The Reason Those Obits on Arafat Rang False





Mr. Troy is the author of Mr. and Mrs. President: From the Trumans to the Clintons. His next book is Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s, which will be published early next year by Princeton University Press. He is Professor of History at McGill University and a member of HNN's advisory board.

The worldwide eulogies lionizing former Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat were predictable, as was the United Nation’s flag flying at half-mast.

Still, it was surprising how many simply glossed over Arafat’s methods. Ignoring terrorism when assessing Arafat is like evaluating Robin Hood without mentioning stealing or Adolf Hitler without mentioning anti-Semitism.  

Here, then, is an underappreciated but corrosive aspect of Arafat’s legacy. It is bad enough that the world excused Arafat’s addiction to terror, making the reprehensible debatable, then justifiable. In blithely ignoring terror, too many politicians, journalists and intellectuals demonstrated that Arafat’s assault on Western civilization was not simply physical – Arafat debased truth itself.

Arafat was lucky to bully his way onto the world stage at a critical passage in intellectual history. The 1960s rebellion against authority rejected traditional, linear notions of truth and storytelling. The French philosopher Jacques Derrida, who also died this fall, was among the many intellectuals who questioned excessive literalism. Derrida’s idea of deconstruction – especially as distorted and popularized – made everything relative: searching for hidden meaning in texts highlighted authors’ ever-shifting perspectives rather than a text’s clarity and authority. At the same time,"Third Worldism" became epidemic in governmental and intellectual circles. Noble movements such as the civil rights movement and the fight against apartheid combined with the gap in wealth and power between modern liberal democracies and struggling former colonies produced a distorted doctrine that only finger-pointed one way. Somehow, only whites could be racist, historic"victims" could use violence freely – and modern democracies were always wrong. Unidirectional Third Worldism gave the world’s"oppressed" tremendous tactical latitude with minimal moral culpability, while putting the onus on the perceived oppressors, usually western powers.

Arafatism applied these abstractions to reality. Terrorism came to be"in the eye of the beholder," and one person’s terrorist became another’s freedom fighter. A modern theory of relativity drained words of their meaning and politicized everything, consistently rationalizing inconsistency and sanitizing the ends to justify nefarious means. Pragmatists who tried distinguishing between"good" terrorism and"bad" terrorism at least had some intellectual integrity because they acknowledged reality. But Arafat’s terrorism – hijacking planes from Europe in 1970, killing Israeli Olympic Athletes in Munich in 1972, shooting American diplomats in the Sudan in 1973, slaughtering Israeli schoolchildren in Ma’alot in 1974 – was too evil, too unpalatable. Similarly, Arafat’s role in turning toward terror after Camp David 2000 was too problematic for those who cast him as the Palestinian Nelson Mandela. The documents Israeli soldiers found linking Arafat to the Al Aqsa terrorists via receipts for reimbursements and rewards, let alone his harsh jihadist rhetoric, again proved too dissonant for the preferred narrative. Better to render Arafat’s crimes invisible, blaming Israeli defenders against the terror for the troubles.

When it became too difficult to deconstruct and relativize, many eulogists retreated to the ubiquitous" cycle of violence" posture. Treating the violence Arafat spawned as a meteorological phenomenon absolved the Palestinians’ top terrorist of responsibility. Softpedalling Arafat’s role in the collapse of Oslo, a Montreal Gazette obituary reported, vaguely, that in 2000"terrorist attacks stepped up and frightened many average Israelis." Such reporting made the attacks seem natural, uncontrollable events like winter storms.  

In April 2002, at an anti-globalization and supposed"pro-peace" rally in Washington, pro-Palestinian protestors held up signs supporting suicide bombers saying,"Martyrs not murderers." These mostly 20-something, Nike-clad, latte-sipping, self-righteous armchair warriors, blithely justifying the murder of commuters, café-goers and Passover seder participants, are the bastard children of Arafat’s murders and Derrida’s musings. Arafat was not just the Typhoid Mary of international diplomacy, spreading the bug of terrorism worldwide by demonstrating how his violent tactics could work; Arafatism was a moral virus to which modern intellectuals proved particularly susceptible. When otherwise peaceful people support violence, judge western countries harshly and disproportionately, ignore the sexism or sadism or even racism of"people of colour," mortgage their critical faculties to support"a cause," they further Arafat’s epistemological epidemic, his assault on truth, linearity and consistency.

Arafat is now dead and buried. But his signature tactic – terrorism – survives, as does the modernist tendency to distort reality to perpetuate political postures. Tragically, typically, Arafat’s funeral – and its coverage – epitomized this phenomenon, which is as intellectually bankrupt as it is morally disreputable.


comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Logic appears to be yet another subject which you failed in school.

Dredging up one Palestinian voice obsessed with returning to the old houses in Tel Aviv does not prove that "not a single" Palestinian is willing to trading away those rights in return for peace, security, compensation, and a two-state solution. You are flailing in the wind to avoid admitting that your absurd blanket claim is patently false.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"Israel employs the same right that Germany and France employ"

This is a total croc. Germans 2000 years ago worshipped druids and Gods with horned helmets, yet Germany today does not grant every Pagan and tree-worshipper in the world a right of "aliyeh" to the Teutonic homeland.

I personally have no objection to Israel exercising its sovereign right
to admit whomever it wants to its territory, nor (what is becoming more important) fulfilling its obligation to allow its citizens to flee from the madness being perpetrated there by people and rulers of all ethnicities and religions), but neither this, nor Arafat's sins, nor Hamas terrorism can justify the deliberating distorting world history on this website in a lame attempt to whitewash the inhuman oppression and murder of Palestinians.



Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I recognize no sensible reason for responding to your ridiculously irrelevant and hypothethical question. Why did Jews live in displaced persons camps in Europe in 1945 ? Why didn't they just go home to Poland and the USSR ? Why don't you read a history book once in a while instead of wasting the whole day surfing conspiracy theory websites for myths about Palestinians ? Clean up your own act first, before trying to force my thoughts into your warped and ignorant world view.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I am familiar with the jist of Germany's rather archaic law from circa 1913. It it is NOT based on religion, nor does it go back 2000 years in determining ancestral qualifications for citizenship or immigration. It has little relevance to Israel's unique religious-based identity, has still less pertinence to the challenges of finding peace in the Near East, and nothing at all to do with Arafat.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


"at the sovereign discretion of Israel"


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

In the interest of relevancy, that great rarity on HNN, I would like to steer the discussion away from remedial third grade lessons in history and logic and back towards the originally posed issue of Arafat's obituaries.

I read a reasonable range of news media. Of course, discussions of Arafat's legacy varied, but I certainly encountered a general consensus in mainstream organs such as New York Times, PBS, BBC, etc. that he was an important historical figure who inspired the Palestinians and forced the world to recognize their problems, but who failed to make the transition from underground rabble-rouser and guerrilla fighter to effective statesman. It is the latter which Palestine now needs more urgently than anything else, and that is why Arafat's passing is a general source of optimism. Ultimately, at least in most informed and objective commentaries, Arafat was seen as much as a symbol of the moral and practical failures of the Palestinian movement as a symbol of hope for it.

"Lionizing eulogies" for Arafat were even more on the fringe than were sober critiques of Ronald Reagan.

What "rings false"are the repeated warped hypocritical historical distortions of Troy, Pipes, Klinghoffer and HNN which underlie the remarkably one-sided "my Israel right or wrong" propaganda messages dominating this website's coverage of the Mideast.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I don't know what is going on in your personal life that causes such a venting of ignorant hot air here, nor do I particularly care. I can only judge the actual statements posted. Based on them, however,I have been puzzled for some time, but especially last week, by your incessant, childish and misguided claim about my not knowing "how to read". I am beginning to think now that this weird obsession may be a reflection of your own problems in this area.

Here is what your Wikipedia quote ACTUALLY said about Anti-Semitic centrality. NOTE (another favorite word of yours that you might try personally adopting once in a while) that this Wikipedia excerpt consists of a list of 12 "Key elements of the Nazi ideology". It makes NO statement, express or implied, as to which of those 12 is the most "central":

Re: Jews, Fascists, causation (#48088)
by N. Friedman on December 5, 2004 at 11:33 PM
Peter,

This from Wikipedia:

******************
Key elements of the Nazi ideology
National Socialist Program
Racism, especially anti-Semitism, which eventually culminated in the Holocaust.
The creation of a Herrenrasse by the Lebensborn (A department in the Third Reich)
Anti-Slavism, though not to the extent of the other common racisms of the period.
Belief in the superiority of the Caucasian, Germanic or Aryan/Nordic races.
Euthanasia and Eugenics with respect to "Racial Hygiene"
Anti-Marxism, Anti-Communism, Anti-Bolshevism
The denial of democracy, with as a consequence the ending the existence of political parties, labour unions, and free press.
Führerprinzip/belief in the leader (Responsibility up the ranks, and authority down the ranks.)
Strong show of local culture.
Social Darwinism
Defence of Blood and Soil (German: "Blut und Boden" - represented by the red and black colors in the Nazi flag)
"Lebensraumpolitik", "Lebensraum im Osten" (The creation of more living space for Germans)


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


"Simply put, they had no homes: Their families were all dead, their villages repopulated by non-Jews, and all trace of their existence virtually gone."

Sounds like a fair description of Eastern European Jews after 1945, or of Palestinians after 1948, but I won't ask that you "walk in the other man's moccasins" by finding the appropriate counterpart to the documentary you cited, or even that you bother to use a spell checker, which I have done for you on your quote above. Just set aside your ingrained hypocrisy long enough to read and ponder the following statement from Jewish-American playwright Arthur Miller's "Incident at Vichy":

"Even the Jews have their Jews"


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Your main point is valid but does not address my main point: relevancy.
Friedman is illogically trying to claim that because Germany has an internationally extreme "return" policy therefore it is okay for Israel to have one too, but not okay for the Palestinians to claim anything comparable. I have learned the difficulties of trying to straighten out his bullheaded and childish thought processes, but the simple reality is that none of this has very much to do with Arafat's death or the chances for peace after it.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Sorry, I retract and apologize for the gratuitous (but severely provoked -see the Frankfurt article last week) remark about hypocrisy. I failed to note the change of counterparty


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I am not a lawyer, but I accept the statements of the principals at the time, and the contemporaneous conclusions of the news media, that this boils down to a token face-saving acceptance of a limited number of Palestinians back into Israel, a level small enough to have no appreciable effect on Israel's demographic problem (its only legitimate reason for not accepting a sizable fraction of those whose families were displaced). You may have a different interpretation of the various whys and wherefores, but your credibility is frankly negligible compared to that of the major news organs.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


You said that anti-Semitism was "listed as central by Wikepedia".
It was not. Wikipedia listed it as one of twelve elements. I am not going to apologize for your mistakes or lack of knowledge of history. It is perfectly silly to be splitting hairs over how important anti-Semitism was to the Nazis' rise to power, on a page having to do with the legacy of Arafat, but I'll repeat one last time the historically mainstream view: if anti-Semitism were the principal determining force behind Nazism, then Nazism would have developed in one of the many other countries that was more anti-Semitic than early 20th century Germany. Like Poland, for instance. Anti-Semitism was, of course, central to the Holocaust, but the Holocaust was not central either to the rise of fascism or the origins of World War II.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I have no problem with any of your valid points, Adam, ( in #48440) which, to me, add up to the conclusion that it is high time to stop dredging around for excuses, now that the legitimate complaints about Arafat no longer apply, and work towards giving the Palestinians their state under an arrangment of mutual peace and security with Israel (e.g. ala the Geneva plan).

RE my reference elsewhere to Miller: He was, of course, not commenting on the Palestinian question, nor is the implied historical parallel a very viable one, but it is nonetheless hypocritical of the current Israeli establishment to deny the suffering of innocent Palestinians at its hands while continuing to make a sacred cause out of the (of course, historically different) suffering of Jews in the Holocaust. It is tiresome and silly to imply that wrongs inflicted in Kielce, for example, somehow justify the forced explusions of a completely different group of people from Tel Aviv.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Adam, You could argue that anti-Semitism was at the core of Hitler's world view, although Hitler specialists would probably be more equivocal on the matter, but the rise of the Nazis to power in the Weimar regime had other factors much more important than anti-Semitism behind it. Beware the trap of reading history backwards. Many Jews in the early 1930s understandably thought it crazy to leave the perceived relative safety of Germany for other countries much more famously anti-Semitic, especially Russia.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I don't recall you saying it in your last few hundred posts here, but it is undoubtedly "a fact" that in 99% of all wars in recorded history both sides "fought to make" members of the other side "into dead people or, if they survived, refugees".

What this fact has to do with the death of Arafat, or the price of beans, can only be in YOUR head, however.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I am not sure it is "nonsense", so much as uninformed bigotry, but the tens of millions of non Jews whose ancestors or family members were slaughtered in the name of Nazi ideology, but for reasons having nothing to do with either antisemitism or Holocaust denial, would not be impressed by your latest comment. I doubt that AIPAC would be very impressed either because in that case, I suppose you would not be "spouting" here anyway.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This is a typically warped, biased, and incomplete HNN article.

The Nobel Peace Prize has a long and distinguished history that is recognized and appreciated by the civilized world. It is handed out annually by the parliament of a country whose last war was a war of resistance against Nazi invasion and occupation. Ignorant Europhobia cannot erase that record.

Rabin and Arafat received the Nobel peace award in the 1990s for real and positive accomplishment, not as some kind of reward for terrorism, as HNN mythmakers claim or pretend. The two-state solution set forth by the Oslo agreements remains the only viable means to some kind of normal civilized existence for the Mideast. Indeed, far from encouraging terrorism, Rabin was murdered by terrorists because of his brave visions.

Arafat, it must be acknowledged, was less brave, less wise, and much less morally consistent, and his behavior in his latter years (after Rabin's assassination) was not generally in accordance with the constructive moves towards peace which he and Rabin made during the Oslo period. It is nonetheless a myth encouraged, if not mouthed, by most Mideast commentaries on HNN, and the kneejerk rightwing Israeli lobby in America which they lazily or foolishly ape, that Arafat was the only obstacle to peace in recent years (while, simultaneously, being somehow "irrelevant"). No doubt, he was was a very important obstacle: this is evidenced by the new possibilities springing up after his demise. That there were, and still are, many other obstacles is, however, also becoming increasingly clear by the now frantic efforts to find new scapegoats to rationalize continued suicidal eye-for-an-eye violence and destruction in that crazy little patch of desert.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Genocide means the attempt to systematically kill an entire group. It cannot apply even to native Americans who were indeed 90% wiped out, but not systematically (but rather as an unintended consequence of introduced European diseases). A much closer term for what the current government in Israel has been doing to Palestinians is apartheid, but even that will not be appropriate if the Palestinians are finally given the state which they (as much as the Israelis) deserve. In that case the appropriate phrase would be common sense. Arafat's death removes the last semi-viable excuse for avoiding common sense.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


The Sharon regime is, of course, not wiping Arab culture (how could it ? why should it ?) but it has been wiping out Palestinian infrastructure, property, natural environment, and innocent lives while taking little effective action against the Palestinian extremism it pretends to be targeting. Of course, the apartheid analogy is not perfect and has been subject to propagandistic abuse by Palestinian polemicists (who are represented in roughly one comment or article per thousand here at the biased HNN), but that does not render the analogy invalid. A fearful minority is systematically oppressing a majority in the occupied territories and the whole barbaric network of intimidation, insults, discrimination, checkpoints, walls, and ghastly Auschwitz-resembling "settlements" looks, acts, and quacks very much like the Bantustans and walled-in white enclaves of racist South Africa. Fortunately, whether or not Israel now manages to find its way slowly back to the common sense and basic civilized behavior that mostly prevailed there before 2001 does not depend on ignorant American bigots brainwashed by AIPAC and its ilk.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


You make some good points Adam, but this is not among them:

"The only obstacle to peace is, and has been for a very long time, terrorism"

Surely you are not as ignorant of history as this ridiculous monocausal claim would suggest.

As for the Nobel Peace prize, it is relevant here in several senses. Particularly concerning this website: I can't give precise figures, but the number of articles about the Israeli-Palestinian feud over the past 3 years I would estimate at roughly 30 times the number of mentions of the word Rabin, on this supposed history site. If you regard that as normal and unbiased, then you know something about Mideast history that I don't know.

The prize is given out, as you indicate, for accomplishments, not in response to a lifetime character test. Begin was a terrorist, yet got it. Sharon was a war criminal, yet if he pulls off some kind of real deal with Mazen, he may conceivably manage to get it too.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Adam, Taking your last point first, the proportion of “raw emotion” depends partly on the degree of reasonableness of the discussion party. I have read enough of your posts here in recent months to know that you are one of the more reasonable commenters on this website, but your specific comment here (#48535) addresses a comment of mine that was not addressed to you.

I already discussed the propagandistic abuse of the term apartheid. The same, of course applies to Auschwitz. Other than than the fact that they are a monstrous hypocritical atrocity and extremely hideous to look at, the settlements of Jewish fanatics on the West Bank, of course, bear essentially no resemblance at all to World War II concentration camps. If it makes you feel better, I withdraw that reference. It’s only postive value is perhaps to underscore the hypocrisy of a country originally based on freedom from oppression that is now engaging in it, as a matter of systematic policy. The same caveats also applies to your comments re Israel-bashing, which I have never engaged in. I would remind you, however, that just because Israel is routinely and unfairly denounced, and has been since at least 1947, does not mean that Israel is therefore free of error or immorality. Rabin and Sharon were soldiers in the same army, but as leaders they were as different as night and day, and that difference is not based in the slightest on the more or less steady stream of anti-Israel propaganda that continues and would have continued with or without differential behavior on the Israeli side.

Finally, I think you are simply factually wrong in believing that Sharon has either been effective at wiping out Hamas or even trying very hard to do so. He has certainly been pretending to focus on that problem, but that is not the same thing as actually focusing on it. He spent most of the first two years of his administration obsessing on isolating Arafat, with gratuitous insults on the side to America, and any other country that ever questioned his tactics, and on exacting collective punishment against innocent Palestinians, e.g. pretty much exactly what Hamas would have wanted. Lately, using unacceptably barbaric tactics, his forces have indeed stepped up targeted attacks upon Hamas leaders, but this has amounted to a fools eye-for-an-eye revenge. The strength of Hamas does not lie in its weapons, the buildings its agents happen to be hiding in at any given time, or even to any great degree, its leadership. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and all the others going back to PFLP etc. derive their real strength from the hearts and minds of ordinary Palestinians. Thanks to Sharon, those extremist groups have been greatly strengthened in that key respect in recent years, no matter how many of them are killed, or how brutal or non-brutal the collateral damage. As I have pointed out before, death is not an effective deterent against suicide bombers, and it is idiotic if not downright criminally negligent to pretend otherwise.The only silver lining, if it can be so described, is that Arafat’s blunders were even more disastrous to non-terrorist Palestinians than were Sharon’s brutalities, so that the possibility of now finally escaping from the downward spiral of those blunders is temporarily blunting the tremendous and long-lasting increase in hatred of Israelis caused, and I think at least partly deliberately, by Sharon’s foolish, hypocritical, and uncivilized oppression and state-run murder.




Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Okay, you are back to your usual reasonable self again.

Your now more qualified version of terrorism's causal significance is still not very convincing, however. If Mideast terrorism were to magically end (when and where has this ever happened in human history, by the way ?) would that somehow also erase messianic Zionism, anti-Semitism, and the fact that there is only one Jerusalem and one set of watersheds to be divided amongst millions of people including both the ones with power and the ones with high rates of reproduction ?

If Rabin had lived would Clinton have failed as he did with Barak and Arafat ? Would Rabin have allowed Sharon to go the Temple Mount ? With Rabin as prime minister, would Arafat have been tempted to launch a second "intifada" resulting in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Israelis and the counterproductive revenge slaughtering of thousands of innocent Palestinians ? Are these irrelevant questions ? Why in its hundreds of articles on the Mideast has HNN barely ever touched them ? Something stinks around here and it is not an excess of pro-Palestinian BS (which is not hard to detect on other websites).

Just because someone has died does not make him irrelevant. Begin and Sadat are both dead, but the security situation in the Mideast today would be much different if Israel and Egypt were still at war having not signed the 1979 Camp David land-for-peace deal.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Every refugee group is unique in some sense. Israel is also highly unique in offering an automatic "welcome home after 2000 years" to Jews from anywhere else.

I also don't believe that the Arab refugee issue is the greatest stumbling block to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Basically, it is more or less solvable with money. After the fall of communism in East Europe, for example, there was great concern about the many property claims of those dispossessed in the 1940s. I don't suppose that all such outstanding disputes have yet been happily adjudicated, but you certainly don't read about this issue in the newspapers any more today.

The basic qui pro quo reached in the Geneva agreements of last year, which will undoubtedly form the core of any post-Arafat land-for-peace deal, were that the Palestininans would renounce the right of return and Israel paid compensation. (Not that one hundred percent of each populace would ever be satisified with this or any deal).

No, the main barrier to peace so far has been the unwillingness of most participants to acknowledge and confront the real deal-busters, and biggest enemies of peace, security, and human rights in the region: the fanatics, Israeli and Palestinian, who would kill and be killed before they would compromise one inch on their obsessive goals of total domination of the area.

For all his barbaric blunders, Sharon has at least recognized the need to face down the fanatics in his own ranks. That is something neither Barak nor Arafat were willing to do, but it is essential (both for Sharon, or his successor, and whoever ends up replacing Arafat).
If that happens, then Adam Moshe's "everything else can be compromised" scenario has at least a fighting chance. I am not talking about a 100% end to terrorism, anti-Semitism, militant Zionism, or any other such impossible alteration in fundamental human nature. I am talking about a general recognition of what the two sides are in the Mideast: The core struggle there is between a murderous maniacal minority (Jewish, Christian, and Moslem) versus the larger, suspicious and resentful but life-affirming and peace-wanting, majority (Jewish, Christian, and Moslem).



Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I don't know what all this erasure business is about, but will simply revisit my basic point which started off this sub-thread. I am not a fan of facile and misleading historical analogies, neither on basic principles, nor as frequently used in HNN articles and headlines, nor in the specifically biased and deceptive way that HNN uses them in most of its Mideast coverage. Nevertheless, if one must resort to crude sloganeering rather than insightful historical analysis, then "apartheid" is roughly 100 times more appropriately applied to Sharon's policies during 2001-04 than is "genocide".

I would agree that Sharon is a clever and dogged opportunist, and that is why is his prior policies of collective punishment which were always a disaster for Israel's long term security and now make no sense even in his own selfish short term political calculus, are likely be reversed. But hardliners, Israeli and Palestinian alike, will both try hard to disrupt the Israeli government's likely turn towards common sense, compromise, and civilized behavior.Will HNN ever stop kowtowing to those extremists ? I am not optimistic, but time will tell.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


You are right that Bush is dumber than Sharon.

RE: "...refugees could, in theory, be compensated...I have yet to read a single Palestinian who says that such is an acceptable substitute for their alleged "right of return."

Perhaps Reuters is based in Europe. You should not hide your eyes from it for that reason. Here is the article you obviously missed or forgot (note in particular the 5th, 7th and 9th paragraphs):


World Leaders Back 'Geneva' Mideast Peace Plan

Dec. 1, 2003

By Robert Evans

GENEVA (Reuters) - World leaders past and present voiced firm support on Monday for an unofficial Middle East peace plan shaped by regional "doves" but denounced as treason by both Israeli officials and Palestinian militants.

As its authors, self-proclaimed moderates from both sides of Palestinian-Israeli divide, launched the plan at a ceremony in Geneva, senior figures around the globe called it a ray of hope in one of the most intractable international conflicts.

"The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has taken far too great a toll already. Both peoples have paid dearly in lives and livelihood in a war which both are losing," declared a statement from 58 former presidents, prime ministers and U.N. officials.

Hailed at the two-hour ceremony by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter as offering an end to bloodshed, the plan also won messages of support from King Hassan III of Morocco, British Prime Minister Tony Blair , President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Bill Clinton , U.S. president from 1993 to 2001...

The "Geneva Initiative" was co-authored by former Israeli government minister Yossi Beilin, an architect of the now almost defunct 1993 Oslo peace accords, and former Palestinian minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, and negotiated in secret over two years.

It goes further than Oslo by mandating the removal of most Jewish settlements in Palestinian areas and splitting Jerusalem, occupied in 1967 but annexed unilaterally later by Israel, into the capitals of Israel and a new Palestinian state.

Its Palestinian negotiators accepted wording waiving the claims of millions of people to return to lands in Israel from which they fled or were driven in the 1948 Middle East war.

Although also reviled by the right-wing Israeli government, the plan seems to be gaining ground in the country. A poll on Monday showed 31.2 percent approved, up from 25 percent in October. Opposition dropped from 54 percent to 37.7 percent.

"The only alternative to this initiative is sustained and growing violence," Carter told an audience of about 1,000, people, who included many Israelis and Palestinians specially flown in for the launch.

Fellow Nobel peace prize winners Nelson Mandela of South Africa, via a video link, and Poland's Lech Walesa in person joined Carter in addressing the ceremony in the city where the plan was negotiated in secret over.

Among the 58 signatories of the statement of support were ex-presidents Mikhail Gorbachev of the ex-Soviet Union, Martti Ahtisaari of Finland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, F.W. de Klerk of South Africa and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico.

The European Union 's foreign policy chief Javier Solana sent a message calling it "a powerful example of how civil society efforts can...show Israelis and Palestinians alike that there are partners for peace on the other side."

With an olive tree center-stage, Israeli and Palestinian singers and former top military figures from both sides took part in the ceremony hosted by U.S. actor Richard Dreyfuss.

The plan's roll-out came amid an upsurge of diplomatic efforts to halt the violence, but it also coincided with fresh bloodshed as Israeli forces killed four Palestinians and arrested 30 more in the West Bank earlier on Monday.



Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


There is no reason other than political opportunism why Sharon could not have (a) started building the wall 3 years ago (b) built it on the border to protect Israel instead to carve up Palestine and to protect the West Bank settlements which are in nobody's interest except the murderous fanatics who live there at U.S. taxpayer expense and (c) started pulling out of Gaza three years ago. The reason he did not do anything of these things then is that it was not politically expedient to alienate his extreme right wing given his coalition's razor thin majority in the Knesset at the time. Now, taking opportunistic advantage of the lull due to Arafat’s demise, Sharon has struck a deal with Labor and is proceeding to shaft his former fanatic allies. A shrewd maneuver worthy of Tricky Dick Nixon indeed.

Your comparison of Sharon's West Bank and Gaza massacres with the U.S.'s overthrow of the Taliban and the joint protective force with NATO in Afghanistan is almost too ludicrous for words. We are not populating Afghanistan with settlements of the followers of Jerry Fallwell and David Koresh.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


You are starting to sound like Friedman, Adam, and if that unfortunate trend proceeds to the ultimate extent, it would mean a huge plunge into irrationality and ignorant prejudice. Please see the discussion on the Frankfurt book fair last week for abundant examples of where I don't think you really want to go.

Of course, I support the pullout from Gaza. My complaint was that it could and should have been done years ago, before thousands of Palestinians had innocent family members needlessly killed, and will now hate (and in some cases seek revenge upon) innocent Israelis for decades as a result.

We have been through discussions of Israel's borders before. They have been recognized by the civilized world since the 1940s and '50s, and appeared on every map in that civilized world since. (Of course the civilized world does not include Hamas.) The international recognition of the border is notwithstanding the '67 war, which was supposed have been about obtaining a TEMPORARY occupation to provide Israel with more defensible frontiers pending the peace agreements which have since come with Egypt and Jordan (and some day, perhaps, Syria). It is pure extremist claptrap to pretend otherwise, and someone of your intelligence ought to be ashamed of repeating propagandistic nonsense instead of using your God-given brain to objectively discover the factual history of the region.

The sanctity of borders and the need to take collective action against aggressive wars of territorial aggrandizement are at the very core of modern international law and the UN charter. It was on that basis that the UN went into Korea in the '50s and Iraq in 1990. That is the reason for the unchanged crazy-quilt of lines running through Africa and East Europe. It is also the reason for the unequivocal renunciation by GW Bush of territorial claims on Afghanistan or Iraq (in contrast to Sharon re the West Bank). I could nevertheless maybe understand, though not support, a denial of Israel's borders if that denial served some vital interest of Israel (never mind the US, which is my, and I guess your, native country), but it does not. Denying the border only serves the interest of the fanatical expansionist settlers who murdered probably the best Israeli prime minister ever. The main difference between these religious kooks and Hamas is that Hamas does not have an IDF to carry out its program of violence and murder for it.

I will not attempt to unpack your half-baked fable about "opposing Israel speaking negatively". As for the general approach, Israel is perfectly capable of using its informant networks to arrest and capture Hamas members and other terrorists; it has been doing that for years. The only rationale I can see for using bulldozers, tanks and missiles instead of SWAT type teams, is (a) a moral hypocrisy that says: better to kill 100 innocent Palestinians, through “collateral damage”, than risk one Israeli death and (b) a deliberate desire to fan the long term flames of future back-and-forth violence. I have no doubt that this latter stance is one taken by small but determined minorities of both Palestinians and Israelis.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Re Sharon's flip flopping: It is precisely because he is a shrewd opportunist (with a huge ego), that he is not playing it safe by sticking with his old (popular with the right wing though ultimately stupid) policies. It would also look rather lame after all the anti-Arfat hype, not to make some changes now that Arafat has gone. He sees a chance to make his mark on history ala Begin and Nixon (for the reasons you outlined). He made it clear that he would do almost anything to avoid talking to Arafat, but is probably willing to change hats and become a peace negotiator with other Palestinians now that Arafat is no more. Sharon has a reputation for being something of a wheeler dealer, even a charmer, and I expect that that side of his personality is now being polished up for the joint Likud-Labor push on the Gaza withdrawal, and, if things go that far, for a "summit" with Abbas. Certainly, he has an unpalatable personal past and would no doubt like to leave something a bit more positive for HIS eulogizers, even if their obits "ring" just as "false" as SOME of those for Arafat clearly did.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


You claimed that "not a single Palestinian" is willing to give up the right to return (your current favorite excuse for why Israel has not obligation to do anything to solve the Mideast mess -because it's all the Palestinians' and Europeans' fault, apparently). Reuters reports otherwise. I believe Reuters.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Adam, You have lapsed again from reasonableness.

Hamas is not an architect nor a supporter of the Geneva plan, nor is it the elected spokesman for the majority of Palestinians. My point was that Hamas et. al. and the Jewish settler movement et. al. are TOGETHER the problem. Your simply reinforce that point, but in a biased way (by ignoring one of the two sets of murderous fanatics).

Your first BBC article proves the contrary to what you claim. It shows how Palestinians, when treated reasonably, can renounce the sort of indoctrinated hatred you describe


N. Friedman - 12/13/2004

Adam,

As for Sharon, I think he has a number of goals in mind, including, among others,: (1) the removal of people from Gaza tends to silence critics in Europe, (2) the removal reduces the cost of defending such people from the Jihadis, (3), such tends also to limit criticism of Israelis policy in the West Bank.

Whether or not such helps end the Jihad is another matter. I have no idea although I am skeptical - as I would be if Israel merely stood by its guns, so to speak -. I do not think the dispute has much to do with Israel's boundaries. Instead, the dispute is and has always been existential.

Even the most superficial knowledge of that region's politics shows that Israel is not any more accepted today than it was in 1948. While some elites argue for settlement with Israel, the average man on the street has yet to agree, and even the elites, for the most part, argue that, Israel will in time be destroyed by demographics. Which is to say, the likes of Sadat - assuming we know the real Sadat - are few and far between in the Arab world.


N. Friedman - 12/13/2004

Adam,

The Palestinian Arabs want Jews out of all areas where Palestinian Arabs are in the majority. Which is to say, if the world stays as it is but the Palestinian Arabs become a majority in pre-June 5, 1967 Israel, Jews would be asked to leave - and probably not so politely.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/13/2004

N,
My post was meant more in jest and to highlight the problem when words are thrown around without any concern as to their actual meaning.

You are right, of course. There is no reason why the settlements are hindering the peace process in any way. If the settlers don't mind living in a Palestinian state, let them do so but let them be warned. When the massacres happen, which they undoubtedly will, and when men, women, and children are murdered for the crimes of being Jewsish, expect no help or sympathy from the international community who, like our friend Peter, views anyone in that situation as a "fanatic" no better than terrorists themselves.

That being said, I see no reason why a future Palestinian state must be "cleansed" of all Jews in order to viable. Sharon is wrong to force them out, just as he would be wrong to insist that they all retain Israeli jurisdiction.


N. Friedman - 12/13/2004

Adam,

The fanatic allegation is pushed by people who oppose the settlement program. They allege - without knowing or caring who particular settlers are - that the settlers are fanatics. Some, no doubt are. However, the fanatics mostly - and this is ironic - take the view that they would stay in the West Bank even if that means being ruled by Palestinian Arabs.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/13/2004

Mr. Friedman,
It depends on how one defines fanatic. Some people seem to think that being concerned with security and not caring that your children might be blown up by terrorists is fanatical. Some might think that a fanatic is someone who should allow its arch enemy to become a state, raise an army, gets international alliances, and plan your destruction. Much like words such as "opportunist," one's definitions become very important.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/13/2004

Peter, I honestly do not mean for this to sound like ganging up on you, but I concur with the comments of Mr. Friedman, and have my own to add (forgive the redundancy, I wrote my response before reading what else was said).

1) “Of course, I support the pullout from Gaza. My complaint was that it could and should have been done years ago, before thousands of Palestinians had innocent family members needlessly killed, and will now hate (and in some cases seek revenge upon) innocent Israelis for decades as a result.”

Thank you for the clarification. I understand your position on Gaza although I still do not understand how it is that you seem to totally ignore Israeli victims of terrorism. I hear tremendous sympathy for Palestinian civilians, as well as militants, murderers, and terrorists, but so long as Israeli critics seem to believe that their security concerns do not even have to be addressed, or their grievances has no place in the discussion, there will never be peace. If I cannot trust you to care about Israeli security concerns, as we are merely 2 people who don’t know each other on this HNN blog, how on earth is Israel supposed to trust Palestinians whose opinion is even more unequivocal?

2) “We have been through discussions of Israel's borders before. They have been recognized by the civilized world since the 1940s and '50s, and appeared on every map in that civilized world since.”

You may care to rethink that statement. Almost no countries in the Arab world recognize those borders, not Egypt, not Syria, not Iraq, etc. As for the 1948 borders, that was before the 1967 war. Remember, the political realities on the ground often change in times of warfare. I can think of few instances where this is not the case.

3) “It is pure extremist claptrap to pretend otherwise, and someone of your intelligence ought to be ashamed of repeating propagandistic nonsense instead of using your God-given brain to objectively discover the factual history of the region.”

Please do not take my word for it, do the research. An Egyptian professor of mine recently said that in Egypt, Israel is not to be found on any map, only Palestine. This is how she was raised and grew up.

4) “The sanctity of borders and the need to take collective action against aggressive wars of territorial aggrandizement are at the very core of modern international law and the UN charter. It was on that basis that the UN went into Korea in the '50s and Iraq in 1990.”

It is funny you should bring up those 2 cases because in both cases, it involved the US and allies preventing the takeover of one state by another, the very thing that Arab countries tried to do to Israel in 1967. Guess what? We still have troops in S. Korea and in Iraq, and were it not for China in 1950, we would have totally occupied N. Korea.

5) “It is also the reason for the unequivocal renunciation by GW Bush of territorial claims on Afghanistan or Iraq (in contrast to Sharon re the West Bank).”

Do you have any direct quotes to validate your claim that Sharon has territorial claims on the West Bank?

6) “Denying the border only serves the interest of the fanatical expansionist settlers who murdered probably the best Israeli prime minister ever.”

Peter, I frankly do not believe you have the moral authority to lament the death of Rabin when you seem to show so much sympathy for so many other murderers. At least Rabin was a political figure who knew the risks. Children in a restaurant and in clubs, and elderly people praying have done nothing to earn their ghastly murders, other than that crime many Jews have committed in the past: being born. I am comforted to hear you lament the death of at least one Israeli person, but as I have said, he knew the risks, as did Arafat. This is why you have such praise for Rabin and I have such contempt for Arafat.

7) “The main difference between these religious kooks and Hamas is that Hamas does not have an IDF to carry out its program of violence and murder for it.”

Actually, the main difference of relevance is that these groups are regularly arrested for any crimes they commit, and they do not enjoy any popular support among Israelis.

8) “As for the general approach, Israel is perfectly capable of using its informant networks to arrest and capture Hamas members and other terrorists; it has been doing that for years.”

If you honestly believe that Israel can simply march into the territories covertly, peacefully arrest some Hamas terrorists, and then take him back to Israel, then I can say only that I disagree 100% and have seen no evidence that such a thing would be possible. To put it simply, Israeli intelligence is not good enough to know where a terrorist, not only is at the moment, but will be by the time it takes to plan such an operation. Keep in mind that most of the intelligence Israel gets is short term, as people tend to move. During the war in Iraq, we didn’t even know where Saddam Hussein was, and so we bombed the one place we thought he might be at the moment. If the US in incapable of detaining Saddam during the initial stages of the war, as well as his 2 sons, why on earth should Israel be expected to? Do you believe that if we knew where bin Laden was, we could simply send in the NYPD to arrest him?

9) “The only rationale I can see for using bulldozers, tanks and missiles instead of SWAT type teams, is (a) a moral hypocrisy that says: better to kill 100 innocent Palestinians, through “collateral damage”, than risk one Israeli death and (b) a deliberate desire to fan the long term flames of future back-and-forth violence.”

Peter, it is clear that your disdain and mistrust of Israel mirrors that of the Palestinians. Given your opinion of Israeli intentions, it should be no surprise why people like myself believe that there is no hope for peace. The Palestinians will get their state, of that you can be assured, it is only a matter of time. However, 100 years from now, this will still be a conflict waging on.

10) “It is precisely because he is a shrewd opportunist (with a huge ego), that he is not playing it safe by sticking with his old (popular with the right wing though ultimately stupid) policies.”

So you believe that an opportunist is one who takes risks and does not play it self by sticking with old failed policies? Had you defined the term before, I would have been happy to agree, Sharon is a major “opportunist.”

11) “It would also look rather lame after all the anti-Arfat hype, not to make some changes now that Arafat has gone.”

Arafat JUST dies. The Gaza withdraw plan has been in controversy for some time now. Your chronology is way off.

12) “He sees a chance to make his mark on history ala Begin and Nixon (for the reasons you outlined). He made it clear that he would do almost anything to avoid talking to Arafat, but is probably willing to change hats and become a peace negotiator with other Palestinians now that Arafat is no more.”

And if Sharon does what you say, he will earn the respect of many in the world, and the wrath of some who will forever suspect nefarious motives and never trust whatever is produced. Indeed, if being such a shrewd opportunist means working for peace if one has a viable peace partner, then again, I agree with the label.


N. Friedman - 12/12/2004

Peter,

You write: "I will not attempt to unpack your half-baked fable about "opposing Israel speaking negatively". As for the general approach, Israel is perfectly capable of using its informant networks to arrest and capture Hamas members and other terrorists; it has been doing that for years. The only rationale I can see for using bulldozers, tanks and missiles instead of SWAT type teams, is (a) a moral hypocrisy that says: better to kill 100 innocent Palestinians, through “collateral damage”, than risk one Israeli death and (b) a deliberate desire to fan the long term flames of future back-and-forth violence. I have no doubt that this latter stance is one taken by small but determined minorities of both Palestinians and Israelis."

Contrary to what you think, the Israelis are in a war. Use of SWAT teams works in civil society, not in war. To suggest what you do is to distort reality beyond imagination.

I am aware of not one country on Earth which is asked to do - in fact, none are even criticized for not doing - what you are demanding of Israel. While we post, the US and the UK are doing the very things you claim Israel ought not do. France recently did exactly the same thing in the Ivory Coast. Russia has done one thousand times worse (although Russia was criticized but, then again, they have intentionally killed 80,000-100,000 non-combatants, not unintentionally killed 1,500 alleged non-combatants) than Israel in Chechnya. Syria, when faced with a rebellion, flattened an entire city and killed all of its inhabitants (i.e. 20,000 people). Yet, you object to Israeli tactics which, after 4 years of war, have added 1,500 - not tens of thousands (as US tactics in Iraq have allegedly caused) - alleged non-combatants to the unfortunate death count.

The goal, Peter, is to bring the war to an end. Your strategy allows the Palestinians to predict, in advance, the cost of committing massacres. That, in fact, tends to make the war run longer. In short, what you are saying makes no sense, logically or practically.

Morally speaking, the Israelis have been far, far too tame. Were they, however, to follow Kant's advice, the Intifadah should be mercilessly crushed with any and all means. That, in the end, will result in fewer casualties than occurred on the slow-motion approach adopted by the Israelis.

With the tactics employed by the Israelis, the Intifadah has - albeit far too slowly -, for all practical purposes, been crushed. Which is to say, the Israelis have basically won their war and such victory should bring results not only locally but should influence any other party which might contemplate, as the Palestinians did, employing massacres as the tactic of first choice. And such is a good thing given that the main threat, just now, to the world concerns people interested in committing massacres for political purposes.

Of course, the Arab Israeli dispute should be settled. However, that would not be possible while the Intifadah continued. Having died down, perhaps such could occur although, frankly, I do not believe there is a settlement in either of our life times.


N. Friedman - 12/12/2004

Peter,

You write: "We have been through discussions of Israel's borders before. They have been recognized by the civilized world since the 1940s and '50s, and appeared on every map in that civilized world since."

In fact, that is incorrect. Israel never had recognized borders in the 1940's through until 1979 when a border with Egypt was reached (note - France does not recognize the Egyptian Israeli treaty, hence, their recognized boundary). To date, there is no recognized boundary with Syria. There is, only since 1994, a recognized boundary with Jordan, which, according to the treaty, runs along the River Jordan. There was a treaty with the PA in 1993 in which a Palestinian state was contemplated but which, as Rabin said at the time, was to be a confederation between Jordan, Gaza and part of the West Bank.

You might note that determining recognized boundaries is a major issue in UN 242. The reason that UN 242 speaks of recognized boundaries is - surprise, surprise, surprise - that, at the time, there were no recognized boundaries.

Morevoer, as the US and the UK and the USSR ambassadors, among others, all said at the time, UN 242 did not require Israel to return to what you call the "recognized" boundaries or to what is, in fact, the Armistice (i.e. Green) line. Such a resolution was, in fact, pushed by the USSR but it did not have a sufficient number of votes on the Security Council.

Note: there is an armistice line between North and South Korea. No one calls it a recognized border because, except for idiots, armistice lines are not recognized boundaries. Note: the whole point of an armistice line is that such line is not recognized.

What you are saying is that parties not affected by the borders (i.e. busybodies like the Europeans) are willing to say, for propaganda purposes, that the armistice line is the boundary between Israel and its neighboring states. But not even the morally bankrupt Europeans can assert, in reality, that an armistice line is a recognized border.

Now, if you actually bother to read UN 242 (and, Peter, shall I post it for you so that you might try to read it?), you will note that it does not call for a Palestinian state. In fact, such was not even contemplated at the time because, in fact, the position of the Arab states at the time was that all of Israel was to be an Arab state (i.e. they rejected UN 181 as well as the results of the war of 1948, 1956 and 1967) and because, in fact, Palestinian Arabs were, at the time, thought of as being the same as Jordanians. UN 242 calls for Israel and the states then at war with Israel (i.e. Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan) to work out recognized boundaries.

If you insist on your nonsense, I shall post UN 242 and make a fool of you.


N. Friedman - 12/12/2004

Peter,

I did not adequately proofread the above. My paragraph should read:

You might go back and read your posts on the Frankfurt book fair. You, I recall, insisted repeatedly that Antisemitism was not at the core of Nazism. You will note that others, including Adam, seem to agree with me that Antisemitism is at the core of Nazism. On the other hand, you kept responding to things I really did not say (i.e. that Nazism is only about Antisemitism). Which is to say, your problem, as I have said repeatedly, is that you do not read very carefully.


N. Friedman - 12/12/2004

Peter,

Your problem is that you do not understand Sharon or the Israelis. They, in fact, want to settle the dispute. Otherwise, they would long ago have done what other countries (e.g. the US) does with unruly populations.

The issue, for the Israelis, has always been how to find a settlement which leaves Israel - a rather tiny country surrounded by countries which do not wish it well (i.e. they hope Israel disapears) - intact. If you do not understand that point, you really do not understand the Israeli perspective - both the right wing and the left wing - at all.


N. Friedman - 12/12/2004

Peter,

"You are starting to sound like Friedman, Adam, and if that unfortunate trend proceeds to the ultimate extent, it would mean a huge plunge into irrationality and ignorant prejudice. Please see the discussion on the Frankfurt book fair last week for abundant examples of where I don't think you really want to go."

You might go back and read your posts on the Frankfurt book fair. You, will recall, insisted repeatedly that Antisemitism was not at the core of Nazism. You will note that others, including Adam, seem to agree with me. On the other hand, you kept responding to things I did not say (i.e. that Nazism is only about Antisemitism). Which is to say, your problem, as I have said repeatedly, is that you do not read very carefully.


N. Friedman - 12/12/2004

Peter,

The West Bank barrier, including its route, is a more complicated issue than you suggest. First, Sharon opposed the barrier at first on the ground that it would be used to define a boundary between the Israelis and the Palestinians - something he hoped to avoid -. Second, barrier could not be built in a manner which left 200,000 people at the mercy of the Palestinian terrorists. Third, the settlements along the Green Line are not going to be dismantled as, in fact, retaining such territory was, as part of UN 242, intended to become part of Israel. You will note that such territories account for some 80% of the settlers.

In reply to your comment, most of the settlers - other than a few thousand nut cases - are ordinary people, not fanatics. The fanatics allegation (i.e. that they are most fanatics) is, frankly, another dishonest allegation that has no basis in fact.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/12/2004

Peter,
Based on your post, it is clear you are adamantly opposed to Israel pulling out of Gaza, which makes absolutely no sense to me… please explain.

1) “There is no reason other than political opportunism why Sharon could not have (a) started building the wall 3 years ago…”

There are many reasons why he did not build the barrier sooner. It is possible that the plan was in the works from the start but construction did not begin until after 3 years of planning, it is possible that at the time, he believed that the intefadah would be short-lived, or perhaps it took him that long to realize that there was no other viable alternative. The fact is, I really don’t know why he waited, or why he chose the barrier at all. But I have seen no evidence that the barrier is simply “opportunism,” rather than a genuine attempt to protect his people.

2) “…(b) built it on the border to protect Israel instead to carve up Palestine and to protect the West Bank settlements which are in nobody's interest except the murderous fanatics who live there at U.S. taxpayer expense…”

What border? There is no border to my knowledge. There is an armistice line that Palestinians have refused to respect. The barrier was built with the intention of securing Israelis, not a unilateral peace plan to simply cede to the Palestinians a state and thus reward the murder of innocent men, women, and children. Of course it protects those settlements, why would it not? The settlers are Israeli citizens and the status of the territory has not been revolved. If the Palestinians are interested in peace, I see no reason why the existence of the barrier will have any long-term effect. What goes up, as they say, can easily come down upon negotiations.

3) “…and (c) started pulling out of Gaza three years ago. The reason he did not do anything of these things then is that it was not politically expedient to alienate his extreme right wing given his coalition's razor thin majority in the Knesset at the time.”

Sharon waited 3 years for a Palestinian peace partner, meeting with the new PM when he was named, and discussing the possibility of a cease-fire. Now you tell me that even though the Palestinians are outraged that this action is unilateral, you would have supported the same move when negotiations might be taking place instead? Frankly, I find that hard to believe. Sharon’s decision to pull out of Gaza has the same rationale as his decision for the barrier: Not as some quick idea that popped into his brain, but as something that he can honestly say there was no other course open to him, and he waited 3 years to find one.

As for his situation in the Knesset, perhaps you have not been following what is happening. Sharon’s problem is not his small majority, it is his own party! Likud PK’s simply do not support his plan and he basically threatened them with new elections if they do not accept Labor into the government. Opportunism? In what possible way? It would be as if Bush, before the election, embraced abortion rights and tax hikes, and then calling him an opportunist when Republicans threaten not to re-nominate him. It simply makes no sense in light of the evidence.

4) “Now, taking opportunistic advantage of the lull due to Arafat’s demise, Sharon has struck a deal with Labor and is proceeding to shaft his former fanatic allies. A shrewd maneuver worthy of Tricky Dick Nixon indeed.”

Extraordinary! I honestly don’t know what you want me or anyone else to say, Peter. Sharon was on the verge of loosing his coalition precisely because of his policies, which were unpopular in his own party and he calls into his government a liberal party dedicated to withdrawing from the territories and you yell, “ah-hah.” You even admit that he is abandoning his “former fanatic allies” and yet somehow suggest that this all proves his nefarious nature?!? I really don’t see your logic Peter, nor am I sure exactly what you want him to do? He is risking his life by pushing for his withdraw plan, and doing so unneccessarily. Why not simply adopt the policies of his party and keep the status quo in tact? That way, he will not generate controversy, he retains his status as a former soldier dedicated to defense, and ensures his hold on power. Again, your theory simply makes absolutely no sense to me.

5) “Your comparison of Sharon's West Bank and Gaza massacres with the U.S.'s overthrow of the Taliban and the joint protective force with NATO in Afghanistan is almost too ludicrous for words.”

I disagree (obviously, or else I would not have said it). Certainly, the historical situation is quite different and the nature of the conflict quite different, but fundamentally, the idea is the same. Bin Laden attacked us, and the Taliban were giving safe haven. The Taliban didn’t attack us, the Afghan people didn’t attack us, Bin Laden did. However, the international community agreed that this justified our invasion.

Now, Hamas et. al. is repeatedly attacking Israel in the same way (terrorism, targeting innocent civilians in civilian areas). The Palestinians are giving them safe haven. The PA does not attack Israel, most Palestinians didn’t actually participate, Hamas, et. al. attack Israel. However, when Israel goes in just as the US did, it is unacceptable, a war crime. When Israel instead just goes after the organization, it is unacceptable. When Israel simply targets those individuals directly responsible, also unacceptable. I would not be surprised if you even opposed Israel speaking negatively about the people who slaughtered their citizens in newspapers.

By all means, justify the invasion of Afghanistan, I do. However, to me, there really is no substantive difference.

As for the so-called "massacres," I will not get into it right now, but I assume you consider any civilian death to be a massacre. I do not. At times, it is part of war. Now when that civilian was actually targeted to be killed, it is called something else: Terrorism.


N. Friedman - 12/12/2004

Adam,

Yes, it does appear we often agree 100% with each other. In that your posts are extremely high quality, I take your complement as high praise indeed. Thank you.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/12/2004

Mr. Friedman,
I certainly did not ask anyone to erase anyone else’s post other than my own. However, I did have the opportunity to read yours before it was removed, and as with other posts you have written, I wholeheartedly agree with your post 100%. I think we share the same beliefs about the perfect legitimacy of criticizing Israel as all nations ought to be criticized, but no more so. Thus I have no problem with those who call Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians immoral, so long as those people also consider immoral the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, and frankly, the regimes of most Middle-Eastern countries.

Peter,
I would not agree that Sharon is a “dogged opportunist,” although I once did. However, although one may disagree with his policies, I don’t see how anyone who follows Israeli politics could call Sharon an opportunist. He is putting his political future, indeed his very life, to stand up against his own Likud party, and the settlements he worked so hard to build. An opportunist? Not unless we use the term differently.

There is an old saying in American politics that only Nixon could go to China. Having established himself as one of the most rapid anti-Communists in American government, Nixon had earned enough credibility to open up relations with China when the very idea would have been political suicide for anyone else. I would not be surprised if a new term does not emerge in 30 years within Israeli politics: Only Sharon could pull out of the territories.


N. Friedman - 12/11/2004

Peter,

You write: "Nevertheless, if one must resort to crude sloganeering rather than insightful historical analysis, then "apartheid" is roughly 100 times more appropriately applied to Sharon's policies during 2001-04 than is "genocide"."

BEFORE RESPONDING, READ WHAT I WRITE SO THAT WE DO NOT HAVE A FRUITLESS DISCUSSION.

If, as you say, apartheid is not appropriate, then why do you employ an innacurate term? Why not debate on the merits?

Here is my view: I believe that your position cannot really be successfully advanced without the use of terms such as "apartheid" and "concentration camp" and Aushwitz," etc., and that is why you cannot move past it even when, in fact, you claim to reject the language. Which is to say, your position only makes sense when you, to quote Howard Jacobson, yoke together likes and unlikes, in this case, Israel's behavior with the basest misdescriptions. By contrast, if you remove such language and examine what Israel actually does, Israel's behavior is rather, historically speaking, moderate given the threats thrown its way.

You write:

"I would agree that Sharon is a clever and dogged opportunist, and that is why is his prior policies of collective punishment which were always a disaster for Israel's long term security and now make no sense even in his own selfish short term political calculus, are likely be reversed. But hardliners, Israeli and Palestinian alike, will both try hard to disrupt the Israeli government's likely turn towards common sense, compromise, and civilized behavior."

BEFORE RESPONDING, READ WHAT I WRITE SO THAT WE DO NOT HAVE A FRUITLESS DISCUSSION.

Evidence, please, that Israel's policy is a political disaster. I am not sure that the policy leads anywhere but, then again, I cannot help recalling that the policy of reconciliation has, thus far, claimed 1,400 Israeli civilians since 1993. And note: I supported Oslo which - and this might sound a bit ironic to you - was, at the time, severely criticized by people who said the policy was opportunistic, naive, short-sighted and would lead to a civil war. The criticism - whatever you think of Israel's policy - appears to have been rather well considered.

My question to you, Peter, is: if reconciliation did not work - and, in this case, there have been numerous attempts - none of them successful with every imaginable proposal discussed - since the 1920's, what makes you so sure that Sharon's policy will not, in fact, work? Sharon's approach, you will note, is really the first time that Israel has adopted the more typical approach employed by countries facing disruptive populations. In fact, so far as I know, his approach has, historically speaking, worked in many disputes.


N. Friedman - 12/11/2004

Adam,

Did you also ask them to remove my reply to you? Or, did the erasure of your post automatically erase my post? Or was some sort of error made?


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/11/2004

Peter,
I asked the editors to erase my response post because it contained some information that I posed accidentally but had no relevance to our conversations.

Since I don’t really have time to repost it, I will simply say that respect and appreciate your withdrawing those claims.

As for the rest of it, I can only say that I disagree and that I believe Israel has been very effective (perhaps too effective) against terrorist, and that all of Sharon’s time has been spent building the barrier and risking his political and physical life to pull out of Gaza. If he can do it, I believe history will look far kinder on him than current pundits.


N. Friedman - 12/11/2004

Adam,


I agree entirely. I think what I posted is rather consistent with what you said. Such was, you will note, my point in criticizing groups such as CAMERA while noting that there is legitimate criticism. And, clearly, much of what passes of comment in the foreign press is mere propaganda. In this, the BBC deserves, frankly, special mention as it has, in fact, done much to legitimize the demonization - entirely unfair, in my view - of Israel.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/11/2004

Mr. Friedman,

I agree with your post that much of the press is bias against Israel in their presentation. Indeed, in some cases, they report information that is not only slanted, but actually wrong or uncorroborated. This is why I often refer to foreign press, such as those based out of Israel like Haaretz or the Jerusalem Post, as well as other press from the region, like the Daily Star out of Lebanon. However, generally, while BBC is unfair and critical of Israel, their stories often have some elements of truth to them.

I agree, discovering the truth can be difficult, but we must always avoid the temptation of falling to the trap of our ideological opponents. Everything Israel does can be explained, but it cannot all be justified. The difference between moral governments and immoral governments is not they moral governments do not commit atrocities or crimes, any time a young man or women is put in an environment surrounded by hostile civilians, stress will often overcome discipline. The real difference is that we who support Democracies over tyrannies recognize these things as atrocities, and punish those responsible. We do not brag or celebrate when a Palestinian child is shot, we ask how it happened, and how it can be avoided. When Israeli extremists plot to kill or harm innocent Arabs, they are arrested and punished, as they should be. And when innocent Palestinians are killed, and the Israeli government provides no explanation or no prosecutions, I have no problem challenging what happened and openly criticizing Israeli actions or lack of actions.

This is the difference between Israel and the Palestinians. For Israel, when civilians are killed, it is either an accident or a crime, never to be advertised or glorified. You will never hear an Israeli PM get on TV and praise the killing of Palestinian civilians, you will never see teachers telling students how wonderful it will be if some of them could murder Arab children.


N. Friedman - 12/11/2004

Adam,

Regarding the colloquy between Peter and you that reads:

by Peter: "2) 'I would remind you, however, that just because Israel is routinely and unfairly denounced, and has been since at least 1947, does not mean that Israel is therefore free of error or immorality.'"

And, then by you: "I would agree 100%. There is absolutely nothing wrong with pointing out unfair, arbitrary, or just plain brutal policies of the Israeli government of Israeli military. There are more than enough examples of civilians killed in cold blood by Israel troops, and so forth. Just as I routinely criticize my own government for actions that it takes that are counter to our ideals or the rules of fair play, I certainly have no problem point them out in another nation."


The problem here is to sort out the difference between fair and unfair criticism. It is not all that easy.

One of the problems is the press. After, most especially, the Jenin affair where there were extensive and detailed reports - evidently based on phoney evidence not even checked by the press in Europe - about the massacre which did not occur but which dominated the European papers, any and all reports with respect to the Arab Israeli dispute have to be taken with more than a grain of sand. In fact, most of what is written ought, before being accepted, be treated skeptically because, quite clearly, much of the press has not even a thinly disguised agenda.

While I do not accept the CAMERA line that there is some magically objective way to examine a highly charged dispute, I see no basis to take what the press writes as likely to be remotely accurate or, even taking into consideration the difficulty in gathering information in the Middle East, remotely fair. One, lately, needs only to recall that the BBC "reporter" - and I use the quotation marks because the behavior of the person calls her alleged belief in her own profession into question - weeping openly when Arafat left the West Bank. And one need only read what passes for journalism in papers such as The Guardian which heavily editorializes the misleading nonsense that settlement of the Arab Israeli dispute - while, of course, desireable - is somehow central to ending the worldwide dispute with the Islamist Jihadis who also blow people up and otherwise terrorize people in Bali, in Pakistan, in Egypt, in Russia, in Spain, in New York, in Washington, in Nigeria, in Morroco, etc., etc.

There are no doubt incidents - as with any dispute that is well entrenched -, and, perhaps, quite a few of Israeli brutality and such deserve to be exposed. However, the press is such that there is no way to know which are real and which are mere propaganda.


N. Friedman - 12/11/2004

Adam,

I have alway enjoyed Peter. However, after reading his apartheid and concentration camp garbage, I have to assume that he does not consider Israel to be a legitimate country and that he considers the lives of Jews less important than the lives of Palestinian Arabs. Israel's existence, not its tactics, is what he appears to object to. Otherwise, he would not object vehemently to Israel's basic strategy which you have so accurately outlined.


N. Friedman - 12/11/2004

Arafat, by his own words, was acting in the tradition of a traditional Jihad leader. He said that he was engaged in a Jihad repeatedly. Such was even said explicitly shortly after the Oslo agreement. He further made plain, repeatedly, that any resolution with Israel was merely a hudna. It is, of course, hoped that his passing will help end the Jihad - and not with a mere hudna.

In fact, the major context of any dispute in the Middle East, for well over a thousand years, concerns Muslim hegomony - of which the Jihad is normally a part and of which, in the case of Israel, the Jihad is certainly part -.

You will note that, with the exception of the Jews and Greeks (and possibly a few others) who have largely been successful, the other groups seeking to escape the grip of Muslim rule (i.e. the Armenians of Syria, Iraq, Turkey etc., the Assyrians of Iraq, the Christians of Lebanon, the Christians [and animists] of Sudan, the Copts of Egypt, the Christians in the PA) have been violently crushed. [And note: far more people were displaced in the Greece's escape from Muslim hegemony than the Israelis are alleged, largely dishonestly, to have displaced.]

The fact is that Muslim hegemony, not Israeli intransigence, is the main theme of the Arab Israeli dispute and explains why there has not been a settlement (not when Israel would have been two small cities [i.e. 1936-7], not when Israel would have been disconnected Bantustans [i.e. 1947-1948], not after the Six Day War and not in 2000 and not even now. In fact, the general uprising in the Muslim world, of which Israel is one of a number of Jihadi targets, renders moot even the notion of anything but a paper settlement anytime remotely soon.



Israel seeks freedom from Muslim hegemony. Even if Israel has every intention of permanently controlling additional territory the size of Rhode Island (i.e. the West Bank) with people thereon who hate Israel, the most significant fact in the dispute is still Muslim hegemony.

Consider: if the dispute really only involved the Palestinian Arabs and the Israelis and the other Muslim/Arab groups did not stand as one, morally, politically and financially speaking, with the Palestinian Arabs, the dispute would have settled long ago. Which is to say, the assumption of the Palestinian Arab is that, with support of 300 million people who call themselves Arabs and a billion people who call themselves Muslim, they will, in the long run win. (And such has been said repeatedly the Arab side of the dispute.) Such fact, not the alleged paucity of any Israeli offer and not the settlement of land by Israelis on land claimed by the Palestinian Arab side, is what keeps the Palestinian Arab side fighting.


N. Friedman - 12/11/2004

Peter,

You write:

"Other than than the fact that they are a monstrous hypocritical atrocity and extremely hideous to look at, the settlements of Jewish fanatics on the West Bank, of course, bear essentially no resemblance at all to World War II concentration camps. If it makes you feel better, I withdraw that reference. It’s only postive value is perhaps to underscore the hypocrisy of a country originally based on freedom from oppression that is now engaging in it, as a matter of systematic policy."

In what way is the migration of people to the West Bank hypocrocritical and hideous to look at? I think that makes no sense at all. It is another abuse of language by you.

While I have not supported settling the West Bank other than in connection with territory which is not to be returned by settlement, the fact is that people settle all over the earth, and with the support of governments, on land claimed by others. Frankly, the issue with the settlements is political, not hypocriscy or appearance or oppression.

As for oppression, I think that is a rather bizarre and ahistorical comment. Recall, 100,000 Jews lived in the West Bank and Jerusalem prior to the war of 1948. A high percentage of such people were born into families which had lived in the West Bank since ancient times (i.e. thousands of years ago). Had such people not been ethnically cleansed from the West Bank by Jordan, their numbers, by now, would be 2 to 3 hundred thousand people, if not more. In a few words, the Israelis are doing nothing oppressive or wrong.

However, what they are doing is not all that rational, politically speaking, at least if such is on land that Israel plans to cede in an effort to end the Jihad - as the Muslim Arab side understands their long standing war against Israel -. However, settlement on land which the Israelis have no intention of ceding is perfectly moral, not hypocritical and not remotely oppressive - unless you hold that people have no right to migrate where they can and unless you hold that the resettlement of land taken by Jordan but, prior to 1948, filled with Jews is wrong -.


N. Friedman - 12/11/2004

Peter,

So that you understand how wrong your use of apartheid, which has nothing to do with Israel is, I below quote from the great novelist Howard Jacobson:

"When Jews demur from the word Holocaust each time there is an instance of man's inhumanity to man, it is not because they think their suffering is keener, or somehow more pristine, than anyone else's. It is simply that one thing is not another thing. When next there is an attempt first to slander and then to wipe out a whole people, to burn away every trace of them and their beliefs from the face of the earth, to make it as though they never were and to ensure they never will be again, Jews will accept that Holocaust is the word.

This is not a species of scholasticism, verbal fastidiousness for its own sake. If we do not properly describe what a thing is like and not like, we do not know what it is. It is in the nature of hatred not to know what a thing is like and not to care. Which is why we say that hatred is blind. Indeed, one of the signs that hatred is being brewed, in an individual or a community, is the deliberate wedding of like to unlike. Brutes yoke unlikes together in haste, enjoying that surge in emotional violence that blurring all distinctions brings."

Howard Jacobson, "Think what you like about Israel, but to equate Zionism with Nazism is simply incendiary," The Independent, April 20, 2002.

Think about it, Peter. What you are now writing is really not right and is really offensive and inappropriate.


N. Friedman - 12/11/2004

Peter,

There are no "ghastly Auschwitz-resembling 'settlements.'." That does not even make logical sense. In fact, such is an outrageous analogy that, frankly, serves no purpose - and is intended as such - other than to incite hatred. I am aghast that you would make such an inapt and inaccurate analogy. Frankly, my opinion of you fades when I see you reach so low.

Again, Peter, there is, instead, something akin to a civil war between the Palestinian Arabs (backed financially and with arms by their Arab and European funders and allies) and the Israelis (backed by the US).

Prior to that civil war - the latest manifestation of a war that has been going on for 80 some years - the living standards of the Palestinian Arabs were comparable to that of Israelis and, moreover, at the very top of the Arab world. The same can be said for the quality of education opportunity available - by far the best in the Arab world -, the quality of medicine that was available - again, by far the best in the Arab world -, the life expectancy of Palestinian Arabs - at the top of the Arab world -, the rights available to Palestinian Arabs - far greater than in any Arab country -, etc., etc. None of that sounds much like apartheid.

Indeed, there is a real dispute but, frankly, the dispute has nothing to do with anything that might be called apartheid because there is nothing akin to apartheid afoot.

Lastly, what you describe has nothing to do with apartheid to begin with because apartheid is an ideology, not a group of practices that have occured for rather different reasons than existed in South Africa. And the group of practices put in place by the Israelis exist largely in order to prevent people from killing each other.

However, I note that Palestinians refer to the Israelis' preventive barrier as an apartheid wall, as if the Palestinians were not, in their educational system, in their mosques and from the PA itself inciting hatred - the key element of the word "apartheid." Would you like to read PA text books, Peter? I guarantee they would make you sick. The same for typical sermons given in mosques. And, frankly, directly by leaders of the PA. And, frankly, such incitement traces back long before the practices you allege as Israeli apartheid.

In any event, as I read the above quoted material, my opinion of you sinks rather low.


N. Friedman - 12/11/2004

Peter,

Post 1:

You seem to think that there is an effective action that Sharon might take. That, I think, is naive. The war, in one form or the other, has been going on for more than 80 years. It has gone on despite serious efforts to find reconciliation. The main reason it continues now is religion and religious disputes are not readily resolved - as the US will know doubt discover with the Islamists -. I note, in particular, a fatwa (i.e. religious edict) that issued in 1936.

To understand that fatwa, consider what follows pages 64 to 65 of the book No God But God, Egypt and the Triumph of Islam, by Geneive Abdo (Oxford University Press 2000). And note, in particular, the last couple of sentences which read: "'We must abide by fatwas issued by senior scholars since 1936, which are official fatwas that forbid dealing with the occupying Jews with any weapon other than jihad (holy struggle) until they evacuate from our lands.'" Note that the year is 1936, not 1967 and not 2004. Note also that a religious edict is involved. I quote those two pages below in the hope that it might help you understand how Muslim Arabs see the dispute and why, in fact, the dispute is so very difficult to resolve and, also, why your apartheid analogy is, frankly, stupid.

The Grand Sheikh's battle with his conservative critics boiled over in December 1997, when Tantawi hosted an unprecedented meeting at al-Azhar with chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, leader of Israel's Ashkenazi Jews. Held just before the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and amid growing outrage in the Arab world toward Israeli intransigence in the stalled Oslo peace process, Tantawi's meeting was nothing short of explosive. Ordinary Egyptians had never accepted the Camp David peace accords, or for that matter any attempt to normalize relations with Israel. Most Muslims saw the invitation of the chief rabbi into the very citadel of Sunni Islam as a complete betrayal of the fifty-year effort against the Jewish state.

Egypt's most respected Islamic thinker, Seleeem al-Awa, spoke for many when he bitterly denounced the visit on the front page of the Islamist daily al-Shaab and wrote a letter of protest to the Research Academy. "I did not believe my eyes when I read that the Grand Sheikh met the Zionist rabbi in Cairo.... It is as if the Zionists want to declare before the whole world that they have achieved normalization with the symbol of Sunni Islam and the entire Islamic world, and with the Sheikh of al-Azhar himself."

"Why did you headquarters become the site of normalization with the Zionists? How are we going to welcome Ramadan with the biggest spiritual defeat of the modern age?" al-Awa asked.

Tantawi was filled with consternation. He had never expected that such a meeting would outrage the Muslim world. Shaken and tense, he defended himself in a long interview with a Qatari satellite television channel that was broadcast in Egypt and across the Middle East. The interviewer asked Tantawi why he had decided to meet the rabbi, when his predecessor, Gad al-Haq, had refused.

"I followed in the footsteps of our Prophet, peace be upon him. He met Jews and had a dialogue with them.... Was I supposed to refuse to meet him, so he'll go to his country and say the Sheikh of al-Azhar was unable to meet me?"

"What is you answer to Dr. Seleem al-Awa who said this meeting is more dangerous than any form of normalization?" the interviewer asked.

"This is the logic of cowards and pacifists," Tantawi replied. "Can Dr. al-Awa deny that the Prophet and his companion Abu Bakr met with the Jews? And after that, they say 'normalization.' What normalization?"

Tantawi's response did little to pacify his critics with al-Azhar. In fact, the controversy handed the traditionalists the evidence they needed to challenge his suitability to hold Sunni Islam's highest position. "What we read about the meeting between the Sheikh of al-Azhar and the Israeli rabbi shocked us all," commented Yahya Ismail, the general-secretary of the Azhar's Scholars' Front. "We must abide by fatwas issued by senior scholars since 1936, which are official fatwas that forbid dealing with the occupying Jews with any weapon other than jihad (holy struggle) until they evacuate from our lands."



Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/11/2004

I really am nog a big fan of Wikipedia, since I think it is written by individuals who just decide to contribute without any real credentials ensuring accuracy, but since I have cited it before and it is a useful summary, here are some actial definitions of Apartheid, and Auschwitz:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apartheid

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auschwitz_concentration_camp


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/11/2004

1) “The Sharon regime … has been wiping out Palestinian infrastructure, property, natural environment, and innocent lives while taking little effective action against the Palestinian extremism it pretends to be targeting.”

Peter, since every Israeli offensive is targeted towards extremists, and Israel has managed to wipe out almost the entire Hamas leadership, while destroying tons of weapons munitions and making it impossible for extremists to transport heavy artillery long distances without facing an Israeli checkpoint, I really do not see how you can come to the conclusion that it is taking little effective action.

If anything, it is taking TOO MUCH effective action, overdoing it to the point of harming too many innocent Palestinians. From a Palestinian perspective, this is indeed a major human rights problem. However, from an Israeli perspective, it is indeed quite effective.

2) “Of course, the apartheid analogy is not perfect… but that does not render the analogy invalid.”

At the risk of entering off in a tangent about why Israeli policies are absolutely nothing like Apartheid, I will instead pose the question to you as why you think the analogy is valid? It is my opinion that the term is used against Israel simply because it is a “bad term,” and like all other politically “bad terms” (take your pick from the following: Racism, genocide, ethnic cleansing, Apartheid, Nazism, Hitler, extermination, I have even heard slavery) it is thrown at Israel more for effect than out of genuine intelligent comparison. So rather than explaining why I think the analogy is invalid, I will simply pose the question to you.

3) “… ghastly Auschwitz-resembling "settlements"

See above for another group of terms popular with critics of Israel. Again, since the differences are so glaring as to waste too much time typing, I will pose it to you: In what ways does anything Israel is doing, or has every done, resemble the death camp of Auschwitz?

4) “Fortunately, whether or not Israel now manages to find its way slowly back to the common sense and basic civilized behavior that mostly prevailed there before 2001 does not depend on ignorant American bigots brainwashed by AIPAC and its ilk.”

As someone who has followed the conflict for some time, I can assure you, anti-Israel diatribes went on well before 2001. Barak was a Nazi, a baby-killer, Israel was an Apartheid racist, genocidal, Stalinist, and so on and so on and so on long before Sharon came into the picture.

It is my humble opinion that Israel-bashing is more or less instinctive for many people, and it has nothing to do with who is in charge. Thus when the term ethnic cleansing came into popularity after Yugoslavia, it too was added the to the extensive list of obscenities that people liked to level without evidence against Israel. Indeed, there is no regime in the history of mankind, no empire, no government, no totalitarian despot, no massacre worse than Israel in the mind of too many people. The idea that Israel is literally Hell incarnate, created by the devil himself for the purpose of committing crimes to heinous to even say, would be almost an understatement to many liberals in this country and elsewhere, whose hatred for Israel is totally internalized.

I am not suggesting that you, Peter, or anyone else here belongs to that list of extremists. However, when I hear Nazi references, Apartheid, Auschwitz, and the insinuation of an all powerful Jewish conspiracy brainwashing the public, I really am forced to wonder what possible evidence exists for these outrageous comparisons, in light of the evidence?

There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of Israel that many scholars have made, including condemnations of checkpoints that routinely humiliate Palestinians, overly aggressive military policies that do not take into account the civilian population enough, and so on. However, these are intelligent criticisms based on fact, not wild polemics aimed at expressing raw emotion.


N. Friedman - 12/11/2004

Peter,

What the Israelis are doing has nothing in common with apartheid. It is, I might add, a step less than what China is doing to Tibet. China, you will note, is wiping out Tibetan culture. The Israelis, by contrast, are doing nothing of the sort. Instead, Israelis have been settling on land over which there is a dispute. Whether or not right, it is nothing akin to apartheid - a philosophy based on dividing groups do to hate and race. Israel's division is strictly one of two groups which are fighting with each other, not an inherently racist ideology.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/10/2004

The following comes from the Armenian Assembly of America, who composed a "factsheet" which supports my claim. It says the following:

"Professor Raphael Lemkin, a lawyer who escaped Poland during the Nazi invasion of 1939, is the key figure in the history of establishing genocide as a crime under international law. Having lost 49 members of his own family in the World War II Holocaust, he coined the word “genocide” in 1944. He worked tirelessly until his death in 1959 toward the adoption of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was ratified by the U.S. in 1988.

Professor Lemkin was the first to characterize the atrocities of 1915-1923 as the “Armenian Genocide.” During his effort to obtain ratification of the Genocide Convention, Lemkin repeatedly cited the Armenian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust as prototypes for the crimes of genocide."

Please note the last 3 lines above.

http://www.aaainc.org/info/Genocide.pdf


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/10/2004

1) “You said that anti-Semitism was "listed as central by Wikepedia". It was not. Wikipedia listed it as one of twelve elements.”

Actually, according to your quote, anti-Semitism was listed as one of 12 “Key elements of the Nazi ideology.” Since this debate has essentially devolved into a semantic argument, technically, both claims are correct. Anti-Semitism was listed as central in the article, as was 11 other items.

2) “I'll repeat one last time the historically mainstream view: if anti-Semitism were the principal determining force behind Nazism, then Nazism would have developed in one of the many other countries that was more anti-Semitic than early 20th century Germany.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but I never suggested that anti-Semitism “created” Nazism of Hitler, or anything else. I so suggest, as does the “mainstream view” from what I have read that, as Rita Steinhardt Botwinick says in her classic book, A History of the Holocaust, “in the center of Nazi Policy stood hatred of the Jews” (25).

Nazi ideology was shaped and articulated by Hitler. The man cannot be removed from the party. The so-called “mainstream view,” based on all that I have read confirms that the idea that above all else, it was his visceral hatred of Jews that drove his actions.

This view may be wrong and obviously been challenged by people such yourself and some others on this post. However, it is your view, that anti-Semitism had only limited significance and that much of what we “know” about the Holocaust is mere propaganda (if I read your posts correctly) that is quite out of the mainstream.

3) “Anti-Semitism was, of course, central to the Holocaust, but the Holocaust was not central either to the rise of fascism or the origins of World War II.”

Since the start of WWII and the rise of Hitler preceded the Holocaust, of course the Holocaust could not be central to their rise. However, it should be noted that the Holocaust had no military values and in fact became quite detrimental to the Nazi war machine towards the end. Even in the final days of the Third Reich, trains, soldiers, and munitions desperately needed at the front were diverted to continue the killing of Jews, up until the bitter end. The significance of this reality has been lost on few historians who I have read.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/10/2004

I was the one who brought up Lemkin in response to claim that was happened to the Jews was not genocide (by the definition of the term). I brought up the terms originator to indicate that what happened to the Jews must be genocide since that was the context under which it was coined.

I respect your opinions, although I am disappointed that you do not seem to respect anyone else’s.

Allow me the opportunity to defend by positions, using direct quotes from Lemkin to hopefully settle this matter.

1) “Lemkin did not come up with the term genocide to discuss the Nazi pogrom against the Jews, communists, mentally impaired, etc. he actually dealt with it in the context of the Turkey/Armenian genocide...and then used it to adress many situations in Africa as well as on the European continent.”

I disagree. In almost everything that I have read of Lemmin’s, he discusses genocide in the context of Nazi Germany. Although he does say that genocide “is not utterly new in the world. It is only new in the civilized world as we have come to think of it. It is so new in the traditions of civilized man that he has no name for it.”

You may be right, that he coined the term to refer to the Armenians, although I find that difficult to believe. However, those articles and books that I have read by him have all used Germany as its starting point. Indeed, in his 1946 article, Genocide, his first sentence if the following, “The last war [WWII] has focused our attention on the phenomenon of the destruction of whole populations -of national, racial and religious groups - both biologically and culturally.”

http://www.preventgenocide.org/lemkin/americanscholar1946.htm

2) “It does not apply to Jews...or the Jewish situation in the way that you claimed.”

Again, I disagree, and am unsure how you come to that conclusion. Lemkin wrote in his article, Genocide - A Modern Crime, the following:

“Germany has transformed an ancient barbarity into a principle of government by dignifying genocide as a sacred purpose of the German people…. A hierarchy of racial values determined the ultimate fate of the many peoples that fell under German domination. Jews were to be completely annihilated. The Poles, the Slovenes, the Czechs, the Russians, and all other inferior Slav peoples were to be kept on the lowest social levels. Those felt to be related by blood, the Dutch, the Norwegian, the Alsatians, etc., were to have the alternatives of entering the German community by espousing "Germanism" or of sharing the fate of the inferior peoples.”


3) “Coincidentally...I am writing a chapter for a book on the existence of the crime of genocide in customary law prior to the genocide convention...might work out an article for HNN about it.”

I would be interested in reading it.

4) “When I state that the idea of "genocide" did not apply to Jews, what I meant was that it was not coined to deal with crimes by Germany against Jews or anyone else against Jews. It was coined due to outrage against the Americans and Allies doing nothing to stop the "race murders" prepetrated against the Amernian Christians. It was then applied to Nazi crimes against ALL victims...not just the Jews. So it definitely applied to crimes against Jews...it just was not coined exclusively for them.”

I agree only in part. As I say above, I have seen no indication that its author did not have as his principle interest the Nazis. As for the rest of the post, Lemkin does indeed refer to the genocide of all groups, but he distinguished between the TYPE of genocide. Thus, “Lemkin uses the word genocide broadly, not only to describe policies of outright extermination against Jews and Gypsies, but for less immediate Nazi goals as well.”

There was political, social, cultural, religious, moral, economic, biological, and physical genocide, each meaning something slightly different.

Under the section of physical genocide (which is the type that is most often referred to today), Lemkin does bring up the Poles, but he undoubtedly highlights the Jews.

Taken on its face, your first sentence here is correct, Lemkin did not intend for genocide to apply only to Jews, but this has to do with Lemkin’s typology. His moral genocide, for example, meant the following: “Pornographic publications and movies were foisted upon the Poles. Alcohol was kept cheap although food became increasingly dear, and peasants were legally bound to accept spirits for agricultural produce. Although under Polish law gambling houses had been prohibited, German authorities not only permitted them to come into existence, but relaxed the otherwise severe curfew law.”

http://www.preventgenocide.org/lemkin/freeworld1945.htm

5) “In addition...it further strengthens my point about cultural genocide being part of genocide, which is why what the Chinese did to Tibet, Israel is doing to Palestine, the US did in Vietnam, etc...all qualify as genocide (cultural) if one wants to use Lemkin’s definition.”

Based on Lemkin’s description of cultural genocide, I still do not see how the term applies to Israel. Is there any evidence that Israel is attempting to “obliterate every reminder of former cultural patterns” of the Palestinians, as Lemkin says? Ditto in Vietnam.

6) “As we discussed before...if one wants to use the Convention definition...not even Nazi crimes count as genocide...Rwanda would be maybe the only example of genocide we have.”

The convention definition is not radically different from Lemkin’s definition, so it would fair to say that both I and Lemkin disagree. Here is how Lemkin defined it:
“The crime of genocide includes the following elements” he goes on to list many, but his very first one settles this: “The intent of the offenders is to destroy or degrade an entire national, religious or racial group by attacking the individual members of that group.”
http://www.preventgenocide.org/lemkin/freeworld1945.htm

He went on to elaborate, “Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.”

Elsewhere, he says, “More often it refers to a coordinated plan aimed at destruction of the essential foundations of the life of national groups so that these groups wither and die like plants that have suffered a blight.”

Now that I have established what Lemkin meant, you argue that the Nazi genocide cannot be included. The following sentence by Lemkin indicates his disagreement with you:

“In the present war, however, genocide is widely practiced by the German occupant.”


N. Friedman - 12/10/2004

Chris,

There is no such thing, according to the dictionary, as cultural genocide. Such is an abuse of the language. You should think long and hard before you compare, using the same term, what occured to the Armenians, the Jews and the Roma to the little dispute between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. One group of disputes had millions of people dying. The Arab Israeli dispute does not place the Palestinian Arabs at risk of extinction or their culture at risk of extinction. Such is not a form of genocide by any meaning of the word. That is in your head.


N. Friedman - 12/10/2004

Chris,

I never suggested the origin of the word "genocide." You have someone else's post in mind.

Regarding law, I submit to you that Israel is, historically speaking, among the world's most law abiding countries. I hold it up to any other country. Can you seriously claim that Israel is worse than Germany, France, Britain, Spain, etc.?

The reality, Chris, is that Israel is involved in a little dispute in which a few thousands people have died (on both sides). While we speak, that many have been killed in Sudan in the average day. China has done worse to Tibet than what Israel is accused of doing. France has done in Ivory Coast what Israel has been accused of doing. In Algeria, 100,000 people died in France's little dispute there. Need I remind you of those killed by Germany. Actually, I forgot, you have doubts of Germany's past doings. To remind you: 2 world wars.

Your problem, Chris, is that you only read the UN ledger, not what actually occurs in the world.


chris l pettit - 12/10/2004

Since I am well aware of the inability to read context of many of you...

When I state that the idea of "genocide" did not apply to Jews, what I meant was that it was not coined to deal with crimes by Germany against Jews or anyone else against Jews. It was coined due to outrage against the Americans and Allies doing nothing to stop the "race murders" prepetrated against the Amernian Christians. It was then applied to Nazi crimes against ALL victims...not just the Jews. So it definitely applied to crimes against Jews...it just was not coined exclusively for them. In addition...it further strengthens my point about cultural genocide being part of genocide, which is why what the Chinese did to Tibet, Israel is doing to Palestine, the US did in Vietnam, etc...all qualify as genocide (cultural) if one wants to use Lemkins definition. As we discussed before...if one wants to use the Convention definition...not even Nazi crimes count as genocide...Rwanda would be maybe the only example of genocide we have.

CP
www.wicper.org


chris l pettit - 12/10/2004

Once again Mr. Friedman does not know his ass from a hole in the ground..."rule of law" when it comes to Israel...what a joke....

By the way...with all this silliness about the Geneva Accords...need I remind you that they are merely foreign policy statements?

The real reason for the post though, since I know ideologues can't be swayed by the real rule of law, rationality, or logic, is to address something that came up a while back about genocide. Lemkin did not come up with the term genocide to discuss the Nazi pogrom against the Jews, communists, mentally impaired, etc. he actually dealt with it in the context of the Turkey/Armenian genocide...and then used it to adress many situations in Africa as well as on the European continent. It does not apply to Jews...or the Jewish situation in the way that you claimed. Coincidentally...I am writing a chapter for a book on the existence of the crime of genocide in customary law prior to the genocide convention...might work out an article for HNN about it.

CP
www.wicper.org


N. Friedman - 12/10/2004

Peter,

Read the context of my comment. It was not made in a vacuum but in reply to a question asked of me.


N. Friedman - 12/10/2004

Peter,

Why do you not admit you are wrong? This is a black and white matter. Nazi ideology has racism and Antisemitism at its core. That does not mean there are not other factors, some just as important. It does mean, however, that Antisemitism is one such factor and a particularly important one.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/10/2004

1) “it is high time to stop dredging around for excuses, now that the legitimate complaints about Arafat no longer apply, and work towards giving the Palestinians their state under an arrangment of mutual peace and security with Israel”

On this, Peter, we are in total agreement.

2) “it is nonetheless hypocritical of the current Israeli establishment to deny the suffering of innocent Palestinians at its hands while continuing to make a sacred cause out of the (of course, historically different) suffering of Jews in the Holocaust.”

I am aware of some fanatics who do deny this, but frankly, I would not call them “the establishment.” Even the most avid Israeli proponent that I have ever read has acknowledged the instances of atrocities and forced expulsions of Palestinians during the 1948 war. Indeed, Ben Gurion even wrote a letter of apology to Arab leaders following to Dar Yassin massacre expressing his outrage at the incident.

As for the Holocaust, of course this is a vital part of Israeli and Jewish history, no less than slavery is to American blacks. However, just because blacks invoke the memory of slavery and Jim Crow, opening up museums, protesting unfair representation, using their various interest groups to educate about the sufferings of blacks in America, etc., this does not mean that they make slavery or Jim Crow their “sacred cause,” as you say.

I don’t see why Jews should be held to a higher standard on refusing to forget the near eradication of their people a 2 generations ago.

3) “It is tiresome and silly to imply that wrongs inflicted in Kielce, for example, somehow justify the forced explusions of a completely different group of people from Tel Aviv.”

Certainly! However, I don’t recall anyone making that claim. Neither the Holocaust, nor Jewish persecution throughout the world, nor the treatment of Jews in Arab countries “justifies” forced expulsions of Palestinians. That being said, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to understand the Israeli perspective of history without understanding where they were coming from a mere 2 to 3 years before the war.

Just as understanding Arab nationalism requires an understanding of their experiences under the Turks and the British, so do does understanding Jewish nationalism requires an understanding of the Jewish experience in Europe. Neither narrative “justifies” anything, it merely puts it into perspective.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/10/2004

“Adam, You could argue that anti-Semitism was at the core of Hitler's world view… but the rise of the Nazis to power in the Weimar regime had other factors much more important than anti-Semitism behind it.”

I do not disagree with this. Certainly, if we are considering their actual rise to power rather than fundamental ideology, then I would probably say physical violence was the number one factor that led to their rise.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

I did not say that anything in Poland justified anything in Israel. That is in your head.

I have said, however, that the Palestinians fought to make the Jews of historic Palestine into dead people or, if they survived, refugees. That is a fact.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

Ideology is different from listing the turn of events. And, in fact, to speak of Nazi ideology without, in the same breadth, speaking about racism and Antisemitism is to spout nonsense. I might add, I am not aware of any serious disagreement on this point - except from you and Holocaust deniers.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/9/2004

Actually, I would go farther than Mr. Friedman and argue that anti-Semitism was indeed the most central to the ideology. This is not to exclude numerous other elements, including the desire for “living space” and the hatred for Communism. However, I believe Nazism would have existed and thrived as it had even without any policy of Euthanasia. It would have spread and continued even without the desire for conquest. I do not see, however, how it could have ever developed without the Anti-Semitism. Certainly, Hitler thought that it was central, and said so many times in his autobiography. From his first recorded speech, to his final suicide note, everything he believed, everything Nazism stood for, was seconded to hatred for the Jews.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/9/2004

“Friedman is illogically trying to claim that because Germany has an internationally extreme "return" policy therefore it is okay for Israel to have one too, but not okay for the Palestinians to claim anything comparable.”

Peter, if you are against both Germany’s policy as well as Israel’s, I respect that. I believe, and I may be mistaken, that the issue was brought up simply to demonstrate how Israel’s policy, while the subject of a great deal of criticism, is neither new or unique among the family of nations, but that it exists elsewhere.

As for myself, I have no problem with a Palestinian law of return, if in the future Palestinian state wished to pass one. If the PA were to come out tomorrow with an equivalent law that applies only to Muslims refugees (like Iraq), I would have no problem with it. Every nation, be it Egypt, France, or the United States, has a legitimate interest to see its own unique culture and identity preserved.

However, a Palestinian “right” of return to Israel is not right for the following reasons:
- I believe that great numbers of these refugees have absolutely no connection to Israel, but merely added their names to the list in order to receive UN aid (I have empirical support for this charge, if you would like).

- I believe that descendents of refugees anywhere in the world are not entitled to the legal status of refugee.

- Many of the original refugees, although there is no way to get precise figures, left of their own accord, either because of fear, hate, propaganda, etc. and thus are not entitled to return.

- Evidence seems to give every indication that the new arrivals would be hostile to both the Israeli government and Israeli civilians and thus there is a national security risk.

- Finally, the traditional argument which I find just as valid: Demographics. Israel is simply not big enough to easily absorb that many people, nor do they have any cultural, linguistic, or religious ties to them.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

There is not a country on Earth with a immigration policy which does not include preferences. Such is a prerogative of sovereignty. I note that France, not just Germany, has a law of return. Anyone with French blood - whatever that is - may return to France no matter how many generations their family has been outside of France.

Again. You do not know your facts.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

In fact, some of the principals did argue that it included a right of return. Palestinians objected that it did not against the assistance of the Accord's advocates.

Again. You have not done your homework.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

I did not say which is "most" central. I said that it was at the core and was central. Check what I said.

I think you owe me an apology.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/9/2004

D'OH! I wish I read your apology before just posting my response.

Please accept my own apologies if I responded to something not addressed to me.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/9/2004

1) “Sounds like a fair description of Eastern European Jews after 1945, or of Palestinians after 1948, but I won't ask that you "walk in the other man's moccasins" by finding the appropriate counterpart to the documentary you cited”

Are you suggesting that the documentary is a lie, some wild Jewish conspiracy? If you would like me to recommend a documentary that denies the existence of either the Holocaust, or Jewish refugees, then I have none to offer.

If, on the other hand, you are insinuating that I am denying Palestinian refugees their due sympathy, I can inform you that your assumption is incorrect.

2) “… or even that you bother to use a spell checker, which I have done for you on your quote above.”

What a petty thing to comment on. I can say with pride that I have never once since submitting my opinions on the HNN, been forced to resort to criticizing someone’s spelling or grammar on this board.

3) “Just set aside your ingrained hypocrisy long enough to read and ponder the following statement.”

I am not sure what “integrated hypocrisy” you mean, other than the fact you seem to believe that there were no Jewish refugees after WWII.

I also notice how your posts have become increasingly frustrated with an inability to respond to my point. If you have some argument to make, make it. If you believe that Palestinian refugees have the right to return to Israel, make the case, and address my concerns. Instead, you merely accuse everyone of bias and hypocrisy without offering much of an argument in return, other than dwelling on insignificant minute, such as the semantic differences between Germany’s law and Israel’s, or denying the existence (if that is what you were doing above, which I assume to be the case) of any Jewish refugees after WWII, a claim as preposterous as it is revealing about your own perception of the conflict.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

Indulge me. Answer my question which, in fact, was on point and responded to what you wrote. Again, given that many, many Palestinians - in fact, all that I know of - hold that the right of return is central, in fact the central issue, how can that issue be resolved?


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/9/2004

Peter,
There an excellent documentary that I would recommend to anyone interested in the subject of Jews in post WWII Europe. It is called the Long Way Home and it documents why Jews were not able to return to their homes. Simply put, they had no homes: Their familes were all dead, their villiages repopulated by non-Jews, and all trace of their existance virtually gone.

http://history1900s.about.com/library/holocaust/aa032298.htm


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

You quote out of context. The entire section you quote reads:

"clause (c): Option iv shall be at the sovereign discretion of Israel and will be in accordance with a number that Israel will submit to the International Commission. This number shall represent the total number of Palestinian refugees that Israel shall accept. As a basis, Israel will consider the average of the total numbers submitted by the different third countries to the International Commission."

The magic words from above being:

"and ***will be in accordance*** with a number that Israel will submit to the International Commission." And further, "This number ***shall represent*** the total number of Palestinian refugees that Israel shall accept." And "As a basis, Israel ***will*** consider the average of the total numbers submitted by the different third countries to the International Commission." (Emphasis added).

In other words, Israel has an obligation, not merely discretion. And, to note, such was intentional. Which is to say, Israel has an obligation, under the agreement, to accept refugees in accordance with certain third party norms, not merely its own discretion.


Moreover, Article 7 also recognizes UN 194 which, you will note, is the alleged basis for a right of return.

In short, you are, as usual, mistaken.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/9/2004

Peter,
You seem to be arguing over semantics. You are correct, Israel’s law of return is different in scope and in type from the Germany law of return, but it is not a fundamental difference in principle. Does it matter whether it is religion based or ethnic based? Foes it matter whether it applies to people whose family never stepped foot in Germany for 100 years rather than 2000? I mean, ultimately, what is the fundamental difference between the two in terms of fairness. In both cases, people who where not born and never lived in an area get to return for no other reason than ancestral bonds.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

Occasionally you reveal just how little history you know.

In fact, Jews tried to return to their homes in Europe including in Poland. They were met with very hostile reactions. In Poland, in particular, a pogrom occurred. According to The Kielce Pogrom, by Bozena Szaynok:

"The pogrom in Kielce was a turning point in the post-war history of Jews in Poland. After the pogrom, the majority of the Jews remaining in Poland decided to leave."

I do not surf the Internet for conspiracy stuff. However, I do read carefully and quite a bit. Unlike you, I actually read books. You, on the other hand, have posted previously that racism/antisemitism are not central to Nazi ideology when pretty much all respected sources on the Nazis say it is. Such, you will note, is why it is listed as central by Wikepedia, not to mention encyclopedias.

So, I restate my question to you: how do you explain the persistence of refugee camps for Palestinian Arabs? How do you explain the hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinian articles saying that the so-called "right of return" is central if such is not central to them? How do you explain Hamas' insistence on such a right as being central? Frankly, Peter, I think you really do not know enough about this topic to be posting here. But, of course, that does not stop anyone else among us.

I might also note: The Guardian is one of the main newspapers in the United Kingdom. It carries articles by, among other, President Clinton, Alan Dershowitz, Benny Morris, etc., etc.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

In fact, Germany has a law of return in which anyone - I repeat anyone - of German heritage can move back to Germany and become a citizen.

I am not distorting. You, on the other hand, are rather ignorant.

Peter, nust I post the text of the German law that permits any person of German heritage to return to Germany, or is my word that such a law exists sufficient for you?


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

This particular post was not directed to no Palestinians. It was intended to stand on its own.

I shall ask that you answer the questions I asked.

To repeat:

I await a serious argument from you. And that argument must - if you are to make a serious argument - account somehow for people ***intentionally*** choosing to live in refugee camps and the policy which surrounds such people remaining in refugee camps.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Article 7 - Refugees

1. Significance of the Refugee Problem
(a) The Parties recognize that, in the context of two independent states, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace, an agreed resolution of the refugee problem is necessary for achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace between them.

(b) Such a resolution will also be central to stability building and development in the region.

2. UNGAR 194, UNSC Resolution 242, and the Arab Peace Initiative
(a) The Parties recognize that UNGAR 194, UNSC Resolution 242, and the Arab Peace Initiative (Article 2.ii.) concerning the rights of the Palestinian refugees represent the basis for resolving the refugee issue, and agree that these rights are fulfilled according to Article 7 of this Agreement.

3. Compensation
(a) Refugees shall be entitled to compensation for their refugeehood and for loss of property. This shall not prejudice or be prejudiced by the refugee's permanent place of residence.

(b) The Parties recognize the right of states that have hosted Palestinian refugees to remuneration.

4. Choice of Permanent Place of Residence (PPR)
The solution to the PPR aspect of the refugee problem shall entail an act of informed choice on the part of the refugee to be exercised in accordance with the options and modalities set forth in this agreement. PPR options from which the refugees may choose shall be as follows;
(a) The state of Palestine, in accordance with clause a below.
(b) Areas in Israel being transferred to Palestine in the land swap, following assumption of Palestinian sovereignty, in accordance with clause a below.
(c) Third Countries, in accordance with clause b below.
(d) The state of Israel, in accordance with clause c below.
(e) Present Host countries, in accordance with clause d below.
i. PPR options i and ii shall be the right of all Palestinian refugees and shall be in accordance with the laws of the State of Palestine.
ii. Option iii shall be at the sovereign discretion of third countries and shall be in accordance with numbers that each third country will submit to the International Commission. These numbers shall represent the total number of Palestinian refugees that each third country shall accept.
iii. Option iv shall be at the sovereign discretion of Israel and will be in accordance with a number that Israel will submit to the International Commission. This number shall represent the total number of Palestinian refugees that Israel shall accept. As a basis, Israel will consider the average of the total numbers submitted by the different third countries to the International Commission.
iv. Option v shall be in accordance with the sovereign discretion of present host countries. Where exercised this shall be in the context of prompt and extensive development and rehabilitation programs for the refugee communities.

Priority in all the above shall be accorded to the Palestinian refugee population in Lebanon.

5. Free and Informed Choice
The process by which Palestinian refugees shall express their PPR choice shall be on the basis of a free and informed decision. The Parties themselves are committed and will encourage third parties to facilitate the refugees' free choice in expressing their preferences, and to countering any attempts at interference or organized pressure on the process of choice. This will not prejudice the recognition of Palestine as the realization of Palestinian self-determination and statehood.

6. End of Refugee Status
Palestinian refugee status shall be terminated upon the realization of an individual refugee’s permanent place of residence (PPR) as determined by the International Commission.

7. End of Claims
This agreement provides for the permanent and complete resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem. No claims may be raised except for those related to the implementation of this agreement.

8. International Role
The Parties call upon the international community to participate fully in the comprehensive resolution of the refugee problem in accordance with this Agreement, including, inter alia, the establishment of an International Commission and an International Fund.

9. Property Compensation
(a) Refugees shall be compensated for the loss of property resulting from their displacement.

(b) The aggregate sum of property compensation shall be calculated as follows:
i. The Parties shall request the International Commission to appoint a Panel of Experts to estimate the value of Palestinians' property at the time of displacement.

ii. The Panel of Experts shall base its assessment on the UNCCP records, the records of the Custodian for Absentee Property, and any other records it deems relevant. The Parties shall make these records available to the Panel.

iii. The Parties shall appoint experts to advise and assist the Panel in its work.

iv. Within 6 months, the Panel shall submit its estimates to the Parties.

v. The Parties shall agree on an economic multiplier, to be applied to the estimates, to reach a fair aggregate value of the property.

(c) The aggregate value agreed to by the Parties shall constitute the Israeli “lump sum” contribution to the International Fund. No other financial claims arising from the Palestinian refugee problem may be raised against Israel.

(d) Israel's contribution shall be made in installments in accordance with Schedule X.

(e) The value of the Israeli fixed assets that shall remain intact in former settlements and transferred to the state of Palestine will be deducted from Israel's contribution to the International Fund. An estimation of this value shall be made by the International Fund, taking into account assessment of damage caused by the settlements.

10. Compensation for Refugeehood
(a) A "Refugeehood Fund" shall be established in recognition of each individual's refugeehood. The Fund, to which Israel shall be a contributing party, shall be overseen by the International Commission. The structure and financing of the Fund is set forth in Annex X.

(b) Funds will be disbursed to refugee communities in the former areas of UNRWA operation, and will be at their disposal for communal development and commemoration of the refugee experience. Appropriate mechanisms will be devised by the International Commission whereby the beneficiary refugee communities are empowered to determine and administer the use of this Fund.

11. The International Commission (Commission)
(a) Mandate and Composition
i. An International Commission shall be established and shall have full and exclusive responsibility for implementing all aspects of this Agreement pertaining to refugees.

ii. In addition to themselves, the Parties call upon the United Nations, the United States, UNRWA, the Arab host countries, the EU, Switzerland, Canada, Norway, Japan, the World Bank, the Russian Federation, and others to be the members of the Commission.

iii. The Commission shall:
1. Oversee and manage the process whereby the status and PPR of Palestinian refugees is determined and realized.
2. Oversee and manage, in close cooperation with the host states, the rehabilitation and development programs.
3. Raise and disburse funds as appropriate.

iv. The Parties shall make available to the Commission all relevant documentary records and archival materials in their possession that it deems necessary for the functioning of the Commission and its organs. The Commission may request such materials from all other relevant parties and bodies, including, inter alia, UNCCP and UNRWA.

(b) Structure
i. The Commission shall be governed by an Executive Board (Board) composed of representatives of its members.

ii. The Board shall be the highest authority in the Commission and shall make the relevant policy decisions in accordance with this Agreement.

iii. The Board shall draw up the procedures governing the work of the Commission in accordance with this Agreement.

iv. The Board shall oversee the conduct of the various Committees of the Commission. The said Committees shall periodically report to the Board in accordance with procedures set forth thereby.

v. The Board shall create a Secretariat and appoint a Chair thereof. The Chair and the Secretariat shall conduct the day-to-day operation of the Commission.

(c) Specific Committees
i. The Commission shall establish the Technical Committees specified below.

ii. Unless otherwise specified in this Agreement, the Board shall determine the structure and procedures of the Committees.

iii. The Parties may make submissions to the Committees as deemed necessary.

iv. The Committees shall establish mechanisms for resolution of disputes arising from the interpretation or implementation of the provisions of this Agreement relating to refugees.

v. The Committees shall function in accordance with this Agreement, and shall render binding decisions accordingly.

vi. Refugees shall have the right to appeal decisions affecting them according to mechanisms established by this Agreement and detailed in Annex X.

(d) Status-determination Committee:
i. The Status-determination Committee shall be responsible for verifying refugee status.

ii. UNRWA registration shall be considered as rebuttable presumption (prima facie proof) of refugee status.

(e) Compensation Committee:
i. The Compensation Committee shall be responsible for administering the implementation of the compensation provisions.

ii. The Committee shall disburse compensation for individual property pursuant to the following modalities:
1. Either a fixed per capita award for property claims below a specified value. This will require the claimant to only prove title, and shall be processed according to a fast-track procedure, or
2. A claims-based award for property claims exceeding a specified value for immovables and other assets. This will require the claimant to prove both title and the value of the losses.

iii. Annex X shall elaborate the details of the above including, but not limited to, evidentiary issues and the use of UNCCP, “Custodian for Absentees' Property”, and UNRWA records, along with any other relevant records.

(f) Host State Remuneration Committee:
There shall be remuneration for host states.

(g) Permanent Place of Residence Committee (PPR Committee):
The PPR Committee shall,
i. Develop with all the relevant parties detailed programs regarding the implementation of the PPR options pursuant to Article 7/4 above.

ii. Assist the applicants in making an informed choice regarding PPR options.

iii. Receive applications from refugees regarding PPR. The applicants must indicate a number of preferences in accordance with article 7/4 above. The applications shall be received no later than two years after the start of the International Commission's operations. Refugees who do not submit such applications within the two-year period shall lose their refugee status.

iv. Determine, in accordance with sub-Article (a) above, the PPR of the applicants, taking into account individual preferences and maintenance of family unity. Applicants who do not avail themselves of the Committee's PPR determination shall lose their refugee status.

v. Provide the applicants with the appropriate technical and legal assistance.

vi. The PPR of Palestinian refugees shall be realized within 5 years of the start of the International Commission's operations.

(h) Refugeehood Fund Committee
The Refugeehood Fund Committee shall implement Article 7/10 as detailed in Annex X.

(i) Rehabilitation and Development Committee
In accordance with the aims of this Agreement and noting the above PPR programs, the Rehabilitation and Development Committee shall work closely with Palestine, Host Countries and other relevant third countries and parties in pursuing the goal of refugee rehabilitation and community development. This shall include devising programs and plans to provide the former refugees with opportunities for personal and communal development, housing, education, healthcare, re-training and other needs. This shall be integrated in the general development plans for the region.

12. The International Fund
(a) An International Fund (the Fund) shall be established to receive contributions outlined in this Article and additional contributions from the international community. The Fund shall disburse monies to the Commission to enable it to carry out its functions. The Fund shall audit the Commission’s work.

(b) The structure, composition and operation of the Fund are set forth in Annex X.

13. UNRWA
(a) UNRWA should be phased out in each country in which it operates, based on the end of refugee status in that country.

(b) UNRWA should cease to exist five years after the start of the Commission's operations. The Commission shall draw up a plan for the phasing out of UNRWA and shall facilitate the transfer of UNRWA functions to host states.

14. Reconciliation Programs
(a) The Parties will encourage and promote the development of cooperation between their relevant institutions and civil societies in creating forums for exchanging historical narratives and enhancing mutual understanding regarding the past.

(b) The Parties shall encourage and facilitate exchanges in order to disseminate a richer appreciation of these respective narratives, in the fields of formal and informal education, by providing conditions for direct contacts between schools, educational institutions and civil society.

(c) The Parties may consider cross-community cultural programs in order to promote the goals of conciliation in relation to their respective histories.

(d) These programs may include developing appropriate ways of commemorating those villages and communities that existed prior to 1949.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/9/2004

Adam, You have lapsed again from reasonableness.

Hamas is not an architect nor a supporter of the Geneva plan, nor is it the elected spokesman for the majority of Palestinians. My point was that Hamas et. al. and the Jewish settler movement et. al. are TOGETHER the problem. Your simply reinforce that point, but in a biased way (by ignoring one of the two sets of murderous fanatics).


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Cary,

With due respect, Israel employs the same right that Germany and France employ for the very same sort of rule of law. Which is to say, all of these countries give preference to their own group. Is it ok for France and Germany, but not for Israel?

More directly answering your question, people were displaced on both sides, from Arab and Jewish areas, in connection with Israel's independence. Jews from what is now the West Bank were displaced by Jordan which prevented their return and, by law, no Jew may become a citizen of Jordan (by actual statute). Jews were displaced by Syria which prevents their return. Jews were displaced from Egypt which prevents their return. Jews were displaced from Iraq which (I cannot speak for the current non-government but up until its demise) prevented their return. Jews were displaced from Algeria which prevents their return. Jews were displaced from Libya which prevents their return. Jews were displaced from Yemen which prevents their return. Etc., etc. All told, 856,000 Jews were made refugees without a right of return and, in many instances, such was at the direct instigation of Palestinian Arabs.

Sudeten Germans have been displaced from Poland which prevents their return. Sudeten Germans were displaced from Czechoslovakia which prevented (and now the Czech Republic prevents) their return. All told 2 million Sudeten Germans were displaced and cannot return to their homes. Muslim Indians were displaced by the many millions and cannot return to their homes. Hindu Indians were displaced from Pakistan by the millions and cannot return to their homes in India (and such is, in fact, written into the Indian constitution). In fact, the creation of India and Pakistan created 14 million refugees of which 1 million died.

My point here is that people are expelled all over the world without having any right to return to their former homes. What should Israel do what no one else does or is even willing to speak of doing?

Palestinian Arabs participated directly in pogroms against Jews including pogroms in Iraq which lead to 125,000 Jews being forced out of Iraq. The Palestinian Arabs participated directly in the displacement of over 100,000 Jews from the West Bank and from Jerusalem. Palestinian Arabs, moreover, played a direct hand in preventing Jews from escaping from the Nazis which caused the deaths of who knows how many people - hundreds of thousands of people -.

The Palestinian Arabs are not mere by-standers who were caught in the wake of Israel's creation. They were active opponents and participated in widespread massacres of Jews and displacement of Jews. So, frankly, why should Jews let these people in? What happened to the Palestinian Arabs, frankly, is what happens to people who lose wars they start, in this case and by their leaders' words, a war of annihilation against Jews.


The Palestinian negotiating position is that Jews should not be allowed live in the West Bank - as if they had not lived there in large numbers since before Roman times - but must live in Israel proper.

In addition, large numbers of Palestinian Arabs take the position that Jews have no right to live in Israel proper. If nothing else, why should Israel permit people in who, on principle, deny Israel any claim of legitimacy? That makes no sense. I am not aware of any country which permits immigration by hostile groups. Are you?

Further, please note that the Palestinian Arabs claim refugee status for non-refugees, namely, millions of the children and grand-children of refugees. There are, to my knowlege, no cases of the children and grand-children of refugees being considered refugees. Why should Israel be forced to take in people who are not even refugees?


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

What follows is the portion of the Geneva Accords which relates to "right of return."

Choice of Permanent Place of Residence (PPR)

The solution to the PPR aspect of the refugee problem shall entail an act of informed choice on the part of the refugee to be exercised in accordance with the options and modalities set forth in this agreement. PPR options from which the refugees may choose shall be as follows:

i. The state of Palestine, in accordance with clause (a) below.

ii. Areas in Israel being transferred to Palestine in the land swap, following assumption of Palestinian sovereignty, in accordance with clause (a) below.

iii. Third Countries, in accordance with clause (b) below.

iv. The state of Israel, in accordance with clause (c) below.

v. Present Host countries, in accordance with clause (d) below.

clause (a): PPR options i and ii shall be the right of all Palestinian refugees and shall be in accordance with the laws of the State of Palestine.

clause (b): Option iii shall be at the sovereign discretion of third countries and shall be in accordance with numbers that each third country will submit to the International Commission. These numbers shall represent the total number of Palestinian refugees that each third country shall accept.

clause (c): Option iv shall be at the sovereign discretion of Israel and will be in accordance with a number that Israel will submit to the International Commission. This number shall represent the total number of Palestinian refugees that Israel shall accept. As a basis, Israel will consider the average of the total numbers submitted by the different third countries to the International Commission.

clause (d): Option v shall be in accordance with the sovereign discretion of present host countries. Where exercised this shall be in the context of prompt and extensive development and rehabilitation programs for the refugee communities.


Cary Fraser - 12/9/2004

Why is it legitimate for Jews who were not born in Israel/Palestine to "return" to these lands when Palestinians who were born there have been deprived of that right?


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

Unlike those behind the Geneva Accord - which does include a right of return (despite what you think) -, those with actual power in the region (e.g. Hamas) seek to destroy Israel. Those who favor the Geneva Accord are mostly on the Israeli side and, frankly, they are fools.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

Skip point one. Instead, see my other post below where the noted comment was made.

Note, however, that the Reuters piece is evidence in my, not your, favor because the Geneva Accord does include a "right of return."


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

One, I was starting a slightly different topic directed to whether or not the alleged right of return of Palestinians is central to the dispute. You have now chosen to ignore that. Why?

Two. In response to your comment, why not read the Geneva Accords yourself. You will see that it actually does refer to a right of return, albeit in slightly obscure language. If you will bother to check, you will see that the Geneva Accords, moreover, were promoted to the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza as including a right of return. Frankly, Peter, this is not something about which there is actual room for disagreement. The Reuters report you sight is, in black and white, simply wrong on the point you cite it for.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

Read this article: "No peace without an end to exile,"Karma Nabulsi. The Guardian (UK), September 18, 2002 at http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/comment/0,10551,794122,00.html . According to the article: "Karma Nabulsi is a fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford, a former PLO representative and adviser at the peace talks 1991-93." I thus gather that she knows what she is saying.

From the article:

"However, after one grasps the collective sentiment of the Palestinian people on return, and their almost sacred relationship to these rights, it is obvious that any such deal will be rejected by the vast majority, no matter if a leader can be found (and none has yet) that will sign these rights away. An imposed settlement that did not deal with return would herald the beginning of a new war - not the end of the conflict, nor the durable peace we all seek."

Note the terminology "sacred relationship." She is, frankly, absolutely correct regarding how Palestinians view the matter. If you do not understand the above has to be the case - otherwise, the lives intentionally (because the refugees could have been resettled long alo) wasted in decripid refugee camps would be entirely meaningless -, you really and truly know nothing about the dispute.

And, frankly, on the other hand, the Israelis will never accept the return of the refugees and their offspring for perfectly good reasons, as I have previously explained.

I await a serious argument from you. And that argument must - if you are to make a serious argument - account somehow for people ***intentionally*** choosing to live in refugee camps and the policy which surrounds such people remaining in refugee camps.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Adam,

I think I agree with you entirely. Great post.


N. Friedman - 12/9/2004

Peter,

Having actually read the Accord, I think that the article you cite is not only mistaken but arguably deceptive. In fact, the Geneva Accord is inherently (and probably intentionally) ambiguous on the issue of the so-called "right of return." You will note that the matter was, for that very reason, severely criticised in Israel.

In fact, the Geneva Accord does arguably accept a "right of return." Palestinians, in promoting the plan to their own people, argued that the plan included a so-called "right of return."

Which is to say, I cannot imagine how you think the article addresses my point that the Palestinian Arabs will not accept mere compensation in lieu of returning to Israel. Please explain.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/9/2004

Peter,
You are correct, there are many Palestinians who would welcome peace, even if that means giving up their right of return. However, the vast majority of Palestinians simply do not agree. Most Palestinians support the total annihilation of the Jewish state (any guesses what happens to the Jews in this Palestinian dream?) and even more support the wanton murder of innocent men, women, and children.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2056361.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/middle_east/2001/israel_and_the_palestinians/profiles/1654510.stm

The “Geneva Mideast Peace Plan” would be a great idea, except for 2 problems:
1) The people of Israel did not consent to it through their elected leaders, and
2) The people of Palestine WILL not consent to it.

Why does the international community think that Hamas is lying when it says that it will never give up its ultimate, long term objective of destroying Israel?

Furthermore, I must also add that my own beliefs about the conflict stem from the fact that, as a liberal, I simply cannot support a liberation movement that calls for the suppression of free speech, persecution of homosexuals, indoctrination of youth to encourage murder and death as personal goals, and a society that teaches and preaches some of the most vitriolic hatred leveled against another ethnic group since Jim Crow in America or Nazism in Germany.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3430077.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3167104.stm


E. Simon - 12/9/2004

The day that Abbas (or whoever the Palestinian PM is) goes to the U.N. with a gun and an olive branch and receives a standing ovation while threatening a compulsion to use the former (and stays in power doing so for decades afterward) is the day that we can say personalities don't matter.


N. Friedman - 12/8/2004

Peter,

Three brief points:

One. Israel is not remotely unique in having a law of return. Germany and France have them for, in the case of Germany, those of German heritage, and, in the case of France, those of French "Blood." It is also not unique to reconstitute a nation. Think Armenia.

Two. Sharon is not an enemy of the peace process. Such, frankly, is why he has stood up to some extremists on his side. I note that his life long friend Shimon Peres says that Sharon has always believed that a withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza are necessary. Where the two have differed is on tactics, not goals.

I might also add that Sharon is not barbaric. Everything he is accused of doing, without any exceptions, has been done repeatedly by US leaders and British leaders and French leaders, etc. yet they are not called barbaric. In fact, that which he is accused of has been done in Iraq by the US yet we do not call Bush barbaric - although some call him rather dumb -.

Three. You are quite correct that the actual refugees could, in theory, be compensated. Such was in the Clinton plan squandered by Arafat. I have yet to read a single Palestinian who says that such is an acceptable substitute for their alleged "right of return." So, I do not think that the Palestinians agree with your assessment.

I also do not think that the Israelis can properly be asked to put the money up (although the UN might if it wants to) for three reasons: one, they did not quite start the war which caused the refugees; two, the refugees - apart from a political decision they agreed to and which was pushed by their leadership along with the various Arab nations - could have been resettled where they ended up without any serious harm to them; three, there is the question of the 856,000 Jewish refugees from the various Arab countries with whom the Palestinians fought (and I note that the Palestinians actively worked to have the noted Jews expelled) and who are as entitled to compensation as the Palestinian Arab refugees.


E. Simon - 12/8/2004

I don't think I'm being a pollyanna. The problems you note I would have in no way brushed off in the past (including especially the Arafat years, and quite vocally so - an upward battle against the consternation of so many individuals and political movements who have stridently held the opposite view). And you're right - large segments of that society wax nostalgically for the burning embers of Arafat's destruction-lust. What I note is the following: A) No Palestinian leader can be both as seductively charismatic to both a nostalgic international community (the cult of the romantic "Arafat as hero" myth having been built over many years and beginning in a different time when self-determination was more pressing concern, and less critically defined) and the Palestinian community - while maintaining the previous level of destruction. B) Momentum toward a real governing process is a demand that will be difficult for any Palestinian contender in the political process to ignore.

If that government is to achieve any of what it would promise its constituency, it would absolutely require good faith and reciprocation from Israel. There is no way that Hamas (its decimated current state notwithstanding) or PIJ could achieve any degree of U.S.-sponsorship in negotiations or support. That government would be recognized as being as much of a non-starter as the Bush administration realized that Fatah under Arafat had been.

Abbas seems to understand this. His sincerity at curbing corruption has been mated with an abrupt withdrawal from the indoctrination of hatred on P.A. airwaves. I believe he is 50 times more honest than Arafat and is sincere in both his statements to the effect that the intifadah was a failure and in his bemoaning of the abject militarization of the society and the "struggle."

Of course the "right of return" is a huge problem. And there is a huge disconnect between what's feasible and where the Palestinians are at in their expectations. But I think an adept politician can jockey it off in a way that accepts reality and what Israel can live with and not look like a "sell-out" at the same time. Otherwise a settlement will take longer or until they accept that. But what was done at Geneva attests that there are Palestinian leaders with a willingness to be flexible, practical, and politically sensitive yet moderate in how they present something back home. But not too sensitive.

You have to judge these players as individual people. We're at a stage historically where individual personalities *will* matter in shaping the events. Individual personalities such as Marwan Barghouti, Mr. Friedman, whose firebomb antics and invocations would be the most destabilizing to the process and would be the most destructive to both parties. Luckily Fatah has seen fit to threaten the revocation of his membership should he run, seeing as how even a candicay independent of their endorsement was not good enough for them. I see that as progress. Absolutely.

Further, Sharon has shown little tolerance for Arafat-like shenanigans and I doubt any Israeli pol will be strong enough in the near future to oust him. The guy's even proven adept enough to re-invite the nearly moribund Laborites into a unity government to stave off the far right, who have absolutely no chance at advancing anything approaching a sensible agenda for Israel or the P.A., let alone one that even the friendliest of detachable Bush administrations would agree with.

Moderating away from Arafatism is progress and something to be as hopeful about as it will allow, no matter how incrementally. Don't let your understandable caution impede the sense of possibilities. Possibilities are not promises. But they are possibilities nonetheless. The Palestinians are promising their people change, and I think the demand to deliver is less easy for them to ignore this time. We all know what delivery will require. The expectations of them by the majority of foreign benefactors will be no less, certainly now that Arafat is gone.


leo solomon - 12/8/2004

I am dismayed at the ease with which hope is,yet again,triumphing over experience.An occassional glance at any Palestinian web site should add a sobering touch to the budding euphoria to which so many good hearted people seem addicted .What is said in Arabic is,almost always, in total variance with what is said in English and it is,almost always ,ignored.


N. Friedman - 12/8/2004

Peter,

You are, for a change, correct about something (at least to some extent). The issue here is not primarily bad actors. That is too easy and, moreover, it is not true. It is not supported by the polling evidence and it is not supported by the anecdotal evidence either. And it is not supported by the positions adopted by Arafat's potential successors.

In particular, the assumption of some is that Arafat and the terrorists were somehow on a lonely venture to prevent a settlement otherwise desired and that, but for his terror - along with Israeli intransigence -, peace might be nearer.

No. There are actual political issues involved and they are well entrenched. And, frankly, they do not merely concern the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs. They concern Israel and the Arabs more generally and the Muslim dominated regions of the world as well.

Consider, while refugees in all other circumstances are quickly resettled - rarely in their places of origin - the Palestinian Arab refugee issue has taken a unique course. In particular, the Palestinian Arab refugees are unique in two ways: (a) the offspring of the actual refugees are being treated as if they were refugees and (b) the host countries (apart from Jordan) have refused to allow the refugees to be resettled -and, in fact, there is rather overwhelming evidence that the refugees themselves refuse to be resettled -.

Understand, the refugee issue is the core issue. And the parties are, in truth, miles apart on the issue. Which is to say, Abu Mazen can, in fact, reach an agreement with the Israelis to either take some of the refugees in or, by contrast, to settle them in the West Bank. However, it is rather unlikely that his agreement on that issue would speak for the refugees or their offspring. Which is to say, he is not in a position to offer settlement, only a document entitled "settlement."

And understand, the Israelis are just as adamant about the refugee issue. On their understanding, the issue of refugees is not so simple. In particular, they note that the refugees were created during a war in which the refugees fought on the side of parties which, in their public declaration and, I might add, in the policy they actually pursued, sought not only to prevent Israel from coming to be but, in fact, sought to kill or expel all of the area's Jews. Note the very large number of Jewish refugees from Jerusalem and about 20 other towns and villages - I believe over 100,000 people were expelled by the Arab forces - of the Judea and Samaria (West Bank) - . As far as the Israelis are concerned, the results of the war, which they won, are not to be reversed to benefit those who fought the Israelis.

Moreover, they note that there are more Jewish refugees from the surrounding Arab countries (and West Bank) - all told, about 856,000 plus their millions of offspring - than Arab refugees (and their offspring) from Israel, that, in fact, the former leader of the Palestinian Arabs, the grand Mufti, el-Husseini, actually was directly involved in creating a good percentage of the Jewish refugees - in particular in Iraq (125,000 people) -, that in other disputes (e.g. the Sudetens summarily kicked out of Poland and Czechoslovakia at gun point at the end of WWII and the Hindu refugees from Pakistan and the Muslim refugees from India) refugees are resettled where they end up and not allowed to return home. Moreover, the Israelis ask why a Palestinian state is needed if Israel is to take in all of the refugees.

Again, these are all very big issues that, to date, have not been resolved and are not likely to be resolvable anytime soon. The refusal of the Palestinian Arabs to be resettled outside of Israel represents, in every sense of the word, a complete rejection of Israel.

If you have a solution to that issue, let me know.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/8/2004

Peter,
1) “If Mideast terrorism were to magically end … would that somehow also erase messianic Zionism, anti-Semitism, and the fact that there is only one Jerusalem and one set of watersheds to be divided amongst millions of people including both the ones with power and the ones with high rates of reproduction ?”

No, but those are obstacles that can be overcome. Messianic Zionism has always been held in check by Israeli authorities, and does not represent most Israelis, which would vote a peacemaker into office if the terrorism stopped. Anti-Semitism is perhaps the longest continual hatred on earth and it will likely be with us for a long time, but so what? Neither side has to like the other, they just need to tolerate the other. As for Jerusalem and the water supply, these can be negotiated on, as they were in 2000. I see no reason why the 2000 offer, plus perhaps some additional concessions by Israel regarding water distribution, could not be agreed upon with a new Palestinian leader and an end to terrorism.

2) “If Rabin had lived would Clinton have failed as he did with Barak and Arafat ?”

An interesting question. However, when I look at the events surrounding camp David, and Barak’s proposals, I do not see how anything would have been different so long as Arafat was in charge of the PA. Rabin may have put some added pressure on Arafat by virtue of their history and Rabin’s reputation, but I do not know if his stature would have been enough to make peace.

3) “Would Rabin have allowed Sharon to go the Temple Mount ? With Rabin as prime minister, would Arafat have been tempted to launch a second "intifada" resulting in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Israelis and the counterproductive revenge slaughtering of thousands of innocent Palestinians ?”

You are correct, these are relevant questions. However, Sharon was within his right to go to the Temple Mount, even if it incited Palestinians, and thus I don’t see anything Rabin could have done about it. Certainly, I take large issue with the contention that Arafat was “tempted” to launch a terrorist campaign against innocent men, women, and children. Aside from the fact that the terrorist campaign began slightly before Sharon’s visit, such acts of total barbarism as blowing up travelers on buses, children in nightclubs, and families in restaurants need no temptation other than the total dehumanization of the victims. There is absolutely nothing- nothing- that Sharon or any other Israeli leader could possibly have done to justify the terrorism.

The biggest mistake of the world, as the article suggests, is to believe that some terrorism is okay, and even justified. The belief that murdering innocent people is somehow the logical or rational response to perceived injustice. I disagree.

4) “Just because someone has died does not make him irrelevant. Begin and Sadat are both dead, but the security situation in the Mideast today would be much different if Israel and Egypt were still at war having not signed the 1979 Camp David land-for-peace deal.”

You are quite correct, and I do not mean to take anything away from Rabin’s legacy. However, it is always difficult to surmise what another leader would have done had he been in charge. It has always been a popular history topic on whether JFK would have intensified the war in Vietnam had he lived, whether his sexual scandals would have caught up with him had he run again. Some wonder what the Cold War would have looked like had FDR been alive at Pottsdam, or how Bill Clinton would have reacted to 9/11. All of these are interesting questions and worth asking. But ultimately, with those examples, as well as with Rabin, your guess is as good as mine.


N. Friedman - 12/8/2004

E,

The issue is a political issue, not merely one of personalities. Which is to say, large segments of Palestinian society - not everyone, mind you, but let's say 30 - 45% - will never accept Israel. And, moreover, about that same percentage considers peace to exist, even with Israel, only if Israel takes in all the refugees (which, to note, is to say that such people will never accept Israel). Which is to say, peace is no nearer now than in the past but, perhaps, the Intifadah will come to an end for a while because such appears to have been Arafat's plan, whether or not pre-meditated (which it likely was).

This is not to say that a Palestinian state will not be created but instead that such a state and peace are not one and the same. Morever, that state will not likely ever be viable even if it met all publicly stated demands (other than the right of return).


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/8/2004

1) “Surely you are not as ignorant of history as this ridiculous monocausal claim would suggest.”

I suppose that depends on who you ask. Just so there is no confusion in my comment, I do not mean to suggest that terrorism has been the primary obstacle to peace since the beginning since such a claim would certainly be ridiculous. However, I would argue that it is today, and has been at least for almost 2 decades. In other words, if terrorism would stop tomorrow, and the Israeli people could be secure in the knowledge that terrorism had been completely abandoned, I truly believe that peace would be at hand (or at least, a mutual tolerance for the others existence). Leaders may come and go, issues are difficult but not insurmountable, but no nation can be asked to negotiate with groups who are actively engaged in the targeted slaughter of innocent men, women, and children.

2) “the number of articles about the Israeli-Palestinian feud over the past 3 years I would estimate at roughly 30 times the number of mentions of the word Rabin, on this supposed history site.”

I would agree but I have no problem with this. Rabin is dead, and while his legacy lives on, the conflict continued unabated. It is to the current dilemma, and not to Rabin per se, that has been the focus of discussion, not unjustifiably.

3) “Begin was a terrorist, yet got it. Sharon was a war criminal, yet if he pulls off some kind of real deal with Mazen, he may conceivably manage to get it too.”

Perhaps the biggest difference is that Begin, upon receiving the award, did not go back to old, pre-1948 methods but instead worked for peace. As for Sharon, his status is certainly controversial, but if he does win the peace prize, I am sure that many Arabs would be saying the same things that I say about Arafat, and perhaps not unjustifiably.

If Sharon makes peace with Mazen (let us hope), and then proceeds to start bombing innocent civilians for the purpose of killing as many as possible, than I will say the same about him as I do about Arafat, that he is a terrorist. I have no love for Sharon any more than I do for our current conservative government, but unlike the Palestinian people, I got a chance to voice my dislike at the voting booth last November and I can use this site and others to say whatever I want about Bush, his administration, and his policies. Ditto with the Israeli people.

Arafat however, was a tyrant in every sense of the word, who hobnobbed with presidents and emirs, raking in millions for his own private wealth while his people suffered in deplorable conditions. The rest of the Arab world has been using the conflict to advance their own agendas and the West is perfectly content to allow an extremist regime indoctrinate children with hate and death, so long as they all agree that Israel is evil. This is an international sickness that I hope the death of Arafat can help to alleviate.

http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/free_forbes/2003/0317/049.html
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=237450
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3211772.stm


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 12/8/2004

Peter,
I actually agree 100% with this article, and believe that it articulated very well the philosophical and political problem with Arafat and the international communities reactions to him. Thus I am sure it is no surprise that I do not agree with some of the points that you make. Generally, many of them commit the straw man fallacy of misrepresenting an opponents argument merely to dismiss that argument. I will elaborate in my post:

1) “The Nobel Peace Prize has a long and distinguished history that is recognized and appreciated by the civilized world.”

I don’t believe that this is in dispute. However, the peace prize has also been a political tool, and I do not believe that it means anything other than the fact that at one particular point in time, for whatever reason, the recipient did something that led to peace.

2) “Arafat, it must be acknowledged, was less brave, less wise, and much less morally consistent, and his behavior in his latter years (after Rabin's assassination) was not generally in accordance with the constructive moves towards peace which he and Rabin made during the Oslo period.”

What a benign statement. The man was directly responsible for the murder of innocent men, women, and children, indoctrinating Palestinians youth with hate and anti-Semitism, and became a multi-millionaire by robbing his brethren who lay starving in dilapidated refugee camps. “Not generally in accordance with the constructive moves towards peace.” Indeed.

3) “It is nonetheless a myth encouraged, if not mouthed, by most Mideast commentaries on HNN, and the kneejerk rightwing Israeli lobby in America which they lazily or foolishly ape, that Arafat was the only obstacle to peace in recent years (while, simultaneously, being somehow "irrelevant").”

I do not believe that anyone claims that he was the only obstacle to peace. I have heard people suggest that he was the main, or primary obstacle, without which peace might be achieved. However, I do not know of any “rightwing Israeli” lobbyist who has ever claimed that Hamas, and other terrorist organizations that Arafat created, are not obstacles to peace. Furthermore, Arafat was irrelevant, but not in the way you accuse others of claiming. He is irrelevant to the peace process, not irrelevant as a terrorist leader and dictator of the territories.

4) “No doubt, he was was a very important obstacle: this is evidenced by the new possibilities springing up after his demise.”

New possibilities after his demise? How about the literally dozens of opportunities for peace that he had throughout his long career that he either ignored, or spat on?

5) “That there were, and still are, many other obstacles is, however, also becoming increasingly clear by the now frantic efforts to find new scapegoats to rationalize continued suicidal eye-for-an-eye violence and destruction in that crazy little patch of desert.”

The only obstacle to peace is, and has been for a very long time, terrorism. Arafat was the chief architect of such terrorism but the so-called scapegoats as you call them have never changed. Is one inconsistent or unusual if they blame both Hitler, as well as the Nazi establishment that he created?


E. Simon - 12/7/2004

Peter's post is actually surprisingly and refreshingly well-written for the first 2 & 1/2 paragraphs before deviating a bit into the obsessively familiar polemics. I think the point is that Arafat's departure gives us better raw starting materials - not yet perfect (this is a political analysis, remember), but much better possibilities are now available; few Palestinian leaders could have been as destructive. Unfortunately he is unwilling to go beyond the simplistic tautology and sincerely analyze the current situation. So here goes.

M. Abbas' recent moves have been very positive, his demands make sense, and his intentions seem encouraging. Sharon appears, so far, willing to accomodate a good part of his agenda. The move by Fatah to endorse Abbas and block a nomination of quintiple-murdering convicted felon and "revolutionary" bomb-thrower Marwan Barghouti bodes well. It is yet to be seen if the population will understandably agree given his popularity currently running neck and neck w/that of Abbas. Of course, should Barghouti win, there is not a snowball's chance in Hades that Israel will release him, nor - given the Arafat precedent - should they, thereby paving the way for a demonstrably moderating force to build the civil as well as physical infrastructure for Palestinian statehood. Hopefully he will live long enough and remain strong enough to accomplish these goals before either someone as sensible rises to replace him or the political culture has matured to the point where this is no longer a significant worry.

I think the overall news is very good. I'm encouraged by what the Palestinians have begun to accomplish and look forward to seeing them achieve what they may given this new reality.

Also, the patch of desert reference is not really relevant to the topography in question - at least the majority of it.


N. Friedman - 12/7/2004

Peter,

Actually, Arafat was a Jihadi who never gave up on the notion that he would destroy Israel and kill and force its Jewish inhabitants to flee. He said as much repeatedly.


Andre Mayer - 12/7/2004

Yes, but . . . that's just not how the world has seen terrorism. When Arafat hit it big, back in the '70s, terrorists wewre regularly getting the Nobel Peace Prize: Begin and Sadfat, Sean MacBride (ex-IRA), I'm not even going to mention Kissinger and Le Duc Tho.


N. Friedman - 12/7/2004

I forgot to mention, the prime movers in the corruption of the language are the Europeans. And such, no doubt, had to do with the Europeans economic interests in the Arab Muslim part of the world.


N. Friedman - 12/7/2004

Professor Troy has written a very good article.

I do not know if I agree with all of it but, for sure, the damage done by those who chose and still choose to turn a blind eye to Arafat's terror war (i.e. Jihad) - making terror and freedom fighting and self-defense all the same thing, when they are not - have substantially helped legitimize the Jihadi terror war against everyone and not just against Israel.

And, such people have made it profoundly more difficult to fight the Jihadi terror war we are facing because our language has been corrupted to the extent that self-defense is accused of being a form of terror.