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Lessons Learned: Concluding The Apartheid Debate

I draw two primary conclusions from the last week’s discussion:

  1. While there is, indeed, extraordinary (and, arguably, state-mandated) discrimination against the Arab population of Israel and the Palestinian people within the occupied territories which echo policies enacted by the South African apartheid government, to brand Israel an apartheid state is to apply a misnomer. While one can find many parallels between the two situations, they are not the same, and can not be regarded as such.
  2. Drawing attention to the issue of discrimination is an incredibly sensitive matter because, when couched in terms like “apartheid”, the arguments are reflective of, and in some ways substantiate, the positions taken by those who wish to undermine the legitimacy of Israel’s very existence, and thus, by presenting these issues in such a manner, it draws attention away from the issues themselves, and refocuses the discussion on the subject of anti-Zionism. Thus, taking such a position calls into question the credibility of the individual positing the critique himself, as there is a standing presumption that one who criticizes Israel does so out of contempt for Israel and in the interest of delegitimizing the state. This presumption, however, is entirely unfair.

I do not regard myself as an anti-Zionist, but rather an anarcho-Zionist; and I have no interest in seeing Israel “fall” as it were. However, I do have a vested interest in seeing Israel manifest itself as the most just, righteous, and holy nation it has the potential to be. Some would regard this as holding Israel to a higher standard than other nations, and suggest that this position itself is inherently antisemitic. But as a Jewish person who has committed himself to the Jewish community, and the study of Judaism, it is my understanding that it is the obligation of a Jewish person to, in fact, hold Israel to a higher standard — that is if you believe we bear a special responsibility as God’s chosen people.
Obviously, this complicates the matter even further, for how can one take a position which, in a sense, rejects particularism, and which, in another sense, relishes in it? Yale student Daniel Strimpel, in a recent essay for israelinsider writes,

Those who see themselves as having a special role in the world, such as Jews or Americans, are inherently particularist and their “special role” is that of spreading universal principles. A people who discovers universal principles, adheres to them, and propagates them is by its very nature unique among peoples who do not share such a commitment. Thus, America was founded as a “city upon a hill” and Israel, a “beacon unto the nations”.

Thus, Daniel drives home the point that it is the role of Jewish people in this world to disseminate universalist values, and that this is a role we have prided ourselves in, if not since time immemorial, for the greater portion of the last century. When the nation fails to meet that commitment, however, it is the responsibility of those who witness this failure, to bring it to the attention of the community.
The question I am left with is how best to advance “constructive” criticism of Israel, without watering-down the message. Israel demands our scrutiny; Hashem demands it. So how best to put it forth in a manner which incites individuals to action, without providing further ammunition to Israel’s opponents? How can we address the severity of the issues I raised in my initial post on this topic, without making Israel out to be “the bad guy”? And if we can not, are we simply expected to ignore matters, as if that will make them go away?
No one addressed any of the examples of institutionalized discrimination I presented other than to excuse them as responses to terrorism. I think this is disengnuous, because I have seen these laws applied without terrorism being a remote consideration to their application. This is demonstrative of an exceptionally large problem within the Jewish community regarding recognition of culpability: Even though people will cede that Israel has done some pretty shady things in its day, the bottom line is, Israel is forver innocent, because “the Arabs want to kill us.” It is absurd to contend that such policies are merely an outgrowth of Arab antisemitism and rejectionism, however, when it is clear that issues such as preserving a Jewish ethnic majority in Israel are in play. If we never cop to responsibility for our hand in this mess, and actually work (in as much concert and unison as a people as possible) to assuage such things, how can we ever expect (let alone feel we’re entitled to) peace?

48 thoughts on “Lessons Learned: Concluding The Apartheid Debate

  1. Mobius, I commend you on wanting to tackle these issues, especially in dialogue with some of the folks on this site. I’m surprised that you do not identify as an anti/non/post-zionist. You seem to be struggling to apply universal values to an ethno-national state. That is always going to fail. Israel has the discriminatory policies it does because it was founded with two contradictory political philosophies; special status for Jews, and universal democracy. The housing policy around Jerusalem that results in all those home demolitions is a direct result of trying to mesh democracy with ethnocracy by creating the conditions for maintaining a Jewish majority. (Some refer to this process as silent transafer). The territories captured in 67 have been under military occupation for the same reason. Israel could not annex them without giving up on either its ethnic or democratic character. Unfortunately, ruling over a population through military might is remarkably undemocratic. Israel might not have made the conscious choice to give up on democracy, but once it began occupying the territories indefinitely it gave up all claim to be a universal democracy. Once I saw the way that the logic of Zionism leads inexorably to occupation and discriminatory policy, I had to absent myself from my zionist upbringing. Since I live and work professionally in the Jewish community, I often worry about coming out as a non-zionist, but more and more as I explain myself to people in the community (at least those of a younger generation) they see that ethnic nationalism isn’t really the way to go. In fact, I see there being a real possibility of opening a space of non-zionist (or at least non-statist zionism, ala Buber and Magnes) in the Jewish community. It just takes reminding people that Zionism is not a central part of Judaism, but is a political position developed in the last century.

  2. Wow, Yusul, no mention of Arab states or Palestinians or wars, or Khartoum in 1967, or anything substantive. Israel did it all on its own. If you want to find non-Zionist space, I heartily recommend Syria.
    Mobius, I’m glad the word apartheid is off the table.

  3. anarcho-zionist? are you serious? to reconcile a political nationalism, a religion founded on an ordered/scripted relationship to G-d, and an anarchism mined somewhere out of chasidic judaism and emma goldman is to bow down to the sort of superficial cosmopolitanism that, when truly examined, doesn’t hold much but a watered down version of humanism…
    i admire your zeal, but i wholeheartedly disagree on your acceptance of judaism as reconcilable with the sort of rigid ideologies one picks up at american private liberal arts schools. If one can evoke the best criticism of Martin Buber I’ve heard, which also applied to you: you have too much faith in the idea of a Jewish totality – that ones entire life can be founded on this abstract sense of what it is to be Jewish. Rather than recognize that your understanding of Judaism is informed and enriched by non-Jewish sources, you coopt all of your knowledge into this idea of Jewish totality. It doesn’t work, nor will it help develop a Jewish community ready to grapple with and understand the ways of the gentile world.
    B’hatzlacha my pal..I’ll see you thursday for piyyitum.

  4. R’ Bunim said the following: “There is a person who has reached the quality that he learns from everyone. Even from ordinary people speaking about worldly matters, he finds some allusion to wisdom, how to serve God.”
    Further he stated, “If a person truly wants something, he could learn this quality even from non-Jews. For example, we see that when non-Jewish people want the state run in a certain way that is for the benefit of the state, according to their understanding, they don’t pay attention to anything with regards to themselves. They endanger themselves and fight wars until they conquer all according to their will.”
    Is this a defense of nationalism? Not quite. What Simcha Bunim is admiring is the quality of non-Jews to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their nation. This reflection, when put into the context of the first quote, suggests that one should demonstrate the same passion in sacrificing themselves for the greater good of God.
    Like Reb Bunim, I entirely support the view that one’s “understanding of Judaism is informed and enriched by non-Jewish sources.” In that, however, I understand too the belief that Hashem looked within the Torah and from it, he created the world. Thus, all of creation eminates from Torah, and can be contextualized within the view of Judaism. Hence I do not find the positions of “the outside world” irreconcilable. Thus I believe, through a greater understanding of Torah, one can gain a greater understanding of the non-Jewish world.
    to reconcile a political nationalism, a religion founded on an ordered/scripted relationship to G-d, and an anarchism mined somewhere out of chasidic judaism and emma goldman is to bow down to the sort of superficial cosmopolitanism that, when truly examined, doesn’t hold much but a watered down version of humanism…
    I generally don’t support political nationalism. I find myself “bowing” to it, if you will, because I recognize the threat to Jewish people posed by antisemitism, and realize that, due to the lack of values such as “b’tselem elokim” and “v’ahavta l’recha camocha” in the world, the Jewish people, like many others, are left to look out for their own best interests. Thus, until the greater problem of racism and discrimination is resolved all together, the Jewish people require political autonomy. The best way to resolve this matter, however, is to develop an understanding of “b’tselem elokim” and “v’ahavta l’recha camocha” within ourselves and our community, and be the tzaddik setting the example for the world that is comprised of our chasidim, thus living up to our potential as an “ohr l’goyim.” Hence, I’m a greater proponent of spiritual Zionism, which is the recognition of creating a Jewish community (whether situated in Palestine or not) that shines like a beacon out forth through the world. This view, shed of its religious underpinnings, is a core understanding amongst the anarchists with whom I’ve engaged. Their war cry is that “another world is possible” and the way to accomplish that is to redefine how we as individuals and communities interact with one another and the world around us, and to live in accordance with the values that we seek to promote in the world. Ergo, the Jewish people are my affinity group or my collective, and refining myself and refining my community are the best way to disseminate my collective’s values. That’s entirely anarchistic and not irreconcilable at all.

  5. Rather than addressing my argument, you again focus upon the writings of a few rabbis. If I understand your affinity for anarchism in the same way that I understand your affinity for chasidus, (which is derived from, liberally speaking, 25 years of living in America) I can’t imagine how you could coopt the, as you understand it, Jewish belief that G-d created and ordered the world, while simultaneously accepting the anarchistic ideal that the present order can and will eventually be replaced by another, better one. This seems to replace a faithful yearning for a better world, or any sort of interpretation of olam haba, with the ultimately secular aspirations of the anarchists you “engage with.” I don’t think you are on the right track. If one is to engage with G-d and through this exchange realize that a world could be a better place – this says nothing of his political aspirations but rather of his individual/religious/emotional need for a “better” world. I don’t think politicizing these otherwise poetic beliefs is helpful in understanding them. As I said before, your attempt to reconcile the spiritual world of Chasidus(which you see as inherently universalist) with the political world of anarchism (which you see as inherently universalist) does any justice to these phenomenon as they have functioned independently in the world. In this regard, I think that confronting Israeli tanks demolishing homes in the name of Hashem is as misguided as one who blows up things in the name of Allah. It fails to recognize that religious doctrine has a cultural identity. The world in which chasidus developed has few, if any, modern analogies. This is why the majority of today’s hasidim are militantly conservative; they seek to conserve ways of life independent of their host culture. Hasidus, as I learned as a boy, has done wonderful things for the soul, but Hasidus, as I learn as a young man, has done little to craft a liberated Jewish people.
    I, too, am a proponent of spiritual zionism – but in the context of secular jewish culture – which to this day is still developing in the state of israel.
    Moreover, I think your interest in Chasidus is remarkable genuine and pretty damn fascinating, but I fail to see how it moves beyond the narrative of a young Jewish man growing up in America, struggling to reconcile his diverse Jewish identity with other cultural identities around him. To return to Chasidus is to return to the indigenous; in a sense, to emulate the same struggle that African Americans, Chicanos, and other people with a migratory history somehow reconnect with the worlds they left behind. This yearning is your most genuine and most heartfelt it seems. I wish, however, it was more interesting to you than the annals of a great tradition most American Jewish youth have never been a part of – This movement you adhere to is something quite new and exciting – to claim its grounded in the ancient is to oversimplify what came before and what will come after.

  6. Thanks for opening another thread.
    You comment that nobody addressed your “examples of discrimination” – I think that most of these were quite ably deconstructed in the previous threads. There is no educational discrimination – in fact, an Arab village in the Gallillee adopted Syrian textbooks. Not exactly the timid behavior of the subjugated.
    There are no segregated hospitals or clinics – in fact, medical staff in several hospitals were roughed up and threatened by Arabs visiting relatives in hospital at the height of the intifada – not exactly the cringing behavior of oppressed masses.
    If there is a variance in funding – well, there is also a variance among Jewish sectors as well. This was the basis for the Sephardic Shas party’s rise to power. Another example: the ultra-secular Youth Scouts receive almost twice as much government support per kid than the religious national Bnei Akiva movement – even though 75 percent of Jewish kids are affiliated with Bnei Akiva.
    There is also a great divide between Arab and Jewish sectors in the tax rolls – I’m not talking absolute numbers, I’m talking participation. There are entire areas of the Galilee and Negev where Israeli cops and tax officials take their lives in their hands if they enter villages. It’s clear that there are many Israeli Arabs who still harbor divided loyalties – and both Intifadas and Oslo have emboldened the fifth-columnists. We have already been “shocked and dismayed” by several home-grown terrorists and abetters with full Israeli citizenship.
    So, as I said in the earlier threads, the conflict is still fresh, the notion that Israel should meet some idealized notion of anodyne suburban “tolerance” is untoward. This is swept away by you as “disingenuous”. In fact, it is reality and human nature – and the past century shows the difficulty left-leaning radicals have had with messy human reality. To this is added the “progressive” Jew’s discomfort with – and blind spots regarding – his own heritage and people. The result is an Israel that is never good enough and can do no right.
    There is no fundamental notion in Israeli society (or in Judaism) of Arabs being inferior – which notion was the spring that powered apartheid. Their is no systematic institutionalized bias against Arabs. Let peace reign and it is clear that the momentum of Israeli society will work to erase any lingering prejudice.
    More facts:
    The spark for this discussion was the ruling about JNF lands. This is best analyzed by Caroline Glick in her recent Jerusalem Post article. My severely condensed version:
    The JNF was founded to raise money from Jews to buy lands in Israel for Jewish settlement. Its charter stipulates that JNF lands be used specifically for Jewish settlement. (After the state was established, administration of JNF lands was passed to the Israel Lands Authority – a governmental body). Stemming from this, it was agreed in 1960 that the ILA would only lease JNF land – which comprises some 13 percent of the total land in Israel – to Jews.
    Meanwhile, state-owned lands – more than 80 percent of land in Israel – are leased to all citizens – Jews, Muslim and Christians.
    If the state cannot administer privately owned lands in accordance with the wishes of the lands’ owners, it can stop administering them. After all, the Islamic Wakf owns large swathes of land in Israel which Jews are prohibited from purchasing or leasing. The Holyland Christian Ecumenical Foundation buys lands in Israel exclusively for Christian settlement.
    Instead, Attorney General Mazuz decided that the ILA can no longer publish tenders for ANY lands it administers (even JNF holdings) which stipulate that the land is to be leased for Jewish settlement or use. Mazuz has effectively expropriated and nationalized all JNF lands.
    The most troubling aspect of this situation is that it is wholly politically motivated. Adalah’s attorneys know full well that the ILA does not in practice discriminate against Israeli Arabs. Upper Nazareth, which is built entirely on state land, has a population that is 18 percent Arab. More than 50% of the lands used by Arab Israeli farmers are state-owned.
    Until now, in cases where Arabs have asked to lease JNF lands, the ILA and the JNF have enabled such leases by swapping ownership of the JNF-owned lands in question with state-owned lands. What Adalah is demanding in its petition and what Mazuz is agreeing to is the acceptance of a discriminatory principle whereby Jews (and only Jews!) have no right to collectively own land for the benefit of Jews in the Jewish state.
    Mazuz has not merely overstepped his authority. He has effectively seized the property of the entire Jewish people – in Israel and throughout the world – who have for the last 120 years been putting their dollars, rubles, francs and pounds into the blue boxes of the JNF.
    —————————————
    AGAIN – no consistent pattern of discrimination or studied, willful disenfranchisement. Ongoing conflict? Yes. Apartheid? No.
    Agreement by lefties that Jews are somehow beyond the pale of normal rights and treatment – even in their own state? Yes.
    One aspect of rebuke that you seem to have missed is that it be done regretfully – and after trying very hard to give the benefit of the doubt, to understand the other’s human limitations and failings. To let the thought count, even if the actions are imperfect. But the still very real and human distress of Israelis – and the very real and continuing threat against them – is dismissed again and again as ‘disingenuous’, not sufficient explanation for a young state’s shortcomings.
    We are asked to sympathize with the Palestinian terrorist’s sense of embattlement and fear – which, even if it’s true, doesn’t justify the violence they wreak – but no such sympathetic “understanding of root causes” is extended to Israelis. Their very real and justified sense of having to act harshly despite their wishes is NEVER accepted by lefties as sufficient reason for Israeli positions. This is, itself, “disingenuous” – are we to believe you “love” Israelis when you consistently view them with less human empathy you do their enemies?
    I and many others would be more believing of your assertion that you love Israel if we hadn’t seen so many Mobiuses and Cecilie Surasky’s warming to the task of rebuke. We’ve seen so many marginally affiliated “progressive” Jews taking up this particular stick with an enthusiasm and authority totally unsupported by their communal involvement – and so obviously looking over their shoulders when they do it, to make sure they’re getting points for being progressive and liberal. This indicates that there is some other value system or society they wish to please, that trumps their love of us.
    The Rest of Us –
    – the majority of Israeli Jews whose Jewish identity is still rooted in the Jewish people’s covenant and destiny, rather than loose notions of “social justice” or long-failed Socialist dreams – The Rest of Us look at the Mobiuses and Cecilles and draw obvious parallels between this “loving” rebuke and previous frustrated, heavy-handed, elitist, condescending lectures to the OstJuden urging them to “get with the program” – haranguing lectures about how bad Judaism and Jews are, delivered in the name of Reform Judaism, Socialism, and other substitute Judaisms that have failed.
    Then as now, these “regretfully necessary rebukes” are fueled and fired by the “progressive” Jew’s own cultural dilemma – their desire, caught between to cultures, to square the circle – or justify jumping out of their Jewish skin. The speakers can see no good in Judaism or the Jewish people because this was the only way they could resolve their own conflicts. Israel cannot be legitimate -because such a decision undermines the choice to assimilate.
    It is no accident that the political fault line in Israel so closely tracks the religious fault line. That religious and traditional Jews have no problem taking their own legitimate rights as a starting point flows directly from their take on the Jewish nation. The fact that the vast majority of nihilist lefties grew up in the socialist circles that set out to create “New Jews” is also not an accident – their inability to articulate the Jewish people’s basic right to exist grows out of their fundamental problem with the Jewish people’s very existence – with Judaism itself. So these people cannot find the will to defend the nation their parents and grandparents built. They cannot cover their cultural nakedness when faced with the freshly minted fabrication of Palestinian identity – precisely because they and their parents severed themselves from their own national heritage.
    It’s easy enough to trace the parallels to American Jewish liberalism. The progressive Jew’s love/hate relationship with their Judaism has only been sharpened by the Mideast conflict – a conflict unique for shattering the set pieces of leftie thought. It was OK to recast Judaism as “always standing up for the oppressed” – but what happens when your fellow lefties start calling your fellow Jews oppressors? Who do you go with?
    As long as your “rebuke” still ignores our humanity while celebrating our enemy’s – as long as your “love” is still declared with a nervous eye cast to the judges of political correctness in the gallery – The Rest of Us shall remain skeptical.
    Ben-David

  7. Mobius,
    You are clearly one of the most confused of people.
    Now I understand why you don’t answer direct challenges when they seem to difficult. My challenge went to your very core. You don’t know what to choose and are attempting to both be completely democratic and equal while having Israel remain Jewish.
    As I rxplained and as some here have alluded to this is logically impossible.
    You see Mobius even if you were prime minister in Israel YOU would be instituting the policies Israel is instituting now!
    These policies are a direct result of your confusion that also plagues those who run Israel now.
    I now understand and am no longer expecting a direct logical answer to anything I posted in the other threads.
    That is also why , Mobius,
    I do not expect you to change your position even though you can’t answer the points.
    A confused person is not an honest person.

  8. If I understand your affinity for anarchism in the same way that I understand your affinity for chasidus, (which is derived from, liberally speaking, 25 years of living in America) I can’t imagine how you could coopt the, as you understand it, Jewish belief that G-d created and ordered the world, while simultaneously accepting the anarchistic ideal that the present order can and will eventually be replaced by another, better one.
    It depends on how you understand God’s creation and ordering of the world. I lean heavily towards kabbalistic, magickal and Taoist interpretations, combined with a healthy dose of Discordianism, which leads me to a chaotic pantheism. You can see me trying to work out my understanding of “the personal” and “intentionally minded” God of Judaism in this post here.
    This seems to replace a faithful yearning for a better world, or any sort of interpretation of olam haba, with the ultimately secular aspirations of the anarchists you “engage with.” I don’t think you are on the right track. If one is to engage with G-d and through this exchange realize that a world could be a better place – this says nothing of his political aspirations but rather of his individual/religious/emotional need for a “better” world. I don’t think politicizing these otherwise poetic beliefs is helpful in understanding them. As I said before, your attempt to reconcile the spiritual world of Chasidus(which you see as inherently universalist) with the political world of anarchism (which you see as inherently universalist) does any justice to these phenomenon as they have functioned independently in the world.
    Again, this depends on how you understand Olam Haba. In Gershom Scholem’s Toraically-substantiated view, the goal of Zionism was to realize an anarchist utopia that was in accordance with the will of Hashem. That is Olam Haba: A world of justice, peace and equality. If you want to abstract it and make it about some fictional metaphysical superreality divorced from this world, than I think you are sticking too close to peshat. Hashem demands justice. The path to justice is through Torah mitzvos, whereas the klal gadolim of Torah are “b’tselem elokim” and “v’ahavta l’recha camocha.” That is, recognizing the face of G-d in all creation (ie., seeing the humanity in the other, respecting the earth), and loving one’s neighbor as yourself. Though arrived at through a different intellectual process, is that not, at the end of the day, what anarchism seeks to accomplish? The manifestation of a world in which we all adhere to these values? Thus you have a yearning for a better world and a clear definition of what makes a better world. Is this not an inspired and worthy vision of Olam Haba?
    Further, socialsm and anarchism were philosophies heavily developed by haskalah Jews. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think its a “religiously sanitized”/secularized expressions of radical Jewish thought. These folks got their ideas from somewhere. I just think their rejection of establishment Judaism forced them to conjure a new dialectic from which to express these sentiments. In turn, it provided the non-Jewish world with a means by which to engage with these ideas, as they were otherwise restricted to the initiated.
    In this regard, I think that confronting Israeli tanks demolishing homes in the name of Hashem is as misguided as one who blows up things in the name of Allah. It fails to recognize that religious doctrine has a cultural identity.
    I don’t see how you go from A to B with that, and I think its shameful to compare non-violence in the name of defending the weak to violence in the name of vengeance. You basically just said the yatzer tov = the yatzer hora. And I disagree.
    The world in which chasidus developed has few, if any, modern analogies. This is why the majority of today’s hasidim are militantly conservative; they seek to conserve ways of life independent of their host culture. Hasidus, as I learned as a boy, has done wonderful things for the soul, but Hasidus, as I learn as a young man, has done little to craft a liberated Jewish people.
    In that case, I think you should come learn some Pryzsucha.

  9. joe, you’ve done nothing but condescended to me and done things such as putting “people” in scare quotes when referring to palestinians. do you think you really deserve a response? i think not.

  10. Dwelling in the world of theoretics and narcissisticly labeled ideologies is certainly fun and self-gratifying – how else do you explain grad students? But it has precious little bearing on the real world around you unless you can express yourself in a way that has a real and meaningful impact on policy and the direction(s) our community moves in. I respect the learning you’ve packed in your head, and it seems Yakar has been good to you in your Jewish education, but it really doesn’t mean a whole lot if you can’t craft your thoughts in a consistent and meaningful way. Sure is entertaining though!

  11. I think Mobius deserves immense credit for his relentless efforts to try to penetrate some sense into these peoples’ thick skulls, but I honestly think his is an exercise in futility. It’s like trying to persaude a Jihadist to accept Jesus into his heart. The portion of their brains that enables them to reason is probably separated by a security fence.

  12. Yeah, so there’ve obviously been anarcho-Zionists before. Buber wasn’t explicitly an anarchist, but he was heavily influenced by Landauer, who was, and he included chapters on Proudhon and Kropotkin in his “Paths in Utopia.” Hans Kohn, Hugo Bergmann, and the rest of the Brit Shalom crew were mostly utopian socialists of the democratic type, or anarchists. The fact that they were Zionists meant that they accepted: 1) An end to the Jewish people’s passivity in the face of oppression, no longer accepting theological or secular-teleological-assimilationist reasons for quietism, 2) A belief in the value of renewing the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel on a mass scale, for the purposes of rescuing the Jewish people from modernity.
    This does not mean that they had to want something as clumsy, corrupting, and generally a bad idea as a state. But one came into being anyway, and Buber accepted it as the new reality from which his type of Zionist would have to work.
    American Jews are the heirs of the haskalah. We are living in the country that has claimed the mantle of the imperial West, taking upon itself the goals of maintaining Western culture and hegemony. It makes perfect sense that American Jews would sometimes develop the counter-reaction, which seeks to go beyond the modern/pre-modern dialectic in a search for an end to the bloodshed and violence of more than a century of statism. And I appreciate that Mobius is trying to do it from within Judaism’s grammar rather than to observe the process from outside.
    Ben-David, people like you are the true assimilated. You have accepted that the Jews, as a group, do not have the same responsibilities that we have as individuals. That it is okay for us to do things as a group that we would condemn if done on an individual scale. Leaving aside that I disagree with your factual claims (Caroline Glick almost never analyzes anything best — she’s certainly wrong about the history of the JNF, to which the state transferred the land it conquered in the ’48 war; that’s still most of the land it holds today, not land it bought with your fifty cents in a blue box), I disagree more broadly with your Torah.
    And as for Confused, it’s always funny when someone makes that basic “well why don’t you DO something” criticism, and yet — and yet — they never seem to be doing anything themselves.

  13. I am amazed at how kind readers of this site have been to mobi. People have even referred to him as intelligent. Mobi may be good at his computer and website thing, but intelligent?? Has anyone here been reading his posts? This is the exact reason so many people with absolutely no voices think they will be the next american idol.
    Mobi is at best, slightly above average intelligence and when it comes to political and social issues, hes a retard.
    All his reading and learning make him quite knowledgeable regarding certain subjects, but this hardly compensates for his mediocre intellect.
    I, of course, am not referring to his political viewpoints, but rather his idiotic analysis, and incoherent positions.
    Mobi is honest and brave enough to make his thoughts public, we should be just as honest in return.

  14. Conclusion #1 is quite fine but conclusion #2 just seems to me like a slightly immature way to rebuke people who don’t agree with you,
    (and/or
    might let emotion into their arguments (fallable humans) and/or
    aren’t as eloquent as you and/or
    aren’t speaking from a position of equal stature since, ma la’asot, it’s your blog, )
    by claiming that after a few hundred posts, we still can’t deal with this subject rationally as adults.
    No one addressed any of the examples of institutionalized discrimination I presented
    Even though I disagree that you’ve been ignored, I’ll accuse you of setting the wrong stage to discuss individual examples by blanketing the entire policy with apartheid. Like the Holy Terror character bringing up certain words like nigger, essentially ending any hope of intelligent discussion hereafter, your use of apartheid to compare Israeli/Jewish policies with the Arab minority is detrimental.
    Regardless of my criticism and the misled ‘lefticism’ on the site in general, I’m still here because you are noble in your search for a truth and tikkun olam in a time when most people are asleep and not aware of their existance.
    Bukakke,
    readers of the site are kind to Mobius? Stick around…

  15. I have to say that those people launching personal attacks against Mobius are really not fun to read. Either engage the debate or don’t, but spare me the effort of having to sift through your crud.
    I can’t believe that Joe Schmo said ‘a confused person is not an honest person.’ That’s not even remotely logical. Oh, but requesting logic may be a high order on Jewschool.

  16. Mobius,
    There is a vast difference between holding Israel to high standards and holding Jews to be impossible standards that do not allow for Jews to be human beings.
    The most obvious difference between Israel and apartheid is that Israel has a Supreme Court and other institutions whose purpose is to insure equality.

  17. Mobius:
    “First of all, I said that Israel has “undermined its credibility” — not invalidated its right to existence. The two are not the same thing and I reject both Shtreimel’s and your own repeated distortion of that remark.”
    Here’s Mobius’ full quote:
    “As much as I regret to say it, Israel’s own actions in the last 55 years undermine its credibility as a state.”
    My response:
    “So since 1950 i.e. pre 1967…pre “occupation”, you believe that Israel is something other than a state?”
    I’m assuming he’s refering to how Israel handles their security issues. Ok, fine. Than would you please entertain the following scenario:
    If you were a minister in the Knesset in ’48, or ’67, or ’72 and/or had the power to do something about modern terrorism….what would you have done/do?
    I believe Woody Allen said:
    “Those who can’t do teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym”
    So stop teaching gym Mobius. I’m curious how you would have responded to the existential threats that Israel has had to endure.

  18. TM said:
    “Wow, Yusul, no mention of Arab states or Palestinians or wars, or Khartoum in 1967, or anything substantive. Israel did it all on its own. If you want to find non-Zionist space, I heartily recommend Syria.”
    Thank God somebody addressed that post (and I like the part about Syria…nice touch). When I read a post from someone like Yusul it reminds me of the way my adolescent clients discuss their encounters with the police. They talk about the violent arrest, they talk about police brutality and need for a kinder, more gentle world and for the need to allocate more funds towards youth rights. What they usually fail to mention is that they beat the shit out of some innocent guy standing at a bus stop and/or they took a swing at a cop.

  19. Wow! De-banned!
    Yesterday I probably should not have written, “Mobius do you beat your wife because you love her?” However, I still think the metaphor works on a certain (nasty) level, and I think such provocative comments are different than “You’re stupid and fat and are a self-hating Jew” etc. which do not serve to further discussion as such. Needless to say I think my banning was unfair. (It made me very sad.)
    That said, I am glad to see that Mobius has come to the conclusion that ‘apartheid’ references in relation to Israel are harmful and more importantly innaccurate. So wife-beating no more! Yeah! (Even if the bitch still forgets to cook dinner every now and then.)
    And I hope the nigger-alias is no longer an issue. If it is, I would ask why you whities are permitted to party in your “Jesus was a kike shirts” but protest so much to my own appropriation of racist terminology for purposes of humor and empowerment.

  20. Many of those hip-yid t’s are sick. But I say, let ’em where ’em. And watch how they’ll scream anti-Semitism when some dude kicks there teeth in. I believe the SNL saying is: “It’s better to look good than to feel good.”

  21. Frank Rizzo writes “I think Mobius deserves immense credit for his relentless efforts to try to penetrate some sense into these peoples’ thick skulls, but I honestly think his is an exercise in futility. It’s like trying to persaude a Jihadist to accept Jesus into his heart”
    Frank, Jihadists DO accept Jesus into their hearts. Muslims believe he was an important and noble prophet, in a continuum of from Abraham to Mohammad, just not the messiah.

  22. JS- don’t be naive. If you don’t believe I am your savior, then you have not accepted me into your heart. Muslims be damned just as fast as the Jews.

  23. T_M, I didn’t mention Palestinians in my post, because I don’t think it is relevant to the point I was making about the tension between democracy and zionism. That tension is made manifest by the competing claims of another ethnic nationalism, but there do not need to be Palestinians for Zionism to be a poor response to global anti-semitism. Its a poor response because it replicates a system of ethnic/religious privilege, exactly the kind of thing we were escaping from by leaving Europe for Palestine. Only now, we are in power, so it doesn’t feel like a problem. Arab rejection of Jewish nationalism in favor of Arab nationalism was perhaps not the most coherent move, but I do understand it given the time period. Likewise, I understand why Jews were drawn to nationalism as a way to solve their problems in Europe. Understanding why a choice was made does not require one to accept it. In hindsight we see that asserting the primacy of one ethnic group, in the case Jews, over another is not going to lead to peace and acceptance.

  24. Mobius,
    If I’ve sounded condescending its only because of how wrong you are. It always sounds like that when one side is so wrong and cannot answer the other side.
    I can’t say the truth? If I do its called condescending?!
    Yes, I feel that you are very dishonest by continuously repeating yourself like a robot in different forms while ignoring the fundamental issues that are the real cause for your “apartheid” state. You talk about giving rebuke when you would do the same exact thing if you were in power.
    Yes I feel that you are totally wrong and I also feel that you have no answers for what I’ve asked!
    Am I not allowed to think that and voice my opinion? Where did I simply insult you aside for my honest feeling that you ARE DISHONEST- dishonest with yourself…
    T_M and ck and Bukakke King sense that what you are saying smells wrong even if they didn’t clarify the problem in my words.
    Mobius, you are clearly intent on keeping your position no matter what the truth is.
    Originally when I came to this site last week I saw you say that we should have a difference of opinion and that’s why you let your sister on. Then you banned her because you felt she was using too many insults.
    OK I understood that.
    So I figured true that to me what is being said on this site is ridiculous but they seem honest enough to debate the issues so Ill throw my hat into the rink. I was wrong.
    On this site straight direct challenges are first not answered and finally taken as insults.
    I didn’t get one reasonable answer. I came to this site last week and can’t imagine staying beyond this week.
    You guys can sit on this site and preach to your choir of like-minded people.
    I am not confused, thank G-d. I know that Israel must always remain Jewish – for a complete democracy for Non-Jews they can go to America
    – NOT ISRAEL!
    If anybody wants to talk real issues and is honest with themselves can continue this conversation with me at [email protected] This site is just too frusterating.

  25. And as for Confused, it’s always funny when someone makes that basic “well why don’t you DO something” criticism, and yet — and yet — they never seem to be doing anything themselves.
    how do you know what i do or don’t do when nothing in my critique of mobius has anything to do with me? i’m just some jackass who puts up random posts under stupid pseudnym. it’s a standard tactic of those with not much to say when they attack the speaker and not the idea. mobius lets it all hang out here, and in doing so (and by virtue of providing this forum) invites critique. i’m not attacking him personally, i’ve never met the guy so i can’t pass judgement on anything other than his posts.

  26. Yusul,
    I didn’t mention Palestinians in my post, because I don’t think it is relevant to the point I was making about the tension between democracy and zionism. That tension is made manifest by the competing claims of another ethnic nationalism, but there do not need to be Palestinians for Zionism to be a poor response to global anti-semitism.
    But this ignores the facts. You would like Zionism to be a certain way because you’ve made a false assessment that Zionism inevitably leads to “occupation and discriminatory policy.” Zionism led the Yishuv to attempt to build a Jewish homeland on land that was acquired through purchase or through international land grants. Sounds pretty ethical to me. The yishuv didn’t discriminate but instead found itself the subject of violent attacks as far back as 1920 when the Jews represented no more than 10% of the population. From that, many Jews gathered that there was nothing they could do, others determined they needed to establish an infrastructure that resembles that of a state in order to protect themselves, and others determined that the only viable response would be to meet strength with strength. Over time, however, the violence against the Jewish yishuv escalated without any provocation, which is why we have the
    Arab riots of 1926 and 1929.
    Now If I’m you and I’m trying to make sense of movements and removing myself from them, at this point I’m having to think that the Arabs are a discriminatory, land grubbing, violent, and minority-hating people. Right? I mean, they had little problem murdering 69 Jews in Hebron and evicting the community that had lived there for millenia, thereby ethnically cleansing the city of Jews long before Benny Morris and Avi Shlaim were born and dreamt up revisionist history. So if I’m you and I’m drawing conclusiong about groups, I would have to conclude that Arabs are genocidal as well.
    But you, of course, didn’t remove yourself from the circle of Arabs. Rather, you remove yourself from Zionism. But Zionists arrived in the hope of creating a democratic state. They dreamt of buying land, acquiring it through international fiat, working it and developing it, and bringing over sufficient numbers of other Jews that they would outnumber the local inhabitants. Their ideals are spelled out in the Declaration of Independence where they call for equality among all religions and minorities. In fact, the Zionist enterprise pursued these ideals for decades and only, for example, created the Hagana as a defensive measure to protect their own people. The land purchasing continued throughout the decades and was only interrupted by the war the Arabs launched in 1948. Had they not launched it, the Yishuv would have continued buying land. They had even acceded to international demands to give up the original international promise to all of what had been “Ottoman Palestine,” including Jordan and Judea and Samaria (the West Bank for those who prefer that term). In fact, the Jews agreed to a very small percentage of what had been promised them, even though half of that which was now offered them was the arid and unarable Negev. They accepted this division in 1937 and 1947.
    What does that have to do with discrimination and occupation? It sounds as if their intentions were simple and decent: to establish a Jewish majority that could live in peace and control its own national destiny on the part of its historic homeland that it was able to secure with international consensus.
    In other words Yusul, you are wrong about Zionism.
    But your errors don’t stop there. You see, you ascribe to Zionism characteristics that evolved because of the Arabs and Palestinians without acknowledging that these issues exist primarily because of their actions. You say:
    once it began occupying the territories indefinitely it gave up all claim to be a universal democracy. Once I saw the way that the logic of Zionism leads inexorably to occupation and discriminatory policy, I had to absent myself from my zionist upbringing.
    But Israel was founded as it was because it was attacked by Arab armiers. The occupation began because Jordan attacked Israel after being warned not to attack Israel. Now prior to 1967, Jordan was in control of the West Bank and Egypt was in control of Gaza. Did they give the Palestinians freedom or a state? No. In fact, Jordan attempted to annex the West Bank, and then removed any national labels from the parliamentary system it created under its dictatorial monarchy. So are we to conclude the the “logic of being Jordanian leads inexorably to occupation and discriminatory policy?” I guess we are. It’s a good thing you weren’t born Jordanian or you’d be posting on Jordanschool.com about how you had to remove yourself from Jordanian circles and find non-Jordaninian circles.
    I could go on into why Israeli presence in the territories persists thanks to the Arab reluctance to even speak to Israel, much less make a real peace. But really, instead of reading more of my writing, why not save the energy and use it to go back to all those people whom you were badly educating about Zionism and apologize for your confusion. Tell them they should become anti-Jordanian instead of anti-Zionist. If they protest, remind them that Jordan has killed more Palestinians in the month September of 1970 than Israel has killed since 1948 and the only reason they’re not occupying the Palestinians is they lost a war they started.

  27. mobius,
    if i try to distill everything you say, i can’t help but agree with a lot of people on this blog…you surely mean well, but you confuse the shit out of all of us. It seems too forcefully cosmopolitan. Dropping chasidus, taoism, anarchism and zionism into a little pita of with jewish fashion chumus seems pointless when trying to explain a cogent understanding of the jewish world. It fails to do justice to the highly complex and contentious debates within these differing areas and further clouds what you’re trying to say.
    “Further, socialsm and anarchism were philosophies heavily developed by haskalah Jews. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think its a “religiously sanitized”/secularized expressions of radical Jewish thought.”
    That is too easy: When confronting many of the so called “enlightened” jews of Eastern and Central Europe, one should always remember that their politics often coincided with a self-proclaimed rejection of their religious upbringings. For example, Rosa Luxembourg, who is remembered in Berlin to this day, said she felt no more for the Jews of Eastern Europe than for the German laborer. To, in retrospect, say that the secular politics of anarchists with Jewish roots were acting out of a Jewish conviction is not honest, its self-flattery.
    “In this regard, I think that confronting Israeli tanks demolishing homes in the name of Hashem is as misguided as one who blows up things in the name of Allah. It fails to recognize that religious doctrine has a cultural identity.(me)
    I don’t see how you go from A to B with that, and I think its shameful to compare non-violence in the name of defending the weak to violence in the name of vengeance. You basically just said the yatzer tov = the yatzer hora. And I disagree.(you)”
    I didn’t say they were equal, i compared the strength of conviction contained therein – one many confront an israeli tank with all his soul and all of his might in the same way that a shahid works with all his soul and all his might, kavanna rooted in conceptions of G-d’s will; both misguided, both coopting G-d in the fight against what one perceives as bad.
    “In Gershom Scholem’s Toraically-substantiated view, the goal of Zionism was to realize an anarchist utopia that was in accordance with the will of Hashem.”
    Find me Scholem’s writings in praise of “anarchism” and I’ll argue that point. As far as I’ve read, he seems to admire the intentions of the anarchists but certainly doesn’t agree with their methods of service.
    “Though arrived at through a different intellectual process, is that not, at the end of the day, what anarchism seeks to accomplish? The manifestation of a world in which we all adhere to these values? Thus you have a yearning for a better world and a clear definition of what makes a better world. Is this not an inspired and worthy vision of Olam Haba?”
    Again, this seems to be a matter of self-flattery, at the end of the day, I see few if any self-proclaimed anarchists yearning for olam haba, in the language of hasidus. I suspect that because you fancy yourself the only one who proposes such an idea, that its plausible and intellectually fresh – I don’t think so. In the interest of a historical precident, the movements that have sought so ardently to reconcile the secular and religious lives to Jewish peoples’ lives, such as the Reform movement in Germany (the birthplace of the Haskalah) started with brilliant men, like Moses Mendellsohn. He meant well but his children were baptized willingly, in search of a better life.

  28. Zionism led the Yishuv to attempt to build a Jewish homeland on land that was acquired through purchase or through international land grants. Sounds pretty ethical to me. The yishuv didn’t discriminate but instead found itself the subject of violent attacks as far back as 1920 when the Jews represented no more than 10% of the population. From that, many Jews gathered that there was nothing they could do, others determined they needed to establish an infrastructure that resembles that of a state in order to protect themselves, and others determined that the only viable response would be to meet strength with strength. Over time, however, the violence against the Jewish yishuv escalated without any provocation, which is why we have the Arab riots of 1926 and 1929.
    T_M: Your history isn’t so good. You should read Yitzhak Epstein’s classic essay “The Hidden Question,” decrying the immorality of much Zionist land purchasing from as early as 1907. Zionist innocence is a myth. We can argue forever (although I think we’d probably agree, so no point arguing) about the methods the Palestinian Arabs chose to resist the movement against them, but trying to act like Zionism was morally uncompromised before 1948 won’t cut it. What was initiated before 1948 was a steady process of displacement of the Arabs, who were either ignored, dismissed as a nonentity with whom there was “no necessary conflict” (a la Ben-Gurion), or seen as obstacles against whom the Yishuv had to arm itself (a la Jabotinsky). Your simple, seemingly ethical goal of establishing a Jewish majority is precisely where the moral compromise lies. The Palestinian Arabs who, even in 1947, would have had to be removed from the area declared to be the Jewish state did not understand why they should accede to domination by foreign immigrants. You can, as Ben-Gurion did, argue that the world should ask “where is the greater evil, where is the greater harm,” but to pretend the whole enterprise is completely innocent is misleading.

  29. Hey Sam:
    …the immorality of much Zionist land purchasing from as early as 1907…. We can argue forever about the methods the Palestinian Arabs chose to resist the movement against them
    ———————————————————–
    – in 1907 the Arabs of Israel didn’t know they were “Palestinians”. And there weren’t any “Jordanians” either.
    In 1937 – during the British hearings on how to partition “Palestine” – a word the Brits dredged up from history, which the Arabs originally avoided using – the mufti of Haifa insisted that the locals were Iraqis.
    Stands to reason, since the territory of Eretz Yisrael was bisected (and for a while trisected) during the 800 years of Ottoman rule – half of it administered out of Damascus or Antioch, and half of it administered by the caliphate of what is now Egypt.
    The morality of the existing Arab society – subsistence serfdom under absentee landlords – never gets discussed.
    You have to stick your elbows out if you want to make a place for yourself in the world. The Israelis have minimized the brutality of this process at every turn. They got the pieces of paper. There were no wholesale massacres. Were people encouraged in various ways to relocate – yes. Many of the people “displaced” by Israeli aggression were recent immigrants drawn from impoverished neighboring lands by the dynamic Jewish settler movement (oooh, he used the word “settler” for pre-67 Israel). So?
    It is now more than a century since the start of the Yishuv. The fact that we still have no set Eastern border is not exclusively the Israelis fault by any means. So the jockeying to see who will displace who continues. The Laborites who build Ariel and Gush Katif knew what they were doing. I think they sincerely hoped that the continued settlement would induce the Arabs to finally make peace – and the practical nature of those early Israelis who grew up in Israel certainly included a though along the lines of “and if not – we’ll continue to make a place for ourselves, hill by hill.”
    There is no novel idea in your post – the only modern addition is the new-found shame and horror of self-effacing Jews, who can’t stomach this story – not because it is so awful or brutal, not because is diverges so terribly from geopolitical realpolitic – but because these wimpy Jews are conflicted about the Jewish people’s very existence.
    I live in the West Bank. I can point out to you the houses built in a neighboring Arab village by wealthy merchants who moved west from Nablus – after being shook down by Arafat’s thugs, they’re hoping to get annexed by Israel.
    The jostling for position continues. So? Either you believe that the Jews have a right to a place of their own – and are clear-eyed enough to know that that requires force as well as fancy pieces of paper. Or you don’t feel the Jews are a legitimate people ANYWHERE – either because you’re a gentile antisemite or a conflicted Jew – in which case NOTHING Israel does will ever be moral enough.

  30. Sam, my history is very good. Really. You’ll note that while the Zionist enterprise was growing, the Arab population of the part of Ottoman Palestine that wasn’t made into Jordan DOUBLED. So “displacement” is not the correct term here. In fact, considering that only 8% of the land was bought by the Jews by 1948, the term “displacement” is completely false. Also, the Arabs were not ignored at all, otherwise the Yishuv wouldn’t have accepted compromise solutions in 1937 and 1947.
    It is moral to seek self-determination. It is moral to seek it in a historic homeland to which the people, their faith and their culture have been tied for millenia.
    It is moral to seek to acquire that land to which they are connected by purchasing it and with the support of the international community.
    It is moral to seek to create this self-determination not by physical aggression, but rather by using the ballot box.
    It really is that simple. What isn’t simple is trying to sort out where we are now. But Zionism was a very ethical movement in every respect.
    If Texas was a territory and not a state, and I decided to create MiddleLand by buying up land in Texas, and was able to bring in sufficient numbers of Mexicans into Texas over time with the intention that they grow into a clear majority over non-Mexican Texans, and I did this under the watchful eyes of the international community and as peacefully as possible despite constant attacks from American Texans, you would consider that unethical? Remember that the Arabs could have done the exact same thing as the Jews. Instead, they chose a very different route (one with which they persist to this day) and achieved nothing but loss and devastation that they then blame on the Jews and/or Israelis. Perhaps you should be seeking the unethical behavior elsewhere. There could have been two states, side by side, for almost 7 decades now. Who is immoral here?

  31. The Palestinian Arabs who, even in 1947, would have had to be removed from the area declared to be the Jewish state did not understand why they should accede to domination by foreign immigrants.
    Well, gee Sam, I mean why didn’t anyone use that argument when the Ottomans *dominated* the Palestinian Arabs for hundreds of years? Or when the Jordanians and Egyptians *dominated* the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza and West Bank from 49-67?
    You seem to selectively apply the term *foreign immigrants.* Why is that?

  32. – in 1907 the Arabs of Israel didn’t know they were “Palestinians”. And there weren’t any “Jordanians” either.
    Oh, so it’s fine to kick peasants off their land by purchasing from absentee landowners. As long as they don’t have a national identity, they won’t get mad at you. What the hell kind of thinking is this?
    Stands to reason, since the territory of Eretz Yisrael was bisected (and for a while trisected) during the 800 years of Ottoman rule – half of it administered out of Damascus or Antioch, and half of it administered by the caliphate of what is now Egypt.
    The morality of the existing Arab society – subsistence serfdom under absentee landlords – never gets discussed.

    Mostly because there’s no point discussing Middle Eastern history with people who only learn as much of it as they need to substantiate their Zionist worldview. Have you got any clue what the Tanzimat was, or what the direction of Ottoman society was from the mid-19th century on? Do you have any clue what kind of changes were affecting the Arabs even before the first Zionist set foot in Palestine? Or do you think their society was just exactly the same as it had always been, frozen in time, until the Europeans came to bring progress and economic prosperity? Cuz you’d be wrong.
    You have to stick your elbows out if you want to make a place for yourself in the world. The Israelis have minimized the brutality of this process at every turn. They got the pieces of paper. There were no wholesale massacres. Were people encouraged in various ways to relocate – yes. Many of the people “displaced” by Israeli aggression were recent immigrants drawn from impoverished neighboring lands by the dynamic Jewish settler movement (oooh, he used the word “settler” for pre-67 Israel). So?
    I accept neither your Hobbesian worldview, in which we’re all struggling for what we can get in some kind of brutal state of nature, nor your factual claims (“there were no wholesale masacres?” are you some kind of Deir Yassin revisionist? And there were plenty more besides that). If you’re trying to use the Joan Peters argument you should recognize that it’s been completely discredited. The vast majority of the Arabs displaced in ’48 were children of the land whose families had lived there for many generations.
    Ben-David, there is no new idea in your post except the same old Revisionist/Likudnik self-delusion and macho posturing. Either you believe that the Jews have a collective commandment to obey God as we accept we have on an individual level, or you are an individualist secularist (which you very well might be), or you are just one more of those nationally-assimilated Jews who wants us to have a nation just like those wasted states of Europe which couldn’t stop warring for five hundred years.
    Sam, my history is very good. Really. You’ll note that while the Zionist enterprise was growing, the Arab population of the part of Ottoman Palestine that wasn’t made into Jordan DOUBLED. So “displacement” is not the correct term here. In fact, considering that only 8% of the land was bought by the Jews by 1948, the term “displacement” is completely false. Also, the Arabs were not ignored at all, otherwise the Yishuv wouldn’t have accepted compromise solutions in 1937 and 1947.
    Mmm, general claims! Have you checked the Arab population growth in that time throughout the rest of the ME, by any chance? I think you’ll find that the ME’s entry into the global economic system, coincident with the arrival of Zionism but largely unconnected with it, also led to population growth on a huge scale in Egypt (colonized by the British, so to this day Brit apologists argue that colonization was good for Egypt) and elsewhere.
    Also, T_M, you’re ignoring the point of my points. “Displacement” is appropriate because the purpose of the land purchases was to get as much land with as few Arabs on it as possible. Even after any partition plan was achieved, Arabs who lived on land that had not yet been purchased by Zionists would have had to be “transferred” to the new Arab state. And when I say the Labor movement ignored the Arabs, I meant that it ignored them as a group with any rights that had to be considered — they were always aware of the Arabs as an obstacle to their own project. Jabotinsky’s movement was aware of the Arabs both as a group with its own ambitions for national independence *and* as an obstacle to Zionist goals. Part of the reason the Revisionists broke away from Labor was that Labor kept chattering on about there being no necessary conflict with the Arabs once they realized the great benefits of Zionism. The problem with the Revisionists were that they had no moral sense of the Arab claim as competing with the Jewish one. Which, as we can see, is a blind spot that lingers to this day.
    As for your Texas example, yes, that would be unethical if the Texans had their own movement for independence, and you basically attempted to circumvent it and make sure it never achieved anything with your sponsorship of Mexican immigration. Assuming again that there is some imperial power which is administering Texas at this time, and that you have special access to the leaders of that power, which the American Texans do not.
    To Sausage: It wasn’t until after the 1908 Young Turk rebellion and the ending of the sultanate that Arabs began a movement to think of themselves as needing autonomy from the Ottoman Empire. Traditionally, the OE lands included Arabs, Berbers, Turks, Turkmen, Armenians, Jews, and other ethnicities. Nationalism didn’t exist *anywhere* until the nineteenth century, and didn’t exist in the Middle East until the twentieth. Why is that so hard to understand?

  33. Sam, I fear that your points don’t really address what I wrote. Arab populations may have grown elsewhere, which simply proves that Zionism had no displacing impact. This also nullifies the point regarding the land purchasing since one does need a place to live and land which one can work to grow food. They BOUGHT the land, but for you that’s insufficient. You would have had them not buy land and not seek to develop their right to self-determination. I’m afraid we are not going to get past this little disagreement about morality. As for “Labor” always seeing the Arabs as an obstacle, that is untrue. The idea began to resonate and take shape after the Arabs attacked persistently from 1920 on. Did you expect the Yishuv to simply accept that every once in a while they would get attacked or slaughtered? The point of Zionism was to reject that behavior which resembled that of many European Jews. Also, I’d like to have sympathy for your complaint about Revisionists stating the Arab claim did not compete with the Jewish one, but I fear that is incorrect if you look at Jabotinsky. Also, what do you expect to happen when a movement such as Zionism realizes that the Arabs don’t recognize the Jewish claim to any part of the land?
    With regard to the Texas example, we’ve already discussed that the Arabs had virtually no movement for independence. In our last debate, I seem to recall posting a comment by one of the Jewish historians you favored discussing how the Palestinians didn’t discover their nationalism until well after Israel was created. I don’t recall the post and the discussion but I recommend you look it up since we’ve covered this territory already. It is also false to claim the Arabs had no access to the imperial power. They had such access that the British kept writing White Papers and changing their attitude about the land. This is why they recommended partition in 1937 and then published another harmful (to the Yishuv and to Jews) White Paper in 1939. Your attempt to suggest that somebody was trying to “circumvent their [Texans/Arabs] own movement for independence” is also off the mark. Nobody in the Yishuv was trying to do that. In fact, on two occasions they accepted division of the land into two states. So really, none of your argument holds up.

  34. No, I would have had them make sure that each land purchase they did was not going to displace anyone and was not being done simply because it was more convenient to buy a huge swath of land from an absentee landlord than to buy land from local landlords and let the fellaheen keep working it. Arab population growth has nothing to do with my point, whatsoever. Mainstream Zionism *always* knew that the Arabs were in Palestine, contrary to what many have claimed. How they responded to that fact is what separated different Zionist sub-movements from each other. All too often, the Weizmann/Ben-Gurion sect publicly pronounced a lack of conflict, while internally debating how to deal with the Arabs as an obstacle.
    Your claims about Arab “access” being the reason for White Papers is, frankly, laughable. There were plenty of Zionists in the British colonial administration both locally in Palestine and back at Whitehall, while there were no Arab nationalists whatsoever. Weizmann met with Balfour and even with Churchill almost whenever he wanted; no Arab leader had comparable access. The White Paper of 1939 was a response to the British military exhaustion and need to redirect troops to WWII after three years of bloody Palestinian revolt, not “access.” Similarly, the establishment of the Peel Commission in 1937 ended a Palestinian general strike — would you not characterize this as a “movement” by the Palestinians?
    The historian you were referring to was Yehoshua Porath, and the quote you took out of his article debunking Joan Peters clearly didn’t mean, as you said, “the Arab had virtually no movement for independence.” After all, Porath managed to write a book called The Emergence of the Palestinian National Movement, 1919-1929 , and then a few years later he managed to write another one called The Palestinian National Movement, 1929-1939 . Gosh, I wonder what those books are about? Think maybe they’re hundreds of pages about nothing? (To tone down the snark a bit, you really should check out those books. Your local library should have them and Porath is not so very far from your own political views. He just has better history than you.)
    Furthermore, your characterization of the Zionist response to the partition proposal of the Peel Commission is simply wrong. Ben-Gurion wrote a letter to his son Amos at the time, saying that “A Jewish state in part of Palestine is not an end, but a beginning. . . . our possession is important not only for itself. . . . through this we increase our power, and every increase in power facilitates getting hold of the country in its entirety. Establishing a [small] state will serve as a very potent lever in our historical efforts to redeem the whole country.” And that was just the elite opinion of Ben-Gurion and Weizmann — most of the Yishuv was offended by the small size of the 1937 offer and rejected the proposal. AND — you ignored my point about transfer; even in the tiny Peel Commission-proposed Jewish state, 225,000 Arabs would have needed to be transferred out. The vote for Peel at the Twentieth Zionist Congress was 299 to 160, with many votes coming in only because of the transfer proviso. So really, none of your argument holds up.

  35. To Sausage: It wasn’t until after the 1908 Young Turk rebellion and the ending of the sultanate that Arabs began a movement to think of themselves as needing autonomy from the Ottoman Empire. Traditionally, the OE lands included Arabs, Berbers, Turks, Turkmen, Armenians, Jews, and other ethnicities. Nationalism didn’t exist *anywhere* until the nineteenth century, and didn’t exist in the Middle East until the twentieth. Why is that so hard to understand?
    So domination and oppression are merely by-products of nationalism only understandable through the construct of nationalism? Huh? Dude, pass the bong and explain why the palestinian arabs (and the rest of the world, and apparently you too) are fine with foreign domination when those foreigners are egyptians or jordanians.
    Your assertion that the, “Your simple, seemingly ethical goal of establishing a Jewish majority is precisely where the moral compromise lies” belies a rather selective and narcissistic interpretation of facts to form your conclusions with. I’m not sure what the difference is between those who deny Palestinian just claims and those who deny Jewish just claims.
    But then hurling snarky brickbats and masturbatory recitations of facts and figures is so fun! Yippee, i bet you might even be a grad student!
    Free Palestine.

  36. you don’t love Israel, you love yourself and your values. You don’t care what G-d says, you only care what He says if it promotes your values, otherwise you would keep shabbos – instead, you pick and choose to further concretize the bullshit you believe.
    Every Jew is a Palestinian. Free the Jews from the people born Jewish that wish they weren’t.

  37. So domination and oppression are merely by-products of nationalism only understandable through the construct of nationalism? Huh?
    That’s exactly what I thought when reading your post. What the hell are you talking about?
    My point was that until the “Turkification” policies of the Ottoman Young Turks in the early twentieth century, most Arabs in the Levant and the Maghreb who lived under the Ottomans identified with the empire as the rightful successor to the caliphate. They didn’t feel that they were under “foreign domination,” as you put it, until the French and British started invading all their countries. Eventually the development of national consciousness led to restrictions against Arabs and Arab movements, which spurred an Arabist counter-reaction. Keep the bong and pay a little attention.
    I’m not sure what the difference is between those who deny Palestinian just claims and those who deny Jewish just claims.
    Me neither. Find me one of each and let’s see if we can figure it out.

  38. My point was that until the “Turkification” policies of the Ottoman Young Turks in the early twentieth century, most Arabs in the Levant and the Maghreb who lived under the Ottomans identified with the empire as the rightful successor to the caliphate. They didn’t feel that they were under “foreign domination,” as you put it, until the French and British started invading all their countries. Eventually the development of national consciousness led to restrictions against Arabs and Arab movements, which spurred an Arabist counter-reaction. Keep the bong and pay a little attention.
    that’s some good sh*t man, must be from Humbnoldt. Ok, so trying to pay attention while toking some kind Norcal green, let’s see if can get what you are saying.
    1. Being beat down by someone you love is ok, because, well, you love them. Note that Sam’s argument focuses on who is doing the oppression and domination (foreign immigrants to quote you Sam) rather than the acts themselves. So when the Turks occupied Palestine, it was ok, and when the Egyptians and Jordanians occupied Palestine from 1949-1967 that was ok too.
    2. You refer to “all their countries” that the British and French started invading, but which countries exactly do you refer to that the British and French invaded? Funny, ’cause I thought the British and French were the ones who indeed created “all their countries” in the first place. Damn, i got the munchies, pass the doritos Sam.
    3. Oh sh*t, I was gonna say something else but I forget. Here’s the bong back, thanks.

  39. No, I would have had them make sure that each land purchase they did was not going to displace anyone and was not being done simply because it was more convenient to buy a huge swath of land from an absentee landlord than to buy land from local landlords and let the fellaheen keep working it.
    So when you purchase a farm in California, then you don’t buy it if Mexican laborers work in it? I’m sorry, but you are not being truthful. When anybody buys land, they buy it for their own purposes and it is theirs to do with whatever they like. I mean, there are environmental groups out there that are buying huge tracts of land with the intent of preventing future construction on them, and there are huge developers buying land to build suburbs, and there are religious groups buying land for retreats, members and sexual liaisons (David Koresh, anybody?) and there are farmers buying farms to work them as they would like (even if it means changing crops and firing laborers), and there are homeowners buying homes to move into or to rent to tenants who pay the best rent.
    You have somehow, in your ardent attack on Zionism, become one of a rare breed of humans who believes that if land you desire is for sale then one shouldn’t buy it if it retroactively doesn’t agree with one’s desire for a certain political outcome. Give me a break. Oh, and plenty of local families sold land to Jews, they just did it quietly or through foreign branches of the family. Even that point you make is completely off the mark.
    Arab population growth has nothing to do with my point, whatsoever.
    Sure it does. It’s like when people talk about supposed Israeli genocide against the Palestinians even though the Palestinian population in the territories has trebled. You talked about displacement and I pointed out that they were hardly displaced since their population doubled.
    Mainstream Zionism *always* knew that the Arabs were in Palestine, contrary to what many have claimed.
    “Many” have claimed nothing. The whole “land without a people for a people without a land” blurb has been blown up way out of proportion. It was part of a promotional program not unlike, say, an advertising campaign some aliyah organization might think up. The fact is that 70% of the land was not lived on at the turn of the century. The fact is that when you look at Jerusalem today, it is absolutely different than what Jerusalem was in 1850 when it was simply the enclosed Old City (majority Jewish population, by the way). Plenty of mainstream Jews acknowledged the presence of the local Arabs and you can see it in their writing, their politics, their visual art, and their communal behavior (slapping together communities overnight; developing defense groups like the Hagana, etc.).
    How they responded to that fact is what separated different Zionist sub-movements from each other. All too often, the Weizmann/Ben-Gurion sect publicly pronounced a lack of conflict, while internally debating how to deal with the Arabs as an obstacle.
    Oh, so you do acknowledge that they paid attention to the Arabs. And they absolutely did become an obstacle, politically and through violence. How many times do I need to mention the little pogroms of 1920?

    Your claims about Arab “access” being the reason for White Papers is, frankly, laughable. There were plenty of Zionists in the British colonial administration both locally in Palestine and back at Whitehall, while there were no Arab nationalists whatsoever. Weizmann met with Balfour and even with Churchill almost whenever he wanted; no Arab leader had comparable access.

    You must be joking. Are you completely unaware that the British in Mandatory Palestine – military officers, leaders and politicians – continually sent back to London messages demanding that England must not give the Jews much of anything? Do you think this happened in a vacuum? Of course they had access. What they didn’t have was the ability to sway the mind of a Christian Zionist Prime Minister of England – Lloyd George – who fervently believed that the Land of Israel was for the Jews and they must be returned to it.
    While Weitzman had plenty of access, it was actually the good fortune of the Jews that they had a sympathetic faithful Christian Zionist leading the British against the advice he was getting from his officers on the scene. Now, for me, do me the favor of looking up names like Emir Feisal [Faisal], Hussein ibn Ali (Sheriff of Mecca consulted by British in 1915) or Said Shukeir and Suleiman Bey Nasif. Of course the Arabs had access! They were made a ton of promises by the British and the French.
    Did I mention Lawrence of Arabia’s homosexuality, by the way? Now there’s access.
    The White Paper of 1939 was a response to the British military exhaustion and need to redirect troops to WWII after three years of bloody Palestinian revolt, not “access.” Similarly, the establishment of the Peel Commission in 1937 ended a Palestinian general strike — would you not characterize this as a “movement” by the Palestinians?
    A strike is not a nationalist movement. Get over it, man, your own Professor Porath completely undermines everything you say about Palestinian nationalism.
    As for the “revolt,” allow me to remind you that we have just seen a 4 year long “revolt” even as Arafat and his cronies had access to any world leader or media outlet they wanted to reach. The revolt is not indicative of anything except a desire to use force to create a favorable political or diplomatic outcome.
    The historian you were referring to was Yehoshua Porath, and the quote you took out of his article debunking Joan Peters clearly didn’t mean, as you said, “the Arab had virtually no movement for independence.” After all, Porath managed to write a book called The Emergence of the Palestinian National Movement, 1919-1929 , and then a few years later he managed to write another one called The Palestinian National Movement, 1929-1939 . Gosh, I wonder what those books are about? Think maybe they’re hundreds of pages about nothing? (To tone down the snark a bit, you really should check out those books. Your local library should have them and Porath is not so very far from your own political views. He just has better history than you.)
    Do me a favor and only be snarky when your point is so obvious and clear that I can do nothing but weep from the shame of being so obviously mistaken. However, in this case, snarkiness is not warranted. Here is what Porath said:
    “Until the mid-1960s the Arab claims were usually presented as part of the ideology of Arab nationalism. Palestine was (and ideologically speaking still is) considered part of the greater Arab homeland and the Palestinians part of the greater Arab nation. The aim of the Arab struggle was to preserve the Arab character of Palestine from the Jewish-Zionist threat. The Palestinian case was at best secondary when it was made at all. Only since the middle of the 1960s and particularly after 1967 has the distinctively Palestinian component become relatively stronger among the factors that shape the identity of the Palestinian Arabs.”
    Read it and weep, Sam. Here’s the link again and you are welcome to try to prove that this is somehow out of context or dealing with a different matter or somehow meaningless because it was written in a book review instead of a book to which I cannot link. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5249

    Furthermore, your characterization of the Zionist response to the partition proposal of the Peel Commission is simply wrong. Ben-Gurion wrote a letter to his son Amos at the time, saying that “A Jewish state in part of Palestine is not an end, but a beginning. . . . our possession is important not only for itself. . . . through this we increase our power, and every increase in power facilitates getting hold of the country in its entirety. Establishing a [small] state will serve as a very potent lever in our historical efforts to redeem the whole country.” And that was just the elite opinion of Ben-Gurion and Weizmann — most of the Yishuv was offended by the small size of the 1937 offer and rejected the proposal. AND — you ignored my point about transfer; even in the tiny Peel Commission-proposed Jewish state, 225,000 Arabs would have needed to be transferred out. The vote for Peel at the Twentieth Zionist Congress was 299 to 160, with many votes coming in only because of the transfer proviso. So really, none of your argument holds up.

    My characterization holds up pretty well despite all your cut and paste nitpicking. Yes, there was opposition in the Jewish community. Yes, there were votes against it. So what? The leaders of the Yishuv mulled it over and despite grave misgivings ACCEPTED the two state proposal. Period. They accepted and the Arabs did not.
    As for your mention of “transfer,” it was supposed to be a two way transfer. Some Arab land is given up and some Arabs have to move; and some Jewish land is given up and Jews have to move. It would have been painful but an excellent overall solution that would have given us a two state solution almost 7 decades ago. The Jews accepted and the Arabs rejected. Same as in 1947. Same as in 2000. Same as always.
    Your point about Ben Gurion dreaming that one day he would be able to create a larger state is meaningless. He also wanted the Negev to bloom and that didn’t happen, did it? He accepted a two state solution as the head of the Yishuv and no matter how much you scream and shout or cut and paste, you ultimately cannot ignore the basic fact that the Arabs rejected what the Jews accepted – a compromise solution. So really, none of your argument holds up.

  40. Boy this has gone on a long time.
    Look, T_M, I’m interested in continuing this with you, but there’s a limit on how many super-long posts that I can put research and time into. I’ll do my best here but with the understanding that I’m trying to write a thesis right now.
    So when you purchase a farm in California, then you don’t buy it if Mexican laborers work in it? I’m sorry, but you are not being truthful. When anybody buys land, they buy it for their own purposes and it is theirs to do with whatever they like.
    You have correctly summarized the modern Western idea of property deeds in land, but I hasten to point out that this notion was foreign to the Middle East until the Ottoman Land Law of 1858, and that the fellaheen didn’t become aware of it after that until the Zionists came and started kicking them off the land they thought was theirs so Jews could work on it. Prior to that, fellaheen exercised what they considered a right of general communal usufruct, and continued living and working on the same land regardless of whether its “owners” changed hands frequently or infrequently. Whether the Sursuq family of Beirut (which singlehandedly sold huge chunks of land in the Jezreel valley and elsewhere to the Zionists) or the Ottoman state held the land didn’t make any difference to the fellaheen until the Zionists became the owners and told them they couldn’t live and work on the land anymore. The Ottomans didn’t exactly send around officers explaining the new property laws to everyone, giving them a chance to buy it themselves.
    Sure it does. It’s like when people talk about supposed Israeli genocide against the Palestinians even though the Palestinian population in the territories has trebled. You talked about displacement and I pointed out that they were hardly displaced since their population doubled.
    Individual displacement caused negative reactions which spread into a fear of general political displacement, i.e. becoming a minority in a land ruled by foreigners. The fact that populations were increasing is irrelevant to the larger political processes at work.
    Oh, so you do acknowledge that they paid attention to the Arabs. And they absolutely did become an obstacle, politically and through violence. How many times do I need to mention the little pogroms of 1920?
    Yeah. You wasted a lot of breath there with your arguments against your straw man. My point was that the movement always acknowledged the Arabs, but that different factions treated the native population with different levels of consideration. Also — calling the 1920 riots “pogroms” is misleading and inaccurate. The reason the pogroms are such horrific and unique parts of Jewish history is that the governments in the Pale and wherever else they were happening often triggered, directed, and otherwise encouraged them. The British may have been less than competent in 1920, but they worked to put down the violence and arrested those responsible.
    You must be joking. Are you completely unaware that the British in Mandatory Palestine – military officers, leaders and politicians – continually sent back to London messages demanding that England must not give the Jews much of anything? Do you think this happened in a vacuum?
    No, it happened in a context of effete upper-class antisemitism, which as we have seen in many instances can co-exist with Zionism quite well. Especially if the person professing the two ideas is a white European. Your instances are so vague, though, that there’s not much here for me to respond to. If you’re trying to argue that in general, the Arabs had more access to and influence over British Mandatory policy than the Zionist movement — well, you should really just do more reading on the subject.
    Now, for me, do me the favor of looking up names like Emir Feisal [Faisal], Hussein ibn Ali (Sheriff of Mecca consulted by British in 1915) or Said Shukeir and Suleiman Bey Nasif. Of course the Arabs had access! They were made a ton of promises by the British and the French.
    Oh right, Emir Faisal. That guy the British promised could rule over all of Syria and Lebanon and Transjordan, but left Palestine vague, and then sold out to the French? Super access! What incredible influence! He really pulled the levers of Western imperialism, that Faisal! The fact that the British used the Meccan Arabs to oust the Ottomans doesn’t mean they later gave the Palestinian Arabs a heavy say in Mandate policy. Could you possibly conflate more different people from different circumstances?
    As for the “revolt,” allow me to remind you that we have just seen a 4 year long “revolt” even as Arafat and his cronies had access to any world leader or media outlet they wanted to reach. The revolt is not indicative of anything except a desire to use force to create a favorable political or diplomatic outcome.
    Right, like, say… uh… Palestinian independence. Which they didn’t want, though, because they didn’t have a movement for it. What?
    Look, the reason I generously provided you with the citation you were grasping for on Porath was because I knew what he said there and expressly did not need you to find it and quote it again. The fact that you are relying on this one paragraph for your argument while making it clear in many instances that you are confused about other aspects of Mandate history is not going to sway me. Arab nationalist language is what theorists of social contention call a “frame.” The fact that claims were often –but not always — framed in that language indicates that its framers thought it would be effective in gaining them support. The simple fact is that after the British sold out Faisal in Syria, cutting off Palestine from Syria, the Palestinian movement for independence was no longer intrinsically connected to other Arab movements. This would change again in the 60’s.
    Lastly, if you want to characterize a clever political ploy that proves nothing more than that the Zionists had better PR than the Arabs as acceptance of a two-state solution in 1937, go ahead. Everyone knew nothing would come of Peel, its acceptance was meaningless because it carried no possibility of being realized. It is therefore extremely disingenuous for propagandists like you to continue pretending that the Zionists only wanted two states and that the Arabs kept rejecting it. It is ahistorical and misleading.

  41. No Sam, I find it incredible that you actually think that of the two of us, I’m the confused party about the history of Mandatory Israel. I mean, it was beautiful to see you gloss over the Christian Zionist prime minister, and to ignorantly ascribe the motivation of those British soldiers and diplomats living in Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine to “upper class antisemitism.” That may have been a component, but there were other significant factors including their professional fear of the Arab response and their increduility that there would be ever be sufficient numbers of Jews living there to do anything other than anger the local Arabs.
    It’s incredible that you dismiss the leadership of the Arabs in the region who had plenty of access to the British on the basis that they didn’t take “Palestine” into strong enough consideration without realizing that you are, in fact, making my case for me. Why do you think Lebanon, TransJordan, Syria, Iraq and Saudi were relevant but “Palestine” wasn’t? Of course the reason is that there was no such thing as Palestine in the view of virtually all Arabs, including the locals of “Palestine.” It was simply a territory of South Syria. Same reason Hussein ibn Ali didn’t give a hoot. They were the leadership of the Arabs and they didn’t see what you claim was there for the same reason that Porath doesn’t see it: it wasn’t an issue at the time. The strongest proponents for the local Arabs were the British who were there because they assessed that problems would ensue. On the other hand, even those British did not really consider a local Arab entity a possibility until 15-20 years later.
    Let’s proceed with my “confusion” about Mandatory Palestine. You say that 1920 was not a pogrom because it wasn’t state sponsored. Oops! First of all, it was led by Haj Amin Al Hussaini who was without a doubt considered the most important local leader to the Arabs. Second, he received valuable counsel about instituting these pogroms from…the British:
    According to Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, Chief Political Officer for Palestine and Syria, Col. Waters-Taylor – a senior Mandatory official in 1919-23 – met with Haj Amin el Husseini a few days before Easter, in 1920, and told him “he had a great opportunity at Easter to show the world… that Zionism was unpopular not only with the Palestine Administration but in Whitehall and if disturbances of sufficient violence occurred in Jerusalem at Easter, both General Bols [Chief Administrator in Palestine, 1919-20] and General Allenby [Commander of Egyptian Forces, 1917-19, then High Commissioner of Egypt] would advocate the abandonment of the Jewish Home. Waters-Taylor explained that freedom could only be attained through violence.” Meinertzhagen, Richard, Middle East Diary 1917-1956, (London: The Cresset Press, 1959), pp. 49, 82, 97
    Oy, another Sam claim flames out. But I’m the confused one.
    What else? Oh yeah, you claim that 50 and 60 years after a law was instituted, the felaheen weren’t aware of it and therefore the “Western” view of real estate ownership is a source of friction and was (and remains) unfair to these laborers. In fact, your only reponse to what you initially said was immoral and what you claimed was not a valid analogy, is that my comments represent a “Western view” and don’t account for these people’s traditions. So what? Traditions change. Wars change things. Rulers change things. Your claim that the locals didn’t know about the law is simply silly. It was an Ottoman law and plenty of local Arab families took full advantage, including the Al-Hussainis and the Nashashibis. Jews played by the rules of the Ottoman Empire and then of the British Mandate. Even if you were right, by the time the Jews bought a couple of plots, the Arabs would have become aware of this new law. So your point falls flat in every respect!
    Your argument is especially problematic when I try to see it in a larger context. I mean, what are you arguing here, that people throughout history take other people’s land with violence but the Jews sought to buy it and were immoral because they didn’t bother to send lawyers to the local Arab laborers to explain what was happening? Give me a break, their actions and desire to acquire land, especially at exorbitant sums, display a very moral and legal stance by Zionists. It also proves their intentions were benign.
    Then you talk about individual displacement. you bring this up because none of your arguments about general displacement hold up. Yes, I agree with you that there were local Arabs who were mighty pissed off that their jobs were lost or they had to move elsewhere for work. Fortunately for them, the Jews only controlled a very small percentage of the land, which by 1948 became 20% of the arable land. So 80% remained by 1948 but the pogroms started in 1920 when Jews controlled far less land. In other words, their outsized violent reaction and later refusal to accept compromise couldn’t have been the result of “displacement.” You lose a job, you get another. You lose your place of work, you find another. The farm you were working is untenable, you find another. You see others buying land, you gather benefactors or pool resources with others and buy land. If you don’t, don’t complain about those who do. It’s just like starting a war and losing land and then claiming that the other side stole it.
    Finally, your claim of clever PR in 1937 is absolutely false and I did not characterize it as a clever ploy. I wrote “The leaders of the Yishuv mulled it over and despite grave misgivings ACCEPTED the two state proposal.” That is perfectly clear, isn’t it? I said nothing about PR. Want a modern day example? Remember the Likud conducting a referendum and Sharon sitting at a podium after his side lost and saying that he will act according to his wishes and ignore the referendum results? He has, since then, been bulldozing through this unilateral disengagement. How is that different than Ben Gurion in 1937? The 1937 leadership evaluated their options and decided to accept the partition precisely for the reason you gave by quoting Ben Gurion’s letter, they hoped that over time they could end up with more. In the meantime, however, they were willing to take a smaller parcel so that they could have a state and they didn’t mind if the Arabs got one as well. No PR, no bullshit. Simple pragmatism with a clear understanding of the circumstances. The Arabs didn’t follow suit, not for moral reasons, not for pragmatic reasons and not even for PR reasons.
    So again, Jews agreed to, or offered compromise in 1937, 1947 and 2000. The Arabs rejected all three times. You can call me a “propagandist” all you want for saying that, because you have such a skewed view of that history that you think a pogrom is, well, a little itty bitty “riot.” Guess what, dude, it’s you who has swallowed the propaganda, and continues to read the history with a distorted slant.

  42. PS “Until the mid-1960s the Arab claims were usually presented as part of the ideology of Arab nationalism. Palestine was (and ideologically speaking still is) considered part of the greater Arab homeland and the Palestinians part of the greater Arab nation. The aim of the Arab struggle was to preserve the Arab character of Palestine from the Jewish-Zionist threat. The Palestinian case was at best secondary when it was made at all. Only since the middle of the 1960s and particularly after 1967 has the distinctively Palestinian component become relatively stronger among the factors that shape the identity of the Palestinian Arabs.”
    Sorry it’s only from a book review. 😀 http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5249

  43. I mean, it was beautiful to see you gloss over the Christian Zionist prime minister, and to ignorantly ascribe the motivation of those British soldiers and diplomats living in Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine to “upper class antisemitism.” That may have been a component, but there were other significant factors including their professional fear of the Arab response and their increduility that there would be ever be sufficient numbers of Jews living there to do anything other than anger the local Arabs.
    So, the fact that there was a Christian Zionist Prime Minister and a Jewish Zionist High Commissioner is supposed to support… your argument that Arabs had more access to British power than Zionists? And the fact that British officials seriously doubted the Zionist movement’s power to bring enough immigrants, yet at the same time protected and sheltered it in an attempt to fulfill its Balfour Declaration promise… is also supposed to support this claim of yours?
    It’s incredible that you dismiss the leadership of the Arabs in the region who had plenty of access to the British on the basis that they didn’t take “Palestine” into strong enough consideration without realizing that you are, in fact, making my case for me. Why do you think Lebanon, TransJordan, Syria, Iraq and Saudi were relevant but “Palestine” wasn’t? Of course the reason is that there was no such thing as Palestine in the view of virtually all Arabs, including the locals of “Palestine.” It was simply a territory of South Syria.
    No. The reason Palestine wasn’t taken into consideration was that while in the rest of the Middle East the British had only made two conflicting promises (to the French and to the Meccan Arabs), in the case of Palestine they had made three. The British left the question of whether Palestine would be included in Faisal’s united Arab state vague precisely because they were trying to keep open the possibility of fulfilling their 1917 commitments to Weizmann and the Zionists. Also, the idea of Palestine as South Syria held sway for a very brief period of time with a very small segment of the Palestinian elite. Before the prospect of Faisal’s state, you find little mention of this idea in the Palestinian Arab press or elsewhere; after the French kick Faisal out, the idea of unification with Syria (which had always been in the eyes of its Palestinian proponents primarily a way to save Palestine from colonization) gets thrown out as no longer politically possible.
    Let’s proceed with my “confusion” about Mandatory Palestine. You say that 1920 was not a pogrom because it wasn’t state sponsored. Oops! First of all, it was led by Haj Amin Al Hussaini who was without a doubt considered the most important local leader to the Arabs. Second, he received valuable counsel about instituting these pogroms from…the British:
    First of all, you’re just wrong about Hajj Amin being the sponsor of the 1920 violence. And second of all, even if you were right, it wouldn’t support your point since he didn’t run a state. You can’t have state-sponsored violence without sponsorship by a state. On the first point: Amin was responsible for organizing the Nabi Musa processions every year, as head religious figure in Jerusalem. The basic facts about what happened can be found in the Palin Commission reports (the British military team that investigated the riots after the fact). Hajj Amin is reported to have made a speech, and to have held up a portrait of Faisal. That’s pretty much it. The disturbances began in the old city while the speakers and rally were still outside the city walls. The Palin Commission Report blamed Arab disappointment in their hopes for independence, Arab fear of the Balfour Declaration as an instrument of dispossession, and support for unity with Syria (still a possibility in early 1920) for the violence. They did not, you’ll notice, blame the Mufti, although they did try to arrest him for instigation.
    As for Richard Meinertzhagen, he is not a trustworthy source. In addition to being a classic example of my claim that one can be an antisemite and a Zionist at the same time ( “I am imbued with anti-semitic feelings . . . It was indeed an accursed day that allowed Jews and not Christians to introduce to the world the principles of Zionism and that allowed Jewish brains and Jewish money to carry them out, almost unhelped by Christians save a handful of enthusiasts in England” — his diaries, p.67), Meinertzhagen had interested reasons in blaming the 1920 violence on his own colleagues. He wanted to show that some of them were anti-Zionists and Arabists, and to spread the idea that the riots were a pogrom. Could all this have had anything to do with the fact that four days before the riots, he had written to the Foreign Office that “I do not anticipate any immediate trouble in Palestine?” Hmmmm, sounds like his job was on the line. In any event, he was ordered out of Palestine after Allenby threatened to resign in protest of his charges, which were never substantiated by any other source.
    Traditions change. Wars change things. Rulers change things. Your claim that the locals didn’t know about the law is simply silly. It was an Ottoman law and plenty of local Arab families took full advantage, including the Al-Hussainis and the Nashashibis.
    You’re trying to argue with my point about the knowledge of the fellaheen, the majority of the Palestinian population, by citing the fact that several of the wealthiest and most prominent families in urban Palestine took advantage of the new land laws. I hope you understand why this is a completely inadequate response. Please try your response again. In any event, after the Jews began buying land Arabs did in many cases try to form KKL equivalents; the reasons for the failure of these projects are immaterial to my original point about the earliest dispossessions.
    By late 1920, many Palestinians had justification to be worried, as the Palin Commission reported, that the British were not going to grant them independence, and that the Zionists were going to take over the whole country. Nothing you’ve said has contradicted either of these points, and retroactively the Palestinians were right. If you want to characterize Ben-Gurion’s acceptance of Peel as an acceptance of two-states, that’s fine, but I have a feeling you’re one of those who might have described Arafat’s 1988 acceptance of two states as a creeping ploy to get more land. Pick one, cynicism or earnestness, and stick with it.

  44. Oh, I don’t want to sound pedantic: I realize that the British, while they were not technically in charge of “a state” in Palestine during the Mandate either, were in charge. So, I would have considered sponsorship by the colonial administration of anti-Jewish violence to be a pogrom. With the Mufti, however, is more like if Al Sharpton were to organize anti-Jewish violence in Brooklyn. It wouldn’t be a pogrom unless the government let him do it.
    But still, it’s important to realize that it is very easy to retroactively impute more importance to the Mufti in 1920 than he actually had at the time, since he became more important with later events. In 1920 Hajj Amin was not nearly the preeminent political figure he would later become; in fact, his career began to take off only after the 1920 riots, when both Zionist and Palestinian Arab propagandists got a lot of mileage out of claiming he had sponsored them (for different reasons, of course). Still, that version of events doesn’t hold up to the historical facts as we have them today.

  45. You have a “feeling that I would blah blah blah Arafat is a saint blah blah blah?” Do you notice how with every post you’ve got fewer and fewer salient responses to make and now we’re dealing with personal comments again? Didn’t we already have one session where you accused me of being something because I didn’t fall into your silly categories and you had to back off. Don’t you learn from past mistakes?
    So let’s deal with your few remaining rejoinders. So, the fact that there was a Christian Zionist Prime Minister and a Jewish Zionist High Commissioner is supposed to support… your argument that Arabs had more access to British power than Zionists? And the fact that British officials seriously doubted the Zionist movement’s power to bring enough immigrants, yet at the same time protected and sheltered it in an attempt to fulfill its Balfour Declaration promise… is also supposed to support this claim of yours?
    My argument was never that Jews had no access, it’s a given they did. Your argument, however, was that the “dispossessed” Arabs had no access. I’ve given you the names of leaders and you yourself have mentioned agreements that were made, thereby proving my point about access.
    For some reason you don’t want to mention the Arab Executive Committee and their impact upon the British. For some reason you choose to ignore the constant visits by Arabs from Mandate Palestine and other areas to London in order to attempt to influence policy. For some reason you don’t want to mention the White Papers that always seemed to follow Arab violence against Jews that ended up curtailing Jewish emigration to the area despite the Mandate.
    The point of the Christian Zionist PM is that despite the best efforts of the many British whose ear the local Arabs had, everything they tried to put into effect was stopped at his door because his agenda was singular.
    You then discuss protecting and sheltering the Jews and the Yishuv, when they did not do this to any significant degree. Jabotinsky would have gotten nowhere had the British done what they were supposed to do according to their mandate. They established limits on immigration for Jews only, while not restricting Arab immigration. They tacitly supported and at times, as in the case of Waters Taylor, encouraged violence against Jews. Alternatively, they restricted Yishuv movements to protect themselves and their communities from attack. Their White Papers continued to reject their promises of the Balfour Declaration and went directly against the mandate given them by the international community to the point where they created transJordan on an area supposedly to be given the Jews. The reason you have to talk about the British being both “Zionist and antisemite” is that you have no other way to explain away the poor behavior of the British toward the Yishuv at given times during the Mandatory period.
    However, my explanation is different. Sure, there may have been many antisemites among them, but more important, there were also many who were either more sympathetic to the local Arab population, or affected by their violence, and they did some little things and big things to help them. In fact, I would argue that were it not for the strong organization of the Yishuv, and their clear vision of where their movement needed to take them, they would have never achieved a state in light of the challenges created by the British. And, on the other hand, it is the local Arabs’ disorganization, lack of clear nationalist vision (if any) and use of violence against, yes, civilians, that prevented them from achieving a state. Oh, and their refusal to compromise.
    No. The reason Palestine wasn’t taken into consideration was that while in the rest of the Middle East the British had only made two conflicting promises (to the French and to the Meccan Arabs), in the case of Palestine they had made three. The British left the question of whether Palestine would be included in Faisal’s united Arab state vague precisely because they were trying to keep open the possibility of fulfilling their 1917 commitments to Weizmann and the Zionists. Also, the idea of Palestine as South Syria held sway for a very brief period of time with a very small segment of the Palestinian elite. Before the prospect of Faisal’s state, you find little mention of this idea in the Palestinian Arab press or elsewhere; after the French kick Faisal out, the idea of unification with Syria (which had always been in the eyes of its Palestinian proponents primarily a way to save Palestine from colonization) gets thrown out as no longer politically possible.

    Uh, no. Hussein Ibn Ali and Faisal didn’t show an interest in the territory of Palestine because it didn’t mean much to them. It wasn’t important. It wasn’t “on the map” so to speak. The vagueness that you speak of is on the British side while the point I was making relates to the Arab leadership whose existence you deny.
    As for Southern Syria, I find it amusing that you have just dismissed pan-arabism in a couple of sentences. Your point is ridiculous, as Mr. Porath conveniently points out. However, I thought I’d let the Palestinians make the case for me: http://nakba.sis.gov.ps/english/zionisim/Arab-National-Movement.html “When the Arab patriots in Palestine held their second conference in Damascus in 27th February 1920 and came up with decisions which reflect that they are convinced by their unity with the Arab National Movement and that share the same destiny. The decisions were summed up as follows:
    – The people of northern and coastal Syria consider the Southern Syrian (Palestine) an extended part of Syria.
    – The people of northern and coastal Syria oppose the Jewish immigration to Palestine for it constitutes a danger to their political entity; they object to seeing Palestine a national homeland for the Jews.
    – The Arab National Movement is to demand the independence of Syria with its natural borders and to kick the occupiers out of the Coast (Lebanon) and occupied Palestine. [See Arab Palestine between the British Mandate and Zionism, Isa Al-Safri, page 34].”
    Very prominent local Arabs like Al-Qauqji (spelling?) supported the idea of a “Southern Syria” in 1936-1939 riots. Arab states meeting in 1945 speak of independence for “Arabs of Palestine” but do not make any mention of nationhood or nationalism that relates to these Arabs. What is most interesting is that in an attempt to make this mistaken point, you have just wiped out Pan-Arabism as a significant movement of the 20th Century. Do you realize how absurd that is? I mean, what was Nasser talking about in the 50s and 60s?
    First of all, you’re just wrong about Hajj Amin being the sponsor of the 1920 violence. And second of all, even if you were right, it wouldn’t support your point since he didn’t run a state. You can’t have state-sponsored violence without sponsorship by a state.
    Ahh yes, the old argument about why Palestinians can blow up Israelis but Israelis cannot blow up Palestinians because they are a state. Please spare me, they had leadership and very prominent families who were considered political leaders of the people. Haj Amin was among the key people pushing for the riots, as were some of his peers. It just so happened that he became the most prominent because of future events.
    On the first point: Amin was responsible for organizing the Nabi Musa processions every year, as head religious figure in Jerusalem. The basic facts about what happened can be found in the Palin Commission reports (the British military team that investigated the riots after the fact). Hajj Amin is reported to have made a speech, and to have held up a portrait of Faisal. That’s pretty much it. The disturbances began in the old city while the speakers and rally were still outside the city walls. The Palin Commission Report blamed Arab disappointment in their hopes for independence, Arab fear of the Balfour Declaration as an instrument of dispossession, and support for unity with Syria (still a possibility in early 1920) for the violence. They did not, you’ll notice, blame the Mufti, although they did try to arrest him for instigation.

    Not only did they not go after the Mufti, but despite the heavy Jewish loss of life and injuries, they went after Jabotinsky and his people because they set up a defense force in Jerusalem (that successfully prevented any significant bloodshed). Doesn’t that tell you something about the history you just tried to use as evidence?
    As for Richard Meinertzhagen, he is not a trustworthy source. In addition to being a classic example of my claim that one can be an antisemite and a Zionist at the same time ( “I am imbued with anti-semitic feelings . . . It was indeed an accursed day that allowed Jews and not Christians to introduce to the world the principles of Zionism and that allowed Jewish brains and Jewish money to carry them out, almost unhelped by Christians save a handful of enthusiasts in England” — his diaries, p.67), Meinertzhagen had interested reasons in blaming the 1920 violence on his own colleagues. He wanted to show that some of them were anti-Zionists and Arabists, and to spread the idea that the riots were a pogrom. Could all this have had anything to do with the fact that four days before the riots, he had written to the Foreign Office that “I do not anticipate any immediate trouble in Palestine?” Hmmmm, sounds like his job was on the line. In any event, he was ordered out of Palestine after Allenby threatened to resign in protest of his charges, which were never substantiated by any other source.
    Bzzzzt! Wrong. The information originally came from Colonel Storr, another Brit of prominence there.
    You’re trying to argue with my point about the knowledge of the fellaheen, the majority of the Palestinian population, by citing the fact that several of the wealthiest and most prominent families in urban Palestine took advantage of the new land laws.
    No. I was pointing out that when you blamed foreign or distant land owners earlier, you missed the numerous local families who took advantage of the laws.
    I hope you understand why this is a completely inadequate response.
    It is if you don’t understand what I was talking about. Now you do. My point, anyway, was that the law was 60 years old but you blame the Jews for knowing about it and taking advantage by BUYING LAND while the Arabs didn’t. Do you realize how silly you sound? Anyway, even if the felaheen didn’t know at first, after the first couple of purchases and replacement of their labor by the new owners, they KNEW. That they chose not to do anything is not the fault of the Jews. Also, don’t forget that Arabs were buying and selling land in other parts of the Ottoman Empire and its aftermath. The difference here is that Jews did it, and the people you are trying to defend by accusing the Jews of immorality, attacked the Jews for being the wrong kinds of people on land they perceived as their own. So one side doesn’t use violence but uses hard earned money and the law. The other side uses violence and doesn’t abide by the law. But you claim the former is immoral. How WRONG.
    Please try your response again.
    Well, my response was satisfactory the first time and now you’ve got it from another direction. Maybe you should try again?
    In any event, after the Jews began buying land Arabs did in many cases try to form KKL equivalents; the reasons for the failure of these projects are immaterial to my original point about the earliest dispossessions.
    Why are they immaterial? And why do the “earliest dispossessions” count while later ones do not? Were the later riots any less important? Stop justifying the violence and stop claiming immorality by the Jews. There were laws. The laws had been taken advantage of by many local Arabs. Jews also took advantage of these laws. They did so fairly and even paid excess amounts for the land, some of which was sold by local Arabs. They then decided to work their new land so they could live off it and try to develop their nationalist dream of a return to Zion and democratically and legally taking their natural right to self-determination to a successful conclusion. It’s that basic and that simple. All of your complaints fall by the wayside because if you use the laws of the land and create what you have without initiating violence and while seeking to establish facts by democratic means, you are in fact being moral. Unless you can address that basic issue, you will not make a dent in my argument.
    By the way, even as Jews stopped using fellaheen on their new land, the local Arabs set up boycotts against Jewish businesses at different times. How immoral!
    By late 1920, many Palestinians had justification to be worried, as the Palin Commission reported, that the British were not going to grant them independence, and that the Zionists were going to take over the whole country.
    Uh, the Jews were around 10% of the population at that time. The violence was intended to affect politics. It was terrorism sponsored by their leadership, and ostensibly supported and perhaps instigated by the British. Pure and simple.
    Nothing you’ve said has contradicted either of these points, and retroactively the Palestinians were right.
    No, the Arabs were wrong. They could have had a state. They made themselves retroactively right by rejecting compromises that would have given them the best land in 1937 (where they would have also kept a majority of the land), in 1947 (when they would have kept a minority but considering the Negev was just desert, a majority of the useful land), and in 2000 (when they would at least have had something…).
    If you want to characterize Ben-Gurion’s acceptance of Peel as an acceptance of two-states, that’s fine,
    Yup, I do. Not just his acceptance. He was the leader of the Yishuv and his acceptance was the Yishuv’s acceptance.
    Pick one, cynicism or earnestness, and stick with it.
    Boy oh boy, what a dig. Of course, you’re off the mark again.

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