“Why Doesn’t Washington Give Syrian Internet Users a Thumbs Up Too?” by Laura Pitel

Why Doesn’t Washington Give Syrian Internet Users a Thumbs Up Too?

Laura Pitel, a reporter at The Times of London
Exclusive for
Syria Comment
March 18, 2010

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What’s going on at the US Treasury? Last week it announced that it would be easing sanctions that limit the export of online communication tools to Iran, Cuba and Sudan.

Great news, you might think. But to those who have been following recent developments in this field, the list was missing two big names: North Korea and Syria.

While the wider debate around the value of sanctions has been going on for decades, discussion about their relevance (and viability) in the field of information technology picked up pace earlier this year.

It had long been the case that, under legislation designed to punish hostile regimes, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) banned American companies from providing software and services to anyone in Iran, Syria, Cuba, Sudan and North Korea. This included operating systems, internet browsers and messaging services to embargoed countries’ citizens.

Google, Microsoft and Cisco were among the technology firms affected by the OFAC restrictions, which covered downloadable products such as Google Chrome and Google Earth. Web-based services, such as Gmail and Google, were still available in embargoed countries.

In January, Sourceforge, a website offering “open-source” software developed and shared by internet users across the world, reluctantly became the latest company to bar access to people living under the five blacklisted regimes after coming under increasing commercial pressure to comply with sanctions.The ban, which was rolled out from January 16, came just days before Hillary Clinton gave a high-profile speech on the importance to the US government of a global internet “where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas.” The timing of Sourceforge’s announcement was no coincidence. The contrast between Clinton’s words and the reality faced by tech companies was seized upon by angry citizens of the embargoed countries as a shining example of US hypocrisy. [See Syria Comment’s article by Idaf on this.]

The irony of criminalising the supply of simple communication tools to Iranian and Syrian internet users, many of whom play an active role in agitating against the regimes being targeted, was not lost on experts in the field of sanctions law.

“If the sanctions were strictly interpreted we would do something that would make the Iranian government very happy,” Clif Burns, a lawyer at Bryan Cave, Washington, DC, and an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Centre, told me. “Providing communications for ordinary Iranians is an irritant to the Iranian government.”

And as Jillian York, project coordinator at the Berkman Centre for Internet Society at Harvard University, pointed out, restrictions on US companies seemed to contradict the Obama regime’s actions during the Iranian elections.”It seems hypocritical of the government to request Twitter to delay maintenance operations for Iranians on the one hand, then prevent those same Iranian dissidents from accessing certain software, including potential anonymity or circumvention tools,” she said.

So, in many ways, the announcement on March 8 that some of the barriers to US technology companies would be eased was unsurprising, given the recent rhetoric. From now on, they can freely offer “internet-based communication services – such as instant messaging, chat and email, and social networking.” Other types of communications software must be considered on a case-by-case basis.

But why, just weeks after Barack Obama nominated the first US ambassador to Damascus in five years, has Syria been left out?

In a story published the day before the Treasury’s official announcement, The New York Times claimed that existing sanctions did not bar the export of internet services to Syria and North Korea. This seems unlikely – all of the biggest technology companies in the United States have been denying products and services to Syrian and North Korean citizens for years.

It is possible that the government decided that benefits of relaxing the rules for Syria would not outweigh the costs? Did it weigh up the potential benefits of access to new, fast-growing markets to American technology companies and the potential fallout on the domestic front? Compared to Iran, Syria’s internet community is small, with a penetration rate of about 17 per cent of the population, as opposed to 32 per cent in Iran.

But the tactics of the Obama administration towards the two countries are also quite different. It is approaching Syria from the top end with the resumption of diplomatic relations and tentative top-level talks. In Iran, there is talk of increasingly aggressive sanctions against the regime, while quietly easing the rules stigmatising the country’s politically active Twitter-users and bloggers.

Seen in this light, the logic behind tightening Iran’s sanctions on the one hand and relaxing them on the other seems a lot less odd. Obama is trying to crack the whip at the top, where regime stakeholders will be hurt, while giving the thumbs-up to opponents of the regime at the grassroots to network and freely communicate.

The reality is that this latest OFAC announcement is little more than that: a message of encouragement. Compared to Ahmadinejad’s widespread programme of surveillance and censorship, a few restrictions on US technology exports are very small fry. As the aftermath of last summer’s disputed elections showed, knowing how to negotiate the online obstacles put in place by the regime is a standard weapon in the arsenal of many young, tech-savvy Iranians. Bypassing the US Treasury restrictions was well within their grasp.

Removing OFAC restriction sends a message from Washington to internet-users in Iran: we’re on your side. But removing them still sends a message to internet-users in Iran: we’re on your side. Syria’s community of online political activists may be tiny compared to Iran’s but they pay a high price for their actions. Do they not deserve a thumbs-up, too?

Given that all other US sanctions against Syria have proved futile, the current technology export rules can do little more than alienate a generation of young, outward-looking citizens that the Obama administration should be trying to impress. If Secretary Clinton truly believes in a world with no online borders, freedom of expression and equal access to information, she can lift these counterproductive barriers to freedom of speech.

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Note: A few weeks after its initial announcement, Sourceforge lifted the blanket ban on users in embargoed countries. It has now delegated responsibility for deciding if a project contravenes export regulations to the individual project administrators instead.

* Syria Comment thanks Laura Pitel for this story.

Comments (156)


Jillian C. York said:

Thank you Laura, for covering this (and Syria Comment for publishing it, of course). I’m curious as to why the mainstream media isn’t on this story; I’ve pitched several pieces and though it could just be me, no one really seems interested in rocking the boat.

I’ve done a bit more research and discovered that the Syrian restrictions are from the Commerce Department and thus separate from the OFAC ones (not sure about North Korea, as I recognize that their own government does far more damage in terms of Internet censorship than mine does). My inclination is that the Commerce Department’s restrictions are likely to be lifted all at once, if at all, and that perhaps the review process delay is related to the posting of the new ambassador.

I’m sure others will chime in with other thoughts.

March 18th, 2010, 5:28 pm

 
 

Yossi said:

Off topic…

Something happened in Hungary. NRG reported (in two separate pieces) about a Syrian individual who was assassinated and then about Israeli intelligence gathering airplanes that reportedly were hovering over Budapest. I have a feeling we’re going to hear more about this story in the near future.

March 18th, 2010, 11:00 pm

 

Yossi said:

Another story which has been kept under wraps but will turn out big soon is the secret detention of Israeli journalist Anat Kam. She’s under houes arrest since January. Read about it here: http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2010/03/18/shin-bet-detains-israeli-reporter-for-leaking-top-secret-memos-on-targeted-assassinations/

March 18th, 2010, 11:04 pm

 
 
 

norman said:

Dear Qunfuz,

Don’t be very optimistic , nothing will change , the Palestinians will not get their rights and Syria will not get the Golan without force and the US can not and will not help , so the Arabs should prepare to take their rights not beg for them ,

March 19th, 2010, 1:59 am

 

Zman said:

2 Scenarios:
1- Israel first policy: Israel will not give up an inch and recognize the Palestinians without a major war. A war like the Iran-Iraq war that bankrupts Israel and exhausts their supporters. Then Israel will be forced to end its occupation of our land and honor the refugees. Military might have never been able to hold to colonized land. It took the Algerians 100 years to get their land back. Israeli Nukes can not help them at all because the coming will be non conventional.

Hopefully I am wrong and things change before the whole Middle East is controlled by the MB fanatics.

2- America first policy: I do sense some changes in the air but I do not think that is enough. There might be a temporary peace agreement (not a just one) but within 50 years it will fall apart.

March 19th, 2010, 3:32 am

 

qunfuz said:

Norman – I don’t expect any dramatic change in the short term. Obama is not going to put any real pressure on Israel. But the key fact is that the US military has made it clear that Israeli and American interests are not identical. If anyone has the clout to turn the tide against the Israel lobby in the US, it’s the military. There will be a gradual realignement and increasing pressure on Israel to accept a real two-state solution. Americans will see Israel blocking American policies. The media will be much less scared of the lobby (this change is already visible). I don’t think there will be a two-state solution. I think it’s already too late. I may be wrong. If I’m not wrong, then apartheid Israel in the future will not have automatic backing from the West. As pressure for a one-state solution based on rights and equality builds, Israel will also face much stronger, better organised resistance in the larger Middle East. So I’m not saying anything’s going to happen tomorrow, and I’m certainly not saying that America is going to rescue the Arabs. What I am saying is that these are interesting times, and that if I were a Zionist I’d be very worried indeed.

March 19th, 2010, 4:39 pm

 

norman said:

Qunfuz ,
I hope that you are right , i still remember the nineties ,

March 19th, 2010, 5:58 pm

 

Shai said:

Qunfuz,

I’m truly puzzled by two things:

1) Why the Palestinians aren’t, declaratively, “giving up” on their dream of a Palestine and, instead, asking to be officially accepted and recognized as citizens of the State of Israel. (The Apartheid or Democratic one…)

and,

2) Why us Israelis don’t realize this is what is about to happen, de facto. And, that the only way to even hope to avert this (ya’ani, to still hope for a two-state solution), is by running as fast as possible to get in line to Ramallah, to beg the Palestinians for this other option.

Historians will judge us, but I will not be surprised if when I’m 70, I’ll be explaining to my grandchildren why Israel was punished for the past 30 years for being an Apartheid State… And why Barghouti, after being released from prison at the age of 80, became President of Israel…

March 19th, 2010, 7:33 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

Now thats a REAL story that has been covered by several websites within the past 24 hours… and its headlined that US Military heads have concluded that…. why ruin it view and hear……

March 19th, 2010, 9:46 pm

 

almasri said:

Notice that so-called ‘peace loving’ Zionists are just the opposite side of the coin as the so-called ‘right wing’ Zionists. They all want the same thing using different tactics.

One can only conclude that if someone is a Zionist then s/he is beyond the point of salvation. S/He automatically becomes what real Zionism intended him or her to become i.e. an embodiment of evil and a clear reflection of an evil racist ideology.

March 19th, 2010, 11:41 pm

 

Husam said:

Almasri:
Yes, Zionism equates every evilness known to mankind, but this, from my experience, doesn’t represent the majority of jews outside Israel. Many younger jews 25-45 that I have met have no clue about the evil nature of Zionism. Hard core Zionist are usually 45-90, actively involved in charity, are filthy rich, and many are not religious. They also give nasty shots to one another unlike an orthodox jew who will never betray his own (a good thing). I can also tell you that many of their children don’t seem to me like they will be involved as much as the parents were in this stew of hatred.

March 20th, 2010, 1:44 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

ISRAEL DID 9/11!

GORDON DUFF: SABROSKY INTERVIEW TIES ISRAEL TO 9/11
March 19, 2010 by Gordon Duff · 17 Comments
ShareDR ALAN SABROSKY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF STUDIES AT THE US ARMY WAR COLLEGE.

“ISRAEL DID IT”
By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

Meet Dr. Alan Sabrosky, a brave man, a USMC Vietnam vet, an American of Jewish religion and ancestry and someone devoted to the security of the United States at any cost.

http://veteranstoday.com/tag/alan-sabrosky/

March 20th, 2010, 2:18 pm

 

almasri said:

Husam,
A Zionist is a thief of land. That’s all s/he is. There is no such thing as hard core and soft core Zionist They both want to steal the land using different tactics.
A good Jew on the other hand is like the one GHAT ALBIRD mentioned in comment 15 -:)

March 20th, 2010, 6:23 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

SC’s Resistance Hotline

Norman whines:

…so the Arabs should prepare to take their rights not beg for them…

Norman,

What “rights” are you referring to? Freedom of speech? Freedom of Assembly? Freedom of Religion? Freedom to Vote?

So when will the Arabs kick out their despotic “leaders”?;)

March 20th, 2010, 10:20 pm

 

Husam said:

ALMASRI: Yes, it is all theft, but I differ on the types.

Guys, I have worked in a predominantly Jewish area whose landlords are 90% Jewish/Zionist. My partner of 12 years is Jewish (my best friend), and I have lots of clients whom are Jewish. I also know many Syrian and Lebanese Jews as well. So, I have first hand experience with every kind. They are individuals just like the rest of us and I have made great relationships with them just like I do with other ethnicities, backgrounds, and race.

The “hard core” Zionist type do exist. You can see it miles away. Their whole demeanour changes and they normally freak out when they learn that I am an Arab, or a Muslim for that matter. Normally they only socialize with heavy hitters like themselves. Further, they are aware of all its agendas, extremely racist, and participate on higher level of planning expansions, organzation and politics, etc…

The “soft core” Zionist are the ones that are all for Israel as a Jewish homeland but without in depth knowlegde of history or affiliation. The “soft core” don’t go on blogs like “AKBAR PALACE” and spread lies. They identify with Zionism only as a tool which gave them Israel…Why, how, at what cost, they don’t know.

This is like Masons with various levels (without the degrees).

March 21st, 2010, 12:14 am

 

almasri said:

HUSAM,
I was not expecting you to respond. My comment was clear. Since you did not understand my intention, then I have to make it clear once again hoping this will end the exchange since I will not respond to further comments.

An Arab who befriends a Zionist of any color becomes like him i.e. like the Zionist. I only added the color qualification because you still insist on it. In reality, they are one and the same. Their objective is to steal a land that belongs to the Palestinians which includes ALL of Palestine. -:)

March 21st, 2010, 12:24 am

 

Husam said:

Almasri:

Ok so you will not respond, that ultimately is your choice. But that is like saying you have the last word regardless.

I never said that I befriended Zionist, I said I befriended Jews. Do you have a problem with that? I think if you read any of my comments, you would have realized that I have a problem with Zionism of any kind. I was just responding and bringing to your attention that some are more active and some are passive.

Your intention was clear, they all stole land and continue to do so. Granted. But that is a very narrow statement of their agendas, their reach, and their criminalities which go far beyond just Palestinian land grab. That is what we have demonstrate and give details and proofs of.

Many non middle-easterners don’t give 2 cents about some problem in places that can’t point to on a map thousands of miles away. If we can “show” them that Zionism is actively destroying their own lives then we have accomplished something.

Cheers 🙂

March 21st, 2010, 12:58 am

 

norman said:

A P ,
You are the reason that there is antisemitism , god saves the Jews of your kind who know not what they are doing ,

March 21st, 2010, 1:53 am

 

Shai said:

Husam,

“They identify with Zionism only as a tool which gave them Israel…Why, how, at what cost, they don’t know.”

This is a very important statement, and almost encompasses everything that is wrong with blind pro-Israelis. How can anyone pretend to be open-minded and educated, and yet automatically reject any anti-Zionist view? Does anti-Zionism represent anti-Semitism? I’d venture to say most of the time it doesn’t. So there is something there, that we as Jews and Israelis (Zionists) must be ready to listen to. If our intention is to better understand our surrounding, and ourselves.

I don’t find weakness (or “self-hatred”) in being able to listen to anti-Zionists. In fact, I would dare say there are many Zionist anti-Zionists! (There’s a quote for you…) By carefully listening, learning, and eventually empathizing, an Israeli or a pro-Israeli can and should find much wrong with Zionism. That does not delegitimize me, it doesn’t make me nonhuman – the opposite – it finally makes me begin to feel a true part of this region our ancient fathers once shared.

To me, what is important is not whether any form of Zionism can ever be accepted by the Arabs, but rather if both peoples can one day forgive each other for the crimes and hatred that have kept us away from adopting and exercising the most basic form of humanism – Peace.

March 21st, 2010, 9:12 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

“Hard Core” Zionists Exposed by Husam

Husam said:

The “hard core” Zionist type do exist. You can see it miles away. Normally they only socialize with heavy hitters like themselves. Further, they are aware of all its agendas, extremely racist, and participate on higher level of planning expansions, organzation and politics, etc…

Husam,

Are you saying “hard core” Zionists “only socialize” with other “hard core” Zionists? How do you see them “miles away”? Are they visually different? Also, please define “hard core” Zionist. Is it just their participation on blogs? How do you know “hard core” Zionists are “racist”? Have the “hard core” Zionists you’ve met told you they are for kicking out 20% of the Israeli Arab population and/or for taking away their equal rights under the current Israeli laws?

The “soft core” Zionist are the ones that are all for Israel as a Jewish homeland but without in depth knowlegde of history or affiliation.

Husam,

So basically you’re saying a “soft core” Zionist is a Zionist who isn’t familiar with or is ignorant of the issues regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict?

The “soft core” don’t go on blogs like “AKBAR PALACE” and spread lies. They identify with Zionism only as a tool which gave them Israel…Why, how, at what cost, they don’t know.

Tell us about “hard core” and “soft core” Islamic fundamentalists. What are the differences? Do “soft core” Islamists avoid “blogs like ‘AKBAR PALACE’? Do “soft core” Islamists recognize Israel’s existence just like the UN? DO “hard core” Islamist post on blogs like SC?

This is like Masons with various levels (without the degrees).

How so? Aren’t there muslim organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood?

March 21st, 2010, 2:29 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai vs. Shai

In fact, I would dare say there are many Zionist anti-Zionists!

Shai,

Is there medication available for this?

March 21st, 2010, 2:33 pm

 

almasri said:

I hope that Syriacomment readers, particularly the Arabs, were able to tune in last night to MBC in order to watch the Turkish documentary صرخة حجر.

http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/03/21/103655.html

After watching the series an Arab with an atom of honor will succeed in dispelling any notion from his mind that a Zionist can be anything but evil and that zionism is the evil enemy of not Arabs only but of all humanity.

If you missed this broadcast do not miss the upcoming ones. See link above for info.

March 21st, 2010, 4:15 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

I certainly didn’t expect you to understand… I was not mistaken.

March 21st, 2010, 6:25 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Hi Shai,

Sorry I don’ t understand why a Zionist such as yourself is anti-Zionist. I’m sure the anti-zionist community here on Syria Comment is appreciative of your self-rejecting outlook with regard to your homeland.

I’m sure thry would be even happier if you packed your Jewish ass and left.

In anycase, I am glad that we’re both “evil Zionists” as defined by al Masri. That much we have in common.;)

March 21st, 2010, 7:40 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

One would think that after some 60 odd years the Quartet would tell Israel once and for all to lay aside, its unrealistic and illegal vision of a Greater Israel.

Its definitely time to stop illegal annexations, and definitely time to stop settlement expansion.

Get the h#ll out of all lands allocated for a Palestenian state by the United Nations, stop overflying Lebanese territory and undertake direct talks for removing Israeli military from the Golan.

March 21st, 2010, 8:59 pm

 
 

norman said:

The more the Israeli lobby show it’s control over the US the more antisemitism will spread ,
the most important development , as i see it, is the move to consider AIPAC an agent to a foreign nation , that might deny them the chance to donate to elections in the US and therefore their power to influence elections will diminish ,

March 21st, 2010, 11:47 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

The concluding paragraph of a Fareed Zakaria article in the latest Newsweek:

“Meanwhile, the central problem persists: Israel rules more than 3 million Palestinians who will never become citizens of Israel and yet do not have their own state. As they multiply, Israel’s status as a democracy becomes more and more complex; the country looks more and more like an island of rich Israelis set in a sea of Palestinian serfs.”

Calling the Palestenians serfs is somewhat demeaning. But then Fareed’s wife is a dual citizen of the US and Israel.

March 22nd, 2010, 12:31 am

 

norman said:

Ghat ,
He is making the case for a Palestinians state as soon as possible so Israel does not become south Africa ,

he is one of the most balanced on TV and he usually asks the difficult questions on GPS on CNN ,

March 22nd, 2010, 1:06 am

 

Yossi said:

Noram @30, true and wise words. This unelected AIPAC can cause a lot of damage to American Jews.

But then, Zionist organizations never stopped at anything in their hyperactivity towards their single-tracked goals. Not when they didn’t lift a finger to save European Jews in the Holocaust, nor when they soured Arab-Jewish relationships throughout the Middle East and precipitated the destruction of the communities of the Arab Jews and certainly not when it came to cleansing Palestine of Palestinians.

Organizations like J Street are the only choice in containing AIPAC and sending a clear message that they don’t have a monopoly over representation of Jews in America.

AIPAC is the biggest enemy of the Jews, both in America and in Israel.

March 22nd, 2010, 2:23 am

 

almasri said:

On the other hand, despite his middle name, Obama does not qualify for friendship with Iran:

http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/0FACCD81-DFBF-44FE-B4AC-FB6F1178C879.htm

March 22nd, 2010, 3:03 am

 

almasri said:

GHAT,
The video which you linked in 12 has been removed. I was able to watch it when you first posted it. It is now gone almost like an MIA. I wonder if posting it on SC has anything to do with it.
Did anyone download it?

March 22nd, 2010, 3:24 am

 

Averroes said:

Yossi @ 30,

I could not agree more with you. I shake your hand, and would welcome you anytime to my home in Canada or in Syria.

March 22nd, 2010, 3:28 am

 

Yossi said:

Averroes the wise,

Handshake returned! I know you mean it, taking in people in need has always been a great source of pride for Syria. I appreciate that but I still hope to make it to Syria with an Israeli passport for business or tourism purposes sometime in the near future and of course I wish I could host you in my hometown of Haifa.

March 22nd, 2010, 4:10 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Yossi @ 33
That was a bigger indictment of AIPAC than I can ever offer.
Personally I like J-street and I wish them all the success in making sure that our relationship with Israel is based on the good values we share, not on the bad ones. I agree that organizations like J-street are for now the only answer. I do, however, prefer an organization that would unify Arab and Jews in the US. Such an organization would be essential as the reality on the ground is making the two states solution become more and more a myth. Any ideas on that?

I have a very dear friend in Haifa and I am sure that the (many) of us would enjoy some Araq in one of Haifa’s legendary hall in the wall restaurants, and we may even want to get in the car (after we sober-up) and head north for a breakfast in Aleppo.The fava bean with Tahini breakfast in Aleppo is incredible.

AVERROES, want to join

March 22nd, 2010, 9:38 am

 

Averroes said:

Yossi, OTW,

I reiterate my belief that a One State solution is the only viable solution on the long run. One state for all its citizens, Arab, Jew, Druze, and where there are no Jew-Only roads and cities. If we reach that, I don’t care what the name it puts on the passport.

However, with the way things are moving, I’m afraid I don’t see it happening naturally. Bibi et al will stop at nothing to promote their vision of the solution, and that includes war, war, and more war. He’s off to Washington to ask for bunker-busters and to declare that more housing on Arab land will continue.

J-Street promotes a Two-State solution, which I don’t think will solve the conflict. However, J-Street is a step in the right direction.

March 22nd, 2010, 11:04 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Syria Comment’s Second Jewish Anti-Zionist

This unelected AIPAC can cause a lot of damage to American Jews.

Yossi,

Exactly what “damage to American Jews” has AIPAC caused? Try to be as specific as possible.

But then, Zionist organizations never stopped at anything in their hyperactivity towards their single-tracked goals.

Yossi,

Besides supporting Israel, “Zionist organizations” also participate with organizations that investigate hate organizations like the ADL, Simon Weisenthal, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), as well as pro-Israel Christian organizations.

Because Americans tend to be much more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian, I can only conclude that “Zionist Organizations” are doing somethng right.

Not when they didn’t lift a finger to save European Jews in the Holocaust…

Gee, all I hear on this forum is that Jewish/Zionist organizations are “too powerful”. Now Yossi is upset because we were too weak during the 1930s and 40s. But that’s the truth. Everyone knows that. Here’s a desenting opinion that I don’t agree with. All I can say is that it was a great shame that Israel didn’t exist before WW2.

http://www.savingthejews.com/

…nor when they soured Arab-Jewish relationships throughout the Middle East and precipitated the destruction of the communities of the Arab Jews and certainly not when it came to cleansing Palestine of Palestinians.

Yossi,

How did “Zionist organizations” “precipitate the destruction of the communities of the Arab Jews”?

I think it’s plain as day that the creation of Israel and Arab intolerance is what precipitated it.

Organizations like J Street are the only choice in containing AIPAC and sending a clear message that they don’t have a monopoly over representation of Jews in America.

Of course there’s no “monopoly”. J-Street’s success will be a function of how close they are to the political agenda of those who are pro-Israel. Right now (and for the forseeable future), they’ll be on the periphery.

AIPAC is the biggest enemy of the Jews, both in America and in Israel.

No. Leftists and Islamic Fundamentalists are.

March 22nd, 2010, 11:45 am

 

Mr.President said:

the two-states solution for the Middle East conflict is alive and kicking according to the grand plans of Europe, US, and many Israeli Zionists. the plan is called A Palestinian state called Gaza. the Palestinians, from the West Bank and Palestinian refuge camps, would be be encouraged to move to it using many tools. These tools include: threats, financial incentives, forced transfers, wars, Financial/protection/seat gifts to Fateh/Hamas/arab/kurdish/islamist… leaders. Basically it is a repeat of the 1940’s plan to transfer the Palestinians from their homes in historical Palestine to a place called the West Bank. In 1940’s it was an ugly but a successful transfer that was fully supported by Europe and the USA. We are seeing phase II of the grand plan. Any thoughts on phase III 50 years from now?

March 22nd, 2010, 11:45 am

 

norman said:

yossi,
Great words , I can not invite you to my home in Syria as i don’t have one any more at least open but you are welcomed to my home in the US ,

Averreos, OTW , i agree with you , but i think two states is important to the Jewish psyche, They need a refuge in the time of need , they don’t trust anybody,

March 22nd, 2010, 11:52 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Enemy of the Jews (continued)

For those interested, here’s a schedule of events from the AIPAC (“the biggest enemy of the Jews”) conference.

http://www.aipac.org/PC2010/schedule.asp

March 22nd, 2010, 1:25 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

A website* suggested that AIPAC will inform the USA that:-

Israel Expands Settlements To Washington D.C.

In a bold move that shocked Wall Street, Main Street and J Street, Israel expanded its settler housing to Washington D.C.

President Obama and his family were ordered to vacate the White House so that it would be available to Israeli officials when they visit the occupied territories in the Senate and the House.

Speaker Pelosi expressed surprise when told that Netanyahu had asked for her congressional leadership position in another bold move that showed Israel practicing its political chutzpah as never before.

“I thought he would ask for the presidency and am flattered and of course only too willing to accede to any demands made by our most important friends in the world, the Israelis,” said Pelosi.

The ADL accused her of practicing thinly veiled anti-Semitism by only mentioning the world instead of the universe.

* Its not the same website that claaimed the Mossad did 9/11

March 22nd, 2010, 1:46 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear AVERROES
I fully agree with you regarding the One state solution being the only fair solution. Needless to say, Israel is implementing an apartheid form of such solution, by rapidly converting much of the west bank into settlements, while at the same time making Arab areas that could not be swallowed whole into “Palestinian reservations”. Interestingly enough, Netanyahu’s economic peace plan in the west bank, which is touted by Israeli propaganda seems to be nothing more than a charade through which the Arabs and the West are financing the occupation of the west bank on behalf of Israel, as aptly indicated by Hellen Cobban’s summary of Yazid Sayegh’s lecture . Especially the section on the budget in Gaza and the WB.

As of June 8, 1967, preempting a viable two state solution has been the policy of Israel’s successive governments and of their backers in the us. In 7 years, we will commemorate 50 years of one of the most criminal and murderous occupations in our modern history. But by then it seems that the world would have recognized the in-feasibility of the two states solution as Israel’s additional settlements, protected by IDF, and overlooked (at best) by the wider Israeli society, would have converted much of historical Palestine into a full fledged apartheid. The struggle will be a lot different then than it is now as the Israel First camp in the US will be advocating the true goal of the fanatics, which is deportation and ethnic cleansing and will continue to shamelessly working very hard to hide the truth and protect the cleansers. J-street will suffer some fragmentation at that point in time because some of its current membership advocate two states solution primarily to retain Israel as a Jewish state, which they see being sacrificed at the settlers altar. But out of that may come a different J-street, whose membership can not sell-out their commitment to human rights and will recognize the stench of apartheid and fight against it. It is that group, along with Arabs in the US who should, in my opinion start the work right now. But this requires that you and me and all of us, fight for the rights of any one in the region on principle, which includes freedom of speech and association in Syria, and equal housing, political rights, and opportunity in Israel (or whatever that state will be called). The two sides must work from universal principles, which preclude any favoritism for ones religious and/or national background and if they do, the will be a single force with which Israel Firsters mus reckon. A force that can appeal to the American sense of fairness, and put Israel Firsters in the congress and Senate on the hot seat same as we did for those protecting Apartheid. Needless to say that for years, AIPAC protected apartheid because of the “special” military and economic relationships between that abhorrent system and the state of Israel. ADL was sharing its enemy list in the US, gathered illegally, with the South African intelligence. Need I say more.

March 22nd, 2010, 3:24 pm

 

Shai said:

Dear OTW, Yossi, Averroes, Norman,

I can’t help but feel real jealousy seeing you guys planning visits… may I join as well? 🙂

The way Israel is moving right now, we are creating a de facto one-state solution, in Apartheid version. The more settlements we build, the less feasible a Palestinian state becomes, leaving only the one-state as a possibility. It is not my place to “advise” the Palestinians, but long ago I’ve said that they should declare the end of their “dream of Palestine”, and demand to have Israeli citizenship. Believe me, you wouldn’t find an extremist under a rock in Israel – they’d all line up en route to Ramallah, to beg for two-states. That’s all the Palestinians have to do…

The Jewish-Israelis need a two-state solution, because they are still fearful of an Israel without Jewish majority. I don’t want to get into a discussion of the basis for this fear (racism, Holocaust, etc.), but the only reason Ariel Sharon “suddenly” believed in a state for the Palestinians (and was later elected to deliver this platform exactly), is because he realized Israel would soon lose its Jewish-majority.

Therefore Norman is right – we need it for psychological reasons. It will take a generation or two of Peace, of trust and new blood leading our nations, before Jews feel unthreatened by Arabs, and vice-versa.

OTW,

What a fantastic idea! An AIPAC that stands for: “ARAB-ISRAELI POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE”! Absolutely. That’s what we need in America.

March 22nd, 2010, 3:42 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Leftist Dogma Made Simple

Steve Plaut’s, “Grand Marching Song of the Anti-Zionist Left”:

We believe in enlightened government and progress.

And that is why we support Arab fascism.

We believe in peace.

And that is why we support all military aggression against Israel.

We believe in democracy.

And that is why we believe that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that must be destroyed.

We believe in freedom.

And that is why we support Syria and Iran, and of course the Hamas.

We believe in the freedom of speech and of the press.

And that is why we support the Palestinian Authority.

We believe in self-determination and self-definition for all.

But not for Jews.

We oppose violence.

And that is why we support Palestinian terror.

We believe in human dignity.

And that is why we applaud when Arabs blow up Jewish women and children.

We believe in human rights.

And for this reason we support Arab atrocities.

We believe in fraternity and the brotherhood of nations.

Which is why Israel must be de-Zionized and converted into a clone of Rwanda.

We believe in voting.

Which is why we applaud Libya, Sudan, Iran, and Syria and demand that Israel be destroyed.

We believe in freedom of movement.

Except for Jews.

We favor equality.

As in Syria, Iran and Libya.

We favor minority rights.

But not for Jews, Kurds, Southern Sudanese, Copts or any other politically incorrect groups.

We believe in freedom.

But do not mind that slavery still exists in Sudan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere among Arabs.

We believe in a free press.

And so we support censorship by the PLO and Hamas.

We believe in freedom to practice religion.

But only for Moslems.

We believe in affirmative action preferences for those who suffered from past discrimination.

But not for Jews.

We believe in progress and enlightenment.

And so we support Jihad and pogroms.

We believe in egalitarianism.

And so we support demands for ethnic cleansing of the Middle East to drive out the Jews.

We love children and living things.

And this is why we applaud suicide bombers.

We hate it when people blame the victims.

Which is why all terrorism is the Jews’ fault.

We believe in education.

As long as we never have to read any books.

We believe in multiculturalism.

As long as no one ever has to learn respect for the Jews or for the West or for Amerika.

We believe in progress.

And so we celebrate barbarism and savagery.

We believe in progress.

As long as Arab countries never are asked to progress beyond the 12th century.

We believe in democracy.

But not for Arabs.

We believe in prosperity.

And that is why we support Arab feudalism and kleptocracy.

We believe in equal citizenship.

Just as long as Israel never conscripts its Arabs.

We believe in freedom of expression.

Which is why people who do not agree with us must be censored.

We believe the human rights of Arabs must be protected.

But not in Arab countries.

We are upset by illiteracy.

And that is why we practice it.

We believe in women’s equality,

But not among Arabs.

We oppose torture,

Except when it is by the Palestinian Authority or similar progressive Arab force.

http://stevenplaut.blogspot.com/

March 22nd, 2010, 4:11 pm

 

Yossi said:

Akbar @40,

Exactly what “damage to American Jews” has AIPAC caused? Try to be as specific as possible.

Currently, the concrete damage that it is causing is in undermining prospects for peace in Israel/Palestine by sabotaging the administration’s effort to create the minimum conditions necessary for faithful negotiations between the sides.

Longer term, AIPAC is demonstrating to whomever needs proof that there exists a Jewish elite which is more loyal to Israel than the US which is very willing to use its power even to the point where it humiliates and frustrates the administration and blackmails members of the Congress. When a group which represents such a small minority of Americans overuses its power, there could be a backlash (let’s ot forget that members of AIPAC were implicated in espionage cases, for example). Naturally this will happen only when the US will come under stress and when the clash of interests will be more pronounced.

Besides supporting Israel, “Zionist organizations” also participate with organizations that investigate hate organizations like the ADL, Simon Weisenthal, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), as well as pro-Israel Christian organizations.
Because Americans tend to be much more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian, I can only conclude that “Zionist Organizations” are doing somethng right.

Israel is top dog, and Americans love winners. This is all you need to do on a normal day to get Americans to love you: declare loyalty and be strong. Israel has reinstated the Jews as the “Chosen People”, and if Israel is the chosen son then Americans to some degree feel that they are The Hand of God—they are the ones that have chosen Israel to be such a special country. So it’s a relationship that reserves special mythic roles to both sides. American and Israeli exceptionalism work very well together.

However, Americans are also practical people, and they will know how to amend the way they look at Israel if it stopped winning. We will go from the prodigal son to the sacrificial lamb.
Of course, it is also much easier to pick sides in the Middle East when the Arab side wears towels on their heads and chants death to America, or at least can be shown on TV to do so.


Not when they didn’t lift a finger to save European Jews in the Holocaust…

Gee, all I hear on this forum is that Jewish/Zionist organizations are “too powerful”. Now Yossi is upset because we were too weak during the 1930s and 40s. But that’s the truth. Everyone knows that. Here’s a desenting opinion that I don’t agree with. All I can say is that it was a great shame that Israel didn’t exist before WW2.
http://www.savingthejews.com/

So you send a link “exonerating” FDR. Great. Why don’t you read about the antipathetic attitudes of the leaders of the Zionist movement towards the European “dust” of Jews here: http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/antisemitism/holocaust/index.cfm

In Israel up to the late 60’s being a holocaust survivor was a big shame, something people tried to hide. They were seen as cowards who didn’t “resist” the Nazis. Not only was there no sympathy to their plight, they were mocked and sidelined. Many never received the care they needed, and still don’t.


…nor when they soured Arab-Jewish relationships throughout the Middle East and precipitated the destruction of the communities of the Arab Jews and certainly not when it came to cleansing Palestine of Palestinians.
Yossi,
How did “Zionist organizations” “precipitate the destruction of the communities of the Arab Jews”?
I think it’s plain as day that the creation of Israel and Arab intolerance is what precipitated it.

Surly, the creation of Israel and the Nakba that followed is one reason for the souring of the relationships between Jews and Arabs in Arab state, and I’m sure the Zionists paid little attention to this likely consequence when they carried out the Nakba. Some actions, however, were specifically designed to sour these relationships, like the bombing of Iraqi synagogues and the recruiting of Mossad spies within the Jewish communities who carried terrorist attacks against their own countries.


Organizations like J Street are the only choice in containing AIPAC and sending a clear message that they don’t have a monopoly over representation of Jews in America.

Of course there’s no “monopoly”. J-Street’s success will be a function of how close they are to the political agenda of those who are pro-Israel. Right now (and for the forseeable future), they’ll be on the periphery.

There WOULD be a monopoly if AIPAC and the GOI got their way. Let’s not forget the lengths to which these organizations go to tarnish J Street. Besides, who’s more powerful is not a question of popularity but a question of who has more money and who is more politically savvy. So yes in those parameters, all the heavy hitters are with AIPAC and they can use their money to coerce the American political system to do what they want, even though I would assume the big majority of Jews, who want nothing to do with politics, would not agree with their practices. Like I said, this is a recipe for backlash. Read 20’th century European history if you don’t believe me. Or you rather believe it’s always “mythical anti-Semitism”


AIPAC is the biggest enemy of the Jews, both in America and in Israel.
No. Leftists and Islamic Fundamentalists are.

Let’s talk about American Jews for a second. Most American Jews are non-practicing and their Judaism is somewhat ancillary to their identity as Americans. The worst that could happen to these Jews is that a wedge is stuck between them and Christian Americans. How could that happen? Certainly the existence of Islamic Fundamentalists has only strengthened the bond between Jewish and Christian Americans. How do leftists endanger the Jews of America? I don’t see how this argument plays out.

The Israeli Jews face dire and varied threats. Maybe “Leftists and Islamic Fundamentalists” will have turned out to be dangerous to Israeli Jews (I don’t think so). There is no clear “winning path” for Israel so they will have to take their chances and choose what they want to do with themselves.

At any rate, I don’t think Israelis are aware for the choices AIPAC is making on their behalf, meddling in their decision making process. No prime minister has ever gone to elections and said “in my term, I will make sure that AIPAC does X, Y,Z”. Promoting the Clean Break, was on nobody’s election platform… I’m sure 99% of Israelis don’t even know what this document is about. If you tell Israelis that somebody was promoting on their behalf the deposal of Saddam Husein, they would similarly be clueless about it. One thing for sure: the AIPAC sycophants don’t have to live with the consequences of their hyperactivity in the Middle East. It’s better for Israelis to have enemies that they can identify, rather than those who pretend to be friends and cause havoc in the shadows.

In that respect, my support for J Street is not because they support this or that policy, but exactly because they try to get AIPAC off of the administration’s back. Because they expose AIPAC’s practices and will hopefully make them stop.

March 22nd, 2010, 4:15 pm

 

almasri said:

I only see one feasible solution. Israel must be destroyed. It doesn’t matter how, be it with Iran bombing it to extinction, or Hamas/Hezbollah bombing every settlement out from the land. Israel must be erased from the face of this earth.

March 22nd, 2010, 5:30 pm

 

norman said:

I guess we have our own AP

March 22nd, 2010, 5:51 pm

 

Yossi said:

Dear Averroes , OTW, Norman and Shai,

Getting together anywhere would be a dream come true certainly if it to happen in the Middle East rather than North America. I understand the concern of inviting an Israeli to Syria and I do not wish to receive an honor which is undeserved. I can see how a two-state solution could be negotiated out of a desire to continue Israeli dominance over the Palestinians, as was the case with the Oslo accord, making Palestine an Israeli Bantustan and I agree that such a path will not lead to true peace, and will not bring normalization.

On the other hand the one-state solution is very perilous to the Jewish community in Israel both for objective and subjective reasons. One or two states, the one thing that really matters is that the Israeli Jews start behaving like they are part of the region and start intermingling and living in harmony with the Arabs. Without that, neither solution would work in the long term. A two-state solution might be devised such that it is fair to all sides (as far as these things go…) based on the principles of equality and democracy. It will ensure that both states have enough resources to support their citizens and that no state is subservient to the other. It will also ensure that both countries are “mixed” so that we learn how to respect the other, in a symmetric manner. It requires a ton of goodwill from both sides and therefore it is a long-shot.

OTW, as you say, the progressives on the Jewish/Israeli side recognize that since there are multiple paths possible for peace, each with its dangers and opportunities, the most important thing is to maintain the principles of equality and human rights and just be very receptive and open to what the people who actually live in the region want. I sense that J Street has a lot of this flexibility in its position and this is why it is sometimes being lambasted as “anti-Zionist”.

Activities of J Street seem to organically attract Arab participants as well, and even more so when it comes to Jewish Voice for Peace, but come to think of it, I am not aware of an organization that is particularly built around the idea of Arab-Jewish cooperation in North America. In Israel there are many such organization such as the Hadash/Jabha political party and NGO’s such as Taayush and many others. It’s a great idea to start something like that OTW, I in particular will be very interested.

March 22nd, 2010, 6:00 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Al-Masri’s Liberal Peace Initiative

Al-Masri said:

Israel must be destroyed.

Al-Masri,

So what are you waiting for? The IDF to go away?

It doesn’t matter how, be it with Iran bombing it to extinction, or Hamas/Hezbollah bombing every settlement out from the land.

Al-Masri,

We understand that “it doesn’t matter how” the fundies such as yourself and your Iranian friends bring about the destruction of Israel. It never does.

So, if it doesn’t matter how Israel is destroyed, I guess it doesn’t matter how Israel defends herself?;)

March 22nd, 2010, 6:06 pm

 

Joshua said:

Dear ALMASRI
In comment 49 you call for destroying Israel and bombing everyone in it. This does not help debate, is aggressive, etc, to our valued guests from Israel and non-Israelis who have all agreed to abide by Syria Comments rules of civility and respect for others. I have unfortunately censored many people for aggressive, insulting, and abusive language on this blog. Some I censored simply for repeating the same sort of nonconstructive statements ad nauseum and inciting silly and repetitive arguments, which causes reasoned discussion to end and yelling to dominate.

No one wants this. I don’t want it. Thank you. Joshua

March 22nd, 2010, 6:18 pm

 

Joshua said:

Dear ALMASRI
In comment 49 you call for destroying Israel and bombing everyone in it. This does not help debate, is aggressive, etc, to our valued guests from Israel and non-Israelis who have all agreed to abide by Syria Comments rules of civility and respect for others. I have unfortunately censored many people for aggressive, insulting, and abusive language on this blog. Some I censored simply for repeating the same sort of nonconstructive statements ad nauseum and inciting silly and repetitive arguments, which causes reasoned discussion to end and yelling to dominate.

No one wants this. I don’t want it. Thank you. Joshua

March 22nd, 2010, 6:20 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

In comment 49 you call for destroying Israel and bombing everyone in it.

Professor Josh,

So has Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria’s friend Iran.

In any case, thanks for chiming in. I thought you were on sabbatical.;)

March 22nd, 2010, 6:56 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

I don’t know of many people in cyberspace with more patience than Joshua and Alex. At times they really are tested by certain comments, and that goes for wise-a## comments like yours as well. You have no concept whatsoever of guest-host etiquette, do you?

March 22nd, 2010, 7:09 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

At times they really are tested by certain comments, and that goes for wise-a## comments like yours as well.

Shai,

I don’t recall ever posting a comment like, “______ must be destroyed.”. Do I ask a lot of hard questions that perhaps the participants here don’t want to hear? Yes. Am I sarcastic and sometimes angry? Yes. Considering that I have opinions that are backed by no other poster, I suppose that makes me the “black sheep”. That is why I think AIG is a better interlocutor than I am; he never shows anger.

Again, I do appreciate Alex and Professor Josh for allowing me to vent on this anti-Israel/pro-Syria website.

March 22nd, 2010, 7:58 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Yossi and Shai

One has two ways of combating apartheid. To prevent it from happening in the first place, or to fight it when it happens. I believe that J-Street is going for the first solution and in that they deserve and have earned my support and respect.

If a two states solution can reduce pain and suffering on both sides, then so be it. I recognize that a one state solution will not just happen out of thin air under the current circumstances, and if it does, it will start as an apartheid in the early stages. As such, I consider J-Street cause as worthy of support. I do not want apartheid to be the path for peace. The problem seems to be that Israeli governments are stuck on the expansion gear. I have no idea who they think they are serving, it is obvious that it is not in anyones interests, except for the fundamentalists on both sides, who are happy to see these policies continue for as long as it takes until one of them destroy’s the other. what a waste of energy and resources.

March 22nd, 2010, 10:10 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

OTW,

Please define the term “apartheid”, and how it applies to the State of Israel.

Then, after you’re finished. Let’s compare Israel to other states in the region to see where “Apartheid” is most apparent. OK?

Thanks,

AP

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apartheid

http://www.answers.com/topic/apartheid

March 23rd, 2010, 1:21 am

 

Yossi said:

Akbar,

What’s the point of picking up your challenge. You’re not going to be convinced anyway, and everybody else is familiar with the facts and their meaning. So why waste valuable time? A friendlier request from your side would be “OTW, why don’t you take a 15 minutes break and practice meditative breathing or Yoga stretching?”. This way you wouldn’t be asking him to waste his time in vein. He would get something out of interacting with you. You can’t be so exploitive all the time.

Anyway, I agree with you that some other countries in the Middle East or elsewhere can also be thought of as practicing Apartheid, so if that’s your point, you can say something like “I believe that Israel is not worse than Saudi Arabia, and here’s why…”. Wouldn’t that be a great thesis to prove? Not worse than Saudi Arabia… on a good day… “a light onto the nations”!

March 23rd, 2010, 1:56 am

 

norman said:

Shai, Yossi,

Do Israeli Christians and Muslims have the same rights , do they go to the same schools , do they live anywhere they want or they have restricted areas , can you tell me about the opportunities that they have , is there any restrictions on the schools they can go to ,or the hospitals ,do they have the same rights and obligations as their Jewish neighbors ,

March 23rd, 2010, 2:16 am

 

Yossi said:

Norman,

Nominally everybody has the same rights, but you’ll find a lot of informal differentiation in allocation of land resources, applying to join a new community or in application to work. A lot of the high-tech industry is built around veterans of the army, especially from military intelligence, and this is a closed-club, so to speak, especially to Arabs but also to people coming from other backgrounds. The biggest discrimination is in land allocation. In all of Israel’s history, not a single new Arab settlement was built and no lands were added to Arab villages. On the contrary, there was always an intentional policy to “judaize” the space by building settlements around each Arab village so that it has no place to expand to. In the case of Nazareth, where your family comes from, they built another Jewish town on top of the Arab town to curtail the Arab city’s growth.

New communities many times enact a “code” and you have to pass “acceptance exams” to prove that you are fit to join the community. Many people get rejected, both Jews and Arabs, but those tests are specifically designed to filter out Arabs. e.g., you have to declare that you will celebrate Jewish and national holidays etc.

However, outside of these communities Arabs, like all other citizens, can apply to buy homes and they many times do, especially since they run out space in their original communities, so for example many Arabs are moving to Jewish neighborhoods in Western Jerusalem or Haifa or even to towns such as Eilat. However, Jews will typically resist selling or renting to Arabs because that is perceived as an act of betrayal of their neighbors.

The school system is designed to be separate for the different sects (including different Jewish sects) but an Arab is in general welcome in a Jewish public school if that’s where they want to go, or where they live. Private Christian schooling for girls is currently probably the best you can get in Israel. I went to one of the top private schools in Israel and there were a few Arabs there, too. In general, Christians are much more open to intermingling than Muslims.

The universities are open to everybody and there is a good portion of the staff that is Arab. An area where Arabs are very strong at is healthcare—many doctors and nurses, also lots of engineers, especially civil engineers and geodesic sciences. I have a very good buddy who was a Muslim from a small village who got his PhD in CS from the Technion, and the best student in my class was a Christian Arab. He is now a VP in Marvel, an important high-tech company. There are also many Arabs in entertainment, Mira Awad represented Israel in the Eurovision contest as well as the movie Ajami (highly critical of Israel) by Skandar Kubati, was nominated for the Oscar, but didn’t win. One of the contenders in the Big Brother reality show was an Arab woman and she was very popular and almost one. We had an Arab beauty queen from Haifa.

It’s a very complex picture… generally outside of the land question, which seems to be in the hands of zealots, the Israeli society, to me, seems to be ready for a higher level of cooperation, intermingling and peace, once the so-called existential struggle between the peoples is resolved. That’s what keeps me hopeful about this mess… I know that there are very positive and vibrant elements inside Israeli society, Arab and Jews, who can create a beautiful future for themselves and even serve as an example for co-existence for the rest of the Middle East and the entire world.

Even the settlers, already have a second generation that is disposed to think this way. There will always be a second generation, who will not be willing to fight the wars of their ancestors…

March 23rd, 2010, 2:52 am

 

norman said:

Yossi, ‘
Thank you for the detailed response , can an Israeli Muslim or christian buy land and build a house ,

It looks better than i thought ,

March 23rd, 2010, 3:09 am

 

Yossi said:

Norman,

Ah, well… access to land is, like I said, probably the sourest point in the life of an Israeli Arab.

It depends.. if a house or a plot of land is up for sale in let’s say Tel Aviv, Haifa or really any other town, then the person in question can make an offer and it would be the owner’s discretion if to sell it to that individual or not.

In Arab villages and towns there is obviously no impediment for selling and buying land and houses, but the authorities are notorious for not approving building plans and so the Arabs build without permit (then the authorities say they are criminals).

No Kibbutz or Moshav (agricultural settlements, ironically devoted to socialist justice) will accept Arabs, even though many of them are built on the ruins of cleansed Palestinians villages and towns.

The new Israeli community settlements are trying to pile all sorts of impediments that will bar Arabs from joining, but that is contested in the courts. There was coverage in the news the other day about a Bedouin family trying to join the settlement Nevatim and also famous is the case of Kaadan who tried to join Katzir. You can Bing that (or Google) and find a lot of information about the legal questions involved…

The Zionist angle of the objection is that these lands are many times JNF lands, i.e., they were bought with the private money of Jews specifically to create Jewish settlements. However, the JNF “inherited” its lands to the State of Israel and now can a secular state enforce such a preferential policy, “on behalf” of the JNF?

Then there are the West Bank settlements, including the Jewish neighborhood of East Jerusalem. In all of this construction, nobody ever asks how much of this land was marketed to Arab contractors or sold to Arab residents. Well the answer is very simple—absolute Zero. I also don’t know what would happen if an Israeli Arab tried to buy a house in a settlement such as Akbar’s relatives’ settlement of Efrat. Would be interesting to put to test.

Finally there the Bedouins and they are a different ball-game, as I’m sure is also the case in Syria. In addition to the usual conflicts between a modern state and a nomadic, fiercely independent form of life, there are also the Jewish-Arab tensions, e.g., they were removed from some of their ancestral lands (e.g., Tel Arad, which became the Jewish town of Arad) and essentially quarantined in slums, and they are harassed by the authorities and private farmers who gobble up a lot of land. On the other hand, they sometimes produce 50 kids per male (with multiple wives) and live on welfare handouts, as well as illegal activity, such as smuggling Ukrainian prostitutes across the border from Egypt. So with them, the question of what land they’ll get, what percentage of the Negev will return to their control, is a burning question.

In general, the question of who controls the land in Israel is a very complicated one. All these steps that the regime is taking to fence in and exclude the Arabs are actually veiling a truth which could sound very surprising to some: control over the periphery of Israel is effectively slipping out of Jewish hands. All these maps of “disappearing Palestine” with the shrinking stretches of “green” Palestinian land, do not tell the real story. (In fact I’m not sure what story they do tell.) The real story can be found here: http://web.hevra.haifa.ac.il/~ch-strategy/images/publications/Tel_Aviv_State_en.pdf in particular see maps 1 on page 12 and map 4 on page 23.

Norman, can you make your next question an easier one? 🙂

March 23rd, 2010, 4:26 am

 

Off the Wall said:

FROM THE SIMMERING POT TO THE WHISTELING KETTLE

I’ll follow my friend’s Yossi’s advice, why don’t you

Dear Yossi
I have been scanning through the report. In general, Excessive nationalistic language such as that in the report turns me off, but the topic is interesting. However, some of the recommendations could have easily been written by a Russian Czarist official recommending actions to retain the Russian nature of areas from the encroaching Jews. For example, among the solutions for the inland area

Reinforce the space between the Ta’anakh settlements and Gilboa, in order to prevent Arab unification from Galilee and the Jenin area

An then the report talks about bringing Arabs closer and giving them full rights and duties, while at the same alluding to them, in no uncertain terms as the key existential threat and as the reason for the collapse of Israel as a western nation. While i find the notion of equalizing the Arabs of Israel with the rest of the society commendable, in the context of this report, this orphan paragraph only places the report as one of the most schizophrenic documents i have read in a while.

Did you also notice the phrase “strong jews”, what does that mean? . It did not seem like a mis-translation as the report clearly possesses an excellent command of English. However, the language is reminiscent of times no one wants to remember or repeat.

The main premise is that what happens all over the world in terms of population concentration in metropolises can not be allowed to happen in Israel because it will result in Israel losing its western stature and becoming a 3d world country.

Perhaps the most powerful statement of this report is the one gleaned from the appendices. These guys really really hate Tel Aviv and what it stands for, to them it is the threat to the romantic image of a frontiers country. Amir, better watch out 🙂

Here is a solution the authors did not think of, take the money and man power spent on west bank settlements and on protecting them and spend it in the peripheries.

The above are only some thoughts, I will continue reading the report. Stats fascinate me as they tell a very real story. It is very clear that Tel Aviv is the engine behind much of Israel’s IT and high tech advances, and yet it seems despised.

As for the story I get from the shrinking Palestinian land, it is first and foremost the story of an inviable state that can not be governed if it stays like that.

March 23rd, 2010, 6:42 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Yossi

By the way, I wrote my reply before going through 15 minutes breathing and stretching
. 🙂

I must say that your reply to Norman is by far a superior document. I must thank both You and Shai, and occasionally Amir, for taking the time to help us navigate the complexities of Israeli society.

The pot needs to sleep now, i am scheduled for a slow stew tomorrow. good night. 🙂

March 23rd, 2010, 7:00 am

 

Yossi said:

Dear OTW,

Thanks for your kind words, I love to be of assistance in understanding Israel and I especially love to do so when I have the opportunity to talk about things as-they-are.

Yeah the Sofer study is very confused in its goals and recommendations. The recommendations that it makes are actually damn-right funny! Imagining that you can have such a recruiting of society to “save Jerusalem” or “save the Negev” or whatever in today’s highly individualistic Israeli society is delusional.

But it does seem to capture the current dynamics, and the stats are illuminating. You just have to assume that non of the recommendations will ever be acted upon, as is most likely, and see where it takes you.

The Jewish periphery is indeed under attack, mostly economic inviability but also attacks from across the border (in the North and South) and attacks by Arab robbers and harassers. Last time I was in Israel I visited a Russian couple who bought a home in a community in the Western Galilee, surrounded by Arab villages and towns. The architecture wasn’t really different from that of a settlement in the West Bank: little cute houses surrounded by a perimeter fence. The men have patrol duty. The threat is not attack on their lives but property theft. The Arabs have plenty of reasons to harass them: ideological opposition to the Jews, anger at their economic exclusion and lack of job opportunity, the rise of criminal elements in the fractured and leaderless Israeli Arab community.

I don’t think most Israelis feel safe in their “own country” beyond the Haifa-Ashkelon coastal strip. There is always a threat, so people get tired and they congregate at the center around Tel Aviv, in the “bubble”. The Arabs on the other hand, have a lot to complain about, but nothing to fear, really.

The funny thing is that the most “Israeli” section of Israel outside of the Tel Aviv State is probably…. the Golan!

March 23rd, 2010, 8:14 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Wasting my Time Again on SC

What’s the point of picking up your challenge. You’re not going to be convinced anyway, and everybody else is familiar with the facts and their meaning. So why waste valuable time?

Yossi,

I appreciate your concern about “valuable time”, etc, and, like you, I’ll determine when and how to respond to the “Apartheid” BS we see all over the anti-Israel internet and on this website.

I’ll just cut & paste from the MFA website that also expresses my opinion:

These same advocates ignore the dozens of other nations whose human rights records are far worse than Israel’s because IAW types don’t care about human rights. They care about smearing the Jewish state.”

Moreover, the main difference between Israel and South Africa and the State of Israel, is that South Africa was controlled by a white MINORITY. Israel is controlled by a jewish MAJORITY.

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Anti-Semitism+and+the+Holocaust/Anti-SemitismToday/Israel_Apartheid_Week_Canada_1_Mar_2010

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_and_the_apartheid_analogy

March 23rd, 2010, 11:44 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alan Dershowitz discusses the “Apartheid” canard:

The current “Israel Apartheid Week” on universities around the world, by focusing only on the imperfections of the Middle East’s sole democracy, is carefully designed to cover up far more serious problems of real apartheid in Arab and Muslim nations.

http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2010/03/by_alan_m_dershowitz_every.html

http://www.israeliapartheidweek.com/content/useful_links.asp

March 23rd, 2010, 11:58 am

 

Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE said:

Alan Dershowitz discusses the “Apartheid” canard:

Appropriate name calling by a man who is a canard.

Calling one whose parents were “factually” victims of the Nazis regime an “antisemitic” deserves the title of being called “Le grand canard”.

March 23rd, 2010, 12:34 pm

 

Yossi said:

Akbar,

The Wiki article that you linked

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_and_the_apartheid_analogy

contains a lot of information about why the Apartheid label has been attached to Israel, some defense you have there.

Moreover, the main difference between Israel and South Africa and the State of Israel, is that South Africa was controlled by a white MINORITY. Israel is controlled by a jewish MAJORITY.

That’s another beautiful defense… The Jews treat the Arabs like the whites treated the blacks, but the Jews in Israel are a majority! What a marvelous defense for Israeli racism. Well within a couple of years the Arabs will be majority between the river and the sea and then you wouldn’t have even this lame defense.

March 23rd, 2010, 3:50 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

If you need me to, I’ll search for the link I posted a few months ago, but as a matter of fact the Israel Bureau of Statistics reported not too long ago that, for the first time in Israel’s history, more non-Jews were under Israeli control than Jews. I assume that number included the 1.5 million residents of Gaza. But if so, then with each day that passes, we certainly are becoming more and more like a South African Apartheid.

But, between us, does it matter what percentage of Arabs are under Israeli rule? Should we feel better if only 20% or 40% or 49% do not have equal status, rights and freedoms, like the Jewish population does?

March 23rd, 2010, 3:57 pm

 

Shai said:

Diplomacy Rhetoric by Israel’s Akbar-supported Right

“Rightist MKs: ‘British are dogs, who are they to judge?

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3866929,00.html

March 23rd, 2010, 4:07 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

…contains a lot of information about why the Apartheid label has been attached to Israel…

Yossi,

It contains information that covers both sides of this issue. Because I’m a “hardline” Zionist, I believe in showing all sides of an issue. Imagine that!

I guess it doesn’t matter that the Jews treat the Arabs better than the Arabs do. So yes, it’s easy to please anti-Zionists as long as Israel and Jews aren’t part of the equation.

does it matter what percentage of Arabs are under Israeli rule

Shai,

Yes, I think so. A democracy, by definition, is what the majority wants.

But as Steve Plaut wrote, democracies only matter to Leftists when Jews are concerned.

March 23rd, 2010, 4:07 pm

 

Shai said:

“I guess it doesn’t matter that the Jews treat the Arabs better than the Arabs do.”

I love that argument – no matter how many times I hear it!

Let’s go back in time a bit…

Union soldier: “We’re going to abolish Slavery and Racism!”
Confederate soldier: “But why? Do you think these people have it better in Africa?”

Re: Comment 74,

No, Democracies can also be scary sometimes, when they enable Apartheids or, far worse. The German people also elected, via a Democracy, someone that sealed the fate for 6 million Jews. Remember that guy?

March 23rd, 2010, 4:17 pm

 
 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai,

I recognize that Israeli-Arabs do not have the same set of freedoms as Arab-Americans in the US. I wish it were better.

OTOH, I also recognize that there are millions of disingenuous arabs, muslims, and Leftists who only find it worthwhile criticizing Israeli “apartheid” or “racism”, while they both FLOURISH (to a worse degree) in other parts of the world, including their own.

Akbar Palace says, “Buy Israel Bonds”:

http://www.israelbonds.com/israelbonds/HQ_CONTENTS/HQ_pages/home.aspx

March 23rd, 2010, 4:34 pm

 

Yossi said:

Akbar,

Like Shai, I’m confused about what you are trying to claim here. Do you claim that Israel is comparable in its institutionalized and informal inequalities to other Arab countries? If so, then which ones? Or do you think that Israel is comparable to Western democracies? Please set your bar, then we can judge whether Israel meets it or not.

The argument that “the neighbors” are not any better is perfectly legitimate in my book. You can claim that this is what the Jews have to do to survive in the neighborhood. But then, don’t also try to claim that Israel is a secular democracy. You can’t eat this cake and have it too…

March 23rd, 2010, 4:36 pm

 
 

Akbar Palace said:

Do you claim that Israel is comparable in its institutionalized and informal inequalities to other Arab countries?

Yossi,

No, Israel is NOT comparable in its “institutionalized and informal inequalities to other Arab countries”. It is generally much better.

Or do you think that Israel is comparable to Western democracies?

Yes, I think Israel is comparable to Western democracies.

Please set your bar, then we can judge whether Israel meets it or not.

OK.

The argument that “the neighbors” are not any better is perfectly legitimate in my book.

Apparently, for the rest of the anti-Zionist world, it doesn’t matter how badly the Arabs are treated in Arab countries. It only matters in Israel, hence, the double-standard.

You can claim that this is what the Jews have to do to survive in the neighborhood.

Jews are surviving the neighborhood fairly well. Anyway, can you post a link where I said this?

But then, don’t also try to claim that Israel is a secular democracy. You can’t eat this cake and have it too…

I recall posting several months ago, that if and when Israel becomes an Arab majority state, that would be fine, because the Arab majority state would have to take into account the large minority of Jews, just like Israel is now taking into account the large minority of arabs. Anyway, this could be several decades away, so I’d prefer to discuss the present and not something hypothetical.

March 23rd, 2010, 6:32 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

I don’t understand your claim against “Arabs, Muslims, and Leftists…” Are you suggesting that if there is indeed more Racism and Apartheid in Israel than we’d like there to be, that we must, in the same breath, list every other place on this planet that has it? Would that make us MORE likely, or LESS likely to fix it?

The fact that we, certain-Israelis, criticize our own country, and less our neighbors’, is because it is first and foremost our job to fix OUR problems, before we go suggesting what others need to do. I don’t need to list everything that’s wrong with KSA (or even a “balanced picture” of the region), before I go fixing my own home. There is huge danger, in fact, in always seeking “balance” and “harmony” in the Universe. It debilitates us, making us less concerned, knowing there’s also problems elsewhere.

Having said that, I do agree with Yossi that voicing that AIG-style argument can work. Indeed you’d have to conclude that Israel cannot be a secular democracy and an Apartheid at the same time (no matter how often the MFA calls Israel a Democracy in its websites). But worse of all, is that it still doesn’t fix our disease. It merely numbs us.

March 23rd, 2010, 6:42 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Are you suggesting that if there is indeed more Racism and Apartheid in Israel than we’d like there to be, that we must, in the same breath, list every other place on this planet that has it?

Shai,

Not if your an anti-Zionist, Arab and/or Leftist!

An anti-Zionist, by definition, holds Israel to a different standard than the rest of the world.

Would that make us MORE likely, or LESS likely to fix it?

Shai,

You can try to fix anything that you want. Certainly there are many in Israel, both Arabs and Jews, that are trying to fix these problems every day. There are scores of NGOs and private organizations in Israel that do a lot of the work you advocate. Where are these organizations in the Middle East?

The fact that we, certain-Israelis, criticize our own country, and less our neighbors’, is because it is first and foremost our job to fix OUR problems, before we go suggesting what others need to do.

Shai,

I appreciate that. I know you don’t spend a lot of gigabytes criticizing arab countries, and I understand that you want to better your country. That’s fine. Perhaps I take issue more with those on this forum who “use” you and Yossi. These participants RARELY criticize Arab human rights, and compared to the daily invective you have against Israel, you could hear a pin drop.

March 23rd, 2010, 7:17 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

Although I imagine SC isn’t benefitting much from this topic, I do want to impress upon you one thing – the idea that anti-Zionism should not be automatically viewed as innately evil and hypocritical view of either Judaism or even Israel. We Israelis (and most likely you pro-Israelis) grew up on the notion that Israeli=Zionist=Patriotic. That Zionism brought us together, and is now responsible for holding us together, forever. That whatever it did, and does, is for a good cause. That our enemies are, by definition, anti-Zionist and that, therefore, the reverse is also true!

But if Zionism also (and in particular) brought and still brings horrific pain upon another people, why can’t a proud Israeli, who might otherwise be proud of calling himself a Zionist, also condemn these aspects of Zionism? Why can’t an Israeli, who loves his country, served and serves his country no less than any other “patriot”, who is ready to die for his country, also hate what is being done on “behalf” of Zionism? Hence, it could be said, that that Israeli is also anti-Zionism.

I’m not afraid of an anti-Zionist. The opposite – I think we MUST have anti-Zionists, in order to check ourselves and, as is necessary, to fix ourselves. Anti-Zionists are the only “mirror” Zionism has. And therefore, an anti-Zionist is not necessarily my enemy. When every nation on the face of this planet does not recognize our rule in the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan, they are in the minds of many in Israel (including plenty of MK’s) anti-Zionists. But are they our enemies? Should we not listen to them?

March 23rd, 2010, 7:56 pm

 

Shai said:

Obama should cancel the meeting with Netanyahu…

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1158417.html

March 23rd, 2010, 9:15 pm

 

Yossi said:

Akbar,

You said:

Yes, I think Israel is comparable to Western democracies.

Glad you clarified that, so now we can move forward in our comparison.

In case you haven’t noticed we are talking about Greater Israel as one political unit in which there are four degrees of discrimination against Arabs:

1. Israeli Arab citizens
2. Arab residents of annexed East Jerusalem
3. Arabs residents of the West Bank
4. Arabs residents of Gaza.

Let’s say that #4 is out of consideration because the Gazans now live in their “own country”. Let’s also make your life easier by not considering the residents of the West Bank, although discrimination against them is the most outrageous.

I will challenge you to show that there exists any other Western democracy that has a similar level of discrimination between its own citizens, like Israel does. And I will be specific.

Background: the Arab population consists a 20% minority within Israel.

Challenge #1: name another county in the West which is building new settlements specifically for one ethnic group (e.g., the Jews) and consistently prevents members of the minority from joining such new settlements.

Challenge #2: name another Western country in which immigration laws discriminate between potential immigrants’ members of the majority’s religious affiliation and that of the minority’s.

Challenge #3: name another country in which citizens who are born in the country may not bring their foreign spouses into their country based on the country of origin of the spouse.

Challenge #4: name another Western country, in which the Education Ministry, among other ministries, does not offer a Web site in the native language of a 20% minority.

Challenge #5: name another Western country whose national anthem requires the person singing it to identify as a member of the majority affiliated religion.

I can go on forever, but I think 5 challenges is a good start. Come on, get to it.

And again, note this is the milder form of discrimination that is institutionalized under Israeli rule. It doesn’t even come to close to what the state does to those Arabs who are under so-called occupation.

March 23rd, 2010, 11:38 pm

 

Husam said:

Shai, Yossi:

Your eloquence and IQ is being wasted trying to convince one loner -AP- that there is a mirror to everything in life.

I mean AP is suggesting that you are prostituting yourself on SC just because he doesn’t agree with you. I see this going back and forth, and again and again. S/he is advocating that Americans should mistreat Blacks, and abuse them because most of the whole of Africa mistreats their own. You are dealing with an illogical, die hard B*ll Sh*tter who seems to have an issue with everything and everyone.

Can someone possibly have a comment about every comment? He takes every sentence, copy/paste it, and criticizes it. It kinda gets boring after while. Seriously, what is agenda here? Perhaps, to have you second guess yourself and your patriotism.

Why don’t you ignore him, what is the benefit?

March 24th, 2010, 12:01 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Akbar

I think you are rushing into a defensive mode without really capturing the essence of the arguments being made. If you notice my own regarding J-Street, I mentioned that J-street aims to prevent Israel from becoming an apartheid regime. In that there is an implicit recognition of differences between the two systems. But these differences are eroding and will continue to erode as long as Israel’s expansion policies in the west bank continue to make a viable Palestinian state harder and harder by the day. If this continues, which seems to be the intent of both the larger portion of the Israeli Jewish majority, their governments, and the backers of right wing policies in the US and elsewhere, Israel will become a multi-tiered apartheid. You will have, for a few generations: (a) full fledged citizens (Jewish Israelis), (b) 2/3d citizens, albeit slowly making gains towards 3/4 citizenship within the system (Israel’s Arabs), and (c) fully oppressed captives (west bank Palestinians). Off course, there will be shades within these three break-points.

The story we are debating is not of what Israel is now, it is of what Israel is making of itself by being what it is now.

No Arab country currently has such an arrangement. Granted, freedom of speech and association in the Arab world are no where near the levels they are in Israel or in the western world, but in no Arab country (other than Sudan), there exists now a systematic campaign to dis-enfranchise a whole population and push it as bad as Israel has been doing in the WB and Gaza for nearly fifty years now. There is oppression, there is lack of democracy, and both are deplorable. But Israel’s actions are no less deplorable simply because the Jewish citizen of Israel enjoy what others do not. In fact, it makes the continuing expansion and oppression more deplorable.

The bad treatment did not start with the first Intifada, it was the cause of that intifada, so do not go crying self defense, you were on the attack then and now. I am not condoning terrorist activities, but I am recognizing what you refuse to recognize, which is your own role in fermenting the situation leading to a culture of desperation.

March 24th, 2010, 2:07 am

 

Off the Wall said:

I made a mistake, Iraq has a sectarian cleansing problem, thanks to the Neocons.

March 24th, 2010, 4:15 am

 

Yossi said:

Hi Husam,

Hi Husam,

It doesn’t make sense right? So look for an ulterior motive: it’s really a kickback scheme, Shai and I get paid by the New Israel Fund every time we attack AIPAC or the settlements and Akbar gets paid by CAMERA every time he attacks the Lefties. So it’s a win-win situation to keep the discussion lively and all of us afloat.

All,

Here is a short video on the topic of inequality in Israel:

The nice lady who says she likes “Bamya” was an officer in my bank in Haifa, a sweet lady 🙂

March 24th, 2010, 6:54 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

But if Zionism also (and in particular) brought and still brings horrific pain upon another people, why can’t a proud Israeli, who might otherwise be proud of calling himself a Zionist, also condemn these aspects of Zionism?

Shai,

You can condemn any aspect of Zionism that you want. I would prefer that you do. I prefer freedom of speech than the police state of Syria. Zionism is define by the collective opinions and votes of Israelis including those of the Arab minority.

Why can’t an Israeli, who loves his country, served and serves his country no less than any other “patriot”, who is ready to die for his country, also hate what is being done on “behalf” of Zionism?

You can Shai. Just expect disagreement when you make your “strange” opinions vocal and public. Thank G-d there is freedom of speech in Israel.

Hence, it could be said, that that Israeli is also anti-Zionism.

You can even say Israeli is Nazism. But after complaining so much year-after-year, perhaps the argument wears out if your still living in a state you seem to dislike so much.

I’m not afraid of an anti-Zionist. The opposite – I think we MUST have anti-Zionists, in order to check ourselves and, as is necessary, to fix ourselves. Anti-Zionists are the only “mirror” Zionism has.

I’m not “afraid” of anti-Zionist Israelis either. If anything, I just find it weird, like an anti-Palestinian muslim.

But are they our enemies?

I suppose if they take up arms against Israel, they are, or if they give aid to Israel’s enemies.

Should we not listen to them?

You can listen to whomever you want, so please afford me the same right.

Yossi states:

Background: the Arab population consists a 20% minority within Israel.

Challenge #1: name another county in the West which is building new settlements specifically for one ethnic group (e.g., the Jews) and consistently prevents members of the minority from joining such new settlements.

a.) The Turkish Occupation of Cyprus (more Erdogan hypocrisy):

On August 14, Turkey demanded from Clerides acceptance of a proposal for a federal state, in which the Turkish Cypriot community (who, at that time, comprised about 18% of the population and owned about 10% of the land due to long term ethnic cleansing and Greek pressures) would have received 34% of the island.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyprus_dispute

http://www.cyprusnet.com/content.php?article_id=2794&subject=standalone

b.) Tibet

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Tibet

c.) Estonia and the Baltic states

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_the_Baltic_states

Challenge #2: name another Western country in which immigration laws discriminate between potential immigrants’ members of the majority’s religious affiliation and that of the minority’s.

a.) Australia

Where immigration is permitted, it is typically selective. Ethnic selection, such as the White Australia policy, has generally disappeared, but priority is usually given to the educated, skilled, and wealthy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration

b.) The US during the war:

http://www.holocaustsurvivors.org/data.show.php?di=record&da=bibliography&ke=87

c.) Canada

http://www.bnaibrith.ca/institute/millennium/millennium03.html

Challenge #3: name another country in which citizens who are born in the country may not bring their foreign spouses into their country based on the country of origin of the spouse.

If any Arab (say from the UAE) married a jewish person (especially an Israeli jew), that person would be denied entry into the UAE.

That would apply to most Arab countries.

Challenge #4: name another Western country, in which the Education Ministry, among other ministries, does not offer a Web site in the native language of a 20% minority.

http://cms.education.gov.il/educationcms/units/owl/aravit/alfon/index.htm

Challenge #5: name another Western country whose national anthem requires the person singing it to identify as a member of the majority affiliated religion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_national_symbols

March 24th, 2010, 12:16 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

If you notice my own regarding J-Street, I mentioned that J-street aims to prevent Israel from becoming an apartheid regime.

OTW,

I guess J-street is doing a good job.

But these differences are eroding and will continue to erode as long as Israel’s expansion policies in the west bank continue to make a viable Palestinian state harder and harder by the day.

Please detail for us how “a viable Palestinian state” is “getting harder and harder by the day”.

The story we are debating is not of what Israel is now, it is of what Israel is making of itself by being what it is now.

Oh.

No Arab country currently has such an arrangement. Granted, freedom of speech and association in the Arab world are no where near the levels they are in Israel or in the western world, but in no Arab country (other than Sudan), there exists now a systematic campaign to dis-enfranchise a whole population and push it as bad as Israel has been doing in the WB and Gaza for nearly fifty years now.

What about Palestinians in Lebanon? What about Copts in Egypt? What about Christians in Palestine? What about Kurds in Turkey? What about Jews in Iran? You’re a fine example of a SC participant: an Arab who isn’t able to look at themselves half as critically as a liberal Jew like Shai.

There is oppression, there is lack of democracy, and both are deplorable.

So be like an Arab “Shai” and fight for the Arab Utopia just like Shai does for Israel. Spend hours on Jewish-centered websites criticizing the Arab world. Can you handle it?;) I’ll pay you!;)

March 24th, 2010, 12:30 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

It may come as a shock to you, but Israeli does not mean Zionist. There are plenty of Israelis, in fact huge numbers of Israelis, who don’t believe in Zionism. It has nothing to do with Liberals or Leftists. In fact, most Leftists and Liberals would certainly call themselves Zionists. There are many Haredim who do not believe in Zionism. They don’t even stand still when the siren is heard during any of Israel’s Remembrance days.

“You can even say Israeli is Nazism. But after complaining so much year-after-year, perhaps the argument wears out if your still living in a state you seem to dislike so much.”

I don’t understand your concern with “complaining so much…” – are you suggesting people who live in a country, are patriotic and care more about that country than about any other country, should perhaps “stop complaining”? Do you stop complaining about things wrong with America? What is it about Complaining that seems so unpatriotic to you and to Neocons everywhere? But wait! Are the Neocons holding themselves back nowadays, during Obama’s Administration, out of Patriotism? 🙂

I have further shocking news for you – I can dislike a lot of things about the state I live in, and YET love my country enough to want to stay and fight to make it better! What a strange concept… especially for patriotic neocons. But if you’re not a lazy bum, who thinks that God chooses whatever he wants for your country, then you might find you have both the privilege and the responsibility, to make your country a better place. To give your children something to be more proud of. It’s not strange at all. At least, it shouldn’t be for people who understand hard work.

Finally, please rest assured that I see myself as super-far from “fighting for a Utopia”. Right now, I’ll settle for a lot less. As would most people in our region.

March 24th, 2010, 12:55 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

Israel is spitting in the eye of its only benefactor the USA.

“Israel has no real intention of quitting the territories or allowing the Palestinian people to exercise their rights,” wrote Israeli political commentator Gideon Levy in Ha’aretz last week.

“Israel does not truly intend to pursue peace, because life here seems to be good even without it. The continuation of the occupation doesn’t just endanger Israel’s future, it also poses the greatest risk to world peace, serving as a pretext for Israel’s most dangerous enemies.”

“No change will come to pass in the complacent, belligerent and condescending Israel of today.”

Is that like a surprise to the Palestenians, Lebanese, Syrians and others?

March 24th, 2010, 1:55 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Non-Violent Overthrow NewZ?

Some have said that Obama is trying to conduct “regime change” in Israel.

I don’t know about that, but what about “regime change” here in the US?

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0310/34914_Page2.html

March 24th, 2010, 2:16 pm

 

Yossi said:

Akbar @90,

Although most of your replies to my challenges are patently irrelevant, I still appreciate the effort and I will reply to you in detail when I get the time to.

March 24th, 2010, 4:23 pm

 

Yossi said:

Akbar,

Here is my detailed response to your comment at #90.

You have claimed that Israel is comparable to Western democracies, rather than to Middle Eastern countries. Although, as your response to OTW in #94 shows, you are on much more terra firma when comparing the status of Arabs in Israel to those of minorities in Middle Eastern countries (and ignoring the fact that upon probling Israel would still appear less favorable than you portray it).

However, you wished to answer the challenges comparing Israel to other Western democracies. I have posed to you 5 initial such challenges, focusing on the lesser problem of the status of Israeli citizen Arabs. At any point we can and should extend the challenge to more than 5 points or consider the status of the residents of the West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem.

But let’s return our focus to the 5 initial challenges. Interestingly, from a sociological or psychological perspective, you weren’t willing to concede any of the points even though your arguments in some cases are extremely weak and this should have been apparent to you too. Israel is indeed in a unique position, you can ask for some slack, rather than make very weak arguments. To make this very obvious, we can just ask “which Western democracy is in a constant state of war with some of its neighbors?” and from there we can see that Israeli is not just like “everybody else”. Israel has put itself in a situation where it cannot really hope to be a “normal Western democracy”. There are just too many balls to juggle.

OK, now to the refutations.

Challenge #1: The challenge was to name another Western democracy which has a policy of segregated housing and exclusion of a large minority from development and housing projects. In response you cited the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus which is irrelevant since the occupation is not a Western democracy. But I agree that it is comparable to what’s going on in Israel—you see, that’s exactly the right bar for comparison!

Tibet: neither Tibet nor China are Western democracies. Still, while China encourages the migration of ethnically non-Tibetan to Tibet, I am not aware of a Chinese policy to exclude Tibetans from new housing developments. Again, even if China were to do something like that, your challenge was to show another WESTERN DECOCRACY with such policies as those of Israel.

Estonia and the Baltic states: not sure how the past occupation of the Baltic states by the USSR has anything to do with Western democracies and unequal housing.

My conclusion is that you have failed to answer challenge #1. Feel free to try again.

Challenge #2: you haven’t given an example of a Western Decomcracy who discriminates based on ethnicity and/or religion in its immigration policies and LAWS. Whatever policies Australia USED TO HAVE is not pertinent any more. We are talking about the present. Similarly US is currently in a war (when isn’t it?) and that doesn’t preclude Iraqis, Iranians and Afghans to immigrate to the US.

The US and Australia examples remind me of something Qunfuz told me, which is quite true: Israel is a commendable democracy, in the standards of 70 years ago.

Canada is a good example of a bi-national or at least bi-lingual country which is encouraging the rights of both majority and minorities. You must be really hypocrite if you’re citing Canadian Francophile immigration policies because the equivalent in Israel will be Arab-origin favoring immigration policies. Is that the comparison you’re trying to make? Canada doesn’t meet the challenge because it doesn’t favor English-speaking potential immigrants (which are affiliated with the majority) vs. French-speaking potential immigrants (who are affiliated with the minority).

So I’d say you’ve failed to show an example of a country which specifically meets the challenge. Feel free to try other examples.

Challenge #3: Akbar, have we forgotten something? We are looking for comparable WESTERN DEMOCRACIES! If you want to switch to the lesser challenge of comparing Israel to the undemocratic UAE, we can do that do, in a separate discussion.

Feel free to look for other WESTERN DEMOCRACIES who meet the challenge.

Challenge #4: Well well… To demonstrate to you what a different debate culture can look like, let me say on the outset: you have located the Arabic language Web site of the Israeli Education Ministry. And thus, technically, you have answered the challenge!

However… you’d note that the Hebrew Web site is updated daily, is colorful and dynamic whereas the main page for the Arab site is… the address book for the heads of the divisions of the ministry (all Jews by the way). The links mostly point back to Hebrew content. Some links are broken. The link to the main Arabic site from the main Hebrew page doesn’t work in Chrome (all the other links do work). It’s a picture of neglect and half-ass’d investment, which is very typical.

I’d urge you to compare the situation in Israel to that in other WESTERN DEMOCRACIES with a 20% minority which speaks a different language have to offer to the minority. Canada for example.

But like I said, you have technically answered the challenge! Congratulations.

Challenge #5: you haven’t named another WESTERN DEMOCRACY whose national anthem requires identifying as part of the majority’s religion (or ethnicity). I would require a complete answer to name the country and provide the lyrics which will meet the challenge.

—-

Akbar, as is typical of your discourse, you are happy with providing answers that are patently irrelevant, as long as you can come up with some answers. You rely on the assumption that as long as you can have the last word, and the discussion becomes less intelligent, people will lose their patience and the criticism discussed will be dulled.

You can argue that this level of detail of discussion of Israel should not be the focus of discussion in this blog, and I will agree. The problem is, that your argumentation is so destructive and counter-factual that I can’t leave it unanswered.

Had you wished to compare Israel to its neighbors, it might have been of greater relevance to this blog, and also an easier case for you to make. But you chose a different challenge.

March 24th, 2010, 6:04 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE said:

Non-Violent Overthrow NewZ?

Some have said that Obama is trying to conduct “regime change” in Israel.

I don’t know about that, but what about “regime change” here in the US?

AP. will you be throwing your hat in the ring or will you call on John Hagee, Pat Robertson, Sarah Palin, Joe Lieberman to head “your non-violent overthrow” to help Bibi/AIPAC become the REAL regime in the US.

You know where you can go if you dont approve of the regime that was voted on and is in power at the present. Unless of course your thinking of the same kind of approach that Bush took in Iraq.

March 24th, 2010, 6:49 pm

 

Husam said:

YOSSI:

1) I guess your are right we need A.P. to keep things lively, I actually learn a lot from people refuting his/her B.S. It just gets over the top at times.

2) A.P. also lost challenge #6, a western democracy which meets all of the first 5 challenges together in one country!

March 25th, 2010, 12:47 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

East meets West

Yossi,

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my posts.

To make a long story short, your 5 “challenge questions” and my 5 responses do not show or prove that Israel is not more like a Western country than an arab one.

You asked me to:

name another Western country, in which the Education Ministry, among other ministries, does not offer a Web site in the native language of a 20% minority.

And I showed you and web site from the Israeli Ministry of Education that was fully in Arabic.

You asked me to:

name another Western country whose national anthem requires the person singing it to identify as a member of the majority affiliated religion.

And I responded to a list of several countries (including Western countries) that have religious symbols in their flag as well as their “national anthem”.

Your first three questions were more difficult to answer.

Bravo!

But if you take into account freedoms, press, economy, education, politics, technology, and literacy, I think most people would say they resemble the West more than the “East”.

Is it a surprise that you didn’t ask me about Israel’s EAST/WEST direction in terms of THESE measures? No.

Also, in your last post you said:

To make this very obvious, we can just ask “which Western democracy is in a constant state of war with some of its neighbors?” and from there we can see that Israeli is not just like “everybody else”. Israel has put itself in a situation where it cannot really hope to be a “normal Western democracy”. There are just too many balls to juggle.

Again, another poor indicator. The US have been “at war” for the past 60 years with one country or another who HASN’T been a neighbor! The Brits when halfway around the world to save a little island from the clutches of the Argentines. France went into Algeria.

Moreover, the US and western powers have killed many more civilians than Israel could ever want.

Israel has the right and the duty not to fight halfway around the world, but to defend their country against neighbors right at their border.

I suggest you rethink your criteria. Most of it is biased.

March 25th, 2010, 2:41 am

 

norman said:

yossi, Shai,

Do you think that Israel at a crossroad and in the same place where the US was in the sixties when discrimination against blacks, Jews and Arabs and all the Brown skin people was widespread , at that time in the US , The majority whites had the foresight to see that without a change to a status of equality for all a civil war would have been imminent , do you think that Israel has the leaders and the foresight that is needed to diffuse hatred and discontent ,

the best way to create enemies is to humiliate others and it seems to me that Israel is doing that very well, !.

March 25th, 2010, 3:10 am

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

“Moreover, the US and western powers have killed many more civilians than Israel could ever want.”

No, that’s a horrific and unacceptable excuse. It legitimizes killing. It allows Israel tomorrow morning to drop a single nuclear bomb on Tehran, killing 200,000 people, knowing you’ll say “The U.S. used TWO nuclear bombs, not one…”

“Israel has the right and the duty not to fight halfway around the world, but to defend their country against neighbors right at their border.”

Damn straight. I fully agree. But with two small “additions” – at their BORDER, and with PROPORTION. That means that any action taken against the Palestinians, as long as they are under Israeli rule, is a crime against humanity. Since I know you’ll raise Gaza as a fine example of “not under Israeli rule”, I’ll preempt by suggesting that Gaza is not a nation, it has no means of controlling its own fate, it cannot even determine what and who crosses its borders. Whatever “entity” you assign to it, that entity is, for all practical purposes, under siege. BUT (that’s a big but on purpose), the minute a state of Palestine is established, in the West Bank and Gaza, I personally would join to defend my country against any and all offensive action taken by a foreign country, at my border, or beyond.

To demonstrate the clear distinction I make (which I’m sure you understand), when Hezbollah fires rockets into Israel, I am absolutely for fighting Lebanon back. When HA caputres three Israeli soldiers, I am NOT for starting War. This is where proportionality comes in. You cannot kill 1,500 people after 3 soldiers are captured and killed. You cannot punish so severely an innocent population. You cannot drop millions of cluster bombs, anywhere.

America also thought that fighting in Vietnam was meant to “defend itself (or its interests)”. It saw the Domino Effect has occurring right in its own backyard, not thousands of miles away from home. During the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, and E. Berlin were perceived by America as right-on-our-border, just as much as Cuba was.

But despite their innate fear of Communism, and the real or perceived threat of its attempt to dominate the World, some action it took was supported by its allies, and some wasn’t. Vietnam, wasn’t. By ANY of America’s major allies (as I showed in an earlier comment, quoting Robert McNamara). And when your allies, who share comparable values, don’t support you, you’d better re-examine your reasoning, and your action.

The Occupation has NEVER been supported by any of Israel’s major allies. Disproportionate response has NEVER been acceptable by anyone, ally or not. And as long as that remains true, Israel cannot convince anyone it is “defending itself”, when it kills 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza, or 1,500 Lebanese in Lebanon.

Strange that it convinces you.

March 25th, 2010, 6:51 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Do you think that Israel at a crossroad and in the same place where the US was in the sixties when discrimination against blacks, Jews and Arabs and all the Brown skin people was widespread

Norman,

Israel may have been guilty of discrimination against “brown skin people” in the 60s and 70s (Jews and Arabs), but a lot has improved in this regard. Most Israelis are “brown” or sephardic/mizrachi…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_ethnic_divisions

Just count how many “browed skin people” are in government and in the military. Frankly, I don’t think racism in Israel was ever as bad as it was in the US. Unless you know something I don’t, like slavery and the “3/5 compromise”…

http://www.knesset.gov.il/faction/eng/FactionCurrent_eng.asp

March 25th, 2010, 11:12 am

 

Yossi said:

Akbar,

Again very weak defense, which you make just in order to “stay in the game”. I will write more later, busy today.

March 25th, 2010, 1:45 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

Never underestimate hard core jewish zionists.

In a book titled Ropes of Sand, a former CIA officer wrote. ” in early 1950s in attempts to portray the Iraqis as anti-american and to terrorize Iraqi jews, the zionists planted bombs in the USIS library in Baghdad and in synagogues. Soon after leaflets urging Jews to flee to Israel started appearing in towns.

Thereby attesting to what Jay Lefkowitz, an American government official, told the New York Times Magazine in 1995 “Deep down, I believe that a little anti-Semitism is a good thing for the Jews — reminds them who they are.”

In some respect the present issues in Israel reflect what Avigdor and his group of Moldavians are doing to their fellow citizens.

March 25th, 2010, 2:54 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Never underestimate Arab violence:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farhud

March 25th, 2010, 4:06 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE said:

Never underestimate Arab violence:

They learned it all from the Irgun Zvai Lumi, the Stern Gang, and other assorted terrorists from Moldavia,as well as the ex terrorist Menachem Begin who eventually became PM.

March 25th, 2010, 4:50 pm

 

Yossi said:

Akbar,

If you go up the thread and see my response to Norman’s question about equality in Israel, you’d see that I believe that there is great inequality but at the same time there are opportunities and the situation can and must be improved. You, by trying to imagine that everything is perfect, are doing nobody a service, your opinions represent nobody. 59% of American Jews support Obama, and they sense very well what is going on in Israel, they don’t burry their hands in the sand like you do. Amir, who in my opinion represents the down-to-earth thinking of many Israelis, will tell you that your refutations of inequality are an insult to your readers’ intelligence. Your one sidedness is typical of somebody who’s being paid by a propaganda organization to repeat the same message forever.

You did not understand what I said about Israel’s state of war with its neighbors—it is indeed unlike other Western democracies, as Israel has a big minority of citizenry that is ethnically, religiously and politically close to the state’s across-the-border enemies, as well as 3.5 million of the same minority under the state’s military occupation. Under these circumstances, I think Israel did a great job of being mostly-democratic, it could have done much worse… but, what matters for this comparison is just the end result, and the end result cannot be similar to other Western democracies, given the reality of the conflict, even if Israel had the best of intentions towards its Arab citizenry. The reality though, is that it has far than perfect intentions towards this citizenry and it ends up in a place that is far different from a Western democracy. Is it possible that one day Spain will be in war with Morocco and the Moroccans living in Spain would become antagonistic to the state? It’s not likely but when that scenario did happen, Spain may or may not handle this better than Israel. But Israel is in that predicament right now. And how did that happen? Because it’s a recent colonialist state which was established by cleansing the country of most of its original inhabitants. That lies in the basis of the abnormality of Israel, together with the ethnocentric dedication of the state to the Jewish group, and that sets some initial conditions which are hard to overcome.

Indeed, what I wrote above is ample clear to Israelis and in the 80’s and 90’s, many Israelis took the necessary steps towards reconciliation with the Arab world, starting from the Israeli Arab citizenry. For example, discussion of the Nakba became part of the discourse in constructing a new and inclusive narrative which acknowledges the ethos of both Arabs and Jews and makes possible a shared future. Alas, the deterioration between the peoples since the Oslo accord, as well as the flooding of Israel with new immigrants who have yet to learn the lessons which took Israelis 50 and more years to learn, have undone any progress which has been made. This is what you don’t seem to understand—that burying your head in the sand will lead to nowhere and is upping the stakes for everybody in the region in a dangerous manner.

As to my challenges, you know that they are not just random questions, these are litmus tests which say a lot about the state. It is true that if you come to Israel and stay close enough to Tel Aviv (but don’t go to Jaffa, Ramla or Lod either) you could imagine that you’re in a Western democracy but this is an illusion like the illusion that Josef Fritzl was a normative man when he kept family members in the basement. Indeed, there are powers in the Western world, anti-democratic right-wing parties, who wish to define Israel as a democracy, since that will allow them to further anti-Immigrant and anti-rights agendas in their own counties. Israel has strange bed fellows, parties which are not far off from neo-Nazism.

The question about the national anthem (not the flag…) is important because it shows how callous Israel is when it comes to thinking about the role of the Arab minority in the state. It’s one thing when a European country in the 17th century was a 100% Christian and religiously so, adopts Christian national symbols. But it’s a different thing when you establish a new country, with a fresh and unresolved refugee problem and a large minority. When they chose the lyrics of the HaTikva for the anthem, they didn’t think for one second, whether non-Jewish people will be able to sing it or not, and what would be the price they’d had to pay for keeping loyalty to a country that forces them to bow to Jewish symbols. We are very proud as Jews of how we never agreed to bow to a cross, even in the cost of our lives, but we didn’t have any qualms about putting our future neighbors and partners in thestate in the same predicament. This is shameful and should have been fixed many times by now, if the Jews in Israel had any brains in their heads, and were not just setting themselves up to be the next crusaders.

If Israel will be accepted into the OECD it’ll be the least equal state there, and that would be completely ignoring the people living under the occupation. If you take the occupation into account, there would be no question about accepting Israel into that organization. Every year that passes erodes freedoms in Israel, more and more impediments are placed on freedoms of expression, assembly and movement. The victims are typically Israeli Arabs. For example, 800 were arrested for prolonged periods during the Gaza massacre simply for protesting against it. As Jews start working more closely with Arabs towards shared goals, they are being targeted too. The Israeli supreme court, the last bastion for equality, is under severe pressures to comply with the current atmosphere and it will soon be cleansed of liberals too. The next few years will see the appointment of right-wing settlers as supreme judges.

I am painting for you a picture of a dynamic that is still somewhat (if you are almost blind) subtle. Ignoring it now is perhaps ignoring the last chance of saving the (deeply flawed) Israeli democracy. Oh, but I forgot, you don’t really care.

March 27th, 2010, 10:08 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Avadim Ha’inu

… I believe that there is great inequality but at the same time there are opportunities and the situation can and must be improved.

“Great” inequality? Yes, there is certainly room for improvement, and I am glad you are part of that process. Was there ever slavery in Israel? No. Was there ever no freedom of religion or speech? No.

You, by trying to imagine that everything is perfect, are doing nobody a service, your opinions represent nobody.

I never said anything was “perfect”. No country is. All I’m saying is that Israeli-Arabs prefer Israel to Palestine (they don’t want to be incorporated into the PA), and considering the state of war that exists, I think Israel has done a fairly good job. It’s all relative habibi.

…59% of American Jews support Obama, and they sense very well what is going on in Israel, they don’t burry their hands in the sand like you do.

Actually 78% of Jews voted for Obama. At this point in time, I seriously doubt Obama would get the same percentage.

Amir, who in my opinion represents the down-to-earth thinking of many Israelis, will tell you that your refutations of inequality are an insult to your readers’ intelligence.

Let Amir speak for himself, if you don’t mind. The only disagreement I’ve had with Amir is his take on America’s healthcare plan. I sense Amir is a socialist, but that doesn’t mean he is soft on Israel’s security.

Your one sidedness is typical of somebody who’s being paid by a propaganda organization to repeat the same message forever.

C’mon Yossi, you know I don’t get paid. Do you and Shai get paid? Of course not. We all have a passion for our ideas.

Because it’s a recent colonialist state which was established by cleansing the country of most of its original inhabitants.

Yossi, pul-eeze! The “colonialist state” epithet is even worse than the “apartheid state” sound-bite. Both phrases have no basis in reality as well as within the english language.

That lies in the basis of the abnormality of Israel, together with the ethnocentric dedication of the state to the Jewish group, and that sets some initial conditions which are hard to overcome.

The only “abnormality” is the degree the Arabs (and their adoring Leftist commrades) are trying to delegitimize Israel. Israel is “abnormal” for the success she has had DESPITE this onslaught.

… many Israelis took the necessary steps towards reconciliation with the Arab world, starting from the Israeli Arab citizenry.

Reconciliation is good. No?

For example, discussion of the Nakba became part of the discourse in constructing a new and inclusive narrative which acknowledges the ethos of both Arabs and Jews and makes possible a shared future.

Why would any Israeli NOT discuss the Nakba? Why would any Arab NOT discuss the legitimacy of Israel? Were all in the same boat habibi.

Alas, the deterioration between the peoples since the Oslo accord, as well as the flooding of Israel with new immigrants who have yet to learn the lessons which took Israelis 50 and more years to learn, have undone any progress which has been made.

I disagree. The deterioration has been the inability of the Palestinians to focus on ending the conflict.

This is what you don’t seem to understand—that burying your head in the sand will lead to nowhere and is upping the stakes for everybody in the region in a dangerous manner.

I’m just giving an opinion that, I think, represents the average Israeli. But I certainly can’t vote or do anything politically.

Israel has strange bed fellows, parties which are not far off from neo-Nazism.

The Kach party was thrown out of the Knesset due to its racist stance. Which part are you referring to?

The question about the national anthem (not the flag…) is important because it shows how callous Israel is when it comes to thinking about the role of the Arab minority in the state.

Some say “The Pledge of Allegiance” is “callous”, as well as the scores of other national anthems. Why should Israel be any different with respect to their majority? Do you cry when your in the US?

It’s one thing when a European country in the 17th century was a 100% Christian and religiously so, adopts Christian national symbols.

Why is it Leftists have a different standard for Israel? Mind-boggling!

I am painting for you a picture of a dynamic that is still somewhat (if you are almost blind) subtle. Ignoring it now is perhaps ignoring the last chance of saving the (deeply flawed) Israeli democracy. Oh, but I forgot, you don’t really care.

Yossi,

I care about Israeli democracy. I just do not believe it is “deeply flawed”. I trust you’ll do your little bit of “Tikkun Olam” to fix your “flawed” state, if, just to sleep a little better at night,;)

Hag Sameach,

AP

March 27th, 2010, 10:53 pm

 

norman said:

Yosssi, Shai ,

it is unfortunate that there are only two of you in Israel ,

March 28th, 2010, 1:13 am

 

Husam said:

NORMAN,

I think there are thousands who feel the same way as Yossi and Shai – seeing the facts as they are. However, many of them will not be as vocal because of the backlash and retribution from their peers and state. The same goes for the Arabs in other states. People like A.P. do exist and they will munch like a beast on human flesh on anyone who utters any facts which doesn’t fit their hard core stance. I still think s/he is paid, because s/he always systematically deconstructs the comments in same fashion.

As for Obama, is it plausible that he has taken such a hard stance on Israeli settlements personally or is this some kind of planned drama for the Arabs to feed on. We all know the control comes from the upper echelon of power of which he is a puppet. What is going on?

March 28th, 2010, 2:40 am

 

norman said:

HUSAM,
I agree with you that AP is professional blogger , about Israel having many Shai, and Yossi , I really doubt that , we or the US can make them see the light but that needs pressure of some kind ,
About Obama , we should see what happen after the Summit , If Obama backs down then it was a drama but if he continues the pressure then it is real ,

March 28th, 2010, 3:15 am

 

almasri said:

I am glad there are such Syrians like Norman who are very realistic and are willing to advise other Syrians about how not to be naive.

March 28th, 2010, 3:42 am

 

Yossi said:

Akbar,

Having not answered even one (and that would include the Website question, if you are interested in substance) of the challenges which specifically show why Israel is not on par with other Western democracies (and again, this observation doesn’t assign “fault” to one camp or another), I can surmise that either you are being paid to trivialize the discussion or that this is the level of argumentation that you are capable for. I suggested the option which is more charitable towards you. Really, the discussion never rose above the level of citing Tibet (I guess you meant China) as a Western democracy which implements ethnical favoritism in its housing development policies. You say Israel is a Western democracy because it has freedoms, but you never rise to the challenge when I show you how these freedoms are available only partially and are highly dependent on what ethnic group you belong to.

The anthem example, again, is just very typical, you say “Why is it Leftists have a different standard for Israel? Mind-boggling!” where I specifically showed you where the differences in the situations lie and therefore the difference in positions of “leftists” such as myself. Again, if you need a reminder to what we were discussing, show me another Western country that has in its anthem words requiring the citizen to identify as a “Christian soul”. There aren’t any. Some of them talk about “God” in a very generic manner, which will be objectionable only to die-hard atheists. And even if there was such a Western country, it would *still* be very different from the situation in Israel because Israel from the get-go was created as a bi-national and multi-religion country (a minority of 20% cannot be thought of as anything else but making the country bi-national). The equivalent would be something like the national anthem of Germany saying that a German has a “protestant soul” or the Canadian anthem saying that the Canadian has “Anglo-Saxon soul”. This is pretty obvious to any Israeli you’d ask. They are all very aware that the anthem is not something that a Muslim or Christian can be comfortable with. They will not argue this point like you do. They will say something like “well that’s how we like it and if the Arabs don’t like it, they can go to Jordan”, which is really how Israelis feel about Arabs in Israel—that they are guests who are in the state as an act of generosity of the Jews, rather than with the rest of the refugees where they could and probably should have ended up, after 1948. Other Israelis, not few of them, will say “yes it sucks, it needs to be fixed”. It’s even not that difficult to fix, just replace the word “Jewish” with “Israeli”, that will allow for non-Jewish Israelis much more comfortably to identify with the anthem while at the same time even the word “Israel” has obvious Jewish roots, it just doesn’t go overboard with the religious tone. It just requires a little bit more flexibility to make a dramatic change. But we are going backwards, nobody seems to be capable of rational thinking any more. Similarly, you’re playing naïve with the discussion of the Nakba. You know very well that your buddies in the Likud and Lieberman’s party are hard at work to disallow such a discussion and to “erase it from the books” (this also goes back to freedom of speech in Israel). Again, we are going backwards. (I know you’re going to “ask for the link”, even though you read Israeli papers every hour of the day pretty much like I do. All in the service of trivializing the discussion and bogging it down in technicalities.)

Now, you’re getting “ticked” by the words “apartheid” and “colonist state”. The whole purpose of this discussion was to see whether we can agree on other countries which are similar in their level of institutionalized as well as informal racism so as to see as to whether the “apartheid” label has any merit, when applied to Israel. Had we reached the conclusion that Israel is “like Sweden” then we could say that if Israel is an apartheid state, then so is Sweden. We can, and should, do the same with respect to the term “colonist state”. My observation is that out of the 600,000 Jews who established Israel in 1948, an overwhelming majority arrived at the country at most 15 years before 1948, and around its establishment, the overwhelming majority of Palestinians, within Israel’s eventual boundaries (those of 1949), were driven out. I have never studied history or political science so I don’t know if there is a well-established term for this scenario. “colonist state” sounds apt to me. If you can suggest another term, we can discuss its merits.

About the neo-Nazi parties, I was talking about European and American parties who use a rhetoric not different from the one which was targeting the Jews in the early 20’th century. As an example, Karni Eldad, daughter of rightist settler MK Eldad was writing a few days ago how she hosted Dutch Islamophobe Pim Fortyn in her settlement house and how they were exchanging views about the horrid Muslims. Or the weird connection between Messianic Psychos such as pastor John Hagee and die-hard Zionist groups like “Im Tirtzu”. When these are your sworn allies, something must be really really wrong. Anti-Islamic chain mail is extremely popular in Israel. A few days ago somebody forwarded to me a screed by one professor Indrek Wichman. I’m not sure that the Israelis who forward this e-mail know that he is heading a chapter of the supremacist group Young Americans for Freedom, or that they cared too much if they knew. The mood is basically: “if they hate Muslim more than Jews, then we can use that”.

Oh and yes the Kach party was disqualified, and so where two Arab parties in the last elections, you know why? Because they advocated that Israel should be a truly democratic country of all its citizens. The disqualification was reversed by the supreme court. Who’s going to reverse such decisions when the court is “dealt with”? Can you think of another Western democracy which would disqualify a party for being “too democratic”? “Jewish and democratic” is just a syntactical ploy, like your arguments.

March 28th, 2010, 4:43 am

 

Yossi said:

Dear Husam and Norman,

I know that there are many more in Israel with similar opinions, but it’s indeed hard to be in this camp these days. The witch-hunt against the New Israel Fund demonstrates the fate that befalls those who work for the “country of all its citizens” vision. I don’t have a good prediction of how it will change in the future.

March 28th, 2010, 6:34 am

 

Shai said:

Yossi,

In general, I try to follow a certain rule whenever I run into differences of opinion – take out the terms or concepts of disagreement, and try to carry on with those that are acceptable. I think both Israelis and Arabs (including and in particular the Palestinians) should adopt this guideline with regards to Israel as “The Jewish State”.

If the Palestinians raise an objection to Israel as a “Jewish State”, they are legitimizing the argument, and more often than not causing Israelis to feel on the defensive, and less open-minded, flexible, and empathic. It seems, to most of us, a direct challenge of our existence or “historical right” to this land. If the Palestinians understood this point, they could only stand to gain by avoiding it altogether.

What people like Akbar and his Likud should be asked is simply: Why aren’t the Palestinians under Israeli control being given equal rights as all other Israelis? Have they ever been offered these rights? Have they ever rejected them? If, as Akbar argues, the status of the West Bank remains unclear (ya’ani, maybe it’s a part of Palestine, maybe part of Israel, maybe part of Mars), then while it is under Israeli rule, its “subjects” should certainly be treated as Israelis.

As for the Anthem, I fully agree with you – 100% of Israelis (not 99.9%) know that the words are uncomfortable for any non-Jew, and most of us either invent some excuse to make us feel better about it, or we simply ignore the issue even when raised.

Husam,

The issue with the thousands of “Yossi’s and Shai’s” in Israel is far more complex than merely backlash or retribution, or even as Yossi reminded us, the witch-hunt that has been going on for a while now. This is purely through subjective observation, not some empirical study, but my own belief is that most Israelis are very much living and functioning as if still a minority whose fate is determined by powerful rulers. We are, for all practical purposes, still very much the “sheep” we so fear ourselves to be, recalling the phrase “like sheep to the slaughterhouse” from the Holocaust.

We pretend to be powerful, self-determinant, and “Free”. But in reality, whatever our leadership says, we follow. If it’s the Left, we go Left. If it’s the Right, we go Right. With the exception of Begin’s misadventure in Sabra and Shatila, and Rabin’s assassination, rare are the moments a few hundred thousand Israelis have ever gathered in some square to voice their disapproval.

We buy into rhetoric easily, we almost never question our leadership (that can be easily seen recently, in the cases of Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2008/9), and even when we doubt action taken by this leader or another, we almost always keep it “at home”, or amongst friends. Not out of fear for retribution (Israelis do feel quite free to voice their opinions), but I claim out of certain numbness, or state-of-being, which holds us back.

In the U.S., if a State Governor would hint at raising State Tax half a percentage point, 200,000 residents would march with torches up the hill, to his/her house, to “voice disapproval”. In Israel, we’d shrug our shoulders, complain to our vegetable store owner until we’re blue in our face, and obediently pay the tax. I have yet to see a single Israeli march on “our Hill” (Jerusalem), to complain against sometimes-weekly substantial gas price increases. So how and why could we complain about killing 1,300 Palestinians in some “forced-upon-us” military operation in the winter of 2008?

It may be the case, that all of us will rise up and say “enough!”, only after Israel has paid a very heavy price. I hope to God I’m wrong, but it’s not always easy to argue against Norman’s thesis…

March 28th, 2010, 8:33 am

 

Husam said:

Almasri said:

“I am glad there are such Syrians like Norman who are very realistic and are willing to advise other Syrians about how not to be naive.”

Are you the “Arab” version of “AKBAR PALACE”? Asking others of their opinion doesn’t automatically render someone naive. This platform is for people sharing their thoughts, the facts, and analysis of various topics regarding Syria and M.E. Isn’t what this forum is about? I would tone it down if I were you. You have already offended many people here.

March 28th, 2010, 12:14 pm

 

Husam said:

Shai,

It is quite remarkeable that you are able to demonstrate and explain the reality as you see it, but isn’t the same “sheep” everywhere in the M.E. and not just in Israel. Perhaps we are always in a state of helplessness.

As for marching on Capitol Hill for taxes in the U.S. or protesting the war in Iraq the world over, what did they really achieve accept the policy maker’s grin from the window high above “stupid morons”. I strongly believe that people demonstrating nowadays is nothing more than a venting-out party. Is this freedom? The most million marchers can do is put a dent, at best, but the policy will go on.

March 28th, 2010, 12:48 pm

 

almasri said:

Egyptians who were naive for 31 years are now demonstrating openly in Egypt against what they call the treaty of shame, calling for its abrogation:

http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/C7DA01AE-29FC-4090-8983-530A876B24E2.htm

I wish somebody offended the Egyptians much sooner than having them live for 31 years as naives with a burden of shame. You’re welcome to carry the burden Husam. And no sir, I wouldn’t be labelled with such debasing labels as AP!!!

I know the forum is open to everyone, Husam. Do you have a problem with that? I did not mention you by name in my previous. So what pricked you to initiate? Are you so easily offended? Then may be you should look into the real reasons that make you so.

March 28th, 2010, 2:12 pm

 

Yossi said:

Shai, Husam

Substance is the most important, much more than labels. But the discussion of substance, will challenge exactly those labels that the Jews hold on to, such as “Jewish and democratic”. I personally believe that the term “Zionism” and “Jewish and democratic” can be stretched enough such that their substance is really democratic, but not sure that the path that avoids the hard questions is the one that will take the Israeli Jews in that direction. I don’t have good answers for what path will.

On the question of protest again government policies, there is one group though that still “marches on the Knesset” and is extremely vibrant: the settlers and their supporters. Let’s not forget what they were able to pull off before and during the disengagement from Gaza and the north West bank settlements of Amona and Sa-Nur. Another group which took a lot of people to the streets was the pressure group for the release of Gilad Shalit. These are just much more burning issues then some inequalities that have been in place more than 60 years.

March 28th, 2010, 2:21 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

Juan Cole’s Top 10 reasons why israeli jews have no rights to all of Jerusalem.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=18341

March 28th, 2010, 3:21 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Husam said:

Are you the “Arab” version of “AKBAR PALACE”

Husam,

I suppose if I were for ending Israel’s peace agreement with Egypt or for non-recognition of the Palestinians right to self-determination, I would be a “Jewish” version of “Al Masri”.

Ghat,

Juan Cole should know that he cannot define what a “people” are and what holy sites they can or cannot be holy to them. Similarly, Jews cannot tell the Palestinians what is or what is not holy to them.

Only people can define themselves.

March 28th, 2010, 3:53 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Shai and Yossi
While I did not have much time to write lately, I have been avidly reading your recent posts. I hope that your posts are being read everywhere within the neighborhood including in Israel.

Apathy, as seemed to be described by Shai may results from one of two diametrically opposed sources. Full confidence in the system and its ability so that the citizens feel less obliged to actively participate in any activity other than election, if at all. Or an utter lack of confidence in the system, hence feeling of helplessness and recognition that the price of participation is too high. Both cases are illusions, and both cases can not be overcome unless one gets out of the comfort zone and confronts difficult questions.

In the first case, the illusion is based on the assumption that it is sufficient for a system to be righteous (not necessarily in the religious scene) in the eye of its clients (e.g., Zionism and the Jewish people of Israel, Democracy in the US). In the second case, the illusion is based on the assumption that the system is un-defeatable or invincible (Arab countries, and surprisingly the US). Psychologically, the two illusions provide individuals and societies with a comfort zone in abrogating their responsibility and perhaps their rights.

AP
Much of the Coptic problem in Egypt is due to the rising fortune of Islamists, espctially in guilds such as the lawyers guild. The government, as well as religious leaders on both sides brush recent clashes under the rug by pretending that these are nothing more than the doing of “deranged person or group”. But some street confrontations have been deadly, and to an extent, the role of the security forces and/or police in allowing violence to take hold is debatable but not clear outright. While these clashes betray a deep problem, the lighting matches have always been related to personal status laws, which can not deal with the two-sided proselytizing actively practiced by both community due to arcane apostasy laws.

Most of what used to be “secular” Arab regimes have been attempting to co-opt the rising religiosity in Arab societies. While factors leading to this phenomenon vary such as the huge Arab workforce that has been influenced by wahabi ideology due to living and working in KSA for decades, the end result is a system that converts what used to be a source of strength (diversity) into a problem by having to declare the ruler as being not anti-islamic and at the same time as the “protector” of the minorities, mainly to avoid facing the difficult issues associated with minority rights, which can not be guranteed if any state is to call itself (some-religion democratic). This gives the impression that secularism is dead in these countries and that Islam is anti-secular. Some even bolster this argument by pointing that Secularsim in Islamic countries was advocated by early-to-mide-20th century Christian thinkers in the Arab world who were uncomfortable with their new nation states continuing the Islamic-state trend of the recently deceased Ottoman Empire, and that Muslims in general are anti-secular. The Syrian left-leaning liberal thinker Sadeq Jalal Alaazem refutes this by noting that when in minority, the Muslim population of any country fights for secular society and he points to India’s 135 Million Muslims, who have fought in every step to maintain a secular character of India’s democracy (as opposed to Hindu Democracy), as well as to Iraq’s sunni minority, who have recently voted overwhelmingly for Allawi’s secular coalition as an indication that secularism is in fact the only way for a democracy to survive, or thrive.

That said, I challenge you to find in Egypt, Turkey, or Iran, (the latter two by the way are not Arab countries) a government sanctioned and enforced housing policy that prohibit Copts or Kurds from buying or renting a house and living anywhere within these countries.

I believe that Israel is going through the same lack of courage last century’s Secular Arab Nationalist displayed. Nasser, in his most powerful moments ignored to declare secularism as the state’s official policy and decided not to fight the battle on behalf of women’s rights by abolishing the old Ottoman laws of Milla as well as personal status laws. Hafez Assad, who could have easily confronted the Islamists (politically) in his early days as an absolute ruler (with much public support in the early 70s), also opted not to abolish the old Ottoman laws and even unnecessarily compromised on the constitution by allowing the declaration of Islam as a key source for laws and accepting the article that excludes non Muslims from the presidency. Had your interest in promoting democracy been genuine, you would have noticed the great debate on these issues between Syrian posters (including many of my own posts). But it is very convenient to you, Chris, and AIG, to remain reflexive and to brand us all as regime protectors. It keeps you in your comfort zone. And no, I will not give you examples of these debates, Do as many of us do, and use the search engine, be creative in your key word selection.

March 28th, 2010, 4:15 pm

 

Shai said:

OTW,

Indeed Apathy is one of our greatest enemies. I believe in Israel it is out of a complex combination of both opposed sources you mentioned. On the one hand, a tendency to accept whatever the leadership says and does and, on the other hand, to distrust the system, both because of the extreme corruption experienced in recent years, and because all sides of the political spectrum end up making similar promises, and delivering nothing.

But what concerns me even more, is our leadership’s inability to empathize with the Arabs, the Palestinians in particular. By now, Sharon, Olmert, Livni, and even Netanyahu, have all said the Palestinians deserve their own state. And yet, we are incapable of understanding how our action on the ground delivers the opposite message. And how, quite effectively, we are brainwashing our own citizens into believing that the Arabs truly do not want Peace, turning them (our citizens) into Israelis who truly do not want Peace. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy, if there ever was one in this conflict. Of course, what few seem to realize, is that with each day that passes, a feasible two-state solution becomes more of an impossibility. That buffoon-of-an-ex-COGS (Ya’alon), is exercising fantastic self-deception, believing and telling others that time is on Israel’s side. Then again, he may be right, if deep down he truly prefers a one-state solution.

Yossi,

Unfortunately, since our leaders rarely demonstrate true ability to… lead, and the courage required to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, labels seem to be far more significant, than does substance. Labels are used all the time by our politicians, and they sell unbelievably well amongst their constituents. In fact, when was the last time you heard a good debate on TV, radio, or even newspaper, that talked real substance? When was the last time you read what Israel was offered by the Arab World, unanimously, on 3 separate occasions since 2002? Or what Syria proposed in unofficial talks, over a period of 3 years? Or what Israel’s own Intelligence chiefs were saying about the Golan as a strategic-necessity? Instead, we hear… labels. All the time. I especially love hearing them on radio interviews, almost regularly each morning. Our MK’s probably don’t spend a nanosecond reading the substance, and instead prefer picking their label-of-the-week, which best supports their personal agenda (meaning the one most likely to gain them a seat in the next election.)

But if what I’m saying is true, then that’s also fine. It simply means we have to market the truth, using labels. It’s true in Internet marketing (much due to the information overflow), and it’s becoming more and more true in the “real world” as well. We do not have the attention span required to talk substance. So any Opposition to this non-Peace government, may well have to adopt labeling to awaken the numb or apathetic Israeli.

I agree with you about the Settlers Movement, and to a lesser extent the Free-Shalit one. But these are still rare and irregular “spurts”, that relate to limited events. Maybe if Sharon had attempted to withdraw far-greater territories in the West Bank, and to forcefully remove many tens of thousands of settlers, perhaps there would have been a significant nationwide outcry, not sporadic demonstrations by teens at highway junctions and one or two major events in Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv. Certainly though, the Settlers are far more ready to voice their disapproval, than the rest of Israel. I guess they see what’s coming, even better than we do!

March 28th, 2010, 6:33 pm

 

Yossi said:

Shai, OTW,

I agree with OTW’s bi-polar categorization of the sources of apathy and I agree with Shai that in Israel there’s probably a mixture of both. The way I see it, on the one hand, when it comes to “security” or evaluating the true intentions of the Arabs, or thwarting threats, there is a great deal of trust of the government and the army, Mossad etc. and also an assumption that at any rate, discussion of these topics does not belong in the public sphere. On the other hand, when it comes to internal policies, there is distrust and disgust. However, the security concern always trumps everything else so the Israelis stuff their noses so that the corrupt leaders can diffuse so called strategic threats. Israelis view this as responsible and mature behavior and view whistle blowers as traitors.

Shai,

What’s you’re saying is true and accurate when thinking about marketing of political positions. However, the current government, in its zeal to legislate those labels as a sort of de-facto constitution, with laws such as the loyalty law, the Nakba law, the disqualification of Arab parties, etc. forces all sides to really define what they are talking about, when such laws are brought to the court to be interpreted. So paradoxically, the right-wing government exposes these topics for substantial discussion. It more clearly defines the surface area to be attacked, unlike the Mapainicks, who were always very artful weasels. The debate over building in East Jerusalem is a very clear example that shows that the current government is *not* more extreme than any government before it, just more honest and principled. This in turn, flushed out a dialog of substance between the US and Israel, which is really past due.

March 28th, 2010, 8:04 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Another Copt-Out?

OTW,

Thank you for posting the mini-history of Coptic life in Egypt. It was very interesting.

That said, I challenge you to find in Egypt, Turkey, or Iran, (the latter two by the way are not Arab countries) a government sanctioned and enforced housing policy that prohibit Copts or Kurds from buying or renting a house and living anywhere within these countries.

Israeli-Arabs can live almost anywhere they want in Israel. Most prefer to live in Arab communities. Of course, if an Arab or secular Jew moved into a religous community like Mea Sharim or Bnei Brak, they may very well get harrassed.

Here’s some info addressing the myths of Arabs not being able to purchase or lease land in Israel (it also covers land puchasing laws in Palestine and Jordan):

http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=7&x_issue=5&x_article=39

http://www.jpost.com/Home/Article.aspx?id=76207

Arabs moving into Jewish settlement:

http://israelmatzav.blogspot.com/2006/05/arabs-moving-to-pisgat-zev.html

To Yossi,

French law prohibiting renting to Jews:

http://www.jta.org/news/article/2007/03/01/100268/Vichyapartmentlaw
http://www.jnewswire.com/article/1739

Last I heard, France is a “Western” country…

March 28th, 2010, 8:39 pm

 

Yossi said:

Akbar,

Another “Tibetan” argument? Very funny… I think I understand your strategy, it’s basically saying, no matter how preposterous or partial your answer is going to be ALWAYS HAVE THE LAST WORD. Well, you’re not going to have the last word in *this debate*, and your debacle of silly answers will follow your reputation with a “quick link” any time you’ll dare peep that Israel is a Western democracy.

Back to our business, racist house renting laws in France… indeed, our fine boys at the ADL were able to send an undercover agent to the premises of said landlord in Nice (what was his name BTW?!), pretending to want to rent a property… here is what our microphones captured:

Agent: Bonjour monsieur! I wish to rent one of your lovely Nice beach front properties!
Landlord: Bon! we have plenty of those, Monsieur… quel?
Agent: Ah. Levy, Alber Levy monsieur.
Landlord: Oh pardon Monsieur Levy, you see we have recently discovered that by effect of a tragic accident, the bylaws of this property have remained unchanged since the time of the Vichy government, and therefore, my dear sir, I will not be allowed, legally, to rent the apartment to you, because you seem to be Juif, n’est-ce pas?…
Agent: mais c’est impossible!
Landlord: …however, if you were willing to ehm.. donate… some money to the ehmm… maintenance… of our “public jardins” I may let this one slide, you know… it will be 1,000 Euro extra every month. OK?
Agent: you anti-Semite bastard just you wait till Abe Foxman will be done with you! Just wait and see!

Muffled wrestling noises… fade out…

Akbar, while I agree it’s disturbing to find a relic from Nazi times in a municipal by-law, I’m sure that—if true—it was the result of bureaucratic negligence and it’s totally impossible that anybody ever tried to enforce such a by-law (cause that would be patently illegal in France). The outrage seems to be well manufactured for purposes of employing it in situations like the one we’re having right now, between you and me. There is absolutely no similarity between a bureaucratic relic that is unenforceable and was probably fixed the moment it was discovered, and a deliberate government policy to create Jewish-only settlements, in Israel and in the West bank, and the Golan. Over Israel’s existence hundreds of settlements have been created, all virtually closed to Arabs. Exactly *zero* Arab settlements have been created during the same time. Even if we buy your argument that Jews and Arabs would like to live in separate communities, then if the government was allocating resources equally, it would have created at least fifth of those settlements for Arabs. Not only haven’t it done so, it has expropriated private Arab land, uprooted people from their villages (e.g., in Biram and Ikrit) and has refused to “recognize” Arab settlements and connect them to basic infrastructure. The “illegal outposts” in the West bank receive better infrastructure than unrecognized Arab and Beduin villages in Israel which have existed since before the state was established or have formed as a result of removing people from their original villages.

You have no shame bringing an urban legend about “discriminatory laws in France” a country which by its constitution is thoroughly secular and egalitarian, and comparing it to the oppressive Zionist technocracy. This is the face of Israel Akbar, and it’s no urban legend (emphasis is mine and my comments are in square brackets):

http://www.counterpunch.org/cook03232010.html

Israel’s “No Renting to Arabs” Policy

he Zakai and Tarabin families should be a picture of happy coexistence across the ethnic divide, a model for others to emulate in Israel.

But Natalie and Weisman Zakai say the past three years — since the Jewish couple offered to rent their home to Bedouin friends, Ahmed and Khalas Tarabin — have been a living hell.

“I have always loved Israel,” said Mrs Zakai, 43. “But to see the depth of the racism of our neighbours has made me question why we live in this country.”

Three of the couple’s six dogs have been mysteriously poisoned; Mrs Zakai’s car has been sprayed with the words ”Arab lover” and the windows smashed; her three children in school are regularly taunted and bullied by other pupils; and a collection of vintage cars in the family’s yard has been set on fire in what police say was an arson attack.

To add to these indignities, the Zakais have spent three years and thousands of dollars battling through the courts against the elected officials of their community of Nevatim, in Israel’s southern Negev desert, who have said they are determined to keep the Tarabins from moving in.

Last week the Zakais’ legal struggle looked like it had run out of steam. The supreme court told the two families the Tarabins should submit to a vetting committee of local officials to assess their suitability – a requirement that has never been made before by the Negev community in the case of a family seeking to rent a home.

“The decision of the committee is a foregone conclusion,” Mr Tarabin said.

Chances for Jews and Arabs to live together — outside of a handful of cities — are all but impossible because Israel’s rural communities are strictly segregated, said Alaa Mahajneh, a lawyer representing the Zakais.

Israel has nationalised 93 per cent of the country’s territory, confining most of its 1.3 million Arab citizens, one-fifth of the population, to 120 or so communities that existed at the time of the state’s creation in 1948.

Meanwhile, more than 700 rural communities, including Nevatim, have remained exclusively Jewish by requiring that anyone who wants to buy a home applies to local vetting committees, which have been used to weed out Arab applicants.

But Mr Mahajneh, from the Adalah legal centre for the Arab minority, noted that legal sanction for such segregation was supposed to have ended a decade ago, when the supreme court backed an Arab couple, the Kaadans, who had been barred by a committee from the community of Katzir in northern Israel.

Although the Kaadans were eventually allowed to move into Katzir, the case has had little wider effect.

In fact, Mr Mahajneh said, the decision in the Zakais’ case suggests “we’re going backwards”. The Kaadans won the right to buy a home in a Jewish community, whereas the Tarabin family were seeking only a short-term rental of the Zakais’ home.

The Zakais said they had been told by the officials of Nevatim, a community of 650 Jews a few kilometres from the city of Beersheva, that it would not be a problem to rent out their home.

Mrs Zakai brought the Tarabins’ ID cards to the community’s offices for routine paperwork. “When I handed in the IDs, the staff looked at the card and said, ‘But they’re Muslims’.” [Akbar, remind me to ask you which other Western democracy makes it possible to see whether somebody is Jewish or not by inspecting their ID cards. In Israel, only Jews have their Hebrew birth date noted on the ID, so as to distinguish non-Jews] Later, according to Mrs Zakai, the council head, Avraham Orr, rang to say he Arabs would be accepted in Nevatim “over my dead body”.

[…]

Akbar, France had Jewish ministers and prime-ministers. When Israel has an Arab prime-minister, I will grant you that Israel is “like France”. Not beforehand.

On the question of the Copts in Egypt: I have Copt friends, and while they have complained of the inequality of Copts, these complaints seem to be localized to a few issues (such as, the special permits needed to renovate and build churches). In day-to-day life, they feel like all other Egyptians. They went to the same schools, lived in the same neighborhoods, served together in the army and their circle of friends contains both Muslims and Christians. There is absolutely no comparison between the level of integration of Copts in Egypt, and their identification with the Egyptian state, to that of the Arabs in Israel.

Akbar, Egypt has had Copt ministers, including Boutros Boutros Ghali who was foreign minister. When Israel will have an Arab foreign minister, instead of the racist Lieberman, then Arabs would be as equal to Jews in Israel, as Copts are equal to Muslims in Egypt.

If anybody is “Copt”-ing out, that would be you. A short examination of this threads shows you’ve provided responses, feeble as they are, only to a minority of the challenges brought before you.

Come on, try again, see if you can have the last word in this debate.

March 29th, 2010, 12:06 am

 

Husam said:

Almasri:

Perhaps you did not intend your message to me personally, however “naive syrians”, or someone saying “stupid Egyptians”, or “cheap Jews” will likely offend many others here. Note: again you are on the verge of offending by asking me to look for “the real reasons”. What should I look for in particular? Can you help? Every couple of days, you get warned to ease off and stop jumping on people and reacting like a kid. Just today Alex told you to stop demonizing all “JEWS”. Do you not learn? Stop grouping people, race, etc…and stop thinking that everyone is alike.

Yes, this forum is open to everyone, you are welcome to say what you want but their are rules (kindly re-read them) and I think the majority (save for AP) are civilized.

Please, just take it easy.

March 29th, 2010, 12:36 am

 

almasri said:

Husam,
You look like a lawyer to me. Please, correct me if I`m wrong. I`ll then answer your questions.

March 29th, 2010, 12:43 am

 

Husam said:

Shai, Yossi, OTW:

I read your analysis very thoroughly and find them thought provoking.

I have said before that I am not anti-Israeli but anti-Zionism. There seems to be confusion with such a position on the Arab street because Israel was founded via the Zionist movement and everyone tells me that it has nothing to do with just Israel as it is today. As an Arab, my objection to Zionism is not imbeded with todays Israel`s right to exist but with the “expanionist threat”. Having crafted a heavy handed pro-zionist politicians in Washington in the past century, the Arabs fear the expanionist agenda is and will be implemented sooner or later.

So how can we talk peace, equality, labels, apathy, etc…when the very foundation of Israel was and continues to be done in stages (i.e. settlements)? We have all seen the famous map carving out inch by inch which uprooted generations of Arabs from their livelihood. Yet, perhaps there is another map for the next century: “Greater Israel”. And lets not forget the collateral damage: the Palestinians; the stage can be very well set up that the next 50 years, it will be another Arab state consumed in the the quest for land. It will be a generation or two, and no one will be discussing Palestinian issues, that will be history. This is what the average Arab sees, hears and feels.

Lets look at it from another angle, take out Zionism from Israel, and what do we have left? Isn’t it paradoxical?

March 29th, 2010, 1:25 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Yossi’s still in Debating Mode

Yossi,

I’m not here to say Israel is perfect. I’m here to say Israel isn’t as bad as many other countries. And, I suppose the confusing thing for me is, why all the attention here on Israel, when other countries do the same or worse.

Thanks for bring up the story of the Zakai and Tarabin families. Assuming the story is accurate, it is an embarrassment and disgusting story. What these people have done is troubling.

Yossi, you said:

Akbar, France had Jewish ministers and prime-ministers. When Israel has an Arab prime-minister, I will grant you that Israel is “like France”.

Once again, thank you for pointing out something new to me (Leon Blum) and the French tradition of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” and, oh, “anti-semitism:

On 13 February 1936, shortly before becoming Prime Minister, Blum was dragged from a car and almost beaten to death by the Camelots du Roi, a group of anti-Semites and royalists. The right-wing Action Française league was dissolved by the government following this incident, not long before the elections that brought Blum to power [1].

Blum became the first socialist and the first Jew to serve as Prime Minister of France. As such he was an object of particular hatred to the Catholic and anti-Semitic right, and was denounced in the National Assembly by Xavier Vallat, a right-wing Deputy and sympathizer of the Action Française (later Commissioner for Jewish Affairs in the Vichy wartime government), who said:

“Your coming to power is undoubtedly a historic event. For the first time this old Gallo-Roman country will be governed by a Jew. I dare say out loud what the country is thinking, deep inside : it is preferable for this country to be led by a man whose origins belong to his soil… than by a cunning talmudist.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A9on_Blum

Getting back to the story of the harrassed family, and after further thought, there undoubtedly are communities that do not want the “other” to live among them. These could be Arab villages as well as Jewish towns. And although it is no excuse, “when in Rome, do as the Romans”. Trying to fight a whole town is useless.

But there are mixed cities like Haifa and Tel Aviv. When I lived in Ashdod years ago, and met an older couple where the man was Arab and the wife was Jewish. They lived in a flat in the center of town.

Lastly, I noticed the article was written by Jonathan Cook, who is a notorious anti-Zionist as seen in his own words. He is critical of Israel due to its “original sin” and Zionist “mythology”, yet he writes comfortably from Nazereth, Israel without being thrown out. A testiment of Israel’s freedoms.

Jonathan Cook’s own words.

In ‘Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair’, published by Zed Books in autumn 2008, I examine the enduring themes of Zionist colonisation of Palestine. I argue that Israel has developed and refined policies to disperse, imprison and impoverish the Palestinian people in a relentless effort to destroy them as a nation.

It argues that, threatened by predictions that the combined Palestinian population inside Israel and the Occupied Territories will soon outnumber the region’s Jews [not doing a great job of ‘destroying’], Israel decided to create an expanded fortress state, where only Jewish blood and Jewish religion count.

http://www.jkcook.net/

Jonathan Cook also wrote an article with the non-surprising title:

When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?

October 9, 2008
by Jonathan Cook

http://www.antiwarblog.info/2008/10/09/when-and-how-was-the-jewish-people-invented/

March 29th, 2010, 1:54 am

 

Husam said:

Almasri:

How my “profession” matters to what your next comment should be? Are you afraid of me suing you for defamation? Seriously, dude give it up. I am not a lawyer. I don’t want to fight or argue with you on petty tit for tat.

BTW, as a Syrian, I have no burden to carry. Hafez Assad did not make “unilateral” peace with Israel like Egypt did, neither will Bashar. And even if he did, why would that be the burden of someone, like myself, who had no say or power in anything any government does? (Voting, the only power a citizen has been manupilated nowadays. Voting machines all over the world have been hacked. Diebold voting machines used in USA are made in Israel, need I say more? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Vvq_YseZVc ).

Peace with Israel must come comprehensively from all, or at least, the majority of Arab States for it to work and last. But heck, we Arabs can`t agree on a loaf of bread and always compete like we are doing now; it won`t come in our life time.

Almasri, please don’t waste your energy on me I am not on your roof.

March 29th, 2010, 2:33 am

 

Yossi said:

Nice try to change the topic Akbar.

Nobody claims that there was no anti-Semitism in France, especially in the 30’s. When Israel appoints its first Arab prime minister, or any other significant ministerial position, then even if he/she will be attacked (let’s guess by whom…), then still I will grant you that Israel will have been at equal footing with France of the 30’s (but not yet close enough to France of today!).

Yeah, try to sling mud on the messanger, Jonathan Cook, a brave reporter, who seldom makes any error in his reporting. This is all besides the point, the topic was also covered by Jewish “Kosher” reporters so what’s your point. And it’s not that this incident is unique in the rejection of the Arabs, it’s unique in that the Arabs even dared try.

Besides that, you are repeating exactly what I said, Israel is not perfect, there are some instances of co-existence, it’s better in the big cities etc. I have no argument with this characterization, I have brought a few nice examples of co-existence to Norman and even made the claim that the Israeli public is ready for more. That’s not the point. Our debate is whether Israel is similar to other Western democracies, when it comes to treatment of minorities. You made the claim that it is, but failed to refute even one of the numerous examples which show that any such comparison is impossible at the current state of affairs.

I don’t believe you really care how groundless your argumentation is, but just for the sake of other readers, you could have similarly made the claim that Apartheid South Africa was a Western democracy. Why not? If you visited and stayed off the bad places you’d see immaculate cities with a thriving and free people, with “high literacy rate”. If someone had pointed to you that blacks and whites live in separate towns, with the white towns getting much more funding and development, you’d dredge up the “French story” etc. I mean, really, the work of a propagandist is not that hard… You say you are passionate about Israel but your argumentation is so mechanical that it seems you’re fully detached emotionally. You’re just doing your job.

Back to our topic: you have failed to build a case. You haven’t refuted any of my points and I have shown you how your points are irrelevant, and really, pathetic.

Try again, I know you’ll have something to say. That’s how it works. I get it.

March 29th, 2010, 2:40 am

 

almasri said:

Thanks Husam. I now understand you. And no, I wouldn’t be afraid of you suing me.

I will also remember that even democracy has been hacked by those plotters seeking to detroy ‘civilization’. We’re doomed. That’s what they’ve doing in Iraq the last couple weeks, right? Testing those machines? Poor Iraqis! that’s what they get for coloring their fingers violet?

So, long live Hafiz, and long live Bashar who I admit both never burdened the Syrians with a shame equivalent to our unforgivable shame. So keep on counting your blessings.

Mubarak and many others seem not to have much left in them. So I will not waste any wishes one way or another on them – useless.

Benign dictators – that’s civilization’s only hope for survival. Who wants his vote to be tampered with? Who on earth dreamed the idea that voting can actually produce good leaders? Or even good governments?

Thanks for an invaluablde and revealing tip.

March 29th, 2010, 3:02 am

 

Shai said:

Dear Husam,

Your two paragraphs in 129 should be read by every Israeli and pro-Israeli, twice, every day after getting up and before going to bed. It says so precisely what we have difficulty understanding – that the Arabs have already “accepted” Israel – but not Zionism. That for the Arabs, Zionism (as they see it) is the root of evil between us, not Judaism, not even Israelis who do not subscribe to this Zionism.

But you must also understand that just as the phrase “Jewish State” is such a sensitive one to Israelis (fearing the Arabs want to kick us Jews out), so too is the term Zionism. To most of us, Zionism isn’t about Greater Israel or expansionism. That’s what extremists always wanted, not the majority of us. The reason even liberal Leftists call themselves Zionists (and they clearly are against the Occupation, or holding on to a single inch of Palestinian or Arab territory), is because to them Zionism means establishing a Homeland for the Jewish people, that’s it. It doesn’t mean settlements, it doesn’t mean 43 year Occupation, it doesn’t mean holding on to the Golan, it doesn’t mean expanding Israel’s borders.

But suggest to Israelis that Zionism is evil, and 99% will unite against you, fearing your intentions against the State of Israel and its people. Whenever Ahmadinejad says “Zionism”, we hear “Israel”. Even the Arabs leaders have stopped using “Zionism” or “Zionist Entity” in their rhetoric, quite likely because they understand this point.

So, as I suggested above, I think this term should be removed from the debate. Talk about Expansionism, about Occupation, about ruling over another people, about Arab rights, etc. Just leave out “Zionism”, and you’ll gain a larger audience in Israel who could hear you.

I admit that even I sometimes have difficulties debating someone who repeatedly mentions Zionism as the root of all evil. I find myself arguing something I don’t want to argue. Look at the real absurd here – even that buffoon Ya’alon (who’s certainly on the extreme right of Likud) mentioned in his interview that he’d be willing to “divide the nation”, under certain circumstances. And look at other Likudnicks – Begin, Sharon, Olmert, Livni, and even Netanyahu. They all gave back land, or stated their belief in this inevitability. Sharon himself told the electorate (and won that election) that “Forget the dream of a Greater Israel…” If most Israelis disagreed with him, he would not have been elected. They would have elected Ehud Barak, Leader-of-the-Left, who thus far approved more Settlements than any other PM in Israel’s history!

Thanks again for your comment, Husam.

March 29th, 2010, 5:46 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Akbar’s points are “irrelevant”, and “really, pathetic” (con’t)

Yossi states:

Nice try to change the topic Akbar.

Yossi,

I didn’t realize that I changed the topic. Aren’t we still talking about Israel’s “crimes”, while I am still futilely taking up for the indefensable, Zionist Project?

Nobody claims that there was no anti-Semitism in France, especially in the 30’s.

And no one claims there isn’t anti-Arab hatred and anti-Jewish hatred within Israeli communities.

When Israel appoints its first Arab prime minister, or any other significant ministerial position…

Since you are so intent on comparing Israel to the West, I’m not aware of any case in the West where a minority people in said Western democracy claimed that their home country was illegitimate while several neighboring countries of said minority were still officially at war with their home country. Moreover, said minority was still represented fairly in their home country. I recall the US, for example, set up camps for Japanese-Americans, this never occurred in Israel during their 60+ years of war…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Arab_members_of_the_Knesset

Yeah, try to sling mud on the messanger, Jonathan Cook, a brave reporter, who seldom makes any error in his reporting.

There is nothing “brave” about being an anti-Zionist. While holding a microscope on the Israeli government, Cook prefers to ignore completely Arab governments and terror organization, their abuses, and the real security concerns Israel faces. Nothing “brave” about that.

This is all besides the point, the topic was also covered by Jewish “Kosher” reporters so what’s your point.

Thank G-d we have organizations like CAMERA that detail the vast amount of inaccuracies that seep into the media from the anti-Israel press.

Our debate is whether Israel is similar to other Western democracies, when it comes to treatment of minorities.

Like I said, I still believe Israel is MORE like the West, and in some cases, BETTER than the West.

There are many cases of extreme racism in the West over the past 60+ years, and these Western countries never came close to the threats that Israel has to put up with.

I don’t believe you really care how groundless your argumentation is… Back to our topic: you have failed to build a case. You haven’t refuted any of my points and I have shown you how your points are irrelevant, and really, pathetic.

So if I’m making such as bad case, why are you spending so much time refuting my claims? I guess, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

March 29th, 2010, 12:06 pm

 

Husam said:

Shai,

Thanks for your encouragement. Are you willing to remove Hamas as as a threat to Israel unequivocally? Or, will you advocate taking them off the terrorist list? You are asking me do remove Zionism off the Arab threat “source of all evils” that is an extremely hard thing to do with the current situations on both sides.

Shai, perhaps you are aware that there maybe a misinterpretation to Ahmadinijad stating to wipe Israel off the map: “Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad.” He was refering to “rezhim-e” which in Farsi means the “regime” most likely Zionist regime. So even the most hard core of them never mentioned Israel as a state. This adds further credibility to my previous comment. Someone is playing both sides to believe something diffferent from the reality.
I have said before and continue to believe deeply (I know you don’t agree with me on this) that what you and I desire will only come when there is a balance of power!

March 29th, 2010, 3:18 pm

 

Shai said:

Dear Husam,

I am absolutely against Israel’s (and the U.S.’s) policy vis-a-vis Hamas. I believe Hamas should be recognized as the legitimate party that won the democratic elections and, therefore, as the official representative of the Palestinian people. If there was a way to open dialogue with Hamas, I’d do it immediately. Unfortunately, I doubt it’s possible before Fatah and Hamas mend their differences. This is another reason I’ve been pushing so hard to go the Syrian route first.

I actually agree with you, certainly in Israel’s case, that change will occur only when there is balance of power. But, I do believe that a perceived one is also sufficient and, here, I believe we differ. Btw, I believe most commentators on SC do not understand their perceived strength in Israel. Syria doesn’t need to get stronger militarily – it is already viewed as a serious threat to Israel. There is already a balance of power between Israel and Syria, even if most Syrians do not see it. Therefore, Syria’s rhetoric, if used wisely, can certainly influence Israelis.

It is true that the Palestinians haven’t achieved this balance of power and, chances are, they’ll never achieve it. But this is why I think Israel must first withdraw from the Golan and whatever half-village still remains from Lebanon and then, when we’ve made peace with Syria and Lebanon, pressure from the outside could be applied positively upon Fatah, Hamas, and Israel. When the Palestinians will see Israel’s readiness to withdraw to the 1967 lines, and when Israel will see the Arab world signing the next peace agreements with her, enough renewed hope and optimism could be created to fuel the last remaining battle in our quest for Peace – the formation of a Palestinian State.

I believe this is the route to take – not to hopelessly await the two-state solution first.

March 29th, 2010, 7:40 pm

 

almasri said:

Husam,
I hope you can now see the b******t.
You should know by now what all that means. It simply means that you will have to carry the burden of shame we’ve carrying for 31 years. This is what I meant when I said you’re welcome to carry the burden of shame.

Look Husam. All zionists are made the same. There is no difference between so-called left or so-called right. We dealt with all brands of this species during the last 31 years. Believe me they are one and the same. There is one simple definition for a zionist which does not need going into too much details and getting bogged down. S/He is a land thieve. That is all s/he is. Keep that in mind and that’s all you need. I advise you to visit the website of Dr. al-Massiri, one great Egyptian who passed away.

http://www.elmessiri.com/

You will find some of the best research and articles in Arabic about this evil movement. I could tell you, you would appreciate the time you spend on that website much much more than having to digest all the b******t that you get fed from professional zionist bloggers who migrate from all corners of the earth to Palestine, participate in the ethnic cleansing of our brothers, and then sit down behind computer screens and pontificate to Arabs on how to swallow this zionist abomination into the Arab psych while getting paid by their benefactors. Are you getting paid to participate in this absurdity? I’m sure you’re not. Come on man, does this little girl mean anything to you?

March 29th, 2010, 9:20 pm

 

Husam said:

Almasri:

My speakers are not working, I will review the link soon. I do hear your agony and I am on the same page with you about the left and the right game. But that is exactly what Shai is saying. It goes the same way in the U.S., Canada, etc….

I may be wrong, but I can’t think of any dignified, legal form of government nowadays.

There are land thieves everywhere in the world even in Syria 🙂 so simplifying a zionist as a land thief is a drop in the ocean from their true idealogy. However, some people die with their idealogy and others change…they have a rude awakening, something happens in their personal life, etc… If you want the world to see things from your eyes/standpoint, you must also be willing to see things from theirs whether you like it or not. Just like you, they think they are right!

I don’t like to use the word “all” because you get caught with it as they are always “exceptions”. What can one person like Shai or Yossi do? They are trying to reach out, they are not happy with what transpired.

Also Almasri, I don’t think it all happened 31 years ago, it was much older than that. Don’t you think we should blame our own leaders and people in power who sucumbed to this plot from day one? Palestinians did sell their houses prior to 1948. They got dupped. Money motivates people in ways more than you can imagine. Should I talk about the materialistic Gulf or S.A? I mean some litterally burn money in the fireplace for fun. I used to blame the west and colonization for our ills in the M.E. but now I look more inward at our own. We have been bought!!!! They sold us out dude. Egypt gets a few billions of dollars a year to shut up.

It is true that a plot (based on facts not theory) is being orchestrated on the M.E. due to the rise of Islam, Oil, Messaiah or whatever. We have the power to confront and defend but we are too busy pointing fingers at each other and enjoying our lap dances and golden toilet seats. It is a shame.

Don’t get too stressed out, everything that rises will fall. Until doomsday, things seem to fix themselves due to the circular nature of our being.

March 29th, 2010, 11:01 pm

 

almasri said:

Ya habibi ya Husam,

I feel ashamed when I read you saying Palestinians sold their houses. Did you check the facts? Or are you repeating heresay? I do not have links handy at the moment. But this propaganda of Palestinians selling houses before 1948 is the biggest bulls**t in this whole saga. I will try to find links for you with proper documentation so you wouldn’t fall into this zionist trap again. But I’m sure if you search you will also find it on your own. They are all over the net. I can see now that your information is way outdated and contaminated with the zionist lying machine.

And tell me, please, what kind of reach out do you call what you’re referring to? Zionists sitting behind their desks all day long broadcasting zionist propaganda specifically targeted to certain Arabs? We dealt with them long before you and we know who they are and exactly what they want. And yes it can all be reduced to land theft. That’s all it is. It is all self centered and self serving interests. I did mention previously that a zionist has only one interest in mind which is to serve his own self even at the cost of destroying others, which we have clearly witnessed.

It doesn’t matter how some rich ingnorant materialistic gulf shiekhs behave. The problem of Palestine is still our problem to deal with. It is not a matter of who has more money. All of us, Arabs, will eventually be judged by history and by our successors. Hafez has already been judged and he passed the test with high marks. I’m sure Bashar will follow in his footsteps. Likewise, Sadat has received his judgement and it is not a very honorable one. He brought shame upon us and himself.

March 30th, 2010, 12:25 am

 

Yossi said:

Akbar,

Take a breather while I’m celebrating Pesach with my family. I’ll be right back at it after that. You WILL NOT HAVE THE LAST WORD! YOU WON’T!

March 30th, 2010, 12:47 am

 

Husam said:

Almasri:

You may be right, it may be heresay. I can’t find any backup. I heard this from my mother, I shall ask her where she got this information, if she can remember at her age :). I can tell you that I am sure it did happen sporadically between 1915-1937, where unsuspecting landowner sold out, but perhaps that was not the norm.

I also read the peel commission report of 1937 and there was no evidence that the Palestinians themselves sold land to Jews.

If anyone can link us to proofs, go ahead.

Almasri, thanks for the note. I stand corrected.

March 30th, 2010, 4:27 am

 

almasri said:

This should answer your question Husam:

http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Maps/Story571.html

I could go on and provide you with hundreds of links that would show data and facts supporting the above. But, one is as good as many.

The other point, I’m sure you’re aware of, you cannot buy a State. For example you cannot come to the US or Syria or any other country and start accumulating real estate and then declare a State based on your ownership of huge chunk of land. The partition plan was just a plan and doesn’t provide legitimacy for such a State either. You could see from the data above that the Arabs had a very good reason to reject the plan, even based on the flawed argument that buying land provides such legitimacy.

March 30th, 2010, 6:48 am

 

Badr said:

It is not a matter of defining what a “people” are, and what holy sites can or cannot be holy to them. It is rather saying that so-called “historical facts” may not be facts after all!

March 30th, 2010, 9:25 am

 

almasri said:

BADR,
Try to convince a Palestinian living in a refugee camp, Gaza, WB or Diaspora with your philosophy. It is easy to become philosophical from behind a computer screen, especially if one is sitting on a comfortable chair.

March 30th, 2010, 3:44 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

Are israeli companies buying up real estate in the Sinai?

A major headline on a worldwide website.

Foreign control of large swathes of the Sinai Peninsula obtained through fraud
and Israeli involvement.

It has been alleged that foreign control of large swathes of the Sinai Peninsula has been obtained through fraud. The claim was made by Egyptian writer and intellectual Fahmi Howeidi, who revealed that over “800 sq.km of the peninsula has been obtained by foreigners, including Israelis, by fraudulent means”.

An additional 1000 residential units in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh’s have also come under foreign control fraudulently. The land deals in question have been concluded by an Egyptian corporation that is, claimed Mr. Howeidi, a front for a German company which used eleven lawyers to “fix 450 judicial rulings through which the registration and payments outside Egypt took place successfully”.

In an article published by the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Row’ya (The Vision), Mr. Howeidi said, “The worst aspect of this case is that all these agreements were in favour of Israeli owners and companies.” In such a situation, he said, we are looking at something far more serious than “tourism and foreign investment; it becomes a scheme with political ramifications obvious to everybody”.

At a time when the Egyptian media has warnings about Palestinians crossing illegally into Sinai, he added, Israelis are working in secret to put their hands on whatever they can get from real estate and lands in the Egyptian Sinai.

Howeidi drew attention to the fact that this is not the first such case, “as the Syaj corporation was accused similarly when it bought 6500 square meters of land located on the Taba borders and it appeared that one of the financiers of the deal was the Israeli Lemerre Company”.

It was later also discovered that one of the participants in this was a former Israeli general who had published two articles in American newspapers in 2000 and 2002 saying that the ruling in favour of Egypt on land in Taba did not help Israel’s national security and that it should be reviewed in order to address this “gap”.

March 30th, 2010, 4:31 pm

 

norman said:

Israel Threatens Lebanon
A New Middle East War?
By CONN HALLINAN

When Israeli Minister without Portfolio Yossi Peled said recently that a war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah was “just a matter of time” and that such a conflict would include Syria, most observers dismissed the comment as little more than posturing by a right-wing former general. But Peled’s threat has been backed by Israeli military maneuvers near the Lebanese border, violations of Lebanese airspace, and the deployment of an anti-missile system on Israel’s northern border.

The Lebanese are certainly not treating it as Likud bombast.

“We hear a lot of Israeli threats day in and day out, and not only threats,” Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told the BBC. “We see what is happening on the ground and in our airspace…during the past two months—every day we have Israeli airplanes entering Lebanese airspace.” Hariri added that he considered the situation “really dangerous.”

The increasing tension was behind the recent visit to Beirut by Senator Philippe Marini, French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s special envoy to Lebanon. After Marini met with Hariri, Christian Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, and Hezbollah leaders, the envoy said that he feared a Hezbollah-Israel rematch could easily become a regional war.

Rhetoric all over the region is heating up.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman first said that Israel would never return the Golan Heights to Syria, prompting Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem to comment that Israel “should not test Syria’s determination.” Lieberman responded by taking direct aim at Syrian President Bashar Assad: “In the next war, not only will you lose, but you and your family will lose the regime.”

Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006 following a Hezbollah raid that captured two Israeli soldiers. The 34-day war cost Lebanon more than 1,000 dead, and tens of billions of dollars in damage to bridges, roads, airports, and towns. But the war also saw the once-invincible Israeli Self-Defense Forces (IDF) fought to a bloody standstill, and a barrage of some 4,000 Hezbollah rockets into Israel.

Many in the Israeli military would love to re-establish the IDF’s reputation by beating up on Hezbollah, but the Shiite-based militia has broad support throughout Lebanon, as the last elections demonstrated. While the “pro-western” March 14 Movement won the most seats—largely as a result of ethnic gerrymandering—the Hezbollah bloc won the most votes. In any case, the March 14 Movement has begun to unravel with the defection of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.

Lebanon is a deeply fractious place, but an Israeli attack would unite the country as it did in 2006. “I think they’re [Israelis] betting that there might be some division in Lebanon if there is war against us,” said Hariri, “Well, there won’t be a division in Lebanon. We will stand against Israel. We will stand with our own people.”

Lebanon’s military is no match for Israel. It has a small army and its air force consists of two grounded 1950s vintage Hawker Hunter fighter-bombers, plus a motley collection of helicopters, most of which are not operational. In the 2007 fight with Islamic extremists in Tripoli, Lebanese Army soldiers pitched bombs out of French Gazelle helicopters by hand.

As the IDF found out in 2006, however, Hezbollah is a different matter. Of course, a massive Israeli ground invasion would overwhelm the group’s militia, but any occupation of South Lebanon will conjure up old nightmares for Tel Aviv. It was Hezbollah’s roadside bombs and ambushes that drove the IDF out of the same area in 2000.

The Israelis are threatening to flatten the entire country if it comes to war—“taking off the gloves” as Israel military analyst Yisrael Katzover puts it—and they certainly have the capabilities to inflict a stunning amount of damage. But Hezbollah claims it has some thunder of its own. Hassan Nasrallah, the group’s leader, vows to bring Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport under fire if Israel bombs Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport as it did in 2006. “If you hit our ports, we will hit your ports,” Nasrallah said Feb. 21.

According to Israeli intelligence, Hezbollah has 42,000 rockets, some with the range to hit Tel Aviv and targets further south. Whether the group actually has that many rockets is unclear. Israel tends to pump up the threat its antagonists pose. In any case, Hezbollah certainly has rockets and demonstrated its ability to strike northern Israel in 2006. If Nasrallah is to be believed, it may be able to bring central Israel under fire as well.

Does the war have the potential to become regional?

Only if Israel decides to make it so. While the Netanyahu government talks about Hezbollah being little more than a cat’s paw for Iran and Syria, the group has deep roots in the country’s long-repressed Shiite majority. It does receive arms from both Damascus and Iran, and Teheran also gives the group about $200 million a year in aid. That is, however, a tiny portion of Hezbollah’s annual budget.

Lebanon’s Shiites are also quite different than their Iranian counterparts. While Iran’s mullahs dominate civil and economic matters, Lebanon’s Shiites are suspicious of direct involvement in government, because they believe that it will ultimately corrupt Islam. A number of Iraq’s Shiites, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, come from a similar current in the Shiite sect.

Hezbollah is quite aware of the damage that Israel can inflict, and, is consequently unlikely to do anything provocative. As Azmi Bishara, a Palestinian and former Israeli Knesset members writes in Al-Ahram, “Hezbollah has made it clear it intends to avoid giving Israel any excuse to go to war.”

As for Syria, the last thing Damascus wants is a war. Its economy is humming, its careful diplomacy has lifted it out of isolation, and over the past several months world leaders from France and Spain, and regional governments—including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey— have beaten a path to President Assad’s door. When U.S. Special Forces violated the Syrian border while looking for al-Qaeda terrorists last year, the Assad government’s response was a mild protest. When Israel bombed a site in northern Syria, the Damascus government did nothing. Syria has nothing to gain, and much to lose, from a war.

Israel has moved its new Iron Dome anti-missile system to its northern border, even though the original plan was to deploy it in the south to intercept rockets fired from Gaza. The system is supposed to be up and running by June. “Making Iron Dome operational will transform Israel’s diplomatic and security situation,” says Israeli Defense Ministry director general Pinhas Buchris.

Given that Hezbollah has not fired a rocket at Israel since the summer of 2006, why would Tel Aviv move Iron Dome to the northern border unless it was to assure the Israeli public that it will not come under fire in the advent of a new war? In any case, Iron Dome is unlikely to transform anything, since anti-missile systems tend to be more about hype and hope than performance.

There is, of course, the possibility that the Israelis will bet the house and hit Lebanon, Syria and possibly Iran’s nuclear facilities. The rhetoric coming out of the Netanyahu government ties all three countries together, which is why Peled lumped Syria with Lebanon. The standard line coming out of Tel Aviv is that Iran is behind everything, including Hamas.

Any rational reading of the Middle East makes that charge difficult to credit. Iran commands neither Syria nor Hezbollah, and while Teheran might provide arms to Hamas, a radical Sunni organization is unlikely to go to war because a Shiite government told it to. The only one of those parties that might welcome a war with Israel is Iran, but only so that the Ahmadinejad regime can use it as an excuse to crack down on internal dissent.

Many in the Israeli establishment openly advocate attacking Iran. Danny Yaton, former head of Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, told the German Council on Foreign Relations “The entire world should take military action to prevent Iran from getting the bomb.”

The Sunday Times (London) reports, “According to well-placed sources, Israel is speeding up preparations for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.” The Israeli daily Haaretz says that the Netanyahu government is asking the Obama administration to supply Israel with GBU-28 “bunker buster” bombs and refueling tanker aircraft, both which would be essential for a strike at Iran.

But some in the Israeli military establishment seems reluctant to launch such an attack. Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, an Israel war hero and a man the Sunday Times calls a “pillar of the defense establishment,” says that Iran is a “very, very, very long way from building a nuclear capacity.” Eilam charges, “The intelligence community is spreading frightening voices about Iran,” and that such an attack would be “counter productive.”

Maybe this is all saber rattling aimed at getting the U.S. to step up the pressure on Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Maybe, as Eilam charges, it is all about the IDF getting “a bigger budget.” Maybe it is a diversion from the charges that Israel committed war crimes in its invasion of Gaza, its settlement building on the West Bank, and the diplomatic storm it has reaped from its assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai.

But ramping up the rhetoric of war in a volatile region can lead to a misstep—by accident or design—and once the dogs of war are off their leash, it will be hard to bring them to heel.

Conn Hallinan can be reached at: ringoanne@sbcglobal.net

March 30th, 2010, 4:34 pm

 

Badr said:

ALMASRI,

I should have indicated that my comment was in response to comment no. 121 by AKBAR PALACE, and I don’t proclaim to know the true history of Jerusalem .

March 30th, 2010, 7:04 pm

 

almasri said:

BADR,
I apologize.
I should have made the connection. But, normally, the person in question is deliberately ignored by most so that s/he wouldn’t get entertained with the false satisfaction that s/he really has a valid argument.
But some also try to make fun of him/her, as I presume was your case.

March 30th, 2010, 7:37 pm

 

Husam said:

Ghat:

That is an excelent piece, but so corrupt. Few points here:

One, Egypt made a huge mistake at camp david. Jordan fell for it too, and trust me, a lot of Israeli investors there slurping it up
Two, I don’t see any Egyptain or Jordanian investment and massive aquisitions in Israel…go figure. The Arabs have no interest in Israeli assets but Israelis have interest on Arab land.

And we are suppose to believe that the Grand Plan “Expansionist Greater Isreal” is gone. I suspect it is not gone, and it is not even dormant.

March 31st, 2010, 1:44 am

 

Yossi said:

Oy vey Akbar… (@135)

When are you going to listen, my little propagandist…

The topic we have been discussing has been whether Israel is comparable to Western democracies or not. It has not been, as far as I’m concerned, an attack or defense of the Zionist project. From your perspective if you can’t show that Israel is as democratic and progressive as Sweden, then that would be a failure, and therefore you’d make any ridiculous argument possible rather than concede that perhaps Israel is in a different league.

Your point about the antagonism of the Arab minority is exactly the same one I’ve been making in this thread. THAT is exactly why Israel is different. It’s not that the people in Israel are inherently evil, they are simply stuck in a situation that is extremely demanding and problematic. Our ancestors put us there either because they thought they were very wise or because they thought they didn’t have any other choice. But that’s it. And as I said I don’t expect other nations to have done better in these circumstances. But that’s exactly the point, you can’t create a Disneyland of Israel where there is still war, where the Arab minority is still seething from the Nakba and all the humiliations of loss and just day-to-day suspicion and discrimination. And of course, a full Apartheid regime in the OPT.

You bring the representation of the Arab MK’s, as if the Arab parties were ever invited to join a coalition, and of course completely ignoring what I said in a previous thread about the disqualification of Arab parties. You just pick and choose what you respond to whereas I dismantle each and every argument you have to make. Let me add another one to your pile: the Knesset had a discussion a few days ago about “Oley Hagardom” the Jewish terrorists who were executed by the British for attacking British and Arabs, civilians too. When an Arab MK said that they were terrorists, he was removed from the chamber. So much for freedom of speech. It’s a regime that is an enemy of the truth. I bet you also didn’t know that while the Israeli Arabs were not interned like the Japanese in America, they did leave under military rule and constant curfew between 1948 and 1966. It wasn’t much better than camps. And let’s not forget that there are more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel prisons, some of them minors, many of whom detained on flimsy charges and without a trial.

Jonathan Cook and CAMERA have nothing to do with our topic, enough with the diversions.

You’re saying “Like I said, I still believe Israel is MORE like the West, and in some cases, BETTER than the West.” The fact you say it but provide zero backing, just illustrates that you are either a propagandist or just very irrational. Take your pick. Like I said, the weakness of your argument shows because I could have easily replaced “Israel” with “South Africa” in your argumentation and it would make about the same amount of sense.

Israel goes way beyond “extreme racism” and I have provided ample evidence for that. It’s a country that is wholly dedicated to the preferential treatment of one ethno-religious group over others. It’s not isolated episodes. It’s a country that has been ruling over millions without representation and provision of basic rights and in contravention of international laws and conventions. It is a country that goes on periodic punitive campaigns which leave hundreds dead and thousands maimed, orphaned and homeless.

I’m spending my time refuting your pathetic claims because it is a crime to let a shameless person like yourself, a person whose whole ideology is an insult to the principles of the American constitution, the Israeli declaration of independence and basic Jewish values, have the last word. I don’t care if we agree or not, you will not have the last word on this one, and you will not be able to mask your miserable arguments by changing the topic.

March 31st, 2010, 6:43 am

 

Yossi said:

Akbar,

After your attempt to move our debate to a different thread (I presume in an effort to de-contextualize and trivialize it, i.e. by “escaping” from the substantial material I have provided herein to expose the vacuity of your claims) we are back in the right place…

For completeness, I have told you this on the other thread:

“Akbar @17 and @55,

I will respond to your latest batch of shallow argumentation later. Sit tight. My answers will appear in the thread where we’re been having the rest of the discussion. Here:

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=5835

The discussion on the topic will happen there, and I’d like to explain why and also comment on your performance and my attitude towards you.

The reason we will have the continuation of our discussion back in the original thread is three-fold

First, as much as I’d like to drag your bottom and put you to shame through the comment section of each thread, some sanitation is in place. Taking the garbage out is healthy, but the trip from the kitchen to the dumpster doesn’t have to include every room in the house. So I will do my bit for hygiene by containing our discussion, and especially your ridiculous half of it, in one place.

Second, it would help me immensely to have a single point of reference when it will come to summarize my triumph over your excuses of arguments.

Third, it will provide me with an accurate metric of the tenacity with which you’re willing to peddle your propaganda. I will be able to easily count how many times you have failed to respond to the same argument and repeated your “arguments” after they have been thoroughly refuted.

As to the form of my discourse in our debate:

I do not wish to attack you personally, but I can’t believe that you believe your arguments of the form 2+2=5. Especially after having been demonstrated where your mistakes are. Because you are making the same arguments repeatedly, completely ignoring my refutations, if I were pressed to make a judgment call about why that happens, I would have to assume that you, as a person, are either a propagandist or very stupid. There is no other choice, and I know you are not stupid. I could have stuck to characterizing your arguments, instead of you, and I’d actually much prefer that, but here’s the problem with that: when you ignore MY arguments and repeat yours as if I never refuted them, you’re giving me very little respect, and really wasting my time. Because you are hurting my personal interests, by forcing me to repeat the same things over and over without any hope of making forward progress, I have no choice but to expose your motives for doing so. You can always take the higher path and start replying to the point, conceding a point when you have to and not repeating the same argument while ignoring a refutation of the same argument, which I have taken time to write FOR YOU to read, understand and internalize or at least take into account. When you will provide me with the courtesy of an intelligent debate, it will be reciprocated. It’s that simple.”

And now, I shall demonstrate to you how this criticism applies to your latest comments.

You said:

“You presented 5 “challenges” to show how Israel is not like or isn’t “comparable” to any Western country:

Challenge #1: name another county in the West which is building new settlements specifically for one ethnic group (e.g., the Jews) and consistently prevents members of the minority from joining such new settlements.

I mentioned the examples of Northern Island and the American internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2.”

To that I reply: I have explained to you many times already that the discussion is whether Israel is similar to a Western democracy *today*. If you wish to say that Israel is comparable to the US during WWII I’m willing to have this discussion but that’s not what we are discussing here nor what you mean when you say that Israel is a “Western democracy”. When you say that, you mean to say that Israel’s standards of democracy *today* are similar to those of other contemporary countries.

You DID NOT mention the Japanese internment as a response to challenge #1 but as a general indication that Israel is no worse than the US, but nor is it a good example of that, since this episode was very time bound and before and after it was in effect, Japanese Americans were (and are still today), free and equal Americans.

You DID NOT mention Ulster previously (why lie Akbar?), nor am I sure what in Ulster would constitute a refutation of the first challenge. Please be more specific.

You DID mention “Tibet” a great embarrassment to you, which understandably you don’t repeat.

Your current crop of arguments failed to address my points about the Japanese internment and is also inaccurate (or is a lie), since you haven’t brought Ulster before at all, and the Japanese internment was not brought as an answer to challenge #1, as you maintained.

For your reference, this is what I said about the Japanese internment in comment #151: “I bet you also didn’t know that while the Israeli Arabs were not interned like the Japanese in America, they did live under military rule and constant curfew between 1948 and 1966. It wasn’t much better than camps. And let’s not forget that there are more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, some of them minors, many of whom detained on flimsy charges and without a trial.”

Try again, and try this time try to address my points and be more accurate.

You said:

“Challenge #2: name another Western country in which immigration laws discriminate between potential immigrants’ members of the majority’s religious affiliation and that of the minority’s.
I mentioned the case of Austrailia adn Europe:

http://www.angelfire.com/in/roachworld/Aus3.html
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1017/p06s02-woeu.html”

You DID NOT previously mention “Europe”, another lie I suppose, nor would there be any merit to that, since European countries do not limit immigration based on ethnicity and religion, although many right-wing populists advocate for that. The article you linked to mentions that France will be accepting *less* immigrants, not that it will be discriminating in any way.

You did previously mention Australia and I responded saying: “Whatever policies Australia USED TO HAVE is not pertinent any more. We are talking about the present.” Australia today has large Asian and Mid Eastern populations and it certainly doesn’t discriminate based on religion or ethnicity in its immigration policy. Preference of the skilled and educated is not discrimination on the base of ethnicity or religion, of course.

So, again, your response is inaccurate (why did you lie Akbar, about mentioning “Europe”) and doesn’t have any merit. You can try again, but do mind the argument I have brought forth, and cut down on the lies.

You said:

“Challenge #3: name another country in which citizens who are born in the country may not bring their foreign spouses into their country based on the country of origin of the spouse.

I admited that I didn’t know of a Western country that practiced that, but I responded that in most Arab countries, an Israeli cannot enter.”

Good, so that’s settled: you have no relevant answer for this challenge.

You said:

“Challenge #4: name another Western country, in which the Education Ministry, among other ministries, does not offer a Web site in the native language of a 20% minority.

I posted an Arabic website from the Israeli Education Ministry. You chose to ignore it.”

You keep lying Akbar, that’s against your religion. I certainly DID NOT ignore it, this is what I had to say about it: “Well well… To demonstrate to you what a different debate culture can look like, let me say on the outset: you have located the Arabic language Web site of the Israeli Education Ministry. And thus, technically, you have answered the challenge!

However… you’d note that the Hebrew Web site is updated daily, is colorful and dynamic whereas the main page for the Arab site is… the address book for the heads of the divisions of the ministry (all Jews by the way). The links mostly point back to Hebrew content. Some links are broken. The link to the main Arabic site from the main Hebrew page doesn’t work in Chrome (all the other links do work). It’s a picture of neglect and half-ass’d investment, which is very typical.

I’d urge you to compare the situation in Israel to that in other WESTERN DEMOCRACIES with a 20% minority which speaks a different language have to offer to the minority. Canada for example.

But like I said, you have technically answered the challenge! Congratulations.”

You were then very happy to rest on your laurels, completely ignoring the substance of what I said: that the Web site is basically not functional, and that this is typical of all public service in the Arabic language. You said:

“You asked me to:

name another Western country, in which the Education Ministry, among other ministries, does not offer a Web site in the native language of a 20% minority.

And I showed you and web site from the Israeli Ministry of Education that was fully in Arabic.”

How mature Akbar. This has been the quality of your debate all along. So I will summarize it this way: Israel is a democracy for its Arab citizens the same way that it services them with government Websites and the same way you care about their functionality and usability—not more than a lip service to the concept of democracy.

You said:

“Challenge #5: name another Western country whose national anthem requires the person singing it to identify as a member of the majority affiliated religion.

I posted a website showing scores of religiously-oriented flang and ANTHEMS from western countries. You chose to ignore this as well.”

The problem with your answer to this challenge, Akbar, was that it didn’t answer the challenge. And the reason you didn’t answer the challenge, was because it is impossible to do so. You have indeed pointed to a Wiki page which claims that some national anthems of Western democracies have Christian themes but this is not true. All these anthems simply cite the protection of “God” which is a very abstract concept that certainly no 20% of the population will feel uncomfortable with. I have written to you:

“You haven’t named another WESTERN DEMOCRACY whose national anthem requires identifying as part of the majority’s religion (or ethnicity). I would require a complete answer to name the country and provide the lyrics which will meet the challenge.”

To which you replied: “And I responded to a list of several countries (including Western countries) that have religious symbols in their flag as well as their “national anthem”.”

Again, completely missing the point: which country? What lyrics?

I have responded with: “The question about the national anthem (not the flag…) is important because it shows how callous Israel is when it comes to thinking about the role of the Arab minority in the state. It’s one thing when a European country in the 17th century was a 100% Christian and religiously so, adopts Christian national symbols. But it’s a different thing when you establish a new country, with a fresh and unresolved refugee problem and a large minority. When they chose the lyrics of the HaTikva for the anthem, they didn’t think for one second, whether non-Jewish people will be able to sing it or not, and what would be the price they’d had to pay for keeping loyalty to a country that forces them to bow to Jewish symbols. We are very proud as Jews of how we never agreed to bow to a cross, even in the cost of our lives, but we didn’t have any qualms about putting our future neighbors and partners in the state in the same predicament. This is shameful and should have been fixed many times by now, if the Jews in Israel had any brains in their heads, and were not just setting themselves up to be the next crusaders.”

YOU have completely ignored what I said and replied with: “Some say “The Pledge of Allegiance” is “callous”, as well as the scores of other national anthems. Why should Israel be any different with respect to their majority? Do you cry when your in the US?”

I have patiently answered, again, with this very detailed answer: “The anthem example, again, is just very typical, you say “Why is it Leftists have a different standard for Israel? Mind-boggling!” where I specifically showed you where the differences in the situations lie and therefore the difference in positions of “leftists” such as myself. Again, if you need a reminder to what we were discussing, show me another Western country that has in its anthem words requiring the citizen to identify as a “Christian soul”. There aren’t any. Some of them talk about “God” in a very generic manner, which will be objectionable only to die-hard atheists. And even if there was such a Western country, it would *still* be very different from the situation in Israel because Israel from the get-go was created as a bi-national and multi-religion country (a minority of 20% cannot be thought of as anything else but making the country bi-national). The equivalent would be something like the national anthem of Germany saying that a German has a “protestant soul” or the Canadian anthem saying that the Canadian has “Anglo-Saxon soul”. This is pretty obvious to any Israeli you’d ask. They are all very aware that the anthem is not something that a Muslim or Christian can be comfortable with. They will not argue this point like you do. They will say something like “well that’s how we like it and if the Arabs don’t like it, they can go to Jordan”, which is really how Israelis feel about Arabs in Israel—that they are guests who are in the state as an act of generosity of the Jews, rather than with the rest of the refugees where they could and probably should have ended up, after 1948. Other Israelis, not few of them, will say “yes it sucks, it needs to be fixed”. It’s even not that difficult to fix, just replace the word “Jewish” with “Israeli”, that will allow for non-Jewish Israelis much more comfortably to identify with the anthem while at the same time even the word “Israel” has obvious Jewish roots, it just doesn’t go overboard with the religious tone. It just requires a little bit more flexibility to make a dramatic change.”

So as you can see I have explained to you why your answer didn’t meet the challenge: you didn’t name a single Western country whose anthem’s lyrics are so oppressive for a 20% minority. Nor can you. I have provided great detail on how Israel’s situation is different than that of more established Western countries which have their flags selected many centuries ago. And I certainly DID NOT ignore ANY of your arguments. This is another one of your LIES.

You on the other hand have ignored almost all of my answers to you, including this one: “We are very proud as Jews of how we never agreed to bow to a cross, even in the cost of our lives, but we didn’t have any qualms about putting our future neighbors and partners in the state in the same predicament.”. How would you feel if the Christian majority in the US forced you to sing “glory to Jesus” as the national anthem? Shame on you.

You said:

“then told you that you 5 CHALLENGE QUESTIONS still do not tell the whole story. Your 5 CHALLENGE QUESTIONS do not determine which country is more Western or more Middle Eastern.

I asked you why you didn’t consider asking about BASIC FREEDOMS, like freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom of the press, and freedom to vote. I believe these are better examples of what makes a country “WESTERN”.”

In all of my answers to you I have given you multiple examples of how BASIC FREEDOMS are eroded in Israel. I have cited the disqualification of Arab parties, the muzzling of Arab MK’s during the commemoration of the Jewish terrorist bombers, the curfew on Israeli Arabs been 48 and 66, the incarceration of political dissidents, the lack of equality of opportunity in housing and in allocation of other government resources, the religious oppression embodied in the state’s symbols, the stifling of the right for life and family through the ban on marrying spouses from certain countries or areas. These are just a few that I mentioned in passing. I challenge you to bring any particular freedom that you’d like to discuss and we can do so. I am not at all opposed to that. But let’s not forget one thing: I haven’t taken out the heavy artillery yet: Israel’s residents in the OPT, who live without many BASIC FREEDOMS for 42+ years. I have really just been soft-balling you till now with my focus on Israeli Arab citizens.

You said:

“I appreciate you spending the time to respond. I think the argument is a good one and a positive factor for the Syria Comment forum, where Syrians have yet to experience the kind of freedoms we have here in the US and Israel. I aslo do not discount that fact that these two democracies have come a long way and STILL have a way to go, especially Israel. I have said that considering the REAL security concerns Israel is faced with, I think she has done a GOOD job.”

And my response to that is: I agree. Like I said, it could have been a lot worse. More on this below when I discuss the France/Algeria comparison.

You said:

“Using words and phrases like “pathetic claims”, “shameless person”, that my “ideology is an insult to the principles of the American constitution, the Israeli declaration of independence and basic Jewish values” [how so I wonder?], and “miserable arguments” doesn’t make YOUR argument any better. I suggest YOU respond to my points instead of relying on personal attacks.”

I have shown above how you have earned these “accolades” by using LIES, ignoring MY arguments and showing complete lack of sensitivity to the people Israel has under its boot. Israel’s policies have betrayed its declaration to run a state that provides equality to all. And so does, of course, the American constitution which is dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Israel provides these freedoms to its Jewish citizens by cleansing and oppressing its Arabs citizens and non-citizens. The Jewish heritage is also famous for these same concepts. Do you make the connection now?

You said:

“It is no wonder PBS calls Turkey and Israel, “Western-Style Democracies”…

Both Israel and Turkey are Western-style democracies with regularly scheduled elections. But Israeli Arabs and Turkish Kurds experience political restrictions, as these groups are seen as threatening to both the security and the identity of the state.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/globalconnections/mideast/themes/politics/index.html”

Yes, very big BUT. They are both MECHANICALLY democratic but not with the same level of freedoms that is available in other Western countries. A reminder: Turkey’s democracy is “chaperoned” by the army. A comparison between Turkey and Israel will yield much closer results than the one you are trying to make between Israel and let’s say, Spain. The comparison between the OPT and Northern Cyprus is almost perfect, too.

You said (or was it AIG?):

“Another example came to mind. The French war with Algeria. It seems to me you are trying to change the parameters of the debate. When we compare two things, we say they are similar when we are in a similar situation and we would do the same thing. You agree with me that Israel is acting no different than any Western country in its situation, so how is Israel not similar to Western countries?

If Israel would be in France’s situation it would act like France. If France would be in Israel’s situation it would act like Israel. In fact, given the fact that France killed nearly 1 million people in Algeria, I put it to you that Israel is acting much better than France in the same situation. The difference is that the French could go home. Israelis have nowhere to go. What I am presenting to you are facts that clearly prove that Israel is better than France because in similar situations Israel acted much more humanely.

QED”

Akbar we can have any one of these two possible discussions. But I have a feeling that when you are advocating for Israel and you say that “Israel is just like any other democracy”. You mean to say that it applies to the standards of democracy as they are perceived *today*. e.g., if France was still occupying Algeria, then it would have come under great pressure too to stop that, and it would not be able to say that it’s “just like any other country in Europe”.

I have no argument with the observation that Israel is on par or slightly better than the way other democracies WERE half a century ago (including South Africa, France and Switzerland). In fact I said exactly that in comment #96, guess you weren’t paying attention. I also said, in comment #107 that it’s possible that if other countries will be under the same circumstances that Israel is under, then they would perform worse the Israel currently does.

The France/Algeria comparison to Israel is indeed very educational. It shows us that:
1. France has had the potential to be worse than Israel currently is.
2. Israel has a chance of catching up with France’s standards if it does the right things, and if the Arabs cooperate.

But this really says nothing about the difference between France or Israel today, and is also thoroughly hypothetic in terms of the assumption that Israel can catch up with France. It’s not bound to happen. I personally wish it would, but I think it will not. Israel doesn’t have the basis of secular egalitarianism that would allow it, nor does it have a buffer between itself or its enemies, or any strategic depth, nor can it offer a compelling exchange for the people it has cleansed. So yes, Israel is in a similar situation to that of France, but with less options. Life’s tough. I didn’t say it was all Israel’s fault that it’s not democratic. There is just very little room for juggling in the mess created by the early Zionists. So the first thing that will go out the window, will be the semblance of democracy. Now we have these pathetic endless debates. Soon it be a hell lot clearer what’s going on, I’m afraid.

So yes, but all means, choose which comparisons you’d like to make. I’m all in agreement with you that comparing today’s Israel to today’s France is NOT an apples to apples comparison—that’s been my point all along!—while comparing today’s Israel to the France of the 50’s IS an apples to apples comparison.

I hope you’re happy you made me retype the same things for the 10rd time after you have lied more than once about my alleged lack of response to your superficial arguments. Your last attempt at changing the methodology of the discussion was cute, too. I believe this is AIG’s contribution. “The ghost in the machine” as they say. Send my regards and ask him what’s the weather like in “Ramat HaSharon”. You bunch of pathetic systematic liers.

My summary, if it needs to be repeated, is that your arguments have become more defenseless and therefore you have resorted to lies and unfounded accusations. If I had any doubts about you being a paid propagandist, they are quickly disappearing.

April 1st, 2010, 7:58 am

 

Yossi said:

The Troll Has Been Defeated

Akbar said:

“Yossi,
Because it is not my intention to get personal, I hereby declare you victorious. You win the argument. Israel is not like any Western country. Israel is much worse. In fact, your country is a terrorist state.
Now that we have that taken care of, I will continue posting here, asking questions, pointing out factual errors, anti-semitism, and providing my opinion all at the discretion of Alex and Professor Josh. IMHO, they allow me to post here because I’m not as articulate as other past posters. Anyway, just make sure you’re wearing a mask and rubber gloves so you don’t get infected.;)
Sincerely,
AP”

Unable to answer any of the questions brought up to him, Akbar runs away with his tail between his legs, blaming his retreat on the fact things have become “personal”. The truth is that things became personal when Akbar started using lies and diversions as my previous comment clearly documents.

It is a tedious but satisfying task to corner a troll until it runs out of steam. I recommend doing it every once in a while, it’s a public duty, like army reserve of jury duty, something that is done for the common good.

THE END.

April 2nd, 2010, 5:23 am

 

jad said:

Yossi,
Congratulations!

April 2nd, 2010, 5:32 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

The truth is that things became personal when Akbar started using lies and diversions as my previous comment clearly documents.

Yossi,

Congratulations for a job well done.

BTW – What “lies” are you referring to?

April 2nd, 2010, 11:10 am

 

jad said:

AP, Go read the link that Yossi left you 3 times already and you will get all your answers, just accept your defeat already 😉
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=5987#comment-235336
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=5835#comment-235347
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=6013#comment-235406

April 2nd, 2010, 12:34 pm

 

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