Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Hello all!  It seems we've got one hell of a lot of angst on this whole Israel/Palestine issue.  We've really just had five or six people rehash the same arguments of late.  Not all of those arguments are bad, but we aren't really gaining any ground here.  Maybe I can stir things up a tad.  I'm going to present my own take on this, and maybe I'll be lucky enough to offend all sides.  No, I ain't gonna troll.  I think there's enough blame to go around.

First, I'd like to establish that I am an ardent supporter of Israel's right to exist.  Second, I am at least as ardent a supporter of Palestinian popular sovereignty.  If the Palestinians want their own state(s), then I support that.  If they want full citizenship in Israel, I fully support that.  It isn't up to me what works best for them, and all too often we outsiders forget that.

Okay, am I a Zionist?  This is a tricky question.  If you'd asked me that prior to the creation of the modern state of Israel I would have said "no." If you ask me if I think it was a mistake to found Israel where, when, and how it was founded, I would probably tell you that "yes, I think it was." If the question today is whether or not Israel should be secure, I have to say "absolutely yes it must be so." No people should live in the reasonable fear that their society will be torn asunder.  

But am I a Zionist?  I don't think so.  While a part of me thrills at the idea of a place where I could be a Jew among Jews, the rest of me realizes that however wonderful that ideal might be at first blush, the reality of Israel is far more complicated.  I cannot endorse, nor can I condone, what was done to the Palestinians to create Israel.  Nor can I accept what is done to them now.  This is evil.  What my fellow Jews do to the Palestinians is evil in my eyes.  No one will ever disabuse me of this notion.  However, the IDF hardly has a monopoly on evil over there.

I want the Israelis to have a secure home because it's 2009 and we are where we are.  The horror inflicted on my fellow Jews by the Nazis was not righted by committing yet another horror on the Palestinians.  The horror inflicted on the Palestinians can never be righted by inflicted another horror on the Israelis.  We are where we are, however we came here.

Supporting a free and secure state of Israel by no means requires me to endorse or condone any damned thing the IDF does.  I assure you that I am a harsh and loud critic of the IDF's excesses, which are too numerable to list hereabouts.  Frankly, I cannot see how Israel long survives without an equitable solution to the Palestinian situation.  Justice cannot be borne of rank injustice.  If the Israelis want a calm and peaceful present the Palestinians must have the same.  I do not accept a happy Israel if it comes at the cost of a hellish Palestine.  I reject that wholly.

However, anyone who thinks that what Hamas does is acceptable have lost their fucking minds.  Shooting at the IDF is an acceptable form of resistance against an occupying power.  Lobbing crude missiles in the general direction of Israel is NOT!  It is barbarity and incredibly brutish.  More broadly, it is simply nightmarish that some folks would strap on a bomb-overcoat and take out a disco or pizza joint.  This is not legitimate resistance.  This is not moral.  This is not right.  This is evil.  It is an evil borne of desperation, true, but it is no less evil for it.

It also won't work.

I'm Jewish, yes, but I'm also secular.  I'm American.  I'm a liberal.  I believe in freedom.  I crave equality for all under the law.  My Jewishness does not blind me to the hell my people have done to the Palestinians.  My compassion for the Palestinians does not blind me to the evil of Hamas nor the corruption of Fatah.  My humanity demands me to seek an equitable solution for both of these peoples.  Absent that we will see ever more bloodshed and strife until one group uproots or buries the other.

It is not anti-Semitism to say that Israel has committed immoral acts.  It is not Zionism to support the security of the state of Israel.  Yes, both of those things may be true from time to time, but they are not automatic.  I see two camps so mired in their own bullshit they fail to note that the truth is somewhere in between.  Yes, the Israelis are absolutely better equipped for war, but the Palestinians are willing to take things even further than the Israelis.  Seeing this tears me apart.

People like Canadian Gal are neither evil nor blind for the positions they take.  One can love Israel whilst wishing to see it better and gentler than it is, much as one can love a brother or sister who has committed a crime.  People like MainStreet are neither evil nor blind for the positions they take.  One can see the injustice done to the Palestinians without wishing to visit the same on the Israelis.

We have got to stop tearing one another apart over this thing.  There is no guiltless party.  There is no sustainable or equitable solution at the expense of only one of these parties.  Both must suffer.  Both will gain.  As for us lowly bloggers?  We need to stop treating one another as the enemy here.  We mostly want the same thing in the end.  We'd do well to remember that.

We'd also do well to remember that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are going to pack up and leave.

Tags: Israel, Judaism, Palestine, Zionism (all tags)




by Reaper0Bot0 2009-03-30 04:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Tips?

Nicely put.  

I support this diary "from the outside," lest my participation enable more distortion and distraction on this topic, which stands at the center of my political engagments.

by Strummerson 2009-03-30 04:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

I think we should be able to hash out Zionism in an evening!

thanks for this diary. I too think the term "zionist" has been thrown about too liberally and deserves definition and discussion. equating it with support for Israel is pointless but for some it seems that's what it often boils down to.

by Todd Beeton 2009-03-30 05:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Agreed. The way Zionist is bandied is almost as useless as the way any authority figure, judge or police officer was called a 'Fascist' a few decades ago.

Or calling Obama a 'communist' because of some bank bailout. Or all US forces 'crusaders'.

The problem I have, and others must share, is what does a gentile have to say on this issue? My leftish Jewish friends complain that this is exactly what bothers them - the language gets sealed up in ethnicity and observance, and therefore quickly becomes a label rather than a rationale. This was one of the strongest critiques of Herzl a hundred years ago. They suspect Zionism has an emotional appeal which eventually undermines the normal discourse of politics.

Following their advice I'm putting my toe in the water.

I fully recognise Israel as a modern democratic state - but I also recognise states I disapprove of, so I don't get need for an existential debate about this. The right to exist issue has become a roadblock on many routes to peace. But let's remember that nearly every state in the world gained 'recognition' through arms, civil war, revolt, coup, or some other force majeure. I'm not justifying it or applauding it, just noticing 1000 years of history.

This constant existential threat plays into the hands of extremists on both sides in Israel, Iran and of course in the occupied territories.

Israel exists, and as a nuclear power, with one of the best equipped armies in the world, the recognition of its right to exist is really not up to others to decide.

by brit 2009-03-30 06:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

"The right to exist issue has become a roadblock on many routes to peace."

The right to exist issue is only Israel's latest propaganda theme intended one must suppose to continue its colonization of the Palestinian territories. That has not stopped except for a lull during the Rabin administration. Everyday, Palestinians must tolerate their military occupation while they see their lands being confiscated and given dirt cheap to Jewish immigrants willing to live in settlements, the towns and cities Israel continues to expand. Nonviolent protest of these actions has continued for years, but because of news censorship in the US, we don't hear about. What we hear instead here in the US is about Israel's "security" and "right to exist." In short, we hear nothing about Israel's continuing colonization of lands belonging to Palestinians, contrary to international law and UN Resolutions.

The real issue here is not Israel's right to exist. Israel does exist. It is all about the right of Palestine to exist. That is what this conflict is all about, Israeli propaganda notwithstanding. And Israel is apparently doing everything it can to make that impossible day to day.

by MainStreet 2009-03-31 03:33AM | 0 recs
Good luck, dude...

... because about half of your diary identifies you as a "flaming anti-Semite" in some eyes and, evidently, a "self-hating Jew."  I applaud your call for rational discussion and finding common ground, but there's just way too much hate on both sides now.  Sadly, more people need to die before something sensible happens.

by TexasDarling 2009-03-30 06:12PM | 0 recs
Why succumb to the labelling?

Being 'identified' by arguments is just the return of identity politics through the back door. What real person fits into any of these real labels? And who, except those who want to split the world into apocalyptic shards of anger, would ever want to use those terms.

Let them wither with their platitudes. This debate is too important to left to the haters

by brit 2009-03-30 06:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Good luck, dude...

off the subject - wow, you actually did it.

Just make sure I get props.  Secret props.  You never know who's watching, and what their heavy thumbs are fixing to do.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 05:48AM | 0 recs
The corollary to the "should have"

question for Zionism is "is it sustainable?"

Or, to put it another way, is a modern, pluralistic, democratic Zionism possible?  

Can Israel move forward in the manner meant for its founders, or is it condemned to slouch towards being yet another repressive, intolerant, discriminatory middle eastern power in a constant state of war?

Does Israel represent the values of Judaism, and if not is it worth supporting or saving?

by Geekesque 2009-03-30 09:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Thanks for this diary, with certain reservations.

I'd like to repeat a comment to Brit because it is really a partial response to the diary.

"The right to exist issue has become a roadblock on many routes to peace." (Brit)

The right to exist issue is only Israel's latest propaganda theme intended one must suppose to provide cover for its continuing colonization of the Palestinian territories. That has not stopped except for a lull during the Rabin administration since 1967. Everyday, Palestinians must tolerate their military occupation while they see their lands being confiscated and given away dirt cheap to Jewish immigrants willing to live in settlements, the towns and cities Israel continues to build and expand. Nonviolent protest against these actions has continued for years, but because of news censorship in the US, we don't hear about it. What we hear instead is about Israel's "security" and "right to exist." In short, we hear nothing about the causes of Israel's insecurity which is surely due to its continuing colonization of lands belonging to the Palestinian people, contrary to international law and UN Resolutions.

The real issue here is not Israel's right to exist. Israel does exist. It is all about the right of Palestine to exist. That is what this conflict is all about, Israeli propaganda notwithstanding. And Israel is apparently doing everything it can to make the existence of Palestine impossible day to day.

In short, we would not even be here discussing this issue if it were not for Israel's continuing occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands. Everything you said in the negative about what is going on is TOTALLY created by this colonialism, a clearly Zionist effort which affects right wing as well as centrist parties. In South Africa, when the Afrikaaners did the same thing to the Black population, created an Aparthied society for them in their own country, organizations like the ANC arose to fight it. And they too were called terrorists and communists and whatever. But nothing helped to disband this organization than the world effort, the boycott movememt, which brought Apartheid down.

And toward an Apartheid society is where Israel is moving. Israel may use whatever excuses it chooses: terrorism, Hamas, right to exist, you name it, to justify its colonialism, but Apartheid is inevitable unless Obama and company is able to stop it. So far they seem impotent, or at least their early attempts have been brushed off.

By Israel of course I mean the Israeli government. For the most part, the Israeli people are the most propagandized population maybe in the world, and can't seem to appreciate that their security concerns are entirely internally created and government made. The voice of the Left is still small and muted to be effective.

by MainStreet 2009-03-31 03:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

I also have a problem with the "right to exist" language, because the full sentence is "right to exist as a Jewish state" which begs the question.  When someone says that such-and-such group still won't recognize, or was late in recognizing Israel's "right to exist", you're supposed to think of the state and everyone in it being annihilated, when what it actually refers to is Israel's status as being exclusively Jewish.

Do I support Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state?  Meaning, do I think that Jews should have inherent rights inside a state that are denied to outsiders?  I don't know, and I think it's reasonable to not know.  It's hard for me to ethically apply the principle behind giving a religious/racial group constitutional power over another anywhere in the world - the only place I would even be talking about this is Israel.

So if I were to say, "no, I can't justify that", then I would be denying Israel's right to exist.  In short, it's a bullshit formulation, pardon my French.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 05:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Gush Shalom called the full implication of this claim, the right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state, an oxymoron, because it excludes maybe twenty percent of the Israeli population that is not Jewish.

Your point is highly valid in one sense, but I'm not sure that Israel's demands that Hamas accept Israel's right to exist doesn't have pure existential implications. Odd that Israel would make such as demand while it is openlly closing down Palestine's right to exist through its colonial activities. Hamas may be Israel's current red herring, but I don't think it is stupid enough to fall for it, but Israel doesn't expect it to. Hence the game of stalling goes on.

by MainStreet 2009-03-31 06:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

I'm not sure either.  I do know that when the phrase was originated, it was used in regards to the PLO, specifically as a counterargument to their demand that Palestinian refugees be allowed to resettle in their former homes.  To argue that was to deny Israel's right to exist.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 07:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Here's the 1968 PLO Charter, amended from the original 1964 version (available here for comparison: http://www.un.int/palestine/PLO/PNA2.htm l).  I provide this for discussion as it is the earliest formulation post June 1967, which established the current territorial division.

Article 1: Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.

Article 2: Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.

Article 3: The Palestinian Arab people possess the legal right to their homeland and have the right to determine their destiny after achieving the liberation of their country in accordance with their wishes and entirely of their own accord and will.

Article 4: The Palestinian identity is a genuine, essential, and inherent characteristic; it is transmitted from parents to children. The Zionist occupation and the dispersal of the Palestinian Arab people, through the disasters which befell them, do not make them lose their Palestinian identity and their membership in the Palestinian community, nor do they negate them.

Article 5: The Palestinians are those Arab nationals who, until 1947, normally resided in Palestine regardless of whether they were evicted from it or have stayed there. Anyone born, after that date, of a Palestinian father - whether inside Palestine or outside it - is also a Palestinian.

Article 6: The Jews who had normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion will be considered Palestinians.

Article 7: That there is a Palestinian community and that it has material, spiritual, and historical connection with Palestine are indisputable facts. It is a national duty to bring up individual Palestinians in an Arab revolutionary manner. All means of information and education must be adopted in order to acquaint the Palestinian with his country in the most profound manner, both spiritual and material, that is possible. He must be prepared for the armed struggle and ready to sacrifice his wealth and his life in order to win back his homeland and bring about its liberation.

Article 8: The phase in their history, through which the Palestinian people are now living, is that of national (watani) struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Thus the conflicts among the Palestinian national forces are secondary, and should be ended for the sake of the basic conflict that exists between the forces of Zionism and of imperialism on the one hand, and the Palestinian Arab people on the other. On this basis the Palestinian masses, regardless of whether they are residing in the national homeland or in diaspora (mahajir) constitute - both their organizations and the individuals - one national front working for the retrieval of Palestine and its liberation through armed struggle.

Article 9: Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it . They also assert their right to normal life in Palestine and to exercise their right to self-determination and sovereignty over it.

Article 10: Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war. This requires its escalation, comprehensiveness, and the mobilization of all the Palestinian popular and educational efforts and their organization and involvement in the armed Palestinian revolution. It also requires the achieving of unity for the national (watani) struggle among the different groupings of the Palestinian people, and between the Palestinian people and the Arab masses, so as to secure the continuation of the revolution, its escalation, and victory.

Article 11: The Palestinians will have three mottoes: national (wataniyya) unity, national (qawmiyya) mobilization, and liberation.

Article 12: The Palestinian people believe in Arab unity. In order to contribute their share toward the attainment of that objective, however, they must, at the present stage of their struggle, safeguard their Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity, and oppose any plan that may dissolve or impair it.

Article 13: Arab unity and the liberation of Palestine are two complementary objectives, the attainment of either of which facilitates the attainment of the other. Thus, Arab unity leads to the liberation of Palestine, the liberation of Palestine leads to Arab unity; and work toward the realization of one objective proceeds side by side with work toward the realization of the other.

Article 14: The destiny of the Arab nation, and indeed Arab existence itself, depend upon the destiny of the Palestine cause. From this interdependence springs the Arab nation's pursuit of, and striving for, the liberation of Palestine. The people of Palestine play the role of the vanguard in the realization of this sacred (qawmi) goal.

Article 15: The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine. Absolute responsibility for this falls upon the Arab nation - peoples and governments - with the Arab people of Palestine in the vanguard. Accordingly, the Arab nation must mobilize all its military, human, moral, and spiritual capabilities to participate actively with the Palestinian people in the liberation of Palestine. It must, particularly in the phase of the armed Palestinian revolution, offer and furnish the Palestinian people with all possible help, and material and human support, and make available to them the means and opportunities that will enable them to continue to carry out their leading role in the armed revolution, until they liberate their homeland.

Article 16: The liberation of Palestine, from a spiritual point of view, will provide the Holy Land with an atmosphere of safety and tranquility, which in turn will safeguard the country's religious sanctuaries and guarantee freedom of worship and of visit to all, without discrimination of race, color, language, or religion. Accordingly, the people of Palestine look to all spiritual forces in the world for support.

Article 17: The liberation of Palestine, from a human point of view, will restore to the Palestinian individual his dignity, pride, and freedom. Accordingly the Palestinian Arab people look forward to the support of all those who believe in the dignity of man and his freedom in the world.

Article 18: The liberation of Palestine, from an international point of view, is a defensive action necessitated by the demands of self-defense. Accordingly the Palestinian people, desirous as they are of the friendship of all people, look to freedom-loving, and peace-loving states for support in order to restore their legitimate rights in Palestine, to re-establish peace and security in the country, and to enable its people to exercise national sovereignty and freedom.

Article 19: The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and to their natural right in their homeland, and inconsistent with the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations; particularly the right to self-determination.

Article 20: The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.

Article 21: The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine and reject all proposals aiming at the liquidation of the Palestinian problem, or its internationalization.

Article 22: Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world. It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist, and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods. Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and geographical base for world imperialism placed strategically in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes of the Arab nation for liberation, unity, and progress. Israel is a constant source of threat vis-a-vis peace in the Middle East and the whole world. Since the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East, the Palestinian people look for the support of all the progressive and peaceful forces and urge them all, irrespective of their affiliations and beliefs, to offer the Palestinian people all aid and support in their just struggle for the liberation of their homeland.

Article 23: The demand of security and peace, as well as the demand of right and justice, require all states to consider Zionism an illegitimate movement, to outlaw its existence, and to ban its operations, in order that friendly relations among peoples may be preserved, and the loyalty of citizens to their respective homelands safeguarded.

Article 24: The Palestinian people believe in the principles of justice, freedom, sovereignty, self-determination, human dignity, and in the right of all peoples to exercise them.

Article 25: For the realization of the goals of this Charter and its principles, the Palestine Liberation Organization will perform its role in the liberation of Palestine in accordance with the Constitution of this Organization.

Article 26: The Palestine Liberation Organization, representative of the Palestinian revolutionary forces, is responsible for the Palestinian Arab people's movement in its struggle - to retrieve its homeland, liberate and return to it and exercise the right to self-determination in it - in all military, political, and financial fields and also for whatever may be required by the Palestine case on the inter-Arab and international levels.

Article 27: The Palestine Liberation Organization shall cooperate with all Arab states, each according to its potentialities; and will adopt a neutral policy among them in the light of the requirements of the war of liberation; and on this basis it shall not interfere in the internal affairs of any Arab state.

Article 28: The Palestinian Arab people assert the genuineness and independence of their national (wataniyya) revolution and reject all forms of intervention, trusteeship, and subordination.

Article 29: The Palestinian people possess the fundamental and genuine legal right to liberate and retrieve their homeland. The Palestinian people determine their attitude toward all states and forces on the basis of the stands they adopt vis-a-vis to the Palestinian revolution to fulfill the aims of the Palestinian people.

Article 30: Fighters and carriers of arms in the war of liberation are the nucleus of the popular army which will be the protective force for the gains of the Palestinian Arab people.

Article 31: The Organization shall have a flag, an oath of allegiance, and an anthem. All this shall be decided upon in accordance with a special regulation.

Article 32: Regulations, which shall be known as the Constitution of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, shall be annexed to this Charter. It will lay down the manner in which the Organization, and its organs and institutions, shall be constituted; the respective competence of each; and the requirements of its obligation under the Charter.

Article 33: This Charter shall not be amended save by [vote of] a majority of two-thirds of the total membership of the National Congress of the Palestine Liberation Organization [taken] at a special session convened for that purpose.

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/ plocov.asp

This link also makes other pertinent documents available, including the 1988 "HAMAS Covenant" and the 1993 "Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization Declaration of Principles" that contains significant modifications of the PLO's (Fatah's, primarily) positions.  

I stress once more that the above do not constitute the current PLO, FATAH, or PA positions, only their historical background.  They also do not reflect the positions of HAMAS.

by Strummerson 2009-03-31 08:01AM | 0 recs
better link

directly to Yale Law School archive of I/P documents: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus /mideast.asp

by Strummerson 2009-03-31 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: better link

That got ammended in 1982 - or rather, it should have been ammended - when the 12th Arab Summit met they produced the Fez plan, which Arafat helped write, which recognized the pre-1967 borders in return for Israel recognizing the PLO as the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people.

http://www.mideastweb.org/fahd_fez_plan. htm

Prior to this, Israel had always held the principle that they would not talk to the PLO at all until the PLO recognized Israel.  Now the PLO was offering to do that.

From this point on, the discussion of the history gets incredibly crazy, because Israel ignored the Fez plan entirely.  So you could read in American newspapers as late as the 1990's that "The PLO STILL won't recognize Israel's right to exist" when they had offered to do so continuously for a decade.

By now this is ancient history.  Israel crushed the PLO in Lebanon, and wound up with Hezbollah on their hands.  They supported Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO, and now you have Hamas as a political entity that can't be ignored.  Of course for propaganda purposes all of the above can be considered a smashing success, but the human cost has been terrible.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 09:57AM | 0 recs
Re: better link

You're correct Jess.  The most up to date PLO charter statement can be found, I believe, in the 1993 Declaration of Principles.  Israelis often dismiss both Fez and the Declaration as insufficient and claim that the pledge to amend the charter has gone unfulfilled.  I think they are wrong.  And I stressed in the comment above that these are not the most current positions.

But as the discussion here had to do with the sources of Israel's concerns for recognition of its "right to exist," this seemed the most pertinent to provide.  There is a context for this that stretches back to the pre-state period as well.  The link provide many of those documents.

I pledged to stay out of this diary, as I seem to be a magnet for defamations (haven't you heard, I'm a secret racist Likud super sleeper propaganda agent!!!) and in refuting them end up in the middle of distractions.  So I am limiting my role here to providing access to relevant information.

It actually doesn't take more than 1-3 hours to get up to speed.  Most folks don't bother.

by Strummerson 2009-03-31 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: better link

Can't you ignore those defamations?  You have more to offer than just about anyone, I think.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 01:04PM | 0 recs
Re: better link

Sometimes ignoring harassment works.  But at this point, I am being lied about to third parties and associated with positions that are anathema to me.  Could you sit quietly and not engage when someone is spreading false information that aligns you with the KKK?

by Strummerson 2009-03-31 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: better link

Don't know.

But it's the same people in all these threads.  Anyone who reads "Strummerson advocated that Palestinians be forced into tiny Cantons" was probably around for the original discussion and knows what's up.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: better link

fair point.  it's rough though.  I'm not even sure why it's happening.

by Strummerson 2009-03-31 02:00PM | 0 recs
Re: better link

Have you ever BEEN to Canton?  Aside from the pro football Hall of Fame, it's really a pretty crappy place.  I wouldn't want Strummerson to force me to live there either.

by Steve M 2009-03-31 02:10PM | 0 recs
Re: better link

I'm juuuust North of it.

by Reaper0Bot0 2009-03-31 02:15PM | 0 recs
Re: better link

Better that than to be forced into Buffalos.


by Jess81 2009-03-31 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: better link

Especially since I'm a baseball fan.  

But now that the northern hemisphere is entering spring, I wouldn't mind a week or so with the family in a Swiss Alpine canton.

by Strummerson 2009-03-31 02:18PM | 0 recs
Thanks for the levity folks

This situation has been truly rough.  Trying to finish a dissertation and raising little kids doesn't allow me a lot of time to pursue my political engagements.

Additionally, I'll be in Jerusalem for 9 weeks this summer and would like to be able to post a weekly diary from there without being harassed with distortions.

by Strummerson 2009-03-31 02:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks for the levity folks

Talk to Jerome or Todd.  Maybe you can get it front-paged?  That would attract the wider audience and you wouldn't have the same few people dominating everything.

It may well end up with people all at each others throats as usual, but eh.  Can't be helped.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 02:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Right now Hamas supporters or members constitute only 20% of the Palestinian population in the territories, and, believe it or not, only 25% of Gazan Palestinians. Those figures come from a Palestinian poll conducted last year. While there is no data that could unravel the question, I would suggest that three quarters of the Palestinians killed, the 1,400 during Israel's recent invasion of Gaza, were probably not Hamas members at all. That possibility merely adds to the tragedy of this massacre.

by MainStreet 2009-03-31 11:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

PS: Not that Hamas members, which of course are mostly families with children, deserved to be killed just to spite the Hamas leadership. Well, spite is not the right concept here: it was obviously a political move by the centrist-right Kadima and Labor party candidates to improve their standing with the Israeli people as protectors of their "security."

Absolutely disgusting, all of it.

by MainStreet 2009-03-31 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Do I support Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state?  Meaning, do I think that Jews should have inherent rights inside a state that are denied to outsiders?

It seems to me that you just said two completely different things.

by Steve M 2009-03-31 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Israel preserving its identity as a Jewish state means more than having a Star of David on their flag.  It's immigration rights, business licenses, ownership of the water, and a whole bunch of other, harsher things you need to enforce an ethnic identity.

As a Jew, I could pick up my bags tomorrow and go move to Israel.  I could even come in through a West Bank checkpoint - flip the bird to the lines of people who have lived there for thousands of years getting searched by men with machine guns.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 10:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Not to belabor the point, but it just now occurred to me that one of the frequent I/P posters - and I'm forgettng who now - is a former member of the IDF who did the usual tour in the occupied territories.  If you're sketchy on the day-to-day realities of the I/P situation, then you should avail yourself of people who have lived there.  Preserving the Jewish character of Israel, which I suppose is similar in any ethnically or religiously exclusive country, requires the use of force.  How could it not?

by Jess81 2009-03-31 10:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

It's not an "ethnically or religiously exclusive country."  Come on.

by Steve M 2009-03-31 10:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?


by Jess81 2009-03-31 10:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Yes... it is?  Jews have immigration rights, and no one else does - including the people who either evacuated or were forced out during the wars at its creation.   Jews are entitled to subsidized living in the West Bank, Arabs are forcibly ejected.  None of this is a secret.  It is a Jewish state.  It calls itself a Jewish state.

I'm not sure if you're being cute or making a point that I don't understand, but if you are, I'll say straightforwardly that I don't understand it.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

My point is that you keep using "exclusive" to mean something other than what it means in the dictionary.  Israel is about 75% Jewish by ethnicity as well as religion.  I recognize the temptation to employ hyperbole in these discussions, but that's far from an "ethnically or religiously exclusive country."

by Steve M 2009-03-31 11:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Maybe, but either way you're splitting hairs.  If I had said "privileged" would you be any happier?

Besides, there is the law of return which applies exclusively to Jews.  Hyperbole isn't my thing.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 11:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Irish citizenship is automatic if you had at least one Irish grandparent.  Dozens of countries have similar exceptions to their immigration laws.  There's nothing even remarkable about it.

Again, I think it is more productive to talk about the civil rights of actual Israeli citizens.  To the extent non-Jewish citizens lack civil rights that are enjoyed by Jewish citizens, that's a problem to me.  But immigration is a different issue and a distraction in this context.  There is no principle that says because Ireland allows unlimited immigration for people of Irish descent, they have to allow it for everyone.

by Steve M 2009-03-31 11:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

And when someone with an Irish grandparent immigrates to Ireland, are they displacing anyone? Is the Emerald Isle dotted with refugee camps stuffed with Protestants? And does that mean Irish as in "from Ireland" or ethnically Irish?  The first two questions are rhetorical; the third isn't.

If you think it's more productive to talk about the civil rights of actual Israeli citizens and avoid talk about the occupied territories, then an interesting conversation might result, but that's not what this diary is about.  Read it: every other word is "IDF" and "Hamas".  When people refer to the I/P issue, no one thinks about Arab Israeli citizens.  It would be like a discussion of the disproportionate sentencing along racial lines in this country getting interrupted because someone wanted to talk about "buppies".  I don't know, use your own analogy.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 12:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

But the unacceptable state of things in an occupation/war zone says nothing about whether a Jewish state can exist on terms that we would find generally acceptable.

Remember, we started out here with my questioning your proposition that a "Jewish state" necessarily means a state where "Jews have inherent rights that are denied to others."  If you need to point to conditions outside Israel proper to make your case, then I think you've conceded that it's possible to have a Jewish state where the ethnic/religious minority nevertheless enjoys freedom and equal rights.  It's just that such a state exists, more or less, in Israel proper and not in the territories.

by Steve M 2009-03-31 12:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

I love your posts, and I simply do not believe that you don't see the connection between what goes on in the territories and Israel being a Jewish state.  Israel needs to maintain the appropriate demographic balance, so Arabs had to be evicted.  Many of them are in the territories now.  For whatever reason, Israel under all political parties has encouraged the settlement into the occupied territories; yet they cannot openly annex them because that would make Israel majority Arab.  So what you get is a mishmosh of heavily subsidized and heavily guarded Jewish only settlements, and a tremendous military apparatus to keep everyone else out.  It's the only way it could possibly work.

If Israel had truly been a land without people, then sure, there would be no issue at all with its national identity.  Saudi Arabia has been Islamic at the point of a sword for so long that maintaining its status as an Islamic State doesn't require any violence at all.  No non-muslim in their right mind would ever think of moving there.  I'm referring to its general "Islamicness", not the particular brand of Sharia that's practiced, which of course DOES require a tremendous amount of force.

Similarly, you can point to lots of countries that have this or that ethnic identity.  They either always have, or they became that way through violence so long ago that nobody remembers it.  And if Israel was like that, then being a Jewish state WOULD mean simply putting a Star of David on the flag.  But it doesn't.  Having a Jewish state in the middle of an already densely populated land full of non-jews means people need to get killed.  Not intentionally.  I'm sure that neither Theodore Hertzl nor David Ben-Gurion dreamed of a land of militarized, encircled cities and bottomless prisons when they envisioned the country of their dreams, but it's inevitable all the same.

THAT's why the territories are the issue.  When the US declared its own manifest destiny, you had to look outside of its borders to see where the rubber met the road.  

by Jess81 2009-03-31 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

I don't condone the expulsion of Arabs from Israel proper (any more than I condone the treatment of the Native Americans, for example), but I see it as more of a historical fact even though it's more recent history than the founding of some other countries.  As far as I know, the only thing Israel does right now to ensure that it retains a Jewish majority involves its immigration policies, not any kind of major mistreatment of the non-Jewish citizens of Israel.

As for the territories, and I'll say again that what goes on there is unacceptable, I mentioned elsewhere that I think the answer depends on whether you see the settlements as an intrinsic part of the Israeli agenda, or simply the result of an extremist movement that the Israeli government mostly lacks the political capital to rein in.  From the perspective of people losing their homes, of course, it looks exactly the same.  But the larger question is whether Israel is going to be amenable at some point to a peace plan that involves withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, where they'd no longer care about a Jewish majority in the territories since that wouldn't be part of Israel.

And it's my belief, naive though it may be, that there generally exists the political will in Israel for that sort of "land-for-peace" arrangement - at which point I think we'd have, among other things, a Jewish state that wouldn't offend anyone's sense of decency or respect for civil rights.  I sorta figure that if even Ariel Sharon accepted the need for withdrawal, at some point it will happen that way.

by Steve M 2009-03-31 02:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

I'm also basically an agnostic on what's behind the settlement movement.  I do know that settlements have never stopped expanding since they began - the only difference is that Labor built as many as the settlers could ever want, and Likud built even more just to be provocative.  So it has to be more than an extremist wing if it never stops.  It bears pointing out that without the Jordan Valley, Israel has almost no natural water, and without the occupied territories, it's going to be hard for them to accommodate their immigrants.  Not all the settlers are Yeshiva students; many of them are just attracted by the cheaper housing, or think Tel Aviv is too crowded.

Shall we leave it here?  I explained as well as I could how I thought the entire situation in the territories bears on Israel as Jewish state.  Their policies force them to be cruel to the people under their control, which in turn leads to racism and all sorts of pathologies that occur when one group has its boot on another's neck.

You see them as separate issues.  I can respect that.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

I always appreciate your viewpoint.  Peace!

by Steve M 2009-03-31 02:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Well I appreciate that, even if you don't mean it ;)

by Jess81 2009-04-01 09:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Actually, there is plenty room in Israel proper for both natural growth of the current population and absorption of others who want to live there.  Areas in the Galilee and Negev can be developed.

But Jess is on the money here that many residents in the West Bank are there because the housing has been subsidized (another way the Israeli government has put obstacles in the way of a resolution).  I have a close friend who lives with his family in the settlement city Ma'aleh Adumim outside Jerusalem because he won a lottery to purchase a larger apartment there, twice the size for half the money.  When he told me they had moved there I asked him if they would relocate if an agreement was reached.  His answer: "give us twenty-four hours to pack and some relocation assistance and I'll sign the treaty myself and leave the apartment painted and cleaned with some flowers and a note."  I'm paraphrasing of course.  He's not "typical" but a significant percentage of Israelis living in the territories would react similarly.  Is it 10% or 40%?  Don't know.

As far as water goes, that's trickier but certainly negotiable.  Ultimately, the geography and infrastructure make it necessary for there to be cooperative/sharing arrangements on a host of
issues.  The division that a two state resolution entails cannot and should not and would not be a hermetic one.  This is way people like Sari Nusseibah, president of Al Quds University, the Arab University in Jerusalem, has said that he strongly advocates for a two state solution but that this will likely enable more and more de facto bi-national cooperation as things progress to the benefit of both populations.
The water issue

by Strummerson 2009-03-31 02:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

That's funny that you mention your friend, because I was just thinking about a poll I read just a few years back (sorry, I can no longer cite it), conducted exclusively among settlers. They were asked if they would be willing to abandon the settlements to make way for a Palestinian State in return for a real peace with the Palestinians, even if it meant abandoning their homes (with compensation).  A surprisingly high number said yes.

Just as I can no longer remember where the poll was so I can't cite it, I can't remember what I considered to be surprisingly high.  It may have only been 30%.  But if that's the sentiment inside the territories themselves then it's indicative of something.

One of the problems though is that the desire to stop the settlements and concede land for peace, outside of the organized peace movement, exists mainly as a generalized sentiment.  The real economic and political forces are all driving in the other direction.  There's money to be made.  The kind of politicians that are best poised to capitalize on violence or threats from without have been doing so for years - imagine what the political climate would be like here if a bomb went off in the New York subways once or twice a month.  It wouldn't matter whether or not anyone was actually killed - you'd see a difference immediately.

I think it's had an incredibly distorting effect on Israeli politics.  On most fronts: economic, cultural, social, it can be, and has been historically, a rather progressive country, especially if you compare it to the US.  With military and foreign matters though it's an entirely different story.

by Jess81 2009-04-01 09:13AM | 0 recs
bad analogy

because, unlike the Irish situation, the right of return does not require proof that an ancestor actually lived in Israel or was a citizen thereof.  I also don't think would-be Irish immigrants can gain citizenship via a letter from their local Roman Catholic bishop, though I could be wrong about that.

by JJE 2009-03-31 12:01PM | 0 recs
Re: bad analogy

Then we could talk about how the right of return works in a dozen other countries, if you think Ireland is so off-point.  There is simply nothing unique about the Israeli immigration laws.

by Steve M 2009-03-31 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: bad analogy

Unfortunately, denying immigration to people who can prove that they lived in country because they're the wrong ethnicity is all too common.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 12:10PM | 0 recs
You can say it again

But repetition doesn't make it true.  Which of those dozen states do not require proof of ancestral residence in the state one is returning to?  Maybe China would qualify.

Russians immigrating to Israel aren't "returning" anywhere.  They never lived in Israel and don't have to prove that their ancestors did.  And again, I don't think converting to Catholicism suffices to establish citizenship in Ireland or France.

by JJE 2009-03-31 12:39PM | 0 recs
Not your best work

by JJE 2009-03-31 11:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Every country has the right to control its immigration.  If Jews have a greater right to emigrate to Israel than non-Jews, that doesn't equate to Jewish citizens of Israel having greater rights than non-Jews.

There are certainly plenty of Israeli policies that can be questioned, although it's always odd to read that Israel's treatment of non-Jewish citizens poses some uniquely troubling issue in light of the obvious comparison between the civil rights held by Arabs in Israel and the civil rights held by Jews in countries like Saudi Arabia.

But setting that aside, there is nothing inherent in the concept of a Jewish state that mandates less-than-equal rights for non-Jewish citizens.   Restrictions on immigration, sure, but that's an entirely separate issue.

by Steve M 2009-03-31 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

No, tomorrow the US could decide that it was going to be a white christian nation and only admit people inside its borders who fit that description.  They would certainly have the "right" (btw I'm not sure how states have "rights" - I think you mean "power") to do that.

Some Arab countries are worse.  This is true.

Anyway my point was, and is, that I find it difficult to justify a religiously and ethnically exclusive society.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Oh, replace "society" with "state".  Societies don't have laws and armies.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 11:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

But like two comments ago, you were talking about Israel as the one and only place in the world where this dilemma even comes up.  Now it's like, okay yeah the Arab countries are worse, but so what.

My point is that you most likely do not lose any sleep at night over the fact that there are nations in the world which are legally organized around Islam, and neither do I.  Nor is there anything inherently unacceptable about the concept of a Jewish state.

There's a difference between a valid criticism of the things that Israel does in practice, and a critique of the very concept of a Jewish state.  I simply don't see any restrictions on the civil rights of non-Jewish citizens that are inherent to the idea of a Jewish state, unless you consider immigration a civil right.

Now, the territories are a separate issue, and I consider the situation there pretty indefensible.  But I don't think that has much to do with the endgame of a Jewish state, it's more a feature of the ongoing struggle in which one side has the upper hand.

by Steve M 2009-03-31 11:09AM | 0 recs
I have a problem with it

call me crazy, but I don't think states explicitly organized on religious/ethnic supremacy are desirable.

by JJE 2009-03-31 11:16AM | 0 recs
Re: I have a problem with it

As an American, I'm partial to the organizing principles of America myself.  But does it really bother you that the Slovaks have their own country now?  Is there something you propose we ought to do to punish countries that organize themselves around a particular ethnicity or a state religion, or is it simply that you want to proclaim our way is better?  Cause I could get on board with the latter.

by Steve M 2009-03-31 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: I have a problem with it

And when Serbia declared that it was going to be have a Serbian identity, who are we to... nevermind.

And France is full of French people.  Are people being uprooted and pressed into ghettos to make way for all those ethnically French immigrants?  Come on.  

by Jess81 2009-03-31 12:04PM | 0 recs
Welcome aboard!

We could also stop claiming that states that use religious/ethnic identity as the basis for citizenship "share our values" and are an island of enlightenment in the Middle East.  We could also pressure such states to modify discriminatory practices based on the ethno/religious premise.

by JJE 2009-03-31 12:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Welcome aboard!

Well, now we're back to claiming that "religious/ethnic identity" is the basis for Israeli citizenship, which just isn't true, unless you think the 25% of Israeli citizens who are not Jewish simply don't exist.

If you seriously think that we should pressure states not to use ethnicity or religion as a basis for setting immigration policy, heh, best of luck with that.

by Steve M 2009-03-31 01:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Welcome aboard!

The 25% of Israeli citizens who aren't Jewish were grandfathered in.  You're splitting hairs again - if he inserts the word "establishing" in front of "citizenship" it's a true statement and moreover everyone knows what he means.

Anyway, if you can joke that he thinks the 25% of Israeli citizens that aren't Jewish don't exist, than we can joke that you think that the people living in refugee camps, which have NOTHING to do with Israel's Jewish identity or its immigration laws, are their for the good schools.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 02:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Welcome aboard!

Arab immigration into Israel is restricted, obviously, particularly by comparison to the virtually unlimited right of return for Jews.

But you act as though immigration of non-Jews is completely nonexistent!  I do not understand where you get this from.

by Steve M 2009-03-31 05:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Welcome aboard!

What, other than religious/ethnic identity, explains why someone from Brooklyn who can't speak a word of Hebrew can move to Israel tomorrow and be granted citizenship while an Arab who actually lived in the area in 1946 cannot?

If you seriously think Israel is ever going to accept a two-state solution, heh, best of luck with that.

by JJE 2009-03-31 03:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Welcome aboard!

"If you seriously think Israel is ever going to accept a two-state solution, heh, best of luck with that."

Then what?  Permanent Apartheid is ultimately unsustainable.  Bibi's delusion is that eventually many Palestinians will emigrate and others will accept their subjugation and limited enfranchisement with the right economic incentives.  This is not the ticket to a sustainable arrangement, little less a morally acceptable one.

I share your skepticism to a point, as you are likely already aware.  A two state solution will require real international and US pressure and even its best case scenario will not solve everything.

The alternative is a civil rights struggle toward a bi-national solution that will be tantamount to the end of political zionism, though parts of its cultural project may ultimately flourish even more impressively.  There's upside here, but only after a long and painful era of struggle and conflict that may prove all the previous episodes mere preliminaries.  Hadash, the mixed Arab-Jewish party does not support bi-nationalism due to socio-economic considerations.  One of its MKs, Doc Henin argues that throwing two societies, one for all intents and purposes a "first world" society and the other a "third world" society is a recipe for unprecedented explosions.

Thus I still support the two state process, though skeptically.

Where do you see this heading?

by Strummerson 2009-03-31 04:17PM | 0 recs
Status quo

Unfortunately I think the status quo will continue indefinitely.  There would have to be some major event that puts immense pressure on Israel to accommodate, as well as a sea change in the competence and pragmatism of Palestinian leadership.  I can't imagine what such an event would be.  Israel seems willing to accept the status quo as better than the available alternatives; as for the Palestinians, Hamas is unwilling to provide leadership necessary to move the process forward while Fatah is unable.

I don't think either a two-state or one-state solution is likely in our lifetimes.

by JJE 2009-03-31 07:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Status quo

The reason I have to disagree (though disagreements about future outcomes are always fuzzy ones) is that the status quo is far from static.  The situation was problematic in the 70s and has been getting progressively worse since them.  The current trajectory isn't infinite.  People differ over how apt the S. Africa analogy is, less and less every year though for good reason.  But at this rate, no one will be able to deny this comparison within ten years.  And it will be significantly worse, even less sustainable than that proved to be.  I see this as one of those situations where either responsible adults do what is necessary, or events will take it out of their hands, for better or for worse.

by Strummerson 2009-03-31 07:35PM | 0 recs
You could be right

as you say, nobody can predict the future.  However, I just can't imagine a path from here to there without some kind of significant disruptive event.

by JJE 2009-03-31 08:07PM | 0 recs
Re: You could be right

or a series of even more significant and even more disruptive events.

by Strummerson 2009-03-31 08:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Status quo

Israel's agenda is to invoke any number of red herrings to avoid peace negotiations, while it continues its colonization of the territories. For Israel under Likud, and probably before that under Sharon-Olmert, there is no partner, no Palestinian leadership, including the Fatah-Hamas coalition now being negotiated in Egypt, which would satisfy its criteria. Abbas (and the Bush administration) was taken for a ride by the Olmert government, even when Abbas was an approvable US leader.

Netanyahu made clear what previous governments only hedged at: no Palestinian state. And the colonization will continue, unabated.

While the conditions of Apartheid now exist in the Palestinian territories, at some point it will become the status quo formally. By that time, the boycott movement will have grown in such proportion as to become a major embarrassment in US-Israel relations. But the US, by continuing to support two states, is already turning and confrontation with Israel is inevitable. I can't wait until the racist foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, steps foot on American soil.

by MainStreet 2009-04-01 05:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

"But like two comments ago, you were talking about Israel as the one and only place in the world where this dilemma even comes up.  Now it's like, okay yeah the Arab countries are worse, but so what."

No I wasn't.  I defy you to point to anywhere I either said or implied that.  You advised me to avoid hyperbole earlier; it seems to me you might take your own advice to heart.

This thread was about Israel.  Canadian Gal doesn't like it when she posts a diary about a country and people start talking about Israel - I don't see why the fact that Saudi Arabia mysteriously appears in threads about Israel shouldn't be regarded as equally trollish.  Besides that, I think about Israel a lot because I'm a Jew, and because I'm an American and Israel is America's closest ally, and because it's the center of a tremendous amount of conflict in the world.  That's justification enough.  I have no idea why discussions of Israeli politics invariably turns into "Israeli policies and/or history's worst socities".  But I just thought of a joke: what did one guy defending Saudi Arabia's treatment of women say to the other?  "Hey, did you hear about that Idi Amin guy?"

Okay I lied - I know exactly why conversations about Israel invariably turn towards what countries that I have nothing to do with are doing.  You can always point to someplace worse.  Does it justify anything?  Of course not.

Anyway, whether you know it or not, the conditions in the territories, which no sane person would consider just, relate directly to the law of return.  There are - and forgive me if my numbers are off - about a million people living in refugee camps, surrounded by barbed wire, with guns pointed at them, unable to move more than a few miles without being stopped, unable to work, unable to own land, subsisting entirely on what the UN doles out to them, and at a constant risk of being accidentally killed.  They're there because they're Arabs who fled one of the wars at Israel's creation.  They cannot go home.  They and their descendants have been living there for 60 years.

If they were Jews the barbed wire would disappear, the guns would be dropped, and they'd be free to walk out and live their lives.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 11:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

My mistake - I believe you were referring to this:

"It's hard for me to ethically apply the principle behind giving a religious/racial group constitutional power over another anywhere in the world - the only place I would even be talking about this is Israel."

I meant the opposite of what you think I did.  I was saying that anywhere else in the world that sort of arrangement would be rejected as unjust automatically - the only place on earth where I would even consider them is Israel.  And that bothers me.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 11:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Within Israel itself, as opposed to the territories (where I doubt we will resolve the issue of whether the principal issue is security or an agenda of ethnic cleansing), what civil rights are denied to non-Jewish citizens?

You keep coming back to immigration which isn't a civil right of citizens at all, it's a right of foreigners to become citizens.

I would suggest that the rights of non-Jewish citizens in terms of property ownership, etc. are not what I would label optimal, but well ahead of where our own country was just a few decades ago, to choose one frame of reference.  If it weren't for the outrageous conditions in the territories I wouldn't even bat an eye at the way things are within Israel proper.

by Steve M 2009-03-31 11:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Again, I have no idea where you got it into your head that all this talk of Israel has nothing to do with the occupied territories.  Frankly it's bizarre.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 12:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

I'm an agnostic on the question of whether the conditions in the territories is an agenda of security or ethnic cleansing.  I'm sure there are a lot of factors.  But not even the Israeli political parties can decide that point: Labor wants security; Likud thinks Judea and Samaria belong to Jews because the Bible says so; Koch called for "transfer".  

Does it really matter?  It's the same policy no matter who's enacting it.

by Jess81 2009-03-31 12:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Great stuff.

My favorite formulation challeging the militarism of US-Israeli foreign policy came from a commenter to a blog a couple years' back: "You can't be half-humanistic and half-fascist," he wrote of Israel

This applies to all governments certainly, but we in Ameirca are morally responsbile for what Israel does with the arms that we supply and the support that we uniquely give this terror state.

On a positive note, we have groups like:

- http://www.jstreet.org/
- And activists, for example, will sell out Noam Chomsky's address in Madison, Wisconsin on April 7 [see http://www.uppitywis.org/noam-chomsky-or pheum-theater-216-state-street-madison-a pril-7-73 ]

I would note that it is difficult to stay positive when, for instance, Israel kills another innocent, as it does on a scale that would put the most mindless fanatical bomber to shame.

See Robert Fisk:
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/com mentators/fisk/robert-fiskrsquos-world-a -brave-man-who-stood-alone-if-only-the-w orld-had-listened-to-him-1656067.html

by MAL Contends 2009-03-31 06:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

thanks reaper.

before i address the diary content i'd like to preface with a couple of points.  first, i am a bit uncomfortable with being labeled as one side of a coin in this debate because most certainly my views on israel are much softer than many and with due respect not anywhere close to being the antithesis of others here with whom i disagree.  the second point is that i noticed that many here have recused themselves from the debate when the bullying and general nastiness started.  say for example here, you'll see no shortage of people weighing in on the debate before this issue became a silly state of affairs.

now - as to your point of the diary...

first - what is zionism?  this word is often thrown around like it is a dirty with all sorts of people weighing in - 61 years after the birth of the state of israel - as to whether it has a right to exist.  this is offensive on many levels - but ill let that go for now. what i do find it disconcerting is that zionism has ended up being so misunderstood, mischaracterized and lamented throughout the world.

zionism, simply put - it is fulfillment of the nationalistic aspirations of jews, the thrust of which is the establishment of a jewish national state. a people i might add - that for the better part of a couple of thousand years were oppressed and often times made to feel as strangers in the lands in which they were born.  now you might wonder why i bring this up - but the history of oppression is central to jewish nationalistic aspirations, therefore not to understand this point is to misunderstand zionism completely.

but words matter - and their manipulation is often deliberate and usually unproductive.  say for example  - getting bogged down on whether israel is, or isn't, an apartheid state seems like a perpetual distraction. why not be precise, by calling an occupation an occupation? israel's occupation of palestinian territory since 1967 has been its biggest blunder and the continued expansion of jewish settlers has tied the country in knots. it humiliates the occupied and coarsens the occupiers. but what's the point of calling this apartheid - unless the motive is to muddy the waters by reviving a bygone brand: the anti-apartheid struggle and the glory days of boycotts that united idealists against south africa's state-sanctioned racism and its policy of shunting blacks into bantustans.

as to israel - many jews have struggled to reconcile zionist ideals with israel's behaviour. i guess my problem is that when one brings up zionism at the same time as the palestinian struggle without mentioning history, context and shared blame - it does nothing but blur the lines of truth. if we are going to denounce israel's attacks on gaza let's not at the same time downplay the rockets fired by hamas.

as vital as it is to engage the palestinians, it is no less crucial to enlist the israelis in a confidence-building process. as the stronger partner, israel needs an incentive to forego the military option or blockades against smuggling. it's easy to accuse the israelis of war crimes, marshall blistering united nations resolutions, and call for boycotts reminiscent of the old arab boycott. yet amidst all the excoriating and hectoring from israel's critics, there has been little analysis of what it would take to return to the status quo ante - when peace was breaking out, with both sides talking, withdrawing and coexisting.

but in my opinion the starting point is quite simple - apply the same principles and standards to both sides and maybe we'll start to get somewhere.

by canadian gal 2009-03-31 11:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

You have again essentially blamed the Palestinians for their fate, taking the soft approach that both sides are to blame, hence, the Palestinians deserve their fate.

The Palestinians had nothing to do with negative Jewish history and in fact, as a majority Muslim population, protected Jews over the centuries when Christians were engaging in progroms or restricting them to ghettos. When the British decided to take this Arab country, Palestine, and turn it into a homeland for Jews, they did so with the understanding that the Zionist would not disturb the lives and well-being of the indigenous Arab population (Balfour). The Zionists, however, had other plans, and being militarily superior, enacted Plan Dalet two months prior to the Declaration of Independence, the ethnic cleansing of two thirds of the Palestinians (800,000) from nearly 500 villages and towns where they had lived for over a thousand years.

Palestinians live with that injustice up to this very day, celebrated a Nakba Day once every year. I won't discuss the massacres which helped this process, since most were forced out by Zionist military forces, the Haganah which turned into the IDF after May 15, 1948.

So it is very difficult to understand what you mean by dual blame. You keeps stating it, but you seem to be unable to specify how the Palestinians are to blame, and I don't expect you to do so now. Mostly, other people will say: why go back, let's move forward. Well just what does forward mean? For Israel, it seems to mean, interpreting the actions undertaken everyday, a completion of the ethnic cleansing started 60 years ago, in the Palestinian territories. It is right there for anyone to see.

And the only outcome of it all can only be Apartheid. Don't like the term, tough. But better minds than mine have seen it coming for years. In fact, it is already with us: occupation has already progressed to Apartheid, given the restriction of Palestinians to specific areas, which they have govern, but cannot escape from.

You demand that it be called an occupation, though. Let me ask: by what right does one people have to keep another under military occupation for 60 years.

But it is more than that: it is the word you avoided. That word is COLONIZATTION. Don't like it. Sorry. I didn't make it up. Israel did, and now Netanyahu will continue the colonization, started long ago by the disingenuous Peres.

Did you know that Peres actually has a Peace Center named after him? How Orwellian can this conflict get?

by MainStreet 2009-03-31 04:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Solid diary.  Too often people get caught up in myopic views of very, very complicated issues such as the I/P debates.  It is difficult for many people to see the big picture.  There are no easy solutions, and both sides have very good reasons to be pissed off at the other side basically forever.  By now, the Palestinians must know that they can't destroy Israel.  Israel likewise must know by now that they can't pummel the Palestinians into non-existence.  Any solution must involve seeing both sides compromise, but certain issues are just too loaded to lend themselves to that.

by Skaje 2009-03-31 04:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

This is indeed a solid diary, and a vast majority of the comments have been solid and non-ad-hominem as well, though we predictably deviated off the topic of the nature of Zionism and into the current I/P shitpile.

And I agree in general with Skaje's take above that if not now, at some point... SOME POINT... someone or several someones in the right positions of power and with a modicum of logic would see, indeed, that Israel as a state isn't going away (what form it may take in the far distant future remains up for grabs), and that non-Jewish Palestinians can't be pummeled into non-existence or even some sustainable level of subservience (as some might hope, though I REALLY hate putting it that way).

I do take some hope from the mid-1980's. There was this hatred-filled chasm between America and the Soviet Union that no peace process, or negotiation, or anything else I could fathom at the time, would ever be able to quell the permanent cold war and constant threat of a hot one, with all the attendant waste of time and effort and money and weapons and mind power.

The comparison to the current I/P conflict is far from perfect, but the history of hatred, regardless of which side might be seen as more responsible, similarly seems like it'll last forever, with both sides immutably entrenched and which resulted in tremendous innocent human suffering which nobody that could do anything seemed to care about (as with the Palestinians suffering in the Territories today, and as with those suffering in 3rd-world countries where America and the Soviets played war games with real people, most of the suffering was felt among the powerless who had nothing to do with the struggle).

So there are some parallels, at least among human suffering and psycho-emotional entrenchment if not the specific causes of those phenomena.

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, imagined in their wildest dreams in the mid-1980's that 6 years later there would be no Soviet Union. Retrenching from the cold war seemed like it would take a miracle... and a miracle occurred, as they do sometimes.

On the other hands, playing the odds given what we have to work with currently... I'm not holding my breath waiting for something similar, but things happen that we can't foresee happening - not just sometimes, but often, for good and bad (anybody out there see the 9/11 attacks coming?).

And the fact that permanent localized apartheid is simply an unsustainable model tells me somethings gotta give eventually. I just worry about all those people suffering needlessly and dying prematurely while we wait for eventually to get here.

Finally, after some consideration, I've come to one rather disquieting conclusion. The reason more people in this country don't care as much about the Palestinian suffering as they do with Israeli insecurity is not so much because of bias in the media or the American political powers (they seem more to me to reflect the bias rather than cause it), but because we can identify with an affluent existence randomly threatened by 'outsiders' (regardless of what those 'outsiders' are suffering or who caused it) as opposed to a relatively poverty-stricken existence on which some powerful entity visits relatively widespread additional suffering.

And I think that American history has shown that, much more frequently than not, we would behave just like the Israeli governmental and military power structure has if we were in there shoes.

by RecoveringRepublican 2009-04-01 10:30AM | 0 recs


Advertise Blogads