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The Palestine Papers
January 23, 2011 3:05 PM   Subscribe

Al Jazeera has obtained a large volume of official documents concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The confidential files, to be released in the coming days, were shared with The Guardian.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (112 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
PA offered to concede almost all of East Jerusalem, an historic concession for which Israel offered nothing in return.

Why would they? They've taken it anyway, and they're just in the process of moving those of undesireable ethnicities on so it can be settled by the "right sort of person".
posted by rodgerd at 3:09 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please tell me these were smuggled out on a fake Cat Stevens CD.
posted by griphus at 3:10 PM on January 23, 2011 [17 favorites]


Fascinating. Are we entering into an age, what with Wikileaks and this current payload, of large-scale government behind-the-scenes memos and whatnot being dumped into the public eye on a regular basis.

I don't have any problem with that as an idea. It will be interesting to see how it plays out over the next months and years.
posted by hippybear at 3:14 PM on January 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


The tl;dr: Israel has never really been interested in any kind of peace deal, America has encouraged them in that.
posted by Artw at 3:20 PM on January 23, 2011 [27 favorites]


Maybe we'll need more journalists.
posted by The White Hat at 3:21 PM on January 23, 2011


Palestine papers: Now we know. Israel had a peace partner
posted by Artw at 3:24 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


In other news, Israel has cleared itself on the flotilla raid.
posted by Artw at 3:25 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


The ongoing party line amongst hardliner Israelis and their American supporters is that the Palestinians simply don't want peace. It's been pretty hard to argue with that conclusion, since Hamas operatives are still launching rockets into Israeli cities and until 5 years ago, their charter was still calling for the destruction of Israel. The security wall brought suicide bombings down to zero (and as a result those in favor of it could easily ignore the human rights violations it created.) Meanwhile at the negotiating table, the word came down after the failed negotiations between Fatah, Israel and then-President Clinton that Israel was willing to give the Palestinians pretty much everything they asked for in exchange for peace. 96% of Jerusalem, withdrawal to the old borders, everything.

So for generations, many Jews, myself included have had it drilled into us that if the Palestinians would just put down their weapons, there would be peace.

I wonder if the revelation that Fatah was not only seeking peace, but willing to make large concessions to get it, perhaps in desperation, will even make a dent in the collective psyche of American Jewry. I wonder how long it will take them to justify the Israeli unwillingness to even meet the Palestinians halfway. And I wonder if any of them will mourn the deaths on both sides that ongoing, decades-long intransigence cost.
posted by zarq at 3:26 PM on January 23, 2011 [25 favorites]


The tl;dr: Israel has never really been interested in any kind of peace deal, America has encouraged them in that.

Why doesn't the Israeli left make a big fuss about this? I always figured that the Israeli right was intentionally sabotaging peace efforts and stoking the fires of hate to keep themselves politically relevant and you would THINK the left would try to put a stop to that?
posted by Avenger at 3:30 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why doesn't the Israeli left make a big fuss about this? I always figured that the Israeli right was intentionally sabotaging peace efforts and stoking the fires of hate to keep themselves politically relevant and you would THINK the left would try to put a stop to that?

Try having a rational discourse and I'll time how long it takes till you get to "If we don't put up a fight, the surrounding Arab countries would destroy us. They don't want us there and we must be strong to keep our land."

I've given up trying to rationalize peace to the warmongers after running into that same line in several different situations.
posted by cavalier at 3:34 PM on January 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


The tl;dr: Israel has never really been interested in any kind of peace deal, America has encouraged them in that.

Or, what folks like Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein have been saying for decades. Take that, Dershowitz!
posted by nola at 3:38 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Avenger: "Why doesn't the Israeli left make a big fuss about this? "

They have. Ha'aretz and Tikkun Olam have had ongoing coverage for years of the Israeli left speaking out for a functional peace process. They'll no doubt continue to do so now that these cables have been released.
posted by zarq at 3:38 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I still remember when my cousin was arrested for being an onlooker at a demonstration outside of east jerusalen this summer.
I placed some calls with a few movers and shakers i know, who in turn started a dialogue with the israeli embassy.
The same night, the military attaché to sweden decided to phone me about it.

The questions asked were quite invasive, and knowing the game, were very.. how should i put it, investigative.
i had to answer all questions in triplets basically.

He was released the three days later, unfed. from prison.

We're both dual-citizenship israelis living in europe.
posted by xcasex at 3:41 PM on January 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Among other documents due to be released is an Israeli offer to transfer Israeli Arabs citizens to the territory of a future Palestinian state.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.
posted by griphus at 3:45 PM on January 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


seems like the site transparency.aljazeera.net is blocked in israel and palestine, activist group telecomix mended it by providing a proxy here
posted by xcasex at 3:51 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


But there's nothing here we didn't already know! This kind of whole-sale leaking of documents is irresponsible and dangerous to American Israeli strategery! Those responsible should be tied up and shot for treason!

(oh wait, this isn't a wikileaks thread. sorry, will come back later.)
posted by kaibutsu at 3:56 PM on January 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


Among other documents due to be released is an Israeli offer to transfer Israeli Arabs citizens to the territory of a future Palestinian state.

Seriously? They offered ethnic cleansing as an incentive?
posted by fatbird at 4:03 PM on January 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm just surprised how far into CYA mode Fatah was. I think they expected Hamas to storm into the negotiating room any second and put a bullet into each of them.
posted by PenDevil at 4:04 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why doesn't the Israeli left make a big fuss about this? I always figured that the Israeli right was intentionally sabotaging peace efforts and stoking the fires of hate to keep themselves politically relevant and you would THINK the left would try to put a stop to that?

There are people who believe that the state of Israel is the one in violation of international law, including progressive thinkers in Israel, and in the US, as well as most of Europe and every member of the UN except for two. See if you can guess who they are.

However, the hawks in Israel and the United States can always play their trump card: any person expressing an opinion that conflicts with their vision of Israel can simply be labeled an anti-Semite.

So for generations, many Jews, myself included have had it drilled into us that if the Palestinians would just put down their weapons, there would be peace.

My response to this reasoning is this: if the Israelis stopped building settlements in Palestine, which has grown their population from around 2,000 in 1948 to half a million today, and then put down their weapons... would there be peace?

It always seemed strange to me that the side with the fighter jets, tanks, helicopter gunships, and nuclear weapons was the side asking for the other party to stop putting together homemade rockets with household cleaning supplies, or resort to suicide bombing after decades of having their land stolen from them. It reminds me of old pioneer soldiers slaughtering Native American villages, and then calling the natives barbaric when they retaliate by ambushing a few soldiers and gutting them with knives. And this exchange in "The Battle of Algiers":
REPORTER: Isn't it cowardly to have bombs carried in baskets to public places by Muslim women?

LARBI BEN M'HIDI: Is it any less cowardly to bomb villages from planes with napalm? Give us your planes, and we'll give you our baskets.
When you take away a person's home, a person's dignity, and finally, a person's hope for a better future, who in the hell is surprised when they resort to violence?

This is not to say that I excuse violence from Palestinians, just as I don't excuse the violence committed by the Israelis. I just don't see why Americans, Jewish or not, can't empathize with the Palestinians. If some guy wearing a military uniform bulldozed your home after another guy in the same uniform killed your daughters, most people don't walk away and file a formal complaint. They think very hard about how they can even the score at any cost.
posted by notion at 4:10 PM on January 23, 2011 [45 favorites]


I'm just surprised how far into CYA mode Fatah was. I think they expected Hamas to storm into the negotiating room any second and put a bullet into each of them.

I think if you're in the PA you're fully expecting *someone* to put a bullet in your head at any moment.
posted by Artw at 4:11 PM on January 23, 2011


But there's nothing here we didn't already know!

Well, to be honest, no, there's not a lot here that people didn't know or at least suspect. Sometimes leaks don't have to be some grand revelation to be significant, just confirmation of what is already known, or reducing how much it is deniable, can be enough.

(In that leaks confirming the obvious, see How Congress helped thwart Obama's plan to close Guantánamo)

(And yes, I know that you're less than serious and you're main point is grumbling that no-one has found anything in wikileaks particularly shocking, but really, people are wither shocked or not, you can't argue them into it)
posted by Artw at 4:18 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is more of a traditional leak than a Wikileak. The motivations are more overtly political. According to the Guardian the leaks came from within the Palestinian NSU which supports all PLO negotiations with the Israelis. This is a well timed leak. In the context of the Tunisian uprising it will present a challenge to the Fatah government. It totally shatters the Palestinian negotiating team. Not that this is necessarily a setback, but it makes a mess of things.
posted by humanfont at 4:35 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Israel calls the Haram al-Sharif the “Temple Mount” because Jews believe it was the site of the Second Temple destroyed during Roman times. In recent years, Jewish settler groups – some with close ties to the Israeli government – have advocated building a “Third Temple", which would necessitate the destruction of the existing Muslim holy sites.
Silly question: Is there anything explicit in the holy texts of either religion saying that it would be out of the question to share a temple/mosque with people of another religion? Or, if not, any specific mutual incompatibilities (e.g. a temple must have something orange in it, and nothing orange is allowed in a mosque, or whatever)?

Or is it just assumed that it would be an affront to Yahweh and/or Allah?
posted by Flunkie at 4:39 PM on January 23, 2011


Among other documents due to be released is an Israeli offer to transfer Israeli Arabs citizens to the territory of a future Palestinian state.

If this is true it basically confirms that Israeli policy towards the Palestinians is explicitly racist rather than covertly wink-wink racist that we always "knew" it was. Ethnic cleansing is evil, and it doesn't matter if the Arabs "would do the same to them" or whatever.

I don't know if anyone else has mentioned this yet, but if these papers are true it esentially confirms what HAMAS has been saying all along: that peaceful negotiation with the Israeli government is pointless.

I mean, if groveling and begging and giving up most of your core demands doesn't get you anywhere but an "offer" of possible future ethnic cleansing, then it's pretty obvious that negotiation is not working.

I don't think that terrorism is going to work, either. So at this point I don't see any future for an I/P resolution except the Israelis simply choosing to exterminate the Palestinians. Maybe closing all the borders and letting them starve to death like Ukranians in 1930s. Sounds terrible but can anyone see the situation going anywhere else?
posted by Avenger at 4:41 PM on January 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Is there anything explicit in the holy texts of either religion saying that it would be out of the question to share a temple/mosque with people of another religion?

I haven't read either of the holy texts in question in ages....

but my memory of the Old Testament seems to ping on the idea that the Temple is the place where YHWH shares physical space with his people, and there are numerous strictures on who can enter which part of the building, and under what circumstances. And while I cannot remember off the top of my head anything specific, I'm pretty sure that in all those rules about who and where and when there are probably some which speak against the idea of YHWH sharing his holy space with any other religions, probably even when those religions are offshoots of each other.
posted by hippybear at 4:44 PM on January 23, 2011


I can't imagine a source as unbiased as Al Jazeera would ever consider leaving anything out.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:47 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


...there are probably some which speak against the idea of YHWH sharing his holy space with any other religions, probably even when those religions are offshoots of each other.

1 Samuel 5 makes it pretty clear that YHWH does not share temples with idols:

"And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him."
posted by griphus at 4:50 PM on January 23, 2011


I was under the impression that the term "ethnic cleansing" implied forced or coerced removal, and/or killing. I'm not sure where this quote is from:
Among other documents due to be released is an Israeli offer to transfer Israeli Arabs citizens to the territory of a future Palestinian state.
... so I can't see the context for myself, but is there anything to indicate that it would be mandatory?
posted by Flunkie at 4:53 PM on January 23, 2011


I'm not sure where this quote is from:

Oh, crap, sorry. I followed the Haaretz link out thinking it was in the FPP. It's from here.
posted by griphus at 4:55 PM on January 23, 2011


"We do not like this suggestion because it does not meet our demands, and probably it was not easy for you to think about it, but I really appreciate it," Livni said.

Surreal.
posted by Corduroy at 4:57 PM on January 23, 2011


Well, it's pretty clear that he doesn't like Dagon, at least. Maybe Dagon's just a jerk.
posted by Flunkie at 4:57 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: The motivations are more overtly political.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 4:58 PM on January 23, 2011


I don't know if anyone else has mentioned this yet, but if these papers are true it esentially confirms what HAMAS has been saying all along: that peaceful negotiation with the Israeli government is pointless.

I mean, if groveling and begging and giving up most of your core demands doesn't get you anywhere but an "offer" of possible future ethnic cleansing, then it's pretty obvious that negotiation is not working.


In the sense that after 25 years of suicide bombers and rocket attacks the Palestinian negotiators have no real bargaining authority left. From a real politik perspective what's the point of negotiating with Fatah's sliver of leadership in the West Bank.
posted by humanfont at 5:26 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


According to the NY Times Palestinian Negotiatiors are calling the documents partial fabrications full of lies and half truths.
posted by humanfont at 5:44 PM on January 23, 2011


As the editorial points out, they are certainly the ones that this is the most damaging to.
posted by Artw at 5:48 PM on January 23, 2011


Fatah is probably finished as the authority in Palestine.
posted by fredludd at 6:03 PM on January 23, 2011


Depends on if they can spin it at Hamas propaganda. Tough though in light of Tunisia.
posted by humanfont at 6:10 PM on January 23, 2011


Rice: - The issue is that even if Israel has full trust in you, you are still incapable. I have full trust in Nouri Malki, Iraq's Prime Minister, but he is incapable. Canada has sincere desire but there came a time when Canada was incapable of controlling the borders.

Rice: - We have to work to improve the performance of the intelligence. Even America cannot protect its borders without cooperation with Canada. What is the way then?

RED MAPLE LEAF ALERT!
RED MAPLE LEAF ALERT!

Canada has been mentioned, even if just in passing, during critical US/Israeli/Palestinian negotiations! They like us! They really like us! They noticed us! They really noticed us! Alert CBC, CTV, and Global! Wake the talking heads! The Globe & Mail and the National Post must stop the presses! We need special reports, expert analysis, pundit commentary, and passionate editorials ASAP! All ready for excitement, insecurity, pride, and angst starting Monday 0500 sharp! What is Rice saying? Are we incapable of controlling our borders? Do they need us to control the borders? Are we erasing the borders? US settlements north of the border? Canadian settlements in Florida? Is Canada the next Iraq? Guns! National Health Care! Soft power! Battle of the Blades!

OPERATION NORTHERN NAVEL-GAZING GO!!!

Sorry.
I didn't mean to inturrupt.

posted by Kabanos at 6:10 PM on January 23, 2011 [17 favorites]


WikiLeaks: Israel aimed to keep Gaza economy on brink of collapse
posted by homunculus at 6:27 PM on January 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Please tell me these were smuggled out on a fake Cat Stevens CD.

heh
posted by clavdivs at 6:40 PM on January 23, 2011


Canada has sincere desire but there came a time when Canada was incapable of controlling the borders.

Wait, no seriously though, when was this time that came and how is it at all related to Israel/Palestine? I'd hate to think the Bush administration had just made something up for convenience's sake
posted by Hoopo at 6:43 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tough though in light of Tunisia.

maybe not. perhaps the idea is for Hamas to buy it.
i defer.
timed this was.
posted by clavdivs at 7:02 PM on January 23, 2011


"I can't imagine a source as unbiased as Al Jazeera would ever consider leaving anything out."

Yeah, the New York Times and FOX News are perfectly fair and balanced when it comes to reminding us how awesome Israel always is, even when they violate international laws and practice their own home-grown version of Apartheid.
posted by bardic at 7:47 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Egypt blames Gaza militants for church bomb
posted by rosswald at 7:49 PM on January 23, 2011


Umm humanfront, there are like 1600 articles in this leak. I don't care if Assange's calls that a mega-leak, it's still sizable, larger than wikileaks traditional fare. It's more targeted than cablegate, but almost any leak will fit that description.

We should remember that Arafat's conduct during the 2000 Camp David negotiations was condemned by most major western governments, a stance that's made the peace process seem pointless ever since. It's hardly 'stuff we already knew' if this leak changes that.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:57 PM on January 23, 2011


Silly question: Is there anything explicit in the holy texts of either religion saying that it would be out of the question to share a temple/mosque with people of another religion?

You do know that it took a decision by Israel's Supreme Court to force the admission of ultra-orthodox Sephardi Jewish children to publicly funded schools attended by ultra-orthodox Ashkenazi children?

The Ashkenazim were insisting that the little Sephardi girls didn't pray correctly, and that that might be contagious. They'd allow the mixing of their children only if the Sephardi children prayed in the Askenazi manner -- at school, and at home.
posted by orthogonality at 8:12 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


You do know that by asking whether there's anything explicit in the holy texts of either religion saying that it would be out of the question to share a temple/mosque with people of another religion, I did not mean that anything would come of it if so?
posted by Flunkie at 8:21 PM on January 23, 2011


Silly question: Is there anything explicit in the holy texts of either religion saying that it would be out of the question to share a temple/mosque with people of another religion?
You saw with your own eyes what the LORD did at Baal Peor. The LORD your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor, but all of you who held fast to the LORD your God are still alive today. . .

Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God and arousing his anger, I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the LORD will drive you.
Yeah, that guy is like the worst S.O. in the world. Imagine having an omnipotent stalker.
posted by notion at 8:25 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think there are idols of Allah (at least not in mainstream Islam). I think that idols are prohibited in Islam. Is this not so?
posted by Flunkie at 8:37 PM on January 23, 2011


And even if there are such things as Islamic idols, and there are Islamic idols in a shared mosque/temple, that would not imply that Jews are "following" that idol as some reportedly "followed" the Baal of Peor, nor that they "made for themselves" those idols.
posted by Flunkie at 8:42 PM on January 23, 2011


In the sense that after 25 years of suicide bombers and rocket attacks the Palestinian negotiators have no real bargaining authority left. From a real politik perspective what's the point of negotiating with Fatah's sliver of leadership in the West Bank.

Fatah more or less had total control and authority until very recently. But when a movement tells its followers to be patient and try negotiations, and those negotiations go nowhere, eventually that authority evaporates. Sure, at this point Israeli intransigence is almost meaningless, but mostly because their refusal to negotiate in the past has destroyed the legitimacy of anyone who wants to negotiate. Now they can conveniently claim that there was never a point in negotiating with Fatah all along, on the basis of their now diminished authority.
posted by atrazine at 8:45 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


While it seems like a bit of a derail form the topic at hand, people interested in questions about the theoretical or practical ability of Jews and Muslims to share a sacred holy site might want to read up on the Cave of the Patriarchs/Ibrahimi Mosque.
posted by andoatnp at 8:49 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


orthogonality: " You do know that it took a decision by Israel's Supreme Court to force the admission of ultra-orthodox Sephardi Jewish children to publicly funded schools attended by ultra-orthodox Ashkenazi children?

The Ashkenazim were insisting that the little Sephardi girls didn't pray correctly, and that that might be contagious. They'd allow the mixing of their children only if the Sephardi children prayed in the Askenazi manner -- at school, and at home.
"

I'd just like to point out that there are a large number of Jewish day schools in America which are pluralistic and accepting of anyone from any level of observance, ashkenazim or sephardim. They also accept non-Jews.

Please don't equate the Orthodox to all Jews, especially not the ultra-Orthodox, whom many Jews of other sects would say are extremists. There is a vibrant and tolerant swath of religious Judaism, especially in Jewish education.
posted by zarq at 8:54 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


cavalier: " Try having a rational discourse and I'll time how long it takes till you get to "If we don't put up a fight, the surrounding Arab countries would destroy us. They don't want us there and we must be strong to keep our land.""

It's not irrational argument. It's a misapplied -- too broadly applied -- argument. There's clear historical precedent that proves that yes, Israel would easily be wiped out if they didn't put up a strong front. If it wasn't for the Israeli military, the country would not have survived multiple wars with her Arab neighbors, including the Six Day War, the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War. Also, it's not as if anti-Israeli/anti-Zionist rhetoric is in any way uncommon in the region. Iran isn't the only sword-rattler. Just the latest and loudest.

So it's a reasonable argument when Israelis speak about needing to remain strong, lest they be pushed into the sea. However, it absolutely shouldn't apply in this situation, nor should the argument be used to justify the way the Palestinians are being treated, including the building of illegal settlements and the various violations of Palestinian human rights.
posted by zarq at 9:09 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Among other documents due to be released is an Israeli offer to transfer Israeli Arabs citizens to the territory of a future Palestinian state.

"To Hell or Connacht!"
posted by kirkaracha at 9:13 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Much of the following will seem naive and probably offensive to individuals on both sides of the wall - but I want to share this. Furthermore it's been a long day and I'm tired but this is interesting to me.
I have family living on both sides of the green line and I've spent some time with both of them and in the West Bank - recently I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with a far right settler from (near) Efrat. He was quite exasperated by some recent requirement to actually hook their sewer system up to a brownfield rather than just letting it run into the neighboring wadi. He threw up his hands and exclaimed that everything would be better if the Israeli government had complete control of all the settlements and the OPT, specifying "the government, not the military." His faith in the IDF was a little thin. Going in for a sort of checkmate I asked him what he wanted the Israeli government to do with the millions of Palestinians who lived up the road.
His answer shocked me. He said it would just be best to naturalize them as citizens. I hadn't met another Israeli one-state solution person and I didn't expect to meet one amongst settlers. What followed was a very interesting conversation.
He made several fascinating concessions. He claimed that the economics of the settlement process required Palestinian labor and it was unjust to force them to sneak to work each day ("Like you Americans do with the Mexicans.")
This began a conversation about the 14th amendment which led to a conversation about the Israeli Constitution (which doesn't actually exist in written form.)
Imagine the First Amendment to the Israeli Constitution enshrined the rights of all Jews, around the world, to receive sanctuary and citizenship in Israeli. A permanent safe-haven. Next, annex (truly and completely) the West Bank. Give full citizenship to the Palestinians. Two things would happen immediately - Israel would lose the Jewish majority while gaining Judea and Samaria. We both concurred that the Palestinian people - now Israeli citizens - would not "vote the Jews into the sea" - especially with a binding constitutional agreement that protected the rights of religious minorities and enshrined the "Jewishness" of Israel. Next, and this is where I was pushing him further than he was pushing me, create a system for reconciliation and forgiveness. While the Palestinian right of return is probably impossible, financial remuneration is not inconceivable. Share custody of Gaza with the U.N., Egypt and Israeli until it could be successfully redeveloped and merged with Israel, granting citizenship to the residents of Gaza. One Israel (or Israel-Palestine) united, with a written constitution and religious liberty. Tear down the wall and utilize the IDF to protect Israel's borders rather than militantly policing an entrenched native population.

It's incredibly depressing to see how little press the one-state solution receives. But I know, I know, back to one-sided bargaining.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:11 PM on January 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


Not depressed enough yet? Here's Hussein Agha and Robert Malley's latest analysis: Who's Afraid of the Palestinians?
During the last two years, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has suffered serious setbacks. Other than for a brief, fleeting moment, Israelis and Palestinians have had no direct political contact and there is little hope, for now at least, that this will change. Any faith Israelis and Palestinians may have in the possibility of an agreement is collapsing.

The US, sponsor of that process, has seen its credibility badly damaged. The Obama administration was repeatedly rebuffed—by Israel, from whom it had demanded a full halt in settlement construction; by Palestinians it pressed to engage in direct negotiations; by Arab states it hoped would take steps to normalize relations with Israel. An administration that never tires of saying it cannot want peace more than the parties routinely belies that claim by the desperation it exhibits in pursuing that goal. Today, there is little trust, no direct talks, no settlement freeze, and, one at times suspects, not much of a US policy.

Less visible but equally grievous is the growing loss of interest in negotiations on the part of Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Two years ago, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, was somewhat confident that, with a strong US push, Israel could be convinced to reach a historic deal. Since then, his confidence has been fading. Benjamin Netanyahu began his prime ministership in March 2009 with an ambivalent commitment and apparently little motivation to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians. During the period that followed, his commitment and motivation significantly diminished. For both leaders, facing publics more disenchanted than they are, it has become a political liability to project belief that negotiations can yield something. Without genuine engagement by the leaders, progress in the talks—direct, indirect, or otherwise—will be unattainable.

The current impasse has exposed a problem that runs deeper than misjudgments and missteps. Almost two decades after the peace process was launched, little remains of the foundational principle that each side has something of value to which the other aspires and thus something it can offer in exchange for what it wants. Israel holds a monopoly over all material assets. It controls Palestinian land, natural resources, and lives. Israel’s economy is flourishing, its security for now seemingly assured. Its occupation of Palestinian territories is subsidized by Western powers that purportedly seek its end. Although not as satisfactory as Israelis would like, the status quo is not as unpleasant as their adversaries would wish. Israel has become accustomed to the way things are.
posted by russilwvong at 11:04 PM on January 23, 2011


I'd just like to point out that there are a large number of Jewish day schools in America which are pluralistic and accepting of anyone from any level of observance, ashkenazim or sephardim. They also accept non-Jews.

Please don't equate the Orthodox to all Jews, especially not the ultra-Orthodox, whom many Jews of other sects would say are extremists. There is a vibrant and tolerant swath of religious Judaism, especially in Jewish education.


It's good to remember this, but the state-sponsored practice of Judaism in Israel is significantly different in its dynamics compared to the US. There is a rejection of pluralistic practices of Judaism that springs from several sources: secular Zionist rejection of Reform Judaism's "German (etc.) follower of the Mosaic faith" that continues even as the Holocaust and Israel re-energized an ethnic conception, Orthodox rejection of those who would just do away with observance of the majority of the 613 mitzvot and secular Zionism leaving that "obscurantism" to them, thus letting the Orthodox define Judaism, and finally, more speculative on my part, ease of conversion in the newer forms of religious Judaism and instant citizenship with the "Right of Return" (but then again, that would help against the "demographic threat" of a growing Palestinian population, but...and all the other previously stated reasons mitigating against that change).

As for the larger part of this tangent, it's a little bit ridiculous. First. and most importantly, because the Israel/Palestine issue is fundamentally about settler colonialism, not religion. Israel had the bad timing to come about in the midst of a wave of decolonization (formally apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia also made their stand in that period). This is the reason that "the West" with its history of settler-colonialism is so sympathetic to Israel - it identifies more with the Zionists in their settlement project than Palestinians or other colonized Arabs - note, not Jews per se, since just as European settlers of the lowest social origins had an instant social upgrade in the colonies (including the colonizing US) simply through whiteness, Jews became "whiter" by settling Arab land. These are all fluid identities, and some Arab immigrants to the US, especially those pre-1950 and Christian, could enter the elevator to whiteness alongside Italians, Greeks and Armenians, for example. The idea that conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is based on religion (not that religion hasn't accreted to it) is a very convenient origin story for those who wish to uphold the Israeli status quo. This is similar to beliefs around Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, though I am less familiar with that situation (I lived in Jerusalem for five years).

Second, there is basically no chance of a rebuilt temple because the symbolism of the Dome of the Rock and the al-aqsa mosque have become central and representative for nationalist and religious convictions from Palestine to the wider Arab world to the even wider Islamic world and Judaism has reconfigured itself since the destruction of the temple. So, even absent the major unrest the destruction would cause (to understate extremely), it is very hard to envision a workable coalition of religious Jews rebuilding the temple, re-establishing priestly authority and starting sacrifices again. There are extremely small groups thinking about this (the infamous "red heifer" problem) and you can buy photoshopped pictures and posters of the modern city with the Herodian Temple on it in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, but at the the moment no observant Jew goes on the Temple Mount for fear of trespassing into the site of the Holy of Holies. The Haram a-Sharif/Temple Mount is the one area I can't imagine religious Jews and Muslims sharing, even in an entirely utopian shared future solution, because of the delineation of space and boundaries. In the case of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, especially in a hoped for occupation-free future where Hebron is not under constant curfew due to the settler presence, Jews and Muslims could just ignore each other. Synagogues and mosques are pretty similar in their function as prayer rooms (unlike temples or sacramental churches). To return to the Sephardi-Ashkenazi Orthodox argument, that situation differs since the urge to correct is strongest when the difference cannot be written off as another wrong religion, but involves co-religionists.

As for these "Palestine Papers", it is "what everyone knew", but it's hard to see what Fatah or the Palestinian Authority as a whole or most importantly ordinary Palestinians in the West Bank will do now. Considering the US and Israel conspired to thwart Palestinian democracy in 2006 when Hamas won the most seats, it seems simply like further evidence of an ever more illegitimate puppet government, desperately going through the motions of what it's supposed to be doing ("establishing a viable Palestinian state") but patronizingly humiliated by the people who kept it in power (as quoted above by Corduroy, Livni: "We do not like this suggestion because it does not meet our demands, and probably it was not easy for you to think about it, but I really appreciate it"). The two-state solution looks increasingly ridiculous. Commenting, in characteristically angry tone, on an op-ed on Tunisia in the NY Times, that stated the following:
"in terms of American interests and regional peace, there is plenty of peril in democracy. It was not democrats, but Arab autocrats, Anwar Sadat of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan, who made peace with Israel. An autocrat firmly in charge can make concessions more easily than can a weak, elected leader — just witness the fragility of Mahmoud Abbas’s West Bank government. And it was democracy that brought the extremists of Hamas to power in Gaza. In fact, do we really want a relatively enlightened leader like King Abdullah in Jordan undermined by widespread street demonstrations? We should be careful what we wish for in the Middle East."
"Angry Arab" As'ad Aboukhalil wrote:
Those Zionist hoodlums basically want 300 million Arabs to be crushed by the various tyrannies provided Israeli occupation interests are served in the region. Do you see why Arabs blame (rightly) Israel for many of the region's problems? They know that it is--in addition to its occupation and war crimes--an extension of the tyrannical order there.
posted by Gnatcho at 11:20 PM on January 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


We both concurred that the Palestinian people - now Israeli citizens - would not "vote the Jews into the sea" - especially with a binding constitutional agreement that protected the rights of religious minorities and enshrined the "Jewishness" of Israel.

Why on Earth would a majority of Palestinians vote to enshrine "Jewishness" in their newly minted secular democracy? That's senseless. I'm no fan of Israel but I'm under no illusions about how a Palestinian majority would vote if given electoral power. The Jewish state would collapse overnight ala apartheid South Africa.
posted by Avenger at 11:28 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry to post immediately after my wall of text, but the settler-colonial experience are only the starting reason for Western sympathy and identification. Of course, strategic concerns and, to a lesser extent, lobbying continue that initial sympathy.
posted by Gnatcho at 11:31 PM on January 23, 2011


The Jewish state would collapse overnight ala apartheid South Africa.

If there's one thing South Africa did not do when making the transition from minority to majority rule, it is 'collapse overnight'.
posted by PenDevil at 11:39 PM on January 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why on Earth would a majority of Palestinians vote to enshrine "Jewishness" in their newly minted secular democracy? That's senseless. I'm no fan of Israel but I'm under no illusions about how a Palestinian majority would vote if given electoral power. The Jewish state would collapse overnight ala apartheid South Africa.

Obviously Palestinians and Israelis will work this out, whether at a government to government or people to people level, but I think that if there were one state, it would have to be binational, not "secular democratic" or whatever with no distinction. Cultural and language rights for both groups, programs to encourage learning about each other(far more effective than the current programs that exist under continued occupation and discrimination and more widely practised), programs to encourage social (economic, cultural, etc.) activity together and language education from early childhood. Obviously, Israel would no longer be a Jewish state, but it wouldn't expect Jews (or Hebrews as Moshe Machover suggests in an excellent essay they should be called in such a set-up) to be Arab followers of the Mosaic faith. But the right-wingers and settlers for a one state has been been getting coverage lately and is interesting.
posted by Gnatcho at 11:42 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was a rhetorical flourish but whatevs.
posted by Avenger at 11:42 PM on January 23, 2011


A big difference from South Africa are relative percentages of the population and a very strong settler ideology of a Jewish state with Jews doing everything. Palestinians (as is explained in the Machover essay I linked) are purposely kept even from service positions that would grant them any pull through strikes or whatever. Before the second intifada there was an increase of Palestinians as cleaners, construction, kitchen work, etc., but Israeli society, with state encouragement, has made a massive shift over to foreign guest workers from places such as Thailand for jobs that would have previously employed Palestinians.

(Not to belabour your specific "rhetorical flourish", but just as general info).
posted by Gnatcho at 11:51 PM on January 23, 2011


The Jewish state would collapse overnight ala apartheid South Africa.

If there's one thing South Africa did not do when making the transition from minority to majority rule, it is 'collapse overnight'.


It didn't, but it collapsed as a white African state. It is now a black African-run state with a significant white minority.
posted by rodgerd at 1:17 AM on January 24, 2011


The tl;dr: Israel has never really been interested in any kind of peace deal, America has encouraged them in that.
posted by Artw at 11:20 PM on January 23 [22 favorites +]


I am sadly unsurprised that there's nothing new for any of us who have actually been paying attention for the last few decades. A pity...
posted by Decani at 4:01 AM on January 24, 2011


His answer shocked me. He said it would just be best to naturalize them as citizens. I hadn't met another Israeli one-state solution person and I didn't expect to meet one amongst settlers. What followed was a very interesting conversation.

The key is your settler relative needs to get his fellow settlers to agree to this position and push for it.
posted by humanfont at 4:18 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


With all of the problems that face religious minorities in Muslim dominated countries, I wouldn't really expect the Israelis to want to go down that road.
posted by rosswald at 6:42 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


With all of the problems that face religious minorities in Muslim dominated countries, I wouldn't really expect the Israelis to want to go down that road.

I'd love to see you cite some significant, historical references for this. While it is true that it's not particularly fun to be a Christian in Saudi Arabia or Yemen, for the majority of their histories most Muslim dominated countries have been far more tolerant - even accepting - of religious minorities than their Christian dominated counterparts. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians living peacefully in the Palestinian West Bank, in Egypt, Algeria, the UAE, Iran and many others. Even that old bugbear of the right, Saudi Arabia, is currently negotiating with the Vatican to build a Catholic church within its borders. Here's a good blog post with lots of nice photos of Christian churches within Muslim countries.

I posit that it's easier to build a church in most Muslim countries than it is to build a mosque in America. But that is entirely my opinion.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:07 AM on January 24, 2011


I found a fantastic article that illuminates my previous points in a spectacular way. The individual I spoke with clearly attended or was a part of the discussion described therein. In fact, I should probably post it to the front page. But we've probably reached our limit for I/P griping for the week. Maybe I'll wait until Hotovely publishes the position paper mentioned in the article.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:15 AM on January 24, 2011


"historical references for this"

I am just talking about post-WW2.

But I mean, you cite Egypt, Iran, and Yemen, all of which have had pretty significant bombings recently. Of course there is Pakistan with the blasphemy stuff going on recently, and Iraq and Afghanistan (albeit these two aren't fair comparisons). I mean, it is taking the Pope himself to get 1 church in SA (which may or may not happen). Lebanon.

My point isn't that Muslims aren't tolerant, because by and large they are, but there are also significant non-tolerant movements.

It would stand to reason that the Jews in Israel/Palestine would want autonomy.
posted by rosswald at 9:29 AM on January 24, 2011


Rosswald - for the record, I agree with you. I think a written constitution can alleviate much of this, though. Certainly, for example, Jews in Israel/Palestine would recoil at the notion of Shariah law being passed onto the population. But I think most Palestinians would recoil at this as well. On the whole, I found most Palestinians to be some of the most religiously progressive folks I've known while traveling in the area. I think this is due to their long (very long) history of religious coexistence coupled with their experience of westernization under the British mandate. (Edward Said would probably slap these words out of my mouth, but I think the British made an impact on Palestine - for better or worse - that is completely undeniable.)
I recall a story I heard at a lecture in Bethlehem - this story took place during the 1970s in Gaza. The Brotherhood had come into Gaza from Egypt and was beginning to radicalize some of the populace. Finally, they instituted some volunteer Mutaween. Eventually, some of these characters confronted a young woman outside a shopping center in Gaza - she was threatened with imprisonment for wearing pants. Within a few moments, dozens of men emptied out of the nearby shops and cafes and detained the Mutaween. Their position was, "If you ever try this in Gaza, we will throw you over the fence back into Egypt."
So, it is my belief, based on my experience of the region - that barring any significant meddling by Syria or Egypt - the Palestinian people would be very accepting of constitutionally-mandated religious liberty.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:44 AM on January 24, 2011


Well, it's pretty clear that he doesn't like Dagon, at least. Maybe Dagon's just a jerk.

Fuck that guy, he started it.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:52 AM on January 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just noticed that Al-Jazeera's 'Transparency Unit' is basically a Wikileaks clone - as in, a site for anonymous document drop off, but this time backed up by a fully fledged media outlet. A Leak Amplification Site. More evidence that the Wikileaks formula is here to stay.
posted by memebake at 9:52 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I think a written constitution can alleviate much of this"

Meh, look at Lebanon. It barely works when it works, and most of the time it doesn't.

I just don't think that a "rainbow" state is at all feasible.
posted by rosswald at 10:02 AM on January 24, 2011


(I retract my previous comment; Red Maple Leaf Alert reinstated. Rice may have been talking about the Northern borders, Hans Island etc.)
posted by Hoopo at 10:21 AM on January 24, 2011


rosswald - it works well in Suriname.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:26 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lebanon's sectarian constitution (and national pact) is utterly hobbled by being a creation of the French colonial powers and its purpose of legislating the hegemony of France's chosen administrators, the Francophile and often Francophone Maronite Catholics. There has been no proper census since 1932, which gave the Maronites a majority (which they certainly no longer hold, though estimates are all everyone has to fall back on when it comes to figuring out the current composition of Lebanon - lots more Shi'ites, for one)

I have no clue how the Lebanese would begin to challenge the confessional structure of their government effectively, but it was not thought out with the best intentions for equity and lasting peace. One hopes that if there is a one-state binational solution for Israel/Palestine, it would have those intentions. Obviously the clichés come out about the perfect being the enemy of the good, but the Lebanese set-up wasn't intended to be good in any sense of how one would go about creating a multi-ethnic state.
posted by Gnatcho at 10:29 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just don't think that a "rainbow" state is at all feasible.

It isn't when a very powerful rainbow state is bent on destroying any other rainbow states from achieving stability, if that stability would present obstacles to their world hegemony.

Iran was a democracy, until we destroyed it because they wanted control over their resources. We did the same thing to pretty much every left-leaning democratic movement in Central and South America.

Lebanon was a stable democracy, until we went in with Israel to destroy it for their support of the PLO. Egypt could be a democracy, but we have supported the dictator there for about thirty years. Saudi Arabia could be a democracy, but we've been arming the theocratic monarchy there for decades, even while they remain the sole source of funding for violent extremism. Pakistan is still technically a democracy, but we've been cutting checks to their military (which is usually more secular) for the better part of 30 years. We even allowed them to develop nukes. Iraq was the most secular, advanced, and stable state, though it wasn't a democracy, in all of the middle east until we destroyed it. Palestine did have an election, but they elected the wrong people, so we strangled it.

Democracy is possible, if you're willing to accept the consequences of people actually in control over their own destiny.

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." -JFK
posted by notion at 11:16 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


"It isn't when a very powerful rainbow state is bent on destroying any other rainbow states from achieving stability, if that stability would present obstacles to their world hegemony."

It is all the US' fault, got it.
posted by rosswald at 11:21 AM on January 24, 2011


It is all the US' fault, got it.

Name five non-African nations that haven't had a coup attempt committed by the CIA, haven't been bombed by the United States, or have not had US forces stationed on their land.

Don't worry. I'll wait.
posted by notion at 12:10 PM on January 24, 2011


Palestinians attack Al-Jazeera office in Ramallah -- From the Washington Post
oughly 50 demonstrators attacked al-Jazeera's office in Ramallah, breaking a window and spraying graffiti on the entranceway that said "collaborator'' and "al-Jazeera = Israel.'' Similar graffiti was drawn in Ramallah's Al Manara Square, illustrating the seeming predominant Palestinian sentiment that the Palestine Papers, in highlighting Palestinian concessions to Israel, served Israeli interests.


Hard to say what this means for Fatah vs. Hamas in all this but it seems like Fatah wins the early news cycle.
posted by humanfont at 12:28 PM on January 24, 2011


Don't worry. I'll wait.
posted by notion at 3:10 PM on January 24 [+] [!]

If you are just going to constantly grind this one axe, maybe do it in a relevant manner?
posted by rosswald at 12:37 PM on January 24, 2011


If you are just going to constantly grind this one axe, maybe do it in a relevant manner?

Oh, I've got axes to grind. Consider me the Angry Depot.

My point isn't that Muslims aren't tolerant, because by and large they are, but there are also significant non-tolerant movements.

This is what I'm addressing, and it's perfectly germane: the only areas you have non-tolerant movements are areas in which we have repressed democratic movements, either directly with military force or by supporting anti-democratic dictators. Just off the top of my head: Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan. This only covers the Middle East, and is probably incomplete.

We have 737 military bases worldwide right now and 27 million man years of overseas deployment in the last sixty years. Along with Britain, we have participated close to one hundred years of repressive military occupation in the Middle East, with specific instances in which we destroyed a democracy in order to maintain control over natural resources.

Not everything is our fault, but there's a whole bunch of shit we can be blamed for, especially when you're talking about democracy in the Middle East. When we destroy democratic movements, eventually they turn into "non-tolerant" movements. People don't just roll over and allow you to dig your boot heel into their nose. They fight back.
posted by notion at 1:31 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ok great, you know exactly who to blame

Whats is your point
posted by rosswald at 1:48 PM on January 24, 2011


notion: " This is what I'm addressing, and it's perfectly germane: the only areas you have non-tolerant movements are areas in which we have repressed democratic movements, either directly with military force or by supporting anti-democratic dictators."

The largest population of Muslims in the world are in Indonesia. We (meaning the United States) supported Indonesian independence and democracy. We have supplied the Indonesians with financial aid and support in the form of goods and services for decades. We gave them $250 million in arms for, and also gave quiet assent to, their invasion of East Timor, which culminated in a "final cleansing." We have in no way repressed them. Quite the opposite.

Yet intolerance, terrorism and attacks on Indonesian Christians by Indonesian Muslims have been rising for the last 10-20 years. Since 1998, there have been more than 700 attacks on Indonesian churches.

Unless I'm misunderstanding you, by your reasoning this shouldn't have happened.

I realize you're speaking about the Middle East, and that your comment was intended to apply to them alone. But Indonesia is a clear example of a helpful partnership between the US and a Muslim ally, and an escalating non-tolerant movement has still developed.
posted by zarq at 1:55 PM on January 24, 2011


Unless I'm misunderstanding you, by your reasoning this shouldn't have happened.

You're comparing attacks on churches to the carnage in the middle east? Terrorism has, and always will, exist. But I think I would stop well short of comparing religious violence (common across the whole world) with massive social movements that turn violent after they are repressed.

In the case of Indonesia, I wouldn't call Suharto anything other than a brutal dictator when we gave them the cash to carry out genocide in East Timor. This was to balance power against Soviet influence, the great bogeyman of the 60s and 70s, not to prop up anything resembling a democracy. Funding a dictatorship to wipe out a small democracy I think is set squarely against your argument, not for it.

However, the United States, for its own cynical reasons, sometimes supports democratic movements when it aligns with geopolitical goals. The best example of this is the Kurdish movements in Iraq and Turkey. On one side of the border, we fund Turkish efforts to stamp out the PKK with extraordinary violence. On the other, we fund Kurdish Iraq to balance power against the Shiite and Sunni populations. Another good example is Afghanistan. Thirty years ago, we armed fundamentalist Muslims to the teeth to take it over, also to balance power against Soviet influence. And now we're there spending hundreds of billions of dollars to pretend like we can put the genie back in the bottle.
posted by notion at 2:11 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


notion: "You're comparing attacks on churches to the carnage in the middle east?

This isn't a competition. Your comment explicitly said "non-tolerant movements" have only happened where we have repressed populations or prevented democracy. The widespread, ongoing, escalating violence by Muslims against Christians and their churches in Indonesia is clearly a non-tolerant movement. However, in this case, no repression of the Muslims doing the killing, burning and pillaging exists.

Terrorism has, and always will, exist.

True. However, this isn't terrorism. It's an ongoing sectarian conflict that has at times resembled ethnic cleansing. "Sectarian conflict in the Maluku Islands of Indonesia between 1999 and 2002 killed thousands of people and displaced over 1/2 million."

Thousands of people have died, been expelled or had their homes razed to the ground in the last dozen years as a result of clashes between the two groups, and the vast majority of those have been Christian.

But I think I would stop well short of comparing religious violence (common across the whole world) with massive social movements that turn violent after they are repressed.

Unless I'm misreading you, you're claiming that US repression and support of oppression is the one source of intolerance in the Muslim world. It's not.

In the case of Indonesia, I wouldn't call Suharto anything other than a brutal dictator when we gave them the cash to carry out genocide in East Timor.

Suharto is not a dictator to those initiating and conducting violence in Indonesia. His people -- those same people who are part of the "nontolerant movement" I cited, live in one of the world's largest democracies. They aren't being oppressed by him and the US supported that democracy's development.

This was to balance power against Soviet influence, the great bogeyman of the 60s and 70s, not to prop up anything resembling a democracy. Funding a dictatorship to wipe out a small democracy I think is set squarely against your argument, not for it."

The Soviet Union is gone. Yet we're still supporting Indonesia extensively, and encouraging other democracies to do so.
posted by zarq at 3:13 PM on January 24, 2011


"You're comparing attacks on churches to the carnage in the middle east? Terrorism has, and always will, exist"

That was my initial point (which I think you are trying to respond to). I believe that a two-state solution is the only real option. I just don't see the Israelis being willing to be the minority in an Arab dominated state, with no military (no matter what constitution is in place).
posted by rosswald at 3:20 PM on January 24, 2011


Let's back up a second: if you're trying to say that Muslims are particularly predisposed to non-tolerant movements, that's plainly ridiculous. For every Indonesia there's a DRC, a Rwanda, a North Ireland, and even in America there has been widespread racial violence for centuries. The military in Indonesia may be turning a blind eye to violence, but that's mostly because they are still violently repressive.

I'm not claiming US repression it the sole source of intolerance of the Muslim world. I'm saying in that, in the middle east, US and British and Israeli colonialism are by far the primary components of radicalizing Arab nationalism into violent movements.

As far as Indonesia is concerned, we've been funding them whether they were a dictatorship or a democracy. Indonesia is of great geopolitical importance as the quickest and deepest sea route to Southeast Asia - that's why there are ships classed as "Malaccamax" - and as a buffer in the region. It's the same reason we tried to colonize the Philippines at the end of the 19th century.

As to our monetary support of Indonesia now, we give them about 150 million a year, which is on par with what they were receiving under Suharto in the 80s. According to CFR:
The United States for decades has supplied a variety of military assistance to Indonesia, a multi-ethnic archipelago of a country that is home to some 241 million people and, not incidentally, the world’s largest Muslim nation. During this period, Indonesia was ruled primarily by dictatorial leaders, and as a result, American military aid often was controversial. In 1998, Indonesians took to the streets to oust their longtime strongman, Suharto, opening up a period of democratic reform. But internal conflicts, some ethnic, some religious and others purely local, continue to roil the nation, and human rights groups still view the Indonesian military as a serial abuser of human rights. That set up a dilemma for Washington, which during the 1990s curbed severely its military ties with Indonesia’s armed forces, only to ramp it up again after the events of September 11, 2001. The 9/11 attacks convinced U.S. policymakers that confronting al-Qaeda-linked terrorist networks in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia, had to take priority. (source)
Obviously, the bit that's important is not that Indonesia is a democracy. It's that Indonesia's government takes orders and is useful to us, just like Egypt. And I'll guarantee you that if Indonesia ever stopped taking orders, all of the violence against Christians would be front page news as evidence of a "new" member of the evil empire, just as we suddenly remembered Saddam's crimes when it became useful to us as a pretense for invasion.

(Also, the Soviet Union is not gone. The RF is pretty much the sole provider of natural gas to Europe, and they have vast untapped natural resources, and thousands of active nukes. Their influence still enters into our balance of power equations.)
posted by notion at 3:57 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Let's back up a second: if you're trying to say that Muslims are particularly predisposed to non-tolerant movements, that's plainly ridiculous"

Agreed, which is probably why no one ever said this.
posted by rosswald at 4:04 PM on January 24, 2011


My point isn't that Muslims aren't tolerant, because by and large they are, but there are also significant non-tolerant movements. It would stand to reason that the Jews in Israel/Palestine would want autonomy.

Let's use some basic reflexive logical testing:

"My point isn't that Jews aren't tolerant, because by and large they are, but there are also significant non-tolerant movements. It would stand to reason that the Muslims in the Gaza strip would want autonomy."

Going out of your way to say that there are "significant non-tolerant movements" for one religion implies that there are religions that do not have significant non-tolerant movements. When they start executing homosexuals in Africa, see how many people start demanding that Christo-Fascists stop building churches in the United States.
posted by notion at 4:14 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was replying to the idea that Israel should be dissolved, and made into a single state with Palestine. I drew examples from countries in the same region to describe the experiences of religious minorities, and pointed to several sectarian conflicts.

notion, you just continue to flail around, misconstrue me, and add nothing to the conversation.
posted by rosswald at 4:39 PM on January 24, 2011


However, the United States, for its own cynical reasons, sometimes supports democratic movements when it aligns with geopolitical goals

What exactly is cynical about supporting your allies and pressing them to open up their societies, and supporting the opposition of your enemies? Just as one hypothetical scenario. Say you became POTUS tomorrow for the 4 years how do you meaningfully change our foreign policy with Saudi Arabia while maintaining a viable political coalition in US domestic politics. Keep in mind they have the oil and there are other buyers like China ready to pickup those long term contracts. Try not to let grandma freeze during those new England winters.
posted by humanfont at 4:40 PM on January 24, 2011


Baby_Balrog: "rosswald - it works well in Suriname."

Oh right, Suriname — where a convicted cocaine trafficker suspected to be involved in the murder of thirteen civilians is the freshly minted President!

-----

Pardon the sarcasm, but this sort of thing tends to trigger a reaction in the Dutch. I'm actually a bit sorry to have to point this out, as I'm intrigued by the one-state solution regarding Israel and Palestine and as yes, the Creoles, Hindoestanen, indigenous South-Americans, Europeans and others (including Jews and Lebanese!) seem to be getting along reasonably okay in modern-day Suriname, and every country has its problems, but I felt this needed to be pointed out.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:39 PM on January 24, 2011


Israel is the only middle eastern country where gays can serve openly in the military, have protected status against discrimination and have gay marriage (provided marriage is done outside the coutry). That's tolerance.

What's the Hamas statement on LGBT rights in Gaza? Does religious toleration include decriminalizing atheism, prosteletizing, apostasy, conversion from Islam, blasphemy (Ireland your on notice)?
posted by humanfont at 5:49 PM on January 24, 2011


One thing that observers have always admired about Israel after its remarkable tolerance is its tech sector. Sometimes these two amazing traits of a young, pioneering country combine, especially in the service of making the need for defence as humane as possible. It's generally overlooked, especially in the rubble of an apartment block containing a Hamasnik, his veiled (even niqabed) wife and their overly populous brood and collateral neighbours, but Israeli heavy weapons are either designed or modified (depending on their origin) not to be lethal to LGBT and/or atheist Palestinians and even to avoid them much of the time.
posted by Gnatcho at 8:15 PM on January 24, 2011


With all of the problems that face religious minorities in Muslim dominated countries, I wouldn't really expect the Israelis to want to go down that road.
. . .
My point isn't that Muslims aren't tolerant, because by and large they are, but there are also significant non-tolerant movements.
. . .
Agreed, which is probably why no one ever said this.
. . .
I drew examples from countries in the same region to describe the experiences of religious minorities, and pointed to several sectarian conflicts.


Which is it, my friend? I do not think I am the one who is doing the flailing about on this issue. If Muslims aren't any worse than any other religious group, why do you keep bringing them up?
posted by notion at 8:26 PM on January 24, 2011


What exactly is cynical about supporting your allies and pressing them to open up their societies, and supporting the opposition of your enemies? Just as one hypothetical scenario. Say you became POTUS tomorrow for the 4 years how do you meaningfully change our foreign policy with Saudi Arabia while maintaining a viable political coalition in US domestic politics. Keep in mind they have the oil and there are other buyers like China ready to pickup those long term contracts. Try not to let grandma freeze during those new England winters.

It's not that difficult. I'd tell Saudi Arabia that we don't do business with states that sponsor terrorism, especially ones that don't allow non Muslims to practice their religion. I'd tell them to be more like Iran: hold elections, allow Jews to build synagogues and Christians to build churches, and then maybe we'd talk about trading with them again.

I'd get on television and tell the American people that we're going to have to fight for our principles, not by sending poor kids off to die in the desert, but by making sacrifices just like our grandparents did in WWII to defeat the Nazis. I'd tell them they had a purpose, and by joining together to wean ourselves off of oil, not only would we be defunding terrorists and becoming more self-reliant, but we'd be creating American jobs and helping the environment at the same time.

I'd be like a George Bush but with morality, integrity, vision, leadership, and a high school vocabulary.

Israel is the only middle eastern country where gays can serve openly in the military, have protected status against discrimination and have gay marriage (provided marriage is done outside the coutry). That's tolerance.

What's the Hamas statement on LGBT rights in Gaza? Does religious toleration include decriminalizing atheism, prosteletizing, apostasy, conversion from Islam, blasphemy (Ireland your on notice)?


You do not judge a society on how well it treats the citizens who obey orders. You judge a society on how well it treats the citizens who dissent, and how they treat non-citizens in wartime. Even then, it's not up to me to decide how Gazans run their society. The only thing I can do is choose to trade or not trade with them.

Oddly enough, the only nation in the middle east to ever have a written Constitution guaranteeing the equality of people without regard to their race, religion, ethnicity, or gender was Iraq which passed it into law in 1970. Israel has an unwritten constitution of sorts (if I understand that correctly), but obviously they don't extend any rights to the Palestinians, even though they are under their military authority. Perhaps Iraq would have eventually arrived at constitutional protection of sexual orientation, but now that we've destroyed the whole nation and driven them into grinding, illiterate poverty, I sort of doubt it.
posted by notion at 8:48 PM on January 24, 2011


It's not that difficult. I'd tell Saudi Arabia that we don't do business with states that sponsor terrorism, especially ones that don't allow non Muslims to practice their religion. I'd tell them to be more like Iran: hold elections, allow Jews to build synagogues and Christians to build churches, and then maybe we'd talk about trading with them again.

First the White House council is going to tell you that you lack the power to impose a unilateral trade embargo with Saudi Arabia. Also any such embargo would be subject to litigation in the WTO court lasting several years. That's before you get to go on TV and give your speech about putting on a cardigan sweater.
posted by humanfont at 9:25 PM on January 24, 2011


First the White House council is going to tell you that you lack the power to impose a unilateral trade embargo with Saudi Arabia. Also any such embargo would be subject to litigation in the WTO court lasting several years.

You're telling me the President can't set the agenda and ask Congress to pass a law? You're telling me that we can't leave the WTO if it's damaging to our nation's sovereignty?

Thanks for perfectly illustrating why our country is circling the bowl. Our new national motto is: "We can't do the right thing, because it's too hard, and we might lose money and stuff."
posted by notion at 9:33 PM on January 24, 2011


US government suggests South America as dumping ground for mass deportations of Palestinians. It's like combining the Trail of Tears with... well, everything that's been fucked up about US-Latin America relations.
posted by rodgerd at 10:48 PM on January 24, 2011


I'm trying to figure out what the outrage is about. Despite Artw's claim that "Israel has never really been interested in any kind of peace deal" both sides seem to have been negotiating in good faith. There was a huge unspoken problem of course: Fatah had neither the authority nor the ability to agree to any sort of peace deal.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:55 PM on January 24, 2011


You're telling me the President can't set the agenda and ask Congress to pass a law? You're telling me that we can't leave the WTO if it's damaging to our nation's sovereignty?

You certainly can argue for passing a saudi sanctions law banning trade with them. You could then make your case at the UN to avoid WTO penalties. As a practical matter withdrawing from the WTO would limit protection for US exporters, raise tariffs on their products in over 100 countries and leave the US without the ability to file antidumping cases in the WTO court.

Are you sure this is the best way to improve human rights in the Kingdom?

Thanks for perfectly illustrating why our country is circling the bowl. Our new national motto is: "We can't do the right thing, because it's too hard, and we might lose money and stuff."

Easy to say that if it isn't your money and stuff.
posted by humanfont at 3:09 AM on January 25, 2011


Which is it, my friend? I do not think I am the one who is doing the flailing about on this issue. If Muslims aren't any worse than any other religious group, why do you keep bringing them up?
posted by notion at 11:26 PM on January 24 [+] [!]



Do you know what thread you are in? You work yourself into a tizzy spouting the same adolescent crap, but THIS thread is about Israel and Palestine (and specifically, peace deals and arrangements). Am I supposed to bring Sikhs and Jainists into the picture?

posted by rosswald at 6:18 AM on January 25, 2011


US government suggests South America as dumping ground for mass deportations of Palestinians. It's like combining the Trail of Tears with... well, everything that's been fucked up about US-Latin America relations.
posted by rodgerd at 1:48 AM on January 25

This is pretty incredible. It seems so stupid on its face that I am not sure how to react. Either Rice and the Bush Team were even stupider than I thought (which I didn't think was possible, but who knows), or these leaks aren't quite the whole picture.
posted by rosswald at 6:22 AM on January 25, 2011


I'm trying to figure out what the outrage is about. Despite Artw's claim that "Israel has never really been interested in any kind of peace deal" both sides seem to have been negotiating in good faith. There was a huge unspoken problem of course: Fatah had neither the authority nor the ability to agree to any sort of peace deal.


The outrage is simple. The PNA offered major concessions on every major issue, coordinated security with Israeli forces, and were given NOTHING in return. Most recently Israel has refused to extend a settlement construction freeze and ended the talks. This was spun by the Israelis as a response to Palestinian refusals to move forward on major issues. What we see now is that the PNA has in fact conceded on almost every major issue.

Getting Fatah / PNO to selling these concessions to the Palestinian people is the PNA's problem. Israel's hand would be substantially strengthened by have an agreement signed by the PNA, even in the Palestinians ultimately rejected it in a plebiscite. Any future negotiations would have to use it as a starting point, which is a heck of a lot better for Israel than the 1947 UN partition map, or the 1949 borders.
posted by humanfont at 7:55 AM on January 25, 2011


Humanfont wrote: The outrage is simple. The PNA offered major concessions on every major issue, coordinated security with Israeli forces, and were given NOTHING in return.

Perhaps we're reading different things? I'm looking at some transcripts of negotiations. They seemed to be negotiating in good faith, but as we know the negotiators didn't actually arrive at an implemented agreement. In other words, neither side "gave" anything. I suppose you might mean that the Palestinian side was more willing to compromise than the Israeli one, but that's not evident to me and I can't see that the Palestinian negotiators thought so. In any event, it's now moot.

Getting Fatah / PNO to selling these concessions to the Palestinian people is the PNA's problem.

Surely it would have been the problem of all the parties to the negotiation? It's not like the Palestinian side enjoyed much legitimacy. From what I understand it was appointed by Fatah, which is the dominant party in the PLO, which was recognised by the UN as the representative of the Palestinians. Even if we presume that Fatah could carry the PNC any agreement would still have to be accepted by the Palestinians actually living in the West Bank, where Fatah is less than popular, and somehow imposed upon the government of Gaza, which does not even recognise the legitimacy of the PLO.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:22 PM on January 25, 2011


Joe what many people are focused on is one the one hand you have a cache of documents that show major Palestinian concessions. On the other hand you have the Israeli government refusing to extend a settlement construction ban and derailing the talks. It is had to see this as good faith negotiations. The appearance is that major concessions were not reciprocated.

Hisotrically is was Oslo and not Madrid that started things rolling. The PLO and PNA are the internationally recognized entities for the Palestinians. If they cut a deal, it would end uP as he starting point for future deals. It would legitimize Israels claims to have an agreement. Gaining acceptance is going to be an ongoing problem.
posted by humanfont at 8:24 PM on January 25, 2011


We don't actually know what concessions the Israeli side made. Also, I don't think we should assume that the leaked documents are complete, or that there was no bias in their selection. The Palestinian negotiators certainly wanted more from the Israelis, but that's the nature of negotiations. It's the Palestinians - not the Guardianistas - who have to live with the conflict. At the end of the day you need an agreement that both sides can accept and the two sides seem to have come pretty close in their negotiations.

I don't dispute that the PLO/PNA is the internationally recognised Palestinian entity. The problem is that Israel needs an agreement with the residents of the West Bank and Gaza. I would be pleasantly surprised if the residents of the more-moderate West Bank were ready to accept a negotiated settlement, but I can't imagine that Hamas would assent to a settlement made by people they regard as traitors and negotiated with an entity they refuse to recognise. So what happens when the PLO agrees to a settlement but Hamas refuses? Would a settlement that ignores the wishes of the residents of Gaza even be a legitimate one?

Incidentally, I don't believe the settlement activity actually "derailed the talks". It was going on when the talks started, and it's clear that the Palestinian side recognised that most of the East Jerusalem settlements (decades-old suburbs with tens of thousands of residents) would necessarily remain in Israel. A far more likely explanation, in my view, is that the Palestinian negotiators lost the support of their own side - because the negotiated positions were really very, very close.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:56 PM on January 26, 2011


Humanfont wrote: Israel is the only middle eastern country where gays can serve openly in the military [...]

And apropos of that, the IDF presents the Backstreet Boys' I Want It That Way.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:18 AM on January 27, 2011


We urge all Palestinians at this critical moment to join our call for representation, and to take up our historic responsibility in the struggle for liberation

Palestinian students and academics occupied the Palestinian General Delegation offices in London, demanding their right to democratically participate in the shaping of their destiny via general elections to the Palestinian National Council.

Reports: Haaretz, Ma'an News Agency and Indymedia UK

[note: this was going to be a FPP but the occupation tragically ended peacefully and without drama while I was still typing it up]
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:35 PM on January 27, 2011


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