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August 06, 2018


Liberal_Japonicus "To argue that there was also a desire to do so in the Palestine mandate suggests that only the first reason was operative for the Allied powers and ignores all of the other reasons that ethnic Germans were moved."

Can you make clearer which ones you think don't apply to Palestine?

"A desire to create ethnically homogeneous nation-states: This is presented by several authors as a key issue that motivated the expulsions."

This one clearly applies.

"View of a German minority as potentially troublesome"

First I'm not sure this should be seen as a separate concern. The reason they wanted a more ethnically homogenous nation state is because they believed that a large minority population with drastically different cultural ethos was going to be potentially troublesome (remember they also moved Polish populations out of Germany).

But to the extent that it applies to Germans in Poland it certainly applies to what we now call the Palestinians in Israel. Furthermore it was and is seen that way in other Arab countries too. The Syrian massacre of Palestinians in Hama for example. And in an argument that cuts both ways, Arafat's attempts to gain power in Jordan triggered the Black September. Those two events alone are thought to have killed about 1/3 of the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel throughout Israel's entire history. (estimated at about 90,000 over Israel's history).

So the main element missing is the Allies' desire to collectively punish the Germans by expelling German minorities in other countries.

My point, obviously poorly made, was that walls have ends. And people who can't get thru them will end up going around.

I expect that the US will fairly rapidly get to the kind of arrangement that the Syrians are getting in Jordan.

Donald "My point all along is that within the US and to a lesser degree Britain, the IP story is usually told from a viewpoint heavily weighted against Palestinians."

I think that is true. I also think that a more balanced look doesn't get Palestinians very much in practical outcomes. Europe won't entertain the idea of a right of return to Poland. Even a group which did much less blameworthy--Tibet--gets just thoughts and prayers at best.

We can tell a much more balanced story and still not get to "and they should be allowed to take over what is currently Israel through a one state solution with a right of return". We can tell a much more balanced story and still think "setting up something with ethnic tensions already worse than Yugoslavia doesn't seem wise".

I don't know how we get to an Ireland situation here. (The numbers alone are a problem. Ireland was less than 1/50th of the UK population. The Palestinian population plus right of return would be over 1/2 of Israel.) What Arab majority country would modern day Israelis feel safe in? What would most progressives feel safe in? What is the best case scenario? Egypt? Turkey? What is the most likely scenario? Syria? Lebanon?


the fact that the UK and US refused to accept Jewish refugees in the run up to the war and didn't really take the idea of German death camps seriously until they were actually liberated.

Just for completeness, let's note that the refusal continued after the war, the not wholly surprising discovery of death camps notwithstanding. Truman himself was an advocate for admitting refugees, but faced an obstinate Congress.

Hama was a battle/ massacre between the Syrian army and the Muslim Brotherhood in which thousands of civilians died. The numbers are guesswork. I have never seen anyone say it was Palestinians in particular who were killed there. Patrick Seale said it Hama was for a long time a stronghold of Islamic conservatives. The Asad regime is associated with the Alawites. It was conservative Sunnis against secular ruthless Baathists.

Incidentally, this is why I thought our support of Syrian rebels was insane. The most militarily effective outside of ISIS was Al Nusra, which is Al Qaeda. One group we directly supported chopped off a Palestinian teenager’s head. We stopped supporting that group, but the so called moderates fought alongside Al Nusra and our weapons were often captured in the hands of ISIS. A rebel victory would likely have meant mass slaughter for Alawites and probably not much better for Christians. A NYT article last year said people in our government referred to that possible outcome as a catastrophic success.

Black September was between the PLO and Hussein of Jordan. Again the numbers are guesses. The huge number comes from Arafat. Smaller numbers go as low as 2000, cited in the NYT obituary for Arafat alongside the 25,000 estimate of Arafat

Israel killed many thousands of civilians when it was in Lebanon in 1982, usually claimed to be around 10 to 20,000. Fighting in urban areas or bombing urban areas tends to do that.

Comparisons of death counts are misleading. If some country, say Iran, could somehow supply Hamas and any remaining radical PLO types with enough weaponry to inflict 100,000 dead on the IDF and if they took towns close to Tel Aviv and there was a real risk that Israel could fall to Islamic extremists, how do you think Israel would treat the WB and Gaza? ( You could cut the numbers down to tens of thousands since Israel is smaller than Syria. ). Hell, I think we would be bombing them too. Iran in those circumstances would probably get nuked. Yet we think it is fine to supply weapons to rather dubious groups and blame all the results on the other side. My point being that if Israel were truly threatened, to the point where it was losing a lot of territory and suffering massive losses, the reaction would make the Syrian civil war look like Quakers at a prayer meeting. The same for the US, though there one should scale the numbers up. We never seem to stop and think that even if Asad is a bastard, fueling a civil war makes us partly responsible. We would see that quickly enough if we or Israel were threatened on that scale.

I too should apologize for the sidetrack, but in relation to this:

Having said that, I don't think I'm too clear on the difference between may and might.....

There are situations where they are more or less interchangeable, perhaps signifying different shades of provisional-ness (now there's a word....) (lj could surely say more on this aspect of may/might; I'm forgetting the technical terminology).

But I'm talking abominations like this:

-- If she wished, she was told, she may come in and look.

-- In fact, had Brunelle played ball with Biel months ago, he believes the race for the at-large council seat may well be a two-way contest.

For a while I thought this horror was confined to hastily written stuff on the internet. Now I'm seeing it in published books......

Get off my lawn etc.

To be clear, in case I wasn’t, I am glad that Israel’s various enemies have never had the relative military effectiveness that one sees in the insurgents in countries like Syria, where there was a real chance the government might have been toppled due to the fact that they lost ( last I checked) about 100,000 army and militia dead. Even nice Western governments tend to do things like drop nuclear bombs on cities to avoid those kinds of death tolls on their own side. Nasty ones with other weapons do other things.

“Nasty ones with other weapons do other things.”

Um, meaning Syria in this case. Time to fold the laundry and stop posting.

'might' is simply the past tense of 'may'.

or, it was in 900AD.

What about "might could"?

Hmm, Janie, does that mean when they're not interchangeable that might is sort of like the subjunctive of may? Asking for a friend (I really remember almost nothing about the subjunctive)...

Hi Sebastian, you wrote to hsh

The powerful countries at the time looked at the map between Germany and Poland and said "this much is Polish and this is Germany" and then they forcibly moved 7 million no-more-or-less-innocent people than the Palestinians to Germany to reduce ethnic strife in support of those borders (and many hundreds of thousands the other way into Poland).

Well, yes and no. First of all, they had to reconstitute Poland, so Eastern portions went to the Soviet Union, plus deal with the enclave of Königsberg. The wikipedia page has a timeline map


So it looks to me that the whole process was a question of give and take between Stalin and Truman. You also asked

Can you make clearer which ones you think don't apply to Palestine?

It seems to me that if we understand the process as a give and take, then _all_ the points after the first one are Soviet concerns, not US/UK concerns. As such, I don't think they would have applied to a movement of population of Arabs in Palestine because the only actor that would be considered comparable to the Soviet Union would be Israel and they didn't exist.

We can tell a much more balanced story and still not get to "and they should be allowed to take over what is currently Israel through a one state solution with a right of return". We can tell a much more balanced story and still think "setting up something with ethnic tensions already worse than Yugoslavia doesn't seem wise".

Since I don't think that the process concerning the explusion of ethnic Germans was simply a question of drawing lines on a map, but the result to two sides negotiating the end state after WWII with all the moral shortcomings and ethical dilemmas that this entailed.


Perhaps one of the points about the debate between Donald and Bernard is that we can't tell a balanced story without understanding all of the history involved. Or maybe we can, if one side is willing to forgo particular parts of their story. I am probably more sympathetic to support of Palestine, especially given the rightward movement of Israel, but I note that the debate starts basically after WWII and that there is a lot of history on the Jewish side that has not been touched here.

However, the discussion of German expulsions is actually not even that, it is a historical parallel that arose because of great power politics, it merely draws a historical parallel that leaves out a lot of stuff. I don't think by oversimplifying what happened at Yalta, you get to a more balanced story of the IP conflict.

GftNC, I tend to see it more as "might" meaning that you have the ability to do something, but have not yet decided whether to do it. Whereas "may" means more that you have authorization/permission to do it, but again have not yet decided whether to exercise that authority.

GftNC -- my brain is too fried right now to sort it out, and I too am out of practice thinking about this stuff formally; my reaction is more along the lines of good grammar being like pornography: I know it when I see it. :-)

So I'm probably going to end up regretting that I brought it up at all, but I think cleek's comment (except the 900 AD part) is relevant to my first example. You could rewrite it in the present tense and "may" would be okay:

-- If she wishes, she may come in and look.

The second example a different meaning of "may," i.e. not the "permission" meaning, and I think the problem has to do with the fact that it's a contrary to fact situation.

But that's all I got right now. Maybe when lj gets out of bed......but then lj maybe will chide me for being so prescriptive... ;-)

wj, thanks, but that doesn't work (I think) for all cases of may and might.

my reaction is more along the lines of good grammar being like pornography: I know it when I see it. :-)

Good enough for me!

What about "might could"?

Depends on how it stacks up.

actually, my take on modals, teaching them to (low-intermediate) Japanese students, is to do what cleek says and view them as past tense and then use other, more concrete verbs they might use in the passage, to help them figure out which one they should use.

In linguistics it is epistemic versus deontic and this page has a nice chart that I would probably recommend to a student if they ever got to the point where this was really important.


As the page says, English does well with degrees of possibility, but doesn't do too well with epistemic and deontic.

Israel was born after the most cataclysmic war in history (as far as we know). Its origins preceded that, but the country was created as a "reparations" of sorts. The cost of "reparations" aren't shared equally. They can't be.

I resent the current Israeli government (apparently supported by a majority of Israelis), and their treatment of Palestinians. I resent the effect on US politics that AIPAC has. Like a lot of people, I'm tempted to give up on Israel, and declare the whole thing a bad idea.

But ... there's this thing about historical hatred of Jews, and the fact that Israel was created to make that "historical".

Again, WWII was cataclysmic. We still have to fight its aftermath. People didn't suddenly embrace each other and just move on: they gave up stuff in order to move on. There were winners, and I'm glad the winners won.

My country (the USA) is losing the aftermath at the moment. There's no fight more important than winning it back. Maybe that includes fighting Netanyahu. More power to you, if that's your strategy for winning more democracy in America (or the UK, or other places). Obviously, historical realists know that we've always been full of shit. But being full of hope for more justice requires that we have an ambition (and maybe a creation myth). We need to believe in ourselves, and our possibilities.

I don't see this with the constant "critics".

My fight is closer to home: welcoming refugees. It would have helped if we'd done it then. It's likely to solve a lot of problems in future if we do it now.

“Maybe that includes fighting Netanyahu. More power to you, if that's your strategy for winning more democracy in America (or the UK, or other places...”

We don’t play well together, but I am going to try explaining my position without particularly hoping to change your mind, but maybe we can do this without it going downhill. So yes, that is my strategy. Not Netanyahu and Israel only—Yemen is a higher priority. But getting Americans to see that our interventions, both direct and indirect, are harmful to other people and also to ourselves. I saw Tom Friedman the other day saying that what we did wrong in Libya was not stick around to help rebuild after toppling Gaddafi. We have spent trillions of dollars on Iraq and Afghanistan and thousands of American soldiers have died, along with tens of thousands wounded, many so seriously that in previous wars they would have died without the quick medical treatment they get now. Nobody knows how many Iraqis have died, but the absolute low number is over 200,000 and it is probably much higher. Afghanistan is just guesswork. Both countries are in bad shape. We failed. Yemen— the press keeps citing the 10,000 figure, but that is years old and the violent death toll is probably closer to 50,000 with that many children starving to death every year. And Friedman thinks we should also be “fixing” Libya. Many think we should also have had a no fly zone and a safe zone in Syria, which actually translates to another war and occupation. Trump’s puppet like relationship with both the Saudis and the Israelis means we might be edging towards war with Iran.

This stuff is crazy by any standard and it isn’t limited to Republicans, though on average they are worse. It is an American attitude that absolutely has to change and people should not stop talking about it. As it happens, once Obama left most of the Democrats moved to the antiwar position on Yemen. Good. But we should have not let them bomb in the first place, The Saudis are evidently too incompetent to carry out much of a war without our help.

On Palestine, a bunch of mostly innocent villagers were forced to pay the price for Western antisemitism and that is the bargain Americans have struck on their behalf. Worse, Americans swallow the mythology whole and presume to lecture Palestinians and ignore that we have helped the Israelis make their lives miserable. It is frankly gross and racist as hell.

Change attitudes and behavior changes, including voting behavior. I can walk and chew gum at the same time, barely. I am even better at looking at our political system and noticing that there are only two parties on the national level that can win and that third parties on that level seem to do more harm than good, even if one hopes they will raise issues, because that just doesn’t happen. Democrats are better on virtually every issue and Kevin Drum was right that the party of Trump just needs to be burned to the ground.

Democrats are better on virtually every issue and Kevin Drum was right that the party of Trump just needs to be burned to the ground.

Thanks, Donald. That's the takeaway.

The other stuff is important, and real, but until Republicans are no longer a threat (because we'll never get anywhere with them in power), we can't talk about what's right, because we always have to be arguing about the best way to fight what's wrong.

Democrats are better on virtually every issue aspect of my world view.

FIFY. :)

I missed this ‘gaffe’:

From this side of the Atlantic it seems pretty well a truism that Israel occupies significant parts of the West Bank.
It might be considered undiplomatic language to use when dealing directly with Israel, but it would cause little or no pushback domestically, particularly for a politician on the left, but also not much for a conservative.

That issue was discussed by Corey Robin over at CT


with Donald and Sebastian also participating. No knock on them, but reading the back and forth in the comment thread makes me appreciate the community we have here.

FIFY. :)

political, social, and economic issues are inevitably questions of value.

is it better to do A or B?
better by what measure?

so hell yeah, they are inseparable from each individual's world view.

your 'fix' adds nothing to sapient's original comment.

Actually, it was Donald's comment, and it kind of illustrates that people generally notice the stuff that they do themselves (and that applies to me, I tend to be picky and pedantic, as my above observation proves and I have to take more care not to complain about it in others), cause I feel like Charles runs everything through his libertarian worldview.

yes, it was donald. my bad.

I took Charles' smiley face to indicate a sense of self-parody, FWIW.

lj: No knock on them, but reading the back and forth in the comment thread makes me appreciate the community we have here.

i prompt that.


I didn’t object to Charles’s comment, self parody or not. There is a lot of room for legitimate disagreement on various issues. I favor single payer, for instance, but if you can create a health care system that takes care of everyone at a reasonable cost then there is IMO no reason to be ideological about it. I have read that some European countries ( Germany perhaps, but I’m not sure) do it with a very heavily regulated private system. But it seems like everyone does it better than us.

I mostly just lurk when issues like that come up. Interested, but not much to add.

We're nowhere near the IP dispute, but or government is working hard at creating border issues. Because what is life (at least if you're Trump) if you can't display dominance over everyone close to you?

I posted this on the other thread but am putting it here again, as I think it is the sort of nuanced thing I would like to say, but since I am not sufficiently subtle or mature I can post the thoughts of someone who is.


I enjoyed that piece when you posted it in the earlier, though I have to point out, the author uses the phrase "I shall argue that not only is this view of Zionism warped, but it pours oil onto the troubled waters of the topic we are here to discuss", which is interesting, cause I think that's exactly opposite the meaning.

But getting to the meat of the link, I feel like IP discussions in the UK and US are often two different animals, perhaps related, but not the same. Not sure why that is, though the evangelical lobby which views Israel's moves to the right as proof of coming biblical prophecies and, I'm afraid, the willingness to argue in a way where the ends justifies the means. By having those people in the mix (and I'm sure there are some elected officials in that number) skews the conversation and makes it different from the UK.


I read the Klug link.

Much of what he says is true, (note that he seems to agree with me that this is a European-created problem). I do think that when he approvingly quotes Aurora Morales:

“I believe our safety lies in the solidarity of working people,” she writes, “and not in a Zionist state”,

he and Morales are simply mistaken. The Soviet Union was certainly anti-Semitic - more so than the Western capitalist states. More broadly, I see no necessary correlation between a country's economic system and the degree of anti-Semitism present. Poland was anti-Semitic before WWII, and as a Communist country as well.

In any event, the notion that the Zionists should have sat around and waited for some workers' paradise to appear makes no sense to me whatsoever.

I didn’t focus too much on that part and would have to go back to reread it. I assume he meant democratic socialism or something like that with equal rights for all as the ideal to be achieved. The authoritarian communist version didn’t work out the way many of its proponents intended, putting it mildly.

LJ— I have nothing good to say about the Christian Zionists ( I was one when young), but I don’t think that is the only source of bigotry on the Zionist side of the fence. It plays a big role with American conservatives. But one thing that had me start to question Zionism was when I began to see that the way people talked about Palestinians sounded very much the way many southern whites talked about blacks. Their poverty was always their fault, their culture, their decisions. American liberals trying to atone for Western antisemitism would support Israel and make Palestinians or their leaders mainly responsible for their own plight. In both cases, sure, sometimes poor people make bad choices and certainly Palestinians and their leaders have done so too, but the Western discussion has been too imbalanced against them. I don’t want to rehash the thread, but I think the Christian Zionists are a problem, but also an easy scapegoat for liberals.

There is a zero sum type of reasoning which drives the discussions on both sides and is partly responsible for the bigotry one sees on both sides. In the “ Daphne” anecdote in Klug’s piece, part of the hostility is this thing where ideologues think that you can’t make any concession to the other side of the issue, something that can pop up in any heated emotional political argument, but here it slides into antisemitism. In some cases I don’t doubt the antisemitism was already there, but I also think the zero sum approach to the issue will turn people into bigots if they don’t stop to reflect on what they are doing.

I assume he meant democratic socialism or something like that with equal rights for all as the ideal to be achieved.

I think that is charitable. The talk was given at event organized by a group called "Marxism 2017."

Regardless, ISTM that "equal rights for all" is a goal rather than a plan.

I didn't mean to suggest that Christian Zionists are the only source that makes the debate different, I tend to think of them as the 'secret ingredient' that makes the US debate look so different from the UK.

“I think that is charitable. The talk was given at event organized by a group called "Marxism 2017."”

My understanding is that some Marxists were and are democratic socialists. The Leninists, not so much, though some Western Marxists still make excuses for him.

LJ—I think the Christian Zionists help make the discussion in the Republican Party different. Democrats still pay lip service to the 2ss. Republicans barely acknowledge there is an occupation, but even here that isn’t just because of Christian fundamentalists. Chris Christie had to walk back a reference to occupied territories because it upset Adelson.


Thanks for the link. I think it also shows the different ways that mega-donors like Adelson operate in the US as opposed to how they operate in the UK?

Funny quote from Christie in the article:

“We cannot have a world where our friends are unsure of whether we’ll be with them, and our enemies are unsure of whether we’ll be against them,” Christie said to loud applause.

The funny part being that the administration apparently doesn't consider it applicable to the vast majority of our allies.

wj: or enemies!

GftNC: Nah, at the moment our enemies can be pretty sure we won't be against them the vast majority of the time.

LOL :-)

"We are not amused."

Sticking this here because in rare districts ( well, two so far) politicians can come under pressure from both sides on the IP issue. The comments to this piece ( three so far) are a bit more nuanced than the article itself.


Well with a site named Electronic Intifada you could hardly expected nuance.

One does wonder if they would really prefer that she lose. At least it would put them right up there with the Christian fundamentalists....

Good grief. It is called Electronic Intifada because they write in favor of Palestinian rights on the internet.

As for the substance, the problem is that there is very strong pressure against anyone taking a pro Palestinian position. Are people who care about this simply supposed to shut their mouths or can they maybe exert pressure back?

This, btw, is why people who are not politicians should never start acting like politicians on issues they care about. Tlaib is in a difficult position. I would vote for her and for Alexandra Ocasio- Cortez even if they ended up waffling, but at the same time, if people don’t make it difficult for politicians who waffle on certain issues, then all of the pressure comes from the other side on those issues.

This from the Guardian


Thanks very much for that link, LJ. That is about the best article in a mainstream outlet on BDS that I have ever seen. For that matter, in any outlet. I would be pleasantly shocked to see it appear in the NYT.

Thrall seems to get all the nuances, including the link to the current fight over Labour and antisemitism which he mentions in passing here—

“This working definition was adapted in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), and has been used, endorsed or recommended, with some small modifications, by a number of other organisations – including the US Department of State, which, since 2008, has defined antisemitism to include any of three categories of criticism of Israel, known as the “three Ds”: delegitimisation of Israel, demonisation of Israel and double standards for Israel. (More recently, the IHRA working definition has been at the centre of the antisemitism controversy in the Labour party, which adopted a modified version of the examples accompanying the definition.)

By the state department’s definition, delegitimisation includes “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist”. Thus anti-Zionism – including the view that Israel should be a state of all its citizens, with equal rights for Jews and non-Jews – is a form of delegitimisation and therefore antisemitic. According to this definition, virtually all Palestinians (and a large proportion of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, who oppose Zionism for religious reasons) are guilty of antisemitism because they want Jews and Palestinians to continue living in Palestine but not within a Jewish state. ”


This, btw, is one reason why I don’t want governments or think tanks working with corporations to decide what is or is not legitimate. Because Palestinians who think they have the right to live in their own homeland and anyone who agrees with them is, according to the US state department, an antisemite.

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