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January 04, 2006

Comments

"The TImes is suggesting this means Netanyahu stands to gain electorally in March now."

it certainly seems inevitable that there will be some such effect. How much remains entirely to be seen.

I once never would have thought I'd be praying (figuratively speaking) for Sharon's health, but that's what I've been doing for the past year, and more so since he broke with Likud, and more so since his stroke of recent days.

It's so typical, though. The one reliable thing in Israel-Palestinian events is that whenever there's a positive development, it all goes to hell soon enough.

Once again, if I believed in a God, I'd say "God help Israel and would-be-Palestine."

Although I actually do have some small optimism that the majority of the Israeli public knows at least some of what must be done, and that Kadima and Labor will continue, and do it. But at the least that will be much much harder now.

If folks are wondering about the legal situation, see here.

The party situation, see here. It's summarizable in one word: chaos.

And this conclusion is almost surely correct: "Analysis: A tragic end to Ariel Sharon's one-man show."

"God help Israel and would-be-Palestine."

Amen.

Why would Sharon's exit from politics benefit Netanyahu?

I don't recall Bibi's being a great success when he was in office. He won the PM-ship on a wave of grief over Rabin's murder - and thanks to slick marketing, when Israel separated the Prime Minister position from its parliamentary roots and made it more like a "Presidential" election. His response to the second intifadah was, IIRC, brutal-yet-ineffective. (Whereas Sharon's was brutal-but-effective.)

Israelis aren't stupid. They'll put up with a lot, but only if the leadership seems to know what it's doing.

Oops. Make that the first intifadah, I think.

Good post at Mark Kleiman's blog.

Why would Sharon's exit from politics benefit Netanyahu?

Because of the utter developing chaos in Gaza, chaos that is only going to multiply even more when the political stability of Israel worsens, in the immediate aftermath of this situation.

So you have Ehud Olmert, Bibi Netanyahu and Amir Peretz as the new head of Israel’s Labor Party. Amir Peretz is an unknown and between the developing crisis in Gaza and the crisis of Government, his popularity isn't going anywhere. You also have Ehud Barak - that's a possibility - but he made several major errors - including the impression he created with the Lebanon withdrawal - he handled the political play really badly so it ended up being exploited as a propaganda victory. He was a lousy politician in a number of ways - bad at communicating what he was doing, and it is not clear he will want to reenter the political fray at this point. With Gaza imploding, and the situation feeling insecure people may be unwilling to trust him.

Ehud Olmert has some centrist popularity - but it is not clear he is going to be able to project enough strength to be voted in as Prime Minister after Sharon. - he might pull it off, but it is not clear he has the necessary breadth.

Which leaves Bibi as the alternative. Which is why he might end up benefitting. In any case, he'd obviously have a very different relationship with President Bush than he did with President Clinton. Moreover, there were some polls already suggesting that there was a swing towards Bibi after Sharon's stroke.

But in any case, I would bet there there is going to be, one way or another, a centrist coalition government.

"Why would Sharon's exit from politics benefit Netanyahu?"

Because with Sharon gone, some of his more right-wing (loosely speaking; it doesn't mean in Israel quite what it means elsewhere, of course) support will stream back to Likud.

Sharon had credibility as a "strong" leader who will "protect" Israel, and who is a "realist," and not a wooly-headed deluded-peacenik Laborite. Some who were willing to support him in leaving Likud for Kadima will inevitably return "home."

Kadima was, despite the prospects of being the next plurality party, still more a notion than a party, and still more a one-man show than a party. Whether the other Parliamentary emigres to it can pull it together into something coherent, well, let's just say that that sort of thing is not a strength of Israeli politics and politicians.

Bibi's response to Palestinians was plenty popular on the right/Likud side. He lost office because of the corruption investigation, not because of his approach to Palestinian relations (which is pretty much... well, I have no kind words, shall we say).

In this case I'll agree with everything alcibiades said.

"He lost office...."

The office of Prime Minister, that is, when he lost to Barak. Who then lost credibility and office for a variety of failures, with the failure at Taba allowing Sharon to portray him as unreliable, willing to give away too much, and generally insufficiently competent.

Oh hell.

Well, at least it's natural causes, we think so far.

Better than another assassination, yes. Ain't it thrilling we have such a low bar to find small [mixed metaphor goes here]?

Better headline:

Sharon to undergo surgery to fix hole in heart

Sometimes even the newspapers get it right.

On the other hand, the trumpeting of pleasure from many quarters at the news isn't something I look forward to, but I'm sure some are already putting it out there. Doubtless that nice Mr. Ahmadinejad will send a card.

Yes, I knew it would be fast.

Then again some would get all weepy eyed if Milosevic were diagnosed with cancer.

I wouldn't. You, Gary?

This seems a watershed moment. Could anyone tell where Israeli politics were headed even with Sharon healthy?

What is the Netanyahu plan for Gaza and the West Bank? I cannot imagine that Sharon's plans will survive if he does not.

dmbeaster, Jonathan Edelstein's blog (link) is always a good source for internal Israeli politics.

Yes, I knew it would be fast.

You were right, Gary, but it was an easy call.

It was also an easy call that some would get weepy eyed over one of the great ethnic cleansers of all time.

If we were talking about someone who had made a career out of destroying Jewish homes in order to make room for Palestinians, would there be any sympathy here?

It's a rhetorical question, don't bother answering.

It was also an easy call that some would get weepy eyed over one of the great ethnic cleansers of all time.

For criminintly, the reason Menachim Begin could make peace with Egypt was that Israelis trusted him enough with security issues to let him do it. In the same way, Sharon was looking for the 2 state solution with Palestine, rather than the the no-Israel or no-Palestine alternatives.

Thanks for the incoherence.

This seems a watershed moment. Could anyone tell where Israeli politics were headed even with Sharon healthy?

The point wasn't where Israeli politics were headed, but to force Palestinians to have some sort of politics rather than being run by a sort of organized crime syndicate. Which sadly has not happened yet.

Um, check the papers dude. Sharon and his cohorts were the crime syndicate. What WON'T you ignore?

Hey, FRM,
Let's talk realpolitick for a second. Israel is nuclear. At the very minimum, language like "crime syndicate" is inappropriate. At the next degree, given that Israel is nuclear, we might consider how to avoid getting Israel into a doomsday stand-off. (Maybe that's what we've been doing for years.)

Some positive news:

Pan-Arab satellite television broadcasters beamed out largely straightforward, nonstop live coverage early Thursday from outside the Jerusalem hospital where Prime Minister Ariel Sharon struggled for his life.

While the Palestinian militant groups expressed satisfaction at Sharon's declining health, some Arab commentators praised him for last summer's disengagement from Gaza.

[...]

Officials from the Palestinian Authority voiced concern for the future of the peace process in Sharon's possible absence.

"On a purely humanitarian level we feel sorry for Mr Sharon," said Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nabil Shaath.

"Politically it will increase the uncertainty we are facing to get back to the peace process," he said. "It is highly unpredictable to tell what will happen."

A Palestinian commentator on the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya network offered Sharon unexpected praise as "the first Israeli leader who stopped claiming Israel had a right to all of the Palestinians' land," a reference to the recent withdrawal from Gaza.

"A live Sharon is better for the Palestinians now, despite all the crimes he has committed against us," said Ghazi al-Saadi.

Representatives from the offices of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah II contacted Sharon's aides to express their concern over the prime minister's condition and their wishes for his recovery.

The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera aired an extended interview with Sharon adviser Raanan Gissin, who explained the prime minister's condition and treatment.

The predictable:
But a radical Palestinian leader in Damascus, the Syrian capital, called Sharon's health crisis a gift from God.

"We say it frankly that God is great and is able to exact revenge on this butcher. ... We thank God for this gift he presented to us on this new year," Ahmed Jibril, leader of the Syrian-backed faction Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a small radical group, told the Associated Press.

He said Sharon's legacy would be one of huge damage inflicted on the Palestinian people.

In Lebanon, Islamic Jihad leader Anwar Abu Taha said, "We are not sorry about his health and let him go to hell whether he lives or dies... we in Islamic Jihad shall continue our holy war until we regain our rights."

Since the ObWings software only lets me post one link per comment, there will be this and two more.

Palestinian democracy today.

Israeli democracy today.

Gaza government today.

Just today's news; I didn't make it happen.

"Just today's news; I didn't make it happen."

Contrary to popular opinion, GF is not the root of all evil.

Well, I do what I can. I only hope I can add at least just a little every day.

At the very minimum, language like "crime syndicate" is inappropriate. At the next degree, given that Israel is nuclear, we might consider how to avoid getting Israel into a doomsday stand-off

In other words, let's give in to the terrorists.

felixray,

Are you guys talking about Oslo?

Gary, no reasonable person would disagree with the notion that Israel's institutions function better than those of the Palestinians. The occupation obviously has something to do with this--I'm not saying that it gets the Palestinians off the hook, because it doesn't, but it is likely to be a factor.

On Sharon, it's possible to hold as many as three thoughts in one's head simultaneously. Maybe even more, but it's too early in the morning for me to try it.

1. Sharon is preferable to Bibi. One has to be pragmatic in this world and deal with the fact that many if not most countries are run by people who should be serving out life sentences in prison. Sometimes these sociopaths run dictatorships and sometimes they obtain their power through democratic means.
2. Does anyone seriously think Sharon was headed towards a solution along the lines of the Geneva Accords?
3. As for Sharon himself, he's a mass murderer, no better and no worse than, say, Richard Nixon. Nixon didn't personally lead a unit into a Jordanian village and blow up houses with people inside, being more the desk-bound kind of killer, but otherwise they seem similar on an ethical level.

Points 1 and 3 overlap, so maybe that's two and a half thoughts.

BTW, as is probably obvious, I don't agree with the point of etiquette that says you don't say bad things about public figures who are very sick or dying or have died. That's quite proper in private life, but when you're talking about public figures, particularly figures with a lot of blood on their hands, it usually leads to politically motivated distortions of the historical record.

Which, on the other hand, is not to say one should gloat over someone's death or make jokes about it. This is one point where I think the belief in Judgment Day leads one to take the right attitude--if a murderer dies it's silly to say nice things about what a lovely person he was if one thinks he is now facing God's judgment. The proper attitude it to hope for God's mercy on that person, just as you want it for yourself.

I'm somewhat mixed on the issue of saying nice things or not about people when they're struck down in some way; as it happens I believe in Judgement Day, but the way I would look at it is it's not up to me to do the judging, and announce how God will look upon someone, because I just find it very hard to second-guess God and think the way He does (which is why I fail, of course, as Yoda would put it); then there's that whole, "Judge not, lest you be judged," so I try to keep quiet and not run around condemning people. I believe in Divine Mercy. I'm glad of it, at times, when I'm especially useless.

Of course one can stand up and say one is against something without necessarily condemning; a denunciation isn't quite the same thing. But it seems a bit pointless when that person is incapable of carrying on doing it, so whatever I think/have thought of Sharon seems hardly worth expressing now, so I'll keep quiet in case I end up condoning the bad or scrabbling for the moral high ground. But I was distressed when I read the news last night, and I have prayed, and keep praying, that Ariel Sharon recovers. It has come to seem to me over the last year or so that he is a best shot at peace.

Well, if Sharon was a mass murderer, etc., at least he was one who tried to do something constructive afterwards: "... some good I mean to do / Despite of mine own nature."

At any rate, exulting over his stroke implies a callousness to the Palestinians who may well suffer as a result.

"... some good I mean to do / Despite of mine own nature."

Now that's something Yoda might say. What's wrong with "I mean to do some good"?

Edgar from Lear? (Not looking it up...not looking it up...)

Sharon may be a mass-murderer, but from a purely pragmatic standpoint he's been working towards a better future for Israel and Palestine over the past year, and has the best chance of anyone of pulling it off. If there's any chance of a swift and miraculous recovery for him, I'll take it - Israel and Palestine will be better off for it.

Edmund isn't it? Or is it in fact Yoda?

And yes to Iron Lungfish.

Edmund. Right. (5.3.248-49)

Pat Robertson says God struck Sharon down. Watch what you say, watch what you do. Watch what you think, too.

I just want to say, after reading that last post, and weeping for a moment, that I just don't subscribe to the branch of Christianity that goes in for Where Was God or A-Ha God Certainly Gotcha There Sonny Boy.

I mean, if Pat's response to, "Why Sharon and not so many others?" is, "The Lord works in mysterious ways," then I guess you can ascribe anything you like to God.

Oh, wait...

...the reason Menachim Begin could make peace with Egypt was that Israelis trusted him enough with security issues to let him do it.

I love this -- Begin got his start as a terrorist and was a real mover and shaker is messing up prospects for peace between Israelis and Arabs. A prime career path for making peace -- I guess everyone needs Guido now and then. Its like Nixon and China -- having been a prime architect is messing up the situation in the first instance, he allegedly gets credibility for straightening it out.

Sharon is of the same ilk -- becoming a "peace maker" after a long career as a s%!t disturber.

Such people deserve praise only to the extent that they admit the error of their past ways. Otherwise, they are still just Tony Soprano doing an occassional good deed.

dmbeaster, surely you're not saying that some people are not allowed to do good? Because if not, then why shouldn't good be praised?

Pulling out of Gaza was a pragmatic thing for a hardline Israeli expansionist to do. Obviously that upset Sharon's old allies, because many of them are stupid ideological fanatics. That doesn't mean Sharon himself has become a convert to the notion of a just peace. Sharon has, to my knowledge anyway, never given the slightest hint that he's willing to achieve peace along the lines outlined in the Geneva Accords, or along the lines discussed at Taba. If he does, fine--I'll start talking about his change of heart myself. Anything less than that would be unacceptable to even the most moderate Palestinians (and rightly so). The fact that Sharon is heralded in this country as someone who has turned his back on his old ways and is now the old warrior (a technical journalistic term for a war criminal who is our ally) striving for peace just goes to show how biased towards the Israeli side the media coverage is in the US.

I would have liked to have seen Sharon impose a just peace on the region, and I think he might have, though "even the most moderate Palestinians" might have found it unsatisfactory. But now we'll never know, except for those who do and say contrary opinions the result of biased media coverage.

James Casey:

I am all for praising good deeds -- just not for mistaking an occassional good deed as proof of a good man. People who create the mess are hardly deserving of much praise simply because they take steps to clean up their own mess.

As for Sharon, his good deed list is prety meager. The Gaza deal seems motivated by expediency and simply reflects a mild retreat from a policy of expropriating Palestinian lands, rather than foregoing it or, God forbid, making amends for past land grabs championed by Sharon.

But none of that will matter much since barring a miracle, his political career is largely over. What will fill the vacuum?

dmbeaster,

"a policy of expropriating Palestinian lands"

Just for the record, Gaza was an "Egyptian land" up to 1979, and West Bank a "Jordanian land" up to 1988.

I don't think there is anything magical about the Geneva Accords, in fact I suspect they are much more likely to lead in the long term to a huge an ugly attack on Israel because it would make it look so easy. But I would support a mostly just and mostly peaceful solution in almost any form. It looked to me like Sharon was heading in that direction. It also looks like there is much less chance of that without him.

"Just for the record, Gaza was an "Egyptian land" up to 1979, and West Bank a "Jordanian land" up to 1988."

And that really shouldn't be just for the record. That is the kind of point that wouldn't be ignored in any situation other than the Israel/Palestine situation.

I've sworn off commenting on I/P issues, but I'll venture a toe into the water. Take a specific plot of land in the West Bank. Say it was taken over by Israelis and settled in 1985. It can be characterized as Jordanian land -- land within the sovereignty of Jordan -- but, if owned at the time by a person who's ethnicity can be described as Palestinian, it can also be called Palestinian land.

I have a friend who lives on the Blackfeet reservation. Indian land in some senses, white man land in others. American land. These descriptions co-exist.

One can claim that there was no such thing as people of ethnicity described as Palestinian. And there are people for whom this talking point is deemed significant. It seems to me, though, that "Jordanian" as a description, either ethnic or national, is itself a fairly recent invention. These terms are all constructs. Denying the existence of Palestinians strikes me as all the more a construct. Some family was living on a plot of land. Give them any name you want, but you still have to recognize them as human beings. And if they owned the land -- either in fee or by copyhold (I'm using our vocabulary because I'm writing in English -- and mean only to approximate the concepts) -- they have an interest that has to be considered, distinct from the question of allegiance to some distant sovereign.

(My French-Canadian farmer ancestors did not lose title or other rights to their farms when Wolfe defeated Montcalm, or when France signed the Treaty of Paris.)

Jordan had control of the West Bank until the 1967 war and Egypt had the Gaza Strip. So far as I know nobody is proposing that the West Bank be returned to Jordan and the Gaza Strip to Egypt. If the Palestinians were arguing in favor of this it would be one possible form of a just solution, but nobody seems to be doing this.

The current injustice has to do with the fact that Israel has been settling its citizens in these two locations without granting Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians already living there. This is equivalent to apartheid. Imposing this policy has involved a lot of land theft and state violence to enforce it. There are two possible just solutions--Israel gives up the territories or else it keeps the territories and grants the Palestinians citizenship.


As for favoring a just solution of any form, that's a very nebulous statement. The minimum the Palestinians would accept would be the 1967 borders, with minor adjustments--maybe scraps of equally good Israeli land exchanged for settlements the Israelis don't want to give up. That's the Geneva Accords, basically. Since it also corresponds to the maximum the Israelis will give up, it's clearly the closest thing to a just solution available. But I don't doubt that some American supporters of Israel will willingly accept any solution the Israelis think is just, which is what I think has been going on with all the overheated praise given to Sharon. If you call something a peace process and don't pay any attention to what the final goal should be, then you set the stage for further whittling down of a Palestinian state. If you don't think Palestinians have the same rights as Israelis, this is a perfectly sensible way to proceed.

Not to argue these much-argued political points, but:

"acceptable to one side" != "just".
"apartheid" != "whatever critics of Israel want it to be for rhetorical purposes"

Charley,

It can be characterized as Jordanian land -- land within the sovereignty of Jordan -- but, if owned at the time by a person who's ethnicity can be described as Palestinian, it can also be called Palestinian land.

Ah, so the Jews who are living in the West Bank are Palestinians, too. I get it! And since Ariel Sharon was born during the British' Mandate of Palestine, then he's a palestinian, too! No wonder arabs call him a "terrorist"! It's all so clear now :)

And speaking of "West Bank", here's an interesting fact regarding the origins of that name:

The name "West Bank" was apparently first used by Jordanians at the time of their annexation of the region, and has become the most common name used in English and related languages.

Any idea what it was called prior to that? Any idea why Arabs insist on using the term "West Bank" when referring to that piece of land?

I know nobody is proposing that the West Bank be returned to Jordan and the Gaza Strip to Egypt.

Okay... So why bring it up?

The current injustice has to do with the fact that Israel has been settling its citizens in these two locations without granting Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians already living there. This is equivalent to apartheid.

This is equivalent to ignorance. Apartheid? Then explains over 1 million of Israeli palestinians? Please? Pretty Please?

There are two possible just solutions--Israel gives up the territories or else it keeps the territories and grants the Palestinians citizenship.

Uh, okay..

1) Israel gives up territories

Jordan did not recognize Israel's right to exist and did not relinquish claims to the West Bank till 1988. That means that if Israel was to unilateraly withdraw prior to that, it would see the west bank get reoccupied by Jordan in a matter of days. The same Jordan that did not recognize its right to exist. Would such a move seem reasonable to you?

2)keeps the territories and grants the Palestinians citizenship

That would be contrary to the resolution 242
whose most important feature is the "land for peace" formula, calling for Israeli withdrawal from territories it had occupied in 1967 in exchange for peace with its neighbors.

Hence Israel couldn't just make palestinians citizens and keep west bank.

The same Jordan that did not recognize its right to exist.

Spilt milk. You want a just solution? Gotta give up talking points like this. Where's Jordan now? Because we're talking about a deal now, not a deal 35 years ago. (Where Jordan was before 1990 is even less relevant to the question where it's going to be 5 years hence).

That would be contrary to the resolution 242

Any deal endorsed by the parties would get UN backing. Res. 242 is no barrier to a negotiated settlement. It's not even a very good talking point. There's a lot to be said for having a single state from the River to the Sea, with all residents equal citizens.* There's no majority for this now, obviously. On either side.

Ah, so the Jews who are living in the West Bank are Palestinians

Well, before 1988, I suppose they could have been Jordanians. Or illegal aliens in Jordan. This is the problem with race-based states, whether Israel, Jordan, or Germany. (There's a movie -- the name escapes me -- where the bad German is revealed to be such by using the terms German and Jew as if they were mutually exclusive. It's an ideological and defective way of looking at German-ness, and ultimately worse than harmful.) It's a defective construct, though, as there are, and will always be, Jewish Jordanians, Muslim Israelis, Germans who grandparents came from Turkey. Was Sharon a Palestinian? Not as we commonly use the term now, although there have been, as you note, times when it was the right word. Will there ever be Jewish Palestinians again? Hard to see right now, but never is a long time.


* I'm not really sure why apartheid isn't a fair description for the belief system, embraced by many on both sides, that finds this solution utterly unacceptable. RF?

Not to mention, that the Palestinians NEVER ASKED FOR Israeli citizenship. They want their own state, not to be part of Israel. That has been their consistent position.

Israel has done a lot of evil and/or dumb things in dealing with the Palestinians, but not granting citizenship to people who didn't want it and did want every Israeli dead was not one of them.

Most Israelis have acknowledged for many years now that there will have to be some kind of Palestinian state. Exactly how big it should be, exactly which pieces of land belong to it, and how exactly this state is to be prevented from inviting an Arab army in to annihilate Israel (the way these same people tried to do on several prior occasions) are hard questions that have to be answered first. But they cannot be answered just by self-righteously condemning anything done differently than the way the Palestinians wanted it done. Both sides have used all sorts of nasty tactics to jockey for better negotiating positions. I would have more respect for people who blasted Israel's land-grabbing methods, if they ever made more than a perfunctory condemnation of the Palestinians' murderous ways.

Israel was justified in taking control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the 1967 war and they are justified in holding on to those territories for security purposes so long as there is no political solution available, but they weren't justified in settling those territories. Once they started settling the territories, picking out the best land and forcing the Palestinians to live under military occupation with Israeli settlers in their midst, they were practicing apartheid. You'll note, Stan LS, that I didn't say that Israel practiced apartheid against its own Arab citizens . I gather there is discrimination against them, but it doesn't rise to the level of apartheid. They have the vote. They can presumably live wherever they want. No doubt you'll leap to correct me if I'm wrong. Palestinians on the West Bank can't pack up and move to some hilltop in pre-1967 Israel, but Israelis can move to the West Bank. There's a certain lack of symmetry there.
Two categories of people in the occupied territories, with one group obviously having far more rights than the other and the system maintained by the use of military force, often brutally applied. Hence that word "apartheid". You could figure all this out for yourself, I imagine. If you wanted to, that is. But bringing up the red herring of the Israeli Arabs was sort of like pointing to the existence of free blacks in 1850's America as proof that there wasn't slavery. And no, I'm not equating Israel's policies to slavery.

As for what is just, rilkefan, is your point that the Geneva Accords are much too generous to the Palestinians? The truly just solution would be both sides living together in the same land in peace, but that isn't acceptable to the Israelis and I'd be nervous about it myself if I lived there, so the more moderate Palestinians are willing to take the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. So the Palestinians get 22 percent of the land and the Israelis get 78 percent. But somehow, the way things are going, I kinda suspect that 78/22 ratio is going to get significantly larger. No doubt some self-styled Israel supporters will claim that's fair.

I would have more respect for people who blasted Israel's land-grabbing methods, if they ever made more than a perfunctory condemnation of the Palestinians' murderous ways.

Understood. Killing people is awful, and awful people do it. Creating a just settlement isn't going to end all violence, of course. It'll be more effective than land grabbing, however. See, I'd have more respect for your complaint, trib, if you would recognize that between killing people and land grabbing, one is cause (in part) and the other effect. Stop the one, then stop the other, by all means. (And wrt the latter, by any means necessary). But shouldn't you first stop that one that (a) a cause and (b) in the power of reasonable, civilized people to actually stop?

And is it not reasonable for me to want the negative activity by the people I'm paying to stop? The people I'm not paying, yeah, I want them to stop too, but my leverage is less . . .

"one is cause (in part) and the other effect"

Not always so simple, I think - part of the reason for holding the land in question was as a defensive buffer or to contrrol people being used as proxy attackers.

* I'm not really sure why apartheid isn't a fair description for the belief system, embraced by many on both sides, that finds this solution utterly unacceptable. RF?

Pakistan was formed in 1948, the same year as Israel. So, did the creation of Pakistan end the Apartheid system there, or just get rid of the Hindus? About 20% non-Jews live in Israel, including the Druze and Bahais, who have been dealt with in not so generous ways in neighboring countries, is that apartheid? Is the better example Libya, where the last Jew there died in 2002, and hence has finally freed itself from the apartheid system and can serve as an example to the rest of the world? What happened to the Jews in Yemen and Ethiopia and Russia? Did they all emigrate to Israel because they were racist?

Holding land for security purposes and building settlements are two different things, of course. In fact, if the concern was that people in the West Bank were supporting terrorism, why provide them with more civilian targets and why provoke more terror by stealing people's land?

I'll also add that terror has always gone in both directions in this conflict.

Holding land for security purposes and building settlements are two different things, of course.

Answer this, if Muslims are allowed to live in Israel, and they are, why then cannot Jews live in the West Bank? What is so wrong with that? Are there laws that say you can't sell land in Irael to a Muslim? I don't think so. Well then, what are the laws about selling land to Jews in the West Bank, or Jordan for that matter? Or is it a "special case" because the Jews are apartheid, you know?

The truly just solution would be both sides living together in the same land in peace, but that isn't acceptable to the Israelis and I'd be nervous about it myself if I lived there

Yeah, because the Israelis are suicide bombers and all that. How are those greenhouses doing, you know the ones that were given as a gift to the Palestinians by the departing Israeli settlers? You know they could produce enough produce to feed all of Gaza.

That 78% / 22% remark reminded me of this, I think from The Village Voice, 2002:

The British then turned around and gave over 77 percent of Palestine to the Arab Hashemites, for what later became Jordan. The remaining 23 percent, west of the River Jordan, was supposedly for the Jews.

But in 1947, the UN voted to partition that 23 percent of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. The Israelis accepted the plan and in 1948 proclaimed the establishment of their state. Neighboring Arab nations, however, rejected both the partition and the idea of a Jewish state and launched a massive invasion of Israel.

They were defeated, and at the end of the 1948 war Israel held all of Western Palestine except the West Bank, which was captured by Jordan, and Gaza, which was seized by Egypt.

In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel again defeated Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq, gaining control not only of Gaza and the West Bank, but also of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Syria's Golan Heights.

The big question is: Where were the calls for a Palestinian state during the 19 years Jordan occupied the West Bank and Egypt held Gaza?

DaveC,

I should also mention that the PLO was formed in 1964 with a goal of destroying Israel. That's 3 years prior to the occupation.

A rather inconvenient fact for some...

Donald,

Holding land for security purposes and building settlements are two different things, of course.

Ofcourse, but you show some ignorance here:

In fact, if the concern was that people in the West Bank were supporting terrorism...

Terrorism? That's not the concern here. Here's a map of israel. Take a close look! Israel is less then 10 miles wide without the west bank. The country can be cut in half in a matter of minutes.

Leaving West Bank in the possession of a country that just attacked you and that doesn't recognize your right to exist would be pure lunacy! And beside that important fact, have you ever heard of a country ceding lend to an enemy that doesn't recognize its right to exist? EVER?

DaveC: Answer this, if Muslims are allowed to live in Israel, and they are, why then cannot Jews live in the West Bank? What is so wrong with that?

It is news to me that Muslims are allowed to set up Muslim-only communities in Israel, and build roads through Israel that only Muslims are allowed to drive on, and Jews are only allowed to cross at checkpoints guarded by armed Muslims. Or, for that matter, have their Muslim-only communities inside Israel guarded against Jewish incursions by Muslim soldiers. Is this your contention, Dave, when you try to equate the two situations?

Stan LS, of course anyone who is familiar with Israeli geography can see the strategic value in hanging on to the West Bank, and the water value (as it were) in hanging on to the Gaza Strip. The problem for Israel has always been:

1. If the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are declared part of Israel, then Israel must either:
(a) Grant full Israeli citizenship to all those who live there
or
(b) Become de jure what it already is de facto: an apartheid state.

2. If the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are held in limbo, "Occupied Territories", then it is illegal for Israel to build any permanent settlements there for its citizens. Further, the Geneva Conventions protecting both civilians in time of war and captured enemy soldiers come into play - and Israel is unquestionably in breach of the convention protecting civilians.

Israel has chosen to walk a tense and uncertain line between 1b and 2. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are still officially "Occupied Territories", and the Palestinians who live there are not entitled to any of the rights of Israeli citizens: yet, just as if Israel had conquered and claimed these territories, permanent settlements are built there, as if Israel were an apartheid state.

The only choice Israel has never wanted to make is 1a.

DaveC, are you really unable to discern that I've said that the Palestinian majority is also up for practicing a form of apartheid? That's at best -- there are plenty of folks more interested in genocide.

I don't know why you bother with this there's-someone-worse rhetorical technique, because I know of no one who finds it remotely persuasive. If your kid comes home from school with a C in geometry, and you know it's because of intentional choices he's made (not real inability) you might be a little upset: 'I know you could be getting an A if you'd only work a little harder.' And then he says, 'The guy who sits behind me cuts class every third day, is stoned half the time he comes to class, and is getting an F so low it's sucking his grades in other classes down.' Do you say, 'Oh, alright. I guess you're doing just fine'? Or is it more like, 'Yes, I'm glad you not as irresponsible as that, but really now, I expect you to try harder, and if you don't, we're going to have to re-examine some privileges you've got going here . . ."


He says, 'You only complain about my grades, never about the grades of that guy sitting behind me. I'd have a lot more respect for your standards of effort if you were more upset about how little work he does.' Then, 'I know why you complain about my effort, and not his. It's because you hate me, and by extension hate yourself. I don't have to do my homework -- you have to go to therapy.'

I like this site for references and descriptions.

"...and the Gaza Strip are still officially 'Occupied Territories'...."

You might or might not want to update on this point.

I'm, incidentally, reading every comment on this thread with interest. I thought it might be a slight change, perhaps for the better, if I read and listened while I attempted to still my knee-twitchiness.

Besides, my fingers are busy twitching while waiting for news of Hilzoy.

I admire your restraint, Gary. My whole participation in this thread is a serious violation of a New Years resolution. Not 242, but however many I've made they've all been violated.

DaveC, Jesurgislac responded to your point as I would have (except she writes better). The issue with the settlements isn't the question of whether Jews should live on the West Bank. It's a question of one group having rights and the other living under a brutal military occupation. You don't seem to be aware of the facts Jesurgislac mentioned and once again, as I've noticed among some Israel supporters, you seem blind to the lack of symmetry. If Jews have the right to live on the West Bank, then why don't Palestinians have the right to return to the land where 400 of their villages were bulldozed? That was ethnic cleansing, you know, and according to Benny Morris, who actually came out in favor of ethnic cleansing a year or two back, it was then followed by a period of time in the late 40's and early 50's when several thousand Palestinians were killed when they crossed the border. A minority, according to Morris (I'm actually citing Avi Shlaim citing Morris) were armed and probably deserved it. Many others were just trying to sneak back to their villages. Which gets to Stan LS's point about the date for the founding of the PLO. Hard as it seems to be to imagine, the Palestinians have legitimate complaints that go back well before 1967. It may be too late to reach a completely fair solution for all sides at this stage, but it's hardly surprising that people who were forcibly driven out of their homes (something that was lied about by Israel and its supporters for decades) might form a group dedicated to returning the favor. As for why I'd be uneasy about a one state solution, again you don't seem to have the slightest awareness of the fact that there are fanatic idealogues on both sides of the fence, and along with the fanatics, there are also the usual "centrist" types in both societies who seem keenly aware of the offenses committed against their own side and not at all concerned over the crimes their side commits against the others. Maybe I'm a pessimist, but I'd expect a one-state solution to turn into a Lebanon-style civil war in about a week. Both sides would commit horrendous atrocities and we'd hear the usual one-sided denunciations from many Arabs on the one hand and from many American supporters of Israel on the other.

StanLS, I know how skinny pre-1967 Israel was and grew up on a diet of pro-Israel polemics. Except I thought they were objective. I was a Christian Zionist as a teenager and didn't turn into the Palestinian-sympathizing leftie you see here until much later. Israel does have legitimate security concerns and to the extent that anyone still thinks an invasion from Jordan or the future Palestinian state is likely these days, any final peace agreement should take this into account. I'm not a military expert, so I'm not sure what the solution would be. It strikes me that the US need only say that any invasion from an Arab army will be treated the way Saddam's army was treated when our former pal misunderstood April Glaspie and invaded Kuwait. If Israel doesn't want to rely on a guarantee from the US (but why not?), they could insist on some sort of military outposts on the Jordan River or whatever.
I'd sympathize more with Israel on this kind of negotiating point, though I'm doubtful that military invasions are the chief danger they face. But none of these concerns even remotely justifies the settlement policy.

This is also, to a lesser degree, the problem with the Wall. If it were solely a security measure built in good faith, it would be on the 1967 borders. This would be a hardship for the Palestinians who wouldn't find it easy to cross into Israel proper to work, but until they can suppress their suicide bombers it's perfectly fair for Israel to separate itself from people who blow up their children. Though speaking of fairness, last time I looked the majority of the children killed in this current uprising have been Palestinians killed by Israelis.

BTW, I also agree in part with the NYT editorial today--until the Palestinians can show they can control their rocket-firing fanatics in the Gaza Strip and the gun-toting kidnappers, then they can't very well expect to have a state handed to them. But the NYT was cowardly and dishonest and incomplete as usual in summarizing the history of Sharon's atrocities in their "news report". Nothing but Arab allegations, you see, not what historians and human rights groups and reporters have said. In their serious news story (not the one dedicated to what Arabs think), they refer to Sharon as, of course, a "longtime warrior".

Jesurgislac,

It is news to me that Muslims are allowed to set up Muslim-only communities in Israel, and build roads through Israel that only Muslims are allowed to drive on, and Jews are only allowed to cross at checkpoints guarded by armed Muslims.

It's news to me that Israeli non Jews are not allowed to drive on those roads.
Are you sure?

Its news to me that only Israeli Jews guard those checkpoints. Aren't there Druze in the israeli army? Wow! So much news!

Jes,

then it is illegal for Israel to build any permanent settlements there for its citizens.

Uhm. If settlements get dismantled can they still be "permanent"?

and Israel is unquestionably in breach of the convention protecting civilians

Not sure as to what you are referring to here, but palestinian terrorist groups choose to operate in civilian areas, so your beef should be with them.

and the Palestinians who live there are not entitled to any of the rights of Israeli citizens: yet, just as if Israel had conquered and claimed these territories, permanent settlements are built there, as if Israel were an apartheid state

As was mentioned before on this very thread.. Jordan did not relinquish its claims until 1988. Surely, had Israel given citizenship to Palestinians living on a land being claimed by Jordan, you would be the first one complaining that Israel is instigating hostilities.

The Oslo accords took place in 1993 (which lead to a peace deal with Jordan in 1994). That's only 5 years in "limbo". Oslo gave the Palestinians an autonomy, their own police force, etc., and obviously that wasn't supposed to be the end of it.

Donald,

I give 2 sh/ts about the settlements, so you are barking up the wrong tree.

Though speaking of fairness, last time I looked the majority of the children killed in this current uprising have been Palestinians killed by Israelis

In fairness, Israeli soldiers do not use Israeli kids as live shields. Israeli kids do not run around around, during fire fights, throwing stones at armed Palestinians. Nor are Israeli toddlers are paraded around with grenades and guns, and taught to be shaheeds.

Here's an interesting analysis of the casualties of this conflict.

The percentage of palestinian female non combatants killed is under 10%. Israeli female non combants killed is slightly uner 40%. Would you like to speculate why such a disparity?

Take a look at graph 2.24. Hmm.

between killing people and land grabbing, one is cause (in part) and the other effect.

Only if you concede that the "part" is pretty small. Arabs were killing Jews in the Middle East well before 1967, and indeed well before 1948. The Arab leadership was pro-Nazi, and there were pogroms in the area in the early part of the century.

So let's not blame it all on the settlements.

Israells used Palestinian civilians as human shields, Stan. The Israeli courts recently ruled that practice illegal. As for minors being killed, do you think it acceptable for Israeli forces to shoot teenagers for throwing stones? Or to bait them and then kill them when they react? Chris Hedges reported seeing that happen in an article in Harper's and also in his book War is a force that gives us meaning.

On the human rights violations of both sides, I trust the reporting of groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Israeli group B'Tselem more than I do anyone else. Here's link to some of B'Tselem's statistics on Palestinian deaths. They've also got sections on Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis.

http://www.btselem.org/English/Statistics/Casualties.asp

(Gary, I expect you to stick to your resolve to stay out and not jump in here to make snide remarks about my refusal to take the time to learn how to make a weblink. Someday, maybe.)

Anyway, the number of Palestinian-on-Palestinian deaths in this intifada is a pretty small fraction of the total. I recall reading numerous times (including in the NYT) that more than half the Palestinian deaths were civilian and obviously most of these were inflicted by Israel.

Regarding Bernard's point, much of the violence against Jews by Palestinians probably has been caused in part or in whole by vicious anti-semitism and not simply as a reaction to Israeli misdeeds and atrocities. But the racism charge cuts both ways. In his book "One Palestine, Complete", on page 104 in my copy, Tom Segev quotes an early Zionist writing in 1891-- (the Jewish settlers) " treat the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, trespass unjustly, beat them shamelessly for no sufficient reason and even take pride in doing so." That doesn't exactly fit the view I used to have and some of my friends still have of early Zionists who wanted to live in peace and harmony, only to face the relentless and irrational Jew-hatred of their Arab neighbors. The book also makes it clear what surely the Arabs knew or suspected, that the early Zionists were willing to resort to forced transfer of the Arab population if that's what it took to achieve a Jewish state. So I dont think either side has any sort of primeval innocence they can look back on.

"It may be too late to reach a completely fair solution for all sides at this stage,"

I'm reasonably sure this is incontrovertible.

"If Israel doesn't want to rely on a guarantee from the US (but why not?)"

4000 years of history.

I've opposed West Bank (Jewish) settlements all my life, passionately, furiously, which is why I was a member of the American affiliate of Peace Now in the Eighties, and worked hard for what I saw as a just settlement.

Shutting up again, or trying to. But asking the Jews to rely on others will simply not fly for another few centuries.

I'd be entirely sympathetic to similar Palestinian assertions. Most cultures in the world have far longer memories than Americans do, and that's far more appropriate than most Americans think, in my view.

Americans, and I speak as one born and bred, tend to be good at distance, but less good at understanding history.

Some things need centuries and generations to heal, and there's no getting around that.

I failed to shut up here, obviously. Trying again. All I really ask for is appreciation of the complexities and ambiguities, which most commenters are showing, to one degree or another. There is no absolute right or wrong in the land under discussion, and the only people I'm offended by are those who do not appreciate that.

I do believe in "Palestinian" getting a capital "p," by the way.

I feel so utterly peaceful and Boddisatvalike in ignoring other stuff. Go, me.

Donald,

I think you are straining a bit for moral equivalence. Nasty individual Zionists mistreating Arabs does not fall into quite the same category as pogroms incited by political and religious leaders.

And did Arab suspicions really justify anticipatory murder?

Like others, I try hard to stay out of I-P threads. I recognize that Israel is far from blameless, but it is simply impossible not to react to what I perceive as an enormous double standard in judging the behavior of the two groups and, I will add, fails to assign adequate responsibility for the Palestinians' plight to Arab nations and to the Palestinians' own actions and choice of leadership.

I'm reasonably sure this is incontrovertible.

I'm not sure it's even meaningful any more.

Bernard: Nasty individual Zionists mistreating Arabs does not fall into quite the same category as pogroms incited by political and religious leaders.

True. The determination to force an entire people into involuntary exile is not in the same category as outright murder: Ferdinand and Isabella expelled all the Jews from Spain, Hitler tried to kill all the Jews: F+I are not in the same category as Hitler.

But one must go rather far to be in the same category as Hitler.

I do not find F+I's expulsion of the Jews to be morally neutral: no more do I find the Zionist expulsion of Muslim and Christian Arabs to be morally neutral. What was and has been done to create and maintain an artificial Jewish majority in what was Palestine was wrong - deeply, horrifyingly wrong. The European and American settlers who came to Palestine had no more "right" to it than any other colonialists have a "right" to land they take from the natives: I do not accept religious justifications for colonialism, theft, forced exile, and murder.

"I do not find F+I's expulsion of the Jews to be morally neutral..."

Britons tend to be interestingly forgetful that Britain did it first, long before Spain.

Possibly not surprising from the country that founded the blood libel, to be sure.

It doesn't get taught much in British schools, somehow. Motes, and all that.

Silly of us to remember.

"I do not accept [...] justifications for colonialism, theft, forced exile, and murder."

I trust Wales and Scotland will be uncolonialized by the English any day now. As soon as the Normans leave, perhaps. (I leave the more obvious unstirred.)

Get back to us after that, perhaps.

But one must go rather far to be in the same category as Hitler.

True, but it is a distance many Arabs were happy to travel not so long ago. Please check the career of Muhammed Amin al-Husseini, an organizer of pogroms who found a true kindred spirit in Hitler, and became an active Nazi supporter. Perhaps the history of misbehavior in the region is not so one-sided as you imagine. And perhaps the Palestinian excuse of "Zionist provocation" needs to be looked at with a bit of skepticism.

Bernard,

Arafat's uncle!

His place as leader of the radical, nationalist Palestinian Arabs was taken by his nephew Mohammed Abdel-Raouf Arafat As Qudwa al-Hussaeini, better known as Yasser Arafat. In August 2002, Arafat gave an interview in which he referred to "our hero al-Husseini" as a symbol of Palestinian Arab resistance.

Hm. 2002?

From the wikipedia entry:

On 21 July 1937, Al-Husayni paid a visit to the new German Consul-General, Hans Döhle, in Palestine. He repeated his former support for Germany and "wanted to know to what extent the Third Reich was prepared to support the Arab movement against the Jews." He later sent an agent and personal representative to Berlin for discussions with Nazi leaders. From August 1938, Husseini received financial and military assistance and supplies from Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.

The Mufti established close contacts with Bosnian and Albanian Muslim leaders and spent the remainder of the war conducting the following activities:

Radio propaganda on behalf of Nazi Germany

Espionage and the fifth column activities in Muslim regions of Europe and the Middle East

Assisting with the formation of Muslim Waffen SS units in the Balkans

The formation of schools and training centers for Muslim imams and mullahs who would accompany the Muslim SS and Wehrmacht units.

This is a man Arafat much admired.

Looks like Arafat was fond of his uncle's tactics:

But, the violence in Jerusalem generated rumors throughout the country, many carrying fabricated accounts of Jewish attempts to defile Muslim holy places, all to inflame the Arab residents.

and

On the afternoon of Friday, August 23, 1929 Jerusalem Arabs came to Hebron with false reports of Jews murdering Arabs during the rioting there, even saying thousands of Arabs had been killed.

Sounds familiar? More...

Bernard, I agree that whatever violence Ahad Ha'am (the 1891 letter-writer) was describing isn't in the same league as the anti-Jewish pogroms of the 1920's. But all the same, he's describing obviously racist attitudes and it's also clear that the early Zionists (leaving aside the binationalists) were quite prepared to countenance forced transfer of populations if the opportunity arose. I see an overall moral equivalence here. I sometimes compare the I/P conflict with the various conflicts between white Americans and native Americans. I don't think the Zionists were as bad as the whites of the 17th-19th century in the US, but there's an obvious similarity. To me, anyway. Palestinian atrocities, in turn, remind me of some of the more grotesque atrocities committed by native Americans against white settlers. This is why I don't think the Nazi connection has any deep meaning. Part of that was "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" and people in these circumstances don't need an outside ideology to teach them to hate the people they perceive are trying to displace them. The Mufti was a despicable human being, but he's the sort of war criminal (like Sharon) that pops up in these conflicts.

Gary, unless Jes is some sort of English chauvinist I doubt she'll be too shocked at the news that England had an atrocious human rights record with respect to the Jews, the Scots, the Irish, etc.... Most of us lefties don't feel right unless we spend at least a few minutes each day denouncing the atrocities committed by our forefathers. I for one see the I/P conflict partly through the lens of American history as mentioned above.

"Gary, unless Jes is some sort of English chauvinist I doubt she'll be too shocked at the news that England had an atrocious human rights record with respect to the Jews, the Scots, the Irish, etc...."

Of course not. But it appears I find myself a tad irritated at times with those who ride in on their high horse of moral superiority to deliver morally superior lectures. Apparently. It turns out that we all live in places that are flawed, and it might possibly become all of us to keep that in mind, is all. No shock involved. Just a possible reminder that none of us are in much of a good place to lecture the other over their evil country or government. Myself included, of course. But also others.

After that, I'm up for the group hug.

I'm still not discussing I/P. I don't find that remotely easy, you know. It's a spiritual exercise. Lift one two three.

My soul damn well better grow from this. I expect at least a millimeter, or it ain't worth it.

However, while not discussing I/P, I do hope, Donald, that you understand that you don't have to explain "us lefties" to me.

As I've mentioned here before, my mother was a card-carrying member of the Party, and I rose to awareness as a baby of both the Old and New Left. I literally went on my first protest marches before I could walk, for civil rights, and against the Vietnam War. I still remember the crowds from sitting on my father's shoulders in 1963, when I was four years old. No sh-t. It was a sea of people.

Later I went on my own. In case that isn't clear.

Much of the left pisses me off no end, but that's because I'm of it, and I hate the fools who let it down. We can do better. We must always do better.

I don't think the Nazi connection has any deep meaning. Part of that was "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" and people in these circumstances don't need an outside ideology to teach them to hate the people they perceive are trying to displace them.

Donald,

Your dismissal of the Mufti's Nazi associations makes it impossible for me to reply rationally to your comment. No "deep meaning?" His motivations, real or imagined are irrelevant. He was, by his own behavior, and by his choice of allies, someone who supported and instigated the mass murder of Jews, wherever they were. Nothing changes that. Nothing mitigates it.

And Arafat saw him as a hero.

From my point of view one of the reasons these threads are so difficult is that supporters of the Palestinian position seem utterly unable to accept that the Palestinians, and Arabs more generally, bear any significant responsibility for the mess. Oh sure, there are statements, like calling the Mufti "despicable," but they are always followed in short order by the excuses and rationalizations and comparisons.

Of course Bernard sees nothing wrong with the US cooperating with Stalin.

Consistency means nothing, as long as there are points to be scored and settlements to be created.

Don't worry, demography will solve it.

Don't worry, demography will solve it.

Funny, I don't think that Jews will be wiped out of the Middle East, as many people so fervently hope. It's not gonna happen.

Funny, I don't think that Jews will be wiped out of the Middle East

And, when Arabs are the majority even in Israel proper, will you still practice your little "oh no! it isn't apartheid!" dance?

Yeah, you will. And there will be war. You'll act even more confused.

unless Jes is some sort of English chauvinist

Heh. Not even English, in fact.

Listen, if anyone on ObWing ever starts a thread about atrocities committed by the British on the rest of the world in the name of Empire, or the English on the other countries in the Union, I'll be right there denouncing my country's track record. (Unless I manage to keep my New Year's resolution to spend less time online, of course.)

DaveC: Funny, I don't think that Jews will be wiped out of the Middle East, as many people so fervently hope. It's not gonna happen.

Nor do I think that Israel will succeed, long term, in maintaining its artificial Jewish majority by force and violence. It's too unstable a situation to last: you cannot endlessly grind people down into the dust and treat them as lesser beings to be killed with impunity, to destroy their homes, to take their land, to wipe out their crops, without getting a violent reaction from some, and a bitter reaction from all.

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