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Attack on Gaza creates rift with overseas Jews.
January 19, 2009 1:44 AM   Subscribe

The End of the Affair. Like many followers of Judaism around the world, Sir Gerald Kaufman, a British MP and friend of Golda Meir, has gone through an internal battle over their views regarding the State of Israel. Kaufman rejected the Sharon government and later made a remarkably prescient 2002 documentary (.ram) on Israel. Though he has been targeted by zionist webistes, and has repeatedly received death threats, hate mail, and has even been harassed during worship, Kaufman remains outspoken about Israel's attack on Gaza: "My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszów. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed. Madam Deputy Speaker, My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza . . . they're not simply war criminals, they're fools."
posted by markkraft (181 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Please, please let it be the time for Jews to openly and honestly discuss the future of Israel among themselves and in the public sphere. Too much has been left unsaid for too long.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 2:25 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Norman Finkelstein: Photos from Holocaust Juxtaposed with Photos from Gaza (NSFW)
posted by orthogonality at 2:29 AM on January 19, 2009 [22 favorites]


Note: some of the above linked photos are graphic and highly disturbing, including dead and mutilated children. In death, these children, whether Jew or Palestinian, are indistinguishable, regardless of the excuses advanced to justify their deaths.
posted by orthogonality at 2:36 AM on January 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


Repeating bad history makes for more bad history. Would be a shame if they have to repeat the Diaspora. Maybe they should put more effort into peace, than war.
posted by Goofyy at 2:39 AM on January 19, 2009


Incredible link, ortho.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:44 AM on January 19, 2009


Please, please let it be the time for Jews to openly and honestly discuss the future of Israel among themselves and in the public sphere. Too much has been left unsaid for too long.
In that spirit, I also think the left has to have a long, hard think about the whole way the debate about I/P and Zionism is framed. I thought this post on Libcom, Anti-semitism and the left - redux, was very salient (perhaps more in a European context; can't comment on the U.S. scene):
....
Thus the anti-semitic narratives emanating from parts of the left have a long history, and when reproduced - perhaps unthinkingly - they resonate with this unsavoury cultural heritage, mirroring classic anti-semitism in all but terminology - and sometimes in that too. In the case of many of the Trotskyist parties and their fellow-travelers, there is a Machiavelian, materialist explanation for the adoption of these narratives: pragmatically building electoral alliances with Islamic groups and pandering to the perceived anti-semitism of their constituencies. For anarchists however, satisafactory explanations, beyond 'bad analysis' are less forthcoming. To re-iterate however, I don't think such statements - certainly for the most part - are manifestations of a secret hatred of Jews. I certainly wouldn't make such claims without very good evidence. I think instead they can be understood as an expression of the ressentiment I have argued underpins leftist (as opposed to communist) politics.

In the case of Israel-Palestine, this ressentiment is structured as follows. Israel, a 'white', European democracy ('the only democracy in the middle-east' by its own boast) represents the most powerful party (if the parties to the conflict are understood in national as opposed to class terms). 'They' are like 'us', that is to say Britain and America, an imperial outpost of the West in 'someone elses' land. The inverse racism of white-mans burden guilt kicks in, and consequently leftists invert the values of the powerful into a slave morality which extols the virtues of the powerless. In practical terms, this victim politics manifests itself in the casual waving of Palestinian flags and support for Palestinian nationalism and 'self-determiniation' (practically, meaning rule by Islamic or secular-nationalist gangsters instead of Israeli ones, as will be the case unless there's communist revolution). A laudable humanitarian concern for the victims of barbarism becomes attached to the very ideologies that help perpetuate that barbarism.

This brings us to another important point. In all of this, that barbarism should not be forgotten in the haste to be critical of anti-semitism...
posted by Abiezer at 2:46 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Palestinian Doctor's Daughters killed while he is interviewed on Israeli TV.
“I dedicated my life really for peace, for medicine,” said Dr. Abuelaish, who does joint research projects with Israeli physicians and for years has worked as something of a one-man force to bring injured and ailing Gazans for treatment in Israel.
. . . .
“Tell them who my children were,” said Dr. Abuelaish, spotting Anael Harpaz, an Israeli woman who runs a peace camp in New Mexico for Israeli and Palestinian girls that three of his daughters attended, including his eldest, Bisan, 20, who was killed Friday. The other two daughters who were killed were Mayar, 15, and Aya, 13. The doctor’s niece who died, Nur Abuelaish, was 17.
. . . .
In a hospital room, Ms. Harpaz held 17-year-old Shada Abuelaish’s hand as a nurse placed drops of medicine on her tongue. The girl’s forehead was covered in bandages as was her right eye, which had been operated on in hopes of saving it. The niece who was wounded is in critical condition, with shrapnel wounds.
Cairo: Doctors operating the only brain-scanning machine at an Egyptian hospital near Gaza have been almost overwhelmed by the number of Palestinian children arriving with bullet wounds to the head.... Israeli officials continued to deny on Saturday that their soldiers had deliberately targeted civilians....


Norwegian doctor: Israel used new type of weapon in Gaza:
On his return [to Norway, Dr.] Fosse submitted a report to his government in which he accused the IDF of deliberately targeting civilians. Fosse said he believes Israel deliberately chose to attack while Westerners working for international organizations were back home for the Christmas vacation.

"The Palestinian witnesses, as medical workers, are very accurate in their reports, but if we hadn't been there to confirm their testimony, it would all have been presented as Hamas propaganda," he said.
posted by orthogonality at 2:55 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thus the anti-semitic narratives ...

If you want to be taken seriously, you may want to be a lot more careful not to confuse anti-Semitism, which has a very specific meaning, with criticism of Israel's military activities.

For example, few would have rational cause to call Noam Chomsky, who is Jewish, an anti-Semite, having learned about his upbringing:

CHOMSKY: In Philadelphia. And the anti-Semitism was very real. There were certain paths I could take to walk to the store without getting beaten up. It was the late 1930s and the area was openly pro-Nazi. I remember beer parties when Paris fell and things like that. It's not like living under Hitler, but it's a very unpleasant thing. There was a really rabid anti-Semitism in that neighborhood where I grew up as a kid and it continued. By the time I got to Harvard in the early 1950s there was still very detectable anti-Semitism. It wasn't that they beat you up on the way to school or something, but other ways, kind of WASP-ish anti-Semitism. There were very few Jewish professors on the faculty at that time. There was beginning to be a scattering of them, but still very few. This was the tail end of a long time of WASP-ish anti-Semitism at the elite institutions. Over the last thirty years that's changed very radically. Anti-Semitism undoubtedly exists, but it's now on a par, in my view, with other kinds of prejudice of all sorts. I don't think it's more than anti-Italianism or anti-Irishism, and that's been a very significant change in the last generation, one that I've experienced myself in my own life, and it's very visible throughout the society.

Given the documented experiences of people who experienced real discrimination for being Jewish, it is a shame that the right has deliberately corrupted language to the extent that this confusion has become a tactic to quieten criticism of Israeli policy.

If there needs to be a "long, hard look", let us start with this despicable rhetoric of shutting down discussion by calling dissenters anti-Semites.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:59 AM on January 19, 2009 [47 favorites]


I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Hamas still exists. And Israel has once again played themselves right into their hands by creating yet another generation of young, jobless, hopeless Palestinian men who will be molded by rapacious Muslim demagogues.

The ones that weren't buried in the rubble of their own homes by IDF bombings, that is.
posted by bardic at 3:01 AM on January 19, 2009 [11 favorites]


If there needs to be a "long, hard look", let us start with this despicable rhetoric of shutting down discussion by calling dissenters anti-Semites.
That's not it at all, BP. I agree that's a tactic used as does the author of the piece. I posted that here, as he wrote there, because addressing a largely liberal/left audience there is still a number of issues worth serious consideration, which he offers.
posted by Abiezer at 3:06 AM on January 19, 2009


The only thing more damning to be called when discussing Israel is a "self-hating Jew".

Of course, Gerald Kaufman doesn't really hate Jews though, does he?! That's easy enough to determine just from watching his documentary. And deep down, I'm pretty certain many of his rabidly pro-Israeli critics know this.

No... the "self-hating Jew" is the irrational, unreasonable. blind supporter of Israel, who has a special level of violent hatred reserved for Jews like Kaufman, who dare to disagree with their rabid nationalism and sense of supremacy.

For them, Kaufman and other Jews who dare to speak out are arguably their worst fear.
posted by markkraft at 3:10 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Another War, Another Defeat by John Mearsheimer is an interesting read, it points out that in the Lebanon and Gaza invasions Israel has achieved little for Israel's security and that the cost has been high.
posted by sien at 3:10 AM on January 19, 2009


My Ghandi moment, for what it is worth: one of the most powerful, and peaceful initiatives that one could undertake to change the balance of perception in the US would be to create a dossier on every Palestinian child. And then allow users to download their details, track their progress and, more pertinently, to advocate on their behalf.

One of the things that strikes me most about this conflict is, for all the supposed pro-Palestinian bias in the world media, the civilian dead in the conflict are largely faceless stats.

The other thing I would say is that the media always focuses on the wrong number: it's not the dead, but the injured that are the real story - the several thousand people missing eyes, limbs, nursing large scale burns or brain injuries.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:16 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


We, as Israeli citizens, raise our voices to call on EU leaders: use sanctions against Israel's brutal policies and join the active protests of Bolivia and Venezuela. We appeal to the citizens of Europe: please attend to the Palestinian Human Rights Organisation's call, supported by more than 540 Israeli citizens (www.freegaza.org/en/home/): boycott Israeli goods and Israeli institutions; follow resolutions such as those made by the cities of Athens, Birmingham and Cambridge (US). This is the only road left. Help us all, please!
--from a letter signed by 17 Israeli academics.

(Note that I am only quoting this letter, not advocating any boycott of Israel or Israeli products; as an American citizen it may be illegal for me to advocate any boycott of Israel, and I wish to be explicit that I am only quoting the opinions of these Israeli academics.)
posted by orthogonality at 3:18 AM on January 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


One of the best points made by Gerald Kaufman in the documentary was that the I.R.A. absolutely demolished central Manchester, and Britain, to their credit, did not level Ireland.

Indeed, the fact that the British people suffered so severely helped to unite many Irish against these kinds of attacks, and helped to set the stage for today's peace.
posted by markkraft at 3:22 AM on January 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


it's not the dead, but the injured that are the real story

Not to mentioned those that have lost parents, children, friends and neighbours. It's these injured that will continue to resist, these injured will become terrorists/freedom fighters themselves. What choice do they really have?
posted by twistedonion at 3:26 AM on January 19, 2009


One of the best points made by Gerald Kaufman in the documentary was that the I.R.A. absolutely demolished central Manchester, and Britain, to their credit, did not level Ireland.

I've been saying this to friends. It's like if the IRA had attacked Newry from across the border and the British Army launched an invasion of Ireland. Thank fuck that never happened. Instead the UK took a defensive stance. Eventually the IRA had no real platform to fight back using force. That's when they entered politics.

Sinn Feinns goal is still to see the elimination of a Northern Irish State, but it is recognised this will only happen when the will of the people decide this, peacefully. They still don't want Northern Ireland to exist though. But that's OK, we all have differing views when it comes to our Nationality. What is important is that people no longer use violent means to progress those views.
posted by twistedonion at 3:34 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Of course, you know the main reason why Britain couldn't level Ireland, and Israel could level Gaza...

A lot of it has to do with the fact that the rest of the world -- and especially America -- are quite alright with the idea of over a thousand Arabs dying for no good reason. In many cases, they already hated Arabs, and were fine tolerating hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis or Afghanis, in many cases killed with their tax dollars.

(Not that an Afghani is an Arab, exactly... but try telling your average American that.)

There's a reason why some of the most extremist Zionists come from the United States... and why many of the other Zionist extremists come from Russia. Both countries have demonized Islam and those who follow it for quite some time. Clearly, the Russians thought little of killing Afghanis and Chechens, who, to this day, are often stereotyped by Russians as drug-peddling terrorists.
posted by markkraft at 3:50 AM on January 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


and Britain, to their credit, did not level Ireland.

Nor did we send our bombers and assassins to that other 'Axis of Evil', the USA, who, under a succession of different presidents from Johnson to Bush, both financed Irish Republican terrorism and refused to extradite a succession of known terrorists.

A major factor in the settlement is the fact that post 9/11, Republicans recognized that their chances of this support from the US continuing was slim to none. Had America been so robust in its attitude towards funding terrorism twenty years earlier, who knows how many lives would have been saved?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:54 AM on January 19, 2009 [15 favorites]


Well absolutely, it wasn't that long ago that we saw "no blacks or Irish" signs in the UK. Only when an Irish citizen was considered an equal citizen did things begin to change imo. If the IRA did not have such support in America it's very possible that the UK would have taken a more aggressive stance.

An Arab does not, sadly, equal 1 white. This is so true.
posted by twistedonion at 3:57 AM on January 19, 2009


If you want to be taken seriously, you may want to be a lot more careful not to confuse anti-Semitism, which has a very specific meaning, with criticism of Israel's military activities.


FUCK I AM SICK OF THIS
posted by mattoxic at 4:00 AM on January 19, 2009


"Only when an Irish citizen was considered an equal citizen did things begin to change imo. If the IRA did not have such support in America it's very possible that the UK would have taken a more aggressive stance."

Exactly... and yet, when Americans looked at Irish, they saw people who reminded them of other Americans, just the same as when they saw someone who was British.

I absolutely understand why some Americans supported the Irish side of the struggle. They weren't treated fairly, and, as bad as things were for all involved, they suffered the worst of it, because they had to live with the daily indignities.

I just wish that the violence of conquest, repression, reprisal, and revenge could've somehow been avoided from the start, or healed without violence, because when it comes down to it, the British and the Irish share the same blood, and most certainly, bleed in the same way.
posted by markkraft at 4:13 AM on January 19, 2009


I had thought we had had any number of posts on how bad Israel was, and how any number of Jews living outside (mostly) of Israel thought Israel was not nice at all and that Israel is like a batch of Nazis and Hamas is obnly doing what any group of people would do and that we could now wait to see how the world reacts and responds to the current cessation of hostilities and that Obama might in fact bring about the power of his office to try for a just and peaceful settlement of ALL the issues in this complex issue. I was wrong.
posted by Postroad at 4:18 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


The only thing more damning to be called when discussing Israel is a "self-hating Jew".

I get "self-loathing" all the time, but I'm honoured to be filed in the same category as Finkelstein.
posted by gman at 4:18 AM on January 19, 2009


Just a hypothetical: If England had pulled out of N. Ireland and the IRA had continued bombing what would have been England's response?
posted by PenDevil at 4:24 AM on January 19, 2009


Thing is, it doesn't really damned well matter if criticism of Israel is "anti-Semitic." It's a moot point. Hell, my sense is that there aren't very many mainstream Israelis who think that the sentiment that Israel should not have gone to war is "anti-Semitic."

They seem to just think that the rest of the world is being sentimentalist. Israelis simply believe that going to war was the right thing to do. I don't think they believe they're fighting a grand war against racism and neo-Nazism in the mid-east. They just don't want rockets fired into their country from Gaza anymore, and they're a little edgy (maybe rightly so) about the fact that rockets and munitions seem to keep finding their way in.

But Israelis are neither stupid nor blind. They've watched the things that have happened over the last three weeks as closely as the rest of us; they heard the voice of the doctor who lost his daughters, and they've seen the images of war. The vast majority of Israelis, even on the left, seem even now to be sure that the war had to happen; but I don't think they're absolutely unambiguous about the necessity of violence or about the good or evil that might have been accomplished.

Really, though, my point is that Israel has less to do with Judaism every moment. It's pretty clear, looking at the structure of the nation, that Israel is equipped to continue the secularization that's already almost complete. To put it bluntly, it seems to me to be absolutely inane to compare either the Arabs or the Jews of Israel and Palestine to the Germans and the Jews during the third reich. Making dark references to the Holocaust is clearly not the same thing as making an argument, and such parallels actually obscure the fact that, on the ground in Palestine today, life is hell. The real lives of Palestinian Arabs and Jews at this moment, the pain and suffering they're going through, don't need to be linked to the Holocaust to be legitimate.
posted by koeselitz at 4:32 AM on January 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


One of the best points made by Gerald Kaufman in the documentary was that the I.R.A. absolutely demolished central Manchester, and Britain, to their credit, did not level Ireland.

The 1996 Manchester attack was the largest IRA bomb ever used, and caused extensive damage but it's hyperbole to say it "absolutely demolished central Manchester". The bomb itself leveled no buildings, although several had to be demolished subsequently. No one was killed. "50,000 square metres of retail space and 25,000 square metres of office space had to be reconstructed", i.e. around the area of a small to medium sized shopping mall.

This is not to refute Kaufman's point or deny the event or minimize the impact, but "absolutely demolished" gives the impression that the whole core of Manchester was replaced by a smoking crater. Not so. (See here for more information and pictures.)
posted by outlier at 4:33 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Thing is, it doesn't really damned well matter if criticism of Israel is "anti-Semitic." It's a moot point. Hell, my sense is that there aren't very many mainstream Israelis who think that the sentiment that Israel should not have gone to war is "anti-Semitic."
The sense in which it's not moot is in the European left's understanding of colonialism and imperialism which has imo undermined itself by apeing narratives that attach more importance to Zionist ideology, sectional lobbying in the U.S. or whatever than the larger geopolitical imperatives.
Agree with the general thrust of the rest of your post.
posted by Abiezer at 4:43 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


PenDevil The United Kingdom (not "England", BTW), pulled out of "territories" (to retake a favourite expression of Israeli diplomats) in the island of Ireland (namely, the current Republic of Ireland) in 1921 and the IRA (or, more accurately, a "rogue branch" called the "Provisional IRA" or Provos) keep up bombing from 1970 till 2005. And yet the British did not bomb Dublin.

Similarly, in Spain, back in the '80s, ETA terrorists waged a bloody campaign from safe bases in France. In response, some in government launched a clandestine retribution campaign with targeted killings and kidnappings (very much like what Israel regularly carries out against Hamas, even during "ceasefires"). What happened (apart from setting back the actual police fight against ETA a decade or so, and handing over a propaganda victory to them)? Well, those responsible (most of them, I hope) were convicted and jailed, and the government in question fell. Of course, I can't even imagine what'd have happened if Spain had actually bombed French border towns like Bayonne and razed them in the same way that Israel has razed Gaza. Madrid would probably still glow in the dark, I guess.
posted by Skeptic at 4:46 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


markkraft: One of the best points made by Gerald Kaufman in the documentary was that the I.R.A. absolutely demolished central Manchester, and Britain, to their credit, did not level Ireland.

Indeed, the fact that the British people suffered so severely helped to unite many Irish against these kinds of attacks, and helped to set the stage for today's peace.


All due respect to the Troubles and all the suffering they brought, and I know that the Britain/Ireland parallel is another neat one that many like to point up, but the difference in scale is so great as the make the comparison fruitless. Yes, the destruction in Manchester was immense and tragic, but it was not on the scale of a hundred rockets per year fired into the British mainland for almost a decade. Would walking away have worked for Israel? Maybe thirty years ago -- maybe. Even then, it would have been doubtful. The IRA was bloody and crude at times, but the simple fact is that it never once even aspired to the extremisms that Hamas, Hizbollah and Fatah have attained. Almost industrial assembly-line training of suicide bombers? Constant and absolute striving for destruction through rockets, missiles, tanks, machine guns, and every other conceivable weapon? Yes, you can blame Israel for this escalation if you like (I prefer to blame both sides, as it took both to get them where they are) but everyone in Israel and Palestine knows it doesn't really matter whose fault it was anymore.

At the moment, 20/20 hindsight makes it easy to say that Israel should have done a hell of a lot more to prop up Fatah so that there might be a legitimate and viable alternative to a terrorist government in Palestine. It's understandable that Israel really didn't want to arm and support an organization that even a decade ago was party to terrorism; but if Israel had had just a bit more foresight, then this all might not have been so bloody.

Even so, Israel could not do nothing. It would be wonderful if things were so simple: they are not. I think the comparison of Israel and Palestine to Britain and Ireland breaks down pretty quickly; this is a situation that has to be judged on its own merit. There are ambiguities all through it, and it's almost impossible to know what should be done at this point. The conflict between Israel and Palestine is unique in that that's been true for nearly every moment of the last sixty years.

Once our righteous indignation dies down, we've still got to figure out what to do.
posted by koeselitz at 4:49 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Just a hypothetical: If England had pulled out of N. Ireland and the IRA had continued bombing what would have been England's response?"

This, of course, would only be a fair comparison if Israel pulled out of all territory they had ever taken from the Palestinians.

If Israel pulled out of Israel, I could guarantee you... the attacks would stop. If they merely pulled back to 1967 borders, and failed to acknowledge and compensate for the other land they stole, or were unwilling to offer some Palestinians who want to return to Israel and reunite with their families a chance to do so as individuals with the same legal rights to immigrate to Israel as anyone else, well... Israel might still get attacked by the occasional person who still held a grudge, especially since refusing such rights to immigration would be treating your fellow Israelis like second-class citizens.

Last time I heard, you can't occupy someone else's land and still be guaranteed absolute, 100% peace at the same time. You have to earn peace.
posted by markkraft at 4:50 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yes, the destruction in Manchester was immense and tragic, but it was not on the scale of a hundred rockets per year fired into the British mainland for almost a decade.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but almost certain more civilians were killed by IRA actions than Israelis have been killed by rocket fire, in an ongoing campaign over almost two decades.
posted by Abiezer at 4:51 AM on January 19, 2009 [10 favorites]


In more cheery news from the UK left:
Campaigners Decommission Arms Factory in solidarity with Gaza
[A] group of campaigners who
forced entry into the ITT/EDO MBM arms factory early this morning,
Saturday 17th January. They destroyed equipment inside the factory that
is used to make the weapons used in Israel's wholesale slaughter of
civilians in Gaza.
ITT/EDO MBM, on Home Farm Road, Brighton, manufactures release clips for
F 15s and F 16s as well as the Paveway system of munitions which are
currently being used by the Israeli military against civilians in Gaza.
posted by Abiezer at 4:59 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Furthermore, it's worth pointing out that member of Hamas, Hizbollah, and even Fatah would be quite offended to be compared to ETA and IRA members, and vice versa. I think this reflects a very real difference. I hate very much to sound like Edward Said, but the Palestinian militants are not European adherents of cultural minorities that sternly demand a kind of sovereign self-governance that we in the west find so intuitive. If they were, things would be so much easier; at the very least, the problems between Israel and Palestine would have ended abruptly the moment that Palestine was granted autonomy and sovereignty. It would be foolish to say that the assassinations perpetrated by ETA were harmless, though, again, men who run into bars, shoot a single person, and then run out are hardly on the same scale as organized militants. But the Basques and the Irish, distinctive as they may be, have so very much in common with the Spanish and the British; they are all Europeans now. It was for them to say, "we wish only for the autonomy that other nations are granted."

But I don't remember the Basques or Irish ever saying that Spain or Britain should cease to exist on the face of the earth; and, more to the point, I don't remember them having their own faith, their own spiritual practice, and their own view as to the ends and purposes of society that is separate from all others.
posted by koeselitz at 5:05 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


I would say about a billion dollars worth of damage and well over 200 people wounded -- many of whom could've been killed had the police not been tipped off ahead of time -- is indicative of just how massive and widespread the damage was in the heart of Manchester's downtown. A lot of those pictures look like something out of Gaza, frankly, and I have a hard time minimizing the fact that hundreds were wounded, and entire blocks in the heart of the city were shattered and had to be leveled and rebuilt, with widespread damage to windows, facades, etc. quite far from the blast.
posted by markkraft at 5:07 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I absolutely understand why some Americans supported the Irish side of the struggle. They weren't treated fairly, and, as bad as things were for all involved, they suffered the worst of it, because they had to live with the daily indignities.

Um, both sides of this struggle were Irish sides. The British really didn't give a flying fuck, by and large. Most people on the mainland would have been happy to get out and leave them all to it.

The British army were initially sent over on a peace keeping mission, to protect the Catholic communities from the sectarian violence being meted out to them by the Nationalists. It wasn't long though, before the tensions between the army and the Catholic communities was just as bad as the tension between the Nationalists and the Republicans. But the Nationalist community in the North had at least as much of a legitimate claim to belonging as the Israelis do to Israel. They've been there a damn sight longer, for one thing.

They weren't treated fairly, and, as bad as things were for all involved, they suffered the worst of it, because they had to live with the daily indignities.

Now who does that sound like today? And yet there's not an awful lot of US support for Palestinians, is there?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:07 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I believe in the idea and dream of Israel. As for the displacement of locals when Israel was created, there is not a country that was ever born that didn't involve displacing someone. That said, Israel needs to live in equilibrium with its neighbors or it will not survive. I see these incursions as bringing about the end of Israel.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:08 AM on January 19, 2009


Yes, the destruction in Manchester was immense and tragic, but it was not on the scale of a hundred rockets per year fired into the British mainland for almost a decade


Check the figures, you may be surprised.

I believe the most interesting similarity between both the Israeli and IRA campaigns was the American funding. When that stops, the killing can stop.
posted by fullerine at 5:18 AM on January 19, 2009


if Israel pulled out of all territory they had ever taken from the Palestinians
If Israel pulled out of Israel


These two are not equal, and you know it.
posted by oaf at 5:20 AM on January 19, 2009


The 'idea and dream' of Israel was wrong in 1948, but we have to live with the stupidity of the politicians of that time.

US politicians need to start ensuring that Israeli policy in relation to Palestine is conducted with a view to long term stability and peace, rather than to short term domestic advantage.

Part of the problem is that the occupants of the White House and No 10 Downing St over the past 10 years are as guilty of war crimes as the current Israeli administration - we need a new generation of politicians to come in and change the basis of what is acceptable. For me, this includes holding Bush, Blair and others to account for what they caused to be perpetrated.
posted by daveg at 5:21 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Abiezer: Correct me if I'm wrong, but almost certain more civilians were killed by IRA actions than Israelis have been killed by rocket fire, in an ongoing campaign over almost two decades.

An interesting question, for which Wikipedia has handy charts: Palestine/Israel, Britain/Ireland. These numbers were illuminating for me, since the raw numbers of casualties are comparable on both sides, and I'd never known that so many civilians were killed in the troubles. However, there's really not enough info to say clearly whether Israel or Britain suffered more casualties; I mean, only 125 people inside Britain died during the troubles, while a couple of thousand Israelies have died in the Palestinian conflict; but that's not meaningful unless we know whether those deaths of Israelis occurred inside Israel or inside Palestine, or whether those deaths are of civilians or of combatants.

I think the point still stands purely on the fact that the conflicts are so different; it's probably best for me not to make pronouncements about which was more deadly.
posted by koeselitz at 5:23 AM on January 19, 2009


PeterMcDermott: Now who does that sound like today? And yet there's not an awful lot of US support for Palestinians, is there?

That's precisely because it's easy for Americans to understand the Irish, but it's difficult for us to understand the Palestinians. I really think it's a case of foreignness; the hopes and dreams of the Palestinians have very little to do with the things that the Irish hoped for, or that we hoped for once upon a time for that matter.

And that's exactly why I believe we should resist the temptation to say that the Irish "sound like" the Palestinians.
posted by koeselitz at 5:30 AM on January 19, 2009


daveg: The 'idea and dream' of Israel was wrong in 1948, but we have to live with the stupidity of the politicians of that time.

Again, hindsight is 20/20. Was the idea and dream of Israel wrong when it was conceived in the mind of Herzl in the 1890s? Was it that easy to tell?

Or are you talking about politicians from the UK?
posted by koeselitz at 5:38 AM on January 19, 2009


Why does "Israel did some bad stuff" keep leading to "Israel should be rethought and perhaps dissolved"?? I find this repeated linkage to be anti-semitic in itself. Is it just because Israel's creation is so new as to be in recent memory? Is it because the immediacy and distribution of local images and media over the internet and tv? Many many countries have done far worse to far more people yet we don't call for their destruction. Why the unthinking parroting and swallowing of talking points?
posted by sandking at 5:42 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


All due respect to the Troubles and all the suffering they brought, and I know that the Britain/Ireland parallel is another neat one that many like to point up, but the difference in scale is so great as the make the comparison fruitless.

I'm not sure that's strictly true. Compare this summary of fatalities from terrorist attacks in Israel, with this summary of deaths in the Troubles. It appears to me that the extent of the violence in each case is very similar. I don't think the claims of exceptional circumstances are helping the overall situation, given that they are typically (although not in this case) used to justify the excessive response.

It's really don't understand what Israel's goals are in this latest conflict. It's clear that you cannot prevent the kind of low-tech rocket attacks seen in Gaza in this manner. You can barely keep the required ingredients out of a prison, never mind a territory. History has repeatedly shown us that trying to intimidate people into compliance is a temporary , fragile and ultimately counter-productive method. The Israeli leadership are not stupid, so they know these things. It makes me wonder what the real goal is, when the stated goals are not achievable.
posted by Jakey at 5:42 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


I believe the most interesting similarity between both the Israeli and IRA campaigns was the American funding.

Interestingly the US was supporting a group of activists in Northern Ireland that drew very close similarities to the Palestinian cause, and actively supported it.

Yet the US supports one side in one situation and another when it suits them (money talks I guess. The Irish and Israeli lobbies are extremely effective it seems)

Many more people have been killed by IRA bombs than Palestinian.

In 30 years the IRA killed more than 1700 people.

From Israels own Ministry of Foreign affairs the deaths caused by terrorism in 30 years has been... 883 (1970 - 2000)

For the whole of the conflict since 1948 the toll is... 1815

That's a lot of people but when you consider Israel killed more people in a month than the Palestinians have killed in 30 years you have to wonder how in hell it is a measured response.
posted by twistedonion at 5:47 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: But I don't remember the Basques or Irish ever saying that Spain or Britain should cease to exist on the face of the earth

That's because two-state solutions were the goal in those cases, as the occupiers had their own country to go back to.

A legitimate democratic one-state solution in the former British Mandate can only mean 'Death to Israel' — the resulting country could no longer be explicitly a 'Jewish homeland' with a racial/religious basis for naturalization.
posted by blasdelf at 5:48 AM on January 19, 2009


Correct me if I'm wrong, but almost certain more civilians were killed by IRA actions than Israelis have been killed by rocket fire, in an ongoing campaign over almost two decades.

If you wish to make a legitimate comparison, choose one of the following:
more civilians were killed by IRA actions rocket fire than Israelis have been killed by rocket fire
more civilians were killed by IRA actions than Israelis have been killed by rocket fire Hamas actions

posted by oaf at 6:00 AM on January 19, 2009


"But I don't remember the Basques or Irish ever saying that Spain or Britain should cease to exist on the face of the earth..."

The Basques do not call for the destruction of Spain, because their aspirations do not extend outside of native Basque regions.

The Irish do not call for the destruction of England, because their aspirations do not extend to outside of Ireland and the areas that Irish were forced from.

So, given that many Arabs who lived in Israel have legitimate land claims, deeds, etc. inside of Israel that the state has refused to honor or give recompense for, that they are separated from their families and loved ones, in many cases, etc., how is this analogous?

And, as for Hamas, it's already been established that they changed their tune in the last election's platform, and, for the first time, stopped calling for anything like the destruction of Israel... not that they ever really did in their old charter, really.

It's constantly bantered about that Hamas' Charter "calls for the downfall of Israel", but that's invective, and not particularly accurate. Rather, it says that Israel will fall -- like all past nations on the land have fallen - and be replaced by the people and by Islam.

In truth, this is grounded in both patience and in their religious beliefs -- that the Mahdi and Jesus will return to rid the world of error, injustice, and tyranny.

But in any event, it's simply not comparable, and I don't think it's relevant to the subject of the post to keep regurgitating these sorts of half-baked comparisons and doctrinaire invective about Hamas, especially considering that Israel is founded on its own offensively elitist doctrinaire invective, such as:
- being the Chosen People, with the right to all the land clear up to near Damascus.
- about supposedly having superior intellect, with a Yiddishe kopf, as compared to the ugly term Goyishe Kopf.
- being both a religion and an ethnic group, even though the Palestinians are more genetically Jewish by the standards commonly applied than most Jews.
- The fact that the Talmud says that Gentiles are not men, and, indeed, are not entitled to many of the same rights as men.

Of course, *ALL* old religions have offensive dogma. Unfortunately, some still use it to justify their behavior, when it suits their needs. But it's just as wrong, whether it's done by Muslims, Christians, or Jews.

So, yes, let's please stop bringing up the same old "well, Hamas once said..." invective, because we don't need to go down that skipping record path again, and there's plenty of rotten things that Israelis have said and done too, oftentimes selectively twisting their own beliefs in order to justify it.
posted by markkraft at 6:02 AM on January 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


I have the greatest respect for Gerald Kaufman and his courage in speaking; but I don't think bringing the Nazis and the IRA into the issue helps to clarify or reinforce his points.
posted by Phanx at 6:04 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Are those who take a negative view of Palestinians also labeled anti-Semites?
posted by gman at 6:17 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you wish to make a legitimate comparison...
You're right of course, but it stands up either way. Hasty phrasing.
Agree with Phanx too - the recent actions of the Israeli state can be condemned in clear terms without muddying the waters and inviting the kind of diversion comparisons evoke.
posted by Abiezer at 6:18 AM on January 19, 2009


Just to clarify, my own position on this whole shebang is very simple. 100 years ago neither Ireland or Palestine existed as independant countries.

The UK, probably thinking they were doing the right thing regarding national self determination, split these areas up so that each area would have a working majority of inhabitants to create viable states.

So we ended up with the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and also with Israel/Palestine.

The Republic Of Ireland for years refused to recognise the legitimacy (and I'd say many Irish still do) of Northern Ireland. In the same way the Palestinians refuse to recognise the legitimacy of Israel.

Fact is that both of these gerrymandered states exist and will continue to do so until the majority of people in those countries wish otherwise.

The IRA / Sinn Fein have accepted this on principle and that's a big part of how we got to where we are today.

Hamas still refuse to acknowledge Israels right to exist. Hamas need to get to the stage Sinn Fein are now at (even with Politicians in Israel as well as Palestine, as crazy an idea as that may be).

Then Hamas could actively work towards reuniting Palestine from within. Israel, like Northern Ireland, will cease to be the minute there are a majority of it's citizens who want that.
posted by twistedonion at 6:20 AM on January 19, 2009


Max Blumenthal vs. the Jews
posted by geos at 6:23 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


How many Palestinians are there? A couple million? Why don't 10 Arab countries each take in 200,000 of them, give them their own small city and citizenship for each. A little costly upfront but bam, you immediately have a small city adding to economic output and consumption so it'd pay off long term. If they'd done it last year, the number of barrels of oil per Palestinian that it would have cost would have been much lower.
posted by jamstigator at 6:26 AM on January 19, 2009


koeselitz: I would say that the idea of the state of Israel was as wrong in the 19th and early twentieth centuries as the idea now of a native american homeland in Manhattan.

sandking: I don't know where you got "Israel should be rethought and perhaps dissolved" - you are simply trying to put words into people's mouths in order to then accuse them of anti-semitism.

twistedonion: So Hamas should recognise Israel's right to exist - what like they did in 2006?

jamstigator: (Sarcasm)Or the US could take back all of those from Israel(/Sarcasm)
posted by daveg at 6:32 AM on January 19, 2009


How many Israelis are there? A couple million? Why don't 10 Western countries each take in 200,000 of them, give them their own small city and citizenship for each. A little costly upfront but bam, you immediately have a small city adding to economic output and consumption so it'd pay off long term. If they'd done it last year, the number of barrels of oil per Israeli that it would have cost would have been much lower.
posted by claudius at 6:38 AM on January 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


Hi! For my reading pleasure, would it be possible to refrain from this:

Please, please let it be the time for Jews to openly and honestly discuss the future of Israel among themselves and in the public sphere. Too much has been left unsaid for too long.

as response to discussion of what are probably Isreali war crimes?

And while this:

Britain, to their credit, did not level Ireland

is true, had Britain committed greater crimes during the troubles, lefties would not be asking why Brits never openly speak of ending their country.

Don't make me make ominous threats to end your metafilter account.

Er. I don't mean to trivialize a very terrible situation, or imply that these assholes shouldn't be hauled away to The Hague.

posted by ~ at 6:39 AM on January 19, 2009


The 'idea and dream' of Israel was wrong in 1948, but we have to live with the stupidity of the politicians of that time.
posted by daveg at 5:21 AM on January 19 [+] [!]


This argument will get you nowhere. Israelis consider that Jerusalem and all of the old kingdom of Israel rightly belongs to them, their ancestors were forced out and now they are taking back what is rightfully theirs. You cannot argue logically against this kind of ideology.

I know a palestinian whose house was demolished in the 90s by Israel, and the land given to an American-Jewish family from New York. He still has the deed to the land, and was given no compensation for the seizure and demolition, and the only reason he is not in a camp in Lebanon is because he was visiting family in Europe at the time. His family had been living there for three generations. He will hold a grudge against Israel for the rest of his life, and who can blame him?
posted by Vindaloo at 6:42 AM on January 19, 2009 [18 favorites]


markkrarft, with all due respect, I would advise you strongly from quoting excerpts from the Talmud as demonstration for your perceived justification of Israeli actions. I have seen this done on some of the most virulent anti-Semitic websites and your using it here makes me extremely biased towards anything you say and less inclined to enter further into this debate.

Someone like you, who has knowledge of the history on both sides, knows very well that the early Zionists were mostly secular socialists who probably trusted more in the works of Marx than the Mishna.
posted by PenDevil at 6:46 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


This is one of the most civilized I/P discussions I've seen on MetaFilter—kudos to the poster and commenters.

These two are not equal, and you know it.

Huh? What part of Israel (formerly Palestine) was not taken from the Palestinians? That's like claiming America wasn't taken from the... what's the term? oh yes: Native Americans.
posted by languagehat at 6:53 AM on January 19, 2009


twistedonion: So Hamas should recognise Israel's right to exist - what like they did in 2006?

I stand corrected then. Though to be honest if you actually read what was said:

"Hamas is prepared to accept those parts of the document because they think it is a way to get rid of a lot of its problems with the international community. That's why it will accept all the document eventually," he said.

eventually? This reminds me of the tit for tat politics that still pisses me off in Northern Ireland. "we will do this if you do that". I honestly don't think Israel ever wants a Palestinian State and I doubt Hamas will ever settle for a Palestine with Israel in existence. We can all agree to anything eventually.
posted by twistedonion at 6:57 AM on January 19, 2009


Holy crap that Blumenthal video is hilarious, geos.

jamstigator: How many Palestinians are there? A couple million? Why don't 10 Arab countries each take in 200,000 of them, give them their own small city and citizenship for each.

Can you take a half step back, look at this sentence, and see how inherently racist it is?

Yes, brilliant. My friend Bishara's family has lived on their land in Bethlehem for nearly 1,000 years. But, hey! Israel needs more land, can't have all those Arabs around mucking things up. Ship them to Jordan! I'm sure they'd love it there. It's all Araby and stuff.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:11 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I would advise you strongly from quoting excerpts from the Talmud as demonstration for your perceived justification of Israeli actions."

And yet, those who blindly support Israel call Islam a religion of hate and violence, and oftentimes don't even quote verbatim from Hamas' charter in order to explain their somewhat hamfisted claim that they "call for the destruction of Israel". Never mind that Jewish beliefs are sometimes used to call for the destruction of Palestine, in the name of a greater Israel.

My point stands. Judaism, Christianity, Islam... it's *ALL* has ugly dogma. And it's all been twisted in the past to suit some very ugly, secular agendas. And yes, that *ABSOLUTELY* includes Zionism, despite the fact that its founders were socialists.

Just listen to Olmert in the interview above, when he flat-out rejects any compromise on Israel's full control of Jerusalem? Where does that intractable behavior come from? It's zionism, floating on a big steaming pile of arrogantly doctrinaire Judaism. And yet, I don't think you'd get any single person here who would tell you that Judaism is inherently evil or bad.

If you can't handle straight, accurate quotes from your religious texts -- especially after a decade in which the followers of Islam have been routinely been put in the same situation, by people who, unlike me, would twist the wording and take it out of full context -- well, tough.

If you can't accept it when I specifically point out that religious extremism of *ALL* types is wrong when it's used to justify violence and hatred, and then proceed to take a wild leap and link me with anti-semites, well... I'm sorry, but that's terribly insulting to me, and it insults the intelligence of every person on MetaFilter, who has the *RIGHT* to speak their mind on Israel, without being called an anti-semite.

Supporting Israel, I can kind of understand, but to smear me like that? Frankly, that's beneath you.

I'm not asking you to defend Judaism. I'm just asking you to admit what is obvious to pretty much everyone else in the world... that zionism uses Judaism to support its own ends, sometimes in a dehumanizing or manipulative way, and, when they do, it's extremely distasteful to others, including many, many Jews.
posted by markkraft at 7:16 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Someone like you, who has knowledge of the history on both sides, knows very well that the early Zionists were mostly secular socialists who probably trusted more in the works of Marx than the Mishna.

Herzl wrote in his diary that land in Palestine was to be gently expropriated from the Palestinian Arabs and they were to be worked across the border "unbemerkt" (surreptitiously), e.g. by refusing them employment.
posted by gman at 7:19 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, jamstigator's comment is one of the dumbest things i've read on this site in a while. And really, there is a lot of dumb stuff posted here. A lot. I'm glad people called him out on it.
posted by chunking express at 7:34 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, jamstigator's comment is one of the dumbest things i've read on this site in a while.

Nobody flag it. It needs to remain.
posted by gman at 7:40 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


"zionism uses Judaism to support its own ends, sometimes in a dehumanizing or manipulative way, and, when they do, it's extremely distasteful to others, including many, many Jews."

... and here's a good example of that, from Michael Warschawski.

"Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni, Gabi Ashkenazi and Ehud Olmert--don’t you dare show your faces at any memorial ceremony for the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto, Lublin, Vilna or Kishinev. And you too, leaders of Peace Now, for whom peace means a pacification of the Palestinian resistance by any means, including the destruction of a people. Whenever I will be there, I shall personally do my best to expel each of you from these events, for your very presence would be an immense sacrilege.

You have no right to speak in the name of the martyrs of our people. You are not Anne Frank of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp but Hans Frank, the German general who acted to starve and destroy the Jews of Poland.

You are not representing any continuity with the Warsaw Ghetto, because today the Warsaw Ghetto is right in front of you, targeted by your own tanks and artillery, and its name is Gaza. Gaza that you have decided to eliminate from the map, as General Frank intended to eliminate the Ghetto. But, unlike the Ghettos of Poland and Belorussia, in which the Jews were left almost alone, Gaza will not be eliminated because millions of men and women from the four corners of our world are building a powerful human shield carrying two words: Never Again!

Together with tens of thousands of other Jews, from Canada to Great Britain, from Australia to Germany, we are warning you: don't dare to speak in our names, because we will run after you, even, if needed, to the hell of war-criminals, and stuff your words down your throat until you ask for forgiveness for having mixed us up with your crimes."

posted by markkraft at 7:57 AM on January 19, 2009


markkraft: I would probably find you more convincing if I thought your comments made it clear that you understand the difference between being Jewish and being Israeli or the difference between zionism and Judaism.
posted by davidstandaford at 8:10 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


markkraft: I would probably find you more convincing if you hadn't posted a load of emotionally charged invective comparing Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto.

Even Fisk thinks (to his credit) that is a bad comparison,

"I have long raged against any comparisons with the Second World War – whether of the Arafat-is-Hitler variety once deployed by Menachem Begin or of the anti-war-demonstrators-are-1930s-appeasers, most recently used by George Bush and Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara. And pro-Palestinian marchers should think twice before they start waffling about genocide when the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem once shook Hitler's hand and said – in Berlin on 2 November 1943, to be precise – "The Germans know how to get rid of the Jews... They have definitely solved the Jewish problem." The Grand Mufti, it need hardly be added, was a Palestinian. He lies today in a shabby grave about two miles from my Beirut home.

No, the real reason why "Gaza-Genocide" is a dangerous parallel is because it is not true. Gaza's one and a half million refugees are treated outrageously enough, but they are not being herded into gas chambers or forced on death marches. That the Israeli army is a rabble is not in question – though I was amused to read one of Newsweek's regular correspondents calling it "splendid" last week – but that does not mean they are all war criminals. The issue, surely, is that war crimes do appear to have been committed in Gaza. Firing at UN schools is a criminal act. It breaks every International Red Cross protocol. There is no excuse for the killing of so many women and children."
posted by Ugandan Discussions at 8:32 AM on January 19, 2009


On his return [to Norway, Dr.] Fosse submitted a report to his government in which he accused the IDF of deliberately targeting civilians.

Fosse is, of course, a like-minded colleague of this Norwegian doctor who went to Gaza with him.

Yeah, jamstigator's comment is one of the dumbest things i've read on this site in a while. And really, there is a lot of dumb stuff posted here. A lot. I'm glad people called him out on it.

I presume all these people support a right of return and reparations for Jews who were expelled from Muslim countries following the creation of Israel.

I would advise you strongly from quoting excerpts from the Talmud as demonstration for your perceived justification of Israeli actions.

Given the virulence and palpable hatred in all of his posts, you are surprised that Mark Kraft is resorting to tactics from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion playbook? There is absolutely no doubt about his true beliefs, and I would not waste time on appeals to his decency.

If you want to be taken seriously, you may want to be a lot more careful not to confuse anti-Semitism, which has a very specific meaning, with criticism of Israel's military activities.

So many people should give daily thanks to the anti-Semites in Soviet government who invented this convenient fig leaf decades ago to lend credibility to their genuine aims. You don't want us to call it anti-Semitism? Let me rephrase it for you.

Obsessive, selective, and disproportionate attacks on Israel, which single it out among Russia, China, Sudan, and numerous Muslim nations with far worse human rights records, are racist and xenophobic.

Calling for the dissolution of Israel, while acknowledging the right of worse human rights offenders to exist, is racist and xenophobic.

This last one stays the same, however:

Hyperbolic comparisons of the actions of a predominantly Jewish state with the Holocaust, the worst disaster in Jewish history, are anti-Semitic.

Now back to your Two Minute Hate.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:34 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


As for the displacement of locals when Israel was created, there is not a country that was ever born that didn't involve displacing someone.

So why didn't they give Bavaria to the Jews after the war?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:37 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, I've heard a few times that the Jewish people were offered a big chunk of land in Ecuador after WWII - and that a running joke around Israel is that they should have taken it - but the internet is strangely silent, not even denying it as a hoax...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:41 AM on January 19, 2009


Dear David Standaford,

Here are the definitions you requested.

Jewish: Someone who identifies as either being a follower of Judaism, or of being of Jewish origin.
(Example:
"I'm Jewish because love my family Matzoh ball soup
I'm Jewish because my fathers mothers uncles grandmothers said "Jewish,"
all theway back to Vitebsk & Kaminetz-Podolska via Lvov.
Jewish because reading Dostoyevsky at 13
I write poems a restaurant tables LowerEast Side, perfect delicatessen intellectual.
Jewish because violent Zionists make my blood boil. Progressive indignation."

- Allen Ginsberg

Israeli: Someone who is a citizen of the State of Israel. Israel provides Jews around the world with the "right of return," which means that they can come to Israel and assume Israeli citizenship without going through a naturalization process. Surprisingly, though the State of Israel has a large Arab minority, it does not extend the same rights to all their fellow Israelis.

Zionism: This was originally a political movement by violent socialist radicals who supported the State of Israel's mission of establishing a Jewish state and homeland for the Jewish people which had very limited religious support within the Jewish community, but started changing considerably after the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and became a fait accompli after the Holocaust. Today, it's key beliefs are the right to a Jewish state in Israel, though some extremist Zionists believe in the right to settle, expand into, and displace others currently living in a Greater Israel, as defined by the Torah.

Judaism: The Jewish religion.

David Standaford: Insulting, dismissive person who relies on such insults to shut off legitimate discourse, because he can't figure out other legitimate ways to defend what most MeFi users consider indefensible actions by the State of Israel.
posted by markkraft at 8:42 AM on January 19, 2009


When all the talk settles down, I wonder when some anti-Israeli lads or lasses will mention this:

http://www.jcpa.org/jpsr/jpsr-beker-f05.htm

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&client=firefox-a&channel=s&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=y5H&resnum=0&q=jewish+refugees+from+arab+nations&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&resnum=4&ct=title#

750,000 Jews forcefully expelled from Arab nations, all they owned taken, their roots for cen turies destroyed. But why worry about small details.
posted by Postroad at 8:43 AM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


markkraft: especially considering that Israel is founded on its own offensively elitist doctrinaire invective, such as:
- being the Chosen People, with the right to all the land clear up to near Damascus.
- about supposedly having superior intellect, with a Yiddishe kopf, as compared to the ugly term Goyishe Kopf.
- being both a religion and an ethnic group, even though the Palestinians are more genetically Jewish by the standards commonly applied than most Jews.
- The fact that the Talmud says that Gentiles are not men, and, indeed, are not entitled to many of the same rights as men.


You really thought I was going to have a rational civilized debate concerning that comment?
posted by davidstandaford at 8:57 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


"are surprised that Mark Kraft is resorting to tactics from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion playbook? There is absolutely no doubt about his true beliefs..."

Such class, Krrrlson. There is absolutely no doubt that you are trying to smear me to shut down legitimate debate, because you cannot discuss the facts of the matter reasonably.

I should point out that I did not link to a single misleading article, and would never stoop to such a thing. The only comparisons made to the Warsaw Ghetto in this post have come from links to two prominent members of the Jewish community who are opposed to Israel. I tend to agree with Fisk on this matter, at least as far as the scale of the behavior.

That said, much of the non-genocidal behavior is the same, and deserves to be criticized as being the same.

I think it's understandable that these Jewish individuals are drawing the comparison, and find it a bit insulting that they or anyone would suggest that just because they made the comparison to the general behavior, that it necessarily meant that what Israel was currently doing was as killing the civilian population with poison gas.

They deserve more intellectual respect, as do I. So do the people who read this site, frankly.
posted by markkraft at 8:58 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, I've heard a few times that the Jewish people were offered a big chunk of land in Ecuador after WWII - and that a running joke around Israel is that they should have taken it - but the internet is strangely silent, not even denying it as a hoax...

I'd heard Argentina, but can't confirm this either. Nonetheless, the list of sites proposed fro a Jewish state include Uganda, the Kimberlies, British Guyana, Vietnam, Alaska and many more ...
posted by outlier at 9:03 AM on January 19, 2009


Postroad, lucky you are here to mention that fact in every thread on this subject.

Are the situations comparable? I suppose, "yes," in that it was the creation of the state of Israel that resulted in both diaspora's forming. Mind you, I suspect the Jewish diaspora in Israel is faring better for itself. Even then, does both sides treating each other like shit some how make everything A-OK? I'm not so sure.
posted by chunking express at 9:04 AM on January 19, 2009


Are the situations comparable? I suppose, "yes," in that it was the creation of the state of Israel that resulted in both diaspora's forming.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "resulted," but I wanted to make clear, the creation of the state of Israel didn't cause all of those Arab countries to kick their Jews out, and there were plenty of countries that kicked all of their Jews out long before Israel ever existed.
posted by davidstandaford at 9:10 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


An honest question: Why don't the folks in Gaza (whomever they are) just stop firing the rockets and see what happens?
posted by MarshallPoe at 9:17 AM on January 19, 2009


Russia, China, Sudan, and numerous Muslim nations

The big difference to me is that large sums of money from my taxes go to Israel and not to these other, even more evil countries.

I feel that my views might be typical of many people here so let me explain them to you.

I grew up supporting Israel as an amazing dream. I'm sure I'd be able to live a "modern liberal life" in Israel but in few if any of the other countries of the Middle East.

Except for Mr. Gorbachev, whom I view as a latter-day saint who saved the lives of millions of people by allowing and guiding the break-up of the Soviet Union without any major violence, I am not and have never been at all sympathetic to the rulers of Russia, China, Sudan nor numerous Muslim nations.

The big difference is the tremendous financial and military support given to Israel by the US government. This has already blown back and affected me: one of Bin Laden's two stated objectives in 9/11 was to protest the US's support of Israel, and I live in New York City.

Now, if Israel had the moral high ground then it'd be a different matter. But it doesn't.

Over the last couple of decades I've moved from supporting Israel to calling for war crimes trials. It's happened a step at the time, the settlers, people being buried in their homes, the Lebanon war was a key step for me.

Lebanon is so typical of the whole thing. A seven Israeli soldiers were killed or wounded and Israel responded by killing almost two thousand people, laying waste to civilian areas, and, most shamefully, laying over a hundred thousand cluster bomblets right at the end of the war (yes, really that many - over 60,000 have already been removed and work continues...)

The whole thing is massively egregious. Both the Lebanon war and the current war should have been dealt with as police matters. You're more likely to die in violence in the United States than in Israel - why doesn't the Army invade the Bronx, then? The idea of killing civilians to persuade a small number of criminals to cease their operations is barbaric. Yes, the other guys are also doing this, but nowhere near as successfully - in wars involving Israel, the casualty rate for Arab vs. Israeli civilians is about 10:1. And I'm not paying for the other guys in my taxes - I bear no moral responsibility for their actions.

So this is it in a nutshell. It has zero to do with "anti-semitism". There is no question that I'm personally "pro-semitic" - and many of my Jewish friends are much more incensed about this than I. They aren't "self-hating Jews" - they honestly see little or no connection between the inhabitants of Israel and themselves aside from the very wide brush of "race", the ethical imperative being much stronger for them.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:18 AM on January 19, 2009 [13 favorites]


not to mention the fact that a lot of work and ingenuity has gone into making the Israeli state what it is today.

(sits back and waits for the obligatory comment about US tax dollars.)

No denying that Israel receives lots of money from the US - but it's not the US that figured out how to bring agriculture to the desert. It's not the US that has made the Israeli infrastructure what it is today. Compare that to what you see in many Arab countries and the difference is striking. Surely there could be some kind of grassroots Arab movement to help the Palestinians, bring progressive values and open debate to their countries, empower their populations, etc.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:20 AM on January 19, 2009


Since we are talking about my supposed attitudes towards Judaism -- which, incidentally, are completely unfounded and untrue; I only hate how Zionists have perverted Judaism to their own ugly ends -- why don't we mention more clearly defined attitudes against, say, those who are Islamic by the people who are trying to falsely smear me here.

"Why must we always go back to the middle ages to show how grand a religion/people were? Muslims, it seems to me, place their religion well aboive loyalty to a political state, and if they are in a majorty, they often want or prefer sharia law; and if in a minority, seldom speak out for violence perpetrated eleswhere by Muslims. Show me then a state with a mulim majority that has liberal democracy and is not in piss poor shape."

Postroad on Rwanda

Why didn't you actually address the issues of Rwanda, Postroad? I addressed the issues of Israel.

If you had said :
"Why must we always go back to the middle ages to show how grand a religion/people were? Jews, it seems to me, place their religion well aboive loyalty to a political state, and if they are in a majorty, they often want or prefer religious law; and if in a minority, seldom speak out for violence perpetrated eleswhere by Jews. Show me then a state with a Jewish majority that has liberal democracy and is not in piss poor shape."

What would you be calling yourself today?!

As I said,
"Of course, *ALL* old religions have offensive dogma. Unfortunately, some still use it to justify their behavior, when it suits their needs. But it's just as wrong, whether it's done by Muslims, Christians, or Jews."

In what way is that anything remotely equivalent to your overt hate speech?

Perhaps you should remove that two-by-four sticking out of your eye before you complain about my mote.
posted by markkraft at 9:21 AM on January 19, 2009


markkraft, I had a feeling you might agree with Fisk that the offensive in Gaza was not genocide and is not comparable to the Warsaw Ghetto, but wasn't it the same markkraft who posted the following passage (with apparent approval),

"You are not representing any continuity with the Warsaw Ghetto, because today the Warsaw Ghetto is right in front of you, targeted by your own tanks and artillery, and its name is Gaza. Gaza that you have decided to eliminate from the map, as General Frank intended to eliminate the Ghetto." ?

I'm afraid you can't have it both ways - it cannot be a legitimate comparison and an illegitimate comparison at the same time. I know it can be upsetting to be more pious than the pope sometimes. Still, no excuse for cognitive dissonance, eh?

I have just looked at your earlier posts and your use of the Talmud is without context. Rules of Talmudic homiletics anyone? The suggestion that it is Jewish doctrine or the doctrine of the State of Israel that non-Jews are not human is false and defamatory. That passage is beloved by far-right groups. Would you care to tell us where you first read it?
posted by Ugandan Discussions at 9:26 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


David Standaford: Insulting, dismissive person who relies on such insults to shut off legitimate discourse, because he can't figure out other legitimate ways to defend what most MeFi users consider indefensible actions by the State of Israel.

I'm happy to defend Israel at a time when I think unfair attacks are being made and to offer a defense when I think illegitimate accusations are being thrown about. To be honest, I'm not actually sure what exactly we are arguing about in this particular thread, in terms of actions by the State of Israel. If it is the Gaza operation as a whole, I think part of it is defensible and part probably not. We already had the thread about White Phosphorous (which I commented in), and the boat delivering aid that got rammed and maybe one on the strike on the UN building (I'm not sure if that one got it's one post here at Metafilter). For the record, I think Israel is completely justified in a full military blockade of Gaza and can and should work to stop weapons smuggling into the area, but a blockade of any humanitarian supplies or gas or water is wrong and immoral and almost certainly illegal.

For the most part, in terms of specific actions, I haven't seen enough information yet to make conclusions about war crimes or what was an accident, Israel's fault, or Hamas's fault.

Like I said, this thread mostly seems to be about what are the best analogies in this situation or what language is appropriate or inappropriate and I think you said something that crossed the line and I said so.
posted by davidstandaford at 9:28 AM on January 19, 2009


"I wanted to make clear, the creation of the state of Israel didn't cause all of those Arab countries to kick their Jews out, and there were plenty of countries that kicked all of their Jews out long before Israel ever existed."

Can you provide some neutral evidence to support that claim? I have seen figures from immigration coming to Israel, and I am not aware of any other country that kicked out all of its Jews -- as you claimed -- prior to 1948. Indeed, I don't know of any country that kicked *ALL* of them out even during '48, and statistics I have seen on immigration to Israel showed that it peaked in 1951.

Indeed, many Arab states -- such as Iraq -- specifically refused to allow their Jews to immigrate in the first year or two after the conflict, because they were concerned that they would immigrate to Israel and strengthen it as a result.
posted by markkraft at 9:28 AM on January 19, 2009


Sir Kauffman is a very brave man and should be applauded for his honesty. If one's "own kind" is under scrutiny, it is very difficult to stand up and speak uncomfortable truths.
posted by cell divide at 9:34 AM on January 19, 2009


an interesting article by mark levine on the history of palestinian resistance and what he considers to be lost opportunities
posted by pyramid termite at 9:36 AM on January 19, 2009


aside/ There is a theory that the move to targeting commercial spaces was what helped get the IRA/Sinn Fein the leverage that they needed to negotiate the ceasefire with the British. The damage in Manchester (and various other large bombings) was financial rather than visceral, for the main part.

another aside/ Postroad, you have your own website and have been a member here for over eight years, yet you still don't use the link button on the comment box. WTF?

OT, attempting to smear the messenger wont make the message go away.*

It is possible be proud of ones country and yet also ashamed of it's government and bellicosity at the same time. I am personally not at all proud of the vast majority what the UK has done at home or abroad during my lifetime, however I am proud of the little good we have contributed to the world in that time. The war crimes of the US and UK are a blight on all of us and demand full investigation and repercussions for those involved.

It seems to me that Kaufman et al are on the same wavelength.

PROTIP - if the Red Cross make a statement that your government/army are probably committing war crimes, then your government/army are probably committing war crimes. They are very careful not to make any statements that can be construed as being political, they just tell the truth.

*Using bold text wont make statements any more authoritative, fyi ; )
posted by asok at 9:40 AM on January 19, 2009


Can you provide some neutral evidence to support that claim?

Wikipedia is sometimes helpful.

It would not be difficult to put together the names of a very sizeable number of Jewish subjects or citizens of the Islamic area who have attained to high rank, to power, to great financial influence, to significant and recognized intellectual attainment; and the same could be done for Christians. But it would again not be difficult to compile a lengthy list of persecutions, arbitrary confiscations, attempted forced conversions, or pogroms.

I suspect this won't persuade you, though, and you'll quibble about how no Arab nation officially expelled every single jew.
posted by generalist at 9:42 AM on January 19, 2009


and I am not aware of any other country that kicked out all of its Jews -- as you claimed -- prior to 1948.

I didn't make it clear, but I was speaking historically. Over the last 2,000 years there have been plenty of times when various kings and governments either expelled all of their Jews or passed various ordinances that allowed for conversion or death if the Jews didn't leave. [We happened to have a lecture today on the history of Rabbinic Judaism from around 1000 to 1500 so this came up...]

Indeed, I don't know of any country that kicked *ALL* of them out even during '48, and statistics I have seen on immigration to Israel showed that it peaked in 1951.

You're correct, I was being hyperbolic. According to the Wikipedia article, "Jewish exodus from Arab lands" it doesn't look like in any of the Arab countries was every single Jew expelled after the founding of Israel.
posted by davidstandaford at 9:44 AM on January 19, 2009


It's quite clear that either side could force the other into peace through peaceful means : The Palestinians could obviously renounce violence and stop listening to those calling for the destruction of Israel while continuing their protests, eventually they'd convince the Israelis to elect politicians who'd listen. The Israelis could simply build their wall along the correct boundary while ignoring the rockets and negotiating. So why doesn't either side accept such an approach?

(1) People don't usually take such high roads anyway. Gandi sold this approach only because (a) Hinduism provided the framework, which Islam definitely doesn't, and (b) no powerful outside forces were calling for violence. I'm not sure how MLK sold this approach given Christianity's violent nature, but likely Gandi's recent success helped immeasurably.

(2) People are less likely to take the high road if they are not threatened. It was mostly civil rights organizers being killed by the KKK, meaning ordinary blacks were not forced to fight and could hide until the peaceful movement came alone; however, ordinary Palestinians are being killed by Israel now. Conversely, Israel has historically had all their neighbors calling for their extermination. Heck, Palestinians asking that Hamas halt the rockets are often quite to offer that they just need to wait for a better rocket! So you can't really compare Israel's situation with the Manchester bombings.

I think the main answer is that the U.S. & E.U. must halt the vast majority of their foreign aid, both to Israel and other nations, especially military aid. I suspect the reduced military resources will mean Israel losing the capacity for "targeted killing". So then Israel will be forced into again attempting fair negotiations while accepting more casualties. I'd hope they'd rebuild the wall along more more correct boundaries at minimum.

Will the Palestinians negotiate once Israel loses U.S. backing? Maybe. Maybe not. I suspect this will mostly depend upon Hamas being backed by Sunni states (note Iran is Shiite). I'd say the most likely end is very low level violence with the wall being mostly effective, but if Hamas receives strong military backing while Israel doesn't then presumably the Israelis will be forced into carpet bombing.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:46 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This post and the subsequent thread, like almost all I/P material here, is mostly poo, but I did want to drop in to say that the link under "targeted by Zionist websites" in the OP is some crazy, nasty stuff -- hundreds of names of Jews who the proprietors think aren't supportive enough of Israel, some with their pictures, some with their e-mails or phone numbers, some with weird and unpleasant speculations about their sexual activities. It's worth pointing out that this kind of noxious slime has nothing to do with 99.99% of people who would call themselves "Zionists."
posted by escabeche at 9:49 AM on January 19, 2009


I've been wondering why the Gaza conflict gets so much attention, especially on the Left, whereas conflicts like Sri Lanka and the Congo get barely any attention at all. Where are the people wearing Tamil Tiger shirts in solidarity? Where are the long discussion threads on the Congo?

But I think that lupus_yonderboy pretty much defines it. The primary, possibly the only reason people care about Israel is that the U.S. supports Israel. Americans can't really get up real passion about anything other than themselves, so really, this whole thing isn't about Israel at all, it's about the U.S..

So, that being the case, shouldn't we switch the debate to what WE want out of the region?
posted by happyroach at 9:52 AM on January 19, 2009


On the question of the commission of war crimes, the Red Cross is not an expert in international law and nor are the journalists currently writing reams on the subject.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court has framed the issue as follows:


"Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable, does not in itself constitute a war crime. International humanitarian law and the Rome Statute permit belligerents to carry out proportionate attacks against military objectives,[1] even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) (Article 8(2)(b)(i)) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality) (Article 8(2)(b)(iv). Article 8(2)(b)(iv) criminalizes:
Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated;
Article 8(2)(b)(iv) draws on the principles in Article 51(5)(b) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, but restricts the criminal prohibition to cases that are "clearly" excessive. The application of Article 8(2)(b)(iv) [of the Rome Statute] requires, inter alia, an assessment of:
(a) the anticipated civilian damage or injury;
(b) the anticipated military advantage;
(c) and whether (a) was "clearly excessive" in relation to (b).
"
posted by Ugandan Discussions at 9:53 AM on January 19, 2009


I was talking to an Israeli woman at Burning Man year before last. Her son was
in one of the big theme camps, and they were out to visit him, consciously trying
not to embarrass him (it didn't work: "dude, your MOM's here to see you..").

She mentioned that after the mandatory military service, a lot of Israeli kids go on
a Wanderjahr. There is a growing tendency for them to not return to Israel. She
worried aloud that there was something wrong with her country.

I took a breath to ask her what she thought that was, but she forcibly changed the
subject, with a comment that it was too complicated to discuss.
posted by the Real Dan at 9:54 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


"You are not representing any continuity with the Warsaw Ghetto, because today the Warsaw Ghetto is right in front of you, targeted by your own tanks and artillery, and its name is Gaza. Gaza that you have decided to eliminate from the map, as General Frank intended to eliminate the Ghetto." ?

"I'm afraid you can't have it both ways - it cannot be a legitimate comparison and an illegitimate comparison at the same time."

First point: I did not link to this post because of the Warsaw Ghetto comparison. I linked to it because it's a good example of some fairly widespread outrage in the Jewish community against what Israel has done. Take a look at the comment I made, and you'll see that's so.

I don't feel the need to defend the exact wording of everyone I link to, in order to feel that they're worthy of discussion. That's an awfully foolish and stifling way to report a relatively uncovered angle on what's going on. My primary link was about Jewish criticism of Israel, using Gerald Kaufman as the prime example... but should I be responsible for what he says? Hardly.

As for the There are very few perfect comparisons to things that happen in this world.

That said, I think it's reasonable to suspect that those who made the comparison consider the concentration camps as something seperate from the Warsaw Ghetto itself. If they had really meant that Gaza was like Auchwitz, you'd think perhaps they might've said it, right?!

Dragging the concentration camps into the issue is just another way to try to avoid discussing the matter. It's like playing a Godwin Card on those comparisons which *ARE* legitimate and which were implied, but it's certainly stretching Godwin to the breaking point.

Some people want to talk about the issues raised by the post... and some people want to debate semantics, slander others, or basically stifle conversation.
posted by markkraft at 10:12 AM on January 19, 2009


I would like to briefly point out that the Jewish expulsion from Arab lands does not justify the behavior exhibited by Israel. One crime does not somehow make another acceptable.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:17 AM on January 19, 2009


Given the virulence and palpable hatred in all of his posts, you are surprised that Mark Kraft is resorting to tactics from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion playbook? There is absolutely no doubt about his true beliefs, and I would not waste time on appeals to his decency.

This thread has been going remarkably well from all sides. Don't do this. This shit is entirely unnecessary.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:27 AM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


I would like to briefly point out that the Jewish expulsion from Arab lands does not justify the behavior exhibited by Israel. One crime does not somehow make another acceptable.

I trust you've read the innumerable comments in these threads explaining how Hamas et al are, if not justified, then at least understood in their violent response to Israeli oppression?

I shouldn't have read this thread, much less be posting in it. Reprise of an old post:

The most striking feature of contemporary moral utterance is that so much of it is used to express disagreements; and the most striking feature of the debates in which these disagreements are expressed is their interminable character. I do not mean by this that such debates go on and on and on--although they do--but also that they apparently can find no terminus...

Alasdair Macintyre, After Virtue

Israel kills babies! Hamas shoots rockets! Israel exists! Israel should not exist! On both sides claims of righteousness are weighed on invisible scales of ineffable measure.
posted by generalist at 10:29 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want to make one more point and that's that it's certain that the Jews have both contributed disproportionately to the science and culture of humanity and also have suffered disproportionately at the hands of others throughout history.

No one denies this. But the problem of the Middle East comes down to that of two men with knives on a short chain at the ankles. Israel's knife is bigger but everyone's going to get the shit cut out of them unless everyone keeps their tempers.

When it comes down to it, the Israelis and Palestinians have more in common than most groups in the world. I'm not just talking about the common genetic heritage or the common geographic heritage, their common pride or predilection for violence - but even more, they have suffered the scourge of this disease of man's violence to man, they have all buried murdered friends and relatives, and lived in fear of attacks upon their communities.

They should say, "The list of grievances on both sides are infinitely long, and thus cancel. The dust at our feet contains the honoured dead fallen in battle over centuries, from both sides: since we cannot escape one another, we should band together and help each other prosper, lest we all die and leave no one to remember their names, or ours."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:32 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some people want to talk about the issues raised by the post... and some people want to debate semantics, slander others, or basically stifle conversation.

What are the issues raised by the post? The post itself seems to be about how Kaufman has been mistreated and whether or not what Israel is doing is close enough to what the Nazis did that the comparison can be made. Is that what we should be arguing about?

I wasn't able to watch the video. Did everyone else watch it? Is there something in there that we should be arguing about?
posted by davidstandaford at 10:33 AM on January 19, 2009


"I didn't make it clear, but I was speaking historically."

And I was speaking about the modern State of Israel. (You didn't really want the Spaniards to compensate those who fled during the Spanish Inquisition, did you?!)

"Indeed, I don't know of any country that kicked *ALL* of them out even during '48, and statistics I have seen on immigration to Israel showed that it peaked in 1951.

You're correct, I was being hyperbolic. According to the Wikipedia article, "Jewish exodus from Arab lands" it doesn't look like in any of the Arab countries was every single Jew expelled after the founding of Israel.


Indeed. Around '50-'51, many of them made it both optional, yet the oftentimes repressive conditions in these countries made it highly desireable to immigrate to Israel. Many of these states restricted how much Jewish immigrants could leave with, and made renunciation of citizenship a requirement to leaving.

Not nice at all, but still, arguably preferable to the flight of those Palestinians who felt they had to flee for their lives or for basic services like access to water, and far more legally binding, in that it was "consentual". Given the potential benefits of moving to Israel, I have to wonder how many would've left whether they were treated politely or not.

The problem with the whole argument, perhaps, is that given how the Palestinian issue has polarized and incited the Muslim community, how many Israeli citizens would willingly leave to return to an area they would probably feel fearful about coming back to, even if they were allowed to do so?

It's not good what happened, and it was an injustice, but it's kind of a moot point too, as a peace treaty can be gained without relocating Israelis out of Israel's '67 borders. I wouldn't be opposed to seeing some degree of compensation for seized goods from the countries in question, as a matter of fairness and reconciliation, but it doesn't and shouldn't erase the unanswered claims of the Palestinians.
posted by markkraft at 10:38 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I wasn't able to watch the video. Did everyone else watch it? Is there something in there that we should be arguing about?"

The video is really the heart of the matter. It's certainly most of the content of the post.

It features interviews with both Ehud Barak and Olmert, as well as with numerous friends, both Israeli and Palestinian, many of whom feel very much a victim of the political situation in Israel, as well as a victim of the fear, violence, and general polarization and push to the right in society. It depicts liberal people in a society where peace keeps moving further and further out of reach, thanks largely to extreme elements in society that they feel are out of their control.

It's worth watching, if only to explain a lot about Israeli society for those who have no experience, and to understand how and why he got to the point where he soured on Israel.
posted by markkraft at 10:46 AM on January 19, 2009


I said: "I wanted to make clear, the creation of the state of Israel didn't cause all of those Arab countries to kick their Jews out, and there were plenty of countries that kicked all of their Jews out long before Israel ever existed."

You said: "And I was speaking about the modern State of Israel. (You didn't really want the Spaniards to compensate those who fled during the Spanish Inquisition, did you?!)"

The point I was making was not that those Jews deserved compensation, but that there is a long history of Jews being mistreated and expelled and that a bunch of Arab countries driving most of their Jews out wasn't necessarily because of Israel, since it is in line with how countries have been acting throughout history.
posted by davidstandaford at 10:48 AM on January 19, 2009


happyroach, the US also supports the Sri Lankan government, though not with the same undying love and devotion it has for Israel. I am pretty sure the Sri Lankan government buys US arms. I don't know why Sri Lanka is so ignored in the West. MIA needs to put out a new album.

Also, this quote from MLK is great, and seems apt: "Today we no longer have a choice between violence and non-violence; it is either non-violence, or non-existence."

(That said, in Sri Lanka there was non-violent resistance from the 50s through to the 70s, which amounted to a whole lot of nothing. My dad remembers going to sit-ins and protests when he was a little boy. That all came to an end with the rise of the LTTE and other groups. Of course, the fighting hasn't really helped either side. At all. It's all a big suck.)
posted by chunking express at 10:51 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The video is really the heart of the matter. It's certainly most of the content of the post.

Did everyone else watch the video? People don't seem to be talking about it, anyway...

I did a quick re-skim of the thread and markkraft was the only person I saw who talks about what is in the video. Maybe I'll have time to watch it later.
posted by davidstandaford at 10:54 AM on January 19, 2009


First point: I did not link to this post because of the Warsaw Ghetto comparison. I linked to it because it's a good example of some fairly widespread outrage in the Jewish community against what Israel has done. Take a look at the comment I made, and you'll see that's so.


We are talking about your comment where you quote Michael Warschawski with apparent approval, right? If you disagree with the analogy, say so in clear and unambiguous terms.


That said, I think it's reasonable to suspect that those who made the comparison consider the concentration camps as something seperate [sic] from the Warsaw Ghetto itself. If they had really meant that Gaza was like Auchwitz, you'd think perhaps they might've said it, right?!


Between 1940 and mid-1942, 83,000 Jews died of starvation and disease.

SS Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop states that on the third day of the operation of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943, "“large numbers of Jews - entire families - already on fire, jumped from the windows. We made sure that these, as well as the other Jews, were liquidated immediately.”

The comparison is simply a false one. The reason people use it (including Jews) is because it is highly offensive to Jewish people.

I repeat my earlier question; since the passage from the Talmud which you quoted earlier is beloved by the far-right, would you care to tell us where you first read it?
posted by Ugandan Discussions at 10:57 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


On the website I linked to, via google.
posted by markkraft at 11:16 AM on January 19, 2009


(Hint: I don't read a lot of far-right sources... except ynetnews and the Jerusalem Post occasionally, just to see their slant on things. In any event, I can't see why it's particularly relevant. If you want to link to the actual quote elsewhere, with clarification of what is said and its significance, that would be appreciated.)
posted by markkraft at 11:20 AM on January 19, 2009


Sir Kauffman is a very brave man and should be applauded for his honesty.

While I agree with the sentiment, he's Sir Gerald, not "Sir Kauffman." If you want to be all Brit-proper, that is; as a good title-ignoring Yank, I'd just call him Kauffman.

If you disagree with the analogy, say so in clear and unambiguous terms.

since the passage from the Talmud which you quoted earlier is beloved by the far-right, would you care to tell us where you first read it?


Like Marisa said: Don't do this. This shit is entirely unnecessary. Or are you one of those who demand black politicians ritually denounce extremists before you'll listen to them? If you want to argue with markkraft's ideas, do so; quit trying to smear him.
posted by languagehat at 11:24 AM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Re: Why doesn't Hamas just stop firing rockets?

Actually, they didn't for the five months of the cease fire. Some other organizations fired a total of about 20 in five months, and Hamas went about confiscating weapons and imprisoning the perpetrators.

As far as I can tell, the current trouble started with a cross-border Israeli raid that broke the cease-fire in November, and led to a string of small border conflicts and the resumption of rocket firings from Hamas. The bombing and invasion followed an Israeli refusal to agree to a renewed cease fire under the condition that the blockade of Palestine be relaxed. For the record, goods are moving into Gaza at about 35% of the level that they were before the blockade was started in 2006. It's meant to be just enough to keep a humanitarian disaster from occurring.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:39 AM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry languagehat, but I'm with Ugandan Discussion. When one centuries-old quote, shorn of its context of a discussion about laws of purity, pops up as an example of "Israel['s].. offensively elitist doctrinaire invective", and is otherwise never found outside that context except when cherry-picked by anti-semites, that is odd and needs further explanation. Eg, the first hit on Google for "Gentiles are not men" as a Talmudic quote comes from David Duke. Gosh.

When you think about it, citing an obscure line about the laws of purity is weak sauce as evidence of "elitist doctrinaire invective" - isn't there enough in the cringe-worthy writings of the early Zionists? It is far more plausible to me that markkraft came across this while reading neo-nazi propaganda than that he has been studying Talmud to understand the roots of the I/P problem.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:44 AM on January 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


I don't know why Sri Lanka is so ignored in the West.

Maybe because neither side in the Sri Lankan civil war is supported by one of the best-funded and most influential lobby groups in Washington?
posted by gompa at 11:59 AM on January 19, 2009


This whole argument is getting really old.

It was once suggested that since most adults already know most jokes, comedians could operate more efficiently by simply shouting out the out the ID code of the joke.

We could do this with this I/P argument. or even simpler - whenever there's a flare-up, we could have 5 to 10 sticky comments summarizing the major viewpoints, and we MeFites just have to show up and vote for our viewpoint. It would certainly save alot of typing.

Both sides cling to irrational aims that are impossible. It's time for a solution. Like most other world disputes, a solution must be imposed from outside.

Here's my take on it (it will give you something new to attack for a change):

Israel pulls back to pre 1967 border, wall is built THERE.
15 km on either side of border is demilitarised and patrolled by UN troops.
Neither side is permitted to respond militarily to the other side; it's up to UN forces.
Monitor and re-evaluate in 10 years.

If you have something better, let's hear it.
posted by Artful Codger at 12:00 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just because you are the underdog does not make you morally superior. Hamas has launched thousands of rockets into Israel since their relection in 2006. What would you have Israel do? If your wife was raped, would you feel sorry for the thug, and invite him to dinner?

There is bad on both sides, to be sure, but to trot out context-less propaganda as orthoganality has done, or to turn from rational discussion to anti-Israel hysterics is a mistake.

I believe in peace, but I also believe in staying alive.
posted by plexi at 12:01 PM on January 19, 2009


It is far more plausible to me that markkraft came across this while reading neo-nazi propaganda

That's a disgusting thing to say and you should apologize for it.
posted by languagehat at 12:13 PM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


It is far more plausible to me that markkraft came across this while reading neo-nazi propaganda

Is there a grease monkey script that you can use to mark where a thread jumps the shark?
posted by chunking express at 12:21 PM on January 19, 2009


That's a disgusting thing to say and you should apologize for it.

I apologize for implying that markkraft is a neo-nazi. Indeed much of what he has posted in this thread is interesting and thoughtfully put.

I do not apologize for pointing out that he raises some weird shit which is a red flag for those of us who have been deep down the rabbit-hole of anti-semitic propaganda.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:28 PM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Um.. no. I wasn't reading neo-nazi propaganda. You can take my word for it, I would hope. I do, in fact, hate neonazis, and have written repeatedly in the past, denouncing those who support antisemitism. During the last Italian election, for instance, I have previously denounced Berlusconi for not excluding the Italian rightwing fascists from his ruling coalition. At the same time, however, I have also criticized a lawsuit accusing an Italian labor union of boycotting "jewish goods", as opposed to the reality... that they favored a boycott on Israeli goods. Truth should cut both ways.

I do, in fact, research history with a passion, and any attack on the underpinnings of zionism I have seen is more than likely to come from Jewish sources that question the underpinnings of zionism, than anything on the right. I find it amusing of having been accused of being a loony leftist and a neo-nazi on the same site, by several of the same people... only not.

Ultimately, an obscure quote means little, especially coming from texts which, I am certain, have numerous other quotes every bit as bad. (This is a fairly easy bet, considering. The Bible is embarrassing enough.) It was ultimately just an example of how religious beliefs can be manipulated or used for justifying evil.

And yes, I think evil is ultimately the correct comparison here. Not anything specific, like Warsaw or Dachau, because the method of Israel's behavior is unique... a kinder, friendlier, more p.c. take on ethnic cleansing, in many ways. But ultimately fatal, dehumanizing, spiritually damaging. Evil is the right word. And not a necessary evil, but a unwise evil. A counterproductive, insidious, destructive, cowardly evil, perpetrated by those who lack the courage -- and quite possibly even the desire -- for peace.

in 1942, a group of 757 rabbis in the United States wrote a document responding to other rabbis who opposed zionism, saying the following in its defense:

"Nor is Zionism a denial of the universalistic teachings of Judaism. Universalism is not a contradiction of nationalism. Nationalism as such, whether it be English, French, American or Jewish, is not in itself evil. It is only militaristic and chauvinistic nationalism, that nationalism which shamelessly flouts all mandates of international morality, which is evil."

What do you do when you're condemned by your own best defense? When in Israel today, universalism only applies for some... and not even for every Israeli, and when Israel's actions are amongst the most militaristic, the most chauvinistic, and amongst the most internationally unaccountable for morality?

I do not deny that zionism is possible in theory without evil. In practice, however, I have yet to see it during my lifetime.
posted by markkraft at 12:41 PM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]



Ultimately, an obscure quote means little, especially coming from texts which, I am certain, have numerous other quotes every bit as bad. (This is a fairly easy bet, considering. The Bible is embarrassing enough.) It was ultimately just an example of how religious beliefs can be manipulated or used for justifying evil.


If it means little, may I suggest that in future you not cherry-pick bits of Talmud for horrifying obscurities? Your choice was weird, in that it is certainly not a text used to justify evil (as we have both noted, there is a wealth of more modern and relevant material you could use) and far from illustrating your point totally undercut it in the the ears of the people you presumably wish to persuade.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:55 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm drunk as fuck now having been out, but to add this is just the point I was trying to make in my first post. I encourage left-wing and internationalist opinion to get back to basic analyses of colonialism and imperialism and steer clear of all this cod interpretation of Jewish culture, religion or whatever which will only lead down the garden path to bullshit. The actions of the Israeli state are one thing; international Jewry and Jewish religion and culture another. Jesuitical delving in the archives only leads to missing the larger and much clearer picture concerning imperialism in the post-colonial era.
posted by Abiezer at 1:17 PM on January 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe: Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions

Leading Israeli Scholar Avi Shlaim: Israel Committing “State Terror” in Gaza Attack, Preventing Peace
posted by homunculus at 1:19 PM on January 19, 2009


markkraft: ... doctrinaire invective about Hamas...

Doctrinaire invective?!? About Hamas?!?

All through the last two years, when certain people - certain people who have been involved in the Palestinian Resistance, mind you, not least Abu Mazen - have been working their asses off to try to fix the situation in Palestine. Hell, I might even say they're the only ones who seem to care about giving Palestine a chance to exist peacefully. At every single step of the way, Hamas has hamstrung those efforts, thrown wrenches into the gears, and made it impossible for either side to do business with each other. I never thought I'd be saying this, but if Hamas and Israel hadn't spent all of their time trying to outbid each other by undermining Fatah over the last few years, we wouldn't be in this position.

The radio today had an interview with a Palestinian woman who invoked the strongest curses for the people she blamed for this conflict: Israel and Hamas. It's hard to disagree with her. Not only has Hamas done nothing to help the state of Palestine; it's done as much as any other organization involved to get innocent people killed.

Or are you one of those who really believes that Mahmoud Abbas is an 'Israeli collaborator'? The man nearly deserves some kind of Nobel peace prize for the shit he's been through and what he's tried to do to tie together the peaceable remnants of Palestine, especially given the track record of his predecessor. Fatah in general has struggled in vain to keep peace in Palestine, and while they deserved more help from Israel in doing so, the thugs who incessantly assaulted them were Hamas.

I think you're a bit confused about Hamas. They're the people on the other side lobbing rockets at Israel, remember? To the Palestinian on the street, Israel is the angry bear killing people, and Hamas is the stupid child throwing stones at it. And while I have a feeling more people will be up in arms now that Israel has blundered around killing people, my sense of the Palestinian populace is that most generally put up with Hamas because (a) their propaganda wing once offered some health benefits that had some value, though they didn't really seem to pan out given the circumstances, and (b) well, it's hard to go up against the mob.

That doesn't change the fact that Hamas has gotten hundreds of Palestinians killed in their rush to make a proud religious statement. That's why Fatah has cooled off considerably; that's why Fatah has been on the sidelines waiting to do something useful through all this.

You may find this offensive, but I think people in the middle east will agree: what we need right now is less religion in government in Israel and Palestine. That's why Israel should, as I've said, continue to secularize, and why Hamas will at some point have to give way to Fatah in Palestine if there's ever going to be peace. (Not that I think that Hamas is a very good representation of Islam; on the contrary, they're generally foolish, hasty and angry, and too proud to bend to true submission. Bismi'Lah, but it's annoying how little people in America can see that.)
posted by koeselitz at 1:25 PM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


i love that saying 'hey maybe they shouldn't indiscriminately bomb the fuck out of schools and hospitals and shit' makes you a neo-nazi

way to have a reasoned debate guys classy as always
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:26 PM on January 19, 2009


quoting talmud = neo-nazi
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:27 PM on January 19, 2009


Abiezer: The actions of the Israeli state are one thing; international Jewry and Jewish religion and culture another. Jesuitical delving in the archives only leads to missing the larger and much clearer picture concerning imperialism in the post-colonial era.

You're dead-on correct, as always. I would only add that, not only does this jejune confusion lead to missing the larger picture: seeing this as a religious and cultural conflict is what got us into this mess in the first place.
posted by koeselitz at 1:27 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


markkraft: I do not deny that zionism is possible in theory without evil. In practice, however, I have yet to see it during my lifetime.

Well, in the interest of good discussion (and this is one, Optimus Chyme, regardless of a single hasty and ill-thought comment) we may as well ask: how do you define 'Zionism'?
posted by koeselitz at 1:31 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I promised I would stay out of these threads, but I must address the Talmud issue, since people don't seem to know what the Talmud is, and haven't bothered to research the topic in this discussion. It is not Jewish law. It is a compendium of wildly diverse opinions from hundreds of years of Jewish theologians, often arguing with each other over the course of a century or more, sometimes delving into gossip, or folk tales, or jokes, or even recipes. To take one quote out of the Talmud and act as though it somehow represents an absolute or widely accept Rabbinic viewpoint is to profoundly misunderstand the book, and, yes, antisemites in history have historically gone through the Talmud and cherry picked quotes in order to justify their anitsemitism, which is why Jews can be a little sensitive about the subject.

Talmud doesn't teach law. It teaches the Talmudic method, which is a manner of thinking about law, and arguing it, and coming to conclusions, and having difference of agreement on those conclusions. Just because one rabbi said one obnoxious thing a thousand years ago that was recorded in what must qualify as one of the biggest and weirdest books in history means neither jack nor shit, and it may not be antisemitic to quote it out of context, but it is pretty damn ignorant.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:47 PM on January 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


The Boss Has Gone Mad
posted by lalochezia at 2:13 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I do not deny that zionism is possible in theory without evil. In practice, however, I have yet to see it during my lifetime.

Two Jews, three opinions.

How about understanding Zionism as a broad church of different opinions rather than equating the whole of it with the current policy of the current government of the State of Israel. You could start by researching HaShomer HaTzair, who advocated a bi-national state until 1948, or Achad HaAm, whose writings on Zionism date back as far as those of Herzl, and who warned early on that the goal of Zionism should be cultural regeneration in the Jewish homeland without necessarily also including a political component of any sort, being as there was already another people there and all.

Arguably Ben-Gurion wing of political Zionism pretty much killed off this other wing in 1948 with the establishment of the state, but to this day the Israeli political scene (and wider Zionist scene) is a much broader church than the shrill and nasty little voices of the Zionist right and Kadima government might make you think. Not all Zionists want a Jewish state extending as far as Damascus, some would be happy with something similar to the 1967 borders, prior to 1948 not all Zionists were even in favour of a specifically Jewish state.

As an aside, bringing up that unpleasant Talmud quote was disingenuous in the extreme, as close adherence to some Talmudic line is very much an Orthodox if not ultra-Orthodox - ie minority - thing. Just because some ultra-Orthodox Jews have an inherently racist worldview based on Talmud does not even mean that all Orthodox Jews do, and it is quite clear to me that the bulk of non-Orthodox or secular Jews do not. Talmud has nothing whatsoever to do with Israeli government policy or secular Israeli thought except insofar as the religious parties use it to frame their policy - to quote it in a more general discussion of Zionism and Israel is pretty ridiculous.

The third opinion here fwiw is that since the latest Gaza incursion I can no longer find it in myself to support Zionism or Israel at all any more, though previously I have always supported the former if not the latter, with a HaAmist kind of line. Asking myself what HaAm would do now, I don't think he would support Zionism any more either.
posted by motty at 2:36 PM on January 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Thanks, motty, for a realistic take on what Zionism is.

A small note: personally, I think Zionism has its roots firmly in Spinoza. In particular, Leo Strauss was in the habit of pointing out this extremely prescient comment near the end of the third chapter of the Theologico-Political Treatise:

I figure the sign of circumcision can also be so important... that I persuade myself that this one thing will preserve [Israel] for eternity: indeed, I would absolutely believe that, unless the foundations of their religion were to make their spirits effeminate, they will someday, given the occasion - as human affairs are changeable - erect their imperium once more, and God will choose them anew.

In fact, Spinoza took it as his mission to remove the 'effeminacy' from the religion of his countrymen. And he had a broad and lasting impact; so that, by the time of Theodor Herzl, it was perfectly rational to speak of 'cultural Judaism' as distinct from 'religious Judaism.' The conceptions of Zionism and the state of Israel are predicated on that distinction.

All this is not to say that Israel is more or less viable for having been born from that divide. However, the rabbis were sensible when they opposed the founding of the state of Israel - even if it is possible to draw a fine distinction in common parlance between cultural and religious Judaism, such fine distinctions do not form a very sound or reliable basis for the politics of nations. The nation of Israel must be universal and transcend Jewishness if it is to be democratic and open; or else, if it is to be a Jewish state, it must be founded by a Messiah.

At the same time, the rabbis were also sensible when they refused to oppose the nascent state of Israel openly; though Zionism might be somewhat ill-begotten, the only way out is not destruction. It's secularization.
posted by koeselitz at 3:18 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The IRA inflicted between 600-700 civilian deaths and over 14,000 civilian injuries.

To date Hamas rocket attacks inflicted THREE Israeli civilian deaths and ONE military death.

Compare that to what the IDF has inflicted on Gazans:

...at least 670 have been reported as civilians[231] and among them are: 4 UN[232] and 13 medical workers,[32][233] 4 journalists,[30] 270 (B'Tselem) to 311 (Palestinian Health Ministry) children,[234][32][235] 78 women, and 97 elderly people.[32] Of the 4,250 injured: 1,497 are children, 626 are women, and 30 are medical workers.
posted by tkchrist at 3:41 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


The radio today had an interview with a Palestinian woman who invoked the strongest curses for the people she blamed for this conflict: Israel and Hamas. It's hard to disagree with her. Not only has Hamas done nothing to help the state of Palestine; it's done as much as any other organization involved to get innocent people killed.

If that was the same NPR interview I heard that same women then was further quoted as saying she hated Israel now and would "gladly offer her sons up to Hamas."

Israel has lost MUCH more in this atrocity than Hamas has.
posted by tkchrist at 4:02 PM on January 19, 2009


I think tkchrist is right. I'm not sure what contacts you have with the Palestinian on the street, koeselitz, but what I've been reading in Haaretz and the NYT suggests to me that Hamas has been strengthened over Fatah.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:07 PM on January 19, 2009


Over the years I have gone from staunchly Pro-Zionist to, after witnessing the first invasion of Lebanon, less enthusiastic zionist but pro-Israel to, after witnessing the second most horrific invasion and destruction of Lebanon, thinking Israel may become a violent theocracy that was yet salvageable and noble to, now after this current insane atrocity, questioning if Israel really does have any right to exist—AT ALL—seeing as how it's now an openly warmongering criminal pariah state.

So. Way to go Israel public relations. Way to go.
posted by tkchrist at 4:18 PM on January 19, 2009


markkraft wrote: The fact that the Talmud says that Gentiles are not men, and, indeed, are not entitled to many of the same rights as men.

Critics of Israel are not necessarily antisemites but antisemites are inevitably critics of Israel. Markkraft's voluminous attacks on the Jewish state surprised me but his use of this quotation settles my mind. As other posters said, this quote is one favored by neonazis. He linked to his source: a pro-Nazi website "Come and Hear" that seems to be intended to celebrate Elizabeth Dilling who was a notorious supporter of the Nazis during World War II.

So when Markkraft says I wasn't reading neo-nazi propaganda. You can take my word for it [...] he's shaving the truth. The website isn't neo-nazi; the text he refers to is a reproduction of one annotated by a supporter of the real, original Nazi party as it existed during Adolf Hitler's lifetime.

In my experience there's no point refuting antisemitic slurs: people who engage in such things have no intellectual commitment to their statements and they will just move onto the next slur. None the less, I'll address this one. It's an anecdote which readers can take at face value or not. here it is, expanded from the somewhat telegraphic Talmudic format:
A rabbi named Rabbah was in a cemetery used by idolators. The prophet Elijah appeared to him (in Jewish tradition he can do that, never having technically died) and they had a chat about some aspect of Jewish law. Rabbah then said Hang on - aren't you a priest? Priests aren't allowed into cemeteries! Elijah then used the following argument to prove what the rule should really be:

The rule that priests can't enter cemeteries is derived from Numbers 19:14. The word it uses to refer to a person is unusual, and is the same word used in Ezekiel 34:31 to describe Jews as distinct from idolators. This implies that when this word is used it only refers to Jews. So priests are allowed to enter cemeteries, as long as no Jews are buried there.
The funny thing with this anecdote is that: In any event the anecdote does nothing to support markkraft's claim that the Talmud says that Gentiles [...] are not entitled to many of the same rights as men. That's his own editorializing and it speaks volumes for his state of mind.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:23 PM on January 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


Obsessive, selective, and disproportionate attacks on Israel, which single it out among Russia, China, Sudan, and numerous Muslim nations with far worse human rights records, are racist and xenophobic.

Calling for the dissolution of Israel, while acknowledging the right of worse human rights offenders to exist, is racist and xenophobic.


So, what, your argument boils down to tu quoque? Are you saying it's okay for Israel to perpetrate crimes against humanity in Palestine because other countries have done and are doing similar things elsewhere?

Or are you saying that the spectre of "anti-semitism" is appropriately raised whenever someone criticizes Israel's human rights violations without including every other violator of human rights in the world in the same breath?

Hyperbolic comparisons of the actions of a predominantly Jewish state with the Holocaust, the worst disaster in Jewish history, are anti-Semitic.

I challenge you to do even the briefest of internet research and come back here and tell me with a straight face that the Holocaust is used more frequently by opponents of Israel's actions in Palestine than by Israel itself to justify its military policies. Why is one group allowed to use a historical event as a point of reference in support of a policy argument, but another is not?
posted by Law Talkin' Guy at 4:25 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


No we can't.
posted by gman at 5:03 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


One poster suggested:
Israel pulls back to pre 1967 border, wall is built THERE.
15 km on either side of border is demilitarised and patrolled by UN troops.


You probably haven't looked at a map of the area. The Gaza Strip is about 12 km wide at its widest point. Your UN troops would be patrolling the whole Strip as well as some distance offshore. Israel would have a similar problem at its narrowest point (about 10 km wide). No offense, but do you usually speak on matters when you're so amazingly ill-informed?

Another poster asked: What part of Israel (formerly Palestine) was not taken from the Palestinians? That's like claiming America wasn't taken from the... what's the term? oh yes: Native Americans.

"Palestinian" before 1948 meant "inhabitant of Palestine". That is, the Jews were Palestinians at least as much as the Arabs were.

Are you aware that there were many Jews living in the area before 1948? And that the ancestors of many people who today identify as Palestinians were not living in the area at that time? For instance, I live down the road from someone whose family moved to Hebron in 1800 or so. They lived there until the Arab riots of 1929 when they fled to Jerusalem, and remained there until Jordan annexed it and expelled all the Jews. In contrast, the late Yasser Arafat was born and raised in Cairo. We're not talking about some isolated island: this place was a crossroads between Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and the Mediterranean. There's no such thing as a "native" population.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:05 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


i'm with happyroach...

So, that being the case, shouldn't we switch the debate to what WE want out of the region?

on that note:
"The first thing Obama has to do is ask himself a question," he said, "and if he doesn't answer it correctly you might as well hang a 'close-for-season' sign on the door. The question is: do you, Mr. President, believe the Arab-Israeli conflict is a core national priority for your administration? Not an interest, not a serious issue, but a core national priority."

If the answer is yes, Miller went on to say, a lot will have to change, starting with the pattern of the US pretending to be an "honest broker" while actually serving as "Israel's lawyer." "Effective brokers reach agreements that reflect a balance of interests," he said.
the balance of interests aren't for peaceful settlement/coexistence i'm afraid...
posted by kliuless at 5:19 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


How many Israelis are there? A couple million? Why don't 10 Western countries each take in 200,000 of them, give them their own small city and citizenship for each. A little costly upfront but bam, you immediately have a small city adding to economic output and consumption so it'd pay off long term. If they'd done it last year, the number of barrels of oil per Israeli that it would have cost would have been much lower.

Did you even think before you typed that? Can you not even grasp how offensive and wrong-headed it is?

An honest question: Why don't the folks in Gaza (whomever they are) just stop firing the rockets and see what happens?

Because it's not in their interests - any more than it's been in the interests of the Sharon portion of the Israeli electorate to cease colonising more and more land beyond Israel's UN mandated borders.

And, possibly, because the Arab nation which has done best in terms of gaining rapproachment with Israel (and getting seized land back) is Egypt - after it came close to defeating Israel's armed forces.

I've been wondering why the Gaza conflict gets so much attention, especially on the Left, whereas conflicts like Sri Lanka and the Congo get barely any attention at all.

To a very large degree, it's the West's own damn fault. We, collectively speaking, treated Jews like shit for a good thousand years, columinating in the Holocaust. Then we decided the thing to do about it was to steal someone else's non-Western country (not least after the whole Balfour mess...) to give it to "the Jews" because we felt guilty about our history of appalling behaviour. The West, and the US in particular, generally offer Israel ongoing support, more-or-less no matter what it does in the region, whereas the Sri Lankan conflict (for example) is one that exists largely independent of any European influence.

but that there is a long history of Jews being mistreated and expelled and that a bunch of Arab countries driving most of their Jews out wasn't necessarily because of Israel, since it is in line with how countries have been acting throughout history.

I find it hard to believe that this is anything other than a remarkably disingenious comment.
posted by rodgerd at 5:33 PM on January 19, 2009


columinating

Way to spell-check 8/ Culminating, of course.
posted by rodgerd at 5:34 PM on January 19, 2009


these children are clearly terrorists i'm glad we are taking their limbs and parents away from them

the world is a better place now
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:42 PM on January 19, 2009


Are you aware that there were many Jews living in the area before 1948? ... We're not talking about some isolated island: this place was a crossroads between Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and the Mediterranean. There's no such thing as a "native" population.

Yes, I am aware of all that. I have read a great deal about the region and its history. It is not the "native" Jews (the ones who spoke Arabic) who drove the Palestinians out, and they were in fact treated like a lower order by the "civilized" Zionists who came over from Europe (as were the Sephardim). You can fudge all you like, but the fact is that a bunch of people came over from Europe and with the half-hearted but necessary support of England got themselves established on land that had belonged to others, and then pushed many of those others out and made themselves the rulers of the land.

There's no such thing as a "native" population in America either, everybody having come from elsewhere, but it would be extremely disingenuous to dismiss the genocide and expropriation of the "Indians" on that account.
posted by languagehat at 6:07 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


One poster suggested:

Israel pulls back to pre 1967 border, wall is built THERE.

15 km on either side of border is demilitarised and patrolled by UN troops.


You probably haven't looked at a map of the area. The Gaza Strip is about 12 km wide at its widest point. Your UN troops would be patrolling the whole Strip as well as some distance offshore. Israel would have a similar problem at its narrowest point (about 10 km wide). No offense, but do you usually speak on matters when you're so amazingly ill-informed?

yes.

You're of course right on that point of geography. Sorry.

I wonder if I could ask the favour of looking past this geographic blunder and comment on my underlying point: that neither side is willing or capable of resolving the conflict, and so it won't be addressed without outside intervention, including a peace-keeping force.

Or should we just continue our usual discussion?
posted by Artful Codger at 6:15 PM on January 19, 2009


"I think you're a bit confused about Hamas. They're the people on the other side lobbing rockets at Israel, remember? To the Palestinian on the street, Israel is the angry bear killing people, and Hamas is the stupid child throwing stones at it. And while I have a feeling more people will be up in arms now that Israel has blundered around killing people, my sense of the Palestinian populace is that most generally put up with Hamas because (a) their propaganda wing once offered some health benefits that had some value, though they didn't really seem to pan out given the circumstances, and (b) well, it's hard to go up against the mob."

This just shows that you fundamentally don't understand the Palestinian people very well.

Specifically:

1> They're the people on the other side lobbing rockets at Israel, remember?

Actually, Israel broke the ceasefire, and Hamas honored the ceasefire until they did, trying to crack down on those who were firing rockets. Even after the ceasefire was broken, they declared a unilateral ceasefire in mid-December and announced, with the Egyptians, a plan to extend the ceasefire. Israel refused the offer.

2> " Hamas is the stupid child throwing stones at it."

I would be very much surprised if the Palestinian street doesn't know that Israel never really behaved like they wanted peace, and consider Hamas' behavior very much a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.

3> "while I have a feeling more people will be up in arms now that Israel has blundered around killing people..."

Exactly. Hamas won the elections with 56% support. Let's put that in real terms. There are 1.5m Palestinians in Gaza, and 2.5m in the West Bank. 56% of that would be 2,240,000 Palestinians who generally support Hamas over Fatah. Today, let's say that number could be closer to 2.6M. Let's assume Hamas has 70% support in Gaza -- a landslide. That means Hamas could now have 1.125M supporters in Gaza... and about the same in the West Bank.

That's an indicator of a rapidly growing minority, if not a slight majority, of Hamas support in a region where, by your own admission, people have been working for two years to fix the situation in Palestine... or at least the West Bank. They've had the advantages of numerous advantages selectively given to them and not Hamas with major western financial backing -- arms, training, funding for schools, sanitation, etc. -- and they're *STILL* losing support!

4> "...well, it's hard to go up against the mob."

Sure... but who's the mob?! Hamas was voted into power very much as a reform vote against Palestinian Authority corruption, as opposed to their more nasty militant policies. Calling the P.A. "The Palestinian Resistance" in comparison to Hamas' "terrorists" is a bit like calling Jesse Jackson "the Civil Rights movement" in comparison to Obama.

It's both inaccurate, and it misses the point. The Palestinian Authority *were* the resistance, but they've been the corrupt mainstream for decades now. The "terrorist" epithet fits both sides, as does the "mob" accusation. The difference being, when people give money to Hamas, at least they see some concrete sign of help filtering down to the Palestinian people, rather than feathering someone's nest. There are numerous reports in Palestine of the P.A. arresting and torturing supporters of Hamas, and recently they used western-provided equipment and training to teargas their fellow Palestinians for the first time. There's also the generational aspect of it all -- Hamas looks younger and more vibrant.

5> "are you one of those who really believes that Mahmoud Abbas is an 'Israeli collaborator'?"

It doesn't matter what I think It's what the Palestinian people think. And they largely think that Abbas is corrupt... and seem to increasingly feel that he is willing to take western money and arms to repress his own people, while being weak on denouncing the suffering done to fellow Palestinians.

6> "Hamas will at some point have to give way to Fatah in Palestine if there's ever going to be peace."

Then the idea of there being a peace based on an initiative approved by the majority elected party in Palestine is growing increasingly *LESS* likely... and without such an agreement, the chance of the outcome resulting in a real, lasting peace anytime soon is near nil.

Even if you overlook Fatah's corruption and weak support of the Palestinians when push comes to shove, demographics alone favor Hamas. It doesn't surprise me that you heard a report of an older Palestinian -- presumably West Bank -- woman supporting Fatah. Such support is largely generational in nature. But if you examined whose support in the West Bank is flipping over to Hamas, I would bet you that it would disproportionately be younger individuals, with a slight tilt towards men... very much Hamas' demographic.

In other words, the future seems to favor Hamas, and the only way to get around that fact is to try squeezing Hamas for concessions they seem determined to never make, or failing that, simply ignoring them in the peace process, which is a recipe for a contunuation of Israel's strangulation of the Gazan people, a hundred years of rocket attacks, and an emergent risk of the Palestinian Authority leadership being overthrown.

Kaufman was right about Hamas. They're most certainly nasty, but as far as securing a lasting peace based on democratic principles, they are the only game in town.
posted by markkraft at 6:38 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


languagehat wrote: I have read a great deal about the region and its history. It is not the "native" Jews (the ones who spoke Arabic) who drove the Palestinians out ...

My friend's family doesn't speak Arabic, and I very much doubt that they ever did. Yiddish among themselves, Hebrew for sacramental purposes, and presumably some of them spoke whatever language was needed to communicate with the local officials - Turkish, French, English or modern Hebrew.

the fact is that a bunch of people came over from Europe and with the half-hearted but necessary support of England got themselves established on land that had belonged to others,

Perhaps I could address your claims if you were more specific. Are you taking about the Third Aliyah, Fourth Aliyah, or Fifth Aliyah? It must be one of those because Britain didn't control the area until after WW1 and it imposed strict immigration quotas with the outbreak of WW2. Which group are you talking about, and what land that had belonged to others do you claim that they established themselves upon?

[And] then pushed many of those others out and made themselves the rulers of the land.

It would be easier for me if you used nouns. You're not referring to my friend's family, pushed out of their homes by Arab mobs in 1929 and by the Jordanian Army in 1948? Because neither the Arab mobs nor the Jordanians had come from Europe. Or is it only bad if it's done by Jews?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:39 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


It would be easier for me if you used nouns. You're not referring to my friend's family, pushed out of their homes by Arab mobs in 1929 and by the Jordanian Army in 1948? Because neither the Arab mobs nor the Jordanians had come from Europe. Or is it only bad if it's done by Jews?

now languagehat is a neo-nazi

this is a fun game
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:07 PM on January 19, 2009


yes hamas is totally justified in all things that is exactly what people are saying with no exageration or disingeniousness on my part this is a good comment just like optimus chyme's comments.
posted by Snyder at 7:38 PM on January 19, 2009


I'm sorry for using my no-caps-no-punctuation technique, Snyder; however, while parts of this thread have been pretty respectful and pretty smart, it's clear that there are plenty of people here still brainwashed by the idea that any criticism of Israel means that the critic is either an anti-semite or a neo-nazi, and it's absurd. Would it help if I pointed out that I loathe Islam, and that I find it even more creepy and repellent than either Judaism or Christianity? Probably not; the mere idea that I find the murder of Arabs immoral makes me into a monster by your metric.

Palestinians can't leave Gaza. Palestinians can't get food or medicine. It is the world's largest concentration camp. The blockade and the bombing are war crimes. And Israel, remember, was the state that broke the initial ceasefire.

And anything I could do to help them is illegal in my country. So we sit here and watch them all die. And somehow I'm the bad guy for pointing that out.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:56 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


i_am_joe's_spleen: I think tkchrist is right. I'm not sure what contacts you have with the Palestinian on the street, koeselitz, but what I've been reading in Haaretz and the NYT suggests to me that Hamas has been strengthened over Fatah.

I know. That was my point. Fatah has no chance now, and I don't think that bodes very well for the future.

And tkchrist is right: Israel lost a lot of political capital in their little battle to stop the rockets. With Fatah as crippled as it is, that capital goes straight to Hamas.

I was saying that that's not a good thing in the slightest.
posted by koeselitz at 8:38 PM on January 19, 2009


hey maybe they shouldn't indiscriminately bomb the fuck out of schools and hospitals and shit
posted by odasaku at 9:56 PM on January 19, 2009


"How about understanding Zionism as a broad church of different opinions rather than equating the whole of it with the current policy of the current government of the State of Israel?"

I have actually tried to draw this kind of distinction. I never criticized zionism, except in three key ways:

1> The concept of radical zionism, being used to justify violence, abuses, etc.
2> Zionism that abuses Judaism and frames its immoral arguments with the trappings of Judaism in order to justify such behavior.
3> Zionism as it is currently expressed by the actions of the Government of Israel.

I am aware of a wide degree of historical thoughts regarding Zionism and what it means to different people, as far as their beliefs. That's part of why I was very clear that zionism at its most basic -- settling and building a state in Israel -- in theory, doesn't have to be evil. It's deeply regrettable and painful to me that it is.

Just because some ultra-Orthodox Jews have an inherently racist worldview based on Talmud...

I agree. It doesn't mean that all Orthodox Jews do, much less those who aren't Orthodox. That said, I think that after the last administration, many Americans know what it feels like to feel like the agenda has been kidnapped by someone else's radical belief-based agenda.

"insofar as the religious parties use it to frame their policy"

... which is my point, and one of my major gripes, as expressed above.

"The third opinion here fwiw is that since the latest Gaza incursion I can no longer find it in myself to support Zionism or Israel at all any more, though previously I have always supported the former if not the latter, with a HaAmist kind of line. Asking myself what HaAm would do now, I don't think he would support Zionism any more either."

To be honest, after Lebanon, I thought -- perhaps naively -- that Israel had learned an important lesson... one I once heard well-expressed by a prominent Jewish writer / intellectual. (If anyone could suggest who it might've been, I would be very appreciative.)

He said, basically, that increasingly wars were being fought over public opinion, and that Israel was ultimately setting itself up to lose, because the use of force -- and particularly, disproportionate force, against its enemies would be its undoing, weakening it at home and abroad. The more powerful a country has, the more it needs to exercise that power with great caution.

Unfortunately, this article from Ha'aretz from earlier this year seems to indicate that Israel learned the wrong lessons from Lebanon :

"Eisenkot presented his "Dahiyah Doctrine," under which the IDF would expand its destructive power beyond what it demonstrated two years ago against the Beirut suburb of Dahiyah, considered a Hezbollah stronghold.

"We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective, these are military bases," he said. "This isn't a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized."


Of course, disproportionate use of force is *exactly* what those at the UN -- and those who seek war crimes charges -- accuse Israel of. By definition, Israel's policy was one of intentionally provoking the UN, the media, and those who accuse Israel of committing war crimes.

If I were Jewish, I suspect I would feel an almost desperate need to hold on to my belief that Zionism could work one day, even though I would feel disgust and a sense of betrayal for how it is, in reality. I suspect I would also disagree in part with those who say Israel needs to be purely secular. Rather, it is specifically *BECAUSE* it is a state rooted in Judaism that it needs to be truly universal, largely apolitical, and, yes, in many ways, secular.

Zionist socialists may have helped create Israel, but I also feel that when the rabbis of the world essentially gave Israel their blessing, that came with an obligation, entered in knowingly, with full knowledge of the evils that governments can do.

I'm not sure of the proper equivalent in Jewish scripture, but for me, it's the moral/religious equivalent of the key lessons of The Little Prince. In effect, they entered into a sacred promise to make sure that Israel lived up to an ideal.

The very nature of the bond, the connection, and the choice to love implies not the jealous possessiveness of ownership or an perpetual right, but responsibility. All other things follow from there.
posted by markkraft at 10:56 PM on January 19, 2009


I've been trying to understand how it is that Israel's actions don't amount to "collective punishment". [NOT ANTISEMITIST]
posted by Rumple at 11:54 PM on January 19, 2009


Speaking of what I hate about zionism and religion being used to justify evil... looks like the settler's group Homesh First is planning on settling in Gaza again soon, whether the Israeli government likes it or not.

Vaarious Jewish nationalist groups that support the settlement of Gaza are also mounting a large-scale ad campaign to build even more public support.
posted by markkraft at 12:36 AM on January 20, 2009


koeselitz: "That's precisely because it's easy for Americans to understand the Irish, but it's difficult for us to understand the Palestinians. I really think it's a case of foreignness; the hopes and dreams of the Palestinians have very little to do with the things that the Irish hoped for, or that we hoped for once upon a time for that matter.

And that's exactly why I believe we should resist the temptation to say that the Irish "sound like" the Palestinians.


I should point out that the Irish have been regularly flying Palestinian flags out of solidarity for the the past twenty years.

gman: Are those who take a negative view of Palestinians also labeled anti-Semites?

Brother, beats me. As far as I'm concerned, the more people are reminded of the things they have in common (beyond the desire to blow things up), the better.

Ugandan Discussions No, the real reason why "Gaza-Genocide" is a dangerous parallel is because it is not true.

The better term is probably "ethnic cleansing," since that incorporates the removal of a people from their land.

rodgerd Did you even think before you typed that? Can you not even grasp how offensive and wrong-headed it is?

He was providing a counter-example to another post about two places up from his own; it's supposed to be offensive and wrong-headed, because someone else seriously suggested the exact same thing, but with the ethnicities changed.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:09 AM on January 20, 2009


Some 50,000 Palestinians have been left homeless by the Israeli war on the people of Gaza, with 400,000 now lacking access to running water. Rebuilding what the Israeli military destroyed will cost billions of dollars.
posted by homunculus at 8:41 AM on January 20, 2009


Destroying the civil infrastructure of Gaza was the whole point of the exercise, wasn't it? If you take it as Israel's primary aim to make life unbearable for the Palestinians in hopes that they'll go away and/or die, their actions make a lot more sense.
posted by Grangousier at 9:02 AM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The better term is probably "ethnic cleansing," since that incorporates the removal of a people from their land.

You seem to occupy a mirror-universe where things are upside down. Jews were expelled from Gaza. They were expelled from Jordan. They were expelled from the West Bank, and only returned (under perpetual armed guard!) after Israel conquered it in 1967. The same goes for Jerusalem: Jordan expelled the Jewish community when it captured it in 1948; Jews only returned in 1967. Egypt may have a few Jews today; once it had the largest Jewish population of the Middle East. Israel, in contrast to all of these, has a large and thriving Arab community. Yet what do we hear? That Israel is guilty of ethnic cleansing!

Then people complain about attacks on civilians. Every rocket fired by Hamas is an attack on civilians - they don't have enough precision to aim at military targets, even if they chose to. Almost every bombing is aimed at civilians. In contrast, Israel has gone to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties in an urban conflict - perhaps greater lengths than any army in similar circumstances. And yet what do we hear? That Israel attacks civilians.

I could go on - there are complaints about democracy, when in fact Hamas is theologically opposed to democracy and Israel has a thriving Parliament. There are complaints about religion in public life, but Hamas is committed to a theocratic state while Israel has no official religion or religious tests for public office. In short, every complaint made about Israel should rationally be applied to Hamas and the states surrounding Israel. And yet it's always Israel.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:37 PM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Postroad writes "750,000 Jews forcefully expelled from Arab nations, all they owned taken, their roots for cen turies destroyed. But why worry about small details."

That's terrible. Did my taxes fund that ethnic cleasing too?
posted by orthogonality at 4:11 PM on January 20, 2009


"Jews were expelled from Gaza. They were expelled from Jordan."

Sure... by the Israeli Government and by the Briitish. Jordan. There were practically no jews who lived in Transjordan in 1946 (when it became an independent state), as a result of Winston Churchill's 1921 decision in favor of "preserving [the] Arab character" of Transjordan and the resulting British policy forbidding Jews from settling there.

...so, how is this relevant to the admittedly disproportionate military doctrine that led to the deaths of over 1300 Gazans, with over 5000 wounded, and tens of thousands left homeless and malnourished, with a broken infrastructure and lakes full of raw sewage?

"Jordan expelled the Jewish community when it captured (Jerusalem) in 1948; Jews only returned in 1967."

Except, of course, Palestinians were expelled from West Jerusalem first, leading to Jews being expelled from East Jerusalem. In 1967, Israel seized all of Jerusalem and attempted to annex it, only to have their decision declared "null and void" by United Nations Security Council Resolution 478... a security council ruling Israel is still in open defiance of.

Again though. How does this justify Israel doing the same, if not worse? Are you saying that Israel has a right to ethnic cleansing?

Yet what do we hear? That Israel is guilty of ethnic cleansing!"

Yes. Israel *IS* guilty of ethnic cleansing. As in "present tense". In violation of numerous UN Security Council declarations.

Are you really trying to justify today's war crimes based on what happened sixty years ago?

"Israel has a thriving Parliament...."

...which recently voted to strip parties from the next election who opposed the war, stonewalling overwhelming opposition of those Arabs who Israel allows to participate in their fundamentally unfair system.
posted by markkraft at 7:00 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


markkraft wrote: Israel *IS* guilty of ethnic cleansing. [...] Are you really trying to justify today's war crimes based on what happened sixty years ago?

This ethnic cleansing of Jews is still going on. How many Jews are citizens of Jordan? Egypt? Why did the Israeli government believe it had to extract its citizens from Gaza when it withdrew from there? Why do the Jews in the West Bank live behind barricades?

Just try to address the point: there were Jews in Gaza under the Ottomans and under the British, although they fled Arab pogroms in 1929. There were no Jews in Gaza while it was occupied by Egypt. There were at least a few Jews in Gaza while it was occupied by Israel but they had to live behind barricades. There are no Jews in Gaza now that it is run by Hamas. Why? Because they are offended by the presence of Jews.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:31 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


"This ethnic cleansing of Jews is still going on. How many Jews are citizens of Jordan? Egypt?"

Probably not many want to go to Jordan or Egypt, frankly, in part because the behavior of Israel in the region actively promotes antisemitism. like a slap in the face to many in the Jewish community who are just trying to live their lives in peace.

Why do you ask, anyway? Did Israel open its country to Islamic immigrants lately, on an equal basis as any other applicant?

Jews are not being ethnically cleansed from Arab states. They're being ethnically excluded. The big difference being, at least they aren't saying that their citizens can't reunite with family and relatives... whereas that is *EXACTLY* what Israel is doing every day, with Arab Israeli citizens forbidden from having their families immigrate to the country.

America has passed similar laws before, sadly. In the late 1800's, the very same Chinese who came to America and helped build our railroads, mine its riches, put till to soil, and who helped rebuild San Francisco after the earthquake and great fire were routinely forbidden from having their families immigrate to America, bringing in brides from outside the country, etc.

The goal, clearly, was to use time as a tool to cleanse our nation of Chinese. It was wrong and disgraceful then, even though the restrictions the U.S. imposed were never as severe as those that exist today in Israel, where ethnic cleansing exists, both in legally codified forms, and in the form of illegal Israeli settlements outside their legal borders.

"Why did the Israeli government believe it had to extract its citizens from Gaza when it withdrew from there?"

A better question would be, why was the Israeli government so supportive of of those Gazan settlers being resettled illegally, in the West Bank?

The facts are that Israel left Gaza specifically because their settlements were surrounded by large numbers of Palestinians, making it both impractical and difficult to support continued colonization in Gaza, without having to accept a huge number of Palestinians into Israel, should a peace settlement be made. However, by moving those people to the West Bank, it would help Israel to consolidate control over regions, and would also help to push Palestinians out of the territories they hoped would become part of any final settlement, even though such a thing would violate numerous previous UN Security Council decisions.

The facts are that Israel does not want any kind of final settlement that would mean significantly increasing the Palestinian population in Israel, because they are afraid that one day, they would face a situation where Palestinians outnumber Jews within Israel, making a Jewish democratic state a demographically untenable notion.

"Why do the Jews in the West Bank live behind barricades?"

Security... and exclusion. Why does Israel make walls in lands that do not legally belong to them?

"There are no Jews in Gaza now that it is run by Hamas. Why? Because they are offended by the presence of Jews."

That's a particularly clueless and offensive statement to make, especially considering the links I gave just a few comments back, pointing out that Israeli settlers intend to forceably resettle parts of Gaza, with or without the Israeli government's approval. These radical zionist settlers are armed to the teeth. Do you really think they care much about what Hamas thinks? They believe all the land is theirs by God-given right, to settle on as they wish.
posted by markkraft at 2:15 AM on January 21, 2009


I should mention one point.

The agenda of radical zionist settlers and those media sources that support them, such as Arutz Sheva, and, to a lesser extent, the Jerusalem Post, don't just promote a religiously-based, elitist, anti-Arab racism.

It also openly promotes anti-Americanism and divided loyalties within the American Jewish community.

Now, those are horribly strong, damning words to say, but I don't say it lightly.

Take, for example, this ad carried prominently by Arutz Sheva's English language site, aimed specifically towards American readers. It goes to this website, which is intended to promote fear in Jewish Americans, intentionally comparing the United States to the nazi Germany, telling them that a Holocaust can happen in our nation, and that concentration camps are being built today, supposedly for this very purpose.

Why are these radical zionists promoting anti-American hatred and distrust? Because the goal is to encourage American citizens to leave the U.S. and engage in illegal settling in Israel.

Now, I ask you... in what respect isn't this hate speech? Why is it that you and others in your community not openly, aggressively denounce it as such, especially when it is the kind of hateful behavior likely to encourage anti-semitism in America?

Even the Jerusalem Post makes a point of ads specifically targeting Americans to settle illegally in the West Bank, the Golan Heights, etc., emphasizing facts such as the large amount of English-speaking settlers, etc. Never mind that the United States government is officially opposed to settlement in such areas. Never mind the fact that those people who are encouraged to settle in such places could lose everything in an actual peace settlement.

Why are they encouraging Americans to do something fundamentally anti-American and against U.S. foreign interests, that helps to create an obstacle to a lasting peace settlement for Israel?
posted by markkraft at 2:59 AM on January 21, 2009


I asked: How many Jews are citizens of Jordan? Egypt?

markkraft responded: Probably not many want to go to Jordan or Egypt, frankly, in part because the behavior of Israel in the region actively promotes antisemitism.

So let me follow what you're saying. No Jews are citizens of Jordan - not one! - but that's OK because they wouldn't want to go there anyway because people in Jordan hate them, and that's Israel's fault. And no Jews can live in Gaza, but that's OK &c. So how would you describe this effect, where Jews aren't allowed to live among Arabs?

Jews are not being ethnically cleansed from Arab states. They're being ethnically excluded.

Thank you for the clarification.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:09 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


"So let me follow what you're saying. No Jews are citizens of Jordan - not one! - but that's OK..."

I never said it was a good state of affairs. I just said that there is currently no ethnic cleansing going on there, and that the issue is, in some ways, quite moot, because there are likely no Jewish settlers who want to settle there.

Clearly, it's a far greater wrong -- and one far more correctable -- for a state to be currently engaging in active ethnic cleansing, or practicing immigration policies that are, in effect, a very unfair, discriminatory kind of ethnic cleansing.

"they wouldn't want to go there anyway because people in Jordan hate them, and that's Israel's fault."

While I think it's blindingly obvious that Israel's actions re: the Palestinians *DEFINITELY* influence how Jewish people were -- and would be -- treated as citizens in Arab countries, only you insist that it's "Israel's fault".

Just because Israel's hamfisted policies clearly incite hatred and even violence, that doesn't mean hatred or violence are justified from either side of the conflict. Israel's policies are ultimately wrongheaded and self-defeating... and so is turning to hatred and violence. But realistically, you can't engage in one and not reasonably expect the other.

Israel should be responsible for its actions, and realize that it's actions have consequences, shouldn't it?

You'd expect the same from a six-year-old, frankly... and if every time the kid acted out violently, it was coddled and allowed to engage in elaborate self-justifications for it's violence, you wouldn't be surprised if it grew up to be a bully, with an underdeveloped sense of empathy, compassion, and, really, the kind of universality that Judaism is supposed to be based on.

"And no Jews can live in Gaza, but that's OK..."

I *ABSOLUTELY* never said that no Jews can live in Gaza. Indeed, I pointed out that radical Jewish zionists are *INSISTING* to live in Gaza, regardless of what the State of Israel or the Gazans feel.

No, it's not that no Jews can live in Gaza. It's that according to international law, no Jewish settlers *SHOULD* live in Gaza... unless, of course, they fully want to become a part of the larger Gazan community, living under Palestinian law when peace finally comes, in which case they should abide by whatever immigration policies that government will have in the future.

Of course, they absolutely do not want this!

"Jews are not being ethnically cleansed from Arab states. They're being ethnically excluded. " . . . Thank you for the clarification."

It's an important clarification. Israel is both ethnically excluding *AND* ethnically cleansing Palestinians, but in both cases, it's happening today... both to Arab-Israeli citizens, and to Palestinians, who are being ethnically cleansed.
posted by markkraft at 5:20 AM on January 21, 2009


Israel admits it "may" have used White Phosphorus shells on Gaza.
posted by Rumple at 10:21 AM on January 21, 2009


How Israel drowns dissent: Firefighters turned their hoses on a peaceful anti-war protester last week. Their attitude reflects a worrying shift in public opinion
posted by homunculus at 12:42 PM on January 21, 2009


I asked: So let me follow what you're saying. No Jews are citizens of Jordan - not one! - but that's OK...

markkraft responded: [T]here is currently no ethnic cleansing going on there, and that the issue is, in some ways, quite moot, because there are likely no Jewish settlers who want to settle there.

So Jordan, having already managed to get of its Jews, is not to be criticized for refusing to admit any more.

Clearly, it's a far greater wrong -- and one far more correctable -- for a state to be currently engaging in active ethnic cleansing, or practicing immigration policies that are, in effect, a very unfair, discriminatory kind of ethnic cleansing.

Like in Gaza and the West Bank? Because there aren't any Jews in Gaza, and no settlement envisages any Jews remaining in Palestinian areas of the West Bank.

It's blindingly obvious that Israel's actions re: the Palestinians *DEFINITELY* influence how Jewish people were -- and would be -- treated as citizens in Arab countries, only you insist that it's Israel's fault.

No, you were the one who said that the behavior of Israel in the region actively promotes antisemitism. You said it, not me. It's a classic blame-the-victim line.

If every time [a child] acted out violently, it was coddled and allowed to engage in elaborate self-justifications for it's violence, you wouldn't be surprised if it grew up to be a bully, with an underdeveloped sense of empathy, compassion [...]

Surely you're describing Hamas now? After all, Hamas is firing rockets blindly against a civilian population; Hamas is recruiting people to blow themselves up in pizzerias; Hamas' very flag shows a fist clenching a machine gun.

Oh, and pease don't give me lectures about what "Judaism is supposed to be based on."

I *ABSOLUTELY* never said that no Jews can live in Gaza.

Can any Jews live in Gaza? Is there a single Jew living there today? Because there were lots there a few years ago (when it was occupied by Israel) and lots more before the pogroms seventy years ago. What do you think would happen to a Jew who tried living there, given that the present residents are going to great difficulty to capture or kill Jews living across the border?

Israel is both ethnically excluding *AND* ethnically cleansing Palestinians, but in both cases, it's happening today... both to Arab-Israeli citizens, and to Palestinians, who are being ethnically cleansed.

Here we are in topsy-turvy mirror-land again. Israel: lots of Jews, lots of Arabs. West Bank: Lots of Arabs, some Jews living in fear behind barricades. Gaza: lots of Arabs, no Jews. It's tacitly accepted that some or all of the Jews in the West Bank will be forced to leave as a condition of peace with the Arabs, but nobody suggests that any Arabs living anywhere will be forced to leave. And what conclusion do you draw? Why, that Israel is guilty of ethnic cleansing. Because you live in the mirror-land.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:06 PM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


"So Jordan, having already managed to get of its Jews, is not to be criticized for refusing to admit any more."

I am perfectly fine with Jordan being criticized for refusing to admit Jewish settlers. That said... it's not currently punishing any residents of Jordan, except, perhaps, the Jordanians itself. That is absolutely not the case with the Palestinians or with the Arabs in Israel.

"Can any Jews live in Gaza?"

If they tried -- and it looks like they will -- there could be deaths on both sides, though I would argue that the settlers are armed well enough that they could defend themselves, even though they would be a popular target for mortar attacks, etc. This would almost certainly bring the IDF into the picture, either to defend the settlers or to remove them... something that clearly wouldn't happen until after elections, as none of the leaders would want forced removal hanging over them before the elections. We are already seeing cases in the West Bank where unauthorized settlements that were scheduled to be removed are being delayed.

"It's tacitly accepted that some or all of the Jews in the West Bank will be forced to leave as a condition of peace with the Arabs"

That is absolutely not what the Palestinian negotiators have indicated.

As Hassan Asfour, chief Palestinian negotiator for Oslo said:
"We want a democratic country. The presence of Jews will help us ensure democracy, and will also enable us to serve as a bridge between Israel and the Arab world. As for the settlements per se, they are a consequence of occupation. Where their location doesn't constitute a problem for us, we'll consider the possibility of leaving them in place. But not before a Palestinian state comes into being in Gaza and the West Bank. . . . [A] settler can remain . . . as an individual. . . . "

"Here we are in topsy-turvy mirror-land again"

Clearly, there must be a lot of illegal settlements outside of Israel in your non-topsy-turvy version of reality.

Never mind the fact that the Palestinian negotiators in the past have said they support and welcome Jewish citizens living in Palestine. That doesn't mean that segregated illegal settlements sitting on top of Palestinian water and other resources and will suddenly be given an absolute blessing in Palestine, but if Jewish settlers started settling on an area in the U.S. which they had no ownership of, they'd face the same risks of running afoul of other's legitimate rights of ownership, state resource plans, zoning laws, building codes, etc.

Now, it is entirely likely that settlers might fear discrimination, or might want to move back to Israel, but it's also likely that many Arabs in Israel might want to move to Palestine to flee from the discrimination which exists this very day.
posted by markkraft at 12:58 AM on January 22, 2009


"So Jordan, having already managed to get of its Jews, is not to be criticized for refusing to admit any more."

I am perfectly fine with Jordan being criticized for refusing to admit Jewish settlers. That said... it's not currently punishing any residents of Jordan, except, perhaps, the Jordanians itself. That is absolutely not the case with the Palestinians or with the Arabs in Israel.

"Can any Jews live in Gaza?"

If they tried -- and it looks like they will -- there could be deaths on both sides, though I would argue that the settlers are armed well enough that they could defend themselves, even though they would be a popular target for mortar attacks, etc. This would almost certainly bring the IDF into the picture, either to defend the settlers or to remove them... something that clearly wouldn't happen until after elections, as none of the leaders would want forced removal hanging over them before the elections. We are already seeing cases in the West Bank where unauthorized settlements that were scheduled to be removed are being delayed.

"It's tacitly accepted that some or all of the Jews in the West Bank will be forced to leave as a condition of peace with the Arabs"

That is absolutely not what the Palestinian negotiators have indicated.

As Hassan Asfour, chief Palestinian negotiator for Oslo said:
"We want a democratic country. The presence of Jews will help us ensure democracy, and will also enable us to serve as a bridge between Israel and the Arab world. As for the settlements per se, they are a consequence of occupation. Where their location doesn't constitute a problem for us, we'll consider the possibility of leaving them in place. But not before a Palestinian state comes into being in Gaza and the West Bank. . . . [A] settler can remain . . . as an individual. . . . "

"Here we are in topsy-turvy mirror-land again"

Clearly, there must be a lot of illegal settlements outside of Israel in your non-topsy-turvy version of reality.

Never mind the fact that the Palestinian negotiators in the past have said they support and welcome Jewish citizens living in Palestine. That doesn't mean that segregated illegal settlements sitting on top of Palestinian water and other resources and will suddenly be given an absolute blessing in Palestine, but if Jewish settlers started settling on an area in the U.S. which they had no ownership of, they'd face the same risks of running afoul of other's legitimate rights of ownership, state resource plans, zoning laws, building codes, etc.

Now, it is entirely likely that settlers might fear discrimination, or might want to move back to Israel, but it's also likely that many Arabs in Israel might want to move to Palestine to flee from the discrimination which exists this very day.
posted by markkraft at 12:58 AM on January 22, 2009


Now, it is entirely likely that settlers might fear discrimination, or might want to move back to Israel, but it's also likely that many Arabs in Israel might want to move to Palestine to flee from the discrimination which exists this very day.
You would think so, and you would be wrong. In a 2004 poll asking Israeli Arabs if they would be willing to transfer areas with a large Arab majority population to Palestinian governmental control the majority rejected it with 4 out of 5 stating that they feared a loss of civil rights:
Israeli Arabs and the vote
Sammy Smooha of Haifa University, who published the Index of Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel in 2004, did ask them, and they answered with a resounding No. Despite all the rhetoric about being Palestinians first, hardly a single Israeli Arab would trade Israeli citizenship for a Palestinian one.

Simply raising the idea scares Israeli Arabs. In his Index,Smooha found that 81 percent of the Arabs were afraid of a serious assault on their civil rights. The majority (63.6 percent) also feared a transfer of Arab citizens or annexation of Arab villages to the Palestinian state against their wishes.
posted by PenDevil at 2:28 AM on January 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Alrighty then, if peaceful resettlement is off the table, as has been intimated by at least two people, then I guess let's go back to Plan A: both sides get guns and start blowing each other away (some more). I don't know what I was thinking; Plan A (mutual destruction) has been working so well the last thousand years or so! Thanks for correcting me, folks.
posted by jamstigator at 5:48 PM on January 22, 2009


Change Gaza Can Believe In: Tearing Up Washington's Middle East Playbook
posted by homunculus at 6:58 PM on January 22, 2009


Israel admitted Wednesday that one of its tanks killed three girls whose father's cries on live television shocked viewers in the final days of the Gaza offensive, but said the action was "reasonable."
posted by homunculus at 7:20 PM on February 4, 2009


Israel's ambassador to Sweden has become the latest public figure to be targeted by a shoe-throwing protester.
posted by homunculus at 3:39 PM on February 5, 2009


The nightmare of Netanyahu returns
posted by homunculus at 1:18 PM on February 7, 2009


Lieberman's anti-Arab ideology wins over Israel's teens
posted by homunculus at 1:21 PM on February 7, 2009


Rise of the moderates: Out of the rubble of Gaza, global Jewish dissent could be emerging as a more potent force
posted by homunculus at 1:41 PM on February 7, 2009


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