This is a piece written specifically in response to a comment left on one of my previous articles.
Firstly, thank you for your comment. You obviously invested time and effort in writing it and more importantly I always appreciate dialogue. Words, negotiation and an effort to understand are vital elements of any future settlement. I always try to respond to *everything* so my method of dealing with a comment such as yours is to work through it piece by piece.
“I am someone who is critical of Israel and its continued occupation of Palestinian Territory but I guess reading much of what you wrote, you may conflate that with anti-Semitism which I would not accept. And yes I am a Muslim but I do not consider myself as anti Jew.”
I can be critical of the ‘occupation’ too and I am no antisemite. There are many levels of criticism and many reasons to criticise and I most certainly do not suggest that all those critical of Israel are antisemites. I could add much more on this, some you would agree with, some you wouldn’t, but I would rather focus on the real content of your comment.
I suspect many who ready your blogs are like minded but I am interested in genuinely understanding the view point of the other. I recognise that the conflict can be deeply emotive with entrenched views on both sides.
Absolutely on both counts. Almost everyone stays within their comfort zone, only reading material that reinforces their position (which is annoying). And I have spent years arguing the conflict on forums and barely remember a single occasion when anyone moved an inch (2.54cm for our continental friends). Whatever your opinion I commend you for both reading my blog and writing a civil and considered comment.
So although you claim that anti-Zionist academics like illan pappe use history to support their pre-conceived views, I’m not sure that the likes of benny Morris are any different in that regard.
My point in this regard mainly suggests that the research is *sometimes* placed on top of an already existent and sometimes extreme bias and that it greatly impacts the quality of the work. I fully accept this can work both ways, both with Zionist and non-Zionist academics. With Pappe, I have found it distinctly uncomfortable. As an example, see the picture on the left. In his book on ‘The ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’ Pappe is arguing against one of Morris’s assertions. He uses the word ‘impossible’. This word is simply not an academic word, far from it. On this type of assertion, an academic can suggest an event unlikely, unusual, difficult to reconcile and so on; but to actually use the ‘impossible’ word, indicates a mind that seems closed to alternatives. In soft science, use of phrases such as “authorized *all* actions of expulsion”, precludes the existence of a single event when this was not the case. First year students of research learn to write better than this. Pappe is not even a witness but using archives to support his theories, there is *almost no way* that absolute certainty can be used to describe these type of conclusions drawn from this material. In my opinion it isn’t just indicative of bias, but is also academically sloppy.
In any case, I’m struggling to find a balanced view in your writings either as it seems to be all the fault of the Muslms and Arabs while Israel is entirely innocent. It kind of reminds me of that Golda Meir saying and I’m only paraphrasing here from memory ‘that we can forgive the Arabs for killing our children, but we can never forgive the Arabs for making us kill their children’
I am sure you find bias in my writings. I am a Zionist and believe that the creation of a Jewish homeland was a historical morally justifiable necessity; and you don’t. However, do not mistake this as claiming Israel is ‘innocent’ in all this or that every event is the fault of Muslims. I am neither blind nor stupid. Within the paradigm I exist in, I try to be as balanced as possible. When I talk politics I tend to annoy Jews too.
Every point in history you seem to suggest is down to Arab rejection and anything contrary to your point of view is Palestinian propaganda. You present statistics to support your claim but I work with data in my job everyday so I know that stats can be presented in such a way to prove anything you want as alleged fact.
Now we are getting down to the meat in the argument. First off, yes stats can be used to prove almost anything, but then again, those telling the truth have to use them too. I do not however understand your opposition to this argument. It is a historical truth that the Arabs rejected Balfour, rejected the Mandate, rejected Zionism, rejected Jewish immigration, rejected partition, rejected Israel’s declaration of independence and have been rejecting Israel for the most part ever since. The Palestinian argument is not that they did not do this, but that it was a justifiable ‘rejectionism’. I personally do not think all of this was justifiable, thus setting in motion a cause and effect situation that brings us to today. That is simply my position on a historically accurate truth. There is no propaganda involved in this argument whatsoever.
Regarding propaganda. Your accusation is unfairly levelled. If you can provide me with a specific instance where I called a particular piece of information propoganda, we can analyse it together and find out if it has substance, or is indeed propaganda. I am quite a good at research, and I tend to dig deeply before I reject a story as bogus. I also admit I make mistakes, so if you think I have made one, point me in the direction and unleash me. But please do not simply discard my position without a factual case to back you up. Look at that map of Palestinian land for example, the one that is used at almost every pro-Palestinian event I have been to. It is absolute distortion, totally bias and factually false. Garbage would be the best word to describe it; a disease that infests intelligence and spreads stupidity. I admit I have come across ‘Hasbara’ that is factually incorrect, but there is nothing comparable with the lies, distortions and false claims that eminate from the Palestinian propaganda camp. If their case is truly so indisputable, so ethically obvious, why is there this constant need to make up stories?
And I accept that some of the comments that you have posted From YouTube from pro-Palestinian rallies are deeply offensive. But I can also post similar videos from pro Israeli rallies where the comments are equally offensive to Arabs. What does it really prove other than some ill informed people can let there emotions get the better of them at demonstrations. Is society really that anti-Semitic as I think I face far more criticism and scrutiny as a Muslim particularly after 9/11?
In context, your comment was posted on the blog regarding antisemitism in London, so for anyone reading, this is why this particular point has arisen. Yes, they are deeply offensive and yes, you can post similar videos showing offensive comments against Arabs. I am sure, certainly since 9/11 that as a Muslim you have faced unacceptable racism wherever in the west you may be. My point though wasn’t about people letting their emotions get the better of them at demonstrations, but rather about that being the driving force for them actually being present at the demonstration at the first place.
Put it this way let us imagine a demonstration against ritual slaughter (something both you and I have an interest in). The driving force for such a demonstration would or should be animal welfare. If you were to take a video at a demonstration against ritual slaughter and many of the people there were shouting anti-Muslim slogans, or you noticed people advertising the demonstration on anti-Islamic websites, you have rather caught them with their pants down. They are not there about the animals at all, but rather to vent their racist, unacceptable, views whilst hiding beneath an acceptable umbrella.
If only 2% of the UK is antisemitic (the figure is far, far higher) and only 2% of the antisemites turn up at anti-Israel demonstrations, then you have an army of 24,000 people to protest against Israel before a single pro-Palestinian needs to join. How convenient too for the antisemite. All he has to do is switch the word ‘Jew’ for ‘Zionist’ and he can call Jews ‘child killers’ without a care in the world. No, not every anti-Zionist is an antisemite, but I would argue almost every antisemite is an anti-Zionist. That woman with the umbrella in the video, when she goes to these events, does she help the Palestinians, collect food parcels, invest in their infrastructure and preach peace or does she simply hurl abuse at Jews and tell them that they should die?
As for ‘is society really that antisemitic’. I have no doubt you feel anti-Muslim attitudes strongly and are finely tuned to pick them up. I am the same with antisemitism. Trust me, it’s there. I do not want to get into a which is worse, because it is pointless, divisive and there are underlying differences that make the two incomparable. Let’s accept they both exist, we are both impacted by it and move on.
And yes, the killing of Israeli civilians on the street of Israel is a horrendous crime. But settler violence against Palestinian civilians where a teenager is forced to drink petrol and burnt is no less horrendous and shocking.
True, the brutal murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir was beyond vile. In fact, the way he was killed was clearly more shocking and more horrendous than stabbing someone in the street, even if the end result is the same. I neither intend to protect or defend violence against civilian Palestinians (I wrote a blog after the attack in Duma). What I will say is this: It is rejected by mainstream Israeli society, condemned by the government and outside of extremists, these people are totally opposed. Baruch Goldstein for example, a hero to a select few, is a name known to most Israelis as a mass murdering religious extremist. His movement outlawed, his shrine dismantled and his body not even buried in a Jewish cemetery. Compare this, to the way that mass murderers of Israeli civilians are treated within the Palestinian community. This is not equal at all and I therefore reject the comparison. Yes, murderers of civilians need to be condemned; and for *the most part* Israelis condemn theirs and *for the most part* Palestinians celebrate theirs. This is not equal. This unfortunately is also part of the Palestinian propaganda campaign; they take ‘an exception’ in Israel and use it as ‘a rule’, whilst comparing it to ‘a rule’ in Palestinian society that is presented as ‘an exception’. It is a successful way of creating smokescreens, but it has no real ethical merit.
In any case David, what I am unable to fathom in your posts is what your solution to the conflict is? When Israel conducts a military campaign in Gaza where the sheer destruction and impact on civilians is so severe, most ordinary people with no political affiliations are going to be horrified and protest against Israel.
If a solution to the conflict was so easy, it would have ended in 1950. My posts tend not to contain solutions, because they address specific issues that are not related to a currently non-existent peace process. But as you are about to talk about concrete proposals, let’s move on to them (I have not ignored your Gaza comment, I know it is about to be mentioned again in your post and I will address it then).
Israel is losing moral credibility with the masses around the world not because of the Arabs but due to its own violent policies. And people cheering on the hills of Sderot having a picnic while bombs are falling on civilians in Gaza is not going to adhere Israelis to the British public. It is the killing that enrages people, not some inherent hatred for Jews.
Using an example of a picnic in Sderot is highly selective. Just as you mentioned before over the video footage from the demonstrations, I can provide ample (far more than you can) footage of Palestinians celebrating devastating terrorist attacks. This is propaganda talk (part of the exception, rule strategy I mentioned earlier) and I try to avoid it wherever possible.
However, do you not feel that tens of millions of Muslims in the west make a difference? As you and I both know, most Muslims naturally sympathise with the Palestinian narrative rather than the Israeli one. Most of them were brought up indoctrinated in education systems and over the past 30 years, tens of millions of Muslims have moved to the west. If as the Arabs used to argue, the Jewish voice was heard because of their presence in Europe and America, isn’t it logical to suggest that now, the Muslims are also well represented in schools, in universities, in the workplace and in politics. If a school has 15% Muslim schoolchildren, do you really believe they teach the conflict the way they used to 20 years ago? At a university, aren’t Muslims going to want to bring their agenda to the research table? Are you really arguing that this has had no effect whatsoever and only *Israeli actions* are responsible for the sea-change? This to me seems an argument without any credibility. I would suggest they are the driving factor behind the entire change of narrative (not the *only* cause, but the main one). I agree the change has happened and also agree that it is going to get worse, but I simply dispute the underlying reasons for this occurrence.
Now I have in mind what a just solution may be but I’m not sure if it correlates to your solution.I recognise the state of Israel as a political reality although I may disagree with the Zionist project. And I doubt we will agree on the events of 1948 so let’s deal with the present day.
Israel is a political reality and we’d differ on the events of 1948 but maybe not as much as you think. Some things are part of the historical narrative; on November 29th 1947 the vote of partition was passed and within a day, Arabs were attacking Jews. Reprisals and counter reprisals took place as civil war erupted. Within 60 days irregular Arab forces entered Palestine. Rather than lay down and be slaughtered, the Jews fought and won. If you wish to suggest that in this fight for survival, the Jews didn’t play entirely clean, I am willing to accept that. Their enemy wasn’t playing clean either, the Jews just happen to be the side that won. What is important to remember is who chose to fight.
I also want to address the issue of refugees. I know you probably think most were ‘expelled’, so I ask you whether you think most Syrian or Libyan refugees have been forcibly expelled or have chosen to leave because of the fighting? It is historically accepted that up to 100,000 Arab refugees (the fittest and richest) walked as early as March 1948. The flight was so bad that the neighbouring Arab countries *closed their borders* to hold the Arabs inside Palestine. I accept some Arabs were expelled, but I suggest many were just doing what people do when civil war breaks out – leaving the arena.
I uphold the right of all people to live in peace and security but not at the expense of another. There is now a generation of Israelis that live in the land and I do not seek to drive them into the sea and I genuinely don’t believe that the Palestinians want this either. They just want peace and security David for their families and children but if that is not forthcoming, it is only human nature to fight back even though they are up against one of the most sophisticated and powerful armies in the world.
This sounds pleasant, but it is historically unpalatable.Firstly, if the Palestinians *only wanted peace and security*, this conflict would never have started. Instead Arab leaders inside British Palestine such as Haj Amin al-Husseini (the Grand Mufti) specifically and deliberately set out to create conflict. The Mufti was brutal, inciting massacres, seeking division and continually violently opposing those Arabs who sought peaceful coexistence. Once evicted from British Palestine, he made his way to Iraq, whilst there he pushed Nazi philosophy, eventually making his way to Hitler’s table in Berlin. The Arabs have always had atrocious leaders who for their own religious or political reasons chose to incite the general population and led them from the start into civil conflict with the Jews. Look around the Middle East. Just how do you suggest this problem can be solved?
Secondly, this fails to hit the mark when discussing what occurred between 1949 & 1967. The West Bank and Gaza were completely in Arab hands. In this case, if your point was accurate, we have peace. Except we didn’t and what the Arabs claimed they wanted to do was exactly what you say they didn’t, which is drive the Jews into the sea.
Thirdly it fails to hit the mark when discussing Oslo. Within weeks of a peace agreement, Jews started to be murdered by people within the Arab community and groups like Hamas set out to derail the talks by beginning a wave of brutal suicide bombings. These parts of the Arab community may want peace, but only on their specific terms and will continue to kill until such conditions are met. It is true to say these people also only want peace and security for their families and children, but the ‘peace’ they seek condemns everyone to perpetual war.
In any event this is a historical argument rather than one over a solution. What I would ask you to consider however, is whether your understanding works both ways. You say it is only human nature to fight back, so in the beginning when the Arabs began murdering the Jews, do you accept the Jews also had the right to fight back? (which is how the conflict started).
I know the one state is not going to be acceptable to you as this will undermine your need for a Jewish state. I’m not sure either how you reconcile the concept of a Jewish state with a secular democracy when 20% of the Israeli population is not Jewish. I do not accept that a Jewish state is your inherent right either but I recognise that is what you have and wish to maintain so let it be if that means peace.
I accept that you do not necessarily agree with me on this and that is fair enough, you neither need to accept my reasons for wanting such status nor worry about how I reconcile internal issues. What the US does inside the US for example is not your concern. I would argue that whilst talk of ‘one happy world’ might sound pleasant, nationalism is visibly raising its head across the globe. Given that Jews suffered oppression in every single nation where they have lived, I would suggest it is incumbent on other nations to show they have long overcome their own issues before expecting the Jews to consider how things ‘might’ have changed beyond their borders.
As for one state, why do you think it would be different from Iraq? Syria? Lebanon? Egypt? Libya? Given that Israel has created for itself a powerful, democratic, well educated, innovative, dynamic and industrious haven within a very nasty area, it isn’t surprising that those outside look enviously upon it. But truth be told as we look around the Middle East, can you provide an example of ‘one nation’ that the Israelis can look to and say “ah, that is what he means”?
What too of accepting responsibility for mistakes? Did you want Israel to give up the Golan in the 1990’s? Had Israel actually given it up for ‘peace’, just what would that peace look like with Syria in pieces and ISIS on the border? If things go wrong, do you accept responsiblity and take action or do you shrug your shoulders, walk away and simply let the Jews sweep the blood of the streets.
For these reasons, I discard automatically all talk of a one state solution. It is not of ‘this world’; these days even ‘one Europe’ is placing borders between countries.
I also accept that Jews have an intimate connection to the land but you would also have to accept the same for Palestinians.
It is good you have acknowledged the Jewish connection and I clearly accept the historical fact that Arabs were living (not called Palestinians back then) as a majority on the land prior to Zionism and indeed continued to hold majority status in many regions of British Palestine up until the founding of Israel. Facts are facts.
You say that Israel has returned land in the past like the Sinai which is true but it’s not like Israel had a legitimate claim to this land anyway. So likewise, if Israel were to disengage from the territories captured in 1967 admittedly with some land swaps but this would have to include the dismantling of some of the settlements deep into Palestinian land to ensure that a future Palestine can be a functioning contiguous state with some link to Gaza by highway or train. Remove the economic blockade and the illegal wall and define your borders with agreement.
This is effectively part of the outline of the deal that the Palestinians already rejected. You are not far from what many Israelis believe is a fair solution. With these types of discussions, you and I could solve the conflict between us over coffee. Do not forget the Israeli peace camp collapsed because they felt betrayed by the Palestinians with the outbreak of the intifada in 2000. I was in Ramallah in 2000, and why they chose the road they did, I will never understand. If the Palestinians were to present themselves as willing to seriously negotiate, I believe the Israelis would respond. At the moment Netanyahu’s (and no, I do not have to be a fan of his) offer of unconditional peace talks remains answered only with knives.
I would however ask you to consider what happened in Gaza, because you reference dismantling settlements and mentioned Gaza earlier. In 2005, Israel did pull out of Gaza and dismantled settlements. It was seen as ‘historic’ and ‘a joyful day’ by the Palestinian leadership. Within days of the complete pull-out, rockets were fired into Israel, leading to another round of fighting and the blockade you speak of was not set in place until later. The blockade did not lead to the violence; the blockade was a response to it. Should Israel accept sporadic rocket fire as a price to be paid? Would the UK sit quietly whilst the residents of Portsmouth and Southampton spent their time in shelters?
I would ask you this. If the Palestinians only want peace, and with them having seen Israel completely pull out of Gaza and dismantle settlements, forcibly evicting settlers, why didn’t they take the opportunity to show how it could work. Why the violence?
I understand that the right of return will not be accepted but there needs to be a compensation package for those who were displaced in 1948.
And this is where it all falls down. Even setting aside the issue of compensation for the moment. You cannot promise me that this is the end of the conflict. Since 1949 the Palestinian refugees have been used and abused by the Arabs. Instead of resettling them (notice the Syrian refugees have no such problem with resettlement), the Arabs nations specifically and deliberately decided to create a problem that would not go away. They refused to resettle the refugees, with Lebanon for example, putting them into camps far worse than anything inside Israel (there is real Apartheid there). Between 1949 and 1967 why weren’t some refugees resettled into the West Bank? Why didn’t the Arab nations gather together to solve the refugee problem?
It is clear to everyone that these refugees are not ‘going home’, but who is going to tell them? What makes you think that leader will live through a week when he does, and why do you think these refugees will accept such a solution? Isn’t it far more likely that we will end up with 2 states and terror groups outside and inside the borders made up of refugees who refuse to accept the deal? The right of return is the sticking point and why Palestinian leaders keep walking away from the negotiating table. It is a problem of the Arabs own making and one that has stuck them in this awful stalemate. It is why some Arabs have changed tactic and begun once more to peddle the One State Solution; they want Israel to swallow the bitter pill that the Arabs themselves created.
As for compensation. Will the Jewish refugees also get compensation? My wife’s father was forced out of Egypt and made to donate all his possessions, his business, his home before he left. Does he get compensation? 850,000 Arab Jews left Arab lands, many of them expelled (not all), many of them sent penniless, with the Arab states taking their possessions. 850,000. Do you feel they also deserve compensation or is it only the Palestinians? Does it make a difference that Israel absorbed all these refugees whilst the Arabs didn’t? Should Israel pay for acting with more ethical behaviour than its neighbours did?
That leaves East Jerusalem which I know is going to be contentious. So it will just have to be shared with full access to all holy sites probably enforced by an international peace keeping force.
We won’t get this far, because we won’t get beyond the issue of the refugees. You cannot give me peace because of them. I suggest that Jerusalem isn’t the sticking point it is an excuse. People who want peace do not find excuses to make war, they make excuses to make sure peace is found. I understand Jersualem seems like it is the problem, but if the Palestinians truly wanted a viable peace that includes Israel, a suitable arrangement for the Jerusalem issue would be found.
In return, the Arab states have promised as pledged in the past, full recognition of the Israeli state and will consider the conflict ended with establishment of full diplomatic and political ties. Now I know you find Hamas abhorrent, but in any conflict, you must talk to your enemies if you are serious about peace.
I have no problem talking to anybody and I am personally more than willing to make massive compromise in return for allowing my children to grow up in peace. I believe over coffee you and I could perhaps sort it out in an hour, unfortunately I also believe you cannot bring with you the will of those you support. And what you have suggested is a formula that has been suggested already, but until the Palestinians can find unity, understand that every delay has cost them dearly, finally find a leader that is strong enough and somehow sell the two state option to the refugees, I cannot see a solution to this conflict over the short term. I hope on this last point I am wrong and once again, I do thank you for your comment.
11 thoughts on “A response on the Israel conflict”
Thank-you for sharing this comment and your detailed response to it. I hope the commenter comes back and share with us his or her reactions to your response.
David – Another great blog entry (where do you find the time?). My first observation was how rare it feels for someone to articulate their points against Israel / for the Palestinian cause in a sensible, approachable way. I commend the guy for doing this, as I rarely encounter folk who care to take the time to ask the question and wait for the answer. With more people willing to discuss, it’s clear this conflict would have more of a fighting chance of resolution (no pun intended). And some of his points I thought, “Ok, fair enough”. But your analysis and counter-points really hit home with me, many of which I hadn’t quite considered. I felt, if I could learn this counter argument word for word, I could confidently counter most accusations that come my way against Israel when discussing this fiery topic. Cheers.
I have just read the whole article and I admire both the guy putting over his arguments in a calm measured way and your counter arguments which are superb. I would urge anyone to take the time to read it. So refreshing to see a good debate without personal attacks and very illuminating .
Thank you for your detailed response David
I too would be grateful if you could extend the same courtesy to me and allow me the time to carefully consider the points that you have raised, before I respond to the specific issues that you have highlighted.
As for now, Imam Shafi (one of the most renowned scholars of early Islam) would say that when discussing a matter, nothing would give him more pleasure than hearing the truth manifest on the others tongue. I think in Judaism he would be the equivalent of a prominent sage like Rashi.
So in any genuine attempt to understand the other, one must be willing to reconsider their own position. And I would hope that you too share this sentiment. I have no interest in point scoring other than exploring the potential middle ground even with those that I may disagree with. It is for this reason that I decided to comment on your blog as let’s be honest, we are from different sides of the political spectrum on this issue. If I wanted to stay in my comfort zone, I would have posted on the electronic intifada site.
But is it inevitable that we will always be on the opposite side of the battle lines with you waving your Israeli flag and I on the other side in solidarity with the Palestinian cause exchanging unpleasantries?
And yes, sometimes these are vile and utterly condemnable but If I see a slogan that says “Hitler was right” I assure you that I shall be the first to challenge the one who holds it. In that exchange with the lady in the video, I would be with the Jew who is challenging her even though we may have political differences.
I’m not sure if it’s going to be possible but from my point of view, I would like to think it’s not from the want of trying.
And if you are serious about that coffee, then I should be more than willing to take you up on the offer.
I live in the UK in Birmingham in a predominantly Multi-Ethnic Muslim neighbourhood so you are not going to meet many Zionists here to be discussing this over a coffee.
And let’s not forget if you don’t already know (at least according to Fox News that is) Birmingham has already become an Islamic state enforcing Shariah with no go areas for the non-Muslim infidels. Just one example of the anti-Islam hysteria that had become common place these days.
Thanks again David
Thank you again for your comments. It isn’t often (as you probably know yourself) that people who stand on different sides with such a gulf between them, cordially exchange opinions or truly ‘listen’ to the other side. I too avoid the comfort zone and am more likely to be listening to Pappe than a Zionist speaker who is unlikely to say anything I have not heard before. I am in London, but if the opportunity were to arise (here or there), would truly welcome chatting with you over coffee. In the meantime, take your time and post when you feel you are ready to respond. We are on opposite sides, and will no doubt remain so, but it does not mean we will not find a way of each gaining a little understanding from the exchange.
Following careful consideration of your post, I would first of all at least acknowledge that we are in agreement on some matters. The fact that you recognise that there does exist an occupation is in itself, a significant hurdle crossed.
In the spirit of honest engagement, I too shall attempt to address some of the issues that you have raised in response to my original comment. However, my motive is not to get into a combative argument and counter argument situation bur rather, as you say “find a way of each gaining a little understanding from the exchange”.
I think we both recognise that any historical narrative is tainted with the viewpoint of the one writing it and you do concede that this bias exists on both sides. However, in defence of Illan Pappe, he actually recognises this while Benny Morriss seems to suggest that he is an objective reconstructer of the past, not affected by ideology or Politics. Your objection to the use of the word ‘Impossible’ cited from Pappe’s work is fair comment but this does not necessarily detract from the central message being conveyed.
Both of us are affected by this too so you write as a Zionist that “the creation of a Jewish homeland was a historical morally justifiable necessity” and you are right again to assume that I don’t. These opposite narratives ultimately affect the way in which we look back at history.
The historical truth that the “Arabs rejected Balfour, rejected the mandate, rejected Zionism, rejected Jewish immigration, rejected partition, rejected Israel’s declaration of independence” is precisely constructed around your central tenet that the creation of a Jewish state in an area inhabited with an Arab majority for centuries was morally justifiable so by definition any rejection of this is regarded as morally unjustifiable. You know that I hold an opposite position so rejection of these tenets at the time was not only justifiable but inevitable.
However, in the spirit of moving half an inch, I can while disagreeing with it understand the sentiments of Zionism wishing to establish a Jewish nation to be masters of your own destiny in the midst of persecution and oppression. I get it David and my objection is not because of this sentiment which is certainly noble and admirable in itself or that I cannot stomach the creation of a Jewish state. The opposition is inevitable only because it required the displacement of another people already living there. While you regard Arab opposition as an aggression to your Zionism, might you be able to also move just half a mm and at least acknowledge or understand that their rejection was inevitable at the time. And neither do I insult you by asking why you didn’t create your state in Europe somewhere. I understand that the holy land is an intrinsic part of the Judaic faith and some of its central prayers evoke a longing to return to Jerusalem.
But likewise, Al-Quds and Masjid Aqsa is not only sacred to Palestinians alone but all Muslims. I even think the site can be shared as I for one, cannot see any obvious objection to Jews not praying on the Temple Mount as both faiths are fundamentally monotheistic but the issue is obviously one of trust. While not official Israeli policy, there are some Jewish groups who actively call for the Mosque’s destruction and the construction of the third temple so Muslims do fear the prospect of it being destroyed whether the threat is real or imagined.
With regard to propaganda which is essentially the presenting of facts selectively to further a particular agenda or point of view in order to influence an audience. So let’s take the example of the 3 graphs you present with the view that “those telling the truth have to use them too” and I’ll show how easily the facts can be subverted to show another point of view.
Graph 1 depicting the holocaust and the killing of 6 million Jews. I shall produce a graph depicting all casualties in World War 2 approximately 60 million people, depicting 6 million Jews as a small percentage of the overall number. (Note: I am just illustrating an example here and I do not intend to diminish the lives lost in the holocaust which I do not deny).
Graph 2 showing the reduction of Mizrahi Jews in Arab lands, I shall depict not as an ethnic cleansing but the willing Alaya of people migrating to Israel who encouraged and welcomed their flight to create the Jewish majority.
Graph 3 will show the population of Arabs and Jews living in the land that became Israel from 1880 to 1948 and the sharp decrease in Arab population from anywhere between 700,000 to 800,000 I shall depict as Ethnic cleansing.
Then I shall too write that THE FACTS ARE SIMPLE, CLEAR AND OBVIOUS.
While we both concede and accept that there are ample examples on both sides of deeply offensive comments made against Jews and Arabs, I do not accept your assertion that anti-semitism is the driving force for people being present at pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Let’s take the example of a pro-Israeli demonstration and some of the people there were from the EDL shouting anti-Muslim slogans. Then I shall accept that these individuals alone were not there about Israel at all, without making sweeping generalisations that most of those present were not for the very cause that the demonstration was about. And while you will also find Jews amongst the pro-Palestinian protestors, the notion that they too are anti-semitic or self-hating Jews seems to me to be a disingenuous attempt to discredit legitimate protest against the policies of the Israeli state. And while you acknowledge that you are finely tuned to recognise anti-semitism, could it occasionally be too finely tuned to misunderstand legitimate criticism as bigotry.
As for murderers of civilians being condemned in Israel while being celebrated in the Palestinian community, I cannot say if this is widespread and if it is, I do wish this was not so and I cannot begin to explain this phenomenon. If on the other hand you say that Baruch Goldstein is a hero only to a select few, if the political situation were reversed and it was the Jews living under occupation, is it feasible that those select few which I am unable to substantiate would significantly increase in number? Is this at all possible David? If you flatly reject this, then that is your opinion but I would not be so sure. I think we may find our answer if we look at the atrocities of Zionist terrorist groups targeting civilians prior to Israel’s creation and ask ourselves, are the perpetrators regarded as heroes or not in contemporary Israeli society,
Also David, and I honestly ask you this question as you are someone who has spent many years in Israel and no doubt have many Israeli friends. A lot of these indiscriminate stabbings have taken place inside Israel. So these are either Israeli Arabs or Arabs permitted to live in East Jerusalem. If as you claim, the Arabs inside Israel are the most free in the Arab world, what is causing this resentment that leads someone to do this? I am sure that you are far more intelligent than just resorting to the idea that they simply hate Jews.
As for the recent military campaign in Gaza from July to August 2014, euphemistically known as Operation Protective Edge, many people around the world were horrified at what they saw as an extremely disproportionate use of force against a largely civilian population. This is what brings people out on the street in protest not because of some inherent anti-Semitism which was my original point. Various polls at the time show that anywhere between 85 to 95% of the Israeli population considered the action to be completely justified and many insisting that Israel had not gone far enough. This is certainly the rule and not the exception David.
With regard to using the example of the Sderot picnic as being highly selective, point accepted David. I guess we can all be victim of resorting to propaganda talk so I obviously need to strive harder not to fall into this trap so thank you for pointing this out.
As for what difference the Muslims have made now that tens of millions of us have moved to the West, I’m not sure what your objection is here. I am not suggesting that we have not had a contributing factor. However, I do think that you are somewhat overstating our influence as the sea change in public opinion would not be possible without the occupation and the Israeli policies that sustain it. We live in an increasingly literate society and people are taking the time to research and read for themselves about the causes of the conflict to make up their own minds.
All groups have the right to campaign and lobby to further their interests in an open and free society. The Jewish community considering its representative low population, has significant representation in the highest corridors of power, especially in the US. I think we as Muslims have significant catching up to do on this front. Now please do not misunderstand me David as by pointing this out, I am not alluding to some Jewish conspiracy that Jews run the world akin to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. If you think what I have said here is not factual , I shall be happy to reconsider.
Also, I don’t know what you mean about how schools with Muslim pupils are teaching the conflict and how this differs from how it was taught 20 years ago. Are you suggesting that there is a specific way that the conflict should be taught? This seems rather alarmist and sensationalist on your part David based on anecdotal evidence rather than any substance.
This conflict is not going to be taught in schools like World War 2 where there are the Allied forces as the good guys and the Nazis as the clear enemy. In fact, I’m a product of the Great British Education system and I was never taught about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at school. If you are suggesting that there is only a particular narrative or way that the conflict should be taught, then that sounds very much like indoctrination of our children to me David. For my children, I would want them to be taught about Israeli independence as a joyous and momentous achievement for the Zionists alongside the tragic experience of the Nakba for the Palestinians so they have a healthy understanding of both narratives. I agree that I would not want them to be taught the narrative of what Palestinian children learn in the occupied territories exclusively, no more than I would want them to learn about what Israeli children are taught about the conflict in School. Now again, I proceed with caution as I do not know any Israeli children and I have only made this judgement based on accounts that I have read from conscientious objectors from Israel who refuse to serve in the IDF and claim that they were not taught anything about the occupation at Israeli school.
As for the events of 1948, as suspected, we are unlikely to agree. Israeli archives from prominent Zionist leaders including David Ben-Gurion show that even before 1948, the idea of Arab expulsion was inbuilt into the Zionist project. I have read your blogs David and I know you are well aware of this but you claim that these were taken out of context and in your view it’s the Arabs who chose to fight first. For me, resistance from the Arabs was a justifiable consequence of fearing expulsion which is exactly what happened so this fear was certainly not unfounded.
As for the refugees, I can accept that it is a natural consequence of war for some civilians to leave. However, the notion that most of the 700-800,000 left voluntarily is too convenient an explanation for it to be plausible. You also acknowledge that the Zionists did expel hostile villages by force but I’m not sure how you have concluded which villages were hostile as opposed to passive and that Zionist forces were very selective in the villages that were targeted. Also, it’s not like Israel ever allowed these refugees to return as their removal was an intrinsic requirement to create the Jewish majority. Even to this day, Israel is obsessed with demographics and maintaining this majority. I will at least concede, that neither of us can be entirely convinced that our version of events is exactly what happened with absolute certainty. I on the other hand, believe that my version of events is the most plausible explanation based on the documentary archives and for you it is not so I’m not sure we are going to move much on this particular point.
The notion that this conflict would never have started if the Arabs only wanted peace and security is as simplistic as me saying that the conflict would never have started if Zionists did not want to create a Jewish nation at the expense of the people already living there. I’m not sure how you cannot accept that the idea itself to create a Jewish nation on land already inhabited would not inevitably result in resistance and opposition.
I have no problem in confessing that the Arabs have atrocious leaders even to this day who have not served the interests of their people but it does not follow from this that only an Arab leader that was complicit with the Zionist project would truly be in the interest of the Arabs in the region. Now I can accept that the Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini may have made grave mistakes and even incited violence against the Jews. But the state of Arab leaders across the Middle East does not absolve Israel of its international obligations to the Palestinians that live in the occupied territories.
As for why no Palestine from 1949 to 1967 which is a common charge, you are conveniently ignoring the context of the time and placing it in the framework of today. If the Arabs opposed the 1947 partition, I’m not sure how you would expect them to suddenly accept only a few years later the land taken in 1948 which constituted even more territory than mandated by UN resolution 181.
As for Oslo, this was a disaster for the Palestinians as it did not address any of the key issues such as settlements, borders and refugees. In the words of Edward Said it was “an instrument of Palestinian surrender, a Palestinian Versailles”.
You say that Palestinians only want peace on their own terms which condemns everyone to perpetual war, explained in the context of suicide attacks but I shall not trade atrocities with you as it is neither helpful nor constructive. What is ironic is that the Palestinians will also claim that the Israelis only want peace on their terms and preserve the occupation that sustains the conflict. I did say that it is only human nature to fight back although I do not believe that armed conflict is in the best interest of the Palestinian cause. As for whether my understanding works both ways, then yes it is also human nature that the Jews fought but I do not agree with your premise that the Arabs simply began murdering the Jews in the beginning and that is how the conflict started without recognising that Zionism was a contributing factor to the violence.
And while the very notion of Zionism and the establishment of a Jewish only state are somewhat incompatible with the notion of a secular democracy, I could not help find your refusal to deal with this somewhat disappointing. First of all, I accept that Israel has created for itself an innovative, educated, dynamic and industrious nation. But I am not envious of it no more than I am envious of the Japanese or the Germans for doing the same after the Second World War. As for one state and why I think it would be different from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the like is precisely because you pride yourself on being a successful secular nation. If as you say, Israeli Arabs are the most free in the region, then why would extending those rights to other Arabs in the occupied territories mean an automatic degradation of the state? However, I do accept the possibility that bringing two people together who have been enemies for so long would be an extremely uneasy transition. But I know the prospect of one state is as unrealistic as the refugees of 1948 returning to their historic homeland.
As for Gaza, then again our narratives differ as you fail to mention the attempted coup to oust Hamas who won the Palestinian legislative election in 2006. The blockade many see as being a collective punishment against the Palestinians for making the mistake of electing Hamas and not the rockets. There have been long periods where there has been no rocket fire but this does not equate to the ease of the blockade. And yes, no doubt you would ask what UK would do if Portsmouth was being targeted by rockets while ignoring the conditions that prevailed in nearby Isle of Wight where the people lived in virtually an open air prison, cut off from the outside world facing a land, air and sea embargo.
Returning to the refugees, their displacement was as a result of Zionism so it would seem only right that Israel should compensate them and reconcile this part of its uncomfortable past. The Arab leaders of neighbouring countries have largely failed their own people so why would we expect them to do any better for the Palestinians. As for the Jews from Arab lands, their coming to Israel was actually a benefit to the Israeli state and in its interest to further bolster the Jewish numbers which cannot be said the other way round. It was Zionism that inevitably led to this and these people as far as I know, do not seek repatriation to their Arab countries of origin. If you claim to be acting more ethical than your Arab neighbours, is not compensation a cheap price to pay in exchange for peace? It is only money after all. And I know you regard this as some equitable exchange of populations but this was in the interest of Zionist goals at the expense of the Palestinian refugees.
Now you talk about not making excuses but sadly I detect much of the same excuses in your response. And finding excuses to make war seems to be an unfair charge against the Palestinians. I accept that the Arabs did not accept partition and remained in opposition to the creation of the Israeli state which I don’t think personally was surprising as to what any people (who had been living in the land as a majority for centuries) would have done. Yes David, you won the war in 1948 and again in 1967 which was regarded as a foregone conclusion. In the case of the 67 war, the then US secretary of defence Robert Mcnamara predicted that Israel would win within 7-10 days. You were never in any danger due to your far superior military capability and this judgement was vindicated by your resounding victory within 6 days.
The occupation is now almost 50 years old and I can accept that Arab leaders have made many mistakes. And while you have largely been victorious in achieving your Zionist aims, it is the Palestinians who will largely have to compromise in establishing a state (if it will ever come to pass) on less than 22% of mandate Palestine. And all the while, the land is still being colonised by many settlements in the West Bank to which there is no commitment from Israel to cease. The Palestinians have shown a commitment to compromise on even this while it seems to be Israel that is not willing to give up on the regions it calls Judaea and Samaria.
You are a nation that prides itself on being a beacon in the region and to some degree you certainly are for your own citizens in comparison to others in the region. However, how would you best describe the state of affairs for the people you rule over in the occupied territories that are not citizens but governed by military laws dictated by a state that is not theirs. I shall not insult you by claiming that it is an Apartheid but it certainly is not the normal way in which modern secular countries behave. And yes, there are other nations in the region that even I as a Muslim would not fair too well in but we expect better from Israel precisely because you model yourself on being a thriving modern secular state.
It is Israel that has the power and so it is only right that we should want to demand more from Israel to settle the conflict. However, you seem to suggest that you have no partner for peace although for many years now, Palestinians have shown a genuine desire for peace and willingness to make most of the compromises. And while the reality of occupation has largely remained, I cannot help but to defend their right to resist but I do not believe that armed resistance is in the best interest of the Palestinians to achieve their aims. But even where non-violent protest is employed, the conditions that breed resentment still remain. And while you have spent much time in the occupied territories including Ramallah, are you really telling me that the Palestinians do not want peace for their children and prefer conflict over security? And if so, in your own words, is this the rule or exception in Palestinian society?
So I too am a realist and I do not see an immediate solution to this conflict in the short term and while you continue to blame this on the continued rejection of the Palestinians, I sincerely believe that Israel could have peace if it was supported by the will of its people but it has chosen expansion over security. So I note that you did not really respond to the third solution that I describe in my original comment where Israel continues to build settlements cutting off the Palestinians in non contiguous enclaves and unilaterally annexes the land, effectively becoming part of a greater Israel. This only perpetuates ongoing conflict as the non-existence of the Palestinian people is as unlikely as the non-existence of Israel.
I have also thought about what makes Israeli’s by and large unsympathetic towards the Palestinian plight. Could it have something to do with your history which is undoubtedly plagued by pogroms and persecution, some of which has been committed by people who share the same faith as me? The ever constant reminder of the holocaust and the notion that Israel always faces some existential enemy seems to be embedded in the Israeli psyche. ‘Never again’ is the motto so Palestinians by extension are the modern day Nazis who wish to drive all the Jews into the sea and those who support them Nazi collaborators. That you cannot rely on anyone else to protect you as you were abandoned by and large in the past so you can never let your fate be decided by others be that the UN, International law or even the United States, your greatest ally. I think I get it David and could this explain why so many Israeli’s see the military actions against Palestinians as completely justified when many neutral observers tend to see it as oppressive to the extent that they feel sufficiently outraged to protest and demonstrate.
While I read back some of what I have written, I did want to avoid a counter argument treatise which some of this has become but old habits die hard. No doubt, you would disagree with much of it as we are on opposite sides and will remain so but I have seriously thought about what can be done to bridge the gap with Zionists as it can only be people such as yourself that can contribute to Israel taking a different course. I think that many of our actions can alienate Israeli society and we must truly consider if what we do actually benefits the Palestinian cause or does more harm. We do not have to agree on everything to at least learn something from the exchange.
And finally, I do not seek the destruction of Israel even as a Jewish nation which you have fought so hard to achieve even though I may disagree as to whether the means to achieve it were justified or legitimate. I genuinely accept that Israel is a vibrant and successful nation but it would be far greater if it could take the difficult steps required to achieve peace with the Palestinians. This is ultimately in Israel’s own interest and that of its future generations.
Kind Regards David
I am responding and I do apologise it is taking so long. I wrote up most of a reply quite a while ago, but with all that has been happening I haven’t had a chance to clean it up. Someone commented to be about this particular exchange today and it reminded me that I do need to finish the piece I put together.
That’s quite alright David
I can see that you have been busy following Kaufman’s speech at Westminster.
So I thought you might not have the time to respond.
I look forward to reading it when you have the time as a means of furthering my knowledge and understanding of the issue.
There is certainly much to learn and I can’t claim to be right on everything so I’m always willing to hear the other side.
I have reviewed this on your recommendation and find it deeply inaccurate:
>>>Do not forget the Israeli peace camp collapsed because they felt betrayed by the Palestinians
>>>with the outbreak of the intifada in 2000. I was in Ramallah in 2000, and why they chose
>>>the road they did, I will never understand.
It is actually very, very easy to understand. The palestinians had made massive efforts to be occupied peacefully even as israel continued to grab their land and, finally, we get negotiations. The opening position of Palestine was withdrawal of israeli occupation forces with limited land swaps and israeli control of the temple mount. This was completely ignored.
The israeli position, the end position after, according to Clinton, a great deal of ‘compromise’, was “Give us 27% of your land, we may withdraw from some more later, or we will not stop attacking you.”
Obtaining land by force or threat of force, (AKA armed robbery), and was completely illegal.
After everything palestine had done for peace israel kicked them in the teeth.
And you don’t understand the anger?
Don’t forget, after a few months of the intifada Barak was actually prepared to agree a legal peace treaty in January in Taba. Then walked out. The butcher who replaced him flatly refused to start the negotiations at the same place so kicking palestine in the teeth even more.
(I call him ‘the butcher’ because he murdered a gentile village in Gaza. And was then honoured with promotions in the army and finally became PM. This is how israel honour mass murderers of children.)
Lesson for the palestinians? Peace and reasonable lead to israel demanding more and more from you, aggression and violence and israel will actually consider obeying international law.
>>>The right of return is the sticking point and why Palestinian leaders keep walking
>>>away from the negotiating table.
Say what?! When was this? Camp David 2000 the primary sticking point was israel’s illegal demands for land. Taba 2001 it was israel who walked out.
2008 it was the deliberate spanner of ‘recognise israel as a jewish state before we’ll even consider recognising palestine’ thrown in by Olmert when they started to get to a place where a deal could be reached.
What talks collapsed because of refugees?
Pretty much full agreement there.
It said Aoun was reacting to recent remarks in a letter at the United Nations by Israel’s U.N.
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