October 27, 2002
Will Youmans Tries to Figure Out Why He Is Calling For U.S. Divestment From Israel But Not Egypt or Saudi

Will Youmans tries to figure out why he is calling for the U.S. to divest from Israel but not from Egypt or Saudi Arabia. In my view, he fails. Here is the peak of incoherence:


Will Youmans: Israel and Divestment: ...Thomas Friedman's suggestion that divestment activists should target... Egypt and Saudi Arabia, admittedly make more sense. Their human rights records are deplorable and they receive American aid and investment. Israel is still more justified to target since it has a rights-based democratic structure in place for one portion of those living under its jurisdiction already. Divestment activists simply demand that Israel extend it to everyone under its jurisdiction. No such rights-based structure exists in Egypt, which gets its aid for making peace with Israel, or Saudi Arabia, which functions as the institutionalized guardian of western oil corporations.

Democratizing these will be easier once Israel goes from being what Israeli professor Oren Yiftachel calls an "ethnocracy" to a sincere democracy. The Arab regimes will no longer be able to use Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to divert its people from their own repression and keep the perpetual police state the threat of Israel is used to justify...


Since these seem to be the most coherent arguments Will and his ilk can come up, I'm with Larry Summers: a movement that is "anti-semitic in effect if not in intent."

Posted by DeLong at October 27, 2002 02:02 PM | Trackback

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Israel is the only state using American aid to oppress, terrorize, kill, and steal territory from citizens of the land they occupied as the result of their wars of aggression and acts of terrorism. Only once were the Palestinian people given an opportunity to vote of sharing their country with the Israeli occupiers. They voted No. American arms are used against civilians. American money is used to construct illegal settlements. Opposing Israeli terrorism, murder, torture, genocide, racism, and land/water theft is not anti-Semitism; it is taking a stand for honesty, integrity and fairness in international relations.

Posted by: Mike on October 27, 2002 02:41 PM

Let me direct the interested reader to a penetrating piece by URI AVNERY. Here is a key exerpt from it. Keep in mind that Uri is a Jewish Israeli.

Sharon's propaganda agents are pouring oil on the flames. Accusing all critics of his policy of being anti-Semites, they brand large communities with this mark. Many good people, who feel no hatred at all towards the Jews, but who detest the persecution of the Palestinians, are now called anti-Semites. Thus the sting is taken out of this word, giving it something approaching respectability.

That's what I fear most: soon people will start to feel OKAY labelling themselves anti-Semites by saying that it's void of meaning anyway. This is ultra-dangerous. I think it's irresponsible from someone like Summers to participate in this.

What he is reacting to (and I cannot recall reading him ackowledging this straightforwardly - but I could be wrong) is the birth of a divestment movement on the Harvard campus. Personally, I am against this kind of thing because it not only contributes to exacerbating the level of misunderstanding but would also hurt the livelihood of many good peaceful Israelis as well (and give further traction to Sharon's arguments.)

But if "anti-Semitism!" is the the only argument against divestment campains a briliant man like Summers can come up with, it basically means he is trying to avoid the real issues, hence basically backing the Likudist policies. This, in my view, is not to his honor. Silence is no hiding places, in other words.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 27, 2002 02:43 PM

Re:

>>Israel is the only state using American aid to oppress, terrorize, kill, and steal territory from citizens of the land they occupied as the result of their wars of aggression and acts of terrorism.<<

Didn't three million Jews use to live in the "Arab" countries? Didn't Baghdad, Damascus, and Cairo use to have substantial "Jewish Quarters"? What happened to them?

Posted by: Brad DeLong on October 27, 2002 02:52 PM

I am for a moment going to assume that Will Youmans is sincere and well intentioned. Nonetheless, his inane remarks remind me of Jean Kirkpatrick’s warning of many years ago. She strongly took to task the tendency of radical Liberals to nitpick to death America’s closet allies. The practical result is that often these partners are severely damaged making it far easier for the really vile to take over power.

Does any sane person really believe that the cause of democracy will be furthered in the Mideast if Israel is brought down to her knees? Far likelier, the Islamic militants will impose their brand of totalitarian fascism upon the whole region.

Posted by: David Thomson on October 27, 2002 03:01 PM

>>Does any sane person really believe that the cause of democracy will be furthered in the Mideast if Israel is brought down to her knees?<<

I aggree that bringing Israel down to her knees would be a very bad idea. But how the resolution of the conflict and confering, at last, a decent piece of land to the Palestinians is becoming synonim to hurting Israel baffles my mind...

I actually think that a pacified Israel would be a much stronger Israel. Its new economy would then be allowed to resume its astounding progress and Israeli politics could then turn to other issues than the war. A strong and peaceful Israel would be an inspiring light for the whole Middle-East and beyong.

But that's not what religious wars are about...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 27, 2002 03:45 PM

>>I am for a moment going to assume that Will Youmans is sincere and well intentioned.<<

Oh, I have no doubt that he is...

But what I found interesting is how *he* is still trying--and failing--to figure out why he is for boycotting Israel but not Egypt or Saudi Arabia. His answer that boycotting will create a better Israel which will then be a light unto the nations and help reform Saudi Arabia and Egypt is not a very good one...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on October 27, 2002 04:05 PM

"I actually think that a pacified Israel would be a much stronger Israel."

On the contrary, a so-called “pacified Israel” would be easy pickings for the Palestinian militants. These scum bags are the epitome of vileness and pure unadulterated evil. They have absolutely no interest in living in peace with the Jews. Instead, they desire to impose a radical interpretation of Islam. The evidence of this is so overwhelming that only a fool would think otherwise.

I am compelled to once again point out that Leftists often becomes discombobulated when having to deal with the misdeeds of those with darker skins. The intellectual virus of political correctness distorts their ability to think and follow a logical argument. Sigh, why can’t the Palestinians possess blue eyes and blond hair? it would make life so much easier.

Posted by: David Thomson on October 27, 2002 04:44 PM

Doesn't it come down to the chances for success? No one pushed for divestment from South Africa because they thought it was the absolute worst regime in the world. People thought, however, that it was a place where the relatively weak lever of divestiture might be able to move something. Would U.S. divestiture from Saudi Arabia have anywhere near the effect on S.A.'s policies that divestiture from Israel would have on _it's_ policies? (I admit that Egypt is a slightly tougher case; I think the reasoning here amounts to fear of what might happen were Egypt to ease up its repression of radical Islam.)

Posted by: Jesse on October 27, 2002 04:48 PM

argument can be extended that a murderer should not be punished because another one is at loose.....

Posted by: Jawan on October 27, 2002 05:07 PM

I don't get the attitude of the pro-Palestinian side. Surely everyone here agrees that the Palestinians have rights that are being abrogated by the current situation. But Israel went pretty far down the path to a genuine peace accord, and their reward was a wave of suicide bombing. Even if Israel wanted to make peace, the Palestinians do not. They want victory. Until the Palestinians have achieved victory, or accepted defeat, Israel cannot make peace.

I find it curious how pro-Palestinian attitudes have hardened in exact proportion to the amount of violence. It's like people are taking the violence as evidence of Palestinian sincerity.

Posted by: Walt on October 27, 2002 05:32 PM

I sense that a number of the anti-Israeli posters are relatively young. Are they possibly a quintessential example of the rampant Liberalism dominating our universities? Martin Kramer’s brilliant “Ivory Towers on Sand: the Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America” is highly recommended. This highly esteemed scholar contends that Edward Said, John Esposito, and other such mediocrities influence the courses and books presented to our university students. The brilliant insights of Bernard Lewis are virtually ignored.

It is obvious that the degree programs at many of these schools are fraudulent. The graduates receive a diploma which is no more than a license to steal. One wonders if this shameful situation will ever be reversed.

Posted by: David Thomson on October 27, 2002 06:04 PM

I have cooked up the right "smiley" to translate what this fascinating display of pseudo-sophisticated racism inspires me:

:-O=======

Ah! the great left wing conspiracy...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 27, 2002 06:56 PM

I am stunned.

Am I seeing aright? Serious objection to Israeli policies is called 'a movement that is "anti-semitic in effect if not in intent." '?

Are you saying I am an anti-semite if I disagree with Israeli policy vis a vis the Palestians? - that even if I mean well, I am not allowed to disagree lest you hold the spectre of 6 million dead jews over my head?

That's like saying I am a racist if I disagree with Martin Luther King on some aspect of his crusade.

I look to this site for reasoned argument. That was unworthy. Shame.

Posted by: sm on October 27, 2002 06:58 PM

"Am I seeing aright? Serious objection to Israeli policies is called 'a movement that is "anti-semitic in effect if not in intent." '?"

Yup, that’s exactly what you are doing. Your objections to Israel are grossly exaggerated. You imply that Israel is akin to the Nazis of Germany, or the Communists in the Soviet Union. There is simply no evidence whatsoever to justify this conclusion. And yes, that is indeed a quintessential example of being “anti-Semitic in effect if not in intent.”


Posted by: David Thomson on October 27, 2002 08:01 PM

I think what David's saying is a little extreme. But the behavior of the pro-Palestinian side makes no sense. Israel over the last ten years has made a serious attempt at peace. One prime minister was killed over it, and another one driven from office when his peace overtures ended in greater violence than ever. Now Israel has done a lot of things wrong, and a lot of their policies are incompetent and even immoral.

But the more Israelis the Palestinians kill, the more people on the left take the Palestinians' side. What does that look like to you?

Posted by: Walt on October 27, 2002 08:09 PM

>>One prime minister was killed over it,<<

Hold on a minute, Walt, before you brainwash some weak minds to think that Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Palestinian. He was killed by a Jewish settler, damned! Shouldn't that tell you that the unwillingness to make peace exists on both sides ?!?

>>But the more Israelis the Palestinians kill, the more people on the left take the Palestinians' side. What does that look like to you?<<

Hello! Three times as many Palestinians have died since the beginning of the insurection than Israelis. I am not making an argument of moral equivalence, but you should admit that there are serious reasons for which to be worried about Palestinians. It's a humanitarian emergency down there: half the children live below the UN poverty line and most of them are malnurished.

It is turning into a genocide in effect if not by intent... That's enough for me to risk being called an anti-Semite if needed. If these were Jewish children, I would raise my voive just as well (and I have to admit, probably louder as a matter of fact...)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 27, 2002 08:58 PM

I didn't mean to imply that Rabin was killed by a Palestinian, sorry. I meant that Israel has had courageous leadership willing to push for peace. The Palestinians have not. I don't see what alternative the Israelis really have.

Posted by: Walt on October 27, 2002 09:20 PM

The alternative is to offer Palestinians a decent deal, one that will not make their leaders look like loosers in the eyes of their people. In other words, go back to the pre-1967 borders (plus or minus bilateral concessions). Anything shorter than that is going to be taken as an insult and a further humiliation by the Palestinians (and the Arab world).

If the Palestinian leadership can go home as winners then and only then will they have the political authority to crack down (as they have actually done in better times) on Hamas and their breathens. If the deal is fair, Arab countries will all recognize Israel once for all and will pressure the Palestinian leadership to abide by the rules (that's actually part of all Arab propositions).

An other important objective should be to give Palestinians a chance to have a honourable economy and mini-nation, so that they have something to loose if they deviate from aggreements. Ideally, Israel should also have such an incentive...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 27, 2002 10:10 PM

Brad, I can't believe you're signing up to the stupidest and nastiest sentence in Summers' whole speech. "Anti-Israeli in effect and intent" does not mean "Anti-Semitic in effect or intent". For a start, a policy of divestment from Israel has no effect whatever on Jews not living in Israel, which the last time I looked was rather more than half of all Jews. Second-up, as about everyone else on the whole Internet has pointed out in relation to that passage, anti-Semitism is a term which implies intent through its common language meaning. Summers could get away with "unfairly anti-Israeli" or some similar phrase, but he wants to use the loaded term "anti-Semitic" and is prepared to force the language through Orwellian hoops to get there. Nobody remotely concerned with honesty in public speeches should be supporting that passage, whatever their views on Israel.

I also repeat from my own website that the most obvious reason for supporting divestment from Israel but not [Egypt, Syria, etc, etc] is that in the case of Israel, the people one is attempting to help have actually *asked* for such a boycott. It is therefore stupid for Summers et al to claim that one is a hypocrite for responding to their request unless one also suddenly makes snap decisions to boycott lots of other oppressive regimes without any consideration of whether the people you hope to help regard your boycott as a price worth paying.

Posted by: Daniel Davies on October 27, 2002 11:49 PM

Oh yeh, and the word "ilk" is misused above as well.

Posted by: Daniel Davies on October 27, 2002 11:51 PM

“... is that in the case of Israel, the people one is attempting to help have actually *asked* for such a boycott. “

The people who have asked for this boycott are the scum of the earth. Any balanced and objective analysis of the situation would conclude that the militants who run the show in the Palestinian territories have absolutely no interest in living in peace with their Jewish neighbors. Furthermore, these blood thirsty scoundrels have every intention of imposing a fascist dictatorship upon the region. We must not ignore these harsh facts merely because they possess dark skin.

Berkeley and the other Liberal dominated universities have done a miserable job. Their graduates are often half-educated at best. Ultraliberal academics have been getting a free ride. It’s now time to pay the piper. Is it too much to expect that these incompetents should have to earn a living?

I strongly recommend that everybody visit Martin Kramer’s www.campus-watch.org. His partner, Daniel Pipes, also does splendid work on the eponymously named www.danielpipes.org. Last but not least, Glenn Reynolds, provides great insights on www.instapundit.com

Posted by: David Thomson on October 28, 2002 05:25 AM

Does going to the U of C allow me to be exempted from the charge being brainwashed by "ultraliberal academics?" :^) Seriously, though: concerning the idea that withdrawing to the 1967 borders would cause the Arab nations to let everyone live in peace: Israel DID have its 1967 borders from, well, 1948 to 1967. However, during those years, it seems to me that the Arab nations around it STILL didn't recognize its existence. I support Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank (after all, the threats to Israel are currently terrorism and such, not the militaries of the Arab nations, and since terrorism would, as far as I know, be easier to defend against without several million hostile Palestinians effectively living within Israeli borders, it's hard to maintain that the West Bank occupation even helps Israeli security at all, let alone is necessary for it.), but how does it logically follow that the Arab states would start recognizing Israel once it withdraws?

Julian Elson

Posted by: Julian Elson on October 28, 2002 07:32 AM

To demand uniform treatment of every oppressive state in the world is equivalent to demanding inaction. I seem to recall Afrikaners making identical arguments back in the days when South Africa was subject to a boycott - that boycotting South Africa is morally bankrupt unless every oppressive nation in the world - or at least in Africa - was equally boycotted.

But, if you want a better case, here's one: Israel is a far more important recipient of foreign investment than Egypt or Syria, or indeed any other state in the region. It enjoys a privileged trading status with the EU and probably with the US as well. It is therefor much more likely to be influenced by a boycott, while boycotting Egypt is unlikely to bring about a change of policy and is likely to embitter the public and make them genuinely worse off.

I'm with the Israeli hardliners in one respect. I think those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause should abandon the two-state solution. Instead, they should demand that Israel annex the West Bank and Gaza immediately and extend full citizenship and military conscription to all Palestinians currently resident in territory occupied by Israel. If Israelis really believe that they are a modern, tolerant, western nation, and if they believe they cannot be secure if they don't control the West Bank, then annexation and equality under the law is the only solution I see compatible with both.

It is, after all, what France did with the Germans in the Alsace-Lorraine; what Australia ultimately did with its aboriginals; what South Africa eventually did with its Africans; what the UK has now done with its handful of surviving overseas holdings; what the US did after the Mexican War and later in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. It is what civilised countries do when they don't want let go of some land that they don't really have a legal right to.

Of course, it's only about a decade until the current Israeli borders contain an Arab majority. But that is the price of being a western democracy - the government can't exist only to serve one community's interests. If people want to see a successful Arab democracy in the middle east, Palestine/Israel is a far more likely candidate than Iraq. If the price is the death of Jewish nationalism, well, I've never been a fan of nationalism anyway.

Posted by: Scott Martens on October 28, 2002 07:57 AM

Scott,

The point is that Israel's credentials as an oppressive state are the weakest of any in the world. As 1990, they had subdued the Palestinian population; they had total control over the West Bank. Yassir Arafat was safely ensconced in Tunisia, never to trouble them again.

What did Israel do? They brought Arafat back, created the Palestinian Authority, and tried to make a final peace deal. And what was the result? Terrorism, and the opprobium of the left.

If the Palestinians had opted for a peaceful approach to demanding their rights, they would already have them. Instead they have opted for war, and war is what they have gotten.

Posted by: Walt on October 28, 2002 08:27 AM

Walt, I think you've got the order of events backwards. I seem to recall the first intifada starting around the same time that Arafat was "safely ensconced in Tunisia," neatly demonstrating how much violence Israel could have despite full control over the West Bank. I also strangely seem to recall that the intifada ended with the Oslo Accord and the arrival of Arafat in Israel. The intifada and the current violence did not start again until 2000 - after a decade of increased Jewish settlement in the West Bank - when an Israeli politician (some guy whose name makes me think of mermaids) specifically and publicly instigated it in an already tense environment.

If the Israelis had opted for a peaceful approach instead of electing Sharon, I suspect they could have peace by now. Heck, if they were willing to admit they can't keep both the Jewish state and the West Bank and just chose one, they'd probably have peace by now. If they had just withdrawn from the West Bank, anytime after Jordan abandoned its territorial claim, and just said (to quote Eric Cartman) "screw you, I'm going home", they would probably have more peace than they have now.

As for whether Israel is more or less oppressive than other states, well, I'd put it about on par with Milosevic's Yugoslavia. Take that either way.

Posted by: Scott Martens on October 28, 2002 08:50 AM

Scott Martens wrote

>The intifada and the current violence did not
>start again until 2000 [...] when an Israeli
>politician (some guy whose name makes me
>think of mermaids) specifically and
publicly instigated it in an already tense
>environment.

That is clearly incorrect.
Imad Faluji, the Palestinian National Authority's
Communications Minister, has said of the Intifada
that "It had been planned since Chairman Arafat's
return from Camp David, when he turned the tables
in the face of the former US president (Bill
Clinton) and rejected the American conditions."

Posted by: on October 28, 2002 09:21 AM

Scott Martens wrote

"As for whether Israel is more or less oppressive than other states, well, I'd put it about on par with Milosevic's Yugoslavia. Take that either way."

And I'd put this brutally dishonest and vile statement about on a par with one of Julius Streicher's wilder assertions.

Posted by: on October 28, 2002 09:32 AM

Your recollection is wrong. Yitzhak Rabin pursued Oslo because the first intifada had already been crushed. Anyway, the level of violence of the first intifada is nothing compared to now. Kids throwing rocks at tanks is heroic in a way that blowing yourself up on a city bus is not.

Ariel Sharon's trip to the Dome of the Rock was not a triumph of Israeli good will, certainly. But the Palestinians are not wild animals. Sharon was trying to provoke them; they could have declined to be provoked, but they didn't.

Posted by: Walt on October 28, 2002 09:35 AM

Jean-Philippe Stijns,

I'm not really sure that a citizen of a country that within living memory actively collaborated in the extermination of 45% of its Jewish population even has a right to have an opinion about Israel.

Posted by: on October 28, 2002 09:35 AM

Walt wrote

"Ariel Sharon's trip to the Dome of the Rock was not a triumph of Israeli good will, certainly"

You're quite right, it was an incredible impudence for an Israeli to want to visit the holiest Jewish site in the world.

In reality, the intifada was planned well before and his visit was simply a pretext for the subsequent violence.

Posted by: on October 28, 2002 09:39 AM

Scott Martens wrote:

"I'm with the Israeli hardliners in one respect. I think those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause should abandon the two-state solution. Instead, they should demand that Israel annex the West Bank and Gaza immediately and extend full citizenship and military conscription to all Palestinians currently resident in territory occupied by Israel. If Israelis really believe that they are a modern, tolerant, western nation, and if they believe they cannot be secure if they don't control the West Bank, then annexation and equality under the law is the only solution I see compatible with both."


Which would put the Jewish population in a minority. Sorry, no can do, we can't afford another Holocaust. Eliminate Jew hatred from the world and we might give it a shot. I won't hold my breath.

Posted by: on October 28, 2002 09:44 AM

“If the Israelis had opted for a peaceful approach instead of electing Sharon, I suspect they could have peace by now. Heck, if they were willing to admit they can't keep both the Jewish state and the West Bank and just chose one, they'd probably have peace by now. If they had just withdrawn from the West Bank, anytime after Jordan abandoned its territorial claim, and just said (to quote Eric Cartman) "screw you, I'm going home", they would probably have more peace than they have now.”

It is shocking to witness such naiveté. Mr. Martens hasn't a clue concerning the intractableness of Islamic militancy. It is obvious that this individual is poorly educated. Oh well, this is what happens when the works of the great Bernard Lewis are virtually ignored. Isn’t it shameful to observe what is occurring on our Liberal campuses?

“As for whether Israel is more or less oppressive than other states, well, I'd put it about on par with Milosevic's Yugoslavia.”

This is an outrageous vicious slander. Israel is one of the most humane, tolerant, and democratic nations on this planet. Most Jews have gone out of their way to be fair and honest with the Palestinians. I have only one question: is Scott Martens a member of the radical Left, or does he give allegiance to David Duke? It is often difficult to to distinguish between the extremists of the Right and the Left.

Posted by: David Thomson on October 28, 2002 09:45 AM

>>"As for whether Israel is more or less oppressive than other states, well, I'd put it about on par with Milosevic's Yugoslavia. Take that either way."

And I'd put this brutally dishonest and vile statement about on a par with one of Julius Streicher's wilder assertions. <<

And I'd put that inordinately stupid and disgusting assertion about on a par with comparing the Roe-Wade judgement with the Final Solution.

Anyone else care to join in?

Posted by: Daniel Davies on October 28, 2002 10:04 AM

Re:

>> "Anti-Israeli in effect and intent" does not mean "Anti-Semitic in effect or intent".<<

Well, I would agree with you if you had said "'Anti-Likudnik' does not mean 'Anti-Semitic.'" But that's as far as I can go.

And ilk *is* used correctly...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on October 28, 2002 10:08 AM

On Sharon

"If the Israelis had opted for a peaceful approach instead of electing Sharon, I suspect they could have peace by now."

They elected Sharon because Barak's peaceful approach was rejected by the Palestinians.

On divestment and Summers:

Suppose ten people do something you disapprove of. One of them is Jewish. If you go on and on about "that terrible Jew," and propose all sorts of punishments, but only for the Jew, then yes, you are anti-Semitic.

Posted by: Bernard Yomtov on October 28, 2002 10:09 AM

>>Anyone else care to join in?
Posted by Daniel Davies at October 28, 2002 10:04 AM
<<

Please don't, or I'll pull the plug...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on October 28, 2002 10:09 AM

re:

>>Israel is one of the most humane, tolerant, and democratic nations on this planet. Most Jews have gone out of their way to be fair and honest with the Palestinians.<<

Well, yes. But one of the many problems of the middle east is that one of the Israelis who has not is now Prime Minister of Israel...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on October 28, 2002 10:11 AM

Did Daniel Davies just return from a meeting with David Duke? He has shown his true colors. Anybody who considers Israel akin to the government of Milosevic has utterly destroyed their credibility.

Mr. Davies most likely is a product of a Liberal dominated university education. It's time too clean out the Aegean stables.

Posted by: David Thomson on October 28, 2002 10:19 AM

"Well, yes. But one of the many problems of the middle east is that one of the Israelis who has not is now Prime Minister of Israel..."

OK, I will concede that you might be making a legitimate point. Regretfully, the Israelis don't seem to be able to vote for a moderate. They either elect a silly Liberal, or opt for someone very conservative. Nevertheless, this does not change the fact that the Islamic militants are committed to imposing a fascist dictatorship.

There can be no peace in the region until the Palestinian radicals are either killed or jailed. It is the height of lunacy to believe that one can work out a compromise with such thugs. Gosh, wasn’t there some guy named Neville Chamberlain running around in Europe in the late 1930s? Whatever happened to him?

Posted by: David Thomson on October 28, 2002 10:32 AM

Ah, let me see if I follow the logic. Israel rules over about 3.5 million Arabs with no say in their own governance. Milosevic ruled over roughly 1.5 million Albanians who had a right to vote (although it did them little good.) Israel expels Arabs (or imprisons them or simply shoots them) when they are violent about it. Milosevic expelled, imprisioned and sometimes simply shot Albanians when they got violent about it. Israel wants to keep Arab lands (or at least the valuable bits, the strategically useful bits and the bits members of the majority ethno-linguistic-religous group live on) but doesn't want to extend equal civil rights to the people who live on it. Milosevic wanted Albanians to live without any kind of special ethnic, linguistic, or religious privileges, expecting them to integrate into Serbian society or else go live in Albania. Israel closes schools and universities belonging to the occupied people. Milosevic closed schools and universities belonging to the disaffected people. I don't remember Milosevic enacting curfews so restrictive that people actually suffered from malnutrition, but I suppose he would have if it had occurred to him. Ariel Sharon is an ethnocentric nationalist who alludes to religion to renforce the national identity he supports, and who has a well-documented responsibility for the massacre of civilians. Milosevic is an ethnocentric nationalist who alluded to religion in order to renforce the national identity he supports and who has a well-documented responsibility for the massacre of civilians. Israel's supporters frequently refer to a basically violent ethnic and religious character that they attribute to Arabs but not to themselves in support of their lack of belief in democracy. (See above "the intractableness of Islamic militancy") Yugoslavia's supporters frequently referred to a basically violent ethnic and religious character that they attributed to Albanians but not to themselves.

What is so outrageous about the assertion? I did not - as others have - assert that Israelis were morally equivalent to Nazis. Despite efforts to make such a case, neither Milosevic nor Sharon has attempted anything that could be construed as genocide. Both have openly spoken of the importance of ethnic cleansing as a legitimate means of defense. Both have a history of supporting policies to that effect.

I have not even claimed that Israel is fundamentally more oppressive than Egypt or Syria. It is somewhat better towards its own Arab minority, probably somewhat worse towards non-citizen Arabs. Egypt does not impose curfews. I don't recall it doing much in the way of expelling either.

"Israel is one of the most humane, tolerant, and democratic nations on this planet." That is a hard one to swallow. Being humane does not mean torture. Tolerance means living with other people, not pushing them into ever smaller tracts of lands. Democracy means not ruling over people who are not represented in government. This is the worst of Orwellian doublespeak.

I never have understood how Arafat can both be totally unrepresentative of Palestinians and yet able to instigate massive public uprisings at will. "The intifada was planned." What if it was? Do you seriously think Ariel Sharon ever had the slightest intention of negociating a peace that involved any meaningful Palestinian sovereignty over the West Bank? His editorial in 2000 in the Jerusalem Post strongly suggests otherwise.

Before the "anti-Israeli" versus "anti-Likudnik" argument starts, let me add that if being anti-Milosevic, or even supporting the NATO war in Kosovo, is not anti-Serbian, then I will stick to my claim that nothing I have said is anti-Israel, much less anti-semitic. I want Israel to actually be a democratic, modern, western, liberal democracy. It can not be one until it has made the decision, bilaterally or unilaterally, to coexist on egalitarian terms with Palestinians, both those with Israeli passports and those that don't. If there is to be a Jewish state, it can not include any substantial part of the West Bank or Gaza. That means it can not include the Jordan valley for "defense reasons," nor can it include land simply because it has water under it, nor can it keep land simply because colonies have been built on it. There is a fundamental principle here: you can not keep land if you are unwilling to keep the people who live on it. That is what was most wrong with Milosevic's Yugoslavia and it is what is wrong with Israel. Peace or not peace, this is a rule which is so simple and so unambitious that it should have no exceptions whatsoever.

Posted by: Scott Martens on October 28, 2002 10:44 AM

>>Jean-Philippe, I'm not really sure that a citizen of a country that within living memory actively collaborated in the extermination of 45% of its Jewish population even has a right to have an opinion about Israel.<<

Thank you so much anonymous for helping me making my point.

Compare this attitude with your coward attemps to discredit me because I am just not helping your fascist cause. You don't even have the courrage to sign your message. It's just too bad my history does not match your prejudices.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 28, 2002 11:03 AM

Scott Martens writes
>"The intifada was planned." What if it was?
>Do you seriously think Ariel Sharon ever had
>the slightest intention
>of negociating a peace that involved
>any meaningful Palestinian
>sovereignty over the West Bank?

Um, Barak was PM when the intifada started --
which started (according to the Palestinian
minister Imad Faluji) when Arafat returned from
the Camp David talks. And no Israeli elections
were even planned then. So Sharon is basically
irrelevent to the planning of the intifada by the
Palestianians. It was Barak who was negociating
the peace deals.

Posted by: on October 28, 2002 11:12 AM

FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE CITED PASSAGE

I admit that Professor Delong's passage from my article does not come off as the most coherant. This is not the result of me trying to figure myself out, as he implies, but is the product of his use of selective editing.

I could take any middle morsel of any written piece and make the writer appear incoherant if I so chose -- but that would do little to forward informed discourse.

Anyone who really wants to understand and contest my thinking on this subject ought to read the entire article he derived his choice passage from:

http://www.counterpunch.org/youmans1025.html

I am a bit disappointed, but flattered, that he did not post my entire "anti-Semitic" tract to attack as "incoherant." Had he provided it in its entirety, he would have had a much more difficult time dismissing it in so few words. I think he knew that.

For the record, I would not oppose movements to divest from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. I just will not start one since I do not see them at the center of the regional/global conflict, as Israel-Palestine is. Israel-Palestine needs creative solutions and divestment is one.

The argument about divesting from Saudi Arabia and Egypt is one pro-Israeli bluff I will call since Israel needs those regimes in tact. Would Israel's supporters really want these regimes to actually represent the will of the people? There can be no doubt that if I switched today to calling for divestment from Arab regimes, Mr. Friedman would write that we are threatening the balance of power and regional stability. Mr. Summers might declare us "anti-Arab in effect, if not in intent." Nothing would scare them more than Arab regimes that actually act as the people's voice.

This would much more likely set off circumstances that result in bloodshed than singling out Israel would. Demanding that they simply grant equal rights to the Palestinians, that is, expand its democracy to include all those under its jurisdiction, is a sound basis for divestment -- this was exactly the case with South Africa. No critics have been able to respond to this. Friedman and Summers have tried to use this claim of "anti-Semitic hypocrisy" to detract from the central question that they will not answer: Does Israel systematically discriminate between Jews and Palestinians?

I am disappointed that so many intelligent people cannot see that the basis for peace between the Jews and Palestinians in Israel-Palestine lies in legal and political equality (I will develop these thoughts more in future articles...e-mail me if you want to recieve them).

Anyone who participates in this debate needs to examine what Professor DeLong ommitted. These key and relevant passages that he did not cite may illuminate my logic and why his rebuttal fails ultimately:

"Noble Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu and Ian Urbina explained it perfectly: 'Divestment from apartheid South Africa was certainly no less justified because there was repression elsewhere on the African continent.' Should we really lower our standards for Israel because there are other countries with poor records?"

and

"A fantastic mystical aspect to this 'singling out' criticism of divestment is the principle it establishes: no one should focus activism on one area or issue unless they address every other one of equal or greater detriment. Only big-shot columnists and prestigious university administrators could have such an idiotically unworkable conception of activism."

I have much respect for Professor Delong's work in Economics and especially with the PEIS department (I say this as a past and hopefully future GSI within it). And I truly appreciate his willingness to engage this issue -- debate is what is needed and this means he actually read my piece!

I should note, however, that he is both a big-shot columnist and a prestigious university administrator.

Posted by: Will Youmans on October 28, 2002 11:13 AM

I think that it is a bad omen for the possibility of peace in the middle east when there doesn't even seem to be a way to *discuss* the situation civilly. And I think it is fair to say that the participants in this thread are probably all decent people.

I don't see any evidence that any of the participants in this discussion are racist or anti-semitic. I don't see how such accusations serve any purpose whatsoever.

I also don't see how it matters why someone is more concerned about one thing than they are about something else. Why does this person get upset about the killing of whales, and that person gets upset about global warming, and that person is upset about the plight of women in Saudi Arabia. Do you really want to psychoanalyze every person who claims to be concerned about something, to find out why they aren't more concerned about something else? That's a recipe for starting a vicious, pointless argument over nothing.

It's much more productive to discuss issues based on what people actually say, rather than your speculation about what they really meant.

My claim, as I've made before, is that both Israel and the Palestinians would be better off if Israel abandoned the settlements and withdrew from the West Bank. I'm not a mind-reader, so I can't guess what the reaction of the Palestinians would be. Maybe they would be satisfied, and would become a peaceful neighbor of Israel (just as Egypt and Jordan have become peaceful neighbors). But suppose that they don't? Suppose they continue to attack Israel. Well, in that case, it seems to me that it would be easier to defend Israel from such attacks with a well-guarded border than it is now. It seems like a win-win move on Israel's part. Why doesn't Israel do it? It's very strange.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on October 28, 2002 11:18 AM

Mr. Thompson--please go away until you can make a coherent argument that does not revolve around ad hominem attacks on your opponents as the dreaded "liberals." I know others here don't agree with me on much, but I hope all can agree that the sorts of comments you post make the reasoned discussion the rest of us are trying to have just about impossible.

To the rest of you:
I don't like to use this as a trump card in discussions of Israel, but I happen to be Jewish. When those who defend Israel's policies equate criticism of them with anti-semitism, they implicitly claim that Israel acts in the name of all Jews. When the U.S. does something immoral, it is a stain on all of its citizens (who, after all, have the right and obligation to control their government). When the government of Israel behaves immorally, and when it equates itself with Judaism, it is a stain on Jews worldwide, and we have an obligation to try to bring about more appropriate policies.

This is why disproportionate criticism of Israel cannot be anti-semitic: It is pro-semitic, and arises from a feeling that I do not want to be implicated in policies that I consider immoral. I am critical of Egypt and of Saudi Arabia as an outsider, but I am critical of Israel as an insider, as one who could claim citizenship at any time I wish. Is it hypocritical for me to work to elect my preferred candidate in my local congressional race when there is someone who I like better running elsewhere? Of course not! Then how can it be hypocritical for me to work to improve policies of countries that consider me a member, even though I don't put the same effort into bringing about change in other countries that do not?

One does not have to think that Israel is equivalent to Serbia--I do not--or that the Palestinians have behaved morally--I do not--to think that American Jews, and Americans generally, have a special relationship with Israel, and have a special responsibility to ensure that Israel respect the human rights of those who live in territories that it controls.

Posted by: Jesse on October 28, 2002 11:20 AM

Second word above should be "Thomson", not "Thompson." My apologies.

Posted by: Jesse on October 28, 2002 11:24 AM

Jean-Philippe: You shouldn't even have dignified that comment with a response.

Scott: Israel imposed the curfew _after_ the terrorism was reachings its peak. No terrorism, no curfew.

Ariel Sharon is an elected politician. If he wouldn't make a peace deal, Israel can elect someone else. Israel only elected him when the peace party was totally discredited by events; if peace ever seems likely again, they'll boot him out then. Yassir Arafat, on the other hand, is forever.

Sure there are people on the Israeli side who would never make peace; Ariel Sharon may even be one of them. But who on the Palestinian side can credibly offer peace? There is Hamas, who organizes random acts of murder, and the Palestinian Authority, who (not to be outdone) organizes random acts of murder. The comparison with apartheid South Africa is illuminating: where is Palestine's Nelson Mandela? Israel has already had two F. W. DeKlerks, and more are waiting in the wings.

Posted by: Walt on October 28, 2002 11:26 AM

RE:

>>FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE CITED PASSAGE

I admit that Professor Delong's passage from my article does not come off as the most coherant. This is not the result of me trying to figure myself out, as he implies, but is the product of his use of selective editing.

I could take any middle morsel of any written piece and make the writer appear incoherant if I so chose -- but that would do little to forward informed discourse.

Anyone who really wants to understand and contest my thinking on this subject ought to read the entire article he derived his choice passage from:

http://www.counterpunch.org/youmans1025.html

I am a bit disappointed, but flattered, that he did not post my entire "anti-Semitic" tract to attack as "incoherant." Had he provided it in its entirety, he would have had a much more difficult time dismissing it in so few words. I think he knew that. <<


Ummm...

You see the words "Will Youmans: Israel and Divestment" on my weblog? They are what is called a "link" to the full post. In this mode of discourse, that is "provid[ing] it in its entirety"--one mouse click and you're there.

Thus the claims that I am playing hide-the-ball and am being deliberately mendacious fall of their own weight.

My advice to you? Ask me to delete your comment, and try again. Because you have done yourself significant damage with the comment as it stands...


Brad DeLong

Posted by: Brad DeLong on October 28, 2002 11:33 AM

I hate to be so redundant. Unfortunately, I feel it is incumbent upon me to risk boring everyone to death. This is essentially how I view the current debate. Both sides concede that Israel has arguably made some mistakes. It seems that everyone has trouble justifying the settlements.

Where do we fundamentally differ? On one side are those who truly believe that the Palestinian radicals are interested in establishing the values of a free, secular, and democratic society. Needless to add, folks like myself consider this to be utterly ridiculous. I adamantly believe them to be fascists comparable to the German Nazis. Does anyone disagree with my assessment? Doesn’t the determining factor hinge on how one perceives the Palestinians who hold power?

Posted by: David Thomson on October 28, 2002 12:05 PM

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

- Ghandi, In Philosophy

Posted by: on October 28, 2002 01:09 PM

Why is it that your Israel gets even more traffic than Krugman? ;)

'It is, after all, what France did with the Germans in the Alsace-Lorraine; what Australia ultimately did with its aboriginals; what South Africa eventually did with its Africans; what the UK has now done with its handful of surviving overseas holdings; what the US did after the Mexican War and later in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. It is what civilised countries do when they don't want let go of some land that they don't really have a legal right to.'

This is a disturbingly convincing argument.....

Posted by: Jason McCullough on October 28, 2002 01:09 PM

Whoops. I am new to this format of discussion. That was only my second weblog submission of all time.

It was wrong of me to suggest that Professor DeLong did not provide access to the whole article. The fact that it surprised me should have motivated a deeper investigation. I apologize for that, but there are still many arguments that have not been countered.

After removing that gaffe, there still are 9 other paragraphs of argumentation that opponents of divestment should respond to. I hope that my mistake about the link will not be used as a distraction from engaging the real points others have eloquently raised and furthered.

There is no need to erase my submission because my thesis is not that I am perfect, which Professor DeLong can now easily disprove. It is, roughly, that Israel should be divested from because its political and legal structures discriminate between Palestinians and Jews to the detriment of the former and the advantage of the latter -- which has not yet been responded to meaningfully.

I acknowledged Arab countries have horrendous human rights' records and are worthy targets of divestment, but I argue that there is just cause for singling out Israel now based on several reasons laid out in the article (the special relationship, biggest recipient of aid, America's credibility, at the focal point of a dangerous conflict etc). Most, if not all, of them have not been answered, as well.

Finally, as a side-note, I appreciate the comments of Mike, Jawan, Scott, Daniel, and Jean-Philippe Stijns, especially in regards to the absurd claim that calling for divestment is "anti-Semitic."

Posted by: Will Youmans on October 28, 2002 01:50 PM

What I am saying, Will, is slightly different: Criticism of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, or Likudist tactics if you will, is not anti-Semitic.

I am less than convinced so far about the effectiveness of divestment activism to achieve its own goals. Mostly, I am afraid it is going to further allianate moderate Israelis. We need them to oppose Sharon's politics. Hurting them economically is not going to help, I think.

I would welcome your thoughts about this, Will. Above all, I am taking here a Volterian stance: I may not agree with what you say, but to your death I will defend your right to say it.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 28, 2002 02:03 PM

Here's a dumb question: Does anyone know whether any American universities have significant investments in Saudi or Egyptian businesses? My understanding is that the Saudi stock market is essentially closed to foreign investment, and Egypt--well, does Egypt even have a stock exchange?

Kinda makes the issue moot...

Posted by: Hard Pressed on October 28, 2002 02:16 PM

A simple argument for divestment from Israel vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia and Palestine: the marginal effectiveness of divestment is likely to be much greater for Israel.

Israel is a democracy. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are run by small oligarchies. The standard of living of Egypt and Saudi Arabia's rulers is maintained by extracting rents from a much larger populous and maintaining investments elsewhere. The standard of living of Israel's "rulers," that is, its people other than than those living in the occupied territories, is maintained by their own production.

Economic measures -- such as sanctions, embargoes, divestments, etc -- basically hurt the common people of a country. If we divested from Saudi Arabia, its common people, so to speak, would suffer, but its princes could probably weather the storm without reducing their standard of living. Likewise for Egypt's rulers. Israel's people, on the other hand, cannot simply maintain their standard of living by plundering more from other people because they don't have anyone from whom to plunder. Divesting from Israel punishes the people who have the power to change policies: the citizens of Israel. Divesting from an oligarchy in which a tiny fraction of the population has political power punishes the people living under the rule of the oligarchs, and is hence less likely to lead to a change in policies.

Hmm... maybe someone with a deeper understanding of economics around here could model this.

That argument also implies that generally, we should employ sanctions against democracies with somewhat flaky human rights records like Israel, not dictatorships like Cuba. It's an implication I don't like, and I'm not in favor of divestment, personally, and doesn't make sense except in terms of marginal effect (e.g. it doesn't make sense morally), but I just thought I'd bring it up.

Julian Elson

Posted by: Julian Elson on October 28, 2002 02:45 PM

Re:

>>On one side are those who truly believe that the Palestinian radicals are interested in establishing the values of a free, secular, and democratic society. Needless to add, folks like myself consider this to be utterly ridiculous.<<

Everybody who knows Will Youmans believes that he is a Palestinian radical who is interested in establishing the values of a free, secular, and democratic society. IIRC, his first-best preference is not for a two-state (religious) but for a one-state (secular) solution--in which those of the Jewish fringe who applaud the murder of Yitzhak Rabin check and are checked by those of the Muslim fringe who believe that someday soon the trees will call out for the murder of all Jews, and in which the secular majority (of all faiths and heritages) engages in normal politics and everybody (or almost everybody) just gets along.

But I'm not smart enough to see a possible road to that solution. I think the road to that solution closed before 1947. So I advocate a two-state solution.

Unfortunately, it now looks like the road to a two-state solution is closing as well...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on October 28, 2002 02:57 PM

Max Sawicky is in favor of two-handed divestment--or, rather, economic pressure on both the Likud and on the sponsors of the PA: Weblog Entry - 10/28/2002: "DIVEST OF DE STORY": "...More to the point, it cannot be denied that pressure on Arab governments providing critical support for the Palestine Authority would be useful. There should be little doubt about how to do this. The U.S., E.U., and Japan should reduce their dependence on petroleum imports. A variety of devices would have such an effect: an oil import fee, a carbon tax, a BTU tax, or a higher gas tax. There are also subsidies to solar and other energy alternatives that would be helpful in this vein..."

I could get behind (a) special worldwide taxes to drive a wedge between the world and the Middle East price of oil until the sponsors of the PA get it to behave, coupled with (b) a suspension of U.S. aid to Israel for any month in which the population of West Bank settlers does not shrink by 2 percent...

Brad DeLong

Posted by: Brad DeLong on October 28, 2002 03:15 PM

>>Unfortunately, it now looks like the road to a two-state solution is closing as well...<<

I am not positive about that, Professor DeLong because the iron-walling of the status-quo will de facto turn the situation into a two-state solution, except that it will be an unstable, and dangerous two-state solution.

I can't think of a good reason for Palestinians to stop their attacks on Israel if all they go home with is a tiny and disconected patchwork of unproductive land with no access to water (this is a desert we're talking about and the Palestinian economy is mostly agrarian.) In other words, as the German saying goes, Israel is walking itself gloriously to... an indefinite future of violence, oppression and warfare.

And then on top of that, actual anti-Semites will have the last word, for ever... This is why I believe Jewish (as well as all people who have respect for Jews) should unite in calling out for peace, negociation and reason. Arabs are not vill animals as some war-mongers would like us to believe, they WILL respond positively to such a call. The only sure way for that never to happen, is not to try.

Thank you for engaging people on these issues, Professor DeLong. A lot of the stability of the World is hedging on these issues, quite unfortunately. Israel / Palestine is a holy land for three of the World's main religions... no wonder it receives special attention. (It's rather obvious but yet systematically overlooked.)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 28, 2002 03:19 PM

>>I could get behind (a) special worldwide taxes to drive a wedge between the world and the Middle East price of oil until the sponsors of the PA get it to behave, coupled with (b) a suspension of U.S. aid to Israel for any month in which the population of West Bank settlers does not shrink by 2 percent...<<

Sounds like the core of an op-ed you might want to write.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 28, 2002 03:27 PM

“But I'm not smart enough to see a possible road to that solution. I think the road to that solution closed before 1947. So I advocate a two-state solution.

Unfortunately, it now looks like the road to a two-state solution is closing as well...”


Most Palestinians probably prefer living in peace with the Jews. My guess is that the hard-liners may comprise no more than 10% of the population. However, what chance do the moderate Palestinians have in marginalizing the Islamic fascists? Are Americans too often subtly seduced into believing that the majority always rule even in areas of the world where the brute power of the few usually reigns supreme? I have thought long and hard, and it is my adamant conclusion that the militants must be either killed or jailed. They have absolutely no interest in negotiating toward a pluralistic and democratic society. Do you think that I’m overly pessimistic?

Also, I must ask the awkward and unnerving question that upsets many well meaning folks. Are left of center Liberals incapable of thinking logically on this matter because the Palestinians are of a darker complexion. Would they be able to be more objective if the Palestinians had blond hair and blue eyes?

Posted by: David Thomson on October 28, 2002 03:56 PM

"Also, I must ask the awkward and unnerving question that upsets many well meaning folks. Are left of center Liberals incapable of thinking logically on this matter because the Palestinians are of a darker complexion. Would they be able to be more objective if the Palestinians had blond hair and blue eyes?"

i thought we're debating ideas about human rights and not races..

thanks david thomson for revealing the true colour of your position. keep up the good work!

Posted by: silent observor on October 28, 2002 04:14 PM

The Financial Times, Christian Science Monitor, and The Forward have all recently written about the declining viability of the two-state solution as an option.

Professor DeLong points this out at the end of his last entry.

I have seen this to be the case since Yigal Amir killed Rabin. How could any Israeli government go against the settlers and religious parties, and how could a viable Palestinian state form with the settlements and by-pass roads dividing and disconnecting its political terrain? No meaningful state could emerge with its entire legitimacy predicated on the security it provides another state. That is a prison, not a country; yet, it was Oslo's basis. My fears were confirmed when I saw Barak accelerate the construction of settlements -- eating the pizza while selling it. Oslo was doomed for that and other reasons.

We are talking about a very small land mass with interconnected and closely-linked, but divided, populations. The map is absurd and it is getting more so with time. It is swiss cheese. Israel's latest policies have all gone towards destroying and precluding a coherant Palestinian polity. If Israel truly wants security given its overwhelming power, the solution must address the Palestinians basic historical concerns -- displacement, the destruction and appropriation of their original homes, access to the places of their lineage, and the rights to a livelihood.

The only basis for Arafat's legitimacy at this stage is Israel's vilification of him. He is biding time, hoping that he can negotiate a miracle. he has no sovereignty, and the mechanisms of sovereignty have been eradicated by Israel as the settlements continue to grow.

This leaves 3 future options as I can see:

1) Israel's transfer of the Palestinians from the West Bank with Gaza as a camp-state. (I wrote about the increasing discussion of "transfer" in the face of an impending war with Iraq in Israeli politics: http://www.counterpunch.org/youmans1009.html)

2) Complete Apartheid due to the Palestinian demographic boom. A minority ruling a majority with no rights. Palestinians held in official limbo, with no defined status, while Israelis enjoy full rights.

3) Annexation of the WB and Gaza, with citizenship or more likely "legal residency" rights for the Palestinians (like in East Jerusalem). Israel becoming a secular bi-national state eventually.

I prefer 3, because 1 and 2 are clearly wrong. In fact, I prefer it over a Palestinian state in WB and G because that would fail to meet the basic Palestinian historical qualms and leave the conflict open-ended. Number three would be a truly historic and appropriate solution. Most Palestinians are not excited about living under Arafat's rule. This combined with Arafat's suffocation of all civil society spaces (except the mosques), and Israel's own past policies in support of Hamas and current divisive treatment of Muslims and Christians, is fueling religious extremism. My ideal, which professor DeLong sums up well, would result in the whithering away of the bases of Palestinian religious extremism. This religious fanaticism is really a relatively new phenomenon for the Palestinians, by the way.

South African Apartheid began the same year Israel was founded. I think that the Palestinians and Israelis are equally capable of reconciliation and co-existence. To state otherwise is to underestimate the abilities and true ambitions of both peoples.

Among the Palestinians and Israelis, a rights-based movement that articulates a vision is needed. It must be pushed by the Palestinians first. Divestment activists are working towards this.

It may be that divestment is incorrect for starting without a Palestinian rights-based corollary. However, I believe that divestment can encourage one. With the military occupation as extensive as it is, it is difficult enough just to travel, let alone start a new movement. International support would help it along.

This is just tactical of course.

Divestment is first and foremost a strategy for peace. It is non-violent in its very essence.

I think the label "radical" is too often used to dismiss constructive ideas.

I also do not think it aptly relects what I am working for. I suspect that most people Professor DeLong refers to, who see me as a radical, have not made an effort to hear what my views really are. I am not advocating the overthrow of a whole system. I appreciate Israel's democratic features, that is why I have faith in it becoming inclusive. I advocate a major structural reform based on the secular humanist principles of the Enlightenment and I am seen as radical -- we really must be in screwed up times! Now I know how blacks felt in the 1950s!

I thank everyone for challenging me to express my thoughts better and for giving this issue thought and debate. I hope we can keep this up.


Posted by: Will Youmans on October 28, 2002 04:15 PM

>>Most Palestinians probably prefer living in peace with the Jews. My guess is that the hard-liners may comprise no more than 10% of the population. However, what chance do the moderate Palestinians have in marginalizing the Islamic fascists?<<

Give them some incentives and the power to do so and they will, after all that's the daily business of more than one Arab country, for better and for worse...

>>Would they be able to be more objective if the Palestinians had blond hair and blue eyes?<<

Would you? I feel compelled to ask...

Skin color simply does not have anything to do with this (although that is probably an overstatement in fact, but quite the opposite way you suggest). And we should understand that racism does not stop nor begin with skin collor and other bodily characteristics. Anti-Islamism is a form of racism. And after all, most Jews are caucasian-looking and yet have been the object of racism and oppression by other caucasians throughout history.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 28, 2002 04:15 PM

Bernard wrote:

>>On divestment and Summers:

Suppose ten people do something you disapprove of. One of them is Jewish. If you go on and on about "that terrible Jew," and propose all sorts of punishments, but only for the Jew, then yes, you are anti-Semitic.<<

Please provide citations for your claim that anyone in the divestment movement has "gone on and on about 'that terrible Jew'".

Posted by: Daniel Davies on October 29, 2002 12:01 AM

"Anti-Islamism is a form of racism."

Who is 'anti-Islamism?" My complaint is solely directed at Islamic fascism. Why are you seemingly incapable of acknowledging the distinction?"

"Give them some incentives and the power to do so and they will, after all that's the daily business of more than one Arab country, for better and for worse..."

You really need to read Bernard Lewis. This following link will lead you to Lewis’ brilliant article “The Roots of Muslim Rage” published in the September 1990 issue of The Atlantic:

http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/90sep/rage.htm

It is a scandal that your professors at Berkeley have so utterly failed to educate you. Do they have a conscience? Are the top people at Berkeley able to sleep at night? The militant Islamists are nihilists. They will not settle for anything less than the total eradication of the Jewish people--and destruction of the West. We are hated not for our vices, but our virtues. The West is involved in a war to the death. Our enemies consider compromise as unacceptable and an insult to Allah. They are advocating an all or nothing proposition.

"Please provide citations for your claim that anyone in the divestment movement has "gone on and on about 'that terrible Jew'"

The best one can say for the divestment crowd is that they are naive and foolish. A campaign to severely weaken Israel economically will only result in making it easier for the Islamic militants to eventually impose their brand of fascism upon the region. And yes, this is a quintessential example of being "anti-semitic in effect if not in intent."

Posted by: David Thomson on October 29, 2002 02:48 AM

This story is pretty old, so my reply is probably wasted, but...

No one has answered for me the key question. Why now? Palestine was a good cause up until two years ago; the Palestinians unambiguously held the moral high ground. In those two years, they have thrown that away. And yet, in those two same years the Palestinians have become a central issue on the left, perhaps even _the_ central issue. Why?

You have convinced me that it's not anti-Semitism. So what does that leave? It must be the violence _itself_ that is the reason. The fact that people are willing to blow themselves up impresses many on the left.

Conclusion: Terrorism works.

Posted by: Walt on October 29, 2002 07:01 AM

"You have convinced me that it's not anti-Semitism. So what does that leave? It must be the violence _itself_ that is the reason. The fact that people are willing to blow themselves up impresses many on the left."

More importantly, the fact that people who are not white blow themselves up impresses many of the left. Thou not criticize the evil actions of those who have darker complexions. This is the dogma of the politically correct Leftists. It’s really that simple.

Posted by: David Thomson on October 29, 2002 07:31 AM

>.Who is 'anti-Islamism?" My complaint is solely directed at Islamic fascism. Why are you seemingly incapable of acknowledging the distinction?" <<

In the context of the original article, this comment demonstrates a pretty astounding lack of self-awareness.

I'd like to point out, apropos of not much, but not nothing, that Mr Thomson's most recent three posts have contained references to "people with dark skin". I have a shoe here, but I'm not sure who it fits ...

Posted by: Daniel Davies on October 29, 2002 07:49 AM

Walt, by what kind of magic trick do you expect those of us on the left to forget about the brutality with which the IDF oppresses Palestinians? By what kind of magic trick do you expect people on the left to turn a blind eye to the current humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Territories?

These are new developments, hence renewed attention. Although, I wished people had been more attentive two years ago, maybe that would have helped prevent the excalation of violence to come.

David, would you please STOP with your references to skin color. I am beginning to think that you are a repressed white supremacist. You made your point, you don't need to make a litany...

>>It is a scandal that your professors at Berkeley have so utterly failed to educate you. Do they have a conscience? Are the top people at Berkeley able to sleep at night?<<

Berkeley is about knowledge not military brainwashing. If this was what I was looking for I would have gone to a Navy Academy. Our campus is a free campus for the free people of California and beyond: you only get to learn what you elect to, besides core mandatory courses. I don't have to but I can take Hebrew classes just as well as I am allowed to attend or not classes about Palestinian culture. Campuses are not bootcamps. They are dedicated to learning for and by adults.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 29, 2002 08:08 AM

"David, would you please STOP with your references to skin color. I am beginning to think that you are a repressed white supremacist. You made your point, you don't need to make a litany..."

I'm sorry that I must bore you with the truth, but the reality of skin colors underpins the thinking of the Left. The Palestinian militants are vile. There is no way that such disgusting people would be cut slack if they were white. I am fed up with the tacit, if not explicit, suggestion that the Palestinian extremists are advocating pluralistic values and a secular democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are either liars, or complete idiots. Which is it?

"Our campus is a free campus for the free people of California and beyond"

The campus of Berkeley seems to be in the control of the radical Left. Am I perhaps jumping to an invlid conclusion? So far, I don't think so.

Posted by: David Thomson on October 29, 2002 08:47 AM

Jean-Phillippe:

Forget nothing. Turn a blind eye to nothing.

I speak as someone who has been a supported of the Palestinian cause for almost my whole life. Israel should have pulled out of the occupied territories 30 years ago.

But why neglect the order of events? Before Oslo, the IDF had free reign in the West Bank. Under Oslo, they pulled out of certain areas. Now, these areas are staging grounds for a series of murders of your civilian population. If you were Israel, what would you do?

Of course, you'll say, "Israel should just unilaterally pull out of the West Bank." Much like Israel unilaterally pulled out of Lebanon, after years of low-grade guerlla war. And what happened then? The Palestinians drew the obvious conclusion: violence works. Israel will get tired of the bloodshed and withdraw.

But why stop there? The Palestinians did not want to stop there in 1948. They did not want to stop there 1967. Why would they want to stop there in 2002?

Oh, but there are the mythical "good" Palestians, as opposed to the very visible bad Palestinians of Hamas and the al-Asqa Martyrs Brigade. Even David Thomson, the most pro-Israel voice on this board, speculates that only 10% of the Palestinians are hard-liners. While we have clear evidence that there are many Israelis who support peace, the existence of large numbers of Palestinians who support peace is now an article of faith.

If they really do exist, they must come to the forefront of the Palestinian movement before the two sides can make a deal. And they cannot come to the forefront until the terrorists are defeated.

Palestine has gotten the world's attention through a series of horrific murders; each individual murder more horrific than any single act of the IDF. The IDF has done things wrong, but if they fought this war the way the Palestinians did, the Palestinians would all be dead. Now the world is paying attention, the self-styled people of conscience are ringing their hands and demanding action. I can't speak for you or your history; perhaps you have strongly supported the Palestinian cause for years and years. But why has Palestine become such a cause celebre for everyone else? Why now?

If the world pressures Israel into giving into the terrorist leaders of Palestine, these leaders and their people will draw the obvious lesson. Where were all of these supporters when no one was dying? Where were the rallies when Israel occupied southern Lebanon, when everyone's favorite massacre at Sabra and Shatila happened? Where were the demands for divestment when Benjamin Netanyahu did his best to undermine Oslo?

There were some speaking out then. Perhaps you were one of them. But where was everybody else? Then the Palestinians start killing civilians, provoking an Israeli response, and on the left it's Palestine, Palestine, Palestine.

Surely the Palestinians deserve their own state, or even equal rights in a larger Israeli/Palestinian state. But this is no longer just about Palestinian rights. This is also about terrorism. Does it work?

If Israel is prevented from defeating the intifada, then the answer will be: Yes. A resounding yes. And peoples with grievances, legitimate or no, will ask themselves who they should take as their role model. Nelson Mandela? Or Yassir Arafat?

Posted by: Walt on October 29, 2002 09:29 AM

“Oh, but there are the mythical "good" Palestians, as opposed to the very visible bad Palestinians of Hamas and the al-Asqa Martyrs Brigade. Even David Thomson, the most pro-Israel voice on this board, speculates that only 10% of the Palestinians are hard-liners. While we have clear evidence that there are many Israelis who support peace, the existence of large numbers of Palestinians who support peace is now an article of faith.

If they really do exist, they must come to the forefront of the Palestinian movement before the two sides can make a deal. And they cannot come to the forefront until the terrorists are defeated.”

This is the key point to be addressed: can the moderate Palestinians marginalize the militants? The radicals are ideologically committed to imposing an intolerant Islamic fascist state. It matters little if the vast majority of the Palestinians desire peace if the underlying power structure is determined by who has the biggest gun.

The true believer as understood by Eric Hoffer is psychologically and existentially committed to Nihilism. They have crossed the line of no return, and will never again be satisfied with living the typical life of a bourgeois citizen. in other words, they are similar to rabid dogs. What is to be done with them?

Posted by: David Thomson on October 29, 2002 10:53 AM

I hate to say this, but I think a major error of many here is to believe that since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a "problem," that it has a "solution." I fear it is more like the Titanic after the iceberg hit--nothing can now be done that will avoid a terrible catastrophe.

One can talk about many potential points in the history of this conflict, let me discuss one. In 2000 at Camp David, Barak made an offer of Palestinian statehood over most of the West Bank and Gaza. Ignore for now the arguments about whether that offer was "too generous" or "insufficient to be just," those discussions are well covered elsewhere. The key point is that this offer was made, and the Palestinians responded with Intifada II. Now, my reading is that the Israelis will not offer a better agreement than the 2000 plan, lest they "reward terrorism," and are very unlikely to offer even that. Similarly, the Palestinians will only accept an agreement that clearly goes beyond the 2000 plan, so "their sacrifices have not been in vain." In other words, there is no solution that both sides prefer to war. I think the analogy is with November, 1914 of World War I. At that point, a complete cease-fire and return to the status quo ante would have been better than what actually happened, for every major power government, and the people of Europe. Nonetheless, none of the governments politically could accept a solution that looked like anything less than a clear win due to domestic politics, and the war continued for four more years.

[As an important aside, it is a very significant question whether or not the hypothesis is true that if the Israelis offer a better deal to end to Intifada, that would result in more terrorism, or less. I think that many westerners who fall in the "blame or pressure Israel" camp believe that Israeli concessions would lead to a reduction in Palestinian violence, and many westerners who fall into the "blame or pressure the Palestinians" camp believe that Israeli concessions would lead to increases in Palestinian violence. I find the question undecided, but the preponderance of the evidence on the theory that concessions would lead to more violence. There are also the "cross-player" effects. Many Israelis clearly believe that concessions in Lebanon contributed to motivating increased violence by the Palestinians.]

So, what should we do? I also think it is less bad policy to uphold the principal that "terrorism against the West [which still includes Israel], will not be rewarded."
In addition, if large numbers of people really are screwed, we should be as humanitarian as possible where we can. That may involve providing aid to future humanitarian catastrophes. Also, allowing more immigration could at least save those lives. (Unfortunately, we are in a world where we have to screen immigrants as potential security risks, adding a constraint here.)

As for what the protestors and activists should do, I suggest campaigning [protests, letters, street puppetry, etc.] for the position that Israel has done a lot of bad things to the Palestinians, who deserve a state of their own, but as long as Palestinians continue the terrorism of targeting civilians in Israel for murder, then Palestinians cannot concurrently be given, and will ultimately forfeit the right to, a state of their own.
Some may oversimplify the above to "As long as the Palestinians are deliberately targeting civilians, nothing the Israelis do can be wrong." While mistaken, it would not actually be bad if Palestinians accepted that view.
If we reach the point where Palestinians actually renounce the targeting of civilians in their struggle, both in word and deed, then a campaign to pressure Israel to address the legitimate grievances of the Palestinians is probably the next priority. This would be when I would think the proposed divestment campaign makes more moral sense. Note that this still requires a clear stand against the primary illegitimate grievance of the Palestinians, that Israel exists.

Regarding divestiture itself, I have two and half points.

1) I think it is morally misguided and wrong.
2) OTOH, ongoing violence in Israel and the prospect for much worse, may drive many to divest from pure fiduciary prudence.
2 1/2) But, I have some minor holdings in the stock of an Israeli company I bought in the 90's, that has fallen quite a bit, and despite my argument above that Israel is a bad place for investors, I'm not selling. So don't put too much faith in my statements of 1) and 2) above. (My not selling could, of course, have something to do with irrational loss aversion, and the fact that this has fallen to a tiny part of my portfolio, so it can't make much different either way.)

Posted by: Tom on October 29, 2002 03:31 PM

Walt on October 29, 2002 09:29 AM said:

"If Israel is prevented from defeating the intifada, then the answer will be: Yes. A resounding yes. And peoples with grievances, legitimate or no, will ask themselves who they should take as their role model. Nelson Mandela? Or Yassir Arafat?
"

mr walt seems--intentionally or unintentionally--to ignore the whole history of the struggle against colonialism that used to be branded "terrorism." wasn't nelson madela, your celebrated model, labeled a "terrorist" by no one else but thatcher and reagan? what about the alegerian freedom fighters against the french occupation? or the french resistance against the nazi regime? perhaps, in retrospect, they all shouldn't have been "rewarded."

but you seem to suddenly forget in your, sorry to say, self-serving model the founder of terrorism for the sake of nation building: does anyone else remember king david hotel in 1947?

perhaps it is only when the palestinians (is it really because of their "brown skin"? i don't think so) pursue the same strategy, after exhausting all other means for over 50 years against the most brutal occupation (and please don’t even start talking about the so-called "generous offer"), then the argument "we cannot reward terrorism" is flashed.

we’re all entitled to any system of morality we choose, of course, (and i am withholding my own here, so far) but we should at least be consistent.

It is interesting that this whole debate started out with an accusation of hypocrisy and singling out. I have honestly lost track of which side was the target of such claim.

And, mr thomson, please save us your constant reminder of how the racism card could be used to silence criticism. I think most people now understand what the "colour" your position truly is.

note: i prefer to remain anonymous if that's ok with everyone. (if not, i'll stop sending further comments) so please address the issues and not attack me on this.

thanks prof delong for providing this forum for such lively debate.

Posted by: s.o. on October 29, 2002 03:46 PM

The fact is that in general mainstream Palestinian militants respond to withdrawal and other positive Israeli initiatives with calm and truce (the same cannot be said of Sharon though.) Hamas is an other thing, they share with Sharonites the objective to derail all peace efforts and drive off the other side to the sea (respectively the other side of the Jordan.)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 29, 2002 04:27 PM

s.o.: Are you for real? Being neither Reagan nor Thatcher (or for that matter never having voted for eiter), I don't really care who they call a "terrorist". I also have yet in my life to say a kind word about Menachim Begin, Irgun, or the bombing of the King David Hotel. When I do, feel free to bring up your argument about my inconsistency.

Posted by: Walt on October 29, 2002 04:35 PM

'I am fed up with the tacit, if not explicit, suggestion that the Palestinian extremists are advocating pluralistic values and a secular democracy.'

If you can find something stating or implying this, my monocole will pop clean off.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on October 29, 2002 04:42 PM

I would still like an answer to my main question. Why did Palestine become fashionable in direct proportion to the level of violence?

Jean-Phillippe:

Israel gave Arafat leeway to reign in Hamas, and he failed to do so. Perhaps they should have given him longer, but perhaps Arafat was unable or unwilling to do anything.

I have no intellectual trust in Ariel Sharon. I fully expect he will have to be voted from office to have a final peace. But if Sabra and Shatila invalidates Sharon's credentials as a peacemaker, why doesn't the history of the PLO invalidate Yassir Arafat's?

Yes, Sharon visited the Dome of the Rock. Boo-hoo. Are the Palestinians children?

Camp David II was not the final word on negotiations. Barak went much further to a final deal at Taba; close to what will have to be _the_ final deal. Given how close he came, what's the best way to nudge him and Israel along to the final destination? Demonstrations? Civil disobedience? Or the random murder of Israelis?

Tom: Your analysis, while depressing, is quite possibly right. I don't expect to see any meaningful progress for a long time.

Posted by: Walt on October 29, 2002 05:02 PM

Walt wrote:
"Yes, Sharon visited the Dome of the Rock. Boo-hoo. Are the Palestinians children?"

Imagine that the Ottoman empire controls Rome, where Italians have less rights than Turkic Muslim people.
Then imagine a Turkish war criminal entering the Vatican with a few hundred machine-gun carrying Turkish soldiers... Would you expect Catholics to be happy?

Or perhaps a different analogy: Imagine that the secular Italian state seizes land in the Vatican to be used as an abortion clinic...

Posted by: Anonymous on October 29, 2002 09:21 PM

>>But if Sabra and Shatila invalidates Sharon's credentials as a peacemaker, why doesn't the history of the PLO invalidate Yassir Arafat's?<<

I am with you. How about either making them both grata or both non-grata? Instead of calling Sharon 'a man of peace'. (But then again, some folks nominated Duya for the NB Peace Prize...)

If Sharon hadn't made it a personal crusade to make a martyr out of Arafat, we would already have a reformed PLO, right from inside. But maybe, that isn't what Sharon is really looling for?

>>Given how close he came, what's the best way to nudge him and Israel along to the final destination? Demonstrations? Civil disobedience? Or the random murder of Israelis?<<

Civil disobedience and demonstrations, obviously... but these are hard to do while being under curfew and obstructed by blocades. You are also missing the disproportionate repression that was orchastrated on Israel's side. That's the basic tactic of peace ennemies: claim that any trouble cancels everything and pour oil on the fire at any occasion.

The last important element is the role the short time frame Barak had for himself to negociate. He was already in political trouble before the second intifada. Elections were right around the corner. This should have been undertaken in the middle of his mandate.

Besides being a reflection of Barak's desire to enter history, the peace making effort were also an attempt to shore up a loosing coalition. Not a good recipie in a volatile situation in which you have to negociate politically courageous compromises with historical enemies, I would say.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 29, 2002 09:32 PM

I don't see how the divestment campaign against Israel can be seen as intrinsically anti-Semitic, any more than the campaign against South Africa was intrinsically anti-white, or the campaign against bilingual education intrinsically anti-Latin. Indeed, many of the proponents of these measures are some sort of bigot. That, in fact, is why I voted for bilingual education even though I then suspected (and now strongly believe) that its opponents were correct on the merits. But let's not commit the obvious logical fallacy here....

Certainly the excuse that other countries are worse than {South Africa, Israel} is morally lame, and refuted as a practical matter by the conditions that make S.A. and Israel relatively susceptible to divestment and boycott pressure. The conditions, simply, are that their international economies will suffer, and impinge on the well-being of a politically-enabled class that can truly change the policies in question. (Something similar happened in Serbia, with other types of economic sanctions.) This is not true of Egypt.

This, however, all avoids the question of whether divestment from Israel is actually a good idea. I think the answer here is: not yet. However, the time may finally coming when instead of being distracted by calls for the feckless and evil Arafat to rein in Hamas, we will also recognize that the behavior of the Israeli right wing prevents completely any sort of democratic peace agreement. (This is not by a mistaken calculation on their part: they do not accept our conceptions of the Palestinians' inalienable rights, for reasons for nationalism and/or eschatology.) I see clear indications that the next government of Israel, of the right and far-right, are prepared for (1) "transfer", (2) massive uncompensated expropriations, or (3) annexation without granting any citizenship rights to the Palestinians [aside to Scott: your idea of annexation plus full citizenship was proposed by Menachem Begin, of all people. I think I underestimated his commitment to Western ideals of democracy.]. I think the implementation of these anti-democratic policies should indeed be met by a divestment campaign. (See the normally sober Zeev Schiff's article today and realize that the Israeli center has never shown the guts to stand up to the right when Arabs' (as opposed to, say, secular Jews') rights were at issue.

[Second aside to Scott: Ariel Sharon was the only Israeli politician I know of to be pro-Milosevic.]

[Aside to anonymous pro-Israeli poster: can't you at least use a pseudonym?]

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus on October 29, 2002 09:35 PM

The last important element is the role the short time frame Barak had for himself to negociate. He was already in political trouble before the second intifada. Elections were right around the corner.

While I think Mr (Dr?) Stijns and I approach this issue similarly, this statement is incorrect. The election was for Prime Minister only, and was a consequence of the failure of the negotiations and resumption of violence. The Israeli election law of the time (since changed back to a more ordinary Parliamentary system) provided that the P.M. could resign without dissolving the Knesset, and an election would be held for P.M. from within the existing members of the Knesset. Barak took this path in order to run against Sharon and not Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, who is not sitting in the current Knesset and was therefore ineligible. Barak thought that Sharon would be easier to defeat, a (another!) huge miscalculation. Now, had Barak not resigned, his entire government would surely have fallen and elections for Knesset would have been held, but that is not what happened. The current Knesset is the same one that Barak led (modulo some resignations and replacements as provided by law). New elections must be called not later than April (May??) '03, but are expected earlier as Labour may leave the coalition this week.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus on October 29, 2002 09:44 PM

Thanks for the clarification, Andrew.

>>Imagine that the secular Italian state seizes land in the Vatican to be used as an abortion clinic...<<

As much as I think the visit of the place was meant as an insult to Palestinians and a reminder that their hopes for some serious control over East Jerusalem were foolish, it is important to respect the fact that the Jewish tradition recognizes the same place as Mount Temple, sacred in Judaism.

Unfortunately, there are many sacred places accross the world that cannot be returned to their original cult for obvious reasons. But comparing Mount Temple to an abortion clinic is unacceptable.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 29, 2002 09:59 PM

To correct my own post, the current Knesset could legally sit until November 2003 (although it won't).

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus on October 30, 2002 05:58 AM
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