55 thoughts on “Scion of Zion Calls Israel “Frightening, Sickening Monster” and “Leper State” – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. In response to your hypothetical at the beginning of your blog, Richard, it’s not so hard to imagine, because Smilanky applies the accurate epithets he uses to describe Israel to “Israel today”, turning a blind eye to the root cause of the horror he describes and failing to draw a clear line from the point of the ill-fated establishment of the Zionist Jewish state against the will of the Palestinian Arab population, the majority at the time, to the present. The current Israeli iniquities are no more and no less than the a continuation of the Zionist strategic plan for Palestinians – i.e., their ethnic cleansing and dispossession in order to create a Jewish majority and a Jewish state at their expense. The other thing that struck me about Smilansky’s opinion piece is how he places Palestinians as bit players in his big Jewish drama. It’s the humanity and “soul” of his Jewish Israel that worries him, not the crimes against the humanity of the Palestinian people.

    I like the note you wrote me on the previous blog regarding Smilansky. You wrote, in part, referring to the site where Smilansky has his Meishar winery in the moshav, which lies on top of the depopulated and destroyed Palestinian village of Bashshit: “As for destroyed villages, there is more than enough time in the future to restore as many of those villages as the returning Palestinians would like. I don’t know how Smilansky will respond to that when it happens. But my sense is that he would not be opposed and might even welcome it.”

    Before such a scenario could happen, Richard, Israeli Jews like Smilansky must first connect the dots. Some of the Palestinian refugees from Bashshit are currently, as I write this, being bombed by the Jewish state in Gaza, where they have been herded, in order for Smilansky to have his winery and prosper in their place.

    1. There is something useful in not “connecting the dots.” If memory stops at 1967, then the dispossession and tormenting of the West Bank can be viewed in isolation and policies can be abridged or amended, seemingly. If one “connects the dots,” the whole Zionist enterprise from at least 1948 is hollowed out and emptied of meaning other than sheer aggression. Obviously, the resistance to such awareness is very strong, so what is a liberal Israeli to do? It is easy for me to connect the dots because my entire experience, my identity, my history is not at stake by so doing, but for an Israeli it must very difficult.

      1. I afraid learning Arabic is not a viable option.

        The Israeli-Jewish attitude to the Arab population of Palestine and the surrounding Arab states was and is racist. The Arab attitude to Israeli-Jews is, alas, likewise, racist. In fact, both populations are moral swine. The Israeli-Jews have the upper hand, for now. It may last a while, but it will not last forever. When the flip happens – in ten, fifty or one hundred years – the Israeli-Jews will pay the price for both their own blindness and for the Israeli-Arab blood-thirstiness.

        A two-state solution MAY (might?) postpone the denouement, but not prevent it. In fact, should a two state solution happen to eventuate (;-)), Israel-Proper might well erupt in civil war. Which, hopefully, will settle a number of nagging civic questions.

        It is my sincere opinion that Israel is in dire need of three things or, rather, events. It is in a dire need of a Sumter, a direr need of an Antietam and a direst need of an Appomattox.

  2. I have just started reading My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit, but he seems to be making the same point that Rima is making, though perhaps with a slight twist. From the very first days of Zionist settlement, Jews were having an impact on the Palestinian inhabitants. This was not because of any intent to harm them, but because they were oblivious to them. The focus was either returning to the home of the Jews for religious reasons or establishing a safe place, primarily for the Jews of Eastern Europe in the ancestral home of the Jew, two noble goals that allowed the founders to see themselves as doing good without regard to the impact this was having on the existing inhabitants of this land.

    Perhaps the answer to unraveling the current situation is for both sides to honestly assess the real root causes of the current standoff.

    1. The existence of Israel and circular reasoning. Fear for Iran? I believe the threat comes from occupied territory and hostile Arab nations professing the Wahhabist and Salafist sect of Islam.

      Book review by Lawrence Davidson

      For Shavit, this all makes the “peace process” problematic. “If Israel does not retreat from the West Bank, it will be politically and morally doomed. But if it does retreat it will face an Iran-backed and Islamic Brotherhood-inspired West Bank regime whose missiles could endanger Israel’s security.”

      Wieseltier agrees that this description of Israel’s apparent dilemma “is all true” even though, once again, neither he nor Shavit really know this to be so. Israel has always treated the Palestinians in a way that encourages resistance. To then declare that security-threatening resistance is inevitable is to engage in circular reasoning.

      1. @Pip,

        Thanks for the reference. I have been reading his Haaretz columns for some time and would agree with the assessment. But I think this is not something that is any different than most Israeli columnists I read. There is a tendency to paint everything in apocalyptic or existential terms, to make bold, dogmatic assertions about the future when in the real world, we mostly just muddle through crises rather than address them decisively. Maybe I have just learned to look at all this as a matter of style, not substance and now accept that I need a big dose of salt with the column.

        I’ve only read a little of his book at this point, but find the perspective to be enlightening.

        Perhaps naively, I don’t think most people act out of malice or with evil intent, not even hardline right wing types. And I can see how Zionists saw themselves as doing very good things, for religious reasons, to aid Eastern European Jewry, or even I suppose some with a colonial mentality that they were going to help the poor backward natives of Palestine by bringing modern technology, culture and political systems to them. Meanwhile, their actions were having a negative effect on the native Palestinians, not because that was their intent, but because they simply focused on other things, like saving Eastern European Jewry.

        Isn’t that the dilemma that makes solving the problem between Arab and Jew so difficult to solve. If the founding myth is that this was a good thing, good all the way up to doing the work of God, then it is hard to view it from a realistic perspective in terms of what it meant for native Palestinians.

        And there are parallel disconnects between the Palestinian view of resistance as being the work of God or for a noble cause regardless of the consequences to themselves or Israelis.

        1. @ Ed Murray: Your appraisal of Ari Shavit shows you haven’t been reading Haaretz long enough or well enough to understand the differences among their commentators. Shavit is one of the most right wing of the regular columnists. His work is shallow and full of slogans that pass for analysis.

      2. @ Oui
        I’m sorry. I don’t find Davidson’s view to be very constructive. It seems to essentially say that all the problems stem from the Israeli side and I simply don’t think that is true. As far as I’ve read so far in Shavit, I think that is the point he is trying to make. As I read further, I may not see it this way.

        I do think that there is a history of errors on both sides, but perhaps even more so, in the notion of the UNO to divide Palestine into three entities: Jordan, and an Arab Palestine and a Jewish Israel. Had the decision been to just create two states, I think we might not be in the situation we are now in. Of course, I don’t know that with any degree of certainty, but it does seem to be part of how we got to where we are now and why unraveling the current state of affairs is so difficult.

        Although I am not Jewish, 2000 years of Christian history tells me that there is a need for a Jewish state. I would want to create it even if the Jews didn’t.

        The ancestral connection of the Jews to Israel seems a legitimate reason that a Jewish state should have been created in what was Palestine. I get the sense that Davidson does really accept this.

        The constant threat to Israel since its founding explains many of the things that Israel has done, at least to my satisfaction. I’m not competent to say what is right and wrong in all of this, but the series of actions and reactions seem to be what I would expect, regardless of who is involved.

        At the same time, I understand why Palestinians are unhappy with things Israel does in terms of occupation and settlement, but it seems to me that none of this would have happened had Palestinians gotten on with building their own state rather than trying to end the state of Israel. Both sides are guilty of foundational myths about the righteousness their actions and as long as that continues, I don’t see how you end the conflict. Folks don’t see amenable to compromise when they think they are doing God’s work, even if it secular Jews saving persecuted Jews of Eastern Europe.

        I’m not sure if the answer is to forget all this history and move on to a solution based on where things stand today, or to go back and try to unravel all the things that were done wrong, by Arab and Jew, and the UNO and start from a clean slate.

        1. @ Ed Murray:

          Although I am not Jewish…history tells me that there is a need for a Jewish state. I would want to create it even if the Jews didn’t.

          Goyim say the damndest things, Ed! And I use that term advisedly & cautiously. But because you’ve used an incredibly condescending & offensive articulation yourself, I think my term is warranted.

          Who cares what you think, Ed? And who gave you the right to decide for Jews what they should have or want? Humility is always a virtue in these situations & you need a lot more of it.

          I’m not competent to say what is right and wrong in all of this

          A truer word has rarely been spoken.

          it seems to me that none of this would have happened …

          It seems to me that you’re once again putting your foot in your mouth. I don’t recall anyone inviting you to opine about the Palestinians and their alleged mistakes. And what makes you an expert, or even well-informed on the subject, Ed??

          1. @Richard,
            Not sure if your comments are meant to chase me away or provoke me into responding, but I’ll assume the latter.

            Goyim say the damndest things, Ed! And I use that term advisedly & cautiously. But because you’ve used an incredibly condescending & offensive articulation yourself, I think my term is warranted.

            Who cares what you think, Ed? And who gave you the right to decide for Jews what they should have or want? Humility is always a virtue in these situations & you need a lot more of it.

            First, other than me, I don’t think anyone particularly cares what I say and no one gave me a “right to decide for Jews what they should have or want.” I didn’t say I had any right to decide things for Jews, but was expressing my opinion that the last 2000 years of history tells me that having a Jewish state is necessary. That’s not a command that there be a Jewish state, just my opinion that there should be one. I have opinions on many subjects outside the Middle East, including the policies of the governments of Japan and Uganda among many others based on having lived there and following current events. I’m sorry that my opinions come across as “condescending & offensive.” They were not intended to be so, but perhaps this is similar to Shavit’s argument about the Zionist settlers of Palestine, they were oblivious to what they were doing to others.

            I’m not competent to say what is right and wrong in all of this

            A truer word has rarely been spoken.

            I have no expertise in Middle East studies and don’t claim any. I am married to an Israeli. I have lived in Israel. And I have done extensive genealogical research on Eastern European Jewish families for friends which exposed me to the horrors of the Shoah. I spent four years tutoring the children of some Palestinian immigrants to the US and learned how that particular family viewed the situation. If I have any small measure of “expertise” it comes from reading blogs such as yours. :>)

            I don’t recall anyone inviting you to opine about the Palestinians and their alleged mistakes. And what makes you an expert, or even well-informed on the subject, Ed??

            No one invited me to opine about the Palestinians, but I assumed that you have the comment section so that people can engage in discussions related to your posts and the comments on them.

            I didn’t claim expertise on the subject and have little more than one picks up from living in Israel, being married to an Israeli, having many Israeli friends, having close Palestinian friends in the US whose children I tutored when they first moved here, reading Jewish history for decades and subscribing to blogs such as yours to learn more. None of that makes me an expert, or even “well-informed” though it probably does make better informed than many who have no interest in the subject.

            Peace. I find your blog informative, at least until I started trashing the comment section with my nonsense. :>)

      3. Re-reading my own comment I see it needs clarifying. The threat for Israel comes from being an occupier of Palestinian territory, not from “occupied territory” inferring the Palestinians. Presently, Secretary Kerry has placed great effort in renewed peace talks in a troubled region. He needs our support.

        1. Surely, you must be aware that the current “peace negotiations” are sham politics between Israel and its ally (a deceitful broker of an unjust “peace”) on the one side and a Palestinian Authority enmeshed in the muddy waters of the Oslo Accords. This road to “peace” will lead nowhere. Only a justice for Palestinians will bring about peace. The historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to those who were expelled or exiled from it since 1948 and their descendants, regardless of religion, ethnicity, national origin or current citizenship status. It does not belong to Jews only!

          1. In Biblical terms, time is defined in centuries. Perhaps these talks can lead to an “armistice” between parties with clear borders and separation of population. Palestinian statehood would provide its citizens a chance to normalize their lives and build their economy. The suffering of Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan needs to be addressed. Your vision of one state and two peoples will not be reached this century. I can’t speak for either party and can only encourage Secretary Kerry to do his utmost to bring parties together. Both the Israelis and Palestinians will have to decide the next step. In my lifetime I have witnessed 50 years of hardship in the Middle East and since the Arab uprising matters only got worse.

    2. You are right about Shavit’s “take” on the earliest days of Zionist settlement, that they were “oblivious” to the native population. But Shavit does seem to understand that the European imperialist bias of the 19th century and later was also largely oblivious to native populations. This is the form that racism took at the time and a form incorporated in Zionism and carried forward to this day in Israel. Israel, Zionism, is an anachronism (as Judt wrote) for this very reason. Being “oblivious to them” is the “intent to harm them” by expropriation of their land, resources and homes. Shavit just doesn’t get it.

    1. Yes, he is a hysterical journalist without depth or sensibility, but dangerous for presenting a easily adoptable narrative of how good Israel got into trouble despite itself. This is a move to contain the damage suggested by the gathering storm of outrage with Israel.

  3. Considering what Mr. Lincoln did to the U.S. Constitution, himself. he is the last person to hold up as a icon of defending the Constitution; perhaps Mr. Madison would be much better.

  4. To Ed Murray’s apologia re: Zionism’s un-malicious intent, I say I only wish it had been malicious, because malice, at least, would have acknowledged the existence and humanity of the Palestinian people.

    Since Shavit’s book is being referred to here, I’d like to offer two links for the consideration of your readers. One is a picture of my mother I posted on my Facebook wall recently [https://www.facebook.com/rima.najjar.merriman]. I’ll describe it here for those who do not have Facebook accounts. The image is a family photo from 1948, in Lifta, the forcibly depopulated village whose ruins stand by Jaffa Rd northwest of Jerusalem as “heritage”, repeatedly threatened with imminent conversion to Jewish condominiums and tourist attractions while its inhabitants, many of them displaced in Jerusalem itself, look on at it with helplessness, horror and incredulity, prevented from returning to their property.

    Anyway, the photo shows my mother (whose family is from Ijzim, Haifa) carrying her newborn baby (my sister Orayb, now a professor at Northern Illinois University) in her husband’s father’s yard in Lifta with her young niece, one of my aunts, by her side. Attached to the photo is a letter to the New York Times about Shavit’s book from that baby, now grown up, and also a link from that baby’s daughter of an article she wrote in AAUP in favor of the academic boycott of Israel. The caption on the photo says, “We are not Jews and we belong there.”

    Here is the text of the letter:
    Letter to The New York Times on “Something for Barack and Bibi to Talk About”, November 17, 2013

    As a Palestinian-American whose mother’s family lost land in Haifa in 1948, whose father’s family lost land in West Jerusalem in 1948, and whose father’s family lost more land in East Jerusalem in 1967, I find Friedman’s column in praise of Ha’aretz columnist Ari Shavit galling. What I hear Shavit saying is this: Yes, Israelis should acknowledge that Palestinians had been wronged when Israelis expelled them from Lydda in 1948, but now that over sixty years have passed, they should forget it and move on, and anything less means they are wallowing in victimhood. On the other hand, Jews retain the right to indulge in victimhood daily. Nazis stole pots and pans from Jews in 1940? Publish it in the New York Times on November 17, 2013. Until Palestinians, like Jews, are not begrudged the right to write about their history and their pain, there will be no peace (to say nothing about allowing Jewish settlers to gobble up what is left of the land).
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151855276448422&set=a.10150255827008422.340489.636428421&type=3&theater

    The second link re: Shavit’s book is to a review by Jerome Slater, professor (emeritus) of political science and now a University Research Scholar at the State University of New York at Buffalo, titled Unforgivable: Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land and Its Acclaim in the United States. Here are excerpts from the review for those not inclined to read the whole thing:

    “There are some good things in Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land, including a discussion of the concept of “transfer”– more commonly known today as “ethnic cleansing” –in Zionist ideology: the honest and graphically detailed accounts of Zionist violence and outright terrorism in the pre-state period and the immediate aftermath of the creation of the state of Israel in 1948; the unsparing condemnation of the Jewish settlements, of the occupation, and of Israel’s “systematic and determined use of oppressive force” in crushing Palestinian uprisings and resistance; and the growing threats to Israeli democracy and liberal values, including racism, xenophobia, and even “semi-fascism.”
    The gravest failing in MP, however, is Shavit’s blatant disregard of the history and major facts concerning the Israeli conflict with the Arab world as a whole and with the Palestinians in particular. The central theme, running throughout MPL, is that a peaceful settlement of these conflicts is impossible because the undying and immutable hatred of Israel in the Arab world—in Shavit’s view far transcending Israel’s own policies and behavior–poses an “existential” threat to its survival.
    …. Insofar as Shavit is writing what purports to be history, his argument is either unaware of, or deceitful about, the clear facts concerning the long history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Despite occasional lip service to the contrary, his underlying premise is that the behavior of the Arab and Islamic world towards Israel is a given and is immutable, having little to do with Israel’s behavior towards the Arabs, especially the Palestinians. This unsupportable argument is actually dangerous, because it plays into and reinforces the woeful ignorance in Israel and the United States of the true history of the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts and of Israel’s repeated spurning or sabotaging of numerous opportunities to end them, from 1948 through today and, it would appear, into the indefinite future.
    …Thus, Shavit’s apparent—but unearned—credibility may have a considerable influence, because moderate but non-expert Americans might well conclude that “Even Ari Shavit thinks that the Arabs will never make peace with Israel. “ Thus, in the final analysis, despite its almost universal acclaim—or, perhaps, because of that acclaim– what is wrong about My Promised Land is far more important than what is right, and for that reason it is a dangerous and, indeed, unforgivable book.”

    Unforgivable: Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land and Its Acclaim in the United States
    http://www.jeromeslater.com/2013/12/unforgivable-ari-shavits-my-promised.html

    Palestinians are now reclaiming the right to claim ALL their rights:
    (1) the right of return for Palestinian refugees;
    (2) full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and
    (3) the end of occupation and colonial rule.

    1. @Rima,
      My intent in commenting on what I think Shavits is arguing was not to offer an apologia, simply to say that I think his view is probably accurate for at least some of Israel’s founders. They saw themselves as doing good while their action were in fact harmful to native Palestinians.

      Look at US history. We have a founding myth that what we did was noble, yet we drove the native inhabitants to places like Oklahoma, we killed many, we set up a “democracy” in which slavery was allowed, in which women were denied participation.

      But the myth is very much about people seeking to establish a democracy, religious freedom, civilizing an uncivilized people and land. I think much of what we did in founding the US was wrong, but as Richard will no doubt point out, who cares what I think. :>)

      It seems to me that the founding mythology very much informs the way Israelis view the current situation and I think that is likely true to some extent in terms of how Palestinians view things.

      We can’t go back and change the history, but we might benefit from recognizing that some of the “noble” things that have been done over the past 100 years had a few flaws and recognizing them may be useful in unraveling the current mess.

      1. “A few flaws”! Zionism is unforgivable and indefensible and shame on you for being so cavalier about it. Your coupling of the word “noble” with “Zionism” has the same impact on me it would have on many people if I were to couple “noble” with “Nazism” – in any kind of sentence. But to the Jewish state, as a Palestinian, I don’t even exist, so you and they can pontificate about myths and the march of history. The Jewish state is not a “noble” enterprise for God’s sake! Palestinians exist, though we may be invisible to you. We have not signed our land away and never will. Palestinian right of return is not just a corrective for a historical wrong but part of a necessary remedy for an ongoing condition

        Noura Erekat wrote recently in a letter to The Washington Post: “Today, Israel administers a one-state reality in which it distinguishes between Jews and non-Jews irrespective of territorial boundaries and wherein it privileges its Jewish population and abridges the education, movement, health, social cohesion and self-determination of its Christian and Muslim Palestinian population.” That’s your shining city on a hill.

        Another idea: The inviolable norm of equality today tops threats of anti-Semitism. And, in any case, why should Palestinians pay the price? As Edward Said, Christian Palestinian, put it: “As Palestinians, we demand acknowledgement and reparations. We cannot accept that ‘the redemption of the Jews’ required the dispossession of millions of Palestinians. We must rethink our common past if we want to have a future, and it is time to honestly state that we are fated to have a common, not a separate, future.”

        And as David Samel, Jewish attorney in New York City, put it:
        “All supporters of the concept of a Jewish State, including ‘Liberal Zionists,’ are defending a system that inherently imposes ethno-religious privileges that would be impossible to tolerate in the United States or elsewhere.
        … So in order to justify a Jewish State rather than a color/ethnicity/religion-blind state, the dangers to Jews posed by the world at large, and Arabs and Palestinians in particular, must be magnified.

        The Palestinian fight for freedom, justice and equality is thus often portrayed as a potential threat to the survival of the Jewish people, who live on the precipice of genocide. A more realistic evaluation of the threat of anti-Semitism would not give it precedence over conforming to the otherwise inviolable 21st century norm of equality for all.”

        1. Rima Najjar December 29, 2013 at 1:19 AM

          “A few flaws”! Zionism is unforgivable and indefensible and shame on you for being so cavalier about it. Your coupling of the word “noble” with “Zionism” has the same impact on me it would have on many people if I were to couple “noble” with “Nazism” – in any kind of sentence. But to the Jewish state, as a Palestinian, I don’t even exist, so you and they can pontificate about myths and the march of history. The Jewish state is not a “noble” enterprise for God’s sake! Palestinians exist, though we may be invisible to you. We have not signed our land away and never will. Palestinian right of return is not just a corrective for a historical wrong but part of a necessary remedy for an ongoing condition

          @Rima, We disagree on whether Zionism is “unforgivable and indefensible.” Without any judgmental adjectives, I think, as I said earlier, that 2,000 years of Christian history argues for the need for a state for the Jewish people and that this state needs to have a majority Jewish population. That’s just my opinion.

          I didn’t say that Zionism was noble. I said that I think the Zionists thought that what they were doing was “noble,” in quotation marks just as I assume you feel that the “right of return” is a “necessary remedy for an ongoing condition” is a just and noble view.

          Could the creation of such a state been done in a better way? Absolutely and that is perhaps even more true for places like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, most of South and Central America where European settlement was at the expense of native populations. This is also true for the borders of many other states around the world, borders that were created by force.

          However, I don’t think we can realistically change what has been done already other than to reach various compromises that allow Israel to exist securely as a majority Jewish state and for Palestinians to have their own state.

          We are where we are today. Isn’t the important question how we move ahead in a way that ends the current conflict?

          Wouldn’t we all be better off by ending the current state of affairs and moving on?

          I don’t see how anyone benefits from having to first right all historical wrongs. Where do you even draw those lines? Should we restore the Ottoman Empire? Or Syrian rule of Palestine? What about the Romans? Or Egyptians?

          If the starting point in this process is a demand that we restore the status quo ante as I think you are saying, that seems unlikely to be a basis for productively ending the current state of affairs and moving forward to one which is of benefit to most people on both sides of this issue, people living in Israel and Palestine today.

          1. Your opinion has a nasty racism behind it that is breathtaking in its lack of self awareness. Are you seriously unaware of how you come off as dismissive of a terrible injustice that millions of Palestinians are suffering from only because they are not Jews? Do you not understand that the oppression and dispossession we are discussing is ongoing, as I write this? You have locked yourself into a miserable outlook that has no faith in justice or humanity, and I can only feel sorry for you. If a Jewish state is a necessary evil, as you put it while under the thrall of a Zionist’s book, I wish that evil would befall you so you could experience it just for a week or so – and then you might change your tune, as you don’t appear to have an imaginative faculty to help you make that leap of empathy so you could be mindful of what you say. Perhaps you should go to the bookstore and pick up a recent book by a Palestinian. I suggest Mourid Barghouti or Raja Shehadeh. That might work as a remedy for your condition.

          2. @Rima

            Your opinion has a nasty racism behind it that is breathtaking in its lack of self awareness. Are you seriously unaware of how you come off as dismissive of a terrible injustice that millions of Palestinians are suffering from only because they are not Jews? Do you not understand that the oppression and dispossession we are discussing is ongoing, as I write this? You have locked yourself into a miserable outlook that has no faith in justice or humanity, and I can only feel sorry for you. If a Jewish state is a necessary evil, as you put it while under the thrall of a Zionist’s book, I wish that evil would befall you so you could experience it just for a week or so – and then you might change your tune, as you don’t appear to have an imaginative faculty to help you make that leap of empathy so you could be mindful of what you say. Perhaps you should go to the bookstore and pick up a recent book by a Palestinian. I suggest Mourid Barghouti or Raja Shehadeh. That might work as a remedy for your condition.

            You are right that my view does appear to be totally lacking in empathy, concern for justice and humanity, even racist, but from a purely clinical view of the problem, I think that ending the current state of affairs is more important than assigning blame for what has gone on in the past.

            Are we better off leaving things as they are today?

            No solution is going to give either side 100% of what they want or even what is just.

            Take the issue you raised, the right of return. I can’t see any way that this would be acceptable to Israelis, or at least most Israelis. A compromise solution might be compensation for losses. Taking a position that this is a sine qua non may be empathetic, full of justice and humanity, but if it is unacceptable to Israel, then that position just prolongs the current situation. How is that good for the Palestinians?

          3. @ Ed Murray: Please read my comment rules & note comments must be ON TOPIC. That is, directly related to the post on which you’re commenting. Do not introduce extraneous subjects or opine of major issues that are not relevant to the post. Your view of the Right of Return is off topic. Stay on topic.

          4. @Richard
            Duly noted. Didn’t mean to drift off topic, but was responding to the point Rima made with regard to the Right of Return which it seems is relevant to some extent to the subject of the original post.

  5. We atheists stand in sorrow and awe at the hundreds of millions who have sacrificed or been forced to do so all in the names of gods, in their legions. A perpetual motion transcending all physics, but alive in the breasts of believers who know that might makes right.

    1. Aaaamen, brother. That is a bette noire of the middle east – Islamic believers battling Jewish believers. In fact – had I not been a citizen of this circus, I’d be willing to pay of VoD to see the two bunches of nutties battling it out using the best and shiniest of western and eastern destructive hardware :-).

      1. The conflict is really rather simple to understand: Between late 1947 and 1967, the vast majority of the native Palestinian population of historic Palestine (primarily Christian and Muslim) that owned about 94.5% of its land in 1948 were dispossessed and expelled and over 500 of their towns and villages destroyed by Jewish Zionist immigrants (and their descendants) primarily from Russia, Poland and Europe in accordance with their openly declared objective to use whatever means necessary, including force of arms, terrorism, massacres and intimidation, to create an expansionary, exclusionary Jewish state.

        In reality, these foreign Jews had no more right to take over Palestine than did Irish Catholics or Mexican atheists.

        1. @David,
          Is it really that simple? What about Jewish migrants pre-1948 who bought land from absentee landowners? Are their rights inferior to the rights say of a Syrian immigrant who came to Palestine during WWII?

          How would you ever establish the validity of your 95.4% Arab ownership of the land that became Israel? Are there really reliable records to back that figure? But perhaps more importantly, how would focusing on this help unravel the situation which Israelis and Palestinians find themselves in today?

          Is focusing on past wrongs the way to right the future?

    2. I think it’s time atheists united to demand an Atheist State. Makes as much sense as the idea of a Jewish state. And likely just as racist.

  6. Lessing J. Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism, 1944: “The concept of a racial state – the Hitlerian concept- is repugnant to the civilized world, as witness the fearful global war in which we are involved. . . , I urge that we do nothing to set us back on the road to the past. To project at this time the creation of a Jewish state or commonwealth is to launch a singular innovation in world affairs which might well have incalculable consequences.”

  7. Prophetic comments by four eminent Jews:

    Then Secretary of State for India and the British cabinet’s only Jewish member, Lord Edwin Montagu’s response to Prime Minister Lloyd George following passage of the 1917 Balfour Declaration: “All my life I have been trying to get out of the ghetto. You want to force me back there.”

    Asked to sign a petition supporting settlement of Jews in Palestine, Sigmund Freud declined: “I cannot…I do not think that Palestine could ever become a Jewish state….It would have seemed more sensible to me to establish a Jewish homeland on a less historically-burdened land….I can raise no sympathy at all for the misdirected piety which transforms a piece of a Herodian wall into a national relic, thereby offending the feelings of the natives.” (Letter to Dr. Chaim Koffler Keren HaYassod, Vienna: 2/26/30)

    Albert Einstein, 1939: “There could be no greater calamity than a permanent discord between us and the Arab people…. Let us recall that in former times no people lived in greater friendship with us than the ancestors of these Arabs.”

    Lessing J. Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism, 1944: “The concept of a racial state – the Hitlerian concept- is repugnant to the civilized world, as witness the fearful global war in which we are involved. . . , I urge that we do nothing to set us back on the road to the past. To project at this time the creation of a Jewish state or commonwealth is to launch a singular innovation in world affairs which might well have incalculable consequences.”

    1. Although Zionism is not a religion, I see a similarity with the idea to let jihadists take over the Syrian state. Permitting terrorists to build a nation is doomed to failure, at least committed to permanent warfare. I have plenty of criticism for EU HQ in Brussels, however the European Union has led to peace across the European continent for nearly 70 years.

  8. > Re, Ed Murray; “Although I am not Jewish, 2000 years of Christian history tells me that there is a need for a Jewish > state. I would want to create it even if the Jews didn’t.”

    2000 years of Christian history tells ME that there is no need for ANY kind of “state” based on religious affiliation
    AND, 10,000 years of human history tells me that there should NEVER be a state based on racial or ethnic identity.

    >> “The ancestral connection of the Jews to Israel seems a legitimate reason that a Jewish state should have been >> created in what was Palestine.

    Nonsense; 3500 years of Israelite history tells us that the LAST people entitled to this land are those Jews who claim direct descent from the murderous savages who murdered over 2 million inhabitants to gain control of the land the first time, INCLUDING 14,700 “children of Israel” who dared to complain about the previous murders (dare I say……
    holocaust?).

    1. @Dave,
      I agree in principle and would go a step further and argue that we would all probably be better off if there were no nation-states.

      1. @Dave

        Nonsense; 3500 years of Israelite history tells us that the LAST people entitled to this land are those Jews who claim direct descent from the murderous savages who murdered over 2 million inhabitants to gain control of the land the first time, INCLUDING 14,700 “children of Israel” who dared to complain about the previous murders (dare I say……
        holocaust?).

        I didn’t say that Jews were “entitled” to Palestine, simply that their historical and religious connection to the land seems to be a legitimate reason for them to have sought to create a state in Palestine rather than Uganda or Madagascar.

        No idea where you get a figure of 2 million. Seems highly unlikely given that the population in the ancient Palestine was not that large and I believe is estimated to have been around 350,000 in 1850.

        1. Non-sequitur, Mr. Murray. One fact does not preclude the accuracy of the other. LOGICALLY, it is the equivalent of saying there could not have been 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust because there were only slightly over 650,000 Jews living in the area previously occupied by the Third Reich.

          I WILL confess, however that the *2 million* figure is derived from estimates taken from the “Old Testament” AND INCLUDES the number of people that G-d murdered himself either on the behalf of the Children of Israel OR because they were simply wicked and sinful.

          Of course, if you subscribe to the belief that all men are the property of G-d, he was merely getting “taking out” the trash.

    2. @ Dave Terry:

      Jews who claim direct descent from the murderous savages

      Not cool, Dave. Not cool at all. Don’t like your rhetoric. I’ve written on the same subject without managing to use the offensive language you have. You can do better.

      1. Richard, it was a matter of context! We were discussing the merits of the Jewish claim to Palestine based on previous occupation. I would have used the same terms to describe the activities of the Anglo-Saxon and Hispanic savages who murdered and pillaged the homes of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Americas, while reciting “sacred texts” and the idiotic dogmas of *manifest destiny*, “American Exceptionalism* (our own native version of the ‘Chosen People Syndrome”.) and *White-Man’s-Buden* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_Man%27s_Burden

        Please note that I was not speaking “inclusively” of “all of the Children of Israel”. I specifically mentioned the murder of “14,700 *children of Israel* who dared to complain about the previous murders” I would be PROUD to claim to be a descendent of THOSE Jews.

        EVERY group of mankind has its *noble* as well as *savage* individuals

        1. @ Dave Terry: I understand the issue of context and agree with you to a point. But there are far too many people in the world who believe that all Jews are monstrous savages. And that view caused the murder of 6 million at one point in history. So using the term in a limited way as you tried to do, is easily confused by the more deranged among us as condemning the entire Jewish people.

  9. ” Palestinian farmers are to blame for settler attacks on occupied land, Israel says | Mondoweiss December 28, 2013

    And Cherokee, Creek, and Choctaw farmers were to blame for the “Trail of Tears” !!!!

    1. @ Dave Terry: Please don’t assume your comments weren’t published deliberately. If you use a new IP address to publish a comment my comment filter will moderate it till I approve it. That happens automatically and has nothing to do with my own choice not to publish your comment. And generally, be patient about these things. I review comments every day & will get to it, promise.

  10. To Ed Murray, who writes: “You are right that my view does appear to be totally lacking in empathy, concern for justice and humanity, even racist, but from a purely clinical view of the problem, I think that ending the current state of affairs is more important than assigning blame for what has gone on in the past.

    Are we better off leaving things as they are today?

    No solution is going to give either side 100% of what they want or even what is just.

    Take the issue you raised, the right of return. I can’t see any way that this would be acceptable to Israelis, or at least most Israelis. A compromise solution might be compensation for losses. Taking a position that this is a sine qua non may be empathetic, full of justice and humanity, but if it is unacceptable to Israel, then that position just prolongs the current situation. How is that good for the Palestinians?”

    Here is my response:
    If you wish to pose as a political analyst on this issue and pontificate on it from a “purely clinical” perspective (I say “if”, because in reality you are simply spouting Israeli Zionist propoganda directly from the hasbara manual- but I’ll play along one more time) – if you fancy yourself doing that, at least be up on what’s going on politically on the issue right now. Read about the Oslo Accords and what has happened in the 20 years since, read the policy briefs of Al-Shabaka, read about the one-state solution, which is now looming as a real possibility. Understand that “Israel today administers a one-state reality in which it distinguishes between Jews and non-Jews, irrespective of territorial boundaries and wherein it privileges its Jewish population and abridges the education, movement, health, social cohesion and self-determination of its Christian and Muslim Palestinian population.” Read Salman Abu Sitta’s work, which has begun to detail how Palestinian refugees could return rural Israel without displacing the current Jewish population, the majority of which is in cities. Read other things than hasbara.

    1. @Rima
      I have no pretense at being a political analyst, just someone with an interest in the area.

      I will read more than I have already from the Palestinian perspective, but just taking your reference to Abu-Sitta’s idea of how to accomplish a right of return as a case, the issues isn’t geography, it is demographics. There may well be some room for compromise on this issue, but I just don’t see how unlimited return of the descendants of Palestinian refugees would ever be accepted.

      This isn’t a question of what is just. It is a question of what is acceptable to those now in control.

      How do we end the current situation in a way that allows the Palestinians to have their own state with minimal interference from Israel?

      I take the other view as far as Israel. I don’t think the current state of affairs is good for Israel. Ending it is worth compromising, accepting some things that are not acceptable for the sake of ending the current state of affairs.

      1. The word “compromise” when used by Israel and the Us translates into Palestinians’ giving up their fundamental rights. That will never, ever happen. Oslo’s damaging legacy was to redefine, in effect, the Palestinian people as the residents of the West Bank and Gaza – to reduce the Palestinian people to those living in the 1967 territories. You ask, “How do we end the current situation?” Although I am not sure in what sense you are using the word “we”, I can only answer this by saying that the conflict will end only with the dismantling of Zionism. Zionism is not only indefensible and unforgivable, it is also unsustainable, and it will end sooner or later – inevitably, if history is a judge. Glad that you plan to do some more reading in the right direction. Let us know your thoughts when you understand more. In my view, any arrangement (one state, two states, a million shards) that leads to the achievement of Palestinian basic human rights is a solution that will work. First let’s agree on principles, and then work out logistics. Palestinian inalienable rights are:

        (1) the right of return for Palestinian refugees;

        (2) full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and

        (3) the end of occupation and colonial rule.

        As Ali Abunimah has said: “What gives me hope is that despite intense efforts to make the Palestinian struggle go away, to make Palestinians forget about their rights, to extract from Palestinian leaders by hook or by crook an agreement to surrender basic rights, none of that has worked.”

        One democratic state means the following:

        – The historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to those who were expelled or exiled from it since 1948 and their descendants, regardless of religion, ethnicity, national origin or current citizenship status;

        – Any system of government must be founded on the principle of equality in civil, political, social and cultural rights for all citizens. Power must be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all people in the diversity of their identities;

        – There must be just redress for the devastating effects of decades of Zionist colonization in the pre- and post-state period, including the abrogation of all laws, and ending all policies, practices and systems of military and civil control that oppress and discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, religion or national origin;

        – The recognition of the diverse character of the society, encompassing distinct religious, linguistic and cultural traditions, and national experiences;

        – The creation of a non-sectarian state that does not privilege the rights of one ethnic or religious group over another and that respects the separation of state from all organized religion;

        – The implementation of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees in accordance with UN Resolution 194 is a fundamental requirement for justice, and a benchmark of the respect for equality.

        – The creation of a transparent and nondiscriminatory immigration policy;

        – The recognition of the historic connections between the diverse communities inside the new, democratic state and their respective fellow communities outside;

        – In articulating the specific contours of such a solution, those who have been historically excluded from decision-making — especially the Palestinian Diaspora and its refugees, and Palestinians inside Israel — must play a central role;

        – The establishment of legal and institutional frameworks for justice and reconciliation.

        Madrid and London, 2007
        The One State Democratic Group

  11. Ed Murray’s comments here are very disturbing. Unlike the Israeli right’s blatant racism, Ed Murray’ apologism for Zionism and his support of indefensible concepts (such as Jewish State) comes across as white man’s burden, the civilized colonialist, the humane ethnic cleanser. Of course if I argued that Hitler’s goals were noble from his perspective and that the evil done to Jews was necessary in order to “return” Germany to Aryan Germans from the hands of Jews, I would be universally condemned. But people like Murray (and Smilansky) whose view of Zionism is inherently positive, are the biggest obstacle to any resolution. There will not be a resolution to the world’s last colonial conflict until Zionism is dismantled and democracy is established in Palestine. No to “Jewish State”, no to forced Jewish majority through ethnic cleansing, no to Apartheid.

    1. @ Aaron, Rima, et alia,

      Trying to stay on topic, I don’t disagree at all with Smilansky’s assessment of the current state of Israel, but my opinion, based on my limited knowledge of all this, is that the state of Israel is not going to go away nor is it going to surrender to the Palestinians.

      That is not to say that all sorts of wrongs haven’t been done in the creation of the state of Israel, but to me, that is not the pressing issue.

      I see the main issue is whether the current situation of the Palestinians can be made better through some sort of agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

      I think that two of the three “inalienable rights” which Rima has enumerated are more than possible, but the right of return to what is now the state of Israel is not. Again, that’s not to say it shouldn’t be, just that I don’t see Israel agreeing to it.

      By making this a sine qua non of the Palestinian position on reaching a settlement, I think it has the effect of actually preventing a settlement and that means a continuation of the state of affairs in which all three “rights” are being denied.

      It may not be just to not allow a right of return, but the reality is that the victors are the ones in a position to determine the nature of a settlement, although they can’t impose one that is so patently unjust that the conflict simply continues.

      To me, that means that Israel has to address the issue in a way that, while perhaps not completely satisfactory, does address the issue given its importance to the Palestinian people, perhaps a Marshall Plan type of approach as happened following WWII when the victors dictated the terms of that settlement with Germany.

      I understand Aaron’s view that there shouldn’t be a state of Israel, but it seems completely unrealistic to expect it to go away. It is asking the victor in the conflict to surrender. How can that be a realistic solution to the current mess?

      Waiting for this to happen just means more misery for Palestinians, in my view of the world.

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