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« A resilient canard | Main | "Placed on the defensive by its own recklessness..." »

June 25, 2004

Comments

lee

I thought the causes of this death were very much disputed. Shame on you for making money out of a calumny on a young woman's death.

janus

Sorry Lee, who is the 'you' in your remark?

alex

"The ISM does not operate against the terrorist enemies of a two-state outcome."

Surely it does, in so far as the bulldozers it blocks are not a necessary feature of Israeli self-defence but a mechanism of Israeli expansionism, directed without regard to any civillian cost.

MeTooThen

Alex,

What part of uncovering tunnels used for smuggling weapons and drugs is part of "Israeli expansionism"?

And how is it that you have come to the conclusion or knowledge that the disruption of the flow of weapons to para-military and terrorist groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, etc. is "not necessary"?

Similarly, how is that the calculus of "civilian cost" is left to the IDF alone. Certainly the perfidy of the terrorists and those that knowingly hide their tunnels and other murderous activities within civilian homes, schools, ambulances, children's school bags, must be taken into account. If not, why not?

Mr. Kamm's points are very well taken indeed. If ISM was indeed honest in its need to protect and promote peace, why are they not riding the buses in Jerusalem, manning the borders into Israel-proper, identifying and exposing the suicide bombers?

greeneyeshade

btw, as for 'resistance to occupation,' the ism considers all of israel, not just the w. bank and gaza, 'occupied territory.'

Gobineau

OK, so you've steamed in and Stephen Pollard has got his plug on line. Now all it needs to complete the Gleichschaltung hat trick is Melanie Phillips, whose entry will doubtless begin: "In another almost incredible outbreak of the oldest hatred, the morally deaf, dumb and blind appeaseniks at Channel 4 screened a piece of filth..."

ETA for David Aaronovitch to add his two shekels' worth: 12.00pm.

ETA for any of you to say anything nasty about democratic humanitarian Gen. Ariel Sharon: who knows?

Eamonn

The ISM is exclusively critical of Israel in all matters relating to the Middle East.

This alone convinces me that the ISM is not really seeking a just peace.

Rather, the ISM a front organisation for a radically pro-Palestinian group that regards Palestinian terrorism as an understandable retaliation.

Ross

To summarise Gobineau's counter argument against Mr Kamm: "JEW!!!"

I hope I have saved everyone the trouble of actually reading his comment.

Feel free to delete this comment when you get round to removing Gobineau's post.

alex

MeTooThen,

The most recent Amnesty report found that military justification for house demolition was weak in most cases.

http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde150402004

I have no problem with the Israeli army looking for wepons smuggling tunnels but, sadly, Amnesty have concluded that the majority of demolitions take place as collective punishment to the famillies of suicide bombers or to protect settlements. Furthermore, in East Jerusalem, Palestinian houses are demolished for lack of "building permits" - a situation that never arrises in regards to Jewish homes.

As for the ISM "manning buses" - its a good suggestion and one I doubt they would take up. I still think that defending Palestinian houses in most circustances is valid.

Holly

"The most recent Amnesty report found that military justification for house demolition was weak in most cases."

If Israel had had to rely on the advice of Amnesty for its survival, it would have ceased to have exist long ago.

The reality is that Amnesty is a virulently anti-Israeli organisation that long ago gave up any pretense at objectivity as far as the Jewish State is concerned.

What is now obvious is that the war which the Palestinians and their allies and financial backers in Europe have been fighting against Israel is as good as over, and Israel has won.

One wonders what the Europeans will do to pass their time without the Israelis to beat up every day in their newspapers and on their television networks.

Holly

"ETA for David Aaronovitch to add his two shekels' worth"

Another critic of Israel who will claim, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary, that he is not in the least tiny bit anti-Semitic.

Dan Hardie

The guy who posts as 'Gobineau' is the same character who posted an earlier slur, on a different thread, as 'Jabotinsky', a pseudonym taken from the name of the Zionist ideologue Ze'ev Jabotinsky. I -ironically, ha ha- advised him to either have the guts to post under his own name or post as 'Gobineau'- taking the name of the man who originated modern anti-Semitism, Count Arthur Joseph de Gobineau. No doubt if I'd told him to call himself 'Heydrich' he'd have done that, too.

I advise 'Gobineau/Jabotinsky' to just post as 'Jew-hating loser'. I'd also like to hear from the fool who defended Gobineau/Jabotinsky's earlier effusions on the cretinous grounds that they contained 'absolutely no reference to Jewishness' and 'Jabotinsky's name isn't part of the post'.

Btw, Oliver, I think you're badly wrong about Israel, although right about ISM. But such things should be discussed in good faith, between people not motivated by racial hatred.

doons

"People join terrorist organizations because there's no hope and there's no chance to raise their families in a peaceful world where there is not freedom ..."

-George W. Bush on RTE (Irish TV)

who woulda thunk it?

Combustible Boy
Furthermore, in East Jerusalem, Palestinian houses are demolished for lack of "building permits" - a situation that never arrises in regards to Jewish homes.

Er, um, yes it does.

Andrew Ian Dodge

Rachel Corrie is not a hero but a candidate for the darwin award.

GrimReaper

"I want you to go to the Gaza Strip to express solidarity with the peace-loving Palestinians.
Try not to see any weapon smuggling or bomb making.
And don't come back. At this stage of the conflict, we need the pointless death of a neutral civilian. It will raise the whole tone of the war."
With apologies to Cook and Moore.

RabbiKahane

Ross: "To summarise Gobineau's counter argument against Mr Kamm: "JEW!!!""

Nope, "ZIONIST!!!"

http://www.nkusa.org/AboutUs/Zionism/index.cfm

Janus

Mr Kamm,

I doubt that anyone will think you anti-democratic if you delete the offensive anti-Jewish sneers above. Their obvious intention is to cause offence rather than to solicit rational argument.

Chris Lightfoot

'The programme’s narrator intoned darkly that Israel “denies her death was deliberate”. Yet Miss Corrie sat down in the path of a vehicle whose cab was several feet off the ground and whose driver had limited visibility. The chances of a tragic outcome were high.'

On a slight tangent, the IDF is replacing its existing bulldozers with remote-controlled ones (not, as the headline to that piece states, "robots"), to keep their drivers out of danger (the things are armoured, but presumably more vulnerable to hostile fire than a tank or APC). For people living where the bulldozers operate -- a few of whom are terrorists and most of whom are civilians -- this can only increase the chances of what Oliver (correctly) describes as a tragic outcome. This precaution by the IDF seems likely to trade additional safety for its personnel to greater danger for those Palestinian civilians who are bystanders to its activities: a morally dubious and politically poor decision.

alex

Holly,

Show what parts of the Amnesty report are factually incorrect, rather than imputing motives to your attackers.

Combustible boy,

Non of your links relate to East Jerusalem.

Why can we not admit to the backwardness of certain elements claiming to represent Israel rather than suscribe to the futile mantra of defending everything Israel does, whether it be in the interests of "Greater Israel" or legitmate self-defence?

alex

I have to question the use of the word "tragic". "Tragic" - in the Greek sense, implies someone being pulled in two directions, each of which demands righteousness in terms of the only conceivable parameters laid down to a particular agent. The agent chooses the most moral path availible, yet, feels regret that it has been pushed to this outcome. E.g. Antigone.

I don't see how this maps on to much of the Israeli use of force in the occupied territories - given that the lines are so distorted between capturing land occupied by Palestinian Arabs and defending Israel's legitimate boundries.

The situation is not "tragic". It is obviously wrong if an army kills innocent people whilst defending an exercise in colonisation - destroying the feasibility of Palestinian contiguity. It is obviously wrong to indisriminately kill peoples on public transport to drive most of the population into the Red Sea.

Neither course is strictly necessary.

hello

alex, No it is nOT strictly necessary to practice terror on the Palestinian and Israeli populations. And if there is a fault with Mr Kamm's article it's that he neglects to mention the fact that by providing a kind of moral legitimacy to the terrorists who run and kill and maim Palestinians hourly in the Territories (murders that somehow never make it on the news) they make sure that yet more innocent Palestinia lives will be lost.

I have no idea how many Palestinian women and children Rachel Corrie helped kill (albeit inadvertently) but she helped kill them.

By giving legitimacy to the mass murderers who hang Palestinians on poles without their bits DAILY.

Regards,

maor

"This precaution by the IDF seems likely to trade additional safety for its personnel to greater danger for those Palestinian civilians who are bystanders to its activities: a morally dubious and politically poor decision."

Er, what Palestinian civilians stand in front of a moving, unmanned bulldozer?
Do you think it's immoral for an army to care more for its own soldiers' lives than those of people trying to stop it?

alex,
Punishing the families of terrorists may be wrong but it isn't expansionism, so let's drop that little bit of hyperbole, OK?

Chris Lightfoot

"Er, what Palestinian civilians stand in front of a moving, unmanned bulldozer?"




Fair point. After all, people never stand in front of moving traffic, which is why none are ever killed crossing the road.




"Do you think it's immoral for an army to care more for its own soldiers' lives than those of people trying to stop it?"




If it's an occupying power, it has a responsibility to the civilian people of the territory it is occupying. It must protect them from harm where possible and certainly not endanger them recklessly. For instance, such an army ought to protect occupied peoples from crime, even if doing so is dangerous (as it often can be, especially in the aftermath of war). In a wider sense, the soldiers of an army are expected to take risks to do their duty, in a way which civilians aren't.

(You talked about the "people trying to stop [the army]". I didn't, and they're not relevant to this particular point, which concerns the safety of Palestinian civilians. I can't imagine why you brought them up.)

alex

Maor,
Punishing the families of terrorists may be wrong but it isn't expansionism, so let's drop that little bit of hyperbole, OK?

I hadn't claimed it as such. I had claimed that one reason for house demolitions is the expansion and protection of settlements. This surely is related to the expansionist "Greater Israel" project.

Barry Meislin

Umm let's see now. After Israel's "victory" in June 1967 (some would say "successful avoidance of destruction"; others would say "criminal war of Zionist expansionist aggression"), there were offers by Israel to return the captured territory (with certain modifications) in exchange for peace with its Arab neighbours.

In spite of the fact that such efforts by Israel to return captured territory might be viewed by some (or many) as obvious proof of that country's expansionist Greater Israel policy, the offer did manage to get as far as Khartoum, later in 1967.

(But who remembers Khartoum?)

(For that matter, who remembers the Palestinian state that could have been in 1948, but wan't? And why it wasn't. Certainly, it's far easier to view that particular episode as merely another in the vast array of Zionist expansionist--- colonialist too? why not?---power grabs.)

Meanwhile, the well-publicized efforts of Israel's Arab neighbours to make peace with the Zionist entity were matched only by their zeal to eradicate illiteracy and disease, provide their citizens with higher education and push for equality for their women....

In fact Egypt did eventually deign---many would claim to its utter shame---to sign a peace treaty with Israel after being maliciously attacked by Israel, or so it claimed, in October 1973; and it received, about nine years later, all of the Sinai peninsula, captured by Israel, in return for its embracing of peace.

Syria too might have received the Golan in return for a peace treaty it ultimately decided it had too much dignity to sign. Besides, for the Syrian economy and sense of self, Lebanon---having always been regarded by Syria as one of its integral parts (together with Cis-and Trans-Jordan)---was a much more valuable commodity than the Golan Heights could ever be; moreover, pragmatically speaking, why should a proud sovereign state be coerced into signing a peace treaty to regain a piece of real estate that is rightfully hers in any event and which she is absolutely certain she will ultimately regain?

Which leads us to Israel's efforts, with American prodding, to come to an accommodation with the Palestinians, congruent with the Egyptian peace treaty in the late 70s/early 80s. Granted, such efforts, alas, were intended to leave Israel on the map and so were not consonant with the PLO's declared aim of Israel's destruction.

(Nonetheless, it is not fruitful to recall or even mention the PLO's former declared aim of Israel's destruction, since that is all in the past, even if some devious individuals insist on bringing up the canard. Certainly, if the PLO were still wanting to destroy Israel, it would have killed, or tried to kill, far more than the 1000 Israelis it has already killed in these past 3.7 years, would have caused far more destruction, and would have done far more to discredit the Jewish state than it has to date. And it would insist on repatriating all Palestinian refugees to their former homes within Israel.)

Which brings one (with certain omissions) to Oslo,
and then to Camp David 2, and then to Taba, where, Israel's imperialistic, colonialist, expansionist aims---at the expense of the beleaguered Palestinians---stand out with particularly stark prominence. That is, if any more proof were needed.

(Though most have likely forgotten about Camp David 2, and Taba as well. No matter, really. Just one more episode airbrushed from history. Happens all the time; since it is absolutely essential that people be able to hold on to their preconceptions at all costs. Even though there is a tendency for people to get hurt when this is the case.)

maor

"If it's an occupying power, it has a responsibility to the civilian people of the territory it is occupying. It must protect them from harm where possible and certainly not endanger them recklessly. For instance, such an army ought to protect occupied peoples from crime, even if doing so is dangerous (as it often can be, especially in the aftermath of war). In a wider sense, the soldiers of an army are expected to take risks to do their duty, in a way which civilians aren't.

(You talked about the "people trying to stop [the army]". I didn't, and they're not relevant to this particular point, which concerns the safety of Palestinian civilians. I can't imagine why you brought them up.)"

Chris,
I'm sorry I wasn't clearer.
I am assuming nobody ever stands (or in Corrie's case, lies down) in front of a slow, moving bulldozer, unless they are trying to force the bulldozer to stop.
BTW, The IDF does not occupy Palestinian cities. It enters them briefly to carry out military operations (thus it has no responsibility for crime prevention).
The chance that a passerby will be accidently run over is minuscule (unless of course the "passerby" is deliberately lying down in front of a bulldozer). The IDF is not "recklessly" endangering people who lie down in front of bulldozers. The protesters are endangering themselves. Regarding your traffic analogy, cars are designed in a way that makes it very hard to see if someone is lying down in front or in back of it. Yet no one complains that this is too dangerous.

alex,
Terrorism prevention methods are expansionist because the terrorists, who kill all Israelis, also kill settlers? Or do you feel that only settlements suffer if weapons are smuggled into Gaza? If so, keep up with the news.

alex

Maor,

Let me make myself clearer. There are a number of reasons that Amnesty identified for house demolitions. (1) Military (i.e. locating wepons smuggling tunnels) (2) Making space for/protecting settlements (3) Collective punishment for suicide bombers (4) Lack of building permits.

Only (1)can be seen as legitimate, in my view. (3) is clearly in violation of the Geneva Convention. Both (2) and (4) can be seen as connected to the "Greater Israel" project.

Barry Meislin,

What function do settlements have exept for the purposes of colonisation? Surely this, at least somewhat, undermines your narrative of Israeli compromise in the face of Palestinian intransigence.
Furthermore, even under Camp David, settlers were to decide themselves whether to evacuate. In the absence of any coherant plan to rehouse them it is conceiveable that their monopoly of water, arable land and roads could last indefinitely.

Barry Meislin

What isn't too well understood here (though understandably so) is that all of Israel is a colony, and all of Palestine is, as a consequence, colonised.

So that Israel cannot, in fact, compromise in good faith (unless one holds---and I suspect that this has been successfully done---that good faith means committing suicide). Thus Israel is, in actuality, always the intransigent party.

That Israel is always the intransigent party is something that, after over 50 years of conflict, most Arabs and Europeans have come to understand, along with many Canadians, not a few Americans, and even a fair number of Israelis. To be sure, Israel's government and the majority of its Jewish population, along with the American administration, which by most popular accounts, can be counted on to blindly support Israel, haven't quite caught on, alas.

(On second thought, actually, maybe they have!)

As for your second point, it would be most interesting that settlers could decide for themselves whether to abrogate an agreement reached by their elected government. Such a contention might even be true (though one might point out that Camp David 2 was superceded, at least in theory, by the Taba talks---even if what happened to those talks is well known).

Still, I would be more persuaded if references could be provided (not that references are absolutely necessary, mind you. Certainly, hearsay has proven again and again more than sufficient regarding this particular theatre of affairs.)

alex

Barry,
"So that Israel cannot, in fact, compromise in good faith (unless one holds---and I suspect that this has been successfully done---that good faith means committing suicide)."

I think you fail to distinguish between those whom simply expect Israel to do whatever it can not to unduly prejudice the possibility of a peaceful and pragmatic two-state solution and those for whom Israel's transgressions of the Geneva convention are merely more fuel to the fire of their underlying failure to accept Israel's right to exist per se. I don't think you should tar us all with the same brush.

I have no time for those in the latter camp yet am equally annoyed by those (eg Melanie Phillips)whom cannot accept that there is a systematic and ideologicaly rooted Israeli atttempt to unnecessarily damage any prospects for a future peaceful settlement - E.g through colonising what is internationally expected to be a contiguous Palestinian state.

On the second point, I have no links but I have the following quote from Aluf Benn of Ha'aretz, quoting senior Israeli sources.

"No one dealt with a plan for physical evacuation and no one will take a chance on dealing with it. We dealt only with the blocks that will be annexed to Israel" (15.01.2001)

Ohad

> have no time for those in the latter camp yet am equally annoyed by
>those (eg Melanie Phillips)whom cannot accept that there is a
>systematic and ideologicaly rooted Israeli atttempt to unnecessarily
>damage any prospects for a future peaceful settlement - E.g through
>colonising what is internationally expected to be a contiguous
>Palestinian state.

There's very little in this country that can be called systematic. Retaining Yesha was a national priority pre-Oslo. These days things are different but much more haphazard. Netanyahu built Har Homa because otherwise it would soon be impossible to draw a border between eastern Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The largest settlements are suburbs close to the Green Line and don't seem to really hurt anyone. Rabin did a lot to offend "settlers", but since the "peace process" has been stalled for a long time (due to more fundamental reasons) it's not worth the political price etc. etc.

>On the second point, I have no links but I have the following quote
>from Aluf Benn of Ha'aretz, quoting senior Israeli sources.
>"No one dealt with a plan for physical evacuation and no one will take
>a chance on dealing with it. We dealt only with the blocks that will be
>annexed to Israel" (15.01.2001)

Er, is that supposed to prove that the settlement residents wouldn't have been evacuated?

alex

Ohad,

Not sure about the scare quotes for "settlers". Do you dispute that, in terms of the Geneva Convention (Security Council Resolution 681 calls for the "high contracting parties to the Geneva Convention to ensure respect by Israel for its obligations under the convention") settlement activity is wrong (Art. 49). If you do, what are the parameters within which the convention can be disobeyed?

On the settlements near the green line "don't seem to really hurt anyone" issue - there are about 120,000 Palestinians whom live in the settled area Israel wanted to annex in terms of the Camp David agreement.

In my experience talking to Palestinians it is not the "Zionist infidel" that is most prevalent on peoples minds but the fact that it is a pain in the arse traveling from one district to the other or the fact that a reliable supply of water is hard to come by.

On the second point...there was no evidence that far flung settlements WOULD be evacuated in any systematic and coherent manner. This is surely essential to any peace agreement.

alex

Sorry - the last sentence of paragraph 1 doesn't make any sense. Substitute the last sentence with...what parameters would be important in preserving Israel's integrity whilst not being accused of "land-grabing"?

Ohad

> Not sure about the scare quotes for "settlers".

I prefer to call them "people who live in the settlements" -they are people, first of all. Calling them "settlers" is often part of demonizing them and excusing the people who attack them.

>Do you dispute that, in terms of the Geneva Convention (Security
>Council Resolution 681 calls for the "high contracting parties to the
>Geneva Convention to ensure respect by Israel for its obligations
>under the convention") settlement activity is wrong (Art. 49).

Don't know about SCR 681. What's clear though is that the 1949 armistice lines were never an internationally recognized border. When Egypt and Jordan ruled the West Bank and Gaza, they were "occupied" but noone cared. Sane people do not have a problem with Jews living in the historic Jewish quarter of Jerusalem - despite the fact that Jordan occupied it from 1948-67 (the only time in centuries or longer that Jews had no access to the Western Wall).

Whether and when the settlements were wise or moral is a totally different issue.

> If you
>do, what are the parameters within which the convention can be >disobeyed?

>On the settlements near the green line "don't seem to really hurt
>anyone" issue - there are about 120,000 Palestinians whom live in the
>settled area Israel wanted to annex in terms of the Camp David
>agreement.

I think you missed that this was a response to your "systematic and ideologically rooted" remark.

But anyway: I don't know about the 120,000 number - but it doesn't sound high. If it includes Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem then it's low. Europeans seem to have no concept of how this area is small and crowded.

>In my experience talking to Palestinians it is
>not the "Zionist infidel" that is most prevalent
>on peoples minds but the fact that it is a pain
>in the arse traveling from one district to the
>other

I don't see what this has to do with our discussion. But anyway: it was easy for everyone to travel around until Arafat unleashed his terrorist buddies. The security fence was considered politically problematic for years due to exactly the problem you mention, though of course there's now wide agreement that it's a good thing.

>or the fact that a reliable supply of water
>is hard to come by.

Can't comment. But again: we were talking about whether there's a systematic and ideolgically rooted attempt to damage prospects for a future settlement.

>On the second point...there was no evidence that far flung settlements
>WOULD be evacuated in any systematic and coherent manner. This is
>surely essential to any peace agreement.

During the Camp David proceedings, the Israeli media assumed that they would be evacuated (just like Yamit; just like Gaza now). Your quote has no bearing on the issue, since it's possible to plan for evacuating and not agree to it, just as it's possible to agree to it without having a plan for it. This is an issue that should be easy to clarify one way or the other, though I don't have a source at hand.

Barry Meislin

Since Oslo was signed in 1993, Israel's governments have decided it is good policy for Israel to advocate a Palestinian state.

Alas, the Palestinian state Israel would like to see exist is one that does not threaten Israel's own existence---or at the very least one that does not verbally threaten Israel's existence.

Leaving aside Israel's right, or lack thereof, to insist that such a new state not be a threat to it (some might see such an insistence as the ultimate in chutzpah); that such a state has not yet "come into existence" should surprise no one. The reason why this is so has been partially explained earlier on--- though, admittedly, there is no real chance why such an explanation should actually convince anyone not already thinking along those lines.

Simply stated, Israel cannot oblige the demands and expectations of the Palestinian leadership.

Should Israel even try to oblige some of those demands (let us here play devil's advocate), the goalposts will be moved. And this can be expected because there is no intention on the part of the Palestinian leadership, despite profound protestations to the contrary, that it wishes to have a Palestinian state.

That is, as long as such a state would have to acquiesce to Israel's existence as part of the bargain.

To belabour the point, should Israel agree to remove all settlements and return to the '67 borders, but insist on its rights in Jerusalem, Jerusalem will remain the sticking point. And should Israel agree to the Jerusalem issue, then the repatriation of the refugees to within Israel will remain unresolvable. Violence must therefore break out. There is no end. And given the goals of the Palestinian leadership, there can be no end, not at least, unless Israel comes to an end.

Why, indeed, at this stage, should the Palestinian leadership wish a Palestinian state be created? Such a state would have to recognise, either explicitly or implicitly, either de jure or de facto, Israel's existence; at least, in theory. Such a state would also, in theory, bear responsibility for the terror that is currently being waged by the Palestinian Authority in conjunction with Hamas and Islamic Jihad---or assuming one does not wish to believe that the PA is working in conjunction with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the PA, would at the very least, be responsible for making the effort to restrain the murderous efforts of those groups, including its own Al Aksa Brigades (though seriously, can freedom fighters really be categorised as "murderous"?). Such a state would be responsible for the welfare of its citizens and would have to at least go through the motions of solving the problem of Palestinian misery. But why ought it be expected Palestinian suffering be eradicated when such suffering, such as it is reported, has been such an extraordinarily effective weapon of propaganda in the Palestinian arsenal?---or if the ultimate goal is to return Palestinian refugees to their homes in Israel?

Indeed, why should the Palestinian leadership decide to accept a Palestinian state when Israelis can be killed with almost international justification and with impunity (since all Israeli deaths are, at the end of the day, the fault of Israel's intransigence), when it can do its utmost to destroy the Israeli economy together with the morale of its people ("you know, if only Israel would..."), demolish Israel's international status ("one would like so much to save Israel from itself, but Israel must finally learn that..."), and upgrade the status of Palestinian terrorists and suicide bombers to freedom fighters who, while we might not agree with their actions, we can certainly understand them. And justify them. And condone them.

Moreover, why should the Palestinian leadership to anything to alleviate the world-wide epidemic of vilifying Jews---and blaming Americans---for, among other thing, supporting Israel (after all, if they are Jews, they must support the Jewish state)?

Noting that Arafat has accomplished all this in less than four years!

(Imagine what another three years, or five years, ten years, or 50 years will accomplish!)

It is a genuine achievement. For one may currently believe, fervently, with the most elevated sense of morality, heightened sense of ethics, even with Israel's best interests in mind, that this so-far intractable conflict is one of settlements, water rights, colonization, arrogance, lack of respect. And that it is Israel's intransigence on each and every one of these issues that is the cause of the conflict---the cause of the death and destruction, of the killing and the suffering. Especially when the mainstream media has been shamelessly skewing the reportage from this area---claims to the contrary from Glasgow or former BBC reporters, notwithstanding---so that no one who reads that media can really have any idea of what is truly going on here; either here or in the middle-east, generally. (E.g., one may bemoan the fact that there are still check posts causing untold misery to millions of Palestinians, starvation, listlessness, boredom, despair, you name it; which would seem to any normal human being as outrageous as it is repugnant, given the fact that there haven't been that many, if any successful attacks or suicide bombers since the beginning of the year. But what is hardly if ever reported is that while there have been "only" about 10 successful attacks since January, there have been about 65 foiled attacks. This in six months. Ditto, the lack of background for last month's incursion into Gaza. Understandably, providing this kind of background would be counterproductive if the view that it is Israel that bears the blame for the predicament, is out of control, is engaged in disproportionate use of force, is merely playing tit-for-tat. Is violating the Geneva Convention and countless UN resolutions.)

Or if the fair-minded might even concede that Israel is not alone at fault but that some fault must, to be fair, accrue to the Palestinians ("a pox on both their houses"), is this not, similarly, a creditable achievement?

It might strike one as curious that the more Israel wants to create a Palestinian State---or the more US policy indicates that certain conditions must exist before it can support the creation of such a state---the more Palestinians reject the state and the conditions for its creation; however, it is only curious if the goals of the Palestinians are ignored, unreported or misrepresented.

Or willfully misconstrued.

The main beliefs upon which Oslo was based was that Israel would be able to offer Arafat a deal he could accept, and that Arafat would demand a final deal that Israel would be able to live with. These beliefs were, in turn, based on the beliefs that Arafat and his organization had finally concluded that Israel could not be annihilated, that Arafat had finally agreed to the fact of Israel's existence.

However, these beliefs have been transformed, in the eyes of most Israelis, to myths following the rejection of Barak's offer, an offer that was more "generous" than many Israelis thought would, could, be made. And because of the grisly aftermath. (Though honestly, one might ask, how could any offer to return land that never belonged to Israel in the first place be referred to as "generous"? Or even as an "offer"?)

And these beliefs have revealed themselves as myths not so much because of Arafat's utter rejection, bad enough as it was from Barak's point of view (and political career) but because of the manner of this rejection.

They have become myths because after over three-and-a-half years of unending terror warfare, the murderous nature, culture of death and destruction, and lying pathologies of Israel's partners in peace have been exposed.

In fact, the past several years clearly indicate that there is nothing that Israel can offer that Arafat can accept; and there is no final deal that Arafat will demand that Israel can acquiesce to.

And the perception is that it must be Israel's fault.

For anyone who has bothered to notice.


Janus

On the subject of Rachel Corrie, I must say that it does indeed seem as if her death resulted from a deliberate act. Whether the driver of the bulldozer intented her death or was simply wilfully negligent is perhaps open to debate.

I offer you the following account of the incident:

'In Rafah, Gaza Strip today Rachel Corrie, a 23-year old American woman from Olympia, Washington, who was a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement, was killed by the Israeli Army. Rachel was standing in the path of the bulldozer as it advanced towards her. When the bulldozer refused to stop or turn aside she climbed up onto the mound of dirt and rubble being gathered in front of it wearing a fluorescent jacket to look directly at the driver who kept on advancing. The bulldozer continued to advance so that she was pulled under the pile of dirt and rubble. After she had disappeared from view the driver kept advancing until the bulldozer was completely on top of her. The driver did not lift the bulldozer blade and so she was crushed beneath it. Then the driver backed up - effectively running over her again. The seven other ISM activists taking part in the action rushed to dig out her body. An ambulance rushed her to Al-Najar Hospital where she died.

'http://www.veteransforpeace.org/Statement_Rachel_Corrie_031703.

Barry Meislin

Well they got two back, a 49-year old man and a toddler in Sderot, even though Rachel Corrie is no longer around, unfortunately, to defend the smuggling tunnels.

And lots of wounded.

In her memory, may it be blessed? Why not?

Whatever, a reason for celebration....

Janus

Barry,

Do you think you could dispense with the archness and irony and just, well, say what you think?

alex

Ohad,

One last go (hopefully) as I don't think there is an enormous distance between out positions.

On the 120,000 figure, it come from Danni Rubenstein in Ha'aretz (28.01.2000) on the basis of West Bank settlements to be annexed under Barak's peace plan.

On the scare quotes around "settlers", I think we have to call a spade a spade and not legally categorise them in the same sense as we should Israeli civillians. However, I support the Amnesty position that attacks on settlers are not legally or morally equivalent to those on uniformed soldiers and are illegitimate.

Furthermore, my problem is not with Jews living in historically Jewish areas of East Jerusalem nor in any other part of the territories but with armed settlements served by exclusive roads, with exclusive access to natural resorces.

On the question of free travel - I am understanding of Israeli attempts to set up checkpoints whereby they can be demonstrated to defend Israeli civilians from mass murder and not when they merely defend priveleged road access for settlers at the expense of the local population. It is not ALL Arafat's fault and not ALL checkpoints are necessary in defending Israel propper.

On the substantive point about the "systematic and ideologically rooted" attempt to colonise the West Bank...In spite of the ambiguity of the 1948 armistice lines, there is now international agreement (as put forth in SCR 681) as to the applicability of the Geneva conventions to the territories. Israel has systematically, under both Labour and Likud goverments, contavened such provisions in terms of population transfer. No govenment has substantively held up against the ideological position of extreme right.


Ohad

>On the 120,000 figure, it come from Danni Rubenstein in Ha'aretz (28.
>01.2000) on the basis of West Bank settlements to be annexed under
>Barak's peace plan.

As I said, that's not a large number of people in view of the fact that the 1949 armistice lines lack any logic whatsoever. More importantly, it's not why Camp David failed.

>On the scare quotes around "settlers", I think we have to call a spade
>a spade and not legally categorise them in the same sense as we should
>Israeli civillians.

My point is that the term "settlers" is used to dehumanize them. Leftists say that calling terrorists "terrorists" dehumanizes the Palestinians as a whole - so what I'm saying makes obvious sense.


>However, I support the Amnesty position that attacks on settlers are
>not legally or morally equivalent to those on uniformed soldiers and
>are illegitimate.

I hope that you don't need Amnesty to tell you something like that. Often, "settlements" are located in places where you can't even tell that they are over the green line. But if someone gets shot, the media calls him a "settler".

>Furthermore, my problem is not with Jews living in historically Jewish
>areas of East Jerusalem nor in any other part of the territories but
>with armed settlements

What's an "armed settlement"?!? Do sophisticated Europeans have some kind of visceral urge to pooh-pooh people who have the need for self-defense?

> served by exclusive roads,

In the Oslo era, the "exclusive roads" were called bypass roads, and were thought of as a pro-peace measure. They became "exclusive" only after the drive-by shootings started. Back in the 80s, the buses to some settlements would go through Ramallah, or pass the Dehaishe "refugee" (yes scare quotes) camp.

> with exclusive access to natural resorces.

Not true, as a general rule. There are some examples, but it's not nearly as horrible as these reports make it sound. Israel continues to supply a lot of infrastructure services to the West Bank and Gaza and did so even at the height of the Arafat-endorsed suicide bombing campaign of 2002.


>On the question of free travel - I am understanding of Israeli
>attempts to set up checkpoints whereby they can be demonstrated to
>defend Israeli civilians from mass murder and not when they merely
>defend priveleged road access for settlers at the expense of the local
>population.

I doubt that you or I (or Amnesty) really have the expertise to assess whether specific checkpoints are necessary. What is true is that there is at least some attempt to make it rational. In 2002 there were numerous shooting attacks at the Tunnel Road which connects Jerusalem to Efrat. After the IDF altered its checkpoints and patrolling scheme, the attacks stopped.

As with the resources stuff, you need to talk specifics and not quote from horribly generalized reports that often originate from groups with a specific agenda.


>It is not ALL Arafat's fault and not ALL checkpoints are
>necessary in defending Israel propper.

See above.

>On the substantive point about the "systematic and ideologically
>rooted" attempt to colonise the West Bank...In spite of the ambiguity
>of the 1948 armistice lines, there is now international agreement (as
>put forth in SCR 681) as to the applicability of the Geneva
>conventions to the territories. Israel has systematically, under both
>Labour and Likud goverments, contavened such provisions in terms of
>population transfer.

Again I can't comment on 681. But as you interpret it, it would seem to apply to the historically Jewish parts of Eastern Jerusalem also.

>No govenment has substantively held up against the ideological
>position of extreme right.

The Rabin gov't did (eg. draconian freeze on building within settlements), and its policies continued even after the suicide bombings began.

maor

"armed settlements served by exclusive roads, with exclusive access to natural resorces."

Before Arab violence, the settlements were not armed and the roads were not exclusive. It will be that way again when Arab violence ends.
Which "natural resources" did you have in mind? Settlers tend to commute or grow flowers in greenhouses (while employing Arabs).


"I am understanding of Israeli attempts to set up checkpoints whereby they can be demonstrated to defend Israeli civilians from mass murder and not when they merely defend priveleged road access for settlers at the expense of the local population."

So if it's not mass murder, Israel can't inconvenience anyone to stop it? Is that international law? "Can't do anything about Katyusha rockets and snipers. They don't kill enough people to justify roadblocks."
As to the claim that roadblocks "merely" defend priveleged road access, they actually prevent the murder of civilians. Minor detail. Nobody minds non-terrorist Arabs driving all day back and forth. You probably realize that, but I'm pointing it out because neglecting these little things leads to absurdities such as:
1) complaints about roadblocks which deny access of Palestinians into Israel ("Only Israeli citizens get in automatically! Racism!")
2) complaints about roadblocks whose sole purpose is to try to spot armed terrorists (everyone gets to drive on the road).
3) complaints about the "racism" involved when Palestinians are barred from roads that lead only to Jewish settlements, and which did not exist before the settlement was founded.

alex

Maor -

"Before Arab violence, the settlements were not armed and the roads were not exclusive. It will be that way again when Arab violence ends."

The point is surely that they should not be there in the first place. If Israel had not instituted population transfer in violation of the Geneva convention, then there would be nothing to "defend" apart from the green line.

It seems fair to criticise Israelis for settling in the West Bank/Gaza as long as is almost impossible for Palestinians to move to Israel propper for fear of upsetting its demographic balance. Both groups have historical, familial and religious attachments to each area.

"Which "natural resources" did you have in mind?"

Water, for a start.

http://www.btselem.org/English/Press_Releases/2001/010805.asp

"So if it's not mass murder, Israel can't inconvenience anyone to stop it?"

If checkpoints prevent the killing or maiming of Israeli civillians, then I can see why they are valid. If they soley protect colonies which should not be there in the first place then I can't see why they are valid.

Poosh

"People join terrorist organizations because there's no hope and there's no chance to raise their families in a peaceful world where there is not freedom ..."

Good thing we invaded Iraq then.

hello

To those who think that Israel is a colony and that "Palestinian resistance" is therefore justified, may I pose a rather simple question?

Today, we have many Middle Easterners and non-Europeans immigrating to Europe.

These people are, by most accounts, not natives to European states.

Yet, they come and carry on their traditional cultural practices, including the way they worship, live and what have you.

I take it you feel these non-Europeans are colonizing, say, England and France and that nativist resistance to them (e.g., LePen) is fully justified?

Greg

It's worth checking out Benjamin Freedmans speech as to the founding of Israel. At the end of the day the Palestinians are being shafted left right and centre because strategically Israel is like the USA's Rottweiler in the Middle East, and is a lovely holiday home for Western Jews. No, I am not anti-semitic, anti Zionist maybe.

hello

At the end of the day Palestinians are not being accepted, integrated, or absorbed (pick your verb) in the Arab States to which they fled. Instead these descendants of the refugees (who, incidentally had a chance to go back between 1948 and 1952) are being kept by their Arab brethren in cages and the world says not a word.

Perhaps when the Palestinians give up on going to Israel and decide to come to Europe and US instead (as many are increasingly are doing) we'll ask the Arab States to please stop massacring them. Until then.. well, no I rather don't think we can be bothered.

mahagonny

Hello,
In answer to your initial question I think there is a distinction to be made between those whom (a) see the state of Israel as a colony per se and (b) those whom see view illegal activity of building fortified settlements in the West Bank and Gaza as colonialist. I am supportive of Israel's right to flourish within its own (broadly defined) boundries, but not of attempts to project religious fundamentalists into outlying areas and hence threaten the potential contiguity of any self-determining Palestinian state. This is where the "colonialist" argument creeps in.

On the point of Palestinian refugees, I think it is fair to criticise Arab regimes for using them as a political football and not undertaking the responsibility that any nation state should (within its means) for displaced peoples. This, however, does not excuse Israel of its own responsibility for the exodus of indigenous residents of the area it now occupies (EG Deir Yassien). Israel should (at least) share culpability with its neighbours.

Barry Meislin

Sorry.

The battle for Israel's legitimacy, once confined to the fringes of western political discourse (though always front and center among Israel's neighbours) has gone incresingly mainstream.

And it will gather momentum---just as it has gathered momentum since the latest round of violence "broke out"---as long as peace remains "elusive" in the Middle East.

Which is one of the main reasons why peace will remain "elusive" there.

Israel's legitimacy, already shaky, just needs to be nudged a bit and it will topple. Maybe not today; maybe not tomorrow; but one year? Two years? Five years? Ten?

And as Isael's "inability" to make peace with the Palestinians is perceived increasingly as evidence of Israel's illegitimacy, Israel, in the interest of peace (which we as honourable men all strive for), will just have to...disappear.

The Arab line swallowed hook, line and sinker.

And all of us, since we are all honourable men, deplore violence (especially when used in self-defense), so that Israel's destruction is most lamentable. (However, if Israel cannot come to its senses and Israel's demise becomes increasingly necessary, well then, the fault can only be pinned on Israel herself....).

But as truly honourable men, the only truly acceptable solution---since peace is so "elusive"---is a single democratic state for all its citizens between the River and the Sea....

Glorious peace.

Joe

Barry,

I share your pessimism regarding the future existence of Israel. One issue that has not been discussed with respect to this matter is Israel’s Sampson Option. If the international community were assured that Israel could be prevented from using its nuclear weapons, the elimination of Israel as a democratic state would go much more smoothly. The international community has already started work on this goal by sending Mohamed El Baradei of the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) to Israel to assess Israel’s nuclear capabilities and to force Israel to give up this deterrent to Arab aggression. After all, the Arabs, the Europeans, the Canadians and the rest of the international community must be assured that, in the process of eliminating 6 million additional Jews, Israel must not be allowed to defend itself.

Joe

Barry Meislin

It is indeed true that Israel's nuclear deterrent causes Israel's neighbours not a little discomfort.

For causing such discomfort alone, the Jewish state deserves to be chastised. Add to this the possibility that Israel might decide to respond to neighbourly aggression with nuclear weapons, and one can immediately understand why Israel presents such a tremendous problem for regional and world peace.

Certainly, should Israel's neighbours decide to launch any kind of attack, it would have to be a single knockout blow. Even this, however, might not be enough, given the nature of Israel's nuclear deterrent.

(Granted, attacks of a lesser nature might not provoke a nuclear response; but can Israel's neighbours rely on this?)

Iran, alone, has understood the problem sufficiently to conclude that the only solution is to develop a nuclear program of its own, with which to threaten and---according to Iran's own frank admissions (honesty in their world quite obviously being the best policy)---destroy the Zionist entity. If Palestinians are also incinerated as a result, this would be a pithy price to pay for the eradication of the Small Satan. Besides, one is already quite aware or the supreme sacrifice that Palestinian martyrs have been willing to make thus far. Surely, they have shown themselves more than willing to agree with Iranian resolve.

More prudently, however, the Palestinian leadership has understood that there is a limit to power, that nuclear weapons may not even be necessary, that while Arab violence is oft approved of and defended---or at the very least ignored--Israeli and western violence is decried and criminalised. Firmly ensconced with this knowledge, the Palestinian leadership has realised that whereas it can threaten Israel with annihilation (which it calls, not unjustifiedly, "justice"), and act on it---and in so doing, receive the support of the western world---Israel cannot retaliate with either proportionate violence or threats (let alone deeds) of annihilation.

And so it has decided to wage a terror war to kill Israel's citizens, destroy her economy, erode her morale, pulverize her diplomatic standing. With the assistance of good, moral, ethical people, countries and institutions worldwide (together with some of the more despicable dictatorships as well, but never mind, there are certain priorities that must be addressed).

Simply put, the Palestinians can threaten Israel's annihilation without fearing for their own. They can do this because they know that Israel cannot do so in return, or will not be allowed to do so. At least so they believe. But even if they are wrong, they will have the satisfaction of knowing that if they are partly wrong, Palestinian suffering (Inc.) will continue to be used as proof of Israel's illegality, and if they are totally wrong, that Israel may well gravely, if not fatally undermine herself.

Who knows but that Palestinian strategy might make Iranian plans unnecessary? Do Iranians have the patience and steadfastness that the Palestinians have thus far shown? Given the choice between the elegance of Iran's total solution vs. Palestinian slow but determined stamina, which is more effective? Which would be the preferred?

Certainly, if the Palestinians continue their insightful strategy, then El Baradei is exactly correct to insist that Israel has no need for its nuclear arsenal and will most certainly be less of a danger to its neighbours once it disbands it. Especially when Iran feels it necessary to demonstrate why Allah has chosen it to take the lead in eradicating the chief cause of worldwide war.

All told, it is hard not to disagree with El Baradei's position.

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