Demo in Damascus: Assad Explains Syria Stand

Hundreds of thousands rally in Syria to protest Gaza attack. The Government sponsored demonstation attracted a very large crowd that expressed its anger against Israel and Egypt and support for Syria, Hizbullah, and Hamas. Sana claims that a million gathered but AP quotes others saying less; all the same, Syrians did not need encouragement to express their anger and frustration over events in Gaza.

Demonstration in Damascus

Demonstration in Damascus


President Assad’s interview on CNN

Comments (244)

Observer said:

I would say that this truly sums it up nicely. As I said before, and as Nick Kristoff said today in the NYT, this will only generate more violence and radicalism. As conventional weapons fail, we may very well see the use of nuclear weapons. As this fails, I believe the urge for Israel to attack Iran becomes greater. If that were to happen, it will surely mean the end of the ME as we know it today.

Three Simple Proposals
Gaza Seen From Paris

There are surely millions of us, invisible to each other, enraged and powerless as we watch the massacre of Gaza and listen to our media describe it as a “retaliation against terrorism”, “Israel’s right to defend itself”. We have reached a point where answering the Zionist arguments is both useless and unworthy of humanity. So long as it is recognized that the shells landing on Ashkelon are likely to have been fired by descendants of the inhabitants of that region who were driven out by the Zionists in 1948, talk of peace is a smoke screen for continued Israeli assault on the survivors of that great injustice.

What then is to be done? Yet another dialogue between “moderate” Arabs and “progressive” Israelis? An umpteenth “peace plan” to be ignored? A solemn declaration from the European Union?

All such mainstream gestures are mere distractions from the ongoing strangling of the Palestinian people. But more radical demands are just as futile. The call to create an international tribunal to judge Israeli war criminals, or for an effective intervention by the United Nations or the European Union will accomplish nothing. The real existing international tribunals reflect the relationship of forces in the world, and will never be used against the cherished allies of the United States. It is the relationship of forces itself that must be changed, and this can be done only gradually. It is true that Gaza is a dire emergency, but it is also true that nothing really effective can be done today to stop it, precisely because the patient political work that should have been done before still remains to be undertaken.

On the three modest proposals that follow, two are ideological and one is practical.

1. Get rid of the illusion that Israel is “useful” to the West.

Many people, especially on the left, persist in thinking that Israel is only a pawn in an American capitalist or imperialist strategy to control the Middle East. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Israel is of no use to anybody or anything but its own fantasies of domination. There is no petroleum in Israel, or Lebanon, or Golan, or Gaza. The so-called wars for oil, in 1991 and 2003, were waged by the United States, with no help from Israel, and in 1991 with the explicit demand from the United States that Israel stay out (because Israel’s participation would have undermined Washington’s Arab coalition). For the pro-Western petro-monarchies and the “moderate” Arab regimes, Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands is a nightmare, which radicalizes much of their populations and threatens their rule. It is Israel, by its absurd policies, that provoked the creation of both Hezbollah and Hamas and that is indirectly responsible for much of the recent growth of “radical Islam”.

Moreover, the plain fact is that capitalists as a whole make more money in peace than in war. It is enough to compare the profits made by Western capitalists in China or Vietnam since making peace with those countries, compared to the past, when “Red China” was isolated and the US waged war against Vietnam. The majority of capitalists could not care less which “people” must have Jerusalem as its “eternal capital”, and if peace were achieved, they would hasten into the West Bank and Gaza to exploit a qualified work force with few other opportunities.

Finally, any American citizen concerned with the influence of his or her country in the world can see quite clearly that making enemies of a billion Muslims in order to satisfy every murderous whim of Israel is scarcely a rational investment in the future.

Those who consider themselves Marxists are among the first to see in Israel a simple emanation of such general phenomena as capitalism or imperialism (Marx himself was much more cautious on the matter of economic reductionism). But it does no service to the Palestinian people to maintain such fictions – in reality, like it or not, the capitalist system is far too robust to stake its survival on the Jewish occupation of the West Bank, and capitalism has been doing just fine in South Africa since the end of Apartheid.

2. Allow non-Jews to speak their mind about Israel

If support for Israel is not based on economic or strategic interests, why do the political class and the media passively accept whatever Israel does? Many ordinary people may feel unconcerned by what happens in a faraway country. But this does not apply to the West’s leading opinion makers, who never cease criticizing what is wrong with the policies of Venezuela, Cuba, Sudan, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, Islam, Serbia, Russia or China. Even unproved rumors and gross exaggerations are repeated with insistence. Only Israel must be treated with kid gloves.

One explanation offered for this special treatment is Western “guilt” for past anti-Semitic persecutions, in particular the horrors inflicted on Jews during the Second World War. It is sometimes pointed out that the Palestinians are in no way responsible for those horrors and should not have to pay the price for crimes committed by others. That is true, but what is almost never said and which is obvious nevertheless, is that the overwhelming majority of French people, Germans or Catholic priests today are just as innocent of what happened during the war as the Palestinians, for the simple reason that they were either born after the war or were children at the time. The notion of collective guilt was already very questionable in 1945, but the idea of transmitting that collective guilt to subsequent generations is quite simply a religious notion. Even if it is said that the Holocaust should not justify Israeli policy, it is striking that the populations who are supposed to feel guilty for what happened (the Germans, the French and the Catholics) are most reticent to speak out.

It is strange that at the very time the Catholic Church renounced the notion of Jews as the people who killed Christ, the notion of the almost universal guilt for killing the Jews began to take over. The discourse on universal guilt for the Holocaust is like religious discourse in general in the way it legitimizes hypocrisy, by shifting responsibility from the real to the imaginary (on the model of “original sin” itself). We are all supposed to feel guilty for crimes committed in the past about which, by definition, we can do nothing. But we need not feel guilty or responsible for crimes being committed right before our eyes by our Israeli or American allies, whom we can hope to influence.

The fact that we are not all guilty of the crimes of the Third Reich is simple and obvious, but needs to be driven home to allow non-Jews to speak up freely about Palestine. As it is, non-Jews who often feel they must leave it to Jews, as the only people who have the “right” to criticize Israel, to defend the Palestinians. But given the relationship of forces between the Jewish critics of Israel, and the influential Zionist organizations claiming to speak for the Jewish people, there is no realistic hope that Jewish voices alone can save the Palestinians.

However, the main reason for the silence is surely not guilt precisely because it is so artificial, but rather fear. Fear of “what will they think”, fear of slander and even of being taken to court for “anti-Semitism”. If you are not convinced, take a journalist, a politician or a publisher to some spot where nobody is listening and there is no hidden camera or microphone, and ask whether he or she says in public all he or she thinks of Israel in private. And if not, why? Fear of hurting the interests of capitalism? Fear of weakening American imperialism? Fear of interrupting oil deliveries? Or, on the contrary, fear of Zionist organizations and their relentless campaigns?

We have little doubt, after dozens of discussions with such people that the last answer given above is the correct one. People do not say what they think of what calls itself the “Jewish State” for fear of being called anti-Jewish and being identified with the anti-Semites of the past. This sentiment is all the stronger inasmuch as most people who are shocked by Israeli policy are genuinely horrified by what was done to the Jews during the Second World War and are sincerely outraged by anti-Semitism. If one stops to think about it, it is clear that if there existed today, as was the case before 1940, openly anti-Semitic political movements, they would not be so intimidated. But today, not even the French National Front says it is anti-Semitic and whoever criticizes Israel usually starts by denying being anti-Semitic. The fear of being accused of anti-Semitism is deeper than fear of the Zionist lobby, it is fear of losing the respectability that goes with condemnation of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust as the highest contemporary moral value.

It is imperative to free criticism of Israel from the fear of being falsely accused of “anti-Semitism”. The threat of this accusation is an insidious form of moral blackmail that perhaps constitutes the only real potential source of a widespread revival of anti-Jewish resentment.

3. The practical initiatives are summed up in three letters : BDS- Boycott, disinvestment, sanctions

The demand for sanctions is taken up by most pro-Palestinian organizations, but since such measures are the prerogative of states, it is clear that this will not happen soon. Disinvestment measures can be taken by trade unions and churches, on the decision of their members. Other enterprises that collaborate closely with Israel will not change their policy unless they are under public pressure, that is, boycotts. This brings us to the controversial issue of boycotts, not only of Israeli products but also of Israel’s cultural and academic institutions.

This tactic was used against apartheid in South Africa in a very similar situation. Both apartheid and the dispossession of the Palestinians are a late heritage of European colonialism, whose practitioners have a hard time realizing that such forms of domination are no longer acceptable to the world in general and even to public opinion in the West. The racist ideologies underlying both projects are an outrage to the majority of humanity and gives rise to endless hatreds and conflicts. One might even say that Israel is another South Africa, plus exploitation of “the Holocaust” as an excuse.

Any boycott is apt to have innocent victims. In particular, it is said that boycotting Israeli academic institutions would unjustly punish intellectuals who are for peace. Perhaps, but Israel itself readily admits that there are innocent victims in Gaza, whose innocence in no way prevents them from being killed. We do not propose killing anyone. A boycott is a perfectly non-violent act by citizens. It is comparable to conscientious objection or civil disobedience in the face of unjust power. Israel flouts all UN resolutions and our own governments, far from taking measures to oblige Israel to comply, merely reinforce their ties with Israel. We have the right, as citizens, to demand that our own governments respect international law.

What is important about sanctions, especially on the cultural level, is their symbolic value. It is a way of telling our governments that we do not accept their policy of collaboration with a state that has chosen to become an international outlaw.

Some object to a boycott on the grounds that it is opposed by both some progressive Israelis and a certain number of “moderate” Palestinians (but not Palestinian civil society as a whole). But the main question for us is not what they say, but what foreign policy we want for our own countries. The Israeli-Arab conflict is far from being a mere local quarrel and has attained a worldwide significance. It involves the basic issue of respect for international law. A boycott should be defended as a means to protest to our governments in order to force them to change their policy. We have the right to want to be able to travel without shame in the rest of the world. That is reason enough to encourage a boycott.

(A french version of this text is in preparation).

Jean Bricmont teaches physics in Belgium and is a member of the Brussels Tribunal. His book, Humanitarian Imperialism, is published by Monthly Review Press. He can be reached at

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions published by Monthly Review Press. She can be reached at:

January 8th, 2009, 6:17 pm


Akbar Palace said:

2. Allow non-Jews to speak their mind about Israel

Is someone behind you twisting your arm you twit?

4.) Let the Arabs do whatever they want with the Jews, they’re not my problem.

January 8th, 2009, 6:23 pm


Ghat Albird said:

To Observer.

The 3 Bricmont/Johnstone’s proposals should be a must read for Obama and his advisors.

Admittedly if Israel attacks Iran it will mean the end of the ME as we know it today and definitely the end of Israel as it exists today.

Obama may come to rue the day he won the Presidency of the US.

January 8th, 2009, 6:51 pm


EHSANI2 said:

This conflict is a long term saga that is unlikely to be resolved for a very long time, if ever.

Those that take the time to study the history of this conflict can go back to as far as it was called the land of Canaan to conclude that a resolution of this conflict is hardly unlikely.

There is no doubt that the balance of power has tilted heavily in favor of Israel since June of 1948. Repeated mistakes by the Arabs has contributed to this fact.

However, 60 years is a tiny and very short chapter in the nearly 1500 year turmoil of this land.

Those that are looking for peace or a “resolution” to this conflict are likely to be severely dissapointed.

January 8th, 2009, 7:14 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

The Gaza Boomerang
Published: January 7, 2009

At a time when Israel is bombing Gaza to try to smash Hamas, it’s worth remembering that Israel itself helped nurture Hamas.

When Hamas was founded in 1987, Israel was mostly concerned with Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement and figured that a religious Palestinian organization would help undermine Fatah. Israel calculated that all those Muslim fundamentalists would spend their time praying in the mosques, so it cracked down on Fatah and allowed Hamas to rise as a counterforce.

What we’re seeing in the Middle East is the Boomerang Syndrome. Arab terrorism built support for right-wing Israeli politicians, who took harsh actions against Palestinians, who responded with more terrorism, and so on. Extremists on each side sustain the other, and the excessive Israeli ground assault in Gaza is likely to create more terrorists in the long run.

If this pattern continues, we may eventually see Hamas-style Palestinians facing off against hard-line Israelis, with each side making the others’ lives wretched — and political moderates in the Middle East politically eviscerated.

I visited Gaza last summer and found many Palestinians ambivalent in a way that Americans and Israelis often don’t appreciate. Many Gazans scorn Fatah as corrupt and incompetent, and they dislike Hamas’s overzealousness and repression. But when they are suffering and humiliated, they find it emotionally satisfying to see Hamas fighting back.

Granted, Israel was profoundly provoked in this case. Israel sought an extension of its cease-fire with Hamas, and Egypt offered to mediate one — but Hamas refused. When it is shelled by its neighbor, Israel has to do something.

But Israel’s right to do something doesn’t mean it has the right to do anything. Since the shelling from Gaza started in 2001, 20 Israeli civilians have been killed by rockets or mortars, according to a tabulation by Israeli human rights groups. That doesn’t justify an all-out ground invasion that has killed more than 660 people (it’s difficult to know how many are militants and how many are civilians).

So what could Israel have reasonably done? Bombing the tunnels through which Gazans smuggle weapons would have been a proportionate response, if Israel had stopped there, and the same is true of airstrikes on certain Hamas targets. An even better approach would have been to ease the siege in Gaza, perhaps creating an environment in which Hamas would have extended the cease-fire. It was certainly worth trying — and almost anything would be better than lashing out in a way that would create more boomerangs.

“This policy is not strengthening Israel,” notes Sari Bashi, the executive director of Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that works on Gaza issues. “The trauma that 1.5 million people have been undergoing in Gaza is going to have long-term effects for our ability to live together.

“My colleague in Gaza works for an Israeli organization. She’s learning Hebrew, and she’s just the kind of person we can build a future with. And her 6-year-old nephew, every time a bomb drops from the air, is at first scared and then says — hopefully — maybe the Qassam Brigades will now fire rockets at the Israelis.”

Israel’s strategy has been to make ordinary Palestinians suffer in hopes of creating ill will toward Hamas. That’s why, beginning in 2007, Israel cut back fuel shipments for Gaza utilities — and why today, in the aftermath of the bombings, 800,000 Gaza residents lack running water, Ms. Bashi said.

“The Israeli policy on Gaza has been marketed as a policy against Hamas, but in reality it’s a policy against a million-and-a-half people in Gaza,” she said.

We all know that the most plausible solution to the Middle East mess is a two-state solution along the lines that former President Bill Clinton has proposed. It’s difficult to tell how we get there from here, but a crucial step is to strengthen President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority.

Instead, initial reports are that the assault on Gaza is focusing Arab anger on Mr. Abbas and moderate neighbors like Jordan, undermining the peacemakers.

My courageous Times colleague in Gaza, Taghreed el-Khodary, quoted a 37-year-old father weeping over the corpse of his 11-year-old daughter: “From now on, I am Hamas. I choose resistance.”

Barack Obama has said relatively little about Gaza. At first, given the provocations by Hamas, that was understandable. But as the ground invasion costs more lives, he needs to join European leaders in calling for a new cease-fire on all sides — and after he assumes the presidency, he must provide real leadership that the world craves.

Aaron David Miller, a longtime Middle East peace negotiator for the United States, suggests in his excellent new book, “The Much Too Promised Land,” that presidents should offer Israel “love, but tough love.”

So, Mr. Obama, find your voice. Fall in tough love with Israel.

January 8th, 2009, 7:31 pm


Alex said:

2. Akbar Palace said:

2. Allow non-Jews to speak their mind about Israel

Is someone behind you twisting your arm you twit?

Akbar … what do you think happens when someone writes in a major American Newspaper or says something on American news shows that includes anything that deviates from Likud’s line?

Welcome to your lovely … the best example why free speech is practically one big pathetic joke when it comes to coverage of Middle East news in the US

They are going after President Carter .. the Norwegian doctors treating thousands of your poor victims in Gaza … the LA Times for publishing Gideon Levy, an honest Israeli who wants to tell the world that not all Israelis are criminals like their leaders…

No, they are not as effective as other dictators who can shut free speech 99% of the time .. they are only 90% effective, I’m sure you can fool yourself in believing that what they are doing is innocent because you have a list of exceptions where many people did manage to criticize Likud’s way (or Israel’s, for the past decade) to prove it.

January 8th, 2009, 7:43 pm


EHSANI2 said:

“So, Mr. Obama, find your voice. Fall in tough love with Israel.”


Mr. Kristof has dared to insert the earth-shattering word of “tough” in front of love in his article above.

We are supposed to rejoice and be impressed by his courage.

Frankly, this is one big joke.

I wonder what Mr. Kristof’s advice is to Obama on how he ought to treat the Palestinian side?

“Fall in less disdain to their plight than your predecessors”?

Oh no….that would be too much for and will most likely ensure Mr. Obama as a one-term President.

January 8th, 2009, 7:56 pm


why-discuss said:

The conflict gives him critical leverage to prod long-needed concessions from both Palestinians and Israelis.
By George Moffett
from CS monitor January 6, 2009 edition

If the crisis unfolding in the Gaza Strip is a reminder of the durability of Arab-Israeli

antagonisms, it is also, in its troubling and costly way, a potential blessing to the incoming administration of Barack Obama.
By highlighting the quixotic, mutually destructive nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Hamas’s missile attacks on southern Israel and Israel’s massive response provide President-elect Obama with critical leverage to prod long-needed concessions by both sides. If the moment is seized, serious steps toward a lasting peace could be taken, setting the stage for a major foreign-policy success. If it is not, Obama may forfeit one of the last opportunities to save the region from a downward spiral that could potentially destabilize the entire international system.
The governing fact that creates this dangerous but propitious moment is that neither Israel nor its Palestinian neighbors can indefinitely survive their decades-long conflict.
Whatever the provocative act of targeting southern Israel may do for Hamas politically, it will do little to redeem Gaza from crushing facts on the ground. Its territory, less than one-tenth the size of Rhode Island, bears 1.5 million people and sports one of the fastest-growing populations in the world. Two-thirds of Gazans live in poverty. Nearly half are unemployed. Gaza’s long-term viability under current circumstances is virtually nonexistent.
Israel’s future is also uncertain. Its air and ground operations, aimed at crippling Hamas’s rocket offensive, amply demonstrate – as did its inconclusive war with Lebanese Hezbollah forces in 2006 – the relative impotence of the regional omnipotence deriving from its exclusive possession of nuclear weapons. In addition to Hamas in Gaza, Israel faces a rearmed Hezbollah equipped with an arsenal of Russian-made Katyusha rockets, estimated at more than 30,000, that is now at least double what it possessed at the onset of the 2006 war. With the potential to immobilize cities as far away as Tel Aviv, the rockets could serve as a deterrent to Israeli military action to destroy the nuclear potential of its chief regional adversary – and Hezbollah’s chief patron – Iran.
Meanwhile, internal demographic trends bode ill, within the near term, to make Jews a minority in
geographical Palestine and eventually within Israel itself – trends that, absent a peace settlement, may make it impossible for Israel to long remain both a democracy and a Jewish state. The danger is exacerbated by the growing restiveness of the country’s large and growing Arab minority.
The brutal competition between Palestinians and Israelis has placed an unsustainable mortgage on the
futures of both. Nor is it a contest that either side can win. Arab nationalism, reflected in demands for a Palestinian state, can be contained by Israel at high political, military, and moral cost, but not extinguished, even if missile attacks from Gaza are stanched and Hamas crushed. Meanwhile, while Palestinian military and terrorist attacks may win moral and public relations victories on the Arab street, they will never attain Hamas’s goal of driving Jews into the sea.
It is the very pointlessness of the continuing conflict – and the danger that it could radicalize Arab opinion, put pressure on moderate Arab regimes, and nourish anti-US and anti-Israel sentiment around the globe – that provide Obama with the unanswerable argument needed to justify a more-assertive US peacemaking role.
Opposition will be formidable. Mutual hatreds, fears, and habits of conflict are deeply ingrained, making both sides reluctant to consider needed concessions. Meanwhile, Obama – like every president before him – will face a powerful domestic lobby, overwhelmingly supported in Congress, that has shielded Israel from concessions (such as Jewish settlements on Palestinian land), that, made earlier, might have spared the region considerable anguish.
Prospects are fast diminishing to effect the only viable compromise that can retrieve the region from escalating conflict: the very two-state solution envisioned by the United Nations the year before Israel was created, in 1948. Among other things, such an outcome would force all Palestinian factions, not just Fatah, to accept a permanent Jewish state in Palestine. It would require Israel to relinquish Zionist aspirations that no extend well into the other Palestinian territory, the West Bank.
In the face of certain opposition, Obama need only ask one inescapable question: What’s the alternative?
Pressing the point, especially in the early stages of an administration that will need to husband as much goodwill as possible to deal with economic issues at home, will require presidential risk-taking on an unprecedented scale. But two risk-taking American presidents – Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, brokers, respectively, of the Camp David and Madrid peace processes – have demonstrated the possibilities.
Events in the intervening years make the odds longer for Obama, even as the stakes are now higher. But if he chooses to capitalize on the outpouring of global goodwill that greeted his election, the results could be transformative, for Israelis, for Palestinians, and for the world.
• George Moffett is a former Middle East correspondent for the Monitor.

January 8th, 2009, 8:08 pm


Observer said:


There is no use arguing at all with some commentators on this blog. They are right and everyone else is wrong. Do not bother.

January 8th, 2009, 8:32 pm


Alex said:

Against ‘Peace’ and ‘Moderation’
The numbers of the dead don’t mean much any more. It was round about the five hundred mark when I realised the impact of death on my mind was lightening. There are pictures on the internet – burning half bodies, a head and torso screaming, corpses spilt in a marketplace like unruly apples, all the tens and tens of babies and children turned to outraged dust – but how many pictures can you keep in your heart? How much anguish can you feel? Enough anguish to mourn 500 human beings? And of what quality can your anguish be? Can it be as intense as the anguish a bystander to the murder would feel? As intense as that of a friend of a victim, or of a father? What about the fathers who have seen all their children burn?

I remember the days when I was outraged if ten were killed in one go. Ah, happy days! Ten in one go would be good. But of course, this is what the enemy wants: the enemy wants us to value Arab life as little as it does. It wants us to stay in our numbness, to descend deeper in. It wants us to forget.

I use the word ‘enemy’ consciously. I don’t mean the Jews, or even Israeli Jews per se, but Zionism, and therefore Zionists and their collaborators from all ethnic groups. Large scale Zionist massacres have occurred every few years since the initial ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, and Zionism has not been held culpable. Two and a half years ago Zionism murdered 1100 Lebanese, the great majority of them civilians, and Zionism was not held culpable. 763 have been murdered so far in starving Gaza, and thousands maimed, out of a population of one and a half million. Again, the great majority are civilians, and again, Zionism is not held culpable. In one incident, Zionist forces ordered a hundred men, women and children of the as-Samouni clan into a house, which they then shelled, killing over 60. Israel has bombed Gaza’s university, ambulances, an ‘American-style private school’, residential tower blocks, mosques, students and shoppers in the streets, and schoolchildren on their way home. The murdered ‘Hamas forces’ include hundreds of ordinary policemen.

The first reason for all this is tactical. “For us being cautious means being aggressive,” an Israeli officer told Ha’aretz. “It will take many years in order to restore this area to what it was before. When we suspect that a Palestinian fighter is hiding in a house, we shoot it with a missile and then with two tank shells, and then a bulldozer hits the wall. It causes damage but it prevents loss of life among soldiers.”

This tactic is acceptable to the West so long as it’s not thought about, because this is the way the West habitually deals with non-Western races. It’s what happens in Iraq and Afghanistan; it’s what happened in the traditional colonial period. But it mustn’t be thought about, especially not these days when people like to imagine they’ve internalised the concept of human equality, because to think about it is to realise that it’s the same thing as ‘terrorism’ – murdering as many civilians as you like if you might hit one enemy operative – and that the only difference between this terror and the terror of the non-state actors is a difference of scale. Western terror, Israeli terror, is much much worse.

The second reason for such massacres is strategic. The Zionist bombing is often random and sometimes specifically targets places of civilian refuge, in order to show the people that they have nowhere to hide and to persuade them to turn against the resistance. Although Zionist terror has only ever solidified anti-Zionist resistance, the strategy follows an old pattern, from Lebanon and Palestine. Yitzhak Rabin ordered his soldiers to suppress the non-violent protests of the First Intifada by holding Palestinian youths down and breaking their limbs with rocks. (Rabin is the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize). In the Second Intifada, a high proportion of the unarmed civilians murdered by Israel were shot in the head or upper body. These include boys playing football and women sweeping their balconies. Extreme violence against civilians in order to influence political reality is a textbook definition of terrorism, so the Western and client Arab media has to keep blatant Israeli statements of this policy – such as Vilnai’s call for “a Holocaust” on Gaza or an IDF chief’s 2006 declaration that his aim was to take Lebanon back to the stone age – as quiet as possible. But the terror policy is obvious if you care to look.

Two days ago Zionism bombed one of the three UN schools it’s hit, and murdered 46 civilians who were sheltering there. Zionist propaganda is repeated in the Western media: Israel believed a Hamas gunman fired from the school gates. Even if the presence of a gunman could justify such slaughter, all the civilian witnesses say Israel’s story is a lie. The UN says it is “99.9% certain” that no gunmen were present in the building, that it had informed Israel of the school’s co-ordinates and that displaced civilians were sheltering there, and that it wants an international investigation. But Zionism will not be held culpable. This was a war crime which made a day of bad news for the Zionist media to manage. And nothing else; as there was nothing else after the massacres at Qana in Lebanon, where civilians sheltering in a UN building were slaughtered in 1996, and again in 2006. As there is never anything else for the Palestinian people – the victims of seven decades of ethnic cleansing, occupation, apartheid and butchery. The Arab client regimes, the US, Europe, and their media, are complicit in this ongoing crime.

There is no peace process. There never was. When politicians repeat ‘peace process’ they repeat the incantation of a dream. They are bad illusionists. Yitzhak Shamir announced when he went to Madrid that he’d initiate a ‘process’ to last decades while the colonisation of Palestine continued. The Oslo process was one of cantonisation and pacification, not peace. Land confiscation and settlement expansion didn’t stop for one day. When Arafat was hurried against his will to Camp David (though Arafat was culpable of stupidity and greed for accepting such a ‘process’ in the first place), he was offered a cantonised sub-sovereign state on less than the 22% of Palestine stolen in 1967, with no solution for the refugees or for the ancient Canaanite-Arab city of Jerusalem. Israel would control water, borders and security, and it wouldn’t recognise responsibility for the ethnic cleansing of 1948. In return, Arafat had to declare the conflict resolved for eternity. In the West the Israeli narrative, as usual, has become an orthodoxy: that Arafat turned down a great offer. That the Palestinians ‘never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity’. O yes, the cleansing of an ancient people from their land throws up witty, polished phrases.

Another polished phrase is ‘moderate Arab state’. There are no ‘moderate Arab states’, not unless dictatorship and gangsterism are ‘moderate’. Not unless banning Bibles and public floggings and the mass arrests of political opposition and the routine anal rape of detained young men are ‘moderate’. It is time to speak plainly. Iran is in many respects a tyranny, but it’s far more democratic than any of the ‘moderate’ Arab states. Syria is a Christian as well as Muslim country, a secular and socially liberal state, but it isn’t considered ‘moderate’ in the way that Saudi Arabia, the home of al-Qa’ida, is. What ‘moderate Arab state’ in fact means is ‘client Arab state’ – a state whose regime obeys America and Israel in return for guns and money.

All the Arab states, ‘moderate’ and otherwise, have repeatedly offered a full peace with Israel in return for a full withdrawal from the lands captured in 67 and a vague ‘solution’ to the refugee issue. Israel has repeatedly ignored them. Hamas has said it will accept a settlement on the 67 border if the Palestinian people accept it. Hamas observed a ceasefire with Israel, and Israel violated it by murder and siege.

Israel is not interested in peace. Even these Amos Ozes and David Grossmans who are trotted out to repeat Zionist propaganda in a more humane tone are not interested in peace.

What, then, can be done? To start with, we can see and speak clearly. We can hold Israel, state and society, culpable. We can stop pretending that peace is on the cards. We can stop the charade of ‘recognising’ the apartheid state’s ‘legitimacy’ or ‘right to exist’. The Zionist state has no more ‘right to exist’ than the apartheid state in South Africa had.

Zionism is based on the premise that one people is worth more than another people, in currency of lives and comfort and imagination. Zionism says that one people’s dream justifies and even necessitates the destruction of another, inferior, people. Zionism is indeed, as the old UN General Assembly resolution had it, racism. Zionism itself is the enemy. The great post-Zionist Israeli Ilan Pappe writes: “We have to try and explain not only to the world, but also to the Israelis themselves, that Zionism is an ideology that endorses ethnic cleansing, occupation and now massive massacres. What is needed now is not just a condemnation of the present massacre but also delegitimization of the ideology that produced that policy and justifies it morally and politically. Let us hope that significant voices in the world will tell the Jewish state that this ideology and the overall conduct of the state are intolerable and unacceptable, and as long as they persist, Israel will be boycotted and subject to sanctions.”

Novelist and critic John Berger’s statement:

“We are now spectators of the latest – and perhaps penultimate – chapter of the 60 year old conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people. About the complexities of this tragic conflict billions of words have been pronounced, defending one side or the other.

Today, in face of the Israeli attacks on Gaza, the essential calculation, which was always covertly there, behind this conflict, has been blatantly revealed. The death of one Israeli victim justifies the killing of a hundred Palestinians. One Israeli life is worth a hundred Palestinian lives.

This is what the Israeli State and the world media more or less – with marginal questioning – mindlessly repeat. And this claim, which has accompanied and justified the longest Occupation of foreign territories in 20th C. European history, is viscerally racist. That the Jewish people should accept this, that the world should concur, that the Palestinians should submit to it – is one of history’s ironic jokes. There’s no laughter anywhere. We can, however, refute it, more and more vocally.

Let’s do so.”

John Berger
27 December 2008

January 8th, 2009, 8:39 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Akbar … what do you think happens when someone writes in a major American Newspaper or says something on American news shows that includes anything that deviates from Likud’s line?


I don’t know. Please inform me an the rest of your objective anti-Israel forum.

Meanwhile, I’ll take a guess:

They get locked up in jail like in Syria???

Freedom of Speech is in abundance in the US and Israel. People are free to write and say what they want, and organizations and individuals like CAMERA and Alan Dershowitz are EQAULLY free to rebut.

I am not aware that someone didn’t “allow” JEAN BRICMONT and DIANA JOHNSTONE from “speaking their mind about Israel”.

Anyway, it’s pretty sad when an Arab whines about American freedom of speech…

January 8th, 2009, 8:50 pm


Yossi said:

Why not have a two-sided embargo on offensive weapons, their raw materials and replacement parts? The Hamas wouldn’t be able to fire rockets on Israeli citizens and Israel wouldn’t be able to perform human rights transgressions, at least not so easily.

I think this a fair and effective solution that should be brought before the political leaders and given a chance.

January 8th, 2009, 8:53 pm


offended said:

I am re-posting this comment from the last thread.

“An Unnecessary War

By Jimmy Carter
Thursday, January 8, 2009; A15

I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided.

After visiting Sderot last April and seeing the serious psychological damage caused by the rockets that had fallen in that area, my wife, Rosalynn, and I declared their launching from Gaza to be inexcusable and an act of terrorism. Although casualties were rare (three deaths in seven years), the town was traumatized by the unpredictable explosions. About 3,000 residents had moved to other communities, and the streets, playgrounds and shopping centers were almost empty. Mayor Eli Moyal assembled a group of citizens in his office to meet us and complained that the government of Israel was not stopping the rockets, either through diplomacy or military action.

Knowing that we would soon be seeing Hamas leaders from Gaza and also in Damascus, we promised to assess prospects for a cease-fire. From Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who was negotiating between the Israelis and Hamas, we learned that there was a fundamental difference between the two sides. Hamas wanted a comprehensive cease-fire in both the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israelis refused to discuss anything other than Gaza.

We knew that the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza were being starved, as the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food had found that acute malnutrition in Gaza was on the same scale as in the poorest nations in the southern Sahara, with more than half of all Palestinian families eating only one meal a day.

Palestinian leaders from Gaza were noncommittal on all issues, claiming that rockets were the only way to respond to their imprisonment and to dramatize their humanitarian plight. The top Hamas leaders in Damascus, however, agreed to consider a cease-fire in Gaza only, provided Israel would not attack Gaza and would permit normal humanitarian supplies to be delivered to Palestinian citizens.

After extended discussions with those from Gaza, these Hamas leaders also agreed to accept any peace agreement that might be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the PLO, provided it was approved by a majority vote of Palestinians in a referendum or by an elected unity government.

Since we were only observers, and not negotiators, we relayed this information to the Egyptians, and they pursued the cease-fire proposal. After about a month, the Egyptians and Hamas informed us that all military action by both sides and all rocket firing would stop on June 19, for a period of six months, and that humanitarian supplies would be restored to the normal level that had existed before Israel’s withdrawal in 2005 (about 700 trucks daily).

We were unable to confirm this in Jerusalem because of Israel’s unwillingness to admit to any negotiations with Hamas, but rocket firing was soon stopped and there was an increase in supplies of food, water, medicine and fuel. Yet the increase was to an average of about 20 percent of normal levels. And this fragile truce was partially broken on Nov. 4, when Israel launched an attack in Gaza to destroy a defensive tunnel being dug by Hamas inside the wall that encloses Gaza.

On another visit to Syria in mid-December, I made an effort for the impending six-month deadline to be extended. It was clear that the preeminent issue was opening the crossings into Gaza. Representatives from the Carter Center visited Jerusalem, met with Israeli officials and asked if this was possible in exchange for a cessation of rocket fire. The Israeli government informally proposed that 15 percent of normal supplies might be possible if Hamas first stopped all rocket fire for 48 hours. This was unacceptable to Hamas, and hostilities erupted.

After 12 days of “combat,” the Israeli Defense Forces reported that more than 1,000 targets were shelled or bombed. During that time, Israel rejected international efforts to obtain a cease-fire, with full support from Washington. Seventeen mosques, the American International School, many private homes and much of the basic infrastructure of the small but heavily populated area have been destroyed. This includes the systems that provide water, electricity and sanitation. Heavy civilian casualties are being reported by courageous medical volunteers from many nations, as the fortunate ones operate on the wounded by light from diesel-powered generators.

The hope is that when further hostilities are no longer productive, Israel, Hamas and the United States will accept another cease-fire, at which time the rockets will again stop and an adequate level of humanitarian supplies will be permitted to the surviving Palestinians, with the publicized agreement monitored by the international community. The next possible step: a permanent and comprehensive peace.”


15% for god’s sake? 15 % of normal supplies? and you tell me this is not an attitude of a slavemaster?

This whole effing war was hinged upon the percentage of normal human supplies? why couldn’t israel be a bit more generous and offer a little more than 15%? maybe 50% could have done it? i bet the rations of food at the Gulags were better….


January 8th, 2009, 9:02 pm


Alex said:


Didn’t I write in my last comment that you WILL come back with examples how not EVERYBODY is scared from

You want to know what heppens?

let’s say the editor of the opinion page at the NYT decided to publish an article by Joshua Landis in which he primarily blamed Israel for the violence.

The same day, everyone on the mailing list of gets a note telling them that the editor at the NYT must be drunk or something because he invited a known Syrian regime propagandist to promote his false and unfair accusations of Israel.

Then they give them all the necessary talking points … and provide them with the email and/or phone number of htat editor

Then the drunken editor receives a thousand emails from motivated Likudniks telling him that he is out of his mind and that he must not make that mistake again.

If he repeats that mistake … he will be attacked by your friends at Fox and other filthy “media” owned by your Murdoch genius.

Let me show you something Akbar:

So, you are not as bad as dictators in preventing free speech on Israel, but you are not much better at all… you are both bad in that respect.

Does this make my position more easy for you to understand?

Akbar … no wonder we are seeing wars everywhere in the Middle East .. you guys are not compatible anymore with anything different from your own views .. you have prevented free speech in order to isolate the American people from the truth, but in the process you have isolated yourself too.

Observer … I am still debating him to demonstrate to whoever is reading us what we are dealing with here!

January 8th, 2009, 9:10 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Does this make my position more easy for you to understand?


I read your words and I understood them. And they are wrong.

No one is afraid to write articles in the liberal US press. Jimmy Carter wrote a beautifully concocted anti-Israel article in the Washington Post. Jimmah is not afraid, despite the “strong-armed” tactics of the Mossad, the Elders of Zion, and Charles Krauthammer.

Also the Internet is completely open (unlike some other countries I’m familiar with). Juan Cole, Indymedia, HuffingtonPost, Daily Kos, and the hundreds of other anti-Israel functionaries are speaking like you until they are blue-in-the-face.

.. you have prevented free speech in order to isolate the American people from the truth..

Which of course is a very sad lie. If only I could throw a shoe through Cyberspace…

January 8th, 2009, 9:31 pm


Alex said:


Juan Cole and Huffington post are not the Wall Street journal and Fox

Before you suggest that I lied, try again to remember my comment above when I said that they managed to guarantee 90% Israel-friendly coverage.

Juan Cole’s blog falls in that 10% that they don’t need to “influence”

And .. I said which has a REAL (not imaginary) website you can check to see how they work, I did not say Mossad or Elders of Zion … do you see what you are doing? .. the same way Fox insinuated that Carter must be drunk for not being a fan of Israel, you are insinuating that I must be a believer in conspiracy theories to reach those conclusions of mine.

And you want to see the result of this brainwashing on other American journalists?

Joe Scarborough is refusing to believe the facts that Bzrezenski gave him because he is brain washed with the WSJ and other newspapers he has been reading and trusting!

This is the state of American journalism… thanks to Likud’s friends Murdoch, Fox, …

January 8th, 2009, 9:41 pm


EHSANI2 said:


To suggest that the media in the U.S. is not tilted towards Israel is an act of self-denial and/or lack of intelligence. I doubt that it is the latter in your case.

January 8th, 2009, 10:05 pm


S.A. said:

To Akbar Palace,

“American freedem of speech.” Most of the major news agencies in the country are completely dominated by Zionist propagandists. The average American doesn’t have the time or the desire to dig in to find the complete story or the full truth. They just listen to the major news media and believe all the lies that they hear. Of course this is the tool that is now perfectly mastered by the Zionist propagandists and used all the time. Do you think Larry KIng is going to invite someone who is going to say anything bad about Israel? This is just an example. It’s actually simple, all you have to do is ignore inviting anyone who would tell the full story, so people will hear only one side and believe that this is it. This is journalism in the U.S. in general. The major newspapers follow the same trend. Articles are never published when they reveal the origins of the conflict and when they expose the full truth.
So it’s actually like living in a big cage and telling people that they’re free. This is what the freedom of speech is in the U.S.

January 8th, 2009, 10:06 pm


Alex said:

Apparently “Drunk” is not enough to classify President Carter. “there is a special place in Hell” for people like him!

And while we are here .. Alan Dershowitz is sick of the mention of Jesus Christ by American Politicians! … he found it disgusting! .. why do these American politicians bring religion into politics??!

Of course Dershowitz was probably even more upset at this scene.

And before you twist my words: I have no problem with Obama’s milking of religion for political gains during his visit in Israel, I have a problem with Dershowitz only complaining about the fact Christianity plays a role in America’s politic, while he has no problem with an Israel that is almost totally based on religion.

I am ok with him if he complained about both, or not complain about anyone.

January 8th, 2009, 10:14 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Washington Post carries stupid article critical of the usual suspect … Jewish Cabal seeks to destroy WaPo and their once beloved ex-President who once tried to free hostages in Iran…

January 8th, 2009, 10:22 pm


Alex said:



1) “Jewish Cabal” … implying you are talking to conspiracy theorists here.

2) And then you remind us of the failure of President Carter with the hostages … trying again to discredit Israel’s critics.

3) You find another exception to prove there is no organized American media brainwashing.

Time for this one again?

January 8th, 2009, 10:33 pm


AIG said:


Have you decided to ban me forever? Why?

What you are scared of is just basic and LEGAL political activism. That is all does. It does NOTHING illegal.

And why do you have a problem with anything Dershowitz says? If you don’t agree, say the opposite. That is how the system works. That is what freedom of speech means.

If your ideology can only win when supported by a dictator, what does it mean about your ideology? Really, setting up the Arab equivalent of is trivial. It is just a web site and a few hundred activists. Why don’t you setup a counter camera instead of complaining???

January 8th, 2009, 10:34 pm


EHSANI2 said:


Is this the same Washington Post whose White House reporter and former editor Michael Abramowitz just left to take a position with the Holocaust Museum. Incidentally, Abramowitz will become the director of the Committee on Conscience, part of the museum that raises consciousness about contemporary genocide and mass atrocities.

January 8th, 2009, 10:44 pm


Off the Wall said:

Dershowtiz is the personification of how and who is responsible for the ethical bankruptcy of the American Left. An unahsmed supporter of Israeli’s aggressions, an appologist for torture, and a borderline racist when it comes to palestinians. In fact, the large number of his own Jewish victims in academia and elsewhere, may even justify calling him an anti-semite. He is no different from the psudo intellectuals like daniel pipes and david horrowitz, whose vile attacks on critics of Israel and their abuse of their questionable academic stature has prompted calls within the academic community in the US for real actions to protect academic freedom. These thought thugs and bandits deserve nothing but utter contempt. They are morally and ethically bankrupt, not because of their support for Israel, but because of what they do as they try to drag the US academia into a 21st century inquisition.

January 8th, 2009, 10:47 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Lisa Goldman writes:

“They started it”; “but they’re terrorists”; and “it’s worse in Darfur” are not, in my opinion, intelligent responses. I do not live in Darfur. I am a voting, tax-paying citizen of Israel, so this is where I have the moral obligation to speak out when I see something that is wrong.

Yes, Hamas is a bunch of fanatic thugs. I remember that they threw Fateh people off of multi-story buildings during the July 2007 coup. I know that they use civilians as human shields. I do understand that Israel has got itself caught in a struggle between Iran, which is funding Hamas, and the Arab states, which hate Hamas and fear Iran. And yes, Hamas could stop the war if they would just cease firing the rockets. But they will not do that. So it is up to us: we have it in our power to stop the killing. We can stop the war. And we should stop it, immediately. For their sake and for ours.

January 8th, 2009, 10:56 pm


Alex said:

Qifa nabki,

the wonderful “people” behind watched that clip you linked and this is the impression it left on them:

January 8th, 2009, 11:01 pm


offended said:

Those who try to cover up for those crime are as much partners in them as the ones who pull the trigger, if not even worse.

January 8th, 2009, 11:07 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


In light of your conversation with Akbar, isn’t it interesting that the CAMERA people regard the same news organizations that we consider to be biased towards Israel, to be biased against it?

They have become media stars as the BBC, CBS, CNN, ABC, Independent, Sky News, and New York Times, among others, have turned to them as independent foreign observers to provide a presumably non-partisan perspective.

Typical, I suppose…

January 8th, 2009, 11:33 pm


Alex said:


I did not decide to ban you forever … the last three comments you made were all released the next morning. when I checked the moderation list. But I can’t let you go back to confronting every single comment on this blog. You always end up geting on the nerves of five people at a time. I can’t spend all my time moderating you when you are that confrontational.

But since today we are discussing and AIPAC and since Akbar is frankly not a very capable defender of Likud’s way, I will remove your name from moderation for today so that you can make whatever point you want to make on their behalf.

Then we’ll have to go back to moderation. I will release your comments about twice a day if they are not confrontational.

January 8th, 2009, 11:37 pm


Alex said:


I do not want to establish an Arab not because it is difficult to do but because I despise what they are doing … a 21st century inquisition as OTW described it.

What items would I have on the front page of that Arab

“Was President Bush drunk when he said that Syria arms Hamas?”

“Is Fox News a propaganda outlet for Israel?”

No thank you.

Qifa Napkin,

So does that mean we are the same? : )


The difference is that we learned to shut up and accept any coverage that has even a 25% Arab point of view mixed with a 75% Israel view.

THEY can’t accept a 5% portion in anything they see or hear in the Media that does not fit perfectly within their narrow views.

Look again at their site to see who they are attacking … even the New York times!

And we are not organizing a mass mail campaign to harass any editor or writer who dares write something we do not approve of.

January 8th, 2009, 11:56 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Do you actually think I was suggesting that we are the same?

I was just pointing out the irony.

January 9th, 2009, 12:13 am


AIG said:

It is just sour grapes on your side. There is a way the American system works. That way is based on rules established over hundreds of years. plays within those rules. What you don’t like is that they are successful. Instead of figuring out why they are successful and addressing their methods with your own better methods you chose to whine and complain. That is not very grown up.

If is illegal, take them to court. If they are working within the law, there is only ONE thing to complain about, and that is your ineptitude in countering them.

January 9th, 2009, 12:33 am


SimoHurtta said:

AIG you should follow also European media. It doesn’t paint a so rosy picture of Israel as the media in the original (wild) West. The picture we Europeans have from the Israel Palestine conflict is much more balanced. We have no illusion who is the Goliath of Middle East, not any more during the last past decades.

AIG if you visit Europe in near future it is wise to identify yourself by your other passport’s nationality when you speak with people. Also wearing a “I love Israel” cap and t-shirt is now not a very clever idea. Israel is not in fashion here.

Many European countries are not very happy with Europe’s toothless policy with Israel. Maybe we will see setbacks in the EU Israel ties. Certainly that has now large support among the normal people. On longer term it is probable that EU will distant itself from the cowboy country and claim itself a more influential united role in the world politics. Especially now when US economy is serious difficulties and state’s finances mild said on a very weak ground.

One concrete thing EU could demand when again (heaven knows the number) Gaza and West Bank are rebuilt with our money this time all products are bought and delivered from Egypt and Jordan so that Israel’s economy doesn’t benefit one single Euro.

AIG my wife sent me a couple of days ago to a market and on her shopping list was paprika. Sadly the market had only paprikas with the label “product of Israel”. Guess did I buy them? Well I bought chilies from Egypt. My wife was satisfied with my “geopolitical” decision.

January 9th, 2009, 12:41 am


AIG said:


I understand Lisa Goldman well. About 20 years ago I thought like her. However, once you live long enough in the middle east you learn that there is only one way to survive here, you play Hama rules or you don’t play.

Take Lebanon as an example. You can decide to be a liberal and make the rule of law sarcosant. But how will that help you if some sect is armed and bends the rules according to its interests?

What changed my mind was the fact that right after Rabin was murdered and Peres was prime minster, Arafat and Hamas put on the most aggressive suicide bombing campaign. Instead of using the opportunity to cement peace, they chose war. I voted for Peres those elections, but are you surprised Netanyahu won? I later had to admit he was right. The only thing that works in the middle east is force. That goes for all, Arabs and Jews.

Democracies are fragile things. The Romans understood this and in times of war instantiated dictators instead of the regular republic rule. That Israel has been able to remain a flawed but nevertheless a democracy through 60 years of war is a remarkable achievement, especially when compared to the dismal results of the Arabs.

You would like the rules of the game to change. I would like them to change. But they will only change when ALL players agree to new rules. Asking Israel to become Belgium is asking Israel to comitt suicide.

January 9th, 2009, 12:47 am


AIG said:

You are of course wrong. You missed the following:

Israel finds more sympathy in Europe
Concerns about Islamist threat have influenced traditionally pro-Arab Europe’s view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
By Robert Marquand | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the January 8, 2009 edition

Paris – European Union leaders this week flanked Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as she told the world’s news media, “We are all opposed to terrorism.” For many observers in Europe, the moment underscored a little-noted but ongoing convergence between European and US-Israeli thinking – despite the tragedy and challenge that Gaza presents.

For decades, Europe was a Middle East counterbalance – generally sympathetic to Palestinians as the weaker party, critical of an unqualified US backing of Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization had offices in Europe. France’s Navy helped Yasser Arafat escape Tripoli in 1983. Europe backed the Oslo Accords, and saw the Palestinian cause as a fight for territory and statehood.

Yet Europe’s traditional position on the Arab dispute has been quietly changing: It is gravitating closer to a US-Israeli framing of a war on terror, a “clash of civilizations,” with a subtext of concern about the rise of Islam – and away from an emphasis on core grievances of Palestinians, like the ongoing Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and “occupation.”

Causes for the shift are complex and manifold, and in no small way associated with the rise of Muslim populations in Europe. But since Sept. 11, the discourse and psychology in Europe has shifted, with pro-Arab support “diluting and weakening,” as Karim Bitar, with the International Institute of Strategic Relations in Paris, puts it – and converging with US-Israeli framing of a fight against terror. [Editor’s note: The original version misspelled Mr. Bitar’s name.]

“There is convergence on goals [terrorism] between Europe and the US, and a remnant of divergence on means [military logic],” argues the French intellectual Dominique Moisi. “The Europeans are less pro-Islamic Muslims now than before, after 9/11.

“We also see that even American Jews are not entirely at peace with what Israel is doing. There’s more criticism of Israel than before, in American opinion; and in Europe there is less support of what the Arabs are.”

In the Gaza conflict, “European diplomats see a crisis with no exit point,” says a senior French scholar with extensive Mideast experience. “They think if the Israelis can put out Hamas and put in Abbas, that would be wonderful. They don’t see Hamas as Palestinian nationals, but as Islamic.”

A Euro-American convergence leaves European Union diplomats supporting Palestinians on “shallower emotional and humanitarian grounds,” says Mr. Bitar, “helping people survive, hoping economic improvement is enough, and forgetting the old issues of substance, and Israeli occupation. The two-state solution is nearly dead.”

Europe itself is not the Europe of decades past, dominated by French diplomacy, with its Arab ties. There are 27 nations. Eastern and former Soviet states, like Poland and the Czech Republic, often take American positions on foreign affairs. As Prague took over the EU presidency last week, it issued a statement that Israel’s actions in Gaza were “defensive” – later backing down under French and British censure.

In Scandinavia, traditionally pro-Arab states have found social tensions with new Muslim populations – the crisis in Denmark over a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad, for example – and public support for Arabs is down in polls. In Europe today, nearly all major leaders – France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s Gordon Brown, and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi – are seen as leaning toward Israel. The lone pro-Arab leader is Spain’s José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

“There is a general ‘Arab fatigue’ in Europe,” says Denis Bauchard, an adviser to the French Institute for International Relations in Paris. “The Palestine issue continues, the violence continues, the Palestinians are divided, and it just creates a kind of fatigue.”

“Europe fears an Islamist threat, whether internal or external, and this has begun to change the overall views on the Israel-Palestine conflict,” says Aude Signoles, an expert on Palestinian movements at the University of La Réunion in Madagascar.

A Pew Global Attitudes poll in 2006 found that French sympathies were evenly divided (38 percent) between those sympathizing with the Palestinians and with Israel, marking a doubling of support for Israel and a 10 percent gain for Palestinians over the previous two years. In Germany, 37 percent sympathized with Israel – an increase of 13 points over 2004 and more than double those who supported the Palestinians.

To be sure, Europe retains deep reservoirs of solidarity with North Africa. Public opinion here is outraged by the Gaza inferno. There is widespread condemnation of the Israeli attack, including by French President Sarkozy. European media have been overwhelmingly sympathetic to the Gazans, even while being barred from entering the Strip.

More fundamentally, says Antoine Sfeir, founder of the Middle East review “Cahiers de L’Orient,” European leaders understand the political realities in Israel, the problems of a state attacked by rockets, and the need to protect citizens. Even if he disagrees with the framing of the issue, “The Europeans don’t see this as a Palestinian thing. They see it as a Hamas thing,” he says. “In fact, this is not about terrorism; it is a war between Israel and Palestinians that is being called a war on terror.”

Ironically perhaps, Europeans were the most vocal critics of the Bush administration-coined phrase “war on terror.” It is seen as overreaching and simplistic while being used to sanction wars like Iraq.

Yet since Sept. 11, a discourse that advocates a tough confrontation with Islam has emerged in Europe – based in part on Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilization” theory – in such venues as the French magazine “Brave New World.” Sarkozy has been congenial to these points.

Authors include former leftists like Pascal Bruckner, André Glucksmann, Olivier Rolin, and Bernard-Henri Lévy who supported the war in Iraq and view Islam as a creeping form of totalitarian ideology moving into Europe. The most recent issue contains an homage to Mr. Huntington, who died last month.

Bitar argues that “Islamophobia” feeds a popular confusion in Europe about Muslims. “Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda are all viewed as the same thing. Europe used to see the Arab conflict as about territory. Now it is shifting towards the global war on terror, Islam versus the West, clash theory.”

Mr. Moisi dissents from the Huntington thesis. His recent book “Clash of Emotion,” describes a West characterized by “fear” and an Arab world characterized by “humiliation.”

US and European differences on Israel have been deep and numerous. The US and Israel have religious and theological sensibilities about the Holy Land; Europeans view the Palestinian issue through a secular and humanitarian lens.

America, with an influential Jewish population, has seen Israel’s security and right to defend itself as central. Europe, without as weighty a lobby, has stressed UN security resolutions, and international law for Palestinians that have been a counterbalance. European academics have not been uneasy with the phrase “state-sponsored terrorism” to describe Israeli violence against Palestinians; in America the phrase is seen as far-left.

Europeans saw President Clinton as an honest broker in the Mideast; President Bush has been seen as wholly aligned with Israel.

Large differences still exist between the two continents on the priority of the Palestinian-Israeli issue.

“In Europe, we see the Palestinian issue as major, one that, if not solved, will continue the chaos and violence,” says Mr. Bauchard. “Americans agree with Israel that the real issue is the existential threat from Iran. The Israelis built a wall and treated the Palestinians as unimportant.”

European media characterize the photogenic and well-spoken Ms. Livni as a moderate – though she emerged from the hard-line party of Ariel Sharon. “The Europeans really fear what will happen if [right-wing Likud Party chairman Benjamin] Netanyahu wins in February,” says Ms. Signoles. “So she is called a moderate, because in Europe, the term right-wing means violent.”

Signoles points out that the main effect of a Europe that adopts an American position is that the core Palestinian issues regarding the cessation of settlements, a shared capital of Jerusalem, and the right of return “may not be emphasized as before.… [T]he Israel-Palestine issue is an asymmetric problem, and if the international community does not raise it and balance it, there is little chance that the rights of the smaller player will be raised.”

January 9th, 2009, 12:53 am


Alex said:


“legal” … “American system”

Camera and AIPAC are indeed legal, I did not mention “illegal” in my criticism did I?

But I have higher values that I need to meet beyond just “legal”

I want to be involved in something constructive… constructive for everyone and not only for myself or my people.

You are not the only one who thinks that “legal” is good enough … Greedy and self-centered ( but mostly legal) wall street characters ended up costing the American people a trillion dollars. Mad (but legal) neocon strategies wasted another trillion in the Iraq war.

And I am happy with the success I had online … The fact you love to spend your whole day with us here is success enough for me.

January 9th, 2009, 12:56 am


AIG said:

The difference between us is simple. I respect the rule of law. You don’t, you believe that your values are above the law. I would never presume so much. is not only legal but also completely ethical. You really think the NY Times and the Washington Post are afraid of Camera? Of course not. They are much stronger institutions than camera. For some reason you cannot accept that your ideas are not persuasive and therefore you invent conspiracy theories. When you lose the war of ideas it is not because you have had less opportunity. It is because your ideas are less persuasive.

In the end, why don’t you practice what you preach? If my posts are confrontational, so what? If you demand a freer discussion in the US, why don’t you lead by example on your blog? Thus also showing that you are sincere?

January 9th, 2009, 1:09 am


Ghat Albird said:


“The state of Israel must invent dangers, and to do this it must adopt the methods of provocation and revenge”….

“And above all, let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our God given space”..

— From the diary of Moshe Sharett, Israeli’s first Foreign Minister from 1948-1956, and Prime Minister from 1954-1956.

January 9th, 2009, 1:16 am


Alex said:


Thank you for coming back and reminding me of all the problems with me … like how I believe in conspiracy theory etc (Akbar tried that one few times today, you didn’t need to)

Have fun defending the utra ethical as much as you can today. I am going to dinner.

Tomorrow try to be a bit more respectful of the rules of this blog if you want me to release your comments from the moderation list.

#1 and #3

By the way, I am not the one who decided to ban you.

January 9th, 2009, 1:24 am


SimoHurtta said:


Some Nordic headlines now. I suppose the headlines are equal in most of European media.

Sweden Dagens Nyheter
Biståndsmiljoner raderas ut. Israels bombningar förstör biståndsprojekt för miljontals kronor.
Aid millions erased. Israel’s bombings destroy aid projects worth millions of Swedish Crown (SEK)

FN-medarbetare dödad. Flyktingorganet Unrwa avbryter all verksamhet i Gaza
UN aidworker killed. Refucee organization UNRWA stops all activity in Gaza

Skräckscener i ruinerna i Gaza. Röda korset riktar ovanligt skarp kritik mot Israel.
Horible sceens in the ruins of Gaza. Red Cross addresses abnormal harsh critic against Israel.

Finland Helsingin Sanomat
YK:n avun tyrehtyminen syvensi ahdinkoa Gazassa Päivitetty 22:20
The end of UN help deepened the agony in Gaza

Suomalaishoitaja Gazan sairaalassa: Tunnelma on surullinen 22:32
A Finnish nurse in the Gaza hospital: The mood is sad

Tulitus laajeni Israelin ja Libanonin rajalle 12:34
The fire enlarged to the Israel and Lebanon border

Avustustiimi Gazassa: Hirvittävä näky 13:45
Aid team in Gaza: A terrible sight.


AIG why do we not have an European Well it would be laught out and very few would take such desperate propaganda seriously.

January 9th, 2009, 1:34 am


AIG said:

Wow. You first attack me for being “legal” and not ethical and then you complain about my answer to you. Get real.

Look, you either want to have a real argument, or you want to vent and complain. That is your choice. Arguments are too difficult, it is easier to ban argumentative (“confrontational”) people. You were given your chance but have shown yourself to be just like the people you complain about.

January 9th, 2009, 1:38 am


AIG said:

Questioning whether the writer is Jewish is a blatant anti-semitic move. You have these outings so often, you should take a little more care, otherwise rumyal and shai will stop being your BFFs.

As for the headlines you provide, they look very fair to me. Neither pro or anti Israel.

January 9th, 2009, 1:42 am


ehsani2 said:


What are you arguing about exactly?

January 9th, 2009, 1:55 am


SimoHurtta said:

AIG do not be naive. Of course it is important to know the loyalties and bindings a reporter has. Look at what is doing, they always “analyse” the loyalties their target.’s main mission is to expose the bindings and loyalties.

Look at the main page

Diana Buttu Is At It Again
January 7, 2009
Diana Buttu, the Canadian-raised Palestinian lawyer who became a propagandist for the Palestinian cause is at it again, spreading outright, risible lies.

If you call those headers in my comment not negative for Israel you have not read my comment. Israel is certainly not portrayed in a good light in those headers and not the articles.

January 9th, 2009, 2:04 am


AIG said:

Thank you as usual for proving my point.

I am arguing that instead of improving their own house and doing better, the Arabs for some reason always complain about Israel.
Seriously, can you explain to me why the Arabs just complain but do not devote any effort to improvement? Why not improve your PR? Why not make the Arab countries better? From where comes this fatalistic view that tends to point all criticizm outwards instead of inwards?

Let’s say Israel failed for any reason in the Gaza attack. Isn’t it obvious though that Hamas failed even more? After all, isn’t it clear that Hamas should care about the Palestinians much more than Israel? Yet, nobody here even thinks about analyzing what Hamas did wrong. Why?

January 9th, 2009, 2:57 am


Akbar Palace said:

Qifa Nabki said:

In light of your conversation with Akbar, isn’t it interesting that the CAMERA people regard the same news organizations that we consider to be biased towards Israel, to be biased against it?

cc: Alex

What you failed to mentioned is that the Good Doctor is also a 9-11 conspricacy theorist.


Nice to see you again. I give you less than a week before the Syrian censors get to you again…

January 9th, 2009, 3:45 am


EHSANI2 said:

Of course the Arabs have made many mistakes. Having read and re-read the history of this conflict recently, do you know what I concluded?

That the Arabs made a grave error back in June of 1948 when they agreed to the cease fire during that month. As you recall, Jerusalem was under siege at the time and the Arab legion had blocked convoys to the city. Just when the Israelis found a way to break the siege, the Arabs agreed to the truce. This marked a critical turning point in the fighting that erupted post the proclaimed independence of May 1948. The Israelis used the truce to reorganize, recruit and train soldiers. More critically, they brought in major shipments of arms. Remember that this was forbidden by the terms of the signed treaty at the time. The extra arms and recruits gave the Israelis their first real advantage in the history of this conflict. It was also during this truce that your IDF was formed as the underground armies of the Haganah, Palmah, Irgun and Lehi were amalgamated into this new single national fighting force. The Palestinian Arabs were asleep at the wheel while the Arab states were reluctant to commit more men or money to the fight.

As you know, next came the invasion of the Arab towns of Lod and Ramla and the start of the expulsion of most of the Palestinians living there.

So, AIG:

You are right to blame the Arabs. Starting from that infamous summer of 1948, the Arabs committed fatal errors that allowed Israel to tip the balance in its favor ever since.

Demographics, defiance and a strong sense of nationalism are all in favor of the Palestinian population. They will not go away regardless. Israel better finds a solution soon as the land of Canaan has not been kind to its rulers over its 2000 year history.

January 9th, 2009, 3:59 am


norman said:

Joshua , I just hope you do not mind,

For people who want to donate to the poor people of Gaza,

NAAMA ,National Arab American Medical Association,

SAMS, Syrian American Medical Society,

Dear SAMS Members, friends:

As events are unfolding in Gaza, and as our brothers and sisters are facing one of the most vicious attacks against innocent women and children, we cannot stand and watch as helpless. The events in Gaza will be reported in the history as one of the worst crimes against humanity. “DEMOCRACIES” and LEADERS of FREE world are turned to be silent viewers of the crime. The random killings by the Israeli army extended to include the UN envoys, the UN schools with children and teachers, the ambulance drivers, the trucks carrying food and medical help. Power is not available, food is rare, water is undrinkable, basic medical care is not available. Unfortunately the world leaders are silent, but the people in the world are not.

SAMS and other medical, humanitarian and civil right organization are working actively to provide help to our brothers and sisters in GAZA. As a medical organization we are asking our members and all people concerned to participate in an organized help to alleviate the suffering of the innocents. Several steps can be taken:

1- Financial aids: SAMS has established a fund through its foundation to benefit GAZA victims. The tax deductible donation can be done by check or credit card to SAMS foundation, GAZA relief fund. The money will be directed via UNRWA the United Nations Relief & Work Agency working to help the GAZA victims, or via other relief agency.

2- Medical equipments and medications: Can be donated via SAMS to UNRWA

3- Volunteers: SAMS already started the ground work to arrange GROUP OF PHYSICIANS to travel when conditions are safe. These may include orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, trauma surgeons, cardiologists, etc… If you have any interest in volunteerism please let SAMS know via the addresses below.

4- Public relation campaign: People in the U.S should know what is going on in GAZA. SAMS is encouraging members to spread the information to all American friends and neighbors, including the senators and members of Congress. Several American Jewish organizations have spoken strongly against these crimes. Nothing is more powerful than massive email campaign to the members of Congress.

I am confident that most of you feel the anger and outrage against the crimes being committed against people in GAZA. Please contribute to the GAZA relief fund as follow:

Make checks payable to SAMS foundation, GAZA Relief Fund

Address: PO box 1015

Canfield, OH 44406

By credit card: Please visit our website

Download & fill out the Gaza Relief Fund form and fax it back to (330) 286-0325

Medical equipments: Please contact SAMS via email at with the medical equipment description and its quantity.

For volunteerism: Please contact SAMS at and report your specialty and desire to be a part of the relief team

Thank you again. This is the least we can do in the face of this tragedy.

Naim Farhat,M.D.

SAMS president

On behalf of SAMS leadership

I hope many of you will help,

January 9th, 2009, 4:05 am


norman said:


You are so right , they give to Israel via the security council what Israel can not get via war and destruction,

To day a new security council resolution calling for a cease fire without calling for Israeli withdrawal,or immediate lifting of the blockade and asking again Egypt to manage the talks between Israel and the Palestinians like all these Palestinians died for nothing , I am so ashamed of the cowardliness that I see in KSA and Egypt,

That should not pass , It is just another way to reward Israel.

January 9th, 2009, 4:19 am


norman said:

There is news that the MB of Syria has suspended their opposition to the Syrian government in recognition of the dire situation that faces Syria,and the Mideast and in support for the Syrian position,

That is fantastic, and a major understanding by the MB,
That will increase their statue in Syria,

January 9th, 2009, 4:31 am


norman said:

Friday, January 09, 2009
01:16 Mecca time, 22:16 GMT
News Middle East

Hamas: We will win war in Gaza

By Shane Bauer in Damascus

Abu Marzouq insists Hamas will win the war against Israel [Reuters]

Israel’s war on Gaza has left more than 700 Palestinians dead – nearly a third of them women and children – and more than 3,000 injured.

But at the organisation’s headquarters in Damascus, 100km miles from the territory, Musa Abu Marzouq, the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, told Al Jazeera why he believes his organisation is on the verge of victory against Israel.

Al Jazeera: Under what conditions will Hamas agree a ceasefire with Israel?

Abu Marzouq: We have three conditions for any peace initiative coming from any state.

First, the aggression of the Israelis should stop. All of the gates should be opened, including the gate of Rafah between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Finally, Israel has to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

We are not saying we will stop firing rockets from the Gaza Strip to Israel – we are only talking about stopping the aggression from the Israelis against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.

When others talk about a ceasefire, they are saying all military operations should stop.

But we are sending a message [by firing rockets]: “We will not surrender. We have to fight the Israelis and we will win this battle.”

We know we are going to lose a lot of people from our side, but we are going to win, inshallah.

Members of Hamas have said that Israel is using collective punishment by targeting civilians who support Hamas. But is Hamas’ targeting of Israeli civilians also not a type of collective punishment?

We are defending ourselves.

When you talk about any occupation, people should resist the soldiers and the army who occupy their country.

We don’t have weapons sophisticated enough to launch at exact targets.

We are sending a message: “You can’t provide security to your side until you bring security to the Palestinian side.”

We are looking for freedom and for security for the Palestinian people. This is our message to Israel.

They need to understand that we are working for an independent state.

How do you think Israel’s war on Gaza will affect Hamas’ position?

The Israeli push against Hamas has increased our popularity sharply among the Palestinian people and throughout the Muslim world.

After the Israelis killed Hamas leaders like Ahmed Yassin and Ismail Abu Shanab, Hamas won the elections with 76 seats out of a 132-seat parliament.

Using these means doesn’t decrease the popularity of Hamas, it increases it.

What exactly would you consider to be “victory” for Hamas?

A victory for Hamas would mean the Israelis did not accomplish their objectives.

If they can’t stop rockets from coming into Israel, that means they failed.

But the real reason for Israel’s aggression is to change the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip – they have been thinking about this since Hamas won the elections – it is not because of the rockets.

They failed to lead the people in an uprising against Hamas in the Gaza Strip with their economic embargo.

They tried to push Fatah to stand and fight Hamas, but we defeated them in the Gaza Strip, so the Israelis have taken action themselves.

Why, at the beginning of this conflict, did Hamas decide not to renew the six-month ceasefire?

We agreed to this ceasefire under Egyptian mediation with certain conditions.


Latest news and analysis from Gaza and Israel

Track the war and submit your own reports

Send us your views and eyewitness videos

Watch our coverage of the war on Gaza

All military operations were to be stopped by June 19.

All of the six gates between Israel and Gaza were to remain open.

In the first 10 days of the truce, 30 per cent of the goods coming from Israel to the Gaza Strip were to be allowed in and, after that 10-day period, all supplies were to be allowed to enter.

Also, there was to be a meeting between the Europeans, Egyptians, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to discuss how to open the Rafah gate.

Finally, the ceasefire was supposed to be extended to the West Bank.

During those six months, the Israelis kept the border crossings closed most of the time.

Only 15 per cent of goods were allowed to enter the Gaza Strip from Israel.

They killed more than 40 people in the last month of the ceasefire, eight of which were in the last week.

On many occasions, the Egyptians told us that the Israelis were not respecting the agreement.

Their refusal to allow supplies to enter was a type of slow killing of the Palestinians.

The Palestinians eventually asked: “What is the use of this ceasefire for us?”

For that reason, we didn’t renew that agreement.

Khalid Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, in December called for a “military intifada against the Zionist enemy” and as a “peaceful intifada internally”.

What did he mean by an internal peaceful intifada?

I think he meant that there needs to be internal change among the Palestinians.

Right now the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank controls everything. This is not acceptable.

We need to peacefully change these conditions.

How are relations between Hamas and Fatah now?

Now the priority for Hamas, Fatah or any Palestinian organisation is to stand against the Israeli aggression.

After we finish with this battle, I guess we can talk about reconciliation or reuniting with Fatah.

We openly welcome any kind of negotiation or dialogue between Fatah and Hamas to end the separation of the Palestinians.

When French president Nicolas Sarkozy met with Syrian president Bahsar al-Assad, many said he tried to encourage Damascus to put pressure on Hamas to stop firing rockets.

Have you faced any kind of pressure from Syria?

We haven’t seen any pressure from Syria.

They respect our independence. They respect our choices. They respect the policies we chose for our people.

Has Hamas had any contact with the administration of Barack Obama, the US president-elect?

No, we haven’t had any direct contact.

Do you have any expectations regarding the approach of Hillary Clinton, the US nominee-designate for the post of US secretary of state?

We cannot evaluate something that lies in the future.

We know that in the US senate, Hillary Clinton’s vote was always with Israel, but maybe there will be some differences when she becomes secretary of state.

Source: Al Jazeera

January 9th, 2009, 4:49 am


Chris said:


It is silly to suggest that pro-Israeli activists protesting to what they see as unfair crticism of Israel is akin to the lack of free speech in Syria. The situation is completely different. Completely.

You are referring to people,, who are part of a discussion about what is aproppriate and honest. That is one of the benefits of free-speech, Carter, Dershowitz and yourself can legally go at it so that the rest of us can get a nice critique of what is out there.

Yes, or organizations like them engage in letter writing campaigns when they feel that a news outlet has stepped over the line. That is fine too. For obvious reasons.

What you may not like is that they are effective.

January 9th, 2009, 4:52 am


AIG said:


You are studying the mistakes the Arabs made in the past. That is a great first step. But you don’t look committed to making any changes. It seems that what you endorse is a strategy of excessive breeding in a small area without resources. That is not a strategy, that is a cop out. I also don’t understand why you think it will work. It will only make a viable Palestinian state only more remote.

Again, it is the Arabs that must find a solution, not Israel. I will take my chances in Israel, thank you very much. On the other hand, what you propose for your Arab brothers is a strategy in which they suffer for several more generations at least. Please don’t complain then when they suffer. This is the point I really don’t understand. You choose a strategy of sufferring for the Palestinians and then you complain when they do indeed suffer.

On the other hand there is a simple solution. All the Palestinians have to do is accept the Quartet conditions and renounce the right of return and they will get a state with huge economic backing from the West. That is a great deal that can be had NOW. Put it in the list of additional Arab mistakes.

January 9th, 2009, 5:17 am


Chris said:


That scenario, of accepting the quartets conditions and forgoing the right of return, would require compromise. I don’t see much of a desire for compromise; I see a call for victory. Is there a large peace camp in the Palestinian territories? Something tells me that Sari Nusseibeh is an anomaly.

I hope not. It could also be that at the popular level there are many more Nusseibeh’s out there, but that the radicals have taken many of the positions of power, in the mold of Hamas. Of course, there’s a lot of ambivalence out there even in any single person’s mind.

The key is convincing enough people that there is a credible commitment from Israel to a two-state solution, while at the same time being able to marginalize or eliminate the Hamas and their ilk.

January 9th, 2009, 6:08 am


Alex said:


Thank you for letting me know that my opinion is silly. In the future I will try harder to learn how to formulate more serious opinions that might earn your approval.

If you are genuinely unable to realize that these “people” do not want a discussion but are only interested in harrasing those who dare differ with their views, I suggest you take another look at the video clips I posted, especially the AIPAC members who got totally confused, upset and bewildered when they heard a politely critical question (from Aljazera reporter) … then they clapped when the speaker refused to engage in a discussion with the reporter!

January 9th, 2009, 7:39 am


offended said:

AIG, welcome back. is like a PR manager of an ex-con (a drug dealer, a serial killer, tax evader…etc…) whose job is to sugar coat the turd Israel produces everyday and then feed it back to media outlets and israel sympathizers.

I can’t think of anything more despicable than to try and ‘humanize’ the racist, fascist, and blood-thirsty actions of the IDF or some Israeli politicians.

And btw, you pretty much resemble that PR manager. I am not complaining though, who’s complaining actually? All I am saying is that you fall within the same category I mentioned above in my second paragraph.

January 9th, 2009, 7:50 am


Alex said:

I heard that many of the names we heard circulated as candidates for “mideast envoy” will end up being appointed .. there will be enough positions for most … between the president’s office and the secretary of state’s

I guess if true it would be consistent with Obama’s style of including many different views among his advisers.

January 9th, 2009, 7:50 am


Chris said:


Of course, no one is suggesting that you ought to seek my approval, but many will dismiss your comments as silly when you equate the situation of free-speech in the U.S. with that in Syria.

I am not suggesting that advocacy groups like AIPAC are interested in discussion with Al Jazeera. What I am saying is that the presence of advocacy groups, like CAIR and AIPAC form part of a larger discussion in society. That larger discussion is what I was referring to.

Groups such as AIPAC, Camera, and the Israeli Embassy do not control U.S. media. Often times media tailors their coverage to be consistent with the views of their customers.

January 9th, 2009, 8:02 am


offended said:

As far as these people ( and affiliates) are concerned: all the detractors of Israel are either anti-Semites or self-hating Jews. You have a problem with Israel? Why do you have problem with Jewish people?

See this article for example, in which Jeffery Goldberg wonders why the ‘whole world’ is interested only in the failings of Israel (which he calls ‘pornographic’ interest in Jewish moral failure). And then after he’d expressed concern for the people of Gaza, he goes on to complain about the omnipresence of photos of dead Palestinian babies in the media:

“But ask yourselves this: Why are these pictures so omnipresent? I’ll tell you why, again from firsthand, and repeated, experience: Hamas (and the Aksa Brigades, and Islamic Jihad, the whole bunch) prevents the burial, or even preparation of the bodies for burial, until the bodies are used as props in the Palestinian Passion Play. Once, in Khan Younis, I actually saw gunmen unwrap a shrouded body, carry it a hundred yards and position it atop a pile of rubble — and then wait a half-hour until photographers showed.”

So you guys realize why dead babies are so omnipresent? It’s because they’re not buried fast enough. They are photographed. It’s not because there are 230 dead babies in Gaza already and if there was a photo for every 4 dead kids you’d end up with almost 60 photos on the span of few days.

For me, this article by what is purported to be a ‘balanced journalist with life-long career in the middle east’; is the most despicable thing. It mentally prepares the uninformed and the uninitiated to accept the photos of dead babies as fact of life. Or easier, blame it on the father who doesn’t burry his child quickly. There’s an easier way, why do you unearth the corpses at all? keep them in the rubbles, that way you keep them from becoming ‘so omnipresent’ and, by result, you keep Jeffery Goldberg happy.

January 9th, 2009, 8:18 am


Chris said:


You said:
As far as these people ( and affiliates) are concerned: all the detractors of Israel are either anti-Semites or self-hating Jews. You have a problem with Israel? Why do you have problem with Jewish people?

My question to you is who has said that criticism of Israel is anti-semitic? I’ve heard that its been said, but I’ve never heard it said and I’ve been following the Middle East for some time now. Who in the media, in political circles, or with any stature has actually said that to criticise Israel is anti-semitic? Again, I haven’t heard it said, but I hear people frequently saying things to the effect of “oh, its horrible when people suggest that criticism of Israel is anti-semitic.”

January 9th, 2009, 8:32 am


Alex said:


And I did not “equate” … I was very clear in saying that while dictators might be 99% effective in preventing the media in their countries from criticizing them, AIPAC,, many many more “watchdogs” and the Israeli consulates in the US are perhaps 90% effective … which also does not imply “control” as you suggested I believe… control goes with 100% success and it works differently from strong, but often indirect, influence.

I’m sure you can remind me of so many examples of those who can indeed criticize Israel in the US .. but they don’t add up to more than 10% of coverage.

For example, the New York Times and the Washington Post do sometimes publish opinion pieces which are mildly or indirectly critical of Israel … Read President Carter’s opinion piece today and notice how he did not really criticize Israel directly even though we know he would love to do so much ore openly.

The difference between AIPAC and CAIR is the degree to which they are “successful” .. if CAIR was as “successful” as AIPAC I would be the first to complain, I assure you. That would be scary… I wrote here before the folllowing:

Imagine if CAIR was able to “influence” President Hussein Obama to hire the following:

1) Abdul Hamid ElJaber for Chief of staff
2) Ahmed Mahmoud Hamad for special advisor
3) Mohammed Kamal for Mideast envoy
4) President Carter for secretary of state

How would you feel about that? .. how would the American people feel about that?

I understand and support the need for both of them but AIPAC’s influence on Washington is not healthy at all. Besides, AIPAC proved that it does not represent American Jews they opposed the Iraq war and AIPAC strongly encouraged it… It seems that it actually represents much more closely Likud .. a foreign political party.

As for Camera .. sorry but I can only tell you that I am trying to chose my words carefully when I write my opinion about them .. I REALLY do not respect that project.

– Haaretz’s editor-in-chief, David Landau, said “it was “a matter of policy and principle” not to respond to CAMERA, which Landau described as “McCarthyite”

– Five editors involved in a CAMERA campaign to secretly rewrite the content of Wikipedia content related to Israel were sanctioned by Wikipedia administrators.

January 9th, 2009, 8:44 am


idaf said:

For anyone questioning the immorality of Camera and AIPAC in arm-twisting, financial pressure and personality assassination of any reporter trying to do his or her job honestly in being fair and balanced, take a look at the following research done in 2001:

The examples are numerous and all lead to the exact same outcome in the US as the outcome of the one-sided propaganda on state-run media in Syria for example.. ignorant audience and biased public. Luckily in Syria, no one watch the news on state-run media so the public stays informed by scanning a wide range of media sources. However, unfortunate for the American public, they stay ignorant about the topic because they do not access other sources.

January 9th, 2009, 8:47 am


offended said:

Chris, are we playing words’ game here? I didn’t say somebody said that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, I said when somebody, anybody, criticizes Israel, for people like he’s either an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew. Of course they’d not say don’t criticize Israel because it’s anti-semantic. That would be too blatant wouldn’t it?
They’re just simply implying that, criticize Israel and we will persecute the hell out of you. you see, they’re creating an environment where criticizing Israel is something to be avoided….
For them, and for many in the US media, Israel is a nation that can’t go wrong.
Take a look at this article for instance:

Four years ago, on December 26, the day after Christmas, a massive tsunami hit the shores of the Indian Ocean. a
This year, on December 26, a different kind of tsunami hit the shores of the Mediterranean Sea – a tsunami of bombs and missiles. On that day, according to the Jerusalem Post, Israel sent at least 100 fighter jets and helicopters, over 200 bombs and missiles, to destroy more than 170 targets in the tiny coastal strip known as Gaza, home to about 1.5 million Palestinians.
I must admit, this is a column I didn’t want to write. I’ve already lived through one experience of being targeted by those who believe Israel can do no wrong. Indeed, all through this last week, I listened hungrily to news reports hoping that some other disaster would surface that I could write about instead. It didn’t happen.
Why is it that every government in the world is fair game for critical comment – except one? Call China ruthless; describe Zimbabwe as a madhouse governed by a lunatic; ridicule the intellectual shortcomings of George W. Bush – and that’s a legitimate exercise of free speech.
But criticize Israel, and it’s racism.

And I don’t really get your point about people’s obsession with the conflict. What are you saying? that decades of occupation, expulsion of hundreds of thousands of indigenous population, millions living in diaspora and hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded is not enough conflict for you?

Is the United States supporting the wrongdoers in Darfur? Is the world sole super power pumping 6 billion dollars worth of aid to one party of the conflict in Congo or Somalia?

And Chris, seriously, why do you think photos of dead palestinian babies are so omnipresent in the US media?

January 9th, 2009, 9:14 am


offended said:

Some change?

Obama is ready to communicate/talk with Hamas.

“The incoming Obama administration is prepared to abandon George Bush’s ­doctrine of isolating Hamas by establishing a channel to the Islamist organisation, sources close to the transition team say.

The move to open contacts with Hamas, which could be initiated through the US intelligence services, would represent a definitive break with the Bush ­presidency’s ostracising of the group. The state department has designated Hamas a terrorist organisation, and in 2006 ­Congress passed a law banning US financial aid to the group.

The Guardian has spoken to three ­people with knowledge of the discussions in the Obama camp. There is no talk of Obama approving direct diplomatic negotiations with Hamas early on, but he is being urged by advisers to initiate low-level or clandestine approaches, and there is growing recognition in Washington that the policy of ostracising Hamas is counter-productive. A tested course would be to start ­contacts through Hamas and the US intelligence services, similar to the secret process through which the US engaged with the PLO in the 1970s. Israel did not become aware of the contacts until much later.”


About bloody time isn’t it?

January 9th, 2009, 9:25 am


Chris said:


The headline you referred us to in which characterizes a cartoon as anti-semitic was indeed anti-semitic. It was a cartoon of Uncle Sam handcuffed by a Star of David, which as you may know, is a symbol of Judaism.

The notion of the disloyal Jew who controls the economy and is working behind the scenes is an anti-semitic trope that goes back to the middle ages. That cartoon with its image of the U.S. symbolized by Uncle Sam under the control of something represented by the Star of David, i.e. the Jewish community, is reminiscent of this historical representation of Jews.

January 9th, 2009, 9:29 am


offended said:

which as you may know, is a symbol of Judaism.

How can you tell? maybe the cartoonist meant the star on the Israeli flag?

January 9th, 2009, 9:33 am


Alex said:


The star of David is also a symbol of the state of Israel .. it is on the flag… it is on those F16 bombers you are sending to kill Palestinian children .. why is Israel tainting such a religious symbol by putting it on its fighter jets and taking a chance that cartoonists will use it in their cartoons ?

Who said anything about “the Jewish community”? are you again trying to turn criticism of Israel into criticism of Jews? …

There is a difference between

1) Israeli government
2) Israel (people)
3) Likud and AIPAC and
4) American Jews

Most of the American Jews were against the war in Iraq yet the Bush administration, supported by AIPAC, went for that war…

January 9th, 2009, 9:35 am


Chris said:

You’re reaching. The Israeli flag is an Israeli flag, and a Star of David is the Star of David.

The article that the cartoon was attached to refers to “Israel’s False Friends (in America).” Then we see a Star of David as handcuffs next to it. Hence, the star of david is referring to Israel’s friends in America, not the Christian Zionists (who would be represented by a cross) but the Jews.

January 9th, 2009, 9:47 am


offended said:

Okay Chris, if you were a cartoonist, what symbol for Israel would you use?

and you haven’t answered my earlier question btw.

January 9th, 2009, 9:52 am


Alex said:


I also often criticize Israel’s false friends in the United States but I am not an antisemite … I prefer to call them Likud’s friends because that’s what they became the past few years. They are not “American Jews” .. American Jews are real and normal people with varying opinions … AIPAC often criticizes prominent American Jews for example.

January 9th, 2009, 9:58 am


Shai said:

Why shouldn’t people experience antisemitic (anti-Jewish) feelings right now? What is Israel, or the world Jewish community, doing that deserves understanding and not hatred? Most people in America, I would imagine, experienced very anti-Muslim feelings after 9/11. And many still do, until this very day. Just as many will hate Jews long after this catastrophe ends. But there is a main difference between the two communities – after 9/11, the ENTIRE Muslim community in the U.S., and elsewhere around the world (including in very anti-American regimes, like Iran), condemned this cowardly and criminal act of terrorism. But where do we find such condemnation today, from the Jewish community?

As hard as it is for me to say this, I too would hate all Israelis and Jews today. It will take a lot of time, to get many people to recognize, that this massacre wasn’t a Jewish-driven act, but an Israeli one. And it will take a very long time, to make many moderate Arabs, to again consider listening even to peace-loving Israelis. Today, I can’t say either Israel, or Judaism, is doing us proud. But I know some, perhaps also here on SC, feel quite the opposite…

January 9th, 2009, 10:03 am


Chris said:

I am not a cartoonist, so I do not know what symbol to represent Israel.

My earlier assertion is that the symbol was not intended to represent Israel, but the Jewish community in the states that is backing Israel, as the article suggests. The article and the cartoon point to the, according to the authors, great influence of the Jewish community. It is when they point to the lobbyists for Israel and then use the Star of David that indicates that they are talking about Jews, in America. Then to use that symbol and imply that the Jews in America have some kind of stranglehold, by using the image of a handcuff, over the U.S., is consistent with a trope that has gone back to medieval times: the scheming Jew who controls the country, or the international economy, for his own benefit without regard for the interest of his/her countrymen.


What earlier question are you referring to? There were a few.

January 9th, 2009, 10:06 am


offended said:

Chris, I can’t see how a cartoonist can refer to Israel (or its influence in the United States) without depicting religious symbols.

January 9th, 2009, 10:21 am


Akbar Palace said:

Why shouldn’t people experience antisemitic (anti-Jewish) feelings right now?


I can’t say I’m surprised by your comment (coming from an Israeli Leftist). If you haven’t noticed, the minute Israel defends itself, the antisemites have come out into the open. We’re used to it.

Nothing unusual. So then CAMERA and MEMRI and other websites come to the recue to point out errors in the world media and the political ambitions of the terror organizations, and voila, the average “Joe” (in the free world), can make an informed decision as to who has the moral “high ground”.

Israel wins in that department Shai. Unlike you, most people understand a nation going to war with a neighboring country who fires missiles into it indiscriminately. Even Pat Buchanan can argue against it. That Hamas uses the civilian population for cover does not really help Hamas to win supporters. I think it has an opposite effect.

Lastly, keep in mind, that when the jihadists begin to increase their “foreign policy goals”, and conduct suicide missions like the one in Mumbai, don’t be surprised when we experience anti-Muslim and/or anti-Arab sentiment.

When the next bomb goes off in Israel, Madrid, London or New York, I wonder if you’ll be surprised if people “experience anti-Arab feelings”.


Excellent posts…

January 9th, 2009, 12:06 pm


AIG said:

Offended and Alex,
Let’s see.
1) You find what camera does as unethical but wholly support a regime that has shut down freedom of speech in Syria for decades! If camera is unethical, does that not make the Asad regime unethical also? And if so, why do you support it?

2) In the course of the Gaza operation, hundreds of Iraqis were killed by suicide bombers. Can you explain to me why you are not outraged about those, or doing anything about those? I am asking because it seems to me you value only the life of an Arab killed by an Israeli, not that of an Arab killed by an Arab.

3) Do you really think that an organization like Hamas could get good PR in the US?

January 9th, 2009, 12:09 pm


ugarit said:

Fox News and its pro-Israeli bias

An “insider” sent me inside Fox News communication:
“Sent: Monday, December 29, 2008 3:08 PM
To: 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com)
Subject: GAZA story/updating

As we hand off the updating of the Gaza story into this evening, please make SURE we keep at least these three grafs in our updating story: Hamas, whose charter specifically calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdon and the European Union and is banned in Jordan. From 2000 to 2004, Hamas was responsible for killing nearly 400 Israelis and wounding more than 2,000 in 425 attacks, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 2001 through May 2008, Hamas launched more than 3,000 Qassam rockets and 2,500 mortar attacks against Israeli targets.—–Original Message—–

Subject: Fwd: the 4 dek and more…Gentlemen… Hamas, whose charter specifically calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, the UK and the European Union … even Jordan bans its existance. From 2000-2004, Hamas was responsible for killing nearly 400 Israelis and wounding more than 2,000 in 425 attacks, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 2001 through May 2008, Hamas has launched more than 3,000 Qassam rockets and 2,500 mortar attacks against Israeli targets. Let’s repeat that: Hamas has launched more than 3,000 rockets at Israel. And, these are rockets — not missiles — meaning they have no guidance system, and frequently and randomly strike civilian targets. Further, even Human Rights Watch has stated that Hamas leaders “should be held accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity.” So, let’s be very clear about this. The “calls to end the bloodshed” that someone wrote of in the current 4 come from Hamas allies in the Arab world, particularly Syria, a sponsor of Islamic terrorists. NO WHERE in our reporting do we make ANY of these things clear… and, we haven’t done so since Israel’s offensive began. Let’s start doing our job, folks, and stop blindly following the reporting by the Associated Press. I want smart editing of these stories, STARTING NOW. This means accurate, fair and balanced stories and presentation — this is Israel fighting against a terrorist organization hell bent on its destruction. Now do it right, and start by fixing the current story, and FIX THE 4 dek, NOW!”

January 9th, 2009, 12:34 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Now post something from the BBC to show their pro-Israel bias.

January 9th, 2009, 12:41 pm


why-discuss said:

Op-Ed Contributor NY TIMES
What You Don’t Know About Gaza

NEARLY everything you’ve been led to believe about Gaza is wrong. Below are a few essential points that seem to be missing from the conversation, much of which has taken place in the press, about Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip.

THE GAZANS Most of the people living in Gaza are not there by choice. The majority of the 1.5 million people crammed into the roughly 140 square miles of the Gaza Strip belong to families that came from towns and villages outside Gaza like Ashkelon and Beersheba. They were driven to Gaza by the Israeli Army in 1948.

THE OCCUPATION The Gazans have lived under Israeli occupation since the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel is still widely considered to be an occupying power, even though it removed its troops and settlers from the strip in 2005. Israel still controls access to the area, imports and exports, and the movement of people in and out. Israel has control over Gaza’s air space and sea coast, and its forces enter the area at will. As the occupying power, Israel has the responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention to see to the welfare of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

THE BLOCKADE Israel’s blockade of the strip, with the support of the United States and the European Union, has grown increasingly stringent since Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006. Fuel, electricity, imports, exports and the movement of people in and out of the Strip have been slowly choked off, leading to life-threatening problems of sanitation, health, water supply and transportation.

The blockade has subjected many to unemployment, penury and malnutrition. This amounts to the collective punishment — with the tacit support of the United States — of a civilian population for exercising its democratic rights.

THE CEASE-FIRE Lifting the blockade, along with a cessation of rocket fire, was one of the key terms of the June cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. This accord led to a reduction in rockets fired from Gaza from hundreds in May and June to a total of less than 20 in the subsequent four months (according to Israeli government figures). The cease-fire broke down when Israeli forces launched major air and ground attacks in early November; six Hamas operatives were reported killed.

WAR CRIMES The targeting of civilians, whether by Hamas or by Israel, is potentially a war crime. Every human life is precious. But the numbers speak for themselves: Nearly 700 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since the conflict broke out at the end of last year. In contrast, there have been around a dozen Israelis killed, many of them soldiers. Negotiation is a much more effective way to deal with rockets and other forms of violence. This might have been able to happen had Israel fulfilled the terms of the June cease-fire and lifted its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

This war on the people of Gaza isn’t really about rockets. Nor is it about “restoring Israel’s deterrence,” as the Israeli press might have you believe. Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”

Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Arab studies at Columbia, is the author of the forthcoming “Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East.”

January 9th, 2009, 12:41 pm


Chris said:

I think Why-Discuss’ last post goes a long way towards dispelling the notion that Israel and Israeli sympathizers are 90% effective at preventing criticism. The fact that the NYTimes would publish an OP-ED piece by someone like Rashid Khalidi tells me that they are interesting in airing all kinds of views, even the views of polemicists such as Khalidi.

Of course, the NYTimes isn’t just any newspaper. It forms a large part of the news that American’s consume everyday and its frontpage heavily influences what is seen on that that days evening news.

January 9th, 2009, 1:08 pm


ugarit said:

AP requested “Now post something from the BBC to show their pro-Israel bias.”

I will leave that to you as homework. Google is replete with examples. BBC used to be more even handed until they were thoroughly bashed by influential Zionists. I would imagine that their broadcast into the US was held hostage.

January 9th, 2009, 1:25 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Exactly. Why-Discuss just proved that Observers article by Jean Bricmont in Post #1 is a crock of drek and Alex’s assertions are baseless.

2. Allow non-Jews to speak their mind about Israel

Apparently non-Jews are ALLOWED to speak their mind about Israel whenever they want and do.

It also just so happens that the NYT is losing readership and in huge financial trouble and that Fox News in gaining market share.

The Free Press is a bitch…


Here you go… I pressed my “easy button”…

January 9th, 2009, 1:30 pm


Chris said:


After seeing that the BBC had apologized profusely for calling Jerusalem Israel’s capital, I find it hard to believe that the BBC is “replete with examples” of pro-Israel bias.

News agencies such as the BBC are supposed to keep their political views out of their reporting. The decision by many countries to consider Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital is a political one. A news agency such as the BBC should not incorporate people’s politicized determination of where Israel’s capital ought to be in its reporting. The fact is that the Knesset and Israel’s Supreme Court are in Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, therefore, it would be difficult to explain BBC’s decision to consider Tel Aviv Israel’s capital without drawing from political motives. The fact that the BBC editorial board has made such a political decision leads me to believe that if anything there is a pro-Palestinian bias in their reporting.

January 9th, 2009, 1:42 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


I think that there are plenty of people in the region (and on this blog) who would like to see the rules of the game change for all the players at the same time. But that will not happen without some kind of a peace process, which, thanks to the current round of our endless conflict, seems like a quaint notion indeed.

And with regard to your just-add-signatures solution… actually, the Arab world (Palestinians included) has more or less agreed to this, but Israel has not budged. The Arab Peace Initiative (which Hamas would honor, were it approved by a majority of Palestinians) calls for ending the entire conflict, and the general understanding is that “a just solution for the refugees” means reparations and a symbolic return, not a full one. And yet, Israel prefers to play macho man with Gazan children rather than take the Arab offer seriously.

Mahmoud Abbas went so far as to publish full page ADVERTISEMENTS for this deal in Arab papers. What more do you want us to do?

There’s a deal on the table. Why don’t you take it?

By the way, I know you are willing to have Israel contribute money for reparations. Are you also willing to accept moral responsibility for the creation of the refugee problem?

January 9th, 2009, 1:46 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

On the subject of just how far behind we are in affecting U.S. policy, here’s a personal anecdote.

I discovered this morning that the Senate would be voting on a resolution relating to the Gaza conflict. As expected, it places all the blame on Hamas, gives Israel the U.S.’s unqualified support for its continued assault, etc. You can read the entire bill on AIPAC’s website, here.

The fact that AIPAC is behind this is not the interesting bit. What is interesting is that I only heard about this via a Jewish organization called Jewish Voice for Peace. They are the ones who are emailing their members, imploring them to contact their political representatives, to protest the one-sided resolution, etc. They are the ones with the smart looking website full of publicity materials, news releases, and ways to help the suffering in Gaza, etc.

It’s a sad state of affairs when we have to rely upon Israeli and Jewish-American pro-peace groups to know which way is up.

January 9th, 2009, 2:26 pm


jad said:

It always makes me laugh when I read some American foreign student who got nothing from his studying experience in Syria except the hatred of it’s people, and I totally waste my time reading his amature comments defending Israelis and their lovers while looking down at Syrians and Arabs in general and doesn’t care if they die by the dozens…what a weird world we live in…

January 9th, 2009, 2:34 pm


Chris said:


I sure hope you aren’t referring to me. Because first of all, I in no way hate Syria or Syrians, let’s make that clear. I regret writing anything that could be understood as expressing hatred. I’m surprised that I have written something that could be taken that way.

In any case, everything I’ve written on this thread, I believe, has been about the media in the U.S. and the BBC. So, I don’t know where the accusations of hatred for Syrians comes from.

Also, I don’t believe I’ve written anything in this thread defending Israelis.

January 9th, 2009, 2:45 pm


Akbar Palace said:

It’s a sad state of affairs when we have to rely upon Israeli and Jewish-American pro-peace groups to know which way is up.

QN –

You mean you don’t know already?;)

Anyway, here’s something to cheer you up…


If you have factual evidence disproving an anti-Zionist poster, you, unfortuantely become an Arab “hater”.

January 9th, 2009, 2:52 pm


EHSANI2 said:


You asked me earlier to explain to you why Arabs do not look inwards instead of pointing all criticism outward.

My comment number 48 tried to explain to you how indeed the Arabs committed a number of errors, the gravest of all being in the summer of 1948.

I then explained to you how “demographics, defiance and a strong sense of nationalism” will make it very hard for Israel to drive the Palestinians into submission.

Your response (number 54) is silly.

First, where did you see me “endorse” excessive breeding? If you follow my comments of the past, you will notice that I have written repeatedly about the dangers of a demographic time bomb in the region. I specifically mentioned Yemen as an example not long ago. The demographic trends that I have been alluding to cover the entire region. Incidentally, excessive breeding is a term that is usually associated with rabbits and non-humans. I am not sure whether you view the Palestinian Arabs any differently, hence the use of your terminology perhaps.

Rather than “endorsing” a demographic explosion, I was trying to bring to your attention an issue that does not need my endorsement. It is a fact that your people will have to deal with.

As to your other silly remark, you claim that I was proposing a strategy that would make my Arab brothers suffer for “several more generations”. Where did I articulate such a sweeping strategy?

The demographic issue is not going away anytime soon.

When you live in a large concentration camp, despair is not going away anytime soon either. Neither is the sense of nationalism no matter how much Israel has attempted to convince the Palestinian Arabs that submission and giving up is their most rational option.

You are advocating some type of stop loss for the Arabs. Being a trader by profession, I practice this advice daily in my line of business. But, when you decide to cut your losses in a trade, you do so to preserve something from your investment before you lose it all by waiting. In the case of the Palestinians of Gaza, they have precious little left to lose. The stock/investment that they own already trades at near zero. Cutting losses in such cases stops to make sense. You simply decide to say f……, it is already too late to cut and run.

January 9th, 2009, 2:55 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Eshani2 said:

When you live in a large concentration camp, despair is not going away anytime soon either.

Unless, of course, you take the option of making peace and getting unlimited international funds for doing so. I find that the pro-Palestinians never present the choice that Hamas and the Gazan have had for years.

Some participants and “authors” here as well as the democratically-elected leadership would prefer that the people who “live in a large concentration camp” continue their “resistance” regardless of the standing offer to the contrary.

January 9th, 2009, 3:27 pm


Shai said:

Akbar: “Unlike you, most people understand a nation going to war with a neighboring country who fires missiles into it indiscriminately.”

I would also understand if Israel would go to war with, say, Jordan or Saudi Arabia, if they fired missiles into Israel indiscriminately.

But what you, and most like you, fail to understand is that Hamas, and Gaza, are NOT “a neighboring country”. It’s a shame you haven’t served in the IDF and seen Gaza in person, because if you had, you’d never say such nonsense. Gaza is, for all practical purposes, one gigantic camp, enclosed from all directions by fences and Israeli army. It is the most densely populated spot on earth (even more than those places you’ve heard about in India, Bangladesh, China, etc.) It is a hell-hole full of poverty, disease, and collapsing or nonexistent infrastructure. It is a place where 1.5 million people are barely existing. Quite unlike a comparable “nation”, where things look and function more or less normal, like in any other country.

Gaza is a Limbo, within Hell. Israel would like to convince people like you, that it is somewhere between what it once was (an occupied territory) and what it’ll one day be (a part of a sovereign nation). So you, not only buy it, but you already call it the latter. In fact, you don’t even see it as potentially a part of a future nation, you already consider it a nation on its own.

What I suspect, is that you consider Gaza a country not because you REALLY believe it’s a country (with all its privileges and responsibilities), but because you need to excuse Israel’s action as a defensive one, against another sovereign nation, like Syria, or Lebanon, or Jordan.

To give you a slightly more accurate description of what Gaza is like today, I have to take you back to the Middle Ages. Back then, small towns or cities were often surrounded by armies that wished to conquer them, and were blockaded until they surrendered. They were cut off from the outside world, given no access to water, to food, communication, and any other basic necessities. Eventually, most rulers capitulated. Gaza, is the same, but Israel uses 21st century power, not one from the Middle Ages. We want to achieve exactly the same – to make Hamas give up. To do that, we’re willing to starve an entire population, to punish collectively by shutting off electricity, by holding back fuel and gas for months at a time, by withholding basic medical supplies, by turning Gaza into a town under siege in the Middle Ages.

That the people of this town refuse to give up, and are doing the only thing they can – throwing some 19th century $10 rocket at us, despite knowing they miss human targets about 99/100 times, should not come as surprise to us. There have been a great many people before, throughout history, that refused to surrender and be enslaved. Some of those, include the Jewish people, in numerous situations and under different rulers, from Egypt, to Rome, to the British Empire. We should know better than anyone, what national aspirations and a refusal to bow down to a ruthless ruler and occupier are capable of producing.

Hamas is the Palestinians’ Lehi, or Etzel. Except, that they can’t operate freely within their ruler’s domain like we did, but rather from their enclosed camp, outwards. Imagine, they can’t even freely go and place a bomb in some bus station, like we once did. They have to resort to throwing stupid rockets at us. Imagine how we’d feel, if we were in their shoes. They “hide” amongst civilians, because they ARE civilians. They are no professional army (not even like Hezbollah), they have no tanks, armoured vehicles, fighter jets, artillery, special high-tech weaponry, radar systems, satellites, sophisticated intelligence, etc. They cannot meet the IDF on some open “battlefield” and fight it out. Their battlefield is their home, their streets, their neighborhoods. They are fighting to liberate those, so that one day they really CAN be free, like you and I are. Can you understand that?

When Israel finally acknowledges the rights of the Palestinian people, in Gaza and in the West Bank, and pulls out its troops and its settlers, its roadblocks and its army bases, lifts off any and all blockades, and allows the Palestinians to truly lead a normal and free life, in their own nation, only then will Hamas, or Fatah, or Jihad combatants put down their arms. Until then, the only things those fighters have to lose, are their shackles. And if you’d ever be able to truly look at yourself through their eyes (not yours), and to truly understand what it is they’re fighting for, you’d see that you would have done EXACTLY the same!

January 9th, 2009, 3:39 pm


EHSANI2 said:

“Making peace and getting unlimited international funds for doing so”?

You mean accepting the status quo and eating the bread crumbs that the Israeli government decides to keep at the table? I love that enticing offer of “unlimited funds” by the way 🙂

January 9th, 2009, 3:39 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Your long-winded narrative notwithstanding about rights, roadblocks, hunger, Etzel, Lehi, seige, radar, streets, jets, Middle Ages, hell-hole, the fact remains that the Palestinians, Gazans, including their elected government Hamas have had the option to lay down their guns and elect Door Number 2.

Instead of convincing Israelis to accept a few missiles in a field on a daily basis, I would suggest you convince your Pali friends to accept Door Number 1.

We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

You mean accepting the status quo and eating the bread crumbs that the Israeli government decides to keep at the table? I love that enticing offer of “unlimited funds” by the way


How is peace (that means people aren’t killed), including unlimited international funds (to buy food, shelter, and blue jeans), and having your own country the “status quo”?

As I recall $90 billion dollars was offered as part of Camp David 2000.

January 9th, 2009, 3:55 pm


EHSANI2 said:

It seems that you did not like my description of Gaza as a giant concentration camp.

Please offer us your own description of the place.

January 9th, 2009, 3:56 pm


jad said:

Akbar S. prefers to kill Palestinians in a huge gas inferno. It must be more enjoyable than seeing them killed slowly as his beloved Israel does. After all, they all bunch of terrorists even their unborn babies…Akbar S. why don’t you and your friends support the use of nuclear bomb and get rid of all of them for good and live happily everafter.

January 9th, 2009, 4:38 pm


Atassi said:

Zionist, filthy, rude, Arrogant, soul blooded, WAR Criminal ==

GENEVA – The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called Friday for an independent war crimes investigation in Gaza after reports that Israeli forces shelled a house full of Palestinian civilians, killing 30 people.

Navi Pillay told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council that the harm to Israeli civilians caused by Hamas rockets was unacceptable, but did not excuse any abuses carried out by Israeli forces in response.

Pillay went further in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., saying an incident in Gaza City this week “appears to have all the elements of war crimes.”

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Israeli troops evacuated Palestinian civilians to a house in the Zeitoun neighborhood on Jan. 4, then shelled the building 24 hours later.

The U.N. agency said 110 people were in the house, according to testimony from four witnesses.

On Thursday, the international Red Cross said the Israeli army refused rescuers permission to reach wounded people in the neighborhood for four days. Israel said the delay was caused by fighting in the area.

Pillay told the Geneva-based rights council that all parties to the conflict had a duty to care for the wounded and avoid targeting health workers, hospitals and ambulances.

Violations of international humanitarian law may amount to war crimes for which individuals should be held accountable, she said.

The 47-member council, which is dominated by Arab and African countries, is debating a resolution condemning Israel for its actions in Gaza. The motion could be delayed until Monday.

January 9th, 2009, 4:47 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


As I wrote to AIG above, we’ve ALREADY accepted peace as an option. The ball is in Israel’s court!

The Arab world has twice endorsed a cessation of all hostilities. It’s called the Arab Peace Initiative. We offered it first in 2002, and then again in 2007. We are offering full and comprehensive recognition of Israel by every Arab country and the Palestinian Authority, if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, gives East Jerusalem as a capital for the Palestinian state, and dealing with the refugee crisis. What this means, in all likelihood, is that Israel will get off easy — it will have to accept full responsibility for the refugee situation, acknowledging that it committed a historical crime against the Palestinian people, and it will then accept a “symbolic” number of returning refugees — somewhere around 25,000. The remaining refugees will give up their right to return to their homes in exchange for extensive reparations paid by Israel, the United States, Europe, and some of the rich Arab countries. There might also be offers by different countries to settle the refugees in Europe and the West.

In short, we are offering to end the conflict completely. But Israel has not taken the deal. Even Hamas has vowed to honor an agreement like this one, if it is approved by a majority of the Palestinian people (which it almost certainly would be).

Can you explain, Akbar, how this proposal does NOT amount to “making peace”? If you want to end the conflict, it’s your move.

January 9th, 2009, 4:54 pm


Akbar Palace said:

It seems that you did not like my description of Gaza as a giant concentration camp.

Please offer us your own description of the place.


I never took issue with your “description of Gaza as a giant concentration camp”.

My point was that Gazans and their elected leadership has had the OPTION to make their concentration camp a viable Palestinian city.

Akbar S. prefers to kill Palestinians in a huge gas inferno.


With all the references you and others perfer to conjure-up comparing the plight of the Palestinians to the Holocaust, there is no “huge gas inferno” in Gaza.

I think most Israelis are troubled by fighting and killing civilians. I am not aware of Israelis dancing in the streets and handing out candy during the present conflict. Conversely, many Palestinians were celebrating the attacks of 9-11.

Moreover, although the death and destruction in Hama, Syria and Iraq (under Assad and Saddam Hussein, respectively) was orders-of-magnitude greater than what we are witnessing in Gaza, once again it seems the you prefer to focus frustration and hate toward your Jewish enemy.

Akbar S. why don’t you and your friends support the use of nuclear bomb and get rid of all of them for good and live happily everafter.

The only people I know who have discussed anything resembling the use of a nuclear bomb against another country was Saddam Hussein when he declared he would “burn half of Israel” or Mahmoud “Ha Khamoud” Ahmadinejad when he advocated “wiping Israel off the map”.

Your hyperbole is makes great theatre, but it doesn’t tell the true story.


As I wrote to AIG above, we’ve ALREADY accepted peace as an option. The ball is in Israel’s court! … Can you explain, Akbar, how this proposal does NOT amount to “making peace”? If you want to end the conflict, it’s your move.

QN –

I followed your link, and to be honest, I really don’t know much about this initiative. Let’s meet in Sharm el-Sheik to discuss it. It seems to me to be a VERY general document that is missing a HUGE amount of detail. I think because of this the Israeli never took it seriously (until recently). I think the US and not the Arab League is the point-of-contact with regard to the peace process.

January 9th, 2009, 5:12 pm


Chris said:


The Arab Peace proposal does not amount to making peace because it was not serious. They basically said to Israel either you handover everything, the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and accept all of the refugees or no peace (they demanded a settlement to the refuee issue that is consistent with UN resolution 194 which requires the return of all refugees and compensation for those that don’t wish to return). They said to Israel “take it or leave it.” That is not a real peace proposal; it is empty words.

The fact of the matter is that Israel is militarily stronger. It is not a succcessful negotiating strategy to say to the stronger party “give us everything or the status quo will remain.” It just doesn’t make sense.

As far as Hamas is concerned: while they did say that they would approve a deal of Israel that passed a referendum it is not clear how genuine they were in that. More importantly though, today the “moderates” (I put moderates in quotes because when moderates in the context of Hamas is certainly a relative term) are gone. After this Gaza conflict, there will be no moderates in Hamas, they will be utterly radicalized.

January 9th, 2009, 5:27 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Just so you know, NONE OF THIS, make me glad or happy. Quite the opposite. The Israelis I know would ALL agree with me.

In contrast …

January 9th, 2009, 5:27 pm


atassi said:

“”Moreover, although the death and destruction in Hama, Syria and Iraq (under Assad and Saddam Hussein, respectively) was orders-of-magnitude greater than what we are witnessing in Gaza””

Finally you admit that the Israelis are staged at the same echelon as the Tyrants ….

January 9th, 2009, 5:28 pm


EHSANI2 said:

Rice said today that it is hard for Israel to shield civilians in the Gaza strip because the area is so densely populated and Hamas uses people as human shields.

“It is very difficult in circumstances like Gaza. I might note it is also an area in which Hamas participates in activities like human shields, using buildings that are not designated as military buildings to hide their fighters. So it’s hard”.

In other words, what Rice prefers is for Hamas to designate certain buildings strictly as military and then for Hamas to move its soldiers to exclusively these buildings from which they are allowed to fire.

Just brilliant.

I wonder if she would have made the same suggestion to the good old underground armies of the Haganah, Palmah, Irgun and Lehi of the time.

January 9th, 2009, 5:33 pm


atassi said:

NO AP.. You all just a tribe of blood suckers full of hatred .. amoral creation with strong conviction of being exclude from subjecting to morality or ethics..

January 9th, 2009, 5:40 pm


AKbar Palace said:

Finally you admit that the Israelis are staged at the same echelon as the Tyrants ….

Attasi –

No, I do NOT “admit that the Israeli are staged at the same echelon as the Tyrants”

First of all, the “Tyrants” are excused and cherished on this forum. As you know I’m speaking specifically about the esteemed Assad family.

Secondly, I not aware of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Kurds or any other opposition group firing mortars, Grad or Qassam rockets over the course of 8 years.

Lastly, I am not aware of any Syrian or Iraqi government proposal for cease fire or a peace treaty.

NO AP.. You all just a tribe of blood suckers full of hatred .. amoral creation with strong conviction of being exclude from subjecting to morality or ethics*..

*Except Shai…

January 9th, 2009, 5:42 pm


Chris said:


Well when the Haganah attacked the King David hotel, the military headquarters of the British in Palestine, they called 30 minutes beforehand to let everyone know so that the building could be evacuated. When was the last time Hamas called to let everyone evacuate the building, cafe, nightclub, pizzeria, or wherever?

Let me be clear I have no problem with people, i.e. Palestinians, fighting militaries, after all militaries exist to fight and they are combatants, so they are the one’s who ought to be fought, but to send suicide bombers into shopping centers (as in Dimona early 2008) is absolutely sick. I would have respect for Hamas if they call ahead of time and said, we may blow up X beforehand so that no innocent civilians die.

January 9th, 2009, 5:45 pm


jad said:

‘Akbar S. Your hyperbole is makes great theatre, but it doesn’t tell the true story.’
You are the only ‘ACTOR’ on this theatre showing us your real way of thinking. Keep writing and prove to us how low can a human being become. be proud of yourself, you already hit the bottom of humanity…good job

January 9th, 2009, 5:58 pm


EHSANI2 said:


I think that you meant to address my friend Qifa who owned the comment you were addressing.

But, you made a very critical point towards the end of your comment 100.

The geniuses in Israel’s establishment do not seem to grab the fact that this conflict is steadily turning from a nationalist struggle into a religious confrontation, if not war. Humiliation and powerlessness invite refuge into religion. Rather than fighting Palestinian nationalists, Israel will be fighting Islam for the next 1000 years.

As for how much more humane than Hamas the Haganah were, please do some reading:

January 9th, 2009, 6:01 pm


Shual said:

@ Shai/all

Israel geht hart gegen Verweigerer und Demonstranten vor – [Ulrike Putz]
Sie sind eine Minderheit, aber ihre Zahl wächst: Israelische Kriegsdienstverweigerer machen mobil gegen die Militärangriffe im Gaza-Streifen. Der Staat reagiert mit Härte: Demonstranten werden festgenommen, Verweigerer landen im Knast.

Israel cracks down hard on refuseniks and demonstrators – They are a minority, but their number rises: Israeli refuseniks mobilize against the assault of the military in the Gaza-Strip. The State reacts with rigor: Demonstrators get arrested, refuseniks land in jail.,1518,600398,00.html

I have no time for a longer translation.
Two points: 1. Still “over 300” demonstrators, mostly Israeli Arabs are still in jail. 2. Refusenik-Question: “Für den Krieg in Gaza sind über 10.000 Reservisten mobilisiert worden. Nur eine Hand voll hat verweigert. “Das liegt vor allem daran, dass die Armee sogenannte Querulanten gar nicht mehr einzieht”, sagt Roi Yellin, Pressesprecher der Refusniks. Das Militär wolle vermeiden, dass eine größere Gruppe von Nein-Sagern Medienöffentlichkeit bekomme.” = Only a handful of reservists of over 10 000 refused. Reason: Army does not draft so called “gripers”. Army does not want a larger group of refuseniks get publicity.

Additional Report:
Organisation Courage to Refuse + the advertisement in Haaretz:

PS: “Heute endet die dritte Arreststrafe von Raz Bar-David Varon. Insgesamt war sie bislang 43 Tage in Haft.” Taday, she is free again.

January 9th, 2009, 6:12 pm


Alex said:

”Moreover, although the death and destruction in Hama, Syria and Iraq (under Assad and Saddam Hussein, respectively) was orders-of-magnitude greater than what we are witnessing in Gaza”

1) Hama was terrible .. but it was more than a quarter century ago … do you want to go back few centuries back to show that Israel is not alone?

2) the 780 people that Israel killed in Gaza this month are “an order of magnitude” greater than those killed by the Hamas rockets”

So … what is the point?

When will Israel stop relying on its cyclical use of disproportionate mass murder? .. in 2006 over a 1000 Lebanese had to die because two Israeli soldiers were killed in occupied South Lebanon.

Who will you Kill in 2010? .. and how many? .. and to make what point? … and what dirty tricks will the smart people at use to justify Israel’s murders then?

Israel is getting worse and worse … there is a disturbing trend … while your media empires handle the PR, the numbers ad pictures don’t lie.


The Arab peace plan is not asking for EVERYTHING … did you look up the percentage of Palestine that the Arabs are accepting in their peace plan? … please tell us what that EVERYTHING amounts to.

As for the refugees, you should know that Israel knows that the Arabs will manage to find a way to take into account the practical considerations for Israel … in other words, it is very negotiable.

Israel knows it … but the tricks that your prime minister and leaders do are fascinating … Ask Prime minister Erdogan how insulted he feels when Mr. Olmert lied to him few days before Gaza started … Who can trust an Israel?

January 9th, 2009, 6:27 pm


Observer said:

I did my undergraduate studies in Europe. While there, I did visit couple of the concentration camps. In one of them there was a film about the survivors of that abomination that killed Jews, Gypsies, Dissidents, Homosexuals, and others showing them confronting one of their jailors. He admitted that he was brainwashed and that he carried out orders without question. He believed to the last fiber of his being of the righteousness of the cause that allowed for him to put people to death.

I also read the account of Guy Sajer a classic of the German infantry on the Eastern front. In that book “Soldat”, he recounts how his captain exhorted the troops to fight on for Germany telling them that they are fighthing against the myth that ” all men are created equal “. The captain went on to tell them that men are not created equal and that would mean that a cow would be an equal to a rooster. He clearly believed that men and cultures had profound basic differences and some were intrinsically superior to others.

This is the main reason why it is futile to argue with those on this blog that are believers of the apartheid regime in Palestine and of the intrinsic superiority of some over the rest of humanity.

The following account by Gary Leupp summs up nicely the eternal and recurrent use of justifications to perpetuate the atrocities we are witnessing today. What is appaling is that it is the descendants of the Warsaw Ghetto and the survivors of Treblinka and Dachau that are using the same intellectual justifications that were once visited upon them:

Revisiting the Tale of Samson

Only one Bible story takes place in Gaza. So now, when our thoughts are focused on that tragic place, let’s revisit it: the story of Samson.

The Bible readers among you will know that the story appears in the Book of Judges, and that Samson is the last listed in a line of “judges” who lead the Israelites after their delivery out of slavery in Egypt.

According to Judges, an angel of Yahweh appeared to Samson’s mother, up to then a barren woman, and announced that she would conceive a son. She was to drink no wine and eat nothing unclean, and consecrate her newborn to Yahweh as a “nazirate,” meaning that he was never to cut his hair, consume alcohol, or come near a dead body. As we will see, he does not keep these vows.

At the time of the story the dominant people in the area were the people the Bible calls Philistines, an Indo-European people related to the Greeks whom archeological evidence suggests had settled in Gaza City from around 1180 BCE. Our word “Palestine” comes from them.

The boy Samson was born and, according to the Biblical account, on attaining manhood, “noticed a woman, a Philistine girl.” He thus ordered his parents: “now get her for me, to be my wife” (Judges 14: 2). They appealed to him to take an Israelite girl instead, but he was adamant. The scripture explains that “all this came from Yahweh, who was seeking grounds for a quarrel with the Philistines, since at this time the Philistines dominated Israel” (Judges 14:4).

Young Samson turns out to be quite the superhero. Heading off to the Philistine’s vineyards he happens upon a lion roaring towards him. He rips the animal apart with his bare hands. Not telling anyone about it, he visits and woos his intended. Later he returns to the lion’s carcass to find that bees have nested within it, and he harvests honey. His father arrives at the girl’s home to negotiate a marriage, and a large feast is held. Samson poses a riddle for the young Philistine men to solve: “Out of the eater came what is eaten, out of the strong came what is sweet.” He assumes they can’t possibly know what had happened between him, the lion, and the bees. He tells them if they can answer the riddle he will give them thirty pieces of fine linen and thirty festal robes and if not they will each owe him that amount of treasure. They foolishly agree, all presumably in their cups.

The Philistines charged with solving the riddle go to Samson’s betrothed and demand that she wheedle the answer from him, threatening to burn her and her relatives to death if she doesn’t.

Defeated by her wiles, he divulges the secret to her, and so when he poses the riddle to the Philistines on his wedding night, just before he’s about to go to bed, theyre able to answer: “What is sweeter than honey, and what is stronger than a lion?”

At that point the “spirit of Yahweh” seizes Samson, which is to say, he goes berserk. He races to Ashkelon, kills thirty Philistines, steals their clothes and gives them to the Philistines who correctly answered his riddle.

After he calms down Samson returns to the house of his betrothed but finds that her father, who’d just assumed—given his earlier behavior—that he’d lost interest, has given her to the best man at the ceremony. He offers Samson instead the younger sister, but this only angers the young Israelite. He captures three hundred foxes, sets their tails on fire, and has them incinerate the cornfields of the Philistines, as well as the vines and olive orchards (Judges 15:5). This in turn enrages the Philistines who blame the girl’s family for the problem and burn them to death.

Then the Philistines, for obvious reasons, make a foray into Israelite territory demanding that Samson be turned over to them. The Israelites rationally comply, forking over the bound culprit, but Samson (as the spirit of Yahweh again possesses him) is able to break out of his bonds, and finding the jawbone of a donkey on the roadside uses it to slaughter a thousand Philistines.

He then proceeds to Gaza City, where he spends the night in a brothel. Philistines surround the establishment but hesitate to move against him. At midnight he emerges, hoists the posts of the town gate on his shoulders, and carries them with them forty miles away to Hebron (Judges 16:3).

Then comes his hubris moment: he falls for Delilah, another Philistine woman. The Philistine elders offer her a fortune to discern the secret of restraining Samson’s superhuman strength. So she pleads with him to divulge the mystery. Three times he gives her bogus answers (such as, “If I were tied with seven new bowstrings that had not been dried, I should lose my strength”), and each time she sets up the situation he describes, crying out, “The Philistines are on you Samson!” Each time he easily escapes harm.

Finally he admits that the secret of his strength is that a razor has never touched his head, and that if his head were shorn, he would be just like any other man. So she lulls him to sleep, summons a barber, and has his long locks shorn off. Samson is captured, humiliated, blinded, and set to work at a grind-wheel. Philistines did indeed place subject prisoners to such treatment in Gaza in the twelfth century BCE.

Finally, months later, as Samson’s hair has grown back, the Philistines are holding a banquet to their god Dagon and call for Samson to be brought before them so that they might mock the man who had laid their country waste. While three thousand men and women watch, Samson braces himself between the two central pillars of the building, calls upon Yahweh, shouts “Let me die with the Philistines” and brings the building down.

“He had judged Israel for twenty years,” concludes the account in Judges (16:31).

* * * * *

Certain premises underlie the whole Book of Judges. The god Yahweh, better known to King James Bible readers as Jehovah, has chosen the Israelites as his people. He has made a covenant with the descendents of Abraham, to eventually give them the land from the Nile of Egypt to the Euphrates (Genesis 15:18). He has made them a great nation while in Egypt, although allowing them to be enslaved. He has led them out of bondage through his servant, the prophet Moses, the Lawgiver, miraculously parting the waves of the Red Sea to allow their crossing, then drowning the pharaoh’s army as it pursued the fleeing Hebrews.

(Actually, there’s precious little evidence for any Hebrew presence in ancient Egypt at all, much less wide scale enslavement. The whole heroic Exodus narrative is very dubious historicity.
An English forklift mechanic’s discovery of a “chariot wheel” in the Red Sea in 2003 caused a ripple of excitement among those wanting badly to believe in the Exodus tale, but the story never went anywhere.)

Yahweh has chastened the Hebrews for their lapses into idolatry through years of wondering through the Sinai desert but brought them finally to Canaan, where he ordered them to exterminate the local people. (See for example Joshua 11:14, about the capture of the town of Hazor, where Joshua and his men helped themselves to the livestock “[b]ut they put all the human beings to the sword till they had destroyed them completely; they did not leave a single sword.”)

Recall the story in the Book of Joshua, where Yahweh causes the walls to collapse, and then Joshua’s forces attack, enforcing “the curse of destruction on everyone in the city: men and women, young and old, including the oxen, the sheep and the donkeys, slaughtering them all” (Joshua 6:21)? (There’s a children’s Sunday school song about it: Jericho’s walls came falling down, falling down, falling down, Hallelujah!) The righteousness of God’s people is assumed in these stories, the expendability of the lives of their enemies—any competing with them for rights to the Promised Land—also assumed. Here as in the Book of Judges the genocide theme is woven so effortlessly into the cozily familiar themes of Chosen People and Promised Land that we might hardly even notice it. But that’s what it is: the slaughter, at God’s command, of entire peoples. Herem in Hebrew (“the curse of destruction”) meant the killing of all human beings and animals in the course of holy war.

We Americans of course have our own heroic myths of our pilgrims arriving in our Promised Land chosen by God to defeat the heathen natives, justifying so many atrocities by citing Old Testament texts.

* * * * *

Of the Samson story, Mary Joan Winn Leith writes in The Oxford Companion to the Bible, “It’s one of the most artfully composed tales in the Bible…A subtle study of deception and betrayal, by humans and by god, for good and for ill.”

On the other hand: what a horrible story! There are few redeeming qualities in this selfish, oversexed, vicious brute who abuses animals by setting their tails on fire and doesn’t even have the good sense to figure out that Delilah’s working with the enemy.

Now, this of course is a text probably written between 2600-2800 years ago. Its unknown author(s) have nothing to do with any contemporary political disputes, and we can’t expect the text to give us much insight about the thinking of the Zionists in relation to this present blitzkrieg on Gaza.

Still, there are some passages to think about:

(1) “…all this came from Yahweh, who was seeking grounds for a quarrel with the Philistines, since at this time the Philistines dominated Israel” (New Jerusalem Bible, Judges 14:4; the New Oxford Bible renders this “seeking a pretext to act against the Philistines”).

The fact is, Israeli leaders have indeed sought grounds for war with the Palestinians, repeatedly. They have manufactured pretexts for decades. In 2006 they used a Hezbollah attack on an Israeli border patrol station that killed six and resulted in two Israeli soldiers being taken hostage as the pretext for a massive assault on Lebanon, killing over 1000.

The author of this fictional work, writing perhaps 2600-2800 years ago, states that Yahweh himself was looking for a fight. The secular humanist might interpret the passage to mean that the worshippers of Yahweh were spoiling for a fight with the Philistines, whose land they coveted.

(2) “Then the spirit of Yahweh seized on him. He went down to Ashkelon, killed thirty men there, took what they wore and gave the festal robes to those who had answered the riddle…” (Judges 14:19)

Ashkelon, the former Palestinian town taken over by Zionist settlers since 1948, has been in the news lately. We have heard a lot about the indiscriminate Palestinian bombardment of the town which is occasionally hit by homemade rockets from Gaza. Here in the Samson story we have the Israelite hero indiscriminately killing thirty men there. But he does so filled with the spirit of God!

You can be sure that this Sunday preachers from pulpits across the U.S. will endorse the Israeli invasion of Gaza as a godly act of self-defense. (They’ll be responding to Israel’s slick PR campaign of nauseating righteousness.) Will such ironies be lost upon them?

(3) “Let me die with the Philistines!” Samson cries as he causes the feasting-hall to collapse from its foundations (Judges 16:29).

Doesn’t this strike you as the mentality of the suicide bomber? We’re told Samson killed more at the banquet party that he had during his life (16:31) and that his brothers came to take his body away. (But he probably didn’t expect to be reborn into a Paradise; that Persian notion hadn’t yet really pervaded Judaism. It was probably a product of the Babylonian Captivity—-of Iran’s contribution to the Jewish experience.)

Thus Samson the judge of Israel destroys himself and thousands of Philistines in Gaza. Definitely a Bible story worth rereading at this particular time.

* * *

Many Israelis like to present their nation to the world as little David, the shepherd boy who will be king, confronting Goliath of Gath, the Philistine giant, through the grace of God felling him with a stone from a slingshot.

I suggest another image: Israel as Samson. Wild, irrational, thuggish, untamed, covetous, given to religious obsessions, the incredible hulk able to carry away the city gates of Gaza but ultimately vulnerable. The really scary thing about Samson is that, filled with self-pity and self-righteousness even after committing atrocities against so many Philistines, he’s prepared to kill an additional 3000 and himself by bringing down the great hall on top of everyone’s head.

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

January 9th, 2009, 6:28 pm


Shual said:

“not glad or happy”

There is no § in International Laws that prohibits “happiness” about war-crimes. The crime is prohibited.

PS: “I believe that Israel has the right to defend itself against the naked aggression by Hamas. If the Jehaids are left unchecked, the whole civilized world would be in great danger of cultural suicide.”


January 9th, 2009, 6:30 pm


offended said:

Do the current American lame *uck administration and their Israeli ally ever read arab press? Do they watch the indicators of the movements and dynamics of arab societies? Do they watch the demonstrations? Bush has served his last meal of butchery in the Middle East but got disgusted faces and hurled shoes instead of tacit nodes.

Broad-spectrum Egyptian intellectuals from the far left to the extreme right signed a statement supporting the Palestinians’ right to resist occupation (with all means). It’s the fist time I am hearing about a Saudi civil right activists, but they exist, and this is probably their first appearance on the Arabic arena, they’ve sent a petition to Saudi interior minister asking permission for a peaceful sit-in protest. They were denied the right to protest but at least they tried.

Do you know Shab Khalid? The famous Algerian Rai singer? He said yesterday that given the chance, he’d carry a weapon and go to Palestine and fight to protect its children.

I ask all arabs on this forum: have you ever seen the Turks this supportive of an Arab cause? I haven’t….. Secular Turkey proved to be more moral and conscientious than many self-proclaimed religious arabs.

The Sunni-Shi’a strife in Iraq is put on the shelf for the moment as residents of Al Sader city are out demonstrating and expressing solidarity for Gaza. Even Muqtada is calling his adversaries to unite and hit the Americans in iraq to avenge their support of Israel.

Now I don’t know what all of that means. But at least I am less worried about Arabs than I used to two weeks ago. It seems Arab masses’ response to sensory stimulation with images of blood and body part is still there. A good sign.

January 9th, 2009, 6:58 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Offended, Alex,

Let’s see.

1) You find that what Camera does is unethical but you both wholly support a regime that has shut down freedom of speech in Syria for decades!

Therefore, if Camera is unethical, doesn’t that make the Asad regime unethical also? And if so, why do you support the Assad regime?

2) In the course of the Gaza operation, hundreds of Iraqis were killed by suicide bombers.

Can you explain to me why you are not outraged from these civilian deaths and why you are not posting complaints on other websites?

I am asking because it seems to me you value only the life of an Arab if they are killed by an Israeli, not that of an Arab killed by an Arab.

3) Do you really think that an organization like Hamas could get good PR in the US?

January 9th, 2009, 7:11 pm


offended said:

Akbar Teshem:

1- The Syrian regime has nothing to do and nothing to compare with the way spread its dirty tricks of blackmailing journalists and media personalities in the US. The freedom of speech in the US is being curtailed by organizations with an ethno-centric agenda. Watch BBC or Al Jazeera English for couple of weeks and you will know what I am talking about.

And btw, when did I tell you that I support lack of freedom of speech in Syria?

2- You said:

Can you explain to me why you are not outraged from these civilian deaths and why you are not posting complaints on other websites?

As far as I’ve been in this group, this is yet the most stupid question I’ve ever been asked here, I don’t think it even rates a reply.

3- If Israel could get a good PR in the US, then anyone can.

January 9th, 2009, 7:31 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Chris said:

It is not a succcessful negotiating strategy to say to the stronger party “give us everything or the status quo will remain.” It just doesn’t make sense.

My dear Christopher, with all due respect, you have no idea what you are talking about.

How does “Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem” amount to everything? Do you understand what “everything” really means? Do you know the history of this conflict or do you find yourself needing to refer occasionally to your AIPAC talking points?

“Everything” would be all of Palestine. “Everything” would be a single, secular, non-racist, non-ethnically-cleansed state in which Jews and Arabs live side by side. Israel cannot handle that.

Therefore, the Arabs are settling for something that is far less than “everything”. They are settling for a compromise, a two state solution. They are requesting the bare minimum: a plot of land for the Palestinians to live on, half of their beloved city to call their capital, and some kind of a solution for the millions of refugees living outside Israel.

Obviously, the Arab Peace Initiative is a starting point. But that is my point. Israelis have no excuse to complain about lack of seriousness on the Arab side, when there is a perfectly good starting point on the table.

January 9th, 2009, 7:53 pm


idit said:

Qifa Nabki


You haven’t posted anything on your blog for some time now.

When will you, if you will?

What does Abbas think about a second front,In light of the Katyushas rockets fired to Nahariya yesterday?

January 9th, 2009, 8:03 pm


Atassi said:

The best outcome is “WE ARE ALL PALESTINIAN” and the world knows how savage and bloody the Tribe is ..The tribe WILL BE LOST FOR FORTY MORE YEARS !!!

January 9th, 2009, 8:06 pm


Nour said:


You shouldn’t even entertain such ridiculous comparisons. Hama was not “orders of magnitude” greater than Gaza. Hama was a one time operation to put down an attempted overthrow of the government. The Syrian regime was not, nor is it now, besieging Hama, turning it into an open air prison, cutting off all food, medicine, electricity and other necessary supplies. “Israel” is holding an entire population hostage. It is not the same thing and any comparison is totally ludicrous.

January 9th, 2009, 8:08 pm


Chris said:


I understand the history… To recognize Israel is to recognize it within the 1967 borders. No one is suggesting that it revert to borders with an area smaller than those which existed prior to June 1967. So the negotiations are over the land beyond those borders: the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Of course, the refugee issue also exists.

The Arab Peace Initiative, says that they will recognize Israel if Israel hands all of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem over, while agreeing to the right of return. Seeing as Israel before the 1967 borders is not under negotiation, that would be getting everything.

To recognize Israel is to recognize the Israel that existed prior to the ’67 war. The Arab Peace initiative would get everything else. That’s not negotiating, that is taking everything that could be negotiated over. It is saying, “here’s what we want, take it or leave it.” Seeing as Israel exists and will exist, that is not much of a compromise.

January 9th, 2009, 8:08 pm


idit said:


Well said.

The so called right of return means one thing and one thing alone – The destruction of Israel.
Israel was wise to see through it.

While some of the Arab initiative does have merits, It was presented as ‘take it or leave it’ offer. All or nothing.
That is unacceptable.

January 9th, 2009, 8:15 pm


EHSANI2 said:


You are clueless. Did you read more about the humane Israeli underground?


The Palestinians and Arabs must insist on a single secular state solution for both Jews and Palestinians.

Anything else will not work.

January 9th, 2009, 8:16 pm


idit said:


One state solution is a reciepe for a disaster, not unlike the Balkans.

In the current situation and the amount of hatred and resentment between the two communities, it seems very unlikely.

January 9th, 2009, 8:29 pm


Chris said:


You’re right. It is pointless to engage in a discussion of which military force is humane or without sin, but when I saw the mention of the Haganah in a discussion at time like this I couldn’t help but bring up the fact that they called beforehand to warn people. Again, though, I am sure that the Haganah is not without sin.

That being said, Hamas is in a category of its own. There are few organizations like it on earth. It is way beyond the pale in terms of its fanaticism and lack of mercy. The kamikaze missions are evidence of this.

I am sure that the vast majority of Palestinians, before this recent conflict that is, opposed their suicide missions in Israel

By the way, your earlier post referred to how humane the haganah was compared to Hamas and then you cited a list of Irgun attacks. The Haganah and the Irgun were two different groups. The Irgun being the more aggressive of the two. The Haganah,which later became the IDF, advocated restraint, while the Irgun wasn’t interested in any such thing. It was the Irgun which was responsible for Deir Yassin. Again though I want to say that I’m sure the Haganah was guilty of crimes. It was the Haganah that in the third phase of the war forcibly evicted individuals (I believe Yigal Allon did some of this but I’m not sure).

January 9th, 2009, 8:35 pm


idit said:


What is your opinion of having Gaza retured to Egypt.?

January 9th, 2009, 8:36 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


You are still making no sense. You are acting like the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem are luxuries that the Arabs are niggling over. This is the Israeli maximalist position. It is not the Arab maximalist position.

Let’s take the refugee issue out of it for a second. (If the consensus on this blog is indicative, it seems that some kind of reparation-based solution is what is most likely to happen.)

With that in mind, what are you suggesting the Arabs be content with? LESS than the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem? How is that even a conceivable way to end the conflict?


You’re right. I haven’t posted on my blog recently. When I’m back in Beirut, I’ll be sure to have another Abbas special.

January 9th, 2009, 9:35 pm


Alex said:

Dear Chris,

I really understand the way you feel. But a successful, solid settlement requires proper foundation … you either totally destroy and wipe out your Arab enemies (which really won’t happen no matter how many are killed every couple of years by Israel), or you treat them as equals and realize that you can not settle with then without maintaining their dignity.

After they accepted to ask for roughly 20% of original Palestine (giving Israel the remaining 80%), for Israel to complain that they are not open to bargaining over their remaining 1/5th is quite insulting.

The idea is to stick to UN resolutions that specified that arrangement … if you start deviating from them, them Israel will be tempted to try to use its power to get more concessions.

And the attitude in the Arab side is … enough is enough.

So, I hope you don’t see it as those Arabs pushing Israel around and trying to force poor and weak Israel to give up too much.

If it was the inverse, with the Palestinians getting the 80% and Israel the remaining 20%, I would have supported your objection.

Negotiations will be over other things … Israel will have security demands, and other requests and the Arabs will try really hard to satisfy Israel’s reasonable demands… but try to not try to get yet more land from the Palestinians’ remaining 20% of Palestine.

January 9th, 2009, 11:08 pm


Alex said:

114. Akbar Palace said:

Offended, Alex,

Let’s see.

You find that what Camera does is unethical but you both wholly support a regime that has shut down freedom of speech in Syria for decades!

Therefore, if Camera is unethical, doesn’t that make the Asad regime unethical also? And if so, why do you support the Assad regime?

2) In the course of the Gaza operation, hundreds of Iraqis were killed by suicide bombers.

Can you explain to me why you are not outraged from these civilian deaths and why you are not posting complaints on other websites?

I am asking because it seems to me you value only the life of an Arab if they are killed by an Israeli, not that of an Arab killed by an Arab.

3) Do you really think that an organization like Hamas could get good PR in the US?


1) I already wrote that is less effective than Arab regimes in preventing criticism.

But if you want to compare specifically with the Syrian leadership … they are both doing something unethical (preventing free speech) .. but the difference is that while the Syrian regime has repeatedly demonstrated its wisdom (in my opinion, not yours, I know), Likud’s friends (like camera and AIPAC) demonstrated so many times their deficiencies … they are dangerous in their collective lack of understanding of the whole picture in the Middle East, they have absolutely no caring for anyone’s interest but Israel’s … and here is where it gets scary: They are “successful” enough to lobby the government and the Media of the most powerful nation on earth to follow to a large degree (not totally, I did not say they “control”) their wishes!

The United States and AIPAC and other “friends of Israel” (friends of Likud) really wanted to start the Iraq war … Syria loudly warned them not to do that catastrophic mistake.

The United States and AIPAC and Likud’s friends in Washington have been doing their best to prevent peace negotiations between Syria and Israel … the Syrian leadership went to Turkey to try another, open, road for peace with Israel. and AIPAC are cheering the IDF as they continue to try demonstrate Israel’s killing machine every two years … the Syrian regime did not start any war for decades.

So, on an ethics scale , in a practical, and not only theoretical sense, there is no comparison in my mind (you disagree of course) between the Syrian leadership and CAMERA and AIPAC.

Finally … did you forget how many times I wrote here that I am much more concerned about what is happening in Iraq than what is happening in Gaza or Lebanon? .. when some people here accused Israel of Nazi-like crimes, I was the one who wrote that by far, the largest crimes today are committed in Iraq and Darfur even if Israel is committing serious crimes in Gaza.

January 9th, 2009, 11:35 pm


Friend in America said:

For 3 weeks I urged all here to consider the Palestinian propsals for a lasting peace. It was published by SHUR, an Italian academic institute. Although there have been no responses, our dialogue continued to respect each other. Until now, that is. The preceeding thread contains strings of dreadful comments and accusations that destroy our respect for each other. We are losing our intellectual esteem. The conflict in Gaza will not come to a peaceful conclusion by name calling, slurs and half-truth accusations. Is anyone here ready for constructive dialogue?

A Post Script: It is dismaying to read once again the time worn accusations of intentional bias in the American press based upon ethnicity. The New York Times, the object of so much scorn here, has in my judgment engaged in remarkably balanced reporting. It has published reports from Arab stringer reporters almost daily. The op-ed pages have contained several opinion articles sympathetic to the Palestinian position in Gaza (see #79 here, for just one example) and, incidentally, very few supportive of the Israeli position.

The entire dialogue about alleged biased media is a distraction. Better we keep our eyes on the prize, a just and lasting peace.

January 9th, 2009, 11:47 pm


Alex said:

Dear FIM,

I did mention already that the NYT and Washington Post are often not bad. Haaretz is much better though. The New York Times will never dare to publish some of the more honest opinion pieces in Haaretz

I know some of those Arab reporters for the New York Times and I can tell you that they all understand that if they have to criticize Israel, they need to work hard picking the right words and expressions in order to get any chance to be published.

You know what is the only way for them to pass some criticism of Israel through their articles? … quote a Jewish critic of Israel.

Israel this month killed 780 people and injured 3200 others severly in most cases.

Please scroll very slowly through this page and imagine each case as being a victim of, let’s say, an alleged Syrian assassination in Lebanon, then in Europe (killing all members of families of fifty Israeli and American diplomats in each European city for example) … imagine 780 assassinations! .. one every hour … do you have any idea what we are talking about?

Then please imagine how the New York Times coverage would have been today … would they all use the same polite words they are using in criticizing Israel? or would they ALL be calling for invading Syria to stop the savage killers?

The is no way to correct the messed up American position in the Middle East … this is not Alex engaging in “alleged biased media distraction” .. I am trying to explain to you that we have a mechanism through AIPAC and’s “success” that guarantees many more future casualties if we continue to ignore reality.

Sorry, but I don’t think this is the time to discuss some report by some Think Tank.

Let me use the the conclusion of the New York Times opinion piece by Rachid Khalidi to explain where we need to start before we discuss detailed peace proposals:

This war on the people of Gaza isn’t really about rockets. Nor is it about “restoring Israel’s deterrence,” as the Israeli press might have you believe. Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”

January 10th, 2009, 12:20 am


S.A. said:

Re. “Israel finds more sympaty in Europe” by Robert Marquand.
I think the article is written with pretty simplistic European people in mind. Fortunately the average European is a bit more educated about history than the average American. Having lived in Western Europe for the past twenty some years, I can confidently assure you that the average European has no symapthy whatsoever towards Israel, and that the educated Euroopean knows more about the history of the Middle East than your educated American. Also, thankfully, the Europeans have not been brainwashed by “Bushism” and simplistic terms like “war on terror.” Some European countries have had negative experiences with extremism, which is on the rise in the world in general, but linking the Palestinaian/Israeli problem to Islamic extremism is really similar to linking September 11th to the war on Iraq!

It’s a baseless argument. This is what Robert Marquand wants people to believe, but this is not the truth.

January 10th, 2009, 2:58 am


norman said:

To All,

It is sad to say that Israel is proven to be made of serial killers.

Serial killers have to be stopped as they can not help themselves.

January 10th, 2009, 3:13 am


Joe M. said:

Alex, EHSANI2 and Qifa Nabki,

I don’t understand why you are discussing these issues as though the opposing side has any merit. The only merit they have is that born in the barrel of a gun. Any legal, moral, or generally philosophical discussion of Israel will always show the Arab side superior overall (even if we have our own weaknesses too). If Israel was not militarily powerful, zionism and Israel would be in the dust bin of history, with all the other idiotic ideas the world has endured. Considering that I know you three agree with what I said above, I am confused by how you interact with the zionist arguments. I feel you give their views too much respect.

That said, let me point out a couple additional points:

I want to say, I am pretty much in agreement with you on the one state solution. In fact, the zionists are crazy to believe there is going to be any other choice. In fact, it is generosity on our part to even allow them to stay in Palestine in the future, considering all the crimes the zionists have done against the Arabs. I would simply recommend that you argue more forcefully. Just to point out a couple quick failures of the arguments against the one-state solution, 1) when zionists argue against the one one state, saying it is “a reciepe for a disaster”[sic], you simply have to point out that (a) zionism itself was a disaster, (b) 20% of Israelis are Palestinian and there is less disaster in relations between the jewish and palestinian citizens of Israel than there is disaster within the jewish community itself, (c) it is Israel that destroyed the possibility of the two-state solution and which continues to reject Palestinian independence, thus, there is already a one state solution in place and it simply need be formalized by giving Palestinians the rights to their land.

Alex and Qifa Nabki,
I have made this point before, and I just want to express it again. Just for accuracy, there is no such thing as “67 borders”. The 67 war did not create any type of border, and the green line is just a cease-fire line. The fact is, the Partition Plan is the only legal basis for the existence of Israel, and the Palestinians have every right to all of the land provided them in the Partition Plan. any reference to the “67 borders” is just empty nonsense. It is an acceptance of territorial conquest by military aggression. Under the same logic you use by tacitly accepting that there are “67 borders” could be used against you in the Golan. No Arab should accept any border that is not mutually agreed and formalized in bilateral and international agreements.

In that respect, as the Partition Plan was never formally accepted by either side, it is unclear whether there is any international legal basis for the zionist state. I do not believe we should even intellectually allow them legitimacy. Their state is totally illegitimate in every way. It is on stolen land, it’s population are mostly settlers, no different than any other colonial project. Why not deal with them that way? That is how they react to us, they don’t even recognize our rights, our history, or even our existence. They should not be given any respect. And until they legitimately recognize this history, that there are an illegitimate settler state and we are the indigenous population who’s land was stolen from us, we should not grant them the respect of accepting their narrative.

Qifa Nabki,
There is only one group of people with the ability to decide whether there will be “some kind of reparation-based solution” to the refugee issue, and they are the refugees themselves. Why do you want to disenfranchise those who have suffered most from this conflict, and on the basis of some ambiguous notion of “reparation”. The refugees have a right to return and that can not be revoked by anyone but the refugees themselves, no matter how much force and violence the zionists use. No matter how powerful the zionist narrative seems. There is no reason whatsoever to concede any of our rights to them. And it is especially not the place of any negotiation to attempt to “solve” the refugee issue. It is for the individual refugees themselves to decide, as they are the ones who have suffered, and the zionists are the ones who must accept their decisions, as they forced these conditions on the Palestinians.

January 10th, 2009, 4:33 am


Friend in America said:

Alex #131:
Thank you for your insights. A short reply: The reports from Gaza that I read in the NYT were reports of events observed and statements of persons interviewed – news reports. In western reporting there is a strong ethic not to insert personal views (or biases) in news reports, so I can understand if these reporters have strong feelings about what they were witnessing, they may have felt restrained.
There was one edition of NYT that made me wonder. The account of the bombing of the school, a front page story in other newspapers, appeared on page 10. It was a lengthy story with photos, but I think it should have started with a lead on page 1. That has not been repeated.
I appreciate it is difficult to read a think tank study at this time, but it is necessary. Working papers is where negotiators begin their preparation. Before going into negotiations they should agree on goals, what concessions they think they can gain, and what concessions they may have to give. I have concluded the people in Gaza have more to gain by negotiating than they ever can in participating in this game of rockets. The leadership in Gaza is not skilled in negotiation. I am not familar with the leadership of the political wing of Hamas, so maybe there is hope there. Will they be taking the leadership in the negotiations?

If the “labels” were changed, such as you described, I (as a Lebanonese) would ask the Lebanonese forces to take responsibility for positioning their forces in places that put their own civilians in harms way. There is an ethic in that. If they keep their citizens in harms way, the world will not be inclined to accept my claim the other side is guilty of reckless assaults with no regard for innocent lives.
I had a discussion on this very point at lunch today with 4 men. Most said the guilt for loss of innocent civilian lives is shared equally, one said he had no sympathy for forces that put its own people in harms way. Best regards and let us hope men of good minds will find a way.

January 10th, 2009, 4:55 am


AIG said:

Again, Joe M. shows that the talk of the Arab peace plan is a farce. There is no acceptable Arab position regarding the right of return. For Israel to take the plan seriously its position about the right of return must be crystal clear. No fudging or wishful thinking.

January 10th, 2009, 4:58 am


Alex said:


Let Israel announce unequivocally its acceptance of the other basic points in the Arab plan (minus the right of return) and you will see hope all over the whole Middle East again.

January 10th, 2009, 5:50 am


AIG said:

Israel has basically done that already. But that is not the point. The point is that the price of peace has not sunk in the Arab world and there is no real acceptance of peace with Israel. In fact, the Arab world has not accepted yet that there will not be a right of return, and without this acceptnace there cannot be peace.

So when you and QN wave the Arab plan, it is a red herring with nothing behind it. Without the Arab plan being clear about the right of return it is just another attempt to fool public opinion and deny a Jewish state in the middle east.

January 10th, 2009, 6:05 am


Joe M. said:

let me explain it to you simply. Israel has lived by the sword. For some stupid reason, you zionists think you can do that without consequences. You think you can force your stinking terrorist state on us, and then live in peace. This will never happen.

You are stupid enough to believe you can bomb yourself to peace. You can’t. You probably still don’t even understand why Israel is so hated.

Do you know that Israel is a colonial state? Do you know that it is a settler population? Do you know that the zionists stole the land from the Palestinians? Do you even know those things? You act like we should just ignore those things because you do, but that will never happen. Eventually, regardless of how much you deny it to yourself, people like you will have to come to terms with these facts.

Groups like Hamas, Hizbullah and the like are not a passing fad, they are the RESULT of zionism. You can’t just sign some political deal and hope people will forget the past.

This is why there are really only two choices. Either the Jews can accept the fact that they are a settler population and come to terms with it by accepting a one-state solution, or they can go back to Europe. You are lucky that the Arabs will even allow a one-state solution, but that is the concession we will make to the jews, because we understand you have had a rough history and we just want peace. But the fact of your state, and your continued denial of its nature is what keeps this war going. we are 350 million, you are 6 million. You have the upper hand now but the gap is shrinking. And we have given you many many chances at peace, but you refuse. Your choices are limited and your time is running out. You must look in the mirror and understand the true face of your state, then there can be peace. But there will never be peace if the zionists continue to deny reality. it will catch up to you.

This is just a fact.

January 10th, 2009, 6:41 am


Chris said:


You wrote:
After they accepted to ask for roughly 20% of original Palestine (giving Israel the remaining 80%), for Israel to complain that they are not open to bargaining over their remaining 1/5th is quite insulting.
….The idea is to stick to UN resolutions that specified that arrangement … if you start deviating from them, them Israel will be tempted to try to use its power to get more concessions.

Alex, as you indicate Palestine as a whole is no longer under discussion. It was under discussion in the 30s during the time of the Peel Commission and in 1947. If we base peace talks on what is insulting (sounds like what hurts our feelings or our sense of justice) everyone will get no where as either would claim that the other’s claims are insulting. As far as justice is concerned: there’s enough injustice and victimhood to go around.

The UN is a largely external entity. Many of the resolutions to which people frequently refer, such as 194, are General Assembly resolutions, which are nonbinding. Resolutions 242 and 338 were passed long ago, immediately after 1967. The meaning of 242 is highly disputed. The situation has changed dramatically in the past 41 years. Ultimately, a negotiation has to take place, where deep and painful concessions are made by both sides.

For a peaceful situation to develop both sides have to see it as in their interest. That doesn’t mean seeing the wisdom of UN resolutions passed a generation ago. The fact of the matter is that Israel controls much of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and now they again control much of Gaza. If the Palestinians want that land they have to show Israel how it is in their interest to concede that land. Of course, Israel has to do the same, convince the Palestinians that it is in their interest to sign on the dotted line. No country would make deep and painful concessions simply because of some UN Resolutions. Unfortunately, UN resolutions don’t yet compel countries to do anything.

That being said, I see the Arab Peace plan and the sentiments that you laid out Alex as consistent with much of the history of the conflict: A compromise exists, it seen as injust and turned down so the next opportunity for peace comes a generation later after the Arab position has greatly deteriorated, and again compromise is turned down. Let’s not let our sense of being insaulted, let get in the way of making progress on this issue.

Everyone knows that we cannot go back to the 1930s, 1947, 1967, or to any point in the past (well maybe 2000). Perhaps immediately after the Six Day War, before the Khartoum Resolution of 1967 and the three no’s were issued, an agreement such as this one could have been made. But just as after the 1930s, 1947, 1967, 2000 Israel has developed and its position has improved. There are now major Israeli population centers in the West Bank. It is now much more difficult to convince Israel to hand over the West Bank than it would have been in ’67. To just say “give us all of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the right of return then we will recognize your right to exist” seems absurd and ahistorical and of course, since the Saudis aren’t idiots, not a serious offer.

January 10th, 2009, 7:16 am


Alex said:

Joe M.

I believe in the one-state solution but ..

1) In ten to 25 years, not before … only when Israelis slowly rediscover the fact that Arabs and Muslims are human beings, not “terrorists”. For now they simply can’t trust us while we are at war with them … especially after each preplanned mass-murder episode of theirs motivates more Palestinians and Arabs to genuinely hate them.

I, therefore, believe in the two-state solution for now.

2) The one-state for Israelis and Palestinians should coincide with the rest of the Levant being close to looking like a one-state as well. Practically open borders between Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan …

But until then, it seems some people need to spill some more blood before they come to this logical conclusions.


Why are there major Israeli population centers in the West bank? .. many of these centers were built not long after some UN security council resolutions (binding, not like the General assembly’s) were passed that made it clear the West bank is not Israel’s … and not 40 years later.

So basically you want to tell the Arabs .. oops! .. I did not realize it but I built some settlements by mistake .. I really did not mean to.

Then of course .. “oops I did it again .. I built more settlements int h West bank even though I promised I won’t”

Then you tell the Arabs: “look, the UN is a big joke anyway … except when those UN resolutions are against Syria or Hizbollah, then they better be taken seriously or else Israel will destroy your country and kill your children again.”

January 10th, 2009, 7:52 am


Joe M. said:

let me translate what Chris wrote. He says, basically, “ignore the past, ignore history, just face that you are a defeated people. The question is not what was possible, but what will be possible considering that we will continue to destroy you unless you settle on our terms… Your choice is to submit or accept less later…”

And Chris is mainstream among zionists. Their problem is that they know there is an inconsistency in this logic. The zionists know they have power presently, but they constantly feel that their state faces “existential threats.” This is to say that they know they are the ones facing the overall imbalance of power in the region. Their fear of the existential threat is an expression of the fact that the balance is in our favor. That even Sharon had to immediately leave Gaza is a concrete example of this fear (he knew he needed to bring some finality to the situation, because Israel can’t survive otherwise). They know that their state is not sustainable in the long term without our acceptance of it.

And the crazy part is that, even knowing that they face the problem of long-term sustainability, they have the arrogance to think that dominating us will bring them legitimacy or respect, or whatever. This is a losing game for them. Chris is basically pleading to you to forget the past, forget 1947, forget 1967… forget the zionist crimes, the injustice. Yet, even if we forget the past, it doesn’t bring justice to the zionist state today. Because, even if we forgot the history (which we never will), it doesn’t change the fact that the conditions today are extremely unjust as well. And that injustice in the basic “realities on the ground” is a reflection of the fact that it has been the zionists who have rejected every compromise, every deal, every Arab effort to reach an accommodation. They are the ones who have occupied our lands, settled our countries, displaced our people, created an apartheid state, dominated our brother and sister peoples… and on and on. These are the fruits of their labors. And even if we forget the past, we can’t forget what we see every day.

They are the ones with the power, they created the current crisis (including, but not limited to the current war), and this inconsistency is what is going to destroy Israel in the end. The continuation of the conflict is their doing, and yet they can’t reconcile that because they will be to weak to survive very long if they give in and try to create justice. And if they don’t work for a greater justice and simply continue down their path of trying to buy legitimacy with force, they will just continue digging the grave that their violent, terrorist state will eventually be laid to rest in.

January 10th, 2009, 8:11 am


Joe M. said:

Do you see, Chris is basically asking you, “why should I give you anything, when we know you can’t take it by yourself…”

And it’s largely true. I mean, I respect you generally, but why do you keep giving the zionists enough rope to hang you with? I assume you are trying to “make peace”, but they have no reason to make peace on your terms when they can have that without you any time they want. Why would Israel negotiate with parties it can soundly defeat at any time? When it can simply create “facts on the ground” that we can not overturn? Even though you disagree with his arguments, you have conceded so much to him already by accepting the underlying logic of his argument (that Israel is legitimate, even if just by the fact that it is there). Begging for peace is not going to make the zionists accept a peace deal, because if they wanted the peace you proposed, they could take it with or without you.

January 10th, 2009, 8:33 am


Shai said:

Joe M.,

You know I agree with much of what you say. But I also think we have no choice but the two-state solution, if we are to avert some terrible regional catastrophe that now seems more and more likely to occur at some point in the future. There is only so much the Arab world (indeed the Muslim world) will take from Israel, and it is only a matter of time before Iran achieves nuclear capabilities, and perhaps Pakistan enters the game as well. You are underestimating the real numbers here, I think, because in essence, this is turning into a 1 billion vs. 13 million battle. What is happening in Gaza bothers Muslims in Indonesia no less than in Yemen, and there is no reason to believe that the Muslim world is not slowly slowly beginning to unite and mobilize against Israeli aggression which, at least so far, seems to be widely supported (or not condemned) by the Jewish community worldwide.

A two-state solution will give this region a “time out” that is desperately required. Simply put, Jews and Arabs today distrust and hate one another. No peace agreement, artificial or not, is going to change that overnight. What is needed, is a period of non-war, of relative peace and quiet, where no side feels threatened by another. In this period, there might be a chance for empathy and trust to develop. If Israelis will accept a withdrawal from 97% of the West Bank, from the Golan Heights, and remove any and all blockades, this will be the first step. After a state of Palestine is created, this “time out” period could begin. As Alex suggested, I also believe it’ll last at least 10-20 years before all sides can begin to contemplate my so-called UME (United Middle East), with open borders, freedom of movement, ability to work and live anywhere, etc. That will, de facto, be the one-state solution.

But I doubt it’ll happen before. What I’m trying to explain to my people, is that in essence, we have already brought upon us the one-state solution we are so fearful of, except that we rule it as an Apartheid regime. The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics presented a report not long ago, showing that for the first time, Israel was now controlling a territory that has in it more non-Jews than Jews. That is what caused Sharon to get out of Gaza, and that’s what would have caused him to complete the act, by leaving the West Bank as well. The demographics, today, are Israel’s biggest fears. I hope one day that will change. But we first need that “time out”, I believe.

January 10th, 2009, 8:54 am


Chris said:


What I’m saying is that this is about coming to an agreement between the parties; in doing that U.N. resolutions aren’t very relevant. The fact of the matter is that those Israeli population centers exist, just as Israel now exists in 78% of historic Palestine, rather than the 55% alotted in the partition plan. So, the question is how to get Israel to withdraw from as much as land as possible. How do we convince Israel, without slaughtering innocents, that it is in their interest to pull back? My point in recounting the history was to show that as time passes the amount of land that the Palestinians, or Arab countries, are able to obtain decreases. So, act now before it becomes more difficult! (oh by the way it is becoming and has become more difficult to convince the Israelis to concede land)


You wrote:
They know that their state is not sustainable in the long term without our acceptance of it.

I think you’re correct; most Israelis do know that. Olmert made a statement, in September I believe, to that effect. However, the trick is convincing them that once they pull back from land that rockets won’t be fired at them from the land they withdrew from (i.e. like we have seen in Lebanon and Gaza).

You wrote:
Chris is basically pleading to you to forget the past, forget 1947, forget 1967… forget the zionist crimes, the injustice.

Yes Joe! Forget the past because everyone can cry Deir Yassin! or Kfar Etzion! or Sabra and Shatila! or Passover Massacre! or Qibya! or Munich! or Jenin! or Hebron! My point is, one could go on for pages listing the injustices and crimes that each party has incurred or committed in the past. There’s enough injustice to go around. Ultimately though, to continue recounting all that only serves as an obstacle to moving forward, it hardens feeling and makes people hesitant to compromising with the other party, as your commentary indicates.

Your last paragraph seemed to attempt to drive the point home that “they” are responsible or everything is “their” fault. Well, Palestinians are not bystanders watching history go by. Hamas has made choices. The Palestinian electorate has made choices. Arafat made choices. Palestinian Islamic Jihad has made choices. Khaled Mashaal has made choices. Whether they were the right ones at the time for the Palestinian people, I do not know, but they certainly bear responsibility for the consequences of those choices.

January 10th, 2009, 8:56 am


Joe M. said:

Would you ask Jews to forget the holocaust if they were still in the concentration camps today? We are not only talking about history here, and that was my point when I said that Israel will not be able to reconcile its use of force presently with the “existential threat” it faces.

And, just to continue the analogy, Jews also did things that were used to blame them for their suffering and the Germans scapegoated them during WWII. That does not mean it is correct. While the Palestinians have not been perfect, ISRAEL IS AT FAULT FOR THIS CONFLICT (it started it and it maintains it). This is settled history and is not up for debate. And, considering that you keep pretending there are two sides to this story, it just goes to show that you don’t know the history. that you don’t know how the wars started, that you don’t know who caused it or why it continues. I am not playing a blame game, the fact is that Israel needs to look in the mirror and realize that it is a crime itself and come to terms with that. There can be no peace on the basis of an agreement that doesn’t start there. Because, unless Israel comes to terms with its crimes (including allowing the right of return), the war can’t end. Israel and the Palestinians can not be reconciled without Israel recognizing itself as a crime, and seeking to redress it.

We have fought before, so I don’t seek to rehash the same old arguments. But let me point out one of the most annoying things about your views. Even as a colonial oppressor, you still look at “peace” as primarily a solution to your own problem. I admit that you know better than most Jews that the Palestinians are suffering, and that a crime has been committed against them. But you don’t seek to solve the conflict by making justice for the Palestinians, you primarily seek to solve it to protect yourself from the danger of a world war (or something). Your arguments are never centered on making justice for the oppressed(even if that is included). And this is why we disagree.

Tactically, yes, it is probably something like 350 million brothers/sisters plus 1 billion cousins against 13 million Jews. And this advantage makes it impossible that Israel will win in the long-term. And you basically say that a two-state solution is just a way to by time for a better solution. But maybe you forget that we have already been playing that game for the last 60 years. Israel has had the chance to make a two-state solution, and Israel has flatly rejected it. Today there is no more two-state solution. You think you can convince Hamas (or even me or the other 1 billion) to recognize Israel? It’s over, it’s done, forget it. This is not a question any more. The question is how it will Israel end, will the Jews go back to Europe (like Avram Burg) or will they decide to seek peace with humility and equality in one state with the Palestinians? Their time is running out to choose humility.

January 10th, 2009, 9:29 am


Alex said:

Dear Joe M.

I understand and respect your views, I pay attention to everything you write… I remember when you did not like me using the word “please” in my comment to Alon Liel

You and I have some real differences, and some cosmetic differences related to style of communication with those we disagree with.

Although I am now older and a bit more inquisitive, when I was young I was raised believing that God will forgive us any time we are ready to genuinely abandon a foolish path.

If God can forgive, then I better try hard to make sure I can do the same.

I really do not respect all those in Israel and the Arab world who are slaves to their revenge needs … need to take revenge sustained the conflict more than anything else.

We will eventually find a way to erase borders. Whatever compromise solution in terms of borders we hope to reach is only meaningful for the next decade or two in my opinion. I don’t believe they will last… no matter how uncivilized we are in the Middle East today, we will be civilized enough two decades after we live in peace.

Because of what Jews went through in Europe last century, I am more than willing to pay the price … accepting a reformed version of the highly aggressive and paranoid current Zionist state .. if it makes an effort to integrate more naturally in the neighborhood after a peace agreement.

I am convinced that for now, nothing but a strict withdrawal to pre-1967 state will be acceptable to the Arabs, and no one state solution is acceptable to the Israelis.

They are fools if they think they will use their F16s to force any lesser solution on the Arabs, and we will be fools to think we can force them to accept a one-state solution today.

I know they are very powerful … but their power reached its peak in 2005 .. now it is much lower .. they can kill women and children easily .. they can invade neighboring countries .. they can destroy many “targets” and not lose many planes .. but they can not win a conventional war anymore.

And at that point, the world will intervene to help the Arabs and Israelis try harder this time to reach that one and only settlement.

Joe … Israel today is bad news … but I am convinced that Turkey and Syria with help from Iran/Hizbollah/Hamas/Qatar are more than determined to help Israel mature.

They won’t allow Israel to destroy the Middle East for much longer.

January 10th, 2009, 9:37 am


offended said:

I am actually starting to see Ehsani’s point of view about one secular state. For there to be peace, Israel must cease to exist. It should cease to exist as a racist, ethnocentric and apartheid-like state. Bring back the all the Palestinian refugees, give them their stolen land back. Establish a secular state and call it ‘Israel/Palestine’ and impart equal rights to all.

Not a bad idea.

January 10th, 2009, 9:42 am


Alex said:


And there are many Palestinian population centers within Israel … so do you want to exchange territories in the West Bank where you built artificial Jewish settlements for territories in Israel where the Palestinians always lived and owned lands and continue to live today? .. ONE METER FOR ONE METER.

If you don’t then forget about peace … peace can be made between equals … logical arguments must apply to both sides… If Livni wants Palestinians to leave Israel to the west bank, then she should be prepared to welcome an equal number of Israeli settlers currently living in their fortified castles in the west bank.

You still want to impose less-than-reasonable terms on the Arabs … it won’t work even after the IDF killed hundereds of children and women in Gaza… no one is scared anymore.

January 10th, 2009, 9:49 am


Chris said:


It’s not up to me to decide who should give up what or how things should be negotiated upon… Earlier, I was not attempting to describe the countours of a peace plan that I think should be implemented, but rather how I see the existing reality on the ground. That being said I believe in recent discussions there is talk between Abbas and Israel of transferring land in Israel (that is within the green line) to a Palestinian state in exchange for Israel keeping the, or some of the, major settlements in the West Bank. Hey, if it works, great!

You wrote:
“so do you want to exchange territories in the West Bank where you built artificial Jewish settlements for territories…”

I didn’t build anything in Israel or the West Bank. I am from Los Angeles, California.

January 10th, 2009, 10:01 am


Shai said:

Joe M.,

I am not interested in “fighting” you. When I suggest what I suggest, I do so without an Israeli “hat”, but rather with a Human “hat”. But I think you still see my suggestions as coming from an Israeli and, therefore, by definition (certainly today) as favoring Israel over the Palestinians. Let me set the record straight, at least from my angle. I wish that right this minute, Israeli would accept a one-state solution, and that Palestinians could indeed return to Jaffa, Haifa, Ramleh, and Lod. I wish my people weren’t afraid of Arabs. I wish we could ALL put away our miserable past, and begin forming a new and peaceful future for our children, if not for us.

But that’s a fantasy, not reality. Reality is, that most people in my country suspect, distrust, and hate YOU, as much you hate them. They care more about the psychological effects some stupid rockets are causing a few towns in the South of Israel over the past 8 years, than they do about hundreds of lives, and thousands of injured, in but a few days of bombing in Gaza. It no longer matters “who started”, whether it was two weeks ago, 40 years ago, or 60 years ago. Whether it was the Arabs that rejected the two-state solution offered by the U.N., or the Jews. It is irrelevant not because it is a memory that should be erased – of course it should NOT – but because today we have to first deal with practical matters on the ground. And those are, the continued suffering of the Palestinian people, the continued Occupation of Palestine, and the reluctance of Israel to end this miserable chapter in our history.

The battle is no longer on “recognizing” Israel, or Palestine. It’s about separating the two people, so that they can stop and think, and maybe one day change. We can’t separate, unless we withdraw from occupied territories, and establish a state alongside Israel. A one-state solution is a fantasy today – it cannot be achieved. Even if the entire Muslim world joined hands, put together an army of millions, threaten Israel with atomic bombs, and indeed attempt to rid this region of Zionism once and for all, Israel would fight back. To expect the Palestinians to one day live in Jaffa again, by force, is unrealistic. To expect to liberate Gaza and West Bank by force is, perhaps, more realistic. But as we’ve seen, even 20 years of violence haven’t brought the Palestinians their deserved freedom.

I am not seeking a “better solution” for me, Joe M., because I realize that if I gain today, at the expense of the Palestinians, I will lose tomorrow. I have no colonialist aspirations and, in fact, have no particular attachment to a piece of land any more than to another. If Israel right now decided to belong to some UME, whereby Saudi and Syrian and Iraqi citizens could come work, and live, right alongside me, in Israel, I’d be perfectly happy. But the hatred has to be dealt with, before we can think about living together. And that will take time.

To ask the Palestinians to forget the two-state solution, to forget Israel, and instead to dream only of a one-state solution is, I think, removing any chance of freedom for your people anytime in the foreseeable future.

January 10th, 2009, 10:01 am


Joe M. said:

Of course, we disagree quite often. Both locally and more holistically. Unfortunately, I am not currently in the mood (because I need to get some sleep. I will probably come back to this thread soon) to rebut you where I most disagree. But I will just say that we do agree that Israel has already created a one-state solution. I think that is something to build upon. Israel’s momentum is leading it off a cliff. And I do not have enough faith in the zionist state to believe it will reconsider itself enough to make peace until it takes a hard fall.

I enjoy discussions with you and respect your views. But I think that you should re-evaluate your strategy.

January 10th, 2009, 10:36 am


Alia said:

Dear Shai,

I have read repeatedly your argument based on “the necessity for us to understand “the state of fear” that the Israelis live in order to ??? engage with them in a process of peace”. I have come to see this stand of yours as just one more misguided apology for the Israeli mentality, notwithstanding your own belief in the validity of your pleas, I do not believe that we have to pursue this road any further.

The events in Gaza in the past two weeks, horrifying as they are, speak volumes as to the Israeli mentality. The previous months of starvation of the population, of withholding electricity and necessities of life went largely unseen and unheard. Now, the events and the conclusions they invite are inescapable. In that sense, the Israelis have shown themselves exactly as we Arabs suspected them all along to be: ruthless primitive killers of women and children who do not deserve a place among human societies. We should thank them for that. Actions speak louder than words such as “democracy, civilization” etc..

Is the single soldier in the IDF killing children and women out of fear? Read Col Lang’s analysis of the IDF where he highlights the fact that the IDF is mainly an army of reservists i.e., of people who are normally walking the streets, living civilian lives, now unmasked as thugs and murderers.

There will never be peace for or with Israel. The Israelis have never wanted it or worked for it. Bad faith shows itself sooner or later. I have been in the minority of those who have called for a one state solution with Arabs largely outnumbering Israelis. Now I think that Israelis who have any sense of decency should pick up and leave that inferno and stop pulling the covers over their own eyes. Peace will come imposed from outside in a few decades; in the meantime, once more Israel has been proven unfit to exist as an independent nation.

January 10th, 2009, 10:57 am


Chris said:

My Arabic isn’t perfect (yet) and I know that there is controversy surrounding MEMRI, so I was curious, are there any flaws in the translation of this video?

Please let me know if you find any. Thanks!

January 10th, 2009, 11:26 am


Honest Patriot said:

How many more must die till the known solution is finally put in place?

Plan of Attack For Peace

With Gaza in flames, the prospects for a Middle East deal seem minuscule. But there is a way out, and both sides know what they must do.

Daniel Klaidman


From the magazine issue dated Jan 12, 2009

In the remorseless logic of the Middle East, war is diplomacy by other means. This was true when Anwar Sadat launched a surprise attack on Israel in October 1973, a move that gave him the credibility and stature in the Arab world to make peace six years later with the Jewish state. It is also true today as Israel continues its assault on Hamas in Gaza, attacks that were prompted by Hamas missile strikes on Israel. The recent violence has reportedly cost more than 400 lives and left over 2,000 wounded; on Saturday, Israeli ground forces began moving in. Much of the outside world, not without justification, views the Gaza campaign as yet another atavistic explosion of Arab-Israeli violence that will, once again, set back the efforts for peace. But these strikes were not simply a reaction; they were a calculation.

Indeed, an Israeli source intimate with Olmert’s thinking, speaking anonymously in order to speak freely, says the prime minister went into Gaza with a two-tiered set of objectives. The first was simply to stop the missiles Hamas was sending into Israel and to force a renewal of the ceasefire that existed until Dec. 19. Olmert’s second goal, the source says, is far more ambitious—and risky: the prime minister wants to crush Hamas altogether, first by aerial attacks and then with a grinding artillery and infantry assault. The hope, however faint, is eventually to allow Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah government to reassert control in Gaza, clearing the way in the future for a return to serious peace negotiations. With Hamas out of the way, Olmert believes there is a chance that Israel and the Palestinians can put flesh on the outlines of a comprehensive peace plan he negotiated with Abbas over the past year.

Wishful thinking? Probably. After so many failed attempts, the phrase “peace process” has little meaning. Olmert’s own motives in Gaza may have as much to do with domestic politics as foreign policy. Badly weakened and facing possible corruption charges, he has been grasping to rescue his tarnished legacy. But the fact that Olmert wants to negotiate, and that Abbas wants to negotiate, underscores the stubborn, maddening fact about the Israeli-Palestinian relationship: there is only one path to peace, and both sides know what it is—and yet neither side has been willing to take it. The violence, the bombings, the threats and counterthreats are all the more exhausting and senseless because they are, essentially, an elaborate delaying tactic. The broad contours of a peace were laid out eight years ago when President Bill Clinton brought the two sides together at Camp David and tried to broker a historic deal. The current Olmert “shelf plan” is remarkably similar to the Clinton parameters: a two-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians make painful compromises on the core issues of territory, security, Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. The 2000 talks collapsed partly because time ran out on Clinton’s term and partly because neither side had the political clout to sell the deal back home. Bush, fixated on Iraq and terror, has paid little mind to the conflict until recently.

There are many difficult details to be worked out: the exact borders of a two-state compromise; the fate of Palestinian refugees; the future of Jerusalem. President Barack Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, will now inherit these challenges. They cannot simply pick up where Bill Clinton left off. The strategic context in the region has changed profoundly—for the worse. George W. Bush’s war on terror has diminished American credibility in the Arab world. Moreover, the leaders of those Arab states that are closest to the United States have lost legitimacy, challenged by popular opposition at home. Meanwhile a Shiite government in Baghdad, the first in half a millennium, along with the rise of Iran, has increased Shiite-Sunni tensions throughout the Middle East. (On the bright side, Iran’s enhanced influence in the region means that the West has a powerful incentive to break up the alliance between Tehran and Damascus. Real progress with Syria could have a positive effect on Israeli-Palestinian talks.)

At the moment, the greatest impediment to peace is Hamas, the terrorist group that won power in Gaza through elections in 2006. The rise of a rejectionist “Hamastan” in Gaza has left Palestinians divided between Abbas’s more moderate Fatah government and radical Hamas leaders who encourage violence and believe Israel itself should not exist. Hamas rose by exploiting the misery and grievances of the Palestinians. The challenge for Palestinians and Israelis who desire peace is to make Hamas irrelevant in the eyes of its supporters by offering them something more tangible than revenge.

The suspicion of many Israelis—sometimes justified—that Palestinian leaders are interested not in peace but in Israel’s destruction has been another powerful obstacle. Israelis warn against becoming freiers. The word is Yiddish for “suckers,” but it carries deeper psychological freight in a country that grew out of the ashes of the Holocaust and has absorbed “never again” as its mantra. The Palestinians harbor similar resentments at having repeatedly drawn the short stick of history. As many of them see it, the land of Israel is land that the world stole from them in 1948, leaving them without a home. At Camp David, Yasir Arafat refused to finalize a peace agreement with Israel, claiming that to do so would be to court assassination by his own people.

There are no options other than a comprehensive agreement that creates two sovereign states, Israel and Palestine, warily coexisting side by side. Lately, some Palestinian intellectuals have been making the case for a single, binational state—an idea that could have even more currency in the aftermath of Israel’s military action in Gaza. But from the Israeli perspective, such a one-state solution would be disastrous, for it would terminate the founding principle of the country as a Jewish homeland.

President-elect Obama may have hoped he would have time to develop an approach to peacemaking in the Holy Land. But as usual, the schedule is dictated by facts on the ground. It is unclear how engaged Obama can be in the Middle East in the early months of his administration; his first priority will be fixing the American economy. What Obama can’t delay once he takes office is forcefully recommitting the United States to a two-state solution and the basic framework for peace that already exists.

During the presidential campaign, Obama’s detractors tried to cast doubt on his loyalty to Israel. It was a political ploy, since Obama has spoken out forcefully in Israel’s defense. Yet many Israeli and American Jews hope Obama will be willing to deliver the sort of tough love to the Israelis that Bush, reflexively defensive of Israel, refused to do for eight years. The president must be willing to pressure the next Israeli prime minister to make difficult concessions for peace. The Israelis may be more open to such pressure now than they were in the past. Time is no longer on their side. Arab birthrates are rising. By most estimates, if Israel insists on maintaining control over the West Bank, the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea will be majority Arab in years to come. Thus, the only way for Israel to stay a Jewish state is to make way for a Palestinian state. Early signs are that Obama intends to play this role of loyal but critical friend—and in that sense will be, as the joke goes, “good for the Jews.”

The new president and his team will be able to rely on ideas derived from the work of negotiators who have struggled, with the patience of Job, to find a middle ground. There is room for refinement and improvement. The haggling will be epic. But in the end (if there ever is an end), any lasting agreement for peace will probably look something like this.

Article I: Territory
Ever since Israel blitzed the Arabs in 1967’s Six Day War—taking the Sinai and Gaza from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria and the West Bank from Jordan—”land for peace” has been the guiding principle of any comprehensive deal. It remains the only option. Israel has already withdrawn from Gaza; it must now pull out of the vast majority of the West Bank. Palestinians will establish their homeland in these two swatches of land. In return, the Palestinians and other Arabs will formally renounce their claims on the Jewish state and recognize its right to exist. But there will have to be some adjustments to the pre-1967 borders. Israel and the Palestinians should swap equal amounts of land, allowing a majority of the roughly 270,000 Israeli settlers now residing in the largest of the West Bank settlement blocks to stay where they are while remaining under Israeli sovereignty. Israel in turn would give up a land corridor connecting Gaza to the West Bank and allowing for the free flow of people and commerce between the two. There is one additional challenge that did not exist when Clinton laid out his original proposal in 2000: the Israelis have erected a security barrier that puts a full 8 percent of the West Bank on their side of the fence. It has already changed the way Israelis think about the borders of their nation. “The security barrier is creating new conceptual and spatial contours in the Israeli imagination,” says Daniel Levy, a former Israeli negotiator and now a senior fellow at both the Century and New America foundations. But for any deal to succeed, the barrier would have to be torn down or, at the very least, moved.

Article II: Security
Back in 2000, this was the most straightforward of the issues to be worked out. Both sides generally agreed that the new Palestinian state would have to be largely de-militarized. Palestinian forces would be allowed to maintain light arms to enforce domestic law and order but would not have an offensive capability that could in any way threaten Israel. The Palestinians would have sovereignty over their airspace, but it would be limited to civilian aviation. Yet the violence of the last eight years—not only between Palestinians and Israelis but also between Fatah and Hamas forces—complicates the security equation. The Israelis are now more skeptical that Fatah is strong enough to assume responsibility for security. A more feasible approach would be to put a NATO-based international force in the West Bank that would later transfer control to the Palestinians. Obama might well go for this; his designated national-security adviser, retired Gen. James Jones, developed the idea while serving as Condoleezza Rice’s envoy for Palestinian-Israeli security issues. As far as Israeli forces are concerned, they would be able to withdraw from the strategically important Jordan Valley over a longer period of time, perhaps three years. Israel would be allowed to maintain a number of warning stations on Palestinian territory. Finally, Israel would allow the Palestinians to have sovereignty over their borders and international crossing points. But these borders and crossing points should be monitored by an international presence.

Article III: Jerusalem
The sacred “City of Peace” is at the very heart of the 100-year conflict: how to divvy up rights to a holy place with too much history and not enough geography. In 2000, Clinton’s deft diplomatic skills helped demystify Jerusalem. He asked Israeli and Palestinian mediators to come up with a list of 60 basic municipal responsibilities they could share, from garbage collection to mail delivery. There was remarkable consensus. By moving the conversation from the sacred to the mundane, the exercise isolated the practical issues of running a city from the abstract and emotionally fraught issue of sovereignty. Clinton’s seductively simple notion was this: in occupied East Jerusalem, he said, “What is Arab should be Palestinian and what is Jewish should be Israeli.” This is just as relevant today. So is the principle from Camp David that Jerusalem must be divided—but shared, and it must serve as a capital to both states.

One of Clinton’s solutions will likely have to be dialed back. His concept of split-level sovereignty for the holiest parts of Jerusalem are too incendiary. Jews know the area as the Temple Mount, the site where the ancient temple once stood. It is revered by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, the place where Muhammad ascended to heaven on a white steed. Clinton proposed Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram and Israeli sovereignty over the entire Western Wall, part of which runs beneath the Muslim quarter of the Old City. Today, it is very unlikely that either side would accept such a division. But there are other creative solutions. One is a proposal in a new book by Martin Indyk, Clinton’s ambassador to Israel at the time of the 2000 summit. Indyk recommends that the Old City be placed under a so-called “special regime,” with Israeli and Palestinian governments sharing sovereignty over the territory. But the religious sites inside the Old City walls would remain under the control of the respective Muslim, Jewish and Christian religious authorities without any actual designation of sovereignty. Alternatively, Indyk suggests, the entire Holy Basin—the Old City and religious sites—could be placed under international supervision, with religious authorities controlling their holy places.

Article IV: Refugees
This may be the most difficult problem to solve. What will become of the Palestinians who fled or were forced from their territory in 1948, and their descendants? There are as many as 4 million refugees living in camps on the West Bank and Gaza and in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. They are poor, stateless and angry. For half a century they have waited, believing that one day they will return to their homes. Throughout the years of negotiations, Palestinians have demanded a “right of return.” But to Israelis, the notion implies an admission that they are responsible for the refugee crisis and the historical injustices leveled against the Palestinians. Israelis, offended at the suggestion that their country was born in sin, have drawn a clear line.

Israeli leaders have been willing to accept a partial solution: some refugees living in the camps would make homes in the newly established state of Palestine. A small, symbolic number would be permitted to move to Israel. For this to work, refugees living in camps in Syria and other foreign states would have to be allowed to stay if they chose, and be granted citizenship in their adopted countries—the Arab host countries could not demand that all of the refugees return to Palestine, where they would overwhelm the budding state. And the refugees must be granted a window of time—perhaps three to five years—to petition international courts for compensation for what they have lost, perhaps as part of a massive regional redevelopment plan.

But how to salve the wounds of Palestinian grievance? One intriguing solution is offered by writer Walter Russell Mead in an essay in the current issue of Foreign Affairs. Mead argues that though Israel must take some responsibility for the Palestinian tragedy, the entire nakba, or catastrophe, “cannot simply be laid at Israel’s door.” Israel must acknowledge its part in the events of 1948, but the international community must take “ultimate responsibility” for the 60-year-old crisis. In this way, the world would acknowledge that the Palestinians have indeed suffered a historic injustice, but obviate the need for Israel to bear full responsibility. “This is a way to confer dignity on the Palestinian people,” says Levy—a crucial step toward securing an elusive peace.

With Dan Ephron, Christopher Dickey and Michael Hirsh


© 2009

January 10th, 2009, 11:57 am


SimoHurtta said:

Chris isn’t it a fact that Israel’s strong position is solely based on the support (and resources) of USA and Europe. Without that support Israel’s strength vanishes in months. We should consider what makes Israel important for USA and Europe. Israel has no significant natural resources, its location is not along important trade and energy routes. The Israeli markets and economy are in no way essential for EU or USA. So basically Israel is not important. An other reality is that close ties with Israel hurt the economical possibilities with Arab countries especially now and most probably in future if Israel continues its policy.

For Europe it is important besides the energy needs find fast a ways to hinder to mass immigration from Arab countries to Europe. That can be only done with encouraging the economical growth in Arab countries. Surely the possibility of selling tens of nuclear power stations and other infrastructure make any leader of European big powers to think twice where are the real markets. Europe’s support for Israel is based partly on historical reasons (quilt) and for some countries because USA wants (=demands) it. But the reality is that most of Europe would like to see a “small” peaceful Israel, not this violent constantly troubles generating entity which makes things unnecessary complex.

EU also knows that the political and economical opportunity in Middle East also interests Russia which is fast returning to the play ground. A gas cartel is the nightmare for western powers. Russia and China can nowadays basically offer Arab countries and Iran the same what USA and EU. 20 years ago it was not so.

The US support for Israel is based besides the historical cold war eras “challenges” on the influence of local Jews and their “resources”. From USA own national interests that support makes presently rather little political, economical and military sense considering the size and natural resources of Arab and Muslim countries. An interesting “brain exercise” is to consider what if Turkey would one force USA to choose their main ally in Middle East in case of Turkish and Israeli interests are not in the “same line”. Turkey is a strong regional power with huge influence especially in the stan countries and Turkey has show clear signs of the will to increase it’s influence in the south and east. Without Turkey US options in the central Eurasia are much more less successful.

So Israel’s position of strength is based solely on a shaky foreign ground. As others have said time and numbers are not Israel’s side and its possibilities of keeping the position do not look very “optimistic” especially with this violent ongoing massager. If Israel is not interested on the present Arab peace initiative with the 67 borders maybe the next Arab peace initiative will be based on the 48 borders. Naturally the one state solution would be the best from the viewpoint of democracy and equality. Sad that it doesn’t interest the self declared beacons of democracy, USA and Israel.

January 10th, 2009, 12:43 pm


qunfuz said:

Alia – I think the Israeli victim mentality is based on two things. First, the memory of the Holocaust, which is constantly returned to so as to justify Zionism. Avraham Burg recently wrote a book about how the Holocaust is crippling the Jews and Israel psychologically. Second, and more importantly, their awareness, even if unconscious, that stealing another people’s land and homes and driving those people out and massacring them is wrong and can never be forgiven. This awareness makes them mentally ill, and reinforces their racism (which existed anyway – the European Jews who started Zionism were Europeans, who saw the Arabs in the way the Germans saw the Hottentots, or the British saw the Zimbabweans). There can be no peace with mentally ill racists.

January 10th, 2009, 12:52 pm


Chris said:


You wrote:
Chris isn’t it a fact that Israel’s strong position is solely based on the support (and resources) of USA and Europe. Without that support Israel’s strength vanishes in months.

No. That’s not a fact. Of course not. Israel will be joining the OECD soon. It is a country with a high GDP. The per capita GDP is $28,800. Remember, GDP does not include what the U.S. or any country gives to it as GDP includes only what Israel produces within a single year. So, even if the U.S. withdrew support it would still be a technologically advanced society with a highly productive economy.

January 10th, 2009, 1:56 pm


Shai said:


I hear your anger, and your pain. I also hear Joe M.’s, and that of the Palestinian people. How can you make you want to make peace with us, when you see the images on TV? I can’t. I will no longer try to explain anything behind our mentality because, at the end of the day, action does speak louder than words. How can I convince you that most Israelis are not murderers of women and children, when you’ll ask me to simply turn on the TV set? But I do want you to consider a few things:

a. Peace we make not only with “normal” people – sometimes also with criminals, dictators, liars, and thieves.

b. Many if not most nations have been, at some point in their history, mostly racist. Israel is no exception. I believe peace can help cure much of that racism.

c. Most Israelis are as complicit in the crimes being committed right now in Gaza as most Americans are in the crimes committed in Iraq. Yet most do not call Americans child-murderers, even though they elected the ultimate criminal President to power, twice. Less than 50% of Israelis serve in the army and, of those, less than 25% have ever served in the Palestinian territories. Of those that have, very few have ever murdered a Palestinian man, woman, or child. Most would not be judged murderers in any international court of law. Perhaps the generals would, maybe even a few low-ranking officers. But certainly not the majority of the soldiers in the IDF, and of course not the majority of the people of Israel.

d. I completely understand generalizations made against Israel, especially when an entire nation stands silent. But generalizations will not help change the picture. Hardened positions that turn extreme, will only serve to further harden and feed into the extremists on all sides. That will not lead to faster recognition of the Palestinians’ legitimate rights, but quite likely the opposite. At the end of the day, a few courageous souls have to lead the way out of this conflict, and to produce those, we must maintain some bits of hope.

Alia, please do not find any excuses in my words. I have no excuses, any more. I am also not willing to apologize on behalf of my nation – at the moment, I can’t even conceive of allowing them this privilege. But please understand that if we give up, someone else, one day, will have to regain the confidence and courage required to look beyond history and the present, beyond the pain and suffering, beyond the endless injustices done. If we give up, we are leaving the task to our children, or to theirs. Personally, I feel this would be the greatest failure on my part, if I give up.


The Israelis may be mentally ill racists, but if indeed you and I are correct, and if indeed they have been suffering from various mental “complexes”, how do you explain the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan? Before 1979, Israelis shot, and killed, hundreds and thousands of Egyptians. In fact, for nearly 3 decades. Egypt was our worst enemy – Satan incarnate. And yet, since 1979, not a single Israeli bullet has been shot across the agreed upon border. The same goes for Jordan, after 1994. So I must respectfully disagree with you – you certainly CAN make peace with these mentally ill racists. And one day, I hope you will.

January 10th, 2009, 2:00 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Hi Joe M.

Good to see you here again.

You said: “Why do you want to disenfranchise those who have suffered most from this conflict, and on the basis of some ambiguous notion of “reparation”.”

Joe, I am the first to say that any settlement with respect to the refugees will have to be endorsed by them. I’m not pretending like they can or should be snowed into doing anything that they do not accept. My discussion of reparations is based on my own conversations with Palestinian refugees in in Lebanon.

Most of the Palestinian refugees I’ve met in Lebanon would take reparations (plus assistance with immigration) over continuing to hold out for the right of return. Does that amount to a great defeat and a tragedy? Yes. But it is a fact. They, especially the younger ones, want a different life from their parents and grandparents, and are willing to give up their birthright if it means they can give their own children a better life.

You are right: it is for the individual refugees to decide. But this, Joe M., is a sword that cuts both ways.

January 10th, 2009, 2:09 pm


Chris said:


It’s interesting you mention Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. I just received “Everyday Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam Among Palestinians in Lebanon” by Bernard Rougier in the mail yesterday. In it he writes:
Today, most of these refugees have only mythical ties to their country of origin: three or even four generations after the nakba of 1948, only one out of ten Palestinians was actually born in Mandate Palestine, while 40 percent of the inhabitants of Lebanon’s refugee canps are under fiftee years of age.

He puts the total number of Palestinians at roughly 370,000. So, 10 percent of that is 37,000. Seeing as only 37,000 Palestinians of Lebanon are actually from Palestine compensating them shouldn’t be too difficult, since the international community would likely pitch in. Now there’s cause for optimism.

The ten percent figure is most likely similar in all Palestinian communities.

January 10th, 2009, 2:19 pm


qunfuz said:

Israel is prepared to make ‘peace’ with client dictatorships, with countries that are happy to have their foreign policy (and, sometimes, domestic policy) dictated by Washington. I believe both of these countries should tear up their agreements with Israel. There had been more than peace between Israel and the Jordanian royal family long before peace was officially signed. In the case of Egypt – Egypt was a real threat to Israel in the medium and long term, just because of the size and weight of the country. This is how there will be further peace in the future, when the Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians present a real (and not neurotic or propaganda) threat to the settler state.

January 10th, 2009, 3:08 pm


Shai said:


I agree with you. There’s no doubt we make peace (also with dictators and criminals) not because we suddenly become peace-loving people, but because we sense an opportunity and fear the alternative. To create that “alternative”, the Arab world must also exhibit violent use of force against Israel. But that’s not happening. So perhaps when that finally does happen, will my people understand the alternative. I cannot blame Hamas for what it is doing – but I do blame Fatah for siding with Israel. Hamas is fighting for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. But instead of supporting this struggle, Fatah is sitting quiet on the sideline. Why aren’t the Palestinian people rising against this silence?

January 10th, 2009, 3:35 pm


Friend in America said:

Joe M: The interpretation in #143 of Chris’s statement is not fair to Chris. Chris is asking us to view the situation in today’s reality, putting aside for the moment the wrongs of the past. By acknowledging today’s reality a solution can be crafted. Restitution for past wrongs will have to be included in any final settlement.

I believe it is an error to ask the people in Gaza to admit they are a defeated people. Even if all of Gaza were occupied and Hamas was not longer viable, someone will stand up and speak for the people in Gaza. So there will be no begging by the vanquished, and there will be negotiations that respects each party and everyone’s legitimate concerns.

I have advocated for several years consideration of the one state solution. But, like Alex, I acknowledge the one state solution, as has been envisioned, will require concessions too deep to be possible at this time. Maybe a “one state” solution can be crafted in away that is different from the way envisioned in the past. Consider a solution that looks more like the European Union than a conventional nation state. While there would be a single passport and freedom of travel and employment, ethnic and religious identities and languages would be maintained. The new solution can be something better than the old style nation state.

After the fall of the Berlin wall political scientists around the world began to ask if the 19th century style nation state had lost its purpose. They recognized that commerce, communications and common interests would inevitably diminish centralized political control and national boundaries. That started to happen then and it continues to happen as we chat. So maybe we should not look to the past when crafting for the future, for that only repeats the past. We are looking at an opportunity here for something new.

January 10th, 2009, 3:40 pm


Akbar Palace said:

My Arabic isn’t perfect (yet) and I know that there is controversy surrounding MEMRI, so I was curious, are there any flaws in the translation of this video?


What is the controversy surrounding MEMRI? All they do is cut & paste and translate. A lot of Jews speak arabic you know.

I think the controversy is what the Hamas goon said, “We desire death like you desire life”.

Isn’t Israel giving them what they want?

I believe both of these countries should tear up their agreements with Israel.


Is Syria a dictatorship? Should Israel try to make peace with Syria?

January 10th, 2009, 3:47 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Israel’s rejection of the resolution was no surprise. The offensive against Hamas is hugely popular: a poll in the Maariv newspaper showed 91 per cent of Israelis supporting it.*

*strange – only 80% of Israelis are Jews.

January 10th, 2009, 4:12 pm


Chris said:

Akbar Palace,

I’ve read that some people dispute MEMRI’s translations, but I can’t attest to the veracity of that claim as my Arabic isn’t good enough yet. Yeah, I’ve got a friend who is an Iraqi Jew who works as an Arabic-English translator for the U.S. federal government, next time I see him I should ask him about this… You’re probably right though, people are probably more upset at what we are being shown. I mean, the fact that people are able to see it. I imagine that most Arabs know that this stuff doesn’t play well in Europe, the USA, Asia, well anywhere… A friend posted that video on her facebook page so before I passed it on I wanted to check if there were any flaws with the translation.

“We desire death like you desire life”
-Is anyone still on the fence about Hamas? It is telling that Al Jazeera (Arabic) refers to them as the resistance… If they desire death then why are they resisting? Sorry, I shouldn’t joke about groups like Hamas, people are dying and its not funny.

Here’s a short compilation of Hamas’ statements:

January 10th, 2009, 4:14 pm


alia said:


You are right I am angry and you are right that what is needed is an all out offense on Israel by the HA, Jordan, Syria with support frm Iran and Turkey and an oil embargo frm the Arab countries in order to ” liberate” the concentration camp of Gaza where horrors are being enacted and we hear today : more is to come. Even if they fail and are defeated it is still worth trying, that is what the Arab street wants.
There are Jurists in Egypt who have declared that the present situation in Gaza would justify a legal revokation of the Egyptian-Israeli truce.

But this will bring us again to the unpopular issue that makes me keep my mouth shut- even on this forum-: that of the illegitimacy of all those governments including that of Fatah and the wheelings and dealings that are going on…I listened to Mashaal declare the decision of HA not to interfere with total incomprehension and I am like : excuse me?

There have been parallels to this situation in Islamic history. The writings of the enlightened Kurdish Scholar Said Nursi in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire were very prophetic in this situation. Unless we come together, unified, the people of the Islamicate (irrespective of nationhood and religion) will be trampled to death.

January 10th, 2009, 4:15 pm


Alia said:


Yes, there are underlying psychological mechanisms, but those can be overpowered or highlighted at will and become excuses or forces of good.

Look at the way the Germans and the Japanese have been chastised into submission; it is comical sometimes to sit with Germans in humanitarian missions, their desire to overcompensate for the past is so pronounced. Of course, with the new generation of the CDU, Merkel and colleagues are no longer buying into the guilt complex everywhere. Thus the deep silence of Germany in this case.

January 10th, 2009, 4:20 pm


Shai said:


If Bibi is such a prophet, and indeed enjoys the kind of omniscience only he, AIG, and yourself are privy to, how do you explain his utter failures as Prime Minister and Likud Party Leader? As you may recall, he never completed a full term in office, and his party sank to the political abyss, with a mere 12 seats in the previous elections. Perhaps this “prophet” (his supporters in Israel actually call him “the magician”) is only successful in predicting things having to do with Arabs? Maybe he understands the Arabs better than he does his own people?

“Netanyahu was Right”… what a joke.

Here, I’ll try my luck at omniscience. Let’s see if I can match Bibi’s abilities… My Prophecy: If this Gaza Operation continues much longer, some if not all of the following will happen:

a) A 3rd Intifada will rise out of the ashes of Gaza.
b) Antisemitism will reach record levels worldwide.
c) Hamas will win the next elections as well.
d) The Palestinians will find new ways of smuggling weapons. The weapon capabilities they’ll achieve will be far more dangerous than the current $10 rocket ones.
e) Resistance will not end.
f) The Arab World will renounce its 3-time support of the Saudi/Arab Plans.
g) Another round against Hezbollah will likely take place.
h) Syria will not renew peace talks with Israel.
i) The Muslim world will continue to unite.
j) Many more Israelis will die.

January 10th, 2009, 4:21 pm


Chris said:


You said:
The Muslim world will continue to unite.

In the words of Moammar Qadafi:
“”Our blood and our language may be one, but there is nothing that can unite us… We hate each other, we wish ill of each other and our intelligence services conspire against each other. We are our own enemy.”

While he was speaking of Arabs, since all of the Arab states are Muslim I think his comments apply to Muslim unity as well.

January 10th, 2009, 4:38 pm


SimoHurtta said:

No. That’s not a fact. Of course not. Israel will be joining the OECD soon. It is a country with a high GDP. The per capita GDP is $28,800. Remember, GDP does not include what the U.S. or any country gives to it as GDP includes only what Israel produces within a single year. So, even if the U.S. withdrew support it would still be a technologically advanced society with a highly productive economy.

Come-on Chris without customers for own products and inflow of raw materials, components and spare parts the tale of Israel’s strength is finished. Nobody claims that Israel’s GDP an living standdard is based on US (or EU) donations. US donations equal only the costs for the occupation and wars. Without US donations Israel’s living standard would be much lower or its policy would be completely different.

The demands of boycotting Israel are fast growing and eventually governments are forced to obey the demands of the street. Like with South Africa. If EU decides to boycott Israel, which is undoubtedly far away, erases almost of halve of Israel’s export and import. Surely you can’t believe that Israel can keep up present living style by selling “security” gadgets to dictators. Or with the trade with neighbours.

The fact is that Israel flourishes because of Europe and USA and only so long Europe and USA “allow” it to continue. Made in Israel is now not a recommendation, it is a burden as Naomi Klein describes it in the end of her article. Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction

January 10th, 2009, 4:38 pm


Observer said:
Naomi Klein is making a good point now and this is in the same vein as the article by Bricmont and Johnstone quoted above
Boycott Divest and Sanction the Apartheid regime in Palestine

The UN reported that the Israeli forces herded 110 persons including women and children into a house and ordered artillery fire on them killing at least 30. This is similar to Ouradour sur Seine the famous Nazi massacre. This is why on BBC arabic and not in the English version by the way.

The Zionists ” ont ete a bonne ecole” learning from their experience of check points, blockades, and Ghettos. Now they are applying the lessons on the children of Gaza.

January 10th, 2009, 4:42 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Akbar Palace,

I’ve read that some people dispute MEMRI’s translations, but I can’t attest to the veracity of that claim as my Arabic isn’t good enough yet.


Sure, some people dispute a word or two, but no once disputes the message being sent.

I always get a kick throwing the “MEMRI mirror” back into the face of the face of the terror supporter. They act so surprised…

Yeah, I’ve got a friend who is an Iraqi Jew who works as an Arabic-English translator for the U.S. federal government, next time I see him I should ask him about this… You’re probably right though, people are probably more upset at what we are being shown.

Let us know what you find out. Actually, I used to be good friends with the group that started MEMRI. They succeeded extremely well because they found a niche that no one thought of: “What are the Arabs saying to their own people?.” Much of it is anti-semitic pro-jihad stuff and once in a while, you can find liberal voice criticizing the jihadis.

I mean, the fact that people are able to see it. I imagine that most Arabs know that this stuff doesn’t play well in Europe, the USA, Asia, well anywhere…

My take is that the Arab governments who control the airwaves actually want the Europeans, Americans, Asians, etc to see these clips. I think the strategy is to grow as much fear of violence into the world that an anti-Israel backlash will occur. Hence the term “terrorism”.


What is your interest in the Arab-Israeli conflict? Did you say you’ve traveled to the ME?

January 10th, 2009, 4:49 pm


Akbar Palace said:

a) A 3rd Intifada will rise out of the ashes of Gaza.

When? Where? How do you define “intifada? Depending on your answer I may place a bet on this.

b) Antisemitism will reach record levels worldwide.

What is the “record level”? I may wager on this as well. If Israel knocks Hamas to the sidelines, I’m thinking Israel will gain respect and antisemitism will decrease.

c) Hamas will win the next elections as well.

How much would you like to wager? I’m thinking Hamas is going to be gone, like Iraqi Baathism.

d) The Palestinians will find new ways of smuggling weapons. The weapon capabilities they’ll achieve will be far more dangerous than the current $10 rocket ones.

How much are Grads? Perhaps you can get them below cost.

e) Resistance will not end.

What about voltage and current?

f) The Arab World will renounce its 3-time support of the Saudi/Arab Plans.

If Abbas retains power in Gaza, peace will be closer than it ever was.

g) Another round against Hezbollah will likely take place.

Define “round”? Another possible wager may be in the works here.

h) Syria will not renew peace talks with Israel.

I hope not. I like the Golan.

i) The Muslim world will continue to unite.

Does that mean I won’t need a passport?

j) Many more Israelis will die.

Have you seen Israeli drivers? This is guaranteed.

January 10th, 2009, 4:57 pm


Chris said:


I think my interest in the Arab-Israeli conflict comes from my interest in the region generally. The ancient history is also interesting, of course. The rise of the Muslim empire and then its gradual descent in power relative to Europe is an important piece of history in terms of understanding what leads empires to rise and fall. I also find the story of Israel interesting; a large part of that comes from seeing the power of ideas, that is Zionism and nationalisms. The Arab-Israeli conflict is sort of a clash of nationalisms. Of course, from the Arab side you’ve also got the anti-colonial and islamic narratives woven into the conflict as many see it as an extension of colonialism and a fight against modern day crusaders (outside illegitimate Europeans, eventhough about half, if not more, of Israelis are Arabs and Middle Eastern Jews).

I lived in Syria for 10 months and I’m going back this summer.

January 10th, 2009, 5:04 pm


alia said:


When did the Americans start quoting Qadafi as a reference? The rulers may hate each other but the people do not …

January 10th, 2009, 5:13 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Yes, I think a lot of has to do with the difficulty of bringing Islam and a lot of Muslim societies face-to-face with the modern world.

If you run into Professor Josh, you may ask him if you can review his doctoral thesis and check it for errors;)

Have you ever been to Israel? I lived there for 2+ years. I’ve never been to Syria, but I have overlooked Syria from the Israel border. I felt like Moses on Mount Nebo…

January 10th, 2009, 5:19 pm


Chris said:


That’s good news… So the U.S. doesn’t have to worry about the Sadrists, Al Qaida, and the Sunnis killing eachother in Iraq anymore? I mean were all those suicide bombings in Iraq and expression of love?

I would want nothing more for there to be more Islamic unity and less killing.

January 10th, 2009, 5:21 pm


Chris said:


As far as the Islamic element is concerned, I think you are correct although I would word it differently. I see that element as being, to a small degree like what we see in Russia or France today, a desire to return to a former period of glory. A desire to return to the glory days of the Islamic/Arab empire (hence the constant calls for unity). There was a time of greatness and it doesn’t exist today. We deserve that greatness, that respect. We’ve been disrespected far too long. Add some history of colonialism to that and a sense of powerlessness and well here’s what we have. Of course there’s a lot more to the story than that, illiteracy, a culture of honor, etc.

You may hear some people talk about the tolerance that once existed in Islamic states, how Dhimmis had a higher status than pre-emancipation jews did in Europe. Well, that was when Muslim states had unrivaled power, tolerance in such an environment is a bit easier. The exact opposite exists today.

January 10th, 2009, 5:34 pm


Alia said:


It is one thing to quote Qadafi about general Muslim unity and it is another to talk about the deplorable Sunni/Shia divide. Not that it is a reference, but religious wars went on also for decades in Europe among Christians of different denominations.

January 10th, 2009, 5:35 pm


Alia said:

AP and Chris,

Neither one of you to my knowledge has the credentials or the knowledge to discuss the dynamics of Islam as a religion. Spare us the platitudes a la Tom Friedmann. Particularly now, they are nauseating..

January 10th, 2009, 5:38 pm


why-discuss said:

January 08, 2009
Former Amb. Martin Indyk vs. Author Norman Finkelstein:
A Debate on Israel’s Assault on Gaza and the US Role in the Conflict


Martin Indyk, Ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton administration. He is currently the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He has a new book out titled Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East.

Norman Finkelstein, author of several books, including The Holocaust Industry, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict and Beyond Chutzpah.
Rush Transcript
This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
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JUAN GONZALEZ: Tens of thousands of Palestinians have fled their homes in the southern town of Rafah as Israel intensifies the assault on the Gaza Strip. Palestinians reported Israeli air strikes hit homes, mosques and tunnels in the area. Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse quoted witnesses as saying that dozens of Israeli tanks had entered southern Gaza and were heading towards Rafah. Fierce fighting was also reported between Palestinian fighters and Israeli soldiers around Khan Yunis. Earlier today, the UN said Israeli forces fired on one of its relief convoys trying to pick up supplies. Al Jazeera reports at least one Palestinian was killed and two others injured in the attack. Meanwhile, Israel continued its bombardment of Gaza with sixty air strikes overnight. Residents described it as among the heaviest bombardments since the offensive began.

Al Jazeera reports at least 700 Palestinians, including 219 children, have died in Gaza since Israel began its assault on December 27th. More than 3,000 people have been wounded. Ten Israelis have died over the same thirteen-day period, including seven soldiers, four of them by so-called friendly fire.

On the diplomatic front, efforts to secure a truce in Gaza continue, with a senior Israeli official due to travel to Cairo to hear details of a ceasefire plan drawn up by Egypt and France. Israel said on Wednesday it accepted the “principles” of the proposal but wanted to study the plan. A Hamas delegation is expected in Cairo at some stage for parallel talks. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is due to arrive on Friday.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council seems deadlocked over the crisis. Arab countries want the Council to vote on a resolution calling for a ceasefire while Britain, France and the US are pushing for a weaker statement welcoming the Egypt-France proposal.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to a discussion on the crisis in Gaza, the US role in the conflict and what the prospects are for the incoming Obama administration.

Martin Indyk is the former US ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton administration. He’s currently the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He has a new book out; it’s called Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East. He’s an adviser to Hillary Clinton, who was tapped to be Obama’s Secretary of State, and is among those mentioned as a potential special envoy to the Middle East. Martin Indyk joins us from Washington, D.C.

We’re also joined by Norman Finkelstein here in New York, leading critic of Israeli foreign policy, the author of several books, including The Holocaust Industry, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict and Beyond Chutzpah.

We turn first to Ambassador Indyk. Can you explain why you think Israel began this assault almost two weeks ago now?

MARTIN INDYK: Good morning, Amy. Thanks very much for having me on the show. I feel a little bit sandbagged here. I was not told that I was going to be in some kind of debate with Norman Finkelstein. I’m not interested in doing that. I’m also not here as a spokesman for Israel. But I will try to answer your questions as best I can.

I think that what happened here was that there was a ceasefire, an informal ceasefire, between Hamas and Israel that had lasted for about five months. Hamas decided to break that ceasefire with a prolonged series of rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in southern Israel. And the Israeli government responded with overwhelming force, designed, as they have said, to try to reestablish deterrence, to prevent Hamas from doing that again, and to try to get a ceasefire in place that would prevent Hamas from smuggling in offensive weapons into Gaza, the better to attack Israel.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, your assessment of why Israel attacked now?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, the record is fairly clear. You can find it on the Israeli website, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Mr. Indyk is correct that Hamas had adhered to the ceasefire from June 17th until November 4th. On November 4th, here Mr. Indyk, I think, goes awry. The record is clear: Israel broke the ceasefire by going into the Gaza and killing six or seven Palestinian militants. At that point—and now I’m quoting the official Israeli website—Hamas retaliated or, in retaliation for the Israeli attack, then launched the missiles.

Now, as to the reason why, the record is fairly clear as well. According to Ha’aretz, Defense Minister Barak began plans for this invasion before the ceasefire even began. In fact, according to yesterday’s Ha’aretz, the plans for the invasion began in March. And the main reasons for the invasion, I think, are twofold. Number one, as Mr. Indyk I think correctly points out, to enhance what Israel calls its deterrence capacity, which in layman’s language basically means Israel’s capacity to terrorize the region into submission. After their defeat in July 2006 in Lebanon, they felt it important to transmit the message that Israel is still a fighting force, still capable of terrorizing those who dare defy its word.

And the second main reason for the attack is because Hamas was signaling that it wanted a diplomatic settlement of the conflict along the June 1967 border. That is to say, Hamas was signaling they had joined the international consensus, they had joined most of the international community, overwhelmingly the international community, in seeking a diplomatic settlement. And at that point, Israel was faced with what Israelis call a Palestinian peace offensive. And in order to defeat the peace offensive, they sought to dismantle Hamas.

JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to—Ambassador Indyk, this issue of supporters of Israel say repeatedly that Hamas is still committed to the destruction of Israel. Is your sense that over the last year or so there has been some kind of a change in the viewpoints of the Hamas leaders?

MARTIN INDYK: No, I don’t think there’s any evidence of that. Hamas is very clear that it will not make peace with Israel; it will not recognize Israel; its intention is to destroy the Jewish state, that it’s an abomination in the midst of the Arab heartland, Islamic world, and so on. And I don’t see that there’s any change in that whatsoever.

I think the change that’s taken place is a change on the ground. Hamas, having won the PA elections and then—we don’t need to go into the details of that, but essentially what happened was, as a result of a competition between Hamas and Fatah over who would rule, Hamas took control of Gaza by force in what was, in effect, a putsch against the Palestinian Authority. It therefore moved from being a terrorist organization to a terrorist government, responsible for controlling territory in Gaza and responsible for meeting the needs of one-and-a-half million Palestinians in Gaza.

There was a fundamental change in Hamas’s organization. By the way, it was a change which was hotly contested within Hamas. The external leadership of Hamas, which is based in Damascus, led by Khaled Meshal, was at the time deeply opposed to the idea of taking control of Gaza, precisely because he did not want to be responsible for meeting the needs of the Gazans. But the militants of Hamas in Gaza decided to take on Fatah and kick them out.

And as a consequence, Hamas was then placed in a dilemma. It may, over time—as they face the consequences of having to rule in Gaza, it may, over time, moderate their position. Certainly, now they have to consider, in the context of the diplomatic efforts underway that you detailed for a ceasefire, what is more important to them: continuing their ability to attack Israel from Gaza—and in that case, they will not accept the kind of arrangements that Israel is now insisting on that would prevent them smuggling in offensive weapons—or whether they want to focus on meeting the needs of the Palestinian people. For that purpose, they will need the opening of the passages so that goods and people can flow in and out of Gaza. In other words, they’re going to face a choice between whether they want to have the ability to use this ceasefire—eventually, when it will be established—to continue their what they call resistance, what normally we understand as violence and terrorism against civilians, whether they’re going to continue that or whether they’re going to focus on meeting the needs of the people that they’re responsible for in Gaza. And that dilemma, as I say, over time, may lead to a moderation, but I don’t see it yet.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, I think the problem of Mr. Indyk’s presentation is he constantly reverses cause and effect. Just as he said a moment ago that it was Hamas which broke the ceasefire, although he well knows it was Israel that broke the ceasefire on November 4th, he now reverses cause and effect as to how the present impasse came about. In January 2006, as he writes in his book, Hamas came to power in a free and fair election. I think those are his words. He then claims on your program and he claims in his book that Hamas committed a “putsch”—his word—in order to eliminate the Palestinian Authority. And as I’m sure Mr. Indyk well knows and as was documented in the April 2008 issue of Vanity Fair by the writer David Rose, basing himself on internal US documents, it was the United States in cahoots with the Palestinian Authority and Israel which were attempting a putsch on Hamas, and Hamas preempted the putsch. That, too, is no longer debatable or no longer a controversial claim.

Now, Mr. Indyk says that Hamas is reluctant or unclear about whether it wants to rule in Gaza. The issue is not whether it wants to rule in Gaza; the issue is can it rule in Gaza if Israel maintains a blockade and prevents economic activity among the Palestinians. The blockade, incidentally, was implemented before Hamas came to power. The blockade doesn’t even have anything to do with Hamas. The blockade came to—there were Americans who were sent over, in particular James Wolfensohn, to try to break the blockade after Israel redeployed its troops in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: The former World Bank president.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Correct. The problem all along has been that Israel doesn’t want Gaza to develop, and Israel doesn’t want to resolve diplomatically the conflict. Mr. Indyk well knows that both the leadership in Damascus and the leadership in the Gaza have repeatedly made statements they’re willing to settle the conflict in the June 1967 border. The record is fairly clear. In fact, it’s unambiguously clear.

Every year, the United Nations General Assembly votes on a resolution entitled “Peaceful Settlement of the Palestine Question.” And every year the vote is the same: it’s the whole world on one side; Israel, the United States and some South Sea atolls and Australia on the other side. The vote this past year was 164-to-7. Every year since 1989—in 1989, the vote was 151-to-3, the whole world on one side, the United States, Israel and the island state of Dominica on the other side.

We have the Arab League, all twenty-two members of the Arab League, favoring a two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. We have the Palestinian Authority favoring that two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. We now have Hamas favoring that two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. The one and only obstacle is Israel, backed by the United States. That’s the problem.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Ambassador Indyk, why doesn’t Israel accept this ceasefire?

MARTIN INDYK: Look, Amy, I was invited on to talk about my book and the Gaza situation. I was not invited on to debate with Norman Finkelstein, and I’m not prepared to do that. So if you want to talk about the situation, I’m happy to do that, but I’m not here to be the representative of the government of Israel. You can easily invite somebody on to—

AMY GOODMAN: No, of course not. No, we’re asking your opinion. I don’t see you as the representative of Israel. But let me get your—

MARTIN INDYK: Well, why don’t we focus on some other issues, like the American role in this or something that—

AMY GOODMAN: Very good point.

MARTIN INDYK: —can get us out of this ridiculous debate, in which he’s just a propaganda spokesman for Hamas, you know.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me get your response to the current US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, what she said the other day at the UN about reaching a ceasefire agreement. Let me play a clip.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Hundreds of thousands of Israelis lived under the daily threat of rocket attack, and frankly, no country, none of our countries, would have been willing to tolerate such a circumstance. Moreover, the people of Gaza watched as insecurity and lawlessness increased and as their living conditions grew more dire because of Hamas’s actions, which began with the illegal coup against the Palestinian Authority in Gaza.

A ceasefire that returns to those circumstances is unacceptable, and it will not last. We need urgently to conclude a ceasefire that can endure and that can bring real security.

AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Indyk, what is your response to the Secretary of State? You’re the adviser to the incoming Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Do you think the Bush administration should now be—the Obama administration coming in—should be pushing for a ceasefire right now?

MARTIN INDYK: Sorry to make one more correction before I answer: I was an adviser to Hillary Clinton during the campaign, her campaign for the presidency, but I am not advising her at the moment, so nothing I now say should be taken as representing her views.

I think that it is essential to get a ceasefire in place as quickly as possible. I think that there is a serious effort underway, as you have already detailed, to do that. I hope that it can be put in place before President-elect Obama goes into the Oval Office in, what is it, twelve days’ time and Secretary of State-designate Clinton takes up her responsibilities. If that’s not the case, then they’re going to need to work very effectively to put that in place as quickly as possible and—but then they will need to use that as a springboard to undertake an effort, not just to try to move towards a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but, in my view, it’s important to put that in the context of a new Obama-Clinton-led initiative for a comprehensive peace that would also involve negotiations between Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon.

President-elect Obama has said during the campaign that it would be a priority of his from day one, which I think is very important. But that desire of his to pay attention to this problem from day one has now become a necessity because of this crisis in Gaza, a necessity essentially for two reasons. Number one is to end this conflict. Let’s say three reasons. Number one—well, let’s say three reasons. Number one is to end this conflict after so many years and so many dead on both sides. But number two, those in the Arab world who want to resolve the conflict with Israel have necessarily been seriously weakened by this conflict, this crisis in Gaza. There’s a great deal of anger in the Arab street and in the Muslim world. Those who oppose settling this conflict peacefully, starting with Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian leadership, they, this bloc of rejectionists, have now got the wind at their backs. And it’s very important to show that moderation, compromise, reconciliation and peace can prevail over the view that they are propagating, which is that violence, terrorism and defiance can achieve a better deal for the Palestinians and the Arabs.

AMY GOODMAN: We have to break for sixty seconds. Then we’re going to come back. We’re talking to Ambassador Martin Indyk, former US ambassador to Israel. He’s currently at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. His new book is called Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East. Norman Finkelstein, also with his, his latest piece is called “Foiling Another Palestinian ‘Peace Offensive’: Behind the Latest Bloodbath in Gaza.” This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: Our guests are Ambassador Martin Indyk, his new book, Innocent Abroad—Martin Indyk is currently head of the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution—and Norman Finkelstein. Norman Finkelstein is author of several books, including The Holocaust Industry and Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonzalez. Juan?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Ambassador Indyk, I’d like to ask you about the timing of this Israeli offensive. Clearly, it’s in the waning days of the Bush administration and before President-elect Obama is inaugurated as president. Your sense of whether the timing had something to do with the reality that the US response, in many ways, would be muted or at least in transition as the administration is in transition?

MARTIN INDYK: Well, I think it’s important to understand that the ceasefire basically had come to an end. It was a six-month ceasefire. And so, I don’t think that the Israelis purposely decided that this was the moment to strike. If Hamas had not launched rockets, I think they would have been perfectly happy to continue with the ceasefire.

But once that rocket barrage came down, I do think that Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense Minister, who’s really the strategist of this whole operation and is a man who I worked with very closely—when I was ambassador in Israel, he was Israeli prime minister at the time, and we were trying at the end of the Clinton administration to get a full, comprehensive peace in Clinton’s last year and Barak’s first year in office as prime minister. But what I learned in those days of working with him was that he’s a man who looks at operations with the very strict timetable. He actually dismantles clocks for a hobby. In other words, he’s kind of obsessed with timing. And we saw this very clearly—and it’s something I outline in my book—in the way that he tried to conduct the peace operations in the year 2000. And he miscalculated the timing then.

Now, he faces two dates. The first one is the one that you referred to, January 20th, when a new president comes into office here in Washington and a president, George W. Bush, who’s been very supportive of Israel and essentially, for most of the time in office, given Israel a blank check when it comes to dealing with Hamas, which he sees as a terrorist organization, and this is part of the war on terror. So, yes, I think that Barak probably calculated that he needed to get this operation over on Bush’s watch and have it finished before Barack Obama came into office.

There is another date that I think probably was even more important in his own mind, and that is the date of February 10th, in which he, along with Israel’s other politicians, will have to face the Israeli electorate in a general election, unless those elections are postponed, and that doesn’t look likely. And for that reason, as well, he needs the operation over. If, instead, the Israeli army goes in and takes control of Gaza City and Jabalya refugee camp and Rafah City in the south of Gaza, and suddenly, you know, the Israeli electorate on February 10th see that Israel is now back in occupation of Gaza, which they left because they didn’t want to stay in occupation there—they left unilaterally several years ago—and the Israeli soldiers are dying, and the whole world is condemning Israel, and there’s a crisis in US-Israel relations with the new president, they will not reward Ehud Barak at all.

So that’s why I think you see already, today, much greater interest on his part and the part of the government of Israel in working out a ceasefire. I believe that they will try, to the extent that they can do anything about it, to get that in place before Obama comes into office—

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, let me—

MARTIN INDYK: —so that he can show an Israeli electorate that this was a successful operation from Israel’s point of view.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, do you agree with Ambassador Indyk that Israel would have continued the ceasefire if Hamas hadn’t started firing rockets into Israel?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, the record shows that Hamas wanted to continue the ceasefire, but only on condition that Israel eases the blockade. As your viewers surely know, long before Hamas began the retaliatory rocket attacks on Israel, Palestinians were facing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza because of the blockade. The former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, described what was going on in Gaza as a destruction of a civilization. This was during the ceasefire period.

Now, I think it’s important to keep in mind Mr. Indyk wants to talk about the book. Well, I think we should talk about the book. In fact, I stayed up ’til 1:30 a.m. to complete the book, made sure I read up to page 415, read every word of the book. The problem is, with his book, as with his presentation here, is he systematically misrepresents the record of the peace process. He’s lying not only to his readers, but to the American people. He keeps putting the burden of responsibility for the impasse in the peace process on the Palestinians.

A moment ago, he referred to the “rejectionists” who are trying to block a settlement of the conflict. What does the record show? The record shows, I said a moment ago, for the past twenty or more years, the entire international community has sought to settle the conflict in the June 1967 border with a just resolution of the refugee question. Are all 164 nations of the United Nations the rejectionists? And are the only people in favor of peace the United States, Israel, Nauru, Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Australia? Who are the rejectionists? Who’s opposing a peace?

According to Mr. Indyk’s account of the negotiations that culminated in the Camp David and Taba meetings, he says it was the Palestinians that were blocking a settlement. What does the record show? The record shows that in every crucial issue raised at Camp David, then under the Clinton parameters, and then in Taba, at every single point, all the concessions came from the Palestinians. Israel didn’t make any concessions. Every concession came from the Palestinians. The Palestinians have repeatedly expressed a willingness to settle the conflict in accordance with international law.

The law is very clear. July 2004, the highest judicial body in the world, the International Court of Justice, ruled Israel has no title to any of the West Bank and any of Gaza. They have no title to Jerusalem. Arab East Jerusalem, according to the highest judicial body in the world, is occupied Palestinian territory. The International Court of Justice ruled all the settlements, all the settlements in the West Bank, are illegal under international law.

Now, the important point is, on all those questions, the Palestinians were willing to make concessions. They were willing to allow Israel to keep 60 percent of the settlements, 80 percent of the settlers. They were willing to compromise on Jerusalem. They were willing to give up basically on the right of return. They made all the concessions. Israel didn’t make any concessions. How is this rendered in Martin Indyk’s book? It’s rendered as, quote, “Barak’s bold and courageous initiatives for peace” and “Arafat and the PLO rejecting the bold and courageous initiatives of Barak.” Constantly, he turns reality on its head.

AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Indyk, your response to that?

MARTIN INDYK: I told you, Amy, I’m not here to debate Norman Finkelstein. That was not the ground rules that you set—

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I’m talking about your book.

MARTIN INDYK: —that you set for inviting me on this program. And I’m not going to respond to his ad hominem attacks.

AMY GOODMAN: But he’s talking about—

MARTIN INDYK: No. Let me just say—let me just say—

AMY GOODMAN: But we want to give you a chance to represent your own book.

MARTIN INDYK: Look, yeah. You know, that’s what I thought you were doing. Seriously, I hope your viewers and listeners will read the book and make up their own minds. I tried to give an honest accounting. It’s a self-critical book. And it’s a book in which my account of what happened is critical of—deeply critical of the mistakes that we in the American peace team made. And—but I do think that there is enough blame to go around. The book is also deeply critical of Ehud Barak. And it tries to lay out, in as honest a way as possible, from somebody, yes, who had a catbird seat—I was involved in all of those negotiations, intimately involved. And I’ve tried to account that—

AMY GOODMAN: What were those mistakes, Ambassador Indyk?

MARTIN INDYK: I’ve tried to account that honestly. And what Norman Finkelstein has done is simply distort my argument and load it up with his usual paraphernalia of legal resolutions and so on.


MARTIN INDYK: But if people want to understand just how difficult it is to make peace, then I hope that they will read for themselves, rather than accept his propaganda.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me ask what you think should happen right now. How does Barack Obama not repeat the mistakes of the past, as you outline them in Innocent Abroad?

MARTIN INDYK: Thank you. I think that one fundamental lesson from both the Clinton approach, which was to try to transform the Middle East through peacemaking, and the Bush approach, which was essentially to try to transform the Middle East through war-making, regime change and democracy promotion, is that Barack Obama, while painting a vision of a peaceful and secure and normal region, needs to be very realistic and to level with the American people about what can be achieved.

Both Clinton and Bush, different in so many respects, sought to transform the region, sought to make it over in America’s image. I think Barack Obama needs to have a more humble approach, a less arrogant approach, one that seeks to work with the region’s leaders and peoples to try to help them move towards a more peaceful world. The American role is indispensable. But we need to be wiser. We need to be more flexible. We need to understand that there are huge differences between us and them. And we need to pay a lot more attention to their culture, their values and their politics, rather than assume that they are like us. And I know that’s a very general proposition, but from that can come the getting of wisdom when it comes to the details of peacemaking.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein—

MARTIN INDYK: They cannot achieve peace without us, but our role needs to be much wiser.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think needs to happen right now, Norman Finkelstein?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I think it’s fairly clear what needs to happen. Number one, the United States and Israel have to join the rest of the international community, have to abide by international law. Martin Indyk dismisses it as what he calls a moment ago these legalistic resolutions. I don’t think international law should be trivialized. I think it’s a serious issue. If Israel is in defiance of international law, it should be called into account, just like any other state in the world.

And I agree on one point with Martin Indyk. Mr. Obama has to level with the American people. He has to be honest about what is the main obstacle to resolving the conflict. It’s not Palestinian rejectionism. It’s the refusal of Israel, backed by the United States government, to abide by international law, to abide by the opinion of the international community.

And the main challenge for all of us as Americans is to see through the lies. And regrettably, those lies are again being propagated by Martin Indyk in his book with his pretense that it’s the Palestinians, and not Israel and the United States, which are the main obstacles to peace.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to have to leave it there. I thank you both for being with us, Norman Finkelstein, author of a number of books, including Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Beyond Chutzpah and The Holocaust Industry, and Martin Indyk. His new book is just out in this past week. It’s called Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East. Thanks for joining us from Washington, D.C.

January 10th, 2009, 5:41 pm


Chris said:


Yes, Alia religious wars did go on in Europe, there were a number of significant religious wars in Europe. During that time I would venture to say that the participants hated eachother. I don’t understand. Are you acknowledging a Shiaa-Sunni divide in which people massacre eachother and assert that “the rulers may hate each other but the people do not?” Again something tells me that suicide bombings aren’t an expression of love.

I am a graduate student at a prestigious American University doing Middle East studies.

Akbar Palace:

You had asked if I have ever been to Israel. Yes, I was there for a wedding this past September. I had a wonderful time. The city of Tel Aviv did a free architectural tour on Saturday morning; love all the bauhaus.

January 10th, 2009, 5:46 pm


AIG said:

60 years and we hear nothing new. It is just amazing how for 60 years we keep hearing the same things. Israel is getting weaker. It zenithed in 48, 67, 82, 2005. It was demographically finished in 67, 82 etc. Its economy is brittle, its people do not wnat to fight anymore. The same blah blah. Just look at the long term trend. Israel has gotten stronger and the Arabs have grown much weaker. And the trend is going to continue for many reasons, the leading being that the Arab countries are at war with their citizens (that is also called lack of democracy). How can the Arabs ever stand to Israel while every Syrian and Egyptian has to battle his own country to get even the most limited of rights? How can they battle Israel while their economies deteriorate and their youth remain without hope?

So unless something fundamental changes in the Arab world, Israel is just going to be fine. But nothing is going to change. You are stuck in a dillema that has no solution. You either support democratic reforms and get a civil war and/or the Islamists in power, or you remain with the current dictators and stay very weak and getting weaker by the year. You are like a deer stuck in the headlights.

Until you fix your own house, you will remain weak and divided. Now, what are YOU going to do about it? Let me bet, you will do nothing. Alex will support Asad and the Sandmonkey will support Mubarak and AIG and the rest of his compatriots will be laughing for decades to come.

January 10th, 2009, 5:50 pm


Alia said:


Blanket statements do not cover the issues adequately- you as a graduate student of a foreign civilisation should understand that.

On the other hand, being quite familiar with the middle eastern studies of prestigious Universities, I do not consider you necessarily an expert on Islam and Modernity. I would venture to say from intimate knowledge of the subject that there are very few such experts in the U.S. academic world at the present time.

January 10th, 2009, 5:54 pm


Chris said:


You wrote:
Blanket statements do not cover the issues adequately- you as a graduate student of a foreign civilisation should understand that.

You’re completely right. I should know that, and I do know that, which is why I wrote at the end of that paragraph “Of course there’s a lot more to the story than that”

You wrote:
I would venture to say from intimate knowledge of the subject that there are very few such experts in the U.S. academic world at the present time.

Great! Because none of my professors are Americans (two are from the Middle East). Although one grew up in the states and all got their Phds in the states.

January 10th, 2009, 6:01 pm


Akbar Palace said:


“The city of Tel Aviv did a free architectural tour on [a] Saturday morning”? That’s interesting.

Actually, while flying home from Europe on Luftansa, I read an article in the Luftansa magazine that some Israeli (private citizen) opened a private business which does balhaus tours. You may have taken the very same tour described in the magazine I read. I think the man who organizes the tour was born in Europe.

Good luck with your studies. I know a lot of ME experts graduated from SAIS in Washington D.C. I was told by a PHD graduate of that program that considering the “insignificant” nature of Israel in the Middle East, hebrew and Israel tends to get “underplayed”. This trend shows up even in the State Department.

January 10th, 2009, 6:11 pm


Alia said:

Chris states:

[Great! Because none of my professors are Americans (two are from the Middle East). Although one grew up in the states and all got their Phds in the states.]

The national origin of your professors is irrelevant. There are a couple of native-born Americans who I consider top-notch in some branches of Islamic studies.
The schools of thought on the subject are what matters, Islam and Modernity was at a time strongly represented by the Chicago School.
Not anymore-IMO- France has a much better school at the moment, and we see the reflection of that in some midlle-eastern graduates who return to their countries after studying at the Sorbonne.

January 10th, 2009, 6:19 pm


Shual said:

“Israel will gain respect and antisemitism will decrease.”

… like the Bush-Administration restored the the bad image of America.

Its not about “record levels”. Numbers of potitical motivated attacks are not able to reach former peaks in any European Country. The violent political front knows very well, that Israel voluntarily took the position of the butcher in the NearEast-slaugtherhouse. Antisemites applaud. Nobody needs a proove any longer. They have time enough, cause Israel decided to give them another 10 years to hide behind “peace”.

“Give the jews weapons. They will show their true nature.” Thats our new law. Simohurrta said the rigth things, this time. The Corrupt Israel, the TV-clown-Israel and the Iron Lady pushed their country on a trip that destroys years and years of hard work against antisemitism. Sick and full of racist motives. Any arguments against it? Laughable “Hamas-Nazis”-Propaganda?

“Israel will gain respect…”
I never ever thougth, that my spit can can think. [I thougth it is an intelcluals spit, that knows that not Israel, but the Corrupt, the TV-clown-Israel and the Iron Lady….] But ok, I belive you. I will send my respect to the bureau of Mr. Olmert.

January 10th, 2009, 6:33 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Hamas wanted martyrs and Israel obliged them. Who are you to deny Hamas what they wanted? You could at least help them get more missiles…

Anyway, if you try hard enough, perhaps you’ll make an impact in terms of popular opinion.

January 10th, 2009, 7:14 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Here’s more “ammunition” that will turn the average European into an anti-semitic monster…

Jimmy Carter: heeeeeelp!

January 10th, 2009, 7:27 pm


Joe M. said:

Friend in America,
What is particularly noxious about Chris is that he tries to use the language of moderation to disguise his great extremism. His view is epically zionist, and he seeks a justification of massive violence by appealing to pragmatism. But this is essentially the reason the conflict continues, because an appeal to pragmatism is not enough to create even the most basic semblance of justice is not enough to make peace. Again, the most obvious example is the butcher Sharon’s “disengagement” from Gaza. Even though this single event, seen in a vacuum, can be considered a good thing, it is was not enough to create the required justice to sustain peace. Removing the couple thousand settlers was good, but it did not remove the utter domination of Gaza. And thus, we again have war. Chris tries to obscure this formula by appealing to the continuing defeat of the Palestinians by military might as a basis for pragmatism. But in defeating the Palestinians, the zionists created an unsustainable situation for themselves. You can’t simply say that there is no past. Especially, considering that the past is the cause of the current war(s)…. Chris is asking that the Palestinians surrender and move on. But Israel has built conditions that make it impossible to move on from our history.

Qifa Nabki,
I am aware that many Palestinians have suffered and want an end to the conflict. When there is a gun pointed at someone’s head, there comes a point where people would prefer to have a gun removed from at the expense of their rights. Many in my family accepted foreign citizenship as an alternative to their former refugee status. But, even in cases where that is accepted, it does not chance the calculus of the conflict significantly. Any individual can accept some nominal “reparations” in cash or citizenship… but the refugee situation is a comprehensive one. Just as Osla showed, you can’t solve the conflict itself without dealing with it comprehensively, you can’t solve the refugee situation without dealing with it comprehensively.

Children of original refugees are refugees. Read the 1951 Refugee Convention.

January 10th, 2009, 7:46 pm


Shual said:

Yes, Akbar Palace,

over the last two days, my job was to talk to jews around the world. “Oh my g*d they HATE us!… My synagogue, all those swastikas!… I can see myself and my friends dig my own massgrave… they will haunt us! … I have heard of the violence in Chicago, too!!!”

“Hamas wanted martyrs and Israel obliged them.”

You are absolutely rigth!

January 10th, 2009, 7:47 pm


Shai said:


8 years of Qassams = 3 dead. 15 days of IDF = 800 dead, 3000 injured.

But hey, it’s only Arabs. Don’t lose any sleep over it, that might make you feel human again… and we wouldn’t want that, would we?

Sleep well, Akbar, you done good today!

January 10th, 2009, 7:52 pm


Joe M. said:


Unfortunately, I don’t have the energy to have this debate in full. But let me point out some basic things about the one-state solution. I am sure you are aware of these things already, but I am just putting them in one place.

1) A one-state solution does not require dismantling the settlements, negotiation of borders, changing water arrangements…., but opening them up to all people, rather than continuing them as exclusive to Jews. Considering that these facts on the ground can never be negotiated fairly (as there are not two equal negotiators involved), a one-state solution is a logical way to end the conflict.

2) Israel already has 20% Palestinians, and it is clear that they don’t have it particularly well (But they are not under occupation either). But there are many marginalized social groups in Israel, including Russians, Ethiopians or Arab Jews… Israel, simply, is a nation of immigrants and has experience attempting to integrate people. You reject this logic on the basis of fear of Israeli rejection of a redefinition of its national identity. But why is this so hard to redefine for you? (And I don’t think it is pragmatism to say that Jews just aren’t ready, so we will force the Palestinians to continue to live as inferior… (Israel will never allow a legitimate and independent Palestinian “state”))

3) Why is it not pragmatic (in the sense Chris is trying to force) to simply redefine Israel as a modern, secular state – rather than a backwards, racist, theocracy? A simple legal redefinition would instantly end the conflict.

4) Redefining the Law of Return to include Palestinians would not change the “demographics” of the Jewish parts of Israel, as most Palestinians would not be moving into Tel Aviv…

January 10th, 2009, 8:03 pm


Chris said:

Joe M.
You wrote:
Children of original refugees are refugees. Read the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Are the grandchildren and the great-children refugees too? If so, does that make me a refugee from Germany? I mean my acestors came to the states in 1848 fleeing war, now I do have U.S. citizenship, but what if I still want to return. I mean just because a Palestinian obtains Jordanian citizenship does he relinquish his right to return?

I thought the refugees were the one’s who fled or were expelled and couldn’t return. In any case, I read the 1951 Convention ( ) and no where does it say that the children, grandchildren or great granchildren are refugees.

I believe the UNRWA does say such a thing though (they include children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and soon they will be including the fifth generation) , but they also included anyone who lived in Palestine for two years prior to 1948 as refugees. So they have a very creative definition of refugee. I mean many people were living in Palestine in 1948 who were not from there. Do you think the UNRWA would consider a Jew who returned to the states after living in a kibbutz for between 1946-48 as a refugee?

January 10th, 2009, 8:21 pm


Shai said:

Joe M.,

I’m also a bit tired of arguing, so allow me to make a short comment, and let’s save it for another day.

I agree with you, please know this, about the clear advantages of a one-state solution. A re-definition can certainly be done (in theory, forced upon Israel). But practically speaking, I am as close to knowing that it’s an impossibility today as one can be. I’ll spell out the so-called “fear” of Israelis in as plain terms as I can:

If there is one state, where there are more non-Jews than Jews, and if this state is a democracy, then the following morning, the non-Jews could have a majority rule. As such, they could (in theory) enact various laws that endanger Jews in Israel (as they see it). For instance, let’s hypothetically assume that a non-Jewish PM, with a majority non-Jewish government, could decide to destroy Israel’s nuclear capabilities. And let’s assume for a moment that only Israel’s nukes are stopping the Arab world from attempting to destroy Jewish-Israel completely. 1973 isn’t a good counter-example, because both Syria and Egypt claimed they never intended to go beyond retrieval of their lost territory.

So you see where this is going, and of course I used an extreme case, but one which most Israelis would not dismiss, when considering their “fear” of a non-Jewish majority in Israel. One could say, that perhaps Israel should not be a democracy, but rather something similar to some of the regimes around us. That way, we could have a single state, with a majority non-Jewish population, but with continuous Jewish majority rule. But few in Israel want that. They still like their “democracy”. And again, I know this has been an exhaustive excuse, but fact remains that in the psyche of most Israelis still exists the Holocaust, and the need to have a safe home for the Jews. Israel, as it is today, considers itself such a place. This is the only place on earth, where Jews are in a majority (not including the Occupied territories of course). So very few Jews in Israel are ready to become a minority again.

This fear-factor, which justifiably annoys many Arabs when they hear it (and me, to be honest) is very real, even if irrational. I think peace can change that. We started heading in that direction 30 years ago, but found it too easy not to give up on the rest of the territory that wasn’t ours. Had we withdrawn from the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan, in the early 80’s, you and I would not be talking about the same topics today. I truly believe that those 20 years could have made us different human beings today. It will take the same 20 years, if not more, to shed the innate distrust and hatred we still harbor today.

But a one-state solution is just not possible at the moment, no matter how unjust any other solution will be.

January 10th, 2009, 8:25 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

This aggresion by Israel has taken long time, I believe that Syria must open the way for volunteers to increase the resistance in Iraq,help the resistance in west bank,Israel must suffer casualties.
Hopefully,Egypt will change their leader

January 10th, 2009, 8:26 pm


Joe M. said:

A refugee is someone who, “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”

That applies to the Palestinians from 47 and 67 as well as their children (since Israel is why they don’t have a nationality).

And Palestinians could be refugees for infinite generations, so long as they are not able to return, and Israel does not allow them to return.

January 10th, 2009, 8:29 pm


Chris said:

You wrote:
“I believe that Syria must open the way for volunteers to increase the resistance in Iraq”

Are you telling us that you want more suicide bombers in Iraq? I am curious, which suicidal martyrdom worshipping organization do you support in Iraq, the Sadrists? Al Qaida in Iraq? What do you think opening the way to “increase the resistance in Iraq” will accomplish? Do you want the U.S. to stay longer in Iraq?

January 10th, 2009, 8:37 pm


Joe M. said:

Why not support a simple redefinition of Israel away from a racist and theocratic state, into a secular and open state that includes all Palestinians as equals? That could be accomplished in a stroke of a pen, and is far more pragmatic than what you suggest?

Why are you invested in racism and radical zionism?

January 10th, 2009, 8:42 pm


chris said:

I’m not a racist nor a radical zionist. I don’t know what i could have written to have given you that idea.

January 10th, 2009, 8:53 pm


EHSANI2 said:


Thank you for agreeing with me per comment 149. It must be our Aleppo connection.


All Palestinians and Arab States must unite behind a one-state solution.

When the UNSCOP recommended that Palestine be divided into an Arab
state and a Jewish State in November 29, 1947, the support of Harry Truman came after intense Zionist lobbying amid domestic political considerations. The revelations of Nazi atrocities had already convinced Truman two years earlier to support the Zionist project when he said:

“Today, not tomorrow, we must do all that is humanly possible to provide a haven for all those who can be grasped from the hands of Nazi butchers. Free lands must be opened to them.”

The Jews accepted the UN partition plan while the Arabs rejected it. The land of the two states was approximately equal but the borders were complicated and zigzag. At the time there were 600,000 Jews and 1.2 million Arabs approximately. Jerusalem was to be internationalized. However, close to 100,000 Jews lived in the city which meant that they were now cut off from the Jewish State. The Arabs owned the long corridor that separated Jerusalem from the Jewish State.

The UNSCOP plan never worked of course. Mutual antagonism would make it impossible for either community to tolerate the other. The UN was unwilling and unable to force implementation of the internationalization of Jerusalem. Clashes between Israeli underground groups and Arab irregulars became a regular occurrence. The Palestinians had the advantage till the events I alluded to earlier during my reply to AIG in comment 48 way back now.

I thought that it was important to recite the above events because they explain what happened when a two state solution was envisioned last.

Sixty years later, the Israeli side is significantly stronger militarily. It is not credible to suggest that they would concede an inch towards creating a viable Palestinian State today.
The answer lies in a one state solution where neither the Bible nor the Quran is politicized. Just as the Jews invoke the Bible to invoke their right to the land, the Arabs are steadily turning to Islam and the Quran following years of defeat, humiliation and powerlessness.

This cycle must stop.

The world must stand behind a single secular and democratic state for Jews and Palestinians.

January 10th, 2009, 9:06 pm


Joe M. said:

I am really glad to see that you are so firmly a one-state advocate now. I don’t remember you having this position in the past.

You are either extremely naive, or purposely obfuscating your views. Because, while you might not personally be explicitly racist or zionist, you support zionism and racism by supporting Israel as you do. Either you simply don’t understand the realities, or you are flatly lying.

January 10th, 2009, 9:11 pm


EHSANI2 said:


Your memory is accurate. I must confess to not having done enough reading on the subject in the past. Once I did, I became convinced that doing otherwise will not work and will end up extending this conflict for another 1000 years.

January 10th, 2009, 9:14 pm


Joe M. said:

Mabruk habibi, I am glad you are on board. We are a (re)growing movement, and proud to have you.

That so many people are coming to this view is all the more evidence that zionism is on its death bed. No wonder the zionists have to fight so brutally to maintain the status quo of their disgusting state. But that, too, simply weakens them more…

January 10th, 2009, 9:17 pm


Shai said:


I fully agree with you. I just don’t believe it’s possible. Please recall, that while 70% of Israelis are against withdrawal from the Golan, even in return for peace with Syria, a good majority of Israelis were FOR withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. So I humbly disagree with you about the impossibility of a two-state solution. Israelis will still go for that, far sooner than they will a one-state solution.

I think the main reason why the International community isn’t forcing Israel to accept either one right now, is because it too believes that the Palestinians cannot deliver right now, while Fatah and Hamas are at odds with each other. That, I think, is the key. If this image changes, and if there is a single address for the Palestinian people, the world should finally force Israel to withdraw through agreement, and to end this horrible chapter of the 40-year long Occupation.

January 10th, 2009, 9:21 pm


Chris said:


So either someone agrees with you, or they are a zionist, if they don’t confess to being a zionist (in your view a racist) then they are either obfuscating, naive or lying… You know Joe one can support the two-state solution and negotiation without being a racist, i.e. your definition of a zionist. I fully support a two-state solution. I’m with Sari Nusseibeh.

January 10th, 2009, 9:25 pm


Joe M. said:

First, Sari is for a one-state solution, and in the past he did not advocate it because he did not believe it was pragmatic (like you). But last i heard, he was moving towards accepting the one-state solution as both pragmatic and idealistic.

Second, let\’s use the example of Nazis (as it is the extreme example) to express my view on those who indirectly advocate an ideology. If it were 1940, and you argued that we must accept the practicalities of the Nazis, even though you despised them (which, to my knowledge, you have no distanced yourself from Zionism, and you continue to present zionist arguments), as we must work with them as they constitute the current legitimate German government… would this not support Nazism? You tell me the distinction between saying that concentration camps are a practical reality, and outright supporting them?

In many ways, injustice is a zero-sum game. Because, as Martin Luther King said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, it can also be true that (as he said again) “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Sari, at least, condemns the injustice, even as he often justifies its existence on practical grounds. His justifying its existence does make him, for all practical purposes, a zionist. But I don’t even hear you condemning Israel or zionism, in stead, you pretend there is balance and talk about “both sides”. There are not two sides in this conflict, just as the jews were not responsible for what the Germans did to them (despite german claims otherwise).

And yes, zionism is racism. If this were not true, Israel would have no problem converting itself into an open and secular state. But it kills so violently in order to maintain itself as an exclusive, theocratic state. That says enough.

January 10th, 2009, 9:47 pm


Majedkhaldoun said:

you are zionist,and you are racist,denying this will not change nothing.

January 10th, 2009, 9:54 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Chris lets make a Zionist test for you:

You see the original refugees of Palestine as the only Palestinian to have a “legal” claim for the their lost land.

Well then how do you then see the Jews “right of return”? Aren’t they the offspring of the alleged original Jews in the approximately 80th generation. What gives them the right to be Israelis if a first or second generation refugee (who is most probably as near the original Jews as the present days Jews) has no “rights” in Israel/Palestine.

Isn’t it so that Palestinian refugees in a camp have UN refugee passport, not the passport of the country where their refugee camp is.

January 10th, 2009, 9:55 pm


EHSANI2 said:

In a remarkable display on the pages of the paper’s opinion section today, the Wall Street Journal of all papers has published an article by George Bisharat entitled “Israel is committing war crimes”. The Wall Street Journal? well, well.

January 10th, 2009, 10:07 pm


Chris said:


I support a two-state solution that is agreed to by both parties, that would likely mean some type of compensation for the refugees. I have a hard time seeing a person is the 3rd generation descendant of a refugee as a refugee. That person is likely from, as they are likely born in, the country they are living in.

You asked:
Well then how do you then see the Jews “right of return”?

The right of return does not come from international law or international refugee law. It comes from Israeli immmigration law. I don’t have any strong feelings about it either way.

As Hillel Halkin notes:
Other countries favoring immigrants who are
ethnic compatriots of the majority are Germany,
Finland, Ireland, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia,
the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, and
Armenia. The German Federal Republic, for example,
has laws extending automatic citizenship to
all Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe
and the ex-Soviet Union), even though many
of them, as Yakobson and Rubinstein write, “lived
in those areas for hundreds of years, without any
civic or geographic connection with the modern
German state.”

How about what Sari Nusseibeh thinks:

Excerpts from an interview with Dan Perry (and Sari Nusseibeh), “Palestinians’ Jerusalem envoy: insisting
on right of return was a key error,” Associated Press (23 October 2001)
(c) “Yasser Arafat’s new point man in Jerusalem says the Palestinians erred in appearing to insist
on the right of millions of refugees to return to Israel – a demand that was a key reason peace talks
fell apart.
(d) In an interview with The Associated Press in his commodious, cluttered office, philosophy
professor Sari Nusseibeh said Monday the refugees should be resettled in a future Palestinian
state, ‘not in a way that would undermine the existence of the state of Israel as a predominantly
Jewish state.’
(e) ’Otherwise what does a two-state solution mean?’ he asked. ‘Maybe there wasn’t enough work
done at the level of public opinion … with the Palestinian community, to try to articulate exactly
what this really means.’

January 10th, 2009, 10:26 pm


Off the Wall said:

You Said

Hamas wanted martyrs and Israel obliged them. Who are you to deny Hamas what they wanted? You could at least help them get more missiles…

How dare you.
And you claim you are not racist. Don’t you and your likes stop for a moment and think before utteing such stupid racist, contemptuous and contimptible comment, don’t you think for a moment that such would have been exactly the kind of crap nazi soldiers and officers would smirk and be smart asses and say “the Jews or warsaw wanted heros and we obliged them”. Have you no shame. Your language speaks volumes of the vile hate in your heart. Others on this site may tollerate this in the interest of dialogue. BUt you are not interested in dialogue, you are here to rob our noses with the blod of your victims. What you said is despicable and unacceptable and I know it is a standard language among your thugish friends in Israel. How dare you laugh at misery and murder, how dare you.

January 10th, 2009, 10:33 pm


Chris said:

You wrote:
“I believe that Syria must open the way for volunteers to increase the resistance in Iraq”

Are you telling us that you want more suicide bombers in Iraq? I am curious, which suicidal martyrdom (you know the word, “shaheed”) worshipping organization do you support in Iraq, the Sadrists? Al Qaida in Iraq? What do you think opening the way to “increase the resistance in Iraq” will accomplish? Do you want the U.S. to stay longer in Iraq?

January 10th, 2009, 10:40 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Well Chris as the maker of the my Zionist test I give you the grade Zionist. Not a Zionist with honour mentions but anyway.

Explanation for my evaluation is your complete incapability to explain the core of the question, what gave Jews the right in the first place to invade Palestine before the Israeli immigration law or Israel existed. God or international law?

Let us remember that also Nazi Germany operated by expelling Jews under the German law that time. What that right? If not is Israeli immigration law right?

By the way do you see have the offspring of Jewish victims have the right to claim compensation for lost property and suffering in Germany and else in Europe? Haven’t Palestinians the same right with their suffering and property. If you can explain this contradiction you get the grade Zionist with honours.

January 10th, 2009, 10:49 pm


Chris said:


Again, I merely want a two-state solution. I want one that both sides will agree to. That means, I want something that both the Palestinians and the Israelis will see as in their interest. I think that that is possible. The key is showing the Palestinians that the Israelis are serious while allaying Israel’s security, and demographic concerns.

Israel came into existence over 60 years ago, that’s a fact. Now we ought to try to find peace. Delegitimizing Israel by saying that people who are from there have no right to be there will not bring anyone closer to peace.

The property disputes to which you are referring were negotiated by the parties in question, Germany, the Swiss Banks, Jewish organizations, etc. I hope that the refugee issue will be negotiated upon and will also come to a mutually agreeable situation.

I’m with the former PLO representative in Jerusalem Dr. Sari Nusseibeh.

January 10th, 2009, 11:00 pm


Israel is not the enemy said:

Here we go again! Another 2 years have passed and we have our bi-annual contest between the good vs. bad with another Israel-Arab round of “games”.
We get our coverage of the games from the “Jewish controlled media” but for some reason they forgot to cover all the previous matches. Not that they were a “match” in the traditional sense of the word, rather just a warm up by team Hamas. Team Hamas had just 15,000 shots on goal as 15,000 rockets were shot at Israel since they gained their sovereignty in 2005 and have long been not answered. “OK”, Israel said; “you challenged me to a game, so we’ll have our bi-annual match and play the game you invented.” The only game the Radical Muslim Arabs have invented since the Middle Ages is the game of War against non-Muslims. When Israel comes to the field, it should not play by the same rules of the game the Muslims invented and played in Sudan, Iraq, Bosnia, Somalia, Chechnya, Iran and Lebanon. No, Israel should play by different rules; play the game according to Western humanitarian rules while the other side still plays with the old familiar Middle East street rules.
Well, it also doesn’t help Israel that the referee is an organization created after a Jewish catastrophe: the holocaust, and is totally disregarding the mandate he was created for. The ref is supposed to be preventing atrocities and promoting human rights. This referee, in fact has a majority of Muslim nations watching over human rights abuse. Have you heard of the expression letting the cat watch the milk? Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia, Iran all managed to escape with not even so much as a whistle blow from the human rights observer, but guess who did not?
Its round two in the series and the players are getting on the field. Now all the analysts come on to the field and start analyzing the game. They call the game Israel vs. Hamas or Israel vs. Palestine, but they are missing the entire picture. Even the name of the match is wrong; it should be Israel vs. The Arab world at the least or better known as The Free World who embraces Western values vs. Radical Islamic Jihad. By western values; I mean human rights, humanitarian efforts, freedom and democracy – you know, all the ones that the predominantly Muslim UN referee stands for. Some analysts of the game, mostly in the American channels, started calling the game by its real name. They know that once this game is over, the winning Muslims will go to the next playoffs phase, Europe then America and then the trophy and the championship ring… world domination with the extermination of the non-Muslim infidels.
So, the game is now being played with Israel playing according to the Major league rules of proportionality while the Arabs play with street rules. The analysts start asking why is this game even played? After all, there is the Annapolis two state solution agreement already. In Camp David, the Arabs were already offered 95% of the Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem (where the Jewish quarter is) as their capital. Also they are confused about the ‘Free Gaza’ signs the fans are holding in the stands. Wasn’t Gaza freed? Didn’t the Israelis pull out of this formerly Egyptian territory? Israel controlled Gaza unfortunately, after they won another Arab game – the Six Days War.
Now the statistics start pouring in and the Europeans can’t have enough of it. The Eurovision is quite boring, there are two more years till the next Euro soccer championship. They’re just eating these cheese and crackers on their sofas while watching the best show in the world; a barbarian Middle Eastern fight while they scream to the TV and trying to direct the players on the field. They add their own commentary and analysis. The cameras however, are only focusing on the offence of one team and wow they are beating them big time! The cameras don’t show the defense of team Israel and they start analyzing the statistic and reach the conclusion that Israel is playing the Middle Eastern game better, meaning they are the bad side. Jews are Middle Eastern after all, that’s what the guy with the mustache said 60 years ago when he called for their annihilation. That’s what every country in Europe said when they persecuted the Jewish people for millennia until we got the hint and did what they asked us to, and went back to our home court to play in our league. After 2000 seasons in the Euroleague we brought something back to our not welcoming new league, we brought back Jewish and Western values of compassion and humanitarianism to a league that had not played by these rules for years.
American audience is watching it and knows that Israel plays by these rules and knows we are not baby killers. Statistically, 80% of American Jews are liberal and/or active in human rights group. Jews started the Negro Advancement Group and were lynched in Mississippi while marching for African American human rights. The European audience is still not convinced though.
Much like American football, Europeans can’t understand this game either. They realize a team needs to score touchdowns and enjoy watching ESPN best plays, but don’t bother explaining to them about how many tries you have to pass how many yards, they know who the better team is from the statistic of a game they don’t even understand. So, they get the statistics, the latest talk about 700 Palestinian deaths, out of them 200 are civilians and on the other team 13 Israelis. They reach the ‘expert’ opinion that Israel wins the Arab war game and hence is the bad side. I got to admit we play defense pretty well and even though the other side had 15,000 shots on goal in three years, and about double that in the past 8 years, compared to our 100 bombs. Since Israel started its offence 12 days ago, they managed to keep their net relatively cleaner. They are winning the Arab game. Some feel like they need to win more convincingly, since after the last game with Hezbollah when Israel got some of their political objectives, Hezbollah claimed victory because Israel was pressured to stop the game in the middle. As long as Israel is pressured by the international community to stop defending itself they declare victory for the ‘resistance’ that doest really resist anything but logic and peace. When the Muslims feel confident they can take us in their own game they continue to play again and again until they win their long waited championship game: the annihilation of the state of Israel.

If we win the Arab game, they definitely win ours, the Public relations game. All the bright Wall Street Jewish strategy planners and all the Jewish genius that created Hollywood to win hearts and minds don’t help us. The monopoly of the victimized people have transferred from the people who suffered the holocaust to the poor ‘freedom fighters’ who gained their freedom but for some reason are still fighters. The Arab Muslims realized that Israel and the West are compassionate societies like the Arab world will probably never be, so they play by ‘our rules’. When Hamas and Hezbollah, who target civilians were answered by Israel who targeted militants and by error hit a school and killed innocent women and children the entire world opinion and Israeli public opinion was shocked and appalled, rightfully so. Then came the second most important invention of Islam since the war game, the ‘let’s win the Zionists and crusaders in their own turf PR game’. Simple, they know how sacred life is in Israel that they will defend themselves when they get shot at; they also know how sensitive world opinion is to civilian casualties. The Arabs think to themselves “Brilliant! Now, let’s brainwash our kids to die as martyrs and take them or force them to come to a school and then shoot from this school. Now when Israel retaliates we’ll have 100 dead kids, the entire world pressure and public opinion will force Israel to stop their preemptive offence, and we’ll declare victory again (and who counts the kids of course, much like the Israelis they are irrelevant too).” This pattern has worked in Lebanon in the games played in 1993, 1996, 2000 and 2006. The strategy is so good that Hamas has hired Hezbollah’s coach. (
The West feels so bad for the Palestinians who are getting exploited by Hamas (rightfully so) that it donates more money for humanitarian causes in Gaza than to the entire continent of Africa. It is needless to say that the petro-rich Arab brothers from Qatar and the Emirates are far less generous than the US, Europe or even hold your breath, archenemy Israel. The problem is that Hamas is receiving this humanitarian aid and instead of feeding its people, it’s buying weapons to ‘liberate’ the already liberated Gaza strip. Hamas has mastered the PR game so well, that Europeans are so eager to cease fire. It is so good to tell the players on the field what to do, when you sit at your nice comfortable sofa in the Alps without worrying about the consequences. I agree we should cease fire, but when the UN feels safe enough to move its security council to Sderot or the French foreign ministry that pushes aggressively for ceasefire feels safe enough to relocate to Israel’s fourth largest city, Beer Sheva, than we should definitely ceasefire.
This game can’t go on anymore, and not just for the sake of Israel, but because the real trophy is Europe, America and eventually the World. There is only one way to let this game end. This game wasn’t created by the Palestinians fighting for freedom or the occupying Jewish state. Long before there was a Jewish state, Arabs killed Jews in 1921,1929 and 1936 and each time they managed to convince the British that they killed the Jews for a reason. This stopped a Jewish return to their homeland, from the chambers of Auschwitz. In 1937 the Phil committee decided to divide the land to Israel (22% of the land) and Palestine (78%). Who agreed and who wanted to keep playing games? Then 1947 came, and the UN decided to part Israel to an Arab state and a Jewish state and again who agreed and who kept playing? Then 1956, 1967, and 1973 etc… All these games were not played by the weaker and poor Palestinian side (There was no notion of a Palestinian at the time; they were just general Arabs living in Jordan and Egypt without a unique identity and national ambitions). These games were all played by the Arab world with a population of 325 million and size of 12.9 million square kilometers (All of Europe is 10 million square kilometers.) backed by 1.2 Billion Muslims vs. a tiny Jewish state of Six million (One million of them Arabs that gladly stay there and enjoy political freedoms they can never have in the Arab world.) and 20,770 sq. kil. (Half the size of Switzerland). Only when the Arabs saw they can’t win the conventional game, they started playing the PR game and pretend they are freedom fighters for poor occupied Palestine. The PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) was actually started in 1964, while ‘Palestine’ was occupied after the Arabs lost the Six Days War. A war they started in 1967.
The Arabs managed to master the PR game to play on European guilt over colonialism and intolerance and let them believe that the Jews who suffered from all these intolerances built an ‘apartheid nation’. They also played on European anti-Semitism. Europeans always say that you can be critical of Israel without being an anti-Semite, well if you are critical of a country defending itself from people who want it to have the same fate as Hitler did, you are! If you criticize Israel for proportionality when it defends itself, it means you want it to fight with one hand behind its back so you don’t care about how many people in Israel die. When you criticize Israel for sending ground troops to a sovereign nation that launches missiles against it to halt it, while you wouldn’t have asked that from your European neighbor you are. If the IRA would attack the UK from Ireland, France wouldn’t say that England’s reaction was unproportionate. If missiles from Morocco fall on Spain and it will decide to invade Morocco to eliminate the threat, no European nation would ever question Spain’s motives.
To stop these games, the referee needs to delegitimize the offender and not punish and put pressure on the one who plays by the rules. Only when the Gazans would see themselves that Hamas gets them to nowhere and the international community doesn’t believe their PR games and knows that they brought it on themselves, they would understand it’s not serving their purpose to support Hamas, and maybe there will be a chance for peace. The US has realized that a long time ago, it’s about time the rest of the world will too! Also, please I don’t want to hear about the Jewish lobby controlling American foreign policy, we all know that in a democracy 2% of the population and still declining can’t control the entire country’s decision making. While the ‘Protocols of Zion’ are a best seller in the Arab world along with ‘Mein Kempf’ an advanced Western society can’t believe such nonsense. Let’s start cheering for the right side so these games will maybe finish some day.
If you think that I am observing this game from the Israeli gate and can’t get a full- court vision of it, here is the view from rational fans that managed to survive the Arab gate:

January 10th, 2009, 11:51 pm


J Thomas said:

“I merely want a two-state solution. I want one that both sides will agree to. That means, I want something that both the Palestinians and the Israelis will see as in their interest. I think that that is possible. The key is showing the Palestinians that the Israelis are serious while allaying Israel’s security, and demographic concerns.”

That might very well be possible. So lets look at israel’s security concerns. How about this — israel has the strongest military in the region, and israel is the only nuclear power in the middle east. Those are a powerful unguent for israel’s security concerns. Now how about palestine’s security concerns? Should israel agree not to violate palestine’s airspace? Should israel agree not to send assassination squads into palestine to kill palestinian citizens? Should israel agree that palestine has a right to an army and weapons for that army?

If israel agrees to assuage palestine’s legitimate security concerns then it might become harder to invade palestine later if they have disagreements. Israel might take more casualties in the next incursion.

I’m real unclear what palestine should to to handle israel’s demographic concerns. I think you’re talking about the problem of the israeli-arab citizens, whose birthrate is so high compared to israeli-jewish citizens. Despite their poverty and lack of sanitation and inferior healthcare etc, israeli-arabs are increasing at a rate that will eventually result in a nonjewish majority in israel even if the entire world jewish population moves to israel. What should a palestinian nation do about that?

My natural thought about that is that if it’s a national concern for israel, they might offer israeli-arabs money to emigrate to palestine or elsewhere. Pay whatever money that will persuade enough israeli-arabs to leave. $30,000? $50,000? It would be wrong to expel their own citizens involuntarily, but if the reward is great enough then many of them would go. I personally would be willing to permanently emigrate from the USA to canada for a mere US$900,000. And I think it would be appropriate for palestine to promise to accept foreign palestinians provided they have enough money, say $40,000 each.

Suppose that palestinians agreed to these terms. Secure borders with israel, open borders with other nations primarily, plus freedom from israeli attack. Do you think that palestinians would continue to attack israel to the point that israelis would feel the need to invade and occupy again?

Suppose they tried it, and israel was forced to invade palestine. Israel would lose causalties and armor fighting armed palestinians instead of taking essentially no losses while slaughtering mostly-unarmed palestinians, to get back to the status quo. Is the chance of real peace worth that possibility?

January 10th, 2009, 11:53 pm


Joe M. said:

First, your interview with Sari is almost 10 years old, and his views have changed since, in light of Israel’s “facts on the ground”. But even aside that, in this particular interview, Sari is explicitly zionist.

But more importantly, in terms of you specifically, I asked this before, and you failed to respond, so I will ask it again. WHy do you support a two-state solution, when it is racist, theocratic and clearly undermining the POSSIBILITY of even the most rudimentary Palestinian state? Wouldn’t it be epically more pragmatic for the zionists to simply abandon their nationalist(zionism) aspirations and change the legal structure of the state such that all the people, Jews and non-Jews have equal rights under the same state? There would not have to be any other change. No forced population transfers, no elaborate negotiations on borders, “land for peace” formulas. And even, the law of return could be universally implemented for both Jews and Palestinians (which, by the way, the hypocrisy and arrogance of the Jews to promote their own “law of return” while denying the Palestinian “right of return” is hard to believe. Again, showing how Zionism is racism). With the stroke of a pen, the Jews could end the conflict once and for all. And do it with dignity.

This can not happen with a two-state agreement because it does not and can not address any of the issues that created and perpetuate the conflict.

So the question to you is, why are you invested in a racist, Jewish state that by its very nature is the cause of most of the conflict? Why are Jewish nationalist aspirations (which is just an imagined concept) more important than real, material needs of Palestinians? That you support this logic, that maintaining one group’s nationalist aspirations is more important than another groups rights to their very livelihood and existence is enough to show that you are a zionist.

I agree with SimoHurtta, and I agree you do not get the honors degree, because you clearly have not thought hard enough about what zionism is or means, you simply accept it as the status quo.

January 10th, 2009, 11:54 pm


norman said:

Joe M, Ehsani, Shai,

The case against one state solution, The Jews needed a state of their own as a sanctuary in case of another Holocaust , no matter how doubtful that is ,
The West need a place that can tell the Jews among them to go to in the case of rising resentment to Jewish behavior , right or wrong,

Another case against one state solution is that the Palestinians will never accept to live with the people who are murdering them and claiming to give them martyrdom as per their request according to AP,

The case for one state solution and against what Shai is worry about , IE, losing control, Shai, Look at the US , the Jews are about 3% of the population but apparently they are about 30% of the people in congress and had one ( Lieberman ) who almost became VP,while Muslims are about 5_ 10 % of the population but have only one in congress,
So if i were you i would not be loosing sleep over loosing control.


The Palestinians have the same right of return after only 60 years that the Hebrews have after 2000 year , I just do not thing that the people who claim to be the Hebrews are what they claim,

You should also remember that GOD banned the Hebrews from the promise land and many orthodox Jews do not believe that they belong their until the Masai comes back.

January 10th, 2009, 11:57 pm


Joe M. said:

Also Chris,
just to add, if it is not obvious, Sari has approximately 0% support among Palestinians. Even the “Geneva” Plan has almost no support among Palestinians because it gives up too many of our rights. Sari’s popularity is in Israel. The Geneva plan’s popularity is in Europe. Also, Sari is smart, but he is not principled. When those like Gandhi or MLK faced repression, they responded with steadfastness. Sari bends with every breeze. Sari thinks any solution, regardless of how compromised or empty, is an advantage. Those like Gandhi were right to reject many offers of partial independence that the british threw at him, and they were right to continue their struggles in the face of great odds. And this is true pragmatically (because a partial solution will not hold in the longer-term) and theoretically (because justice is a good in itself).

The zionists can come up with a new and even more empty excuse tomorrow for all I care. Their idiotic arguments are the problem, and should not be given face value. What needs to be solved is based on the facts, not some wild zionist fantasy. And, clearly, all their efforts have backfired if they think Israel is a safe place for the Jews. It has done more to make Jews unsafe than anything else in their history. (And, of course, I know you were not supporting their views, and just reporting them)

January 11th, 2009, 12:12 am


Sami D said:

I just don’t believe [the one-state solution is] possible. Please recall, that while 70% of Israelis are against withdrawal from the Golan, even in return for peace with Syria, a good majority of Israelis were FOR withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. So I humbly disagree with you about the impossibility of a two-state solution. Israelis will still go for that, far sooner than they will a one-state solution.

An interesting meaning for the word “pragmatic” or “possible” emerges from the paragraph above, which indeed reflects common perception. In reference to the One-State solution “not pragmatic” or “not possible” really means “Israel has a monopoly on violence” and thus can largely dictate outcome. The implication of this, one notes, can extend further to accepting that we also leave most colonies on the West Bank, since it is “not pragmatic” that Israel dismantles the cities and civilian infrastructure it has built, and removes half a million of its colonists or accept giving Palestinians back their water. Hence, the Palestinians better grab what they can, while it is “pragmatic” and “possible” for them to do so.

In addition, as I mentioned before, the Israeli public opinion, which opposes greatly the one-state solution, can be molded easily by Israeli leaders who use fear and propaganda to rally people behind anything it does. The common perception by many on these SC pages is for Arabs to try to convince the Israeli public that they –the Arabs– are docile enough and sincerely seek peace, to win Israelis on the side of ending the occupation. This is a false perception.

If the majority of Israelis supported ending the occupation, and I am an Israeli leader seeking to change that, I can do so easily. For example, I will starve Gaza, shoot some Gazans and provoke Hamas enough until they shoot. Then, I will declare that “Hamas has backed us into the corner,” and continues to threaten our civilians in its ever anti-Semitic desire to kill Jews. Thus, we engage, reluctantly as our benevolence necessitates (bokhim ve-yorim as Avi Shlaim recently reminded us), in “righteous self-defense”, where Israelis will smoothly rally behind the flag, and who will, in one blow, shift to believing the Arabs want Jews thrown in the sea. Support for ending the occupation, meanwhile, will fall faster than the US bubble market. It works like a charm. Even Imad Mustapha responded to questioners here that convincing the Israeli public of Arab meekness doesn’t do much; that the issue is mainly for Israeli leaders to convince their public.

Now if I we’re to stick to the actual meaning of the word pragmatism, then a look at the map reveals that the one-state solution is really the most pragmatic one. Every Israeli community has Palestinian communities living on all its sides (with some exceptions, thanks to Israeli ethnic cleansing). And likewise, every Palestinian community has Israeli communities living on all its sides, (again achieved via Israeli violence). In addition, both people hold the whole land as dear.

Why try to disentangle such a messed up map, uproot communities and deny Palestinians 78% of Palestine, Israelis 22%, when the easier solution is to just keep everything as is, but give everyone there their rights as EQUAL? A simple yet quite fair solution, with least pain if Israeli muscles are not an issue. Israelis will have to forget about the exclusivity of the land for those the rabbi determines that their mother is “Jewish”. Palestinians will accept the millions of Jews as their co-nationalists, in a secular state. The latter should be no problem, as Palestinians would love to live anywhere on their promised land, and get treated like human beings too. This will be total luxury, compared to the slave status they endured for 6 decades. Certainly much better than living in Bantustans that Israel will kindly let them call a “state”, or even the 1967-lines-based state which, assuming Israel is forced to accept, Israel will end up anyway dominating. I haven’t seen a Palestinians who rejects the one-state solution; any objection usually boils down to “I wish, but Israelis won’t accept”. Now I don’t mean to imply that this is in anyway easy to sell to the powerful, especially with Israel’s power and a US that desires an aggressive Israel to keep Arab nationalism at bay. But so far as minimal justice, fairness – and pragmatism— are concerned it is the best one.

January 11th, 2009, 1:40 am


Akbar Palace said:

You Said

Hamas wanted martyrs and Israel obliged them. Who are you to deny Hamas what they wanted? You could at least help them get more missiles…

How dare you.

Off the Wall,

I think the question should be “How dare Hamas?”.

After seeing the MEMRI video that Chris presented to the forum, I say how dare we allow a suicidal, fanatical government stay in power?

But if you disagree with me, then by all means, send a check to the brave resistance fighters (which would be illegal in the US) who hide among civilians.

January 11th, 2009, 1:56 am


norman said:

Sami D,

Israel is not able to give the Israeli Christians and Muslims their equal rights , I do not believe they will give that right to rest of the people , May be if threaten that the Jews around the world will be treated the way Israel treats it’s minorities,

Joe M ,

The more i look at the conflict the more i feel that the only solution is a long term war that will force the Israelis to leave to the West , apparently they do not have the foresight to preempt the future wars that will destroy Israel.

January 11th, 2009, 2:21 am


Alex said:

There is a new Syria Comment poll (left column on main page). Vote please.

This time you can vote for all the options you agree with.

January 11th, 2009, 2:57 am


Akbar Palace said:

198. Shai said:


8 years of Qassams = 3 dead. 15 days of IDF = 800 dead, 3000 injured.

But hey, it’s only Arabs. Don’t lose any sleep over it, that might make you feel human again… and we wouldn’t want that, would we?

Sleep well, Akbar, you done good today!


Why do you always underplay Hamas atrocities??

No normal country would allow one missile to land inside their country from a neighboring hostile country without a serious response.

3278 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza just in 2008! I don’t care if no one died from the rocket fire, this is a justified response that was looooong and coming.

BTW – Your numbers were wrong, apparently 18 Israelis died from missile fire, not 3. But, hey, it’s only Israelis…

January 11th, 2009, 4:28 am


offended said:


I can think of two other possible reasons why Israel is attacking gaza:

1-Israel wants to terrorize the residents of Gaza and drive them toward mass immigration, since Gaza has always been a demographic nightmare for it.

2-While Israel is not serious about peace, it wants to preempt the prospect of stronger Hamas or other resistance movements in Gaza.

January 11th, 2009, 5:14 am


norman said:


Israel might be trying to convince it’s people that war and militery superiority can not achieve Israel’s goals of peace.and peace through strength.

January 11th, 2009, 5:24 am


Shai said:


I rechecked myself, and indeed more than 3 Israelis have died as a result of Qassam missiles over the past 8 years. But even if 30 had died, that’s a little less than 250 in a single day, compliments of our mighty IAF. And, since that miserable Saturday, so far, a total of 800 have died, and another 3,000 have been injured. Can you imagine how many innocent women and children belong to that? Can you bother yourself for a minute to consider this? Does it bother you at all? When you look at the burnt bodies of 5 Palestinian kids, an entire family destroyed forever, is the most you are capable of feeling is “I’m so sorry, but you brought upon yourself…”? No sense of responsibility, no sense of having committed the worst of crimes? Nah, that would be asking too much of you. You’re focusing on the (now 18) Israelis. What’s 800 compared to 18? What’s 15 days, compared with 2,400? What’s the use of comparing things – these are Arabs, and these are Jews.

By the way, don’t forget to add 7 Israeli cows that were killed by a single mighty Qassam, way back in 2007!

I agree with OTW, your smart ass comments are racist, contemptuous and contemptible.

January 11th, 2009, 5:24 am


Shai said:


There is a fantasy in Israel, that says that if we punish the Palestinians enough, they’ll rise against the Hamas. That’s the reason for the suffocation of Gaza, and that’s the reason for this horrific military operation. No Israeli thinks 1.5 million citizens will get up and leave Gaza. If that was the goal, we’d have killed many more people by now. My nation (and its idiot supporters worldwide) foolishly believes that by punishing a population, they’ll be more likely to blame Hamas than Israel! Indeed you do have to have a twisted mind to reach this conclusion. There are some, like AP, who also think Israel will win the respect of many nations after this is over, and that antisemitism will be REDUCED! God is he pathetic, or what? (I can see the line of antisemitism shrinking day by day… don’t you?)

January 11th, 2009, 6:37 am


Shai said:

Sami D.,

Like with Joe M., I respect you very much, but I disagree with you on what is possible now, and what isn’t. You are right – what is “pragmatic” and “possible” is indeed being dictated by the powerful, and not by the weak. But let’s be honest with ourselves, since when have these been defined otherwise? The strong always make these definitions, they’re the ones dictating the conditions during peacetime, and during war. The strong compromise less (if at all), and the weak pay the price. And since when have ordinary people, the electorate, made decisions not based on emotions, as irrational as they may be? I am able to sit here, hear many a commentators bash Zionism to high heaven, speak clearly of a fight to the bitter end, and yet I don’t innately fear Arabs – I believe Jewish blood is the same as Arab blood, and that you deserve every bit the same as I do, no less, no more.

But most in my country, the overwhelming majority, don’t see it that way. They DO fear you, and distrust you. Is it justified? In my opinion, no. What I realize, and I believe most Israelis do not, is that we have created this self-fulfilling prophecy ourselves. Since 1967, we have been telling our people that the Arabs are intent on destroying us (throwing us to the sea). We justified any and all offensive action, including the horrific Occupation, as mere self-defense. And of course by doing so, we created the very hatred against us we “sold” our people all along. And now, it’s easy to point to Hamas and say “look at their charter – it speaks clearly of our destruction, so we can and must fight Hamas…” And most people, again, buy it. And most Israelis are fearful of Arabs who hate them, and this time, they’re right. That it was their own doing doesn’t play part in their equation – who wants to look into themselves and admit such a thing? Easier to just hate, and fear, and fight. That keeps the conflict outside of yourself, continues to perpetuate and reinforce your own claims, and we’re always “justified” in defending ourselves, right?

That is why, Sami, I can’t see a one-state solution right now. Maybe in 20 years time. Your last sentence was: “But so far as minimal justice, fairness – and pragmatism— are concerned it is the best one.” And I completely agree with you (and with Joe) about this. But again, it’s just not possible, no matter how badly you or I may want it, or how much it makes sense.

By the way, I’ve said in the past that the Palestinians should go even further. They should now raise all the white flags they can. 4 million white flags – surrender! Come up to the generals of the IDF, Hamas combatants and all, give in your weapons, and say “Uncle!” Tell Israel that you give up, that you recognize you’ve lost the battle, and that you now wish to be under Israeli rule forever. No more “occupied” territories – ask Israel to annex them, to turn them into full-fledged, internationally recognized part of Great Israel. Proclaim the end to the Palestinian struggle. Ask the Arab World to end its conflict with Israel. And then, remind Israel that it calls itself a democracy. And show up at our Ministry of Interior, demanding your Israeli ID cards, your passport, and your voting cards! Believe me, that would lead to a one-state, or two-state solution faster than any Qassam will…

January 11th, 2009, 7:09 am


AIG said:


You have gone completely crazy. Israel is absolutely not responsible for ANY civillian casualties in Gaza, no matter their numbers. The Hamas has decided on the rules of battle and if they are holding the population hostage that is their problem. I would not endanger the life of ONE Israeli soldier by allowing Hamas to manipulate the battle field.

The Arab street and most of the voices here are just hypocritical. They only care about Arab blood if an Israeli kills him. What is hurting is their dignity and not the suffering of the Palestinian population. Frankly, I don’t care at all what the Arabs think. In 67 they all thought we should be in the sea. I do not see how they could like us less than they already did in 67. All the talk about Arabs liking us less is BS. They just hate our guts and that is it. Nothing we will do will change anything. The Arabs will accept peace on our terms or they won’t. If they don’t we will continue fighting them. If you do not like this plan, you have many options.

January 11th, 2009, 7:24 am


Joe M. said:

I am split in thirds on this. One third of the time i think they will go back to europe, one third of the time i think they will accept a one-state solution, the other third i think that their desire to live by the sword will totally backfire on them. We will just have to wait and see. But they are clearly digging their own grave deeper every day.

the most naive part of your argument is that we have already been through 60 years of worthless negotiations for two separate states, and it has only become less likely. And yet you want us to believe that now it is necessary, so it will happen… please! Israel has missed its chance for two-states, i have no doubt. If they couldn’t come to an agreement with a puppet like abu mazin, under these conditions, and could not even remove their own “illegal outposts”, why do you naively believe that there is a chance for a two-state now? Really, it’s over. There is no two-state option now. Even if an agreement was signed, there would be too much resistance, it has been too completely discredited. And we know it will take time for the one-state to be formed, but we have the clear advantage, and it will come. the question is just how it will happen, and whether there will be jews in that one-state or not.

J Thomas and Sami D,
good posts.

January 11th, 2009, 10:52 am


Shai said:

Joe M.,

I know some people on my side who speak just like you, about the Arabs.

Maybe I am naive, and you’re not. Maybe you understand reality better (both sides of it, not only yours), and can truly lead your people to a better future, whenever that may come. So go ahead, lead away.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to naively believe that shut doors can still be broken through. And I’ll continue to naively work towards a different solution – a far more peaceful one.

January 11th, 2009, 1:24 pm


Sami D said:

Shai Wrote:

But let’s be honest with ourselves, since when have these been defined otherwise? The strong always make these definitions, they’re the ones dictating the conditions during peacetime, and during war. The strong compromise less (if at all), and the weak pay the price.

Hello Shai

Everything you say above, about the impossibility of creating a one-state because the strong don’t want it, could easily apply to any unjust situation in the past, be it slavery or Nazism – or even a 1967-borders-based solution. Should people have said let’s accept Nazi rule to be “pragmatic” – that the Nazis are too powerful to defeat? Again, like ending slavery, the one-state solution may not be achievable soon, I agree; but it nonetheless ought be the ultimate goal, however idealistic. Otherwise, like I said above, we can invoke the “not pragmatic/not possible” in regard to returning East Jerusalem and the West Bank and dismantling Israeli cities.

See, in 1948 it would have been ideal for Israel to have been born in an obscure place away from headlines, or perhaps in a different time like 200 years before where it could exterminate the natives. If I am an honest Zionist leader I would prefer that solution. But the damn circumstances, like rising from the ashes of the holocaust, the rise of international law post WWII, the high visibility of the “promised land” project, etc, made this solution out-of-the-question for Israel. Now, however, the natives are living with you, around you, or rather under you, scattered at your borders in squalid refugee camps.

Shai Wrote::

They DO fear you, and distrust you. Is it justified? In my opinion, no. What I realize, and I believe most Israelis do not, is that we have created this self-fulfilling prophecy ourselves. Since 1967, we have been telling our people that the Arabs are intent on destroying us (throwing us to the sea). We justified any and all offensive action, including the horrific Occupation, as mere self-defense.

I think here, Shai, you are confusing Israeli people with Israeli leadership! This is fundamental. Israeli leadership does NOT fear the Arabs and KNOW their real strength. Israeli public on the other hand, do fear the Arabs. This irrational emotion is deliberately produced, nurtured and strengthened by Israeli leaders to manipulate the public. In western-style democracies, which, to a limited extent Israel is, you don’t have the bludgeon to drag people to wars of aggression and land-/resource-grab. You use propaganda and fear. And it works wonders.

The goal is to take more land and resources, like the symbolic Jerusalem, West Bank or the fertile Golan. But how to do it without appearing an aggressor and a conqueror? If I am an Israeli leader, I would first strive to maintain an aggressive atmosphere to ensure the conflict remains in the dimension where I reign supreme – violence. If, say, a Palestinian attacks an Israeli somewhere, I would go and destroy a village, drop bombs, destroy homes, kill a lot of people. This would ensure many more angry Palestinians chanting death to Israel, than you started with. Now my task is easier.

Israel prefers extremists than moderates (real moderates that is, not puppets), because it wants to grab somebody else’s land and because it has a lot of muscles. “Look at those hateful Arabs who don’t want peace, who don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist and who want to throw us in the sea. Check the PLO and Hamas’ charters. We need to defend ourselves against them”. And if a Palestinian didn’t provide me with pretext to begin with, then I will provoke one, like “sending a tractor into the demilitarized zone” in the Golan “until the Syrians shoot”.

Now my goal is easier to achieve. By helping destroy all Arab leaders who display “pragmatism” like accepting a1967-based settlements, I pushed Arabs/Palestinians into more extremism which I can now use to take more land citing security. From Nasser to Sadat, to Syria, to PLO, to Hamas, anytime the “threat of peace” loomed on the horizon, Israel acted swiftly to nip it in the bud. Fighting extremism makes the Zionist project easier to market to the outside world, much easier than “I want Palestine without the Palestinians.” And this, in a nutshell, has been the history of Israel-Arab relations.

Joe M., Thanks! I like your posts too. Keep it up.

January 11th, 2009, 4:18 pm


Shai said:

Dear Sami,

I agree, the one-state solution should NOT be forgotten. It should indeed be the goal. I just think it’s not possible, right now, or in the near future. As I’ve said before, perhaps in 15-20 years it can happen. But just not now. In the interim period, I think a two-state solution is more likely to happen, and is still better than a no-state solution.

I think you give Israeli leaders too much credit. Indeed they can and do manipulate the population often (as other leaders do in other nations). But I actually believe there have been a few PMs that did want peace, but precisely because the population was so much against it, felt they couldn’t make it happen on their own. Some rare cases (perhaps, I’m not even sure of that) are Begin and Rabin. I don’t accept the generalization that Israel has always rejected peace. How did peace with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994 happen, then, and why? It was certainly beneficial for Israel to keep the Sinai, so why did we give it back? There was no issue of demographics there, we could have held on to it for eons. I’m not suggesting we suddenly became peace-loving people. But we had interests for peace, and they were met.

As much as I respect the opinions of most people here on SC, I do believe that most do not fully understand the complexity of Israeli society, and the relationship between the leadership and their constituents. As a general note, I am not too receptive to generalizations, no matter what they try to depict. I do admit, however, that action does speak louder than words, and in recent days, it is indeed difficult to argue that (anyone) in Israel is interested in peace. While this catastrophe is indeed horrific, I believe time will tell whether it will be the birth of another era of violence and bloodshed, or of an opportunity to at last reach a peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. I know and understand that from the Palestinians’ point of view, such a notion right now seems absurd, and yet another form of capitulation.

January 11th, 2009, 4:38 pm


Sami D said:

Shai Wrote:

I don’t accept the generalization that Israel has always rejected peace. How did peace with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994 happen, then, and why? It was certainly beneficial for Israel to keep the Sinai, so why did we give it back? There was no issue of demographics there, we could have held on to it for eons. I’m not suggesting we suddenly became peace-loving people. But we had interests for peace, and they were met.

The record on this is not a secret. It’s part of the Israeli myth that “its hand was always extended in peace”. In reality it was terrified of Arab peace offers, because it doesn’t a return to the 1967 borders, and that is why it moved to destroy the PLO in 1982. Sadat made a “better” (from Israel’s perspective) offer of peace to Israel in 1971 than the latter one, with security guarantees and all. Israel’s reaction? “panic” in the words of Amos Elon, before it was .. rejected. That rejection produced the 1973 war, which saw Egypt emerge as a trouble-maker, inducing the US and Israel to act to remove Egypt from the conflict, especially with Sadat offering to become a US client.

THAT is why Israel withdrew from the Sinai. Israel saw that here peace is in its interests, as you say, because the Arabs became trouble-makers and that it could thus gain by bribing Egypt out of the conflict. Removing Egypt further freed Israel to act more brutally, in the occupied territories, in Lebanon and elsewhere, making the 1982 barbarism against Lebanon to destroy the PLO, much easier to carry on with the largest Arab force taken out of the conflict. Not only did it reject that overture, Israel, under a peace-loving Labor government, reacted by announcing new settlements — surely reluctantly, with tears in their eyes perhaps.

Like Hamas, which was moving to recognize a 1967-based settlement with Israel, and observing a 6-months cease fire, the PLO almost 30 years earlier had undergone the same path, “threatening” Israel with real peace and observing an 11-months cease-fire, which is why Israel couldn’t handle this “threat” and moved to destroy the PLO then, as it is doing to Hamas now.

Even before Sadat’s 1971 offer, Nasser stated that peace between Israel would be possible, to which no one reacted in Israel. In 1976, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the PLO backed a resolution agreeing to the two-state solution and 1967 borders. Israel… rejected that one too. There were many plans and resolutions after that, like the Saudi Fahd Plan or Fez resolution, which were based on two-states, 1967 borders and Israeli security. Even Saddam Hussein offered to accept Israel, in 1983. Israel rejected them all, often reacting by increasing its colonization and repression of the Palestinians.

While Israel often explained that the reason for its rejection of such generous peace offers is that it won’t negotiate with terrorist PLO, honorable and noble moralist state that it is, “prince of peace” Rabin was more clear: If Israel negotiates with “any Palestinian element” this will provide “a basis of a possibility of creating a third state between Israel and the Jordan” which Israel won’t allow. “I repeat firmly, clearly, categorically: It will not be created.” But all of these rejections are just line with the Labor-adopted Allon plan, which called for keeping part of the occupied territories as part of Israel, i.e. ensuring that no viable Palestinian state would emerge – hence, no peace.

The same Israeli rejectionism met Nasser’s 1950s overtures or Syria’s 1949 ones. Israel reacted by .. bombing and raids. To make sure people get the message, Israel often reacted to calls of stopping its conquest by … deepening it. Rabin and Peres and Barak presided, during the “peace” process, over increasing the settlements which saw the number of colonists double in the 1990s – years of peace. As for Jordan’s peace with Israel in 1994, it was a mere formalization of the on-going good Jordanian relations with Israel; no land concession by Israel was required too, so why wouldn’t Israel take such a freebie?

In short, Israel wants land not peace. You are wasting your time, Shai, trying to convince Israelis (or recruit Arabs to help you do so) to accept withdrawal to the 1967 borders. It will never happen. Israel won’t withdraw from the settlements, relinquish the West Bank water aquifers, or return East Jerusalem to the Palestinians. The only possible reason Israel might consider some withdrawal is if the Palestinians got strong enough to cause trouble that can’t be subdued by violence.

Israel wants to try to suffocate the Palestinians out of existence, reducing them at best to obedient puppets who would rejoice at the sight of breadcrumbs from the master’s table. This is, as I have always said, only the expected outcome of Zionism, Israel’s state ideology. To Zionism, Palestinians are a nuisance, “cockroaches in a jar”, “two-legged beasts”, “dogs”, “terrorists” and, more politely, a “demographic threat”. That is why if we’re to discuss true peace, the term “Zionism” has to be re-introduced into the conversation. “Negotiations” and “Peace Process” and “Talks” are a camouflage to endless Palestinian bondage and enablers of Zionism. While Zionism, in the eyes of many Jews, was a movement to liberate them from anti-Semitism and turn them into a (religio-) nationality; it spelled, predictably, the ethnic cleansing, dispossession, endless repression and humiliation for the Palestinians. Thus, Zionism is also apartheid and racism. Hell, even its limited goal of ending anti-Semitism is not achieved; the opposite is in fact what’s taken place: Zionism is helping increase anti-Semitism around the world. Some irony! Time for Jews of Israel to relinquish Zionism in favor of peace .. true peace: living with the natives as EQUALS.

January 13th, 2009, 12:06 pm


Shai said:


For racism, hatred, distrust, and violence to end, we must first be separated, physically. There must be a border between Israel and Palestine. Any thoughts of a one-state solution in the near future are sheer fantasy, and incessantly clinging on to this notion (and rejecting a two-state solution first) will not further the Palestinian legitimate rights and freedom.

I never claimed, by the way, that Israel has always sought peace. I agree with you, for most of our history, we opted for the opposite. But we did have interests in peace with Egypt, and Jordan, and we can find interests in peace with others in the future, including the Palestinian people. I don’t think Egyptians suddenly fell in love with us either, when they signed the peace treaty in 1979.

Most Israelis still believe we should withdraw from the majority of the West Bank (probably close to 97% of it, and the rest exchanged for land in Israel), and therefore it is still possible. I don’t recall the last time an Israeli PM said we are unwilling to withdraw – I do recall at least 5 PMs that said the opposite. Not only our settlement activity is criminal – our entire Occupation of Palestine is criminal. If the settlements are an indication that we’re not going to leave, then so is the entire Occupation. But we also occupied the Sinai and Gaza, and yet one day removed by force all Jewish settlers from there. I don’t see why it can’t happen again. You could have said the same (that it won’t happen) also about the Sinai back in 1979.

I keep reiterating that Israel will not opt for peace because of good heartedness, or because our population suddenly becomes Arab-lovers. Of course we will make peace, when we understand that the alternative is far worse. And that, unfortunately, might only happen after the Arabs (Palestinians included) become strong enough to give Israel quite a bit of trouble. I hope it doesn’t lead to another horrible regional war, but it may very well. It saddens me that my people can’t think ahead to see that the result is inevitable, and that instead we again have to traverse this terrible path of violence. Perhaps we Israelis are indeed “drunk” from our power.

Lastly, I never heard of Zionism having a goal of “ending antisemitism”. Personally, I agree that the way Zionism has been carried out, if anything it only achieved the opposite, in Israel, in our region, and worldwide.

January 13th, 2009, 12:57 pm


Sami D said:

Indeed Shai, Zionism was not created to end anti-semitism, but to serve as refuge for Jews from anti-Semitism. My mistake. The irony is not affected however: The place where Jews are likely to be targetted for attack BECUASE they are Jews is, of all places, the refuge Zionism created: Israel. Saying that this is due to “the way Zionism has been carried out”, which is true only to a degree, is basically saying that Zionism’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians could’ve been carried out more gently! Nor do I have illusions about the one-state solution materializing anytime soon, as I repeatedly stated. Only that it is the ONLY minimally fair and pragmatic solution to the problem, WHENEVER it can be achieved. The separation you envision is almost impossible, with the 1/5 of Israelis being Palestinians, 1/2 million colonists planted inside the W. Bank, and E. Jerusalem surrounded by Israeli colonies. And Israel will continue to cite security to control the future Palestinian “state”. Palestinians will have to be forever slaves so that Israelis feel secure. 97% of the West Bank that Israelis agree to sounds generous, but it actually leaves the water resources in Israel’s hands, as well as the majority of its colonists and East Jerusalem, along with few slivers that will dig deep into the crumbs left of Palestinian land. Prison inmates control 97% of prison space, but the remaining 3% determines whether the inmates are free or not. No Israeli leader has agreed to withdraw to the 1967 lines or withdraw all the half million settlers. The only state Israel will allow to emerge, and Arafat almost agreed to, as Abu Mazen is ready to do, is a stunted state, with borders, airspace, underground water, settlements, etc in Israel’s hands. This is the ninety-whatever percent solution Israeli leaders agree too.
Thanks for all your contribution, Shai. This is my last post under this thread.

January 14th, 2009, 3:54 pm


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