Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Jew with a Particular View on Burglary

My home was burgled recently, so I went to the local Police station to report the crime.

Initially the coppers were real helpful and after offering me a nice mug of strong tea took my statement. I was then made to wait for a short while, as the officers skedaddled off, presumably to assign me a case number and inform me about any follow-up. My hopes weren't that high but got dashed completely when the case officer broke the news to me.

In essence, he said, there was nothing the Police could do for me. Stunned, I inquired about this unexpected turn of events and the officer gently broke the news to me: my 'burglary' wasn't considered a real burglary because it didn't meet the 'Threshold Requirements'. 'Threshold Requirements?' I gasped, 'what the Lord does that mean?'

'Your house is really small, isn't it Mr Suchandsuchabody?' asked PC Plod softly.

Truthfully I answered that, yes, it was really on the small side, we were actually looking for somewhere a little roomier but hadn't gotten round to it yet...

'Well, we looked up the dimensions of your dwelling on the National Computer and it's too small. Below a certain size, burglaries are no longer considered illegal...'

I nearly lost my patience there and then and was advised to calm down, unless I wanted to be charged with 'wasting Police time'.

Flabbered, I was escorted out by one of the coppers. Slipping through the revolving doors, he whispered in my ear: 'Listen, I'm not supposed to tell you this but you could always go and burgle someone else's property, provided it doesn't meet the Threshold Requirements, of course'. I muttered a feeble 'Thanks!' and went back on my way to my too small castle...

No, the above never happened, of course. There are no 'Threshold Requirements' on size for a burglary to qualify as such. Not in Britain and nowhere else either...

And yet, if you believe certain Zionists, size should really matter in such cases. Take the blogger A Jew with a View (AJwaV) for instance. His ridiculous 'When Pictures Speak Louder Than Words' post rehashes the old idea that Israel is so small that it can't constitute a land grab.

By and large this little cowpad of a piece consists of pictures designed to convince us just how miniscule tiny Israel really is (and thus below the 'Threshold Requirements'), even if, as AJawV does, you rather deceptively colour everything from Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights in the same cool blue. Thus Israel gets compared to scale with the Arab world, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Great Britain and (please don't tempt me) Lake Michigan:



Lacking really is only a picture of Planet Earth taken from the Moon: on those pictures Israel is practically invisible!

Zionists say the darnest things...

36 Comments:

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Jew With A View said...

Congratulations for totally misrepresenting my post.

Also, just to clarify: 'zionist' = any person who supports Israel's right to *exist*.

Presumably you have no problem with Muslims supporting the right of 22 Muslim nations to exist...?

It would also be great if you would stop misrepresenting how modern Israel came into being. Nobody 'stole' anything.

Palestine was always home to several distinct groups. Palestinian Jews have been living there for the past 3500 years - continuously.

The challenge for the British, then, was to fairly divide the area. The Arabs most of it in the form of JORDAN which takes up around 80%.

The fact that this area was originally promised to the Jews never gets mentioned, but it's fact.

Nevertheless, the Jews were happy with the small sliver of Palestine they were given - but the Arabs went beserk at the notion of any Jewish state, no matter what the size. Hence the attack by SIX Arab armies simultaneously on the new state of Israel.

 
At 3:30 PM, Blogger Jew With A View said...

Again, had you bothered to read the post, you would see *why* I was posting the various maps.

Perhaps if you had any decency, you might have posted your comments on my blog, so that I could have responded. Instead, you declined to do so and and preferred to bash my blog without even offering a right of reply.

Hardly honourable behaviour.

 
At 3:44 PM, Blogger Gert said...

As with several of you, you have quite the gall commenting here, all the while deleting my comment I made at yours. So be it.

"Also, just to clarify: 'zionist' = any person who supports Israel's right to *exist*."

A very self-serving definition. Nothing to do with automatic RoR for Jews/no RoR for those who were truly indigenous at the time then?

"It would also be great if you would stop misrepresenting how modern Israel came into being. Nobody 'stole' anything."

Israel stole almost all of what is now 'Israel proper' and is about to steal the rest of historic Palestine.

"Palestine was always home to several distinct groups."

Is the talk of a real racist: for all I care the Palestinians were made up of 20% Japanese, 40 % Belgians and the rest whatever. It's immaterial. Except for Jewish supremacists like you.

"The fact that this area was originally promised to the Jews never gets mentioned, but it's fact."

One can't promise someone something that doesn't belong to one. Even by British Imperialist standards that was rather rich.

"- but the Arabs went beserk at the notion of any Jewish state, no matter what the size."

Had Israel II been poofed into existence anywhere else, the locals would have resisted it just the same. No one likes to cede land to interlopers. But do keep believing that it's due to 'Bad A-rabs'.

And keep reading FrontPageMag. Very informative for FlatEarthers...

Honourable behaviour?? You're funny, you know that?

 
At 4:36 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Your burglary analogy stands on shaky ground because the Land of Palestine lacks a title deed. The UN partition of 1947 atempted to rectify this by formally dividing it into a piece for the Jews and a piece for the Palestinian Arabs, but the Arabs chose to reject the plan and spend the next twenty years trying to kick the Jews out. They failed, and in the process lost control of their own piece of the Land of Palestine, and that was the way things stayed for the next forty years. Then in 2005 Israel decided to hand the Gaza Strip over to Arab control to see if they might use it to live in peace this time. The gratitude Israel received for this unilateral move was the kidnapping of one of their soldiers, and thousands of rockets raining down on Israeli towns lying within the piece of land granted to the Jews in the UN partition.

So while I applaud your dedication to the people of Gaza, who we all agree are suffering terribly, please do try to bear the context in mind. Jew With A View's piece carries information which can help towards understanding the bigger picture.

 
At 7:23 PM, Blogger Elly said...

Phil:

Having studied the I-P conflict for over twenty years I don't need an education on it from the likes of AJwaV or from you (by the looks of your comment).

As regards, 'context' and the 'bigger picture' what is manifestly absent from any analysis you or AJwaV might want to offer is 40+ years of Occupation and Colonisation, considered illegal by the entire IC, including Israel's perennial benefactor, the US.

And so for those like you, who must have suffered a lobotomy at birth (where that 'sense of justice' should have developed), I recently wrote this little spoof of your worldview regarding Israel:

>>>>>>>>>
One Day not long ago the Good Lord poofed Israel v 2.0 into existence, this time replete with pret-a-porter Zionist settlements in Gaza and WB (and very few in Sinai), a good chunk of Egypt, a small slice of Syria and the South of Lebanon. Due to a Clerical Error Upstairs, the New Land of Israel, to which the Good Zionists of Brooklyn and environs flocked, contained also some 20 % ‘non-indigenous’ people, people without a language or religion of their own, so Not Real People, referred to as Philistines, Fakestinians, Pseudostinians or simply ‘The Teggogists’.

Only a few Holy Days later and generic A-rabs (from ‘Arabia’) got it into their heads to try and steal Israel and drive the Good Brooklyners into the Sea. Good Israel resisted like David fought Goliath and said A-rabs have been languishing in so-called ‘refugee camps’ [sic] ever since, desperately trying to make missiles out of mud and dreaming night and day of nothing but killing the Good Zionists.

For no good reason at all and out of the Goodness of their hearts, the Biblical People decided to give the Sinai to the People of Egypt (considering what the Pharao had previously done to the Good Israelites - ancestors of the Good Zionists, that was quite a concession!)

But when they tried the same largesse with the People of Lebanon, things went wrong and more generic A-rabs of S. Lebanon, mysteriously sympathetic to the Fakestinians, decided to fire missiles into the Holy Land.

In an even stranger twist, the then Dear Leader of the Good Israel decided foolishly and unilaterally to withdraw (well, disengage!) about 10,000 of the Good Zionists from Gaza, only to find the Fakestinians decided to follow the example of the A-rabs of S. Lebanon (almost a People but not Judeo-Christian) and fire missiles into the Holy Land!

Thus the Good Zionists had learned a lesson: never to concede any of the Good Land of Israel II.

Amen.
<<<<<<<

 
At 8:13 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Dear Elly

Lobotomy notwithstanding, I am happy to report that my sense of justice remains keen, that I endorse neither occupation nor colonisation, and that I sympathise greatly with the Palestinian plight. But until you or someone else can persuade me otherwise, I remain inclined to believe that those travesties would not have come to pass if the Arab world had not initiated war against the fledgling Israeli state. And I am also inclined to agree with the conclusion of your story, because I can certainly understand why a government might be wary of making concessions when the previous time had simply made matters worse for everyone.

Amen

 
At 8:59 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Phil:

The Elly above is actually me, due to confusion between to Google accounts on the same computer.

"But until you or someone else can persuade me otherwise, I remain inclined to believe that those travesties would not have come to pass if the Arab world had not initiated war against the fledgling Israeli state"

No one in the entire world would have accepted the UN partitioning plan: it was wholly unfair to expect the indigenous population and overwhelming majority of the people living there to accept such a tremendous loss of territory.

From early on in the Zionist project, Arabs resisted it in the same way the Native Americans tried to resist European settlers: they feared (and boy were they right!) to become displaced and dispossessed people in their own land.

If the people from West Yorkshire tried to do the same in East Yorkshire, I would be one of the first to man the barricades.

As regards the 'injustice' of Arabs waging war on the 'fledgling' [cough!] Jewish state, I suggest you carefully read this interview with Shlomo Ben-Ami (former Israeli Foreign Minister and Israeli negotiator):

SHLOMO BEN-AMI: Well, for all practical purposes, a state existed before it was officially created in 1948. The uniqueness of the Zionist experience, as it were, was in that the Zionists were able, under the protection of the mandate, of the British mandate, to set up the essentials of a state — the institutions of a state, political parties, a health system, running democracy for Jews, obviously — before the state was created, so the transition to statehood was a declaration, basically, and it came about in the middle of two stages of war, a civil war between the Israelis and the Jews and the Arabs in Palestine and then an invasion by the Arab armies. The point that I made with regard to the war is that the country, to the mythology that existed and exists, continues to exist mainly among Israelis and Jews, is that Israel was not in a military disadvantage when the war took place. The Arab armies were disoriented and confused, and they did not put in the battlefield the necessary forces.

So, in 1948, what was born was a state, but also original superpower in many ways. We have prevailed over the invading Arab armies and the local population, which was practically evicted from Palestine, from the state of Israel, from what became the state of Israel, and this is how the refugee problem was born. Interestingly, the Arabs in 1948 lost a war that was, as far as they were concerned, lost already in 1936-1939, because they have fought against the British mandate and the Israeli or the Jewish Yishuv, the Jewish pre-state, and they were defeated then, so they came to the hour of trial in 1948 already as a defeated nation. That is, the War of 1948 was won already in 1936, and they had no chance to win the war in 1948. They were already a defeated nation when they faced the Israeli superpower that was emerging in that year.

 
At 9:00 PM, Blogger Gert said...

[snip]

AMY GOODMAN: And Shlomo Ben-Ami, your response to those who continue to say that at that time, at the time of the establishment of the state of Israel and before, that it really was empty, that Jews came to a place that was not populated.

SHLOMO BEN-AMI: Of course, it is nonsense. I mean, it was populated. Obviously, it was populated. I mean, the notion that existed, I think it was Israel Zangwill, the first to say that we are — we came a nation without a land to a land without a people. Obviously, it was not true, but again, part of the tragedy was that the Palestinians, as such, did not have — the Palestinian peasants did not have the full control of their own destiny. Part of that land was bought by the Zionist organizations from Affendis, landowners living in Turkey or anywhere else throughout the Ottoman Empire, and these people were inevitably evicted by these kind of transactions. But as a whole, I think that not more than 6 or 7% of the entire surface of the state of Israel was bought. The rest of it was either taken over or won during the war.

 
At 9:52 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Gert

I agree with everything that Shlomo Ben-Ami says, and if you feel that it would therefore be fairer to describe the Israeli state in 1948 as 'newly-declared' rather than 'fledgling', I am happy to amend my terminology accordingly. But in like manner, I believe that your statement that 'Israel stole almost all of what is Israel proper' may be led by an assumption that if only 6-7% of the land was purchased, then the other 93-94% must presumably have been stolen, when in fact it is likely that a large part of that land was uninhabited desert which didn't actually belong to anybody.

In any case, in the days of 'might is right' and 'to the victor the spoils' one could potentially argue that Israel won the land fair and square, whether by purchase, diplomacy, or conquest. But I do not personally advocate such ideals, and I would be interested in knowing what you feel would have been just and fair. In your opinion, do you feel that the Jews deserved to have a land of their own where they could feel safe from persecution? And if so, should it not have been made big enough to allow all Jews to be able to migrate there? Should it have been created somewhere else perhaps?

I am going to sleep now, but I'll look forward to reading your response in the morning.

Phil

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Phil:

750,000 people were driven from their homes under cover of war. How can we reasonably say that the land didn't belong to someone? Parts perhaps, yes. Pictures speak louder than words, so see for yourself the places the Palestinians were evicted from...

Might makes right? Those days were over by the 1900s: by that time colonisation could no longer go unnoticed. Also, I much prefer Right makes Might...

What would have been just and fair? I'm not sure. There can however be no doubt about the fact that Zionism built its homeland aggressively and ruthlessly on top of an existing civilisation, with utter disregard for those who lived in that country (and contrary to early Zionist mythology, still bandied around by the likes of AJwaV). There was of course talk at one time of a softer, more inclusive Zionism, unfortunately it lost out on the aggressive Revisionist strain (Jabotinsky).

Do Jews deserve a homeland of their own? This in itself is highly questionable. The Zionist project was, by and large, not so much borne out of a reaction against anti-Semitism as out of a genuine desire for nation building. Is there anything wrong with that? At first glance not but do we really have to grant a homeland to every Tom, Dick and Harry? Is it not so that instances were a people have indeed suffered at the hands of a ruling majority (or minority), justify self-rule more than a mere desire for an 'own state'?

In life, outcomes matter as much as do intentions. With Israel we now have an absurd situation where (the proverbial) Yehudi from Brooklyn can emigrate to Israel with automatic right to citizenship whereas Ahmed from Gaza languishes in, say, Jabalya refugee camp from where he can practically see with his own eyes the place from which he, his parents or grandparents were evicted. This is all the more absurd because all this happens to humour Yehudi, who already had statehood, equal rights among fellow Americans and a guarantee of protection from persecution. Thus we have to persecute Ahmed to allow Yehudi to essentially indulge in a Biblical fantasy. Nice one!

Could it have been created elsewhere? Well, Herzl's diary shows clearly other places had been considered, namely Argentina (presumably Patagonia). Other sources tell of a Ugandan plan. I will not try and play a game of 'alternative histories' here: there is no way of telling whether the outcome would have been less traumatic and less troublesome, so I will leave speculation to others that way inclined...

Today Israel's desire to colonise the whole of Palestine is hard to negate. So they gave up miniscule amounts of territory in Gaza, all the while frantically (at ever increased rates) building in the West Bank and East J'sem. See now also the newly created (by the Zionist leadership) kerfuffle around 'natural growth'. To any sensible person this is a complete no-brainer: withdrawal is needed, not a 'freeze'.

Zionism is bad for Zionists, for Jewry, for Palestinians, for the ME and ultimately for the world at large...

 
At 1:28 AM, Blogger Phil said...

Hi again Gert

OK so let's start by agreeing that the history and present situation in the Middle East is a catastrophic mess, and that 'right is might' would be a far better way to conduct world affairs in the future. Unfortunately the current reality still falls far short of this ideal, with many states still ruled by dictators, while numerous legitimate claims for national autonomy remain frustrated (Tibetans, Chechens, Kurds, and yes the Palestinians).

Sadly in this world, you still don't get what you want without pushing for it, and the Jews did have to push and suffer an awful lot before they achieved independence. In the process many Palestinian Arabs were cruelly displaced, but this was not done under 'cover of war', but within the context of a very real war in which the Jews of Palestine were genuinely fighting for their lives. And while it is true that many Palestinians were forcibly evicted by Jewish armies, it seems that most of them actually left of their own volition because of instructions to do so from the Arab Higher Committee who erroneously assured them that a swift Arab victory would allow them to return home again very soon.

I wish that events had been handled better by all sides, and wonder what the region might be like today if so, but I suspect that the Holy Land is doomed to remain an arena of conflict until the three Abrahamic religions can finally learn to coexist harmoniously. And in any case, what's done is done, and now the best we can do is to focus on what to do about the future. But that is really not quite the 'no-brainer' that you suggest - the Gaza withdrawal might seem to you to have been a minuscule step, but it was a very painful step for Israel to take, with the need for Jews to evict other Jews from their homes nearly tearing the country apart. (Perhaps imagine Parliament deciding to redress the wrongs of the War of the Roses by redrawing the boundaries between Yorkshire and Lancashire, to get an idea of the enormous rifts I'm talking about.)

Of course none of that means that the Gaza withdrawal wasn't the right thing to do, but the results have been awful for everyone, and if Israel were to follow it up with a complete withdrawal from the West Bank, none of us can be sure that Hamas wouldn't use the rest of the Palestinian population as human shields and begin pouring missiles onto Jewish West Jerusalem.

And even the issue of settlements is not so black-and-white, because although all sensible people agree that the 1967 green line is the appropriate benchmark for demarcation between the two states, the peace talks have recognised that too many people have been forced to leave their homes already on both sides, and so in order to avoid unnecessary further displacement, the line of demarcation will be adjusted according to where Israelis and Palestinians are now living today. Consequently there are a number of Jewish settlements which have been earmarked for being kept within the Israeli state even though they currently lie across the green line, and for those settlements one might argue that normal life should be allowed to go on, including any essential construction within their territorial limits.

Over to you again

Phil

 
At 3:24 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Phil,

"it seems that most of them actually left of their own volition because of instructions to do so from the Arab Higher Committee who erroneously assured them that a swift Arab victory would allow them to return home again very soon."

The idea that the AHC urged the local populations to leave has been completely debunked as a Zionist myth and is not accepted by any of the New Israeli Historians (the horrid phrase 'push the Jews into the sea' was coined in the making of this myth and unfortunately lives on to this day). It's also completely counter-intuitive: show me just one single case in history where a population flees away from a liberating army: you won't find it. Populations flee the violence by fleeing from advancing occupying forces, not the other way around.

As Ben-Ami states in one of his books:

"Israel, as a society, also suppressed the memory of its war against the local Palestinians, because it couldn’t really come to terms with the fact that it expelled Arabs, committed atrocities against them, dispossessed them. This was like admitting that the noble Jewish dream of statehood was stained forever by a major injustice committed against the Palestinians and that the Jewish state was born in sin."

Other attempts at suppressing memory involve a myth that completely contradicts the 'Arab armies urged them to leave' myth: the 'A land without a People for a People without a land' myth.

It has to be underlined though that Israel refused the refugees their right to return to their homes after cessation of hostilities, as enshrined in Article 49 of the Geneva Conventions. It's upon this universal principle that the Palestinian claim to RoR still rests. This right isn't dependent on anything other than being a displaced person as a result of war.

It's in its persistent refusal of RoR, also for the 250,000 Palestinian refugees created during 1967 and the Occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, that we can see that the creation of the refugees is nothing more than ethnic cleansing and the creation of Arab-free lebensraum within the borders of historic Palestine and what is now Israel.

Continued below...

 
At 3:24 PM, Blogger Gert said...

"But that is really not quite the 'no-brainer' that you suggest - the Gaza withdrawal might seem to you to have been a minuscule step, but it was a very painful step for Israel to take, with the need for Jews to evict other Jews from their homes nearly tearing the country apart."

You are falling hook, line and sinker for Israel's clever use of euphemisms. So, Israel captures Gaza by means of war and illegally (same Geneva Convention) transfers about 10,000 Jews to it, for settlement. When it finally withdraws it starts crying about how 'painful' this 'concession' really is (no product do the Zionists master more than a false sense of victimhood).

When a thief returns part of the loot, do you consider this to be a 'concession'? The settlers had no right to be there under very clear international law to begin with, why then does Israel deserve sympathy for 'undoing' what it should never have done to begin with?

"Consequently there are a number of Jewish settlements which have been earmarked for being kept within the Israeli state even though they currently lie across the green line, and for those settlements one might argue that normal life should be allowed to go on, including any essential construction within their territorial limits."

Partly agreed but the devil really is in the detail here: land swaps had already been agreed upon within the Clinton Parameters, so no big problem there. But people like Lieberman now want to try and change the entire game: he wants to hold on to all of the WB settlements and swap them for Arab populated areas currently within the borders of Israel proper. At first glance not such a bad idea, in reality this means that all territorial negotiations would have to be conducted all over again, which could take years. To paraphrase what's said about Afghanistan: 'the world has the watches but Israel's got the time', i.o.w. another endless round of territorial negotiations will only play into Israeli hands because time is what they have plenty of: not so the Palestinians though.

Phil, you remind me of myself perhaps less than a year ago. A wishy-washy Zionist, always of the 'yeah-but-no-but' inclination, capable of seeing the injustices that Zionism has created but always pulling away from the brink of concluding the inevitable: that Zionism is in essence unjustifiable. No doubt you do this for a variety of reasons, including a false and unneeded deference for past Jewish suffering (are the victims of past crimes, no matter how horrific, somehow absolved from committing crimes themselves? Imagine what kind of a world that would be...)

Zionism met stiff opposition in some Jewish circles right from the start, Einstein (earmarked for becoming Israel's first President) being a well known case. Most of the Jewish bloggers on my blogroll are principled anti-Zionists and anti-racists.

Think about it...

 
At 8:16 AM, Blogger Phil said...

Hi Gert

The events of 1948 are clouded in considerable uncertainty, with most sources clearly biased toward their personal agenda. The website http://www.mideastweb.org/refugees1.htm is a possible exception, and from this seemingly balanced perspective I deduce that some fled and others were pushed, and we'll probably never know exactly how many of each. I felt compelled to respond to your opening salvo of '750,000 people were driven from their homes under cover of war' because it still strikes me as rather one-sided, but I accept that my own reference to the Arab Higher Committee might also be inaccurate.

In any case, I don't think that a person fleeing a war should cause them to have diminished rights, so it's really a moot point as far as I'm concerned, and although the Palestinians' right of return under the Geneva Convention does actually fall short on a couple of legal grounds such as that the Palestinians did not constitute a national people and that Article 49 wasn't adopted until 1949, I do not feel that such legal loopholes should stand in the way of a suitable resolution to their continued suffering.

But I believe that allowing all Palestinian refugees to return to their original hometowns would bear grave consequences which need to be carefully considered. First of all, any country comprising two large ethnically-hostile groups would be at considerable risk of descending into civil war, and I feel that the last thing the Middle East needs right now is another Lebanon. And secondly, this whole sorry mess derives from the legitimate need to give Jews a place where they can be safe from persecution, which would be far from assured if Jews were no longer the demographic majority. One could easily imagine the end result of Israeli Jews fleeing or being forced from their homes in due course, and I think we both agree that two wrongs don't make a right. This is actually the same reason that I applauded Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and yet still felt some measure of sympathy for the many young people who were compelled to leave the towns where they were born and grew up, and weren't to blame for their parents' misdeeds.

You suggest that time is on Israel's side, but I'm not so sure, as the Arab World seems to be slowly growing more united at the same time as Israel's supporters are diminishing, with even the USA no longer an unconditional backer. Islamic militant groups are growing much stronger, and now wield considerable political power in Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza. So I think that Israel would actually be wise to strike a deal now if one is on the table, and that Avigdor Lieberman's obduracy might eventually procrastinate his country unto ruin.

Phil

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Phil:

"The website http://www.mideastweb.org/refugees1.htm is a possible exception, and from this seemingly balanced perspective I deduce that some fled and others were pushed, and we'll probably never know exactly how many of each. I felt compelled to respond to your opening salvo of '750,000 people were driven from their homes under cover of war' because it still strikes me as rather one-sided, but I accept that my own reference to the Arab Higher Committee might also be inaccurate."

Ah, yes, the need for 'balance'! This is of course a common fallacy into which many well-meaning observers tend to buy into. Do you also feel the need to apply such 'balance' to the events collectively known as the Holocaust? No? I don't either. Why then, when the facts regarding the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine are now (and have been for a very long time) simply no longer in any serious dispute, do you feel the need to apply it here? As Finkelstein clearly states over and over again, bar minor differences about some numbers and sometimes motivation, all Israeli New Historians agree on the facts. Prominent ones like Benny Morris and Shlomo Ben-Ami are committed Zionists to this very day. Avi Shlaim ('The Iron Wall') was an Iraqi Jew who made Aliyah and served in the IDF, although today he clearly isn't Zionist anymore. What motive would such people have to lie, considering the degree of excoriation they inevitably suffered at the hands of more Nationalistic Zionists for their tremendously revealing work? As Ben-Ami states, no State likes to admit it was born in a pool of blood (even though most are).

Today the literal application of the RoR is of course problematic for many reasons. Even a committed anti-Zionist like Noam Chomsky agrees that a literal application of the principle will now no longer be possible.

"[...] this whole sorry mess derives from the legitimate need to give Jews a place where they can be safe from persecution, which would be far from assured if Jews were no longer the demographic majority."

This is of course only acceptable if one is willing to live with the consequences of Israel's 'Jewish exceptionalism'. No state in the world other than Israel accepts the automatically guaranteed 'return' of people of one ethnicity/religion, at the expense of one other, specific ethnicity/religion. It means effectively legitimising Grand Apartheid (and not just Petty Apartheid).

Continued below...

 
At 3:05 PM, Blogger Gert said...

It also means that the future of Israeli Palestinians is by no means guaranteed, as in the case, physically possible, where these Israeli Arabs manage to 'outbreed' their Jewish counterparts, the State of Israel would have no choice but to curtail the civil rights (voting rights) of said Israeli Arabs in order to maintain the Jewish character of the State of Israel. Tzipi Livni, hardly an extremist, said during the last election campaign that said Arabs 'would increasingly have to seek their fortunes elsewhere'.

History also shows that partitioning projects generally don't fare well and tend to have a limited shelf life. No, in the long term I can only see the Two State solution as a temporary solution, resulting later in reconciliation and reunification into a 'one man, one vote' secular state.

As regards 'being safe from persecution', here's what one 77 year old Israeli Jewish grandmother thinks of Israel's 'security':

• Nowhere else in the world since WWII have we Jews lived through 12 wars/battles/campaigns--all in less that 61 years.

• Nowhere else in the world since WWII have so many Jews been killed in violence--over 23,000 since Israel came into being.

• Nowhere else in the world have so many Jews been injured.

And yet, we have no security. 61 years of the use of force have not brought us Israelis one iota of security.


Amen to that...

 
At 8:10 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Yes a balanced perspective is hard to come by in such matters, because even the sources you cite may have personal motives underlying their individual perspectives, but this doesn't prevent me from recognising the validity of many of their statements and incorporating them into my own personal views.

I'm therefore gratified to hear that the problems of applying the Palestinian right of return literally are understood, and I share your view that the two-state solution should only be seen as a tool to halt the violence while we wait for a day when the disputes can finally be consigned to the past and the Holy Land become a place of religious freedom instead.

But in the meantime, what do we do about the Jewish exceptionalism which you correctly say must accompany Israel's determination to preserve a Jewish majority? Might such discrimination be justified in the face of an existential threat, and if so, where exactly should the line be drawn?

 
At 1:49 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Phil:

"Might such discrimination be justified in the face of an existential threat, and if so, where exactly should the line be drawn?"

Firstly, which existential threat? You see an existential threat to Israel? Please elaborate. And how does an ethnically pure Jewish state offer any protection from it? This is an important point to make with regards to for instance the WB settlements: they too do not contribute to Israel's security, quite the opposite.

As regards drawing lines, that is entirely in Israel's own hands. I can only see Israeli Human rights groups like BT'selem continue to follow human rights abuses, including the slow expropriation of more Palestinian land as a result of Jewish exceptionalism, together with other Rights groups. Israel of course ignores all protestations but just recording these events is in itself important enough.

Here's a think tank (Stratfor) article and analysis which in my opinion thoroughly dispels the myth of an existential threat to Israel.

 
At 2:04 PM, Blogger Gert said...

And in case you were referring to the 'threat from within', the alleged 'Israeli Arab fifth column': Israel claims its Arab citizens enjoy equal rights, it's very adamant about that in the face of the charge of Petty Apartheid.

Well, either they do or they don't [enjoy equal rights]. Citizens (of whatever denomination) of a State cannot be expected to be 'loyal' to that State, the only thing the State can expect from its citizens is that those citizens do not commit criminal acts aimed at damaging that same State. All States, including Israel, have more than sufficient legislation in place to deal with such criminal elements but we can't have something akin to a 'Thought Police', that controls what citizens can and cannot think about that State. Hell, if we applied such measures to Britain, half of us would be in gaol for thinking critical thoughts about the British State!

 
At 8:21 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Hi again

Cheers for the excellent Stratfor article - the situation may have changed a bit since it was written (Israeli relations with Turkey and the Gulf States were damaged by the war in Gaza, and Iran's nuclear program has continued to advance), but I agree with its essential conclusions.

From my perspective, there are a few potential existential threats to the State of Israel. The first type would be regime change somewhere, for example in Egypt as the article mentions, but perhaps alternatively in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. The second is Iran, whose threat remains just words at this stage, but could become real in the fairly near future. A third is the possibility that the international community decides it has had enough of Israel's behaviour and votes to revoke recognition of the Israeli state (I'm not sure whether legislation currently exists to allow this to happen, or what events it would precipitate on the ground, but I believe that it is a feasible scenario down the line).

But the one I was referring to was the possibility that Arab citizens within the State of Israel become numerous enough to effect regime change from within. Yes they do have equal rights, with the exception of being blocked from serving in the Israeli army or having jobs which require security clearance, but this is no guarantee that they wouldn't seek to change the nature of the Israeli state if they had the power to do so, any more than the equal rights afforded to Muslims in Britain prevented them from pereptrating the 7/7/2005 terror attacks.

So I believe that Israel has good reasons for trying to maintain its Jewish majority, but I'm not sure how exactly it should be allowed to do so. Employing 'Thought Police' is definitely not a measure I would advocate...!

Phil

 
At 2:10 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Phil:

To be honest, I thought the conversation had run its course. There's no unwillingness to continue from my side it but then you'll have to lead with questions, as I've said my piece.

On your previous comment I will simply say that 'Israel's existential threat' is largely a mirage they've been putting up for decades now, in part because it 'justifies' US protection and unconditional financial aid (about USD 3,000,000,000 p/a, more than any other country in the world receives in aid from the US).

The existential threat 'from within', aka the Demographic Nightmare, is the fear of loss of political power more than anything else. Show me the last act of terrorism committed by the 'Arab Fifth Column'. The most you'll find are some convictions for sympathies with Hamas (in itself doubtful as a legal basis for a conviction, IMHO) but then Israel does detain about 11,000 Arab prisoners, mostly political. The Palestinians right now detain exactly... 1 (one) Israeli soldier (Gilad Shalit)!

 
At 6:14 AM, Blogger Phil said...

Hi again Gert

I completely agree with you that the demographic threat to Israel is a loss of political power. If Arabs do one day become the majority group in Israel, what do you imagine might happen?

I can personally envisage a few possible scenarios. If democracy were maintained, Israel's government could theoretically become a coalition of Arab and Jewish parties, but the outright hostility between groups such as Hamas and the Jewish National Union would be so intractable that I doubt they would be even able to mimic the Lebanese government's cold deadlock for a single day without guns being drawn. And if such a coalition could not hold, the alternative of Israel being ruled by a Hamas-led government would mean a best-case scenario for Israeli Jews of living a Dhimmi life subject to Sharia law, and a worst-case scenario of extermination.

If on the other hand, Israel decided to abandon democracy in order to preserve the rights of a Jewish minority, I can imagine the chorus of international opprobrium already faced by Israel suddenly accelerating into sanctions and termination of relations with even its closest friends. So under all of the scenarios I have mentioned, I imagine that the ability for Jews to continue practising a free Jewish life within the Holy Land might become unsustainable.

Am I missing any other more optimistic scenarios maybe? And if not, what do you think Israel ought to do when faced with such a demographic threat? By the way, whatever the true extent of the existential threats facing Israel, I think it's important to recognise that Israelis do truly believe them to be real, from the man on the street all the way up to prime minister Netanyahu. And I believe that the last high-profile terror attacks perpetrated by Israeli Arabs (the 'Fifth Colum') were the deadly Mercaz HaRav attack in March 2008 and the bulldozer attacks in Jerusalem four months later.

Phil

 
At 11:21 AM, Blogger Gert said...

Hi Phil,

What would happen if Israel's 'demographic nightmare' was to come true would depend largely on the relationship between the two peoples at that time.

If it was to happen, hypothetically of course, say tomorrow, Israel would start curtailing voting power of the Arabs (assuming they could achieve this just before becoming a minority of course) in some way or another. There are plenty of scenarios available, one could be to 'go Lebanese'. Lebanon doesn't have a one man, one vote system, rather a Christian vote counts for about 1.5 Shia votes. This is essentially designed to maintain the 'Christian character' of the country. This would could be constitutionalised in Israel.

But it would be preferable if such a transition from majority Jewish rule to one man, one vote could be happen after peace and reconciliation between Jews, Muslims and Christians has been achieved. While this sounds far-fetched right now, think South Africa (SA). In terms of enmity between Black and White, SA was in many respects worse than Israel-Palestine: Blacks not only had strong numerical supremacy, they were also well armed and received help from various European Leftist cadres. Despite this, Mandela managed to negotiate a peaceful transition to majority rule based on one man, one vote. It's far from impossible to envisage something like this in Israel-Palestine.

Important to note is that although Whites lost much political power, they didn't lose all of it and a 'political comeback' is entirely possible: in the recent elections a White, female candidate did remarkably well because many Black voters endorsed her. In the US a president belonging to a minority ethnicity has just been elected, opening up the future for potential Hispanic or Jewish presidents in the future. Once trust is established, it really becomes a case of 'let the best man win'. Similarly in Israel, all kinds of Arab-Jewish coalitions can be imagined.

Regarding the bulldozer retaliations, there have been such incidents and I don't want to diminish their importance (a tragedy is a tragedy) but we should be careful in comparing those to orchestrated terror attacks like those seen during the second Intifadah or the rocket attacks on Northern Israel, I feel.

 
At 11:30 AM, Blogger Phil said...

Hi Gert

I'm very glad we've continued this conversation because your latest response is extremely helpful. Your suggestion that Israel 'goes Lebanese' is particularly interesting to me - is it in your opinion something that the international community might be able to accept in the case of Israel? To me such a formalised statement of inequality between individuals feels very unpalatable, but perhaps in some cases it's better for everyone that a state be forthright about its nature rather than trying to maintain a fake pretence of equality.

I agree with you that peace and reconciliation between the peoples would be the best possible solution to the Israeli/Palestinian problem, but I think we must recognise that this ideal result is still a distant hope because the political stance of each side is actually hardening rather than mellowing right now, largely due to calamitous developments in the Gaza Strip during the last four years for which both sides deserve blame. Political power on both sides has gravitated recently away from moderates towards hardliners, and while one might argue that this development could advance peace hopes by forcing these elements to come to the negotiating table, it cannot be denied that the two sides are still poles apart on so many issues, especially the most sensitive one of Jerusalem.

And sadly I struggle to imagine Israelis managing to emulate the way white South Africans conceded control in favour of peaceful coexistence, because Israelis are too afraid that it would lead in their case to expulsion or extermination. As you say, trust is the key, but with Jewish memories of the Holocaust exacerbated by Arab attempts to crush Israel in 1948/1967/1973 and Iran's present stated wish for Israel to be wiped off the map, trust is completely missing on the Israeli side, and probably on the Palestinian side too, and I'm not sure how we can set about fixing that.

Phil

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Hi Phil:

"[...] is it in your opinion something that the international community might be able to accept in the case of Israel?"

Can you show me one example where the International Community has actually successfully opposed something Israel did or wanted to do? No? Neither can I. The country has flaunted just about every UN Resolution against it. At the heart of the dispute, still today, lies Israel's refusal to comply with Resolution 242.

The only thing that might make Israel comply with any International demands is a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions, an embryonic version of which we are beginning to see emerge today. See 'Jews sans Frontieres' for detailed regular updates on BDS.

"[...] but with Jewish memories of the Holocaust exacerbated by Arab attempts to crush Israel in 1948/1967/1973 [...]"

Jewish collective memory of the Holocaust has been ruthlessly exploited by Israel's leadership and it continues to do so: Governments around the world understand the power of fear all too well; the US and the UK sowed it for instance to make their deeply flawed case for going to war against Iraq.

Forget also 1948 and 1967: these were wars Israel simply couldn't lose. And 1967 is sold by the Zionist mythologisers in charge of the national narrative as 'pre-emptive'. Again, show me one pre-emptive war that has resulted in a 40 year Occupation of captured territory and unabated colonisation of said territory. You won't find it.

"[...] and Iran's present stated wish for Israel to be wiped off the map [...]"

No serious observer still believes that the 'wipe Israel off the map' quote can be taken at face value, except for some US and Israeli politicians for whom it's a convenient tool to try and keep Iran, and not Palestine, on the political front burner.

The quote was in all likelihood a mistranslated Khomeiny quote that referred to Zionism (as an oppressive and neo-colonial system of governance) as sooner or later becoming obsolete. The mistranslation first appeared in the NYT and thus in a country that's very receptive to anti-Iranian smears. From there it literally took the world by storm. No call to physically destroy Israel was ever made (quite the opposite). But it suits the Holocaust Industry of AIPAC, The Israel Project and the ADL to keep peddling this falsehood...

Later successive interviews with Ahmadinejad confirm this: this essay IMHO debunks the 'wipe Israel off the map' thoroughly.

And on Iran's nuclear ambitions, here's a non-jingoistic, non-histrionic piece that appeared in Newsweek and sheds some light on the Mullah's intentions and non-intentions.

As regards the SA analogy: it needs to be remembered and understood that the process of trust building and paving the way for democratic rule of that country took some 25 years of negotiation (essentially between Mandela and the regime), against the backdrop of a severe BDS campaign. No one claims that reconciliation in I-P would be easy to achieve but it's certainly far from impossible. What man has put asunder, man can put back together again.

 
At 9:29 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Hi Gert

Israel pays scant respect to UN sanctions because it views them as hopelessly biased, but it is not altogether immune to pressure from the outside world. In the absence of such pressure I imagine that Israel would have continued building settlements in the Gaza Strip rather than evacuating them, and Netanyahu would not recently have felt compelled to spit out the words 'Palestinian state' through gritted teeth in order to satisfy Barack Obama. Israelis frequently declaim that 'no matter what we do, the world will always hate us', to which I always reply that even if it is true then there is a giant difference between a world that simply hates them and a world that hates them enough to pursue sanctions or war against them, and this fact does not escape Israeli polticians.

Regarding Iran, Ahmadinejad in that interview calls the Zionist regime an 'uninvited guest', which to my mind means that he rejects the legitimacy of any Jewish state in the land of Palestine. Of course this doesn't necessarily mean that he intends to take steps to remove the perceived interloper, but from Israel's perspective he certainly hasn't convincingly ruled it out either. But for myself I enjoyed the Newsweek article and agree with its viewpoint.

As for restoring trust between Middle Eastern peoples, I agree with you that it is surely possible, but right now it seems difficult to even get the process started. I do hold constructive discussions with Palestinians, but to be honest it feels like a small drop in a very large ocean.

Phil

 
At 3:19 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Hi,

"I imagine that Israel would have continued building settlements in the Gaza Strip rather than evacuating them, and Netanyahu would not recently have felt compelled to spit out the words 'Palestinian state' [...]"

I disagree with the first part but agree with the latter part of that statement.

What is now often forgotten in the Gaza episode is that Sharon had declared he would draw the final borders of Israel unilaterally. There was enormous suspicion and even protest at this idea, from both Israeli politicians as well as Palestinian ones, because it wasn't understood at all where the new borders were going to be: Sharon never said anything about that and so for all we knew the new borders could have included all or most of the WB settlements, leaving the Palestinians scrap.

Somewhat later [after the 'disengagement'] the phrase 'Land for Peace - it doesn't work' was coined but there never was an agreement that would secure withdrawal in return for peace in the North to begin with! The move was unilateral, Hamas never committed itself to anything, it wasn't even asked to...

Bibi is now slowly folding to pressure from Obama but at the same time they're putting up new obstacles: the 'freeze' (should never be negotiated separately) and now the new and ridiculous demand for recognition of the 'Jewish' State of Israel.

As regards the 'legitimacy' of the State of Israel, I have serious problems with that concept. Look, Israel exists, it is a reality, it will not go away and trying to 'disappear' it somehow would be highly criminal. I don't advocate that and no one else should either. I call that de facto recognition. And Israel still has the possibility to redeem itself, IMHO.

But actually legitimising the State by de jure recognising it, means legitimising the crime upon which it was built. Simply put, it's the burglaree legitimising the crime of the burglar. Considering that Israel is very reluctant to even verbalise the crimes committed in 1948, I do not consider the Palestinians under any obligation to de jure recognise the State of Israel. Acceptance of its actual (de facto) existence will have to do, IMHO. The PLO did recognise Israel de jure and in the end got very little in return for it (it's still today on the US's list or terror organisations, for instance).

Later down the line when Israel does officially recognise the Naqba (instead of proposing legislation that is aimed at making Naqba commemorations illegal in Israel) that position [on recognising Israel] could be reviewed. We're a long way from that point: the vice co-chair of the UK Zionist Federation, Jonathan Hoffman for instance, is blatant a Naqba denier. The Zionist blogosphere is teeming with them.

"[...] but from Israel's perspective he certainly hasn't convincingly ruled it out either [...]"

For the Israeli leadership and Zionists worldwide, Ahmadinejad is the gift that keeps on giving: of course they will never recognise anything that he says that contradicts the 'wipe Israel off the map' notion. They'd rather call anyone who points out such positions a 'Nazi', 'Hitlerian', an 'anti-Semite' or a 'Holocaust sympathiser'...

 
At 7:53 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Hi Gert

I agree with your analysis, but believe that if we dig deeper we will find that the Gaza withdrawal was also ultimately driven by international pressures.

From all accounts Ariel Sharon hated Arabs and didn't give a damn about their rights, but he cared passionately for the State of Israel. He imagined a future time when there would be more Arabs than Jews living in the land of Palestine, and he figured that if at that point Jews still exerted military control of the entire land, then the international community would not put up with repression of a majority.

He considered various options and concluded that withdrawing all Israeli civilians and army from the Gaza Strip would notionally release more than a million Palestinians from occupation, which would buy Israel many more years before the situation of occupation of a majority would need to be faced.

So if there were no international concern for the plight of the Palestinians, I really feel that he would have had no problem whatsoever in viewing the entire land of Palestine as the State of Israel and continuing with Jewish settlement expansion in all areas.

Regarding legitimacy of the State of Israel, do you feel that Israel was granted legitimacy by the UN land partition and then lost it because of events in 1948, or do you feel that the State never had legitimacy because the UN vote was itself illegitimate?

Incidentally, I just want to say at this point that I am enjoying this conversation and the way we are conducting it. I feel that I am definitely learning something from this rational and constructive dialogue, and I hope you are too.

Phil

 
At 4:25 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Hi Phil,

I still don't believe that international pressure played much part in the Gaza withdrawal. There has, over these 40 or so years, been very little pressure applied to Israel. Israel's greatest ally, the US, occasionally mumbled some disapproving notes and paid lip service to the Two State solution but has never applied any real pressure to change Israeli behaviour. Europe, perennially afraid of being reminded of its murderous past with regards to Jewry, also largely keeps mum.

No, Sharon withdrew from Gaza for altogether more prosaic reasons, I think. The cost for instance of protecting less than 10,000 Jewish settlers from an ocean of 1.5 million Palestinians must have been prohibitive, compared to the benefits: Gaza is by no means of strategic value to Greater Israel (Eretz Yisrael).

Also, describing the withdrawal as the 'end of occupation' is short-sighted and self-serving IMHO. Gazans by no means enjoy freedom of movement of goods and persons, not back then and not now either. The description of Gaza as a large 'open air prison' seems more accurate to me. Here's the story of Laila El-Haddad trying to get into Gaza with her two children, for a family visit. It's long and heart-wrenching story and in the end she doesn't even get there! It appears the prisoners don't really even have visiting rights...

On Sharon I think you're right and which is why entrusting this man with unilaterally drawing the final borders of Israel would probably have been very disappointing. This is a man who was held indirectly responsible (by Israel!) for the Sabra and Shatilah massacres, a man who vehemently opposed Oslo (and made political mint out of that opposition) and we are to believe he would have withdrawn most of the settlers from the West Bank? I think not...

Continued below...

 
At 4:27 PM, Blogger Gert said...

On the legitimacy of Israel, I'll be short. Forget the UN and other legal niceties. Morally speaking I cannot justify the self-determination of one people at the expense of the well-being and security of another.

Take for instance the struggle for independence of, say, Anywherestan. No matter how bloody their struggle to escape persecution from or discrimination by this State or that majority might have been, they have one very redeeming trait: they lived in Anywherestan and did not have to resort to expelling indigenous people.

The latter, however, is exactly what the Zionists did: it's been a consensus for quite a while now that less than 10 % of Israel proper was legally bought and the rest was acquired by means of military conquest. But even if the Zionists had legally acquired most of the land upon which the Sate of Israel, what difference would it really make?

Imagine Dearborn, Michigan, if you will, a US city with a large Muslim population (about 33 % Arabs). Assume these Dearborn Muslim/Arabs legally became the majority. Would that give them the right to unilaterally call for independence of the 'Islamic State of Dearborn, Michigan'? Well, I guess we should ask the Dearbornians that question...

And returning for a brief moment to international pressure, we may now finally begin to see the tide turning. Obama seems willing to look at the problem more even-handedly. What he will achieve will depend largely on US internal politics: while the Democrats are now in complete control of both houses, both Congress and the Senate are seated by an overwhelming majority of pro-Israel members. This will make Obama's journey like walking a tightrope.

On the positive side, the American media, notorious for its lame and 'patriotic' coverage of anything going on abroad, seems now to be waking up to a new reality with regards to Israel and Palestine. Most recently even Fox News reported on one of the weekly protests (against the separation fence) in the Palestinian village of Bil'in (WB). Ok, it was fairly poor reporting but it got more or less to the heart of the story anyway. And the Palestinian protesters weren't for once dismissed as 'Bad Arabs and Terrorists'. Change we can believe in!

For a good idea of how the US media are opening up to a less one-sided view of the I-P conflict, I warmly recommend Mondoweiss (Phil Weiss and Adam Horowitz): they follow that minute by minute.

 
At 6:29 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Gert

We seem to agree that Ariel Sharon was a ruthless and brutish man who endorsed the settlements as a means of solidifying Israel's claim on the entire land of Palestine, so I imagine that we would also agree that he would have only chosen to abandon the Gaza Strip settlements if he had felt compelled to do so. Internal political or economic pressures might have played their part, but he was actually in an exceedingly strong political position as the undisputed head of the Kadima party which he had personally created, and the costs of maintaining security were quite low as the Palestinian Intifidah had fallen to a very low ebb by 2005 (and remains low today).

So if we can rule out internal pressures, and also the hugely unlikely possibility that he underwent some sort of dramatic personality change, I think he must have been doing it as a result of external pressures. Yes the USA's veto power in the UN Security Council has blocked any real pressure falling on Israel, but I believe that exercising this veto does incur costs to the USA in terms of angering other nations and potentially reducing trade with them, so it is very possible that the USA coerces Israel's policies covertly in the background (and since Obama's election, overtly).

Life is terribly hard for the people of Gaza, and I have a friend there who has been given papers to start a new life in Egypt, but is being repeatedly refused permission to leave Gaza by Hamas. In her case and also the story of Laila El-Haddad, it isn't Israel which is preventing them from living their lives, although Israel does deserve a lot of blame for the mess that land has found itself in.

Regarding your Dearborn question, it raises a lot of questions that I don't feel that I have a clear answer to. If 100% of Hawaiians decided that they wanted to be independent from the USA, would they be entitled to have it? And if instead 99% of Hawaiians decided that they wanted to be independent from the USA and the other 1% wanted to remain Americans, would the 99% have the right to declare independence, create a new constitution and lawcode, and then force the other 1% to either stay and live according to new Hawaiian laws, or move out?

By the way, your statement that 'less than 10% of Israel proper was legally bought and the rest was acquired by means of military conquest' is extremely inaccurate as already discussed. 54% of the entire land of Palestine was apportioned to the Jewish state in the 1947 UN partition, so regardless of how much of it had been legally bought and whether we feel the UN's partition was the right thing to do or not, it is a clear fact that the majority of the land was won through diplomatic rather than military means.

Phil

 
At 4:09 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Hi Phil,

I'll start with your last point because it's the most contentious. And I'll be brief: I may never be able to convince you anyway.

I suggest very simply that you have a good look at the populations numbers and pre- and post- 1948 war maps of Palestine on this web page and conclude it's in line with Shlomo Ben-Ami's statements (the ones you previously so wholeheartedly agreed with?):

"Part of that land was bought by the Zionist organizations from Affendis, landowners living in Turkey or anywhere else throughout the Ottoman Empire, and these people were inevitably evicted by these kind of transactions. But as a whole, I think that not more than 6 or 7% of the entire surface of the state of Israel was bought. The rest of it was either taken over or won during the war."

The refusal by the Palestinians to accept the wholly injust UN Partitioning Plan is till today used as a stick to clobber the Palestinians with but it's little known that the early Zionists were also opposed to it.

Three quotes:

"To partition," according to the Oxford dictionary, means to divide a thing into two parts. Palestine is divided into three parts, and only in a small part are the Jews allowed to live. We are against that."

"The Jewish people have always regarded, and will continue to regard Palestine as a whole, as a single country which is theirs in a national sense and will become theirs once again. No Jew will accept partition as a just and rightful solution.'

'If I had been faced with the question: a Jewish state in the west of the land of Israel in return for giving up on our historical right to the entire land of Israel I would have postponed the establishment of the state. No Jew is entitled to give up the right of the Jewish nation to the land. It is not in the authority of any Jew or of any Jewish body; it is not even in the authority of the entire nation alive today to give up any part of the land'... ...'this is a standing right under all conditions. Even if, at any point, the Jews choose to decline it, they have no right to deprive future generations of it. Our right to the entire land exists and stands for ever.'


All three are the words of David Ben Gurion, respectively made in 1947 (he had then accepted partitioning, but clearly still had reservations about it), in 1937 (when the Yeshuv was already in existence) and the latter of unknown date.

Phil, I'm gonna ask you a question. You seem inclined, unless I'm gauging you wrongly, to believe the Partition Plan was somehow fair. Why?

On Laila's misfortunes you seem again inclined to hold a hand above the Israeli heads. Perhaps you should ask her whom she feels is to blame here? The culprit here is of course the siege, which the Egyptians cooperate on with Israel.

I'd be very interested in learning about the precise reasons given by Hamas why your friend is not allowed to leave Gaza.

On Hawaii, I'm not going to judge the legality of any claims for independence but I would judge any such claims a thousand times more solid than that of a large bunch of recent immigrant European Jews to Palestine because the Hawaiians can indeed claim that Hawaii is their homeland and wouldn't have to resort to wholesale 'importing' people with no tangible claim or connection to the land of Hawaii.

 
At 6:29 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Hi Gert

OK I think we're possibly quite close to agreement on this.

Ben-Ami's words differ from yours in one important respect, because he expresses the view that the majority of Israel was 'either taken over or won during the war'. What did he mean by the words 'taken over'? I believe that he meant peacefully colonised without purchase, as opposed to conquered militarily.

Religious Jews have always yearned to live in the land of the Bible, and every year at Passover they ended their meal with the hope of 'next year in Jerusalem'. A few trusted in God enough that they moved to live there even during the time of the Ottoman empire, but when the British took over control of Palestine in 1917 the safety of living there from a Jewish perspective was much improved, and so many more took up the opportunity. The British allowed them to move in and set up home in empty areas, and there was a lot of empty space back then with only a tenth of the total number of people who live in that land today. (And there is still a lot of unoccupied space even today.) This is what I mean by peaceful colonisation. Should the British have allowed this to happen? I don't know - perhaps we should discuss it. And was the UN partition fair? Again, I'm not sure, and that's what my Hawaii scenarios were aimed at determining. You see, I personally feel that just 1% of dissenters should not be enough to derail independence aspirations, but that 49% of dissenters would be. So what percentage is the appropriate cut-off? Again, I frankly don't know.

Your Ben-Gurion quotes were interesting to read, as I didn't know he was so ideological. His words sound to me curiously reminiscent of Hamas's view that Palestine is a holy Muslim waqf of which no human being has the right to give up even one inch.

I interpreted that Laila was angry with the Egyptian authorities rather than Israel. And as for my friend in Gaza, she clarified as follows:

'Hamas forces denyed us passage to Egypt via Rafah Border,we don`t fit for their conditions,we need to be severly ill or severly Hamas supporters to pass,we can`t help but to feel traped in a tow cats and mouse game.It is very demeaning and undignifing to our humanity. I am sorry to sound this depressing but this is real life for us.'

Phil

 
At 1:53 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Hi Phil,

Possibly, but I can assure you that 'taken over' in the Ben-Ami/Shlaim/Finkelstein school of thought means 'conquered'. It's the Morris/Goremberg school that sees the expulsions more as an 'accident' of war.

Of course it's true that there was a lot of perfectly legal Jewish immigration to Palestine, from about 1900 onwards. Later the British Government started restricting the numbers of immigrants to Palestine, mainly to try and honour the latter part of the Balfour Declaration:

"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". [my emph.]

There was in that sense also much illegal immigration. The first real clashes between Arabs and Zionists start in 1929 and 1936-1939.

And up to 1947, Jews remained the minority in Palestine, despite massive immigration. It's after the 1948 war (see also the massive gains in territory by the Zionists respective to the land actually allocated to Israel by the UN: most of the corridor of Palestinian allocated land bordering on Egypt was completely conquered and almost entirely ethnically cleansed) that Zionist Jews became the majority in Palestine, in accordance with Jabotinsky's 'Iron Wall' strategy.

Considering the numbers of Palestinians at the time the war broke out, the number of refugees generated (take also into account that much of the West Bank was unaffected, that was conquered later in 1967), it's safe to say that most of Palestine, as defined by the UN Partition Plan, was indeed ethnically cleansed.

"His words sound to me curiously reminiscent of Hamas's view that Palestine is a holy Muslim waqf of which no human being has the right to give up even one inch."

For about three years now Hamas' stance has changed: they now accept the creation of a Palestinian State on pre-1967 borders with a capital in E.J'sem. In essence they've resorted to the older PLO position although they don't want to recognise Israel de jure (instead preferring a long-term truce or Islamic Hudna) and insist on RoR. Both latter conditions must be negotiable to a point. They most recently publicised their 'new' position in a prominent interview (Khalid Meshal in the New York Times - link provided on request).

If you're still in touch with your Gazan friend, please tell her, for what it's worth, that many here in the West, including rising numbers in the US, are strongly supportive of the Palestinian cause and do not intend for them to become another People relegated to the museum of forgotten Peoples... The world owes the Palestinians an enormous amount of just about everything for having suffered a Western sanctioned crime, for sixty years now.

 
At 5:09 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Hi Gert

Were Ben-Ami's words translated from Hebrew? If so, getting hold of the exact original words he used could shed some light on it - for example if when he said 'taken over' he used the Hebrew verb 'lenatzel', this verb means 'to take' in the sense of grabbing something which is open for the taking, such as seizing an opportunity.

Yes Hamas do seem to have moderated their stance recently, although in Israeli eyes this could easily be construed as a ploy to recover to the 1967 borders merely as a preliminary stage. And recently too, hardline Israelis such as Benjamin Netanyahu are also delicately moderating their stance, although this is similarly unlikely to impress Palestinian eyes. But in my own eyes these changes could reap dividends in the end, because only when the hardliners make efforts to be reasonable can there finally be a hope of bringing everyone to the table.

Tomorrow I'm getting on a plane and will spend the next few weeks travelling around, so I guess we'll have to put our discussions on hold for a bit now. But I want to tell you again that I've both enjoyed and learned from them.

I will pass on your words to my Gazan friend, and will e-mail you when she responds. Until then, all the best, bye for now!

Phil

 
At 3:48 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Hi Phil,

The Amy Goodman/Shlomo Ben Ami/Norman Finkelstein interview was conducted in English and an mp3 of it can be downloaded on this page.

Well, best of luck with the traveling and best regards to your friend in Gaza, these people are increasingly finding a place in the hearts and minds of the West.

 

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