« standard operating procedure | Main | Energy Policy: it's a tussle »

March 28, 2004

Israel: any common ground?

This weblog is becoming the site of conflicting opinion about international affairs especially the Middle East. Iraq and Israel are the ground of conflict. Emotions are highly charged on the latter issue, and the conflicting voices more often than not speak past one another.

The accusation running through the comments box is that the extreme right and the left demonize the Jewish state, accuse it of practising genocide and equate the Jewish state with German fascism.

Maybe we can try and use the odd post here and there to sort things out a bit instead of yelling at one another.

For starters. Things are bad between Israel and Palestine. The Oslo Accords are history and the road map has gone nowhere:
CartoonVHSMH1.jpg
unknown (anyone know the name of the cartoonist?)

Presumably we can all accept that. Now the next step.

I'm currently reading Alan Dershowitz's The Case For Israel. Let me state simply and clearly that public opinion accepts a two state solution---a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state---that was initially proposed by the Peel Commission in 1937 and then by the United Nations in 1948.

Public opinion accepts the idea of the two state solution though not the proposed detailed territorial partitions in the above proposals.

That should put to one side those who say that the criticism of Likud policies and actions on this weblog implies the elimination of Israel. It does not. Both people's have a right to their homelands.

Update

On the Palestinian side it would seem that the Palestinian Authority is an empty shell and that Hamas is the de facto effective government. That would mean a fundamentalist Palestinian state under shariah law that would be harsh on women, gays and Jews.

Yet the only way forward is to ensure that the occupied territories are transformed into independence of Palestine comprising Gaza and the West Bank. This implies acknowledging that the Palestinans can, and should be, a free people in a free country.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at March 28, 2004 01:06 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.sauer-thompson.com/mt2/mt-tb.cgi/1417

Comments

Your explicit expression of support for a two state solution that encompasses a Jewish state along side a Palestinian state is welcome. Public opinion polling consistently shows that a landslide majority of Israelis (circa 80% plus) favours such a settlement of the conflict. Yet, public opinion polling independently conducted by Palestinian organizations reveals that a similar majority constituency does not exist amongst the Palestinians.

Polling from December 2003 clearly shows that some 70% of Palestinians refuse to relinquish their demand for the implementation of the "right of return." The right of return, as has been discussed, is antithetical to a two state solution of the conflict, and will never be accepted by Israelis who see it as tantamount to a demand for their own national suicide.

This, I would argue, is the primary impediment to peace. Without this obdurate refusal of the Palestinians to reconcile themselves to Israel's existance, Ariel Sharon would have never been elected and Ehud Barak would have closed a peace deal with Arafat along the lines of the Camp David - Taba proposal (all of Gaza and 95 - 97% of the West Bank to become a Palestinian state). What the Israelis were asking for in return was a Palestinian committment to a formal end to the conflict.

But Arafat rejected all offers without even a counter proposal because he knew he would never be able to sell any such plan to his own people. Arafat realized that he would be taking his own life in his hands if he were to agree to a peace plan that accepted Israel's right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state along side a Palestinian state.

That's the crux of the problem. And that's why the current government in Israel that you so heartly dislike was elected in the first place. A majority of Israelis turned to the Likud after they became convinced by the Palestinian rejection of peace and resort to violence that Israel had no peace partner worthy of the name on the Palestinian side.

Posted by: voice of sanity at March 29, 2004 06:09 AM

There is a need to distinquish between extreme (fundmentalist + one state) and moderate (secular & 2 state) Palestinians is there not?

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at March 29, 2004 07:40 AM

I'm sick of them all. The Israelis and the Palestinians both. I'd like to see the lid put on on that little pressure cooker, the heat turned up, and in about 100 years we open it up and take a peek inside.

Posted by: Voice of the People at March 29, 2004 10:49 AM

VOS,
a little puzzle.

If a two state solution is common ground, then how does the right of return of Palestinian refugees figure in the equation?

Does it not just apply to the Palestinian state?

Would it not only apply to the Israeli state, if there was just one State?

If not, how does the right of return of Palestinian refugees impact on Israel when a two state solution is in place?

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at March 29, 2004 12:43 PM

There are voices of moderation amongst the Palestinians, but they are few and far between. Public opinion polling conducted recently (December 2003) by the Palestine Center for Policy and Survery Research, and the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center show that roughly 75% % of Palestinians refuse to relinquish their demand for the right of return.

Now, as has previously been discussed, the Palestinian right of return constitutes a rejection of a two state solution to the conflict. Israelis will never agree to any such proposal because they (rightly I think) believe that the implemenation of a Palestinian right of return will be tantamount to a death warrant for Israel. In such a scenario Israel would be transformed into a country with an Arab majority, with all the negative consequences that adhere thereto quick to follow.

Late last year, the UN Human Development Programme published a report on the Arab Middle East. The report was complied by Arab social scientists and documented the uniformly lamentable condition of the Arab world. A complete dearth of political freedom. The repression of women. The persecution of ethnic and religious minorities. Rule by the bullet, rather than the ballot.

Why on earth would Israelis, who have created a prosperous, high tech first world democracy in that part of the world, in spite of its inhospitable attitude towards the Jews, risk everything they have built by submitting to demands that they become a minority in a greater Palestinian state with an Arab majority? Is there really any reason to think that an Arab Palestine will be any more progressive than the other 22 examples of Arab failure, regressiveness and repression?

But, again, to the issue at hand... the dearth of mainstream moderation amongst the Palestinians. This is the true impediment to peace. You may not like Arik Sharon, but he was elected as a direct result of Arafat's refusal to make peace.

Don't take my word for it, listen to Bill Clinton, who described as "generous" Israeli PM Barak's offer at Camp David/Taba of Gaza in its entirety, and 95-97% of the West Bank. There the Palestinians had their state. A state with contiguous borders that would have allowed them to get on with the task of nation building.

But Arafat rejected Barak's proposals without even a counter offer, and instead resorted to that time tested Palestinian pattern of violence instead of good faith negotiations. And, when the mainstream Israeli body politik realized that "generous" offers of peace had yielded them terrorism instead of comity, they abandoned the Israeli peace movemment and voted for Sharon in droves.

Until such time as there is a sea change in Palestinian public opinion, and a genuine recognition that two soveriegn states, one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians, is the only solution, then there will be no peace.

I'm not sure how to engineer such a psychological metamorphosis, but I can tell you that as long as Arafat is at the helm, and the official Palestinian media continue to promote virulent hatred of Jews and encourage young kids to embrace martyrdom through suicide bombing, no change of any sort can be anticipated.

Posted by: voice of sanity at March 29, 2004 04:00 PM

Gary, regards to your question. If the Palestinian refugees want to return, let them come to a Palestinian state that has been created in the W Bank and Gaza. Provided, of course, that the Palestinians accept that this deal constitutes the end to the conflict, and any such Palestinian state will not be used as a launching pad for further terrorism against Israel.

Posted by: voice of sanity at March 29, 2004 04:02 PM

Gary:

How does one negotiate with Hamas? If this radical organization's goals include that Israel must be forced from all of what was known as `Palestine' prior to 1947 (the 1922 League of Nations mandate included what is now Israel, Jordan, and the occupied territories) how will Gaza and the West Bank ever appease them?

Voice of Sanity is correct in that moderate voices within Palestine are needed to accept Barak's offer. The Jews by necessity elected Sharon - who understands the Hamas mentality.

I like where you are going, sir - but I worry that rational and reasoned heads do not prevail among Hamas.

Posted by: Dave at March 30, 2004 08:42 AM

I'd be interested to know what you think of the Dershowitz Gary.

He's the bloke who made the 'shoe on the other foot' test famous. I've often wondered if he had ever given that test a workout on the I/P question. Won't hold my breath.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at March 30, 2004 03:34 PM

being Jewish (enough to be gassed) I woudl actually be quite happy to see the State of Israel vanish, as I wrote in a comment over at tim blairs (it got deleted) Israel is a heavily subsidised Disneyland and in a goat-effed desert

I'd be quite happy if there was never any Palestinian State too

States are a bad idea, they think up supporting technolgies, like, like

RELIGION

Posted by: meika at March 30, 2004 10:36 PM

Gary:

While the Palestinians, ideally, should be a free people in a free country, the jury is still out as to whether they can be. The dearth of the democratic instinct in the Arab world in general, and amongst Palestinians in particular, is borne out by the uniform absence of political liberty throughout the 22 Arab nations.

Until the concepts of individual freedom and representative government truly take root within Arab culture, and the moderates for which you so desperately yearn rise to positions of power, then neither the Arabs, nor the Palestinians will be free.

And, that's no one's fault but their own. The statute of limitations on blaming everything on the West has long since expired

Posted by: voice of sanity at March 31, 2004 11:54 AM

'While the Palestinians, ideally, should be a free people in a free country, the jury is still out as to whether they can be.'

While the Jews, ideally, should be a free people in a free country, the jury is still out as to whether they can be.

Goose, gander. Your implication, as always, is 'they're so different from us, they don't deserve democracy.' The second formulation would have turned on the 'anti-semite' tap on full bore, would it not?

'The dearth of the democratic instinct in the Arab world in general, and amongst Palestinians in particular, is borne out by the uniform absence of political liberty throughout the 22 Arab nations'

Horse hucky. China has never been a democracy. Does this mean they have no 'democratic instinct'? Try standing on any street corner in any Arab city and telling the inhabitants thru a megaphone that they have no 'democratic instinct.' See how you go.

'Until the concepts of individual freedom and representative government'

you mean like the representative government slated for Iraq.. that kind of representative? ...

'and the moderates for which you so desperately yearn rise to positions of power,'

like that nice Chalabi fellow? I take it you don't desperately yearn for moderates to govern, which begs the question, exactly who do you think should govern?

'then neither the Arabs, nor the Palestinians will be free.'

They'll be free when those with the power to set them free realise it's in their best interests to do so. And that's us - the voting publics of Western nations implicitly in cahoots with illegal occupations in both Palestine and Iraq.

And that seachange won't be easy with anonymous knaves being busy, busy, busy with the unlovely work of propaganda and power-worship.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at March 31, 2004 06:00 PM

Until the Wests stops picking sides, and starts treating the Isrealis and the Palestinians both like the violent destructive recidivists that they are, there will be no end. With luck the Christrian Fundamentalists in the US will decide the time is now right to launch the 5th Crusade, and will re-enter the Holy Land to offer the residents their simple choice. Conversion or Eternal Damnation. That ought to set the cat amongst the pidgeons.

Posted by: Voice of the People at March 31, 2004 07:42 PM

Ah, Glenn, Glenn, Glenn:

The fact of the matter is that the Jews are a free people in a free country. The country is named Israel, and it is the sole example of democracy in the Middle East.

And, obviously, the obverse is true of the Arab world. Glenn, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak... or in the autocracies that prevail throughout the Arab Middle East. If the democratic instinct were extant to the extent you imply, then concepts like individual liberty and freedom of the press wouldn't be non-existent from Mauritania to Kuwait.

It's a cultural thing. And, I think it's fair to say that Arab culture has hitherto proved inhosipitable to democratic concepts and ideals. It's sad. But it's also undeniable.

And, as for what we all hope is an inchoate democracy in Iraq, you remind me of a Mike Ramirez cartoon I have on the door of my office. Ramirez is the political cartoonist for the LA Times, and he drew a piece that showed an Adam like figure in the garden of eden. The caption goes "And on the 4th Day, the Lord Created the Democratic Candidate." The Adam figure/democrat is saying to God "Why aren't you done yet? Haven't you finished already? etc..."

The point being that you're demand for instant democracy in Iraq is more than a bit silly. The Americans are doing what they can in a very fractious, fragmented society to serve as midwives for representative government that will provide basic democratic guarantees for the populace of Iraq. That is a complex task that took time in post-war Japan and Germany, and it'll take time in Baghdad, as well.

Trying to score cheap political points because the job hasn't been completed in 12 months only makes you look shallow. Iraq has come a helluva long way in that time. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis are greatful for their liberation. But there's more yet to do, and Latham's asinine populist "bring the troops home by Xmas" gambit will only come back and bite the diggers, and the Iraqis, in the arse

Posted by: voice of sanity at March 31, 2004 09:24 PM

Racism, pure and simple.

The Jews are free; free under the auspices of the hyperpower to oppress an unfree people; unfree to free themselves. So they retaliate, which is human rather than cultural.
The democratic impulse exists in most people whatever culture they were born into. Freedom is a very strong urge in humans of all kinds, but different communities come to it at different times for different reasons. Even Enlightenment nation states were to some extent autocracies, monarchical or otherwise... does it follow that there was no nascent (or dormant) 'democratic impulse' in these proto-democracies? Of course not. It took time is all, as it will for the Arab world. Hopefully with our help rather than the current hindrances.

'It's a cultural thing'

Cultures change, but human equality doesn't. The operative word in your next sentence is 'hitherto', which to my mind shouldn't sentence people to more of the same forever.

'And, as for what we all hope is an inchoate democracy in Iraq'

Inchoate means 'vague, unformed' which is certainly true. Perhaps you were looking for 'emergent' which I think gilds the lily at this stage.

'The point being that you're demand for instant democracy in Iraq is more than a bit silly'

I never demanded any such thing, which I regard as impossible for the time being. But if such a demand is deemed silly, then surely you must be hugely amused by the assurances of Mssrs Wolfowitz, Perle and Cheney that the invaded would shower the invaders with flowers, a joyous prelude to a rapid flowering of democracy, not just in Iraq, mind, but the whole region. So, if anyone who demands instant democracy is silly, surely those who partly predicated a bloody and illegal war on promises of precisely that has to be the ne plus ultra of silliness, eh?

'The Americans are doing what they can in a very fractious, fragmented society to serve as midwives for representative government'

Where is this representative government? Haven't you heard? They've shelved that idea indefinitely in favour of the Chalabi-led appointees of the IGC. What a shock!

Midwives! Jesus. They are midwives to longterm US presence and control of resources. The midwives of theft more like. You will never get it, no matter how many die, will you. The Americans aren't the solution; they are the problem.

'Iraq has come a helluva long way in that time.'

Yes, but up or down? Eye of the beholder, perspective or lack.

'The overwhelming majority of Iraqis are greatful for their liberation'

Who told you that? The Weekly Standard?

BTW, you don't have another nom de plume of 'parallel' do you? Or a twin? A dybbuk?

Just wondering.. which happens when your interlocutor is unwilling to disclose his/her identity.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at April 1, 2004 01:04 PM

Ask around at your next BBQ, about the Middle East problem? You'll get mutterings about those awful Palestinians and their bombs, and then someone chimes in about the Israelis and their settlements, and pretty soon you've got people carping on about the green line, and the Intafada, and Sharon and Arafat, and then finally, the pisshead lurches into the middle of the converation and says. "Nuke the bastards, Just drop a bomb on the whole lot of them!" That puts an end to the discussion, as no-one wants to associate with such a yobbo, but deep down they think. Yep, that'll do it!

Posted by: Voice of the People at April 1, 2004 03:48 PM

Glenn:

Actually, inchoate means "being only partly in existence or operation." And, that's what I meant, although I certainly hope that Iraqi democracy is emergent, as well.

And, while we're on the subject of semantics, like so many other leftists, you use the term "racism" utterly out of context. Racism is the belief that differences in behaviour or achievement between groups are predominantly attributable to genetic factors, as applied to racial groups. Thus, racism is the thesis that certain groups are inherently inferior or superior on the basis of nature, not nurture.

Nowhere have I said that the irrefragable problems that afflict the Islamic Middle East are pre-determined by Arabs' genetic make up. As I clearly stated, it's an issue of culture. That, if anything, would make me a "culturalist," a rubric that I happily accept. I am not a cultural relativist in that I don't believe that all cultures and their mores and belief systems are equal in moral or practical worth.

Thus, I without hestitation condemn the practice of female genital mutilation as unregenerate barbarism. It's not a quaint cultural practice of another society that for reasons of multi-culturalism we are bound to respect. It is primitive, backwards and should be outlawed throughout the planet?

Do you have an argument with me on this one, Glenn? If not, then you are implicitly admitting that western concepts of individual freedom and gender equality are superior to, and should take precedence over, the repression of women that is ubiquitous throughout the Arab world. And, if you accept this proposition, your entire contention begins to crumble.

As for the attitude of Iraqis towards the arrival of the Americans, my source is, inter alia, the BBC, which reported on 16 March 2004 that: "An opinion poll [commissioned by the BBC] found that most Iraqis feel their lives have improved since the war in Iraq began about a year ago."

A Gallup Poll conducted earlier (Aug-Sept 2003) in Baghdad found similar support for the liberation of Iraq from Saddam, and optimism about the future.

Thus, it seems that a majority of Iraqis disagree with your contention that "the Americans aren't the solution; they are the problem."

Your view of America as evil incarnate is nothing doctrinaire leftie cant that is predicated on a hostility to free market capitalism, which the US exemplifies more than any other advanced economy.

America is not in Iraq to establish empire, but to create a stable country with a representative government that hopefully will provide some quiescence to a troubled region. This is a difficult task, and there's no guarantee of success. But the US is pulling out the stops in its attempt to facilitate the birth of the first democracy in the Arab Middle East.

I can already visualize the beginnings of a sanctimonious sneer on your face. Well, sneer if you must, but events will prove me correct.

Finally, the Jews are free because they have built a democratically governed nation. And, they have done so, despite repeated attempts by their Arab neighours to commit genocide against the Jewish community in the Holy Land. This, it would seem to me, makes the liberty of expression, freedom of the ballot and free press that prevail in Israel all the more laudable. And, the success of Israel as a technologically advanced democracy in the midst of a backward and autocratic Arab world surely sticks in Arab craws. This unflattering contrast is regarded as an affront to Arab dignity and is one of the reasons for the enduring Arab hatred of Israel.

Let me commend a book to you, Glenn. It's written by a Britisher who grew up in the Arab Middle East. He speaks fluent Arabic and is conversant with the mores and customs of Arab culture. The book is called "The Closed Circle: An Intepretation of the Arabs," and the author's name is David Pryce-Jones.

I think you'll find it illuminating, if you have the intellectual courage to read something that might shake the foundations of your weltanschauung.

Posted by: voice of sanity at April 1, 2004 04:45 PM

'I am not a cultural relativist in that I don't believe that all cultures and their mores and belief systems are equal in moral or practical worth.'

Care to give us your current league table?

The way I see it, it is people, not cultures, we have to deal with. In my experience, there are sensible, decent, community-minded people in every culture, race or creed. But there are also fools and knaves infected by a millennial fervour or a conviction of the superiority of their own entity. There may at times be slight variations in their ratio within and between cultures, for all sorts of reasons, ignorance being primary among them. But over time and place, it wouldn't change much... these things are human, not cultural.

And so I think to talk in terms of 'them' is stupid and ultimately counterproductive. We ought to be appealing to that large cohort of sensible people on 'the other side', and ripping into the knaves and fools (the extremists basically) on our own (and that includes neocons) every bit as vociferously as we do theirs. More so, given our ability to actually change things in our own society.

Cultures are after all, only collections of people linked by strands of human history, the number of which is dwarfed by the strands relating one culture to all the others. The differences that bother you so are not eternal; they are skin deep and, in the long term, temporal indeed.

As for genital mutilation, well, what about the male variety? One culture does one, the other does the other. They're both wrong for mine (even though I suffered that particular indignity myself) but I agree the female version is barbaric, especially the sex-cancellation aspect of it. Much of the Islamic world has issues with respect to females across a range of areas... my pet beef is honor killings, which I can't even think about without my pulse quickening.

But I fail to see how my agreement here makes my 'entire contention begins to crumble'. How is genital mutilation related to the I/P question? Do we draw the conclusion that because some Muslims practice it, that the Palestinians don't deserve the same right to self-determination that Israel enjoys?

As a diversionary tactic, it's not bad (I was diverted), but back to the meat'n'potatoes.

'Thus, it seems that a majority of Iraqis disagree with your contention that "the Americans aren't the solution; they are the problem." '

Polls, schmolls. Don't you watch the news? If you and I are still standing in 12 months (which will be 24 months after invasion) and foreigners are still being picked off at the current rate and desecrated and strung up and jeered, will you still be relying on Gallup or the BBC for your sense of Iraqi appproval of their occupation? Again, bringing the political back to the personal where it ultimately belongs - if you were a resident of Fallujah or Baghdad, would you be happy?

'Your view of America as evil incarnate is nothing doctrinaire leftie cant that is predicated on a hostility to free market capitalism'

Chuckle. Who's the doctrinaire? America isn't evil incarnate but it's current leadership is. I know you hate reminders of this, but there is a difference. And my 'leftie cant' is predicated on a Marxist critique of markets, eh?

You're the team player mate, and you've been borrowing heavily from your senior colleagues. Can you please show me anything I've ever written any where that might indicate an aversion to capitalism? Then you can start on explaining how, even if this were true, how exactly it would be relevant to our discussion, except to disclose, as it does, more about yourself than it does me?

'Finally, the Jews are free because they have built a democratically governed nation'

On other people's land.

'the Jewish community in the Holy Land'

Oh so it doesn't matter if it's other people's land, because it's the Holy Land! I thought you said you were an Arab. I'm afraid I find that hard to believe.

'the success of Israel as a technologically advanced democracy in the midst of a backward and autocratic Arab world surely sticks in Arab craws'

Perhaps, but so what? It is a tenth order issue. First order is the illegal occupation of their territory. That REALLY stickss in their craw.

Let's imagine in the next 50 years, the Arabs get their act together, create modern democracies, technologically advanced (gee-whizz) and all. Let's say they then decide that Israel, which they consider morally backward, must go, as it sits on their 'Holy Land.' Imagine America is by this stage either unwilling or unable to back Israel blindly as it did for years.

Would you be happy enough for this to occur? If not, why not? It's a simple role reversal. And if you say 'they can't do that to a democracy', I'd ask, why should a democracy be allowed to do it to them?

As for my weltanschaung, I just checked it and it's as solid as a rock.

Now that I've addressed, however inadequately, your questions and observations, would you extend me the same courtesy. Just two of the easier ones..

1 - if a demand by leftists that the occupiers deliver 'instant democracy' in Iraq is silly, can you tell me what epithet you'd apply to Mssrs Wolf'z, Perle and co's contention that the invasion would provide exactly that? (With flowers etc)

2 - who are you?


Posted by: Glenn Condell at April 1, 2004 05:59 PM

Thanks Glenn:

Responding in reverse order (at least initially)

2) I'm just a lil' ol' countryboy expressin' his point of view

1) I don't think Wolfowitz ever prognosticated that sowing the seeds of democracy in Iraq would be either quick or easy. To paraphrase Mark Twain, stories of neo-con over-optimism in Iraq have been grossly exaggerated. But, to the extent that anyone was predicting a cake walk in post war Iraq, they were clearly wrong.

I am concerned about your ex cathedra pronunciations about Israel's "illegal occupation of their [the Palestinians'] territory, and that the Jews have built their country "on other people's land." This appears to indicate a belief on your part that the Jewish people have no right to self-determination, and that Israel is the illegitimate fruit of theft of Palestinian land. Thus, you seem to support the contention that the Jewish nation of Israel - all of it, including within its pre-1967 - has no right to exist and should be subsumed within a state with an Arab majority.

For reasons already explicated here and in other Middle East related comment lines on this site, I contend that anti-Zionism is the functional equivalent of anti-Semitism because it would deny the Jews the rights of self-determination that are granted to others as a matter of course.

The West Bank and Gaza were captured by Israel in a defensive war precipitated by aggressive Arab actions and bellicose Arab rhetoric about the impending destruction of the Jewish state to restore the "Arab honour" lost in 1948.

Moreover, you ask whether the Palestinians don't deserve the same right to self-determination that Israel (unjustifiably it seems in your eyes) enjoys. Yet, that has never really been a subsantive issue.

Since the Peel partition plan in 1937 to the Camp David/Taba talks of 2000-2001, the Jews/Israelis have consistently shown a willingness to compromise where their territorial ambitions are concerned. The Jews-cum-Israelis have repeatedly accepted some plans, and proposed other plans that would grant the Palestinians precisely those rights of national self-determination about which you inquire. The problem has always resided in the Arab-cum-Palestinian refusal to accept any compromise that would entail recognition of Jewish national self-determination. Hence the Arab/Palestinian rejection of every plan to partition the country into two states, one Jewish and one Arab/Palestinian.

Even today, polling indicates tha 80% plus of the Israeli body politic would accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza if it wouldn't be used as a launching pad for continued terrorism against Tel Aviv.

So, your accusation of instransigence is misplaced. It belongs in the Palestinian camp. The Jews cum Israelis have never denied the right of the Arab inhabitants of Palestine to self-determination.

Moreover, if you read the Arab press (which I do), you will realize that the cultural inferiority complex vis a vis Israel and the West is hardly a "tenth order issue." Rather it is one of the most substantial motivating forces behind the modern Islamist movement, from Hamas, through Hizbollah and the Iranian mullahs to Osama Bin Laden. I would suggest that you study the translated writings of Jamal A Din Al Afghani, Hasan al Bana and the statements of OBL himself. Al Quaeda is a relative newcomer to the Israeli Palestinian dispute, it having registered very low, if at all on OBL's original list of grievances vis a vis the infidel world. Of course, like other Arab leaders eager to hitch their wagon to the anti-Zionist train, OBL has since racheted up the destruction of the Jews in Al Quaeda's wish list. But the fact that the Palestinian issue originally received a very low priority belies your assertion that Israel is the source of all Islamist discontent.

Again, let me reiterate my quondam assertion that what really sticks in the Islamist craw is the presence of a modern, hi tech, progressive Western democracy in their backyard. Rubbing their nose their perceived inferiority at close quarters, as it were.

Finally, I think if you were to spend a little time in the Arab middle east you might change your assertions about the universality of the democratic instinct. Your position reminds me of that classic statement by the Marine colonel in Full Metal Jacket: "son, inside every gook there's an American trying to get out." Would that it were so. But for historical and cultural reasons that we can discuss more fully if you so desire, I would argue that many of the prerequisites for democracy are utterly absent from contemporary Arab culture. I am not at all optimistic that democracy would naturally evolve in the Arab world in the foreseable future.

That is why I think that the liberation of Iraq from Ba'athist tyranny, and the imposition of democracy from above, a la postwar Japan and Germany, is the sole hope for the introduction of representative democratic government in the Arab world.

Have to run the kids to school... more to follow...

Posted by: voice of sanity at April 2, 2004 07:17 AM

continuing.....

There's no real comparison between male circumcision as practiced by Jews, and female genital mutilation. Removal of the male foreskin does not have any deliterous impact on sexual enjoyment, and is not done for the reason. By constrast, slicing and dicing a girl's clitoris is done for the sole reason of removing any capability for sexual enjoyment. And, FMG is - along with your pet peeve honour killing - part and parcel of a primitive Arab mindset in which women are regarded as chattel, not individuals with dignity.

This is a cultural issue, par excellence, and thus is not a distraction at all. Because barbarism towards women is merely one manifestation of a culture that is also profoundly inhospitable to democracy. And, I'm not the only one to have made this connection. Read the 2003 UN Human Development Report on the Arab world. Compiled by Arab social scientists, many of them expats,, this report posits a link between the servitude of Arab women and the lack of democracy in that region. Makes sense to me. If the brutal oppression of women in Arab society is the norm, then it's a small step to apply similar repression on a political basis.

Posted by: voice of sanity at April 2, 2004 09:21 AM

'To paraphrase Mark Twain, stories of neo-con over-optimism in Iraq have been grossly exaggerated'

Bullshit.

'the Jews/Israelis have consistently shown a willingness to compromise where their territorial ambitions are concerned'

Bullshit.

'proposed other plans that would grant the Palestinians precisely those rights of national self-determination about which you inquire'

Bullshit.


'The problem has always resided in the Arab-cum-Palestinian refusal to accept any compromise that would entail recognition of Jewish national self-determination'

Bullshit.

'what really sticks in the Islamist craw is the presence of a modern, hi tech, progressive Western democracy in their backyard'

Bullshit.

'this report posits a link between the servitude of Arab women and the lack of democracy in that region. Makes sense to me.'

Me too. So.. do you think these poor oppressed women might feel just a touch of the 'democratic impulse', the desire for freedom?

Be careful, if you admit that, your whole edifice will begin to 'crumble' won't it? Because you'd have to admit that some of the men may feel that way too. And you will be forced to accept that cultures are just large groups of people, like you and me, most of whom share our desire to be free.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at April 2, 2004 06:07 PM

Glenn:

It's sad that you are reduced to a series of repetitive scatological comments in lieu of rational argument. Not much of a reasoned refutation.

And, as far as women's lib taking hold in the Arab world... I wish. Of course, there are a handful of western educated Arab women from the social elite who are railing against the repression inflicted on the overwhelming majority of their sisters in the Islamic Middle East. But, no, there are no signs of any such progressivity taking hold within the Arab mainstream.

To the contrary, in fact. You have Palestinian mothers praising their suicide bomber sons and promising to bear a new generation of "martyrs" as fast as their wombs can produce them.

Pretty pathetic, I'd say. Just a bit more pathetic than your apparent inability to hold up your end of a civil, constructive discussion.

Posted by: voice of sanity at April 2, 2004 07:56 PM

If it looks, sounds, feels, smells and tastes like bullshit; it's bullshit. I know you'd prefer to keep things vague with layers of your inimitable wannabe academic pomposity, but I prefer to cut to the chase. If it consoles you to feign pity at my regrettably earthy directness, go right ahead.

If Israelis were Palestinians and vice versa, they'd be proud of their suicide bombers too; nothing surer. You don't accept this and therefore I'm afraid I can't take you seriously. It may not be David Duke level racism, but it's enough to fatally affect anything you have to say on the issue.

It's 'sad' really. 'Pretty pathetic' too.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at April 4, 2004 05:34 PM

It would appear that point of the above post---the common ground of the two-state solution--- has been lost in the above polemics.

The two state solution presupposes one state with a predominantly Jewish character and population and another state with a predominantly Palestinain character and population.

It is common ground in that it is shared between a lefty at public opinion; a Jewish civil libertarian, such as Alan Dershowitz, who supports state assassination of Palestinian leaders; and Palestinian moderates, such as Hanan Ashrawi who talk in terms of needing to construct the civil institutions of Palestinian statehood.

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at April 4, 2004 07:16 PM

I agree with the idea unreservedly Gary, but agreement doesn't produce this sort of endless tennis match, disagreement does. I agree with you, but I disagree profoundly with our nameless friend.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at April 5, 2004 09:38 AM

Gary, you are incorrect about Ashrawi. She talks the talk of a two state solution, but she doesn't walk the walk in that she simultaneously endorses the Palestinian right of return.

This sort of mealy mouthed Palestinian double speak is intended to gloss over the fact that even Palestinian
"moderates" (a term inappropriately applied in her case) refuse to accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.

And, I detect some slippage where your position on the issue is concerned. The issue isn't "one state with a predominantly Jewish character," but rather a Jewish state defined as such in law, as is the present-day state of Israel. Only such a Jewish state would be able to fulfull its fundamental raison d'etre - to serve as a refuge for persecuted Jewry.

Alas, the recrudescent epidemic of anti-semitism throghout Europe demonstrates the continuing validity of Israel's function in this regard. When the Chief Rabbi of Belgium warns Jews not to wear yarmulkes in public for fear of physical assault; when synagogues burn throughout France and the government denies that anti-semitism is a problem; all this serves to show that Jew-hatred is alive and well, and that Israel's existence as a Jewish nation is still required.

Moreover, I don't hear you or anyone else decrying the fact that Egypt defines itself as in ethnic terms - "Al Jamhourya Arbiya Misriya" (The Egyptian Arab Republic) If the Arabs can have ethno-national states, why can't the Jews? Which, of course, brings us full circle back to the application of double standards where the Jews are concerned, i.e. anti-semitism.

As for Glenn, he says: "If it looks, sounds, feels, smells and tastes like bullshit; it's bullshit." That's a pretty piss poor excuse for a refutation.

The mere fact that you label something as bullshit, without anything remotely approximating a cogent explanation as to why, makes your position meaningless. And, then you accuse me of being "vague." Ha.

As I think I explained before, you are engaged in the utterance of an "ipse dixit," a legal term that signifies a statement supported by nothing more than the assertion of its speaker. No reasoning. No evidence. No nuttin'

Sorry, boychick, but that dog just won't hunt.

Posted by: voice of sanity at April 7, 2004 10:23 PM

Post a comment




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)