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Israel's founding war
January 13, 2004 12:49 PM   Subscribe


 
Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history.

Wow.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:13 PM on January 13, 2004


These are small war crimes. All told, if we take all the massacres and all the executions of 1948, we come to about 800 who were killed. In comparison to the massacres that were perpetrated in Bosnia, that's peanuts.

Even better.
posted by biffa at 1:22 PM on January 13, 2004


Some ethnic cleansing, apparently, is more equal than others.
posted by kgasmart at 1:23 PM on January 13, 2004


Not to prematurely Godwinize this thread or anything, but Hitler could have used some of the same verbiage to justify his own "ethnic cleansing" project. I'm just sayin'.
posted by laz-e-boy at 1:52 PM on January 13, 2004


wow, what a crazy interview.
posted by jcruelty at 1:57 PM on January 13, 2004


When they speak of the dangers of moral relativism, this, this here is what they speak of.
posted by Ptrin at 2:09 PM on January 13, 2004


Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history.

First of, the indigenous people of North America weren't annihilated, they were bartered with as soveriegn people, betrayed and subjugated. Most of the annihilation came from desease, not violence in search of a justfying principle. That came later. There was no final good to justify, only a growing inconvenience that lead to profit motive killing.

Second, the "final good" hasn't been written; not in America and not in Israel.

Third, can their be such a thing as a small war crime? Is it okay to a child that a power dispute only killed their brother and father but left their mom alive? In that case there ought to be a whole lotta happy Iraqis right now.

"Praise Allah, I'm totally stoked that Saddam/that American bomb only killed Grampa and not all of us. Woohoo!"
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:18 PM on January 13, 2004


"First of, the indigenous people of North America weren't annihilated, they were bartered with as soveriegn people, betrayed and subjugated. Most of the annihilation came from desease, not violence in search of a justfying principle. That came later. There was no final good to justify, only a growing inconvenience that lead to profit motive killing."

Oh Good, and here I thought they were annihilated.

I know this guy is a professor and all, but are his credentials serious? (After all, Cornel West is a professor...)
posted by jmgorman at 2:44 PM on January 13, 2004


His credentials are good. His first book, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict is one of the best and least biased books I've read on the subject. If you are interested in learning more about the history of Israel, it maybe the best source to date.

That said, I was surprised at how crackpot he came across in this interview. Words don't do justice.
posted by kurtosis at 3:20 PM on January 13, 2004


First: read Morris carefully! Israel did what it did because the 5 ara states around it refused to accept the UN mandate and stated that it would drive Israel into the sea. Exterminate. And they tried this and announced what they had in mind in the subsequent invasions.

America didn't purposely kill Indians? try looking up trail of blood in Google. Or chickenpox in blankets given as gifts, etc etc Hitler noted that reservations for indians gave him the idea for concentration camps.

Now havfing had access to lots of documents not ever made available to most people I can tell you that American atrocities in wartime that I saw would be far less than pleasing if you knew about them.
posted by Postroad at 3:22 PM on January 13, 2004


He's a very serious professor, an extraordinary researcher who bravely searched for the truth that his peers wanted covered up, and much if which is still probably covered up.

None of which has anything to do with his fealty to a cause which demands amorality as a necessary precondition for belief. One thing you can give him is that he is not afraid to both shine the light in the darkness and be utterly unmoved by it, and/or unable to connect the dark side to the present day.
posted by cell divide at 3:22 PM on January 13, 2004


Have some peanuts.
posted by 2sheets at 3:26 PM on January 13, 2004


Dose anyone know how this interview was received in Israel?
posted by carter at 3:29 PM on January 13, 2004


Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history.

wow indeed. Justified because if these horrible deeds hadn't been committed, he wouldn't have existed?

There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing

Eurgh. This conflict has a horrible self-righteousness to it. Each side considers themselves morally superior, but look deeper and it's really just the pot calling the kettle black.
posted by derbs at 3:51 PM on January 13, 2004


Or chickenpox in blankets given as gifts...

Smallpox, even.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:53 PM on January 13, 2004


man uncovers truth, and suffers (was boycotted by the isreali academic world, for example). Wanting to get back into good graces, he justifies.



In any event, claming that "the good" outweighs the "bad" is a little tough when "the bad" only happened 40 or so years ago, and the victims are still alive...
posted by delmoi at 4:01 PM on January 13, 2004


I think there is a much broader story here. If it is possible to take an overview of the content of this interview, one can see that the thought of the necessity of a Jewish nation state is at the core. In 1948 it seemed unquestionable that the surviving Jews of Europe needed a state of their own, since in those days it was still assumed that a nation state was the one certain way for a people to protect themselves from external enemies. Of course, with hindsite we can see that this reasoning was flawed. Nation states give very little protection and probably cause more problems than they prevent. Remember that this idea of nation states is historically quite recent. There was a time not very long ago when Europe was composed of many principalities, baronies, and other such small entities. France was not France, Germany was not Germany and even England was not Great Britain.

Nevertheless, the myth of such states is deeply embedded in the general consciousness. Everybody wants one. Maybe its just what evolved out of tribalism as populations increased and moved around, maybe its just the sense that one is more secure with those who are in some way felt to be closer genetically or culturally.

Whatever the reasons, though, this idea that each group ought to have its own power-base in the form of separate nation states - not just a Jewish one - seems to me to be an underlying cause of pretty much all the political and ethnic conflicts in the world.

But having said all this, what can we do?
posted by donfactor at 4:01 PM on January 13, 2004


A historian of great integrity.
Also the living definition of an extreme nationalist zealot.

An incredible combination.

(But were he saying this a century ago, I doubt that it would have raised a lot of eyebrows...)
posted by talos at 4:11 PM on January 13, 2004


he thought of the necessity of a Jewish nation state is at the core.

If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country - the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. It may yet turn out that this was his fatal mistake. If he had carried out a full expulsion - rather than a partial one - he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations."


And the map for this state was in a book written like 2000 years ago?

Actually I agree with him. If there are fanatics like him in Israel, there can be no peace.
posted by hoskala at 4:25 PM on January 13, 2004


First: read Morris carefully! Israel did what it did because the 5 ara states around it refused to accept the UN mandate and stated that it would drive Israel into the sea.

Uh, I know you're not trying to justify as the Zionist militias' slaughter of Palestinian civilians here by saying that they were under attack by other Arab states.

Cause it looks like you are.
posted by Ty Webb at 4:35 PM on January 13, 2004


But having said all this, what can we do?

My mother's solution? "Can't we just move all the Israelis, to like, Utah or Wyoming or something? There's nobody living there anyway, and it's kind of a desert."

It's so crazy it just might work. Seriously. I believe the USA should just give immigration visas to all non-criminal, non-infectious citizens (Jewish or Arab, who cares) of Israel? We give about $3.5 billion a year to Israel in foreign aid. I say we just import the whole country and turn them into taxpayers. It's a cool country full of cool people. I'd be proud to have them as citizens of the USA, it'd save us tons of money, we could diminish the massive overpopulation problem in the Mediterrean Middle East... Yes, we'd lose a major buyer of U.S. weapons systems, but the military-industrial complex can just suck it up.
posted by jengod at 4:48 PM on January 13, 2004


But having said all this, what can we do?

My mother's solution? "Can't we just move all the Israelis, to like, Utah or Wyoming or something? There's nobody living there anyway, and it's kind of a desert."

It's so crazy it just might work. Seriously. I believe the USA should just give immigration visas to all non-criminal, non-infectious citizens (Jewish or Arab, who cares) of Israel? We give about $3.5 billion a year to Israel in foreign aid. I say we just import the whole country and turn them into taxpayers. It's a cool country full of cool people. I'd be proud to have them as citizens of the USA, it'd save us tons of money, we could diminish the massive overpopulation problem in the Mediterrean-Middle East.
posted by jengod at 4:50 PM on January 13, 2004


Postroad writes Hitler noted that reservations for indians gave him the idea for concentration camps..

And it's worth noting that the template for the plantation-and-reservation colonization strategy in North America was first tried out on a smaller scale against the Irish by Cromwell in the 17th Century. After his Puritan regime was removed from power, later Monarchical regimes continued this strategy.

400 Years later Ireland is still recovering from the bitterness and apartheid created during this program. For Israelis to think they can find a "Final Solution" through more acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing is a mirage.
posted by meehawl at 4:51 PM on January 13, 2004


sorry for the double post. i know not what i do.
posted by jengod at 4:55 PM on January 13, 2004


I could say that I never wanted my tax money to go to Israel at all, but that could get me labelled as a hate monger.
posted by Keyser Soze at 4:55 PM on January 13, 2004


America didn't purposely kill Indians? try looking up trail of blood in Google. Or chickenpox in blankets given as gifts, etc etc Hitler noted that reservations for indians gave him the idea for concentration camps.

Postroad, (*shakes head in dismay*) would you please read what I wrote. There is no linear progression of goal driven history that justifies our betrayal of the indigenous peoples of this continent. It was willful; it was wrong.

Justifying backwards (as the Bush admin has done, and as is being exhibited by Morris), doesn't fly, it doesn't hunt and it doesn't work. It's stupid, oversimplified, inane and falacious.

Yes, yes, the Arabs around Israel wanted to push the jooooos into the sea. Please, in precise terms, explain how the newly formed state of Israel was any more justified in commiting a genocide of its own ... pushing the arabs back into the desert (a sea of sand).
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:05 PM on January 13, 2004


I guess when you're the chosen people, and it's the land God gave you, killing a few gentiles isn't so bad.
posted by Dasein at 5:09 PM on January 13, 2004




United States (except Alaska)
1492: 5,000,000 to 15,000,000
1900: 250,000


I'd call that genoside..
But hey you got coka~cola and Bush for your trouble, so it all evens out,
SEKON MFs
posted by Elim at 5:34 PM on January 13, 2004


OH And they Subjecated and enslaved and ethnically cleansed the rest, then to boot sterilized AND culture-cided some of what was left.
posted by Elim at 5:37 PM on January 13, 2004


"War Crimes"
Funniest term ever
posted by Fupped Duck at 5:59 PM on January 13, 2004


That's misleading, Dasein; 1948 was 4 years after the holocaust; that kind of thing can make poeple crazy. (But I do think there's enough craziness left to prevent jengod's mom's solution from working. 150,000 turned out in Jerusalem a couple weeks ago to protest Sharon's plan to abandon a some settlements. The fanatics are a small minority, but a politically powerful one.)
posted by Tlogmer at 6:02 PM on January 13, 2004


I'm fascinated by the article. I worry and wonder if he might be right on in the assumptions he makes about Islam and Arab culture.

But....

There's things like the Arab-Israeli that partly foiled a bombing. And I've read the book Blood Brothers referenced in that thread, which is about a Palestinian who was a child at the time of Israel's creation as a state. His reaction has been to work as a Gandhi/MLK style protestor reformer, rather than an Arafat. His opinion is that Jews and Arabs could have lived together in harmony. Perhaps he's naive, and perhaps he's a minority (he's a Melkite Catholic/Christian). But I think to say that violence was inevitable and had to be prempted with ethnic cleansing is terribly fatalistic.

I also recently read some parts of Amitai Etzioni's book My Brother's Keeper. The guy was born in Germany, and while still a teenager dropped out of high school, ran away, escaped the Nazi regime and all... to fight as a commando in the Israeli War of Independence. He's got some amazing stories of being at a meeting where Ben Gurion essentially forced the issue of pushing for a state by the force of his personality, and of fighting in that war. He also thinks that things could have been done differently and better.

Now, perhaps he's a softhearted and naive as well -- he is a communitarian, after all. While I'm not willing to exercise the judgement Morris makes about all Arab or Islamic people, I don't doubt there are some elements of that society who behave as he describes and will behave as he predicts. But I tend to believe that most people simply want to choose to live their lives without having to worry about dying or killing, and given a good chance for that, they would. But that they also tend to live up to the circumstances pressed upon them, and there is something curiously self-fulfilling about statements to the effect of "force is the only way."

There are people like Chacour and Mahamid among the Arabs. There are people like the interviewer and Etzioni among the Israelis. There is a better way in there somewhere.
posted by weston at 6:13 PM on January 13, 2004


United States (except Alaska)
1492: 5,000,000 to 15,000,000
1900: 250,000

I'd call that genoside..


Yeah, I can just envision Columbus, tokin' with bud (his buds):

"Dudes, we're so gonna spread the bad shit. Watch those prairie niggers drop to the pop. Heh heh. Schweet."

There's a particular difference of vision that we're trying to discuss here. When Europeans first came to the shores of America, they didn't have any clue what the germs they were bringing with them would do to the Natives. That doesn't mean that what they brought, and later chose to do, wasn't bad. But calling on numbers to make the case implies that numbers are the total of the crime. Is that what you wish to argue?

Just for the record, I don't.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:18 PM on January 13, 2004


First of all, why do we keep dropping the 'n-bomb'? WTF y'all?

Second, there was recorded, deliberate warfare using smallpox-infected blankets by the French, English, and Americans in the great lakes region.

And furhtermore, Columbus and his "buds" came to the Americas with teh expressed reason to swindle valuable spices and gold out the the Indians. They just happened to strike it a little richer than they expected.

Seriously, Wulfgar, poor form.
posted by jmgorman at 6:39 PM on January 13, 2004


Trivia bit: though Palestinians had lived there for a long time, they didn't actually *own* the land--they rented it for generations from relatively wealthy owners in Lebanon and Damascus, to eke out a meager living.
The Jews bought the land out from under them--paying the owners far more than what it was "worth", even for sale, not rent. They wanted the land, not tenant farmers.

So here is the quandary: could American black sharecroppers who lived on land owned by whites, post-Reconstruction, claim a "Right of Return" to that land?
posted by kablam at 6:49 PM on January 13, 2004


1948 was 4 years after the holocaust; that kind of thing can make poeple crazy

The Holocaust might be a reason for creating the state of Israel, but it would also have been a good reason for understanding what it's like to be massacred, and for not doing it to other people (admittedly the scales aren't comparable). My real problem is that he's arguing that Jews killing Palestinians was and is justified in order to acquire the land, and I think that at the root of that is not just horrific historical experience, but religious exceptionalism. Again, you might well think that you have been granted divine license if you consider yourself chosen by God and the land you're fighting for land granted to you by God (or G-d).
posted by Dasein at 7:02 PM on January 13, 2004


kabalm what you describe is true in many cases, but untrue in many, many others. Lots of Palestinians owned their land, and had (and still have) the Ottoman or British Mandate documents to prove it.

Morris is a Zionist. Unlike most of your USA Zionists, he is honest about what happened and who needed to be killed or driven off their land in order to realize the dream of a Jewish-only state. You should remember that many people in America subscribe to the same belief, and have a religious and ethnic relationship with Israel that is totally disconnected from what most Americans believe-- that Israel has a right to exist and to defend itself. Instead, these fanatics belive that Israel has a right to exist in whatever form it wants and using whatever means it chooses to protect or expand its power. These beliefs have been at the center of US middle eastern foreign policy since 1968-- in other words AFTER Israel solidified its position in the region and didn't have to worry about existential issues. It is part of the reason we have so many problems in that part of the world.
posted by chaz at 7:27 PM on January 13, 2004


Hmm I didnt write that too well, let me say that I was a Zionist for a long time because as I understood it, the core was that Jews would have equal protection under the law and be able to live in a Jewish homeland. I am still in favor of that, but after a lot of researching in college I basically concluded that the movement was morally bankrupt from the start and has been going down hill ever since. I am writing this addendum because I wanted to say that I think most Zionists are good people who just want to live in peace.
posted by chaz at 7:38 PM on January 13, 2004


Bad things happened in the 1948 war from both sides. Some details of these bad things have dribbled out over the years as both sides released or uncovered documents. Are we back to re-arguing the I/P question from first principles?
posted by billsaysthis at 7:50 PM on January 13, 2004


chaz, clearly Israelies agree with their government as much as Americans agree with theirs (and Palestinians and Britains ad infinitum). I think that if a coherent plan for peace and sanity were introduced, if people understood it, most would agree with it (on both sides of the wall). Of course, what the hell do I know, I'm safe and sound in the Mid-west.

Billy: I don't know if we are there yet, but why not? Even if it proves academic for the I/P situation, it may prove useful for debates on Kurds in Iraq, Cubs fans living inthe South-side, etc.
posted by jmgorman at 7:54 PM on January 13, 2004


Wulfgar is right - the bulk of the killing of the native populations of the New World, which occurred as the Spanish burst upon the scene, was done by smallpox and other pathogens unwittingly brought by the Europeans. This does not exculpate them. Indeed, "Haiti under the Spanish is one of the primary instances of genocide in all human history". But the terrible die-off from smallpox made the consequent ethnic cleansing far easier. Later, when the Europeans noticed the connection between blankets and Smallpox, they exploited this fact. As a matter of historical fact, this ugly chapter is unquestionable and - on our modern terms - is properly termed a war crime.


This is an intense thread, I'm not Jewish. My wife is. I have deep sympathies.

Having established a rep on this forum as some sort of leftist, let me muddy that by saying : I understand Morris' position, which I see as rooted in a classic ethical dilemma that goes back farther than Arjuna's position at the opening of the Bhagavad Gita. On the one hand lies universal principles - respect for human rights and human dignity - and, on the other hand, allegiance to one's family and tribe (and, for most, "tribe" does not extend far). For all humans caught in this decision, this is a terrible dilemma.

I skew on the side of supporting universal human rights, but my sympathies with Morris' side of the equation are strong - and I would guess that Morris' position derives from what might be even a too deep immersion in the decisions made by those in power at Israel's inception : wishing that that all of humanity should respect human rights would have been, in my judgement, a fantasy at that moment (and even now).

The cry of many of the jews involved in Israel's creation would have been, simply, we are the sacrificial lamb no longer. This - in the end - is no longer about ethics. It is a survivalist impulse.
______________________________________________

But, at this point in time, there now deep suffering on both sides of the equation and I do not see how this wound can be healed but for an appeal to universal human rights.

If not, well.....Israel is small, and the weapons coming to the fore - if not now, then a few decades hence - will render the current conflict moot.

I do not presume to judge the acts of others - in the strong sense (especially acts decades in the past) - but I would say that the time for reconciliation is now, or it is never.
posted by troutfishing at 8:52 PM on January 13, 2004


Seriously, Wulfgar, poor form.

We're dealing with a thread that attempts to justify killing in the name of superior moral outcome (as if such a thing could be). And you're worried about my "form"?

*Tee Hee, heh heh*

I live in Montana. I hear the term "prairie nigger" more than you can possibly conceive. Please, my form should be the last of your worries.

And furhtermore, Columbus and his "buds" came to the Americas with teh expressed reason to swindle valuable spices and gold out the the Indians.


Ehh, not so much. They came to America trying to find a water trade route with the eastern cultures. They didn't come with the express purpose of annihilating a "lesser" culture to carve out a holy homeland as per the biblical books/psuedo-history of Judges. You do see the difference, don't you?
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:18 PM on January 13, 2004


Wulfgar - true, although they were rather gold-crazed (see my last posted link)
posted by troutfishing at 9:25 PM on January 13, 2004


My friend, troutfishing, I agree. My entire point of arguing what happened in the "New World" is that it is specious and logically corrupt to attempt, in any way, to draw parallels between America's settlement by Europeans and what happened on the Mediterranean coast of Israel in the mid to late 40s.
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:51 PM on January 13, 2004


American atrocities in wartime that I saw would be far less than pleasing if you knew about them.

in the immortal words of alfred e. neumann: "What? My Lai?"
posted by quonsar at 10:30 PM on January 13, 2004


That was the situation. That is what Zionism faced. A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them

...or, there should not have been a Jewish state. He seems to drop the other half of the argument a lot of the time.

Any state that requires this sort of sociopathic "intervention" for stability's sake has a faulty foundation.

And on preview, troutfishing:
This - in the end - is no longer about ethics. It is a survivalist impulse."

This I must call bullshit on. Why does the Zionist movement feel some entitlement to a piece of land they hadn't occupied in generations? I see no idiological, moral, or practical explanation for the state of Israel. The argument I've always heard was: Well, after the Holocaust, the Jews realized they had to get their own country. For hundreds of years in Europe, and thousands overall they'd been outcasts and suffered terribly for it.

Yet if the second world war proved anything, it was that the European goys -- and the world in general -- were the saving grace for the Jewish religion. If anything, the mid and late 20th century has seen more instances Jewish people self-segregating themselves. I've seen this from my own personal experiences with Jewish friends and aquiantances. There is a lot of pride in a people that are still around despite thousands of years of attempted "cleansing", but in Zionism this has been translated to the world as arrogance. Many, many millions of Jews live today not within the confines of Israel, but intermixed with the global community. And in most cases, they get along just fine with their Muslim brothers. But Israeli Jews will always make the distinction between "Jew" and "American Jew" which to them means more simply "American". Unfortunately for us (us meaning the U.S.) radical Muslim groups are not so forgiving in their distinctions.

Morris seems to think Israel would have been better off if it had been more thorough in its elimination of antagonistic native groups. I tend to think the opposite -- that is, the region would have been better off if Israel had never been formed in the first place. Certainly the image of Judaism has been perhaps permanently tarnished in the eyes of Muslims. Not that Jews have ever felt the need to look to the outside world for acceptance.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:53 PM on January 13, 2004


"to carve out a holy homeland as per the biblical books/psuedo-history of Judges"

I think you're grossly overlooking the non-religious aspects of modern Zionism--the desire to live somewhere with members of your nearly-exterminated community without being killed, as opposed to some deep religious longing to hang out among the ruins of the Second Temple. Many, many Holocaust survivors and early Israelis became atheists (and understandably so, after what they'd been through), not religious zealots. And the unofficial motto of Israel is "Never Again", in reference to self-determination and self-protection, not to any Bible verse. Troutfishing has it right--Israel's creation was, at base, a "survivalist impulse". Not being particularly religious, it's also the gut instinct from which I support them as a country, not any religious text pe se. (President Bush and various fundamentalist Christian groups would be the ones doing that, alas.)
posted by Asparagirl at 12:28 AM on January 14, 2004


Israel's creation was, at base, a "survivalist impulse". Not being particularly religious, it's also the gut instinct from which I support them as a country, not any religious text pe se.

The ironic thing is that it's far from clear this was the right thing to do to achieve their goal. Modern western countries have had their troubles, but by and large the inhabitants -- even the Jewish inhabitants -- are free to carve out the kinds of lives they please, but Israel has had precious little peace.
posted by namespan at 12:42 AM on January 14, 2004


Yeah. But the "modern Western countries", including the US, wouldn't let in the post-WWII DP's in anything but small numbers. And many of the ones who returned to their old home cities after surviving the death camps were surrounded by the people who had collaborated in their families' deaths. Some even got killed in post-war pogroms. So where else were they going to go?
posted by Asparagirl at 12:53 AM on January 14, 2004


Wulfgar, Being one of those "prairieniggers" I am Highly Fucking offended, and somewhat disappointed you think its okay to say, Cause some other Smackass said it first,
Shame and have you no decency?

On topic, Does one forget that the Palestinians are Semitic, and 1600 years ago were Jews and Xtians? and lived there since the romans At least?? Guess we forgot that. (some one call some one -nigger again to get my blood up!

Okay Israel was handed to the European Jews by the UN (read the US) as a safe haven, the Fact it was and has been always occupied seems not to make a Freaking bit of difference, Israel 'moved them with terrorism and the Locals replied in kind. and wallah! we have the mess to the east... and now cause the non jews of Palestine are 'savages who need to be made to act civilized, we will justify ANY act to do just that, failing that we will move them out, (Hey I remember where that Last happened!)
Again SMACKASSes!
posted by Elim at 12:59 AM on January 14, 2004


If anything, the mid and late 20th century has seen more instances Jewish people self-segregating themselves.

50% of American Jews marry outside of the religion. Half. That's been true since, I think, the late 1980's. The vast majority of those people's kids and (especially) grandkids are or will be Christian. That's hardly self-segregation, and more like seriously lovin' your neighbor.

But suppose you're right. What's wrong with sticking in close-knit communities, especially if (outside the US/Canada/Britain/Israel/Bulgaria/Denmark) your country and countrymen have in the near past actively or collaboratively tried or succeeded in killing off your family, community, and religious practice? In short: so?

But Israeli Jews will always make the distinction between "Jew" and "American Jew" which to them means more simply "American". Unfortunately for us (us meaning the U.S.) radical Muslim groups are not so forgiving in their distinctions.

Er, I do hope I'm just overtired and am thus misreading your point...but did you just imply that radical Muslim groups will attack America because America has Jews and unlike Israelis, radical Muslims don't distinguish between American Jews and "real" Jews? If so, I'm not sure whether to be more offended as an American that my nationality means I'm somehow not really Jewish, or as a Jew that my existence in America is somehow the main reason radical Muslim groups hate us. I was kinda hoping it was cause they were pissed I was eating all those babies or something.
posted by Asparagirl at 1:02 AM on January 14, 2004


Are we talking Jewish as a people (ethnic/cultural group defined genetically) Or a religious group? Cause it gets really muddied there.

I think Radical Muslim Extremist Are pissed at the US cause the US (in their eyes) unfailingly support Israel, no matter what israel does, and lately with the wall and ignoring a UN mandate on borders, they may have a point.

I mean assassination by AIr to Surface Missile in a crowded street can't be viewed by any civilized peoples as a sane or decent act.

assassination itself is evil, Accepting Civilian collateral Damage just defies compassion and the law of war..
posted by Elim at 1:15 AM on January 14, 2004


Er, I do hope I'm just overtired and am thus misreading your point...

Uh, yeah. What I was trying to say was that American, Jewish friends of mine are often-times deemed "American first, Jewish second" by their Israeli counterparts because they aren't living the "day-to-day struggle for our peeps in the hood of Jerusalem." Which I find absurd. The sad part is that it's not the "Jews" that are against the Palestinians, it's the government of Israel. It would be nice if the various terrorist organizations around the world would recognize that distinction as well.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:36 AM on January 14, 2004


Government Of the People By the People and for the people, Governments Are the people, and the People are responsible for their government.. a distinction some find convenient to forget..
We all learned that in WWII , The Israeli's Could correct their government on some of the less wholesome activities its engaged in, in fact some pilots and old veterans are doing just that lately, (and getting Death threats for their trouble)
posted by Elim at 2:18 AM on January 14, 2004


But saying that, I look at America now and see the same trend.
posted by Elim at 2:19 AM on January 14, 2004


metafilter:a classic ethical dilemma that goes back farther than Arjuna's position at the opening of the Bhagavad Gita.
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:33 AM on January 14, 2004


Question... If I were to discover that the the Jewish population in pre-war Germany voted considerably more to the left than most Germans, and that Jewish financiers were disproportionately bankrolling communism, would it be okay for us to start talking about the German need and greater good served by the Holocaust? After all, Hitler may have saved us from godless communism, and his acts led to a Pax Americana.

Just wondering...
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:02 AM on January 14, 2004


They came to America trying to find a water trade route with the eastern cultures.

That's right, it was knowledge of the world that drove them. Completely uninterested scientific curiosity, I tell you.

---

As for the also very uninterested and highly scientific Spanish black legend: let's please compare the current numbers of indigenous people in South and North America (which if I remember correctly, did outnumber by quite a bit their Southern cousins at the time of colonization) . I rest my case.

/Oh, and I love the I massacre because I was massacred theory. What's there not to like?
posted by magullo at 4:53 AM on January 14, 2004


Elim, Being one of those "prairieniggers" (in part) I am Highly Fucking offended, and somewhat disappointed you think its okay to say, Cause some other Smackass said it first,
Shame and have you no decency?

magullo, I'm curious, what does finding a cheap trade route have to do with uninterested scientific curiousity?

I love the I massacre because I was massacred theory. What's there not to like?

Best comment so far in this new year.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:01 AM on January 14, 2004


Brief note: for 2 sheets: ilf you will look at the list you cite (called Peanuts) you will note that ther is a notation saying much of what is given is questionable...Massacres? 13 people during a war? etc ewtc
Quonsar: no not Mai Lai but an earlier war...I am old!
Now, to bring it up to date--today in fadt, try this
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2004/01/13/international1436EST0607.DTL I am not badmouthing our president in this citation but rather what the good ole boys from Aemrica are capable of doing, as is anyone under durress...war is not easy. Nor nice.
In general:Morris--if you had read his early book--notes that many of the refugees were pushed out during the first war. The Israel legend suggested that they had fled or sold their homes....But do note that there was a total of some 700,000, just about the same number as were kicked the hell out of the arab countries at the same time.
posted by Postroad at 6:57 AM on January 14, 2004


Postroad - That last point of yours is one of moral equivalence, but most of Israel's defenders I have ever heard claim the moral high ground - that Israel is the only democracy in the region and it has, by far, the best human rights record.

Civil_Disobedient - I think you misunderstand me. I should have amplified on that. I was not trying to justify Zionism, or human rights violations incurred during Israel's creation. Rather, I was describing the psychological and emotional impulses which fed the resolve of the Zionists to engage in acts of terrorism and ethnic cleansing in order to create a jewish state. As Asparagirl notes, it is not for nothing that the unofficial slogan of Israel is "Never Again!".

I could could extend my point also - the evil of the Holocaust transmuted and refracted into the feeling, on the part of Israel's founders, that acts - which would be otherwise deemed abhorrent - and, even worse, the intentional dehumanization of an entire people - could be justified in the service of the cause of Israel. Even as is true of acts of love, acts of violence and hatred - in a mirror image dynamic - tend to give rise to more of the same down the years. Violence and hate beget more violence and hate. Love, reason, and generosity beget more more love, reason, and generosity.

______________________________________________

"Israel's creation was, at base, a "survivalist impulse". Not being particularly religious, it's also the gut instinct from which I support them as a country, not any religious text per se." (Asparagirl)

"The ironic thing is that it's far from clear this was the right thing to do to achieve their goal......" ( insomnia_lj ) - I was trying to make a point along these lines, in my last long comment. In fact, some on the Israeli right have acknowledged this also : that Israel must come to some agreement with the Palestinians for the simple, terrible truth that the extreme hatreds generated out of the current status quo raise the likelihood that, as technology puts greater and greater destructive powers in the hands of individuals and small groups, acts of terrorism could in the future threaten the existence of Israel itself.

There are two responses to this dilemma - 1) continue the ethnic cleansing and drive the Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, as Morris suggests would have been an effective strategy during Israel's creation, or 2) STOP the madness and make amends with Palestinians. Notice that response #1 does not actually eliminate threats to Israel's existence and - in fact - would likely increase the danger of Israel's destruction. So - door #1 or door #2 ? The door of peace and reconciliation is guarded by terrorists - on the side of both the palestinians and also terrorists from the Israeli far right - who do not want reconciliation. But door #2 is the only door which leads to a future which resembles something other than a nightmare.
posted by troutfishing at 8:05 AM on January 14, 2004


great post, troutfishing.
posted by Marquis at 8:21 AM on January 14, 2004


This is an amazingly civilized thread, considering the subject. Well done, MeFi. I will therefore risk dropping in a further response to this difficult issue:

1948 was 4 years after the holocaust

And during the holocaust itself, and the run-up to it (when it was abundantly clear what the Jews in German-dominated Europe were facing), the Zionist leadership in Palestine had no interest in serving as a refuge. They wanted only able-bodied young immigrants, and turned back those who did not fit their criteria. From a Marxist page (I know, but the quote and facts are accurate in this instance):
Ben Gurion... informed a meeting of Labor Zionists in Great Britain in 1938: "If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Israel, then I opt for the second alternative."

This obsession with colonizing Palestine and overwhelming the Arabs led the Zionist movement to oppose any idea of rescuing the Jews who were facing extermination, because this would have impeded the ability to select and divert manpower to Palestine. From 1933 to 1935, the World Zionist Organization (WZO) turned down two thirds of all the German Jews who applied for immigration certificates.

The WZO did not only fail to seek any alternative for the Jews facing the Holocaust, but it also opposed all efforts aimed at finding refuge for the fleeing Jews.
Anyone interested in the subject should read Tom Segev's excellent One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate. No propaganda, just a clear-headed look at what happened, with lots of quotes from diaries and memoirs of the period.
posted by languagehat at 8:47 AM on January 14, 2004


languagehat - You curmudgeon, you. I was thinking, vaguely, about adding something along those lines to this thread, but I didn't have the material so well at hand, and remembered the details only sketchily.

A terribly important point - one which bears repeating over and over again. The Holocaust may have figured prominently in the minds of the rank and file during the founding of Israel, but Zionism's leaders.........

It's a shame you didn't read this thread earlier - I wish your point had been made central to this discussion. At it's upper levels, based on your material, Zionism at that period could be viewed as an actively amoral force which cared little for human life, be it Jewish, Palestinian, or from any group.

"Holocaust be damned - above all, Zion!" - This is ugly.

Marquis - thanks, I try. Languagehat gets my kudos (kudos - that's a toffee bar, right?) for bringing a badly needed historical perspective to bear.
posted by troutfishing at 9:59 AM on January 14, 2004


"you will note that ther is a notation saying much of what is given is questionable"

Of course I took note of it; That's one of the reasons I chose that particular list. How many documents dealing with the middle east do you find with a disclaimer like that?

And it didn't say it was "questionable", it said:
"The neutrality of this article is disputed. "

That's a statement that should appear at the top af any article on the I/P conflict.
posted by 2sheets at 10:35 AM on January 14, 2004


Face it: if the Jews hadn't adopted Israel, it would not be the attractive, relatively affluent place it is today; it would resemble the rest of the middle east: a poor, illiterate, toilet which people would be eager or desperate to leave (or too ill informed to know they should want to leave).

Has Yaser died yet? I hope so. Can't someone just poison his water, please?!
posted by ParisParamus at 10:42 AM on January 14, 2004


Good God are we screwed.
posted by subgenius at 10:57 AM on January 14, 2004


"a poor, illiterate, toilet "
Paris tires of painting with a broad brush and just picks up the whole bucket of ignorance and empties it.
posted by 2sheets at 11:07 AM on January 14, 2004


Literacy Rates in the Middle East:
1. Cyprus 97%
2. Israel 95%
3. Bahrain 88.5%
4. Jordan 86.6%
5. Lebanon 86.4%
6. Turkey 85%

GDP (PPP)
1. Turkey $455.3 billion
2. Iran $374.6 billion
3. Saudi Arabia $235.6 billion
4. Israel $125.5 billion
5. Syria $57.6 billion
6. United Arab Emirates $48.9 billion
7. Kuwait $31.4 billion
8. Jordan $19.4 billion
9. Lebanon $18.6 billion
10. Cyprus $15.8 billion

HDI
1. Israel 0.896
2. Cyprus 0.883
3. Bahrain 0.831
4. Kuwait 0.813
5. United Arab Emirates 0.812
6. Qatar 0.803
7. Saudi Arabia 0.759
8. Lebanon 0.755
9. Oman 0.751
10. Turkey 0.742

Via nationmaster.com, one of the best websites, ever.
posted by cell divide at 11:07 AM on January 14, 2004


Cell, as usual, you are full of shit. Also, where are the deathstyle statistics that have some meaning? Saudi Arabia is a toilet. Egypt is a toilet. Syria is a toilet. Iraq is a toilet on the mend. Lebanon is slightly less of a toilet. Amazing how Islam seems to go hand-in-hand with poverty, enthusiasm for killing people, and autocracy. Cause and effect? Effect and cause? Who knows, but it's certainly no coicidence.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:17 AM on January 14, 2004


So how do you view Central and South America?
"Amazing how Islam Catholicism seems to go hand-in-hand with poverty, enthusiasm for killing people, and autocracy."
posted by 2sheets at 11:42 AM on January 14, 2004


Paris, as usual, your abrasive and intolerant approach does more damage than credit to the viewpoint you are trying to promote.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:51 AM on January 14, 2004


You are all having a good and balanced discussion which I'm enjoying and learning from, i.e. ignore paris, please.
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:58 AM on January 14, 2004


Face it: if the Jews hadn't adopted Israel, it would not be the attractive, relatively affluent place it is today.

Face it, in ten years time Israel is going to resemble Beirut. There's going to be a huge brain-drain of all those intelligent, relatively affluent citizens if things don't change. Beirut used to be called the Paris of the Middle East the shit hit the fan.

Paris tires of painting with a broad brush and just picks up the whole bucket of ignorance and empties it.

Priceless.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:14 PM on January 14, 2004


"If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Israel, then I opt for the second alternative."

You learn something new, and historically significant that makes you re-think your position, every day. Well, not every day, but thanks to languagehat, definately today.

Wow.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:14 PM on January 14, 2004




"You are all having a good and balanced discussion which I'm enjoying and learning from, i.e. ignore paris, please."

Yeah, sure you are. Metafilter is like a see-saw with everyone on the left side; and the other side all the way up in the air; and still you think things are balanced.

Any discussion in which the Israelis, the Jews the VICTIMS are at fault is not balanced...and so the poetically biased bullshit roles on...
posted by ParisParamus at 3:55 PM on January 14, 2004


politically, not poetically.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:55 PM on January 14, 2004


I had a friend once who said, "Everybody deals with the Israeli-Palestian thing in terms of victimization. And the problem is not going to be solved until everybody stops being victimized and starts taking responsibility for being assholes."

So here and now stand up now and say, "I'm an asshole for not identifying with the Palestianians and overidentifying with my wonderful Jewish friends and for not wanting to know every detail of the misery and so ignoring it and for not more loudly condemning the fundamental racism of 'Israel for the Jews.' "
posted by jengod at 4:09 PM on January 14, 2004


I repeat elwoodwiles' plea to ignore paris. He's doing his best to derail and poison this discussion and send it where so many others have gone. Don't let him do it. Thinking up clever new ways to put him down accomplishes nothing and isn't worth the effort.
posted by languagehat at 4:58 PM on January 14, 2004


Paris - There's a lot of hatred there, in your language. If you love Israel, I'd suggest you reconsider this hatred.

Let me reiterate - "I do not see how this wound can be healed but for an appeal to universal human rights. If not, well.....Israel is small, and the weapons coming to the fore - if not now, then a few decades hence - will render the current conflict moot. The extreme hatreds generated out of the current status quo raise the likelihood that, as technology puts greater and greater destructive powers in the hands of individuals and small groups, acts of terrorism could in the future threaten the existence of Israel itself."

As I said, some leaders of the IDF have acknowledged this reality. A complete totalitarian rule under a US aegis might keep the lid on this problem......for a little while.

But in the long run, you can choose to feed the hatred....or not.
posted by troutfishing at 6:44 PM on January 14, 2004


Face it: if the Jews hadn't adopted Israel, it would not be the attractive, relatively affluent place it is today; it would resemble the rest of the middle east: a poor, illiterate, toilet which people would be eager or desperate to leave (or too ill informed to know they should want to leave).

I'm aware of at least one autobiography of someone who lived there who would disagree with you. Read the first couple of chapters. Did you live there in the 1940's too?
posted by weston at 7:18 PM on January 14, 2004


Anyway, it hardly makes sense to trumpet jewish immigrants making Israel nice if it's only made nice for jewish immigrants (and their descendents), especially considering how generous the U.S. has been with economic aid.
posted by Tlogmer at 8:54 PM on January 14, 2004


It's not racist or anti-anything to note that objectively, Israel, and it's immediate neighborhood are night and day different. Why don't you deal with that? Why don't you deal with the reality that Islam fosters a passivity and intolerance for thinking and for pluralism? Primitive is primitive, whether or not you dress it in the clothes of a "faith."

Derail a metafilter thread from it's leftist self? HORRORS!
posted by ParisParamus at 9:12 PM on January 14, 2004


Wasn't Beirut the Paris of the Eastern mediteranian at one time? before Israel was a jem?

And is ParisParamus actually a liberal plant placed to make the right look really really bad?
Hmmm...
posted by Elim at 9:14 PM on January 14, 2004


Actually, Paris was the Paramus, NJ of France until the 1780's....
posted by ParisParamus at 9:30 PM on January 14, 2004


Why don't you deal with the reality that Islam fosters a passivity and intolerance for thinking and for pluralism?

Some of us probably are, actually. Metafilter's history shows it to be a place pretty germain to the idea that religion can foster backwards thinking.

But frankly, I don't see what the development problems of the middle east really have to do with an honest discussion of the problems with Israel's past and current approach to establishing its existence. Yes, Palestinians and Arabs in general who see all their problems as the result of Western oppression are wrong. But you seem to want to pretend that Israel has done nothing wrong -- or even worse, that a higher quality of life in Israel would somehow justify that?

Do I have the right to come to your home, kill you and your family, or force you to flee at gunpoint from all that you have, because I am somehow threatened by another person? It's one thing to say that I might do it, right or wrong, if my survival depended on it. It's another thing to say that I have every right to. But it is far worse to say I'd be justified because it would improve the quality of life in your home.

Not only that, your response to cell divide is really problematic. He showed you stats, and you essentially said: "I don't care what you say, these countries are toilets, find some stats that are more for my point instead of contradictory." Sheesh.
posted by namespan at 9:52 PM on January 14, 2004


Cell Divide's "statistics" are bullshit. He takes the least terrorist, least extreme parts of the Arab world to suggest it is not largely illiterate: how about literacy the the terrorist countries of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Yemen? And how about in Africa? He similarly skews things with "stats" about wealth. I'll go look for real stats when I have a chance, but crap sometimes doesn't need figures to be obvious.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:25 PM on January 14, 2004


Paris - Hmmm - crap doesn't need evidence....well I agree in some cases, but I suspect you've been running errands for the RNC for quite a while now, and have made countless trips to Gandhi's Gas Station, to rent out Gandhi's battered old copy of "Triumph of the Will" (he's watched it a few times, himself) so that George W. Bush - always the clown - can slick his hair back and put on that funny little moustache and uniform and march around doing that stiff-armed salute that gets Karl giggling like crazy. It works every time.

You've been watching that video on the sly so much - with it's oily teutonic muscle glinting in the light of Riefenstahl's brilliantly positioned cameras - after GW and Karl have left the room that it's gone to your head and you've become confused.

Endless repetition of unsupported assertions does not actually make them true. It just convinces people that they are true. There is a difference. If endless repetition made things true, there would be a constant parade of palamino riding, cigarette puffing Marlboro men - with two-foot penises to rival those of their horses - riding down my street in a long, flinty eyed procession, even on the coldest winter days.

But that's not true. The would-be Marlboro Men are stuck in their houses, huffing on oxygen machines, penises shriveled to little peas from lack of circulation, their horses in reality revealed to be - as the encroaching emphysema wipes the delusional mist from these sorry men's eyes - SUV's slowly rusting away in their driveways.

_____________________________________________

"Cell, as usual, you are full of shit. Also, where are the deathstyle statistics that have some meaning? Saudi Arabia is a toilet. Egypt is a toilet. Syria is a toilet. Iraq is a toilet on the mend. Lebanon is slightly less of a toilet." Crap, crap everywhere.

And, do you know why that is? I'll tell you.

America has the finest Latrine of Democracy in the World and Britain's isn't half bad either, but both countries are really jealous of other people's restroom facilities. So, just when the former colonial occupying powers were starting to pull out of the Mideast, and the nations there were exultantly beginning the project of building modern restroom facilities, the Yanks and the Brits swept into the region and blew up all the half-built latrines with dynamite and howitzers. Then, they installed bloodthirsty dictators who - while they built for their own private use the finest latrines anywhere - issued public edicts, enforced by threats of death by most hideous torture, banning the construction of the toilets of democracy.

Eventually, most of the people either forgot or despaired of the hope that democratic latrines might ever be possible. They held on to more basic sanitary standards, though, and did not willingly permit the dogs of American mass culture (filthy creatures) into their homes.

Time has passed, and this is now the norm. Here and there a few fools are occasionally dissolved in acid for even writing about latrines. This keeps the people in line, for the moment.

Meanwhile, Israeli sanitary facilities have always been sub-par (at least reckoned by the toiletstick of the American Standard toilet) but Israelis, in a truly pragmatic spirit and with all the chutzpah possible in G_d's chosen people, employ great catapults to fling their feces in great arcs skyward, to come crashing down in stinking fusillades upon the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

It is rumored, on Debka and elsewhere, that Sharon has in fact commissioned the construction of a mega-trebuchet which will be able to fling shit all the way to Washington D.C.

Not that D.C., or American politics, needs any Israeli shit. Americans have plenty of their own to dispose of.
posted by troutfishing at 8:45 AM on January 15, 2004


Congratulations, everyone. You've allowed paris to turn this into yet another "paris snipes and everyone responds" thread. We're not talking about 1948, we're not talking about the complicated history of Mandate Palestine, we're not talking about Morris's tortured moral position, we're talking about whether Arab countries are "toilets." Please, paste "don't feed the troll" to your foreheads and check the mirror as needed. And, paris, you're not a troll because you support Israel, you're a troll because you contribute nothing to a thread but vitriolic denunciations of Islam and Arabs and have no interest in actual discussion.

your response to cell divide is really problematic. He showed you stats, and you essentially said: "I don't care what you say

Uh, yeah. How many times do you need to rinse and repeat before you realize it's not worth it?
posted by languagehat at 9:01 AM on January 15, 2004


languagehat - that last comment of mine was so far off the mark that it parted my hair right down the middle going backwards......I was having a little fun with creative writing, with Paris as a foil (I assumed that the discussion was winding down) - he's useful for that. I suppose you think I should save that sort of energy for my non-existent blog.....sigh. I like my absurd and surrealistic rants.

Your last historical point on this thread would make a great post of it's own, I'd say:

"during the holocaust itself, and the run-up to it (when it was abundantly clear what the Jews in German-dominated Europe were facing), the Zionist leadership in Palestine had no interest in serving as a refuge. They wanted only able-bodied young immigrants, and turned back those who did not fit their criteria.....'This obsession with colonizing Palestine and overwhelming the Arabs led the Zionist movement to oppose any idea of rescuing the Jews who were facing extermination, because this would have impeded the ability to select and divert manpower to Palestine.' "

I think it's a worthy subject for a thread discussion of it's own.
posted by troutfishing at 1:16 PM on January 15, 2004


My wife is Jewish, and the subject was news to her. She was appalled.
posted by troutfishing at 1:18 PM on January 15, 2004


tf: No problem; I always enjoy your short stories, and my complaint wasn't directed at that but at the general diverting of the thread that pp successfully pulled off, which is one reason the thread was winding down -- who wants to go through another round of "Arabs are dirty filthy nasty barbarians!" "No they're not!"? I was really enjoying the previous discussion and was enraged that pp had managed to choke it to death. And I personally wouldn't dare make the kind of post you suggest because the same thing would happen, but it would be my thread and I'd want to see his ass in MetaTalk. Grr.

Anyway... yes, it is appalling, and it should be more widely known. There's far too much self-righteousness about Israel's history.
posted by languagehat at 5:17 PM on January 15, 2004


languagehat - I agree, but isn't that the definition of fascism at work - the squelching of discourse?

Anyway, I've been saving up my Metatalk chits.
posted by troutfishing at 8:31 PM on January 15, 2004


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