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Netanyahu Rejects Return to 1967 Borders, Proximity Talks’ Latest Failure

Israeli rightists and those echoing their formulations are fond of saying about the Palestinians: “There is no partner for peace.”  Well, now the Palestinians can legitimately say the same about the current Israeli government.  Haaretz today reveals that Bibi Netanyahu, in George Mitchell’s latest round of proximity talks, rejected a framework for direct negotiations that would have Israel affirm that 1967 borders would be the basis for such talks:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday rejected a Palestinian demand that direct negotiations be based on a statement by the Quartet confirming its position that the future Palestinian state will be based on the 1967 borders.

Meeting in Jerusalem with U.S. envoy George Mitchell, Netanyahu repeated his demand for the renewal of direct talks without preconditions.

…Senior officials in Jerusalem who are involved in the efforts to renew direct peace talks said yesterday that Abbas’ latest formula was unacceptable to Netanyahu because it sought to impose preconditions that the Israeli public would oppose.

…After Netanyahu’s rejection, it appears that Mitchell’s latest visit to the region has ended in failure.

Affirming 1967 borders would be little more than a reformulation of every major peace proposal going back ten years from the Clinton and Taba talks to the Arab League proposal to the Quartet.  Bibi’s rejection sends Israel-Palestine relations into total disarray and renders Mitchell’s work moot.  And there certainly is now no Israeli partner.

It’s laughable that only 24 hours ago the N.Y. Times editorial board hectored Mahmoud Abbas about his refusal to enter into such talks with Israel.  The Grey Lady warned Abbas that Obama was the best president for the Palestinians’ purposes he was every likely to get, and that Obama’s patience would wear thin.  All empty threats and rhetoric.  The fact of the matter is that Israel’s position, as evidenced by Bibi’s “No” less than a day later, renders negotiations moot.  No serious Palestinian leader should or would be able to risk their position for the empty chalice offered by Israel and the U.S.  It would make them a laughingstock in the Palestinian street, and rightly so.

But let’s make no mistake: failure of peace talks does not bring a maintenance of the status quo as Bibi assumes.  It gives freedom of movement to all the gremlins who wish to work their mischief including radical settlers, Al Qaeda, radical Palestinian militant groups, Hezbollah, etc.  There are elements too within the IDF and Israeli political echelon who’d nothing more than a good war to occupy themselves and take the world’s eye off the Occupation and Palestinian suffering.  There are any rumblings above and below the surface that an imminent attack on Iran may be such a diversion.

So yes, there will be another war, and sooner rather than later.  And during that war or sometime after, Barack Obama and his advisors will scramble to try to pick up the pieces and get things back to status quo ante.  But that won’t work either since Obama is an incrementalist in a region where radical reform is needed to shake up people and nations who’ve been far too complacent for far too long.

So here’s my formula put in the most graphic terms possible: status quo=death.  Any person or party who maneuvers to maintain the status quo and stands in the way of progress as Bibi has done, will sow the seeds of despair and reap death as their harvest.

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  • Yakov August 12, 2010, 12:04 AM

    I think you’re mistaken about your analysis behind Bibi’s refusal. You know as well as anybody that both Barak and Olmert have reached far-reaching agreements with the Palestinians. The problem is passing them through the Knesset. Rabin could do it, Sharon could as well. Can Bibi make one of the most right-wing Knessets accept this? Perhaps. Anyhow, the tougher the fight he makes, the harder he makes this appear, the easier it’s going to be down the road when 61 Knesset members will have to say yes.

    • Richard Silverstein August 12, 2010, 12:16 AM

      You know as well as anybody that both Barak and Olmert have reached far-reaching agreements with the Palestinians.

      Say what? What agreements, let alone ones that were “far-reaching?” Barak perhaps though that would be years ago. Olmert, never.

      The problem is passing them through the Knesset

      That’s not the problem as Kadima would willingly back such an agreement & give him the votes. The issue is Bibi himself, who doesn’t want such an agreement, nor does he even want to negotiate for one. The Knesset will never get a chance to vote on such an agreement, at least not during Bibi’s tenure.

      • Yuval August 12, 2010, 8:29 PM

        I think you are wrong.
        No knesset would support an agreement giving the old city in Jerusalem to the Palestinians.
        They may support giving parts of east Jerusalem to the Palestinians and making the old city an international area under tri-religion management .

      • Yakov August 13, 2010, 12:47 AM

        “That’s not the problem as Kadima would willingly back such an agreement & give him the votes”

        These votes wouldn’t be enough. This Knesset is split 65-55 in favor of the right. So, many right-wingers will have to be convinced. Neither the likud nor kadima are monolithic and many in both parties will find some quirk in the agreement to oppose.

        “The Knesset will never get a chance to vote on such an agreement, at least not during Bibi’s tenure”.

        The same might have been told once about Begin. Guess what? Begin changed his mind anyway and that was 30 years ago. Today, no one but the extreme right seriously disputes the need to reach an agreement

        • Richard Silverstein August 13, 2010, 1:14 AM

          Wrong again. Kadima has 28 seats, Likud 27. Labor’s votes would easily bring him well over the 60 votes he’d need. A no-brainer if he wanted it, which he doesn’t.

          The same might have been told once about Begin

          No, Begin was a trogdolyte, but he had principles. Bibi has none & is incapable of doing anything surprising or against character.

          • amaris August 13, 2010, 9:59 AM

            Triple wrong. Kadima is a right party, not center nor left. The so called ‘Center’ is a publicity stunt & a myth, same goes for the Labor party.
            The fact is that Israel will never return to the 67 borders beside the obvious Mantras’ reasons everyone cites, the security issues & the hitnachlooyot.
            One can add at least 3 more reasons why not (you can supplement others):
            1.Almost 1/3 of Israel water supply comes from the west bank.
            2.60% of the Palestinians do not live in the west bank nor within the green borders.
            3. Economics issues.

  • mary August 12, 2010, 5:18 AM

    The Palestinian people know as well as anyone else that the idea of having to “negotiate” for the return of their own land is ridiculous. The Israelis need to get the hell back over the armistice line and give the West Bank and E. Jerusalem back. The idea of bargaining with thieves is outrageous, and this is why Abbas is so unpopular. He’s willing to negotiate away basic rights, including the right of return, and this is unacceptable to most Palestinians.

    • Yuval August 12, 2010, 4:39 PM

      Let me understand.
      you want Israel to withdraw from the west bank, give back east Jerusalem (that was captured using force in 1948 by the Jordanian Arab Legion) and give them the right of return to territory west of the armistice line ? do i understand correctly ?

      • mary August 12, 2010, 5:26 PM

        Yes, you understand correctly. It is in compliance with international law, especially the right of return.

        • Yuval August 12, 2010, 6:08 PM

          Would the Jews have the same right of return ?
          or does the right of return reflects only 100 years of history ?
          i mean you are not going to argue with history right ?

          • mary August 12, 2010, 8:36 PM

            No, they don’t have the same right, because the 1948 Nakba saw the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians and not one single Jew.

          • Yuval August 12, 2010, 8:43 PM

            someone should tell you that the Jews were expelled by force from that land before Islam was even created. Someone should tell you that a big number of those Palestinians were transferred to the region (from the Balkan region) by the ottoman empire at the end of the 18th century.
            someone should tell you all that but it really doesn’t matter cause you will not listen.

            Mary, any one sided agreement is destined to fail.
            since this is what you advocate in my opinion you advocate endless suffering on both sides.

          • Richard Silverstein August 12, 2010, 9:55 PM

            Jews were never “expelled” from Israel. That is a mistaken conception common to many Jews. The Romans conquered Judea & destroyed Jerusalem, but they never exiled its Jewish population. The Babylonians did exile the Jews before that, but Cyrus allowed them to return from exile.

            I’m simply not going to get into a discussion about who Palestinians are, when they came to Israel, who sent them there, etc. That’s a total waste of time except for hasbarists eager to prove something that cannot be proven by facts or historical truth.

          • Richard Silverstein August 12, 2010, 10:03 PM

            If you give Palestinians a partial Right of Return, it’s only fair to give Jews a partial Right of Return as well. I don’t believe any Jew anywhere in the world should have to right at any time to make aliyah & be accepted as a citizen immediately no questions asked. I believe that some Jews in very particular circumstances may warrant such treatment if they are imminent physical danger. Otherwise, any Jew who wishes to immigrate should get in line & apply for citizenship & fulfill the requirements whatever they may be just as happens in the U.S. & most countries of the world.

          • Meni Zehavi August 12, 2010, 10:30 PM

            This exchange deserves to be presented as a textbook illustration of what constitutes one-sided approach.
            Mary, there were Jewish settlements in Mandate Palestine that were occupied by Arab forces in 1948 and did not exist any longer until 1967: the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Gush Etzion settlements, Beit Ha’arava, Qaliya, Kfar Darom. Most of their inhabitants were forced to evacuate, some were killed, some were taken prisoners by the Arab Legion and then released to Israel. Yes, more Arabs were expelled than Jews, but on the other hand, in post-war Israel there remained ca. 150,000 Arabs, while no single Jew remained in that part of the Mandate Palestine which came under the control of Jordan & Egypt.
            Yuval, your argument about the late 18th-century Ottoman settlement policy in Palestine is pointless. People kept moving from one region to another all the time, but in the pre-modern period, transportation capacities simply did not allow for a large-scale settlement of any region by a directive. Moreover, once we accept the idea that the inhabitants of a certain region have the right to decide about their collective governance, or at least the right that their collective rights and interests be protected, it doesn’t matter whether their ancestors came to that region 100, 1000 or 1,000,000 years ago – and in most cases, it simply cannot be established. Now, the legal documents that recognized the right of the Jewish people to a national home in Palestine, starting from the Balfour Declaration and the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, also provided that the rights of non-Jewish communities in Palestine be safeguarded. We know what happened to most of those communities in 1948. Restoration of the rights of the non-Jewish communities of Palestine as of 1948 (including residence and property rights) is a legitimate demand. Whether and to what degree it can be practically realized, is another question.
            Richard, your view of exile is overly simplistic. Yes, there probably was no instance, in which a Roman army detachment would round up the inhabitants of a Jewish town and order them to get the hell out of the boundaries of Provincia Iudaea. Still, it is very likely that the suppression of the revolt of 132-135 CE caused many Jewish residents of Judea to escape for their lives, and in the wake of the Roman campaign, much of Judea lay in ruins, which made any large-scale return of the refugees to their land impractical. This is quite similar, in fact, to the fate of most Palestinian refugees of 1948, who fled on their own from the threat of the approaching Jewish army – or, for that matter, to what happens to many people in regions ravaged by war. This counts as forced exile in my book. (Yes, I am aware that some Palestinian communities were expelled in 1948 on direct Israeli orders, but to the best of my knowledge, those communities represent only a minority of the Palestinian refugees.)

          • Richard Silverstein August 13, 2010, 1:27 AM

            Yes, more Arabs were expelled than Jews

            I should say so. How many Jews all told were expelled? A few thousand at most? Even 10,000 would likely be stretching it. Compared to 750,000-1-million expellees. I should say a few more Arabs were expelled.

            in post-war Israel there remained ca. 150,000 Arabs

            Only because Israel was expelling on a far larger scale than the Arab armies, so Israel perforce didn’t succeed in expelling every Arab resident, just most of them. If the Arabs had been expelling a Jewish population that compared with the Arab population it too would’ve failed to expell 150,000 or so Jews.

            This counts as forced exile in my book.

            You’ll have to argue it out with Jerry Haber on this from whom I got this idea. He’s a professor of medieval Jewish philosophy & no slouch btw. So be prepared for a good argument. Judea may have been left in ruins by Rome after the revolt, and many Jews no doubt emigrated when faced with such devastation, but there was no forced exile. And if there was a forced exile why would Rome have allowed so many Jews to emigrate to Rome itself, which ended up with a huge Jewish community?

          • Yuval August 12, 2010, 10:34 PM

            @ Richard

            You lack of knowledge in your own history is astonishing.
            you don’t even know what’s the source of the name Jew was. so a quick history overview:

            Assyrians under Shalmaneser V conquered the (Northern) Kingdom of Israel, and many Israelites were deported to Khorasan others were deported to the Kingdom of Judah. those who come from the kingdom of Judah are called Jews.

            a bit off topic, but give me a brake, learn your history before you claim to educate others.

          • Richard Silverstein August 13, 2010, 1:18 AM

            This is unbelievably off topic & I have no idea what pt you’re referring to. Stay on topic.

          • Deïr Yassin August 13, 2010, 7:54 AM

            @ Meni Zehavi
            “In post-war Israel there remained ca. 150.000 Arabs, while not a single Jew remained in that part of the Mandate Palestine which came under the control of Jordan and Egypt”.

            That’s another very frequent hasbara spin.
            I could reply that there is a huge difference between ‘gaining’ 78% of NOTHING and being left with only 22% of ALL, but that would be an argument without no ending.

            And you are wrong. Jews stayed behind in what remained of historical Palestine. I guess you don’t really hear much of those people in Israel, they don’t fit into the image that the State wants to give of the impossible Arab-Jewish coexistence.

            Here is Haïm Bajayo, a Sephardic Jew, born in al-khalil (Hebron) in 1935, and who never left the place, explaining to the Mayor why he wants to be buried in a Muslim cementery. Long life to Haïm Bajayo, and hopefully when his time comes – as late as possible – he will be buried according to his Jewish religion.

            http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=294067

          • Meni Zehavi August 13, 2010, 10:20 AM

            @Deir Yassin
            Thanks for the info. I didn’t know about this person. Still, he does not belong to the group about which I was talking about: the residents of distinctively Jewish settlements on lands that turned out to be occupied by Arab powers. In fact, he is no more representative of those Jews that Sayfu-d-Dini z-Zu’bi (who served in the Jewish military and was to become later the mayor of Nazareth and an MK) was representative of the Palestinian Arab population.

            @Richard & Deir Yassin
            The point is not about numbers. The Allied bombing of Dresden in February 1945 was a crime regardless of whether it killed ca. 25,000 or ca. 250,000 people (the latter figure originates from the Reich statistics, which now are known to be grossly inflated). Those Palestinian Arabs who remained in Israel after 1948 were not, for the most part, survivors who went into hiding and succeeded to outwit the Israeli power. Most of them were members of communities that the Israeli authorities just did not want to expel (most of those communities had already shrunk severely in size due to the flight of people out of fear, as happens in many wars throughout human history). Yes, it was a crime to prevent those people from returning to their homes (let alone to expel those who were deliberately expelled). But it should be noted that at the Lausanne Conference of 1949, Israel agreed to the return of 100,000 Palestinian refugees to its territory; how many Jewish refugees was Jordan ready to allow back to the East Jerusalem and the West Bank?
            If any progress toward peace is to be made in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it must be based on recognition of the legitimate rights and grievances of both sides, and on the understanding that neither side can have all of its demands satisfied in practice. That’s called compromise (and yes, Netanyahu fails bitterly on this account).

            @Richard (about the exile of Jews from Judea by the Romans)
            I don’t think that we are arguing about what actually happened; we are arguing about definitions. Of course, you may claim that people abandoning their homes out of fear of an approaching enemy army cannot be regarded as expelled by force. But then, you will have to admit the same concerning a large part (probably the majority) of the Palestinian refugees as well. And the fact that Jews continued to live all through the Roman empire is not an argument that they were not expelled by the Romans from Judea. The Roman Empire devastated Judea and made it inhospitable to its native population, thus punishing the said population for its revolt against the empire. The imperial authorities did not care if Jews lived elsewhere inside the empire’s borders, and they probably didn’t even prevent the Jews from returning to Judea if they so wished (with the exception of Jerusalem). The Jews simply had no cities and villages to return to.

          • Deïr Yassin August 13, 2010, 1:01 PM

            @ Meni Zehavi
            “on land that turned out to be occupied by Arab powers”.

            What is that supposed to mean ? No ‘Arab power’ occupied any land that was not within the Partition Plan as voted by the UN on Nov 27 1947.

            Let me be honest. Personnally, I don’t really feel like playing the ‘International Law’-card, i.e. I don’t see how the ‘International Community’ has any right to give one man’s land to another. And when you look into the ‘International Community in 1947, you get to realize it was a rather White Club, when you know that the vote was turned down in the first place, that three votes were necessary to get the majority needed, with all the lobbying going on between the 24th Nov (second vote) and the 27th Nov, the pressures and threaths of economical sanctions on countries like Liberia (cf. Firestone), the Phillipines etc to vote in favour of the partition, it looks like a joke if the result wasn’t such a disater for the Palestinians.

            Political Zionists always tend to justify the creation of the State of Israel by referring to ‘International Law’ and the resolution 181 but have no problem forgetting the rest of the resoultions.

            The Right of Return was voted by the UN on Dec 11, 1948 (Resolution 194) and Israel was admitted to the UN by Resolution 273 on May 11, 1949, conditionnal on Israel’s acceptance and implementation of the resolution 181 and 194. That was more than 60 years ago, and we’re still waiting.

            They can go fetch the Falashas on a ‘Flying Carpet’, accept more than one millions Russians (Jews and non-Jews) but letting the Palestinians returning home, NJET. Where are the compromises, you are talking about ?? I’ve got the impression that it’s more like “Heads, the Israelis win, tails, the Palestinians lose” !

            “Ishaq Shami and the Predicament of the Arab Jew” by Salim Tamari.
            http://palestinearchives.org/ViewArticle.aspx?id=122
            There are some interesting things on Arab vs Ashkenazi Jews and Zionism.

          • Meni Zehavi August 13, 2010, 10:29 PM

            @Deir Yassin
            I don’t think that Israel’s governments, from the very emergence of the state, did what was necessary for peace. Far from it. Once the Israeli leadership understood that it can have an upper hand by force, it became yet another illustration of the time-honored saying “power corrupts.” The current leadership, especially, leads the country to disaster by trying to play tricks instead of entering honest negotiations. It is my country and I want to live here, but that doesn’t prevent me from recognizing that its leadership has the bad habit of preferring force over peace.
            International law is not ideal – no law is. But it’s the best mechanism we have to prevent wars, and we all have to respect it. Once upon a time, the Zionist leaders understood this, and they worked hard to achieve their goals through largely legitimate means. Then they saw that they can win wars, and as the Hebrew saying goes, “the appetite grows with eating.” That was wrong then, and it is wrong now. Israel and the Palestinians have to work out a diplomatic solution under the auspices of the international community, with due respect being paid to UN resolutions.
            As for the occupation of parts of Palestine by foreign Arab powers in 1948 – well, that’s what happened to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, at least if you look at it from the perspective that recognizes the Palestinians’ right of self-determination. Of course, you are free to adopt another perspective (e.g., one that demands Palestine to be in Arab or Moslem hands, no matter whose hands they are), but then don’t be surprised if the Israelis refuse to recognize the Palestinians as a self-standing community with collective rights that should be respected. I think it was one of the great achievements of President Arafat to promote the principle, according to which the Palestinians have to decide about their fate and their land, rather than the regimes of Jordan, Egypt, etc. Egypt’s collaboration with Israel in the siege of the Gaza Strip (the siege, which, in my view, cannot be justified) is just a reminder why this principle is so important.

        • Yuval August 13, 2010, 7:55 AM

          @Richard It’s not that much off topic.
          you stated that Jews were never expelled from the land of Israel, and i was proven that when it comes to historical facts your statement is utter nonsense (as you love saying)

          as i told mary, any one sided solution is destined to fail. those who advocate that – like you and mary – actually advocate war and the continue of suffering on both sides.

      • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 13, 2010, 10:53 AM

        Yes, Yuval, you understand correctly. That would be a good beginning.

    • Yosef August 13, 2010, 5:39 AM

      Given the wider ramifications now,
      and the blossoming grass-roots campaigns post-flotilla,
      I think there’s a lot to be said
      for bibi giving his head a wobble.

  • bar_kochba132 August 12, 2010, 7:19 AM

    Mary gives us a very eloquent explanation of why there never will be an agreement. She defines what the Palestinians as “bargaining with thieves”. Why should the Palestinian leadership expose itself to accusations of being sellouts to the “criminal Zionist regime”? If there is to be an agreement it is going to require major concessions on the part of the Palestinians, and not only that of Israel, and the biggest will mean giving up the Palestinian “right of return”. We all know that if Abbas were to go to the Knesset right now and announce he was willing to give up the “Right of Return” in exchange for a COMPLETE Israeli withdrawal to the pre-67 lines, including the Western Wall (presumably with guarantees of continued Jewish access to it) he would get it EVEN FROM THIS KNESSET. I am sure if Abbas were to make such an announcement, Obama himself would come to Jerusalem to pitch the plan (it was this plan that his advisors Scowcroft and Brzezinski pushed). Everyone on the world would say “Israel is being offered a reasonable peace plan, how can they turn it down?”. Mary, what would you say to Abbas making such a move?
    The fact is that, since the Oslo Agreements in 1993, the periods of the most violence are those in which there is “progress” in the peace process, and the most quiet is when there is a freeze in the negotations. So for Abbas, the status quo is preferable. Get used to it.

    • Richard Silverstein August 12, 2010, 9:14 PM

      Thanks once again for proving how sneaky & untrustworthy you are. Mary describes Israel as a thief because it stole Palestinian land. An entirely reasonable belief for her to have. She never used the 2nd term you used & I did an internal search in the comments here & as far as it tells me no one has until you did. So congratulations, you’ve been the first person to introduce such a hostile anti-Zionist phrase into the threads.

      Palestinians will not give up the Right of REturn, period. So if that’s what you believe will be required for peace you can kiss that little baby goodbye for a few generations or until either Israel or Palestine is obliterated.

      I know nothing of the sort regarding what you claim. As far as I’m concerned as soon as Abbas relinquished the Right of Return Bibi would ask what else he’s willing to relinquish until he got him to give up every principle held sacred by Palestinians.

      As for what you’re ‘sure’ will happen, I’m about as trusting in yr perceptions of reality as I am the word of a liar, thief or delusional.

      Mary, pls don’t respond to B.K. He’s blowin’ smoke & being a provocateur as usual. He isn’t worth the energy it would take to lift your fingers to the keyboard.

      It is not Abbas, but Bibi who prefers the status quo.

      • mary August 13, 2010, 5:38 AM

        I’ll respond only to mention that Abbas has no mandate to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians, and this is especially true of those living in Gaza and in the diaspora.

    • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 13, 2010, 11:09 AM

      bar_kochba132: It’s not likely the Palestinian people will ever give up their internationally guaranteed right of return to their homes and land anywhere in historic Palestine. While it’s likely the majority will not exercise this right, it is a right considered sacred and unshakable to every Palestinian. And of course it is a right that must be guaranteed to every Jew who during recent times was forced from the land on which he/she lived inside historic Palestine. No to include the current illegal settlers in the West Bank, of course.

      • mary August 13, 2010, 12:44 PM

        Nor should the Palestinians be encouraged to give up that right. The precedent that would be set is horrible to imagine, for one thing. But more important is that 62 years of living in the diaspora, in refugee camps and under occupation, waiting for justice, would never see redress.

      • Yuval August 13, 2010, 2:56 PM

        @ Mary
        why do you distinguish between the Palestinian historic right and the Jewish historic right ?
        what’s the difference ?

        • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 13, 2010, 3:40 PM

          Yuval:
          Not sure if you’re responding to me or our other Mary. I’m not distinguishing between Jews, Muslims and Christians. Are you perhaps referring to ancient biblical history when you speak of Jewish return? I don’t recognize that. I think a hundred years is more than enough.

        • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 13, 2010, 3:41 PM

          Yuval:
          Not sure if you’re responding to me or our other Mary. If me, I’m not distinguishing between Jews, Muslims and Christians. Are you perhaps referring to ancient biblical history when you speak of Jewish return? I don’t recognize that kind of claim. I think a hundred years is more than enough.

          • Yuval August 13, 2010, 5:07 PM

            When you look at the part of history that serves your purposes you are being biased.
            American are usually doing so because there are still native Americans that claim the land (which they refuse to surrender to them)
            what’s the British excuse?

          • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 13, 2010, 5:23 PM

            Yuval, there are no excuses for what Britain and the U.S. have done. Thank the Lord they don’t commit those kinds of egregious crimes any longer. No more claiming land through conquest. No more colonization whereby you plant your people on somebody else’s land and raise your own flag. There are international laws to protect people nowadays; unfortunately Israel has never shown respect for international law.

            As for right of return, it’s ludicrous to claim that based on some theory of biblical text all Jews have some sort of God-given right to expropriate the land and property of people who have lived on the land for centuries. This is not right of return. This is just convenient justification for theft and murder, and Israel won’t get away with it for ever.

          • Yuval August 13, 2010, 7:59 PM

            Based on some biblical text ?
            what about some archeological findings from the dead sea scrolls to Messada, that actually prove that there was a big prosperous Jewish nation in the part of the world way before Muhammad was born and Islam was established ?

            hear hear no more colonizations says the English women, but what England did to the scotts and the walsh is water under the bridge, what the Americans did to the native Americans is ancient history (only 300 years ago) so we will forget about it. but the bad Israelis, we will condemn them and force them to get out, justice for all i guess.

          • Koshiro August 14, 2010, 3:29 AM

            The key difference between Israel and other Western countries:

            England, France, Belgium, Germany the US, etc. etc. have all admitted that colonization, expulsion and oppression of other peoples, which all of these countries engaged in, were and are morally wrong. They have even apologized for their past misdeeds and shown themselves determined not to repeat these crimes in the future. In some cases, they have agreed to compensate not only the victims, but also their descendents, for their losses.

            Israel, on the other hand, still insists that colonization, expulsion and oppression of the Palestinians were and are fully justified. It has never apologized for any of its actions and has shown itself determined to continue its crimes in the future. Israel has never offered any compensation to its victims or their descendents.

          • Yuval August 14, 2010, 7:45 AM

            @ Mary
            Why should the world be responsible for the suffering of the Jews?
            No particular reason, other than the fact that the “world” was the one inflicting the pain on the Jews. Forcing them out of their land, in more than one occasion.
            Jews were prosecuted for being Jews all over, from civilized Europe, to not so civilized Arabia. The “world” already recognized the suffering of the Jews (both historic one and recent one) hence the Balfur declaration and the united nation division plan and the vote on the creation off the state of Israel. If the Palestinians would recognize the same thing, maybe there would be a chance for fair negotiations which will lead to a long lasting agreement. I read your statement that Abbas doesn’t have the mandate to negotiate in the name of the Palestinians – and with all due respect I don’t think you have any idea what you are talking about.

            @ Deïr Yassin
            If it’s not about the competition, it’s about recognizing that both sides have suffered, and unless both sides would recognize the others suffering, there will be no peace. That means direct talks with no preconditions and preferably getting religion out of the frame. What the Arabs never understood is that the Jewish claim for land is at least as just as there; hence they rejected the Phil committee plan, and in May 1948 attacked Israel (Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and others).

            @ Koshiro
            You live on another planet, there is no difference between the Palestinian claims to the Native American claim, and the US closed the Native Americans in reservation making them second class citizens. They never apologized –formally – for the action of the white man towards, and they certainly not going to give them the land back. The rest of your little soliloquy is utter nonsense.

          • Richard Silverstein August 15, 2010, 12:02 AM

            That means direct talks with no preconditions

            Why should there be no preconditions? Bibi has placed preconditions that are deal breakers. Why shouldn’t Israel be willing to precondition that they accept a return to approx. pre 67 borders since this has been the basis of every major peace initiative (& there have been scores of them) going back a decade or more. If Bibi showed he was willing to negotiate seriously & in good faith I might agree to no preconditions. But Bibi is such a conniver, liar & charlatan that no Palestinian should agree to negotiate with him w. no preconditions. That’s merely a recipe for endless talk w. no action, which suits Bibi just fine.

            Abbas doesn’t have the mandate to negotiate in the name of the Palestinians

            Where is his mandate? Who elected him? Who said that right now he represents anyone or has a legitimate elected position?

            Again, I warn you that this is off-topic & violates my comment rules.

        • Koshiro August 14, 2010, 8:20 AM

          Pure, weapons-grade bullonium. Native Americans are US citizens. They are considerably less “second class” than even the Israeli Palestinians are, let alone the Palestinians in the occupied territories, who have no political rights whatsoever.
          Israel is roughly where the US was about 100 years ago.

          • Koshiro August 14, 2010, 8:24 AM

            P.S.: “Closed in reservations”? What the Foxtrot?

          • mary August 14, 2010, 8:34 AM

            The reservations are not “closed.” People exit and enter freely. No American Indian is required to live on a reservation, but many do because it is the only land they can still claim as theirs.

  • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 12, 2010, 12:14 PM

    Amen, Mary.

  • John Yorke August 12, 2010, 4:43 PM

    Basically there exists little hope for either contingency regarding borders and proposals for their realignment.

    At present, the right-wing is perceived to be in the ascendant on both sides and so neither camp are much minded to make concessions or what might be seen as concessions. Pressure from President Obama, the EU, the Quartet, the Quintet or whoever else remains insufficient to the task. Perhaps this will always be the case. Thus, the only viable way left to handle the matter might be through the application of a pressure that is essentially internal rather than external. To internalise the problem, to reflect it back upon itself may be the one option left for any serious resolution here, now or in the foreseeable future.

    http://yorketowers.blogspot.com

    Sometimes the simplest, most direct answers turn out to be the best.

  • Erez August 12, 2010, 5:35 PM

    And I guess that you Marry live where your ancestors have lived for at least 500 years?

    • Ahuva August 12, 2010, 8:31 PM

      comment deleted for comment rule violation

    • mary August 13, 2010, 5:36 AM

      What is the relevance of your question, Erez?

  • bar_kochba132 August 13, 2010, 3:38 AM

    Richard-
    You said:
    ——————————————————
    If you give Palestinians a partial Right of Return, it’s only fair to give Jews a partial Right of Return as well. I don’t believe any Jew anywhere in the world should have to right at any time to make aliyah & be accepted as a citizen immediately no questions asked.
    —————————————————–

    The Jewish “Right of Return” is a basic, fundamental principle of Zionism. No Israeli government will give it up. How the heck did you decide that you have been appointed by the Jewish people to decide who can make aliyah or not? You do NOT own Israel, Zionism or the Jewish People. You don’t even live in Israel. You are going to decide for us what our policy is going to be? For a test case, go and try convince your fellow members of the self-proclaimed pro-Israel J-Street Lobby if they are willing to give it up. I have never heard any progressives of the MERETZ or even Avrum Burg make such a demand to end unrestricted aliyah. “Progressive” Yossi Beilin even supports the Birthright Program which ulimately hopes to inspire North American Jews to identify with Israel and even possibly make aliyah , without restrictions.
    Also I see you have generously decided on a limited “right of return” for the Palestinians. Who is going to decide for them who the lucky ones who get return are? You? Did Abbas give you this power? I see you also decide for the Palestinians what demands of theirs are non-negotiable, such as the right of return, borders and the such. Or I should say you and Mary decide for them.

    Regarding the exile of the Jewish people from Eretz Israel in the wake of the two wars with Rome, I realize it is popular in your circles do deny that that there is a “Galut Edom (Rome)”. Regardless of whether the Jews were run out at sword point or simply that conditions became unbearable and many felt that they had no choice but to leave, I suggest you open your prayer book to the Musaf Prayer of the Hagim-holidays. It says “because of our sins we were exiled from our land”. So this is an ancient Jewish sentiment, not another “hasbaraist lie”.

    • Richard Silverstein August 13, 2010, 12:34 PM

      The Jewish “Right of Return” is a basic, fundamental principle of Zionism. No Israeli government will give it up

      Just as NO Palestinian leader or individual will give up the Palestinian Right of Return. So there you have it. Endless stalemate ending ultimately in death of one or both peoples.

      You don’t even live in Israel.

      This is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with rightist Zionism. Diaspora Zionists are detested, negated, treated as irrelevant as long as the latters’ views are inconvenient. But when Diaspora Jews are needed for money or political clout of whatever, then their help is demanded as if Israel had its help coming to it by right. Unbelievable chutzpah!

      You should check Avrum Burg’s views. He doesn’t even consider himself a ZIonist any longer. I strongly doubt that he would have your intransigent definition of the Right of Return. As for the others, I had no idea that my progressive Zionist views had to accord with those of Meretz or Beilin, who I have frequently criticized. Besides, they are not “progressive,” but “liberal.” There is a diff. which I wouldn’t expect you to understand.

      The questions of who returns among Jews or Palestinians is an issue the 2 parties will have to decide with direction provided by international outside parties & powers like the UN or Quartet.

      I’m not deciding anything for the Palestinians. They have made their views crystal clear. I am merely reflecting them for you since you seem to believe you’ve created a magic illusory Palestinian willing to sell his Right of Return for a mess of Israeli porridge.

      My friend, Jerry Haber, is a respected professor of Jewish philosophy at a major U.S. university who also teaches in Israel. He is far more learned than you or even I. He has written in his blog that there is no such thing as an exile & I trust his perspective far more than yours. As far as the Jewish liturgy, there are many statements & judgments in it that I & other Jewish commentators find either erroneous or objectionable. The liturgy isn’t an incontrovertible source when it comes to historical truth.

      • Yuval August 13, 2010, 7:52 PM

        @ richard

        The right of return and other issues are exactly why there should be no precondition by anyone in order to return to the negotiation table.

        you and others who are saying that the Palestinian shouldn’t give away this right or the other right while trying to paint a one sided picture about the suffering of people of both sides, are providing ill service to establishing a fair and stable solution accepted by both sides.

        • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 13, 2010, 8:02 PM

          It is for the Palestinians to decide whether they are willing to make any concessions regarding their right of return to their homes and land inside what is now Israel. I realize this will not be possible in every instance, but if they cannot or choose not to return, they must receive just compensation.

          Nobody is saying Jewish people haven’t suffered terribly throughout the history of the world. Other people have suffered as much or more, but the holocaust which killed millions of people, a good percentage of them Jewish, is something that can never be explained or justified. But it has little to do with the suffering which has been inflicted on the people of Palestine since the State of Israel was formed. So in the context of Israel/Palestine there is really only one side that has suffered. To try to justify what has been done to the Palestinians by recalling earlier suffering of Jews inflicted by other people is obscene and immoral.

          Even if I accept that Jews were expelled from the land of Palestine thousands of years ago, I don’t think it is relevant today.

          • Yuval August 14, 2010, 3:00 AM

            @ Mary

            i am always interested in learning new facts, so would you be kind enough to tell me who suffered “the same or more” throughout history then the jews ? who else was prosecuted for their believe and their being in such a way ? from the Edict of Expulsion(in England!) via the Spanish inquisition via the Khmelnytsky Uprising until the Holocaust.

            it is extremely generous of you to finally admit that Jews were expelled from their land, thousand of years ago. only thing left is for you to explain why it is not relevant today.

            As i have been taught in school those who apply one set of rules to one group of people, and another set of rules to a different group of people are simply racist.

            I’m sure that you are not racist.

          • Richard Silverstein August 14, 2010, 11:36 PM

            would you be kind enough to tell me who suffered “the same or more” throughout history then the jews ?

            This is the stupidest, lamest game I’ve heard in a long time & I would ask Mary or anyone else not to reply to this provocation. This blog is not in the business of measuring out ethnic suffering by teaspoons to determine who suffered most. If that’s you game, do it somewhere else. I’m not in the business of point scoring or keeping a scorecard of everyone’s suffering.

          • mary August 14, 2010, 4:27 AM

            Yuval, why should the world, particularly the Palestinians, be responsible to compensate or pay for historical Jewish “suffering”?

          • Deïr Yassin August 14, 2010, 5:52 AM

            @ Yuval)
            “Who has suffered the same or more than the Jews ?”

            Here we go for another round of the World Championship of the Greatest Suffering”.

            Well, the competition is tough, and human suffering is not comparable – “The pain of a mother losing a child is worth all the suffering in the world” – but I would say that the Native peoples of the Americas have paid a pretty high price since 1492, and I think Africans being brought into slavery for centuries might give you a good fight till the end too. But if you prefer dwelling in ‘your’ suffering, you’re welcome.

          • mary August 14, 2010, 8:38 AM

            The right of return also has to do with the right of diaspora Palestinians to even visit their homeland. If they give up that right, they can be denied entry visas and can be prevented from visiting friends and family in Palestine. As it is, there are many in the diaspora who are not allowed to visit, including many that were expelled by the Israelis. These situations would remain unchanged if the right of return is given up.

  • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 14, 2010, 8:32 AM

    Yuval:
    “i am always interested in learning new facts, so would you be kind enough to tell me who suffered “the same or more” throughout history then the jews ?”

    I had meant to write that Hitler’s murder of millions, half of them because they were Jewish, is undoubtedly the most horrendous example in modern history. I would never minimize or try to rationalize what happened to those millions of innocent men, women and children. This is indisputable. Nobody could blame members of any of the groups whose numbers were decimated by the holocaust for their outrage.

    I hope we all are agreed that nothing of its equal should ever be allowed to happen again, to Jews or to any other group of people.

  • mary August 14, 2010, 8:51 AM

    Why do some Zionists need to be the winners in the “suffering contest” they themselves devise? I mean, what a question – asking who has suffered “as much as the Jews,” as though suffering in the past justifies inflicting suffering in the present. How sad that Jewish suffering has transmogrified into Jewish narcissism and exploitation of the holocaust dead. Even sadder still is that the Palestinians are the ones to be victimized by this narcissism and exploitation.

    Mahmoud Darwish:

    [To a killer] If you had contemplated the victim’s face
    And thought it through, you would have remembered your mother in the
    Gas chamber, you would have been freed from the reason for the rifle
    And you would have changed your mind: this is not the way
    to find one’s identity again.

  • mplo August 15, 2010, 6:11 AM

    The fact that Netanyahu rejected the idea of an Israeli pull-back to pre-1967 borders, and the evacuation of their rightwing Israeli Jewish settlers from West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem is beyond disgraceful. Israelis should vote him out and elect somebody who’s more flexible and willing to pull out of the Occupied Territories and allow the Palestinians their independence, sovereignity and self-determination in the form of their own nation-state alongside Israel, and NOT in place of it, as many people want. That, as I see it, is the only safe, sane and sensible solution to this seemingly untractable decades-old debacle.

  • Bob August 20, 2010, 5:04 PM

    Second. I agree with Richard. There will be no peace agreement in this generation because the Palestinians will not give up on the “right” of return.

    Those of you who say “but the Palestinians have a right under international law to return to Israel”. OK, just to get it out of the way, no they don’t. Now, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that they did have such a right.

    OK, so you are an Israeli leader, International law says Palestinians have the right to return. You know that if you give it to them, Israel will cease to exist, the Jews will rapidly become second class citizens, and will be expelled or exterminated within a few decades. Don’t kid yourself, that’s what happened to almost all of the Hindus in Pakistan, that’s what would happen to the Jews in Israel if the Palestinians took over.

    So, do you obey an International law that would lead to the death of your country, and the expulsion or extermination of you, your family, and all your people?

    If you think the answer is “yes”, then you should seek professional help, because you are delusional.

    So, even if the Palestinians alone among all refugees and descendants of refugees on Earth had this right, Israel still couldn’t afford to give in.

    As I said, I agree with Richard that the Palestinians won’t give in either, which makes the upcoming peace talks doomed to failure. As well as any other peace talks until the Palestinians realize that clinging to this mythical right of return is just hurting themselves.

    Basically, there are three ways the conflict can end:
    1) The Palestinians realize that half a loaf is better than none, and give up the right of return. Peace happens relatively quickly.
    2) The Palestinians, or some other Arab/Muslim group defeats Israel and exterminates the Jews there. Which would also mean a couple of hundred nukes getting launched at the Arab/Muslim countries by Israel, and possibly by the U.S., depending on the circumstances.
    3) Israel stops being so moral and does in reality what its critics falsely accuse it of and commits genocide against the Palestinians.

    I’m hoping for 1, but I think 2 is more likely. 3 is extremely unlikely. Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure the status quo will continue for a long time before any of them happens. If the Palestinian leadership starts actively trying to convince their people to give up the right of return, they might be ready for peace in a generation or two. Meanwhile, rhetoric aside, no Arab or Muslim country wants an all out war with a nuclear power, so destroying Israel is out. And if the Israelis have held on to their morality for 60 years in a region where actual genocide (not just a few hundred civilian casualties in an urban war zone) is common, they are unlikely to lose it anytime soon.

    • Richard Silverstein August 20, 2010, 11:00 PM

      I agree with Richard. There will be no peace agreement in this generation because the Palestinians will not give up on the “right” of return.

      Say WHAT? What are you talkin’ about? I never said this or anything remotely near it unless you’re talking about another “Richard.” In fact, there will be a peace agreement (though I don’t know when), & it will happen much sooner than a generation fr. now. Palestinians will not have to “give up” the Right of Return since implementing it in a nuanced way will be a key part of the selling of the agreement to Palestinians.

      I’m simply not prepared to argue over issues we’ve been over about a half million times or so. Right of Return is one of them. So this is yr last comment on the subject. I can see fr. a mile away you’re just itchin’ to get into a knock down drag out debate about that. But it’s not gonna happen. If this is the debate you need to have, you’ll do it somewhere else. Don’t test me or doubt me. Further pursuit of the issue here will result in moderating or losing yr comment privileges.

      You know that if you give it to them, Israel will cease to exist

      I know nothing of the sort because this claim is outright foolishness.

      Jews will rapidly become second class citizens

      Um, you mean something like the Israeli Palestinians who currently are 2nd class citizens???

      will be expelled or exterminated within a few decades

      This is a place for intelligent debate, not warped stupid debate. If those are your beliefs then you don’t belong here. How did you come here anyway? I think you turn a sharp right turn somewhere & got way lost.

      that’s what happened to almost all of the Hindus in Pakistan

      Uh, no. The Hindus of Pakistan actually were forced to move to India and not exterminated. But I notice you conveniently omitted the Muslims of India of which there are many. Those who remained after 1948 weren’t expelled or exterminated. Doesn’t fit yr scenario though does it?

      do you obey an International law that would lead to the death of your country, and the expulsion or extermination of you, your family, and all your people?

      International laws & adhering to them do not lead to the death of countries or expulsion or extermination of anyone. Give me a single example of this if you can.

      you should seek professional help, because you are delusional.

      I don’t know if you need professional help, but you ARE delusionsal.

      I think 2 is more likely.

      I do so love idiots like this who remind me of Gen. Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove. They’re just itching for Armageddon, big fireworks & lots of dead bodies stacked like cordwood. As long is it’s not them or their families let Israelis & Arabs nuke & duke it out. Let the nukes fly. What utter moronism.

      if the Israelis have held on to their morality for 60 years in a region where actual genocide (not just a few hundred civilian casualties in an urban war zone) is common, they are unlikely to lose it anytime soon.

      Still delusional but I’m feeling less & less sure you don’t need some sort of professional help.

      My trigger finger is itching, so know that you are on a short leash. Meaning read my comment rules & follow my direction above. If not, face the consequences.

      • Bob August 23, 2010, 11:42 AM

        As to my agreeing with you about there won’t be peace. I was referring to your statement (on this same comment page).

        “Palestinians will not give up the Right of REturn, period. So if that’s what you believe will be required for peace you can kiss that little baby goodbye for a few generations or until either Israel or Palestine is obliterated.”

        I’m sorry about not being more detailed before. Your quote says that the Palestinians will not give in on the right of return. It is just so clear to me that the Israelis will not give in on the right of return that I fell victim to the inability to see the other person’s position because their assumptions are so alien to my own.

        Now I understand that you assume that the Israelis will give in on the right of return. I know that they will not.

        I would like to hear more details about the nuanced way of implementing the Right of Return you are talking about. Are there limits on the numbers of Palestinians who can return? What happens when a Palestinian says “this land that an Israeli is living on belonged to my Grandfather”? Does the Israeli get kicked off the land?

        Past Israeli governments have indicated that a limited right of return could be part of a peace agreement. No past Palestinian leader that I am aware of has indicated that anything less than a full 100% right to return of every Palestinian or descendant of a Palestinian to Israel and reacquisition of the land they left would be acceptable to the Palestinians. The way I found your blog was googling to see whether that had changed.

        I’m not trolling, we just have very different views on the situation. I’m not looking for a debate, I’m trying to see whether there is any chance of peace. I’m trying to understand the positions on the Palestinian side.

        I hope there will be peace, but your assumption that the Israelis will eventually give in on the right of return discourages that hope.

        The “you” I was referring to in “you know that your people will be exterminated” was the generic “you”, or rather the generic Israeli leader, not “you Richard Silverstein”. Whether you, Richard Silverstein, or me, or Abbas, or anybody else believe that the Palestinians intend genocide if they ever take over will not change what the Israeli leader is going to do and agree to. He (or she) will act on the basis of what he knows to be true and what he believes to be true. I realize that it can be hard to understand where the other person is coming from when it is so far from your own beliefs (happened to me here), but you won’t understand the situation unless you realize that to the Israelis, Palestinians in charge of Israel means 100% chance that most or all of the Jews will be dead or expelled. With that in mind, do you think they are going to let the Palestinians return?

        As to the Hindus in Pakistan, after partition there were still a significant number of Hindus in Pakistan. Since then their numbers have declined to under 2% of the population (and dropping) through massacres, forced conversions, expulsions, and “voluntary” leaving in the face of massive violations of their civil rights.

        The Muslim population of India is about 13% (and increasing) and their rights are protected by law. So, Hindus are disappearing from Pakistan and Muslims are thriving in India.

        The Palestinians aren’t Hindus. We aren’t talking about whether minority rights (including the right not to be rounded up and exterminated) are safe in Hindu countries, we are talking about whether they are safe in Muslim majority countries. So how does the fact that India’s Muslims aren’t persecuted help your claim that Jews in a Muslim controlled Israel wouldn’t be persecuted?

        Given the persecution of minorities in every Muslim majority country in the world (some more than others). Is it surprising that the Jews in Israel don’t want to hand their fates over to the Palestinians?

        The reason International laws don’t lead to the deaths of countries is because the real international laws (unlike the ones that Palestinians and their supporters seek to apply to Israel) take national interest in survival into account. Also because all countries ignore international law when obeying it would seriously harm their interests.

        I’m not itching for Armageddon. I think the end of the (human) world would be the greatest tragedy in history. I don’t know whether there is an afterlife and I don’t assume that God would interfere or save us from ourselves. I also don’t assume that nuclear war would be confined to the Middle East. If the Iranians or other enemies of the U.S. get the bomb before they destroy Israel (and trigger their own destruction), the nuclear exchange could well spread to the U.S., as would the environmental damage from 200 or so nuclear weapons going off in the Middle East.

        Peter Sellers (or whoever wrote it) came up with the idea of the end of the world scenario in Dr. Strangelove, that doesn’t mean he was in favor of it.

        The destruction of Israel would be bad for the whole world. But that’s what the long term result of a lack of peace would be. I don’t say these things because I want them to happen, these are predictions, not wishes.

        As for banning me, it is your blog, so that is your right. However, if you are trying to repair the world (Tikun Olam), talking only to people who agree with you will not help. You will all just agree that Israel is the unreasonable badguy and be unable to understand why the peace talks fail, over and over. Shoot the messenger (like George W. Bush used to do) who brings you news you don’t like to hear and no one will say anything you don’t want to hear. That works in the sense of shielding you from unpleasant news, but it also means that you won’t know what is going wrong or why. In a leader, it makes for disasters for a country (see G.W.B.). In a commentator or activist, it leads to irrelevance because the only people who can follow their logic are people who already agree with them.

        • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 23, 2010, 12:02 PM

          Same old same old: “The destruction of Israel……” when in fact I don’t hear anybody speaking of the destruction of Israel. Ending the “Jewish State” is not the same thing as the destruction of Israel. Ending apartheid in South Africa didn’t destroy South Africa, and ending segregation in the United States didn’t destroy the U.S.

          Why must zionists (and their apologists) continue to pretend that anybody has threatened to kill Jews, or Israelis?

          As for suggesting that there is any parity between Palestinians insisting on their right of return, and Zionists insisting they can’t have it, there is none. All that needs to happen is for everybody to comply with international law and a host of U.N. resolutions. Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinians to return to the homes and land from which they were driven in what became Israel has always been illegal. It doesn’t really matter how Israel feels about it. It’s the law. And even more ludicrous when one listens to the endless claims that Jews are entitled to live on land occupied by Palestinians because they “left or were forced to leave 3000 years ago.” Israelis are entitled to live on Israeli land (as of 1948) because they were granted that right (with limitations which they immediately disregarded) and not because of any biblical promises. How’s that for “right of return” that isn’t even supported by international law?

          • Bob August 23, 2010, 7:26 PM

            Well, Mary, that is a semantic game. In much the same way that an all-out nuclear war would not technically be the “end of the world”, because the world would still be here in some form, the takeover of Israel by the Palestinians would not be the end of “Israel”. The name would be there until they changed it, the land longer than that. The Jews would be mostly dead or fled, any that remained would be a heavily persecuted minority group, but the “country” would still be there. Much like the Roman Empire is still there (the land anyway).

            As for South Africa and the segregated U.S., bad analogies. The blacks in South Africa and America were citizens denied equal rights under the law. The Palestinians are mostly not citizens of Israel. The Israeli Arabs do have equal rights under the law.

            The blacks in South Africa and America also didn’t have “exterminate the whites” on their list of goals (Hamas has “exterminate the Jews” in their charter). Ending Apartheid wasn’t surrendering to a genocidal external enemy, it was giving fellow citizens equal rights.

            America is a great success story in terms of the effects of ending segregation. Of course, the blacks in America weren’t a genocide minded majority, like the Palestinians in Israel would be.

            Even without the majority being genocidal, South Africa has had a hard time adapting. Though once it was blacks doing the oppressing and killing, the West stopped paying attention. Apartheid ended in 1994. In 1995 and 1998, S.A. had the highest murder rate in the world. In the 16 years since Apartheid ended, between 500,000 and one million whites have left, out of a population of about 5 million. S.A. had the highest rates of rape and assault in the world in 1998-2000 and the highest rate of child and baby rape in the world. 31% of pregnant women have HIV, 20% of all adults have it, in part because the government spent years denying the connection between HIV and AIDS. S.A. has 1.2 million orphans (many due to AIDS). The human development index of S.A. has dropped steadily since 1994. Apartheid had to go, but the post Apartheid picture doesn’t exactly suggest that post surrender Israel would be a nice place to live.

            As for Israel’s refusal to allow them to return being illegal, there is no point in arguing about it. I’ve never seen an argument that it was illegal that didn’t rely on “laws” that were actually non-binding General Assembly suggestions, or parroting groups without the authority to rule on whether something was illegal. Basically, all arguments that it is illegal boil down to “because someone with no authority to say so, says so”.

            But I’ll turn it around on you. It doesn’t matter whether it is the law (it isn’t the law BTW) it matters what countries are willing to use force to get. If the Arabs/Muslims had the power to destroy Israel, they would do it, whether Israel was doing anything illegal or not. They don’t have the power, so legal or not, Israel stays.

            The Israelis weren’t granted the “right of return” because their ancestors left 3000 years ago (many of them did leave, but that’s not why there is an Israel now). They were granted the right because the then dominant power in the region either let them return or couldn’t stop them.

            Israel exists for the same reason all countries exist. A group of people who saw themselves as one nation moved into a piece of land, declared independence and a new government, and won a war to make it stick.

            It’s the same reason the U.S. isn’t part of Britain. So if Israel is illegal, so is the U.S., and the U.K. (England was illegally taken over by James VI of Scottland in 1603). And Japan, the present Japanese took the land from the Ainu.

            In Israel the “Jewish” partition had a Jewish majority. The rest of the inhabitants could have joined them as one nation. Actually, some of them did, which is why Israel is 20% Arab. Most of the Arabs chose to try to wipe the Jews out rather than live in a majority Jewish country. That or they fled from the fighting started by those who tried to wipe the Jews out.

            The Arabs attempted to commit genocide rather than live in a majority Jewish country. Physically, militarily, the Israelis could have done the same to the Arabs left in Israel. They chose to let them become citizens instead. Remind me why Israel is the bad guy in that mix?

            Please spare me the lies about how the “no one has tried to kill the Jews”. that was the stated intent of the Arabs when Israel was founded (they killed thousands in the months between the U.N. declaration and the Israeli declaration of Independence), when they massed on the borders during the 6-day war, in the Yom Kippur War. The only reason the Jews in Israel are still alive is that the Arabs failed in their attempts to kill them.

            The Arabs who fought lost and got kicked out, like the Royalists after the Revolution in America.

            That’s how countries are founded. It’s not pretty and it’s not nice, but it is the way the world works, and always has.

            “All revolutions are illegal in the third person–THEIR revolution; it is only in the first person–OUR revolution–that they are legal.” – Ben Franklin

            Don’t take my word for it, go read about the founding of just about any country. Read some history that is older than the 20th Century.

            I find it fascinating that people think that “law” works the same way between countries as it does between individuals within a country. The words may be the same “law”, “judge”, “court”, but international law and national law are very different animals. In national law, you have a (ideally) impartial system of police and an (ideally) impartial judiciary. That is, if the judge finds for you, it doesn’t benefit him, if he finds against you, it also doesn’t benefit him.

            In a democratic republic (like the U.S., Israel, Britain, etc.), the laws are made by the votes of the representatives elected by the people.

            International law isn’t like that. It isn’t set down from on high by a government, like it or lump it. It is a series of treaties and agreements. Many of them don’t even have a provision for “what to do if we differ in how we interpret them”. Basically, the enforcement mechanism is that if one side thinks the other side isn’t holding up its end of a treaty, the other country doesn’t hold up it’s end of the treaty.

            There is no international equivalent of a legislature, or objective courts, or objective policemen. The U.N. is a body made of diplomats all out for the best interests of their own countries and to hell with anyone else. They consistently vote against Israel because there are about 70 Muslim/Arab countries, who always vote against Israel. Out of the remaining 120 or so countries, at least 30 will be so terrified of another oil embargo or terrorist attacks that they would go with the Arabs/Muslims even if they were the deciding vote. That puts a majority against Israel every time. So Israel automatically loses every vote in the UN General Assembly. Once Israel is certain to lose a vote, why would anyone want to piss off the Muslims and Arabs by voting in support of Israel? It won’t help Israel, they already lost the vote. All it will do is make the Arabs/Muslims mad at your country.

            There is no international equivalent of a Constitution to grant or limit the powers of the non-existent “international government” and even if there were, the “judges” of the international “courts” are appointed by the same self-interested countries in the U.N. They vote the interests of their countries. And given the choice of pissing off 1.5 billion Muslims by standing up for what is actually written in treaties that no one is going to enforce anyway, they would rather just rubber stamp “Israel is wrong” on any conflict that comes before them.

            Oh, and Israel is complying with International Law. Just not the made up version of International Law that it’s enemies want it to. If I made up a law of my “right to all your money” that said you have to give me all your money, would you obey it just because I said it was the law? If so, great, because I did make up that law, so you are now illegally withholding my “right to your money”.

            Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? That’s exactly how you sound to the Israelis, Jews, and anyone who actually understands International Law, when you talk about “International law” supporting the “right of return”.

          • Bob August 23, 2010, 8:44 PM

            Oh, BTW, the Franklin quote was from the play 1776, I don’t know whether the real B.F. said it.

          • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 23, 2010, 9:09 PM

            Bob:
            The examples I gave were not meant to be analogies for the situation in Israel/Palestine, but were suggested as instances where great changes were made in the interests of justice without the offending nations becoming extinct.

            I agree with you that if Israel finds itself without the majority it claims it must have, many of its Jewish citizens will be unwilling to accept a state where they have to accept being treated as equals. To those who might decide to leave on that basis, I say good riddance.

            As far as non-Jewish citizens of Israel having equal rights now, we both know that is not true at all. As far as the Hamas Charter saying it wants to “exterminate the Jews” I confess I haven’t been able to find that in the Hamas Charter. It actually says very little about Jews, but does insist on its right and its intention to resist the zionist invasion. (And if we want to actually look at who has been exterminating whom, it’s clear from the death counts that more innocent Palestinian men, women and children have died than Israelis.)

            I understand perfectly that within the Palestinian resistance movement, including the militant wing of Hamas, the words Israel/Zionists/Jews are perhaps used too interchangeably. But then as a child growing up in wartime England we all considered the “Germans” and later the “Japanese” to be evil. I suspect there wasn’t much affection expressed for them in the U.S. either. That’s what happens in a war. Not all Germans or Japanese were our enemies; not all Jews are the enemies of Palestine (witness the increasing numbers of Jewish and Israeli supporters of the Palestinian cause) and not all Palestinians are enemies of Israel. I would suggest that even more disgusting threats against “Arabs” are made by some Israelis, Zionists and Jews — even by some of Israel’s present and past leaders. Much of it is rhetoric, but I guess only zionists are allowed to direct racist comments and threats against people who criticize them as merely rhetoric.

            As far as either side being genocidal, it might surprise you to know that millions of people around the world see Israel as the side with genocidal ambitions, yet you blithely determine that “Palestinians in Israel would be (genocidal)”

            “It doesn’t matter whether it is the law (it isn’t the law BTW) it matters what countries are willing to use force to get.”

            Oh, really? So the law doesn’t apply when it is Israel that breaks it? You are saying “Might is right?” I hate to break it to you, but the world doesn’t accept the old “right of conquest” excuse any longer. When the US and its allies conquered Germany and Japan in WWII, they didn’t move their own citizens to Germany and Japan, hoist the Stars and Stripes or the Union Jack and call it America or Britain or whatever.

            “Read some history that is older than the 20th Century”
            I think you need to stop living in the dark ages. As I wrote above, it just don’t work that way any longer. Sorry.

            I’m not even going to get into all your feeble excuses for Israel’s continued violations of international law. They are just too pathetic. Clearly you are so deeply steeped in zionism that it isn’t possible to reason with you. I feel quite sorry for you, actually, because when Israel does end up destroyed as a Jewish State, and it is well on its way to making that happen, you won’t understand how it all came to pass.

            I have so many friends in Israel, Jewish and Palestinian and Christian, that I shudder to think how many innocent lives will be lost along the way, but my friends tell me it will all be worth it when the Jewish State is truly history.

            I pray I will live to see it; an Israel/Palestinian state where people of all faiths and colors can live together in peace and friendship.

          • bob August 24, 2010, 5:00 PM

            @Mary

            I said that if the Palestinians ever become a majority, the Jews will be murdered or driven out, not that they would “have to accept being treated as equals”.

            If they were treated as equals, it would be the first time any Muslim majority country treated a minority group as equals. If you object to that statement, name one Muslim majority country where non-Muslim minorities are treated as equals. Don’t dodge it or ignore it. Name one or admit that you can’t. So the Jews in Israel are supposed to put their head on the chopping block in the hope that the Palestinians who elected the Hamas “kill all Jews” organization are magically going to go from 83% support for murdering innocent Israelis to singing “kumbaya”?

            As for Hamas’ charter: “Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”

            I’m surprised you couldn’t find it. I just googled a copy and searched for “Jews”.

            As for “millions of people think that Israel is genocidal”. Well, millions of people also think the Sun goes around the Earth, that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, that Astrology is real, that Jesus is God, that Jesus isn’t God, that there is a God, that there isn’t a God (they can’t both be right). Pick just about any question you would care to ask. Millions of people would give you the wrong answer.

            I prefer to look at the facts, rather than the ill informed opinions of millions of ignorant people. The fact is that the Palestinian populations of the West Bank and Gaza have steadily increased since 1948. No dips, no massive death rate at any time. Did you not know that, or were you hoping the people reading your post didn’t?

            As to whether the Palestinians are genocidal, they say they will keep fighting until Israel is destroyed and that they will kill all the Jews (if given the chance). Their prior history supports those claims. They have no hesitation about murdering innocent people. Palestinians who murder civilians with absolutely no military objective are hailed as heroes.

            “I’m so proud of my father (or brother, or cousin) for blowing up a busload of your children with no military target in sight. Hey, mind if I kick your neighbor out of the house my Great-grandfather owned 60 years ago and move next door to you? I don’t promise not to kill you.” Is not exactly a good sales pitch.

            All kidding aside, if someone said that to you what would you answer?

            BTW, lets take as read that you made a comparison to the Stern Gang and other groups that are hailed as heroes in Israel for their non-terrorist acts and that I pointed out that Palestinians venerate people whose sole notable act was the murder of innocents, not just fighters who also committed a terrorist act.

            Most of the “International laws” that Israel is accused of breaking are made up for the purpose of having something to accuse Israel of. They don’t exist as international laws for any other country. The interpretations of actual international laws that are used to condemn Israel are such mockeries of the laws themselves that no one would even try to apply them in any context except to attack Israel before a prejudiced court.

            Anything based on General Assembly resolutions? Sorry, not International law. Not by a long shot. No one would even try to claim they were laws if applied to any country but Israel.

            The General Assembly has no authority to make international law.

            So delete any argument that Israel violated international law based on “Israel General Assembly resolution whatever”.

            The point of “it doesn’t matter what the law is”, is not “Israel is above the law”. It was “You are wrong that the law requires Israel to commit suicide, but even if you were right, Israel isn’t going to commit suicide”.

            Since the question was “will a peace agreement be made”. The issue is “what will the sides do”, not “what does the interpretation of international law by one side or the other say the sides should do”.

            Israel isn’t going to commit suicide based on your misinterpretation of international law. In your mind you can change “misinterpretation” to “correct interpretation”, but the statement would still be true. Israel isn’t going to commit suicide. Allowing an unlimited right of return would be suicide. You may be so naive as to think the Palestinians alone out of all Muslim majority populations on the planet would allow equal rights to a Jewish minority under their control. Israel isn’t that naive. Democratically elected Hamas threw Fatah members out of windows in multistory buildings. If they brutally murdered Muslims for being part of the wrong party, what makes you think they will be any more merciful to the Jews?

        • Richard Silverstein August 23, 2010, 10:31 PM

          Bob: Shorter comments, pls. Brevity is the soul of wit, or at least it avoids long drawn out boring comments.

          you assume that the Israelis will give in on the right of return. I know that they will not.

          I’ll put what I know against what you know on this subject any day. When there is a peace agreement you will find that it follows the outlines of the Geneva Accord, which outlines very precisely what type of Right of Return will be recognized by Israel. And it will.

          Are there limits on the numbers of Palestinians who can return?

          Google Geneva Accords, read up on it. It’s a very interesting document. Yes, there are limits. But I’m not precisely sure how those limits are defined. I remember reading the number 25,000 but I’m not sure whether that is an overall number of an annual number over a period of time.

          No past Palestinian leader that I am aware of has indicated that anything less than a full 100% right to return of every Palestinian or descendant of a Palestinian to Israel and reacquisition of the land they left would be acceptable to the Palestinians.

          How many Palestinian leaders are you aware of? I doubt very many. Palestinian leaders certainly aren’t going to publicly renounce the Right of Return or even qualify their support of it at the beginning of any bargaining process (or really before one has begun). The fact that you blithely believe you should’ve heard a Palestinian leader do so indicates a certain naivete & lack of understanding of the Palestinian position.

          to the Israelis, Palestinians in charge of Israel means 100% chance that most or all of the Jews will be dead or expelled

          In a true democracy, the majority isn’t necessarily in control in the way you fear. Nor would international powers allow any future Israeli majority to do what you claim Israelis fear. A democratic Israel will not be like Nazi Germany in which a totalitarian leader (whether Jewish or Palestinian) can work a plan of extermination. No, it will be a democracy in which different ethnic groups, political parties, etc. vie for power. That power will not be only in the hands of the majority. The minority will have powers too.

          I object to yr notion that all Muslim nations act as a unitary force & treat minorities the same. I also object to yr notion that even if Israel’s Muslims become a majority that they will rule as if Israel was a Muslim nation. That is simply beyond far fetched.

          • Bob August 25, 2010, 10:41 PM

            Palestinian leaders? There’s Abbas (Fatah). Haniye (Hamas), the late Nazzir Rayan (Hamas) and innumerable statements by innumerable legislators, administrators, etc. You don’t have to memorize their names to read “Administrator So and So said X”, Minister of Terrorism Whatshisname said Y. The official such and such body of generating a new Fatah platform said “eternal fighting, hooray terrorism”. I read a lot of news reports about what officials in Hamas and Fatah are saying. So far, not one report that even hints that they might possibly give up the right of return. Not counting one supposed statement to that effect by a Hamas official to some Western civilian, which was categorically and angrily denied by the official the next day.

            Well, one exception, Sari Nusseibeh, PLO representative in Jerusalem. I don’t count him because he didn’t say it while in an official position, and they fired him pretty fast.

            Who’s talking about “publicly renounce” or “the beginning of any bargaining process”. Sorry, but do you even read what you write? The Israelis have acknowledged that removing some of the settlements is on the table, that doesn’t mean they have to do it. They could say “given the right terms, we are willing to limit the right of return”. That doesn’t obligate them to anything. They can always say “the terms weren’t right”. As for “the beginning”, these aren’t the first peace talks. They aren’t even the tenth peace talks. In none of the peace talks has any Palestinian leader wavered from 100% right of return and we get the land back, the current owners have to move.

            Honestly, you should be a “psychic”, you have a million excuses for not performing what should be a very simple task if your claims were true.

            In a true Democracy, majority rules, by definition. There aren’t any true Democracies. The U.S. is a Constitutionally limited Republic with democratically elected representatives.

            If the Palestinians become a majority, it would go much like the last Palestinian elections. One man, one vote, one time. The winners then execute the losers and don’t bother holding further elections.

            Frankly, I am not surprised at how naive some people are about “the Constitution protects us”. The Constitution is a piece of paper (well, probably vellum). Lots of corrupt dictatorships have just as good Constitutions. What protects us is a common respect for the rule of law. Enough people in and out of government are willing to obey the law enough of the time that our society works.

            A lot of countries have no such respect for the rule of law. The government obeys the leader, not the law. A constitution really is just a piece of paper to them.

            Funny you should bring up Nazi Germany. The Nazis came to power through the democratic processes of Germany. Much like Gaza is now. Why would Israel be any different after the Palestinians took over? What’s to stop them?

            How’s that “vying for power” going for Fatah in Gaza?

            I never said Muslim nations act as a unitary force. The Shias hate the Sunis almost as much as most of them hate Israel. They don’t all treat minorities the same. They just all treat minorities badly. Why wouldn’t a Muslim majority in Israel rule as if Israel was a Muslim nation? It would be.

            I’ll ask again. Can you name one single Muslim majority country where everyone has equal rights?

    • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 20, 2010, 11:34 PM

      @Bob
      “1) The Palestinians realize that half a loaf is better than none, and give up the right of return. Peace happens relatively quickly.”

      How about “The Israelis realize that all of the loaf they were gifted with in 1947 is better than none, and give up their obsession with land conquest and ethnic cleansing”?

      • Bob August 23, 2010, 12:28 PM

        In 1947, the Israelis and the Arabs were each offered a country in which they would be in a majority. The Israelis accepted the deal, the Arabs rejected the deal.

        IOW. “We had a deal”. “That was before you broke the deal and tried to kill me for my share”.

        Lots of things in life are “take the deal or take your chances”, not “take your chances then take the deal if you lose”.

        For example, basic rule of contracts, if there is an offer on the table, and you reject it, the offer is no longer on the table. You can try to come back later and say “OK, I’ll take it”, but the other guy doesn’t have to give it to you.

        Or think of a plea bargain. The D.A. isn’t sure he will win and a trial is a long and costly process, so he offers the accused a deal. The accused can’t go to trial, lose, and come back later and take the deal as though he never tried to fight.

        Seriously, if land and sovereignty claims are in dispute (which they were in 1947) do you really think it’s fair for the side which rejects a settlement offer and tries to kill the other side to get the same terms they would have gotten if they had accepted the offer?

        Think about it in generic terms. Group A attacks Group B with intent to take Group B’s land, instead Group A loses their land to Group B. Should Group A get their land back? If they do, how will that affect Group A’s calculations the next time they think they are strong enough to take Group B’s land. Under those rules, where is the downside in attacking Group B?

        Very few Israelis have an obsession with land conquest and ethnic cleansing. That’s why 20% of Israeli citizens are non-Jewish Arabs. Also why there have been non-Jewish Arabs in every Knesset since Israel was founded. What percentage of the citizens of any Muslim majority country are Jewish? So who are the ethnic cleansers?

        • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 23, 2010, 12:43 PM

          So you (and apparently a lot of others) think you should be entitled to everybody’s share? Nice dream, but it will never fly. The Palestinians have given up far too much already, and they have had enough. They are very patient, and they believe that in the end the zionists will destroy themselves or leave the land so that Jews and Christians and Muslims and people of other or no religion will live together in peace.

          Until then I suppose zionists and a succession of Israel’s leaders will continue to pretend that everything they have done and are doing to the Palestinians is done in the name of “security,” when the world increasingly sees it as just plain greed.

          • Bob August 23, 2010, 8:33 PM

            I, and pretty much everybody else on the planet, thinks that if someone tries to kill me for my share, it is only fair that I take his.

            “Patient” is not a term I associate with Palestinians. If they had been patient, they could have let Israel come into existence without trying to kill the Jews. They would have had a demographic majority by now.

            It really comes down to whether they prefer to spend the next several generations fighting a battle that they can’t win, or making a better life for themselves and their children.

            Put more simply: Palestinians, would you rather keep fighting Israel’s control over your lives, or end Israel’s control over your lives?

            Because the longer you fight, the longer Israel will keep control. Regardless of how the fight started, if someone has knocked you down, you aren’t going to convince him to let you up until you agree to stop trying to kill him once he does. So far, the Palestinians’ best offer has been a hudna, followed by a resumption of their attacks once they have gained strength. Pass.

          • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 23, 2010, 9:35 PM

            OK I’ll make one more go-around, though it’s clearly a waste of time and energy. I think you have history a bit mixed up. Certainly the Palestinians who had been living on the land for generations didn’t much like it when zionists moved in, and there was some resistance. But nothing like the deliberately planned and well documented plans of the zionists to disregard the rules under which they had been allowed to move to Palestine: To do nothing to interfere with the lives of the people already living there. In their zeal to make good on their claim that Palestine was “a land without people” tvvvhey immediately embarked upon a program of ethnically cleansing the land of its indigenous population, by slaughtering some and driving off the rest. And please don’t repeat the old lie about the Palestinians running away because they were told to do so by all those Arab countries we keep hearing about — you know, the ones who supposedly say they want to “drive the Jews into the sea”. Which by the way has never been verified as originating from any other source than an Israeli leader, most likely so that it could be repeated over and over (by Zionists) as being a threat. I have actually never heard it being attributed to any of Israel’s detractors.

            If Israel is not stopped, and soon, the bloodbath among the Palestinians will continue unabated. So long as the US is Israel’s lapdog, nothing will change. Of course Israel has the power, financed by Uncle Sam. But the U.S. has lost much it the respect and esteem it enjoyed around the world for a very long time. Empires never last, and America’s is not in very good shape. Without America, Israel will be lost. They have money and power and a ruthlessness that can’t be overlooked. They have a heavily armed military machine willing to drop white phosphorous bombs on Palestinian babies, and half-ton bombs on an apartment building filled with women and children, just in the hope they might also kill a “terrorist” who wasn’t there by the way, so the only victims were the women and children. All of these acts are violations of international law, or war crimes if you will. What they don’t have, in my opinion, is a military with courage. I’m sure some members of the IDF are brave and convinced they are doing a good thing when they shoot a fisherman or a farmer in Gaza, or demolish a Palestinian home, or shoot an eight year old Palestinian boy in the eye with a rubber coated bullet, or hold a Palestinian woman in labor at a checkpoint deep inside the West Bank, forcing her to give birth on the cement as soldiers stand by smoking and drinking and laughing. But after seeing some of them close up and personal, and certainly after seeing the way those commandos murdered nine unarmed passengers on the Mavi Marmara and then whined that it was they themselves who were the victims, I believe they are for the most part cowards who would never be willing to fight an army that had weapons equal to their own.

            And to think that at one time I supported Israel.

          • Bob August 25, 2010, 1:57 PM

            “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades”. -Abdul Azzam – Secretary General of the Arab League when they attacked Israel at its founding.

            In each case of a supposed violation of international law, you are either misstating the facts or misstating the law.

            The Israelis didn’t drop white phosphorus bombs on babies or anybody else. They used phosphorus smoke grenades to make it harder for Hamas to see to shoot them.

            As for a half ton bomb on an apartment building filled with women and children, cite the incident. I know of a few one ton bombs dropped on buildings, but those killed the terrorist.

            If a terrorist is responsible for killing your people, and will kill more if he isn’t stopped, he is a legitimate military target. Under international law, even if the Palestinians were protected persons (which they aren’t) “The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations” -4th Geneva C.

            It’s very simple. If the Palestinians want to protect their civilians, then they should keep their terrorists, weapons storehouses, and other military targets separate from the civilian population.

            Despite the explicit statement in the Geneva Conventions about civilians not immunizing a military target, the principle of proportionality says that the number of civilian casualties can’t vastly exceed the military benefit, although there are no specific numbers that can be applied.

            Israel respects the principle of proportionality. In one case, the Israelis warned Mohammed Baroud that his house/weapons storage facility was going to be bombed in half an hour. Time enough to get the people out, but not most of the weapons. Instead of evacuating, the Palestinians put hundreds of civilians on the roof to protect the house. Given how evil you think Israel is, I bet their response will confuse you. They called off the bombing.

            So who is the immoral one? The ones who put hundreds of their own civilians in danger as human shields to protect a military target, or the ones who called off bombing a military target to protect enemy civilians?

            The Palestinians knew using human shields was win-win for them. They knew Israel probably would spare the target to avoid killing people. But, if they were wrong about that, they would have civilian casualties, which they could use to propagandize against Israel.

            Attitudes like yours that blame Israel for civilian deaths caused by the Palestinians’ deliberate mixing of civilians and military targets may actually result in more civilian deaths. People like you have created a situation in which it is to Hamas’s advantage to put innocent people in danger. The more Palestinians get killed, the more Hamas likes it. If you would put the blame where it belongs, on the terrorists who store weapons in civilian houses, booby trap civilian houses, etc., they would have less incentive to get their own people killed.

            Israel might shoot a farmer if he dresses like a terrorist and comes too close to the border. Same for a fisherman. Of course, everybody dresses like a terrorist (including you and me) because terrorists (and other Palestinian fighters) deliberately disguise themselves as civilians. That BTW actually is a war crime. It’s called “perfidy”. The reason dressing fighters up like civilians is a war crime is because then the enemy can’t give a civilian the benefit of the doubt. In other words, by being terrorists instead of uniformed soldiers, you get your own people killed.

            As for pregnant women, the Palestinians have sent pregnant women with bombs to blow up innocent people. Look up “Nezar Hindawi” he sent his pregnant girlfriend on an El Al flight with a bomb in her suitcase. Only a suspicious El Al security guard saved her life, her unborn baby, and the rest of the passengers on the flight.

            They sent a 12 year old boy into a checkpoint with a bomb in his backpack. They tried to set it off when he was searched. He’d be dead along with many other people if the detonator had worked.

            The price the Palestinians pay for turning everyone in their society into a potential human bomb is that no one in their society gets the benefit of the doubt.

            As for the passengers of the Mavi Marmara. They were armed. Do you know what they charge you with if you attack someone with a pipe, a knife, or a metal rod? Assault with a, wait for it…deadly weapon. If you ever get arrested for trying to bash someone’s brains in with a lead pipe, try telling the judge that you did attack the guy with a lead pipe, but you were unarmed, they don’t get that many laughs.

            A man with a metal pipe or a knife is not “unarmed” when he is attacking someone with them. He’s also not unarmed when he finishes attacking one person and goes looking for another without dropping the weapon. Know what the police do in countries where the police have guns when someone won’t drop the knife?

            In addition to the pipes, rods, and knives, the passengers had handguns taken from the commandos. Two Israelis were shot by the “passengers” and several others were hospitalized due to stabbings and beatings.

            I’m not sure whether you simply ignorant when you said “unarmed” or just so bigoted against Jews or Israelis that you think someone with a weapon is unarmed as long as he only uses it to attack Israelis.

            Let’s find out. Try changing your perspective. If some yob attacked you with a 1 meter metal pipe, would you describe him as “unarmed”.

            Better yet, if 20 or so Israeli settlers with knives and lead pipes attacked a group of Palestinians, would you describe the Israeli settlers as “unarmed”?

            BTW, the iron bars and pipes the “passengers” used were not improvised weapons that happened to be lying around. They were made well in advance, using cutting tools brought on board with no other purpose than making weapons out of parts of the ship.

            Notice that I don’t call the MM passengers terrorists. I don’t consider someone who attacks a military target or active duty military personnel a terrorist. Under international law, by violently resisting the commandos, the MM passengers put themselves in the same status as soldiers on a battlefield. It wasn’t a crime for them to fight the soldiers any more than it is a crime for someone from one army to fight someone from an enemy army. However, the enemy soldiers aren’t committing a crime when they fight back either.

            I know you are used to civilian law, where if someone attacks you, either he is committing a crime or you are committing a crime by fighting back (barring misunderstandings). The rules of war are different. FYI, both imposing a blockade and running one are acts of war.

            Oh, and I am glad you are smart enough not to mention the “international waters” red herring. The international laws of blockades don’t care whether you are in international waters.

            I haven’t heard any Israelis whining about being the victims. I have heard complaints about some of the media portraying the Israeli commandos as murderers when they acted entirely within the bounds of the law, killing only in self-defense, and then only after several of them had been put into critical condition. It’s actually pretty common, enemies of Israel start a fight to the death, then whine about how mean Israel is for winning it.

        • Richard Silverstein August 23, 2010, 10:36 PM

          do you really think it’s fair for the side which rejects a settlement offer and tries to kill the other side to get the same terms they would have gotten if they had accepted the offer?

          Well, if there are a hundred million of them & 6 million of you I’d say it’s incumbent on you to figure out a way to live in peace with them. If not, you have only yrself to blame for the outcome. So if you want to stand on ceremony & talk about offers & rejections & who should get how much, go ahead. I’m less interested in hypotheticals & more interested in cold hard reality & what will get us to peace.

          Very few Israelis have an obsession with land conquest and ethnic cleansing.

          Tell it to a Palestinian. I think they’d disagree vigorously.

          • Bob August 25, 2010, 2:56 PM

            A hundred million of them and 6 million of you… So it’s OK for a militarily weaker country to make unreasonable demands on a militarily stronger country if the weak country has more people in it? Should the U.S. and Europe start taking orders from China?

            Peace is a 2 way street. If the only way to “live in peace” is to let them take over your country, with no guarantee that they won’t simply kill you at that point, and with plenty of precedent for Muslim majorities oppressing and massacring minorities, then you are safer living in a cold war and fighting off the terrorist attacks.

            And no, when someone’s “peace” terms are “peace as soon as you let me kill you”, you have them to blame.

            Israel as a country can survive the terrorism, the problem is that individual Israelis can’t.

            If you are really interested in what will get us to peace, here’s how. Either convince the Palestinians to limit the right of return, or convince the Israelis that letting the Palestinians who elected Hamas take over Israel and kill all the Jews is in the best interests of the Israelis.

            Still never heard a single quote from a Palestinian leader that even suggested the possibility of limiting the right of return.

          • Mary Hughes-Thompson August 25, 2010, 3:12 PM

            Bob:
            What a complete load of tripe. The only single thing I find that may not be total fabrication (i.e. hasbara) concerns the incident I cited where a half-ton bomb was dropped to kill a member of Hamas, killing about 18 women and children who were being used as human shields by sleeping in their beds. I haven’t found a link, so I wonder if the incident actually happened in Iraq at the hands of our brave U.S. military there. If I blamed the wrong war criminals, it’s my bad.

            You admit there are many instances where IDF planes dropped one-ton bombs on apartment buildings in Gaza in the middle of the night, but in addition to hitting their intended target (with at least one recorded exception) they showed no remorse for slaughtering innocent women and children too. In fact one of Israel’s heroes, Dan Halutz, when asked how he felt about killing babies and old women this way reported that one feels only a “slight bump on the wing.” Despite the massive toll of young innocents, the attack passed Halutz’ “moral test,” and he infamously told his pilots amid the subsequent outcry to “sleep well at night,” like he does (Ha’aretz Magazine)

            I gather from your lack of concern for innocent victims you find this kind of atrocity to be perfectly kosher. It is not. Dropping a one ton bomb on an apartment building, whether or not a wanted freedom fighter (or whatever you choose to call him) is the planned target, is still a war crime when it’s known there are civilians present, even if you assassinate your target.

            As I said, everything else you write is pure bs. I will mention I have been with simple fishermen trying to earn a modest living close to the Gaza shore, with nothing on their ancient boats except fishing line, bait and a pot for brewing tea. I have been surrounded by IDF gunboats not 5 miles from shore, and been shot at. I have also been with farmers — mostly elderly women — when they tried to tend their fields in what Israel has decided is a buffer zone on the Gaza side of the Israeli border. There too I have been shot at; many people have been killed there but fortunately I was not present then. Why do you think Israel doesn’t build its buffer zones on its own side of the fence? Hmmmm. Land grab???

            As for the massacre of nine unarmed civilian passengers on board the MAVI MARMARA, in international waters, your comments are so disgusting I won’t waste my time with them. You really do make me sick.

          • Bob August 25, 2010, 11:14 PM

            I choose to call a terrorist a terrorist. Someone who targets civilians with no military benefit to the attack is a terrorist, regardless of which side he is on. Someone who attacks a military target is not. I consider the pentagon attackers of 9/11 to be war criminals (for wearing civilian clothing while engaged in military operations, among other things), not terrorists. Though the attackers of the World Trade Center were terrorists, no question.

            Playing semantic games doesn’t change the reality. Calling a murderer of civilians a “freedom fighter” doesn’t make him morally right, it just makes you a liar.

            Israel tries to minimize casualties, but sometimes the only way to be sure that your people don’t get killed by a terrorist is to kill him first. If the Palestinians don’t like it, they have a simple option. Don’t let their terrorists live in civilian buildings with innocent people.

            As I pointed out. The Geneva Conventions specifically state that the presence of protected persons (civilians of a party to the Geneva Conventions) does not immunize a military target. The incidental killing of civilians in an attack on a military target is not a war crime. Which in fact protects civilians of civilized nations in the long run because it discourages military forces from using civilians as human shields. Of course, that assumes that the enemy doesn’t actually want their civilians to get killed.

            Quit crying “war crime” where none exists.

            Reason for shooting at fishermen: Weapons smuggling boat steams by 5 miles off shore without trying to land, drops a barely floating package of explosives, local fishermen pick it up, later – boom.

            If you turn everyone in your society into a military threat, then don’t complain when they get shot at.

            Oh, and now you have brought up the “international waters” red herring. Go study the law. Whether a boat is in international waters or enemy waters is not relevant to the legality of a blockade. If you are going to make legal pronouncements, at least know what law you are talking about.

            I love how the Palestinian supporters “get offended” when you ask them a question they can’t answer honestly without looking bad. So I’ll take that refusal to answer to mean:

            “Oh, my God, he’s right. If it had been settlers with knifes and pipes, I would be screaming about how ‘armed settlers attacked Palestinians’. I can’t admit that, or I’d look like a hypocrite, instead of just being one. I know, I’ll act offended and let that be my excuse for not answering.”

            If I am wrong about what you meant, feel free to answer the question. “If settlers armed with knives and metal pipes stabbed and bludgeoned Palestinians, would you describe the settlers as ‘unarmed'”.

            If I’m right, please keep ignoring or dodging the question.

            You can keep calling them “unarmed”, but it was a lie the first time you said it and it will be a lie every other time you say it too.