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Old 10-01-2002, 02:06 PM   #251
opherdonchin
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
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I'm going to swing in on some of the Israel stuff. Hope no one minds.
Quote:
Daniel Rozenbaum wrote:
I just figured from your previous posts that you're a reasonable and thoughtful person, and as such, you might agree that the fact that some people in Israel discuss the transfer policy towards the Palestinians is not enough to reach the conclusion about Israel being a racist country. Desperate - maybe. Out of options - possibly. Racist - never. This problem is very far from being black-and-white, and in my view should be treated as such.
Completely separate from questions of the right of return or transfer, it is silly to claim that Israel isn't racist. The most blatantly racist behavior of the Israeli governments through the years has been a consistent disparity in the funding provided to arab and jewish municipalities (within '48 Israel), the relative treatment by the government of arab and jewish business initiatives, and the treatment by the ministry of the interior of the issue of appropriate zoning for housing in arab and jewish communities.

I would probably also argue that Israelis are, on the whole, racist, but that's a separate (and unnecessary) argument. From any racist tendency in the culture (bolstered for many years, and perhaps to this day, by racist portrayals of stereotypes in textbooks and newspapers) to a claim that Israelis 'hate' Arabs or want to kill / transfer /exterminate them is a long way. The latter is almost certainly not true.
Quote:
Paul Clark wrote:
1. When Israelis talk about "transportation" (the word I've read in most stuff in English), do they usually mean movement of Arabs out of the Occupied Territories, or out of Israel proper, or both, or none of the above?
Like Daniel said, transfer is only advocated by a very small minority of Israelis and considered unjust and inhumane by the vast majority. The majority of those who advocate transfer are talking about transfer of the of Arabs in the West Bank (and Gaza?). They point to a variety of historically 'succesful' examples of transfer that I don't currently recall but I believe includes the Turks and the Greeks among others.

There is also currently talk about a certain amount of 'population redistribution' (of both Arabs and Jews) to make a final border between Israel and a potential Palestinian state easier to draw. Indeed, even without actually moving people, Arabs within Israel are angry about the Israeli suggestion that some of the jewish settlements within the territories would be incorporated into Israel and in exchange certain Arab territories currently within Israel would be incorporated into the new Palestinian state. They consider this sort of 'removal' of Arabs from Israel to be a form of transfer, although there is plenty of historical precendent for such an arrangement.
Quote:
Paul Clark wrote:
2.Regarding right of return, a complex issue and no doubt. I've often wondered how an Israeli explains that to himself and to others. Now's my chance- can you take a swing at "why is it "democratic" that any Jew can come to Israel and be a citizen in a week, but no Arab who didn't or couldn't stay through the '48 war can do so?"
Quota systems are in place in every democratic country and reflect the fact that all culture is racist and has racial preferences. Choosing who is and is not allowed to become a citizen is a perogative of each country and does not affect it's character as a 'democracy' (which has to do with rights being awarded to citizens without prejudice).

Most Israeli's feel that when there comes to be a Palestinian state one expects that it will offer Palestinians (or whoever it wants) a right of return. One also expects that it will frown on and actively discourage excessive jewish immigration.
Quote:
Paul Clark wrote:
3. As an afterthought to 1 above, I guess an obvious question becomes something like "if "transportation" is something that Israelis can contemplate, how would they explain that this would be different from the ethnic cleansing that Milosevic attempted in Kosovo in 1999?"
Well, I certainly don't want to get in the position of defending either transfer or its advocates. However, if I were to try to make sense of the different things I've heard people say, the argument would be that there is a difference betweeen 'ethnic cleansing' (which usually means massacre) and 'repatriation.' The policy of transfer that is publicly advocated (again, by a vanishingly small minority) would supposedly be a primarily voluntary transfer in which the Palestinians were offered 'just compensation' for the property and leand they left behind. It would be, supposedly, be coordinated with the host countries into which the Palestinians would be transported. Etc. It's almost always wrong to bring up parallels to Nazi Germany, but I think the appropriate parallel would be to the German policy of encouraging Jews to emigrate in the 30s before the war and the concentration camps. Simlar ideas of repatriation to Africa were, I believe, discussed for the blacks in the United States before and after the civil war. It's easy to trick yourself into believing something like that might be humane and generous, although I imagine that it would be hard to come up with a historical precedent in which it actually was that way.

Hope this helps. Daniel, if your answers are different, feel free to contradict me wholesale.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 10-01-2002, 02:46 PM   #252
Paul Clark
Dojo: Yellow Springs Aikido
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Opher,

Don't mind at all, good swing.
Quote:
They consider this sort of 'removal' of Arabs from Israel to be a form of transfer, although there is plenty of historical precendent for such an arrangement.
Can you give some examples? None come immediately to mind for me.
Quote:
Choosing who is and is not allowed to become a citizen is a perogative of each country and does not affect it's character as a 'democracy' (which has to do with rights being awarded to citizens without prejudice).
True, immigration policy is a sovereign perogative, but I'm not aware of other examples where quotas are set by religion. Are you? For all I know the US does it, too, but somehow I doubt it.

I've read a couple of studies out of Israeli universities that indicate Jews becoming a minority among citizens of Israel sometime before 2050, all because of natural birth rates etc. Of course, it's tough to say whether that projection will actually come true, but it makes for another interesting question. What will Israelis do, or more interesting, at what measures will they stop, in order to perpetuate Israel as a "Jewish state?" In the current climate, I'm sure it's tough to worry about something 50 years off, but one can't solve the ultimate problem without thinking about this one.

A new question, regarding the Occupied Territories. How do ordinary Israelis you know (I assume you know many?) feel about them? Part of Eretz Israel to be kept at all costs? An annoyance best got rid of as soon as a negotiated settlement can be reached? Annexation (refer to population above, it gets worse!)? Why not simply withdraw to the green line, build a really great wall, sign treaties with all the Arab countries who've said (Abdullah plan) they would do so with withdrawal to 67 borders, and have done?

One more while I'm at it, don't get much time lately. If we assume that Israel ultimately keeps sovereignty over the Haram as-Sharif/Temple Mount, what do Israelis plan to do with it? Does anyone actually think they can rebuilt the temple (or anything else) on the top without provoking WWIII? Is it just to guarantee access to the Western Wall? I suspect this is what worries Muslims most: if Israel wants to keep it that badly, they must plan to DO something with it, and all the possibilities that come immediately to mind are ugly.

Thoughts?

Paul
 
Old 10-01-2002, 03:46 PM   #253
opherdonchin
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Quote:
Paul wrote:
Quote:
I wrote:
They consider this sort of 'removal' of Arabs from Israel to be a form of transfer, although there is plenty of historical precendent for such an arrangement.
Can you give some examples? None come immediately to mind for me.
Got me there. Nothing really specific. Obviously the UN '47 proposal for Israel would be an example, although it was not implemented. I believe that there was a post-WWI redrawing of borders for the Balkans. Wouldn't the Louisana Purchase and the purchase of Alaska count? I think, in principal, if two sovereign nations reach an agreement about a shift in borders then it is not required that they consult the affected people.
Quote:
Paul wrote:
True, immigration policy is a sovereign perogative, but I'm not aware of other examples where quotas are set by religion. Are you? For all I know the US does it, too, but somehow I doubt it.
Ah, but here they are not set by religion, either. Remember that Judaism is not a religion, for these purposes, but an ethnicity.

Of course, it's very complicated because people can qualify for the right of return by converting to Judaism, but, on the other hand, jews who have converted to Islam would be just as eligible (although likely to be viewed a little more suspiciously by the Ministry of the Interior). In any case, the idea is that Israel is a state for the Jewish Nation rather than a seat or a state for the religion of judaism.

Yup, it's even more complicated than that. We don't really want to get into the issue of the senses in which judaism defines a people or a religion, do we? Anyway, I'm not sure that I see why immigration quotas are more appropriate if they are ethnically or religiously based. A person can change their religion if they really want to live somewhere, but they certainly can't change their ethnicity.
Quote:
Paul wrote:
I've read a couple of studies out of Israeli universities that indicate Jews becoming a minority among citizens of Israel sometime before 2050, all because of natural birth rates etc.
Yes. This issue can be quite a pre-occupation for some

Israelis.
Quote:
Paul wrote:
What will Israelis do, or more interesting, at what measures will they stop, in order to perpetuate Israel as a "Jewish state?"
I think that Israelis are divided and confused about this. Many Israelis feel that if Israel ultimately loses it's Jewish majority, that is just a natural progression of things. Many feel that reasonable and democratic measures -- encouraging immigration of jews, for instance -- are all that we can do. Of course, the attitude towards the Arab minority changes with the changing patterns of hostility between Israel and its neighbors, so it's conceivable that in a state of continuing and escalating hostilities, one would hear more and more from people who would deny Arab citizens their basic civil rights. In fact, as the years of hostility go on, their is a certain self-selection going on: people who are more comfortable living as an occupying power are the ones more likely to stay.

One can look at historical precedent, of course, and ask what the jews of Mandate Palestine were willing to do in order to assure a Jewish Majority, but I'm afraid we'd be opening a real ugly can of worms.
Quote:
Paul wrote:
How do ordinary Israelis you know (I assume you know many?)
I lived there for about 10 years. However, I'm not the only Israeli on this forum so maybe some others might see things differently.
Quote:
Paul wrote:
feel about them? Part of Eretz Israel to be kept at all costs? An annoyance best got rid of as soon as a negotiated settlement can be reached? Annexation (refer to population above, it gets worse!)? Why not simply withdraw to the green line, build a really great wall, sign treaties with all the Arab countries who've said (Abdullah plan) they would do so with withdrawal to 67 borders, and have done?
I would say the majority of Israelis support a withdrawal form most of the West Bank and Gaza with territorial exchange to allow Israel to keep the more established settlements (which include hundreds of thousands of people in relatively concentrated areas close to the border). Many Israelis (I don't think this is a majority but we'll know in the next elections) support a unilateral withdrawal such as you mentioned. However, it is important to note that a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza would not bring the Arab countries to sign a peace treaty since there is still the issue of the Golan Heights and Syria. Some Israelis support annexation of at least large parts of the West Bank(it has been claimed that Sharon is interested in this), but they are certainly not interested in doing so until a sufficient proportion of the territory is Israeli owned and jewish. Thus, they feel that the ongoing hostility plays into their hands as they continue to expand the territory allocated to each settlement and to make small settlements more established and to make established settlements a more integrated part of Israel. Understandably, the Palestinian's are quite worried about this.
Quote:
Paul wrote:
If we assume that Israel ultimately keeps sovereignty over the Haram as-Sharif/Temple Mount, what do Israelis plan to do with it? Does anyone actually think they can rebuilt the temple (or anything else) on the top without provoking WWIII? Is it just to guarantee access to the Western Wall?
I personally feel that Israel's handling of the delicate situation on the Temple Mount has been (uncharacteristically?) sensitive, in general. I think that it's hard for Israelis to imagine a split control in the old city of Jerusalem, generally. It's not a good place to be trying to have two separate armies. On top of that, the Temple Mount is not really a separate site from the Wailing Wall. People on the Temple Mount can drop (not throw, drop) stones on to worshippers at the wall, and they have done so. The issue is further complicated by questions of the archeology in and around the Mount as you may remember from the tunnel riots that happened when Netanyahu was prime minister. The idea of rebuilding the temple is even less popular than the idea of transfer in Israel. The vast majority of the population is secular, and even among the religious this idea has little serious adherents.

Hey Jun (if you are out there) maybe you should turn the stuff on Israel into a separate thread? I feel bad taking up all the Iraq/War bandwidth with out stuff, and if anyone is looking for it they wouldn't particularly know where to find it. (I can just imagine: "I think I'll go over to the AiKiDo Web Forums and see if there are any AiKi discussions on Israel I can participate in ....")

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 10-01-2002, 04:11 PM   #254
Paul Clark
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Opher,

Excellent post.
Quote:
Some Israelis support annexation of at least large parts of the West Bank(it has been claimed that Sharon is interested in this), but they are certainly not interested in doing so until a sufficient proportion of the territory is Israeli owned and jewish. Thus, they feel that the ongoing hostility plays into their hands as they continue to expand the territory allocated to each settlement and to make small settlements more established and to make established settlements a more integrated part of Israel. Understandably, the Palestinian's are quite worried about this
Next question. How does "territory (become) Israeli owned and Jewish"? Does the Israeli government simply decide that this or that parcel in the WB will become a settlement, or "allocated" to a settlement, and "ownership" simply becomes Jewish? Or, does it get bought by someone from someone?

What does the Geneva Conventions (1949) say about settling one's own people on occupied territory? Sorry, that one was rhetorical. How do Israelis work around that?

Paul
 
Old 10-01-2002, 04:38 PM   #255
opherdonchin
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All right. Now I'm doing the nono of posting here when I should be going to class. This will have to be short and then I can get back for more later if you like.
Quote:
Paul wrote:
How does "territory (become) Israeli owned and Jewish"? Does the Israeli government simply decide that this or that parcel in the WB will become a settlement, or "allocated" to a settlement, and "ownership" simply becomes Jewish? Or, does it get bought by someone from someone?
A lot of creative stuff with lawyers goes on, I think. Currently, their is very little chance of buying land off of Palestinians (although this used to be part of the game earlier on). However, land which was owned by the Kingdom of Jordan is potentially fair game. Apparently, this is a fair fraction of the land of the West Bank. Then, at least as far as I can tell, they are doing a lot of encroachment on individually owned land using various 'eminent domain' type laws that give them the right to seize lands or buildings for military purposes.

There seems to be a report on this issue by a group called B'Tselem, a widely respected group in Israel that covers human rights violations in the territories. If you go to http://www.btselem.org/ and click on Publications, the second or third one is called The Land Grab. I should read it.
Quote:
Paul wrote:
What does the Geneva Conventions (1949) say about settling one's own people on occupied territory? Sorry, that one was rhetorical. How do Israelis work around that?
I've wondered about this, too. It's a little bit tricky because the language of the Geneva convention clearly allows a certain amount of resettlement in cases of 'military necessity' with the stipulation that the populations would be returned 'at the end of hostilities.' Some would argue that the hostilities have not yet ended. It's also not clear from the language of the convention how active a role the government has to play before it is thought of as 'resettling' people into the occupied territories.

However, these are niceties. I think the majority of the Israelis who claim that the settlements are legal make the claim because they do not see the territories as being occupied territories under international law. I believe they are, to their mind, land legitimately conquered by Israel in a defensive war and to which Jews have a legitimate historical claim. My problem with that explanation (beyond the question of whether international law has a clear position on conquest of territory) is that Israel has never annexed the West Bank (as it did the Golan Heights and Jerusalem) and has not extended citizenship to its inhabitants.

I wasn't sure I was representing the position properly, so I went to look for something from people who actually run these arguments. The simplest and most elegant statement of the position was here:

http://www.likud.nl/govern09.html

A more extensive (but perhaps not deeper) legal argument was here:

http://zionsake.tripod.com/Legal_Status.htm

And finally something official from the government is here:

http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0c0y0

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 10-01-2002, 04:39 PM   #256
Paul Clark
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Opher,

Sorry, it was dinner time.
Quote:
It's not a good place to be trying to have two separate armies. On top of that, the Temple Mount is not really a separate site from the Wailing Wall. People on the Temple Mount can drop (not throw, drop) stones on to worshippers at the wall, and they have done so. The issue is further complicated by questions of the archeology in and around the Mount
What was the situation in divided Jerusalem before 1967 vis a vis armies or worshippers at the wall? Or better yet, what was the situation prior to 1948, or 1918? What I've read indicates that the Jews who wanted to pray at the Wall in Ottoman times were permitted to do so, and only in divided Jerusalem after 1948 were they prevented by stone throwers from the top of the Mount, at least on a pervasive level.

The archeology is an interesting question. So, do Israelis want to have sovereignty on the top of the mount and its environs so as to be freely able to tunnel under it to search for remnants of the temple, etc.? I guess this bothers Muslims who would worry that the tunneling might undermine the structures above and result in their collapse?

What do you make of Mr. Sharon's pilgrimage to the mount with 1000 police in Sept 2000? What was that designed to achieve, or to assert?

Paul
 
Old 10-01-2002, 05:34 PM   #257
opherdonchin
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Quote:
Paul wrote:
What was the situation in divided Jerusalem before 1967 vis a vis armies or worshippers at the wall? Or better yet, what was the situation prior to 1948, or 1918?
I am under the (strong) impression that all jews who lived in the old city were evicted in 1948 and between 1948 and 1967 no jews prayed at the wailing wall. Before 1948, the British government (and before them the Turks) gave relative independence to the religious / political leaders in governing their religious sites.
Quote:
Paul wrote:
So, do Israelis want to have sovereignty on the top of the mount and its environs so as to be freely able to tunnel under it to search for remnants of the temple, etc.? I guess this bothers Muslims who would worry that the tunneling might undermine the structures above and result in their collapse?
I don't know about under it, but in the vicinity of. There was a lot of propaganda in the Arab press about either undermining the foundations of the mosques on the temple mount or laying the foundations for the next temple. After the tunnel riots, Israel left the offending tunnel opened but apparnetly stopped further archeological excavation in consideration of Arab sentiments on the matter.
Quote:
Paul wrote:
What do you make of Mr. Sharon's pilgrimage to the mount with 1000 police in Sept 2000? What was that designed to achieve, or to assert?
Most Israelis interpret it as a message to the voters of the likud party. Sharon had wrested control of the party after Netanyahu's defeat in 1999, but Netanyahu was staging a come back and Sharon needed to do something to impress the voters. Sharon probably did not expect this to lead to the second intifidah and it's hard to imagine why he should have thought that. Remember that Barak was prime minister at the time. According to Barak there was nothing he could do to prevent Sharon from going to the mount. All he tried to do was ensure that the visit would pass with the least possible friction and greatest possible safety for both sides. It seems he did not do too well.

The number of policeman is something which I've heard people make a big deal out of, but

never heard anyone on the Israeli side relate to too much. It's easy to imagine why the Israeli police might feel that a large force was appropriate in that situation. I've heard it said that the entourage was guarded by a much smaller force but that police were on standby nearby in case of an outbreak of violence. This makes sense to me. It certainly does not make sense that 2000 policeman walked into the temple mount with Sharon. The physical scale of the site and the numbers of people doesn't really make sense. The reports indicate that the stone throwing did not begin until Sharon was actually leaving the site.

Of course, it's important to remember that, in general, the temple mount has been open for non-muslims to visit and that, if it is truly a holy site for muslims, then the casting of stones from the site or at visitors to the site could be seen as a questionable way to behave.

Most Israelis believe that the second intifadah (or the al aksa uprising) was planned well ahead of Sharon's visit and that the visit represented a convenient excuse. There is even an AP quote from a Palestinian minister to that effect.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 10-01-2002, 06:39 PM   #258
Paul Clark
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Opher,

Well, I read the three links. It seems to me that all three, ultimately rely fairly heavily on this notion of the ancestral home of the Jews etc. etc. To me, this is not a compelling argument on a number of counts.

1.The Hebrews were certainly not the first people to civilize what's now Palestine. Jerusalem is thought to date form around 3000 BC, 2000 years before the Jews took it. Up until 1000 BC when that happened, the Canaanites had been there an awful long time, often as vassals of Egypt but occasionally independent. The Hebrew kingdom then lasted from 1000 BC until 587 BC when Babylon conquered and took the Jews into exile. So ended the Hebrew reign over this homeland, a mere 413 years of 5000 years of recorded history (of course there was the Maccabean kingdom from 167-63BC, but that was it.) By the logic ultimately employed in the "historic homeland" argument, title would most reasonably be placed with Egypt if I read the history correctly. In any case, political arangements in the 20th century that are based on long-extinct Biblical empires don't seem to make much logical sense to me. Ultimately, it seems that the idea is that as long as a Jew lived in the holy land, or even if one just dreamed of returning to it, the Jewish claim was never relinquished. Romantic, yes; evidence of enduring faith, yes, legal? Not a lawyer, but it doesn't pass the common sense test for me.

2. The Balfour Declaration. When it was written in 1917, Britain did not actually have any right to dispose of Palestine as it wished. Further, even once it did with the end of Ottoman rule and WWI, the Balfour Declaration was simply a declaration of the policy of HM Government of the time and would not have carried much weight, I wouldn't think, as a matter of international law. It seems to me that the Mandate was championed by the then British Government based on the premise of their own declaration, and they then proceeded to administer it as they intended to do from the beginning. When they figured out that large scale Jewish immigration wasn't turning out to be that great an idea, they tried very hard to limit the damage. That the Zionists you mentioned in your first answer didn't agree with the limited ambitions that the British may have had for how to establish a Jewish home in Palestine does not mean that the Mandate "intended" any more than the Mandatory power saw fit to accomplish. I've read the Mandate stuff, and it does not say anything as specific about what land Jews would be "entitled" to in mandatory Palestine (certainly it does not mention Judea or Samaria, which were as archaic then as they are now) as the would be lawyer purports on his web entry.

3. Here's a quote from the text of the mandate:
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country; and . . .


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


The problem on both sides seems to be that each plays pretty loose in citing the primary sources. Clearly the Mandate did not intend that Palestinians already living there would be displaced, religiously or politically, by the creation of a Jewish Homeland.

the following added in editing session:

Had to break for a commercial. Anyway, I asked for the Israelis' arguments to get around some of the issues, thanks for giving the examples. What I wonder at, though, is what Americans believe, and should believe, and whether the two are even close. Seems to me the "legal" arguments really boil down to the 1948 boundaries with which Israel was admitted to the UN, return of refugees which was a condition discussed at the time of admission, etc. 242, which is supposed to have the weight of international law (which the Israeli sites seem to be fond of citing to justify the settlement thing) clearly cites the "inadmissability of the acquistion of territory by war". Citing stories from the Bible, or the Torah, is nice as anthropology but largely, in my view, irrelevant except as a distraction from the real issues. I wonder if that latter piece is the point?


Paul

Last edited by Paul Clark : 10-01-2002 at 06:52 PM.
 
Old 10-01-2002, 10:27 PM   #259
opherdonchin
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Quote:
Paul wrote:
To me, this is not a compelling argument on a number of counts.
Ok. If you really want a comprehensive critique of the Israeli government's position on settlements follow the B'Tselem link I posted. I read through it earlier and they really are good at giving clear, well articulated, comprehensive and strongly argued reports. If you are interested in someone who will do a more thorough job arguing FOR the Israeli government position on this, I'm not sure what exactly I can offer. I was only trying to give you the sense of the arguments, and I'm not sure I found links that the Israeli right would feel represented them at their best. They were just sort of the first things I found. I personally find arguments about the legality of the settlements, like the arguments about historical claims to the land on both sides, to be technically interesting but ultimately fruitless.
Quote:
Paul wrote:
The problem on both sides seems to be that each plays pretty loose in citing the primary sources.
Yes.
Quote:
Paul wrote:
What I wonder at, though, is what Americans believe, and should believe, and whether the two are even close.
I'm not sure that 'Americans' believe any one thing. Many of them are rabidly zionist -- more openly and agressively zionist than almost any Israeli I've met. Others are wildly hostile to Israel, with a hatred that borders on paranoid anti-semitism. I know that for me (although I am not an American) it is easier to focus on the simpler truths than to try to wrestle with the more complicated issues. For instance, I have mixed feelings (ie., both positive and negative) about those who have refused to serve in the territories recently; I have only admiration for friends of mine who were involved in smuggling food to Palestinian's during recent military operations. Or, for another instance, I get very confused when I try to understand the economics of suicide bombing -- the wealth that came to families until recently and the poverty inflicted by Israeli destruction of houses in reprisal. On the other hand, it is clear to me that the voices of moderation within the Arab world recently calling for an end to these attacks are voices of peace.

Like I have learned form AiKiDo so often: I make a choice to see a situation as a situation of conflict; I make a choice to perceive myself as vulnerable and threatened. These choices are not wrong, but they can often interfere with my ability to see more clearly into the reality of the situation.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 10-02-2002, 06:53 AM   #260
Paul Clark
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Opher,

First, you're staying up way too late, but I appreciate it anyway.
Quote:
. I personally find arguments about the legality of the settlements, like the arguments about historical claims to the land on both sides, to be technically interesting but ultimately fruitless
I agree wholehartedly, but both sides go there, the Israelis have to reach back farther, so one has to be prepared to discuss the history as it was when it inevetably comes up.

I also agree with your assessment regarding many Americans' being "rabidly Zionist". I was at school for a year with senior Air Force officers from all over the world, Israel and many Arab countries included, and the Arabs asked me why that is. Had to think about it for a long time, but here's my theory. Most of us were raised as Christians at least until we were old enough to convince our parents we could make our own choice (I'm still a practicing Catholic, but never mind). Anyway, I've noticed that when I hear the scripture readings every Sunday, the Hebrews, Israel, etc. get named between 10 and 30 times on average. I suspect this breeds a natural familiarity and comfort over the course of 10-20 years. Meanwhile, I recall that in my first 12 years of formal education, I probably got a single 1-hour class period each year in grades 8-12 on the Middle East history and Islam, and all of that was about the Crusades and their impact on Western development. At the same time, one sees the news, which only shows the bad stuff that happens, so that the only exposure most Americans get to Islam, Muslims, Palestinians, or Arabs is terrorism of one kind or another. So, quite naturally, and perhaps by benign neglect, we see Israel as a natural "good guy" and Palestinians and Arabs as natural "bad guys". A feeble theory, I know, but to friends I've explained it to, it makes sense, and they agree they have no real education on the subject, their opinions are wholly shaped by the "bad guy" image they see on the news.

So, I think better public policy is grounded in better education, but it'll be a long haul.

gotta go.

Paul
 
Old 10-02-2002, 08:05 AM   #261
DanielR
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Opher,
Quote:
Opher Donchin wrote:
Completely separate from questions of the right of return or transfer, it is silly to claim that Israel isn't racist.
Thanks for stopping by . I'm sure I wouldn't be able to provide such comprehensive responses as you did. The only thing I wanted to comment on is that my taking issue with the claim about the Israeli government being racist was in the context of the last intifadah. In my mind, the way Israel is handling the current situation has little to do with its discriminatory policy towards its arab population.

Daniel
 
Old 10-02-2002, 08:39 AM   #262
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Paul Clark wrote:
one has to be prepared to discuss the history as it was when it inevetably comes up.
Recently my wife took a course "History of the Arab-Israeli conflict" in the university. From what I could see, the professor was trying to be as objective as possible, given that his audience was almost equally divided between supporters of each side. As they went through all the history, there were countless examples of either side being a victim or a violator. I don't think that by the end of the semester there was anyone that switched sides...
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Paul Clark wrote:
So, quite naturally, and perhaps by benign neglect, we see Israel as a natural "good guy" and Palestinians and Arabs as natural "bad guys".
Well, I can only speak for myself here: being at the left side of the Israeli political spectrum, and being sympathetic to the suffering of Palestinian people, I still do believe that in the context of the last intifadah Israelis are the good guys. Let's say, "much better guys". I do believe that Israel acts in self-defence, and most of its actions are justified.

Actually, that's the scary thing - from what I can tell, the patience of the Israeli left is running out. The Palestinian side hasn't demonstratet its will or ability to stop this maddness. Calling for attacks to stop is one thing, making them stop is another.

Daniel
 
Old 10-02-2002, 09:26 AM   #263
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Paul wrote:
I also agree with your assessment regarding many Americans' being "rabidly Zionist"
Hey, no fair. My original statement was balanced, pointing out a tendency that I've seen in Americans to be extremist to both sides. You chose to pick up on one side of that statement and elaborate at length. No fair, but, of course, excellent rhetorical tactic.

I think that the tendency towards extremism on this issue in Americans comes largely out of their cultural emphasis on the myth of the struggle between good and evil. Almost every issue Americans confront (he said with gross, racist, and ignorant generalization) is ultimately reduced to a view in which one side is cast in the role of 'the forces of good' and the other side is cast in the role of 'the forces of evil.' The same happens in this case. I do not see a fundamental difference between the knee-jerk support of Israel by the American right or the knee-jerk sympathy for the Palestinian's by the American left. Both are born from the same amount of knowledge (deep in the case of some individuals and shallow in the case of others) and the same deep inability to accept that an issue is morally hopelessly complex and that ultimately one's sympathies are determined more by subjective identification than by anything else.

At least that's my knee-jerk iconoclastic view of things.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 10-02-2002, 11:15 AM   #264
Paul Clark
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Opher,

OK, foul. Didn't intend it that way, but I guess you could read it that way. My own experience is more with rabid Zionists than the other way around, so that's what I picked up on. Your formulation of our tendency to reduce everything to a simple conflict between "good" and "evil" is close to what I was getting at anyway--we do so much simplification that the average person never feels the need to know anything, they just form a strong opinion one way or the other.
Quote:
being at the left side of the Israeli political spectrum, and being sympathetic to the suffering of Palestinian people, I still do believe that in the context of the last intifadah Israelis are the good guys.
Daniel-I understand where you're coming from, and whenever I talk to people about this I'm quick to point out that the Palestinians, in Thomas Friedman's words, "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." I think that the PLO got in the terrorism business in the late 60s because they thought it was the best, quickest path to getting world attention and some resolution of their grievances; I think they've poisoned their own cause with that terrorism to the point that it's pretty tough to sort out legitimate issues from illegitimate means like suicide attacks on civilians. So we mostly agree.

However . . .I also like this comparison, if you'll allow me to be devil's advocate for a moment. During WWII, when Germany occupied all of Europe, were they the "good guys" when they hunted down French Resistance groups, or were the Resistance guys the good guys? In Afghanistan in the 80's, were the Soviets the good guys hunting mujahadeen in the Panjshir valley, or the other way round? For that matter, who were the good guys in Palestine in 1945-47--the Irgun, Shin Bet, and Haganah, or the legal Mandatory Power, the British, that they were blowing up on a regular basis?If we dispense with the niceties of how one or the other of us might interpret international law in the case of the territories, there seems to me little difference in the first 3, and the last is still similar, except the "occupier" was the legal sovereign at the time--territory occupied by a foreign power gives birth to a resistance movement that makes the occupier pretty miserable using whatever means are at their disposal. Not trying to legitmize tactics or means, just trying to point out that if one occupies someone else's land by force, one cannot reasonably expect "good men to do nothing", in a manner of speaking.

You mentioned this intefadeh. Who were the good guys in the first intefadeh in your opinion? If different than this one, why the difference?

That ought to stir the pot some.

Paul
 
Old 10-02-2002, 11:47 AM   #265
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Paul Clark wrote:
However . . .I also like this comparison, if you'll allow me to be devil's advocate for a moment. During WWII, when Germany occupied all of Europe, were they the "good guys" when they hunted down French Resistance groups...
Well, yes, it's sort of that simple - if you're an occupant, expect a reaction. However, we could recall the circumstances that led to this particular occupation, which in my view make it somewhat different from your examples.
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Not trying to legitmize tactics or means, just trying to point out that if one occupies someone else's land by force, one cannot reasonably expect "good men to do nothing", in a manner of speaking.
Absolutely. It does go both ways though. The moment one blows up a bus full of innocent civilians, one cannot expect absence of retaliation. Besides, there was a diplomatic process once, wasn't there? How incompetent one must be to assume that terrorism could be more efficient than a diplomatic solution in this particular case? I think it's a common knowledge that the majority of the Israelis was for giving up most of the occupied territories. Moreover, I believe this is still the case. However, the will to negotiate is seriously undermined.
Quote:
You mentioned this intefadeh. Who were the good guys in the first intefadeh in your opinion? If different than this one, why the difference?
Well, I wasn't in Israel during that time, so I can't speak of from my personal experience about that. However, one of the differences that comes to mind is that the second intifadah ruined a very real chance of reaching a permanent solution, and this is an unforgivable mistake on the part of the Palestinians.

Daniel
 
Old 10-02-2002, 11:56 AM   #266
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OK, foul. Didn't intend it that way, but I guess you could read it that way.
No harm done. Even if you had meant it that way, it was smoothly executed.

This has to be one of the most civilized and gentle discussions of this issue I have ever participated in. It's a really a pleasure to see that it can be done, although I suspet that that reflects a basic similarity in our points of view rather than a real ability (at least on my part) to maintain civility.
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During WWII, when Germany occupied all of Europe, were they the "good guys" when they hunted down French Resistance groups, or were the Resistance guys the good guys? ...
These are good points, but you have to be a little careful with them. For instance, I believe that it is wise to differentiate between resistance/terrorist groups that do and don't target civilians. I think that even the early zionist resistance movements can be neatly divided into terrorist groups and resistance movements along these lines.

"Most Israelis" (I'm starting to really worry about my use of that phrase) would agree that the Palestinian's have a legitimate right to armed struggle as a tool in their effort to achieve recognition as a nation and the rights associated with a sovereign state. However, their right to have an armed conflict does not necessarily guarantee them a victory.

The question of the tools that are to be considered legitimate for each side in conducting the military aspects of this conflict is an important one. If you want to be 'fair,' then the more generous you are condoning different kinds of military action by one side, the more generous you should be condoning things done by the other side. For instance, it seems weird to me to accept suicide bombing (even of, say, uniformed personnel on a public bus) and to have difficulty with the destruction of homes. And, to keep up my pose of a balanced observer, it seems hypocritical to condone targeted killing of terrorist suspects and then act shocked when a team of Palestinians takes out a prominent right-wing Israeli politician.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 10-02-2002, 12:03 PM   #267
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Daniel wrote:
However, one of the differences that comes to mind is that the second intifadah ruined a very real chance of reaching a permanent solution, and this is an unforgivable mistake on the part of the Palestinians.
Excellent references to read about the two sides of this particular argument at This American Life, scroll down to the part that is headed On Camp David and read follow the links to very thoughtful arguments by people on both sides of the issue.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 10-02-2002, 12:10 PM   #268
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Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
"Most Israelis" (I'm starting to really worry about my use of that phrase) would agree that the Palestinian's have a legitimate right to armed struggle as a tool in their effort to achieve recognition as a nation and the rights associated with a sovereign state.
I'd have to disagree, simply due to the fact that for an Israeli to agree to that basically means to agree that his relative or friend serving in the army is a fair target for Palestinian militants. And, again, because there one was a pretty wide-spread belief that the diplomatic process was the way to go and it was actually working.
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...it seems hypocritical to condone targeted killing of terrorist suspects and then act shocked when a team of Palestinians takes out a prominent right-wing Israeli politician.
Again, I think there's a difference here. I don't believe I heard a Hamas representative saying "we have evidence proving that this Israeli politician was involved in planning terrorist attacks on Palestinians. Give him up for a fair trial or we'll come after him using our own means".

Daniel
 
Old 10-02-2002, 12:29 PM   #269
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Daniel wrote:
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I wrote:
"Most Israelis" (I'm starting to really worry about my use of that phrase) would agree that the Palestinian's have a legitimate right to armed struggle
I'd have to disagree, simply due to the fact that for an Israeli to agree to that basically means to agree that his relative or friend serving in the army is a fair target for Palestinian militants.
Well, I probably don't know what the average Israeli feels on this one. It's probably easy to feel that the other side has no 'right' to hit you no matter what. Still, I tend to think the average Israeli accepts the idea of the use of military force as a tool in nationalistic aspirations. In general, I think, Israelis question the wisdom of the second intifidah and they point to its implications for an eventual compromise more than they argue against the 'right' of the Palestinians to resort to armed conflict if they aren't getting what they want.

In fact, I'll stick by what I said: the average Israeli supports the Palestinian's right to lose everything through armed conflict. "As long as the Palestinian's 'want' to keep on fighting," thinks Mr. Average Israeli, "I'm willing to keep on fighting them."
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Daniel wrote:
Quote:
I wrote:
..it seems hypocritical to condone targeted killing of terrorist suspects and then act shocked when a team of Palestinians takes out a prominent right-wing Israeli politician.
Again, I think there's a difference here.
Of course you do. That's because it's convenient for our side to make a big point of this difference. I have to admit that to me the difference seems more subtle than fundamental.

However, Daniel, I challenge you, just as I challenge Paul vis a vis the Israelis, to say what kinds of action you think is appropriate for the Palestinian's to use given their decision that there is more to gain through military struggle than they are likely to gain through diplomacy.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 10-02-2002, 12:44 PM   #270
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Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
In fact, I'll stick by what I said: the average Israeli supports the Palestinian's right to lose everything through armed conflict. "As long as the Palestinian's 'want' to keep on fighting," thinks Mr. Average Israeli, "I'm willing to keep on fighting them."
How about a variation of this: as long as the Palestinians keep on fighting, I'm forced to keep on fighting them? I'm not sure many people would be willing to fight... I don't know, maybe it's just playing with words.
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...it's convenient for our side to make a big point of this difference. I have to admit that to me the difference seems more subtle than fundamental.
So what you're saying is that fundamentally there's no difference in targeted killing of, say, the terrorists that massacred the Israeli Olympic team in Munich - as a punishment for murder, and in killing a politician as a punishment for his political views?

Hmm... I just asked myself a question - is Sharon a fair target of a targeted killing by Palestinians because he ordered a strike on a terrorist, that also killed several children? Phew... Is Bush a fair target for ordering strikes on Afghanistan? It has to stop somewhere, doesn't it ?..
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...what kinds of action you think is appropriate for the Palestinian's to use given their decision that there is more to gain through military struggle than they are likely to gain through diplomacy.
Oh, but it's not a fair challenge! I think the decision you're talking about is itself flawed, so I cannot recommend an action based on a wrong decision. I can recommend revising the decision though...

Last edited by DanielR : 10-02-2002 at 12:46 PM.

Daniel
 
Old 10-02-2002, 12:55 PM   #271
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Hmm... I just asked myself a question - is Sharon a fair target of a targeted killing by Palestinians because he ordered a strike on a terrorist, that also killed several children? Phew... Is Bush a fair target for ordering strikes on Afghanistan? It has to stop somewhere, doesn't it ?..
I think this is exactly what I mean about subtleties. The important point about the targeted killings is that lack of due process means that there is absolutely no way of knowing how the punishment is fit to the crime. Once you let one side make up it's own extra-legal system of justice for punishing individuals on the other side, a reasonable sense of 'fairness' would extend the same rights to the other side.
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Oh, but it's not a fair challenge! I think the decision you're talking about is itself flawed, so I cannot recommend an action based on a wrong decision.
But Daniel, you can't legislate intelligence or wisdom. The Palestinians, if they believe that the Israelis are bargaining in bad faith (and this is what they believed) are free to leave the bargaining table. The question then becomes, and this is a fundamentally important question, what kind of fighting is within the realm of a 'clean fight' and when are they fighting 'dirty.' Most people believe that suicide bombings in discotheques or universities fall into the 'fighting dirty' category. That implies that some things would not fall into that category. What are those things?

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 
Old 10-02-2002, 01:15 PM   #272
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Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
The question then becomes, and this is a fundamentally important question, what kind of fighting is within the realm of a 'clean fight' and when are they fighting 'dirty.'
See, I'm not sure the Palestinians were that free to walk away from negotiations, no matter what they believed. We can argue until end of days whether Barak's offer was indeed as generous as he described it to be. There were, however, facts on the ground, that Israelis were prepared to certain concessions, and probably considerable ones.

I keep avoiding answering your question... Well, simply put, in my mind targeting civilians is definitely a dirty fight.

Daniel
 
Old 10-02-2002, 01:32 PM   #273
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I wrote:
I keep avoiding answering your question... Well, simply put, in my mind targeting civilians is definitely a dirty fight.
... attacking military targets is a less dirty fight. But resorting to violence is the dirtiest of all.

Daniel
 
Old 10-02-2002, 02:12 PM   #274
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Daniel/Opher,

I get busy for a few hours, and you guys have a lovely party without me. Doing very well, I might add; almost hate to jump back in.
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For instance, I believe that it is wise to differentiate between resistance/terrorist groups that do and don't target civilians.
Wise, maybe. On the other hand, the Germans didn't "settle" France, nor did the Russians settle Afghanistan, hence their civilians in occupied territory never became targets for the resistance movements-they simply weren't there. A ways back I think it was you that mentioned the wiggle room in the Geneva Conventions that allowed some "settlement" if it was required as "militarily necessary." Well, if it's militarily necessary to introduce civilians into occupied territory, they must be performing some military function, hence, by the laws of war, I'd suggest they've become legitimate military targets, even if they themselves never intended to be!

Daniel:
Quote:
Well, yes, it's sort of that simple - if you're an occupant, expect a reaction. However, we could recall the circumstances that led to this particular occupation, which in my view make it somewhat different from your examples
Ahh, "that's different." But, how? Surely not because Germany's attack into France was utterly unprovoked, while the 1967 war, although started by Israel, was "caused" by the mobilization of the bordering Arab states, therefore "self defense?"
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How incompetent one must be to assume that terrorism could be more efficient than a diplomatic solution in this particular case? I think it's a common knowledge that the majority of the Israelis was for giving up most of the occupied territories.
You don't actually have to be incompetent at all. You go to war generally when you conclude you've exhausted all the other less costly options because none of them is working. For the Israelis, war ensued with the British after WW2 looked won, because the Ben Gurion et. al. concluded that the British were no longer disposed to meet all their aspirations for statehood. The Oslo accords of 1993 got off schedule by 1995, for the Palestinians, there is no reason to expect that Israel, after 35 years, is in any hurry to return to it's international boundaries, especially when the population in the territories has increased by over 100% since the "process" was put in place. I refer to one of Opher's earlier posts--there seem to be many Israelis in government who would like to see a longer, infinite, process since the amount of land they'll have to give back gets smaller every day. The Palestinians understand this, they are trying to force the issue.
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I'd have to disagree, simply due to the fact that for an Israeli to agree to that basically means to agree that his relative or friend serving in the army is a fair target for Palestinian militants
Yup. But, serving in the army of your country when you occupy someone else's territory is a dangerous thing (a lesson some Americans learned in Vietnam). I'd contend that it is a risk the government of Israel understands, and has decided to assume, because your friend's life is worth less to them than the objective of holding onto the land. I don't believe your governments are dumb enough to believe that nobody in the territories is willing to fight for their homes; do you?

Ultimately it comes down to something Ho Chi Minh once said, I paraphrase: We will beat the Americans, because in the end, more Vietnamese than Americans are willing to die for Vietnam.

Gotta go to my last meeting of the day--hope to catch more of this later and fire another salvo.

Paul
 
Old 10-02-2002, 02:55 PM   #275
opherdonchin
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Paul wrote:
On the other hand, the Germans didn't "settle" France, nor did the Russians settle Afghanistan, hence their civilians in occupied territory never became targets for the resistance movements- they simply weren't there.
I think the point you make here, as well as the points about military necessity implying that the settlers are military targets are good points. There is much to say about this, and I think there are few resistance movements whose hands are truly clean. I believe it was common in occupied France to execute collaborators, an ugly crime now perpetrated by the Palestinians on their own people.

The truth is that, among those Palestinian's who argue for avoiding attacks on civilian targets, it is commonly assumed that settlers would be considered military targets. Israelis generally feel that this is not reasonable, and feel this more strongly when elderly people, children, or pregnant women are targetted. Israelis also feel that there is a difference between targetting soldiers on active duty and targetting soldiers riding home on a bus. These sorts of distinctions are important, and they are mirrored by similar subtle distinctions made on the Palestinian side in categorizing their own dead.

I'm not arguing for any specific and clear distinctions between freedom fighters and terrorists. I'm just arguing against the (straw man) claim that no such distinction can be made.
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Paul wrote:
Surely not because Germany's attack into France was utterly unprovoked, while the 1967 war, although started by Israel, was "caused" by the mobilization of the bordering Arab states, therefore "self defense?"
Are we really sure we want to go there?
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Paul wrote:
You don't actually have to be incompetent at all. You go to war generally when you conclude you've exhausted all the other less costly options because none of them is working.
Yes, but what a tragic mistake it was for them to make this decision!
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Paul wrote:
Ultimately it comes down to something Ho Chi Minh once said, I paraphrase: We will beat the Americans, because in the end, more Vietnamese than Americans are willing to die for Vietnam.
And herein lies the heart of the Palestinian error in judgement in the fall and winter of 2000. They went to war because they thought they had nothing to lose, and yet it appears that there was much that they stood to lose. The went to war because they believed that Israelis would not be willing to die for the occupied territories. Unfortunately for both sides, the Israeli interpretation was that they went to war because they wanted more than the occupied territories and sought the destruction of Israel. For this, many Israelis were and still are willing to lay down their lives.

I recommend again following through the links on This American Life and reading about the Camp David process. It is a truly tragic dance of misunderstanding (justly deserved and amply delivered) by both sides.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
 

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