“The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam” by Henry Siegman

The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam
Henry Siegman
London Review of Books | Vol. 29 No. 16 dated 16 August 2007 | Henry Siegman

When Ehud Olmert and George W. Bush met at the White House in June, they concluded that Hamas's violent ousting of Fatah from Gaza – which brought down the Palestinian national unity government brokered by the Saudis in Mecca in March – had presented the world with a new 'window of opportunity'.[*] (Never has a failed peace process enjoyed so many windows of opportunity.) Hamas's isolation in Gaza, Olmert and Bush agreed, would allow them to grant generous concessions to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, giving him the credibility he needed with the Palestinian people in order to prevail over Hamas.

Both Bush and Olmert have spoken endlessly of their commitment to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, but it is their determination to bring down Hamas rather than to build up a Palestinian state that animates their new-found enthusiasm for making Abbas look good. That is why their expectation that Hamas will be defeated is illusory. Palestinian moderates will never prevail over those considered extremists, since what defines moderation for Olmert is Palestinian acquiescence in Israel's dismemberment of Palestinian territory. In the end, what Olmert and his government are prepared to offer Palestinians will be rejected by Abbas no less than by Hamas, and will only confirm to Palestinians the futility of Abbas's moderation and justify its rejection by Hamas. Equally illusory are Bush's expectations of what will be achieved by the conference he recently announced would be held in the autumn (it has now been downgraded to a 'meeting'). In his view, all previous peace initiatives have failed largely, if not exclusively, because Palestinians were not ready for a state of their own. The meeting will therefore focus narrowly on Palestinian institution-building and reform, under the tutelage of Tony Blair, the Quartet's newly appointed envoy.

In fact, all previous peace initiatives have got nowhere for a reason that neither Bush nor the EU has had the political courage to acknowledge. That reason is the consensus reached long ago by Israel's decision-making elites that Israel will never allow the emergence of a Palestinian state which denies it effective military and economic control of the West Bank. To be sure, Israel would allow – indeed, it would insist on – the creation of a number of isolated enclaves that Palestinians could call a state, but only in order to prevent the creation of a binational state in which Palestinians would be the majority.

The Middle East peace process may well be the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history. Since the failed Camp David summit of 2000, and actually well before it, Israel's interest in a peace process – other than for the purpose of obtaining Palestinian and international acceptance of the status quo – has been a fiction that has served primarily to provide cover for its systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and an occupation whose goal, according to the former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon, is 'to sear deep into the consciousness of Palestinians that they are a defeated people'. In his reluctant embrace of the Oslo Accords, and his distaste for the settlers, Yitzhak Rabin may have been the exception to this, but even he did not entertain a return of Palestinian territory beyond the so-called Allon Plan, which allowed Israel to retain the Jordan Valley and other parts of the West Bank.

Anyone familiar with Israel's relentless confiscations of Palestinian territory – based on a plan devised, overseen and implemented by Ariel Sharon – knows that the objective of its settlement enterprise in the West Bank has been largely achieved. Gaza, the evacuation of whose settlements was so naively hailed by the international community as the heroic achievement of a man newly committed to an honourable peace with the Palestinians, was intended to serve as the first in a series of Palestinian bantustans. Gaza's situation shows us what these bantustans will look like if their residents do not behave as Israel wants.

Israel's disingenuous commitment to a peace process and a two-state solution is precisely what has made possible its open-ended occupation and dismemberment of Palestinian territory. And the Quartet – with the EU, the UN secretary general and Russia obediently following Washington's lead – has collaborated with and provided cover for this deception by accepting Israel's claim that it has been unable to find a deserving Palestinian peace partner.

Just one year after the 1967 war, Moshe Dayan, a former IDF chief of staff who at the time was minister of defence, described his plan for the future as 'the current reality in the territories'. 'The plan,' he said, 'is being implemented in actual fact. What exists today must remain as a permanent arrangement in the West Bank.' Ten years later, at a conference in Tel Aviv, Dayan said: 'The question is not "What is the solution?" but "How do we live without a solution?"' Geoffrey Aronson, who has monitored the settlement enterprise from its beginnings, summarises the situation as follows:

Living without a solution, then as now, was understood by Israel as the key to maximising the benefits of conquest while minimising the burdens and dangers of retreat or formal annexation. This commitment to the status quo, however, disguised a programme of expansion that generations of Israeli leaders supported as enabling, through Israeli settlement, the dynamic transformation of the territories and the expansion of effective Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan River.
In an interview in Ha'aretz in 2004, Dov Weissglas, chef de cabinet to the then prime minister, Ariel Sharon, described the strategic goal of Sharon's diplomacy as being to secure the support of the White House and Congress for Israeli measures that would place the peace process and Palestinian statehood in 'formaldehyde'. It is a fiendishly appropriate metaphor: formaldehyde uniquely prevents the deterioration of dead bodies, and sometimes creates the illusion that they are still alive. Weissglas explains that the purpose of Sharon's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, and the dismantling of several isolated settlements in the West Bank, was to gain US acceptance of Israel's unilateralism, not to set a precedent for an eventual withdrawal from the West Bank. The limited withdrawals were intended to provide Israel with the political room to deepen and widen its presence in the West Bank, and that is what they achieved. In a letter to Sharon, Bush wrote: 'In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centres, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.'

In a recent interview in Ha'aretz, James Wolfensohn, who was the Quartet's representative at the time of the Gaza disengagement, said that Israel and the US had systematically undermined the agreement he helped forge in 2005 between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and had instead turned Gaza into a vast prison. The official behind this, he told Ha'aretz, was Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser. 'Every aspect' of the agreement Wolfensohn had brokered 'was abrogated'.

Another recent interview in Ha'aretz, with Haggai Alon, who was a senior adviser to Amir Peretz at the Ministry of Defence, is even more revealing. Alon accuses the IDF (whose most senior officers increasingly are themselves settlers) of working clandestinely to further the settlers' interests. The IDF, Alon says, ignores the Supreme Court's instructions about the path the so-called security fence should follow, instead 'setting a route that will not enable the establishment of a Palestinian state'. Alon told Ha'aretz that when in 2005 politicians signed an agreement with the Palestinians to ease restrictions on Palestinians travelling in the territories (part of the deal that Wolfensohn had worked on), the IDF eased them for settlers instead. For Palestinians, the number of checkpoints doubled. According to Alon, the IDF is 'carrying out an apartheid policy' that is emptying Hebron of Arabs and Judaising (his term) the Jordan Valley, while it co-operates openly with the settlers in an attempt to make a two-state solution impossible.


A new UN map of the West Bank, produced by the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, gives a comprehensive picture of the situation. Israeli civilian and military infrastructure has rendered 40 per cent of the territory off limits to Palestinians. The rest of the territory, including major population centres such as Nablus and Jericho, is split into enclaves; movement between them is restricted by 450 roadblocks and 70 manned checkpoints. The UN found that what remains is an area very similar to that set aside for the Palestinian population in Israeli security proposals in the aftermath of the 1967 war. It also found that changes now underway to the infrastructure of the territories – including a network of highways that bypass and isolate Palestinian towns – would serve to formalise the de facto cantonisation of the West Bank.

These are the realities on the ground that the uninformed and/or cynical blather in Jerusalem, Washington and Brussels – about waiting for Palestinians to reform their institutions, democratise their culture, dismantle the 'infrastructures of terror' and halt all violence and incitement before peace negotiations can begin – seeks to drown out. Given the vast power imbalance between Israel and the Palestinians – not to mention the vast preponderance of diplomatic support enjoyed by Israel from precisely those countries that one would have expected to compensate diplomatically for the military imbalance – nothing will change for the better without the US, the EU and other international actors finally facing up to what have long been the fundamental impediments to peace.

These impediments include the assumption, implicit in Israel's occupation policy, that if no peace agreement is reached, the 'default setting' of UN Security Council Resolution 242 is the indefinite continuation of Israel's occupation. If this reading were true, the resolution would actually be inviting an occupying power that wishes to retain its adversary's territory to do so simply by means of avoiding peace talks – which is exactly what Israel has been doing. In fact, the introductory statement to Resolution 242 declares that territory cannot be acquired by war, implying that if the parties cannot reach agreement, the occupier must withdraw to the status quo ante: that, logically, is 242's default setting. Had there been a sincere intention on Israel's part to withdraw from the territories, surely forty years should have been more than enough time in which to reach an agreement.

Israel's contention has long been that since no Palestinian state existed before the 1967 war, there is no recognised border to which Israel can withdraw, because the pre-1967 border was merely an armistice line. Moreover, since Resolution 242 calls for a 'just and lasting peace' that will allow 'every state in the area [to] live in security', Israel holds that it must be allowed to change the armistice line, either bilaterally or unilaterally, to make it secure before it ends the occupation. This is a specious argument for many reasons, but principally because UN General Assembly Partition Resolution 181 of 1947, which established the Jewish state's international legitimacy, also recognised the remaining Palestinian territory outside the new state's borders as the equally legitimate patrimony of Palestine's Arab population on which they were entitled to establish their own state, and it mapped the borders of that territory with great precision. Resolution 181's affirmation of the right of Palestine's Arab population to national self-determination was based on normative law and the democratic principles that grant statehood to the majority population. (At the time, Arabs constituted two-thirds of the population in Palestine.) This right does not evaporate because of delays in its implementation.

In the course of a war launched by Arab countries that sought to prevent the implementation of the UN partition resolution, Israel enlarged its territory by 50 per cent. If it is illegal to acquire territory as a result of war, then the question now cannot conceivably be how much additional Palestinian territory Israel may confiscate, but rather how much of the territory it acquired in the course of the war of 1948 it is allowed to retain. At the very least, if 'adjustments' are to be made to the 1949 armistice line, these should be made on Israel's side of that line, not the Palestinians'.


Clearly, the obstacle to resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict has not been a dearth of peace initiatives or peace envoys. Nor has it been the violence to which Palestinians have resorted in their struggle to rid themselves of Israel's occupation, even when that violence has despicably targeted Israel's civilian population. It is not to sanction the murder of civilians to observe that such violence occurs, sooner or later, in most situations in which a people's drive for national self-determination is frustrated by an occupying power. Indeed, Israel's own struggle for national independence was no exception. According to the historian Benny Morris, in this conflict it was the Irgun that first targeted civilians. In Righteous Victims, Morris writes that the upsurge of Arab terrorism in 1937 'triggered a wave of Irgun bombings against Arab crowds and buses, introducing a new dimension to the conflict.' While in the past Arabs had 'sniped at cars and pedestrians and occasionally lobbed a grenade, often killing or injuring a few bystanders or passengers', now 'for the first time, massive bombs were placed in crowded Arab centres, and dozens of people were indiscriminately murdered and maimed.' Morris notes that 'this "innovation" soon found Arab imitators.'

Underlying Israel's efforts to retain the occupied territories is the fact that it has never really considered the West Bank as occupied territory, despite its pro forma acceptance of that designation. Israelis see the Palestinian areas as 'contested' territory to which they have claims no less compelling than the Palestinians, international law and UN resolutions notwithstanding. This is a view that was made explicit for the first time by Sharon in an op-ed essay published on the front page of the New York Times on 9 June 2002. The use of the biblical designations of Judea and Samaria to describe the territories, terms which were formerly employed only by the Likud but are now de rigueur for Labour Party stalwarts as well, is a reflection of a common Israeli view. That the former prime minister Ehud Barak (now Olmert's defence minister) endlessly describes the territorial proposals he made at the Camp David summit as expressions of Israel's 'generosity', and never as an acknowledgment of Palestinian rights, is another example of this mindset. Indeed, the term 'Palestinian rights' seems not to exist in Israel's lexicon.

The problem is not, as Israelis often claim, that Palestinians do not know how to compromise. (Another former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, famously complained that 'Palestinians take and take while Israel gives and gives.') That is an indecent charge, since the Palestinians made much the most far-reaching compromise of all when the PLO formally accepted the legitimacy of Israel within the 1949 armistice border. With that concession, Palestinians ceded their claim to more than half the territory that the UN's partition resolution had assigned to its Arab inhabitants. They have never received any credit for this wrenching concession, made years before Israel agreed that Palestinians had a right to statehood in any part of Palestine. The notion that further border adjustments should be made at the expense of the 22 per cent of the territory that remains to the Palestinians is deeply offensive to them, and understandably so.

Nonetheless, the Palestinians agreed at the Camp David summit to adjustments to the pre-1967 border that would allow large numbers of West Bank settlers – about 70 per cent – to remain within the Jewish state, provided they received comparable territory on Israel's side of the border. Barak rejected this. To be sure, in the past the Palestinian demand of a right of return was a serious obstacle to a peace agreement. But the Arab League's peace initiative of 2002 leaves no doubt that Arab countries will accept a nominal and symbolic return of refugees into Israel in numbers approved by Israel, with the overwhelming majority repatriated in the new Palestinian state, their countries of residence, or in other countries prepared to receive them.


It is the failure of the international community to reject (other than in empty rhetoric) Israel's notion that the occupation and the creation of 'facts on the ground' can go on indefinitely, so long as there is no agreement that is acceptable to Israel, that has defeated all previous peace initiatives and the efforts of all peace envoys. Future efforts will meet the same fate if this fundamental issue is not addressed.

What is required for a breakthrough is the adoption by the Security Council of a resolution affirming the following: 1. Changes to the pre-1967 situation can be made only by agreement between the parties. Unilateral measures will not receive international recognition. 2. The default setting of Resolution 242, reiterated by Resolution 338, the 1973 ceasefire resolution, is a return by Israel's occupying forces to the pre-1967 border. 3. If the parties do not reach agreement within 12 months (the implementation of agreements will obviously take longer), the default setting will be invoked by the Security Council. The Security Council will then adopt its own terms for an end to the conflict, and will arrange for an international force to enter the occupied territories to help establish the rule of law, assist Palestinians in building their institutions, assure Israel's security by preventing cross-border violence, and monitor and oversee the implementation of terms for an end to the conflict.

If the US and its allies were to take a stand forceful enough to persuade Israel that it will not be allowed to make changes to the pre-1967 situation except by agreement with the Palestinians in permanent status negotiations, there would be no need for complicated peace formulas or celebrity mediators to get a peace process underway. The only thing that an envoy such as Blair can do to put the peace process back on track is to speak the truth about the real impediment to peace. This would also be a historic contribution to the Jewish state, since Israel's only hope of real long-term security is to have a successful Palestinian state as its neighbour.

Footnotes

* Rashid Khalidi writes about Hamas and Fatah on p. 31.

Henry Siegman, the director of the US/ Middle East Project, served as a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations from 1994 to 2006, and was head of the American Jewish Congress from 1978 to 1994.

Comments (11)


1. norman said:

I was listening to President Carter book ( Palestine ,Peace , Not apartheid ), It is sad what Israel is doing to the Palestinians and what is more sad is the surrender mentality of Saudi Arabia and the likes,
I was in Spain recently and saw how good the Arabs were to the Jews to the point that the Jews of Spain gave 12 Statues of Lions to be put in Alhambra Palace representing the 12 tribes of the Hebrew in appreciation of the good treatment that they received from the Arabs .
It make me angry to see how the Jews of today are treating the Palestinian Arabs , I do not think that there is any chance of peace with today’s Israel, So the Arabs and Syria in particular should prepare for war, And a long one if we want to win.

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August 20th, 2007, 2:04 am

 

2. Enlightened said:

” According to the historian Benny Morris, in this conflict it was the Irgun that first targeted civilians. In Righteous Victims, Morris writes that the upsurge of Arab terrorism in 1937 ‘triggered a wave of Irgun bombings against Arab crowds and buses, introducing a new dimension to the conflict.’ While in the past Arabs had ‘sniped at cars and pedestrians and occasionally lobbed a grenade, often killing or injuring a few bystanders or passengers’, now ‘for the first time, massive bombs were placed in crowded Arab centres, and dozens of people were indiscriminately murdered and maimed.’ Morris notes that ‘this “innovation” soon found Arab imitators.'”

Cant wait for Akbar to dissprove this one!

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August 20th, 2007, 5:38 am

 

3. t_desco said:

Al Qaeda’s Travel Agent
Damascus International Airport is a hub for terrorists.

By Senator Joe Lieberman

The United States is at last making significant progress against al Qaeda in Iraq–but the road to victory now requires cutting off al Qaeda’s road to Iraq through Damascus.

Thanks to Gen. David Petraeus’s new counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, and the strength and skill of the American soldiers fighting there, al Qaeda in Iraq is now being routed from its former strongholds in Anbar and Diyala provinces. Many of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, meanwhile, are uniting with us against al Qaeda, alienated by the barbarism and brutality of their erstwhile allies.

As Gen. Petraeus recently said of al Qaeda in Iraq: “We have them off plan.”

But defeating al Qaeda in Iraq requires not only that we continue pressing the offensive against its leadership and infrastructure inside the country. We must also aggressively target its links to “global” al Qaeda and close off the routes its foreign fighters are using to get into Iraq.

Recently declassified American intelligence reveals just how much al Qaeda in Iraq is dependent for its survival on the support it receives from the broader, global al Qaeda network, and how most of that support flows into Iraq through one country–Syria. Al Qaeda in Iraq is sustained by a transnational network of facilitators and human smugglers, who replenish its supply of suicide bombers–approximately 60 to 80 Islamist extremists, recruited every month from across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, and sent to meet their al Qaeda handlers in Syria, from where they are taken to Iraq to blow themselves up to kill countless others.

Although small in number, these foreign fighters are a vital strategic asset to al Qaeda in Iraq, providing it with the essential human ammunition it needs to conduct high-visibility, mass-casualty suicide bombings, such as we saw last week in northern Iraq. In fact, the U.S. military estimates that between 80% and 90% of suicide attacks in Iraq are perpetrated by foreign fighters, making them the deadliest weapon in al Qaeda’s war arsenal. Without them, al Qaeda in Iraq would be critically, perhaps even fatally, weakened.

That is why we now must focus on disrupting this flow of suicide bombers–and that means focusing on Syria, through which up to 80% of the Iraq-bound extremists transit. Indeed, even terrorists from countries that directly border Iraq travel by land via Syria to Iraq, instead of directly from their home countries, because of the permissive environment for terrorism that the Syrian government has fostered. Syria refuses to tighten its visa regime for individuals transiting its territory.

Coalition forces have spent considerable time and energy trying to tighten Syria’s land border with Iraq against terrorist infiltration. But given the length and topography of that border, the success of these efforts is likely to remain uneven at best, particularly without the support of the Damascus regime.

Before al Qaeda’s foreign fighters can make their way across the Syrian border into Iraq, however, they must first reach Syria–and the overwhelming majority does so, according to U.S. intelligence estimates, by flying into Damascus International Airport, making the airport the central hub of al Qaeda travel in the Middle East, and the most vulnerable chokepoint in al Qaeda’s war against Iraq and the U.S. in Iraq.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad cannot seriously claim that he is incapable of exercising effective control over the main airport in his capital city. Syria is a police state, with sprawling domestic intelligence and security services. The notion that al Qaeda recruits are slipping into and through the Damascus airport unbeknownst to the local Mukhabarat is totally unbelievable.

This is not the first use of the Damascus airport by terrorists. It has long been the central transit point for Iranian weapons en route to Hezbollah, in violation of United Nations Security Council sanctions, as well as for al Qaeda operatives moving into and out of Lebanon.

Now the Damascus airport is the point of entry into Iraq for most of the suicide bombers who are killing innocent Iraqi citizens and American soldiers, and trying to break America’s will in this war. It is therefore time to demand that the Syrian regime stop playing travel agent for al Qaeda in Iraq.

When Congress reconvenes next month, we should set aside whatever differences divide us on Iraq and send a clear and unambiguous message to the Syrian regime, as we did last month to the Iranian regime, that the transit of al Qaeda suicide bombers through Syria on their way to Iraq is completely unacceptable, and it must stop.

We in the U.S. government should also begin developing a range of options to consider taking against Damascus International, unless the Syrian government takes appropriate action, and soon.

Responsible air carriers should be asked to stop flights into Damascus International, as long as it remains the main terminal of international terror. Despite its use by al Qaeda and Hezbollah terrorists, the airport continues to be serviced by many major non-U.S. carriers, including Alitalia, Air France, and British Airways.

Interrupting the flow of foreign fighters would mean countless fewer suicide bombings in Iraq, and countless fewer innocent people murdered by the barbaric enemy we are fighting there. At a time when the al Qaeda network in Iraq is already under heavy stress thanks to American and Iraqi military operations, closing off the supply line through which al Qaeda in Iraq is armed with its most deadly weapons–suicide bombers–would be devastating to the terrorists’ cause.

Simply put, for the U.S. and our Iraqi allies, defeating al Qaeda in Iraq means locking shut Syria’s “Open Door” policy to terrorists. It is past time for Syria to do so.
WSJ

Particularly interesting in this context:

Gareth Porter: Cheney, Lieberman and Iran War Conspiracy

Posted August 16, 2007

I was never one of those who believed the Bush administration was getting ready to attack Iran in 2006 or early 2007. But it is now clear that at least Vice President Dick Cheney is conspiring to push through a specific plan for war with Iran. And Senator Joe Lieberman is an active part of that conspiracy.

The revelation of the Cheney attack proposal throws a new light on a series of developments relating to Iraq since early June. The first event that takes on new meaning is Joe Lieberman’s public call on June 11 for exactly the same kind of attack on the alleged training bases in Iran as Cheney was advocating inside the administration.

Lieberman, appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation, said, “I think we’ve got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq. And to me that would include a strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers.”

Was that just a coincidence? Not a chance, says one Washington insider who is very familiar with Lieberman and the inner workings of the whole neoconservative demi-monde. “Lieberman is not the kind of guy who goes off on his own to make a proposal like this,” says the observer. “He’s very disciplined. He’s a foot soldier, an integral part of the neoconservative movement.

In other words, Lieberman was acting as a stalking horse for Cheney’s proposal, softening up public opinion for later war propaganda.

To translate the media impact of the Bergner briefing into political support for the Cheney proposal, Senator Lieberman was ready with a press release issued the same day as the briefing which cited it as evidence that Iran was training Shiites in Iran who were killing Americans. Lieberman used the occasion to repeat his call for a U.S. attack on the camps in Iran. Lieberman then introduced an amendment which stated, “The murder of members of the United States Armed Forces by a foreign government or its agents is an intolerable act of hostility against the United States.”

It is not clear whether Bush has explicitly authorized Cheney to prepare the ground for Cheney’s new strategy of provocation. In the spring, Rice succeeded in getting Bush to go along with direct diplomatic contacts with Iran. Cheney then let it be known in Washington right-wing circles that he was concerned that Bush would fail to support the military option against Iran and that he, Cheney, was planning an “end-run strategy” to ensure that it would not prevail. But at a White House meeting of key policymakers on Iran in June, according to an article last month in the Guardian, Bush sided with Cheney in an argument over whether these diplomatic talks should be allowed to continue to January 2009.

Whether the Cheney’s conspiring with Lieberman and the U.S. command is part of an “end-run strategy” or are sanctioned by Bush, Cheney’s ability to manipulate Bush poses the chilling possibility that a hapless president will commit the ultimate blunder of war with Iran.
The Huffington Post

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August 20th, 2007, 6:49 am

 

4. CWW said:

This article was particularly one-sided and consistent with Henry Siegman’s record of publishing such vitriol. Mr. Siegman has written in the past that “Sharon manipulates Washington.” This article more closely resembles that which is written by a partisan rather than a serious scholar

Comparisons of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian to South African apartheid, by using words such as “bantustan,” are generally a good indication that a person holds rabidly anti-Israel views. Certainly such an analogy has no place in serious political discussions.

Most surprising though is Mr. Siegman’s contention that Israel should concede territory within the 1967 borders. I have not read any serious observer suggesting that Israel should concede land beyond the 1967 borders. His is an extreme position. His rationale is that UN Resolution 181 also recognized the rights of the Palestinian Arabs to 45% of the land. However, no state ever recognized an Arab state in Palestine. We may recall that immediately after the resolution passed in November of 1947 the Arab population began to attack the Yishuv en masse and the armies of the Arab countries invaded in May of 1948. After the war, two Arab of the Arab belligerent states, Jordan and Egypt, began their occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip rather than assist in establishing an Arab state. The bottom line is that areas beyond the 1949 armistice lands did in fact end up in Arab hands and the Arabs living in that land did in fact live in Arab states.

I am constantly surprised by suggestions that Israel should more aggressively court Hamas. The Islamic Resistance Movement continues to call for the destruction of Israel and actively works toward that end. Given that negotiations must benefit both partners in discussions how can Israel engage in negotiations with Hamas and grant concessions, and therefore strengthen, such an organization?

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August 20th, 2007, 12:19 pm

 

5. ausamaa said:

CWW said:

“Comparisons of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian to South African apartheid, by using words such as “bantustan,” are generally a good indication that a person holds rabidly anti-Israel views. Certainly such an analogy has no place in serious political discussions.”

Dear CWW, do you really beleive what you have just said in the statement above, or do you just feel like doing your “duty and fair share” of defending the peace-loving entity callled Israel?

If it is the former; we both know that what you said is untrue and nine-tenths of the World Popluation would strongly disagree with you.
If it is the later, and if you are really concerned about the well-being of dear and beloved Israel, then my best suggestion is that you look at the World map, see how small the “real” oppressive entity called Israel is in relation to the Arab world that engulfs it, and then convince your self and your beloved Israelies that the only way to insure their own salvation is to START showing THEIR goodwill to the Arabs and accept that Israel can be ONE of the players in the area; not the Dominant player. Gambling on “outside” hellp against historical local odds would not keep paying off indefinitly. So grap the ball and run towards a meaningful peace while there is still a chance.

Otherwise, every second day, you and the beloved ever peace-seeking Israel, will continue to be “constantly surprised by…” many unpleasant developments.

Actually, doing a bit more serious reading on South African apartheid and how things can snowball that way would be time well invested by you. And many Israelies.

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August 20th, 2007, 7:13 pm

 

6. SimoHurtta said:

CWW how can an article of this kind be one-sided. Would you blame an article about WW2’s concentration camps to be one sided if it would mostly tell about the sufferings of victims and would “forget” to understand the German side. Actually I think you would blame an article understanding the Nazis’ thinking in the mildest as anti-Semitic. Can the articles of some US and Israeli “characters” who write constantly in major newspapers in favour of Israel ever be blamed to be balanced. Actually this “balanced” excuse is used by them who have no real arguments left to defend their own side.

Anti-Israeli views? Is a person who writes critics about Israel really anti-Israeli? Then the US press is full of anti-Iranians, anti-Syrians, anti-Russians, anti-Chinese etc. And naturally the European press is full of anti-Americans and anti-Israelis. There seems to be extremely high “standard” demands in critics against Israel but no standards at all in making propaganda in the media against some Arab countries or Palestinians.

Patrick Syring, the guy who said on tape that a “the only good Arab is a dead Arab, long live the IDF” and “bombing Lebanon back to the stone age where it belongs. Arabs are dogs”, by the way a US carrier diplomat, is defended in US press with “freedom of speech”. Can you CWW imagine what had happened to a US diplomat who had said the best Jew is a dead Jew? Would he been let retire in relative silence? Free “balanced” speech indeed …

It is extremely astonishing how little in USA is covered in media when a carrier diplomat says “the only good Arab is a dead Arab” or when a congressman or priest speaks about nuking Mecca. Compared to space the alleged sayings of Iranian President get. Maybe you CWW think that is “balanced”.

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August 20th, 2007, 8:06 pm

 

7. Sami D said:

WCC wrote:

“This article was particularly one-sided and consistent with Henry Siegman’s record of publishing such vitriol. Mr. Siegman has written in the past that “Sharon manipulates Washington.” This article more closely resembles that which is written by a partisan rather than a serious scholar”

The article is indeed (mostly) one sided; that’s because the conflict is also one-sided. It is not a conflict of two equals fighting. It is rather a conflict between victimizer and victim, strong vs weak. There’s no balance between the power of Israel and that of the Palestinians, nor is there a balance between an ethnic cleanser and the ethnically cleansed (Benny Morris, like Ilan Pappe and Meron Benvenisti, have used the term “ethnic” cleansing, in reference to what Israel did to the Palestinians).

WCC wrote:

“Comparisons of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian to South African apartheid, by using words such as “bantustan,” are generally a good indication that a person holds rabidly anti-Israel views. Certainly such an analogy has no place in serious political discussions.”

Using the word apartheid in reference to Israel is a bit unfair — to apartheid South Africa, as some South African journalists and statesmen have observed. It is not anti-Israel, per se, to compare it to apartheid. Doing so is, more accurately, anti-Israeli policy of apartheid, land theft, ethnic cleansing, suffocating, humiliation, resource theft, colonization, uprooting trees, killing crops.

The arab armies invaded in May 1948? Actually they tried to INTERVENE in the on-going ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which began a couple of months before. Half of the three quarter million refugees became refugees BEFORE Arab intervention. The intervention was also aimed at stopping Israel from expanding beyond its 1947 (UNres 181) borders, which Israel was actively doing. 500+ villages were razed to the ground by Israel, with rapes and massacres, etc. Defense or ethnic cleansing?

WCC wrote:

I am constantly surprised by suggestions that Israel should more aggressively court Hamas. The Islamic Resistance Movement continues to call for the destruction of Israel and actively works toward that end.

Israel supported and aided the rise of Hamas as then an opponent of the secular PLO. Kinda like bin Laden and the mujahideen being aided by the US, only to turn on their master later. That’s Hamas that Israel’s high principals prevent it from negotiating with. Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel? Where’s the surprise when the victim calls for the destruction of his/her tormentor? Or is the elephant really concerned, cowering in fear, because the ant has called for its destruction? Power-wise Israel can wipe all the Palestinians off the map in few minutes, (but that wouldn’t look too good for Israel’s image, that’s why the method of gradual ethnic cleansing, is chosen instead, to follow the recommendation of Chaim Weizman: Dunom by dunom, goat by goat). Hamas can kill a couple of Israelis hear and there, but that’s it. Hamas indeed CALLS for the destruction of Israel. Meanwhile Israel, while not calling for the destruction of Palestine, is DOING exactly that, albeit gradually. So, Hamas provides RHETORIC of destruction; Israel provides ACTION of destruction.

Siegman doesn’t go far enough in addressing basic justice. For peaceful coexistence, Zionism, Israel’s ideology that translates to exclusive rights to the land for Jews at the expense of Palestinians’, must end. Palestinians have the right to live anywhere they choose to on all of historic Palestine, not pre/post-1947/1967. This is the smallest repayment for the colossal wrongs Israel has done them over the past half dozen decades.

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August 21st, 2007, 2:27 am

 

8. why-discuss said:

Israelis under their facade of toughness are still suffering from the victim syndrome of centuries of discrimination in christian Europe, culminating in the holocaust. The trouble is that the agressive attitude of Israel towards its arab neighbours have also alienated them and created hatred where there has not been. Arabs ( christian and moslems) have lived gracefully with Jews in most arab countries before 1948. The violent creation of the state of Israel has triggered growing hatred and distrust towards jews in general. Israelis are now trapped in a geographical area where they are detested and they act aggressively to make themselves accepted by force.
Israeli is psychologically dysfunctionnal. They claim and want to keep feeling they are the victims, in the same time, by their violent acts and ambiguous policies, they want to show they are not. This cannot last but I doubt the new israeli generation staying in Israel, can correct this.

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August 21st, 2007, 3:13 pm

 

9. CWW said:

Sami D:

Regarding the one-sidedness issue, I would have expected someone from the Council on Foreign Relations to take a more reasonable position. His suggestion that Israel should withdraw to borders within its 1967 borders is an extreme position, which is why he appeared to be a partisan rather than a scholar. Also, the use of apartheid is a sloppy analogy that is especially inflammatory.

While Israel, like most democracies, has minorities who face discrimination the fact is that those minorities have full political rights. The crucial difference between apartheid and Israel is that black people in South Africa had no such rights. Blacks were stripped of their citizenship in South Africa. In fact, an Israeli Arab, Salim Jubran, currently serves on the Israeli Supreme Court. Salah Tarif, an Israeli Druze, was a cabinet member in Ariel Sharon’s government during his fourth term as a member of the Knesset. Apartheid was such a different system that it would have been inconceivable for a black person to become a cabinet member or a member of the supreme court. Again, Israeli Arabs certainly face discrimination, yet, they do have rights which are protected by the courts. Israelis do struggle with the tension that results from their country being both democratic and Jewish state, nevertheless, apartheid South Africa was different.

Also, I am not surprisd that HAMAS calls for Israel’s destruction. What I am surprised by is people’s contention that Israel should attempt to negotiate with an entity that wishes to destroy her. This is because negotiations are about give and take and often have the aim of improving the situation of both partners. Negotiations should mean a symbiotic relationship. For Israel to negotiate with HAMAS would be to allow it to strengthen HAMAS. What doesn’t make sense to me is the belief that Israel should engage in talks which benefit HAMAS thereby strengthening an organization, through concessions, which ultimately aims to destroy her.

And in response to your discussion of Palestinian rights I would say that such assertions won’t get us anywhere. The right of return would mean demographic suicide for Israel and so how could we expect Israel to ever recognize such a right? If it also a “right” it would be difficult make any compromises with respect to it. Because to the extent that we are compromising justice has been lost. Many Israelis would have difficulty recognizing that such a right exists at all because of the implications for Israel’s legitimacy. If we can’t expect Israel to recognize the right of return then demanding that right only contributes to the intractability of the conflict.

I wonder how many of the 711,000 who fled during the 1947-1949 are still alive?
________________________________________

Simohurtta:

I didn’t mean to imply that criticism of Israel is a problem. Israelis themselves are very critical of the settlements and what goes on there. B’tselem vigorously makes human rights violations in the occupied territories known to the world.

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August 21st, 2007, 4:30 pm

 

10. Sami D said:

CWW:

Regarding the analogy to S. Africa: Note how your analysis ignored Israel’s occupied Palestinians –the HEART of Israel’s apartheid-like policies– in order to make Israel look better than S. Africa’s apartheid. Can you name one item of the Geneva conventions (many on the level of warcrimes) that Israel has not violated, with the exception of mass extermination? Home demolition, population transfer, mass theft of water, colonization, economic suffocation, starvation, murder, humiliation, daily harassment, imprisonment, collective punishment, surrounding towns by massive wall, dissecting their land by Jews-only highways, dotting their roads with hundreds of checkpoints, holding wounded/urgent care patients/laboring women at checkpoints, dumping their trash/sewers on them, exploiting them for cheap labor, killing their children, using some as human shields, destroying their historical sites, uprooting a million trees (aka, “making the desert bloom”), running death squads.

You say “Israeli-Arabs” have “FULL political rights” (my emphasis); let’s put that to the test. Can these Palestinians with Israeli citizenship (not “Israeli Arabs”) ask their state to abolish the exclusivist state ideology (Zionism) which grants them at best 2nd class citizens to Jews? Can they live where they want to in Israel? Can they have their refugee families in Jordan/Syria reunite with them in Palestine? No is the answer to all. They can’t even marry a non-Israeli Palestinian, unless they leave. They get the short end of state subsidy ONLY because they are non-Jews. If they demonstrate to show objection to some policy they would expect to be shot at and killed. What kind of democratic state incorporates into the government a political party that openly calls for ethnic cleansing of one minority comprising 20% of the population? What democracy reduces one minority’s humanity to “demographic threat”? And if they are Bedouin Arab-Israelis living in this great “democracy”, then they can watch their fields sprayed with poison chemical by “their” state in order to force them off the land. You named one Arab judge. Can you name another after 6 decades of “full-political-rights-for-minorities” Zionism? No? If statistics are to rime with the “full political rights” contention, then you should have around 20% Israeli-Arabs across the board in high positions, like universities, companies, hospitals. It’s not even 1%. And I haven’t even touched on their rights before 1966, the continual land confiscation, the destruction of their villages. Some democracy let alone “full political rights”! Azmi Bishara had a nice response to the “full political rights” argument: “You took the land and gave me freedom of speech. Who’s winning here? Let’s revise the deal. Take your freedom of speech and give me back Palestine. How about that?”

For Zionists, demography trumps basic human rights. The Palestinian mothers’ wombs is the enemy, to use Ben Gurion’s terminology. That’s why Israelis will be serious about peace ONLY when they start dismantling the racist institutions of the state that produce the above abominations.

CWW wrote:

Also, I am not surprisd that HAMAS calls for Israel’s destruction. What I am surprised by is people’s contention that Israel should attempt to negotiate with an entity that wishes to destroy her.

What you missed in my argument is that while Hamas CALLS for the destruction of Israel, Israel IS DESTROYING Palestine. If anyone’s not gonna talk to the other it should be the Palestinians. What you also missed is that Hamas/Palestinian extremism is a product of Israeli policy, directly and indirectly. Directly by supporting these group during the 1980s because they were anti-Arafat; indirectly, by mass-subjugation and dispossession of the Palestinians. The argument that Israel won’t talk to the other party because “he’s a terrorist” or “he calls for destruction of Israel” has been applied to the PLO and to any Palestinian organization leader (who survived Israeli assassination) that doesn’t acquiesce to Israel’s colonization. Every tortured person, not just Hamas, wants his torturer dead. Any surprise here? So now the torturer/robber uses that understandable sentiment to say: “see, the victim doesn’t want peace, and hence I am excused if I continue the torture and rob him”. That’s Israel’s logic: Use the victims’ reaction to his dispossession and torture to dispossess and torture him some more.

CWW wrote:

And in response to your discussion of Palestinian rights I would say that such assertions won’t get us anywhere.

On the contrary: The fact that Israel refuses to recognize the rights of its victims IS what “won’t get us anywhere”.

The right of return would mean demographic suicide for Israel

“demographic suicide”?? And how was Jewish majority established in the first place (the only way really, to create a Jewish majority on land of non-Jewish majority)? Answer: Ethnic cleansing AND denial of refugees the FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT of return (along with massive Jewish immigration into Palestine)!! “My right to be a majority is more important than your fundamental human rights” is the HEART of Zionist thinking, and the heart of why there’s no peace in Palestine.

If Israel wants true peace it must start by admitting the wrong it did Palestinians first in 1948. It must begin reparations. It must allow human rights to trump its gibberish racism of “demographic suicide”.

CWW wrote:

“I wonder how many of the 711,000 who fled during the 1947-1949 are still alive?”

I wonder how many of the Jews that were expelled (“fled” to use your language) by the Romans from Jerusalem 2000 years ago are alive today? Yet they demand the right to return AND the right to have an exclusive majority by FORCE and ethnic cleansing, while denying the right of the natives based only on their religion and mere 60 years of diaspora-refugee life.

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August 22nd, 2007, 4:38 pm

 

11. CWW said:

Sami D:

It’s nice having this exchange with you. Sorry for the delayed response. The last week of my course of the University of Damascus was exhausting.

Sami D wrote:
Regarding the analogy to S. Africa: Note how your analysis ignored Israel’s occupied Palestinians –the HEART of Israel’s apartheid-like policies– in order to make Israel look better than S. Africa’s apartheid.

Regarding my comments about Israel proper and the apartheid comparison. When people say that Israel is an apartheid state they often mean that Israeli society, Israel proper, subjugates its Arab citizens in the same way that the South African government subjugated the indigenous population under apartheid, hence my discussion of Israel proper. Israeli Arabs can vote and have representation; Blacks in South Africa could neither vote nor were they represented in their parliament. That being said, including the Occupied Territories in a comparison is problematic because under apartheid, although South Africa tried, the world didn’t recognize the bantustans as being separate from South Africa. The Occupied Territories within Israel and outside Israel are recognized as legally separate and viewed quite different from Israel proper. The Palestinians of the Occupied Territories do not want to become Israeli and participate in the political system. The logical consequence of equality between Palestinians and Israelis in the territories would mean the ability of Israelis to live wherever they so desired on either side of the Green Line; Palestinians of the West Bank or Gaza certainly don’t hope for such a situation. Palestinians rejoiced when Israelis left the Gaza Strip and when a small number of small settlement in the West Bank were evacuated. Certainly, the settlements have a racial component which reminds us of the racial separation imposed by apartheid yet Israel doesn’t become an apartheid state simply because it has attempted to expand into territories acquired through war.

Sami D wrote:
You say “Israeli-Arabs” have “FULL political rights” (my emphasis); Can these Palestinians with Israeli citizenship (not “Israeli Arabs”) ask their state to abolish the exclusivist state ideology (Zionism) which grants them at best 2nd class citizens to Jews? …

My use of the term “full political rights” was meant to point out that Israeli Arabs can participate in the political system; so much so Arab-Israelis have held high positions within the Israeli polity. Under apartheid, participation in the South African polity by an indigenous African would have been unheard of. I used the examples of Salim Jubran, the Israeli Arab member of the Supreme Court and four term Labor Party member of the Knesset, and Salah Tarif, a Druze member of Sharon’s cabinet, to illustrate the point. Under Apartheid, indigenous Africans would never such leading positions in the South African polity.

You also questioned whether Israeli-Arabs are actually Israelis and not simply Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. Well, of course neither of us can speak definitively about all Israeli-Arabs, however, there are a few notable examples of patriotic Israeli-Arabs who identify as Israeli. Miss Israel of 1999, Rana Raslan is an Israeli Arab. Miss Raslan is quoted as saying, “I am totally Israeli and I don’t think about whether I am an Arab or a Jew. We must prove to the world that we can live here in coexistence.” (http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/1999/421/re2.htm) Abdel Rahman Zuabi, the first Israeli-Arab in Israel’s Supreme Court, self-identifies as a “proud Israeli.” Ayoob Kara is an Israeli-Arab, also a Druze, who was a member of Knesset in Ariel Sharon’s government. Prior to the pullout from Gaza he said, “the withdrawal is going to be terrible for Israeli security. Hamas is going to become dominant as soon as Israel leaves Gaza, and they will use the land to stage more attacks against Israel,” given his opposition to the pullout I would be inclined to think that he identifies as Israeli as well.
(http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=43770)

Sami D wrote:
Can you name one item of the Geneva conventions (many on the level of warcrimes) that Israel has not violated, with the exception of mass extermination? Home demolition, population transfer, mass theft of water, colonization, economic suffocation, starvation, murder, humiliation, daily harassment, imprisonment, collective punishment, surrounding towns by massive wall, dissecting their land by Jews-only highways, dotting their roads with hundreds of checkpoints, holding wounded/urgent care patients/laboring women at checkpoints, dumping their trash/sewers on them, exploiting them for cheap labor, killing their children, using some as human shields, destroying their historical sites, uprooting a million trees (aka, “making the desert bloom”), running death squads.

Israel certainly has violated the laws of war. Yet violating the laws of war doesn’t not make Israel an apartheid state. Did Britain become an apartheid state when it fire bombed Dresden?

Regarding political parties who take issue with Israel being a Jewish state: the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that Balad, Azmi Bishara’s party, which does contest the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, may take part in elections. The court also overruled the Election Committee’s decision to ban the United List for Peace after it called for Israel to be a state of all of its citizens. So, while the technically the law state’s that a party may not deny the Jewish and democratic nature of the state, this law is currently only applied to a far right Israeli party, Kach. Of course, Kach was banned because it violated electoral codes which prohibit parties from inciting racism. In this context, Israel does not seem very “exclusivist.” Rather, in banning a party which fans the flames of racism and allowing, through court rulings, parties which oppose Israel’s Jewish character Israel is striving to remain inclusive while preserving its Jewish character, it raison d’etre

Sami D:
Can they live where they want to in Israel?

I completely agree that the fact that Israel has towns in which Israeli Arabs are routinely denied residency is a very real form of discrimination. Without diminishing the problem, I must say I was quite amazed by how mixed Haifa was. Again, that alone doesn’t make it an apartheid state.

Sami D wrote:
They can’t even marry a non-Israeli Palestinian, unless they leave.

Israeli Jews also can’t marry non-Jews in Israel. There are no civil marriages in Israel. Religious leaders of each community within Israel preside over such family laws so even a Jew who isn’t recognized as being hallachikally Jewish has to go to Cyprus.

Sami D wrote:
Can they have their refugee families in Jordan/Syria reunite with them in Palestine?

Of course not! We can’t expect family reunification to be the aim of every countries’ immigration system. Israeli-Arabs can leave and come back, but I don’t think it is a failing of Israel that they do not allow their citizens to bring family members in from other countries.

Sami D wrote:
If they demonstrate to show objection to some policy they would expect to be shot at and killed.

Israeli Arabs demonstrated, quite vociferously I might add, during the last summer’s war, I find it hard to imagine that they came out expecting to be shot and killed.

Sami D wrote:
What kind of democratic state incorporates into the government a political party that openly calls for ethnic cleansing of one minority comprising 20% of the population?

Your use of the “term ethnic cleansing” is an unfortunate oversimplification of the situation. While I agree with your opinion regarding the issue, we are talking about a community whose majority, most likely, wishes to live in Israel, but is opposed to its character as a Jewish state and supports the existence of Palestinian state. If there is Palestinian state, Israel would be home to a group of people who supports the of a Palestinian State, and not a Jewish state, but choses to live in the latter. We should also keep in mind, as mentioned earlier, that Israel did ban Kach from participating in politics for inciting racism.

Sami D:
You named one Arab judge. Can you name another after 6 decades of “full-political-rights-for-minorities” Zionism?

Yes. As mentioned above, Mr. Abdel Rahman Zuabi was the first Arab-Israeli on Israeli Supreme Court. He has described himself as a “proud Israeli.”

Sami D wrote:
If statistics are to rime with the “full political rights” contention, then you should have around 20% Israeli-Arabs across the board in high positions, like universities, companies, hospitals. It’s not even 1%.

In 2002, Israeli-Arabs comprised %6.1 percent of all civil servants in Israel. (http://www.sikkuy.org.il/2003/english03/pdf/civilEn03.pdf) . Compared to %20 of the total pop. %6.1 is low, but it is 6x your %1. To be fair, in addition to discrimination other factors are likely to play a part in this discrepancy; the discrepancy might be accounted for by the fact that Israel-Arab women participate in the labor force at a far lower rate than the society as a whole, they are generally less well educated, a number of Israeli-Arabs remain Bedouin and so do not participate in the exchange economy, and many Israeli Arabs may oppose the state and so may chose not to work in the government. In the link above you will see that the number of Israeli-Arabs in the civil service has been steadily rising since 1992, so it would appear that figure might be around 8% by now.

Sami D said:
What you missed in my argument is that while Hamas CALLS for the destruction of Israel, Israel IS DESTROYING Palestine.

Okay. But my post was in response to the original article in which author was criticed Israel for not moving forward. My point was to show that her logic of having no one to negotiate with, when the other side is Hamas, seems rational given Hamas’ agenda. I must say though that it is possible to destroy and/or harm the institutions of a state. “Palestine” isn’t a state. So, it is an odd comparison you are making. I agree that Israel routinely launches violent strikes against targets in the Occupied Palestinian territories. It is interesting that in recent history the area has been occupied by the Egyptians, Jordanians, and Israelis, and yet only through a process, Oslo, with the Israelis have we begun to see the first institutions which appear to be the beginnings of a state.

Sami D wrote
What you also missed is that Hamas/Palestinian extremism is a product of Israeli policy, directly and indirectly. Directly by supporting these group during the 1980s because they were anti-Arafat; indirectly, by mass-subjugation and dispossession of the Palestinians.

I completely agree that Israel made a terrible mistake in its early support for HAMAS and is now experiencing a bit of blowback. About your second point, I think it is important to keep in mind the humanity of one’s adversary during war time and consequently to abide by the laws of war. The obligation to abide by the laws of war applies to both parties to a conflict, regardless as to whether each specific side sees itself as the victim. So, while I agree that when a Palestinian boards a bus and chooses to blow himself to bits along with a couple dozen men, women and children, who are civilians he is seeking to redress grievances, I cannot under circumstances justify that. The intentional killing of civilians is wrong, absolutely.

Sami D wrote:
“demographic suicide”?? And how was Jewish majority established in the first place (the only way really, to create a Jewish majority on land of non-Jewish majority)? Answer: Ethnic cleansing AND denial of refugees the FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT of return (along with massive Jewish immigration into Palestine)!! “My right to be a majority is more important than your fundamental human rights” is the HEART of Zionist thinking, and the heart of why there’s no peace in Palestine.

If Israel wants true peace it must start by admitting the wrong it did Palestinians first in 1948. It must begin reparations. It must allow human rights to trump its gibberish racism of “demographic suicide”.

CWW wrote:

“I wonder how many of the 711,000 who fled during the 1947-1949 are still alive?”

I wonder how many of the Jews that were expelled (“fled” to use your language) by the Romans from Jerusalem 2000 years ago are alive today? Yet they demand the right to return AND the right to have an exclusive majority by FORCE and ethnic cleansing, while denying the right of the natives based only on their religion and mere 60 years of diaspora-refugee life.

According Benny Morris most of the Arabs left during the war for a combination of reasons. A small minority were expelled. The overwhelming majority, left in fear after the leaders of their community left. In Haifa, the Arab leaders ordered the Arab residents to leave immediately, even though the leaders of the Haganah were encouraging them to stay.

Israelis have the right to return under a secular law of return passed by the Knesset. This is quite different from referring to international law. Some readings of international law call for refugees to have return to their former homes. My question related to the fact that so many of those individuals who call themselves “refugees” actually grew up in Jordan, Syrian, Lebanon, etc. I fail to see how they can claim to have a right to return as refugees to a land where they have never been. Israelis have this right according to the law of the state of Israel, the don’t demand it as a result of refugee status.

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September 8th, 2007, 10:44 pm

 

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