January 11, 2004

Armageddon

Israeli historian Benny Morris looks forward to the day when Israel will be able to expel Arabs--all Arabs--Palestinians and Israeli Arabs alike--from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Israel itself, and so complete the task that David Ben-Gurion began in 1948 before he got "cold feet":

Survival of the fittest (cont.):

You went through an interesting process. You went to research Ben-Gurion and the Zionist establishment critically, but in the end you actually identify with them. You are as tough in your words as they were in their deeds.

"You may be right. Because I investigated the conflict in depth, I was forced to cope with the in-depth questions that those people coped with. I understood the problematic character of the situation they faced and maybe I adopted part of their universe of concepts. But I do not identify with Ben-Gurion. I think he made a serious historical mistake in 1948. Even though he understood the demographic issue and the need to establish a Jewish state without a large Arab minority, he got cold feet during the war. In the end, he faltered."

I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that Ben-Gurion erred in expelling too few Arabs?

"If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types. But my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all. If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country - the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. It may yet turn out that this was his fatal mistake. If he had carried out a full expulsion - rather than a partial one - he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations."

I find it hard to believe what I am hearing.

"If the end of the story turns out to be a gloomy one for the Jews, it will be because Ben-Gurion did not complete the transfer in 1948. Because he left a large and volatile demographic reserve in the West Bank and Gaza and within Israel itself."

In his place, would you have expelled them all? All the Arabs in the country?

"But I am not a statesman. I do not put myself in his place. But as an historian, I assert that a mistake was made here. Yes. The non-completion of the transfer was a mistake."

And today? Do you advocate a transfer today?

"If you are asking me whether I support the transfer and expulsion of the Arabs from the West Bank, Gaza and perhaps even from Galilee and the Triangle, I say not at this moment. I am not willing to be a partner to that act. In the present circumstances it is neither moral nor realistic. The world would not allow it, the Arab world would not allow it, it would destroy the Jewish society from within. But I am ready to tell you that in other circumstances, apocalyptic ones, which are liable to be realized in five or ten years, I can see expulsions. If we find ourselves with atomic weapons around us, or if there is a general Arab attack on us and a situation of warfare on the front with Arabs in the rear shooting at convoys on their way to the front, acts of expulsion will be entirely reasonable. They may even be essential."

Including the expulsion of Israeli Arabs?

"The Israeli Arabs are a time bomb. Their slide into complete Palestinization has made them an emissary of the enemy that is among us. They are a potential fifth column. In both demographic and security terms they are liable to undermine the state. So that if Israel again finds itself in a situation of existential threat, as in 1948, it may be forced to act as it did then. If we are attacked by Egypt (after an Islamist revolution in Cairo) and by Syria, and chemical and biological missiles slam into our cities, and at the same time Israeli Palestinians attack us from behind, I can see an expulsion situation. It could happen. If the threat to Israel is existential, expulsion will be justified."

Benny Morris, sometime dove. My estimate of the chances that Tel Aviv, Cairo, and Damascus will vanish beneath mushroom clouds sometime in the next fifty years has just doubled, from 10% to 20%.


Benny Morris, in the month ahead the new version of your book on the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem is due to be published. Who will be less pleased with the book - the Israelis or the Palestinians?

"The revised book is a double-edged sword. It is based on many documents that were not available to me when I wrote the original book, most of them from the Israel Defense Forces Archives. What the new material shows is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape. In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah [the pre-state defense force that was the precursor of the IDF] were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves.

"At the same time, it turns out that there was a series of orders issued by the Arab Higher Committee and by the Palestinian intermediate levels to remove children, women and the elderly from the villages. So that on the one hand, the book reinforces the accusation against the Zionist side, but on the other hand it also proves that many of those who left the villages did so with the encouragement of the Palestinian leadership itself."

According to your new findings, how many cases of Israeli rape were there in 1948?

"About a dozen. In Acre four soldiers raped a girl and murdered her and her father. In Jaffa, soldiers of the Kiryati Brigade raped one girl and tried to rape several more. At Hunin, which is in the Galilee, two girls were raped and then murdered. There were one or two cases of rape at Tantura, south of Haifa. There was one case of rape at Qula, in the center of the country. At the village of Abu Shusha, near Kibbutz Gezer [in the Ramle area] there were four female prisoners, one of whom was raped a number of times. And there were other cases. Usually more than one soldier was involved. Usually there were one or two Palestinian girls. In a large proportion of the cases the event ended with murder. Because neither the victims nor the rapists liked to report these events, we have to assume that the dozen cases of rape that were reported, which I found, are not the whole story. They are just the tip of the iceberg."

According to your findings, how many acts of Israeli massacre were perpetrated in 1948?

"Twenty-four. In some cases four or five people were executed, in others the numbers were 70, 80, 100. There was also a great deal of arbitrary killing. Two old men are spotted walking in a field - they are shot. A woman is found in an abandoned village - she is shot. There are cases such as the village of Dawayima [in the Hebron region], in which a column entered the village with all guns blazing and killed anything that moved.

"The worst cases were Saliha (70-80 killed), Deir Yassin (100-110), Lod (250), Dawayima (hundreds) and perhaps Abu Shusha (70). There is no unequivocal proof of a large-scale massacre at Tantura, but war crimes were perpetrated there. At Jaffa there was a massacre about which nothing had been known until now. The same at Arab al Muwassi, in the north. About half of the acts of massacre were part of Operation Hiram [in the north, in October 1948]: at Safsaf, Saliha, Jish, Eilaboun, Arab al Muwasi, Deir al Asad, Majdal Krum, Sasa. In Operation Hiram there was a unusually high concentration of executions of people against a wall or next to a well in an orderly fashion.

"That can't be chance. It's a pattern. Apparently, various officers who took part in the operation understood that the expulsion order they received permitted them to do these deeds in order to encourage the population to take to the roads. The fact is that no one was punished for these acts of murder. Ben-Gurion silenced the matter. He covered up for the officers who did the massacres."

What you are telling me here, as though by the way, is that in Operation Hiram there was a comprehensive and explicit expulsion order. Is that right?

"Yes. One of the revelations in the book is that on October 31, 1948, the commander of the Northern Front, Moshe Carmel, issued an order in writing to his units to expedite the removal of the Arab population. Carmel took this action immediately after a visit by Ben-Gurion to the Northern Command in Nazareth. There is no doubt in my mind that this order originated with Ben-Gurion. Just as the expulsion order for the city of Lod, which was signed by Yitzhak Rabin, was issued immediately after Ben-Gurion visited the headquarters of Operation Dani [July 1948]."

Are you saying that Ben-Gurion was personally responsible for a deliberate and systematic policy of mass expulsion?

"From April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created."

Ben-Gurion was a "transferist"?

"Of course. Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist."

I don't hear you condemning him.

"Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here."

Benny Morris, for decades you have been researching the dark side of Zionism. You are an expert on the atrocities of 1948. In the end, do you in effect justify all this? Are you an advocate of the transfer of 1948?

"There is no justification for acts of rape. There is no justification for acts of massacre. Those are war crimes. But in certain conditions, expulsion is not a war crime. I don't think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands."

We are talking about the killing of thousands of people, the destruction of an entire society.

"A society that aims to kill you forces you to destroy it. When the choice is between destroying or being destroyed, it's better to destroy."

There is something chilling about the quiet way in which you say that.

"If you expected me to burst into tears, I'm sorry to disappoint you. I will not do that."

So when the commanders of Operation Dani are standing there and observing the long and terrible column of the 50,000 people expelled from Lod walking eastward, you stand there with them? You justify them?

"I definitely understand them. I understand their motives. I don't think they felt any pangs of conscience, and in their place I wouldn't have felt pangs of conscience. Without that act, they would not have won the war and the state would not have come into being."

You do not condemn them morally?

"No."

They perpetrated ethnic cleansing.

"There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing. I know that this term is completely negative in the discourse of the 21st century, but when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide - the annihilation of your people - I prefer ethnic cleansing."

And that was the situation in 1948?

"That was the situation. That is what Zionism faced. A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on."

The term `to cleanse' is terrible.

"I know it doesn't sound nice but that's the term they used at the time. I adopted it from all the 1948 documents in which I am immersed."

What you are saying is hard to listen to and hard to digest. You sound hard-hearted.

"I feel sympathy for the Palestinian people, which truly underwent a hard tragedy. I feel sympathy for the refugees themselves. But if the desire to establish a Jewish state here is legitimate, there was no other choice. It was impossible to leave a large fifth column in the country. From the moment the Yishuv [pre-1948 Jewish community in Palestine] was attacked by the Palestinians and afterward by the Arab states, there was no choice but to expel the Palestinian population. To uproot it in the course of war.

"Remember another thing: the Arab people gained a large slice of the planet. Not thanks to its skills or its great virtues, but because it conquered and murdered and forced those it conquered to convert during many generations. But in the end the Arabs have 22 states. The Jewish people did not have even one state. There was no reason in the world why it should not have one state. Therefore, from my point of view, the need to establish this state in this place overcame the injustice that was done to the Palestinians by uprooting them."

And morally speaking, you have no problem with that deed?

"That is correct. Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history."

And in our case it effectively justifies a population transfer.

"That's what emerges."

And you take that in stride? War crimes? Massacres? The burning fields and the devastated villages of the Nakba?

"You have to put things in proportion. These are small war crimes. All told, if we take all the massacres and all the executions of 1948, we come to about 800 who were killed. In comparison to the massacres that were perpetrated in Bosnia, that's peanuts. In comparison to the massacres the Russians perpetrated against the Germans at Stalingrad, that's chicken feed. When you take into account that there was a bloody civil war here and that we lost an entire 1 percent of the population, you find that we behaved very well."

The next transfer

You went through an interesting process. You went to research Ben-Gurion and the Zionist establishment critically, but in the end you actually identify with them. You are as tough in your words as they were in their deeds.

"You may be right. Because I investigated the conflict in depth, I was forced to cope with the in-depth questions that those people coped with. I understood the problematic character of the situation they faced and maybe I adopted part of their universe of concepts. But I do not identify with Ben-Gurion. I think he made a serious historical mistake in 1948. Even though he understood the demographic issue and the need to establish a Jewish state without a large Arab minority, he got cold feet during the war. In the end, he faltered."

I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that Ben-Gurion erred in expelling too few Arabs?

"If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types. But my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all. If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country - the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. It may yet turn out that this was his fatal mistake. If he had carried out a full expulsion - rather than a partial one - he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations."

I find it hard to believe what I am hearing.

"If the end of the story turns out to be a gloomy one for the Jews, it will be because Ben-Gurion did not complete the transfer in 1948. Because he left a large and volatile demographic reserve in the West Bank and Gaza and within Israel itself."

In his place, would you have expelled them all? All the Arabs in the country?

"But I am not a statesman. I do not put myself in his place. But as an historian, I assert that a mistake was made here. Yes. The non-completion of the transfer was a mistake."

And today? Do you advocate a transfer today?

"If you are asking me whether I support the transfer and expulsion of the Arabs from the West Bank, Gaza and perhaps even from Galilee and the Triangle, I say not at this moment. I am not willing to be a partner to that act. In the present circumstances it is neither moral nor realistic. The world would not allow it, the Arab world would not allow it, it would destroy the Jewish society from within. But I am ready to tell you that in other circumstances, apocalyptic ones, which are liable to be realized in five or ten years, I can see expulsions. If we find ourselves with atomic weapons around us, or if there is a general Arab attack on us and a situation of warfare on the front with Arabs in the rear shooting at convoys on their way to the front, acts of expulsion will be entirely reasonable. They may even be essential."

Including the expulsion of Israeli Arabs?

"The Israeli Arabs are a time bomb. Their slide into complete Palestinization has made them an emissary of the enemy that is among us. They are a potential fifth column. In both demographic and security terms they are liable to undermine the state. So that if Israel again finds itself in a situation of existential threat, as in 1948, it may be forced to act as it did then. If we are attacked by Egypt (after an Islamist revolution in Cairo) and by Syria, and chemical and biological missiles slam into our cities, and at the same time Israeli Palestinians attack us from behind, I can see an expulsion situation. It could happen. If the threat to Israel is existential, expulsion will be justified."

Cultural dementia

Besides being tough, you are also very gloomy. You weren't always like that, were you?

"My turning point began after 2000. I wasn't a great optimist even before that. True, I always voted Labor or Meretz or Sheli [a dovish party of the late 1970s], and in 1988 I refused to serve in the territories and was jailed for it, but I always doubted the intentions of the Palestinians. The events of Camp David and what followed in their wake turned the doubt into certainty. When the Palestinians rejected the proposal of [prime minister Ehud] Barak in July 2000 and the Clinton proposal in December 2000, I understood that they are unwilling to accept the two-state solution. They want it all. Lod and Acre and Jaffa."

If that's so, then the whole Oslo process was mistaken and there is a basic flaw in the entire worldview of the Israeli peace movement.

"Oslo had to be tried. But today it has to be clear that from the Palestinian point of view, Oslo was a deception. [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat did not change for the worse, Arafat simply defrauded us. He was never sincere in his readiness for compromise and conciliation."

Do you really believe Arafat wants to throw us into the sea?

"He wants to send us back to Europe, to the sea we came from. He truly sees us as a Crusader state and he thinks about the Crusader precedent and wishes us a Crusader end. I'm certain that Israeli intelligence has unequivocal information proving that in internal conversations Arafat talks seriously about the phased plan [which would eliminate Israel in stages]. But the problem is not just Arafat. The entire Palestinian national elite is prone to see us as Crusaders and is driven by the phased plan. That's why the Palestinians are not honestly ready to forgo the right of return. They are preserving it as an instrument with which they will destroy the Jewish state when the time comes. They can't tolerate the existence of a Jewish state - not in 80 percent of the country and not in 30 percent. From their point of view, the Palestinian state must cover the whole Land of Israel."

If so, the two-state solution is not viable; even if a peace treaty is signed, it will soon collapse.

"Ideologically, I support the two-state solution. It's the only alternative to the expulsion of the Jews or the expulsion of the Palestinians or total destruction. But in practice, in this generation, a settlement of that kind will not hold water. At least 30 to 40 percent of the Palestinian public and at least 30 to 40 percent of the heart of every Palestinian will not accept it. After a short break, terrorism will erupt again and the war will resume."

Your prognosis doesn't leave much room for hope, does it?

"It's hard for me, too. There is not going to be peace in the present generation. There will not be a solution. We are doomed to live by the sword. I'm already fairly old, but for my children that is especially bleak. I don't know if they will want to go on living in a place where there is no hope. Even if Israel is not destroyed, we won't see a good, normal life here in the decades ahead."

Aren't your harsh words an over-reaction to three hard years of terrorism?

"The bombing of the buses and restaurants really shook me. They made me understand the depth of the hatred for us. They made me understand that the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim hostility toward Jewish existence here is taking us to the brink of destruction. I don't see the suicide bombings as isolated acts. They express the deep will of the Palestinian people. That is what the majority of the Palestinians want. They want what happened to the bus to happen to all of us."

Yet we, too, bear responsibility for the violence and the hatred: the occupation, the roadblocks, the closures, maybe even the Nakba itself.

"You don't have to tell me that. I have researched Palestinian history. I understand the reasons for the hatred very well. The Palestinians are retaliating now not only for yesterday's closure but for the Nakba as well. But that is not a sufficient explanation. The peoples of Africa were oppressed by the European powers no less than the Palestinians were oppressed by us, but nevertheless I don't see African terrorism in London, Paris or Brussels. The Germans killed far more of us than we killed the Palestinians, but we aren't blowing up buses in Munich and Nuremberg. So there is something else here, something deeper, that has to do with Islam and Arab culture."

Are you trying to argue that Palestinian terrorism derives from some sort of deep cultural problem?

"There is a deep problem in Islam. It's a world whose values are different. A world in which human life doesn't have the same value as it does in the West, in which freedom, democracy, openness and creativity are alien. A world that makes those who are not part of the camp of Islam fair game. Revenge is also important here. Revenge plays a central part in the Arab tribal culture. Therefore, the people we are fighting and the society that sends them have no moral inhibitions. If it obtains chemical or biological or atomic weapons, it will use them. If it is able, it will also commit genocide."

I want to insist on my point: A large part of the responsibility for the hatred of the Palestinians rests with us. After all, you yourself showed us that the Palestinians experienced a historical catastrophe.

"True. But when one has to deal with a serial killer, it's not so important to discover why he became a serial killer. What's important is to imprison the murderer or to execute him."

Explain the image: Who is the serial killer in the analogy?

"The barbarians who want to take our lives. The people the Palestinian society sends to carry out the terrorist attacks, and in some way the Palestinian society itself as well. At the moment, that society is in the state of being a serial killer. It is a very sick society. It should be treated the way we treat individuals who are serial killers."

What does that mean? What should we do tomorrow morning?

"We have to try to heal the Palestinians. Maybe over the years the establishment of a Palestinian state will help in the healing process. But in the meantime, until the medicine is found, they have to be contained so that they will not succeed in murdering us."

To fence them in? To place them under closure?

"Something like a cage has to be built for them. I know that sounds terrible. It is really cruel. But there is no choice. There is a wild animal there that has to be locked up in one way or another."

War of barbarians

Benny Morris, have you joined the right wing?

"No, no. I still think of myself as left-wing. I still support in principle two states for two peoples."

But you don't believe that this solution will last. You don't believe in peace.

"In my opinion, we will not have peace, no."

Then what is your solution?

"In this generation there is apparently no solution. To be vigilant, to defend the country as far as is possible."

The iron wall approach?

"Yes. An iron wall is a good image. An iron wall is the most reasonable policy for the coming generation. My colleague Avi Shlein described this well: What Jabotinsky proposed is what Ben-Gurion adopted. In the 1950s, there was a dispute between Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett. Ben-Gurion argued that the Arabs understand only force and that ultimate force is the one thing that will persuade them to accept our presence here. He was right. That's not to say that we don't need diplomacy. Both toward the West and for our own conscience, it's important that we strive for a political solution. But in the end, what will decide their readiness to accept us will be force alone. Only the recognition that they are not capable of defeating us."

For a left-winger, you sound very much like a right-winger, wouldn't you say?

"I'm trying to be realistic. I know it doesn't always sound politically correct, but I think that political correctness poisons history in any case. It impedes our ability to see the truth. And I also identify with Albert Camus. He was considered a left-winger and a person of high morals, but when he referred to the Algerian problem he placed his mother ahead of morality. Preserving my people is more important than universal moral concepts."

Are you a neo-conservative? Do you read the current historical reality in the terms of Samuel Huntington?

"I think there is a clash between civilizations here [as Huntington argues]. I think the West today resembles the Roman Empire of the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries: The barbarians are attacking it and they may also destroy it."

The Muslims are barbarians, then?

"I think the values I mentioned earlier are values of barbarians - the attitude toward democracy, freedom, openness; the attitude toward human life. In that sense they are barbarians. The Arab world as it is today is barbarian."

And in your view these new barbarians are truly threatening the Rome of our time?

"Yes. The West is stronger but it's not clear whether it knows how to repulse this wave of hatred. The phenomenon of the mass Muslim penetration into the West and their settlement there is creating a dangerous internal threat. A similar process took place in Rome. They let the barbarians in and they toppled the empire from within."

Is it really all that dramatic? Is the West truly in danger?

"Yes. I think that the war between the civilizations is the main characteristic of the 21st century. I think President Bush is wrong when he denies the very existence of that war. It's not only a matter of bin Laden. This is a struggle against a whole world that espouses different values. And we are on the front line. Exactly like the Crusaders, we are the vulnerable branch of Europe in this place."

The situation as you describe it is extremely harsh. You are not entirely convinced that we can survive here, are you?

"The possibility of annihilation exists."

Would you describe yourself as an apocalyptic person?

"The whole Zionist project is apocalyptic. It exists within hostile surroundings and in a certain sense its existence is unreasonable. It wasn't reasonable for it to succeed in 1881 and it wasn't reasonable for it to succeed in 1948 and it's not reasonable that it will succeed now. Nevertheless, it has come this far. In a certain way it is miraculous. I live the events of 1948, and 1948 projects itself on what could happen here. Yes, I think of Armageddon. It's possible. Within the next 20 years there could be an atomic war here."

If Zionism is so dangerous for the Jews and if Zionism makes the Arabs so wretched, maybe it's a mistake?

"No, Zionism was not a mistake. The desire to establish a Jewish state here was a legitimate one, a positive one. But given the character of Islam and given the character of the Arab nation, it was a mistake to think that it would be possible to establish a tranquil state here that lives in harmony with its surroundings."

Which leaves us, nevertheless, with two possibilities: either a cruel, tragic Zionism, or the forgoing of Zionism.

"Yes. That's so. You have pared it down, but that's correct."

Would you agree that this historical reality is intolerable, that there is something inhuman about it?

"Yes. But that's so for the Jewish people, not the Palestinians. A people that suffered for 2,000 years, that went through the Holocaust, arrives at its patrimony but is thrust into a renewed round of bloodshed, that is perhaps the road to annihilation. In terms of cosmic justice, that's terrible. It's far more shocking than what happened in 1948 to a small part of the Arab nation that was then in Palestine."

So what you are telling me is that you live the Palestinian Nakba of the past less than you live the possible Jewish Nakba of the future?

"Yes. Destruction could be the end of this process. It could be the end of the Zionist experiment. And that's what really depresses and scares me."

The title of the book you are now publishing in Hebrew is "Victims." In the end, then, your argument is that of the two victims of this conflict, we are the bigger one.

"Yes. Exactly. We are the greater victims in the course of history and we are also the greater potential victim. Even though we are oppressing the Palestinians, we are the weaker side here. We are a small minority in a large sea of hostile Arabs who want to eliminate us. So it's possible than when their desire is realized, everyone will understand what I am saying to you now. Everyone will understand we are the true victims. But by then it will be too late."

Posted by DeLong at January 11, 2004 08:53 AM | TrackBack

Comments

First, a metacomment: you've excerpted what, 70% of the interview here? That's a little above and beyond what most of us tend to think of as "fair use", and it's not like the whole thing isn't available for free at haaretz.com. Was that necessary?

Anyway, sadly, this isn't really news -- Morris has been making noises along these lines ever since the 2nd Intifada started. I guess I can't blame him for drawing the logical conclusions from Arafat's actions, but I sure as hell can blame him for being credulous enough to identify the plan of a small group of corrupt politicians as the secret hearts' desire of the entire Arab population.

The Labour Party made a huge gamble on Arafat at Oslo and lost: life's hard, sometimes that happens. The Israeli left has sat shiva for that loss for more than long enough now: time to pick up, dust off and get back to work. Wearing a hair shirt and scourging yourself, as Morris is doing here, is self-indulgent, precious and highly, highly unhelpful.

Posted by: Doctor Memory on January 11, 2004 11:15 AM

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First, a metacomment: you've excerpted what, 70% of the interview here? That's a little above and beyond what most of us tend to think of as "fair use", and it's not like the whole thing isn't available for free at haaretz.com. Was that necessary?

Anyway, sadly, this isn't really news -- Morris has been making noises along these lines ever since the 2nd Intifada started. I guess I can't blame him for drawing the logical conclusions from Arafat's actions, but I sure as hell can blame him for being credulous enough to identify the plan of a small group of corrupt politicians as the secret hearts' desire of the entire Arab population.

The Labour Party made a huge gamble on Arafat at Oslo and lost: life's hard, sometimes that happens. The Israeli left has sat shiva for that loss for more than long enough now: time to pick up, dust off and get back to work. Wearing a hair shirt and scourging yourself, as Morris is doing here, is self-indulgent, precious and highly, highly unhelpful.

Posted by: Doctor Memory on January 11, 2004 11:17 AM

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This excerpt isn't close to 70%, and in any case I sympathize with Brad, forced to choose among so much incredible material.

Here's one bit he left out:

"I feel sympathy for the Palestinian people, which truly underwent a hard tragedy. I feel sympathy for the refugees themselves. But if the desire to establish a Jewish state here is legitimate, there was no other choice."

An ethical man, a SANE man, might stop at this point and consider whether the necessity of such means did not erode some of that desire's legitimacy.

Posted by: Dave L on January 11, 2004 11:23 AM

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Watch: sombody is going to invoke anti-semitism, Nazis and the Holocost any minute now.

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 11:41 AM

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Watch: sombody is going to invoke anti-semitism, Nazis and the Holocost any minute now.

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 11:46 AM

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Held within the context of the spread of humanity in general and the 'western migration' in particular, it sounds par for the course. What society hasn't done this kind of thing? It's been the 'law of the jungle', so far.

Posted by: CAG on January 11, 2004 11:51 AM

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This interview really frightend me, mostly because I have always respected Benny Morris. He really shined a light on what happened during the war for independence. I didn;t really start to think about this conflict until the early 90's I was very dovish, and probably could have been considered anti-zionist, as I thought a ethnicly defined state to be an anthema to my liberal beliefs.

Morris's change of heart mirrors my own. The more I saw anti-semitism rise around the world the more I started to think of a jewish homeland as a necessity. Morris is willing to pay a very high cost for this, probably much higher then I would like. The cost that Ben-Gurion and his contemporaries were willing to pay was probably considerably higher given the experience in WW2.

What amuses me about this arguement in the context of the current situation is that as it deterorates the more anti-semetism we have in the world. Thus the greater the need for an ethnically homogonous Jewish Homeland. Thus the situation deteriorates, and the circle goes on...

The range of options for the isreali's leaves me very pessamistic. I doubt a negiotiate settlement is possible. To me the Palestians seem like the Jews who in 70AD(?) fought the romans, they were an inferor force that insisted GOD would be on thier side and they would win. Of course they were massacred. ITs been along time since I read the relevent text(Joesifus?), so I am sure this analogy isn't perfect.

Posted by: Mathew on January 11, 2004 12:08 PM

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Leopold writes: sombody is going to invoke anti-semitism, Nazis and the Holocost any minute now.

Mathew writes: ... anti-semetism ... experience in WW2 ...

Took 20 minutes.

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 12:14 PM

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“Israeli historian Benny Morris looks forward to the day when Israel will be able to expel Arabs--all Arabs--Palestinians and Israeli Arabs alike--from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Israel itself . . .”

As the way I read it, Morris does not “look forward” to expelling Arabs, he is saying it might became a necessity following some apocalyptic event in the indefinite future. He is being pessimistic, not hopeful.

The West Bank Arab problem is the last great-unsolved territorial problem from the post-WWII era. Following the war the Allies acquiesced (enabled?) the ethnic cleansing of about ten million ethnic Germans from their ancestral homes in the Sudetenland pursuant to the Beneš Decrees. The Sudeten Germans were deprived of their citizenship, real and personal property and shipped off to Germany in cattle cars. The Sudeten Germans claim 200,000 were killed, while the Czechs put the figure at 20,000 - 40,000. This is still a festering issue in Europe, where some Germans officials want the Czechs to make at least symbolic amends. But the Czech Prime Minister Miloš Zeman said hell no. Moreover he told the Israelis in a newspaper interview that:

“…most Sudeten Germans had been traitors, who deserved what they got…” "And he recommended to the Israeli leaders that expulsion is an appropriate way to solve their crisis with the Palestinians. In passing, Mr Zeman drew a comparison between Yasser Arafat and Hitler.”

There were similar expulsions in other parts of Europe such as Hungry.

Yet we never here about a “right of return for the Sudeten Germans” nor do we see the descendents of the Sudeten Germans engaging in terror tactics to reclaim even a part of their lost homeland.

Unfortunately for the Palestinians, their Arab brothers did not absorb them into (say) Jordan, but instead decided to keep them confined to DP camps in the West Bank so as to create an on-going festering problem. Remember Jordan controlled the West Bank from 1947 to 1967 and did not establish any kind of independent Palestinian state. Instead the Arabs waged war against Israel, both by proxy using Palestinian terrorists and directly as we saw in 1947, 1956, 1967 and 1973.

Finally we should keep in mind that the Palestinians are the enemies of the US as well as Israel. They supported Iraq in both Gulf wars, and when they can, they kill Americans in acts of terror.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on January 11, 2004 12:41 PM

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Leopold: Morris invoked it in the interview, so predicting that it would get discussed in the commentary here earns you zero Kreskin Points.

Posted by: Doctor Memory on January 11, 2004 12:42 PM

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Israel as a people has survived two millenia 0f persecution in the diaspora exactly because it was an ethical and spritual movement, and it was dispersed all over the world. If its survival as a political state requires it to become "like any other nation", and specifically like any other Middle Eastern nation, then it will not, and will not deserve, to survive. It is a vile and low ambition to become "like any other nation". I did not survive Bergen-Belsen in 1944-45, and I am much too proud of the Jewish contribution to the ethical, spiritual, scientific and artistic development of human civilization, in order to want to become like "any other people". Clearly, nobody has the right to inflict the danger of martyrdom on other persons, I least of all; but the Jews of Israel are deluding themselves that the solution to the problem of survival lies in political and military power. As a great Hungarian writer once wrote: "I would rather be devoured by vermin than devour vermin myself."

Posted by: Thomas T. Schweitzer on January 11, 2004 12:48 PM

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Doctor Memory writes: Leopold: Morris invoked it in the interview...

I did not see it in the excerpt Brad posted. You think he may be anti-semite?

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 12:48 PM

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Doctor Memory writes: Leopold: Morris invoked it in the interview...

I did not see it in the excerpt Brad posted. You think he may be anti-semite?

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 12:53 PM

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A. Zarkov: Yes, WW2 caused untold suffering to many nations and the Jews suffered far more than most. And the rest of the world does understand that Israel is in the box. But the box was made partially by the grandfathers - founders of the state of Israel in 1947 and partially by the fathers in 1967. The children - today's state of Israel - must find a way to break this box without expeliing Arabs or giving them all citizenship. You just cannot let it fester anymore, guys - like Russia's Chechnya its a sore on the face of the world. And please, stop claiming that any critique of Israel (not Jews as a nation, but Israel as a state) is anti-semitism - you are only loosing friends this way.

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 01:12 PM

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I have never heard of Benny Morris before. I just saw one sentence he said during the interview and decided not to take him seriously:

"But my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all."

Context:

" If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types. But my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all..."

The big hole in this line of thought is "resolved once and for all".

Benny Morris doesn't know how to count.

He doesn't even understand history.

So I won't take him seriously.

I'm not concerning myself with the affairs of this geography any way.

Posted by: bulent on January 11, 2004 01:18 PM

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He's right. One piece of land cannot be owned by two ethnic groups at once. Nothing can change that. If they had just expelled the Arabs, it would have ended up eventually being as much of a non-issue as the destruction of the Native Americans is today, or the expulsion of the Germans east of the Oder, or the destruction of the Amelikites (never heard of them? Neither has anybody else.)

You can find a similar argument, with different ethnic groups, in Mein Kampf.

Posted by: rps on January 11, 2004 01:46 PM

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Leopold: I did not see it in the excerpt Brad posted. You think he may be anti-semite?

It's in the full interview. Stop being deliberately obtuse.

Bulent: I have never heard of Benny Morris before. I just saw one sentence he said during the interview and decided not to take him seriously

That would be a very large mistake. Morris may be speaking completely ex recto in this interview, but he is well worth taking seriously as a scholar. Righteous Victims is probably the best single account of the Arab/Zionist conflict ever written, and The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem was basically the (highly controversial) foundation stone of the Israel "new historian" movement.

(Stupid MT won't let me put links to the books in this comment. Search for "Benny Morris" on your bookslinger of choice.)

Posted by: Doctor Memory on January 11, 2004 01:56 PM

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Thomas T. Schweitzer writes: I did not survive Bergen-Belsen in 1944-45, and I am much too proud of the Jewish contribution to the ethical, spiritual, scientific and artistic development of human civilization, in order to want to become like "any other people".

Mystics and zealots can exist in any nation. However the state of Israel cannot afford to be a theocracy. The messianistic, ultra-nationalistic elements in Israel's national doctrine is a part of the box it is in.

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 01:57 PM

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Here is the set of actions available to for Israel to deal with the Palestinians. The set is not exhaustive, nor immutable.

1. The Jews leave Israel en masse and return it to the Arabs.
2. Any Palestinian (to be defined) can immigrate to Israel, acquire full citizenship status, and claim any and all real property in possession of his forefathers in 1947.
3. Action 2 except for the property part.
4. Israel sets up a sovereign state for the Palestinians based on the 1967 borders, which includes East Jerusalem. The Jews residing in East Jerusalem are expelled.
5. Action 4 except the Jews stay in East Jerusalem.
6. Action 4 without East Jerusalem.
7. Action 6 except for the Golan Heights and other buffer zones.
8. One of 4-7 except the Palestinian state does not have full sovereignty. For example it cannot make treaties, nor have offensive weapons either tactical or strategic. It cannot have foreign military bases. Otherwise it can have any kind of government it wants.
9. Action 8 except the form of government is limited to something like a democracy.
10. The West Bank Territories are incorporated in the State of Israel something like Puerto Rico is a part of the US.
11. The West Bank Territories are incorporated in the State of Israel, but Israel administers the territory controlling police, and schools. Something like Micronesia.
12. The status quo is maintained indefinitely.
13. The Palestinians are expelled to Jordan, and the West Bank Territory becomes a buffer zone.

The Palestinians want something near the top of the list while the Israelis are divided. Some Israelis want 8 while others see 13 as the ultimate solution. The Palestinians through Arafat have already rejected something that approximates 7. The Palestinian strategy is to keep up the terror and rejection in the hopes of climbing higher on the list. Thus the Israelis must punish rejection of an offer by forcing them down the list, like a sale where the price goes up after a certain date. In my opinion, the Palestinians will never accept anything short of action 2 which they feel will lead to action 1. Israel won’t do 11 because they think it too costly. That leaves 13 which is what Bennie Morris the Left Wing Pacifist is telling us.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on January 11, 2004 01:59 PM

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Thomas T. Schweitzer writes: I did not survive Bergen-Belsen in 1944-45, and I am much too proud of the Jewish contribution to the ethical, spiritual, scientific and artistic development of human civilization, in order to want to become like "any other people".

Mystics and zealots can exist in any nation. However the state of Israel cannot afford to be a theocracy. The messianistic, ultra-nationalistic elements in Israel's national doctrine is a part of the box it is in.

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 02:02 PM

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A.Zarkov: you left out the obvious 14th option, and the one that it seems plausible that the Sharon government is currently edging toward: Israel establishes a defensible border (not necessarily the same thing or even close to "the 1967 border") around the West Bank and Gaza and pulls back to it, leaving the Palestinians to pick whatever horrid form of government they care to.

Such a plan would be contingent on relocating a fair number of settlers, hence the sudden re-expansion into the Golan Heights, since if there's one thing that pretty much all the players here other than Assad agree on, it's that the Syrians can go piss up a rope. :)

Posted by: Doctor Memory on January 11, 2004 02:12 PM

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Compare and contrast with white South Africa in 1980.
White South Africa, of course, did not go down the pah of lunacy. What is the major difference? I contend it is that Israel believes, probably correctly, that the US will bail them out not matter how stupidly they behave, whereas White South Africa was not aided and abetted by the US.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on January 11, 2004 02:13 PM

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A. Zarkov: excellent summary. A box. But why not a confederacy - Jewish state rules internal affairs of Jewish lands, Palestinian state rules internal affairs of Palestinian lands, common organizations of the confederacy ensure security and infrastructure development. The pull on the confederacy level is by monetary contribution but each state has a veto.

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 02:42 PM

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A. Zarkov: excellent summary. A box. But why not a confederacy - Jewish state rules internal affairs of Jewish lands, Palestinian state rules internal affairs of Palestinian lands, common organizations of the confederacy ensure security and infrastructure development. The pull on the confederacy level is by monetary contribution but each state has a veto.

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 02:47 PM

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Doctor Memory: Your option 14 is essentially covered by my option 7. But there is a problem with a full sovereign Palestinian state. Such a state can make alliances, allow over flights, foreign military bases etc, which could have severe consequences for Israel in the future. Besides Arafat has already rejected my option 7 or your option 14. Will he take less? I don’t think so. Especially with the constant drumbeat from Leftists in Europe and America egging him on to ask for more.

As for the settlements, I think ultimately they are a non-problem. However what about the Arab Israelis? If the settlements must go then you are saying that Jews can’t live in an Arab land, yet Arabs can live in the Jewish state. That contradiction is hard to swallow for some people. The Syrians are not in a good position to demand anything on the Golan Heights. They have the Israelis on one side and the American army on the other. Turkey and Jordan are in the American camp. They just have to learn that when you lose a war, you lose territory. So what you say makes a lot of sense.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on January 11, 2004 02:56 PM

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"[...]As for the settlements, I think ultimately they are a non-problem."

The problem is that for most of them they were done on land that did not belonged to Israel nor to Israelis.

" However what about the Arab Israelis? If the settlements must go then you are saying that Jews can’t live in an Arab land, yet Arabs can live in the Jewish state. That contradiction is hard to swallow for some people."

The Arabs living in what is now Israel were there on their lands from before the existence of modern Israel. They did not expoliate anyone. And it does not means that Jews cannot live in a Arab land, in fact a lot had done so for more than a millenium.

" The Syrians are not in a good position to demand anything on the Golan Heights. They have the Israelis on one side and the American army on the other. Turkey and Jordan are in the American camp. They just have to learn that when you lose a war, you lose territory. So what you say makes a lot of sense. "

I see, might makes right. Stop the lies about democracy in Iraq, then.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on January 11, 2004 03:11 PM

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http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=574&ncid=721&e=1&u=/nm/20040111/wl_nm/mideast_dc writes: Fellow cabinet member Uzi Landau, a stalwart of the ruling Likud party, suggested that Palestinians rather than settlers should be moved. "If Jewish communities can be relocated, Arab communities can also be relocated," he said.

Well, if the state of Israel is not looking for the solution for both Jews and Arabs but
willing to use the same methods as for example Serbia, why should the rest of the world treat it any better?

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 03:18 PM

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Doctor Memory writes: It's in the full interview. Stop being deliberately obtuse.

Well, thanks for the suggestion.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/380984.html
A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads.

I say US support for Israel got to stop.

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 03:51 PM

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Jaume: By a “non-problem” I mean the Israel will abandon the West Bank settlements as part of a workable deal just as they abandoned the settlements in the Sinai pursuant to the peace treaty with Egypt. The legal status of the West Bank territories is somewhat murky. Jews claim to have lived in the West Bank territories since ancient times except for the period 1948-1967 when Jordan kept them out in violation of the Mandate from the League of Nations. UN resolution 242 calls on Israel to administer the territories until a just and lasting peace is achieved. However the wording of 242 deliberately uses the construction “territories” and not “the territories.” This means that 242 does not require Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders. In any case, no peace treaty has been concluded and Israel still administers the territories in the West Bank.

As to the idea “might makes right,” with respect to land and war, Arabs certainly believe this, as do Europeans, Americans, Russians and virtually everyone else. Poland now possesses land that belonged to Germany before WWII. Gdansk used to be Danzig. And as I said before, the Czechs (with the approval of the US, Britain, France and Russia) took back Sudetenland and expelled 10 million ethnic Germans from a place they have lived for hundreds of years. For that matter why can’t even living Jews return to Germany, Poland and other European countries and claim the homes that the Third Reich expropriated? They can’t, Europeans are living in them, and that’s that.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on January 11, 2004 04:29 PM

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Antoni Jaume states: I see, might makes right.

Syria is anything but a defenseless, "might-less" victim here. Rather the opposite: they're the only Arab power that has consistantly managed to defend and further their own interests against Israeli intentions, from 1948 on up through the present day.

They lost the Golan because they entered (and indeed, largely engineered) a war which they should not have , and never regained it because they never displayed even the smallest willingness to negotiate in good faith for its return. Global sympathy for them is accordingly limited. (Even among their neighbors, who observed all-too-closely the Assads' treatment of al-Ikhwan and Lebanon.)

Posted by: Doctor Memory on January 11, 2004 06:49 PM

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Mr. Arar's press statement:

-----------------------

[taken from Max Young's website, which took it from www.nationofcool.com]

The following statement was read by Maher Arar in Ottawa on November 4,
2003, less than one month after being released from prison in Syria:

Maher Arar

I am here today to tell the people of Canada what has happened to me.

There have been many allegations made about me in the media, all of them
by people who refuse to be named or come forward. So before I tell you who
I am and what happened to me, I will tell you who I am not.

I am not a terrorist. I am not a member of al-Qaeda and I do not know any
one who belongs to this group. All I know about al-Qaeda is what I have
seen in the media. I have never been to Afghanistan. I have never been
anywhere near Afghanistan and I do not have any desire to ever go to
Afghanistan.

Now, let me tell you who I am.

I am a Syrian-born Canadian. I moved here with my parents when I was 17
years old. I went to university and studied hard, and eventually obtained
a Masters degree in telecommunications. I met my wife, Monia at McGill
University. We fell in love and eventually married in 1994. I knew then
that she was special, but I had no idea how special she would turn out to
be.

If it were not for her I believe I would still be in prison.

We had our first child, a daughter named Bara, in February, 1997. She is
six years old now. In December, 1997, we moved to Ottawa from Montreal.
I took a job with a high tech firm, called The MathWorks, in Boston in
1999, and my job involved a lot of travel within the U.S.

Then in 2001 I decided to come back to Ottawa to start my own consulting
company. We had our second child, Houd, in February, 2002. He is 20 months
old now.

So this is who I am. I am a father and a husband. I am a
telecommunications engineer and entrepreneur. I have never had trouble
with the police, and have always been a good citizen. So I still cannot
believe what has happened to me, and how my life and career have been
destroyed.

In September 2002, I was with my wife and children, and her family,
vacationing in Tunis. I got an e-mail from the MathWorks saying that they
might need me soon to assess a potential consulting work for one of their
customers. I said goodbye to my wife and family, and headed back home to
prepare for work.

I was using my air miles to travel, and the best flight I could get went
from Tunis, to Zurich, to New York, to Montreal. My flight arrived in New
York at 2:00 p.m. on September 26th, 2002. I had a few hours to wait until
my connecting flight to Montreal.

This is when my nightmare began. I was pulled aside at immigration and
taken to another area. Two hours later some officials came and told me
this was regular procedure. They took my fingerprints and photographs.

Then some police came and searched my bags and copied my Canadian
passport. I was getting worried, and I asked what was going on, and they
would not answer. I asked to make a phone call, and they would not let me.

Then a team of people came and told me they wanted to ask me some
questions. One man was from the FBI, and another was from the New York
Police Department. I was scared and did not know what was going on. I
told them I wanted a lawyer. They told me I had no right to a lawyer,
because I was not an American citizen.

They asked me where I worked and how much money I made. They swore at me,
and insulted me. It was very humiliating. They wanted me to answer every
question quickly. They were consulting a report while they were
questioning me, and the information they had was so private I thought this
must be from Canada.

I told them everything I knew. They asked me about my travel in the United
States. I told them about my work permits, and my business there. They
asked about information on my computer and whether I was willing to share
it. I welcomed the idea, but I don't know if they did.

They asked me about different people, some I know, and most I do not. They
asked me about Abdullah Almalki, and I told them I worked with his brother
at high-tech firms in Ottawa, and that the Almalki family had come from
Syria about the same time as mine. I told them I did not know Abdullah
well, but had seen him a few times and I described the times I could
remember. I told them I had a casual relationship with him.

They were so rude with me, yelling at me that I had a selective memory.
Then they pulled out a copy of my rental lease from 1997. I could not
believe they had this. I was completely shocked. They pointed out that
Abdullah had signed the lease as a witness. I had completely forgotten
that he had signed it for me when we moved to Ottawa in 1997, we needed
someone to witness our lease, and I phoned Abdullah's brother, and he
could not come, so he sent Abdullah.

But they thought I was hiding this. I told them the truth. I had nothing
to hide. I had never had problems in the United States before, and I could
not believe what was happening to me. This interrogation continued until
midnight. I was very, very worried, and asked for a lawyer again and
again. They just ignored me. Then they put me in chains, on my wrists and
ankles, and took me in a van to a place where many people were being held
in another building by the airport. They would not tell me what was
happening. At 1:00 in the morning they put me in a room with metal benches
in it. I could not sleep. I was very, very scared and disoriented. The
next morning they started questioning me again. They asked me about what I
think about bin Laden, Palestine, Iraq. They also asked me about the
mosques I pray in, my bank accounts, my e-mail addresses, my relatives,
about everything.

This continued on and off for eight hours. Then a man from the INS came
in and told me they wanted me to volunteer to go to Syria. I said no way.
I said I wanted to go home to Canada or sent back to Switzerland. He said
to me you are a special interest. They asked me to sign a form. They
would not let me read it, but I just signed it. I was exhausted and
confused and disoriented. I had not slept or eaten since I was in the
plane. At about 6:00 in the evening they brought me some cold McDonalds
meal to eat. This was the first food I had eaten since the last meal I had
on the plane.

At about 8:00 they put all the shackles and chains back on, and put me in
a van, and drove me to a prison. I later learned this was the Metropolitan
Detention Center. They would not tell me what was happening, or where I
was going. They strip searched me. It was humiliating. They put me in an
orange suit, and took me to a doctor, where they made me sign forms, and
gave me a vaccination. I asked what it was, and they would not tell me. My
arm was red for almost two weeks from that.

They took me to a cell. I had never seen a prison before in my life, and I
was terrified. I asked again for a phone call, and a lawyer. They just
ignored me. They treated me differently than the other prisoners. They
would not give me a toothbrush or toothpaste, or reading material. I did
get a copy of the Quran about two days later.

After five days, they let me make a phone call. I called Monia's mother,
who was here in Ottawa, and told her I was scared they might send me to
Syria, and asked her to help find me a lawyer. They would only let me talk
for two minutes.

On the seventh or eighth day they brought me a document, saying they had
decided to deport me, and I had a choice of where to be deported. I wrote
that I wanted to go to Canada. It asked if I had concerns about going to
Canada. I wrote no, and signed it. The Canadian consul came on October 4,
and I told her I was scared of being deported to Syria. She told me that
would not happen. She told me that a lawyer was being arranged. I was very
upset, and scared. I could barely talk.

The next day, a lawyer came. She told me not to sign any document unless
she was present. We could only talk for 30 minutes. She said she would try
to help me. That was a Saturday. On Sunday night at about 9:00 p.m., the
guards came to my cell and told me my lawyer was there to see me. I
thought it was a strange time, and they took me into a room with seven or
eight people in it. I asked where my lawyer was. They told me he had
refused to come and started questioning me again. They said they wanted to
know why I did not want to go back to Syria. I told them I would be
tortured there. I told them I had not done my military service; I am a
Sunni Muslim; my mother's cousin had been accused of being a member of the
Muslim Brotherhood and was put in prison for nine years.

They asked me to sign a document and I refused. I told them they could not
send me to Syria or I would be tortured. I asked again for a lawyer. At
three in the morning they took me back to my cell. At 3:00 in the morning
on Tuesday, October 8th, a prison guard woke me up and told me I was
leaving. They took me to another room and stripped and searched me again.
Then they again chained and shackled me. Then two officials took me inside
a room and read me what they said was a decision by the INS Director.

They told me that based on classified information that they could not
reveal to me, I would be deported to Syria. I said again that I would be
tortured there. Then they read part of the document where it explained
that INS was not the body that deals with Geneva Conventions regarding
torture.

Then they took me outside into a car and drove me to an airport in New
Jersey. Then they put me on a small private jet. I was the only person on
the plane with them. I was still chained and shackled. We flew first to
Washington. A new team of people got on the plane and the others left. I
overheard them talking on the phone, saying that Syria was refusing to
take me directly, but Jordan would take me.

Then we flew to Portland, to Rome, and then to Amman, Jordan. All the time
I was on the plane I was thinking how to avoid being tortured. I was very
scared. We landed in Amman at 3:00 in the morning local time on October
9th.

They took me out of plane and there were six or seven Jordanian men
waiting for us. They blindfolded and chained me, and put me in a van.
They made me bend my head down in the back seat. Then, these men started
beating me. Every time I tried to talk they beat me. For the first few
minutes it was very intense.

Thirty minutes later we arrived at a building where they took off my
blindfold and asked routine questions, before taking me to a cell. It was
around 4:30 in the morning on October 9. Later that day, they took my
fingerprints, and blindfolded me and put me in a van. I asked where I was
going, and they told me I was going back to Montreal.

About 45 minutes later, I was put into a different car. These men started
beating me again. They made me keep my head down, and it was very
uncomfortable, but every time I moved, they beat me again. Over an hour
later we arrived at what I think was the border with Syria. I was put in
another car and we drove for another three hours. I was taken into a
building, where some guards went through my bags and took some chocolates
I bought in Zurich.

I asked one of the people where I was and he told me I was in the
Palestine branch of the Syrian military intelligence. It was now about
6:00 in the evening on October 9. Three men came and took me into a room.
I was very, very scared. They put me on a chair, and one of the men
started asking me questions. I later learned this man was a colonel. He
asked me about my brothers, and why we had left Syria. I answered all the
questions.

If I did not answer quickly enough, he would point to a metal chair in the
corner and ask Do you want me to use this? I did not know then what that
chair was for. I learned later it was used to torture people. I asked him
what he wanted to hear. I was terrified, and I did not want to be
tortured. I would say anything to avoid torture. This lasted for four
hours. There was no violence, only threats this day. At about 1:00 in the
morning, the guards came to take me to my cell downstairs.

We went into the basement, and they opened a door, and I looked in. I
could not believe what I saw. I asked how long I would be kept in this
place. He did not answer, but put me in and closed the door. It was like a
grave. It had no light. It was three feet wide. It was six feet deep.

It was seven feet high. It had a metal door, with a small opening in the
door, which did not let in light because there was a piece of metal on the
outside for sliding things into the cell.

There was a small opening in the ceiling, about one foot by two feet with
iron bars. Over that was another ceiling, so only a little light came
through this. There were cats and rats up there, and from time to time the
cats peed through the opening into the cell. There were two blankets, two
dishes and two bottles. One bottle was for water and the other one was
used for urinating during the night. Nothing else. No light.

I spent 10 months, and 10 days inside that grave.

The next day I was taken upstairs again. The beating started that day and
was very intense for a week, and then less intense for another week. That
second and the third days were the worst. I could hear other prisoners
being tortured, and screaming and screaming.

Interrogations are carried out in different rooms. One tactic they use is
to question prisoners for two hours, and then put them in a waiting room,
so they can hear the others screaming, and then bring them back to
continue the interrogation.

The cable is a black electrical cable, about two inches thick. They hit me
with it everywhere on my body. They mostly aimed for my palms, but
sometimes missed and hit my wrists. They were sore and red for three
weeks. They also struck me on my hips, and lower back. Interrogators
constantly threatened me with the metal chair, tire and electric shocks.

The tire is used to restrain prisoners while they torture them with
beating on the sole of their feet. I guess I was lucky, because they put
me in the tire, but only as a threat. I was not beaten while in tire. They
used the cable on the second and third day, and after that mostly beat me
with their hands, hitting me in the stomach and on the back of my neck,
and slapping me on the face. Where they hit me with the cables, my skin
turned blue for two or three weeks, but there was no bleeding. At the end
of the day they told me tomorrow would be worse. So I could not sleep.

Then on the third day, the interrogation lasted about 18 hours. They beat
me from time to time and make me wait in the waiting room for one to two
hours before resuming the interrogation. While in the waiting room I heard
a lot of people screaming. They wanted me to say I went to Afghanistan.
This was a surprise to me. They had not asked about this in the United
States.

They kept beating me so I had to falsely confess and told them I did go to
Afghanistan. I was ready to confess to anything if it would stop the
torture. They wanted me to say I went to a training camp. I was so scared
I urinated on myself twice. The beating was less severe each of the
following days.

At the end of each day, they would always say, Tomorrow will be harder for
you. So each night, I could not sleep. I did not sleep for the first four
days, and slept no more than two hours a day for about two months. Most
of time I was not taken back to my cell, but to the waiting room where I
could hear all the prisoners being tortured and screaming.

One time, I heard them banging a man's head repeatedly on a desk really
hard. Around October 17th, the beatings subsided. Their next tactic was
to take me in a room, blindfolded, and people would talk about me. I could
hear them saying, He knows lots of people who are terrorists; we will get
their numbers; he is a liar; he has been out of the country for long.

Then they would say, lets be frank, lets be friends, tell us the truth,
and come around the desk, and slap me on the face. They played lots of
mind games. The interrogation and beating ended three days before I had my
first consular visit, on October 23.

I was taken from my cell and my beard was shaved. I was taken to another
building, and there was the colonel in the hallway with some other men and
they all seemed very nervous and agitated.

I did not know what was happening and they would not tell me. They never
say what is happening. You never know what will happen next. I was told
not to tell anything about the beating, then I was taken into a room for a
ten minute meeting with the consul. The colonel was there, and three other
Syrian officials including an interpreter. I cried a lot at that meeting.
I could not say anything about the torture. I thought if I did, I would
not get any more visits, or I might be beaten again.

After that visit, about a month after I arrived, they called me up to sign
and place my thumb print on a document about seven pages long. They would
not let me read it, but I had to put my thumb print and signature on the
bottom of each page. It was handwritten.

Another document was about three pages long, with questions: Who are your
friends? How long have you been out of the country? Last question was
empty lines. They answered the questions with their own handwriting except
for the last one where I was forced to write that I had been to
Afghanistan.

The consular visits were my lifeline, but I also found them very
frustrating. There were seven consular visits, and one visit from members
of parliament. After the visits I would bang my head and my fist on the
wall in frustration. I needed the visits, but I could not say anything
there.

I got new clothes after the December 10th consular visit. Until then, I
had been wearing the same clothes since being on the jet from the United
States.

On three different occasions in December I had a very hard time. Memories
crowded my mind and I thought I was going to lose control, and I just
screamed and screamed. I could not breathe well after, and felt very
dizzy.

I was not exposed to sunlight for six months. The only times I left the
grave was for interrogation, and for the visits. Daily life in that place
was hell. When I was detained in New York I weighed about 180 pounds. I
think I lost about 40 pounds while I was at the Palestine Branch.

On August 19 I was taken upstairs to see the investigator, and I was given
a paper and asked to write what he dictated. If I protested, he kicked me.
I was forced to write that I went to a training camp in Afghanistan. They
made me sign and put my thumbprint on the last page.

The same day I was transferred to a different place, which I learnt later
was the Investigation Branch. I was placed there in a 12 feet by 20 feet
collective cell. We were about 50 people in that place. The next day I was
taken to the Sednaya prison. I was very lucky that I was not tortured when
I arrived there. All the other prisoners were tortured when they arrived.

Sednaya prison was like heaven for me. I could move around, and talk with
other prisoners. I could buy food to eat and I gained a lot of weight
there. I was only beaten once there.

On around September 19 or 20, I heard the other prisoners saying that
another Canadian had arrived there. I looked up, and saw a man, but I did
not recognize him. His head was shaved, and he was very, very thin and
pale. He was very weak. When I looked closer, I recognized him. It was
Abdullah Almalki. He told me he had also been at the Palestine Branch, and
that he had also been in a grave like I had been except he had been in it
longer.

He told me he had been severely tortured with the tire, and the cable. He
was also hanged upside down. He was tortured much worse than me. He had
also been tortured when he was brought to Sednaya, so that was only two
weeks before.

I do not know why they have Abdullah there. What I can say for sure is
that no human deserves to be treated the way he was, and I hope that
Canada does all they can to help him.

On September 28 I was taken out and blindfolded and put in what felt like
a bus and taken back to the Palestine Branch. They would not tell me what
was happening, and I was scared I was going back to the grave. Instead, I
was put in one of the waiting rooms where they torture people. I could
hear the prisoners being tortured, and screaming, again.

The same day I was called in to an office to answer more questions, about
what I would say if I came back to Canada. They did not tell me I would be
released.

I was put back in the waiting room, and I was kept there for one week,
listening to all the prisoners screaming. It was awful.

On Sunday, October 5th I was taken out and into a car and driven to a
court. I was put in a room with a prosecutor. I asked for a lawyer and he
said I did not need one. I asked what was going on and he read from my
confession. I tried to argue I was beaten and did not go to Afghanistan,
but he did not listen. He did not tell me what I was charged with, but
told me to stamp my fingerprint and sign on a document he would not let me
see.

Then he said I would be released.

Then I was taken back to the Palestine Branch where I met the head of the
Syrian Military Intelligence and officials from the Canadian embassy. And
then I was released. I want to conclude by thanking all of the people who
worked for my release, especially my wife Monia, and human rights groups,
and all the people who wrote letters, and all the members of parliament
who stood up for justice.

Of course I thank all of the journalists for covering my story.

The past year has been a nightmare, and I have spent the past few weeks at
home trying to learn how to live with what happened to me. I know that the
only way I will ever be able to move on in my life and have a future is if
I can find out why this happened to me.

I want to know why this happened to me. I believe the only way I can ever
know why this happened is to have all the truth come out in a public
inquiry.

My priority right now is to clear my name, get to the bottom of the case
and make sure this does not happen to any other Canadian citizens in the
future. I believe the best way to go about achieving this goal is to put
pressure on the government to call for a public inquiry.

What is at stake here is the future of our country, the interests of
Canadian citizens, and most importantly Canada's international reputation
for being a leader in human rights where citizens from different ethnic
groups are treated no different than other Canadians.

Thank you for your patience.

End of statement.

Posted by: polar on January 11, 2004 06:59 PM

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"As to the idea “might makes right,” with respect to land and war, Arabs certainly believe this, as do Europeans, Americans, Russians and virtually everyone else. Poland now possesses land that belonged to Germany before WWII. Gdansk used to be Danzig..."

Yes, but as long as there are honorable and just people in the world, then they'll continue to make noise, and expose the criminals and their hypcracy. By hypocrisy I mean that the killers don't make the argument that might is right, but rather that they are right and that their intelocutors have no rights. So the "might is right" argument is just a last ditch defense after all else fails to exonerate the perpetrators and relegate the victims to the dustbin of history. So the argument that "might is right" is nothing but an added layer of vindictivness in order to legitimize the killers.

Posted by: Jacques Engelstein on January 11, 2004 07:11 PM

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"Finally we should keep in mind that the Palestinians are the enemies of the US as well as Israel. They supported Iraq in both Gulf wars, and when they can, they kill Americans in acts of terror"

And Americans and Israelis never killed their victims, despite "might makes right". A double-edged argument, as already mentioned.

What would have been more apt to say is that America and Israel is the enemy of Palestinians not the other way around. Here is the Israeli state usurping Palestinians from their land with the help of the American taxpayer, and they're supposed to support their enemies? You mean not only should Palestinians accept their victimhood but should support their attackers as well.

Spoken like a true imperialist: the natives should know their place and accept everything that is heaped upon them with a smile and congratulations to boot.

Posted by: Jacques Engelstein on January 11, 2004 07:30 PM

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You are all clearly anti-semites.

Posted by: David Brooks on January 11, 2004 08:01 PM

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You are all clearly anti-semites.

Posted by: David Brooks on January 11, 2004 08:02 PM

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Frankly, this whole discussion gives me the creeps. The tone and manner in which ethnic cleansing is discussed and (sort of) justified, the way in which the unthinkable has become thinkable, then talkable, then a possible course of action over time, more and more convince me that "transfer" will ultimately happen. It's not my desire and will watch it with anger and sorrow but it seems the only "solution" (in the nazi sense of "solution") that has become increasingly probable over the years.
My question for the people that posts in this forum would be ¿If the Palestinian "transfer" is finally accomplished, what would be the consequences for the USA and the world in general?

Posted by: Carlos on January 11, 2004 08:50 PM

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David Brooks writes: You are all clearly anti-semites.

No trolls, please.

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 08:59 PM

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"If the Palestinian "transfer" is finally accomplished, what would be the consequences for the USA and the world in general?"

The only consequences I can see are continued moral degeneration. The moral fiber of the culture continues to implode in Israel as well as in America with each crime. Since the conservative backlash in the U.S. we've descended a long way.

What do you do? There is progress and then one regresses. But, as an individual, you always have to try. So, don't give up! Join an activist group that fights the tyranny. Progress is always possible.

Posted by: Jacques Engelstein on January 11, 2004 10:10 PM

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Brad, You have some kind of fixation on nuclear destruction. It's really no big deal, but I'd be much happier if you stopped speculating on Tel Aviv.

Don't you think it's a non-governmental organization like Al Qaeda that's going to get the bomb, and that the bomb will be used on a nice 'white' American city, maybe in the South.

The reason Tel Aviv is probably safe is that we are living on Arab land and we are infested with Arabs. We'll probably have to be dislodged by conventional means. In fact, the Arabs are getting smart. They know they can outlast us and beat us with the population bomb.

Tel Aviv Reader

Posted by: Tel Aviv Reader on January 11, 2004 11:31 PM

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Tel Aviv Reader writes: we are living on Arab land and we are infested with Arabs

I can only assume this is a troll. I am living on the American land and I am infested with Americans - nah, got to be a troll.

Posted by: Leopold on January 11, 2004 11:58 PM

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Think a recent documentary moment encapsulates both the majority Israeli mentality, and the likely outcome of the US "roadmap for peace":

These documentarians were interviewing an elderly Palestinian farmer, standing on the barren land left, where once had stood his traditional earth brick home and olive orchard.

He explained that the Israeli's, in seizing the 1967 territories, had declared null and void any property agreements or land titles that didn't conform to Israeli law. When the Palestinians applied for proper paperwork, yielding up their own Arabic title documents and family histories as proof, papers were "lost" by authorities, declared invalid, or returned illegible.

The Israeli government declared those lands as essential security areas, and bulldozed the Palestinian homes outright, which they claimed had no "legal title" to the land, although, prima fascia, here there were, on their own land for all of their recorded history, and ours.
Then US foreign aid was funneled to Israeli contractors to build Israeli settlements, lovely rural Mediterranean condos with (seized from Palestinians) irrigation systems and olive orchards, and of course, razor wire fences.

The poor Palestinian farmer was shaking with grief as he looked through the fence at his former orchard, there on a blasted crater of rubble that was once his home, when, (and here the documentary became a live coverage), this Israeli women, in Costa del Sol coiffure, dark sunglasses and short skirt, drove up, got out of her Mercedes, and strode over toward the group.

She turned all her wrath on the poor Palestinian with this analogy, (in English of all tongues, no doubt for (British) documentary's benefit):
"You know the game of football (soccer) don't you? DON'T YOU?!" she spit in the farmer's face.
(He nodded, ashen)
"Well," she continued with her rave, "we won the game, you people lost, and we keep the ball. Now get out of here!"

Thus the same mentality that led the Israelis to force Palestinians from their homes in 1948 has survived right up until today. Then, they were given 24 hours to lock up their homes, take care of their businesses and crops, then walk to the resettlement lands. When they returned to check on their crops, their homes had been obliterated.

My Israeli friend here in the States sums up the philosophy in a few words: "God's roadmap gave the Lands of Israel to us, not the Palestinians."

This Sharon is, above all, a trickster, if you watch him on TV, you can see his eyes sparkle everytime he promises concessions, Palestinians respond, and then he reveals his real intent, like his plan to build more settlements in Gaza, or meander his new 30-foot high "security" wall between the 1967 border and the last quality water supplies and orchards on West Bank land.
He's redolent of George Bush, in a way, so it's ironic that there'd even *be* a US "Roadmap for Peace", until you saw how the SoS poo-poo'd the Geneva Accords attempt to actually achieve it.

It reminds me of First Nations' Trail of Tears.
The peace the US and Israel are seeking is like the peace after the last First Nation tribe was defeated, and moved onto permanent reservation. What was that, one hundred fifteen years ago? Twice as long as Palestinians! And then the US violated every treaty written, am I right? More, DoI's BIA, (siphoning off maybe 90% of treaty obligations payments for its own "administrative overhead"), also, in managing to "lose" $10sB in resource royalties on the tribal lands that it administers, refuses to cooperate with Congress?

And what's those resettled peoples unemployment levels look like today, something like 80%, eh? Lowest income and standard of living in America? Highest level of disease and suicide? Right?

That's what Israel is planning for Palestine. Apartheid. Soweto. That's their plan for "peace" (and quiet), "Just get *OUT* of here!" Hey, they won, (are winning a good deal more every day).
"To the victor belongs the spoils of the enemy." W.L. Marcy

(Or as my ex- likes to yell at me over support,
"Why don't you just f&*kin' DIE!" ;)

Posted by: Petty Bone on January 12, 2004 12:03 AM

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The Europeans, after a few years of fragementation, are making uncertain steps towards unification. The crazies in the middle east are stuck in tiny countries the size of New England states. If somehow they can get sane leaders (political and religious) over there, they could integrate into a single country. If Iraq can stay a single country, surely Jordan and Israel can join as one secular state.

....

And then the alarm clock rang and he woke up.

Posted by: p mac on January 12, 2004 12:04 AM

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For a professional historian, Benny Morris's take on 1948 is very odd. First, was it really open to Israel to take the West Bank at all with its highly motivated, but ragtag and underequipped, army? I thought the Arab Legion fought the Haganah to a draw in Jerusalem. Second, Israel's Palestinian problem does not arise from the minority of Arabs who stayed inside the 1947 borders of the country and have accepted a decent life as second-clas but recognised citizens.

Posted by: James on January 12, 2004 01:25 AM

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One rather significant hole in the transfer argument is the baseless assumption that the expelled Arabs would give up once they were on the far side of the Jordan. Did the Jews give up, no matter how far they were from Zion? And the Arabs would suddenly have access to all sorts of ordnance from a sympathetic world—transfer is possible only in the context of WW3, in which case all arrangements are likely to be very temporary, except death.

Posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on January 12, 2004 06:32 AM

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One rather significant hole in the transfer argument is the baseless assumption that the expelled Arabs would give up once they were on the far side of the Jordan. Did the Jews give up, no matter how far they were from Zion? And the Arabs would suddenly have access to all sorts of ordnance from a sympathetic world—transfer is possible only in the context of WW3, in which case all arrangements are likely to be very temporary, except death.

Posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on January 12, 2004 06:34 AM

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Morris, like Hitchens, has traded sides, ostensibly for reasons of intellect, but it's just the predictable path of cynicism given the limitations of mortality: the sublime clarity of cynical reason. And then, up comes nationalism, just when we thought Germans and Italian Fascists had rendered it utterly banal. If Soros took his millions to the Middle East and helped to construct a viable economy and social infrastructure, the so-called Palestinian problem would be greatly diminished, assuming we begin with two states. Here we have a disenfranchised people festering in abject poverty and still the pundits are perplexed as to why they continue to act out against their overlords. As with the origins of the Civil Rights Act in the U.S., good economics trumps bad ideology every time. Morris' rant is irrelevant to the solution, as are Finkelstein, Chomsky, and the other rhetorical terrorists. We need two states, sound investment and a cottage on Corsica to which we banish Arafat and Sharon together. But that would actually work, and no statesmen wants that!

Posted by: Sloo on January 12, 2004 06:47 AM

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Morris, like Hitchens, has traded sides, ostensibly for reasons of intellect, but it's just the predictable path of cynicism given the limitations of mortality: the sublime clarity of cynical reason. And then, up comes nationalism, just when we thought Germans and Italian Fascists had rendered it utterly banal. If Soros took his millions to the Middle East and helped to construct a viable economy and social infrastructure, the so-called Palestinian problem would be greatly diminished, assuming we begin with two states. Here we have a disenfranchised people festering in abject poverty and still the pundits are perplexed as to why they continue to act out against their overlords. As with the origins of the Civil Rights Act in the U.S., good economics trumps bad ideology every time. Morris' rant is irrelevant to the solution, as are Finkelstein, Chomsky, and the other rhetorical terrorists. We need two states, sound investment and a cottage on Corsica to which we banish Arafat and Sharon together. But that would actually work, and no statesmen wants that!

Posted by: Sloo on January 12, 2004 06:52 AM

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Leopold is being silly: he tried to collect points for involking (portmanteau intended) Conway's Law, failed, and should go nurse his hurt feelings quietly by himself.

Benny Morris is of about the same level of sophistication. Obviously a Jewish state has to be an ethical state, and an ethical state has to be pluralistic. A state which expelled its Arab inhabitants would be an unethical state, and hence a non-Jewish one -- even if its inhabitants were all, by some contrived miracle, Jews.

QED.

Does this hold Israel up to a higher standard than other states are asked to meet? Of course it does. The higher standard is one which Zionists have set for ourselves.

Posted by: David Lloyd-Jones on January 12, 2004 07:39 AM

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David Lloyd-Jones: your use of big words gets in a way of expressing the point. Just how did I try to invoke Conway's Law and it what way I failed?

Posted by: Leopold on January 12, 2004 09:04 AM

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I don't have anything to add but I would be interested to know what people think of
Qureia invoking the one-state idea?

Posted by: HopelesslyConfused on January 12, 2004 09:23 AM

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I read recently in Josephus, that Moses had said that fruit trees of an enemy should not be destroyed in a war.

Posted by: big al on January 12, 2004 09:38 AM

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"...a cottage on Corsica to which we banish Arafat and Sharon together.."

Mini quiz: They'd play chess or backgommon?

Posted by: bulent on January 12, 2004 09:45 AM

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Benny Morris is a little too simplistic in his analysis. You see there has always been a tension between expulsion and removal as
a) legitimate perogative of victory or
b) a war crime and crime against humanity

This tension goes way back, you can see the outlines of option B in the Treaty of Westphalia which ended the 30 year war in Europe. From that day on the religion of a territory would be the perogative of the Prince and could not be deligitimated by outside authority (ie Rome or Protestant agitators depending on the case)
This general agreement of executive supremacy allowed for the possibility of minority rights, since the integrity of the kingship was now off the table.
So, kill them all and take their land is not some sort of historical constant or inevitability or necessity.
In fact, is not the lesson the two World Wars, that the auto determination, self determination, a state for all peoples IS NOT POSSIBLE. The idea of a state for all peoples simply leads to death and misery as each unrecognised people tries to FORCE its birth.

Federalism is the only Just solution. Rights for all and difficult political compromises, but there is no getting away from each other.
Canada comes to mind, Belgium, Spain, Ireland.
In fact states that have forced homogineity into their geographical space have done so at a terrible cost to all.
IS Pakistan a successful country? Imagine an India that did not go through partition. How much further would it be today?
What has violent nationalism ever done for the Basques in Spain? Compare them to the non-violent Catalans who having accepted Spanish soverignty have still been able to promote their culture and rights inside the Spanish state.
Was the Tamil insurgency in Sri Lanka worth it? What is the victory?

The era of expulsions is over. Work on a more just solution.

Posted by: Scott McArthur on January 12, 2004 09:50 AM

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"..But that would actually work, and no statesmen wants that!...

Why not?


Posted by: bulent on January 12, 2004 09:53 AM

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I subscribe to French definition of a nation rather than German.

Posted by: bulent on January 12, 2004 10:06 AM

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Benny Morris is just trying to be realistic in a difficult situation. The two peoples are not compatible with one another. That is the meaning of and the underlying reason for the "Partition" of 1947. Partition is a harsh word, and Benny Morris has spent the last several years coming to understand that "Partition" may well imply "Expulsion". An expulsion that will go both ways -- that is why the Settlers are protesting Sharon these days.

All the comparisons to South Africa or the Sudetenland or especially to the Balkans are just froth. Characterizing the situation as the expansion of Western Imperialism misses the whole conflict and tries to reduce it to a special case of a very different phenomenon. It would be like characterizing the Arab Nationalist movements as Soviet Expansionism.

Since a diplomatic solution may be impossible or even unavailable, it is sensible to ask what a military solution would look like. Benny Morris is trying to do that.


Posted by: Warren on January 12, 2004 01:23 PM

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Armageddon, 10%, 20% please don't do that because it puts it into people's minds more than it already is.

Jewish people- the male side
Palestinian people- the female side

The male side, to achieve power, disrespects the female side, but wants to preserve wealth and property.

The female side, when threatened, destroys wealth and property when the hoarding of it hurts her and her children.

The Jewish people feel threatened by the Palestinians for their fertility and the consumption of resources that they feel they will need in the future. But they cannot repeat what was done to them in so recent history, so they are confused and so they destroy the buildings instead. But it doesn't work because they are the male side using the female side tactics.

But the people who remember the Holocaust, remember as in the horror and disrespect to the female side, are almost gone now. So you start to hear more voices like this coming out of Israel.

The Palestinians are confused as well, and very angry for losing their homes and property. They are using the male tactics to destroy their enemies but it does not work. That is why you have the suicide bombers. They know they are not protecting the female side by destroying life, and so in their misery and despair they destroy themselves.

What happens when they finally get the weapons that they want, and that will be effective? Who will line up on the sides?

Don't ask me to explain this logically, or reasonably, or in any other way because I can't.

Posted by: northernLights on January 12, 2004 01:25 PM

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When a people or peoples are unable to establish, in the form of a sovereign power, an ethnic state like Germany or Japan, or a nation state like France, or US, then there is a need for an "international project" to bring about peace. That this international project may involve legal entities called states does not matter, for those states are not really sovereign powers and their existence stems from the relevant international project.

If the international project is not bringing about peace, the fault must be looked for in the project, not the peoples involved, because, had those peoples been able to resolve their differences and problems on their own, there would not be an international project in the first place.

Now, did I say any thing about Middle East? Of course not. I was only making a general observation.

Posted by: bulent on January 12, 2004 03:18 PM

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