Thursday, April 27, 2006

Why We Cannot Talk With Hamas

Over at, Ran HaCohen in his Letter from Israel points out why most, if not all, reasons invoked by Israel and the West for refusing to negotiate Hamas are dishonest and almost certainly designed to promote Olmert's plans for "unilateralism", also dubbed in politicospeak as "convergence", a "solution" that would give Israel practically carte blanche in defining its borders with the Palestinians. As a relatively moderate non-Jewish, non-Palestinian bystander, I've become increasingly convinced that Ran is right when he writes:

Polls show that a majority of the Israelis support negotiations with Hamas, but official Israel refuses to talk to it, at any level. Israel instead launches a worldwide campaign to persuade all countries to boycott Hamas and to join its military and financial blockade on the newly formed Hamas government. If starving the Palestinian people is the outcome, so be it: the Arabs should learn the price of democracy.

Why can't Israel talk to Hamas? Several arguments are given; are they valid – or just excuses?

1. Because They Don't Recognize Israel

Hamas recognizes Israel de facto: unlike many Arab states in the past that officially referred to Israel as "the Zionist entity," Hamas mentions Israel by name in its notorious charter; but it does deny Israel's right to exist, its existence de jure.

Is this a good reason not to talk to Hamas? Hardly. Hamas' non-recognition may be stupid, childish, and unrealistic: no one really believes Israel will disappear in any foreseeable future, or that non-recognition makes any difference. On the other hand, Israel's apparent insistence on this issue is just as silly, childish, and unrealistic, and for the same reason. If Hamas had the power to annihilate Israel, it would have done so with or without recognizing it first.

Many forget that this game has a precise historic precedent. Just like the Hamas Charter of 1988, the PLO has a charter too, written in 1964, which described the establishment of the state of Israel as "entirely illegal" (Article 19). Nevertheless, Israel had no problem talking, negotiating, signing several agreements, and cooperating widely with the PLO in spite of its charter. While signing the joint Declaration of Principles in 1993, Israel indeed demanded that the charter be changed; but it wasn't changed until 1998, and even the validity of this change was disputed (it was the Israeli government that tried to persuade the public of its validity).

The question of recognition is therefore a fake argument against talking to Hamas. Just like Arafat in his time, Hamas has already released messages about its willingness to recognize Israel, and just like it did with Arafat, Israel could be satisfied with those ambiguous hints and postpone its demand to modify the Hamas Charter to a later stage, if Israel were interested in negotiating with Hamas.

2. Because They Are Terrorists

Legally, this is a very good argument, and has therefore persuaded many countries on the globe to outlaw Hamas. I for one truly believe that terrorism – i.e., violence against noncombatants – is a despicable and unacceptable atrocity. Politics, however, is not about legalism. Israel's political echelon has been doing its utmost to blur the distinction between terrorism and legitimate resistance to the occupation. The Israeli media represent the entire Palestinian resistance to the occupation – by stones or bombs, in the occupied territories or in Israel proper, against soldiers, settlers, or civilians – as "terrorism." Israel's state terrorism – like the present bombing of Gaza, where civilian homes are intentionally within the error-margins of Israel's artillery shelling – are accompanied by propaganda that blurs the concept of terrorism in a similar manner: Israeli politicians and media justify Palestinian civilian casualties by accusing them of supporting violence against Israel, or, in the present case, of not stopping Qassam missile launchers (surely the 9-year-old girl killed in an Israeli shelling last week could have done much more to stop Palestinian militants).

Last week supplied rather embarrassing evidence for this. Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni – a lawyer by profession – mentioned the obvious legal distinction by saying that Palestinians who killed Israeli soldiers were not terrorists. Obvious distinction? Not in Israel: her words provoked an immense scandal, including calls for her resignation, and the minister was reproached for "legitimizing terrorism," no less. In an amusing twist, Livni was then accused of trying to clear her father's name of the "terrorist" etiquette: Eitan Livni was "director of operations" for the Irgun, a Jewish nationalist group that fought against British rule in Palestine. The hidden assumption behind this funny accusation is that the Zionist militias in the 1930s and 1940s did not target civilians – historical nonsense, of course, as historian Tom Segev reminds in his weekly column in Ha'aretz:

"On July 6, 1938, Irgun people snuck a bomb into the produce market on Hamelachim Street in Haifa. […] 18 Arabs were killed and 38 wounded in the operation. Two days later, Irgun people carried out an attack in Jerusalem; four Arabs were killed. Ten days after that, the Irgun returned to the Haifa market: 27 Arabs were killed and 47 wounded."

So terrorism is not a reason for not talking to Hamas – it's just an excuse (and a pretty good one too, alas). One should also remember that Hamas has never struck outside Israel/Palestine, so that any attempt to portray it as part of global terrorism is futile. Moreover, Hamas has been observing, almost without exception, the Tahdiyya or "lull" it took upon itself a year and a half ago. (The Qassam missiles and occasional terror attacks on Israelis are the work of other Palestinian organizations.) There is massive evidence, therefore, that in spite of its radical Islamist rhetoric and its support for terror attacks, Hamas is predominantly a Palestinian liberation movement, which, like so many other liberation movements in history – from the Irgun to the FLN – resorts to terrorism as a (deplorable, but not inherent) tactic.

3. Because They're Corrupt

As if these excuses were not enough, there's now a new argument against Hamas: their newly appointed director-general of the police forces in the Interior Ministry, Jamal Abu Samhadana, is described not just as a terrorist, but as "a corrupt Mafioso." I came across this highly original argument in a column by one Moshe Elad (on Hebrew Ynet), a former senior army officer now in academia. (By the way, a military career is an excellent ticket into Israel's universities: the officer's Palestinian collaborators become the professor's "informants.") The argument is interesting because of its ludicrous transparency: the entire PLO leadership during the Oslo years were in fact Mafiosi, using their close, monopolistic economic ties with Israel's business elite to enrich themselves by exploiting the Palestinian masses; Israel cooperated with them eagerly. It was the PLO's corruption, and its selling out of Palestinian interests to Israel, that made Hamas win the Palestinian elections. What disturbs Israel is not the alleged corruption of Hamas, but the fact that, unlike Fatah, Hamas is not willing to be co-opted.

With Whom Will Israel Talk?

The entire Israeli political spectrum – from Likud and the far Right to Meretz and the Zionist Left – are now in love with imposing a diktat (euphemized as "unilateral measures") on the Palestinians, without any negotiations with them (euphemized as "negotiated with the international community"). There is overwhelming political support for this futile "peace" policy in the new Knesset, and Israel believes the U.S. will give its usual automatic backing. Under these circumstances, a Palestinian partner is Israel's nightmare, not its dream. Palestinian President Abbas is not a Hamas member: he recognizes Israel's right to exist, he deplores terrorism, and he isn't even accused of corruption. Still, Israel refuses to negotiate with him. If we don't talk with Abbas, why should we talk to Hamas, now that we believe we can impose our colonialist visions unilaterally? As long as the pervert vision of "unilateralism" guides Israel's policy, excuses for not talking to the Palestinians will be mass-produced by Israel's propaganda industry.

Closing comment:

It's clear that without a valid negotiating partner, Ehud Olmert will at least be partly pressurised and cornered by that faction of more radical Israelis who see any form of withdrawal as surrender, or even, more absurdly, as "ethnic cleansing". A non-negotiated and one-sided definition of Israeli borders can only lead to a unsatisfactory territorial situation for the Palestinians, giving cause to prolonged and possibly intensified war between the parties involved. Needless to say, militarily Israel cannot lose such a war. But in the longer term, a further entrenched Israel cannot be good for the Israelis, the Palestinians or the Middle East at large.


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At 7:28 PM, Blogger Sophia said...


This is an excellent post and it is going to give me an excuse not to post tomorrow but just to link to it on my blog.

Just few comments:

On the recognition issue: This is an asymmetrical demand. Israel exists as a state and has wide international recognition. Does Palestine exist ? And which Palestine Israel is ready to recognize if they are willing to do so ? So lets not talk about great principles but about facts on the ground. Israel regretted Oslo and everything they have done since is creating a dead end for any peace talks by fabricating facts on the ground making it impossible to pave the way for a viable Palestinian state or either for the recognition of the civil rights of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

The terrorrism issue: Israel is a state built on terrorrism. You just have to look at its history and how zionist militia drove Arabs from their villages and killed them.

The unilaterlaism issue: First Arafat was not a partner, than Abbas was a partner but this did not stop Israel from continuing to conduct its unilateralist policy. So Abbas was in fact no partner for peace. Now Hamas is no partner for peace. The truth is Israel does not want to go into peace talks.
The unilateralism issue is in fact a great word for focal and tiny unilateral withdrawals meant to preserve the jewish ethnicity of Israel. It is shocking the international coverage the Gaza withdrawal got in the news but in fact this was an ethno-demographic measure. Unilateralism should be called Ethnic cleansing because this in fact what it is.

Many people in israel are against unilateralism. They are not in the mediatic hype there, they know the land and they know their own history. Unilaterlaism is bad for peace, period. However, Israelis are ambiguous when it comes to peace talks, they don't have a cear idea what they want. Don't forget that this is a mosaic society not a homogenous one and it is very difficult to rally around a big project, one common future, so they prefer to go on with the present situation, specially that now Israel has got too much power and international support. Too much power is sometimes not good for anybody and Israel is using this power in full gear. This is making the Palestinians miserable but it is also damaging Israelis future.

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Elliot said...

Are you telling me that Israel's pull out of Gaza was a Bad Thing??

"Gaza withdrawal got in the news but in fact this was an ethno-demographic measure. Unilateralism should be called Ethnic cleansing because this in fact what it is."

Since I doubt that when you talk about Ethnic Cleansing you mean the Jews who were taken out of thier (although by definition that is what Happened), Can you explain how Pulling out of Gaza Ethnicly Cleansed the Palestinians??

At 3:26 AM, Blogger Sophia said...

The Gaza disengagement had one good aspect: the breaking of a taboo. Israel being able to pull its settlers from Palestinian land. However, it did not change things for Palestinians, it even made their lives worse after than before the disengagement. Israel is controlling all Gaza entries, closing them whenever it pleases and hindering seriously Gaza's economy and the movement of its Palestinin inhabitants.
There are many aspects to the Gaza disengagement (hitnakut).
-Gaza has no historic and cultural significance for the jewish state, no sacred places.
-Putting the peace process under international auspices in 'Formaldehyde' (those were the words of Sharon's FM Weissglass)
-Reverse ethnic cleansing I must say. I know that some zionists used the expression to accuse Sharon of ridding Gaza from its jews but reverse ethnic cleansing as seen from the palestinian side is ridding Israel from its Arab population. Sharon's plan was to evacuate the settlement situated in heavy populated arab areas but he and Olmert after him have no will to evacuate the jewish settlement situated in lightly populated arab areas. The idea behind this is that heavily populated arab areas were changing the demographic of the jewish state. in the long run, the jewish state will not be able to stay jewish. ben Gourion used to say that Israel needed a percentage of 60 % jews in a given geographical area in order to secure its jewishness. So the Gaza withdrawal was a calculation to reequilibrate the demographics of the jewish.
This is why Olmert is talking about convergence or hitkansut, translated more accurately as introvergence by the Economist.

Because Israel does not want to give a viable state to Palestinian,, the other option that may come to haunt them is the One state solution. But what worries Israel in this solution is how to keep its jewish demographics. So in order to be able to do both, no state, no civic rights, israel proceeded to disengagement and then introvergence, keeping the Palestinian suffocating and spiraling into chaos and violence.

''Mr Olmert now calls it not hitnatkut, “disengagement”, but hitkansut, or going-into-oneself, often rendered as “convergence”. A better word, if it existed in English, would be “introvergence”. It is a fitting description. Israel plans to tuck itself in behind the barrier it began building four years ago in the West Bank, withdraw from the land on the other side, pull the settlers living there back over, and hunker down.

As well it might. The plan, though still vague, involves keeping three large settlement blocks that jut out into the West Bank, hindering Palestinian movement. The current gap between Maale Adumim, the largest settlement, and Jerusalem will be filled in with houses, slicing the Palestinian area into two. Almost all of Jerusalem, which is a core Palestinian as well as Israeli city, will be inaccessible to Palestinians. Israel will keep control of the border with Jordan and possibly also the sparsely populated Jordan Valley, as a security buffer. Otniel Shneller, a Kadima candidate who used to head the Yesha Council, the association of settlement mayors, says Israel could also keep its settlements in and near Hebron, arranging shared access to the tombs that are sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

A Palestinian state under such constraints would not prosper. So long as Israel controls its borders, it would not even count as sovereign. It would be much like Gaza since the disengagement. Citing intelligence reports of planned terrorist attacks, Israel has kept Gaza's main border-crossing for goods closed more often than open since the start of the year, causing serious food shortages and leaving Gazan fruit and vegetable exports worth millions of dollars to rot. Such friction between security and economics would keep the West Bank poor and angry, encouraging attacks across the border.''
I hope I did answer your question.

More info:

At 3:41 AM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Hi Gert,

Just a few comments:

Why all the deleted comments of late? Just curious.

In her comment, Sophia mentioned that Israel was a state built on terrorism. The historical record says otherwise. The Jewish State (or State for the Jews) was only formally declared in 1948, the same year 700,000 Arab Palestinians were ethnically cleansed by a variety of forces. But it can be argued, as many historians do (see Ze'ev Sternhell), that the state really came to fruition in the 1920s and 1930s. The hegemonic Labor Zionists quickly established a state infrastructure with its own economy, government, regular elections (first in 1920) and social services for their Jewish constituents. At the r time that 'Israel' was being established it, it was not using terrorism. If one is to say that ethnic cleansing did occur at this time, than they must concede that it was done throug legal land purchases. This is not terrorist. This would change in the 1930s with the rise of the Irgun, Etzel, Lehi,etc and the Arab revolt in the wake of the Peel Commission. Yet by this time the State was already built. The Declaration of Independence, other than incorporating non-Zionist haredi Jews into the state umbrella, was a formality.


The post is interesting but your pre-amble is what I want to comment on. Israel is a hot topic even by those who do not share a cultural-religious connection to those involved (Jew or Muslim) as you identify yourself. (Maybe I should not ignore the Christian interest in the region). Nevertheless, noticing your recent increase in blogging on the topic, I am wondering what about Israel (and the Palestinians,etc) has caught your attention? I have always wondered why there is such a keen interest in this country and conflict considering that this is not the only conflict zone in the world. Nor is it the place where the gravest human rights violations are committed.

Thanks Gert.

At 8:18 AM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

For Starters the person who psted as Elliot is me (no that's not my name), I was editing another blog/website, and didn't notice that that user name was still up.

Anyways, As for Gaza, I will say 2 things,
1. Israel controls it's borders. Israel has 2 very long borders with Gaza and it controls them, just like it controls it's borders with Jordan and Egypt. That means they can decide when, who and how much to let in to thier country. and they don't need to give any reason to do so.
2. In the 6 months since the pul out of Gaza, nothing produsctive has actually happened there. Instead of building the place up, They have decided to attack (or continue to attack) Israel. There are rockets fired everyday, there are attempts to get past the border, and there are arms beeing smuggled in. There was even another attempt to blow up the Karni passage - an attack that was stopped by the (abas controlled) PA Police.
My question is this, When are they planning on doing something productive? when is anyone in Gaza going to take responsibility and start caring for it's own people??
They are spending more time tryong to hurt ISrael than they are trying to do good for their own people. And even if this Jihad Doing it, we have already seen That Hamas, at least supports them, and at best helps them out.
Just to make it clear I am against Olmerts Plan. I think that doing something like that will only harm everyone and will cause a huge conflict in Israel. When there is someone to talk to on the other side (even if we did recognize Hamas - they would still not talk to us - and they already stated they don't want peace - they want a long term ceace Fire), we should resume negotiations and put and end to this conflict.

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Sophia said...

I don't know why you are adressing Gert for things I wrote.
First you must know that Gert has nothing to do with a comment removed by its author. If he was removing the comments it would be 'comment removed by the administrator'.
Second, if you read history documents you will know that jews were in Palestine before 1948, so do you mean that the founders or the founding fathers as they call them cannot be held accountable for actions perpetrated before 1948 ?
Third you write:''But it can be argued, as many historians do (see Ze'ev Sternhell), that the state really came to fruition in the 1920s and 1930s. The hegemonic Labor Zionists quickly established a state infrastructure with its own economy, government, regular elections (first in 1920) and social services for their Jewish constituents. At the r time that 'Israel' was being established it, it was not using terrorism. If one is to say that ethnic cleansing did occur at this time, than they must concede that it was done throug legal land purchases. This is not terrorist.''
This is simply not true. I understand that you are a student in history, when I say that Israel was built on terrorrism, I mean it. You speak of land purchase but these purchases were made either under the british mandate laws or under laws fabrictaed by the Israeli occupier. Arabs had little to say about that. Early on, land was even sold by tenant farmers, people who actually didn't possess the land initially.
Israel is still 'purchasing' and even grabbing land from arabs by any means and most importantly by the means of Israeli laws as the laws of the occupier.

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Sophia said...

You may want to check this also for your information:

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Economist link

At 3:04 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Hi David,

Hope you are well.

Regards the current deletions, they're all by their authors; presumably some have inadvertently created duplicate comments or changed their minds. With censorship this has nothing to do (you didn't imply that), although I have suffered abuse recently and WILL hit "delete" if I feel it's necessary...

"Nevertheless, noticing your recent increase in blogging on the topic, I am wondering what about Israel (and the Palestinians,etc) has caught your attention? I have always wondered why there is such a keen interest in this country and conflict considering that this is not the only conflict zone in the world. Nor is it the place where the gravest human rights violations are committed."

I simply feel this conflict is a pivotal one. In Israel you could argue the three monotheisms clash violently, with the potential for more wars. If the Israeli/Palestinian question could be resolved, I believe it would have a positive influence on the entire region and the relation between the ME and the West.

Last but not least, the plight of the Palestinians does move me. If the conflict had happened here in Europe, we would have probably suffered a European Civil War. But placed in the ME, Europe feels obliged to rather sheepishly follow US policy.

At 3:34 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

The economist does the best reporting on the middle east I must say. Thanks for giving the link properly. This is something I don't know to do in the comments section: how to show links in this way and not the whole thing. I should find if I spend more time trying to find out.

At 4:05 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

''Hi Sophia,

Thanks for clearing up the deleted msg's issue, I was also referring to other instance in which someone has deleted comments to a piece. I guess I addressed your comment on Gert's piece just to consolidate the debate instead of having it all over the place. I was hoping you would respond, perhaps I should have posted it on your site.

Now to our debate of Israel being built on terrorism. You have clearly shown that Israel was in fact built on land purchases (whether under Ottoman or British rule). This is still not terrorist meaning the use of politically motivated violence against non-combatants. This would occur later on and, as you have noted, occurs today but that is well after the state was already established.

There are some other excellent examples of States being built on terrorism. Consider Revolutionary France where Maximilien Robespierre was justifying the use of "terror" (he actually uses the word) against what he perceives as enemies to the "state" and revolutionary cause. Revolutionary France was the ideological birthplace of modern terrorism.

According to your view of a state built on terror, modern Britain, Canada, Australia and America are also states built on "terrorism." The emergence of liberal-capital Britain was based on the Highland Clearances which helped establish the industrial economic complex necessary for a modernizing, capitalist state. The building of the Canadian and American nation resulted in the destruction of the indigenous culture through disposession and violence. Australia did the same with their indigenous population. Most Balkan nations (like Greece and Serbia) relied on land clearances, and ethnic cleansing, to establish themselves. Israel is not unique in this case but the argument can be made that it is a more benign case. But of course that is all due to ones bias and interpretations. ''

Hi David,

I didn't mean that you should adress me on my blog, I only meant that in your comment, you adressed Gert by naming him while you were speaking of some of my comments.
This is why I am answering on Gert's blog. I don't want either to fractionnalize the debate.

Now you say:''You have clearly shown that Israel was in fact built on land purchases (whether under Ottoman or British rule).'' You are making me say things I didn't say. Answering your justification of the foundation of Israel as 'land purchase' and not 'terrorrism', I said that even land purchase (when there was purchase I should have added to make things more clear to you) was done without the will of Palestinians. I didn't say actually that Israel was founded on Land purchase. There is a big difference here.

That other states were built on terror, as you try to show, does not constitute a refutation of the fact that israel was built on terror. This was my whole point.

At 4:44 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Sophia, we are arguing whether Israel was built on terror or not. I assert that the establishment of the State, on the ground and not officially, was without the use of terrorism but rather through infrastructure building and land purchases. You believe it was built on terrorism but it seems you do not distinguish between the two (land purchases and terrorism). Yes, selling land to the Jews was against the will of those Arab-Palestinian peasants who were the ones to really suffer. But it was not against the will of the Arab landowners who made large profits of selling land to the Zionists. Nevertheless, while you state that you really mean Israel was built on terrorism, you have yet assert it or even define what you mean by terrorism. Otherwise, I am unable to understand exactly the point you are trying to make.

You are right that that other nations were established through terror and land clearances does not refute the fact that Israel was in part. What it does do is provide some context for our criticism of the state and its nationalist movement. If we view any country in isolation, as unique and seperate from the world, then it is much easier to view it in pejorative terms but this does nothing to advance our understanding. It only advances the policization of debates that go nowhere.

At 5:05 PM, Blogger Gert said...


"You are right that that other nations were established through terror and land clearances does not refute the fact that Israel was in part. What it does do is provide some context for our criticism of the state and its nationalist movement. If we view any country in isolation, as unique and seperate from the world, then it is much easier to view it in pejorative terms but this does nothing to advance our understanding. It only advances the policization of debates that go nowhere."

I concur with that but in the Israel/Palestine situation we have something that is fairly unique in today's context: the nation building issue of Israel remains unresolved, seems to many to continually change and is clearly obstructing another people to build a nation on land to which they also are entitled.

To simply equate Israel's formation and ongoing project to other, past nationalist projects is therefore a little spurious: not that many other nations today continue to make territorial demands, at least not unchallenged.

At 5:10 PM, Blogger Sophia said...


1) That other states were built on terror does not refute the fact that israel was built on terror and does not justify the fact that nations must be built on terror.
And this is what you are doing, justifying the foundation of Israel by terrorism with the fact that other states were built on terrorism, when you assert: ''You are right that that other nations were established through terror and land clearances does not refute the fact that Israel was in part. What it does do is provide some context for our criticism of the state and its nationalist movement.''

2) Therefore it follows that you are in contradiction with yourself when you refuse to admit that Israel was built on terrorism while trying to justify at the same time the fact that Israel was built on terrorism.

At 5:44 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Hi Gert,

It is a common tendency to view Israel and the conflict in unique terms. This has been due to a few factors: 1) Historical tendencies to view Jews as outside the "nation" or the "global community of nations" 2)the tendency by Jews to view themselves as unique and different 3) the tendency by Israeli scholars, and normal Israelis, to view Zionism as a wholly unique nationalist movement ("a Light unto the nations" 4) The tendency by Arab scholars, and many Western scholars, to view Israel outside the realm of comparative analyses for political reasons. 5) the mirroring of the Arab-Israeli conflict in Middle Eastern scholarship which sees very few Arab scholars attending conferences in Israel and vice versa.

Regionally, Israel is seen as the "other." It is not viewed as a part of Europe. Attempts are made to lump it into the West but this categorization is only half-true.

That being said, the view of Israel, its conflict, its society, its history, etc. as unique has been shattered by the leading academic research on the topic.

In terms of the conflict, there are many other similar conflicts in this world. Northern Ireland, Kashmir, Tibet have similar traits to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While not identical, they are some interesting parallels that we can not overlook.

I'll give you the most interesting case of comparison between Israel and other nations. Israel is not a full liberal or consociational democracy, but rather one that gives preferences to Jews over Arabs while still giving Arabs citizenship and civil rights. The state is not etnically neutral and works to advance the cause of Zionism and the state's Jewish character.

This democratic framework is not unique to Israel. The same situation has held true in other countries. Such as Northern Ireland Germany, Canada up until 1970s, Malaysia. These, like Israel, can all be classified as Ethnic Democracies. Denmark's flag (the cross) is similar to Israel's flag (the Star of David). Both are important religous symbols. In most Christian states, christianity and its culture are hegemonic just like Judaism and Zionism are in Israel. Those considered outside the nation (many muslims in France) experience discrimination just like the Arab

(Check out Michael Barnett's 'Israel in Comparative Politcs: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom' - Chapter 1).

I can recommend some more academic pieces if you are interested. Or check out the academic journal entitled 'Israel Studies' for some excellent, and highly respected, articles.

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Sophia, we seem not to understand each other.

By quoting my response so selectively, you betrayed my point. I will say again,I agree with the idea since other states have been built on terror it does not justify/excuse Israel being built on terror. This statement was in the framework of the argument you were making that I was justifying or excusing Israel based on the assumption that other countries also did it. I clearly stated I am of the opinion that Israel was not founded on terrorism. So that comment that you used to point out my contradiction was only a response to your allegation in principle.

I hope we can return to the real issue in our debate. (We obvisously know where both of us stand). How do you distinguish between buying land and terrorism? Explain how Israel was established through the use of terrorism.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

I think we are not getting anywhere here. My point was that Israel was founded on terrorism and your point was refusing this while justifying it.
If we have to return to the beginnig of the argument because now 'Game is over' for you I would like to highlight that in your first comment you aknowledged that what you mean by foundation is what precedes 1948 and you seemed to aknowledge terrorrism after this date because of course nobody can deny Deir Yassin massacre.
Since the foundation of israel is an evolving matter as Gert rightly said, even here your argument still weak. Irgun was conducting terrorrist acts on Arabs civilians and british officials in the thirties, these acts slowed with WWII to resume in 1947 and still culminating to new highs since then.

The pre 1948 terror acts were under the british mandate, they started to be recorded after 1948 at UN,although not all of them.
For pre 1948 terror see:
Zionist terrorrism

And do you really think that all these land transformations were by purchase ?
Maps of Palestine

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

Sorry, the link for the Maps of Palestine was trunked.
here is the one:
Maps of Palestine

At 7:10 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

MAPS of Palestine

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Gert said...


The point you make in your comment at 5:44 PM is that Israel's nation building effort isn't unique.

All nation states are essentially blood-soaked land grabs, born from forceful ethnic cleansing. Mankind's march to independent states is a march over dead bodies. Consolidation of the nation state comes with the construction (and largely fabrication) of Nationalist myths and the creation of national identity, also largely a baseless artefact.

I agree. And in that light the Israeli/Palestinian question is not unique.

But what does this change to today's situation?

Haven't the Jewish people obtained enough land for its people to live on? In a comment to my How the West was Wrong post, you asserted that some 200,000 Jews lived in Palestine in 1936. In 2005, an estimated 5 million Jews live in Israel (80 % of the Israeli population), and an estimated 200,000 - 400,000 live in West Bank settlements.

Israel covers 77% of the British Mandate, with only 22% controlled by Palestinians. How much more territory has to be conceded to Israel before it's satisfied with its nation building efforts? To some Israelis, all of remaining Palestine and possibly chunks of its neighbours too, to further the goal of Eretz Yisrael, that much is clear.

Elsewhere, in a comment to Israel and Palestine: the West's culpability you state:

"A bi-national solution is neither viable nor realistic. To me it is a contradiction in terms. The whole premise of nationalism is that one nation can not live in the midst of another nation. Only until both sides renounce their nationalist desires (which they won't) will this idea work."

Repeatedly I have asked you what then you envisage as a solution. You refuse, for some reason, to be drawn on this subject. Am I to conclude that you too are in favour of the continuing Jewish colonisation of Palestine? Am I to conclude that you feel justified in this because it wouldn't be a unique situation?

Please do elaborate.

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Sophia:I am not denying terrorism existed. My point is that terrorism did not found, nor is the foundation, of Israel. Too many factors were at play that founded the Israeli state. I am not an expert in this topic yet based on the academic research I have done up until this point, this is my conclusion. You are welcome to your own based on your own research.

Gert: Sorry, but I do not understand the point you are making here in regards to Israel as a unique case.

In regards to conflict resolution, I have little insight. I do not like discussing it because I feel like i have nothing to offer that debate that hasnt already been said over and over. For me, the peace process is not the most interesting dynamic in Israel/Palestine.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

It's very intersting how you use the Term terrorism.
What Israel did before it's creation was terrorism and there fore Israel is not legitamite.

But what the palestinians are doing in Israel today is not terrorism - so that's ok.

I like how you can use the same terms to show how one side is wrong but while the side is totally ok.
I am still trying to figure this one out.
Can you clearify what constitutes as Terrorism in your eyes?

At 1:04 AM, Blogger Sophia said...


The discussion was about the foundation of Israel. I didn't pronounce any judgement on the other side. Although it is very difficult to define terrorism nowadays where any resistance to violence exerted by the other (and I say resistance, I don't say retaliation) is automatically labeled as terrorism, the list I will give you below will give you an idea on what I consider as terrorism:
Killing innocent civilians is terrorism;
Stripping people from their homes and their land is terrorism;
Stigmatising someone to the point where his life becomes threatened is terrorism;
Meddling criminally in other countries internal affairs is terrorism;
Occupying other people's countries and land is terrorism;
Ethnic cleansing is terrorism;
Pushing an entire nation into despair is terrorism...
Denying a human being the elementary attributes of humanity is terrorism...

And so on...

At 8:34 AM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

wow - Sophia,
Occurding to your logic - I don't think there is a country in the world that is NOT terrorist.

So let's see, Israel is terrorist - that's clear,
France is Terrorist - ethnich Cleansing!
Germany is terrorist - If I really have to go into this one,
Russia is terrorist - Occupation, Cleansing, and MORE,
UK is is terrorist, - Occupation, Cleansing, Destriying houses,
America is Super terrorist - Im sure you agree
All of south America is terrorist - killing innocent people,
Spain is terrorist - cleansing jews and muslims,
Italy is terrorist,
Most arab countries - are terrorist - destroying houses, Ethnic cleansing,

Am I missing anyone - oh China, Japan, Africa. Im sure there are more I just can't think of them now. Oh ya of course - The PA and ALL it's factions (that's occorsing to you not me)

So much for the word Terrorist maybe we should just say people from now on - it makes a lot more sense occording to you.

Your attempt to redefine Terrorism as "Any thing that Israel Does" is a little amusing - but I guess you don't really have a case otherwise.


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