May 12, 2006

The Palestinians of 1948

JAFFA and JERUSALEM - There are more Arabs in Israel than there are in Beirut. One Israeli in five is an Arab. They aren’t Israeli Jews. Nor are they the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. They were born and raised in Israel. They carry Israeli passports. They have full rights of citizenship. They vote in Israeli elections, and they field their own candidates in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. They don’t clamor for a state of their own, nor do most of them wish to join a Palestinian state once it is born. They hardly - ever - have anything to do with the terrorism campaigns waged by Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, Islamic Jihad, or Hamas. They are the lucky ones who were not driven out, who did not flee to the wretched refugee camps of Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria during the Naqba - the creation of Israel - the “catastrophe.” They are Israeli Arabs, the Palestinians of 1948. And they are almost completely invisible and forgotten outside of Israel.

I wish I could tell you that Israeli Jews and Arabs have created a groovy urban Middle East melting pot culture like the Lebanese have. But I’d be fantasizing or lying. It’s not that they hate each other. But they do seem to fear each other. The sense I got from talking to various people is that many Jews are afraid the Arabs might hurt them, and most Arabs do their best to keep their heads down and steer as wide of politics and the conflict as possible.

Nevertheless, here is a picture of modern Israel: a mosque minaret rises in front of a Jewish hotel on the Tel Aviv beach.

Tel Aviv Mosque.jpg

There is a huge difference between Media Israel and the Israel that actually exists in the world. Israeli Arabs are written straight out of the manichean ethnic clashistan narrative.

I went to the Arab city of Jaffa hoping to find a few who would be willing to sit down and talk. The only trouble is I went there on Saturday, the Jewish religious holiday, when almost all the stores were closed and there were hardly any people out and about. (Muslims in Israel close up shop on the Jewish sabbath, just as Muslims in Lebanon close up shop on the Christian sabbath.)

Jaffa is attached to Tel Aviv like a Siamese twin. The two cities really are one. Tel Aviv began as a Jewish neighborhood of Jaffa almost 100 years ago, nearly a half-century before Israel even existed. It is perhaps sadly fitting, though, that Tel Aviv and Jaffa retain their own respective names. There isn’t much mixing of Arabs and Jews here. You can walk from downtown Tel Aviv to downtown Jaffa in twenty minutes, but the cities are worlds apart.

Every Israeli I asked admitted that anti-Arab racism is a very real problem, that Arabs have a hard time renting apartments in Tel Aviv even though discrimination is against the law. That does not, however, mean that Jaffa is some kind of a ghetto. It isn’t. It’s a lovely place, actually, one of the finest Arab cities I’ve seen.

Jaffa Mosque.jpg

Jaffa from Below.jpg

Jaffa Steps.jpg

I saw no evidence that Israeli Arabs are poorer than Jews. It’s hard to visually compare the economics of a modern city with an ancient one. But I can visually compare the economics of Jaffa with other old Arab cities I’ve been to. Jaffa rivals or beats every one of them.

Jaffa Wall.jpg

Jaffa Street.jpg

One outdoor café near the Visitor’s Center was open even on Saturday afternoon. I ordered a 7-UP from two young Arab men with dreadlocks working the counter. They looked like crosses between hippies and surfer dudes. They smiled warmly when I said a few words to them in Arabic with an American accent.

Jaffa Cafe.jpg

At least one spoke fluent English. I asked if either would be willing to sit down with me for a few minutes and be interviewed. Both visibly cringed. The very idea was clearly dreadful to them. One immediately vanished into the back. The other gave me a fake smile and shrugged his shoulders.

“I have no politics,” he said. “And he has no English.” But I knew his co-worker spoke English. He understood exactly what I said and he got all twitchy about it.

Were they shy? Were they afraid that because I’m American I might be hostile? Did they just want a low profile in Israel so they could stay out of potential trouble? I do not know.

I wanted to hear what Israeli Arabs had to say for themselves. In the meantime, though, I would have to rely on what Israeli Jews said about them.

Allison Kaplan Sommer introduced me to a friend of hers who moved to Israel from South Africa because he could not stomach the wretched apartheid regime. I can’t print his name because he’s a wire agency reporter who is forever banned from having opinions.

“There is discrimination here,” he said. “You’d have to be a fool to say there wasn’t. But it’s not entrenched in law or ideology. There is no law that says the Israeli Arab or Muslim is a second-class citizen. It’s true that they suffer social discrimination. But it isn’t legal.”

I couldn’t resist the following question: “What do you think about the accusation in the West that Israel is an apartheid state?” I said.

“It makes smoke come out of my ears!” he said. “The only way the analogy holds truth is within the context of a one-state Israeli solution. But the Israeli mainstream has reconciled itself to a Palestinian state…The Israeli government recently voted for an Affirmative Action program for Israeli Arabs in the civil service. This would have been unthinkable in South Africa.”

This guy isn’t one to put up with apartheid. He was repeatedly arrested in his native South Africa for demonstrating against the racist policies of the then-white government. He proudly wears the scars on his arm where unleashed government Dobermans bit him in 1977.

“I knew from the age of ten that I could not stay in South Africa,” he said. “I disliked it intensely. It was easy to move to Israel because it’s an immigrant country. People who move here get lots of assistance.”

Benjamin Kerstein also acknowledged racism is a real problem in Israel. “There is racism here,” he said. “I’ve seen some of the most disgusting racism you can imagine. But it’s important to realize it’s not institutionalized.”

Yossi Klein Halevi, the Jerusalem correspondent for The New Republic, met with me in his office at the Shalem Center.

“How can someone be an Israeli-Palestinian?” he said. “It’s an impossible identity.”

Halevi Book Cover.JPG

“It’s true that Israeli Arabs have more freedom than Arabs anywhere else in the Middle East,” he added. “But it’s not enough. We need real co-existence in a single society. I want an Arab Israeli to feel part of Israel.”

I headed back to Jerusalem's old city during the day when the market was open and other people were out. It looked like a completely different place than it did when I went there at night.

East Jerusalem People.jpg

East Jerusalem Gimcrack.jpg

Jerusalem Old City Market.jpg

I met an Israeli Arab named Samir while shopping for a necklace and a pair of earrings for my wife. He asked for a ridiculous amount of money for the jewelry and, without really meaning to, I actually laughed at him.

“Come on,” I said. “I can pay far less for this stuff in Beirut where I’ve been living. And Lebanon is expensive.”

I offered him one-eighth his asking amount, though I knew I would end up paying a lot more than that.

“Please sit down,” he said. Perfect, I thought. The Arab social ritual was about to begin. He knew we would both be there for a while. And it was only polite - and also more pleasant - to talk about something other than money. “Would you like some tea?” he said.

“Please,” I said. “Of course. Thank you so much.”

As long as you aren’t dealing with Hezbollah psychopaths, Semtex-strapped “martyrs,” or Al Qaeda head-choppers, Arabs really are the most pleasant people you can find anywhere. There’s nothing quite like going to a place where you can regularly and reliably pull up a chair (or a space on a carpet) with total strangers and share coffee, tea, cigarettes, and conversation while basking in the glow of instant warm friendship. Arab hospitality alone is reason enough to visit the Middle East instead of Europe on your next holiday.

I sort of understand why Israelis fear Arabs. Yasser Arafat, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etcetera ad nauseum, are murderous maniacs. And they get all the attention. At the same time I’m completely baffled. You are not going to run into those types while hanging out with regular folks in the Jerusalem market.

“Would you like a cigarette?” I said to Samir.

“No, thank you,” he said as he handed me an ashtray. We sipped from our glasses of tea.“I don’t smoke. And I don’t drink anymore, either. I have only one vice. Can you guess what it is?”

I had an idea. But I didn’t want to offend him. So I hinted at my guess with a question.

“Are you married?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “But I can’t sleep with only one woman. One just isn’t enough.”

“I thought you might say that,” I said. “That’s why I asked if you were married.”

“My wife will throw me out if she catches me,” he said.

“Be careful, man,” I said.

“I don’t do it here,” he said. “Only when I am traveling somewhere else.”

We talked about travel. And then we talked about politics.

“What’s it like for you as an Israeli Arab when Israelis and Palestinians are killing each other?” I said.

“We don’t get involved,” he said. He then placed the tips of his index fingers on his cheekbones just below his eyes. “We watch.”

“When there is, eventually, a two-state solution, do you want to live on the Israeli side or the Palestinian side?”

“The Israeli side!” he said instantly and emphatically as if there were no other possible answer. “None of us want anything to do with the Palestinian Authority. They are corrupt. They are impossible. They are not straight. No one can deal with those people.”

“Are the Israelis straight?” I said.

“No!” he said. “But they are better. Which side would you rather live on?” he asked rhetorically. “Should I prefer Arafat and Hamas just because I’m an Arab?”

He asked me what I thought about Israeli-Palestinian politics. I told him I didn’t know anymore, which is true. During the Oslo “peace process” years I was staunchly on the Palestinian side. Every time a suicide bomber blew up himself and others during the intifada, and every time I saw Palestinians cheerleading the gruesome attacks, and every time I saw polls of Palestinians that showed the majority didn’t want a two-state solution but the complete destruction of Israel, I felt my sympathy for the Palestinian cause bleed away. Eventually there wasn’t much left.

It was easy to be pro-Palestinian when terrorism was relatively rare and when most said they merely wanted their own sovereign country. And it was easy to be pro-Israeli during the horrific waves of suicide operations against innocents in the early 2000s.

Things are different now. The intifada mostly is over. Brutal Israeli crackdowns mostly are over. Palestinians and Israelis are each locked in their own quiet holding patterns, cautiously waiting to see what the other side will do next. It’s hard to have strong opinions when not much is happening.

“I like how you think,” Samir said. “Do you not have any money? I will help you. I will give you the necklace and the earrings if you don’t have any money.”

“Thank you,” I said. “But I have money. I might buy them. Just not for your asking price.”

He laughed. “I know,” he said. “I ask high. If a German comes in here he’ll pay whatever I ask. You wouldn’t believe it. You Americans are not so easy.”

I noticed lots of Christian jewelry for sale. I wasn’t sure if I had accidentally wandered from the Muslim Quarter into the Christian Quarter. It's hard to tell where one begins and the other ends.

“Are you a Christian?” I said.

“No,” he said. “I am a Muslim. But I sell Christian things. And I sell Jewish things. Why not? I don’t care what is your religion.”

Samir also sold items with fused religious imagery, like this one:

Jewish Hand of Fatima.jpg

That’s the Hand of Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Mohammad. And that's a Jewish menora in the center of it.

For all the conflict and the hate and the bullshit, Israel may be the only place in the world where you can buy something that is Jewish and Islamic at the same time. If you do go there and buy something like that, chances are an Arab will be the person who sells it to you.

Israelis are not what I would call friends with the Palestinians of 1948. But they aren’t enemies either, though they once were. Making peace with the Palestinians of 1967 will not be easy, to say the least, especially when Hamas is the government in Ramallah. But there’s nothing eternal about Arabness and Jewishness that makes it forever impossible.

Post-script: Please help support non-corporate writing. Your donations today make tomorrow’s dispatches possible. Thank you all so much for your help so far.

UPDATE: I have been corrected in the comments. Turns out the Hand of Fatima is only the Islamic name for this symbol. It is older than Islam, and both religions have incorporated it.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 12, 2006 11:48 AM
Comments

Michael, this is a beautiful piece of insight. I am currently in the middle of watching the movie Cast a Giant Shadow. It is somewhat badly acted, and it is difficult believing that the year is 1948, when all the women in the picture are walking around in 1960s hairstyles. Oh, and the flashbacks reek of cheese, and not the pleasant feta kind, either. However, having said all that, it is interesting to see a film with such a strong pro Israeli point of view. I can't imagine such a film being made today. I also agree with you in your opinions concerning Oslo. I am convinced that the best solution may be the unsavoriest one, which would involve population transfers to Jordan and Egypt, and leaving Israel as a single state. It is clear that the PA is a Vampire State in the making...as is Chechnya. Another virtually ignored piece by the press is the destruction of Christian Churches in Kosovo and Bosnia.

Posted by: Jauhara al Kafirah at May 12, 2006 12:28 PM

I am convinced that the best solution may be the unsavoriest one, which would involve population transfers to Jordan and Egypt

How are Israelis going to forcibly move millions? In cattle cars? Not in a million years will Jews do such a thing to other people. Shame on you for even thinking it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 12, 2006 12:43 PM

Any further comments advocating the ethnic cleaning of Palestinians, Israelis, or anyone else on this plaent, will be deleted.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 12, 2006 12:52 PM

Nicely written Michael. I think your recent posts have made it abundantly clear that any classification of either the Jews or Arabs as a whole simply falls flat on its face.

Nicely done.

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at May 12, 2006 01:10 PM

Can I advocate ethnically cleansing anyone who lives below me? Because every one of those bastards has made too much noise, and I don't think it's going to change in the future. I'm in favor of deporting them to another apartment building at the very least. Or I could just move to the suburbs.

Posted by: Seb at May 12, 2006 01:11 PM

When I or my friends go to Tel Aviv it is mostly to deal with the Israeli high tech industry. It occurs to me that I have never knowlingly met a single high tech Israeli who is not Jewish.

Thinking about it, thanks to this article, this is a major problem potentially since I think the only way that Israel can flourish is though its high tech businesses. Apart from anything else even a handful of successful Isreali-arab high tech entrepreneurs would help give their fellows incentives to make Israel prosper.

Mind you Silicon Valley has a minimal number of black or hispanic entrepreneurs. Plenty of Indians, Chinese and other Asians and a load of "Anglos" but despite a fair number of hispanic and black workers very few successful leaders from these groups.

Posted by: Francis at May 12, 2006 01:15 PM

Every post I learn something, what a great site. Thank you Micheal.

Posted by: RipRip at May 12, 2006 01:18 PM

A few corrections are needed. First Tel Aviv and Jaffa are not separate cities. The full name of the city is Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and Jaffa is like the old quarter of Tel Aviv. Secondly Jaffa isn't purely Arab, approximately half of its population is Jewish. It's particularly popular among artists, as you may have seen from the many galleries there. There are several other mixed cities (cities with a large Arab population) like Haifa, Acco (Acre), Lod, Ramle, Beer Sheva.

Also the hand symbol (khamsa) is a Jewish symbol too. While it's important for both Jews and Muslims, it's not an Islamic symbol (it's believed to predate Islam) and Israelis don't view it as such.

Here's wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khamsa

Maybe you already knew those things but they were not clear from the text so I just added some information.

Posted by: Alex at May 12, 2006 01:21 PM

The forcible removal of people from the homes they've lived in all of their lives on the basis of their religion or ethnicity is obviously unacceptable, and won't be tolerated --

Except, wait -- it has been. Gaza was ethnically cleansed of Jews not too long ago. Glad nobody's advocating that that was a good thing here, or it'd be deleted.

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at May 12, 2006 01:24 PM

Hi Michael,

Another great travelogue. I hope you do find more Israeli arabs willing to express their points of view. Perhaps you will find that in Haifa, a (slightly) more mixed city, though like in places around the world, neighborhoods are still pretty homogenous.

Also, I wanted to add that the hamseh is a jewish symbol too. I did a little searching and could not find the origin of it (my guess is that it is neither muslim nor jewish) but even here in the US people wear hamsehs to show that they are Jews.

Posted by: Avner at May 12, 2006 01:30 PM

Michael, your posts are really great. Now I am totally pissed off that we didn't meet when you were here.

Regarding the symbol. I think it is like Alex says. However, the Jewish value of the hand is only or was only a few years ago, before Israeli souvenirs became popular related to the Mizrahim/Sephardic Jewish population. We azkenazis didn't have these kind of good luck symbols in our homes. I knew about the hand by my Sephardic cousins, and they did a gesture like "stop" with their own hands, and said "Hamse" (which means "five" in Arabic), to stop the evil eye. I was little then, and it really pissed me off that anytime I said to my cousin second cousing actually "you bastard!" when we were playing, he did the gesture towards me. Now they have given us a hand like the one you are holding, but bigger, for our house.

I wish your Israeli posts would never end, Michael.
See you!

Posted by: Fabian at May 12, 2006 01:39 PM

Michael, I am loving your travel pieces, as usual. Just a quick note here-- the pendant you describe as the "Hand of Fatima" is not actally "fused", I'm afraid. The symbol of the upside-down hand is an old Jewish image. It's called a "hamsa" (named after the Hebrew word for "five" [fingers]-- "hameish". Traditionally, it's a ward against the Evil Eye. All my American, Ashkenasi Jewish great-aunts have these necklaces.

This is the first I've ever heard of a Muslim symbol called the Hand of Fatima, but the necklace you saw is almost certainly a Hamsa, and entirely of Jewish origin.

Sorry to ruin your cool metaphor! :)

Posted by: Laura at May 12, 2006 01:43 PM

The best read I've come across in a long time. Excellent, excellent journalism. Thank you for taking the time to report and write this story!

Posted by: Jack at May 12, 2006 01:54 PM

Lovely story, Michael. I especially liked the way you transitioned from finding that "no one will talk to me" to figuring out how you could talk to someone.
As far as the wire service reporter goes...how many South African-Israeli wire service reporters are there at all? Who have dog-bite scars on their hands? That may be a little too much information for someone who's trying to be anonymous.

Posted by: John Tillinghast at May 12, 2006 01:56 PM

One major complaint in an otherwise excellent piece.

"They are the lucky ones who were not driven out, who did not flee"

One of the major points of contention in the conflict is why the refugees left their homes. Were they driven out? Or did they leave on command of the Arab states thinking that they would return shortly after the Jews had been driven into he sea?

Was it really "lucky" that 200,000 Arabs simply were ignored by otherwise ruthless Israelis?

The fact that such rhetoric makes its way so easily into your writing is troubling.

Posted by: David at May 12, 2006 02:30 PM

David: Were they driven out? Or did they leave on command of the Arab states thinking that they would return shortly after the Jews had been driven into he sea?

Both.

When I visited Benjamin Kerstein (quoted and linked above) in Beersheva he told me that city was brutally ethnically-cleansed of its Arab population. And he's no leftie, that's for sure. His blog is called Diary of an Anti-Chomskyite.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 12, 2006 02:38 PM

While it is unfair to call Israel an apartheid state it is a fact that non-Jews suffer institutional discrimination (as opposed to societal discrimination) in several ways.

1) Most obvious is the Law of Return which permits anyone from anywhere who has a Jewish grandparent to immigrate. It is very difficult for anyone else.
2) Non-Jews and in particular Muslims are "exempt" from the military (save for Druze and some Bedouin).
3) Israeli Arab schools, hospitals, social services receive less state money than Jewish ones.
And then there is the West Bank where certain roads are reserved for Jewish settlers, land is confiscated, etc.

Posted by: Richard at May 12, 2006 02:50 PM

Richard,

1. Israel's whole purpose is to be a Jewish refuge. Of course Jews are granted citizenship. Does America automatically grant citizenship to people who are not born here?

2. Arabs are exempt from the draft, yes. But anyone who volunteers is gladly accepted. The trouble is that you do not want to draft people who may not be loyal to the state, in the same way that Jews would be. Those who want to serve, can serve. Those who don't, don't. Would you prefer Israel conscript Arabs who don't want to die for Israel?

Posted by: Mastiff at May 12, 2006 03:12 PM

A few facts need to be faced here re "ethnic cleansing".

A quick perusal of population figures will show that during the period of mass Jewish immigration into Israel (late 1800s-1948), the Arab population of the land did nothing but rise, the increases being greatest in precisely those areas where the Jews settled most heavily. There is no evidence whatsoever that the immigration of Jews into Israel as such forced any Arabs out. All evidence points to the exact opposite. Also, while this is not the place to go into it in detail, during the period of the British Mandate, the British did absolutely nothing to prevent Arabs from all over the Middle East from immigrating to Israel while, especially after the White Paper, they did everything they could to prevent Jewish immigration.

The Arabs became refugees because of the war of extermination the Arabs launched against the Jews and Israel. It is sad that many innocent people were caught up in this. But we must face facts: the Arabs did everything they could to get the Jews to give up and run away. The Arab atrocities against the Jews were ghastly and hair raising. The pogrom in Hebron in 1929 is a good example.

Yet the Jews did not run away. They stood their ground and fought back. And when the Arabs attacked in earnest after the partition resolution and then after Israel's declaration of independence, and the battle was joined for real, what happened? The Arabs did run away, their leaders leaving first and abandoning the masses to their fate. And the atrocity propaganda they spread to exhort the Arabs to fight the Jews had the opposite effect: it scared the Arabs silly and whole villages ran away before the fighting even reached them.

Wars create refugees. It is sad, but it is a fact of life. The Arabs started a war to drive the Jews into the sea. They failed. They created the refugee problem and it is up to them to solve it.

Israel has no need to apologize to anyone about anything. Had this war taken place anywhere else, none of the enemy population would have been allowed to remain. People need to get some perspective.

Just compare this to the partition of India, for example. A total of 15 million refugees. And yet there are no camps in India or Pakistan. How strange.

Posted by: Ephraim at May 12, 2006 03:20 PM

"Both.

When I visited Benjamin Kerstein (quoted and linked above) in Beersheva he told me that city was brutally ethnically-cleansed of its Arab population. And he's no leftie, that's for sure. His blog is called Diary of an Anti-Chomskyite."

And therein lies the problem. You don't say both. You said only that they were driven out or fled, but not that many left on their own accord.

Posted by: David at May 12, 2006 03:32 PM

Michael. Lovely post. But "They are the lucky ones who were not driven out, who did not flee to the wretched refugee camps of Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria during the Naqba - the creation of Israel - the “catastrophe"" is a little lacking in balance. After all there was also ethnic cleansing of Jews from Palestine , Jerusalem , horrific attacks on Jewish civilians , and yes that little case of five Arab armies.

Posted by: Richard at May 12, 2006 03:41 PM

Oh, yeah: all those "wretched camps"? Theyre all in Arab countries, or at least they were until Israel liberated Yehuda, Shomron (and Gaza) in '67. The camps are there because the Arabs want them to be there. They do not allow "Palestinians" to become citizens of their countries. Why? Because they know that if they took responsibility for their aggression against Israel in 1948 and its consequences, and rehabilitated the refugees in the countries where they fled (as has always been done with refugees), they would lose their two biggest weapons in their fight against the Jews: the misplaced sympathy of the world about the "plight" of the "poor refugees" who were "ethnically cleasned" by the "brutal Zionists" and a ready population of miserable, angry people ready to kill Jews.

Remmber the Sudetenland? Any Germans there now?

Exactly.

Posted by: Ephraim at May 12, 2006 03:55 PM

Richard,

1) The law of return is Israel's Raison d'etre. If you consider it racist then you must consider the very concept of a nation-state racist. Do you consider only Israel's law of return racist or does the same label apply to the German, Greek, Bulgarian, Irish, Armenian, Finnish, Polish, Hungarian, Slovakian, Czech, Slovenian and Croatian laws of return? Around a 1/3 of all new immigrants in the last 10 years were non Jewish. You can be granted citizenship by a)marriage to an Israeli citizen (for ex. 150,000 Palestinians plus 30,000 Egyptians and Jordanians in the last 10 years alone) b)be granted asylum as a refugee (for ex. several hundred Vietnamese refugees) or c)Naturalization (for ex. around 1000 foreign workers' children granted citizenship this week alone)

2)Why the sinister quotes? Yes, Arabs and Bedouins are exempt from the draft, though they can volunteer. Would you prefer that Israel FORCE Arabs to go kill their brothers across the fence? Most Bedouins in particular volunteer. Druze and Circassian are drafted (by their own request), and serve in all branches of the IDF. BTW orthodox Jews are also exempt.

3) You're right that there is still much that the government can do, however there is much it has already done. For example 99% of all Arab adults can read and write (compared to 60% in most Arab countries), the life expectancy among Arabs is comparable to Jews (and better among women), Arab attendance in higher education institutions has grown by 500% in the last 10 years alone.

The West Bank is irrelevant to this, but I'll answer you anyway. There are no roads for Jews. There are roads for Israelis, and as Michael's post should've made clear, it's not the same thing. And the reason Palestinians can't drive on those roads is because of Israeli security concerns. Do you agree that Israel has genuine security concerns or is terrorism only a figment of its imagination?

Posted by: Alex at May 12, 2006 04:03 PM

J. Thomas, the guy who came up with that plan is kind of a dick.

Posted by: Mike at May 12, 2006 04:09 PM

Ephraim, exactly.

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at May 12, 2006 04:12 PM

I'm an Israeli Jew. I think the story of Palestinian-Israelis (Like Irish-Americans) is a little more complicated. In some respects they are highly politicized (especially the young), with their parties offering vocal challenges to the Jewishness of the country, and a great sense of not-belonging (with statements like: I'm not an Israeli but a Palestinian livining in Israel), and of being marginilized by Israeli Jews. On the other hand there is the wish to stay away from the problems in the west bankand live the quality of life offered by Israel. On the one hand their material condition is much better than that of other arab countries, but they are still poorer than Israelis, have less job opportunities and receive lesser services from the government.

Posted by: Micha at May 12, 2006 04:38 PM

Mastiff and Alex,

One understands that Israel is a Jewish state and yes some other countries give preferential treatment based on either ethnicity or religion but the guiding principle for successful liberal democracies is citizenship not race or religion.

This means that citizens should be treated as individuals and not as members of a group. Non-Jews should be subject to the draft to the same extent as everyone else. Orthodox Jews should not be exempt either.

Can you imagine Canada, Australia, the U.S. stipulating that only Christians should be drafted?

Posted by: Richard at May 12, 2006 04:54 PM

Mike: J. Thomas, the guy who came up with that plan is kind of a dick.

Yep. And like I said, comments advocating the ethnic cleansing of (or terrorism against) any people for any reason whatsoever will be summarily deleted from my Web site.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 12, 2006 04:58 PM

All Orthodox Jews are not exempt from the draft. Full-time chareidi ("ultra-Orthodox") yeshiva students are, however. The IDF is full of Orthodox soldiers.

Israel just can't win, can it? The Jews bend over and take it for 2,000 years from the Christians and the Muslims, because they're, you know, not Chsristian or Muslim; and when they finally say "screw this" and rebuild their state the gentiles turn around and accuse them of being unfair because they want a state of their own. You know, like all the ones the gentiles already have and take for granted. Talk about chutzpah.

And then when they try to spare their Arab citizens from being placed in the untenable situation of fighting in the army of a Jewish state against other Arabs, people still complain.

Israel is a state of, by, and for Jews. Israel has no need to apologize for this in a world of ethnic states such as China, Japan, Germany, Russia, any of the Arab countries or practically any other country on the planet (the US is an exception to the normal pattern and is entirely unique in that respect). Israel may not be the US or the post-national place the Europe is trying to become, but so what?

Israel will be fine until such time as, G-d forbid, the Jews lose their self-respect and start worrying too much about whether or not they meet this or that gentile moral-standard-of-the-week.

Posted by: Ephraim at May 12, 2006 05:13 PM

Ephraim,

The point is those kind of laws and policies are inherently discriminatory and serve ultimately to marginalize non-Jewish citizens. Arab citizens should not be ''spared'' the burdens of citizenship.

By the way I have even less patience for Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE which require you to be a Muslim to be a citizen. Or the Lebanese approach of designating political positions according to religious affiliation.

Again separation of religion and state is necessary to be a successful democracy.

Finally with all due respect to my American friends the US is not unique in that respect.

Posted by: Richard at May 12, 2006 05:35 PM

No, I think the US is unique in that respect because unlike other countries, the US was from the beginning conceived as the embodiment of a political idea, not the expression of the nationalism of a specific ethnic group. Other nations eventually adopted democratic forms of government similar to the US model, but prior to this those countries already existed and were, for the most part, simply ethno-stans which later adopted a more evolved form of government. But they were not conceived that way from the start.

I've got a suggestion: let all the other states in the world stop their discriminatory practices and then lecture the Jews about how ethnocentric they are.

I appreciate your idealism, and in a perfect world I would agree with you, but most people who complain about Israel do not really object to ethnic nationalism, they just object to Jewish ethnic nationalism.

But, anyway, let me ask you a question: do you believe that the "Palestinins" are entitled to their own state?

Posted by: Ephraim at May 12, 2006 05:57 PM

Ephraim,

I think the only possible solution is a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. This means a real country following as much as possible the 1967 borders. Obviously the Palestinians must give up any possibility of 'returning' to Israel.

The difficulty is Jerusalem. The ideal would be an international city but this is unlikely so Israel will continue to administer it with a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. Full religious rights for all.

Also ultimately the Golan Heights must be returned to Syria, on a demilitarized basis, in return for Syria recognizing Israel.

The United States can certainly be credited with the principle of the separation of church and state. Interestingly this was because of a dispute between various Christian sects.

Americans get in to trouble on the international stage because they think of their country as being special and having a mission. A little humility would save everyone a lot of aggravation.

Posted by: Richard at May 12, 2006 06:48 PM

Okay, I want to ask a bizarre question.

After your conversation, how much did you wind up paying for the necklace?

I liked P J O'Rourke's saying in his book "Holidays in Hell". I don't have the book next to me, but in his essay on Europeans, he said that Arabs, one on one, are the kindest, most wonderful people you'll ever meet. But get a gang of them reading a Koran and they become abruptly savage.

Doesn't sound like your friend the shopkeeper's likely to be savage. One thing this does show, I think, is that financial opportunity can heal a lot of wounds. It's a pity the Palastinians decided to blow themselves up instead of trying to integrate themselves into Israeli society, the most decent in the middle east by far.

D

Posted by: David H Dennis at May 12, 2006 07:01 PM

Ephraim said,
"But, anyway, let me ask you a question: do you believe that the "Palestinins" are entitled to their own state?"

As an old, but simple minded-country boy, who grew up working on a cattle ranch to pay my way through college to get a cushy office job, this is a no-brainer.

Yes. They should have their own state, or at least their own full citizenship in an existing state.

Details follow, as in a computer program flow chart.

Jordan and Eqypt:
Do you want to absorb the Palestinins into your countries as your citizens with full rights ?

"Yes". >> OK. Thanks much. Problem solved.

"No".
Jordan, Egypt, and the people called "Palestinins":
Do all you'all want to have Egypt and Jordan cede some territory for a Palestinin State, and let them run it, in return for them just letting Israel "exist", and just let the Arabs currently living in Israel continue to just "act like humans" ?
"Yes". >> OK. Thanks much. Problem solved.

"No".
Do you HAVE a solution ?
"Yes". >> OK, what is it ?
"War to the death".
OK.
You got it.
Good Luck ! ! !
You haven't done REAL well in the last few tries.

Now to the fridge for another beverage,
and it's off to solve the "Atzlan" problem.

It's a minor concern to we white immigrants living in the U.S. southwest alongside descendents of Spanish immigrants to Mexico who intermarried with the native Indians, and a bunch of whom seem to have wandered up here for work. And, GOOD WORK they do, bless their souls. My golf course is IMMACULATE.

Posted by: Dan P. at May 12, 2006 07:19 PM

I just read "Holidays in hell" and it was as funny as "Parliament of Whores". I wouldn't be suprised if PoH is still funny and accurate in fifty years.

Richard said, "A little humility would save everyone a lot of aggravation." You are missing the point of America to begin with if you expect "humility".

Posted by: Mike at May 12, 2006 10:22 PM

Richard,

The US, Canada and Australia are immigrant states and Israel is a nation-state like 95% of states in the world. You can't caompare them directly as they are based on different principles. You might say that the idea of a nation state is racist but then don't single out Israel.

Furthermore, do you seriously believe there is no racism in US, Canada and Australia? You want me to quote some statistics on the gap between white and black in the US for example? Or the average economic, education, health levels of natives in Australia and Canada? There is no utopia on this earth, so I'm sure you don't live in one. Think about that before you throw stones.

Posted by: Alex at May 12, 2006 11:11 PM

Anyone interested in getting an approximate idea of what happened in 1948 should read the many books by Israeli historian Benny Morris, probably the foremost expert on this subject. He used to be a left wing revisionist, but has now moderated his views.

From my understanding, there was no consistant Jewish policy concerning expulsion of the Arabs. Some fled voluntarily, and others were expelled. The Arabs of Ramle and Lod, for example, were forced to leave, while in Haifa and Tiberias the conquering Israelis, along with the remaining British mandatory authorities, begged the Arabs to stay. In the latter cases, the muktar of each community, perhaps fearing he would be branded a traitor, refused the Israeli offer and instead led his people into exile.

We always used to hear about the famous radio broadcasts from Arab capitals urging the Arab inhabitants of Palestine to flee so that the invading Arab armies could annihilate the Jews. There is no evidence that this ever happened. Probably it was an Israeli propaganda ploy.

I have done research on the Druze communities in Israel. Because of their cooperation with the Jews during this period, no Druze were expelled. In many villages Druze live together with Christian Arabs (less so with Muslims), and there are stories of the Druze successfully intervening with the Israeli army to prevent the planned expulsion of the Christian villagers.

One clarification. While many Druze, Bedouin, and Circassians serve in the IDF, there are
almost no other Arabs who do so, in spite of the fact that many would like to volunteer. The army is cutting recruitment, and the Israeli Arabs simply aren't needed or wanted.

By the way, I am staunchly pro-Israel, believe fully in the justness of Israel's war on terror, and also believe that Israeli society is basically a just and virtuous one. Recent surveys show that many Israelis hold "racist" views. This is not justifiable, but is understandable, given the awful, bloody history we've had with the Arabs. Still, it's not a Jim Crow society, you don't see vigilante violence against Arabs living inside the green line (apart from the occasional whacko), and the Israeli Arabs are more prosperous than their brethren outside of Israel. The sad fact is, that the Israeli Arabs are relatively politically powerful, and therefore more prosperous than the Druze and Bedouin who serve in the army.

Posted by: MarkC at May 13, 2006 12:45 AM

Wonderful work Michael.

When's the book coming out? I'd really like to have your Middle East Journal in book form and it would make a wonderful gift.

Thank you.

Posted by: Steve M at May 13, 2006 01:19 AM

Richard,

Totally agree.

Here is what I propose. We get the Saudis to be more friendly to other religions. Once that is accomplished we start on Israel

Posted by: M. Simon at May 13, 2006 01:23 AM

Why should Americans be humble?

We have Texas and you do not.

Posted by: M. Simon at May 13, 2006 01:31 AM

Hey Michael...
I'm going to be in Israel on a volunteer program 5/15-5/29. I work on an army base, usually mundane stuff, that frees up army personnel to pursue other things. But it's such a blast...!!
I check emails as often as possible, mostly on week-ends. Your articles are wonderful, and seem to have captured the essence of the experience......and the intricate inner workings that are constantly at play in this most amazing place.
If possible, it would be very cool if we could get together and "schmoooz" for a while.
What do you say?

Steve

Posted by: Steve Malamud at May 13, 2006 04:35 AM

Isn't a call for "Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza" a call for ethnic cleansing of the Israelis that live on the West Bank? The Palestinian Authority still consider it agaist the law for Jews to own property and still enforces the Jordanian law that selling real estate to Jews is punishable by death.

Just like it would have been pro-ethnic cleansing to say "Sudeteland to Germany!" because they intended to "cleanse" any non-Germans, isn't it pro-ethnic cleansing to say "West Bank to Palestine!"?

Ursus Maritimus
Christian by Birth, Atheist by Choice.

Posted by: Ursus Maritimus at May 13, 2006 04:41 AM

Why, exactly, should Israel be held to a higher standard than any other ME country? Their Arab population is treated better by far than any remaining Jewish population might be in any other muslim country. In fact, their arab population is treated better than most arab populations in muslim countries. Maybe we should start worrying about their human rights for a change and when they have all been brought up to the standard of Israel we can start picking on Israel again.

Posted by: MCATL at May 13, 2006 05:00 AM

I so enjoy reading your blog. I live in Bahrain and see things differently, especially the way I use to see things while living in the States. I do agree w/ you, Arabs are very friendly and giving ppl. They are nicer than most ppl, I will say that.

This is a great story but it also makes me sad. I wish things would change for everyone.

Posted by: tooners at May 13, 2006 05:20 AM

Just want to point out that in fact every state in North and South America is based on immigration, not just the US and Canada.

Interesting point about Israel being an "ethnic" nation-state versus an immigration country. I hadn't thought of it that way but it makes a certain sense, as does the double-standard argument based on it. We surely don't bother the Germans about their policy of requiring that citizens be German by birth or marriage.

Posted by: Stacy at May 13, 2006 05:53 AM

Alex,

This is a blog about Israel and about the condition of Arabs in Israel so naturally I am commenting on this issue. I do not hesitate to criticize other countries for their discriminatory policies, sometimes much more vehemently (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Sudan, etc). Clearly there is racism in places like Canada and the U.S. Those countries have at least moved away from legislated and religious differences. Hopefully, Alex, we are all striving for the 'ideal'. So we should not hesitate to cast stones at Israel and all other countries until we get it right.

M.Simon, as far as Saudi Arabia goes, it is clear that the War on Terror should have focused there before Iraq or Iran. This is a true apartheid state where by law non-muslims cannot practise their religion, cannot even be buried in the country.

M. Simon, you may have Texas but we have Alberta which is bigger, more beautiful, and it turns out has a lot more oil! We also have have Celine Dion - I take it back we should be humble.

MCATL,

If we want Israel to be compared to modern liberal democracies, and I think we do, then we have a duty to compare it to those kind of countries and not to Middle Eastern countries with worse records.

Posted by: Richard at May 13, 2006 06:06 AM

A very nice article. Rings true with much I've heard.

A few points.

Regarding the 1948 issue from what I've read the dynamic was complex. The violence in the late mandate period (both Jewish and Arab) made the Arab elite flee (the Jews obviously had nowhere to run) and that triggered more "voluntary flight." Obviously this isn't ethnic cleansing. Some Arabs fled from fighting as wars create refugees. I suspect these two groups were the largest categories of refugees. Some Arabs fled expecting victory and didn't return, but one suspects that wasn't such a large amount. Finally some refugees were forced out by Jewish forces. Many Israelis argue that most of these expellees were actively supporting Arab armies and guerrillas, and their expulsion was military necessity, not outright ethnic cleansing. The reality is more clouded.

As for Israel's national vs. immigration idenitity. Most people are utterly oblivious to the nearly complete and total immigrant identity of all Israelis and Palestinians. Clearly there always has been a Jewish community in the land of Israel, and there's been Arabs there probably even before Islam. But most of the people in Israel/Palestine came after the 1880s. The Jewish settlement did not only spur Arab population growth, but also Arab population movements into the formerly rather underpopulated mandate. The numbers are highly contested, but a signifigant proportion of the Arab population certainly arrived after 1917.

Posted by: Mark at May 13, 2006 07:56 AM

I should add that Arab entrance into the security services are highly fraught. On the one hand to demand them to kil their cousins is problematic. On the other service is a fundemental part of the Israeli ethos (perhaps weakening, but still real and not only in material benefits) and their exclusion (and the difficulties and hoops volunteers have to jump through, alongside discrimination issues) is also problematic.

Still and yet given Israel's diversity (the Arabs have 3 political parties! and then there are the intr-Jewish divisions!) it does pretty well.

Posted by: Mark at May 13, 2006 08:00 AM

Reading these dispatches is so frustrating. There are errors of fact. There are errors of morality. There are errors of impression.

A glaring one, to me: The photos of Jaffa: That is not what Arab Jaffa looks like. Rather, those are photos of the part colonized by subsidized Jewish artists decades ago and turned by the municipality into a (rather sterile) tourist attraction. Arab Jaffa is further south. The homes are bigger and the place is as unkempt as a garbage tip. It is not picturesque. (Good hummous though.)

This is a minor error I suppose, but again, it's frustrating to see dozens of people commenting, and therefore surely thousands of people reading, a dispatch that feels so misleading.

I know why the guys in Jaffa didn't want to be interviewed: to them you were just another busybody. They want to be making a living off you; they don't want to be giving you their time so you can make a living off them. They are just normal folks living their lives. It's like someone coming to Iowa City and saying Gee, what's it like to live right here, so far from, I don't know, the ocean? Isn't it all fraught with danger? Tell me about it. The world wants to hear.

And the central premise. You mean there are Arab Israelis? A million of them? Gosh, who knew! Anybody who knows anything about Israel, that's who.

I feel uncharitable. Maybe it's not so bad. I'm going back to have another read... No, my heckles are raised in the first random paragraph I choose. The photo of the mosque: Is the hotel behind it (the David Intercontinental) a "Jewish" hotel? I suppose in that it's in Israel and goes through the whole rigamarole of Sabbath elevators and all that, but wouldn't it then be more appropriate to refer to it as a Kosher hotel? Calling it Jewish seems tin-eared to me. How did you get down there? In a Jewish taxi? With Jewish upholstery? Smoking a Jewish cigarette?

Well, at least there are comments here where people who actually know something about the topic are writing. But really, it would take 30 seconds on the 'net to discover that Tel Aviv and Jaffa are one municipality.

There is no research, let alone scholarship. There is no background knowledge. There is platitudinal morality which blocks insight. However, what there is is a perspective from living in Lebanon, and, to end on a less grouchy note, that in itself, seeing Tel Aviv through Beirut-conditioned eyes, is a contribution.

Posted by: Adam Khan at May 13, 2006 09:08 AM

"And the central premise. You mean there are Arab Israelis? A million of them? Gosh, who knew! Anybody who knows anything about Israel, that's who."

Adam: I remember reading an article not so long ago in Haaretz regardin the total ignorance about the "Palestinians of 1948" among many Arab people in Syria, Irak and other countries. They simply don't know about it, and don't understand it. They think that if you are Israeli you are Jewish. And if you are an Arab then you are a Palestinian living in the territories. Think that what Michael writes has a wider public than what you think.

Regarding a few other things that you comment and I didn't pay atention before, you are right. It is not a Jewish hotel just as Michael did not ride a Jewish taxi. (If he rode a taxi at all, I can walk through Tel Aviv East to West and back in a couple of hours.)

Best,
Fabian

Posted by: Fabian at May 13, 2006 09:34 AM

What if the Israeli's expanded the Law of Return to allow the entry of Christian refugees from Darfur and Hindu refugees from Muslim Pakistan?
That might be away of sustaining the population base capable of resisting Muslim agression.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Posted by: McAristotle at May 13, 2006 10:21 AM

Actually, there's no need to rewrite the law of return to increase the Jewish population significantly. There is a group in India who identify as Jews, calling themselves "Bnei Israel", and apparently there are millions of them. However, they are not being persecuted, the country can't afford to support a huge number of unskilled immigrants, so they leave them where they are.

Posted by: MarkC at May 13, 2006 10:40 AM

Jaffa looks like what I wish Lebanon looked like, even if it is the Jewish part of Jaffa. It's beautifully preserved. Very few houses in Lebanon are maintained to such a degree.

The market in the Old City looks like a nicer and more gentrified version of the market in the Old City in Damascus.

BTW, what are "Sabbath elevators"? Are they elevators that you walk into that stop on every floor without you having to press a button? Do they operate by voice command? It's a pretty cool concept.

Michael, I really liked the post. It has a homey feel to it. It reminded me of your best post; the one on the peshmerga and Omar and Muhammad not being able to get into Hawler: security versus freedom of movement.

Posted by: lebanon.profile at May 13, 2006 10:42 AM

Adam Khan,

Do you always act like a twitchy little bitch the first time you post comments on somebody's blog?

I know why the guys in Jaffa didn't want to be interviewed: to them you were just another busybody.

It must be cool to be able to read other people's minds like you can, especially when you haven't ever met them or even seen them.

It's like someone coming to Iowa City and saying Gee, what's it like to live right here, so far from, I don't know, the ocean? Isn't it all fraught with danger? Tell me about it. The world wants to hear.

Are all "man on the street" interviews this insipid in your universe? Or only "man on the street" interviews with Israeli Arabs for some reason? Maybe you prefer I only quote Israeli Jews on the subject of Israeli Arabs and not let them speak for themselves? Too bad, if so.

And the central premise. You mean there are Arab Israelis? A million of them? Gosh, who knew!

That's not the central premise. It's the first fucking paragraph. So everyone will realize I'm not talking about the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza.

I feel uncharitable.

At least you are self-aware.

The photo of the mosque: Is the hotel behind it (the David Intercontinental) a "Jewish" hotel? I suppose in that it's in Israel and goes through the whole rigamarole of Sabbath elevators and all that, but wouldn't it then be more appropriate to refer to it as a Kosher hotel?

While visually contrasting the David Hotel with a mosque, no, not any more than I would refer to the mosque as halal.

It would take 30 seconds on the 'net to discover that Tel Aviv and Jaffa are one municipality.

What does that have to do with anything? This is not a post about the city council, school districts, or garbage collection.

Manhattan and Staten Island belong to the same municipality. Does that mean they are the same place?

There is no research, let alone scholarship.

First of all, this is a blog, not the Middle East Studies Department at Princeton. Second, no research? Shall I send you a photograph of my home library?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 13, 2006 11:04 AM

I am fascinated by your blog, your travels. I'm not an historian by any stretch, but a new expat (left the US for Costa Rica and beyond - what took me so long?) The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so complex and, even with the mistakes as pointed out by the grouchy one above, yours is a real person, on the ground perspective. I'm appreciating it!

Posted by: Saratica at May 13, 2006 11:09 AM

Actually most people are extraordinarily ignorant of Israel. Ask the man on the street the area and population of Israel in Canada, for example, and they will probably be grossly wrong.

I think studies show that people in Canada think Israel's living standards are comparable with Syria and feature many camels. That always amused the cabbies who bullied their way through Jerusalem traffic.

Posted by: Mark at May 13, 2006 01:08 PM

A fine post in a fine series, but I can't understand why Michael accepted the "hamsa" / "hand of Fatima" correction yet is standing his ground on calling the David InterContinental Tel Aviv a Jewish hotel. As others have noted, this weblog has a wide readership, and some might mistakenly, and most unfortunately, read "apartheid" into that label.

InterContentinental is an international hotel chain, and I see nothing on the hotel's website that suggests that the InterContinental, self-described as "the newest luxury hotel in Tel Aviv," specifically targets a Jewish clientele. There's no mention on the website of Sabbath elevators, nor any indication that the hotel's restaurants or convention facilities are under kosher supervision. (I'm not saying that these aren't present at the hotel; I'm saying that they're not promoted on the website.) The website lists many languages spoken by the hotel staff, including Arabic.

Certainly the name "David" doesn't make the hotel Jewish. The author of the Psalms is highly regarded in Christianity, and is reckoned as a prophet by Muslims.

Posted by: Ben F at May 13, 2006 01:16 PM

Sabbath elevators BTW, stop on every floor, as you guessed. They don't operate by command-the point is that on the Sabbath you can't make a machine work by pressing buttons etc. but if the machine started to operate before the sabbath and you just happen to walk on it, that's all good. SImilarly many Orthodox Jews use timers on the sabbath to work electric lights.

Posted by: Mark at May 13, 2006 01:20 PM

You know to really find Arab Israelis you should go to places like Um Al-Fahm or the upper Galilee. In demographic, land, and ethnic conflict terms terms those areas are most interesting and probably provide a more real sense of Israeli Arab life than Jerusalem or Jaffa. Another key place would be Haifa, which is one of the few truly mixed places in the Middle East left.

Perhaps for a later project.

Posted by: Mark at May 13, 2006 01:25 PM

"it’s important to realize it’s not institutionalized.”

That simply is not true. There is flagrant institutionalized discrimination against them in housing and education spending for example.

Kerstein ignores the special status the Israeli government gives several quasi-governmental bodies. These Jewish organisations explicitly aim to benefit Jews only and have authority for certain governmental functions, including developing the land and housing projects and settlements. Their activities are co-ordinated with the government and are given tax benefits, and they have a lot of influence on decision-making boards (particularly in agriculture and land use).

"imagine if Congress passed a law stating that the U.S. was from this point forward to be legally defined as a Christian nation. As such, Christians would be given special privileges for jobs, loans, and land ownership, and Christians from anywhere in the world would be given preference in immigration, extended automatic citizenship upon coming to America.

Furthermore, political candidates espousing certain beliefs -- especially those who might argue that we should be a nation with equal rights for all, and not a “Christian nation” -- were no longer allowed to hold office, or even run for election.

And imagine that next month, laws were passed that had the effect of restricting certain ethnic and religious groups from acquiring land in particular parts of the country, and made it virtually impossible for members of ethnic minorities to live in particular communities." - Israeli Repression and the Language of Liars

Posted by: Tom Murphy at May 13, 2006 04:27 PM

I think there needs to be more honesty about how cruel the dominant Zionist plan was and is.

Yes there were Jews that didn't want a discriminatory system imposed on the non-Jews. Decent Jews like Ahad Aham were shocked by the attitude and actions of Zionist Jews. He complained as early as 1891, "They treat the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, unscrupulously deprive them of their rights, insult them without cause, and even boast of these deeds." Some of the Jews who didn't want to go along with this Zionist agenda were murdered by Zionist Jews for taking such a noble stand.

Let's be honest about what the agenda was, the father of Zionism plotted ethnic cleansing and Jewish supremacy from the beginning. Herzl wrote, "Immigration is consequently futile unless based on an assured supremacy." And very early on, he set about trying to get the power to implement the ethnic cleansing he desired. He went to Constatinople in 1901 in an attempt to get a charter that would have given them the right to deport the native population of Palestine.

Look what was done even to many of those you describle as "lucky." In the first 8 years, the Jewish State took away a staggering 50% of all the land owned by Palestinians remaining in Israel. The shocking fact is some 39,000 Palestinians who were "lucky" to find themselves within Israel were robbed anyway! "Israel seized property and land from some 39,000 Palestinians who escaped expulsion and remained in Israel. It was never retuned, and these individuals never received compensation although they are citizens of Israel." (see The Palestinians: In Search of a Just Peace by Cheryl A. Rubenberg )

Posted by: Tom Murphy at May 13, 2006 06:49 PM

I haven't visited your dumb blog in quite awhile, but I think I get the jist here; your stupid President and your politics are weak, wrong and dumb...so now this is a photo-travel blog? Complete with dumb "cafe" stories and taxi cab interviews?

Your photos are shit. Your stories suck. And you are still a vagina.

Posted by: burnplant at May 13, 2006 08:17 PM

Tom Murphy

"imagine if Congress passed a law stating that the US was from this point forward to be legally defined as a Christian nation"

This analogy doesn't hold up.

The Law of Return is based on birth and parentage, not religious belief. In that respect it is no different to citizenship rights of most nations, including the United States

Describing someone as a "Christian atheist" is contradictory. But there are many non religious Jews or atheist Jews - perhaps even a majority!

Posted by: Jane at May 13, 2006 09:10 PM

Burnplant: Your photos are shit. Your stories suck. And you are still a vagina.

Ooh, I'm a vagina. Nice to see you too, buddy.

How old are you? Thirteen?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 13, 2006 09:55 PM

Burnplant: Your photos are shit. Your stories suck. And you are still a vagina.

Ooh, I'm a vagina. Nice to see you too, buddy.

How old are you? Thirteen?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 13, 2006 09:58 PM

Richard - You're basic plan is to carve out Israel? Give one of the most valuable parts of the land (Also ultimately the Golan Heights must be returned to Syria, on a demilitarized basis, in return for Syria recognizing Israel.) away for "peace" and presto! Problem solved?
Sorry it doesn't work that way. (Maybe Dan P. plan is more realistic and fair.)
Like other have stated on this thread, (unfortunately) wars create refugees. Israel like every other nation has some black spots in their history, but they did not create the "Palestinian" refugee problem. I use quotes around Palestinian because it is relatively new (political) term to describe Arabs living in Palestine two or more years in what is now Israel before 1948 (UN's def. of Palestinian refugees).
Why must Israel give it's land which it has fought for it (defensively) and won?! Why can Jerusalem be controlled by Israelis when they allow Christians, Muslims, and Jews to practice their religion in peace? BTW who will regulate this international city?
Time and time again Hamas and other Arab leaders have called for the destruction of Israel. ALL of Israel, are you really that naive to think that Syria is not making peace with Israel because of the Golan Heights?! Israel is a great political tool for any oppressive Muslim regime. Got a problem? Blame it on the evil Zionist Jews. Works for Iran every time.

Tom Murphy - as for institutionalized discrimination, let me just explain something to you - it's called the Israeli army, if you don't serve in Israeli you don't get as many benefits as people who do. So if I was an Israeli Jew and abstained from army service I would not be eligible for a lot tax breaks and housing privileges that you describe. Arab Israelis can join the army and get the benefits, but most don't. So expecting benefits for service you didn’t do is silly.
Like Jane said, you're confusing religion with national identity. Even if I renounce being a Jew, I am still a Jew in Israeli governments eyes (and unfortunately Nazis as well.) So yes, like French, Germans, and Danes - Jewish identity is part of being an Israeli, it's not the only requirement but it's a must if the state of Israel wants to remain a Jewish state. F This might be racist to you, but for those whose family for generations suffered in different lands anti-Semitism, it is just plain justice (like mine).
When people ask my origins I'm tempted to say Israel. Yet I usually say, I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia a land not known for olive skinned brunette girls, yet there I am the product of hundreds of generations that came from Israel. Like a silly flash presentation I recently saw, Israel is 5,000+ years old but is only celebrating only its 58th year. The sooner you realize that in the last 5,000 years there have been Jews living in Israel, the sooner the “racist” right of return dilemma will resolve itself.

P.S. You write about the expulsion of land by Jews in Israel. What about the Jews in Iraq, Iran, and other Muslim countries that were driven out with violent means often not being able to take any of their property after 1948? More than 100,000 came to Israel alone, who else would have taken them. (See unlike Arab countries like Egypt and Syria we Israel took in their refugees, while Arab countries created a permanent refugee population to be used for political gain.)

Posted by: Petitedov at May 13, 2006 10:02 PM

Meanwhile...

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,,1774399,00.html

Freedom is on the march.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4768701.stm

The terrorists hate our freedoms.

Posted by: kevser at May 14, 2006 12:09 AM

"Arab citizens should not be ''spared'' the burdens of citizenship."

Um, some Arabs volunteer to serve in the army. The vast majority don't. And as far as being spared the burdens of citizenship goes, don't worry. Arabs still have to pay taxes and stuff.

Posted by: maor at May 14, 2006 03:04 AM

Michael,
I think the main reason Jews and Arabs don't communicate very well in Israel is that generally they live in different towns and they almost never intermarry. That's what's stopped me from having any Arab friends, and I know Hamas had nothing to do with it.

Posted by: maor at May 14, 2006 03:12 AM

Michael: you are doing a great job. Don't be afraid or ashamed of correcting sometimes your posts if you verify that they have been wrong. I, and I guess a lot of readers prefer that, instead of leaving it like it is, but also prefer that from newspaper articles who don't ever correct what they write, or do that in another edition in an inside page that nobody reads and the damage is done.

Hell, nobody knows everything, and we learn at the same time that you do.

I have mistaken the names of towns, trees and tombs in my own blog, so this is nothing new. When your posts become a book, then you will have time to ammend them fully and introduce new viewpoints to what you have already written.

Regarding your previous posts...Jerusalem also provokes in me a strange impact...and fear is among the feelings. But don't hurt our tourism, you bastard! :)

Best,
Fabi

Posted by: Fabian at May 14, 2006 03:25 AM

Tom Murphy writes:

I think there needs to be more honesty about how cruel the dominant Zionist plan was and is.

Look what was done even to many of those you describle as "lucky." In the first 8 years, the Jewish State took away a staggering 50% of all the land owned by Palestinians remaining in Israel. The shocking fact is some 39,000 Palestinians who were "lucky" to find themselves within Israel were robbed anyway! "Israel seized property and land from some 39,000 Palestinians who escaped expulsion and remained in Israel.

Just "39,000 Palestinians", that's it? What about the rest?

Tom, I think it's time for you to be honest about how these non Israelis came on to the "possession" and "ownership" of Judean/Israeli land. How do you suppose Muslims colonialists came to be "owners" of this land? Did they purchase their land deeds from the original citizens of Judea?

They did not. Like countless other invaders, they took forced possession of the land by the act of conquest. The land then became a Jihadi grant to those chosen to live on it. Israelis should do what the Spanish have done in 1492. They should reverse and roll back Jihadi colonization of their land, finally and completely. Enough with this nonsense.

Btw, as it is today, Jews are only allowed a temporary LEASE to their land/property from the State of Israel. The only Jewish land owner in Israel is the State of Israel. The land is nationalized. All of it needs to be nationalized.

Posted by: akmofo at May 14, 2006 08:42 AM

In fact only a small proportion of the land was even privately owned by the Arabs, and most of that was in the hands of absentee landlords who then happily sold it to Zionist Jewish Agency from the early 20th century onwards.

As you have correctly pointed out, most of the land of Israel even today is actually owned by the State (as it was under the Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate) or State authorities and is not in private hands, it is leased. For sure, this is anachronistic in this day and age but it reflects the socialist origins of the early Zionist movement.

That reality is what made the Palestinian refugees so vulnerable ... they carried with them the keys to their homes but very few could hold up actual title deeds -which is all that matters under law. And even if you do have title deeds it doesn't guarantee you perpetual occupancy - as anyone who has found their homes being commandeered for freeways or other developments can testify. All you get then is compensation, but it is never enough for the emotional turmoil in my experience.

The Palestinian Arabs were mostly tenants or squatters not land owners and therefore totally at the mercy of western traditions of clear title conveying ownership.

Posted by: Jane at May 14, 2006 09:30 AM

Michael:

If you really want to interview some Arab Christians in Jaffa, I can help you out. I know a family near St. Anthony's Church and some other folks who run business in Jaffa. Better hurry though, as I depart Israel in mid-June.

Posted by: Edwin at May 14, 2006 10:15 AM

Michael:

Your pictures in this post have been an everyday part of my life for the past 22-months. I walk the beaches of Tel Aviv and Hertzilya nearly everyday. All the places in your pictures are exactly the images I know and love.

Also, your article on Arabs in Israel could use some more understanding. There are three primary groups of Arabs, e.g., the Arab Mouslems, the Christians and the Druz. The Jewish people and Moslems rank ahead of the Christians in the pecking order.

Posted by: Edwin at May 14, 2006 10:19 AM

Jauhara, you should read the book, How to Make a Jewish Movie with Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Yul Brynner, Angie Dickinson, Senta Berger, Five Million Dollars, and the Israeli Army where the director recounts his experience trying to make and market Cast a Giant Shadow. Hilarious!

Posted by: Solomon2 at May 14, 2006 12:02 PM

Michael,

I think you went a little harsh on Adam Khan. His comments, regardless of his efforts to read minds, didn’t deserve such a walloping.

Mark,

Thanks for the Sabbath elevators description. It’s a great concept. Does anyone use them throughout the rest of the week?

On discrimination in Israel:

Man, I wish I qualified for birthright. It’s not fair that only Jews get an all expense paid two week to five month trip to Israel. I want a free trip to Israel. Some of my ancestors were Druze. Does that count?

Anyone want to sponsor my trip? I promise I'll read everything Michael Oren's ever written. I'd like to meet with a highly diverse varity of people over the course of a month and explore every nook and cranny of the country.

Daniel Barenboim is one of my favorite composers and Amos Oz is brilliant.

Just don't expect me to say much after visiting Yad Vashem. I get catatonic. I sank into a major depression after visiting the Holocaust Museum in DC. In fact, I couldn't complete the visit. I had trouble after visiting the Daniel Libeskind designed Jewish Museum in Berlin. I wouldn't have been able to speak after visiting the Warsaw ghetto and Auschwitz had our guide not been a survivor who helped in the filming of "Schindler's List" and took us on a tour of the charming Wylicka salt mine after the death camp visit. It's too much weight for me to carry.

Posted by: lebanon.profile at May 14, 2006 02:37 PM

Grain of salt?

Did you see this yet?
Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Sunday, May 14, 2006 [5days old]
Israel to bomb Iran?

Israel will hit Iran in the next few months: Israeli official

By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear facilities in the next “month or two or three,” an Israeli official has been quoted here as saying.

http://TonyGuitar.blogspot.com

In this case, Daily Times is A new voice for a new Pakistan. Grain of salt? Not sure. TG

Posted by: TonyGuitar at May 14, 2006 02:38 PM

lebanon.profile:

"On discrimination in Israel:

Man, I wish I qualified for birthright. It’s not fair that only Jews get an all expense paid two week to five month trip to Israel. I want a free trip to Israel. Some of my ancestors were Druze. Does that count?"

I'm curious, how is that discriminatory? How many Druze have contributed finances to fund these birthright trips? If the Druze community set up a similar fund for a similar purpose, would you be calling it discriminatory if non-Druze didn't get to go?

"Daniel Barenboim is one of my favorite composers and Amos Oz is brilliant."

Name one composition by Daniel Barenboim, cause I sure can't. And who is Amos Os? Another left wing political provocateur? Understandably you would find these leftist rags "brilliant".

Posted by: akmofo at May 14, 2006 05:51 PM

LP, why don't you just tell them that you are a jew from Lebanon? I believe I read, on this site possibly, that there are around sixty jewish people living in Lebanon.

Posted by: Mike at May 14, 2006 06:59 PM

Mike, you seem to know your Lebanese merchandise well. I suspect Lebanon might well take your advice.

Posted by: akmofo at May 14, 2006 07:23 PM

Lebanon.Profile: Anyone want to sponsor my trip? I promise I'll read everything Michael Oren's ever written.

You are hilarious.

akmofo to Lebanon.Profile: And who is Amos Os? Another left wing political provocateur? Understandably you would find these leftist rags "brilliant".

Don't be an ass. LP is a friend of mine, and he's no left-wing provacateur.

And yes, Amos Oz is brilliant.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 14, 2006 07:51 PM

"Mike, you seem to know your Lebanese merchandise well."

I am missing the point. What is the point of your comment.

Posted by: Mike at May 14, 2006 07:54 PM

So good, MJT.

Another awesome piece.

Congratulations.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at May 14, 2006 09:41 PM

Any discussion of the population/refugee issue is incomplete unless the numbers of Jews from Arab countries who were more or less forced out after 1948 is considered.

Is Syria, for example, prepared to allow a "right of return" for the Jews who were forced out of Damascus after 1948?

The "exchange of populations" has occurred in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian multi-ethnic empires. A prime example is the 1922 treaty of Sevres after the Greeks invaded Turkey and lost. The 2000+ year old civilization of Asia Minor Greeks was obliterated.

Likewise the equally ancient population of Mesopotamian Jews.

All the king's horses and all the king's men--won't put that back together again.

The real question is--what's the next best thing?

Posted by: Grumpy Old Man at May 14, 2006 10:28 PM

Any discussion of the population/refugee issue is incomplete unless the numbers of Jews from Arab countries who were more or less forced out after 1948 is considered.

Is Syria, for example, prepared to allow a "right of return" for the Jews who were forced out of Damascus after 1948?

The "exchange of populations" has occurred in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian multi-ethnic empires. A prime example is the 1922 treaty of Sevres after the Greeks invaded Turkey and lost. The 2000+ year old civilization of Asia Minor Greeks was obliterated.

Likewise the equally ancient population of Mesopotamian Jews.

All the king's horses and all the king's men--won't put that back together again.

The real question is--what's the next best thing?

Posted by: Grumpy Old Man at May 14, 2006 10:29 PM

If you really want to see a good example of Israel-Arab coexistence, go up north to Haifa. They all get along fine there most of the time. Apartment building have Christian, Muslim, and Jewish tenants who have great relations.

Most of the Israeli Arabs are those who did not willingly leave Israel so the neighboring Arab countries could destroy the new Jewish state. You should have made more of a point of that. Yes, some of them were pushed out by the Israeli army, but most left on the orders of the Arab countries who promised them they could come back after they had pushed all the Jews into the sea. Of course, this didn't happen.

Posted by: Yardena at May 15, 2006 02:57 AM

Jane wrote: "In fact only a small proportion of the land was even privately owned by the Arabs, and most of that was in the hands of absentee landlords who then happily sold it to Zionist Jewish Agency from the early 20th century onwards... That reality is what made the Palestinian refugees so vulnerable ... they carried with them the keys to their homes but very few could hold up actual title deeds -which is all that matters under law. And even if you do have title deeds it doesn't guarantee you perpetual occupancy - as anyone who has found their homes being commandeered for freeways or other developments can testify. All you get then is compensation, but it is never enough for the emotional turmoil in my experience. The Palestinian Arabs were mostly tenants or squatters not land owners and therefore totally at the mercy of western traditions of clear title conveying ownership."

WOW! That is such a load of crap, I don't even know where to begin. If by "happily sold" you mean "forced to sell for pennies on the dollar," then you are restating history accurately. But the Palestinian Arabs were mostly the descendents of families who had lived on the land for centuries in systems that never required the "western tradition of clear title conveying ownership." [And what racism, by the way, to say a thing like that!] Arab tribal sytems had always been like that, and many still function in that way. The state "owns" the lands, but they are tended to and even goverend by tribes in return for taxes and tithing.

Jane, you make it sound like it was their own fault and the Palestinian Arabs were totally to blame for being forced of their land- and that the Israelis were justified for doing it. You don't have to believe that to believe in the right of Israel to exist. In fact, you probably shouldn't. Just because you believe that Israel should exist does not mean you have to go about defending the bullshit that passes for the "historical record" between 1918 and 1948.

I'll say this as diplomatically as I can, because its a highly sensitive topic for highly obvious reasons: I can understand why it would be difficult for Israelis and Jews to acknowledge what happened to the Palestinians living there before 1948. But to ignore the actions of the Orthodox-Zionist right wing - including the acts of terrorism against the early Israeli state - and its zero-sum justifications is to ignore the cold reality of the early Israeli polity.

Posted by: Jane is Wrong at May 15, 2006 07:03 AM

But to ignore the actions of the Orthodox-Zionist right wing - including the acts of terrorism against the early Israeli state - and its zero-sum justifications is to ignore the cold reality of the early Israeli polity.

You are showing your ignorance. The great majority of Zionists were (and are) non-Orthodox and left-wing.

I cannot ignore your zero-sum justifications for spreading... how shall I put this delicately?... untruths.

Posted by: Jane is Wrong... is Wrong at May 15, 2006 07:38 AM

Jane is Wrong... Is Wrong:

Do you have any idea how to read, or any idea what you are talking about?

First of all, I wrote - clearly - that I was speaking about the "Orthodox-Zionist right wing." That does not at all presuppose that the majority of Zionists were/are right wingers. I'm referring to a specific group, and I used a specific label so no one would be confused. Your point is moot and misses the mark. I was referring to the Irgun, to Jabotinsky, Begin, and to the so-called "Revisionist Zionists." That should have been clear enough without saying so specifically, but that is out of the way now in any case.

The Irgun was aggressively right-wing and anti-socialist, and attacked British, Israelis and Arabs without discrimination so long as they believed it would get British troops out and allow the continuation of militant Zionism. I shouldn't have to remind anyone of the gruesome depopulation/"cleansing" of Deir Yassin, which occurred prior to the outbreak of war in 1948. There are other stories in other villages just like that one- including Jaffa. Michael might describe the city as "Arab," but he gives no population statistics. The reality is that 80,000 Arabs lived there before the city was "cleansed" in 1948. After the 1948 War, it was down to around 4000, and today it is only around 10,000. Little wonder why there is no "groovy melting pot" culture.

Posted by: Jane is Wrong at May 15, 2006 08:13 AM

Here is what I propose. We get the Saudis to be more friendly to other religions. Once that is accomplished we start on Israel

Oh, but you know the Left never holds the little brown people to the same standards as they do white folks. So if you're looking for racism, look no further than the Left's bigotry of low expectations towards the Arab/muslim world compared to Israel. You see, Israel is "white" and "western", which to the Left is like red to a bull. The target is simply irresistible.

Whereas the Saudis are noble savage brown folks and "ethnic", and therefore always blameless in the Lefty worldview. White folks good, brown folks bad. That, in a nutshell, is always the launching point if you're a Lefty. It's practically in their DNA. No other way to explain why Israel is held to such radically different standards from other countries.

Add to this that Israel is a country "legitimized" by the Bible and supported by conservative christians, and what else is poor Lefty to do! The Left's aversion to anything "biblical" should never be underestimated. That too is in their DNA.

Posted by: Carlos at May 15, 2006 08:54 AM

White folks bad, I mean. Brown folks ALWAYS good.

Posted by: Carlos at May 15, 2006 08:56 AM

Very nice, I reall enjoyed this piece and the great pictures. Outside of Israel we too often forget about these Arabs and these issues.

Posted by: buildings r my life at May 15, 2006 10:13 AM

Michael,

Why do you refer to the city of Jaffa as "Arab" when around 85% of the residents are Jewish?

Chris

Posted by: Chris at May 15, 2006 11:09 AM

"it’s important to realize it’s not institutionalized.”

Way too wrong... Israel is a jewish state, and if you're anything but jewish, expect to be a second-class citizen. No need to go far back in history and go into needless complexities, just follow the news.
"Palestinians married to Israelis lose court battle for residency"

Posted by: AR at May 15, 2006 11:12 AM

Akmofo,

Uhhh, buddy. You took it a little too seriously.

I've seen Barenboim conduct on myriad occassions and have his performance of the "Goldberg Variations" on CD. I know he's not a composer. I should start editing my writing, but then again, it wasn't meant to be serious.

Michael,

I'm a leftist? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! It's really funny that I'm being called that given how much effort you put into convincing me that I'm not rightwing, even though - as you claim - I have "deportation fantasies."

Posted by: lebanon.profile at May 15, 2006 12:24 PM

Lebanon.Profile,

Welcome to the Political Hybrid club, where your opinions are Rorshach Tests for other people.

The cool thing about it is that you can instantly tell what label people slap on themselves by what box they put you in.

I wouldn't put you in any left-right box. That's why I've tried to argue that you are not, actually, right-wing at all. Didn't you support John Kerry in 2004? And George W. Bush in 2000? And aren't you in favor of gay marriage? How many Lebanese agree with you about that?

You're a hybrid, man. Embrace it!

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 15, 2006 12:40 PM

AR at May 15, 2006 11:12 AM

The Israeli state prosecutors argued they were a security threat. The judges agreed. So do I. I would argue further, that ALL Muslims EVERYWHERE are a security thread to non-Muslims by virtue of their association with this supremacist blood cult called Islam. I know it isn't Politically Correct talk here, but that's the truth. Some will be coming to realize this truth sooner than they image.

Posted by: akmofo at May 15, 2006 01:06 PM

Richard:

You say that "citizens should be treated as individuals and not as members of a group", meaning, I presume, that there should be no ethnic/racial/national origin/religious criteria for citizenship in a country. That is, I presume that you are in favor of the US model of citizenship, where the citizen can be from anywhere so long as he/she forswears allegiance to any other nation and undertakes to uphold the Constitution. That is, citizenship is exclusively political and the national ethos shoud be devoid of any ethnic overtones, at least insofar as this privileges one group over another.

On this basis, you take issue with the fact that Israel is primarily a state of, by, and for Jews.

And yet, you believe that the "Palestinians" should have their own state. Which would, presumably, be of, by, and for "Palestinians", whoever these people might actually be.

Of course, as it is understood by almost everyone, a "Palestinian" is an Arab, almost always Muslim (the Christian "Palestinians" are busy getting out of Dodge on the fastest stage. They see the writing on the wall). He or she is most certainly not a Jew.

So, essentially, so far as I can tell, you advocate that Israel should stop being a Jewish state but that it is OK for the Arabs to have a "Palestinian" state, where, presumably, "Palestinians" would be privileged over anyone else.

Usually, this sort of thing is charitably called "hypocrisy" or "double standards". We usually refer to it as the "Jewish exception clause" (its OK for everybody else except the Jews) or, when we're in a really foul mood, "anti-Semitism", inasmuch as it presumes that Jews don't have the same rights as other people.

FYI, during the British Mandate, the British referred to Jews living in Mandate territory as "Palestinians", and this designation was stamped into their official ID papers issued by the Mandatory authority. The Arabs were referred to as .....Arabs.

Funny how things change, huh?

Posted by: Ephraim at May 15, 2006 01:28 PM

Ephraim,

Your first paragraph accurately summarizes my view on citizenship and the modern state. How you got from there to ``the Jewish exception clause`` and, wait for it, ``anti-Semitism``, boggles the mind.

Israel is a Jewish state because the majority of the people in it are Jewish. Ditto for an eventual Palestinian state. Within those states all citizens, of whatever ethnic, religious, political, background should have the same rights and obligations i.e. the state should treat them as individual citizens and not as members of a group.

Vershsteis?

Posted by: Richard at May 15, 2006 05:54 PM

Jane is Wrong ... confirms Jane is Right!

As you say yourself, the Arabs do not have the tradition of land coveyancing that exists the west. That is why I said the Palestinian refugees were "totally at the mercy of western conveyancing traditions". There is nothing racist in that statement. It was a tragedy.

Much of the small proportion of the land that was "privately owned" by Arabs in Palestine was sold to the Jews ... but they were not forced to pay for "pennies on the dollar". Right through the 1920s and 30s, even during the time of the Palestinian revolt aginst the British, Arab landlords, inclusing members of the prominent families who were supposed to be leading the revolt, were selling land at huge prices to the Jewish Agency. In fact the Arabs were offering far more land than the Jewish Agency could actually buy.

The Palestinian Arabs were continually betrayed by their own leadership, as they were in January-April 1948 when their leaders upped and moved out of Israel and did not stay to fight the war.

Posted by: Jane at May 15, 2006 06:44 PM

"Israel is a Jewish state because the majority of the people in it are Jewish."

Would you argue that a US city having a majority of Jewish residents, make it a Jewish city? How about arguing that a US city having majority "Latino" residents be considered Mexican?

There's a lot more to Israel being a Jewish state than a majority of Jewish citizenry. This includes religion, ethnic roots, language, culture, common shared history and identity, and a desire for common future and identity.

"Again separation of religion and state is necessary to be a successful democracy."

That's not true. Israel being the example. Further, the ethnic, cultural, and national identity of Israelis is inextricably tied to the Jewish religion and the Jewish Bible. The Jewish Bible/Religion is the vessel which carries and preserves all these criterions of which Israel is the modern expression. If you don't share in these criterions you have no business being in Israel or demanding that Israel grant you citizenship or even maintain your citizenship if for some quirk history that Israeli citizenship was granted earlier.

Israel is not for "the hungry, the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free." That's America. Israel is the place where Jews explore and invigorate their ancient Jewish identity. You wish to discount, devalue, deride, and ultimately break this identity by applying the instruments of demography and multiculturalism. These are the same instruments Israel's enemies have chosen after they failed at conventional warfare. In my opinion, Richard, this would classify you a classic anti semite. I do not believe you do this out of ignorance or stupidity. To me its obvious. You do this of out of malicious sport.

Posted by: akmofo at May 15, 2006 08:22 PM

akmofo,

Advocating the separation of church and state does not make a person an anti-semite of any kind, let alone the malicious kind. I'm not going to put up with your Politically Correct bullshit. Keep it up and you're out of here.

You already insulted a personal friend of mine solely - apparently - because he's Lebanese. So you're on my short list right out the starting gate.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 15, 2006 08:33 PM

MJT: You already insulted a personal friend of mine solely - apparently - because he's Lebanese.

Really? And you think his little "joke" had nothing to do with it?

MJT: Advocating the separation of church and state does not make a person an anti-semite of any kind,..

That's not what wrote, nor is it my interpretation of Richrad's real argument.

Here's what I wrote: "You wish to discount, devalue, deride, and ultimately break this identity by applying the instruments of demography and multiculturalism. These are the same instruments Israel's enemies have chosen after they failed at conventional warfare."

I think that's simple enough to undertand.

MJT: You already insulted a personal friend of mine solely - apparently - because he's Lebanese. So you're on my short list right out the starting gate.

I stand by everything I said, including my little joke regards your Lebanese. :)

Posted by: akmofo at May 15, 2006 09:00 PM

http://www.answering-islam.org/Books/Zwemer/Animism/chap4.htm

"The hand of Fatima," says Tremearne, "is a great favorite in Tunis, and one sees it above the great majorities of doorways; in Tripoli there is hardly one, and this is only to be expected, since the sign is an old Carthaginian one, representing not the hand of Fatima at all, but that of Tanith. It has been thought, however, that the amulet is so curiously similar to the thunderbolt of Adad, worn in the necklet of the Assyrian kings along with emblems for the sun, the moon, and Venus, that it may be a survival of that."

Posted by: Allah is a moon god at May 15, 2006 09:05 PM

akmofo,

"...ALL Muslims EVERYWHERE are a security thread to non-Muslims by virtue of their association with this supremacist blood cult called Islam..."

That sounds a bit bin ladenist!! There is no good of reply to you, when I'm sure you don't even know what the fundamental belief of islam is.

Keep your hatred up, buddy. I wonder what "blood cult" you're "association with"!

Posted by: AR at May 15, 2006 09:14 PM

AR,

There's a big difference. I'm not interested in turning you or anybody else into anything you are not. I really really really don't care about you. I really mean it. I don't even care if you're a Jihadi. Leave me and mine alone and don't try to subsume me and mine in your stupid game of Empire. Cause you play that game with me, I'm going to see you and yours are dead and gone.

Posted by: akmofo at May 15, 2006 09:39 PM

This war against the Jihadi Empire is unlike any other in History. We are not allowed to attack the Jihadi logistics train, training bases, supply depots, manpower reserves, ideology, etc. We're not even allowed to identify and name such. Thanks to Leftist imposed and Saudi financed PC, the Jihadi enemy only exists when he is actively engaged in trying to kill you. And occasionally where an Arrest Warrant is available.

Posted by: akmofo at May 15, 2006 10:21 PM

akmofo: We're not even allowed to identify and name such.

That didn't seem to prevent you from idiotically naming one billion Muslims - including Saad Hariri, King Abdullah of Jordan, the Kurds, etc. - as members of "a supremacist blood cult."

You are allowed to name the enemy. But you are not allowed to act like a bloviating bigoted ass on my Web site. Final warning.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 15, 2006 11:12 PM

akmofo, this might annoy you, but for some reason all the jewish girls in my town sleep with lebanese guys. They always joke about exploring her jewish identity.

Posted by: Mike at May 15, 2006 11:34 PM

Richard wrote:

"By the way I have even less patience for Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE which require you to be a Muslim to be a citizen. Or the Lebanese approach of designating political positions according to religious affiliation."

That must be why you spend 99% of your time criticizing Israel. Oh yeah, I forgot, that's unfair because this thread is about Israel, not those other places. You can just point me to some other discussion groups where you spent as much time tearing down SA, UAE, Lebanon (maybe throw in some other bastions of liberal democracy like Syria and Iran).

Posted by: Gary Rosen at May 16, 2006 12:32 AM

Michael,

You wrote to LP 'I wouldn't put you in any left-right box. That's why I've tried to argue that you are not, actually, right-wing at all. Didn't you support John Kerry in 2004? And George W. Bush in 2000? And aren't you in favor of gay marriage? How many Lebanese agree with you about that?'

Actually, I would. On all points.

Posted by: The Perpetual Refugee at May 16, 2006 01:06 AM

Why on earth shouldn't there be a Jewish state? No one has to live there if they don't want to. Anti-Zionists are people who simply can't bear anyone else doing what they want without their permission.

Posted by: Colin Meade at May 16, 2006 01:54 AM

Why on earth shouldn't there be a Jewish state? No one has to live there if they don't want to. Anti-Zionists are people who simply can't bear anyone else doing what they want without their permission.

Posted by: Colin Meade at May 16, 2006 01:55 AM

Jane,

If I took your statement out of context, then I apologize. The "at the mercy of western traditions" thing sounded very condescending and - to me anyway - like you were blaming the Palestinians for their lot.

In any case, we disagree about the way the land was "sold" to Israel. There were cases like the ones you described, but there was also plenty of violent intimidation behind it all. Palestinians and tribal land owners alike knew what happened at Deir Yassin and Jaffa and other places, and knew what would happen if they didn't sell.

Posted by: Jane Is Wrong at May 16, 2006 04:12 AM

MJT: You are allowed to name the enemy. But you are not allowed to act like a bloviating bigoted ass on my Web site. Final warning.

I named the ideology behind it all. Which is Islam. ALL members subscribing to that Jihadi ideology, just as ALL members subscribing to the Nazi ideology, just as ALL members subscribing to Commie ideology, I consider suspect untill proven otherwise. That's my starting point. Why isn't yours?

Why are you so uncomfortable naming Islamism/Jihadism the enemy? Would you be as uncomfortable naming Nazism and Communism the enemy? There are just as many Communists as there are Jihadis. In Syria/Labanon they all mix into one. Is that the problem, Michael? Personal relations with Lebanon clouding your judgment? Why this reluctance to face the truth, Michael? Dhimmi caught your tongue?

=-=-=

Mike, I couldn't care less what some Jewish girls supposedly to do fun and money. That some like to sleep around with Lebanese thugs and gangsters living in Oz is not surprising. In Russia some slept with Commie thugs and gangsters including Stalin himself. In the US I'm sure some slept with Italian thugs and gangsters. It's low laying fruit. Easy plucking.

=-=-=

Jane Is Wrong, you are a professional Jihadi propaganda dissembler, a liar. Deir Yassin, if it ever happened, even according to your own propaganda supposedly occurred during the time of Israel's war of independence in 1948. The Jewish land purchases occurred in the 1800's and early 1900's. Your May 15, 2006 07:03 AM post is also pure BS. I'll address some of your other arab propaganda crap when I have more time.

Posted by: akmofo at May 16, 2006 07:24 AM

Akmofo,

"... if it ever happened..."

Right. Virtually no one on either side of the debate still denies that massacre. You might actually be the only one. Even Ben Gurion acknowledged and denounced it.

Also, get your dates straight. Deir Yassin happened on April 9, 1948. The Arab armies didn't invade until May.

Regarding the land purchases, its not like groups like the Irgun, Lehi and others weren't running around threatening acts like the Deir Yassin massacre for years. If you're denying that the writing wasn't on the wall, then you're out of your gizzard. Which you clearly are anyway.

Posted by: Jane Is Wrong at May 16, 2006 08:32 AM

Great blog and amazing amount of comments it is generating, but I don't think the candlestick on that piece of jewelry was a Menorah. A Menorah would have two more candles on it.

Posted by: Edward at May 16, 2006 08:36 AM

Well, I was wondering why there haven't been any new posts for the past few days. But I see from these comments, you all have been very very busy...

Posted by: Saratica at May 16, 2006 08:45 AM

akmofo,

You're an idiot and bigot, and you're not posting comments here anymore.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 16, 2006 09:09 AM

Akmofo,

Buddy, I still don't understand what was so offensive about what I wrote.

Okay, so you don't like Oren? What's the problem?

I was joking around, but there was truth to what I said. I would love to get a free trip to Israel. Of course, I understand why Jews get free trips, but that doesn't stop me from wanting one anyway.

And the Holocaust really, truly does depress me to the point of not being able to speak or move. And I don't see how any person could possibly bear the weight of all of Jewish history.

Then again, you really aren't in the game to discourse. You're looking to get upset about the innocuous.

You're also looking to make offensive remarks about all other commenters.

Michael,

Can he answer this? I really want to know why he's so offended.

Posted by: lebanon.profile at May 16, 2006 09:56 AM

LP,

I don't want him to answer. Like you said, he's not here for discourse. He's a troll. And the first rule of comments blogging is Do not feed the trolls.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 16, 2006 10:12 AM

Richard:

Unless I am misunderstanding you, you object to Jewish ethnic nationalism on principle. Yet you seem to support the idea of "Palestinian" ethnic nationalism. This is an obvious double-standard.

To believe that the "Palestinians" have the right to self-determination but that the Jews do not is to be an anti-Semite. Maybe not a Nazi-style anti-Semite, but an anti-Semite nonethelesss. What else do you call a person who believes the Jews do not have the same rights as everyone else?

If I am misunderstanding you, then I apologize and I hereby withdraw my accusation. If I am understanding you correctly, however, then the accusation stands.

Posted by: Ephraim at May 16, 2006 10:31 AM

Regarding Deir Yassin, just Google "Hebron pogrom" and see what you come up with. The atrocity propaganda sword cuts both ways.

For decades, the Arabs had been committing atrocities against the Jews to get them to give up and run away.

They didn't, that's all.

Posted by: Ephraim at May 16, 2006 10:44 AM

It does not shock me that CAMERA's website fails to include the other side and context of the violence.

Posted by: Jane Is Wrong at May 16, 2006 10:48 AM

Edward:

Yes, that is a menorah on the hamsa in the picture. It is modelled after the menorah that was in the Temple in Jerusalem.

I think you have it confused with a hannukiyah, or a candelabrum for Hannukah. A hannukiyah has places for eight candles in addition to a place for the shamash, or helper candle, for a total of nine candles when it is fully lit.

Posted by: Ephraim at May 16, 2006 10:56 AM

Ephraim,

I dont have a problem with Jewish ethnic nationalism any more than any other nationalism - Irish, French-Canadian, Armenian, Croatian or Palestinian. Jews have as much right to self-determination as anyone else. However, as a general principle, once a state is formed then all citizens within that entity should be treated equally both with respect to rights and to obligations.

Eg. Croatia secedes from Yugoslavia, a significant Serb minority remains, those Serbs should be treated as Croatian citizens with the same rights and obligations as ethnic Croatians.

The anti-semitism accusation becomes tiresome and ultimately devalues the term. Please reserve it for genuine cases.

Posted by: Richard at May 16, 2006 03:23 PM

No, that's fine. Your posts gave me the impression that you objected to Jewish nationalism while favoring Palestinain nationalism. If that is not the case, all fine and good.

I don't think the accusation of anti-Semitism is tiresome and ultimately devalues the term if the epithet is deserved, which it would be if my original understanding of your position was correct. However, since this is not the case, apparently, consider the acusation hereby withdrawn.

BTW, then, let me ask you: on general prinicple, if, let us say, Israel retreats completely to the '48 armistice lines (may that day never come) what should become of the Jews living in the "West Bank" now? Should they be allowed to stay as citizens of "Palestine", or should the "Palestinian" government have the right to expel them? And if you believe they should be expelled (as pretty much everyone seems to think the "Palestinians" would have a right to do), do the Israelis, then, have the right to expel their Arab citizens? And if not why not?

Posted by: Ephraim at May 16, 2006 03:39 PM

Islam/Islamism, whatever

Wow. So much obtuseness condensed into so few words.

Many in the Jihadi empire hate this savage medieval barbarism that is Islam, but are held hostage by this "religious" thuggery because too many in the West, like yourself, refuse to confront this meme/ideology/religion/whatever.

Oh. I see. I refuse to confront say, liberal Kurdish pro-American Muslims, so it's my fault Joe Schmoe Mohommad got his limbs hacked off by Salafists in Algeria.

By the way, is Egyptian Sandmonkey a "medieval barbarian" too? He is a Muslim, you know. And he's a personal friend of mine. And a pro-Bush neocon. Go figure! Somebody apparently forgot to tell him he was supposed to lop off my head instead of buying my drinks when I met him in Cairo.

Buddy, if you can't see any difference between Sandmonkey and Mullah Omar you need to go post somewhere else. Seriously. I am not going to argue with you about this anymore.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 16, 2006 04:30 PM

Jane is Wrong ...

Thank you. I could have been clearer in my original post - I can see why you misread it.

The massacre in Deir Yassin did not take place in the context of a Zionist "land grab". Five months earlier the Palestinian Arabs had launched an all out war against the Jews to stop the UN partition, and five Arab countries were about to invade and "throw the Jews into the sea".

Not surprisingly the Jews retaliated - they were fighting for their very existence.

Then the wealthy Palestinian Arab leadership, which had led the opposition to partition, TOTALLY abandoned their people and took themselves off to the safety of Cairo or Beirut. They didn't want to fight for their land - that's how much they cared about it. No wonder they'd been selling it via the back door to the Jewish agency. They didn't end up in refugee camps as their people did. It was disgusting.

The Jews lost one percent of their population defending themselves in that war against the invasions of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Colin Meade says : Why on earth shouldn't there be a Jewish State. No-one has to live there if they don't want to.

Never a truer word spoken! There was plenty of room for both sides of the equation in Palestinian and the Zionists, imo, had just claims to be allowed a nation state in the area.

But sadly human beings aren't rational and the Arab leadership sold their people down the river.

Posted by: Jane at May 16, 2006 05:24 PM

Ephraim,

I would think the 1967 line is a better starting point. To answer your hypothetical, in general, no country should have the right to expel its own citizens. If Jews wish to remain in a Palestinian state, as citizens of that state, then why not.

BTW why do you put apostrophes aroung the words Palestine and Palestinians.

Posted by: Riichard at May 16, 2006 05:55 PM

The 1967 lines are the '48 lines. Unless you mean the post-June 1967 lines, in which case Israel will have to re-occupy everything up to the Jordan River and re-take the Sinai. But I know you don't mean that.

I put "Palestinians" in quotes because there is no such thing as a distinct Palestinian people. The Arabs who call themselves "Palestinians" are in no way different in any ethnic, religious, or linguistic sense from other Arabs. As far as that goes, the present Kingdom of Jordan occupies the majority of the territory of the original Palestine Mandate, so for all practical purposes an Arab state in Palestine already exists.

I should point out in this connection that this is not a Zionist twisting of the facts. The PLO National Covenant itself (which has never been annulled or amended, in spite of post-Oslo PLO propaganda) defines Palestine as the territoty of the Mandate, and the PLO's behavior prior to Black September makes it obvious that they consider Jordan part of Palestine. There are also numerous statements by PLO leaders over the years stressing the unity of the "Palestinian" people on both sides of the Jordan River and the need to unite them into a single state.

As an Arab nationality, "Palestinian" is completely fictitious and is nothing more than a political dodge, designed to shift the focus of the world away from the real nature of the conflict, which is that of a pan-Arab war against Jewish independence in the ancient Jewish homeland, and try to turn it into a war of the Jews against a single small group of Arabs. It has thus been necessary to create the fiction of a pre-existing, distinctly "Palestinian" Arab nation that the Jews displaced. However, such a nation has never existed. There never was an independent Arab state in Palestine during all the centuries of Arab and Muslim domination of the land, and the people who lived there never developed a distinct national identity. The creation of a "Palestinian Arab" people is just another weapon to use against the Jews. And now, with Hamas, the pan-Arab and pan-Muslim nature of the opposition to Israel is even clearer.

Point taken on the status of Jews who might wish to stay on in a "Palestinian" state, however. I think you're dreaming that something like this could work, but at least you are more consistent than most people who advocate such a solution.

Posted by: Ephraim at May 16, 2006 06:44 PM

Ephraim,

Whether or not historically there was a distinct Palestinian people seems moot now as clearly such a people now exists. Deal with it.

Posted by: Richard at May 16, 2006 07:57 PM

Richard:

"The anti-semitism accusation becomes tiresome and ultimately devalues the term. Please reserve it for genuine cases."

The new political correctness: it's worse to call someone an antisemite than to actually be an antisemite. No, criticizing Israel does not automatically make you an antisemite but boy they sure hang around together a lot.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at May 16, 2006 10:10 PM

Richard:

"The anti-semitism accusation becomes tiresome and ultimately devalues the term. Please reserve it for genuine cases."

The new political correctness: it's worse to call someone an antisemite than to actually be an antisemite. No, criticism of Israel is not automatically antisemitic. But boy, do they hang around together a lot.

By the way Richard, the Saudis claim in their antisemitic (oops, sorry) propaganda that Jews use the blood of children in their religious rituals. Have you e-mailed them yet to say they should reserve this accusation for cases when people actually use the blood of children in their rituals?

Posted by: Gary Rosen at May 16, 2006 10:22 PM

Little different from MSM articles...just a little:)

Posted by: Adam at May 17, 2006 01:49 AM

Richard:

Deal with it? You've got it backwards. It's the "Palestinians" who have to deal with the fact that Israel exists. Throughout their entire history as an artificially created "people", the "Palestinians" have done nothing but close their eyes, put their hands in their ears and go "lalalalalalalalala, I can't hear you!", hoping that this incantation will make the Jews go away.

And they're still doing it. Every single political decision they have ever made has been to forward their "strategy" of destroying Israel one way or another. Oslo was no different; they just managed to fool a bunch of people desparate for a solution, any solution, that they had changed and accepted Israel's right to exist.

They have never done so, and the election of Hamas shows that they are just as delusional as they have always been.

Deal with it? You deal with it.

Posted by: Ephraim at May 17, 2006 09:19 AM

"It has nothing to do with Islam. Right."

All your previous lines say "Arabs, Arabs, Arabs ..."

I wonder if the attacks on Jewish settlers are more an Arab thing than an Islam thing. I suspect the attacks would have happened in much the same way if the Arabs had all been Christians.

Posted by: Don Cox at May 17, 2006 09:29 AM

Richard.

The Israelis have been dealing with the new reality of Palestinian nationalism ever since Rabin signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993/94.

The acceptance of Palestinian nationalism has now even reached the stage where the very architect of "Eretz Israel", Arik Sharon, withdrew all settlers from Gaza and formed a new centrist party in Israel to effect a further dismantlement of settlements from the West Bank.

From the Israeli side, the stage is being set for a Palestinian state in most of WB and Gaza with its capital in most of East Jerusalem. The only Red Lines for Israel now are its sovereignity over its Holy Sites in East J and the Right of Return only pertaining to the Palestinian State not Israel itself.

I've followed Israel/Palestine/Middle East for forty years and am prepared to say with confidence that a settlement based on the Clinton proposals at the end of 2000 is in (far) sight.

Ephraim. Just as Arik had to modify his views, so does Hamas, the PLO and other Palestinian leaders. This will not happen overnight. It may even be that Hamas rejectionism will provoke one more war before the Palestinian leadership accepts the reality of the Jewish state and agrees to get on with its own business in a final settlement along with the Clinton proposals.

The debate that's gone on between the two of you here is like a rerun of the 1970s. Perhaps both of you could be a bit more forward looking?

Posted by: Jane at May 18, 2006 01:13 AM

Your observations pretty much mirror mine during my first visit to Israel last year.

I, even I (a Zionist) had absorbed so much of the "apartheid" shit that I allowed myself to be surprised at the fact that there were Israeli Arabs staying in the same hotel as I in Eilath, going on the same pleasure boat trips (they were in a majority on one of these).

I found myself observing a mixed group of girls (!) entering a shopping mall - the Arab (clearly Muslim) girls were no more thoroughly or roughly security searched than the non Arab (presumably Jewish)ones.

I have spoken to people about this and the usual point made is that these are trivial examples but are they? When South African apartheid was being oppose didn't the campaigners aim to hit the country in the the "pleasure" spots (Sport etc)? No one said that discrimination in these areas was trivial - and interestingly Arabs do play for Israeli football teams. And if Israel really were a fundamentally racist apartheid style society wouldn't it be precisely in the "playgounds" of the "favoured" race that discrimination and sepaarateness would be most likely to occur. That was certainly not what I saw.

One further point. There are well known cases of countries forcing minorities into their Armies despite there being some antipathy between that minority and the "cause" they may be asked to fight for.

Two examples. During the first world war the Germans conscripted young Danish men from Schleswig, an area disputed between Denmark and Germany but then under German control. Apparently these Danish men were forced to fight in the front line.

More appositely in Israel's case is the precendent of the Tsarist armies that young Jewish men were conscripted into often for very long periods. This despite the appalling antisemitic policies of Tsarist Russia.

Anyone who can appreciate and empathise with the victim conscripts in these examples can surely not criticize Israel for not conscripting Israeli Arabs into its army.

Posted by: Mark at May 18, 2006 03:31 AM

Your observations pretty much mirror mine during my first visit to Israel last year.

I, even I (a Zionist) had absorbed so much of the "apartheid" shit that I allowed myself to be surprised at the fact that there were Israeli Arabs staying in the same hotel as I in Eilath, going on the same pleasure boat trips (they were in a majority on one of these).

I found myself observing a mixed group of girls (!) entering a shopping mall - the Arab (clearly Muslim) girls were no more thoroughly or roughly security searched than the non Arab (presumably Jewish)ones.

I have spoken to people about this and the usual point made is that these are trivial examples but are they? When South African apartheid was being oppose didn't the campaigners aim to hit the country in the the "pleasure" spots (Sport etc)? No one said that discrimination in these areas was trivial - and interestingly Arabs do play for Israeli football teams. And if Israel really were a fundamentally racist apartheid style society wouldn't it be precisely in the "playgounds" of the "favoured" race that discrimination and sepaarateness would be most likely to occur. That was certainly not what I saw.

One further point. There are well known cases of countries forcing minorities into their Armies despite there being some antipathy between that minority and the "cause" they may be asked to fight for.

Two examples. During the first world war the Germans conscripted young Danish men from Schleswig, an area disputed between Denmark and Germany but then under German control. Apparently these Danish men were forced to fight in the front line.

More appositely in Israel's case is the precendent of the Tsarist armies that young Jewish men were conscripted into often for very long periods. This despite the appalling antisemitic policies of Tsarist Russia.

Anyone who can appreciate and empathise with the victim conscripts in these examples can surely not criticize Israel for not conscripting Israeli Arabs into its army.

Posted by: Mark at May 18, 2006 03:32 AM

Lindsey,

So, Sean's middle name starts with B, eh? :)

Michael,

Cyprus isn't Europe, and there's no such thing as an Arab in the pan-Arabist definition. BTW, you're still a pan-Arabist, even if you have broken bread and encouraged revolution with Kurds and Maronites (remember Claude?).

Posted by: lebanon.profile at May 18, 2006 05:51 PM

Lebanon Profile:

there's no such thing as an Arab in the pan-Arabist definition

Ummmmm.....what? This sounds fascinating. Can you please explain what you mean?

Also, if you don't mind my asking, as a Lebanese, what is your view of the people who call themselves "Palestinains"? Not whether you like them or not, but: do you view them as a distinct and separate people among the Arabs? If so, how do they differ from other Arabs? Are their perceived difference actually ethnic, linguistic, historical and religious in nature or strictly a result of politics (as it seems to me)?

Also, while this may be obvious to a Lebanese, as an American, it has always seemed to me that Syria has never forgiven France for carving Lebanon out of the body of Syria and that Syria has never reconclied itself to the loss of Lebanon and still believes that it is part of Syria. Nothing else really explains their actions there, it seems to me.

I would appreciate it if you would either confirm this view or disabuse me of it if it is incorrect.

Thanks.

Posted by: Ephraim at May 18, 2006 07:21 PM

Mark,

Regarding conscription, your examples are incoherent - Schleswig and Tsarist Russia, really!

What we are discussing here is a modern democracy excluding some of its citizens from national military service based on their ethnicity.

If the concern is that those citizens would be uncomfortable taking up arms against other Arabs then the way to handle it would be to allow them to opt for alternative service or exemption as conscientious objectors. The choice would be theirs.

Posted by: Richard at May 18, 2006 07:23 PM

Lebanon.Profile: So, Sean's middle name starts with B, eh? :)

Very perceptive. Yes, his middle name is Brook.

Cyprus isn't Europe

And yet it is part of the European Union. So it all depends on how you define "Europe."

there's no such thing as an Arab in the pan-Arabist definition

I know.

BTW, you're still a pan-Arabist

Yeah, yeah, we can argue about this forever.

even if you have broken bread and encouraged revolution with Kurds and Maronites (remember Claude?).

Yo! I did not encourage revolution with Claude. That guy is a nut case.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 18, 2006 09:09 PM

Richard

I think it is you who are incoherent. It is precisely because those examples are non democratic that no democracy should follow their path.

Posted by: Mark at May 19, 2006 02:26 AM

Michael:

What is this business about there being no Arabs in the pan-Arab conception? Explain, please.

Does it just mean that Arabs in their myriad varieties are to be subsumed in some artifical Arab conception that ignores their differences?

Posted by: Ephraim at May 19, 2006 10:38 AM
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