N229NW From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 2102 posts, RR: 29 Posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 1671 times:
Every time there is an attempt to discuss the Israel-Palestine issue (in this forum or in newspaper forums, etc.) things quickly turn into fairly rabid accusations and accusations of racism from both sides. In the spirit of Tbar's "constructive Lebanon-Israel thread" (but broader than the Lebanon issue), I thought I would point out some elements that are often used in Israel-Palestine debates that I think we should try dropping or expanding to reach a better mutual understanding. For the record, I am an American Jew who finds it all too easy to see the suffering of innocents on both sides, but quickly tires of the "we are the only angels/victims" argument from either side. Objectively I see much more misery, suffering and disruption of normal life for the Palestinian side (largely at Israel's hands but also partly at the hands of the surrounding Arab governments, especially in the past). I also see a massive failure of leadership and vision from all parties involved. Blood is on everyone's hands. In any case, I think a more constructive dialogue would follow the following "rules."
FIRST, no more Hitler/Nazi comparisons ON EITHER SIDE! The “you’re a Nazi,” “No, you’re a Nazi,” etc. shows pretty profound ignorance of either the current situation in the Middle East or the Third Reich, or both. Sure, there are aspects that bear comparison. However:
Israel is not acting like the Nazis because: they are not attempting to extinguish complete races of people. They are not going around measuring the shape of different people’s skulls to show that those people are inferior and must all be destroyed for the good of mankind. They are not going through their population and even their armed forces finding the people who are Arab or ½ Arab, or ¼ Arab so that they can be removed and gassed (As the Nazis did openly with the Jews and Gypsies in their population and their own army). By all means, discuss the brutal and morally rotten aspects of Israel’s foreign policy, but no need for a wild analogy. It just makes everything else seem exaggerated.
Meanwhile, The Arabs are not acting like the Nazis because: they are fighting over land, with a nation and its foreign policies, rather than trying to eliminate a race (see above). The trite example of how the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem agreed with Hitler about “the Jewish Problem” during WWII is a single case or a leader embracing Hitler (most Arab leaders at the time had nothing to do with Hitler at all). Oswald Mosley embraced Hitler at the same time in England, but that doesn’t show that the English were Nazis etc. Remember that already in the 1930s and 40s Jews were buying up land (mainly from foreign Ottoman landlords who didn’t really care about the area) in Palestine with the stated aim of outnumbering or removing the native Arabs and starting a country there. The Grand Mufti’s reaction to this was a nasty case of racializing the issue, and unfortunately as time has gone on, more and more Arabs have been susceptible to blurring the lines between anti-Israeli resistance and anti-Jewish hatred. This however, does not mean that Nazi comparisons shed light on the current issue. The contexts are radically different.
SECOND, no more using the UN to endorse only one side of the conflict:
The pro-Israeli extremists one minute say “Israel has a right to exist because the UN determined this in 1947” and the next minute say “Israel has a right to violate any UN resolutions they feel the need to because the UN is a biased political organization dominated by anti-Semitic forces who do not understand our precarious situation.”
The pro-Arab extremists say: “Israel is a rogue state because it is in violation of more UN resolutions than any other country…” and the next minute say, “The UN had no right to create the state of Israel because that was our land and the UN was a biased political organization that was forced into this action by pressure anyway…”
Nobody can have it both ways; either the UN and international law are the final arbiter despite their flaws, or leave them out altogether. Personally, I say the best we can do is admit that international law is problematic but is the best thing we’ve got. So let’s listen to the UN. Israel’s right to exist must be protected, but Israel should get out of ALL of the land they took in the 1967 war, including the now entrenched settlements around Jerusalem, and Jerusalem must be split, or administered by an outside authority.
THIRD, on the creation of Israel, refugees and the right of return issue:
Israelis need to admit that about three quarters of a million Arabs were driven out of Israeli land when Israel was created. Israel has often claimed that those people left because they were told to by advancing Arab forces, and told that they could come back to their land after Israel was eliminated. More detailed research shows that indeed some did leave for this reason (and if you think about it, that makes sense). But the majority left because they were terrorized and driven out by Israel. The most important examples of this have been well-documented, such as Deir Yassein.
On the other hand, one cannot cite these issues and ignore the fact that at the same time, at least as many Jews were driven out of neighboring Arab countries. Again, some left because they wanted to go to Israel now that it was formed, and saw there a safe haven. Here too, however, most were terrorized and forced out by Arabs angry about the creation of Israel, even though the Jewish populations in their countries had existed peacefully for centuries, and had precious little to do with the creation of the Jewish state.
Personally, I think the right of return should be nominally offered both to Jews from Arab countries and to Palestinians whose families were forced out of Israeli land. This being the thorniest question in the long-term solution of the crisis, I would say that incentives should be made so that in reality (rather than theory) people chose to stay rather than return. (At this point, very few Sephardic Jews want to return to Arab lands, but the situation is more complicated in reverse); if done properly, most descendents of those who were displaced could be restored a sense of justice, but most would stay put, at least for now. In the longest term, perhaps a one-state solution will emerge, but only in an age when today’s blood has washed downstream and when national and ethnic identities are less important than today.
So, in the end, I would like to see some balance and perspective, even from those with passionate reasons to be involved in this issue. Particularly, I would like to see the issues of Naziism, the UN, and refugees treated in a way that actually takes a fuller account of the full story.
Rolfen From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 1822 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 1636 times:
About the right of return...
Those 3/4 of a million would have roughly procreated into 3-4 millions descendants today.
Even if 1 over five of these decide to return, it's gonna be a huge problem for israel... from my perspective... I dont know of a country who would be ready to absorb so much people... but israel has done some amazing things in the past.
Rolfen From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 1822 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 1595 times:
Most of the things you could blame one side, you could blame it on the other too.
But people just instinctively side with the people they identify the most with.
Sometimes a picture of a desperate american girls will be of much more effect to you then that of a 100 slaughtered palestinian children. Why? because you identify with the american girl who dresses like you, looks like you and speaks like you.
I'm not laying any blame, that's just the was we are. Right?
Sonic99 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 1575 times:
Why not just create one state called "Israpal" give everyone the same rights let people live wherever the heck they want in the land and be done with it? Yes there has been strife in the past, but for nearly 2000 years people (not politicians by our current standards) lived there in relative peace so why separate each other now?
NAV20 From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 9909 posts, RR: 34
Reply 10, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 1564 times:
N229RW, thanks for trying.
In principle I'd agree with Sonic99 - the whole place is far too small for two independent nations, combining it into a single state would seem to be the only practical solution. But even that would only work if the new state was secular; which implies getting religion of any kind out of government for good.
There's a practical problem that never seems to get mentioned, though; the whole region is drastically over-populated. If the United Nations had hired a good consulting team in 1948 they would rapidly have learned that the resources of the area (in terms of arable land, economic potential, and, above all, water) were nowhere near adequate to support several million extra people. The Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, and the Jordan itself are already badly-depleted, and the situation is worsening day by day.
So, in the first place, any 'right of return' would not be practical - that issue would have to be dealt with by means of compensation. Secondly, there could be no question of continued uncontrolled immigration by anyone of Jewish descent. The new state would have to have very tight controls on any future inward migration, and also develop economic policies that would limit natural growth as far as possible.
"Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.." - Leonardo da Vinci
AGM100 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 5407 posts, RR: 16
Reply 12, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 1541 times:
What more can be said than the peoples of the ME must forget the past. Their are credible complaints on both sides but coexistence is not a choice any longer. The history of every nation and people on earth has some blood attached to it. But true civilized progressive people learn how to make concessions or integrate with each other.
It takes generations to work out but steps must be taken not inflame the situation over and over. I believe having had alot of contact with Israeli's that they are willling to deal so to speak. But they fear a enemy who is set on thier ahnialtion. Not the Palastinian people, I believe they would be ready to deal as well. The problem is the extremist elements who rally the PA to fight "occupation" in order to inflame the situation.
You dig the hole .. I fill the hole . 100% employment !
N229NW From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 2102 posts, RR: 29
Reply 14, posted (9 years 6 months 3 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 1512 times:
Quoting Rolfen (Reply 7): Most of the things you could blame one side, you could blame it on the other too.
But people just instinctively side with the people they identify the most with.
I agree, but I wish people could rise above this a little bit and step back to see the distortions their own side is using to make its points. To be honest, A.net is relatively tame compared to other forums. Every single column on the Middle East that appears in the Guardian website, for example, is followed by a long thread of truly depressing garbage from people on both sides who are simply choking on hate for each other and who let this utterly block out their sense of perspective. Instead of stating facts and arguing, they can only use recognized emblems of evil to make their case seem like the most important moral argument ever put forth. They cannot say the word "prison," it must be the worst prisons ever, hence "gulag," cannot say the word "misguided," it must be a "racial conspiracy," cannot say the word "discrimination," it must be the symbol of vile segregations itself, hence "apartheid," and again and again the Nazi accusations on both sides--the ultimate symbol of racism and evil. Some comparisons are simply farcical. Others have a grain of truth but ignore all the differences. Almost all of them get us NOWHERE, only stoke the hatred and distortions. And if a bunch of people on a website can't even begin to ever convince each other and work together, it doesn't augur well for real life, does it.
Quoting NAV20 (Reply 10): the whole place is far too small for two independent nations, combining it into a single state would seem to be the only practical solution.
There are many Arabs and a few Israelis who want a single-state solution. Unfortunately, we live in a world where national/racial/religious identity have been the basis for nation-states. Zionism has its root in the fact that for centuries Jews were persecuted in whatever country they were in, and not allowed to live as Jews. Hence, the entire raison d'etre of Israel was to offer a place where the Jews were de facto a majority. Ironically, Arab nationalism springs from the same idea that each ethnic people should govern their own state. While a one-state solution may be possible in an ideal future (and abstractly seems like the fairest solution), it seems more realtistic to work for a two-state solution in the short term...