against me", then peace to you.

Incidentally, I was discussing Zionist actions well before Israel's founding in 1948. How you extrapolated it over a 120 year period is beyond me.

I'm referring to this nonsense, of course:

It is likewise disturbing to hear anyone brought up in our liberal democracy use our vile history of treatment of native Americans to justify the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, which continues on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, or the killings of Palestinians in Gaza going on today.

Where I said or implied this is beyond me. I was actually making a different point, that what Israeli Jews have done to Palestinians differs not one iota from what Europeans did to native peoples in the Americas. In fact, the latter has inarguably been vastly worse, spanning centuries, not decades, and involving millions of murdered, not thousands. Which, by the way, continues on to the present day. No, we're not "killing" native Americans outright, but we're not exactly making up for centuries of massacre, oppression and dislocation, and health and life conditions, and life expectancies for native peoples, continues to lag that of the general population. And yet, you don't really hear much outcry over it in the very country where it takes place to this day (whereas there's a large group of Israelis who condemn its Palestinian policies and work actively to end them). One wonders why. The hypocrisy is undeniable and stunning. This is in no way to justify Israel's policies, but to contextualize it as being part of an evil continuum that many westerners are eager to condemn when it happens in other places, but not when it happens right under their noses.

You could not have misread me more if you tried. Which is pretty much par for the course in I-P debates, most of whose participants long ago decided that it was far easier and more comforting to oversimplify than to see the reality of the situation as it actually is.

And I haven't even mentioned China, Sudan, Russia, Zimbabwe, etc. vis a vis their ethnic policies. When the outcry over these policies even begins to match that of Israel's (I repeat, heinous and evil) policies, is when I'll view criticisms of them as anything more than sanctimonious and convenient projection.

My position on Israel remains the same as it has long been. It has a right to exist. Period. It does not have a right to violate international law. Period. And we shouldn't be supporting these policies, morally, financially or militarily. Period.  Israel should not be judged or treast any less, or more, harshly, than any other country in the world, for its policies and actions, including the US. Period. I'm not sure where I've said or implied otherwise, just because I was trying to contextualize its history and situation, or what the problem is.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
but it's not really the same (4.00 / 3)
First, the notions of land ownership with the indigenous people weren't very firm.

Second, it was hundreds of years ago.  The first world should have progressed some since then.

Third, "but you did it too" is the defense of grade-schoolers.  

[ Parent ]
Hmm ... (0.00 / 0)
The fact that something was hundreds of years ago makes it OK? You're rationalizing. Believe me, it feels very recent for many Native Americans (not to mention African Americans).

[ Parent ]
huh? (4.00 / 1)
Where did I say it was okay?  We did a lot of really awful things hundreds of years ago.  I'd like to think that we weren't still doing awful things today.

[ Parent ]
you could like to think that, but it wouldn't be true (0.00 / 0)
the war in iraq and "the war for the west" have more in common than most people like to acknowledge.  anyway, that's neither here nor there, but i don't like the writing off of ethnic cleansing of american indians or the oversimplistic treatment of it (yes, it was mostly disease; yes, there was also genocide - see trail of tears).  If we're going to ask Israelis to admit their flaws, the least we could do as americans is look in the mirror and acknowledge our own (which continue as long as we don't acknowledge them).

[ Parent ]
I'm not interested in extracting an admission of flaws... (4.00 / 2)
This is a red herring that deflects the conversation away from real actions and consequences in the world right now resulting from Israel's behavior and the US policy that enables it. American history has been brought up here by others (not as you have addressed it in this comment) as though past actions of the US negate activism now, and strongly suggest that the only legitimate response on the part of Americans is silent contemplation of our own sins. On the contrary, US involvement in other immoral actions should create an even greater sense of urgency about this.

We have a progressive political movement NOW informed by our values - What should progressive activism be right now toward the war, violence and persecution going on currently that we have the power to act on?

If there are some actions and policies progressives should be pushing now to address ethnic cleansing of American Indians or other Indians throughout the Americas, those are appropriate topics for a different thread.

Having been complicit in genocides of the past - does that mean we should be complicit in this one? If you have a set of values that leads you to criticize those polices in America's past such that if you were alive then you would have acted against them, then it follows that you should be active - rather than paralyzed - now.

[ Parent ]
who said anything about paralysis? (0.00 / 0)
we should be angry - both about how palestinians are treated and how american indians are treated.  And then we should talk to them to find out what they want.  If the genocide is "over" then who are all those people on reservations and in Minneapolis and in substance abuse counseling and in jail?

[ Parent ]
we should be angry - both... (4.00 / 1)
Anger at these kinds of issues is the ocean we progressive fish swim in, but here in this thread we seek focus...

[ Parent ]
oh i forgot the most important part (0.00 / 0)
the hundreds of thousands of peopel that are dead in Iraq and Afghanistan that we should be doing something about.  Where is the American anti-war movement (not the Obama "wrong war" movement).  The U.S. is sending air raids over Pakistan now, but we're only going to protest what happens in Gaza?  I call BS.

[ Parent ]
Can you be reliably counted on... (4.00 / 1)
to post messages in threads about the Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and possible future Iranian wars to remind us to protest the Gaza war too? Or to dismiss criticism of those wars for not addressing Gaza in the same messages too?

One thing at a time...

[ Parent ]
yes (0.00 / 0)
you can count on me to point out to what u.s. allies and vassal states are doing and the nature of geopolitics in threads about the war in Afghanista and Iraq, if that's what you're interested in.  

If you are an American and you are going to draw attention to what the state in Israel or India or Pakistan or Colombia is doing, you need to pay attention to the American role both in those countries and globally, the same way that Americans constantly ask people in other countries to account for everything from trade and labor conditions to torture.  

I take your point - the discussion about Gaza and Palestine in general is very important - I am only bringing up one angle on it, not to reduce the culpability of Israel for the settlements, for the siege, for the disruption of the election, for the war in lebanon, and now for this set of events.

[ Parent ]
I don't think that there had to be explicit laws (4.00 / 1)
at the time that the various land siezures and forced expulsions took place against native peoples for them to have been immoral and against the concepts of natural law believed in by many colonists, but only selectively applied in the instance, and quite conveniently so.

Furthermore, at a certain point European settlers did begin to enter into binding legal treaties with native peoples, that they proceeded to violate repeatedly and egregiously. So I think that the two situations are not as dissimilar as you imply.

As for the hundreds of years ago part, I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean. What's wrong today wasn't wrong back then, or seen as such? If you were referring to a pre-civilized era in which there were no formal laws, then maybe. But we're talking about Europeans who were citizens of countries in possession of highly sophisticated legal and moral codes (of varying application, of course) that had been centuries and really millenia in development, and hardly lacking a guide as to what was right or wrong, both legally and morally.

No doubt those codes contained provisions that made exceptions for the conquest, occupation and settlement of lands previously not under the jurisdiction of their home countries. But that's what colonial powers always do, creating such provisions to put a pre-stamp of legitimacy on their upcoming conquests (the latest version of which was the Iraq War resolution). Doesn't make it any more legal or moral, though.

And I wasn't making any such "defense", the mis-interpretation of which is actually grade-schoolish. I was merely telling my fellow US citizens that if we're going to be accusing other countries of doing precisely what we did and continue to do here, we should at least own up to it rather than conveniently project these sins only onto others. I wasn't saying that because "we" did it, it was ok for Israel to do it. Not at ALL. Rather, that it was wrong of BOTH of us to do it. What was that line about eyes and logs?

Nothing like a good I-P thread to get everyone into self-serving, self-righteous, holier-than-thou sanctimonious mode, made all the easier by the convenient tendency by many to manufacture straw men, oversimplify, and put words in others' mouths. For the life of me I will never figure out why this conflict, much more so than any other, tends to bring this out in so many people, as opposed to, say, Darfur, Tibet or Burma, whose citizens have suffered as greatly if not worse than Palestinians have (who have, of course, suffered immensely).

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
1876? (0.00 / 0)
Why that arbitrary date?

Until human beings let go of bullshit and wrong ideas like Christianity, Judaism and Islam, these wars will continue.

Accurate as far as it goes (4.00 / 2)
But supremely unhelpful to my mind as far as crafting a solution goes.

We could argue about whether the creation of Israel was a good or bad thing (I'd probably fall into the second category) but it happened and we do not have a way back machine.

Israel cannot and will not disappear. Nobody has the military power to compel that outcome. If a solution is ever reached, it will be because both sides can put aside rancor enough to accept that the benefit of living in one or more peaceful states is worth the compromises it will necessitate.

So whilst I think this is a good counter-argument to Zionist propaganda and serves to show the Palestinian position in fairly non-subtle terms, it's ancient history. The Israel-Palestine conflict has been going on since the time of the grandparents of today's IDF conscripts and Hamas fighters and the original cause gets less and less important. Nowadays, it just continues because both sides think they can get a better settlement if it continues.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

Israel was just offered a two state solution last year, by Bush. Remember. (4.00 / 3)
And it was not the first time this solution was refused by Israel.

The Palestinians understand that it is the only solution left, even though some believe, because Israel has now colonized almost half of the West Bank, that only a one state solution is possible. God forbid Israelis and Palestinians living together.

[ Parent ]
Don't pretend this is simple (0.00 / 0)
Camp David 2000 was the closest the Israel-Palestine conflict has got to a solution. And Arafat torpedoed that.

Israelis and Palestinians disagree on some pretty basic items. The reason there hasn't been a solution is because hard compromises are needed and because years upon years of outrages and disproportionate responses have poisoned any chance for reasoned dialogue. The blame does not all lie with the Israelis. The most you can say is that they have more that they can afford to give up at the peace table.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
I was under the impression... (4.00 / 2)
Camp David fell to pieces largely over Israeli refusal to budge on sharing Jerusalem.

[ Parent ]
Islamic leadership in Palestine was pro German in War I and Nazi in War II (0.00 / 0)
and certain factions of muslims were buddy with Hitler, had visited Auschwitz and Treblinka and were thrilled at their efficiency in exterminating Jews. They were eager to implement the Final Solution in the middle east, only Rommel lost and Montgomery won the war of the desert.

They were consistently on the wrong side (their leaders)and so Israel was established to ease the guilt of the western nations who let the Holocaust happen.

Do you have documentation for your claims? (4.00 / 4)
Specifically, do you have documentation that any Muslim leaders visited Auschwitz or Trebinka and were "thrilled"?
What leaders?  Name them.  How did they express their alleged thrills?

Now, there were people fighting British rule that allied themselves with the Axis; after all, the British used chemical weapons against the Kurds long before Saddam did.  Churchill famously said "I do not understand this sqeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes."  They knew what the British did to them, because they experienced it, but I doubt if they knew anything about what Hitler was doing to the Jews.  And before the war, anti-Semitism was a European thing, and Jews often were treated better in the Muslim world than in Europe.

[ Parent ]
You are obviously talking about the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (4.00 / 4)
The Grand Mufti, a title allegedly given to him by the British, who occupied Palestine after WWI, was the leader of a prominent family, the Heisanis. It is also alleged that the British attempted to use him, but given open knowledge that the British had committed to creating a homeland for the Jews (Balfour), he was apparently not so conformist. After considerable strife between immigrant Jews and Palestinians, which he was apparently a part of, he was exiled by the British in 1937. It was later that he met with Hitler, and eventually created a company of Arab, possibly Palestinian soldiers, who were used during WWII in parades. They never actually fought in the war.

I have never seen any documentation that Heisani visited or was even aware of the extermination camps.

After the war, the exGrand Mufti ended up in Lebanon, where he died.

No one bothers to use this episode as a justification of the later ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948. It is just trivial history of no consequence.

[ Parent ]
what do the following "eternal" conflicts have in common? (4.00 / 3)
a) Tamils vs. Sinhalese in Sri Lanka
b) Israelis vs. Palestinians in Israel/Palestine
c) Hindus vs. Muslims in India/Pakistan/Bangladesh
d) Turks vs. Greeks in  Cyprus
e) Protestants vs. Catholics in Northern Ireland

hint - it's two words, starts with B, rhymes with Twitish Empire.

Looking at in this context helps us get past the national mythologies of all sides - though I think a post like this is extremely helpful for American progressives given how zionized the American media is.

Definitely (4.00 / 1)
You could add in Malaya, Kenya and Zimbabwe for starters and plenty off other atrocities we were at least partly responsible for which are just a little less notable nowadays.

Hell, Africa's still suffering because Lord Salisbury and his fellow diplomats had no idea where any of the borders they drew on the maps were.

Imperialists used both sides as pawns in a much larger game - a game which nevertheless mostly revolved around getting one over on the French, because of England's one national mythology.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
interesting use of "we" :) (0.00 / 0)
The guilt wasn't reall what I was going for :) yeah, i am really angry about it, but more to the point, it's a really neglected issue when people start thinking about these conflicts.  In place of real history, we have a bewildering conflcit of narratives, all of which are strident and completely at odds with each other, and none of which help us understand (rather than take sides).  Of course we will and SHOULD take a position against abuses against Palestinians as well as many other issues, but these areas are complicated, have a real history, and need to be understood sensitively in that context.  That was my main point :)

[ Parent ]
I'm pretty sure my ancestors benefited (4.00 / 4)
None of my family were anywhere near powerful or educated enough to actually be involved in colonial administration, but I rather suspect that they benefited from British trade policies at the expense of the Irish, the Indians, the Chinese, the various African peoples and god alone knows how many more. So I figure the "we" is justified. It's not guilt as such - I don't feel that I personally need to apologise for it, merely to criticise those who enacted it - but I feel it's important to be honest about when it has benefited you.

Also, I'm home for the holidays and hearing schoolfriends continue to champion imperialism always makes me want to denounce the British part in it, just to balance the scales. :)

I also agree on the narratives vs. history point - narratives are useful for framing and winning a political argument, but anybody who has ever seen the blogosphere completely fail to understand a pet area of theirs knows that they are simplifications and therefore frequently inaccurate in the details.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
Speaking of the White Man's Burden not being dead.... (0.00 / 0)

I give you a) The Economist, and b) Prospect, and ask a question in return....

You being an/the EnglishLefty and all, can you give me a clue what's up with Bartle Bull, Prospect's Foreign Affairs editor -- he of the assertion that George W. will one day be recognized as one of America's greatest presidents? I mean, I'm a big fan of the magazine overall, but this guy seems barking mad to me.

[ Parent ]
I don't read Prospect (0.00 / 0)
I only ever seem to buy the Economist when I'm at a Norwegian airport and looking to catch up on recent news in the most conventional format possible.

And I don't read Prospect, nor recognise the name Bartle Bull.

Sorry, as far as magazines go, I only read New Statesman and Private Eye on anything approaching a regular basis.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
A pity, but thanks.... (0.00 / 0)
Google is my friend, I suppose. He sounds like the English equivalent of John Bolton or Paul Wolfowitz, but undoubtedly our common language is being its usual misleading self.  

[ Parent ]
So, the current Israeli state... (0.00 / 0)
... is no more morally grounded than our own state -- both being founded on the dispossession  of the original inhabitants (genocidal, in our case; 1491 is a wonderful book).

I like the analogy -- "Why don't you move to Canada?" -- but I'm not sure where it gets us in policy terms. Unless to suggest that there are problems for the left to address that are a lot nearer home, and of a larger scale...  

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

The problem is.... (0.00 / 0)
why can't the Palestinians understand it. They have been usurped and Palestine is no more.

Or is it? Could it be that the Palestinian school system is at fault?

[ Parent ]
This is the most simplistic article that I have ever read here (4.00 / 3)
It is also just plain wrong. After WWII there was a reorganization of all the Arab lands. If this was appropriate or not is really not up for argument, it happened.

Most of the Jews that came to Palestine came from other Arab countries, just as many other populations were displaced during the post-colononial era. The misconception that a bunch of American and European Jews overwhelmed Palestine is just inaccurate. What happened was that there was a consolidation of the Jews from other Arab lands.

To this day more than half Jewish population of Israel is descendant from Middle Eastern countries. While conditions in these countries obviously deterioated after the creation of Israel, they had already deterioated after WWII. Imagine conditions for a Jew living in Saudi Arabia, Iran or Iraq after WWII.

I agree that Palestians have the right to self-determination and the Israeli's have a right to defend themselves. Articles that basically articulate that Israel should never have existed have no point. Why should Israel negotiate in the current environment with people that believe that?

What is the suggestion to do with the Jews who live there now? Why are you not more focused on the Palestinians in Jordan (who make up 60% of the population) that do not have the right to self-detemination? I actually think Israel is wrong in what it is doing now and yet this article is biased, simplistic, and basically anti-Jewish since it takes one side without understand that there actually are complexities to the issues.  

Again, This Ignores What The Diary Itself Says (4.00 / 6)
To wit:

There are so many words written about the "root causes" of the Arab-Israeli conflict, you might think the underlying issue is difficult to understand.  But you'd be wrong.  For all the mythology that interested parties want to wrap this conflict in, it's really not difficult at all to understand the confrontation that has been going on in Palestine for more than a century now. All you have to do is try to imagine that what happened to Palestine happened instead here in the U.S. Then ask yourself, "What would Americans do in this position?".  And at that point, you find it miraculously stops being difficult to understand.

The point is not to say that this is all there is to it, what was done was evil and therefore Israel should not exist.  The point is to say that it's not that hard to understand why Palestinians have attitudes, viewpoints, perspectives that most Americans don't understand, through sheer ignorance, and that we can find ways to talk with them, painful and difficult though that may be.

Now, I'm a Jewish-American who thinks that Jews everywhere would be a lot better off if we broke this log-jam of cross-accusation and made peace.  And I think it is much more doable than Israel's political leadership makes it out to be.  I think that de-legitimizing the excuses offered is an important step forward toward that end.

That does not mean that I think there are no legitimate Israeli concerns.  It does mean that I think the legitimate concerns are weakened by the torturous advancing of bogus ones.

Surely the fact that we now count as "allies" people who gleefully look forward to our mass incineration (the "Christian Zionist" crowd) is an indication that things have gone terribly wrong with our thought processes somewhere or other.  This is simply inescapable.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Paul this quote is pointless (4.00 / 1)
And the analogy is fruitless...it leads to nowhere good.

So we dispossessed the Indians (though there was lots of empty country here) does that mean that NOW the Non Indians should leave?  Of course not.

When the War was over in Poland, my parents returned to their shetl. there was only one house left, my father's parents house...though of course thee were no parents left and lots of brothers and sisters had been murdered.  Everyone returning came to my fahter's house.  One night Polish partisans attacked the house wanting to still kill Jews. Some more family were killed in that attack.  After that everyone decided they could not stay in Poland....they would be murdered still.  So they began walking south to go to the boats that would take them to Israel....they had no other place to go that would let them in. My parents were stopped by Patton, imprisoned and sent to a Displaced Persons camp near Munich.  My father's brohter made it through, got on a boat and got to Israel.  It took years before the family we had in the US were allowed to sponsor my parents and now me to come to this country.  The victims of fascism have no special dispenation, while those fleeing Communism always have had in this country.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
"does that mean that NOW the Non Indians should leave? Of course not. " (4.00 / 1)
well morally, they (we) should.  And it's important to keep in mind, even if that's not going to happen.  Wouldn't that be the just thing, even if it's totally unthinkable by the rules of the world (which most of us did not design, if anyone did?)?

[ Parent ]
This I like (0.00 / 0)
Invasion is nothing new in human society. We probably did it to the Neanderthals, it certainly played a role in the spread of Indo-European languages (the only question being how much of a role) and the empires of Alexander and Rome relied upon it.

The Americas, southern Africa and Israel are only more modern, hence more sophisticated and more numerous variants upon this.

These invasions weren't all unreasonable - Jews were fleeing persecution, and Puritans and Virginia Cavaliers alike might make that argument, whilst the Boers initially arrived in a land with room for them alongside the native population.

But they all ended up conforming to basic in-group out-group patterns of savagery and verifying a very basic atavism in human nature. These things aren't rectifiable, but they should be remembered by those who benefited from them, so we don't repeat them. And even if you suffered from them, that doesn't give you the moral high ground. At best, you lacked the opportunity to do the same. At worst, you participated every bit as much as you were able.

I think to truly solve these things, long after the guns and bombs have been set aside, we then need to start being able to assign blame. And we need to recognise that there is more than enough of that to go around.

I think we should judge and be judged ourselves. Trusting absolutely in our own judgements is a terrible way to do things.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
The fact that it is now absolutely impossible (0.00 / 0)
makes the morality of the original emigration not only irrelevant...drains it of morality though obviously not a sense of grievance.  But you just assume the morality is a one way street.

My parents were Polish Jews who managed to survive the war.  They returned to their home shtetl (town) to find that every house was gone, except for one, my father's house.  Of course his parents and my mothers parents were dead, killed in Treblinka, and many of the siblings in 2 very large families had also been murdered...Treblinka, Stuthofen my grandmother was thrown into the Baltic as American planes strafed a German destroyer.  She had gone on deck to save her daughter; they were both injured and thrown overboard.  My mother's brother was big and he had been sent from one camp to another, where he attempted escape each time.  At the last camp they flailed him alive.

After the Russians freed that part of Poland, people of the shtetl returned looking for family and they all stayed at my father's house.  One night Polish partisans attacked the house intending to kill as many Jews as they could. These weren't Germans but homegrown antisemites.  

It was decided that Poland was still a killing field for Jews.  They had to leave or die.  But none of the countries of Europe were safe, war was still going on to the west.  And America certainly hadn't changed its immigration laws to let in more Jews.  So they banded together and began walking south to get to Italy (which was no longer fascist) to get on boats to go to Israel.  That was a place that they could go. It was then the only seemingly even marginally safer place.  

My parents were stopped, arrested and imprisoned by Gen. Patton and eventually sent to a Displaced Persons camp near Munich.  After years and years of waiting and living in this camp, they got America sponsored by my mother's family. My father's brother got on the boats and swam ashore to Israel.  

What would you have told them to do?  The "morally right" thing and stayed in place and died?  I would hope not.  If it was your family what would you have done?  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
how does their origin matter? (4.00 / 3)
So what if the Jews of Israel are from Middle Eastern decent?

At worst, the American analogy would be changed to "imagine that all the Jews in the US decided to take over North Carolina and evict the people that lived there".  Does that make it any less absurd, or any less surprising at the eternal violence there?

[ Parent ]
The Jews from Arab countries emigrated after 1948 and it continued until 1968. (4.00 / 1)
These emigres had almost nothing to do with the creation of Israel in 1948.

[ Parent ]
Humanism (0.00 / 0)
The original diary provides a perspective of the I/P conflict that pretty much any American can understand, as do many of the replies, especially those pointing to the Native American genocide that was part and parcel of building the USA of today. The conflict is, to some extent, internalized by our common history. Certainly not ALL of my fellow Anericans will join me in being able to see the issue from both perspectives, but maybe a few joining in on this site will take a "step back" with me.

I would venture to say that most of my fellow citizens know very well that response to any attempt to create a New Nation, of whatever composition, by forcibly relocating 20th century Americans would be very much like that described by the diary. At the same time, we also know that our own nation, the very one we would fight to the death to protect from the "invaders" and "settlers", is the result of precisely what we now find so horrific. This internalized psychodrama can be paralyzing for those that require a "moral" foundation upon which to stand as they proclaim their plan to impose a solution on the situation. As the litany of human-on-human aggression listed in the comments grows, and even as we realize that the instances cited here are but a small sliver of the inhumane ways that humans have treated each other, we begin to see that the I/P conflict is really our conflict. (Not "ours" as Americans; "ours" as humans).

I may be a poor historian, but when I take a step back and look at humans over time, I see that violence and genocide (attempted, or otherwise) is one of our characteristics. Like when a wildlife ecologist describes how bees swarm to create a new hive, or wolf-packs split and merge, an observer of humanity will note a certain proclivity of these animals to form groups that seek to eliminate those that do not fit whatever criteria are the bases of group identity. The difference being that (apparently) the bees and the wolves go about their actions without ever being able to put them in the context of history, they live in an Eternal Now. Humans, perhaps because of our well-developed frontal cortex, no longer have that luxury. Our murderous pasts are documented (some more clearly than others, of course) and even reenacted. History is a human invention, as far as I can tell, and if humans are to survive we had better make use of it in a positive way. At least, that's what I get from reading about evolution and thinking about my own species. Life progresses by exploiting unique characteristics that may offer a survival strategy.

How to use history in a positive way? Many of the posts here, IMHO, demonstrate the opposite. When we are not rummaging through historical texts to highlight some underappreciated oppression as justification for modern day conflict, we are focussing on the long list of human violence solely as a means to despirit and demean our "morality". I look at that same shared history and ask, "is there not another way?".

Are humans so limited in our capacities as sencient beings that we cannot live by any means that does not entail human-on human violence? (we'll get to the animal-rights issue on another day, perhaps, right now I'm speaking as a human). Whether the question confronts us in the streets of Gaza, the neighborhoods of Israeli towns, the outskirts of Baghdad, or the backyards in any modern American city, it rings in our ears - is this the best that our species can manage?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

Paul, thank you for promoting this diary (4.00 / 3)
As Glenn Greenwald says this morning:

Whatever else is true, the more domestic political pressure is exerted demanding that the U.S. play a more even-handed and constructive role in facilitating a diplomatic resolution, the more likely it is that this [forging an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians] will happen.

Exploring the Palestinian perspective helps.

I can't claim to have done an exhaustive survey of the blogosphere, but this seems to be the first post anywhere among "A-list" progressive blogs that doesn't elide a conversation about Zionism, or pander, or treat it with kid gloves.

Leadership in courage to have this conversation and examine this perspective distinguishes Open Left.

Thanks, But (4.00 / 4)
I'd much rather not be any sort of leader here.  I'd much rather be just another voice among many.  

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]

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