Israel at 60

Interesting how one can write an entire op/ed about the anniversary of Israel’s creation and not mention the word “Palestinian” once. “Palestine” gets one mention, in a quote from someone else — but there’s no indication that there were ever people who actually lived (or continue to live) in Palestine. They’re simply invisible.

The Nation does a better job in pointing out that this is indeed a somber anniversary, and that, like American society, the people of Israel remain deeply divided about their country’s leadership and the choices that leadership has made. They also remain deeply divided and conflicted about their own identities. There’s no question that the history (and ongoing reality) of persecution of and discrimination against Jews makes a strong moral case for the creation of a Jewish state. And the fact that Israel is home to 41 percent of the world’s Jews suggests that many Jewish people have themselves decided that such a state was needed.

But the creation of that state came at great expense, and its conservative leadership continues to place major roadblocks in the way of any sort of peace. The unwillingness to grapple with history — a history of moving onto someone else’s land, which Americans too share — leaves many wounds wide open. And the refusal to allow Palestinians to pick their own leadership and to define their own existence makes it impossible to accomplish anything. There are certainly huge numbers of extremists on both sides, and I’m often tempted to say “a pox on both their houses.” But there are enough people invested in some sort of equitable and human rights affirming solution that we shouldn’t give up hope quite yet — true justice may be impossible (and I’m not even sure what that would look like at this point), but an acceptable solution isn’t. Of course, that’s going to require some representations and voices other than the “Greater Israel” religious right-wingers and the Suicide Bomber stereotypes.

So I’m glad to see publications like The Nation highlighting the voices of people from the Palestinian diaspora. One thing Edward Said highlights in The Question of Palestine — and something that probably feels familiar to a lot of people in marginalized groups — is the media’s decisions to constantly talk about the Palestinian people instead of talking to them, or listening to them. So entire articles will be written about Israel/Palestine without a Palestinian voice. It’s nice to see The Nation countering that. Maybe one day the New York Times will follow suit.


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127 comments for “Israel at 60

  1. tenacitus
    May 12, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Oh boy I know some people will post here spoiling for a fight. Hope your lawschool finals are going well

  2. May 12, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Thank you Jill, this really needed to be said.

    I’ve had someone really important to me come into my life, and she is a Palestinian-American, and while I thought myself informed about what went on, much to my disgust, I found I hardly was. I have always supported Israel’s right to exist, but their actions as a state have often been deplorable, particularly in regards to Palestine. I don’t think the Palestinians have been angels either, but they are the oppressed ones here.

    So to have a ‘history’ of Israel written without mentioning Palestine is something I can only imagine occurring intentionally.

  3. Torgrim
    May 12, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Israel’s occupation is illegal. The apartheidwall must be destroyed, and Israel must withdraw!

    Boycott Israel!

    http://www.pacbi.org/

  4. May 12, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    true justice may be impossible (and I’m not even sure what that would look like at this point), but an acceptable solution isn’t

    This is an important point, I think. I worry about the extremists on both sides who seem to want to hold out for unrealistic perfect justice. On the other hand, it’s very easy for me, an outsider, to say, “Hey, abandon what you feel you’re entitled to — what you feel heaven cries out for — and settle for this.”

  5. NYguy
    May 12, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    I question how much of the lack of Palestinian voices in the mainstream media actually comes from sympathy for the Palestinians– how much do you think the average American would be persuaded by Hamas officials getting up and being quoted all the time saying vicious and vitriolic things about Jews? Giving the Palestinians a louder voice might only hurt their cause. Better to let more eloquent and educated foreigners extract the compelling elements of the Palestinian case than let them ramble on about Israelis inventing AIDS and orchestrating 9/11.

  6. Scott
    May 12, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for noting this atrocity. What happened to the Palestinians in 1948 is what today we would call “ethnic cleansing”. Arabs call it “nakba”, or catastrophe, the disposession and destruction of their society.

    It is noteworthy that in 1948, in addition to massacres, home razing, and pillaging, the Haganah (Zionist militia) soldiers were known to use rape as a weapon. The recent book “Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory” (praised by Judith Butler) details that fear of rape was one of the motivations of Arabs who fled Palestine (as opposed to being expelled at gunpoint, which also happened). Upon hearing stories of rape in neighboring towns, fearing it could happen to sisters, daughters, mothers, people fled, with the full intention of returning to their homes. Israeli historian Benny Morris noted that in further research in the IDF archives for his revised “Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem” that there were more acts of rape than they had known before. He recounted a story of a Beduoin girl who was gang-raped, kept hostage for several days, before soldiers finally killed her and buried her in the Negev desert to cover their crime.

    For Palestinian refugees, rape is a very sensitive issue, and they do not readily discuss these crimes. For the women who were victims to this, reliving these traumatic experiences is devastating enough. To make matters worse, there is shame associated with rape, as traditional Palestinian society is patriarchal. In 1948, few Palestinian women had access to education, and thus their view of themselves and their position in their society leads them to think “no one will believe me” or “this is too shameful”. Still, a recurring motif (and code word) from different accounts is “we left to protect the women” or “we left for the honor of our daughters”.

    Of course, sadly, 1948 is not the only wartime example of rape used as a weapon, and it is by no-means exclusive to the Haganah. But it is worth bearing in mind when we see all the celebrations of the founding of Israel, and sycophantic praise from our politicians and candidates in both parties. An honest look at the daily realities of Palestians and how they got into that predicament is the first step toward lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

    For further info: http://www.palestineremembered.com/

  7. Charity
    May 12, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    NYguy, is your post a (bad) joke?

  8. exholt
    May 12, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Even mentioning the name used by one’s opponent in a territorial dispute is considered legitimacy of their points….something which has existed in many other territorial disputes. To claim complete legitimacy, none must be accorded to the opponent….including the usage of their terms.

    For instance, it really irks many Chinese when international publications use the term Senkaku Islands, the Japanese term to describe the disputed islands as that is seen as legitimizing Japan’s claims to those disputed territories…especially when they see a link between acquisition of those territories and Japan’s colonial legacy. I’m also betting many Japanese, especially the right-wing nationalists feel the same way when international or Chinese publications use the term Diaoyu Tai to denote the same disputed territories.

    As a result, I can understand why many Palestinians refuse to acknowledge the term “Israel” as doing so may legitimize the Jewish state in their eyes…..or the Israelis refusing to acknowledge the term “Palestine” as that may not only legitimize their claims over the disputed territories, but also call the very legitimacy of their state’s foundation into question.

    As you’ve said, I also do not see an easy solution to the dispute. Though I have a lot of friends on both sides of this dispute and I have done some reading on this issue, I avoid weighing in on their debates because the level of rancor that usually results and my limited knowledge would usually mean the conversation devolves into a vicious ad hominem shouting match I want to have no part of.

  9. exholt
    May 12, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    I should add that the very polarizing nature of this topic was one major factor in causing several friends of mine to drop out of Middle Eastern Studies graduate programs…regardless of who they happened to be or their position on the dispute.

    They complained of having professors who strongly insisted on the correctness of their positions….whether pro-Palestinian or Pro-Israeli…which caused my friends to be fed up that the graduate programs were effective browbeating indoctrination sessions rather than the preparation for academic research in the field as they had hoped.

  10. sophonisba
    May 12, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Upon hearing stories of rape in neighboring towns, fearing it could happen to sisters, daughters, mothers, people fled

    Lots of people, being themselves sisters, daughters, or mothers, probably fled in fear for themselves, too.

    Palestinian women: also people.

  11. It' so nice to be so lazy
    May 12, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Nice lazy post. Here’s something else that you may wish to discuss:

    donate to the red cross

    It turns out there are people, women, children, grandmothers, nieces, aunts, granddaughters that are dying now in Burma and China.

    Let’s donate there, and then we can get back to our Jew bash, eh?

  12. May 12, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Let’s donate there, and then we can get back to our Jew bash, eh?

    Oh please. Can you show me where I bashed Jews? Because I would love to see it.

  13. tenacitus
    May 12, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Unfortunately the only person beibng lazy here is Its’ So Nice To Be Lazy

  14. May 12, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    (i posted this before but I think it either got eaten or went into the mod que, if b) just delete this one)

    Jill makes a really good point about listening to the voices of Palestinians and what a radical step it is for Palestinians simply to say publicaly that they exist.

    So here’s some Palestinian women bloggers:
    no snow here
    raising yousuf and noor
    from gaza with love
    may hem

  15. May 12, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Just to clarify, It’s So Nice To Be Lazy, I’m not trying to be dismissive here. This is a thoroughly complicated issue, and no brief blog post could do it justice (nor satisfy everyone involved). I realize that my perspective is going to displease a lot of people — largely because I do think there’s a case to be made for a Jewish state, where some of the most persecuted people in the history of the world can find solace and safety; but also because I see that the policies that have been put into place by the Israeli government are incredibly problematic, and the establishment of Israel came at great human cost. That isn’t the same thing as saying that a Jewish state shouldn’t exist or that Israel is always in the wrong. And I really refuse to believe that criticizing the actions of a nation’s leadership are tantamount to hating an entire religious/ethnic group.

  16. exholt
    May 12, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Oh please. Can you show me where I bashed Jews? Because I would love to see it.

    Unless it is a random person looking to get a rise from someone, I’ve encountered too many Israelis….especially the right-wing ones who see any acknowledgment of Palestine and Palestinian people, much less an actual discussion of them as an attack on Israel and hence, all Jews.

    To be fair, I’ve also encountered many Palestinians who feel the same whenever people acknowledge Israel and Israelis.

  17. May 12, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Unless it is a random person looking to get a rise from someone, I’ve encountered too many Israelis….especially the right-wing ones who see any acknowledgment of Palestine and Palestinian people, much less an actual discussion of them as an attack on Israel and hence, all Jews.

    To be fair, I’ve also encountered many Palestinians who feel the same whenever people acknowledge Israel and Israelis.

    Yes, it does go both ways. And I can understand it — anti-Semitism is rarely as straight-forward as “I hate Jews.” Ever see that West Wing episode where the Christian Crusader woman comments on Toby’s “New York sense of humor”? Well… anti-Semitism is often couched in terms like that. And certainly some criticisms of Israel have anti-Semitic under-(or over)tones. Ditto criticisms of Palestinians and Palestine — the Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment is often rank.

    But that said, there are a lot of people who conflate any sort of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, and that’s entirely ridiculous. Criticizing the Israeli government is not the same as criticizing the Jewish people (and considering that lots of Jewish people and Israeli citizens criticize the Israeli government, I don’t think this is a particularly novel idea). Israel is a country that has made some really terrible foreign and domestic policy decisions. It has been right alongside the U.S. in sanctioning atrocities like torture and indefinite detention in the “war on terror.” Like this country, it has had some very problematic right-wing (and even supposedly “moderate”) leaders who have made some terrible decisions. Doesn’t make Israelis bad people any more than George Bush makes me a bad person, but it still does open up the country itself for criticism.

  18. Scott
    May 12, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    sophonisba says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 9:18 pm – Edit

    Upon hearing stories of rape in neighboring towns, fearing it could happen to sisters, daughters, mothers, people fled

    Lots of people, being themselves sisters, daughters, or mothers, probably fled in fear for themselves, too.

    Palestinian women: also people.

    Yes, that is what I meant: “people”, i.e., Palestinians collectively.

    But yes, I should have chosen a more gender-neutral wording. Your point is well taken. Thanks.

  19. Bitter Scribe
    May 12, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    There are certainly huge numbers of extremists on both sides, and I’m often tempted to say “a pox on both their houses.”

    I succumbed to that temptation a long time ago. I’m disgusted with the Palestinians and other Arabs who think their well-nurtured grievances give them the right to slaughter every Israeli (and American) they can get their hands on. And I’m equally disgusted with the Israelis, who are every bit as vindictive and violent as their enemies, and can be whining hypocrites to boot.

  20. May 12, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    the refusal to allow Palestinians to pick their own leadership

    Not sure what you meant here — Palestinians did hold elections in which Hamas won. By “refusal to allow” did you mean the refusal to negotiate with the Hamas government?

  21. May 12, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    I found this post interesting because a few days ago a read a post on essentially the same topic by Phoebe Maltz (a brilliant if iconoclastic blogger) making the precise opposite point: attacking the sentiment that “if you mention Israel’s independence and don’t mention all the mean, mean things the country does, then you are obviously some kind of extremist.” In other words, that it is “impossible to say anything unqualified about the country,” every positive statement, no matter what the context, has to be counter-balanced with “but Israel does awful things as well.” It’s a really good post.

    Should we promote this sort of default setting of public acknowledgment? I’m genuinely not sure. I think I lean against it, because ultimately it kills discourse: I’m reminded of Rep. Charlie Rangel’s statement when asked (during some media appearance) to condemn some anti-Semitic statement by Louis Farrakhan. He obliged, but then said that Black leaders shouldn’t have to carry a punch card indicating the last time they’ve criticized Farrakhan. At the same time, a default of public acknowledgment can help assuage concerns that one’s legitimate interests are being neglected. I know I get really annoyed when pro-Palestinian advocates gloss over the propagation and enactment of anti-Semitic ideology and violence amongst their cohorts. I’m sure they feel likewise when pro-Israel speakers don’t pay due accord to the fact that the denial of Palestine’s right to self-determination is not a tenable moral position. But even then, I feel like a default of acknowledgment will come off as pro forma, and won’t accomplish anything useful (I’ll be honest, Jill, saying that “there’s a case to be made for a Jewish state” felt pro forma to me right here). And in general, few people are willing to make a two-way street: those who want pro-Israel speakers to always mention the legitimate grievances of the Palestinians do not make similar demands of Palestinian speakers, and vice versa (for example, I didn’t see you make such a point in this post, Jill). And without a doubt, whatever the merits of adopting a standard of default acknowledgment or not, asymmetrically applying the standard is the most dangerous of all: both because it creates a differential burden and because it re-entrenches feelings of victimization.

  22. May 12, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    That’s a good point, David, but there are serious power differentials at play which I think need to be taken into consideration. Does every pro-Israel comment have to be tempered with a recognition of Israeli wrongs? No, of course not. But on the Israeli side, you have an extremely powerful government, with a powerful support system here in the United States, up against a marginalized and dispersed people who rarely get their voices heard. I don’t think you can symmetrically apply a standard when the power structure is incredibly asymmetrical to begin with.

  23. May 12, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    I don’t think the power asymmetry is quite as one sided as you describe. Write the narrative and tell the tale, as they say, and it’s not at all difficult to write the narrative where the asymmetry flows in the other direction.

    It’s not, after all, as if the Palestinians don’t have powerful allies. The Arab World (which possesses considerable economic/diplomatic leverage on the United States) would be the obvious one. One might argue that it’s a little bizarre to say that Israel is advantaged from a state of affairs where they are utterly dependent on the US for, well, everything, while the US is — at the very least — in a complicated relationship with many Arab states from whom we get all that oil. Who’s got the leverage advantage here? Tack on the entire UN, which is nearly universally aligned against Israel to the point where anti-Semitism does begin to come seriously into play (the Conference of the Islamic States is huge in the non-aligned bloc, the non-aligned bloc is huge in the general assembly, ergo….), and you’ve got a significant amount of countervailing pressure against what the United States throws up in Israel’s favor. And of course, Israel, though certainly possessing a very strong military, is still the size of Vancouver Island, which makes it inherently vulnerable even if every IDF soldier was a reconstituted clone of William Wallace.

    So do I think that Israeli interests are actually in an asymmetrically disadvantaged state vis-a-vis Palestinian interests? No — I still think on the level of states they still have the advantage, though not to the microbe versus Goliath degree it’s made out. But ask me if I think Jewish interests are asymmetrically disadvantaged as against Arab interests — there I think Arabs have the definitive advantage in the global arena. Jewish voices — particularly those outside very narrow Israel lobby channels who can get through the side door of American diplomatic efforts for Israel — are systematically marginalized in the global arena, the Durban Conference being just one very extreme example.

    The point being: the dynamics of power here are complicated and cross-cut. Simply labeling one group The Oppressor and the other The Victim, and writing policy accordingly, is going to lead you astray, and isn’t going to end up being consistent with a liberationist agenda for all persons. When the risks for Jews isn’t “loss of privilege” but the sanctioning of organized anti-Jewish violence, justifying differential burdens based on “asymmetrical positioning” isn’t going to cut it.

  24. May 12, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Which is why, incidentally, I still occasionally check out that “stand in solidarity with all women” post in the hopes that you’ll put up a brief notice informing your readers that the “Holocaust” threat was based off a mistranslation (not a deliberate slander, not bad faith slur, just a mistake). Because it’s not the type of mistake whose damage is negligible in relation to the vast amount of power its acting against. It’s the type of mistake whose propagation on respectable blogs such as yours ends up as part of the rationalizing ideology that justifies killing Jews. Killing me. That right there should be a hint that the asymmetry isn’t a pronounced as you may think.

  25. May 12, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    I realize that my perspective is going to displease a lot of people — largely because I do think there’s a case to be made for a Jewish state, where some of the most persecuted people in the history of the world can find solace and safety; but also because I see that the policies that have been put into place by the Israeli government are incredibly problematic, and the establishment of Israel came at great human cost.

    i think the problem here is with the concept of a jewish state itself. there have been lots of other groups who have been persecuted throughout history, the kurds, the mayans, indigineous groups scattered about in latin america and africa and australia and russia, but that doesn’t mean they deserve a state of their own. jews are living peacefully and happily and successfully right here in america despite this being a secular, gentile state.

    ethnocentric states are an archaic concept and the time for them sailed with woodrow wilson.

    israel as a state for arabs and jews is really the only solution to this mess. no one would’ve been opposed to that if that was what happened in the very beggining. but jews immediately declared independence from the majority and they sought to create their own state – if that means kicking people out of their homes in order to have “your people” move in, then so be it.

    the simple rule of thumb for seeing this the way it is is to simply see who is bulldozing who out of land. are arabs kicking jews out to make room for arab homes? or are jews kicking arabs out to make room for jews?

    that’s what this comes down to for me.

    oh, and welcome back.

  26. May 12, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Which is why, incidentally, I still occasionally check out that “stand in solidarity with all women” post in the hopes that you’ll put up a brief notice informing your readers that the “Holocaust” threat was based off a mistranslation (not a deliberate slander, not bad faith slur, just a mistake). Because it’s not the type of mistake whose damage is negligible in relation to the vast amount of power its acting against. It’s the type of mistake whose propagation on respectable blogs such as yours ends up as part of the rationalizing ideology that justifies killing Jews. Killing me. That right there should be a hint that the asymmetry isn’t a pronounced as you may think.

    This is also a fair point. I added an update to the Open Letter post saying that the Holocaust threat was a mistranslation.

  27. May 12, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    the simple rule of thumb for seeing this the way it is is to simply see who is bulldozing who out of land. are arabs kicking jews out to make room for arab homes? or are jews kicking arabs out to make room for jews?

    Well, except Jews had pretty much been kicked out of everywhere for a very long time — or if not kicked out, at least pushed into ghettos or otherwise marginalized. So while I also wish there wasn’t a need for ethnocentric states, I can understand why Jewish people felt like they weren’t going to get the same protections as other citizens unless they had their own place. I don’t like that that’s the reality, but there it is.

  28. May 12, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    ethnocentric states are an archaic concept and the time for them sailed with woodrow wilson.

    Again, I agree in theory, but then why just focus on Israel? There are a whole lot of Islamic states out there, and states that, if not explicitly Christian, certainly cater strongly to a Christian majority. Most of Europe is quite attached to ethno-centric conception of the state. The United States’ conception of ourselves as a melting pot is a minority viewpoint as far as nations’ self-assessment goes.

  29. exholt
    May 12, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Ever see that West Wing episode where the Christian Crusader woman comments on Toby’s “New York sense of humor”? Well… anti-Semitism is often couched in terms like that. And certainly some criticisms of Israel have anti-Semitic under-(or over)tones.

    No, I never watched the West Wing and I would not have picked up on the “New York sense of humor” or other such couched terms. When I have heard that in the past, I just chalked it up to the fact that they were referring to the person’s geographic origins.

    Highly ironic considering I attended a high school with a sizable Jewish population and took several courses on 20th century genocides in high school and college…including those dealing with European antisemitism which led up to Nazi genocide against Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and other hated minority/dissident groups. If anything, I’ve often wondered whether such old anti-semitic stereotypes are a form of projection for European/American anti-Semites to avoid having to acknowledge their own flaws…

    Unfortunately, I have witnessed the old anti-semitic stereotypes of “greedy devious Jews” expressed by former acquaintances, and some classmates/neighbors. Some of them actively supported Palestinian causes mainly to “stick it to the Jews”. Fortunately, they are a tiny minority of those supporting Palestinian causes…though that overly vocal minority has often made the rest look bad through association. What’s just as scary is seeing Evangelical Christian friends of mine who otherwise have antisemitic attitudes support Israel’s policies 100% because it is fulfilling “biblical prophesy”.

  30. May 12, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    What’s just as scary is seeing Evangelical Christian friends of mine who otherwise have antisemitic attitudes support Israel’s policies 100% because it is fulfilling “biblical prophesy”.

    Ooooh those guys are my favorites. They love Israel so much that they want all the Jews to go back there — so that God can come down and smite them all and bring the Christians to Heaven. What’s scary is that it’s those guys who have the ear of our current president.

  31. exholt
    May 13, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Argh….forgot to include the ex- prefix over the evangelical friends. Am no longer friends with most of them due to their hypocritical attitudes on this and other issues.

  32. May 13, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Again, I agree in theory, but then why just focus on Israel? There are a whole lot of Islamic states out there, and states that, if not explicitly Christian, certainly cater strongly to a Christian majority. Most of Europe is quite attached to ethno-centric conception of the state. The United States’ conception of ourselves as a melting pot is a minority viewpoint as far as nations’ self-assessment goes

    well i’m not focused on israel, but just because other nations are ethnocentric doesn’t make the concept right. israel had the misfortune of being created during a time when the whole world was watching, and what the world saw wasn’t pretty. israelis might say that america was built on native american villages, but there weren’t any geneva conventions back then, there wasn’t an ICC native americans could go complain to. if america tried pulling that crap now, you’d bet every other nation would be furious about it.

    but i do believe is israel is exceptional and deserves this scorn because it is one of the only nations in the world that does not have permanent borders. so what exactly is israel? what exactly do they want recognized? no one knows. and it continues to expand and continues to push others out in order to mantain it’s precious demographics.

    i think personally, the concept of an ethnocentric state is severely flawed, but no one wouldve had a problem with israel if there was no one else there. if they didn’t have to kick people out in order to recreate their ancient empire, then this wouldn’t be a problem. zionists love to use that inane mark twain quote about how palestine was empty, well mark twain was a bigot who despised muslims and who also claimed that turkey and damascus were barren as well.

  33. May 13, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Well, except Jews had pretty much been kicked out of everywhere for a very long time — or if not kicked out, at least pushed into ghettos or otherwise marginalized.

    that’s a good myth that doesnt stand the test of time. jews existed relatively peacefully and prosperously throughout the ME before israel was created, they lived well in spain and they lived well in the ottomon empire.

    and as i said earlier, with the existence of the modern secular nation state, jews have been protected and safeguarded in europe and america despite living as minorities. so why did israel have to have some sort of special status?

    So while I also wish there wasn’t a need for ethnocentric states, I can understand why Jewish people felt like they weren’t going to get the same protections as other citizens unless they had their own place. I don’t like that that’s the reality, but there it is.

    let me just say finally that i do actually sympathize with jews, i’m actually pretty fond of judaism and i think they definitely got a rough deal in history. but undoing the injustices against them shouldn’t be at the expense of another people.

    and what’s worse, is that it was europeans who did the injustice, but it’s non-europeans who must pay for their crimes.

  34. May 13, 2008 at 12:34 am

    and as i said earlier, with the existence of the modern secular nation state, jews have been protected and safeguarded in europe

    Wanna re-think that one?

  35. May 13, 2008 at 12:41 am

    There are a whole lot of Islamic states out there, and states that, if not explicitly Christian, certainly cater strongly to a Christian majority.

    and lemme just add to my response to this:

    a muslim in pakistan cannot become a citizen of saudi arabia just because he is muslim. a french christian cant become swiss just because he shares the same religion and maybe even the same ethnicity.

    israel is the only nation that has a right to citizenship for anyone who shares it’s religious/ethnic majority. virtually any jew can claim israeli citizenship.

    and it all comes down to demographics. israeli jews know that palestinians and israeli arabs have higher birthrates, and that is why they advocate a two-state solution and that’s why they want more jews to immigrate there.

  36. May 13, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Wanna re-think that one?

    okay touche.

    i should’ve said modern, secular democracies.

  37. May 13, 2008 at 12:51 am

    Jill: thanks for the update — I appreciate it greatly.

    Morningstar: that’s a good myth that doesnt stand the test of time. jews existed relatively peacefully and prosperously throughout the ME before israel was created, they lived well in spain and they lived well in the ottomon empire.

    and as i said earlier, with the existence of the modern secular nation state, jews have been protected and safeguarded in europe and america despite living as minorities. so why did israel have to have some sort of special status?

    That’s misleading, at best. Certainly, Jews living outside of Europe were reasonably well-situated compared to their European peers in the middle ages (though they were still second-class citizens, and “better than the Inquisition” is not a tough hurdle to leap). But that trend started to change for the worst starting in the 19th century, and by the time Israel was established in the late 1940s the Jewish position in the Arab world was precarious at best, with significant outbreaks of anti-Semitic violence regularly occurring (the massive flight of Jews from the Arab World contemporaneous with the establishment of Israel would seem to indicate that the Jews there did not feel as safe or secure as you would have us believe). Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders during WWII explicitly supported the Holocaust (indeed, sometimes actively intervened to assist), and of course by failing to take in Jewish refugees (like the rest of the world), Arab nations provided the impetus for the “Final Solution” (so named because the prior solutions, namely, exiling the Jews, failed precisely because no one would take them).

    Meanwhile, your idealistic assertion that Jews are safe now in any modern secular nation state is really ahistorical. First of all, a huge portion of anti-subordination theory is dedicated to explicating how the universalist ideal of the enlightenment state ends up replicating patterns of domination and subordination — and it did so for Jews as well. Even in theory, the universalist model provides inadequate protection for those who deviate from the “universal” (see my article, When Separation Doesn’t Work: The Religion Clause as an Anti-Subordination Principle, for more on this). Second, in practice the discourse that created the enlightenment ideal was unapologetically anti-Semitic — it explicitly cast itself and supplemented older Christian anti-Semitic ideology as in combat against Jewish deviance (see here for an example). Just as liberal universalism casts “White” and “male” as the standard by which all else is measured (and found wanting), it does likewise for a Christian/secularist hybrid, by which Judaism is measured and found wanting. Hence we get the Holocaust, which was carried out by a secular nation state after all operating within a universalist framework by which the impurities of the volk — all that which was not in accord with the universal ideal of Aryanism — had to be purged. Which leads to the third problem: historically, it’s not true either that the secular nation state necessarily protects Jews, nor is it true that a period of relative harmony will not devolve back into anti-Semitic violence. The first is shown to be demonstratively false by the Holocaust, not just the act of killing but the refusal to take in refugees — even though Jews in America at the time were safe, Jews don’t only live in America — by extension, even if liberal universalism protects Jews in location X, that’s small consolation to all the Jews who don’t live in X. More importantly, there is no guarantee that the protection will hold. A historian once noted that, if you told a turn of the 20th century European that in 40 years a European state would carry out a mass genocide against the Jews, he would not be at all surprised — but he’d assume it’d be in France. Germany at the time was a pretty friendly place to be Jewish. It didn’t last. There’s no guarantee it will ever last where we are dependent on the magnanimity of others. You’re guessing, off very flimsy evidence, that the secular nation state will protect us. But it’s not your choice to make. We deserve the right to have, for once, our lives in our own hands.

  38. May 13, 2008 at 12:53 am

    I apologize for these lengthy posts. But I very much see my project as a progressive anti-subordination blogger (and hopefully future academic!) as incorporating the perspective and story of Jews into the broader narrative of anti-subordination practice. From my vantage point, there is a huge gap here. Right now, we’re simply not included in the story, and it means that — in the political project that I think holds the most promise for liberating oppressed people — Jews are largely being left behind (if not kicked to the curb outright).

  39. May 13, 2008 at 12:59 am

    i should’ve said modern, secular democracies.

    I don’t want to quibble over details here, but Jews were treated quite badly in much of Europe before the Holocaust. And Germany was a democracy — Hitler was elected, after all. And yes, he took power after that, but modern secular democracies haven’t been panaceas for Jewish people. And much of Europe was all too willing to turn its collective back to the Jews when Hitler rose to power.

    Yes, there have been some societies that have been open and accepting of Jewish populations, and where Jews have thrived. But that is not the rule. And if you travel to the Middle East today, there is a whole lot of hostility towards Jewish people — even in relatively secular places. You can argue that that’s the result of Israel’s existence and the occupation of Palestinian territory, but I really don’t think that’s the whole story.

    Israel is also not the only country that models its citizenship laws on bloodlines. I think Israel’s citizenship laws are very flawed and very problematic, but there are other countries that consider one’s ethnicity — based on parentage and blood lineage — when regulating citizenship. That doesn’t justify Israel’s citizenship laws that exclude certain people for what I think are bad reasons; it’s just to say that while their citizenship laws are unique, they are not completely out of line with what other countries do.

    Anyway, I do agree that ideally, we wouldn’t need nationalistic or ethno-centric lines dividing nations. But reality is not ideal.

  40. May 13, 2008 at 1:00 am

    I apologize for these lengthy posts.

    Nah, no apologies necessary. It’s an interesting (and necessary) conversation — and it’s been very enlightening, at least for me. I appreciate everything you’ve added to it.

  41. May 13, 2008 at 1:01 am

    okay i might as well finish this up, since i feel like i should have some closing argument here.

    currently, israel has no bill of rights, it has no constitution, it has no permanent borders. what it needs all of those things in one-state that clearly defines shows arab and jews as equal before the law. there will be a lot of issues that need to be hammered out, but fortunately, other nations like belgium already have a framework in place. perhaps a federation where the two groups would take care of their own affairs but acknowledges one central government.

    the idea that jews must be separate in order to be protected is the single biggest obstacle to peace in this region. this separation has caused countless homes to be destroyed and the subjugation of millions of people.

    so that’s my conclusion.

    i know it won’t happen, but it’s the only thing that will work.

    peace.

  42. May 13, 2008 at 1:05 am

    But that trend started to change for the worst starting in the 19th century, and by the time Israel was established in the late 1940s the Jewish position in the Arab world was precarious at best, with significant outbreaks of anti-Semitic violence regularly occurring (the massive flight of Jews from the Arab World contemporaneous with the establishment of Israel would seem to indicate that the Jews there did not feel as safe or secure as you would have us believe).

    i think you just explained the reason here.

    things were going well until israel declared that any jew anywhere can be a citizen. that immediately created a fifth column and made people question jewish loyalty.

    israel has spread anti-semitism and animosity against jews in a way that few others could’ve dreamed.

  43. May 13, 2008 at 1:12 am

    I don’t want to quibble over details here, but Jews were treated quite badly in much of Europe before the Holocaust. And Germany was a democracy — Hitler was elected, after all. And yes, he took power after that, but modern secular democracies haven’t been panaceas for Jewish people. And much of Europe was all too willing to turn its collective back to the Jews when Hitler rose to power.

    okay jill rather than go back and forth with the secular democracy thing-

    do you believe that every persecuted group deserves their own state if that’s what they want?

    or is there some sort of rule of thumb we’re supposed to work with?

    i’m not being flippant, i just think it’s idealistic and unjust to say jews should be compensated for their persecution with a state of their own, when literally thousands of other ethnic groups do not get such special treatment.

  44. May 13, 2008 at 1:20 am

    (sorry for constantly posting right after myself. maybe there’s a way i can join this all in one post??)

    anyways, david, you said:

    There’s no guarantee it will ever last where we are dependent on the magnanimity of others. You’re guessing, off very flimsy evidence, that the secular nation state will protect us. But it’s not your choice to make. We deserve the right to have, for once, our lives in our own hands.

    well david, answer me this: are jews safer in a jewish state like israel or are they safer in a secular nation like america?

    did creating a jewish nation in a land full of non-jews really make jews better off? or did the reverse happen?

  45. May 13, 2008 at 1:28 am

    do you believe that every persecuted group deserves their own state if that’s what they want?

    No, I don’t. I believe that every state has an obligation to protect its citizens, and to establish citizenship in a fair and equitable way that doesn’t marginalize minority groups. I believe states have obligations to protect non-citizens, too.

    I also believe that the international community needs to work together (and to cede some degrees of national sovereignty) to promote human rights ideals, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. So in the meantime, I respect the actions that minority groups take to protect themselves, including the desire to have their own nation-state, and the desire to re-claim land that was theirs. I respect those actions right up to the point where they do harm to someone else — and that’s where I think Israel has gone wrong, repeatedly. Palestinians have gone wrong on that count, too.

    But all this theory and idealism aside, the reality is that Israel exists. It is not going to go away. We can argue til the cows come home over whether or not its establishment was just, but that isn’t going to change anything. Of course, I think that the history has to be discussed honestly and openly for any real progress to be made, but there’s a difference between recognizing your history and dwelling on it to the point where you can’t move forward. The reality is, Israel is there. And the Palestinian people are there, too — and they are a massive refugee population. Many of them live in terrible conditions; many of them have been scattered all over the world. It is impossible for them to live normal day-to-day lives — they have no guarantee that on any given day they can travel, go to work, visit family, get medical care, even get electricity. Their lives are kept ruthlessly unstable. They are understandably angry. It doesn’t do any good to assume that they’re going to go away, either.

    So I’m not suggesting that Israel has a moral high ground here. I do think that there is a moral case to be made for a Jewish state, but I’m not even sure that’s relevant to this particular conversation. I am simply arguing that Israel exists, Palestinians exist, and wishing the other away — or making broad theoretical arguments about the validity of ethnically/religiously homogeneous states — doesn’t do much of anything.

  46. May 13, 2008 at 1:38 am

    I think I can speak for a good 85% of Jews when I say that the creation of the state of Israel has made Jews better off. Physically, Jews are probably safer in America (though there’s no way to guarantee it indefinitely — it’s based on the goodwill of a demographic that doesn’t have a great track record on that score) because there is a significant supporting apparatus justifying anti-Jewish violence in Israel. But that’s easily counterbalanced by the facts that

    1) Jews worldwide are safer now that Israel exists compared to before, because we have place we can flee to if folks start up the killing again. Anti-Semitic violence (in Europe and elsewhere) predates the establishment of Israel, so it’s an ex post facto justification (indeed, you engage in some bizarre time warping, blaming the “Right of Return” law established after Israel’s founding in 1948 as causing, among other things, anti-Semitic riots in the 19th century and Palestinian leaders’ support for the Holocaust in 1943). If another Holocaust does break out, Jewish refugees will have a place to go. That type of security is irreplaceable.

    2) Jews in Israel are far closer to possessing the political and social metrics of human dignity that we should aspire to be granted to all persons than they are in America, where we remain quite marginalized. The benefits of autonomy and self-determination should not be underestimated. Unlike anywhere else (even New York City!), Jews are the norm in Israel. We get to be the baseline. I don’t believe that anyone should have to be the minority everywhere, and Israel provides that opportunity for Jews.

    Maybe you buy this argument. Maybe not. But again — it’s our decision, not yours. The days in which non-Jews have a free handle to determine the horizons of Jews — how safe we’re “allowed” to be, and how much killing we just have to suck up and take — are past.

  47. May 13, 2008 at 1:53 am

    thanks for explaining, but….

    I do think that there is a moral case to be made for a Jewish state, but I’m not even sure that’s relevant to this particular conversation.

    i think it is the conversation.

    i think that the number one obstacle to peace in this region is that israel insists on being a jewish state despite being surrounded by a non-jewish majority. if we’re talking reality here:

    the reality is that

    1) a palestinian state will never be viable. for one thing the west bank settlements will never be abandoned, the best israel was willing to offer was the barack plan, and that plan would’ve left a moth eaten w. bank riddled with checkpoints and jewish settler only roads.

    2) the only connection between gaza and the w. bank would be an underground tunnel, which means a nation that is barely trading within itself and a nation that will be dependent on israeli goodwill to remain connected.

    3) the palestinians do not have access to their own water resources, their own electricity, or even their own airspace. i do not believe that will change even with a state. they are next door to a superpower who can cut off these things on a whim.

    so 2 states will only lead to more animosity and more bloodshed. a viable palestinian state is impossible to create in these circumstances, and therefore, it’s something that shouldn’t even be attempted.

    I am simply arguing that Israel exists, Palestinians exist, and wishing the other away — or making broad theoretical arguments about the validity of ethnically/religiously homogeneous states — doesn’t do much of anything.

    in a way i do agree with this, but i don’t think israel or palestinians really exist. a state is defined by it’s ability to protect it’s own borders, as i mentioned before israel has none.

    maybe you’re saying the concept of israel as a jewish state will never go away because israel will never let go of that concept? that they will defend that concept through war so there’s nothing any of us can do about it?

    well yeah, but this reality isn’t going to last long because it isn’t tenable.

    israel wants to control the west bank and gaza without offering citizenship to these people because doing so would wreck it’s demographics. but israel already has a demographic problem within it’s own borders, arabs have more children then jews and with a couple decades might even overtake the jewish population.

    so what exactly are they fighting for right now? whatever it is, it’s a dangerous fantasy that has no place in the modern world.

  48. May 13, 2008 at 2:11 am

    in a way i do agree with this, but i don’t think israel or palestinians really exist. a state is defined by it’s ability to protect it’s own borders, as i mentioned before israel has none.

    i think this was kind of clumsy so i’ll explain before everyone jumps on me:

    the traditional definition of a state is of an entity that has sovereignty over a given area. since israel does not have permanent borders it is unclear what israel is and how it defines itself. it’s unclear if it plans on continuously expanding into the greater israel dream of the ancient times, or if it plans on going back into pre-1967 borders, or if itll go back to the original 1947 internationally recognized borders.

    israelis as a group exist and palestinians as a group exist, but until there are permanent borders it’s impossible to ask anyone to accept either side.

    if israel was permanently defined it would be more than tolerable to it’s neighbors, in fact, the entire arab league voted twice to recognize such a state and have normal relations with it. but israel rejected that because they did not want to withdraw to it’s 1967 borders.

    so no one knows what exactly israel is, and it’s unfair for people to demand that israel has a right to exist if people don’t know what they’re accepting.

  49. May 13, 2008 at 2:19 am

    Excellent post, Jill.

    Morningstar-

    that’s a good myth that doesnt stand the test of time. jews existed relatively peacefully and prosperously throughout the ME before israel was created, they lived well in spain and they lived well in the ottomon empire.

    and as i said earlier, with the existence of the modern secular nation state, jews have been protected and safeguarded in europe and america despite living as minorities. so why did israel have to have some sort of special status?

    israel has spread anti-semitism and animosity against jews in a way that few others could’ve dreamed.

    Yikes.

    Anti-semitism doesn’t work the way other forms of oppression work. Jews aren’t constantly and uniformly oppressed; we’re allowed to rise through the ranks of a society until we seem influential enough to be scapegoated for its problems. That’s why Adbusters blamed the Iraq war on Jewish neocons; that’s why the Dutch Islamophobic cartoons were countered with an antisemitic cartoon contest. And it’s also how people can form the idea that we brought our problems on ourselves with this crazy idea that we needed our own country.

  50. It' so nice to be so lazy
    May 13, 2008 at 2:25 am

    I’d say paragraph 1 and 3 are ignorant of history, presumptuous of what you think you know, and indicate your unwillingness to put yourself in the shoes of the people at the time. I’d say they are lazy statements made by an insulated and privileged woman 60 years after the fact.

    “Interesting how one can write an entire op/ed about the anniversary of Israel’s creation and not mention the word “Palestinian” once. “Palestine” gets one mention, in a quote from someone else — but there’s no indication that there were ever people who actually lived (or continue to live) in Palestine. They’re simply invisible.”

    Yes, because Jill, you cannot find any Israelis or Jews anywhere speaking about Palestineans.

    When your hated enemies the MRAs come over and ask why you don’t mention various times when men have been discriminated against the common answer, the answer from the FAQ is that this is Feminism, women first, and while you can understand the men’s plight at times, it is up to them to speak for themselves.

    So yes, in this one op-ed there is no mention of Palestinians. And the conclusions you are ready to draw about that? You don’t apply them to the neo-con Bill Kristol or the New York Times, you apply them to Israel and the Jews.

    That’s just paragraph 1.

    Like I said, Lazy and cheap.

    I’ll return you to Morningstar who at least is upfront with her bigotry.

  51. Margalis
    May 13, 2008 at 3:24 am

    I think I can speak for a good 85% of Jews when I say that the creation of the state of Israel has made Jews better off.

    How incredibly scientific sounding.

    Schraub’s post #23 above is purposely conflates Palestinians and Arabs in a way that smacks of racism and seeks to portray Israel and Palestinians as existing on roughly equal footing — an absurd notion. The Palestinians receive little support from Arab countries and most Arab countries have done very little to help Palestinian refugees. In fact most Arab countries actively discriminate against Palestinian refugees.

  52. exholt
    May 13, 2008 at 4:34 am

    currently, israel has no bill of rights, it has no constitution, it has no permanent borders. what it needs all of those things in one-state that clearly defines shows arab and jews as equal before the law. there will be a lot of issues that need to be hammered out, but fortunately, other nations like belgium already have a framework in place. perhaps a federation where the two groups would take care of their own affairs but acknowledges one central government.

    My goodness, that criterion has described many other nations in world history including some permanent members of the UN Security Council…Israel does not have a monopoly on those lacks as you seem to imply….

    i think you just explained the reason here.

    things were going well until israel declared that any jew anywhere can be a citizen. that immediately created a fifth column and made people question jewish loyalty.

    israel has spread anti-semitism and animosity against jews in a way that few others could’ve dreamed.

    As previous commenters have noted, this is a faulty reading of the history.

    Any cursory reading of Middle East history would show many anti-semitic massacres and harassment as early as the first decades of the 19th century.

    There was also the matter of many in the Arab world were sympathetic and even allied with the Nazis before and during WWII….including the brief occupation of the Iraqi government by Pro-Nazi politicians in 1941 until the British forces crushed them as part of their war against the Axis powers.

    In short, Arab/Muslim instigated anti-Jewish violence and harassment long predated the founding of Israel….or even the 20th century.

    As for who has done the most to spread antisemitism, that dubious award as far as I know still belongs to the Europeans…..especially considering how much of the Jewish stereotypes I’ve seen and heard about in the US and many other parts of the world could be traced to their European origins. Origins which are explained quite well in George L. Mosse’s “Toward The Final Solution: A History of European Racism”.

  53. Natalie
    May 13, 2008 at 5:12 am

    I’m a non-Jewish American living in Tel Aviv, and I’ve been here about three years working on my degree.

    I just wanted to point out that people aren’t silent about this debate in Israel. I think the international view on the issue masks the fact that there really are plenty of leftist Israelis and real variety of viewpoints on Israel/Palestine issues among Jewish Israelis, Palestinians and Arab Israelis.

    Of course the most extreme statements get the most airplay, but there really are a lot of people on both sides dedicated to finding a humane, agreeable solution. (Not that you suggested there aren’t, I just wanted to emphasize the point.

  54. Rafael
    May 13, 2008 at 5:36 am

    Interesting post, Jill. And thank you, David, for this series of illuminating and eloquent comments.

    And the refusal to allow Palestinians to pick their own leadership and to define their own existence makes it impossible to accomplish anything.

    The Palestinians have defined themselves as a people in the original Palestinian National Charter (1964) [article 6]. Their attempts to define their national heritage have been discredited as terroristic, which makes sense, seeing as the charter was drawn up by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a declared terrorist organization.

    I’m not arguing the Palestinian people’s right to define themselves, nor the necessity of such an act, but I’d like to drawn attention to an aspect of the problem which I think has been overlooked. I’m slightly puzzled as to how one can address the “Palestinian issue” without making any reference to the terrorist organizations which overshadow the vast majority of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people.

    Neighboring countries notwithstanding, the Palestinian population residing within Israel’s borders is currently divided and controlled by two terrorist organizations–the Hamas and the PLO. Most acts of oppression against the Palestinian people are actually general sanctions against factions of these organizations, which commit daily acts of sabotage in attempt to kill Israeli citizens (not necessarily Jews).

    Yes, these collective punishments are unjust and hurt innocents. Yes, they are counterproductive to the continued negotiations for peace. However, seeing as terrorists have infiltrated pretty much all layers of the Palestinian population and, indeed, constitute a respectable part of it, no other solution seems forthcoming (aside from sending Israeli troops to pick out terrorists from these regions with a pair of tweezers, which the government actually does, but remember it then has to deal with the outraged cries of bereaved families whose sons and daughters have been killed defending Palestinians. This does not make for good public relations).

    The situation is a sad one, and excruciatingly complex. Currently the Palestinian people have a number of leaders, some of which have the support of the people and some of which have the support of foreign countries like America, on which Israel is very much reliant. Negotiations for ceasefire with one faction means cutting off relations with the other, and vice versa, so no state of absolute quiet can realistically be reached. It’s all very nice to say “oppression should be stopped, let both sides have their say”, but the reality is that there are a lot more sides than two, and the main concern is to have as few people killed as possible, to which negotiation, unfortunately, is anathema.

    As you may have guessed, I’m an Israeli Jew, so I fully admit to being biased in these matters. I’m as liberal as they come, and yes, I want peace as much anyone else. De facto components do not allow for it, though, and oftentimes the big picture is obscured for all parties involved, especially outsiders. Mainly, I agree with Jill–it’s a tragic fact, but ideals do not a feasible reality make.

  55. little cabbage
    May 13, 2008 at 5:54 am

    I’d like to nod right along with David Schraub’s posts, for the most part, with one addition:

    let me just say finally that i do actually sympathize with jews, i’m actually pretty fond of judaism and i think they definitely got a rough deal in history.

    What, so we should be grateful that you’re “fond” of us? I think you’re coming from a place of good intentions, Morningstar, but stuff like the above reads like “I like black people! Some of my best friends are black!” to me. And I’m bristling at the use of a term like “rough deal” to mean “the institutionalised murder of a third of our population, including the near-extinction of two indigenous Jewish languages (Yiddish and Ladino) along with the wholesale extinction of hundreds of long-standing Jewish communities in Europe, not to mention the literal millennia of discrimination and killing before that”.

    Besides, it’s not for you to decide whether Israel has made us better off or worse off. And it’s also not for you to decide whether something is anti-Semitic or not.

    I am deliberately refraining here from posting the seemingly obligatory “Israel has done some horrible things too” discussed upthread.

  56. anonymous
    May 13, 2008 at 6:10 am

    Maybe you buy this argument. Maybe not. But again — it’s our decision, not yours. The days in which non-Jews have a free handle to determine the horizons of Jews — how safe we’re “allowed” to be, and how much killing we just have to suck up and take — are past.

    then why do US tax dollars go towards the oppression of Palestinians? why do US tax dollars go towards building a wall essentially cutting off an entire population? if it’s your decision, then…shouldn’t it be your money too?

    just sayin’.

  57. May 13, 2008 at 7:51 am

    So yes, in this one op-ed there is no mention of Palestinians. And the conclusions you are ready to draw about that? You don’t apply them to the neo-con Bill Kristol or the New York Times, you apply them to Israel and the Jews.

    What are you talking about? I did apply the conclusion that Palestinians are silenced by the media to the media. I began and ended the post with a reference to the New York Times, and contrasted them with the Nation — nowhere did I say that it’s the fault of Israel or Jews that Palestinian voices are left out of the conversation. I explicitly said that it’s the fault of the media. I did talk a little bit about the political issues involved, but on the point that Palestinians are silenced, the media got 100% of the blame. Again, if you can point to where I blamed Israel or Jews for that, I’ll give you a cookie. Jeez.

    Yes, because Jill, you cannot find any Israelis or Jews anywhere speaking about Palestineans.

    Um, not what I said. What I did say is that the media does not give a platform to Palestinians to discuss their own situation. This isn’t a phenomenon that I’m inventing; lots of other people with much more education in this area than I have pointed it out. Of course there are Jews and Israelis speaking about Palestine. I also made the point in Paragraph 3 that most moderate people are looking for an acceptable solution, and it’s the hard-liners on both sides who are mucking it up.

    I realize when writing about this issue that there are some people (again, on both sides) who are going to have impossible standards, and who are going to take the black-or-white, “you’re with us or you’re against us” approach. I happen to think that approach is crap when it comes to foreign policy, and I’m not going to take it even in a blog argument. So if you’re looking for me to say that Israel’s actions are always 100% just, and its creation caused no problems, and fucking William Kristol is totally on the money… you’ve come to the wrong place.

  58. May 13, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Maybe you buy this argument. Maybe not. But again — it’s our decision, not yours. The days in which non-Jews have a free handle to determine the horizons of Jews — how safe we’re “allowed” to be, and how much killing we just have to suck up and take — are past.

    Yes, it’s your decision, certainly. But I’m sorry, when did it being your decision make you immune from criticism? Your choice certainly, but the nature of that choice is still wrong, regardless of your right to make such, and as such, you will be criticised for it. The Wall is not a solution, it’s merely a temporary stop-gap that’s going to fail and merely in the interim continue to oppress and alienate the very people that you should be enlisting in pushing for peace.

    The oppression, hatred, persecution and violence that Jews have undoubtedly experienced in spades throughout history does not, and should not, excuse, or even be brought up as an argument for, the turning around of the Israeli state to oppress the Palestinians.

    I agree with the others here, it’s very easy to just go all Shakespearian with a pox on both houses here, but that would abdicate our responsibility as the international community to at least try to stop the oppression of minorities, as much as we often to fail at such.

  59. May 13, 2008 at 9:19 am

    I think if you look at the overall NYT coverage of Israel’s 60th, and not just the one token neocon column about it, you’ll find plenty of sympathy for the Palestinians. By the time Kristol’s column appeared, I’m pretty sure there was already a prominent article on the Times website about how Israeli Arabs see no reason to celebrate.

  60. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl
    May 13, 2008 at 9:55 am

    The Jews, the Zionists, the Israelis, we were taught to HATE them, but for me, little by little, I began to see thorugh it, that this, like so much else, was just theater. I got nothing against Palestinians of course, but there society is patriarchal and rife with mysogony, still, no worse than my own, better probably. But at quite an early age, being schooled as a Pakistani in Arab country X, I began to think, “These Palestinians, they’re Arabs, like the people who harass me here and spit on me cos I am Pakistani, why should they assume my support? And Kashmir, our own problem, or the Afghan refugees, what about us?” And then I began to resent the way the Palestinian issue is used to channel anger in Pakistan- our failed state, where women live in terror and struggle to survive, how artificial then to be bussed into Islamabad to stand in the street waving placards about people we know nothing much about and who probably regrad us with contempt. I have no ‘natural sympathy’ with them and despise the culture in which I first came to hear about their situation- rooted in holcaust denial and anti semitism. I make a point of NOT mentioning Israel-Palestine, and unlike Irshad Manji, the leading Pakistani feminist, I don’t state open admiration for Israel, I just got more important things to think about, especially haveing had this rammed down my throat to thepoint where rejectionism of further discussion seems quite logical. I THINK THE WHOLE WORLD IS BORED BY THIS ISSUE.

  61. May 13, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders during WWII explicitly supported the Holocaust (indeed, sometimes actively intervened to assist), and of course by failing to take in Jewish refugees (like the rest of the world), Arab nations provided the impetus for the “Final Solution” (so named because the prior solutions, namely, exiling the Jews, failed precisely because no one would take them).

    this is a really tired meme that must die.

    palestinians, muslim indians and algerians and iraqis fought in WWII alongside the british. the grand mufti’s siding with hitler was an attempt to side with someone who can get rid of the british for them, it was not an attempt to carry out the final solution. if you read hannah arendt’s “eichmann in jeruselum” you’ll see her conclusion (as well as others like bernard lewis) was that the mufti was not involved with eichmann and hitler’s final solution.

    tens of thousands of hindus and sikh’s joined hitler’s army during WWII not because they wanted to eradicate jews, but because they viewed hitler as the best chance they can get to overthrow the british.

    was there anti-jewish sentiment before israel was made? of course.

    the issue is did the arrival zionist settlers in the 19th century and the declaration of a jewish state increase anti-jewish sentiment? definitely. it made the ME and indeed the world more dangerous for jews.

    and just as an aside-

    it’s actually offensive to arabs to say call anti-jewish bigotry “anti-semitic” because arabs are semitic people as well. i myself have used the anti-semitic term, but it’s really an inappropriate word and especially silly since most jews in israel are ashkanazi, and not semitic people.

    and finally to get back on the relevant topic at hand:

    Maybe you buy this argument. Maybe not. But again — it’s our decision, not yours. The days in which non-Jews have a free handle to determine the horizons of Jews — how safe we’re “allowed” to be, and how much killing we just have to suck up and take — are past.

    here’s the thing david: no one would would really care if israel did it’s own things within it’s border. if it stayed within the confines of permanent borders i could care less about the country. i wouldn’t care if it’s a jewish state or a zulu state, i think it’s stupid to create ethnocentric states and ultimately unjust, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter to me. israel would figure it out on it’s own.

    but unfortunately, israel has no borders.

    as i mentioned upthread, the entire arab league has now offered twice to fully recognize israel if it has permanent borders, israel has flatout rejected these offers. it wants to be recognized as a state without boundaries and wants to mantain carte blanche in the west bank and gaza and lebanon.

    so this conversation would be very very different if israel was sitting there peacefully within it’s own borders and was leaving it’s neighbors alone. if i was saying that the concept of a jewish state is flawed, then maybe you can have a right to say: just leave us alone.

    but that’s not the reality, and you know it.

    I’ll return you to Morningstar who at least is upfront with her bigotry.

    excuse me?

  62. May 13, 2008 at 11:50 am

    I don’t believe that anyone should have to be the minority everywhere, and Israel provides that opportunity for Jews

    i don’t think you really believe such a thing.

  63. NYguy
    May 13, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I like how Morningstar just threw Lebanon in there as an aside as a territory Israel wants to run roughshod over. Lebanon has been in period civil war for the last twenty years, and theocrats with bombs and guns would have killed every last Christian in the country if not for Israel’s periodic involvement when the conflict spills over into northern Israel.

    I also like how Morningstar would like to use the Jews as the place to start implementing an experiment in post-nation-state living. Rather than focus on a people who don’t particularly need protection… say, the French… she’d like to take the world’s favorite skapegoat and use them as an experiment in annihilating nation-state ideology.

    The peculiar history of the Jews in european and near-eastern civilization is to be used as an ideological and rhetorical tool, whether in Catholic theology or in mass populist movements. It’s certainly not surprising that the Jewish state is being used as the lever with which certain people who disavow antisemitism nonetheless intend to effect their own new world vision.

    Israel exists with certain definite borders, and certain disputed borders. This is true of Syria, Turkey, Iran, India, Pakistan, Argentina, Colombia, China, and many, many other countries whose fundamental existence is not in dispute.

    Israel exists with a set of Basic Laws that set out the structure of the government, and is still working to create a constitution that will suplement these Basic Laws. This is similar to various incarnations of the Republics in France, it is similar to the United States before the bill of rights was passed, and it is the case in Afghanistan as well. Turkey constantly has governments dissolved and re-formed, South Korea has only been a democracy since the 80s, and meanwhile went through many different regimes between the Korean war and the institution of democracy, and no one ever denied that South Korea, with a politically manufactured border that is in dispute and in flux, was an identifiable political unit for the purposes of conferring national status.

    There are wonderful secular and Christian Palestinians who just want to get married, have children, pursue their chosen profession, and have a role in the government that rules them. They are not in control. A bunch of nutbags with guns are in control, and Israel could hand over every square inch of land outside Tel Aviv to the Palestinians and the Palestinians would just piss on the seat, because the asylum is being run by the inmates.

    When Yassir Arafat died, his widow inherited over a billion dollars held in foreign bank accounts. If Palestinian leaders used that money to build power plants and waste treatment centers, they could begin to build their own civil society to form a legitimate and powerful bargaining partner with whom Israel would have to contend. Instead, Palestinian leaders hoard aid dollars and use the Israeli enemy to deflect criticsm from their own shortcomings. This leaves Palestinians in the position of either falling behind corrupt leaders in the PLO or religious fanatics in Hamas who are not legitimate bargaining partners for Israel because they only believe in the removal of the Jews from the land, and not in the wellbeing of their constituents. When Palestinian leaders care more about their people than about staying in power or about pure malice against the Jews, there will be movement towards peace.

  64. Natalie
    May 13, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    and just as an aside-

    it’s actually offensive to arabs to say call anti-jewish bigotry “anti-semitic” because arabs are semitic people as well. i myself have used the anti-semitic term, but it’s really an inappropriate word and especially silly since most jews in israel are ashkanazi, and not semitic people.

    First, “semitic” is a linguistic distinction, not a racial one. So it’s perfectly consistent to have Ashkenazi Semites.

    Second, even if you want to make a racial distinction, the numbers are nearly equal in Israel with 52.7% Ashkenazim and 47.3% Mizrachim.

  65. exholt
    May 13, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    (as well as others like bernard lewis)

    Are we talking the same Bernard Lewis who has been condemned by many and even fined by France for denying the Ottoman Empire’s genocide against Armenians around the First World War era???

    I’m sorry, but his denial of the Armenian genocide makes him little better in my book than the Japanese right-wing “historians” like Tanaka Masaaki who attempt to deny the veracity of the Nanjing Massacre or other war crimes/atrocities committed during Japan’s heyday as an imperial colonizer or Holocaust deniers like David Irving.

    Moreover, I recalled Edward Said and other scholars having other issues with Lewis’ scholarship. Something about Orientalism…..

  66. May 13, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Lebanon has been in period civil war for the last twenty years, and theocrats with bombs and guns would have killed every last Christian in the country if not for Israel’s periodic involvement when the conflict spills over into northern Israel.

    lol.

    yeah israel saved lebanon.

    it saved the helpless christians.

    good stuff.

  67. May 13, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I also like how Morningstar would like to use the Jews as the place to start implementing an experiment in post-nation-state living. Rather than focus on a people who don’t particularly need protection… say, the French… she’d like to take the world’s favorite skapegoat and use them as an experiment in annihilating nation-state ideology.

    as i said before i wouldn’t particularly care what it did if it it’s actions were limited to it’s own borders and if other people people didn’t have to pay for europe’s atrocities.

    real justice probably would’ve been for germany to say: hey we royally screwed up, and sine no apology in the world can make up for what we did we’re going to move ourselves out of a portion of our territory and give that to jews. they can do what they want in their nation and can defend themselves and be prosperous without anyone’s interference.

    instead, the arabs were asked to pay for the crimes of europe. zionists want to pretend as if there were no arabs there, that this was just a barren wasteland waiting to developed. but it’s not a nice myth, and it’s offensive and demeaning to the arabs still holding onto land deeds of their homes in israel.

    as even ben gurion admitted:

    “If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti – Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault ? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?”

    and that’s what this comes down to in a nutshell.

    the only way to rectify this is with one secure nation.

    alright though, i think i said my piece and beat down this topic enough. maybe someone else can jump in.

  68. WestEndGirl
    May 13, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Morningstar…you are the one being offensive and silly.

    Just to look at one of your points (as Natalie has already done):
    “it’s actually offensive to arabs to say call anti-jewish bigotry “anti-semitic” because arabs are semitic people as well. i myself have used the anti-semitic term, but it’s really an inappropriate word and especially silly since most jews in israel are ashkanazi, and not semitic people.”

    Re: Semitism/anti-Semitism issue, this is a canard, a pure distraction. Wilhelm Marr coined the term in 1880 to replace the term Judenhass in order to make anti-Jewish predjudice/racism more palatable. It’s a European construct but one that’s, sadly, been in global and consistent use for nearly 130 years to refer to this. End of story.

    Re: Ashkenazi Jews aren’t Semites (thanks again Natalie for covering the numbers of Mizrahi Jews in Israel). Well, now we are really getting to the nub of your bigotry aren’t we? Another “pro-Palestinian”* canard.

    This is a false and historically debunked assertion that the vast majority of Ashkenazim are the descendants of Khazars (a Turkic Causcus tribe which converted to Judaism in the 8/9th Century). This false assertion is then used to argue that as most Jews in Israel aren’t really Semites, then they have no right to be in the neighbourhood at all. Interestingly enough, aside from “pro-Palestinians”* the only other people who make this assertion re: Khazars are neo-Nazis and some of the more odd Christian rapture groups.

    *NB, I use this phrase in quotes to refer to false and diversionary ‘arguments’ often from Western “liberals” and who, like Morningstar, claim to be pro-Palestinian and pro-justice, but in fact are just anti-Israeli at very best. You don’t have to put down Jews or falsify Jewish history, culture, religion etc in order to advance the just cause of Palestinian self-determination and statehood.

    The Palestinians I’ve met do not advance these ridiculous canards, precisely because they don’t need to resort to such diversionary and disgusting tactics to make their case. Their case stands on its own merits and doesn’t need your kind of “help”.

    Jill has posted a piece talking about the need for Palestinian voices in the various arguments and media commentary on the I/P conflict. Morningstar, unless you are a Palestinian (which I sincerely doubt), you are actually just co-opting the Palestinians’ just cause to pursue your “anti-Zionism” (giving you the most charitable reading of your use of false “history”). It’s not helpful to the Palestinian cause and it is offensive to Jews.

  69. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl
    May 13, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Jamiaat Islami are holocaust deniers, Islamists in our country really shame us cos they make Pakistan look like we don’t know nothing, and to be fair to our people, we aren’t educated about the holocaust, it’s seen as being anti Islamic to mention it, so it’s just not mentioned. This is Islamism, historically, Muslims and Jews was always friends, like we know.
    If you ask people in Pakistan “how many Jews did Hitler kill, was it 6 or 7?” most people will say not more than five people maybe! They got no idea that this is a question that relates to millions, shameful? Yes, I think it is, but please don’t blame ordinary people. When I was young I tried to tell Pakistani girls at school what I suspected i had learned and of course, no one believed me. Why should they? Could our religious leaders be wrong, how come? Even at the age of 25, reading Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” four months back, I did it with a sense of trepidation, that it’s subversive and against the interests of me country, such is the power of anti semitism in Pakistani society on a ideaological level- though not socially , cos it’s artifical, I mean as people, we got nothing against Jews, don’t know nothing about them also except what we getting told day in day out, except that very right wing forces use stuff like the nakhba and the intifada etc to rally support, in just the same way as they use the Danish cartoons etc etc. I mean, most people don’t have education, they see a little child getting shot by IDF soliders and American tanks and Apache gun ships smashing up a house in Jenin, link to what the ulema have told them and then they just react with emotion. Also, our TV is very very graphic, u should know that, and it’s hard to see a dead Palestinian child and not want to react- especially when it’s your religious duty to feel anger, and there are plenty of people on hand to exploit those feelings of rage. So on a very deep level, after so many years of this, millions of people DO think all over the Islamic Umma (no need to sinlge out Pakistan), that Jews are out to control us and destroy us, and they use America and our own liberals to do this, including people who fight for gender equality, yes, according to Islamists, we’re all being paid by the SOROS foundation and RAND CORP. Now if you speak to Islamist girls then they will tell you upfront that Jews got what they deserve and that holocaust will come again- while in the same breath saying that all of it is lies and not true and Hollywood filmed this cos Jews run Hollywood. Schinder’s List is banned in Pakistan, I just think u should know that. Another, me literary agent, senior editor that is, she lost all her family, mum and dad also, they all got sent to Treblinka in 1944. I got no doubt in me mind that holocaust is REAL REAL REAL and holocaust denial is one more way Islamists is cheating our people, this is what I think.

  70. Rafael
    May 13, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    it’s actually offensive to arabs to say call anti-jewish bigotry “anti-semitic” because arabs are semitic people as well. i myself have used the anti-semitic term, but it’s really an inappropriate word and especially silly since most jews in israel are ashkanazi, and not semitic people.

    To further Natalie’s argument, the ‘Semitic’ distinction dates to Biblical times, and is more of an historical claim preceding the Babylonian exile than any real attempt at racial categorization. The Jewish people are Semites. The Arab people are as well, but over time (especially after WWII) the word has evolved to take on a more exclusive definition. Read up before you start waving around semantics.

    here’s the thing david: no one would would really care if israel did it’s own things within it’s border. if it stayed within the confines of permanent borders i could care less about the country.

    Thank you for graciously offering to content yourself in exchange for Israel’s political upheaval. I’m sure the country will now eagerly strive to settle this decade-old dispute for your benefit. Also, please don’t make generalizations such as “no one would really care”, since it’s increasingly obvious you do not understand, much less represent, all sides in this debate.

    Here’s the thing: the border disputes in which Israel has participated, from 1948 to 2006 and onwards, have been strictly in response to actions instigated by its neighbors. This may sound a bit far-fetched, but no, really–in case you didn’t notice, Israel is surrounded by hostile countries. Since its forming as an independent state, it has waged war at least once with each of its immediate neighbors, and, except for the its Independence War in 1948, it has always taken the defensive. The Israeli army is called the IDF: Israeli Defense Force. All actions are either defensive or preventative; in other words, Israel does not instigate war.

    Ben-Gurion’s rudimentary military policy stated that each war start with a defensive action, and be pushed as quickly as possible into enemy territory. The reasoning behind this is that Israel is roughly the size of New Jersey, and there’s no territory to spare–all fighting will occur within citizen districts, which would lead to useless and innocent deaths. The IDF’s primary purpose during war was to lead the action out of Israel’s borders, and consequentially, having either won or counteracted the wars, it lay claim to the territories in order to use them in future negotiations and/or settle them.

    This is the reality of the situation, and your cries for Israel to “leave its neighbors alone” are both inaccurate and slightly ridiculous in the current context. I’m fairly certain Israel isn’t, you know, bartering lands for fun, or to mess with its neighboring countries. I have no idea on what facts you base your arguments, but please stop using such an accusatory tone, especially in regards to matters which cannot by definition be one nation’s lone responsibility.

  71. May 13, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Also, to the lovely commenters picking apart Morningstar’s “history”, I’d note that Haj Amin al-Husayni (Grand Mufti of Jerusalem) was directly involved with the Holocaust, intervening with the German government in 1943 and 1944 to block the transfer of Jewish families out of Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Croatia to safety. In his own memoirs he wrote: “Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews. The answer I got was: ‘The Jews are yours.'”

  72. Morningstar
    May 13, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    okay rather than be labeled an anti-semitic, i need to clarify this:

    Re: Semitism/anti-Semitism issue, this is a canard, a pure distraction. Wilhelm Marr coined the term in 1880 to replace the term Judenhass in order to make anti-Jewish predjudice/racism more palatable. It’s a European construct but one that’s, sadly, been in global and consistent use for nearly 130 years to refer to this. End of story.

    you’re right this is a distraction, but i wasn’t purposefully trying to do so in order to whitewash bigotry against jews. you just said right here that it is an innaccurate term created by europeans but it is what is it is- basically that arabs and other semitic people should just shut up abou it. i think one thing that can help ease tensions is using the correct terms for things. there is definitely anti-jewish sentiment in the muslim world,and there is definitely anti-zionist sentiment. it’s important not to conflate these issues and to add to more confusion by telling arabs that they are anti-semitic when they are semitic people themselves.

    This is a false and historically debunked assertion that the vast majority of Ashkenazim are the descendants of Khazars (a Turkic Causcus tribe which converted to Judaism in the 8/9th Century). This false assertion is then used to argue that as most Jews in Israel aren’t really Semites, then they have no right to be in the neighbourhood at all. Interestingly enough, aside from “pro-Palestinians”* the only other people who make this assertion re: Khazars are neo-Nazis and some of the more odd Christian rapture groups.

    i was not extending my argument in that way at all, although i can see why you inferred that. ethnic claims to israel are pretty irrelevant to me, i see why jews are attached to it religiously and that’s really all there is to it for me. i don’t think that attachment means jews automatically deserve a nation of their own but that’s already been said.

  73. exholt
    May 13, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    *NB, I use this phrase in quotes to refer to false and diversionary ‘arguments’ often from Western “liberals” and who, like Morningstar, claim to be pro-Palestinian and pro-justice, but in fact are just anti-Israeli at very best. You don’t have to put down Jews or falsify Jewish history, culture, religion etc in order to advance the just cause of Palestinian self-determination and statehood.

    The Palestinians I’ve met do not advance these ridiculous canards, precisely because they don’t need to resort to such diversionary and disgusting tactics to make their case. Their case stands on its own merits and doesn’t need your kind of “help”.

    Not to mention display a staggering ignorance of the basic history of a knotty complex issue that I immediately knew was suspect…even though this is well outside of my region/area of specialization.

    It is also my experience that most Palestinians do not employ such arguments.

    Incidentally, the only people I know who use such arguments tend to be highly privileged American/European undergrad/grad students whose motives betray more an animus against Israel and Israelis at a minimum….and a barely concealed antisemitism at its worst rather than genuine concern for Palestinians or their grievances.

    There were plenty of these types of students at my undergrad…..and as with every movement, such blowhard activists tend to give everyone else in their purported cause a bad name.

  74. May 13, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    david, before you continue on with the mufti please look up lehi, aka the stern gang and then get back to me.

    In 1940, Lehi proposed intervening in World War II on the side of Nazi Germany. It offered assistance in “evacuating” the Jews of Europe, in return for Germany’s help in expelling Britain from Mandate Palestine. Late in 1940, Lehi representative Naftali Lubenchik was sent to Beirut where he met the German official Werner Otto von Hentig. Lubenchik told von Hentig that Lehi had not yet revealed its full power and that they were capable of organizing a whole range of anti-British operations.

    i think the mufti’s position was reprehensible but i believe it was done within the context of an anti-colonial struggle. furthermore there are countless other nations such as france, romania, bulgaria, switzerland etc who’s leaders sided with the nazis, that does not mean that the people should be continuously punished for this.

    in addition, you seem to be purposefully discounting the palestinians who fought against the nazis, as well as the albanian muslims who saved jews, as well as the indian mmuslims who fought hitler, and the moroccans, etc etc. you seem to be purposefully discounting a 1,300 year legacy in which jews fled persecution in european lands and were protected in muslim territories all because of the mufti.

    anti-jewish sentiment rapidly rose alongside the advent of zionism and finally went full force with the declaration of israel.

  75. May 13, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    i think the mufti’s position was reprehensible but i believe it was done within the context of an anti-colonial struggle.

    Oh hurray! In the context of an anti-colonial struggle? Well I recant and repent! You’ve trumped. I’ll even look past you equating collaborating with the nazis in order to save Jews with collaborating with Nazis in order to kill Jews.

    And y’all wonder why I don’t want folks like Morningstar determining what rights I have.

  76. May 13, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for noting this atrocity. What happened to the Palestinians in 1948 is what today we would call “ethnic cleansing”. Arabs call it “nakba”, or catastrophe, the disposession and destruction of their society.

    It is noteworthy that in 1948, in addition to massacres, home razing, and pillaging, the Haganah (Zionist militia) soldiers were known to use rape as a weapon. The recent book “Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory” (praised by Judith Butler) details that fear of rape was one of the motivations of Arabs who fled Palestine (as opposed to being expelled at gunpoint, which also happened). Upon hearing stories of rape in neighboring towns, fearing it could happen to sisters, daughters, mothers, people fled, with the full intention of returning to their homes.

    First of all, the Jews had been on that land for a long time. Zionism had been around since the 19th century, and Jews had been emigrating to the territories when they were under control of the Ottomans, and, after World War I, when they were under British control. It wasn’t the Palestinians’ lands. It had been an imperial possession of the Turks and then an Imperial possession of the British.

    Since the Holocaust survivors clearly weren’t going back to Germany, Austria and Poland, they had to go somewhere, and the state of Israel was made out of the British possession, with a chunk of the land going to the Jews and a chunk going to resident Arabs.

    But Egypt and Jordan planned to roll in and wipe out the Jewish state as soon as the British withdrew and Israel became it’s own entity. A lot of the Palestinians fled, with plans to return after the Jews were exterminated. The Palestinian tragedy is that they bet on the losers.

    The Arabs who stayed and their descendants have full Israeli citizenship, and representation in the Knesset. Many of them identify or sympathize with the Palestinian cause, but Hamas has publicly declared them to be traitors who should die along with Israeli Jews, and Israeli Arabs have been victims of suicide bombings inside Israel.

    Of course, there were crimes committed by Jews against Arab civilians during the war of 1948, and rumors of these crimes may have contributed to the Arab evacuation of the area, but it is also true that Jordan and Egypt had asked the Palestinian Arabs to get out of the area so their armies could exterminate the Jews.

    So it’s just not true that Israel was founded on land taken from Arabs, or that Israel’s independence war was about expelling Arabs from the land.

  77. exholt
    May 13, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    i think the mufti’s position was reprehensible but i believe it was done within the context of an anti-colonial struggle.

    This is the same crap argument I get whenever Indian nationalists and some clueless anti-colonialists attempt to deny/downplay the serious moral and ethical issues of Subhas Chandra Bose’s support for the Imperial Japanese and their visions of an East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Whatever his intentions, the fact he attempted to throw out one colonizer by allying himself with another colonizer whose brutality and war crimes were only matched by their Nazi allies makes him quite sketchy and worthy of nothing but utter contempt. In so doing, they are effectively giving the finger to those who lived and suffered under Japanese colonial occupation and the brutal atrocities which tended to come from such occupations.

    To add insult to injury, due to a severe oversight by the Allied authorities, one of Bose’s supporters Radhabinod Pal managed to sit on the main Tokyo War crimes tribunal. Not surprisingly, he ruled that Japan did not engage in an aggressive war and no war crimes were committed despite the overwhelming evidence and as a result, Japanese right-wingers pining for the glories of the Japanese colonial empire continue to lionize him through various means….including a monument that continues to draw the same right-wingers who deny any war crimes or atrocities took place at Nanjing or elsewhere. Some anti-colonialist….

    By the same token, the mufti’s anti-colonialism should not be used to minimize and excuse the serious moral and ethical issues that come with allying with the Nazis…especially when he was clear he had no problems with their genocidal policies.

  78. May 13, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    here’s the thing david: no one would would really care if israel did it’s own things within it’s border. if it stayed within the confines of permanent borders i could care less about the country. i wouldn’t care if it’s a jewish state or a zulu state, i think it’s stupid to create ethnocentric states and ultimately unjust, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter to me. israel would figure it out on it’s own.

    but unfortunately, israel has no borders.

    as i mentioned upthread, the entire arab league has now offered twice to fully recognize israel if it has permanent borders, israel has flatout rejected these offers. it wants to be recognized as a state without boundaries and wants to mantain carte blanche in the west bank and gaza and lebanon.

    so this conversation would be very very different if israel was sitting there peacefully within it’s own borders and was leaving it’s neighbors alone. if i was saying that the concept of a jewish state is flawed, then maybe you can have a right to say: just leave us alone.

    The Arab League proposals were unacceptable from a security perspective. They involved giving up the strategically important Golan Heights without a peace treaty with Syria, and involved giving up Israel’s ability to retaliate against attacks out of the Palestinian territories.

    Israel has famously given up territory in negotiating peace deals; Egypt got the entire Sinai peninsula in exchange for a treaty. Even Israel’s security hawks now recognize that an eventual Palestinian state at peace with Israel is necessary for Israel’s security. Ariel Sharon delivered the death blow to the “greater Israel” Likud hawks when he bolted the party and created the centrist Kadima government. It was a right-wing government that orchestrated the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. There is not a movement still in Israel that can form a governing coalition about a long-term continued occupation of the West Bank, or a re-occupation of Gaza.

    The notion of Israel as a colonial power with an expansionist agenda is preposterous. Israel is about the size of Delaware. Jerusalem is still a sticking point, and some of the “settlements” that are technically on the wrong side of the 1967 green line are, in fact fully developed towns and Jerusalem suburbs, which cannot be easily removed, and make negotiating the final border a complicated issue.

    But the more central sticking point is that Israel will only make territorial concessions in exchange for peace, and the Palestinians have no leadership capable of offering peace on their behalf.

  79. exholt
    May 13, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    First of all, the Jews had been on that land for a long time.

    That is true….but the same could definitely be said of the Palestinian Arabs as well. Even many Pro-Israeli friends of mine would acknowledge that fact….along with every history text dealing with Mideast history from antiquity to the present.

  80. May 13, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    Zionism had been around since the 19th century, and Jews had been emigrating to the territories when they were under control of the Ottomans, and, after World War I, when they were under British control. It wasn’t the Palestinians’ lands. It had been an imperial possession of the Turks and then an Imperial possession of the British.

    Mitchforth, the fact that the Ottomans and British had conquered that territory didn’t give them the right to give it away. Palestinians were living there; therefore, the land belonged to those Palestinians.

    I fully agree that Holocaust survivors can’t be blamed for not wanting to go back to their countries of origin – or any country where they would be the minority, for that matter. For refugees of pogroms and genocide, autonomous territory was the best option. But that doesn’t mean that the Ottoman and British empires had the right to displace the people already living on that land.

  81. romham
    May 13, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    It’ so nice to be so lazy, well perhaps if i wasnt an icky tranny and a faggot id be granted the right to donate my blood in my country. but until then, people, women, children, grandmothers, nieces, aunts, granddaughters are dying…even [as sophonisba said] Palestinians [people the last time i checked]! crazy.

  82. little cabbage
    May 14, 2008 at 2:13 am

    This is the same crap argument I get whenever Indian nationalists and some clueless anti-colonialists attempt to deny/downplay the serious moral and ethical issues of Subhas Chandra Bose’s support for the Imperial Japanese and their visions of an East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Whatever his intentions, the fact he attempted to throw out one colonizer by allying himself with another colonizer whose brutality and war crimes were only matched by their Nazi allies makes him quite sketchy and worthy of nothing but utter contempt. In so doing, they are effectively giving the finger to those who lived and suffered under Japanese colonial occupation and the brutal atrocities which tended to come from such occupations.

    Wow. exholt, that is really, really interesting. Thanks for posting that. I learned something new. :)

  83. May 14, 2008 at 2:22 am

    but it is also true that Jordan and Egypt had asked the Palestinian Arabs to get out of the area so their armies could exterminate the Jews.

    no it is actually not true. it has been demonstrated that benny morris made up the statement.

    but look we can go back and forth with this for the next 60 years, a he said she said shoutfest. it’s pointless. the real issue is this:

    jews and israelis and leftists and pretty much everyone agrees that there have been problems on both sides and everyone keeps saying that there needs to be two separate states. the issue is simply that there can never be a viable palestinian state, and that is because the israeli w. bank settlements as mitchfork just explained, cannot be dismantled. they are entangled in the w. bank and it is very telling that the closest israel was willing to offer was barak’s plan which essentially left palestinians with this:

    http://www.fmep.org/maps/map_data/redeployment/barak_sharon_2001.gif

    sharon only left gaza to strengthen the w. bank settlements, and that is exactly what has happened as jewish settlements continue to expand and arab houses continue to be demolished to make room for jewish only homes.

    anyone who dismisses what is happening in the west bank or believes that israel would ever give it up is living a dream.

    the w. bank always held more symbolic and religious importance for israelis, and as i said the settlements have ensured that there can never be a properly functioning palestinian state there.

    as i said before, the easiest determination of the power disparity is when it comes down to who is kicking who out of homes. arabs aren’t kicking jews out of anywhere. israelis jews are, however, kicking arabs out of their homes and using that land for jewish only purposes.

    we can go back and forth with what happened and the crimes against jews throughout history and you can bring up the mufti and you can pretend as if this entire problem is because of arafat or whatever but the basic reality is that kicking another ethnic group out of their homes and replacing that group with another ethnic group is ethnic cleansing.

    there is no other definition for what is happening there.

  84. May 14, 2008 at 2:59 am

    Mitchforth, the fact that the Ottomans and British had conquered that territory didn’t give them the right to give it away. Palestinians were living there; therefore, the land belonged to those Palestinians.

    I fully agree that Holocaust survivors can’t be blamed for not wanting to go back to their countries of origin – or any country where they would be the minority, for that matter. For refugees of pogroms and genocide, autonomous territory was the best option. But that doesn’t mean that the Ottoman and British empires had the right to displace the people already living on that land.

    Well, first of all, characterizing the Palestinians as “indigenous” and the holders of the older or superior claim is disputed and questionable.

    In any case, the Arabs were taken care of under the 1948 partition plan. The 1948 Israeli war of independence was not a conflict of genocide between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs; all of Israel’s neighbors tried to crush it as soon as the Brits took their flags down, Israel beat them back, and the Palestinians took sides with the Arabs.

    At the end of it, the Arabs who stayed were granted rights, and the Arabs who fled were stuck in exile. Israel’s position is that they fled to facilitate the advance of the Arab armies, and so the Arab armies could attack indiscriminately without having to worry about killing other Arabs. I’m sure the Jews committed some atrocities against unarmed Arabs out of anger as the Jordanian, Egyptian and Syrian armies bore down on them. The Jewish fighters were not well organized or disciplined.

    But although the facts are disputed it’s not inaccurate to characterize the Palestinian evacuation as being done at the urging of the Arabs to facilitate the extermination of the Jews. When you hear about the Palestinians departing and locking up their houses expecting to return, you have to ask, expecting to return after what? If the Jews were ethnic-cleansing them, that would not have been their expectation.

    They were expecting to come back after the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armies finished exterminating the Jews.

    So when the smoke cleared and the Arab armies had been defeated, and Israel controlled the whole partitioned area, the Jews declared their state on the whole parcel, reasoning that they owed nothing to the Palestinians who had sided with the would-be exterminators by leaving, and owed no respect to the borders drawn by the departing Brits who had done nothing to protect the Jews from their attackers.

  85. May 14, 2008 at 4:09 am

    While some of us may define the term “anti-Semite” as one thing, many Arabs do not. And they have the right to that viewpoint. Maysoon Zayid, a New Jersey-based comedian I just interviewed, talks about her identity as being of Semitic origin. We don’t get to dictate otherwise to her.

    As for Israel itself – I don’t blame Jews for wanting to leave Europe, not yesterday, nor today (a Jewish cousin of mine recently left for Israel – do I blame her? No). But neither am I going to pretend that the Palestinian situation is something we can simply gloss over.

    An embattled, unstable Palestine is bad not just for Palestinians, it’s bad for Israelis as well.

  86. Cowries
    May 14, 2008 at 10:08 am

    I’ve never posted on this board but I love reading the posts. When I came accross this post I had to comment!

    I’m always amazed how people tend to forget history. It seems that everyone wants to begin history in 1948 when Israel was created; however badly people want to it can’t be done! Jews have been living in the Middle East (ME) for centuries! I find it interesting that people seem to think that the only Jews are Ashkenazi, and that Jews didn’t exist in the ME before this; they did. When the ME was ruled by Abyssinia, before and during the time of the Mohammed, there were Jews living in the ME, it’s the Arabs who did not have a land of their own (they were nomads). Much of Jewish claim and existence in the ME can be found in the Qur’an, Hadith, and other writings from the ME and Africa.

    What bothers me the most is how gullible westerners are to the Arab Muslims who parade their dead and alive children as an example of their “suffering”. Have we forgotten that it was the Arab states (particularly Syria, and Egypt) who evacuated Arab Muslims from Palestine so that they could invade Egypt after its creation? These countries promised Palestinians that once the kafirs were defeated that they could move back to their homes. And yet these Arab states have not made for the past 55 years accommodations for the Palestinians they displaced! Only Jordan gives Palestinians citizenship; while Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Arab states over the years have been expelling Palestinians from their countries, creating more refugees. The vial treatment of Palestinians in Arab countries NEVER gets mentioned!

    I get tired of people comparing Israel to Apartheid South Africa, when it is the Arab States that are 1000 times more like Apartheid South Africa than Israel could ever be. Africans can walk down the streets of Israel without having stones thrown at us, spat on, and called Abd (slave); I can’t do that in many parts of the “Arab world;” even Muslims have more freedom in Israel then Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and other Arab countries. If Israel put down her weapons today, the Arab Muslims would annihilate every Kafir residing there. No one cares about the Palestinians they are just being used by Arab countries to destroy Israel (the kafir state). Mohammed did not want any Non Muslim nation in the Arabian Peninsula, and that is why Israel must be destroyed not because of the “suffering” of Palestinians! Palestinians are better off than many the majority of Africans, and Asians. Yasser Arafats widow inherited millions; why is that money not being used to relieve the “suffering” of Palestinians? Why are Arab States not providing financial support to the Palestinians? Why has it taken over 55 years for Palestine refuges to be integrated into Arab countries; while the 850 000 Jewish refuges expelled from Arab countries have been integrated into Israel. Oh I see, the world has forgotten about the Jewish refugees and would rather focus on the Palestinian refugees.

    Happy Birthday Israel, you are the light in a dark cave (the ME). You have provided sanctuary for the over 2 million Sudanese refugees and other African refugees fleeing Muslim persecution! You were the only country that came to the aid of the Southern Sudanese while the rest of the world watched as Africans were being slaughtered, because of their resistance to islimization and arabization. If it were not for you the Southern Sudanese would be extinct! You take in Africans that have escaped from chattel slavery in the “Arab World” by Arab Muslims. You aided and continue to aid Sudanese people decades before liberal protesters shouted “SAVE DARFUR”!

    May Israel continue to prosper and offer freedom and sanctuary for non-Muslims and Muslims escaping persecution in a region where freedom is devoid.

    – The ranting of an African Women, or better well known in the “Arab world” as Abd (slave).

  87. Cowries
    May 14, 2008 at 10:10 am

    * it should say invade Israel after its creation! Not invade Egypt.

  88. Sojourner
    May 14, 2008 at 10:19 am

    “Well, first of all, characterizing the Palestinians as “indigenous” and the holders of the older or superior claim is disputed and questionable.”
    Um no it’s not, except by Zionist propagandists and apologists such as yourself. Palestinian Arabs had lived in that land for hundreds of years, if that doesn’t make one indigenous what does? Don’t take my word for it, read Shlomo Ben Ami and Benny Morris. The bullshit about the Arabs moving there after they saw the Jews had developed the land is just that: BULLSHIT, and it’s counter-productive (for those of us who want peace and justice for both Jews AND Palestinians) and absolutely offensive. It is about as offensive as saying the Holocaust didn’t happen.

    “the Palestinians took sides with the Arabs.” Uh, guess what, because the Palestinians where and are Arabs. Did you expect them to celebrate the creation of a new state in their ancestral land? Do you advocate that Americans do the same thing if a group of say, Mexicans came and started their own nation state in the middle of Nevada?

    “At the end of it, the Arabs who stayed were granted rights, and the Arabs who fled were stuck in exile.” Do you advocate this for all war refugees? That whoever flees loses their right to return home?
    By the way people were made to flee, villages were razed, and people were evicted at gunpoint. If it wasn’t ethnic cleansing I don’t know what is.

  89. anonymous
    May 14, 2008 at 11:29 am

    just a note: “abd” definitely means “slave” and is used to identify actual slaves in the arab world. but it is also used in many common arab names, to be interpreted as “slave of Allah” too. abd-allah = abdallah is a common Muslim name, and it’s about as common in a ME name as the john or mary.

    i digress. and another quick note on sudanese and other african jews who have fled to israel…it’s not all happy rainbows and sunshine and freedom and equality once they get ther.

    we don’t have to demonize either side, but we should probably be honest in criticizing both for hypocrisy, etc. if we’re going to have a productive debate.

  90. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl
    May 14, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I want to tell also that abd is used as a insult in Arab countries, this was me experience in Arab country X where sitting with Arab girls at their walima for example, as a Pakistani outsider, I witnessed ethnic Arab girls refer to black Muslimas, their co-nationals, as either “zanji,” or as “abd,” zanj being outright abuse, and abd meaning slave, not of Allah, just slave. To call a black girl abd, this is really a insult and it was done to hurt also as Arab girls are very hierarchical, one of the reasons I as a Pakistani soon found me place and had little contact with them after that. I think Cowrie is totally correct about the insult to black women in Arab countries, they seen as the khadam, and shajalaah all time, no way, this is not respect and I think all racism is wrong wherever it is, this is what i think.Another, those black Muslimas GOT NO VOICE, and we want to give them a chance to speak out as women and as a minority living under Islam.

  91. Natalie
    May 14, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    And yet these Arab states have not made for the past 55 years accommodations for the Palestinians they displaced! Only Jordan gives Palestinians citizenship; while Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Arab states over the years have been expelling Palestinians from their countries, creating more refugees. The vial treatment of Palestinians in Arab countries NEVER gets mentioned!

    Arab states don’t give Palestinians citizenship in large part because that would seem to obviate their need for a return to their homeland. They would no longer be “Palestinian” and would be “Lebanese” or “Jordanian” and Israel would have won by labeling default. Obviously this creates problems when it comes to procuring the services governments give you (schools, etc.) But it’s certainly not obvious that granting Palestinians full citizenship would be a desired solution.

    This is also part of Jordan’s recognition of Palestinians as Jordanian citizens. Some of Palestine being modern Jordan, it’s not obvious that the creation of a Palestinian state is good for Jordan.

    Happy Birthday Israel, you are the light in a dark cave (the ME).

    Yikes. This is a little old school Conrad.

    Israel and Palestine are very difficult to discuss because people have a lot of very strong opinions and tend to get entrenched in them, but I think it’s really important not to demonize or dehumanize the other side during the discussion. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t examine the difficult truths about both sides, but it’s very hard to convince someone when you’re calling them a savage or a proponent of ethnic cleansing.

    Just my $0.02

  92. Cowries
    May 14, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    First and foremost I love the fact that you like many others that try to beat around the bush about what abd means and it’s relation to black people. By the Middle Ages, the Arab word “abd” was in general use to denote a black slave, while the word “mamluk” referred to a white slave.- John Azumah, The Legacy of Arab Islam in Africa: A quest for Inter-religious Dialogue. In names the word is ALWAYS in conjunction with a following word! Abd on it’s own it’s used as a word synonymous to a black person! It is part of the Legacy of Arab-Muslim slavery that existed centuries before the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. It’s like having the N word be synonymous with a Black person. It’s not acceptable to walk down the street and rather than call a person by their name you use the N word, rather than even saying “a Black person” u say the N word, which is NOT acceptable, so why should Abd be acceptable in the Arab world?

    I’m glad that you at least acknowledge that slavery exists in the arab world, “abd” definitely means “slave” and is used to identify actual slaves in the arab world.” Most people would rather deny it or beat around the bush, or be offensive and say “it’s not as bad as what happened in the US, and yet it still exists today!

    Yes racism exists in Israel and it is not perfect as it is not perfect in the US either, but that does not make it Apartheid South Africa. In the majority of the Arab world, racism is institutionalized and affects every aspect of life. http://www.nigeriavillagesquare1.com/Articles/ebe_ochonu/2005/07/arab-racism-against-black-africans.html. It is not just Africans that suffer from oppression in the Arab world, many South Asians, South East Asians are also oppressed.

    If we are going to critique Israel and compare it to Apartheid South Africa then lets have open critical discussion, about the inhuman abuse and oppression of non-Muslims, and non-Arab Muslims living in the Arab World. If we are going to talk about the plight of Palestinians than why not talk about the plight of the Jewish refugees or what about the plight of Palestinians in Arab countries. The Arab states should receive as much critique as Israel, but too many people are so quick to blame everything on Zionist and the US. And everyone loves to talk about how criticizing Israel is seen as being anti-Semitic and yet when people criticize aspects of Islam and the ME or even ask questions it’s islamophobic, anti-Islamic and racist.

    – The ranting of an African Women, or better well known in the “Arab world” as Abd (slave).

  93. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl
    May 14, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Cowries, er, isn’t that exactly what I said, I made it clear that you are right, at (90), in fact, 7 million Africans were taken from their homelands and into slavery. Slavery was abolished in the Gulf in 1971. Yes, abd is a racist term of abuse, though woc Muslimas in the west would not believe it, having been told that Bilal was the first muezzin and that 7 million slaves non withstanding- Islam is the new liberation front for the oppressed feminists of America’s black communities. Well guess what, i criticize, as a former Muslim, racism against black Arab women by Arabs (labelled zanj and abd), gender oppression in Muslim states- whether women choose to wear the niqab and hijab or not- it’s still oppression, and in Israel, something that really disgusts me, the sexual exploitation of tens of thousands of east european women. What has this all got in common, the prime denominator- oppression by patriarchy, in all its forms, the oppression of women by men, the radical answer to which is female centered feminism.

  94. fauzia
    May 15, 2008 at 2:54 am

    ThePaksitaniHereticalGirl: You just made some SWEEPING generalizations about “Arab girls.” I’m not Arab, nor will I ever be. In fact, I’m half Pakistani and I’ve been living in an Arab country for a year. No one’s experience is the same, nor should one’s experience be made to feel lesser than the other. But come on. Sweeping generalizations about an entire population of people, all of whom are NOT the same (Jordanian women are totally different from Syrian women who are totally different from Palestinian women who are totally different from Egyptian women) is just ridiculous.

  95. Cowries
    May 15, 2008 at 8:26 am

    ThePakistaniHereticalGirl, sorry about that I should have said that my post was addressed to anonymous.

  96. juju
    May 15, 2008 at 10:38 am

    @ThePakistaniHereticalGirl

    Islam is the new liberation front for the oppressed feminists of America’s black communities.

    Where are you getting this from? I think you would be hard pressed to find many (any?) Black American feminists that believe this? I appreciate reading some of your comments, but it’s statements like this that are very off-putting.

    Sorry that this is so far off-topic.

  97. May 15, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Arab states don’t give Palestinians citizenship in large part because that would seem to obviate their need for a return to their homeland. They would no longer be “Palestinian” and would be “Lebanese” or “Jordanian” and Israel would have won by labeling default. Obviously this creates problems when it comes to procuring the services governments give you (schools, etc.) But it’s certainly not obvious that granting Palestinians full citizenship would be a desired solution.

    I completely agree that the Arab world cares much more about the Palestinians as a political grievance and an argument against the legitimacy of Israel than it cares about them as people.

    It was the Jordanians who stuffed them into refugee camps in the first place, and the Jordanians who slaughtered them wholesale in the 70s after Arafat tried to assassinate the king of Jordan.

  98. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl
    May 15, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Fauzia, I didn’t tell every Arabi lady is a racist, what I told is that I experienced racism first hand and that this is a part of Gulf society, i was not even really looking at Egypt for example where there is so much intermarriage with Sudani persons, I am telling that in the khalij, Islam has not eliminated racial stereotypes. Has Israel done so either? No, of course not, look at the Falasha or even the Yemenis is Tel Aviv. But what I know is what i heard and seen with me own eyes, black persons are living in the worst areas, the worst housing, the worst jobs and rare to see in banks and stuff, mostly they are doing same work like us desis, this is even though they are citizens and Arab speakers, how come? The answer is clear, it’s racism, if you know Arabi society then you will know that just like in Pakistan, fair is desirable, wheatish is ok and so on and so forth. Now if you are half Pakistani, I just think u must be mixed with Arabi or something, this is also terrible, it’s not Pakistani tradition, as u should know also and now, like so many others in ure situation, you are a apologist for Arab abuse of maids, black women and generations of Pakistanis, so stay with Abdallah and wear ure niqab and do not call urself a Pakistani.

  99. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl
    May 15, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    “Islam is the new liberation front for the oppressed feminists of America’s black communities.”

    Well as a Pakistani apostate who gets frustrated when people defend Islamic repression, either for ideaological reasons or who are living with a Arab boyfriend (zina for which women in Pakistan are brutally repressed) while they teach English in Aman or Cairo and now see the whole issue of patriarchal repression as something that doesn’t exist- cos they’re in luuuv, i just think it’s a insult to all the suffering and abuse i seen over the years. Just cos you love a Nazi, doesn’t mean the death camps aren’t real, and someone who thinking they can tell us as Pakistanis what’sthe situation in Arabi countries, no way, i never going to turn me back and ignore all the things i seen and know about. I AM FIGHTING BACK! ”
    The true Pakistani girl never sells people out or IGNORES RACISM and OPPRESSION.

  100. Sylvia
    May 15, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Might I add that when comparing Isreal against any Arab country, let’s be real: one is touted as being a “democracy” (aka the “light” in the Middle East) and the others are “dictatorships/monarchies/other”. Isreal, should be held to higher standards, if it’s going to tout itself as a “Democracy”. And yes, I use scare quotes, because regardless of what’s happened in the past (who did what to whom and when and how -ad nauseum I might add), the injustices being inflicted on both sides today is atrocious and disgusting- no matter which way you slice it. And if you’re trying to “explain” it away by trying to justify their “reasons” (whomever they are), you are a party to that injustice. Meanwhile, more people are being blown away in cafe’s and more people’s homes are being destroyed and their farmlands taken away. Whatever- have at the “Oppressed Olympics” till you get your cookies… Ridiculous.

  101. Sylvia
    May 15, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    To ThePakistaniHereticalGirl:

    Seriously, not for nothing- I’ve been reading your comments and this isn’t about you and your experiences, which I’m sure are valid. But understand that racism, xenophia, misogyny, et al are not owned by any one group. No one group on this earth has the deed to those ills. And for you to keep harping on Muslim girls this or Arab girls that and Pakistani people this, you’re only perpetuating those myths and injustices. Stop and think for a minute before lashing out blindly at the injustices you’ve faced.

  102. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl
    May 15, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Sylvia, You got no right to erase our experience as women of color and you got no right to ignore racism against black women either. If you can’t handle a Paki speaking out, that’s ure problem. People who just want me in a hijab staring wide eyed with me mouth open all amazed cos I am now in the west- this is the people who are making stereotypes, not my fault ure a racist either. i KNOW exactly the people who done all this bad stuff to me- it’s agents of theocratic patriarachy, I attack Nazis, Christians, Muslims- all, no exceptions, but the WORST ABUSE, this is suffered by us, the most oppressed class in the history of humanity, WOMEN WHO SURVIVE UNDER ISLAM. You got no idea, so you got no right to speak. I am a Paki, I am anti racist and anti patriarchy, I’ll say what i want, so “COLONIZE THIS”.

  103. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl
    May 15, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Rich white women siding up with rich lazy kuwaiti women, see, they all just stick together, rich with rich, privelage with privelage, every time- all the time, u think someone like that is going to tell me what to think? Listen, I got born in the west, I am British, these african american women who come this site they been in America for centuries also, u think u talking down to us just to protect ure rich racist Kuwaiti, Qatari and Bahrani friends? This is kyriarchy, people like this are part of a huge power system, America never said nothing about the systematic abuse of women in the Gulf, not one thing, you think we’re just on this earth to be kicked, punched, raped, beaten by ure rich Arabi friends, do you? There’s coming a time when everyone will RISE UP AND FIGHT BACK, you will see, all women will rip this system of abuse and humiliation down, and u will go down to- cos YOU defend it. That’s a feminist, huh, how come? Any person who dares to defend Arabi rape of Pakistani and black women- they’re tongue should be forever silenced and they should be dragged in chains through the streets, this is what I think.

  104. fauzia
    May 15, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Amen, Sylvia. Well said.

  105. fauzia
    May 15, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Amen, Sylvia. Well said.

  106. ThePakistaniHereticalGirl
    May 15, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Fauzia, la ta kalima mayaa an al mawdua’ ashaan inti beuun ayaa mualaamat an al ash raq al awsat aw al haal li al Muslimieen aswad. Ana ayrif, ana kunti fi al mamluuka min sana’ 1991 hitta sana’ 1999, ana kunti taliba hunaak fi al madrasa Pakistani idawlyi. Akiid, ana kunti askunti fi dakhal mintaqa sakkaniyyah khass, walikin malaktu asdaqaar arabi, kannuu banaat min al jiraan ashaan kannu shaab arabi qarayib minnu aydan fi sana 1995 taqriba. Ana raaitu kullu shaaiy, any kunti fi baytamhumma was anu kuntu dayf fi munassabi islami, walima etc etc, racism- hadi sahiiyaa wa aaadiy hunaak. Inti Pakistani Murtad (zayy ana) aw Arabi Muslima? Inti arabi, tayyib, lazim inti ihtarahm nafsik, ana Pakistani wa inti arabi- LA TIJADDAL MAYA, ZAYN?

  107. Nombrilisme Vide
    May 15, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    @David Schraub

    The first is shown to be demonstratively false by the Holocaust, not just the act of killing but the refusal to take in refugees. […] More importantly, there is no guarantee that the protection will hold. […] There’s no guarantee it will ever last where we are dependent on the magnanimity of others. You’re guessing, off very flimsy evidence, that the secular nation state will protect us.

    Emphasis added. This is the situation of most minority populations. It is not uniquely Jewish by any means.

    I don’t believe that anyone should have to be the minority everywhere, and Israel provides that opportunity for Jews.

    So let’s take these two sentiments, in their fullness, together. You’re a staunch advocate for the creation of a Roma homeland, I assume? And if not, why not? Is your anti-subordination inextricably tied to your Israeli nationalism?

  108. May 15, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    If the Roma desire an independent homeland, I think they more than have the right to it. I’m not sure they want it, or that there is any Roma Nationalist movement, but if there is all power to them (I do support an independent Kurdish state, though). But it’s their decision, I think.

    The fact that the Roma are somewhat nomadic poses a problem — but in a way I think that’s more of an indictment of the Westphalian system by which only states can give rights, so only people who have states, have rights. The same critique, incidentally, has been used against Jews via the anti-Semitic trope of the Jew as the eternal wanderer. Jews, in such a mindset, are permanently barred from having a home or state (traditionally via a metaphor to Cain, but I think it pops up in any discourse which seeks to uniquely exclude Jews-qua-Jews as candidates for statehood), and then are denied rights by virtue of being stateless.

    I do love, incidentally, how discussing the rights of Jews under an anti-subordination lens has (twice in this thread now!) been taken as facial proof that one doesn’t care about anti-subordination. Between this active effort to exclude, and the substantive absence of literature examining Jewish oppression from a critical lens, one might think that there is a structural/prejudicial bar marginalizing us from the discourse. Maybe?

  109. fauzia
    May 16, 2008 at 11:40 am

    @ PakistaniHereticalGirl

    Now if you are half Pakistani, I just think u must be mixed with Arabi or something, this is also terrible, it’s not Pakistani tradition, as u should know also and now, like so many others in ure situation, you are a apologist for Arab abuse of maids, black women and generations of Pakistanis, so stay with Abdallah and wear ure niqab and do not call urself a Pakistani.

    you have NO IDEA what you’re talking about. academic debate is great, but i would advise you to refrain from personal attacks. who are you to make assumptions about MY heritage or MY past. you have no idea where i’ve lived or what i’ve seen or what kind of muslim or non-muslim family i’ve grown up in. your slandering of other people on this comment stream is outrageous.

    if you want to call substituting one racial stereotype for another an ‘intellectual debate’ then you’ve got another thing coming.

    i really shouldn’t have to give you my background in order to justify anything i’ve said. and just for the record…coming to this blog and slandering one culture in favor of another is not progress, it’s not academic, and it certainly isn’t feminism.

    i’m not an apologist for the crimes against women that happen every day in Arab countries, KHALIS. however, labeling an ENTIRE ethnic group or geographic region because of one’s own experience is just plain ignorant.

    and last but not least…you couldn’t be farther from the truth. i’m not even close to being Arab, though i really don’t understand what my own personal cultural or ethnic affiliations have anything to do with understanding BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS.

  110. fauzia
    May 16, 2008 at 11:42 am

    and just another note: what would be so wrong with being half Arab, half Pakistani? just curious. i wasn’t aware that we are only supposed to mate within our own ethnic groups. i must have missed that human development class.

  111. Nora
    May 16, 2008 at 11:55 am

    PakistaniHereticalGirl – I almost don’t know where to start.

    I lived in Saudi Arabia for 17 years. I saw, firsthand, everything you are talking about. But you fail to recognize two very important things:

    1. Racial hatred and unjust treatment is far from limited to people of Pakistani or Indian descent. I’m ethnically Egyptian and my parents were continually treated as second class citizens in their work environments. They got paid less than their Saudi counterparts (and interestingly, but not surprisingly, they also got paid less than their white counterparts). To suggest that ‘Arabs’ are racist against ‘non-Arabs’ is both simplistic and an over generalization.

    and much more importantly

    2. I am stunned that you seem to think it is acceptable to bring in your own racial prejudices into this. Since when has substituting one racial injustice (Gulfis treatment of foreigners) for another (your own ludicrous stance on Arabs) been a feature of intelligent intellectual debate? I also find it HIGHLY ironic that you chose to post your hateful diatribe against Fauzia in Arabic. Why don’t you translate that so that everyone on here can understand how low you have sunk in your argument?

    Do we have a problem with racism in the Arab world? Absolutely. But am I going to take your word for it? Absolutely not. And you can blame your ridiculous debating ‘tactics’ for that.

  112. Nora
    May 16, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    For the reading enjoyment of everyone on here, below is a translation of what PakistaniHereticalGirl wrote to Fauzia in Arabic transliteration:

    “Fauzia, don’t talk to me about this topic because you have no information about the Middle East or the state of things for black Muslims. I know, I lived in Saudi Arabic from 1991 to 1999. I was a student there at the Pakistani International School. I used to live in a private housing complex, but I made friends with the Arab neighbors at around 1995. I saw everything. I was a guest at their house and was invited to Islamic parties/functions. Racism? That’s something that’s normal there. Are you a Pakistani heretic (like me) or are you an Arab Muslim? You are Arab, ok, then you have to respect your place. I am Pakistani, and you are Arab. DON’T ARGUE WITH ME, OK?”

  113. fauzia
    May 16, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Any person who dares to defend Arabi rape of Pakistani and black women- they’re tongue should be forever silenced and they should be dragged in chains through the streets, this is what I think.

    I’m not a defender of rape of any kind, anywhere, any time by anyone, regardless of ethnic, religious or cultural persuasion. But, it’s clear that you seem to believe in a one sided argument. You’re always right, and no one else is allowed to speak? And if they do…my, my, my your answer is one of tolerance and justice isn’t it?

  114. Nombrilisme Vide
    May 16, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    David –

    The major point I’m trying to raise is that your stance is an explicit rejection of the validity of multi-ethnic liberal democracy. Since most minorities are safe ‘on the whim’ of majorities, you are asserting that they need a seperate homeland to flee to if they become oppressed. This is not, strictly speaking, practical. Are we to create ex nihilo homelands for all minorities that have no overseas homeland to flee back to? All indigenous people who have been colonized into minority status, particularly those who have ethnically been cleansed to do so, must now have one then. Do you advocate this? I’m certainly not saying it would necessarily be unjust to do so, but it’s not practical, will never happen, and would not perforce be just either. Are we to limit it to ethnic minorities? Or do we need a Mormon homeland, an atheist homeland? Furthermore, as was pointed out upthread, this is a divisive stance, and can be highly disruptive to the effort of individuals of a minority to integrate into a multi-ethnic society (which then provides a convenient post hoc justification for the need to have done so). Roma nationalism is a good case-in-point of this. My reading, sparse tho’ it may be on the subject, is that the nationalist movement tends to have little support outside an elite section of the Roma… and also non-Roma reactionaries who wish to use it as a means to expel or marginalize the Roma in their midst. Perhaps if there was any real widespread support for the establishment of a viable Roma state at the international level, there would be more enthusiasm amongst the general population… but there is not, and likely never shall be, so the emphasis on a separate, explicitly national identity would give them only further alienation from the fellow citizens, making them more suspect and underlining their alterité.

    Which brings us back to Israel. You’re citing its founding as embodying general, universal principles for historically oppressed minorities. It did not. These policies are not generalizable. And further, they are antithetical to the notion of multi-ethnic democracy.

  115. Nombrilisme Vide
    May 16, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    I do love, incidentally, how discussing the rights of Jews under an anti-subordination lens has (twice in this thread now!) been taken as facial proof that one doesn’t care about anti-subordination. Between this active effort to exclude, and the substantive absence of literature examining Jewish oppression from a critical lens, one might think that there is a structural/prejudicial bar marginalizing us from the discourse. Maybe?

    I notice I wasn’t entirely clear in addressing this. My questioning your dedication was not an attempt to marginalize and exclude you from discourse. It was pointing out that your anti-subordination, as you present it here, is meaningful only in reference to Israeli nationalism. It cannot be applied to a broader context, your vague handwaving to the contrary notwithstanding. Eliminating the subordination of ethnic groups by recourse to avenues of flight, and the the establishment of boltholes, is (and I’m going to go ahead and be subjective here) Not A Good Thing. It is (back to objectivity) not practical in any but a tiny handful of cases. It is divisive, and enforces a victim/victimizer dichotomy: either you are in a minority status and are perforce vulnerable to victimization, or you are in a majority status, and only due to the force thus afforded you, are not vulnerable. However, implicitly by the preceding logic, you are now in a position to victimize others unless you exclude minorities from your nation; just as you cannot trust them not to victimize you, they cannot trust you to not victimize them. And so by this logic, these minorities must now at least have or establish a majoritarian homeland to flee to, and would free themselves from subordination by doing so. Which would leave us where? In a world full of explicitly ethnically defined states. Please do not tell me that this is an ideal outcome, or that by removing ethnic nationalism to the state level subordination of minority populations would cease. Alternatively, please tell me how this is not a consequence of trying to generalize your logic.

  116. Sylvia
    May 16, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    I’m sorry Jill and others to sidebar this thread with Pakistani Heretic Girl, but I feel compelled to speak..erm write (Please feel free to gloss over our comments and thank you all for your patience).

    ThePakistaniHereticalGirl says:

    May 15th, 2008 at 3:10 pm – Edit

    Sylvia, You got no right to erase our experience as women of color and you got no right to ignore racism against black women either.

    I’m not ignoring them. I explicity wrote your experiences (and by extension the African women you’re speaking of) are valid. However, what I am saying and I hope you understand this: this isn’t ONLY about you and whomever you’ve decided to “speak for” (which by the way- you cannot represent the whole of all Pakistani/Muslim/x-Muslim/Brown Women). You are just one person who is sharing your views and that’s great- but please refrain from representing all of “them”.

    If you can’t handle a Paki speaking out, that’s ure problem. People who just want me in a hijab staring wide eyed with me mouth open all amazed cos I am now in the west- this is the people who are making stereotypes, not my fault ure a racist either.

    I can sense you’re coming from a place where you are always on the defense, and I’m sorry for that. People have probably abused you to the point where you now feel compelled to verbally lashing out at everyone who directs any kind of exchange with you. Our experiences color our perceptions and our perceptions direct our actions. While I realize you don’t mean to, your posts appear to perpetuate racism (the bashing of all Arab women), stereotypes (Pakistani’s think this or that), Xenophobic (the “West”, “Islamic World”, etc)- these are not monoliths. Example: A Southern Baptist is different from an Canadian Athiest who is different from a Muslim Londoner who is different from a Irish Catholic- and this is just the “West”. I can handle you speaking out- but I’m trying to engage you in a rational discussion about the ramifications of what you’re saying (and by extension what I’m saying as well.) If you don’t want to engage with me (as opposed to “at me”), then that’s fine. Its your choice.

    i KNOW exactly the people who done all this bad stuff to me- it’s agents of theocratic patriarachy, I attack Nazis, Christians, Muslims- all, no exceptions, but the WORST ABUSE, this is suffered by us, the most oppressed class in the history of humanity, WOMEN WHO SURVIVE UNDER ISLAM. You got no idea, so you got no right to speak. I am a Paki, I am anti racist and anti patriarchy, I’ll say what i want, so “COLONIZE THIS”.

    First and foremost, no one group can say that they are “more oppressed” than another or have been abused “the most”- because every oppressed class, race, gender, etc has the right to have their pain, conflicts, voices heard and not be judged on some arbitrary scale of injustice that is relative to your suffering. And to trump your experiences above theirs is an insult I think to the their experiences and diminishes their legitimacy. Secondly, pray tell- how do you know what I do and do not know? Tell me, what do you know of me or my experiences? Where I’m from? What I believe? Please, I’m genuinely interested in what you think I am and what I believe in.

  117. Sylvia
    May 16, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    and diminishes their legitimacy

    Just to be clear- I meant to say this comparing of “oppression” would make the other oppressed groups feel like their greivances were being diminished by being compared to everyone else’s injustices.

  118. Sylvia
    May 16, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Rich white women siding up with rich lazy kuwaiti women, see, they all just stick together, rich with rich, privelage with privelage, every time- all the time, u think someone like that is going to tell me what to think? Listen, I got born in the west, I am British, these african american women who come this site they been in America for centuries also, u think u talking down to us just to protect ure rich racist Kuwaiti, Qatari and Bahrani friends? This is kyriarchy, people like this are part of a huge power system, America never said nothing about the systematic abuse of women in the Gulf, not one thing, you think we’re just on this earth to be kicked, punched, raped, beaten by ure rich Arabi friends, do you? There’s coming a time when everyone will RISE UP AND FIGHT BACK, you will see, all women will rip this system of abuse and humiliation down, and u will go down to- cos YOU defend it. That’s a feminist, huh, how come? Any person who dares to defend Arabi rape of Pakistani and black women- they’re tongue should be forever silenced and they should be dragged in chains through the streets, this is what I think.

    Did I miss something? Who’s this rich white woman you speak of? Is there a comment that I missed or something?

  119. May 16, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Wow, I’ve missed a lot of this thread — my apologies. I’m not going to jump into the fray except to say, PakistaniHereticalGirl, you are completely entitled to your opinion, but you’re veering awfully close to racism here, in addition to making some very offensive and unwarranted comments towards many of our regular community members. So I’m going to ask you to bow out of this thread. And if you don’t want to bow out, well, then I’ll be deleting the rest of your comments.

  120. May 16, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Nom: I don’t “reject” liberal multi-ethnic democracies, I’m just skeptical about them. I was arguing against Morningstar’s claim that the establishment of the secular enlightenment state is sufficient for us to cease worrying about the safety and security of Jews, which I think clearly is a bogus assertion. The history of liberal m-e democracies is not so taint-free as to make them deserve such blind devotion. Groups which, for whatever reason, decide to pursue autonomy and self-determination as a response to their oppressed status are making a legitimate decision (though not every group which is oppressed may choose this option — I’m a Jew living in the US, so clearly to some degree I’m trying to carve a different route to equalized status). Atheists aren’t pursuing a separate homeland, nor are Mormons (anymore). The Zionist movement, by contrast, was neither the sole province of the elites nor enacted by a marginal portion of the Jewish community. It was (in contrast to Roma nationalism) a live project. This is the French bureaucrat’s exception: “Sure, Zionism works in practice — but does it work in theory?”

    The establishment of Israel is based off one legitimate response to the sort of oppressive situation that Jews faced themselves under — one that has proven rather uniquely resistant (for a variety of reasons) to being “remedied” by enlightenment universalism (if — as I have argued against — that was the goal of enlightenment universalism at all). It’s “universal” in the sense that I think groups have a right to pursue autonomy in this fashion, but not in the sense that I demand that be their only choice. I advocate a pragmatic and pluralist outlook in how groups craft responses to oppression, one that emphasizes their standpoint and their experiences, rather than trying to impress upon them one size fits all solutions.

  121. Nombrilisme Vide
    May 16, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    And my reason for bringing up the Roma is that their situation has had many parallels with the Jewish situation, right up to the devastation inflicted by the Shoah. However, they’re not, in general, pursuing an extra-national solution to their problems. They’re trying to integrate. This is reflective of pragmatism amongst other reasons, I’m sure, as no one is offering to carve them out a homeland; they had and have no Balfour Declaration. But this is where I object to your portrayal of the foundation of Israel as it was carried out as a legitimate response: you become an easy apologist for the oppression inherent in the Nakba. The establishment of Israel as it was planned and executed would be a legitimate response to their oppression if 1) there was literally no alternative, or 2) it did not itself cause substantial oppression. Neither is true. There are, as you have admitted, alternatives., but the Zionist movement was markedly uninterested in pursuing them. The foundation of an ethnically defined state in territories where the the ethnicity in question is a minority cannot be reasonably expected to avoid oppression; history vindicated this in the dissolution of mandate Palestine.

  122. May 16, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Nom@123: But this is where I object to your portrayal of the foundation of Israel as it was carried out as a legitimate response: you become an easy apologist for the oppression inherent in the Nakba. The establishment of Israel as it was planned and executed would be a legitimate response to their oppression if 1) there was literally no alternative, or 2) it did not itself cause substantial oppression. Neither is true. There are, as you have admitted, alternatives., but the Zionist movement was markedly uninterested in pursuing them.

    This boils down to “Jews didn’t show sufficient commitment to calm, dispassionate, reflective, deliberate action as to all the potential alternatives to Zionism three years after the Holocaust“, which is just ridiculously insensitive. Moreover, no other alternative on the horizon immediately gave Jews things that the Holocaust showed were absolutely critical for them: most namely, a place to flee to in times of oppression, and also political autonomy and self-determination they wouldn’t have anywhere else. Maybe liberal democracies might eventually develop a sufficient ethical compass so that Jews can count on that later on, but there’s a) no way to guarantee it will ever happen and b) no indication of when we’ll get there (I suspect only when anti-Semitism has been eradicated entirely, at which point the question is moot). And in the mean time, Jews just have to sit on their hands and hope they don’t get killed again. That doesn’t mean we cease working on reformist efforts, but they can’t be the only legitimated avenue for liberation.

    It’s amazing how such conditions are always imposed by the dominators on the dominated. Blacks, women, Jews, whoever — they’re always told they have a moral obligation to “turn the other cheek” to the violence against them (Christian metaphor intended), and if they refuse, now they’re the real bad guys. It’s a consistent theme in the rationalization of oppression.

    Your burden puts the onus on the oppressed class to craft a liberation agenda which maps perfectly onto an idealized fantasy that doesn’t exist and systematized rules and procedures which were crafted with reference to the current oppressive reality — they have to be both the paragons of idealized justice which nobody else practices and meet technical hurdles designed specifically to ratify an existing power structure which keeps Jews at the bottom. Speaking only of the oppression created, it pays no mind to the oppression present, which is taken to be a neutral baseline built into the system which Jews can legitimately be forced to absorb. In a world with French nation-states, Arab nation-states, Persian nation-states, Chinese nation-states, all manner of nation-states, even a Palestinian nation-state intended to be created contemporaneously with Israel, only the Jewish-nation state is conceived as a request for “special rights”, because only the Jewish-nation state is seen as something external to the status quo state of affairs predicated on anti-Semitic domination (which of course, it was).

    That, I submit, puts the bridge over my back (if you will). Rather, I think that the remedies chosen by the oppressed have presumptive validity and the burden is on the oppressors to forge alternate paths. So I’d turn the burden back onto you. For you to show the establishment of Israel in 1948 was unjust, you have to show an alternative that in 1948 could promise in 1948 that Jews would be protected from state sponsored violence, that would unconditionally grant asylum to Jewish refugees, and that would not politically marginalize Jews as a class. That liberal democracy might eventually get there in some misty-eyed idealistic future isn’t good enough, because Jews are dying today.

  123. May 17, 2008 at 10:12 am

    israel as a state for arabs and jews is really the only solution to this mess. no one would’ve been opposed to that if that was what happened in the very beggining.

    About a fifth of the Israeli – meaning pre-1967 part of Israel – populatation is Arab. There are Muslim Arabs in Israel’s security forces and military. No one really likes to talk about them (either because it shows that Israel can be quite at peace with Arabs when those Arabs aren’t trying to kill them, or because it shows that Arabs can be quite peaceful with Jews and other Israelis when permitted to be full Israeli citizens; either one irritates somebody’s worldview).

    Mitchforth, the fact that the Ottomans and British had conquered that territory didn’t give them the right to give it away. Palestinians were living there; therefore, the land belonged to those Palestinians.

    Jews had been living there too, therefore the land belonged to them. Makes just as much sense (and is the crux of dilemma really, since both have a moral claim to the territory).

  124. May 19, 2008 at 10:21 am

    israel as a state for arabs and jews is really the only solution to this mess. no one would’ve been opposed to that if that was what happened in the very beginning.

    Actually, doesn’t it seem that we are recognizing more and more these days that such alliances are difficult if not impossible?

    Different peoples (whether defined by ethnicity, religion, or any other factor) can certainly share a common country, in theory. They can do so even if they detest each other, provided that there is sufficient ‘insulation’ from third parties (See; new york city.) But if/when they have mutual animosity, and also lack an insulating and/or controlling third party, it doesn’t seem to work that well.

    In fact, the recent trend towards separatism seems to support this view.

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