A Dearth of Leadership: The International Community Must Get Involved

On May 21 a Qassam rocket fired from Gaza killed a 35-year old Israeli woman in Sderot. No doubt, this will mean a further escalation in Israeli fire into the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that this seems unlikely to stop or deter the Qassam fire.

These events are exposing the yawning gulf of leadership on all sides. Israel, rudderless under Ehud Olmert, vacillates between a silent response to Qassam fire while maintaining the economic blockade that fuels misery and rage in Gaza, and military responses that are targeting areas far from where the rockets are being fired. Meanwhile, Olmert speaks vaguely of “political horizons”olmertperetzinsderot424_0.jpg and the preconditions the Palestinians must meet before he would even engage in talks (preconditions such as forgoing the issues of the refugees, the Temple Mount and the 1967 borders).

But the leadership vacuum among the Palestinians has been demonstrated even more starkly. Commentators often used to say that it was crucial to strike a deal with Yasir Arafat because, like him or not, he was the only one that could possibly make a deal stick. Indeed, since his death what little organization there was to both the PLO and the Palestinian Authority has frayed or even shattered. This has been due in significant measure to the occupation, yes, but also to Fatah’s mismanagement and corruption, increasing sectarianism both within and between Palestinian factions and the submergence of government behind family and local affiliation in importance.

Ironically, it has been the fact that Israel has resumed its shelling of Gaza that has diminished the infighting there, something both the Hamas political leadership and PA President Mahmoud Abbas had tried and failed to do. Despite the Mecca Agreement brokered by Saudi Arabia in March, the Palestinian government has been anything but unified.

Hamas continues to defend its turf as the legitimately elected governing party. They’re quite right, of course, in that they have had to defend what was rightfully won by a clean election. Nonetheless, their own rigidity and inexperience have made governance difficult. Their refusal to recognize Israel leaves them with no plan or vision as to how improve conditions for the Palestinian people, much less end the occupation. In this, they have abdicated their authority to Abbas, with the sole caveat being a referendum on any agreement struck. The divisions in Hamas’ own leadership between factions in Gaza, the West Bank and outside the Palestinian Territories entirely confuse decision-making and lead to, if not contradictory statements then certainly a wide variety of tones and implications.

Hamas has fallen prey to many different conditions. One is surely their own lack of experience in leadership and governance. Another (and in fairness, this is certainly the biggest factor) is the global boycott that has clamped down on the Occupied Territories since their election. But yet another is Hamas’ inability to transition from a revolutionary fighting force to a governing political one.

This is terribly evidenced in the cease-fire brokered with Israel in November. Since that time, Qassam fire has been quite steady from Gaza. True, the Israeli economic blockade in Gaza as well as ongoing operations in the West Bank have aggravated the situation. But the terms of the cease-fire didn’t include those things. One might argue that the PA should not have agreed to those terms. I certainly think they should not have. But the fact is, they did. And Qassams continued despite it, and despite the fact that Israel, for the most part, held up its end.

Hamas didn’t directly violate the cease-fire, at least not at the level of the political leadership; other groups did. But Hamas made no attempt to enforce the cease-fire and stop the Qassams. This is where the dearth of leadership comes in, and it undermines any further attempts at diplomacy.

For example, we now hear from the PA leadership that they can stop the Qassams if Israel agrees to a “quiet” in the West Bank as well as Gaza. The logic does make sense–a general cessation of Israeli operations would be something the various Palestinian factions would see as sufficient victory to suspend the rocket attacks. But from the Israeli point of view, why would they believe the Palestinians now, when the same promise offered for a quiet in Gaza was broken immediately and consistently? Even if Israel’s leadership was willing to give it a go, the populace, enflamed by the constant shelling of the Western Negev and even more angry in the wake of this week’s fatality there, would be up in arms. The Olmert government is enjoying a respite from the unrelenting criticism in the wake of the Winograd report, condemning the leadership’s failures last summer in Lebanon. Any hint of agreeing to a cease-fire offer like this one would reverse that respite immediately.

Fatah’s failure to govern, which grew much worse after the death of Arafat, cost them control of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Hamas’ failure to govern is becoming more and more apparent. The inability of the two factions to work together, greatly aggravated by the United States’ active and visible military support for Fatah, has produced a deadlock which renders any possibility of substantive negotiations toward a resolution of this conflict hopeless.

The Arab League recognized this when they resuscitated the dormant 2002 Beirut Peace Plan. That plan makes a clear statement of Palestinian demands and offers the basis to begin negotiations–it juxtaposes what Palestinians want with what Israel has, frames the conversation and gives Israel a basis for a counter-offer. The Arab League never intended, nor will it allow the offer to become, a means to allow Israel to negotiate these issues with anyone other than the Palestinians. What it did was to offer what would be an Arab consensus which could allow for brokered talks, whether bi-lateral or involving multiple parties, to take place between Israel and the Palestinians.

That needs to be followed up on. More than that, it needs to be replicated on the other side. Although things are very different on the Israeli side, the nature of Israeli coalition politics has always dictated that small group, including fanatical ones, have disproportionate power. The strangest bedfellows are made in Israeli coalitions. One need only recall the deep dependence the elitist, Ashkenazi Labor party under Ehud Barak had on the religious, working class, Sephardi Shas party only a few years ago to see this. There are legions of such examples in Israeli political history.

Very powerful leaders can sometimes take the reins of government and steer it in spite of the political pressures. Yitzhak Rabin was one example of this. Yet even Rabin, who led an Israel still smarting from being hit by Iraqi missiles and angry over the first Palestinian intifada to the Oslo accords and, from all accounts, very close to peace with Syria, had to mollify the right with the massive increase in settlements which would eventually undermine the very process Rabin sought to pursue.

In a different way, Ariel Sharon was also such a powerful leader, yet even he had to bolt the party that he defined as much as any Israeli figure in history to do so. This is simply the reality of the Israeli political system. It works against the Right at times as well–Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to escape the Oslo Accords as he had promised on his campaign trail. In general, major turning points in Israeli history have been the result of outside actors in wars or of a dynamic process where Israel worked in concert with the US and its interlocutors (such as at Camp David I and the completion of the Jordanian peace treaty).

There is no hope that the failed Olmert government could possibly be capable of the leadership required to act substantively on the Arab League overtures. As a sovereign state, and given its own fierce sense of independence, Israel would never, of course, be willing to see any country, even the US, speak for it in any way. Still, direct US involvement, in conjunction with the European Union, is needed. This would need to take a similar form as it did with Carter at Camp David, with Clinton when he came up with the Clinton Parameters to bridge the two sides and bring them “closer than ever to an agreement” at Taba, or the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991.

That configuration both pushes Israel into a diplomatic posture and gives its political leadership more leeway domestically. Israelis understand very well that Israel must cooperate with a broad international consensus when that consensus is exerting real pressure, and this allows an Israeli leader, even one as weak as Olmert, to act in pursuit of peace when he could not do so on his own.

The days of waiting for Israelis and Palestinians to find solutions themselves are over. That kind of bilateralism is simply not realistic under today’s conditions. Some day, should truly capable leaders emerge on both sides who could accomplish something significant, the idea might be revisited. But in the here and now, people are dying and despair is the overarching mood of the day. Meanwhile, neither Israel nor the Palestinians have the kind of leaders needed for progress, nor are any on the horizon. The US doesn’t either, obviously, but the opportunity for progress is here nonetheless. The consequences of missing it will include a third intifada, likely to be bloodier than the last, as well as the real potential for more war beyond the borders of Israel and the Occupied Territories. If that comes, let no one say it was unavoidable.

129 thoughts on “A Dearth of Leadership: The International Community Must Get Involved

  1. Arafat designed the corruption that now runs rampant. However, it was no ordinary corruption. Arafat did not want any money to keep for himself. Rather, he merely wanted to keep $$ billions in aid (donated from the international community) out of the hands of his people, as to insure that they remain discontented and ready for a brand new holy-war.
    Hammas is less lacking in experience then they are lacking in good faith. If these people had peace, most of them would have little idea what to do with it.

  2. As I recall, while Hamas agreed to the truce, Islamic Jihad & Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades refused to accept it unless it were extended to the West Bank. While the rockets did continue to be fired, the number was reduced.

    However, I agree with Mitchell that the current conditions are not suitable for a lasting ceasefire. Ultimately, a stop to the violence is not going to be sustainable without (1) a serious commitment on the Palestinian Authority to control militant groups (2)an end to the economic & political isolation of the Palestinian Authority & (3) a major improvement of conditions in the Occupied Territories (including Gaza).

    To that end, there was a proposal discussed by Hamas & Israeli leaders for a 5-year Hudna which would include a temporary Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank to an agreed temporary line, total freedom of movement for Palestinians, no new settlements, etc. while the PA would take complete responsibility for ending armed attacks on Israelis. The 5-year hudna would provide Hamas with “greater freedom & space to explore ways of resolving the conflict with Israel in a lasting way.” The details of the proposal are here:
    http://www.pij.org/details.php?id=988

    Personally, I think that this kind of comprehensive Hudna/Ceasefire is much more achievable in the near future than successful final-status negotations. That doesn’t mean we should give up on proposals like the Arab Peace Initiative, but we have to look to ways of mitigating the conflict short of a final resolution.

  3. Isador –
    your post #1 mke little sense. I don’t dispute that Arafat ran a corrupt regime, but the current government was elected on a ticket that was squeaky clean. Hamas had been running municipal governments in the West Bank and Gaza for years before running for national office. I remember when my neighbors in Qalkilya were governed by Fatah. The streets were dirty, graffiti everywhere, schools unkempt etc. When Hamas took over there was a cleas sweep, and it is today.

    Despite the corruption, Arafat used aid funds to build a health care system, national infrastructure, an airport etc. Much of it was destroyed by the Israelis. Today of course no aid arrives, not even the debts to the PA (taxes etc)are paid by Israel. so the spiral downhill continues.

  4. The arrests of 33 democratically-elected Palestinian officials in the West Bank and the roughly simultaneous air strikes on Gaza, show that for all practical purposes Gaza is still every bit as occupied as the West Bank, despite Israeli claims to the contrary.

  5. Fred:
    These pseudo-religious groups will ultimately seem less corrupt then the secular ones, because they don’t really care about financial wealth.
    However, in the place of greed for money is a hunger for excessive structure and discipline, in this example the discipline of Islam.
    And they will wind some hearts and minds, especially those who are fed up from the previous potentates. However, at the core of the discipline is an inflexible compulsion to discipline everyone into a regiment. And, we can never know what exact regimen that will be, as these things morph over time. For example, the founder of the Wahabbi sect would have scoffed at the notion that Jerusalem has any special religious significance to the Muslims. This is why when Bin Laden read his list of grievances on video, he saved for a passing mention the mistreatment of the Palestinian-Arabs and specifically DID NOT mention any holy-war over religious places in Jerusalem. But the problem continues to be that every new splinter group of fundamentalist Islam has their own interpretation and own set of historical facts.
    Hammas is waging a holy-war to eradicate the “Zionist” cancer, in accord with their version of the Qur’an. This can NOT be reasoned with. It may be temporally intimidated, while waiting for a more convenient moment but ultimately, the radical Islamic movement believes in world dominance (not for themselves per-se but for Allah’s sake). As the Medieval Christians did when they burnt sinners at the stake, the modern Islamic fundamentalist will do anything he feels permissible to impose Sharia law on everyone. This is hardly a secret and the people who realize it best are the reformed or secular Muslims, which is why more Muslims have died (and continue to die) at the hands of other Muslims then from all outsiders combined.
    Jerusalem is their first anticipated prize because they see it as easy winnings and it would set the statge for a wave of Islamic frenzy.
    As for the rest of the world, when the world is ready to sacrifice its Jews, no possible ugliness would be too extreme to contemplate.
    You guys have it entirely all wrong.
    The Jews made up their minds long ago where they were going to draw the line in the proverbial sand. In my view, their position was quite reasonable under the variety of circumstances. The Arabs (for their part) did not want any Jews drawing any lines in their sand. Where said line was was irrelevant. It continues to be so.
    When the Arabs become ready to get educated and wealthy, they shall have a willing (and capable) cohort in the form of the Israelis. The rest of this bullsh*t is just bullsh*t. Arabs control 98% of the land in the region (which is up from 0% in 1917). I can name you about 35 other countries that would have gone postal on the attacking Arabs decades ago. This violence perpetually continues because the world thrives on tormenting Jews. I know because I am one of the tormented.

  6. Sorry to hear of your torment Isador. But you live in the world’s richest and most powerful countries where Jews are disproportionally represented in all the halls of power, wealth and influence. You are in fact one of the world’s lucky Jews.

    For myself being Jewish is always a challenge, a great one.

  7. B’Tselem is calling for JAG investigation of a possible war crime in May 20th Gaza bombing:

    http://www.btselem.org/English/Gaza_Strip/20070521_Al_Haya_Family.asp

    Taking into account the nature of the location, the planners of the attack should have expected there was a risk that many bystanders would be injured, and should have taken cautionary means to prevent such a result.

    The principle of proportionality, which is one of the pillars of international humanitarian law, states that it is forbidden to carry out an attack, even if it is aimed at a legitimate military target, knowing that the attack will result in injury to civilians in excess of the military advantage anticipated from the attack.

    B’Tselem on Qassam rockets:

    http://www.btselem.org/English/Israeli_Civilians/Qassam_missiles.asp

  8. Palestinians are dedicated to Israel’s annihilation. Period. The is the Palestinian’s (the PLO’s) “Phased Plan”:

    1) Through the “armed struggle” (i.e., terrorism), to establish an “independent combatant national authority” over any territory that is “liberated” from Israeli rule. (Article 2 of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Charter)

    2) To continue the struggle against Israel, using the territory of the national authority as a base of operations. (Article 4)

    3) To provoke an all-out war in which Israel’s Arab neighbors destroy it entirely (“liberate all Palestinian territory”). (Article 8)

    Do not delude yourselves. These people want to destroy Israel.

  9. Steve,

    As you are no doubt well-aware, the offending clauses of the Palestinian National Charter were declared null and void nearly ten years ago in a public ceremony and accepted as such by Clinton, Netanyahu, and Sharon. The Charter as cited above is a historical relic reflecting the times in which it was written (1968, the year Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated). The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 and 2007 offers normal relations with Israel within recognized borders living “in peace and good neighborliness” in a secure region. In dragging out those long ago rejected clauses you are reaching back in time and pulling up some moldy oldie nostalgia hits for us: Hey Jude, Folsom Prison Blues, Say It Loud – I’m Black And I’m Proud. Palestinian National Charter Articles 6-10, 15, 19-23, 30, etc., etc., etc. All from 1968.

    So Steve, are you for a two-state solution?

  10. No. John, it was not declared null and void. Why do you propagate this?

    Mitchell Plitnick wrote: “Commentators often used to say that it was crucial to strike a deal with Yasir Arafat because, like him or not, he was the only one that could possibly make a deal stick. Indeed, since his death what little organization there was to both the PLO and the Palestinian Authority has frayed or even shattered.”

    What kind of justification or rationale is this?

    “In April 2002, Israeli forces entered Tulkarm Charity Committee offices and found a detailed spreadsheet of charitable payments that accounted for how $545.000 had been allocated to 102 Palestinian families. According to the table, this was the tenth payment round, meaning that a far greater sum had already been transferred. But this spreadsheet was not a Palestinian document. The logo at the top of the spreadsheet read, in Arabic, “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Committee for Aid to the Al-Quds Intifada.”

    Documents found in Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah indicated that he had directly financed suicide bombings by the Tanzim militia of his Fatah movement. His Arabic signature was found on on letters authorizing payments to Tanzim operatives.”

    Saudi Arabia and Yasser Arafat were up to their necks in funding and promoting terrorism and suicide bombings. Why John, do you defend these murderers?

    Steve

  11. John,
    I am sorry. I should have written, “In April 2002, Israeli forces entered Tulkarm Charity Committee offices and found a detailed spreadsheet of charitable payments that accounted for how $545.000 had been allocated to 102 Palestinian families of SUICIDE BOMBERS.”

    Steve

  12. Translation of the proceedings of the historic April 1996 meeting of the Palestine National Council:
    http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/carryover/documents/amendment.html

    ” 1. The Palestinian National Charter is hereby amended by canceling the articles that are contrary to the letters exchanged between the P.L.O. and the Government of Israel 9-10 September 1993.
    2. Assigns its legal committee with the task of redrafting the Palestinian National Charter in order to present it to the first session of the Palestinian central council.

  13. John,
    What are you saying here? You wrote:

    “You should have written “NO documents found in Arafat’s compound in Ramallah indicated he had directly financed suicide bombings…” At least that’s what the Israeli Public Security Ministry acknowledged”

    The very link that you posted begins:

    “After seizing Palestinian offices and scouring thousands of papers, Israel says documents show Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat authorized payment to a militant who allegedly had been involved in killing several Israelis.

    “Israel’s Public Security Ministry says the document is important because it indicates that instead of arresting militants, Arafat provided support to fighters in his Fatah movement, which includes a militia responsible for many deadly attacks including a suicide bombing in Jerusalem Thursday.”

    http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=144483&contrassID=1&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y

    I wrote: “The Documents found in Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah indicated that he had directly financed suicide bombings by the Tanzim militia of his Fatah movement. His Arabic signature was found on on letters authorizing payments to Tanzim operatives.”

    John, this is from Israel’s former UN ambassador Dore Gold. Are you saying Ambassador Gold is a liar who distorts evidence?

  14. Fred,
    You wrote: Translation of the proceedings of the historic April 1996 meeting of the Palestine National Council:
    http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/carryover/documents/amendment.html

    But this is not the end of the story:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_National_Covenant#The_Charter_and_the_question_of_Israel.27s_right_to_exist

    “Many Israelis feel that although the PNC met in Gaza on 24 April 1996, it did not revoke or change the covenant, but only issued a statement saying that it had become aged, and that an undefined part of it would be rewritten at an undetermined date in the future. While the English language press release stated that the PLO Covenant was “hereby amended”, the Arabic version of Yassir Arafat’s letter on this declaration stated:

    “It has been decided upon: 1. Changing the Palestine National Charter by canceling the articles that are contrary to the letters exchanged between the PLO and the Government of Israel, on 9 September and 10, 1993. 2. The PNC will appoint a legal committee with the task of redrafting the National Charter. The Charter will be presented to the first meeting of the Central Council.

    “Peace Watch”, an Israeli organization declaring itself to be “an apolitical, independent Israeli organization monitoring bilateral compliance with the Israel-PLO accords”[1] and whose reports usually came to the conclusion that Israeli compliance was much better than the Palestinian one[2] , issued the following statement accurately reflecting the opinion prevailing at the time on the right-wing side of the Israeli of the Israeli political spectrum:

    The decision fails to meet the obligations laid out in the Oslo accords in two respects. First, the actual amendment of the Covenant has been left for a future date. As of now, the old Covenant, in its original form, remains the governing document of the PLO, and will continue in this status until the amendments are actually approved… There is a sharp difference between calling for something to change and actually implementing the changes. Second, the decision does not specify which clauses will be amended.”

  15. John,
    You wrote: “So Steve, are you for a two-state solution?”

    If you mean two states — a Jewish state next to a Palestinian Muslim state — in the Holy Land. No.

  16. Steve,

    Arafat’s signature on a letter authorizing payment to an individual who is a suspect is not evidence that Arafat “had directly financed suicide bombings,” as your quoted statement claimed. The statement distorts it, misrepresents it. The documents may indicate nothing of the kind. Corrupt politicians do not usually do us the favor of leaving paper trails, as experts quoted in the article point out. They usually deal in cash, particularly, where illegal activities are concerned. Gold’s statement (unattributed originally) is out beyond what the evidence actually shows. The truth is that the documents, as one might expect, tell us almost nothing. They certainly do not prove Arafat “had directly financed suicide bombings.”

    Here’s a quote from the article [emphasis added]:

    “Other than the letter authorizing payment to a wanted militant, no other such documents have been found, the Public Security Ministry acknowledges.

    Some documents show Arafat in contact with Palestinian political and security officials whom Israel suspects of organizing attacks. However, none shows a direct link between the Palestinian leadership and specific acts of
    violence
    .”

    http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=144483&contrassID=1&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y

    If one’s evidence is strong, there is no need to distort or misrepresent it.

  17. I made such a hash of the italics in the original, with apologies I think I had better re-post the whole thing and ask Mitchell to delete the original if he will:

    Steve wrote:

    “Many Israelis feel that although the PNC met in Gaza on 24 April 1996…”

    Do you read the material you post? This line refers to 1996, as does the Peace Watch statement. You skipped over the section “Events of 1998 and After” which begins:

    “Yasser Arafat wrote letters to President Clinton and Prime Minister Blair in January 1998 explicitly listing the articles of the Charter referred to in the PNC’s 1996 vote….”

    It goes on to quote Arafat’s letter to Clinton,

    “The Palestine National Council’s resolution, in accordance with Article 33 of the Covenant, is a comprehensive amendment of the Covenant. All of the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the P.L.O. commitment to recognize and live in peace side by side with Israel are no longer in effect.
    As a result, Articles 6-10, 15, 19-23, and 30 have been nullified, and the parts in Articles 1-5, 11-14, 16-18, 25-27 and 29 that are inconsistent with the above mentioned commitments have also been nullified.

    It goes on to say,

    “The articles identified by Arafat as nullified call for Palestinian unity in armed struggle, deny the legitimacy of the establishment of Israel, deny the existence of a Jewish people with a historical or religious connection to Palestine, and label Zionism a racist, imperialist, fanatic, fascist, aggressive, colonialist political movement that must be eliminated from the Middle East for the sake of world peace.”

    While noting that “Observers who had previously been skeptical of Palestinian claims that the Charter had been amended continued to voice doubts…,” your article goes on to point out that

    “President Clinton, Israel and the Likud party now formally agreed that the objectionable clauses of the charter had been abrogated, in official statements and statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Sharon, Defense Minister Mordechai and Trade and Industry Minister Sharansky. With official Israeli objections to the Charter disappearing henceforward from lists of Palestinian violations of agreements, the international legal controversy ended.”

    Sorry for such a long quote, but you skipped over quite a bit of information there, leaving an incorrect impression. Also, since the Peace Watch statement was written before the events of 1998, it was incorrect as to its claim that specific Articles had not been named.

  18. More indications that the occupation of Gaza never ended (despite Israeli claims). IDF operations there are to be expanded and will include ground operations, they may continue even if Qassam attacks cease, any cease-fire would only apply to Palestinians, there will be no linkage / coordination between Qassam attacks and the number of future Israeli strikes:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/863634.html

    “Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told ministers Sunday that Israel would act independently of Hamas activity in the Gaza Strip, regardless of whether the militant group continued to fire Qassam rockets at southern Israel or called for a cease-fire.

    “I will not commit to coordinating our behavior with Hamas actions, either it [the group] opens fire or halts its fire,” Olmert told the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, shortly after a Qassam rocket attack killed an Israeli man in the western Negev town of Sderot.

    “Even if there were an internal cease-fire in Gaza, and if such an agreement held, it would apply to the [Palestinian] factions only,” Olmert said.”

    If there is to be “no correlation” between Qassam attacks and Israeli airstrikes, this raises the question whether the Qassam attacks on Sderot were actually a pretext for the arrests and targeted assassinations by Israel in the first place.

  19. ohn,
    I am curious. You appear to nonchalantly defend bloody mass murderers of Jews like Yasser Arafat. Are you a Jew?

    Do you likewise defend Adolf Hitler?

    Steve

  20. I apologize:

    John,
    I am curious. You appear to nonchalantly defend bloody mass murderers of Jews like Yasser Arafat. Are you a Jew?

    Do you likewise defend Adolf Hitler?

    Steve

  21. John,
    You wrote: “If one’s evidence is strong, there is no need to distort or misrepresent it.”

    I wrote: “The Documents found in Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah indicated that he had directly financed suicide bombings by the Tanzim militia of his Fatah movement. His Arabic signature was found on on letters authorizing payments to Tanzim operatives.”

    I ask you once yet again John, this is from Israel’s former UN ambassador Dore Gold. Are you saying Ambassador Gold is a liar who distorts evidence?

  22. John,
    If Herr Hitler had come out publicly sometime in 1944 saying, “We love our Jews. We would never hurt our Jews,” would you likewise believe him?

  23. John wrote: “More indications that the occupation of Gaza never ended (despite Israeli claims).”

    If you were living in Sedrot John, you would be screaming at this leftist govenment to protect you and your property and family. Remember Shimon Peres derisively said when asked about Hamas attacks on Sedrot? Oy vey, “Qassams Shmassams!” Yaaawn.

    John. You could care less about innocent Jewish blood.

  24. Steve Klein wrote,

    “John. You could care less about innocent Jewish blood.”

    I agree with the statement from B’Tselem:

    http://www.btselem.org/english/Israeli_Civilians/20070527.asp

    “The Documents found in Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah indicated that he had directly financed suicide bombings …”

    Once again, the documents did not indicate that Arafat had directly authorized suicide bombings. Regardless who made the statement quoted, it is in error. It misrepresents the facts.

    “I am curious. You appear to nonchalantly defend bloody mass murderers of Jews like Yasser Arafat. Are you a Jew?…Do you likewise defend Adolf Hitler?”

    “No” on all three. But I would caution you to avoid you-statements and ad hominem remarks like these (and the one above) in the future and would refer you to Mitchell’s warnings about abuse, which includes calling someone anti-Semitic. This is supposed to be a forum for discussing opinions, ideas, policies, and facts; not about the bloggers themselves.

    “If Herr Hitler had come out publicly sometime in 1944 saying, “We love our Jews. We would never hurt our Jews,” would you likewise believe him?”

    The public repudiation of the named Articles in 1998 was believed and accepted by Clinton, Netanyahu, Sharon, Mordechai, and Sharansky. Official Israeli objections to the Charter disappeared henceforward from lists of Palestinian violations of agreements. Arafat is dead now, Steve. It’s time to let him go and move on with life.

  25. According to U.N. Ambassador Dore Gold, “The Documents found in Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah indicated that he had directly financed suicide bombings …”

    You wrote: “Once again, the documents did not indicate that Arafat had directly “authorized” suicide bombings. Regardless who made the statement quoted, it is in error. It misrepresents the facts.”

    Arafat directly financed suicide bombings — this you now acknowledge — but this does not in any way indicate that Arafat had directly “authorized” suicide bombings.

    John, my goodness. Good grief!

  26. “Arafat directly financed suicide bombings — this you now acknowledge…”

    Where did you get that idea? I acknowledge no such thing. The documents do not prove that he did.

    “— but this does not in any way indicate that Arafat had directly “authorized” suicide bombings.”

    I did misquote your quote. My apologies. Thank you for pointing that out. I repeat therefore:

    The documents did not indicate that Arafat had directly financed suicide bombings. Regardless who made the statement, it is in error. It misrepresents the facts.

  27. John: “The Documents found in Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah indicated that he had directly financed suicide bombings by the Tanzim militia of his Fatah movement. His Arabic signature was found on on letters authorizing payments to Tanzim operatives.”

    Dore Gold, “Hatred’s Kingdom” page 204

    I want to pin you down to an unequivocal statement. Is Ambassador Gold a liar John? Please. No more spin. Is Mr Gold a liar?

  28. Steve queried,

    “Is Mr Gold a liar?”

    I have no idea. I have a copy of his book, The Fight for Jerusalem. I assume he is an honorable gentleman. Do you think otherwise? My comment was in reference to his statement. It is incorrect, and it misrepresents the facts, as I have now said a number of times.

  29. Let us get this straight John Baker. You believe Yasser Arafat was a man of peace. He never called for killing the Jews or for Jihad?

    http://www.iris.org.il/quotes/joburg.htm

    “The Jihad [Islamic holy war] will continue, and Jerusalem is not [only] for the Palestinian people, it is for all the Muslim nation.
    You are responsible for Palestine and for Jerusalem before me [applause], the land which had been blessed for the whole world.

    Now after this agreement you have to understand our main battle.

    Our main battle is Jerusalem. Jerusalem. The first shrine of the Moslems……”

  30. “You believe Yasser Arafat was a man of peace.”

    I have said almost nothing about Arafat one way or the other. I have certainly not defended him. I have no interest in him period. He is dead and irrelevant. Now quit telling me what you think I believe. You make a lousy psychic.

  31. Steve –
    That was an interesting choice of quote:
    “The Jihad [Islamic holy war] will continue, and Jerusalem is not [only] for the Palestinian people, it is for all the Muslim nation.
    I suppose one could just as easily say that the Zionist expansion will continue, and Jerusalem is not only for the Israeli people, but for all the Jewish Nation.

    After all, that’s the whole point of Israel’s Law of Return.

  32. The other fellow’s nationalism always looks so unreasonable; one’s own always seems like reason itself.

  33. John, you wrote:

    “I have no interest in (Arafat) period. He is dead and irrelevant.”

    Sorry, I thought he was relevant because Mitchell Plitnick wrote that “Commentators often used to say that it was crucial to strike a deal with Yasir Arafat because, like him or not, he was the only one that could possibly make a deal stick.”

    It seemed to me as though Yasir Arafat is indeed relevant. I’m not sure that I would agree that Yasir Arafat made a deal stick however. I recall that Mr. Arafat violate the terms of each and every agreement he made with Israel. He pledged he would end incitement to terrorism. He violated his pledge. He pledged that he would stop demonizing Jews in text books, in the the schools and in the media. He violated his pledge. He pledged that he would recognize Israel and stop the terror and violence; stop the killing of innocent Jewish women and children. He violated his pledge.

    “While Israel went about implementing its side of the Oslo agreements ? removing troops from nearly all Palestinian areas, recognizing the PA, and educating for peace ? the PA failed to live up to its commitment to renounce and uproot anti-Israel terrorism. Instead, unprecedented incitement from Arafat’s official PA media and school textbooks, and active and passive PA support for terrorist groups led to a string of suicide bombings in the mid-1990s that killed scores of Israeli civilians. In October, 1996, at the height of the Oslo years, Arafat cried out to a Bethlehem crowd, ‘We know only one word – jihad! Jihad, jihad, jihad! Whoever does not like it can drink from the Dead Sea or from the Sea of Gaza.’ ”

    Numerous observers documented that Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority had not made tangible progress on any of the specific milestones President Bush declared would be preconditions for U.S. recognition of a state of Palestine.

  34. Fred, you wrote: “That was an interesting choice of quote:
    “The Jihad [Islamic holy war] will continue, and Jerusalem is not [only] for the Palestinian people, it is for all the Muslim nation.

    “I suppose one could just as easily say that the Zionist expansion will continue, and Jerusalem is not only for the Israeli people, but for all the Jewish Nation.

    After all, that’s the whole point of Israel’s Law of Return.”

    I think the point is that the land of Israel was given by “God” (if you will) to the Jews. Even the Qur’an says the Holy Land belongs to the Jews. Why don’t Muslims honor their prophet? Mohammad said the Holy Land was given by Allah to the Jews. (Surah 5:22) Israel has a meager 8 – 10 thousand square miles of land. The sons of Ishmael have better than 6 million square miles of property (22 great nation-states, many of them oil-rich) bequeathed to them by Allah. Why do they covet this tiny piece of real estate? Why do they begrudge the Jews this tiny piece of land?

  35. “Why do they covet this tiny piece of real estate?

    With all due respect, why don’t the Jews just come to the United States? Seriously. Arguably God has given the entire world to the Jews since 70 CE and, one must think, for some holy purpose. So, why not America instead of that “tiny piece of real estate”? I am not being facetious.

  36. John,
    You are obviously a reader and a student of history so you ought to be able to answer your own question. There are two reasons that come immediately to mind.

    1) America is not our homeland. Though I am an American citizen for now — America has been good to her Jewish guests by and large — I fully intend to immigrate to Israel. Israel is our historic and Biblical homeland.

    2) Though America has been good to her Jewish guests, we know from our history, this can rather suddenly change and for the worse. There is plenty of latent anti-Semitism here in the U.S. and given the right conditions, say an Arab oil embargo due to U.S. support for Israel (like the one after the 1973 Yom Kippur war) or a depression or some economic and social catastrophe, more often than not, Jews become the scapegoat.

    Surely you know this from the history of the Jews. Israel is our only sure refuge and sanctuary. We learned this from the Holocaust.

  37. Steve, thanks. Good reasons. Certainly understandable. I’m not really trying to dissuade you, but isn’t the U.S. a much safer refuge and sanctuary than Israel? It certainly is now, and there is little likelihood of this changing in the future. The really serious manifestations of anti-Semitism are those involving anti-Jewish laws and discriminatory public policies, after all. There are any number of reasons why the danger of a sudden change in that regard in the U.S. is quite remote. On the other hand, the dangers in Israel are “real and present.” Of course, if one was born there, it makes a lot of sense. Support for Israel is solid, but it has fluctuated in response to Israeli policies or actions, like the bombing of Lebanon last year.
    All things considered, the U.S. seems the best possible place, though less satisfying spiritually perhaps and therefore not the best place possible, if one can make that distinction.

  38. John, you’re right. Israel is a more dangerous place than the U.S. at this point in time.

    I’m a guy who likes a cause; even a battle. I was a political activist in our local Republican party for eight years until I came out publicly in our newspaper and on the radio criticizing the president’s policy on Israel. The officers sought my removal. I am in the political wilderness now, except for the Internet which is my window to the world.

    I don’t have anything to fight for here. I believe the battle is pretty much over here in the U.S., though there will continue to be skirmishes between the left and the right. It is my opinion that my party (the party of Lincoln) has lost its moral and spiritual ballast, especially during these last 7 years of the G. W. Bush administration. To me there are committed Christians and principled conservatives and there are pseudo-Christians and unprincipled conservatives. I believe we have a pseudo-Christian in the White House. I must confess this, sadly, as a thirty-six year registered Republican.

    I believe the U.S. will gradually turn against Israel like most of Europe has. It may take a few years but I believe it will ultimately happen. Dring the 1973 Arab oil embargo there were bumperstickers in our city: “OIL YES, JEWS NO!”

    Let’s face it, other than the spiritual aspect you mention, what does the Jewish state offer the U.S. in comparison to the oil-rich Arab states?

    I’ve been to Israel three times. I know it is not easy over there. Israel is not this super-wealthy country like the U.S. We are really spoiled here with luxury but I live a pretty austere life anyway. I’m not really materialistic. If I can have my cat, my books, my computer and my motorcycle and a small one or two bedroom home or apartment, I will be content.

    Things are good for American Jews just now here in America. We are not prophets. We don’t know what it will be like here in a decade or two or three. Things can change. I believe the U.S. may be in for some rough days ahead. Just my opinion. Maybe not in our generation but I believe there are going to be some very bad days ahead in the future especially as the jihadists acquire weapons of mass destruction, and they will.

    In Israel today there is an incredible battle for the soul of the tiny nation in an increasingly hostile world, as you can see on this and many other websites. For me as a Jew, this will be exhilarating (in a manner of speaking, though very challenging) to be in the heart of the spiritual battle for the Jewish nation and for its “Holy” land.

  39. Well-said. But let’s suppose America does “turn on” Israel, perhaps during an oil crisis. Yes, that could happen. But it would affect probably American Muslims more than American Jews. The central question for me, if I were your father or grandfather, would be whether in that situation Israel is the place to be? I mean, it seems like the last place to be in that kind of context. Frying pan into the fire? Anyway, I hope your dream is fulfilled and that peace is firmly established there before you go.

  40. Maybe but in 1973 Richard Nixon’s arms lift to Israel replenished Israel’s dwindling arms supply during the Yom Kippur war. Israel was desperate for arms. The subsequent Arab defeat is what triggered the OPEC Arab oil embargo led by Saudi Arabia.

    Once again in the summer of 2001, during the height of the Intafada, Crown Prince Adbdullah is alleged to have subtly threatened Bush with the “oil weapon” if he did not engage himself in the Palestinian-Israel conflict. The result of this brinkmanship was a two page letter from Bush to Abdullah promising he (Bush) would make public his vision for a Palestinian state in the Holy Land. This was late August 2001, only days before the September 11, suicide bombings on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. Remember 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals. Bin Laden is Saudi, though the Saudis claim to disown him. Of course he is Saudi as is the wealthy bin Laden family.

    If the Arabs once again resort to using the oil weapon, chances are Israel — the Jews — will be the cause. Should Americans be inconvenienced yet again because of the Jews, why would they think or act any different from the Europeans who blame all the ills in the Middle East on that “sh–ty little country?

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=228

  41. The passport was issued under the name Ricardo Klement and, acc. to this article, from the Italian city of Genoa.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6700861.stm

    No, I don’t think this is evidence of much of anything, certainly not an anti-Jewish conspiracy.

    In a post-9/11 world, I can’t really see an Arab oil embargo producing blowback on American Jews. It would more likely cause an eruption of anti-Arab hostility which is already heightened since “the war on terror.” Matter of fact, I don’t think the Saudis would even risk an embargo. Liberals, gays, atheists, and illegal immigrants are more “endangered species” than Jews these days. They are publicly defamed on a regular basis.

  42. “If the Arabs once again resort to using the oil weapon, chances are Israel — the Jews — will be the cause.”

    Every country is accountable for it policies, Israel included. And certainly Israel is capable of doing things that stir up anger against it. It seems to do so with some regularity, in fact. (Why you would choose to be in Israel when that happens, I cannot understand, Steve.) But as far as Americans are concerned, I think they are for the most part able to distinguish between the State of Israel and its policies and the Jewish family next door. There are genuine anti-Semites about who make no such distinction, of course. There are fewer and fewer all the time, by my reckoning. It does not help, however, when supporters of Israel blur that distinction themselves and label legitimate criticism of Israeli policy as “anti-Semitism.”

  43. John,
    I’ve got this book “Why the Jews” by Dennis Prager and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. Rabbi Telushkin has written many books on Jewish subjects including “Jewish Literacy,” an excellent book. The book delves into the historic roots of antisemitism.

    Chapter Thirteen is on this subject, “Anti-Zionist Antisemitism.”

    They make the case that prior to the Holocaust it was socially acceptable to publicly and proudly espouse Jew-hatred but after the revelations of the Nazi crimes, it became taboo to call oneself an opponent of Jews, and so, for the first time in history, most antisemites denied they were antisemites.

    Thus when the Soviets jailed Jews for Jewish activities, they claimed to be only “anti-Zionist,” and those who seek to destroy the Jewish state and deny the Jews their national identity likewise call themselves only anti-Zionist. They deny hating all Jews, only those Jews who insist upon retaining their Jewish national beliefs and a Jewish state

    Would you admit that denying Israel’s right to exist as a nation-state is as much anti-Jewish or antisemitic as denying that Italians are a nation and work to destroy Italy, would make one an enemy of the Italian people even if one denies he hates all Italians?

    I’m not sure where criticizing Israel’s self-defense crosses over into denying Israel’s right to exist but at some point it clearly does?

    I bought Norman Finkelstein’s book “Image and Reality.” Haven’t read the entire thing yet though I’ve seen Finkelstein in several debates on U-tube. He appears to not have any Jewish roots nor any Jewish self-identity. To me this is sad. Maybe Finkelstein — a child of Holocaust survivors — believes (unconsciously) that if he sides with those who hate Jews, he will not be hated by them.

    Many Jews consider Finkelstein an antisemite even though he is a Jew. It would appear that Finkelstein is anti-Zionist; he does not believe Israel has a right to exist; he calls Israel a Nazi state.. What do you think?

  44. “…and so, for the first time in history, most antisemites denied they were antisemites.”

    Interestingly enough, I was just reading in an interview with Raul Hilberg (dean of Holocaust scholars) that this seems not to be the case.

    http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=11&ar=1034

    According to Prof. Hilberg, anti-Semites (as a political movement or party originating in the 19th. c.) were looked down upon even by many Nazis as low-lifes and dim-wits. He relates that in Mein Kampf, Hitler even said his father rejected that movement (or party?) because it would have degraded his class. Nietzsche had a sister who married an anti-Semite leader and Nietzsche in his correspondence with her referred always to him as “your anti-Semitic husband.” So even though the Nazis were obviously anti-Semitic in the extreme, some of them, including some SS officers, looked down on old-style anti-Semites as of a lower class. The Nazis saw themselves as a new order and empowered to actually do what the others only dreamed of. Even so, early on their idea was to transport Jews, expel them. The extermination idea came in about February of 1941, according to Hilberg. Anyway, the point is that to publicly espouse anti-Semitism prior to the Holocaust was not actually socially acceptable but was looked upon as a low-class phenomenon in Germany at least and kept under wraps. My guess would be that it became acceptable as the result of The Nuremberg Laws (1935) and Kristallnacht (1938). But yes after the Nazi crimes became knowledge it went back underground. As Hilberg points out, if you read ads in the New York Times in the 30’s and 40’s you would find apartments and homes listed as “restricted,” i.e. forbidden to Jews. That kind of anti-Semitism was very slow to disappear. I don’t know if the Holocaust had that much effect on it.

    Read the whole interview. It’s interesting reading. I’m sure it is a lot more complex than my brief explanation here. I would like to find out more about that, as it was news to me.

  45. “denying Israel’s right to exist as a nation-state”

    This is a loaded question. In the first place, there is no such thing as “a right to exist.” Israel exists. Period. The next question is where does Israel exist? In other words, where are the borders? The vast majority of Palestinians are ready to live in peace with Israel within agreed-upon borders. Now if there is to be only one state, the next question is, what is to be the manner of Israel’s existence? As a Jewish state? In what way will Muslims live and participate in such a state? The question appears only to ask “Should Israel be destroyed from the face of the earth?” For most people, the answer is “No, but…where?…and how?” It is not as simple as it sounds. I mean, it’s more than just asking if Israel should be granted diplomatic recognition!

  46. “he calls Israel a Nazi state..”

    Where does he say this?

    “What do you think?”

    I think about 90% of the antagonism that is directed toward NGF is due to his style. Even people who tend to agree with him find his style off-putting, at least in his public speaking. His scholarly writing is much more dispassionate, as you are no doubt discovering. He is a formidable debater.

    If you look at the last pages of that book, he seems to be thinking in terms of a one-state solution. I’m for a two-state solution. It’s going to be hard to either separate these two peoples (two-states) or blend them together (one-state) or it would have already been done a long time ago.

  47. John, you say you are not Jewish. Why are you so interested in all of this. May I ask?

    You are right. Israel exists. But some people, many in the Muslim-Arab world, do not believe Israel should “exist” in the Middle East; that Jews should live in Europe and in America. We should go back to Europe and America from where they / we came, except for those few who were indigenous to the Middle East before the Zionism became a political movement.

    You wrote: “The vast majority of Palestinians are ready to live in peace with Israel within agreed-upon borders.”

    Where do you get this? How you derive this notion? The vast majority of Palestinians celebrate suicide bombings against innocent Jewish women and children.

    I read the polls.

    The vast majority of Palestinians support homocide / suicide bombings and Hamas. Hamas does not “recognize” Israel’s “right to exist.” According to Hamas Israel is living on land that is a Muslim Waqf. In other words it is land that was given to the Muslims in perpetuity.

    “Hamas regards the territory of the present-day State of Israel — as well as the Gaza Strip and the West Bank — as an inalienable Islamic waqf or religious bequest, which can never be surrendered to non-Muslims. It asserts that struggle (jihad) to regain control of the land from Israel is the religious duty of every Muslim (fard `ain). Hamas does not recognize Israel as a sovereign state….”

    Palestinians support Hamas by overwhelming majorities. Hamas is dedicated to Israel’s annihilation.

    How can you possibly write this? You are too intelligent and well-read to believe this nonsense.

    Hiberg said: “Now when he (Norman Finkelstein?) talks about the Arabs, some Jews feel that he is also anti-Zionist, that he is anti-Israel; that he seems to always emphasize the suffering of the Arabs…..you cannot say he is altogether wrong either. Would you like to be an Arab citizen in Israel?…… Think of the security check points. It is a life that certainly something ought to be done about it in one way or another. This particular battle cannot be fought forever. It cannot be. The Israelis will tire of it. The Israelis will simply tire of mistrusting people. It is not possible to go on this way forever. Finkelstein has the corner on the germ of correct vision in these matters because he is pretty sharp. More often than not, especially with regard to these other matters like Goldhagen and the Swiss banks he has been right.”

    Hiberg is a fan of Norman Finkelstein and his “Holocaust Industry” it would appear.

    Let me just say for the record John, in principle, I am opposed to Holocaust reparations in most if not all instances.

    That having been said, I found this critique of Finkelstein’s work on Wikipedia. Omer Bartov, Professor of History and European History at Brown University reviewing the book wrote:

    “What I find so striking about The Holocaust Industry is that it is almost an exact copy of the arguments it seeks to expose. It is filled with precisely the kind of shrill hyperbole that Finkelstein rightly deplores in much of the current media hype over the Holocaust; it is brimming with the same indifference to historical facts, inner contradictions, strident politics and dubious contextualizations; and it oozes with the same smug sense of moral and intellectual superiority.

    “Here he [Finkelstein] combines an old-hat 1960’s view of Israel as the outpost of American imperialism with a novel variation on the anti-Semitic forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, which warned of a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. Now, however, the Jewish conspiracy is intended to “shake down” (his favorite phrase) such innocent entities as Swiss banks, German corporations and East European owners of looted Jewish property, all in order to consolidate Jewish power and influence without giving the real survivors of the genocide anything but empty rhetoric.

    “This book is, in a word, an ideological fanatic’s view of other people’s opportunism, by a writer so reckless and ruthless in his attacks that he is prepared to defend his own enemies, the bastions of Western capitalism, and to warn that “The Holocaust” will stir up an anti-Semitism whose significance he otherwise discounts. Like any conspiracy theory, it contains several grains of truth; and like any such theory, it is both irrational and insidious. Finkelstein can now be said to have founded a Holocaust industry of his own.[4]

  48. You wrote: “His scholarly writing is much more dispassionate, as you are no doubt discovering. He is a formidable debater.”

    I’m not sure how dispassionate his writing is. I will give you my opinion as I read more of his work.

    That he is a formidable debater is an understatement. I watched him in a debate with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, a very well-informed journalist on the Middle East. He walked all over Blitzer. Why? Because unlike Blitzer — with whom I profoundly disagree with — Finkelstein is a bully. He knows how to debate.

    Blitzer on the other hand is a gentleman. I would not Blitzer defending me in a court of law. I don’t know how many times the moderator told Finkelstein there was no time for a rebuttal only to be scolded, “WAIT, WAIT! I’VE GOT TO RESPOND!” So the moderator would bow to the intimidation.

    Blitzer would not come back. He would not put Finkelstein’s enormities down. He let Finkelstein walk all over him.

    If there was a man who was a match for Finkelstein — a good bully — I would like to see the debate. Wolf Blitzer was no match. He is (for lack of a better word) a cream puff; what my late father used to call a “lightweight.”

  49. “John, you say you are not Jewish. Why are you so interested in all of this. May I ask?”

    I spent a good number of years studying (and sometimes teaching) Hebrew, Semitic languages, and Near Eastern history. As a Christian, I consider myself part of the Judaic tradition. When the Messiah comes, Jews will say, “Finally, you’re here!” And Christians will say “Finally, you’re back!” Seriously, we are a lot alike, both awaiting the Messiah. And Islam owes a lot to both Judaism and Christianity.

    “Israel exists. But some people…”

    I don’t think that many. There are on both sides religious zealots who reject the other side completely. You say you read the polls, but there are polls that show the overwhelming majority (~60%)of both the Palestinian and Israeli people are desirous of living in peace. No doubt public sentiment fluctuates. But I really believe both people are way ahead of their politicians. Even religious hard-liners may be able to accommodate themselves to practical realities for the sake of peace. For example, Hamas has these official beliefs but can also speak of long-term hudna.

    ” I found this critique…”

    OK. But go back through it and see if you don’t think about 90% of that critique comes down to NGF’s style. If Hilberg thinks he’s right about this alleged shakedown, it bears looking into.

  50. “in principle, I am opposed to Holocaust reparations in most if not all instances.”

    May I ask your reasons?

    Wolf vs. NGF. Yes, poor Wolf. He’s a nice guy but in way over his head in that debate.

    “Palestinians support Hamas by overwhelming majorities.”

    Yes, but I wouldn’t necessarily use that to gauge support for terrorism or for the destruction of Israel. Did you ever stand in a voting booth and look at the two candidates for President – like in 2004 – and say, “None of the above!”? I suspect that many voted for Hamas because the alternatives were corrupt and unacceptable. They figured it was time to give someone else a chance, even an Islamist party (Palestinians are by and large fairly secular).

  51. Here are two pieces on the 2006 poll conducted in the Occupied Territories shortly after the Hamas election victory.

    http://65.109.167.118/pipa/articles/brmiddleeastnafricara/173.php?nid=&id=&pnt=173&lb=brme

    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=11797

    Summary of the results:

    63% want Hamas to drop its call for destruction of Israel. Only 37% of those who voted for Hamas think Israel does not have the right to exist. Only 21% of voters want Hamas to maintain its position calling for the elimination of Israel.

    77% would like to see a negotiated settlement with Israel.

    58% favor a two-state solution. 3% want an Islamic state.

    43% said they voted for Hamas in hopes of ending corruption; not because of Hamas’ political agenda. It was a protest vote. 74% said they were surprised by the landslide victory.

    72% said they viewed the performance of the previous Pal. Leadership Council “bad” or “very bad.”

    58% support armed struggle against Israel. 39% believe negotiations (alone) are the best way to achieve peace. Only 18% reject negotiations altogether.

    “Armed struggle” does not necessarily mean suicide bombing.

  52. You wrote: “I suspect that many voted for Hamas because the alternatives were corrupt and unacceptable. They figured it was time to give someone else a chance, even an Islamist party (Palestinians are by and large fairly secular). “Armed struggle” does not necessarily mean suicide bombing.”

    I believe William Shirer (The Rise and Fall of the Third Rich) wrote that Germans did not want war. Maybe they did not want to murder all of Europe’s Jews either but they voted for the Nazi party and this is what they brought to Europe.

    Perhaps there are some things I did not expect when I made bad choices in life but I have to take responsibility for my bad choices. Germans had to take responsibility for their bad choices; collectively.

    Israel expelled thousands of Jews from Gaza, from Gush Katif because President Bush wants to establish a Palestinian state in Gaza and in the West Bank. I visited Gush Katif in the early nineteen eighties. It was a beautiful, peaceful and flourishing agricultural community. Wonderful, committed people.

    Now it’s all destroyed — the greenhouses that philanthropists bought for the Palestinians were looted and destroyed —- and the expelled Jews are like refugees in their own land, abandoned by their government. I tried to help them before the expulsion. I guess I gave them over a thousand dollars of my hard-earned money but they decided there would be no resistance; not even passive resistance. If someone came to take my home and property from me, I think I might resist.

    So now what do we have? Gaza is turning into a al Qaeda – Hamas strong-hold with many, many tons of weapons flowing in unimpeded from Egypt on a daily basis because Dr. Rice strong-armed Israel’s Defense Minister into opening up the Rafah border crossing with no IDF presence. Gaza is a terrorist stronghold and many thousands of rockets are raining down on the 20,000 or so citizens of Sedrot with Ashkelon the next main target. “Disengagement” did not bring peace. It brought more violence. When Jews retreat, the Palestinians see it as a victory and a prelude to further the jihad.

    Palestinian Muslims elected Hamas for whatever reason, like German citizens elected the Nazis. As they say, “The proof is in the pudding.”

  53. “in principle, I am opposed to Holocaust reparations in most if not all instances.”

    May I ask your reasons?>>>>

    How do you italicize a quote from the other writer? I’ve wondered how you do this?

    My reasons. I read Martin Gilbert’s “Israel: A History.” Gilbert devotes a good part of a chapter to David ben Gurion’s deal with Germany for reparations. I believe it was in the early nineteen fifties and the deal had to be ratified by the new Israeli Knesset. The deal cause and outcry in Israel led by Menachem Begin and many Holocaust survivors. There were protests, even riots in the streets, outside the Knesset, but ben Gurion prevailed in the end.

    While I was reading this, though I suspect historian Gilbert was on the ben Gurion’s side, I found myself on the side of Begin and the Holocaust survivors. If I were to put this on a personal level, were someone to murder members of my family, I cannot imagine seeking monetary compensation from the murderer or from the family of the murderer. How can that bring back my mother and my father who were murdered. And might the murderer think he is absolved of his crime because he gave me money?

    This is why I am opposed to this compensation scheme. Germans can never pay for the enormity of their crimes with money. I will never forget what the Germans did to my people. Yet I know there are some very fine Germans who are ashamed of their past.

    I have a customer who feels this way but she is on the left. She hates anything that smacks of nationalism. She does not like to see American flag-waving and all. It reminds her of Germany’s nationalist past.

  54. My goodness. Look at this. Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu is the rabbi that told soldiers to obey government orders to expel Jews from Gaza! To not be insubordinate, etc. He told them to do it with “tears in your eyes…” We call this a “Killul HaShem.”

    May. 30, 2007 21:24 | Updated May. 31, 2007 10:13
    Eliyahu advocates carpet bombing Gaza
    By MATTHEW WAGNER
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    All civilians living in Gaza are collectively guilty for Kassam attacks on Sderot, former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu has written in a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

    Eliyahu ruled that there was absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the rocket launchings.

    The letter, published in Olam Katan [Small World], a weekly pamphlet to be distributed in synagogues nationwide this Friday, cited the biblical story of the Shechem massacre (Genesis 34) and Maimonides’ commentary (Laws of Kings 9, 14) on the story as proof texts for his legal decision.

    According to Jewish war ethics, wrote Eliyahu, an entire city holds collective responsibility for the immoral behavior of individuals. In Gaza, the entire populace is responsible because they do nothing to stop the firing of Kassam rockets.

    The former chief rabbi also said it was forbidden to risk the lives of Jews in Sderot or the lives of IDF soldiers for fear of injuring or killing Palestinian noncombatants living in Gaza.

    Eliyahu could not be reached for an interview. However, Eliyahu’s son, Shmuel Eliyahu, who is chief rabbi of Safed, said his father opposed a ground troop incursion into Gaza that would endanger IDF soldiers. Rather, he advocated carpet bombing the general area from which the Kassams were launched, regardless of the price in Palestinian life.

    “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand,” said Shmuel Eliyahu. “And if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.”

    In the letter, Eliyahu quoted from Psalms. “I will pursue my enemies and apprehend them and I will not desist until I have eradicated them.”

    Eliyahu wrote that “This is a message to all leaders of the Jewish people not to be compassionate with those who shoot [rockets] at civilians in their houses.”

  55. Italics and boldface are done by enclosing the words in html tags. Google html tags or html code to see how it’s done. Hard to show you here because the code tags are invisible once the message is posted. Be careful you don’t screw it up like me, because you can end up with everything and all subsequent posts in italics or bold if you forget to put the closing tag in. Then you have to make a special post with one of those. You can try it out in a Word document or some e-mail programs by finding Show Code on a menu. That enables you to see all the formatting tags.

    Reparations. I feel the same way. And in this case it seems the WJC is actually exploiting and to me that’s very bad.

    Eliyahu is attempting to apply the laws of herem warfare to contemporary warfare. This is impossible as well as illegal and immoral, because there is no such thing in modern times as herem. In herem the “spoils of war” are dedicated to the Lord and there must be overwhelming odds against you and no reliance upon anything but God rather than military might and military science, which is the opposite approach of the IDF or any modern military. In addition, herem is conducted against past, present, and future, so there is digging up of graves and butchering of infants as well as the killing of young men. This is the way of ancient warfare. Since 1899 these have all been classified as war crimes, crimes against humanity. The shooting of un-guided missles into civilian areas is also, but that does not justify retaliating in this way, in kind. The simple fact is that there is no military solution to this problem, that a political-diplomatic solution is what is needed.

  56. “She hates anything that smacks of nationalism. She does not like to see American flag-waving and all. It reminds her of Germany’s nationalist past.”

    I agree with her. I happen to believe that nationalism is the biggest danger to the future of the human race. It almost always allies itself with warfare, the resort to military solutions for all problems, and ultimately nuclear armaments. One’s own nationalism is called patriotism. To depart from it is treasonous. The other fellow’s nationalism is called fanaticism. They are the same thing actually, despite how they look. For example, look at this:

    “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand,” said Shmuel Eliyahu….”If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.”

    This was exactly what the Nazis did to the Czech village of Lidice in 1942, which is one of the reasons we have a Geneva Convention against this, why we have a name for it: collective punishment. Please read the story and you will know why Israel must not take up these methods:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lidice

    This is reminiscent of something in Germany’s past far worse than flag-waving. This is precisely what Israel should not do. He can call it “Jewish war ethics” if he likes, but in my opinion what he is suggesting is un-Jewish in the extreme, not worthy of the name Jewish. His emotions have gotten the better of him, I’m afrad.

  57. “This was exactly what the Nazis did to the Czech village of Lidice in 1942.”

    Well not exactly. The Nazis at least did remove the women and children first, though they killed them separately later. If Eliyahu’s recommendation to carpet bomb Gaza in retaliation for the Qassam attacks is not Chillul Hashem, what would be, if a non-Jew may speak so boldly to a rabbi?

  58. You wrote: “The shooting of un-guided missles into civilian areas is also, but that does not justify retaliating in this way, in kind. The simple fact is that there is no military solution to this problem, that a political-diplomatic solution is what is needed.”

    I’m not sure I agree about not retaliating in kind though I would not want this particular rabbi to be my counselor.

    The Nazis, in Poland, in Rotterdam, in London and in Coventry used brutal methods; terror bombings. In Poland there was the bliztkrieg and the Einsatzgruppen, these mobile killing units. Tens of thousands of Poles were executed in acts of collective punishment. Same thing happened when Germany invaded Russia.

    The Allies retaliated in kind against Germany. Allies conducted many area bombings (Germans called them terror bombings) over German cities. Many thousands of German civilians were incinerated. War is terrible. Who likes war other than a Hitler?

    I cannnot fault the Allies. There is no political-diplomatic solution to baseless terror. How should they have responded to these Nazi enormities and genocide? Remember, in Adolf Hitler, Germans saw their savior, even till the very end according to historian and journalist William Shirer.

    If Palestinian government visits baseless terror on Israseli civilians — we left Gaza, remember? — why not visit terror in return? An eye for an eye.

    Were you a great leader during second world war, I would be a lamp shade or a bar of soap and Americans would be speaking German.

    Where is your sense of history?

  59. An eye for an eye.

    This means let the punishment fit the crime. Unfortunately, Israel’s punishments tend to be very disproportionate.

    why not visit terror in return?

    It solves nothing. If it did, it would have long ago. Insanity is supposed to be the belief that if you keep doing something that has never worked it will work. The politicians on both sides love it because it keeps them in office and doesn’t change a thing.

    There is a place for military force or the threat of it alongside negotiations in coercive diplomacy. The methods are well-known. The time for a negotiated settlement is long overdue. The situation will not yield to a purely military solution. Israel has been trying to make that work for forty years now. Time to get on with it.

  60. “Israel has been trying to make that work for forty years now.”

    Not quite accurate, again. Israel has been using military means to keep anything from happening for forty years in order to establish “facts on the ground” ahead of negotiations. In that sense the military approach has worked quite well for them. But that’s all it’s good for at this point, to maintain the status quo, to block negotiations.

  61. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3407165,00.html

    British hypocrisy reigns supreme

    British academicians apparently unconcerned about occupation in Ireland

    Ron Breiman Published: 05.31.07, 21:58 / Israel Opinion

    The British University and College Union (UCU) has decided to call on its members to “consider the moral implications” of ties with Israeli academic institutions, and even weigh the imposition of a boycott on those same institutions to protest Israel’s policy towards

    ?????

    the Palestinians.

    Beyond the intolerable harm to academic freedom, this decision features grand hypocrisy; the Union, which sees fit to condemn Israel’s “occupation” in its own country has no problem identifying with the British occupation of Ireland, which has lasted for hundreds of years now and led to violent struggles and peace deals that failed one after the other.

    We are talking about yet another expression of European hypocrisy in all matters related to “occupation” and the Jews.

    There are those who compare the British struggle against Irish terror to the Jewish battle against Palestinian terror, yet they forget the essence: The British army is an occupier in Ireland; the IDF is not an occupier in its own country.

    We are talking about a unique case in history where a population group is indeed subjected to another government, yet this government cannot be characterized as an occupier, because we are talking about the government’s own country. The correct comparison is not between Israel and the British occupier, but rather, between the people of Israel and the Irish people.

    And by the way, there is plenty of appreciation for Israel among the Irish over our ability to completely rid ourselves of the British rule.

    An Israeli who visits Ireland cannot but be impressed by the manner in which the Irish treat their homeland and the preservation they display in their battle against the English occupation of Northern Ireland. The free Ireland, which covers about three quarters of the island and includes 26 districts, views the six northern districts, which are subjected to English rule, as districts yet to be liberated.

    The passage between free Ireland and Northern Ireland is not felt at all on the ground: No separation fence, no roadblocks, and no border signs even – everything points to the fact this is one national entity; meanwhile, the ancient Gaelic language spoken by island residents is being revived.

    Decisive response needed

    It’s difficult to avoid comparisons to Israeli realities: The sovereign and “powerful” State of Israel, which spreads across about three quarters of the ancient Land of Israel, treats the remaining liberated quarter as “occupied land” that should be returned to the Arab occupier instead of the British occupier that was removed about 60 years ago.

    The frightened Israel is setting up a barrier separating it from the cradle of its own history: A separation fence, roadblocks, and other means, based on the imagination of architects and contractors who are lining up in an effort to get rich from this white elephant, along with their media collaborators who worship the current golden calf.

    Meanwhile, we see a process of withdrawal when it comes to the Hebrew language and provincial self-depreciation in the face of the Anglo-American linguistic occupation: The “Hi and Bye” culture and foreign names for new neighborhoods in Israel (The Sea and Sun complex in northern Tel Aviv, “West Park” in Rishon Lezion, “City Heights” in Kfar Saba, etc.)

    There is no reason why the Jews should not learn from the Irish who are also a small nation with rich cultural creation, widespread diaspora, and a grief-stricken homeland – how to treat our country. I do not mean emulating the violent methods employed by radical terror groups, but rather, the tight link to national roots, in comparison to the alienation displayed by a large minority in Israel to its own homeland.

    For 40 years, since the Six Day War, the dominant perception in Israel was that the “Territories” are a deposit meant to implement the crazy idea of land for peace, which turned out to be land in exchange for terrorism. The time has come to sober up from this absurd perception, which exploded in our faces, as could be expected.

    We can demand that the government of Israel reject the idea of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River as well as the “Two-state” vision, while also condemning the hypocrisy of Northern Ireland’s occupiers.

    We can also demand that the government of Israel deal with its main mission – gathering the people of Israel in the Land of Israel – rather than dealing with the establishment of a new country for its enemies west of the Jordan River implementing the demand for a Palestinian right of return to the western Land of Israel, as declared by Foreign Minister Livni.

    Arab migration to the western Land of Israel, even if it is to a “Palestinian state” rather than to the State of Israel, constitutes a dangerous and severe demographic blow and contradicts the government of Israel’s mission. The government would do well to promote the immigration of Diaspora Jews instead bringing more Arabs to the Land of Israel.

    And as to the hypocritical boycott by the British academicians – we must respond decisively and stop identifying ourselves with the “occupation” accusation. When many Israelis points a finger at themselves, as if the IDF is an occupier in its own country, we cannot complain about academic elements in Europe who are fed by libels courtesy of anti-Semitic Christians and Muslims as well as Jewish self-haters.

  62. Here are some results of the March 2006 joint Israeli-Palestinian poll conducted by the Truman Research Institute of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Israeli and Palestinian numbers are practically mirror-images of one another. Note that the election did not represent a significant turnaround in Palestinian opinion, and that the overwhelming majority of Israelis want direct negotiations with Hamas.

    “…three quarters of the Palestinians (73%) and Israelis (76%) prefer to see further disengagements in the West Bank negotiated between the PA and Israel. Only 23% of the Palestinians and 17% of the Israelis prefer further disengagements to be unilateral. Moreover, 60% of the Israelis support entering talks with Abu Mazin and the Fateh leadership over a final status settlement.

    The survey further examined the impact of the political turnabout in the PA on both publics’ support for mutual recognition of identity and political recognition. Only 37% of the Palestinians support the recognition of the State of Israel by Hamas, while 59% oppose it. However, under conditions of peace and given an independent Palestinian State, 66% of the Palestinians and 68% of the Israelis support a mutual recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people. Similar levels of support among Israelis and Palestinians were obtained in September 2005 before Hamas rose to power in the PA.”

    http://truman.huji.ac.il/upload/PressRelease-15-240306English.doc

    The people – both peoples – are ahead of the politicians…and the ideologues and zealots. At some point the people will demand peace and the politicians will have to get out of their way.

  63. John wrote: “The simple fact is that there is no military solution to this problem, that a political-diplomatic solution is what is needed.”

    Do you think a political-diplomatic solution — rather than total war and unconditional surrender —- could have been achieved with the Germans during the second world war?

  64. “Do you think a political-diplomatic solution — rather than total war and unconditional surrender —- could have been achieved with the Germans during the second world war?”

    Very doubtful. There would have to have been a powerful and credible threat of military force against Germany very early on to back up a diplomatic initiative. In order to work, such a threat has to be both credible and veiled. Once a military threat is overt and direct, it cannot be withdrawn because the credibility of the nation is then at stake and either the other side backs down or there is war. The hope is that a diplomatic initiative will be successful before that is necessary. In the case of the Third Reich, this would have had to happen very, very early to work. For a variety of reasons, this was not to be. Britain (Chamberlain) made the mistake of attempting diplomacy without backing it up with credible military threat. I believe Hitler was shocked at how easy it was. So total war, unconditional surrender became the only way possible. But if Israel really wants a negotiated peace settlement, they are making the opposite mistake, i.e., overt use of military force without backing it up with credible negotiations. In fact, as I stated, they appear to be using military force to prevent negotiations while colonization of the West Bank continues. Otherwise, Israel would tell us where it is located.

  65. “…during the second world war?”

    I suppose “during” is the point on which you may be wanting to draw a comparison with Israel and the Palestinians.

    In the middle of a war the approach I described (military threat + diplomacy) no longer works in the same way, because the threats are already realized. But unless you are going for total annihilation or total and unconditional surrender, the possibility of peace talks has to exist.

    In the case of Israel, the war ended in 1967. Since then the situation is one of military occupation. Political-diplomatic negotiations are forty years overdue. As a result, Israel has lost credibility, not because it failed to act militarily, but because it has failed – as victor – to follow-through in good faith with the political-diplomatic side.

  66. “But unless you are going for total annihilation or total and unconditional surrender, the possibility of peace talks has to exist.”

    Let me correct that. Unless you are going for total annihilation, the possibility of peace talks has to exist. Even in the case of total and unconditional surrender, the parties come to a table in the end.

  67. John,
    I am not enough of a scholar of military history to know. Can you give me an example of any conflict in the history of the world whereby a powerful and credible “threat” of military force (alone) backed up a diplomatic initiative settled the conflict?

    I don’t think any such conflict was resolved in history, between two nations. Do you?

  68. You wrote: “I suppose “during” is the point on which you may be wanting to draw a comparison with Israel and the Palestinians.”

    No. I want to draw a comparison with Israel and the entire Muslim-Arab world. Not merely with the Palestinian Muslim-Arabs.

    The Palestinians are simply the Arab world’s proxy in lieu of an all-out military assault which the Arab world is not “yet” ready to attempt. The Arab world is still very much at war with Israel. Remember the three “NOs?” The Khartoum Resolutions; September 1, 1967? NO peace with Israel. NO recognition of Israel. NO negotiations with Israel.

    Nothing has changed since then.

    Did you read a few weeks back whereby Prime Minister Olmert publicly asked that Israel’s Arab belligerent neighbors sit down and talk with him about peace. I read it on the front page of the Jerusalem Post. It was international news.

    Did you not see it? Did you not read this?

    He got no takers. NOT ONE John. Because they don’t want to sit down with the Jews. The Jew is the enemy. The Jew must be annihilated or driven from the Middle East or subjugated.

    “Allah Akbar.” “Allah is greater” than any other God, is the cry of the faithful Muslim. Besides Allah, there is no other God. Not Yahweh. Not Jehovah. Not Jesus. Only Allah and his prophet Muhammad.

    Personally, I don’t know what there is to negotiate from this standpoint. Do you?

    We maintain that unlike the U.S. and the Allies’ defeat of Nazi Germany, Israel has yet to defeat her Arab neighbors in their five or six wars of aggression, due to the fact that Israel bowed to the will of the international community at the first sign Israel’s Arab invading armies faced defeat at the hands of the Jews.

    What war has the U.S. not interceded at the last moment in behalf of the invading Arab armies?

  69. “I don’t think any such conflict was resolved in history, between two nations. Do you?”

    I’m no military historian either, obviously.

    The Cuban Missle Crisis comes to mind. The Russians “blinked.”

    Bush managed to resolve the U.S. spy plane incident in 2001 without going to war with China by combining veiled threat with diplomacy.

    The same approach appears to have now resolved (?) the N.Korean nuclear weapons crisis.

    Would the peace worked out with Egypt at Camp David be an example? Of course, there was an actual war in 1973. Perhaps the implicit threat of future military action helped drive the Camp David process forward five years later. I don’t know.

    The current situation with Iran – if their nuclear program can be successfully stopped without military action – will be an example. What you see at the moment is veiled military threat (“all options are on the table” + carrier groups “on maneuvers” in the Gulf) coupled with some diplomatic initiatives through the U.N., etc. Will it work? Dunno. But that is the approach I have described.

    The U.S. and Israel are heavily militarized societies. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

  70. “Nothing has changed since then.”

    Everything has changed since then. Why do you keep going back to the rhetoric of an earlier day? The Arab states are no longer spoiling for a war to annihilate Israel. They moved on from that after the Six Day War despite their rhetoric at Khartoum to a focus on borders.

    “He got no takers. NOT ONE John. Because they don’t want to sit down with the Jews. The Jew is the enemy. The Jew must be annihilated or driven from the Middle East or subjugated.”

    Oh, come on now. This is absurd. It had nothing to do with “the Jews.” Olmert issued an “invitation” he knew King Abdullah could not accept because it would imply diplomatic recognition of Israel at a point which was inappropriate in terms of negotiations. I would be happy to write you a check for a million dollars as long as I know in advance that you are going to tear it up.

    “Allah is greater” than any other God.”

    No. It means “God is greater than the present situation.” I remind myself of that all the time. But the last thing Israel needs is to turn this conflict into a religious war in any case.

    Steve, the day when the Arabs were conspiring to wipe Israel from the face of the earth has passed. That is now a myth. It has become sort of like The Protocols of The Learned Elders of Islam, i.e., the hoax of an anti-Jewish conspiracy to annihilate Israel. What do you gain by keeping the hoax of such an anti-Jewish conspiracy on life-support? It serves no good purpose. It’s time to stop feeding that myth anti-Semitic statements through a stomach-tube and to pull the plug on it. Is there anti-Semitism in the Arab world? Of course. A state of hostilities exists and people on both sides are still demonizing the other. That is not evidence that Arab states are conspiring to destroy Israel. There is every evidence that the Arab states wish to make peace with Israel. Thank God.

  71. “What war has the U.S. not interceded at the last moment in behalf of the invading Arab armies? “

    Lebanon 2006. The U.S. did everything in its power to prolong the Israeli attacks.

  72. The Cuban Missile Crisis comes to mind. The Russians “blinked.”>>>>>

    This is a good example. Didn’t the Soviets begin arming Cuba with missiles in response to Kennedy’s abortive “Bay of Pigs” massacre / fiasco? I remember the Cuban missile crisis, living here in central Fla. We built a bomb shelter on our property. Now that was a waste of money. Despite all the “red scares” and the fear mongering from the right, personally I never considered Russia a significant military threat to the U.S. I never seriously thought Russia wanted war with the U.S. This may sound strange coming from a conservative. I have long felt the fear of Communism has been a bit over-blown; though I would not wish to live in a Communist country. The image of Russia is the bear, isn’t it? Don’t bears generally run from great danger? Communism is a secular-atheistic, economic-social ideology. Islam is a religious tradition with a deity. To me, there is a vast differnce between a secular ideology and a great and ancient religious tradition with an imperialist history. I believe the west has far more to fear from Islam than Communism. Perhaps more than Nazism. Nazis did not use their children as suicide / homicide bombers.

    “Bush managed to resolve the U.S. spy plane incident in 2001 without going to war with China by combining veiled threat with diplomacy.”

    Yes, I remember this shameful episode. Bush was into his first few weeks or months of office when this happened. I thought it was a test of his mettle. China demanded an apology for downing one of our spy planes flying over international waters and Bush ultimately gave them a carefully worded apology. It was then that I knew this man was not possessed of a great deal of moral courage. And for me it has borne out with time. Perhaps he is faithful to his wife — to his credit — but otherwise I do not see Mr. Bush as a particularly honest or decent man. He’s been a huge disappointment to me.

  73. You wrote: “Everything has changed since then. Why do you keep going back to the rhetoric of an earlier day? The Arab states are no longer spoiling for a war to annihilate Israel. They moved on from that after the Six Day War despite their rhetoric at Khartoum to a focus on borders.”

    John, you and I could not be further apart. The Muslim-Arab world will never reconcile themselves to a Jewish state in what they believe to be Islamic land, no matter what its size and parameters.

    Look, Israel withdrew from Gaza. We expelled the very last Jew and withdrew our military completely. Same thing in Lebanon. So what do we have? Cross-border kidnappings. Rockets. Daily rocket attacks.

    How can you believe what you are trying to tell me? The Arabs, if they thought they could defeat Israel today, would attack today. There will not be peace in the Middle East this side of the messianic age. Do not fool yourself.

    There were many prophets in the days of the prophet Jeremiah saying, “Peace, peace. God will give you peace in this place.” Jeremiah was considered a traitor because he told the Israelites that Babylon would soon be at the gates of the city.

    Now who was the true prophet of God?

  74. “How can you believe what you are trying to tell me?”

    “Trust but verify” – Ronald Reagan

  75. John wrote: “Steve, the day when the Arabs were conspiring to wipe Israel from the face of the earth has passed. That is now a myth. It has become sort of like The Protocols of The Learned Elders of Islam, i.e., the hoax of an anti-Jewish conspiracy to annihilate Israel.”

    Maybe you are aware? ‘The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’ is standard fare throughout the Middle East. It’s in the libraries, in the book stores, on many a Muslim’s book shelf. Conspiracy theories run rampant throughout the Muslim-Arab world and the Muslim-American world. Did you see all the theories throughout the Middle East that the Jews were responsible for 9/11 and not Arabs? The Jews were warned to get out of the Trade Center towers, etc. It was “a Mossad operation….” Did you see the recent Pew Research Poll findings?

    “Asked whether they believe groups of Arabs carried out the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, 40% of Muslim Americans say yes, while 28% say they do not believe this, and about a third (32%) say they do not know or decline to answer the question.”

    Sixty percent of Muslim Americans refuse to admit that groups of Arabs killed more than 3,000 innocent people on American soil, yet the mainstream media reported the following: “Muslim Americans in line with US values,” the headline on MSNBC.com.

    I was just sent this by our local radio talk show host. Again John, this is standard fare all over the Middle East:

    http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=IA35907

    At the same time, Al-Hazan also evoked a conspiracy theory blaming the U.S. and Israel for the situation in Gaza: “[When] the Bush administration pressured President Mahmoud Abbas into holding elections in the PA, they both knew that Hamas would win, not thanks to any achievements [of its own] but due to the corruption within Fatah. Hamas [indeed] won, but it is designated in the U.S. and Europe as a terrorist organization, and thus the Bush administration achieved its aim. It boycotted the Palestinians, lay siege to their government, and starved [them], using Hamas’ [designation as] a terrorist organization as an excuse. Just as Fatah could not believe that it had lost its power, Hamas cannot believe that it had come into power, and both factions have thus played into the hands of the Palestinians’ enemies in the U.S. and Israel… How can the Hamas and Fatah leaders ignore the fact that it was Bush’s government, and the Sharon and Olmert governments, that pushed [Hamas and Fatah] to this situation, and that the [internal] Palestinian fighting is [actually] an Israeli aspiration?” [12]

  76. “Maybe you are aware////?”

    Maybe you are aware that The Protocols is a European import? It was produced by the Czar’s secret police; not by Muslims.

    As I said, there is such a thing as Arab anti-Semitism. Of course. Why would you want to read that kind of stuff and repeat it? Throughout WW II and thereafter Americans referred to Japanese as “Japs” and “yellow monkeys” and portrayed them with thick glasses and large buck teeth grins. This is the universal phenomenon of demonization of the enemy. What would you expect in the Arab street after a hundred years of conflict, wars, and hostilities?

    And in my opinion MEMRI is no better. It demonizes the Arabs. It collects only articles which are anti-Arab and which respresent the most extreme voices from the Arab street. Don’t be part of that on the other side. It serves no good purpose.

    Again I ask, why would you want to feed your mind with such material to remind yourself of the hatred of some while ignoring the good will of the majority? If it truly makes you happy to make yourself unhappy, I guess this is what you should do.

    But I would urge you to avoid focussing on “the lowest common denominator” and instead to focus on the positive majority. Why focus on the negative element? The vast majority of Arabs, of Palestinians, do not hate Jews and are not in a conspiracy to annihilate Israel, as I have shown you from recent polls.

    You worry this is not true and are afraid to let down your guard? That’s what the world’s fifth most powerful army and nuclear weapons are for. Trust but verify. There is no other healthy way to live.

  77. Jihad Al-Khazen is the former editor of Al-Hayat.

    And MEMRI’s co-founder Col. Yigal Carmon is a former Israeli intelligence officer. No problem with that, but it shouldn’t surprise us then to realize that MEMRI is an anti-Arab propaganda machine. Why read such biased trash?

  78. ” Al-Hazan also evoked a conspiracy theory blaming the U.S. and Israel for the situation in Gaza.”

    Are the Arabs allowed to say bad things about Israel?

    The great secret, Steve, is that the Arabs and Jews are human beings. Arabs and Jews say bad things about each other. They are both like scared rats right now. The Arabs have lost every military conflict they ever had with Israel, so far as I’m aware. Israel has the fifth most powerful military in the world, a nuclear arsenal, is backed up by the United States, and operates with near-impunity. So of course they say bad things. This is what humans do when they are humiliated by their enemies. The Arabs are scared, just like the Israelis are scared, surrounded by Arab countries which have attacked it in the recent past. Be part of the solution; not part of the problem.

    And as far as his conspiracy theory, he is partly right. Condy Rice was recently pushing for an $80 million arms package to bolster Abbas’s security forces against Hamas, the democratically-elected government. Experienced Jordanian troops were being called up and trained for that purpose in Jordan. The arms and money that are being smuggled in through Egypt are not just going to Hamas. So his conclusion is not that unreasonable, even leaving aside Arab demonization of Israel / Jews. And in saying this, he is commenting on Israeli policy; not expressing Judenhass / anti-Semitism.

  79. I found this on Wikipedia about MEMRI (see below) under “Controversy.” Quite honestly, I don’t regularly visit the website. I was sent this article (above) by a local talk show host (non-Jewish) who unlike me, supported the “disengagement” from Gaza, so he is no rabid Zionist.

    MEMRI comes to my attention when I see, for instance, a video circulating in the media called “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” a children’s television program produced by Hamas which shows examples of child incitement.

    Critics such as the Anti-Defamation League have stated that the show promotes anti-American, anti-Israel, and anti-Semitic sentiment, although a producer of the show claims that the program is actually, “about Palestinian kids express[ing] their feeling[s] regarding what they witness.”

    Israeli officials have denounced the program as incendiary and outrageous.

    Click here to see selections of Farfur – the Mickey Mouse clone http://www.pmw.org.il/bulletins_may2007.htm

    What publications do you trust if not MEMRI? Thomas L. Friedman is, I believe, a far-left leaning journalist who would fit in nicely with this website. He is a New York Times jounalist with whom I have little in common. He’s no right-wing Zionist. Have you ever read Friedman’s stuff. Come on John! Why do you say biased “trash?”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East_Media_Research_Institute#Controversy

    Thomas L. Friedman, a political opinion columnist for the New York Times, credits MEMRI with helping to “shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears” and “presenting the voices of the…courageous Arab or Muslim intellectual, cleric or columnist (who) publishes an essay in his or her media calling on fellow Muslims to deal with the cancer in their midst. The truth tellers’ words also need to be disseminated globally.” Friedman quotes Husain Haqqani, author of the book ‘Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military’: “The rulers in these countries have no interest in amplifying the voices of moderates because the moderates often disagree with the rulers as much as they disagree with the extremists…You have to deal us moderates into the game by helping to amplify our voices and exposing the extremists and their amen corner.”[15]

    Brad Sherman, a Congressman and ranking member of the United States House of Representatives International Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Non-proliferation, wrote the introduction to a MEMRI report on Arab and Iranian reactions to 9/11: “Since MEMRI’s inception eight years ago, Americans and others in the West have had at least one outstanding source of information on the media of the Arab world, Iran and Turkey. MEMRI provides timely translations of materials that you will find nowhere else. As a member of Congress on the House International Relations Committee, and the top Democratic member of its Terrorism Subcommittee, I have utilized MEMRI.org to better understand the Middle East and its political culture.”[16]

    Jay Nordlinger, the managing editor of National Review, wrote: “Wading or clicking through MEMRI’s materials can be a depressing act, but it is also illusion-dispelling, and therefore constructive. This one institute is worth a hundred reality-twisting Middle Eastern Studies departments in the U.S. Furthermore, listening to Arabs — reading what they say in their newspapers, hearing what they say on television — is a way of taking them seriously: a way of not condescending to them, of admitting that they have useful things to tell us, one way or the other. Years ago, Solzhenitsyn exhorted, “Live not by lies.” We might say, in these new circumstances, “Live not by ignorance about lies, either.” Anyone still has the right to avert his eyes, of course. But no one can say that that is not a choice.” [17]

  80. John, you wrote: “Are the Arabs allowed to say bad things about Israel?

    The great secret, Steve, is that the Arabs and Jews are human beings. Arabs and Jews say bad things about each other. They are both like scared rats right now. The Arabs have lost every military conflict they ever had with Israel, so far as I’m aware. Israel has the fifth most powerful military in the world, a nuclear arsenal, is backed up by the United States, and operates with near-impunity. So of course they say bad things. This is what humans do when they are humiliated by their enemies. The Arabs are scared, just like the Israelis are scared, surrounded by Arab countries which have attacked it in the recent past. Be part of the solution; not part of the problem.”

    John, I emailed Mr. Morris (our local radio talk show host) your view that MEMRI is a biased source because of Carmon’s Israeli Intelligence background. The following was his response:

    “Carmon’s anti-Arab attitude has nothing to do with pointing out that this particular Arab validates, in Arab media, a narrative of self destruction being described in terms of a Zionist/American conspiracy. He will likely argue that this guy doesn’t represent “the Palestinians”. I would assume the Kindergarten Graduation is not representative of fruits of this either, and just more propaganda, no doubt created in a Mossad studio.”

    http://www.memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=1468

    John, take a look at this video. Do we see anything like this kind of incitement to violence systematically disseminated to Jewish children in Israel?

  81. Carmon’s anti-Arab attitude has nothing to do with pointing out…”

    It has everything to do with running all the newsprint from the Middle East through a fine sieve and filtering out a selection of pieces for readers who only want to read about Arabs that hate Jews / Israel. If somehow Khaled Meshal should convert, put on a yarmulke, join the World Zionist Organization, and apply for Israeli citizenship, believe me, you would never read about any of it in MEMRI. Why hook yourself up to a hose from which only poisonous fumes emanate?

    John, take a look at this video.

    Why would I want to do that? Why would you? Why would you spread such filth? Why does MEMRI?

  82. What publications do you trust if not MEMRI?

    None without reservation. Trust but verify. MEMRI’s bias is well-known and beyond question. Can you recall ever reading anything positive about Arabs or Muslims there? It’s an anti-Arab poison-mill which filters out anything positive about Arabs. Call it propaganda or “advocacy journalism,” but who needs it? How naive can anyone be to think MEMRI is a reliable source for news and information?

  83. You wrote: “Why would I want to do that? Why would you? Why would you spread such filth? Why does MEMRI?”

    John, as you might imagine, because I am a conservative, I am also pro-life. I used to be active in the pro-life movement but due to the exigencies of what I believe to be a global conflict —- between Islam and the west, between Islam and Israel —- this had to become my top priority and focus almost to the exclusion of everything else.

    I mention this only because your statement above reminds me of a pro-choice feminist I knew a few years back. Being “pro-choice” or pro-abortion rights is of course each person’s prerogative. But what I found difficult was the denial. Her position was that the fetus was only a mass of tissue and fluid. I asked her, would she watch a video that I had in my possession. She utterly refused. ‘Why would I want to do that’?

    These videos are graphic of course. They are not pleasant. No one enjoys watching them but for me reality is important even though it is uncomfortable. So I forced myself to watch videos of the World Trade Center attacks, cell phone calls to 911 ( Kevin Cosgrove http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE9TLgCVLBM ), etc. I forced myself to watch a Islamic beheading of an American in Iraq as the jihads chanted to Allah. I hate to watch these things. They are sickening, disgusting, but I believe I have an obligation to know and to never forget.

    Read the law of Moses. Read how many times Moses uses the word “Remember” in the book of Deuteronomy. You must not hide from reality John.

  84. OK. Well, I don’t believe in the so-called clash of civilizations, a war between Islam and the West. Osama bin Laden preaches that, but I don’t accept it.

    Feeding onesself only the negative or the enemy’s evil words / deeds is not the “ZKR” Moses had in mind. He is talking about remembering God, the Torah, and all that God has done for us. Hate binds evil to you. Focus instead on the good, the goodness of YHWH. That’s ZKR.

  85. There are none so blind as those who will not see. MEMRI does not simply post the worst of the worst. What John apparently has seen quoted by others from MEMRI may the worst of the worst, but I doubt that. Had he gone to the original MEMRI link…

    http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=IA35907

    “The current wave of violent Hamas-Fatah clashes is one of the most brutal the PA has known, especially considering that it broke out only a short while after the signing of the Mecca Agreement, which was supposed to put an end to the mutual fighting. The large number of casualties, and the fear that has taken hold of the Gaza streets, have sparked intense protest among Palestinians and Arabs, with harsh criticism directed towards both the PA and Hamas.

    Some consequences of the clashes are public statements by residents calling on Israel to reenter the Gaza Strip, and concerns regarding the effect of the fighting on the international community’s faith in the Palestinians’ ability to establish a state, to honor agreements, and to maintain peace.

    Among the solutions proposed in the Palestinian media were to launch a third intifada, this time against those responsible for the internal chaos, and to bring in Arab or international forces to keep the peace between the Fatah and Hamas.”

    …he would see that the bulk of the quotes were not conspiracy minded, but a clarion call to Palestinians to stop destroying their own society. Another theme of this legitimate self criticism by Palestinians in the Palestinian media is that they simply can’t govern themselves and perhaps they were better off under Israeli occupation. It is not meaningless to discuss what Palestinians say to each other if the end result is supposed to be better understanding a rather complex situation. The two-state solution is dead until the Palestinians prove they can govern themselves. Even the Palestinians know this, and dread the thought of governance by Hamas and Fatah. Perhaps the rest of the world should listen to them.

  86. John,
    I’ve got a question for you. Let me preface it by saying I belong to no Jewish organization or group. Not one. I am an independent, free-thinking Jew.

    I have a copy of Robert J. Remini’s “Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars.” Remini is professor emeritus of history and humanities at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to his three-volume biography of Andrew Jackson, he is the author of biographies of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, as wll as a dozen other books on Jacksonian America. Among his many honors are the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation Award, the Carl Sandburg Award for Nonfiction, the University Scholar Award of the University of Illinois, the American Historical Association Award for Scholarly Distinction, and the National Book Award.

    According to Remini, Jackson, like most Americans, was a racist. Like most Americans, Jackson did not believe the Indians and the whites could co-exist together. He believed that the Indians needed to be forcibly removed. Thus when Jackson was elected president, one of his first acts was to shepherd the 1830 Indian Removal Act through Congress, thereby setting into motion the apparatus of forcibly expelling the so-called five civilized Indian tribes — the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole — west of the Mississippi. Thousands died in these forced expulsions from exposure, famine, thirst, etc. One of the more famous of these expulsions is known as the Trail of Tears.

    Now my question to you is, what is the difference between President Andrew Jackson the racist who successfully expelled hundreds of thousands of Native Americans west of the Mississippi, a man who is a an American legend and hero (his visage is on the face of every twenty dollar bill) and the the unsuccessful late Rabbi Mier Kahane whose party was banned from Israel’s Knesset? What is the difference the two men other than the one man was successful, lived to a ripe old age and is a national American hero and the other was unsuccessful and was murdered?

  87. John, what is “ZKR?” I don’t hate anyone. Aren’t there some peoples whose religous tradition teaches them to hate me simply because I am a Jew?

    Where did this come from:

    “The Hour – the Islamic Resurrection and End of Time– is literally dependent on the killing of Jews by Muslims.

    “The remaining Jews will unsuccessfully attempt to hide, as the rocks and trees will expose them, calling out “there is a Jew behind me, kill him!”

  88. Chip Morris wrote: “The two-state solution is dead until the Palestinians prove they can govern themselves. Even the Palestinians know this, and dread the thought of governance by Hamas and Fatah. Perhaps the rest of the world should listen to them.”

    What do you think about this John?

  89. Steve,

    ZKR is the Hebrew verb root meaning “to remember.”

    No one’s religious tradition teaches them to hate. People do that in the name of religions they have hijacked.

    You seem to be taking my responses as the opportunity to post more and more of this hate-mongering stuff. I have had more than enough, thank you.

    I really have no interest in discussing the point with you further or in seeing other examples. I have told you that I accept the fact that there is hate out there. I don’t think you need to bring it in here. It adds nothing to what everyone already knows. It doesn’t bear repeating and in so doing you contribute to the evil. I begin to wonder at your possible motives in continuing to do so.

    You have also posted the whole argument about Jackson and Kahane. Yes, racism is racism.

  90. What do you think about this John?

    I don’t think the Israelis are doing such a great job of governing themselves lately.

  91. Chip Morris wrote: “The two-state solution is dead until the Palestinians prove they can govern themselves. Even the Palestinians know this, and dread the thought of governance by Hamas and Fatah. Perhaps the rest of the world should listen to them.”

    What do you think about this John?

    “I don’t think the Israelis are doing such a great job of governing themselves lately.”

    On this we entirely agree. Maybe for differing reasons. Nevertheless, we agree.

  92. My goodness John. Since Mr. Morris weighed in you’ve become very compliant and supple. Why won’t you put Chip Morris in his place?

    Is the following a metaphor for you?
    http://www.tbnweekly.com/content_articles/060207_fpg-02.txt

    PINELLAS COUNTY – Barry (John?) was downgraded to a tropical depression just after it came ashore in Tampa Bay just after 10 a.m. Saturday.

    All tropical storm warning and watches have been canceled.

  93. http://www.adl.org/ADL_Opinions/Holocaust/20051031-JewishStandard.htm

    Norman Finkelstein: An Obsessive Anti-Zionist Shows his Stripes
    By Abraham H. Foxman
    National Director of the Anti-Defamation League

    Posted: October 31, 2005

    Like some of the more extreme Palestinian ideologues whose cause he has made his own, Norman Finkelstein has built his career on two things: an obsessive, vitriolic hatred of Zionism and Israel, and a penchant for distorting the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Unlike his compatriots in Ramallah and Jenin, however, Finkelstein uses his academic credentials and proficiency with scholarly forms to cast as “research findings” what would otherwise be recognized as propagandist bunk.

    It is the sign of a true obsessive that he sees the subject of his obsession everywhere. For Finkelstein, everything he sees is filtered through the prism of his anti-Israel animus, with results that would be merely absurd were they not so often used to incite hatred against Israel and undermine efforts to diminish anti-Semitism in the world.

    An essential component of Finkelstein’s obsession is the assumption that anything that in his view benefits Israel must be a calculated attempt to cover up Israel’s essential depravity.
    In his first book, The Holocaust Industry, he applied this “logic” to Holocaust education initiatives and attempts to obtain compensation for survivors, insisting that these be viewed not as efforts to learn from history or obtain justice for survivors, but as cynical efforts by powerful Jewish groups to somehow “immunize Israel from criticism” for its alleged human rights abuses. Along the way, Finkelstein skewered some of the hagiographic components that had developed around the Holocaust, a move that was applauded by some. But his shrillness and faulty logic left most of us scratching our heads.

    In his new book, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (University of California Press, 2005), Finkelstein confirms his obsession with the “evil” of Israel and Zionism. This time his target is anti-Semitism, insisting that efforts of Jewish organizations and other concerned bodies to oppose anti-Semitism around the world are really nothing more than an effort to “exploit” or “manufacture” claims of Jewish suffering in order to “immunize Israel against criticism” for its “racist” and “Nazi”-like treatment of Palestinians and its “unprecedented assault on international law.”

    It is shocking but true: sixty years after the Holocaust, Finkelstein argues that today’s anti-Semitism is merely a result of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. Dismissing Israel’s security concerns and the existence of terrorism, Finkelstein declares, “Current resentment against Jews has coincided with Israel’s brutal repression of Palestinians,” adding, “A patent remedy and quick solution would plainly be to end the occupation.”

    This reductionist theorizing is not what one would expect from a college professor, but it is par for Finkelstein’s course, where “proof” usually consists of nothing more than assertions of vague chronological contiguity. Finkelstein’s “proof” that Holocaust commemorations are intended merely to promote sympathy for Israel is the vague observation that such commemorations increased starting in the late 1960s, at a time when “elites” in the U.S. were eager to establish Israel as a the foremost American ally in the Middle East.

    Similarly, his “proof” that warnings of a new anti-Semitism are calculated distractions from Israeli atrocities is his observation that American Jewish groups tend to warn of increasing anti-Semitism at times when Israel is under international pressure to make concessions to Arab states or the Palestinians. If that observation seems dubious – especially in light of Finkelstein’s own claim that the international consensus has always been that Israel needs to make such concessions – that’s because it is wrong.

    Jewish organizations have been fighting anti-Semitism and opposing bigotry since long before the State of Israel was born. Yet, who would subscribe to the notion that anti-Semitism is an invention of powerful and media-savvy American Jewish organizations, when Jews are depicted on Arab satellite TV as ritual murderers who literally drink the blood of their victims, when newspapers serialize the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and when Mein Kampf tops the best-seller lists in the Arab world? Well, an anti-Semite might. So would Norman Finkelstein, whose obsessive hatred of Israel brings him to about the same place.

    The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

  94. “This reductionist theorizing is not what one would expect from a college professor.”

    Foxman is guilty of exactly the same reductionism, however. In fact, they both say the same thing from different perspectives. The reductionism is equating criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism.

    Foxman says (some? most? all?) criticism of Israel is really anti-Semitism (the “new anti-Semitism”). You reap what you sow, Mr. Foxman. Foxman’s (and other’s) reductionism enables Finkelstein’s counter-argument.

    Finkelstein says (some? most? all?) anti-Semitism (the “new anti-Semitism”) is really criticism of Israel.

    Of course, they are both partly right, but reductionism doesn’t allow that. Some criticism of Israel is really anti-Semitism, and some of it is really just legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies.

  95. Those of you who regularly review the somewhat limited English translations of the Israeli Press will know that criticism within Israel, by Israelis, of our government’s policies is at least as virulent, if not more, than some of the criticism in the USA.

    Why is it that such criticism in Israel is viewed as a sign of a robust free press and freedom of speech, while the same criticism in the USA is often attacked as ‘anti semitic’?

    The Anti-Defamation League is often at the forefront of such denunciations in the USA. It’s interesting to note that they never deliver the same attacks in Israel against Israelis who deliver analysis that they disagree with. In fact the Anti-Defamation League is virtually unknown here.

  96. John wrote: “Foxman is guilty of exactly the same reductionism, however. In fact, they both say the same thing from different perspectives. The reductionism is equating criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism.”

    I’m curious. Do you know Professor Finkelstein’s position with respect to Israel? I’ve not gotten that far yet in his book. Does Finkelstein support a bi-national state or a UN trusteeship or does he believe Jews should emigrate to Europe and America. Exactly what is his position? Do you know? What is his solution?

  97. “Exactly what is his position?”

    I answered this in post #49, second paragraph. It sounds like he’s for a one-state solution.

  98. Near the end of his book, Finkelstein talks about U.N. Sec. Council Resolution 242. In particular the line which opines about the “inadmissability of the acquisition of territory by war.”

    U.S. officials drafted much of this language. Can you understand why some of us have zero faith either in the United Nations or in so-called “international law?”

    For heaven’s sake, the entire north American continent was acquired from Native Americans and the Mexicans by war, by conquest, by plunder and despoliation! Who are these formerly White European Americans or any other predatory nation — what country was not acquired by war or conquest? — to lecture tiny, beleagured Israel about the inadmissability of the acquisition of territory by war?

  99. I answered this in post #49, second paragraph. It sounds like he’s for a one-state solution.”

    One state? You mean an Arab state? Do you know what page he talks about this?

  100. A state with Jews and Arabs living together in the same borders with the same laws. It would require completely dismantling the State of Israel starting over from the ground up.

    Debated recently between Avnery and Pappe:

    http://toibillboard.info/Transcript_eng.htm

    It will never happen IMHO. Can this marriage be saved? No, I don’t think so I think it is only an index of the level of despair at the possibility Israel will ever abide by international law and let the Palestinians form their own state in peace.

    Look on the last two or three pages of the book. Aside from writing about history, NGF is I think mainly focussed on ending Israel’s brutal occupation.

  101. “Who are these formerly White European Americans or any other predatory nation — what country was not acquired by war or conquest? — to lecture tiny, beleagured Israel about the inadmissability of the acquisition of territory by war?”

    All the other examples were before it was outlawed by the League of Nations in 1879(?).
    Them’s the rules. Now part of customary international law (does not require agreement by treaty). It is to this law that 242 refers in its Preamble.

  102. Can you understand why some of us have zero faith either in the United Nations or in so-called “international law?”

    Israel would not exist but for the United Nations. Much of international law would not exist but for the destruction of European Jewry in the Holocaust, which the rest of the world wanted to prevent happening again by establishing humanitarian law. Can you see why some of us think you’ve got a hell of a lot of nerve complaining about either one?

  103. corr. #105, not League of Nations 1879.

    The principle was codified in the Hague Conferences of 1899, etc. though it had been part of earlier documents (1874). The Nazis and the Japanese were flagrant violators of the principle in WW II. Germany was condemned for this at Nuremberg. The violations occasioned a meeting of the Geneva Diplomatic Conference in 1949 to discuss ways to prevent this happening again. See also U.N. Charter. “Tiny, beleagured Israel” put itself in some very bad company a long while ago.

  104. “Who are these formerly White European Americans or any other predatory nation — what country was not acquired by war or conquest? — to lecture tiny, beleagured Israel about the inadmissability of the acquisition of territory by war?”

    You wrote: “All the other examples were before it was outlawed by the League of Nations in 1879(?).
    Them’s the rules. Now part of customary international law (does not require agreement by treaty). It is to this law that 242 refers in its Preamble.”

    OH WELL ain’t that convenenient. U.S. says: “We got our continent!” Europeans say: “We got ours!” You’re very funny John.

  105. PS: What Israel now possesses, is part of the British Mandate for the Jewish national homeland. Some 79% of the Jewish national home was illegally carved out of the Mandate in 1922 and given by the British to a Hashemite prince. It was called transjordan. Lands that Israel captured in wars of self defense are, if anything “disputed” not occupied.

  106. http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_mandate_overview.php

    Geographical Distribution of the Mandate

    In 1920, following the defeat of the Turks, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and the peace conferences after World War I, the British Mandate for Palestine was created by the League of Nations. The Mandate was international recognition for the stated purpose of “establishing in Palestine a national home for the Jewish people.” (See What was the British Mandate?.)

    The area of the Mandate was originally 118,000 square kilometers (about 45,000 square miles). In 1921, Britain took the 91,000 square kilometers of the Palestine Mandate east of the Jordan River, and created Trans-Jordan (later the Arab country of Jordan) as a new Arab protectorate. Jews were barred by law from living or owning property east of the Jordan river, even though that land was over three-fourths of the original Mandate.

    In 1923, Britain ceded the Golan Heights (another 1,176 square kilometers of the Palestine Mandate) to the French Mandate of Syria. Jews were also barred from living there. Jewish settlers on the Golan Heights were forced to abandon their homes and relocate inside the westerb area of the British Mandate.

    The total remaining area of the Mandate for Palestine, after these land deductions, was just under 26,000 square kilometers (about 10,000 square miles). The southern part of the Mandate – the desert of the Negev – was also closed by the British to Jewish settlement. The area was inhabited by 15,000 roaming Bedouins, and had no Jewish or Arab settlements in it.

    The balance of the Mandate, the inhabited part of Palestine, and only the part west of the Jordan, was just 14,000 square kilometers. Jewish immigration was limited by the British from time to time, especially after the periods of Arab riots and severely restricted after 1939. At the same time, Arab immigration was not restricted or even recorded. By 1948, when the State of Israel was founded, 1.8 million people lived the western area of the Mandate, estimated to be 600,000 Jews and 1.2 million Arabs. Following the war between the Jews and the Arabs in 1948, the inhabited areas of the 14,000 square kilometers were divided along cease-fire lines between Israel and Jordan/Egypt. 8,000 square kilometers, or 57% of the reduced area (which is only 6.7% of the original Mandate territory), became Israel. The rest of the area of western Palestine, 5,700 square kilometers of historic Judea and Samaria, was annexed by Jordan – and renamed the West Bank – while 360 square kilometers were occupied by Egypt and called the Gaza Strip.

  107. John, you wrote: “The principle was codified in the Hague Conferences of 1899, etc. though it had been part of earlier documents (1874). The Nazis and the Japanese were flagrant violators of the principle in WW II. Germany was condemned for this at Nuremberg. The violations occasioned a meeting of the Geneva Diplomatic Conference in 1949 to discuss ways to prevent this happening again. See also U.N. Charter. “Tiny, beleagured Israel” put itself in some very bad company a long while ago.”

    Who was the “very bad company?” Who are you referring to? Can you produce the exact language from the Hague Conferences? I would like to read it. You would not invoke the Hague Conferences or Conventions unless you’ve seen and read them, would you?

    You are being disengenuous to compare Israel with Nazi Germany and Adolf Hilter. Nazis were aggressors. Nazis occupied land that had no historic connection to Germany; at least much of it. Israel accepted Nov. 1947 United Nations partition plan. Arabs rejected it, opting instead to exterminate the nascent Jewish state. Israel ultimately captured — between 1948 and 1967 — land that was to be part of the Jewish national homeland under the Mandate; this is why it is called disputed rather than occupied.

    Aren’t you ashamed of yourself comparing Israel to Nazi Germany John?

  108. http://www.defensibleborders.org/rosenne.htm

    It is important to stress that Resolution 242 in no way called on Israel to withdraw to the lines of June 4, 1967, before the outbreak of the Six-Day War. Arab diplomats have tried to argue nonetheless that the resolution precludes any territorial modifications since the resolution’s preamble refers to the international principle that the annexation of territory by force is illegal. True, the preamble specifically refers to “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.” Yet this principle was placed by the drafters of Resolution 242 in the preamble and not in the operative paragraphs below. There is a ruling of the International Court of Justice (from the dispute over Danzig) that preambles of League of Nations resolutions are not binding – only the operative parts of these resolutions can create legal responsibilities. This determination carried over from the era of the League of Nations to that of the United Nations.

    The Acquisition of Territory Captured in a War of Self-Defense is Different from a War of Aggression

    There is a further cardinal point regarding the question of whether the acquisition of captured territory from 1967 by Israel can be regarded as illegal. The great authority in international law, Elihu Lauterpacht, has drawn the distinction between unlawful territorial change by an aggressor and lawful territorial change in response to an aggressor. In drafting its preamble, the architects of Resolution 242 were referring to known international legal principles that precluded territorial modifications as a result of aggression. The preamble talks about “acquisition of territory by war.”

    ——————————————————————————–
    Is the acquisition of captured territory by Israel in 1967 illegal? The great authority in internationa law, Elihu Lauterpacht, has drawn the distinction between unlawful territorial change by an aggressor and lawful territorial change in response to an aggressor.
    ——————————————————————————–

    The case of a war of self-defense in response to aggression is a very different matter. This distinction was further made by Stephen Schwebel, who would later become the legal advisor of the U.S. Department of State and then serve as President of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The preamble of Resolution 242 was a compromise that took into account the other drafts that were before the Security Council, even though it did not really apply to Israel’s case. And by keeping it in the preamble and not in the operative parts of the resolution, the architects of Resolution 242 avoided creating any legal obligations for Israel that could be construed as precluding the resolution’s call for new “secure and recognized boundaries” beyond the earlier 1967 lines.

  109. “The case of a war of self-defense in response to aggression is a very different matter.”

    In the first place, Israel was the aggressor through pre-emptive air attack on Egypt. So, the case for “defensive conquest” is weak.

    In the second place, even granting that Israel was fighting a defensive war, the UN Charter Article 51 which outlines the doctrine of self-defense makes no provision for capturing territory through defensive actions outside one’s own territory. It allows defensive operations outside of one’s borders. It does not allow territorial gain through such operations. Otherwise, expansionist regimes would constantly claim aggressive attacks were pre-emptive defense.

    Israel’s claim is that the settlements are legal because the territory was captured and lawfully belongs to Israel. But the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49 says,

    “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

    The text of the Fourth Geneva Convention:
    http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/92.htm

    The 24th International Red Cross Conference (Manila, 1981) passed a resolution which in paragraph 2 “reaffirms the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention [Civilians Convention] to the occupied territories in the Middle East,” and in paragraph 5 “affirms that the settlements in the occupied territories are incompatible with articles 27 and 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

    In 2004 the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the settlements were in violation of international law (242, Fourth GC, etc.)

    “OH WELL ain’t that convenenient.”

    I would have thought that an international law protecting civilians under beliigerent occupation would be “convenient” to everyone. Israel seemed to think so when it signed the Convention in 1949. What Israel thinks is inconvenient is to honor its word when it doesn’t suit Israel.

    As I have pointed out repeatedly, the Convention was drafted in the first place because of flagrant Nazi violations of the Hague Conventions. The Nazis notoriously claimed at Nuremberg that they had the legal right to insert “Aryan settlements” into territories they had captured through force of arms. The Tribunal did not buy that argument. Are the Israelis Nazis? No. Neither are they Japanese. They are however in very bad company. The Nazi and Japanese examples at least occurred before the Fourth Geneva Conventions were written. Israel should know better and should be ashamed. And aren’t you ashamed for trying to play the Nazi card?

    For forty years Israel has been using settlements to block the Palestinian people’s right of self-determination. This is destroying Israel to the point that it has become a rotting shell of its former self:

    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1181338783/

  110. John wrote: “granting that Israel was fighting a defensive war, the UN Charter Article 51 which outlines the doctrine of self-defense makes no provision for capturing territory through defensive actions outside one’s own territory. It allows defensive operations outside of one’s borders. It does not allow territorial gain through such operations. Otherwise, expansionist regimes would constantly claim aggressive attacks were pre-emptive defense.

    Israel’s claim is that the settlements are legal because the territory was captured and lawfully belongs to Israel. But the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49 says,

    “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

    John,
    Israel did not capture territory through defensive actions outside her own territory.

    According to leagal scholars:

    “The source usually quoted in support of the charge of illegality in Israeli occupation of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is the Fourth Geneva Convention. The charge, however, is not upheld by the text of the Fourth Geneva Convention. To the contrary, the convention is simply irrelevant to the issue. It is, after all, a document containing a text, easy to read and understand, and this is what it says in Clause Two:

    “The present Convention shall apply to cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party.”

    The territory wrested from Jordan by Israel (in a war of defense) was not territory of a High Contracting Party. Transjordan, Eastern Palestine, which was renamed Jordan after its invasion of Western Palestine and its illegal occupation of the provinces of Samaria and Judea, including the Old City of Jerusalem, did not thereby become their sovereign possessor — it was not a High Contracting Party at all, but an illegal occupier as a result of its aggressive war in 1948. It had no title whatsoever to land across the River Jordan.”

  111. JPost.com

    Jun. 11, 2007 18:54 | Updated Jun. 11, 2007 18:58

    ADL launches anti-boycott campaign
    By HAVIV RETTIG

    The Anti-Defamation League has launched a new series of print and online advertisements aimed at combating the campaign among British trade unions to boycott Israel.

    “When British unions single out Israel for boycott… that’s not activism, that’s anti-Semitism,” read one of the ads printed in the New York Times.

    The goal of the campaign is to point out that, in singling out Israel, the boycott campaign is more about targeting Israel than about the rights of Palestinians.

    “If British journalists and university professors and doctors want to make a point for justice, there are 20 countries they could deal with,” explained ADL National Director Abe Foxman.

    “If they included Israel [in their critique], I’d say Israel doesn’t belong, but I wouldn’t call it anti-Semitism. But if the only country [that is subject to criticism] in the whole world is Israel, I call it anti-Semitism.”

    “You can’t assume it’s clear to everybody that this is a selective, bigoted campaign,” he added. “One needs to explain it to people.”

    Asked if he supported some calls among American Jews to launch a counter-boycott of British academic institutions, Foxman said, “we don’t believe you fight boycotts with boycotts. That legitimizes earlier boycotts and ends up hurting innocent people, which is what [the UK boycott campaign] is doing.”

  112. In 114, Steve said,

    “The territory wrested from Jordan by Israel (in a war of defense) was not territory of a High Contracting Party. Transjordan, Eastern Palestine, which was renamed Jordan…was…not a High Contracting Party at all, but an illegal occupier as a result of its aggressive war in 1948. It had no title whatsoever to land across the River Jordan.”

    Steve, I hope we don’t have to go over all the bogus Israeli arguments why the Fourth GC does not apply. I have quoted two rulings from the ICRC (the “keeper” of the GC) and the ICJ in the Hague which state authoritatively that the Fourth Geneva Convention does indeed apply to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Give it up.

    As to this particular argument you cite, it is fallacious because neither the text of the GC nor its juridical history say that the prior occupier, the displaced government, must have had legal (de jure) title to the territory. In other words, it does NOT say, “…partial or total occupation of the legal/legitimate territory of a High Contracting Party.”

    Remember that the entire purpose of the Fourth Geneva Convention is for the protection of civilians living in an area of belligerent occupation; not to protect the legal claims of the competing governments. For the purposes of extending humanitarian protection to non-combatant civilians, the Conventions simply do not care which of the governments involved is the legitimate claimant. This was also the way customary international law regarded belligerent occupation prior to the Geneva Conventions. The interpretation you quoted would deprive the civilians in the West Bank humanitarian protections post-1967 because they were victims of Jordanian aggression in 1948! So, a law written for the protection of civilians during war is interpreted so these particular civilians get screwed twice, once by Jordan and once by Israel. Again, the law is not for protecting legal claims of States but for protecting individuals.

  113. “If they included Israel [in their critique], I’d say Israel doesn’t belong, but I wouldn’t call it anti-Semitism. But if the only country [that is subject to criticism] in the whole world is Israel, I call it anti-Semitism.”

    What a joke. Who besides Foxman says a boycott has to be directed at injustice world-wide instead of targeting a particular oppressor? Who besides Foxman says that targeting Israel is anti-Semitic? Gush Shalom is promoting a boycott of products of settlements. Is a settlement-targeted boycott even more anti-Semitic? This is simply ridiculous and insulting. By constantly crying “wolf” AF is draining all the meaning out of the term anti-Semitic.

    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/campaigns/boycott_settlements_products/

  114. John,
    You want me to rely on the impartiality of the International Committee of the Red Cross? My sources tell me that the Red Cross was used as a vehicle for Nazi intelligence during the second world war and a vehicle to hand out Red Cross passports to fugitive Nazis afterward. U.S. intelligence later found that the fugitive Nazis systematically used Red Cross mail couriers to evade Allied censorship and surveillance after the war. And you want me to trust in the integrity of this Nazi ally.

  115. You wrote: “Remember that the entire purpose of the Fourth Geneva Convention is for the protection of civilians living in an area of belligerent occupation; not to protect the legal claims of the competing governments.”

    The point is, there were no competing governments.

    “The present Convention shall apply to cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party.”

    Who was / is the High Contracting Party in the West Bank?

  116. “The point is, there were no competing governments…Who was / is the High Contracting Party in the West Bank?”

    Israel and Jordan were both High Contracting Parties.

  117. “And you want me to trust in the integrity of this Nazi ally.”

    The ICRC is the Protecting Power of the Geneva Conventions, recognized as such by all the signatories to the Conventions, including Israel. Yes, I expect Israel to comply with international law. After forty years of flaunting it, my hopes that Israel will honor its word at this point are not high.

  118. corr #121

    “After forty years of flouting it, my hopes that Israel will honor its word at this point are not high.”

  119. You wrote: “Israel and Jordan were both High Contracting Parties.”

    Jordan’s occupation of the West Bank was not even recognized by the international community. I believe England and Pakistan were the only nations that recognized the illegal siezure.

    Beyond that, according to Wikipedia, the 1949 armistice agreements were intended to serve only as interim agreements, until they would be replaced by permanent peace treaties. However, no peace treaties were actually signed until decades later.

    Excepting the agreement with Lebanon, the armistice agreements were clear (at Arab insistence) that they were not creating permanent or de jure borders. The Egyptian-Israeli agreement stated “The Armistice Demarcation Line is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary, and is delineated without prejudice to rights, claims and positions of either Party to the Armistice as regards ultimate settlement of the Palestine question.” [2]

    The Jordanian-Israeli agreement stated: “… no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims, and positions of either Party hereto in the peaceful settlement of the Palestine questions, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations” (Art. II.2), “The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.” (Art. VI.9)

  120. John, what say you?

    “The Magen David Adom (MDA), the Red Star of David, was born 52 years ago. It is the Red Cross, except with a Jewish symbol. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to alleviate human suffering. It serves, without discrimination, the entire Israeli population, including 1.1-million Israeli Arabs, and Palestinian Arabs in need.

    MDA is not a government agency. It sought membership in the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) with the Red Star of David as its emblem. The Star of David is the symbol of the Jewish people as well as of Israel. Surrender of its emblem should not be a condition of membership. But its application for membership of the IFRC was rejected at the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which required all new national aid societies to adopt the Red Cross symbol. And yet since that time some 25 Red Crescent Societies representing the Muslim world have been admitted to the IFRC which is now called the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Services.

    Every effort Israel has made to obtain recognition of MDA’s emblem has failed due to tremendous world anti-Israel sentiment. MDA’s exclusion and the non-recognition of its symbol are blatant examples of the ongoing campaign to delegitimize the Jewish State. The IFRC’s treatment of MDA as a pariah is shameful…..

  121. Jordan’s occupation of the West Bank was not even recognized by the international community.

    This bogus argument was dealt with in #116. The Conventions do not care about the legitimacy of the occupation or the claims of the Contracting High Parties. The Conventions are for humanitarian protection of individuals, and that is what they are concerned with. Whether Jordan’s occupation was legitimate or illegitimate does not matter insofar as the Fourth Geneva Conventions are concerned. Got it?

    Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem is not recognized by the international community either.

  122. I had never heard of the MDA. Sounds like somebody has a chip on their shoulder.

    However, the Fourth Geneva Convention which Israel signed states that

    “recognized Red Cross (Red Crescent, Red Lion and Sun) Societies shall be able to pursue their activities in accordance with Red Cross principle, as defined by the International Red Cross Conferences. Other relief societies shall be permitted to continue their humanitarian activities under similar conditions; (b) the Occupying Power may not require any changes in the personnel or structure of these societies, which would prejudice the aforesaid activities.

    The same principles shall apply to the activities and personnel of special organizations of a non-military character, which already exist or which may be established, for the purposes of ensuring the living conditions of the civilian population by the maintenance of essential public utility services, by the distribution of relief and by the organization of rescues.”

    Article 63

    Sounds fair to me.

  123. “The Conventions do not care about the legitimacy of the occupation or the claims of the Contracting High Parties. ”

    sure, but where are your complaints about the way lebanon treats its palestinian refugees? or the way the palestinians treat each other? or the time that jordan was the occupier? you don’t seem to care about any of that. only israel. that’s antisemitic.

  124. John, I believe I have found a rather egregious error in Mr. Carter’s book. This is a crucial point he is trying to make here about permanent borders.

    I believe it is in the third chapter (?) he is talking about the November 1947 UN Partition plan which Israel, the Jewish Agency, etc. accepted and the Arabs rejected, opting instead for war which Israel won. Carter wrote:

    “The 1949 Armistice demarcation lines became the borders of the news state of Israel and were accepted by Israel and the United States and recognized by the United Nations.”

    Howard M. Sachar, A History of Israel: From Zionism to Our Time” wrote: “It was assumed, nevertheless, that the frontiers were tentative and that they would be adjusted and altered in subsequent peace negotiations. (page350)

    A more detailed analysis can be found on Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1949_Armistice_Agreements#Cease-fire_line_vs._permanent_border

    “The armistice agreements were intended to serve only as interim agreements, until they would be replaced by permanent peace treaties. However, no peace treaties were actually signed until decades later.

    “Excepting the agreement with Lebanon, the armistice agreements were clear (at Arab insistence) that they were not creating permanent or de jure borders. The Egyptian-Israeli agreement stated “The Armistice Demarcation Line is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary, and is delineated without prejudice to rights, claims and positions of either Party to the Armistice as regards ultimate settlement of the Palestine question.” [2]

    The Jordanian-Israeli agreement stated: “… no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims, and positions of either Party hereto in the peaceful settlement of the Palestine questions, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations” (Art. II.2), “The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.”

    John, this appears to be a blatant falsification on Mr. Carter’s part.

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