Sunday, March 01, 2009

Arguments for Zionism: Responses

I come across a finite number of rationalizations or arguments for various aspects of the Zionist project and thought I'd put responses to those that I've come across in one place.

I very strongly request comments, additions and criticisms of this post. After several months of tweaking, I expect to post a far better version of this.

If anyone is able to entirely rewrite any of the responses, I would gladly replace my language with yours, within reason.

1. Jews were expelled by the Romans
The Romans were not a settler empire. The Romans conquered Spain, England, Germany, Egypt and other areas, replaced the rulers with a leadership structure loyal to Rome and left the inhabitants in place. Of Jews evacuated when Rome sacked Jerusalem, some may have gone far away but there is no reason most would not have stayed relatively close, other parts of Palestine or what are now Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon or Syria. There is no record of Romans ever expelling all or most Jews from the area now known as Palestine, and that had never been Roman practice anywhere, even after putting down rebellions. Judaism was a diasporic religion long before the Roman conquest. By the time of that conquest the number of Jews outside of Palestine likely already surpassed the number of Jews inside. After Roman conquests, the ethnic composition of conquered territories remained essentially unchanged. Over centuries some of the original Jewish inhabitants of the territory converted to other religions, Christianity, Islam or others, some left, other people migrated in. Some of the descendents of the Jewish inhabitants from before the Roman conquest remained continuously in Palestine even until the present day. Some descendents are Jews, some are descendents of Jews who converted along the way to Islam or Christianity and are now seen as Arabs. The idea that Jews were forced out of Palestine by the Romans to make way for another population in a process comparable to the expulsion of Arabs 1948 to allow a sufficiently majority Jewish state is simply false.

2. Arabs are also foreigners to Palestine
The Arabs were also not a settler empire. The Arabs conquered what are now known as Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Sudan and other places, replaced the rulers with a leadership structure loyal to the ideals and culture of Arabia and left the inhabitants in place. These inhabitants, after learning the Arabic language and accepting the Arabs’ religion became known as Arabs themselves. The Egyptian population is now considered Arab. There was no large-scale replacement of the original inhabitants with settlers from Arabia. Egyptians became Arab when the original inhabitants adopted the Arab language and culture and converted to Islam. The Syrians became “Arabs” mostly through conversion. The Palestinians, including some descendents of Jewish Palestinians, became Arabs the same way everyone else in that area became Arab.

3. According to Mark Twain, the land that became Israel was nearly barren
There is a famous quotation from Mark Twain that traveling in Palestine he noticed that the land was “nearly barren”. Nearly barren doesn’t have much meaning other than “not uninhabited”. Does he mean less populated than New York or St. Louis at Twain’s time? Does he mean the population was less dense than the population of Native Americans whose dispossession from their lands the US was completing as he wrote? Taken on its face, Twain’s claim only means that there were some people in the territory. Other more careful studies of the population from around that time indicate that the population had a vast Arab majority. Even if the area only had ten people, that is enough that they had a right to reject an outside effort to give the territory to an outside group as that outside group’s homeland.

4. There is no historic Palestine. The land that became Israel was colonized by the Arab, Ottoman, British and other Empires.
The inhabitants of the territory, regardless of who ruled it, had and have a right not to be displaced. Further they have a right, if they choose, to remove their foreign colonial rulers.

5. The 1948 UN allocation was reasonable
The UN allocation clearly allocated land disproportionally to the Jewish state. The Arabs believed that in terms of the value of the land the allocation process was also skewed in favor of the Jewish portion. The Arabs also believed that regardless of the allocation, the Zionist movement was stockpiling weapons with Western help, to immediately cease more land and expel much of the Arab population the Jewish partition. Zionist theorists of the time did not believe a stable Jewish democracy state could be built with the slim majority The UN was an explicitly colonialist institution at the time. As it partitioned Palestine, the UN also decreed that the Congo would be restored to Belgian ownership, Vietnam and Algeria to French ownership and other colonial holdings to their European rulers. Arabs were over two-thirds of the population of the territory and if they did not believe the allocation was reasonable, then the allocation was not reasonable. The UN had no more right to determine for the Palestinians in the Jewish partition that they should be under Jewish rule than they had to determine that Angola should be under Portuguese rule.

6. There was no alternative available in 1948
The best alternative then would have been a one-state arrangement in which every individual has equality protection before the law and equal political power.

7. Jordan was given to the Arabs so all of Palestine should have been given to Jews
All of Palestine had a 2 to 1 non-Jewish majority. The people of Palestine had a right to reject the creation of a Jewish state on their territory and the violation of that right was an injustice.

8. The Palestinian refugees of 1948 left hoping the Arabs would win
People leave war zones for their safety. I'm sure they did hope a Jewish state would be prevented from being established on their homeland, but that does not mean they relinquish their human right to flee to safety and return.

9. Israel hosts refugees from Muslim countries
Some immigrants to Israel were refugees, others went voluntarily or were pulled by Israelis. A lot of immigrants came from countries such as the US and European countries that clearly are not refugees. Some were, some were not, none left war zones comparable to Palestine in 1948, but a right to return or compensation is the individual right of any Jew who left any Arab, Muslim or any other state involuntarily.

10. Israel’s war for independence was a war of self-defense
Israel fired first. The first organized military actions were perpetrated by Jewish military groups, in many cases against Arab civilians, months before any Arab organized military even began preparing to intervene.

11. Israel’s subsequent wars were wars of self-defense
Using the rule that the first party to fire started the war, Israel fought a war of self defense in 1973. The US invasion of Iraq was described as self-defense by its architects. Japan believed it was forced to bomb Pearl Harbor in self defense. The side that fires first started the war is a rule that is generally accepted to apply to every conflict other than wars involving Israel.

12. Descendants of refugees should not be eligible for refugee status
This is a difference of opinion between supporters of Israel and most of the people in the region. The fact of the matter is that Jordan and Egypt are lead by dictators who are nearly comically subservient to pro-Zionist interests. But they are not accepting the refugees. The argument that these refugees should be accepted by Israel is stronger than the argument that they should be accepted in Egypt, Jordan, Syria or Lebanon since none of these are the states they or their relatives fled. Since the founding ideal of Israel is that a group that had a sovereign state in that territory thousands of years earlier had a right to return, it is hypocritical, and certainly seems hypocritical in the region to say that descendants from 60 years ago should not have a right to return because they are of the wrong ethnicity.

13. Israel was a strategic asset for the US during the cold war
The USSR was a militantly atheistic country. For religious reasons, the Middle East would have much more naturally aligned with the US against the USSR in that struggle. Middle Eastern actors always displayed a level of discomfort in engagements with Russia because atheists are very strongly condemned in the Muslim religion. Nasser, before the 1967 war with Israel told an audience of trade unionists that the only reason he aligned with the USSR is because the USSR took a better stance than the US and the US’ NATO allies with respect to Israel. The United States was able to maintain the cooperation of many Middle Eastern dictatorships despite the unpopularity of its ties with Israel, but from Israel’s inception, US goals have been more difficult to reach in the region because of Israel.

14. Israel is a strategic asset for the US today
Israel borders countries that do not have large supplies of oil or an ability to block oil flow from the Persian Gulf. But Israel inflames opinions of the populations of countries that are strategically important to the United States. Israel has never used its military, in 60 years, to assist in securing either supplies or transport of oil. Israel makes alliances more difficult and expensive to maintain, but for example, could not participate in the US invasion of Iraq. There really is no fundamental dispute between either Arab Nationalism or Islamism and the West other than the legitimacy of Israel.

15. The dispute is perpetuated by Arab leaders who want to divert attention from their failures
Iran was ruled by a US-installed stooge for a generation, but Iranians still do not accept Israel’s legitimacy. Saudi Arabia would prefer its people to de-prioritize the Palestinian conflict, since Saudi Arabia often sides with Israel against the wishes of the Saudi people. Jordan and Egypt have sponsored government campaigns explicitly to persuade their people that cooperation with Israel against other Arabs is an expression of putting their country first. No poll in any country ruled by relatively pro-Israel leaders has shown these efforts to be effective.

16. There are two legitimate national causes that must be accommodated at least with a Jewish state.
It is difficult to believe that in 1890 Jews who were a small minority of the population of the territory had a legitimate national right to a state in that territory. This claim would be comparable to a claim that Scientologists in the United States have a national right to a state comprised of some US territory. It is more difficult to believe that European Jews of 1890, some descendants of converts, some descendants of people who left Palestine voluntarily and some descendants of people removed by force thousands of years earlier, had a national right to a state in that territory. That is comparable to a claim that an American group believing in Norse mythology have a legitimate right a homeland in Scandinavia, even at the cost of displacing the current population of mostly Christians and atheists there. Today, Jews in Palestine have a right to remain in safety. But they do not have a human or national right to a permanent political majority any more than White Americans have a right to a permanently White US presidency.

17. Every other nation has a state
Many distinct ethnic groups and religions comparable to Jews do not have sovereign states. Mormons, Kurds, Zoroastrians, Afrikaaners, African-Americans, Blackfoot Native American Indians. This statement relies on a strange definition of “nation” to mean groups of people that have states, plus Jews whether Jews have a state or not. There is no reasonable definition of "nation" for which Jews are the only "nation" without a state.

18. It is possible for Palestinians to convert to Judaism
It is effectively impossible for Palestinians to convert to Judaism to get a right to return to Israel as citizens. Conversions to Judaism in Israel must go through a far more stringent and arbitrary process than conversions to Judaism in Western countries. Very few or no Palestinians have successfully converted to Judaism despite the obvious material advantages such a conversion could give them.

19. Other countries have an ethnic basis
The problem with Israel is not its ethnic basis. The first problem is that there is a large group of people that wants to return, but cannot because it is of the wrong ethnic group. The second problem is that preventing the people of the region who agree that the refugees should be able to return from expressing their will requires vast expenditures of resources by the US and other Western countries that leads to a tremendous amount of oppression and misery throughout the region. Israel’s victims are more than the 5 or so million non-Jews living under occupation and the 4 million refugees outside of occupied territories. They include the 80 million Egyptians, 6 million Jordanians and 25 million Saudis forced to live under pro-US dictatorships, shored up by US intelligence organizations, in order to keep the region safe for Israel. They also include the millions of Iranians whose economy the US has steadily attempted to thwart since the Iranian revolution to ensure Iran has fewer resources with which it could confront Israel.

20. There are dozens of Muslim countries but only one Jewish country
There are no Mormon countries. There is no universal principle that every religion should have a certain number of countries where it should be the majority.

21. Israel is small compared to non-Jewish land in the region
There is no size smaller than which it is not an injustice to displace one group of people to make room for an ethnic homeland of another group of people.

22. Israel is the only democracy in the region
Including people under Israeli control but excluded from Israel’s political process, Israel disenfranchises nearly a majority of its people because of their ethnicity. The United States also supports dictatorship and opposes democratic reforms that would make Israel’s neighbor more reflective of the commonly held belief among their people that Israel as a Jewish state is illegitimate

23. Israel is an economic miracle
Israel has been the recipient of many economic and trade advantages from the West, beyond the annual billions of dollars that are directly given to that country. Israel trades with the West on better terms than its neighbors, possibly because of Western decisions that Israel should have an economic lead over its neighbors.

24. Opposition to Israel is anti-Semitic
It seems that way to people emotionally tied to Israel. Really anti-Zionist arguments are no more inherently anti-Semitic than anti-Apartheid activism is anti-Afrikaaner. However, people who identify emotionally with Israel do feel attacked when anyone expresses doubt about the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. While this may not be a rational feeling, it is a valid feeling that should be anticipated and respected. Those who advocate ending Israel's status as an ethnic state should take extra care to express that they do not believe that Jews are inherently bad in any way and that they do not harbor animosity against the Jewish religion, ethnic group or Jewish individuals. Attacks on Zionism often create the honestly held but usually incorrect perception that the source of the attacks hates Jews.

25. Martin Luther King, Jr. said anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism
He may have, in which case he was wrong. None of his recorded speeches indicates such a view. Of all of the things he wrote, he never himself wrote that on paper. There is a purported letter that is now widely understood to be a hoax, that never appeared in the magazine to which it is attributed. There is a recollection of a supporter of Zionism of King supposedly saying something similar at a dinner party. King is not recorded as being in the Cambridge area at the time the dinner party in Cambridge supposedly occured. One of King's associates recalled a private conversation but first discussed the memory publicly decades later. Possibly King felt that way. He never wrote it down in his own voice. If he felt that way he is just as mistaken as anyone else who feels that way. There is still no inherent animosity towards Jews required to believe there should not be an explicitly Jewish state in Palestine created at the expense and against the will of Palestine's non-Jewish residents.

26. The Hamas charter calls for killing Jews
Hamas’ charter notes a passage in the Koran in which Arabs kill Jews. The passage taken alone does not specify if these are Jewish civilians or soldiers. Elsewhere the Koran explicitly forbids killing civilians. The interpretation most consistent with the Koran on the whole is that these are soldiers. Nothing in the that passage, anywhere else in the Koran or the Hamas charter indicates that it should be interpreted as meaning all Jews will or should be killed. Hamas officials have repeatedly stated that Jews who choose should be free to live safely in an Islamic state. There is no reason to believe Hamas would not be able to impose its views even in an single state in which all the refugees vote assuming Jews would vote against them, but a constitution could be designed, as constitutions have been designed in many places throughout the world, that protects Jewish rights and has individual protections that cannot be outvoted by a majority.

27. Israel is the only way to prevent discrimination against Jews
Israel is not today a safer place for Jews than many other places, including the United States. Discrimination is a serious problem that cannot be solved by trying to carve majority states for every ethnic group that has or could suffer discrimination.

28. Abandoning Israel would lead to regional wars
This is a failure of imagination. A commitment to a orderly and gradual move to a one-person one-vote state including refugees over a set period of between a decade and a generation would end the source of the dispute over Zionism. Hamas and other anti-Zionist groups accept that they will not defeat Israel in the short term and have already offered a hudna, or to stop fighting for an extended period. A commitment to, at a set point in the somewhat near future, end Israel's Jewish-majority status could end all fighting against Israel this year.

29. Jews would be forcibly removed in any non-Zionist outcome
This is clearly false. It is easy to draw an outcome that does not require Jews to be removed. Jews would have a right to leave. And Middle Eastern opponents of Zionism often make the point that if the United States believes it is critical that there be a homeland with a guaranteed Jewish majority, Jewish political rule and automatic acceptance of Jewish refugees, the United States can set aside some of its own territory for that. If there is a Palestinian majority, Jewish people who do not mind living in a state with a non-Jewish majority in Palestine would of course be free to remain.

30. Jews do not want to, and should not be asked to take the risk that they might be oppressed in a post-Zionist Israel
Israel cannot defend its status as an ethnic Jewish state on its own. Israel requires huge sacrifices from its patrons. There are many costs involved in the US and its allies ensuring that Israel has the military and economic advantages over its neighbors it needs to be safe. For example, in terms of missed opportunities for trade and resources devoted to ensuring that Iran does not become more able to comfortably confront Israel, or the costs of helping Egypt's unpopular but relatively pro-Israel dictator remain in power, or the moral cost of allying with nations that openly torture any of their own anti-Zionist citizens such as Jordan, it would probably be probably more efficient for the US to use fewer resources to arrange a long-term guarantee of the individual rights of Jews in a non-Jewish majority state.

14 comments:

Arnold Evans said...

Please comment on this. This is a work in progress that I hope to streamline and improve over time.

One addition is that I hope at some point to include links to outside websites for every question, something that furthers the point of that argument.

For the most part, if you provide alternate language I will try my hardest to replace what is there with your alternate language or arguments.

Also, this is public domain. Anyone is allowed to alter, copy, reprint, sell or use this list in any way, with no requirement on my behalf whatsoever.

N. Friedman said...

Arnold,


I address your comments, one by one. Before doing that, I note that you have misstated numerous arguments and, on top of that, historical evidence contradicts many of your assertions.


1. You claim that Jews were not expelled by the Romans


That, in fact, occurred. However, it was not a complete expulsion. By contrast, the expulsion of Jews by Muslims was far more complete.


2. You claim that Arabs are not foreigners to Palestine. More importantly and bizarrely, you claim that the Arab conquest did not involve colonization by Arabs (presumably from Arabia).


For your information, the Arab conquests were always followed by colonization. It was central to the colonization, both from a practical and a theological perspective. The word used - and which has origins in Islamic theology regarding Jihad - was "Fatah." Fatah is a religious term which means, literally, "opening" but was used in the religious sources to refer to the policy of pursuing conquest and colonization. Such colonization occurred during all of - and was among the most salient features of - the early Arab conquests including of what has sporadically been called Palestine.


The colonization, as with all such phenomena, including suppressing the local population to the benefit of the colonizers. So, Arabs commanded the heights of the societies they conquered. They also adopted the specific Roman practice for suppressing Jews but applied it to both the Christian and the Jewish population. Such practice exceeded the Koranic requirement that conquered people of the book pay, on an ongoing basis, a special tax (called the jizya) and be made to feel humiliated (as set forth in the Koran). The practices included a number of social disabilities, some minor and some major. Likely the ones which caused the most problems for the conquered was the loss of the right of personal self defense, the loss of the right to testify against a Muslim and the loss of the right to bear arms. Other requirements, such as the requirement that non-Muslims wear special identifying clothing and hairdo were not always enforced, nor were requirements that non-Muslims move to the side of the road when a Muslim passes or that, as in some areas, that non-Muslims walk barefooted, etc., etc.. Interestingly, the Muslim practice - at least when the additional restrictions were not enforced - was somewhat of an improvement for Jews but, obviously since their prior oppressors were Christians, a major blow to the Christian population. Nonetheless, neither party wanted to live under the yoke of Islam.


Further, the Arabs displaced populations including a substantial portion of the Jewish population which lived in historic Palestine. Such was accomplished by a serious of large scale massacres and intentionally created famines. However, some Jews and Christians remained and Jews were rather badly. In fact, Jews were treated worse in their own land than in other Muslim lands. That led to a very substantial exodus of Jews.


3. According to Mark Twain, the land that became Israel was nearly barren


What Twain meant is that the land was in disrepair. This is widely reported, not just by Twain. There are innumerable diaries of travelers in the 19th Century to what they called the Holy Land. You might read Michael Oren's book on the topic.


4. There is no historic Palestine. The land that became Israel was colonized by the Arab, Ottoman, British and other Empires.


I agree that people have a right not to be displaced. But, people do get displaced during wars and, where there is no reconciliation at the end of the war - which occurs rather frequently -, those displacements frequently become permanent. Were the non-displacement rule to be a rule with universal applicability. It is not, though and, of all displaced groups, the Jews have the most experience with permanent displacements - both in the Arab regions and in Europe.


People have been displaced from what they called their lands all over the world, including in 20th Century Europe. Ask any ethnic German with family roots (i.e. roots for a millennium) in Poland, in the former Czechoslovakia, etc., etc. The same for Christians displaced in large numbers from Turkey. The same for Muslims displaced from Greece. The same for Muslims displaced from India. The same for Hindus displaced from Pakistan. The same for Jews in Europe and in Arab countries, a great many of whom were displaced.


5. The 1948 UN allocation was not reasonable


Well, I think your stated assertion is a non-issue. The land of Palestine has an indefinite boundary. As drawn in the original version of the Mandate, it included the land now called Jordan, which Christians (including Christian Arabs) typically called Palestine. In fact, the boundaries drawn - of only part of what, at the time, was known as Palestine - by the UN largely conformed to the population centers of each group with the exception that Jews were awarded a substantial amount of desert land. The idea was that a substantial Jewish population would live in the, then, mostly uninhabited desert. That occurred, by the way, because that land has large numbers of Jews displaced from Arab countries. What you are really asserting is that Jews were awarded too much land because they were awarded a desert.


The issue here is not what Jews and Arabs may have believed. So, it is a matter of indifference that Arabs believed the allocation process was skewed in favor of Jews. Again, the division was by population center except for the largely uninhabited desert.


Jews bought weapons from all over the world, not just from the West, except that most weapons obtained by Jews were purchased through underground sources. Arabs bought weapons directly from the West. So, that point by you makes no sense.


6. There was an alternative available in 1948: one state.


By 1948, this was no longer feasible. The parties were at war. I gather that is not what you mean.


The process which led Jews to give up on the idea of a single state was the Arab uprising of the 1930's. In that war, which was aided by propaganda from Arab Muslims directed at dividing Jews and Arabs, with the propaganda often based on religious themes in Islam about the eternal perfidy of Jews, it became apparent that Jews would not be treated as equals under Islamic rule.


However, any amount of investigation of Zionism will uncover that the early movement always assumed - or at least hoped for - a state with joint rule. That, however, became impossible.


7. You do not accept that Jordan was given to the Arabs so all of Palestine should have been given to Jews


I do not accept any of these arguments as important. I think that Israel is a state run by Jews because they won their various wars. That and nothing else.


There was no country at the time - not even any boundaries. So your comment is a nonsensical. Some areas had a Jewish majority and some had an Arab majority. Countries are sometimes formed based on who is in the majority in any one region - especially when people do not get along so well. Note: the Czech Republic out of what was once Czechoslovakia.


8. The Palestinian refugees of 1948 left hoping the Arabs would win.


This is certainly the case although about 50,000 people were actually expelled. The problem with return was that the loser of the war refused the results of the war. That was their privilege but, as with all things in this world, there are consequences to taking that position. Specifically, it was the privilege of the victor not to let in those who refused to accept the results of the war (and, such was written into UN 194). Such people - i.e. those unwilling to live at peace with their neighbors - are due compensation, according to the UN. However, there were refugees on both sides, with all of Jerusalem's Jews (i.e. the majority of East Jerusalem at the time) displaced and the Arab side has not volunteered to offer compensation for their bad acts.


You write: "9. Israel hosts refugees from Muslim countries

Some immigrants to Israel were refugees, others went voluntarily or were pulled by Israelis. A lot of immigrants came from countries such as the US and European countries that clearly are not refugees. Some were, some were not, none left war zones comparable to Palestine in 1948, but a right to return or compensation is the individual right of any Jew who left any Arab, Muslim or any other state involuntarily."


You misstate what Israel's friends have argued. This argument is directed solely against those who claim that Israel only allows Jews to migrate to the country. What Israel does models exactly what France and Germany do, namely, Israel provides a preference to those with Jewish background to enter and become citizens. In the case of France, those with the preference are those having, according to the statute, "French blood."


There is nothing unusual about any of this. It is a common form of law all over the world. Look it up.


Israel adds that it has taken in Muslim refugees from Sudan. The war in Sudan is dramatically worse - by far - than anything that has ever occurred in historic Palestine since 1900.


10. Israel’s war for independence was not a war of self-defense


This is simply untrue. The first fighting began the day after UN 181, with Arab militias attacking Jews. Moreover, Arab armies attacked the day that Israel declared independence. They entered the land, which is an act of war.


11. Israel’s subsequent wars were wars of self-defense


No. in 1967, the war began when a state of war was legally created. That occurred when Egypt removed the UNIF forces, in violation of the Armistice. At the time, it was widely believed that the war occurred when Egypt announced that it would violate the law of the seas by blocking the Straits of Tiran. That, too, is considered an act of war. So, your theory is too simple minded. By the way, for Israel, blocking the Straits of Tiran - again, in violation of treaty obligations - created a state of war. In all of these cases, when a party responds violently, such party is not, as a matter of International law, considered the aggressor.


12. Descendants of refugees should be eligible for refugee status


Opinions by those involved which are uniformed do not much matter. As a matter of history, it is a fact that refugee status is not considered inheritable. Were it not that way, then Jews would have an absolute right over Muslims in the country. In fact, though, that is not a good argument - on either side.


13. Israel was not a strategic asset for the US during the cold war


It depends on who you ask. Clearly, the US disagreed. In fact, the US used Israel to bring Egypt into the US fold. So, that sort of nixes your theory.


14. Israel is a not a strategic asset for the US today


This depends on what you consider a strategic asset. Were the US to drop Israel, Israel would ally with another major country and, since Israel is an advanced country, would create havoc for the US. Further, Israel keeps the peace among Jordan, Syrian and Egypt which would, if history is any guide, be at each other's throats. So, I think your analysis is a bit simple minded.


You write: "15. The dispute is perpetuated by Arab leaders who want to divert attention from their failures

Iran was ruled by a US-installed stooge for a generation, but Iranians still do not accept Israel’s legitimacy. Saudi Arabia would prefer its people to de-prioritize the Palestinian conflict, since Saudi Arabia often sides with Israel against the wishes of the Saudi people. Jordan and Egypt have sponsored government campaigns explicitly to persuade their people that cooperation with Israel against other Arabs is an expression of putting their country first. No poll in any country ruled by relatively pro-Israel leaders has shown these efforts to be effective."


Your argument is not advanced by what you write. The argument is about what Arab leaders do. You then point to Iran, which is not an Arab country. But, even if it is, your point makes Israel's point. The fact is that Arab (and Persian) rulers do use Israel as a whipping boy. And, Iran is a great example. Iran, which has no historic dispute with Israel, has leaders who think it a central issue. Yet, of all the Muslims I have known, none originally from Iran thinks it a central issue. Rather, it is the government which uses it for its own reasons including, for example, as a means to gain influence over the region and because, in Iran, the country, which is awash with oil, has oil shortages. Saudi Arabia spends literally billions of dollars each year - this year as well - in arguing against Israel and against Jews and against Christians. One - but not the only - reason for such activity is that it helps protect the regime.


16. There are two legitimate national causes that must be accommodated at least with a Jewish state.


In fact, by the time that Israel was formed, Jews were a sufficient part of the population to have legitimate aspirations for a state. Today, the region clearly has a sufficient number of Jews that even if your assertions were correct, it would be irrelevant.


17. Not every other nation has a state


This is true. It is also irrelevant.


18. It is possible for Palestinians to convert to Judaism


This is not an argument I have ever heard made by a Jew. However, the means to convert are the same everywhere, if you want to convert to Orthodox Judaism. You are mistaken here.


You write: "19. Other countries have an ethnic basis

The problem with Israel is not its ethnic basis. The first problem is that there is a large group of people that wants to return, but cannot because it is of the wrong ethnic group. The second problem is that preventing the people of the region who agree that the refugees should be able to return from expressing their will requires vast expenditures of resources by the US and other Western countries that leads to a tremendous amount of oppression and misery throughout the region. Israel’s victims are more than the 5 or so million non-Jews living under occupation and the 4 million refugees outside of occupied territories. They include the 80 million Egyptians, 6 million Jordanians and 25 million Saudis forced to live under pro-US dictatorships, shored up by US intelligence organizations, in order to keep the region safe for Israel. They also include the millions of Iranians whose economy the US has steadily attempted to thwart since the Iranian revolution to ensure Iran has fewer resources with which it could confront Israel."


But, that would also apply to France, which has the very same law of return. So does Germany. Moreover, no country allows in refugees who do not agree with the legitimacy of that state. And, if they do, they would be idiots.


The solution to the refugee crisis is for those who were displaced and their offspring to be granted rights in the countries where they live. That is what was done for ethnic German displaced from all over Europe. And, far more of them were displaced than Arabs.


Were the US and Europe simply to stop funding Palestinian Arab refugees, the problem would solve itself.


You write: "20. There are dozens of Muslim countries but only one Jewish country

There are no Mormon countries. There is no universal principle that every religion should have a certain number of countries where it should be the majority."


You have misstated the argument. The argument is not one based on religion. It is that Jews - an ethnic group - have no place they can call home. That is not a problem for any Arabs.


You write: "21. Israel is small compared to non-Jewish land in the region

There is no size smaller than which it is not an injustice to displace one group of people to make room for an ethnic homeland of another group of people."


Your own argument does not really address your header. Instead, your argument is based solely on alleged injustice of a group displaced during a war. That alleged injustice begins to fade when one examines what, in fact, the Arab side had planned with the Nazi regime - which give the lie to your one state theory. In this regard, the Arab leadership made an agreement with the Nazis to work together to exterminate the Jewish population of the region. The German army, after its defeat at the battles at El Alamein and later in Tunisia between Germany’s Rommel’s Afrika Korps and the Allied armed forces. See, Halbmond und Hakenkreuz: Das Dritte Reich, die Araber und Palästina (in English: "Crescent Moon and Swastika: The Third Reich, the Arabs, and Palestine"), by Klaus Michael Mallmann and Martin Cuppers. What we find among Arabs is traditional Jew hatred based on both Islamic theological texts and contemporary European Antisemitism.


So, we have a genocidal policy which was driven by prejudices - i.e. religious propaganda - which made it impossible for the Arab side - as the Grand Mufti himself indicated - to allow even for joint governance, much less partition. His was an eliminationist form of hatred and, frankly, his actions have played a huge role in the thinking on the Arab side.



You write: "22. Israel is the only democracy in the region

Including people under Israeli control but excluded from Israel’s political process, Israel disenfranchises nearly a majority of its people because of their ethnicity. The United States also supports dictatorship and opposes democratic reforms that would make Israel’s neighbor more reflective of the commonly held belief among their people that Israel as a Jewish state is illegitimate"


Well, Israel's Arabs have more rights than any Arabs in the entire Arab world. So, we have your (mis)perception thing from the region that is contradicted by any factual account.


You write: "23. Israel is an economic miracle

Israel has been the recipient of many economic and trade advantages from the West, beyond the annual billions of dollars that are directly given to that country. Israel trades with the West on better terms than its neighbors, possibly because of Western decisions that Israel should have an economic lead over its neighbors."


It would still be an economic miracle for its region.


24. Opposition to Israel is anti-Semitic


What is argued mostly is that Antisemites make up the vast majority of non-local opposition to Israel. It is not inherently Antisemitic but it is, in fact, the way that Antisemites advance their cause. In that regard, it is exactly like the Dreyfus affair, in which one could oppose the French officer without being an Antisemite but, low and behold, most of those who opposed him were, in fact, Antisemites. So Jews were seen as blocking the protection of important-certain societal privileges deemed moral and just. As has been remarked, Antisemitism normally grabs onto causes deemed of great importance. It is normally recognizable when things involving Jews become obsessions. Hence, Europeans obsess over Israel and that is almost surely due to Antisemitism.


It also becomes apparent where people attempt to associate Jews with what people think to be the lowest of the low. Hence, the accusations comparing Israel to Nazi Germany are clearly always the work of Antisemites.


25. Martin Luther King, Jr. said anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism


Actually, this is not what King said. However, his children say that it is what he thought. At the moment, probably 98% of those opposed to Israel are Antisemites.


26. The Hamas charter does not call for killing Jews


The passage in question is a Hadith which concerned the end of days. However, the material preceding the Hadith explain its meaning. They assert that the Hadith's message is a political program to be carried out by Muslims. Moreover, the Hamas covenant includes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and adopts the same argument used by Hitler, that Jews are behind all wars and all that goes wrong in society. Such is the mark of an eliminationist Antisemitic program.


27. Israel is not the only way to prevent discrimination against Jews


Israel may or may not be the best way to prevent discrimination against Jews. However, it is one way to prevent it.


28. Abandoning Israel would not necessarily lead to regional wars


We do not know what would happen in the Middle East without Israel. However, we do know that the same maladies and problems would still be present. And, we know that the worst wars in the region have not been fought by Israel. The worst war in the region was fought between Iran and Iraq. But, that was not the only terrible war. Egypt has fought terrible wars other than with Israel.


Israel does not need a hudna. That would do nothing for Israel. So, why would Israel accept it?


29. Jews would not be forcibly removed in any non-Zionist outcome


Hamas disagrees with you. You do not like me to quote but I could point you to the articles in which such is quoted. In any event, they have said that such is their intention - their political agenda - on multiple occasions. In fact, their leaders stated that explicitly to the New York Times, which duly printed it. In other instances, they have spoken openly of killing all Jews.


30. Jews do not want to but should be asked to take the risk that they might be oppressed in a post-Zionist Israel


Well, Israel cannot defend itself if it is isolated. That is true. That is true, however, of most states. An isolated America has lost ground in this decade. Moreover, the US allies with Israel because that is what most Americans want. Many Americans, including for example, Lyndon Johnson and FDR and Truman and Reagan and maybe Clinton, were avid Zionists. FDR wanted to remove all Arabs from the country. He was willing, evidently, to pay all of them to move or to have them forced out. Truman was an avid Zionist who acted against the advice of advisers who argued your view that we should define interest narrowly - i.e. by oil. Etc., etc.


Life is full of burdens. However, solving the Jewish problem is one that is worth some sacrifice.

N. Friedman said...

Correction:

Strike my sentence that reads: "The German army, after its defeat at the battles at El Alamein and later in Tunisia between Germany’s Rommel’s Afrika Korps and the Allied armed forces."

Substitute the following:

The German army, after its defeat at the battles at El Alamein and later in Tunisia between Germany’s Rommel’s Afrika Korps and the Allied armed forces, was no longer able to assist the Arabs in what the Arab leadership had planned together.

Arnold Evans said...

Thank you N. for responding. I'll go through this some time this week and make changes to address some of the things you've written. For the most part I stand by at least the thrusts in the paragraphs but this was a rough draft that can use a lot of cleaning up.

Arnold Evans said...

1. I claim that not all Jews were expelled by Romans. You say the Roman expulsion wasn't complete. So we're in agreement. If you'll say most Jews were expelled by Romans, I disagree just based on Roman behavior elsewhere. If they did expel most Jews, this is the only example of this in their imperial history. But I've never seen any indication that they did.

2. Um, no Arabs didn't settle Palestine in a way comparable to the Zionist settlement. Arabs colonized Palestine in a way comparable to the British colonization of India. Which was bad, and which was colonialism, but did not substantially change the underlying demographic composition. The Western settlement of Australia and North America are comparable to the Zionist settlement of Palestine. The Western colonization of India, Nigeria and Vietnam is more comparable to the Arab colonization of Palestine. These are different concepts.

3. Disrepair is OK. Disrepair doesn't support a "land with no people" narrative that is usually the context in which I see Mark Twain discussed.

4. It is possible that the Palestinian displacement will prove permanent. But it is possible it will not. Israel certainly cannot ensure that it will not without tremendous resources expended by the US. I don't think the US should do that.

5. It is important that the Arabs, who were the majority of the territory didn't consider the partition fair. I don't think I can convince you that Arab opinions have any worth because of how you position yourself in this issue. It's important to me, and to a lot of people in the region. Not to you. I'll leave it there.

6. If we say the parties were at war, the Palestinians didn't go to Europe to establish a homeland on inhabited territory, say, in Jewish majority areas of Poland. This war was inherent in the Zionist vision, as acknowledged by early Zionists.

7. Calm down with the "nonsensical" stuff. You seem like you're getting emotional.

8. Refusal to accept a Jewish state is reasonable if they accept Jewish individuals. Which at least some Islamists have said they do. Black South Africans never accepted an Afrikaaner state. Black Americans never accepted a White state. For acceptance of outside ethnic domination to be a pre-requisite for a right to return to a fled war zone is for that right not to exist, which legally it does.

9. You're going to have to speak for yourself. I've seen this as an argument that Arab countries have an obligation to integrate refugees from Palestine. If you haven't stick around, you will.

10. There was no Arab organized armed force on the ground in Palestine the day of the 1947 resolution, and there were organized Jewish armed forces. The first organized use of force after the resolution was by Jewish forces, if I remember correctly. I'll try to put a link into a later version of this paragraph.

11. There were other wars besides 1967 that you seem to be conceding. I'll take that. If Israel hadn't attacked Egypt in 1967, there would have been no war, unless or until Egypt or someone attacked Israel. The war began with Israel's attack on Egypt.

12. You don't have to consider an argument good. It is really hard to get you to understand that. You have your own point of view colored by your sense of attachment to one of the parties. I'm not going to convince you, but I'll put something here to not skip it. Arabs, unlike you, consider the descendant claim on the Palestinian side far far far stonger than the descendant claim, which in 1890 was the only claim on the Zionist side.

13. No Egypt came into the US fold at substantial expense to the US despite the US' support for Israel. Nasser said he only aligned with the Soviet Union because of US, French and British support for Israel. He said this to Egyptian trade unionists, the sector of the Egyptian society most intrinsically sympathetic to socialism.

14. What kind of havoc do you think Israel could create for the United States? Jordan, Syria and Egypt might in some way be at each others throats, but if history is a guide, no more than Nigeria, Chad and Niger. None of the three have substantial oil. They could probably get by without Israel.

15. Iran is an example of an Muslim country that through the Shah's rule clearly had no interest in fostering animosity against Israel (Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt are other examples but those are the countries under discussion so I didn't use them) but despite this, animosity remained. Truthfully, This issue has been polled. I'm not sure which Iranians you've met, but 80% in Iran believe Israel is not a legitimate state. Most Americans do not believe Israel is a central issue. But if pressed, most Iranians side with the Palestinians, just like most Egyptians, Jordanian and Saudis despite decades of rule by leaders who are aligned with the US and relatively aligned with Israel.

16. If maintaining an Israeli state as opposed to a one-vote-per-person state requires the amount of resources on the part of the US that it does and requires the oppression of Arabs that it does then that has to factor into claims of legitimacy.

17. Good.

18. I've heard it, so I've included it. Mistaken? But what if I want to convert to reform Judaism? I can in the US to be eligible for citizenship in Israel, cannot in Palestine. Why say I'm mistaken and then point out exactly how I'm correct?

19. No. France does not have a large group of refugees who want to return to territory they fled during war but cannot because they are of the wrong ethnicity.

20. The argument fails on ethnic reasons for the same reason it fails for religious reasons, this is actually just a different way of saying 17, which you accept. Next revision will have both a religious and ethnic counterexample.

21. Goodness. There is no example of a group of people not resisting another group of people deciding to create a homeland on already inhabited territory. You seem to really believe that if it was not for Nazi-ism and religion, the Arabs would have accepted that the territory that they had a 90% majority in 1890 should be a Jewish homeland. I can't fathom how you could believe that. How many groups opposed their own displacement without ties to Nazis? What group do you think the Arabs would have been more like if not for religion and Naziism?

22. My position is that Israel really has a negative impact on democracy in the Arab world. The United States is more supportive of dictatorship per se in the Arab world, as long as the dictators are pro-Israel than anywhere else in the world. The United States is more liable to overturn a democracy in favor of a dictatorship in the greater Middle East than anywhere else, because dictators sponsored by the US are reliably more pro-Israel than democracies, as we now see with Abbas, whose term has passed with the US supporting postponing elections.

23. Not a miracle. If the US and West offered to trade with Egypt on the terms offered Israel, Egypt would grow faster. If the US and West traded with Israel on the terms offered Egypt, Israel would grow more slowly. Not unexplainable, much less miraculous - better trading terms result in faster growth.

24. I'd be offended, but I can't expect you to be rational on this issue. A lot of friends of Israel compared Hussein to Hitler. A lot compare Iran to Nazi Germany. All anti-Arab bigots? You'll never understand how ridiculous your position on this issue is. We'll just have to disagree.

25. 98%? Obviously you just made this number up. Please make up a more reasonable next time. For your own sake. I don't take it seriously either way.
.
26. To say that Jews could live in a majority Muslim state, as Hamas says, is to say that they envision an outcome in which Jews have not been eliminated. You really have to make tendentious leaps of interpretation to get anything different.

27. It is not be best way, according to me, in term of effects throughout the region or liability for its patrons.

28. The Iran/Iraq war was a terrible terrible occurence. One in which the US and Israel explicitly took policies of what they called "dual containment" in which each side was supplied with arms to maximize damage to the other while ensuring fighting continued. This war certainly would have been less destructive but for the US' interest in Israel's long term viability.

29. Go ahead and quote Hamas. You've quoted them before here and they weren't saying what you read them to be saying.

30. You're right that Americans have been willing to go beyond US material and strategic considerations in support for Israel. Most friends of Israel deny this so this paragraph is more for them than you. I argue that when the costs are clear the US will be less willing to pay them since the goal of safety for Jewish individuals can be reached far more effectively.

N. Friedman said...

Arnold,

I address your points by the numbers, reproducing your comment followed by mine.

“1. I claim that not all Jews were expelled by Romans. You say the Roman expulsion wasn't complete. So we're in agreement. If you'll say most Jews were expelled by Romans, I disagree just based on Roman behavior elsewhere. If they did expel most Jews, this is the only example of this in their imperial history. But I've never seen any indication that they did.”

A large number of Jews were expelled but certainly not all. And, those who remained were treated poorly most particularly after the Roman Empire became a Christian Empire.

“2. Um, no Arabs didn't settle Palestine in a way comparable to the Zionist settlement. Arabs colonized Palestine in a way comparable to the British colonization of India. Which was bad, and which was colonialism, but did not substantially change the underlying demographic composition. The Western settlement of Australia and North America are comparable to the Zionist settlement of Palestine. The Western colonization of India, Nigeria and Vietnam is more comparable to the Arab colonization of Palestine. These are different concepts.”

What you write here is largely contrary to fact. As I said, the Jewish population was largely dispersed out of the country. That means a large percentage of the country’s population was driven off, again, by a serious of massacres and intentionally created famines.

And, the Arabs did engaged in large scale colonization. It was nothing like in India, where the population retained a local flavor. The Arab colonization involved recasting the entire country from a Christian and Jewish land into an Islamic land with Christian and Jews living as defeated nations in accordance with pacts of concession involving the payment of an annual protection fee (i.e. jizya) paid in a manner intended to make the population of such nations feel subdued. And, there were substantial restrictions on those who remained.

The British never worked to make Indian civilization disappear. The Arabs did. So, if it is not quite like the colonization of America, it was also nothing like the colonization of India.

Further, Jewish migration was not colonization. Buying land is not the same thing as colonization. Jews were an oppressed people living in Europe and in Arab countries. In any event, it is certainly contrary to the dictionary definition.

Jews, in fact, migrated to a place where refuge was available. That is a basic human right. To call that colonization is either to give colonization a good name associated with the noted basic human right or to condemn potential migrants to their fate where they then live. In any event, by definition, colonization involves acting on behalf of a foreign power and not to establish one’s own rights.

I might add: those who migrated could, I suppose, have remained in Europe. That, on your view, would keep them from being part of any colonial exercise. However, most of them would have died – so there would have been real, historical consequences. Surely, those who migrated before WWII would have died and, on top of that, after WWII, no country was willing to take in the displaced Jews of WWII.

From what I can tell, your view is that Arabs in Palestine, who, by the action of their leaders, allied with the Nazis and entered into a Faustian bargain to exterminate all Jews in their midst, have no obligations arising from such alliance or that policy. And, it is to be noted that, due to the efforts of their leaders, a great many Jews remained stuck in Europe where, in fact, more than one hundred Jewish deaths (i.e. more than all of the deaths combined on the Arab side fighting Israel in all of the wars with Israel) can be pinned directly to the leadership of Palestine’s Arabs. Yet, on your view, that inhumanity has no consequences. That, to me, is nonsense.

3. Disrepair is OK. Disrepair doesn't support a "land with no people" narrative that is usually the context in which I see Mark Twain discussed.

Well, the population of the land was, when Twain visited, around 300,000 people. That, plus the fact that the land had no local politics to speak of and the fact that the land was in disrepair must count for something – since this is a common practice in the world. In any event, for all practical purposes, it was a land without a “people” – which is not the same thing as a land without people. In fact, it means something very different.

4. It is possible that the Palestinian displacement will prove permanent. But it is possible it will not. Israel certainly cannot ensure that it will not without tremendous resources expended by the US. I don't think the US should do that.

I think you misunderstand this entirely. Whether the displacements will remain permanent does not depend on the US. The alternative is that the Arab side will expel the Jewish side so that is the driving force here – since Jews in Israel will go the Masada route before agreeing to their own demise. At this point, all involved are from the area so, take your choice: expel the Jewish population back into being a people without a land anywhere and at the whim of Christian and Muslims intolerance or settle Arab where they now live, with people who share the exact same culture, religion, language, history, etc., etc. The latter, by far, is the more just.

Of course, on your view, Jews ought pay the price, allowing the Arabs to destroy what remains of Jewish civilization. Perhaps, you do not see it that way. But look back at the tolerance shown Jews in Europe during the 19th and 20th Century. And, there has been a massive upswing of violence against Jews in Europe – with Jews beginning the realization that Europe will, within the next few generations, have no Jews because European states are unwilling to protect them. Of course, none of that matters to you. Only the sins of Europeans seem to matter to you.

5. It is important that the Arabs, who were the majority of the territory didn't consider the partition fair. I don't think I can convince you that Arab opinions have any worth because of how you position yourself in this issue. It's important to me, and to a lot of people in the region. Not to you. I'll leave it there.

I certainly think that Arab views are important. But, Arab views should not be confused with what occurred. Which is to say, if Arabs believe – as many evidently do – that the Mossad attacked the WTC, that does not make it so. In any event, since Jews also lived in the area, their views must also be considered. Or, do you only thing that Arab views count. And, the Arabs, under the leadership of the Grand Mufti, had no interest even in joint rule or any form of democratic rule. The Grand Mufti, as I noted, wanted Jews dead. That fact – and it is a fact – has consequences whether you want to believe it or not because, in fact, history is the result of interactions, not solely the result of this side or that side’s position. So, a Jew, reading the poisonous rhetoric from the Grand Mufti and his political party would naturally see the world closing in, as it was throughout the world, on them. And, the natural, reasonable, reaction was to take their own path.

On your view, a preference should be given to Arab views, whether or not rational or reasonable or even fair. That strikes me the view of someone on the far right, believing that land rights come before the rights of people.

There is the other point that, since no polling was done, we really do not know what most Arabs thought. What we do know is that there were two main political groupings, one that allied with the Nazis and the other which allied, to considerable extent, with Jews. The view of most Arabs, however, was unknown. The group that allied with the Nazis would have rallies with cries to kill the Jews. I suppose, Arnold, that such views were their views and, since by your account we should respect Arab views, you are saying we should respect their embrace of Nazism. Is that really where you want to go? Somehow, I doubt that and, suspect, that your views are based on ignorance of the political currents.

6. If we say the parties were at war, the Palestinians didn't go to Europe to establish a homeland on inhabited territory, say, in Jewish majority areas of Poland. This war was inherent in the Zionist vision, as acknowledged by early Zionists.

No. The view of the Zionists was to liberate the Jewish population from the whims of bigoted Christians. They thought that such required a state. Israel was chosen because it was the ancestral Jewish home and was thus most likely to attract Jewish refugees. Thought was given to the local Arab population. As noted, the goal was for joint rule. Such was Herzl’s publicly stated view and the one which found its way into his novel – and thus had substantial influence over the decision of Jews to migrate. It was also the view of the revisionists.

Again, it was the fact of the so-called “national” Arab leadership which refused all attempts at reconciliation, believing that it was better to side with the Nazis. It was also the fact that Islamist rhetoric designed to foment hatred. And, these led to a situation where the Arab side became unable to reach any compromise including one for joint rule.

7. Calm down with the "nonsensical" stuff. You seem like you're getting emotional.

Fine. I am not emotional but I understand your terms.

8. Refusal to accept a Jewish state is reasonable if they accept Jewish individuals. Which at least some Islamists have said they do. Black South Africans never accepted an Afrikaaner state. Black Americans never accepted a White state. For acceptance of outside ethnic domination to be a pre-requisite for a right to return to a fled war zone is for that right not to exist, which legally it does.

You, evidently, do not read the Islamists very carefully. Their debate simply does not include any remote possibility of a regime of equality for non-Muslim individuals and, most especially, not for Jews. If you do not understand that, you really need to read what they write. I have.

The Islamist movement began primarily in Egypt after the termination by Attaturk of the Caliphate. It focused largely on Jews, who were blamed for Attaturk’s decision (e.g. because, perhaps, there were some few Jews in the Young Turk political parties). The view was that there is a Jewish conspiracy to destroy Islam. This all led to violence (i.e. riots and massacres) against Jews all over the Arab regions. At first, Zionism was not really important to any of this but later, it also became part of the alleged conspiracy. Islamist views might be described as the views of the most extreme right wing elements in Muslim Arab society. Such people held non-negotiable attitudes towards Jews – views that were held on religious principle, with attitudes about Jews taking on an essentialist pattern (i.e. Jews were deemed to have eternal traits, meaning those traditionally described in the Islamic tradition), with some Islamists believing that Jews ought be killed off entirely while some thought that Jews could be returned, with sufficient violence, to their debased traditional roles in Islamic society.

So, your discussion is about a world that does not exist. Black South Africans, their faults and virtues considered, never had a religious tradition – and, Arnold, it must be emphasized that we are dealing with religion, which is a very important current in civilization – that Africaaners are an eternally cursed people. Islam has such a position and it is an important part of classical Islam, one that Islamists all claim.

So, the South African analogy simply is inapposite. We are dealing, instead, with a different civilization that has roots in different traditions than are remotely pertinent to South Africa.

9. You're going to have to speak for yourself. I've seen this as an argument that Arab countries have an obligation to integrate refugees from Palestine. If you haven't stick around, you will.

I do not follow. Arabs ought to take care of their own. Jews chose to take in refugees from Arab countries and resettle them. That, notwithstanding prejudices held by Jews from Europe regarding Jews from Arab countries.

10. There was no Arab organized armed force on the ground in Palestine the day of the 1947 resolution, and there were organized Jewish armed forces. The first organized use of force after the resolution was by Jewish forces, if I remember correctly. I'll try to put a link into a later version of this paragraph.

Now you are changing the terms. There were attacks by Arabs beginning after the UN Resolution. The Arab side, for many months, had the upper hand due to such attacks. That is the view set forth in Benny Morris’ books on the topic, including his most recent book, which is titled 1948. That changed in the year 1948 but, in 1947, the Arab side, which also had militias, had the upper hand.

11. There were other wars besides 1967 that you seem to be conceding. I'll take that. If Israel hadn't attacked Egypt in 1967, there would have been no war, unless or until Egypt or someone attacked Israel. The war began with Israel's attack on Egypt.

I was conceding nothing. I was pointing out that your view of 1967 is contrary to fact.

You say that had Israel not attacked in 1967, there would have been no war. The BBC thought otherwise at the time. And, most historians who have looked at the matter thought otherwise. See Michael Oren’s book on the topic, because it is the most comprehensive history of the war to date. And, surely the Israelis had to have thought otherwise than you believe, given the statements from Egypt and the placement of a very large Egyptian army near Israel’s boundary, all in breach of the Armistice.

In any event, the Arab side broadcast that they intended to start a war. There were speeches by Nasser to that effect as well. Such was reported at the time in the BBC, The New York Times and in the Arab press. There were also marches held where the crowd was whipped up by Egyptian government spokesmen where the intention to make war was asserted and with calls to kill the Jews. In any event, the Arab side rejected the Armistice at the time by kicking out the UN troops and bringing in a large army. That is called announcing that you are going to war.

The 1973 war began on the Arab side, as you know.

The 1956 war was fought due to the act of war of breaking the law of seas treaty. Again, that makes the matter pretty clearcut.

The 1948 war began on the Arab side, with Arab militias attacking Jews back in 1947 and the Arab armies declaring war in 1948.

The 1982 war was started by Israel. That is true whether or not it was a just cause under just war theory.

The same for the 2006 war.

The Gaza war is more complicated. There were clearly attacks on Israel before Israel began its offensive. The war, some argue, began due to the digging of tunnels into Israel (in violation of the lull agreement), which led to an Israeli reprisal when one such tunnel was discovered by the Israelis in early November, 2008. But, there had been numerous rockets fired into Israel before that event so it is possible that the Israelis determined that the Hamas government would not abide by its obligations. What can be said is that had rockets not been fired throughout the lull period, the average Israelis and, likely the government, would not have thought it reasonable to fight.

The Arab side claimed that the Israelis blocked aid from entering Gaza. That was the excuse given for the rocket fire. But, in fact, as numerous observers have noted, the Israelis abided by what had been agreed up for aid to the letter and beyond what was actually required. And, firing rockets is no advertisement to receive aid. So, if the rockets were fired to get Israel to allow more aid in, that was a pretty stupid policy. Would you agree to feed the mouth which attacked you? I really doubt it.

12. You don't have to consider an argument good. It is really hard to get you to understand that. You have your own point of view colored by your sense of attachment to one of the parties. I'm not going to convince you, but I'll put something here to not skip it. Arabs, unlike you, consider the descendant claim on the Palestinian side far far far stonger than the descendant claim, which in 1890 was the only claim on the Zionist side.

Well, I want to add a wrinkle here. The population of the land changed not only by the adding of Jews beginning in the late 19th Century but also, during the 19th Century, by the addition of non-Jews. Which is to say, large numbers of Christians migrated to the land in order to escape persecution from Muslims in other lands because historic Palestine had only a tiny population. Moreover, large numbers of Muslim people from lands under attack in the Ottoman Empire were resettled all along Asia Minor and down into Northern Israel. These migrations are a substantial portion of the population, by the way. Moreover, the Ottoman Empire had moved people in and out of the land over the course of its many centuries of rule including people into and out of historic Palestine. So, Palestinian Arabs may claim they are indigenous. But, frankly, they are a conglomerate of peoples. So, some Palestinian Arabs have a longer claim of uninterrupted presence than some Jews – although, in fact, there was also an indigenous Jewish population that predates, so far as anyone knows, all of the Palestinian Arab population except the portion which were converts from Judaism or from Judaism into Christianity – but that is far from all. And, in the 20th Century, there was very substantial migration of Arabs onto the land, which occurred for a variety of reasons. Some have noted that the claim that it was all for economic reasons is untenable, which may or may not be the case. But, the migration was real. It even finds its way into the UN definition of a refugee from historic Palestine, which includes anyone who had resided there more than one year before Israel’s birth.

13. No Egypt came into the US fold at substantial expense to the US despite the US' support for Israel. Nasser said he only aligned with the Soviet Union because of US, French and British support for Israel. He said this to Egyptian trade unionists, the sector of the Egyptian society most intrinsically sympathetic to socialism.

Israel was not allied with the US in 1948. It was not allied with the US in 1967. So, your point is odd. The alliance between Egypt and the USSR began in the 1950’s, with the officer’s revolt. That was long before the US had any close connection with Israel.

14. What kind of havoc do you think Israel could create for the United States? Jordan, Syria and Egypt might in some way be at each others throats, but if history is a guide, no more than Nigeria, Chad and Niger. None of the three have substantial oil. They could probably get by without Israel.

Israel has existed for 60 years. America has close relations with Arab nations that sell the US oil. These two things are not mutually exclusive. And, if they were, why would you prefer to side with big Oil over the rights of Jews? Again, do you not see how much your position is one of the very far right wing?

15. Iran is an example of an Muslim country that through the Shah's rule clearly had no interest in fostering animosity against Israel (Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt are other examples but those are the countries under discussion so I didn't use them) but despite this, animosity remained. Truthfully, This issue has been polled. I'm not sure which Iranians you've met, but 80% in Iran believe Israel is not a legitimate state. Most Americans do not believe Israel is a central issue. But if pressed, most Iranians side with the Palestinians, just like most Egyptians, Jordanian and Saudis despite decades of rule by leaders who are aligned with the US and relatively aligned with Israel.

You make my point for me. There is a difference between viewing Israel as illegitimate and making that plank a central plank. Consider, most Americans think that the USSR was illegitimate but most Americans did not want a war with Israel and large numbers of Americans preferred friendly relations to the extent that such was possible.

16. If maintaining an Israeli state as opposed to a one-vote-per-person state requires the amount of resources on the part of the US that it does and requires the oppression of Arabs that it does then that has to factor into claims of legitimacy.

Who says that American resources are necessary to maintain Israel? That is simply untrue. Israel would survive with or without American aid. And, the US provides aid as a means of welfare to American arms suppliers. That, after all, is where all of the aid ends up.

None of this requires any oppression of Arabs. Were Arabs to join the 21st Century, as has begun to occur in places like India, interest in Israel would fade. However, it is the rise of reactionary forces – forces that have made their position a matter of God’s will, not man’s will – who keep the dispute alive.

Consider, once again, that the Sudetenland Germans have not started militias to force their way back to the Czech Republic. Yet, such people were displaced just as much as were Arabs. In fact, this is not even the case of people fleeing. It is a case of very large numbers of people marched to the German border and told never to return. And, to note: that remains the law in all of the countries from which native Germans were expelled.

17. Good.

18. I've heard it, so I've included it. Mistaken? But what if I want to convert to reform Judaism? I can in the US to be eligible for citizenship in Israel, cannot in Palestine. Why say I'm mistaken and then point out exactly how I'm correct?

No. Those who convert to Reform Judaism have difficulty migrating to Israel. That has been a contentious issue.

19. No. France does not have a large group of refugees who want to return to territory they fled during war but cannot because they are of the wrong ethnicity.

France allows anyone in the country who is of “French blood.” Germany allows anyone in Germany who is of “German ancestry.” Jews, by the way, cannot simply return to Germany. Jews cannot simply return to Poland. Jews cannot simply return to a whole host of European countries. And, Jews cannot simply return to a whole host of Arab countries.

I do not see your point. People are not plants. My wife is a refugee. She cannot return to her homeland. So, she made a life in the US. That is what most refugees in the world do. There are, so far as I know, at least 20 million refugees in the world and only limited resources to solve problems. The Arab problem, which is hardly unique, takes resources away from most other refugee problems, to the extent that is entirely unfair because the Arab side expects to use that problem to advance their political agenda – again one which, if we go by their rhetoric (and that is all that we have to go by), they are unwilling to live at peace with the Israeli people.

The Arab side demands that there is only one solution to their refuge problems. But, in fact, that is not true. Refugees are settled where they land and can make a life for themselves. That is what Muslims forced out of India did (e.g. the former leader, Musharraf, was a refugee from India). Musharraf made a life for himself in the land into which his family fled. Why should Palestinian Arabs be any different?

The Czech Republic has a large number of people who want to return but who cannot. The same for Poland. However, such people, rather than create a war, have made a life for themselves.

Jews, it should be added, tried to return to Poland but they were massacred by the Poles. That, too, is what occurs in the world. The same, if I recall, occurred in France.

That is why Jews impacted by WWII see Europe as no solution to the problems that have plagued Jews.


20. The argument fails on ethnic reasons for the same reason it fails for religious reasons, this is actually just a different way of saying 17, which you accept. Next revision will have both a religious and ethnic counterexample.

I shall await t.

21. Goodness. There is no example of a group of people not resisting another group of people deciding to create a homeland on already inhabited territory. You seem to really believe that if it was not for Nazi-ism and religion, the Arabs would have accepted that the territory that they had a 90% majority in 1890 should be a Jewish homeland. I can't fathom how you could believe that. How many groups opposed their own displacement without ties to Nazis? What group do you think the Arabs would have been more like if not for religion and Naziism?

Goodness. I think that had more of the Arab side listened to what the Jewish side proposed, peaceful reconciliation was possible. However, religion made that result impossible because religion is very good at closing ears.

For the record, a substantial portion of Arabs did, in fact, accept the idea of a Jewish state. That has been shown rather clearly by research conducted regarding those termed “collaborators” by the Mufti’s nationalist movement. See, Hillel Cohen’s interesting but flawed book, Army of Shadows. And, there were politicians all over the Middle East who thought Zionism a good idea, believing that Jews were as much a part of the region as any other group. There were, in fact, Arabs who worked for the Zionist cause, as propagandists and other things.

Again, what occurred was the result of specific historical circumstance.

22. My position is that Israel really has a negative impact on democracy in the Arab world. The United States is more supportive of dictatorship per se in the Arab world, as long as the dictators are pro-Israel than anywhere else in the world. The United States is more liable to overturn a democracy in favor of a dictatorship in the greater Middle East than anywhere else, because dictators sponsored by the US are reliably more pro-Israel than democracies, as we now see with Abbas, whose term has passed with the US supporting postponing elections.

Israel is not going to go away, Arnold. So, if your position were true – which is doubtful –, it is irrelevant. The US is not ever going to become sufficiently hostile to Israel that it forces Israel to allow in Arabs. If you are not an American or have not spent time here, the main supporters of Israel in the US are Christians. And, that support is theological in nature and the group in the population with the largest population growth is among those who most supportive of Israel. And, this is no recent fluke. Supporters of the Zionist project among Christians have played a prominent role in US history, going back to before the founding of the US and, frankly, before it became a major Jewish cause. Again, prominent supporters have included numerous presidents, even in the 19th Century.

So, arguing that the US should act against Israel’s Jews is likely not to be popular for anyone who wants to be president of the US. I might add that major supporters of the Democrats – Jewish and otherwise – are supporters of Israel.

As for the issue of democracy in the Arab regions, that is a long term project. The leaders of the various countries are obviously not for losing their privileges and will point to any reason to avoid democratic rule. So, you are correct that they do use Israel as a whipping boy – which contradicts your earlier assertion. But, were it not Israel, it would be something else.

What appears to be the case is that the growing movement in the Arab regions is religious. Polling shows that upwards of two thirds of the population want Shari’a to be the basis for governance. Shari’a, which has numerous virtues, believes that law comes from God, not from man. So, the growth of interest in Shari’a suggests little interest in democracy and great interest in restoring tradition.

At the same time, there are those interested in democracy. Many have confused that interest with a movement sufficient to implement a democratic form of government. That circumstance, if it ever occurs, is something for the distant future. And, that is the case, with or without Israel.

23. Not a miracle. If the US and West offered to trade with Egypt on the terms offered Israel, Egypt would grow faster. If the US and West traded with Israel on the terms offered Egypt, Israel would grow more slowly. Not unexplainable, much less miraculous - better trading terms result in faster growth.

Israel is economically well off because it has a well educated public. In Egypt, literacy is marginal. The entire Arab world writes fewer books than pretty much any given European country or Israel. And, a substantial portion of all writing in the Arab world – perhaps 20% – is on religious themes.

Israel has something to trade. Egypt has little to trade. It might help Egypt to trade more with the US. But, unless education changes to one dedicated more to non-religious topics, Egypt will never have much to trade.

24. I'd be offended, but I can't expect you to be rational on this issue. A lot of friends of Israel compared Hussein to Hitler. A lot compare Iran to Nazi Germany. All anti-Arab bigots? You'll never understand how ridiculous your position on this issue is. We'll just have to disagree.

My position is that most opposition to Israel is Antisemitic. That does not mean that it is inherently Antisemitic. But, it is the position that Antisemites adopt, which explains all the violence against Jews in Europe – which is at historic highs unseen since the 1930’s.

I never said and have never said anywhere Saddam was Hitler. He was Saddam. He was surely a bad guy but, frankly, I am not for adventures to remake the Arab regions.

25. 98%? Obviously you just made this number up. Please make up a more reasonable next time. For your own sake. I don't take it seriously either way.

I stand by my assertion. In the 1930’s, opposition to allowing Jews into Britain was argued to be rational and to have no Antisemitic character to it. That was the view of the leaders of those who opposed refuge to Jews. However, such people have died and their diaries and private correspondence have been read. Lo and behold, the leaders were rabid Antisemites, as shown by their private correspondence and their diaries. I have no expectation that today’s Israel haters are any different.
.
26. To say that Jews could live in a majority Muslim state, as Hamas says, is to say that they envision an outcome in which Jews have not been eliminated. You really have to make tendentious leaps of interpretation to get anything different.

I note that such is what Hamas’s leaders told the NY Times. I note what the Hamas covenant states. Again, it speaks of a world conspiracy of Jews. It speaks of the truth of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And, it states that the traditional Hadith regarding the demise of Jews is a current political program.

So, it is no stretch at all to say that the Hamas program is eliminationist. I might add, that the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas claims to be part, holds eliminationist views about Jews. Again, the issue is that Jews supposed mean to destroy Islam.

You are rather cavalier about all of this information or are in denial. I suggest you do some research on this. You might start with a flawed but interesting book by Matthias Küntzel called Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11. His understanding certain features of Islamic theology and tradition are wrong because contrary to his telling, Jihad is not a recent phenomena and Islam has its own tradition of Antisemitism. However, his understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood’s views is well taken and supported by the historic record, although more information has been dug up about the interaction between the Nazis and the Islamist movement has been dug up by scholars such as Professor Herf of the University of Maryland.

In any event, Islamists including Hamas employ language on all fours with the language used by Hitler. In some cases, it is all but copied from Nazi writings.

27. It is not be best way, according to me, in term of effects throughout the region or liability for its patrons.

But, life for Jews stuck in many bad places has improved dramatically due to Israel. That is the case for Jews from Arab countries and it is the case for Jews from the former USSR. And, it is the case for Jews from the rest of Europe. Only in the US is life for Jews also one of equality. So, I think that what you think is demonstrably false.

28. The Iran/Iraq war was a terrible terrible occurence. One in which the US and Israel explicitly took policies of what they called "dual containment" in which each side was supplied with arms to maximize damage to the other while ensuring fighting continued. This war certainly would have been less destructive but for the US' interest in Israel's long term viability.

Israel had nothing at all to do with Iraq. That is in your head. The US may have adopted the policy you note. Israel, however, supported Iran and only to a minimal extent.

29. Go ahead and quote Hamas. You've quoted them before here and they weren't saying what you read them to be saying.

Well, here is one, which is from Hamas TV:

"The Meccan [Quran] chapter entitled 'Jews' or 'Children of Israel' is remarkable... It's about today's Jews, those of our century, and speaks only of extermination and digging graves... This chapter sentences the Jews to extermination before a single Jew existed on earth...
Palestine's blessing is linked to destruction of the center of global corruption [Jews of Israel], the snake's head. When the snake's head of [global] corruption is cut off, here in Palestine, and when the octopus's [Jew's] tentacles are cut off around the world, the real blessing will come with the destruction of the Jews, here in Palestine, and it is one of the splendid real blessings in Palestine."

Here is another one, from a Hamas newspaper:

"We find more than one condemnation and denunciation of the resistance operations and bombings [suicide attacks], carried out by Hamas and the Palestinian resistance branches...
[Eventually] everyone will know that we did this only because our Lord commanded so: 'I did it not of my own accord' [Quran] and so that people will know that the extermination of Jews is good for the inhabitants of the worlds."

These can be found with 30 seconds worth of research.

30. You're right that Americans have been willing to go beyond US material and strategic considerations in support for Israel. Most friends of Israel deny this so this paragraph is more for them than you. I argue that when the costs are clear the US will be less willing to pay them since the goal of safety for Jewish individuals can be reached far more effectively.

There are costs and benefits to any policy. But, either way, Israel will find its way at least for the foreseeable future. What may someday occur, of course, is beyond my ability to determine. However, your vision of the US turning on Israel is pretty far fetched.

N. Friedman said...

Correction:

Strike this paragraph: "You make my point for me. There is a difference between viewing Israel as illegitimate and making that plank a central plank. Consider, most Americans think that the USSR was illegitimate but most Americans did not want a war with Israel and large numbers of Americans preferred friendly relations to the extent that such was possible.

Substitute:

You make my point for me. There is a difference between viewing Israel as illegitimate and making that plank a central plank. Consider, most Americans think that the USSR was illegitimate but most Americans did not want a war with the USSR and large numbers of Americans preferred friendly relations to the extent that such was possible.

Arnold Evans said...

N:
We're winding this down. Of course, you get the last word.

Zionism seems to strike you as so reasonable that only hatred against Jews could be responsible for anyone rejecting it. Either religious hatred, Naziism or whatever you think triggers hatred of Jews in 98% of Western opponents of Zionism.

Off the top, that idea strikes me as beyond bizarre. It strikes me as an idea no adult could honestly hold. I ask honestly, is this a common idea among friends of Israel that you interact with?

There have been many attempts, some successful, some unsuccessful to reengineer the demographic makeup of various territories. As far as I know, every single one was opposed. I cannot think of any that were not. Some attempted imposed demographic changes ended up not going anywhere, some were reversed, some were successful but all were opposed.

I asked earlier if there was a group that you think Arabs should have been more like. You didn't answer and I'll ask again.

In 1890 Palestine was 90% Arab and vastly majority Muslim. Can you think of any territory that has ever been occupied by a group with a 90% or even 70% majority across any demographic axis, language, culture, ethnicity geographic origin, anything; but that willingly agreed to share sovereignty to host a homeland for a group outside that axis?

If you can't think of any, and I assume you cannot, don't you think it is something strange that you're using religion and naziism to explain behavior that every group of every religion, every non-nazi group that has been in a comparable situation in the past has pursued?

I've come to understand that Jewish people often see anti-Semitism behind any opposition to Zionism. I never realized the extent. Are you really that self-centered or group-centered that you can't explain opposition to changing the demographic balance of a territory to a group's disadvantage by members of that group, in the case of Zionism, in any way but through hatred of Jews? Really?

I guess this is a learning experience.

Please take the last word for our back and forth on this thread.

N. Friedman said...

Arnold,


You are either not reading what I have written or I have difficulty communicating or the format is not sufficiently conducive to communication. I hope that you will have the courage or at least interest to respond and, if you do so, that you respond to my actual position, not your incorrect caricature of it.


The issue, as I see it, is not whether or not, in 1890, Jewish liberation would lead to opposition among Arabs. I never said that it was unreasonable to oppose the Zionist project. I remarked - an historical observation - about the path that such opposition took which led, rather inexorably, to a tragedy for the Arab side. Which is to say, the leaders of the Arab side, in my humble view, made an historic mistake and paid for it and, since they still have not awakened to reality, continue to pay for it. My view is that your position makes abets that historical mistake, given it intellectual respectability but, in the end, leading only to greater tragedy for both sides.


My view is that the Arab defeat in 1948 was a self created tragedy that might readily have been avoided had prejudices about Jews not fed (and continue to feed) the dispute beyond what was and is rational in any dispute. And, in any event, we are living in 2009 in a world which has different issues and realities. If you want to speak about history, that is fine. But do not confuse the world of 1890 and then claim that an historic movement that literally saved several million people's lives was, because it had latent bad impact, wholly a bad thing. It was not a bad thing, notwithstanding the fact that the interaction between Arabs and Jews led to tragedy for the Arab side. In any event, that tragedy is an event that occurred 60 years ago. Its impact is still felt by those involved but, frankly, there are any number of ways to solve it, not just your notion that Jews should give up sovereignty because you oppose colonialism and clumsily confuse migration for refuge with colonization.


The fact is that opposition on the Arab side was exacerbated by strongly felt prejudices against Jews that was ignited by the Nazi movement and the Islamist movement - who had made an alliance and who broadcast hate messages that combined Islamic prejudices about Jews with Nazi and Islamist propaganda that Jews were set upon destroying Islam, to which the only remedy was extermination. As a result of playing on such prejudices, the possibility of reconciliation diminished to the point of impossibility - which made partition a necessity. Perhaps you are correct that no settlement was possible even without such deeply held prejudices but, either way, the path history took resulted in the impossibility of reconciliation.


As a matter of historic fact, there was a substantial portion of educated Arab society which favored Zionism. Such people not only worked with Zionists but wrote their own propaganda in Arabic for use by the Zionist movement. Such people often acted out of conviction. Moreover, there were many average Arabs who saw no issue building up the dilapidated land with Jews, something that was not going to occur at that time at least without the energy and money that the Zionists were employing. Such Arabs worked with the Zionists and did not oppose Zionism. In fact, there were a great many people who collaborated with the Zionists, some out of conviction that such was best for the region including for Arabs, some to make money (e.g. in the land business), some to undermine the Islamist national movement of the Grand Mufti (which was seen - correctly seen, as it turns out - as a violent, fascistic movement), etc., etc. Your entire interpretation of the facts has no answer for the, perhaps, 20% or so of Arabs who collaborated with the Zionists. Your interpretation also does not account for the fact that, most likely, only 20% or so sided with the Grand Mufti's nationalist movement. And, your interpretation does not account for the fact that most Arabs probably did not have strong views but, in all likelihood, wanted to go along and get along. Lastly, your view does not account for the fact that the Bedouin and the Druse ultimately sided with the Zionists and fought with the Zionists in Israel's war of independence. And both groups still fight with the Zionists.


Instead, you examine a snapshot of the world as it was in 1890 - a time when there was little opposition to Jewish migration. The fact is that migration changed the demographic reality of the country. That is not at all unusual in this world and, as people learned in Lebanon, changes in demographics mean political changes.


The demographic changes are something that Arabs might reasonably have regretted but, frankly, the same issue comes up all the time and all over the world. Think about the US, with Mexican immigrants. It is said openly and not infrequently that such people will change the country and ultimately ruin it - changing the entire fabric of society, undermining democracy, changing the language spoken, altering the political system, etc., etc. And, some Mexicans really do want to undermine the US and recapture land for a greater Mexico. And, a great many of the immigrants are not here legally. In the US, those who take the immigrants are all evil view are called bigots and worse.


Your position has no intellectual mechanism that distinguishes Arab opposition to Jews from American opposition to Mexicans. Why? Because they are exactly the same thing. A minority has moved into the country and expects changes to the country. On your view, the opposition is entirely reasonable.


Take another example that is even a better fit. In Europe, there is substantial opposition to immigration of Muslims. In fact, were Europeans politicians to follow the wishes of the public, the immigration would be halted entirely and many, if not most, of the immigrants would be booted out. And, the leaders of the Muslims include a quite a number of people who claim openly that they will change Europe and make it part of the Islamic world. Demands are made regularly regarding how society operates and the British government, realizing that the immigrants will someday be a very large percentage of the population, is giving into rather remarkable demands which the public detests. The equivalent of the Arab nationalist movement of the Grand Mufti exists in Britain, viz. the BNP. Again, those who oppose immigration outright and the right of the immigrants to have their own politics are rightly called bigots - such, although Muslim leaders are rather open about their aims to remake the country entirely. So, is that migration a problem for you? Or, is it only a problem when the migration is from Europe?


I did not say that Antisemitism is, of necessity, behind all opposition to Zionism. However, it is the behind it as a factual matter today. Take Britain for example. In January, there was a dramatic upsurge of violence against Jews walking on the street, with quite a number of violent attacks. The British press pooh poohed the matter although, later on it was quietly acknowledged that matters in the Middle East were being misdirected at Jews who lived in Britain. On campuses in Britain, there is violence against Jews and pressure for them to side against Israel. The campaign includes traditional Antisemitic themes about Jews. There have been similar statements in British newspapers, including prominent papers. In cocktail parties in Britain, Jews are openly criticized and told to change their views. That sort of societal intolerance for difference is called Antisemitism, Arnold, and it is no different from incidents of Antisemitism which have littered European history. I trust you understand that hatred of Jews exists and has had political consequences over the centuries.


I would like to address your views about Antisemitism directly. I think you do not understand the phenomena. I would offer this comment by the well known public intellectual Paul Berman:<


We like to think of hatred of the Jews as a low, base sentiment that is entertained by nasty, ignorant people, wallowing in their own hatefulness. But normally it's not like that. Hatred for the Jews has generally taken the form of a lofty sentiment, instead of a lowly one - a noble feeling embraced by people who believe they stand for the highest and most admirable of moral views."


He goes on to catalog a list of historic episodes where this was the case and then writes:


The unstated assumption is always the same. To wit: the universal system for man's happiness has already arrived (namely, Christianity, or else Enlightenment anti-Christianity; the Westphalian state system, or else the post-modern system of international institutions; racial theory, or else the anti-racist doctrine in a certain interpretation). And the universal system for man's happiness would right now have achieved perfection - were it not for the Jews. The Jews are always standing in the way. The higher one's opinion of oneself, the more one detests the Jews.


He concludes:


Israel's struggle puts it at odds with the entire principle of universal justice and happiness, as people imagine it - no matter how they choose to define the principle. Other countries commit relative crimes, which can be measured and compared. But Israel commits an absolute crime. In the end, it is the grand accusation against the Jews, in ever newer versions: the Jews as cosmic enemy of the universal good."


Otherwise, there would not be cries to allow Arabs into Israel when such Arabs state openly that they hate and wish harm to the Israelis. Only a person consumed with blind hatred could embrace such a call.


One may certain criticize Israel and suggest shrinking the boundaries here and there. But, that is not what is occurring. Israel is being accused of nonsense, of being a state of unique cruelness, of unique racism, etc., etc., when in fact none of that is remotely the case and the harm it has caused is small by any rational account. China has done infinitely worse to the Tibetan than Jews have done to Palestinian Arabs (yet, the Dalai Lama is a long standing friend of Israel who does not agree with your position). There is opposition to China's activity but no violence directed at those of Chinese ethnicity who live outside of China for their love of their homeland.


No. The driving force here is hatred, plain and simple.


I would, since I have taken the time to respond in earnest to your post, that you indulge me with a reply. Either way, I would also ask that you read a seminal work on Antisemitism, called The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to Present Day, by famed super historian Walter Laqueur.

Arnold Evans said...

I don't believe in unending comment thread exchanges, so one of us will get the last word. It can be you, or it can be me. I'll offer it to you again but feel free to deny it, and leave me with the last word. You've made your points I feel like a reasonable reader could anticipate my responses to you and your counterresponses to me at this point, if any cared to.

Interesting analogy, Mexican immigration to the US, or Muslim immigration to Britain vs Jewish immigration to Palestine. I'd extend the analogy to proposed Arab immigration to Israel.

I think we can draw boundaries between reasonable rejection and bigotry that are valid for each case.

I've never heard of an organized campaign to turn part of the US into a Mexican-ruled territory or part of Britain into a Muslim-ruled territory - whereas Arabs in Palestine would surely understand that creating a non-Arab-ruled homeland was the explicit aim of the Zionists. I would say that opposition to Mexican or Muslim immigration would be more virulent and more justified if there was an organized project to change the political structure through immigration.

Let's put that aside. If the UN today decreed that California through legal and illegal immigration has become 1/3 Mexican so Mexicans are to be granted a little more than half of the area of California (including desert) for a Mexican state, non-Mexicans in California would oppose that violently.

Remember the UN at the time of Israel's partition was an openly colonialist organization.

The Californian resistance would be justifiable, the presumption of the Mexicans and their backers in the UN would be unreasonable. If the Californians are still trying to correct what I would agree is an injustice 100 years from now, I'd still be sympathetic to that attempt.

You'd surely be able to dig up some anti-Mexican bigotry among the Californians. Find some links between some anti-Mexican activists and neo-Nazis or something. I'd agree with you that there was some element of anti-Mexican bigotry.

You'd go further and say without that bigotry, the Californians would have accepted this arrangement. That would be nonsense. Just barely worthy of a response, if worthy at all. It would shock me that you believe that and I'd wonder how widespread this crazy belief is.

In this scenario the unjust imposition of the Mexicans exacerbated the bigotry, not the other way around. Anti-Mexican bigotry exists. Existed before the imposition. Would have existed if the imposition had not happened, but still is not a significant part of the story of the dispute between the non-Mexican Californians and the Mexicans.

I draw two lines between Mexican immigration to California and Jewish immigration to Palestine. 1- Jewish immigrants openly declared they intended to create a sovereign Jewish homeland through this immigration 2- the Jewish immigrants were granted, by an outside power, a disproportionate share of the territory which was then imposed by force.

Change California to Britain and Mexican to Muslim and, to me, this thought experiment would lead to an identical conclusion.

If you were to go further and say that given that I'm sympathetic to the Californian cause, there is a 98% chance that I hate Mexicans. I'd seriously question your connection with reality.

But it is so natural to accept immigrants even if they might impact the demographic balance. There are 4 million people without states who for whatever reason are not being integrated into Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Egypt or other countries. There are millions more people on territory held in occupation by Israel.

They provably descend from what is now Israel.

I call for allowing them to return, which would undo what I, they and many people in their region consider an unjust imposition by the UN in 1947.

As a practical matter, this would end the dispute. This would allow the US to relax its policy that Israel must be militarily dominant over its neighbors. It would allow the end the alignment between the US and several unpopular dictators neighboring Israel.

It would improve the lives of a lot of Arabs and allow a lot of resources that are now directed at providing or defending against what I consider reasonable opposition to the Zionist project to be allocated elsewise.

Morally, it would be correcting an injustice. I'm also completely sure it can be done in a way that protects individual Jewish rights, to practice their religion and to live in safety with their possessions.

1947 surely was an injustice to the Arabs from the Arab point of view. Beyond that I've never said it is a bad thing that Jewish people were saved by going to Palestine. It is a bad thing that Arabs were made refugees in the process. Descendants of those Jewish people who escaped Europe would either live safely in an Arab-majority state or leave the territory in an non-forced fashion for somewhere else that today would take them.

Israel does not today, nor will it in the foreseeable future, have the outside support it would need to sustain itself if it forcibly removes the remaining Arabs. The conflict will not end unless the Arabs are allowed to return. A one-state Zionist arrangement is just not reachable as a practical matter.

There really are two choices - the status quo and a one-state non-Zionist solution. One interesting aspect of the status-quo is that it is, in itself unacceptable even to US sensibilities - which is why US policymakers cling to the idea that a two-state solution is possible, despite all evidence from all directions.

As that idea that "a two-state solution is one negotiation away" fades, and the choice between indefinitely maintaining the status quo and a one-state non-Zionist solution becomes clearer, I expect the US to eventually come down on the one-state side. As it should.

N., we're not going back and forth. Respond or not, but I will not be continuing with you on this thread. There really is nothing in this post that is not a slightly adapted rehash of something I said earlier anyway. I have no reason to waste time writing another one.

N. Friedman said...

Arnold,

I am going to try to keep this short. Respond if you want. But, if you do, actually address my thoughts, not positions I stated explicitly I do not hold.

Once again, you have not carefully read what I wrote and your comments are, with a few exceptions, directed to things I have not remotely asserted.

By way of example, I said it was not unreasonable for there to be resistance to Zionism before Israel was born. Hence, your entire discussion on that topic has nothing to do with my opinion.

What I said, instead, is that the specific resistance that actually formed against Israel was a particularly unreasonable opposition, one so steeped in the bigotry of the time - both the Nazi variety and the Islamist variety - that the ability of Arabs to make necessary compromises in the face of reality became impossible, all leading to the demise of the Palestinian Arabs.

You have yet to address my point.

In fact, Arnold, the leaders of the Palestinian Arabs argued in the 1930's and 1940's not for Arab majority rule but for the removal of all Jews from the country. How, sir, was that a rational form of opposition, since the leader of the Palestinian Arabs knew full well (his being a member of the Nazi party and a confidant of Hitler) that the Jews of the country had nowhere else to go?

The one part of your post which does attempt to address my point concerned my analogy to Mexicans in America and Muslims in Europe Europe. If you are not familiar with the views of the leaders of Muslims in Europe, I suggest you read While Europe Slept, by Bruce Bawer. It is a fascinating look at the topic. In the case of the Mexicans, there is Professor Huntington's book on the topic. There is no doubt about the views of the leaders of Muslims in Europe, since they state their views openly and on the record.

Taking up your point about Mexicans claiming California, you might note the following: Unlike historic Palestine, California is part of an established state. Historic Palestine was part of a Mandate held by an outside power with a charge to help form a state. In other words, Californians would be notably perturbed to end their relationship with the US. No one in historic Palestine wanted to maintain British rule. So, the issue was how to form a government or governments, not whether to change governments.

You note that the UN was a colonial force. That is a nonsense view. The Arab states were well represented in the UN. And, they certainly were not dependent at that time on the US. And, the leader of the supposed anti-colonialist grouping - the USSR - led the charge to create Israel, being for it before the US jumped on board.

One last point, you say that a one state solution would solve all sorts of problems. But, it would harm the Jews.

Why is it so difficult for you to imagine that the demise of Israel would necessarily be a tragedy for Jews in Israel, leading to their loss of rights? I really do not think you have given that possibility - in fact, near certainty - any thought at all. That amazes me.

My view is that there is no solution to the dispute. It is one of many disputes with no current basis for resolution. In such circumstances, looking for pie in the sky solutions is foolish.

N. Friedman said...

Arnold,

Some evidence of why this is a religious war - at least from the Arab side's perspective - such that your perspective is a misinformed interpretation of what motivates the Arab side.

Read this by well known Egyptian cleric Muhammad Hussein Ya’qoub. Of particular salience to our discussion, is his explanation of the Hamas covenant's use of the kill the Jews hadith:

Your belief regarding the Jews should be, first, that they are infidels, and second, that they are enemies. They are enemies not because they occupied Palestine. They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing. Allah said: “You shall find the strongest men in enmity to the disbelievers [sic] to be the Jews and the polytheists.” Third, you must believe that the Jews will never stop fighting and killing us. They [fight] not for the sake of land and security, as they claim, but for the sake of their religion: “And they will not cease fighting you until they turn you back you’re your religion, if they can.” This is it. We must believe that our fighting with the Jews is eternal, and it will not end until the final battle – and this is the fourth point. You must believe that we will fight, defeat, and annihilate them, until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth.

It is not me who says so. The Prophet said: “Judgment Day will not come until you fight the Jews and kill them. The Jews will hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and tree will call: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him – except for the Gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews.” I have heard that they are planting many of these trees now.


Please do not tell me that such arises solely from the Arab Israeli dispute. That insults the intelligence, most particularly since the very same things were being said by Islamists in the 1920's. Moreover, the leader of Palestine's Arabs, the Grand Mufti himself, said that the dispute was not limited to historic Palestine but, instead, one between Muslim and Jew that transcends the local dispute in Palestine.

As European journalist and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy wrote in his most recent book, Left in Dark Times, which is about the descent of elements of the political Left in France (of which he is a member) into barbarism:

First, that Arab anti- Semitism was not, as is always said, a circumstantial anti-Semitism, mainly linked to English support for the nascent Israeli state, which the Arabs therefore saw as a colonial creation: Germany, says the Grand Mufti in a statement the authors discovered, is "the only country in the world that has not merely fought the Jews at home but have declared war on the entirety of world Jewry; in this war against world Jewry, the Arabs feel profoundly connected to Germany"—one could hardly put it better! And second, that there was, stationed in Athens, under the orders of the Obersturmbannführer Walther Rauff the very same man who refined and then developed the use of gas trucks at Auschwitz, a special intervention force, the Einsatzgruppe Ägypten, intended to reach Palestine and liquidate the 500,000 European Jews who had already taken refuge in the Yishuv in the event Rommel won the battle of the desert: this was an Arab unit, and it was al- Husseini who, there again, in his conversations with Eichmann, had put the final touches on the intervention plan, which should indicate his full and entire participation in the Final Solution; and only Montgomery's victory at El Alameinstymied the project for extermination.

I hope, since you before invited me to quote, that you will not delete the material I have quoted above. I also hope that you will think about it and realize that your theory is based on a misunderstanding of the Arab regions and their relationship with Jews and, moreover, that solving the Arab Israeli problem - something desirable, if not feasible - will not solve the problem of a region in which the leading religious figures are mostly steeped in Medieval hatreds and predilections.

Arnold Evans said...

Goodness gracious, N. Friedman. You already had the last word.

How many quotes referring to religion from individual Christian White racists would it take to prove that White Christians are so fundamentally, thoroughly and incorrigibly racist that Black Americans could never live in peace in the United States?

Of course there was anti-Semitism in Palestine before 1890. Nobody reasonable could argue with that. Of course the events from 1890 through 1948, and then 1948 through the present made it worse. I don't think anyone reasonable could argue with that.

Arab Muslims are not more fundamentally incorrigibly bigoted than White Christians, despite any selection of racist highlights anyone would decide for whatever reason to compile. I don't think a reasonable person could argue with that.

You can respond, but make it as short or shorter than this. Then we'll really be done. I don't like the idea of deleting comments but please just take the last word.

N. Friedman said...

Arnold,

Your contention previously was that nothing in the Hamas covenant was directed at genocide. I showed that to be a false assertion.

I quoted a scholar Egypt - a leading Islamist scholar at that - who says you are mistaken. Did you read it? Or, are you a person who thinks that your thought trumps contradictory evidence?

Moreover, the issue here is one of history. And, history is directed at uncovering what people say and do. The Antisemitism of the Islamist movement - embodied in historic Palestine by the Hamas - is genocidal as are all of the Islamist groups. And, that is why they quote material that is traditionally associated with genocidal Antisemitism.

You, rather amazingly, compare the Antisemitism of Islamists to that of White Christians. Duh!!! Consider where White Christian Antisemitism led. And, to you, that makes the Antisemitism of the Islamist movement OK? Did you think before you wrote your statement?

Frankly, Arnold, you must be kidding.