September 13, 2006

“A Volcano of Terror”

Tank at Karni.jpg

SOUTHERN ISRAEL, NEAR GAZA - On June 25, 2006, eight armed Palestinian men emerged from an underground tunnel through a hard-to-see hole in the ground, fired an RPG at an Israeli tank, killed two soldiers, snatched another young soldier, Gilad Shalit, and stole him away into Gaza. The attack lasted seven minutes. The Israeli Defense Forces then launched Operation Summer Rain against the kidnappers, against those who fire Qassam rockets at Israeli civilians, and against those who dig tunnels under the earth so they can smuggle weapons out of Egypt and carry out terrorist attacks inside Israel.

Soldiers keep watch on the border at a small military outpost just south of Kibbutz Nir Am.

Gaza Lookout with Major.jpg

There I met Major Tal Lev-Ram, Spokesman for the IDF Southern Command. He unfurled an enormous map of Gaza and asked me please not to take any pictures of it. Code names for villages and neighborhoods were hand-written with red ink in Hebrew.

IDF Spokesman Southern Command.jpg

“When we left the Gaza Strip we didn’t think the terrorism would stop," he said. "We understood that there would no longer be any legitimacy for them to act. A year after they continue to re-arm. The terrorist groups -- Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad -- they did not turn the areas we left into schools, factories, and so on. They became training camps for the terrorist groups.”

The major knows passable English, but he chose to speak to me in Hebrew through a translator. I had hoped for an interview with an English-speaking officer. But none of the spokesman for the Southern Command are fluent in English. All the English speakers were sent to the Northern Command so they could talk to foreign media during the Lebanon war. Only Israeli journalists who write and broadcast in Hebrew showed much interest in the military confrontation in Gaza.

“We also left the Egypt-Gaza border," he said. "The Egyptians are responsible for it now. They are doing an okay job, but there is still a lot of smuggling and so on.”

“They’re using tunnels?” I said.

“We found two tunnels just two weeks ago," he said. "They are very organized, with electricity and everything. One city straddles the border. It’s basically one city on each side. They are digging tunnels to connect them.”

“Do the Egyptians shut down the tunnels?” I said.

“We spend great effort finding and exposing the tunnels," he said. "The Egyptians make an effort, but it is not the highest priority for them.”

I taped our conversation with a digital voice recorder, as is routine for me lately. A young Israeli soldier took notes by hand at the same time. Perhaps it was her job to make sure I did not misquote the spokesman. Or maybe she was checking on him. It's hard to say. I didn't ask her why she recorded everything, and no one in the military ever told me I need to clear my work with any censors.

“We have good defenses on the border fence," the major said. “Last year more than 70 terrorists were killed trying to breach it. Because the area is very confined, terrorism is brewing. They keep trying to find ways to go outside. It is like a volcano of terror. It needs to go somewhere. They try to go around, out into Egypt, and then over to the Israeli side. Sometimes they try to cross back in right next to Gaza. Other times they go down near Eilat [at the bottom of Israel.]”

Gaza is tiny. It's 30 or so miles long and only a few miles wide.

Israel Map.JPG

“[They try] to go around the border," he said, "in order to move information, training, and terrorists, and ammunition to their side from the West Bank. They are always trying to find ways to go around the Israeli border. They also fired something like 1,000 Qassam rockets since the disengagement until now. For no reason.”

“How many people have been killed by the Qassams?" I said.

“This year?" he said. "Zero."

Zero! No wonder the Israelis who live near Gaza haven't evacuated. Southern Israel at war is not like Northern Israel during Hezbollah's Katyusha war.

"But terror is terror," he said. "If you are afraid to send your child to a kindergarten, for me it’s the same. For now it’s the Qassam. In the future they will have more than today. 20 people in the past were killed by the Qassams. And like I said, terror is terror. You feel terror.”

I asked him if he thought the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was a good idea. He wouldn't answer and said that his opinion as a military man didn't matter. The Israeli military takes orders from the democratically elected government, and that's that.

“One of the major events after the disengagement," he did say, "was the election of Hamas. They became the government in the Gaza Strip. Their principal goal is to destroy Israel. And they actually commit terror. Israel can’t accept that we left the Gaza Strip and still face daily terror attacks on and over the fence. Around 60 times charges of 50 kilograms were exploded on the fence. Also RPG and M-16 attacks on the fence against our forces. On Passover an attempt was prevented to go into a Kibbutz near the Karni Terminal...The second event that had a significant role in changing the rules of the game was the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. We came to the decision that we need to take some sort of aggressive action in the Gaza Strip. The decision was to act against specific cells in different places. So we’re not talking about conquering land. We’re talking about operations of a few days each. We’re going in to destroy the infrastructure of terrorists. We can’t finish all the terror. But we can punch against it. During these operations more than 200 terrorists were killed. Weapons storages, training camps, all the infrastructure, factories where they make Qassam rockets.”

“How do you know where the factories are?" I said. "Do you have Palestinians informers?”

“We have good intelligence,” he said and laughed. “We have good military intelligence.”

It's no secret that many Palestinians cooperate (or "collaborate") with Israel against terrorists. But I decided to be a good sport and let him deflect the question. He wouldn't be able to say anything on the record that isn't already widely known anyway.

“Another pattern that’s unusual," he said. "They use the civilian population as human shields.” It's not really unusual. Hezbollah did the same thing in Lebanon. Fighters in Iraq do it there, too, although some in Iraq also deliberately murder Iraqis.

“Does the local population let them do this?” I said.

“It’s a problem," he said. "Sometimes we see resistance. But it’s difficult to judge from our perspective. We see a lot of cases where Katyusha or Qassam rockets are fired from within populated areas. More than that, they came up with a system that was based on the fear that we would find the exact location of the rocket launchers. So they place the launchers with a timer. And ten, eleven, and twelve year old children come and take the launcher away afterwards. Often we’re faced with fourteen or fifteen year old youth who come, armed, and place charges along the fence. When we see them, even when we see that they are armed, if they are only fourteen or fifteen we only shoot to scare them. We don’t actually fire at them. Of course, only if there is no immediate danger to our forces.

“Our general instructions," he continued, "not just in the these cases, is if we see a militant who is armed, a terrorist, and there is no immediate danger to our forces, we don’t fire if there is a danger that we would hurt the innocents, people who are not involved. But with that, it’s important to say that when we have such aggressive fighting in populated areas, when there’s an exchange of fire between terrorists and the IDF, there are cases where innocent people get hurt. But we warn as much as we can to step back, step away, to clear the area. So we see the terror organizations as responsible when civilians get hurt. And when there is a case and we know that a civilian was killed by mistake or unnecessarily, we check ourselves. When a rocket is fired and we respond with artillery fire, there could be civilians hurt. We don’t fire into populated areas. Only to the exact spots where they fired Qassams. If it’s in the middle of the city, we will not shoot.”

Sadly it's impossible to fight terrorists, guerillas, or whatever you want to call them, in populated areas without hurting civilians. No one has yet invented the Bad Guy Bullet that flies safely past innocents and hits only the armed. The fact that Palestinian terrorists, like those everywhere else in the Middle East, make blending in with the civilian population part of their modus operandi means civilian casualties are unavoidable in a fight. It doesn't help that Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth.

“About a month and a half ago," he said, "another event that shows you the dilemma here: Two terrorists with an RPG tried to shoot a tank. We shot back. In the same house the mother of them, and a cousin, were in the same house. They fired five meters away from where the mother and cousin were standing. The Palestinian headline said that a mother and child were killed. The child was twenty two years old. And he was a member of Hamas. So, I am not happy about the mother. But, this is my right. You know? In the houses of Hamas militants, and all the other terrorist organizations, there are storages of weaponry. That’s because in the past we would avoid attacking houses with families. Which raises the question: Sometimes we as the IDF care more about the families and the children than he who would put them in danger. In a house, let’s say of three floors, a whole floor may be used as a storage.”

A tunnel had recently been found near the Karni terminal where goods and materials cross from Israel into Gaza. I asked if I could see it.

“I will take you to Karni," he said. "But you cannot see the tunnel. It is inside the Palestinian territory. One kilometer inside. You understand? It is one kilometer inside the Palestinian territory." In other words, the tunnel diggers are determined. They will spend Lord only knows how many hours digging and digging and digging, knowing most tunnels are discovered before they're completed, just on the off chance that they'll make it all the way into Israel and get to maybe kill one or two people.

“One more thing I want to say," he said. "We will not stop the military action until Gilad Shalit comes back to us. But -- and I say this to the press all the time -- if there will be silence on our side for our villages it will be quiet on the Palestinian side.”

"How many soldiers have been killed since Gilad Shalit was kidnapped?" I said.

“All the year, before Gilad Shalit, no one. In the Shalit event, two soldiers died. And after that one more soldier died from friendly shooting. That’s all. So this is the big question for them. The spokesman of the government for Palestinians three days ago said the same thing I say all the time. For what? For what? For three soldiers who were killed in Gaza. In all the year something like 500 terrorists died in Gaza. So for what? The organizations of terror need to understand that it’s not worth it for them. And they can choose. We left the territory in the Gaza Strip, so it’s up to them. We will not stop the Qassam only with military pressure. They need to decide that they want to stop it. And if they will stop the Qassams, if they will stop the terror, free Gilad Shalit, we won’t have anything to fight about. And Karni will be open more. And everything will be better for them, not for us. This is the question. This is the biggest question, I think. And if you have time to read what the spokesman for Hamas government said, I think he can replace me.” He laughed. “Yeah? This is the truth. He is a good man.”

And he laughed again. Not because he was joking, but because it truly is an alternate Middle Eastern universe when the spokesman for Hamas echoes precisely the views of the spokesman for the IDF Southern Command.

Skeptical? Read for yourself. Hamas Spokesman Ghazi Hamad comes across like a world-weary man ground down and plainly despondent from a largely self-imposed Palestinian catastrophe.

I had a faint hope after Hamas was elected that the reality check from hell might finally kick in. And at least in one case, and for one day, it did.


The major drove to an area near the Karni Terminal in his jeep.

Karni Terminal Sign.jpg

I followed behind him in my rental car. He took us straight into a dirt field. I nearly took the muffler off my poor little Hundai when I drove over a basketball-sized dirt clod as hard as a rock. We stepped out into the open where there was no shade from the fierce Levantine sun at the end of the summer. Distant machine gun fire was almost, but not quite, drowned out in the wind.

"Kalashnikov," said my translator who, like many Israelis, can identify weapons by sound.

A large truck-mounted surveillance camera monitored Gaza just to our left.

Gaza Surveillance Truck.jpg

"Two days ago was Gilad Shalit's birthday," said the major. “One soldier from his unit said he was glad to be in Gaza fighting the people who took him. His family and friends released hundreds of balloons into the air from the place where he was kidnapped.”

I wanted to know about that tunnel the IDF found.

“The plan was to use it for suicide bombings at Karni,” he said. “I can’t understand it. Karni is their lifeline, their life. This is the biggest reason we closed it. It’s hard to understand why they keep doing these things at the crossing points unless they are trying to make life harder in Gaza.”

Two months ago Palestinian police stopped a car bomber heading toward Karni. Six months ago the IDF stopped three terrorists with M-16s, grenades, and suicide bomb belts at the Erez crossing point where people, rather than goods, transit into and out of Gaza.

“We think there are many many more tunnels," the major said. "The Kelem Shalom action [where Gilad Shalit was kidnapped] was through a 700 meter-long tunnel. We can’t just stay here and wait for the tunnels to come to us. In a few hours we will bomb that one we just found."

And bomb it they did, from below. Click here to watch the video.

"How many Qassam rockets are they firing now?" I said. I saw more than a dozen Katyushas fired from Hezbollah in the north, but I did not see a single Qassam fired from Gaza.

“Sixty per week at the start of Operation Summer Rain," he said. "Ever since the number has been going down. Now there are only five per week. Hamas has partly put a stop to this because they know terror does not work for them.”

"How good are the fighters in Gaza compared with the Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon?" I said.

“I don’t mean to dismiss anyone," he said. "Some fights are serious here. But you can’t compare them with Hezbollah. Hezbollah has more weapons and uses more guerilla activity. Hamas doesn’t have big rockets yet. Yet. The word yet is very important. Hezbollah also is more organized. You shouldn’t underestimate anyone. We had some people wounded in the fight here. Some in Gaza fight very good. But we killed hundreds of terrorists since Summer Rain. We had only one soldier killed in friendly fire, and ten to twelve wounded.”

"How long until this fight is over?" I said. I meant the current fighting in Gaza, but he seemed to have thought I meant the Arab-Israeli conflict in general.

“I don’t see the end now," he said. "Maybe this part will be soon be finished. Shalit will be back. For a while it will be quiet. The question, you know, is for the other side. Because we went out of Gaza and then it started. If they get more democratic and reduce the chaos…that’s my hope. We need to be strong and give a chance for something else. It’s in the interest of the Palestinian side now to have another life.”

We left the field and drove straight to the fence. I wanted to get as close to Gaza as possible. We parked next to large concrete wall placed there for protection.

"So this wall," I said. "Is it to protect us from snipers or from rockets?

“From everything," the major said. Barriers of all kinds are erected near the Palestinian territories. One road I took next to the West Bank was shielded on one side by bullet-proof glass because some Palestinians like to randomly shoot rifles at cars.

The fenced border between Israel and Gaza was right in front of us. The fence is electric. It won't shock you if you touch it. But it will send a signal to the Israeli military telling them where contact was made so they can dispatch soldiers to that location.

"What would you do," I said, "if you saw somebody from the other side walk up and stand right there?"

Gaza Through Barbed Wire 3.jpg

“Eh, it depends," he said.

"It depends on what he’s doing?" I said.

“Of course.”

"If he’s just standing there it’s not a problem?" I said.

“No, it’s a problem," he said. "Because sometimes they come like a citizen and they put charges there. If it’s in the day and we see a man, the soldiers come. If someone goes to the fence he has some reason. If we see some people come in the night we have a procedure. We start by shouting to them to go. But if they continue…okay? If it’s in the night, well you know, night is night. The thing is to make them understand not to come. Sometimes Palestinians come and want to go into Israel to work. They want to come into Israel not for military action but to come inside for working. But it is very complicated, especially in the night, to know who is the person."

"How many people who come to the fence aren't here to fight?" I said.

“Here is a sad story," he said. "One Palestinian went to the fence with a grenade. Not a militant. He came to the fence and we did not understand it. Because we told him to stop and he dropped it and everything was okay. Sometimes they want to be in the Israeli jail.”

"To get out of Gaza?" I said.

“Because maybe the food in the jail is better," he said. "I don’t know. It’s a few, it’s not, you know, all the time.”

Gaza itself is often described as a prison. The reason I didn't go in there myself is because I was briefly affiliated with Time magazine and they ordered me to stay out. They had neither the time nor the inclination to take out a war insurance policy on me. But a Danish journalist I know, Louis Stigsgaard Nissen, did get a brief tour of Gaza and she described it as an absolute horror, a far worse place than the West Bank which both of us had visited in the past.

Trash has not been collected for months, so much of Gaza City looks like a garbage dump that happens to have buildings inside it. The garbage is seeping now into the water. Israeli doctors are returning because the Palestinians desperately need medical help. She interviewed a man who lives in a sports stadium with his children. She was nearly run over in the street by a truck driven by gunmen and bristling with weapons.

Gaza Through Barbe Wire 2.jpg

"Is anyone really in charge inside Gaza?" I asked the major.

“That is the question," he said. "They have a government, but there is a power struggle among the armed groups.”

Once again we heard rapid machine gun fire in the middle distance. He and I stood right next to the concrete wall and could have taken cover. But the shooting had nothing to do with us and sounded just barely far enough away. So we didn’t move. It's funny what you get used to. I've never been in the army, and I'm unaccustomed to being in war zones. But it doesn't take long to get used to it.

“We have a connection with the Palestinian police and with the army," he said. "For example if we found some charges that they put on their side of the second fence the Palestinian police come to take it or to boom it. In the operations today because of the army, and the pressure, and the militants, there was a fire between us and the Palestinians next to a place where gasoline was stored and also some baby chickens, you know, the little ones. And we talked with the Palestinian police and they brought some trucks in to take them out. We saved them from the RPGs.”

He spoke in English now instead of through a translator, and I wasn't sure I understood.

"So the Israeli side and the Palestinian side cooperated in the middle of a war to save baby chickens?" I said. "And then started fighting again?"

“Not exactly," he said. "If you see the story as a simple one, yes. But the ones we talked with were not the ones shooting the RPGs. So it’s a very complicated story. But we talked with the police and the citizens talk with the army to help them. We told the citizens: Not now. It’s dangerous. The militants are firing RPGs.

Gaza Through Barbed Wire.jpg

“It is very strange," he continued. "But it is our world. It is us against them, but they are divided inside. This is the story of Gaza.”

Post-script: Please hit the Pay Pal button and help pay travel expenses for independent writing. I am not a rich person, and I can’t do this without help. I want to do more of this in the future, and I intend to go back to Lebanon soon. Other countries tentatively on my list include Iran, Algeria, Bosnia, Dubai, and Afghanistan.

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:

Michael Totten
P.O. Box 312
Portland, OR 97207-0312

Many thanks in advance.

All photos copyright Michael J. Totten

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 13, 2006 02:50 AM


Fantastic post, Michael. Your reporting is worth more than oceans of print from the mainstream media.

And you're fair, I've never known you not to be fair, even if I've maybe disagreed with you.

I'll re-activate my PenPal account just to contribute to more of it.

Posted by: Rob at September 13, 2006 04:10 AM

Michael writes about the "...largely self-imposed Palestinian catastrophe." Is this like the largely self-imposed Native American catastrophe that was only peripherally impacted by the US Cavalry, various Indian fighters, and numerous Indian wars before they finally acquiesed to their dispossession? Exactly!

Posted by: Alan Goldstein at September 13, 2006 04:10 AM

Fantastic post, Michael. Your reporting is worth more than oceans of print from the mainstream media.

I'll re-activate my PenPal account just to contribute to more of it.

You're fair, I've never known you not to be fair, even if I've maybe disagreed with you.

Posted by: Rob at September 13, 2006 04:11 AM

Sorry for the double comments.

Posted by: Rob at September 13, 2006 04:12 AM

Good post Michael. I am amazed about the extent of Israel's restraint; were it my country I would be not be so understanding nor concerned about taking out a house that had combatants in it.

I do not see what the Palestinians are doing for themselves to warrant having a country.


Posted by: Ron Snyder at September 13, 2006 04:48 AM


What a great interview. How come the talking heads never seem to find anyone as interesting and informed as the major you interviewed? I just learned more about the complexity of the situation inside Gaza than I learned in a year of watching major media.

Thanks for your hard work; just wish I could contribute more to help with these stories.


Posted by: Scott Davis at September 13, 2006 06:13 AM

Very interesting post.

It should be noted that an article in Haaretz explains that the piles of garbage you described only occur in Fatah dominated areas of Gaza - Hamas has enough money to look after its own, but not the rest of the population:

Posted by: David at September 13, 2006 07:45 AM

Alan Goldstein, you didn't read what the Hamas spokesman said, did you? Read it. Then ask yourself if you really, seriously, think he's wrong.

I can't believe I'm quoting Hamas to argue with a Westerner. But whatever. Just follow that link. That's why it's there.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 13, 2006 09:46 AM

Interesting ... but the more I read of the Israelis, the more bewildered I get. Take this Tal Lev-Ram, for instance. I'm sure he thinks he's a moral man making some kind of sense of his job. But when did the Palestinians ever acquire any "legitimacy"? They are not supposed to exist at all, because Israel is a land without a people, so what level of "legitimacy" can they ever have living with Israeli guards on every gate to Gaza, which you correctly observe is tiny? As slaves? As non-citizens living under apartheid? As animals? As citizens of some other country (which one)?

As for their determination to dig a tunnel for a whole kilometer, come on. They're in jail for the rest of their lives in that tiny little Gaza strip. They've got nothing better to do.

Posted by: Diana at September 13, 2006 09:50 AM

What the heck, Alan, I'll help you out. Here's what the Hamas spokesman said as reported by an Arab journalist.


'Gaza caught in anarchy and thuggery'

"When you walk in the streets of Gaza City, you cannot but close your eyes because of what you see there: unimaginable chaos, careless policemen, young men carrying guns and strutting with pride and families receiving condolences for their dead in the middle of the street."

This is how Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority government and a former newspaper editor, described the situation in the Gaza Strip in an article he published on Sunday on some Palestinian news Web sites.

The article, the first of its kind by a senior Hamas official, also questioned the effectiveness of the Kassam rocket attacks and noted that since Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip, the situation there has deteriorated on all levels. It holds the armed groups responsible for the crisis and calls on them to reconsider their tactics and to stop blaming Israel for their mistakes.

"Gaza is suffering under the yoke of anarchy and the swords of thugs," Hamad wrote. "I remember the day when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip and closed the gates behind. Then, Palestinians across the political spectrum took to the streets to celebrate what many of us regarded as the Israeli defeat or retreat. We heard a lot about a promising future in the Gaza Strip and about turning the area into a trade and industrial zone."

Hamad said the "culture of life" that prevailed in the Strip has since been replaced with a nightmare. "Life became a nightmare and an intolerable burden," he said. "Today I ask myself a daring and frightening question: 'Why did the occupation return to Gaza?' The normal reply: 'The occupation is the reason.'"

Dismissing Israel's responsibility for the growing state of anarchy and lawlessness in the Gaza Strip, Hamad said it was time for the Palestinians to embark on a soul-searching process to see where they erred.

"We're always afraid to talk about our mistakes," he added. "We're used to blaming our mistakes on others. What is the relationship between the chaos, anarchy, lawlessness, indiscriminate murders, theft of land, family rivalries, transgression on public lands and unorganized traffic and the occupation? We are still trapped by the mentality of conspiracy theories - one that has limited our capability to think."

Hamad admitted that the Palestinians have failed in developing the Gaza Strip following the Israeli withdrawal and in imposing law and order. He said about 500 Palestinians have been killed and 3,000 wounded since the Israeli pullout, in addition to the destruction of much of the infrastructure in the area.

By comparison, he said, only three or four Israelis have been killed by the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip over the same period.

"Some will argue that it's not a matter of profit or loss, but that this has an accumulating effect" he said. "This may be true. But isn't there a possibility of decreasing the number of casualties and increasing our gains by using our brains and making the proper calculations away from demagogic statements?"

The Hamas official said that while his government was unable to change the situation, the opposition was sitting on the side and watching and PA President Mahmoud Abbas was as weak as ever.

"We have all been attacked by the bacteria of stupidity," he remarked. "We have lost our sense of direction and we don't know where we're headed."

Addressing the various armed groups in the Gaza Strip, Hamad concluded: "Please have mercy on Gaza. Have mercy on us from your demagogy, chaos, guns, thugs, infighting. Let Gaza breathe a bit. Let it live."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 13, 2006 09:58 AM

The last sentence from the Major struck me as perhaps the most significant:

"they are divided inside. This is the story of Gaza."

Reading the Hamas spokesman's comments is also very revealing.

It is clear to me that the Palestinians need to do a lot of soul-searching here and develop something that's been terribly lacking over the years: The ability to be self-critical. Years of having a ready-made excuse (The Israeli occupation), a scapegoat on which to blame all their problems, has atrophied whatever sense of introspection they had. So it's somewhat encouraging to hear some voices, even within Hamas, starting to look past the "It's all Israel's fault" and start to ask the Palestinians to take a closer look at themselves.

Posted by: bad vilbel at September 13, 2006 10:05 AM

Mr. Totten, in addition to the list of countries you plan to visit in your post-script, may I suggest Indonesia as well, the world's most populous muslim country, undergoing constant change. I recently travelled there and it seems a lot is going on. One of the most fascinating discussions I have ever had was over lunch where I ate with an ethnic-Chinese Christian, two ethnic-Malay muslims, and two Balinese-Hindus. The conversation turned to terrorism and politics - not my choice - and it was interesting to hear their differing viewpoints.

Not sure what kind of contacts or interest you have in the area, but thought I'd just bring it up as a suggestion.

Posted by: swizstick at September 13, 2006 10:44 AM

Michael, your reports are fascinating, and though I'm no expert on the area, they seem to me to have the ring of truth. I sent you a small sum through Paypal, and hope others will too. You are performing a valuable service...

Posted by: BillBC at September 13, 2006 11:00 AM

Michael- Funny thing is, I did read it. And now two and three times just to be sure. Certainly there is blame all around, but a blanket statement that the "Palestinian catastrophe" is "self-imposed" is a blanket covering the reality of partition and dispossession. There is nothing the Hamas spokesman said which refutes this. Besides, what efforts have the Israelis made to make life harsh for the Palestinians as a means to imposing its will upon them and fracturing the resistance? To what extent does Israel pay informers, spies and agitators to keep Palestinian society fragemented and weak? Despite their own many shortcomings and missteps, the "Palestinian catastrophe" is still one that has been imposed on them rather than of their own making.

Posted by: Alan Goldstein at September 13, 2006 11:21 AM


The order of blame is:

1. Palestinians (specifically the terrorist groups)
2. Other Arab Countries
3. Israel

Israel has made mistakes, but they are mistakes of error. The terror groups and other Arab countries intentionally inflict harm to achieve their gains.

If the orginal UN Mandate encompassing Jordan, Palestine, and Israel terrorities had just been split along the Jordan, and other Arab countries had not started wars and incited a refugee crisis, then most of the displaced "Palestinians" would be prospering far beyond their Arab cousins in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon - despite being under the Israeli "yoke".

As has been said before and stated by the major, if the attacks from Gaza would stopthere would be peace. Given peace the Israelis would engage the Palestinians economically and eventually socially.

Here's a hint about Native Americans, the ones who got off the reservation and integrated into American society are much better off.

Posted by: Brendan at September 13, 2006 11:48 AM


What else could the Palestinians do? Well, like some other tiny nations- Malta, or Monaco, for instance- they could leverage a small Mediterranean coastal state into a succesful economy, and perhaps rich arab sheiks would choose to anchor their yachts there instead of the French Riviera. Size doesn't matter when it comes to prosperity, Monaco crams about one thirtieth of Gaza's population into about one two-hundredth of the land, and the Grimaldis and their subjects aren't complaining. And Gaza has more land and So knock off the hot air about the poor trapped prison of Gaza- it's false.

Diana, Gaza has more land and much more cross-border land traffic than Malta. Sure, Malta has fewer people, but it didn't thirty years ago and you can hardly blame the Israelis for that. I agree, unemployed Maltese can probably find work in Italy easier than Palestinians can find it in Israel, but do you really think that would be the case if Malta was lobbing rockets into Palermo?

Of course, to generate a real economy, the Palestinians would have to do things like actually accept gifts of new greenhouses and put them to productive (I'd say "fruitful" but the pun wouldn't be worth it) work, instead of destroying them because they came from Jews. That's what rational people would do. That's what I'd do. But hey, that would mean putting aside their much more appealing past time of hatred and murder. They have options. You like the determination it took to build a one kilometer tunnel? Think about what could be if they only channeled that determination into something worthwhile. There are always options, and Gaza is only a prison if they choose to be inmates. They've chosen to obey a bloody siren song, and blaming it on others is getting really old.

Not a viable state! Hah! What an ignorant argument in the face of existing counter-examples like Malta! They can say "We don't have any hope, let's kill", or "we have a chunk of land on the Mediterranean, let's be like Malta, only larger."

Don't blame the Israelis if the Palestians took the stupid choice.

Posted by: Ben at September 13, 2006 12:13 PM

It isn't people or size, it's power. Gaza had an airport; does it now?

Is there, in fact, anything in Palestine that Israel can't destroy at its whim?

I could go to Malta anytime I want, but can I go to Palestine? Can anyone else, except the Israeli army? Even our Michael here isn't allowed into Gaza, and it sounds like he is nothing but an honest and pro-israeli journalist.

Sounds like a prison to me.

And I've never heard of anyone investing inside a prison.

Posted by: Diana at September 13, 2006 12:46 PM

Brendan- I've got no problem with Israel's existence. I've got a problem with Israel's embrace of Zionism. I've got a problem with the idea of Jewish separatism. I've got a problem with Zionism's basic premise of dispossession and its desire to be a "rampart" of the west against the east. That is essentially its racist or colonialist foundation. Call it what you will, but from my perspective Herzl's call to arms, "The Jewish State" 1896, began a movement, not simply to come to Palestine to live and prosper along with the country's other inhabitants, but to come to Palestine to live and prosper by themselves,have the country taken from the indigenous population, enforce a Jewish majority, and become the dominant force in the land. That is the basic problem. A number of Palestinian leaders alive still today were actually born in cities and towns within Israel proper. Abbas is one instance. You cannot seriously believe they should just roll over and betray their heritage? End partition and live together together in a mutual homeland. There will be no peace living separately.

Posted by: Alan Goldstein at September 13, 2006 12:46 PM

Alan you are a putz!

Posted by: Kwai Chang Caine at September 13, 2006 12:56 PM

Diana: I could go to Malta anytime I want, but can I go to Palestine?


Can anyone else, except the Israeli army?

Of course. But Israeli civilians are not allowed inside anymore.

Even our Michael here isn't allowed into Gaza

I already explained why. Time magazine told me no. If I were not affiliated with them at the time, I would have gone in. Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians would have gotten in my way.

If you want to go to Gaza, go to Gaza. You don't need a visa. Just buy a plane ticket to Ben-Gurion and take a taxi to the Erez Crossing Point. Have a nice time.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 13, 2006 01:05 PM

Alan: Certainly there is blame all around, but a blanket statement that the "Palestinian catastrophe" is "self-imposed" is a blanket covering the reality of partition and dispossession.

We're talking about 2006 here, not 1948. No one mentioned 1948 except you. That's an entirely different discussion.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 13, 2006 01:06 PM

Ben- great post. I've been following the intefada for six years, and you speak the truth. Anyone who hasn't read Ben's post, you must read it. People like Diana need to be educated.

Posted by: Mark at September 13, 2006 01:11 PM

Mr. Totten,

Amazing work. Truly. I took an Arab-Israeli class at BYU in my undergrad studies, and your work here reminds me of the in-depth analysis that took place in that class over the struggle in this conflict.

I can see the exasperation in the Israelis over the continual attacks from the vastly inferior Palestinians. The Israelis keep thinking, "hey guys, life would be good if you just stop fighting." And generally I would agree, but I've got some concerns about whether this is true or not, regarding the Israelis and Palestinians.

I know Israel and Egypt made peace, and it has held now for almost 30 years. Israel and Jordan made peace that has lasted 12 years now. It is possible. But one thing in this report sticks out in my eyes like a sore thumb, an elephant in the room.

The Israeli general describes the tunnels and how the last tunnel found was still one kilometer in Palestinian territory. He says, they keep digging the tunnels. They keep trying to find this way or that way to get at the Israelis.

I can't help but ask, "what would drive men to continually do the vain, impossible and deadly?" Why go through capturing one soldier, killing three total at the loss of well over 500 of your own? What would drive men to such insanities?

In my Arab-Israeli Conflict class, we watched a video that showed some of the problems, including the giving of blue license plates to Palestinians and white license plates to Israelis (I think those were the color--i might be mistaken). With American money subsidizing the costs, Israelis are building beautiful apartment blocks just yards away from Palestinians living in shacks. Israelis get the clean water while Palestinians get dirty infected water. And I wonder why men are driven mad in those situations.

This is no anti-Israeli attack, but rather a realistic look at the situation. Palestinians should be ashamed of themselves for not reaching for a higher standard of living. But, the thing is, without American aid, how could Israel afford to build the great buildings they have, or afford the powerful military it has? The Palestinians are living on the desert land that surrounds them while the Israelis are living on American chariots. Would you be driven mad if someone came to your land and built a big palace for themselves with money from some rich man in another town?

I'm just trying to understand why men would risk being killed digging a tunnel that will inevitably be destroyed, and he killed along with it. It isn't the religion that drives the person to such madness. There are plenty of Muslims (most in the world actually) that are quite rational good people. Other factors are at play here. And Israel is involved.

I don't have an answer for this problem, but we've gotta find an answer soon.

Posted by: Dan at September 13, 2006 01:58 PM


I can't tell if your views are formed out of naivete or malicious intent.

1) US aid to Israel is almost entirely for the use of arms purchases, not to subsidize construction. Even if it weren't, do you really believe that with Israel's GDP of approximately $150bn, a cessation of US aid of ~$3bn will stop the construction? Do you believe that all construction is done by the Israeli government and not by private corporations, which are not affected by aid in any case?

2) The peace with Egypt and Jordan didn't come cheap, and it's definitely a "cold" peace (witness the multiple withdrawals of the Egyptian and Jordanian ambassadors to Israel over the past decade). By the way, 60-70% of the Jordanian population is of Palestinian descent, and they don't seem to have a problem living in peace with Israel. They don't fire rockets or cross the border with suicide belts, and there is peace. I'm not entirely clear why you think the same can't be true of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip if they behaved as peacefully as their brethren in Jordan.

Posted by: Jeff at September 13, 2006 02:20 PM

2 often repeated fallacies have just been raised here:

1. from Mr "Goldstein" - "End partition and live together together in a mutual homeland" - is nothing more than a pseudo-intellectual way of saying exactly what Hamas says - namely that the Jewish state doesn't have a right to exist.

The concept of a bi-national state is only ever espoused by the ultra-leftist Chomskyites who hate Israel - no-one who is serious about peace has ever said such a ridiculous proposal could work.

2. Dan's suggests that the sophisticated tunnels built by Palestinian terror groups indicate how much they must be suffering. This is the same approach that is taken by those who repeatedly ask us to address the "root causes" of terrorist attacks. That is, the worse the attack, the more sophisticated the technique, the more murderous the outcome, their conclusion is always that it indicates only how much the perpetrators must be suffering. Thus they respond in exactly the way the terrorists are hoping - by seeking to help those who have just committed the act of mass murder as much as possible. It is exactly this attitude that has led terrorists to see their attacks as successful, and has contributed to the spread of international terrorism around the globe.

Imagine if we applied this logic to other situations - eg look at how determined the Nazis were to kill the Jews - look at their elaborate gas chambers - they must have really suffered!

Posted by: David at September 13, 2006 02:31 PM

Dan, Dana and Alan - try answering this one: If the Palestinian Arabs are interested in nothing more than a fair settlement of their situation, why don't they break out the Gandhi/M. L. King playbook? Nonviolent social resistance was tailormade for use against a Western-oriented opponent, and if used by the Palestinians, would swing mainstream American opinion (as distinguished from "sensitive progressive" opinion) to the Palestinian side in about fifteen minutes. Keffiyeh masks, Semtex vests and and Arabic translations of Mein Kampf may make hearts go aflutter in the faculty lounge, but they don't make for good press out here in the real world.

Posted by: Ricky bin Ricardo (Abu Babaloo) at September 13, 2006 04:22 PM

David, all through the 30's, people did excuse the excesses of the Nazi regime on the grounds that the reparations under the Versailles treaty were too extreme, triggering as they did the massive inflation of Weimar Germany and making the great Depression worse. (People who say "XXX is just like Hitler in 1938" have clearly never read the newspapers from 1938. The pro-Hitler editorials are just the kind of Lindberg drivel you would expect, but the anti-Hitler ones are fascinating. My favorite is the one that claims that since we all know history repeats, and this new fellow Hitler as the new military leader of Germany clearly wants war, so Hilter must be just like the Kaiser. Therefore Hitler should be treated as the Kaiser should have been, and would never go to war unless his dignity were insulted. I suppose the moral is that one should seriously beware of lessons from history.)

My earlier post seems to have been eaten, so I shall just observe that I suspect you really mean not that I should be educated, but that I should be run over by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza just like Rachel Corrie. Interesting to know that I'm still allowed to travel there. Isn't Israel always sealing the place off?

Posted by: Dianad at September 13, 2006 04:24 PM


Imagine if we applied this logic to other situations - eg look at how determined the Nazis were to kill the Jews - look at their elaborate gas chambers - they must have really suffered!

I'll skip on your use of reductio ad Hitlerum.

The reason I bring up their plight is quite simple. I think that Americans, put in a similar situation as the Palestinians, would be just as ferocious, if not more so, in fighting for their "freedom."

I'm not advocating the Palestinian cause here, really. Anytime anyone attempts to look at something from a Palestinian viewpoint, people raise the following:

Thus they respond in exactly the way the terrorists are hoping - by seeking to help those who have just committed the act of mass murder as much as possible. It is exactly this attitude that has led terrorists to see their attacks as successful, and has contributed to the spread of international terrorism around the globe.

This is a nice straw man, but is inaccurate. Those who committed mass murder must get their day of reckoning. But what are we doing to lessen the things that lead someone to commit such murders? That's my point. Asking that in no way helps the terrorist's cause, but actually will help us, as it will help decrease the number of terrorist attacks.

Posted by: Dan at September 13, 2006 04:29 PM


If the Palestinian Arabs are interested in nothing more than a fair settlement of their situation, why don't they break out the Gandhi/M. L. King playbook?

Trust me, I would love to see that. Gandhi/M.L. King type folks are rarer than diamonds though. It is easier to go the way of the warrior and harder to go the way of the peacemaker. Would that all be peacemakers.

Posted by: Dan at September 13, 2006 04:36 PM

Dan, hate to let you know about this, but the latest development in Tibetan resistance to China is, get this, a movement advocating that the Tibetans stop their nonviolent resistance and emphasis on world peace and, copying the Palestinians and Hezbollah, turn to violence. I'm not kidding!

The British in India always 1) claimed they were running India to benefit the Indians and 2) in practice ran it only to turn a profit. Nonviolence and civil disobediance would end both, and in any event there were other forces at work in the late 1940's which were causing the British to roll up their empire. Israel claims the British left in 1948 because the Irgun chased them out; the Indians claim that the British left in 1948 because of Gandhi's nonviolence; and the Jordinians claim the British left Jordan in 1948 because they, well, left. I don't think the dates are a coincidence. There are a lot of countries out there which celebrate 1948 as their first year, and honestly I don't think either the Irgun or Gandhi had much to do with it, however much they might like to think so.

The Israelis aren't claiming they're running Gaza for its own good, nor is there really anything much I can imagine a Palestinian can say which would persuade them the Isrealis the land isn't the ancient Israeli homeland to which the Jews have a superior right.

Posted by: Diana at September 13, 2006 04:43 PM


Dan, hate to let you know about this, but the latest development in Tibetan resistance to China is, get this, a movement advocating that the Tibetans stop their nonviolent resistance and emphasis on world peace and, copying the Palestinians and Hezbollah, turn to violence. I'm not kidding!

I know, very sad. Calls for peace fall on deaf ears in the last days.

It shows how ridiculously bad the level of violence is in this world when Tibetan Buddhist monks who practice nonviolence are now advocating violence for their cause.

Posted by: Dan at September 13, 2006 04:49 PM

I'll skip over the myriad strawman arguments, and counter-strawmen arguments in this thread. :)

But one statement has me puzzled. David says:
"The concept of a bi-national state is only ever espoused by the ultra-leftist Chomskyites who hate Israel - no-one who is serious about peace has ever said such a ridiculous proposal could work."

I realize what this means in the context of Israel, and the pro-Israeli folks. And I'm putting aside the realistic situation on the ground, which in my opinion, dictates a two-state solution we all agree on.

But that aside, isn't this a huge double standard? Is there any other country in the world where segregating two people is deemed acceptable? Doesn't it go against the concept of Democracy that the west espouses, to say that cohabitation is impossible by the very fact that Israel is by definition a jewish state, and therefore not suitable for a non-jewish majority?

To use a non-Middle Eastern example. How surreal would this all sound if say, the USA declared it was a country for whites by definition? Would anyone making an argument for Democracy and cohabitation be labeled a leftwing chomskyte as well?

Sometimes, i don't get how people seem to overlook very basic tenets of logic, when applied to the middle east. I guess it's some sort of parallel universe where the laws of logic are entirely inapplicable.

Posted by: bad vilbel at September 13, 2006 04:50 PM

Bad Vilbel,

Look at the facts as they are. While the status of non-Jewish citizens of the state of Israel is filled with paradox, the fact remains that they are citizens, with rights and representatives. The Israeli judicial system is responsive to their actions.

In contrast, look at the rights of Jews in the Palestinian Authority and in Arab and Muslim countries. Jews may not, by law, own land in areas controlled by the Palestinians. Jews may not, by law, be citizens of Jordan. For practical purposes, Jews are not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia. Most Egyptian Jews fled Egypt in the late 1940s and early 1950s, in the general Sephardi exodus to avoid incipient violence and persecution on the Arab/Muslim world.

Is there any other country in the world where segregating two people is deemed acceptable?

France and Germany. Italy and Spain. Greece and Turkey. Actually, in many of these countries, there is preferential treatment in terms of citizenship and benefits based solely on ethnicity. Many of these countries also have formal ties between the government and state churches, as well as political parties with strong religious affiliations.

In other words, policies of Israel that favor Jews, are not dissimilar from policies of many countries around the globe. The only difference is that Israel favors Jews.

If you criticize Israel for these policies without, for example, criticizing Greek naturalization policies that favor ethnic Greeks, you are using a double standard. That's one of Natan Sharansky's "three Ds" that can be used to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel and Israeli policies from anti-Semitism aka Jew hatred.

Posted by: Bozoer Rebbe at September 13, 2006 06:08 PM

Bad Vilbel,

"But that aside, isn't this a huge double standard? Is there any other country in the world where segregating two people is deemed acceptable? Doesn't it go against the concept of Democracy that the west espouses, to say that cohabitation is impossible by the very fact that Israel is by definition a jewish state, and therefore not suitable for a non-jewish majority?"

You tell me:
Palestine -> Israel, Palestine, Trans-Jordan

Yugoslavia -> Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia

Czechoslovakia -> Czech Republic, Slovakia

North Korea/South Korea, East Germany/West Germany, North Vietnam/South Vietnam, etc. etc.

Need I go on? Besides, why worry? The existence of Israel allows the surrounding Arab states to keep themselves Judenrein without much complaint from the world community (see Jordanian law no. 7, sect. 2, of April 1, 1963, which states that no Jew may become a Jordanian citizen; Saudi law is similar).

Posted by: Jeff at September 13, 2006 06:25 PM

Dan, Desperation is not building tunnels to smuggle in weapons and terrorists. Desperation is people fleeing on rafts, as many people have from Vietnam and Cuba.

Posted by: Selkie at September 13, 2006 07:53 PM


Fleeing to where exactly? Who would take them in?

They would not be fleeing from an indigenous tyrant like Cubans and Vietnamese are doing, but they would be fleeing from a foreign occupier. Their claim (I don't care how valid or not it is) is that their land is occupied. If you land were occupied, would you flee, or would you try and make it no longer occupied by a foreign entity?

Personally, if I weren't a Mormon and America was occupied by a foreign entity, I'd fight even dirtier than the Palestinians are. Get the foreign occupiers so disgusted with being in my country that they would not desire being there one bit and leave. But I'm a Mormon and have my standards.

Posted by: Dan at September 13, 2006 08:40 PM

You seem to be forgetting, Dan, that the Israelis left Gaza and elected Olmert to get them out of the West Bank. If the Palestinians want an end to occupation, that's easy at this point. Just sit still and watch the Jews leave.

Fighting the Israelis after the occupation ends just means they get occupied all over again.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 13, 2006 09:03 PM

Bozoer and Jeff,

I understand your arguments. Of course.
Let me ask this though:

Arab-Israelis have rights as full citizens today, but they are a minority. And Israel is a Democracy.
What happens, in 50 years, let's say, if the arab-Israeli population outnumbers the jewish population? One of 2 things:
1. They continue to have the same rights, and probably get majorities elected and in government, making Israel no longer a "jewish state" but still a Democracy.
2. The jewish (now minority) decides to change the rules and prohibit arabs from having a majority rule, Israel stays a Jewish state, but is no longer a Democracy.

My point is, the foundation here makes for an inherent contradiction between Democracy and Israel being a Jewish state.

It so happens this is a non-issue today because arab-Israelis are a minority. But that may change.

Posted by: bad vilbel at September 13, 2006 09:43 PM

Mike, good post. Parts of it bug me off, but I wouldn't expect anyone honest to go to Gaza, get a tour from the IDF, and not talk about the daily threats to Israeli citizens. Hell, they deserve to be to talked about. To an extent, it helps me rationalize the intense Palestinian suffering in Gaza before and after the pullout.

Read between the lines of the soldiers' statements, and it's easy to tell that who lives and who dies in Gaza is not determined on merit, regardless of the semi-good intentions of whoever might be the determiners. The IDF is there to protect Israelis. Protecting Palestinians is not a strategic objective, despite whatever RoE are input, and the casualty ratio is greater than 100 to 1.

It's tempting to wonder though, that if the combination of withdrawal and the iron fist military in tandem bends Hamas to negotiate, then the end result is good. It's possible that a limp response to the Kassams would only encourage more.
Historically, sometimes harsh reprisals only grow insurgencies, and sometimes they shut them down.
The record is mixed.

As the recent unity government demonstrates, Hamas has just about had enough. It's not the same movement as the Iranian-dominated clique in 1995. Through a combination of emancipation and getting bombed, is has been diffused and blended with ordinary Gazans. As demonstrated by the fact that Hamas allowed that article to be published, in some ways it is more democratic than Yasir Arafat.
I believe that Hamas is no longer sees any benefit in sabotaging negotiations.

The situation is ripe for a period of calm, and I believe that Olmert is the kind of non-ideological person who will deal.

It's a good thing for everyone, if so. The West Bank is a lot harder to secure than Gaza, and if everyone misses this chance, Kassams from there may create a very, very very destabilized situation. Withdrawal - partition - is the prerequsite for carrots and sticks working rationally. It took one painful year for Hamas to distinguish between pre and post-occupation in Gaza, but it is only the beginning, not the end, of the way to coexistence.

The ride in between is bumpy.

This was a good article.

Posted by: glasnost at September 13, 2006 10:23 PM

Bad Vilbel,

Very good question, but I'm betting on option #2 if it comes down to that. To see why, check out this article on JPost for some examples:

To summarize, it points out how Israeli Arab MKs have been praising Hezbollah, calling for Israeli's enemies to attack her, and generally aligning themselves against Israel (N.B. this has been going on for decades). Not a good sign--right now, the Israeli Arabs are unable to form a governing coalition, but when the day comes that demographics tip that scale, I wouldn't be surprised for them to start persecuting Jews (that is, if one believes the rhetoric of their MKs). I doubt that Jewish Israelis will prioritize democracy over their own survival.

Posted by: Jeff at September 13, 2006 10:31 PM

Glasnost: As demonstrated by the fact that Hamas allowed that article to be published, in some ways it is more democratic than Yasir Arafat.

What's really interesting, to me, is that the Hamas spokesman wrote it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 13, 2006 10:46 PM

Mr. Totten,

You seem to be forgetting, Dan, that the Israelis left Gaza and elected Olmert to get them out of the West Bank. If the Palestinians want an end to occupation, that's easy at this point. Just sit still and watch the Jews leave.

The Israelis have come to realize their mistake, though. Unilateral work does not bring about their realized intentions, much as some Americans would like. There is a reason why peace between Egypt and Israel has worked for nearly thirty years (as cold as the peace may be). Neither side unilaterally said they would stop thinking the other as an enemy at war.

Now, when the Israelis unilaterally pulled out of Gaza, I too had mistakenly hoped for the best, and let my feelings of something good happening overwhelm reason and logic. I saw the signs that showed that Hamas felt they were the victor in this unilateral pullout. It was a sign that their battle against Israel was not over simply because Israel pulled out. Had Israel negotiated the pullout through some sort of treaty, most assuredly neither side would have been happy, but neither side would have claimed victory over the other, and felt the need to continue the battle.

This is the folly of unilateralism.

I hope for peace between Israel and Palestine. And honestly, I believe that unless this situation is solved, none of the other issues in the Middle East will be truly solved. The grievances the Palestinians feel toward the Israelis fuels all other anti-Western feelings in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, etc. We've gotta solve this conflict.

Posted by: Dan at September 14, 2006 02:26 AM

Fantastic post; reasonable comments. [Typo alert early on hold >> hole "hard-to-see hold in the ground" ]

The Jews in Israel have long known about the demographic bomb of a faster non-Jewish birth rate, and it HAS been discussed. This is one big reason no "right of return" for the Palestinians is ever going to happen to a Jewish Israel.

Michael, the 1947 UN partition is more important than you think. The Arabs said NO to a Palestinian state. The ARABS said no. The Palestinian refugee problem, and the horrors they live in, are first due to the Arab leaders of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt of 1947, thru the 1948 war. A war that, legally, is not over -- only a 1949 Lebanon Armistice.

Justice is, ultimately, the main reason that civilized folk support force and violence and war.

In creating Israel in the 1947-1948 timeframe, there were some real but relatively minor injustices against Palestinians.

Since then, most injustices against the Palestinian people have been done by Arab or Palestinian leaders.

I think Israel should list injustices: the laws against Jews, the expulsion / emigration of Jews from other ME / Muslim countries after WW II; but especially the unjust failure of Arab countries to support Palestine in the 1948-1967 years, when the "pre '67" boundaries were easy to use for a Palestinian state.

If Hamas is getting tired, tired of a war they are unlikely to win, a war that is unlikely to even do much harm to the Israelis, a war that shows the world the Palestinians want War, not Peace -- if they are getting tired, that's good.

I wish Israel would more honestly negotiate with the EU on what "peace" should look like, and push Israel acceptance on an EU approved peace -- with the promise by the EU of no cash for Hamas if Hamas fails to agree on the peace agreement.

Like alcoholic enablers, the EU (and other aid) has been enabling Palestinian terrorism. The EU should stop giving aid-for-Jew murder. If this means Israel gives up the post '67 land up to their newly built wall, that is price I think most Iraelis would pay -- for Peace. Real peace, not Armistice, not weapon-collecting for a future war waiting. Not sure this is currently politically viable.

One new thought -- the EU could offer Food-for-guns. Those young Palestinians with guns could be asked to pay for EU food by the EU collecting the guns. I know I'm angry at the idea of "Palestinians are starving, so the EU needs to give aid" -- and then the Palestinians get more guns.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 14, 2006 03:10 AM

Dan, I'm pretty sure you're wrong about the power of unilateral pull-out.
Yes, it did not stop Hamas immediately. However, it DID unite Israel, again, about the justice-based morality of their Israeli response to more Jew-murder from the Gaza.

The murderers say they want Israel out of Gaza; Israel left. Now what do they want? To murder Jews.

Not to build greenhouses and feed the People; not to build businesses and provide jobs and hope -- they want to hate Jews and murder Jews.

Above I support you, slightly, in the need for addressing justice. But there is a COST of fighting for justice. The Palestinians need to accept a SETTLEMENT, which has less justice than they want, because the cost to the Palestinians is too high.*

As Hamas becomes responsible for paying the cost of Jew-murder, and the cost remains so high, it becomes more likely they will change.

Peace can only come when the Palestinians want it -- Israel pulling out of Gaza showed that the Palestinians did NOT want peace. I actually think Hamas might be about to change their mind, but need EU help to stop enabling terrorism.

*Sort of like the 3 million Sudetenland Germans of Czechoslovak citizenship who were ethnically cleaned by the Allies after WWII, and are now mostly happy in Bavaria. Some still complain, but more "justice" is unlikely to happen. By the way, 1938 citizens of ex-Czechoslovakia had a separate Czech, Slovak, German, Hungarian, or Jewish 'nationality'.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 14, 2006 03:29 AM

Hey Jeff, do the calculation. 3 billion dollars of aid for 50 years = 150 billion dollars GDP

Thank you very much U.S.A

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 06:04 AM

Hey Joe - get your facts straight. US provided essentially no aid to Israel until the late 1960s. Thereafter, it was provided as a counter to Soviet aid (in the tens of billions) to the Arab "confrontation" states, generally in the form of military assistance credits, which must be spent here. US aid to Israel never approached what was provided to Germany, during the post war period, nor to South Korea today, when you factor in the cost of keeping 40,000 US troops in combat readiness. And, the hard truth is, that the return on investment in Israel has been (and will continue to be) immense - most of those dollars employ Americans at General Dynamics in St. Louis building F-16s. Oh, and while the Arab/Moslem potentates build palaces in the Mid East, and mosques in the US and the west, with their oil trillions - leaving their Palestinian and Egyptian and other poor Moslems in filth and slums, the Jews build decent housing and nice communities with parks and playgrounds for their kids.

Posted by: Reed at September 14, 2006 06:40 AM


I'd like to agree with you about the unilateral actions actually working, but we have another example where it didn't work: Lebanon. Israel pulled out of Lebanon without a negotiated withdrawal, allowing Hezbollah to also claim victory. Moreover, Hezbollah was not bound by any agreement for rearming their military. So what happened? The debacle this past July.

Unilateralism is not effective, no matter who uses it. I don't know of many examples where it achieved its stated results. But again, when negotiated, the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt actually worked. It works.

Posted by: Dan at September 14, 2006 06:45 AM


Oh, and while the Arab/Moslem potentates build palaces in the Mid East, and mosques in the US and the west, with their oil trillions - leaving their Palestinian and Egyptian and other poor Moslems in filth and slums, the Jews build decent housing and nice communities with parks and playgrounds for their kids.

I think you've stated right there the heart of the problem in the Middle East. Arab nations are not building for the people the housing they need, but instead build for themselves palaces. Then the poor Arabs look at the fine Israeli land and say, "hey why do they get all that good stuff and we don't?" instead of venting their anger at their own government for not helping them, they scream bloody murder at the Israelis. Moreover, I think their autocratic leaders fuel their anger at Israel so as to cover up their own selfish greed. If Arabs truly showed their anger where it deserves to be shown, these rulers would be out of power.

The question for America, yet again, is why do we support these autocratic leaders?

Posted by: Dan at September 14, 2006 06:49 AM


You respond that "We're talking 2006, not 1948. No one mentioned 1948 except you" except that I didn't. Oh, I mentioned partition (which is ongoing) and dispossession (also ongoing.) Besides, is there some kind of law that states we can talk about Jewish kingdoms of 800 BC and the Holocaust (pre-1948), but nothing else? Exactly the strategy to marginalize Palestinian claims and rights in their homeland. The more I read the more I think this is just Zionist propaganda posing as journalism.

Posted by: Alan Goldstein at September 14, 2006 07:18 AM

Notice how the anti-Israel rhetoric gradually changes.

A few years ago all we heard was that Palestinian terrorism arose because of Israeli "occupation" and "settlements". But then the occupation ended in Gaza, every single settlement was removed, and the terror attacks increased. And so the rhetoric now must change - note that not one of the anti-Israel posts here has used the word "settlement". Now the issue seems to be the very existence of the Jewish state.

Similarly in Lebanon, the occupation ended, and a new justification was found - the 3 Lebanese prisoners in Israeli gaols.

What is the message? That whatever concessions Israel makes, the attacks will continue, another justification will be found, (there is always some form of perceived injustice in every society) and fanatical hatred will win over rationality.

What troubles me mostly is this thought: that the Palestinian identity seems to be based solely on the principle of victimhood and "resistance". Can anyone identify any other unique facet of culture or identity that unites the Palestinian people? If not, then the Palestinian nation will forever continue to "resist" or else it will not exist.

Posted by: David at September 14, 2006 07:32 AM


I agree with Reed. And the US has given $60bn in aid to Egypt since 1948 (including $2bn a year to bribe Egypt to maintain its peace treaty with Israel). Egypt has a GDP two times the size of Israel, so one could say it's even less justified in their case, and don't forget to add in the fact that Egypt continues to spew anti-American hatred and sent a terrorist to bomb our WTC (Atta).

The US has budgeted $56bn on reconstruction aid to Iraq in a single bolus, and I think it would probably be easier to ask how effective that's been.

Unfortunately for Dan, if/when the Israel-Palestine issue is solved, Al-Qaeda will turn its attention back to the fact that there are US troops stationed in Saudi Arabia and also focus on the lack of Islam in the rest of the world. Aid to Israel isn't the reason why Hamas refuses to recognize Israel in its charter. Aid to Israel does provide a convenient realpolitik method of distracting the Arab world, though. Let Israel be the bait and let the Arabs focus their hate on it, attack it, terrorize it. The Arabs will focus on the Little Satan before they go after the Big Satan, so I think that our aid is a small price to pay for having someone else man the front line.

Posted by: Jeff at September 14, 2006 07:39 AM


Gaza a prison, you say? Why? People can go in, people can go out. That's not a prison.

No airport? But it seems to me, they certainly have a rocket launching base or two. How many prisons launch their own rockets?

Now, here in the USA, we have a great many airports and only a handful of rocket launching sites. Clearly the Palestinians have it prioritized all wrong.

They don't need the rocket launching sites. Serious negative return on those investments, I'd say.

By the bye, your comment about people not investing in prisons... you mean... don't you know? Wow, you really have no idea, do you?

Have some fun:

But hey, don't take it from one web site, Google for Prison Investments and knock yourself out.

Businesses invest in prisons all the time. Gaza is a small stateless state committed to a genocidal war of its own choosing. It's really a modern rendition of a barbarian encampment beyond the frontier of civilization. Who would want to invest in that?

Absorb it: The only thing preventing Gaza from being a Malta is Palestinians. If the Israelis could flip some magic switch and have Malta and Gaza instantly change places, they would in a heartbeat. The Israelis would LOVE to have a decent, prosperous neighbor. Israelis go to Egypt, to places they once occupied, for VACATION now.

The Palestinians could do better, if only they got their act together, and it's not Israel's fault that they can't. You know this is true. So does everyone else, EVEN THE PALESTINIANS. But keeping up the hatred serves the interests of certain people, doesn't it? Certain very warped people. People who enjoy having lots of power and no responsibility. That's why they burned the greenhouses.


Posted by: Ben at September 14, 2006 08:14 AM

Alan Goldstein: Besides, is there some kind of law that states we can talk about Jewish kingdoms of 800 BC and the Holocaust (pre-1948), but nothing else?

Don't be an ass. Of course you can talk about whatever you want. You are allowed to change the subject. But that's what you're doing - changing the subject. Me and the Hamas guy were talking about 2006, and you switched it to 1948.

Hilarious that a man named Alan Goldstein is accusing the Hamas spokesman of peddling Zionist propaganda. You're waaaaaaaay out on a limb here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 14, 2006 09:40 AM

Notice how all the pro-Israel rhetoric changes: wasn't Arafat the huge problem? Wasn't the whole reason for Palestinian rejectionism the result of charismatic intransigence of that one guy, Arafat, and as soon as he was dead, "moderate" Arabs, Arabs who had grown up with the experience of Israel, would accept the Jewish state.

Well, the generation of Arabs who grew up with the Jewish state vote for Hamas and produced Hezbollah, and for some mysterious reason no one seems to think Arafat was the main problem anymore.

My own personal belief is that the main problem is George Bush and his pet neocons. Their idiot and unnecessary wars against Iraq, Lebanon, and (sure to come) Iran and Syria, together with the Bush adminsitration's open disavowel on our civil liberties, on science, and on the legal core of America, our own Constitution (check out Bush apologist John Yoo's argument that our Constitution is only supposed to apply to "peacetime" situations) is the principal danger this planet faces. So I am not going to complain about the Palestinians.

Posted by: Diana at September 14, 2006 10:28 AM

Let's get it straight here. The problem is plain and simply occupation. The pro-Israelis continue to talk about the withdrawal from Gaza as if it was the end of the occupation. Have they forgotten that during that same period, Sharon increased and fortified the settlements in the West bank while the international community was busy clapping his action in Gaza. Occupation is always wrong, whether it be in France, Vietnam, Algeria, South Africa or in the Palestinian territories. If it was not for the United States government (and AIPAC), the World community would have long ago put an embargo on Israel the same way they did against the Apartheid regime. When a war produces a ratio of 200:1 casualties and you still call the other terrorists and yourselves soldiers of a "defensive" army, it is that you are so blinded by your patriotism your morals are down in the gutter. Security and Defense, let us not forget, were the same concepts that groups like the Nazis (defense of the aryan race), the South Africans (protection from black terrorists) and the Serbs (protection from Muslim terrorists) have used to justify their murders. Wake up and do not forget that Israel is not the only country that has a right to exist, to security, liberty, and a homeland. Demonizing the other will only serve to justify your immoral actions (so you can sleep a little better at night).

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 10:47 AM

Here is more on the disengagaement from Gaza by Israeli journalist Amnon Apeliouk in Le Monde Diplomatique :

It is clear that the settlement of the Gaza Strip has been a failure. Barely 7,000 settlers have moved in, although there are 250,000 in the West Bank (and 200,000 in the occupied part of Jerusalem). Though they have taken over 40% of Gaza’s land and use half its water, they are nothing compared with the million-and-a-half Palestinians crowded into the area. Providing security for settlers costs a huge amount of money and needs many soldiers, some of whom die doing this terrible job. Withdrawing from Gaza should be as much a relief for Israel as a sacrifice.

But the Israeli government is at pains to present the disengagement, especially abroad, as painful and deeply problematic. It exploits the extremist fanatics who have been demonstrating angrily against the plan, along with pseudo-fascist threats to assassinate Sharon as punishment for his “treason”, to exaggerate its difficulties. So Israel can claim that withdrawing from Gaza is so traumatic that further disengagement - evacuating settlers from the West Bank - cannot be envisaged soon.

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 10:58 AM

"...So Israel can claim that withdrawing from Gaza is so traumatic that further disengagement - evacuating settlers from the West Bank - cannot be envisaged soon."

Errr... no. Even the most biased of observers must acknowledge that Israel voted in a government who promised, in their only real policy, to disengage from, and dismantle settlements in, the West Bank.

The only "extremist fanatics" who have stopped that now are the ones who decided to fire thousands of rockets from the unoccupied territories in Gaza and Lebanon.

And Diana, please! Nice try, but Arafat wasn't the main problem - but rather the terrorist attacks and other violence that occured under his rule. That is, the very same problem as faced today. The bar has been set very, very, very low for Hamas now - recognise Israel's right to exist, and renounce terrorism. How much more trash will accumulate in the streets of Gaza city before they can bring themselves to do this?

Posted by: David at September 14, 2006 11:24 AM

Hey David,

Here is what Dov Weisglass, permanent representative in Washington and ex-right-hand man of Sharon said in an interview with the newspaper Ha’aretz about Israel's strategy: “The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians...The peace process is the establishment of a Palestinian state . . . The peace process is the evacuation of settlements, it’s the return of refugees, it’s the partition of Jerusalem. And all that has now been frozen.”

The last prime minister who wanted a durable peace with the Palestinians was assassinated by an Israeli fanatic. Those who followed him have for their security maybe or for their ideology continued to consider the Palestinians unviable partners and terrorists with whom no peace can be concluded. Peace for Israel means concessions they do not want to ever give up. Consider the fact that between Arafat and Hamas, Abbas (a moderate that Israel was asking for) ruled in the P.T. Did Israel decide to negotiate then. No, they continued with their targeted assassination, frustration Abbas' peace considerations and exasperating the local population to the point it voted for Hamas, which let us not forget was a Mossad creation to undermine the power of the PLO in the early 80's.

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 11:36 AM


Actually, you have it right there. Arafat was a dictator who failed to build up the institutions of government and could not be trusted to execute a peace agreement. The hope was that after he died (for in a dictatorial regime, that's the only way to change governments), moderates would grasp the levers of power to build a state for the Palestinians. Abu Mazen was supposed to be that moderate, but he was too weak within Fatah, and years of Arafat's mismanagement and corruption had weakened Fatah itself. If you look at the polls at the time, Hamas drew its support not necessarily because of its politics, but rather because of the perception that it was a clean party interested in the welfare of Palestinian citizens. Hamas hasn't been able to deliver, so they too are losing control in their Gaza power base (or haven't you read Mr. Totten's article?)

I don't feel the need to comment on your left-wing ranting against the Bush administration, as you presented no facts to debate. I can only advise that if the current administration is as monstrous as you believe, you should make haste to move to another country.


You're psychotic to claim that France is occupied. The idea of proportionality and casualty ratios as a means of measuring wartime justice is the oddest concept I've ever heard. Let me provide a better framework for you: the Palestinians and Lebanese are conducting war along the WWI framework (i.e. "Total War" in which every citizen is involved in the war effort) while the West operates on the more modern concept of a compartmentalized army fighting a war while civil society continues to function as best as possible as before. That's why Total War practitioners suffer so many civilian casualties.

As for the West Bank settlements, you overlooked the security concerns. Israel is only about nine miles wide in its central sector when the West Bank is excluded. Considering that the Arabs have attacked Israel several times, Israel considers strategic depth (to allow time for the reserves to be called up and organized) to be of vital importance. Many settlements in the West Bank were originally set up precisely for that reason, to operate as front-line bulwarks against any invasion.

Finally, I have a question for you and the other anti-Zionists out there. What is the statute of limitations on "occupation"? The US has been around for over 230 years, and only the fringe now continue to call Americans "occupiers". Scottish and English settlers began settling in Ireland in the 1600s, and now Northern Ireland is still under the thumb of the UK. Alsace was ceded to France in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, but has changed several times since then, and France has been rather brutal in its alternate expulsions of Germans and suppressing of German culture, but few consider it occupied territory today.

So how long does Israel need to hold on to the West Bank until it's no longer considered occupied? Sorry for the long post.

Posted by: Jeff at September 14, 2006 11:57 AM

So how long does Israel need to hold on to the West Bank until it's no longer considered occupied?

That's easy, Jeff: until Israel leaves the West Bank or gives the Palestinians Israeli citizenship.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 14, 2006 12:00 PM


I just wanted to correct your misinterpretation of events. Hamas is outside of the PLO and rejects any treaties with Israel--it in fact denies the right of Israel to exist. Moving back in time a little bit, before Hamas was elected, Abbas did nothing to crack down on the activities of Hamas or Islamic Jihad, so he can't be considered a viable partner. Max Weber defined sovereignty's essential attribute as the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. Arafat had untold groups of terrorists running around doing whatever they wanted and didn't crack down. So did Abbas, and so does Hamas. How can the Israeli government negotiate in that kind of environment? With whom does it negotiate? Why should Israel have to sign a separate peace with each Palestinian group? Believe me, Israel wants to negotiate (as you said, the war of attrition is dragging everyone down), but until the Palestinians get their own house in order, they don't have a shot at a negotiated settlement.

Posted by: Jeff at September 14, 2006 12:08 PM


Good point. I can assume, then, that the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem should no longer be considered occupied since Israel extended citizenship eligibility to the residents there?

Posted by: Jeff at September 14, 2006 12:13 PM

Wasn't France occupied by the Nazis. I think that was wrong. As for your question Jeff, I don't think need to answer since Michael already did. It's as simple as that. No matter how many justifications you want to give (they used to be military outposts etc. it used to be a buffer zone.... bla, bla, bla)

On your consideration on the hermeneutics of occupation I see that you align yourself with the Israeli position of no peace process because that is tantamount to giving up settlements.

There are around 3 million Palestinians in the West bank. You either give them their land (100 % of the West Bank and East Jerusalem) or you give them citizenship. The other solution is ethnic cleansing but that is not cool.

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 12:16 PM

Jeff, if the residents of the Golan and East Jerusalem desire independence from Israel, Israel will have to reckon with that, for sure.

But if they desire to remain part of Israel as equal citizens in a democratic society, then it's a bit of a stretch to refer to them as being "occupied" subjects. They are not like the stateless Palestinians who are citizens of nowhere and lack equal rights.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 14, 2006 12:19 PM

The other solution is ethnic cleansing but that is not cool.

Indeed. I don't think the proponents of "transfer" have ever actually thought what that would entail. The Palestinians would fight "transfer," of course. How do you foricbly move millions of people against their will without turning the West Bank into another Darfur? The answer is, you can't.

Israelis will never do this. Not after the Holocaust. The Sabra and Shatilla massacre produced a massive convulsion in Israeli society, and that was nothing compared to "transferring" millions of people.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 14, 2006 12:23 PM

Michael, I would not do much of Hamas spokesman words. He does not have to believe what he says, for him it is enough to believe that he is saying what will help for the Euro money to roll in, i.e. to give the Europeans a reason to vote for the aid money. This is not something new. Arafat used it all the time in his dealing with "international community", obviously Hamas operatives in charge of PR are as cynical.

BTW, much of the Arab/Palestinian demagoguery of imperialist oppression/disperation/Israel as an outpost of American agression/etc. was developed and supplied by the Soviets at the time when Arafat and Co were pretending to be Communists, as the Soviets were the best payers at the time. So IMO, Hamas spokesman "opinion" only shows that the money that is comming from the Arabs states are not enough for Hamas appetite and they disperately want Europeons to pay too. Also,was what he said printed in Gaza in Arabic too?

I can't believe the naivete of people asking why gazans dig their tunnels. The answer is - this is the job that pays. Smuggling weapons and goods is the best business in Gaza. Thus, keeping border crossings close is in the interest of the people in charge of smuggling business. Disperation MA.

Posted by: norar at September 14, 2006 12:24 PM


I know that Hamas is outside the PLO. Here is what wikipedia says:

Hamas attracted members through preaching and charitable work before spreading its influence into trade unions, universities, bazaars, professional organizations and local government political races beginning in December 2004. “Thanks to Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad (Israel’s Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks), the Islamists were allowed to reinforce their presence in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, the members of Fatah (Movement for the National Liberation of Palestine) and the Palestinian Left were subjected to the most brutal form of repression”, according to L'Humanité.39 Indeed Israel supported and encouraged Hamas' early growth in an effort to undermine the secular Fatah movement of Yasser Arafat [40]. According to UPI, Israel supported Hamas starting in the late 1970s as a "counterbalance to the Palestine Liberation Organization" [38]. At that time, Hamas's focus was on "religious and social work". The grassroots movement concentrated on social issues such as exposing corruption, administration of waqf (trusts) and organizing community projects.

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 12:27 PM


A couple of years ago there was a case of the one of the Palestinian poller's [Khalidi's?] office destroyed after he published data on the near 80% of Palestinian refugees being ready to accept compensation money and move to the Arab countries.

There would be certainly an option of offering Palestinians money to leave, but the "Arab world" would not stand for this. The Arab regimes have put enough efforts already to make "transfer" a durty word, nevermind that transfer, ot exchange of the populations and territories, have been exceptable and successful solution to many border conflicts.

Let's also not to forget that at Camp David in 2000 Barak offerred to Arafat a part of Israeli territory adjacent to North Samaria, that has majority Arab population, in exchange for some territory of the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. I don't remember anybody in the media minding this offer, except for the Israeli Arabs involved in it; they opposed it vegemently, of course, which is probably the reason it was not editorised more widely, for no amount of rhetorics could put a nice face on this strange opposition of the Arabs to live under the Arab rule of their hero Arafat.

Posted by: norar at September 14, 2006 12:49 PM

"The Arab regimes have put enough efforts already to make "transfer" a durty word, nevermind that transfer, ot exchange of the populations and territories, have been exceptable and successful solution to many border conflicts."

Which world do you live in ? So "transfer" is actually cool, but has become a "dirty" word because of those damn arabs ?!!! Do you have any sense of morality ????? What if I you are my neighbor, I'd like to build a tennis court but there is no more space in my yard. Can I come to your house and kick you out ? For me, that would be a an "acceptable and successful solution to a border conflict."

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 12:54 PM

Of interest Joe, what do you think of the forced transfer of 7,000 Jews out of Gaza?

Posted by: Mertel at September 14, 2006 12:57 PM

Once American soldiers in Iraq are sent back to the United States, will we call that transfer too ? Those 7000 Jews were militants who believed in the idea of Eretz Israel and the big majority of them was not born in Gaza. At some point they had to give the land they were occupying to its orignal owners, especially considering that in a land which is host to 1 million people, they controlled 40 of the land and 50 of the water. They also had their own roads which palestinians were not allowed to use.

Do the math :

1,000,000 Palestinians 7,000 Israelis

60% of land 40% of land
50% of water 50% of water

Is that Apartheid ????????????????
I think so.

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 01:05 PM

And then the Israelis claim that they can make the desert bloom. No wonder - with all that water for 7000 people they should have created rain forests by now.

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 01:08 PM

I find it unbelievable that twice I am attacked for my last name, Goldstein, just because I don't ascribe to some monolithic thuggish nationalism: Zionism. As if what Jew could possibly believe that the Palestinians were dispossessed by the creation of Israel and still believes the best solution is to end partition? For soon 60 years will have passed with the battle for separatism and inequality. It has gotten us to this point and every year has been a catastrophe. You can dress it up as the war on terror or you can prettify it as a "Vision for a Two-State Solution" but it's nothing but displacement and resistance. Israel wants to be welcomed then it should be ready to welcome the Palestinians. Now, that would be different from what has gone under the bridge for the past century. What kind of Jew would think that? This one- Goldstein.

Posted by: Alan Goldstein at September 14, 2006 01:13 PM

Joe, you seem to be getting worked up.

"Those 7000 Jews were militants"
What all of them? Even the babies and children. Wow, I didn't know that. Who did they kill?

"...who believed in the idea of Eretz Israel"
That's a crime now? You really sound like a fanatic. Even Arafat said he believed in the idea of Eretz Israel. Zionist pig!

"the big majority of them was not born in Gaza."
The Palestinians redefined the term refugee after 1948 to apply to anyone who had lived in the area for 2 years or more. So according to the Palestinian definition they are all now refugees.

Do the math Joe,
1,000,000 Palestinians
0 Jews

Is that Judenrein? I think so.

Posted by: Mertel at September 14, 2006 01:17 PM

Arafat believed in the idea of Eretz Israel ????? Maybe you should erect a memorial for him then next to Meir Kahane. Mertel, do you really think it is moral in a land of circa 1 million people that 7000 people control 50% of the water and 40% of land. Many settlers see themselves as the front guard of Israeli expansion (call them militants or Western pioneers if you wish) but if you are calling their eviction a Judenrein then you are belittling the Holocaust.

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 01:25 PM

Joe, do you even know what Eretz Israel means? It simply means the land of Israel. Arafat (unlike some of the people posting here) stated that he agreed there should be a Jewish state within the land of Israel.

You may be refering to "Eretz Israel Hashlema". Which essentially means Greater Israel, or the concept that Israel should expand it's borders and annex more territory. A concept that holds about as much currency in Israel at the moment as the Goldstein fantasy outlined above.

Obviously in your irrational rage you didn't detect my sense of irony. Your mathematical calculation of 'apartheid' makes no more sense than my mathematical calculation of 'judenrein'. I was just using that example to wake you out of your fundamentalist coma. You can see so clearly the differences in one case, but not in the other.

Posted by: Mertel at September 14, 2006 01:39 PM

And you forgot to answer my question:

"Those 7000 Jews were militants"
What all of them? Even the babies and children. Wow, I didn't know that. Who did they kill?

Posted by: Mertel at September 14, 2006 01:41 PM


There is still a difference between political Israel (the one that needs to respect UN resolutions), Eretz Israel and Kahanist Israel. Everytime I argue with pro-Israelis they end up escaping the real debate and resorting to saying that I am full of rage "Obviously in your irrational rage" or a fanatic "fundamentalist coma". Why don't you just call me terrorist, islamo-fascist, monster and so on. Isn't that the tactic Israel uses to demonize the Palestinians?

The way you are trying to retract your previous tactless statement perfectly portrays your sense of irony.

Should I laugh or should I cry ?

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 01:53 PM

Who did the settlers kill ? Instead of giving you a practical answer : say, Baruch Goldstein and the Kahane members. I'll say that the settlers have killed everyobody in the Israelo-palestinian conflict both Israeli soldiers protecting them and Palestinians fighting the latter. Aren't they the reason this whole bloody war exists?

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 01:58 PM

Laugh or cry, Joe, whatever.

Still waiting for you to either retract or explain your statement that all 7,000 Jews were militants.

Posted by: Mertel at September 14, 2006 01:59 PM

are they militants ?

watch this clip from the BBC :

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 02:00 PM

"Aren't they the reason this whole bloody war exists?"

Which war is that Joe? The one fought by Hamas after the settlers left Gaza? The massacre of Jews in Palestine before the state of Israel existed? The war to wipe Israel from the map in 48 or 56 or 67 before there was such a thing as settlers? The attack initiated by Hezbollah after Israel left southern Lebanon?

Did you actually read anything in the post we are all commenting on?

Posted by: Mertel at September 14, 2006 02:03 PM


I watched your video. It was of a settler in the West Bank. It didn't exactly explain how he was a militant.

Anyway I am still waiting for you to either retract or explain your statement that ALL 7,000 Jews in GAZA were militants

Posted by: Mertel at September 14, 2006 02:15 PM

Was Israel in the map in 1948 ? The way Arabs look at the conflict right now is not the same as they did up until 1988 in the UN and 1991 in Madrid when Arafat finally recognized Israel's right to exist. If before it was a colonial war and they wanted their independence just as almost all African and Asian countries under occupation had gained it (some as late as 1966), after 1991 the PLO realized that they can no longer dream of a historic Palestine and accepted a state on the 1967 borders, East Jerusalem as its capital, return of the refugees. This is the war they are fighting. Let me remind you that in 1991, when Arafat was ready to sit down and negotiate Shamir refused. He was pushed by the first George Bush who threatened to cut the 3 billion dollar/year aid to Israel. This year, when Hamas decided to hold a referendum on whether to accept Israel's right to exist, Israel launched an attack on Gaza and kidnapped 2 palestinian brothers. The next day Gilad was kidnapped and a week later two other israeli soldiers were kidnapped along the lebanese border. I would love to give you a more complete and objective history of the conflict, but yours (Jews good; Arabs bad) will probably suit your conscience. It's as cute as a Little Red Riding Hood narrative where the good one wins at the end.

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 02:22 PM

Alan Goldstein: I find it unbelievable that twice I am attacked for my last name, Goldstein, just because I don't ascribe to some monolithic thuggish nationalism: Zionism.

I didn't attack you for your name, Alan. I'm not an anti-Semite. I just find it ironic that the Hamas spokesman is more moderate and reasonable than you are. That's all. Carry on.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 14, 2006 02:24 PM

Watch the movie again and listen to every word he says. If you still don't understand, then I can't help you. Maybe they are not militants. Maybe they like to live really close to the Palestinians just because they love them so much; you know, so they can have block parties together, barbecue and all that stuff. Zionism in itself is a militant ideology.

Here is another video for you :

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 02:30 PM

to joe at September 14, 2006 12:54 PM

No amount of question and exclamation marks can make your rhetoric and you anal-ogies into an argument, or change the fact that transfers of populations and territories helped to settle many land and border conflicts, which is an historical fact.

Posted by: norar at September 14, 2006 02:32 PM

norar. you are one scary person. cambodia. vietnam. sudan. rwanda. nazi germany. ussr. are you really talking about the same kind of "population transfers" I am imagining? maybe I am misunderstanding what you are saying. I hope so because otherwise, you are one scary person.

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 02:37 PM

joe at September 14, 2006 02:37 PM

Do you really that obtuse that you try to replace an discussion on negotiated land and population transfer with the examples of ethnic cleansing?

Of course, it's your decision whether to play stupid and move the goal posts. However, you only provide a fine example for my earlier statement that your empty rhetoric does not stand examination by the historic facts, which is (I repeat last time for stupid and deliberately obtuse) - transfers of population and territores helped to end many border and land conflict through the history.

Posted by: norar at September 14, 2006 02:55 PM

norar. can you give any examples of successful transfer of populations and territories ?

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 02:58 PM

Joe, joe, joe

I watched that video too.... didn't even mention anything about settlers. Something tells me you're trying to avoid my question.... but I'll try again:

Please! can you either retract or explain your statement that ALL 7,000 Jews in GAZA were militants

Posted by: Mertel at September 14, 2006 03:09 PM

joe at September 14, 2006 02:58 PM

Your question comes way too late in our exchange to treat it is serioualy. You really aren't that clever, as you think. After all, you only show yourself to be too ignorant to take seriously anything you say above or will say in the future.

Posted by: norar at September 14, 2006 03:13 PM

norar. You have stripped yourself naked and are so speechless you are reduced to attack my intelligence. Please don't take me seriously if that will make you feel better.

Mertel, I already answered your question. Again, choose to face it or ignore it. Settlers are militants.

here is the definition of a militant :

a person who is aggressive or vigorous, esp. in the support of a cause

If you are implying that not all 7000 settlers in Gaza were militants because that number includes babies and children, then I concede, you are right. Babies and children do not have the rational capacity to comprehend the injustices committed by their parents, and so they are not militants.

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 03:25 PM


To address your earlier references to supporters of Greater Israel, the difference between the Palestinians and the Israelis is that Israel banned the Kahane party and its offshoots, but Palestinians celebrate the "achievements" of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Now on to the question of transfer. There are many successful examples of population transfer:

1) The Arab world cleansed itself of Jews after Israeli independence. Oh, I forgot, it's ok to ethnically cleanse Jews.

2) Czechoslovakia expelled 3 million Sudeten Germans after World War II.

3) In the partition of India and Pakistan, 5 million Hindus moved from Pakistan to India, and 6 million Muslims moved from India to Pakistan

4) You're going to love this one. Kuwait expelled 500,000 Palestinians during the Gulf War

5) Africa. I hope I don't need to elaborate.

None of these examples include genocide, so it would be hard for you to now claim that such a transfer could only be accomplished through genocide.

Posted by: Jeff at September 14, 2006 03:28 PM

Jeff. I like your disclaimer at the end

1) The Arab world cleansed itself of Jews after Israeli independence. Oh, I forgot, it's ok to ethnically cleanse Jews.

Was this a successful transfer ? Are you antisemitic ?

2) Czechoslovakia expelled 3 million Sudeten Germans after World War II.

Was this a successful transfer ?

3) In the partition of India and Pakistan, 5 million Hindus moved from Pakistan to India, and 6 million Muslims moved from India to Pakistan

Was this a successful transfer ? One million people died

4) You're going to love this one. Kuwait expelled 500,000 Palestinians during the Gulf War

Was this a successful transfer ?

5) Africa. I hope I don't need to elaborate.

Please do elaborate

I cannot possibly understand how Israelis can advocate population transfer considering they have suffered the most from it.

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 03:33 PM


What, by your definition, is a successful transfer of population?

Posted by: Jeff at September 14, 2006 03:39 PM

Same dilemma here. You should ask norar. He's the one who believes in the concept of "successful transfer of population".

Posted by: joe at September 14, 2006 03:51 PM


I catch your drift. I realize that any transfer of population will involve force, the only question is the degree. In that sense, a population transfer (with the aim of transfer) is successful if violence is kept to a minimum. The Jewish expulsion from the Arab world, in that sense, was successful (and by the way, my comment was sarcastic above.. in response to the idea that it's no big deal to transfer settlers). Sudentenland (forced, but not slaughtered), India/Pakistan (deaths due largely to the brutality of the journey and the nature of civil war) and Kuwait (as far as I know, without slaughter) were successful by this definition, Africa far less so (with the exception of the abject failures of Sudan and Rwanda, I'll concede those were genocide. Note that the "world community" doesn't seem to care about the one perpetrated by Arabs). For other African examples, look to Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Posted by: Jeff at September 14, 2006 04:18 PM

I've only read the first fifth of the comments and have to go back to work, but I just want to say that it strikes me that Diana and Alan are supporting not war, but a "cargo cult" copy of a war, mere self-defeating vendetta - death that can't possibly accomplish anything but suffering for everyone. (Google "cargo cult" if you don't know the story behind that term).

It's amazing to me that anyone could be so stupid.

Oh and great article Mike!

Posted by: Josh Scholar at September 14, 2006 05:59 PM

Israelis will never do this. Not after the Holocaust. The Sabra and Shatilla massacre produced a massive convulsion in Israeli society, and that was nothing compared to "transferring" millions of people.

Mike, Effi Eitam called openly for transfer again two days ago, and the accompanying article in the J.Post gave the pro-transfer forces 11% of the vote. Avigdor Lieberman wants to trade Israeli Arab-areas for West Bank settlements, and his party is large - although I don't think that his votes were voting for that specifcally.

Now, I don't think wholesale transfer is on the agenda right now, either - the international reprecussions would be unlike anything Israel's ever seen, and there's nowhere for the West Bank residents to go to except Jordan, and doing this would probably cause the collapse of the pro-Israel government in Jordan. Possibly other Arab governments.

However, having said all of that -

there's a lot of wiggle room between active ethnic cleansing en masse at gunpoint, and nothing. The populations will separate, one way or another. If the West Bankers gained Hizballah-level weaponry and started rocketing Ben-Gurion airport, the process of sorting out territory might become very greasy, and hey, who knows if the international media will decide to pay attention? Look at Gaza.

That's why it's important in this time - this time right now - that someone makes an effort to make it happen the easy way. Hamas just joined a government that Hamas says is free to negotiate with Israel. That's not where Hamas was in 1995. I doubt a full peace agreement is in the cards, but continued stonewalling on US/Israel's part will lead to a war-based reorganization of the land instead of a possibly calm one.

The prerequisite for the the possibility of rational behavior was the withdrawal. Withdrawal doesn't instantly end blind hostility, it just create the preconditions under which blind hostility can possibly.

By the way, three cheers, it's the first Pajamas Media post I've ever read with a predominance of left-wing trolls!

Posted by: glasnost at September 14, 2006 09:03 PM

but until the Palestinians get their own house in order, they don't have a shot at a negotiated settlement.

Jeff, authority in the occupied territories is disintegrating as an active outcome of intense Israeli efforts to destroy political and institutional structures, terrorist or non, in West Bank and Gaza since 1999. And you want to wait for Palestine to get its house in order? When the place becomes as chaotic as Somalia, will you still be waiting?

It's as if The US encouraged American citizens to move to Iraq and then, when Iraqi militants/terrorists attacked them, began to blow up the Iraqi government, without any attempt to support or create, or acknwoledge the existance of any new one - and then said they were waiting for the Iraqi government to "get its house in order" and deal with the anarchy they were creating!

Blame the US in the Iraq war - I sure do - but at least they are trying, badly yes, but attempting to put some sort of governemnt in place and back it up.

A parallel Israeli process would be wise.

Posted by: glasnost at September 14, 2006 09:26 PM


A lot of people are cynical regarding the "negotiate no matter what" stance. When Arafat was the dictator, he negotiated on the one hand and let the terror groups do his dirty work on the other. The PLO accepted Olso and Hamas did not. What happened? The PLO got to put on a song and dance for the world about how it was interested in peace, while Hamas and Islamic Jihad could continue to execute terror operations. After Arafat died, Abu Mazen had a window of opportunity where the world community was behind him and Palestinians looked to him to improve their situation. He failed to grab the brass ring and crack down on Hamas, and terror attacks continued. Now Hamas is in power, and guess what? Terror attacks continue.

It's not the responsibility of the Israeli government to set up a Palestinian government. On the contrary, such a government would have no legitimacy in the eyes of the Palestinian "street" and would be just as ineffective as the homegrown corrupt governments that the Palestinians have tolerated for so long. Israel can give up land and watch its front lines close around it even closer while the attacks continue, or it can maintain the status quo while the attacks continue and bide its time until the Palestinians empower a government that is willing to settle for a two state solution. Maybe Israel will wait forever, but better than caving to the Hamas attitude of "what's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine." Israel is taking the rational choice and choosing to not negotiate.

By the way, your analogy to American settlers in Iraq is so disingenuous it's hard to understand what you're saying, exactly. Are you saying that Jewish Israelis have no more connection to the land of Israel than Americans have to Iraq? Talk about delusional anti-Zionism.

Posted by: Jeff at September 14, 2006 11:00 PM

The Palestinians have the same choice to make they've always had. Nazism or improve their own lives. You can only do one, not both.

Posted by: joe at September 15, 2006 03:09 AM

Josh Scholar-

You accuse me of being a "cargo cultist" because I disagree with Zionism and suggest I 'google' the term. Well, according to Wikipedia, "Discussions of cargo cults usually begin with a series of movements that occurred in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century." In this sense perhaps the cargo cult is really Zionism itself. "Cargo cults thus focus on overcoming what they perceive as undue 'white' influences by conducting rituals similar to the white behavior they have observed, presuming that the ancestors will at last recognize their own and this activity will make cargo come. Thus a characteristic feature of Cargo Cults is the belief that spiritual agents will at some future time give much valuable cargo and desirable manufactured products to the cult members."

Now take those explanations and compare them to these thoughts from Jewish scholar Ahad Ha'am in 1897, as he responded to the 1st Zionist Congress: "The secret of our people's persistence is...that at a very early period the Prophets taught it to respect only spiritual power, and not to worship material power. For this reason the clash with enemies stronger than itself never brought the Jewish nation, as it did the other nations of antiquity, to the point of self-effacement. So long as we are faithful to this principle, our existence has a secure basis: for in spiritual power we are not inferior to other nations, and we have no reason to efface ourselves. But a political ideal which does not rest on the national culture is apt to seduce us from our loyalty to spiritual greatness, and to beget in us a tendency to find the path of glory in the attainment of material power and political dominion, thus breaking the thread that unites us with the past, and undermining our historical basis...."

"....I have a shrewd suspicion that this allegory can equally well be applied, with a slight change, to its inventors themselves. There is an old lady who, despairing utterly of regaining her lover by entreaties, submission and humility, suddenly decks herself out in splendour and begins to treat him with hatred and contempt. Her object is still to influence him. She wants him at least to respect her in his heart of hearts, if he can no longer love her. Whoever reads Die Welt attentively and critically will not be able to avoid the impression that the Western 'Zionists' always have their eyes fixed on the non-Jewish world, and that they, like the assimilated Jews, are aiming simply at finding favour in the eyes of the nations: only that whereas the others want love, the 'Zionists' want respect. They are enormously pleased when a Gentile says openly that the 'Zionists' deserve respect, when a journal prints some reference to the 'Zionists' without making a joke of them, and so forth... If I wished to go into small details, I could show from various incidents that in their general conduct and procedure these 'Zionists' do not try to get close to Jewish culture and imbibe its spirit, but that, on the contrary, they endeavour to imitate, as Jews, the conduct and procedure of the Germans, even where they are most foreign to the Jewish spirit, as a means of showing that Jews, too, can live and act like all other nations. It may suffice to mention the unpleasant incident at Vienna recently, when the young 'Zionists' went out to spread the gospel of 'Zionism' with sticks and fisticuffs, in German fashion. And the Zionist organ regarded this incident sympathetically, and, for all its carefulness, could not conceal its satisfaction at the success of the Zionist fist."

Posted by: Alan Goldstein at September 15, 2006 04:32 AM

Alan Goldstein,

I'll admit that I'm not clever enough to understand what the cargo cult reference was all about, either. That said...

Since Ahad Ha'am's views are "untainted" by the Holocaust, surely he must be right. The years 1900-1945 must have pleased you enormously, because the world had nothing but contempt for the Jews, but hey, at least they were spiritually pure. No state, no means of defending themselves (not even attempts at assimilation), sounds like a formula for success to me. The solution is clear. The Arabs were right all along--let's destroy Israel and "send the Jews back to where they came from." Or if they don't want to go back to Europe, they can go to the workers' paradise of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast so generously provided by that most enlightened of leaders, Joseph Stalin.


Posted by: Jeff at September 15, 2006 05:56 AM

Alan Goldstein

A zionist is simply someone who believes that the Jewish state has a right to exist. That means that, according to their own statements, Abbas is a zionist, Arafat was a zionist, and some members of Hamas are slowly but surely turning into zionists.

Get over it. You can rant on here as much as you want about how you don't believe Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state. Guess what? Israel aint about to negotiate itself out of existence.

If you really support the Palestinian people how about helping them accept reality rather than joining Hamas in expounding a radical ideology that results in nothing but misery and suffering.

Posted by: Mertel at September 15, 2006 06:50 AM

Diana writes: "They've got nothing better to do."

It's sad when it's the people who believe they are pro-Palestinian who have the lowest expectations of their capabilities.

They actually have lots better to do. And one day, I hope they achieve great things.

I'm in Israel right now - in Tel Aviv for one last evening after two weeks in the country - and just walked up from Jaffa to my hotel. Israeli Arabs have done (and are doing) great things in Jaffa and many families were enjoying the beach and the park across from the promenade for evening cookouts.

Was up in Herzliya for four days - and I could see four Mosques from my hotel - which hosted 2 Muslim weddings during my short stay there.

Ate dinner in the new port area of Tel Aviv - which was the apparent destination of two suicide bombers that Israeli authorities caught on their way there - last night. Saw several Muslim families - all the women in their hijabs - eating amongst everyone else.

Unfortunately, there's no way a comprably religiously dressed Jewish family would be able to eat in peace at a public restaurant on the other side of the Green Line.

Palestinans are as capable as anyone else of de-radicalizin,g just as they are as capable as everyone else at corruption and hatred.

Best of luck to them.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at September 15, 2006 08:34 AM

Jeff & Mertel

Since principle and morality seem to mean little in the equation (i.e. "help them accept reality" and "I doubt that Jewish Israelis will prioritize democracy over their own survival),I suppose that might makes right. I worry that the motivation is not bringing peace but transplanting the Warsaw Ghetto, not building a bridge but erecting Herzl's "rampart" of colonizers against the lesser beings of Asia.

Posted by: Alan Goldstein at September 15, 2006 09:52 AM

No Alan Goldstein,

Might doesn't make right. That's why the whole world is waiting for Hamas to renounce terrorism and get on with nation building.

There is no moral dilemma nor any sacrifice of principles in accepting Israel's right to exist, or seeking a two state solution.

The sooner you and others accept this, get off your shaky pedestals and start really helping the Palestinians, the better.

Posted by: Mertel at September 15, 2006 10:44 AM

It's sad when it's the people who believe they are pro-Palestinian who have the lowest expectations of their capabilities.

No kidding. Good Lord. I know some Palestinians, and none of them dedicate their time and energy to digging tunnels, firing rockets, and screaming about Jews. One of the Palestinians I know lives in Iraq and is helping the Kurds fix the agriculture sector that Saddam Hussein destroyed. He's plays a mean guitar, too.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 15, 2006 10:53 AM

Mertel, I don't think Israel will let Hamas or any Palestinian group get on with nation building. The idea of two-states is for the rhetoricians. But I think the strategy is to make that impossible, and after time (50 years, 100, 300 or whatever) and after enough have died Jordan and Egypt will just absorb what's left. You know the old line, there are 22 Arab countries and just one tiny Jewish State. Then again, maybe after the Abbas generation dies out and no Palestinian is left who was actually born within the present Green Line, the next generation will find it more palatable to turn their backs on their heritage and find betrayal acceptable. But if not, are you ready to put such a hurting on them that they will finally roll over and give up?

Posted by: Alan Goldstein at September 15, 2006 11:32 AM


Alan Goldstein is convinced that Israel won't allow the Palestinians to engage in building a nation (and instead is keen on building a "Warsaw ghetto", or expanding Jordan, or building "ramparts" or whatever).

I don't know how many Israelis Alan Goldstein has spoken to, but from all that I have spoken to, there is an overwhelming wish that the Palestinians would put away their weapons, get themselves together, and start building a peaceful productive society with which they could live in peace.

Perhaps you could enlighten us with your more broad and recent experience?

Posted by: Mertel at September 15, 2006 11:56 AM

Alan Goldstein,

"the next generation will find it more palatable to turn their backs on their heritage and find betrayal acceptable"

Wow, I think the only thing that's been betrayed is your own bias. If you think any Palestinian who agrees to the existence of Israel is a traitor, then you're asking for neverending war. Alan, I assure you that this isn't a game where Jewish Israelis will just give up and go home (wherever that might be in your opinion). I can also tell you that contrary to your belief that Jewish Israelis are some kind of monsters, they are humans, too. They want peace. But be aware that Arabs don't have a monopoly on the darker emotions, and your stance is merely encouraging hate to overwhelm hope.

By the way, if you're a Satmar, you should get back to studying. If you're a student of Noam Chomsky, you should know that he's never been acclaimed for his insights outside of the field of linguistics.

Posted by: Jeff at September 15, 2006 12:12 PM

It's quite the impossible equation when Israelis say they will negotiate only when the Palestinians calm themselves down and at the same time continuously provoking them. It's like if I demanded from someone to behave while at the same time kicking the shit out of him.

Here is how Sharon's advisor Dov Weisglass explained the Gaza withdrawal to Ha'aretz in October 2004:

"I found a device, in cooperation with the management of the world, to ensure that there will be no stopwatch here. That there will be no timetable to implement the settlers' nightmare. I have postponed that nightmare indefinitely. Because what I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns. That is the significance of what we did. The significance is the freezing of the political process. And when you freeze that process you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress. What more could have been anticipated? What more could have been given to the settlers?"

I also can't believe that people are so racist debating whether Arabs are inherently violent or not and whether they can sit down in a restaurant like normal people.

So now you are blaming it on genes ? I thought we were over that period. It's very simple. Close your eyes and imagine somebody kicking you out of your home, bulldozing your house and killing your mother. Does it make you angry ?

If yes, you might be arab.

Posted by: joe at September 15, 2006 12:15 PM

Here is what Ehud Barak said a couple of years ago :

"If I was born a Palestinian, I would have probably joined a terrorist organization."

Put his words and Weisglass' words together and you might get a good picture of how the majority of Palestinians feel.

Posted by: joe at September 15, 2006 12:22 PM

Joe's back

Joe, I read that Weisglass article. Your quote only makes sense when you read the entire thing.

First he very clearly explains that they tried and tried and tried to find a Palestinian leader with whom to negotiate a settlement:

"We reached that conclusion (that there was no-one to talk to) after years of thinking otherwise. After years of attempts at dialogue. But when Arafat undermined Abu Mazen at the end of the summer of 2003, we reached the sad conclusion that there is no one to talk to, no one to negotiate with. Hence the disengagement plan. Because when you're playing solitaire, when there is no one sitting across from you at the table, you have no choice but to deal the cards yourself"

Then he explains:
"For a great many years the accepted view in the world was that people turned to terrorism because their situation was bad. So that if you make things better for them, they will abandon terrorism. The Palestinian assumption was that when the Palestinian majority gets national satisfaction, they will lay down their arms and the occupiers and the occupied will emerge from the trenches and embrace and kiss. "Arik thought differently. He understood that in the Palestinian case the majority has no control over the minority. He understood that the ability of a central Palestinian administration to enforce its will on the entire Palestinian society is all but nonexistent. He understood that Palestinian terrorism is in part not national at all, but religious. Therefore, granting national satisfaction will not solve the problem of this terrorism. This is the basis of his approach that first of all the terrorism must be eradicated and only then can we advance in the national direction. Not to give a political slice in return for a slice of stopping terrorism, but to insist that the swamp of terrorism be drained before a political process begins."

And then:
Arik's realistic viewpoint said that it was possible that the principle that was our historic policy achievement would be annulled - the principle that eradication of terrorism precedes a political process. And with the annulment of that principle, Israel would find itself negotiating with terrorism. And because once such negotiations start it's very difficult to stop them, the result would be a Palestinian state with terrorism. And all this within quite a short time. Not decades or even years, but a few months."

All this before he gets to your paragraph about the disengagement plan. In other words, with no-one to negotiate with, they didn't want to be forced into a final settlement without the Palestinians abandonning terror. therefore they decided to take one disengagement step at a time. If the Palestinians continue with their terror attacks the process would be frozen, without further pressure on the Israelis. And that is what happened.

But note, this could only have happened because Sharon was essentially proven right and the Palestinians have proven themselves unable to abandon terror tactics even for the shortest period of time.

Finally, whatever Sharon's personal plans may have been, it is clear that the Israeli public elected a new PM, Olmert, based on the promise that he would create a Palestinians state and withdraw from the West Bank.

That won't happen now because Sharon's prediction came true - the Palestinian terror addiction is unbreakable.

Posted by: Mertel at September 15, 2006 01:01 PM

Can you present any reliable source to confirm that Barak said what you claim he said?

Also, whatever labels you choose to apply to or imply for Weisglass, it's certainly not his fault that since Israeli withdrawal from Gaza the only industries that florished there were tunnel digging and Kazzams production. And no amount of empty rhetorics can negate these facts, as well, as the fact that Weisglass's assumptions of what Palestinians would do given the freedom to do what they want have been proven to be based in reality, at least so far.

Posted by: norar at September 15, 2006 01:33 PM


The quote comes from an interview of Barak by journalist Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz. While I am at it here are more quotes from Israeli political figures from the past and now.

“[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs.”
– Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the ‘Beasts,”‘ New Statesman, June 25, 1982.

“We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?’ Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out!”
– Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979.

“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.”
– Golda Meir, statement to The Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969.

“Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories.”
– Benyamin Netanyahu, then Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, former Prime Minister of Israel, speaking to students at Bar Ilan University, from the Israeli journal Hotam, November 24, 1989.

“(The Palestinians) would be crushed like grasshoppers … heads smashed against the boulders and walls.”
– Isreali Prime Minister (at the time) Yitzhak Shamir in a speech to Jewish settlers New York Times April 1, 1988

“I would have joined a terrorist organization.”
– Ehud Barak’s response to Gideon Levy, a columnist for the Ha’aretz newspaper, when Barak was asked what he would have done if he had been born a Palestinian.

“Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Palestinian) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours…Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”
– Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, Nov. 15, 1998.

US. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was once quoted as saying about Americans "We own the banks and the media. Without us they are a stupid people."

I might as well be talking to a wall though. You seem to be getting your history from a fairy tell (me good; them bad). That suits your conscience and lets you sleep well at night but if you want to see the truth open your eyes real well. it is right in front of you.

Posted by: joe at September 15, 2006 02:26 PM

The only reality that matters is on a basic human level that this kind of reporting gives. Unfortunately this species of journalism is scarce in general and the Israeli side is really not seen. The pedestrian experience is relegated to the vast propaganda factories of the Arab cultures and their politically correct pseudo-socialist allies, or the mindless bits and pieces of mainstream media that are dangerous because of their simplicity.

The nonsense spouted useful idiots like Joe is the typical fabricated tripe touted as fact, but that is still several steps below the lies perpetrated by the Robert Fisks and Noam Chomskys of the world, under the veil of academic intellectuality.

Everybody is a fucking expert on this part of the world. Unfortunately they don't know shit. And you know why? It's because there are very few people who know anything of the history over the past 150 years.

There is no right or wrong on this one. There is just another human tragedy. There was no master plan. There was no ethnic cleansing. There was no wilful dispossession. There were just many events in a very complex history that is far beyond this blog. If you want to educate yourself, perhaps the best work on the subject is Avneri's: "The Claim of Dispossession: Jewish Settlement and The Arabs 1878 - 1948. He is an Israeli but the work is a scholarly gem. If you want more, there are numerous independent original sources that pre-dated the conflict which convey revealing history of the bleak condition of the land and its people, Arab waves of immigration, the land purchases by Jews from willing landowners and tenants eager for money, ancient Jewish communities etc. etc. etc. It's all there.

As I said, the real truth is in the human element. People all want and need the same things. Ideology is simply dehumanizing and it prevents any movement. What we have here on the Arab side are cultures that are steeped in hatred filled with unwashed and programmed masses that are manipulated with gross emotions by those with a program.

Ask Walid Shoebat or better still go to his site:
Here is a Palestinian from a distinguished family, a former PLO fighter and self-confessed terrorist who describes Palestine as a psychosis. This is based primarily upon his assertion that all aspects of that society project a demonizing of Jews. Palestine as a national entity is a relatively recent and convenient phenomenon. As Shoebat says: ' on June 4, 1967, I was a Jordanian, but on June 5, I was a Palestinian.' Palestine previously was only a concept for liquidating the Jews on any land that was not occupied by Arabs. Prior to 1948, it was only part of an amorphous pan-Arab entity. There was no idea of a distinct nation in the modern sense. The West Bank? It was just part of Jordan that it grabbed in 1948 and drove out all the Jews who had been living there for centuries. The Palestinian refugees from what is now Israel? Remember that fat pig Nasrallah telling all the Arabs to leave Haifa? What do you think happened in 1948? Many stayed and the result? A million Israeli-Arabs today. I would submit that this a far more believable story than the ethnic cleansing crap generated by the ususal suspects.

Palestine itself is a myth. There is no homogeneous people who have lived there since time immemorial. The entire population of the entire area according to Ottoman Records was static from the 1600s andl no more than 250,000 people until major waves of immigration began in the latter part of the 19th century.

There are reams of bullshit that have been perpetrated by liars with their own agendas.

The only thing that matters are individuals and the achievement of their needs. Who is going to let that happen? As long as the Arab societies are steeped in ignorance and hatred and kept in line by the thugs, there will be nothing but more of what has happened, again and again.

This is nothing but a human tragedy that is meaningless to ideologues and their useful idiots.

Education is the answer but it will take generations, if ever. If there is a chance, it is the human stories that will make the difference. It is however, much more difficult to propagate that from the other side because deviation is not tolerated and met only with brutality. Ask Shoebat or the other ex-terrorists like Zak Anani, and Ibrahim Abdallah who risk their lives by speaking out.

Keep up the great work Micheal. It gives eternal pessimists like me a glimmer of hope.

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at September 15, 2006 09:58 PM

You accuse me of being a "cargo cultist" because I disagree with Zionism and suggest I 'google' the term.

Uhm, no. That's not even slightly related to what I actually wrote.

Once again, I wrote:
...but I just want to say that it strikes me that Diana and Alan are supporting not a war, but a "cargo cult" copy of a war, mere self-defeating vendetta - death that can't possibly accomplish anything but suffering for everyone.

Alan, you wrote over 500 words attacking a strawman. Poor show. I suppose if you were willing to answer the charge I made you would have already done so.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at September 15, 2006 11:07 PM

Yikes, away for a week and just spent an interesting 3 hours reading this thread. As MJT pointed out in his last comment, the bigotry of low expectations that (supposed) Palestinian sympathizers like joe, Alan "the-mirror-image-of-Baruch" Goldstein and Diana share is, ironically, completely unhelpful in alleviating Palestinian suffering or advancing their cause.

ankhfkhonsu just presented the historicist argument, and Josh Scholar just presented the semantic argument; I shall present a hypothetical one for the three of you:

WHAT IF between 1945-2006 Ashkenazi (European) Jews, having had their property stolen, livelihoods destroyed and families annihilated by the Nazis and their allies, decided to remain in European displacement camps, and lob explosives into post-fascist German, French and Eastern European discos and cafés?

WHAT IF these Ashkenazi Jews were annually given millions of dollars, and millions of armaments, by the Western World, in order to invest in and police themselves, respectively, but their leaders used these funds to build mansions in America while the rest remained impoverished, save for using said armaments to launch attacks on European discos and cafés?

And, finally, WHAT IF these Ashkenazi Jews had lived in Europe for the previous 1900 years and claimed that there is no other Jewish homeland but Europe, save for the inconvenient fact that there was never a sovereign Jewish state in Europe?

So, given the above situation, I have three questions for joe, Alan Goldstein and Diana:

1. Is the Ashkenazi Jewish claim to "resistance" and a right to an ethnically homogeneous homeland justified in taking the form of an armed struggle (which is coupled with a total lack of investment in civilian infrastructure)?

2. Whether justified or not, are the past 60+ years of Ashkenazi Jewish acts of violence conducive to their present and future well-being as a people?

3. Finally, how should these post-fascist European nations, who are being attacked by Ashkenazi Jews on a weekly basis, react to this unabated aggression?

I look forward to your responses.

Posted by: jjdynomite at September 15, 2006 11:39 PM

Half-troll Joe, where is your reference to Israel kidnapping Palestinians before a referendum?

I support Abbas holding a referendum because it would provide a way for Hamas leaders to accept Israel without abandoning their principles unless the people decide.

Arafat never signed any document explicitly accepting the right of Israel to exist, as far as I know -- I understood the wording was always merely an implicit recognition.

The Golan Heights were not part of Jordan, but taken from Syria -- most accept that Israel won't give them up (for security reasons).

Land swapping, especially giving up majority Arab-Israeli land, is ON the table because of the demographics, AND because of some West Bank settlements, mostly now on the Israeli side of the WB wall.

I anticipate a WB wall border between Israel and the WB Palestine, despite the fact that with that wall Israel took even more land -- it was less then 5%. Less than the amount Slovakia lost to Ukraine after WW II (Ruthenia). I can also imagine going back to the '67 borders, but think that it's less likely.

Yet Joe and other trolls want Israel to change -- the key is that the Palestinians must change. They do NOT accept UN Human Rights of Free Speech and Free Religion. Palestinian killers murder Palestinians who disagree, and are not brought to justice -- this is how "force on the ground" rules.

However much injustice has been done by Israel, so far, the key to peace is for Palestinians to want it. To want it enough to accept Israel, to accept no "right of return"; possibly to accept the WB wall.

While this thread is interesting, the lack of discussion of what to do now, 2006 and forward, makes the trolls and half-trolls much less relevant.

Education is not as much the answer as wanting peace. Wanting peace w/o education will work while education w/o wanting peace will not. The peaceniks may want peace too much, so much that their appeasement creates more demands rather than peace. But at least they're right at how horrible war is. The Palestinian lovers of Jew-murder don't seem to think war is horrible enough to accept Israel.

Since EU money is one of the key issues, Israel should be addressing where, and to whom, the money goes. I suggest it should only go to private, non-political folk. Private shops selling food; private hospitals offering medical care. NOT to the (terrorist) Hamas gov't.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 16, 2006 01:43 AM

Liberty dad,

Can you answer two questions for me :

1. What is Liberty ?
2. Do you believe that Palestinians are genetically equal to Jews ?

Here is an answer to your concerns and considerations:

Most Americans have never heard of the Deir Yassine massacre when the Irgoun, one of the terrorist branches of the Israeli army, killed 250 Palestinians; or how the Haganah, the official Israeli army, in various Palestinian villages like that of Haker, used to kill a few Palestinians and let their corpses hang from trees, thus sending to the rest of the villagers a message of what they should be expecting. The massacres and the hangings were part of a strategy to incite the local Arabs to flee and leave free ways for the foundation of the "Biblical" Jewish State. The reactions of the new Israeli population to these strategies were diverse.

In a France 3 television documentary aired in 1984, on the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, Israeli writer Aron Amir states,

"I remember well the day of Deir Yassine, since it is the most famous or, if you will, the most infamous case, and I must admit that at the time I believed that it was necessary because it has successfully brought about the flight of the [Palestinian] fighters, who, in reality, were stronger than the weak forces of Israeli clandestineness."
In the same TV documentary, kibbutzin Nissan Rilov describes how already in 1936, under the protection of the British army, he also helped in the expulsion of local Palestinians, "In one day, in order to start building [our homes] on this land, with bulldozers that existed then, primitive bulldozers unlike the ones that exist now, and with tractors, we destroyed the villages and kicked out all the Arabs out, and I remember something that has always struck me. It was how the children and the women threw themselves in front of the tractors and refused to leave. There was a strong resistance of the Palestinians against the destruction of their villages, and that had really touched me."

In The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, Israeli Historian Benny Morris describes how following the expulsion of the Palestinians, Aharon Zisling, the Minister of Agriculture, expressed his disgust concerning the situation to the Israeli cabinet on November 17, 1948,

""I couldn't sleep all night. I felt that things that were going on were hurting my soul, the soul of my family and all of us here ... Now Jews too have behaved like Nazis and my entire being has been shaken."
The truth about the Palestinian Diaspora, or the Naqba, as it is referred to by present day Palestinians, is still denied by today's Israeli government.

Other Israelis, however, who had lived it and sometimes even helped create the Naqba, do not deny the fact that Arabs were expelled.

Yosef Weitz director of the Jewish National Fund's Lands Department once wrote, "It must be clear that there is no room in the country for both people ... the only solution is a Land of Israel, at least a western Land of Israel without Arabs. There is no room here for compromise. ... There is no way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries ... Not one village must be left, not one (Bedouin) tribe."

For people like Yosef Weitz, the expulsion was necessary for the creation and survival of Israel. These latter Israelis usually play a role, which as Jews, they seem entitled to: their role as victims.

This self-victimization, however, does not seem to be a characteristic inculcated in their modern post-Holocaust identity, but rather is a political strategy. Since the foundation of Israel, the Palestinians have been portrayed as aggressive, anti-Semitic terrorists who want to take over Israel and want to make the life of Jews a living hell. The Palestinians are Goliath, and the Jews are David.

For example, during the present conflict, the new uprising or Intifada, the American media and [US Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright herself have said that the Palestinians were besieging Israel.

This statement seems ridiculous when you see the reality in the streets.

The Palestinians are trying to free their homeland (the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem) from Israeli occupation. They haven't even approached the land of Israel. Thus, the Palestinians are not besieging Israel.

It is the Israeli tanks that encircle the Palestinian villages and refugee camps, and it is not the Palestinian stone throwers that are encircling the Israeli cities! It is the Israeli Apache helicopters that fire missiles on Palestinian demonstrators and homes. It is the Israelis that even under the Barak government confiscate Palestinian land and hand it to new Jewish immigrants from Russia and the United States. The 160 deaths and the 7000 wounded are Palestinian. So who is besieging whom?

Who is David and who is Goliath? If the Native Americans ever wanted to get back the land that they lost 200 years ago and demonstrated, and the United States responded by firing LAW missiles at the reservations, would Madeleine Albright say that the Native Americans are besieging the USA?
To prove that Israel's security was in danger, Dr. Netanyahu, ex-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's father and university professor in the USA, openly stated that the Arab race was inherently violent. Rabbi Ovadia Joseph, head of the Shass party, called the Arabs "snakes", and Arafat himself has usually been compared to Hitler.

When viewed as such, the Palestinians seem to be the kind that should never be trusted and never be believed, especially when they declare that they accept the existence of Israel, an acceptance, Yasser Arafat did in 1974.

In the same 1984 France 3 TV documentary on the war of 1948, presenter Philippe Alfonsi succeeded in bringing to the same table Mrs. Raymonda Tawill, head of the Palestinian Press Agency, and Mr. Abba Eban, president of the committee on foreign affairs at the Knesset, to talk about the first Arab-Israeli war.

At one point, Raymonda Tawill deviated from the subject and the war of 1948 and said, "I want my state, we Palestinians want our state. Now we accept the state of Israel. Where is our nation? Why hasn't our nation been founded yet? Why do the Israelis still refuse to give the Palestinians their stateن? The circumstances have changedن. We demand our rights. Arafat, all the Arab nations, the Fez Plan, the Geneva Plan, they all declare clearly that we accept the two states."

During the interview, right when Mrs. Tawill said that she accepted the Israeli State, Mr. Eban removed his microphone and consequently left the room, demanding presenter Philippe Alfonsi to not broadcast the interview.

Apparently, Raymonda Tawill had put Abba Eban in an embarrassing situation by publicly accepting Israel and presenting a cooperative image; the Israelis have always refused to acknowledge in the Palestinians.

In the International Herald Tribune of November 2, 2000, Senior Security Adviser for Israel, Danny Yatom, deplored the fact that Israel had to deploy repressive machinery against the Palestinians, and, thus, loose its image as a "besieged victim".

When discussing on how to respond to the Palestinians, Danny Yatom told Israeli television,

"We have to consider our reaction and we have to do this cool-headedly. We don't have to attack with such force and weaponry that we remind the whole world that we are the stronger party."
In the name of security, Israel had invaded Palestine and the Golan Heights in 1967 and Southern Lebanon in 1982. It used these areas as "buffer zones". In the name of security, Israel has also deployed soldiers and sometimes tanks to protect the settlers that chose to live in Arab villages. In the name of security, Israel has destroyed Palestinian homes and villages. It is for this reason that self-victimization is dangerous, because it tends to portray the other as dangerous and uses all means (even invasion and transgression) for "self security". Haven't the Nazis, the Serbs, and the Apartheid South Africans used the same tactic? They declared the other side dangerous and, thus, for their own security went on to annihilate, expel, or simply humiliate it.

So is Israel really trying to protect its land, a land the Palestinians have already accepted, or does it want to expand its borders?

The media in the West has consistently failed to illustrate Israel's racist policy towards the Palestinians. Fortunately, some intellectuals have raised their voice and condemned Israel's policies and the continuing colonization of Palestinian land. Ironically, most of these intellectuals are Jewish and often Israeli too. They are journalists and writers like Norman Finkelstein, Benny Morris, Simha Flapan, Tom Segev, Avi Schlaim, Ilan Pappب, Amnon Kapeliouk, Gideon Levy, Edmond El Maleh, Rabbi Michael Lerner, or Amira Hass.

This latter, a journalist at Ha'aretz, a very liberal Israeli newspaper, described the reason for this phenomenon:

" In Ha'aretz, we enjoy a bigger liberty than at the New York Times, at Le Monde, or at the Guardian, where any journalist who published the beginning of half the fourth of what I write would be taxed with anti-Semitism."
The eternalizing of the specter of the Holocaust and its absorption into Jewish identity has rendered the Jews and, consequently, Israel eternal victims immunized against any blame or criticism. This phenomenon has put the Western journalist and academia in a delicate situation, so that when referring to Israel, it would always assume a "pro-Israeli impartiality".

Posted by: joe at September 16, 2006 11:05 AM


From your hypthetical questions you seem to be justifying the Holocaust. So do you mean that the Nazis were right is exterminating or deporting the Jews and that Israel must do the same with the Palestinians ?

Posted by: joe at September 16, 2006 11:11 AM

Joe, next time you copy and paste something from the internet, how about you acknowledge where you stole it from:

Or even better, just provide us with the URL of whichever anti-Israel website it is that you found and we can check it out for ourselves.

It seems that you respond to any argument by simply avoiding it and finding another obscure internet reference to simply start another argument. (That's how you responded half a dozen times to the very very simple question I asked you before you finally gave your half-baked answer).

If you want to talk, examine your views, and hear what others have to say fine. If you just want to quote looney anti-Israel propaganda, why don't you go set up your own website and see how many hits you get.

And please don't bother responding to this with another obscure URL.

Posted by: Mertel at September 16, 2006 11:28 AM

Also for liberty dad, on the referendum before the Israeli kidnapping, here is a little timeline:

June 21 2006: Climbdown as Hamas agrees to Israeli state

June 24 2006: Israel captures pair in Gaza raid


June 25 2006: Palestinians capture Gilad Shalit

June 28 2006: Ongoing peration summer rains starts

July 12 2006 : Hizbullah captures 2 Israeli soldiers

Maybe you would have known this if you didn't get your news from the 700 Club

Pro-Israelis hate it and close their eyes and ears whenever there is a peace proposition from Palestinians or Arabs. The very idea trumps your whole rhetoric that the other is inherently retrograde, evil, mean, bloodthirsty, etc. and that your actions against Palestinians are justified.

A Palestinian for you guys will always be a terrorist, an irrational being, a troll or whatever other name you want to give him or her. The day when you accept that he or she is also a human being, you will be pushed to have peace negotiations, but unfortunately many right-wing Israelis as well as many fanatic Christianists just look at peace as giving back land to the palestinians, and thus they will never accept it.

Since you can't plainly say you're against peace, you simply defer it by saying that there is no interlocutor on the other side, which is just another version of what Golda said in 1969 : "There is no such thing as the Palestinian people."

Posted by: joe at September 16, 2006 11:37 AM


i WROTE THAT article.

Posted by: joe at September 16, 2006 11:40 AM

Only people like you, Faycal, er, joe, would come to the conclusion that my hypothetical post would imply a justification for the Holocaust. It was actually a parable to suggest that the Ashkenazi Jews picked up the pieces of their lives and now, based on a 0.25% of the world's population, have won 25% of the world's Nobel Prizes:

On the other hand, since the Palestinian "Naqba", Palestinians have become worldwide leaders in suicide bombings. From Wikipedia under "Suicide Attacks":

"Suicide bombing has, since 1993, been a particularly popular tactic amongst some Palestinian groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Bombers affiliated with these groups often use so-called "suicide belts", explosive devices (often including shrapnel) designed to be strapped to the body under clothing. In order to maximize the loss of life, the bombers may seek out cafés or city buses crowded with people at rush hour, or less commonly a military target (for example, soldiers waiting for transport at roadside). By seeking enclosed locations, a successful bomber usually kills a number of people.

Palestinian television has aired a number of music videos and announcements that promote eternal reward for children who seek "shahada", which Palestinian Media Watch has claimed is "Islamic motivation of suicide terrorists". The Chicago Tribune has documented the concern of Palestinian parents that their children are encouraged to take part in suicide operations. Israeli sources have also alleged that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah operate "Paradise Camps," training children as young as 11 to become suicide bombers."


But hey, let's give them a state! So, to recap, one ethnic group rises from the ashes of their 1940s tragedy to become an economic and academic powerhouse; the second wallows in their 1940s tragedy and in so doing is no further along the path to progress, modernity and self-determination than they were in 1947.

However, you keep defending the Palestinians' misguided and fruitless efforts all you want, Faycal, er, joe. Because if not for the Israelis, the Palestinians would be world leaders in academia and business, am I correct?

Do Ashkenazi Jews today blame the Germans? Well, they may not buy Volkswagen, but the majority have gotten on with their lives. As for you, enjoy while you can, because when the Islamists establish Sharia law in France, your Internet privileges will be taken away. No more modernity for you!

Posted by: jjdynomite at September 16, 2006 05:38 PM

Hi jjdynomite,

I have never questioned the intelligence and brilliance of jewish philosophers, thinkers, and scientists whether it be since 1901 (beginning of the Noble prize) or since Maimonides. That however does not justify murder. On the contrary it just shows that Jews throughout history have kept a standard of morality which helped them excel and which they are in the process of losing if they keep on calling for "population transfers". I think you'd like to know that even though 23% of the Noble recipients were Jewish only 5 Israelis have won the award. One of them was Shimon Peretz. Members of the nobel jury later demanded that they retract it. The other was Rabin. He was assassinated by an Israeli.

You'd also like to know that the most prominent of those nobel prize winners and the most known was Alfred Einstein. Here is what he had to say about Israel :

"My awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain -- especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks, against which we have already had to fight strongly, even without a Jewish state."

Another prominent Jewish thinker who should have gotten the nobel prize but didn't was Sigmund Freud. Here is what he had to say :

Letter to the Keren Hajessod (Dr. Chaim Koffler)

Vienna: 26 February 1930

Dear Sir,

I cannot do as you wish. I am unable to overcome my aversion to burdening the public with my name, and even the present critical time does not seem to me to warrant it. Whoever wants to influence the masses must give them something rousing and inflammatory and my sober judgement of Zionism does not permit this. I certainly sympathise with its goals, am proud of our University in Jerusalem and am delighted with our settlement's prosperity. But, on the other hand, I do not think that Palestine could ever become a Jewish state, nor that the Christian and Islamic worlds would ever be prepared to have their holy places under Jewish care. It would have seemed more sensible to me to establish a Jewish homeland on a less historically-burdened land. But I know that such a rational viewpoint would never have gained the enthusiasm of the masses and the financial support of the wealthy. I concede with sorrow that the baseless fanaticism of our people is in part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust. I can raise no sympathy at all for the misdirected piety which transforms a piece of a Herodian wall into a national relic, thereby offending the feelings of the natives.

Now judge for yourself whether I, with such a critical point of view, am the right person to come forward as the solace of a people deluded by unjustified hope.

Your obediant servant,


As for the Palestinian response. Unfortunately, the Palestinian cause has went from national to Islamic. The cult for martyrdom has made them look like crazy fanatics and Israel was but too happy to point at them with its finger and show the world. But one has to ask what can push someone to committ suicide and want to kill civilians. Since the beginning of the last Intifada, the ratio of palestinian deaths to Israeli ones is 6 to 1. Is the fact that Israelis don't explode themselves but use apache helicopters and missiles make their murders less savage less brutal ?

As for assuming that France will become a sharia state is as preposterous and as racist as saying that the United States will become Africa because there too many blacks in it or Mexico because there are too many mexicans.

For the second time tonight you are offering a view point that scarily resembles that of the Extreme Right Wing parties of Europe and of Le Pen who actively calls for the expulsion of Arabs from France but who is also someone who has questioned the veracity of the Holocaust.

Posted by: jjdynomite at September 16, 2006 07:39 PM

Sorry jjdynomite, I posted that last comment under your name, but I mean to post it under mine, joe, er, Faycal.

Posted by: joe at September 16, 2006 07:40 PM

"Well, like some other tiny nations- Malta, or Monaco, for instance- they could leverage a small Mediterranean coastal state into a succesful economy, and perhaps rich arab sheiks would choose to anchor their yachts there"

Better yet, they could be Singapore - you don't need lots of land to have successful high-tech startups. The palestinian diaspora is highly educated, but why should they go home to squalor and graft? There's even no point in them starting any enterprise because the armed groups will take their cut and sabotage them if they are too successful.

Posted by: Yehudit at September 17, 2006 01:21 PM

"I've got no problem with Israel's existence. I've got a problem with Israel's embrace of Zionism. I've got a problem with the idea of Jewish separatism. I've got a problem with Zionism's basic premise of dispossession and its desire to be a "rampart" of the west against the east. That is essentially its racist or colonialist foundation. . . . . to come to Palestine to live and prosper by themselves,have the country taken from the indigenous population, enforce a Jewish majority, and become the dominant force in the land."

The Jews are the indigenous population. Jews have lived there continuously for 3000 years. Jews have been ethnically cleansed from Israel repeatedly for 2500 years. Half the Jews in Israel are from Arab countries, so how is it a Western colonial enterprise? Not to mention that European Jews were always seen as Middle eastern, as foreign, NOT as Western, that is one of the main tropes of European antisemitism. it's a bitter irony that now israelis are symbols of the West.

Jerusalem has been majority Jewish for 150 years, just from immigration. And would be more, from farther back in time, if Jews had been allowed to move back there unhindered, since the destruction of the temple.

Zionism is the expression of the Jewish people's feeling for its homeland, which is Israel.

You want to respect the palestinians as a people who want their own country and their own identity, but you want to deny that to Jews at the same time.

Posted by: Yehudit at September 17, 2006 01:29 PM

It appears that a great deal of historical fact is missing from this discussion. Let's start with the question of "Palestinian land":

Most of the land in Israel was indeed siezed from it's owners. It was not however siezed from the ancestors of those now called Palestinians, nor was it siezed by Israel or any Jewish group. In 1916 the area which is now Israel, the territories and Jordan was conquered by the British who promptly anounced that any land previously owned by Ottoman absentee land lords was now British property. This was great news for the then share copers and tenents on the land as they no longer had to pay rent. It did not affect the Jewish community significantly as the Jews owned all the land they were using (and a bit more besides). Over the years 1920 to 1947 Jews bought a fair amount of land in each case not only paying the british for the land but also negotiating a settelment with the tennents (who if you'll recall hadn't at this point been paying rent for years so strictly speaking should not have been entiteled to any compensation) but still in 1947 only a small percentage of the land was owned by Jews. Then the British left and after things setteled down the newly formed Israeli goverment found itself facing a tangle of land claims with no actul british registry of the ownership. The solution was to declare that anyone who could trace ownership to the Ottoman registry was declared the owner. The Jewish land owners immediatly rushed to get everything squared away, the Arabs, even those few who actually owned the land they worked ignored the anouncment for the most part but kept pretending the land was theirs. To this day anyone who can trace ownership back to the Ottomans gets the land title, but for the most part people can't and 90% of all land in Israel is officially owned by the goverment. However as long as it doesn't actually need a particular piece of land you can use it for whatever you want and the Arabs generally do and then act surprised and offended when told to clear out and offered minimal compensation.

Next issue resource disposition in the Gaza strip: A big deal was made up thread of 7000settelers using 50% of the watter. This is not true. Gaza has one of the larger underground acqufiers in Israel and Mekorot, Israel's water company (the people who lay the water pipes in Gaza and drilled and operate practically all the wells in Gaza) pump out that water and send it where it's needed. Admitadly what at first glance appears to be a disproportionate (although no where near 50%) of the water pumped out went to the farms and greenhouses owned by the Israelies in the area but it's ownly at first glance since the water used by the Palestinians is almost solely home usage while a large portion of the water which on paper went to the Jews was for the farms and greenhouses which had been providing the Palestinians with their liveliehood (at least until it became too dangerous for the farm owners to hire them and they began importing foreign labor at a higher total cost then what the Palestinian labor had cost.) This incidentally also adresses the issue of land usage - farms use more land then apartment buildings.

The Gaza settelers were militents: Many of them were moving to Israel from America or in some cases Europe and setteling where theywould cause the most difficulty. Some weren't militant but still believed in 'Eretz Israel Hashlema' and so looked to settle on Israel's borders to help protect it but many were simply offered a job managing a frower farm or a set of greenhouses and since the pay was good they took the job and then were stuck without enough money to move to someplace else. This last group is were the actual hardship in leaving the Gaza strip (as opposed to the emotional pain the extremists put us through) comes from as several billion dollars of foreign exchange are gone, the companies which invested in the projects initially not about to reinvest.

The Palestinian people: The Palestinian did not exist as a people until the 70s and even then it was arguable. In 1947 'Palestinian' meant someone from the area known as Palestine which currently includes Jordan. Over time the meaning changed and then the refugees began to develop an identity as something other then the weapon the Arab nations were making of them.

Posted by: Mickey Zvi Maor at September 17, 2006 07:57 PM

“...we had international backing at one point to an unprecedented degree”

This is flat out wrong. Jews only obtain “international backing” when they allow themselves to be murdered. Left-wing Israelis have unwittingly done enormous damage with their desire to be loved by the world.

Israel must also lower its unrealistic standards protecting innocent civilians during military operations. The terrorists cannot be ultimately defeated if the West is not willing to accept higher “collateral damage” figures. And yes, my position is moral. It is the same as that of Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. WWII could not have been won if the allies embraced the more pacifist standards of today’s naive leftists.

Posted by: David Thomson at September 18, 2006 12:11 PM

Joe, I've been commenting on Michael's site for some 3 years now. I've always maintained that the initial creation of Israel was not completely just.

Yes, there were Jewish terrorists terrorizing Arabs.
Like the KKK lynching blacks in the South.

But this was significantly due to the FACT that, in 1947 the UN partition plan was for two states, but the Arabs refused to accept Israel or the Palestinian state. So fought a war in 1948, mostly lost (without surrender); the active fighting paused with the 1949 Armistice.

The key, today, is not body counts of who dies the most -- one would expect the stupid to die in greater numbers. The key is this: are there more Arabs living in Israel with human rights, or more Jews living in the PA controlled West Bank, or Jordan, or Egypt, with human rights?

The moral superiority of Israel is definitively shown, for me, by their willingness to let Arabs in Israel have free speech and free religion -- human rights most surrounding Arab countries don't allow.
Are too stupid to allow -- are controlled by thug gangs who don't allow it.

The 6 - 1 death rates show the stupidity of the current Palestinian culture, not the moral inferiority of Israel. This is especially clear in Lebanon.

The two terrorists picked up by Israel didn't bother me much; I had noticed them and noticed they were the sons of a Hamas activist and of course Hamas said the sons were not terrorists. I know Hamas lies, so don't believe their denial.

That second, later BBC article ends:
"Hamas, which refuses to recognise Israel, won control of the Palestinian government in elections in January. "

As long as Palestinian leaders refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist: a) they are stupid, b) they don't want peace "enough", and c) I will continue to support aggressive defense by Israel.

6-1, 10-1, why not 70 000 - 1 ? (Like 1945? too many? yes, too many women and children; but not young adult sons.) How many Palestinians must die before they recognize Israel's right to exist?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 20, 2006 03:55 PM


Posted by: mgbada aba at February 9, 2007 05:08 AM
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