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Does Israel Have a Right to WMD?

| 29 Comments

During the run-up to Saddam's War, a number of critics of the war raised the issue: "What's wrong with letting Saddam have WMD?? We have WMD. Israel has WMD. Why is his possession of them suddenly a cause for war?"

I never unpackaged my responses to that, which were superficially that it was a stupid argument not worth responding to. Recent discussions here raised the issue, and I realized that my own thinking needs to be taken out and exercised a bit to see if it can really walk around.

There are two parts to this. First is that it's OK for he U.S. to have WMD.

I'm not going to get into this in depth here except to point out that the Americans who take the opposite position (no WMD for the US) have apparently transcended nationalism, which would be a good thing if it weren't for the unpleasant fact that the keys to our lives then get handed to a panel where Robert Mugabe gets equal billing with Tony Blair. Great concept, I foresee some problems in implementation.

I'm an American, and further I'm an American who buys into that whole messy "exceptionalism" thing, so I'm probably not the best audience for that argument.

The second argument, however, is a very interesting one. If the assertion is that it's OK for Israel to have WMD, we open up an interesting discussion.

Because the discussion is so fundamentally tribal, I've put up some comments on my own background over at Armed Liberal, in the event that anyone thinks it matters. Actually, I think it's important to do so in order to make such limits as there may be on my perspective clear to everyone.

OK?? Let's go…

I've never lost any sleep over Israel's possession of WMD. Then again, I've never lost sleep over the UK's or France's possession of them either. But there are some key differences among these three parties.

The UK is fundamentally THE major ally of the US, and as such, my level of comfort in/with them is obviously high. They're good guys. And I believe that the nature of their politics is such that they'd have a hard time becoming not-good guys.

France is not an ally of the US, and I've never believed that it was. But France's desire for WMD (specifically nukes) made historic sense in light of their desire not to be beholden to the US during the Cold War. And while France has geopolitical ambitions, it has no meaningful territorial ambitions, and could not manifest any because it is so deeply embedded in the multinational institutions that link the countries of the West.

Israel is not an ally of the United States either. It often acts like one, but the reality is that we are a better ally to them than they are to us. This is relatively simple to explain, in that unlike every other significant nation I can think of, the existence of Israel is at issue. Israel's policies thus tend to have a rather one-dimensional aspect which makes it difficult to rely on them as allies when any issue comes up that potentially impacts their self-perception of their ability to survive both as a nation and as a population.

Sadly, a lot of issues do.

The basic position of the Arab countries and political movements is pretty well summarized by reading MEMRI (acknowledging it's bias…they probably don't go out of their way to translate and summarize the moderate articles) and Arab News as well as Al-Jazeerra, as well as the official sites of the PA. Basically, they'd like their land back. Their desire for Israel to go away is tempered, in some cases, by a certain willingness to accept 'facts on the ground'. But I certainly haven't found a wholehearted acceptance of Israel's existence from an authentically Arab source (I'd love to be sent one if it's out there), and I have read authentic cries for Palestine "from the river to the sea", as well as the usual litany of LGF-published Muslim threats.

Rhetoric is one thing, action another. By my recollection of history, the collective Arab nations have invaded Israel three times; in 1948, in 1967 (preempted by the Israeli counterstrike) and in 1974. Israel, on the other hand has taken and held Arab territory twice; in 1967, when they took the west Bank, Gaza, and the balance of the Sinai Peninsula and the 1982 invasion of South Lebanon.

In each case, the Arab effort was pretty clearly a war of conquest – a war with the objective of destroying or conquering Israel; in the case of Israel's territorial expansion, it appears that one could reasonably argue that they were primarily tactical, intended to improve their military and strategic position vis-à-vis their opponents.

There are arguments about Gaza and the West Bank in terms of Israel's desire to annex versus occupy – a serious distinction to me – and Israel's behavior in establishing settlements, on the initial argument that they were outlying defense posts, and on far more questionable arguments now – does muddy that water. But if Israel intended to annex the West Bank and Gaza, they could easily have done so and no one could have made them stop (the U.S. might have acted to restrain them, but their willingness to play out of the U.S. handbook is limited).

So a big part of my attitude toward Israel comes from my belief, which I believe is supported by facts, that (past the initial grant of territory in 1948) they have no territorial ambitions, and that if their neighbors would leave them in peace, they would most likely leave their neighbors in peace.

This is a fundamental axiom of my position, and one that somehow doesn't get brought into the light often enough, in my view.

This is getting a bit long for a blog post, so I'll break off now and complete it tomorrow. Let's leave this as a "historic overview and background" for what is to follow, which will talk specifically about Israeli WMD.

29 Comments

AL< great post. cant wait for part 2 - and what you wriote will have a definite impact on my own continuing exploration of the topic at UNMEDIA.

AL,

I think you're seriously, fundamentally wrong that Israel is not an ally of the US, that it has little to contribute b/c its existence is challenged.

In the first place, Israel from 1975--1991 was THE testing ground for virtually every new piece of US weaponry. True, the US supplied arms to Israel, but the US got a tremendous amount in return: they got live, real-time field tests of their new-fangled technology. Such testing is and was absolutely invaluable, especially after Vietnam and during the Cold War, when the arms buildup accelerated but the US was not involved in any conflict whereby they could test their new technologies.

Israel, involved in constant conflict, provided the testing ground for those weapons.

Second, Israeli technology is quite important as well, especially semiconductor and chip research centered in Haifa. The exchange of technology in intellectual property is extremely important. Go tell Microsoft, Intel, or Sun that their abilities to exchange technical data and information with Israeli corporations has been prohibited, and see how they take it. Israeli technology play a fairly important role in American IP development, IMO.

Furthermore, I question the basic assumption underlying your position: why does it follow from the fact that Israel's existence is threatened that it could not provide material support to the US if the US needed it?

Israel's policies thus tend to have a rather one-dimensional aspect which makes it difficult to rely on them as allies when any issue comes up that potentially impacts their self-perception of their ability to survive both as a nation and as a population.

I don't know what this means. How does the fact that Israel is greatly concerned for its own existence and security prevent it from being a strong and serious ally to the US? What does it mean to be an "ally"?

I also think that while your discussion of invasion and territorial ambition is generally accurate, you gloss over the impact of the War of Attrition, which is how many in Israel describe what has been happening in Israel since 1982. Namely, the firing of Katyusha rockets from the Bekaa Valley into Northern Israel; the intifada, the suicide bombings, etc. Does this qualify as an invasion? Probably not, which is why I generally agree with you. But neither can the impact of such skirmishes on the Israeli psyche and sense of collective security be ignored or minimized.

I like your essay, with a few caveats. As Daniel says, I do think you underestimate the contributions and the national attachments of Israel to the United States. Israel is in a tight spot, to be sure, and sometimes her percieved best interests will conflict with the USA, but push comes to shove, I think you have an ally there in a way that (say) Canada is at present not. I say that as a Canadian, BTW. But that is simply my opinion.

You ask: "Does Israel have a right to WMD"

There are two attacks on this topic:

1. "What are the "rights" of nations, how do we decide what our rights are vs anothers rights, how do we mediate disputes, how are these rights limited by othernations, and is a WMD unique enough to deserve particular concern?" That's as opposed to

2. "On balance, is it better for Israel to have the bomb than no?"

The former is a moral/legal question: a question of principle, casuistry, history and treaties. The latter is simple pragmatism. The answer to #2 is a no-brainer, in my eyes: if you think Israel is, on balance, Something To Be Preserved, the answer is "yes". When mobs and governments say "Death to So-and-So" on a daily basis, it is sensible to take them at their word, and risking suicide not to. You appear to be taking that tack, and I like it. I agree that the notion of Israel having 'territorial ambitions is ...odd.

The answer to #1 is, I think uselessly complicated and burdened with cultural/moral/intellectual baggage, and you could easily crank a yes or a no out of it, depending on a whole lotta definitions and nuances. It sounds ripe for a Marxist brain-sucking experience in some hands.

I don't read Armed Liberal as saying that Israel hasn't contributed "enough" to be considered an ally... more that if it comes down to a choice betweeen "be a good friend to the US" or "get thrown into the sea", any country will choose the latter, and in the case of Israel (unlike, say, France, or Saudi Arabia), it's a real possibility.

So their friendship comes with some caveats that most countries don't have to make because most countries don't face a threat to their existence, only their interests.

I myself would put it differently - I'd say it makes Israel a stronger ally than most, that they're willing to consider American interests even when they think their safety is implicated. But I agree with the underlying statement.

Awesome essay, but too bad you didn't finish. I'll throw in some topics you were probably going to add.

Unlike France (not now...please), Israel will always feel indebted to the U.S. for allowing it to exist. Israel really doesn't anymore land. I can't imagine Israeli farmers wanting even more desert. By shouting "Israeli oppressors" at every oppurtunity they can, they try to downplay their "kill Israel" aggression documented in several wars.

We have no right to force Israel to do "such and such...", as it isn't a party to any arms agreements, whether Palestinians and Syrians freakin' like it or not. Jews in Germany disarmed under Hitler, and look what happened. Nothing will make them do it again.

However, I would advise Israel to get of the "chemical weapons" as they serve no purpose in deterrence.

ditariel
Your local source of power.

I think today most agree that Israel had the right to a preemptive conventional attack against French-built Iraqi WMD capabilities 1981. Another possible consensus could be that it has no right of WMD first strike, same as any other country, but to retaliation against missile WMD. Probably there is no consensus what in case of a rogue WMD incident without return adress in Israel.

As Iraq is no threat any more, who needs to be deterred? Iran runs long distance missile programs and booted the Bushehr and Natanz nuclear facilities with Franco-German-Russian assistance. Pakistan, the "Islamic physics laboratory" beyond Israeli reach, requires to be regarded as a possible source for rogue WMD supply. North Korea at least must be considered as one who just out of opportunity could follow up in case of an Israeli retaliation strike.

France isn't a threat to Israel currently, but has spread WMD and is politically heavily burdened with the influence of Islamic dictatorship in its former African colonies. The British Island has come close to the U.S. because Continental Europe started to consider itself "a different model of the West" (Schröder-advisor Egon Bahr) after the Marshall Plan launched coevally with the setup of Israel never challenged anti-Semitism.

Whatever stance on Israeli WMD one has, everybody with a brain will agree that Iranian WMD must be abandoned first. Looking forward to Iraqi war-crime trials one might add that it could make sense when French WMD disarmament came next. However, a coverage of Iranian WMD will reveal further details on European and Russian proliferation policy.

So a big part of my attitude toward Israel comes from my belief, which I believe is supported by facts, that (past the initial grant of territory in 1948) they have no territorial ambitions, and that if their neighbors would leave them in peace, they would most likely leave their neighbors in peace.

Sadly this is a mistaken assumption which I believe is supported by facts

"While the Yishuv's leadership formally accepted the 1947 Partition Resolution, large sections of Israel's society - including...Ben-Gurion - were opposed to or extremely unhappy with partition and from early on viewed the war as an ideal opportunity to expand the new state's borders beyond the UN earmarked partition boundaries and at the expense of the Palestinians." Israeli historian, Benny Morris, in "Tikkun", March/April 1998.

"In internal discussion in 1938 [David Ben-Gurion] stated that 'after we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand into the whole of Palestine'...In 1948, Menachem Begin declared that: 'The partition of the Homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized. The signature of institutions and individuals of the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) will be restored to the people of Israel, All of it. And forever." Noam Chomsky, "The Fateful Triangle."

Babylonian, you've wandered into that part of the blogosphere where quoting Noam Chomsky or anything from Tikkun gets you giggles or eye-rolling. (And BTW after the horrors of the new intifada, Benny Morris recanted.)

Try again, with some real facts this time, instead of selective quotes and discredited propaganda. One real fact: Israel gave up the Sinai for a genuine peace treaty, so Israel has a track record of giving up land for peace. What do the Palestinians have a track record of?

As noted above, Part II got written and deleted as uninteresting. I'm doing some reading and will try again tomorrow.

But I wanted to quickly respond to the comments.

Daniel, poikilotherm - Jeanne got it exactly right in interpreting what I meant to say. When given a choice between "be an ally" and "survive", most rational people will choose survival, and I think the Israelis would as well.

leo - I think your regional analysis is interesting, and it's something I'll try and play on when I get this thing done. I think the cold reality is that keeping WMD out of Islamist hands is a game where stalling is the best we can do. This has implications...

babylonian - I'm not sure we'll agree, certainly not based on what you present here. I think the origins of Israel are tragic, in the classical sense (i.e. good intentions leading to conflict). But just as a starter, I'll point out that from what I'm reading now, partition wasn't seriously proposed until 1945...so exactly how was it that Ben-Gurion seriously planned for responding to it in 1938??

A.L.

Yehudit wrote:
Babylonian, you've wandered into that part of the blogosphere where quoting Noam Chomsky or anything from Tikkun gets you giggles or eye-rolling. (And BTW after the horrors of the new intifada, Benny Morris recanted.)

That's OK. I'm familiar with the tactic of ignoring the fact that it's a quote from Ben Gurion and dodging the issue to go for ad hominems at Chomsky and Morris. It's often called avoiding the topic and going off onto a tangent of ad hominem attacks, and saying literally nothing of substance about the actual quotations.

Do you have anything that refutes the Ben Gurion quotes, or many other quotes in the booklet published by Jews for Justice in the Middle East that they came from?

Try again, with some real facts this time, instead of selective quotes and discredited propaganda.

I haven't seen you actually discredit anything.. You've just claimed with nothing to back it up that anything Morris or Chomsky say is automatically "discredited".

Not that I don't respect your opinion or anything, but If you're going to claim to have discredited the quotes, I'd like to see some evidence having to do with the Ben Gurion quotes themselves, not with the people who cited them. IMO it doesn't discredit the Ben Gurion quotes if you say you don't like Chomsky or Morris.

One real fact: Israel gave up the Sinai for a genuine peace treaty, so Israel has a track record of giving up land for peace. What do the Palestinians have a track record of?

The Palestinians have a track record of spending literally years upon years working for a land for peace deal, though perhaps not always in good faith... But for at least the past 20 years or more, they have been willing to recognize Israel's right to exist and are clearly open to a two state solution.

More importantly, however, Israel has a track record of also negotiating but, unlike the case with Egypt, never actually giving up the land, and in fact consistently taking more and more.

If Rabin hadn't been assassinated by right wing Israelis then maybe there would have been an agreement. Clearly there are extremists on both sides who have no interest in peace. Or if Ehud Barak had made a REAL offer such as "here's 100% of your land back" IMO there would be peace.. But when the Israeli offers are like "oh here's 40% of your land back broken up into 20 pieces, criss-crossed by israeli roads and guard towers and surrounded by 25 foot walls" it's no wonder it hasn't worked out as well as things did with Egypt. I hope it does one day soon.

Armed Liberal wrote:
babylonian - I'm not sure we'll agree, certainly not based on what you present here. I think the origins of Israel are tragic, in the classical sense (i.e. good intentions leading to conflict). But just as a starter, I'll point out that from what I'm reading now, partition wasn't seriously proposed until 1945...so exactly how was it that Ben-Gurion seriously planned for responding to it in 1938??

"In 1937, British promises to Zionists and Arabs were considered irreconcilable by the Peel Commission. The mandate was judged unworkable and partition of Palestine was recommended. The Zionists unhappily approved, but the Arabs rejected it, chiefly because the proposal included the forced transfer of Arab population out of the proposed Jewish state."

BTW I like your site :)

Babylonian,

First of all, pointing out the bias and selectivity of the source is an accepted tactic of impeachment. It is ipso facto not argument ad hominem. That does not by itself mean that the propositions asserted are invalid, but it is certainly relevant to point out that the quote you rely on comes from Benny Morris, who not only is a revisionist historian (and I like some of the work the revisionists do), but whose methods and techniques have been criticized as sloppy.

You also conveniently ignore Yehudit's point that Morris himself has recanted various of his more outlandish propositions after the latest intifada.

Second, I question what "large sections" of Israeli society means in the quotation. Surely, some had notions of a Greater Israel, including perhaps Ben-Gurion himself, but I find the claim that large sections of Israelis at that time wanted to invade neighboring Arab nations to expand Israeli territory exceedingly dubious. Don't forget; biblical Israel extended well across the Jordan River.

Third, I'm not sure what Morris's analysis, even if true, establishes. So there were Israelis who wanted more land. So what? AL's initial point referred to the period PAST 1948, and Morris's analysis refers to the War of Independence itself. AL's point is that once the 1948 war had ended, the majority of the Israeli polity did not seek to expand its territory by invading other sovereigns, or by seizing additional territory from the Palestinians. Nothing Morris says refutes this, even if he is accurate.

Fourth, even if individual Israelis did have territorial ambitions, it doesn't follow that they EVER, post-1948, acted on them without provocation. Any territory Israel obtained post-1948 was a direct result of Arab aggression. AL's point is therefore accurate in terms of history if not politics.

Fifth, I'd like to say something about Israel's capture of East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in 1967: while Jordan occupied East Jerusalem, they desecrated Jewish cemeteries and used the Kotel as a latrine. Promptly after capturing control of all of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel returned control of the Temple Mount, the spiritual center of Judaism, to the Waqf. I can think of no gesture whatsoever, on the part of any Arab or Muslim nation or leader, that even comes close to the kind of concession relinquishing control of the Mount under such circumstances constitutes.

Whatever territorial ambitions Israel has or has had, their willingess to turn control over the holiest site in Judaism (which is NOT the Kotel, contrary to popular belief, but the Temple Mount itself) is a territorial concession the likes of which has not been seen in the entire history of the conflict, before or since.

Cont'd

But for at least the past 20 years or more, they have been willing to recognize Israel's right to exist and are clearly open to a two state solution.

Really? Last I checked, the PLO Charter still does not recognize Israel's right to exist.

Your statement is vastly oversimplified. To be sure, there are many Palestinians who recognize Israel's right to exist. But there are many who do not. Therefore, to say that "the Palestinians" recognize Israel's right to exist begs the question. There are, IMO, far too many, both Palestinians and in the Arab world at large, who most certainly do not support Israel's right to exist.

Hopefully, Abu Mazen does, and he will be able to actually proffer something meaningful on security. We shall see; I am not optimistic (not b/c of the Palestinians, per se, but I am simply deeply pessimistic about the entire process).

First of all, I'm not impressed by selective quotes of Ben Gurion's, especially when selected by Chomsky. Which is what I said.

"But for at least the past 20 years or more, they have been willing to recognize Israel's right to exist and are clearly open to a two state solution."

Really? I don't know which is the latest revision of the PLO Charter, or the PA Constitution, or whatever it is now, but I doubt the version of 20 years ago recognized the state of Israel. But if you can find a copy on the web, let's see it.

If they truly want a 2-state solution, why are there several attempted suicide bombings every day, which push moderate Israelis into a more hardened stance? Why do they teach their children to hate and kill Jews? Why don't they demonstrate they can eradicate the loose cannons perpetuating the terror? If they can't, or if the "loose cannons" are part of Arafat's infrastructure, why should they be trusted with a state? Why don't they demonstrate they can run a state by getting rid of that murderous thug who steals their money and puts it in his Swiss account, and won't delegate power?

"More importantly, however, Israel has a track record of also negotiating but, unlike the case with Egypt, never actually giving up the land, and in fact consistently taking more and more."

Israel is willing to give up land in response to a true peace, which includes cessation of terror for long enough that it is clear that the pattern of terrorism has stopped. This has not occurred.

"Or if Ehud Barak had made a REAL offer such as "here's 100% of your land back" IMO there would be peace."

You reveal your preconceptions with the phrase "your land back." Israel tried to give the land back to its most recent rulers, Jordan and Egypt, who wouldn't take it. You can argue about whether the state ruling that area should be run by Jews or Arabs, but the facts are: the last time it was an autonomous country, it was called Judea, and "Palestine" was never a country, only a designation for a region administered by various empires. The local Arabs started calling themselves Palestinians when the local Jews started calling themselves Israelis.

If we are going to talk of giving specific land "back" to individuals, tribes, or familes, then we have to ask: how far back are we going to honor land claims? and the whole area would look like a patchwork quilt, with some currently "Palestinian" land given back to the Jews, ex. Hebron. And if we extended this principle to Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi . . . should we give Medina back to the Jews too?

Finally, about Barak's offer:
Camp David negotiations collapse
Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors
Barak responds
Dennis Ross responds
The authors counter-respond
Benny Morris, Ehud Barak counter-respond

Good points, Daniel. Speaking of the Temple Mount, if Arafat &Co. want to show good intentions, they can begin by stopping the willful destruction of archeological evidence of Jewish occupation of the Mount.

Daniel wrote:
First of all, pointing out the bias and selectivity of the source is an accepted tactic of impeachment. It is ipso facto not argument ad hominem.

thanks for the correction, my mistake

either way it seems a little shifty to attack Morris and Chomsky and ignore the whole point, the quotes of Begin and Ben Gurion, and what has happened to make those quotes come true since then

Daniel wrote:
You also conveniently ignore Yehudit's point that Morris himself has recanted various of his more outlandish propositions after the latest intifada.

Yes I didn't quite know what to make of it because to me, what she said was vague. Is she saying Morris recanted the quotation I cited? Did he recant some thing else totally unrelated to this discussion that has no bearing on the point at hand? (shrug). It seemed like more extraneous tangential info, but maybe Yehudit can fill us in?

Daniel wrote:
Second, I question what "large sections" of Israeli society means in the quotation. Surely, some had notions of a Greater Israel, including perhaps Ben-Gurion himself, but I find the claim that large sections of Israelis at that time wanted to invade neighboring Arab nations to expand Israeli territory exceedingly dubious.

Well to me that is again, a tangent. I'm not saying large sections of Israeli society have notions of a Greater Israel/Eretz Yisrael etc

But I think the evidence shows that the people currently running the place, and the settlers leading them around do.

In fact in regards to the "large sections" issue, I've read stories about opinion polls that say:

"According to June's findings by Mina Zemach, Israel's foremost pollster, 63% of Israelis are in favor of "unilateral withdrawal." In fact, 69% call for the evacuation of "all" or "most of" the settlements." .. article continues citing other polls saying basically the same thing

Daniel wrote:
Don't forget; biblical Israel extended well across the Jordan River.

To me that's irrelevant. Most of the Israelis are secular too and I don't think they base their politics on what some dusty old story book says.

Daniel wrote:
Third, I'm not sure what Morris's analysis, even if true, establishes. So there were Israelis who wanted more land. So what? AL's initial point referred to the period PAST 1948, and Morris's analysis refers to the War of Independence itself. AL's point is that once the 1948 war had ended, the majority of the Israeli polity did not seek to expand its territory by invading other sovereigns, or by seizing additional territory from the Palestinians. Nothing Morris says refutes this, even if he is accurate.

Well the so what is that some Israelis want more land and steadily the government has been bulldozing towns and houses and building settlements on the land. Sure, Israel's government describes everything they do as defensive. I just don't buy that it's "defensive" to blow up or bulldoze the house of people that A) never did anything wrong or B) who allegedly did something wrong and have been dead for 4-6 months already.

Maybe you could make an argument that the sezure of the Sinai was defensive, but how is building settlements on it defensive. It seem to me that's quite offensive, and a violation of the Geneva convention on top of it.

Furthermore I don't necessarily accept that 1967 was completely a defensive war. Egypt's airforce was destroyed while it was on the ground. Look what Rabin apparently said:

"I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to The Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew it and we knew it." Yitzhak Rabin, Israel's Chief of Staff in 1967, in Le Monde, 2/28/68

There are a lot of other quotes from the NY Times, and from various other authors that I'm sure some readers will find some objection to:

"The main danger which Israel, as a 'Jewish state', poses to its own people, to other Jews and to its neighbors, is its ideologically motivated pursuit of territorial expansion and the inevitable series of wars resulting from this aim...No zionist politician has ever repudiated Ben-Gurion's idea that Israeli policies must be based (within the limits of practical considerations) on the restoration of Biblical borders as the borders of the Jewish state." Israeli professor, Israel Shahak, "Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of 3000 Years."

Cont'd

Daniel wrote:
Your statement is vastly oversimplified. To be sure, there are many Palestinians who recognize Israel's right to exist. But there are many who do not. Therefore, to say that "the Palestinians" recognize Israel's right to exist begs the question. There are, IMO, far too many, both Palestinians and in the Arab world at large, who most certainly do not support Israel's right to exist.

Well when I said "The Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist", I mean that the majority of the Palestinian population as well as the current leadership all do, and at Oslo the basis they were negotiating on was a return to pre-1967 borders. The opinion polls of the Palestinian people are sort of the flip side of the Israeli poll I posted earlier.. They said that a majority of Palestinians wanted to have peace and were willing to recognize Israel if they got their land back and the settlements were pulled. So basically the majority of Israelis and Palestinians are on the same page. But not the radicals on either side. And unfortunately the current Israeli leadership is fairly radical, and I don't believe they are actually interested in peace.

Daniel wrote:
There are, IMO, far too many, both Palestinians and in the Arab world at large, who most certainly do not support Israel's right to exist.

Well I don't really blame them. I question the right of Israel to exist as a "Jewish state". I question the right of Saudi Arabia to be a "muslim state". If France declared itself a "christian nation" and said that a Christian trust would own all the land exclusively for the Christians, and only christians could emigrate, I would question their right to do so. Wouldn't you?

I'm for a one state solution. One man, one vote, one state. It seems to me that was the solution in South Africa. Not partitioning the people and going separatist.

It seems to me that the idea of a "Jewish state" goes against the original spirit of Zionism which wasn't about having a state for Jews only, as far as I know. The original Zionists were moving to a place they referred to as Palestine to live among the people who already lived there and that was all well and good, until the whole Jewish State thing came about. And I think it's not evem good for the Jewish people, it creates anti-semitism.

Yehudit wrote:
If they truly want a 2-state solution, why are there several attempted suicide bombings every day, which push moderate Israelis into a more hardened stance?

Why did Herschel Grynszpan shoot the Nazi foreign service officer 1938? Why did the Warsaw ghetto uprising happen? Why did the Irish Republican partisan fighting which began with pistols and rifles eventually escalate to the point where they set off 1000kg car bombs in the middle of London? Are all the Irish guilty for what the IRA did? "Why didn't they stop them?"

Because, in any situation with grievances and occupation and deportation, etc the majority of people want peace, there are still quite a number of radicals that either oppose diplomacy or formal peace process, and think they can win by forcefully driving the other back, the way the Irgun and others drove the British out of what was then Palestine. The longer the grievance continues, the more the violence will escalate.

Yehudit wrote:
Why do they teach their children to hate and kill Jews?

Well I don't think that practice is limited to the Palestinians. I think all sides do that. You have right-wing Israelis like Ze'evi who call the Palestinians "lice" and "cancer" (who ironically was the minister of tourism under sharon!) and what do you think he taught his kids? Do you doubt that the kids who live in really hard core settlements get indoctrinated in school politically? I mean there are a lot of heavily armed Kahane admirers over there, lets not hide our eyes from that reality. Sometimes they blow things up

"A radical right-wing Jewish group claimed responsibility for the explosion that injured 29 Palestinian children, Israeli army radio said."

It seems like that naturally happens when people view themselves as victims. They hate the people they view as their oppressors and that gets passed on to their children. As an American Jew I was taught in subtle and not so subtle ways to hate Germans.. wasn't everyone?

Yehudit wrote:
Why don't they demonstrate they can eradicate the loose cannons perpetuating the terror?

I think they would get killed themselves, like Rabin did, like Sadat did, if they tried to squash the terrorism without getting the land back. I figure that once Palestine exists as a state, the vast majority of radicals will focus their energy on infighting and building their state, and it will be much easier to control the remaining hold outs.

Yehudit wrote:
Why don't they demonstrate they can run a state by getting rid of that murderous thug who steals their money and puts it in his Swiss account, and won't delegate power?

um they had every chance to get rid of him if they wanted to. they voted for him. he's the father of their country

The US and other international observers monitored the election process.

As for the accusations of him stealing money, I don't know if I accept that he really did, and if he did that is their problem if they decide to vote for him anyway, not mine.

As far as Arafat being a "murderous thug" is he really worse than Begin and others blowing up the King David hotel, the massacre at Deir Yassin and other such incidents over the years ? It's all disgusting as far as I'm concerned.

I really don't believe that Arafat controls the suicide bombers the way you seem to suggest. More often than not their actions work against Arafat. They hate his guts for conceding Israel's right to exist among other things. But once Palestine exists as a formal state I think most of them will be pacified, making the task of controlling them much easier.

Yehudit wrote:
Israel is willing to give up land in response to a true peace, which includes cessation of terror for long enough that it is clear that the pattern of terrorism has stopped. This has not occurred.

That's backwards. The process is called "Land for Peace" for a reason - it's not called "Peace for a chance at maybe getting only 40% or less of the Land, if we feel like it"

Any way how can we reasonably expect Arafat with his limited resources to stop all the suicide bombers for extended periods of time when:

1) Israel can't stop them either with more resources than Palestine is likely to have
2) Israel can't stop their own citizens from killing their own Prime Minister or from blowing up schools
3) even the US with things that Palestine will never have, such as the NSA, often can't stop people like McVeigh and other Militia types who shoot abortion doctors and hide in the woods, or the 19 terrorists from 911, or even a couple of snipers in a car with a hole in the trunk

Yehudit wrote:
You reveal your preconceptions with the phrase "your land back." Israel tried to give the land back to its most recent rulers, Jordan and Egypt, who wouldn't take it.

According to the UN partition plan Palestine belongs to the Palestinians. If I have a preconception that is the root of it. Israel has had chance after chance to give the land back but never has. To me, that's the bottom line.
The process is called "Land for Peace" and the land has never been given back, hence there has been no lasting peace. There have been a couple of years here and there with no major attacks though. Yet the land didn't go back.

Yehudit wrote:
You can argue about whether the state ruling that area should be run by Jews or Arabs, but the facts are: the last time it was an autonomous country, it was called Judea, and "Palestine" was never a country, only a designation for a region administered by various empires. The local Arabs started calling themselves Palestinians when the local Jews started calling themselves Israelis.

This is starting to sound like that famous Golda Meier quote about how "Palestinians don't exist". To me, playing word games like this don't really help, they are a waste of time, and they kind of remind me of some kind of scary delusional history. I hate to make the comparison but it almost reminds me of holocaust revisionism.

The underlying message seems to be "well we can't be doing any injustice to the Palestinians because there ARE no Palestinians"

Call the people whatever you want, but the UN partition plan gave more than half the land of Palestine to the Israelis who were a minority in the region, and either the Israelis respect the fact that the UN gave them their very existance as a state, and honor the resolutions or they should just be open about it, and declare themselves a rogue state that doesn't honor commitments it has made.

If we are going to talk of giving specific land "back" to individuals, tribes, or familes, then we have to ask: how far back are we going to honor land claims?

But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about UN agreements and resolutions that Israel agreed to when it was admitted into the UN and since.

We don't want to dig up all that ancient history. We're trying to solve this problem right? Not add new problems to the pile.

To me, the arguments about Jerusalem, the temples, mosques, etc are kind of riduclous, the UN declared it to be an international city, not controlled by either Israel or Palestine. It's not on the table for negotiation legally speaking.

"The extended kingdoms of David and Solomon, on which the Zionists base their territorial demands, endured for only about 73 years...Then it fell apart...[Even] if we allow independence to the entire life of the ancient Jewish kingdoms, from David's conquest of Canaan in 1000 B.C. to the wiping out of Judah in 586 B.C., we arrive at [only] a 414 year Jewish rule." Illene Beatty, "Arab and Jew in the Land of Canaan."

"Palestine became a predominately Arab and Islamic country by the end of the seventh century. Almost immediately thereafter its boundaries and its characteristics - including its name in Arabic, Filastin - became known to the entire Islamic world, as much for its fertility and beauty as for its religious significance...In 1516, Palestine became a province of the Ottoman Empire, but this made it no less fertile, no less Arab or Islamic...Sixty percent of the population was in agriculture; the balance was divided between townspeople and a relatively small nomadic group. All these people believed themselves to belong in a land called Palestine, despite their feelings that they were also members of a large Arab nation...Despite the steady arrival in Palestine of Jewish colonists after 1882, it is important to realize that not until the few weeks immediately preceding the establishment of Israel in the spring of 1948 was there ever anything other than a huge Arab majority. For example, the Jewish population in 1931 was 174,606 against a total of 1,033,314." Edward Said, "The Question of Palestine." (from here)

Babylonian,

But I think the evidence shows that the people currently running the place, and the settlers leading them around do.

I think this is way off. In his heart of hearts, I'm sure Sharon would rather not concede land. But that's not the reality. As you note, the Israeli polity overwhelmingly supports disbanding the settlements, and the same polity has also show sensitivity to the cease-fire process itself--consider how Sharon got elected.

Sharon is a realist and a politician, whatever his personal thoughts may be. If he does not give the Israeli public what it plainly wants-a cease-fire that includes disbanding the settlements, he knows they'll just vote him out of office and elect someone who will.

Your assertion that "the settlers lead the government" is woefully inaccurate, IMO. The vast majority of Israeli society views the settlers as radicals at least, and dangerous extremists at worst. Sharon may ideologically be closer to the settlers than the doves, but he's a politican in a democracy, and only an idiot couldn't see which way the wind is blowing.

Sharon knows full well the settlements will have to go in large part. The settlers hardly run the government in any way, shape or form.

My point about biblical Israel is not justification for land expansion, but to point out that if Israel really had territorial ambitions, they would have extended FAR beyond the current boundaries.

I just don't buy that it's "defensive" to blow up or bulldoze the house of people that A) never did anything wrong or B) who allegedly did something wrong and have been dead for 4-6 months already.

The homes they bulldoze belong to people who gave succor to terrorists, who knowingly supported and associated with persons who they knew were planning to indiscriminately kill women and children. Is it defensive? No. It's retributive. The notion is that if you willingly associate with murderers of women and children, you are an accessory before the fact.

In any case, Alan Dershowitz makes mincemeat of this argument in his latest book.

I think you mistake me as a supporter of the settlements, Bab. That's not so at all; I'm more than happy to disband them.

Furthermore I don't necessarily accept that 1967 was completely a defensive war. Egypt's airforce was destroyed while it was on the ground.

IMO, this is the most fallacious proposition of your argument. EVERYONE, including the various
Arab states themselves, admits they were on the verge of invading. The fact that Nasser did not really want war is completely immaterial. He sent divisions into Sinai b/c he knew full well most of the rest of the Arab world was going to invade, and he needed to proffer at least token support for that effort.

It's burying one's head in the sand, IMO, to question whether Israel was defending itself by launching the Six-Day-War. Israel destroyed Egypt and Syria's air forces on the ground b/c they did precisely what those nations least expected: they attacked, before the Arab armies could attack.

Let me get this straight: in the face of a patently obvious and huge military massing on the borders of Israel, in the face of indisputable intelligence on what was planned, you think Israel had no right to take the fight to the putative aggressors?

That's preposterous, IMO.

I don't disagree that a majority of Palestinians support Israel's right to exist. But why does poll after poll consistently show high levels of support for the suicide bombings? Not for Hamas, per se, which accomplishes lots of good in the territories, but for the suicide bombings explicitly?

Well I don't really blame them. I question the right of Israel to exist as a "Jewish state". I question the right of Saudi Arabia to be a "muslim state". If France declared itself a "christian nation" and said that a Christian trust would own all the land exclusively for the Christians, and only christians could emigrate, I would question their right to do so. Wouldn't you?

I don't question that right at all, in any way, shape, or form. The existence of a Jewish state is the only realpolitik way to prevent another attempted genocide of the Jewish people. S. Arabia can be a muslim state if it wants, but it is a theocracy and Israel is not, so the analogy does not square.

Bab, 1.5 million Israeli Arabs live inside the borders of Israel. Your analogy is simply fallacious, b/c the land is not exclusively reserved for Jews. France is also a tad bigger than Israel, so it is a completely different situation. If Israel was the size of France, I doubt the conflict would appear the way it does today.

The examples you proffer are not similar enough in the salient aspects to constitute sound analogy.

I'm for a one state solution. One man, one vote, one state.

I'm not. I've blogged on this before; two-state solution is the only viable one, if any is. In any case, it's not going to happen, so it's moot.

I love the fact that Israel is a Jewish state. I think a Jewish state is absolutely crucial to the survival of the Jewish people. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

So I think we have quite a fundamental disagreement.

Daniel wrote:
I don't question that right at all, in any way, shape, or form. The existence of a Jewish state is the only realpolitik way to prevent another attempted genocide of the Jewish people.

by trying to concentrate them all in a tiny piece of land so they're all in one place, and then pissing off all the neighbors? To me that seems to be a recipe for further genocide.

What's wrong with living peacefully in a multicultural society? It works for my family.

That's the recipe for security of the Jewish people? It's even causing major backlash for diaspora Jews.

I had written:
Furthermore I don't necessarily accept that 1967 was completely a defensive war. Egypt's airforce was destroyed while it was on the ground.

Then you wrote:
IMO, this is the most fallacious proposition of your argument. EVERYONE, including the various Arab states themselves, admits they were on the verge of invading. The fact that Nasser did not really want war is completely immaterial. He sent divisions into Sinai b/c he knew full well most of the rest of the Arab world was going to invade, and he needed to proffer at least token support for that effort.

In Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharatt's personal diaries, there is an excerpt from May of 1955 in which he quotes Moshe Dayan as follows: "[Israel] must see the sword as the main, if not the only, instrument with which to keep its morale high and to retain its moral tension. Toward this end it may, no - it must - invent dangers, and to do this it must adopt the method of provocation-and-revenge...And above all - let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries, so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space." Quoted in Livia Rokach, "Israel's Sacred Terrorism."

"The former Commander of the Air Force, General Ezer Weitzman, regarded as a hawk, stated that there was 'no threat of destruction' but that the attack on Egypt, Jordan and Syria was nevertheless justified so that Israel could 'exist according the scale, spirit, and quality she now embodies.'...Menahem Begin had the following remarks to make: 'In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.' "Noam Chomsky, "The Fateful Triangle."

Daniel wrote:
Bab, 1.5 million Israeli Arabs live inside the borders of Israel. Your analogy is simply fallacious, b/c the land is not exclusively reserved for Jews.

I suppose Israeli Arabs do reside inside Israel though when there are parties in the Knesset which openly advocate their forced ethnic cleansing, who try to ban arab parties from participating in the Knesset and who try to pass laws which make discrimination
official policy (see below) I don't know if I would call it "living"

As far as the land being exclusively reserved, Um sure it is - the majority of the land is owned by a quasi governmental organization called the Jewish Agency which holds the land in perpetuity for the Jewish people.

"In the early years of the new movement, Congresses were heard annually or biannually. Among the institutions developed in those early years was the Jewish National Fund, organized to purchase land in Mandatory Palestine for the benefit of the Jewish People in perpetuity."
http://www.meretzusa.org/wzorg.shtml

This article refers to pre-WWI times. But whether the Jewish National Fund or Jewish Agency was set up to purchase land or not, it also found itself in possession of seized land as well. And it still controls the land to this day.

The de facto policy was to openly refuse to allow Israeli arabs to use the land. The supreme court struck down this practice (and were ignored), and then the ultra right wingers proposed to codify the practice as law. The law was eventually defeated but that doesn't change the fact that this went on for a very long time and probably still is going on.

"JERUSALEM -- Touching off a divisive national debate, the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has endorsed a proposed law that allows Jews to bar Israeli Arab citizens from buying homes in many communities.

The attempt to legalize "Jews-only" towns was swiftly criticized by many Israeli politicians and human rights groups, who said it was a discriminatory and racist proposal. Supporters praised the law for protecting what they called the essence of Zionism.

The debate goes to the heart of Israel's existential contradiction: How can it be both a Jewish state and a democratic state?"
from an article originally published in the Houston Chronicle

or Read about the Law that was proposed by the right wing at the BBC

Daniel wrote:
I love the fact that Israel is a Jewish state. I think a Jewish state is absolutely crucial to the survival of the Jewish people. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

So I think we have quite a fundamental disagreement.

I guess so. There's of course nothing wrong with a state made up of Jewish people, if that's how it worked out naturally. But I can't possibly approve of any form of ethnic cleansing in the name of Jewish nationalism, most of all, not in my name. It just seems like the most horribly cynical and ironic outcome.

best,

"Most of the Israelis are secular too and I don't think they base their politics on what some dusty old story book says."

Another nail in the coffin of your credibility.

That "dusty old story book" contains national mythology, poetry, theology, and history. Just because something is described in the Bible doesn't mean it's true. Just because something is described in the Bible doesn't mean it isn't true.

It is a fact that in Biblical times (which is just a designation for a period of history) Jewish terroritory at various times included what is now the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and parts of Saudi Arabia. There is ample archeological evidence for this. Jericho, Nineveh, Babylon, Hevron, were all real places.

If your only reaction to the statement "biblical Israel extended well across the Jordan River." (which is a simple fact) is to sneer at the Bible as a dusty story book - you are a very ignorant person, and you need to read some unbiased primary-document-based Jewish history of the period.

These sites might help:
intro to biblical archeology
Biblical Archeology Society
Another biblical archeology site
Dead Sea Scrolls

Another nail in the coffin of your credibility.

I don't take seriously quotes by Israel Shahak either. It says something that the only way you can make your points is to quote either historians like Morris who have changed their minds about the intifada, or virulently anti-Israel propagandists like Chomsky and Shahak. In fact, Shahak is the paradigm of the self-hating Jew, since he wasn't content with just leaving Judaism but has made a career out of maligning the religion itself .

Since Shahak spends a lot of time distorting the Talmud, here are two corrective sites.

The real truth about the Talmud
A truth-based response to: "TALMUD UNMASKED"

BTW when I googled Shahak I found that most of the sites which cited him approvingly were neo-Nazi, Holocaust revivionist, and Arab fundamentalist sites. Is that the company you like to keep, Babylonian?

"I just don't buy that it's "defensive" to blow up or bulldoze the house of people that A) never did anything wrong or B) who allegedly did something wrong and have been dead for 4-6 months already. "

Many of the houses in Gaza are terminals for tunnels from Egypt where arms are smuggled. Since Israel began the policy of tearing down houses of families of suicide bombers, more people have turned in relatives who were planning attacks, because they don't want their house torn down. It's harsh, but it seems to be working.

"Maybe you could make an argument that the sezure of the Sinai was defensive, but how is building settlements on it defensive. It seem to me that's quite offensive, and a violation of the Geneva convention on top of it."

Once Israel acquired Sinai through war, they could do whatever they liked with it. That's fully within the world-wide historical understanding of the rights of the winner of a war. What does the Geneva convention have to do with it? (Which Geneva convention BTW?) Chapter and verse please.

"I don't necessarily accept that 1967 was completely a defensive war. Egypt's airforce was destroyed while it was on the ground."

What does that have to do with it being a defensive war?

"I'm not saying large sections of Israeli society have notions of a Greater Israel/Eretz Yisrael etc. But I think the evidence shows that the people currently running the place, and the settlers leading them around do."

Since polls of Israelis consistently show willingness to give land for true peace (as you cited), and since Israel is a democracy with no hesitation about taking down a government in which they lose confidence, how can you make a case that the leaders want to expand against the wishes of the populace?

"As an American Jew I was taught in subtle and not so subtle ways to hate Germans.. wasn't everyone?"

As a matter of fact, no. My parents were both Holocaust refugees and they made a point of not letting that keep them from buying Mercedes, visiting, Germany, etc. But I agree that many Jews do what you describe.

But in the case of the Palestinians, we are talking about state-sponsored hatred taught in the school system, over a period of decades, even after they formally agreed to stop. If you follow my link, you see that even UNRWA corroborated this. There is no equivalent of this systemically-taught hatred in Israel.

"If France declared itself a "christian nation" and said that a Christian trust would own all the land exclusively for the Christians, and only Christians could emigrate, I would question their right to do so. Wouldn't you?"

Since that is an exact description of most Arab nations (substitute Islam for Christianity), I await your questioning of their right to do so. However, that is not a description of Israel. People of many different faiths are citizens of Israel, hell, the headquarters of the Bahai faith is in Haifa (because they are persecuted in their country of origin, Iran). You don't have to be Jewish to emigrate to Israel.

However, most Arab countries not only don't allow non-Muslims to become citizens, they don't allow them to practice their religions at all, or allow anyone to become a citizen who isn't related to a current citizen. The only nations in the middle east which allow Palestinians to become full citizens are Israel and Jordan.

"I'm for a one state solution. One man, one vote, one state."

Which - given the track record of the region - is a shortcut to dhimmi status for Jews, Christians, and any other non-Muslim in a Muslim-dominant state. Half of Israel's Jews came from such societies - why would they want to go back? (Instructive that the Israelis who lived under Arab rule tend to be more right wing than those from Europe).

Given the dismal state of human rights in Arab societies, why would anyone want this as a solution?

"As far as Arafat being a "murderous thug" is he really worse than Begin and others blowing up the King David hotel, the massacre at Deir Yassin and other such incidents over the years ? "

Oh puleeze. If you look at what Arafat is actually responsible for - like the Munich massacres, the Achille Lauro, murdering US diplomats - how could you even doubt that? But you don't seem to want to look at his mafia-like rule of the territories, either, so you seem to be in a heavy state of denial.

Do you think making excuses for Arafat helps the Palestinian people? Do you think his "election" was the equivalent of Sharon's election?

Deir Yassin
Deir Yassin
And BTW, ifyou want to parade the rest of the dusty canards (Mohammed Al-Dura, Jenin, Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount, the USS Liberty) I've got rebuttals for all those too. So don't bother.

"I can't possibly approve of any form of ethnic cleansing in the name of Jewish nationalism, most of all, not in my name. It just seems like the most horribly cynical and ironic outcome."

You are choosing frameworks for the selective facts you allow in, that lead you to the conclusion that "Israel = ethnic cleansing." You are carefully screening out any facts that would lead you to a different conclusion. You are getting your info from people like Shahak who have demonstrably falsified facts about Judaism. You have shown you know nothing about Israel's legal system and immigration policy, Jewish history, or the history of the corruption of the PA, so I assume there are many other facts you are ignorant of as well. So your inputs are very faulty - please consider that your conceptual frameworks and conclusions may be faulty as well.

I had written:
"Most of the Israelis are secular too and I don't think they base their politics on what some dusty old story book says."

Yehudit replied:
Another nail in the coffin of your credibility...blahblah...If your only reaction to the statement "biblical Israel extended well across the Jordan River." (which is a simple fact) is to sneer at the Bible as a dusty story book - you are a very ignorant person"

What's with all the ad hominems? Why is it a nail in the coffin my my credibility that you personally don't like the sources I quoted?

Might it be a sign of your own closed mindedness?

If you mean my credibility as far as you're concerned, well fine. everyone's entitled to their opinion. but it seems like you're attacking my credibility in general instead of discussing the issues here to me.

I stand by my original statement that I don't think most Israelis base their politics on the Torah.

later Yehudit wrote:
Another nail in the coffin of your credibility. [re quoting Israel Shahak]

once again, you're having a knee-jerk reaction and attacking Shahak while ignoring the quote:

"The main danger which Israel, as a 'Jewish state', poses to its own people, to other Jews and to its neighbors, is its ideologically motivated pursuit of territorial expansion and the inevitable series of wars resulting from this aim...No zionist politician has ever repudiated Ben-Gurion's idea that Israeli policies must be based (within the limits of practical considerations) on the restoration of Biblical borders as the borders of the Jewish state."

Do you have anything to say to the substance of these two sentences which were at the center of my point?

Of what possible relevance is Shahak's personal feelings about religion in his life, or of the Talmud ? The quote is about zionism and expansionism and its effects on world Jewry.

Yehudit wrote:
It says something that the only way you can make your points is to quote either historians like Morris who have changed their minds about the intifada, or virulently anti-Israel propagandists like Chomsky and Shahak.

"It says something" ? what does it say? Why not come out and say what you mean?

So what if Morris had one idea about the intifada and then later changed is mind, if he did? That has nothing to do with the quote I posted which had to do with partition in the 1940s does it?

Again you are avoiding the point of the quote I posted saying that large portions of society including Ben Gurion were opposed to or extremely unhappy with partition and viewed the war as an opportunity to spread the borders. Why don't you address that?

I also don't think it's particularly accurate of you to refer to Chomsky and Shahak as "virulently anti-Israel propagandists".

Yehudit wrote:
BTW when I googled Shahak I found that most of the sites which cited him approvingly were neo-Nazi, Holocaust revivionist, and Arab fundamentalist sites. Is that the company you like to keep, Babylonian?

This is just cheap, uncalled for, and doesn't make you look very reasonable IMO.

I don't "keep company" with neo-Nazis, Holocaust revisionists or any kind of fundamentalists, sorry to disappoint you. I showed you where the Shahak quote came from, a pamphlet from Jews for Justice in the Middle East.

Yehudit wrote:
Many of the houses in Gaza are terminals for tunnels from Egypt where arms are smuggled.

OK, so arrest the people if they committed a crime and put them in jail. That's the way we handle smuggling tunnels under the Mexican/US border

But I'm sure you know that they bulldoze and blow up a lot more than just houses that conceal tunnels. They blow up houses as retaliation all the time, even when the people they are supposedly retaliating against have been dead for months becuase they committed suicide bombings. They bulldoze houses that they claim don't have the proper permits all the time, with little or no notice given.

Yehudit wrote:
Since Israel began the policy of tearing down houses of families of suicide bombers, more people have turned in relatives who were planning attacks, because they don't want their house torn down. It's harsh, but it seems to be working.

So your point is that tne ends justify the means no matter what the means are?

Yehudit wrote:
Once Israel acquired Sinai through war, they could do whatever they liked with it. That's fully within the world-wide historical understanding of the rights of the winner of a war. What does the Geneva convention have to do with it? (Which Geneva convention BTW?) Chapter and verse please.

Fourth Geneva Convention, Part III : Status and treatment of protected persons, Section III : Occupied territories, Article 49.

"The Geneva Convention requires an occupying power to change the existing order as little as possible during its tenure. One aspect of this obligation is that it must leave the territory to the people it finds there. It may not bring its own people to populate the territory. This prohibition is found in the convention's Article 49, which states, 'The occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.'" John Quigley, "Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice."

and...

"Under the UN Charter there can lawfully be no territorial gains from war, even by a state acting in self-defense. The response of other states to Israel's occupation shows a virtually unanimous opinion that even if Israel's action was defensive, its retention of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was not...The [UN] General Assembly characterized Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as a denial of self determination and hence a 'serious and increasing threat to international peace and security.' " John Quigley, "Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice."

Yehudit wrote:
Since polls of Israelis consistently show willingness to give land for true peace (as you cited), and since Israel is a democracy with no hesitation about taking down a government in which they lose confidence, how can you make a case that the leaders want to expand against the wishes of the populace?

From the very fact that expansion of the settlements has steadily continued for decades.

" As President Bush develops his latest approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the administration does not intend to make a significant effort to curb the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, one of the most troubling irritants to Palestinians.

The White House routinely calls on the Israelis to stop settlement activity, but U.S. officials have concluded that there is nothing to be gained in further pressing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, an impassioned promoter and defender of a settler population that has grown by two-thirds during the past decade.

...

Monitors from the Israeli group Peace Now, which opposes settlements, say more than 40 settlements have been created since Sharon took office, many of them far from any land inhabited by Israelis."
Bush Won't Press End To Israeli Settlements
By Peter Slevin, Washington Post [US]
Sunday, July 28, 2002; Page A23

"Ariel Sharon has brushed aside an appeal by the White House to stop an unprecedented move by Jewish settlers into a Palestinian district of Jersualem which his critics say will further hinder a political settlement."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,931141,00.html

"Ofra and other Jewish settlements across the West Bank are expanding nearly unabated, contrary to Israel's long-stated official policy. New housing, new roads and new construction are progressively chopping up the territory claimed by Palestinians for a future state.

Much of the growth has occurred since the start almost 27 months ago of a bloody era of Israeli-Palestinian fighting in which settlers have been fair game for Palestinian gunmen. Some of the neighborhoods that have popped up here are named in honor of residents killed in Palestinian attacks.

Jewish settlers see the land as their God-given legacy. Every Israeli government for the past three decades has allowed expansion of the settlements with few restrictions and often with overt support. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon regards them as a strategic imperative, a way of ensuring Israeli security by blocking contiguous Palestinian territory."
Settling In for the Duration
by Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times [US]
December 24, 2002

BTW here's one Benny Morris piece. I believe he also alluded to his change of heart in The New Republic but I can't find that one.

Yehudit wrote:
But in the case of the Palestinians, we are talking about state-sponsored hatred taught in the school system, over a period of decades, even after they formally agreed to stop. If you follow my link, you see that even UNRWA corroborated this.

I think I addressed why this happens before when I said:

"It seems like that naturally happens when people view themselves as victims. They hate the people they view as their oppressors and that gets passed on to their children. As an American Jew I was taught in subtle and not so subtle ways to hate Germans.. wasn't everyone?"

You concurred that many Jews also teach their children to hate the people they view as having oppressed them. That pretty much makes my point. People do that. It's unfortunate, but it's not unique to this situation IMO. Schoolbooks are created by human beings and are political. Just look at the way the Japanese schoolbooks deal with their role in the wars of the 20th century.

Yehudit wrote:
"If France declared itself a "christian nation" and said that a Christian trust would own all the land exclusively for the Christians, and only Christians could emigrate, I would question their right to do so. Wouldn't you?"

Since that is an exact description of most Arab nations (substitute Islam for Christianity), I await your questioning of their right to do so.

Um why wait? I did that before. If you go back and read what I wrote it was:

"I question the right of Israel to exist as a "Jewish state". I question the right of Saudi Arabia to be a "muslim state". If France..."

And is it really a description of most Arab nations ? I think that's a bit of an exagguration. Arab nations still have Christian and Jewish populations. Some are better or worse than others in that respect. But as I clearly said from the onset, I don't approve of those states either.

Yehudit wrote:
However, that is not a description of Israel.

But I think it is - Israel describes itself as a Jewish state. Like many Muslim states which have the star and crescent on their flags, Israel has the star of david on its flag. And Israel gives special rights to members of the Jewish faith, as discussed earlier with the land being held for the Jewish people, and in other ways such as non-Jews do not get the benefits of the "Law of Return"

Yehudit wrote:
People of many different faiths are citizens of Israel, hell, the headquarters of the Bahai faith is in Haifa (because they are persecuted in their country of origin, Iran).

I didn't say people of many different faiths weren't citizens of Israel. I only talked about their emigration rights, which are different from those of Jews.

I had written:
"I'm for a one state solution. One man, one vote, one state."

Yehudit wrote:
Which - given the track record of the region - is a shortcut to dhimmi status for Jews, Christians, and any other non-Muslim in a Muslim-dominant state. Half of Israel's Jews came from such societies - why would they want to go back? (Instructive that the Israelis who lived under Arab rule tend to be more right wing than those from Europe).

The thing is you're assuming how things are going to turn out, and I think you're generalizing about how Muslim or Arab states work.

Yehudit wrote:
Given the dismal state of human rights in Arab societies, why would anyone want this as a solution?

You're making a leap here.. the leap is that my suggestion that I prefer a one state solution means that I prefer Israel to become a muslim theocracy, when in fact I prefer a completely secular socialist democracy with a focus on Human and Civil rights for all.

Yehudit wrote:
Oh puleeze. If you look at what Arafat is actually responsible for - like the Munich massacres, the Achille Lauro, murdering US diplomats - how could you even doubt that?

Because I also looked at how the Irgun blew up civilians including Jews in the King David Hotel and I also looked at the various massacres that took place in the early years. The Munich massacres were terrible. The Achille Lauro, horrible. I don't know if it can be conclusively proven that Arafat was personally responsible for them, but if it can then he should go to the International Criminal Court IMO.

As I said earlier: "It's all disgusting as far as I'm concerned." (referring to terrorism on both sides)

Yehudit wrote:
But you don't seem to want to look at his mafia-like rule of the territories, either, so you seem to be in a heavy state of denial

If any leader isn't corrupt I am surprised. I tend to assume they are and I am surprised if they aren't.

Yehudit wrote:
Do you think making excuses for Arafat helps the Palestinian people?

I don't believe I've "made excuses" for Arafat

It seems like Sharon isn't exactly "Mr. Clean hands" either..

"The Haaretz newspaper, citing a document obtained from Israel’s Justice Ministry, said Sharon and his son Gilad are suspected of receiving bribes, committing breach of trust and fraud and deceiving the police and Israel’s state comptroller."

Sharon investigated over £1m bribe - report

And of course we all know about his problems with Sabra and Shatila.

" In an astonishing letter to the Palestinian survivors of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila camps massacres, nine Israeli women's peace groups have told Palestinians in Beirut that they support their efforts to indict the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, for "war crimes'' committed against them almost exactly 20 years ago."
Prosecute Sharon for war crimes, Israeli women say

Yehudit wrote:
Do you think his "election" was the equivalent of Sharon's election?

It's hard to compare elections isn't it. I'm not sure what you're asking exactly. It would seem strange for me, as an American, considering what happened in our last elections to criticize the elections of other countries. You know, glass houses and all.

"RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- As Palestinian election officials emptied boxes brimming with ballots and began the momentous process of counting, two facts emerged quickly and clearly: Voters had turned out in phenomenal numbers, and Yasser Arafat was racing toward a landslide victory.

With 60 percent of the ballots counted under the watchful eyes of international observers, Arafat received 85 percent of the votes in the historic and mostly peaceful exercise of selecting a president for Palestine under self-rule."


http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9601/palestine_elex/01-21/12am/

The CNN article is from 1996. I believe that there was another election scheduled for four years later but Arafat canceled it, following hte usual practice in third world sinkholes:

One person, one vote, one time.

"Palestine became a predominately Arab and Islamic country by the end of the seventh century.

It didn't become a predominantly Arab and Islamic country by the end of the 7th century, it was conquered. And the process of Arab colonization took much longer. Said is simply buying the whole Muslim myth, which is now being eroded by modern scholarship.

See Patricia Crone and Michael Cook: Hagarism.

Edward Said may be a first class lit crit, but he is not a historian.

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