OxBlog

Monday, February 12, 2007

# Posted 10:23 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHY AM I PRO-ISRAEL? (PART 2) What if one were pro-Palestinian and wanted to persuade someone who was pro-Israel to stop being pro-Israel? What would be the most effective approach to that objective?

In my experience, the preferred tactic of those who want to stop their audience from being pro-Israel is to describe in the greatest possible detail the suffering of the Palestinians. And many of these stories are absolutely heartbreaking. Families destroyed by wayward Israeli artillery shells. Dying patients who suffer painfully for hours or days when their ambulances are held up at Israeli checkpoints.

These are human tragedies. But the strategy of relying on such stories to reduce pro-Israeli sentiment is ineffective because it is based on the false premise that pro-Israel individuals are either ignorant of or insensitive to Palestinian suffering and Israeli human rights violations.

If someone wanted to stop me from identifying as pro-Israel, the most effective approach they could take would be to tackle head-on the subject of suicide bombing. In my experience, my debating partners tend to bring this subject up only after their detailed descriptions of Palestinian suffering elicit a request on my part to talk about suicide attacks. Then, they provide one of several responses. Perhaps the most common is that it doesn't matter how an innocent person dies, just that they are dead. Being killed by a wayward shell is no better than being the victim of a suicide bomb. Yet that is the argument least likely to persuade me of anything.

I see a fundamental moral difference between the intentional slaughter of civilians as opposed to the accidental. Not because one kind of death is any less horrible for the victim, but because of what the intentions of the killer say about his cause.

In addition, I see a fundamental difference between those who intentionally slaughter civilians and cover-up the evidence of their crimes and those who intentionally slaughter civlians and celebrate what they have done or identify as the highest expression of their faith. Again, there is no difference from the perspective of the victim. But for those who are still alive and must contend with the killers, the difference is tremendous.

It is a sad fact that the world's greatest democratic states -- Britain, France and the United States of America -- have done terrible and unjustifiable things in the midst of frustrating wars. Yet the resilience of their democratic societies has ensured an eventual reckoning with such crimes as well as their ultimate repudiation.

For the victims, such reckoning and repudiation may come far too late. Nonetheless, it says something very important about the ability of those societies to peacefully co-exist with their neighbors. They know the road to peace, even if they deviate from it.

Now let me make the comparison with Israel explicit. It is a vibrant democratic society broadly committed to the essential democratic values of liberty and life. And precisely because it is a democratic society, there has been strong support for several efforts to negotiate peace with the Arab states and the Palestinians. In democracy, there is an inherent preference for solutions that favor compromise over force.

To what extent can such things be said about Palestinian society? I am well aware that my knowledge of this society is partial at best. It is the result of a collage of facts and images presented by a media establishment that is profoundly suspect in the eys of Israel's harshest critics. I cannot provide citations or footnotes for the images in my head. So let me phrase what I say as a somewhat tentative effort to separate the facts from the stereotypes.

The total number of Palestinian suicide bombers -- both attempted and successful -- seems to be no more than a few hundred. Yet my sense is that there is much broader social infrastructure necessary to support such attacks. There are those who make the bombs. Those who train the bombers. Those who provide the funding. Those who capture the final testament of the bombers on video. How many individuals play such a supporting role? Perhaps a few thousand.

But the two kinds of supporters that frighten me most are the political leaders and the mothers of the suicide operatives. I have heard interviews with parents who swell with pride at the fact that their child gave his or her life in order to kill Israeli civilians. This indicates me to me that tens or hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are part of a soceity that values death and endless conflict much more than compromise and life.

Also in my head are images of parades in the West Bank and Gaza where children dress up as suicide bombers, with masks and papier mache dynamite vests. Perhaps it's the camera angle, but there seem to be thousands of impassioned Palestinians participating in this spectacle. And if thousands can openly celebrate murder, there is a profound problem that goes far beyond the participants.

If one wanted to change my mind about this subject, the best strategy available would be to demonstrate the marginal nature of such death-obsessed individuals in Palestinian society. Point me towards evidence that their numbers are few and their influence limited. No less important, point me toward the influential (not marginal) figures -- politicians, journalists, clergymen and scholars -- who denounce such horrific behavior as unequivocally as I do.

Yet it seems unquestionable that the most influential politicans will do no such thing. The governing party, Hamas, refuses to repudiate, let alone apologize for violence against civilians. The former governing party, Fatah, often made a show of denouncing attacks before Western audiences while actively supporting its own terrorist cells. Both parties seem to believe that their sponsorship of suicide attacks will heighten their stature among Palestinians much more than it will reduce it. Their consensus on this point suggests to me that it is disturbingly valid.

If you want to persuade me to be less pro-Israel or not pro-Israel at all, show me that Palestinian society embodies the humane, democratic values that I cherish and that it rejects the violent, hateful values that so often seem to be on display.
(52) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
Would you have been on the side of Lehi and Irgun during the 1940s-1950s?
 
fine. uninteresting, but ok.
 
I can't argue against being pro-Israel because I am myself. However, I feel that Israel's policy toward the Arabs after the '67 war has been self-destructive. The Israeli government should have treated the West Bank population with kindness and consideration, the way that Ireland treated the Protestants after 1922. Instead, Israel did everything it could to stoke Arab hatred and to lose support in Europe. When I was growing up back in the 40's, the popular view of Jews were that they were highly intelligent but physically cowardly. The Israelis have done a lot to disprove both stereotypes.
 
Wow, that's high praise from OxBlog's famous anonymi!

Tequila, I don't think it's hard to infer my position on Lehi and Irgun (although my knowledge about them is limited).

Terrorist acts in the Yishuv period were a black mark on the Jewish record (as well as strategically worthless).
 
david,

I think that when you say you are NOT pro-Palestinian, you concede the game right there. I am pro-israel and pro-Palestinian. I believe that the best interests of the Palestinians would be served by accepting a two state solution, and renouncing violence, and proceeding to negotiate the details of a peace agreement with Israel. The fact that I support Israel's right to defend itself, and that I do not consider the 1948 ceasefire lines as a secure border, does not make me "anti-palestinian" any more than someone disagreeeing with the policies of Israel is antisemitic.
 
"The Israeli government should have treated the West Bank population with kindness and consideration, the way that Ireland treated the Protestants after 1922"

they were a tiny minority in the Irish Republic, and didnt threaten the existence of the state. The West Bank population are NOT part of Israel, and are in an entirely different position geographically, demographically, and politically.
 
Liberalhawk, I think the problem in saying you are pro-Palestinian in light of your other positions is the same as the problem in claiming one supports the troops, but not their mission. I agree that the Palestinians would be materially better off by doing what you suggest; but the term 'pro-Palestinian' makes more sense as an expression of support for what the Palestinians want, not for what you think would be best for them.
 
This is very interesting and useful to me. I don't have time to go into a thorough answer to all of what I perceive to be many distortions, stereotypes, logical fallacies, and abbreviated and entirely one-sided portrayals of several historical events. But it's something to work from when I do have time. Because it represents well nearly every "pro"-Israel person I've debated and discussed with, and this is an excellent template to work from.

(I put the "pro" in quotes because, as I've told David, I don't believe this position and the often mendacious (IMHO) arguments that support it are useful for Israel's security, prosperity or, for lack of a better word, soul. Many of my Israeli friends agree.)

I sincerely apologize for not being able to answer adequately at this time, but with all the contentious statements made herein without qualification, I could easily write a book in the process of trying to be convincing to someone who has the entire "pro"-Israel establishment and all of their historical myths and subtle Judeo-Christian-supremacist arguments to back him up.

As far as I know, David is reading some books by the New Israeli Historians (the forerunners of whom are Benny Morris, Ilan Pappé, Avi Shlaim, and Tom Segev, and I would add Meron Benvenisti), and they can make the case far better than I can. In other words, if they can't convince him of the fallacy of some of these beliefs and arguments, I seriously doubt I can. (Whether this is more because David's mind is too firmly made up already or more because I and the New Israeli Historians are simply wrong remains an open question.)

For now, here are two interesting takes on the failure of the Camp David summit in July 2000. The first is by two participants who
principally blame Barak, and secondarily blame Arafat, for the failures, and the second a rebuttal of the first, written by Dennis Ross, who places the blame squarely on Arafat (while simultaneously, and rather ironically, complaining that Arabs always blame everyone else for every failure).

Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors (by Hussein Agha and Robert Malley)

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/14380

Camp David: An Exchange (by Dennis Ross, with a counter-rebuttal by Agha and Malley at the end)

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/14529

Regarding the question of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948, check out this telling interview with Benny Morris (reprinted from its original publication in Haaretz):

http://www.logosjournal.com/morris.htm

Excerpt:

Interviewer: Ben-Gurion was a “transferist” [i.e. he supported a program of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians]?

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

Interviewer: I don’t hear you condemning him.

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

End of excerpt

Morris believes the ethnic cleansing was justified, because he thinks a Jewish state in the Middle East (with a mostly European ruling class) was a higher moral good than the rights of the indigenous Palestinians. This is a fair position to take, even though I don't happen to agree. I think a bi-national state was by far the best way to go, but the Balfour Declaration and other provocations soured relations between Muslims and Jewish immigrants long before 1948 rolled around. (Many indigenous Jewish Arabs were against partition because they knew it would lead to decades of violence -- which is logical, because how would Israel react now if Christians started moving in en masse from some horrible persecution somewhere, and then the UN decided to give half of Israel to the Christians even though Christians only owned about 7% of the land?)

What is not fair, however, is refusing to acknowledge that a deliberate program of ethnic cleansing (through terror campaigns, forced-marches, destruction of villages, etc.) took place, or claiming it was just a few bad apples who did it. Several Israeli Prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers were and are former members of pre-state terrorist militant groups such as the Irgun and Lehi. (Of course, many Israelis consider them freedom fighters, and indeed it is highly unlikely that there would be a "Jewish democracy" in the Middle East if not for their efforts. Which just goes to show, whoever wins gets to be called a freedom fighter, whoever loses is called a terrorist.)

And finally, a super-quick word about this statement:

"No less important, point me toward the influential (not marginal) figures -- politicians, journalists, clergymen and scholars -- who denounce such horrific behavior as unequivocally as I do."

David, if you don't see these people, it's because (a) you're not looking, and (b) neither is the American media. This is similar to what happened after 9/11, when various political leaders and hawks around the world pointed accusing fingers at the entire global Muslim community and said, "Why don't they condemn these atrocities? Look at that, the Muslims aren't condemning these atrocities! Therefore one can only assume that all Muslims are terrorists who follow a cult of death!"

You might as well point at any given Christian you don't like and hold him or her responsible for the Crusades, the Inquisitions, and the current Iraq War. Nobody assumes I support these things until I make a public statement to the contrary, and it is equally insulting to Muslims to be told they have to condemn every single thing every idiot has ever done in their name or be guilty by association. Imagine if you, as a Jew, were held accountable for Israel's policy of supporting fundamentalist fanatic land-stealing settlers. No way would that be fair or logical.

Strikingly, and humblingly, when I was traveling and living in the Middle East, no one ever just assumed I supported George W. Bush and everything he did and stood for, even though a fairly large number of Americans voted for him. And no one ever pointed a finger at me and said, "Why don't you condemn Abu Ghraib?" I would have been highly insulted if that had been the case.

On the other hand, for a culture that prides itself on assuming innocence until guilt is proven, we sure are quick to judge and condemn

vast groupings of Arabs and Muslims whenever we feel like it. (Never mind that when we make disparaging comments about Palestinians, we are also impugning many Palestinian Christians, Samaritans, Socialists, Communists, secular progressives, etc.)

Instead of answering, I'm tempted to counter an absurd question (actually a thinly-veiled accusation) with the roughly analogous, "Prove to me that Israel isn't a cult of death and destruction after it just destroyed half of Lebanon and killed about 1,000 innocent people (one-third of them children, six of them U.N. observers or personnel) and then littered vast civilian areas with a million cluster bomblets for no militarily justifiable reason." Or simply say two words: Avigdor Lieberman.

But I won't. You want prominent Palestinian politicians, journalists, clergymen and scholars who condemn terrorism? Here's a teeny tiny list out of millions of non-cult-of-death Palestinians (who maintain their views over decades despite an indescribably crushing military occupation):

President Mahmoud Abbas

Member of Parliament Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi

http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/08/18/news/edbarghouthi.php
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4157027.stm
http://www.almubadara.org/new/english.php

Journalist and Mother Laila El-Haddad

http://a-mother-from-gaza.blogspot.com/

The entire village of Bil'in, west of Ramallah, half of whose land has been stolen by Israel's Wall

http://www.bilin-village.org/village_en.php
http://newstandardnews.net/content/index.cfm/items/2248

Afif Safieh, the (Roman Catholic) ambassador for the PLO to the United States

Reverend Dr. Naim Ateek

http://www.sabeel.org/old/fos-na/ateekal2.htm

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Member of Parliament and Head of the Palestinian

Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy

http://www.miftah.org/

And here are a couple of non-prominent Palestinians, just for fun

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/08/13/gaza.family/index.html
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/nueva_web/updates_news/updates/family_donates_organs.htm

Should I go on, or do you feel silly yet?

I was constantly inspired by the Palestinians' culture of life and generosity and yearning for peace despite constant unbearable provocations while I was living in the West Bank. Every Israeli and Jewish friend I took on a tour of the Territories felt the same. Yes, there are Palestinian thugs, yes, there are militants, and certainly there are idiots. And with the temperature turned way past the boiling point, and with people going hungry and unable to obtain an education or get to the hospital because of closures and checkpoints, I'm amazed the place hasn't entirely exploded.

It's only through the constant, tireless efforts of family networks as well as NGOs such as the Health Development Information and Policy Institute, Al Haq, the Palestine Red Crescent Society, Palestine Medical Relief Committees, Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, Palestinian Hydrology Group, and scores more as well as thousands of civil society activists that a non-state under siege with almost no independent economy manages to limp along in a reasonably livable manner. Nevermind the many non-violent activities, bridge-building initiatives, and pro-democracy and anti-violence protests, debates, discussions, rallies, and writings that go on regularly.

You don't hear about that on the news, do you? Just that some unknown number of brainwashed little boys like to dress up like bombers, which confirms your suspicion that enough Palestinians are maniacs that you really don't have to go around feeling bad about whatever's done to them, and that fundamentally, since we're such wonderful Western democrats and they're such hate-filled death-worshipping maniacs, justice is probably, on average, being done.

If any random group of 4.5 million Americans were living under the conditions of Israel's military occupation, with their lands being stolen and their houses and cars being bulldozed and their kids being shot in the streets by settlers and soldiers, I would be very interested to see if they would do half as well.
 
I have heard interviews with parents who swell with pride at the fact that their child gave his or her life in order to kill Israeli civilians. This indicates me to me that tens or hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are part of a soceity that values death and endless conflict much more than compromise and life.

I think that goes a bit far. When I look at that, the problem I see is the pride in killing civilians, not mothers swelling with pride that their sons gave their lives for the cause. The latter seems only natural, for a nationalistic people. And as far as taking pride in killing civilians goes, I think that does point to a sickness in their society, but it also just points to a difference in understanding of what constitutes an acceptable target. They're not unusual among "resistance" fighters, in their willingness to target civilians. Half of resistance work seems to be murdering and terrorising civilians, whether it's the Mayan Emergency, FARC, the IRA, the Viet Cong, etc. The loathsomeness may stand out in particularly sharp relief, when we look at the Israeli-Palestinian situation, but it's certainly not something unique to the Palestinians. Which is to say, there may be something sick in it, but calling it a "society that values death and endless conflict much more than compromise and life" is a bit grander than it deserves.
 
If I might David, you have certainly posted reasons that you do not support the Palestinians. These are fair and I will not go into the refutations. I think Pamela and others should be able to handle that aspect fairly well.

For what it's worth I would call myself "firmly pro-democracy." I think what Israel is building is a self-destructing democracy. Eventually it will have to choose between being a Jewish State and being a Democratic one. It's actions now preclude that step being a peaceful one.

What Israel is developing is a very racially stratified society and that is unhealthy for any democracy. I would not go as far as Former President Carter did and call it Apartheid, but it is trending that direction.

I would hope that you could start to see a break between being pro-Israel and being Anti-Palestinian. You are correct, the Palestinians have done little to gain the respect of the civilized world. But the fact that one side is abhorrent is no reason to support the other which is merely horrible. In this situation there is more than a binary choice.
 
Bradley, I'm going to have to protest both of your categorizations. Palestinians as such aren't abhorrent (though their criminals, sleazy hypocrites, and terrorists certainly are) and Israelis as such aren't horrible (though their criminals, terrorist settlers, war criminals, and politicians like Lieberman who proudly call for ethnically cleansing Arabs from Israel proper certainly are).

The vast majority on both sides are lovely, reasonable people who, on the Israeli side, are fed stereotyped images and occasional horrific suicide bombs, and on the Palestinian side are fed, well, not much since they can barely scrape a living together in their ghettos -- but who are terrorized far worse and far more often than most Israelis have ever been in their worst nightmares.

There's hope, but we're focusing on the wrong people. Ordinary people are so ready for peace, and even Hamas has shown incredible restraint for the past two years given all the abductions, assassinations, home demolitions, broad daylight raids, and bombings of peaceful civilian scenes the Israeli army has carried out regularly in that time. (I'm not saying they're perfect and certainly not saying I support them, but we should give both blame and credit where it is due. Even the Qassams are mostly Islamic Jihad, a total fringe group of loonies, not Hamas.)

But even after Palestinians voted overwhelmingly for Abbas and his platform of peaceful negotiations in January 2005, they got completely shafted. Sharon refused even to coordinate the Gaza redeployment (it can't properly be called a withdrawal, because the Israeli army still effectively controls all entry and exit points of Gaza) with Abbas -- all but handing the victory to Hamas. And forget about actual negotiations about the real issues. Sharon refused to do any such thing. Excuses, excuses, excuses, until, surprise surprise, people got fed up and voted for Hamas. (This is roughly the equivalent of Israelis voting for Netanyahu or Sharon -- these men are arch-hardliners, and together they've stolen a lot more land and killed a lot more people than Hamas ever has -- Sharon killed more innocent people than Hamas ever has in one go at Sabra and Chatila.)

My point is, calling everyone names because of their news-getting extremists isn't a good way forward. I'm trying to figure out what the best way forward is. And I'm leaning toward international sanctions against anything supporting the occupation, because nothing else seems to be working.

I wish Israel would AT LEAST stop expanding settlements. What better way to prove to all who tend to believe that Israel's occupation is expansionist and colonialist that they are correct? Imagine someone telling you to stay still and keep quiet until they decided to negotiate with you for a sandwich. Imagine they then winked and said, "Meanwhile, I'll be eating the sandwich. Cheers."

It's a perfect formula for conflict without end. Ceasing the settlement expansion would cool things off so much. Nothing is more urgent right now, and nothing is more infuriating to Palestinians who just want to negotiate the terms of surrendering 78% of their historic homeland and living in peace on the remaining 22% -- the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
 
Pamela, the blog you link to is an impressive catalog of the hardship of life in Gaza. But in the 9 posts that contain the word 'martyr', and the 57 that contain the word 'suicide', I couldn't find one that condemned suicide bombing.

In your links on Barghouti, he says it is important to continue the nonviolent struggle, but says nothing about stopping violence (against Israel - he's quite explicit about the importance of stopping internal, Arab-on-Arab violence).

The fact that you didn't present any links purporting to show Abbas as an opponent of violence speaks well of your integrity.

Miftah 'condems' suicide bombing as "Horrifying indeed, but, no more or less horrifying than what this Palestinian probably faced since his birth...." Its strongest statement is that suicide bombing "do not contribute towards achieving our national project," which says nothing about the morality of the act.

Of course I'm a terrible bigot for following your links, reading them, and taking the Palestinians at their word but - is that the best you can do?
 
Is suicide bombing a cause of Israeli settlements and ethnic cleansing? Or rather is it a response to them?

Israel chose this path.
 
bgates, I haven't heard you explicitly condemn suicide bombings yet. Therefore I can only assume that you support them.

You also haven't condemned the massacres at Sabra and Chatilla. Therefore I can only assume you supported them. I am shocked, bgates, shocked!

You also haven't condemned China's occupation of Tibet. For shame, you Buddhist-hating monster!

I don't think you condemned Hulagu Khan's sacking of Baghdad in 1258 either. Why am I even talking to a Mesopotamia-mauling Mongol-lover (which I can only assume you are, since you haven't condemned those 13th century atrocities)?

Don't bother condemning any of these things, for I can always find a new atrocity you haven't condemned yet.

Have you even condemned the Holocaust? In writing I mean. In public. If not, well... I mean, I can only assume...

Sigh.

May your life treat you kindly, for history will not.

"Opinions founded on prejudice are always sustained with the greatest of violence."

~ Francis Jeffrey, Scottish critic & jurist (1773 - 1850)
 
Am I the only person who doesn't care about the "war" between Israel and palestinians? One side is shocked that they are hit by mildly retarded people wearing bombs from the population that has sworn itself to destroying pizza shops. The other side cries to anyone who will listen when they get a little payback.

What is it about arabs, muslims or the culture (whatever it is) that inspires people to choose the option that is most likely going to lead to an early and shallow grave? Why would you, a palestinian or a sunni in Iraq, decide that the best option for dealing with a group of people who could slaughter you in a week is to attack their wives and children in a marketplace?

I am no futurist, but I predict that the Killing Civilians plan isn't going to end well. It isn't smart for extremely weak countries to create a situation where civilians are part of a war with modern nations.
 
Bradley:

Israel will be the seeds of its own destruction. Not for the reasons you cited, but because as in true democracies thre is freedom of expression. The left ion Israel, like the left in America, is far more interested in villifying the Israeli way of life than coming up with reasonable ways to make tghings better. For them, the only option is complete withdrawal to the 1948 borders.
 
It is true, I have made no denunciations of violence myself, besides an oft-repeated hope that the Israeli military will commit to reforms to minimize the number of civilian casualties.

Pamela. You presented links in response to a request for "influential (not marginal) figures -- politicians, journalists, clergymen and scholars -- who denounce such horrific behavior as unequivocally as [David does]." Your links contain no such denunciations.

The conversation so far has been:
David: Please show me X.
Pamela: You're a disgusting bigot for even asking, but here is X.
Me: Pamela, that does not say X.
Pamela: You're a disgusting bigot.

If you were more interested in convincing me you were right than in insulting me, what kind of things would you write?
 
Adesnik - So you would have supported Lehi / Irgun despite their massive record of murderous attacks on civilian targets (I'm not talking about British soldiers, but rather Arab civilians), including market and bus bombings?

How does this differ from Palestinian terrorism? Because the Israelis managed to get an independent state out of it and then embrace liberal values?

Maybe we should try the same with the Palestinians and give them the same shot?
 
David, those whom the Gods would destroy, they first make crazy.

You are trying to understand a situation for which---for a liberal-democratic, humanist, Israel-supporting, Jew---there is no understanding.

For the words that are used are meaningless, meaning different things to the different interlocutors, so that one can only talk past the other....

Since essentially, for the majority of Israelis (and her supporters), "peace" means co-existence with its "Partners in Peace"; whereas, for the majority of those "Partners," "peace" means the elimination of Israel (that thorn, that cancer). Even the fairest among Israel's "Partners" believes that the only real solution is a bi-national state (and all the bloody dysfunction entailed by that "progressive" attempt to rid the region of the Zionist State).

For you, being "fair" means accepting that Israel has a right to exist and also, that Palestine has a right to exist.

But being "fair" for Palestinians (or at least those in charge of Palestinian destiny)---and therefore by necessity, those who support those leaders, and further, those who identify with Palestinian aims---means that Israel has NO right to exist.

And this must be the case no matter how strenuously the latter might wish to deny it. (Sorry, liberalhawk, but your oh-so-noble protestations count for nothing in the real world, where a zero-sum game has been declared by Arafat, his predecessors and his P.A. successors, as well as the principled leaders of Hamas. "Sari Nusseibah," you say? Well, where the hell is he, and all his fervent acolytes and minions of enthusiastic supporters?)

And it matters not a whit whether one refuses to recognize this fact, grim (for some) as it is.
(For how, when you get down to the bottom of it, can one claim to support a people but not support its wishes?---Ah, yes, of course, but you know better than THEM what is in THEIR interest; you know what THEY should really be hoping for, aspiring to, dreaming of.... Of course!)

But to return to the logjam.... Yes, Israel was born in sin. Her sin was to be birthed; and that sin was quickly followed by the sin of surviving that birth, of having somehow (miraculously?) staved off the destruction that was being prepared for her even as she emerged. (And no, there was no way, logically, she should have survived, but she did---to the surprise of many, the joy of some, and the absolute consternation of quite a few of fearful intensity.

And she continued to sin by continuing to survive.

And so she continues to sin.

And as her sins multiply---the longer she parries her enemies' thrusts (military, economic, and so-called "moral")---the easier it becomes to realize, a la Tony Judt and moralists world-wide---including all those moralists in the Arab/Moslem world---that Israel is not only a criminal state, but a liability (for all kinds of reasons---you name it!) and no longer deserves to survive.

Perfectionists, all of them. (All of us?)
 
"In democracy, there is an inherent preference for solutions that favor compromise over force."

This is key to your argument and I'm not convinced that it is actually true either in theory or in terms of the empircal evidence.
 
I think that Pamela is right to point out that most Israelis and Palestinians are much more moderate and desperate for peace than those of us living more comfortably in other countries can ever appreciate. I think that we do them, and the peace process more generally, a disservice when we emphasize the extremists. Facts on the ground suggest that the extremists are not so great in number as we might imagine from afar.

For example: an organization called OneVoice (www.onevoicemovement.org) is doing powerful work to amplify the voices of young Israeli and Palestinian moderates. Over 120,000 such young individuals (half-Israeli and half-Palestinian) voted last year through them on a consensus document broadly supporting an end to violence and a two-state solution. More than 100,000 more have been trained as "citizen negotiators" to bring these types of discussions and votes to their own communities. If we look at public opinion polls of average citizens, the point that most Israelis AND Palestinians want a two-state solution and share the same basic goals is further confirmed. Unfortunately their leaders don't acknowledge that. And sometimes we don't either.

It seems that the most important thing to be is pro-peace as opposed to pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli. Being pro-peace involves setting aside the images in our heads (whether they are of Palestinians that value death/conflict or of Israelis that do the same). Surely we ought to acknowledge and pay attention to the hundreds of thousands of Israeli and Palestinian youths that are standing up for moderation in the face of many obstacles. And if we care about peace above all else, we should go further than acknowledging them and do what we can to raise their voices even louder. To instead perpetuate extreme images of Palestinians or Israelis is not only to blur the actual situation's facts, but to derail a badly needed peace process -- badly needed not so much for those of us that live comfortably, but for the millions of people that must live in fear and misery due to unbending extremism.
 
Hi bgates,

Very sorry for misunderstanding the question. See, I personally think that actions speak louder than words, and I thought Adesnik was looking for a few prominent Palestinians who, by their words, actions, and careers, clearly support non-violent conflict resolution and clearly do not support the targeting of civilians.

But what you wanted was to see a prominent Palestinian actually quoted, in writing, in public, saying, "I denounce horrific behavior as unequivocally as David Adesnik does."

Damn. Sorry, man, I don't think I'll be able to find that. Therefore I guess I'll have to concede the point. You're right. Palestinians are evil maniacs who deserve whatever's coming to them.

Well, I'm certainly glad that's cleared up. I will sleep well tonight, and I hope you will to, knowing that $10 million dollars per day of my tax dollars are going to the good, democratic, Judeo-Christian white side who would never dream of resolving conflicts through violence, denying millions of people their most basic human rights, or stealing other people's property.

"Our fighting blood was up, and we all wanted to kill 'niggers'... This shooting human beings beats rabbit hunting all to pieces."

~ Letter from an American soldier during the Philippine War, 1899

"Our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners, and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of ten up, the idea prevailing that the Filipino as such was little better than a dog."

~ Manila correspondent of the Philadelphia Ledger regarding the Philippine War, 1900

"The War in the Philippines has been conducted by the American army with scrupulous regard for the rules of civilized warfare... with self-restraint and with humanity never surpassed."

~ American Secretary of War Elihu Root regarding the Philippine War, 1901
 
Pamela, I shouldn't presume to speak for David. But I suspect he would be happy with a prominent Palestinian quoted as unequivocally opposing targeting civilians, even if the quote does not mention him by name. I know I would be.

David, I understand Pamela is a friend of yours. Your patience is truly inspirational.

"When we find any self-governing community afflicted with misgovernment, we can safely and fairly believe that it does not deserve a better fate. It may indeed wish to be governed, just as many a drunkard, in his seasons of repentance and headaches, wishes he were temperate.... But, as such, men do not wish hard enough to keep away . . . from the bar . . . so such a nation, state or city does not wish hard enough for good government to make bad government impossible." - Charles Joseph Bonaparte, Secretary of the Navy 1897 (If you want to get even more pretentious and off topic, Pamela, let's start quoting Proust.)
 
bgates,

I think theres a difference in kind between "supporting the troops but not the mission" (not that I think thats impossible) and supporting the Pals but disagreeing with them. A soldier, by nature, has a mission. Or theres no point to being a soldier. A member of a nation or group does not necessarily have one. To say im "anti-x" where x is a member of a group, implies wanting ill for X, and not being pro-x implies an apathy toward their well being.

Secondly to the extent that Pals have a "mission" they agree on, its statehood. Im not saying, for ex, that I love Pals as individuals, and think theyd be better off moving to Chicago, or embracing occupation (as some "pro-Jewish" critics of Israel do wrt Israelis). Im merely saying that to end the occupation and get to statehood, you need to follow polices rejected by Hamas, and embraced only hesitantly by some in Fatah.
 
Hm... I see that irony doesn't play well with bgates. Tayyib. OK. Never mind. :)

Seriously, though, it's tough when we're speaking from such different worldviews. My basic worldview regarding my fellow human beings is summarized by (pretention alert!) this quote:

"I am a man: nothing human is alien to me."

~ Terence, Heautontimoroumenos, 77

In other words, people are people, and all are deserving of basic rights and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Your worldview is apparently, "The burden of proof is on the subjugated, displaced, disenfranchised, besieged brown people to show that they aren't maniacs deserving of having their rights and property and very often their lives stripped away, often arbitrarily, by a nuclear power under the aegis of a superpower. They have to keep quiet (even while their land is being stolen, their kids are denied an education, their grandmothers can't get to the hospital, they are being shut up in walled-in ghettoes, and thousands of their brothers and fathers and sisters and children are being held in appalling prison conditions with no charge or trial) and act and believe just like us, otherwise they deserve whatever's coming to them and we can freely take whatever land and water resources of theirs that we can manage to grab."

Where can we meet halfway on this? Is such a thing possible? Your very questions are insulting and insinuating in my worldview. Imagine if someone said to you, "Prove to me that Jews aren't insane land-stealing murderers. Look what they've done in Lebanon! Look at all those cluster bomblets still maiming children! Look at Sabra and Chatila! Look at all those settlements, at least half of which were built on Palestinian private property, and all of which violate the Geneva Conventions, to which Israeli is a signatory!"

Not a very promising jumping off point, is it? Not a very nice (or fair) thing to insinuate that an entire people is responsible for (even though Israel's elected government supported or allowed all these things). If anyone were to preface his question in this way, you would probably surmise that his mind was already made up, wouldn't you?

I don't think it's reasonable to put the burden of proof on me when you're the one making such wild (and, in my opinion, racist) accusations about an entire people. Unfortunately, your position is the mainstream position in America at the moment, so however unfair and unreasonable it is, the burden of proof is, in fact, on me. Nonetheless, my evidence appears to mean very little to bgates. There's always a loophole to slip through, a new roadblock to put up, a new demand to be made of the people he thinks deserve to be collectively imprisoned and terrorized, their land and property destroyed or stolen, by the fourth most powerful military in the world. Until, that is, they prove, even under this extreme duress, that they are at least as morally righteous and democratic as we are.

But tell me this: How much would you tolerate me saying nasty things about Israelis as a people and pointing to several Israeli maniacs who've done plenty of nasty things throughout history, and putting the burden of proof on you to show me that, in fact, it's at best premature of me to make ugly generalizations about an entire nation of people? In your case, based on what you've said, you probably don't even know any Palestinians. So whence your expertise? The O'Reilly Factor?

I'm going to venture to guess you've never visited the West Bank or Gaza, either (except maybe a settlement). Whereas I have lived in the West Bank and visited Gaza as well as Israel many times and personally know scores if not hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians. I spent a year and a half on the ground over there and kept close tabs on the American, British, and Israeli press while simultaneously living and experiencing the conditions and events on the ground.

So I really think the burden of proof is on you at this point. And by "proof" I don't mean appallingly insulting generalizations based on a few hand-picked examples.

Meanwhile, may the Iraqis find it in themselves to wish hard enough for good governance to make it come to pass. (Certainly we Americans have nothing to do with their governance problems, or with Egypt's, or with Saudi Arabia's, and Pinochet had nothing to do with us, and the Contras were just great, and Mossadeq in 1953, thank God we got rid of that, er, democratically elected and popular Iranian leader. Much better to have what we have now, no?)
 
Pamela,
Hard to square this
people are people, and all are deserving of basic rights and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
with the immediately following
Your worldview is apparently,[some foul things I haven't said and don't believe, presented in quote marks.]

Once you apologize for that, we can continue.
 
"The burden of proof is on the subjugated, displaced, disenfranchised, besieged brown people to show that they aren't maniacs deserving of having their rights and property and very often their lives stripped away, often arbitrarily, by a nuclear power under the aegis of a superpower."

You and David have been asking me to prove that Palestinians as a people aren't death-worshiping maniacs, have you not? You have been making insulting generalizations about Palestinians as a people, have you not? You are placing the burden of proof upon them to show they aren't deserving of a 40-year expansionist military occupation on their land, are you not? If not, please clarify.

"They have to keep quiet (even while their land is being stolen, their kids are denied an education, their grandmothers can't get to the hospital, they are being shut up in walled-in ghettoes, and thousands of their brothers and fathers and sisters and children are being held in appalling prison conditions with no charge or trial) and act and believe just like us, otherwise they deserve whatever's coming to them"

You and David both ask for proof that Palestinians are at least as morally righteous as we are, and David, at least, makes this explicit demand:

"If one wanted to change my mind about this subject, the best strategy available would be to demonstrate the marginal nature of such death-obsessed individuals in Palestinian society. Point me towards evidence that their numbers are few and their influence limited. No less important, point me toward the influential (not marginal) figures -- politicians, journalists, clergymen and scholars -- who denounce such horrific behavior as unequivocally as I do."

He further says:

"If you want to persuade me to be less pro-Israel or not pro-Israel at all, show me that Palestinian society embodies the humane, democratic values that I cherish and that it rejects the violent, hateful values that so often seem to be on display."

He is clearly putting the burden of proof on Palestinians to prove they don't deserve the appalling treatment that Israel is so free to dish out to millions of Palestinians -- including the five million refugees who apparently deserved to have their ancestral lands expropriated in 1948. They have to prove that they denounce whatever David Adesnik denounces, at least as strongly as David Adesnik does, or David Adesnik will go on believing whatever he already believes.

Meanwhile, no demands are made on the Israeli side. They don't have to "prove" anything. The cluster bomblets on southern Lebanon were militarily justifiable even though every other military expert in the world says they weren't? OK, whatever. Israel's expanding settlements? Well, that's bad, but, uh... suicide bombings! They're much worse. (Do you really think settlement expansion is a result of the two suicide bombings in the past year?) The IDF marched into downtown Ramallah in broad daylight on January 4 allegedly to arrest one wanted man, but instead all they did was kill four civilians, injure twenty more, destroy a couple dozen people's cars, and ravage the area around Ramallah's main traffic circle? Oops. Just an accident.

David Adesnik wrote:

"The governing party, Hamas, refuses to repudiate, let alone apologize for violence against civilians."

Tell me, David, has the Likud ever repudiated, much less apologized for, all its violence against Palestinian civilians? Has the Republican leadership repudiated, much less apologized for, the disastrous and hideous Iraq war and all the violence against civilians that that entailed and continues to entail? Did the Irgun and the Lehi repudiate and apologize for all the civilians they killed before the state of Israel was established? Or did they wait until they already had statehood and security so that they could so righteously espouse the liberal values they abandoned during their quest for statehood? Suicide bombings are horrific, but not any more horrific than deliberate massacres and ethnic cleansing.

Has the U.S. government, for that matter, ever repudiated and apologized for our treatment of the Native Americans? Even if so, it would be a rather hollow gesture now that our state is firmly established and the Native Americans are living in reservations on land we don't want anyway.

"we can freely take whatever land and water resources of theirs that we can manage to grab."

Of course you didn't say this, but Israel is expanding settlements right now, and in any future "peace" deal, they demand the "right" to keep the "major settlement blocs," which happen to contain some of the most fertile land in the West Bank as well as its biggest fresh water aquifer. Dennis Ross, at least, defines any Palestinian who doesn't acquiesce to this kind of deal an extremist.

Who are we to say that Palestinians are collectively criminals and terrorists until they acquiesce to our ideals and demands? There are two stories here, two narratives, not just one. Unless and until we treat Palestinians as human beings, full stop, with the same basic and non-negotiable rights to freedom, self-determination, and private property as Israelis, and as long as we keep looking the other way while Israelis expand their settlements ever deeper into the small remaining areas of the future Palestinian state, what the hell can we expect? Flowers and candy?

The First Intifada was overwhelmingly non-violent from the Palestinian side (and overwhelmingly violent from the Israeli side), but what did it get them? The Oslo process. And during the 1990s, the Oslo peace years, Palestinians sat on their hands waiting for the promised negotiations. Meanwhile, Israel doubled the settlements in the West Bank -- there are now 400,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Who are we to point fingers in light of all this? Who are you to point all your fingers at the Palestinians when there would probably be no state of Israel if not for the pre-state Jewish terrorist militias? (I'm not saying I'm pro-pre-state-terrorist-militias, but you can't have your cake and eat it too, my friend.)

If Israel wants to claim the moral high ground, they should AT LEAST stop expanding settlements. Never mind the 813 Palestinian kids and 330 Lebanese kids Israel has killed in the past six years (vs. 120 Israeli kids Palestinians have killed).

That's all I'm saying.
 
On can similarly imagine a white American settler saying, "Until them Injuns prove to me that they're as freedom-loving and sophistimicated as we are, I say, Westward ho!"

One can imagine a white slave owner saying, "Look at those black slaves, living in mud hovels, allowing their children to be sold away from them, and some of them participating in highly distasteful slave revolts where white women and children are butchered. As far as I'm concerned, until they prove that they're as humane and tasteful as we are, I'm quite satisfied with the status quo, thank you very much."

Haaretz Interviewer: "In return for ceding [i.e. disengaging from] Gaza, you obtained status quo in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]?"

[Sharon's lawyer, Dov] Weisglass: "You keep insisting on the wrong definition. The right definition is that we created a status quo vis-à-vis the Palestinians. There was a very difficult package of commitments that Israel was expected to accept. That package is called a political [peace] process [such as the Road Map]. It included elements we will never agree to accept and elements we cannot accept at this time. But we succeeded in taking that package and sending it beyond the hills of time. With the proper management we succeeded in removing the issue of the political [peace] process from the agenda. And we educated the world to understand that there is no one to talk to. And we received a no-one-to-talk-to certificate [from America]. That certificate says: (1) There is no one to talk to. (2) As long as there is no one to talk to, the geographic status quo remains intact [i.e. no stopping of settlement expansion or dismantlement of settlements Israel wishes to keep]. (3) The certificate will be revoked only when this-and-this happens - when Palestine becomes Finland. (4) See you then, and shalom."

http://www.israelpalestineforum.com/content/view/26/30/
 
I realizing I'm overstating the case. But I'm not sure how else to get this point across:

Collective human rights are fundamental and non-negotiable. They are not conditional on entire nations of people agreeing to our cultural and political edicts.

Furthermore, by denying entire nations of people their fundamental human rights, we are making it more difficult for them to have the economic and physical security necessary to build and sustain a liberal political order (if they so choose) that will ensure our own long-term security and prosperity as well as theirs.

People are people.
 
I've been mentioned a lot in the third person here, so let me clarify my views. Or to be more precise, let me respond to a few select instances in which, shall we say, improbable meanings were given to my words.

"[bgates]and David both ask for proof that Palestinians are at least as morally righteous as we are...

[David] is clearly putting the burden of proof on Palestinians to prove they don't deserve the appalling treatment that Israel is so free to dish out to millions of Palestinians."

That is a gross distortion of what I said. I have never suggested that Palestinians need to prove that they deserve human rights. I have constantly defended human rights as absolute.

Rather, I have asked serious questions about the depth of support forin Palestinian society for the intentional killing of Israel civilians. I have stated that my casual knowledge of the evidence suggests that support for such killing runs deep. I have neither stated nor implied that if such support does run deep, Israeli human rights violations are justified. Rather, I have stated that I identify with the democratic society that rejects terrorism rather than the troubled society that embraces it.

This is not the first time that someone has aggressively read a disregard for human rights into what I have written. If my position is misconstrued again by the same parties after reading this response, I will view it as an intentional insult.

Also: "[Palestinians] have to prove that they denounce whatever David Adesnik denounces, at least as strongly as David Adesnik does, or David Adesnik will go on believing whatever he already believes."

How ironic. The same individual who aggressively misinterprets my words in order to fit her stereotype of a pro-Israel apologist now insists that I am closed-minded.

I inquired about denunciations of one thing: the intentional murder of civilians. If one believes that "people are people", then one should respond to this inquiry with support, not schoolyard taunts.

Now let us move forward with this discussion. I am not interested in apologies. If all parties involved can focus on matters of substance, then we can put the past behind us.
 
Secondly to the extent that Pals have a "mission" they agree on, its statehood.

However, from this grandest of assumptions, a (rather important?) qualification is missing. (No doubt, understandably, since not only has the West has been bombarded continually by this assumption for ages---so that it has become unimpeachable truth--- but it's an assumption that appeals to our sense of fairness and reasonableness....)

The (important) qualification being that Palestinians (or those in charge, or those with the guns and the fervor) may want a Palestinian state---but only if that state can exist without the State of Israel; i.e., instead of the State of Israel or on the ruins of the State of Israel.

But not, it must be stressed (again), side by side together with the State of Israel.

Which is something that even Abba Even, for all his brilliance, was not able to fathom. (So that no, the Palestinians have never missed an opportunity, simply because the "opportunity" they have, according to Eban, supposedly continually managed to miss---viz. the opportunity to establish a state side by side with Israel---was never part of their ideological repertoire in the first place, and hence has never, by them, been considered an opportunity. Not then; not now. So that once again, others, in this case Eban, decided---from their "reasonable" point of view---what was in the Palestinians' best interest, never quite realizing, or wishing to realize, or being able to realize, that, by definition, what was (what is) in Israel's interest---in this case, a Palestinian state co-existing side by side with Israel---could ever, from a Palestinian viewpoint, be in Palestine's interest.)

No matter how much proponents of a two-state solution may wish otherwise. May insist otherwise. May be convinced otherwise.

How otherwise to understand Hamas's complete and total rejection of the existence of Israel? How otherwise to understand the "moderate" Palestinian Authority's tri-partite demand that Israel return to the pre-June 1967 borders, return East Jerusalem, AND allow the Palestinian's who left their homes within pre-June 1967 to return to those homes (the "Right of Return"---and no, this is not negotiating tactic or a symbolic gesture, but a means to ensure that no agreement is possible and that the conflict continues until the Zionist Entity collapses)?

Or for that matter, to understand the Al-Aksa Brigade's (affiliated with the PA) on-going suicide bombing campaign? Or to comprehend the ludicrous position that while the PA is supposedly against terror attacks against Israeli targets (let's call them "civilian" targets), that it will do nothing to prevent them (a policy that has since been taken up, with apparent gusto, by the current Hamas government)?

How otherwise to understand the constant barrage of Palestinian rejection of Jewish historical attachment to the land of Israel, or rejection even that today's Jews are related in any way or shape to Jews of the Bible. Or rejection of Jewish archeological discoveries and conclusions?

How otherwise to understand the barrage of carefully orchestrated slanders (from Durban to Muhammed al-Dura to the current "Al Aksa crisis" and all those in between)?
And the constant villification of Israel?

Etc.

But of course, we know better. Tactics. Frustration. Misery. The Occupation---which Palestinians are doing everything to prolong---and which will continue until the Palestinians get what they want! (And just what is it that they want---remind us?).

And so, while a Palestinian state may be something to be wished for---perhaps---there are definite priorities before such a Palestinian state can---will---be agreed to; that is, agreed to by Palestinians.

In the meantime, Israel has not yet disappeared; and Palestinians continue to suffer, all the while raking in the sympathy and cash, even as they stockpile weapons, dig tunnels, shoot rockets at Israeli cities and kibbutzim, dispatch suicide bombers and shooters (not always, alas, successfully) and prepare for the next round of hostilities to destroy the Zionist Entity, or at least chip away at that Entity in order to effect its ultimate destruction.

But then, given their priorities, and the advantages they enjoy from a world prepared to give them every benefit of the doubt, why shouldn't they be doing this?....

One can only conclude that the real question is why should the Palestinian suffer just because they wish to destroy Israel?
 
I excuse the Jewish state because they were never safe in other states. I excuse the Jewish apartheid because they were murdered by the millions as a minority. I excuse the Jewish expansion because to them "Never Again" has security obligations.

One hundred years after the Armenian genocide the Turks have legitimacy without the Armenians. Fifty years after the Jewish genocide the Germans have legitimacy without the Jews.

How come the Jews cannot gain legitimacy without the Palestinians? Do they have to murder them?
 
Barry,

We dont KNOW that all Pals want a one state solution. Abbas, at least, has stated that he accepts a two-state solution, and reliable witnesses to the Camp David and Taba peace negotiations (like Dennis Ross) suggest that Abbas was shocked at Arafats rejection of Baraks terms.

Now, it may well be that Abbas was truely, in his heart of hearts, a believer in "salami" tactics, but was just more sophisticated than Arafat in how he went about that. But thats not by any means a certainty. Why would he not concede on the right of return - fairly obviously as a negotiating tactic, hes not going to give that up until hes gotten as much as he can on compensation, territory, etc. Is it worth Israel taking a chance on Abbas? Maybe not, but thats not the question that was raised about my post. All I said was that I insist that my beleif that the Pals must accept a two state solution, and renounce violence, IS pro-Palestinian. Someone said this is analogous to supporting the troops while opposing their mission. I find that analogy singularly inapt. An army is sent with a mission. A people is not an army. They are engaged in politics. Even if 90% of Pals want a one state solution (as a serious political goal, not as a daydream - Id love to see Eretz Israel on both sides of the Jordan, but its not a realistic political goal) its not the same as an armys mission. And besides, every member of the US army in Iraq is an adult and a volunteer. "palestinians" includes children who have no political opinions. How can it be said that my concern for them is compromised by my dislike for their "mission"?
 
David,

I think Pamelas comments show the wisdom of my initial post on this subject. By saying youre not "pro-palestinian" (maybe "anti-palestinian"?) you open yourself to the reading that you would deny EVERY Palestinian SOMETHING based on the actions or opinions of OTHER Palestinians. Thats a far cry from saying "I wont support a Palestinian state until there is a Pal leadership in place that renounces and makes full efforts to stop terrorist violence against Israel" That is simply a pragmatic statement, one that can be seen as in the Palestinian interest (A Pal state based on terror and imposed on Israel will not long be a happy place for Pals, whatever their leadership may have convinced them of). And of course statehood is NOT a basic human right of all peoples (ask the Kurds, the Chechens, the Tamil of Sri Lanka, the Tibets, or dozens of other peoples) Rather the assertion of the right to self determination of peoples in certain post-colonial situations, the core of the position for attacking the legitimacy of Israel, is merely a principle adopted recently by the internatonal community for use in settling boundary disputes in a limited number of cases.

To question the "collective right" of the Pals to deny Jewish immigration (as the Pals did during the 1920s and 1930s, which is why an independent Israel became a necessity_ is hardly the same as to deny the right of Pals to life, liberty, and property. It is quite proper to make the implentation of a Pal right to sovereignty contingent on following certain basic international norms, norms required for them to live in pece with their neighbors .Yet you allow yourself to be read as doing the latter.

When you let the other side determine the terms of debate, you have lost.
 
PLO Ambassador to the United States Afif Safieh on the way forward:

http://www.forward.com/articles/we-palestinians-will-honor-our-word/

Just a reminder that there are two narratives, not one, in historic Palestine / Eretz Yisrael. And this guy – the Roman Catholic representative of the PLO in America – is clearly talking peace (on the pages of a Jewish newspaper), and assuring us that he speaks for his fellow countrymen.

What do you think? Should we give it a go and talk to the new Palestinian unity government?

For better or worse, shame is a very strong concept in the Arab world. One reason they talk so big, I think, is because they are so ashamed of their continual military and political failures. (And I’ll condemn them for it just as soon as Bush humbly apologizes for Iraq – kidding, but you get the point.)

Shall we deign to allow Hamas to save face for the sake of the best hope for a peace process we’ve had in decades? After all, if even HAMAS gets on board for any peace process, any Palestinian who opposed it would as much as admit he’s in the lunatic fringe. Much like only Sharon could face down the settlers and disengage from Gaza, Hamas can legitimize a peace process (and fight to uphold it) better and more legitimately than anyone else.

Let’s work intelligently to get them on board. And by intelligently, I mean legally, respectfully, and justly. For our own sake, and the sake of Israel’s children, if nothing else.

Otherwise, get ready for a Palestinian majority between the Jordan and the Mediterranean followed by a one person, one vote, one state anti-apartheid struggle. Not too many more settlements in the heart of the West Bank's best land will take a viable two-state solution entirely off the table.
 
All those Palestinians clamoring for peace is so very heartening....

And why Abbas should give up a key negotiating chip like the Palestinian Right of Return so easily, without a fight, with nary a bargaining attempt, is a hard question to answer. (Maybe because he really means the Palestinian Right of Return? But no, that couldn't be. We know better than that.) Well, one ought never argue about matters of faith, and I don't intend to.

As for the breathtakingly counter-intuitive (and therefore phenomenally sophisticated) grasp of Hamas's true potential as Partner in Peace, one ought at least be grateful that when peace talks do not progress as hoped (or don't even get off the ground), Israel will be blamed for being "unintelligent" rather than "intransigent."

Which is, I suppose, a step up.

(On the other hand, with friends like these, Hamas would really seem to have its work cut out for it.)

To conclude, one must admire, aside from the very touching concern about Israeli children, the not so thinly veiled threat (for the edification of those of us unintelligent types) regarding the future, inevitable Arab demographic dominance of that thorny region between the Jordan and the sea; since this heart-felt warning (if a bit thuggish for some tastes, perhaps) represents---finally, if unintentionally---an uncharacteristically reasonable explanation of (just another reason) why the Palestinians, despite the fervent beliefs (or rather faith) of some, are in no hurry to show up at the negotiating table. (Don't misunderstand me; they will continue to clamor how much they desire peace.)

Clearly, Israel really should be serious about making peace! OR ELSE!
 
All i would add is that the collective, non-negotiable human rights that Pamela mentions and that David claims to support include the right to democratic self-determination.

Yet many who describe themselves as 'Pro-Israel' do not seem to recognise that the denial of the Palestinians' right to an independent state represents the most severe breach of human rights in this entire conflict, nor that, because it is creating conditions designed to frustrate the exercise of this right (settlements etc) Israel would still be plainly guilty of gross human rights abuses even if it didn't torture prisoners, shoot children and so on.
 
One more thing.

David differentiates Israelis and Palestinians thus:

"Rather, I have stated that I identify with the democratic society that rejects terrorism rather than the troubled society that embraces it."

Just to clear up David, you are explicitly saying that dropping hundreds of thousands of cluster bombs in Lebanon, expanding settlements on occupied territory, and torturing prisoners of war does not count as 'terrorism' to you?

Could you define terrorism please?
 
Barak's offers for a Palestinian state, in 2000 and then in 2001, were rejected by Arafat.

The offers were not what Arafat wanted. So he opted for war.

(And just what did Arafat want? The official Palestinian line was, complete Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, Israeli withdrawal from East Jerusalem, and the granting of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees to within pre-1967 Israel---which continue to be the official demands of the Palestinian Authority, considered to be the "moderate" Palestinian party. These demands, translated into real-speak, spell the end of State of Israel and are designed to prolong the state of war between Palestinian and Israelis until Israel gives up in frustration, or is forced to give up by a frustrated world. So far, things seem to be going to plan, as Palestinians are still suffering---though if one really wants to view suffering, one might change one's focus to Darfur or Chechnya or Somalia or Chad or any number of other places, but then that would be totally beside the point, wouldn't it?---and are receiving, because of their suffering, much sympathy and cash, cash that is being used to buy essentials like rockets, missiles, guns and explosives---which in turn are meant to cause Israeli suffering but which result, all the better, in more Palestinian suffering. And hence more public sympathy, support and funding for the Palestinian cause. Were I cynical, I might be inclined to say that it's quite a clever set-up. Perfect, really.)

It is therefore crystal clear that the Palestinian political leadership does not want a Palestinian state if it means that such a state must co-exist with Israel; and that the Palestinian political leadership's aim is to promote suffering among both Israelis and Palestinians, with the intention of ultimately bringing about the demise of the Zionist Entity.

As for the cluster bombs used by Israel in Lebanon, you are quite right to lament that after Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, Hizbullah (whose stated goal is Israel's elimination) felt it necessary to start a war with Israel, launching thousands of the ball-bearing-laden, civilian-killing missiles it had been stockpiling in Lebanon since 2000 at targets all over the north of Israel.

You did mention that, didn't you?

On the other hand, no, I suppose not. And quite rightly (I suppose many would say), since it is entirely irrelevant in the larger scheme of things. One must, after all, keep one's eye on the goal.
 
"If someone wanted to stop me from identifying as pro-Israel, the most effective approach they could take would be to tackle head-on the subject of suicide bombing."

Tackle it head on... as if this issue is difficult to understand. A "Gordian Knot". Very complex, and vexing. Well, which came first, the suicide bomber, or the occupation of his land?

In another blog entry you quote Norman Finkelstein: "To apprehend the motive behind Palestinian "atrocities", this ordinary human capacity for empathy would also seem to suffice. "

He got it right. And some people just don't get it.

I don't see much point in debating any of the Israel-Palestine issues you bring up. If we're serious, we should not feign objectivity. I wish I could phrase my remarks in a kinder, more cordial manner, but I can't, I guess I don't have the education, the communication skills. That's a fault of mine, and I need to work on it.

However I do want to bring up another unrelated point you make.

"It is a sad fact that the world's greatest democratic states -- Britain, France and the United States of America -- have done terrible and unjustifiable things in the midst of frustrating wars. Yet the resilience of their democratic societies has ensured an eventual reckoning with such crimes as well as their ultimate repudiation.
For the victims, such reckoning and repudiation may come far too late. Nonetheless, it says something very important about the ability of those societies to peacefully co-exist with their neighbors."

I'm not sure you actually mean what you are saying here. You talk of the "resilience of [our] democratic societies", as being a good thing, I presume. And a reckoning with our crimes would be a good thing - but a repudiation? That renders your statement meaningless. To repudiate means to disown, to reject with denial. This would not be a commendable quality of a democratic society. However you are correct - in many cases our crimes have been repudiated. In most cases, they are completely unknown, essentially wiped from history, flushed down the memory hole. If you're trying to say that our societies have acknowledged our crimes, and there has been a real reckoning or even an atonement, you couldn't be more wrong. I'll give some examples to argue this point. When did the United States military invade South Vietnam? 1964? 1965? How many Vietnamese were killed in that war? 100,000? 500,000? The majority of Americans simply don't know these answers. By early 1962, the US Air Force was dropping bombs, from American planes, all over South Vietnam - the country we were trying to defend, remember. We know exactly, down to the last soldier, how many US deaths there were in the war. But the number of Vietnamese casualties is estimated to be between 2 and 5 million. Robert McNamara, former secretary of defense and an architect of the war, estimates the Vietnamese casualties at 3.4 million. (You can see him say this in the documentary "Fog of War".) It should disturb us that we don't know how many people we killed, literally within millions. There has been one study that I know of on the issue. The University of Massachusetts conducted a poll in 1990 in which they asked Americans how many Vietnamese were killed in the Vietnam War. The average answer was 100,000. What if there was a poll taken in Germany today, where people were asked how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and the average answer was 500,000. Would you call that a reckoning?

Another example. The bombing of Cambodia. An article by Ben Kiernan and Taylor Owen (perhaps you know him) was recently published in an obscure Canadian journal, and in Znet in the US. They reveal to us that the bombing of Cambodia actually began about 4 years earlier than previously believed, and that 2,756,941 tons’ worth of ordnance was dropped. This is an amazing discovery, and a very commendable article. They also remind us of these words from Nixon to Kissinger:

“They have got to go in there and I mean really go in...I want everything that can fly to go in there and crack the hell out of them. There is no limitation on mileage and there is no limitation on budget. Is that clear?”

And also of Kissinger relaying the message to General Alexander Haig:
“He wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn’t want to hear anything. It’s an order, it’s to be done. Anything that flies, on anything that moves. You got that?”

That's a virtual call for genocide, from the highest officials in the US government. What's been the reaction in this resilient democratic society of ours? No reaction as far as I can tell. These facts haven't been repudiated because they haven't even been discussed. There are, unfortunately, plenty of other examples that would illustrate the point. Such as the US war against Nicaragua, for which the US was condemned for unlawful use of force by the World Court, and the UN Security Council; also not discussed here.

We have "ensured an eventual reckoning with such crimes". Not.
These things are facts to which the US population is completely oblivious - and that's not by accident. Draw your own conclusions.
 
David, my 2-cents - and it truly is that only - is that you have set out with the wrong objective, which is to find out if you are 'pro-Israeli' or 'pro-Palestinian'.

Why can you not be both? I consider myself both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian, because I would really like to see a negotiated settlement that has the chance to lead to reconciliation and, in time, to a lasting peace.

If you are going to be "pro-Israeli", let it mean that you can see past 'la drame Palestinian" in all its sordid forms, to the core of the Palestinian aspirations for self-governance. If you are going to be "pro-Palestinian", let it mean that you can see through to Israeli obstructionism, foot dragging, self-defeating policies to the core of their need to hurry up and make the compromises that are painful to them. If you want to have the label of peacemaker, try to be both, maybe, to understand the strengths and weaknesses of both sides and how they play out.

My sense is, if you do not, you will end up in traps, like asking to be shown that a society is "humane" before you offer up ... support for something they think they have entitlement to. (And this shows up in the debate quite often, usually prefaced by "the Palestinians must be made to understand that ...[insert demand]." My eyes typically glaze over when I read such statements, since they seem aspirational not negotiable, ideological not pragmatic, often orientalist, and without a sense for the real-world dynamics of getting past short-term hurdles to tackle long-term educational/re-educational issues, etc.)

I don't mean to suggest that it's NOT reasonable to hope for a government that has the trappings of a 'partner for peace', but not only is there a catch-22 in that formulation but you can only press it so far as it stands, because ultimately it is their own society to shape for good *or* ill - you cannot be a 100% Patrician and expect to meet your stated goals.
 
"Prove to me that Israel isn't a cult of death and destruction after it just destroyed half of Lebanon and killed about 1,000 innocent people (one-third of them children, six of them U.N. observers or personnel) and then littered vast civilian areas with a million cluster bomblets for no militarily justifiable reason."

You pervessly dont own to their responsabilities of the Islamist that were using civilians and civilians buildings as a shield. How many of those deaths were civilians as a shield?
Do you know how many Hizballah Casualities? Dont surprises you that you dont have those numbers.
But this has even more perverse effects.
Pamela did you read the Geneva Convention? It's better that you read it fast because you and those of your ilk are destroying it and it will not last for long.

Lets just talk about Sabra and Chatila. Sabra and Chatila has nothing to do with Israelis except they controlled the terrain and has an occupiying force had some responsabilities a sort like the Dutch in Sebrenicsa.
Sabra and Chatila was a continuation of Lebanese Civil War
Falangists of Elie Hobeika made it. The issue only shocked the world because no one talked about Christians and Palestinian massacres in Lebanese Civil War . Sabra & Chatila massacre was the retaliation for Damour Massacre that killed 100 Christians including the fiancee of Elie Hobeika by Palestinian forces.

Do you know what Elie turned? To Syria support and went to be Lebanese Minister of Refugees!
 
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