Monday, March 16, 2009

On an “Anti-Semitic” Form of Zionism That Ultimately Diminishes Zionism Itself

Anti-semitism means many things to many people, but inter alia it means to deny the right of Jews to self-expression, to demonize them, to try to shut them up with scare tactics. Anti-semitism is essentialist – it claims that Jews cannot have differences of opinions because it mandates Jews to be all of a certain type, no matter how they may appear to disagree.

In the L.A. Times, computer science professor Judea Pearl published his latest rant against anti-Zionism, labeling it "hate," "more dangerous than ani-Semitism," "seeking the physical destruction of five and a half-million people," "stabbing in the back" members of the peace camp, and other raving lunacies that one rarely hears here in Israel, thank God. According to Pearl, the "marginal minorities at best" of anti-Zionist Jews around today are either post-nationalist lefties, Neturei Karta righties, or they "hide, disown or denounce their historical roots in favor of social acceptance and other expediencies.".

This from a Jew who lives in the city with the largest number of Israelis outside of Israel – Los Angeles!

The "arguments" he adduces are the same stale and mindless ones we hear constantly from the dogmatic Zionist camp. My favorite is the "If-Every-People-Has-A-Right-to-a State,-then-Why-Not-the-Jews?", which has got to be the worst argument in the political Zionist arsenal. There are many peoples and ethnic groups that don't have states or homelands – just look at the Wikipedia article on ethnic groups and peoples for a long list. You can believe that Jews are a people or a nation without saying that have a right to a state, or that if they have a right to self-determination, you can claim that it doesn't have to be exercised in Palestine, or, for that matter, in the form of an ethnic state. Or you can argue that even if the Jews have a historical right to Palestine, it does not trump the rights of the natives, a majority of which the Jews ethnically cleansed between 1948-1952. All these arguments were made by Zionists prior to 1948; all are condemned today as heretical.

Are Jews a people? Are they a religion? The answer to that question, according to Pearl, depends on how it plays to the advantage of Zionism.

Anti-Zionism disguises itself in the cloak of political debate, exempt from sensitivities and rules of civility that govern inter-religious discourse, to attack the most cherished symbol of Jewish identity.

All of a sudden we are told that anti-Zionism violates the "rules of civility that govern inter-religious discourse." So Pearl wants to have it both ways – the Jews are a religion, Zionism=Judaism, and hence Zionism, like Jesus, is above discussion! But he also claims that the Jews are a nation, from which "it follows" that they have a right to take over their historic homeland and deny the rights of the native Palestinians to an equal sort of self-determination. To deny them that right would be to offend their religious sensitivities!

Look, it is not Pearl's Zionism that I mind – but the crazy logic that he uses to demonize the anti-Zionists, and the sort of hate-filled rhetoric that is taken from the ultra rightwing arsenal (Hmm, where have I seen Jews being accused of stabbing the nation in the back before?)

What about this familiar scare-tactic posing as an argument:

First, anti-Zionism targets the most vulnerable part of the Jewish people, namely, the Jewish population of Israel, whose physical safety and personal dignity depend crucially on maintaining Israel's sovereignty. Put bluntly, the anti-Zionist plan to do away with Israel condemns 5 1/2 million human beings, mostly refugees or children of refugees, to eternal defenselessness in a region where genocidal designs are not uncommon.

This is hogwash. Pearl cannot give an example of one anti-Zionist who advocates a system of government in Israel/Palestine which would make 5 ½ million Jews defenseless. To accuse Jewish anti-Zionists of plotting for the destruction of Jews is viciously anti-semItic. True, more Jews have died since World War II violent deaths due to war in Israel and because of Israel, than in any other place on the globe. But it is also true that the Palestinians have been vastly more defenseless than the Jews for the last eighty years. (And by the way, will Pearl allow the Palestinians a state in which they will not be defenseless, in which they will have an army the equal of the IDF?)

But more to the point, transforming a Zionist ethnocracy in Israel/Palestine doesn't mean replacing it with an Islamic Republic (in which state, by the way, the dhimmi Jews would have more rights than the Palestinians currently have on the West Bank). There could be two genuinely equal states (a solution that Pearl probably rejects, though he professes not to), a federation, or a confederation, or one state, or any solution in which both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples would have a great measure of self-expression and self-determination.

Because the Zionists adopted the Biltmore platform, because a Russian socialist named David Gruen designed the Jewish State hastily in 1948, and which remains today without a constitution, does this mean that the Zionist regime is the only bulwark against a future Holocaust of 5 ½ million Jews, God forbid?

Gimme a break!

Calling for regime change to make Israel more democratic and less Zionistic by non-violent means is not tantamount to genocide. By Pearl's logic, when Ronald Reagan called for the end of the Soviet "Evil Empire", he wanted to leave millions of Soviet citizens defenseless and liable for destruction. He did nothing of the sort, nor do the anti-Zionists. Most anti-Zionists today are unhappy with the Jewish State for many reasons, but they do not advocate a violent overthrow any more than did Reagan. And if one looks at some of the recent proposals of the Israeli Palestinians citizens for a more multi-cultural and democratic state then the current Jewish ethnocracy, the Jews would arguably be a lot more secure in the region than they are at present – and Israel would arguably be a much more meaningfully Jewish state, in the cultural and even religious sense, than it is at present. (See Bernard Avishai's book, The Hebrew Republic)

What saddens me most about the Pearl op-ed is how it reflects the staleness of Zionist discourse today. Over sixty years ago, there was a vibrant, intellectually exciting debate not only over Zionism, but over what shape it should take. Now, Zionists like Pearl are locked in an orthodox political Zionist dogma that sees only one form of Zionism – political Zionism as expressed in the institutions of Israel – as legitimate, and all forms of anti-Zionism and non-Zionism, as "worse than anti-Semitism."

I can forgive Pearl and those like him the anti-Semitism implicit in their remarks. There is a long tradition of Jewish intolerance to Jews, and some of my Jewish friends (though not my best friends) are anti-Semitic in this way.

It is Pearl's intellectual suffocation of non-statist forms of Zionism that saddens me. This sort of dogmatically orthodox Zionism is better described as "anti-Zionism."

51 comments:

Avram said...

"There could be two genuine states (a solution that Perl rejects, though he professes not to)"

Can you please cite a source for this?

"Zionistic"

I've always thought this wasn't a 'word'. Have I been misled?

Jerry Haber said...

I believe to have read it on a listserv of which Perl and I are members. But I added "probably" to be safe.

Why the probability? Because I have yet to meet a Zionist who is willing to have a militarized Palestine, and that goes for the leftwing Geneva Initiative crowd.

And as I have written repeatedly, Israelis who favor a two-state solution really favor a one-state-one 'state' solution, in which the latter is dependent upon the former and is neither in charge of its borders or defense.

Why wouldn't "Zionistic" be a word? It is a good adjective and found everywhere.

You find me any Israeli out there who is willing to have a Palestinian state equal in power to an Israeli state, and let me know about.

Avram said...

"You find me any Israeli out there who is willing to have a Palestinian state equal in power to an Israeli state, and let me know about."

As long as it's not militarily, I doubt many Israelis will worry ... Most of them, like on their side too I assume, have just had enough and want a 'separation'.

When their state happens, they'll probably have an army but a similar 'arrangement' as we have with the Egyptians where a certain strip is demilitarized.

I thought 'Zionistic' wasn't a word ... I just googled a few online dictionaries and none of 'em have it.

William Burns said...

There's also the irony of a Zionist identifying Jewish Israelis as the most vulnerable portion of the Jewish people--exactly the opposite of what the original Zionist program envisioned. He doesn't seem to realize that he is admitting Zionism to be a historical failure.

Jerry Haber said...

Avram, with all due respect, Israelis are not willing to let the Palestinians have an army. No proposed peace plan has even considered it. Period. A police force, yes; tanks, artillery, and an air force, no. The Geneva Initiative, which was rejected by Israeli government, contracts the Palestinian state's defenses to a a multi-national army.

How can the Palesti is nian state have a demilitarized strip when it barely has territorial contiguity? And of course, a demilitarized strip would have to include the Israeli side of the border.

Look on a map.

Avram said...

" No proposed peace plan has even considered it. Period. A police force, yes; tanks, artillery, and an air force, no. The Geneva Initiative, which was rejected by Israeli government, contracts the Palestinian state's defenses to a a multi-national army."

Why do you think the bolded is the case? Do the Israelis have any cause for worry? Surely you're not saying there is no need for worry here.

The GI's idea in theory sounds 'good' though it wouldn't work either (foreign troops only make it worse)

"How can the Palesti is nian state have a demilitarized strip when it barely has territorial contiguity? And of course, a demilitarized strip would have to include the Israeli side of the border."

I'd have no issue with the strip being on our side too - I never implied otherwise. Your point about territorial contiguity is irrelevant I feel (please correct me if I'm wrong) as I'm not saying "No people here" (unless I am missing the meaning of a demilitarized zone), but "no armies, army bases etc"

littlehorn said...

Hi Jerry. Very interesting post.

You might be interested to know, or maybe you already knew, that the 19th century American abolitionists were accused of wanting to exterminate the white race. The same accusation was levied against the French religious abolitionist, Abbé Grégoire. And as you can guess, it was levied in South Africa as well.

It seems every time there is talk of equality instead of discrimination, the whole race is believed to be endangered. That might be because discrimination is founded upon, and thereafter reinforces, the demonization of the other.

Y. Ben-David said...

The arguments that the people you call "liberal Zionists" make regarding their demands for a Palestinian state to be "demilitarized" are part of the same propaganda the pro-Oslo people to deceive the population into agreeing to bringing Arafat and his FATAH terror gangs to Israel in the first place. Do you remember the "golden oldies" like:

"Arafat would never dare start a terror war against Israel because he will be getting foreign aid and the donors would cut it off if he did such a thing". Well, he did start the terror war and the money kept coming...they used the excuse that "Arafat has no contol over the groups that are carrying out the attacks so he is not responsible"....or how about

"Arafat would never dare start a terror war because Israel is so strong and even has nuclear weapons so they know the Palestinians know they would be smashed if they tried something". I don't see HAMAS or anybody else deterred by Israel's nuclear capablilities...or...how about...

"Deep down what Arafat and the Palestinians want is the same thing Israelis want....money and power...they want a comfortable life just like us, so they won't start any wars....who in their right mind would do such a thing?".
Apparently they don't want the same things Yossi Beilin, Shimon Peres and the others who used these claims want.

So too, with the "demilitarization" demand. A sovereign state can not be dimilitarized against its wishes (e.g. post-Versailles Treaty Germany). If the Palestinians want to sign military pacts with Iran, Syria or anyone else and even station troops in their territory then no one will be able to stop them.
So do not take this demand by the "liberal Zionists" too seriously.

Anonymous said...

Jerry,

Is Japan a "state" despite the constitution imposed by the US following WWII?

I am an Israeli who would allow for a militarized Palestinian state, but would probably want a period of demilitarization first, given the track record of both their leaders and masses.

Jerry Haber said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for proving my point.

But your analogy is misleading. It would have been more accurate had Japan won the war and imposed demilitarization on the US.

For, you see, the comparison with Japan is an obscene one, and reveals the true mentality (and self-delusion) of the so-called "peace" camp in Israel.

Demilitarization was imposed on Japan as a punishment for its military aggression. To compare the armed struggle of dispossessed and occupied natives who are fighting for national liberation with the actions of a militaristic and powerful Japanese state of the early forties fills me with disgust.

But I will tell you what. I am willing to accept the principle of demilitarization of Palestine to allay Israel's existential fears, provided that you accept the demilitarization of Israel to allay Palestine's existential fears.

The fact that you won't shows that you oppose a real two-state solution based on what the Zionists called once "parity", neither to dominate nor to be dominated by the other state.

Israeli two-staters don't really want to give the Palestinians a state that can threaten Israel the way Israel can threaten them. They don't want a fair distribution of power

At best, like Anonymous, they are willing to give them a quasi-state and even a military after they have "proven" themselves. And who gets to determine when that is. Why, Israel, of course!

What a pity that the Palestinians didn't have this power of veto in 1948!

Can you imagine what David Ben Gurion would have said had he been offered a mini-Jewish state in three non contiguous regions -- on the condition that it is demilitarized.

He and every Zionist I know would have rejected it out of hand.

Avram said...

"But I will tell you what. I am willing to accept the principle of demilitarization of Palestine to allay Israel's existential fears, provided that you accept the demilitarization of Israel to allay Palestine's existential fears."

I guess Syria and Hezbollah and Iran also lose their weapons? Just we have a fair game then?

I'm surprised you haven't entered politics yet ... You would be a perfect politican I think (and you'd get a nice volvo too!)

Jerry Haber said...

littlehorn,

your comment could not have come at a better time for me, since I am listening (in my car) to the Lincoln-Douglas debates. (Pretty fascinating, if repetitive, stuff.)

The similarities between the fight to end slavery and the fight to end the Occupation are very interesting, and, as you point out, many of the arguments used today are echoes of the ones used then. Ditto for the fight to end apartheid, or any clear injustice.

A long-time, indefinite Occupation is a moral abomination. To keep an entire people without fundamental rights against their will, to govern them without their consent, to deny them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is, like slavery (though not of the same magnitude) obscene.

This, for me, is the Archimedian point around which people of all persuasion should rally. It does not go back to 48 directly, and it does not strike the problem at its route. But Ending the Occupation -- by withdrawal or even by annexation, if so desired by the Palestinians has to be a moral issue.

Anyway, could you give me some books to read. Let them be as mainstream as you like. I won't win points by quoting Zinn.

littlehorn said...

Ah well, sorry. But I learned about the above by reading some article somewhere, instead of a book.

Lilliput said...

"Ditto for the fight to end apartheid, or any clear injustice."

Jerry,

I wonder where all those people who faught for the end of apartheid are now?

Now - when the murder and rape rates is one of the highest - if not the highest in the world. The extreme poverty and inequality, the corruption, the inefficiency in maintaining infrastructure so that people sometimes have to use candles.

Why is nobody screaming for those poor African children now - when they probably need it more then before?

I just think that people want to be right over poeple genuinly wanting to help people - otherwise South Africa wouldn't be slip sliding its way to resemble modern day Zimbabwe.

Peter said...

Y. Ben David,
you can insinuate about Arab perfidy all you like, but at least don't distort facts. It is obvious today that Arafat did not start the Al-Aqsa intifada and was taken by surprise by the events. At some point, realizing that he was in no position to stop it he decided to rides its wave, but he was not behind the popular uprising from the start.
Regarding the demilitarized Palestinian state, it is agreed that this demand is hardly achievable or reasonable. And, if we ever come to the two state solution, it will most probably be better for both states that their overall military power be more or less matched for mutual determent.

Jerry Haber said...

Lilliput, stick to the Middle East. You clearly don't know much about South Africa if you think it will slip into being Zimbabwe. You also do the South Africans a disservice by dissing them. Yes, there are tremendous problems, and yes, there has been government corruption, not unusual for a government which has been run essentially by one party (cf. Israel in the 1950s and 1960s). But there have also been tremendous successes there. And there is a tremendous spirit of volunteerism and helping there that could serve as a model for other places.

Where are they now? Why don't you read up on South Africa seriously and tell me where they are now.

Jerry Haber said...

Avram,

What you are saying -- what the Israeli have always said -- is that since there are so much more of them than there are of us, we have to have parity with all of them, which means that the Palestinians will lose out, big time.

Well, I have another way of doing it. Let the Israelis have peace with Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinians -- and the rest of the Arab world will follow. They already could have had peace with Syria and Lebanon. And they already have peace with Egypt and Jordan, who haven't fired on them since 1973.

Oh, but maybe you don't trust such a peace with those Arabs? Well, maybe I don't trust the intentions of the Quartet and the US. After all, it was England that gave the Jews the Balfour Declaration.

So let's have parity between, say, the Arab world as a whole, and Europe, US, Russia, and Israel. I mean, it's not as if the those countries have never had designs on the Middle East. In that case, Palestine should be kept much stronger militarily than Israel, in order to keep up the balance of power.

Sorry, friend, it doesn't work that way. You can't cut the salami and save the biggest slice for yourself, and call it fair.

If the price to pay for a Jewish state is a neutered Palestinian state, then you have to be an idiot or a knave to support Israel's so-called "right to exist." Certainly had the Zionist ever said that to the nations of the world, they would not have gotten anywhere.

Instead, they lied through their teeth, saying to the world before 1948 that they could have a Jewish state without expelling a single Arab, or doing anything to their detriment. Then as soon as they expelled almost a million of them, they argued that a Jewish state couldn't survive if any of them were let back to their homes.

The longer Israel exists at the expense of the fundamental rights of the Palestinians the more people are going to ask themselves whether a Jewish state was a good idea in the first place.

They have already started to ask that -- the only think that has stopped them has been the false hope of a two-state solution.

That is why the two-staters in Israel today serve the purpose of the Occupation -- and why I endorsed Bibi for prime minister.

Avram said...

Peter D -

"It is obvious today that Arafat did not start the Al-Aqsa intifada and was taken by surprise by the events."

Was it also proven 'false' that most of the children of most of the prominent members of Fatah were sent abroad before the Intifada started? Or was that another myth I was duped into believing?

Can you also prove your statement with reliable sources?

"You clearly don't know much about South Africa if you think it will slip into being Zimbabwe. You also do the South Africans a disservice by dissing them"

Jerry, I was born in South Africa and have much family there. I work with a lot of people in Joburg and Pretoria, all non-Jews. Sadly, if you think many people aren't extremely worried about the future of the country you're wrong. My 'younger' family (ie 20-30) are all trying to leave and the the Jewish community isn't too happy there (though aliyah isn't their main goal, they see Oz & Canada & US as more realistic targets). There's a running joke of the country being 'Zumababwe' ... Alas, s/he (original poster) may have exaggerated their claims but South Africa is in a very bad way (maybe the World Cup can 'shift it' off the course it's on currently).

"Oh, but maybe you don't trust such a peace with those Arabs? "

I notice this in a lot of your posts - putting words in my mouth. Please stop - thanks.

To answer your question, I have doubts about the peace treaty with Egypt (not with Jordan) due to what I know of the country (Won't go into that more) but I'd rather have doubts about peace (cold/warm/boiling hot) than about war. So if you give me an option of either, it's rather obvious what I would pick.

"You can't cut the salami and save the biggest slice for yourself, and call it fair. "

What countries don't try to do that?

"Then as soon as they expelled almost a million of them"

The exact numbers will probably never be known, but it's most likely between 650,000 - 800,000.

"more people are going to ask themselves whether a Jewish state was a good idea in the first place"

Come on Jerry ... 'People' will be asking that non-stop no matter what Israel does (they'll continue even when a big and successful Palestine rises).

"the false hope of a two-state solution"

And yet you see no 'false hope' in a bi national state either ... Either you're prophetic or you just refuse to see the many glaring issues a bi national state would have ...

"and why I endorsed Bibi for prime minister"

Didn't your post, related to this, say you hoped Bibi is elected so we can become a pariah state? It would seem by this, and correct me if I'm wrong, that you didn't want him elected to 'end' the occupation but to 'hopefully' begin the demise of Israel.

Avram said...

Peter,

Please advise if these quotes are false:

"The Al-Aqsa Intifada emphasizes these principles and axioms. Whoever thinks that the Intifada broke out because of the despised Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is wrong, even if this visit was the straw that broke the back of the Palestinian people. This Intifada was planned in advance, ever since President Arafat's return from the Camp David negotiations, where he turned the table upside down on President Clinton. [Arafat] remained steadfast and challenged [Clinton]. He rejected the American terms and he did it in the heart of the US"
PA Communications Minister, ‘Imad Al-Faluji (Al-Safir (Lebanon), March 3, 2001.)

"The PA had begun to prepare for the outbreak of the current Intifada since the return from the Camp David negotiations, by request of President Yasser Arafat, who predicted the outbreak of the Intifada as a complementary stage to the Palestinian steadfastness in the negotiations, and not as a specific protest against Sharon's visit to Al-Haram Al-Qudsi"
PA Communications Minister, ‘Imad Al-Faluji (Al-Ayyam (PA), December 6, 2000)

"In light of the information, [after] analyzing the political positions following the Camp David summit, and in accordance with what brother Abu Ammar [Arafat] said, it became clear to the Fatah movement that the next stage necessitates preparation for confrontation, because Prime Minister Barak is not a partner who can respond to our people's aspirations. Based on these assessments, Fatah was more prepared than the other movements for this confrontation. In order to play the role given to it, the Fatah coordinated its administrative, civilian and sovereign apparatuses, and was not surprised by the outbreak of the current Intifada... The Fatah movement believed that the phenomenon of comprehensive struggle would appear at the final settlement stage.."
Sakhr Habash, Fatah Central Committee member (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 7, 2000)

(Zubeidi said some things in Haaretz backing this - but I don't like using him as an example as I've always thought he was a mash'tap.)

The above quotes kind of throws a lot of doubt on ...

"It is obvious today that Arafat did not start the Al-Aqsa intifada and was taken by surprise by the events. At some point, realizing that he was in no position to stop it he decided to rides its wave, but he was not behind the popular uprising from the start. "

Anonymous said...

"Demilitarization was imposed on Japan as a punishment for its military aggression. To compare the armed struggle of dispossessed and occupied natives who are fighting for national liberation with the actions of a militaristic and powerful Japanese state of the early forties fills me with disgust."

This is a smokescreen, Jerry. All I was showing was that you can be a "state" even if you're demilitarized; I was not suggesting that the circumstances bringing about the situation were identical.

Were you joking about Israel demilitarizing for the Palestinians? As if Israel's military exists because of the Palestinians?

Lilliput said...

Jerry, please, I'll stick to the Middle East, as its your blog and your strength, but as someone who lived in South africa for over 20 years and has parents who still live there - I think I may know a little. And I constantly read up more.

Its a bit glass half full/half empty in South Africa as there are some who have benefitted and others who have not.

Nobody (including Zimbabwe) would have believed that Zimbabwe could have slipped into modern day Zimbabwe but looking at the rest of Africa - its not such a great surprise is it?

Where are they now?
I think they're now protesting Israel's Apartheid State and raising more foreign Aid to be misused by the corrupt ruling elite....

Jerome said...

Just want to put this one out there: Why should Israel negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, when the Palestinian Authority is - ostensibly - ruled by Fatah, and Fatah (as Muhammad Dahlan just recently pointed out) has yet to recognize the right of Israel to exist?

Speaking about Hamas, Dahlan said:

"They say that Fatah has asked them to recognize Israel's right to exist and this is a big deception. For the one thousandth time, I want to reaffirm that we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. Rather, we are asking Hamas not to do so because Fatah never recognized Israel's right to exist."

Now, as you might recall, a recognition by both sides of the other's right to statehood was one of the key provisions of the 2003 "Road Map" to peace. Yet while Israeli governments operate and interact with the Palestinian Authority - indeed, we generally even speak of them - in accordance with this principle, the opposite is the case with those who rule the PA.

As of right now, one could very well say Israel is negotiating away its existence so long as there is no reciprocity on the "recognition" front.

On another issue, I would like to point out that - again - it's useful to read/listen to the words of the Palestinians themselves. Peter mentioned that Arafat hadn't a clue about the al-Aqsa intifada before violence broke out; how does that square, though, with these words?

"Violence is around the corner, and the Palestinians are willing to sacrifice even 5,000 casualties."

That's from PA Justice Minister Freih Abu Middein, speaking to Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, a PA-run newspaper, on August 24, 2000.

Arafat ruled the PA with an iron grip. It is reasonable to presume that nothing said by PA ministers, to PA-controlled media sources, was said without his permission.

How about this, also from a PA official (an advisor to Arafat, no less) prior to the outbreak of the al-Aqsa intifada:

"The next Intifada will be more violent than the first one especially since the Palestinian people now possess weapons allowing them to defend themselves in a confrontation with the Israeli army."

Them's fightin' words, not words of peace, from the mouth of one who whispered into Arafat's ears.

And speaking of peace...no doubt, surely everyone here is aware of the Khartoum Declaration of 1967? I also should think we're all cognizant of the declarations made by Arab leaders in 1948, urging the Palestinian Arabs to leave their homes until the war could be won against the Jews? Contrasted with Israel's own declaration of independence, which practically begged the Arabs of the former Mandate to stay...well...

Well, all of the above ties in to the question of whether or not a Palestinian State should be armed or disarmed, "virile" or neutered. I mean, what exactly is meant by "perfidy"? Those who rule the PA says they want peace in English, but then in Arabic give sanction to the continuation of violence. Is that not deceitful?

Also let us not forget, that it was not Israel which invaded Arab lands in 1948. It was the other way around. It was not Israel that declared war on the Arabs. It was not Israel that wished to drive its enemy into the sea. Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, said on May 15, 1948: "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades."

Finally, who has the greater claim to existential fears? The Palestinians, or the Israelis? It wasn't an Israeli, but a Palestinian, who said, "If we agree to declare our state over what is now 22 percent of Palestine, meaning the West Bank and Gaza, our ultimate goal is the liberation of all historic Palestine from the River to the Sea..."

Jerry Haber said...

Anonymous, I will allow that a state can be a state and be demilitarized. I will not allow that a state can be a state with forfeiting its right to self-defense. The various Israeli proposals for Palestinian self-defense, including the Geneva Initiative, are ludicrous. They reinforce the Israeli narrative of peace-loving Israel and aggressive Arabs.

Israel doesn't have a military because of the Palestinians. But if Israel signs peace treaties with Saudi Arabia, most of the Arab world, including Syria and Lebanon, then they will have less of an argument for the sort of military they have.

Israel's security needs are paramount to Israel, but should not be paramount to anybody else. They should not trump Palestinian security needs. Israel will not allow Palestine to enter into any security pacts with Arab states, or for that matter, other European states, because they want Palestine defenseless.

And my point is that if the price for Israeli security is a defenseless Palestine, then only a moral monster could defend Israel in that situation. Moral and decent individuals should be asking how can there be maximum security for both sides, not for one.

Avram said...

"And my point is that if the price for Israeli security is a defenseless Palestine"

What's the time scale on your requirements Jerry? I think that the Palestinians can have an army - and it should be allowed to grow with time but there can be limits at the beginning (then both sides can be satisifed). Surely if there's a peace treaty with Israel, then Palestine is not 'defenseless' as who do they need to defend themselves against?

Peter said...

Avram,
I don't know the specific context of your quotes but it looks to me that they are trying to take credit for thing post factum.
Israeli military intelligence itself concluded that there was no reason to believe Arafat provoked the intifada.
http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=1336

http://www.christusrex.org/www1/news/haaretz-11-5-04a.html

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=444992

See also One Million Bullets in October

Etc.

That the visit by Sharon itself was merely a catalyst to the intifada is not in dispute here.

Avram said...

Peter,

I cannot find the article right now, but one of the senior PA ministers (I think Erekat but cannot remember) confirmed that almost all the children of the senior members of the Fatah movement were sent abroad a few months before the intifada started. Surely, you don't think that's merely a coincidence ...

I briefly skimmed the haaretz & kibbush link and none of them really say Arafat wasn't in the 'know' of what was happening (it is just before Shabbat, so I may have missed it).

But again, those are not the only quotes that directly link Arafat to knowing and being a part of the planning of that intifada ... The truth I guess is somewhere in between the black and white ...

Shabbat Shalom

Peter said...

Jerome

I also should think we're all cognizant of the declarations made by Arab leaders in 1948, urging the Palestinian Arabs to leave their homes until the war could be won against the Jews? Contrasted with Israel's own declaration of independence, which practically begged the Arabs of the former Mandate to stay...well...

So, you peddle a long ago discredited myth here and want to be taken seriously? A student of history at that?

Anonymous said...

I think someone needs a hug.

Avram said...

Peter - Correct me if I'm wrong (or 'with all due respect' as Jerry says), it seems that you have this 'absolute' grasp on history. Is there any area where you have doubts about your version of history?

Peter said...

Avram, go fight straw men somewhere else, would you? The myth that Arab leaders called on the Palestinians to leave the country was absolutely discredited and refuted. There are definitely disputable things about this conflict, but this is not one of them. If you need pointers, I will give them to you; if, on the other hand, you want just to prick me, I am not game.

Peter said...

OK, Avram, I left my last comment in a huff, but I feel like you are abusing good will (which I thought was established between us) with comments like this. Would you expect me to say: "No, I know I am always right"? Then why ask silly questions?
From our correspondence, you might have noticed that I don't claim knowledge of things unless I have evidence to support me. If a person comes here and repeats a long discredited myth, I don't see anything wrong with sending him back to where he came from to reexamine what he thinks he knows about the history of the conflict.

Avram said...

Peter, I was asking be'ofen klali. Even on falsdi, you come off as someone who has a 'grasp' on history and call most things that don't fall in line with your 'line' myths etc. So I was just wondering where you have 'doubts' that your history is accurate. If you don't, sababa. If you do, just curious (ie: There are definitely disputable things about this conflict)

Avram said...

"I left my last comment in a huff, but I feel like you are abusing good will (which I thought was established between us) with comments like this."

Sorry ole chap, I just am curious to see where you have questions about the history of Israel (pre or after '48) ... Sorry if I phrased it in a way that insulted you -

Peter said...

Avram,

"Peter, I was asking be'ofen klali. Even on falsdi, you come off as someone who has a 'grasp' on history and call most things that don't fall in line with your 'line' myths etc

I'd be happy to address specific cases of such behavior. If indeed I was being an arrogant prick claiming to "know" the history and calling something a myth while it was not so (beyond reasonable doubt), I will apologize and eat the humble pie.
In general, of course, in any argument one employs various methods to drive his/her point home, such as being assertive and confident, dismissive of other people claims etc. I know I do, but, again, I think I try to do it when I can back my claims up. Do you think, for example, that I did not give credit to your idea that I/P conflict has a lot to do with prior Jewish/Muslim tensions? This is not really a factual argument and reasonable people may disagree about it using different set of facts. I disagree with you insomuch as I think that historical Jewish/Arab tensions are relatively minor drivers of the current conflict (even though I never dismissed them entirely). I did not call it a "myth", just stated my reasons to think differently from you.
Anyway, glad to see we are still "friends" :) As a rule I really enjoy talking to you.

Avram said...

"Anyway, glad to see we are still "friends" :) As a rule I really enjoy talking to you."

Peter, don't be hitting on me in public man ... You'll kill both our reputations! ;)

What 'event' (or 2!) since 1948 do you feel is shrouded with most 'controversy' with regards to 'what really happened'?

On that note, have a good day sir.

littlehorn said...

Avram, go fight straw men somewhere else, would you? The myth that Arab leaders called on the Palestinians to leave the country was absolutely discredited and refuted.

littlehorn said...

Avram, go fight straw men somewhere else, would you? The myth that Arab leaders called on the Palestinians to leave the country was absolutely discredited and refuted.

The following is a part-transcript of this video with Norman Finkelstein.
[starting at 15:10]
The dominant interpretation, the one which everybody heard, or had known by memory, I'm sure, up until the mid-1980s, was that the Arab armies invaded Palestine in 1948. There were these Arab radio broadcasts telling the Palestinians to flee. The Palestinians followed the orders from the radio, left, and it was supposed to be...uh the Arab armies were going to sweep the Jews into the sea. And then the Palestinians would return. But that's not what happened, and so the Palestinians got what they deserved.

Well, already in the early 1960s, there were two scholars. One named Urskin Shilders*, Irish man, and a Palestinian named Vali Khalidi*, and they went back and they checked this original interpretation. Because as it hap- or I should say this official interpretation. Because as it happened, that area in 1948 was very heavily monitored by intelligence organizations, and they all kept tapes of the radio broadcasts. So Mr Schilders and Mr Khalidi, they go and they check the various tapes of the radio broadcasts, go through all of them, they find no evidence of Arab radio broadcasts. Didn't happen. They published their finding in a British periodical called The Spectator, but it had relatively little impact. The dominant narrative remained, though people knew, on the fringes, there were some dissenting voices.


The rest is available there.

* I can't be certain of the spelling.

Peter said...

What 'event' (or 2!) since 1948 do you feel is shrouded with most 'controversy' with regards to 'what really happened'?

Plenty. For most controversy I'd pick the Six Day War as one - was it really a war for survival, as it is often portrayed or actually an Israeli aggression? I am sure some people have very convincing answers, but I haven't spent time researching it myself, so, for me most of the questions about this war still stand. (Sinai campaign is another example, but about this one there is more consensus, I think, of it being an imperial adventure first and foremost).

littlehorn said...

I cannot find the article right now, but one of the senior PA ministers (I think Erekat but cannot remember) confirmed that almost all the children of the senior members of the Fatah movement were sent abroad a few months before the intifada started. Surely, you don't think that's merely a coincidence ...

Surely, you don't think you can compel us to agree with your views merely by saying that we can't think it's a coincidence.

Well, what if I do ? What if I do think it's a coincidence, what if I do think they were sent away for another reason. What will you say now ?

littlehorn said...

And then there's also this.

Much of the information in the Ha'aretz report comes from Ephraim Lavie, an honors graduate of Israel's National Security College who rose through the ranks in MI's research section and eventually became head of MI's Palestinian research unit during the era of the Camp David talks. "Defining Arafat and the PA as 'terrorist elements' was the directive of the political echelon," said Lavie. "The unit's written analyses were presenting completely different assessments, based on reliable intelligence material."

[...]

Journalist Eldar found others who had worked inside MI to corroborate Lavie's story. General Gadi Zohar, who once headed the MI terrorism desk, agrees the heads of the MI research unit "developed and advanced the 'no partner' theory and [the notion] that 'Arafat planned and initiated the intifada' even though it was clear at that time that this was not the researchers' reasoned professional opinion."

In fact, these intelligence veterans say, MI concluded after Camp David that Arafat was willing to follow the Oslo process and abide by interim agreements. He wanted to keep the negotiating process alive, and even told his staff to prepare public opinion to accept an agreement that would include compromises. He thought violence would not help his cause. In late September 2000, when violence did erupt in a second intifada, it was purely a popular protest, MI found. Arafat and his advisors never expected it, much less planned it.


Coincidence ?

Avram said...

"Arafat and his advisors never expected it, much less planned it"

So the quotes I posted earlier are fabricated? Or is Peter's explanation (ie, 'take the credit') good enough for you?

Avram said...

Little Horn,

A few more quotes for you ...

* "the Palestinian people are likely to turn to the Intifada option"
Yasser Arafat (Al-Mujahid, April 3, 2000)

* "We must wage a battle in the field alongside of the negotiating battle...I mean confrontation"
Marwan Barguti (Ahbar Al-Halil, March 8, 2000).

* The July 2000 edition of Al-Shuhada monthly, distributed among the Palestinian Security Services, states: "From the negotiating delegation led by the commander and symbol, Abu Amar (Yasser Arafat) to the brave Palestinian people, be ready. The Battle for Jerusalem has begun." One month later, the commander of the Palestinian police told the official Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: "The Palestinian police will lead together with the noble sons of the Palestinian people, when the hour of confrontation arrives." Freih Abu Middein, the PA Justice Minister, warned that same month: "Violence is near and the Palestinian people are willing to sacrifice even 5,000 casualties." (Al-Hayut al-Jadida, August 24, 2000 -- MEMRI).

* "We will advance and declare a general Intifada for Jerusalem. The time for the Intifada has arrived, the time for Intifada has arrived, the time for Jihad has arrived."
Al-Sabah, (September 11, 2000)

So I guess that leaves it fairly open there as to what was happening - MI says one thing, the Palestinians say another.

Peter said...

Avram, a couple of things:
1) We were talking about Arafat, not Fatah or PLO or Barguti etc, don't conflate those. Read carefully what I said to Y Bed David.
2) The quotes you bring could be understood in many different ways. For example, there is no doubt that the Palestinians were fed up with the peace process and were ready to use violence to force Israel to make concessions. Kimmerling and Migdal, among others, blame the failure of the Oslo process on the fact that Israel got most of what it wanted - the end to the Palestinian violence and recognition - from the very start, while Palestinians got mostly bupkes, with settlements growing faster than ever to add insult to injury; so, Israel had almost no incentive to make further concessions and the Palestinians recognized it. Note what Avi Issacharoff says in today's Q&A in Haaretz (with yours truly question at the bottom :-) ):

Shalom Avi. I read that the second intifada started because Ariel Sharon went up on to Temple Mount, and I read that it was because Arafat had planned it all along. Which is true? Thanks
Mark Gold
New Jersey, USA


Avi Issacharoff:
Shalom Mark. I believe that neither is true. Sharon's visit was a spark that started a fire that was almost there anyway. I don't think that Arafat planned the intifada, he joined the uprising. I believe that what happened on September 2000 was an expression of the feeling that negotiations failed, while violence might work.


and

[...]After the failure of the summit in Camp David in July 2000, there was a Palestinian attempt to reach a better deal in the negotiating table through the intifada and the use of violence.

All this is consistent with the view that Arafat himself preferred a negotiations route. Did he and those around him sense that a violent uprising was around the corner? I bet they did. They probaly also thought they'd be able to control it.

Finally, remember that belligerent quotes on their own don't constitute intentions.

Avram said...

"We were talking about Arafat, not Fatah or PLO or Barguti etc, don't conflate those"

Come on Peter - Barghouti wasn't under Arafat? These people were 'his' wingmen, surely he was well aware of what they knew. Just look what Zubeidi says if you think, unlike me, he isn't an 'agent' of Israel in some way.

"Read carefully what I said to Y Bed David"

Which thread?

"I don't think that Arafat planned the intifada, he joined the uprising"

And was in rather good control of it, as pointed out by Zubeidi or the many 'signed' stuff the IDF pulled out of the Mukata during Defensive Shield.

"Finally, remember that belligerent quotes on their own don't constitute intentions."

I hope you honestly don't feel that way about belligerent quotes in general ...

Avram said...

Pete - I'm off to miluim on Sunday for shavoah shetach (don't you miss those days eh?) and then vacation to the good ole US of A. So I may not respond for a while -

Chag Sameach (to Jerry too, and the others here who are celebrating)

littlehorn said...

So I guess that leaves it fairly open there as to what was happening - MI says one thing, the Palestinians say another.

The Palestinians. Yasser Arafat.

Wasn't the whole discussion about who launched the intifada ? I thought it was. My bad.

Well, I guess the Palestinians did say they wanted to launch an intifada before they did it. That changes everything.

And that explains why Arafat continued the negociations and had a delegation sent to Taba. He wanted the peace process to fail so much, that he launched the Intifada, and then, as a kind of coup de grace, he continued them. Ow ! End of the peace process forever and ever and ever.

Peter said...

Come on Peter - Barghouti wasn't under Arafat?

What do you mean "under"? It seems like you have a very primitive view of power games in Fatah and PA in general. Arafat of course was the most powerful leader but he did not have nowhere a total control.
Well, I think this is a rather pointless argument. MI having all the info that we have and then some concluded that Arafat wasn't interested in starting a new intifada. The only source for the opposite claim was Amos Gilad in contravention of his superior and other MI analysts (the same guy who promised that the earth will shake when Americans discover stockpiles of WMD in Iraq) and Ehud Barak. You don't have a point, unless you bring some credible source to support you.
Now, a more interesting question is whether the Palestinians had a better alternative than starting the intifada. I don't know. Israel wasn't giving them anything and was about to vote for a right-wing government. Barak did not have a mandate even for the Camp David offer, which the Palestinians would have been ill advised to accept. So, looks like they had only bad options. But that's Israel's fault, mostly.
Have good milu'im and trip.

P.S. Re: shvua shetakh. Yes, I miss this and a lot of things about the army. The camaraderie, my soldiers, the landscapes of South Lebanon... But this is gone and there are better things in life.

Avram said...

"He wanted the peace process to fail so much, that he launched the Intifada, and then, as a kind of coup de grace, he continued them"

Little - Did you ever read the quote from the Saudi reps who directly blamed Arafat for the failure of the 'peace process' (or whatever you want to call what Barak & Arafat were playing at) in 2000? I guess they are just trying to frame him anyways.

Peter

"It seems like you have a very primitive view of power games in Fatah and PA in general."

Thanks

"the same guy who promised that the earth will shake when Americans discover stockpiles of WMD in Iraq"

I guess if you're wrong twice, you're wrong always! I still think, and I'm sure you do, there were WMDs in Iraq. Were they ever a threat to Israel (amount, intention etc)? I highly doubted it then, which is why I thought that Operation Screw Sadam II was a mistake (at least form an 'Israeli perspective')

"Israel wasn't giving them anything and was about to vote for a right-wing government."

You seem to, in general, basically think Israel has never given the Arabs anything - so there's always a reason for 'that' option.

"But this is gone and there are better things in life."

There are better things in life, but it's always good to take a break from it all. I enjoyed the drills this past week but it's not the same when you have a wife & newborn at home - still gotta be there.

Peter said...

I guess if you're wrong twice, you're wrong always!

Well, not always, but when you frame your positions in such an arrogant, uncompromising, know-everything way and then it is found you did not have a clue what you were talking about, then everything you say is suspect from the get-go, yes.

"I still think, and I'm sure you do, there were WMDs in Iraq

Huh? No I don't. Not after all the effort put into finding even a shred of of a shred of evidence of there ever being ones.

"You seem to, in general, basically think Israel has never given the Arabs anything - so there's always a reason for 'that' option."

I think I have a good reason to.

"I enjoyed the drills this past week but it's not the same when you have a wife & newborn at home - still gotta be there."

Exactly :)

Avram said...

"WMDs in Iraq

Huh? No I don't. Not after all the effort put into finding even a shred of of a shred of evidence of there ever being ones."

If you think Saddam didn't have any, then ok ... I don't believe for one second he had enough to threaten 'the West' the way it was portrayed, but he definitely had them and they were either destroyed or moved ...

""You seem to, in general, basically think Israel has never given the Arabs anything - so there's always a reason for 'that' option."

I think I have a good reason to. "

Oh well ... If only European Jews and Arab Jews had 'Palestinian sized balls', eh? Would have been an even more interesting last century!

Peter said...

If only European Jews and Arab Jews had 'Palestinian sized balls', eh? Would have been an even more interesting last century! I admit I have no idea what you are talking bout.

By the way, there has been an interesting discussion over at Ricard Silverstein's blog regarding the exodus of Arab Jews, (see the link to a comment on Mondoweiss in Arie's comment, as well as several comments below that of Arie). The events behind the exodus are another example of things about the conflict I am agnostic about.