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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

today's puzzle « Previous | |Next »
May 6, 2004

Let us accept the claim by David Bernstein that abusing the Star of David is deeply offensive.
SpoonerIsrael2.jpg
Spooner

The Spooner piece refers to a political artwork that was shown in Melbourne. David Bernstein from The Age reports the decision was made to remove the offensive anti-Israel art display in Flinders Street after controversy. I don't know the exhibition, the artspace or this work referred to. All I know that it was in Melbourne, that it sparked controversy about the nature of art, and that it was dismantled.

Bernstein says that the removal decision rekindled the freedom of speech and art debate that erupted over Andres Serrano's equally offensive Piss Christ a few years ago. He says that there was never any doubt that the exhibit - "which superimposed a series of outrageously distorted "facts" about Israel's mistreatment of the Palestinians on a huge Star of David - was going to enrage the local Jewish community."

Bernstein then critically deals with the "facts" listed in the art work.

When I read his reasoning I thought this indicates why it is so difficult to have a debate on the Israeli /Palestine issue; one that sorts through issues rather than than engaging in personal attacks.

Since I'm going to be on the road today I will leave it up to you gentle readers to spot the problems in the way that Bernstein deals with the "facts".

Update
The artwork in question:
NewsVH1.jpg

It is titled 'fifty six', it was by Utako Shindo and Azlan McLennan, and it was exhibited at 24/seven. The artists statement can be found here. Links courtesy of om_blog.

We have this description of 'fifty six' by some journalists at The Age:


'The work features a large Star of David painted on a wall. Red text, on the window in front, reads: "Since the creation of Israel in 1948. 200,000 Palestinians have been killed. 5,000,000 refugees have been created. 21,000 square kilometres of land has been annexed. 385 towns and villages have been destroyed. 300 billion military dollars have been spent. 100+ WMD's have been manufactured. 65 UN resolutions have been ignored.'


The Flinders Street project, titled 24seven, involves exhibition of artworks from February to November. Artists can use the space for one calendar month. Works are visible all day, every day from February to November.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:11 AM | | Comments (59) | TrackBacks (1)
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Comments

Comments

The real mystery is why Australians get so het up about a conflict, and a pretty minor conflict at that, between people in a far away country of whom we know nothing.

I must admit my eyes glaze over when this stuff hits the news.

I wonder how much of the trouble in today's world with terrorism can be traced back to the creation of Israel and the treatment of Arabs in the 20th century by colonial powers?

Unfortunatley Adelaide Pundit, this nasty little conflict, all those miles away perpetrated by two groups of vengeful greedy and self-obsessed people, has resulted in roughly 60 years of bickering and hatred.

This sore has festered now for so long that it has infected the entire world, and that "minor conflict" as you put it, has poisoned relations between the Muslim and Western world and resulted in the war on terror.

It's about time we all realised that the worldwide agenda has been hijacked by this grubby little conflict and started to force these people to fix the problem.

You said it much better than I did Rex.

Oh incidently, here's the offending artwork.

Regardless of the accuracy of the 'facts' it is obviously a work designed to present just one side, and therefore it shows a pretty naiive understanding of world affairs. The artist should be condemned (as I think Spooner implies) not for being aggressively critical of Israel, but for not being equally aggressively critical of the Palestinians.

Adelaide Pundit's middle eastern policy is to leave those people well alone. I don't see a solution that we can contribute and if the EU and the US and the UN can't find a way it's a bit much to think that we can. As for terrorists, security through obscurity seems sensible to me. Who thinks NZ is high up on the terror hitlists?

'The real mystery is why Australians get so het up about a conflict, and a pretty minor conflict at that, between people in a far away country of whom we know nothing.'

Dear oh dear. That's how I felt in the 70s and 80s, then I (a)grew up and (b) found out a bit more about the issues.

The fair resolution of that conflict is utterly vital to the prospects of peace and prosperity for our children and theirs. If we let the US lead this debate, we are all fucked.

If you oppress a large group of people for 40 years, shit will hit fans and not just Middle Eastern ones.

The real issue is that the people who have chosen to bear the grievance - Muslims - are the most dynamic population in the world. The birth rates, with implicit effects on the future global balance of power, in the Muslim world are consistently higher than everywhere else, at all levels of income.

This means that the Islamic political agenda will necessarily increase in global prominence with time, as the balance of power moves away from Islamic peoples.

The conclusions we can reach are that:

-global politics are hypocritical (while Arabs are committing horrendous atrocities on the cultural fault-lines of Africa, consistently far more violent and on a greater scale than anything Israel can answer for, the global diplomatic system will not incorporate the fallout from these actions in the same way as Israel's failings)

-we must find closure to the Islamic political agenda (this involves neutralising any disputes in ways that satisfy our security needs, while satisfying the uncontroversial desire of political Islam to see settlers out of the West Bank, for example)

So, moving on, I can now respond to Glenn Condell's suggestion that "If we let the US lead this debate, we are all fucked."

That all depends if the US is capable of addressing the uncontroversial needs of political Islam in ways that do not compromise security. I suspect the US will find it hard to address the uncontroversial needs of political Islam, while the Euros will find it hard NOT to compromise security in the process.

However. The combination of the US budget and trade deficits, and the erosion of the core values of the United States via mass immigration, will likely allow an unnegotiated compromise to stumble out of the darkness. That is, once US bondholders take their money back, and the empire crumbles.

And BM wrote:

"I wonder how much of the trouble in today's world with terrorism can be traced back to the creation of Israel and the treatment of Arabs in the 20th century by colonial powers?"

The treatment of Arabs by the colonial powers in the 20th century was a party compared to the treatment of the Irish and the Indians by same. And the last two are doing okay. Colonialism cannot explain terrorism, or the failures of post-colonial populations.

The terrorism of today can be found in:

-demographic inflation
-labour market stagnation
-extremist education

The combination of these neat little rhymes is quite volatile indeed, and enough to set the world on fire. Were the Arab populations relatively stable (or stagnant), close to fully employed, and not indoctrinated by mullahs from day one, there would not be a terrorist problem worth mentioning.

As you cannot really affect the growing bellicosity of "terrorist harbouring" populations other than by imposing frightening fascist and colonialist controls over individual behaviour, you are left with:

-leaving people be and sticking to your own turf
-remembering that good fences make good neighbours
-throwing out silly globalist and multiculturalist doctrines that threaten international security
-bringing into line distributions of power and territory
-reducing the international security apparatus of western nations to the bare minimum of defending the flow of economic resources (eschewing nation-building hubris)

We will never have "world peace". It's a trendy thing to raise our glass to on a first date, but it will NEVER HAPPEN. You can only minimise friction and conflict to some manageable level, as I propose.

Glenn, as usual, completely misses the point. The occupation of the WB and Gaza is not the primary cause of Palestinian terrorism because Arab violence against Jewish civilians long predates the capture of the occupied territories in 1967.

The PLO was established to "liberate Palestine" in 1964, a full three years before the Arab-precipitated defensive war fought by Israel that resulted in the capture of the WB and Gaza. And, the litany of Arab/Palestinian acts of terrorism goes back much farther than that. The Jewish inhabitants of Palestine first began to organize self-defense units to protect themselves against Arab terror in 1904. In 1929 an entire community of peaceful ultra-orthodox Torah scholars in Hebron was wiped out in a bloody Arab pogrom.

Thus, the chronology of Arab violence proves pretty conclusively that its cause is not the occupation of the WB and Gaza, but rather the existance of a soveriegn Jewish state in any shape, size or form. Of course, the Israelis will never agree to commit national suicide in order to placate this Arab genocidal drive to make the Middle East "judenrein." And it is presumptuous, at best, and anti-semitic, at worst, for people like Glenn to expect the Jews of Israel to slit their own throat in order to make sanctimonious leftists such as himself feel better.

There will never be peace in the Middle East until the Arabs in general, and Palestinians in particular, truly reconcile themselves to the right of the Jewish People to national self-determination in their ancestral homeland. The Palestinian insistance on a so-called "right of return" shows that this has yet to happen.

The Jews have repeatedly shown their willingness to compromise, to partition a land that is claimed by both Arabs and Jews so that there would be two independent sovereign states, one for each community.

It's sad that the Palestinians persist in their obdurate refusal to take a similarly flexible stance.

As always, the debate degenerates into the dreary tedium of who committed which injustice to the other, and in what sequence. Like fighting children they appeal to the broader world that "the other started it".

We have no need VOS, for your boring chronology, for we have a greater, and much simpler global perpective. Both sides are as guilty as hell, and deserve nothing more than our anger and contempt.

We have 3 simple choices you see, and by we I mean those who have no religious, racial or political affiliations with the players - one hell of a lot of people I might add, our choices are:

1. Continue to be sucked in by the endlessly downward spiralling detail of outrages, and thus threaten our own well being by supporting one side or other.

2. Ignore it and hope it goes away (Yeah right)

3. Get really angry and pissed off that these bastards are screwing things up for the rest of us, telling our political masters that we're as mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore, and start getting some serious, globally endorsed, punishment organised for both sides.


Rex, how about we solve the problem for them?
Israel is a tiny sliver of land enclosed on 3 sides by a mass of Islamic Arabia.
The solution is simple. To Israel goes all the territories it won in the 1967 war. To surrounding Arabia go the Jew-hating Arabs and "Palestinians". Partition happenned in India so why not between Israel and her natural enemies?

I guess Rex has let his name go to his head. He uses the royal "we" as if he speaks for the majority of people. "We" don't need this.... "We" need that. Such delusions of grandeur. tsk, tsk.

As for solution number 3, it is so superficial as to be an exercise in unadultabsurd. Punish them? Who? How? Why?

Are you really so ignorant as to think that there is any sort of moral equivalence between the sides?

You might want to crack a book or two on the subject before you once again embarrass yourself with such simplistic tripe

"As always, the debate degenerates into the dreary tedium of who committed which injustice to the other, and in what sequence."

Is having the facts pointed out to you really so tedious, Rex?

It's a great leftist tactic, that. Ignore the facts by saying they bore you.

They wouldn't bore you if it were your kids and your family getting blown to bits on a regular basis by a bunch of animals still living in the 11th century.

Bernstein writes in relation to the "facts" of the 'fifty six' artwork by Utako Shindo and Azlan McLennan:

"385 towns and villages have been destroyed"? Yes, that is true."

In other words he agrees. Hence his "fact" becomes fact.He is not disputing the figure.

So what does Bernstein do then? He says:

"... and that's only the Palestinian villages destroyed by the Israelis, not the thousands of Jewish towns and villages wiped out in the places where the families of most Israeli Jews had lived for centuries and, in some cases, millenniums."

What has what happen 2000 years ago got to do with the Palestinians today living in the Gaza strip? A couple of milleniums ago means that were are talking about the Roman empire. So Bernstein jumps outside the issue completely. Lays a red herring.

Then he says:

"True, two wrongs don't make a right - but the kind of one-sided demonisation of Israel in this artwork, using symbolism associated with the Holocaust in Europe, demands this kind of historical contextualisation."

But he has not shown a "one-sideddemonization of Israel." Bernstein has actually agreed with the 385 figure and acknowledged that that the destruction of these Palestinian villages was a wrong. In other words he agrees with the Palestinians.They actually have something in common.

Then Bernstein jumps to the symbolism associated with the Holocaust as justification for bringing the Roman Empire into the discusson.

Bernstein is not even trying to have a debate. He is trying to smear the artwork.

Geez, Gary:

Are you really incapable of comprehending clearly written English prose? The Jewish communities to which Bernstein was referring were eradicated during the late 1940s and early 1950s when 800,000 Jews were expelled from their homes throughout the Arab Middle East. Thus, there were 100,000 more Jewish refugees created than Palestinian refugees. Why is the only Middle East refugee issue anyone ever hears about is the Palestinian issue?

Syria, Iraq, Egypt, are places that once had flourishing Jewish communities. Yet, in each of these countries there is no Jewish population worthy of the name.

What happened? These Jews were expelled by and their property was confiscated. Yet, these Jews were taken in by Israel, given homes and integrated into Israeli society. Compare that to how the Palestinians have been treated by their "Arab brothers."

Moreover, those 300+ Arab towns and villages were destroyed in a war the Arabs themselves precipitated and commenced. And this war was a conflict of genocidal ambition, with Arab leaders openly declaring their intention of wiping out the entire Jewish population of Palestine to the last man, woman and child.

So, the Arabs reject a perfectly reasonable partition compromise plan that would give them their own state (not for the first time), and instead embark on a genocidal war. They lose. Tough.

Finally, it doesn't take a lot of effort to smear this "artwork." I say "artwork" in quotation marks because this wasn't a piece of art, it was a cheap piece of political agit-prop of which Julius Streicher (the editor of Der Sturmer) would be proud.

Moreover, the issue wasn't even the fact that this was artistically uninspired and factually erroneous. The issue was that it was completely inappropriate for public funding to be used for such a blatantly political purpose.

If some schlemiel wants to fund that piece of pseudo-artistic crap out of his own wallet, he/she is free to do so. There's no law against factual ignorance or pure bad taste.

But, for ratepayer dollars to be employed to that end is wrong.

I was wondering VOS when you'd bring up the term Moral Equivalence. This cheap trick is always used when Israelophiles are faced with any suggestion that maybe Israeli behaviour is not 100% pure as driven snow.

I don't buy your argument that one side is morally superior to the other. Yes the Palestinans have behaved like sadistic animals, but the Isrealis have behaved like brutal oppressors. It takes two to tango, and both parties are responsible, and your line of argument, your enumeration of 'facts' and dates will never solve it because there will always be a view that takes an opposing position, and people willing to fight and die for both sides.

You see VOS I don't care who started it. I just know that its starting to affect me, and its making me plenty pissed off.

Observa proposes a solution, and frankly I'd be happy with that if I could be sure that it would reduce the risk of terror happening in my backyard, and not require my taxes to support any military spending to maintain it.

As I said I have no affiliation with either side, and despite what you would like to think, I know plenty of ordinary Australian who are sick of it, and who's wellspring of sympathy is pretty much sucked bone dry. I think you delude yourself if you believe most Australians are in any way as passionatly commited to the Isreali cause as you.

What form of Punishment? That's not for me too figure out! I'm suppying the raw emotion from the gallery, its up to the actors to figure out their next move.

Vos
In the article Bernstein spells out his argument against the artwork. He says:

"But why did they choose to superimpose on this highly emotive symbol a set of a set of supposed "facts" about Israel's mistreatment of the Palestinians over the past half-century that are so patently false that they border on caricature? Is this what the artists intended - that is, to deliberately outrage by exaggeration - or were the figures they presented intended to represent the "truth"?

He then says:

"If the latter, it is the easiest of tasks for any reasonably well-informed critic to debunk those figures as the grotesquely distorted fictions they are..."

I have shown that he agrees with the figure of Palestinian villages destroyed. That means he has failed to substantiate his claim: "debunk those figures as the grotesquely distorted fictions they are."

He accepts the figure as representing the truth not a fictions. So he refutes his own general argument against the artwork.

I agree with Rex. Why cant they clean up their own mess.

Sorry Gary, but you are being a tad selective in your citations here. Even if the assertion that 380ish Palestinian villages were destroyed is in the ballpark of truth, that doesn't detract from the wild innacuracies that plague the remainder of this piece of agit-prop.

You seize upon the one item that might be factually corect with all the desperation of a man who is otherwise drowning in fallacious assertions and half truths.

It is factually irrefutable that most of the contentions of that exhibit are demonstrably false. Thus, by conceeding that one item is reasonably accurate, Bernstein is does not refute his whole argument, as you contend. But rather, he maintains his credibility as someone who can differentiate between fact and fiction. Which is more than these "artists" can claim.

VOS,
'Tis not a quibble.

Bernstein's argument is not a good one because he did not debunk all the figures. Debunking all is what the argument was based on.

Bernstein should say that on some issues the art work got it wrong; on other issues it got it right.

On the issue the art workwork got right and Bernstein agreed to, it is not an assertion. It is fact not "fact." Note that not even you acknowledge this agreement; or that agreement means not debunking.

I did not accept fact as the criteria of truth. That is Bernstein.

You can take other parts of the debunking section and do a similar analysis---eg, all the word play around 'refugees' in the 5 million refugee paragraph. The word refugee is used without any recognition that the Palestinians do not have a state and Israeli's do. So we refugees on side and citizens on the other.

Jews were once refugees from terror in Europe. But they can immigrate to Israel and become citizens.That option is not available to Palestinians; so they--and their children---remain stuck in Jordan on temporary "permits." They are to all intents and purposes stateless.

So once again Bernstein's claim about the artwork's malacious and one-sided demonization inference falls away.

For the nth time, there are not 5 million Palestinian refugees.

The top figure is 700,000 - the same people expelled from Israel in 1948. The vast majority of these people are now dead. If their descendents are refugees, then I'm going back to Britain to seize a piece of prime real estate that my ancestors were booted off.

It is the fault of the Arabs for not assimilating the "refugees", not Israel. The Arab states (as opposed to the Palestinians) have absolutely no claim to the moral high ground whatsoever. They can be safely disposed of.

I find it amusing that you refer to Bernstein's rebuttal as a "malicious and one-sided demonization" while you so vociferously defend a piece of agit-prop that attempts to portray the very existance of the Jewish state as a crime.

As for your comment about the Israelis having a state and the Palestinians not, as I have pointed out, ad nauseum, it is the Palestinians who have rejected every proposal that would have granted them a state. Your position is akin to someone who kills his parents and then throws himself upon the mercy of the court on account of his being an orphan.

The Palestinians must bear the responsibility for their obdurate refusal to compromise with the Jews. It is that rejectionist attitude that has landed them in their current condition.

Steve,
I'm not disputing the figures of 700,000 in relation to Bernstein's 5 million refugee paragraph. I accept your account.

What I'm doing is questioning the use of the category 'refugee', not the figures in that paragraph.

Let me repeat. I am not asserting that the children of the original 700,000 Palestinian refugees are refugees. They are not. I am saying they are stateless and so they are different from Israeli citizens. So the use of refugee is questionable.

It is not a question of the children of the original refugees one of being assimilated by other Arab nation states. The Palestinians are not citizens because they are not allowed to become citizens of Jordan (or Lebanon etc). They are permitted to stay and work in that country whilst their "travel documents" issued by Iraq have not expired. When the travel documents (not passports) expire their legal status changes: from resident to stateless as they cannot work in Jordan.

So their situation is different from Israeli's whose homeland is also the nation-state of Israel. That does not apply to the Palestinians in Jordan. They are not living in their homeland and they not do they have a nation-state. Palestine is one in the making.

It is not a case of the high moral ground-as a two state solution would change the situation dramatically.

What I'm arguing is that Bernstein's argument, that the art work is malicious and one sided denunciation of Israel, does not hold up.

At best the artwork on this issue is confused: it's flawed is that it collapses resident and stateless into 'refugee.' that is hardly a malicious and one sided denunciation of Israel.

VOS,

It is Bernstein who uses the language of 'malicious and one sided denunciation of Israel.' He is arguing that this is what the artwork is doing.

It is a questionable claim.

I am trying to show that the artwork's flaws---and it has them, as I showed in the above response to Steve about refugees---do not amount to a malicious and onesided denunciation of Israel.

It is not possible to talk about the flaws of the artwork until Bernstein's distortions are cleared away.

However, you are not willing to acknowledge that Bernstein's account may be flawed. For you all the problems lie with the artwork.That is that.

Hence it is you who are being onesided.

'They wouldn't bore you if it were your kids and your family getting blown to bits on a regular basis by a bunch of animals still living in the 11th century.'

Thanks Yobbo; one can always
rely on you to come right out with whatever unsayable thought your fellow racists are thinking, or rather, feeling. That little gem summarises volumes for example, of VOS's relentlessly Zionist tosh. He appears to me to have ethic or religious links which, while no excuse, are at least a mitigating factor. What's your excuse?

'It is the fault of the Arabs for not assimilating the "refugees", not Israel. The Arab states (as opposed to the Palestinians) have absolutely no claim to the moral high ground whatsoever. They can be safely disposed of.'

Whoa there! Are you serious? What happened Steve? Did you sleep on your right side last night? Only 700,000 reffos eh? A mere bagatelle, what? And it's not the invader's fault there's reffos, it's the neighbours! Genius!

Watch for VOS to post a tedious 40 para refutation full of disputed 'facts' and glaring omissions.

I vote we pressure our pol parties to threaten to cut diplomatic ties with Israel. How about that vossy?


Glenn:

Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't see Zionism as a crime that needs any sort of mitigation. It is the entirely reasonable creed that the Jewish people are deserving of the same rights of national self-determination as others. Unless, of course, you are going to argue that somehow the Jews are not so deserving, At which point it becomes incumbent upon you to explain why you wish to discriminate against the Jews in this fashion.

Gary:

So let me get this straight - - You don't consider a piece of agit-prop that would deny Israel's fundamental right to exist to be malicious? You don't consider an exhibit that makes grossly invidious and factually false assertions of how Israel was created in sin to be one-sided? Nary a mention of the terrorism that kills Jews for the sole reason that the are Jews. No mention of repeated Arab attempts to eradicate Israel from the map. That sounds balanced to you?

Puleaazze! Don't erode your credibility by making such a silly argument. The fact of the matter is that Bernstein was right... this piece of agit-prop was not deserving of public funding. If the Israel bashers like Glenn are so enamored of this piece of taurine excrement, let them dig into their pockets to underwrite it themselves.

Glenn:

It is the Palestinians' own fault, yes, because their refugee problem was created during the course of a war that they, themselves started. If you don't want to lose your home, don't pick fights with, and try to commit genocide against, people who can kick your ass.

If the Palestinians had accepted the UN partition plan in 1947, there would have been a Palestinian state alongside Israel for the past 56 years, and no refugee problem.

No amount of dodging and weaving on your part can ellide that simple fact.

No amount of dodging and weaving on your part can ellide that simple fact.

There you go again VOS dragging the debate back to one of countless irrelevant inflection points in Middle East history. It just goes on, and on, and on with you. Your style of argument just perpetuates the problem. You have no interest in seeing it resolved because it would mean having to set aside all your precious facts, that you've invested so much energy in. It would actually mean having to concede something.

The only substantive fact, the only one that matters is that the conflict continues. Now your lot, and you might as well declare your affiliation, or I'll just have to assume that you are Jewish, don't seem to be able to do anything to stop the problem, and of course, the Palestinians aren't either.

So where does that leave us? The rest of us that is? It leaves us pretty much with only one path left. That is impose a solution

Since the best solution is one that both parties come up with together, then the only way to make this happen is to start to impose sanctions, cut off aid, isolate and generally ostracize both parties until it hurts them so much that that have to come to an agreement.

Nothing irrelevant about history Rexie... I guess you're unfamiliar with Santayana's quote about those ignorant of the past being condemned to repeat it.

As for settling the conflict, it's rather difficult when one party is dedicated to the proposition that the other has no right to exist. It's kinda hard to negotiate if the guy on the other side of the table only wants to slit your throat.

The bottom line is that the Palestinians refuse to reconcile themselves to Israel's right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state. And, as long as that refusal persists, there'll be no bilateral solution to the conflict. That's unfortunate, but it's also realistic.

Rex

'Your style of argument just perpetuates the problem'

it's not even his style. It's the approved standard Zionist debating technique, with additional Rovian enhancements. Watch how, when you near the guts of an argument based on facts, he disappears into purple prose that disdains such minutiae for the bigger picture, you know, high-falutin stuff with big words. Then, when you're set to nail him on the larger moral canvas, he disappears into narrow historical treatises replete with names and dates and serial numbers. He's slippery, but only half as smart as he thinks he is.

VOS

'If you don't want to lose your home, don't pick fights with, and try to commit genocide against, people who can kick your ass.'

Oooh, I'm coming over all blushy to hear such manliness. Nurse, the salts!

It's a revealingly nasty and triumphal little statement. Israel couldn't kick Switzerland's ass without US military and economic support to the tune of billions per year. It would have trouble with Tassie for fuck's sake. You dropkicks who talk up tough little Israel want to try and imagine tough little Israel coping with these hopeless Arab nancyboys without that aid. Close your eyes and just try it.

If the US did the right thing and walked away from Israel until it came to it's senses, I think you might find even Sharon 'appeasing' his neighbours. Because otherwise, the neighbours might kick Israel's ass. Israel's sorry ass, even.

They're only fearless because so far they've had nothing to fear. And if you scratched the surface of the IDF, you'd find it full of the same panic, immaturity and ignorance that is dogging the US army. The shades and the submachineguns might make you think they're tough; the rest of us know they're just boys who don't know jack, like most armies.

Ah, Glenn... your ignorance betrays you, once again. Fact - Israel only began to receive American military aid in 1968. That's a year after the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel vanquished Egypt, Jordan, Syria, as well as an Iraqi expeditionary force in the bargain. And, by the way, the 67 war was a defensive Israeli conflict precipitated by Arab aggression and belligerance. Then, of course, there was the 1956 campaign and the 1947-49 War of Independence in which Israel was victorious, as well. These three conflicts took place well before Israel began receiving military aid from the US.

Sorry to burst your bubble, your dream of Israel being destroyed and the Jews thrown into the sea.

VOS, If the Jewish diaspora invested half as much energy in trying to solve the problem, as they do in trying to defend Isreal's honor against its critics, the problem would be solved.

You spend your energies valiantly wielding your selection of facts, in some vain hope that it will somehow help the Isreali position.

As has been pointed out by Glenn and others, Isreal faces an internal demographic timebomb, increasingly populated and hostile neighbors, and its position is only maintained by massive US aid.

At some point, maybe in 100 years from now, the US's is simply not going to be able to afford to carry Isreal, and Isreal is unlikely to find a friend with the other upcoming superpower, China, so on the whole I'd say the future's looking pretty grim.

A smart Isreal would be starting now to try to lower the tension and start making friends with its neighbors. It would be asking people like yourself to concentrate their energies in that direction, and not in promulgating the rhetoric that you engange in here.

Nice theory, Rex, but you have yet to explain how Israel is supposed to "make friends" with people who refused to recognize its right to exist?

I'm not saying its not going to be hard. But you're a smart people, try applying yourself.

There was a nugget of wisdom in one of our revealed observations:

"The bottom line is that the Palestinians refuse to reconcile themselves to Israel's right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state. And, as long as that refusal persists, there'll be no bilateral solution to the conflict. That's unfortunate, but it's also realistic."

That is a correct assessment. I support a Palestinian state, loathe Sharon, and have no time for West Bank settlers. However, none of this changes the fact that much of Palestinian society opposes the existance of Israel.

However, rather than taking the emphasis of peace off Israel, it redoubles Israel's obligation to take unilateral action. The withdrawal from Gaza was a start.

However, what must follow is a withdrawal from the West Bank, and a negotiated carving of the water supplies with the Palestinians. They can be unilateral on defence, but will have to be bilateral on water for the time being.

Glenn Condell wrote:

"If the US did the right thing and walked away from Israel until it came to it's senses, I think you might find even Sharon 'appeasing' his neighbours. Because otherwise, the neighbours might kick Israel's ass. Israel's sorry ass, even."

That is a devilishly wicked idea. Anyone who has observed the path of the Israeli-Arab dispute will notice how the shifting identities of the combatants has moved from Jews vs Arabs, to Israelis vs Arabs, to Israelis vs Pan-Arabism, to Israelis vs. Jordan-Palestine, to Israel vs. Palestinians.

This has been reflected in the changing pattern of mediation in the region, increasingly the dispute is not seen as requiring some broader Arab representation, and since the early 90s, Israel has DIRECTLY negotiated with the PLO and then the PA, rather than via Jordan.

What Glenn is trying to do is reframe the dispute in its 1960s context by:

refusing to fund Israel to the point where "you might find even Sharon 'appeasing' his neighbours. Because otherwise, the neighbours might kick Israel's ass."

Glenn is advocating a shift in the regional balance of power from Israel to Syria/Egypt/Jordan et al. That is one of the worst ideas of all the bad ideas I've heard. Not only is it based on a political fiction, it is strategically dangerous.

What is required is an American President with the balls to stand up to Sharon - forcing him to allow the Palestinians to organise their own state.

Steve is pretty right on this.

It is time the Americans put the hard word on Sharon and the Likud Party to do those things that would enable the Palesinians to organize their own state.

Start tying the aid. Start withdrawing the foreign aid. so that Israel withdraws from the Gaza strip and the West Bank and starts sharing the water.

Israel is a client state that is making Middle Eastern policy on behalf of an imperial power.

Both Steve and Gary are way off base. How many times do I have to repeat the fact that the Palestinians have repeatedly been offered a viable state within contiguous borders, and they spurned it.

So, let me get this straight. The Israelis offer Yasir Arafat a deal that will include 98% of the WB and all of Gaza as a Palestinian state (this is the offer made at Taba in January 2001), the Palestinians turn it down and continue their war of terror against innocent Jewish civilians....

and you guys want to penalize ISRAEL?

Sorry, boys, but you seem to have some difficulty in assigning blame where it is truly due.

And Gary, you really need to get off this "imperialism" shtick. You sound like the caricature of a Peter Pan 60s new leftie who is living in a time warp. The language really dates you. This is 2004, not 1969, and it is demonstrably clear that the US has no imperial ambitions in Iraq.

Israel should also be supporting those Paestinians who are trying to work towards a two state solution and a democratic Palestinan state.

There is politics as well as military responses here.

Seems to me that dumping all Palestinains into the terrorist basket is a tad self-serving.

It says that no Palestinian is working towards a two state solution; only wants the destruction of Israel; and thinks the only strategy is a military (guerilla) one.

As for the crazy lefty imperialism stuff I suggest you read the multitude of posts over at philosophy.com where this issues is being explored in some depth.

Those posts at philosophy.com show that you are way off beam.

Gary:

Sigh... for the umpteenth time... the assertion that a broad majority of the Palestinian population actively supports suicide bombing attacks against unarmed Jewish civilians within Israel's pre-1967 border is irrefutable. It has been born out, time and time again by public opinion research conducted independently by Palestinian polling outfits. You might want to visit the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center website to see for yourself.

Thus, your attempt to portray HAMAS as a bunch of marginalized misfits who don't enjoy broad support within Palestinian society doesn't stand up to factual scrutiny.

The moral asymetry of the Arab - Israeli conflict is reflected in a political asymetry in which 80% + of the Israeli populace would support the creation of a Palestinian state, provided it wouldn't be used as a forward operating base for terrorist operations against Israel. By contrast a similar majority of Palestinians supports blowing up restaurants and commuter buses in Tel Aviv, and demands a "right of return" that is shorthand for Israel's destruction.

Oh dear VOS, I thought for a moment you might be getting it. But you've fallen right back into party line.

Basically what your argiung is that there's no hope! No hope of ever reaching a solution.

That's a terribly sad and defeatist position to hold, especially since without change the future is pretty grim for Isreal.

The tragedy of the situation is that Arafat will not be able to accept any deal (assuming he even wants to) as the Palestinian constituency will not allow it.

So instead, Israel has more time to "create facts on the ground", expanding West Bank settlements, and creating the preconditions for yet more territory annexation. They don't even need to "negotiate", or "offer" a state to the PA. All they need to do is leave unilaterally.

It will then be up to the PA to make a mess of their own affairs.

Rex, it seems that your definition of "getting it" is to adopt a utopian position that is predicated on mere hope, without factual support. Sorry, but in a nasty neighbourhood like the Middle East that is a recipe for your own destruction.

Any peace worthy of the name must be based on mutual acceptance of the other by either party. The Israelis have shown such a willingness, but the Palestinians have not.

And, thus, peace will be a pipe dream until the Arabs genuinely accept the fact that Israel is there to stay.

Why is this point so difficult for you to understand?

Any peace worthy of the name must be based on mutual acceptance of the other by either party.

I agree.

And, thus, peace will be a pipe dream until the Arabs genuinely accept the fact that Israel is there to stay.

So what are you, and I mean you personally, doing to change their mind?

Rex:

I don't really think that there is much that I, or Israel can do. Conciliation and compromise have been tried and rejected by the Palestinians. I know of no magic wand that can change a nation's mind overnight.

I think all I, or Israel, can do is to hunker down defend ourselves and wait until such time as the Arabs stop being so bloody minded.

They are the ones who ultimately have to go through this mental metamorphosis. I don't believe it can be forced from outside.

I don't really think that there is much that I, or Israel can do.

That suggests a lack of will on your part. It seems to me that you've already made up your mind. You've crossed out conciliation and compromise as an option because it hasn't worked in the past, and your going to just dig in. You're going to go down with all guns blazing, and eventually, slowly, inevitably, you will go down.

Its not just the Arabs who have to go through a mental metamorphisis.

Well, Rex, perhaps you can give us a few tips on how to negotiate with people who send suicide bombers to blow up cafes. If you can come up with a foolproof method, I'm sure the Israelis would love to hear about it.

'Well, Rex, perhaps you can give us a few tips on how to negotiate with people who send suicide bombers to blow up cafes'

Getting off their fucking land might be a start.

VOS, The options are endless, Glenn points out just one. You've just got to free your mind of all the negative crap and hatred so that you can start seeing them.

VOS try this on for size: Try imagining what it might take for the Arabs to invite you to stay: Ask you friends, ask your Rabbi. That will generate a whole lot of ideas, some which may not have been thought of before.

Then maybe if you get confident enough, arrange to meet with a few Arab Australians, they won't shoot. Test your thinking. Get a dialogue happening, learn about trust.

Then try broadening the network here in Australia, invite the Isreali ambassador to sit in on a session to see where that leads.

The possibility is there. You only need the courage to explore it.

Ah, but Rex, I know what it would take. You see, I listen very carefully to what is being said on the other side.

And, the only thing that would satisfy them would be the eradication of Israel and its replacement by an Arab majority state. The overwhelming majority of Israelis reject this as a demand for their national suicide.

Sorry, but if your requirement for peace is that I should slit my own neck, then that is not a proccess in which I will participate. And, there's no reasonable reason why I should.

Would you go so far as your own annihilation to satisfy your enemy? What sort of "peace: is that?

Ah, but Rex, I know what it would take. You see, I listen very carefully to what is being said on the other side.

And, the only thing that would satisfy them would be the eradication of Israel and its replacement by an Arab majority state. The overwhelming majority of Israelis reject this as a demand for their national suicide.

Sorry, but if your requirement for peace is that I should slit my own neck, then that is not a proccess in which I will participate. And, there's no reasonable reason why I should.

Would you go so far as your own annihilation to satisfy your enemy? What sort of "peace: is that?

Glenn:

I've shown conclusively that it wasn't "their land" to begin with. But, that impeccable historical argument aside, Israel has existed for 56 years. There are three generations of Israeli Jews who were born there and know no other home. Where, precisely, would you like them to go?

And, don't you think that your demand that Israel should be destroyed Jews must pack up and leave isn't indicative of a certain Jewish issue that you have. You are a textbook example of why anti-Zionism is the functional equivalent of anti-Semitism.

Thank you Glenn. You are of tremendous assistance in making my argument. Atta boy! Keep at it!

You are conclusive only to other members of the choir. To the rest of us you are not even inconclusive. You are simply wrong.

And I'm not referring to Israel proper; I'm referring to the occupied territories. Though if you ask me in a few years I might have come around to the more extreme position. It might not seem so extreme after a few more years of Israeli brutality and racism. A few more years of you mad bastards putting the rest of us in danger. It can't go on forever you know.

Any nation, especially one created by fiat from the goodwill and sympathy of the rest of the world, has to earn it's stripes. If it's broke, eventually we'll get around to fixing it. And you lot will only have yourselves to blame. Oh you'll carry on a treat blaming the beastly Palestinians, but sensible people are aware that had a Palestine been imposed on a pr-existing Israel, your behaviour as an occupied people would lose nothing in comparison with theirs.

You are a hoot, Glen,

When in doubt, blame the Jews. I guess you didn't notice Osama Bin Laden's original bill of indictment against Australia, which had nothing to do with the Middle East conflict. According to that fatwa, Australia was on the hitlist on account of the henious crime of removing East Timor from the realm of the Islamic domain.

Ol Osama only opportunistically added Israel to the list of his complaints about 18 months after 9-11. But, then you have never been one to let the facts get in the way of your good old anti-Semitic biases.

VOS writes:
"The only thing that would satisfy them [the Palestinians] is the eradication of Israel and its replacement by an Arab majority state. The overwhelming majority of Israelis reject this as a demand for their national suicide."

It is oneside. All the fault lies with one side--the Palestians. The Israeli's are just defending themselves from the terrorists.

What is ignored or overlooked in this account of the Palestinians as barbaric terrorists is what the right of centre Likud Party actually stands for. We need to ask this because Likud is in the process of being captured by the right-wing religious and settler Zionists.

Here is an interpretation.

The Likud's rejection of Sharon's "disengagement plan" on 2 May implies that the party is no longer able, or even willing, to reach a genuine peace agreement with the Palestinians, based on the land-for-peace formula. That strategy resides in the dustbin of history.

The Likud vote that rejected Sharon's disengagement plan is a reaffirmation of Likud's ideology of the Greater Land of Israel The Likud has always rejected territorial compromise with the Palestinians. The ideology of Greater Israel implies that no Palestinian state will be established west of the River Jordan.

Their conception of peace with the Palestinians is a peace that would leave large parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in Israeli hands.

Vos, in suggesting that the majority of Israelis' go along with Likud,is implying that the right's current domination of the Israeli political landscape is a good thing.

The significance of this is that it effectively blocks the creation of a viable Palestinian nation-state that is unitary adn democratric. Since this will not be allowed by the Likud, that means resistance, resistance and more resistance by the Palestinians.

It always takes two to tango the cycle of violence.

Well VOS, I tried. I tried to get you to see that you can't expect the Arabs to change their point of view, if you personally are not prepared to at least consider the prospect of shifting yours. Why should they go to the trouble if its all too much for you?

So I think I'll now let you go back to your pointless list of facts. You clearly don't care enough about Isreal to get off your arse and do somthing about it. You're quite content to visit the blogs, vent your spleen and achieve nothing. In the end its only Isreal that loses, so no skin off my nose.

I might suggest though that you change your handle from "Voice of Sanity", to "Jewish and Truculent", that way everyone knows where your coming from straight up.

Gary:

Now where on earth did you ever pick up any contention of mine that the majority of Israelis support the vote of the Likud? Au contraire. The majority of Israelis would like nothing better than to give up all of Gaza and most of the WB if they could be confident that the Palestinians wouldn't turn their state into a forward operating base for further terrorist attacks.

You cite silly truisms like "it takes two to tango," and "cycle of violence," implying that there is a moral equivalence between the two sides. Sorry, but there isn't. Israel isn't pure as the driven snow, and it makes mistakes. But Israel doesn't deliberately kill enemy non-combatants, something that the Palestinians have turned into a national past time. If they don't do it, they certainly support it.

Why is it so difficult for you to distinguish between self-defence and the deliberate murder of civilians with malice aforethought?

Rex... and what you seem incapable of comprehending the fact that a "change of attitude" by Israel means nothing if the Palestinians will only use that alteration to try and kill more Jews?

In order for Israel to change its tune (something that it has shown a willingness to do) the Palestinans first must drop this fixation of theirs with the destruction of the Jewish state.

And, as long as we are engaged in the allocation of noms de plume, I think perhaps you would be suited to something along the lines of "factually disarmed and dangerous"

Let's face it...Israel needs to exsist in peace. Israelis always talk of peace with its neighbours in the region...
In practise, the only peace the Israelis want is a piece of Lebanon, piece of Syria & a big piece of Palestine.