August 30, 2006

Israelís Other Rocket War

SOUTHERN ISRAEL, NEAR GAZA – Israel’s other war-without-a-name in the summer of 2006 is eerily similar to the one in the north, the one that got all the attention, against Iran’s proxy militia Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon.

Palestinian terrorists kidnapped the young Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit just across the border from Gaza and ramped up their Qassam rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel.

Shika Frista and his friend Zvika took me to Kibbutz Alumim, where Zvika lives with his family, and showed me some of the rockets that landed in and around the community recently.

Zvika Kibbutz 3.jpg

Several Qassam rockets had been placed beneath a palm tree.

Qassam Next to Palm.jpg

Oddly, the Gaza rocket factory took the trouble to brand their weapons in English.

Qassam Shaft.jpg

Elsewhere exploded Qassam rockets and parts were used as garden art.

Zvika with Rocket Part.jpg

Qassam Rocket Piece.jpg

There is something slightly creepy about using Qassam rockets as garden art. But Qassams are a part of life in Southern Israel. And there’s something slightly defiant as well as creepy about integrating them into the landscape.

Turning a murderous instrument with your name on it into a community showpiece is a way of taking ownership of it, laughing at it even. Your rockets don’t scare us. They’re just garden art now. We’re still here. And you keep missing the target.

Zvika did seem to think the rocket parts were a little bit funny. He held them up for my camera with the same good cheer as a fisherman who just caught a seven pound bass.

Zvika with Rocket.jpg

Qassem Rocket Engine.jpg

I, too, picked up some of the rockets, thinking while doing so that thugs from Hamas or Islamic Jihad had handled them before I did, hoping against the odds that they could use them to kill a few Jews.

Holding Qassam Rocket.jpg

Qassam Body Exploded.jpg

Unlike Northern Israel during the Hezbollah war, Southern Israel has not been evacuated. Rockets flying out of Gaza are fewer and smaller than those that were shot out of Lebanon. Terrorism usually doesn’t work as well as its practitioners wish. So far the only thing terrorists in Gaza have accomplished is bringing about the return of the Israeli Defense Forces.

I saw a huge pile of busted up pavement next to one of the streets. “What’s that?” I said to Zvika.

Pile of Broken Pavement.jpg

“It is from a Qassam,” he said. “It landed right next to these houses and shattered the road.”

Where the Pavement Was.jpg

“The houses look okay,” I said. But I remembered the damage I saw from Katyusha attacks by Hezbollah in Kiryat Shmona. Most of the damage done to buildings is cosmetic and easily fixable even while Katyushas are extraordinarily dangerous to human beings.

“If the Qassam lands next to you,” Zvika said, “it will kill you. But it if lands ten meters away it won’t kill you. Qassams are lightweight. If they had more explosives and weighed more the rockets wouldn’t go very far. They would land on the Palestinians.” He laughed and made a diving gesture with his hand. “The rockets are made in Gaza. Islamic Jihad and Hamas are not technologically sophisticated like the Hezbollah.”

If Katyusha rockets are pipsqueakers compared with IAF missiles, Qassams are practically spit balls compared with Katyushas. Then again, a Qassam is huge compared with a bullet, and a great deal more dangerous. They have only killed a handful of people, even so. The biggest danger from the Palestinian rocket war against Israel isn’t the damage Hamas and Islamic Jihad are able to inflict today. It’s the damage they could inflict tomorrow if they find a way to equip themselves with more powerful missiles that could render Southern and even Central Israel uninhabitable.

Zvika pointed to the alarm system on top of the roof of a school.

Kibbutz Warning System on Roof.jpg

“You have twenty or thirty seconds after you hear that alarm to get to a shelter,” he said. “It scares the children every time it goes off.”

Bomb Shelter Entrance in Trees.jpg

“Do they ever fire rockets at night?” I said. Hezbollah hardly ever fired Katyusha rockets at night because they did not want to give away the positions of the launchers to the Israeli military.

“Oh yes,” he said. “All day, all night, all the time.”

*

Earlier we had coffee at an outdoor café just far enough away from Gaza that we couldn’t quite see it.

Outdoor Cafe Near Gaza.jpg

Zvika’s two children joined us.

Zvika Daughter.jpg

Zvika Son.jpg

They had accompanied us during our entire tour along the border with Gaza, which just goes to show how normal-seeming such places can be when you live near them. I doubt many tourists ever take their kids to that border.

A Qassam could have struck us at any moment, although the odds were low enough that I didn’t worry about it. I even tried to worry about it just so I would have an idea what it can feel like to live next to Gaza. After spending a day and a half under fire from Hezbollah, though, Qassams didn’t seem like that big a deal.

Just as we were sitting there drinking our coffee, Zvika received a text message on his cell phone telling us that an incoming rocket struck Kibbutz Kissufim.

“That happened just now?” I said.

“Just now,” Zvika said.

It was far enough away that we didn’t hear it.

I wanted to know what Zvika thought about Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza last year now that he has to live under rocket fire in part as a result. Was withdrawing the settlements and the army the right thing to do?

“Yes,” Zvika said. But he does not want to withdraw from the West Bank. “It is our land. They can have Gaza. But Hebron has always been ours. They have only been there for 200 years.”

The United States has barely existed for more than 200 years. No one thinks non-native Americans should have to pack up and go back to Europe or wherever else their families came from. At some point the statute of limitations has to run out on these things. George Santayana famously said those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. P.J. O’Rourke went further and said it goes double for those who can’t remember anything else.

“Do you just want to sit on top of Palestinians forever?” I said to Zvika.

He shrugged.

“What is the solution to this problem?” Shika asked Zvika. Zvika had no answer, not even a bad one.

“What is the solution?” Shika said again. “What do you think is the solution?”

Zvika didn’t say anything.

“You want to keep the West Bank but give them Gaza?” I said.

“We gave them Gaza,” Zvika said, “and Lebanon. But Hamas and Hezbollah still want to kill us. Why? What did we do to Lebanon? Nothing. And they want to kill us!”

“The West Bank is different from Lebanon, though,” I said.

“Yes,” Zvika said. “It is our land.”

Zvika is in the minority. Shika calls him a “fanatic,” even though they are friends. The Israeli center as the well as the left wants out of the West Bank as well as out of Gaza. Ehud Olmert was elected in part on that platform.

There’s an old formula that has been floating around for a while.

1. Greater Israel
2. Democracy
3. Jewish Majority

Pick two.

Zvika and the rest of Israelis to the right of the mainstream still think, somehow, they will find a way to hold onto all three.

It didn’t matter what I said to Zvika. He just kept saying “It is our land,” as if that settled everything and there was nothing left to be said.

*

Shika and I left Zvika at Kibbutz Alumim and continued by ourselves in his truck to Kelem Shalom, where Israel, Gaza, and Egypt converge.

End of Israel.jpg

This is where the young Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped on June 25, triggering Operation Summer Rain that continues in Gaza today, almost entirely beyond any media coverage.

Tower Near Kidnapping.jpg

Shalit was inside a tank near the tower pictured above. Eight terrorists emerged from an underground tunnel 700 meters long that began in a building in Gaza and ended as a hard-to-see hole in the middle of an Israeli field. They fired an RPG at the tank and killed two soldiers. Gilad Shalit emerged from the tank. The terrorists snatched him off the tank and stole him to Gaza. The whole operation took seven minutes.

Tunnels are appearing all over the place. Tunnels from Gaza into Egypt for smuggling weapons. Tunnels from Gaza into Israel for carrying out terrorist actions.

The Egyptian border patrol (pictured below) does shut down some of the smugglers’ tunnels, even though it is not their top priority.

Egyptian Border Post.jpg

Tunnels are a top priority for Israel, though, along the border with Egypt as well as underneath their own territory.

Tank at Egyptian Border.jpg

Those tunnels get people killed. They keep finding new ones beneath the houses.

Entering Israel.jpg

Post-script: Please hit the Pay Pal link and help pay travel expenses for independent writing. I am not a rich person, and I can’t do this without help.

If you would like to donate money for travel expenses and you don't want to use Pay Pal, you can send a check or money order to:

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All photos copyright Michael J. Totten

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 30, 2006 02:15 PM

Comments

Interesting to read the oddly vacant rethoric of an Israeli right-winger. I sincerely hope people like him are indeed in the minority, because that view of the world is part of the problem in the Middle East. I know most Israelis like to think the Arabs are the problem. But Israelis need to also address their own existential dilemmas internally, if we are to find some sort of solution somewhere down the line.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 30, 2006 02:39 PM

Are all the rockets as rusted as these look? Could they really have flown recently in the condition they all look to be in?

Posted by: Alan Goldstein at August 30, 2006 04:11 PM

Iron supposedly rusts when it burns.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 30, 2006 04:21 PM

Great post, I love the garden art!
-L

Posted by: Lindsey at August 30, 2006 04:27 PM

bad vilbel;
I know most Israelis like to think the Arabs are the problem.

How do you know that?
Keep on demonising those pesky zionists bad vilbel. Your kind of view of the world is part of the problem.

Posted by: Jono at August 30, 2006 05:00 PM

Arab Muslim Fanatics are the problem. For almost 60 years they have tried to exterminate the State of Israel. Now a subset of the same Arab Muslim Fanatics (i.e. Terrorists) are trying to impose their world view on the rest of us, or to kill us.

I hear lots of talk, and read many articles and opinions, yet the Arab Muslim Fanatics continue their quest.

It may not be the "best" answer, but I suspect that if we kill every Arab Muslim Fanatic we can find, the problem will eventually be resolved. I would prefer we start with the leaders.

Clearly, demonstrably and consistently the Arabic Muslim world is not capable of policing their own; their leaders do not even speak out (with very rare exceptions) against the terrorists.

Am I scared of the Arab Muslim Fanatics getting WMD's? You bet I am, and I find it difficult to understand how anyone cannot know that the clock is ticking.

Ron

Posted by: Ron Snyder at August 30, 2006 05:00 PM

Your rightwing nutcase is as delusional when it comes to the Palestinians as Hezbollah is when it comes to the Israelis. What your "friend" did not state, because he knew his audience, is what he is really thinking: his solution to attaining "all 3" in the formula is ethnic cleansing (politely known as "transfer" in Israeli circles). Sadly, its not an uncommon (though unspoken) sentiment among Israelis. The only difference between them and the Hezbollah types is that, when it comes to the West and Westerners, one party is media savy, and one party is media stupid. And the price of all this, together with our inability to see through this, is paid by innocent Palestinian and Lebanese children via American produced bombs. Oh, and btw, the analogy to Americans was incorrectly reversed...the Palestinians are the natives, and the Russians came to Israel post 1989. But that fact doesn't fit the Israeli narrative on which successive Israeli governments would, if they had their way, bomb the hell out of the Middle East to force acceptance of.

Posted by: NKLondon at August 30, 2006 05:01 PM

Jono,

If you bothered to read most of my comments, you'd see that I don't demonize "those pesky zionists". I do, however, recognize an extremist, when i see one, whether it's an Iranian like Ahmadinjad, a Hezbollahi, or an Israeli right winger.

Ron,

You say: "It may not be the "best" answer, but I suspect that if we kill every Arab Muslim Fanatic we can find, the problem will eventually be resolved. I would prefer we start with the leaders."

Please list an example of where this approach has succeeded in the history of the civilized world.
You sound very much like the Hezbollah guys who think that if they kill every jew on the planet, the problem will go away.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 30, 2006 05:27 PM

oh this is gonna be a strange night-thread.

Posted by: ortho at August 30, 2006 06:11 PM

NKLondon -- Jews lived in parts of the West Bank more or less continuously over the centuries; the Pals were nomadic and settled in about 200 years ago or less.

Michael -- what IS the statute of limitations? 1967? When Israel was the first and ONLY nation told (retroactively) it had to give up territory it gained by military victory? Or maybe the statute of limitations runs back to 1948? Wait -- Does that mean China has to quit Tibet?

Or is it back to the 1920's? Does that mean the Kurds get their promised homeland, and the Hijaz and the Shia regions of Saudi Arabia get their land back? The last US forcible territorial acquisitions were only about 120 years ago.

Look - some Settlements in the WB were bought and paid for by Jews in the 1920's and were recognized that way on Jordanian maps when it held the area. Jews had lived in some WB cities in significant numbers as long as the Arabs had, until killed or forced out in 1948 or later.

Jews returned in numbers to greater Israel in the mid 1800's, btw, from northern African countries -- originally into Gaza. The Jews who believe they have as good a claim to the WB as the Arabs are not without some legitimate points -- they are not all right-wing madmen, although they are nevertheless a minority point of view. Their claims will be sacrificed for peace -- IF peace can be gained. Right now that's far from clear.

The majority of Arab people might be happy just with Gaza and the WB, but Arab leadership has shown they are not. To think about just leaving the WB unilaterally -- after the Qassams from Gaza, Katyusha from Lebanon, and open threats by militants to attack Ben Gurion airport with RPG once Israel leaves the WB -- would be insane.

Me? I'd give up the West Bank in a blink, but never give up the Golan -- which also had long-standing Jewish settlements over the centuries, up to fairly recently. But I don't live there.

Posted by: Pam at August 30, 2006 06:17 PM

We have to worrry about human future when educated westreners like the writer engage in extreme ethnocenrism/tribalism. Not a word about fellow humans killed in Gaza. I believe count is 200 in last month.

Posted by: sergio munoz at August 30, 2006 06:23 PM

Michael, probe a little further at this Gaza vs. West Bank thing. I think you'll find that many if not most Israelis actually see these places very differently... The emotional connection, size of the communities, and geographical features of the West Bank make it a different ball game. It's not a given that "the center" wants out of the West Bank and would be false to say that the majority want to pull out in the way that they pulled out of Gaza. It's far more complicated than that. And it's in these complications that I think you'll find some good stories to tell.

People have different ideas as to what kinds of withdrawals to make, if any, and public opinion polls since going through the internally traumatic Gaza withdrawal and then watching the Palestinians turn it into Mogadishu, and even more so since this Lebanon incident, show opinions hardening against unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank. The fact that the only place that has been even remotely quiet and not causing trouble in recent months is the West Bank isn't lost on people.

Please dig deeper.

Posted by: Josh at August 30, 2006 06:35 PM

Josh,

I promise you, the center in Israel wants out of the WB.

But now, Hizbollah and Hamas has given the hard right in Israel an excuse to shoot the bird.

Me, I would get the hell out of the WB, add another 10 meters in height and width to the wall and give the Palestinians one chance.

One suicide bomb, Kassem or as much a pebble, I would over run the WB.

Posted by: AG in Houston at August 30, 2006 06:52 PM

Pam- Some of the so-called Arab leadership you deride were actually born in what is now Israel. (Mahmoud Abbas as a case in point.) Beyond their hometowns, how much more should they give up to satisfy someone else's lust for land?

Posted by: Alan Goldstein at August 30, 2006 07:06 PM

Pam, you'd "give up the West Bank in a blink" when in the sentence just before you state that the "militants" may attack Ben Gurion with RPGs. Ben Gurion is 6 km away from the 1967 border. How far did the Katyushas from Lebanon land again?

Sergio Munoz, I'm sure MJT would like to be more fair and balanced and with his knowledge of Arabic try to gain an understanding of what the average Gazan is going through, but I'm not sure he wants to get kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam by gunpoint.

bad vilbel, similar to understanding that the Southern Lebanese Shi'ite would become more pro-Hez'bollah with Israeli ordinance falling on them, I'm sure you can understand that "extremists" like Tzvika would become more right wing after having Kassams launched at them on a daily basis. And he's hardly extreme; extremists in Israel are the orange-ribbon wearers who said NO to Gaza withdrawal outright (the Religious Zionists), many of whom had to be forceably removed from their homes in 2005. Tzvika, a secular Zionist, states that he was FOR Gaza withdrawal. While that sounds nuanced, that distinction is a major difference among the Israeli polity.

Posted by: jjdynomite at August 30, 2006 07:10 PM

Pam,
Sorry, but the 200 year thing is nonsense...while I'm sure it fits the Israeli narrative of "land without a people for people without a land" and Golda's "there never was such a thing as the palestinian people", why dont you go interview every second person in the WB and have them trace back their ancestry...or is it that only jews tell the truth while all arabs are liars?

As for the rest of the comments here which presume, falsely, that Jews (including the remarkably blond pale-faced nordic variety so native to the swarthy middle east who arrived from Russia post berlin wall) have seniority to the WB by divine right, why not put the Israeli "we're the only democracy rhetoric" to practice: annex the WB, and give all Palestinians full citizenship and right to vote. Anything else, combined with a claim to hold the WB, is apartheid...either that, or at least come clean with what you really think: TRANSFER (aka ethnic cleansing)...clearly neither of these truths neatly fit the Israeli "we're such innocent good democratic land-renouncers" narrative. Of course, there's always the "solution" of Ron...kill all the scum Arabs and be done with it.

Saw this today on Haaretz...author may be a self-hating Israeli, but its very telling:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/756413.html

Posted by: NKLondon at August 30, 2006 07:14 PM

NKLondon, spoking like a true European who has never experienced an existential threat in your lifetime, like Israelis seemingly have to every 10 or so years.

To quote the Amira Hass article from the link you posted: "We are not in danger of our lives, we will not be jailed in concentration camps, our livelihood will not be damaged and recreation in the countryside or abroad will not be denied to us." Tell that to the 44 civilians killed in Israel proper by Katyusha rockets during July and August of this year. Or was that an example of an occupying people getting their just desserts.

So why don't you mosey off back to (NK)London where Jews couldn't live without fear of inquisition, forced conversion, exile and death for a good 1500 years. Remember, modern Israel as a Jewish State wouldn't have come to fruition if people who think ***exactly like you*** hadn't slaughtered 6,000,000 of the often "blonde, pale-faced nordic variety" in the early 40s. But now that those pushy Jews have had a state for but 58 years, oh, the apartheid!

Posted by: jjdynomite at August 30, 2006 08:03 PM

Quote: "A Qassam could have struck us at any moment, although the odds were low enough that I didn’t worry about it. I even tried to worry about it just so I would have an idea what it can feel like to live next to Gaza."

This is what I like about this blog, Mike, you bring in a personalization to the events in the news. I like your fresh expressions.

Btw, I linked to you from Happy Catholic's blogroll.

Posted by: Tim at August 30, 2006 08:06 PM

The problem here, in my humble opinion, is that we choose to get bogged down in questions of morality (be it divine right, statute of limitations, or other such rethoric). And I'm talking about both the arab and the israeli sides here. Across the board.

What we should be looking at is more realism and pragmatism. At some point, down the line, these 2 sets of people are going to have to learn to co-exist. And that is not going to be possible as long as both sides continue to discuss who has the RIGHT to what, based on the past.

I realize it's a hard view for a lot of people to grasp, or reconcile with what they've grown up with. But the past has, in many ways, been the main hurdle in constructing the future.

Let me give a very basic, overly simplistic, and perhaps dumb, example: I happen to live in the US. Tomorrow, I could choose to buy a house in, let's say San Diego. I don't have to worry about whether that area was originally founded by Spanish Fransiscan monks, or that it was inhabited by a tribe of nomadic native-americans. If we started to worry about the fact that this land was taken from the native-americans years ago by the Spaniards, and then taken from the Spaniards by the British, and so on, everybody and their sister would have a claim of some sort. And if all these groups decided to get armed and start fighting for said land, there would never be a solution. By the very essence of this conflict, it does not HAVE a solution.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 30, 2006 08:21 PM

JJ,
My my, I hit a raw nerve. You are highly presumptuous and self-righteous..though thats hardly a characteristic unknown among Israelis and their supporters...I'm actually AMERICAN but happen to live in London...Italian by background, and much swarthyer than your average russian who suddenly calls Israel home (while the native palestinians their bretheren kicked out in 1948 in an ethnic cleansing that long predated Bosnia sit in refugee camps in totalitarian states like syria). But as for your slight of the British, were it not for their legitimization of the zionist project via the Balfour Declaration, there would likely be no Israeli state today. And the existential threat your reference, that implicitly justifies killing 1000 innocent Lebanese (majority children), again is based on the premise that, somehow, sovereignty-by-divine-right (a precept unknown to any other polity except the Saudi's) superscedes denial of Palestinians their due rights...a religious fundamentalism of its own in essence, but thats neither here nor there. Hey, you deprive a people of their homeland, ethnically cleanse them, use the great powers in a duplicitous manner to achieve your objectives, humiliate them, deny their existence, deprive them of water, confiscate their land, cut down their olive trees, restrict their movements like rats in a cage even when they need to get to a hospital for a medical emergency, and your wonder why the threat is existential. And then you use that existential threat to, implictly, justify holding control over a people without either giving them citizenship like a true democracy, nor releasing them free, and further using cover of lacking a "true peace partner", while undercutting moderates like Abbas at every chance to embolden the radicals, thereby causing the rockets that further underscore the existential threat, which then justifies the slaughter of Lebanese in a "just war". Wow, Simply wow.

Posted by: NKLondon at August 30, 2006 08:27 PM

NKLondon, while trying to sort through the many strawmen you build up and knock down, one thing leaps out: who the hell are these "Nordic" Russians you are so obsessed with? Hitler pretty well established that there are no Nordic Jews. Did you really mean Jews of the pale-faced SLAVIC variety? Or are you simply repeating a confused pamphlet from the Finsbury Park mosque that comprises your education on the Middle East?

Posted by: Brutus at August 30, 2006 08:29 PM

Palestinian terrorists kidnapped the young
Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit just across the
border from Gaza

OK Michael, they are terrorists for "kidnapping" a soldier. Can you accuse israelis of terrorism for kidnapping CHILDREN?

Posted by: AR at August 30, 2006 08:36 PM

JJ,
One more thing...you've just proven the Palestinians point...the Palestinians are the fall guy for Europe's crimes in the holocaust. You could at least be a little more honestly direct about that and say that if the Palestinians pay the price for Europe's crimes in the holocaust, so be it. But spare me the narrative of the innocent beleagered state of democractic israel which gives up [other people's] land and looks for peace partners. The spin versus reality is disgusting.

Posted by: NKLondon at August 30, 2006 08:39 PM

Between the total lack of self-awareness exhibited by this:

"You are highly presumptous and self-rightous"

and the obsession with swarthiness, Nordic-ness, and pigmentation generally, and the reference to Israel's ability to "manipulate" the world's great powers, it's pretty clear that Mr. NKLondon is not someone susceptible to reason or able to break the constraints of his preconceptions. So be it. But let's hope his swarthiness doesn't get him mistaken for a Jew in the wrong part of London.

Posted by: Brutus at August 30, 2006 08:57 PM

Brutus,
The pigmentation underscores a point... but if you are one of those fundamentalists who believe God gave Israel to the Jews and thus after 2000 years, without any precedence in history, boundaries can be redrawn on the basis of 2000 year old land claims underpinned by a religious precept, you will never understand the point I was trying to make, no matter how dramatic the I make the visual. As for being a Jew in London, you'll never know the humiliation of being a "dirty arab" in an israeli airport security line or a "cockroach" (to use Yitzhak Rabin's words) in the west bank.

Posted by: NKLondon at August 30, 2006 09:05 PM

Brutus,
The pigmentation underscores a point... but if you are one of those fundamentalists who believe God gave Israel to the Jews and thus after 2000 years, without any precedence in history, boundaries can be redrawn on the basis of 2000 year old land claims underpinned by a religious precept, you will never understand the point I was trying to make, no matter how dramatic the I make the visual. As for being a Jew in London, you'll never know the humiliation of being a "dirty arab" in an israeli airport security line or a "cockroach" (to use Yitzhak Rabin's words) in the west bank.

Posted by: NKLondon at August 30, 2006 09:07 PM

“If the Qassam lands next to you,” Zvika said, “it will kill you. But it if lands ten meters away it won’t kill you.

Depends how lucky you are. A friend of mine was about 50 meters from one, and was hit by shrapnel. He's okay - he was hit in the leg - but it could have been a lot worse.

Posted by: Yafawi at August 30, 2006 10:12 PM

NKLondon writes: The spin versus reality is disgusting.

The Jihadis lost their "rights" in the same manner they gained them, through war. But my question to you is, how much space do Jihadis need to roam free?

http://www.uwec.edu/kaldjian/ncgeIslam/maps/muslim_distribution%20small.jpg

Posted by: redaktor at August 30, 2006 10:17 PM

“What is the solution to this problem?” Shika asked Zvika. Zvika had no answer, not even a bad one.

90% of Israelis live within 15 miles of the West Bank, including all of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Given what happened in Gaza and Lebanon, what is your solution to this problem?

I don't see any short-term solution. Long term, who knows what can happen?

BTW great post. As usual.

Posted by: Yafawi at August 30, 2006 10:18 PM

Redaktor,
If you're confusing "Jihadis" with the Palestinian national movement, then your spin at justifying Israel's control of stolen land isn't quite up to Israeli propaganda standard. The Palestine national movement at its core was national and secular. Indeed, some of the most prominent Palestinian nationalists were/are Christian (even the terrorist ones like the founders of the DFLP and PFLP). But of course, the subsequent hijacking of the Palestinian national movement by Islamic fundamentalists everywhere serves the Israeli narrative quite nicely...particularly when the hollow ring of "a land without a people for a people without a land" began to show the Israelis for what they really are.

As for the solutions, here they are: which do the Israelis want to choose:

(1) annex west bank and gaza and give citizenship to all people in those territories (my vote, since it will exposure the Israel democracy narrative for the myth it really is)

(2) hold on the west bank and subjugate palestinians, and keep gaza as a prison (the vaunted "gaza unilateral withrawal" was nothing more than a repositioning of the prison guards from inside the prison to outside the prison gates)...this is called apartheid (i know, offensive to say that when it comes to the holocaust victims, but being a victim doesn't give licence to victimize)

(3) unilateral withdrawal...perpetual civil war

(4) the hard work option: help to build rather than serially undercut and destroy palestinian institutions, stop the serial daily humiliations of people that has been the vanguard of israeli occupation for too many decades, stop trying to steal water rights, stop building settlements, and then suck it up, and conclude a true negotiation rather than an imposed surrender on Israeli terms under the facade of a camp david media show. Egypt and Jordan kept their borders quiet when they signed a deal...i know, there is no "warm peace" of exchanging choclate chip cookies and baklava around a camp fire for sky and fox news to film, but Israelis on those borders have what they want.

The only moral choices are 1 and 4. Number 2 is naive and foolish, unless used as a sly attempt to re-occupy and then perpetually hold the WB in a more "spin" friendly framework, in which case, would be consistent with Israel's true colors.

Number 2 can only be sustained on the basis that Jewish right is super senior to Palestinian rights,which is called raciscm.

Oh, and there is number 5, which is no doubt the unspoken real wish of the silent majority: Transfer (aka ethnic cleansing). But the Palestinians have not been sufficiently demonized yet by the Israeli machine to make that a media neutral event...but its probably coming.

Posted by: NKLondon at August 30, 2006 10:46 PM

Oh...and there's an alternative Number 6: kill all the palestinians and be done with it (Ron's "solution" above...)...deem every palestinian to be a jihadi or fundamentalist, and given that labels in today's soundbite world stick, that would be sufficient, per Ron's prescription, to annilate them all, thereby solving "Israel's" problem (and for good spin, spare the Palestinan Christians, because that will play well to the evangelicals in the U.S.)

Posted by: NKLondon at August 30, 2006 10:55 PM

Typing too fast...meant Number 3 (and not number 2) above is naive and foolish....

Posted by: NKLondon at August 30, 2006 11:00 PM

Bad Vilbel, I like the way you constructed the rational, pragmatic way out of the ME nightmare. But just looking at the comments before and after your lucidity one becomes quite aware of how infused the human brain is with obstinate 'beliefs' that harshly refute and decry the rational and pragmatic.

I have followed your commenting closely of late, and find much to laud in your down to earth solutions. I would add only one thing to what you wrote. And that is that what makes living in the US and much of the western world a lot saner and safer is that the rule of law is embedded so strongly. Not perfectly, but strongly.

And coincidentally, I live in San Diego. I'd gladly welcome you as a neighbor.

Posted by: allan at August 30, 2006 11:04 PM

Allan,

Thank you for the kind compliment. Unfortunately, i do not have a SOLUTION. I have observations, collected over a lifetime spent both in Lebanon and the US. But certainly no solution as of yet. I wish I did.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 30, 2006 11:09 PM

Lebanese and Israeli's:

How long would it take for a damaged car to rust? Does the climate in your region cause crazy amounts of rust?

Posted by: mike at August 30, 2006 11:18 PM

We have to worrry about human future when educated westreners like the writer engage in extreme ethnocenrism/tribalism.

Oh sod off. I'm not Jewish, and I'm not done writing about Gaza yet.

I also don't get to go in Gaza right now, and I'm writing about what I see and hear.

Ethonecentrism/tribalism? Fuck you.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 30, 2006 11:21 PM

AR: OK Michael, they are terrorists for "kidnapping" a soldier.

The same people blow up busses and restaurants. So, yes, they are terrorists. If they strictly targeted only soldiers I would call them guerillas.

But you can't be a terrorist on Monday and get to be called a "guerilla" on Tuesday. Not by me, you can't.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 30, 2006 11:23 PM

Michael,

Don't let the trolls get to you.

Mike (the one asking about rust):

My memories of Beirut...Cars fall apart from rust within a few years, if that tells you anything.
The salt from the mediteranean air and the high amounts of humidity, i believe.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 30, 2006 11:44 PM

Kassams can do horrible damage.

I was covering a PR opp in the former jewish settlement in Gush Katif last year when kassams started raining down. I hooked up with another journo and we went looking for them. Suddenly an ambulance sped by and we followed. Arriving at the scene we found two dead Palestinians and a dead Chinese.

Blood and body parts littered the area. There was another badly wounded Palestinian. His legs were mush and he was in shock. Died later that evening in an Israeli hospital.

It was my first, and hopefully last, pigua (terror attack). But, living in Tel Aviv as I do I doubt it.

Posted by: Russel at August 31, 2006 12:25 AM

About rust: Bought a new bike last month and already the rust is starting to build up. No rain here in Tel Aviv, just very humid.

Posted by: Russel at August 31, 2006 12:33 AM

Poor Israel. I just had no idea Michael. Thank you for your objective reporting and making it clear how dangerous it is for Israeli civilians. One of these days you might actually travel to the West Bank or Gaza and see how the Palestinian civilians have been treated. Of course, the IOF will try to scare you to prevent you from doing so, and if you go anyways, you may become a target (not from the Palestinians who would love to tell you about their wonderful life, but by the IOF since they know any journalist who goes to the territories despite their warnings must be be up to no good).

Every story or conflict has 2 sides. The Israeli side has been heard quite well in the US MSM, so you are adding nothing except pretty pictures. The Israeli media is more objective than this.

To be fair, I recognize that any aspiring journalist in the US has to conform to the MSM view. Some say this is due to AIPAC influence.
An interesting article on this subject at the link below:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/mear01_.html

Posted by: Paul Todd at August 31, 2006 01:01 AM

Get over yourself, Paul. I have been to the West Bank already and I tried (and failed through no fault of my own) to get into Gaza.

AIPAC does not contribute to or bully this blog in any way.

Sorry if writing about rocket attacks looks like part of a conspiracy to you. I suppose when I interviewed Peace Now last week that was part of the same conspiracy. Right?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 31, 2006 01:12 AM

MJT - I don't always agree with you but your a pretty cool guy. Stay safe.

Craig
Chico, Ca.

Posted by: Craig at August 31, 2006 01:34 AM

Michael, I have not read everything you have written (I will find it and do so). I know AIPAC does not apply pressure directly to MSM journalists, nor bloggers, and it is pretty much self censorhip at this time. Corporate sponsors and corporate owners of MSM outlets generate the pressure indirectly. But at this point it is more the carrot than the stick.

While I have not went to Israel myself, my sister visited the West Bank 2 years ago with her husband. His family came from Jerusalem and moved to Jordan where he grew up and still has some family in the West Bank, so of course he is Palestinian. From her accounts, and his, (he is not objective), things are pretty brutal and the checkpoints are something else just going from one section of the West Bank to the other (not just into Israel which you would expect).

I realize the suicide bombing had to be stopped, but it seems collective punishment of the civilian population to accomplish this is not right. Of course, the argument then goes, but it is the civilians who harbour the terrorists and who are the suicide bombers whose family is paid by the terrorists. Of course this is a Catch 22 situation, make people so miserable and hopeless they will blow themselves up to kill a few Israelis, and then use this as justification to make them more hopeless and miserable. Never ends.

Posted by: Paul Todd at August 31, 2006 01:51 AM

Paul, has it ever occured to you that most Americans are naturally repulsed by terrorists? That they need no pressure from the "Jewish lobby" in order to come to this conclusion all on their own?

Look. I'll bet you 10 to 1 odds that I have more sympathy for the Palestinian narrative that two thirds of Americans. I'm not saying I'm better than that two thirds, just that I have studied the history more than they have and can more easily get beyond the Palestinian=terrorist cartoon.

But I am just as opposed to Palestinian terrorism as that two thirds. You should be able to understand this since you yourself are aware that most Palestinians are not actually terrorists, and that the idea that "pro-Palestinian must equal pro-terrorist" is retarded.

Anyway, as far as AIPAC bullying the so-called "MSM" goes, I saw the local New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem a few days ago. He was more obnoxiously anti-Israel than the Palestinian journalist who shared the stage with him. The Palestinian guy was pretty reasonable and likeable, actually, but the American NYT chief was insufferably arrogant, elitist, and condescending. I would absolutely hate working for him. And I assure you it's not because he's part of some AIPIAC plot or the victim of one.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 31, 2006 02:19 AM

Also, Paul, the reason I am not writing about what's going on inside Gaza right now is because I don't know what's going on inside Gaza right now.

Israel is killing Palestinians! Well, yes. But the who, how, and (precisely) why are a bit murky.

I could scream Israel is killing Palestinians! But I would have zero credibility among people who want to figure out what's actually happening, and only earn credibility among people who want to beat up on Israel whatever the circumstances. That is not my interest, and it is not my job.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 31, 2006 02:27 AM

I just read your Peace Now article. It is a good article, you present the other side of the debate in Israel fairly. I wish I read it before posting on this article, as I would have tempered my comments a bit.

But you do not often see articles like your Peace Now article in the US MSM (some blogs -yes). So there is no question of the bias by the MSM there. AIPAC has some help from the Christian Right in their efforts, but it may be that it is partly due to Americans wish to see the world as Good vs Evil, Black vs White. After all, we like and identify with Israelis more than the Arabs, so the US MSM tell us what we want to hear, and it resonates well with the War on Terror story, so everyone is happy.

Posted by: Paul Todd at August 31, 2006 02:43 AM

It may not be the "best" answer, but I suspect that if we kill every Arab Muslim Fanatic we can find, the problem will eventually be resolved. I would prefer we start with the leaders.
-Ron

Please list an example of where this approach has succeeded in the history of the civilized world.
You sound very much like the Hezbollah guys who think that if they kill every jew on the planet, the problem will go away.

-BV

Two things, BV-

1) there are no examples of that approach working 'in the history of the civilized world' because people who do that kind of thing are generally not considered 'civilized'. However, it is effective. The problem is that it involves killing a lot of people, which is very unfashionable these days.

2) the Hizbullah guys are correct- if there were no Israelis, there would not be a problem with the Israelis*. The problem, from their POV, is that killing Israelis is a lot more difficult than they would like.

Ron is also correct. If there were no muslim militants, there would not be a problem** and Americans could go back to ignoring the middle east and wondering when the cops will find the person who killed JonBenet Ramsey.***

What we should be looking at is more realism and pragmatism. At some point, down the line, these 2 sets of people are going to have to learn to co-exist. And that is not going to be possible as long as both sides continue to discuss who has the RIGHT to what, based on the past.

The realistic and pragmatic view is that the Israelis have a certain amount of territory and the people who want to take it from them are not strong enough to do so.

The Israelis are willing to co-exist- if they weren't, there would be almost no palestinians, and much less Egyptians, Jordanians, and Syrians. The intransigence is almost entirely attributable to a bunch of assholes who refuse to admit that they have been defeated.

Traditionally, when someone refuses to admit they've gotten their ass kicked, what you do is keep kicking their asses until they admit it. Eventually, they will either come to their senses, or get buried.

Apparently the Israelis are too civilized to do that.

Let me give a very basic, overly simplistic, and perhaps dumb, example: I happen to live in the US. Tomorrow, I could choose to buy a house in, let's say San Diego. I don't have to worry about whether that area was originally founded by Spanish Fransiscan monks, or that it was inhabited by a tribe of nomadic native-americans. If we started to worry about the fact that this land was taken from the native-americans years ago by the Spaniards, and then taken from the Spaniards by the British, and so on, everybody and their sister would have a claim of some sort.

Do you know why you can buy a house in San Diego with a clear title?

It's not complicated.

The Mexican government knows which side lost the Mexican-American war.

The Mexican government knows if it tried to re-negotiate the terms of the treaty that ended that war, it would be defeated.

They have grounds to object. The version of the treaty that Mexico signed included an article that said that the US would respect Mexican land grants. The version the US Senate ratified didn't.

You can probably guess which version is considered authoritative, and why.

And if all these groups decided to get armed and start fighting for said land, there would never be a solution. By the very essence of this conflict, it does not HAVE a solution.

...the Mexican government also knows that if a bunch of assholes started launching rockets into San Diego from Mexican territory, the Mexican government would be held accountable, and that if the Mexican government was unable to stop those assholes from launching rockets into San Diego, the border would be moved south until the people launching rockets could no longer hit targets in San Diego.

The reason there has been ~160 years of peace between Mexico and the US has nothing at all to do with Mexicans liking Americans or vice-versa. People who think that co-existence between the Israelis and the Palestinians should (or even can) be based on friendship are naive.

That is not how these things work.

You don't have to like someone to leave peacefully next to them. You just have to understand that fighting with them will cause a lot more problems than it will solve.

A lot of people in the middle east don't seem to understand that. I don't know why.

*considering arab history, I'm sure there would be plenty of other disputes, of course. Arabs don't even seem to get along with other arabs very well.

**of course, in the US's case, we would just be dealing with different problems.

***...and to all the people who wish Americans paid more attention to the rest of the planet, I say "Be careful what you wish for, you might get it".

Posted by: rosignol at August 31, 2006 02:46 AM

I realize the suicide bombing had to be stopped, but it seems collective punishment of the civilian population to accomplish this is not right.

Hey, Paul, if you've got a better way to keep suicide bombers from killing people, I'd love to hear it.

The Israelis aren't manning checkpoints in Gaza because they want to. They're doing it because they don't want suicide bombers (or anyone else) to kill Israelis.

As you say, there's more than one side to it.

Posted by: rosignol at August 31, 2006 02:51 AM

Bad Vilbel, great comments! -- but in order to move forward, there must be some reconciliation with the past.

And withdrawal from the West Bank is ambiguous, to the new Wall? to the '67 border? (I sure wish Israel had built the Wall on the '67 border -- perhaps a $10 000 000 / square km territory compensation could be made to reach agreement?)

Whose land is it? -- the reason for most historical wars. Peace/ surrender means giving up claims on the land.

The creation of Israel in 1948 was not completely just (but read their declaration), after the UN accepted a Jewish state in 1947. This declaration ended the not-just rule of the British, who had previously ended the not-just rule of the Ottoman Turks.

There's nobody alive in the world who remembers a "just status" for the lands of Israel and Palestine. No "Palestinian refugee" was born in any recognized country of Palestine -- they were born in some occupied territory.

Or, after 1948, most were born in perverse and inhumane refugee camps, like the one in Lebanon that the Leb people are rightfully so ashamed of, and it is the Lebanese who keep the Palestinians born there in a cage, rather than accepting them like the Bavarian Germans accepted the 3 million Czecho-Slovak Germans who were ethnically cleaned after WW II.

The refugee problem is an inhumane Arab problem, with their willingness to treat human beings as political pawns, as sticks to use in beating Israel: "see how bad lives the refugees live" -- without mentioning that Lebanon, Jordan, Syria & Egypt, and their non-democratic leaders, are the cage-keepers. (And when you're born, and your parents are born, and your family lives in Lebanon, for instance, Lebanon is your "homeland".)

Lebanon should grant citizenship to all Palestinians in Lebanon, with a promise of dual citizenship of a future Palestine. Lebanon can, and should, open their refugee cage.

The Arab-Israeli citizens, those Arabs who didn't run, probably live the most "middle class" lives of all Arabs in the ME. Yes, some discrimination. But much less than Jews suffered with under Islamic governments. Jews are imperfect (no surprise) -- just much, much more human rights oriented than the Arabs.

Michael, don't your Jewish friends have any Arab-Israeli friends you can talk to about their ideas for a peaceful future?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at August 31, 2006 02:54 AM

Michael, the word terrorist is used so often, but seems we do not have a clear definition. It seems to be if a non-state actor kills civilians (intentionally or inadvertently) it is a terrorist act, but if a state kills civilians, it is either collateral damage due to imprecise weapons or bad intelligence, or a bad choice of weapons like cluster bombs in civilian areas.

The Germans most likely called those in the French Resistance terrorists. The American Indian probably called American settlers terrorists. The British called those who blew up the King David Hotel terrorists

But yeah, surely someone blowing up a bus is a terrorist and it is sickening.

But what do we call those who create the terrorist?.

The journalists and bureau chiefs of MSM
have eyes and ears. But what ends up in the MSM is influenced by fear of corporate sponsors, corporate owners of the MSM, as well as the career aspirations of the journalists who realize that if they get tagged as a liberal or anti-semite for criticising Israel policy, they may not get that promotion or job.

Posted by: Paul Todd at August 31, 2006 03:02 AM

"Please list an example of where this approach has succeeded in the history of the civilized world."

Unfortunately, this approach has succeeded quite often in recorded history -- the Roman destruction of Carthage is one that springs to mind; from the Roman point of view, it was totally successful. The Mongol extermination of the Assassins (1258, I think) is another example, and I'm sure there are many others.

I'm not advocating the extermination of enemies as a matter of principle, but that's because it's morally wrong, not because it doesn't succeed.

Posted by: Marges at August 31, 2006 03:11 AM

"As for being a Jew in London, you'll never know the humiliation of being a "dirty arab" in an israeli airport security line or a "cockroach" (to use Yitzhak Rabin's words) in the west bank."

That's precious. People are trying to kill me, but that's no big deal, because it's not humiliating.
Although I'd bet that almost any Arab would rather go through an Israeli security line than experience what I went through in elementary school, so I'm not impressed.

Posted by: maor at August 31, 2006 05:28 AM

Rosignol,
Ok, lets go with your quaint mexico / u.s. example...do any americans or mexicans live in a territory where they are not full fledge citizens of the sovereign ruling over that territory? So fine, have Israel declare the victory they've been so desparately trying to impose on the Palestinians since 1948 by annexing the WB and granting full citizenship rights to the Palestinians there. Only then is your argument consistent. To do otherwise exposes all Israel for the hypocrisy it really stands for versus its (and your) narrative.

Tom Grey,
Ditto. Its nice to review the tired Israeli narrative about Palestinian refugees, and nice to argue that Arab countries should grant them citizenship rights, but again, your argument would only be consistent if Israel granted citizenship rights to those in the WB. Oh, and the existing Arab citizens of Israel are not exclusively those who "didn't run"....they are also those who weren't ethnically cleansed in 1948 by the Irgun, Stern or other then-Jewish terrorist groups. But in the media gang-bang against Arab and Muslim terrorists, the world has forgotten that were it not for jewish terrorists groups pre-1948, the state of Israel with its current demographic today might be very different....but that wouldn't fit neatly into the Jews-are-wonderful and arabs-are-scum narrative that is so wonderfully aligned with Israel's real long-term underlying intent: control over the WB in perpetuity, in one form or another, underpinned by the religious fundamentalist tenet of sovereignty because God promissed them that land.

Posted by: NKLondon at August 31, 2006 05:43 AM

Sorry, Paul, you don't understand how journalism works in the U.S.

It's true that getting plausibly branded an anti-Semite will hurt your journalism career. But criticizing Israeli policy is the norm in American journalism. And obviously lots of people can criticize Israeli policies without being anti-Semitic. I've done it plenty of times, and will continue to do so when I think it's necessary. Israelis themselves do it constantly.

Not one of the American journalists at that panel on media bias in Jerusalem a few days ago said one bad word about Hezbollah. Every single last criticism leveled was against Israel, bar none. If Hezbollah was even mentioned at all by the American journalists on the panel (which included the NYT and ABC bureau chiefs), Hezbollah was spoken of in neutral terms. There was no praise, but nor was there criticism or blame.

It was, truly, an amazing display of extreme bias by people who patted themselves on the back for being "balanced." They aren't remotely balanced at all.

When the Israel-Hezbollah war broke out I was accused by several people around here of being too "pro-Arab," whatever the hell that's supposed to mean, because I opposed Israel's invasion of Lebanon from the very beginning. Arabs include everyone from pro-American bloggers in Iraq to Osama bin Laden. So I have to say I find it rather amusing when I get accused of being too pro-Israel by different people.

My biases are very simple: I am against terrorists and dictators, and supportive of reasonable, moderate, democratic people regardless of their nationality, race, or religion. That's it. So I'm supportive of the majority of people in both Lebanon and Israel whether I agree with their politics or not. And I'm categorically opposed to Hezbollah, Hamas, and the settler movement, although I oppose each of them in different ways and to different degrees. (It is less bad to build a house where you shouldn't than to blow up a bus and murder old women and grade school kids.)

Opposing Hamas and Hezbollah does not make me anti-Lebanese or anti-Palestinian. And that's especially the case when you consider that most Lebanese people agree with me on this question. I am much more legitimately pro-Lebanese than the idiots in Cairo and London who wave Hezbollah flags. But whatever.

I have more pressing things to do than argue about this. So I'm done. Carry on if you must.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 31, 2006 05:51 AM

Maor,
Your are implicitly stating a position that is the undertone of Israel's modern history...whatever happens to the Palestinians in the misery caused to them by the grind of Israeli occupation and discrimination, thats somehow justified because everyone's trying to kill the Jews...whether the Europeans in the holocaust, or the Iranian fundamentalist today. Europeans exterminated 6 million jews, and so palestinians must pay the price and accept that a jewish state usurps their land, defeats them, scatters their people, occupies and humiliates those left. And then reinforce and justify that position further with every mad statement uttered by the Iranian President. What a moral nation.

Posted by: NKLondon at August 31, 2006 05:54 AM

NKLondon,

You are aware, are you not, that most Israelis with to give the Palestinians their own state in the West Bank and Gaza? Your "analysis" seems to skip past that little details and only applies to the Israeli far-right, not to Israel as it actually exists in the real world.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 31, 2006 06:26 AM

Brief technical note on the rusting of Iron (or Steel, as is most likely the material used in the rockets). Iron does indeed rust when burned but that rust would be the high temperature oxide which is a purplish red color. The pieces in the picture display the low temperature orange oxide that forms under normal atmospheric conditions. Given the amount of rust visible, I'd say that those rockets are some weeks old.

Posted by: Richard Bliss at August 31, 2006 06:48 AM

When the Israel-Hezbollah war broke out I was accused by several people around here of being too "pro-Arab," whatever the hell that's supposed to mean, because I opposed Israel's invasion of Lebanon from the very beginning.

But before that, did you not claim that "Israel needs to bomb Hezbollah villages"?

Posted by: Solomon2 at August 31, 2006 07:02 AM

Rosignol,
Ok, lets go with your quaint mexico / u.s. example...

Compadre, you were the one who brought Mexican/Spanish land claims into this...

do any americans or mexicans live in a territory where they are not full fledge citizens of the sovereign ruling over that territory?

Yep. Lots of Americans retire to Mexico (it's a good way to stretch retirement funds, and the warm climate is good for some health issues). They retain their American citizenship and do not acquire Mexican citizenship- they are considered 'resident aliens', and are most emphatically not 'full fledge citizens of the sovereign ruling over that territory'.

And of course, the illegal immigration problem in the US is well known, as is the fact that the majority of those illegal immigrants are Mexican nationals, who are certainly not 'full fledge citizens of the sovereign ruling over that territory'. There are also a lot of people who came to the US legally, to live and work, and have not become American citizens. They, too, are 'Resident Aliens', also known as 'Green Card holders'. I know a bit about this, my stepmother happens to be one.

I thought you were better informed than this...

So fine, have Israel declare the victory they've been so desparately trying to impose on the Palestinians since 1948 by annexing the WB and granting full citizenship rights to the Palestinians there. Only then is your argument consistent.

Consistent with what? You don't have to be a citizen of a country to live in it. All you have to be able to do is pay the bills. You don't even need permission from the government to be there if you're smart enough to go somewhere that's lax about enforcing it's immigration laws (such as the US).

To do otherwise exposes all Israel for the hypocrisy it really stands for versus its (and your) narrative.

Hypocrisy?

Compared to what? Are you familiar with what the nations who expelled jews in '48 did with the property of those expelled?

Posted by: rosignol at August 31, 2006 07:04 AM

Woke up this morning and NK London is up to his old tricks, accusing other posters of espousing "divine right" when last I checked no Religious Zionist has posted in this thread. The posters here who have argued against unilateral withdrawal of the West Bank are doing so for security considerations, not on religious grounds. Same goes for not allowing all WB and Gaza Palestinians to be citizens, and in doing so enabling Hamas to be a legitimate political party within the state of Israel -- security reasons, not on religious grounds.

But since you're so interested in victimhood, place of origin and skin pigmentation, NK, I have one question for you. Make that two:

Say if those pale-faced Nordic/Slavic/raped-by-Cossacks-so-have-blue-eyes Jews stayed in their home territory of Europe after 1945 and started blowing up German, Italian and Soviet Russian civilian buses and restaurants as payback for being displaced and murdered en masse. Would you vouch for their right to resistance? What if your Italian grandparents happened to be caught in the crossfire?

I look forward to your response.

Posted by: jjdynomite at August 31, 2006 07:25 AM

the Palestinians are the fall guy for Europe's crimes in the holocaust.

Um, no. Sorry.

The Palestinians are the fall guy for Palestinians (and their friends) trying to wipe Israel off the map.

And one may weep that they haven't yet succeeded in wiping Israel off the map, even as one bitterly decries the difficulties and problems they've "encountered" for having thus far failed.

For truly, should Palestinians have to suffer just because they've tried---and failed (thus far)---to wipe Israel off the map?

However, all this may change; they may ultimately succeed.

To be sure, they'll keep trying (firm believers in justice that they are).

And as long as they keep trying, they'll be the fall guys.

So that one may continue to weep their failure and their suffering, and criticize Israel for having the temerity to want Palestinians to fail in their quest for justice.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at August 31, 2006 07:31 AM

The other huge holes in NK's "anybody who doesn't think Israel is the devil, claims Israel is perfect", is the failure to look at Arab decisions.

Try this timeline.

In 1947, Arabs rejected a two state UN partition plan. No democratic vote. So, OK, it was mostly corrupt Arab dictator leaders who, without consulting their people, rejected Palestinian statehood, then.

From 1948 - 1967, Egypt controlled and occupied Gaza, Jordan the West Bank -- neither supported the creation of a Palestinian state. Both supported murdering Israelis. Did Israel stop the Palestinians from creating a state? No. Only Arabs stopped the state creation.

Is Israel stopping Palestinians from declaring a state, now? Basically, no. It's the Palestinian fear of responsibility, as well as borders (an issue for Israel in 1947-48, too) and especially Jerusalem.

Humiliation? Hah hah -- the 'stupid' Palestinians are humiliating themselves. They would rather fight, and lose, and be poor, than start businesses and try to create some wealth. They would rather depend on UN / EU (WU first, Wuss U) / US aid handouts to the PA, like dependent little babies, than do much economic development themselves. Yeah, they are pathetic -- and Israel may not be fully innocent. But it's about 90% Palestinian action consequences, so I only have about 10% sympathy for them. How convenient for Arabs: Israel's not perfect, everything is Israel's fault! (Especially the millions of dollars given to Arafat's widow to make her say what accounts hold the hundreds of million taken by the beloved Arafat and not used for investment?) Of course, maybe it's just my opinion that the Palestinians are acting like stupid suckers for Arab power hungry bozos who don't care for the normal people, except as a way to claim how bad Israel is.

In fact, I have far MORE sympathy for the poor black Muslims in Darfur, who really are being murdered and humiliated and raped by ... Arab Muslims.

Finally, the existential issue is crucial: does Israel have a right to exist? Israel says yes, anti-Israelis either say "no" honestly (Hamas & Hezbollah), or imply "no" like NK neo-troll. Egypt was bribed to say "yes" -- but their gov't did say yes.

Iran is also saying "no", and by its actions is preparing to back their "no Israel" with nukes.
I fear this.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at August 31, 2006 07:39 AM

NKLondon,

Point one: The pale-faced blond Judeans/Israelis have the same right to be in Israel/Zion/Middle East, as your swarthy "Italian" ass has a right to be White Europe. If you think otherwise, get your swarthy racist ass back to Pakistan, where it belongs.

Point two: Jews were fighting on behalf of the thoroughly "secular" and anti religious Soviet Communists, so what does that mean? There were Jewish Jihadis fighting the Spanish and French in "Al-Andalus" Spain. Your "religious" affiliations are totally meaningless. There are some Jews, which even today, lend their support to Jihadis: the Neturei Karta sect. So whether they be dhimminized Christian-Jihadis, or Jewish-Jihadis, or thoroughly Muslim-Jihadis, is irrelevant. Just like you, Jihadis they are all the same.

Posted by: redaktor at August 31, 2006 07:56 AM

"I realize the suicide bombing had to be stopped, but it seems collective punishment of the civilian population to accomplish this is not right."

Ummmm... what the hell is suicide bombing if not collective punishment? Or rocket attacks on non-military communities? So its OK for Arabs to collectively punish Israelis, but not vice versa? Doh' - silly me - I always forget international law only applies when it's against Israel. Tell the Arabs to stop their own suicide bombers and rockets, and Israel will stop 'collective punishment.'

"(It is less bad to build a house where you shouldn't than to blow up a bus and murder old women and grade school kids.)"

Michael, I wish that fit on a bumper-sticker!

"People are trying to kill me, but that's no big deal, because it's not humiliating." Great response, Maor -- but since shame is worse than death for Arabs (and before you jump down my throat, anyone, explain Honor killings to me in any other terms) being questioned and frisked by Jews at an airport IS obviously justification for a terrorist response.

Posted by: Pam at August 31, 2006 09:49 AM

Rosignol and Tom Grey,

You guys are kinda preaching to the choir here. I said that both sides will have to co-exist for this conflict to be resolved (which is what you 2 are saying as well). Obviously, one side wiping out the other would solve the problem. But I think we all agree that is not HOW this should be solved. (Lest we forget the horrors of the Holocaust, Pol Pot's Cambodia or Saddam's idea of solving the Kurdish problem in Iraq)

I think any reasonable person knows that the ultimate solution will involve 2 states, side by side. They don't have to like each other, as you guys said, they just need to respect each other's sovereignty and, as Rosignol pointed out, need to realize that they gain more by being at peace than they do by trying to wipe each other out.

All this is well and good. However, you have a segment of the Arab population who thinks that, due to some divine rights of their own, they're entitled to ALL of a Palestine/Israel (this would be the Hamas types). You also have, on the other side, guys like this Israeli, depicted in the article, who's convinced the jews are entitled to ALL of Israel, again because of some divine right. This includes the West Bank (Gaza is far less biblically signifcant). Granted this guy may be in the minority, but my initial comment was that at some point, these "fanatic" types (on both sides) need to let go of these notions of entitlement, that are based on divine right or on stuff that happened 2000 years ago, and start living in the present.
The palestinians need to recognize that Israel is not going away, and that terrorism, guerilla resistance, and whatever else means are NOT gonna suddenly cause all jews to pack up and leave for the US.
Conversely, Israelis need to realize that they are not going to get to keep the West Bank, biblical land or not, and that they need to get over it. They are going to have to allow the palestinians a state that's viable (And gaza all by itself isn't).

That's all I'm saying. As long as a significant enough portion of the 2 populations continue to feel entitlement (based on divine rights or whatever else), the solution will remain ellusive.

There is nothing worse than someone feeling entitled. It makes them impossible to negotiate with, because, by definition, they don't believe there is anything to negotiate. This guy Michael interviewed displays that intransigeance with his "But it's our land" comments. And I was merely commenting no that, nothing else.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 09:54 AM

I think Tom Grey's post implicitely reaches for a real-world solution. The Palestinians (or those who spoke for them) made an unfortunate choice in 1947-48. The modern-day Palestinians have to live with that choice; it doesn't seem likely that they will ever get a do-over incorporating all the terms that they desire. Were a real Palestinian leader to step up (the opposite of those whose argument if extended necessarily ends with the glass-makers rendering great portions of the ME unihabitable for centuries) and set forth goals that are realistic and obtainable-and tell the Palestinians the truth about achieving those goals-perhaps a real Palestinian "State" would emerge; I believe the Israelis would like nothing better than to pass the WB and Gaza off to a responsible leader and populace. That leader does not seem to have appeared at this point in time, it isn't even clear if the Palestinian population would yet listen to such a person. Ergo, the status quo until and unless. Israel, like all national governments, has the right to do just as it is now-defend its people and borders.

Posted by: gsf600 at August 31, 2006 09:56 AM

Michael,

To echo Tom Grey's comments. I was thinking last night that I'd like to read an interview or discussions with the arab-israelis living in Israel proper (since you can't get to Gaza).

It won't be representative of Gazan opinion, obviously, but I, for one, am very interested as to what they have to say about the whole notion of a jewish state, down the line, and how they, as a minority, would see themselves fitting in. What happens if they ever become a majority? Will Israel insist on democracy? Will it rather preserve its jewish character through some sort of Apartheid? etc...

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 09:58 AM

I will say that we are like a group of people tied to a rail line while a freight train is approaching after long having whistled in the distance. Same are debating the speed of the train, its length, its weight, some even venture guesses regarding the intentions of the engineer; all quite amusing. The debate has reached the point where some wonder if there’s a signal somewhere between the train and where we are, which if red, might stop the train. This to them seems very smart, because if the train stops, well, we are obviously not going to get hit. But unless the signal stays red forever, which in reality never happens, the train will start again. And it has. We, who are tied to the track of Western culture, WILL get hit and ran over.

Now, we can debate what’s in wagon No.11, or we can take steps to destroy the train. The Jihadist train is fast approaching.

Posted by: redaktor at August 31, 2006 10:05 AM

Redaktor,

You're giving far too much credit to this jihadi train. I'd argue that in the grand scheme of things, the train that's unstoppable is that of western civilization.

In the end, although quite loud and vocal, the Jihadis will end up being nothing more than a blip in the grand process of history.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 10:16 AM

bad vilbel writes: ..these "fanatic" types (on both sides) need to let go of these notions of entitlement, that are based on divine right or on stuff that happened 2000 years ago, and start living in the present.

Nonsense. It is you that needs to start living in the present. These quote: "notions of entitlement," came about in the 1967 war, and again in the 1973 war. The Jihadis lost their "rights" to these lands in wars that they themselves started. Israelis should have gone Roman on these Jihadi bustards right then and there, and that would've solved the problem of Jihadi humiliation. In my view, it is still not too late to do just that, especially considering all the almost daily Jihadi provocations.

Posted by: redaktor at August 31, 2006 10:30 AM

Israelis need to also address their own existential dilemmas internally, if we are to find some sort of solution somewhere down the line...

There is nothing worse than someone feeling entitled. It makes them impossible to negotiate with, because, by definition, they don't believe there is anything to negotiate.

Do you think Israel should be willing to negotiate away its existence, then?

Posted by: Solomon2 at August 31, 2006 10:31 AM

Of course not, Solomon.

People here are either intentionally misreading my statements, or I'm not doing a good job stating them.

I said in a previous comment that i do not have a solution to the problem. I am not proposing any sort of concrete solution here. I don't know how this problem gets solved on the ground.

What I do know is that as long as both sides feel entitled to the WHOLE pie (again, i emphasize what i said in my previous comments: I'm talking about people who want the WHOLE enchilada here), there can be no acceptable solution (wiping out the other side is NOT acceptable, in my book).

Is this so hard to understand?

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 10:47 AM

According to the CIA:
Singapore - 693 sq km
Gaza (only) - 360 sq km
Liechtenstein - 160 sq km
Monaco - 1.95 sq km (3 times Washington Mall)
West Bank - 5,860 sq km (about Delaware)

Without war conquest, any peaceful size is "big enough". Please, no "viable size only" arguments.

Either side could give or get more land, without viability constraints.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at August 31, 2006 10:48 AM

Tom Grey,

Fair enough. I guess Gaza could technically be like one of those city-states, given the right infrastructure.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 10:57 AM

bad vilbel,

There’s a reason they now call Europe, Eurabia. There’s a reason that the Reuters propaganda service is called Al-Reuters. Lebanon has gone from a tiny sliver of land with a Christian majority, to a tiny sliver of land with a tiny Christian minority. The same goes to Bethlehem and Nazareth in Israel. These were towns where there was a clear Christian majority. Today these Christians are driven away by their Jihadi "brothers". And let’s not forget that whole Middle East was a vast domain of Aramaic/Christian culture. Now it has all but been wiped out by the Jihadists.

The demographic picture is very scary and worrisome. Europe’s and North America’s birthrates are anemic, and declining. This is the opposite of the demographic picture in the vast and growing swaths of land comprising present day Jihadistan. So no, I’m not giving too much credit to this jihadi train. Neither am I asleep at the switch.

Posted by: redaktor at August 31, 2006 11:00 AM

Redaktor,

I don't know where you're getting some of your facts from. Might wanna open up some real history books. Eurabia? Al-Reuters? Who's "they" who calls them that?
Jihadistan?

I tried having a reasonable conversation here. But obviously, some people are more interested in brandishing hollow slogans and coming up with cute wordplay.

Good day.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 11:10 AM

Remember Camp David 2 in 2000? Remember the Taba talks in 2001?

No, of course not.

On the other hand, even if one does even slightly remember them, it is only to reinforce the belief that Israel was not---is not---serious about negotiations with the Palestinians.

How does this work? Let's see. The Palestinian line, when they choose to use it, goes something like:

"1: Israel must withdraw to the May 1967 armistice line. And 2: Israel must withdraw from East Jerusalem. And 3: Israel must allow all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes within (pre-1967) Israel."

And then, when Israel responds, "But we can't agree to this. This represents the end of our state! We're not going to negotiate away our existence, and you can't expect us to negotiate away our existence!", the Palestinians---along with their progressive, justice-seeking supporters---will retort, "You see, Israel simply refuses to negotiate with us." (Perhaps they will even throw in the key word "intransigent," as in, "Those intransigent Zionists simply refuse to negotiate with us."

And in their wisdom, the Palestinians can continue: "You see, we even have the quotes to prove the true intentions of the Zionists, who themselves said, "WE AREN'T GOING TO NEGOTIATE."; and they also said, "YOU CAN'T EXPECT US TO NEGOTIATE."

So how do you expect us to negotiate with those colonialist, apartheid racists? In spite of our sincerest efforts to reach an agreement with them, the Zionists only understand the language of force.

(And it works like a charm. Simply a glorious thing to behold....)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at August 31, 2006 11:11 AM

bad vilbel, in 2005 the Israeli government and military made a political decision, supported by the majority of their polity, to remove 9,000 Jewish Israelis (1,700 families) from their homes and livelihoods:

http://www.jcrcboston.org/site/c.kvKYLcMSIqG/b.1102587/k.8FD5/Israels_2005_Disengagement_Initiative_Numbers_to_Know.htm

Until the Palestinians do ONE THING to show that they, too, can make self-imposed sacrifices (other than funding Suha Arafat's shopping sprees in Paris), I think it would be difficult for most Israelis and pro-Israeli Westerners to take statements about Palestinian "entitlements" seriously.

Posted by: jjdynomite at August 31, 2006 11:13 AM

What I do know is that as long as both sides feel entitled to the WHOLE pie (again, i emphasize what i said in my previous comments: I'm talking about people who want the WHOLE enchilada here), there can be no acceptable solution (wiping out the other side is NOT acceptable, in my book)

Thanks, that's a much clearer statement. Yet I wonder, at this stage, what can suffice for either party short of "wiping out the other side". As Israel's enemies become more powerful, and as they work to entrench their offensive military capabilities within their civilian populations, the ability for Israel to engage in other options disappears. As the mass-destruction capabilities of Israel's enemies grow, so will their desire to advance their goals by wiping out little Israel.

I recall that Gaza and its entire recalcitrant population was wiped out once before - by Alexander the Great. Nobody thought any less of him for it. Maybe it's something in the soil?

Posted by: Solomon2 at August 31, 2006 11:13 AM

bad vilbel,

No. What you and your Jihadi brothers are trying to do here is slip us a Mickey. But not all of us are so stupid as to drink your concoction. People will finally wake up to see you snakes for what you are.

Posted by: redaktor at August 31, 2006 11:20 AM

Solomon2,

At this stage, the ball is in the arab court. What they do with it, I don't know.
The good news is that there are some arab countries who recognize that they need to move towards peace (Saudi, Jordan, Egypt, and co.) We'll have to see where that goes.
The bad news is that you have those crazies in Iran to worry about.

Redaktor,

If you think that calling me names is gonna prove your point, more power to you...

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 11:33 AM

bad vilbel,

Trust me, I'm way past calling you names.

Posted by: redaktor at August 31, 2006 11:43 AM

"What you [BV] and your Jihadi brothers are trying to do here is slip us a Mickey. But not all of us are so stupid as to drink your concoction. People will finally wake up to see you snakes for what you are."

Whoa! I think Redaktor's train just jumped the tracks! Careful, your inner whacko is showing!
It is, however, very convenient when someone completely discredits themselves in a single comment. Saves the rest of us the trouble of actually looking for a reasonable argument in the rest of their comments.

Lovin' U BV ;)

Posted by: L at August 31, 2006 11:45 AM

bv: It's more complicated than that, the Iranian mullahs are not Arabs. My guess is that these chess-playing carpet-weavers are trying to fashion a situation where they will use the Arabs as pawns in a WMD attack that can be blamed on Israel, so that Iran gets off not just scot-free, but dominant in the region. Thus will a new Persian Empire be born, one utterly dedicated to the destruction or domination of Western Asia and beyond.

Posted by: Solomon2 at August 31, 2006 11:51 AM

L writes: Saves the rest of us the trouble of actually looking for a reasonable argument

A reasonable argument towards what end?

More land concessions to satisfy Jihadi appetites? More Political Cowardice to assuage the Jihadi blood cult? What’s reasonable about that?

Posted by: redaktor at August 31, 2006 12:07 PM

Solomon,

Of course you're right. It's hard to reply in short comments and still encompass the magnitude of the issues at hand.

Iran, in the end, is in it for their own ends, namely being the dominant regional power and being the leading bastion of Shiism against what they perceive as Sunni oppression. The threats coming from Iran, not only to Israel, but to the "moderate" arab states is growing. And looking at the geopolitical scene here, for a moment, I can't help but feel that countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt (the 2 sunni powers in the region) are taking stock of Iran as the bigger threat (rather than Israel). The Saudi peace initiative of 2002 (which is not being revived, apparently) must be seen in that light. The arab states, as a whole (minus Syria and its terrorist offshoots of Hamas and Hezbollah) are essentially over it, when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict. I think, although there are many details to work out, the fundemental issues (spare fo the right of return one) are fairly obvious at this point: 2 state solution, normalize arab-israeli relations and move on to worry about Iran.

The real question is, HOW do we get to that point, without allowing the extremist elements (Iran via Syria/Hamas/Hezbollah) from torpedoeing the whole process.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 12:21 PM

Addendum to previoust post:

Look at the Israeli-Hezbollah war under the light I describe above, and note the tacit approval given by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and co. to the Israeli operation (yes, i know, officially they were against it, but tacitly...) and the pieces of the puzzle become apparent: There is a drive to tackle the Iran/Syria obstructionism so that the peace initative can be revived.

Step 1: Syria gets the boot from Lebanon.
Step 2: Hezbollah is weakened, with arab approval, and hopefully marginalized.
Step 3: Hamas?

In parallel, the squeeze is put on Iran over its nukes, while the above 2 steps manage to take some precious leverage out of Iranian hands...

You get the picture.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 12:25 PM

BV said:

What I do know is that as long as both sides feel entitled to the WHOLE pie (again, i emphasize what i said in my previous comments: I'm talking about people who want the WHOLE enchilada here), there can be no acceptable solution (wiping out the other side is NOT acceptable, in my book).

Is this so hard to understand?

What is hard to understand is why you insist on morally equating the two sides in this conflict.

One side is in favor of individual rights and wants to live under a government that recognizes and protects those rights. The other side (at least the great majority of them) denies the existence of individual rights and is in favor of living under a totalitarian government that suppresses and denies those rights. One side advocates a free society. The other side advocates a society of slavery to religious edicts issued by theocratic authorities.

Only one of these two sides has the right to govern any territory -- and that is the side advocating individual rights, freedom and a government that protects both.

No one can claim the right to establish a government that does not recognize individual rights -- such a claim is a contradiction in terms. If there are no rights, then there is no right to establish any sort of government. If there are rights, then the only right kind of government is one that recognizes and respects rights.

This is where the entire Palestinian claim falls apart. NOTHING justifies the establishment of a state that does not recognize rights. No past violation of rights (if such occurred) can be a justification for establishing a government that does not respect and protect rights.

Nor can a previously rightless existence under some sort or tribal governance in a given area be a justification for re-establishing a government that does not respect rights. There is no right not to acknowledge rights.

It is a moral obscenity to suggest that the advocates of freedom must compromise and give the advocates of slavery some territory in which to practice their slavery. The only moral solution is for the advocates of freedom to keep killing the advocates of slavery until they give it up and embrace a free society.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 31, 2006 02:34 PM

I give up.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 03:13 PM

bad vilbel;
I sincerely hope people like him are indeed in the minority, because that view of the world is part of the problem in the Middle East.

---------------

I think i will express the view common to most secular israelis who are majority in this country that biblical significance of Hebron or West Bank means nothing. I have no problem to say goodbye to that wall also and frankly i know very few people in Tel Aviv who have been to it even once.

Theoretically i would like the palestinians to take their damn west bank and leave us in peace on the other side of the fence which route can be corrected if it s neccesary for the success of the negotiations. But I am not optimistic that anything like this going to happen any time soon

The right of return inside Israel proper is a big no no for the absolute majority of people here, left or right. If anything most israelis want peace to see less of the arabs and not more of them. But i bet the majority would be ready to accept additional taxes to pay the palestinians if they would be ready to compromise on that.

Posted by: nobody at August 31, 2006 03:17 PM

bad vilbel;
I sincerely hope people like him are indeed in the minority, because that view of the world is part of the problem in the Middle East.

---------------

I think i will express the view common to most secular israelis who are majority in this country that biblical significance of Hebron or West Bank means nothing. I have no problem to say goodbye to that wall also and frankly i know very few people in Tel Aviv who have been to it even once.

Theoretically i would like the palestinians to take their damn west bank and leave us in peace on the other side of the fence which route can be corrected if it s neccesary for the success of the negotiations. But I am not optimistic that anything like this going to happen any time soon

The right of return inside Israel proper is a big no no for the absolute majority of people here, left or right. If anything most israelis want peace to see less of the arabs and not more of them. But i bet the majority would be ready to accept additional taxes to pay the palestinians if they would be ready to compromise on that.

Posted by: nobody at August 31, 2006 03:17 PM

nobody,

Be careful, or they might accuse you of "moral obscenity" and put words in your mouth. :)

Thank you for the reasonable comment.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 03:21 PM

I know they will, vilbel.

But i dont care. Also very often after i do something like this there comes some israeli leftist who starts apologizing all over the place until he ends up by cluttering the whole of the forum with his nonsense

Posted by: nobody at August 31, 2006 03:27 PM

it goes of course without saying that when i say "The right of return inside Israel proper is a big no no" that means that in the west bank/gaza the pals would carry out their own immigration policies. They can bring there all of their refugees and one billion of chinese, if they want, in case of course the palestinian state is established.

I understand that at the last stages of Oslo the yunkees were trying to entice Arafat into signing agreement with a promise of huge sums of the annual aid. I read that at one point as much as 4 billions annually was in the air, twice as much as Egypt gets after camp david. But the pals are too proud of course to compromise on any inch of the sacred palestinian land or right of return and the result is well known

Posted by: nobody at August 31, 2006 03:39 PM

Yup.

And that goes towards my earlier comments about having to let go of the past. The Palestinians need to understand pragmatism, and understand that the right of return is a pipe dream, and that fighting for this "pride" you speak of, is not going to do them any good.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 03:52 PM

well.. i think most israelis are practical enough to accept the idea of giving up on west bank/jerusalem .. the problem is not territory as such .. its because of security preoccupations or call it existential fears ... for some reason we are still struggling to get convinced in the goodwill of our neighbors

I was posting a few days ago on one amazing lebanese blog... one of the articles there dealt with zionism as a combination of stalinism and national socialism ... when i expressed my doubts that we are that bad the author also informed me about the secret zionist plan to dominate the world ...

but he was a cool guy and against violence .. he was trying to reassure me that all the arabs have in their minds is our good and well being .. but i still have my doubts

Posted by: nobody at August 31, 2006 04:03 PM

Link?

That seems like it would be an interesting read. :)

At this point (and this is me putting myself in an Israeli's shoes) I can't say I blame you and Israel in general for having these security concerns and fears. Your neighbours have not done anything to prove their goodwill. That much is a fact.

My hope is that this will change. But we'll see. Until then, though, there really is not much that is going to change on the ground. (Unfortunately)

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 04:12 PM

http://blacksmithsoflebanon.blogspot.com/2006/08/know-thy-enemy-part-i-pref_115664518595853390.html

Posted by: nobody at August 31, 2006 04:20 PM
KNOW THY ENEMY - PART I : PREFACE Posted by: nobody at August 31, 2006 04:26 PM

nobody,

Wow. I just wish I had the past 10 minutes of my life back. Reading that thread gave me a headache.
Makes you appreciate the comment section on this blog a bit more when you read all that namecalling. Some of those people sound like they're 5 years old, both in their maturity and in their grasp of politics and history.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 04:38 PM

i was under impression that its a normal stuff on the arab blogs ... i dont read arabic .. but i can imagine that it should be much worse than these english blogs ...

here it just comes in a very concentrated form but i see this stuff all over in comments and articles ... i was actually thinking that this kind of chomsky style analysis or paranoias of the elders is now an integral part of the intelectual debate in arab countries

Posted by: nobody at August 31, 2006 04:53 PM

In fact i was so impressed by that thread that from there i went straight to the blissstreetjournal to complain to the caveman. And he of course was as always cool and unshakeable, like - who cares for this shit , i dont have time for this nonsense...

you can see our conversation in the comments of his last post

Posted by: nobody at August 31, 2006 05:05 PM

anyway .. got to split with you .. take care .. thanks for good talk

Posted by: nobody at August 31, 2006 05:07 PM

To correct the poster known as "nobody" the majority of Israelis are not secular but traditional. That means the majority does not observe the sabbath but does follow/engage in most of the Jewish customs. And being one of those traditional Israelis, I would assume that the majority of Israelis would be very much against giving up the "wall" as you've suggested, being that it is Judaism's most holy site.

Posted by: Sarit at August 31, 2006 05:25 PM

nobody,

There are plenty of more mature arab or Lebanese blogs. Links to most of those can be found right here off Michael's links to the left.
Every blog, even the better ones, have their share of immature ninconpoops and childish imbeciles, but I find that there are a lot of well-spoken, smart and interesting people, with varied opinions (some with which I agree, and some with which I disagree) with whom you can conduct reasonable debate and logical argument.

Again, you have to look past the immature comments that crop up here and there, both from Arabs and Israelis alike.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 31, 2006 05:36 PM

well sarit

the statistics that i hear repeatedly are the following:

20% of the israeli jews are orthodox and i am not sure that many ortodox would even call themselves israelis

slightly more than half consider themslves secular .. which leaves us with less than 30% traditionals ..

the traditionals incude so many shades of greay and some of them so slight that i dont know if anybody can claim to represent them

a considerable part of them would be accomodated by a compromise over sacred places involving UN or something as long as free access is guaranteed to every side ...

so i am not sure that you represent a majority

it may be true that right now most people would oppose any deal with the plaestinians .. but it has less to do with some principles, like we ll never give up on our wall, and more with hamas, palestinian terror and kassam attacks..

Posted by: nobody at August 31, 2006 06:30 PM

debil

Posted by: redaktor at August 31, 2006 08:01 PM

The best figures I have seen for the population of the area prior to the British Mandate is 200,000 Arabs and 80,000 Jews. This was based on the Ottoman Empire census done around 1902 and the figures are considered low for both populations. The population shot up for both groups during the British Mandate and the 1946 Census was approx. 1.2 million Arabs and 400,000 Jews, this despite restrictions on the immigration of Jews by the British.

Now I have yet to see any evidence of the Palestinian resistance to the Ottoman Empire, surely their Nationalistic desires predate 1948? Anyone care to point me in the right direction?

Posted by: Colin at August 31, 2006 10:56 PM

To Nobody:

I'd like to see the sources of these stastics you quoted. They sound more like Meretz rhetoric than the truth on the ground. I'd bet my house that 50% of Israelis are not completely secular.

If security concerns were not an issue, I'm sure you could secure a majority to split Jerusalem, but I highly doubt you would be able to secure a majority to give away control of the Wall.

Posted by: Sarit at August 31, 2006 11:41 PM

To Nobody:

I'd like to see the sources of these stastics you quoted. They sound more like Meretz rhetoric than the truth on the ground. I'd bet my house that 50% of Israelis are not completely secular.

If security concerns were not an issue, I'm sure you could secure a majority to split Jerusalem, but I highly doubt you would be able to secure a majority to give away control of the Wall.

Posted by: Sarit at August 31, 2006 11:43 PM

You guys are kinda preaching to the choir here. I said that both sides will have to co-exist for this conflict to be resolved (which is what you 2 are saying as well). Obviously, one side wiping out the other would solve the problem. But I think we all agree that is not HOW this should be solved.

It's not my first choice, or even my second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh. Hell, it's not even my hundredeth.

The problem is that Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity, as someone once said. I'm starting to think that the real nutjobs over there are going to have to face an utterly stark choice of 'live in peace or die' before some of them come to their senses- and I think a lot of them won't.

I'd like to solve this some other way, but what hasn't been tried? At what point does resorting to that stop being inappropriate? There's an answer to that question, and it's not 'never'.

I hope they choose 'live in peace'. Really. But I don't think all of them will. We have to recognize that there are people who will choose death over living peacefully, and they are the reason there is a problem. There is no reasoning with such people, no accomidation is possible, you have no choice but to endure their attacks or kill them.

After watching this mess drag on for decades, I'm getting to the point where I care less about how it gets solved and more about it getting solved, because quite franky, the US has much bigger problems to deal with, and a bunch of intransigent idiots who aren't smart enough to know when they're defeated are a waste of our time.

Being civilized does not mean you have to allow barbarians to kill you.

(Lest we forget the horrors of the Holocaust, Pol Pot's Cambodia or Saddam's idea of solving the Kurdish problem in Iraq)

I wish I did not understand those people as well as I do.

I think any reasonable person knows that the ultimate solution will involve 2 states, side by side.

Ultimately, there will be two states, yes.

They don't have to like each other, as you guys said, they just need to respect each other's sovereignty and, as Rosignol pointed out, need to realize that they gain more by being at peace than they do by trying to wipe each other out.

How can you make a deal with someone who does not understand what is in their own best interest?

From where I am sitting, they look irrational. What am I missing? Or am I making an error by thinking that there is some information which, once I am aware of it, will make what they are doing seem rational? Are they really, truly, irrational?

All this is well and good. However, you have a segment of the Arab population who thinks that, due to some divine rights of their own, they're entitled to ALL of a Palestine/Israel (this would be the Hamas types).

That would be an example of the people I was referring to earlier- the ones you can't negotiate with, all you can do is endure their attacks or kill them.

It is amazing to me that Hamas has been elected as the government of the gaza strip. If the Israelis had know this is where 'land-for-peace' would lead...

You also have, on the other side, guys like this Israeli, depicted in the article, who's convinced the jews are entitled to ALL of Israel, again because of some divine right.

I'm not worried about them. The Israelis have shown that they can keep those guys on a pretty tight leash.

[snip]

The palestinians need to recognize that Israel is not going away, and that terrorism, guerilla resistance, and whatever else means are NOT gonna suddenly cause all jews to pack up and leave for the US.

I agree completely.

Conversely, Israelis need to realize that they are not going to get to keep the West Bank, biblical land or not, and that they need to get over it. They are going to have to allow the palestinians a state that's viable (And gaza all by itself isn't).

I agree completely.

That's all I'm saying. As long as a significant enough portion of the 2 populations continue to feel entitlement (based on divine rights or whatever else), the solution will remain ellusive.

Not elusive. Impossible.

There is nothing worse than someone feeling entitled. It makes them impossible to negotiate with, because, by definition, they don't believe there is anything to negotiate.

I agree completely.

This guy Michael interviewed displays that intransigeance with his "But it's our land" comments. And I was merely commenting no that, nothing else.

All that guy is doing is talking. So long as all he does is talk, he can say whatever he wants.

His counterparts on the other side of the issue aren't just talking- they're trying to kill people.

[snip]

Posted by: rosignol at September 1, 2006 01:24 AM

bad vilbel,
I agree that you are right to fear Jews who insist on having the whole enchilada. I can promise you though, as a religious right-wing Israeli, that there are very few of those. It is very rare for someone to say that he would oppose giving up land for peace even if he were sure it was real peace (I have heard maybe 2 people ever say that). And my acquaintances are far more right-wing than the average for Israel. It is more common to hear people assume that the Palestinians will never want peace, so the whole land-for-peace issue is irrelevant, but even that is a small minority (I doubt Zvika is one of these, as withdrawing from the West Bank is quite unpopular at the moment, so I don't think it proves anything). More typical are the ultra-orthodox, who theoretically are not even Zionists, but who as a result of terrorism overwhelmingly support being tough on Palestinians.

Posted by: maor at September 1, 2006 01:46 AM

BV said:

Be careful, or they might accuse you of "moral obscenity" and put words in your mouth. J

What words have I put into your mouth, BV? You have said the following repeatedly:

They are going to have to allow the palestinians a state that's viable (And gaza all by itself isn't).

This is an assertion that the advocates of freedom must compromise and give the advocates of slavery some territory in which to practice their slavery. And yes, I regard the promotion of any sort of state that violates rights to be completely immoral.

The Palestinians have no more right to a state than did the American Confederacy in 1860. There is no such thing as the right to create any sort of government that violates individual rights.

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 1, 2006 05:11 AM

To Nobody:

I'd like to see the sources of these stastics you quoted. They sound more like Meretz rhetoric than the truth on the ground. I'd bet my house that 50% of Israelis are not completely secular.

If security concerns were not an issue, I'm sure you could secure a majority to split Jerusalem, but I highly doubt you would be able to secure a majority to give away control of the Wall.

Sarit

------------

sarit

I checked the jpost site and to my surprise found out that technically you were right.

jpost

"According to the survey (Central Bureau of Statistics), between 2002 and 2004 there was a marked rise in the relative number of Jews defining themselves as being haredi and secular and a drop in those classifying themselves as being modern-Orthodox and traditional.

Eight percent of Jews defined themselves as being haredi, up from 6% in 2002, 9% as modern-Orthodox, 39% as traditional and 44% as secular (in comparison to 42% in 2002). "

But once again practically it changes little since as i said the traditionalists include many shades of grey with many people, who call themselves traditionalists, doing it for reasons of preserving national identity/culture or whatever. I dont think that anybody would argue that the traditionalists include a considerable number of people extremely moderate in their political and even religious views. You dont represent them in the sense of what you say about the wall.

Once again. Take an imaginary situation. For the demonstration purposes only.

The palestinians change their minds, vote out Hamas and bring Salam Fayad as a president of the country. Instead of pride, honor and resistance they start thinking in terms of GDP per head and similar stuff. They go to the yunkees and say - we are giving up on the right of return outside west bank/gaza and in return we want those 4 billions of annual aid mentioned during Olso and we want to have them invested in infrastructure and education. And they also ready to compromise on the sacred places by putting them under joined palestinian israeli or just plain UN control with free access guaranteed to everybody.

I can promise you that the majority of the traditionalists, if convinced that this is indeed the new palestinian state of mind , would agree. Many orthodox rabbies would nt object to it from the beginning, since they are waiting for the messiah to come first anyway.

But talking personally i am asking - would you be ready to blow up the whole deal just because it means that instead of israeli sovereignty over the wall it would be placed under some arrangement like this ?

Posted by: nobody at September 1, 2006 05:53 AM

Nobody, unfortunately I can't find any signs that your assumptions have any basis in reality. If the Palestinians did the things you mentioned above, there would have been stability long ago.

There's an interesting phenomenon that I find in blog commentary as well as the population at large -- we take our rational desires and project them on a population or country, despite all evidence of such thinking and behavior pointing to the contrary. Wishing doesn't make it so. Not in Iraq. Not in Lebanon. And not with the Palestinians.

Posted by: Josh at September 1, 2006 06:18 AM

josh

i dont know what of my posts you read .. this is what i said:

"Take an imaginary situation. For the demonstration purposes only."

This is what sarit said:

"If security concerns were not an issue, I'm sure you could secure a majority to split Jerusalem, but I highly doubt you would be able to secure a majority to give away control of the Wall."

And the whole point of my arguement was that probably even for sarit the religious significance of the wall is not so absolute and unconditional if there would be a real chance to reach an agreement. But i did nt say , in fact in none of my posts, that this is the situation right now

Posted by: nobody at September 1, 2006 06:25 AM

Michael Smith said:
"The Palestinians have no more right to a state than did the American Confederacy in 1860. There is no such thing as the right to create any sort of government that violates individual rights."

I respectfully disagree. If this were true, we'd have to say that Israel has no right to exist beause it violates the rights of individuals (not all individuals, but SOME: i.e., the Palestinians). Look, I don't like an idea of a state where the ruling party is Hamas any more than you do, but it we are only talking about morality and justice, then how is it moral to deny the Palestinians the right for self-determination? It may not be in Israel's interest (or at least many in Israel would think so), but let's not pretend that it has anything to do with morality.

Bad Vilbel: couldn't agree with you more!

Posted by: allpeaceallthetime at September 1, 2006 08:10 AM

Rosignol, the American army in the Mexican-American war had actually won the country almost all the way to Mexico City. When the Americans presented a peace treaty with the Rio Grande as a boundary, the Mexicans were delighted to give up just Caifornia -- they had thought it would be a lot worse. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the newspapers screamed that the U.S. should never agreed to the border....

The real reason was that the U.S. needed a secure, agreed-to border with Mexico: Nine days after the Mexican-American treaty was signed, it was announced that significant gold deposits had been found in the mountains of California, and the '48 gold rush was on.

Did the signers of the treaty with Mexico give away the land south of the Rio Grande to ensure their rights to the land north of it because of the gold? There's no historical proof. But let's just say the circumstances are very, very suspicious.

Posted by: Diana at September 1, 2006 08:27 AM

Rosignol, (in response to your long comment)

I think we agree, then, basically. I have nothing more to add there.

Maor,

Again, I agree. I totally understand not wanting to withdraw from the WB TODAY, out of security concerns, not wanting to reward terrorism etc. That's a given. I'm more interested in the long term, if/when security is not an issue, on principle alone, Israelis accept letting go of the WB. And it's good to know that most do (on principle).

Michael Smith,

The "putting words in my mouth" was not directed at you. It was directed at that other guy who kept calling me names for stating my opinions.

As for your comment about who has the right to what state. I respectfully disagree. Any people, in my opinion, has a right to a state. I don't have to like the way such a state is run, but I have to accept a people's right to self-determination (mind you, if they lob missiles on another state, that's not acceptable). Who are you, or who am I to tell a people what moral values they should or should not practice in their state? That opens up a whole can of worms. Should Canada invade the US and refuse its right to exist because Abortion is illegal (or soon will be)? I happen to find a ban on abortion to be "morally reprehensible", but that doesn't mean the US has no right to a state. Nor does it mean other states, who do value abortion, should take it upon themselves to wipe out the US on that account. See what I mean?

Posted by: bad vilbel at September 1, 2006 09:48 AM

"Abortion is illegal (or soon will be)?"

It's not, and it won't soon be.

Posted by: Knemon at September 1, 2006 11:15 AM

Does anyone know the specs of Mr Totten's camera equipment?
Thanks.

Posted by: Simon at September 1, 2006 11:26 AM

"Interesting to read the oddly vacant rethoric of an Israeli right-winger."

It's still better than the explictly genocidal rhetoric of his Arab counterpart.

Posted by: Shmuel at September 1, 2006 11:36 AM

You guys are missing the point. I know abortion is legal right now. But for the sake of the argument, assume it isn't (in some country) and that the neighbouring country seems to think it's a moral obscenity...

Posted by: bad vilbel at September 1, 2006 11:41 AM

The Palestinians always (say they) want the "last deal" offered, which they (or their Arabs puppet-masters) have already rejected.

The lesson from the Gaza pull-out, reinforced by Hezbollah: "land for peace" is a formula that doesn't work. Israel gives up land, but doesn't get peace.

Maybe "disproportionate" mass bombing, without long term occupation, will work?

On giving up the Wall or not, here's note from a British debate in 2002:
"The first issue is territory. At Taba, all of Gaza, 95 per cent. of the west bank and, as I understand it, a 3 to 5 per cent. land swap was offered. Whether the amount was 3 or 5 per cent. may become a big issue, but I cannot believe that a deal would stand or fall on that. Secondly, there is the solution of the refugee problem. The choices offered at Taba were that refugees could stay in the new Palestinian state, move to the area that would be given to the Palestinian state in the land swap, and some could return to Israel on a limited annual basis or go to a third country. Various countries had offered to take people and that seemed to be acceptable.

The third big issue was Jerusalem. At Taba, the offer was that Jerusalem should remain an open city that would be the capital of both the Israeli and Palestinian states. East Jerusalem would be the capital of the Palestinian state and the rest of Jerusalem would stay as the capital of Israel. Also on offer was a regime for the administration of religious sites. The Palestinian state would have jurisdiction over the top of Temple Mount, which is the location of the two mosques that are important to it, and the Israelis would have jurisdiction over the Wailing wall below. I am sure that some complicated legal fine print enabled that deal to be put to bed. Nevertheless, the principles, and more than just the principles, were put in place.

It was agreed that an international commission should handle the question of compensation. There are complications regarding that matter, but, once again, I cannot believe that, if a deal was on the table for everything except compensation, some way could not be found to resolve the matter."

Now, here's the problem BV -- the Palestinian people might want a peace deal (or a state), and accecpt THIS deal, but the Palestinian leaders might not. Do leaders have a "right" to make collective decisions, binding on a "people", even against the people's will? [Do the Sudanese leaders have the right to support genocide against black Muslims in Darfur?]

Abbas seemed to be inching toward a democratic decision, thru referendum, that would bypass the Hamas leaders. I think the EU, now promissing $500 in Aid, should require such a referendum. And aid only if the vote is for peace.

Such a referendum would allow Hamas to change policy without changing themselves or giving up power.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 1, 2006 12:17 PM

Tom Grey,

What an excellent post. And your question about leaders vs. people getting to accept or reject a deal is one that cuts to the heart of the matter.

Me? I'd take that deal, as you spell it out, word for word. I think ultimately, it's something of that sort which will have to be accepted by both sides.

Let's face it. Israel has been willing to accept that deal for a while now. I'm guessing most other arab states (the moderates, excluding Syria) would accept a deal like that (seems fairly similar to the Saudi '02 plan) and it seems to address all of the issues, and provide a happy medium for everybody (Which is the key to any good compromise deal).

Let's also face it. The people who do NOT want to see this sort of deal are the extremists, the all-or-nothing camp: Hamas and Syria, in this case.

Syria is being marginalized as we speak. And hopefully, will be put in a position where it doesn't matter anymore.
As for Hamas/Abbas/Palestinians, you are totally correct here. Do you want the leaders to make a decision, based on what? Should it be Abbas (who i think would take such a deal)? Should it be Hamas (which wouldn't)? Or should we ask the Palestinian people themselves? Me? I'd want to ask the people, hold a referendum. That would establish once and for all what the majority of the people want (and not what a loud vocal extremist movement might want to dictate).

Something to consider though: Who gets to vote in said referendum? Gazans and West Bankers? Do you include the Palestinians in Lebanon and elsewhere? Those refugees have very different priorities (right of return) than the ones in Gaza and the West Bank, I'd argue.

Much remains to be seen, but as you've suggested, there ARE still viable paths to peace here. The situation is not completly lost (I hope).

Posted by: bad vilbel at September 1, 2006 12:33 PM

Why are we wasting time and money on Israel? I say we just withdraw and stop giving mony and arms to Israel and make an agreement with the Muslims. We wont meddle in the middle east and you can do what you want to Israel. In return you dont export islamic terrorism to the west. Why should we care about Israel?? If jews want to send money to support Israel that is their right but the US government should not as it makes US citizens who dont give a shit about the middle east into innocent targets. Shit happened to the Jews 50 years back but Israel has done more than its share of shit to the Arabs so there really should not be anymore feelings of guilt forcing us to support Israel. As far as having a reliable ally in the Middle East we have Turkey and we will soon have Iraq . Who needs Israel?

Posted by: P G at September 1, 2006 12:56 PM

To be honest Tom i think we have as many situations in which leaders pursue unreasonable policies against the people's will as situations in which just the opposite is true.

For example i have a strong impression that our peace deal with egypt would be abolished from the moment the mubarak regime would go away. The same is with the palestinians. When interviewed on tv , in front of the cameras, all people say that they are just dying to make peace. But practically it means nothing.

The majority of the palestinians are not ready to compromise in any way on the right of return. Its not just the leaders.

On another hand i am under strong impression that the palestinians have discovered a new national hero these days. His name is Hassan Nasrallah and his pictures decorate every window in Gaza City as it was once with Saddam.

The impression is also that tunnel digging and smuggling in anti tank missiles have become major sports in places under the PA control. I think it points out to the very obvious direction our relationships with the palestinians are taking now. My intuition is that this stuff would dominate our realtionships for at least next 3-5 years

Posted by: nobody at September 1, 2006 01:09 PM

BV said:

Any people, in my opinion, has a right to a state. I don't have to like the way such a state is run, but I have to accept a people's right to self-determination (mind you, if they lob missiles on another state, that's not acceptable).

There is no such thing as “a people’s right to self-determination“, apart from the right to establish a state in which the government protects the individual rights of the citizens. “A people’s right to self-determination” cannot include the right to establish a state that violates rights. For instance, “a people’s right to self-determination” did not give the German people of 1930 the right to establish a Nazi state and proceed with the extermination of 6 million Jews.

Or do you disagree with that? Did “a people’s right to self-determination” give the Germans the right to form a Nazi state and do all the things the Nazi’s did? If your answer is yes, then you are asserting that some people have the right to violate rights -- an utterly -self-contradictory statement. If your answer is no, then you agree that no such thing as “a people’s right to self-determination” can justify allowing the Palestinians to establish what they want to establish.

I will address the rest of your post, but first I would like you to answer the question above.

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 1, 2006 01:55 PM

Michael Smith,

Interesting point. Obviously, my answer to the Nazis having the right to violate rights is that it is unacceptable. Human rights should never be violated.

In the case of Nazis or similar "states" that would exterminate a group of people, the answer is obvious.

The answer becomes a bit more nebulous once you start talking about some rights that aren't as clear cut as life and death, such as my abortion example, or any similar rights that fall within the notion of morality (abortion, adultery, homosexuality, and so on).
Does your logic still apply to those? My turn to ask for an answer :)
Would you, based on your definition of morality want to invade a country that bans adultery? Just because you happen to believe that adultery is ok?
(again it's an example). How about countries with the death penalty (like the US)? What if that's considered a violation of human rights by some?

Sounds like we need to decide where the line is drawn.

You bring up very good points though and questions of morality and rights. Thanks for the sane debate.

Posted by: bad vilbel at September 1, 2006 04:05 PM

well B.V.

you have just fallen into a trap. I just bring here a few quotes from the Hamas charter. This is parthy what michael smith probably had in mind.

article 7
"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem)."

article 11

"The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?

This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement."

Posted by: nobody at September 1, 2006 04:27 PM

P G, @ 12:56 PM

If you think Turkey has been a reliable ally or that Iraq will soon be a reliable ally, you are royally fscked.

As far as wasting time and money on Israel. The US spent 600 times on the Iraq war. Israel does the R&D for US weapons development. Israel does the R&D for Intel and IBM. Israel does the R&D for major pharma companies. So yeah, I want Israel on my team. As far Turkey and Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, etc, I think they're dead weight. They get more aid than Israel does and all we get from them is more Koranimals breading.

Posted by: redaktor at September 1, 2006 04:34 PM

nobody,

I understood Michael Smith's point, and realized that my rather general pronouncements that "people have a right to self-determination" was a fallacy, because, as he pointed out, people should not have the right to eliminate other people, or whatever (which I am guessing is your point here?) And I agree with Michael on that. I don't think anyone has the right to exterminate another people based on a belief (religious or otherwise).

I'd still like to hear his answer when things are not as clearcut as eliminating an entire populace. Does his logic still apply when we're talking about a country or a populace, that chooses to live by certain rules of morality that you don't agree with? (My abortion/homosexuality examples)

Posted by: bad vilbel at September 1, 2006 05:46 PM

V.B.

I usually dont discuss things theoretical or abstract. You are asking about border cases and i expect M.S. to answer this.

On my part i noticed your last post and so i just pointed your attention to the fact that a nation that expresses its national aspirations thru movements like Hamas does nt have the right to self determination by your own logic.

Since we are not talking about abortions , homosexualilty or whatever. We are talking about a movement that uses the hadith of the garkhad tree as its vision for the final destination of the Israel Arab dispute.

We are talking about a movement that claims that any land, and any means any, captured under the khalifs is not subject to any negotiations or territorial compromises. Which indirectly means that any such land should be recovered by the nation of islam to the last inch of it.

Also i assume that in the same way that there is a general misunderstanding about the nature of Hezbollah which i observed on many lebanese blogs there is a general misunderstanding about the nature of hamas itself. Otherwise i have no explanations why some people suggest that hamas should just update its manifesto and everything would be fine.

Hamas is not a political party in the western sense. Its a fundamentalist movement based on a particular interpretation of the islamic religion. Hamas charter is not a political program in the usual sense of the word, rather its a compilation of various sources of the islamic tradition in view of the Israeli Arab conflict. For Hamas to disavow any part of its charter is no easier than converting to buddhism or reelecting their prophet.

So the situation is very clear - in light of what you said before , you should admit that by electing hamas the palestinians made their right to self determination lose its legitimacy for the time being.

Posted by: nobody at September 1, 2006 06:18 PM

nobody,

I agree with all that. I think both Hamas and Hezbollah and anyone like them need to go away.

That's about as simple as I can put it. :)

Posted by: bad vilbel at September 1, 2006 08:33 PM

bad vilbel,

What does that mean, they need to go away? Do we now need to wait till they all kindly explode themselves away in our planes buses malls, etc?

Posted by: redaktor at September 1, 2006 08:52 PM

I've said time and again, i don't have a solution. I don't know HOW.

"Go away" is just a way of saying we'd all be better off if they disappeared, vanished, ceased to exist.

Posted by: bad vilbel at September 1, 2006 10:26 PM

BV asked:

Would you, based on your definition of morality want to invade a country that bans adultery? Just because you happen to believe that adultery is ok?

Well, there are two somewhat different questions here: 1) Under what conditions should one country take action against another? 2) What sort of country does any particular group of people have the right to form?

Let me give a relatively short answer to number 1 in this post. I will provide a much longer response to 2 in another post.

I would advocate action against another country if they posed a threat to mine. Obviously, the mere fact that a country has improper laws against, say, adultery and abortion, does not make them a threat. So no, I would not invade such a country.

But a country based on an ideology (such as Baathist Fascism or Islam) that denies the very existence of rights is a different matter. Such a nation is inherently dangerous; if they are willing to violate the rights of their own citizens, they won’t hesitate to violate the rights of citizens of another country. A free nation always has the right to take action against such a regime -- the question is when to do so and what action to take. Here there are many options.

I would say the moment such a country makes clear that it has both the means and intent to export its ideology (by invading its neighbors such as Iraq did to Iran and Kuwait, or by financing proxy-totalitarians such as Iran has done with Hizbullah), then they move beyond being a potential threat. They are now an existential threat and -- in most cases -- the wise thing to do is stop them as soon as possible.

There are lots of options for stopping them. As you know, the one option I am opposed to is the use of partial, limited war, such as we are trying to do in Iraq, and such as Israel tried to do against Hizbullah. Far better to use overwhelming force -- and go after the root of the problem: Iran and Syria.

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 2, 2006 09:00 AM

We have agreed that no one can claim, on the grounds of “the right to self-determination”, the right to set up a nation that violates the rights of its citizens.

But what are “rights”? Where do we draw the line between what government can and cannot do? And what kind of state can one claim the right to establish?

My position on rights is the one articulated by Ayn Rand in her philosophy of Objectivism. While a full elaboration of her view of rights is beyond the scope of a single post in these comments, I can give you the basics: Objectivism holds that man’s rights are a function of his nature as a rational being (“man” here means man in the general sense, i.e. all human beings) . A “rational being” is a being that possess the faculty of reason, whether or not he chooses to exercise it.

As a rational being, reason is man’s means of survival. To provide for his most basic needs requires a process of thought. Even to find a cave, to find wild fruit, to find water, all require a process of thought. To achieve survival above the level of a savage requires an even greater process of thought: man must use reason to discover how to produce what his survival requires.

All human survival ultimately depends on the use of the mind. Granted, some people choose not to think and instead survive by repeating a routine of work invented by someone else -- but unless someone else did think and invent that routine, no one would survive. Granted, some humans survive by stealing what others produce, but unless someone had used a process of thought to produce the goods, there would be nothing for them to steal. Unless someone, somewhere, thinks, no one, anywhere, is going to survive.

What, if any, are the implications of this for human coexistence? Here we come to Rand’s view of the purpose of the concept of “rights”. The purpose of the concept of rights is to define the conditions, vis-à-vis other men, required for individual, rational beings to coexist and survive as rational beings. And the basic condition that must prevail for rational beings to coexist is freedom, specifically, freedom from the initiation of physical force.

The initiation of physical force is the one thing one human being can do to another to interrupt, interfere or terminate his use of reason to survive. (And physical force comes in many forms, including in the form of threats, in the form of fraud, etc.). Force and the reasoning mind are opposites. Observe that those who initiate the use of force always do so to overturn the verdict of your mind. A thief initiates the use of force to steal your property because he knows that your mind will not agree to surrender it voluntarily. A killer initiates the use of force because he knows that your mind will not surrender your life voluntarily. Initiating the use of force terminates the process of reason, the basic process that makes human life possible. If the life of a rational being is the standard of value (as Objectivism holds it to be), then the initiation of force is evil.

Therefore, the basic right possessed by all individuals is the right to be free from the initiation of force ( in any of its forms, including fraud). Put another way, one basic rule must prevail in a civilized society: no one may initiate, repeat initiate, the use of physical force (or its derivatives such as fraud) against others. Man’s other rights, such as the right to own property, the right to free speech, etc, are derivatives of this basic right.

Rand puts it like this: For man to survive as a rational being, it is right that he be free to think, it is right that he be free to produce what he needs, and it is right that he be allowed to keep what he produces. This is the source of his right to be free of the initiation of physical force and of the corollary rights to property, etc.

According to Objectivism, the only proper use of force is in retaliation against those who initiate its use. And the purpose of government is to protect the individual rights of the citizens by using retaliatory force against those who initiate its use. To fulfill this function, there are three basic tasks that government should undertake: 1) Maintain a police force and a criminal justice system to protect men from those who initiate force. 2) Maintain a system of civil courts to adjudicate non-criminal disputes; 3) Maintain a national defense to protect the citizens against foreign threats. (Oh yes, government is doing much, much more than this today -- but these are its only valid functions, the only ones that can be defended on the basis of reason.)

Objectivism holds that all proper relationships between individuals -- be they economic, social, sexual or otherwise -- must be voluntary, and as long as they are, the terms and conditions of those relationships are no one’s business except the participants. Thus, questions about homosexuality, adultery, marriage, etc,. are none of the government’s business. Likewise, it is none of the government’s business what I choose to put into my body -- just as it is none of the government’s business what I choose to put into my mind -- though if I take a drug that causes me to physically damage others, I will be held responsible for it. Until or unless someone initiates the use of force or fraud, government has no role to play and no business being involved.

The issue of abortion turns on a single question: What constitutes a human being? Objectivism’s answer is that an embryo is not a human being, it is only a potential human being, just as an acorn is not an oak tree. Objectivism holds that a potential cannot possess any sort of rights that trump the rights of an actual human being -- that as long as the object in question is a mass of tissue growing in the woman’s body, she may dispose of it as she pleases, just as she may dispose of any other part of her body.

Now this is only a fraction of what Objectivism has to say on these issues, but let me stop here to make a different point.

The opposing point of view on these issues is primarily religious in nature; its argument proceeds not from reason but from faith. Objectivism rejects the concept of faith as being utterly arbitrary. Faith is belief in the absence of reason or in spite of reason. But if faith is valid, then anything goes. Anyone can claim to believe anything based on faith.

And here is what the religious right is desperate to evade. With faith, reason is out the door, and there is no way to evaluate any one faith versus another. All faith-based claims are of equal validity. A Christian’s faith that God wants him to spread the story of Jesus is no more valid or defensible than a terrorist’s faith that Allah wants him to fly airliners into skyscrapers. Put it another way: The terrorist attack of 9/11 was a faith-based initiative.

Faith is the fatal weakness of the religious right. When I hear Bush claim that man’s rights are a gift from god, I want to scream. He is conceding the jihadist’s most basic premise: that man shall be ruled by edicts issued by a supernatural entity, and that the only thing to settle is which claims and which interpretation of those edicts will prevail.

Objectivism holds reason as an absolute and rejects faith completely. Objectivism holds that for man the rational being, the only proper social organization is a free society, in which the initiation of physical force is banned, and government’s function is restricted to using retaliatory force in order to protect individual rights.

The above is a bare-bones introduction to Objectivism. I hope you will choose to learn more about it. Objectivism is the reason-based alternative to the religious mysticism of the right and the nihilistic subjectivism of the left. You can go here LINK to learn more about it.

Sorry for the long post, but I felt it necessary to provide at least a basic justification for the concept of rights.

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 2, 2006 09:23 AM

Michael Smith,

Thank you for that elaborate post. I don't know if anyone else is interested enough to read it, but I was. I am quite familiar with Objectivism, as a matter of fact, and really enjoyed reading your take on it, and your very fair and even-handed commentary. I am sure I can think up a few points to further this conversation, but my time right now is short, so I'll leave it be for now, while wholeheartedly agreeing with most of your comments.

There are some parts, with regards to the use of force impeding on someone else's rights, and the "faith-based initiative" which I particularly applaud while finding relevant to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (among others). I'll get more into that later.

It is also refreshing to see someone put into clear words the notion that President Bush's "faith-based initiative", as you called it, draws its roots from a similar psyche as that of a jihadist, namely "that man shall be ruled by edicts issued by a supernatural entity". There are those out there (probably reading this very comment) who will get their panties in a twist, and start accusing me (or you) of morally equating the President with a Jihadist, while entirely missing the point.

Posted by: bad vilbel at September 2, 2006 12:04 PM

Mr. Smith, I will give YOU a tip of the PayPal jar if you will stop with the freshman philosophy rants.

BV -elaborate post? Perhaps, but fewer words with less syllables tends to be a more effective method of making ones point.

One of the reasons that MT's reporting (hope he doesn't take offense at the term) is so great is that he is objective (no quibbling please) and is concerned with "just the facts ma'am". Oh, and he is passionate about the topic, writes very well and appears to have developed an impressive breadth and depth of sources.

Agree with addressing the terrorist problem with overwhelming military force against Syria and Iran, but first, or at least concurrently, kill all the Arabic Muslim Terrorists you can find. (BTW, if Chinese Buddhist Terrorists, or South American Pagan Terrorists were the threat to the world that Arabic Muslim Terrorists were, I would use those descriptive terms)

Improving education, the economy, freedoms and equality (including women), building a physical infrastructure and other similar "root" elements are needed for the long-term in the Middle East, but first things first.

Ayn Rand, please... the next post might as well be a rambling discourse on Existential Rationalism, or just as valid, how many angels dance on the head of a pin.

Ron

Posted by: Ron at September 2, 2006 03:04 PM

"and make an agreement with the Muslims. We wont meddle in the middle east and you can do what you want to Israel. In return you dont export islamic terrorism to the west."

The crocodile will eat you last ...

Posted by: Knemon at September 2, 2006 07:26 PM

BV,
The problem of self-determination is very intriguing. My attitude is to support democracy in general, and to see self-determination as a result of increasing democracy.
For instance, Palestinian voters (and Israeli voters) would prefer a Palestinian democracy to a binational democracy. So a democratic Palestinian state is the most democratic solution, and that's where the "right" of self-determination comes from. A non-democratic Palestinian state would not increase democracy, so in my system there is no right to one.

Michael Smith's idea of self defense determining whether one country can attack another sounds very logical, although it leads to the troubling conclusion that nobody can prevent genocide in countries such as Rwanda and Sudan (not that anyone seems to want to, unfortunately). There is an international treaty that obligates countries to stop genocide (but not, say, abortions), so maybe that provides a right to invade.

Posted by: maor at September 3, 2006 03:38 AM

Ron said:

Mr. Smith, I will give YOU a tip of the PayPal jar if you will stop with the freshman philosophy rants.

Ayn Rand, please... the next post might as well be a rambling discourse on Existential Rationalism, or just as valid, how many angels dance on the head of a pin.

Ron, if you can refute anything I said, or any part of Rand's philosophy, I will gladly read it and respond. I wonder, however, what you really know about Rand's philosophy, first hand that is. What, specifically, do you disagree with and why? What are YOUR arguments and reasons?

For instance, if you disagree with Rand's advocacy of reason as an absolute, what do you propose to use in its place? Non-reason? Faith?

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 3, 2006 06:12 AM

No thanks Michael, I had enough of the cult of Ayn in school. Though I do remember enjoying reading both "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged". Good discussions in Philosophy 101, but in my opinion not pertinent to this blog or the Middle East. So yes, at one point in time I was quite familiar with "Objectivism" but have moved on.

My arguments and opinions are focused on the reality of the Middle East, Terrorists and threats against my country and the world. At least to the extent that I can understand what that "reality" is.

Ron

Posted by: Ron Snyder at September 4, 2006 05:44 AM

Man, oh man, oh man, Mr. Smith is a Randite.
Does that ever explain a lot.

Memo: there are no natural, inherent, or universal "rights", for anyone in the world, Mr. Smith - only agreements.

Posted by: glasnost at September 4, 2006 08:39 PM

Memo: there are no natural, inherent, or universal "rights", for anyone in the world, Mr. Smith - only agreements.

Yup. If you look at the practicalities of how most of this planet works, you'll find a lot of supporting evidence that view, and damn little for the notion tht there is such a things as "natural, inherent' or universal 'rights'", especially in the middle east*.

*attempting to drag the thread back on-topic...

Posted by: rosignol at September 5, 2006 11:58 PM

glasnost said:

Man, oh man, oh man, Mr. Smith is a Randite.
Does that ever explain a lot.

Memo: there are no natural, inherent, or universal "rights", for anyone in the world, Mr. Smith - only agreements.

You must learn to distinguish between reality and what men are willing and/or able to acknowledge about reality.

To say that there are no inherent rights, is to say that there is no right way for man to live -- that man may live whether he is free to think and produce or whether he is enslaved under a totalitarian regime. Is that what you believe? Can YOU live, prosper and achieve happiness under, say, a regime like the Taliban had in Afghanistan? Is life as a slave just as right for man as life as a free being?

The fact is that man, like all living species, has a specific method of survival -- he lives by using his mind. Would you maintain that a bird can live without its ability to fly? Can a fish survive out of water? Can a plant survive without sunlight? No. Nor can man survive if he is not free to think and produce what he needs.

It is true that there is no guarantee that the right way for man to live, i.e. his rights, will necessarily be recognized and respected by others. This does not mean they do not exist.

By the way, describing me as a “Randite” does not refute or answer my arguments (or hers) in any way. It only confesses that you do not, in fact, have any answers or reasons or actual arguments to offer.

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 7, 2006 04:58 AM

rosignol said:

Yup. If you look at the practicalities of how most of this planet works, you'll find a lot of supporting evidence that view, and damn little for the notion tht there is such a things as "natural, inherent' or universal 'rights'", especially in the middle east*.

Fair enough, let's look at the "practicalities" of how things work. All across the globe, regardless of culture or geography, we see that the greater the degree of freedom a country enjoys, i.e. the greater the protection of man’s rights, the greater the level of prosperity achieved by its people.

We see that freedom works, and that statism -- be it fascism, socialism, communism, theocracy or any form of totalitarianism that suppresses man's rights -- is a miserable failure, generally in proportion to how consistently it is applied.

We've seen all these forms of statism fail spectacularly, everywhere from England (socialism), Germany (fascism), Russia (communism), Japan (imperialism) -- and we have seen that everywhere these doctrines are abandoned and a country moves toward greater freedom and recognition of man's rights, greater prosperity results.

So what do you conclude from this? That there is no particular right way for man to live? It doesn’t matter what sort of constraints are put on him, he can survive just fine under any old system that comes along? Is that your conclusion from history’s examples?

If man, in fact, does not have inherent rights, then why are the practical results so drastically different when these non-existent rights are recognized and protected versus the results under those systems that infringe and deny them?

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 7, 2006 05:15 AM

Ron said:

No thanks Michael, I had enough of the cult of Ayn in school. Though I do remember enjoying reading both "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged". Good discussions in Philosophy 101, but in my opinion not pertinent to this blog or the Middle East.

You think the issue of man's rights and the proper functions of government vis-à-vis those rights is not relevant to the situation in the Middle East?

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 7, 2006 05:27 AM

You think the issue of man's rights and the proper functions of government vis-à-vis those rights is not relevant to the situation in the Middle East?

It would be an unproductive discussion because none of us are in any position to change the situation. The various governments in the middle east don't know this blog exists, and couldn't care less about what is posted here- with the exception of Hizbullah, which isn't really a government (and that outfit is certainly not going to do anything on our say-so).

I daresay most of the commenters here (even the ones posting from the ME) agree that freedom is preferred to the alternatives for many reasons, and that most of the governments in the middle east are not being run for the benefit of their citizens, and that many of those governments are doing things that are directly detrimental to their citizen's well-being, but long-winded philosophical arguments about the benefits of freedom with people who basically agree with you is a waste of your time and ours.

Posted by: rosignol at September 7, 2006 11:46 PM

Rosignol said:

".......but long-winded philosophical arguments about the benefits of freedom with people who basically agree with you is a waste of your time and ours."

I must say I am confused by this response.

If you and the others "basically agree with me", why are you saying otherwise? Why, for instance, did you say, "there is damn little evidence for the notion that there is such a things as "natural, inherent' or universal 'rights'", especially in the middle east*. " -- if, in fact, you agree with me that man does indeed possess rights whether governments respect them or not?

Posted by: Michael Smith at September 9, 2006 05:50 AM

I can disagree with you regarding what is, while also thinking that what you think should be would be a vast improvement over the status quo.

Posted by: rosignol at September 12, 2006 12:42 AM

交易成功!您的交易流水号为HQH000082422390

Posted by: Ashkong at September 29, 2007 04:12 AM
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