Truth as Propaganda
January 31, 2004 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Severed hands and feet, yarmulkes blown off of heads, sides of human torso dripping blood like beef in a butcher shop -- and a cell phone. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has never allowed footage like this to be seen before, but now they have decided to publicize it on their website to push for the construction of the new security fence, the existence of which is an outrage to many Palestianians. Truth as propaganda. [Caution: WMP, and the most graphically violent images I've seen since the infamous photo of Vietnamese kids running from napalm, and the execution of Daniel Pearl.]
posted by digaman (87 comments total)
 
Let me make this very clear at the start: I am a Jew, but I am highly critical of the Israeli government for its vicious treatment of the Palestinian people. I posted this not to make the I-hope-by-now obvious point that suicide bombing is a really bad thing. I am also a journalist, and I posted this link because I am fascinated by the Foreign Ministry's use of handheld video and the Internet to sway public opinion and justify its policies.
posted by digaman at 11:25 AM on January 31, 2004


I posted this not to make the I-hope-by-now obvious point that suicide bombing is a really bad thing.

Won't stop people from tripping over themselves to be apologists for it.
posted by jonmc at 11:33 AM on January 31, 2004


Okay, I'll bite. I don't see how suicide bombing is any worse than dropping bombs or firing missiles at people. Of course, I think any attack which targets civilians is despicable, but I don't think it's any worse if the attacker takes his own life in the process.
posted by electro at 11:47 AM on January 31, 2004


electro: it is perhaps much more insidious because suicide bombers can sneak onto crowded buses and into restaurants. A helicopter coming over the hill at least gives you chance to hide. A small point, sure, but can you be sure that the semetic guy with the beard next to you isn't just waiting for the opportunity to explode?
posted by shagoth at 11:52 AM on January 31, 2004


Yeah, that is a good question. Maybe fox has it right (or is undoing their own propaganda) in calling them "Homocide Bombers", whats so bad about taking yourself out in the process. In fact, it seems almost more polite.

That said... I don't see what the big deal is in showing graphic images. Was anyone under the impression that the result of a suicide bomb wasn't grusome? Does anyone here think that the result of a missle attack on someone's apartment is any less discusting?
posted by delmoi at 11:56 AM on January 31, 2004


I am a Jew, but I am highly critical of the Israeli government for its vicious treatment of the Palestinian people.

I am not a Jew, but if I were "in charge" of the Israeli government, I'm not sure I'd be doing many things differently than it currently does.
posted by trharlan at 12:20 PM on January 31, 2004


It is ok to be a Jew and to be against "bad treatment of Palestinians." It is uk to be a non-Jew and be against bad treament of Palestinians. It is another issue to believe that consciously setting out to kill civilians, randomly, is ok. It is not. It is terrorism. Now show me the photos of all the bad things Israel is doing to the Palestians, show the random murders of cafes, busses, pizza parlors, schools...show me. And show me where a Palestinian who has done something bad to an Israel is brought to trial, as is often done to members of the IDF...In general, perhaps films such as these are not nice to watch, to digest. But just perhaps they can make us alert to the suffering going on for so long, the sort of thing that had gone on in Ireland, and in so many other places. All too often we get sanitized summaries via TV or the papers, without getting our faces shoved into the horrors. And calling this or that side bad and the other one OK does not move any peace process along. Israel is to be put on trial for building a wall to keep out killers? Good for them. Not all walls are bad: we have protions at Mexican border; China had a very big one to keep our their barbarians....I have a fence to separate me from a neighbor I get along with.
posted by Postroad at 12:22 PM on January 31, 2004


The BIG POINT: like it or not, the wall works.

Israelis, who only want Palestinians for cheap labor, now can just sit back and be laissez-faire about the whole deal. "If you want to work for us for a wage, fine, come over to our side, work, be paid and go home. We want nothing else to do with you." Live and let live, no more new settlements, eventually no Israeli army in occupation, unless the Palestinian side starts pitching mortar and rocket shells over, or Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian or Iranian troops start showing up on the West Bank.

Palestinians and other Arabs no longer have excuses. The Arabs who funded the Palestinians solely to fight, and who otherwise just don't care, will stop sending money. Those who *really* care for the Palestinians will keep sending money, and along with the Palestinians on the street will SOON start to wonder where all that money is going (into the pocket of Arafat and friends), instead of where it is SUPPOSED to be going (improving the lives of Palestinians.)

In other words, "You are on your own, now. You have a de facto state. NOW LIVE IN IT. You no longer have a right to complain about your neighbors. Henceforth, any problems you have are your OWN fault."

Oh, yes, and you have a RIGHT OF RETURN, so be prepared to enjoy the company of a FEW MILLION of your kinfolk now living in Lebanon and Jordan. What!? You don't *want* them to come home? But the Lebanese and Jordanians don't want them either!

THE FUNNIEST PART is all the internationals who LIKED the conflict, for any number of weird, perverse and convoluted reasons. They are really unhappy that it's coming to an end. Be they Biblical End-of-Timers, extreme anti-Jewish anti-Semites, or extreme Zionists--THEY LOSE.

Me, I've had any sympathies burned away. Now, I only care that there *is* a solution, and a relatively non-violent one at that.
posted by kablam at 12:33 PM on January 31, 2004


Now show me the photos of all the bad things Israel is doing to the Palestians

Perhaps you could start here:

Searched the web for israel missile strike car dead children crowded.  Results 1 - 10 of about 7,030
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:36 PM on January 31, 2004


kablam, that sounds essentially like you believe the crisis is over because you're bored with it.

Of course, there are countless issues that still cause massive conflict that the wall will never fix, if not exacerbate, including the Palestinians living to the West of Israel's declared de facto border, control and access to Jerusalem, settlers who refuse to leave and the Israel government that will let them squat wherever they want, and the refugees.

The problem is that eventually the idea that Israel can just "let the Palestinians come to work and go home" isn't going to last long. If Israel doesn't concede to an acceptable two-state solution soon, then the Palestinians are going to switch to a new form of one-state solution: in which instead of "going home," the Palestinians will announce that they already are.

The actual "funny part" is that Israel's biggest crisis will come not at the hands of militants, but at the time when the citizens of the West Bank announce that they don't want their own state anymore: "Okay, Israel can have all the land. So... we're all Israelis now, right? When's Election Day?" The only counter to that would be a military purge of the entire West Bank, which would rightly been seen as a genocide even the United States couldn't condone rationally.

In other words, Israel's biggest fault is not that it wants to end the crisis. It deliberately wants it to lie in limbo, because it cannot deal with the potential aftermath of outright loss, or outright victory. The wall is a protection against violence, but it magnifies the impasses Israel needs to maintain for its own pseudo-stability.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:52 PM on January 31, 2004


Show me the court that would try the remains of a palestinian bomber. Show me.

Postroad, why don't you just move that fence that separates you from your neighbor back 10 feet towards his house. I mean, crediting the value of using a 3,000 method of security ain't holding water in my boat. The great wall served its purpose.

As I've followed it (and I'll admit in advance that I stopped following the 'progress' too closely due to a deep feeling of disgust for both sides in the conflict), this heavy-handed approach by Sharon isn't really solving anything. There is no long-term plan, negotiations are betrayed by actions which subvert any goodwill which people demand in advance of further talks.

So you finish the wall. Great. Then what, when buses keep exploding, and the economy (which is inextricably linked to the Palestinians) creeps to a halt. You gonna paint some nice signs on it? Snappy feel-good propaganda? It won't be the end.

Thank g-d we're showing some leadership in bringing the two sides together and forcing them to be rational.

Oh wait...
posted by Busithoth at 12:52 PM on January 31, 2004


Show you, postroad? Try talking to the Arabs in your neighborhood. The Arab guys who own the supermarket in my little neighborhood in San Francisco are the sweetest, most pro-let's-all-get-along guys you'd ever want to meet. Just before 9/11, a building in this neighborhood burned down, and when I told one of the guys, "Imagine coming back to your apartment and finding that it had been burned to the ground," he said, "That's how it is for Palestinians every day of the week."

The grandmother of another local guy opened her door last year and found a group of Israeli soldiers on her doorstep. They came in -- and stayed for two weeks, smoking cigarettes and stubbing them out on her family's heirloom rugs, threatening her with guns, and wrecking the place.

You don't hear more about these things because our media tends not to show them. The decades-long oppression of a people is less newsworthy than a bomb going off in a restaurant.
posted by digaman at 12:52 PM on January 31, 2004


I am a Jew, but I am highly critical of the Israeli government for its vicious treatment of the Palestinian people.
me too...and this wall is a mistake. It's not stopping the bombings and violence on both sides, and won't, unless there are no doors or gates in it, which would be horrendous for other reasons.
posted by amberglow at 1:26 PM on January 31, 2004


It's not stopping the bombings and violence

Er, except that the wall they set up in Gaza seems to be working just fine--last I heard, there were no suicide/homicide bombers coming in from Gaza anymore, just from the West Bank. And now they're building the West Bank wall. So yes, this does seem to be an actual solution to the problem of people getting blown up in buses and pizza shops and cafes.

In other news, the Palestinian Authority is about to miss its February payroll because all the money has mysteriously dried up. Guess they're feeling the pinch from Saddam's absence and decades of PA (and before that, PLO) sticky fingers. PLA Ex-Prime Minister Abbas was particularly vociferent in complaining about Arafat's corruption before he got canned; looks like he was right.

Former MeFite Stephen Den Beste just posted a really good round-up of news on the Arab/Israelis conflict that's well worth reading--long, as usual, but also interesting, as usual.
posted by Asparagirl at 1:41 PM on January 31, 2004


Truth as propaganda.

Pure rhetoric. "Truth"??
Selected truths, half-truths.
Use of the word "truth" itself is more often than not propaganda.
Supporting one side of an issue is propaganda.

"Propaganda is information true or false disseminated to serve an agenda. If true, it may be one-sided and fail to paint a complete picture." -- wikipedia

posted by Twang at 1:42 PM on January 31, 2004


OK, Twang, instead of "truth," a loaded word if ever there was one, how about, "documented objective fact."

As a former PSYOPer, I'll be the first to tell you that the Big Lie has nothing on a story that has its start in something that actually happened. It's how you frame the imagery, what narrative it drives, that makes all the difference.
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:50 PM on January 31, 2004


A non-political question to the masses:

Can someone please describe exactly what it is we're seeing at around 1:50 minutes into it? Is that a melted person or something? I'm having a difficult time making it out due to the shakiness of the video.

Sorry to be so morbid, but as a journo-wanna-be, this kind of stuff fascinates me, too.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:52 PM on January 31, 2004


Er, except that the wall they set up in Gaza seems to be working just fine--last I heard, there were no suicide/homicide bombers coming in from Gaza anymore, just from the West Bank. And now they're building the West Bank wall. So yes, this does seem to be an actual solution to the problem of people getting blown up in buses and pizza shops and cafes.
Sorry, a wall is not an answer to the problems there...It's actually a turning away from even trying to solve them, for an illusion of security (and it is an illusion--there'll just be more creative bombers when the wall is done--you'll see)
posted by amberglow at 1:57 PM on January 31, 2004


OK, I'm a Jew too. A Cohen, no less. And can anybody show me any two peoples - Israelis and Palestinians - less capable of negotiating or keeping to an agreement? Yes, they have tried, and they have both become expert at not communicating and finger-pointing at the other's infractions.

Will the wall stop the bombings? No. Will the wall increase communications between the two parties. No. The wall is a psychological aberration turned into a physical fact.

Can Palestinians negotiate with Israelis? I sincerely think so. Not with Sharon in power, though. But on the very night that the Israelis and Hezbollah were trading prisoners, Hezbollah announced that the trade was so successful that they would start kidnapping more Israelis. No wonder the Israelis feel that nobody is listening to them, and in their rage they take it our on the nearest Arabs, the ones that know them best, the Palestinians.

Yes, I think that the video is valuable, and transcends propaganda. And no, I have never had the heart to view the Danny Pearl video.
posted by zaelic at 2:25 PM on January 31, 2004


with the best of intentions, this type of FPP always goes the same way.

If the comparatively reasonable and self-restrained MeFites can't keep this civil, who are we to denounce the I/P conflict?
posted by Fupped Duck at 2:27 PM on January 31, 2004


it's civil, Fupped...there's no cursing yet or anything--just disagreement.
posted by amberglow at 2:34 PM on January 31, 2004


Its a case of micro vs macro-futility
posted by Fupped Duck at 2:36 PM on January 31, 2004


This still is *reasonably* civil, and arguments go in several directions: what either side did in the past and what injustices still exist. The largest argument, "does the wall work?", is still in the future.
I assert it does, but time will tell. If nothing else, call it a "cooling off period" that more than anything else puts pressure on extremists.

Extremists must have results. Extremists must have hot anger. What makes an extremist powerful is burning rage untempered by time. In this case, each side's extremists demands the *annihilation* of the other. "Kill them or drive them out. Take their land", is their rallying cry.

And keeping them apart, even preventing their proxys from carrying out violent acts, sucks away their power.

It will not take very long for everyone on both sides to realize that their extremist leaders have been *using* them; have been taking advantage of them; have been stealing from them. And when this realization has been made, extremist leaders may find themselves out of a job, or worse.

Which most every reasonable person should support.
posted by kablam at 2:47 PM on January 31, 2004


It is another issue to believe that consciously setting out to kill civilians, randomly, is ok. It is not.

That's the big difference, it separates the moral from the immoral.

In Moral Defense of Israel [pdf]
posted by hama7 at 3:32 PM on January 31, 2004


Yes, I think that the video is valuable, and transcends propaganda.

I agree, and have to ask the question: How is it anyone can excuse, on any level, the things seen in this video?

Which is not to take sides, Israelis, Palestinians, isn't what is pictured in this video wrong regardless of who perpetrates it and who the victims are?

Obviously the point of this video is that the person who did this, and his people, are animals who must be dealt with. Well, of course the person who did this is a murderous SOB. Anyone who targets civilians in this manner regardless of what those civilians' government or ancestors have done is a murderous SOB. But to make the argument that this then requires a tit for tat is to make everybody wrong.
posted by kgasmart at 3:37 PM on January 31, 2004


Which is not to take sides, Israelis, Palestinians, isn't what is pictured in this video wrong regardless of who perpetrates it and who the victims are?

Of course, but the nutjob extremists on either side don't see it that way. To them, it's only wrong if the other side does it. I highly recommend reading page 8 of the link Hama7 posted, because it's a perfect distillation of the extremist mindset on "our side":

To be victorious in war, a free nation has to destroy enough of the aggressor to break his will to continue attacking (and, then, dismantle his war apparatus and replace his government). In modern warfare, this almost always necessitates “collateral damage,” i.e., the killing of civilians.
...
Other civilians in enemy states are passive, unthinking followers. Their work and economic production, however meager, supports their terrorist governments and so they are in part responsible for the continued power of our enemies. They too are not innocent—and their deaths may be unavoidable in order for America to defend itself.

This sort of logic is a perfect excuse for the suicide bomber to justify his own terrible acts; he'll claim that civilians in a democracy are just as responsible for the acts carried out by their governments. In a perverse way, he may even believe they're more responsible, since they have more power over their own rulers than the citizens of a dictatorship. That logic is sick, but it doesn't strike me as substantially more sick than the garbage quoted above.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 3:57 PM on January 31, 2004


I think there is a moral difference between killing civilians as a side effect of attacking combatants or strategic targets (even if it is a wholly predictable side effect); and deliberately killing civilians as an end in itself. Further I think this is a difference of kind and not just degree.

I can imagine a total pacificst thinking otherwise.
posted by maciej at 4:20 PM on January 31, 2004


I think there is a moral difference between killing civilians as a side effect of attacking combatants or strategic targets (even if it is a wholly predictable side effect); and deliberately killing civilians as an end in itself. Further I think this is a difference of kind and not just degree.

Hmm, well I suppose you could just give the Palestinians F-16s and tanks. I'm sure there's plenty of military targets, police stations, extremist religious leaders, politicians and so on they could go for in Israel, and they will then be able to carry on their side of the conflict in a morally superior fashion
posted by carter at 4:31 PM on January 31, 2004


Further I think this is a difference of kind and not just degree.

Hmmm. Consider these three scenarios:

* A suicide bomber blows himself up on a bus, killing 10 civilians.

* A suicide bomber blows himself up at a military checkpoint, killing 10 soldiers.

* A B29 bomber drops a nuclear bomb on a city, killing 100,000 civilians.

Which ones are the same in kind?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 4:50 PM on January 31, 2004


I don't know if everyone on this thread actually watched the video, but I did.

Seeing the body parts strewn about just made me think, "What makes someone angry enough to do this?", and I then wondered, how can this anger be defused? Israel's actions seem to be focused on creating more anger, not defusing what is already there, I'm afraid.
posted by beth at 4:53 PM on January 31, 2004


better technology=moral superiority
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 4:55 PM on January 31, 2004


Good idea Carter. Seriously. No, really. Giving a group of avowed genocidal murderers bigger weapons than they've got. It's only recently that Arathug removed the line about wiping out Israel from the constitution of the PA, and Hamas still hasn't. Take the gloves off the Palestinians so they can wipe out the Israelis. Good plan. But then, as has been said innumerable times - the Israelis have all the firepower - if they were as evil as everyone says, or, in fact, acted like most Middle Eastern rulers, the Palestinians would be dead. And if the Palestinians had the weapons the Israelis had, the Israelis would be dead. See the difference?

Wanna see a reason that Palestinian civillians keep getting hit?

Here's an AP photo. Do you see the guy with the gun there in the middle of those civillians? Do you know who he is? He's someone who is being attacked by the IDF. Now - what does that make those poor bastards (and I say that compassionately, shaking my head in disgust at the gunman) who are crouching around him?

Hint: First word is "Human" and second word is "Shields."

Now - if you were being fired on by the guy in the middle, what would you do? If you were the guy in the middle, what would you do? Can you begin to understand why, perhaps, so many civillians get hurt?

Obviously, if the civillians weren't there, the "militants/terrorists/thugs" would be slaughetered. So they use human shields. And the human shields get killed. And we weep for them, but I can not bring myself to blame the IDF when I see photos like.
posted by swerdloff at 5:00 PM on January 31, 2004


err, when I see photos like that, rather.

(And remember - the Geneva Convention forbids the use of human shields... not that anyone ever tries to hold Palestinians to the GC)
posted by swerdloff at 5:01 PM on January 31, 2004


Swerdloff, I wholly agree, good find with that picture
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 5:31 PM on January 31, 2004


Arathug

*sounds of needle scraping across record*
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:40 PM on January 31, 2004


Israel's actions seem to be focused on creating more anger, not defusing what is already there

More power to the moral authority of self defense.

Hama7 posted, because it's a perfect distillation of the extremist mindset on "our side":

Please do read page 8, because you'll also find this:

"The responsibility for all deaths in war lies with the aggressor who initiates force, not with those who defend themselves."
posted by hama7 at 5:43 PM on January 31, 2004


Windows Media Player cannot play the file because the specified protocol is not supported. In the Open URL dialog, try opening the file using a different transport protocol (for example, "http:" or "rtsp:").

*sigh* .. no info on what type of file this is.
posted by stbalbach at 5:53 PM on January 31, 2004


if everything kablam says is true, then i am very happy.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 5:54 PM on January 31, 2004


Here's an AP photo. Do you see the guy with the gun there in the middle of those civilians? Do you know who he is? He's someone who is being attacked by the IDF. Now - what does that make those poor bastards (and I say that compassionately, shaking my head in disgust at the gunman) who are crouching around him?

Now - if you were being fired on by the guy in the middle, what would you do? If you were the guy in the middle, what would you do?

So your argument is that the guy- who you said yourself is being attacked by the IDF- is reprehensible for firing back because civilians are around him. So what bothers you is why civilians are around, not that the IDF is? You're complaining, essentially, about what makes it difficult for the Israeli army to enter the West Bank and kill someone.

And remember - the Geneva Convention forbids the use of human shields... not that anyone ever tries to hold Palestinians to the GC

Damn those towns, too, for being shields for Palestinian terrorists when the bulldozers come in to capture them. When I see buildings and entire villages hanging around the militants like that I can't really blame the IDF for not thinking of any of the seventy-three billion other options than emptying a salvo of explosives on it.

Tell me, if Israel nuked the West Bank tomorrow, would you complain that it needed to be done to get rid of Arafat, and the fact that he kept all of those civilians around him under the pretense of "living there" as a violation of the Geneva convention? Or maybe, just maybe, would that be enough to make you suggest that when the Israel army launches strikes on populated areas it might not just be the unarmed people's fault for being nearby?

Oh, right, we're not talking about that. We're talking about a picture of this single incident that clearly justifies everything the IDF has done in the last three years. Can we get the one with the Twin Towers under the "remember" flag banner next? It's my favorite.

Obviously, if the civilians weren't there, the "militants/terrorists/thugs" would be slaughtered. So they use human shields.

As opposed to the settlers, the main reason the IDF is there in the first place, who are merely human pawns.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:19 PM on January 31, 2004


Tryptophan-5ht: serious or sarcastic? But it doesn't really matter. What matters is the sudden realization that the Palestinians have a de facto state.
Instead of thinking of themselves as second-class citizens in Israel, they have something that, for better or worse, is theirs. Now what?
Will they be like Pakistan or Bangladesh, when they broke off from India? When all the effort spent hating their oppressive masters is redirected to having a nation.
Again--suddenly--everything changes.

Ironically, other Arabs may quickly become their enemies. Because Palestinians get a great deal of affection *only* because they oppose Israel. If they just want to live in peace and improve their lives, Lebanon and Jordan will far more openly treat them like dogs. Right now, Palestinian refugees are second-class citizens. If they have their own nation, these millions of refugees may suddenly become unwelcome, and their hosts may try to expel them.

Literally millions of homeless Palestinians flooding back into the West Bank and Gaza Strip. What a disaster.
posted by kablam at 6:52 PM on January 31, 2004


So yes, this does seem to be an actual solution to the problem of people getting blown up in buses and pizza shops and cafes.

I can't quite work out the obsession with 'buses and pizza shops and cafes': it's such a mantra. Perhaps it's because it reminds us that much of Israel is basically Manhattan-on-the-Med, a cultural anomaly in its region. Not too many pizza parlours on the Palestinian side; perhaps they should build a couple and hope that Israeli helicopters mistakenly target those instead of people's homes.

Anyway, the problem with the wall is not just... well, I always thought that various right-wing types had tapes of 'Tear. Down. That. Wall.' stored away in the box of memories. But it's also because it's the most blatant mass land-grab since 1973 (as opposed to the squatter tactics of the settlements); it establishes de facto lines of ownership and control that make the Palestinian territories incapable of functioning as a state (sorry, kablam, you're way off here) but makes them a pretty neat set of ghettos.

In the meantime, I think someone should build a wall right around hama7, just to separate the moral from the immoral. I'm sure he'll tell you which side is which. Conversely, having read Den Beste's piece, I now know what it's like to be bricked up inside a wee small world of foreign policy insight: one in which the oxygen supply is rapidly diminishing.
posted by riviera at 7:12 PM on January 31, 2004


I can't quite work out the obsession with 'buses and pizza shops and cafes': it's such a mantra

Well, they're historically the main targets for suicide bombers. If it's sadly cliched to talk about them, it's only because they've been made into a "mantra" by the constant targeting of civilians in those venues.

much of Israel is basically Manhattan-on-the-Med, a cultural anomaly in its region

Can't imagine why that might be the case, especially since it's one of the only places in the region with no oil or natural resources...oh, right, it must have been those pesky, pushy Jewish refugees who turned a barren desert into a first-world country in the space of 50 years, despite having to simultaneously fight (and win) five wars and suffer through two Intifadas. Something to do with being the only democracy in the entire region, or something like that, I forget.

Not too many pizza parlours on the Palestinian side

I can think of one--or rather, a simulated one. An-Najah University, which is Palestinian, had (still has?) a whole exhibit up at the school set up to celebrate a particularly infamous suicide/homicide bombing of an Israeli Sbarro's pizza shop. The exhibit was made to look like the inside of the Sbarro's in the aftermath of the bombing, with simulated blood and organs smeared on the walls, as well as this gruesome mural painted on an outside wall commemorating the murders.

You simply don't see murals like that--murals celebrating murders that specifically targeted civilians--in Israel.

well, I always thought that various right-wing types had tapes of 'Tear. Down. That. Wall.' stored away in the box of memories

Sure--but the Berlin Wall was built by the communists to keep people in who posed no harm to anyone, but who desperately wanted to leave. The walls in Gaza and the the West Bank are being built to keep people out who desparately want to come into Israel specifically to murder civilians. And, as I comented before, the already-built Gaza wall actually seems to be working in that respect, something none of the pessimists in this thread have yet addressed.

I think someone should build a wall right around hama7

Then I'll bring the milk and cookies and hop on whatever side he's on.

Do you actually have any substanative critique of Den Beste's piece besides your usual snarkiness? I thought it was well-researched, given the number of sources and recent news stories he cited. What startled me the most when I read it was his assertions (and links) near the end of the piece about how a number of Arab nations may, en masse, open up normalized relations with Israel in the near future. Also, the preliminary program to have countries like Syria and Jordan absorb much of the Palestinians who have been stuck in UN-run DP camps was news to me.
posted by Asparagirl at 8:43 PM on January 31, 2004


Arathug

This is the sound made by swerdloff's last shred of credibility as it disappeared into a stream of bits somewhere on the Internet.

on preview:
The walls in Gaza and the the West Bank are being built to keep people out who desparately want to come into Israel specifically to murder civilians.

With the completion of the wall Israel should get the best of both worlds, since Palestinians can't murder Israeli civilians because they can't get through the wall, but Israeli army aircraft can kill Palestinians (most of whom are civilians), because they can still fly over the wall to get to them.
posted by oaf at 8:58 PM on January 31, 2004


kinda like that exploded whale pic from the other day, huh?
posted by quonsar at 9:09 PM on January 31, 2004


Re: "Arathug"... Well, speaking of truth in advertising...

Seriously, what's wrong with calling him what he is--a thug? He's treated as if he were the democratic front to a popular resistance, yet despite his assurances of "any day now", he hasn't held elections in going on eight years now. His own ex-Prime Minister has openly accused him of having a hand in the till and Swiss bank accounts to the point where the PA is almost bankrupt, even though it gets quite a bit of funding from the EU (funding intended for the Palestinian people, who need it). People who have challenged him for political positions within the PA or who have spoken out against him--Palestinians, mind you--have been attacked by his cronies. And when not openly calling for the murder of civilians, he from time to time has these nutty conversations on the phone with CNN reporters that make for great comedy fodder.

He's a sick old man and one of the worst things to ever happen to the Palestinians, setting back their dreams for an independent country for years. He's rumored to be dying, so there may be hope for progress in the whole intractable mess once he's gone and the PA can put forth a more honest broker.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:29 PM on January 31, 2004


Seriously, what's wrong with calling him what he is--a thug?

If you're going to name-call, Sharon is as big a thug as anyone. He was elected specifically because he's a thug. The Israelis said "we're sick of this" and pulled in the neighborhood bully to help protect them.

I'm not defending Arafat, or suggesting the Israelis didn't have a reason to be fed up, but--like everyone else in this debate--you have no highground to stand on.
posted by jpoulos at 10:21 PM on January 31, 2004


neighborhood bully

This is your perception. In Israel, generally, he is revered like Patton. But then again, would you want Patton being president?
posted by clavdivs at 10:35 PM on January 31, 2004


His own ex-Prime Minister has openly accused him of having a hand in the till and Swiss bank accounts to the point where the PA is almost bankrupt, even though it gets quite a bit of funding from the EU (funding intended for the Palestinian people, who need it).

Oh, I wasn't even going to mention ol' Ariel's latest imbroglio, but you just set the scene for it. At least he hasn't been embezzling the millions of dollars sent from the US Treasury. At least, not that we know of. But that's what happens when you have a sub-Italian electoral system that makes cash and prizes the basis of remaining in power.

He's rumored to be dying, so there may be hope for progress in the whole intractable mess once he's gone and the PA can put forth a more honest broker.

i.e. someone who's amenable to Likud? Keep waiting, dearie. It'll take a culling of the corrupt and decrepit on both sides before we see a proper dialogue, which will place between a weary generation of both Israelis and Palestinians with no personal battle-scores to settle.

As for Den Beste's piece: let's count down the rhetorical atrocities and historical lapses. Well, there's a nice little disingenuous smear linking the Palestinians to 9/11 by saying 'some might have thought that...' There's also an cheap little invocation of Black September, which really has as much relevance to the current political climate as the Stern Gang: as has been widely noted, the Black Septembrists were disbanded, primarily by being married off. There's a cute piece of chronological ignorance (which could be parsed as mendacity) concerning the Camp David and Ta'aba negotiations, and Arafat's supposed 'initiating' of the Al Aqsa intifada, which neglects to mention that Sharon's red-rag jaunt on the Temple Mount was an electoral power-play, designed to undermine Ehud Barak and ensure that he could neither cling to office nor offer any serious negotiating positions. There's a pathetic generalisation about the supposed 'one state solution' of the Palestinians, which would probably make Edward Said spin in his grave... and oh, fuck it, I'm bored now. The man lives in a fantasy world, and has the short-term memory of a retarded goldfish.

Anyway, I'm just waiting for someone to follow the lead of Northern Ireland and christen the wall as a 'peace line'. If you pardon the inappropriate religious undertones. Not that I particularly care if you do or not.
posted by riviera at 10:45 PM on January 31, 2004


"The responsibility for all deaths in war lies with the aggressor who initiates force, not with those who defend themselves."

<derail>
::cough::Iraq::cough::
</derail>
posted by moonbiter at 11:01 PM on January 31, 2004


*sigh* .. no info on what type of file this is.

stbalbach: It's a 57Mb mpg. Direct download link here (it's a bit slow).
posted by moonbiter at 11:13 PM on January 31, 2004


"Okay, Israel can have all the land. So... we're all Israelis now, right? When's Election Day?" The only counter to that would be a military purge of the entire West Bank, which would rightly been seen as a genocide even the United States couldn't condone rationally.

Well...one would hope not, anyway.
posted by boredomjockey at 11:20 PM on January 31, 2004


Personally, I think we should give either the Palestinians or the Israelis Texas.
posted by moonbiter at 11:30 PM on January 31, 2004


I mean, after all, Texas has "many hundreds of thousands of acres of land, soil, and property and opportunity to create a Palestinian [or Israeli] state."
posted by moonbiter at 11:32 PM on January 31, 2004


>Then what, when buses keep exploding, and the economy (which is inextricably linked to the Palestinians)

Well, they can always hit up old uncle sam for more cash. The US, especially the conservatives in power, have no problem turning a blind eye to a military taking pot-shots at civilians including women and especially children. From
*

Since 1949 the US has given Israel a total of $84,854,827,200. The interest costs born by US taxpayers on behalf of Israel are $49,937,000,000 – making the total amount of aid given to Israel since 1949 $134,791,507,200 (more than $134 billion).5
*

The total cost of this financial aid to US tax payers per Israeli is $23,240.
*

Since 1992, the US has offered Israel an additional $2 billion in loan guarantees every year.6
*

Nearly all past loans to Israel have been forgiven – leading Israel to claim that they have never defaulted on repayment of a US loan – with most loans made on the understanding that they would be forgiven before Israel was required to repay them.
*

In 1997 alone, the total of US grants and loan guarantees to Israel was $5.5 billion, i.e., $15,068,493 per day.
People of conscience should be supporting their local divest in Israel campaigns and make this an issue that should be part of our national discourse. The Likuds aren't doing anyone any good.

Perhaps it will come up during the debates for President. One can hope.
posted by skallas at 12:09 AM on February 1, 2004


>better technology=moral superiority

Now that's a scary thought.
posted by skallas at 12:11 AM on February 1, 2004


"The responsibility for all deaths in war lies with the aggressor who initiates force, not with those who defend themselves."

So how far back to we go with this logic? 1992? 1967? 1946? 1878? Also, what defines aggression, exactly? I'd assume (based on that Randite philosophy) that taking over someone elses land could certainly count as the initiating act. In reality, the conflict is so sordid and twisted that the initial act of violence, and who's responsible for it, is both unidentifiable and irrelevant. These are two rotten, naughty children who need to have their toys taken away from them if they can't play nicely. Who should, in fact, probably be banned from the playground.

Personally, I place the blame squarely on God. He's the one who decided to go play favourites and start throwing around concepts like "chosen people" and "promised land" thousands of years ago, then threw "martyrdom" and "holy war" into the mix to stir things up. I think he's the one who needs to be neutralized.
posted by Jimbob at 12:25 AM on February 1, 2004


Can't imagine why that might be the case, especially since it's one of the only places in the region with no oil or natural resources...oh, right, it must have been those pesky, pushy Jewish refugees who turned a barren desert into a first-world country in the space of 50 years, despite having to simultaneously fight (and win) five wars and suffer through two Intifadas.

Just as an aside, it's not really true that Palestine was a desert before the Jewish immigration, or that is has no resources. In fact it was an agricultural society, with farm products the main exports and chief employer. Also, the (literally) trillions of dollars in donations which have flowed into Israel from all over the world, in the form of foreign aid but mostly individual and institutional donations through the years, it would actually be more surprising if that investment hadn't resulted in major infrastruture and economic institutions. Fighting and winning the wars were amazing accomplishments, and the fact that the country has been able to not only survive, but thrive, is a testament to the intelligence and diversity of the Israeli people and the strength of their weapons and technology.

As for pizza parlors, there are plenty (or their equivalent) in Ramallah, E. Jerusalem, Nablus, and other main Palestinian areas.
posted by chaz at 2:13 AM on February 1, 2004


I nominate riviera for most eloquently stinging dismissal of '04 on Metafilter - Still many months left in the year though.

I have strongly schizophrenic loyalties in the I/P conflict. I remember getting together with my wife's family for Thanksgiving two years ago - I met an extended relative, through marraige, who had been an Israeli policeman. He had managed to immigrate, with his wife and two young sons, to the US. "A wall....", he intoned. It was tough to argue with him - I agreed, at the time, and have advocated the wall solution at various times since then.

But not the "Wall as a land grab" project currently underway under Ariel Sharon's government - my "wall" was a hardheaded but "kinder and gentler" wall which would have gone hand in hand with major commitments, by the US and the international community, to dramatically increase economic aid to Palestinians to rebuild the devastated economies of the West Bank and Gaza, to allow them to be fully economically independant from Israel. This would eliminate the need for the daily migration of most, if not all, Palestinian day laborers into Israel, and it would give the Palestinians the sort of real hope for a better future which would undercut the desperation which is one underlying motivation for acts of terrorism.

I don't blame Israel for finally publicizing the horrifying images of this most recent suicide bombing. How could anyone criticize a visual depiction of such an atrocity ? It happened.

That said, I suspect that the sort of atrocities and humiliations visited on the Palestinians tend to be less concentrated, more diffuse. Not in all cases though - and so I can hope that we will have comparable access to imagery of civilian "collateral damage" carnage surrounding one of the IMF's "assasination-by-missile" stunts.

Though I would call this overall situation "mutual assymetric terrorism", such terminology is in the end meaningless - or pointless. All that really matters here is the willingness - or not, as it were - of the US and the international community to bring the sort of pressure on both Israel and the Palestinian political forces (such as they are), pressure coupled with the carrot of an economic aid package for the Palestinians and security guarantees for Israel, which will force both sides to the negotiating table for a real peace deal.

And the backbone of the Bush Administration - or it's relative spinelessness, as it were - is the key to that. It must adpopt a position less wedded to the Neocon/pro Israel lobby. Somehow, I don't see this happening short of a complete replacement of almost the entire White House cabinet, but for George W. Bush. And that ain't gonna happen.
posted by troutfishing at 7:45 AM on February 1, 2004


chaz: more: the idea that lands were somehow empty or unused before they were colonised, or that the people who were living there did not deserve the land (for being too simple, primitive, unskilled, etc.) is a common and traditional ideology amongst many colonisers.

A historical example: the British declared a number of places, such as Australia, declaring the land "Terra Nullius" (sometimes Terra Nulles) or "empty land," suggesting that as no-one really lived there before the British got there, and even if they did, they were too stupid to know what land ownership was. So, it could all belong the the British.

The policy had the side effect of re-creating Aboriginal Australians as sub-humans, who could be enslaved, in some cases hunted, whose land could be stolen for mining, farming, and water rights, and who were denied voting rights until the 1960s. It's so much easier to do these things to people if you think of them as none-people.

I would have mentioned in the preceding paragraph that this is also a racist-supremacist ideology, but mention it *here* instead to emphasise that both sides in the ME have their fair share of supremacists, whose rhetoric filters down to those who support *both* sides.
posted by carter at 7:53 AM on February 1, 2004


troutfishing: if there was a single force on either side that could be pressured; however, there are innumerable factions who don't want peace. Not just within the P/I area but outside as well. Remember that everytime there is even a minor "breakthrough", radicals on the Palestinian side try to create havoc with an attack, and radicals on the Israeli side try to build more settlements--as pure provocation.
But the wall creates a psychological, as well as a physical barrier. "Everybody on this side is a Palestinian, Everybody on that side is an Israeli" is the illusion, but a powerful one.
It becomes much harder to mount attacks, as well as build new settlements--to the chagrin of radicals.
It also becomes *easier* to start asking questions like: "If everything on this side is ours, how come we don't make it better? Nobody is stopping us now." Or are they?

In Sicily, after WWII, the US offered to build a large hydroelectric dam, to create a lot of jobs and radically improve the economy of that impoverished island. The Sicilian Mafia did *everything* it could to STOP this--realizing that if things improved in Sicily, it would be at the expense of the Mafia. They succeeded in keeping Sicily impoverished, and only many years later, with much bloodshed and misery, Sicily has managed to slowly improve itself--to the detriment of the Mafia.

Poverty and ignorance are the tools of the radical and the fanatic and the mobster.
posted by kablam at 9:58 AM on February 1, 2004


kablam - I understand the dynamics you outlined, and of course radicals on both sides will always attempt to sabatoge peace negotiations. But US economic and political support of Israel gives Washington considerable clout to demand that Israel refrain from it's usual tit-for-tat retaliations for the Palestinian suicide bombings which inevitably accompany the start of peace talks.......

If the Bush Administration chooses to exercise that power. That's one big fat if.

I agree with you, to an extent, about the overall effect of a wall, except insofar as you neglect to mention it's provocative nature, as a de-facto land grab. But for this I would agree with you.....and a wall may temporarily reduce suicide bombings, yes.

But I suspect that - sooner or later - Palestinian terrorists will contrive some new and yet even more horrible method of attack which renders the current wall under construction largely useless as a defensive measure.

Though it probably would be far more expensive, a serpentine wall which respected current Palestinian territorial claims would be far more effective at fostering the sort of more positive dynamic of the sort you've just sketched out. And, as I said, an economic aid plan would have to accompany this wall construction. Otherwise, the overall situation would continue to fester or even deteriorate further, with the slide of the Palestinian standard of living towards the level of where famine is common and meaningful economic activity has largely ceased.

But what do I know ?
posted by troutfishing at 10:58 AM on February 1, 2004


Israel is a colonialist project. Leveraging slight cultural differences between semitic people and peoples of semitic ancestry, the West has yet again managed to install a suitably aligned regime in the Middle East. Personally, I find it hard to distinguish between Christian Israeli-Palestinians, Islamic Israeli-Palestinians, and Jewish Israeli-Palestinians. But I do find it easier to distinguish between this collection of peoples and recent Russian, European, and American immigrants to the region.

The West has a long history of establishing colonial regimes in that area of the world. The last such project, the Crusades, involved decades of effort, extraordinary expense, and the migration/transplantation of over a million people from Europe to the Middle East. Given their level of technology that was a momentous undertaking. But also one that failed. Within a century all the Crusader regimes had been conquered or assimilated, despite their establishment of apartheid, physical barriers, and punitive military tactics.

I find it interesting that when the Crusades colonialist project failed, the Europeans then turned their attention to the conquest of the Canaries. Following the completion of that more genocidally successful project, the Spanish used the tactics learned for their exploration and conquest of Hispaniola. But I digress...

There is a historical imperative in the life cycle of colonialist, apartheid regimes that reveals itself over and over. Those who know history are inded doomed to watch it unfold.

Fresh from their success in partitioning Ireland and South Africa, the British were moving forward with their scheme to partition Palestine and to establish a UK-aligned proxy regime in the post-Ottoman territories...

Sir Ronald Storrs, the first governor of Jerusalem under British rule in the 1920s, explained it as "forming for England a 'little loyal Jewish Ulster' in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism".
posted by meehawl at 1:11 PM on February 1, 2004


troutfishing: I do think that, except for Palestinian labor in Israel, the Israelis will eventually cut off the West Bank and Gaza Strip entirely--ignoring them more than anything else. And while the wall will reduce bombing, it will also stop any future settlements.
As far as US influence goes, the Israeli lobby is far more powerful at protecting its interests then any US administration, republican or democrat. Any congressman, with the exception of a very small handful, who oppose them will find them concentrating their force on pushing him out of office. And they will. It's awful hard to get federal office from a small district with a powerful national organization dead set against you.

But then again, why try to twist Israel's arm, yet once again? Both sides are set into patterns of violence and many good intentioned people have tried to resolve their animosity. Without success.

So now there is a wall. A new idea. I'm for seeing if it works.
If the Palestinians take what they have, for once, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and try to do something positive with them, without bitterly complaining that they deserve IT ALL; with the continuing help from many in the world, they could soon have a good place to live.
War has given them nothing. Perhaps it's time to just unilaterally stop fighting, ignore the Israelis right back, and try to make a better life for themselves.
And to hell with any of their own who won't.
posted by kablam at 1:18 PM on February 1, 2004


So far. As far as US influence goes, the Israeli lobby is far more powerful at protecting its interests then any US administration, republican or democrat.

That is a political equation not set in stone. At some point in this decade, there will be more Muslims than Jews in the United States.
posted by y2karl at 2:32 PM on February 1, 2004


y2karl: raw numbers do not an effective lobby make. Jews are a tiny minority in the US, and yet have tremendous political and cultural influence: don't think conspiracy, think that it where they have gravitated to, over time and out of necessity.
Any group that can muster the votes, that can maintain its focus, that can keep up the pressure on its political friends and enemies, over time will have a lot of power in Washington. In addition, Jews are unified by Israel, and this means a lot.

Muslims in the US are divided in many ways. Nation of origin, varieties of religion, ethnically, geographically. (Actually, this helps *some* Muslims to integrate quickly.)
If Muslims have any common goal, it is against Israel--but it is far more difficult to lobby against a foreign country, then it is to lobby for something--a gimmee gimmee.

The great majority of Muslims in the US are quite moderate in their outlook, and yet many of their spiritual leaders are Wahabbi trained and far more radical. It remains to be seen that these radicals can stimulate their congregations as an effective voting and lobbying bloc.
posted by kablam at 5:14 PM on February 1, 2004


kablam: they are organizing, and are united in their desire to remove Bush (who, by any standard, has been bad for them both here and abroad)
posted by amberglow at 5:20 PM on February 1, 2004


Not too many pizza parlours on the Palestinian side

I ate at a pizzeria in East Jerusalem, which is Palestine. It was right next door to a high-walled, machine-gun nested Jewish settlement. The Palestinian owners and I sat around watching "Patriot Games" on their little TV. Pretty surreal.
posted by Ty Webb at 6:25 PM on February 1, 2004


"I do think that, except for Palestinian labor in Israel, the Israelis will eventually cut off the West Bank and Gaza Strip entirely--ignoring them more than anything else. And while the wall will reduce bombing, it will also stop any future settlements." - Kablam, I don't disagree with any of your points per se - but I see the current wall project as less constructive than it might be for the actual details, on the ground, of the project - as this Globalsecurity.org page shows (with extensive imagery), in an in depth detail of one area in question :

"The 11.3 kilometer fence that surrounds the West Bank town of Qalqilyah, will isolate the town not only from Israel, but from the rest of the West Bank as well. Only one road will connect Qalqilyah to the West Bank, but that road is blocked by an Israeli check-point. "

It seems like a rather grim place to live, to me.

"But then again, why try to twist Israel's arm, yet once again?" - When was the last serious US effort to twist Israel's arm ?
posted by troutfishing at 7:51 PM on February 1, 2004


amberglow: please spare us the gratuitous politicking. Bush is not the end all, be all of evil in the world. He will most likely be re-elected because of many factors, among which is popularity. That's right, a majority of voters will prefer him to the democratic party alternative.
Ironically enough, for you I suppose, most of them will agree with most of his policies. Or they will at least see them as superior to any democratic party alternative.

Now, until the election, you may feel it important to infect every single thread with your bitter hatred. But please, after he is re-elected, it is a moot point. His republican majority in congress will never impeach him. There will be nothing you can do about it. So instead, if you wish to contribute something to the topic at hand, *relevant* to the topic at hand, jump right in. I'm sure, if you try, you can *not* talk about Bush once or twice, at least. Something to chew on between times might help, too.
posted by kablam at 8:00 PM on February 1, 2004


[Bush] will most likely be re-elected because of many factors, among which is popularity. That's right, a majority of voters will prefer him to the democratic party alternative.
Not true, at least according to the current polls.
Another poll of 1,022 registered voters taken by Newsweek between Thursday and Friday showed Bush and Kerry in a statistical dead heat if an election were held today. Kerry was the choice of 48 percent, while 46 percent of people would vote for Bush.
posted by kickingtheground at 8:18 PM on February 1, 2004


Thanks for sharing your unsourced spy novel fantasies and ad hominem personal attacks once again, kablam. Talk about bitter hatred.
posted by y2karl at 8:19 PM on February 1, 2004


You know, people are getting touchy about their Dear Leader.
posted by moonbiter at 8:37 PM on February 1, 2004


That's right, a majority of voters will prefer him to the democratic party alternative.

man, that sucks! I guess I can find solace in the fact that you are talking completely out of your ass.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:27 PM on February 1, 2004


kablam: take it to MeTa or shut up. You said: It remains to be seen that these radicals can stimulate their congregations as an effective voting and lobbying bloc.
And I gave you a link that proved that it's happening, and told you why. If you had read the first link of that old post, you would have found this: National Muslim leaders at their largest convention of the year announced plans to register 1 million Muslim voters and make civil rights a top issue in any endorsement of a presidential candidate.
Upset by government scrutiny of their community in the domestic hunt for terrorists, they are mobilizing to express their anger at the polls. ...Muslim leaders made their first unified endorsement in a presidential race in 2000, backing George W. Bush. Many thought he would take a harder line against Israel, and, based on statements he made while campaigning, would protect the rights of immigrants facing deportation.
Muslims say they have been bitterly disappointed on both counts.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, President Bush won points with American Muslims by visiting a mosque and declaring Islam a peaceful religion.
But since then, the federal government has detained hundreds of immigrants, shut down U.S. Muslim charities suspected of terrorist ties and gained broad new powers to monitor citizens under the USA Patriot Act. ...


Is your problem that you were proved wrong, or that you can't take someone pointing that out to you?
posted by amberglow at 10:47 PM on February 1, 2004


amberglow: and *how* many times have African-American leaders "mobilized" African-Americans to go out and vote democrat, even though they mostly vote democrat, have long voted democrat, and everybody already takes that into account? The overall effect of the "mobilization" is the status quo, not great change.
"National Muslim Leaders", hah! Is that like "National Catholic Leaders" or "National Protestant Leaders"? There is no lock-step vote here.
Plus, by registering 1,000,000 Muslims, that would be pretty close to 100% of the adult Muslim population in the US.

So, are you going to admit that what you referenced is hooey, or can't you take someone pointing that out to you?
posted by kablam at 5:40 AM on February 2, 2004


The article states that most Muslims voted for Bush in 2000 and they're not going to do that this time--how is it at all similar to the African-American vote?

And the notes on the very page you linked to dispute the population number you quote (which is from a poll): Muslim leaders in the United States optimistically estimate that there are approximately 6.5 million Muslims in the country (Aly Abuzaakouk, American Muslim Council, 1999). More recent newspaper accounts (2001) frequently refer to an estimated 8 million American Muslims. ... The latest edition (2000) of the annual Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches estimates 3,950,000 Muslims in America. According to a study released by the American Jewish Committee in October 2001, the highest possible realistic estimate for the current number of Muslims in the United States is 2.8 million. ...
Plus, another page in that site mentions the U.S. States With Highest Proportion
of Muslims in the Population
: NY has .8 percent Muslim population (out of a total population of 19+ million), and CA has .6 (out of more than NY) Do the math--it's way more than a million.

I know that what I referenced was a report on the political awakening and mobilization of US Muslims...I don't know why you need to deny and disparage that. If you think they're voting for Bush in 04 you're delusional.
posted by amberglow at 6:02 AM on February 2, 2004


It's an interesting demographic, the Muslim vote. The Arab vote is also intersting-- the split is about 50/50 Muslim and Christian, and the income per household levels are above the national average, very similar to Catholics in that regard. Another similarity is that Arabs tend to be conservative and small-business oriented, but can get turned off of the Republican party for various reasons such as civil rights.

The Muslim vote is a small factor, but it will take some time before it really has a voice, as many Muslims are more recent immigrants and it is difficult to get out and voting for the first time. Also, much of their economic strength comes from the business owners in places like New York and Los Angeles, and they are usually non-political.
posted by cell divide at 10:34 AM on February 2, 2004


amberglow: who they vote for, only time will tell. As I said before, while American-citizen Moslems are a very moderate bunch, as a whole, their Imams are mostly Wahabbi-trained and far more radical. So information about their congregants is very likely to be distorted, if it comes from their preachers.

From personal experience, I know that Moslems have tremendous religious, cultural and political variation. An ex-boss of mine, a blond-haired, blue-eyed, Irish Moslem, was in charge of hosting Moslems from around the world at his suburban house/mosque. As often as not, they wore business suits and ties, and many were adamant about the importance of secular politics. Sharia Law was for peasants and radicals, in the minds of many. (They would sneer at Canada's recent adoption of it, as patronizing beyond belief.)

The Shiites would, to a great extent, be all in favor of rooting out and exterminating Wahabbis; to a lesser extent, they wouldn't object to Sunnis being punished in some ways. Most expat Iranians HATE the current government and wouldn't mind the US conquering them, either.

Sunnis have the most *and* least prudish sects, some comparable to "white-bread protestants" in their casual observation of Moslem ritual; others, mostly of Saudi origins, are highly ritualistic and formal.

"American Muslims" aka "Black Muslims", used to be just silly, having little exposure to "real" Moslems. Years and much "reform" later, they are now a separate and distinct "real" type of Islam, but still distinctly American in their outlook about things. But they don't vote as Moslems, they vote as African-Americans, in that bloc.
posted by kablam at 10:38 AM on February 2, 2004


As I said before, while American-citizen Moslems are a very moderate bunch, as a whole, their Imams are mostly Wahabbi-trained and far more radical.

This is undocumentable wishful thinking. At best. Googling Wahabi trained American imans led first to Little Green Footballs---a source of assertions as "credible" as yours which deserve the same "respect" and "consideration".
posted by y2karl at 1:13 PM on February 2, 2004


Another Saudi-financed group, the North American Islamic Trust controls most mosques in the United States, the report said. The group was said to have aided in the construction of between 50 and 79 percent of the mosques in North America.

Another group, the Islamic Society of North America was said to provide ideological material to about 1,100 of an estimated 1,500 to 2,500 mosques in North America. The group has vetted and certified Wahabi-trained imams and is the main official endorsing agent for Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military.

The study said Saudi-sponsored Wahabi organizations dominate Muslim prison recruitment in the United States and seek to create a "radicalized cadre of felons who will support their anti-American efforts."


whilst not the proper figures for wahabi trained clerics overall in this country, the above data should give karl some SHUT THE FUCK UP time to re-evaluate his off handed dismissal to anything that does not fit his little world view.
posted by clavdivs at 7:32 PM on February 2, 2004


y2karl: before sneering, you should have googled the word "madrassas", the religious seminary-like schools long used to train imams and functionaries in Islamic societies.

The Washington Times (go ahead and sneer again, you're good at it), quotes in an article that "There are about 2,000 mosques in the United States, most of them started by Wahhabi clerics." But of course, you don't have to believe them either, instead of whatever it is you do believe.

The bottom line is that there are far too many practicing Moslems for the available clerics. The largest concentration of madrassas are in Pakistan and southeastern Asia. Those madrassas are strongly conservative, and mostly Wahabbi Sunni. Thus moderate Moslems get a lot of radical clergy.
posted by kablam at 8:26 PM on February 2, 2004


The bottom line is that there are far too many practicing Moslems for the available clerics. The largest concentration of madrassas are in Pakistan and southeastern Asia. Those madrassas are strongly conservative, and mostly Wahabbi Sunni. Thus moderate Moslems get a lot of radical clergy.

Whoa, you really take a leap into thin air at the end there.

There are about 2,000 mosques in the United States, most of them started by Wahhabi clerics.

The second part is a very dubious assertion, which is, at best, speculation in the absence of real knowledge.

go ahead and sneer again, you're good at it

Well, you're certainly the expert on the topic!
posted by y2karl at 12:48 AM on February 3, 2004


wow karl, you back peddlin fact checker you. Kablam just smoked your ass and you say The second part is a very dubious assertion, which is, at best, speculation in the absence of real knowledge.

great retort karl, great data to counter kablams point.

Another Saudi-financed group, the North American Islamic Trust controls most mosques in the United States, the report said. The group was said to have aided in the construction of between 50 and 79 percent of the mosques in North America.

h.e.r.e. k.a.r.l. can

you understand that--50 to 79 % (thats percent karl)

Thanks for sharing your unsourced spy novel fantasies and ad hominem personal attacks once again, karl. Talk about bitter hatred.
posted by clavdivs at 7:33 AM on February 3, 2004


y2karl: try a little research first (articles on bottom of page).

You might even try to google "Sheik Muhammad Hisham Kabbani", a moderate Sufi leader in the US who has been warning of Wahabbi infiltration for years.

Maybe some testimony before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security?

Do a little reading, 'kay?
posted by kablam at 8:03 AM on February 3, 2004


great example kablam, Sheik Kabbani lives about 30 miles from me. He is a great man and an important leader. Another link.
and an article
posted by clavdivs at 8:22 AM on February 3, 2004


I have to take your point seriously, kablam, and it is something I have read and thought and worried about myself.

Initially you wrote many imans in this country were Wahabi trained. This is quite plausible and there you may have a point. Then you went from many to most. I really don't think anyone knows that, for sure yet.

Later you wrote three statements with an unrelated prima facie conclusion, as Wulfgar might call it, inserted at the end, unsupported by the preceding statements. I don't know the finer points of logic and rhetoric but I know a because I said so argument when I see it.

But we got into this battle of the egos on a hair splitting side issue.

This whole thing came up when I pointed out there will soon be more muslims than jews in this country and that the current political consensus was not set in stone. Wahabi or wasabi, that doesn't change that demographic fact. How soon the political influence of Muslims in America will be felt is a matter of question. You brought up several. But the political equation in regards to the MidEast is changing.

At any rate, I did get unfairly rough with you here--as in the quote clavdivs so slavishly reprinted--because you got so personal and nasty with amberglow. He didn't bring Bush up out of Bush hatred but because one Muslim political organization which endorsed Bush in 2000 was expressly not going to endorse him in 2004 for quite understandable reasons. That was from his example. And you went ballistic and irrational, apparently without even clicking on his link. I was reacting to that. Unfortunately in kind.

I don't mind any of us expressing lofty disdain at each other's opinions--that's fine. I may have my lapses but I would like to avoid the gratuitous put downs. In response to constant attack is another thing entirely... At any rate, I don't get that you are constatnly attacking me.

clavdivs, kablam and I have crossed swords and gotten nasty at times but I don't get the personal animus and ill will from him that I am getting from you. I don't get from him that he's trying to shut me up.

From you I do. You are on a personal crusade here to prove me wrong on any point possible--no matter how petty or inconsequential--in any thread. You have a problem. I have pursued people here in the past myself--something of which I am not proud. But, never as often and as repetitively, never on the scale you have shown these last few weeks. I'm just words on a screen--why are you getting so ugly and personal? Why am I so important to you?
posted by y2karl at 10:38 AM on February 3, 2004


you may want to be more specific as to whom you are addressing karl. I don't give a rats ass about you, i just want to see you admit your wrong. Don't fucking moralize now you sad sack of boo-hoo.
posted by clavdivs at 7:01 AM on February 4, 2004


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