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The Apartheid Wall continues.
June 14, 2004 4:02 PM   Subscribe

The Apartheid Wall continues. Haaretz reports that Israel will soon begin construction of the wall around the illegal settlement of Ariel , deep inside the West Bank, stealing thousands of acres of Palestinian farmland in the process.
posted by Ty Webb (65 comments total)

 
Damn you, amberglow!
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:26 PM on June 14, 2004


AMONG THE SETTLERS
by JEFFREY GOLDBERG
The New Yorker


I asked her how she could let her son play amid the barbed wire and soldiers and barricades, and with snipers in the hills above.
“Hebron is ours,” she said. “Why shouldn’t he play?”
“Because he could get killed,” I said.
“There’s a bullet out there for each one of us,” she said. “But you can always die. At least his death here would sanctify God’s name.”
Cohen and other settlers say that they are obliged to fulfill God’s command that Jews settle the land of Israel. But there are safer places to live than King David Street in Hebron. I asked Cohen how she reconciled her decision to settle here with an even greater imperative of Judaism, the saving of lives—in this case, those of her children.
She glared at me. “Hellenizers”—secular Jews—“will never understand,” she said with contempt.
Anat Cohen is known, even among Hebron’s Jews, who are some of the least placatory of all the settlers, for her ferocity. According to Army commanders, she has cursed and insulted soldiers, and assaulted Arabs. The first time we met, she told me that she was a soldier of God.
Cohen has about ten children—like certain religious Jews, she refused to specify the number, in order to confuse the evil eye. The Cohen house is cramped and dark, and there are few toys. On one wall hangs a framed photograph of Meir Kahane, the zealot rabbi from Brooklyn, who advocated the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel. Behind a stone pillar hangs a photograph of Baruch Goldstein, with the inscription “The Saint Dr. Goldstein.”


Goldstein is, of course, the Brooklyn-Born former Israely Army physician who killed 29 Muslims during their Friday prayers, February 25th, 1994, in the Cave of the Patriarchs, a Hebron
posted by matteo at 4:26 PM on June 14, 2004


Damn you, amberglow!
this is very funny : >

Is Sharon safe, jobwise? and what happens to this wall thing if he's out? was it a popular plan to begin with?

And this guy is right--it's awful: Nawaf Suf, a PA liaison official from the Salfit area said yesterday: "We all know that expropriated land will never be returned to its owners, even if not even a centimeter of the separation fence is ever built ... The fence will promote development of the settlements, whereas it will cut off and destroy life in local Palestinian villages, whose residents will become hostages."
posted by amberglow at 4:50 PM on June 14, 2004


I'd just like to point out that the slow-but-steady Israeli colonization strategy bears an uncanny resemblance to a slow, determined strategy developed and implemented quite successfully in Ulster in Ireland during the early-to-mid 17th century. Back then it was called Plantation.

Ir proved to be a remarkably successful and profitable strategy for the London capital enterprises that financed it. By displacing and balkanizing the autochthonous population, it slowly yet irreversibly transformed a centre of political and armed resistance to expanding English rule in Ireland into one of its most reliable territories.

In point of fact, the strategy proved so successful that it was soon tried on a vaster scale in the settlements in the New English colonies of north America.

Of course, as recent experiences in Ulster have demonstrated, some "solutions" have a habit of unravelling.
posted by meehawl at 5:00 PM on June 14, 2004


You know, if conservatives wanted liberals like me to be more supportive of the Israeli government, they'd realize we have to take turns: first they have to join me in condemning these steps that Israel takes to guarantee there will never be a peace accord and a Palestinian state. In turn, once there's two agreed-on states I'll be the first to join the conservatives and support any defense of Israel's borders.

Make borders first. And stick with them. Now.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:06 PM on June 14, 2004


did you faint when you used that word, meehawl?
posted by PigAlien at 5:28 PM on June 14, 2004


Without getting into a big thing about any of this, I would note two things: 1. The New Yorker article has a lot of faults with it and has been answered in a few places.2. Aparthide? Arabs within Israel proper have equal rights and can vote and hold office etc; those arabs not within Israel (occupied area taken in war and not yet seettled with any peace accord)_ come under military law rather than Israeli civil law. Now go at as you will.
posted by Postroad at 5:30 PM on June 14, 2004


> 1. The New Yorker article has a lot of faults with it and has been
> answered in a few places.

Where? I'd be interested to read about the faults.

./A
posted by NewBornHippy at 5:36 PM on June 14, 2004


Aparthide? Arabs within Israel proper have equal rights and can vote and hold office etc;

False. Israeli Arabs face constant discrimination in their own homeland. They are expected to pay the same amount of taxes, but receive a small fraction of public services. They are harassed when trying to vote, often by "flying checkpoints" which the Israeli police set up specifically for that purpose. They are denied building permits for their own property so that new Jewish housing can be built on land which they own.

those arabs not within Israel (occupied area taken in war and not yet seettled with any peace accord)_ come under military law rather than Israeli civil law.

Actually, they come under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions.
posted by Ty Webb at 5:51 PM on June 14, 2004


err, Convention.
posted by Ty Webb at 5:51 PM on June 14, 2004


Posty, there's no denying the actual settler quotes.
using Bronze Age oral (and then written) traditions as a primer to year-2004 geography and border-drawing is just... crazy. you are many things, but probably not crazy. I'm surprised you're still defending the settlers.
not to mention, way too many Israeli kids have died these last 37 years to defend settlements and outposts. if you support these guys you place yourself farther to the right than even a chunk of Israel's own right wing.

the article always makes very plain something the, ahem, US liberal media rarely mentions: hardline religious settlers are an actual minority of the whole settler phenomenon. the Israeli govt has subsidized settlements with dirt-cheap, good housing for ages. using the poorest Israeli as human placemats, to physically occupy space in the West Bank, using cheap good housing to lure them in the Occupied Territories.
bah.
I'd just like to see Israel safe and sound, behind the Green Line. and two states, the Palestinian one being viable and not a nightmare of five boroughs surrounded by heavily armed settlements with Israeli-only highways running through them.
and possibly UN blue helmets helping defend the Green Line, or something very very close to it.

but then, I'm a secular goy. the war for the Book of Genesis is not my war, and never will be.

come under military law rather than Israeli civil law

bingo.
you just mentioned one of the most egregious abuses of the concept of equal rights under the law in this whole sorry mess. first-class people having their "portable" civil rights, second-class people dealing with a much harsher, unjust legislation.
so much for democracy in the MidEast
posted by matteo at 5:56 PM on June 14, 2004


Didn't Israel win this land "fair and square" in a war?

In WW I, France "beat" Germany and got more of Alsace-Lorraine.

In WW II, Russia beat Germany and gots parts of Poland.
Poland gots parts of Germany.

You start a war (as the Arabs did in 1948, 1967, 1973) and you LOSE. Therefore, you lose land.

This is Israel's land by right of conquest.
posted by davebarnes at 6:27 PM on June 14, 2004


This is Israel's land by right of conquest.

Okay, I'll play idiot-ball with you. If this is "Israel's land" then Israel should officially annex it and make Palestinian Arabs full Israeli citizens. OOPS! that would make Jews a minority in the Jewish State. Can't have that.
posted by Ty Webb at 6:38 PM on June 14, 2004


You start a war (as the Arabs did in 1948, 1967, 1973) and you LOSE. Therefore, you lose land.

Er, no. This isn't RISK, for fuck's sake.

This is Israel's land by right of conquest.

Um, I hate to break it to you, but 'right of conquest' sort of fell by the wayside in the aftermath of the Second World War. For obvious reasons, if you're vaguely aware of the history of that particular conflict. But if you consider the institutions and conventions which followed the Second World War 'quaint', and follow the precedent of the Old Testament, then I suppose anything goes. (As it largely does in the occupied territories, thanks to the support of the US.)

And what Ty Webb said: another reason why Israel doesn't annex the occupied territories is that annexation ain't done any more.

Makes a fun contrast to 'Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall', though.
posted by riviera at 6:40 PM on June 14, 2004


did you faint when you used that word, meehawl?

heh. I saw some poor kid spelling it on The Daily Show for a spelling bee and it just popped into my head.

I did have to look it up.

Twice.
posted by meehawl at 6:46 PM on June 14, 2004


(Of course, one reason why the right of conquest is considered anathema in the post-WWII international system is because of its association with such wonderful terms as lebensraum and Volkstadt. Ain't those Godwin moments ironic?)

But, from the preamble to UNSC Res. 242: 'Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security...'

Because regardless of who started it, Article II of the UN Charter hasn't been suspended.
posted by riviera at 6:51 PM on June 14, 2004


In WW II, Russia beat Germany and gots parts of Poland. Poland gots parts of Germany.

They built a wall then, too. That worked out great, didn't it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:31 PM on June 14, 2004


Didn't Israel win this land "fair and square" in a war?

Yep, a war fought on all three sides of the country simultaneously, against Jordan, Egypt, and Syria, who were aided by troops, weapons, and supplies from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and other Arab countries, further aided to a lesser degree by the USSR. We're talking about a quarter million Arab troops, half of them deployed in the Sinai Penninsula. The intention was to destroy Israel and its inhabitants, period. The desired end result was explicitly stated to be genocide. And no, as far as I'm aware, the US was not aiding Israel in that particular war. (In fact, Israel was busy aiding the US at that point in time, having been the first Western country to get their hands on a MiG, which they got from an Iraqi Christian who was facing job discrimination by his Iraqi Muslim bosses in the air force and who was tired of being forced to perform bombing runs on Iraqi Kurds. It's a neat story..)

Very surprisingly, Israel won, and in six days at that. The Arab states cried uncle and called in the UN--whose peacekeepers they had sent packing from the Sinai a week earlier in preparation for their invasion of Israel--to stop the whole thing. June 11th, three days ago, was the 37th anniversary of the end of the war. [self-link to a blog post I wrote on the anniversary]

The point being, I'm with davebarnes: you start five wars with your neighbor in a 55 year period, explicitly proclaiming your goal to be genocide without even the rhetorical figsleaf of lebensraum, and just maybe you should be punished a bit more than a slap on the hand in a nice diplomatically enlightened manner. It's a bit odd to invoke the sanctity of the UN charter when the point of this war, and others, was for the Arab states to ignore the UN charter that created Israel and to declare it null and void and, more importantly, dead.

Nevertheless, it might be a teensy bit important to point out that Israel offered to give the land back anyway; as The History Channel website puts it:
"The U.N. Security Council called for a withdrawal from all the occupied regions, but Israel declined, permanently annexing East Jerusalem and setting up military administrations in the occupied territories. Israel let it be known that Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai would be returned in exchange for Arab recognition of the right of Israel to exist and guarantees against future attack. Arab leaders, stinging from their defeat, met in August to discuss the future of the Middle East. They decided upon a policy of no peace, no negotiations, and no recognition of Israel, and made plans to zealously defend the rights of Palestinian Arabs in the occupied territories.

Egypt, however, would eventually negotiate and make peace with Israel, and in 1982 the Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in exchange for full diplomatic recognition of Israel. Egypt and Jordan later gave up their respective claims to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the Palestinians, who beginning in the 1990s opened "land for peace" talks with Israel. A permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement remains elusive, as does an agreement with Syria to return the Golan Heights."
The article has the dates wrong though--while the Sinai was fully transitioned back to Egypt in 1982, it started in 1979 with the Camp David Accords. The point being, they said they'd give the land back in exchange for diplomatic recognition. Only Egypt agreed to the deal--and Israel, in turn, gave the Sinai back. The sad thing is that if Jordan--who Israel is now relatively friendly with--had agreed to the deal back in '67, the West Bank might belong to Jordan today and the Palestinians would still be Jordanians and not stuck in a half-citizenship no-man's-land.

And just to sink even further into the typical morass of a MeFi I/P thread, I think it's a little one-sided to point out that a wall is being built and yet not point out why. Here's a hint: there's already a wall around the Gaza Strip, in place for over a year, and surprise surprise, suddenly not a single Palestinain suicide bomber has managed to get in from Gaza to kill Israelis. The West Bank wall is much more problematic, because it does grab some territory, but it offers Israel two things more important than land: greater security from Palestinian attacks and the ability to disengage from the population on the other side. The Gaza wall has been followed by a pullout (currently in progress) of many settlements, and even though the wall isn't complete in the West Bank yet, settlers are being asked to leave, even bribed by the government to leave. Bribed by the Sharon government, I should point out, who's gone so far as to sack some of his ultra-right-wing cabinet members who opposed the pullout. Not that he'll ever, ever get any credit for the move.

As to the Berlin Wall comparisons that inevitably crop up, they're disingenuous. The Berlin Wall was to keep people in who desparately wanted to leave. The Gaza and West Bank walls are to keep people out who desparately want to commit murder-by-suicide, or try for a sixth attempt at a genocidal war. Slight difference there.

Anyway, here's to hoping the new disengagement and settler pullout policy eventually leads to an actual Palestinian state, not just a wall-'em-off-and-forget-'em situation.
posted by Asparagirl at 7:54 PM on June 14, 2004


Asparagirl, I completely sympathize with what you're saying, but I keep getting tripped up by the fact that this new fence on the West Bank seems to be taking so much land. If Ariel is an illegal settlement, why enclose it in the security fence?
posted by subgenius at 8:10 PM on June 14, 2004


What about the people that used to travel to get to work? to college? to a hospital?
posted by amberglow at 8:16 PM on June 14, 2004


Asparagirl everything you say makes sense (one sided but logical, for example the 6-day-war was called a "war of choice" by Moshe Dayan, it's a lot more complex then "genocide war"!, another example of the fault in your argument is that it ignores the 'original sin' of founding a new country of immigrants in the middle of where other people were living, it can be argued that every war since has been in response to that original provocation, but still, your arguments are strong enough to be accepted as negotiation points by anyone who really wants to talk rationally and not just scream) except when you repeat the absolute canard that the wall is designed primarily for safety and security, and future peace. If it were, it would run more or less, with slight variations, along the '67 border, because that is the defensible land from a practical, moral, and legal standpoint. BUT IT IS NOT. It is being built to solidify the land-grabs of the settlers It's part of a long, long history of colonization that is still deciding just how much land it wants to steal.

It's really not that complicated-- a true security wall, one that defined a border, would be applauded by majorities on both sides. Instead you have a land grab with a side benefit of 'security'. I put security in quotes because only a just settlement will ever bring real, leasting security.
posted by cell divide at 8:19 PM on June 14, 2004


The Gaza and West Bank walls are to keep people out who desparately want to commit murder-by-suicide, or try for a sixth attempt at a genocidal war. Slight difference there.

Er, yeah, right. And every other possible justification (blatant land grabs, cementing the status of those occupied, restricting the access of those pesky Arab toilet-cleaners who might just get married when they've made it past the checkpoints) just don't exist, or are figments of our anti-semitic imaginations. Nice try.

Shall we compare it, instead, to a glorified version of the Peace Line in Londonderry? Will that offend you terribly?
posted by riviera at 8:48 PM on June 14, 2004


Not that he'll ever, ever get any credit for the move.

And I wonder why that might be? Might it be because it doesn't offset the long history of Likud granting excessive influence to fringe groups such as the NRP in order to sustain coalitions? (On a side-note, it's always amused me that past of the deal usually means that some of the more grotesquely bigoted right-wing members of the Israeli polity have ended up as 'tourism minister'.) It was bad enough in Britain when John Major relied upon Ian Paisley's vote to sustain a parliamentary majority; he never felt obliged to make him minister for tourism.

The sad thing is that if Jordan--who Israel is now relatively friendly with--had agreed to the deal back in '67, the West Bank might belong to Jordan today and the Palestinians would still be Jordanians and not stuck in a half-citizenship no-man's-land.

Primarily sad for those who say that there is a Palestinian state, and it is Jordan. Blame the idiotic line-drawing and assignation of thrones undertaken by the British and French (I do); blame the Balfour Declaration and the context of duplicitous equivocation in which it appeared (I do); blame generations raised on enmity (I do) since the 1940s; but just because it's compelling for some to sell up in Brooklyn or Kiev and raise the kids in the West Bank doesn't make it all lickity-spit for Palestinians to 'belong to Jordan'.

Look at your terminology, Asparagirl: 'belong'? That's the language of possession, and while perhaps possession is better than being dispossessed, citizenship and national identity is a matter of self-possession: something that's possibly ought to be clearer to Jews than most, given that they have the right not just to belong to Israel as well as their native country, but to be a part of her. A desparately hard-earned privilege (and hard-suffered and hard-fought; truly, my intention is not to diminish it) but one that really ought to be recognised as such by those who have the right to two passports, as opposed to none.
posted by riviera at 9:09 PM on June 14, 2004


Here is a review of
How Israel Lost - The Four Questions
by Richard Ben Cramer:

A Friend's Lament

During the 1980’s, Cramer said he was optimistic about a peaceful solution. Israel could give up the territories, which would involve a fight with other Jews—the right-wing settlers—but they then were few in number. Or it could try to kill or expel millions of Arabs, which was “a tad Nazi-ish.” Or it could hang on to the land and develop a policy of apartheid. The logic of the first choice was compelling—however, a conflict with other Jews was distasteful. But abrupt end of the Cold War and the arrival of a million “Jewish” immigrants from the Soviet Union suddenly made option three possible, at least for a while, and that is what the state has done.

Yet Cramer believes a peace is still possible. Palestinians are not especially religious and not committed to religious-based Jew-hatred; the conflict is entirely about land. Widespread anti-Israeli terrorism began only after Israel committed itself to a wholesale policy of expanding settlements, assassinations, and land appropriation—that is when expansion of Israeli settlement of the West Bank became the driving impulse of the Jewish state.

Cramer is one of the very few authors to deflate the myth of Ehud Barak’s “perfect” peace offer at Camp David in 2000 —97 percent of the land, an offer that Arafat rejected as “less than a Bantustan, for your information.” Arafat and his cronies usually appear as self-serving thugs in Cramer’s narrative, and yet on this question the PA chairman had a point. What Barak offered was to keep 6 percent of the West Bank, give the Palestinians 3 percent from some Israeli desert. The so-called nation of Palestine was to consist of three separate ghettoes, each walled off by Israeli checkpoints and bases—so a citizen of “Palestine” couldn’t go about his country without Israeli permission. In addition, Israel proposed to keep military bases on the far (Jordan) side of “Palestine” and control of the aquifers and the new nation’s scarce water supply. Cramer acidly comments that the Barak proposal would have allowed Israel to continue the occupation policy under another name, “Palestine.”

And yet, since the issue is territory (and honor), compromise remains possible. It would center on a slogan everyone knows would be a winner—Give Back the Land. Not the land “except for the settlements,” or the land “except for the bases,” but all of it. Of course one can hear all the think-tank experts decrying the idea as simplistic or worse. But I am with Cramer here—such a step would transform the Middle East (and America’s now wretched image there) —and make Israel a better country as well.


Another review: No Escaping Blame

Cramer's tropes on the Four Questions asked on Passover are

Why do we care about Israel?
Why don't the Palestinians have a state?
What is a Jewish State?
Why is there no peace?


You can hear him here:

Scott Simon interviews Cramer on Weekend Edition, June 12, 2004
posted by y2karl at 10:11 PM on June 14, 2004


Shall we compare it, instead, to a glorified version of the Peace Line in Londonderry? Will that offend you terribly?

I for one am glad someone else has noticed the similarities between the religious-cultural clash of the Scots Irish vs the Hiberno-Irish and the clash between "Palestinians" and "Israelis".

Who are the indigeneous Palestinians, after all, but descendents of the aboriginal inhabitants of Israel and its environs. Millenia ago many of them were Jewish, but over time and through conquest and assimilation, many Hellenized, or converted to Christianity or Islam, or inter-married with immigrating Arabs.

Similarly, the largely Presbyterian Scots Irish emigrated from Ulster to Scotland (then called Pictland!) as Gaelic Christians during the early medieval period. Following a long period of conquest they eventually came to dominate Scotland. Many centuries later hordes of them were lured into settling back in Ulster as colonists. During their colonizations they undoubtedly displaced many people with whom they were probably unsuspectingly related.

So too it is with Israelis and Palestinians. One characterization of the Zionist project of population transfer has been the continual influx of "returnees" descended from those Israelis who emigrated centuries ago to avoid persecution or economic conquest.

I think it's somewhat sad that they are probably displacing from their lands many descendents of those who decided not to emigrate from Israel but instead either chose consciously to convert from Judaism or were converted through exogamous marriage.

Of course, I am aware that many ultra-religious fundamentalists would see the "Palestinians" as having voided their "claim" to land in that region by virtue of their ancestors breaking their contract with the Great Realtor In The Sky...

Many national labels are social constructions, but I think that the labels of "Israelis" and "Palestinians" and "Israeli Arabs" are perhaps the most questionable. I find it unsurprising within the context of the reproduction of the idea of the "States" of Israel and Palestine that it takes such continual barbarous violence from all sides and the creation of stark physical constructs such as Walls to continually reinforce these stereotypical labels.
posted by meehawl at 10:35 PM on June 14, 2004


Of course, I neglected to mention that during their sojurn in Scotland, the Scots Irish became converted to a Calvinistic branch of Christianity that served to set them apart easily from the mainly Roman Catholic Hiberno-Irish who they displaced to create their settlements. Thus a religious-spriritual element was and is deployed to justify the "granting" of the land of Ulster to the settlers. It's a kind of Scottish Manifest Destiny.
posted by meehawl at 10:41 PM on June 14, 2004


Asparagirl, I completely sympathize with what you're saying, but I keep getting tripped up by the fact that this new fence on the West Bank seems to be taking so much land. If Ariel is an illegal settlement, why enclose it in the security fence?

That's the sticking point--are the settlements illegal in the first place? Or, as davebarnes pointed out, when you lose a war that you and your buddies started, might you not lose the land you were using as a a launchpad for your bombings? Especially if you rejected years of chances to get the land back, which would only have required your acknowledging that the country you attacked exists?

Dave's point, and mine, is that regardless of the question of whether the West Bank should remain Israeli land, for thirty-seven years it has been and is Israeli land. Not because of any creepy religiously-motivated sand-worship, but as an acknowledgment of what the political realities are. Funneling Israeli taxpayer money to create and fund the settlements all these years was stupid and wasteful and just asking for trouble and not condusive to securing a real peace in the region--but was not illegitimate or illegal. Jordan lost the war they started and never accepted the offered peace terms; it's Israeli land. As riviera said, this isn't a board game like RISK; your choices and your country's choices--like attacking your neighbor for the umpteenth time--have consequences, and sometimes they're not pretty.

And that's the main point of contention, really. You either accept that Israel won the land in a war that was not of their choosing and where good-faith offers to return the land were rejected and where Jordan gave up their claim on the territory and its inhabitants--but didn't deign to give them back their Jordanian citizenship or re-absorb/relocate them. (Why would they, when less than a year later, in late 1968, Jordan had to start dealing with the "Black September" Palestinian terrorists who ended up killing a number of their officials, including their own prime minister, and who tried to overthrow King Hussein?) Or you claim that no matter the prevarication for the war or the post-war political realities, land that was previously a part of Jordan must remain Jew-free, and that cities and enclaves that had been multi-religious for millenia, like Bethlehem--sorry, make that "Beit Lechem"--cannot "legitimately" have Jews live there too.

Israel doesn't have to give up any of the land to create a new ill-defined ill-led pseudo-country that's probably just going to attack them anyway as soon as Independence is granted. But it's going to, and the process is finally starting, despite very strong opposition from the religious nuts (like Shas) who are to Sharon's/Likud's right. If the price of getting even a settlement-happy guy like Sharon to be on board with such a radical change in Israeli policy is that a small number of the highly-populated longer-established settlements--now actual cities--don't uproot when all the other ones do, that's still a huge improvement over the status quo. I just don't think it's feasible that all of the expansion and growth during the past 37 years is going to be ceded over to a nascent Palestine. That so much of it is is at least a good place to start.

(A minor correction to my earlier post: all of the Gaza settlements are being pulled out, not just "some", as well as all of the military stations, and the checkpoints are also being moved farther north towards the '67 borders. Tentative plans are for a combination of Egyptian forces, the EU, and the UN to provide the military protection/security for the region once Israel is fully pulled out, probably by late next year.)
posted by Asparagirl at 12:49 AM on June 15, 2004


for example the 6-day-war was called a "war of choice" by Moshe Dayan

Uh, no, cell divide, it was Menachem Begin, not Moshe Dayan, who called the early 1980's fight in Lebanon, not the 1967 Six Day War, a "war of choice". He was directly contrasting it with previous wars (including '67) which were "back against the wall" wars for the country's survival.

(Although I have seen post-80's scholarship that applies the "war of choice" appelation to other wars, like '56--but that's both retroactive and debatable.)
posted by Asparagirl at 1:03 AM on June 15, 2004


another example of the fault in your argument is that it ignores the 'original sin' of founding a new country of immigrants in the middle of where other people were living...

[sigh] Back to the whole "fundamental right of Israel to exist" issue (and exist in that particular spot on the planet, as opposed to somewhere more convenient for everyone, like Alaska or Grand Island, in upstate New York). Or the minor issue that being an ethnic/religious minority in almost every other country, even if the Jews fully saw themselves as being Dutch/German/Romanian/whatever, still led to centuries of on-again off-again persecution based on how others perceived them. Or that, post-WWII, there was simply nowhere else for surviving European and North African Jews to go--going back to live sans community among the people who collaborated in killing their families was not an option, and even the US weren't taking in a whole lot of refugees. (I'm not touching the religious basis for Zionism stuff, mind you, not being a big believer in it myself.)

You're right that "it can be argued that every war since has been in response to that original provocation". But I would say that the soultion is not for Israel to therefore bend over backwards to play nice with countries that want it dead, in the hope that they'll mellow out someday, but for the countries to finally recognize Israel's right to exist, that it isn't going away, that leaving it out of maps and textbooks won't magically make it so. In short, it requires their recognizing reality and dropping their dreams of a Middle East where all Jews are either dead, deported, or long-suffering dhimmis. I'm not holding my breath. But getting to a point where an independent (and hopefully democratic) Palestine is a reality would be a big step in the right direction.
posted by Asparagirl at 1:41 AM on June 15, 2004


[sigh]

"Funneling Israeli taxpayer money to create and fund the settlements all these years was stupid and wasteful"

???
"Israeli taxpayer money"? this is a whopper, ever for your standards. it's either a Freudian lapse (you meant to write "US taxpayer money" and it came out "Israeli" because the two nations are one and the same in your Likudnik dreams) or an appalling lack of sense of proportion.
want me to link -- again -- the actual numbers of the US funding of the Israeli occupation?

you haven't addressed riviera's points, by the way.
the West Bank is Israel because Israel conquered it? OK. then _everybody_'s a citizen, let's have an election. you're strangely eager to see newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister Yasir Arafat live on CNN, saluting his newly-Israeli supporters, I suppose.

it's either two States (one with defensible borders, one viable ie not a jigsaw puzzle of little bantustans), or the current slaughter going on forever (nice chunks of the Israeli military seem to be quite appalled at the occupation, too, at this point. and they're not the classic doves, I assume)

oh, there's a third option actually: Israel ethnic-cleanses the West Bank and Gaza, killing and relocating (where? in US-friendly, liberated Iraq? Jordan?) the Palestinians.
do you like this third option? is massive ethnic cleansing (or genocide) acceptable policy for a State like Israel, in your mind? I thought that Israel was supposed to be all about the opposite of ethnic cleansing, at least once upon a time. but then, I'm not a Likudnik.

"as an acknowledgment of what the political realities are"

buses blowing up all over Israel proper are a political reality of these last few years, as well. a bad, bad, bad Israeli economy is a "political reality", too.
being a "political reality" does not make something desirable by definition, I'll say. malnourished Palestinian kids (or do you call them "Jordyptians", asparagirl?) are a "political reality", too. this fetish for "reality in the field" is pretty self-serving, actually


"where an independent (and hopefully democratic) Palestine "

your massive condescension towards those unruly Palestinians would be more tasteful if it wasn't accompanied by your support for things like collective punishment, absence of due process, execution without trial, bombing of whole inhabited apartment buildings to snuff out one single person.
you can't brag about teaching democracy when you act like the law -- and war crimes -- simply don't exist. just sayin'

your lack-of-democratic-process detector seems to shut down a lot, always in favor of the same side. surprise surprise
posted by matteo at 3:56 AM on June 15, 2004


I think Israel should announce a simple policy: 1% of the West Bank tentatively given back for every 100 consecutive days without a terrorist attack on Isreali civilians, with that 1% vesting after a year of no subsequent attacks. Palestinians earn self-governance by demonstrating self-control.
posted by MattD at 7:33 AM on June 15, 2004


Asparagirl: That's the sticking point--are the settlements illegal in the first place? Or, as davebarnes pointed out, when you lose a war that you and your buddies started, might you not lose the land you were using as a a launchpad for your bombings? Especially if you rejected years of chances to get the land back, which would only have required your acknowledging that the country you attacked exists?

Who is "you"? I think most people are less concerned with the governments that fought Israel than the former citizens of those governments who are currently living in the West Bank. I am increasingly skeptical of a two-state solution, because I don't know whether Palestine will be feasible once Israel finishes carving out sections of the West Bank to protect settlers. Looking at maps, do you really believe a Palestinian state will have much of a chance, given the way this is shaping up?

Personally, I would prefer to see a single-state solution where everyone has the same rights. It isn't enough to say that Arab Israelis have the same rights (in theory) as Jewish Israelis. Give everyone the vote.
posted by subgenius at 7:40 AM on June 15, 2004


Israel could make this whole process vastly more efficient through the development of an immobilizing nutrient spray which would paralyze Palestinians and yet keep them fully alive, entombed and incapable of further aggression against Israel - or anything at all, for that matter.

Giant goo-cannons could just squirt the stuff over the entire West Bank. In time, the entombed Palestinians would die natural deaths and Israeli right wing settlers could then move in.
posted by troutfishing at 7:51 AM on June 15, 2004


OK. then _everybody_'s a citizen, let's have an election. you're strangely eager to see newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister Yasir Arafat live on CNN, saluting his newly-Israeli supporters, I suppose.

What, something like the current Palestinian "elections?" Arafat may well be chairman of the world then. How about we rid the region of terrorists and those who make their living through violence (such as your pal Arafat, on both counts), free the Palestinian civilians from the reign of fear and incitement of hate, violence, and religious fanaticism, and convince them and the world that the bastards aren't coming back? Now how about *Israel* do all that, because the current Palestinian "leadership" sure isn't going to help? Then we can have a fair election, no?

Or better yet, let's make more completely unfeasible proposals, in the hopes that no one will notice the slack we've been cutting the band of thugs now terrorizing Israel *and* Palestinians.


I thought that Israel was supposed to be all about the opposite of ethnic cleansing, at least once upon a time. but then, I'm not a Likudnik.

It's funny to see your constant demonization of the thousands of members of the Likud. You equate them to rabid animals every time you mention them, yet throw a fit at any perceived generalization of those Palestinians who support terrorists. Hold that double standard high.


Oh, and by all means, don't respond seriously. All you need is dishonest sarcasm, the phrase "well we must all be anti-Semites then," and the word "camelfuckers" to insinuate racism somewhere. Mix well and regurgitate for an easy rebuttal recipe. Don't forget to claim that you've "blown up" a troll.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:32 AM on June 15, 2004


I think Israel should announce a simple policy: 1% of the West Bank tentatively given back for every 100 consecutive days without a terrorist attack on Isreali civilians, with that 1% vesting after a year of no subsequent attacks. Palestinians earn self-governance by demonstrating self-control.

Sure, and meanwhile Israel continues the occupation, daily harassment, house demolitions, land theft, that is, the very things which incite terror. But it's up to the Palestinians to control themselves. Right.

You either accept that Israel won the land in a war that was not of their choosing and where good-faith offers to return the land were rejected and where Jordan gave up their claim on the territory and its inhabitants--but didn't deign to give them back their Jordanian citizenship or re-absorb/relocate them. (Why would they, when less than a year later, in late 1968, Jordan had to start dealing with the "Black September" Palestinian terrorists who ended up killing a number of their officials, including their own prime minister, and who tried to overthrow King Hussein?) Or you claim that no matter the prevarication for the war or the post-war political realities, land that was previously a part of Jordan must remain Jew-free, and that cities and enclaves that had been multi-religious for millenia, like Bethlehem--sorry, make that "Beit Lechem"--cannot "legitimately" have Jews live there too.

Give me a break, the false choice you've proposed here is obvious. Who here has come close to suggesting that the West Bank should remain "Jew-free"? And claiming, as you do, that Israel deals in "good faith" (all the while continuing to build settlements, of course) reveals a near-total break with reality.

Israel doesn't have to give up any of the land to create a new ill-defined ill-led pseudo-country that's probably just going to attack them anyway as soon as Independence is granted.

Leaving aside the clear culpability of Israel in all of those conditions you stated, why was Palestine expected to give up half of its territory to create a religiously-defined, terrorist-led country that would expel them from their homes and property as soon as statehood was granted?
posted by Ty Webb at 9:04 AM on June 15, 2004


Who is "you"? I think most people are less concerned with the governments that fought Israel than the former citizens of those governments who are currently living in the West Bank. I am increasingly skeptical of a two-state solution, because I don't know whether Palestine will be feasible once Israel finishes carving out sections of the West Bank to protect settlers. Looking at maps, do you really believe a Palestinian state will have much of a chance, given the way this is shaping up?

I think the talk about what "belongs" to Israel is the most significant point here. The pro-Israel side can't have it both ways. If there's "conquered land" then Israel should take it, right now. Either keep the people there and make them citizens or expunge them. Israel wants a strategy that prevents either of these, and it's frankly a form of torture to both settlers and refugees in the disputed land.

What's so suicidal about this is the right-wing leadership in Israel playing ignorant to the belief that this strategy will go on forever. Part of me seriously believes Sharon would love for Hamas to get a nuke and set it off in Tel Aviv just to give him the final excuse to declare full-sclae war on the West Bank and take everything without the international condemnation of genocide that would result from trying to force several million people out of their homes.

What I've posed is a horiffic statement, but it's really the only "positive" end result for Israel in this standstill. In the current climate, Israel faces the following disadvantages: they are losing- rapidly- the population growth battle. Rival Arab nations are seeking, and will eventually acquire, nuclear technology capable of instantly equalizing Israel's military superadvantage. Arafat will, in the near future, pass away, leaving a power vacuum depriving Israel of a centralized scapegoat, and the chances of organized negotiation from Palestinian parties in the near future.

Israel's best-case scenario right now is settlement with Palestine, followed by the inevitable shift towards Palestinians demanding Israeli soverignty, followed by actions of unspeakable casualties. Why Sharon thinks escalating towards the latter by removing chances for the former is worth a few hundred acres of land is beyond me.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:11 AM on June 15, 2004


Asparagirl:


"In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."
--Menachin Begin, August 8, 1982. (link)

It seems that you have a double standard in your argument. On the one hand, you want 'context' to explain the wall, but on the other hand, you expect people to accept the idea that all the wars Israel has fought were against bloodthirsty savages who wanted genocide-- in other words you want Israel's founding and existance to exist without the very context you require from others to explain the wall. It's a total double standrd.

As for In short, it requires their recognizing reality and dropping their dreams of a Middle East where all Jews are either dead, deported, or long-suffering dhimmis. I'm not holding my breath.

The Arab countries have been floating such a plan for the past few years, which involves total diplomatic recognition in exchange for a return to the more-or-less 1967 borders. Powell and Bush had called this a very positive step. But think about it the way real Israeli politicians (not the populace) see it-- why should they give up any land in exchange for diplomatic recognition from a bunch of countries who total GDP is less then France? Peace means giving up land, or losing a Jewish majority, while low-level conflict means a Jewish country, more land, and the long-term prospect of finally realizing the Zionist dream and driving all the Palestinians out of Greater Israel, either by violence or fear of violence as in 1948, or because of economic deprivation. If you were a hard core nationalist in a country founded on hard core nationalism, which route would you chose? The short term 'peace' with an enemy that will always have designs on the land they lost in 1948, or a long term war with relatively low casulaties on your side but with the long-term promise of total victory and strength?

In my opinion, there will never be a diplomatic solution to the problem until another force (USA is the only one who could do it) imposes one. This is why Israel rightly focuses so much energy on influencing US politicians and media, and seems to totally disregard the opinions of the rest of the world... as long as the US approves most every Israeli policy, there will never be peace, just grinding low-level conflict where Israelis are frightened and Palestinians have a subsistence lifestyle. The problem for the rest of the world is that the suffering of the Palestinians reverberates far beyond Palestine.
posted by chaz at 10:03 AM on June 15, 2004


following the Haaretz link that started this thread, I got a pop-up for
this site
.
I thought it was kind of amusingly ironic...
posted by Badmichelle at 10:47 AM on June 15, 2004


You either accept that Israel won the land in a war

You're right - this is the main point of contention. The right of territory by conquest has been explicitly ruled out by all UN members since 1945, mainly out of revulsion stemming from the Nazi, Italian, Japanese, and Soviet land grabs of the 1930s and early 1940s.

This rejection of conquest as an instrument of policy is what sets the latter part of the 20th century apart from the first half, and from the Colonial land grabs of the 19th centuries. Instead of annexations, now the transfer of land from one poltical entity to another is presumed to come about through self-will and local governance, and a mutual agreement between contracting parties.

I do find it interesting that Zionism, which remains fundamentally a product of mid-19th century democratic socialism, is one of the few influential ideologies extant that still mainly believes in the legitimacy of acquiring territory through conquest.
posted by meehawl at 10:57 AM on June 15, 2004


Well, now that the arguing about what was and what is, is at an impasse, let me posit what is in progress for the future.
First of all, Israel loves the wall, because it has almost entirely stopped attacks (except where it hasn't been built yet.) So they will not tear it down, no how.
Second, Israel is making a deal with both Egypt and Jordan to police, respectively, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. There is even a little friendly haggling going on between E and J over who gets what. J is actively trying to bribe Palestinian leaders with villas in Amman, so they will have to take Jordanian citizenship.
This means that E and J will administer those lands. And they will NOT tolerate any foolishness from the Palestinians. If they make trouble, they, and most likely their families, will be killed outright. Intifadah rioters will be machine gunned.
They will also seriously put down both Hamas and Fatah, and any Hizbollah that enters either "protectorate" will be shot on sight. Then they will set up their own puppet Palestinian leadership. And odds are they will start to push Palestinians living in Egypt and Jordan back into "The Two Palestines" proper. Right of *forced* return.

Ironically, the Palestinians will for once get peace, considerably more prosperity, and the money sent to help them develop, or at least a good proportion of it, will actually be *used* for development, rather than squirreled away in Yassir Arafat's bank account in France.
posted by kablam at 11:25 AM on June 15, 2004


First of all, Israel loves the wall, because it has almost entirely stopped attacks (except where it hasn't been built yet.) So they will not tear it down, no how.

Asymmetrical resistance warfare is highly adaptive, and successful strategies reproduce quickly. Israel has changed the environment within which this mechanism operates, and this may curtail certain activities in the short term. but it's a short-term fix.

If recent history has taught us anything it is that with modern technologies of decentralized decision making (cell-based networks) and the increasing efficiency and lethality of personal weaponry, a sustained campaign for self-determination will endure and become increasingly successful.

The tragedy in Israel/Palestine is that we see (at least) two mutually opposing struggles for tribal self-determination facing off against each other with almost mutually exclusionary goals and limited room for manoeuvre or compromise.

In other States where this has happened and federalist or devolutionary solutions have proved unworkable they have often descended into unproductive, internecine warfare and civil strife. We have begun to call these "Failed States".
posted by meehawl at 12:16 PM on June 15, 2004


two mutually opposing struggles for tribal self-determination facing off against each other

Not really. You see one struggle to create a religious nationa state comletely thrashing another effort to just survive.

If this is "Israel's land" then Israel should officially annex it and make Palestinian Arabs full Israeli citizens. OOPS! that would make Jews a minority in the Jewish State. Can't have that.

Nailed it! The ethnic gerrymandering that's going on is ridiculous. Pack more and more Palestinian arabs into smaller and smaller areas while expanding "soldier of god" jewish settlements and inviting more jews to come to Israel.

Unfortunately, it isn't going to work. Arabs already outnumber jews in greater israel, and arab birthrates are higher. It was reported that in 2003 more jews left Israel than were replaced by immigration - for the first time ever.

So where is it going? A secular state where all of these people can live together equally. One man. One vote. This whole concept of a "jewish homeland" is great. And this secular nation can be that homeland. It doesn't have to be a "jewish state," a fantasy which is on life support right now, and only achievably by this kind of apartheid.

Didn't Germany experience a similar drive to ethnically cleanse its borders, driven by some concept like "we are the real people, these others must go?" It's got to be an Aryan nation? Something like that?
posted by scarabic at 12:32 PM on June 15, 2004


Not really. You see one struggle to create a religious nationa state comletely thrashing another effort to just survive.

I was being charitable. You left out the "at least". I think I'd count secular Jewish old-school Zionists and ultra-orthodox religious expansionists as separate tribes with differing agenda that happen to coincide many goals at present. But this may not always be the case as some recent political developments in Israel show.

Similarly, there are several elements within Palestine that share little except ethnic identity. There are radical Islamist expanionists versus radical Islamist non-expansionists versus secular expansionists versus secular non-expanionists.

Arabs already outnumber jews in greater israel, and arab birthrates are higher.

I keep using Irish analogies, mainly because Northern Ireland is, like Israel, a product of late British Empire political manoeuvring and post-Colonial cultural imperatives. Nationalists in Ireland have been eagerly awaiting their demographic "timebomb" in Ulster for around a hundred years now. Like the demise of social security, this is a horizon that usually recedes due to politicking and population transfers.

I think pinning your hopes for resolution on a demographic fait accompli is dangerous: demography has a weird habit of not behaving in the long run as you'd like it, and even when it does, the allegiances of large sections of the population can and do change over time.

The experience of apartheid in South Africa showed that a determined racist minority can dominate a both their own ethnic group and a vaster ethnic minority for generations. Demographics is no panacea.
posted by meehawl at 2:08 PM on June 15, 2004


May that wall be built high, strong, and wide. And may it stay in place until Moslem societies figure out how to be democratic and civilized--or, until said societies cease being Moslem--whichever comes first!
posted by ParisParamus at 2:33 PM on June 15, 2004


Radical Islamist Expansionist: guy who manages to rebuild and winterize one room of his house after it's bulldozed.

ba-dum-bump!

figure out how to be democratic and civilized

Gee, well, they're going to have to recover from colonialism first. And western funding of sympathetic dictatorships isn't helping the democracy thing. Reagan arms Saddam. Bush topples Saddam. 15 years of crippling sanctions in between. We love the Taliban! Fight Russia, Taliban! We hate the Taliban! We love the Northern Alliance! We support Israel: a militarized nuclear theocracy which practices apartheid.

We're just sowing the seeds of Democracy wherever we go! When are all those Moslems going to pull their heads out of their asses?
posted by scarabic at 3:47 PM on June 15, 2004


May that wall be built high, strong, and wide.

The current willingness of large numbers of Israelis to wall themselves in and segregate themselves from their neighbours reminds me uncomfortably of my reading of the history of the establishment of the German, Swiss, and Jewish ghettoes in medieval Venice.
posted by meehawl at 4:27 PM on June 15, 2004


Except that the Israelis are chosing this as a defense measure; and, with the exception of Nazi Germany, the Jews of Europe were never confronted with the level of barbarism found amongst those calling the shots in the Arab and Muslim world.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:37 PM on June 15, 2004


The very purpose of walls is misunderstood. Historically, the "great walls", such as Hadrian's and the Great Wall of China were built *not* to keep invaders out, but to make the transit of fast moving "raiders" more difficult. The walls were just there to slow them down enough for a reaction force to arrive. Comparisons to the "Iron Curtain" are flawed, and calling it an "Aparthied" wall is ridiculous.

The flip side to the coin is having the Egyptians and the Jordanians police the Palestinians, replacing chaos with order. In other words, all the endless violent factions will be controlled or eliminated, and if *anything* bad happens, then the Egyptians or Jordanians can be blamed *directly*.
The importance of this cannot be underestimated.
While Arafat can order attacks yet deny responsibility, Mubarek cannot do so.
A lack of order would make Mubarek look "weak", and it would threaten billions of dollars of US aid. He would have no incentive, at all, to let the Palestinians cut up rough.
Best of all, the Egyptians could crush Palestinian violence with a degree of brutality that Israel could never do--for they are "brother" Moslems. And based on his background, I would not doubt for a minute that Mubarek's wrath would be a terrible thing, indeed.

So the Israelis, Egyptians and Jordanians get what they really want, and the Palestinians are *forced* to take what is good for them, no matter what they want.
posted by kablam at 5:10 PM on June 15, 2004


Except that the Israelis are chosing this as a defense measure

The Swiss, Germans, and Jews of Venice initially viewed their ghettoes as defensible advantages. At least, at first. Xenophobia in Venice was peaking and "foreigners" were liable to attack at any time. In several cases, the "foreigners" managed to fight off concerted attacks from various political elements due to the strong fortifications or other geographical advantages of the ghettoes. And even then, there were some "foreigners" calling for stronger walls and more rigid ghettoes, while others decried the desirability of a prolonged segregation that reinforced stereotyping and provoked distrust and suspicion in their neighbours.

with the exception of Nazi Germany, the Jews of Europe were never confronted with the level of barbarism found amongst those calling the shots in the Arab and Muslim world

Obviously you have managed to avoid reading a lot of European history. The myth of modern exceptionalism is powerfully deceptive.

posted by meehawl at 5:14 PM on June 15, 2004


Historically, the "great walls", such as Hadrian's and the Great Wall of China were built *not* to keep invaders out, but to make the transit of fast moving "raiders" more difficult.

That's a source of some debate. Coming from a socio-economic background, I believe that whatever it's stated function, the "Great Wall's" main function was to keep people of various ethnic and social groups (many of them non-Han or Mongolian) within "Greater China", and to control their passage so captive/feudal populations could be controlled and taxed. It was also very useful as a way of controlling smuggling and tax evasion.

The Chinese Great Wall was compromised militarily so many times during its existence through acts of bribery or corruption that enabled horse-born armies to pass that its military effectiveness seems to have been about on a par with the Maginot Line.

Walls are much better at controlling populations. "Apartheid" means, literally "separation/apartness". Therefore, calling the Israeli Wall an "Apartheid Wall" seems a very apt description, given its stated purpose of controlling the migration of different populations according to their ethnic identity.
posted by meehawl at 5:25 PM on June 15, 2004


US Calls Israel Wall "Problem"
"Our position has been clear: the fence is a problem," he said. "It's a problem to the extent that it pre-judges final borders, that it confiscates Palestinian property, or that it imposes further hardship on the Palestinian people. So that is the position that we've taken in the discussions with the Israelis. We talk about the barrier, and we talk about what its consequences might be."
posted by chaz at 5:34 PM on June 15, 2004


You equate them to rabid animals every time you mention them,

there's open posting history here.
now you have to back that up and link to my previous comments where I supposedly wrote things like "rabid" and "animals". until you do, you are demonstrably a liar, and a slanderer.

at least FreedomParamus is (unvoluntarily) funny. LikudGirl is an obviously intelligent person. you, on the other hand, are just a slanderer.
posted by matteo at 6:35 PM on June 15, 2004


meehawl: but that is *not* the stated purpose of the Israeli wall. The Israelis have never declared the wall an effort to stop the movement of populations--just to prevent the entrance to those parts of Israel that extremists wish to attack, by those armed extremists. Otherwise, there are large gates, and efforts to build more, to encourage passage through by peaceful people.

In that way, it is little different from a metal detector in an airport. Your right to fly does not include carrying a gun aboard the aircraft. A metal detector does not mean that your 2nd Amendment rights are being infringed.

Granted, there are many segments of Israeli, and Arab society, that *want* separation. In Israel, not just between Jews and Arabs, but between Jews and *any* foreign laborers. And while the wall my indirectly bring that about, or eventually be used for that purpose, right now that is not its intended goal.
posted by kablam at 8:11 PM on June 15, 2004


asparagirl I may have gotten the General wrong, but I think my point still stands.

And Kabalm, that "metal detector at an airport" line is comedy gold.
posted by cell divide at 8:34 PM on June 15, 2004


that is *not* the stated purpose of the Israeli wall. The Israelis have never declared the wall an effort to stop the movement of populations

Right. Which part of my critique of the "stated" purpose of China's Great Wall versus its de facto purpose did you miss? Do you really believe this facile and demonstrably inconsistent raison d'être, or are you just stirring shite?

Today even in areas without a fully constructed Wall, ethnically identified and registered Palestinians must endure long waits and the arbitrary vicissitudes of border guards in order to travel short distances.

I grew up as an Irish person who travelled to the UK a lot during the "Troubles" and I can tell you that being discriminated because of your ethnic identity by border guards is neither a pleasant nor a productive experience.

The nature of walls and gates and immigration borders is that people will use them for population control and to play favourites. To believe anything else is to fly in the face of history. They are instruments of extra-judicial and arbitrary decision-making, and have generally favoured particular ethnic groups over others.
On the morning of February 26, 2002, Samar Hamdoun, a thirty-two-year-old resident of Beit Furik, went into labor. The local doctor was called, and decided that she should be taken immediately to the nearest hospital, in Nablus. Hamdoun and her husband approached the checkpoint by taxi, but the soldiers refused to let them pass. “My husband said, ‘Please, please, she’s giving birth,’ but the soldier started yelling and waving his hands to go back" ... The Hamdouns spent the next four hours driving a circuitous and bumpy back road to Nablus, which is, via the Army checkpoint, only fifteen minutes away. Halfway through the journey, Hamdoun lost consciousness and began to hemorrhage. When they finally arrived at the hospital in Nablus, four hours later, the baby was dead.
posted by meehawl at 8:44 PM on June 15, 2004


The Israelis have never declared the wall an effort to stop the movement of populations--just to prevent the entrance to those parts of Israel that extremists wish to attack, by those armed extremists. Otherwise, there are large gates, and efforts to build more, to encourage passage through by peaceful people.

Regardless of what the Israelis have "declared," the facts on the ground speak for themselves. The Wall is a land grab.

In that way, it is little different from a metal detector in an airport. Your right to fly does not include carrying a gun aboard the aircraft. A metal detector does not mean that your 2nd Amendment rights are being infringed.

Uh, I'd say it's a lot different than a metal detector. How many metal detectors that you know of have been built on expropriated land after its inhabitants have been thrown off and its crops destroyed?
posted by Ty Webb at 9:16 PM on June 15, 2004


Just for the sake of clarification: over centuries, Jews 'didn't belong' in their own countries; they were considered useful to the running of states (as providers of credit and trade) and useful for those looking for easy scapegoats. Not a unique situation (the residents of Hong Kong with UK passports found that out) but one that was probably unmatched in its historical breadth and scope. An Israeli passport -- or the permanent offer of one to an oleh -- is in that regard a guarantee against second-class citizenship. The Law of Return, in essence, is there because it's not enough just to 'belong to' a native or adopted country if you're a minority, unless that country has a system designed to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority.

Extrapolate that to the situation of Palestinians, whether refugees in Jordan or in the occupied territories. I find it bizarre, actually, that one argument against Palestinian nationhood is that 'they never had a state to begin with', thanks to the region being subject to successive imperial rulers. Reminds me a lot of the Old Testament.

meehawl: one other interesting facet of the Ireland/Israel juxtaposition is that while the precise ethnic origins of Ashkenazi Jews is still a matter of dispute, there's believed to be some genealogical influence from the Khazars, who converted to Judaism in the 9th century CE.

On a wider point: one reason why 'right of conquest' was declared anathema in the reconstruction of the international system after the Second World War is precisely because for centuries, occupation, annexation and breaches of territorial integrity as a result of one war helped create the next one. This is really not hard to understand. Land grabs piss people off. They allow leaders to exploit that anger.

Count me in on the single-state solution, too. And an Israeli constitution that reflects some of the thinking about the protection of majorities and minorities that went into the constitution of its American sugardaddy. Hey, fuck it: let's have Israel become a US colony, because history shows, ironically, that the best way for Jews, Muslims and Christians to live together in peace is under a vaguely benign imperial rule.
posted by riviera at 9:42 PM on June 15, 2004


there's believed to be some genealogical influence from the Khazars, who converted to Judaism in the 9th century CE.

The evidence is sketchy at best. My own personal favourite theory for the leaders of the Khazars is that they were Hellene-Judaic Gnostics, perhaps borrowing from the regionally similar bogomils. Their mystery religion enabled them to assume the outward appearance of other, public religions. Lower orders of non-initiated, of course, saw only the outward face of the religion. Given the persecution of the Bogomils by the Byzantines, it made sense to hide any Gnostic allegiances from outisde eyes!

Initially, when early Chinese influence was at its peak and before Turkic and Hun influence grew, they assumed many of the trappings of Confucian ideoology.

Then later, when the Chinese had withdrawn, Judaism provided a convenient cover and a middle non-aligned position between Christianity and Islam.

Then when their political situation became untenable, the hobnobs decamped and dispersed, assumed the outward appearance of Christians, and became the Cathars throughout Europe.

I think Sean Connery would be great in this movie...
posted by meehawl at 9:19 AM on June 16, 2004


(Sorry for the lapse in response time--been really busy with work.)

matteo: you meant to write "US taxpayer money" and it came out "Israeli" because the two nations are one and the same in your Likudnik dreams
riviera: Hey, fuck it: let's have Israel become a US colony

I'm just sayin', is all.

subgenius: I am increasingly skeptical of a two-state solution, because I don't know whether Palestine will be feasible once Israel finishes carving out sections of the West Bank to protect settlers. Looking at maps, do you really believe a Palestinian state will have much of a chance, given the way this is shaping up?

The larger issue standing in the way of a thriving Palestine (assume that we're five to ten years down the road now and such a thing has come to be) is far less one of geographical contiguity than the ability to self-govern and self-police. Rampant corruption, open support for terrorist groups, the blaming of all the society's ills on the evil Zionist stooges, the brainwashing of children to become "martyrs" (dressing up babies in toy explosive belts, and the like), the inability to account for so much of the aid money sent by the EU, and on and on and on. Yeah, dealing with a roundabout highway system really tops the list when I think of all the problems an independent Palestine is going to have to face.

Personally, I would prefer to see a single-state solution where everyone has the same rights.

And I'd like a pony, or better yet a single, solitary Arab state where that sentence holds true. I know I've harped on this point in other threads before, but I think it's a crucial one: there is not a single state in the region with even half of Israel's committment to human rights, religious freedoms, gender equality, sexual minority rights, voting rights, a true multi-party political system, a chance for self-representation including for women and minority ethnic/religious groups, judicial oversight and accountability, etc. etc. etc. These are the most basic building blocks of a democracy and a free society. If a one-state solution were to come into being, there is absolutely nothing to suggest that the country would remain free, in any meaningful sense of the word, and that it would not descend into the kind of corruption or tyranny or brutality of a Syria or an Algeria or an Egypt, or any other Arab-majority country on the planet (save for Iraq, someday soon, one can only hope). Doing the democratically correct thing--one man, one vote--would, alas, probably lead to the end of meaningful democracy within the country. (See also: what happened to Lebanon, a formerly majority-Christian democracy, now occupied by Syria and a "pseudo-democracy".)

Ty Webb: OOPS! that would make Jews a minority in the Jewish State. Can't have that.

No, you can't. And that's the essential paradox at the heart of Israel. Zionism posits that except for a few historical anomalies like the Anglosphere democracies, Jews cannot and should not remain a semi-tolerated minority group in other (usually majority mono-ethnic/mono-religious) countries and then sit back and hope for the best. That way lies the Inquisition, the Dreyfus affair, the gas chambers, the pogroms, and all that other nasty historical sludge. They need to take responsibility for their own survival without depending on the beneficience of countries and rulers that too often turn shockingly brutal towards local minority groups. Israel, therefore, wants to exist as a Jewish state, a safety zone for any Jew, anywhere. In that sense, it's a total atavistic throwback to the pre-modern ideas of nationhood: the tribe is the country.

BUT Israel also wants to exist as a democracy, one of the most modern conceptions of nationhood. It gives recognition of the rights of other groups who live in its borders, and free religious practice and voting rights for them, too, and all those other Enlightened pro-human-rights traits I listed earlier. As far as I know, there's nothing to stop a Muslim or Druze or Christian from being elected President of the country; many already serve as Knesset members, and I think on the Supreme Court too. But the existence of the democracy depends on not having people in power who have never shown any love for the process or tenets of democracy. And a one-state solution could indeed mean someone like Arafat winding up as head of the country, a "leader" from a background where long-promised elections haven't been held in eight years, where opponents and political dissidents are beat up or threatened with death (which is one major reason why ex-PM Abbas left), where queers are killed, where female politicians in the PA have trouble passing even relatively modest women's rights bills, where commercials enticing kids to become suicide bomber martyrs are shown on state-owned TV, etc.

The tension between these two possibly-incompatible aims--to be both a "Jewish state", limited by religion, and a modern democracy open to all, even those who can't play nicely with democracy--is at the heart of the problems in Israel today, as much as the fights with its neighbors. Too much of either one, and the whole thing would collapse. It may yet.
posted by Asparagirl at 8:19 PM on June 16, 2004


And for y2karl, here's the NY Times' take on Richard Ben Cramer's book, which is decidedly more mixed:
"As a thinker, he disappoints: where one had hoped for an informed, subtle analysis of what happens when Palestinians and Israelis consistently try, and fail, to reach agreements on many levels, Cramer delivers a self-important diatribe of simplistic opinions, as if kibitzing over a bagel brunch...the no longer nice, no longer easily defensible Jewish state is a personal affront to Cramer, and he resents it. Except he does not dare say so. Instead, he has written an ignorant and hence irrelevant attack on a country and its people in a state of war. It would have been a different, far more honest book if it had contained his own personal truth: How Richard Ben Cramer Lost Israel."
posted by Asparagirl at 8:22 PM on June 16, 2004


The tension between these two possibly-incompatible aims--to be both a "Jewish state", limited by religion, and a modern democracy open to all, even those who can't play nicely with democracy--is at the heart of the problems in Israel today, as much as the fights with its neighbors. Too much of either one, and the whole thing would collapse. It may yet.

Many see the wall as something that only exacerbates those tensions, which leads to ....more suicide bombing? more people displaced or bantustanned? more hatred toward the Israelis? ...
posted by amberglow at 8:32 PM on June 16, 2004


riviera: "The Law of Return, in essence, is there because it's not enough just to 'belong to' a native or adopted country if you're a minority, unless that country has a system designed to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority. Extrapolate that to the situation of Palestinians, whether refugees in Jordan or in the occupied territories."

I don't disagree with you on that point. But for me that train of thought leads to wanting a more realistic two-state solution, not a pie in the sky one-state solution with a mytically strong and equitable constitution imbued with superpowers. The US's constitution works well in that regard because people wanted to set it up that way and want to keep it that way; I don't know that either side in an attempt to reach a one-state solution wouldn't try to impose their own brands of religion-mixing into the system. And as I went into a bit above, I'm not optimistic that such a one-state solution wouldn't eventually degenerate into the exact same kind of "tolerated minority" status for Jews that the country was set up to permanently avoid, nor that a currently-robust democracy wouldn't fall to pieces and become yet another pseudo-democracy (or worse) in the region.

Just to clarify, such a peaceful, democratic, rights-respecting country would be totally amazing and wonderful, and may not be impossible to acheive. But it's also really, really, really unlikely. And that's coming from someone who still supports attempting to build a democracy in Iraq, which as we all know isn't going swimmingly well, and in the Middle East more generally, something others who have commented in this thread don't think can happen.
posted by Asparagirl at 8:42 PM on June 16, 2004


The larger issue standing in the way of a thriving Palestine (assume that we're five to ten years down the road now and such a thing has come to be) is far less one of geographical contiguity than the ability to self-govern and self-police. Rampant corruption, open support for terrorist groups, the blaming of all the society's ills on the evil Zionist stooges, the brainwashing of children to become "martyrs" (dressing up babies in toy explosive belts, and the like)

They said all these things about the Irish, back in the Fenian era, when Irish terrorists with no access to Statist weapons or organizations in their adversity invented first the suicide bomb, then the carriage bomb.

All these traits you describe as rampant in Palestine I recognise as formerly popular in Ireland. For generations one of the "excuses" against an independent Ireland was that it could never hope to govern itself because Irish people were by nature violent, slothful, corrupt, hateful, and so irredeemably bitter towards the English that any bilateral relations would be poisoned by hostility.

Desperate times make people desperate, and slightly sick.

But treat them well and they have an amazing ability to recover quickly.

Once upon a time (just over a century ago) the prevailing stereotype of Irish people was of a dangerous, terroristic bunch, as likely to gut you for a shilling as to rob your house or burn it. Irish nationalists had lived under an occupation for centuries.

Today the violent bestial Irish stereotypes have been replaced by a more genial cluster of stereotype centred around alcoholism and stupidity. Such is progress.

I think people can be a lot better than you give them credit for. Treat them well and they will surprise you in a good way.
posted by meehawl at 8:24 AM on June 17, 2004


Er, but all that positive change between Ireland and Britain came about in the context of a two-state solution. Also, the situations aren't entirely comprable; I think the presence of religion and religious nationalism in the Middle East is a much more of a sticky issue than in the Irish/British feud, and that makes a lot of difference.

I don't think it's impossible for there to be an Arab democracy, or an insert-any-ethnicity-here democracy. In fact, I've spent much of the past three years arguing in favor of such an externally-aided creation of a democracy in Iraq and internally-reformed democracy in Iran. So it's a little odd to be thought of as unduly pessimistic about the appeal of freedom and self-rule and self-control, when (as I linked above earlier) I usually get slammed for being too starry-eyed.
posted by Asparagirl at 1:24 PM on June 17, 2004


all that positive change between Ireland and Britain came about in the context of a two-state solution.

Against the wishes of a majority of people in Ireland, the London government partially implemented a 2-State "solution". The final adjustment of the border in accordance with the reocmmendations of an impartial internationalised panel was suspended during the 1920s in favour of a gerrymandering that explicitly preserved a Unionist majority in the northern State.

With artificially skewed populations in both States several generations of discrimination and ethnic cleansing ensued. This provided the raw material for decades of sectarian strife and fertile ground for terrorist recruitment and funding.

It is only recently that both States have begun to formally recognise the political and social aspirations of the "minority" populations. They also both managed through plebiscites to abandon territorial ambitions or claims of land or right of return on the other. This has led to a lessening of tensions and promoted "buy in" by all sides.

I think the presence of religion and religious nationalism in the Middle East is a much more of a sticky issue than in the Irish/British feud

The fact that you could say this means you've obviously not examined Irish Nationalist Catholicism and Ulster Unionist Presbyterianism closely. It does need to be noted that the Scots-Irish are "nonconformist" Presbyterians, compared with the Church of England, the official State Religion of Britain. Ulster's Orange Order is sometimes aligned with the UK's Conservative Party, but not always, especially since the UK's Tories stopped emphasizing their full conservative and unionist party moniker.

Both major blood-and-soil religions in Ireland imbue their adherents with a semi-mystical right to land by a decree of the Divine. Lots of bad songs and worse mystical poetry have been written to this effect. Often times, religious fanatics on both sides have seen visions or revelations that guide them in their quest for national purity.

In the case of the Scots-Irish, which I mentioned much earlier, their position as settlers in Ulster in the 16th centuries, and since then, has been that they were *returning* to lands seized from them by Hiberno-Irish centuries earlier who had forced a Disapora upon them. According to Unionist religious beliefs, Hiberno-Irish were and are mired in the grip of a satanic, false religion and should be converted or displaced fromtheir unwarranted lands as a mandate from God. I am sure you see the parallels between Ulster/Ireland and Israel/Palestine. I note Britain's "success" in both projects, and also in India/Pakistan.

Creating 2-State solutions where one state is grossly unequal with another are a wonderful way for a "former" colonial power to create a role for itself as an "honest broker".
posted by meehawl at 3:54 PM on June 17, 2004


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