Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A View from Nowhere

 

GAZA, PALESTINIAN TERRITORY - DECEMBER 2: A child passes a bombed-out residential block in the Al-Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, December 2, 2012.Kevin Williamson is one of my favorite National Review columnists. Few people are as deft as Williamson when it comes to making an argument in 1,000 words. So I’m going to use his new piece, which is up today at NR, to make some points I need to make about Palestine.

I’ve been mentally arguing with pundits in my head for the past few weeks now, so maybe it’s time to bring a bit of this to Ricochet. Some of you know that I lived there for about eight months in the year 2000. I spent the spring in at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute, which is in Jerusalem, but sits right on the green line bordering Bethlehem. (There was an Israeli checkpoint just outside our building.) We took classes both at Bethlehem University and at Hebrew University. Then I spent the summer teaching English in Gaza City.

While I was abroad, I talked politics constantly, both with Israelis and with Arabs. It’s like Washington that way; everyone wants to discuss politics. I found that most people on both sides were pretty prepared to hash things out, drink some tea and still be friends. I sat in the living rooms of Palestinians and told them that their ideas about “returning home” were totally unrealistic, and some people got mad at me but not mad enough to serve me cold tea. I guess when you’re used to wars of bullets, you’re not easily intimidated by wars of words.

When I came home though, a funny thing happened. I couldn’t talk to anyone about the Arab-Israeli conflict without getting into a huge, ugly fight. It didn’t matter what the person’s views were. For the residents of Palestine, this is their life, so they live with the moral ambiguities every day. For Americans though, it’s all about picking a side and digging in. Cheering on your team. Creating a manufactured “moral clarity.” After awhile I just avoided talking about it.

With the next tragic chapter unfolding now in Palestine, I keep reading the news and getting that same indignant feeling. I don’t want to school anyone in the geopolitics, because I’m certainly no expert there; nevertheless I can’t but notice that 90% of what I read is a more or less sophisticated reiteration of: it’s the other guy’s fault. He made his bed. That’s the kind of moral confidence that no one should have concerning this awful conflict. All of the relevant actors bear some blame for the situation in the Middle East, and justice in such a case is very, very elusive. But manufacturing a sense of justice by focusing all of our attention on the other person’s missteps just looks to me like moral cowardice.

Now, I believe that the United States has a serious responsibility to support Israel. They are our allies. The existential threat they face is very real. They are at the front lines in the West’s confrontation with the brutal forces of radical Islam. Also, as a conservative, I have a deep respect for the Jews, who have in so many ways been the authors and cultivators of Western culture. I have met Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe and other parts of Arabia who took refuge in the Jewish state and made new and wonderful lives for their families. That’s an amazing and wonderful thing.

Right now, the hellish conditions under which Israelis are living are causing many in the West to jeer, which is inexcusable. No one deserves to live that way, and heaping the sins of the past on the heads of Israeli children is no more fair than heaping it on the heads of Palestinian children. We should let Israelis know that we stand with them in a difficult time. We should certainly heap curses on the heads of Hamas and other terrorist leaders, whose tactics and objectives are both despicable, and cause indescribable suffering to innocents on both sides.

But we should not curse Palestinians. Their story is properly seen as a tragedy, and one for which Western nations rightly feel some guilt. History still hangs over the Holy Land and we can’t stop talking about it; conservatives, for their part, like to downplay Arab complaints by suggesting that in fact, Israel’s creation wasn’t a particular violation of the local (non-Jewish) population’s political autonomy, or at least no more so than “normal” political changes that happen all the time. Let’s look at Williamson’s account of this:

Until the day before yesterday, the word “Palestinian” referred to Jews living in their ancestral homeland. During Roman rule, Palestine was considered a part of Syria: The prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate, was subordinate to the legate of Syria, Palestine being a not especially notable outpost. (It is perhaps for this reason that no physical evidence of Pilate’s existence was unearthed until 1961.) That situation obtained for centuries; as late as the 19th century, the idea of an Arab Palestine distinct from Syria was a novel one, and one expressed in Ottoman administrative practice rather than in anything resembling a state as the term is understood. The notion of a Palestinian Arab nation dates to only a few decades before the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

 

He goes on to observe that the Western notion of statehood may itself be part of the problem, and this is a good observation. But using the complexity of history as a screen to dismiss the legitimacy of Palestinian grievances seems to me like a slightly low trick. No, the Arabs never had their own state in Palestine. They were under the administration of the Ottomans, and then of the British, before Israel was formed. The British tried to balance the interests of the long-standing Arab communities and the incoming Jewish immigrants (Jews were about 10% of the population at the start of 20th century), and mostly threw up their hands in despair. Then the UN “invited” the Arabs to give the (mostly) newcomers their own autonomous state (while themselves occupying their own, neighboring state). The Arabs responded, in effect, “over our dead bodies.” So the West obligingly forged a Jewish state over dead Arab bodies.

If there is blame to be distributed here, I’m much more inclined to blame Western nations than Jews. The Jews’ motivations for returning to their ancient homeland were eminently understandable and admirable; Western nations’ motives were far more suspicious. That we now want to expiate our own sins by cheering the further suffering of Jews depresses me beyond belief. We owe them much better than that.

But I still can’t suggest that it was unreasonable for the Arabs to resent the Jews’ (Western-backed) demand for autonomy. I think it’s fairly impossible to understand from the standpoint of a 21st century American how exactly that must have appeared to them, but at least we should acknowledge that they weren’t throwing a fit over nothing. The fact that the Arabs didn’t have a modern, democratic state is hardly good reason for suggesting that their homeland and freedoms and sense of cultural identity weren’t all gravely threatened by the massive influx of Jewish settlers and by the West’s very evident determination, in the wake of WWII, to give them their own state. It’s sort of ironic how conservatives at this moment are simultaneously thundering on about our right to control our borders (which obviously has something to do with our desire to protect our home and society and culture), and also glancing over the situation of displaced Arabs in Palestine and saying, “Pshaw, stuff happens.”

But that is really where Williamson ends up. From near the end of his piece:

The story of humankind is that peoples move around and bump into each other, and the results are often unpleasant. Somebody wins, somebody loses, and, after some period of time, whatever temporary situation endures comes to be considered normal.

Is this just another way of saying that might makes right? Western nations were stronger, so they imposed their will on Palestine, and that’s that? We won, so we now get to tell you to stop your historical yammering and live where we tell you? Come on.

The thing is, I don’t think most Westerners are comfortable thinking of ourselves that way. We like to think that, as global powers go, we’re fairly benevolent. Bringers of freedom and democracy. Lovers of liberty and justice. We’re not the sort of people who get caught up in political ideologies and impose a political arrangement on a volatile region (over and against the strenuous objections of the majority of the current residents), relegating the displaced to tiny reservations for decades to come. Right?

Except in Palestine, that’s pretty much how it happened. And if the Gazans show a strong disinclination to accept the situation as “normal”, that’s partly because they’re still trapped in a tiny reservation (the whole Gaza Strip is about the size of Philadelphia) that they’ve never been able to see as home. Gaza City is a giant maze of concrete and corrugated tin. It feels like what it is, namely, a giant refugee camp that was thrown up in a hurry when hundreds of thousands of people were suddenly stuck there, with all their worldly possessions left behind. If you make any comment about the nature of the city, residents love to tell you that it’s not a city at all but rather, “the biggest prison in the world.”

I’ve recently read a number of reflections from conservatives suggesting that the Palestinians could have it pretty good there if they had used their aid and international goodwill to make Gaza into an amazing, beautiful coastal city, instead of building death tunnels into Israel. I’m not sure how possible this really ever was (the logistical obstacles seem formidable, and I have trouble picturing Stanford professors and world-class architects strolling the streets of Gaza) but I think it’s pretty clear that, given their situation, even trying it would have taken a pretty massive conceptual leap. The Palestinians regard Gaza as a giant holding cell. It’s a city of despair, where simple villagers suddenly found themselves herded into concrete bunkers, where they kept hope alive by cherishing the house keys and other tiny mementoes of their remembered homes. Perhaps a truly amazing leader could have gotten them past that, and kindled an enthusiasm for decorating their “prison” and embracing a totally new, urban, cosmopolitan lifestyle. It would have been awesome to see. But it would have taken a pretty extraordinary person to make that happen. A Perseus or a Cicero. Miserable, displaced people don’t re-envision their whole cultural identity just like that.

And at this point, “occupied people in diaspora” has become a central identity in itself. Compared with their cousins in the West Bank, Gazans had relatively little contact with Israelis. (Though when I was there, the settlements were still present, not accessible but eerily visible, like little heavily-guarded bits of Pleasantville dropped in amongst the concrete slums.) But of course they all appreciated the situation for West Bank Palestinians as well. The Palestinians I knew in Bethlehem dealt much more regularly with curfews and minor incidents of bullying (heavily armed young men don’t make great cultural ambassadors) and not being able to visit grandmothers 10 miles away because they couldn’t get the traveling passes. I witnessed some of these little indignities for myself (little insults, water bottles confiscated for no apparent reason, that sort of thing), and heard about many more. It’s just the day-to-day of occupation.

I fully realize that Israeli security concerns are not fanciful, and that a few stolen water bottles are small beans in the larger scheme of this conflict. But in our admiration for Israeli “restraint” (obviously heavily motivated by their desire to remain in the Western Nation Club) we shouldn’t kid ourselves into thinking that occupation is anything but ugly, or that Palestinians who have lived with it their whole lives, and been denied what we would regard as very basic civil liberties, can reasonably be expected to be placated by the observation that, “well you know, back in 1947, the Arabs fired the first shot.” From what I saw in 2000, it seemed that Israelis were a lot more anxious to win Western hearts and minds than Palestinian ones. Courtesy did not seem to be a point of emphasis for the IDF, at least in those days, and those memories of the little insults and petty acts of bullying (which have to be endured when the other guy has the gun) are burned into many Palestinian hearts.

Anyway, at this point the Palestinians have been infected by radical Islamists, who now use their reservations as a base of operations. These are despicable people with totalitarian aims, and it causes me tremendous grief to see the Palestinians used in such a way, and even more to know that some of them support it. At such a juncture Williamson is right: we can’t just ask Israelis to lay down and die in an act of expiation for the sins of the West. They have to take some action to defend their people, and we should recognize that right. The outlook for the Palestinians, individually and as a culture, is grim. I could offer you my dreams for Palestine (which wouldn’t involve anyone being slaughtered or forcibly displaced), but they’re only dreams, and there isn’t any point in dwelling on them.

But if we are indeed freedom-loving conservatives, we shouldn’t allow our justified anger over the sufferings of Israelis obliterate our pity and shame over what has happened to the Palestinians. Western nations interfered rather largely in Middle Eastern politics, and they ended up living under conditions that are dramatically less free and less dignified than what I as a conservative believe that humans deserve. In our justifiable sympathy for Israelis, we could focus all our attention on the missteps of others (“If only the Arab nations had… if only Arafat hadn’t…”), and of course many of those negative evaluations would be very fair. But that doesn’t change the fact that our (and our allies’) involvement in this mess was very significant indeed. Significant enough that we don’t deserve the comfort of shrugging off the fates of the victims as someone else’s problem.

Everyone in the Holy Land deserves a much better life than they currently have. For both sides life has become intolerable, in no small part because Western nations can’t stop litigating the history, holding one side or another accountable for historical sins. The history is certainly relevant, but with innocent lives at stake, nations have to be permitted to look beyond. At least in the United States, however, I think we may reach that point more quickly if we can discuss the situation with more perspective and evident compassion for suffering people on both sides. Preaching to the choir with oversimplified histories and thinly veiled assertions that might makes right will not, I think, win Israel broad-spectrum support. Sometimes, maybe, we do have to look at history and sigh that “the world is hard.” But when the incidents in question have happened in the lifetimes of living men, sponsored in significant part by our own nation’s aid, that sort of blithe hand-washing simply lowers us. The West does bear some responsibility here, and as virtuous people we should accept that for what it is.

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  1. Done Contributor

    Rachel Lu:

    The story of humankind is that peoples move around and bump into each other, and the results are often unpleasant. Somebody wins, somebody loses, and, after some period of time, whatever temporary situation endures comes to be considered normal.

    Is this just another way of saying that might makes right? Western nations were stronger, so they imposed their will on Palestine, and that’s that? We won, so we now get to tell you to stop your historical yammering and live where we tell you? Come on.

    No, he is saying you can play this game in any location selected randomly on a globe. Every piece of land now occupied by one group of people, was at an earlier time, occupied by someone else. Our standard cannot be to go back in time and try to figure out who has the better historical claim to land.

    Shall Texas be returned to Mexico? Or should we accept the present lines, and work towards stabilizing the region?

    • #1
    • July 31, 2014, at 1:12 PM PDT
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  2. Sabrdance Member

    Over the summer I listened to Simon Sebag-Montefiorre’s Jerusalem. I was amused by this story of English Support for Israel during the Commonwealth.

    Cromwell believed that the Jews must return to Jerusalem in order to bring about the second coming, so he developed a plan to take every Jew in Europe, board them onto Royal Navy ships, land them at Jaffa, and then push to Jerusalem. He discussed it with a Dutch Rabbi, who pointed out the following problems:
    1.) Where are you going to get every Jew in Europe to come together?
    2.) Wouldn’t the Royal Navy be better used fighting England?
    3.) And you have your prophecy wrong -before the Jews can return to Jerusalem, they have to be spread to all corners of the world.

    Cromwell was horrified -Edward’s expulsion of the Jews was still law in England, and therefore English law was blocking Christ’s return.

    So he returned home and persuaded the Cabinet to rescind the expulsion order on grounds that the Jews must come to England, think of the tax money! And furthermore, how can we leave God’s people in the hands of “pagans and papists!”

    • #2
    • July 31, 2014, at 1:34 PM PDT
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  3. Jules PA Member

    Rachel Lu: But I still can’t suggest that it was unreasonable for the Arabs to resent the Jews’ (Western-backed) demand for autonomy. 

    I don’t curse Palestinians, and I have sympathy for their plight, especially since the common people seem to have been overrun or persuaded by terrorist types.
    I think the expanding violence toward Israel seen in offensively launched rockets, bombings, terrorist acts, and now tunnels, reflect so much more than Palestinian resentment. So does the Hamas Charter and their overriding commitment to the destruction of all Jews, not just reclaiming the land.
    I’d like to believe it does not matter to Israelis who commits the violence, but where it comes from: the fringes of their land. That is what Israel is defending. Would Israel respond any less vigorously if Americans, Germans or Italians lobbing rockets? I don’t think so.
    I would also feel differently if Israel had a history of expelled all Arabs from the land. It is my understanding that Jews, Christians and Arabs live peacefully side by side. I accept correction if that is an incorrect perception.

    • #3
    • July 31, 2014, at 1:37 PM PDT
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  4. Jules PA Member

    I ran out of permitted words above,

    Also, Thank you for your post, because it is important to be aware and sensitive that this eternal battle involves people, and they are all wounded and hurting, in so many ways.

    • #4
    • July 31, 2014, at 1:39 PM PDT
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  5. Roberto, Crusty Old Timer LLC Member
    Roberto, Crusty Old Timer LLCJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Rachel Lu:

    The West does bear some responsibility here, and as virtuous people we should accept that for what it is.

     Hmm… this rather seems to describe European opinion of the situation. I am not certain what result you would expect from such a position being adopted in the United States but I suspect that the manner in which Israel is largely reviled across the continent would soon be mirrored here. I do not see anything positive emerging from your suggested self-flagellation.

    • #5
    • July 31, 2014, at 1:44 PM PDT
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  6. Sabrdance Member

    Germany, on the other hand, was entirely different. Germany was equally zionistic in the 18th century, but that was because they wanted some place to expel the Jews to, not out of Protestant zeal. That it would screw the Turks was an added bonus (this accounted for most of Russia’s zionism). Even the Turks weren’t opposed to Jewish return (think of the tax money!), so long as they were not independent (autonomous was fine).

    Zionism is an old thing, and a complicated thing.

    Montefiorre seemed to blame most of the problem on the installation of Amin Al-Husseini as Grand Mufti in 1921, which led to the formation of a distinct “Palestinian” people instead of the previous “Arab” people, itself formed largely to combat the influx of Jews from Europe, but more broadly to contest the growing European influence in the Middle East, which included murdering Abdullah I of Jordan in 1951. That assassination pretty much ended the possibility of peace between Jews and Arabs in the Mandate, and led directly to the 1967 war.

    • #6
    • July 31, 2014, at 1:47 PM PDT
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  7. The Mugwump Inactive

    I’ll put aside the historical arguments for a moment to address just one issue. Prior to 1988, Palestinians routinely crossed from Gaza and the West Bank into Israel to work and do their shopping. Yasser Arafat spoiled all that when we instigated the second intifada. When Palestinian terrorists began detonating bombs inside Israel proper, the Jews were forced to make the only choice possible. Gaza was evacuated and the territories were fenced off. Any chance for a permanent peace became permanently truncated. Various Palestinian factions then indulged in a vicious hate campaign against their erstwhile neighbors. The level of hatred deliberately stoked by Arafat and his cronies has poisoned the Palestinian people to the point of cultural and religious insanity. How is Israel expected to deal with a problem rooted in madness other than to eradicate the source? When the Palestinians needed a Gandhi, they chose Yasser Arafat instead. The Jews would have capitulated quickly to moral suasion, but the opportunity has been permanently lost. The only thing left to do is let the poisons hatch out, however ugly and brutal that might be.

    • #7
    • July 31, 2014, at 2:03 PM PDT
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  8. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu

    I don’t favor self-flagellation, just realistic awareness of the sufferings others have borne, in no small part due to Western actions. This is not a reason to withdraw support from Israel. The Jews settled there with the understanding that we would support them, and we should follow through. They’ve certainly been good allies to us. But part of the point is that we don’t have to decide which side to bless with our sympathy. Both sides deserve it.

    • #8
    • July 31, 2014, at 2:22 PM PDT
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  9. doc molloy Inactive

    WSJ
    Eric Hoffer, writing in May 1968, quoted in Tom Bethell’s “Eric Hoffer: The Longshoreman Philosopher” (2012):

    The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews.

    Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious, it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world.

    Other nations, when they are defeated, survive and recover, but should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed. Had Nasser triumphed last June [1967], he would have wiped Israel off the map, and no one would have lifted a finger to save the Jews.

    No commitment to the Jews by any government, including our own, is worth the paper it is written on. But when Hitler slaughtered Jews no one remonstrated with him.

    The Jews are alone in the world. If Israel survives it will be solely because of Jewish efforts. And Jewish resources.

    I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the Holocaust will be upon us.

    • #9
    • July 31, 2014, at 2:31 PM PDT
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  10. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu

    Actully there were a lot of efforts at peaceful moral suasion in the second intifada, and I know many people who claim to have been jailed for participating in non-violent protests. You can believe them or not. My feeling was that the Israelis, though not totally insensitive to the moral challenges of their situation, but more that their concerns about survival and security trumped all else. That Ben-Gurion legacy seemed pretty present: strength and security were everything. So, fifty non-violent protests would be canceled out by one suicide bomber, and when people are that unhappy and hopeless, it’s really hard to ensure that nobody flames out that way. Israelis would tell me, “we’re happy to give the Palestinians more freedoms when we can be sure they won’t turn violent.” But to my Palestinian friends that was like saying, “I’ll come to New York City when you can guarantee nobody will pick my pocket.” Places like Gaza generate discontent, just as cities generate petty crime. Maybe a Ghandi could have turned the tide, but again, leaders like that don’t just rise out of the grass. They’re rare. I agree that the Palestinians have not pulled off a magnificent and inspiring comeback in rising above awful circumstances. But that’s not the kind of thing you can just expect as a matter of course.

    • #10
    • July 31, 2014, at 2:39 PM PDT
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  11. doc molloy Inactive

    Hoffer may have been right..
    Hat tip- AndrewBoltBlog:
    Filmed on the streets of Lakemba ( Western Sydney), this protest, with young men chanting [alternative link to video here]: 
    Philistine philistine (Arabic for Palestine), 

    Allah hedik Israel (God destroy you Israel) 
    Palestine is Muslim land 
    With the Umma we will stand 
    Palestine is Muslim land 
    The solution is Jihad 
    Palestine is Muslim land 
    Your oppression will not stand 
    You can never stop Islam 
    From Australia to al Sham (Syria) 
    One umma hand in hand 
    From Lakemba to Gaza

    • #11
    • July 31, 2014, at 2:44 PM PDT
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  12. Mike H Coolidge

    Rachel. This is my favorite post of yours I’ve ever read. Thanks for giving this situation the kind of nuanced treatment it deserves in far more credible fashion than I could hope to muster.

    • #12
    • July 31, 2014, at 3:08 PM PDT
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  13. Jules PA Member

    Rachel Lu: But part of the point is that we don’t have to decide which side to bless with our sympathy. Both sides deserve it.

    Both sides may deserve sympathy, but that won’t change realities in Israel & Gaza.

    doc molloy:
    [Eric Hoffer, 1968, “I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the Holocaust will be upon us.”]

    I believe this is true. Terrorist mad dogs will move their focus from one to the next “infidel” until they accomplish their goal. They have already proven they are willing to use Palestinian children as shields in their purpose. Our only hope for a lasting peace is God’s intervention. 

    Rachel Lu: Israelis would tell me, “we’re happy to give the Palestinians more freedoms when we can be sure they won’t turn violent.” But to my Palestinian friends that was like saying, “I’ll come to New York City when you can guarantee nobody will pick my pocket.”

    I think Israelis would handily and gladly manage pick pockets, but the rockets, terrorism and tunnels are hardly comparable or petty crimes.

    • #13
    • July 31, 2014, at 3:18 PM PDT
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  14. Tuck Inactive

    “Western nations’ motives were far more suspicious.”

    So what should we have done with “The Jewish Problem“, after WWII?

    1915: “For us the Jewish Problem means this: How can we secure for Jews, wherever they may live, the same rights and opportunities enjoyed by non-Jews? How can we secure for the world the full contribution which Jews can make, if unhampered by artificial limitations?”

    Israel was the fix, after Hitler’s failed (Thank God). What else could we have done?

    They key thing to remember about the plight of the Arabs in Palestine is that their fellow Arabs have refused to let them enter the many other countries in which Arabs live and exercise dominion.

    “Nearly one-third of the registered Palestine refugees, more than 1.5 million individuals, live in 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”

    They’ve been stuffed in a cage, and it’s been made clear that the only way out is to clear their former land of Jews.

    So that’s what they’re trying to do.

    But that was not the Western states’ decision.

    If all the Arab states had accepted the Palestinian Arabs as immigrants, it’s unlikely that the same vehemence would have survived the 3 generations since the original conflict. They would have melted into the host countries populations.

    • #14
    • July 31, 2014, at 3:21 PM PDT
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  15. doc molloy Inactive

    doc molloy:

    Hoffer may have been right.. Hat tip- AndrewBoltBlog: Filmed on the streets of Lakemba ( Western Sydney), this protest, with young men chanting [alternative link to video here]: Philistine philistine (Arabic for Palestine),

    Allah hedik Israel (God destroy you Israel) Palestine is Muslim land With the Umma we will stand Palestine is Muslim land The solution is Jihad Palestine is Muslim land Your oppression will not stand You can never stop Islam From Australia to al Sham (Syria) One umma hand in hand From Lakemba to Gaza

     This was taped July 25.. Seven days past..

    • #15
    • July 31, 2014, at 3:23 PM PDT
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  16. Son of Spengler Contributor

    Rachel Lu: I know many people who claim to have been jailed for participating in non-violent protests

    I just don’t believe this. Israel does not have the resources or the desire to jail nonviolent protesters unnecessarily. What I’ve encountered more often is that Palestinians characterize protests as “nonviolent” when they involve throwing stones rather than molotov cocktails. But stones can be deadly too.

    • #16
    • July 31, 2014, at 3:42 PM PDT
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  17. Son of Spengler Contributor

    Rachel Lu: Israelis would tell me, “we’re happy to give the Palestinians more freedoms when we can be sure they won’t turn violent.” But to my Palestinian friends that was like saying, “I’ll come to New York City when you can guarantee nobody will pick my pocket.”

    What level of discontent justifies targeting civilians for murder? Conversely, what level of civilian murders, rocket attacks, and bus bombings should Israelis accept?

    Israel gave Palestinians more sovereignty through the 1993 accords. The Palestinians used the greater freedom to conduct a more effective terror campaign.

    Israel left Gaza. Completely. It left productive assets, including a beach resort and greenhouses (that fed a lot of Israel). Gazans gleefully destroyed these in a fit of pique, and elected a government that built attack tunnels and rockets to target civilians. The Gazans have terror tunnels in their basements. Their TV shows — even for children –glorify killing Jews. Anti-Jewish violence was a constant in 1929, 1947, 1987, 2000, today, and in all the years in between.

    Show me the Palestinian Gandhi or MLK or even something like the tiny group of Egyptian “Facebook” reformers. Until then, comparisons to NYC petty crime is risible.

    • #17
    • July 31, 2014, at 3:58 PM PDT
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  18. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu

    I think sometimes, Son, the issue was that the protesters were in some unauthorized place. That was a lot of places though. Israelis generally weren’t unnecessarily cruel (or only in very minor ways, schoolyard stuff) but they do see threats around every corner and that means they treated all Palestinians as possible/likely terrorists. This is not hard to understand. But it also does not build up trust that your occupies are anxious on deal fairly with you.

    • #18
    • July 31, 2014, at 4:00 PM PDT
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  19. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu

    Son, I’m not justifying terrorism, but when you’re asking people to earn basic civil liberties, not just with a personal track record of good behavior but even a collective one… well, it’s an ugly situation, no? I understand why it happens, but still the fact is that Palestinians who have done nothing are treated like criminals and denied basic freedoms in a way we would never put up with here. Meanwhile, I loved the withdrawal from Gaza, but giving people control of a tiny piece of land they regard as an oversized prison is hardly a “now we’re square” gesture, even when accompaied by greenhouses. We want there to have been some moment when we could have told Palestinians, “hey, now you’re fine. Things are completely acceptable for you in your current situation. Go and be well.” But I don’t think there has been such a moment. Only the suggestion that they might have been able collectively to “earn” freedoms that should be every person’s birthright.

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    • July 31, 2014, at 5:06 PM PDT
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  20. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    For the situation to change, the peaceful protests must be in Palestinian territory rather than in Israel. What Gaza desperately needs, like so many other nations in that region, is for its own virtuous citizens to stand up to its own tyrants and devils. Evil reigns in Gaza. 

    I know a woman whose small Mexican town was terrorized by a cartel in recent years. The town’s priest mobilized its people to patrol the streets and defy the cartel. They refused to be extorted, even at risk to their lives. Eventually, the cartel left. 

    Good-hearted Palestinians have a duty to reject the evils in their midst. Doing so would almost certainly result in bloodshed. But, be it by pacifist martyrdom or by civil war, the only way forward for Palestinians is to topple the devils who dominate their government and culture.

    • #20
    • July 31, 2014, at 5:19 PM PDT
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  21. John Walker Contributor

    Julia PA: I think Israelis would handily and gladly manage pick pockets, but the rockets, terrorism and tunnels are hardly comparable or petty crimes.

    Precisely—what is the tolerance level for murderous savages who fabricate crude rockets, fuelled by sugar and potassium nitrate, and launch them in the general direction of civilian noncombatants who have committed no aggression against the barbarians?

    What is the tolerance level for those who, at great expense, tunnel into a civilised country to murder, kidnap, and hold hostage its innocent people?

    It doesn’t matter what the history between these people may have been. These acts are atrocities and war crimes and cannot be excused by events which happened, for the most part, before those committing them were born.

    When has Israel launched an attack which was not in response to an assault upon its territory?

    • #21
    • July 31, 2014, at 5:51 PM PDT
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  22. Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng…Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Rachel, 

    Since you are intent on going back in time to decide the West is more at fault than the Arabs, let me go further back in time. 

    Islam has been at war with Christians and Jews since it was founded. From day one, Islam has been at war with the world around it. Islam invaded the Holy Lands, Islam pushed invaders into Western Europe. Islam has been the aggressor over and over, even as its feeble culture feel behind the West. 

    Now, across the world, nations run by Islamists are out to do as much damage as possible to the West. Muslims move to the West and do not Westernize, but bring their sorry culture with them. Gaza is just one piece in their anti-Western push. 

    You feel bad for the people in Gaza. Boo hoo. Life is hard all over the world. Lots of them blame us for it. You know who I blame? Them, and their non-Western culture that will not advance. 

    Every year, in Indonesia, a ferry sinks that kills more people than died on the Titanic. Do they make changes? No. It was just Allah’s will. Losers.

    • #22
    • July 31, 2014, at 6:08 PM PDT
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  23. Son of Spengler Contributor

    Rachel, two things.

    First, you make it out as if Israel’s attackers are just a few bad apples. But an array of mutually corroborating data points suggest otherwise. Opinion polls by reputable international firms. Political elections. Large turnouts at rallies celebrating the return of child-killers. Consumption of popular entertainment. Educational materials. Facebook photos showing off kids dressed as suicide bombers. Organizational and logistical support for men who commit war crime after war crime. It adds up to a culture that supports and encourages Jew-killing. That’s what the culture rewards. It is a sick culture, and Israel does not deserve the blame for it. The “international community” needs to make clear that it is a dead end.

    Second, the “denial of rights” is self-defense, plain and simple. Israel dramatically widened Palestinian autonomy in 1993, progressively further and further. Instead of demonstrating that Israel could trust a Palestinian state on its border, the Palestinians escalated the violence. Israel took risks for peace, and paid a steep price. It’s not a matter of Israel saying “you should be happy with this”, but a matter of seeing what the Palestinians did with the freedom they were given.

    (cont.)

    • #23
    • July 31, 2014, at 6:16 PM PDT
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  24. Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng… Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens, Trump Aveng…Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Let me go further, and say something I know you (and many others) might find horrible:

    I think we should treat all Muslims as they would treat us. In short, if they do not follow the Geneva Conventions, then when fighting them, we do not either. If they target our planes and cities, we respond in kind. 

    Frankly, I do not believe the people of Gaza want peace, or want to live with Israel. Time and again, Israel has tried, and they have people die. 

    And for you to act as if security is not the most important thing is simply a lie. You don’t act that way in your own life, I wager. Taking in people you just met on the street because they need 3 hots and a cot? No? How dare you put security first. You are in part responsible for that man being homeless with your imperial ways. 

    I notice, in a wall of text, you still don’t offer an actual solution. You are one of the types that used to preach the two state solution. That didn’t work. I have asked over and over in another thread: What do you propose?

    • #24
    • July 31, 2014, at 6:18 PM PDT
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  25. Son of Spengler Contributor

    (cont. from #23)

    When an Israeli commits mass murder, Israelis are horrified and the Prime Minister says, “We spit him out.” (Compare to Palestinians naming streets for mass murderers.) When Israeli kids kill a Palestinian as a political statement, Israelis are horrified and the government devotes all its resources to tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice — even at the expense of tracking down Israeli hostages. (Compare to widespread Palestinian pride in the kidnapping of the 3 hostages, and mockery of Israeli forces.) When terrorists attack the US, Israelis mourn and Palestinians dance. Until Palestinians are prepared to behave more like Israelis — to admit their own culture of death, and reform it — Israel would be suicidal to grant Palestinians the means to harm them.

    • #25
    • July 31, 2014, at 6:22 PM PDT
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  26. Petty Boozswha Inactive

    Son of Spengler:

    Rachel Lu: I know many people who claim to have been jailed for participating in non-violent protests

    I just don’t believe this. Israel does not have the resources or the desire to jail nonviolent protesters unnecessarily. 

     Although they were a tiny minority, there were some on the West Bank that were savvy enough to know that a Gandhi/MLK style resistance movement would have been the greatest threat to Israel’s rule in the conquered territories. The Israelis instinctively knew it too so these folks were the special focus of the security services. Unfortunately for the world Palestinian culture could not accept nonviolent resistance as an acceptable tool for their goals.

    • #26
    • July 31, 2014, at 6:33 PM PDT
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  27. Son of Spengler Contributor

    Petty Boozswha:

    Son of Spengler:

    Rachel Lu: I know many people who claim to have been jailed for participating in non-violent protests

    I just don’t believe this. Israel does not have the resources or the desire to jail nonviolent protesters unnecessarily.

    Although they were a tiny minority, there were some on the West Bank that were savvy enough to know that a Gandhi/MLK style resistance movement would have been the greatest threat to Israel’s rule in the conquered territories. The Israelis instinctively knew it too so these folks were the special focus of the security services. Unfortunately for the world Palestinian culture could not accept nonviolent resistance as an acceptable tool for their goals.

     Interesting if true. What are their names? What did Israel do to them? How did you hear about them?

    • #27
    • July 31, 2014, at 6:37 PM PDT
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  28. Ontheleftcoast Member

    19th century Arab nationalism tended to be more involved with local semiautonomy from the Ottomans. The British fomented more violent expression in WWI when the Ottomans were the enemy, and then, under League of Nations auspices, divided the Ottoman Empire with their French and Italian allies.

    Early anti-Jewish violence in Palestine was often hard to tell from plain old banditry, (the history of the Shomrim, a pioneering Jewish self-defense organizations in Palestine, tells of disgruntled former Arab watchmen fired on suspicion of theft and taking revenge in the form of raids and robbery.)

    It was turning serious by the 1920s; by 1929 the ancient Jewish community of Hebron had been murdered or driven out. In 1920, the British appointed Haj Amin al-Husseini, – militant Arab nationalist, antisemite, future Nazi propagandist and recruiter of a Muslim Waffen-SS battalion – as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

    Though under Arab pressure the British cut off Jewish immigration in the 1930s (!) and tried to hold the line after the war, the flood of refugees into Israel – from Europe, and after 1948, from the Arab world – was on.

    • #28
    • July 31, 2014, at 6:52 PM PDT
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  29. Done Contributor

    I’m completely with Spengler on this issue. Aside from a single poll that I saw very recently Palestinians have, by large majorities, supported the violence against Israel, and opposed any solution to the conflict that doesn’t end in the dissolution of Israel as a state.

    On one side we have a democracy with strong protections for the rights of women and minorities, who have offered land and material aid to the other side in exchange for peace.

    On the other side, we have Kleptocracy which would rather take foreign aid sent for their people who live in destitute poverty, and instead funnel it into killing their enemy. They oppress women and those who practice other religions. To the negotiating table, they bring empty promises of ending the violence, routinely followed by attempts to kill as many Israeli civilians as they practically can.

    This conflict ends when ever the Palestinians choose to end it. There would not be an ounce of violence directed at them if they all together stopped their attacks on Israel.

    • #29
    • July 31, 2014, at 7:11 PM PDT
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  30. Petty Boozswha Inactive

    Son of Spengler

    Interesting if true. What are their names? What did Israel do to them? How did you hear about them?

    Check out Wikipedia’s entry on “sumud” – resistance in Arabic – for a brief description.

    • #30
    • July 31, 2014, at 7:13 PM PDT
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