MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Gaza tragedy unfolding
Events in Gaza have the inevitability of Greek tragedy. Could anyone have doubted that Hamas's antics would end in an Israeli attack? Was it really conceivable that Israel or any other country would do nothing in response to daily rocket and mortar barrages? That Israel would not react to the continued imprisonment of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit? As if terrorizing half the Western Negev was not enough, Hamas had to rub salt in the wounds by staging a grotesque victory parade worthy of a barbarian emperor, in which they publicly taunted Israel and the parents of Gilad Shalit. It was the sort of show that is outlawed by international law, that hasn't been practiced since the Middle Ages, but it attracted hardly a murmur of international condemnation. The Palestinians had their gladiator show. The admission price was yet to be paid.
The United Nations officials and EU officials who are busy casting the blame for the loss of innocent lives should look in the mirror first of all. They witnessed the events in Gaza and did nothing. They allowed the Hamas to take over the Gaza strip and did nothing to restore the legitimate government. They witnessed the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and did nothing to free him or even to ensure that he was treated according to international law. They allowed the smuggling of weapons, and worried only about a bogus humanitarian crisis in Gaza. They allowed the continuing rocket and mortar fire into Israel and did nothing. Only a blind person could not see the rage of ordinary Israelis, who could not fathom why the world allows rockets to rain down on our towns and has nothing to say other than "restraint." No government or international agency made any serious move to stop the rocket fire, to eliminate the unlawful Hamas government and to restore order and decent administration in Gaza. Didn't the Greek chorus of foreign officials warn about their concern over and over? And didn't they do as little to stop the tragedy as the chorus in Oedipus Rex?
The Israeli attack was well planned, we are told. The international reaction could also have been scripted in advance. The UN Security Council meeting, the faked civilian casualty figures, the pious calls to refrain from violence, could all have been written up in advance of the attack. The hypocrisy generators are running at full capacity. The West Bank Palestinian Authority deplores the Israeli attacks officially. while unnamed Palestinian officials express the hope that Israel will oust Hamas and allow Fatah to take over in Gaza. A report that is not hard to believe claims that Mahmoud Abbas begged Israel to attack the Hamas in private, while Palestinian authority officials deplored the "barbaric" and "unnecessary" attack in public.
Several Hamas terror groupie fan clubs immediately fabricated a charge that Israel had committed a "massacre" in Gaza. Several such protests appeared within a few hours of the first Israeli attacks, They could not possibly have gathered conclusive evidence of a massacre in that time, even if one had occurred, but the press releases were sent out as a matter of routine procedure. Facts don't matter. Notable among these is the CAIR organization, which is usually so insistent that not all Muslims support terror. Not all Muslims support terror, that's true -- but CAIR does. They have made that much crystal clear. Eyyad Sarraj, who has been associated with "humanitarian" advocacy in Gaza in the past, was regrettably a signatory of another such "massacre" manifesto.
According to Reuters:
The homes were targeted because they housed rockets, launchers or other terror paraphernalia. This doesn't sound like a massacre. It is not recorded that Hamas ever called any Israeli civilians to warn them of rocket attacks. There is no evidence that Israel deliberately targeted civilians, and most of the evidence indicates that Israel hit primarily Gaza police installations and personnel.
But none of the above should prevent us from seeing clearly what most likely lies ahead. After every other solution failed, one would like to hope that the military solution would succeed. But we should not confuse our wishes with reality. Didn't Israel pound Gaza continuously in 2006 after the abduction of Gilad Shalit? And what good did that do? Didn't Israel pound Lebanese targets in the Second Lebanon War? Did it oust the Hezbollah?
Short of Israel retaking Gaza in what would no doubt be a blood bath, what can be the outcome of this attack beyond Hamas remaining somehow intact and declaring "victory?" Israeli officials are a bit more cautious with their pronouncements than they were in the disastrous Second Lebanon War. Still, before the attack, Israel GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant said that an IDF attack would try to "send Gaza decades into the past" in terms of weapons capabilities. Since Israel held the Gaza strip until 2005, it is impossible to understand what Galant thought he was talking about.
Can there be much doubt about the outcome of the Israeli attack? The scripting of a tragedy cannot allow for a happy end. At the end of the exercise there will be an additional 300 or 500 or a thousand dead people, but it is very unlikely that the situation in Gaza will have budged very much. It is even likely that the attack will leave Israel in a worse position than it was before the attack.If the Gaza operation is a failure, nobody in Israel will remember that they clamored for it. Wisdom would seem to dictate, in hindsight, that the attack should have been avoided at all costs. The characteristics of tragedy however, arethat the outcome is foreseen. The protagonists are drawn inevitably to their own destruction by a succession of events which they seem to control, whereas in fact, their destinies are fore-ordained by the fates.
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Replies: 31 comments
"could all have been written up in advance of the attack." No "could have" about it; they recite the same BS over and over (with the assistance of a thesaurus of course so it sounds slightly different).
Would the international "community" side up with Hamas, Hez, et al if Israel really went for broke? That there is no answer to that is frightening; we're contributing to our own destruction with our inaction...it's all a show to the "community," few have the backbone of their words.
Posted by Blandly Urbane @ 12/29/2008 05:04 PM CST
Israelâ€™s bombing of Gaza at this juncture in world events is a gamble intended to arrest further rocket assaults on its territory. Wars are ended by capitulation, not by cease fires. Israel's conflict with Palestinians is not a war between armies; it is a protracted series of skirmishes between an army and a guerrilla force, a persistent instance of asymmetrical warfare. Its continuance has been supported by Arab States - Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria in particular - for reasons related to Islamic imperialism, religious bigotry, the usurpation of Arab lands by Zionists, a perceived loss of dignity in the various wars with Israel, and religio-political agendas promoted by inciting followers. Absent a conquest, cessation of the conflict would seem to require satiation, saturation with death. That is the course which Israel has taken, an attempt to alter the climate of relationship with Gazans through harsh, asymmetric punishment. The thinking apparently is, if the Palestinian populace undergo brutal enough consequences for continuing to support the daily rocket attacks that Hamas mounts against Israel from Gaza, Palestinians in this area may reverse their approval of Hamas.
Israelis, from their standpoint, withdrew from Gaza and left it for the Palestinians to govern themselves. The Gazans chose a leadership, Hamas, that is guided by a charter that has as its objective the return of Israel to Islamic rule under the belief that the land is â€śconsecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Dayâ€ť (http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm). The charter specifically rejects all attempts at negotiation. Given the totalitarian nature of this organization â€“ identified in its charter as the Islamic Resistance Movement, an arm of the Moslem Brotherhood Movement - the extent to which voting represented intimidation, common Gazan acceptance of the beliefs and goals of Hamas, or common rejection of Fateh and the PLO for its corruption and lack of public services remains unclear. In any case, Hamas portrays a religious commitment to obliterate Israel and attempts to recruit all Moslems, Arabs, and Palestinians to its cause. The Gazan rocket attacks against Israel are the work of the military arm of Hamas. I got an inhabitantâ€™s report about pre-cease-fire rockets in Ashkalon when I was in that city just last week. The issue is less the number of people killed by the scores of daily rocket explosions as the continued stress that inhabitants undergo, especially the children. Israelis feel that they have tried all means short of violent confrontation to eliminate the rocket fire. They even gave Hamas a one-week warning to cease the rocket fire before engaging in the current bombing action.
One danger in all acts of war is unintended consequences. In this case, while many Palestinians in Gaza may wish to see the rocketing of Israel cease so that the murderous Israeli retaliation ceases, Hamas may continue their provocation as part of their larger fight to inflame Moslem hearts and minds. The gaining of popular support is the underlying essence of this conflict and its essential battleground. Pursuant to these bombings, demonstrations have erupted in many Arab States. While political leaders may wish to quell the demagogues, one cannot predict the strength or duration of religious fires once ignited. Israelâ€™s military might may be superior, but it has not in the past shown equivalent proficiency in making their case to the international community and winning over public opinion. One disadvantage of democracy is that it does not speak with one voice; it is fragmented. Theocratic movements on the other hand use demagoguery and authoritarian tactics to enlist or enforce cohesion. Israel may soon find that in its effort to bring peace and security to its borders by ruthless means, it has deepened its schism with Islamic societies and provoked a pan-Islamic backlash that intensifies rather than diminishes the risk and loss of life to its citizens. The weakening of Hamas within Gaza to bring peace might be counterbalanced by invigoration of anti-Semitic sentiment in the Arab world pressuring governments to engage in militaristic actions that will bring far more harm to Israelis than Hamas rockets have brought. That is the risk Israel runs. But what is their choice?
Posted by Peter Irwin @ 12/30/2008 04:34 PM CST
Why is it that we question the leadership decisions on the war effort ?
Posted by joseph @ 01/01/2009 08:26 AM CST
Gaza tragedy unfolding
My perception is that Israel intended for Hamas to take over Gaza. Consider the following sequence of events: Prior to withdrawing from Gaza, Israel did all that it could to bomb and destroy the offices and the infrastructure of Fatah, including an attack and seige on Arafat's office building and headquarters with tanks and machine guns. Israel arrested or killed many of the leaders of Fatah, and it destroyed all the helicopters and air-transport capability that the Palestinian Authority posessed. Israel withheld large amounts of tax funds from the PA that could have funded stronger leadership and governance abilities. Then, with Fatah financially starved and weakened, in disarray, and incapable of projecting control over Gaza, Israel suddenly decided to withdraw.
Israel acted surprised (quite disingenuously) when Hamas took control of Gaza.
What Israel has allowed to happen in Occupied Gaza will very likely predjudice the outcome of future negotiations. They have effectively divided one enemy into two smaller ones. -Sounds very much like a strategy to divide and conquer.
By facilitating the takeover of Gaza by Hamas (thus de-stabilizing the region), it also places a convenient roadblock to stop the "Roadmap" peace plan that US president-elect Obama seems likely to pursue aggressively once he takes office. Therefore the Hamas rocket attacks should be considered an anticipated outcome of the Hamas takeover, a minor prelude to the current counter-offensive Israel has undertaken.
Will Israel's counter-offensive against targets in Gaza reduce the rocket attacks or other "undesirable" symptoms of the current situation? In the long run, the likely answer is no. In fact, it will probably have the opposite effect on the political strength of Hamas. Hamas will gain support, and Fatah will be further weakened.
If Israel really wanted the withdrawal from Gaza to go well, it could have taken appropriate steps to strengthen Fatah and the PA prior to it's withdrawal. No one is asking why that didn't happen.
The government of Israel does not want a peace settlement based on the Roadmap. It wants to place a roadblock on the roadmap to peace. Having a militant organization like Hamas in control of Gaza effectively constitutes the roadblock Israel needs. Israel will use the violence of it's disproportionate counter-offensive against Hamas to poison the water for president-elect Obama before he takes office.
I was particularly disturbed to hear that Israel has bombed a prison in Gaza. I am not aware of casualty figures directly attributable to this target, but I imagine that this prison would likely have been holding many political enemies of Hamas who would have been rounded up during raids of opposition offices after the Hamas takeover.
Sooo... why bomb buildings that contain those people who would oppose your enemy? Is it possible that Israel intends to help Hamas consolidate it's power in Gaza by helping to eliminate it's enemies?
Posted by Kiev500 @ 01/01/2009 11:17 AM CST
What I do not understand: If Israel (Judea) was initially a Jewish land, conquered by the Romans and won by the Arabs, the Arabs have the land (unless we were willing to return American and other countries' soil to the precious owners too(and maybe kill the people living there?). Impossible. When Jews received the land, they also conquered it (just not through war). Both sides need the land, and they should at least try to live in peace. Hamas will not allow peace to prevail, though. But the worst part is that the people of Palestine massively voted for Hamas in 2006. That makes the people Hamas' accomplices, thus, not victims. I am sorry, but the wounds to Palestinians are self-inflicted. Had Hamas not started to send rockets over Israel, they would still be enjoying a truce.
Posted by Brian Kerr @ 01/03/2009 11:47 PM CST
Ummm... don't be sorry. If that's truly what you believe, then stand by it proudly.
One small point: No one except Israel wants a cease-fire or a truce. Everyone else (the entire world in fact) prefers to immediately pursue a permanent peace agreement based on the Roadmap. And yes, the Roadmap stipulates that Israel should be free from attacks, but it also stipulates that ALL settlement activity conducted by Israel in Occupied Territory is illegal and must stop immediately.
Both parties are continuously violating these stipulations.
As for myself, I'm quite convinced that Israel intended for Hamas to take control of Gaza when they withdrew. Heck, if they had only withdrawn from Gaza while Arafat was still alive and the Palestinian Authority was strong, chances are good that a permanent peace agreement would already be implemented. I suppose that might explain why they didn't.
Clearly Israel is not afraid of Hamas. Israel does not consider Hamas to be even a minimal threat to it's national interests. Their rockets are pittiful compared to Israel's armament. No, Israel is not afraid of Hamas, Israel is afraid of the Roadmap.
Posted by Kiev500 @ 01/04/2009 08:54 AM CST
Whether the Israeli government intended for Hamas to take over Gaza, or not (and I agree with Kiev500 that they probably did), they certainly made it inevitable.
As for Mr. Isseroff's indignation that the UN and EU "did nothing" about the Gaza takeover, weapons smuggling, rockets, and Shalit, they've done exactly the same about Israeli settlements, nuclear arms, seizure of Palestinian land and resources, settler pogroms, maintenance of Palestinian exile, supersonic overflights to terrorize Gazan civilians, blockades, assassinations, home demolitions, assaults on and imprisonment of non-violent activists, etc. I doubt that an active and impartial EU, in particular, would be at all to Mr. Isseroff's, or Israel's, liking.
Posted by Aaron Levitt @ 01/04/2009 06:14 PM CST
Thinking... I am not aware of the status of the West Bank territory regarding UN monitoring. I don't know if there is a monitoring program in place there or not. Open to info regarding that.
I will venture a guess that if Israel is demanding UN monitors be placed in the Gaza Strip, then there have been NO monitors in the Occupied Territories prior to this point. Therefore, if Israel wants UN monitors to be placed in Gaza, then it must also allow them to be placed in all of the disputed West Bank territory.
Monitors in ALL the territories would be good for the peace process because they would observe and report on all violations committed by all of the involved parties.
The question is, would Israel accept this plan?
Posted by Kiev500 @ 01/05/2009 07:28 AM CST
In the end history will show that the Zionist pigs were no better than the Nazi's they cry about. Israeli apologists may say that it is simply a matter of reactionary behavior played out by both sides building up to a head, a game of tit for tat. The unapportionate damage inflicted upon the Palestinian people by Israel and the countless war crimes committed by Israel will be her undoing. I don't know if anyone has noticed, but Israel's big buddy the good 'ole US of A isn't going to be around for ever, at least not in it's current state. And, the US will not always support Israel. So for you Zionists out there, here's a little food for thought. The hate you sow will be the hate that hate you will reap. After all, pre - WWII Germany would never have allowed the likes of Adolph Hitler to rise to power had not the Zionists fostered haterd by the mistreatment of the German people.
Posted by Shane Gibson @ 01/06/2009 07:27 PM CST
Personally, I believe the USA will always support Israel more than most other nations of the world. I don't think that necessarily has to be a bad thing. However, the form of that support may change dramatically with the new administration which will take office in just a few days. Under the current (outgoing) Bush administration, US support has been EXACTLY what the government of Israel wanted it to be. And... some would argue that what the GOI wants is not always the best thing for Israel.
In the future, my hope is that our support will be much more focused on forcing a permanent peace agreement by use of positive and negative incentives.
For instance, we should first balance aid and funding (measured per capita) for both sides. Then, implement disincentives to reduce that funding for every single violation of Roadmap stipulations by either side.
If that does not produce results, military intervention should be considered.
Finally, with a permanent peace agreement in place, we should then fashion an economic aid package to implement a long-term symbiotic trade and manufacturing relationship between the two sides. This relationship will supplant and ultimately replace the "free" aid that the USA has been supplying in the past. Under this arrangement, both sides become completely interdependent on each other and on regional stability for economic success.
As an example, the world could choose not to buy products from Israel. Instead, the world would choose to buy products that are partially produced in Israel, then shipped across the border to be finished in Palestine. For the time being, the direction of the product movement (from Israel into Palestine) is safer for Israel because it precludes the necessity for cargo inspection by the GOI. This program would be similar to the "dolphin-safe" slogan that has been applied to the tuna industry. Products bearing a "mid-East peace certified" seal would allow shoppers to use their power as consumers to support BOTH Israel and Palestine.
Such a plan would force both sides to consider how their policies or actions might negatively impact the other side, because if one side is undermined or fails, they would then both fail. I think this could be regarded as philosophically similar to the Cold War policy of mutually assured destruction between the USA and USSR. In this case we can call it Mutually Assured Success.
Sorry so long.
Posted by Kiev500 @ 01/07/2009 05:32 AM CST
Cogratulations Israel! Hit and continue to hit until you bring Hamas to its knees. The world will realise the terror menace only after the UN is hit. You cant wait that long. The Indians are already paying very highly for being wobbled kneed. Good luck!
Posted by DB Mhapankar @ 01/07/2009 07:39 AM CST
the Jews will be responsible for the next world war. we will all very soon regret that Hitler missed a few. the days are here, good luck
Posted by Main Man @ 01/08/2009 07:29 AM CST
I can sum this whole mess up in one simple paragraph..... If the displaced surviving 250,000 Jews of The Holocaust were not illegally given the rights to occupy the Palestine territory none of this would have never happened. Unfortunately- this mess was created by Anglo-Americans with the help of Authur James Balfour (A British Person... with no native ties to Palestine). How can other countries give a group of people the right to take over another's land??? This clearly is another case of how the west was won.... We read about cases like this in our history books in elementary school. It was done to the Native Americans, parts of Africa, and throughout the Asia. The sad part is we forget stuff like this and when the under-dogs makes an attempt to revolt we look at them like they are the Antagonist. I wish that people would wise up and for once in their lives be "upright"....Give the Palestine back to the Palestinian.... Palestine is not their Homeland. Jews should go back to Germany and reclaim their land.
Posted by Miss Politically Correct @ 01/08/2009 07:31 AM CST
In one important way, the current situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories is different than (quote) "how the West was won". Present day America does not preclude any Native (indigenous) American from living, working, or voting in any state. I'd say the current situation is more like Apartied, because there is an ongoing drive to maintain a Jewish state regardless of the growth of any non-Jewish segment of the population inside Israel. This conflicts with the concept of a free democracy.
Regardless of how things came to be, most of the Jews who were re-settled in Israel from Europe after WWII are gone now. Their children should not be blamed for a sin of the fathers. The same holds true for the Palestinian children of today.
I believe the only way to resolve this conflict is for Israel to withdraw back to the Green Line, which was the last legal and internationally recognized position they held. Subsequent to that withdrawal, the formation of a provisional Palestinian state would occur. Israel could then attempt to trade with the provisional Palestinian state to swap land and large amounts of money for small adjustments of the Green Line which might accomodate some settlements near the border. However, Israel would have to give up the vast majority of the Settlements lying deeper inside the Green Line. Special considerations should be given to adjustment of the border in and around Jerusalem so that religious centers of both sides remain under appropriate jurisdiction.
Of course, each side would also have to reign in their religious fanatics and teach tolerance and respect for others.
In my book of dreams, this is the first page.
Posted by Kiev500 @ 01/08/2009 10:48 AM CST
Israel / Palestine Peace Plan
Ever since the British mucked up the Middle East by issuing the Balfour Declaration in November 1917, the Arabs and Jews have struggled for control of the land. In 1947, the UN partitioned the land into Arab and Jewish states. The partition immediately caused the Arabs to go to war. A war they lost and allowed the Jews to expand their territory and create thousands of Palestinian refugees. Almost from the beginning, the disposed Arabs refused to accept the partition, and have vowed to fight until Israel no longer exists.
It seems logical that this conflict can only be resolved in one of two ways. The first would be that one side would need to completely defeat the other militarily, and then absorb the loser into one nation so that that the whole could progress instead of the current perpetual stale mate.
The second method is similar to the first but involves Israel using its history of a stable government to teach and include elected officials of Palestine in one unicameral type government. This would effectively remove the fight for how much land each side controls, as it becomes one land.
Furthermore, the refuge problems no longer exist because they now belong to the whole. Prosperity and the right to work and live in peace becomes more than just a wish, with only one state in existence, and governed by the elected members of both Arab and Jews. Undoubtedly, such things as what to call the new state would cause problems, as I am sure both sides would want to name it either Palestine or Israel.
Posted by TJ @ 01/10/2009 04:59 AM CST
It is apparent that Israel would prefer no more than to remove the people of Gaza all together. There should never be peace in the region, as long as Israel live on the heads of the muslims there. How can the world ever accept that? The more the muslims suffer, the sooner muslims world wide, will come together and destroy the wrongdoings there. I pray to God to strengthen muslims and bring them together, to defeat these criminals.
Posted by tareef @ 01/10/2009 06:35 AM CST
I donâ€™t believe the struggle is about Muslims, or that Israel wants to remove all Muslims from the land.
The fight is about the land itself. In 1993, the PLO signed the Oslo Declaration of Principles, renouncing violence and recognized the right of Israel to exist. In return, Palestinians gained the rights to Gaza and the West Bank.
This is a perfect example of a negotiated settlement to the conflict, which leaves out the hatred and the ridiculous notion that either side is entitled to all of the land. You cannot remove 7 million Jews any more than you can remove all the Muslims without destroying the land and surrounding areas for thousands of years.
Both sides have to work together to build one land that can be shared with equal opportunities for all.
Posted by TJ @ 01/10/2009 05:36 PM CST
If the USA were so very worried about the displaced Jews in 1948 why didn't they create a Jewish State in the USA???? It's a question many are asking today. We are unconvinced by USA support for the State of Israel - while displacing Palestinians. Why should Palestinians pay for what Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy did to the Jewry of Europe???
The world demonstrates in this moment against the slaughter perpetuated by Israel against the Palestinians and many are vowing to boycott Israel and USA. So be it! It's what you deserve! Murder is unforgiveable - do not think you are entitled to slaughter the Palestinians!
Posted by A M Jordan @ 01/10/2009 09:34 PM CST
I agree that this conflict at it's core is about land. Stealing land by political and religious means is a very powerful corrupting influence on the GOI. This is why Israel will never allow a "one-state" solution. Such an arrangement would mean diluting Israeli authority over the land with "non-Jewish" interests and agendas. Such a thing will never happen because Zionists regard this concept as a form of destruction of the state of Israel.
Israel has many non-Jewish citizens, but none of those citizens are allowed to move into the Settlements Israel has placed inside the Occupied Territories. Jewish citizens of Israel continue to enjoy preferential treatment and special rights awarded by the government that non-Jews are denied. A good example is the granting of building permits, commonly denied to non-Jews, which allows a "legal" method to manipulate the "facts on the ground".
But all of this is old news. No permanent peace agreement will come about without significant incentives (read FORCE) being applied by the UN and interested outside parties like the USA. Money from various pro-Israel charities, religious groups, and political lobby groups (mostly based in the USA) must be dried up in order to end it's corrupting influence on the GOI.
Change is coming, or so they say. Cross your fingers and pray. Pray that this time the change is real and lasting. It all starts at the Green Line. Zionists must give up the dream of a greater Israel. Palestinians must realize there will be no return to homes vacated in the early days. Both sides must recognize the Green Line as the start of a provisional Palestinian state with full control over it's borders and natural resources.
Posted by Kiev500 @ 01/11/2009 05:22 AM CST
I know this will be wasted on most of the people who have commented here, but Iâ€™m going to write it anyway. The Palestinians have suffered two great historical misfortunes. One misfortune wasnâ€™t their fault, while the other was. The first misfortune was to have colonized land still claimed by somebody else. The second was to have leaders who didnâ€™t understand the meaning of the Jewish return to Israel.
In the comments here, Iâ€™ve seen several claims that the Palestinians were on the land first. The truth is the Palestinians were not the first on the land, but the last in a long line of peoples. Amiâ€™s site does a good job summarizing the regionâ€™s history, but Iâ€™ll just remind people that the Palestinians are Arabs, and that the Arabs conquered, read colonized, Palestine in the 7th century of the current era. Of course not all Palestinians came to Palestine then. As Ami has pointed out, some came from the Arabian Peninsula in the 16th and 17th centuries, some came as slaves from Sudan in the 19th century. The UN defined a Palestinian refuge as any Arab living in the region two years prior to partition, hardly an eternal presence.
The reality is the Jews were there first, although many people try hard to dismiss this fact. Some dismiss this by saying it is based on a bunch of silly stories. Often, the same people who make this claim will listen with rapt attention to the stories of other indigenous peoplesâ€™ and proclaim how those other stories show a long and sacred connection with the land. But somehow for Jews, itâ€™s different.
The Torah and the Tanak are simply the Jewsâ€™ sacred history. They explain how the Jews came to be a people and how they came to live in their land. They are not true the way we define truth today just as they are not history the way we now define history. But there is a truth and a history to them, and it is wrong to dismiss them so easily, just as it is wrong to dismiss the stories of any indigenous people.
Others dismiss the Jews claim to a homeland by dismissing the Jews. Many Palestinian Arabs, including Hamas, have taken this approach. For them, the Jews do not exist. They are simply outsiders, colonizers placed there by Europeans and Americans. But because the Palestinians were not the landâ€™s original inhabitants, they have no sacred history of place, no explanation of how they came to be a people or how they came to be on the land. Yet they needed something. To admit they came from somewhere else, to admit someone was there before them is to admit someone else has a claim on the land. So the Palestinians have appropriated the Jewsâ€™ sacred history. The Jewish prophets become their prophets â€“ Abraham, Moses, Elijah â€“ all become Arabs, and the Palestinians have tried to become the Jews.
The final phase of colonization is to assume the identity of the people you have colonized, so it must have been disconcerting to the Palestinians when actual Jews started returning to the land. (Of course some Jews never left, but thatâ€™s another issue.) It must have threatened everything the Palestinians believed about themselves and their relationship to their homes. It still does I suppose. They could not, and cannot, live with a people who claim the stories they have appropriated. They could not, and cannot, share the land. They could, and can, only try to kill the Jews and drive them out.
The Jews can negotiate forever, they can, as they must, give up land and allow the Palestinians their own state, but until the Palestinians accept that their houses and groves have occupied land that has carried another peopleâ€™s hopes for 2,000 years, there will be no peace.
Posted by Mike @ 01/11/2009 10:43 AM CST
Secondly, why does calling one's own history SACRED entitle that individual and his kind to special entitlements?
Thirdly, what kind of logic dictates that the possibility one's distant ancestors lived upon a plot of land first should entitle that person to use force of arms to "reclaim" the land from other families that have lived on the same land more recently for generations?
So... which law should apply? Is it Common Law, Jewish Religious Law, or just the law of the Gun?
The truth is, it does not matter who was there first. It should not matter what one's particular religion is or is not. To claim that the Palestinians "could not, and cannot, share the land" blames all the Palestinian people for the actions of a few. It would be just as wrong to claim that Jews could not, and cannot, share the land when it is only the Settler movement and some religious fanatics who insist ALL the land was given to them by God. Let us not paint with too broad a brush.
Lastly, I find it a bit ironic to hear some proponents of Israel's right to the land argue that Jews are the indigenous people of the area, while at the same time suggesting Palestinians are just "indians" who should be driven back across the frontier and placed on reservations or cantons. Coincidentally, Hitler used the "indigenous peoples" argument to bolster his claim to parts of Europe as the Aryan homeland of his ancestors. He justified ethnic cleansing and ultimately genocide on that moral precept. Not a precedent I would prefer to be identified with.
Yes, it is true that some Jews resisted the Romans and never left the land. It is also true that some Palestinians resisted and never left. Whose resistance is more just?
The only way forward is to forget the past and let go of old claims and religious quarrels. This is something both sides must come to terms with.
Posted by Kiev500 @ 01/11/2009 12:23 PM CST
I guess my question to you is what is the statute of limitations on a land claim? Is it 40 years, 60 years, a hundred a thousand? Hamas says that even after a thousand years, all the land between the river and the sea will belong to them. Yet for some reason, the Jews canâ€™t return to their homeland. Quite the double standard, but again, thatâ€™s always the case.
By your logic, the land belongs to the Jews, since itâ€™s now the Palestinians claiming land where their long ago ancestors once lived. Since you didnâ€™t define long ago, I will. I mean sixty years, even forty years, is a long time. To some, even two years is a long time. Most Palestinians today were not born in Palestine. The keys they hold onto are for houses that no longer exist in villages that no longer exist. Itâ€™s ancient history, as ancient as the Bible. As you say, letâ€™s forget history. These people can make their lives in the countries of their birth. This is after all, your logic, and if it applies to the Jews, it must apply to the Palestinians as well. (And by the way, I never described the Palestinians as â€śIndiansâ€ť because the Palestinians are not indigenous, they are colonizers who have appropriate the history and stories of the people they have colonized in the same way many whites in North America often try to co-opt American Indiansâ€™ histories and stories and religions. Again, the final phase of colonization is to assume the identity of those you have colonized.)
I mean, what gives the Palestinians the right to forcibly remove people from their homes? Yet in 1929 they drove the Jews of Hebron out of a city they had lived in for centuries. In 1948, the Jordanian Legion drove all the Jews, including some who had lived there for centuries out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Arabs tried to force the Jews from their homes throughout the 1950s, in 1967, and in 1973. (What do you think would have happened to the Jews if the Arabs had won? To say anything besides slaughter is to be naive or disingenuous. Which are you?)
Of course Hamas is trying to drive the Jews from their homes today. Its goal is to destroy Israel and force every Jew whose family was not in the region prior to 1917 to leave. To accomplish this goal, Hamas has claimed the right to kill any Jew â€“ man, woman or child â€“ anytime and anyplace. Its leaders make no secret of this. What gives them the right?
So Kiev, I agree with you; letâ€™s forget history. Practicality, population dynamics, and yes even justice, require a Palestinian state in Gaza and on the West Bank just as practicality, population dynamics, and yes, even justice, require a Jewish state on the rest of the land. The Palestinians can decide what to do about Palestinians who live outside their state, just as the Israelis can decide what to do about Jews living outside Israel. The majority of the Jews in Israel support this. Iâ€™m not convinced about the Palestinians.
Posted by Mike @ 01/11/2009 11:39 PM CST
Thanks for the reply. Dialog and discussion is what our world needs right now. Dialog brings enlightenment and deeper understanding, and sometimes a new perspective. The pen can prove to be mightier than the sword, but it is often more difficult to wield.
Regarding a "statute of limitations" on a land claim, my point was that both sides claim they have a unique and historic right to the land. In that respect, neither side is right. No history, neither long nor short, nor sacred, bestows entitlement. No double standard at all.
I also pointed out that BOTH sides have claimed the other could not, and cannot, share the land. -And the truth is that only radical or fanatical factions of both sides refuse to share.
"By your logic, the land belongs to the Jews, since itâ€™s now the Palestinians claiming land where their long ago ancestors once lived. Since you didnâ€™t define long ago, I will. I mean sixty years, even forty years, is a long time. To some, even two years is a long time."
You lost me. Explain how my logic indicates this is so. The closest reference I find was my comment regarding the notion of what constitutes an indigenous people and the Israeli tendency to treat Palestinians as the "indians" in this situation, -meaning drive them off the land and place them on reservations. Of course, it was the indians of the American west who were the indigenous peoples. Thats not really an argument, just an ironic observation.
And I see you passed on my comparison of your "indigenous people" argument for rights to land with Hitler's "Aryan homeland" rationale for claiming parts of Europe. The two arguments seem to be quite similar.
"Most Palestinians today were not born in Palestine."
This is true, if you mean that they were not born inside the territory now recognized as Israel (demarcated by the Green Line). No, they were born as refugees. It is also true that all the Jews Israel imports from places like Russia were ALSO born as refugees.
"This is after all, your logic, and if it applies to the Jews, it must apply to the Palestinians as well."
Yes, I already said there cannot be a Palestinian return to the homes vacated in the early days, just as there cannot be a greater Israel based on illegal settlement of land beyond the Green Line. I think we agree?
"I mean, what gives the Palestinians the right to forcibly remove people from their homes? Yet in 1929 they drove the Jews of Hebron out of a city they had lived in for centuries. In 1948, the Jordanian Legion drove all the Jews, including some who had lived there for centuries out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem."
Taking your statements in order. They have no right to force people from their family homes. Neither side has this right. I assume you ARE aware that both sides have done such things as this. As for the events of 1948, you are aware that blaming the current refugees for the actions of the government of Jordan is not very fair. The refugees had no legitimate government at that moment. Therefore they had no say. Right?
"(What do you think would have happened to the Jews if the Arabs had won? To say anything besides slaughter is to be naive or disingenuous. Which are you?)"
I am whatever you think I am. It is the perception of the other side of this argument I wish to help you with, -as you are helping me in turn.
Posted by Kiev500 @ 01/12/2009 02:02 AM CST
Well Kiev, no discussion of the Middle East or Israel seems complete without somebody mentioning Hitler or the Nazis. I donâ€™t know why this one should be any different. I doubt you will grasp my point since it seems youâ€™re more interested in perusing an agenda than having a true discussion, but Iâ€™ll try to connect the dots for you anyway.
Iâ€™ll start by trying to explain to you the difference between what you called â€śregular historyâ€ť and what I called â€śsacred history.â€ť Regular history, or simply â€śhistoryâ€ť for the case of this discussion, is fairly modern concept, although some would claim it goes back to Herodotus. History as we know it today is supposed to be a collection of objective facts that try to explain an historical event. Of course since people are involved, complete objectivity is impossible, but thatâ€™s another issue.
Sacred history is something different. It is a collection of one peoplesâ€™ stories. The stories have supernatural elements, often occur at specific places, and typically link a people, their land and their culture together. The relationship between the events described in the stories and actual events are often difficult to discern, although there are elements of the stories that likely happened. Today, we frequently refer to these stories as myths or legends. Examples might include the Israelitesâ€™ exodus from Egypt or Coyote killing a great monster, cutting it in pieces and flinging those pieces across the earth, each piece turning into a nation of people after it lands.
Think of the story of Sodom and Gomorra. Like many sacred stories it serves multiple purposes. It happens at a specific place. It depicts Abraham arguing with God, trying to save Sodom, thereby showing how Jews are to relate to God (hint itâ€™s not just by going along with whatever God initially says). It talks about Sodomâ€™s destruction by fire and brimstone and Lotâ€™s wife becoming a pillar of salt, explaining the geography of the Dead Sea region. Indigenous peoples the world over have stories that, while they might differ in detail, serve the same ends.
Peoples connect to the land in many ways, and one of the most important is through sacred stories and a sacred histories. Thatâ€™s why they exist and persist. And donâ€™t think itâ€™s something people have outgrown. Look at the Russian or Ukrainian national narratives and you can find many of these same elements. (As a note, Iâ€™m not trying to compare either the Jews or the Palestinians to any other groups. To do so would be to miss the complexities of their conflict.)
That the Jews have a sacred history grounded in the physical geography of a real place shows more than almost anything else that Jews are the indigenous people of Israel. While this should seem obvious, if you look through many of the comments posted above, you will find people who deny the Jews have any connection to Israel, who argue they are Europeans and outsiders. The fact that the Jews are indigenous to Israel explains why they carried the land in their hearts for 2000 years of exile, why Israel canâ€™t exist in Argentina or Alaska. It is a response to the person who wrote that the Jews should go back to Germany.
And thatâ€™s what makes what I wrote different from anything Hitler ever said or wrote. If you canâ€™t understand this, then your ideology has blinded you. So Iâ€™ll be as clear as I can. Nobody has ever challenged the right of the Germanâ€™s to a homeland. People might have disputed the exact borders of that homeland, but even after the German people committed one of the greatest crimes in history, nobody ever proposed moving them to another continent or terminating their existence as a people.
And yet the Palestinians do all of those things on a daily basis. Itâ€™s part of the Hamas charter. It was part of the PLO charter until the Oslo accords and even now Abbas will not say that Israel is a Jewish state.
Itâ€™s true that within Zionism there has been a tension between a Greater Israel and a state on just part of the land. Despite this tension, those arguing for a smaller state have always carried the day. In the end, the Jews have never demanded it all. I wish I could say the same for the Arabs.
In the 1930s, the Jews accepted a tiny state, smaller than Gaza I believe; the Palestinians rejected it. In 1948, the Jews accepted partition; the Palestinians did not, opting instead for war. Israel offered to return the land taken in the Six Day war; it was met with the Arab Leagueâ€™s three nos. Israel returned Sinai to Egypt even though it constitutes part of Greater Israel. What have the Palestinians offered? After 1948, Jordan banned Jews from Jewish sacred sites across the West Bank. After 1967, Israel let Arabs maintain control over a portion of the most sacred site in Judaism. Whoâ€™s really willing to accept the other?
The Palestinians lost land because they would not accept that Jews have a right to live in the place Jews have always called home. They lost land because they chose to launch aggressive, genocidal wars against the Jews, but were defeated. Certainly atrocities were committed by both sides in some of these wars, thatâ€™s the nature of war. But those atrocities do not change the underlying fact that Israel was fighting a just and defensive war against those trying to commit genocide. After the armistice in 1949, there were still many Arabs in Israel. There were no Jews in the Arab territories. That should explain the difference between what I wrote and Hitlerâ€™s comments.
I asked you at one point I asked if you were naĂŻve or disingenuous, but you didnâ€™t answer choosing instead to respond in a way that seemed either coy or smart. But in not only mentioning Hitler twice, but in pushing the issue, you have told me all I need to know, although I doubt you realize that.
Posted by Mike @ 01/12/2009 10:50 AM CST
Perhaps I was a bit sarcastic with my reference to your comments regarding the sacred history of the Jewish people. As I recall, you suggested that Jews have a sacred history and Palestinians do not. In addition, you seemed to infer that sacred history somehow confers a legitimate right to the land. Going further, you insinuated that Palestinians have somehow (mis)appropriated or stolen the Jewsâ€™ sacred history. Have I got that correct?
I saw you were attempting to frame the issue in order to label me as one or the other. In my perception of self, I am neither. However, I remain interested in *your* perception of me. Please be specific. Choose one or the other of those words and say it. Stop with all the vague inferences and say what you mean.
As an example, let me offer my perception of you: It appears you do not listen very well. When you read my comments, you don't really hear what I am saying. Rather, you hear what you wish to hear, and ignore the rest.
In fact, you have ignored much of what I have said when it suited you to do so.
I have tried to be fair. I have insisted both sides must make compromises. I suggested both sides have fanatical factions that refuse to share the land, but that those factions do not represent ALL the people. I have questioned dogma and partisan ideology.
You continue to insist that ALL Palestinians behave as if they were a single fanatical individual. For instance, you said "and yet the Palestinians do all of those things on a daily basis".
If peace is ever to be found, both sides must seek common ground and converts from the other side. The false assumption that all Palestinians are fanatics bent on the destruction of Israel precludes any possibility of ever reaching a solution.
Let us both open our ears and hearts so that we might better understand.
Posted by Kiev500 @ 01/12/2009 03:21 PM CST
Oops... sorry, I forgot one important point.
The possibility exists that Jews migrated from largely Palestinian areas to the new Jewish state. Whether they were coerced or enticed to do so by either side I cannot say.
The Israeli policy was to forge and maintain a primarily Jewish state. Mathematically, in order to accomplish this, sufficient numbers of Palestinians had to be driven out of the territory to ensure that Palestinians were a minority and Jews were a majority. Therefore not all Palestinians had to be removed to create the Jewish state, just a sufficient quantity.
In light of this, the fact that some Palestinians remained in Israel after 1948 may not indicate so much a benificent characteristic as it does a pragmatic implementation of the policy. I am only analyzing possibilities here. I cannot conclude one way or the other, as that would be conjecture.
Posted by Kiev500 @ 01/12/2009 03:56 PM CST
The fact remains that iraq invaded koweit and the whole international community reacted, we know why.... However, if israel invades palestine no one reacts. Simply, there is no history that justifies today's situation and the attempt of exterminating palestinians and if you ask anyone that is a non-jew, they would tell you that all throught history they were selfish and unjust....their time will come.
Posted by vick @ 01/13/2009 01:50 AM CST
The real undisputed facts are that people are dying every day. Stop immediately, set a meeting, bring your bibles old,new or quran, take an oath to seek peace without violence, Then bible in hand sit down and go to work. No food, no sleep, no excuses until agreement is reached. If that fails switch bibles, read them, go back to the table, talk about the similarities never mentioning the differences and come up with an accord. If this fails replace yourselves with the next younger generation of students and repeat the process until peace is reached. Build a community of peace on similarities not differences. Stop killing each other. Learn from your ancesters mistakes, learn to live in peace TOGETHER. STOP THE KILLING NOW. PEACE IS POSSIBLE NOW
Posted by Never binin Jer' usa 'lem @ 01/13/2009 11:43 AM CST
when will the fascists of the liberal left wing wake up to the dangers of the Shia ( Iran) extremism . Five major conflicts since 1948 have passed yet their eyes are still closed.Fanatical Islam is the enemy not peaceful Judaism which has contributed so much relative to its size over the milleniae.All the lies and distortions won,t hide the facts as to what has caused all the catastrophe for Arabs.It,s their ill advised violence that did this (suicide bombings,
Posted by Samuel @ 01/19/2009 04:10 PM CST
strange how some reporters on CNN, Sky ,BBC and a host of other TV networks cannot explain why it took them so long to get to Sderot and to ask who was firing crude but lethal weapons at civilians in the town.The same reporters tell us about proportionality in the conflict.What about the unsuspecting folk in the TwiN Trade Towers on 9/11 ,the utter terror unleashed on the Mumbai train station, the Madrid train bombings,the cold blooded killings of the Fatah
Posted by Samuel @ 01/19/2009 04:33 PM CST
Nice job, Samuel. Sooo... what makes you think that the liberal left are fascists?
I suppose what constitutes "the enemy" depends entirely on one's own perspective and experience. I am convinced that both sides have fanatics.
"Strange how some reporters on CNN, Sky ,BBC and a host of other TV networks cannot explain why it took them so long to get to Sderot and to ask who was firing crude but lethal weapons at civilians in the town."
Perhaps they could have gotten to Sderot sooner if they had not been prevented from entering Gaza to see what was happening there. The decision to prevent press access to Gaza was purely a political decision by the GOI. By the way, it was also an illegal decision according to the Israeli Supreme court.
"The same reporters tell us about proportionality in the conflict. What about the unsuspecting folk in the Twin Trade Towers on 9/11..."
9-11 is a different conflict from the mideast conflict between Israel and it's neighbors. The 9-11 attack is directly related to the historic projection of American hegemeny (colonial power) over the mid east region. It is tied to our attempts to secure access to oil reserves, and dates all the way back to the installation of the Shah of Iran by the American CIA. More recently, American involvement to intervene in the war between Iraq and Kuwait and the subsequent placement of American troops in Saudi Arabia were all factors that led to the 9-11 attacks.
In short, they didn't do it just because 'they hate our freedoms' as president Bush suggests. Bush would prefer the American public never to know what Usama bin Laden cited as the reason for the attacks. The only way I can determine what to believe is to consider what I would have done in similar circumstances. Therefore, if I had been a citizen of Iran placed under the oppressive rule of the Shah -who was installed and supported by the CIA, I would blame America for my suffering. If I was a muslim citizen of Saudi Arabia and witnessed the placement of American troops inside my country, I would no doubt be incensed. I know any American would feel the same anger if they had been treated this way by an outside military force that had invaded sovereign American territory.
Posted by Kiev500 @ 01/20/2009 07:54 AM CST
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