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Palestine, Israel, and the Abuse of History

by Nonpartisan Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 04:44:53 PM EST

[Cross-posted at ProgressiveHistorians, Daily Kos, and My Left Wing.  Image: Palestinian tribal boundaries in 1759, courtesy Wikipedia.]

As I wade with trepidation into this thorny and contentious issue, two quotes seem particularly relevant.  The first quote comes from John McWhorter's jaw-droppingly good piece on August Wilson (who, as far as I can tell, had no opinion whatsoever on the I/P conflict):

History is important--but not so much that, as Faulkner had it, the past isn't even past.

The second is from a comment by Curmudgette at My Left Wing regarding the I/P debacle:

History is written by the victors, and there isn't one.


By all reasonable lights, the Israel-Palestine conflict is one of the most contentious issues to face the world in recent memory.  Reasonable people, heck, even married people, can't talk about it without getting heated and angry and calling long-term relationships into question.  The only other issue I can think of in the US that raises such hackles on both sides is abortion, and in the international community, there is perhaps no issue that reaches the level of the I/P conflict in sheer emotional baggage.  As in the case of abortion, the actual individuals involved in the issue pale for most people before the larger symbolic clubs they beat one another's worldviews with.  Palestinian and Israeli citizens often cease to matter to the heated ideological combatants.

While I'm personally pro-Israel, I don't see myself as having any special expertise on the subject to offer readers.  However, when I/P discussants venture into the realm of historical justification for modern political policy, then I have something to say. 

Accordingly, if you're looking for a detailed explication of the history of Palestine/Judah, look elsewhere (or elsewhere yet for the ancient component).  My purpose here is not to provide historical justification for one side or the other; rather, I intend to argue that both sides, and the foreign forces that support them both in the US and elsewhere, need to move beyond a historical interpretation of the situation on the ground and look at what's actually going on in the present day.  That is to say, I'm here to call out people on both sides of the ideological conflict for the improper use of history to back up their claims.

"This Land is Mine, God Gave This Land to Me"

The words are from Pat Boone's lyrics to Ernest Gold's beautiful theme for the 1960 pro-Israeli epic film Exodus, but the sentiment stands for the emotional attachment to the land of Palestine felt by nearly all Israelis.  Unfortunately for them, God's "gift" of the land cannot be formally recognized by the UN or by international law.  Nevertheless, Israelis and their supporters have a whole host of other historical justifications for why the land is theirs.  Jews once owned the land under the Davidic Empire (though they ruled for scarcely a hundred years, only during the reigns of David and Solomon); Jews were granted this homeland under successive British and UN mandates; Jews deserve a homeland because they have been tortured and oppressed throughout history; Israel has made better civilized use of the land during its sixty years in charge than the Palestinians ever did when they ruled the land.

Like the Israelis, the Palestinians have a historical justification for controlling the land, though theirs is simpler and superficially more persuasive: they have controlled the land for the majority of human recorded history, and they last occupied it only sixty years ago.  This last part seems a lot less persuasive when you consider that Japan last occupied the Korean Peninsula only sixty-two years ago; nevertheless, no one would argue that Japan should be returned to hegemony there by "right of return."  The vast majority of Palestinians now alive never actually lived in Israel.

Essentially, the historical arguments of both Israelis and Palestinians for occupying one another's territory are flimsy at best.  Yet their justifications for occupying their own territory are surprisingly strong.  Both groups have lived continuously in their currently-occupied territories for at least sixty years (the Palestinians for much longer).  Both groups have nowhere else to go (Israelis because they never had another homeland, Palestinians after the PLO was kicked out of Jordan for insurrection).

If Israelis and Palestinians were simply dropped aerially from another planet into their current territorial formation, I'm willing to bet a solid round of peace talks could bring them to an equitable and mutually acceptable solution.  The only thing that is preventing that right now is a series of historical justifications on both sides.  And that brings us to a key point about history.

History is not supposed to be used as a club to beat the other guy with; it's supposed to be a lantern, an illumination of current policy questions.  In that sense, it is best when taken metaphorically.  If I argued that the I/P situation resembled the volatile state of affairs in postcolonial India, I might have a point.  If I argued that Israel should take over Palestine because they owned the land thousands of years ago, I'd be full of something unmentionable on a civilized blog.

Israelis and Palestinians have something to learn from the Great Powers in World War I, who battled to the death in the waning days of the war in order to establish a front favorable to their territorial interests.  In this case, the "front" between the two nations has been more or less stable for a long time.  It's time to end the I/P conflict by carving the boundary into international law and encouraging the combatants to deal with one another instead of abusing history to provide phony justifications for continuing the conflict.

Display:
by Nonpartisan on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 04:45:23 PM EST
It's time to end the I/P conflict by carving the boundary into international law and encouraging the combatants to deal with one another instead of abusing history to provide phony justifications for continuing the conflict.              

Yes, ok...agree.....but UN is international law ...no?

List of UN resolutions concerning Israel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From 1967 to 1989 the UN Security Council passed 131 resolutions directly dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict. Of the 131 resolutions passed, 43 could be considered neutral while the remaining 88 either criticized and opposed the actions of Israel or judged against its interests. Nearly half of the 88 resolutions against Israel "condemned," "censured," or "deplored" the member state or its actions.[3] During this time, in the UN General Assembly, 429 resolutions against Israel were passed, and Israel was condemned 321 times.[4]


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 05:17:05 PM EST
Treaties, organizations, and different parts of the UN with different biases.

The UN is an essential but deeply flawed organization.  Its General Assembly is dominated by tiny but numerous countries who want Israel wiped off the map.  Its Security Council, which actually makes policy, is dominated by the US and pro-Israel nations.

The Crolian Progressive: as great an adventure as ever I heard of...

by Nonpartisan on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 05:38:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Its General Assembly is dominated by tiny but numerous countries who want Israel wiped off the map.

Huh!? Care to elaborate?

Votes against Israel in the General Assembly usually go something like 180 vs. 3. That 3 is Israel, the USA, and some small Pacific nation.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 06:08:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are correct; I knew not whereof I spoke.  Thanks for correcting me.

The Crolian Progressive: as great an adventure as ever I heard of...
by Nonpartisan on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 06:58:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and despite US veto power, out of 131 UN SC resolutions, "88 either criticized and opposed the actions of Israel or judged against its interests".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 06:16:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
somewhere I have a book that lists all of the resolutions concerning Israel, and the analysis was that security council resolutions against Israel are generally not vetoed, unless they suggest any form of action. If they contain any punative measures they are vetoed faster than you could blink.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 01:31:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The UN is an essential but deeply flawed organization..

Woeha..... this is indeed a very US American statement.
Please .... get rid of Bush &Co .....elect a real president and the UNO will function as intended.

In the open thread I posted a link to the Annual Report of the BICC (Bonn International Center for Conversion).
English edition is not yet available but the figures they mention in the press-release are, for us Europeans, frightening......I repeat : frightening.
That level of militarisation is a world wide threat as demonstrated by Israel supported by the USA.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 07:01:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a French version available?  I read French pretty well.

I think it's flawed in ways pro-US as well as anti-US, though.  For instance, I think the membership and prominence of the Security Council is tilted unfairly in America's favor.

The Crolian Progressive: as great an adventure as ever I heard of...

by Nonpartisan on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 07:08:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Full text now in English(pdf)

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Thu May 24th, 2007 at 10:41:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UN Security Council is dominated by the veto-wielding members, and the other 9 are elected from regional groupings for 2-year terms so they are generally representative of the General Assembly.

If you looked at the history of vetos in the UNSC, you'll find that initially it was the USSR that most often vetoed resolutions, but at some point (presumably after 1967) the US began to veto resolutions having to do with Israel and nowadays  is just about the only country that regularly vetoes reoulutions, as well as dominating the overall tally of vetoes.

The fact that the US uses veto so often indicates that it doesn't dominate the UNSC. If it did, it wouldn't need to veto anything.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 07:06:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think the US should have veto power over anything, frankly.  Nor should any other organization.  That's a major problem with the UN in my book.

The Crolian Progressive: as great an adventure as ever I heard of...
by Nonpartisan on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 07:09:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I have argued before, the function [though not the stated purpose] of the UNSC is to prevent open warfare among "World Powers" by allowing them to draw lines in the sand for each other by means of vetoes. I used to have a lot of problems with veto until I (recently) realised this.

As long as (at least) China, the US and Russia have the potential for Mutually Assured Destruction, they need to have veto power at the UNSC.

What is deeply disturbing is that the US doesn't seem to give a rat's ass about the UNSC, or the global balance of power, and they even seem to think they can achieve a nuclear first strike capability soon.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 07:15:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting.  The "US not giving a rat's ass about the UNSC or global balance of power" is a Bush thing, not an American thing per se.

The Crolian Progressive: as great an adventure as ever I heard of...
by Nonpartisan on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 07:45:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Look at my sig.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 05:14:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, there is some truth to that, given that so many people voted for him; however, those people have to be considered a decided minority at this point.

The Crolian Progressive: as great an adventure as ever I heard of...
by Nonpartisan on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 02:41:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, that's not what I mean.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 05:17:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Er.. the other 10.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 05:36:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Israelis and Palestinians have something to learn from the Great Powers in World War I, who battled to the death in the waning days of the war in order to establish a front favorable to their territorial interests.  In this case, the "front" between the two nations has been more or less stable for a long time.

I don't think that analogy is apt at all. WWI saw the Great Powers of the day duking it out. The I/P conflict was never a conflict of equals. A nuclear power on one side, armed to the teeth with the most modern weapons and with billions of dollars in foreign support, loose bands of Kalashnikov-waving or just stone-throwing youths in a starved economy on the other side. It wasn't even a conflict of states: Palestine was never allowed to form (not just by Israel). There is no 'front' between the two sides, either: one side absorbed 75% of the originally shared territory which was later recognised internationally, and conquered the rest which wasn't recognised internationally, but still continued to colonise parts of it. If one views the limits of settler expansion as the front, then the front continually moved. Sharon's Wall de-facto extended Israel proper a good deal, and chokes on new Palestinian enclaves.

This conflict can only be solved by Israel, whatever happens on the nonexistent other side. Historical denial and myth-making is a strong factor, maybe even stronger than you see it.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 06:28:22 PM EST
I don't agree that "this conflict can only be solved by Israel."  The conflict can only be solved when BOTH sides agree to accept the other's existence.  Right now, the country whose party-in-power's official platform calls for the destruction of the other is not Israel.

Simply put, both sides are far from a solution because both sides are far from wanting peace.

The Crolian Progressive: as great an adventure as ever I heard of...

by Nonpartisan on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 07:05:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, which Israel should the Palestinians recognize the existence of?

  • Greater Israel

  • Israel that encompasses the Naharal River?

  • Modern day Israel that encompasses bits of Lebanon and Syria?

  • Israel that encompasses all the lands of traditional Palestine?

  • Israel with the 1967 borders?

  • Israel with the 1948 borders that was created when  close to 1 million people were driven from their hames and land in order to create a Jewish majority?

Right now, the country whose party-in-power's official platform calls for the destruction of the other is not Israel.

If you say so...

Ariel Sharon

"Everybody has to move; run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements, because everything we take now will stay ours. Everything we don't grab will go to them."

"Even today I am willing to volunteer to do the dirty work for Israel, to kill as many Arabs as necessary, to deport them, to expel and burn them, to have everyone hate us, to pull the rug from underneath the feet of the Diaspora Jews, so that they will be forced to run to us crying. Even if it means blowing up one or two synagogues here and there, I don't care."

"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands."

Menachem Begin

"The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized .... Jerusalem was and will for ever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for Ever."

"[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs."

Moshe Dayan

"Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist, not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushu'a in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population."

"we must understand the motives and causes of the continued emigration of the [Palestinian] Arabs, from both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and not to undermine these causes after all, we want to create a new map."

Golda Meir

"There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist."

"This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy."

Yitzhak Shamir

"The past leaders of our movement left us a clear message to keep Eretz Israel from the Sea to the River Jordan for future generations, for the mass aliya (=Jewish immigration), and for the Jewish people, all of whom will be gathered into this country."

Yitzhak Rabin

"We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?' Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said 'Drive them out!"

"[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 or 20 years conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration of the refugees from the Gaza Strip and the west Bank to Jordan. To achieve this we have to come to agreement with King Hussein and not with Yasser Arafat."

Benyamin Netanyahu

"Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories."

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 10:06:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you haven't noticed, most of those people are dead.  Netenyahu has become a fringe candidate akin to Zhirinovsky or Buchanan, with no power.  Rabin signed the Oslo Accords.  And Sharon began the process of withdrawing the West Bank settlements before he had his stroke.

Another instance of using history to obfuscate the present.

The Crolian Progressive: as great an adventure as ever I heard of...

by Nonpartisan on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 12:14:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And every single day Israel expands it's territory by driving the Palestinians out of Palestine.

Three years ago, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported the former Italian prime minister, Massimo D'Alema, as telling dinner guests at a Jerusalem hotel that, on a visit to Rome a few years earlier, Sharon had told him that the bantustan model was the most appropriate solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. When one of the guests suggested to D'Alema that he was interpreting, not repeating, Sharon's words, the former prime minister said not. "No, sir, that is not interpretation. That is a precise quotation of your prime minister," he said. With Sharon out of politics, his successor Ehud Olmert has pledged himself to carrying through the vision of carving out Israel's final borders deep inside the West Bank and retaining all of Jerusalem for the Jewish state.

Manchester Guardian


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 08:31:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And regarding fringe candidate Netanyahu, I note:

Haaretz poll: 40% want elections, 68% say Olmert should resign - Haaretz - Israel News

In the regular poll Haaretz-Dialog conducts every two months on the number of seats each party would receive if elections were held now, Kadima actually gained two seats over the 12 the previous poll gave it. Likud continues to lead, with 30 seats, and Labor has 21, with no real change for the rest of the parties.

Because the feeling in the Knesset is that Olmert will not hold his present post for long, the poll sought to check who the public believes is the most worthy candidate to replace him. On a scale of 1 to 10, those polled placed Netanyahu in the lead with 5.27, although he is the only right-wing leader presented, while respondents on the left had four candidates to choose from.

Tzipi Livni is second at 5.03, Peres has a rating of 4.91, Labor's Ami Ayalon 4.29, and Labor's Ehud Barak 3.91. However, Barak cannot become prime minister during the current Knesset's term because he is not an MK.

Respondents were also asked to choose a candidate they would like to see as prime minister. Here too, Netanyahu led with 26 percent, followed by Peres at 11 percent, Livni at 10 percent and Barak and Olmert at 6 percent each. Ayalon trailed with 5 percent.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 08:51:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More:

Likud is Clear Favourite in Israeli Politics: Angus Reid Global Monitor

Polling Data
Prospective results of a Knesset election
(Results presented in seats)

May 2007 Mar. 2007
Likud (Consolidation)33 32
Labour 16 16
Kadima (Forward) 16 15
Israel Our Home (Yisrael Beiteinu) 12 10
International Organization of Torah-observant Sephardic Jews (Shas) 9 12
National Union (Ikhud) and Mafdal (National Religious Party) 9 10
Yahadut Hatorah (United Torah Judaism) 6 6
Together (Yachad) 6 5
Gil (Retired People's Party) 3 4
Arab parties 10 10

Source: Maagar Mochot / Makor Rishon
Methodology: Interviews with 500 Israeli adults, conducted on May 2, 2007. Margin of error is 4.5 per cent.

Israelis Back Peres-Netanyahu Government : Angus Reid Global Monitor

Polling Data

If Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert resigns, are you for or against the forming of a national unity government headed by Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu in rotation?

For 48%
Against 31%
Other replies 21%
Source: Maagar Mochot / Makor Rishon
Methodology: Interviews with 500 Israeli adults, conducted on May 2, 2007. Margin of error is 4.5 per cent.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 09:38:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, good, turn back the clock 15 years to see if they get it right this time around.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 09:40:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We should also cosider potential coalition partners. With Avigdor Lieberman's ultra-racists on 10%, standard far-right Likud on 27.5%, and the various zealots on 20%, the wacko wing has a big majority, ex-Meretz just at 5%...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 09:58:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rabin was assassinated for signing the Oslo Accords, and instead of reacting by cracking down on the settlers, Israel put Netanyahu and Sharon in power.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 09:14:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ater an interlude by a hapless Peres, who tried to compensate for his lack of military past with ill-considered strongman actions, and a longer interlude by a military man who failed to make the change to real politician, and managed to eliminated all trust by breaking all promises, both in the I/P frame and within his own government (disintegrating his coalition by the time I/P negotiations moved to make-or-break).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 09:28:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting that, after Peres' failure for not being a military man, Labour ran a General (Ehud Barak).

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 09:30:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Though, as I remember what I read in magazines back then, Barak was considered The Coming Man already before Peres lost to Netanyahu.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 09:41:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A country called Palestine doesn't exist at present. There is no equality like you draw up. And Hamas is no realistic threat to the existence of Israel, unlike the present and previous government of Israel is for Palestinians.

You cannot speak of wanting peace when Sharon government officials expressed open optimism that there won't be anyone to talk to once they eliminate Arafat, and when Palestinians (and international supporters) practising nonviolent civil resistance, they are not only ignored by Western media, but crushed by IDF tanks and shot by snipers.

There will be peace if the stronger side wants serious talks and is truly willing to pay for it. There was a time when that seemed in the realm of the possible, but it departed with the shots fired by Igal Amir.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 08:59:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I like the vision of history of the liberal left:...

It is irrelevant what happened long time ago.. in the past...

the only relevant starting point is the f---- British Empire... when they controlled the land.. well they had the right to do whatever they wanted (as the turkish empire before that)... disgusting but true...

And so the UN accepted to give a tiny area to create Israel...coming from an EMpire is actually the best one can get... I can live with that...no worst (actually given other experiences better) than other parts of the British Empire dissolution...

And then the arabs over there did not like it. OK.. fair enough... then ..Independence war .. and unfortunately that settles the question (at least at that time.. no with almost no inter-state waar it seems weird..b ut this is how it used to be)

Of course, the problem is that the crazy zionists elements wanted .... the full God's land.. geeeee....

and proceed with the settlements and more and more...

but above all .. they wanted Jerusalem....

So... unless Israel accepts to come back to the War of Independence borders I do not see any way out...although some palestinian fundamentalists want the destruction of Israel... the main problem now is the siege mentality Israel lives in together with the crazy right-wing elements both  preventing the complete unilateral (ala Sharon) withdraw from the West Bank. Result....it is putting Israel in a path of future apartheid and demographic self-destruction.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 06:31:39 AM EST
Some notes on history, not directly affecting your line of argument, but worth to point out.

Jews once owned the land under the Davidic Empire (though they ruled for scarcely a hundred years, only during the reigns of David and Solomon)

If I remember correctly, the top archeologist of Israel opined that there never was a Davidic Empire, nor a King Solomon, instead the two statelets Judea and Israel, which the Bible presents as break-up products emerged and existed alongside; and if I remember correctly, David established Israel (the Southern one). The Davidic Empire legend was then developed successively by the monotheist revivalists of Judah king Josiah, the returnees from the Babylon Captivity, and the Maccabee revolutionaries.

they last occupied it only sixty years ago.  This last part seems a lot less persuasive when you consider that Japan last occupied the Korean Peninsula only sixty-two years ago

That's a very off analogy. Japan militarily occupied Korea as a colony, the Japanese weren't making up the bulk of the natives. A more sophisticated analogy, raised by some pro-Israel folks (including Richard Perle), is the ethnic cleansings at and after the end of WWII in Europe, where border changes were finalised and the refugees absorbed elsewhere. However, even that analogy is of little worth, because Israel's expansion is continuing, international law developed since, no European refugee population was on the scale relative to the host populations as to threaten their overturn, and there was no cold war and totalitarian dictature to suppress movements for changing it all back. (Not to mention that even so, most of these ethnic cleansings have repercussions to this day.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 09:24:32 AM EST
The Japan/Korea analogy was too bizarre to comment on. Maybe a more appropriate one would have been to imagine that, after 60 years of occupation and diaspora, the Koreans were asked to give up.

Or, maybe, to say that Tibetan exiles have no right of return and that Tibet is Chinese, as it was under Tibetan control until 50 years ago, but under Chinese control since.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 09:28:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
if I remember correctly, David established Israel (the Southern one).

Upon checking, "Southern one" was right, but that was Judah.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 10:04:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what a loaded diary!

you compare the Palestinian claims to their land to the Japanese occupation of Korea?

and you call yourself non-partisan!

what a laugh!

how much is AIPAC paying you or are you a volunteer?

by zoe on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 04:16:10 PM EST
mmmm, every single other person who has commented on this diary has illustrated that it is indeed possible to discuss this subject -- and to disagree on it strongly -- without resorting to ad hominem attacks.  Please restrain yourself.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 04:21:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
what are you? a judge?

I find that the analogy is extremely badly chosen as the Japanese were guilty of systematic atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

hiding behind rational discourse while trying to pass off  subliminal messages is really a shameful thing to do

by zoe on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 04:57:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
what are you? a judge?

As close as it gets around here. Do not launch personal attacks, especially in debates on contentious issues.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 05:01:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think this diary should even have been posted.  It is very contentious.

I mean, the Palestinians have done a lot of things wrong, but they never kept women as sex slaves, and forced other people to learn their language, banned the use of the native language, etc.  I think we all know that the Japanese occupation of Korea is not a happy period in the history of that peninsula.

I think if anyone compared the Israeli occupation to a Japanese one, the diary would have been removed because of the outcry.  Why is it okay if these subliminal insults are launched at the Palestinians?

Why would a historian choose such a comparison?  I really don't understand why someone who calls him/herself nonpartisan would try to slip that in there.  It's so blatant, that it makes me think that there is an unspoken agenda involved here.

by zoe on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 05:09:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean, the Palestinians have done a lot of things wrong, but they never kept women as sex slaves, and forced other people to learn their language, banned the use of the native language, etc.

It is a very dangerous thing to idealise a group of people. I think that is one of the major pillars of support for Israel. Let's call it the holocaust card.

Jews are no better than Germans. Palestinians are no better than Jews. Each group bleeds when cut, and the blood is red. Of course the equality of all peoples does not mean all people are equally responsible for the events that occur. Jews and Gypsies are not responsible for the actions of Hitler in the same way as the average German was, and Palestinians are not responsible for the fighting in Palestine in the same way that the average Jew is - or for that matter the citizens of a number of countries that support Israel.

As with most religions, the religion that I joined at one time believed that its members were superior to other people. A person with the unlikely name of Pink Dandelion came along and did a study of violence within the family, proving to us that when we walk our feet touch the ground in the same way as other mortals.

Also, keep in mind that pre 1948 that the Druze were an oppressed people.


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 05:36:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a highly inappropriate comparison. That still doesn't justify personal attacks. Pointing out the inappropriateness will do.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu May 24th, 2007 at 04:15:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Argue against the analogy or any other aspect of the diary as much as you like.  Personal attacks on the diarist do not help your argument, but they do make you look like you don't have an argument.

And for the record, ratings abuse is also inappropriate.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 05:31:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While I agree with you on the diarist's Korean analogy (see parallel threads), your rating of tsp's comment is bordeline ratings abuse. It seems more motivated by your spat on Wayne Madsen than by the content of tsp's comment, which is simply to point out that your comment was an ad-hominem.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 05:33:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I will admit to having lost it on the I/P topic a couple of times. Does it help? No. It doesn't even make me feel any better. In all cases I would have been better off saying nothing at all. The comments that follow do not relate to Nonpartisan. I am switching topics and want to talk about losing it. I am strictly speaking about past experiences.

There a few things that get up my nose. One is what I see as hypocrisy. People who champion freedom of speech and freedom of religion and yet think that a Jewish state has the right to define and judge my Jewishness. It really gets me when non-Jews try to control my freedom of speech in order to support a Jewish state.

It is difficult to deal with radically different interpretations of what is freedom of speech, religion, or justice. It becomes extremely difficult to deal with people who feel other values are more important - especially when they are group values - such as Jews have a right to a homeland.

The last is blatant racism in the guise of opposing racism. Usually it is ant-Arab racism. The first time I ran across extremely blatant racism by a Jew defending Israel against racists I just lost it. Unfortunately I'm getting use to the racism now.


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 05:22:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking of writing about this, so I'll just put my 2 cents here.

The fighting in Lebanon this week highlights an important problem that gets scant attention. This is the status of Palestinian "refugees". Lebanon alone has something like 11 semi-permanent refugee camps. The one under attack has about 40,000 residents in a 1 Km square area. Some of these people have been there since 1948. Why?

The Lebanese (and Jordan, etc) have not allowed these refugees to integrate into the local countries. They can't work, attend school, own businesses and even build proper homes in the camps. Why?

The common Arab answer is that the host country can't "absorb" this number of refugees without losing its character. This implies that these people will always be regarded as outsiders by the hosts, which, itself, implies some sort of tribalism or ethnic differentiation. This is not very charitable on the part of the hosts, to say the least.

The common Israeli answer is that the host countries won't allow integration so that there will be a steady supply of disaffected people who can keep up pressure on Israel. As the fighting in Lebanon shows those bred to be disaffected may not turn their attention where the host country expected.

Now regardless which of these explanations is right (I think both, partially) the question remains as to why the various states want to maintain the status quo. Do Arab leaders really think they are going to eliminate Israel at this point or do they have some other motivation?

Israel, of course, won't let any of these people back into Israeli territory since they are afraid of being demographically overwhelmed. This is probably true, but also reflects their tribal and ethnic biases.

So what is it that Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the rest of the bunch really want?

My guess is that since all the neighboring states are dictatorships with high levels of social and economic inequality the I/P issue serves as a way to keep people's minds off internal problems by offering up a foreign bogeyman. If this works in the US why not in th middle east?

I'm open to other ideas as to what are the motivations of the states in the area which keep them from resolving the issues.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 06:56:15 PM EST
I think you are right regarding the leadership of Syria, Jordan, Egypt.

But I would also add that any large enough country or groups of countries - say US or EU - could have solved a lot of this a long time ago by handing out green cards in the camps. Not everyone would have wanted to go, but over time most probably would and then the camp would have seized to be a factor and integration in the host countries of the rest would probably occur. This can still be done.

So why are our governements not more interested in solving this? They are after all very interested in other aspects of the conflict.

My theory is that the whole focus on the I/P conflict is not about solutions. Pro-I? Pro-P? What does it really mean? Kill all the others?

And why are we here discussing this conflict and not West-Sahara, Congo (what is going on in Congo these days?), Kashmir, Chechnya of any other on going conflict? Why is this - on a world scale - small conflict the central conflict in the media?

Well, world media is dominated by a US centric worldview because US media dominates. So why is it that this conflict is so interesting from a US perspective? (And has it always been thus?) Is it about creating tribal entities (Pro-I vs. Pro-P)?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 07:35:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that the solution to this - and many other territorial disputes - lies beyond the conventional "Nation State" and the legal protocols that give it existence.

In "Common Ground", in fact.

At the end of the day, Nation states are about a contract between the State, and its Citizen individuals who have rights of occupation of land within the territorial borders which the State asserts and maintains by force of arms, if necessary.

It is quite possible for one State to "lease" territory from another, giving exclusive rights of occupation against the "lessor" State - Hong Kong was a good example - typically pursuant to lease agreements made by force of arms.

Enclaves operating on such a basis are not uncommon -the US has bases in over 100 countries within which the host nations' writ does not run.

I believe that it is possible to create a solution - not a million miles away from a "Mandate" solution - whereby disputed territories are held in trust, and non-exclusive rights of occupation granted to individuals who would have the choice as to which of the two (or more!) "Occupier" States they will be affiliated to.

Co-ownership.

No freeholds would be granted of properties, and no leases either, but instead a "Community Land Partnership" would apply whereby Member individuals would be allowed a right of exclusive occupation provided they pay a "Land Rental" (a share of income or production) into a "Community Pool" consisting of all occupiers of land in the area.

This "Pool" would then be redistributed equally to all.

Beyond that "Land Rental" for the exclusive right of occupation of a particular location, individuals would then pay an agreed "Capital Rental" in respect of any capital invested in the land for their personal use(eg to build their home)or for the communities' use (eg to build a school).

In other words, they would build a participative form of "Co-ownership" state from the ground up in a manner similar to the Kibbutz movement, but with the addition of capital beyond mere "Sweat Equity", but not toxic forms of capital based upon unsustainable bank-created "deficit-based" money "secured" by claims over freehold property.

Using a "co-ownership" model, the payment of "taxes" to States would be minimal and would apply only to services delivered by States as "operating partners" in the disputed area.

One of the principal reasons for Hong Kong's success was IMHO the fact that land remained in state ownership.

With investment in property and energy (with a return in local flows of energy orproperty rental value) it is possible using such a common ownership and partnership-based architecture for "land rental units" and "energy units" to circulate upon a clearing platform/payment system as a local form of value alongside any other money that the citizens trust.

This solution would essentially be consistent with the views of those who say that "absolute" ownership of land is God's alone: as far as I know that being common to Judaism and Islam alike.

It would allow third parties eg the UN - rather than any one State - to guarantee the borders against aggression - and it would allow two sets of amazingly intelligent and entrepreneurial people to develop this Common Ground literally from the ground up.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu May 24th, 2007 at 04:27:54 AM EST


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