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We can live in truth or lie in death

Today, 58 years ago, the United Nations partition plan for Palestine was officially enacted, despite the opposition of every country in the region, and the first major Arab-Israel war began. Webdiary columnist Roslyn Ross marks the event with this sobering review. Roslyn's last Webdiary piece was There can be no tolerance of torture.

by Roslyn Ross

I remember growing up during the Cold War years, wondering, more often than one would wish, just when the radio-active cloud would roll across the horizon. In those days the likelihood of World War Three seemed very real when probably it wasn’t.

In these days the likelihood of World War Three may not seem so real when probably it is. Not only do we have the bloody mess of our own making which is Iraq but we have George Bush threatening to ‘nuke’ the Iranians.

Now, there’s no denying that the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may sound a little crazy, but then so does George W and unlike the Americans and the Israelis, the Iranians have not actually attacked, let alone bombed anyone, for over a century, without being attacked first, as they were by Iraq, in a war backed by the Americans. But who is going to let the ‘facts’ get in the way of a good story let alone anything approximating truth as more recently published translations of what Ahmadinejad actually said suggest?

It was interesting to spend a couple of months in Russia last year and to discover that what Russians believed about the West during those chilly years of stand-off, was exactly what we were led to believe about Russia. Each side was convinced of its rightness and innocence and each side was convinced about the aggression of the other. Both sides were being told lies.

Interestingly, the ‘lies’ remain, only the names have been changed. The charges levelled against the Russians, are now being made against Muslim/Arab terrorists and movie bad guys are now Islamic extremists instead of evil Russians. Not only are we being lied to now, as we were then, but the lies of today sit upon a dangerous pool of ignorance. If, in the near future, we found ourselves caught up in the nuclear nightmare of World War Three, how many people would know the underlying causes?

Some ‘causes’ are recent; the injustice of invasion, occupation and economic ‘colonisation’ of Iraq with reports showing some 200,000 Iraqis dead and counting three years into the conflict, and taking into account the Gilbert and Burnham report published in the Lancet in 2004 which estimated 100,000 Iraqis dead after just 18 months of war and occupation. And then there are the tens of thousands dead and maimed in Afghanistan because of American ‘retaliation’ for 9/11... an act, committed, not by Afghans but by Saudis!

But one of those ‘causes’, fertile with potential, has been with us for more than half a century; The Great Catastrophe. May 15 marks the 58th anniversary of the dispossession of the Palestinian people and the beginning of their suffering under occupation and colonisation by Israel. In all instances many people are woefully ignorant about what is going on although in the case of the Palestinians, most are completely ignorant about the original injustice of partition and the ongoing human rights abuses the Palestinians have suffered and continue to suffer to this day.

And one major reason for that ignorance is the lack of information provided by the media and our political leaders. The Palestinians, more than any other occupied people, have been buried under a deadly weight of political correctness. In other words, you can’t talk about the human rights abuses, and war crimes, that Israel has carried out and continues to carry out against Palestinians because the anti-semitic ‘flag’ might get waved and we can’t have that. Or can we?

It has long been said that truth is the first casualty of war, perhaps even more so when the war is one of invasion and occupation. The Greek tragic dramatist, Aeschylus (525BC-456BC) is reputed to have been one of the first to say it, and it was probably hardly original even then, but truth has always been a flexible medium in the hands of the powerful. The controversial journalist John Pilger, would argue it is even more so today because of what he calls ‘journalistic censorship,’ which is both imposed from above and by journalists on themselves.

It is not truth, but journalism, which is the first casualty of war, said Pilger, in his address, ‘Reporting War and Empire, at Columbia University, New York.

It is, he says, censorship by omission, whose power is such, that in war, it can mean the difference between life and death for people in faraway countries such as Iraq.

Or Palestine, I would add, a country whose own suffering has been generally ignored because the public is, in the main, ignorant as to why Palestinians are fighting against the State of Israel.

It is this ‘weeping sore’ of injustice which has for so long fuelled anger in the Arab and Islamic world. The success of Israeli and Jewish lobbyists in their bid to gain egregiously biased support from the United States for their continued occupation and colonisation of Palestine has turned this anger into rage.

And yet, if the press and politicians are to be believed it is only the Israelis who have a right to be enraged. It is the suicide bombers that we hear about and the suffering of Israelis, not the constant murder, misery and suffering of the Palestinians.

We all heard about the nine Israelis who died in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv last month, but how many heard about the 66 Palestinians killed by the Israeli Army in the past three months? Most of them were civilians and many were women and children. For more than a month Israel has been bombing Gaza with some 200 shells a day.

Yes, this is in ‘retaliation’ for some feeble home-made rockets which the Palestinians fire at their occupiers in a pitiful fight for freedom, and which do little or no damage, but the Israeli over-kill, literally, is considered acceptable when the Palestinian resistance to occupation is not! Hardly fair one would have thought unless you belong to the ‘might is right’ school.

And to make matters worse, in between bombing the Israelis collectively punish the imprisoned population with sonic booms which doctors say cause miscarriages and which terrify adults and completely traumatise children.

One in five Palestinian dead is a child. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights says at least 408 Palestinian children have been killed since the beginning of the intifada in 2000. Many of these children, one as young as four, had been shot in the head by Israeli Army snipers.

Gaza is surrounded by an electric fence and is a huge prison, ‘with a million inmates,’ as described by Israeli film-maker, Ram Loevy. It is a place of collective punishment, and in the purest sense, a ‘concentration camp.’ It may have been one of the first in Palestine but it is not the last.

With the Israeli Apartheid Wall, an enormous rise of concrete where land-grab masquerades as security, snaking through the occupied territories, more and more Palestinians are finding themselves ‘concentrated’ into ‘camps’ controlled by Israeli Army checkpoints.

The wall divides families from each other, farmers from land, people from jobs, children from schools, the sick from hospitals and the occupier from the occupied. And the colonisation continues apace. In the weeks following the pullout of 8,000 illegal settlers from Gaza, about 23,000 Israelis moved to the West Bank.

The Palestinians live under constant harassment from settlers and the Israeli Defence Force. On April 10 Israeli army forces distributed fresh demolition orders in Agaba, a village in the west of the Jordan Valley. They come on top of sixteen previous demolition orders which threaten to destroy the social, economic and cultural institutions of the village. The village is located on a hilltop and therefore of strategic ‘value’ to the occupation forces. During the Oslo period, when colonisation of the Occupied Territories became Israeli Government policy, this area was designated a C zone and slated for more settlement expansion.

The villagers of Agaba, like so many others, continue to fight to hold on to their land. On April 17 IDF forces attacked a school in Anata and injured five children. Since August the Apartheid Wall has run through the middle of the schoolyard. Anata has always been a part of Jerusalem’s urban area, but the Wall and a settler bypass have turned it into a ghetto. There are plans to expand settlements further making life even more of a living hell for the Palestinian community as Israel pursues, what a UN report has termed, its unilateral approach to a ‘solution’.

From the moment that the United Nations and the international community made the decision to partition Palestine, against the will of the majority of the people living there, in order to allow the creation of the State of Israel, the scene was set for bloodshed.

Whatever one may believe about Jewish ‘rights’, whether because of their suffering at the hands of the Nazis, or because thousands of years before, some followers of their religion had lived in this part of the world, the simple fact remains that to dispossess people in order to set up your own State is morally and legally wrong.

The international community and the United Nations simply did not have the right to partition Palestine even though, at the time, the proposal ‘supported’ by the UN amidst accusations of diplomatic intimidation by the Americans, to force the vote, was very different to what the Zionists had in mind and what has come to pass.

Let’s say it was discovered that the Gypsies (Romany), another Stateless people, and equally persecuted as Jews were by the Nazis and others, had once had a homeland in say Australia, and the international community decided they should be allowed to create a new one here... Would Australians support it? Should they support it? Could they be criticised for fighting against it if they opposed it and it was done anyway? That is the reality for the Palestinians.

The Italians (Romans) invaded England and established London (Londinium) and yet few would argue that they had a ‘right’ to reclaim any of it. And yet this was the argument put forward for the establishment of Israel where the ancient Hebrews had invaded Canaan (Palestine) and established Jerusalem. How do we know that the Palestinians who were dispossessed by the creation of Israel were not descendants of the original Canaanites and therefore with far greater right to the land? We don’t!

And, as the Palestinians point out, why should their country be divided to create a homeland for Jews because they had suffered at the hands of the Nazis? Surely if justice were done it would have been Germany that was divided?

The ‘war’ to establish the State of Israel was based on lies. Just as the English said Australia was ‘terra nullius’ to justify colonisation, so the Zionist catchcry was: ‘A land without people for a people without a land.’

The Jewish writer, Ahad ha-Am, otherwise known as Asher Ginsberg, who became the central figure in the movement for Cultural or Spiritual Zionism, in 1891, voiced opposition to the political Zionist agenda of settlement in Palestine and said: "From abroad, we are accustomed to believe that Eretz Israel is presently almost totally desolate, an uncultivated desert, and that anyone wishing to buy land there can come and buy all he wants. But in truth this is not so. In the entire land, it is hard to find a tillable land that is not already tilled."

The establishment of the State of Israel involved mass ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, mass transfer resulting in the depopulation of nearly 85 percent of the native indigenous Arab population resident in the territories that came under Israeli control. They were dispossessed of their vast rural and urban real estate and financial properties and some three-quarters of a million Palestinian Arabs (today numbering over four million) were stripped of their right to citizenship in Israel.

Joseph Weitz, "one of the architects of the Zionist settlement’ said: ‘Among ourselves it must be clear that there is no place in the country for both peoples together ... The only solution is Eretz Israel, at least the west part of Eretz Israel, without Arabs ... and there is no other way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries, transfer all of them, not one village or tribe should remain..."

Not surprisingly, the Palestinians, having had their protests and their rights unilaterally dismissed, and had their people dispossessed, if not killed, at the hands of Zionist gangs using the sorts of tactics we now classify as ‘terrorist’ decided, with the help of their allies to fight back. The irony is that people who cannot find justification for the Palestinian fight against occupation and colonisation would give full support to French partisans for instance, in their fight against occupation. Or, one might add, to the British, if Hitler had succeeded in his invasion plan.

During the 1948-49 war and throughout the 1950’s some 500 Arab villages and cities were destroyed and almost all were razed to the ground by the Israeli Army. One of the worst massacres of Arabs took place at Deir Yasin in April 1948 and it is on this land that the official State of Israel holocaust memorial, Yad va-Shem, now stands as well as the City of Jerusalem cemetery. There’s something seriously tasteless, or sublimely arrogant, about building a memorial to the suffering of your own people on land where you have committed a war crime!

Moshe Dayan, the Israeli military leader and politician said in a speech in 1969, "You even do not know the names of these (Arab) villages and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only the books, but also the villages no longer exist. There is not a single settlement that was not established in the place of a former Arab village."

When the Palestinians and their allies lost the war of 67, Israel became the occupier of all of Palestine. Not only has Israel become increasingly brutal as an occupying force over the past decades, it has instituted a colonisation plan which makes a viable Palestinian State impossible, and given the malicious cruelty involved in its application, a plan which, one can only assume, seeks to make life so impossible for any remaining Palestinians that they will leave.

That colonisation ‘plan’ has involved dispossession, demolition of homes and destruction of orchards and vineyards, (many of them ancient although there are now accusations that some of those removed are sold to Israelis.) Israel’s response to the Palestinian fight for freedom has been bombs, bullets, wilful destruction of schools, hospitals and government infrastructure, assassination, imprisonment without trial, torture and collective punishment. Since the latest intifada began more than three times as many Palestinians than Israelis have been killed including large numbers of children.

And all the while Israeli settlers, living illegally on Palestinian land, look down from the well-watered lawns and their neat streets, or travel on their Israeli-only roads which cut through the heart and hearth of Palestine, far removed from the carnage which is carried out in their name. But one thing which the Israelis have overlooked in their colonisation plan is the fact that when people have nothing left to lose but their lives, then they will choose to ‘lose’ their life willingly in the fight for freedom.

I spent time in Israel and Palestine a few years back and was struck by not only how little Israelis know about their neighbours but how racist they are in regard to Palestinians in particular and Arabs in general. It may be a defensive mechanism but it is a dangerous one. So too are the myths or lies which Israelis believe about the founding of their State. Most believe there were no Palestinians when Jewish settlers arrived in the 19th century and that at partition the Palestinians left voluntarily. This is despite more recent evidence presented by historians, many of them Israeli, like Dr Ilan Pappe, to the contrary. They believe that the Palestinians came later, which rather makes the fact that countless Palestinian refugees have keys to homes in Israel, all the more remarkable.

They also believe that a Palestinian and an Arab are the same thing and Palestinians should just go to an Arab country because there are so many of them and they have so much more land than Israel. One doubts that an Italian or German would happily give up their homeland because, after all, they are European and there are lots of European countries in which they can live.

Israel, in so many ways, has become what South Africa was in the worst years of apartheid when denial was the ‘drug’ of the day and ignorance may not have been bliss but it was truly comforting.

But there are Israelis who are prepared to not only seek the truth but to talk about it despite being villified. Dr Pappe is a member of a group called the ‘New Historians,’ which revises and challenges the main Israeli version of 1948 and debunks several of the myths surrounding the foundation of Israel.

One other Israeli who does not do the drug of denial is scholar and author, Uri Davis, who believes that Israel is an apartheid and racist state, but in less visible form than South Africa was.

In South Africa, he says, some 87 percent of the territory was reserved under law for white citizens only. In Israel, some 93 percent of the territory (not including the West Bank and Gaza) is reserved under law for Jewish citizens only. Where the distinction in South Africa was between white and non-white, the apartheid distinction in Israel is between Jew and non-Jew.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he says, is essentially a conflict between a settler-colonial state and an indigenous population dispossessed by the colonial project. Where it differs from South Africa is that visitors to South Africa in the apartheid era would have seen it immediately; benches, toilets, parks and transport divided into white and non-white. In Israel the core apartheid is veiled.

Davis says consistent efforts are also made to ‘remove’ any evidence of non-Jewish inhabitants. The Jewish National Fund, for instance, which appears to be an environmentally friendly organisation concerned with ecology is instrumental in planting forests and establishing recreation facilities.

“Well, it is the case,” says Davis “that JNF forests and facilities are open to all, but it is equally the case that most, almost without exception all, of these forests are planted on the ruins of Palestinian Arab villages ethnically cleansed in the 1948-49 war.

The wall today, he says, represents an attempt by the Government of the State of Israel to cap the expulsion of Palestinians with a Bantustan solution for the rest of the country.

“The question of terrorism and the casualties inflicted by terrorism on an innocent civilian population is a very serious question, but the wall is not there to alleviate this crisis of terrorism – the wall is there in the first instance as an attempt to Bantustanise Palestine and to isolate the indigenous population in what are effectively huge concentrations camps,” said Davis.

The media and political ‘silence’ surrounding the original and ongoing injustice suffered by the Palestinian people is said to be sourced in fear. Fear of being thought anti-Israel, of licensing the expression of anti-Semitism and of legitimizing talk of a Jewish ‘conspiracy’ in terms of the power Israel wields in the United States, the one nation which could, if it chose, bring justice, resolution and peace to this ghastly and potentially internationally catastrophic conflict.

Even if the occupation of Iraq ended tomorrow, if America makes peace with Iran and puts its ‘nukes’ back on the shelf and if Israel builds its apartheid wall all the way around its State, puts a roof on top and concretes the country from one end to the other, the occupation and colonisation of Palestine, if not justly resolved, will remain the one ‘match’ which can ignite the region and make the nuclear nightmare of World War Three a hideous reality.

For that reason, if for no other, this is one fight for justice that involves us all.

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Mike, I always thought

Mike, I always thought 'crafts' were where you pay extra for the fingerprints, smudges, crooked handles and wobbly bases? 

I see in yahoo news Hamas had a little worksafe accident and one of their terrorists blew himself up... in his spare time he used to teach Islamic studies to children in the same building. If only he had taken up beadwork instead of advanced explosive vest decoration as a hobby.

And yes, I can't for the life of me figure out why Canada would be picked on by those terrorists either... they come from such a broad strata of society as the media is at pains to point out - now what in tarnation is the common thread between all of them? The really nasty thing was the hate crime perpetrated against the laminated mosque windows; forget about the 3 tonnes of high grade ammonium nitrate. How could you break the windows of your own house of worship just to try and assume the status of true victim of the whole affair?

A Threshhold Question For Roslyn

I said:

I do not believe that Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia had the legal or moral right, having lost their case on the floor of the General Assembly, to launch an attack on the fledgling state with the intention of obliterating it and eliminating its population.

Roslyn Ross responded:

The Arabs waged war to take back land which rightfully belonged to others. You cannot "invade" if it is your land to begin with, as it was with the Palestinians ...

Come on Roslyn. Was this military attack moral and legal? Your opinion please. No mealy-mouthed semantics about how you can understand how others might think that but you don't necessarily approve or that you are not foisting your "pacifism" on to others, or other such rot. What do you think? Was this legal and moral? Or not? A simple question. Yes or no?

Geoff: Wars differ in

Geoff: Wars differ in terms of their morality or legality. From my perspective they are all not what I would have but the world at large accords different levels of justification for such things.

There is offensive war and there is defensive war. Defensive war is always justifiable in a way that offensive war is not. Therefore, the war the Arabs waged was defensive, just as the Brits waged a defensive war and the Iraqis now wage a defensive war.

Generally we consider invasion and occupation like that of Hitler and now the US and its allies to be immoral and illegal, but we considered the war waged by the French, English and allies to be both moral and legal. One assumes we accord the Iraqis the same right to defend themselves against invasion and occupation.

The general view is that war waged to colonise is both illegal and immoral but that war waged  by the people themselves with the help of allies  to free themselves from occupation or colonisation is both moral and legal ..... certainly justifiable.

The English had a moral and legal right to fight against Hitler. The Iraqis have a moral and legal right to fight the Americans and their allies including us. And the Palestinians had a legal and moral right to fight against partition.

All of these circumstances involved the help of allies. The English had allies, the Palestinians had allies and the Iraqis have allies.

I am presuming that from your position you do not believe people have a right to fight against invasion, occupation and colonisation and therefore did not support the war against the Nazis.

Or do you apply different principles to different circumstances? Yes or No should be easy enough.  

The soft underbelly of pacifism

Leaving aside the tortured grammar of Roslyn Ross' comment:

Wars differ in terms of their morality or legality. From my perspective they are all not what I would have but the world at large accords different levels of justification for such things.

and its logical inconsistency with the rest of her post of  May 29, 2006 - 11:23pm, are we to take it that we have finally argued her around to support (both moral and legal) for the bombing of Dresden?

She may make a pacifist of me yet.

Oh, by the way, it was the Commonwealth not just the English who opposed Nazism after September 1939.

Re: The soft underbelly of pacifism

Malcolm, Nobody says they want war; they just have different moral thresholds for when it's justified (like when it's against the US or Israel). Everyone says they want "peace," they just may want it on different terms. But there are many ways of achieving "peace." If the Arabs had had their way in 1948, 1967, or 1973, there would be "peace" in the Middle East today. Ahmedinijad wants "peace" too. It would be very peaceful indeed if he nuked Tel Aviv. It would also be peaceful in Gaza, Ramallah, Amman... There will be peace in Darfur soon, if the Janjaweed are just allowed a bit more time to impose their version. Hama, Syria, was a very peaceful place too, after February 1982. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot - they all wanted "peace." And they would have had it too, if they'd been allowed to kill all their real and imagined enemies.

So all the "pacifists" are saying is "give peace a chance." But they do tend to give themselves away by talking about "peace," and proclaiming themselves "pacifists," then almost in the same keystroke start coming out with the most hateful vilification.

Easy talk.

Will: Yes. Easy to talk peace while being full of hate it seems.

And easy for us to talk peace when others all around the world are dying at the hands of tyrannical regimes. But let us not intefere in all that. It might mean war and we must not have that. 

After it is all over in Iraq, we will no doubt be even less inclined to deal with the Saddam Husseins of this world.  Future generations may well come to pay a very heavy price for that. A very heavy price indeed.


Re: Easy talk

Jenny Hume notes: "After it is all over in Iraq, we will no doubt be even less inclined to deal with the Saddam Husseins of this world. Future generations may well come to pay a very heavy price for that. A very heavy price indeed."

Interesting you should say that. I was talking with an Israeli friend a few evenings ago, and we were both saying how stupid it was for Bush to go after Saddam by invading Iraq. How the stuff-up in Iraq had squandered military, economic, moral, and political resources needed to deal with far worse problems.

Goes along with my earlier comments (in earlier threads) that Israeli military strategists and intel had for several years ranked Saddam low on the list of threats to Israel and the region in general. They ranked Iran far higher, due to its support for Hezbollah and the weapons potential of its nuclear program. Israeli analysts had long assessed Saddam's nuclear capabilities as zero; they knew he had a few chemical and biological weapons around but their assesment was he had no delivery systems (missiles).

These assessments, easily accessible in the public domain, stand in stark contrast to the charge that Israel pushed the US into war with Iraq.

Principle And Circumstance

I apply the same principles to different circumstances. And I do believe in a just and moral war.

But then again I have never pretended to be a "pacifist".

Facts on the ground?

Roslyn, further to your comment that "The Arabs waged war to take back land which rightfully belonged to others. You cannot 'invade' if it is your land to begin with, as it was with the Palestinians."

So Roslyn, how do you explain these "facts on the ground:" in 1948 the Egyptians took the Gaza Strip and occupied it until June 1967. At the same time the Jordanians took the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Neither of these Arab countries offered these lands, part of the UN-mandated Arab Palestine, to the Palestinians as a state, or autonomous region, etc. Not once in 19 years of occupation. The Jordanians went so far as to annex the WB and E. Jerusalem in 1950. As I have noted previously they denied Jews access to their holy sites, desecrated Jewish synagogues and graves, and expelled all Jews from the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem - a Jewish community dating back to Biblical times.

Why didn't these Arab countries at least hand over the land that "rightfully belonged" to their Palestinian brethren, on whose behalf they were supposedly fighting?

Facts on the ground, Roslyn, facts on the ground.

Indeed, and while you're at it, Roslyn,

Please tell me which of those countries the land "belonged" to. Was it Jordan? Syria? Saudi Arabia?


Roslyn, so you're saying "ah, but there was no proof!" It is a dishonest comparison seeking to make an emotional association with a spot upon which people were killed. It is not tied to the literal meaning of the word. True, if you walk 1.5km from the village you are also standing on land - unless you happen to fall into a river or pond of course. Presumably, if you kept on going and turned around a waved your arms once you were standing outside the gates to Mecca, you would also be standing on land. So your point is?

In the post I am replying to you merely offer the same qualification in regard to Israel's right to existence. In case you are at a loss to understand why people cannot believe you are actually stating you feel Israel has a right to existence, you should examine my previous post here. Anecdotally, I estimate however that for every 1 occurrence of this peculiar form of qualified response, with differing numbers of qualifications, there are at least 3 occurrences of you saying Israel has no right to exist. You could of course clear everything up in future by the adopting the use of a clear, unqualified statement.

Yes I do actually understand the concept of pacifism. I even understand there are several flavours, however it is hard to reconcile any of them with either your words below, or as I have said, these words below with your employment of pacifism in this thread.:

"...If the person then turned and attacked me so be it. I would defend myself as much as I could without resorting to the same level of violence.

In essence a pacifist is someone who chooses passive means of defence or offence. As in, one goes in with reason and not an iron bar. One may also have to use physical strength or the physical strength of others to control someone. As I have had to do with a mentally ill relative.

As a pacifist I do not believe in physical violence (physical restraint is a different thing), nor do I believe in killing someone who threatens me."

Noted. Subjects now closed.


Will:  I can't remember which thread I spotted your question about Darfur but am responding here.

You were asking what could be done about Darfur, as opposed, I gather, to invading and occupying like Iraq?

There are two issues in regard to military intervention; one is that Iraq did not have UN sanction and was illegal so a definite no-no, and the second is that the UN does have the ability to sanction military intervention.

Not that I believe this is really the answer. UN peace-keepers can help to protect people at risk and assist in the distributing of aid so I am not against UN involvement.

The crucial thing in such places is weakening or removing the power base on which the warring parties operate. This comes down to money. In Africa, a place I know fairly well having spent nearly a decade there in three different countries, this money comes from a variety of sources; it comes from the country's natural wealth, from aid organisations, from banks and corporations, from the arms industry and other nations busily looking to further their interests.

All of it drops into a pit of corruption. If you banned all of these groups or their representatives from Darfur you would choke off the money and the arms which fuel such wars.

Given that humanitarian aid of some kind would be needed I would leave this in the hands of the UN with the aid of UN peace-keepers.

In addition, if the UN and the International Court of Justice worked together to make it a crime against humanity for leaders of any nation to steal the wealth of their nation or use the funds from that wealth for war then leaders would think twice about their actions. If in addition it became a crime for leaders to set up offshore funds (the president of Angola, Dos Santos, has all his stolen billions in Brazil for instance) and if those leaders, once indicted, knew that international banks would have a legal obligation to reveal such accounts and all funds and to freeze them, the monies then being restored to the people of the nation ..... the sort of corruption that one sees in  Africa would be limited.

I think banks, corporations, governments and individuals should also be held legally accountable for any involvement in corruption in such countries. Anyone found guilty of bribery, and I have to say, that is pretty much everyone, but that is why Africa is the mess it is, should be liable to legal action.

In simple terms wars cost money. If you cut off the source of money you limit the capacity for war. In order to cut off the money you have to take action against those who provide it, the international community in the main, and action against those who steal it .... the leaders.

It should be a crime against humanity for a nation to purchase arms when its people are starving or living in dire poverty. It should be a crime to sell arms to such nations.

Angola's war for instance lasted some 25 years because both sides illegally used the country's diamond wealth ..... the Government also used the nation's oil wealth. There would be no wealth without buyers. In addition the US and various international governments supported each side at various times.... the US actually changed sides from Jonas Savimbi to Dos Santos....without that money and those arms, there could have been no war. Certainly not on the scale it happened nor for the length of time.

So, instead of killing more Darfurians by invading and occupying I would cut off the tentacles of the beast of greed which creates and fuels such wars.... the international community, the arms dealers, the Darfurian leaders and the corporations busily making money out of starving and dying Africans.

Not that it is likely to happen but you asked me what I would do.

Re: Darfur

Roslyn says "So, instead of killing more Darfurians by invading and occupying I would cut off the tentacles of the beast of greed which creates and fuels such wars."

I completely agree with your point about corruption. World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz agrees with you as well.

But people are dying in Darfur. Now. Women are being raped, then mutilated, then killed. Children too. Sure we could and should cut off money to the Sudanese regime. But this is low-tech genocide. Janjaweed on horseback with rifles and machetes. Lockheed and Grumman aren't making any money from this one.

So we cut off their allowance: how many more would be killed before the money runs out?

These people are screaming for help. Just like the East Timorese were. What are we going to do, Roslyn, to stop the killers? Why doesn't the UN send in peacekeepers as in East Timor?

You say, Roslyn, "There are two issues in regard to military intervention; one is that Iraq did not have UN sanction and was illegal so a definite no-no, and the second is that the UN does have the ability to sanction military intervention."

Wait, let's see what you're saying. 1) "Iraq did not have UN sanction and was illegal so a definite no-no," and 2) "the UN does have the ability to sanction military intervention."

But wait, didn't you already say the UN had no right to partition Palestine? What, in your view does the UN have the right to actually do?

Will you asked

Will, you asked me what I thought and I told you.

UN peacekeepers could help in the immediate but the real way of helping, is, as I said, to cut off the tentacles.

This 'low-tech' genocide as you point out is still murderous. Two stories I saw today show that the Darfurians believe weapons are coming from Sudan and the Brits and the Israelis, to name just two, are selling those weapons to the Sudanese.

Make it illegal for arms dealers to do that and you start to strangle such wars. Make it illegal to sell second-hand weapons and replacement parts and you end such wars.

Make arms dealers, wherever they are, know that they will be liable to charges of crimes against humanity , where all of their wealth will be seized as compensation to the people who have suffered through their arms deals, and you will give people like the Darfurians some hope of peace.

When people ask for help it is one thing.... the Iraqis did not ask for this 'help.' I haven't heard the Darfurians ask for invasion and occupation although I am sure they would welcome peace-keepers.

You said:  Why doesn't the UN send in peacekeepers as in East Timor?

You asked me what I thought should happen. Go ask the UN why they do not.

Will, for heavens sake. We have gone over this ground time and again. For me this is the last time. It is a waste of time and is probably meant to be.

I said: " and 2) "the UN does have the ability to sanction military intervention."

And I said, the UN had no right to partition Palestine?

There is an ability and there is a right. The UN can sanction military intervention but that ability does not constitute a right, if it can be demonstrated that the sanction to act is neither moral nor legal.

As is the case in Palestine and as would have been the case if the UN had supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

I also said that the UN as it is constructed is a quasi World Government but any power it has is dependent upon the co-operation of its members. It has more moral authority than anything else but even that moral authority is toothless without the co-operation of the members.

You said: What, in your view does the UN have the right to actually do?

It has the right to establish standards of behaviour and work to ensure that those standards of enlightened and civilized behaviour are enforced. That's about all at this point. It has a right to try to improve the quality of life for humanity.

If the UN were reconstructed and made truly functional one would hope to see it have some authority in terms of peace-making. For the moment peace-keepers are minders and often, as history shows, lacking in effictiveness.

I see you did not answer my question in regard to the legality which you clearly attribute to the UN in terms of the partition .... how come, if it has such legal authority Israel has ignored countless resolutions demanding that it end the occupation and halt the colonisation.

Which bits of the UN do you see as being legal enough to apply and illegal enough to ignore?

Legality of the UN

Roslyn, my apologies, I guess I missed that question. You said "I see you did not answer my question in regard to the legality which you clearly attribute to the UN in terms of the partition .... how come, if it has such legal authority Israel has ignored countless resolutions demanding that it end the occupation and halt the colonisation."

"Which bits of the UN do you see as being legal enough to apply and illegal enough to ignore?"

First of all, let me ask you again - exactly which resolutions do you mean? The texts of all UNGA and UNSC resolutions are available on the UN's websites if this would help you. Get back to me on that one.

Meanwhile: When I cited UNGAR 181 for the partition of Palestine, Jacob Stam pointed out that it was not a binding resolution, and that only Security Council have binding force. Jacob is technically correct. However, if you take Jacob's argument, then you have to look at the binding (Security Council) resolutions. Those passed that relate to Israel do not only place demands upon Israel, but also upon the Palestinians and other countries in the region. With respect to these Security Council Resolutions Israel has partly complied, and so have the Palestinians and other Arab countries. For example, Israel and Egypt have complied with UNSCR 242/338: Israel by withdrawing from Sinai and Egypt by recognising Israel. Similarly, Israel has complied with UNSCR 425 in withdrawing from Lebanon (this compliance was certified by UN Sec'y General Annan).

The UNSCR currently in force is 1515, endorsing the "Road Map." This places requirements upon both the Israelis and Palestinians. Both sides have complied with the Road Map in some ways and failed to do so in others. So your assertion that Israel has ignored "countless" resolutions is both untrue and an incomplete picture of the situation.

Look, everybody in the world ignores the UN when it suits them, and dons its mantle when it suits them. Israelis, Arabs, the USA, Australia - everybody. Plenty of hypocrisy to go around, so I would not hold Israel up as some kind of international angel. But nowhere near the way you make it out to be.

The problem, Roslyn, is that

The problem, Roslyn, is that you say many things - and that is why we are still running round in circles.

We have proved the dishonest comparison of Deir Yassan with a spot 1.5kms away through dodgy wordplay.

We have also established that your disingenuous spouting of Israel's right to exist is also wordplay ... a 'civilised' front from which to mount a dirtier attack and that you do deny its existence.

Your response on another thread about how pacifism for you involves fighting back, but just not quite as hard as they are fighting you, has thrown a great deal doubt on whether your use of it here was a hypocritical ploy.

That's three down. But gradually, we're starting to work through everything and I don't mind challenging you on everything that I can find. The funny thing is - you can put this one down to human foible - at the outset I was quite prepared to merely voice my own disgust at someone presenting such a biased, one sided view as fact. But as it drags out, I find the idea of picking further anomalies actually quite attractive.

What the toss has Taiwan or Tibet got to do with anything? I wish to talk about your article, on its merits. No more, no less. I have already said I will not legitimise it by proceeding to 'discussion points' from any point within it... and that if you wish to take up any talking points, you should proceed to Will Howard's article where the question has more chance of being treated with some fairness.

I am not trying to argue that the Palestinians do not exist - though the Arabs seem to have maintained that fairly consistently. I am merely reminding you of that. They are your people and you are arguing for them.

If you can draw racism from Golda Meir's words in comparison with Yassir Arafat exhorting Palestinian children to die in front of tanks for the media and advertising purposes, you go for it. But I thought you said the Arabs couldn't be Antisemitic, because they were Semites as well as the Jews. You really must stick to arguing your own points, not mine.

The problem

Pat:   The problem is you say many things without substantiating them. There was no proof of anything dishonest in my reference to Deir Yassan ..... I asked for proof that Yad Vashem was not built on Deir Yassan land and could not be considered to have been built on Deir Yassan land and none was provided. By the way, 1.5kms from a village constitues land. But this subject is also closed.

You said: We have also established that your disingenuous spouting of Israel's right to exist is also wordplay ... a 'civilised' front from which to mount a dirtier attack and that you do deny its existence.

I mean really. Are we really talking about the same thread? Are we on the same planet. If you can reach this conclusion from me stating time and time again that I accept the existence of Israel on original borders then really, we are not in the same galaxy and continued debate is pointless.

And you clearly do not understand pacifism. Pacifism is not about not fighting back it is about fighting back using non-violent means. Again, this has been said repeatedly. Subject now closed.

I am glad you are enjoying yourself picking out what you call anomalies but I really feel that this has reached such a point of repetition on my part that I shall have to let you have fun on your own.

Taiwan and Tibet are relevant in terms of principles. Tibet is another occupied and colonised people and Taiwan is likely to be invaded and occupied as Iraq was on the same premise used by the Americans and their allies. Principles and precedents are the foundation of our world. We set them  wrongly at our peril because they are what ultimately can protect us.

You said: They are your people and you are arguing for them.

As a citizen of the world then yes, all people are my people and I defend all those who suffer injustice.

I wish you peace just as I wish the Palestinians and Israelis peace.

Picking the cherries

Geoff: Israel picks the cherries in regard to the UN and ignores the UN resolutions it does not like. This suggests clearly that Israel does not consider the UN to have any real power or legality or it could not do this. Israel cites the UN involvement in its foundation because it suits it to do so but ignores anything which does not further its end of occupation and colonization.

In essence the United Nations represents a quasi-world government, which is imbued with moral authority but has no actual legal authority. It is also limited by the nature of its structure in terms of reaching just conclusions and it has limited capacity to enforce its resolutions.

Its power is reliant upon the co-operation of its members.

The United Nations can sanction military intervention which constitutes a legality in international law but the intervention itself and the method of intervention would still be accountable to be challenged under national and international law. In other words, just because the United Nations sanctions military intervention it does not mean it is in the right, legally or morally. Like all governments and organizations its word is not just law but must be defendable in law and justifiable in both legal and moral terms.

But, given that you believe the UN represents absolute legality could you read the following excerpt and explain to me why and how Israel ignores resolutions. Surely, if you are correct, it breaks both legal and moral law in the doing?


The early U.N. resolutions call for Israel to repatriate or compensate the original 750,000 refugees of 1948-9 and to renounce Jerusalem as its capital and regard it as a corpus separatum, an international city dominated by neither Arab nor Israeli. (The U. S. position on Jerusalem is slightly different and, not surprisingly, closer to Israel's. It says Jerusalem should not be a divided city and its final status should be decided by the parties.) Finally, the original U.N. partition of Palestine awarded Israel an area only about three-quarters of its current official size. Israel's increase was gained at the expense of the Palestinians in the earlier conquests of 1948.

Other unreconciled issues from this earlier period include such sticky situations as a demilitarized zone that Israel had shared with Syria near the Sea of Galilee. Israel forcefully and unlawfully occupied this zone in the 1950s and 1960s, in defiance of its 1949 armistice with Syria. This deception predates Syria's complaints about Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights in 1967. The zone is now integrated into Israel's economy and infrastructure. But Syria retains a legitimate claim to it as disputed territory to be decided only after negotiations.

Aside from the core issues—refugees, Jerusalem, borders—the major themes reflected in the U.N. resolutions against Israel over the years are its unlawful attacks on its neighbors; its violations of the human rights of the Palestinians, including deportations, demolitions of homes and other collective punishments; its confiscation of Palestinian land; its establishment of illegal settlements; and its refusal to abide by the U.N. Charter and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

Clearly if the UN had any real authority Israel would have had no choice but to abide by all resolutions, as you suggest the Palestinians should have done regarding the partition of their country. If Israel does not have to abide by UN directives then why should the Palestinians?

Who says they aren't serious about peace?

I was wrong that the Palestinians were much more careful letting on about their real goals... what I should have said was they only talk about it amongst themselves. And you should have explained in the article that the Arab's right to Palestine is a simple god given one - like their right to Spain. It would have been much easier to understand than the wobbly version you presented. More media quotes: 

Ibrahim Mudayris, Head of the Association for Memorizing the Quran, PA Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs - We have not given up on Haifa, Jaffa, Lod and Tel Aviv

"We might return to the 1967 borders by diplomacy, but we won't return to the 1948 borders by diplomacy. The 1948 borders - no one on earth recognizes as ours. Therefore, we shall return to the 1967 borders, but we have not given up on Jerusalem and Haifa, Jaffa, Lod, Ramle, Netanya and Tel Aviv. Never...!

"[Your fathers' blood] shall curse anyone who will concede a grain of earth of those villages. The land of Palestine will demand that the Palestinians return as Muhammad returned - as conquerors."
[Ibrahim Mudayris, PA TV, February 4, 2005]

Faisal Husseini, Palestinian Authority Representative for Jerusalem Affairs - Oslo accords are a Trojan Horse

"Had the US and Israel realized, before Oslo, that all that was left of the Palestinian National movement and the Pan-Arab movement was a wooden horse called Arafat or the PLO, they would never have opened their fortified gates and let it inside their walls...

"This effort [the Intifada] could have been much better, broader, and more significant had we made it clearer to ourselves that the Oslo agreement, or any other agreement, is just a temporary procedure, or just a step towards something bigger... We distinguish the strategic, long-term goals from the political phased goals, which we are compelled to temporarily accept due to international pressure... [Palestine], according to the higher strategy [is] 'from the river to the sea.' Palestine in its entirety is an Arab land, the land of the Arab nation."
[Al-Arabia (Egypt), June 24, 2001]

Abd Al-Aziz Shahian, then-Palestinian Authority Minister of Supplies - Oslo is just the first step in the destruction of Israel

"The Palestinian people accepted the Oslo agreements as a first step and not as a permanent settlement, based on the premise that the war and struggle in the land is more efficient than a struggle from a distant land [i.e. Tunisia, where the PLO was based before Oslo - Ed.]... The Palestinian people will continue the revolution until they achieve the goals of the '65 revolution..."
[PA Minister of Supplies Abd Al-Aziz Shahian, Al-Ayyam, May 30, 2000]

[The "'65 Revolution" is the founding of the PLO and the publication of the Palestinian charter that calls for the destruction of Israel via an armed struggle.]

Othman Abu Arbiah, Arafat's Deputy - The Palestinian state is just the first stage

"... At this stage we'll prevail in our struggle [toward] the goals of the Stages [Plan]. The goal of this stage is the establishment of the independent Palestinian State, with its capital in Jerusalem. When we achieve this, it will be a positive [step] and it will advance us to the next stage via other ways and means...

"Every Palestinian must know clearly and unequivocally that the independent Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as its capital, is not the end of the road. The [rise of] the Palestinian State is a stage, after which there will be another stage and that is the democratic state in all of Palestine [i.e. in place of Israel]."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, November 25, 1999]

[Othman Abu Arbiah is Arafat's aide for Political Guidance and national affairs, and the Director-General for National Affairs, a senior position in the Palestinian national educational structure]

Sheikh Yousuf Abu Sneina, Imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque - All of Israel is Palestine forever

"The Islamic land of Palestine is one and cannot be divided.

"There is no difference between Haifa and Nablus, between Lod and Ramallah, between Jerusalem and Nazareth, between Gaza and Ashkelon.

"The land of Palestine is Waqf land that belongs to Muslims throughout the world and no one has the right to act freely or the right to make concessions or to abandon her. Whoever does this betrays a [trust] and is nothing more than a loathsome criminal whose abode is in Hell."
[Sheikh Yousuf Abu Sneina, PA TV, September 8, 2000]

Abdullah Al-Hourani, Chairman of the Palestinian National Council Political Committee - "The conflict remains eternal" - all of Israel is Palestine

Interviewer: "How do [you] read the future of the peace process...?"

Al-Hourani: "Whether they return to negotiations or not, and whether they fulfill the agreements or not - the political plan is a temporary agreement, and the conflict remains eternal, will not be locked, and the agreements being talked about are regarding the current balance of power. As to the struggle, it will continue. It may pause at times, but in the final analysis, Palestine is ours from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 14, 2000]

Ahmad Nasser, Secretary of Palestinian Legislative Council, PA TV, February 6, 2004 - Israel is a satanic state that cannot exist like normal states

"Israel was established on the basis of theft. The State of Israel is Satan's offspring - a satanic offspring. It was founded on theft from the first moment. It was founded on the basis of robbery, terror, killing, torture, assassination, death, stealing land and killing people and will continue this way, never able to exist because its birth was unnatural, a satanic offspring, and cannot exist among human beings...

"It cannot exist naturally, like other nations in this world...

"This state is based on racism, Biblical concepts, death, killing and destruction...

"Israel is an aggressive country, a racist country, an ideologically hostile country, which hates all the 'Goyim,' all the foreigners. Israel is a satanic offspring."
[Ahmad Nasser, PA TV, February 6, 2004]

Imad Al-Falugi, Palestinian Authority Minister of Communication:- The "Occupation State" will cease to exist

"Our people have hope for the future, that the Occupation State ceases to exist, and that it makes no difference [how great] its power and arrogance..."
[Imad Al-Falugi, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, November 18, 1999]

Salim Alo'adia, Abu Salam, Supervisor of Political Affairs - The goal has not changed - "the liberation of Palestine"

"When we picked up the gun in '65 and the modern Palestinian Revolution began, it had a goal. This goal has not changed and it is the liberation of Palestine."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, January 20, 2000]

Sheikh Ikrime Sabri, Palestinian Authority-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem & Palestine - We have not forgotten about Jaffa or about Acre

"We are discussing the current problems and when we speak about Jerusalem, it doesn't mean that we have forgotten about Hebron or about Jaffa or about Acre. We are speaking about the current problems that have priority at a certain time. It doesn't mean that we have given up... We have announced a number of times that from a religious point of view, Palestine from the sea to the river is Islamic."
[PA TV, January 11, 2001.]

Note: Jaffa and Acre are Israeli cities. The “sea to the river” is all of Israel.]

Dr. Ahmed Yousuf Abu Halabiya, Member of the Palestinian Sharianic (Islamic religious law) Rulings Council, and Rector of Advanced Studies, Islamic University - All the agreements are temporary

"We, the nation of Palestine, our fate from Allah is to be the vanguard in the war against the Jews until the resurrection of the dead, as the Prophet Muhammad said, 'The resurrection of the dead will not come until you do battle with the Jews and kill them.' We the Palestinians, are the vanguard in this issue, in this battle, whether we want to or whether we refuse. All the agreements being made are temporary..."
[Dr. Ahmed Yousuf Abu Halabiya, PA TV, July 28, 2000]

Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim Ma'di, a Palestinian Authority religious leader - We will enter Jaffa, Ramle and Lod and all of Palestine, as conquerors

"We are positive that Allah will help us triumph. Our belief is firm that one day we will enter Jerusalem as conquerors, enter Jaffa as conquerors, Ramle and Lod ... and all of Palestine, as conquerors...

[Jaffa, Ramle, and Lod are Israeli cities - Ed.]

"If He [Allah] asks them [Arab leaders], on Judgment Day, 'the majority of Palestine was lost in '48 and what did you do? And the remainder was lost in '67, and now it is being vanquished again.' How shall we respond to our Lord...?

"Palestine shall be the burial grounds of the invaders just as it was for the Tartars, and the Crusaders and for modern colonialism... The Tradition relates to us that Allah's cherished one [Muhammad] said, 'The Jews will battle against you but you shall emerge masters over them.'"
[Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim Ma'di, PA TV, April 12, 2002]

Dr. Ibrahim Mudayris - Only interested in destroying Israel

"[Sharon said] 'No to the return to the '67 borders.' I will not add my voice to Sharon's voice, but raise it above his voice and tell him: No to the return to the '67 borders. We are interested in returning to our genuine borders. We want to return to the 1948 [pre-Israel] borders... We want to return to these borders, and we will yet return to them, by Allah, even if it will take time. We are interested in returning to the 1936 borders, to the revolution... and we are interested in returning to 1929 borders... [a time when] a group of our grandfather and fathers became shahids for Allah in the Al-Buraq Revolution, as they were defending the Al-Aqsa mosque from the Hagana gangs, Allah curse them and curse those who supported them. We want to return to 1919 borders... [We have a claim] which we can't forget and will never forgive forever... [against] Britain and all governments who assisted that state [Israel] to be established on this land, which is a false state on a true land..."
[Dr. Ibrahim Mudayris, PA TV, December 31, 2004]

Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim Ma'di - "We will blow them up in Hadera, we will blow them up in Tel-Aviv"

"We will blow them up in Hadera, we will blow them up in Tel-Aviv and in Netanya... We will fight against them and rule over them until the Jew will hide behind the trees and stones and the tree and stone will say: 'O Muslim! O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him...

"We will enter Jerusalem as conquerors, and Jaffa as conquerors, and Haifa as conquerors and Ashkelon as conquerors..."
[Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim Ma'di, PA TV, August 3, 2001]

Dr. Ahmed Yousuf Abu Halabiya - "We will not forget Haifa, Acre, Jaffa, the Galilee Triangle, and the Negev"

"Even if agreements were signed [regarding] Gaza and the West Bank, we will not forget Haifa, Acre, Jaffa, the Galilee Triangle, and the Negev. It is only a question of time..."
[Dr. Ahmed Yousuf Abu Halabiya, PA TV, October 13, 2000]

[All the places mentioned are Israeli cities or regions - Ed.]

Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim Ma'di - "Palestine shall return to its former days ... Israel shall pass"

"Who is responsible for the loss of Palestine, the good land that the passages of the dear Koran bless many times, and [for] deceitfully labeling it Israel? Who is responsible for the loss of Jerusalem...? The Prophet [Muhammad] soothes us with many Hadiths that Palestine shall return to its former days... We must prepare a foothold, for the coming army of Allah, by divine predetermination. May it be Allah's will, this oppressive state shall pass, Israel shall pass..."
[Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim Ma'di, PA TV, June 8, 2001]

Source: Denying Israel's right to exist; Palestinian Media Watch, http://www.pmw.org.il/Denying%20Israel%27s%20right%20to%20exist.htm

Pat: You have been busy

Pat: You have been busy avoiding the point.

But, back to the here and now. What needs to be done to end the occupation, end the colonisation programme and make redress to the Palestinians for their original dispossession and the dispossession and suffering caused by colonisation since 1967?

Or do you believe they have no rights? If so why so? Do you also support the dispossession of the Tibetans? Did you oppose East Timor becoming independent? Do you believe the Chinese should take back Taiwan?

Or is Israel the only nation which should be allowed to occupy and colonise at will?

The very basic facts are: The Palestinian occupation and colonisation must end. Or do you believe occupation is okay? Is it fine then for America to decide to maintain the occupation and colonise Iraq? If not, why not?

How do you think it could or should end? Do you favour two states or one unified State?

Do you believe people should be compensated for dispossession? If not, why not? I take it if the answer is no you don't believe in Aboriginal land rights either.

Nor do you believe the Jews should have been compensated for their suffering and dispossession at the hands of the Nazis. Or do you?

Just what principles are at work in your position?

I know, so many questions, so little time. Not that you will answer them. If you do not, end of subject really?


Actually, Roslyn, all I was doing was demonstrating you didn't really accept it, and that you were misrepresenting yourself. Perhaps what you're trying to say might better be phrased as 'Roslyn Ross doesn't believe the Jews have a right to their state and as a consequence have no right to defence either'... now I haven't looked up a list of countries that do recognise Israel, or done a snap poll of world citizens, but if you believe that more people support your position, all power to you.

Of course, I'm also entitled to believe you're sorely deluded, just as the Arabs are. And that is the reason there has been so much death & suffering - because they have insisted and are insisting on their right to inflict death & suffering on another people & to bear it themselves in a sick war of attrition. Remember, 'Palestine' did not belong only to the Arabs. They have no right to the whole area.

I guess also since there were many Jews living in the British Mandate of Palestine, the ones that were Jewish freedom fighters will be pleased to know that you're absolving them, & approving of their right to throw out the invader's brutal occupation & found their own state. In a funny roundabout sort of way, it shows you really do care for the Jews. Without wishing to descend to the same level & seek to override rationality with emotion I will leave you with a couple of quotes, one from Golda Meir, the other from Yassir Arafat:

'Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us'  - Golda Meir

Interviewer: Mr. President, what message would you like to send to the Palestinian people in general, and, particularly, to the Palestinian children?

Arafat: The child who is grasping the stone facing the tank - is it not the greatest message to the world when the hero becomes a shahid? [PA TV, January 15, 2002]

As you know, a shahid, or a martyr, is someone who dies for Allah. What do you think of these quotes in the light of another PLO executive explaining their position to the Dutch newspaper Trouw:

"The Palestinian people do not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism.

For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa. While as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan." 
(PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, March 31, 1977, interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw.)

I don't know whether you have children but I'm half-hoping you don't if you believe that these types of methods are noble and justified. There are a lot more Palestinian videos aimed at children here: http://www.pmw.org.il/tv%20part1.html

Thanks for asking me to look up some Israeli sites, or I wouldn't have found this. It's called Palestinian Media Watch & it documents actual Palestinian media... that's much more effective than making your own propaganda up wouldn't you say?
If you wish to debate solutions, the place to do it is on a more balanced piece like Will Howard's thread.

Pat:  You are very good

Pat: You are very good at misquoting, or is that bad? I did not say most people believed Jews did not have a right to their State, in fact, if you had read or comprehended, more than once I said I supported the right of Israel to exist on original borders. That's what the countries you cite also recognise. That's why the rest is called the Occupied Territories and the settlements therein are illegal.

No-one said Palestine belonged to the Arabs, what they say and I support is Palestine belonged to the Palestinians. It was taken from them through the establishment of the State of Israel and then further, by the colonisation programme of Israel.

You have done this to death by wilfully ignoring, denying or misinterpreting so I consider the subject closed on your ignorance and denial.

As to Golda Meir's quote, her statement is insulting at best and racist at worst. Arabs love their children as much as anyone. One could argue that if the Jewish settlers loved their children more and hated Arabs less they would not force them to live as illegal settlers without a certain future and in danger at times. They would also not teach their children to hate those whom they have dispossessed and they would not lie to their children about the humanity of others.

Golda Meir said some truly appalling things in her time and I am not surprised at your position if you hold her as some sort of standard.

Trying to argue that the Palestinians do not exist is pointless. Been there done that. They do or there would be no conflict. They may have a greater sense of nationhood thanks to Israeli aggression and abuse but that's life. The facts on the ground are that they very much exist. Why don't you deal with that instead of playing word games?

By the way, instead of word games, what do you think, as a matter of principle, as to whether the Kurds should have their homeland established? And is it worth the price in blood which it will extract?

If you do not answer I shall presume the answer is no but you cannot reply because that negates your case for Israel.

Then again, you and some others never answer questions. You just keep chewing away at the unimportant stuff, trying to distract from the real issues:

The appalling plight of Palestinians today and the lack of redress for their dispossession because of Israel's founding. But that's okay, what you ignore clearly demonstrates that for which you have no argument. Case settled.

I am glad you appreciated the links. Information is important. The more the better.

word games

Roslyn says "Trying to argue that the Palestinians do not exist is pointless. Been there done that. They do or there would be no conflict." The conflict is between Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Israelis. But most people use this term today to refer to those Arabs living in the small part of historic Palestine that is disputed territory. The larger (70%) part of historic Palestine is called Jordan today, an Arab state. You could just as easily refer to Jordanians as Palestinians, or Israelis for that matter.

Facts on the ground

Mike:   Would you like to post links to where the Israelis refer to themselves as Palestinian Israelis? Probably not.

Can you also post links showing the Palestinians referring to themselves as Palestinian Arabs? Probably not either.

Most people use the term to refer to people living in the land called Palestine which was partitioned in 48. Whatever borders it may have had at other times is beyond the point. Or do you refer to the Americans living in Texas and southern California as Mexican Americans? Probably not.

This issue is about the people called Palestinians who are held under occupation by the people called Israeli who not only created their original State on Palestinian land but who have been busily colonising yet more of it for half a century.

They are the facts on the ground and the only relevant facts. Would you like to discuss the facts on the ground? Probably not.

etymology of "Palestinian"

From Wikipedia: "Some authorities consider all residents of Palestine to be "Palestinians", while others consider the term to apply only to Palestinian Arabs (see Definitions of Palestine and Palestinians). Under the British mandate period from 1918 to 1948, the term "Palestinian" referred to anyone native to Palestine, whatever their religion; Muslim, Christian, Jew, or Druze. [1] Since the creation of Israel, the application of "Palestinian" to native Palestinian Jews has lessened, and they are now simply identified as "Israelis." "

So yes, the term "Palestinian" has indeed been applied to Israeli Jews in the past, and as inhabitants of "Palestine" the term "Palestinian" logically applies to Israelis just as much as to Arabs living in the region, including Jordanians (70% of historic Palestine). Today the term is most commonly used to mean those Arabs living in the disputed territories. But there is really no such thing as a distinct "Palestinian" culture or ethnicity, and the term certainly has never referred to any  nation. These are the facts, Roslyn.

Mike, those crafty Palestinians

Mike, those crafty Palestinians..... there they are, they don't really exist, they have no culture and no history and dammit, they put together exhibitions of art and culture which they take around the world.

They're sure pulling the wool over all those gallery and museum officials aren't they?

Give it up. Even the Israelis are beginning to realise that the mantra 'there are no Palestinians' makes them look foolish.

Palestinian refers to the people who lived in Palestine, funnily enough, when the State of Israel was imposed upon it. All derives from that fact.

Nation means people who occupy a given territory; people who share a common history, culture, origin and frequently language.

There was an Indian nation when the English settled; an Aboriginal nation when the English settled and a Palestinian nation when the Israeli colonisation took place. You can be a nation even when you are not a State.

None of this has anything to do with the here and now. End of subject. The core issue is the here and now and a Palestinian nation still exists and those people want a State. As is their right. 

There was never any "Palestinian nation," Roslyn.

You know that. And this is NOT "end of subject" however much you may want it to be. Again, there are Arabs who want yet another Arab state in the region. Fine. Call them "Palestinians" if you wish. But as the PLO spokesman quoted previously admitted, there is no culturally, ethnically, or unique group of Arabs known as "Palestinians." They are simply those Arabs who now live in the disputed territories. Those are the facts.

erasing history

So Mike, do you stand by everything the PLO commanders have stated, what if some contradict what this one said? Or academics, or US Congressional library or CIA data base for the internet to access? Pick and chose our data sources gives very variant reality. Perhaps you are confusing the pan Arab nationalism movement that overlapped with the Palestinian struggle. I've seen many times here people confusing Jews with Israelis and the two are not interchangeable of course but some may sepak as if they are.

You Mike may live in Israel or Brooklyn and that may well  ake you Israeli or US, especially if you were fifth generation there. Or African or Kurdish or Australian or East Timorese or West Papuan depending upon where one lives, etc. A person is usually defined and happy to be so, by the region from which they come from, live or have strong ancestory connection. Is that so hard to understand? There was a beautiful Palestinian craft work display with very old pieces that came to Sydney not so long ago. The spin tactic of trying to destroy a history of a people is a form of genocide the Germans tried.

If one uses the same definition as you then Israeli is a very dodgy ethnic determination. I do not believe that as that is part of the miracle, the culture created in such a short time to unite a people. We should be generous with how we each wish to be known or identified. Some talk of no divisions in the family of mankind, a bit like Naomi Wolf's arguments. It helps us to be more undestanding of other's suffering when we acknowledge our common points rather than try to erase each other's histories.

PS Angela -

I certainly do NOT dispute your contention that some Arabs living in the disputed territories have made some wonderful crafts. Especially given that they enjoy a better standard of living than any other part of the Arab world, as I posted on another thread.

Hi Mike,why Brisbane?

Hi Mike, do you include Dubai/UAE, Saudi Arabia as Arab, surely yes, but wouldn't their standard of living be higher? I read somewhere about how well off generally Iraqis were prior to Gulf War number one. I also read recently that the unemployment was very high now in the West Bank etc,a nd that the UN is calling for desperate funds, and there is an issue about food . Would you rather live there or in Tel Aviv? I would rather a nice coastal spot rather than a walled hell hole and my land gone. Sorry Mike, it just doesn't sound nice for them, but you can write what you wish.

As for Why Canada - why.... Blame Canada! It's brought to you by "Team America" team of course! Says it all. Even the AlienWorshippers hate them now. Of course as I thougth I said, but it is early, best to wait for full investigation and trial etc, but in the same vein....... Why Brisbane?

Infidelity in Brisbane

I'll bet there's a lot of "infidelity" in Brisbane....

Hey Angela,

I'm not trying to destroy anyone, just stating the facts. I've posted plenty on this already but heck, I acknowledged that today (not historically) the term "Palestinian" is most commonly used to refer not to Israeli Jews, not to Jordanians, but to those Arabs who now happen to live in the disputed territories. Happy?

You're always game, Angela, which is great. So please answer me this: What did Canada do?

Re: etymology of "Palestinian"

Mike, as the Wikipedia piece you linked to notes, "Palestine" was applied by the Romans in the 2nd Century C.E. as a way of insulting the Jews they'd just expelled from Judea. Calling someone a "Philistine" in those days was considered an insult, so the Romans renamed Judea "Syria Palaestina" as a way of rubbing it in. I leave it to the reader to ponder the historical ironies.

The McDonald's of reference

Will:  While Wikpedia is not bad for what it is, it is in essence the McDonald's of the research and reference world.

The argument that Palestine came from the Romans may be true but it is mostly used as justification that a land called Israel existed before it.

There is a greater chance that Palestine is derived from the God Pales, an ancient God, picked up by the Romans, as the Romans were wont to do with Gods and as peoples did in those times.

Palestine may also be a derivation of Philistine, or it may not. The fact is no-one knows. You can put a case that Israel as a name used in the region pre-dated Palestine but then a case can also be put that it didn't. Two sides to everything and really, what on earth does it matter?

If there is any relevance to Palestine as a name, possibly being younger than Israel as a name for this area, which I don't think there is, then surely you have to accept that the true name for the region is neither, but is Canaan since that is the earliest recorded name. The Egyptians talk about Canaan but then they also refer to Palestia dammit. Just more confusion. And Egyptian civilization is much older than Jewish and, given the results of recent hieroglyphic translations, shows the origin of the Jewish and Christian holy books.

So there you go, the Jews are probably really Egyptians. There's an excellent book written by a couple of researchers on that very topic. I shall find a link for you if you like. Or would that mean the Jews have to lay claim to a part of Egypt?

If the Israelis and Palestinians do end up with a State perhaps the new name should be Canaan, in honour of those peoples slaughtered by the Hebrews so that they could create the kingdom of Israel. It wasn't a State, it was a kingdom and from the archeological view, a fairly primitive one at that. Nothing at all on the scale of others like the Egyptian.

So, does that sound fair? If it matters that Israel as a name might have existed before Palestine as a name then we all agree the correct and legitimate name is Canaan? And, given the marvels of DNA testing, should we test everyone in the Middle East and allow those who show links to the Canaanites, regardless of religion, to take back their homeland?

Yet you still appear

Roslyn, in the same way the Palestinians consider Israeli settlements to be an obstacle to discussing peace and negotiating the return of their territory, I consider your ongoing denial of root cause and Israel's right to existence to be an obstacle to discussing settlements in the West bank and Gaza.

I would like to quote excerpts from your last post directed at me. Your words:

·        "the United Nations had no right to sanction the partition of Palestine, either legally or morally..."

·        "Israel might have had an official birth but that did not make it either legal or just..."

·        "The Arabs waged war to take back land which rightfully belonged to others. You cannot 'invade' if it is your land to begin with..."

·        "I never deleted the existence of Israel. You misrepresent and misquote"

·        "I maintain Israel's right to exist as a historically recent colonising nation on original borders and with address and redress made to those who were wronged and dispossessed in its foundation."

(Structure: IF [original borders] AND [redress] THEN [right to exist] ...not original borders, not redress... therefore no right to exist. 1948: no redress... therefore no right to exist. Neat.)

·        "Even if we were to accept your premise that Israel's founding is not in question, ..."

(Qualification: conditional tense. Irreal situation. Founding is in question. Continued existence is based on foundation.)

·        "The lie is you saying I said Israel had no right to exist."

·        "...this conflict would not exist if Israel had not been founded."

(Qualification: unstated premise, point #3 above. Arabs entitled to invade; Israel has no claim to own territory)

Further, you have already claimed occupation began in 1948. If Israel was occupying its partition, you are still denying its existence. (Again see point #3 above.)

Few could argue that propagation of ideology through propaganda is not a necessary and recognised tool of war today; by helping to disseminate a warring organisation's propaganda, one is effectively fighting for their cause.

As long as you disseminate this Arab lie under varying guises, seeking to portray all evil as being an Israel that has no right to existence, and disingenuously trying to whitewash every act of war and hate against her as therefore justifiable, perhaps even legal, - then I cannot recognise any appeal you make on the basis of that. I will not even tacitly acknowledge this falsehood by proceeding to 'discussion points' from any platform within it.

Propaganda as weapon

Pat Moshea notes: "Few could argue that propagation of ideology through propaganda is not a necessary and recognised tool of war today; by helping to disseminate a warring organisation's propaganda, one is effectively fighting for their cause.

As long as you disseminate this Arab lie under varying guises, seeking to portray all evil as being an Israel that has no right to existence, and disingenuously trying to whitewash every act of war and hate against her as therefore justifiable, perhaps even legal, - then I cannot recognise any appeal you make on the basis of that."

Right on target, Pat. Just what I was trying to get at in my "Repeal of Israel" piece. But you've said it better.

Your principles

Pat:   I think this has gone around in circles and we can certainly drop it if you wish but just to clarify.

You believe that the Jews had a right to found a State on Palestinian land because the UN supported the foundation of a State.... not I would add the kind of State that the Zionists had in mind or that came to pass, but something much more limited, but a State all the same. You also ignore the fact that Israel ignores UN 'opinion' in the form of resolutions when it suits them to do so ..... but you give credence, as do they, to the resolutions which do suit them. Kind of Janus-faced isn't it? Have your cake and eat it too.

I believe that the UN had no legal or moral right to partition any country any time against the will of the people living there.

Beyond UN 'approval' you make no case for the legality or morality of this decision. I maintain that UN 'approval' is neither legal in the true sense of the word .... it gets ignored most of the time .... nor necessarily moral .... in which case it also gets ignored.

But we agree to disagree.

Everything stems from this. Your belief in legality suggests that it is okay to take the land of others and impose yourself upon them and to dispossess and occupy and colonise no matter how much suffering or death is involved. Because such things always, by their nature involve a lot of suffering and death.

Because I believe it is not right, legal or moral to take the land of others and dispossess I can see justice in the cause of those dispossessed and their allies in fighting the invaders.

That's the difference. We agree to disagree although as a matter of principle few people would support your position if put to the test I suspect.

To debate on a different basis, you have not answered my question about the Kurds? If, as your principles suggest, it was okay to dispossess the Palestinians to establish the State of Israel, one presumes it is also okay to dispossess Syrians, Turks, Iranians to re-create a homeland for the Kurds ..... no matter the terrible bloodshed and suffering involved? And it would be terrible.

And if not, then why not? If your principle creates a legal and moral basis for Jews then why not for Kurds who actually have far more of a case than the Jews did?

And, beyond the basis of this conflict ..... agreeing to disagree on the core issue .... how do your principles justify the colonisation programme which Israel has carried out under cover of its occupation.

How also do your principles relating to the justness of the Israeli cause, justify the level of brutality involved in Israel's occupation? By the way, this level of brutality can be researched by you on various Israeli peace-activist websites, dissenting IDF reservist web sites; Israeli academic and writer websites.... it's all there and Israelis are saying it, not me.

Or, do you support the justice of Israel's foundation and condemn Israel for the brutality of its occupation and the illegality and immorality of its colonisation programme?

Geoff: Did Britain have

Geoff: Did Britain have the legal or moral right to partition Palestine to form Trans-Jordan and at the same time make it illegal for Jews to live in Palestine east of the Jordan?

No, it did not have the legal or moral right to do it.

You may well believe that the UN had a legal and moral right to partition Palestine but that does not make it either legal or moral. If the UN has legal authority then why are so many of its resolutions ignored by Israel? If it legal and moral for the UN to partition Palestine as you claim, then surely it is legal and moral for the UN to dictate to Israel how it behaves?

Or would that be one rule for the Palestinians and one for the Israelis?

You can't have it both ways.

By the way, do you support the Kurds in their fight for a returned homeland? And if not, why not given that it's a far better case than the Jews had and is based on the same sort of argument.

Any date really

Roslyn Ross, would you do us all the kind favour of explaining your understanding of the terms "mandate" and "mandated territory"?

Had something to do with the League of Nations not the UN perhaps? 

Or do you subscribe to the post-moderninst view that nothing happened before 1970?

Remember when we had the mandate for Papua?

Understand why most of Antarctica is ours?

 If you can't or won't answer those sorts of questions, surely the rest of us have a legitimate right to question your grasp of history.

What Has Truth Got To Do With It?

It is of course you who is being selective about UN resolutions.

Please list the UN resolutions that have been ignored by Israel. Do you really want me to list the UN resolutions that have been ignored by the PLO, the PA and the Arab states? The treaties that have been broken? Would it make the slightest bit of difference to you?

BTW, I'm now more interested in your summation of the Jews of Antwerp having a "Chief Rabbi" who drove around in a Rolls Royce with solid gold handles. I made some further enquiries and my sources fell over laughing. Sounds like an antisemitic slur to me.

Anything you would care to add? 

Geoff:   Your sources

Geoff:   Your sources may well have fallen over laughing. Did you specify the time-frame I gave? Probably not. When I lived in Antwerp the chief Rabbi most definitely had solid gold handles on his Rolls Royce.... I saw the car and saw the handles. I am pleased if wisdom prevailed from that point and they were removed. It did look tacky. Good to hear.

The Solid Gold Truth

But we have only your word for that Roslyn. To be frank we have seen your standards of "truth" over three or four threads now.

Terrible I know, but if you gave me the time of day I would cross-check it with a third party.

Geoff:  Indigenous

Geoff: Indigenous rights are applied to people's who have had their land and their rights taken away from them by colonisers ....

Judaism is a religion, not a race. Palestinians following the Jewish faith may well be indigenous but at the time of the partition of Palestine the overwhelming majority of the people living there were Palestinians who did not follow the Jewish faith.

Indigenous rights are applied to the predominant group as a whole regardless of religion. Any Palestinians still living in Palestine who are Jewish would have the same indigenous rights as Muslim or Christian Palestinians. But we both know there are none.

The Arabs did not set out to kill Palestinian Jews until the Zionist movement to impose a Jewish State upon Palestine began. Prior to this Palestinians lived together and practised different faiths.

Indigenous has nothing to do with religion. It refers to the racial group of people who have prior rights to an area before colonisation. People who have been dispossessed by colonisers and yet have long links to the land.

You said: And what about the many "Palestinian" Arabs who migrated to Palestine from the late 19th century

I imagine they would fall into the same category as the Japanese pearl fishermen who moved to Australia in the same era and intermarried with the Aboriginal people. They would be considered a part of the indigenous community and 'inherit' those rights. The rights of indigenous apply to the people as a whole because they recognise the long history that the people have with the land.

The Palestinians, regardless of whatever religion they practised, have their roots in Palestine.

Another Expert On The Jews. Yawn.

Judaism is a religion. The Jews are not a race. They are however a nation. If you haven't managed to get to the stage where you understand and accept that, then you are not qualified to take part in this debate. 

Historically recent

Will:  When I use the term 'historically recent' I do so because it is my way of categorising those nations which reflect the modern attitude to colonising.

It is not my limitations as you put it, but the limitations imposed by the values of the modern world. The evidence for this is all around you. I merely repeat it.

Of course every nation which exists does so because at some point it was a coloniser.

But, as society developed and became, shall we say, more enlightened, there was a belief that colonisation performed violently, which much of it was of course, but not all, was 'wrong', ie immoral, unjust, not legal and not acceptable.

Given the impossibility of righting every wrong throughout history, what has happened is that certain more recent colonisers have been called to account by their indigenous peoples and those fighting on behalf of those indigenous peoples. Governments have, because, one presumes they related to the attitude of the times, listened to such calls for justice and, in seeking to make redress, are acknowledging and admitting the justice inherent in those claims.

Because there is a limit to how far one can go back and probably because nations like the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand rank amongst the most developed, these are the nations which have responded to the substance of these claims and responded accordingly.

I call them 'historically recent' because that seems to me a common factor although there may be a better name. They are 'recent' in that their foundings took place over the past two to four hundred years and because human memory is what it is, and practicality is necessary, the colonising nations which fall into this category, have, by default as much as anything else, have been called to account for their founding and the wrongs done to their indigenous people as a result of that founding.

Israel is one of these.

I think such claims have substance, certainly at a moral level, but I recognise the difficulty of such claims at a material level. Probably these claims would not have come to pass if the indigenous peoples had not continued to suffer as they all do. Equally, if Israel had been a benign occupier and improved the lot of Palestinians, or if Israel had just annexed the rest of Palestine and given full rights to Palestinians and a functioning and fulfilling life, these issues would not now be in debate.

The belief that justice needs to be done to those who have been dispossessed is a modern one..... we do more guilt than our ancestors did and I do not have a problem with that in moderation. This belief I am sure, only came about because of the dire circumstances in which indigenous peoples live in all these nations and the dire plight in which the Palestinians live.

Justice needed to be done and so calls came and continue to come for justice to be done.

You said:  How exactly have other "historically recent colonising nations" (you have previously cited Australia, the USA, Canada, New Zealand) admitted to the wrongs inherent in their foundation and made redress?

All of these nations, to varying degrees in varying circumstances, now admit to the terrible violence which took place as a part of their foundation. Israel is beginning to do the same with a 'refreshing' of its 'history' by numerous historians. In addition, Australia, the US, Canada and New Zealand recognise the plight of their indigenous people, admit to the factors arising from colonisation which contribute to that plight, and have looked at redress (Australia and Canada more so) in terms of returning land where possible or giving indigenous people land rights in qualified circumstances.

The returning of land logically suggests that there is acceptance that land was wrongfully taken from these people in the first place. Or why would you be giving it back?

These nations also accept responsibility for the plight of their indigenous people dispossesed through their foundation and seek to rectify their problems arising from that dispossession.

I actually think saying sorry goes a long way. I think an apology can help. I actually think that if Israel apologised to the Palestinians for their dispossession it would help to smooth the path. I think Australia should say sorry. Such symbolic gestures are healing. They do not negate the nation but they acknowledge that wrongs were done in the founding of that nation.

I read a story once about some Germans travelling to Israel and saying sorry; and another instance where Vietnam vets went back and said sorry for the terrible things they had done ..... it all helps.

You said: Perhaps you could detail for us exactly how the Israeli "admission of wrong in its foundation" and making of "redress" would look?

Sorry is a good start. Yes, we have dispossessed you and we are sorry for that. I don't believe it is practical for Israel to admit all the dispossessed Palestinians back into the country but I do think it should set up an investigation into the claims of those Palestinians holding keys to houses in Israel or titles to land and any claims proved to be valid should be compensated in today's monetary terms.

The Occupation, for whatever reason it took place is immoral and illegal and must end.

Israel should apologise for the suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people  because of this occupation/colonisationprogramme. Compensation should also be paid to the Palestinian people for any suffering arising from Israel's building of settlements and settler exclusive roads.

The Germans paid compensation to the Jews so why not Israel to the Palestinians for their suffering?

Israel must end the occupation and negotiate with the Palestinians on final borders. Those borders must be pretty much 67 or the Palestinians cannot have a State, and Israel may get to keep some settlement areas if the Palestinians agree and are compensated in some other way.

One other alternative, beyond the apologies and compensation is that Israel annexes Palestine and creates one State with equal rights for all citizens. I am beginning to think this will be the final solution given the mess the illegal settlements have made of it all.

You said: You and I have obviously met a completely different and non-overlapping set of Israelis.

Possibly. My comments were mostly in regard to ordinary people in the street; people one meets in business; hotels; restaurants; while travelling. I have friends there and most of them have more awareness but many of them do not really want to know the details of the Palestinian suffering.

You said: Yes, I have encountered racism among Israelis, but no more than among, say, Australians, Americans, or any other group.

Well, my experience was different. Every cab we got into, every driver, translator, whatever, seemed intent on putting the Israel cause.... a couple even pulled out maps to show why they had a right to greater Israel. Comments about Arabs being dirty (in fact Tel Aviv was filthy and the Palestinian villages I saw spotless, but that was a couple of years ago) and derogatory comments about Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular were common from people in the 'street' so to speak. Our friends and colleagues were much more discreet. Perhaps your friends and colleagues are also discreet.

Racism exists everywhere and I agree there is still a lot of it in the US but I've spent a great deal of time in America, for long, long periods and travelled over most of it and while I could clearly see racism at work, particularly when travelling with a black friend, I never heard Americans talk about blacks with the same sort of language that Israelis use in talking about Arabs.

You said: One thing I have never encountered is the kind of ignorance you claim you found among Israelis. Almost to a person, no matter how hawkish or dovish, every Israeli I've ever known has been keenly aware of the details of Israel's founding, warts and all.

My reference to ignorance and denial was in regard to the appalling abuse  to which the State of Israel subjects Palestinians. The human rights abuses, their daily living conditions, the war crimes. Yes, I know, this does get discussed in newspapers like Ha'aretz, an excellent paper, but few Israelis have any idea of the atrocities committed by the IDF and the sheer venal punishment meted out to the Palestinians on a daily basis. They may know their settlements exist because Palestinian homes have been demolished, Palestinian orchards and vineyards have been uprooted and Palestinians live without power or water much of the time, but if they do, they are in denial.

You said: I have never met an Israeli who believed "there were no Palestinians when Jewish settlers arrived in the 19th century."

Well I have. Perhaps you move in rarified circles.

I will say that I believe it is becoming harder and harder for Israelis to either deny or remain in ignorance of the realities of their occupation/colonisation. I am full of admiration for the IDF reservists who speak out and refuse to fight; of the historians who are writing the real history of Israel's founding despite the hate mail they receive; of the authors, academics and scientists who speak the truth and of the ordinary Israelis who join peace groups to work for justice for the Palestinians.

These are the people who will save Israel; with our help.

Recent colonisation

Roslyn writes "Given the impossibility of righting every wrong throughout history, what has happened is that certain more recent colonisers have been called to account by their indigenous peoples and those fighting on behalf of those indigenous peoples."

OK, so what you're saying is that you think there's nothing wrong with Israel, just that it happened too late? If the same events of Israel's founding and subsequent history had happened, say, 300 years ago, you'd have no problems with it? You wouldn't be calling for "redress?"

You note "My reference to ignorance and denial was in regard to the appalling abuse to which the State of Israel subjects Palestinians."

Once again, all I can say is: you and I have met an entirely different and mutually exclusive set of Israelis. Remarkable.


Will:   No, I am not saying there is nothing 'wrong' with Israel I am saying that accountability for the wrongs of colonisation have not been recognised nor enforced until recent times. Violent dispossession and colonisation, are, as a matter of principle 'wrong' by any reasonable judgement, but the difference is, it is only in the past century probably that we have called such actions to account. Israel and the 'historically recent' colonisers are perhaps 'unfortunate' to have colonised at such a time..... then again, are we not all fortunate, that such civilized reason should have come about? I think we are.

You said:  if it happened 300 years ago, you'd have no problems with it?

No, it would still be considered a wrong.

You said:You wouldn't be calling for "redress?"

It is not me per se: that calls for redress but modern values. The US has been called to account and that was founded more than 300 years ago. So yes, there would still be a call for redress. Who knows, in times to come maybe the world community will decide it can go back 1000 years to claim redress for wrongs?

My position is based on where we are at now.

You said: Once again, all I can say is: you and I have met an entirely different and mutually exclusive set of Israelis. Remarkable..

It may well be remarkable. It may not be surprising. You may well have met a group of very informed and aware Israelis. My views were based on a broad cross-section. Were yours?

Also, in terms of the Israelis you have met, how do you account for the number of Israeli writers, academics, historians, peace activists and commentators who also comment on the level of denial and ignorance at work in this regard in Israeli society?  I have posted links to some of these and can post more if you like.

Have they also met an entirely different and mutually exclusive set of Israelis? Or do you think maybe you have and the group you cite is not representative?

Take a Stand, Ros

Roslyn notes: "how do you account for the number of Israeli writers, academics, historians, peace activists and commentators who also comment on the level of denial and ignorance at work in this regard in Israeli society?"

These are the people I'm talking about. How do reconcile this statement with your overgeneralisations of Israelis being ignorant and racist? I'ts possible the Israelis I know are not representative, but it's certain the group you cite is not. I know a lot of Israelis with a wide range of views, some I agree with and others I don't. They range all the way from Kumbaya-singing peaceniks to right-wing religious zealots. None of them is ignorant of Israel's history or the present conflict, no matter where they sit on the political spectrum.

You note "It is not me per se: that calls for redress but modern values. The US has been called to account and that was founded more than 300 years ago."

How so, and how would you apply this form of "redress" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Roslyn, you keep backing away from your claims and rhetoric each time they're challenged. "It's not me [per se] who's calling for redress," you say. It's not me calling Israel 'apartheid,'" you backpedal. Come on, Roslyn, take a stand! Why are you so vehement in your defence of all these views if all you're doing is "reporting," not "endorsing?"

"So yes, there would still be a call for redress. Who knows, in times to come maybe the world community will decide it can go back 1000 years to claim redress for wrongs?"

OK, so why not 2000 years? Why not 3000? Then by your standards the Jews would really have a valid claim to Palestine. Oh but wait, then we'd have to give Palestine back to the Canaanites. And send the Jews back to Egypt. Now we're talking redress! Cheap labor would be a big boost for Egypt's economy.


Roslyn writes "I have said, time and time again, that Israel has the same right to exist as other historically recent colonising nations but, that means on original borders and that means, like the other[s], it must admit to the wrongs inherent in its foundation and make redress."

A few questions about this:

1) How recent is "historically recent?" At some level, most nations are, or were, "colonising." So how far back does the Roslyn Ross Statute of Colonial Limitations extend?

2) How exactly have other "historically recent colonising nations" (you have previously cited Australia, the USA, Canada, New Zealand) admitted to the wrongs inherent in their foundation and made redress? For example, there has been much debate in Australia about the issue of an official apology to indigenous Australians, an apology that the Howard Government has so far refused to issue.

3) Perhaps you could detail for us exactly how the Israeli "admission of wrong in its foundation" and making of "redress" would look?

On another topic, I know a lot of Israelis and non-Israeli Jews right across the political spectrum, so I was myself "struck" by this comment in your essay:

You say: "I spent time in Israel and Palestine a few years back and was struck by not only how little Israelis know about their neighbours but how racist they are in regard to Palestinians in particular and Arabs in general. It may be a defensive mechanism but it is a dangerous one. So too are the myths or lies which Israelis believe about the founding of their State. Most believe there were no Palestinians when Jewish settlers arrived in the 19th century and that at partition the Palestinians left voluntarily."

You and I have obviously met a completely different and non-overlapping set of Israelis.

Yes, I have encountered racism among Israelis, but no more than among, say, Australians, Americans, or any other group. One thing I have never encountered is the kind of ignorance you claim you found among Israelis. Almost to a person, no matter how hawkish or dovish, every Israeli I've ever known has been keenly aware of the details of Israel's founding, warts and all. So it's remarkable to me that you had such a different experience. I'm not denying the validity of your perceptions to you, but I just wonder how you managed to avoid all the well-informed, fair-minded, and tolerant Israelis I've known. I have never met an Israeli who believed "there were no Palestinians when Jewish settlers arrived in the 19th century." Only very rarely have I ever encountered the racism you claim is the norm.

Thanks for your comments on my essay - I will address your questions soon.

UK Partition Good. UN Partition Bad.

I do not believe the UN had any legal or moral right to partition Palestine ... and so on and so on. Did Britain have the legal or moral right to partition Palestine to form Trans-Jordan and at the same time make it illegal for Jews to live in Palestine east of the Jordan? You have not mentioned that.

Well I do believe the UN had the legal and moral right to partition what was left of  Palestine. So did Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, France, US, USSR, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Brazil, Uruguay ... I do not believe that Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia had the legal or moral right, having lost their case on the floor of the General Assembly, to launch an attack on the fledgling state with the intention of obliterating it and eliminating its population.

I guess you have to be a "pacifist" to believe that.

Those interested in the wording of the partition plan can go here.  

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