View Full Version : Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Please visit our sponsor:

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!

10-05-2002, 10:03 AM
(this is a continuation of a discussion started in this thread (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?postid=30498#post30498) )

However, as we agree there remains some amount of plain power relationships in international affairs, what is it about Israel that would constrain the US from making the above decision (OK, you're on your own) before first ensuring Israeli demands for security are satisfied?
I see two parts in this question: what prevents the US from cutting Israel off, and why the US [i]shouldn't[i] do that. I'm going to try and list some of the things I can think of, in either category:

First, I don't think it would fly with the US public opinion. Although we might agree that there's no real similarity between the Al Qaeda terrorism and the Palestinian terrorism when it comes to the motivation and legitimacy, the commonality and brutality of the employed methods, create this similarity, at least on the emotional level. So the US politicians would have to work really hard to convince the public that the Palestinian struggle is a liberation movement and, being such, is more legitimate and deserves the American political support.

Second, I don't know how powerful the American Jewish lobby really is, but from what I've heard, it is. There are references to its influence on the American policy in the Middle East all along the history of the conflict. Assuming it's still there, I don't see how it is going to allow the US government to one-sidedly demand Israeli withdrawal.

Third (although I'm not sure how real this one is) is the Israeli intelligence, and maybe military, support. As long as the US is fighting its war against terror, Israeli intelligence, and maybe even military assistance (special ops or something of that nature) might be useful. Several organizations regarded by the US as terrorist ones, are based and operate in or around Israel. It seems not too unreasonable to assume that some sort of cooperation between the designated enemies of the US and Hamas/Islamic Jihad/Hezbollah might take place. In this case Israel might provide a very tangible help in the campaign against terrorism. This sort of cooperation between Israel and the US would probably be kept secret as not to angry the Arab countries, but it still might happen. I agree with your claim that it's unlikely that there could be a war in which the US and the Israeli military will openly fight together, but a collaboration iof a more subtle kind seems not too unlikely to me.

Fourth, it might have an unpredictable effect on the Israeli internal situation. Maybe it's the timing issue, as in when exactly the US should "pull the plug". Doing this while there's a rightist government seems to be not such a good idea. There are voices in Israel that call for more drastic measures agains Palestinians, and the fact that Israel has to look at the US before doing anything is probably one of the restraining factors in this context. If the US pulls its support, the more radical elements in the Israeli politics might interpret it as a carte blanche.

It's a fact that Israel is the biggest offender we have when it comes to illicit transfer of US technologies, mostly to China, which hurts US interests in an important way.
I don't have enough information to agree or disagree with this, although it feels like if the US interests were in a real danger, the US would find ways to make Israel stop.

"The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, who's only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kindom. Sun Tzu

I wonder if Mr. Sharon has studied the old Chinese master?
Probably not. I do believe however that Mr. Sharon knows a thing or two about fighting wars, both in the military and in the political sense. Anyhow, until we agree on the meaning of the word "protect" in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we can't realy figure out how to apply this wisdom, can we?

10-07-2002, 01:11 AM
'Probably not. I do believe however that Mr. Sharon knows a thing or two about fighting wars, both in the military and in the political sense. '

Saying this is like saying the elephant is a little bit on the heavy side.

A man like Sharon earned his nicknamed as the Butcher not because of his expertise with the meat cleaver. More so when that nickname was given to him by his own parliament. To this day, the world (US) is recognising a war criminal as the Prime Minister of Israel.

PM of a country who has the 4th largest nuclear weapons stockpile (read... weapons of mass destruction). So how come, Bush is all gung ho about whacking Saddam. Why not whack Sharon? Since he's been terrorising neigbouring states for years. Killing civilians? Yep, done that as well.

The reason why US still sends billions of dollars in aid to Isreal every year, why it ignores Israel's terrorism, provides it with world class weapons of destruction and so on... is simple. The Jews pressure group is very very strong in US.

Thats all ok too. Since if the Jews really believe in God and heaven and hell... they know what they're doing is wrong. No God will condone bloodshed in His name. Only the so called 'religious leaders' have called their people to arms to oppress people. So let the Jews destroy themselves in God's eyes. Everyone dies in the end.

10-07-2002, 09:07 AM

I'm not sure whether the goal of your post was to participate in the discussion or just to post an anti-Israeli, borderline anti-Semitic, slogan. Assuming the first:

In my comment about Mr. Sharon I was trying to convey the idea that, despite the controversy surrounding Mr. Sharon's military and political career, he's indeed trying "to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign". Now, how he does that is again a controversial issue, and is one of the subjects of this discussion.

I tried to address the question of why the US shouldn't "whack" or withdraw its support for Israel in my previous post. The power of the Jewish lobby is one of the reasons, but I think claiming it's the only one is very simplistic.

Let me also say that the manner in which you spoke about the Jewish people is extremely offensive, let alone irrational.

Paul Clark
10-07-2002, 12:13 PM
Ahmad and Daniel,

Assalamu alaykum/shalom. Nobody appointed me referee, but I'd hope we could keep this discussion at the level we'd had previously. Ahmad, Have you read our last 3 or 4 pages on the "Invasion of Iraq" thread?

Second, I don't know how powerful the American Jewish lobby really is, but from what I've heard, it is. There are references to its influence on the American policy in the Middle East all along the history of the conflict. Assuming it's still there, I don't see how it is going to allow the US government to one-sidedly demand Israeli withdrawal

Well, you hit the target I was looking for, but never count out serendipity, either. Last night I was channel surfing and stumbled on 60 Minutes while they were in the midst of a piece on US support for Israel. Turns out that Jerry Falwell and his ilk claim to speak for 70 million American evangelical Christians who are probably more virulently pro-Israel than most Israelis are. That compared to the estimated 5-6 million Jews in the United States.

The evangelical story is pretty scary, and Ahmad will probably be as aghast as either of us. Turns out this bunch is eager for the Second Coming, believes that the reestablishment of the Kingdom of Israel is a pre-requisite, and so are intent on hastening that event by whatever means necessary, hence their support for Israel. This support is financial in the form of direct contributions from various churches to Israeli organizations, moral, and most importantly, political. The latter takes the form of lobbying on behalf of their beliefs and agenda with Congress and the Executive branch, Falwell allegedly fired off a letter the President the day after his speech protesting his call for a Palestinian state in 3 years; this was followed up by 100,000 + emails received by the White House with the same protest message.

For what it's worth, the guys doing the interviews for 60 Minutes did a pretty good job of making Falwell look like a whacko, the scary part is that Falwell didn't look uncomfortable about that. Meanwhile, the Falwell message is that at this end of the world, all the Jews either become Christians or die off, so the Jews are not real enamored of this "support" either, and there were at least two people interviewed that said so. They'd rather have a peace settlement with the Palestinians and live with that for another couple of thousand years.

Now, no offense to anyone who reads this and may subscribe to similar beliefs, but as an American, I find it offensive that a religious group is trying to insinuate its beliefs into US foreign policy, although I'm not surprised (the Jewish Lobby does it, obviously, as well, and others do, too. Abortion comes to mind.). I also find it a little scary that these people are busily trying to bring about the end of the world. Makes one wonder who's more dangerous--American evangelicals or Saddam (back to the other thread, Daniel?)?

I suspect Falwell overstates his supporters' numbers, but even if there are 70 million, that leaves 220 million Americans who are not fervently praying, much less actively working, for the end of the world as we know it. I refer to one of my posts on the original thread in which I say the problem for American policy in the Middle East is one of education. Four hours in 12 years is not enough. I gave a 1- hour presentation to 2 5th grade classes a week ago that makes one small dent, but it's a long haul.

I doubt the President intends to listen too hard to Falwell et. al.; there are too many other voters to worry about, and the idea of ending the world sometime in the next decade, on purpose, won't sit well with most of them. We more moderate Americans have some work to do, though.

There is some good news. Falwell is so badly informed, or so blinded by his own "faith", that he's completely unaware of Islam. He said that after close study of the Q'uran, he'd concluded that the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was "a terrorist". Unbelievable! The reason that's good news is that in my opinion, that makes him look like a real whacko, and I suspect there'll be plenty of lively response in the press, and maybe on American television over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, I doubt that kind of bald assessment will do much for this guy's credibility with the average American.

Ahmad--I am not a Muslim, but if you'll permit me:


And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our God and your God is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)."


10-07-2002, 12:56 PM
Jerry Falwell and his ilk claim to speak for 70 million American evangelical Christians who are probably more virulently pro-Israel than most Israelis are. This guy is scary, isnít he?

Itís an interesting situation for the Israelis and Jews in general Ė to get such a passionate support from representatives of the church, which historically has been, well, not very nice to Jews. I think most Israelis are either unaware of this, donít give it too much thought, or consider this phenomenon very cautiously. I've read some articles in the Israeli left-wing press that call for complete dissociation from the Christian religious support, since it doesnít do much good to Israelís PR. I for one completely agree with this Ė having Mr. Falwell for a supporter doesnít look very attractive.

OTOH, Israel has had some pretty strange alliances during the history of the conflict. The Lebanese Maronites, for instance. Heck, at some point Israelis and Syrians were practically allies (indirectly of course) when they both were trying to disable the PLO in Lebanon. Israel also supported the Islamic fundamentalists in West Bank and Gaza, as an alternative to the much hated PLO. In my view, this is how the world politics works. An enemy of your enemy is your friend. There are countless examples of such weird collaborations, so Falwell, as obnoxious as he is, doesnít come as much of a shock.

The most disgusting thing about falwells is that theyíre playing on the most basic human emotions and cynically exploit the current situation in the Middle East to sell their Second Coming nonsense.

I too hope that Falwell and the like do not determine the US policy, in the Middle East or elsewhere, and Iíd like to believe that the American support for Israel has a more stable basis. I also believe that Americans and Israelis share the same values of freedom, democracy and sanctity of a human life, and this should be the true spirit of the US-Israeli alliance.

10-07-2002, 02:57 PM
Hey, didn't mean to go missing on you guys for too long. There's a bunch of stuff that I want to add a quip or two about, but before I start, I recommend checking out the following article in Ha'aretz Holy Deadlock (http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=216423&contrassID=2&subContrassID=5&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y). I found it very interesting. My sense is that the author, Danny Rubinstein, leans to the right, but I'm not sure of that, and in any case the article is still an interesting perspective that highlights aspects of the issue that I hadn't really been thinking about.

Ahmad, if you haven't been chased off, I'm really interested to hear what you have to say about the article. I have consistently found your posts to be very interesting in these forums and I would love it if we could have more voices in this particular discussion. I have to say, though, that I also felt like your earlier post was a little bit 'in my face.' I think that the relationship of diaspora judaism to judaism (as a religion) in Israel to the politics of Israel is an amazingly interesting and complicated issue. It's a hard one to talk about without upsetting somebody, but maybe it would be worth our time.

On a similar point, perhaps there are no fundamentalist christian AiKiDoka, or at least none around here, but I'd still really appreciate it if we didn't use words like 'disgusting,' 'whacko,' and so on to discuss any group. I certainly have fears associated with the Christian right, alhtough they are not as strong as the fears I associate with the Orthodox parties in Israel, but I just think that it is the kind of thing which is really likely to offend some chance reader of the forum, or even some regular readers.

It seems to me that Israel has actively cultivated its ties with the United States over many years in both open and covert ways. It's not easy to be so consistently seen as a 'friend' to such a notoriously fickle partner, and Israel's willingness to focus on that and put energy into it is not something to overlook, I think.

10-07-2002, 03:10 PM

Thanks for putting out the flames, as always.

I'll try to be more careful with words.


It was certainly not my intention to chase you off this thread; I was indeed upset by your post, but I do hope that we can continue this discussion in a calm and constructive way.

10-07-2002, 04:08 PM
I recommend checking out the following article in Ha'aretz Holy Deadlock. An interesting perspective indeed, and not at all surprising. I see this in line with the argument we had on how certain governments choose to support or condemn Israel when they feel it can be useful. Religion has always been about politics, and during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict both sides used, and continue to use, religious issues to advance their cause.

Even if we know that the religious significance of Jerusalem was artificially pumped, today this fact is a given and it seems pointless to ignore it or, worse yet, act against it. However, ruling out any compromise on Jerusalem is not a very workable stance, on either side. If this conflict is ever going to be settled, some sort of compromise over the religious sites, like assigning them a special status so that neither side has sovereignty over them, will have to take place.

The current position of the Arab states towards Jerusalem is understandable. Although when the prospect of a permanent settlement becomes more real, I believe most governments will assume a more pragmatic position, as it was the case several times during the history of the conflict. Egypt and Jordan forsook the religious and militaristic rhetoric for the sake of normalization with Israel that allowed them to cut military spending, improve relations with the US and thus attempt to improve the domestic situation.

10-08-2002, 03:19 AM
First off, I would like to apologise for the misunderstanding my earlier post may have caused among the readers, especially to Daniel. It is not my intention to be anti semitic or anti jew. Please excuse me, because my english being a second language is not as good as it should be.

My goal was actually to say out what many people dare not say out loud for fear of being accused as anti semitic. Just because a dictator is one religion or another, doesn't mean he represents that religion or the entire race. e.g. don't blame the Germans for having Hitler as their leader at one time (or was he really a German?), don't blame the Jews for having Sharon as their leader right now, don't blame the Iraqi's for having Saddam and don't blame the Americans for having Bush.

Each of these aforementioned nations have produced/ and continued producing excellant people. Almost half of Islam's prophets preceeding Mohammad pbuh was a Jew, so please believe me when I say I have nothing against the Jews in that sense. But what I wonder is how can the leaders of such great countries go out there and create war and strife?

It doesn't make sense for people to kill each other for property/treasure/money/oil/relics but that's what is happening today and yesterday. Remember the crusades that started the massacre of Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem? That started because the Christians who were fighting in europe at the time ganged up under the leadership of the pope to 'free' Jesus's birthplace. In the end, they managed to do it but they ended up not knowing how to run the city once they had it. Does this mean Christians are bad? I don't think so. It meant there was one bad apple that incited some greedy people to pillage and plunder and get away from it in the eyes of 'God'.

I read that link Opher posted and yes I did read those last pages of the Iraq thread. I didn't post there again, because I must admit that I'm not in the same league as you guys when churning out the facts. Just when I thought that the world is terribly one sided in the Israel-Palestinians-Iraq issue, I read posts like this and it changes my mind. That's why I continue to post here in Aikiweb, because I have great respect for the people here and the maturity they bring in these highly sensitive issues.

With regards to Opher's link. I'm no expert, but I believe I represent the majority of young muslims in my country in my opinion (I hope) that Islam has never asked us to fight over worldly matters. To defend our rights and that of our brethren yes, not for gaining power and wealth. To fight for relics? I don't think so, because I doubt that killing innocent people for Jerusalem is going to get you to heaven. God ask muslims to

Swear fealty to Him

pray 5 times a day

Fast in the month of ramadhan

Give alms (zakat)

Go to hajj if you can

No where does it say, go kill people and fight for the world. As for the prophet and jerusalem... in my limited knowledge I believe that Jerusalem wasn't mentioned as the place where he ascended to heaven. In fact the place it self wasn't clearly mentioned. There is a reference to a rock that wanted to follow his ascension but the angel gabriel stopped it halfway, so its out there floating to this day... but again I'm not terribly clear about this. I have to check.

You know, there are millions of people out there in the world who want to live peacefully with each other. I'm one of those hopefulls. Why is that among these millions, none of them managed to become the rulers of those warlike and troubled countries? Wouldn't the world be a better place when we have nicer people as our leaders?

Opher thanks for being the peacekeeper of sorts, although I must stress again, I've no intention of arguing with people for the sake of arguing. To me it is all about moderation or wassatiah in Islam.

Paul, you are right. We believe in the people of the book (zabur, torah and bible). We never sought any war with the three. If you check the history of Islam, it has always sought peace. In the recent years, I have no idea why its been made so perverse. These wars are not Islamic to me exactly. But then, if you judge the Isreal-palestinian conflict, I don't really think its religion. Its more about land, water, oil. Palestinians are going to lose anyway, with the death toll at nearly 2000 since Intifada, 1600 are palestinians and 300+ Isrealites.

Daniel, sorry again if I offended you.

10-08-2002, 03:32 AM
Btw, saying that there are no direct flights to heaven except from Jerusalem sounds like a joke to me. I don't know if anyone should take that or the 'islamic scholar' seriously.

As for the quote, the 'many Arab rulers consider the Islamic holy places in Jerusalem the property of the entire nation of Islam', that's true I suppose in the sense that in Islam we are all brothers. But trying telling those Arab rulers about Mekkah being ours as well, and possibly all those oil fields being the property of the entire nation of Islam and see how they respond. If you adopt consistent non-consistency in your application of law and action, your words count for nothing.

10-08-2002, 09:45 AM
My goal was actually to say out what many people dare not say out loud for fear of being accused as anti semitic.
This is an interesting and important issue - the difference between an anti-Israeli and an anti-Semitic opinion, or an anti-PLO vs. an anti-Arab or anti-Muslim thought. I think I saw a similar discussion on some other thread around here.

There're two completely different panes here: the personal level, and the free speech level. On the personal level, you're always running the risk of offending someone's ethnic sentiments, especially while debating such a controversial issue. Many Jewish people have very little tolerance to anti-Israeli rhetoric. They interpret it as anti-Semitism and, many of them being victims of Nazi persecution or just of plain old "domestic" flavor of anti-Semitism, react in an exaggerated, but understandable, way.

On the other hand, there's a clear and objective connection between the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the rise of anti-Semitic acts, and the rising one-sidedness in the opinions on the conflict. Harvard University President, Lawrence Summers, spoke about this recently (http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=3299)

As Ahmad says, some critics of Israel are afraid of voicing their opinions for fear of being perceived as anti-Semitic. All I can say to this is that as long as the criticism is directed at concrete people or actions rather than at the whole ethnic group, and is based on facts and sound reason, it should be accepted and taken into consideration.
I didn't post there again, because I must admit that I'm not in the same league as you guys when churning out the facts.I'm with you on this one, Ahmad - sometimes I need to get help from my bookshelf or from Google in order to catch up with Opher and Paul, probably with not too much success ;)

10-08-2002, 10:15 AM
First off, I would like to apologise for the misunderstanding my earlier post may have caused among the readers, especially to Daniel. It is not my intention to be anti semitic or anti jew. Please excuse me, because my english being a second language is not as good as it should be.Ahmad, I really appreciate that.

I actually have sort of an interesting story to tell about the probelms of communication and miscommunication across the divide. I grew up in the United States in a small mid-western city. Our next door neighbors were very nice people with three daughters and me and my sister played with them regularly when we were growing up. Some years after I'd moved to Israel, I learned that the family's eldest daughter had met a Palestinian man in graduate school, married him, and was currently living with him in Gaza.

I acquired their phone number through their parents and called her up. (This was, I believe, before the Oslo accords). We were both fairly excited about the idea of getting together. It took some negotiation to figure out a place that would be mutually comfortable. For instance, the first time we were to meet at a hotel in East Jerusalem there were some major riots in East Jerusalem and I was not sure I was comfortable crossing over that day.

In the end, we met in a small coffee shop on the West side of Jerusalem. It was clear that we both thought of ourselves as very moderate and open minded. It was clear that the pleasure of meeting someone from the past was what had really brought us together. We both made efforts to stay off of political issues, or to broach them in a way that we felt expressed our respect and understanding of the complexities of both sides. It took about 10 minutes before we were both yelling and angry. We talked for about half an hour, getting angrier and angrier until eventually we just decided to call it a night and never tried again.

This conversation accompanies me as the consistent metaphor that I bring to trying to understand the emotions and intentions of people involved in this conflict.

10-08-2002, 10:20 AM
By the way, Ahmad, I honestly think that the question of how, and with what legitimacy, the Jewish lobby affects American policy is a worthwhile topic. It's particularly interesting as the Muslim population and political activism has grown in both Europe and the United States. If the U.S. is supporting Israel primarily because of the Jewish lobby (which I'm not sure I believe) than this is likely to be a temporary situation. Of course, similar charges are leveled by the other side: European identification with the Palestinians is blamed variously on the power of the Muslim lobby in a number of European countries as well as on anti-semitism. It seems to me that there is no question that Europeans are anti-semitic (some, of course, more than others). I understand, though, that they are also often anti-arab.

10-08-2002, 10:52 AM
I have a more optimistic story to tell.

One day a Tunisian student started bombarding me with ICQ messages of the kind "Sharon is a killer, Sharon is a criminal" and other nice stuff like that. I sat there for a while, trying to decide how to react - ignore, bombard him back? I finally decided to politely ask him why he thought that information would be of any interest to me. He responded that I'm one of those nasty Israelis how only dream of killing all Arabs and taking over the Middle East. I asked him again how did he reach this conclusion, and then asked him how he, being a reasonable university student, thought it to be appropriate to insult people he didn't know over the internet. He responded with a question how do Israelis find it appropriate to kill innocent Palestinians... Long story short, we managed to agree that the majority of Israelis are not at all like that, that for all he knew I could be a very active member of the "Peace Now" movement, and it was very unreasonable to attack me the way he did. He told me he wasn't anti-Semitic, he was just frustrated and disappointed that the Israeli people didn't do more to stop the violence. We both agreed that the two sides needed to do more in this direction.

His last message to me was "Peace be on you".

I regret I couldn't maintain the same calmness when Ahmad joined our discussion. Bottom line is, it's easy and convenient to hate a nation, but once you get to know real people, it's a completely different story.

Jim ashby
10-08-2002, 12:43 PM
Opher. What a generalisation. "it seems to me that there is no question that europeans are anti semitic...". As a scientist you should know better, as a European I feel insulted.

10-08-2002, 01:06 PM
Hi Jim,

Maybe it's not my place to defend Opher here, but I'd suggest that you take this phrase in the context of the discussion and in the context of all other Opher's posts, which consistently have been far above the average correctness level around here.

My take on Opher's comment was that statistically and historically, the amount of anti-Semitism in Europe has been high, probably more so in the Eastern Europe, and I think you would agree that lately it's been on the rise again.

10-08-2002, 01:13 PM
Yeah, Jim, I wondered if someone was going to call me on that. I probably should have said something more along the lines of 'anti-semitism is a serious force in European society and politics.' Perhaps I didn't phrase it better because I'm not sure exactly what would constitute an accurate statement. Can you help me out?

For the record, it is vanishingly rare that any European has given me an impression -- even the mildest one -- that he or she harbors any hostility towards me for my judaism or, for that matter, for my nationality.

10-08-2002, 02:04 PM
I agree with Opher. My last visit to Europe last spring left me with no impressions of any anti Jewish sentiment at all. Though I am a couple generations away, I am fairly aware of it.

10-08-2002, 02:18 PM
I rooted around a little on the web trying to find a page I'd once come across of wildly anti-semitic articles in the recent Italian press. I didn't find it right away, but what I found instead was a study commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League (a Jewish watchdog group that has worked very succesfully against anti-semitism in the U.S.) from an independent agency on anti-semitic attitudes in Europe. The url is here ADL European survey (http://www.adl.org/anti_semitism/as_eu_survey.asp). The text on this page reads a little like a diatribe, but a brief look at the report (a link in the upper right hand corner) makes it seem reasonably professional. Here are some of their major findings:[list=1] The data indicates that nearly a third of European respondents, 30 percent, harbor some traditional anti-Jewish views. A plurality of Europeans, 45 percent, responded that it is ?probably true? to characterize Jews as being more loyal to Israel than to their own country. 30 percent of the respondents believe that Jews have too much power in the business world. 19 percent believe that Jews do not care what happens to anyone but their own kind. 16 percent say that Jews are more willing than others to use shady practices to get what they want. Among those in the five countries surveyed, Belgian, German, and French respondents are the most likely to hold a prejudiced view of Jews while British and Danish respondents are the least likely.[/list=1]Of course, I have no idea what would be comparable figures in the U.S. or regarding European attitudes towards muslims or even regarding Israeli attitudes towards jews. It is a timeless joke in Israel that in order to really understand anti-semitism, you just need to go live in Israel for a while.

Jim ashby
10-09-2002, 03:36 AM
Hi Opher. The survey was probably correct in its way. As with all surveys, the demographics of the respondents should be taken into account. Turning the idea on its head (and I'm probably going to get flamed for this) it could be said that America is heavily pro-Zionist, particularly taking into account the heavy financial support that the government gives Israel.

For the record I am an atheist and I have no axe to grind either way.

Have fun.

10-09-2002, 07:48 AM
Yes, I think what you say about the survey and demographics is absolutely correct. For the record, a similar survey commissioned by the ADL but (or course) performed by an American organization found levels of 'anti-semitic attitudes' that are about 1/2 to 2/3 of the European levels (this is me comparing across the surveys, not them).
Turning the idea on its head (and I'm probably going to get flamed for this) it could be said that America is heavily pro-Zionist, particularly taking into account the heavy financial support that the government gives Israel.Actually, that idea (expressed in this thread by Ahmad) was what got us on the issue of European anti-semitism.

America has been a supporter of Israel (and also a supporter of Zionism, although these, again, are two different things). Ahmad suggested that the reason America supports Israel is because of the political influence of Jewish Americans. Now, there is almost no question that that is at least partially true. There are, however, interesting questions about how much influence Jewish Americans can legitimately have on American policy. There is a separate question regarding whether or not this represents some sort of violation of church and state. That is: is it more like Catholic American opposition to abortion or is it more like Cuban American opposition to normalization of relations with Cuba (neither is a cause I'm particularly comfortable being associated with:freaky: although it's worth pointing out that both are seen as legitimate exercises of democratic power).

However, leaving all those interesting questions aside what Daniel and I did was to bring up a different sort of comparison. We suggested that even if American support of Israel represents some sort of weird 'love of the jews,' that is not much different than the claim that European support of the Palestinians is influenced by some sort of weird 'dislike of the jews.' I guess we're running an argument that says, 'some people like you and some people hate you, and the important thing is to know who your friends are.' (a very Israeli philosophy in many ways).

I'm sure there is more to the European leaning than anti-semitism, just as I'm sure there is more to the American position than the Jewish lobby or a strange love of the jews.

10-09-2002, 08:22 AM
I just read that during the peace negotiations with Egypt, the Carter administration was pushing for a deal that would include the fate of the West Bank and Gaza, and this was unacceptable to Begin, so Dayan (the minister of defence?) threatened Carter to complain to the Jewish lobby unless Carter backed off. Carter was very concerned about his chances of being reelected, so he did back off. This didn't help him, of course.

Later, Reagan's position of Israel being the only true friend of the US in the Middle East in the battle against the Soviet expansion, was sort of a carte blanche for Israel.

In the absence of the Soviet bloc, it seems that the American support for Israel becomes less and less "automatic", and Israel has to rely more on the supporters of Israel in the American politics to obtain a favorable disposition from the US.

10-09-2002, 08:30 AM
Going back to the argument about the water resources - this article (http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=217238&contrassID=2&subContrassID=4&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y) suggests Syria will have Lebanon divert water sources to provoke Israel and disrupt the attempts of normalization on the Israel-Lebanon border. The goal being - no normalization until the Golan Heights are returned.

10-09-2002, 09:37 AM
Here's an impassioned opinion piece in Ha'aretz that's worth reading: Greater Sodom and its Daughters (http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=217632&contrassID=2&subContrassID=4&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y)

10-09-2002, 09:56 AM
Greater Sodom and its Daughters
Agree with every word. Sarid disappointed me in the past for not holding his promise not to join the coalition with religious parties, but when it comes to the settlers, I share his opinion.

Jim ashby
10-09-2002, 12:46 PM
I read the piece. Very interesting. BTW, on a less serious note, what was the sin at Gomorrah? Just curious.

Have fun.

10-10-2002, 07:50 AM
OK, i'm back but only for a short while cause my brother needs the net.

With regards to the Hijra' of our Prophet:

Surah Al Aqsa (6:1). 'Glory to (God) Who did take His Servant For a Journey by night From the Sacred Mosque (a) To the Farthest Mosque (b) Whose precincts We did Bless, - in order that We Might show him some Of Our Signs : for He Is the One Who heareth And seeth (all things).(1)

a. in Arabic as you are suppose to read it in quraan is pronounced masjid'il haraam. (or our Kaabah in Mekkah).

b. in Arabic is masjidul Aqsaa which is the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem on the hill of Moriah, at or near which stands the Dome of the Rock. Also called the Mosque of Hadhrat Umar. Don't be confused with the present mosque called Masjidil Aqsaa which was built at this same place by Amir (king) Abdul Malik in AH 68 (the year of hijrah 68 or about 610AD, I might be wrong this calculation is from the top of my head). Its in the same place, but came later.

The temple itself was the place of worship farthest west which was known to the Arabs in the time of the holy Prophet. It was a sacred place to both Jews and Christians, but the Christians then had the upper hand, as it was included in the Byzantine (Roman) empire, which maintained a Patriach in Jerusalem. The chief dates in connection with the Temple are:

it was finished by Soloman about BC 1004, destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar about 586 BC, rebuilt under Ezra and Nehemiah about 515 BC, turned into a heathen idol temple by one of Alexander's successors, Antiochus Epiphanes 167BC, restored by Herod 17BC to 29AD. and completely razed to the ground by the Emperor Titus in AD70.

So, my mistake again in the previous post. The travelling to heaven by our Prophet Muhammad did take place from Jerusalem after coming from Mekkah. That same place where the rock tried to follow where there is now a dome.

10-10-2002, 12:32 PM
So, Ahmad, if I was to sum up what I perceive to be the concensus view among left-centrist Israelis, it would be something like this:

Regardless of the right and wrong of the situation, it is unlikely that progress will be made without some serious shift in approach on one side or the other. On the Palestinian side, the most obvious shift in approach would be a unilateral decision to abandon terror. This would produce immediate and far reaching political change in Israel, and would break the stalemate. On the Israeli side, a change in approach seems impossible as long as the right wing remains in power. This is largely because the Israeli right sees that its current approach is achieving the right's objective of increasing Israeli sovereignity in the West Bank and Gaza, tabling any possibility of compromise in the Golan Heights, and improving Israel's eventual bargaining position when peace talks eventually come. So, people on the center-left work to make it clear to the Israeli public that the policies of the right are not, ultimately, in Israel's best interest. However, the concensus understanding is that as long as terror continues, it's difficult to imagine the public voting for a left wing candidate (well, it's also a problem that the left wing has no popular candidates to put forward, but that's a separate issue). Thus, the Israelis ultimately feel that, without entering into the issues of right and wrong, only a Palestinian decision to stop targetting civilians is likely to move the peace process forward. There are, therefore, regular discussions in the Israeli press about how likely this is to happen. The recent reports (actually a growing trend since Operation Defensive Shield) indicate that this is, indeed, a practical possibility. Many Israelis believe that much of the violence currently being perpetrated by the IDF is expressly designed to prevent the Palestinians from adopting a more limited military approach.

I have some sympathy for this point of view, although I have my reservations about it as well. Do you think you could detail for me, to the best of your understanding, how you (or the people you know) see a way forward?

10-10-2002, 12:52 PM
I have some sympathy for this point of view, although I have my reservations about it as well.
Opher, would you mind telling what are your reservations about this point of view? Specifically, do you think there's a downside to the immediate cessation of violence by the Palestinians as the most feasible way to get any progress?

10-10-2002, 05:12 PM
Daniel, breifly because I have to run, I think that I've developed a habit of being suspicious of myself whenever I imagine that the best way to solve the problem is for the other guy to do something. This happens to me a lot in interpersonal relationship ('it could be so easy if you would just ...'), it happens to me on the mat, and it often happens when I think of the history of the Arab / Israeli conflict. I feel like my questions to myself should be about what I can do, and if my answers are about what the other person can do then I'm probably missing something.

Specifically, without condoning any use of force by Palestinians, I wonder whether the most feasible next step would actually be a series of coordinated and serious challenges through the Israeli Supreme Court to various aspects of the occupation and Israel's military presence in the territories. Perhaps someone should go to the supreme court with a claim that Israel needs to either assume responsibility for the Palestinian civil structure or operate in a way that permits the PA to exercise its own responsibility there. If there was a constant stream of such cases, and some of them won, that might be a first step towards giving Palestinians a sense that violence is not their only option. It's not a great idea; there's a lot wrong with it. Still, it's an example of me taking responsibility instead of sloughing it off.

10-10-2002, 10:00 PM

My view will be entirely simplistic compared to the thorough analysis you have given the situation. The fact that I've not been exposed to Israel and Palestinian culture, country and people alone makes me a target.

But speaking as a human being, I believe in the cause and effect of things.

1. The palestinians and their acts of terror - rock throwing and suicide bombings.

2. The Israel army - missiles, helicopters, demolition and destruction of homes.

3. The piece of land being fought over - Israel settlers, contested lands and holy places.

1. This looks to me as almost desperate measures taken by a somewhat oppressed people. Granted, I wouldn't want some citizens of other states to come bombing themselves in the midst of civilians just because they are oppressed or poor. But what would make them stop? If I stop hurting them would they stop? Or are they asking for something that is not theirs? Or something that I cannot or will not give away?

As a suicide bomber, you know your fate is sealed. You will die. Why do it if you are asking for material gains i.e. land, money? Since you won't be there to use it. It just feels like a desperate final attempt of taking the enemy down with you. (Please understand, that under the rules of war in Islam, you cannot suicide. That alone will have you die a non-believer. Also you cannot harm a civilian, women and children and those that have given up.) These people no longer have faith in anything I think. Neither God nor man.

2. You are responding in kind. Or is it viewed as gradual occupation of contested lands. Sort of like, I have arms, I settle the lands therefore its mine. If you attack me, the army retaliates and also establishes a wide border for safety margin.

For me, if my enemy attacks my safety, be it with rocks or bombs, I'll use all of my arsenal to deal with it. Just because my enemy is still in the stone age, doesn't mean I have to regress to his level. But given the superiority israel have in terms of arsenal, I doubt the palestinians are trying to conquer the lands from israel. So who exactly is defending and who is the aggressor?

3. Lastly, if its about these material things, can't we have an autonomous body to oversee its fair dispersal? A joint governing body of interested parties be set up to managed these lands. Its costs/excesses limited to within its boundaries alone. The world must get involved because Israel-Palestine effects the world. I'm talking about holistic effect here, but real effects with great consequences.

The problem is also probably an economic one. But I seriously believe, if both cooperate then both Israel and Palestinians can prosper there together. If it goes on like this, both sides will lose. Assets get destroyed, people killed, resources misused are not the way to greater economic prosperity.

The left wing can convince the people that their way is better. All it takes is a graphical presentation of the neverending cycle of destruction. Neither side can withdraw without first believing the other side is going to keep to its end of the bargain, therefore you would need to have a watchdog with the appointed power of making it happen. This of course is not democratic nor is it in keeping with the states sovereign rights. But then, who said democratic was good?

Is it really good when the elitist who rules in the name of democracy wage war and in turn is responded in kind?

People are basically good I would think. Isrealites don't want to kill people nor do they want to be bombed or living in fear. Palestinians don't want to do suicide bombings, nor do they want to be shot at or living in fear. That basic agreement alone is enough to cooperate. But the problem is, people don't decide. Rulers do.

As long as you have fanatical rulers who would do as they please, you cannot change things.

Lastly, if this was me. And as long as I perceive that the majority of Israelites are decent human beings that will hold true to their word and would not discriminate. Since, Israel is the dominating power of Israel and etc, let the governments merge. Let the rulers rule both and employ the assets of the country in a fair fashion. A common citizenship in a common state. Let the world be the judge. And after a preset number of years/decades, let the process of government take place in a more democratic fashion.


10-11-2002, 08:44 AM
I wonder whether the most feasible next step would actually be a series of coordinated and serious challenges through the Israeli Supreme Court to various aspects of the occupation and Israel's military presence in the territories.
An interesting scenario. If I remember correctly, one such challenge took place when a number of Israeli reservists refused to fulfill their military service on the occupied territories. Not sure how it ended though. It seems that the Supreme Court is able to handle smaller-scale issues related to the conflict (like uphelding the house demolitions and relatives-of-terrorists deportations, or freezing the use of the human shield tactics by the IDF), but I wonder if it would ever take on such huge issue as legality of occupation. My feeling (totally uninformed - were there any precedents?) is that such challenges would have no practical effect, but would probably have a symbolic value. Anyway, it's hard to imagine this happening, considering the current state of the Israeli public opinion.

In addition, suggesting that the Palestinians stop the terror campaign in order to "give peace a chance" (sorry) doesn't seem to me like sloughing off responsibility. The responsibility would still be on Israelis to elect appropriate leadership and support appropriate policy.

10-11-2002, 09:17 AM
Ahmad, so many nice thoughts. So much I'd like to say. I don't think there are any points where I either particularly agree or particularly disagree with you, but there are some things that you said that provoked thoughts and ideas in me:
Granted, I wouldn't want some citizens of other states to come bombing themselves in the midst of civilians just because they are oppressed or poor. But what would make them stop?I'm willing for someone to disagree with me on this, but it seems pretty clear to me that there is a correlation between the financial benefits reaped by the families of the bombers and the willingness of people to bomb. Israel effectively put a stop to terrorist activities from within the territories towards the end of the first intifida using the (highly controversial) technique of destroying the homes of their families. Similarly, volunteerism for terrorism has grown in direct proportion to the financial support and social recognition awarded the families within the territories of the PA.
You are responding in kind. Or is it viewed as gradual occupation of contested lands.Certainly depends on who you ask and whether they are on or off record. The idea that Palestinian lands would be gradually occupied using a combination of legitimate, underhanded and downright brutal means was seriously discussed by some of the earliest Zionists who later formed the poltical party that eventually became the likud. On the other hand, it seems like most or at least many of the founders of Zionism and eventual political leaders of Israel had an honest interest in finding ways to reach settlements with their neighbors. They were, though, certainly interested in finding settlements that served their interests as well as possible.
For me, if my enemy attacks my safety, be it with rocks or bombs, I'll use all of my arsenal to deal with it.Israelis consistently, and across a wide political spectrum, point out the relative restrain of the armed forces. This understanding seems to be changing a little recently as a number of completely inexplicable uses of arbitrary and overwhelming force have caused them to question whether the army is really showing all possible restraint. One of the chief examples of restraint in the Israeli mindset is the way in which the effort to avoid civilian deaths in Jenin lead to the loss of 13 soldiers in an ambush. An example of lack of restraint is the 1 ton bomb that killed the Hamas leader Salah Shehada as well as 14 civilians of which 11 were children.

The Israelis attitude towards their own military, the balance between Israel as a military state and Israel as a democracy, and the question of the way that the values of the military and the values of the civilian culture influence each other is a long, complicated, and fascinating question.
But given the superiority israel have in terms of arsenal, I doubt the palestinians are trying to conquer the lands from israel. So who exactly is defending and who is the aggressor?I think the idea is that the Palestinians are trying to provoke the world or at least the surrounding Arab states into taking a more active role in settling the issue. Their attacks -- from way back in the old terror days of the PLO through to the first and second intifidah -- are primarily designed to draw attention to the issue and to try to create a situation in which a solution is forced on Israel. This is not entirely true because it seems that after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon many Palestinians became convinced that by extracting a sufficiently high cost in Israeli lives they would be able to influence Israeli public opinion directly. They likened the occupation to the Lebanon occupation, to the American presence in Vietnam and to the French colonial government in Algiers. In all these cases, sufficently committed guerilla warfare or terrorism eventually drove the cost of occupation beyond what the occupier was willing to endure and the occupation collapsed, as it were, 'from within.' I believe that by about the end of the first half year, and certainly after Operation Defensive Shield, most of the Palestinians had stopped considering this as a viable option. Unfortunately, though, my impression of Palestinian public opinion is not based on any real knowledge.
Lastly, if its about these material things, can't we have an autonomous body to oversee its fair dispersal?Ultimately, this devolves back into an issue of trust. If two peoples (or two people) trust each other, then it is usually easy to cooperate and find mutually agreeable solutions to conflicts. If they do not then it is very, very hard. The premise of the Oslo accords (now seen as misguided by a large percentage of people on both sides) is that trust could be built slowly, after which cooperation on difficult issues would be easier. The alternative is an approach closer to two lawyers hammering out a contract between people who don't like each other. Each side assumes the other side is going to try as hard as they can to cheat, and the contract is written so that both sides feel like it protects them adequately against this. Enforcement becomes a central issue because clauses of the contract that are unenforceable, no matter how fair and just they may be, will usually be ignored. Thus, Israel had no way to limit the Palestinian authority security forces to the numbers agreed on in the Oslo accords. Similarly, the Palestinians had no way to force Israel to control and discipline the populatoin of settlers who often took the law into their hands in various vigilante activities. These unenforceable parts of the agreement led to further deterioration of trust instead of a buildup of trust. Unfortunately, when two people are really angry at each other it is sometimes necessary to wait until they are tired of shouting or hitting each other before any discussion can really begin.
But the problem is, people don't decide. Rulers do.The people on both sides of the conflict have (until quite recently) been significantly less pacifist than their rulers. There was a widespread feeling on both sides that the compromises discussed at Camp David and later in Taba were much greater than either side was really willing to contemplate. The problem here is, I believe, really between the people and the rulers simply reflect this.

Hope this is interesting to you. Certainly interested to hear reactions from anybody.