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Palestine accepted into UNESCO.
October 31, 2011 12:08 PM   Subscribe


 
Good.

My understanding is that this is entirely symbolic, yes? It quite literally affects nothing except to show that there is international support for Palestinian statehood. Which isn't exactly a newsflash to anyone, including the US and Israel. This isn't a sign of support for terrorism.

If the US withdraws funding of UNESCO, an organization entirely devoted to supporting peaceful collaboration between nations, that speaks volumes about us and our lack of devotion to things that should really matter in this world.
posted by zarq at 12:12 PM on October 31, 2011 [24 favorites]


EU delegate Helga Schmid mentioned the PA request for UNESCO membership in the same breath as the issue of construction in the settlements, Palestinian sources in Ramallah said. Both, Schmid was quoted as saying, were "provocative acts."

How can there be an equivalence between the two?
posted by Jehan at 12:18 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Voted In Favor of Palestinian Membership:*
China
Russia
India
Brazil
South Africa

Opposed:
U.S.
Canada
Germany

Enter the room, made a sheepish face, then backed out quietly before anyone noticed:
U.K.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:18 PM on October 31, 2011 [16 favorites]


a major funder may withdraw.

That hypothetical is now actual: "'We were to have made a $60m payment to Unesco in November and we will not be making that payment,' state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told journalists in Washington...Membership dues paid by the US account for about a fifth of the organisation's annual budget."
posted by cjelli at 12:19 PM on October 31, 2011


Good for UNESCO, good for Palestine, boo on the US and Israel for trying to deny statehood, extra boo to the US for pulling funding over it.
posted by kafziel at 12:20 PM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wait wait wait wait wait. The US is paying its dues these days? And here I was thinking they were still over a billion behind.
posted by Talez at 12:23 PM on October 31, 2011


If I recall correctly, the US has been in arrears for some years now on their dues to the United Nations organizations. Withdrawing accounts receivable is meaningless
posted by infini at 12:24 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I sort of feel like making a symbolic donation to UNESCO to prove that some of us still support their mission, a la Planned Parenthood or NPR. Do they take individual donations?
posted by msbutah at 12:25 PM on October 31, 2011


Do they take individual donations?

Yes.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:28 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Otoh, perhaps the situation is better framed as "Is the US defaulting on its debts to UNESCO? "
posted by infini at 12:29 PM on October 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


"Palestinians get Unesco seat as 107 vote in favour"

"Israel called the vote a "unilateral Palestinian manoeuvre which will bring no change on the ground but further removes the possibility for a peace agreement"."

I'm not sure they really understand what the word "unilateral" means
posted by Blasdelb at 12:31 PM on October 31, 2011 [19 favorites]


The up and coming BRIC countries for, the countries on the way down against. This should encourage the Palestinians that time is on their side. Sad when China and Russia are on the side of human rights and those other countries are not. A staggering reversal of roles since my cold war youth. The times they really are a' changing.
posted by three blind mice at 12:40 PM on October 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


"US warns UNESCO to stay out of Palestine debate"

Right, because it's been working oh so well to just let the US control it, and then they let Israel keep building... That's the ticket.
posted by Theta States at 12:50 PM on October 31, 2011


The UN has never been fair to Israel because of the huge number of Arab member states and voits--thus Israel does not get a shot at the revolving Security Council chair.
Here is but one recent action:
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/140447#.Tq77C_FTD5E
in which UNESCO declared a few Israeli sites mosques.
UNESCO is a rather unimportant player in the overall business of the UN, and if the UN wished to admit Palestine as a full member, I would have no objection, but this piddling move placates and accomplished little. Now the US will cut off funding (there is a law in place), and we will look
like poor sports. Meanwhile, how does this advance the main cause and concern of the
Palestinians?
posted by Postroad at 12:50 PM on October 31, 2011


Sad when China and Russia are on the side of human rights and those other countries are not. A staggering reversal of roles since my cold war youth. The times they really are a' changing.

States behave in their own interests. If this were about Tibet, the votes would be somewhat reversed not on moral grounds, but geopolitical wagering.

(And by reversed, I mean that China and Russia would now vote against it as well as the United States as we continue our "One China" policy.)
posted by deanklear at 12:51 PM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Postroad: "Meanwhile, how does this advance the main cause and concern of the
Palestinians?
"

More importantly, why in the hell should this act in any way jeopardize the ongoing peace process, the way Israel is declaring it does?
posted by zarq at 12:52 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, how does this advance the main cause and concern of the Palestinians?

Are you asking how international recognition of Palestine as a state advances the Palestinian cause? Do you know what the Palestinian cause is?
posted by deanklear at 12:54 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Representative Nita Lowey, Democrat of New York, called it “counterproductive,” saying in a statement that “Unesco is interfering with the prospects for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians at a time when both parties have taken the positive step of committing to present comprehensive proposals on borders and security.”

Oh, right, it's UNESCO interfering with the peace process. Lowey, on the other hand, should make whatever antagonistic comments she'd like because New York's 18th District extends all the way to the Levant.
posted by Nahum Tate at 12:54 PM on October 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


What is the "own interest" of the U.S. in voting against this? Or Sweden for that matter (which also voted against)? Is it the lack of a domestic Israel lobby in China that allows them to act in their own interest?
posted by three blind mice at 12:58 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is the "own interest" of the U.S. in voting against this? Or Sweden for that matter (which also voted against)? Is it the lack of a domestic Israel lobby in China that allows them to act in their own interest?

In America, Jesus is coming, in Sweden, America buys all these cool black sites for us or something.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:03 PM on October 31, 2011


Sad when China and Russia are on the side of human rights and those other countries are not.

Seriously? I mean, ok, sad, but not in the least surprising or new.

When I was an articling student, I compiled lists of Security Council vetoes by country and type of incident. The USSR and the U.S. took turns across the decades, based solely in whose back yard something occurred and not at all with any regard to any kind of right or wrong, pretense to values like democracy, or the like. (Later, China took up the slack, but it has always been thus. The League of Nations just never let push come to shove)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:06 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh. This is an interesting development. Thanks for posting it,.I would have missed it otherwise!
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:06 PM on October 31, 2011


I have no problem with recognizing a Palestinian state.
posted by Postroad at 1:09 PM on October 31, 2011


the notion that the US is not making payments to the UN is not totally accurate

The US has officially cut off all funding to the UN’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization over its acceptance of Palestine as a full member. The impact will be felt immediately, because the US had a $60 billion dues payment due in November, the AP reports. The Obama administration’s hands are effectively tied by an existing law prohibiting the US from supporting a UN agency that accepts Palestine, though a State Department spokesman hinted that it might "work with Congress" to get around the law, Politico reports.
posted by Postroad at 1:15 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Obama administration’s hands are effectively tied by an existing law prohibiting the US from supporting a UN agency that accepts Palestine,

What? How the hell can the US be in an way a mediator in this conflict when the US has laws preventing it from supporting Palestine?

Total. Clusterfuck.
posted by Jimbob at 1:26 PM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


More importantly, why in the hell should this act in any way jeopardize the ongoing peace process, the way Israel is declaring it does?

Because Israel's stance is that Palestine is not a sovereign state, and that it is subject to Israeli authority. Any peace agreement is predicated on continued Israeli control. Recognition of Palestine as a state would thus be counter to any agreement.
posted by kafziel at 1:30 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


What is the "own interest" of the U.S. in voting against this? Or Sweden for that matter (which also voted against)? Is it the lack of a domestic Israel lobby in China that allows them to act in their own interest?

Israel, largely, is an American military installation. Like Bahrain, and Pakistan, and Egypt and Iran and before them, they are afforded certain privileges for their loyalty. For the same reasons, Sweden is fond of caving to US diplomatic pressure — for reference, see the Pirate Bay indictments, the Assange extradition, etc.

The United States benefits from the current balance of power. We have a myriad of excuses to intervene militarily — terrorism, the threat of Iran, the possibility of war between Israel and the Arab world, and so forth. Without these pretexts, there is less domestic and international diplomatic support for unilateral military action, especially after the catastrophes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Once there is a peace agreement, budgets are reduced, bases are closed, and our projected power decreases considerably. Why else do you think we are so terrified of the UN?

If you're a rational human being, the votes shouldn't make sense, because the peace agreement is in fact desirable.

Instead, imagine that you are an architect of US foreign affairs, and you have had serious discussions with military planners about being invaded by Nicaragua, or about Communism taking over the United States because of a legitimate election in Chile, or you've had nightmares about Fidel taking over half of south Florida. It takes a certain amount of insanity to appreciate the logic of our foreign affairs, but if you can temporarily trade in your basic humanity for psychotic paranoia, you can see their rationale.
posted by deanklear at 1:34 PM on October 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


"'We were to have made a $60m payment to Unesco in November and we will not be making that payment,' state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told journalists in Washington.

Is the US more current on their dues to UNESCO than the UN? Because, you know...we've been a bit tardy on those for at least a few years. Also, I imagine there is some agreed-to text somewhere that requires the US to ultimately make that payment.

Just deleted a chunk in vain hopes that this whole thing doesn't just turn into an I-P thread
posted by rhizome at 1:36 PM on October 31, 2011


I fully understand arguments people make about Palestine and various types of "recognition", based on terror campaigns, etc., etc.

I find myself unable to accept these arguments as leading to the conclusion of denying Palestine statehood on the grounds that my own country (the United States) would necessarily have been similarly denied such at the time of its original attempt at independence.
posted by ubernostrum at 1:55 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the last link:
Clinton also criticized the Palestinians for pursuing recognition "of whatever sort through the United Nations rather than returning to the negotiating table to resolve the issues that will result in a real Palestinian state, something that the United states strongly supports."
So, according to Clinton, recognition of "whatever sort through the United Nations" will not result in a "real" Palestinian state that would have the support of the US.

Do we have a winner for the Freudian slip of the decade?
posted by deanklear at 2:07 PM on October 31, 2011


Just a thought, could the Palestinian state conceivably use UNESCO membership in a way that helps them? Is it entirely harmless, or is their the potential that UNESCO will be forced to condemn actions by the the Israeli state—such as settlement building—dues to its impact on Palestinian archeology or nature?
posted by Jehan at 2:16 PM on October 31, 2011


Do we have a winner for the Freudian slip of the decade?

It's not a slip, the US has been a policy solipsist for decades.
posted by rhizome at 2:35 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel that Norway, a certain maniac by the name of Anders Behring Breivik and a massacre should be somewhere in this debate. Please never forget that Norway was holding talks with Palestine just before the massacre, and was supporting a free state.

Here


For the record, a large amount of the supporting links (even to major news sources) are now defunct.

Here

Here

Here


And yes, those are rather unobjective sources due to the major media sources now going to null links.


I do have to laugh at people stating "The UN has never been fair to Israel...". Hint: Look up the vetos on humanitarian sanctions, and you'll see that the US has been clear to veto any sanctions at every time.

I also have to laugh at the proposition that Israel is a "US proxy" [deanklear]. Hint: tot up the military aid, and the amount of spies that the US has thrown back to Israel, and so on. Israel achieved nuclear status through South Africa, back when SA was unilaterally banned from foreign tech exchange by the U.N. and the USA.


This isn't a simple issue, and I'd urge you to look over this: Organ Sales in the USA via Israel / desperate Palestinians


Where man suffers, another profits. If you look closely into the above link, you'll see that the organ exchange wasn't even the real issue of the investigation, it was the laundering of millions of dollars through Rabbis.



And no... I'm not anti-Semitic, before you ask. It is all about the benjamins, race / colour / creed being irrelevant.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 2:37 PM on October 31, 2011


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO; pronounced /juːˈnɛskoʊ/) is a specialized agency of the United Nations. Its stated purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and the human rights along with fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the UN Charter.

come on guys, what's this compared to being able to score a cheap political point in the international arena? besides, it's all fancy talk for SOCIALISM, anyway

USA! USA! USA!
posted by pyramid termite at 2:41 PM on October 31, 2011


An Israeli guys sells Israeli organs. who buys them? wealthly Americans who can afford them.
Many of the poor sell in a number of countries since they can live with but one. The big country for illegal organs? China, where they grab from those convicted of just about anything and harvest organs and ship them to...guess where? No. Not WalMart.

UNESCO and Israel
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/brainiac/2009/09/unesco_candidat.html

again, I have no issue with Palestine becoming a real state
posted by Postroad at 3:01 PM on October 31, 2011


Um, no.

An Israeli guy sells organs from nominally 'Israeli' citizens [hint: look up the Knesset rulings on non-Jewish statehood and so on for a lesson in racist politics] to another state's citizens. These people are not your Western Jews looking to 'ascend' to Israel, these are poor schmucks looking for a way out to America.

Please note that the full length court documents entail said 'businessman' stating: "Often they won't speak English, and I have to cover the costs of shipping them in and holding them, and making sure they do not talk" .


Of the other cases you've mentioned, people are not shipped across borders to act as live donors. India? You go there for the op. China? You go there for the op. Russia? You go there for the op.


The point is that the above three countries adhere to "international law" and don't ship meat-bags to jurisdictions where it is illegal and then (drum-roll) claim dual citizenship and expect to be deported to the originating country where they'll face no charges.


Solomon wept. I thought this was a place where smart people hung out.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 3:21 PM on October 31, 2011


like the man said, "Can't we all just get along?"
posted by Cranberry at 3:21 PM on October 31, 2011


Cranberry, depends if you want to keep your organs or not.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 3:22 PM on October 31, 2011


Without getting into chicken and egg politics - does Hamas or Fatah recognize Israel's right to exist?
posted by helmutdog at 3:26 PM on October 31, 2011


helmutdog

Given neither represent a real country, does it matter?

Answer: not really. I suspect you should look up the division between the IRA and the UDF/UVA (and others) - hint: Neither represented their "country", both fought for their vision of "their country".

But... newsflash.

Hamas was democratically elected, whereas Fatah wasn't. The IRA and UDF can never claim that.

[Fatah is corrupt to the eyeballs in Egyptian / US money, and Hamas is split into the realistic faction that was elected, and the militant faction that is funded by... ? Let's just say, a militant faction is useful].
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 3:32 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cheradine - well it matters if either Hamas or Fatah want to move the Palestine towards statehood. The tenents of your statehood cannot be the obliteration of another state (which I know is ironic given how Israel was thrown into being).

So if none of this symbolism matters why pursue it in the first place. I guess my point is that this issue is pretty complex and it does no good to automatically demonize either party (in the general discussion and not anything that you have said specifically).
posted by helmutdog at 3:42 PM on October 31, 2011


Zarq asked: More importantly, why in the hell should this act in any way jeopardize the ongoing peace process, the way Israel is declaring it does?

Because international pressure has been the only thing encouraging Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate with Israel. Now a UN body has signalled that it's not going to exert any pressure. This was actually inevitable, but it's also a huge "fsck you" to the countries that were actually capable of exerting pressure and were holding out international recognition as a prize to Abbas. In terms of what's happening on the ground, though, Abbas is less than relevant: he isn't one of the Palestinian technocrats that control Areas A and B in the West Bank; he cannot enter Gaza for fear of being killed by Hamas; his term ran out years ago and he has blocked all elections - even local government elections - because they would be seen as a referendum on his leadership. So Mahmoud Abbas is effectively a place-holder until a genuine leader comes along.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:50 PM on October 31, 2011


Yay France, boo to the many responsible countries who abstained, and a particular FU to my own government (Canada) for continuing to outsource our foreign policy.

Palestinian statehood isn't a carrot to dangle by Israel and the US, it's a long-overdue recognition of a de facto state.
posted by Artful Codger at 4:48 PM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Because international pressure has been the only thing encouraging Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate with Israel. This was actually inevitable, but it's also a huge "fsck you" to the countries that were actually capable of exerting pressure and were holding out international recognition as a prize to Abbas.

and The Wall and Israeli settlement-building AREN'T big FUs to Palestinians, no way.
posted by Artful Codger at 4:53 PM on October 31, 2011


Palestinian statehood isn't a carrot to dangle by Israel and the US, it's a long-overdue recognition of a de facto state.

It doesn't have borders or elections or a unified leadership or a constitution or indeed any of the things that would actually make it resemble a state.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:12 PM on October 31, 2011


Joe,

Israel was never forced to negotiate with Palestine for their statehood. Why can't Palestine negotiate with the international community for international recognition?
posted by deanklear at 5:20 PM on October 31, 2011


It doesn't have borders or elections or a unified leadership or a constitution or indeed any of the things that would actually make it resemble a state.

How interesting, Joe. Do go on.
posted by Talez at 5:33 PM on October 31, 2011


It doesn't have borders or elections or a unified leadership or a constitution or indeed any of the things that would actually make it resemble a state.

Goddamn it my book on the definition of states and their recognition in the library. Suffice it to say, the generally accepted view on the definition of a State is the Montevideo Convention (which is most likely customary law, and so the lack of many signatories is not a big deal. Probably.) It requires 4 things:

1. A permanent population [there is some debate over what that means with regards to nomadic people such as in the Western Sahara, but I think Palestine is fine either way]
2. A defined territory [There's at least one or two cases, I think out of national courts but maybe at the international level that say this does not require the absence of border disputes, but rather that there is at least some clear territory.
3. A government [aka it can't be Somalia, but this one can be tricky]
4. The capacity to enter into foreign relations.

That's, in a nutshell, the declarative theory. The constitutive theory says that you're a state if you're generally accepted as a state. Odds are it's somewhere in between.

But let's be clear: elections, unified leadership, or constitutions are not needed to be a state. Although I like two out of those three things.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:44 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Postroad, that's $60 million, not $60 billion.
As $60 billion vastly exceeds the entire annual ODA budget of the United States, it's pretty inconceivable that we would ever give that amount in one chunk to any organization that wasn't buying fleets of jet fighters from us with the proceeds.
posted by xigxag at 7:14 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joe in Australia: "Because international pressure has been the only thing encouraging Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate with Israel.

Do you really think Netanyahu's Israel wants peace anymore? I'm certainly not. Do you think we'll ever see a Netanyahu administration even approach the Olmert concessions? I certainly don't. If they wanted peace, Netanyahu's government would stop building settlements. If they wanted peace, they'd negotiate, rather than dictate terms and expect the Palestinians to fall in line. I'm convinced Netanyahu is quite happy to have the spectre of terrorists at the gate to distract from his country's domestic problems. It's very convenient.

Abbas has been under pressure from Europe, America and the Arab nations for years, as was Arafat before him and the negotiations went nowhere. Thanks to wikileaks we now know that neither side negotiated in good faith. This is symbolism, nothing more.

Now a UN body has signalled that it's not going to exert any pressure.

*snort*

Whole lotta diplomatic pressure on the Palestinians from the wing of the UN devoted to promoting the exchange of information, ideas, and culture between peoples, was there?

This was actually inevitable, but it's also a huge "fsck you" to the countries that were actually capable of exerting pressure and were holding out international recognition as a prize to Abbas. In terms of what's happening on the ground, though, Abbas is less than relevant: he isn't one of the Palestinian technocrats that control Areas A and B in the West Bank; he cannot enter Gaza for fear of being killed by Hamas; his term ran out years ago and he has blocked all elections - even local government elections - because they would be seen as a referendum on his leadership. So Mahmoud Abbas is effectively a place-holder until a genuine leader comes along."

Exactly. He's a figurehead. UNESCO recognition is pretty much worthless, and won't have any concrete effect on the peace process.
posted by zarq at 7:30 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Palestinian Authority has been conducting excavations and purposely destroying antiquities under Al Aqsa mosque. If ever there was an entity that was unworthy of membership in UNESCO, this is it. UNESCO has hugged a serpent to its bosom, and will come to regret it.
posted by ocschwar at 7:40 PM on October 31, 2011


Zarq wrote: If they wanted peace, Netanyahu's government would stop building settlements.

No new settlements have been constructed since 1993. If you're talking about building houses in existing settlements, why should that be a problem? Border issues can be sorted out during negotiations.

If they wanted peace, they'd negotiate ...

Mahmoud Abbas' team left negotiations and refused to return. In fact, they did this during the 10-month period when Israel actually stopped all construction in settlements.

Thanks to wikileaks we now know that neither side negotiated in good faith.

Can you explain what you mean by this? Because I've read the leaked material, and it looked to me as if they were very close to reaching an agreement before Abbas shut them down.

UNESCO recognition is pretty much worthless, and won't have any concrete effect on the peace process.

It's a unilateral move against the wishes of both Israel and the various countries which were supporting the peace process. But really, is there anything the Palestinians could do which you would acknowledge to be contrary to the peace process? This is a serious question - you seem to think there's only one party involved here.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:04 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Deanklear wrote: Israel was never forced to negotiate with Palestine for their statehood. Why can't Palestine negotiate with the international community for international recognition?

There wasn't any such state as Palestine back then. There was just an area which had once belonged to the Ottoman Empire and was then governed by Britain. And there were lots and lots of negotiations - they had literally been going on for decades, including negotiations between the representatives of (what would become) Israel and the rulers of the Arab countries around (what would become) Israel, as well as the leaders of what we would now call Palestinians. But yes, Israel's existence was not ultimately dependent on those negotiations. Ultimately it exists because the nascent state showed it was a political entity able to defend its territory. If it hadn't been able to defend its territory it would have been wiped out by the invading Arab forces; if it hadn't been a political entity there would have been nothing to recognise.

Lemurrhea: I'm not saying that the elements of a state don't exist; what I'm saying is that that to the extent the elements exist, Abbas does not represent it. You could have the elements of a Palestinian state ruled by Hamas in Gaza; you might have he elements of one in the West Bank ruled by the Palestinian Authority. What you can't have is one which includes both of these plus some other undefined territory and ruled by Mahmoud Abbas. It's just incoherent and contrary to the facts.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:07 PM on October 31, 2011


Among other parts of the Ottoman Empire there were "just areas" are Egypt, Turkey, and Greece. Palestinian nationalism has been around as long as nationalism has been in the Arab world. Using not only meaningless semantic bullshit, but invented semantic bullshit, to deny a group of people the basic human right of self-governance is a pathetic course of reasoning.

Furthermore, you're trying to convince me that a military invasion is the best way to establish a political entity (for Israel, at least), but Palestinians seeking international recognition through diplomatic channels are causing harm to the peace process. I suppose if the Palestinians instead raised an army with foreign trained fighters and tanks and jets, and then invaded Israel and defended their territory for sixty years, you'd have a blind eye for any cries of injustice from the Israeli side?

After all, what we would now call Israelis occupied a part of the Ottoman Empire that was called Palestine by the British, and they simply lost the ensuing wars after negotiations broke down. Ultimately they couldn't defend their territory, or maintain their security during the occupation, so there was nothing to recognize.
posted by deanklear at 9:45 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Deanklear wrote: Among other parts of the Ottoman Empire there were "just areas" are Egypt, Turkey, and Greece.

Egypt has had thousands of years of independent history, as has Greece. Both of them had been independent (effectively independent, in Egypt's case) for well over a century at the time Israel was founded. As for Turkey, that was the very heart of the Ottoman Empire and in any event it existed as a separate entity from its imperial possessions after WW1. In contrast, there was not only no independent State of Palestine; it didn't even warrant a separate administrative region within the Ottoman Empire.

Anyway, you're missing your own point. You had said "Israel was never forced to negotiate with Palestine for their statehood." Israel couldn't. There was no Palestine to negotiate with and there never had been. You may call this "meaningless semantic bullshit"; I'd call it going with reality rather than ahistorical fantasy.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:12 AM on November 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm gonna jump in on this dogpile.

Hasn't the official policy of the US been to support a 2-state solution since forever? If this is really just a symbolic gesture that legitimizes Palestinian statehood, doesn't that help the stated US interests?

Seems like this would be a good thing - it brings about a change in conditions that might break the stalemate and get parties talking.
posted by heathkit at 12:31 AM on November 1, 2011


In contrast, there was not only no independent State of Palestine; it didn't even warrant a separate administrative region within the Ottoman Empire.

Nor was there an administrative region for a place called Israel. Why does one political group get a pass and not the other? Why do you pretend that the word Palestine is new, when it was mentioned back in Aristotle's Meteorology? Why does the British Mandate of Palestine not represent anything to you until 1948 when someone took a part of it and called it Israel? How do you pretend that there hasn't been a nationalist Palestinian movement for as long as there has been the concept of a nation-state in that part of the world?

My guess is because your standards are based on something besides historical political autonomy, masked in semantic, rhetorical bullshit.
posted by deanklear at 1:15 AM on November 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does this mean that UNESCO is now illegal in the US, and it is now a federal crime for UNESCO-listed entities doing business in the US to acknowledge UNESCO in any way, in the way that it is to boycott Israel or to identify oneself by an aristocratic title within the US?
posted by acb at 4:38 AM on November 1, 2011


I have a problem with recognizing a Palestinian state.

There exists no ethnic group called "Palestinians" that is in danger of cultural extinction, and I don't really understand why an Arab cannot live in a democratic nation called Israel, except for institutionalized Jew-hatred.

This is entire conflict was, is, and always will be, completely and utterly idiotic.
posted by unigolyn at 5:14 AM on November 1, 2011


"Does this mean that UNESCO is now illegal in the US,"

No.

UNESCO was founded to advance education, science, and culture.

The Palestinian Authority's membership in UNESCO turns the organization into a farce, which my tax money will no longer be funding, thank God.
posted by ocschwar at 7:54 AM on November 1, 2011


Ironic that the neither Hamas or Abbas running Palasstine will recognize Isreal as a state.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:12 AM on November 1, 2011


Joe in Australia: No new settlements have been constructed since 1993. If you're talking about building houses in existing settlements, why should that be a problem? Border issues can be sorted out during negotiations.

You know what I meant. I'm familiar with the Oslo accords. So yes, I meant the aggressive, illegal building of 'suburban' homes and apartments by Israelis on established settlements in the West Bank, at times with official Israeli government sanction, three of which now have populations over 30K.

The settlements are not merely a "border dispute." They are a huge bone of contention between the two parties, and the Palestinians (and much of the international community) have made them a central point of discussion, to the extent that news broke yesterday that the German government is threatening to stop a military deal from going through if the Israelis stick to their plan to build 1100 homes in Gilo. The settlements are one of several core obstacles to peace. You are of course, aware of this, even if you do not choose to agree with it.

For anyone who is interested in a relatively objective general breakdown of the settlements and some of the concerns of both sides with regard to them, see:

The Baker Institute's Getting to the Territorial Endgame of an Israeli-Palestinian Peace Settlement (pdf)
and this report (I especially suggest the maps at the end):
Imagining the Border: Options for Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Territorial Issue

Mahmoud Abbas' team left negotiations and refused to return. In fact, they did this during the 10-month period when Israel actually stopped all construction in settlements.

I'm certainly not saying that the Palestinians have negotiated in good faith. I haven't ever said that. I also did not say this was the only issue they were dealing with. Just one of the core ones. For example, ownership / administration of the Four Quarters, especially the Muslim Qaurter, is most likely even more of an issue. As is the right of return.

Can you explain what you mean by this? Because I've read the leaked material, and it looked to me as if they were very close to reaching an agreement before Abbas shut them down.

I've also read the materials.

The leaked documents showed that Palestinian negotiators were willing to give unprecedented concessions to the Israelis (which, by the way, directly conflicts with Israeli propaganda with regard to the negotiations: that the Palestinians are not a partner in the peace process.)
The Palestinians were wiling to give up a right of return. They were even willing to give up their claim to many Settlement lands. But the talks stalled in part because Israelis rejected an offer that did not include two Settlement cities: Har Homa and Ma'ale Adumim as well as other, smaller settlements deeper within the West Bank territory. The settlements are clearly a significant stumbling block.

It's a unilateral move against the wishes of both Israel and the various countries which were supporting the peace process.

Not all of them. When the US walked away from the peace process in the middle of the last decade, France, Germany and Russia got together to be adults in our absence and try to move the peace process forward. Of those three countries, only Germany voted against yesterday.

But really, is there anything the Palestinians could do which you would acknowledge to be contrary to the peace process? This is a serious question - you seem to think there's only one party involved here."

Oh, dear lord. Stop accusing me of being one-sided. You know damned well this situation is a lot more complex and thorny than either of us have said. Both sides are to blame for the failure of the peace process.

We haven't mentioned the murders of Israeli civilians in the Settlements, or the rocket attacks, or any other Palestinian aggressions towards Israelis and the deliberate, consistent targeting by Palestinians of Israeli civilians. Not to mention that the Palestinians made an offer they probably couldn't have sold to their people without a civil war during those negotiations. That doesn't mean I'm ignoring them. It just means they haven't come up in this conversation until now. They're not entirely relevant to the point I was making above, which is that UNESCO recognition really isn't going to derail the peace process. It's a symbol, and probably wouldn't have even needed to happen if the Palestinians and Israelis had gotten their acts together years ago.
posted by zarq at 8:21 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


heathkit: " Hasn't the official policy of the US been to support a 2-state solution since forever?

Not since forever. Officially, less than 10 years. Since about 2002. President Bush announced his support for a two state solution, and the UN followed suit with a resolution.

If this is really just a symbolic gesture that legitimizes Palestinian statehood, doesn't that help the stated US interests?

The point they're making is that the Palestinians should need to meet certain criteria in order to be considered a viable candidate for statehood.

Seems like this would be a good thing - it brings about a change in conditions that might break the stalemate and get parties talking."

We'll see.
posted by zarq at 8:25 AM on November 1, 2011




homunculus: "After UNESCO Palestine vote, could US defund nuclear watchdog IAEA, too? The US withdrew funding after UNESCO's Palestine vote yesterday. There's no reason that Palestinians won't be able to muster the votes for recognition in other UN agencies like the International Atomic Energy Agency."

Yeah, that'll cause no problem whatsoever, I'm sure.
posted by zarq at 8:55 AM on November 1, 2011


Oh what fun, lets think of all the global agencies that could conceivably recognize Palestine
posted by infini at 10:43 AM on November 1, 2011


In an FPP I posted earlier, I included a link to a review of Condi Rice's memoir. Something mentioned is a reason why Abbas probably walked away from the talks: Olmert was a lame duck PM and Bush was a lame duck President, and Abbas most likely thought he could get more out of a democratic administration in Washington.

What a stupid call. Instead he got Netenyahu and Lieberman.
posted by zarq at 11:03 AM on November 1, 2011


There exists no ethnic group called "Palestinians" that is in danger of cultural extinction, and I don't really understand why an Arab cannot live in a democratic nation called Israel, except for institutionalized Jew-hatred

That's like saying there's no point for Israel for Jewish people since they could all move to NYC. Or like saying that there's no ethnic group called "Americans", so why not just kick half of them out of their homes? Would you move to a country if you knew you'd be treated differently based on your ethnicity?

Israel is the only nation that exists for the purpose of maintaining an ethnic majority. Many Israelis don't want a one state solution, because soon they would be the minority. Yet they won't stop building up settlements, and they won't stop their military incursions into Palestinian territory, despite being the party with vastly less casualties, and vastly more military might.

If Israel wants peace, they will have to make concessions. Blaming Palestinians for derailing their own statehood by asking for recognition of their statehood is not a good start.
Why should the Arabs make peace? If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it's true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it's simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out.

--David Ben-Gurion
posted by deanklear at 11:28 AM on November 1, 2011 [4 favorites]



In an FPP I posted earlier, I included a link to a review of Condi Rice's memoir. Something mentioned is a reason why Abbas probably walked away from the talks: Olmert was a lame duck PM and Bush was a lame duck President, and Abbas most likely thought he could get more out of a democratic administration in Washington.



What a stupid call. Instead he got Netenyahu and Lieberman.


The best deal Abbas could get is not from any US administration, nor from Netanyahu, or Olmert, or Barak.

The best deal he can get is from the Israeli PEOPLE. But that requires recognizing them as PEOPLE, and not as dogs, and that is what he and his fellow gangsters refuse to do.
posted by ocschwar at 12:09 PM on November 1, 2011


I don't really understand why an Arab cannot live in a democratic nation called Israel, except for institutionalized Jew-hatred.

Take out the hyphen and you're a lot closer to the truth.
posted by kafziel at 12:48 PM on November 1, 2011



"He who controls the present, controls the past."

Here's concise proof why the Palestinian Authority is unworthy of membership of any organization with "Culture" in the name:

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2011/11/example-of-how-palestine-will-act-at.html

This is in UNESCO's charter:

"...[T]he States Parties to this Constitution, believing in full and equal opportunities for education for all, in the unrestricted pursuit of objective truth, and in the free exchange of ideas and knowledge, are agreed and determined to develop and to increase the means of communication between their peoples and to employ these means for the purposes of mutual understanding and a truer and more perfect knowledge of each other's lives."

The PA is doggedly devoted to defeating the very goals of UNESCO. Their membership will turn UNESCO into a sick joke.
posted by ocschwar at 1:48 PM on November 1, 2011


Besides the outrageous airbrushing of history that this represents, more subtly, the textbook takes an item from the time of British rule and pretends that it somehow represents a historic nation of Palestine that never existed...

This single example shows that Palestinian Arabs have zero interest in the noble original goals of UNESCO,and instead are interested in furthering their own selfish agenda at the expense of the truth, of other people and other cultures.
So, from one textbook in 2001, we can infer the second paragraph? ocschwar, that's not just a slippery slope. It's the greased tip of a hook, and you're on it.
posted by deanklear at 3:28 PM on November 1, 2011


"None of us are free until Palestine is free."
posted by nickrussell at 3:50 PM on November 1, 2011


Kafziel, the facts demonstrate that Arabs can and do live in Israel: around 20% of Israel's citizens are Arabs. There are many more who have chosen not to accept Israeli citizenship, and of course many more in the West Bank who are not citizens but are governed by Israel to a greater or lesser extent.

In contrast, there are no Jews in Libya today. There were recently reported to be seven Jews in Iraq, but some may have fled after their names were leaked. There are a handful of Jews in Egypt. I don't know if there are any Jews living clandestinely in Jordan; I do know that citizenship is restricted to Arabs. The Lebanese Jewish Council says that there are fewer than 200 Jews in that country; I understand that there are very much fewer than two hundred, perhaps as few as twenty. These are all the remains of huge communities that fled in the face of organised violence and government persecution. Israel really is the last remaining Jewish community of any substance in the Middle East - there are around 20,000 in Iran, but they're not allowed to leave the country and the government is doing what it can to Islamicise them.

The point of this isn't to say tu quoque. The point is that Arab countries have a fundamental problem with their non-Moslem minorities and that this needs to be acknowledged. I think that it is inevitable that there will be a Palestinian state. I also think it is appalling that nobody is challenging the fact that Jews will not be allowed to live there.

You linked to a website that claims to demonstrate the existence of Israeli racism; I could rebut a lot of the points I saw on the first page, but why bother: yes, racism exists in Israel. But Israeli racism is a manageable problem, one that is only weakly institutionalised and one that is being swept away by history. Palestinian and other Arab racism, by contrast, is strong and virulent and is being enabled by people who talk about a "just peace" without ever stipulating that it means justice on both sides.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:38 PM on November 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Joe in Australia: " In contrast, there are no Jews in Libya today. There were recently reported to be seven Jews in Iraq, but some may have fled after their names were leaked. There are a handful of Jews in Egypt. I don't know if there are any Jews living clandestinely in Jordan; I do know that citizenship is restricted to Arabs. The Lebanese Jewish Council says that there are fewer than 200 Jews in that country; I understand that there are very much fewer than two hundred, perhaps as few as twenty. These are all the remains of huge communities that fled in the face of organised violence and government persecution. Israel really is the last remaining Jewish community of any substance in the Middle East - there are around 20,000 in Iran, but they're not allowed to leave the country and the government is doing what it can to Islamicise them. "

Also, since we're counting, there's just 1 Jew left in Afghanistan. Although I suppose that country's more South Asia than the Middle East.
posted by zarq at 6:54 PM on November 1, 2011


But Israeli racism is a manageable problem, one that is only weakly institutionalised and one that is being swept away by history.

The IDF killed 1650 Palestinians, including 350 minors, only a few years ago in an operation that barely lasted a month. They currently control everything that comes in or out of Gaza, while denying that they are responsible for what is commonly referred to as the world's largest outdoor prison, where 70% of the population lives beneath the poverty line. Their movement into Israel for work and to see family, and their access to the West Bank, is restricted by their ethnicity.

If that's not institutionalized racism, what would you call it?

Palestinian and other Arab racism, by contrast, is strong and virulent and is being enabled by people who talk about a "just peace" without ever stipulating that it means justice on both sides.

Ah, I see... you can't think of any other part of the world with a history of virulent Anti-Semitism? And as the death toll climbs in Iraq and Afghanistan, exactly how would you describe Western attitudes towards Arabs? Full of just peace?

I also think it is appalling that nobody is challenging the fact that Jews will not be allowed to live there.

As you fucking well know, Palestinians won't be allowed the right of return either. Why are you surprised? More importantly, why aren't you appalled at both parties for their blatant racism?
posted by deanklear at 12:22 AM on November 2, 2011


The IDF killed 1650 Palestinians, including 350 minors, only a few years ago in an operation that barely lasted a month.

Do you mean Operation Cast Lead? According to that page the Palestinians themselves claim that 1,417 Palestinians were killed (the IDF says 1,166), and Hamas acknowledges that 600 - 700 of them were its men (the IDF says 709). So the percentage of combatant deaths is between 42 and 60%, depending on who you believe. I don't want to minimise the importance of any loss of life, but this is remarkably low ratio of civilian deaths and testifies to the IDF's restraint in a thoroughly justified war.

They currently control everything that comes in or out of Gaza,

They've never controlled it by themselves: Gaza has a border with Egypt. A very porous border, which also has an official crossing in regular use. In any event, I think Israel has effectively allowed everything except dual-use supplies though for about a year now.

Their movement into Israel for work and to see family, and their access to the West Bank, is restricted by their ethnicity.

No; it's restricted by the fact that they live in an area controlled by a terrorist group that lobs rockets into Israel on a daily basis.

As you fucking well know, Palestinians won't be allowed the right of return either.

Language. Anyway, surely you can see a difference between "we won't let seven million Palestinians migrate here en masse subsequent to them getting their own state" and "we're going to kick all the Jews out as soon as we have the ability to do so".
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:01 AM on November 2, 2011


Sorry, that was an awful typo. 1350 including 350 minors is correct (a little higher on B'Tselem, but that was from memory.)

I don't want to minimise the importance of any loss of life

Then don't.

but this is remarkably low ratio of civilian deaths and testifies to the IDF's restraint in a thoroughly justified war.

A war is when two armies are fighting. The IDF lost one soldier, and by your own admission, the civilian death toll was two hundred fifty Palestinians per Israeli. I'm sure they didn't want to minimize the importance of loss of life either.

In any event, I think Israel has effectively allowed everything except dual-use supplies though for about a year now.

Dual use supplies like portland cement, lumber, and all other building materials unless approved by the IDF. The same IDF that doesn't control Gaza, right?

No; it's restricted by the fact that they live in an area controlled by a terrorist group that lobs rockets into Israel on a daily basis.

If someone invaded your country, and trapped you and your children in a refugee camp, you would just sit there until you died, because it was the right thing to do? You'd watch the helicopters and jet fighters and tanks and bulldozers slowly raze your country to the ground while you breathlessly filled out all sorts of forms asking for their permission to live? Do you think when a society's independence and dignity is robbed from them after they lose their homes in a war, they just roll over and show their bellies?

If that's the case, all the Palestinians need to do is raise a larger army, push the Israelis back to the '48 borders, cut off all of the airspace and ports, take away most of their homes, schools, infrastructure, land — and of course, all of their weapons — and severely restrict access to the outside world. I'm sure every Israeli in their non-state (since they can't provide security for themselves) would very politely sit in the house they were so graciously allowed to build by the Palestinian Defense Force. And, of course, any time an Israeli shot a weapon in the direction of Palestine that resulted in a fatality, the Palestinians could justifiably storm in and return the favor 250 fold without any complaints from you.

Of course, this wouldn't include regular Palestinian incursions into the non-state of Israel to kidnap Israelis suspected of conspiring to attack Palestine, which would be happening on an almost daily basis. It wouldn't include house demolitions, or regular humiliations at checkpoints for the crime of traveling, or forcing Israelis to apply for medical visas to get good treatment, or construction of settlements beyond the '48 borders — for security, of course — or the innumerable diplomatic threats Palestine would make with the backing of China and Egypt.

And you wouldn't fault Palestine for any of this behavior, would you? In fact, you'd applaud them for their just intentions, and their just wars, and their just policies. I just know you would.
posted by deanklear at 2:18 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


If someone invaded your country, and trapped you and your children in a refugee camp,

You mean like when the Russians invaded Germany, tore off a huge chunk and made the Germans migrate west while they expanded the borders of Poland?

Or when Turkey drove Greeks west?
Or when Greece drove Turks east?

You really think that experience is oh, so special?

you would just sit there until you died, because it was the right thing to do?

You adapt.
posted by ocschwar at 5:09 AM on November 2, 2011


You really think that experience is oh, so special?

Can we technically label this thread as Godwinned?
Is it over now?
posted by Theta States at 6:15 AM on November 2, 2011


If someone invaded your country, and trapped you and your children in a refugee camp

This runs contrary to my understanding of '48
posted by rosswald at 7:06 AM on November 2, 2011


So, from one textbook in 2001, we can infer the second paragraph? ocschwar, that's not just a slippery slope. It's the greased tip of a hook, and you're on it.


You want more? There is lots more.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4134091,00.html


Taha manages 10 research excavations conducted with foreign funding. The Dutch government, through UNESCO, just donated 300,000 euros to the Palestinian Authority, meant to finance the excavation of an ancient city outside Nablus. A feature entitled “Jerusalem, a City Crying Out for Justice” in the PA’s Internet site said that “all historic studies and archeological excavations have failed to find any proof” for the existence of the ancient Jewish temples.

Taha is now trying to put together a case to take Israel to the International Court of Justice in the Hague to condemn the Israeli excavations near the Temple Mount as “war crimes and crimes against humanity.” This is the most inflammatory calumny that was directly connected to the deaths of dozens of Israelis and Palestinians during the so-called “Western Wall Tunnel riots” of 1995.

From his office in a restored house in Ramallah, Taha is also mastering a new Palestinian denial meant to cancel any trace of Jewish presence in the Holy Land. According to Taha, the Bible is a “mythological narrative,” Israeli archeology is “Eurocentric,” “land was confiscated in the name of God and archaeology” and the Israeli works are rooted in “imperialism.”


[/end quote]

UNESCO is funding people who are devoted to destroying everything UNESCO is supposed to stand for. SOrt of like the UN Human Rights Council...
posted by ocschwar at 8:18 AM on November 2, 2011


One term we shouldn't really use when dealing with Israel/Palestine is *racism*. It doesn't apply. The situation is incredibly complicated, and most of the time, the US is wrong, while both Israel and the Palestinian parties have legitimate rights. But still, discussing wether Jews or Arabs are victims of racism makes no sense at all.
posted by mumimor at 2:24 PM on November 2, 2011




One term we shouldn't really use when dealing with Israel/Palestine is *racism*.

But it's a very good term to use if you don't want to deal with the Israel/Palestine issue, as Israel's apologists demonstrate.
posted by MarkC at 8:37 AM on November 4, 2011


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