October 01
Male, Jewish, in my extremely early sixties, married with kids (well, at this point I guess that should be "kid"). Thanks to Lezlie for avatar artwork - sort of a translation of my screen name. "Salaam" is peace in Arabic, hence the peace sign. (No, my name doesn't mean "hunk of meat" and yes, the pun is intentional.)


Koshersalaami's Links
APRIL 4, 2011 2:39AM

Maligned Israelis, Maligned Muslims

Rate: 14 Flag

There are two issues I'm inclined to post about at the moment. I couldn't decide between them, so I've decided to post about both.

Maligned Israelis

People all over the world who condemn Israel are familiar with the Goldstone Report. This report was issued by the UN concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. It claimed that Israel was guilty of killing Palestinian civilians deliberately and that Hamas was guilty of killing Israeli civilians deliberately. The Israelis were furious about the report given the amount of effort they devote to avoiding the killling of civilians, something they commit more resources to than any other government I know of ever has, though they regarded it as typical of the way they are treated by the UN, which is why they didn't cooperate with Richard Goldstone while he was writing it.

This weekend, Richard Goldstone wrote a remarkable article in the Washington Post. In it, he says that subsequent information has indicated to him that it is unlikely that the Israelis deliberately killed civilians. The Israelis have researched in depth every event he alluded to and he has been given access to their work. In spite of repeated requests, Hamas has not given him any information at all, not surprising given that Hamas is proud of killing Israeli civilians and has no reason to investigate any episode.

Here, of course, is the link:

I forwarded this to my rabbi and to my father, among others. My rabbi sent me an article from the Jerusalem Post which said, in essence, exactly what my father said:

Everyone cared about the report. Only Jews will care about the retraction.

My guess, unfortunately, is that many will allude to the Goldstone Report during the upcoming movement in the UN to recognize Palestine as a state. While I think that Palestinian statehood in the long run is both inevitable and desirable, I think that the discredited claims made in the original report will color the debate involved pretty heavily. The damage is done and may very well be irreversable.

 Thanks to Old New Lefty for bringing this article to my attention.

Maligned Muslims

Do you remember the Rev. Terry Jones, head of a small church in Florida who threatened to burn a Quran last year, then said he wouldn't? Well, on March 20, he held a mock trial for the Quran at his church, it was found "guilty" and the Quran was indeed burned.

As you can imagine, this has led to quite a reaction. A number of Afghans were furious with America about this; however, there were no Americans handy, so they attacked a UN compound in Northern Afghanistan and killed seven people, including four Nepalese guards and three Europeans. The Afghan police have been investigating. There have been other deaths in Afghanistan at protests over the burning. (There were initial reports of beheadings at the UN compound but they are apparently not true.)

I notice two things about this event. The first is the sheer extremity of the acts themselves; I have nothing further to say about that because it's self-evident. The second is the logic used to justify the acts. It is the logic that concerns me here.

Who in their right mind would hold all the citizens of a highly diverse nation of over 300 million people responsible for the actions of a few intolerant zealots on the fringe? In this case, even this logic wasn't flimsy enough: In the end, any foreigner would do.

What kind of fundamentally unreasonable crazies use such logic? Well, if the protests surrounding the Ground Zero Mosque are any indication, we do. I am NOT saying that the scale of how we have conducted our protests and how they have conducted theirs is in any way comparable; however, I am saying that the logic behind who they targeted to protest and who we targeted to protest is more than comparable.

It is identical.

Imam Rauf (of the Ground Zero Mosque) basically asks: Who in their right mind would hold all the adherents of a highly diverse faith of over a billion and a half people responsible for the actions of a few intolerant zealots on the fringe?

Good question.

My answer:

No one in their right mind would.

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I haven't saved this stuff so it would take some looking because I don't remember dates. I'd start with testimony given by a British officer working for the UN in Lebanon reporting about the Israeli reaction to the Hezbollah cross-border kidnapping and subsequent murder of an Israeli soldier. There are documented instances of the Israeli Air Force dropping millions of leaflets on Gaza announcing up front which targets they were going to bomb in order to allow civilians to evacuate. There's aerial footage on YouTube of the aftermath of one such event: Armed men were spotted herding civilians Into a building targeted; the Israelis bombed the empty building next door, then they counted the number of people fleeing the targeted building; when the number coming out equaled the number that had gone in, they bombed. (A small explosion was followed by a much larger one when the arms cache stored in the targeted building ignited.) There's a news report of the Israelis assassinating a target in Gaza by having helicopters shoot rockets into a pair of second story windows, killing the target but not harming anyone on the first or third floors. There's even the bombing of the nuclear installation in Iraq many years ago, done at night with, I believe, a single casualty. There are more examples than this. I don't know of any other military that would bother with stuff like this; I know of no other air force leafleting targets, for example. We all know about civilians getting killed in American rocket attacks on various houses in Afghanistan; we haven't heard of their targeting a single floor of a building rather than just bombing the building. The Israelis also have a record of investigating events involving the killing of civilians (and we're not talking about things on the scale of My Lai here), including every instance reported on by the Goldstone Report, per Goldstone. A few years ago in a highly publicized case, a Palestinian boy on video was killed in a gunfight on the West Bank. The Israelis took responsibility and began an investigation, only to conclude months later that none of their men had the angle to make the shot at any point during the gunfight, meaning the boy was killed by friendly fire. The conclusion didn't do them much good internationally because their guilt was already established by their faulty admission at the time. Like with Goldstone, everyone remembers the initial event but no one paid attention to the conclusion.

Sorry I don't have the hard data handy. I've just kept track of news in real time. If you'd like, I can see if I can find contemporary reports on some of this stuff.
The British officer's name is Richard Kemp. Here is his testimony before the United Nations. Please keep in mind that the British government is not particularly pro-Israel, as the American government certainly is.
I think regarding the matter of burning the Koran by these nutjobs, that when you inflame thousands of uneducated people in the Mosques they worship in, this is what you get. I doubt most of these people can even read, yet they are bombarded with "the great Satan America" burning their Korans. These are the people that should be arrested and charged with murder, these Mullahs or whatever that know what they are doing. We've spent 500 billion dollars in Afghanistan and are less liked now that when we went. When do we call this a lost cause? It's been over 10 years. Maybe 10 more? 20? We cannot continue in this policy of nation building. Libya, Oye Vey! (misspelled I know). I hope you got my PM concerning the other matter.
I don't know why we're still there as I no longer know what our mission actually is. Nation building isn't working and I didn't think was our mandate to begin with. Arresting the mullahs wouldn't help because you're dealing with a population that views martyrdom as an incentive. Essentially, you've got to give the general population enough of an alternative for the mullahs to become less relevant. What that really means, ultimately, is putting them in a less humiliated position. The worse they feel about themselves, the more extreme religion becomes a viable alternative for feeling good about themselves because they can feel superior to those who are less observant, regardless of their other circumstances.
Got the PM and the spelling is transliterated anyway so hard to get wrong - Yiddish is written in Hebrew alphabet.
1. What makes you think it is my opinion that everything Israel does is groovy? It isn't. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I've posted about this subject a lot of times previously. I think they get certain things right and I think Hamas is basically evil, but I don't think that about Fatah and I certainly don't think that about Palestinians in general.
2. My comment on your blog was a refutation of flame wars, not a refutation of your stand on flame wars. I did read what you wrote.
I appreciate that.
I am convinced, Kosh, the world's total destruction will be brought on by the war of carefully chosen words strung together to create Lies of Mass Destruction.

"What kind of fundamentally unreasonable crazies use such logic?"

Humans... we are a barbarous and zealous lot. Israeli's and Palestinian's. Same people separated by different religions. It's sick, and neither is less culpable when it comes to murder.
Great, important ost. r.
If it comes to that, probably.

While I don't think either side is blameless by any stretch of the imagination, I don't believe there is moral symmetry here, particularly when it comes to murder. That's actually the point. What Goldstone now concludes is that he doesn't believe that the Israelis are trying to kill Palestinian civilians but that Hamas is trying to kill Israeli civilians.

Thank you. You're why I posted the first part of this.

Nuclear capabilities are both practically and theoretically useless here; practically because the Israelis would have to be facing total national destruction before they'd consider use and theoretically because all of Israel would get hit by fallout with use at that close range. Nukes are completely beside the point.

I don't equate Hamas with the Palestinian people. As I've said previously on my blog, I think the Palestinians have gotten a raw deal from a whole lot of parties, one of which is Israel. The more I know about Hamas, however, the less I think of them.

There are a lot of ways to conduct a revolution. Most of them entail military/government targets and some entail non-violent resistance, not blowing up buses full of civilians; walking into a pizza parlor while wearing a bomb and noticing that fully half the people in the room are children, then detonating anyway; blowing up a Passover seder comprised primarily of the elderly in a hotel ballroom, etc. If I were involved in a revolution, that's not how I'd respond; nor do I think it's how you would respond. This is absolutely not "the only tactic they have".

Not all of Hamas' victims are Israelis. David Lieberman, another OSer who I haven't seen post in a while, blogged a piece on their setting fire to a childrens' camp set up in Gaza by the UN on the grounds that it allowed girls. I've seen video on YouTube of Fatah members (the other Palestinian political party) who were found in Gaza and had their knees shot out - some of them ended up in Israel getting fitted for special German-made prosthetic legs; their faces are blocked out of the video so that Hamas doesn't find their identities. If you look above at my first comment, you'll see an account of their forcing civilians into a building that the Israelis leafleted them that they were about to bomb.

Then of course there's the fact that while Israel has Muslims in Knesset (parliament), no portion of the Palestinian government allows Jews as residents under their rule at all.

I'm not excusing the Israelis here as I believe they're wrong a lot of the time but we're not looking at moral symmetry between them and Hamas. I sympathize with the Gazan population for being currently stuck with that kind of leadership and I hope they find away around it in the long run.
I heard some Israeli official describing this unfairness. She said this is what we always see on TV, especially on Aljazeera: an Israeli tank and Palestinian children. I am going to say it again. I think Israel must put an end to this. Either go in take Hamas out and force a deal or give in and make another deal. But time is not in Israel's best interest, especially when it comes to its image.

The Afghans who committed these murders are just animals. Islam does not condone the murder of the innocent. This unique reaction took place only in Afghanistan and was done by Afghans. It has Afghans written all over it, not Islam. R
First of all, glad you're back.

I don't think Israel has a lot of options when it comes to Gaza. It's difficult to take out Hamas because Hamas uses human shields. Israel can't give Hamas what it wants because what it wants is to dismantle Israel. The best they've been able to do is use intelligence to find who's responsible for terrorism and kill them as surgically as possible (meaning with as little collateral damage as possible). It's odd that Israel's problems with Gaza are so much worse than with the West Bank because Israel has no settlements in Gaza. Israel's interest in Gaza is defensive - if Hamas stopped killing Israelis, there would be no point to the blockade.

Regarding the killings in Afghanistan: I agree completely; in fact, that's my point. In your absence I addressed the issue of painting all of Islam with the terrorist brush in a piece about the Ground Zero Mosque ( Terrorists have no right to speak for Muslims and Islam in general; for us to extend them that right is both immoral and counterproductive. Also, thank you for commenting on this portion of my post. I've noticed almost all the comments so far center on Israel.
Check out the coverage on the website Mondoweiss regarding the Goldstone report. Goldstone's retraction is crap. It was clear he was pressured/threatened into making this weak retraction that is not only inaccurate but doesn't change the substance of the report.

Or read Norman Finkelstein's book "This Time They Went Too Far" in which he talks about how Hamas had set up operations in the basement of a hospital. Israel knew this. Israel targeted several other hospitals but not the one Hamas was operating in. Why is that?

And regarding Israel's so called investigation, it has been done behind closed doors with no transparency. It's like asking Bush/Cheney to investigate their own crimes. Let me guess, the findings will be that there was no wrong doing.
I haven't read the Finkelstein book. You may be right, though if you had a point to make about hospitals being targeted, you're welcome to make it. I'm not automatically justifying Israeli actions.

I'd like to know how to justify Hamas' setting up operations in the basement of a hospital. How exactly isn't this using human shields? It smacks of Hezbollah launching missiles from immediately adjacent to UN installations in Lebanon in the hope that return fire would be viewed as an attack by Israel on the UN.

The part of your comment I don't find credible is that Goldstone retracted his findings due to pressure. From whom? The risks posed to Goldstone are far greater in issuing a retraction than in leaving his original conclusions in place. Far more of the world backs his original position than backs Israel's. If he'd stayed put, his reputation would have been insured; now it's been decimated to most of the people familiar with his report. Threats from Israel? How exactly could any harm come to Goldstone without most of the world immediately holding Israel responsible? What better way to alienate whatever support Israel has left in the UN? This contention just doesn't add. It took more guts to change his conclusions than to keep them. The most credible rationale for this change in position is that his position actually changed, and I can't completely discount his change being motivated by evidence he found credible.

Neither I, nor Finklestein justify Hamas setting up operations in the basement of a hospital. However, what Israel did is akin to a situation where a wanted criminal runs into an elementary school. It would be bad enough to bomb the school to get the fugitive but instead the surrounding schools are bombed and the one with the fugitive is left untouched. And as far as using civilians for human shields, the IDF did that with children. It's in the Goldstone report and wasn't retracted.

With regard to the pressure on Goldstone, it is well documented the pressure he received after the release of the report including not being allowed to attend his sons bar mitzvah. Goldstone is a Zionist and was essentially excommunicated from the Zionist community. There is a good article about it in Electronic Intifada by Ilan Pappe regarding the pressure put on Goldstone. One can only guess the extent of the threats made against him. Ultimately he caved on one relatively minor point regarding intentionality. However, his op ed is so poorly constructed and the arguments are so weak, it appears to have been written by AIPAC. He completely mischaracterizes the McGown-Davis report. See Adam Horowitz from Mondoweiss for specifics on this. The Israeli /AIPAC spin machine is in full force on this one. The problem is, people are tired of their lies. The fact is the Assault on Gaza in 08/09 was a one sided massacre that slaughtered 1400 people, mostly civilians, it used disproportionate force, as well as white phosphorous, depleted uranium and DIME weapons. Israel destroyed schools, hospitals, and a UN headquarters. It is laughable to try to excuse Israel for this immoral wanton destruction.

And another thing, Palestinians live under an illegal occupation and have a right to resist that occupation. You might say they have a right to defend themselves.
Illegally occupied how? Do you mean by virtue of the fact that Israel exists or are you talking specifically about the occupation of Gaza? If I'm going to argue about self-defense, I'd like to know the context you have in mind.

Here are the arguments you don't have to make because I agree with them:

I don't think Israel should have any settlements in the West Bank.
I think the recent decisions about Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem are a terrible idea.
I think that a portion of East Jerusalem has to be set aside as a Palestinian capital for a two-state arrangement to be stable.

Just to take the distractions off the table.
Illegal per international law.

With regard to the specific case of Gaza, Israel exerts effective control over territorial waters and airspace, controls the borders, restricts internal movement due to the "buffer zone" and controls Gaza's supply of electricity, heating oil and petrol. Gaza is recognized as occupied by the UN, US & Int'l Red Cross.

Collective punishment is specifically banned under article 33 of the fourth Geneva Convention. Clearly Israel is targeting the civilians in Gaza to achieve non-military goals. They are punishing them for voting the "wrong way" in the election.
"Clearly?" Daily missiles aimed at Israeli civilians in Sderot over a period of years doesn't strike me as non-military. Inspected shipments have included a lot of arms of a nature that not even the NRA would have the nerve to claim were being imported for target shooting.

With what interest? There are certainly Israelis with religious designs on the West Bank but not many with analogous designs on Gaza, where I know of no sites holy to Jews. The Israelis voluntarily dismantled all their Gaza settlements years ago. Aside from military threats, why on Earth should Israel care what happens in Gaza? For that matter, aside from military threats, why should Israel care about Hamas? By extension, aside from military threats, why would Israel bother punishing the general population for the way they voted?

Occupied what? When it became occupied, in the aftermath of a war whose impetus was an Egyptian military action, it was an occupied or conquered piece of Egypt. Is the UN suggesting that Gaza be returned to Egypt? If not, what nation is the UN suggesting that Gaza be "returned" to? Is the claim that the international status of Gaza has changed while being occupied? How, and to what?

How can Israel control everything that lands in Gaza when Gaza shares a border with another country?

Israel was in fact better off when Gaza was part of Egypt. If Nasser hadn't sealed off Eilat by sealing the Gulf of Aquaba at Sharm El Sheikh in 1967 and if Sadat hadn't launched an attack against Israel on Yom Kippur of 1973, Gaza would still be Egyptian, Muslims would be running other Muslims' lives, and the Arab world wouldn't be forced to watch a population of Jews rule a population of Muslims in a relationship that neither of them really wants.
What do you think motivates some Palestinians in Gaza to launch rockets at Israel? Answer honestly. It's OK if the list is long.

If Palestinians inspected Israeli shipments, say from the US, what do you think they would find, tanks, helicopters, F-16s? Do you think the NRA would use F-16s for target shooting?

As far as Israel's interest in Gaza, I agree, why are they interested. If they have no interest, they should end the occupation and siege on Gaza. Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks, however that doesn't mean using force when other means have not been exhausted, namely ending the occupation.

The UN is saying Gaza should be a part of a sovereign Palestinian state.

As far as control of Gaza, Egypt only controls the one border due to Mubarak's cozy relationship to both Israel and the US. Exit Mubarak and Israel is now pissing its pants.

Do you deny that what Israel is doing to the people of Gaza is collective punishment?
Yes, I deny that it's about collective punishment. The Israelis are trying to get at Hamas. They have no particular interest in the Gazan population in general; that population coming to harm is a public relations problem with no upside.

Do you really think that if the Israelis withdrew all blockades, inspections, etc. in Gaza that the violence would stop? It wouldn't stop, it would increase. Do you know who Hamas is? Their issue with Israel isn't its presence in Gaza, it's its presence in Palestine. You talk about the Israelis exhausting other means. What other means? Unlike with the West Bank, they withdrew every one of their settlements years ago. Particularly with the Iranians anxious to supply anyone who will shoot anything at Israel, the Israelis have intercepted significant arms shipments into Gaza. They limit the importation of building materials because they're afraid those materials will be used in fortifications rather than in civilian applications. They have to inspect everything going into Gaza because there are people smuggling arms into Gaza. All of that is expensive and a pain in the ass - if they didn't need to go through it for security reasons, there would be no reason to bother.

Palestinian problems with Arab neighbors didn't start with Mubarak. From the Egyptian side, the relationship with Israel started with Sadat. On the Jordanian side, Arafat tried to overthrow King Hussein in the very early seventies and had to be defeated militarily.

What do I think motivates Hamas to fire rockets at Israel? The fact that Israel exists and the fact that Sderot is where they can reach. They don't think a Jewish state should exist there and they are dedicated to its elimination. If you're expecting me to say "because of the occupation of Gaza" you'll be disappointed because I think that's putting the cart before the horse; it would be nearly as accurate to say "because of the occupation of Tel Aviv".

Now, I don't think that goal has a whole lot to do with why the Gazans elected them. I think the Gazans elected them for two reasons: 1. They were the most organized party running, and 2. Fatah (the alternative, still in control of the West Bank) was so corrupt during Arafat's lifetime, with Arafat and his cronies robbing the public till blind, that the Gazans got fed up and voted for someone less corrupt. As often happens in the Third World, the alternatives are the Corrupt and the Zealots, and the Gazans eventually got fed up enough to try the Zealots, not because they were Zealots. Fatah reformed after Arafat died.

Negotiating with Fatah makes absolute sense and I think the Israelis are hurting themselves by not doing so more and in more good faith. Negotiating with Hamas is mainly pointless. Accepting whatever the UN is pushing isn't a safe choice for Israel because the UN has disproportionately vilified Israel for years, so the UN is the last entity Israel would trust. There are more UN resolutions against Israel than against any other nation by far, in addition to which Israel is the only UN member that cannot serve on the Security Council. My point isn't that Israel is innocent; my point is that Israel is no guiltier (and in many cases, considerably less guilty) than all sorts of countries who don't see a fraction of the condemnation Israel does and I can't come up with any legitimate reasons for that. On the other hand, I can come up with one screamingly obvious illegitimate reason for that. As far as Israel is concerned, the UN is mainly a dead end, which is why they didn't want to cooperate with Goldstone in the first place.
If the UN is a dead end, does that mean that the UN mandate that created Israel is null. I guess the UN is OK when it works in favor of Israel , namely the creation of it which resulted in the forced expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians, but now that the UN is critical of Israel's ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, it can't be trusted.

You can deny that it is collective punishment, but the fact is, Israel is collectively punishing Palestinians in Gaza to punish them for voting for Hamas. Is it OK to deny food, water, and medicine to Israeli citizens for voting for Netanyahoo and Leiberman who are far worse terrorists than anything Hamas has ever done. At Least Hamas has agreed to the 67 borders, something the Likud hasn't as illustrated by their continued settlement building in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

I think you are right, if Israel only withdrew from Gaza, but continued the occupation of the West Bank, then the violence would probably continue, mostly because it would be perpetrated by Israel, because the occupation is inherently violent, but also because the two are not mutually exclusive.

Again with the shipment of arms. The Palestinians have a right to resist occupation and oppression. Get that through your thick head. However, I believe their use of violence is counter productive. If they had F-16s, helicopter gunships, tanks, and Nukes, then it may produce results, but their primitive rockets that cause less damage than Israel's high tech weapons are but an impotent form of protest to the occupation. You need to check out the website to see the disproportionate force Israel uses against Palestine. But it is against international law to collectively punish civilians which is exactly what Israel is doing to Palestinian civilians including women and children.

What motivates Hamas and the Palestinians to fire primitive rockets at Israel or use slingshots against Israeli tanks, maybe its the Israeli boot on the face of Palestine. Maybe its the bulldozers destroying Palestinian houses, maybe its the destruction of their olive groves, maybe its the theft of their land and water, maybe its the checkpoints that deny them access to their jobs, healthcare, or their family and friends, maybe its the imprisonment without charge of their citizens, maybe its the destruction of their economy, maybe its their denial of basic human rights, maybe its the slaughter of its people.

Maybe they don't think a Jewish state should exist, at least not where their homes used to be. The Holocaust happened, OK we get it, why do the Palestinians have to suffer because the Germans tried to commit genocide against the Jewish people. Shouldn't the Germans have to suffer for the crimes they committed, not the Palestinians.

The fact is Israel exists, like it or not and the Palestinians including Hamas are now willing to accept a two state solution along the 67 borders. It is Israel that is not willing to accept this as proven by the Palestine Papers.
Hamas has stated its willingness for a truce in exchange for 1967 borders, in other words an intrinsically temporary commitment in exchange for a permanent commitment. A truce until what? Until they can build up a military to finish the job?

It will also depend on how literally they mean 1967 borders, because there is one aspect of the old borders that Israel won't return to, period, nor would I argue that they should. That aspect is the Wall. Pre 1967, Jordan, one of the more moderate Arab states, did not allow Jewish worship at what is for us the equivalent of Mecca to Islam - the single holiest site we have. There is a problem with the Wall, of course: The Wall is the side of the Temple Mount, and the top of the Temple Mount contains Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, which comprise the third holiest site in Islam (though not a pilgrimage site). Since Israel took over Jerusalem, Muslim worship at those two mosques has continued. That doesn't preclude giving a portion of East Jerusalem to the Palestinian State, a step which I have argued often is necessary.

Disproportionate force how frequently? Disproportionate force as a response to what? How many examples, if any, have there been of force used that weren't a response to specific events immediately preceding them? I am not saying that the use of disproportionate force in all cases was right; from what I understand, there are many cases of the soldiers themselves being uncomfortable with what they were ordered to do by policy. However, there's one part of this argument I want to clarify:

Let's say you got really deeply angry at some town for some unstated reason, so you go up into the hills above town with a high-powered rifle and decide to live elusively and take your revenge. You don't have unlimited amounts of ammo so once a day you fire a shot into town. The town is pretty much terrorized and people hide in certain locations at certain times of the day. Over a two year period, you manage to kill three residents. At the end of that period, an intrepid girl scout troup finds you while you're reloading and you're dragged down to justice. The local prosecutor charges you with three counts of murder and either 727 or 728 counts of attempted murder, depending on whether one of those years was a leap year. The point behind all those counts is that you don't get moral credit for bad aim. Moral credit for bad aim is in essence what many are suggesting we extend to Hamas for Sderot.

What kind of treatment is the West Bank seeing in comparison to Gaza? Why? In the long run, there's basically no way the Palestinian Authority can accept the Israeli settlements there, at least without substantial compensation of some sort. The ultimate path is to independence, economic development, etc. Whatever the current West Bank formula is, it appears to be working better. There's no secret as to where it's ultimately going.

If you're making the Holocaust argument, you're opening a wider discussion. The Holocaust isn't responsible for the formation of Israel; if anything, it's responsible for the timing, but that has to do with a lot more than Europe. Israel was evolving toward statehood since the Balfour Declaration. Also, there seems to be some underlying assumption that Israel is all about Europeans. I've only been there once, in 1979 or 1980 and, at the time I was there, Israel had a Sephardic majority (Middle Eastern Jews), prior to the final waves of Soviet immigration. Incidentally, it was when Israel had a Sephardic majority that Labor was voted out and Likud was voted in. Where did these Jews come from? Some, contrary to what an awful lot of people will tell you, were already there to begin with. A couple of examles: There was a Jewish community in Tsfat (Safed) that had been there for centuries and Jerusalem had a section called the Jewish Quarter, those Jews being forced out by the Jordanians. Incidentally, the overall population of Palestine was pretty low in general, for one thing because it didn't support all that much agriculture at the time, which changed after extensive Jewish immigration. Jews weren't the only ones immigrating: Jews coming in meant jobs, and Syrian Arabs moved to Palestine for them, so there was substantial immigration among both Jews and Arabs. The ideas that Jews weren't there to begin with and that the Palestinians are all descendants of ancient residents are both myths.

There were many Arab governments that were interested in what Hitler was doing and so became a lot less tolerant of their Jewish populations during WWII. After Israel was founded, that became worse because many of those governments assumed that the loyalties of their Jewish populations were suddenly elsewhere, regardless of the age or nature of those populations. There were populations in (and this may not be a complete list): Morocco (there may still be one there), Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, and Iraq. They ranged in age from several centuries - fleeing from the Spanish Inquisition in 1492 - to 2 1/2 millenia, the Iraqi community having been exiled there by the Babylonian king when Judah was conquered, so they were there since over a thousand years before Mohammed was born. In most of those cases, persecution was ramped up until they left. Most, though not all, went to Israel, because Israel would take them. We have heard zero about reparations or resettlement regarding Jews driven out by Arab governments; this is apparently a one-way street. I should add one more telling detail: The number of Jews who were driven out of Arab countries exceeds the number of Muslims who left Israel, voluntarily and involuntarily combined.

How many Jews do you think live under the rule of the Palestinian Authority? This may sound like a silly question, but there are Jews who are against the foundation of Israel because they believe that Israel could only be returned to us by God. There are locations sacred to Jews on the West Bank, particularly Hebron, where the Tomb of the Patriarchs is. The answer, to my knowledge, is zero. If you were to ask the symmetrical question about Israel, you'd get a very different answer. Israeli Muslims don't enjoy completely equal treatment de facto, though there are Muslims in Knesset (parliament), but that is a fight taking place within Israel as there are numerous Israeli Jews fighting for equal treatment for Israeli Muslims. If we're going to accuse anyone of ethnic cleansing, Israel is one of the least guilty players in the area. The Saudis don't typically allow Jews to even Visit. I point this out because here on OS people are very careful to draw a distinction between Israelis and Jews; the actions I'm talking about were against Jews, not Israelis.

I apologize for the length of this response. This is probably a couple of posts' worth, but comments aren't quite as easy to edit.
By the way, I also believe the Palestinian use of violence is counterproductive. I think non-violent resistance would actually be far more effective against Israel. Paradoxically, I think that the jihadist mentality among some Palestinians, particularly Hamas, saves and preserves Israel because it keeps Israeli dissenters and liberal American Jews in line. A lot of us have a tendency to support oppressed minorities but not if they're intentionally blowing up our children in pizza parlors. Violence keeps us from dividing.
I wonder what would happen if the Jewish people suddenly woke up and realized they are being cheated out of all the land God has actually given them since the little sliver of land they are now living on is only a fraction of what is promised to them. And even that, the arabs and nations of the world are trying to steal the little fraction they have, which is now Israel, little by little by waging terror war after war against the Jews and forcing a land for peace deal upon the Jews.

A land called 'Palestine' did not exist when God made a covenant with Abraham and Abraham's descendants, the Jews, and it does not exist today. The land is called Canaan, now called Israel. Abraham is the first to be called Hebrew; it is noted in Genesis 14:13. There is no such thing as a land of Palestine.

There is much written about Abraham and his descendants, Isaac, Jacob and the Jewish people as it relates to Israel, the land God gave them in Genesis chapter 12, 15, 26 and 28, I suggest you look it up and read about it yourself in the scriptures. Three times, God in the scriptures, made the same covenant to Abraham's descendants the Jews, so there can be no mistake.

In Genesis 12, it is declared by Moses “NOW the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee": vs. 1 Abram obeyed the Lord, and went into the land of Canaan. vs. 5

God made the Covenant with Abraham, giving him the land of Canaan. "In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abraham, saying, “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river." Genesis 15:18.

The southern border of Canaan is the river of Egypt, with the northern border being the River Euphrates.

The Lord appeared to Isaac, Abraham's son by Sarah, and who inherited the land promise of God to Abraham, and said: "Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father"; Genesis 26:3

After Isaac, Isaac's son Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel by God: "And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and men, and hast prevailed," Genesis 32:28, inherited the land covenant with Abraham as declared by God in Genesis Chapter 28: "I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed".vs. 13

After Moses delivered the Israelites out of Egypt into the promised land of Canaan, God gave specific boundries of Canaan land as declared in Numbers 34:1-2: AND the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land of Canaan; this is the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan with the coasts thereof: 1-2
The Southern border of Canaan Land or Israel: Then your south quarter shall be from the wilderness of Zin along by the coast of Edom, and your south border shall be the outmost coast of the salt sea eastward: vs. 3 And your border shall turn from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim, and pass on to Zin: and the going forth thereof shall be from the south to Kadeshbarnea, and shall go on to Hazaraddar, and pass on to Azmon: vs. 4And the border shall fetch a compass from Azmon unto the river of Egypt, and the goings out of it shall be at the sea. vs. 5
The Northern border of Canaan Land of Israel: And this shall be your north border: from the great sea ye shall point out for you mount Hor: From mount Hor ye shallm point out your border unto the entrance of Hamath; and the goings forth of the border shall be to Zedad: And the border shall go on to Ziphron, and the goings out of it shall be at Hazarenan: this shall be your north border. Numbers 7-9
The Western border of Canaan Land or Israel:And as for the western border, ye shall even have the great sea for a border: this shall be your west border. Numbers 34:6
The Eastern border of Canaan Land or Israel:And ye shall point out your east border from Hazarenan to Shepham: And the coast shall go down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain; and the border shall descend, and shall reach unto the side of the sea of Chinereth eastward. And the border shall go down to Jordan, and the goings out of it shall be at the salt sea: this swhall be your land with the coasts thereof round about. Numbers 34:10-12
The Lord further declares in Leviticus 25:23 that "The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me."
A land for peace deal, and chopping up the land of Canaan or Israel that the arabs and nations of the world have done and are now trying to force upon the Jewish people again with Judea and Samaria that they have renamed and dubbed the "West Bank" is completely off limits and God will deal severely with all those involved in the cutting up of His land that He promised to the Jews.

As for the war going on today with the Israelis and the terrorists Hamas who have taken over Gaza, Joshua narrows it down and tells us that Gaza also belongs to Israel, specifically the tribe of Judah.
This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families. Joshua 15:20 Ashdod with her towns and her villages, Gaza with her towns and her villages, unto the river of Egypt, and the great sea, and the border thereof: Joshua 15:47.

The 1948 Israeli War of Independence was between the neighboring Arab countries and the newly formed state of Israel. The Arab countries did not send troops to help the people that are today known as "Palestinians" but rather they sent troops to drive the Jews into the sea. Most of the "Palestinian Arabs" fled to avoid the fighting. Remember, in 1948 they were not referred to as "Palestinians". This name was invented by newspapers around the world after 1967.

United Nations Resolution 181 partitioned the territory from the British Mandate for Palestine into two states - one for Jews and one for Palestinian Arabs. All of the Arab countries objected to the creation of the Jewish state and fought a war against its creation. This was Israel's War of Independence in 1948. Despite their superior numbers, the Arab countries lost the war and the Palestinian state never materialized because of this loss. In the war that was waged, the territory allotted to be the Palestinian state by the UN partition resolution was divided between Israel and Jordan. The "Palestinian Arabs" were rejected by every single Arab country, with the exception of the small percentage that ended up in refugee camps in Jordan where they remain to this day.

A Few Forgotten Facts
1. Israel became a nation in 1312 BCE, two thousand years before the rise of Islam.
2. Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
3. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 BCE, the Jews have had dominion over the land for one thousand years with a continuous presence in the land for the past 3,300 years.
4. The only Arab dominion since the conquest in 635 CE lasted no more than 22 years.
5. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, they never sought to make it their capital, and Arab leaders did not come to visit.
6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.
7. King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed never came to Jerusalem.
8. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray with their backs toward Jerusalem.
9. In 1948 the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews. Sixty-eight percent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.
10. The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution, and slaughter.
11. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be around 630,000. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is estimated to be the same.
12. Arab refugees were intentionally not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own people's lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel, a country no larger than the state of New Jersey.
13. The Arabs are represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel defended itself each time and won.
14. The PLO's Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank land, autonomy under the Palestinian Authority, and has supplied them.
15. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths.
16. The UN Record on Israel and the Arabs: of the 175 Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel.
17. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel.
18. The UN was silent while 58 Jerusalem Synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians.
19. The UN was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
20. The UN was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like a policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
The Middle East is lucky that Israel cares too much about what the world thinks. Israel shows the most patience and tolerance of any People on the planet. The time is coming when Israel, after much pressure of attacks from the world and neighboring Arab States, is going to let loose the most devastating army in the world. God is their protector.

The True Christians in this country will always Bless Israel; I just have no idea why so many American Jews voted for an anti Israel Obama.
Given that Jews had to return to Israel on their own, we're not likely to see the Biblical boundaries to Israel anytime soon, if ever. We're also not dealing with others in the area who are, shall we say, reading from the same book, so we can't depend on their having the same assumptions, with perhaps one exception: It is my understanding that the Qur'an specifies Israel as the Jewish homeland. As it stands, I think most Israelis would accept slightly shrunken borders in exchange for being left alone. Of course, the Arabs had the 1967 borders to begin with, and Israel gave a lot of the land conquered in 1967 back to Egypt in exchange for a peaceful relationship including, incidentally, an active oil well.

As regards Obama:
There are two answers here, and I say this as someone who voted for him:
1. There were a lot more criteria than Israel in the 2008 election. I may be Jewish, but I am an American and I'm not about to vote in an American election as if I were Israeli. My assessment of Obama since is not the subject of this post, nor do I want it to be.
2. The way things stand in the Middle East, Israel cannot have long-term peace without certain territorial concessions. In spite of the fact that I agree with you in terms of Arab culpability in not resettling that refugee population between 1948 and 1967 - we as Jews would never have left our own voluntarily in refugee camps for 19 months, let alone 19 years - the group of people currently known as Palestinians have been living in the area for a minimum of 64 years and there are no prospects for their relocating elsewhere, nor are their prospects of being absorbed into a combination of Jordan and Egypt, even with borders close to original borders. I say "close to" because Israel will not give up the Wall under any circumstances for reasons you've already alluded to, nor should they. If Israel were to attempt to absorb this population, they would either turn into an apartheid state, which is completely untenable, or become Muslim majority within a generation, also untenable. That leaves a two-state solution as the sole sensible alternative. In order to make that happen, we need a President who has some credibility with Arabs and we need a President who doesn't assume that whatever the more Right-wing elements in Israel want to do is just fine because of whom they oppose. In that respect, I thought Obama was a better bet than McCain was.

No American President is going to sell Israel completely down the river because it would be politically suicidal. American public opinion is overwhelmingly pro-Israel (something really not true in Europe), with active support among both the Christian Right and most Jews. Going against the most active Progressives and the most active on the Right simultaneously while they are both allied and passionate about the issue isn't really tenable here.
I got it. Your argument for the incongruous lopsided mass slaughter through the years of Palestinian women, children and non-combatants is their fault because they use them as "shields."

I don't doubt they do and one cowers thinking what else they have been forced to do in the face of a vastly superior armed force and merciless adversary who has occupied their lands, homes, farms, roads, and just about everything else in the most outragious assault on human decency in the last 50ty years, second only to the Holocaust itself.

My sympathies remain with them. Can I do that without being called anti-semitic? That remains a question.
Ben Sen,
" the most outragious assault on human decency in the last 50ty years, second only to the Holocaust itself"

Aside from Darfur, Bosnia, Cambodia, Kurds in Iraq, civilian deaths in Iraq at American hands that utterly dwarf the Palestinian totals, Libya, Tibet, Vietnam (My Lai falls in this period), South Africa, Rhodesia, American apartheid/lynchings and, if we're talking about people who left their homes in fear for their safety and were never compensated in any way, Jews who fled at least half a dozen Arab countries (including the Jews driven out of Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter by the Jordanians) - and the number of Jews who fled Arab countries outnumbers the total of Muslims who left Israel voluntarily and involuntarily combined. This, of course, isn't a comprehensive list.

And yet, out of this list, Israelis seem to qualify for your hyperbole, as they qualify for the out of proportion hyperbole of the United Nations.

I could engage in a more detailed argument about Israel, about who originally owned what and lived where and how they came into possession of it, or of Hamas tactics (aside from human shields), or of Arab treatment of Palestinian refugees for the nineteen years between 1948 and 1967, or how the 1967 shift in borders was a response to an aggressive Egyptian military action (they blockaded an Israeli port without provocation), or how many measures the Israelis have taken to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties with varying degrees of success. However, I'm not sure any of that is necessary, because the question remains:

What makes the Israelis so uniquely culpable in your eyes as to inspire such a statement? Israel isn't nearly as guilty as some of the other parties mentioned above. If Israel were really interested in killing large numbers of civilians, more would be dead - after all, it's not like Israel's public image could get much worse, so it wouldn't really come at a great cost.

So, again, what makes Israel so unique, aside from the obvious? What conclusions should I draw from such a statement?

You tell me.
I like when speak with measured common sense. Well played.
Thank you. Haven't seen you in a while. You OK?
There was an editorial in the WashPost last week about the Goldstone report, taking Israel to task for the way it did the investigations. The approximate quote is that although the Israeli investigations were much, much better than what Hamas did Israel should not be judged by only that standard.

Although I agree that Israel should not be judged by Hamas' standard, the point comes up why is no one incredibly angry at Hamas for their outstanding lack of moral integrity? Should we not expect better of them? What is this soft bigotry that refuses to consider that Hamas' actions put their own children in jeopardy and on the other hand be ready to condemn Israel for any act that is available.

It seems plain to me that no matter what the discussion there are long term posters here who will pop in to rant about how the Israelis were the bad guys in that or even on some only partially related issue. When these people such as ben-sen, jan sand, santahey, al loomis, are equally upset at the far worse disasters going on in this world - and have points on those problems them equally ready to be injected into any conversation, then I will accept that they are really humanitarians and not anti-Semites.
"I am NOT saying that the scale of how we have conducted our protests and how they have conducted theirs is in any way comparable; however, I am saying that the logic behind who they targeted to protest and who we targeted to protest is more than comparable. It is identical.

"Imam Rauf (of the Ground Zero Mosque) basically asks: Who in their right mind would hold all the adherents of a highly diverse faith of over a billion and a half people responsible for the actions of a few intolerant zealots on the fringe?"

I don't really grasp your argument here. I don't think that it is appropriate so easily to separate "scale" from "logic." The actions in question differ not only in scale but also in kind.

In current American liberal thinking one of the worst things is to be "intolerant," regardless of the reason for the intolerance. For example, if serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer murdered and ate your brother, and then Dahmer's family wanted to move next door to you, you would be considered "intolerant" if you failed to greet them with open arms. The fact that you would rather not be reminded of Dahmer every time you saw his family would be irrelevant.

I think it's the same thing with what you call the Ground Zero Mosque. A number of followers of the "religion of peace," supported by an international terrorist network of recruitment, training, and finance, decided that they needed to murder thousands of men, women, and children in the name of that religion.

It's not that people in New York hold all Muslims responsible for that. I think it's just that they would rather not have to see a large mosque in the vicinity of the site of the murders. And that seems reasonable to me.

It would be nice if the 9/11 hijackers were just "a few intolerant zealots on the fringe." But they aren't. As some have said, Islam is all fringe and no center. While this is certainly an overstatement, it is true that Islam has considerably more fringe than what we would like.

Author Sam Harris notes that

"The religious hysteria [over the Danish cartoons of Mohammed] has not been confined to the “extremists” of the Muslim world. Seventeen Arab governments issued a joint statement of protest, calling for the punishment of those responsible. Pakistan’s parliament unanimously condemned the drawings as a “vicious, outrageous and provocative campaign” that has “hurt the faith and feelings of Muslims all over the world.” Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while still seeking his nation’s entry into the European Union, nevertheless declared that the cartoons were an attack upon the “spiritual values” of Muslims everywhere. The leader of Lebanon’s governing Hezbollah faction observed that the whole episode could have been avoided if only the novelist Salman Rushdie had been properly slaughtered for writing “The Satanic Verses.”

"Let us take stock of the moral intuitions now on display in the House of Islam: On Aug. 17, 2005, an Iraqi insurgent helped collect the injured survivors of a car bombing, rushed them to a hospital and then detonated his own bomb, murdering those who were already mortally wounded as well as the doctors and nurses struggling to save their lives. Where were the cries of outrage from the Muslim world? Religious sociopaths kill innocents by the hundreds in the capitols of Europe, blow up the offices of the U.N. and the Red Cross, purposefully annihilate crowds of children gathered to collect candy from U.S. soldiers on the streets of Baghdad, kidnap journalists, behead them, and the videos of their butchery become the most popular form of pornography in the Muslim world, and no one utters a word of protest because these atrocities have been perpetrated “in defense of Islam.” But draw a picture of the Prophet, and pious mobs convulse with pious rage. One could hardly ask for a better example of religious dogmatism and its pseudo-morality eclipsing basic, human goodness."

Imam Rauf asks us to ignore all that, to pretend that is all isn't so, and to put a happy face on a religion that has no problem showing its fangs and claws in its "defense" in many countries around the world.
For the most part, I agree with you. In the case of Jan Sand, there is something else going on. I believe his heritage is Jewish and I have heard that he may have grievances with Israel of a personal nature, so I hesitate to label his case as antisemitism. Jan Sand isn't the only case I know of like that but his is the only case I know of on your list.

Firstly, thank you for responding to the second section of my post. I've noticed that nearly all the comments I've received so far have focused pretty strictly on the first. Frankly, I've been sort of surprised by that.

I have a few answers. The two nations with the highest Muslim populations don't show up on your list, those being India and Indonesia. There may very well be a lot of Muslims who are what we'd characterize as fringe but that doesn't mean that a majority is. It also means that when we find a vocal population of Muslims who aren't, they deserve our encouragement and support. Islam is not monolithic, it is in the interests of the fringe for it to appear monolithic, and it is against our interests for it to appear monolithic. By vilifying Islam in general at the expense of a local Muslim population that has been a vocal opponent of terrorism and an international booster of the United States (Imam Rauf has gone on diplomatic missions on behalf of the US State Dept.), we are supporting the interests of the fringe rather than our own.

The reactions to the Danish cartoons that you've cited are mostly (I'm only going by the information you've given me) essentially along the lines of anti-defamation in that they view their faith as being insulted, which quite frankly it was. Of the reactions you cited, the only one that you quoted as suggesting killing anyone was Hezbollah which, let's face it, isn't surprising: they are fringe. As to why more Muslims don't protest intrafaith killings, frankly I don't have a clue unless they're trying to stay out of the line of fire.

Regarding American tolerance, there's one major problem with your analogy about Jeffrey Dahmer's family: American Muslims were killed in the 9/11 crashes. We all remember that Muslims were perpetrators but we tend to forget that Muslims were also victims. (Lest there be any ambiguity here, I'm talking about Muslim New Yorkers; this is not an inaccurate reference to any of the terrorists.) Islam has over 1 1/2 billion adherents and multiple sects; painting them with one brush is neither valid nor strategic. By the way, assuming Dahmer's family had nothing to do with his horrific proclivities, I wouldn't hold his actions against them. The damage to their name is bad enough.

By the way, I disagree in another respect: I think that many of those protesting the Ground Zero Mosque do think that all Muslims are responsible for 9/11. I've heard enough rhetoric over enough time to draw exactly that conclusion. I think that's why they don't want a mosque at the site. I've been told that there is a Muslim custom of building a mosque on conquered territory and I've heard some interpret the siting of the Ground Zero Mosque as an example of this. This kind of thinking supports my contention that the logic of the two arguments is parallel. Particularly in Imam Rauf's case, that's a very significant error.
Only the Israelis took advantage of the support, sympathy, and sacrifice of the Allies to then repress another people and make a mockery of the liberal values that brought their nation into existence, and now arrogantly flaunt and try to justify the behavior with lies and manipulation.

It is no accident they must now seek support in this country from right wing fundamentalists, and are losing the support of American liberals, Gentiles and Jews, particularly of the new generation, whose consciences can no longer condone their actions.

You, unfortunately know as little about the second world war as you do about the history of Jews in Palestine. Why is it that you don't know that the Arabs, including the Palestinians, started killing Jews in 1929 and enlisted in the Nazi cause as soon as possibly able - specifically to make Palestine JudenFrei. Why is it that you aren't concerned that 800, 000 Jews were expelled from their homes in the Arab countries, primarily into Israel, without recourse, without choice and certainly without compensation.
Count how many synagogues there are in Arab countries and then count how many mosques there are in Israel.
Count how many Jewish members of Parliament there are in all the Arab countries and then count how many Arabs there are in the Israeli Parliament.

When you hold Hamas to any kind of standards, then you can talk about what Israel does.
Name any voice in the Arab countries or in Palestine that dares to speak for peace and justice.

Explain why Hamas and Fatah refuses to recognize the right of Israel to exist, even when doing so would put enormous pressure on Israel to make concessions.

Explain why, when Israel left Gaza, the first thing that happened was that Hamas started shelling Israel.
And, while you're at it, explain the rationale behind Arab extremists assassinating an Italian journalist who was pro-Palestinian.

Until you can rationally accept that Hamas and Fatah has responsibility, both real and moral for half of the problems, nothing you say is anything but the rantings of a bigot looking for someway to disguise their hate as reasoned discourse.

Go away and rant but until you are willing to recognize some reality.
Oh, yeah. And while you're at it, please explain why their was a slaughter of 100 Jews in Poland after the end of WW!! and why Poland then expelled several million Germans from land where they had lived for hundreds of years - and took their land.

And explain about Turkey having troops on Cyprus for 20+ years.
And Nationalist Chinese displacing the natives of Taiwan
And Japanese doing the same the the inhabitants of Okinawa.
And the Chinese displacing the Tibetans
And the Brazilians slaughtering hundreds of thousands of their indigenous peoples.

And explain why you aren't pissed at the Lebanese and the Jordanians who between them have killed ten times more Palestinians than have dies in all the Intifadas.

And then explain why, except for either bigotry or ignorance, you are so damn upset about the Jews having a country they can call their own - and not mention one damn thing about any of the above.
Thank you.

I'm curious about the "support, sympathy, and sacrifice" being referenced here in the aftermath of WWII. From whom? The American Jewish population provided a lot of help to Israel as it approached independence but that was by no means a general phenomenon. The British did everything they could to back off their previous Balfour Declaration commitment, handing whatever they could to the Arabs on the way out and doing what they could to prevent further Jewish immigration. The countries of continental Europe were generally happy to see what Jews they had remaining leave because many didn't know what to do with them (other than Poland, which killed some more in pogroms in 1946 because the Nazis apparently weren't thorough enough for their tastes), aside from which some of them faced recent accusations of collaboration with the Nazis and didn't want the bad publicity involved in opposing a Jewish homeland under the circumstances. During the War itself, there weren't too many nations sacrificing much of anything on behalf of Europe's Jews, the most notable exception being Denmark, which at least refused to identify its Jews to the Nazis. America's Jews couldn't get the Roosevelt administration to bomb the rail lines going to the concentration camps; one can't legitimately claim sacrifice on behalf of Europe's Jews. The Arab reaction to Jews during the war often tended toward admiring Hitler's policies and turning on their own Jewish populations, most of which had been in these countries for centuries or, at least in Iraq's case, for over two and a half millenia. Most of the exceptions to what could at best be characterized as apathy and inaction were by individuals, not nations, and such individuals with consciences could be found scattered through various countries, including the US (Lyndon Johnson being a notable and somewhat unsung example) and even Germany.

I'm tempted to continue but this comment could get really long, even for me, which is really saying something. I don't normally talk much about the Holocaust because in certain respects I think it is an event that is overemphasized at the expense of an overall pattern of long-term persecution. The exception comes when I encounter historical revisionism. "Support"? Not too much from national entities. "Sympathy"? If you'd just had one out of three of your population systematically murdered - with roughly one out of three of the murder victims being children - sympathy would be your due. "Sacrifice"? Please.

This looks to me like an accusation of biting the hands that fed us, the revision being the actual feeding.
Your problem is with your own, not me. The new generation is just not buying the screed any more. The numbers are starting to collect. I think that's what's causing fear now. (Tony Jundt saw through it almost fourty years ago.) Liberals both Jewish and non-Jews see the fanaticism more and more clearly and you can't dismiss your own so easily.

It is to them and those no longer in the grips of the mass psychosis that still has the conscience of Israel in it's grip that you have to contend with. That and the revolution in the Arab world and the impending inability of the United States to protect you any longer. You made this bed and you're going to have to lie in it. The responsible leaders are going to have to take it seriously if the nation is to survive.

You can't call everybody a bigot who disagrees with you forever, and I refuse to let you pull me down into the cess pool. Enjoy your Passover.
Thank you concerning Passover.

My problem isn't that you disagree with me. I assume neither is Traveler's. As it stands, I don't approve of a lot of Israeli policy. I don't like the Netanyahu government at all. I think the settlements are a bad idea, that Israel needs to embrace a two-state solution ASAP, and that Israel needs to give the new Palestinian State a corner of East Jerusalem to serve as their capital. No other solution could possibly bring stability.

My problem is twofold:
1. That you appear to view 100% of the responsibility for what's happening between Israel and the Palestinian entity, and Gaza in particular, as Israel's. As was shown in the arrangement between Sadat and Begin, Israel is willing to exchange land for peace - they gave back the Sinai Peninsula, including an active oil well. The problem in this case is that Hamas isn't interested in peace, they're interested in Israeli eradication. (As well as introducing a whole lot of oppressive fundamentalism to their own people.) As Traveller pointed out, when Israel pulled out of Gaza completely, the missiles into Sderot started. Incidentally, they continued on a daily basis over a period of years. Israelis survived because they built shelters. The fact that a whole lot of Israelis haven't been killed in the bombardment has more to do with inaccuracy than in any lack of trying on Hamas' part. Stopping the bombardment isn't simple because the missiles are launched from temporary sites in civilian areas, which means the Israelis don't have a whole lot of military choices that don't involve civilians - deliberately on Hamas' part. For their part, Hamas doesn't have nearly the history of targeting the Israeli military as they do in targeting civilians. In this respect they seem to have taken over the PLO's old role.

2. That you view Israel's actions as somehow internationally exceptional, and this is what really makes us wonder. The reason we wonder is that there is only one obvious factor that makes Israel exceptional. That you could look at Darfur or Bosnia, places where people actually attempted genocide, and view them as less akin to the Holocaust than Israeli actions involving the Palestinians where mass killings are anything but routine says that your standards are based on something other than the nature of the events involved. There is no valid reason for a different set of standards to apply to Israel than to all other nations. There is one obvious reason to apply different standards to Israel; we're hoping that isn't the reason in this case.
Every decent, thoughtful person committed to a belief system and/or a culture will react with defensive outrage when routinely attacked in public, and rightly so. Whether the so-called reporting is true or false, the attacks feel, and often are, personal.

Israel has know this empirically for more than 60 years, Jews --and Arabs-- for more than 5,000.

I have no doubt there are millions of law-abiding, true believing Muslims who feel fury (and, unfortunately, some shame) when Hamas gleefully celebrates anti-Semitism and the murder of innocent Muslims and Jews.

Not confined to the Middle East, there are legions in America who view certain races and cultures as "the enemy" or "less than" and while not officially at war and no longer publicly celebrate killing, they celebrate hating by making blatantly "anti" jokes, statements, even laws. With apparent impunity.

No lasting peace anywhere has a chance if the involved parties cannot resolve or solve their own ideological moral ambiguities. Most certainly when they can't contain --or won't condemn-- growing numbers of not-so-fringe elements who inflame, defame and murder at will.

That's the deal-breaker for me... exploiting ignorance to promote suicide and murder, then celebrating same.

We must keep debating, especially on such important posts as these. But is anybody here Really listening or just waiting to make another point for your side?
You keep making assumptions about my positions that are utterly preposterous to a five year old and then fill in your own answers. If you have any interest at all in a solution the necessity is to take responsibility for your side of the street. Leave the rest of the world out of it and clean up your own shit. Then you can become a moral arbiter.

Ben Gurion saw the path of destruction was in making enemies with the Arabs, but the mob mentality and religious zealots took over. I think if you want to do something for the future survival of Israel you'll direct your attention toward them before it's too late.

In the next war, if you keep giving their terrorists the excuses they need, Israel may not be victorious and once it's vulnerability is seen all that you prize may be lost, not just the bits and pieces you are trying to take from them now.
Thank you. I do what I can not to demonize the opposition with the exception of a couple of organizations, Hamas being one of them, where I'm afraid demonization is appropriate. This does not extend to the Palestinian civilian population, nor does it extend to Fatah in its current incarnation.

Ben Sen,
" the bits and pieces you are trying to take from them now." Interesting pronoun. Precisely which bits and pieces do you think I am in favor of taking? I just finished telling you in my last comment that I was not in favor of the settlements. Talk about assumptions - I didn't even leave things ambiguous enough for you to have to make such an assumption. If you don't mean the settlements, what do you mean? Haifa?

I would argue that you have the problem backward - it is Hamas that gives Israel's right wingers the excuses they need. If the Palestinian leadership as a whole had opted for a Gandhi-style movement, renouncing violence completely and demanding, say, Israeli citizenship, how many options would Israel have had? The Israeli left wouldn't have had much choice but to back them. Substantial portions of the American Jewish community would have problems opposing them and some would back them very actively. Israel would have ended up with two choices: either become a real apartheid state, and I don't mean what currently passes for apartheid when the international community talks about Israel - even though there are some inequalities regarding Israeli Muslim citizens, we're not talking about anything approaching real apartheid - or grant them citizenship and become a Muslim majority state within two generations. Becoming a real apartheid state, though it has apparently been a tenable solution for some Arab states where Jews are concerned, is not a tenable solution for Israel. The American Jewish community was heavily involved in our own civil rights movement and would have serious problems being on the wrong side of a genuine apartheid system, the Israeli left wouldn't support it either, and the amount of international pressure on Israel would be higher than it is now, the difference being that a lot of it would be coming from people Israel actually cares about. If apartheid wouldn't hold and Palestinians ended up as Israeli citizens, Israel would belong to them in fairly short order without firing a shot. In this respect, Palestinian terrorism preserves Israel. As long as buses are exploding and suicide bombers walk into pizza parlours filled with children and detonate anyway, the right will be able to keep the left and the Americans in line because the physical threat is so tangible and so horrifying.

You seem to think these are all black and white issues. You can't come to that conclusion if you're well enough informed.
You keep telling the Palestinians what they're supposed to do while at the same time you confiscate their lands, confine them to ghettoes like the Nazis confined your people, focused only on vengeance, and basically treat them like animals. You're the racists.

Your best excuse is that you are a nation in the grips of a psychosis. You should take it. You are the victims who became the perpetrators, those who were raped and murdered who rape and murder. As the vastly superior power, the shame is yours.

The few left outside a small circle of fanatics who don't know it are you. How long do you thing you can stand at odds against decency? The "settlers" should be forced to leave. My respect at one time was to the Israelis, but now like so many American liberals it is with the Palestinians. You need to be stood up too. More need to do it so you will better come to terms with your responsibilty in the matter, especially Jewish Americans who know better than you do what is at stake in the long run.

Call me what you wish in your mad hunt for expiation from your guilt but you need to know the truth and the Palestinians need to know they are not alone. We ain't buyin' it no more. The jig is up among those of us who are not ignorant and are concerned about world peace and will not be intimidated by your claims and self-rightiousness. You can't get away with it forever. Mankind is not as perverse as your warped perception.
Yes, I do see you are against the settlements. It's probably what made this dialogue possible.

Please, enjoy your holiday. If there is a God, she wants us to be with those we love.
Ben Sen, you ought to read Christopher Hitchens' memoir, "Hitch-22." Hitchens, who is incidentally a Palestinian sympathizer, describes the person who grabs onto some little belief or fact and then, because the situation is too complex to really grasp, tries to believe he has the the only fact and clings desperately to it.

I notice Ben Sen that you do not, perhaps cannot, answer any question but can only blame the Israelis for, for everything. I and koshersalami freely admit that Israel has some bad policies. Why is it so hard for you even to admit that Hamas and Fatah have done, and are doing, something wrong.

In pint of fact, you don't even mention Hamas and Fatah, let alone answer any of my questions, because, I believe, you can't bring yourself to actually lie and say you agree with what they have done.
Cognitive dissonance, remember that term.

I'll tell you what BenSen. If you will go to Ramallah and wear a yarmulke for 30 minutes, I'll go to Tel Aviv and wear a kaffiyeh for an entire day.

Then we can meet and talk about the Israel-Palestinian situation.
Ben Sen,
"Best excuse"? Israel's best excuse is that they can't afford to stop checkpoints, blockades and fences because their constant experience is that every time they stop, more Israeli civilians get killed. If that didn't happen, the rest of this would stop. There's no other point to it. Israel had settlements in Gaza and, in spite of some ferocious internal political opposition, Israel yanked them, arresting many of their own people to drag them out. How did Hamas respond? By launching missiles. Hamas didn't treat the withdrawal as an improvement or even a gesture but as a logistical opportunity. The idea that violence is correlated to logistical opportunity doesn't come from Israel; it comes from Hamas. Israel isn't creating this link but reacting to it because they have to. What gets Israel criticized the most is ostensibly Overreacting to this link but the fact remains that it is a reaction and not an initiation.
I don't have to think inside your little boxes and don't have to make excuses for not doing so. That's the problem, going around in the same circles of the blame game, never getting off, only really being propagandists, not writers with interest in creating a larger context.

I don't envy those living in those boxes but I do appreciate "koshersalami" understands the settlements are an abberation. I think I know where that puts you on the spectrum and I have great respect for it. There used to be a contributor on OS named RickyB who posted some of the most powerful material I ever read on a blog about the situation and he was an American living in Israel. I've tried to prompt his return, but to no avail.

The constant innuendo that by criticising the policies of Israel that someone is racially, ethnically or religiously prejudiced demonstrates a form of depravity that makes a dialogue trying if not impossible. I don't think it does your cause any good.

My faith in the citizens of Israel is actually very strong. As prosperity, education, and consciousness grows, I see no reason that like other nations the majority won't come to their senses and change the collective agreement. But first it has to start with an enlightened minority. We did it in the US toward slavery and toward Native Americans, such as it is., and in Viet Nam by opposing an ideological war for the first time. My hope for you is the awakening doesn't come at too great a cost.
Ben Sen,
You seem to keep missing my issue. I do NOT equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism. I criticize Israel all the time, as does Traveler. Nor am I arguing that we get a free pass because we're Jewish.

My issue is that I am extremely suspicious of double standards and ask why they're being applied when they're being applied. Are your expectations of Israel different from your expectations of every other nation and, if so, why? How would you expect any other nation to react to missiles targeting civilians landing on its territory daily for years on end? What is your opinion of how Russia has reacted to Chechnaya?

You might say "I'm talking about Israel; I don't need to make comparisons every time I criticize Israel so that you know that I don't approve of any other country's actions along these lines." The trouble is that you DID make a comparison: You stated that Israel's actions were a closer approximation of the Holocaust (at least in terms of "human decency") than those of any other nation in the past fifty years. There are all sorts of better candidates for that dubious honor, some of which involved actual attempts at genocide (and many of which involved way larger casualty counts, Cambodia's actually into the millions), whereas Israel hasn't been guilty of anything of the sort. Why make a comparison like that?

Answer that question. Whether anyone accuses you of antisemitism is far more dependent on that answer than on whether you criticize Israel, which plenty of people do, including American Jews, Israeli Jews, President Obama, myself, and God only knows who else.
I knew the facts and agree that individuals act illogical sometimes. I do believe that sometime the logic is so missing you cannot tell who is who in the world. It seems boundaries are being crossed by one and all.

I'm reading a book on the Kabbalah teachings at the moment and life seems so far away from the peace and serenity that is offered in my book. Recently I have withdrawn more and more into a whole because of what I see and hear out in the world.

Just every once in awhile I come out... peace to you Kosher.
To you too.

You never know what you'll find there. I think that's where the notion of repairing the world came from, though they have a very different take on it than the one Reform Judaism focuses on.
The concept of an ethno-linguistically homogenous nation-state is a romantic concept going back to the 19th century. Zionism is as much a relic of the 19th century as the Italian Risorgimento, German Nationalism, Pan-Slavism, Manifest Destiny, White Man's Burden and other trappings of 19th century ethnic romanticism, is it not?

Why can't the Palestinian Muslims and Israeli Jews live together in a single multi-ethnic state with both Hebrew and Arabic as the official language and the official flag as neither crescent or star, and without an official religion?

If all other states in the world are moving away from a blood and language conception of citizenship, a post-modern conception of citizenship, if you will, then why should Israel maintain an anachronistic conception of national identity? Especially if the West actively denies this to her own leading constituent members, such as Germany or France?

If you permit Israel to do this, then you must permit France and Germany to design citizenship and nationality in the same manner. We must have a consistent international rule and norm regarding statehood and nationality and identity. We can't have double standards, otherwise the apparant hypocrisy will cause the system to lose legitimacy in the eyes of the global community.
In theory you're right, but in practice you're putting the cart before the horse. Israel was founded specifically because other nations were not doing this. You begin a question by saying: "If all other states in the world are moving away from a blood and language conception of citizenship, a post-modern conception of citizenship," my answer is: Not where Jews are concerned, particularly in the Arab world. The one time I visited Israel, the majority of Israelis were Jews who had left other countries in the Middle East and their descendants. For the most part, they didn't leave their earlier homes because of ideology or for religious reasons; such motivations apply to individual cases but don't generally get masses to move. To get masses to move, their current homes have to be made inhospitable in some way (or at least comparatively inhospitable), which is exactly what happened. Go back a century and there were significant Jewish populations in a whole lot of Arab nations (plus some other Muslim nations like Iran) where those populations are now either tiny or nonexistent. Jews aren't welcome as residents today in the Palestinian jurisdictions - by which I don't mean as Israeli settlers, I mean as residents/citizens living completely under the rule of the Palestinian Authority.

Keeping Israel's Jewish majority is not about Jewish ideology or even religion per se; it's about Jewish safety. Arabs (or Muslims if you want to make a strictly religious comparison), Frenchman, Germans, etc. don't have their group survival or ability to practice their religions or cultures threatened on a global basis or have those abilities based on the discretion of other groups. We do. Israel was founded as the antidote. What we discovered is that many parties elected to try to place the survival of our country at the discretion of other groups. Not this time. If they'd treated us decently in the first place, they wouldn't have had this problem, because there wouldn't be very many Israelis.
So you would still elect to deny this remedy to Germans and Frenchmen?
Mr. G,
Any given nation determines its own immigration policy. I don't think any nation is obligated to allow immigration, though I do think every nation is obligated not to persecute its existing minorities. What constitutes persecution isn't completely cut and dried - there's a difference between putting an extra tax on a population, keeping that population from living in certain neighborhoods or participating in certain occupations, and altering every procedure to allow for every religious preference out there, like prohibiting certain dress in public because it offends a minority population. If you choose to live in a place, you should understand what certain mores look like coming in.

In this respect, the US has more obligations than some other nations because it is constitutionally non-sectarian and, at this point, non-ethnic. That's why a lot of us are here.