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What the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is Really About

by KatherineMW

You’ve all seen the news reports on Gaza, but the heart of the conflict and the key to understanding it is elsewhere. It’s in the news of a massive Israeli seizure of Palestinian land in the West Bank, some four square kilometres, the largest single seizure in thirty years. It’s in the systematic theft and destruction of people’s homes and farms that’s been going on for decades and has intensified since the Oslo Accords. References are occasionally made to “settlements” in news reports on the conflict, but few people recognize how central they are, and how revealing of Israel’s intentions, objectives, and motivations.

 

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The vast majority of settlements are and have always been in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, so that is what this chart illustrates. Israel provides substantial subsidies, including ones for housing and water, in order to encourage Israelis to move into these settlements. In the last eight months alone, Israel has evicted 400 Palestinian families from their homes and stolen their lands.

The settlements are internationally recognized as illegal, and they are commonly expanded by means of ethnic cleansing – Palestinian land is appropriated by Israel for the settlements themselves and for “buffer zones” around the settlements. Palestinians who have farms near the borders of the settlement are forbidden from cultivating them for “security reasons”; them, under an old Ottoman-era law allowing the government to claim farmland if it is left uncultivated for several years, Israel claims the land, adds it to the settlements, and creates a new “buffer zone” of additional land. Settlers in the more extremist settlements contribute to this process by cutting down Palestinian olive groves, throwing rubbish in the yards of Palestinian homes (at times, as I have seen personally, to the extent that the Palestinians are unable to leave their homes by the front door, as it is blocked by garbage), and throwing rocks at Palestinian children as they walk to school. There are international NGOs who have, as a significant part of their work, volunteers walking to school with Palestinian children in order to help dissuade Israeli settlers from doing this.

Bethlehem has been plagued by settlement expansion for many years, and this was intensified by the construction of the Separation Wall, which went not along the Green Line, but directly through the commercial heart of Bethlehem, with a devastating economic impact and equally severe personal impacts. On my first trip to the Middle East, I met with and heard (through translation) the story of a woman who lived near the wall and had been continually harassed by Israeli soldiers seeking to drive her from her home.

The Wall through Bethlehem.

The Wall through Bethlehem.

This latest theft of land by Israel, just to the west of Bethlehem, covers an area of the West Bank already surrounded on three sides by Israeli settlements. It steals land that has belonged to Palestinian families for generations.

“How is it possible that this is state land?” said Mohammad Assaf, a village resident. “I inherited this plot of land from my father, and him from my grandfather. We already live in a prison that prevents us from expanding for population or agricultural needs.”

Israel says that the move is in response to the killing of three settler teenagers in the West Bank last June. (In comparison, there were 399 attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian civilians in 2013. Palestinian police are forbidden from responding to these attacks or defending their civilians.) But this is nonsensical – there’s no connection whatsoever between a murder and territorial expansion by Israel. If American tourists are killed in Mexico, the US doesn’t become entitled to annex Mexican territory.

And this new expansion goes beyond typical settlement construction. Israel has stated that the territory it is claiming will be considered as Israeli territory, and be within Israeli borders in any permanent agreement made with the Palestinian Territories in future. In short, having already annexed East Jerusalem, Israel is now annexing parts of the West bank as permanent territorial acquisitions. The acquisition of territory by force is entirely against international law, and is one of the most serious and dangerous violations that exists – the same kind that Russia is currently trying to commit in Ukraine, and receiving far more attention for.

What does this mean? It means that Israel’s primary objective is NOT security. Security is a distraction, a smokescreen. Israel’s goal is, and has been for decades, territorial expansion. Their fundamental problem is that they want the land of the West Bank and East Jerusalem – and the water that is under it – but they don’t want the people on that land to be able to vote in their elections. So they force the Palestinians onto ever smaller, ever more restricted, parts of land. They create settlements that make the remaining parts of the West Bank unconnected to each other or East Jerusalem, so that Palestinians cannot move from place to place. The final goal is a set of small Palestinian areas with the remaining population of Palestine – those who have not become refugees in other countries or been killed in Israeli attacks – tightly concentrated inside them, with the majority of the land of the West Bank, and all of East Jerusalem, in Israeli hands. As this is accomplished, additional land – like the land seized on Sunday – can be annexed to Israel, without needing to include the people who formerly lived on it.

The goal, in short, is a series of micro-territories in what is now the West Bank. Small areas with no economy, no way to make a decent life. Areas that can be controlled by Israel. That can be bombed until they submit or until they have no population left. Israel gains both the land and a captive workforce.

If that sounds like Bantustans, that’s because that’s exactly what it is.

These facts may not be recognized or acknowledged by much of the US or Canadian media, but they’re not fringe – many of the same things I have recounted above have been reported by The Economist in a recent article, which I highly recommend.

Israel has been dominant, and unopposed in any significant way by the United States, for over a decade, under no pressure to make any significant moves towards peace with the Palestinians. It has taken advantage of this situation in a comprehensive manner.

The world has two choices. It can act, now, strongly, to stop Israel’s annexation of the West Bank and put sufficient pressure on Israel to force to accept either a two-state solution, or a single state with Palestinian enfranchisement. Or it can wait, and see the end of Palestine and of the Palestinians go into the history books along with the dispossession of Native Americans, the partition of Poland, the Scramble for Africa, and other depredations of empire and conquest, as something that “should never have happened”, but that no one cared enough to stop.

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223 thoughts on “What the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is Really About

  1. Deplorable and utterly expected behavior from Bibi and his clown brigade.

    I sometimes wonder if the Palestinian Authority should threaten to dissolve and convert themselves to a non governmental organization lobbying and organizing protests for full Palestinian annexation into Israel along with full voting rights. That’d make the Israeli right wingers and centrists heads snap around.

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  2. Or it can wait, and see the end of Palestine and of the Palestinians go into the history books along with the dispossession of Native Americans, the partition of Poland, the Scramble for Africa, and other depredations of empire and conquest, as something that “should never have happened”, but that no one cared enough to stop.

    One of the advantages for the disturbed conscience about marginalized and dispossessed people who vanish from the Earth is that they’re gone and they’re not here to distract the world any more with their legitimate complaints.

    I’ll predict the world picks “#2”.

    Such is humanity.

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      • Forceable relocation of an ethnic group out of an area is alone generally considered an act of genocide. To say nothing of, you know, bombing the fuck out of them or purposefully destroying and disrupting their farms, businesses, and homes as a form of collective punishment.

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      • I just used it for, you know, genocide. Mass murder is not the only way to destroy an ethnic group. That’s the point Katherine ends with. I mean, we can argue about whether that’s Israel’s goal (and by Israel here I mean strictly the government, the military, and the supporters of their actions; I know there are plenty of Israelis who are as horrified by their government’s actions as I am), but it is certainly what they’re actually doing: systematically destroying an ethnic group via forced relocation, the destruction of homes, the destruction of infrastructure, the destruction of the economy, and the prevention of outside aid. Oh, and bombing them.

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      • Mike,
        are you seriously trying to tell me that the Trail of Tears was not a genocidal act?
        Besides, I can throw some links to Israelis killing innocent civilians ON ISRAELI RADIO. Why were they on Israeli radio? Why, because their dad was a collaborator.

        The Israelis’ still haven’t apologized for killing his daughters.

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      • The Palestinian population has increased since 1949. This is a rather strange genocide.

        You might want to consider your words and accusations more carefully. Unless it prevents you from being totes radical with Fanon and all.

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      • I chose my words carefully. I’ve even presented my reasons for choosing it. So far, the arguments against my word choice have been:

        a.) What are we going to call what Mike wants to call genocide, if I’m using it for something he doesn’t want to call that?
        b.) You’re just saying that to be “totes radical.”
        c.) A single demographic data point easily countered by Katherine’s graph, or any count of the number of Palestinian homes bulldozed so far, or that photo of the wall in Bethlehem, or you know, the bombs.

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      • The Allies bombed the fuck out of civilians during WWII. That isn’t called genocide. Nor is the mass murder of Israelis civilians that took place during the second Intifada, even though it was exactly an act of collective punishment. Nor is Sherman’s March to the Sea (by anyone sane), whose precise purpose was to destroy and disrupt farms, businesses, and homes. Nor, in general, is the Chinese policy in Tibet, which is to eliminate “Tibetan” as a separate ethnicity.

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      • Let me ask you this: if the U.S. and Britain had lost the war, do you think Tokyo and Dresden would have been considered war crimes? I’m pretty damn sure they would have. Genocide? Perhaps not. Mass murder? Certainly.

        And you won’t have to look far to find examples of people accusing the Chinese of genocide for the sinicization of Tibet. Hell, I went to a few concerts in the 90s at which everyone was saying that.

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      • “ethnic cleansing” is a good, and to me more accurate, alternative to genocide. Judging the Israeli govt solely by its conduct, the govt doesn’t want to kill all the non-Jewish inhabitants of the West Bank, but the govt would be really happy if they all left and is taking all sorts of actions that make staying unpleasant.

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      • I guess Francis beat me to this, but my understanding is that if a group of people surrounds another group and forces them off their land without concern for their well-being, it’s ethnic cleansing and, if they fully surround them and try to exterminate them, it becomes genocide. When these things get tried in the Hague often the question is whether it’s one or the other. I mention this to also mention my tremendous respect for the woman who I put the question to, who I knew through colleagues before her untimely passing:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alison_Des_Forges

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      • That makes sense, then. I take back my use of the word “genocidal,” and will switch to ethnic cleansing from now on. Thank you Francis and Rufus, not only for correcting me, but for actually explaining the correction instead of just saying, “Radical!”

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      • “Such the world also probably wanted and wants for the Jews for much of history as well.”

        See my earlier comment on the other thread.

        The world typically doesn’t give much of a real crap about what’s going on somewhere that isn’t where they are, regardless of which tribe is ethnically cleansing which tribe.

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  3. The captions supposed to go under the photo, the photo is supposed to go after the paragraph about Bethehem, and the HTML that I used isn’t working. Could someone who’s authorized to edit posts fix this?

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  4. I don’t disagree with the facts of the Israeli settlements and the role that they play in the current iteration of the conflict, but I do disagree with the overall framing.

    What the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “really about” is two groups of people on either side who want exclusive rights to the same land mass. Even if Israel did the right thing in abandoning the settlements and either completely pulled out of the territories or fully enfranchised the Palestinians living there, there would still be a vocal minority of Palestinians calling for the destruction of Israel and an active minority taking action towards that end.

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    • But that minority needs the support or at least lack of opposition of the masses to be able to blend in and do their dirty work. Which is fine in the status quo because the masses have little to lose. Give them something tangible to lose (like land that’s not going to get taken just because someone else wants it) and that minority loses power.

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    • True JR, but that active minority would be utterly incapable of actually achieving or even approaching achieving their aims. Indeed recent history, with the PA actively acting as security partners to the Israeli’s, suggests strongly that said active minority would very likely fail even to achieve causing much in the way of serious damage to the Israeli’s. They’d also most likely whither away to nothing within a generation.

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      • North, I disagree entirely. One reason why the Israeli-Palestinian conflcit or Israeli-Arab conflcit has not been resolved is that the Palestinian national movement like many other national movements including the larger Arab one made a deliberate decision that Jews can not be members of the body politic regardless of how long they lived in particular place. There are many Palestinian and other Muslim organizations that openly state that the only acceptable solution is “No Israel and No Jews.” They show no side of changing this.

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      • That’s irrelevant Lee. Neither the PA nor the Palestinians as a group have any capacity to threaten the Israeli state except through outbreeding it and pushing it into an apartheid situation (and that requires Jewish cooperation in clinging to the territory in which the Palestinians live).

        I see no plausible scenario where Israeli is threatened militarily by any of their Arab neighbors*. If the Israeli’s were to drag their idiot settlers shrieking out of the territories and washed their hands of the PA I see no reason to believe that Israel would face any serious threats. The very worst I can imagine is rocket fire** at which point the Israeli’s would roll their military back in (assuming the Palestinian Authority didn’t throw the perps in jail first).

        *Iran developing the bomb has a very modest threat level to it though having a nuke is not the same as being able to deliver it to Tel Aviv nor posessing the inclination to turn one’s own state into radioactive glass just to do in some Jews.
        ** Which the PA, not being Hamas, would be incredibly incented to prevent.

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      • I think it matters to the extent that we seem to be in a never ending debate about how much land Israel occupies and there are plenty of people who are very willing to argue that the land that Israel unlawfully occupies is from the UN Partion if not before. This dynamic played out in my piece on Bruce Shipman.

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      • It sounds like you are saying that if the Israeli government just did the right thing, then all opposition to the existence of either a Jewish state or the presence of Jews in one Israeli/Palestinian state would effectively disappear within a generation.

        A bit of wishful thinking, don’t you think? It’s a bit close to the “if black people would stop committing crimes, the cops would leave them alone” line of argument.

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      • Israel might face no actual danger North but the withdrawl from Southern Lebanon and Gaza has shown that the world response to rocket barrage is that Israel should take it like a man and ignore them.* Israeli leaders probably suspect that there will be under strong international pressure not to respond in anyway. I’d also like to point out that ISIL has been in activity very clsoe to Israel’s border and ISIL would deeply love to get their hands on Jews and murder them. I suspect that if Israel thought it had to confront ISIL than it would face strong pressure not to.

        *The entire argument that Nentanyahu should have just ignored Hamas’ rocket barrages is bizarre. How on earth do people arguing this think Netanyahu or any other Israeli PM could survive a vote of no confidence in the Knesset if he or she decided to do nothing? Any Israeli PM that decided not to respond would quickly be replaced by one who would.

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      • Perhaps my wording was vague. My point was not that opposition to the Israeli state would fade or that they would become friends with the state. My point was merely that the attempts by non state actors to actively violently -attack- the Israeli state would likely fizzle out within a generation.
        There’s no telling how long it’d take attitudes to change but without entanglement the current self reinforcing cycle of hatred would be altered.

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      • How is that different from the response to the West Bank. The West Bank has been reasonably peaceful and the PA has done a decent job with security and the response is to expand settlements. So the belligerents in the south get what they want and the peaceful group on the east keep losing land. What lesson would you learn from this?

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      • Yeah, and , you might not able to convince people who want a one-state bi-racial nation like I do, but you might get a lot more support from the moderate @north’s of the world, who likely (and I hate to put words in his mouth), probably was far more supportive of Israel 10 or 15 years ago.

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      • Chris, since Hamas has repeatedly stated that the only acceptable solution to them is “No Israel and no Jews” than yes, those are the two courses of action. Hamas is not a logical organzaition. They are nihilistic thugs that would deeply love to do to the Jews what ISIL is doing to non-Muslims in Iraq and Syria. Has it ever occured to you that Hamas might be telling the truth when it states its goals?

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      • Lee,
        When Israel’s fucking response to terrorism within its borders is to LET IT GO UNPUNISHED, then yes, it damn well can shrug about rockets. They’re less dangerous to Israeli civilians.

        Sources cited upon request.

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      • Lee we are not talking about Hamas and we are not talking about ISIL. We are talking about the Palestinian Authority which has, loathe as Bibi is to acknowledge it, been cooperating in keeping the West Bank quiet and orderly with a minimum of attacks on Israeli’s for working on a decade now.

        How do you explain that moderates are rewarded with betrayal, theft of land and demonization while extremists like Hamas at least get talked to seriously as a reward for their violence. What message does that send?

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      • Ewiak
        Your description accurately tracks my own position. I was a very staunch Israeli supporter and I remain one. That said, as a friend of Israel, I feel obligated to strongly comment on the self-destructive path that they’ve taken ever since they gave in to despair after Sharon had his stroke.

        And yes, I am beginning to fear (for I do fear it) that a one state solution is soon going to become the one future the Israeli’s will have to grapple with*.

        *Or else ethnic cleansing, in which case they will have their state of a kind, though not degree, to that of their great enemy and Hitler will laugh at the Jewish people from hell for all eternity.

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      • No offense, but what the eff does any of that matter? What does it matter what you or or or anyone else here thinks? My comment was about the Palestinians themselves, not about worldwide public opinion.

        We can all wish and hope and debate and send good vibes and share things on Facebook until the cows come home. None of that changes the fact that you have a population of Israeli hawks who want to claim everything from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea within a larger population of moderate Zionists on one side and on the other you have a bunch of extremists who want to drive all of the Jews straight into that sea within a larger population of mild anti-Semitism. This is crips and bloods.

        Certainly there are positive steps that both sides can take to begin moving towards a peaceful solution, but the idea that all, or even most, of these bad vibes are going to dissipate within a generation is folly.

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      • And I reiterate JR that if you read my original comment I posit only that the actively attacking minority of the minority of Palestinians might dissipate within a generation of Israel being physically separated from the Palestinians and both sides actively cooperating to prevent active attacks. That does not strike me as a radical or unrealistic expectation. The PA has demonstrated an impressive ability to suppress active attacks –without- separation. With separation it would be enormously easier and the motives for doing so significantly stronger.

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      • If you are saying that, today in 2014, the Palestinians present no true existential threat to the state of Israel, then I tend to agree with you. There are many reasons, of course, why many Israelis will find this point hard to digest and why the hawks among them will continue to exert influence. It is pretty hard to abide by what you or I consider minor provocations when you are involved in a decades-long, if not centuries, fight for survival.

        And the same goes for the Palestinian side.

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      • that active minority would be utterly incapable of actually achieving or even approaching achieving their aims.

        I’m pretty much with North here, but wanted to add something that really bugs me in this debate. A week or two ago, League co-founder Fredrik deBoer was guest blogging for Andrew Sullivan and wrote a piece that really struck a chord with me, arguing that Palestinians already live the life Israelis fear.

        That theme strikes me as being particularly relevant in this specific discussion. On the one hand, we have concerns about how a substantial number of Palestinians and Arabs writ large want to destroy Israel and, in any event, definitely want to see Israel shrunk to less territory than even its 1948 borders. This is, everyone must acknowledge, little more than an aspiration, a desire, amongst an unknown (but presumably large) percentage of Palestinians and Arabs.

        On the other hand, we have Israel actually attempting to destroy Palestinian infrastructure and actually expanding its borders on an almost daily basis.

        Yet we are to believe that the aspirations of Palestinians are the true cause of problems, rather than the actual actions of Israel.

        I say this as someone who firmly believes that there Israel has every right in the world to exist – and indeed should exist – as an explicitly Jewish state in the area where it was founded.

        Last week, I heard a member of the Israeli cabinet on BBC radio discussing how the West Bank and Gaza are both really part of Israel – and must be recognized as such – because Jewish people lived there 3000 years ago – and this is not me exaggerating or using hyperbole, or even drawing implications, but is instead close to verbatim what the man said. He went on to indicate that, while Palestinians currently residing there could continue to live there, they would be the subjects of an explicitly Jewish state and would only have the right to have a say in a hypothetical semi-autonomous local government – again, this is not me drawing conclusions from his words, but instead is close to verbatim what he said. Somehow, he found it impossible to acknowledge that this proposal meant making Palestinians second-class citizens. To the contrary – and now I am making inferences – he seemed to view this as granting Palestinians a significant concession by permitting them to continue living on what he deemed as Israeli land at all. He declined to answer the interviewers rather reasonable follow up question of whether this meant that the descendants of any group living in a place 3000 years ago had a similar right to reclaim that land and rule over whoever might happen to be living there now.

        And sure, if the shoe was on the other foot, there might well be prominent Palestinian leaders advocating similar policies in reverse. The thing is, the shoe is not in fact on the other foot, and whatever Palestinian leaders might want to do, Israeli officials actually are doing it.

        The OP in this instance is about what Israel is actually doing. I do not see how what Palestinian and Arab leaders simply want to do is an effective counterargument.

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      • “If you are saying that, today in 2014, the Palestinians present no true existential threat to the state of Israel, then I tend to agree with you.”

        Other than to its soul, and it doesn’t get much more existential than that.

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      • Aye JR, which is what makes Israel’s intransigence here so maddeningly foolish. You eliminate a people as your enemies only through genocide or by making them your friends or at least indifferent to you. Now, in a time of strength, is the only logical time to make peace with the Palestinians. Jehovah knows the Israeli’s don’t want it dictated to them! But Bibi and his idiots would rather have settlements than a settlement.

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      • Awesome comment . Both this comment and Katherine’s post are things I wish I could write. I can’t, tho. I get too effing pissed off to string werdz into sentences. So thanks, the both of ya.

        One thing that did strike me about all these threads is how uncharacteristically narrow some otherwise objective folks can get about an issue which is crystal effing clear.

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  5. A wonderful essay that is willfully blind to the reality on the ground.
    Israel has an agenda? Please. Does Canada have an agenda right now?
    What is it? (Please don’t mention Burger King).

    Israel has factions, as do the Palestinians. Assigning blame to the entirety
    of Israel because of the actions of a few is willful ignorance. And it’s dangerous
    too. Nixon understood that factions mean differences that can be exploited.

    If we wish to have anything other than a smoking pile of rubble at the end
    of all this, we’d do well to consider factions as well.

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  6. Israel has been dominant, and unopposed in any significant way by the United States, for over a decade, under no pressure to make any significant moves towards peace with the Palestinians. It has taken advantage of this situation in a comprehensive manner.

    There are a dozen dynamics to this but one of the big ones involves something as simple as what happened in the hours following 9/11.

    Israel said something to the effect of “dudes, you didn’t ask for this, you didn’t deserve this, we totally understand what you’re going through and if you need anything, anything at all, just let us know.”

    Palestinian people, however, danced in the street and ululated into the cameras.

    Now, of course, #notallpalestinians applies to this little dynamic but I’m guessing that there are a lot of people in the State Department who see this sort of thing and say “we’re going to hang with our allies and, when it comes to applying pressure, we’d rather apply it against people who we dislike and dislike us rather than people that we like and who like us.”

    That, of course, and the fact that there was a fairly interesting narrative for the 2nd Intifada going on when those 9/11 guys ruined it for everybody.

    The ugliness of “realpolitik” is, as these things go, a fairly new name for a fairly old dynamic. But if you want the attention and sympathy of American folks, you probably don’t want to be portrayed as aggressors. Israel has done a great job of creating a narrative where they’re doing what they’re doing out of self-defense.

    The Palestinians need to do a better job creating narratives.

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    • There’s definitely a salient point here Jay. 9/11 made resistance of the kind that the Palestinians were prone to quite toxic internationally. It was never, let us be clear, morally okay but pre 9/11 some people and a lot of the low info masses would say “well yeah but we know why they’re doing it” and that general attitude inverted.

      The rejoinder, however, is that the majority of Palestinians adapted to that reality. The PA’s behavior in the West Bank in the years since 9/11 has been highly constructive in terms of restraining those kinds of violent attacks and cooperating with the Israeli’s to prevent them. The serious problem is that the PA has reaped utter humiliation as a reward for their reasonableness. The Israeli administrations; lamentably right wing, have kicked the PA’s tires out every chance they get. Meanwhile when Hamas starts kidnapping, attacking or rocketing they get diplomatic concessions. So the message to the Palestinians is “Cooperate and you get a free DVD of Netanyahu hectoring you to watch while the IDF carries your lawn away. Make trouble and the Israeli’s will at least take you seriously (seriously as in blow you the fish up or as in actually make deals with you and stick to it some of the time).”

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      • that depends, in large part, on whether Israel honors its commitment to easing the blockade this time. If that happens, Hamas will have won a pretty big victory, though the cost was way too high. If that doesn’t happen, it will have lost, and the cost will be absurdly high.

        Either way, Hamas played a deadly game, with its own people as its expendable pieces. And Israel was more than happy to oblige by expending them in droves (a tendency of which Hamas was all too aware, and I suspect counting on, knowing that the more schools and hospitals Israel bombed, the more pressure the rest of the world, including their U.S. allies, would put on them to settle, which necessarily meant promising to ease the blockade).

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      • Jay,
        in some ways, yes. When Israel is pissing all over the West Bank, at least Hamas is fighting back.

        [the above metaphor is brought to you by “pissing off the edge of the diving board”, which is an apt, and very jewish metaphor for Israel.]

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      • Kolohe, certainly, though in this case Hamas knew both that they couldn’t fight an actual war with Israel, because Israel’s military is vastly superior to their military wing, and that Israel’s response would be wildly disproportionate, because it always is. So they essentially said, “Come bomb our schools and our hospitals as long as it takes for Europe and America to convince you to end the blockade, please.”

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      • Hamas seems more likely to get what they want for launching rockets than the PA seems to get for playing nice. Which behavior is being encouraged and which one is being discouraged?

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      • Well, there’s a somewhat additional unpleasant dynamic going on with the whole ISIS thing. The more wackiness that ISIS engages in, the less sympathetic the Palestinians come across as being when they do stuff like “launch rockets”.

        One of the things I hoped for the most after Hamas got into power in Gaza was that being in a position of power would force the government to actually govern. You know, like a geopolitical “Party of Five”, Hamas would be Charlie and Bailey all rolled up into one and they’d become good guardians of their siblings.

        Instead, Hamas just turned into the equivalent of a heavy-duty substance abuser.

        So when Hamas starts launching rockets against Israel, even if the rockets all suck and are getting knocked out of the sky by the Iron Dome, it becomes a demonstration of how much like The Terrorists/ISIS Hamas is rather than “here’s how desparate Hamas has been pushed to be”.

        And how in the hell can State really put pressure against Israel for fighting against that? As much as we want to think that everybody wants to be closer to free over there, the rockets make Hamas look nihilistic rather than making Israel look totalitarian. And that bleeds over to the West Bank, even though it shouldn’t.

        The Palestinians need to get better at creating narratives.

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      • Jaybird, do the events the precipitate the launching of rockets matter, for the narrative? I’m on record in this thread of accusing Hamas of sacrificing their people for political gain, so let me be clear, I’m not excusing the firing of rockets. I’m just pointing out that the firing of rockets did not occur in a vacuum. The narrative here is complex, and I see no way of reading it that doesn’t result in the conclusion that Hamas and the Israeli government are complicit in both the rocket firing and the bombing of civilians: Israel acted in such a way (not fulfilling its agreements from the end of the ’06 invasion, for example) that it knew would result in rocket firing, and Hamas acted in such a way (firing rockets) that it knew would result in a disproportionately violent response against Palestinian civilians whose interests Hamas was elected to protect.

        That narrative is messy, though, and we see in this very thread that it’s too messy for some people to bother with.

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      • I’d further add that in a sense, both the firing of the rockets and the bombing are in the interest of both Hamas and the Israeli government. The firing of rockets gives Israel the justification it needs at home, at least, not only to go into Gaza, blow up tunnels, undermine Hamas’ authority within Gaza (not only by destroying its leadership and infrastructure, but by undermining Gaza’s infrastructure and economy in general), but also to take a hard line in the West Bank, as it continues to do despite the West Bank being relatively peaceful. Israel’s actions resulting from the rockets in turn forces international pressure on Israel to negotiate with Hamas (even if indirectly through the U.S. and Egypt), which allows Gaza to exact concessions (e.g., the loosening of the blockade) that strengthen its hold on power in Gaza. It’s a vicious and, quite frankly, stupid circle that benefits no one but the people in power on both sides of the Gaza border.

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      • Perhaps Palestinians ululating after 9/11 had an effect of some importance in Americans’ receptiveness to the Palestinians’ “narrative” (I think more accurately you just mean “cause.” The narrative helps with selling the cause, but narratives come and go; the real issue, I’d guess, is what Americans or others in the world think of the Palestinians’ cause, or claims, or aspirations. I tend to thin any importance of it in American attitudes toward the Palestinian cause was minimal at most.

        But who are you talking to, , who might otherwise have look more kindly on the Palestinian cause in a way that would have had any significance for their real obervable support (i.e. that pattern would be seen in a group like them of any significant size), who was diverted from adopting such views this summer because of what they saw ISIS do? I can’t help but be skeptical that that pattern really exists in very many folks at all.

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      • Well, if we want to talk about what they “should” do, I’m a big fan of a Three State Solution and Israel should just say “You’re a state!” to Gaza and “You’re a state!” to the West Bank and then withdraw and do everything it can to ignore both of them. Maybe engage in commerce, maybe not, whatever. Just essentially pull the hell out of both places and say “don’t start none, won’t be none.”

        I don’t really have a plan for Gaza or Palestine outside of “govern, be nice to tourists, play up what a great place to film a movie you’d be”, that sort of thing. I imagine that they’d get all “remember how nice it was to bomb Israel?” and we’d regress back to the mean. But, in the short term, I think we could have a peace that looked sustainable to most Western eyes.

        I still don’t understand why it’s always a “two-state” solution and not a “three-state” one. How many non-contiguous countries are there in the world? I can’t think of any unless you get all technical with some island crap.

        Anyway, “should” and/or “ought” is not my particular focus because I’m probably in spitting distance of North and how boring would yet another “I agree with North!” comment be?

        So instead of a comment that focuses on what Israel should do and minimizes the role of the Palestinians, Ima focus on the Palestinians and minimize the role of the Israelis and talk about various ways to change the narrative on the parts of Gaza/West Bank that Israel wouldn’t be able to mess with.

        First off, Gaza is Gaza and the West Bank is the West Bank. No more of this “punishing people in the West Bank for shit Gaza does”. Two different areas on the globe, two different governments, two different countries. Sure, maybe they’re besties like Canada and the US, but they ain’t the same thing. If Israel pulls some crap on the West Bank after Gaza goes nutzo (or vice-versa), start screaming “WHAT IS THAT TO DO WITH US???” It’d be like bombing Iraq after Saudi Arabia attacked you.

        For the West Bank, play up the urbane thing as much as you possibly could. You’ve got Jerusalem right there, you’ve got Jordan on the other side, you’ve been steeped in Western Sensibilities. Start screaming about rights and feminism and LGBT issues. Have interviews that explain how the Israelis stole this land from this guy just because he was gay. Force the Israeli government to deny that they stole the land because the guy was gay, that they just stole it. That sort of thing.

        For Gaza, I’d have Hamas come and eat some crow in Warshington. “What do we need to do to be taken off of the terrorist list? Look, we’re just trying to govern and there’s a lot of stuff we did wrong in the past but we want to make amends. We aren’t like what we was no more. We just want to get things normal.”

        Figure out how to make things right with State. Once you do that, run to State like they are your big sister. Israel looks at you funny? “HEY! ISRAEL LOOKED AT ME FUNNY!” Israel sneezes? “HEY! ISRAEL IS TRYING TO GIVE ME A RHINOVIRUS!” Give interviews to this effect. Act helpless and ask “but what can we do?” And don’t shoot missiles.

        The Palestinians need to do a better job creating narratives.

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      • Michael Drew, I’m pretty sure that “Islamic Terrorism” plays a very big role in how Israel vs. Palestine is viewed in a huge chunk of the public. Moreover, the more “Islamic Terrorism” that exists outside of the Israel/Palestine dynamic, the more that “Islamic Terrorism” is associated with stuff like “rocket attacks on Israel” rather than “those poor, poor people have been reduced to engaging in impotent displays of violence”.

        And if you don’t agree, fair enough. I’m just comparing the general attitudes toward the 2nd Intifada from before and after 9/11 and extrapolating out to Islamic Terrorism as it exists today.

        I mean, a question for you: Do you think that the beheadings of the journalists have little to no impact on general opinions of the Israel/Palestine thing? (Personally, I think it does.)

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      • Do you believe me when I say “there are people out there who think that there is a relationship between Israel’s response to Hamas and the recent attacks in Europe?”

        Is that controversial?

        If it’s not, the follow-up question is whether the people who see that relationship are downright wrong or just have a different opinion after looking at similar evidence to the evidence you’ve looked at?

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      • Do you have numbers that show that worsening reaction to the 2nd Intifada over some time period related to 9/11 rather than to… the 2nd Intifada?

        Among whom?

        I do know that I remember that those with whom I was arguing about the 2nd Intifada changed their arguments almost overnight about such things as justifications for the bombing of the Dolphinarium Nightclub.

        Believe it or not, I was arguing against people who wanted to point out that, as horrible as it was, there was some justification for this sort of thing, Palestinians being driven to the point where they were using their bodies as weapons… but, no, I’m trying to google some opinion polls on the 2nd Intifada from July, August, September, October (wouldn’t *THAT* be something?) but not finding anything.

        I don’t think it’s *THAT* crazy to think that opinion might be in the low to mid 30’s in July/August then plummet in October, though. Given my remembery of the arguments I was getting into at the time. But my remembery is not numbers.

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      • I said the other day that the two are related. They quite obviously are. But the invasion of Gaza was only a proximate cause: a bunch of people steeped in cultural anti-Semitism, marginalized where they live, with high unemployment (especially high youth unemployment), lashed out at the (culturally) easiest group available in response to events that not only made them immediately angry but let them express their general anger and frustration. This seems fairly obvious, and in no way excuses or justifies their actions. Nor does it place any blame on the Israelis. It just says the actions of the Israeli government and military were used as an excuse to behave badly.

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      • And in that same way, I suspect that ISIS’s violence will reflect on Hamas.

        I ain’t saying it should, I ain’t saying we should celebrate it. I’m just saying it will.

        To be honest, it strikes me as a banal observation to the point where I’m surprised anyone is disagreeing with it.

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      • Unfortunately, for largely the same reason — namely racism — a lot of people see ISIS’ actions as a reflection on Islam and Muslims in general, not just Hamas. We saw this pretty clearly after 9/11, when people in this country went after Muslims and anyone who looked like Muslims to them (particularly Sikhs). Hell, we saw it in the fact that people had no problem associating a majority Muslim nation — Iraq — with 9/11 despite there being no connection between that country and the terrorist attacks, and therefore had no problem invading that country because of 9/11.

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      • It doesn’t help that ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban and Al Qaeda all have the main goal of creating Islamic governments in their parts of the world and that they use similar methods. It makes it easy to conflate all of them, And since all they all claim to be acting in the name of Islam, several using the word “caliphate”, it’s not as hard as it should be to believe them.

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      • Yeah, just like it doesn’t help that a country that calls itself the Jewish State is bombing hospitals and schools and bulldozing people’s homes.

        Like I said, the association between the worst actions of members of a group with the entire group is the same regardless of the group: racism.

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      • Generally speaking, I think when ISIS is brought up, people generally don’t move in their minds to Hamas, and when Hamas is brought up they don’t move to Hamas. They know where Israel is and they know where eastern Syria and Iraq are, or at least that they’re not the same place. They know these groups are different, have different grievances, want different things, and exist because of different political realities.

        Broadly speaking, I think many people in America have had a negative view of Muslims for a long time (at least since the movie bad guys turned into middle easterners), obviously don’t like terrorism or armed resistance (but can see differences among groups’ claims about why thy do them), and as a majority proposition don’t support their tactics. I don’t think that really rises and falls wrt to to attitudes about one group in particular (Hamas, the PA, etc.) when another starts acting out. I don’t even think it rises and falls much wrt the whole conflated pseudo-ethnicity when a group like ISIS starts acting out. That’s what I was referring to by wondering who’s having their view changed much seeing ISIS. Such people see their views as confirmed by a group like ISIS, but anyone who was able to sort of see the argument for Hamas’ rockets, or just see the grievances of Palestinians as legitimate, before I don’t think will be moved much off of that by seeing ISIS.

        9/11 probably had some greater effect than that, but 9/11 was an obviously outlying event, a Black Swan.

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      • Is that for Drew or for me?

        If it’s for me, I don’t consider them, in their current manifestation, to be a terrorist organization. I think the al-Qassam Brigades were terrorist groups, particularly in the 90s. I think they still attack Israeli civilians via rockets, which is inexcusable. I think they also cracked down on terrorist groups in the Strip in the late Aughts. They’re an elected authority with social welfare programs (predating their election), a complex organizational structure, a military wing that has vowed to keep it military-on-military if Israel stops targeting civilians, and has failed to do so (as has Israel). It’s messy, like the whole damn thing over there. I’m not sure simply labeling them a “terrorist organization” captures the reality or does anyone any good.

        That said, see what I said above about Hamas and its motivations.

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      • Hamas is a charitable organization. it is also a terrorist organization. and it’s trying to be a government, with mixed results.

        Nobody asked me what I fucking thought about Israeli Terrorists, though. Their deeds go unpunished.

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      • Yeah, I suppose I see them as more of a Religious Mafia. When Gaza elected Hamas way back when, I saw it as potentially a good sign, insofar as I saw Fatah as a bunch of corrupt actors, I saw the Gazan election as an example of throwing bums out.

        State still sees them as Terrorists, though, and I think that that means that they are exceptionally limited when it comes to even what communications we’re allowed to have with them.

        They were terrorists once, though. In recent memory, even. Kinda difficult to overcome that.

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      • Jay,
        yeah, it was basically throw the bums out.
        And Hamas didn’t actually want to rule Gaza
        (because ruling is hard).

        I think that the Israeli terrorists are vile and despicable,
        regardless of whether they’re harrassing Jews or Arabs
        (they do both), and I find it extremely troubling that
        Israel stands for them acting in such a way within its borders.

        I think that Israel’s leadership is scared of dying, and that’s
        why they won’t do a goddamn thing to prevent the settlers
        from burning down more houses. They won’t do a damn thing
        about Jewish women getting spat upon or raped, or fires
        being set in the streets, and mobs gathering unopposed by police.

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      • Yeah, they were. The rampant suicide bombings in the 90s were in no small part a result of the al-Qassam Brigades. And the al-Qassam Brigades were the ones who started the firing rockets at Israeli citizens thing, if I remember correctly. Hamas has tried pretty hard to divorce itself from its original charter, and from its terrorist past, but it will never be able to do so completely, particularly when it’s still launching rockets into civilian areas.

        I’m trying to avoid a quip about how the distinction between a terrorist group and an army, in the Middle East, is how big the bombs they drop on civilians are.

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      • Hamas has tried pretty hard to divorce itself from its original charter, and from its terrorist past, but it will never be able to do so completely, particularly when it’s still launching rockets into civilian areas.

        Yeah, life is so unfair that way.

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      • Way back when I argued this stuff all the time, the distinction that made sense to me was whether it was a State Actor. Non-state actor? Ding! Terrorism. State Actor? Well, we have to come up with another name. War Crime, maybe.

        Which puts Hamas in a weird place. They’re kind of the government, but they’re a government that nobody acknowledges. State Actor? Well… kinda…

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      • Mike, I wasn’t defending them. Hamas is Hamas’ worst enemy when it comes to the way people perceive it outside of the Middle East. Israel does everything it can to make it possible for Hamas to set itself up as the victim, and Hamas fishes that up by lobbing rockets into towns. It’s telling that in this most recent invasion of the Strip, virtually the entire world sided with the Gaza civilians, but few outside of the Middle East have sided with Hamas.

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      • They were terrorists once, though. In recent memory, even. Kinda difficult to overcome that.

        That’s why I’m boycotting the Hamasmobile, no matter how well-appointed its fine Corinthian leather interior may be.

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      • Anyone who says that a state that allows terrorists to operate within it with impuny (like Gaza, say…) ought to be boycotted and punished internationally, ought to apply the same standards to Israel and the terrorists it unofficially supports.

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    • Jaybird, the problem with your theory is that unflinching and unquestioning US support for Israel didn’t start with 9/11 – it started with the Clinton Administration, which turned a blind eye to rampant settlement construction even in the wake of Oslo, which was supposed to set up a two-state solution, something settlements are fundamentally incompatible with.

      You’ve confused the cause – Palestinian anger at the United States – with the effect – the US backing Israel to the hilt even when their actions are unjustifiable.

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  7. “Israel is not an idea, a symbol of good or evil, or a litmus test for liberal opinion at dinner parties. It is a small country in a scary part of the world that is getting scarier. It should be reported as critically as any other place, and understood in context and in proportion. Israel is not one of the most important stories in the world, or even in the Middle East; whatever the outcome in this region in the next decade, it will have as much to do with Israel as World War II had to do with Spain. Israel is a speck on the map—a sideshow that happens to carry an unusual emotional charge.

    Many in the West clearly prefer the old comfort of parsing the moral failings of Jews, and the familiar feeling of superiority this brings them, to confronting an unhappy and confusing reality. They may convince themselves that all of this is the Jews’ problem, and indeed the Jews’ fault. But journalists engage in these fantasies at the cost of their credibility and that of their profession. And, as Orwell would tell us, the world entertains fantasies at its peril.”

    http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/183033/israel-insider-guide?all=1

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    • The conflict in the Middle East is as big of a story as it is for a variety of reasons. I’m sure anti-Jewish, and on the other hand, anti-Muslim/Arab bias plays a role, but so does the fact that Israel and Egypt were such important players in the Cold War, that it has been a Western-created and Western-mediated conflict from the start, and it has repeatedly bled out of the Middle East in the form of terrorist attacks and assassinations all over the world. And Israel is a long-standing U.S. ally.

      The tolls of several ongoing conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa dwarf those of the last decade or two of fighting in Gaza and Lebanon, but those people have darker skin, and they’re dying in conflicts that are entirely localized (where “local” means huge swaths of Africa at times), and have virtually no security or economic implications for the U.S. So very few people here care. None of that can be said of the conflict in the Middle East. Attributing its prominence in our media and discourse strictly to anti-Semitism is to fail to confront precisely what you’ve just accused others of confronting: “an unhappy and confusing reality.”

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    • BAAAW, they’re all against us!

      Israel is a small country with NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
      When I mention Genocide, it is with that spectre firmly in hand.

      If neither side wins clearly, what do you want to bet the nukes go off?

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    • Let me ask you something, Saul: is there *any* action the Israeli government could undertake that would make you see them as malignant? Because apparently open ethnic cleansing doesn’t make the cut.

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      • While its perfectly acceptable for other nations, especially if they are genuine third-world Marxist people of color nations, to ethnically cleanse the Jews and have the world react as “oh well, these things happend from time to time. Its all about the stress of modernity and colonialism.”

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      • Lee,
        When the words “Never Again” are said to apply to more than Just Jews, you will have a right to speak, and the moral gravity to compel me, as a citizen of the world to listen.

        Until then, your words are ashes, and may they taste as bitter in your mouth as they do in mine.

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      • I’ve said many times that I think Israel should just withdraw from Gaza and say best of luck to the settlers.

        This does not mean that I am going to let baseless, incorrect, and hyperbolic accusations of ethnic cleansing stand or give up on my belief in Zionism. People don’t give up on sincerely held beliefs very easily and everyone is goodsmacked by commitment it seems. Nor does it mean that I am not going to push back against people who are seemingly willing to ignore the actual extremist beliefs of Hamas and actual history in the Middle East from 1948 onwards and the exploitation of Palestinian refugees by Jordan and other nations to score points against Israel.

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      • This does not mean that I am going to let baseless, incorrect, and hyperbolic accusations of ethnic cleansing stand or give up on my belief in Zionism.

        Says the man whose only argument against it is “you’re just saying that to look radical.”

        Hell, look below. North says it! North, whom no one has ever accused of trying to be a radical. You are the radical here, man. You’re just too blind to see it.

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      • Kim, the world seems to be very kind with repeating the mantra “Never Again” without actually taking concrete action to make “Never Again” is a reality. They have ultimately proved completely irrelevant and untrustworthy when it comes to the human rights of the Jewish people or many other people despite all their noble rhetoric. A nationalist response to the Holocaust is a perfectly reasonable one just as many people find Malcolm X and the African-American nationalist response to persecution in the United States reasonable. I really fail to see why people get all dewey-eyed over Malcolm X and the Black Panthers but treat Menachem Begin and the Irgun is reprehensible evil. The similarities between the groups and the circumstances behind them are more alike than not alike.

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      • Can I say that I don’t think that ethnic nationalism is ever a reasonable response? Not whether it is done by the likes of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, nor whether its done by the Likud party nor for that matter when it is done by BJP and certainly not when it is done by UMNO in Malaysia or the KKK.

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      • , you do not think this way but that doesn’t mean that everybody else does. I’ve met way too many anti-Zionists on the Internet and elsewhere that are very down with Jewish nationalism but rather supportive or sympathetic with other ethnic nationalisms from people they view historically oppressed.

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      • Lee,
        I am not the world. My money does not support the world. My money does go towards terrorists hunters, and to folks who might stop the ethnic cleansing currently ongoing in both Israel and Palestine, and not stopped by the Jewish government in either place.

        Do I support the Black Panthers? Fuck no, but they weren’t systematically raping/stripping/burning places to commit acts of ethnic cleansing, now were they??
        And I’m far more interested in talking about current Israeli acts of terrorism on Jewish citizens and Palestinians, rather than talking about the Irgun (arguably, that was war.)

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      • To be clear, I agree with Murali. I am against all forms of nationalism. I understand and can empathize with their roots, but ultimately nationalism always becomes malignant, worse than the thing it rose to address.

        Don’t get me wrong, Hamas is awful and deserves nothing but contempt. It’s one of the reasons I find Israel’s actions so objectionable; their policies guarantee that Hamas will stay viable, because every time Israel announces new settlements or rolls into Gaza City with tanks and missiles strikes, it’s a recruiting bonanza for those assholes.

        But Lee, Saul, again, it has to be said…if any other country (including this one) were doing these things, you would be unequivocal in condemning their actions. I get it, man, I really do, it kills me to feel like I have to call out my own people on this. But we have to value egalitarianism above tribalism, even when it comes down to our tribe. Otherwise our commitment to the former means nothing.

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    • The reasons Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories matters so strongly to me – beyond the fact that I’ve been there and seen the people suffering from it – is that it represent a violation of the most basic, most fundamental international law: that since WWII nations have agreed it is not acceptable to wage aggressive war, and even more so, that it is unacceptable to do so for territorial expansion. We learned from WWII that it can be exceptionally dangerous to let this law be flouted.

      I was startled by, and powerfully opposed to, the US invasion of Iraq because it involved a nation violating this norm – attacking a country which had not attacked it, and doing so out of clear strategic and economic objectives. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is the same, with the aggravating factor of not merely being an attack, but an attack with the aim of territorial annexation. The Israeli occupation and annexation of Palestinian land is the same things.

      The acquisition of territory by conquest is, short of an unprovoked nuclear first strike, the single most dangerous action to international peace that any nation can commit. That is what makes the case of Palestine stand out from other international conflicts and human rights violations.

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      • “attacking a country which had not attacked it, and doing so out of clear strategic and economic objectives.”

        The strategic and economic objectives for the 2003 Iraq War were clear? That’s giving the GWB administration much more credit than it deserves. (heck, the lack of clarity in either aspect was the primary driver for it being an unmitigated cluster from the middle of 2003 to the middle of 2007)

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  8. Good to know we still have a few unbiased reporters in our American news services over there who haven’t swallowed Palestinian propaganda hook, line, and sinker to bring us the straight, unspun facts.

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  9. KatherineMW,

    There is a Jewish expression that in “the warmest of all hearts, there is a cold spot for the Jews.” You and other anti-Zionists criticize the Zionist movement for what happened to the Palestinians but you don’t have any answers on what we should have done to avoid persecution. The Jews were rejected from the body politic of tens of differents of countries from the late 19th century onward. We were rejected in Eastern Europe, in North Africa, and the Middle East regardless of how long we lived there. The Christians said we were strangers and so did the Muslims includign the Palestinians. The Communists waged an entire culture war against the Jews after the Russian Revolution until the fall of the Soviet Union. We were effectively excluded from the immigration receving nations after World War I or even after World War II when the full enormity of what happened to us was known. The returness from the Holocaust found a hostile welcome in Eastern Europe and a cold one in Western European countries.

    The Jewish community of the Netherlands was particularly devastated by the Holocaust. Three-fourths of them were killed. The survivors weren’t dealt with particularly nicely though. In Amsterdam, people pay are allowed to own their houses but a pay a lease on the land to the Amsterdam government, which owns the land. The Jews who returned home were charged with back lease taxes and late fees for the time the spent in the Nazi concentration camps . When the wrote letters to the Amsterdam government pointing this out, the response was merely to reduce the late fee penalty by half. Such generosity. This issue took over sixty years to resolve and come to light.

    So tell us wise one, how should we Jews have reacted to all this exclusion and persecution? Why do the Europeansn and the Arabs have right to exclude us from the body politic but demand full loyalty from us? You can denounce the evils of Zionism all you want but the Jewish national liberation movement arouse out of some very real problems that we faced as a people. You can’t subject us to national pressure without getting a nationalist reaction back.

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    • If you want to act like nationalists, don’t try to lay claim to be victims anymore either. Really, think about what Israel has done in the last 10 years, Lee and . If it had been an African, Asian, South American, or even European right-wing leader doing the same things Israel has done, would you be defending it as much as you do?

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    • 1) Yes, we have gone through this before. You know my solution, if not Katherines. Move to CANADA.
      3) You are an American. I am not subjecting you to any national pressure if I boycott Israel. That your Jewish parents and institutions have striven to inculcate Israeli Nationalism in you is a very interesting side-effect of their worries on assimilation, and a host of other things. Nonetheless, you ought to be able to recognize all propaganda is malarkey.

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      • Kim, telling the Jews that they could move to Canada or anywhere else is a very flippant answer. Anybody who is following the news should know that mass immigration isn’t exactly popular these days and it hasn’t been this way since before World War I. The United States, Canada, Australia, or any other immigrant receiving nation was not going to allow mass Jewish immigration after World War II and you know it. So stop being flippant.

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      • Lee,
        Sasketchawan is a haven for murderers and rapists (no, not everyone there is a murderer or rapist, don’t be silly). Surely the jews would be better than that? [in other words: Canada has a LOT of empty space. If the Jews weren’t so ayi crazy about going to Israel, they could have grabbed up a good portion. Besides, TONS of Jews came to America after world war II. Your argument is bunk.]

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      • Lee,
        I have not forgotten Exodus. Nonetheless, the immigration of Jews to America after WWII was large and profound. And nobody raised THAT MUCH of a fuss.

        I believe that the World At Large could have forced Canada to open their borders, and create a Jewish area in it. It would have been fairly easy.

        It was far more convenient to give the Jews Israel — because they had already been illegal immigrants to there, and showed no signs of stopping.

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    • Lee, my friend, I hate to say this but your response here is non sequitur.
      Katherine’s post was not about the foundation of Israeli. It wasn’t about Megin or Mier or even Rabin. It wasn’t a naqbah themed dirge about Israeli coming into being.

      Katherine’s post is present tense. It speaks of the Palestinians, specifically the Palestinians in the West Bank, who have been behaving in a quite acceptable manner ever since Arafat died and who have been suffering treatment by the Israeli’s that is absolutely inexplicable unless one reluctantly starts thinking that the Israeli’s care more about land than they do about peace or morality.

      You have not spoken to any of this. Israel’s founding is not in question and the mortality of her birth isn’t the subject. What Israel is doing right now to the Palestinians (and by extension to herself) is the question.

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      • It is not a non-sequiter becuase I believe that the Israeli-Palestinian crisis isn’t about 1967 but 1948, the creation of Israel itself. Even if Israel withdraws from the West Bank, Golan Heights, and everything else, the Palestinians and other Muslim groups would still call for the destruction of Israel and the expulsion of Jews from Israel within its 1948 borders. There is more than enough evidence to support this based on what happened in Israel or through out the Middle East, where other non-Muslim minorities aren’t being treated great. I also believe that many pro-Palestinian supporters in the West would continue to cheer them on if the Palestinain demand Israel proper as well.

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      • Who the fish cares what the revanchist Palestinians yell for after seperation? If Israel was disengaged and the Palestinians (or whoever) yell to destroy them then so the fish what? They can’t make it happen. They can just barely get the heart beating in an Israeli boycott campaign right now with a full fledged blatant land grab and slow moving ethnic cleansing providing them PR oomph. Remove the occupation and the anti-Israeli’s world wide will be waving their flag next to the New World Communist Granola Order fruitcakes (only people will take them even less seriously).

        No, the words the Palestinians could say that should make any Jewsih State supporters’ blood run cold is “You know what? Screw a seperate Palestine; we want our Israel citizenship. We want our civil rights, we want our vote! We want the one state solution. Down with Apartheid!” Only once the Palestinians start chanting that I suspect it’ll be too late.

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      • If wikipedia is to be believed*, support for a singular, multi-ethnic state is much more prominent among (west bank) Palestinians than Israeli Jews.

        *which, on this subject, should be taken with all the grains of salt in the Dead Sea

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      • As with discussions of how much of a threat terrorist groups pose to the US, there’s a tendency on the part of hawks to act as if intent is the only thing that matters, and that whether or not people have the capacity to act on their threats is irrelevant.

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      • North, I can think of lots of people that would care about what revanchist Palestinians want. Millions of other people in the Muslim world who hate the idea of the Jewish state, European politicians that have to deal with lots of perpetually angry Muslim citizens, and their Western supporters.

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      • I care not about caring. I care about effects and so should the Israeli’s.
        Let’s be blunt. The people who matter to the Israeli’s are the low information masses of the industrialized west and the governing classes of the emerging east. If the Israeli’s were disengaged from Gaza then they would have the passive support of the industrialized west pretty much forever. I am not saying they’d be loved. I affirm that some groups might make noise but would any force in the west have the political clout to begin mass boycotts or political sanctions or chilling against Israel? No. And you know that as well as I do.
        As for the East, we both know the governing elite of the East gives not a damn about Israel one way or the other. Maybe -maybe- if they thought they could get more oil by doing so they might sort of consider turning on Israel but we both know that oil doesn’t work that way and that Israel is a better economic friend to have than anyone else in the Middle East. The Chinese and the other Asian power houses would not care. They certainly wouldn’t care to boycott or divest or sanction.
        So if Israel were disengaged (unilaterally) they would eliminate the demographic threat to their nation and cut the tide of anti Israeli sentiment (where it matters) off at the knees. Even if the surrounding Arabs maintained their current hostility Israel would prosper.

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      • Who the fish cares what the revanchist Palestinians yell for after seperation?

        I don’t give a shit what they say. If I lived in Israel, I’d care that the first result of a fully separate, unblockaded Gaza would be access to better weapons. And if I were an Israeli military planner, I wouldn’t have any way to deal with that other than trying to reinstitute a blockade and bomb the launch sites, and if that didn’t work invade. And honestly, it’s not like at the point the world would say “Well, you tried. We’re on your side now.”

        So I’m not seeing the value for an Israeli politician in trying to create a situation that’s unlike the current one only in that the people attacking you are better armed.

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      • FWIW Mike I think Gaza is actually an entirely different fish than the West Bank (which was the thrust of my withdrawal arguement). Hamas is quite obviously a different beast than the PA- more of the flip side of the coin to the Israeli right. Perversly Hamas and the Likud (et rightward) are allies; both seek the same end event (just with different outcomes) and both seek to marginalize and diminish the moderates and peaceniks in their respective camps.
        Withdrawal and disengagement is highly desirable in the West Bank both for demographic reasons, international opinion reasons, long term strategic reasons AND to demonstrate to Gazans that there is a more productive path to their goal than lobbing rockets at Israel. I think the PA has demonstrated the capacity to run the territories in a productive manner and they’ve demonstrated that once the Israeli’s pulled out that the PA would want to prevent attacks on Israel from within the West Bank because it’d cause the Israeli’s (or at least their military) to return.

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      • “because Palestinians, as well as anyone, can read behind the lines of what a single multiethnic state actually means in the case of this territory.”

        So the actual endgame is the subjugation (at best) of the Jewish population of the Eastern Med under a ‘democratic’ mandate? Unlike, say, what has happened in South Africa?

        No wonder Israel’s policy is what it is.

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      • I wouldn’t put it quite so nefariously Kolohe but certainly the Palestinians could look at South Africa and say “if the Israeli’s want to have all the land then they we might as well have most of the political power because there’s more of us or very soon there will be.”

        I disagree strongly about policy though. Israel’s current policy is plunging it headlong towards either a South African Apartheid situation (which occurrs as soon as the Palestinians abandon the 2 state solution and begin agitating for citizenship and voting rights) or mass ethnic cleansing (in which case to hell with the Israeli’s). If the Israeli polity wished to avoid putting themselves in this predicament they’d be doing everything they could to disentangle themselves from the West Bank. Instead their right wing digs them ever deeper into the settlements while they quibble about the demographic math.

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      • North,
        you’re missing the other obvious solution: the palestinians commit genocide against the Israelis, with the obvious nuclear explosions that would entail (Israel is far from a SANE government).

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      • North,
        it’s simple. the arabs already outnumber the jews, and that’s not a trend that’s changing. At some point, force of numbers (plus guerilla tactics) overwhelms trained military. At which point, israel could use nukes — there’s a decently high chance of that (under 10%, maybe).

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      • Not that I should indulge this enormously unlikely scenario but you seem to be overlooking that long before they’d ever consider nuking their own territory Israel would expel (ethnically cleanse) the Palestinians. Hell they’d do it long before they were in serious danger of losing to such a tactic.

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    • I really probably shouldn’t get into this, especially because on so many issues you and I take opposite stands. And I disagree with you on this issue as well. So perhaps I don’t have the standing to say what I’m about to say. But here goes:

      Think about what you are justifying and how you are justifying it. There’s a lot of collective punishment and vicarious retribution in your comment, wherein others have to suffer for the wrongs that still others have inflicted. I strongly suspect that if the contenders were different and the controversy took place in a different part of the world, you would be singing a very different tune.

      I believe that bigotry feels itself aggrieved and justified. If you take any oppressive state or groups of people who benefit from oppression or who otherwise justify it, they will list grievances and special pleading about why it’s acceptable for them to do something that they admit is otherwise not generally acceptable.

      If I were in your shoes, maybe I would be adopting the very reasoning and the very argument you have. I’ve certainly done something similar when the stakes were less high and involved trivial matters. But you’re a smart person, and from what I can tell from your participation at this blog, you’re also a caring person who’s concerned about the suffering of others. And yet you are justifying actions that lead to sufferings of a large number of people.

      I offer this as a friendly rebuke because I think you’re capable of hearing it. And it’s also something I’m going to ask you not to answer on this blog thread. I’m not trying to start a discussion. I’m not asking you to answer my comment publicly. But I am asking you to consider, in private and for your own self, whether I’m at least right.

      This is my only comment on this thread and it’s going to stay that way. I’m not going to otherwise enter the conversation here. As far as this particular thread is concerned, I’m not going to read any more of the comments or engage the conversation further. But, while this is presumptuous of me for a lot of reasons, I do ask you to examine your conscience.

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      • , there are two issues involved with Israel-Palestine. One issue is that where would the Palestinians be without Israel and the answer is obviously that they would be in a better place. There is no way anybody good make a good faith argument that the existing history is the best possible for the Palestinians.

        The other issue is that where would Jews be without Israel and the obvious answer to that is in a bad place. Per the link I posted above, millions of Jewish refugees from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa found a safe place in Israel. This was absolutely necessary for them. Their alleged home countries did not want them and other countries did not want them either. There is a lot of flippancy or elephant in the room behavior about our situation. I have met too many people oh so concerned with the wretched of the earth with little or no concern for us. The argument seems to be justice for all the oppressed but the Jews who do not really count as truly persecuted. I am sick of it.

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      • It isn’t a matter of not believing Jews are oppressed. It’s a matter of believing that Britain didn’t have the legitimacy to “give” land that never belonged to the British to Jews as a national homeland (and later a nation-state).

        Trying to rectify the crimes of the past by giving away territory that’s inhabited by other people has typically been a poor idea, and one that is productive of conflict. A similar situation, from what I understand of it, occurred in Liberia when the US decided it was a good place to ‘repatriate’ black freedmen to – the American freedmen (who came from all areas of Africa) had power over the people who were living in Liberia, and that’s contributed to the country’s civil wars and conflicts. Similarly, Sierra Leone saw ethnic conflict between its native population and people whom the British had freed from slave ships and settled in that area. Neither of those populations had claimed, en masse, as vociferously as Israel, the right to an ethnically-defined state, but the problems have a similar source.

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      • The closest modern equivalent to the Israel-Palestine situation really isn’t that far away from them:
        Asia Minor -> Specifically the Greek claims to the Megali Idea on one hand, and on the other Turkish nationalists who dreamt of a revived Ottoman Empire, or at least a pan-Turkic state that would include say, Cyprus.

        Now, the difference there is that Turkey is a sufficiently powerful state that was capable of fighting back against Greece, and that it was an extremely important regional power for the US.

        If the Israel-Palestine conflict were instead, between say Israel and say a Transjordanian-Syrian Hashemite state, the whole dynamic would be substantially different.

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      • I have met too many people oh so concerned with the wretched of the earth with little or no concern for us. The argument seems to be justice for all the oppressed but the Jews who do not really count as truly persecuted. I am sick of it.

        Are Jews still the persecuted and oppressed? Moreover, in the context of the state of Israel are they, in fact, oppressed?

        It’s not flippancy to state that the historical oppression aside, they are not, in fact, the oppressed in the current situation.

        Anymore than the Chinese are the oppressed when they’re dealing with Tibet because 70 years ago they were under occupation by the Empire of Japan.

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      • , considering whats happening to the Jews of Europe and the sheer anti-Semitism in the world these days, I’d say that Jews are still being oppressed. At least in some parts of the world.

        I’d also argue that at the height of Jewish oppression, there were lots of very humanitarian people who really didn’t care and didn’t consider the Jews oppressed either compared their other pet causes.

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      • Does the fact that ethnic Chinese are persecuted in areas of Southeast Asia negate the behavior of the People’s Republic of China in how it deals with minorities? Or the fact that say Turkic peoples are oppressed in the Xinjiang make Turkey’s treatment of ethnic kurds any less reprehensible? You seem to be asking for a separate standard on how the treatment of Jews should be judged versus other ethnic groups that have ethnic home states with questionable practices and, rather implicitly, seem to be buying into the same animating premise that drives some of the anti-semitic attacks against Jewish enclaves in Europe: Namely that there’s collective guilt around the actions of Israel.

        Further, can you substantiate the claim that European Jewry is in fact being oppressed? Have there been a sudden resurrection of pogroms and property restrictions that have flown under the radar? You accuse others of hyperbole and exaggeration, but there’s a certain level of that going on when you claim anti-semitism is on some inexorable rise.

        I really don’t think your latter claim holds up very well. At the very least the Enlightenment era concerns with emancipation were primarily focused on Jews and Catholics, over that of say enslaved blacks, and even in the case of caring for the blacks or aboriginies or native populations, those were considered fundamentally inferior, while Jews were considered “assimilatable”. Now that’s certainly driven by prejudice, in that they need to be converted to be worthwhile, but that’s a different claim from saying that “people who cared about oppression didn’t care about Jews”.

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      • It isn’t a matter of not believing Jews are oppressed. It’s a matter of believing that Britain didn’t have the legitimacy to “give” land that never belonged to the British to Jews as a national homeland (and later a nation-state).

        By the time the British came to have a mandate over Palestine, Jews were already on their way to making up a sizable minority of the population. And by 1948, Jews were over 30% of the Palestinian population. Britain did not “give” the Jews in Palestine anything.

        If you are going to make an argument, you ought to base it in historical reality and not in the narrative that best suits your preferred perspective.

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      • Nob,
        Jews have a lot invested in the whole “being oppressed” idea.
        I’ll believe that when you assure me that Japan actually had some elements of anti-Semitism in the past 20 years (and not a ridiculous fad for conspiracy theories).

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      • JR:
        So your claim is that the Balfour declaration and everything behind it hadn’t happened? Historically the Palestine Mandate of 1922 was pretty much the turning point for increasing immigration of Jewish populations. We’re talking going from about 14% of the population (from the First and Second Aliyahs in the late 19th/early 20th century) to the 30% figure in the 40s. The Mandate started in 1922, but the original declaration (and the tacit Arab support during the First World War) was in 1917. Given that the majority of the population growth among the Jewish population in the Mandate areas was from immigration, it certainly was British policy that encouraged and enabled the future-Israelis to move into the Mandate.

        Pretending the Balfour Declaration and the politicking behind the Hussein-McMahon correspondence didn’t happen is pretty disingenuous.

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      • Nob,
        Jews have a lot invested in the whole “being oppressed” idea.
        I’ll believe that when you assure me that Japan actually had some elements of anti-Semitism in the past 20 years (and not a ridiculous fad for conspiracy theories).

        The sort of antisemitism that exists in the world today is mostly an Abrahamic religious tradition, which makes it really hard for it to take root in a non-Christo-Islamic country. I mean there’s the crackpot conspiracy theories about Jewish power, but that was viewed as a positive thing (and is a product of bad translations from 90 years ago) and not something that people really think about in Japan.

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      • Nob,
        I agree. But I literally had a class in college where the professor was talking about Japanese Anti-semitism — jews actually sent people to Japan to tell them that the Elders of Zion stuff was made up.
        I tried telling her she was wrong… but she wouldn’t hear of it.

        Jews invest a lot into the idea of being persecuted. It has traditionally been a large part of how they have kept the religion going — “don’t go out there, they hate you!”

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      • I won’t deny that Japanese people sometimes have very strange stereotypical views of foreigners in general. But the attitude of Japanese people toward Jews in general is that they’re very savvy, smart, and rich despite having suffered terrible persecution. It’s certainly a sort of ethnic stereotyping, but to call it antisemitism would be like labelling white people saying “asians are good at math and video games, right?” as being the equivalent of the Asian Exclusion Acts and Internment camps.

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      • No. I recognize the role that Britain played in allowing Jewish immigration to Palestine, although it should be recognized that there was a continuous Jewish minority in the area for hundreds of years prior and that the immigration began in earnest under the Ottomans.

        If you think that the British should have heeded the Arab demands and stopped Jewish immigration, though,that is a perfectly reasonable opinion. What I object to is trying to turn an anti-immigration argument into an anti-colonialist one.

        The whole idea that the British gave Jews “Palestinian land” is simply not historically accurate. Jews immigrated and settled on land that was either uninhabited or that they purchased from previous owners. I understand that this represented a threat to the Arabs living in the area in the same way that I understand that some Americans feel threatened by what they see as unsustainable levels of Hispanic immigration to the United States. I still think that it is bogus though.

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      • Given that the language of the declaration (which was later put into the Treaty of Sevres) stated:

        His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

        It’s pretty close to the British basically saying “Yeah, we’ll turn this mandate into a national home for you guys.”

        It’s colonialist, at least, and in that sense the whole enterprise is predicated on Palestine’s inhabitants having no say in the matter, both in the Ottoman Era and in the Mandate era.

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      • I mostly agree with you on this thread, but I think you’re veering off course by suggesting that those stereotypes aren’t anti-Semitic. I can’t speak to Japanese culture at all here, but I’ve heard a lot of particularly nefarious stereotypes along these lines coming out of the mouths of a troubling number of immigrants from outside the Abrahamic religions (specifically, I’m thinking of a number of Chinese immigrants I’ve encountered). “Savvy, smart, and rich” can easily be a thinly-veiled way of saying “conniving, greedy, and in control of the entire world,” and in my experience, it often doesn’t take much for even that thin veil to fall off. This strain of the stereotype you mention, of course, is an old stereotype that has historically been used as a pretext for horrific actual oppression of Jewish people. That said, while it is historically a pretext for horrific oppression and is a problem that must be addressed, it is not the oppression itself, and can exist without any actual oppression, which requires direct participation and/or complicity in anti-Semitic-inspired actions by political or economic elites.

        I think this distinction is your actual point here, though, so I think your problem here is more with the terminology you’re using. I think your underlying point isn’t that there’s little anti-semitism outside of the Abrahamic religions, but rather that there’s a difference between anti-semitic attitudes and meaningful oppression, and that whatever anti-semitic cultural attitudes that may exist globally and that may present their own separate problems, there’s not much today that we could call “oppression” of Jewish people in any meaningful sense outside of certain Islamic and Christian nations.

        Regardless, I think it’s necessary and appropriate to acknowledge that anti-Semitism is pernicious and is very much a global problem. It is absolutely essential to be on guard and wary of situations where these attitudes are being used to drive policy towards Israel. At the same time, however, I think it’s also simultaneously fair to say that, at this moment in history, these anti-Semitic views are not driving policy towards Israel or Jews outside of certain Islamic and Christian nations, and that there are indeed a limited number of countries where these views are at a critical mass where they might drive policy.

        Your other core point, that oppression of diaspora members abroad does not justify or diminish oppression of other groups at home, is a particularly important and helpful one, I think. That is especially true when that oppression involves land grabs that implicate principles of international law which have underpinned perhaps the most peaceful era in human history. What Israel is doing with its settlements is functionally indistinguishable from what Putin has been attempting to do in Ukraine, the latter of which has rightly resulted in widespread and escalating sanctions by the US and EU, yet the notion of either entity acting similarly in response to Israeli land grabs is viewed as somehow beyond the pale.

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      • It’s pretty close to the British basically saying “Yeah, we’ll turn this mandate into a national home for you guys.”

        We don’t have to settle for “basically saying.” We know what the eventual proposition was: for partitioning Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state and an international Jerusalem.

        It is very easy for us to sit here on the sidelines and say that partition sucks and the only just solution is for one non-ethnic, democratic state based on universal enfranchisement and the protection of minority rights. Was that really a viable option? Certainly there are lots of Jews and Arabs who could and who would abide by such an arrangement, but there are also lots of extremists on either side who would not and who would do everything they could to push the two sides to conflict. And that is what happened.

        In light of that, the two-state solution looks like a pretty good second-best alternative. Of course, you can also argue that the Jews have no business being in the area at all, but that requires a the contradictory stance of saying that the Arabs have the right to exclude the Jews from the are based on ethnicity and religion, which is the same thing for which you are criticizing Israel.

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      • You’re right that many times stereotypes, even positive ones, are a sort of backhanded compliment. My point was less that such a thing didn’t exist, but rather that the attitudes that fed into the institutional oppression of Jews has a religious and cultural basis that isn’t shared as widely as people may think. While I think it’s certainly true that Euro-Near Eastern attitudes toward Jews certainly colors the stereotypes that create the backhanded stereotypes, I think there’s still a gulf of difference between that racism and outright anti-semitism. There’s a lot of cultural and religious baggage that comes from anti-semitism that simply isn’t shared by the rest of the world.

        Basically, part of my point is that there’s a slight difference between ethnic stereotyping, however distasteful, and full out anti-semitism which has an additional historical and religious basis to it.

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    • Too tired to click on link?
      “We learned about these confessions from the Israeli investigation,” Mr. Meshal added. He went on to describe the kidnapping as a legitimate act of Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation.

      Another senior Hamas official who currently lives in Turkey, Saleh al-Arouri, one of the founders of Hamas’s military wing, was taped at an Islamic scholars’ conference in Istanbul describing the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers as “a heroic operation by the Qassam Brigades,” referring to Hamas’s military wing.

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  10. Katherine:

    We all know it is about living space or rather “Lebensraum.” The Israelis want the land but not the people. It won’t stop until the world recognizes a Palestinian state.

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      • I can’t figure out Barry’s complaint. Saul wrote a coupla posts defending Zionism and whatnot, and Katherine write as far as I’m aware the only post critical of Israel here at the league (I don’t read everything!) and Barry’s had enough with us.

        Is he pissed about the post or the comment section which has been largely pro-Israeli?

        Who knows with this guy?

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      • I wouldn’t even say the comment section if mostly pro-Israeli. Let’s count

        Pro:
        1. Lee
        2. Saul
        3. Mike Schilling
        4. Jaybird
        5. j r

        Anti:
        1. Kim
        2. Chris
        3. Patrick
        4. You
        5. Me
        6. North
        7. Nob
        8. Jesse

        Neutral:
        1. Kolohe
        2. Michael Drew

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      • Yahbut j r wrote *alot* of posts!!!

        Hmm. Mebbe. Still, I’d say that the claim that “still the same” needs explication. If there’s balance (which is very near where the truth lies!) then I’d want to hear what Barry’s beef is actually is.

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      • I doubt anyone here believes that Israel does not have a right to exist, or even to defend its people. It seems that the people here who have been critical of Israel are criticizing specific actions undertaken by the government of Israel and some of its people. In short, I don’t think anyone here is anti-Israel.

        I mention this not because I think you, Murali, don’t recognize this distinction, but because on this topic, that distinction is often lost on people, including at least a couple of the people in your “Pro-Israel” list.

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      • Mebbe Barry can re-enter the procedes to inform of us on our worries. I’d bet that he’s pro Israeli. And that he thinks the issue isn’t even worthy of debate. My evidence is that he didn’t respond to any particular comment, but rather Katherine’s post. Sameolesameolelibrul(what?)horseshit, yahknow? Bleery eyed rose tinted idiotic lunatics that they are.

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      • Barry is one of the more committed people on the left we have had posting here so perhaps not. He might be an even more committed social democrat than or me. Most of Barry’s posts have been very anti-libertarian and very anti-Republican as I recall them.

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      • All things considered, I can’t tell.

        So good point. He responded to an anti-Zionist article but it is impossible to determine whether it is the article or the comments he is responding to and which comments. So good point.

        Maybe he thinks we are too civil…

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      • that distinction is often lost on people, including at least a couple of the people in your “Pro-Israel” list.

        A shame we’re not smart enough to keep up our end of things. I mean, this is exactly like a discussion about any other country, because all of those go back 100 years and claim that its founding was illegitimate and it has no right to exist.

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      • It’s totally different from how all those English-speaking people somehow replaced the native populations in New Zealand and Australia, or how all those Albanians wound up in Kosovo, or all those Chinese people in Singapore, or all those Germans disappeared from what’s now western Poland.

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      • Katherine said the origin of the state of Israel was unjust. That’s an arguable point without claiming that the current existence of Israel is unjust. It is also possible to argue that Israel’s stance (and behavior) toward the Palestinians is unjust without arguing that Israel’s existence is unjust.

        Lee, on the other hand, has consistently (not just in this thread, but in pretty much every thread on Israel) treated all criticism of Israel as an attack on Israel’s existence, and on Jewish people. Saul comes pretty close to that consistently. It’s not a matter of intelligence, it’s a matter of blind partisanship.

        Also, I doubt you’d have a hard time finding here, or pretty much anywhere people more than a bit left of center reside, people who believe that much of the founding of this country was unjust, because of its reliance on slavery and the dislocation and extermination of the native population. We actually had that conversation here not too long ago. Or Australia, where the indigenous population was hunted like animals, herded into what amounted to small pox camps, and allowed to die off, in some cases entirely (as in Tasmania), while the ones who survived were forced to speak English and adopt European culture (including Christianity). I’m sure we’d hear something similar about South Africa as well, where Europeans fought several wars over who got to subjugate the native people.

        We’re having a conversation about Israel a.) because Saul has brought it up in front page posts several times, b.) because shit’s going down there now, and c.) because it plays such a large role in American foreign policy, and has for half a century.

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      • I’m just wondering why one gets brought up in every discussion and the others never get mentioned. Really. I don’t know how many articles I read about Solidarity back in the day, and not one mentioned that much of Poland’s territory had been annexed from Germany after WWII, with its former population of about 15 million people relocated at the cost of upwards of a half million deaths. I mean, there are people who consider that kind of thing genocide.

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      • The annexation and deportations were done, of course, not by the Poles, but by the Soviets, to compensate the Poles for the territory taken during the 1939 partition of Poland between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The Soviet Union violently changed quite a bit of the map of Eastern Europe in those not-so-long-ago days, which you’d think might get brought up during the current situation in Ukraine. It doesn’t, of course. There’s only one country with no statute of limitations.

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      • It is in fact very different from how the Chinese population got to Singapore. For one, the Chinese population did not so much replace the native Malay population, but join them. And while there were a number of (admittedly unjust) forced relocations in the 60s, those were compensated. Those who were forced to relocate were provided more hygienic public housing which also had better facilities. If the Israeli government were only doing this, all those dislocated Palestinians would instead be Israeli citizens now.

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      • Yeah, no one criticized the Soviets for what they did in Eastern Europe. Ever. Not what they did to Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, etc. I suspect that younger people, people who weren’t raised primarily during the Cold War, may not even be aware that parts of Finland, Poland, and Germany pre-Winter War and WWII, are now permanent parts of Russia. They may not realize that the reason Crimea is majority ethnic Russian is because the Soviets sent a bunch of Russians there (and offed or relocated a bunch of the existing population). Russia bashing is only just becoming popular again. We’ll get there.

        Israel, on the other hand, is still in the midst of a deadly conflict over the land that has been contested since 1948, or earlier, a conflict that has resulted in several wars with neighboring countries, Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon for decades, terrorism in Europe and the U.S., and an ongoing humanitarian crisis. Why on Earth would people talk about the origins of that?

        Seriously, if you and Saul don’t understand why we’re talking about this issue and not Soviet annexations, I don’t think anything I could possibly say would help. It’s so obvious that the only reason someone wouldn’t see it is because they’re deliberately looking the other direction. And once people talk about the origins of such things, they’re going to offer opinions. It’s the internet; that’s what people do here.

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      • Katherine said the origin of the state of Israel was unjust. That’s an arguable point without claiming that the current existence of Israel is unjust.

        If that is a true statement, I would like someone to point to any state whose founding fits this definition of justice. All nations are founded on the principle of somewhat arbitrary national identity and the exclusion of people not contained therein.

        Also, I would just like to point out that I am not pro-Israel in any Israel-Palestinian conflict sense. As I said in another comment, it’s all crips and bloods to me. You got a bunch of people with guns trying to wipe out some other group of people with guns and whole lot of innocents (and some not so innocents) caught in the middle.

        I just find it odd when people take such strong positions on either side, so to the extent that I get involved in these conversations, I will appear to be taking the opposite side of whoever is making the argument. I find much of Israel’s behavior in regards to the Palestinian territories largely morally and ethically repugnant. At the same time, the Palestinian leadership has been making the wrong decisions for about the past 100 years.

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      • Ask and ye shall receive . I believe the current running list of immaculately conceived states on the planet runs:
        -Definitely: Iceland, Greenland
        -Possibly/Mostly: Some of the small nations in the Pacific

        That is all; though nominations for immaculately conceived states remain open.

        Just a reminder, to qualify for the title of immaculately Conceived a state must have been founded without any of the following:
        >A war
        >Any previous indiginous population that was exterminated or conquored.

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      • I would also like to note that, for the record, I am deeply pro-Israeli. I have several friends who live in Tel Aviv, I am a staunch supporter of the Jewish state’s existance and think the world is better off that Israel came into being than it would have been had it not.

        My objections to Israeli policy are very much in the tone of sassy gay friend screaming “Girl what the hell are you doing?!? Are you trying to kill yourself?!?!?!” In a situation where Israel is behaving self destructively (the current situation for instance) I would submit that only people who voice criticisms of Israel can honestly be considered pro-Israeli.

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      • By that admittedly low standard, Modern Singapore is immaculate (as was the medieval kingdom of Singapura until its destruction)

        Singapore was not conquered so much as gifted to the British by the Sultan of Johor in exchange for assistance in a civil war against his brother.

        The kingdom of Singapura has no records of any settlements prior to the Srivijayan prince Sang Nila Utama landing and settling on what used to be called the island of Temasek.

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      • Murali, I just referenced Wiki on the subject, per Wiki:

        Temasek (‘sea town’), a second century outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya empire, is the earliest known settlement on Singapore. The island was part of the Sri Vijaya Empire until it was invaded by the south Indian Emperor Rajendra Chola I, of the Chola Empire, in the 11th century.[12][13] In 1613, Portuguese raiders burned down the settlement and the island sank into obscurity for the next two centuries.[14] Nominally, it belonged to the Johor Sultanate during this period.”

        So it sounds like the island was fought and killed over so I’m dubious about whether we can safely say the Sultan of Johor and his people were the original peacable settlers or not. For the record, mind, my own native countries of Canada, America (and their parents England, Spain, the Netherlands and France) are soaked in historic blood and murder up to their eyebrows.

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      • It is not clear if the wars with the Portuguese count. Those are not wars that the founders of the state undertook in order to displace inhabitants. After all, they took place some time after the kingdom of Singapura was established. It is also the case that there is little continuity between the Portuguese attacks and the later possession of Singapura by the Sultanate of Johor. The Portuguese burnt the existing settlement to a husk then left. If the sultanate later came along and decided to set up an outpost, it is not they who violently displaced the original inhabitants. With respect to the time period in which the sultanate acquired the island, there wouldn’t have been any inhabitants left (having all been killed some time ago by the Portuguese). The mere fact of having been fought over some time during its history does not make a country’s founding suspect. What is required is that the invaders/displacers are successful, that they set up social, legal or political institutions and that the current social, legal or political institutions have some genealogical relation (including being explicitly and radically reformed/replaced by some legislative/executive act) to the ones that the invaders set up. There is no such relation in Singapore. Perhaps there would be if the sultan of Johor invaded and displaced settlements when he took over, but that did not happen to be the case. After the Portuguese burnt down singapura, it was a pirate haven.

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      • I will happily bow to your superior knowledge of your own nation’s history – it certainly sounds like Singapore is closer to the pristine end of the spectrum in the circumstances of her founding than the more bloody one that so many nations inhabit (and I’d emphasize the horrific mountain of skulls that the western nations were erected on top of). There’s little doubt in my mind of that. I hesitate only because clearly there were people there in some manner and of course colonialism tends to leave greasy historic fingerprints on everything it touches. That said this is far from a black and white thing.

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      • I’m with you. I’m not anti-Israel; whatever my issues with Israel’s founding, others who point out that that is ridiculous standard to hold a country to are correct. I would like Israel to succeed and thrive, but I find the policies of their government, especially post-2000, to be deeply objectionable, and I find the religious fanatics they’ve nestled to their bosom especially troubling. Guys like Avigdor Lieberman are bad news, and bad for Israel as a polity.

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      • Fair enough. It is entirely possible (and more than merely probable) that there is some whitewashing of history going on. The coolie labourers who migrated here lived in horrible unhygienic conditions and a lot of this can be attributed to discriminatory land policy.

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      • It’s totally different from how all those English-speaking people somehow replaced the native populations in New Zealand and Australia, or how all those Albanians wound up in Kosovo, or all those Chinese people in Singapore, or all those Germans disappeared from what’s now western Poland.

        In basically every thread involving Israel-Palestine, I’ve brought up past examples of partitions and population transfers.

        Look if the Cyprus issue were to flare up again or Northern Ireland become an issue again, or maybe Kalinigrad be a problem, there’s going to be condemnations on how those territories wound up something else. I mean the criticisms of Russian attempts to take pieces of Eastern Ukraine and specifically the Crimean Peninsula were, in fact, pointed out that the forced relocation of Crimean Tatars was part of the problem and that, that was, in fact, unjust.

        The only reason there’s no statute of limitations is because this is an ongoing issue with a still extant state.

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