August 23, 2004

Just in Case You're Not Depressed Enough...

You should go read Richard Ben Cramer (2004), How Israel Lost: The Four Questions (New York: Simon and Schuster: 0743250281).

I used to think that there was one chance in ten that something horrible would happen to tens or hundreds of thousands of people in Tel Aviv sometime in the next generation, and that in the aftermath there would be no Palestinian or Israeli Arabs but only a huge number of additional refugees in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. After reading Richard Ben Cramer, I think the odds are one in three.

I used to think that getting the Israel-Palestine problem would require a president who would gain the backing of congress to do things like cut off all aid to Israel unless numbers of settlers on the west bank dropped by 1% last month. After reading Richard Ben Cramer, it seems to me it requires something else: it also requires that everyone who came with Arafat from Tunis--and all their proteges--be dead, imprisoned, or exiled as well.

I understand and support the absolute commitment of the U.S. to the safety of Israel: we were appallingly late to World War II, and would owe it as a measure of atonement for that even if there were no other reasons. But God! What a slow-motion disaster in progress!

Posted by DeLong at August 23, 2004 05:14 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Look, I hate to debase the level of conversation here, but screw Israel. I don't care. I don't if they survive as a nation or don't, but I'm certainly tired of my tax dollars going there.

If were going back to ancient historical possession as the basis for taking back land, we all need to go back where we came from and let the 'native amercans' have their land back. I don't buy that argument, and I don't buy Israel's.

Let 'em sink or swim on their own. I have no guilt.

Posted by: rick pietz at August 23, 2004 06:22 PM

Well, you certainly set the bar -- I don't know where, but you certainly set it.

Posted by: Cal at August 23, 2004 06:35 PM

"After reading Richard Ben Cramer, it seems to me it requires something else: it also requires that everyone who came with Arafat from Tunis--and all their proteges--be dead, imprisoned, or exiled as well."

[sarcasm]

Okay, then I guess we'll have to wait for after life to see peace in Israel and Palestine... You know when, according to Evangelicals, God arrives with a helicopter and picks up Jews who say Ave Pater...

[/sarcasm]

However morally convenient this narative is, I really don't think it's very helpful. But I do think that the US has a direct interest in cleaning up this mess, even at a high cost. I never understood what was the point to demonize the only legitimate interlocutor there is (and all the more as the people and countries who do this also tend to oppose organizing elections for Palestinians.) Unless, of course, the whole idea is to buy up time for Israel to score tactical victories on the ground.

My own prediction: there is at least 80% chance that no US president will ever have the balls to do what it would take to stop this madness. And, in all fairness, certainly not Kerry on this issue. I only hope to be proven wrong, and the sooner the better.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns at August 23, 2004 07:13 PM

I want to pre-empt the inevitable flame war by saying something I've never heard said by anyone else:

ISRAEL is a country. JEWS are people. JUDAISM is a faith.

It is possible to comprehend a COUNTRY that is corrupt, PEOPLE who range from wonderful to despicable as individuals, and a FAITH that is what its followers make of it -- and not have your head explode.

I wish the people of Israel peace and prosperity. I have nothing against their faith. So can I please, please, please say the GOVERNMENT of Israel is infested with warmongering slimeballs without being instantly labeled anti-Semetic?

Posted by: Dragonchild at August 23, 2004 07:26 PM

Dragonchild, you're making too much sense. I predict you will be written out of the Disgust Order of Blog Commentators.

On this subject, I offer the following, edited from something I wrote elsewhere:

No-one's got a right to claim moral superiority in the region--any moral high ground must be reclaimed from the swamp. Maybe Mohammed himself did some of that. Mohammed got Arab tribes to co-operate and create a community (ummah), a thing that was probably even harder then. He wasn't against all violence, but he could still fairly be called a man of peace. Rather more like Gandhi than Jesus, I think--an inspired political leader. We sure could use some of that now.

Posted by: Randolph Fritz at August 23, 2004 07:41 PM

this is just another reason why the election this november matters. has it occurred to anyone that more than 80% of americans have no real stake in the election, don't even get to watch the ads to see who's lying about what, because of the ridiculous artifact known as the electoral college? of course it should be abolished and every vote should count. As of now the President and Vice President are the only national leaders elected from Ohio, and maybe New Mexico.

Posted by: rod at August 23, 2004 08:05 PM

indeed, rod, it's not obvious to see how things could improve in the forseeable future, but I can certainly tell you how they're going to degenerate if we get a second round of Bush-Cheney...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns at August 23, 2004 08:19 PM

Dragonshild,

It's as logical to call criticism of Israel 'anti-Semitic', as it is to call criticism of the Palestinians or Arabs in general 'anti-Semitic'.

After all, they're all Semites.

Here's a dictionary definition of 'Semitic':

1 of or connected with a family of languages that includes Hebrew and Arabic
2 of or connected with the people who speak Semitic languages, especially Hebrew and Arabic

This definition is based on language, not race or religion (the 'sons of Shem' nonsense from the Old Testament notwithstanding).

And yet, here's the definition of Anti-semitism from the same dictionary:

noun [U] hatred of Jews; unfair treatment of Jews

It's indicative of the way in which the semantics of the debate have been thoroughly hijacked. The definitions of words like Semitic and anti-Semitic have been decided for you. That makes it easy to derail any arguments you might make.

Posted by: floopmeister at August 23, 2004 08:31 PM

I don't concern myself with foreign policy nearly as much as I do with domestic policy, so maybe this will sound a little silly to some of you who are the other way around, or equally knowledgeable in both areas.

A few months ago, I remember hearing about this book written by some guy about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. He says that back when Israel was created and the Palestinians were kicked off the land, none of them have should have been left behind. All of the Palestinians should have been confined to one area, with all of the Israelis in Israel. (Perhaps I am oversimplying this, but that seemed to be the gist of it.) The idea was that, like school children who have to play in separate areas and groups because they cannot get along, completely cutting off the Palestinians from the Israelis would have eliminated much, if not all, of the problem. The lack of contact would have resulted in a lack of fighting.

Needless to say, it's a fascinating idea.

*I know this is about as vague as I could get, but I don't remember the author's name or the title of his book.

Posted by: Brian at August 23, 2004 08:40 PM

Brad writes: I understand and support the absolute commitment of the U.S. to the safety of Israel: we were appallingly late to World War II, and would owe it as a measure of atonement for that even if there were no other reasons.

If you want the measure of atonement, is it not more logical to offer your land rather than helping to steal it from Arabs?

Posted by: a at August 23, 2004 08:43 PM

"All of the Palestinians should have been confined to one area, with all of the Israelis in Israel."

Fascinating theory - so simple and clean; elegant and easy to enforce... But...

The problem is, these entities 'Palestine' and 'Israel' are the same damn place. Where does 'Israel' begin and 'Palestine' finish?

Who gets to draw the line? Sharon?

And anyway, I just got back from a trip to the Himalaya near Kashmir - talk to any Indian or Pakistani about the 'simple/clean' solution of 'Partitioning' land. Around a million died after the British drew their lines across the map.

Two states with a divided Jerusalem is the only solution that I can see. Painful, unlikely and tortuous that it is.

Posted by: floopmeister at August 23, 2004 08:50 PM

Sorry, not two states... I meant the opposite, one state, of course. Secular, too.

Posted by: floopmeister at August 23, 2004 08:53 PM

Another small problem is that the Palestinians are a vital part of the Israeli economy. They are to Israel what (mostly) illegal Mexican workers are to the Southwest. Whole sectors of the economy would suffer without their cheap, menial labor...

Posted by: jim in austin at August 23, 2004 09:07 PM

Israel is self destructing. Sharon's policies pretty much guarantee the future as a binational state. The man's a holy fool.

But tell me, what the fuck is the moral basis for a 'Jewish' state? Is it akin to the morality of a 'German' one? Tell that to the Turks in Frankfurt.
It's the 21st century and you're defending racial nationalism.
How civilized. How cosmopolotan. But spare me your Goyishe self pity. Take you atonement and shove it up your ass.

Posted by: seth edenbaum at August 23, 2004 09:30 PM

Poisonous minorities - with their primary allegiance to foreign states -- have totally ruined American governance.

The only way a couple million people can corrupt the US political system is to keep the electoral college in place.

This is why Israeli and Exile-Cuban types want the electoral college. It allows them to by the US Presidency without the trouble of a democratic national election

Posted by: Koko` at August 23, 2004 09:56 PM

But none of this matters. Within 5 years there will be a nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel.

Posted by: Koko at August 23, 2004 09:57 PM

Brad,

do you really keep a sense of such probabilities? Do you work at their coherence? What just happened to your "estimate of the chances that Tel Aviv, Cairo, and Damascus will vanish beneath mushroom clouds sometime in the next fifty years"?

which we last heard about here:
http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2003_archives/003030.html

Posted by: L at August 23, 2004 10:04 PM

Prof Delong,
I find your argument of "atonement" curious. It is not exactly fair to "atone" for something by allowing injustice against a third party. Leaving aside Mr Arafat and his ilk, the fact remains that palestinians were kicked off their legitimate lands to make room for people, many of whom were victims of a brutal and terrible war. Their being victims does not change the fact that the palestinians have become victims of a sort as well. If European and Western nations consider the formation of Israel as a form of atonement for past crimes, then their idea of atonement is a curious one indeed.

Having said all this, it is no longer realistic to expect that all the Israelis who are either migrant settlers or children of such could leave Israel anymore. To many of them, it is the only home that they have known, and it would be a crime to make them leave. It seems to me though that Israel cannot afford to become a secular state where non jews would be allowed the same rights, simply because they would then become the majority, with axes to grind to boot. And the very existence of Israel as it exists makes it a very convenient target of the Islamic fundamentalist regimes that are its neighbours. Thus, Israel is damned if it does and damned if it does not. The palestinians are pretty much lost as well. They have become pawns in the hands of their so called "muslim brothers", never mind the fact that the palestinian movement started as a largely secular one for land.

Posted by: v at August 23, 2004 11:22 PM

What kind of moral atonement was that ? Taking up the agenda of one Jewish party (let's call them Zionists), not even of a proven majority of the people of the Jewish faith, and putting up a state in the most dangerous for them place on earth one could imagine. True atonement would be to put them out of the way of murderous neighbours and of a probable nuclear exchange. Perhaps an open offer of US citizenship and citizenship of any other nation that feels itself obliged to morally atone for unbelievable inhumanity to people of the Jewish faith. Who knows, the Arabs might then choose to keep them inside the tent, rather than force them out to start mobilising world opinion against the Arabs.

Posted by: George J. Georganas at August 24, 2004 01:22 AM


I think the only workable "sensible" long term solution is pre 67 borders including in Jerusalem and international supervision.....the Palestinians will have to give up the right of return - difficult a proposition though this may be....else u'l have them saying "next year in Jerusalem" for the next 3 millenia

Posted by: venky at August 24, 2004 03:06 AM


Re Kashmir....the current LOC is the only way to go....else the Kashmiris are correct to ask for a 3 choice referendum...Idia/Pakistan/independance


disguted_indian

Posted by: venky at August 24, 2004 03:08 AM


too disgusted to spell disgusted correctly

Posted by: venky at August 24, 2004 03:09 AM

Professor Delong, your estimate of 1 in 3 is optimistic.

Eurasia's history has always been formed by population pressures. Unless the whole of the Middle East's population growth drops to that of Iran's then political turmoil that will arise out of this growth will be very difficult to control. (Iran's growth is less than that of Israel- CIA world book). Because of these pressures my estimate is 2 in 3. (Mind you I thought Apartheid South Africa would end in massive bloodshed),

As an aside, I don't think that FDR could have entered WW2 without a causus belli. That was what the delay was about. After the carnage of WW1 only a lunatic could and did start WW2. While the entry was late millions of lives were saved. No guilt is necessary on the part of the USA.

Posted by: Eunoia23 at August 24, 2004 04:47 AM

I'm with a couple of other posters on this. It is silly to try and make up for dead Jews by supporting a living state's occupation of land previously lived on by third parties. That kind of guilt is no basis for a rational foreign policy. Israeli policy should be supported on its present day merits or not at all.

Posted by: PJ at August 24, 2004 05:00 AM

Israel is going to build 1634 more apartments in the West Bank. The US supports this. Right of return? Let me steal your land and home and see how you feel.

Posted by: Mark G. at August 24, 2004 05:08 AM

I used to think that getting the Israel-Palestine problem would require a president who would gain the backing of congress to do things like cut off all aid to Israel unless numbers of settlers on the west bank dropped by 1% last month.

You mean like George H. W. Bush?

After reading Richard Ben Cramer, it seems to me it requires something else: it also requires that everyone who came with Arafat from Tunis--and all their proteges--be dead, imprisoned, or exiled as well.

Yeah. Well, here's the thing. Israel ought to have left those clowns to cavort around in Beirut, where they weren't really a threat and the Israelis could have found viable partners for peace within the West Bank itself.

Alas, they chose a different path.

Stupid Likud.

Posted by: praktike at August 24, 2004 05:36 AM

Brad:

To what degree is the change in your opinion due to changes in the facts on the ground and to what degree is the change due to a change in your perceptions of the facts on the ground? This is not a rhetorical question; I really want to know the answer.

Posted by: Dave Schuler at August 24, 2004 05:44 AM

It's indicative of the way in which the semantics of the debate have been thoroughly hijacked. The definitions of words like Semitic and anti-Semitic have been decided for you.

That you say this says a good deal more about your ignorance than about any "hijacking of semantics." The term "anti-Semite" was invented in the 1870s by Wilhelm Marr, a self-described German anti-Semite, specifically to apply to Jews. Marr was using the word "Semite" in the late 19th-century European sense - i.e., as a racial term for Jews - rather than the modern ethnographic or linguistic sense. In other words, the term was invented by anti-Semites trying to distinguish racial from religious hatred of Jews rather than by Jews trying to "hijack" the language of the Middle Eastern debate. Non-Jewish Semites will have to grin and bear it in the same way that Armenians do whenever "Caucasian" is used as a synonym for "generic white."

Posted by: Jonathan Edelstein at August 24, 2004 06:53 AM

I am frankly disturbed by the level of anti-Israeli venom in these comments. How long will it take for anyone to mention that the Arab world is committed to the distruction of Israel and the extermination of the Jews from Palestine? How long will it take for anyone to mention that the so-called refugees have been refused citizenship by their host countries for more than 50 years, with no a word from the UN or the oh-so-moral posters on this thread? Israel is a living democracy with its strengths and weaknesses, and I frankly find all the people here effectively asking for its distruction sickening.

Posted by: Dirk Jenter at August 24, 2004 06:56 AM

The United States does not owe Israel anything.

Period.

Nobody needs to justify this. Those who invoke the term "anti-Semitism" are those who must justify this - subject to the same sorts of penalties as those which they wish to impose.

We bash Germany and France all the time. This is fine and good. It is equally fine and good to bash Israel. Those who object to this are the only people who need to explain themselves.

It may make sense for us to support Israel, just as it may make sense to supoprt Taiwan, but this is a practical matter, in the same sense.

The state of Israel has no inherent right to exist, any more than the states of Yougoslavia or Chekoslovakia.

If you support Israel, the appropriate way for you to do so is to go there and support it directly. If you do so in a way that imposes on me - eg, by using my tax dollars, then it is you, not I, who must explain yourself.

Posted by: Enough already at August 24, 2004 07:23 AM

"How long will it take for anyone to mention that the Arab world is committed to the distruction of Israel and the extermination of the Jews from Palestine?"

It doesn't need to be that way. The Arab world would be happy to settle for a peaceful 2-state solution if only Israel and the US were sincere and committed to a just peace in which Palestinians get a bit more than 27% of their historical homeland, as well as a semi-decent capital, border controls etc. Most Arabs would consider such outcome a victory. The refugee problem is nothing but a moral negociation card. Palestinians know full well that peace would mean giving up on the right of return for the most part, in exchange for a semi-decent peace of adjacent land, they would hope.

"How long will it take for anyone to mention that the so-called refugees have been refused citizenship by their host countries for more than 50 years, with no a word from the UN or the oh-so-moral posters on this thread?"

Now that would be a convenient solution, wouldn't it? It's called "transfer" or ethnic cleansing in other quarters.

"Israel is a living democracy with its strengths and weaknesses, and I frankly find all the people here effectively asking for its distruction sickening."

True but as long as it is occupying pre-1967 Palestinian land, it's a democracy where a little less than half the population has the right to be oppressed. The exception is Israeli Arabs in East Jerusalem but the reason Israel offers them democratic rights in that it claims Arab East Jerusalem as hers forever.

... and I say this as someone committed to supporting the right for Israel to exist within its pre-1967 borders. And by saying this, I am basically taking a tradional Zionist position. The reasons behind my stance are a mix of Brad-type of guilt and respect for the fact that several generations of Israelis have now been born in Israel. It makes no more sense to displace them than to claim that white Americans should go back to Western Europe to make room for Native Americans...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns at August 24, 2004 07:29 AM

Please no more direct aid or military aid to Isreal.if they can't get it right after 50 years then,when?

Posted by: little alex at August 24, 2004 07:32 AM

It seems to me that, as usual, Brad's position is the appropriate one for someone who takes liberal principles seriously. The essential facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are these: (i) Israel has vital and totally legitimate security concerns as it faces genocidal enemies who have shown that there is no act so despicable that they will not gleefully perform it; and (ii) much of Israel's conduct with regard to the Palestinians is driven by an expansionist and supremicist religious agenda. U.S. policy should be designed in light of both of these facts, and such a policy would have to be along the lines that Brad suggests.

Posted by: David J. Balan at August 24, 2004 07:35 AM

One of my pre-teen children is very interested in world politics, and for the last 2 years has been pressing me to explain the policies of the current Government of Israel. My only response has been, "I can't. They seem insane to me".

Now I am not so sure - I see the possibility that Sharon may actually have a plan, and that it might work. If Israel completes that wall (and the associated tunnels/highways linking the non-occupied West Bank areas), then suddenly pulls all the [settlers | occupiers] out of Gaza and pulls its troops out of the part of the West Bank not taken by the settlements, what will the Palestinians do? What will the world do?

With tight security in place behind the wall, and very little way to attack Israeli or Israeli-held territory (except as Brad notes via WMD), there won't be any daily drama to capture the attention of the west. And there won't be a string of mayrters to publicize either. If that situation can be held for 3-5 years, there might actually be some incentive for a final negotiated solution.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer at August 24, 2004 07:48 AM

Dear Jean-Philippe:

“It doesn't need to be that way. The Arab world would be happy to settle for a peaceful 2-state solution if only Israel and the US were sincere and committed to a just peace in which Palestinians get a bit more than 27% of their historical homeland, as well as a semi-decent capital, border controls etc.”

The Palestinians were offered almost that (even though admittedly not exactly that), and refused to take it. Instead the Palistinians reacted by started the second Intifada. The Israeli public reacted in what I view as an understandable manner and elected a Likud government not much interested in further negotiations with the Palestinians.

“Most Arabs would consider such outcome a victory. The refugee problem is nothing but a moral negotiation card. Palestinians know full well that peace would mean giving up on the right of return for the most part, in exchange for a semi-decent peace of adjacent land, they would hope.”

I sincerely wished you were right, but I see little indication that you are. Where do you take your optimism about the reasonableness of the Palistinian and Arab positions from? None of it is reflected in official policies, media propaganda, or education contents.

“Now that would be a convenient solution, wouldn't it? It's called "transfer" or ethnic cleansing in other quarters.”

My family was “cleansed” out of what is now Poland in 1945 and forced to flee to what became West Germany. Did the West German government decide to keep my family in refugee camps for 50 years? Did they refuse to give West German passports to my family? Obviously not, in fact such ideas would have been laughable. And nobody, except a small and by-and-large ignored segment of the conservative spectrum in Germany talks about my right-of-return. Which I am glad about, since, frankly, I don’t believe I have such a right.

Posted by: Dirk Jenter at August 24, 2004 07:53 AM

I know Israelis have suffered some enormous horrors as a result of Palestinian terrorism over the years, but they have also subjected Palestinians to almost unendurable human rights abuses. The fact that a people hold so tightly to their own past history of persecution would, you'd think, make them more, not less sensitive to inflicting abuses on others.
Now I would say that something like this, posted over at The Agonist:

http://scoop.agonist.org/story/2004/8/24/73314/4695

is certainly not going to win Israel any human rights awards. Nor is it defensible from a medical ethics standpoint. But it is the governing bodies that order and approve such things, and the doctors who go along like the Good Germans they are. I can barely stand the irony.

Posted by: Riggsveda at August 24, 2004 07:56 AM

We certainly don't need to be paying off Egypt any more, and we can make any support of Israel contingent on resolving this into a two state solution, but contra to what Jean-Philippe suggested, I don't think right of return goes away. In fact, we have already had an intifada about that, haven't we?

Israel should be in their pre 1967 borders with the ability to defend those borders harshly. The idea of people passing freely across the border has been made a joke by terrorists. Congratulations, you 'win'.

Leaving Israel completely on her own strikes me as throwing gasoline on the fire. Their ability to maintain a constant monitoring presence with incursion capability is what prevents them from having to steamroll the whole region in the name of security. If they can't afford to maintain standing forces sufficient to stop bombers, their alternative won't be to pull back and accept their fate. A lot of Palestinians will get dead because they have forgotten the degree to which Israel is fighting a restrained battle.

Posted by: Jason Ligon at August 24, 2004 08:08 AM

I'm with Rick, Dragonchild and most of the rest: neither me, nor the United States OWES Isreal anything. I'm sick and tired of having our government waste my tax dollars on Isreal. I have nothing against Jewish people, but I don't owe the government of Isreal a thing. We have plenty of our own problems right here, and we don't need to be adding gasoline to their fire.

Posted by: weinerdog43 at August 24, 2004 08:21 AM

"The Palestinians were offered almost that (even though admittedly not exactly that), and refused to take it. Instead the Palistinians reacted by started the second Intifada. The Israeli public reacted in what I view as an understandable manner and elected a Likud government not much interested in further negotiations with the Palestinians."

Where? At Taba, when they were two inches away from signing? The reason the Taba pseudo-accords weren't signed is because... well Barak repudiated them on his way out of power. And because Clinton was also at the end of his mandate.

http://www.gush-shalom.org/media/barak_eng.swf

There is a lot of litterature on Barak and his "generous offer." And the picture you get from this man's inner working is not pretty. In essence, he managed to kill all hopes for peace for at least two decades. And let's not forget that it is the saintly Labor party which kept on building settlements after signing the Oslo accords.

Dirk, this is a sick joke. With all due respect, if you believe this, you are the unvoluntary instrument of people who will do their best to avoid any kind of semi-reasonable settlement. And if you're sincere in wishing a just peace, if words mean what they're supposed to mean, then you cannot allow yourself to be such an instrument.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns at August 24, 2004 08:26 AM

Wow, a zionist-troll-free discussion of Israel ...

My two cents: The situation is not that dangerous. I admit that I haven't read Cramer's book, but I'd just like to point out two things: the actual casualty rate is really very low (the entire intifada has produced only a few thousand dead Palestinians and a few hundred Israelis) and both sides are absolutely kings of trash-talk. They both say far more evil things about what they will do than they actually do.

And, I'm sorry, the low casualty rate makes the situation quite bearable. For comparison's sake, NYC at the height of the crack wars saw 2,000 murders a year, out of a city of 8 million people. Did it make life here unlivable? No -- in fact, it didn't even stop the real estate market from spiraling upward. I'm sure that in the neighborhoods that have seen the most violence -- such as Rafah -- everyone has post-traumatic stress disorder, just as we have far higher rates of stress-related diseases in our own ghettos. But those people aren't going to decide what happens, any more than the poor do here.

Now, if Israel decides to attack Iran, I agree that they might get themselves nuked in exchange. Until then, the situation is akin to South Africa or North Ireland at their heyday; no more nasty than that, and no more likely to result in nuclear war.

Posted by: Diana at August 24, 2004 08:26 AM

How could the U.S. ever lay claim to being a pertinent and beneficial sponsor for Israel? It enlarged itself by killing, exporting and confining its native Americans, and by restricting its African Americans to a secondary and segregated status. Ours is also a monoglot culture. Israel needed sponsors who knew how to situate populations equitably; how to protect the rights of all peoples, and how to accept the realities of bi-lingualism. Such sponsors, at the outset, would have to have assisted Arabs in learning Hebrew and vice versa, and to have assisted Arabs and Jews in learning a "lingua franca" to supplement their mother tongues. Doing this would have required a commitment of many decades, at the tempo of "one day at a time". But we had no incentive to do this. In point of fact, given our own experience with blacks and Indians, we would have found it "counter-cultural". And I still expect us at any time to endorse a "Trail of Tears" for the Arabic-speaking peoples of Israel/Palestine, forcibly exiling them to some other, and conquered, Arabic-speaking country--Iraq being the obvious target for this enterprise.

Posted by: alabama at August 24, 2004 08:27 AM

Arguing That Israel Should Return Land and Apologize
By JONATHAN ROSEN

''Any Jew who's not an Israeli, and not on psychotropic drugs, could solve this Peace-for-Israel thing in about 10 minutes of focused thought,'' writes Richard Ben Cramer, with the hyperbolic self-assurance that is the hallmark of his new book. Mr. Cramer, who covered the region for The Philadelphia Inquirer (he won a 1979 Pulitzer Prize for his work), has returned to the Middle East to find out how Israel ''ground away, or gave away, her birthright of loyalty from the West.''

Mr. Cramer interviews Israelis and Palestinians and offers personal asides, snippets of history, conspiracy theories and caricatures of religion and national character to create a fun-house reflection of a region whose tragic conflicts cry out for accurate representation and serious analysis. Beyond Mr. Cramer's assertion that the West once uniformly and reflexively supported the Jewish state -- he calls The New York Times ''the former house organ of American Zionism'' -- lurks his unexamined assumption that if only Israel would unilaterally withdraw to the armistice lines of 1948 and apologize to the Palestinians, peace would reign and Israel would be welcomed back into the bosom of the world.

There are certainly arguments for unilateral disengagement -- even Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has begun making them with regard to Gaza -- but to support the simplicity of this book's formula, which holds Israel responsible for the failure of the Oslo accords, the violence of the Palestinians and the hostility of the West, Mr. Cramer must promote certain falsehoods.

For example, he calls Hamas ''the most successful Islamic resistance group,'' implying that despite its stated goal of eliminating Israel altogether, it is in fact only resisting the occupation.

For Mr. Cramer, the ''systematic violence by Palestinians against the Jews on this land'' only began years after 1967, when Israel ''stepped up its program of settlements, expropriations, assassinations.'' Surely it is possible to condemn the grim state of the occupation without denying the extirpation of the ancient Jewish community of Hebron in 1929, the Palestinian irregulars who murdered hundreds of Jews during the Arab revolt of 1936-39, the Palestinian fighters who took part in the 1948 war that was the Arab response to partition and then Israeli statehood, and the terror attacks of the 1970's perpetrated by the Palestine Liberation Organization, which was created in 1964, three years before there was anything to ''liberate'' besides Israel itself.

Mr. Cramer also does not discuss Israel's intention to swap territory captured in 1967 in exchange for peace until the Arab summit in Khartoum, two months after the war, where the Arab nations declared ''no to recognition, no to negotiation, no to peace.'' There may be a tragic inevitability to the Arab denial of Jewish sovereignty, but the rejectionism of Israel's neighbors, and the complex ways Palestinian nationalism was bound up with larger Arab aspirations, would provide an illuminating backdrop to the story Mr. Cramer has to tell.

Though he recommends the left-wing historian Benny Morris's investigation of Israeli expulsions of Palestinians during the 1948 war, he disregards the account Mr. Morris wrote with Ehud Barak in The New York Review of Books detailing the Israeli offer at Camp David in 2000 to withdraw from 92 percent of the West Bank (later increased to 95 percent). The article further recounts the failure of Yasir Arafat to make a counteroffer and the decision to unleash instead the violence that led to the final collapse of Oslo, which in any case Mr. Cramer sees as an Israeli plot to continue the occupation by other means.

Of course Mr. Cramer isn't likely to credit Ehud Barak's version; he calls this former prime minister ''that old drag-queen'' (a reference to his disguise as a commando when he killed one of the terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes in Munich).

The breezy, cheesy tabloid tone that Mr. Cramer used to good purpose in his biography of Joe DiMaggio is pure absurdity here: the Holocaust is the work of ''some tyrant and his gas-chamber goons,'' suicide bombings are a ''lousy tactic,'' Spain is where ''the Jews had a good thing going until the Inquisition.''

To save its democratic soul, Israel will surely need to relinquish its hold over much of the land -- and the Palestinian population -- it conquered in 1967. The excruciating dilemma the country faces, particularly after the violent Palestinian rejection of Camp David, is how to do this while protecting its mortal body. But Mr. Cramer seems uninterested in the body of Israel. He dismisses the Jewish biblical connection to the land. He dismisses security concerns. He dismisses anti-Semitism. (Just as he dismisses the surveys that repeatedly show a majority of Israelis favoring a Palestinian state.)

Like the ultra-Orthodox Jews who reject Israel's existence because they are waiting for the messiah, Mr. Cramer has an all-or-nothing attitude toward the Jewish state: ''The whole point of Israel was to create a place where Jews could live the best life -- and liveliest -- in accordance with their values.'' But nations do not have a ''whole point.'' Mr. Cramer never wonders what the ''whole point'' of a Palestinian state would be, though his cartoon summation of the Palestinians (''every man for himself -- and his kin'') is hardly in tune with his larger arguments.

Mr. Cramer's unnatural standard for Israel implies that the country's failure to create a utopia, however high its aspirations, delegitimizes its existence -- as if the year were still 1947, and the jury were still out on statehood. This impression is reinforced by Mr. Cramer's habit of referring to Israelis, in the manner of rejectionist Arab states, as ''the Jews.''

And what does he think of ''the Jews''? Mr. Cramer professes blanket enthusiasm: ''I love the Jews for being so ably mercantile, agile and glibly hucksterish.'' It was love like this that helped create Zionism in the first place.

Posted by: Ari at August 24, 2004 08:45 AM

"Now, if Israel decides to attack Iran, I agree that they might get themselves nuked in exchange."

The other way around is much more likely. Israel has much to lose and is accountable to its people to some degree. Iran's button pushers have nothing to lose and don't care how many martyrs they create. Ugh.

Also, much to the chagrin of those who would wish it otherwise, the intifada has produced relatively few casualties because of Israeli military dominance in the region. The question is, how do you get the same or better effect without having to knock buildings down with tanks and maintaining a police state? The wall sounds not so bad.

Posted by: Jason Ligon at August 24, 2004 08:50 AM

Interesting, but how can I be sure?

Posted by: play poker online at August 24, 2004 09:06 AM

"With all due respect, if you believe this, you are the involuntary instrument of people who will do their best to avoid any kind of semi-reasonable settlement. And if you're sincere in wishing a just peace, if words mean what they're supposed to mean, then you cannot allow yourself to be such an instrument."

Harsh words. So my choices are to either believe the interpretation of the Camp David meeting that is consistent with what pretty much everyone in the West thinks, including people who are very critical of Israeli policies, or to believe the wonderful people of Gush Shalom who praise Arafat “as their partner for peace.” That looks like an easy choice, and while I agree with you that one of us acts like a willing instrument of sinister forces, I do not believe that to be me. In any case, I certainly also don’t expect to sway your opinion, so I propose we leave it at that. Let’s just hope that the current disengagement plans lead to something better than the present situation.

Posted by: Dirk Jenter at August 24, 2004 09:09 AM

If the justification for the state of Israel is the holocaust, then the Jewish state should have been carved from Germany's hide. And Germany was indeed prone at the time, but was also the front line of the emerging cold war, so I can see why this was not to be. Given that, what right, really, does Israel have to exist? The only basis I can see, and it is a questionable one, is the authority of the UN that created it. Israel can exist because the UN says so. I don't really like the idea that the UN can redraw the world's borders though. And even then, Israel repudiates this basis when it defies UN resolutions.

I believe in political realism, when that is actually what is in question, rather than an excuse for bad behavior. I don't think there is any just solution to the current mess and therefore think the "no peace without justice" crowd is crazy. The guiding question has got to be how to work things out to achieve peace accepting the status quo as the starting point. But let's not kid ourselves about the justice of the whole thing. Seeing the situation clearly for what it is is one of the preconditions of any stable solution.

Posted by: Martin Bento at August 24, 2004 09:11 AM

it also requires that everyone who came with Arafat from Tunis--and all their proteges--be dead, imprisoned, or exiled as well.<< Brad Delong
Palestinian or Israeli Arabs but only a huge number of additional refugees in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. After reading Richard Ben Cramer, I think the odds are one in three.<<Brad Delong
You're suggesting MURDERING hundreds of people you sick fucking bastard. You want to cut off aid to sharon, but you want to kill thousands of Arabs and exile Hundreds of thousands more just because we didn't attack Hitler early enough? There is a word for this: Genocide. If this happens, Israel should be wiped off planet. No nation, at any point in time, has the right to kill of group of people. This is RACIST You back WHITE Jews and want to kill ARABIC Muslims. All you of you people insisting that somehow Israel will only act rationally, that's what that is too: Racism. You assume white people will act responsibly and that brown people will not. People like you is why this issue can't be resolved. Like I said, what the fuck is wrong with you?
WTF is wrong with you? This is nazism. It doesn't matter who does it, or why. Genocide is wrong. All Genocide is equal, none is worse, none is better. There can be no excuses made. If you get worked up over Hitler, and over Milosevic, and you don't get worked up over this you are a scumbag and you don't deserve to have anyone listen to a god damned thing you have to say. Don't forget this: He only wants to take away the white folks money, and he wants to kill the brown ones.

Posted by: soul at August 24, 2004 09:18 AM

How come no one ever points out how racist it is for Israelis to want a majority Jewish state and likewise never point out how racist it is for Palestinians and the rest of the arabs to want majority arab/muslim states? It doesn't seem like either side really wants this conflict to end and until then there's really no point in wasting our time or money there.

Posted by: Shane Wealti at August 24, 2004 09:53 AM

Now, that's what a threat on Israel / Palestine is supposed to rapidly turn into! :-]

Professor DeLong, you've just been hitlerized... ;-)

soul, you can read Professor DeLong's statement as unbalanced (in spite of opposite intensions, in fact), but I don't think you can read murderous intensions in his post. such intensions simply aren't in there, and it's not okay to attribute such thoughts to anyone without proof.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns at August 24, 2004 09:55 AM

In re to Dirk's comment:

"My family was “cleansed” out of what is now Poland in 1945 and forced to flee to what became West Germany. Did the West German government decide to keep my family in refugee camps for 50 years? . . .Obviously not, in fact such ideas would have been laughable. And nobody, except a small and by-and-large ignored segment of the conservative spectrum in Germany talks about my right-of-return. Which I am glad about, since, frankly, I don’t believe I have such a right."

The irony is that Germany and Israel are the only two countries in the world with a right of return . . . not in the UN/international law sense that states that all refugees have a right of return to their homes (a law however weakly enforced designed to deter people from ethnically cleasning others and saying, "hey make a new home for yourselves") . . . but in the blood law sense, which states that blood is not only enough but priveleged (over how long either you or your family have lived in a place, for example) when it comes to the extension of citizenship. (Of course, there are plenty of places with varying measures of racist (in the sense that race and ethnicity are criteria for citizenship) citizenship laws--yes, including in the Arab world.)

Posted by: Robin at August 24, 2004 10:00 AM

I tried to pass this by without saying anything. I really did. But....

There's been a lot of talk about the pre-1967 border and the right of return. Remember who started the wars between 1948 and 1967. Not Israel. Israel won that land fair and square in a war it didn't start. Why should it give it back? Did Germany give back Alsace-Lorraine (how do you spell that?) after it won in 1870? No. Everyone there started speaking German or moved west back to France.

What about Germans whose families lived in what is now Poland? Should they be allowed to return to their ancestral homes after losing WWII?

So, why should Israel be any different. Throughout history, after a war, groups of people end up relocated. The refugees are traditionally absorbed by friendly states and begin new lives there.

When Israel was created, all the Jews were kicked out of Iran and Iraq and the other Arab countries. They left their homes, shops, jobs. There was a need in the countries they left for new people to come in and fill the roles they had played. There were homes available; Jobs available to be filled. Yet, the Palestinians weren't invited in to live in those homes and fill those jobs, despite the fact that they are all Arab and all Muslim. Why? Because it's more important to keep them as refugees than help them. It's more important that there be no Israel than that the people leaving be cared for. So, the other Arab states wouldn't allow the Palestinians to live there, even though they could. They forced them to be a group without a country.

One other topic: US guilt after WWII. We may not have been able to enter the war earlier. However, toward the end of the war, we could bomb any target we chose in Germany. We could have bombed the rail lines that were carrying people to the death camps. We knew about the trains. We knew where they went. We chose to skip them and bomb other places instead because we didn't care. That's where we should feel guilt.

Paul

Posted by: Paul M at August 24, 2004 10:04 AM

Nothing clarifies the merits of a case like a good, clueless troll. (Hi Soul!)

While you can reasonably make the case that 'the US owes Israel nothing', I think it's harder to make the case that 'the US owes Israelis nothing'. The difference isn't semantics: a nation is an abstraction, people aren't.

Abrupt moral and material withdrawal from the conflict would be enormously destabilizing. The status quo is pretty miserable, but it's a lid-on-a-smouldering-powder-keg type situation. Lift the lid, add the oxygen, boom!

Not a very constructive comment.

Posted by: Paul G. Brown at August 24, 2004 10:06 AM

>>If the justification for the state of Israel is the holocaust, then the Jewish state should have been carved from Germany's hide.... Given that, what right, really, does Israel have to exist?
The only basis I can see, and it is a questionable one, is the authority of the UN that created it. Israel can exist because the UN says so. I don't really like the idea that the UN can redraw the world's borders though. And even then, Israel repudiates this basis when it defies UN resolutions.
>>I believe in political realism

You're ignoring (or ignorant of) the historical record. The justification for Israel's existence pre-dated the Holocaust - as a result of British conquest of Palastine in WWI and the collapse of the Turkish Empire after WWI, the League of Nations in 1922 gave Palestine to the British, with the express purpose of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people".
As for Israel repudiating the UN's resolutions, I find it extremely telling that you ignore the fact that 5 Arab countries completely defied the UN's chief resolution - the 1947 partition of Palestine into 2 states - by invading Israel and creating the state of war which still exists to this day.

Posted by: Andy at August 24, 2004 10:12 AM

Paul, a few things. '

First in response to "Remember who started the wars between 1948 and 1967". In 1948, Palestinian Arabs were told by outside powers that they'd have to surrender any hope of sovereignty in a good chunk their homes to what was from their perspective European immigrants. They were responding to the loss of land. From the point of view of Palestinians, it's similar to natives in the Western hemisphere being told that the Pope had divided their land between Spain and Portugal. Here the UN is to the Palestinians what the Pope was to the natives of the Americas. (Yes, I do know that there are huge differences in the two cases, but from the perspective of the Palestinians in 1948, I suspect that the creation of state of Israel was an act of war, much like if Native Americans declared a state--with powers of defence, alliances, etc.--in any chunk of the US).

In 1967, Israel attacked first. It claims it was a pre-emptive strike, perhaps with reason, but no one doubts that it staged the first attacks on the militaries of the Arab states. . . one reason why the war lasted only 6 days, the Arabs states hadn't been anywhere near mobilization.

Second, as to the question of whether Germany gave back Alsace Lorraine, you want to establish imperial conquest as a legitimating principle? Do you really want to defend the Chinese conquest of Tibet? By this logic, any Arabs conquest of Israel, in which they could annex the land and expel the Jewish population, would legitimate itself . . . especially if Europe and the US absorbed Israeli refugees.

Third, the larger issue is not that refugees can be absorbed. By the way, as a general rule, host countries try to encourage refugees to return (if they're ammenable to accepting them in the first place). India's war with Pakistan in 1971 was provoke by the refugee crisis, as was Vietnamn's invasion of Cambodia. Europe has pretty much encourage large numbers of refugees from the Bosnia war to return. Nor have they been particularly well treated over the long run.

The right of return (in international law) is based on the premise that individuals have a right to their homes, and if the dictatorial governmnet that they live under started a war which it lost, that right still holds. If the UK had pushed out all of Argentina after the Falklands War, you think that it would be acceptable?

Lastly, as for the Mizarhi Jewish refugees from the Middle East, OF COURSE they have right of return. As do Tibetans, the Serbs of Krajina, Bosnian Muslims, and the Africans of Darfur. They may or may not choose to push to exercise it in the same way someone can choose not exercise their right of free speech, but not doing so doesn't mean that the right doesn't exist. These laws were steps to help protect the weak against.

Posted by: Robin at August 24, 2004 10:35 AM

Shane writes:

How come no one ever points out how racist it is for Israelis to want a majority Jewish state and likewise never point out how racist it is for Palestinians and the rest of the arabs to want majority arab/muslim states?

That's because it's very easy for an Arab to consider a Jew an Arab. In fact, throughout most of the last 1400 years, there were many Jews living in Arab societies who had more or less integrated.

On the other hand, Jews would never accept Arabs as Jews. Therefore, in a nation where Jews have exceptional rights based mostly on birth, an exclusionary Jewish state is inherently biggoted.

Posted by: da at August 24, 2004 10:37 AM

A clarification Robin:

In 1967, the first act of war was the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba by Egypt.

A blockade is by definition an act of war. That's why Kennedy declared a "quarantine" around Cuba in 1963.

Calling it a blockade would have been an act of war.

As to Syria and Jordan, they began firing on Israel before any Israeli action.


The opening action of the hostilities in 1967 was the Egyptian blockade.

The opening action of the hostilities between Israel and Syria and Jordan in 1967 were shelling and air strikes by Syria and Jordan.

Posted by: Matthew Saroff at August 24, 2004 10:42 AM

Andy, there's a difference between a justification and a reason. First of all, for the Zionist movement (whose claims pre-dated WWi), the justification did not come from the British conquest of Palestine following WWI. The Zionist movement pre-dates WWi and based its claim on historical presence. It's silly to think that had the British not looked favorably on the creation of Israel that the Zionist's would have no legitimate claim as a result. Claiming that British Imperialism confers legitimacy begs the question where the British derive this legitimacy from. As for the Balfour declaration, there is a second clause.

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

Finally, as for the 1947 Un decision, the UN was not very representative at the time, and anyway there are limits to whats acceptable even from the UN. Would a unanimous (minus Israel) decision by the UN that Israel should undo itself as a state mean that Israel should undo itself? surrender any right to exist, as a result of a vote by outsiders? In the 1947, the debate among the Zionist led to fury that Weizmann had accepted the proposal since the borders were far, far short of what the movement hoped for--borders which ironically look like Israel now plus the territories. When the Peel commision had looked at the problem of Palestine earlier and made 4 recommendations following, the Arabs rejected all of them and the Zionist movement accpted only one, that there should be 2 states. It rejected everything except that there should be 2 states.

Posted by: Robin at August 24, 2004 10:53 AM

I don't buy this comment from Brad:

"I understand and support the absolute commitment of the U.S. to the safety of Israel: we were appallingly late to World War II, and would owe it as a measure of atonement for that even if
there were no other reasons."

...Unless he also agrees the US has a moral responsibility to atone for Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam (to name a few).

The only reason people claim (or have been convinced) that the US has a moral responsiblity for Israel is because of vested interests and lobbies in the US political process.

I disagree -- I think the US has a moral responsibility to protect the Jewish faith within the US -- not the Israeli state -- just as it does with any faith.

I also think the US has a responsibility to try to do *no more harm* in the rest of the world including Latin America and the Middle East. And to work within the world community try to prevent or at least reduce genocides.

Doing no more harm does not mean selling Apache helicopters to Israel and bankrolling its army through loans and grants.

Posted by: AD at August 24, 2004 11:06 AM

****
The irony is that Germany and Israel are the only two countries in the world with a right of return . . . not in the UN/international law sense that states that all refugees have a right of return to their homes (a law however weakly enforced designed to deter people from ethnically cleasning others and saying, "hey make a new home for yourselves") . . . but in the blood law sense, which states that blood is not only enough but priveleged (over how long either you or your family have lived in a place, for example) when it comes to the extension of citizenship.
****

The current german government has moved (by way of legislation) away from the ius sanguinis; something the fucking conservatives would never have done.

Posted by: Felix Deutsch at August 24, 2004 11:09 AM

Matthew,

First and foremost, I have no desire to enter into a debate about whether Israel was justified in its preemption attack. It conisdered the closure of the Straits of Tiran a causus belli, but that's not a war itself.

As far as shelling firing, these were on-going for a few year as Palestinian guerillas, and probably the Syrian army from the Golan hit parts of Israel. It have even led to a dog-fight over Damascus in April of 1967, two months before the war. Tensions and the exchange of fire had been building. I don't know when you mark the begining of the war. If June 5 then the first strike was Israel's. (Again, whether justified or not, I don't know.) It is surprising that if the first attacks were by the Arab states, that they would leave their entire airforces on the ground to be destoyed. In fact, the six-day war is a good case on how important air-power and air-superiority can be. Certainly, I can see how the Israelis thought an attack was imminent and I would too in their shoes. But it does remain the question that if the Arabs did initiate the war, as opposed to creating resonable expectations that they were about to initiate a war, why their forces were far, very far from being mobilized.

Posted by: Robin at August 24, 2004 11:10 AM

Andy, I said the justification for the state of Israel was the Holocaust because I was responding to Brad's post. It seemed to me he was connecting Israel to the Holocaust. Perhaps there are other ways to read what he said, but that is how I read it, and I have heard Israel defended in those terms, and consider it, in fact, a strong defense of a Jewish state in principle, though not necessarily of this Jewish state. However, tracing the mandate further back to version 1.0 of the UN doesn't add to the legitimacy that I can see. It undermines it, because it removes the moral weight of the Holocaust. I don't see the involvement of British imperialism adding any legitimacy either. As for the fact that some Arab states do not recognize Israel's right to exist, I'm sorry, Israel is in a different position regarding UN mandates because it is a UN mandate (or League mandate, if you like) that provides the legitimacy of the Israeli state itself, even by your account.

I find it telling that even though I am a "Zionist" on pragmatic grounds - Israel is there, and nations are generally founded through fait accompli anyway, so the Middle East is just going to have to find a way to deal with it - this is not enough. I have to actually "believe". Sorry, I don't see why the Jews have a special claim to that particular piece of Real Estate.

Posted by: Martin Bento at August 24, 2004 11:41 AM

Matthew and Robin, um, don't you realize that one of the things that was changed by 9/11 was that pre-emptive war -- on no matter how dubious or evaporating a pretext -- is now a *good* thing?

Countries are supposed to be able to attack one other for no apparent or even intelligible reason. The attacked should not put up even a shred of resistance.

Especially you, Matthew. What are you, an apologist for Moktaqa al-Sadr? Why do you hate America?

Posted by: Diana at August 24, 2004 11:46 AM

My Nobel Peace Prize winning plan is to declare the so-called "Holy Land" a disaster area. It
is over-grazed, under-watered and unsafe.
Move all residents to other locations. There
are plenty of empty spaces still available:
Parts of Brazil, the Yucatan, Australia, and
the US great plains.

Posted by: SEC Overreach at August 24, 2004 11:50 AM

Not going to get into the usual debate above. I just want to provide a little clarity. Alabama wrote: "Israel needed sponsors who knew how to situate populations equitably; how to protect the rights of all peoples, and how to accept the realities of bi-lingualism. Such sponsors, at the outset, would have to have assisted Arabs in learning Hebrew and vice versa, and to have assisted Arabs and Jews in learning a "lingua franca" to supplement their mother tongues."

OK. Israel has TWO official languages, Hebrew and Arabic. (for example: http://www.knesset.gov.il/asp/arbframe.htm) Israeli Arabs learn both in school. So do Jews. True, most Israeli Jews don't speak Arabic, or at least not very well. Most English Canadians don't speak much French either.
One more little point. Hebrew was the "lingua franca" that the state's pioneers established to unite the Jewish immigrants from around the world. If the Zionist enterprise can point to one unqualified success, it's the rebirth of the Hebrew language and the creation of modern Hebrew secular culture. Politics aside, I at least think that's something to celebrate.

That is all. You may resume your debate.

Posted by: Oren at August 24, 2004 12:46 PM

One more thing. My sister recommends "From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine" by Joan Peters.

I haven't read it so I can't comment myself.

Posted by: Paul M at August 24, 2004 01:38 PM

This whole damn thing has become silly. Quite a few people here know well the history of Israel, as told by Israelis.
The creation of a state was an act of war. Driving people from their homes was an act of war. And the creation by artificial means of a racially homogeneous-purified- Jewish homeland is not at all the same as the recognition that a certain geographic area has been populated by a single population for 500 years.

Reasons to Ignore you, Dirk: "How long will it take for anyone to mention that the Arab world is committed to the distruction of Israel and the extermination of the Jews from Palestine?"

In re: Israel is "there":
Jews are are going to stay 'There" longer than the state that now claims to represent them. There are whites in South Africa too. The white state (supported for so may years by Israel) is gone.

Why don't you all discuss what's going to happen next? Israel is isolated. The populations of the various Arab countries that surround it are sophisticated and levels of education are rising. (though on a purely intellectual level, I'm more interested in Iran.)

'We' to use DeLong's terminology, backed Israel and Saudi Arabia: one, to assuage our guilt, the other to fill our gas tanks, though the two causes overlapped.
Those were our crimes and our mistakes.

And by the way, Israel treats the Jews and the Nation as synonymous, so it's no surprise that others do as well.
Who wants to remember that there have always been jewish anti-zionists?

Finally my disgust begins here with the fact of Delong's arrogance and condescension. He treats the Arabs as if they were all Naderite teenagers. He'd treat the Israelis the same way if he weren't trying to atone for "his" sins. He knows more about self pity than he does the tragic paranoia of survivors and the fury of those they defeated.
The pity of an earnest liberal.

Posted by: seth edenbaum at August 24, 2004 03:39 PM

I think the US and UN should help build the wall. As long as it is relatively close to the green line, who cares ultimately where it goes; someone is going to be pissed off either way. If you look at a map, the situation doesn't look intractable - maybe Israel will sacrifice a few of the more far flung settlements for international help and sanction of their wall.

Patrol it with UN forces, take the 9 billion US$ (that Israel gets annually from the US) give it annually to the new state of Palestine as compensation. And still keep a US committment to defend Israel (though they scarcely need it anymore).

Both sides need a wall.

Posted by: andrew at August 24, 2004 04:09 PM

Humph, still the same old same old. Well, Sharon has almost finished his wall, and after the Supreme Court gives him his change orders he will be able to pull out and let the Palestinians rot. Chinese are already being imported to do the scut work in Israel, and Palestinians will be left in a walled off bankrupt perpetual crisis with insufficient water and perpetual warfare over a "war governemnt" that is a kleptocracy. The PLO and Arafat are fools. Nobody is going to give them WMDs and none of their "friends" in the Arab world will give them a real army. So they will piss and moan and begin to kill each other until the population reaches a point where the resources are sufficient for survival. Right of return to what? The have fought for fifty years- they lost-move on. Allah apparently likes the jews better than the Arabs, because he sure hasn't favored them on the battlefield or the negotiating table. Mullahs banging jihad into the faithful from every mosque simply provides more martyrs. Didn't Patton have something to say about the objectives in warfare? Funny they haven't read that book- and it is over fifty years old. Terrorism fails without serious state sponsorship or sufficient internal weakness.

Posted by: AllenM at August 24, 2004 04:17 PM

"Allah apparently likes the jews better than the Arabs, because he sure hasn't favored them on the battlefield or the negotiating table."

By this logic, Jesus favored the Nazis? But then I suppose logic exists, here.

Posted by: Jacques at August 24, 2004 05:30 PM

What is sad is that, when the sun kisses the earth near Tel Aviv sometime between now and 2020, virtually no one will care. It need not have been this way.

Posted by: PrahaPartizan at August 24, 2004 06:07 PM

Paul M.:

Remember who started the wars between 1948 and 1967. Not Israel.

Further to the points raised against this above: Israel started the 1956 war, in concert with Britain and France.

Matthew Saroff:

In 1967, the first act of war was the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba by Egypt. A blockade is by definition an act of war.

That wasn't the view of Israel's great and powerful friend at the time. Enforcement of a blockade might be an act of war, mere declaration wasn't. Hence the abortive Regatta plan.

Paul M.:

One more thing. My sister recommends "From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine" by Joan Peters.

"Considered discredited in mainstream opinion, though it is still respected and referred to in conservative circles." (Wikipedia) Moderate Zionist scholars mostly gave up on it after Yehoshua Porath's review.

Posted by: Abu Frank at August 24, 2004 08:18 PM

"If you want the measure of atonement, is it not more logical to offer your land rather than helping to steal it from Arabs?"

I think a's suggestion is the best we can do.

We should pick a state -- alabama would be a good one -- and apply eminent domain to the whole thing. Pay every citizen (or noncitizen) what his land is worth, and then move israel over here.

The remaining issue is Jerusalem. I propose we hire every available archeologist, and put them to work excavating Jerusalem. Take apart anything that has religious significance stone by stone and number the stones. Make a copy of each stone and number those. When they get to bedrock, put it all back with half originals and half copies. Send half the original and half the copied stones to alabama to reconstruct a new Jerusalem there.

It will take a very long time to complete this, but assuming Jerusalem doesn't get nuked, time is not in short supply.

Alabama with a new Jerusalem would make a very good israel. A green land, considerable mineral wealth, a whole lot of trees, fertile plains, access to the gulf of mexico and also (by the Tenn-Tom canal) to the mississippi river. Year round average temperature around 65%. Did I mention plenty of water? There are few indian reservations, but some land to the west is considered holy by choctaw indians as it contains their traditional mounds. (The mounds may not have been theirs originally but their traditions claim them now.) Those aren't a whole lot of land, maybe they could be left to the choctaw?


Alternatively, we could make a one-time offer to every israeli and every palestinian -- US citizenship, take it or leave it, renounce israeli or palestinian citizenship. No dual citizenship for either.

I can't predict how many palestinians would take us up on it. Assuming a majority did, we might encourage them to petition to have the west bank and gaza accepted as US territories, with the aim of eventual statehood. That's *one* way to bring democracy to the middle east.

There's reason to suppose that israel wouldn't follow suit, but utah did, so it isn't completely out of the question. If israel and palestine both had US military governors while we sorted things out, the chances of war or nuking would be much reduced. And if a degree of terrorism continued on both sides, anybody who didn't want to put up with it would have 50 other states to move to, plus puerto rico, virgin islands, etc.

If we have an obligation to these people, let's fulfill that obligation. Seriously. Not just a debating point against people who say there's an obligation. Give them our land, or let them join our Union.

Posted by: J Thomas at August 24, 2004 11:00 PM

Okay. People, you are NOT ALLOWED to take land after a war EXCEPT BY TREATY. You can not arbitrarily decide you want to conquer land. This isn't 1515. 1967 wasn't 1515. Anyone who claims to endorse a right of conquest is a sick bastard who wants perpetual war as their victims try *ETERNALLY* to try and regain the land they believe was taken from them. A right of return? That's pointless, but compensation has to be made. And the bottom line is, you're still a bunch of sicko's because not one of you see's anything wrong with killing people just because they are palestinians .

The prime assertion of this post seems to be that it's okay to commit genocide, because the palestinans forced Israel's hand. That's complete and utter BS and anyone who believes that should probably be shot (it makes the world a better place if you get rid of extremist nutjobs). Hitler believed the Jews were forcing his hand. Stalin TRULY believed everyone was out to get him. Julius Caesar never saw another way but killing millions of gauls to try and civilize them. We never saw another way with our indigineous people. NONE of this EVER makes ANY of it okay. Not some terrorist attacks, not a few raiding parties from some tribal warriors. Not an assassination attempt. NONE if it. GENOCIDE IS ALWAYS WRONG. Death should come to anyone in power contemplating it.

And to Oren, who pointed to dual national language in Israel. I think the land ownership laws, and their refusal to allow inter-religion marriages (and refusal to allow marriage by any but Judaic clergy) more than makes up for "allowing" the palestinians to keep their arabic language. Seriously, you don't seem to know anything about Israel but the good stuff. People have real reasons for disagreement over Israel, it's not all anti-semetism. I've heard too many people call Palestinians "incapable of reason" or "filthy dogs" to accept that the Israel's have some moral high ground when it comes to bigotry. They don't kill themselves, but I really get the impression they would if they had to.

Posted by: soul at August 25, 2004 08:28 AM

Thousands, tens, hundreds of thousands, millions of words spilled on this subject - all of them not worth one drop of blood of one palestinian or israeli child who died in this stupid stupid stupid long conflict.
And yet more words are spilled, and far more blood.
Fact is, the "conflict" (nice clean word, isn't it?) is an incredibly complicated thing, bound and intertwined in history, emotions, personal tragedies, power struggles, political interests, you name it - so who are those people that, even after 100 years, still write books about "the palestinian conflict solution", "the israeli road to victory", or, even more stupidly, "how israel lost: the four questions"...? (sorry, it's the title that annoys me. haven't read the book and don't have anything smart to say about it otherwise.)
Answer: arrogant, nothing-saying publicists.

Posted by: Figo at August 27, 2004 10:00 AM