Grab a glass and sit back, this is a long one.

Yesterday was Holocaust Rememberance Day in Israel and around the world. This is a day when those of us who wish to commemorate the victims of the Nazi genocidal machine in WWII stop what we do for some reflection and some consideration of those who were murdered or those who had their family and friends murdered and harmed by the Nazis. Approximately 11 million were killed by the Nazis, among whom the largest group were Jews. Anywhere from 5.3 to 6 million Jews were exterminated by the Nazis over a period of 6 years, begining with the death squads of the Einsatzgruppen who murdered about 1.5 million Jews over 18 months by going from village to village and town to town, rounding up Jews and shooting them in cold blood.

Although an exact figure will never be known, approximately 1,500,000 people were murdered by the Einsatzgruppen. The Einsatzgruppen submitted detailed and specific reports of their actions to their superiors both by radio and written communication; these reports were checked against each other for accuracy at Heydrich’s headquarters. According to those reports approximately 1,500,000 people were murdered. In evaluating this large number Justice Michael Musmanno, who presided at the trial of the Einsatzgruppen wrote:

One million human corpses is a concept too bizarre and too fantastical for normal mental comprehension. As suggested before, the mention of one million deaths produces no shock at all commensurate with its enormity because to the average brain one million is more a symbol than a quantitative measure. However, if one reads through the reports of the Einsatzgruppen and observes the small numbers getting larger, climbing into ten thousand, tens of thousands, a hundred thousand and beyond, then one can at last believe that this actually happened — the cold-blooded, premeditated killing of one million human beings.

Of course, the Final Solution, where the Nazis figured out how to commit genocide without this dirty, backbreaking work, but rather by using transports, death camps, gas chambers, slave labor and concentration camps was yet to come.

Contrary to the assertions of many on the Left and the far Right, Israel was not founded because of the Holocaust. Actually, Zionism was robust and active well before then. Even after the Holocaust, it took some years before those Jewish refugees who came over from Europe made their way to Israel. On the other hand, there were also quite a few Jewish refugees from Arab lands who made their way to Israel.

It suits the political purposes of many, however, to invoke the Holocaust both in praising Israel and in condemning it. It is not unusual to hear supporters of Palestinians complain “Why do the Palestinians have to be punished just because the Nazis murdered Jews in the Holocaust.” That is, that’s what they say when these supporters aren’t denying the Holocaust (see Mahmoud Abbas’s doctoral dissertation) or claiming the Jews caused it themselves (that’s the group that Jimmy Carter went to see, Hamas). It also suits Israeli politicians to evoke the idea of “never again” when rallying the people or when describing threats to Israel and its existence.

Yesterday in England, however, a special treat for all of us thinking about this day and its meaning was published in that lovely and biased anti-Israel newspaper, The Guardian. Signed by 100 Jewish people of some note the letter (here in bold) reads as follows – I will break it down with my comments interspersed:

In May, Jewish organisations will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. This is understandable in the context of centuries of persecution culminating in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, we are Jews who will not be celebrating. Surely it is now time to acknowledge the narrative of the other, the price paid by another people for European anti-semitism and Hitler’s genocidal policies. As Edward Said emphasised, what the Holocaust is to the Jews, the Naqba is to the Palestinians.

You will recognize the lie, not misperception, but, in my opinion, the outright misrepresentation of fact wherein Hitler’s genocide is the cause of Palestinian suffering. In other words, the Jews are sticking it to the Arabs because they were murdered by Nazis. To emphasize this, they quote Edward Said’s false assertion to make their point.

Dear Jewish Leftists of repute, please recognize that just because Edward Said said something, it doesn’t mean that it’s right or even true.

In fact, the Naqba is at its very worst similar to what happened to the Jews from Arab lands who had to leave everything behind and who became refugees, many of whom fled to Israel. There is one critical difference here as well however. Those Jewish refugees from Arab lands did not engage in a war against their countries or against anybody.

On the other hand, the Palestinians ended up suffering in a war which they launched together with other Arab nations after decades of attacking Jews in the Yishuv. And this 1948 war, by the way, wasn’t a friendly kind of war. This was a genocidal war:

“Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion.”
– Haj Amin al-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem
(Radio Berlin, March 1, 1944; quoted in Robert Wistrich, Muslim Anti-Semitism: A Clear and Present Danger [American Jewish Committee, 2002], p47)

“This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.”
– Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League
(BBC, May 15, 1948)

“If the Jewish state becomes a fact, and this is realized by the Arab peoples, they will drive the Jews who live in their midst into the sea… Even if we are beaten now in Palestine, we will never submit. We will never accept the Jewish state… But for politics, the Egyptian army alone, or volunteers of the Muslim Brotherhood, could have destroyed the Jews.”
– Hassan al-Banna, Muslim Brotherhood founder
(New York Times, August 2, 1948)

“In demanding the return of the Palestinian refugees the Arabs mean their return as masters, not slaves, or to put it more clearly – the intention is the extermination of Israel.”
– Salah al-Din, Egyptian Foreign Minister
(Al-Misri, Egypt, October 11, 1949; quoted in Harris O. Schoenberg, A Mandate for Terror: The United Nations and the PLO [Shapolsky Books, 1989], p239)

As evident, the rhetoric used by the Arabs was that of extermination and the tactics used, for example massacring all the members of most Israeli convoys that were captured, also indicated a desire to exterminate.

In April 1948, the same month as the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin and the mortar attack on Palestinian civilians in Haifa’s market square, Plan Dalet was put into operation. This authorised the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state. We will not be celebrating.

April 1948 came long after Arab attacks on Jews such as those that followed the Partition vote at the UN on November 29th, 1947. There were also attacks on Gush Etzion, on Cfar Szold, on Dan, on a convoy to Gush Etzion (all 35 men slaughtered), mass bombings on the Palestine Post and on Ben Yehuda Street (54 Jews murdered), Jewish Agency bombing, other convoy attacks and massacres such as at Mishmar Ha’Emek.

There were certainly many Jewish attacks on Arabs as well including some by the Irgun that can be called terrorism no less than the Arab attacks on Jews. In fact, the Haifa attack mentioned in the letter was launched by a group of Irgun members who threw bombs into a crowd of Arab workers at the shipyard, killing several. The remaining crowd of Arab workers turned back into the shipyard and proceeded to murder 41 Jews and injure many more. Strange how the letter by these enlightened even-handed Jews who simply seek everybody living side by side in peace misses this information.

As for Plan Dalet, the anti-Israelis like to claim that it’s some pre-ordained expulsion plan when it was primarily a defensive plan intended to scout out and be knowledgeable about which Palestinian villages were hostile and which weren’t, with plans to fight those that were belligerent and remove them if necessary. At the time Plan Dalet was launched, the Yishuv was gearing up to protect itself and was in the midst of a war of survival. Suggesting that in fact they were already planning on victory is simply a lie. Talk to most Israelis who were around back then (I have spoken to quite a few!) and they’ll tell you they were scared for their lives and the very destruction of the Jewish community.

There were, undeniably, expulsions of a portion of the Arab population just as there were many who left on their own or with the help of ARAB propaganda (as documented by the BBC, in fact). The expulsions were not part of pre-war planning but were the result of the inability of Israelis and Jews to lead normal lives in certain areas, as evidenced before and during the war. None of these would have taken place, however, had the Arabs not launched their war and if they didn’t take such brutal measures against Jews within the war.

Of course, there were also expulsions of ALL of the Jews from areas such as Gush Etzion (well, the Arabs just killed most of the Jews who remained there) and ALL of the Jews from east Jerusalem.

In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March. We will not be celebrating.

The number is between 35,000 and 50,000. It was an event that caused a lot of consternation within Israel but both Lod and Ramleh’s populations suffered primarily because their towns were strategically placed between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and had presented a clear threat during the war. This doesn’t excuse the manner of the expulsion or the death of a single non-military resident of these towns. The Israelis should have acted differently, even if expulsion was unavoidable.

In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians (Israeli citizens) were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating.

194 is NOT international law. It is a General Assembly resolution and is therefore merely advisory. To remind these sensitive British Jews, the Arabs rejected this resolution for many years, not Israel. Of course, now that it could harm Israel they try to invoke it in every agreement.

Even the assertion by this group that compensation would be an alternative is disputed by the facts. Israel agreed in 2000 and 2001 that in any peace deal, it would participate in providing compensation to the Palestinians. The figure provided was $30 billion.

Just as the Palestinians have a right to self-determination, so do the Israelis and the so called “right of return” undermines that right. In fact, if it were not for the Palestninians and Arab nations attacking in 1948, the entire premise of a “right of return” wouldn’t even be suggested. They attempted to eradicate the Jewish population, ensure that its right to self-determination would be destroyed and when the situation backfired on them, they put on the faces of victims. These British Jews who stand solidly behind this attempt to undo the losses in this war which were brought about by the Palestinians’ own violent behavior cannot pick and choose the historical facts that benefit their argument. They must consider all the facts and when one side launches a war, it must be prepared to assume the consequences.

Finally, these signatories to the letter would do well next time to include mention of the 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands who had to leave everything behind to flee to Israel.

We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land.

There would have been zero attacks on Arabs had there not been innumerable attacks on Jews throughout the decades prior to 1948. Jabotinsky and his line of thinking were born from this violence.

Some of these attacks by certain Jewish militias like the Irgun can be considered terrorism, in my opinion. It has to be mentioned, though (and this is far from excusing it), that the attacks were conducted in a war where terrorism was used against the Jewish Yishuv. There were some massacres committed by Jewish forces, primarily the right wing groups, but there were plenty of massacres and attacks by Arabs upon Jews. There was dispossession of Arabs from land that was theirs, their community’s or their landlords’ but there was also dispossession of Jews from their land. This was a war.

This was a war started by the Arabs with the intention of eradicating the Jewish yishuv and where both sides fought hard. One percent of the population of the Yishuv was killed – the equivalent of 3,000,000 people in today’s United States. Why is it that these British Palestinian sympathizers don’t mention the magnitude of the violence perpetrated against the Jews by the Arabs? Is it because the Arabs lost the war they launched? Apparently so.

Let’s read one of the “New Historians,” Avi Shlaim, whose publications were probably resources for this vile letter by the British Jews.

The first round of fighting, from 15 May until 11 June, was a critical period during which the fate of the newly-born Jewish state seemed to hang in the balance. During this period the Jewish community suffered heavy causalities, civilian as well as military; it reeled from the shock of contact with regular Arab armies; and it suffered an ordeal which left indelible marks on the national psyche. For the people who lived through this ordeal, the sense of being me’atim mul rabim, the few against the many, could not have been more real. During this period, the IDF was locked in a battle on all fronts, against the five invading armies. The IDF had numerical superiority in manpower over all the Arab expeditionary forces put together, but it suffered from a chronic weakness in firepower, a weakness that was not rectified until the arrival of illicit arms shipments from the Eastern bloc during the first truce. The sense of isolation and vulnerability was overwhelming. And it was during this relatively brief but deeply traumatic period that the collective Israeli memory of the 1948 War was formed.

It is interesting that Shlaim got this information by quoting another historian, Anita Shapira, who is considered an opponent of the “New Historians.” Apparently he had difficulty figuring out for himself that the Yishuv was reeling from the Arab attacks and truly fearful for its existence and for the lives of its members.

What the Shlaim quote provides is some sense of the desperation of the war. This was a brutal war, but its lines had been drawn by the Arabs in 1920, 1921, 1929, 1936-1939 attacks on Jewish communities and individuals. It appears that all the Palestinian sympathizers would like to erase the beginning of the violence, its nature, the rejection of compromise, the attacks intended to destroy the Yishuv and, of course, the terror, dispossession and massacres which were conducted by the Palestinians and other Arab armies.

We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing,

Of course, Israel vacated all of Gaza and left it entirely in Palestinian hands. It has watched the Palestinian population grown threefold since 1967 in the Territories and has a judiciary that has almost always protected the land rights of Palestinians. Accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing when the information I listed is openly available makes this group of British Jews either wacky, ignorant or fans of misrepresenting the truth.

that violates international law,

Arguable. Of course, the Hamas rocket launches against Israel and the Hizbullah attacks, the abuse of Israeli soldiers captured by these groups and the ongoing attempts to attack Israelis via bomb and gun are the real crimes here. Let’s remember that Israel would not be attacking Gaza at all were it not for the rocket attacks from Gaza.

We could have a debate about where “settlements” are in violation of international law, but we’ll leave that issue in the hands of historians.

that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza

Israel was out of Gaza. All that had to happen was some friendly or even merely cordial behavior by the leadership of Gaza and life would have become relatively normal. However, the democratically elected Hamas and other groups under their umbrella have instead been attacking Israeli civilian centers to ensure that the Israeli public, military and leadership want to retaliate. When people in Gaza die or get injured, or even simply have a hard life as refugees because of war, they can blame Israel but only after they blame their own leadership to a far greater degree.

and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations.

Well, they wouldn’t be doing any of this if the Palestinians had not launched waves of suicide and sniper attacks. And national aspirations were on the table in 2000 and 2001.

We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East.

Amen. I hope this group follows its own line of thinking to its logical conclusion and encourages the Arabs, especially the Palestinians, to compromise and reach a peaceful agreement with the Israelis – without challenging the Jewish right to self-determination in their homeland.

If these people seek justice, they should try pressuring the Arabs. Peace will follow soon thereafter.

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  • The British group heads down the path of comparing Jewish and Arab entitlement to victim status– a futile exercise, but one Middle mimics in his own fashion. Certainly we can say the Holocaust far outweighed what Palestinian Arabs endured. So what? What flows from that? We need to move on from this approach, because it gets us nowhere.

    Addressing/correcting the historical record is one of Middle’s strengths, but when he conflates the history of 47-48 with, say, Taba 2001, he helps keep us imprisoned in the charnel house of the past. The rights of a 12 year-old Palestinian refugee living in squalor in Lebanon have nothing to do with what happened sixty years ago. One might as well blame the privations of Latino illegals on the mistakes of Santa Anna in 1848.

    I understand that the pro-Palestinian viewpoint often rests on a one-sided treatment of the past, and that this should be addressed. Embracing the same method (with a different result) isn’t the way forward.

    The categorical statement that “none” of the expulsions of Arabs would have taken place absent Arab warmaking strikes me as prima facie highly implausible. Indeed, it’s admitted that certain strategic villages were evacuated. More to the point: wasn’t the creation of Israel, in essence, a zero-sum game? The Holocaust and resulting refugee crisis, the rapid unwinding of Western colonialism, Zionism and Arab opposition to it all brought the issue to a head in the late 40s: would the land between the Jordan and the sea contain a Jewish state, or not? And the Jewish state was not a state of all its citizens, on, say, the French model, right? This is a Jewish homeland. Middle implies that absent Arab warmaking, all the Arabs living in Israel could have stayed and– what?– enjoyed rights commensurate with Jews in shaping the new nation? This flies in the face of the essence of what occurred, the emergence of a Jewish state privileging Jewish citizens, Judaism, etc.

    If the Holocaust didn’t alone cause Israel, it surely shaped how the state came into existence– in particular, the urgency of settling dispossessed Jews from Europe and (later) Arab lands. Surely this had a transformative effect on Zionist thinking and strategy. The claims of Zionists and Arabs to the land of Israel were irreconcilable; and the repugnant Arab rhetoric quoted here shouldn’t numb us to the enduring human tragedy that is part of the history of that era.

  • Tom,

    The misinformation they provide has to be addressed. Ignoring it simply hastens the speed with which it becomes considered fact.

    I didn’t choose to write a letter comparing Palestinian “Naqba” to the Holocaust. This group did and if I “mimic” them, it is intentional because the comparison is reprehensible and needs to be challenged.

    The 12 year old Palestinian living in squalor in Lebanon is not a refugee. He is a Lebanese. Lebanon doesn’t want to address this and neither does the international community, but by the UN’s own standards every other group of refugees outside the Palestinians isn’t considered refugees past the first generation. Again, however, it isn’t me bringing it up, it’s the anti-Israel crowd seeking to establish as this letter clearly shows, that Israel’s existence is born in sin and therefore the cause for today’s troubles. This presentation must be challenged because it is precisely what leads to more war since the weaker side continues to dream that if it was original sin, it can be undone.

    You write:

    wasn’t the creation of Israel, in essence, a zero-sum game? The Holocaust and resulting refugee crisis, the rapid unwinding of Western colonialism, Zionism and Arab opposition to it all brought the issue to a head in the late 40s: would the land between the Jordan and the sea contain a Jewish state, or not? And the Jewish state was not a state of all its citizens, on, say, the French model, right? This is a Jewish homeland. Middle implies that absent Arab warmaking, all the Arabs living in Israel could have stayed and– what?– enjoyed rights commensurate with Jews in shaping the new nation?

    I’m sorry to disappoint you but I firmly believe that there would have been little or no dispossession of Arabs. There would have been voluntary transfer of people from both sides at the worst. And yes, there would have been a democratic Jewish state, defined as Jewish because it had a Jewish majority, and it would have rested on legally purchased land in those parts where land was owned by somebody, and legally acquired land where it wasn’t owned. Even Jabotinsky, the Right’s muse, sought a democratic state.

    I don’t suggest that the reality of the Arab hostility to both the British and the Jewish Yishuv didn’t force the Jewish community to consider that it might be impossible to create a nation without removing the Arabs from their midst. I think they thought about this. However, they played by the rules. When the Peel Commission and then the UN ruled separately and 10 years apart that the land should be divided so that both sides could enjoy self-determination, the Jewish Yishuv agreed. The anti-Israel crowd claims this was just a ruse, but they can’t ignore the simple and true fact that the Yishuv was willing to compromise and compromise if only to be able to establish its dream: a state.

    I repeat that democracy, legal land purchasing and a civil and just state would have been the end-result of the Zionist dream had it not been for the belligerence of the Arab population. Were the Arabs right to be belligerent? Not in my opinion. They were not being displaced violently and the manner in which the Jewish Yishuv went about acquiring land (for large sums) and working it or building cities and industry would be considered a fair, industrious and perfectly legal enterprise in any other context if the Arabs didn’t consider it to be a crime against them. Which it was not.

    The Holocaust influenced population growth, but only significantly once the British were out. By then Israel was embroiled in war. The point is that Israel wasn’t created or established because of the Holocaust and was prepared for this war regardless of the Holocaust. The conclusion of the Holocaust served to provide more people, but even then the British were successful in keeping most out of Israel. There was a brisk movement of refugees away from Israeli shores and on to Cypress.

    Finally, nobody is ignoring the terrible human tragedy that took place. Many Palestinians lost their homes and some even their lives. Many Jews lost their lives, and many lost their homes as well. This was a brutal war from both sides’ perspectives.

    To sit quietly, however, and watch these Jewish Brits conflate that war with what the Nazis did to the Jews in WWII, is unacceptable.

  • The way in which events unfolded in the late forties wasn’t exclusively a result of “Arab belligerence”, was it? Matters came to a head for a variety of reasons. You can’t ignore the Holocaust and its results. Israel was part of a broader historical canvas of post-colonialism which included the bloody emergence of Pakistan and Indonesia, among other states.

    The circumstances shaped Zionist strategy– you cite a gradualist Zionism (“legal land purchasing”) and the like which was overtaken by events. Something had to be done with Jews who were being sent back to camps in Europe.

    Philosphically my problem here is that asking, “[w]ere the Arabs right to be belligerent?” is the wrong question in 2008. Was the ANC “right” to kill Zulu apartheid collaborators? Were the Czechs “right” to expel Sudeten Germans? Is Chechen terrorism morally justifiable in light of Stalin’s expulsions in the 40s?

    I think we have to understand all these things, and treat both victims and perpetrators with a measure of compassion if possible. The how and why questions are more important to addressing today’s challenges than forming judgments about the dead. The limits of a right-wrong, legal-illegal, binding-advisory mindset are nicely shown by your insistence that my 12 year-old is Lebanese. Why not Jordanian, as Israeli rightists might argue?

    The reality is that Palestinians see themselves that way, and so does the rest of the world The reality is that Palestinians see themselves as aggrieved. Whether you subscribe to their grievances or not, this is a reality that must be accommodated. When your wife says she’s upset about something, I hope your response isn’t, ‘well, honey, objectively you have no right to be upset. Sorry.’

    Israel has to take its neighbors as it finds them. Stalin wanted to give Jews a chunk of Siberia. Perhaps that would have been easier. Instead, the Zionists, with no small naivete, bought the best house in a piss-poor neighborhood. No amount of contrafactual fantasizing and judgment-rendering will help. And don’t you see this is the mistake the leftists make– ignoring Israeli grievances about terror, Arab hostility, etc., because the Jews are, after all, at fault?

    If Middle wants to play defense, correcting the historical record, I’m all for it. To use history offensively– the poor Palis have only themselves to blame– this is a morally infirm outlook pretending to be the opposite.

  • Israel was no more part of a “broader historical canvas of post-colonialism” than Iraq or Jordan but they weren’t placed under siege by several hostile armies.

    My gradualist Zionism is brought to a head by violence. It’s that simple. The Arab revolt of 1936-1939 made the British want out and the Jewish attacks on the British in the late ’40s created urgency and a deadline for departure. Once the vacuum was about to be established, war was inevitable. I still don’t see the Holocaust as anything more than one aspect of many that created the situation.

    I’m not sure how I’m not treating the Palestinians with compassion. I REGRET that a single one was made to leave or left of their own volition. I REGRET that they are political ping pongs who are not allowed to lead normal lives in countries that have refused to absorb them. I WANT a Palestinian State living in peace next to Israel and even sharing Jerusalem and the holy sites. I’m extremely sympathetic to the harshness of Palestinian life in the West Bank and even Gaza and wish that Israel no longer controlled the former and that it could finally cut off all connection to the latter.

    As for my insistence that the boy is Lebanese, he simply is. He may be Palestinian-Lebanese if he wishes to identify culturally or even nationally as a Palestinian. However, he was born on Lebanese soil, has lived his entire life in Lebanon and is probably the grandson to a family that has been in Lebanon for 3 generations and 60 years. He is Lebanese. You want to call him Lebanese-Palestinian? Go ahead, no problem by me.

    Leave my wife out of this. When she’s upset about something I always say, “Well, sweetie, objectively you have no right to be upset. Sorry.”

    I reject your final comment. Seriously. I find it outrageous that history has been turned upside down to a degree where Israel was supposedly born in sin, that everything was premeditated and that it is the evil empire. This is absolutely false. These dreamers couldn’t even get a serious fraction of the world’s Jewish population to take their dream seriously. But that’s what they were: dreamers. The ideal of Zionism was a positive one. There were no guns or no intention to acquire guns until there were attacks on communities and individuals. The art, the poetry, the stories of early 20th Century Jewish Palestine all show a fondness for the Arabs and a view of them as the natural dwellers of the place. It was a romantic view and one that sought harmony. It was violence against Jews that changed this, Tom. It’s like my post for, the Yishuv became the mouse afraid of the next shock…but then the mouse decided to fend for itself by building a community, a series of militias and an infrastructure for a state in the form of communal government.

    There is nothing “morally infirm” in stating this, in seeing the importance of this vision as the driving force behind Zionism and the ultimate creation of Israel. There is nothing “morally infirm” in pointing out that the Arab reaction to even a minimal Jewish presence in their midst was violence. The reaction to compromise proposals was violence. The reaction to separation plans was violence. That’s what it was. And it’s not as if I excuse the Jewish terrorism of the era, I name it for what it was and I don’t defend it. I also don’t defend the manner in which some Palestinians wer expelled and also have doubts about some of the expulsions, though I understand some.

    I think my view is even-handed and moral. I think my view looks at the history and seeks to view both sides and their actions accurately and within context. My conclusions may not please you and may be diametrically opposed to some of what has become the conventional wisdom on the subject but that doesn’t make it immoral.

    You just don’t want to hear me saying it because in the context of the suffering of the Palestinians these many decades, to hear me come out and say, “They shouldn’t have started the war because the price they’re paying is the product of their actions” just seems to be mean. I’m not trying to be mean. That is my reading of what happened here. For god’s sake, the Yishuv was buying land at multiples in the triple digits of what it was worth. What more should they have done?

    Do me a favor and read Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

  • On the 29th November, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel; the General Assembly required the inhabitants of Eretz-Israel to take such steps as were necessary on their part for the implementation of that resolution. This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their State is irrevocable.

    This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.


    WE DECLARE that, with effect from the moment of the termination of the Mandate being tonight, the eve of Sabbath, the 6th Iyar, 5708 (15th May, 1948), until the establishment of the elected, regular authorities of the State in accordance with the Constitution which shall be adopted by the Elected Constituent Assembly not later than the 1st October 1948, the People’s Council shall act as a Provisional Council of State, and its executive organ, the People’s Administration, shall be the Provisional Government of the Jewish State, to be called “Israel”.

    THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

    THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel.

    WE APPEAL to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building-up of its State and to receive the State of Israel into the comity of nations.

    WE APPEAL – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.

    WE EXTEND our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.

    WE APPEAL to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration and upbuilding and to stand by them in the great struggle for the realization of the age-old dream – the redemption of Israel.

  • The moral infirmity is to impale the living upon the past. I can’t hold a jobless, bitter Palestinian with no assets and no prospects responsible for what his ancestors’ leaders did. It’s not, btw, my intention to attack Israel or Zionism in any way. I simply prefer to deal with the here-and-now without reference to arguments about the past.

    Cripes, Middle, I have to go to work…. But a Palestinian’s just read your post. He agrees with almost all of what you’ve written. The Israelis engaged in their own bad acts in what you call a “brutal” conflict, he thinks. However, the fact is that the Arabs rejected compromise and believed they could drive the Jews out in a fantasy of genocide. This was immoral, wrong. He wishes his ancestors had stayed in their village in Israel, but they did not. He sees and acknowledges Israel’s superior achievements in every intellectual and cultural measure; no Arab state has come close.

    The best and most moral solution, he thinks, is people living side by side with equal rights, sharing resources, building a future together– no violence, terror or incitement. This was the path not taken in 1948. But what was moral then is moral now. And so he proposes that he be allowed to return to his village in Israel, that he and his extended family and clan have an opportunity to reclaim their property, or be given like-kind land in exchange, or monetary compensation permitting them to buy land elsewhere in or near the village. He and his kin will embrace all of the benefits and burdens of Israeli citizenship.

    Call it the right of return if you want (he won’t insist on that), but, he asks, isn’t this a just approach that redresses Arab misdeeds of the past and permits Jew and Arab to share a peaceful, democratic future– what could, and should, have happened in 1948?

    What do you think?

  • …My Palestinian thanks you for the link, and reads with great interest para. 5 in your comment supra.

  • Tom, your friend can return to the new Palestine in the West Bank once he can get his government to agree to a true and permanent peace. That’s actually the most moral thing to do today because the Jewish and Palestinian rights to self-determination have not been dulled one bit since 1948.

    I have to work today. See you in a couple of days.

  • Middle, now that I know you won’t be around….

    My Palestinian wants to return to the status quo of ’48 and take Israel’s founders up on their offer in the Declaration of Independence. Be careful what you wish for. Treating history like Torah passages can have unintended results. Middle’s Enlightenment values underlie a very good case in favor of a right of return.

    For what it’s worth, I think Benny Morris’s approach on these issues is mostly on target. We have to deal with the proverbial facts on the ground. Morality and history are relevant but not dispositive. A right of return simply can’t be done.

    Israel’s founding and the neocon Iraq program have a lot in common. In both cases, substantial numbers of Arab stakeholders said, ‘no thanks.’ Are they wrong/immoral/worthy of condemnation? I don’t think so. I’d have taken Israel’s offer; the Arabs didn’t. They’re not Western, haven’t had an Enlightenment, lack self-governing experience, suffer poor leaders, and reject religious pluralism. I think our Western way is better, but so what?

    In 2008 as in 1948, the people of the region aren’t prepared to embrace our values. We can beat the Arabs up for that all we want, but in the end, Arab concerns will have to be addressed on terms they find acceptable, or there will be no end to conflict.

  • “I’ve got an extended weekend, and you chaps have got to work.

    How fair is that?”

    Froylein, (This is all in jest, so please try not to get too offended.) Productive people don’t sleep. 🙂 They don’t generally protest or strike either. How else do you think we built the best nation on earth in just a couple hundred years and pulled the rest of the world in the right direction as we did it?

    Fair is when people are rewarded for their hard work and rewarded by an equal value for that effort. You work more and most importantly, smarter, you earn more. Now, if we lived in a place with caps on both, we’d also take long weekends, more breaks and shorter hours. Or if I had to give away 50% of what I earned to the state to doll out to worthless losers, I’d also work as little as possible. Unfortunately, my government only steals just over 30% of my salary, so that’s why cash under the table side jobs are a wonderful thing. When I reach the top percentile of richest Americans, my government will take even more and I, along with the other richest 1% will pay 80% of the country’s taxes. And I’ll hear about how evil I am because I am enjoying my multiple homes and caviar while some street kid in Brazil starves because whomever pumped him out and the government responsible for his effect on their culture eluded their responsibilities.

    Yesterday was commemoration of the one of the dirtiest and most evil holidays the world has ever known: “International World Workers Day” or as I know it, “Dirty Commie Day”. In honor of that day, I’m working my usual 14 hr work day and all through the weekend so that someday, I can create jobs for workers to complain about.

    Barack “change” Obama wants to penalize and additionally tax the productive because he thinks it’s “fair”. Well, life isn’t fair and neither is theft. Only Barack plans to take it by force, as those rioting workers try to do. Fair is when a man or woman is responsible for their own destiny and not responsible for others’. Fair is when the state keeps its nose out of your life and allows you to progress and achieve, and as a byproduct of that, it earns enough to operate to keep you safe to achieve more. Fair is different for a lot of people, but to me, the fairest thing of all, is to decide what’s fair for me, myself. Have a great extended weekend! I do envy you for that!

  • Barack’s had a tough week, but hey, at least Hamas endorsed him.

  • “In 2008 as in 1948, the people of the region aren’t prepared to embrace our values. We can beat the Arabs up for that all we want, but in the end, Arab concerns will have to be addressed on terms they find acceptable, or there will be no end to conflict.”

    Are you saying we have to lower the bar for a certain segment of humanity because they lack the maturity or cultural evolution to come to terms that it’s 2008 and they haven’t moved an inch further since 1948? I believe it’s been tried a number of times and we keep falling for that folly. The ball is now in their court. The West should draw a line and say, “this is where the civilized world is, this is where you are, now catch up. Then we’ll talk about what you think is fair, but first you have to demonstrate that you understand the bare minimum requirement for living in the modern age. Lowering the bar for someone is the worst deed you can do for a person, it puts them in a constant state of slavery to their masters, and it provides no impetus for them to change. The West doing that now is akin to white liberals never allowing the minorities they claim to fight for, fight for themselves. If you want the Arab World to have the confidence, strength, and determination to control their own destiny, we need to treat them like adults, figuratively speaking of course.

  • Tom, didn’t you hear? The Rev Wright is really a Rovian tool or a Clintonite plant. He’s the insurance policy that the African American community’s leadership needs to prove how oppressed they are when he doesn’t get elected in AmeriKKKa. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

    I’m writing a song this weekend which uses the same meter and beat as the 80’s one hit wonder: “I think I’m turning Japanese”

    But mine is called, “I think Obama’s making me a racist”. Choice lines go:

    “I used to be a wigger, never ever used the word “n*****” and
    “I used to be down with Spike Lee, but now I’m hatin BLT” and
    “Am I a racist cuz I’m not a statist, I didn’t think so. But now I’m bitter and leanin on the trigger, cuz the gov ain’t helped so. I’m not elitist, my friends ain’t terrorists, but I think Obama’s making me a racist, I really think so..”

  • Sashka!

    The reason I’ve got an extended weekend is that there was a dual public holiday on Thursday (yon commie day plus Ascension Day, which is a public holiday in predominantly Catholic areas here; people likely wouldn’t care much, but it’s also Father’s Day, so that’s why it’s kept). When you make the top richest people in the US list, let me know, so I’ll be able to say mazel tov.

  • Alex– The answer to your question is no. What I’m saying is that, as long as, say, Yemenis stick to their knitting and don’t pose a threat to us as terrorist exporters, we have to respect their right to order their society as they see fit. It that means it’s an Islamic state, I wouldn’t like it but that’s up to them. In Iraq, we should promote our Western values for as long as we’re there– but it’s up to them to take advantage of the freedom we’ve given them. I don’t think we can impose results. We can give them an option and an opportunity, but that’s about it.

    Israel’s confronted with premodern cultures that have ill-adapted to Israel’s presence. Taken alone, that doesn’t require us to view Arabs as bad guys, I say, avoid the good guy-bad guy approach. Did we typical white persons stick it to the native Americans? Sure we did. Was slavery wrong? Of course. Would it solve anything to base policies on who did what to whom in the 17th century? No.

  • I’d like to start off by making sure Alex knows how big of a moron he is. I utilize the ad-hominem attack, because I don’t believe he’s worthy of actual debate. His above comments and blog are my articles of evidence for this belief. If you call working people dirty commies, don’t expect us to show you a modicum of respect in return.

    Now that unpleasantness is out of the way, I’d like to propose that revising history to set yourself up on the “right” side of history does not make you right. That both sides engage in this tactic is infuriating to me personally. I think what it comes down to is two groups of people unwilling to recognize each others narratives in any sort of positive way. We can see this in the claims by folks, even in the PA who try to de-judaify Jerusalem and by the folks who claim there are no such things as Palestinians or that Palestinians have no claim to land which they were dispossessed of.

    What i find particularly disheartening is that even though both sides committed grave errors historically, there can be no doubt that one side has been punished far worse than the other.

    The situation today for your average Palestinian is thus: Israel occupies territories that don’t belong to them in violation of international law. Furthermore, it continues to expand said occupation in addition to committing egregious acts of violence and/or discrimination against Arabs both outside and within its borders. End the occupation, end the belligerance, end the problem.

    The situation today for your average Pro-Israel voice is thus: The Palestinians are hell bent on the destruction of the Jewish people and act accordingly. Everything else is secondary because until this reality is changed, there will be no peace. Arab leadership is incapable of peace. Fix the Arab, fix the problem.

    Nationalism seems to be the disease for which we are unable to find the antidote. Mix that with a fundamental view of religious texts on both sides and you have a disastrous combination.

    Neither side is willing to confront the other sides reality in a meaningful way. The difference is, only one side has the United States and the EU firmly behind it.

  • “I’d like to start off by making sure Alex knows how big of a moron he is.”

    Well, thank you! Your opinion certainly means a lot to me. No, not really.

    “I utilize the ad-hominem attack, because I don’t believe he’s worthy of actual debate.”


    “His above comments and blog are my articles of evidence for this belief.”

    Thanks for visiting. I’ll make sure to set up some ads for you to click on next time you drop by. Who knows, you may even inspire me to post more often.

    “If you call working people dirty commies, don’t expect us to show you a modicum of respect in return.”

    First off, I don’t need nor desire your respect nor would it change anything if I had it. Second of all, I am a working person. I don’t believe in nor desire entitlements or hand-outs, so the only way I can survive in this world is through work and earning my own money. Third, I never, ever called working people “dirty commies”. Since you may have reading difficulties, I’ll reiterate what I said word for word, and you can address what I actually said versus what you thought or wanted me to say. Here’s what I said:

    “Yesterday was commemoration of the one of the dirtiest and most evil holidays the world has ever known: “International World Workers Day” or as I know it, “Dirty Commie Day”.”

    I know the concept may be lost on such a self-righteous internationalist like you, but there is nothing honorable about celebrating a day that glorifies collectivism, mediocrity, populism, and an overgrown sense of entitlement and self-importance amongst the “common man” or for the “common good”. While you may think average working people like you and me may make the world go round, the reality is that most of us can easily be replaced by machines, robots, new processes or documentation, and/or in many cases, with monkeys.

    Celebrating the “worker” or “cog in the machine” as they are known in your circles, deliberately omits the real heroes in our history; the men and women who’s ideas and commitment to actualize those ideas into inventions and creations, allowed us to escape the jungle and its brute force and operate in a free society where we can be rewarded for our work, and how much or how intelligently we work, at that. No, I’d rather us focus on the people who create the industries or inventions that necessitate workers, and not the other way around. Workers can usually easily be replaced. The men/women of ideas and action, the people who’ve made life bearable and provided jobs for the masses, usually can not. You can hate on, tax, rob, maim, kill, or try to control these people who have provided you the world you know, but at the end of the day, you’re only hurting your beloved workers of the future. There will always be more workers. I can’t say the same for producers.

    Your beloved Marxism has snuffed out the freedom and potential of too many people before me to have any respect for you, comrade. Consider the feeling mutual.

  • “Neither side is willing to confront the other sides reality in a meaningful way. The difference is, only one side has the United States and the EU firmly behind it.”

    Snooze… Alon… and I agree not one iota with Alex… so when I say snooze it really means snooze.

    “The situation today for your average Pro-Israel voice is thus: The Palestinians are hell bent on the destruction of the Jewish people and act accordingly. Everything else is secondary because until this reality is changed, there will be no peace. Arab leadership is incapable of peace. Fix the Arab, fix the problem.”

    The moment your wrote “average Pro-Israel voice” you lost any credibility. I know… it’s frustrating.

    And then there’s:

    “What i find particularly disheartening is that even though both sides committed grave errors historically, there can be no doubt that one side has been punished far worse than the other.”

    And Alex – “Barack “change” Obama wants to penalize and additionally tax the productive because he thinks it’s “fair”. Well, life isn’t fair and neither is theft. Only Barack plans to take it by force, as those rioting workers try to do.”

    The Joe McCarthy thing gets old. Even on the internet.

    Reminds me of the last family seder.

  • What do these Commies suggest Israel do about Gaza? Seriously…what is their suggestion? Do they even have any suggestions? Because I gotta tell ya…Gaza is a tough one…and while I don’t deny that things could and should have been done differently (like insisting Egypt take it in order to get the Sinai, and other ideas along that line of thinking), allow me to ridicule through gross understatement. The criticism is of the far-left is frequently not constructive. There, I said it.

  • If pointing out that Barack Obama is socialist with many Marxists in his circle and that he has a Robin Hood tax policy earns me the title of Joe McCarthy, then so be it. Communism isn’t a threat from the outside, it’s a disease that lies dormant in many people, and generally affects those hungry for power, who use populism as a path to achieve that power and nice sounding abstractions like “fair”, “change”, “hope”, “equal”, “the people”, “the greater good”, “need”, greed”, “society”, etc.

    Hey, Hillary is really no better. She talks about increasing taxes, dividing the wealth, imposing limits, taking back MY money as if its hers in the first place.

    Ever wonder why some of the most ardent Marxists; Obama, Clinton, Soros, Huffington, Zinn, Turner, etc., seem to have a lot more than their “fair share” of money and resources?

  • DK, the answer may’ve been suggested by Fareed Zakaria on Charlie Rose the other night– you talk to Hamas, it’s your enemy and you talk to your enemy, they need to be involved in any peace deal, they’re just another rejectionist faction of a broader national-liberation movement (see, e.g., the ANC, ETA, et al.)…. For Zakaria, this was a no-brainer.

  • “they’re just another rejectionist faction of a broader national-liberation movement “

    Jesus, he actually said that? What did Charlie Rose say?

  • Rose mentioned thst Hamas rejected Israel’s right to exist, and Zakaria said something like, some members of the ANC wanted to drive whites out of SA. Zakaria also criticized Arafat for not unifying the P national movement; he suggested that Israel/the quartet etc. had to react by including Hamas in negotiations.

  • Alex,

    You’re truly special, thank you for your last post.

    The fact that you don’t realize you’re slighting working class people by equating the workers of the world with dirty commies is a lasting monument to your “uniqueness”. And for the record, the day isn’t a glorification of any of the things you mentioned above; if it is a glorification of anything, it is of the advances won for the rights of workers by labor movements the world over. You can thank those “dirty commies” for the 8 hour work day later.

    Your grasp of Marxism and of Marxist critique of political economy is piss-poor at best. This is evidenced not only in your positively silly rant (In which you ironically make a number of Marxist arguments); but also in your false labeling of figures like Obama, Clinton, Soros, and Huffington as Marxists. You throw around the label Marxist in the pejorative having zero clue what Marxism IS. Educate yourself, Seriously.

    Ramon Marcos,

    Snooze? Did I make a fundamentally false assertion in recognizing the US and EU’s firm (some say unwavering) support of Israel? Or was it just a boring assertion, hence the narcoleptic fit?

    And what is wrong with the generalization “Average Pro-Israel Voice”? It’s the voice I hear in Shul, at Israel related events, on the internets, privately in conversation, etc. I’m open to hear your suggestions for improvement. Lord knows I don’t wish to lose my credibility….


    SHLOMO BEN-AMI: In 1948, what was born was a state, but also original superpower in many ways. We have prevailed over the invading Arab armies and the local population, which was practically evicted from Palestine, from the state of Israel, from what became the state of Israel, and this is how the refugee problem was born. Interestingly, the Arabs in 1948 lost a war that was, as far as they were concerned, lost already in 1936-1939, because they have fought against the British mandate and the Israeli or the Jewish Yishuv, the Jewish pre-state, and they were defeated then, so they came to the hour of trial in 1948 already as a defeated nation. That is, the War of 1948 was won already in 1936, and they had no chance to win the war in 1948. They were already a defeated nation when they faced the Israeli superpower that was emerging in that year.

  • What do you think about what Ben-Ami says? You disagree w/him?

  • I think he’s naive. I think that he’s wrong from an historical standpoint but even more to the point, he’s wrong about the perception by the two sides at the time about what was going on.

    If the Arabs had thought they were a “defeated nation” they would have agreed to the Partition Plan and they would not have attacked. They didn’t just attack, they made public speeches and broadcast to their population that they were going to clobber the Jews.

    On their end, the Jews were fighting for their lives and believed that they had to win or else die. They were far from confident, which proves that the public perception, the media and the leadership were all sending signals that reveal an opposite perception of reality that what Ben Ami is indicating 55 years later. He’s saying what he’s saying partly on the basis of the work done by Morris and Shlaim, but there are scholars who disagree with their conclusions and more to the point, neither one of them has had much if any access to Arab archives. As I understand things, Arab archives are not being made available to scholars in general.

    Now. Your point?

  • Anyone read Morris’s book on 1948 yet? It was favorably reviewed in the NYT and New Yorker this week (though I gather Morris is no dazzling stylist).

  • Morris is in a bit of a confused place these days. It’s clear that he has changed his mind about his approach to the conflict. At the same time, he can’t disown his previous work since it’s historical research and he made his name publishing it. There’s an article by Walt & Mearsheimer where they try to (mostly unsuccsessfully) refute criticism against their work on the “Lobby” and they spend a good amount to time on Morris because he criticized their scholarship. Their response amounts to showing how he contradicts his earlier work and conclusions. They basically challenge him to either repudiate his criticisms of them or to repudiate his earlier work.

    But yes, I’ve read both of the reviews you mentioned and they seem to agree that he has approached the conflict fairly objectively.

  • Well, he’s got this tome out now which one presumes is his latest, and maybe last, word on the subject (at least pending access to records in Arab countries).

  • “…terms they find acceptable…”

    Let us look INTO these words. INSIDE them.
    – There is no “terms” – Only the thoroughly, militarily, defeated talk about terms. “Terms” is a nonsense word. There are no “terms” in the other side’s thinking.
    – There is no “they” – who’s that? There are an infinity of shifting microdivisions.
    – There is no “acceptable” – Accept something? As in, do business? Not everybody wants to do business! Especially not with YOU. Actually, business is not the mentality, with anybody at all.

    Tom Morrissey, you mean well, but these words are just air. Your word “my” is curious. Just saying. With respect.

  • JM, I think Tom’s words convey a reality that is about to come whether and to what degree we like it or whatnot. I’ll spare you the etymology of the words “term” and “acceptable”, but they indeed have got a meaning, and indeed did Tom’s statement make sense. Also, the reference of “they” becomes clear in the context of his comment. With all due respect.

  • I was hitching these ordinary words to the context of a region which is very different from the West, where people live and think very differently, in spite of wearing the same jeans, and using cell phones and computers. Profound cultural differences are not always visible. You have yanked these words back into general usage, unhitching them from context. And, back into an unconsciously assumed Western reality, where people prefer life to death, are interested in “social change” and value airconditioning enough to be willing to have a female boss at work to have it.

    There are people who loathe social change, regard it as change for the worse, and are loyal to things as they have always been. Who are not interested in what you mean by peace or prosperity. They are interested social arrangements that have worked for them up to now, and which they know cannot endure tinkering or alteration, without being lost forever. I side with you. But I can see that they are far more realistic than you. I wish nobody any ill, respect everybody, and wish everybody could be happy. But my wishes do not change anything. Reality does not bow to my wishes – or yours or Tom Morrissey’s or anybody else’s. I waxed a little irritated because the same nonsense has failed so many times before. Please Googgle “greenhouses + Gaza” and look at the money some nice Jew wasted purchasing them, so other people could have jobs, and do business. Nothing left of the greenhouses but some torn plastic flapping in the desert wind. Not everybody thinks the same. It’s a guy thing. A guy of their kind, thing. “Endless conflict”. Don’t you realize some people have a use for that? It provides focus and unity. It is a test of manhood for them, and it has deep religious significance also.

    Froylein, speak to it, thou art a scholar. Have you read EARLY European history? Nobody does much these days. Me either.

  • Before we implore anyone to be sympathetic to the other side’s reality (which is usually a sensible course of action in any dispute), it’s important to take note of what the other side is actually saying. Plenty of people believe in some form of Intelligent Design, but I don’t see anyone seriously arguing that we must accept ID because it represents a “reality” to a growing number of people and is therefore deserving of more serious consideration. When Arafat claimed that the Temple had stood in Nablus, not Jerusalem, and tried to use that “reality” as a key sticking point in peace negotiations, should future talks have built around this point simply because it represented a “reality” for people who were dumb enough to believe it (or were misled into believing it)?

    The facts *do* matter, and it feels silly to have to point that out. Sure, a bunch of stuff happened decades ago, but no matter who did what to whom, both sides are in deep and have to figure a way out together. I just don’t see what Israel needs to take equal responsibility for the fallout for the lies that were told (and perpetuated) by its enemies.

  • “… both sides are in deep and have to figure a way OUT TOGETHER.” (emphasis added)

    Another intelligent, well-meaning voice. “Together” is not a word used by people who like things “not together”. Also, there is no “out,” because, from their point of view, everything is fine! The Niagras of money are flowing in normally, the leadership is in place, the masses are busily occupied being masses, and it’s a beautiful morning. What’s the problem? Is there any tea left?

  • Jewish Mother, you may be right about that part of the world. But notions that a nation/people/ethnic group are sui generis and can’t be dealt with except by force (which, after all, even dogs and pigs will respond to) have a lengthy, melancholy history.

    To take one local example: Justice Harlan, heroically dissenting in 1896 from the Supreme Court’s endorsement of segregation, also wrote: “There is a race so different from our own that we do not permit those belonging to it to become citizens of the United States. Persons belonging to it are, with few exceptions, absolutely excluded from our country. I allude to the Chinese race.”

    Of course, no people has suffered more that Jews from being consigned to the status of Other.

    Jewish Mother’s rather passive view that nothing can be done with the Arabs (Jordan? Egypt?) amounts to an endorsement of a status quo that Israelis and their leaders, in substantial and growing numbers, find unacceptable.

    Barry, I agree canards like Arafat’s aren’t to be ignored. But arguments about the past have dominated the debate on both sides, and with what result? We can agree with the British lefties who stack the deck one way, or Middle who comes close to stacking it the other, pronouncing who was right and wrong or moral and immoral or good and bad two-plus generations ago. This is a prescription for stalement.

    Barry’s right, this is not how disputes get resolved. I also think this amounts to fighting the PR war on pro-Palestinian terms. If we spend our time arguing over Israel’s right to exist and its actions in 1948, we lend credence to Israel’s enemies. I’ll go out on a limb and speculate that young US Jews and American Jews generally find this dynamic enervating. Arguments about the past usually are. They feed a sense of endlessness and stasis and estrangement.

    So, Jewish Mother: do we just run in place? Is that satisfactory?