Friday, December 12, 2008

Anti-Semitism, Israel, and the INGBs

I'll never forget an argument I had back when I was in high school, in American politics class. I think this was my senior year so it was either fall of '98 or spring of '99. We were talking about gay rights. I made a little speech about what an ardent supporter of gay rights I was. While I did it, though, I was making a caveat every other sentence or so of the type "I'm not gay, but...." When I got done, my good friend Nick raised his hand in that quick way you do when you're ready to shred someone. (I don't know how your classes in high school were, but in most of mine the cadre of kids who were inclined to speak the most in class had a friendly but vicious contest of wills to see who could score the most points, rhetorically.)

Anyway Nick raised his hand and asked why, if I was so accepting of homosexuality, I felt it necessary to qualify most every statement by announcing my heterosexuality. It was, I'm afraid, a perfectly good question, and one of the most direct hits against me in my educational career. I didn't have much to say, but I choked out some lame joke to save face. ("I'm not gay, but I'm pretty sure you're an asshole," I believe.) Couldn't really rebut him, because he was right. (In my defense, it was high school.)

Since then, as much because of the embarrassment of being vulnerable in that way as because of the fact that it was a good point, I take care when I write about gay rights and gay marriage not to spend every other sentence assuring my readership of my heterosexuality. Because it does contribute to the impression that homosexuality is some shame to be denied, and also because, well, who gives a shit? If my ideas and arguments are salient, they are salient regardless of my personal connection to the issue, and I should be smart enough to construct an argument for gay marriage or gay rights that doesn't require my being gay. We have a distressing habit in this country of privileging individual experience over superior logic or evidence, and to our detriment, I think. One of the simple facts of democracy is that people are going to have to make decisions that impact other people's lives, even if they have no real understanding of what it's like to live those other lives. It's inevitable. I do succumb to the temptation, sometimes, but I try to avoid it, and in particular I don't invoke certain aspects of my life history in political argument, for fear of appealing to emotion or individual experience. So anyway, no INGBs ("I'm not gay, but"s) from me.

I was thinking about that when considering this recent post on Israel. Commenter Roque Nuevo has been taking me to task in the comments, with some reasonable questions and some not. He has not, to his credit, accused me of anti-Semitism, but he has made the kind of vague appeals in that direction that you find constantly in this discussion. ("Who but an anti-Semite....") It's got me thinking, as I often do when Israel comes up, about an aspect of the Israeli conversation that is similar, a sort of INGB for discussing Israel. I don't personally spend a ton of time when talking about Israel assuring everyone involved that I am not an anti-Semite. I don't because I don't think it's necessary; the idea that anyone who is critical of certain aspects of Israeli policy must spend half his time denying anti-Semitisim merely plays into the notion that there is something inherently hateful towards Jews in that kind of criticism. That is not true. Israel, a governmental, political body, must be subject to criticism, as any nation-state must, particularly since our strategic alliance makes us investors in the Israeli state. To act as though there is something essentially anti-Semitic in valid criticism of Israel is to give the whole enterprise away, to concede to the most wrong-headed and unfair aspect of our debate about Israel.

I equally feel that there is something ugly in that kind of oft-repeated caveat. It's like the old statement "some of my best friends are black;" even when true, there's something kind of gross about it. And, as much as we should remain open to the very real possibility that any particular debater has what we would consider bigoted attitudes, the assumption should be that they don't. Alan Jacobs wrote very brilliantly about things that should go without saying (look in the comments of that post). It should go without saying that my criticism of the status quo in Israel isn't a product of hatred of Jews. The conflation of Israel and the Jewish people, it seems to me, is a mistake that is made by both zealous supporters of the Zionist mission, and zealous opponents of it. We should avoid that temptation.

But, look, maybe it doesn't go without saying that I am not an anti-Semite. Maybe criticism of Israel is just bound and determined to invite such accusations, whether that's logical or not, and I should make more of an effort to demonstrate, when I talk about Israel, that my opinions are based on both humanitarian/democratic principle, and on my genuine beliefs about what will produce the best outcomes for Israel. So look: my opposition to the continued occupation of Palestine and various Israeli policies therein is based on my belief in democracy. It is simply a crisis for democracy and humanitarianism for a group of people to live within the bounds of control of a nation and be given neither voting rights nor their own, self-determining country. You can solve this problem in one of two ways: you can incorporate the Palestinians in the territories into Israel, with full citizenship and voting rights, a one-state solution. Or you can give the Palestinian territories actual sovereignty and self-determination, with all that entails, a two-state solution. That's what my vision of human rights requires. It also helps that, in my opinion, a resolution to this conflict will be the best vehicle to lasting peace for the Israeli people.

Roque mocked my referring to the Israeli project, but I actually find that an appropriate choice of words. Israel, more than any other nation, is really a project, a mission. The question of whether I support that mission is dependent on how you define it. What exactly the Zionist mission entails is of course a matter of profound disagreement, certainly beyond my ability to divine a proper answer. So am I a Zionist? It depends. I absolutely support the continued prosperity and peace of the state of Israel. The physical security of Israel is non-negotiable. I absolutely denounce any violence against the state of Israel. It's a non-starter. My vision of Israel, though, is a secular state. I don't believe in fundamental religious characters for countries; that is simply contrary to my beliefs in democracy. No Muslim states, no Christian states, no Jewish states, if the world lived according to my preference. As important, Israel has to be a state that extends completely equal rights to non-Jews as Jews. Again, that's just a function of my vision of liberal democracy. Israel should always be welcoming of Jews from around the world as a home and place of safety. But everyone within must be equal. (That's a vision that Israel has satisfied completely, regarding non-Jewish citizens; but work remains to be done, of course, with the dispossessed Palestinian population.)

For some people, denying the Jewish character of the Israeli state makes the idea of a homeland for Jews nonsensical. I don't agree. Some people think that for the Zionist project to be really fulfilled, Israel has to be a religious state. We are not going to agree. But we can admit that our disagreement has nothing to do with hatred of Jews, and I equally think that we can admit that reasonable people can have reasonable disagreements about what the best course of action is for the Israeli state.

I continue to resist the idea that I should be making caveats about my abhorrence of anti-Semitism every time I post about Israel. But I don't know. Maybe I really should be doing that, as untoward as it seems to me. It's important to say that there are of course crucial differences between denying homosexuality and denying anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is a noxious evil, while homosexuality is nothing of the kind. Confusion about someone's sexual identity can have at worst certain socially awkward situations. Confusion about someone's stance on Jews and anti-Semitism can have much more damaging consequences. Certainly, there remains a hard-core of virulent and corrosive anti-Semitism in the world, and yes, it is particularly a problem within the Arab world.

But these facts remain: it remains true that acting as if critics of certain Israel policies are required to spend half their time denying anti-Semitism essentially confirms the notion that there is something hateful towards Jews in any criticism of Israel. It remains true that there is something self-undermining and troubling in a person constantly stating that they are not anti-Semitic, just as there is something untoward in the person who constantly assures you that he is not an anti-black racist. Perhaps most importantly, just saying it, of course, means very little, and while I can assure you repeatedly that I have no animus against Jews within me, ultimately it's my conduct and my ideas that have to carry the day. The ultimate question, if this is to be a discourse of use and pragmatics rather than one of emotionality, is whether my opinions about what is best for Israel actually produce the best possible outcomes for that country. So I remain uncomfortable with constantly disavowing anti-Semitism when discussing Israel. But I could be wrong; it may be that the terrible history of anti-Semitism requires that I take a more proactive role in denying the very real and very destructive reality of anti-Jewish hatred. I remain open to the possibilty.

13 comments:

Moff said...

For what it's worth, I don't think you're wrong (especially about how a constant refrain of "I don't hate the Jews" would start to come off as protesting too much). The conflation of any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism has always baffled me. I asked a very smart, politically minded, New York–native Jewish girlfriend about it once, and she said, "It's a thing."

E.D. Kain said...

Two things:

First, I think some of the sensitivity to this is due to the historical nature of anti-Semitism, and to the very real anti-Semitism present in many discussions about Israel. Sadly, when reasonable, responsible criticism is offered up, some people either equate it with the real anti-Semitism, or use this as a reason to shut down all conversation on the subject. I think you see this sort of thing when tackling such sensitive, controversial issues.

Second, I don't think that Israel needs to remain a "religious" state or a predominantly Jewish state to remain a home to the Jews...but...the Palestinians haven't really made the case that should they reach majority status they'd in any way be inclined to treat the Jews well at all. See, that's the problem. You've got at the head of the Palestinian nationalist movement some really, really nasty people. Thugs, gangsters, killers, and zealots.

So it's simply not an easy thing to tackle. Initially, of course, the Zionists were basically socialists and atheists and didn't really care so much about the religious aspect of Israel (and looked at Jerusalem, quite frankly, with more than a little disdain) but all that changed as one war was followed by another was followed by a couple of intifadahs and so on and so forth.

The best laid plans, as they say...

Freddie said...

Second, I don't think that Israel needs to remain a "religious" state or a predominantly Jewish state to remain a home to the Jews...but...the Palestinians haven't really made the case that should they reach majority status they'd in any way be inclined to treat the Jews well at all.

Which is a good argument for a two state solution. But one way or another, the status quo cannot stand. You can't have an ethnic group living under the control of a different ethnic group with no enfranchisement and no ability to gain it. That's just a disaster for democracy, and for human rights.

EdgarBox said...

so, by your logic kain, obama shouldnt be inclined to treat white folk right? or a black person decendent from slaves in a position of power.

Once palistienians get equal rights, they will probably just want to live their lives and not send any more of their sons to be killed, just for revenge's sake.

Roque Nuevo said...

It wouldn't occur to me to accuse you of anti Semitism, which is why I didn't do it. If I thought you were an anti Semite, I wouldn't even be here in the first place.

I most certainly did not make any vague appeals in that direction, like you say I did. I said that if one defines the Zionist project like you do--establishing a home for Jews, etc--then only an anti Semite or a crank could possibly criticize it. We agree that Jews have the right to establish a state of their own. Anyone who disagrees is an anti Semite or a crank.

Saying that specific policies of the government of Isreal can and should be criticized without anyone's being accused of anti Semitism is banal. Everyone does it all the time.

It wasn't my intention to mock your use of the term "Zionist project." I wouldn't say this myself but I don't find anything "mockable" in it other than wordiness. Saying "Zionism" works just as well as "Zionist project."

There is an important fact about anti Semitism that you possibly are not really aware of, although you do skirt around the edges. Allow me: back in Nazi Germany there were different "styles" of Jew-hatred (to give it a word). These can be called "polite" and "vulgar" anti Semitism. The "vulgar" style is well-known from publications such as Der Sturmer. "Vulgar" anti Semites had a rabid hatred for Jews, to the point where they couldn't even be in the same room with a Jew. In "polite" society this wasn't accepted. "Polite" Germans could associate with Jews and even count them among their friends and associates without feeling the least repugnance. But they still agreed with the "vulgar" anti Semites that the Jews were a malevolent force that had to be vanquished for world peace. They accepted somehow the Elders of Zion theory that Jews were behind every war, economic depression, etc etc in history. At the same time, they could truthfully say that they did not hate Jews and even that "some of their best friends were Jews." You should read Language of the Third Reich by Victor Klemperer for an inside view of this phenomenon.

With respect to Israel and Jews today these two "styles" continue to exist. The "vulgar style" continues as before--the property of vulgar and ignorant people. But "polite anti Semitism" of the Elders type has been foreclosed to polite society by the Nazi defeat itself. Therefore it has evolved. Polite people can truthfully say that they do not hate Jews and some of their best friends...etc etc while at the same time holding views like the following:

Jewish elites in the United States have enjoyed enormous prosperity. From this combination of economic and political power has sprung, unsurprisingly, a mindset of Jewish superiority. Wrapping themselves in the mantle of The Holocaust, these Jewish elites pretend—and, in their own solipsistic universe, perhaps imagine themselves—to be victims, dismissing any and all criticism as manifestations of "anti-Semitism." And, from this lethal brew of formidable power, chauvinistic arrogance, feigned (or imagined) victimhood, and Holocaust-immunity to criticism has sprung a terrifying recklessness and ruthlessness on the part of American Jewish elites. Alongside Israel, they are the main formentors of anti-Semitism in the world today. Coddling them is not the answer. They need to be stopped.--Norman Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah

In no way can something like this be called "criitcism" of the government of Israel as we understand it. The main elements of the Elders theory are here: Jews blamed for anti Semitism itself; Jews controlling the media; Jews acting as a cabal. Especially somehow blaming Jews for being successful, as if their achievements are at the expense of "real" Americans and the result of some imagined manipulation of the "system."

This was the same attitude that generated the Elders theory in the first place. When Jews were included as citizens in Europe after the French Revolution and the apartheit-like laws against them were overturned, they ended up being over-represented in the professions, in academia, and in business. How can these people, who had been oppressed as second-class citizens throughout history have possibly managed to come out on top? There must be some explanation, and there certainly is. But this explanation involves the history of Europe, the history of the Jews, and who knows what other things like economics and politics. It's complicated. People like Finklestein and many others can resolve this problem in a very simple way. This appeals to ignorant people because it means that they don't really have to think about anything or much less, learn anything. All they have to know is one thing: Jews are evil; they control governments, media, and the economy. That's why someone's mom-and-pop store goes broke (Jews own the big department stores) and so forth.

Anti-Americanism is very similiar in Mexico (where I live). People do not hate gringos--in fact they're unfailingly courteous and open. But gringos as a nation are evil--they control everything, they're responsible for all of the world's ills and so forth. Deep in their cultural psyche, Mexicans cannot accept a Protestant nation becoming the continent's and then the world's greatest power. Mexico itself was destined for that role by God. After all, the virgin manifested herself to a Mexican in the sixteenth century--the Virgin of Guadalupe, whose celebration is today. (If you know a Mexican, take him or her to lunch and he or she will be your friend)I'm exaggerating for effect, of course. No Mexican would openly espouse such views, but they have been propagated by such cultural icons as José Vasconcelos.

We agree that theocracies are repugnant. But I say that if it's their state and they want a theocracy, then they should have one as long as they don't violate anyone else's rights. This goes for Jews and Muslims. Israel is proof that a theocracy does not have to be a dictatorsip, like Iran.

Your opinions about the one-state vs the two-state solution for the problem of Israel/Palestine are really irrelevent. International consensus is for the two-state solution and has been since the '47 partition of the British mandate. There were some people who advocated the one-state solution in the past, but they disappeared after the anti-Jewish riots of the 1920s. Today, the one-state solution is proposed as a way to destroy the state of Israel, therefore I think one would be justified in calling such people anti Semites, unless they're simply ignorant of the realities of the region. This ignorance is not a crime either. It's what was behind the Balfour declaration back in 1919. Balfour was a very smart man and a leader in the British government. He couldn't see any reason that Jews and Arabs couldn't share a state without prejudicing the rights of the other. That's what they do in Britain, so why not? Today, there's simply no reason to go over this again.

You seem to blame Israel that a group of people ... live within the bounds of control of a nation and be given neither voting rights nor their own, self-determining country. You say that Israel "occupies" the West Bank. While I can't say that this is false, it needs a lot of nuance to make it accord with history. Arabs were alloted much more territory on the West Bank in '47 than they could ever get today but they refused it. After the '48-'49 war, Jordan "occupied" the West Bank and nobody was protesting. Why not? After the '67 war, Israel "occupied" it. But their offers to withdraw in exchange for peace were rejected by the famous "three noes" of the Arab League conference: no negotiation, no peace, no Israel. Something like that. Yes, we do agree that it's a crying shame what has happened to Palestinians. But Arabs must share the blame with Israel according to any rational view of history.

Freddie said...

Palestinians are not responsible for the conduct of Jordanians or Egyptians or Syrians. It is a pretty cruel thing to ask a Palestinian twelve year old to live with the consequence of the actions of the Jordanian government from decades ago.

Freddie said...

Or, I should say, to ask them to be accountable for those actions.

EdgarBox said...

Let me counter the idea that opposing the right of jews to create a state is an anti-semite. Say i opposed the basques getting thier own state, its not because i hate the basque people. its because i though it might create too much strife in the region, or i thought that they didnt have a legitimate claim to that land or they only comprised a minorty of the population of that region and it wouldnt be just to the other people living there, if there was a theocratic basque-catering state.

I dont think that the state of israel should have been created. does that make me an anti-semite. no. do i think israel has a "right to exist" , well i guess, they DO exist, and even if i think they got there improperly, they have been there long enough that they they have legitimized themselves. And as to the argument that they needed a state to protect them from another holocaust, that not a good enough reason to steal someones land. (yes i know the brits owned it, but for all intensive purposes its was the palestienian's at that point

SO, i dont oppose the idea of jews forming their own state in thoery, but but its realizaion, in the state of israel is not some that i can support.

Roque Nuevo said...

Edgar Box is either anti Semitic--in the "polite society" sense I have explained, or he is ignorant. Note how he blames Jews for the problems that result from Jew-hatred. He implies that if the Jews hadn't gone to Palestine, we wouldn't have such problems there as exist today. Therefore, the problem isn't Jew-hatred among Muslims. It's the fact that the Jews exist.

Jews were living in Palestine and the Middle East long before the so-called Palestinians were there. Long before Islam was invented. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire many national states were created. Why should a state for the Jews be such an exception?

He says, "And as to the argument that they needed a state to protect them from another holocaust, that not a good enough reason to steal someones land." They did not steal anything from anyone. They went to Palestine with the full approval of the Ottoman authorites and bought the land from its rightful owners. They established a center of development in a former hell-hole of disease and poverty, thereby attracting Arabs to Palestine. The only argument for the "theft" of the land is based on Islam: Palestine was given to Muslims by god and it's a crime for it to be under Jewish rule. So either Edgar Box is a Muslim or he's a useful idiot fro Muslim extremists.

It wasn't up to Edgar Box to determine how to make Jews safe from future Holocausts. The Jews decided that for themselves. If it were up to the likes of Edgar Box to decide, then Jews would no longer exist on earth.

Roque Nuevo said...

Freddie: I am most certainly not blaming Palestinians for their own dispossession. "Palestinians" didn't even exist as a national group in 1947. I'm blaming the Arabs who have never done anything to create a state for them. They could have done so in 1947 and after. They could do so today. Instead, they prefer to maintain them in "refugee" status as blackmail.

Anonymous said...

"Note how he blames Jews for the problems that result from Jew-hatred. He implies that if the Jews hadn't gone to Palestine, we wouldn't have such problems there as exist today. Therefore, the problem isn't Jew-hatred among Muslims. It's the fact that the Jews exist."

Roque, Why do some muslims hate jews? Is it because they are ignorant and intolerent? yes. IS it because many european jews came to palestien and it looked like colonization from a forgien power all over again, and also that they burnt palestinain villages? yes, that too. Of coarse im saying that we wouldnt have the promblems we have today if israel wasnt created, that my whole point. Agnain im not saying that jew shouldnt be able to do create their own state, im saying that they did it badly. I think jew-hatred is a promblem, some of it is based on real grienvances some is not. But you seem to assume that non of i t has any basis in reality.


"Jews were living in Palestine and the Middle East long before the so-called Palestinians were there."

Right, and then they left or got expelled. and that was wrong, but then the palestinans were their for a long time. The "so-called palestinians", way to call it Roque!

" After the fall of the Ottoman Empire many national states were created. Why should a state for the Jews be such an exception?"

Well yes the british created many states after WWI. And yes with much lobbying from an influencial zionist community in england evenually, what would have been the palestinian state got divided into two states. While the whole time, jew were illegally immigrating into the territory.

"He says, "And as to the argument that they needed a state to protect them from another holocaust, that not a good enough reason to steal someones land." They did not steal anything from anyone."

Really, they never stole land from anyone. Give me a fucking break.

"They went to Palestine with the full approval of the Ottoman authorites and bought the land from its rightful owners. "

Well thatts great, full aproval from a tyrannical empire. "and bought land from it rightful owners" , ok, nothing to see here, moving on..

"They established a center of development in a former hell-hole of disease and poverty, thereby attracting Arabs to Palestine."

See, the palestinains werent even there in the first place because they hated their land. Fuck your center of development, for it sits upon the rubble of burnt palestinain villages.

"The only argument for the "theft" of the land is based on Islam: Palestine was given to Muslims by god and it's a crime for it to be under Jewish rule. So either Edgar Box is a Muslim or he's a useful idiot fro Muslim extremists."

The only argument for "theft" of the land is based on Judesim: Israel was given to the Jews by god and its a crime for it to be under muslim rule....I dont know your both fucking crazy. So either your a useful idiot for radical zionist zelots or ignorant. What if i was muslim, would i automatically have to actually belive all the crap that you are tieing to me? Stop hating.

"It wasn't up to Edgar Box to determine how to make Jews safe from future Holocausts. The Jews decided that for themselves. If it were up to the likes of Edgar Box to decide, then Jews would no longer exist on earth."

Wooooah, ok maybe i was going to far here, but your going completely crazy, now i apparent want to kill every jew. Wow, Freddie, please take control here

Roque Nuevo said...

As always, debunking ignorance takes a lot more space than the original ignorance. Sorry about being so long, but it's not all my fault. It's part of my job to fight ignorance wherever I find it. I have no expectations at all the Edgar Box will learn anything, but it's possible that someone else could read this thread with an open mind and do so.

The main point first: Of coarse im saying that we wouldnt have the promblems we have today if israel wasnt created, that my whole point.

And you can't see how you're blaming the victim here? Blaming the Jews for bringing down prejudice and discrimination on themselves is the hallmark of Jew-hatred from the beginning. You must be blind. The Jews went to Palestine with all the right in the world to do so. If Muslims rejected them, then it's the Muslims' fault for the conflict, not the Jews. Anyhow, maybe an analogy would help you. Say black people buy some property in a neighborhood and build a business there. People in the neighborhood hate black people because they're not like them and besides their business is making a lot more money than they do. So they attack them. Blacks defend themselves and so on. Then you come along and say that the problem is the black people's fault because if they hadn't decided to build their business in that neighborhood, there wouldn't be any problem. Therefore, the solution is for them to leave the neighborhood.

Roque, Why do some muslims hate jews? Is it because they are ignorant and intolerent? yes. IS it because many european jews came to palestien and it looked like colonization from a forgien power all over again, and also that they burnt palestinain villages? Jew-hatred has many sources. Any explanation would take much more space than I can use here. But you pretty-much answered it yourself: Muslims are ignorant and intolerant. The same reason that whites hate blacks or blacks hate whites or straight people hate gays. But that's a question-begging answer. You need more detail. First, you must distinguish between "traditional" and "modern" Jew-hatred. "Traditional" Jew-hatred was and is based on the Koran, which contains many examples of Jew-hatred as practiced and preached by Mohammed. Traditionally, Jews were allowed to live under Islamic law, which mandates an apartheid-like system for Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and other "people of the book" as Mohammed called them. Others--i.e., polytheists--must convert or die.

Traditional Jew-hatred in the Christian world was based on the fact that the Jews killed Christ. Primitive people believed in "blood guilt" so all those ancient Jews' descendants shared the guilt. Primitive people believed that god controlled every little detail of nature and life so any problem must be because god willed it. Primitive people believed that to be free of problems, one must be in harmony with god's will. So problems result from people's being out of whack with respect to god's will. It was and is easy to blame the Jews for causing this lack of harmony so exterminating them was the logical solution. Legends were created that Jews poisoned the wells to cause the plague, ate babies and drank human blood as part of their rituals and so forth. It was difficult to accept a group who openly rejected Christ and still prospered and were happy. Therefore, assuming some foul play was how they could and can explain the happiness and prosperity of the Jews without having to examine their own lives to see what they were doing wrong that prevented them from achieving the same happiness and prosperity as the Jews.

Modern Jew-hatred is European in origin. It's the Protocols-type Jew-hatred. This means the belief that Jews form a cohesive group that attacks Muslims (and Europeans, in the original version), controls the world's governments, the media, the economy, causes all the wars, depressions, and revolutions in the modern era, and so forth. This "modern" version was imported into the Middle East by the Nazis in the '30s and '40s. One of their agents was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Nazis were instrumental in founding the Ba'ath party as well.

As in the Christian world, you have to consider simple resentment and scapegoating as well in your explanation. Jews were supposed to live as second-class citizens according to Mohammed. Since they established their own state and it's much more powerful and prosperous than Muslim ones, ignorant people will look for some explanation. They won't want to find it in their own cultures, so they will blame the other for gaming the system somehow.

As for the burnt palestinain villages and the real grienvances, this is true. There has been a very dirty war going on there for over a hundred years. If a loved one is killed, this creates "real grievances." If someone's brother or father or child is killed then their family will hate the group responsible. That's just human nature. The burning villages are just one side of a war that has been waged by dirty means. There are examples of how the Arabs and Palestinians use the same dirty tactics. Yet one can take this "cycle of violence" explanation too far. The root of the problem is Arab Jew-hatred. I don't assume that any of this is not real. I just say that it's not legitimate.

Well yes the british created many states after WWI. And yes with much lobbying from an influencial zionist community in england evenually, what would have been the palestinian state got divided into two states. While the whole time, jew were illegally immigrating into the territory.

The Balfour Declaration is from 1919. It states the British intention to create a homeland for Jews, without prejudice to the Arabs, on their "mandate." It's true that the Jewish lobby was responsible for this. Jews in Palestine had fought the Ottoman armies in WWI; Lord Rothschield was an important Jewish financier in England and he was a leader of the Zionist movement. But the Arabs had their own lobby—remember Lawrence of Arabia? They had also fought the Ottoman armies in WWI. The idea was for them to share the territory. But you should know that the territory I'm referring to here—in 1919—was today's Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel. The British later partitioned this territory into what became Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank.

The "jew" was violating British law by immigrating during and after WWII—not before—because they had nowhere else to go if they didn't want to stay in Europe where their families had just been systematically murdered and their property stolen from them. Still, for obvious reasons, there was no significant immigration during the war years. To hold them responsible for being law-breakers at this point is the same as admitting that you're an anti-Semite—in the "polite society" sense I've explained above.

I use the term "so-called Palestinians" to refer to Arabs who lived in the area before anyone ever thought there was such a thing as a Palestinian nation. To call these people "Palestinians" when talking about any period before the 1960s is an historical fallacy. It would be like calling the people living in Central America before 1821 "Mexicans." Mexico didn't exist until 1821. They were called "Arabs" back then, as they had been for centuries. The so-called Palestinian demand was originally that the state of Israel, along with the West Bank, be annexed to Syria. That was how the territory had been divided under the Ottomans.

The Jews as a group never left or got expelled from Palestine, even after the Roman conquest, although many Jews did leave or were expelled. I have no idea of how many were in either group and I don't think you do either. Some stayed. But they didn't have their own state anymore. That's the whole point of the "Zionist project" as Freddie likes to call it.

Well thatts great, full aproval from a tyrannical empire. "and bought land from it rightful owners" , ok, nothing to see here, moving on..

The Ottomans weren't all that tyrannical, like Saddam Hussein or Stalin. They were a monarchy but people still had some basic freedoms, like land ownership. It was tyrannical enough to require that Jews get permission to by it, though. They couldn't just hand over the money and get a contract without the approval of the grand vizier. So they did. But then they bought it legally from its rightful owners. Another way to put it is that the so-called Palestinians sold the land to Jews, with government approval.

This doesn't explain how the Jews acquired all the territory in today's state of Israel. I never said it did. I was talking about how the Jews immigrated to Palestine from Europe before WWI. Later, of course, Israel acquired territory by wars. These wars were always defensive—Arabs attacked the state of Israel to destroy it. Considering this, it's only fair that if a country, or a group of countries, attack another one, then the losers should pay some kind of price for losing. This has happened all the time and nobody thinks of it as "stealing." For example, when Germany lost WWI, they lost the Rhineland to France. Back then, this was thought of as being only fair.

I admit that there were people ethnically-cleansed by Israel during the '48-'49 war. I agree that this should be called "stealing." But ethnic cleansing was going on all over Europe in the post WWII period. For example, millions of ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia. This doesn't justify Israel doing it, though it does put it in an historical context. These people—and their descendants—deserve compensation. This is what the UN resolutions call a "just solution" for the refugee problem. In 2000, Israel offered to give this compensation as well as to receive some 300,000 refugees. The Palestinian answer was "no." No counter offer. Just plain "no." The reason for this is found in Islamic law. It's a sin to sell so-called Islamic land to an infidel. Get it?

Fuck your center of development, for it sits upon the rubble of burnt palestinain villages.

I was talking about the so-called second wave of Jewish immigration to Palestine—before WWI—as my use of the term "Ottoman authorities" makes clear for any reader. In the nineteenth century, Palestine was known to one and all in the terms I've used. It had been neglected for centuries.

Jews established themselves in the coastal areas and in the north of today's state of Israel. These were relatively uninhabited until the Jews got there. Tel Aviv is an example of how they created a center of development. The Jews built it on top of a coastal swamp. This kind of development attracts people for the opportunities. Arabs were attracted. Therefore, some so-called Palestinians came there after the Jews. I have no idea about the precise numbers of people I'm talking about and neither does anyone else. Data simply don't exist.

The only argument for "theft" of the land is based on Judesim: Israel was given to the Jews by god and its a crime for it to be under muslim rule....

It's true that traditional Jewish belief includes Israel being the so-called promised land. It's in the bible, after all. Jews all over the world raised their glasses on Passover and said, "Next year in Jerusalem." But, you may be surprised to know, truly orthodox Jews do not recognize the state of Israel, even though they live there. In their reading of the bible, "next year" means that the Jews will return to Jerusalem at the end of time, at judgement day, etc etc.

Nobody ever believed that it was as crime to live under Muslim rule. Jews had been doing that for centuries. But for sure, Jews today everywhere believe that it's dangerous—to the point of being suicidal—to live under Muslim rule.

Zionism was and is a political movement. You can think of it as the Jewish version of nationalism. Like in all nationalistic movements, there is a legendary, or religious, aspect to it. But this doesn't change their essentially political nature, because they are about power and how to use it. There are a lot of non observant and even atheist Jews in Israel. Don't ask me how they stand it. I couldn't… because it's a theocracy.

ok maybe i was going to far here, but your going completely crazy, now i apparent want to kill every jew.

I didn't mean to imply that you wanted to exterminate the Jews. I only meant that if things had gone your way, Jews wouldn't have a state anywhere. I agree with the Zionists that without a state of their own, Jews face unacceptable risks to their security. I thought it was obvious that I was exaggerating when I said that they probably wouldn't exist on earth.

Wow, Freddie, please take control here

I second the motion.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Israel should fully respect the rights of all its citizens, and refrain from imposing religion on any one.
For the record, I don't think people realize that Arab-Israelis, as well as the Ultra-Orthodox are the two unique groups that 1) don't have to fight in the army and 2) receive a vastly disproportionate of government funds, in comparison to their contribution to government revenue. I understand why both groups might not want to fight in the military. However, neither group participates in Israel's national volunteering program, which is a robust and widespread alternative to the army, offered to people who cannot or choose not to participate in the military for a number of reasons. In other words, Israel-Arabs (not Palestinians) and the Ultra-Orthodox are unfairly priveleged minorities.
While I agree that Israel should not be a theocracy, this does not mean that it simply need be a "state of Jews." Ben-Gurion was an atheist, yet mandated that the Old Testament be taught in every public school as a historical and cultural document. Holidays are celebrated with festivals, ceremonial candle lighting, and the like. The problem to me has less to do with the Jewish things that the government does on Jewish holidays, but the things that it forbids others from doing (i.e. selling unleavened bread on Passover). The interesting discussion is not the whole Jewish State/State of Jews dichotomy, but more about the nuances of what is cultural and historical vs. what is religous. These are difficult issues when one considers Jews not just a religion, but an ethnic group with a cultural history independent from theism.