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Israel Surrounds Arafat HQ
March 28, 2002 10:47 PM   Subscribe

Israel Surrounds Arafat HQ -- Israelis seem very serious this time. So which side are you on?
a) DAMN ISRAELIS or b) DAMN PALESTINIANS
I pick b.
posted by yevge (90 comments total)

 
Nice editorializing, yevge. Do you always go around starting fires for fun?

I love pancakes, light and fluffy ones with lots of butter and maple syrup. Anyone else like them?
posted by evanizer at 10:51 PM on March 28, 2002


Haikus are better
Than a lame post that seem to
Bring about more hate
posted by BlueTrain at 10:52 PM on March 28, 2002


I agree with the the sentiment, Evanizer and Bluetrain, but I think trying to derail posts we don't like with pancakes and haiku is worse than the constant stream of Israel-filter posts.
posted by Doug at 11:07 PM on March 28, 2002


Ill chosen words perhaps but considering this post by him, I would argue yevge's no troll but wrote them in heat. And it's not a lame post and he didn't start the fire. I try to stay out of these MidEast slugfests but I'm going to defend his right to make the post. And considering the article linked, I can understand his heat. This is very very scary.
posted by y2karl at 11:07 PM on March 28, 2002


So if the Israel/Palestine conflict escalates, can anyone see the afganistan/axis o' evil war we're waging cross paths? Will these conflicts merge into one big war, or is that out of the realm of possibility?
posted by mathowie at 11:13 PM on March 28, 2002


Well, if we were true to our 'War Against Terror,' we would fall for Sharon's attempts to back us into a corner and side with him.

But we really only pick on terrorists when other political agendas are convenient. I don't see Bush being gullible enough to step into a thousand year old war.
posted by dogmatic at 11:19 PM on March 28, 2002


Scary.

I dont think its going to merge in one big war. It would destabilize the pro-US emirates / regimes in the middle east. I can think of three reasons US would be ill-advised to do that:
1. Oil
2. Need for a base for launching any theoratical attack on Iraq
3. The military presence/launching pad on Saudi Arabia that US needs badly

If US escalates this Afghan thing into a big war, the pro-US regimes would need to neutralize their stance / take an anti US stance. Palestine is the biggest rallying cry in the middle east today and going against it would turn their own people against the leaders there.

But this is probably the most hawkish US administration in a long time. They would definitely do what they can to help Israel.
posted by justlooking at 11:25 PM on March 28, 2002


Will these conflicts merge into one big war, or is that out of the realm of possibility?

My gut feeling is that the US will keep its nose "clean" (Yes, I realize how deep we're in the mess already) until this war affects oil supply by OPEC and/or nuclear escalation.

But I also feel that these new acts of terrorism (i.e. the suicide bombings every couple of days) are a reaction to 9/11, in a way...I think that these cell, like Hamas, have discovered that terrorism works, at least for now, and will continue to utilize suicide bombers until we can discover an antidote.

The fact that the US is vulnerable only gives the world hope that ends through violent and deadly means do in fact create positive results. I'm truly afraid of what this spells for the innocent Israelis and Palestinians, like us, who merely watch as their citizenry are murdered.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:25 PM on March 28, 2002


Re: the post:
I think both have lost the moral high ground. But I differentiate between hurting/killing innocents in the course of persuing militants and targetting innocents deliberately. In the large gray area that is the Palestine issue - I am more sympathetic to the Israelis.
posted by justlooking at 11:27 PM on March 28, 2002


I am on the side of C) DAMN HUMANS

I'm very tired of people thinking that I have to take sides on something that really has very little effect on my life.

I am not a protectionist but I believe that given the crap that passes for information on this conflict and many other conflicts make it impossible to take sides.

The first casualty of war is the truth.
posted by MaddCutty at 11:32 PM on March 28, 2002


2. Need for a base for launching any theoratical attack on Iraq
3. The military presence/launching pad on Saudi Arabia that US needs badly


The US is supposedly already moving a lot of materiel and troops to Qatar, both for an eventual Iraq attack and because of our deteriorating relationship with Saudi Arabia.
posted by aaron at 11:47 PM on March 28, 2002


Geez, this is getting really scary.
posted by catatonic at 12:00 AM on March 29, 2002


Incidentally, websavvy linked to this great journal of a reporter in the Gaza strip in an earlier post that I found very compelling.
posted by catatonic at 12:02 AM on March 29, 2002


Yom Kippur War - Arab Oil Embargo
"In 1972 the price of crude oil was about $3.00 and by the end of 1974 the price of oil had quadrupled to $12.00. The Yom Kippur War started with an attack on Israel by Syria and Egypt on October 5, 1973. The United States and many countries in the western world showed strong support for Israel. As a result of this support Arab exporting nations imposed an embargo on the nations supporting Israel."
I don't think Arab states or the US will get directly involved...we need the oil and they need the cash.
posted by Mack Twain at 12:05 AM on March 29, 2002


I personally always try to be very open minded about the Palestinians and their cause. That's why I love, MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield... her interviews give a much needed perspective of what the Palestinians, and Arabs in general ar going through.

On the other hand, I feel that any democratic country, especially one that is under such attack should gain America's support. Judging by other Arab regimes in the area, if the Palestinians do take over the land currently occupied by the Israelis, the government that will be setup will most likely be a non-democratic one.

Israel in its short 50 something year existence (despite the constant terror) has created a highly developed, and economically/politically stable government. Even though they lack oil, which almost every other country in the region seems to have -- they are still doing quite well.

Israel is not the aggressor, its government philosophy and goal is not for the "Destruction and prevention of existence of the State of Palestine" nor is it to kill Palestinians/Muslims/Arabs. The Palestinians on the other hand have a goal of the total destruction of the State of Israel. Had Israel been left alone, to peacefully exist in its current state, it would not take aggressive actions because it's not in its economic or political interests to randomly attack Palestinians.

There is a difference between terrorism or "freedom fighters" and government retaliatory attacks. There is no excuse for blowing up yourself and 21 other people during a Passover Seder -- during one of the holiest holidays of the year.

I am sure that my argument is full of holes -- so I would love to hear everybody point them out :)

My posts are one sided not to "start a fire for fun" but instead to hear the different arguments expressed more ardently. After all MetaFilter is a place for discussion to take place, and I was hoping to hear the truth about what people think, instead of political correctness. I might be wrong for doing this, but I am not obligated to be arbitrary and impartial.
posted by yevge at 12:06 AM on March 29, 2002


I just perceive them to be like two kids constantly scrapping in the playground. The tit-for-tat nature of these recent ecounters only serve to undermine whatever credibility either side might have.

The only difference I can tell between the two sides is that the Palestinian attackers are individual terrorists, people willing to be martyrs for their cause, while the Israeli attackers are state-sponsored military officials.
posted by skylar at 12:33 AM on March 29, 2002


He's already under house arrest, why does it matter if they have troops around there?
posted by statusquo at 12:36 AM on March 29, 2002


At this point picking sides is almost moot. They're both losing. Their children are losing. And we're all lost by association. One world.
posted by artifex at 12:40 AM on March 29, 2002


This situation is not a football match, yevge. Why did you feel the need to turn a serious conflict into a 'whose side are you on?' question. That's what gets me, and what makes me wonder why this post wasn't deleted. Perhaps if you had decided to side with the Israelis it would have been axed. I never know around here. Fortunately, the comments so far have been basically intelligent and moderate. The reason for my pancakery was because I was sure this would quickly turn into another ugly, vaguely anti-Semitic flame fest.

As far as this conflict is concerned, I don't like to think of it as taking sides. But I'm always on the side of reason, progress, religious moderation and modernity, ideas that, sadly, the religious and political leaders of most of the Arab/Palestinian world do not want their people to experience. I try not to side with people who use irrational religious justification to murder people; that trick has been used to slaughter too many of my kind (and plenty of other kinds) over the years. But pleas to irrationality, based upon the unquestioning adherence to eons-old religious doctrine, are the only ways to get the many otherwise intelligent people of the Arab world to commit what is literally, figuratively and spiritually, suicide.

If the scales don't fall from someone's eyes soon, the world is going to be mired in some seriously deep excrement.
posted by evanizer at 12:42 AM on March 29, 2002


"Come on, dogs," the voice booms in Arabic. "Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come!"

I stand up. I walk outside the hut. The invective continues to spew: "Son of a bitch!" "Son of a whore!" "Your mother's cunt!"

The boys dart in small packs up the sloping dunes to the electric fence that separates the camp from the Jewish settlement. They lob rocks toward two armored jeeps parked on top of the dune and mounted with loudspeakers. Three ambulances line the road below the dunes in anticipation of what is to come.

A percussion grenade explodes. The boys, most no more than ten or eleven years old, scatter, running clumsily across the heavy sand. They descend out of sight behind a sandbank in front of me. There are no sounds of gunfire. The soldiers shoot with silencers. The bullets from the M-16 rifles tumble end over end through the children's slight bodies. Later, in the hospital, I will see the destruction: the stomachs ripped out, the gaping holes in limbs and torsos.

Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered—death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo—but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport


and later...

A truck, manned by militants, is parked at the end of the street. The bearded Islamists in white robes wait to turn the funeral into a rally. The boy's body will be the prop. It is a familiar act. Martyrs, especially child martyrs, are a potent weapon in the hands of radical groups. It is hard to argue with death. Nationalists in Bosnia or Kosovo, insurgents in Central America, made a great show of funerals and the remains of those who were sacrificed for the cause.

The father says that he had no part in the decorations, which include posters of Saddam Hussein. He seems indifferent to the display. He speaks slowly, his puffy eyes and uncomprehending gaze giving the lie to the rhetoric of sacrifice and glory.

"This is what I worked so hard to prevent," he says, his voice hoarse and low. "I took Ali with me every day to my restaurant at 6:00 in the morning on al-Bahar Street. I made him promise he would not go to the dunes to throw rocks. Yesterday he asked to go home at 3:00. He said he had to study for the makeup sessions they are holding because of all the school closings this year. A half hour after he left people came running to tell me he was shot in the leg. I ran through the streets to the hospital. They would not let me in. They said he would be discharged soon. They told me he was okay. I forced my way inside and saw him lying in the corridor dead with a bullet hole in his heart. I fainted."



From this page and this page of the Gaza Diary websavvy originally linked.

If the scales don't fall from someone's eyes soon...

It's a bit more complex than just irrational religious arguments, evanizer...
posted by y2karl at 12:58 AM on March 29, 2002


Well said Maddcatty. You made me embarassed.
posted by justlooking at 12:58 AM on March 29, 2002


The reason for my pancakery was because I was sure this would quickly turn into another ugly, vaguely anti-Semitic flame fest.

I honestly do not understand this comment. Links to where you believe this happened???
posted by crasspastor at 12:59 AM on March 29, 2002


I forgot to mention the other irony here. The Israeli people know what it's like to be without a homeland. They know what it's like to be attacked and degraded. So while admittedly the Palestinians are doing their fair share of terrorism, I still feel that Israel should not be the agressor, should not be occupying territory, and should allow the Palestinians their right to a homeland as well.
posted by skylar at 1:03 AM on March 29, 2002


I'm not saying people aren't capable of It (anti-Semitism). But I've not witnessed one truly, what I would call anti-Semitic comment yet in my year here reading and commenting. Saying nothing of a 'trend', which you appear to be suggesting evanizer.
posted by crasspastor at 1:05 AM on March 29, 2002


There is no anti-semitism here. The Palestianian struggle is not against Israel or Jews as the media would make us believe. This struggle is against a Zionist agenda. When people from all over the world are being imported into one state, given free homes in an occupied territory, and given incentives to have the most number of children in order to create facts on the ground, I call that anti-semitism because Arabs are semites too.

When bullets kill, they do not differentiate between Israeli or Palestinian. Why should we differentiate and pick sides or give our moral backing for murder.
posted by adnanbwp at 1:27 AM on March 29, 2002


"and given incentives to have the most number of children in order to create facts on the ground"
What is that about?
posted by justlooking at 2:37 AM on March 29, 2002


I think he means they're trying to buoy their population, thereby "creating facts" -- population statistics, a quorum, sovereignty, a justification for the occupation, etc.

For the record, the Palestinians are also being encouraged to reproduce like rabbits -- which only creates more innocent victims on both sides, and more angry youths.
posted by donkeyschlong at 2:53 AM on March 29, 2002


-offtopic-
I always thought child birth is a long, ardous and highly emotional experience. I somehow find it kinda hard to believe that women would reproduce in order to meet a political agenda - however close to heart that agenda may be. In India too there are otherwise perfectly sane people who genuinely believe that Muslims reproduce more in order to attain numerical majority. That's crap. The poor simply have more children. In erstwhile Russia, mothers were encouraged to have more children. Since it meant better benefit (more spacious apartments etc.), it worked to a certain extent. If I remember correctly, in Japan the government is trying to encourage its citizens simply to have children, but in that more economically affluent society its not working.
-/offtopic-
posted by justlooking at 3:09 AM on March 29, 2002


The Palestianian struggle is not against Israel

Of course it isn't.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:10 AM on March 29, 2002


I somehow find it kinda hard to believe that women would reproduce in order to meet a political agenda - however close to heart that agenda may be.

Remember Nazi Germany?
posted by twistedonion at 3:32 AM on March 29, 2002


That's the official cue for all rationality to flee the thread, right twistedonion?
posted by rhizome23 at 4:12 AM on March 29, 2002


"That's the official cue for all rationality to flee the thread, right twistedonion?"

only if we let it.
posted by jcterminal at 4:21 AM on March 29, 2002


and in a israel/palestinian thread perhaps it can be a cue to increase the amount of rationality.

arafat isn't going to make it out alive. reservists are being called up. New suicide bombings. I'd say this is going to get very bad but not involve the US or other arab nations at this point. Who is going to be the new fall-guy leader of Palestine? I doubt the various factions will vote or anything.

They will have to fight israel and each other until something happens to stop it, and what that can be i just can't fathom.
posted by th3ph17 at 4:36 AM on March 29, 2002


I find it nauseatingly ironic that the escalations of violence all started a little under a year and a half ago when Sharon visited a disputed site, Temple Mount, with an escort of armed guards.

Remember?

Causality is a bitch.
posted by rhizome23 at 4:48 AM on March 29, 2002


That's the official cue for all rationality to flee the thread, right twistedonion?

In what way? My intention wasn't to be inflammitory or irrational. I was simply pointing out that what justlooking said could be argued. I have nothing else to add to this thread as I simply don't understand the history of the problem. From what I can tell though, this problem wasn't created by the Israelis but by the Western Powers who took Palestine and handed it to the Jews.
posted by twistedonion at 4:55 AM on March 29, 2002


I think all the posts are right.
posted by Postroad at 4:59 AM on March 29, 2002


Nothing personal, twistedonion.
Just referencing Godwin's Law.
posted by rhizome23 at 5:03 AM on March 29, 2002


There are a lot of American citizens in this MeFi conversation who have no reason to place the interests of either Israel or Palestine above the US interest of seeing peace and stability in the Middle East. You can talk all you want about how it is "racist", "anti-Semitic", "anti-Arab" not to pick sides, but it may not have much effect. This strategy of dragging everybody else into "picking sides" instead of working for peace is getting really old.

(What I said before.)
posted by sheauga at 5:40 AM on March 29, 2002


picking the side of Working for Peace is the tricky one. I pick it, but where do i go stand in line to stand up?
posted by th3ph17 at 5:44 AM on March 29, 2002


This thing will not stop until Jerusalem is integrated or gone.
posted by pracowity at 5:51 AM on March 29, 2002


Only one click away, th3ph17:

Friends of the Earth Middle East
Seeds of Peace

A reality check on the "make it out alive business" -- Mr. Arafat is past US retirement age already. Despite this, the focus seems to be on "we have to get rid of him" rather than "are we really prepared for when Mr. Arafat's not there?" Since when has fate favored the unprepared?
posted by sheauga at 5:51 AM on March 29, 2002


Come to think of it, attacking Arafat on Good Friday does have a certain symbolic resonance.

Yuk. Where's the Jean Paul Sartre Brigade when we need them?
posted by sheauga at 5:56 AM on March 29, 2002


Recycled from my comments on previous MeFi threads on this topic:

"Oh Yay, another thread about an impossible political/religious dilemma with obvious sides squaring off using mostly propagandistic (a word?) rhetoric and precious little new perspective. Why don't we just discuss the chicken and the egg some more?

The Palestinians and Isrealis (not to mention the people of a few other middle east states) have long exhausted any claims they might have to legitimacy. If one ever prevails over the other it will be by force and then remain only by force, probably imposed from without by some major power like the US. When the US stops needing oil the region will disappear into an oblivion of squabbling religious and political factions (that is, after the arab nations unite to kick out the jews first)."
posted by plaino at 6:02 AM on March 29, 2002


Friday, 29 March, 2002, 13:06 GMT
Angolan attack mars peace hopes: Suspected Unita rebels have killed 15 people near the coastal city of Benguela, a church-run radio station in Angola reports.

Friday, 29 March, 2002, 07:36 GMT
Ghanaian king confirmed dead: The king of Ghana's influential Dagomba tribe has been killed in factional fighting, along with many of his supporters, the king's brother confirmed on Thursday.

Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 13:44 GMT
New rebel attack in northern Liberia: Many civilians are reported to have died in renewed fighting between the Liberian army and rebels guerrillas in the north-west of the country.

(all from news.bbc.co.uk)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:10 AM on March 29, 2002


Yuk. Where's the Jean Paul Sartre Brigade when we need them?

Okay now that is really funny sheauga ...
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:19 AM on March 29, 2002


Just referencing Godwin's Law.

Cheers for the link rhizome23. Never heard of it before
posted by twistedonion at 6:40 AM on March 29, 2002


And to think these people won the Nobel Peace Prize.
posted by stormy at 7:27 AM on March 29, 2002


I'm gonna go on the side of the Americans. Those guys usually win (as long as no jungles are involved).
posted by owillis at 7:32 AM on March 29, 2002


The stupidity of it all is that the Arab community basically handed the peace process to Israel on a silver platter and Israel decided to spit in it.

Jeruselum doesn't have to be integrated. East Jeruselum is all the Arabs care about.

'right of return' was rephrased to benefit the Israelis.

Call for a pull-back from the Palestinian areas, which were the original boundaries from Oslo.

And the Israelis get official recognition from the Arabs states in the region. Which apparantly, they were never interested in. Instead they decide to use the terrorists as an excuse to go after Arafat and basically make the whole Arab summit, that could have had a significant effect on solidifying an end-game for the peace process, a waste of time.

Um, didn't Hamas say the bombing was intended to derail the peace process of the summit? So, isn't Israel doing exactly what the terrorists they despise wanted them to do?

People seem to think Arafat is a puppetmaster in Palestine, that he is coordinating every little move of rock throwing to bombings. This perception is actively supported by Israel because it lets them react like they did this morning. But logically, it is extremely unlikely that this is true.

the two sides are fighting just to fight. Peace would benefit Arafat more, since it would solidify his party as the head of a Palestine state. Constantly fighting battles isn't doing him any good. Although he is using the opportunity to set himself as a martyr.

As for Israel as the only democratic state in the mid-east and using that as the reason why the U.S. should support them - the rest of the world has consistently condemned Israel's human rights abuses. They actively promote a class system that punishes anyone of arab decent, even if they are Jewish. They practice segregation through forced encampments of palestinians, have state-sponsored violatation of rights by taking land and homes away from arabs and 'settling' Jewish people in their place. Israel, as a state, uses religion and race as defining factors that influence almost all parts of life.

You know, I think the history of Jews, just like that of blacks and Indians in America, Indians under British rule, blacks in South Africa have all been terrible miscarrages of human decency. But I don't think it gives any group the right to 'proactively protect' themselves by keeping other groups down and claim it is ok because they've been treated so badly in history.
posted by rich at 7:41 AM on March 29, 2002


I'm not in favor of either. I dont get involved with the Middle East conflicts. Its been going on forever. I think if there were peace in the Middle East you would see alot of Middle East people getting Zoloft to ease the depression.
posted by sahrens428 at 8:09 AM on March 29, 2002


'right of return' was rephrased to benefit the Israelis.

That's rich, rich. Surely you're aware that the 'right of return' was added at the Arab summit. As in rephrased from nothing to something. This was an act equivalent to spitting in the dish right before it was served regardless of how nice the platter is.

Um, didn't Hamas say the bombing was intended to derail the peace process of the summit? So, isn't Israel doing exactly what the terrorists they despise wanted them to do?

Osama bin Laden said exactly the same thing about his attack, and yet I don't think you'll find too many who'll question our attack on that grounds. Sometimes your enemy is his own enemy too.

People seem to think Arafat is a puppetmaster in Palestine, that he is coordinating every little move of rock throwing to bombings. This perception is actively supported by Israel because it lets them react like they did this morning. But logically, it is extremely unlikely that this is true.

So yesterday it was 0% of the bombings and now it's merely something less than 100%. He has a significant amount of power that, up to yesterday, he was using to spurn Israeli cease-fire attempts and, yes, orchestrate attacks on Israel. But I guess none of that's important if he's not 100% responsible for everything.

They actively promote a class system that punishes anyone of arab decent, even if they are Jewish.

Utter BS. Sure, Sephardic Jews in Israel tend to earn less, but the difference is similar to that between blacks and whites in America. And a large majority of the difference can be attributed to the fact that Sephardic immigrants were poorer than European & America immigrants when they immigrated. This whole class system BS is just Marxist doublespeak: 'Look, they're poorer so obviously they're being oppressed.'
posted by boaz at 9:18 AM on March 29, 2002


I don't think the Jews history gives them the right to "proactively protect" themselves by keeping other groups down and claim it is ok because they've been treated so badly in history.

Wasn't Israel attacked by several Arab nations the day after Britain pulled out of the area?

Are Arabs living under an occupied army in Lebanon?

How many Arabs did Sadam slaughter?

Why aren't Arab nations up in arms about this?

If the Arab nations could defeat Israel in an armed conflict would they attempt to do so right now?

Is Israel militarily superior than Palastine?

Why isn't Israel driving the Palastinians from the land completely?

The stupidity of it all is that Rabin basically handed the peace process to Palastine on a silver platter and Palastine decided to spit in it.

What is wrong with this:

"3. Jerusalem

Palestine would obtain sovereignty over suburbs in the north and the south of Jerusalem that would be annexed to the West Bank, including Abu Dees, Alezariye and eastern Sawahre.

Within East Jerusalem, in (Beit Hanina-Shuafat), there would be a civilian administration affiliated with the Palestinian Authority with the possibility of linking it to West Jerusalem through a municipality covering both sectors. The Palestinians would run a branch municipality within the framework of the Israeli higher municipal council while depriving them from planning and construction jurisdictions.

Palestinian, Arab, Islamic and Christian administration of holy shrines in the old city of Jerusalem. The Palestinians would be allowed to hoist the Palestinian flag over the Islamic and Christian shrines along with a safe passage linking northern Jerusalem, which would be annexed to the West Bank, to those areas so that Palestinians and Muslims would not pass through lands under Israeli sovereignty. "
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 9:25 AM on March 29, 2002


The stupidity of it all is that Rabin basically handed the peace process to Palastine on a silver platter and Palastine decided to spit in it.

But if the deal was land-for-peace, why did Israel confiscate (state way of saying steal) 100s of thousands of acres and double the settlement population. How is that a silver platter?
posted by cell divide at 9:32 AM on March 29, 2002


The stupidity of it all is that Rabin basically handed the peace process to Palastine on a silver platter and Palastine decided to spit in it.

But if the deal was land-for-peace, why did Israel confiscate (state way of saying steal) 100s of thousands of acres and double the settlement population. How is that a silver platter?
posted by cell divide at 9:35 AM on March 29, 2002


But if the deal was land-for-peace, why did Israel confiscate (state way of saying steal) 100s of thousands of acres and double the settlement population. How is that a silver platter?

If the deal was land-for-peace, then it makes perfect sense that the Palestinians lost land. No peace, no land. After all, Israel actually did try to implement the Oslo accords; it's kinda facetious to say one side was wrong for not doing both what was agreed upon and what the other side wished they had asked for, while the other side didn't even do what was agreed upon (How's that PLO charter change coming along, cell divide?).
posted by boaz at 9:46 AM on March 29, 2002


Land is tangible, "peace" isn't.
posted by semmi at 9:57 AM on March 29, 2002


Let's just hope the Israelis are finally serious: complete reoccupation of the territories; imprisonment of the most extreme thugs; removal of their weapons. Also, imprisonment of Arafat and his vile entourage.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:04 AM on March 29, 2002


So are you trying to say that the settlement policy is a punishment for Hamas bombings? Does that make any sense to you? If Israel's hard liners ever had any intention of pulling out of the settlements, does it make sense to confiscate more land and double the population of the settlers? Of course not.

Obviously the goal of the hardliners was to create a situation where there could never be a Palestinian state; the same goal in mirror image on the Palestinian side, except they would be destroying rather than preventing.

What is Sharon's strategy? He invented the settlement policy, he urged his government to grab as much land as possible when possible, and now his goal seems to be to get rid of Arafat. Remember that Arafat represents the moderate and secular side of Palestine, his cabinet is stocked with Christians, atheists, and mostly moderates. If he is exiled or killed, who will rise up to take his place? Hamas, the next biggest party. Islamic fundamentalists with no historical role in Palestinian society, people who twist a religion to justify the disgusting murder of innocent civilians.

Would anyone in the Western world disapprove of Israel reoccupying a West Bank with Hamas in control? I am a supporter of Palestinian rights but a radicalized Palestine led by Islamic fundamentalists is something I could never, ever support. Europe, the United Nations, most Arab countries, and pretty much everyone else would have to concede that Sharon's armies would have to re-occupy the entire West Bank.

And what comes next? Well, we're talking about the architect of the settlement policy, who knows the best way to short-circuit Palestinian national aspirations is to populate the West Bank with Israelis. Sharon has said he would like to bring 1 million new Jews to Israel from the former Soviet Union and South America. Where would they live? Not in the Negev.

Here's a simplified version of this strategy: Demand Arafat control terrorism while simultaneously blowing up his jails and police stations, keeping him confined to a few buildings, and slowly sapping his power to do anything. Declare him irrelevant. Demand 7 days of quiet for negotiations to take place, which means Hamas or other groups (who are opposed to all such negotiations) can ensure that negotiations will never happen. Depose Arafat. Hamas comes to power. Reoccupy with full world support (Taliban part II). Settle hundreds of thousands of new people in the chaotic land barely ruled by Islamic Fundamentalists. Declare a Palestinian state in Gaza. Transfer those in the West Bank to their new state run by Israel-approved, fully demilitarized regime. End of conflict.
posted by cell divide at 10:07 AM on March 29, 2002


Here's a simplified version of this strategy: Demand Arafat control terrorism while simultaneously blowing up his jails and police stations, keeping him confined to a few buildings, and slowly sapping his power to do anything.

Actually, Arafat had years to round up the offenders before Israel was forced to conclude Arafat was one of the terrorists. But there is a kernel of truth in what you said: once the conclusion was reached, it was stupid to give Arafat more chances. What's going on now should have been done 1 year ago.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:21 AM on March 29, 2002


Your analysis makes perfect sense cell divide, except for that pesky fact that Israel already offered 94% of the West Bank and all of Gaza back to the Palestinians, including dismantling a ton of settlements in the process. Somebody forgot to read the playbook. Instead, Arafat decided to plunge the Palestinians and Israelis in a brutal war to try to wrest that leftover 6%, a pretty ridiculous, self-defeating thing to do, unless ... unless that 6% never really was the final objective. After all, the only way to lose more sympathy than rejecting a peace treaty is to accept and then break one. Which brings me back to my question, cell divide: how is that PLO charter change coming along? You know, the one where they were going to stop claiming the 'liquidation of the Zionist presence' was their ultimate goal.
posted by boaz at 10:40 AM on March 29, 2002


According to this guy, it's everybodys fault.
posted by Fat Buddha at 11:56 AM on March 29, 2002


Boaz, I know I may present myself that way sometimes (devil's advocate?) but I am not trying to defend Arafat's bungling of his career and his people's future. He is a terrorist/guerrilla/negotiator but not a leader capable of making hard decisions or actualy 'pulling the trigger' on peace.

That being said, Barak's offer wasn't so hot when it came down to brass tacks. The 6% that would have been kept would have made governing very difficult. Could the Palestinians have approached the situation differently? Well obviously. But furthermore the current government and its radical constituency is fundamentally opposed to the Barak deal, or any deal that provides Palestinians with a viable state on most of the West Bank.

As for the PLO charter, well you've got me there! I don't think a Palestinian exists who, if given the chance, wouldn't return home to the land he lost only 50 years ago. But there is a gap between desire to reclaim what was lost just 1 or 2 generations ago, and the actual will, drive, and power to get it done. How many thousands of years have Jews been saying "next year in Jerusalem"? In other words, it will be a long time before Palestinians give up their emotional claims to the lands they lived on for years. But how many, if given a semblance of a normal life with a functioning economy, would still be willing to die for that impossible dream? Some, surely. But how many? Look at the support for Hamas during the peace process. Look at Arab-Israelis. Those with power over their own lives do not seek to destroy others.
posted by cell divide at 12:25 PM on March 29, 2002


how is that PLO charter change coming along? You know, the one where they were going to stop claiming the 'liquidation of the Zionist presence' was their ultimate goal.

Actually, the goal still stands. The struggle for freedom and for an independant Palestinian state is according to the charter. A victory in this struggle, will liquidate the Zionist presence. Only a Jewish Israel is acceptable. Not a Zionist one.

And, just to present my feelings, I am sick and tired of the Zionists holding the whole world on gun point on the issue of the Hollocaust. It was bad, it was ugly, and its over. So dont use the freakin Hollocaust as an excuse for every thing you do. If you are going to do that, just shut the @#$% up.
posted by adnanbwp at 12:48 PM on March 29, 2002


Well said, cell divide; I wish I could agree. But there is too much history pointing the other way, of Arabs who had work and lives in their own countries (or the nascent possibility thereof) giving it up to go try to wipe out The Zionist Presence. While the PLO can not even politically afford to say that that must end, then I can not in good faith believe that it can end. That's the essential issue, Palestinian willingness to live in peace with Israelis has to be a front-and-center issue, not an afterthought; since that's all they have to offer to Israel, they have to be willing to offer it.

Much less well said, adnanbwp. A couple of notes: First, what exactly is the difference between a Jewish Israel and a Zionist Israel? Jews living in Israel are pretty much by definition Zionists. Second, note that the only two people who brought up the holocaust in this thread are you and rich (and him only implicitly), both to complain about how us pro-Israel types use it as an excuse; you're lucky that irony isn't fatal. Now kindly back off from full lather to half lather at most, and we may be able to discuss this further.
posted by boaz at 2:19 PM on March 29, 2002


Boaz, I think what adnanbwp was referring to was this: there is a big difference between Jews coming back to live in their ancestral homeland and Jews establishing a political Jewish entity that displaces the previous residents. Zionism may have started out as a movement to return Jews to Israel *alongside* the existing inhabitants but it has come to mean Jews coming back to *displace* and live as rulers over the existing inhabitants. The first instance is fine and dandy, the second is just plain morally wrong.
posted by laz-e-boy at 2:25 PM on March 29, 2002


Another thing, Boaz - why should Palestinians forget about the homes they had 50 years ago when Jews never forgot Jeruselem for thousands of years? Indeed, Jews are suing for property lost during the Holocaust, and winning. Why is a piece of artwork or a Swiss bank account OK to reclaim, but a home in pre-1948 Palestine not OK?
posted by laz-e-boy at 2:28 PM on March 29, 2002


boaz: my reference was not to this post alone. You sound like a reasonable person, you should have understood that.

Listen to any Israeli interview on any network or cable news channel. Whenever they are questioned about humanity, for example Sharon himself, they say the world does not have to tell them about humanity and that we can teach the world better. Well, thats an exact reference to hollocaust. But did the hollocaust give Zionists a free license to do whatever they wish ?

cell divide is right. I am beginning to understand what he meant by Sharon's strategy. Sharon has always been against the Oslo agreement. He has created an environment in Israel that ended up in the murder of Rabin. He has said that he should have killed Arafat back then. As the agriculture minister in the past, he devised the strategy of settling Israelis in the occupied land in order to make it difficult for any Israeli government to bring them back.

The sad thing is that I see his strategy working.
posted by adnanbwp at 2:35 PM on March 29, 2002


Israel is a Jewish entity, laz-e-boy; if it weren't, it'd be called Palestine. There is a country in the Middle East where Jews live alongside Arabs; By coincidence, it's also called Israel. Further, a little history reading will show you that the 'existing inhabitants' were alarmed by the influx of Jews into British Palestine and both lobbied the British to limit the number of Jews who could enter and terrorized the existing Jewish inhabitants. So, when those existing inhabitants had the chance to accept that arrangement, they turned it down as well. Have we established a pattern yet? The sad fact is that all the 'moral' solutions people keep listing have already been tried: Pre-1967 borders? That was the case in 1966; Living side-by-side? Tried that in the 1930's. Each time, the 'existing inhabitants' rejected those arrangements.
posted by boaz at 2:48 PM on March 29, 2002


Boaz - A small clarification not related to the discussion: Some Jews in Israel are most definitely anti-Zionist because they believe the state of Israel cannot be re-established until the Messiah comes, and that the existence of the current Israel might delay that events.

Getting off the Israel vs. Palestine argument, doesn't anyone else have fears of what the creation of an unstable Palestinian state might do to the situation? It could actually makes things worse - bring about civil war and an increase in terrorism. Wouldn't it be better to just revert to pre-1967 borders? The Palestinians deserve to have a home, but I'm not convinced it's in anyone's best interests, including theirs, for them to have a state right now. And since most of the Middle East borders have more to do with the British empire than anything else, why isn't Jordan getting the West Bank back the best solution to the problem (besides the reality that they many not want it back because of the very problems I'm talking about)?
posted by spira at 2:49 PM on March 29, 2002


The sad fact is that all the 'moral' solutions people keep listing have already been tried: Pre-1967 borders? That was the case in 1966; Living side-by-side? Tried that in the 1930's. Each time, the 'existing inhabitants' rejected those arrangements.

Not true, Boaz. Any animosity that existed between Jewish and Arab inhabitants of Palestine grew directly in proportion to the growth of Zionism as a movement. This was not a coincidence. Why shouldn't the Arabs at the time have been wary of it? Given history in the last 100 years, they were justified in their opposition of Zionism - it took away their homes, farms, and properties just as they feared.

Oh, and in 1967, Egypt and Jordan fought a war with Israel - not the Palestinians. The Palestinians did not start a war with Israel and did not deserve 30+ years of occupation as a punishment for a war others fought.
posted by laz-e-boy at 2:58 PM on March 29, 2002


boaz: my reference was not to this post alone. You sound like a reasonable person, you should have understood that.

Right. But this is a place to have discussions, and neither bringing up the holocaust nor telling people to "just shut the @#$% up" seem designed to foment discussion. In fact, with reference to the holocaust, there's a famous 'law' known as Godwin's Law which directly comments on how little its mention adds to a discussion.
posted by boaz at 3:01 PM on March 29, 2002


The original Zionist movement, laz-e-boy, was based on overseas funding for the purchase of lands in Palestine. Nobody came in and took homes, farms and properties.
And those 30+ years of occupation are in lands that were formerly parts of Jordan and Egypt. There really are no "Palestinians". Those people are arabs and bedoins.
posted by gnz2001 at 3:18 PM on March 29, 2002


Nobody came in and took homes, farms and properties

as the notorious Dr. Evil would say... "Rrrrriiggghttt".
posted by adnanbwp at 3:24 PM on March 29, 2002


Not true, Boaz. Any animosity that existed between Jewish and Arab inhabitants of Palestine grew directly in proportion to the growth of Zionism as a movement. This was not a coincidence.

Since you yourself admitted that Zionism started as a movement to live alongside the native inhabitants, it's a tad facetious to say now that the growth of Zionism was responsible for the animosity between them.

The Palestinians did not start a war with Israel and did not deserve 30+ years of occupation as a punishment for a war others fought.

Check you history, laz-e-boy. The Palestinians did start a war with Israel, on the day that the UN Partition plan was approved. It's also disingenuous to claim that 'others' fought the 1967 war, since all the countries involved had large Palestinian populations at the time.
posted by boaz at 3:29 PM on March 29, 2002


I did say "the original Zionist movement," and my statement was accurate. Until the end of WWII, when extremist Arab groups threatened land owners who would sell land to Jews, at which time the price of land quadrupled, the entirety of Zionist settlements were established on land that was purchased fair and square.
posted by gnz2001 at 3:39 PM on March 29, 2002


It's also disingenuous to claim that 'others' fought the 1967 war, since all the countries involved had large Palestinian populations at the time.

Nonsense. The Palestinian populations of the West Bank/Gaza - which were distinct from Egypt and Jordan politically - had no political power or representation in those respective governments and had nothing to do with any decision regarding the 1967 war. That's a pretty tenuous linkage and I'm sure it helps you sleep at night.

I'm still waiting for an answer to my question about reclaiming property from 50 years ago.
posted by laz-e-boy at 4:05 PM on March 29, 2002


Actually, if I remember correctly, it was the Arab absentee landlords lthemselves iving in the large cities who originally sold away the lands to the jews disenfranchising the Arab farmers who tilled their the land. In my book, the creation and existence of Israel is far more legitimate than some of the middle eastern regimes that are so hostile to it. But the Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza strip are not.

But I dont think a discussion of who had cast the the first stone or who has greater legal/moral claim over the territory helps (though I myself am guilty of it on issues closer to my heart). I have made the same point here before - The fact is neither the Palestinians, nor the jews are gonna walk away from the land that is now Israel. If they want peace, they need to figure out how to coexist. I tend to think that Israel would eventually have to arrive at some kind of an arrangement with the Palestinians and would need to walk away from West Bank/Gaza strip. But that accomodation can not happen under threat. The only reason Israel has survived is the perception of strength. Once that perception of strength is gone, they are dead meat. Sharon is right to insist that the violence has to stop before they negotiate further. To do otherwise would be interpreted by a sign of weakness by a vast majority of Arab masses.

Israeli retaliations have been becoming sharper and uglier. I do wish USA would exert a tiny bit more control on Sharon to ensure sanity all round.
posted by justlooking at 4:33 PM on March 29, 2002


But that accomodation can not happen under threat. The only reason Israel has survived is the perception of strength. Once that perception of strength is gone, they are dead meat. Sharon is right to insist that the violence has to stop before they negotiate further.

Why can't it happen under threat? The Pals are threatened too, BTW. Every day of more occupation is more land taken, more farms razed, more checkpoints. And what do you mean by "perception of strength"? Do you really think Israel is that weak? Israel is the region's military superpower.

That said - I think that we're closer to a permanent agreement than ever before in this conflict, bloodshed notwithstanding. Everyone pretty much agrees on the basics of what the final agreement will look like (with the possible exception of refugees, although I'm sure a healthy compensation package will take care of that). The problem is how to get there given the current players. I think that it will have to be imposed on the parties to get them past their intransigence, and also offer them an excuse (They made us do it!) to the extremists on both sides.
posted by laz-e-boy at 4:47 PM on March 29, 2002


Why can't it happen under threat?

I tend to think that when you give in to terrorism, you are met with more demands. I think most people would agree that the majority of Palestinians dont recognize the right of Israel to exist. Many would want to go after more than Gaza strip and West Bank. I think if Israel is perceived to have given in to pressure/terror for vacating the occupied territories, the urge to go after the rest of Israel will gain momentum.

(I come from India. The government took a disastrous decision to exchange the kidnapped daughter of the home minister for militants. THAT really opened the floodgates of kidnappings in the valley. The kidnapping of Rubiya Sayeed and the capitulation of the Indian state was a defining moment in history of terrorism in India. Contrast that with the stance taken by the Italian government during the haydays of kidnapping in the Italy )

And what do you mean by "perception of strength"?

I guess I could use 'strength'. I probably didnt articulate very well. Let me try again. Israel survived because its strong. It is also perceived to be strong and steadfast under adversity. I think that perception of strength is as important as actual strength in dissuating attacks. Israel may survive other attacks, but that would destroy its economy (its already is getting battered).

( e.g. You have a low intensity conflict between India and Pakistan where Pakistan arms trains and smuggles Islamic Mujaheedins into J&K largely because they perceive that they are expected to lose a conventional war with India. I keep going back to South Asia to draw parallers because my knowledge of that domain is much stronger than that of middle east.

ps: i am kinda in between packing. so i may not be back to defend my position (if need be) before late tonight.
posted by justlooking at 5:23 PM on March 29, 2002


the urge to go after the rest of Israel

I think there is a lot of confusion out there between (A) what Palestinians in refugee camps and elsewhere regard as Israel's need to come to some moral self-knowledge about the history of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians (e.g. 1948), as a precondition to real reconciliation, and (B) what Palestinians anywhere actually expect as the best possible outcome or an acceptable resolution to embrace with peace. It's no mystery that (B) is a return to Israel borders of pre-1967, with fair stewardship of holy sites but the bulk of East Jerusalem itself under real Palestinian sovereignty. The "refugee problem" can be solved with a token gesture, not a "demographic time bomb"—when conditions ripen for real truth and reconcilation to join the mix.

I know many here on MetaFilter run way to the right of Israeli public opinion on historical questions about Israel—one luxury of distance is that the moral complexity of the realities of dispossession and occupation aren't staring you in the face—but, really, educated opinion in Israel is not as impossibly far from some version of (A) as most "pro-Israel" Americans think (including the Bush Admin., which is myopic in the extreme about how to use its influence or set its expectations). And (B) doesn't set them as automatically to spitting and boiling either. It's remarkable how tepid and cowardly U.S. official statements are—it makes the real news about Israel's own anguished conscience (which under the current stresses has retreated back into a state of potentiality) almost indigestible/incomprehensible to the U.S. news consumer.
posted by Zurishaddai at 5:56 PM on March 29, 2002


Nonsense. The Palestinian populations of the West Bank/Gaza - which were distinct from Egypt and Jordan politically - had no political power or representation in those respective governments and had nothing to do with any decision regarding the 1967 war.

I'll take your nonsense and raise you. First of all, nobody but the rulers of Egypt and Jordan had official representation; Jordan is a monarchy with a powerless parliament and Egypt is a sham republic. Second, the Palestinians are in an equivalent political situation right now and seem perfectly capable of causing enough trouble to be heard. Third, whatever their political clout, countries don't like hosting refugees, and retaking Israel would have been considered a natural method for relieving themselves of them.

I'm still waiting for an answer to my question about reclaiming property from 50 years ago.

So, let me get this straight: Palestinians attack their Jewish neighbors, sparking a civil war, when they lose, they flee and call on the neighboring Arab countries to attack them, who also lose, and now they want to be given their old land back. Do I really need to tell you what's wrong with this picture?

I'm sure it helps you sleep at night.

Awfully heated words coming from someone who lives on land that was stolen from American Indians. How's your sleep?
posted by boaz at 6:36 PM on March 29, 2002


laz-e: well, let's take the land ownership back... Seems, from their history, that the Jews owned the area around Jerusalem from a few thousand years ago, after it was deeded to them by their G_d. 50 years is nothing on that scale.....
posted by dwivian at 7:00 PM on March 29, 2002


Wouldn't it be better to just revert to pre-1967 borders?

It sounds good, (and it is the general basis of the Abdullah plan) but for me the question is begged -- who would that appease? The first attack on Israel came in 1949, almost immediatley after independence, when those borders were certainly in effect (actually, when Israel had even less land and was very nearly divided into three, non-contiguous regions) and being strongly administered by Jordan and Egypt. It's easy to say that peace will come if the land is ceded but history doesn't bear that out by any means and those making the promises have never shown any interest in keeping their word where Israel is concerned.

Israeli retaliations have been becoming sharper and uglier.

Uglier? How would you want a nation to respond in the face of almost daily terror murders of its citizens within its own, undisputed sovereign borders? When it happened just once to the U.S. we started a full blown war. That Israeli forces have not surrounded the every one of the Palestinian settlements is only a matter of restraint and strategy.

Every day of more occupation is more land taken, more farms razed, more checkpoints.

Cite that. (Best guess: you can't, and you're about to be fact checked.)
posted by Dreama at 8:26 PM on March 29, 2002


The first attack on Israel came in 1949, almost immediatley after independence, when those borders were certainly in effect

Dreama, allow me to fact check you: Namely, please cite your figures for the pre-1948 Arab/non-Arab proportions of the up-to-'67-State-of-Israel-boundaries. No such figures you will find can obscure the fact that the 1949 boundaries had to be refused by the Palestinians, since they amounted to the declaration of a Jewish state over land still largely populated by Arabs!
posted by Zurishaddai at 10:03 PM on March 29, 2002


Zurishaddai -- I'm sitting here with a series of maps of the region no more than two inches from my hand -- but I made no mention of proportions or populations, so you're fact checking air. However, the 1949 borders came about only after Israel soundly trounced invading Arab nations -- the Palestinians may have felt that they had to refuse the new boundaries, but they were solely the result of their friends' desire to attack and destroy Israel instead of allowing the previously acceptable borders to stand. Syria, Egypt and Jordan are the ones who deserve the finger pointing in that instance, but they've been summarily removed from bearing any responsibility for their role in creating the entire Palestinian "refugee" crisis to start with.
posted by Dreama at 12:16 AM on March 30, 2002


It's easy to say that peace will come if the land is ceded but history doesn't bear that out by any means and those making the promises have never shown any interest in keeping their word where Israel is concerned.

Apples and oranges. In 1948 and 1967, Israel wasn't getting its $2bn a year in military aid. The national myth of the plucky underdog has been replaced by a reality where Israel is a steroid-pumped pitbull. In fact, since 1967 the only country failing to respect legally-established borders has been Israel, in its treatment of occupied land and its military adventures in Lebanon. And yet again you talk about Israeli 'response', proving what Edward Said says about the rhetorical framing of this issue in the American media and by the Israeli lobby. Apparently, only the IDF is allowed to act in 'response' to indiscriminate murder of civilians and 'collateral damage'. Only Arafat is perceived to be 'getting what he deserves' or 'reaping what he sows', when in fact it's ordinary Palestinians who suffer. Why then, is it considered outrageous to argue that Sharon has reaped what he sowed on Temple Mount? Or to argue that there are no 'responding' sides, just two groups lashing out so instinctively now that the question of 'who started it' is as irrelevant as in a playground punchup.
posted by riviera at 4:04 AM on March 30, 2002


Let me correct myself, for missing one of my politics classes and forgetting a war: 'since 1973'.
posted by riviera at 4:11 AM on March 30, 2002


Look riviera, 1973 was the last time Israel was invaded, not the last time it was attacked. The last time Israel was attacked was today, and by the end of tomorrow, it will be tomorrow. If you wish to disqualify attacks just because it is merely Israel's citizens and not its very existence that is threatened with destruction by each, then it is you who is attempting to poison the discussion. There is a certain leisureliness of moral thought at work that considers the relative strength of combatants as a reliable inverse indicator of their morality.
posted by boaz at 7:33 AM on March 30, 2002


If the State of Israel had been carved out of the USA, I'm quite certain that the American people would be real PO'd about it, and would in fact have quite the opposite view of the situation...
posted by five fresh fish at 10:10 AM on March 30, 2002


If the State of Israel had been carved out of the USA, I'm quite certain that the American people would be real PO'd about it, and would in fact have quite the opposite view of the situation...

You mean like New York City? (Joking folks, put down the torches)

This seriously begs the question though: What do you figure the USA was carved out of?
posted by boaz at 12:00 PM on March 30, 2002


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